ETERNAL SECURITY by A.W. Pink


ETERNAL SECURITY
by A.W. Pink

FOREWORD
Eternal Security is the teaching that God shall with no uncertainty bring
into their eternal inheritance those who are actually justified—delivered
from the curse of the law and have the righteousness of Christ reckoned to
their account—and who have been begotten by the Spirit of God. And
further it is the teaching that God shall do this in a way glorifying to
Himself, in harmony with His nature and consistent with the teaching of
Scripture concerning the nature of those who are called saints. Why is this
important? Why is it important for every Christian to know that once God
has taken him for His own, He will never let him go? Arthur W. Pink gives
many reasons for this in this book on Eternal Security. For one thing, it is
necessary in order to strengthen young and fearful Christians in their
faith—by safeguarding the honor and integrity of God and His Word. And
it is also necessary in order to preserve one of the grand and distinctive
blessings of the Gospel, which to deny is to attack the very foundations of
the believer’s comfort and assurance.
But let the reader be warned right from the start. Those who think that
they are opposed to what Pink finds in Scripture may be surprised to find
themselves agreeing with him. And those on the other side may find that
Pink has gone way beyond the mere statement and proof of a doctrine to
implications that they may have to accept for their own lives. The author is
no shallow student of the Word, but asks us to follow Out its teaching so
as to relate it properly to God’s scheme of things.
It is important for the reader to avoid wrong impressions as he begins to
read. The book has been titled Eternal Security because today that is the
name given to the doctrine dealt with in this book. But historically the
doctrine was called Perseverance of the Saints, and Pink himself preferred
that title. But whether it is called Eternal Security or Perseverance of the
Saints, it is the same doctrine that has been held down through the years.
We must not take issue with him because at some points he used different
words from what we are accustomed to..3
As he begins, the reader may also mistakenly get the impression that Pink
is arguing against Eternal Security at the same time he claims to be for it.
We assure the reader that this is not so. Pink is not attempting to
undermine this doctrine through trickery, not in the least. If then he doesn’t
seem clear, we ask the reader to be patient and give him a chance to
explain himself (esp. in chap. 7). We, as Pink did, should realize that many
doctrines of Scripture cannot be fairly stated as simple slogans. Eternal
Security is one of these. Let us endeavor to study out this doctrine to its
final conclusion since it is so important to our welfare as we walk the
Christian life.
It may help to know that Pink originally came out from a group of rather
sectarian hyper-Calvinistic Baptists in England. He clearly reacted strongly
to some of their distinctive tenets. This is especially true of their
Antinomian tendencies, in which they inclined toward the view that since
all of man’s actions and circumstances are predestined, a Christian need not
bother with his responsibilities—God will bring all that is needed into his
life so that he will automatically be directed to do what He wants.
But though he rejected this kind of thinking very strongly (Pink’s book
Practical Christianity gives a very helpful, balanced view), he did not
overreact. He remained unashamedly Calvinistic. Yet it was his desire to
avoid all lopsidedness, and it is for that reason that he may truly be said to
be of value to all. No matter what he wrote on, he gave careful
consideration to all who in any way try to base their view on Scripture.
Pink was unusually thorough in his writings. One can read dozens of books
by other writers on a subject and find that questions have been left
unanswered by them all. Not so with Pink. It rarely happens that he will
not deal with a pressing question. He decried superficiality and
compromise. The result was a full but practical treatment of each subject
he wrote on.
Yet he did not get bogged down in philosophical theology. Pink was first
and foremost a careful expositor of Scripture, and this carried over in his
handling of doctrine. He did not quote a text of Scripture and leave it up to
the reader to make the connections. Rather, he usually took the time to
deal with it positively, relating each part to the subject and establishing
beyond question that the particular Scripture applies. He was also a master
in showing the meaning of a text of Scripture by a careful consideration of
its context. Time after time he demonstrates in this way that it cannot mean.4
what some have claimed. Thus he avoids the proof-text method of
developing a doctrine. The reader will see this for himself in this book.
Eternal Security is a doctrine that complements and completes other truths.
It is the truth which establishes a Christian in assurance of salvation. The
doctrine of election in itself cannot do this. Justification cannot do this. The
doctrine of sanctification cannot do this. Not even the doctrine of
glorification does so. Yet each of these is incomplete without Eternal
Security. Election, Justification, Sanctification, and Glorification are all
hypothetical—mere possibilities—until Eternal Security complements and
completes them by showing how they are applied to specific individuals.
And it is also practical because it brings believers to assurance of salvation,
which according to many Scripture passages they are to have.
There is, however, the possibility of self-deception. Assurance of salvation
must be based on a right understanding of what God’s Word teaches
concerning Eternal Security. D. L. Moody told a story that illustrates the
danger. A drunk stopped Moody one time and said, “Don’t you remember
me? I’m the man you saved here two years ago.” “Well,” said Moody, “it
must have been me, because the Lord certainly didn’t do it.” Too many are
“saved” by men, and not saved by God. In other words, one can have
assurance of salvation — like the drunk —without being saved. We must
contend for Eternal Security for those who are really saved — who are
born anew, and have been changed within. This is what Arthur W. Pink
explains so well in this book.
The material for this book was taken from a series of 34 articles in Pink’s
Studies in the Scriptures (Vols. 21-23), written under the title “The Saint’s
Perseverance,” and first published as a separate book under that title in
1972..5
CHAPTER 1
INTRODUCTION
In previous volumes we have expounded at some length (though not in this
precise order) the great truths of Divine Election or Predestination unto
salvation; the Atonement or perfect Satisfaction which Christ rendered
unto the Law on behalf of His people; fallen man’s total impotency unto
good; the miracle of Regeneration, whereby the elect (who are born into
this world dead in trespasses and sins) are quickened into newness of life;
Justification by faith, whereby the believing sinner is delivered from the
curse of the Law, the righteousness of Christ being reckoned to his
account; the believer’s Sanctification, whereby he is set apart unto God,
constituted a temple of the Holy Spirit, delivered from the reigning power
of sin, and made meet for Heaven. It is therefore fitting that we should now
take up the complementary and completing truth of the final perseverance
of the saints, or the infrustrable certainty of their entrance into the
Inheritance purchased for them by Christ and unto which they have been
begotten by the Spirit.
This blessed subject has been an occasion for fierce strife in the theological
world, and nowhere is the breach between Calvinists and Arminians more
apparent than in their diverse views of this doctrine. The former regard it
as the very salt of the covenant, as one of the principal mercies purchased
by the redemption of Christ, as one of the richest jewels which adorns the
Gospel’s crown, as one of the choicest cordials for the reviving of fainting
saints, as one of the greatest incentives to practical holiness. But with the
latter it is the very reverse. Arminians regard this doctrine as an invention
of the Devil, as highly dishonoring to God, as a poisoning of the Gospel
fountain, as giving license to self-indulgence and being subversive of all
real piety. In this instance it is impossible to seek a golden mean between
two extremes, for one party must be extremely right and the other
extremely wrong.
While we have no doubt whatever in which of those two camps the truth is
to be found, yet we are far from allowing that Calvinists have always
presented this doctrine in its Scriptural proportions; yea it is our firm
conviction that during the last two or three generations especially it has.6
been dealt with by many novices in such a manner as to do far more evil
than good. Large numbers of men have contended for the “Security of the
Saints” in such a crude and lopsided way that not a few godly souls were
stumbled, and in their revolt against such extremism supposed their only
safeguard was to reject the whole subject in toto. Such a course was
wrong: if some amateur would-be-bakers turn out uneatable loaves, that is
no reason why I should henceforth decline all bread—I should be the loser
if I acted so radically.
We have no sympathy whatever with the bald and unqualified declaration
“Once saved always saved.” In a publication issued by a widely-known
“Bible Institute” appears the following. “I went to the death cell of that
condemned man in prison a few days ago. I went to tell him of a pardon
from my King. I had no right to offer him a pardon from the state… but I
could tell him of the One who took his place on Calvary’s cross, offering
eternal redemption from the penalty of sin, so that he could be justified
before the ‘Judge of all the earth’ in the court of heaven, for all the endless
ages. Thank God! I found that man clear on the plan of salvation, for years
ago under the ministry of he had accepted Jesus as his personal Savior. But
through the years he had grown cold and indifferent: he had lost his
fellowship with his Lord, not his salvation. And the result was a life of sin.
It took an awful experience to turn him from his self-willed way; but as I
talked with him in his prison cell, I was convinced that he was born again
and repentant for his crime.”
While it lies entirely outside our province to form any judgment as to the
eternal destiny of that murderer, yet a few comments on the preacher’s
account of the above incident seem to be called for. What impression is
likely to be made on the mind of the average light-headed professor by the
reading of such a case? What effect is it calculated to produce upon those
church members who are walking arm in arm with the world? First, we are
told that this murderer was “clear on the plan of salvation”: so also is the
Devil, but what does such mental knowledge avail him! Next it is said that
years before this condemned man “had accepted Jesus as his personal
Savior” under the ministry of a certain well-known “Revivalist.” But before
any soul can receive Christ as Savior, he must first throw down the
weapons of his rebellion, repent of his sins, and surrender to Christ as
Lord..7
The Savior is the Holy One of God, who saves His people “from their sins”
(

