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having put away, concerning faith have made shipwreck," 1 Tim. i. 18, 19.
Observe, 1. These men (such as Hymeneus and Alexan. der) had once the faith that purifies the heart, that produces a good conscience: this they once had, or they could not have put it away
Observe, 2. They made shipwreck of the faith, which necessarily implies the total and final loss of it. For a vessel once wrecked can never be recovered. It is totally and finally, lost.
And the Apostle himself, in his second epistle to Timothy, mentions one of these two as irrecoverably lost. “ Alexander, says he, did me much evil: The Lord shall reward him according to his works,” 2 Tim. iv. 14.
Therefore, one who is endued with the faith that purifies the heart, that produces a good conscience, may nevertheless so fall from God, as to perish everlastingly.
10. But how can this be reconciled with the words of our Lord, “He that believeth shall be saved ?"
Do you think these words mean, He that believeth at this
Ꭰ moment, shall certainly and inevitably be saved. If this interpretation be good, then by all the rules of speech, the other part of the sentence must mean, He that does not believe at this moment shall certainly and inevitably be damned. Therefore that interpretation cannot be good. The plain meaning then of the whole sentence is, He that believeth, if he continue in faith, shall be saved; he that believeth not, if he continue in unbelief, shall be damned.
11. “But does not Christ say elsewhere, “He that believeth, hath everlasting life?' John iii. 36. And. He that believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation, but is passed from death unto life?'” ch. v. ver. 24.
I answer, 1. The love of God is everlasting life. It is in substance the life of heaven. Now every one that believes, loves God; and therefore hath everlasting life. 2. Every one that believes is therefore passed from death,
spiritual death, unto life; and, 3. Shall not come into condemnation, if he endureth in the faith unto the end : accord ing to our Lord's own words, “He that endureth to the end, shall be saved:” and, “Verily I say unto you,
a man keep my saying, he shall never see death,” John viii. 51.
12. Thirdly, Those who are grafted into the good olivetree, the spiritual, invisible church, may nevertheless 80 fall from God, as to perish everlastingly. For thus saith the apostle, “Some of the branches are broken off, and thou art grafted in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive-tree. Be not high-minded, but fear: if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he spare not thee. Behold the goodness and severity of God! on them which fell severity; but toward thee good. ness,
if thou continue in his goodness; otherwise thou shalt be cut off," Rom. xi. 20-22. We may observe here, 1. The persons spoken to, were actually grafted into the olive-tree.
2. This olive-tree is not barely the outward, visible church; but the invisible, consisting of holy believers. So the text: “ If the first fruit be holy, the lump is holy; and if the root be holy, so are the branches. And because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith."
3. These holy believers were still liable to be cut off from the invisible church, into which they were then grafted :
4. Here is not the least intimation of those who were so cut off, being ever grafted in again. Therefore, those who are grafted into the good Olive-tree, the spiritual, invisible church, may nevertheless so fall from God, as to perish everlastingly.
13. “ But how does this agree with the 29th verse, 'The gifts and calling of God are without repentance ?!"
The preceding verse shews: “ As touching the election," (the unconditional election of the Jewish nation,) “they are beloved for the father's sake :" for the sake of their forefathers. It follows, (in proof of this, that they are
beloved for the father's sake,”) that God has still blessings in store for the Jewish nation, " For the gifts and callings of God are without repentance:” for God doth not repent of any blessings he hath given them, or any privileges he hath called them to. The words here referred to, were originally spoken with a peculiar regard to these national blessings. « God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man that he should repent,” Numb. xxiii. 19.