Matthew 1:21) and not in their sins: who saves them from the love
and dominion of their sins. How different was the preaching of Spurgeon
from that of the cheapjack “evangelists” who have followed him. Said he,
“Go not to God and ask for mercy with sin in thy hand. What
would you think of the rebel who appeared before the face of his
sovereign and asked for pardon with the dagger sticking in his belt
and with the declaration of his rebellion on his breast? Surely he
would deserve double doom for thus mocking his monarch while he
pretended to be seeking mercy. If a wife has forsaken her husband
do you think she would have the impudence, with brazen forehead,
to come back and ask his pardon leaning on the arm of her
paramour? Yet so it is with you—perhaps asking for mercy and
going on in sin—praying to be reconciled to God and yet harboring
and indulging your lusts… cast away your sin or He cannot hear
you. If you lift up unholy hands with a lie in your right hand, prayer
is worthless on your lips” (C.H.S., 1860).
Returning to the above incident. This preacher declares of the man in the
condemned cell, “But through the years he had grown cold and indifferent:
he had lost his fellowship with his Lord, not his salvation, and the result
was a life of sin.” Such a statement is a flat contradiction in terms.
Salvation and sin are opposites.
“If any man be in Christ he is a new creature: old things are passed
away, behold all things are become new” (

2 Corinthians 5:17).
Divine salvation is a supernatural work which produces supernatural
effects. It is a miracle of grace which causes the wilderness to blossom as
the rose. It is known by its fruits. It is a lie to call a tree good if it bears evil
fruit. Justification is evidenced by sanctification. The new birth is made
manifest by a new life. Where one makes a profession of being saved and
then follows it with “a life of sin” it is a case of
“the dog turning again to his vomit and the washed sow to her
wallowing in the mire” (

2 Peter 2:22).
Before dismissing this case a word should be said upon the preacher’s
statement “I could tell him of the One who took his place on Calvary’s
cross” which occurs, be it noted, at the beginning of the narrative. Surely
the first thing to press upon a murderer would be the awfulness of his.8
condition: to remind him that he had not only grievously wronged a fellow-creature,
but had sinned against the Holy One; to faithfully set before him
the solemn fact that in a few days he would have to appear before the
Divine Judge. Then he could speak of the amazing grace of God which had
provided a Savior for sinners, even the very chief of sinners, and that He is
freely offered to all by the Gospel, on the terms of repentance and faith.
But the Scriptures nowhere warrant us to tell any indifferent, impenitent
sinner that Christ ‘took his place on the cross”: the substitutionary work of
Christ is a truth for the comfort of believers and not a sop for unbelievers.
O the ignorance and confusion now obtaining in Christendom.
In the N.T. the salvation of God is presented under three tenses: past,
present and future. As a work “begun” (

Philippians 1:6), but not
completed in a moment of time. “Who hath saved us” (

2 Timothy 1:9),
“work out your own salvation with fear and trembling”
(

Philippians 2:12),
“now is our salvation nearer than when we believed”
(

Romans 13:11).
These verses do not refer to three different salvations, but to three distinct
phases and stages of salvation: salvation as an accomplished fact, as a
present process, and as a future prospect. First, God saves from the
pleasure of sin, causing the heart to loathe what it formerly loved. That
which is displeasing to God is made bitter to the soul, and sin becomes its
greatest grief and burden. Next, faith is communicated by the Spirit and the
penitent sinner is enabled to believe the Gospel, and thereby he is saved
from the penalty of sin. Then it is he enters upon the Christian life, wherein
he is called upon to “fight the good fight of faith”, for there are enemies
both within and without which seek to bring about his destruction.
For that “fight” God has provided adequate armor (

Ephesians 6:11),
which the Christian is bidden to take unto himself. For that fight he is
furnished with effective weapons, but these he must make good use of. For
that fight spiritual strength is available (

2 Timothy 2:1), yet it has to be
diligently and trustfully sought. It is in this fight, a lifelong process, a
conflict in which no furloughs are granted, the Christian is being saved
from the power of sin. In it he receives many wounds, but he betakes
himself to the great Physician for healing. In it he is often cast down, but by.9
grace he is enabled to rise again. Finally, he shall be saved from the
presence of sin, for at death the believer is for ever rid of his evil nature.
Now it is that third aspect of salvation which concerns us in this present
series of articles, namely, the believer’s perseverance: his perseverance in
the fight of faith. The doctrine which is to be before us relates to the
Christian’s being saved from the power of indwelling sin during the interval
which elapses between his being saved from its penalty and the moment
when he will be saved from its presence. Between his being saved from
Hell and his actual entrance into Heaven he needs saving from himself,
saving from this evil world in which he is still left, saving from the devil
who as a roaring lion goes about seeking whom he may devour. The
journey from Egypt to Canaan lies not for the most part through green
pastures and by the still waters but across an and desert with all its trials
and testings, and few who left that House of Bondage reached the Land of
milk and honey: the great majority fell in the wilderness through their
unbelief—types of numerous professors who begin well but fail to endure
unto the end. There are multitudes in Christendom to-day deluded with the
idea that a mere historical faith in the Gospel ensures their reaching
Heaven: who verily suppose they have “received Christ as their personal
Savior” simply because they believe that He died on the cross as an atoning
sacrifice for the sins of all those who repudiate their own righteousness and
trust in Him. They imagine that if under the influence of religious emotion
and the pressing appeals of an evangelist, and assured that “

John 3:16
means what it says”, they were persuaded to “become Christians”, that
therefore all is now well with them: that having obtained a ticket for Glory
they may, like passengers on a train, relax and go to sleep, confident that in
due time they shall arrive at their desired destination. By such deceptions
Satan chloroforms myriads into Hell. So widespread is this deadly delusion
that one who undertakes to expose its sophistry is certain to be regarded
by many as a heretic.
The Christian life commences amid the throes of the new birth, under acute
travail of soul. When the Spirit of God begins His work in the heart
conscience is convicted, the terrors of the Law are felt, the wrath of a sin-hating
God becomes real. As the requirements of Divine holiness begin to
be apprehended the soul, so long accustomed to having its own way,
“kicks against the pricks,” and only in the day of God’s power is it “made
willing” (

Psalm 110:3) to take the yoke of Christ upon it. And then it
is that the young believer, conscious of the plague of his own heart, fearful.10
of his own weakness and instability, aware of the enmity of the Devil
against him, anxiously cries out, How shall I be able to keep from
drowning in such a world as this? what provision has God made that I shall
not perish on my way to everlasting bliss? The Lord has done great things
for me, whereof I am glad; but unless He continues to exert His sovereign
power on my behalf, I shall be lost.
Moreover, as the young Christian holds on his way he observes how many
of those who took up a Christian profession walk no more in the paths of
righteousness, having returned to the world. This stumbles him and makes
him ask, Shall I also make shipwreck of the faith? Ah, none stand more
sure and safe than those who feel they cannot stand, whose cry is “Hold
Thou me up, and I shall be safe” (

Psalm 119:117). “Happy is the man
who feareth always” (

Proverbs 28:14). Happy the soul who is
possessed of that holy fear which drives him to the Lord, keeps him vile in
his own eyes and causes him to ever depend upon the promise and grace of
a faithful God, which makes him rejoice with trembling, and tremble with
hope.
In the case which we have just supposed—and it is one which is true to
life—we discover an additional reason for taking up the present subject. It
is necessary that the young and fearing Christian should be further
strengthened in the faith, that he should be informed the good Shepherd
does not leave His lambs undefended in the midst of wolves, that full
provision is made for their safety. Yet it is at this stage especially that
heavenly wisdom is needed by the instructor if he is to be of real help. On
the one hand he must be careful not to cast pearls before swine, and on the
other he must not be deterred from giving to the children of God their
rightful and needful Bread. If he must be on his guard against ministering
unlawful comfort to carnal professors, he must also see to it that legitimate
comforts and cordials are not withheld from saints with feeble knees and
whose hands hang down because of their discouragements.
Each of the dangers we have alluded to will be avoided by due attention unto
the terms of our theme and an amplification thereof. It is the final perseverance
of the saints we shall write about, the enduring of those who have been washed
in the blood of the Lamb and not those who have been whitewashed by self-reformation.
It is the final perseverance of saints along the Narrow Way, along
the paths of righteousness. It is their perseverance in the fight of faith and the
performance of obedience. The Word of God nowhere teaches that once a man.11
is born again he may give free rein to the lusts of the flesh and be as worldly as
he pleases, yet still be sure of getting to Heaven. Instead, Scripture says, and
the words are addressed to believers,
“For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die” (

Romans 8:13).
No, if a man is born again he will desire, purpose and endeavor to live as
becometh a child of God.
There has been some deliberation in our mind as to which is the better title
for this doctrine: the preservation or the perseverance of the saints. At first
sight the former seems preferable, as being more honoring to God,
throwing the emphasis on His keeping power. Yet further reflection will
show that such preferableness is more seeming than real. We prefer the
latter because rightly understood it includes the former, while at the same
time pressing the believer’s responsibility. Moreover, we believe, it to be
more in accord with the general tenor of Scripture. The saints are “kept by
the power of God through faith” (

1 Peter 1:5). He does not deal with
them as unaccountable automatons, but as moral agents, just as their
natural life is maintained through their use of means and by their avoidance
of that which is inimical to their wellbeing, so it is with the maintenance
and preservation of their spiritual lives.
God preserves His people in this world through their perseverance—their
use of means and avoidance of what is destructive. We do not mean for a
moment that the everlasting purpose of the Most High is made contingent
on the actions of the creature. The saints’ perseverance is a Divine gift, as
truly as is health and strength of body. The two sides of this truth, the
Divine and the human, are brought together in
“work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God
which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure”
(

Philippians 2:12, 13):
it is God who works in the believer both the desire and performance in
using the means, so that all ground for boasting is removed from him.
When God begins His work of grace in a soul the heart then turns to Him
in penitence and faith, and as He continues that work the soul is kept in the
exercise of its graces. As we seek to unfold this theme our emphasis will
change from time to time according as we have before us those who
repudiate it and those who pervert it—when we shall treat of the Divine
foundations on which it rests or the safeguards by which it is protected. O
for wisdom to steer clear of both Arminianism and Antinomianism..12
CHAPTER 2
ITS IMPORTANCE
The theme of this present series of articles is far more than a theological
dogma or sectarian tenet: it is an essential portion of that Faith once for all
delivered to the saints, concerning which we are exhorted to “contend
earnestly”. In it is displayed, respectively, the honor and glory of the
Father, of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and therefore they who repudiate
this truth cast a most horrible aspersion upon the character of the triune
Jehovah. The final perseverance of the saints is one of the grand and
distinctive blessings proclaimed by the Gospel, being an integral part of
salvation itself, and therefore any outcry against this doctrine is an attack
upon the very foundations of the believer’s comfort and assurance. How
can I go on my way rejoicing if there be doubts in my mind whether God
will continue to deal graciously with me and complete that work which He
has begun in my soul? How can I sincerely thank God for having delivered
me from the wrath to come if it is quite possible I may yet be cast into
Hell?
Above we have said that the honor and glory of Jehovah is bound up in the
final perseverance of the saints: let us now proceed to amplify that
assertion. God the Father predestinated His people “to be conformed to the
image of His Son” (