14. “But do not you hereby make God changeable ?” Whereas 6 with him is no variableness, neither shadow of turning ?" By no means. God is unchangeably holy. Therefore he always loveth righteousness and hateth iniquity. He is unchangeably good. Therefore he pardoneth all that “repent and believe the gospel.". And he is unchangeably just; therefore he “ rewardeth every man aca cording to his works.” But all this hinders not his resist ing, when they are proud, those to whom he gave grace when they were humble. Nay, bis unchangeableness itself requires, that if they grow high-minded, God should cut them off: that there should be a proportionable change, in all the divine dispensations toward them,
15. 64 But how then is God faithful ?" I answer, in ful. filling every promise which he hath made, to all to whom it is made, all who fulfil the condition of that promise. More particularly, 1st, “ God is faithful, in that he will not suffer you to be tempted above that you are able to bear," 1 Cor. x. 13. 2d, “ The Lord is faithful, to establish and keep you from evil," 2 Thess. iii. 2. (if you put your trust in him,) from all the evil which you might otherwise suffer, through “ unreasonable and wicked men.” 3.“Quench not the Spirit; hold fast that which is good; abstain from all appearance of evil:” and your “whole spirit, soul, and body, shall be preserved blameless, unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is he who calleth you, who also will do it,” 1 Thess. v. 19, &c. 4. Be not disobedient unto the heavenly calling; and “God is faithful by whom ye were called, to confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless, in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ," 1 Cor.
i. 8, 9. Yet, notwithstanding all this, unless you fulfil the condition, you cannot attain the promise.
" Nay, but are not all the promises yea and amen?'” They are. They are firm as the pillars of heaven. Per. form the condition: and the promise is sure.
“ Believe, and thou shalt be saved."
“But many promises are absolute and unconditional." In many, the condition is not expressed. But this does not prove, there is none implied. No promises can be expressed, in a more absolute form, than those above cited from the 89th Psalm. And yet we have seen, a condition was implied even there, though none was expressed.
16. - But there is no condition either expressed or 'ima plied, in those words of St. Paul, 'I am persuaded that
i neither death, nor life, nor height, nor depth, nor any crea ture, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord,' ” Rom. viii. 38, 39.
Suppose there is not, (which will bear a dispute,) yet what will this prove?' Just thus much, that the apostle was at that time'fully persuaded of his own perseverance. And I doubt not, but many believers at this day, have the very same persuasion; "termed in Scripture, “the full assurance
6 of hope.” But this does not prove, that every believer shall persevere: any more than that every believer is thus fully persuaded of his perseverance.
IV. 17. Fourthly, those who are branches of the true Vine, of whom Christ says, “I am the Vine, ye are the branches,” may nevertheless so fall from God, as to perish everlastingly.
For thus saith our blessed Lord himself, "I am the true Vine, and my Father is the Husbandman. Every branch ią me that beareth not fruit, he taketh it away.” “I am the Vine, ye are the branehes. If a man abide not in me,
, he is cast forth as a branch and is withered, and men gather them and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.”
Here we may observe, 1. The persons spoken of, were in Christ, branches of the true Vine.
2. Some of these branches abide not in Christ, but the Father taketh them away;
3. The branches which abide not, are cast forth, cast out from Christ and his church :
4. They are not only cast forth but wilhered; consequently never grafted in again. Nay,
5. They are not only cast forth and withered, but also cast into the fire. And,
6. They are burned. It is not possible for words more strongly to declare, that even those who are now branches in the true Vine, may yet so fall, as to perish everlastipgly.
18. By this. clear, indisputable declaration of our Lord, we may interpret those that might be otherwise liable to dispute : wherein it is certain, whatever he meant beside, he did not mean to contradict himself. For example, "This, is the Father's will, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing,”: Most sure; all that God hath given him, or, (as it is expressed in the next verse,)“ every one who believeth on him," viz. to the end, he “will raise up at the last day," to reign with him for ever.
Again, “I am the living bread, If any man eat of this bread, (by faith) he shall live for: eyer,” ver. 51. True; if he continue to eat thereof. And who can doubt of it?
Again, “ My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. And I give unto them eternal life; and
; they shall never perish, neither shall any pluck them out of my hand,” John X. 27-29.
In the preceding text, the condition is only implied. In this it is plainly expressed. They are my sheep, that hear my coicé, that follow me in all holiness. . And, ye
do these things, ye shall never fall." None shall “ pluck you out of my hands."
Again, “Having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end," John xiii. 1. Having loved his own, namely the apostles, (as the very next words,