Romans 8:29), which conformity is not fully
wrought in any of them in this life, but awaits the day of Christ’s appearing
(

1 John 3:2). Now is the Father’s eternal purpose placed in jeopardy by
the human will? is its fulfillment contingent upon human conduct? or,
having ordained the end will He not also make infallibly effectual all means
to that end? That predestination is founded upon His love:
“I have loved thee (says the Father to each of His elect) with an
everlasting love, therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee”
(

Jeremiah 31:3).
Nor is there any variation in His love, for God is not fickle like us:
“I am the Lord, I change not: therefore ye sons of Jacob are not
consumed” (

Malachi 3:6)..13
Were it possible for one of God’s elect to totally apostatize and finally
perish it would mean the Father had purposed something which He failed
to effect and that His love was thwarted.
Consider God the Son in His mediatorial character. The elect were
committed unto Him as a trust by the Father: said He “Thine they were and
Thou gayest them Me” (

John 17:6). In the covenant of redemption
Christ offered to act as their Surety and to serve as their Shepherd. This
involved the most stupendous task which the history of the universe
records: the Son’s becoming incarnate, magnifying the Divine Law by
rendering to it perfect obedience, pouring out His soul unto death as a
sacrifice to Divine justice, overcoming death and the grave, and ultimately
presenting “faultless” before God (Jude 24) the whole of His redeemed. As
the good Shepherd He died for His sheep, and as the great Shepherd it is
His office to preserve them from this present evil world. If He failed in this
task, if any of His sheep were lost, where would be His faithfulness to His
engagement? where would be the efficacy of His atonement? how could He
triumphantly exclaim at the end
“Behold land the children which God hath given Me”
(

Hebrews 2:13)?
The person of the Holy Spirit is equally concerned in this vital matter. It is
not sufficiently realized by the saints that they are as definitely indebted to
the third Person of the Godhead as truly as they are to the first and second
Persons. The Father ordained their salvation, the Son in His mediatorial
character purchased it, and the Spirit “applies” and effectuates it. It is the
blessed Spirit’s work to make good the Father’s purpose and the Son’s
atonement:
“He saved us by the washing of regeneration and renewing of the
Holy Spirit” (

Titus 3:5).
Said Christ to His disciples
“I will not leave you orphans (though I leave this world): I will
come to you” (

John 14:18).
That promise given on the eve of His death was made good in the gift of
the Spirit.14
“But the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in
My name, the same shall teach you all things” (

John 14:26).
Christ’s redeemed were thus entrusted to the love and care of the Spirit,
and should any of them be lost where would be the Spirit’s sufficiency?
where His power? where His faithfulness?
This, then, is no trivial doctrine we are now concerned with, for the most
momentous considerations are inseparably connected with it. We are
satisfied it is because of their failure to realize this that so many professing
Christians perceive not the seriousness of their assenting to the opposing
dogma of the total apostasy of saints. If they understood more clearly what
was involved in affirming that some who were truly born again fell from
grace, continued in a course of sin, died impenitent and were eternally lost,
they would be slower to set their seal unto that which carried such horrible
implications. Nor may we regard it as a matter of indifference where such
grave consequences are concerned. For any of the elect to perish would
necessarily entail a defeated Father, who was balked of the realization of
His purpose: a disappointed Son, who would never see the full travail of
His soul and be satisfied; and a disgraced Spirit, who had failed to preserve
those entrusted to His care. From such awful errors may we be delivered.
The importance of this truth further appears from the prominent place
which is accorded it in the Holy Scriptures. Whether we turn to the O.T. or
the New it makes no difference; whether we consult the Psalms or the
Prophets, the Gospels or the Epistles, we find it occupies a conspicuous
position. If we cited every reference we should have to transcribe literally
hundreds of verses. Instead, we will quote only a few of the lesser known
ones. Here is one from the Pentateuch:
“He loved the people, all His saints are in Thy hand”
(

Deuteronomy 33:3).
One from the Historical books:
“He will keep the feet of His saints” (

1 Samuel 2:8).
One from Job:
“When he hath tried me I shall come forth as gold” (

23:10).
One from the Psalms:.15
“The Lord will perfect that which concerneth me”
(

Psalm 138:8).
One from the Proverbs:
“The root of the righteous shall not be moved” (12:3 contrast

Matthew 13:2 1).
One from the Prophets:
“I will put My fear in their hearts that they shall not depart from
Me” (

Jeremiah 32:40).
These are fair samples of the Divine promises throughout the O.T.
Observe the place given to this truth in the teaching of Christ.
“Upon this Rock I will build My Church, and the gates of Hell shall
not prevail against it” (

Matthew 16:18).
“False Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall show signs and
wonders, to seduce, if possible, even the elect” (

Mark 14:22)
—it is not possible for Satan to fatally deceive any of the elect.
“Whosoever cometh to Me and heareth My sayings, and doeth
them, I will show you to whom he is like: he is like a man which
built a house and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock;
and when the flood arose, the storm beat vehemently upon that
house, and could not shake it; for it was founded upon a rock”
(

Luke 6:47-48).
“This is the Father’s will which hath sent Me, that of all which He
hath given Me I should lose nothing” (

John 6:39).
The writings of the apostles are full of it.
“For if when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the
death of His Son; much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved
by His life” (

Romans 5:10).
“Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs
of the kingdom which He hath promised to them that love Him”
(

James 2:5)..16
“Kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation”
(

1 Peter 1:5).
“They went out from us, but they were not of us; for of they had
been of us, they would have continued with us” (

1 John 2:19).
“Now unto Him that is able to keep you from falling”
(

Jude 1:24).
The tremendous importance of this doctrine is further evidenced by the fact
that it involves the very integrity of the Scriptures. There is no mistaking
their teaching on this subject: the passages quoted above make it
unmistakably plain that every section of them affirms the security of the
saints. He then who declares the saints are insecure so long as they remain
in this evil world, who insists that they may be eternally lost, yea that some
of them—like king Saul and Judas—have perished, repudiates the
reliability of Holy Writ and signifies that the Divine promises are worthless.
O my reader, weigh this well: the very veracity of the Lord God is
concerned therein. He has promised to keep the feet of His saints, to
deliver them from evil, to preserve them unto His heavenly kingdom, and
“God is not a man that He should lie, neither the son of man that
He should repent: hath He said, and shall He not do it? Or hath He
spoken, and shall He not make it good? (

Numbers 23:19).
Elisha Coles the Puritan used a forcible argument from the less to the
greater, the substance of which shall here be given. Since the Lord made
good His word in things of a lower consideration, how much more will He
in the eternal salvation of His people. If certain persons were destined by
Him to eminent service in this world, notwithstanding the greatest of
difficulties and natural impossibilities which stood in the way to obstruct it,
how much more certain is the accomplishment of His purpose concerning
those vessels of mercy which He has ordained for heavenly glory! God
promised Abraham that his seed should have the land of Canaan
(

Genesis 12:7). Years passed and when little short of a century his wife
was still barren, but a miracle was wrought and Isaac was born. Isaac
married and for twenty years his wife remained childless, when in answer
to prayer the Lord gave her conception (

25:21). They had two children
but the Lord rejected the elder, and the younger to whom the promise
belonged was in daily danger of being killed by Esau (

27:41), and to
save his life he fled to Padanaram..17
While in Padanaram Laban dealt harshly with him, and when he decided to
return home his father-in-law followed him with evil intentions, but the
Lord interposed and warned him in a dream (

Genesis 31:23, 24). But
no sooner had Jacob escaped from Laban than Esau comes against him
with four hundred men, determined to revenge his old grudge (

32:6),
but the Lord melted his heart in a moment and caused him to receive Jacob
with affection. When Simeon and Levi so highly provoked the Canaanites
there appeared to be every prospect that Jacob and his family would be
exterminated (

34:25), but the Lord caused such a terror to fall on them
that they touched not a single one (

35:5). When a seven years famine
came on the land, threatening to consume them, by a strange providence
the Lord provided for them in Egypt. There, later, Pharaoh sought their
destruction; but in vain. By His mighty power Jehovah brought them forth
from the house of bondage, opened a way through the Red Sea, conducted
them across the wilderness and brought them into Canaan. Shall He do less
for the spiritual seed of Abraham to whom He has promised the heavenly
Canaan for an everlasting heritage?
Joseph was one whom the Lord would honor, and in several dreams
intimated he should be exalted to a position of dignity and preeminence
(

Genesis 37). Because of that his brethren hated him, determined to
frustrate those predictions and slay him (v. 18). And how shall Joseph
escape? for they are ten to one and he the least. In due course they cast
him into a pit, where it seemed likely he must perish; but in the good
providence of God some Midianites passed that way ere any wild beast had
found him. He is delivered into their hands and they bring him to Egypt and
sell him to the captain of Pharaoh’s guard—a man not at all likely to show
kindness to him. But the Lord is pleased to give him favor in his master’s
eyes (

39:3, 4), yet if Joseph’s hopes now rose how quickly were they
disappointed. Through the lies of his mistress he was cast into prison,
where he spent not a few days but many years. What prospect now of
preferment? Nevertheless the counsel of the Lord was made good and he
became lord over Egypt!
God promised the kingdom of Israel unto David and while yet a youth he
was anointed to it (

1 Samuel 16:13). What! notwithstanding all
interveniences? Yes, for the Lord had said it and shall He not do it!
Therefore if Saul cast a javelin at him, unsuspected, to nail him to the wall,
a sharpness of eye and agility of body shall be given him to discern and
avoid it (

18:11). If he determined evil against him, Jonathan is moved.18
to inform him (

19:7). If he send messengers to Naioth to arrest him,
they shall forget their errand and fall a prophesying (20-24). If he be in a
city that will betray him, and no friend there to acquaint him of his peril,
the Lord Himself is his intelligencer and sends him out (

23:12). If
Saul’s army encompasses him about and no way to escape is left, the
Philistines invade his land and the king turns away to meet them (vv. 26,
27). Though there were not on earth to deliver
“He (said David) shall send from heaven and save me”
(

Psalm 57:3).
Shortly after Saul was slain and David came to the throne!
“And, behold, there came a man of God out of Judah by the word
of the Lord unto Bethel; and Jeroboam stood by the altar to burn
incense. And he cried against the altar in the word of the Lord, and
said O altar, altar, thus saith the Lord: Behold, a child shall be born
unto the house of David, Josiah by name; and upon thee shall he
offer the priests of the high places that burn incense, and men’s
bones shall be burnt upon thee” (

1 Kings 13:1, 2).
Most remarkable was this prophecy. The kingdom of Judah had been
despised and deserted by the ten tribes, yet a day will come when the house
of David should so recover its power that a member of it would demolish
that altar. Nothing seems more contingent and arbitrary than the giving of
names to persons, yet here the name of this man is foretold centuries before
his birth, and in due time he was called Josiah. During the interval of three
hundred and fifty years between this prediction and its fulfillment (

2
Kings 23:15, 16) things transpired which made dead against its
accomplishment. Athaliah determined to destroy all the royal seed of
David, but Joash is stolen from the rest and preserved (

2 Kings 11:2).
Hezekiah falls sick unto death, but fifteen years is added to his life rather
than Manasseh, who must be Josiah’s grandfather, should be unborn
(

20:6, 21).
“Paul was a chosen vessel, appointed to preach Christ to the Gentiles
(

Acts 9:15) and at last to bear witness of Him at Rome (

23:11).
This must be done although bonds, imprisonment and death itself do attend
him in every place. If, therefore they lie in wait for him at Damascus and
watch the gates night and day to kill him, he shall be let down by the wall
in a basket and so escape them (

Acts 9:24, 25). If all Jerusalem be in.19
an uproar to kill him the chief captain shall come in with an army and
rescue him (

21:31, 32) though no friend to Paul nor to his cause. If
more than forty men had bound themselves with an oath that they will
neither eat nor drink until they have killed him, his kinsmen shall hear of it,
and by his means the chief captain shall be his friend again and grant him a
sufficient convoy (

23:14-23)…not his being once stoned, nor his thrice
suffering shipwreck, nor anything else, shall make void the purpose of God
for bearing witness of Christ at Rome” (Elisha Coles).
Now my reader, why, think you, are such instances as the above recorded
in the sacred Scriptures? Is it not for our instruction and consolation? Is it
not to assure us that the promises of God are unimpeachable, that His
counsel shall stand, that once the word has gone forth from His mouth all
earth and hell combined is powerless to negative it? If the Lord was so
exact in carrying out His word in these lesser things, which related only to
time and earth, executing His purpose despite all outward oppositions,
working miracles in order to accomplish His pleasure, how much more will
He be punctilious in securing the eternal welfare of those whom He has
appointed to Heavenly glory! If He bore His people of old “upon eagles
wings” (

Exodus 19:17), above the reach of danger, if He kept them as
“the apple of His eye” (

Deuteronomy 32:10)—with all possible care
and tenderness—till He brought them to Himself, think you that He will
now do less for any for whom Christ died!
One of the outstanding glories of the Gospel is its promise of eternal
security to all who truly believe it. The Gospel presents no third-rate
Physician who is competent to treat only the milder cases, but One who
heals “all manner of sickness” who is capable of curing the most desperate
cases. It proclaims no feeble Redeemer, but One who is “mighty to save”:
though the world, the flesh and the Devil, combine against Him, He cannot
be frustrated. He who triumphed over the grave cannot be thwarted by any
feebleness or fickleness in His people.
“He is able (which would not be true if their unwillingness could
balk Him) to save unto the uttermost them that come unto God by
Him” (

Hebrews 7:25).
Those whom He pardons He preserves. Therefore each one who trusts in
Him, though conscious of his own weakness and wickedness, may
confidently exclaim “I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that
He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day.”.20
The importance of this truth appears clearly if we suppose the opposite.
Assume that those who flee to Christ for refuge should finally end in the
regions of woe: then what? Why, to what purpose would be the
proclamation of a Gospel which announced “so-great salvation” only for its
participants to be eventually disappointed?—it would be no better than a
beautiful mirage seen by parched travelers in the desert: presenting to their
view a life-giving stream, only to mock those who sought it. Why, to what
purpose did Christ offer Himself as a sacrifice to God if His blood avails
not for those who trust in it? Why, to what purpose is the Holy Spirit given
to God’s children if He is unable to subdue the flesh in them and overcome
their proclivities to wander? To what purpose is the Divine gift of faith if it
fails its possessor in the ultimate outcome? If the final perseverance of the
saints be a delusion, then one must close his Bible and sit down in despair..21
CHAPTER 3
ITS NATURE
We purpose dealing with this theme, and particularly with that aspect of it
which is now to be before us, in rather a different manner than that which
was followed by most of the Calvinistic divines in the past; or rather, we
propose to throw most of our emphasis upon another angle of it than what
they did. Their principal object was to establish this truth, by rebutting the
error of Arminians, who insist that those who have been redeemed by
Christ and regenerated by the Holy Spirit may nevertheless totally and
finally apostatize from the Faith, and so eternally perish. Our chief aim will
rather be to counteract the crude manner in which this doctrine has been
only too often handled in more recent times and the evil use to which an
adulterous generation has put it. While Arminianism has by no means
disappeared from Christendom, yet it is the more recent inroads of
Antinomianism (the repudiation of the Divine Law and the turning of
God’s grace into lasciviousness) which have wrought the most damage in
our own lifetime.
It is not sufficiently realized by many of the Lord’s own people that far
more harm than good is likely to be done by immature “Gospellers”, who
have more zeal than knowledge, and who expect to reap a harvest (secure
“results”) before the ground is ploughed and harrowed. Many an ignorant
evangelist has given his hearers the impression that once they “accept
Christ as their personal Savior” they need have no concern about the
future, and thousands have been lulled into a fatal sleep by the soothing
lullaby “once saved, always saved”. To imagine that if I commit my soul
and its eternal interests into the hands of the Lord henceforth relieves me
of all obligation, is to accept sugar-coated poison from the father of lies.
When I deposit my money in the bank for safe custody, then my
responsibility is at an end: it is now their duty to protect the same. But it is
far otherwise with the soul at conversion—the Christian’s responsibility to
avoid temptation and shun evil, to use the means of grace and seek after
good, lasts as long as he is left in this world.
If our ancestors erred on the side of prolixity their descendants have often
injured the cause of Christ by their brevity. Bare statements, without.22
qualification or amplification, are frequently most misleading. Brief
generalizations may content the superficial, who lack both the incentive
and the patience to make a thorough examination of any subject, but those
who value the Truth sufficiently to be willing to “buy” it (

Proverbs
23:23) appreciate a detailed analysis, if so be that their contemplation
thereof enables them to obtain an intelligent and balanced grasp of an
important Scriptural theme. The man who accepts a piece of money—be it
of paper or metal—after a cursory glance, is far more likely to be deceived
with a counterfeit than he who scrutinizes it closely. And they who give
assent to a mere summarized declaration of this doctrine are in far greater
danger of being deluded than the ones who are prepared to carefully and
prayerfully examine a systematic exposition thereof. It is, of course, for the
latter we write.
Much confusion and misunderstanding has been caused through failure to
clearly define terms. Those who assail this doctrine usually set up a “man
of straw” and then suppose they have achieved a notable victory because
so little difficulty was experienced in demolishing so feeble an object; and it
must be confessed that only too often those who have posed as the
champions of the Truth are largely to blame for this. It needs little
argument to demonstrate that one who is in love with sin and drinks in
iniquity like water does not have his face Heavenwards, no matter what
experience of grace he claims to have had in the past. Yet it must not be
concluded that the Arminian has gained the day when he appeals to the
Christian’s spiritual instincts and asks: Does it comport with God’s
holiness for Him to own as His dear child one who is trampling upon His
commandments? The Calvinist would return a negative reply to such an
iniquity as promptly and emphatically as would his opponent.
“The righteous shall hold on his way” (

Job 17:9). As Spurgeon
pertinently pointed out, “The Scripture does not teach that a man will
reach his journey’s end without continuing to travel along the road; it is not
true that one act of faith is all, and that nothing is needed of daily faith,
prayer and watchfulness. Our doctrine is the very opposite, namely, that
the righteous shall hold on his way: or, in other words, shall continue in
faith, in repentance, in prayer, and under the influence of the grace of God.
We do not believe in salvation by a physical force which treats a man as a
dead log, and carries him whether he will it or not towards heaven. No, ‘he
holds on his way’, he is personally active about the matter, and plods on up
hill and down dale till he reaches his journey’s end. We never thought that.23
merely because a man supposes that he once entered on this way he may
therefore conclude that he is certain of salvation, even if he leaves the way
immediately. No, but we say that he who truly receives the Holy Spirit, so
that he believes in the. Lord Jesus Christ, shall not go back, but persevere
in the way of faith…We detest the doctrine that a man who has once
believed in Jesus will be saved even if he altogether forsook the path of
obedience.”
In order to define our terms we must make it quite clear who it is that
perseveres and what it is in which he perseveres. It is the saints, and none
other. This is evident from many passages of Scripture.
“He will keep the feet of His saints” (

1 Samuel 2:9).
“For the Lord loveth judgment and forsaketh not His saints: they
are preserved forever” (

Psalm 37:28).
“He preserveth the souls of His saints: He delivereth them out of
the hand of the enemy” (

Psalm 87:10).
“He maketh intercession for the saints” (

Romans 8:27).
“He shall come to be glorified in His saints”
(

2 Thessalonians 1:10).
All such are preserved in God’s love and favor, and accordingly they
persevere in the Faith, eschewing all damnable errors; they persevere in a
life of faith, clinging to Christ like a drowning man to a life-buoy; they
persevere in the path of holiness and obedience, walking by the light of
God’s Word and being directed by His precepts—not perfectly so, nor
without wandering, but in the general tenor of their lives.
Now a “saint” is a sanctified or separated one. First, he is one of those who
were chosen by the Father before the foundation of the world and
predestinated to be conformed unto the image of His Son. Second, he is
one of those who were redeemed by Christ, who gave His life a ransom for
them. Third, he is one who has been regenerated by a miracle of grace,
brought from death unto life, and thereby set apart from those who are
dead in sin. Fourth, he is indwelt by the Holy Spirit, whereby he is sealed
unto the day of redemption. But how may I know whether or not I am a
saint? By impartially examining myself in the light of Holy Writ to see if I
possess the character and conduct of one. A “saint” is one whose back is.24
toward the world and his face toward God; whose affections are drawn
unto things above, who yearns for communion with his Beloved, who
grieves over that in himself which displeases God, who makes conscience
of his sins and confesses them to God, who prayerfully endeavors to walk
as becometh a Christian, but who daily mourns his many offenses.
Only those persevere unto the end who have experienced the saving grace
of God. Now grace is not only a Divine attribute inherent in His character,
it is also a Divine principle which He imparts to His people. It is both
objective and subjective. Objectively, it is that free favor with which God
eternally and unchangingly regards His people. Subjectively, it is that which
He communicates to their souls, which resists their native depravity and
enables them to hold on their way. A saint is one who not only has “found
grace in the eyes of the Lord” (

Genesis 6:8), but who has also received
“abundance of grace” (

Romans 5:17)—“unto every one of us is grace
given” (

Ephesians 4:7). The Lord “giveth grace unto the humble”
(

James 4:6), and His grace is an operative, influential, and transforming
thing. The Lord Jesus is “full of grace and truth,” and of His fullness do all
His people receive, “and grace for grace” (

John 1:14,16). That grace
teaches its recipients “to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts, and to live
soberly, righteously and godly in this present world” (

Titus 2:11, 12).
They come to the Throne of Grace and “find grace to help in time of
need” (

Hebrews 4:16) and thereby prove the Divine declaration “My
grace is sufficient for thee” (

2 Corinthians 12:9).
From all that has been pointed Out above it follows that when we affirm
the final perseverance of the saints we do not mean,
1. That every professing Christian will reach Heaven. The sprinkling of a
few drops of water on the head of an infant does not qualify it for the
inheritance of the saints in light, for in a few years’ time that child is seen
to be no different than others who received not this ordinance. Nor does an
avowal of faith on the part of an adult demonstrate him to be a new
creature in Christ. Many born of Papish parents have been convinced of the
folly of bowing before idols, confessing their sins to a priest and other such
absurdities, but conversion to Protestantism is not the same as
regeneration, as many evidenced in the days of Luther. Many a Jew has
been convinced of the Messianic claims of Jesus Christ and has believed on
Him as such, yet this is no proof of saving grace, as

John 2:23, 24;
6:66 plainly shows. Thousands more have been emotionally stirred under.25
the hypnotic appeals of evangelists and have “taken their stand for Christ”
and “joined the church”, but their interest quickly evaporated and they
soon returned to their wallowing in the mire.
2. Nor do we mean that seeming grace cannot be lost. Satan is a clever
imitator so that his tares are indistinguishable by men from the wheat. By
reading theological works and sitting under the preaching of the Word an
attentive mind can soon acquire an intellectual acquaintance with the Truth
and be able to discuss the mysteries of the Gospel more readily and fluently
than can an unlettered child of God. Keen mentality may also be
accompanied by a naturally religious disposition which expresses itself in
fervent devotions, self-sacrificing effort and proselytizing zeal. But if such
an one relapse and repudiates the Truth, that does not overthrow our
doctrine: it simply shows he was never born of God.
“They went out from us, but they were not of us; for of they had
been of us, they would have continued with us” (

1 John 2:19).
Such characters had never been received into the fellowship of apostolic
assemblies unless they gave credible appearance of possessing real grace,
yet their subsequent departure was proof they had it not.
“Whosoever hath not (in reality) from him shall be taken away even
that which he seemeth to have” (

Luke 8:18).
3. Nor do we mean that initial and preparatory grace is a guarantee of
glorification. What percentage of blossoms on the apple and plum trees
mature and bear fruit? And that is an adumbration in the natural of what is
found in the spiritual realm. Many a promising bud is nipped by the frosts
of spring and never develops into a flower. In like manner there is a large
number who so far from despising and rejecting it,
“receive the Word with joy, yet hath not root in himself, but dureth
from a while” (

Matthew 13:20, 21).
That was the case when Christ Himself sowed the Seed, and many a
faithful servant of His has found the same thing duplicated in his own
ministerial labors. How often has he seen the buds of promise appearing in
the lives of some of his young people, only to be saddened later by the
discovery that their.26
“goodness was as a morning cloud and as the early dew it went
away” (

Hosea 6:4).
“Ye were willing for a season to rejoice in his light”
(

John 5:35)
said Christ of certain ones who sat under the preaching of His forerunner;
but observe He declared not that they had “sorrowed unto repentance”.
Blazing comets and meteors are soon spent and fall from heaven like
lightning, but the stars keep their orbits and stations—as do the spiritual
“stars” held fast in Christ’s right hand (

Revelation 2:1). There is an
initial grace which produces a real but transient effect, and there is a saving
grace which secures a permanent result.

Hebrews 6:4, 5 supplies a
solemn illustration of the former. There we read of those “who were once
enlightened”, that is, whose minds were illumined from on high, so that
they perceived clearly the excellency of Divine things. They “tasted of the
heavenly gift,” so that for a season they lost their relish for the things of
the world. They “were made partakers of the Holy Spirit,” being convicted
by Him of their sins and brought to say with Balaam “let me die the death
of the righteous” (

Numbers 23:10); but thorns sprang up and choked
the good Seed, so that they “bring (forth) no fruit to perfection” (

Luke
8:14). Such are cast forth “like an untimely birth.”
4. Nor do we mean that true grace if left in our hands would not be lost. If
Adam and Eve when left to themselves lost their innocency, how much
more would those who are still affected by indwelling sin destroy
themselves, did not the Lord renew them in the inner man “day by day”
(

2 Corinthians 4:16). Regeneration does not make the Christian a
God—independent and self-sufficient. No, it unites him as a branch to the
true Vine, as a member of Christ’s mystical body; and just as a bough
detached from the tree immediately withers and as an arm or leg cut off
from its body is a lifeless thing, so would the saint perish if it were possible
to sever him from the Savior. But the believer is not his own keeper: “your
life is hid with Christ in God” (

Colossians 3:3) declares the apostle. At
the new birth our self-righteousness received its death-wound, so that we
were glad to look outside of ourselves to the righteousness of Another, and
the more we grow in grace the more conscious are we of our weakness and
the more are we made “strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.”.27
5. Nor do we mean that true grace may not be hindered in its operations
and suffer a relapse. “The flesh lusteth against the spirit” (

Galatians
5:17): being contrary the one to the other, there is ever a warfare going on
between them, one being uppermost today and the other so tomorrow.
Christian perseverance is to be gauged not so much from single actions as
by the more regular habits of the soul. As the functions of the body may be
hindered by a swoon or fit, as the activities of the mind are impaired by
delirium, so the stirrings of indwelling grace may be interrupted by the
power of our natural corruptions. The more the saint yields to the
solicitations of the flesh, the feebler become the workings of the principle
of grace. That true grace may suffer a serious, though not a fatal, relapse,
appears in the cases of Noah, Abraham, David and Peter, which are
recorded for our warning and not for our imitation. The health of the soul
varies as does that of the body, and as the latter is frequently the
consequence of our own carelessness and folly, such is always the case in
connection with the former.
6. Nor do we mean that the comforts of true grace cannot be eclipsed. We
may indeed lose the sense of it though not the substance. Communion with
Christ is lost when we experience a fall by the way, yet union with Him is
not severed thereby. Mutual comforts may be suspended between man and
wife though the conjugal knot be not dissolved. Believers may be separated
from Christ’s smile yet not so from His heart. If they wander from the Sun
of righteousness how can they expect to enjoy His light and warmth. Sin
and wretchedness, holiness and happiness are inseparably joined together.
The way of the transgressor is hard, but peace and joy are the portion of
the upright. As a parent suffers his child to scorch his fingers at the flame
that he may learn to dread the fire, so God permits His people to lose their
comforts for a season that they may prove the bitterness of sin, but He
draws them back again unto Himself before they are destroyed thereby.
7. Nor do we mean that the presence of indwelling grace renders it
unnecessary that its possessor should persevere. Yet this is one of the silly
inferences which Arminians are fond of drawing. They say, “If it is
absolutely certain that God will preserve His people from total apostasy,
then there is no real need why they must persevere”—as well might we
argue that it is unnecessary for us to breathe because God gives us breath,
or that Hezekiah needed no longer to eat and drink because God had
promised he should live another fifteen years. Wherever saving grace is
bestowed it is accompanied by “the spirit of a sound mind” (

2 Timothy.28
1:6) so that the soul is preserved from trifling with God or reasoning like a
madman. Christians are called upon to work out their own salvation “with
fear and trembling,” not to conduct themselves recklessly, and to enable
them thereto God worketh in them “both to will and to do of His good
pleasure” (

Philippians 2:12, 13). Grace does not annul our
responsibility but fits us to discharge it; it relieves from no duties, but
equips for the performance of them.
We turn now to the positive side: having dwelt upon what is not signified
or implied by the final perseverance of the saints, let us now endeavor to
show whereof it consists. And here it should be duly noted that the Holy
Spirit has not restricted Himself to a single expression but has used a great
variety of words to describe this duty and blessing. In matters of great
spiritual importance God has employed many different terms in His Word,
for the instruction, comfort and support of His people. Out of the scores
which set forth the believer’s perseverance we may cite these. It is to
“continue following the Lord our God” (

1 Samuel 2:14), to “walk in
the paths of righteousness” (

Psalm 23:5), to be “steadfast in the
Covenant” (

Psalm 78:37), to “endure unto the end” (

Matthew
24:13), to “deny self and take up the cross daily” (

Luke 9:23), to
“abide in Christ” (

John 15:4), to “cleave unto the Lord” (Acts 1L23),
to “press toward the mark” (

Philippians 3:14), to “continue in the faith
grounded and settled” (

Colossians 1:13), to “hold faith and a good
conscience” (

1 Timothy 1:19), to “hold fast the confidence and
rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end” (

Hebrews 3:6), to “run with
patience the race that is set before us” (

Hebrews 12:1), to “stablish
our hearts” (

James 5:8), to “be faithful unto death” (

Revelation
2:10).
In the limited space at our disposal it is advisable to epitomize the main
branches of this subject under a few heads.
1. Spiritual perseverance is the maintaining of a holy profession or a
continuance in the word and doctrine of Christ. Wherever saving faith is
imparted the soul receives the Scriptures as a Divine revelation, as the very
Word of God. Faith is the visive faculty of the heart, by which the majesty
and excellency of the Truth is perceived and by which such conviction and
certainty is conveyed that the soul knows it is none other than the living
God speaking to him. Faith “hath received His testimony” and thereby
“hath set to his seal that God is true” (

John 3:33). Henceforth he takes.29
his stand on the impregnable rock of Holy Writ and neither man nor Devil
can move him therefrom: “the voice of a stranger he will not follow”
(

John 10:5). While one who is not regenerated may intellectually
believe and verbally profess his faith in the whole of revealed Truth, yet no
regenerated person will repudiate the same.
“Some shall depart from the Faith, giving heed to seducing spirits
and doctrines of demons” (

1 Timothy 4:1).
How many have done so within the memory of our older readers! Those
who were looked upon as towers of orthodoxy succumbed to
“evolutionism” and the “higher criticism.” Those who were regarded as
staunch Protestants became ensnared by Romanism. Multitudes of the rank
and the who were once members of evangelical churches and teachers in
the Sunday Schools, have been poisoned by infidelity and repudiated their
former beliefs. But all such cases were merely the chaff being separated
from the wheat, thereby causing the true to stand out more plainly from the
false:
“For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are
approved may be made manifest” (

1 Corinthians 11:19).
When many of Christ’s disciples went back and walked no more with Him
the apostles were not shaken, for when He asked them “Will ye also go
away?” their spokesman answered
“Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life”
(

John 6:66, 68).
“Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on Him, If ye
continue in My Word, then are ye My disciples indeed”
(

John 8:31).
That is one of the marks of those who are disciples of Christ in reality and
not only in appearance. They are all “taught of the Lord” (

Isaiah
54:13) and not merely by men, and
“I know that whatsoever God doeth it shall be forever: nothing can
be put to it, nor anything taken from it” (

Ecclesiastes 3:14).
False christs and false prophets may seek to beguile them, but it is not
possible to deceive the elect (

Matthew 24:24). Hymeneus and Philetus.30
may err concerning the Truth, even denying the resurrection, and in
consequence “overthrow the faith of some,” yet we are at once assured
“Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal,
the Lord knoweth them that are His” (

2 Timothy 2:17-19)
—none with a saving faith can be overthrown. And why? Because they are
enabled to continue in God’s Word. Uninfluenced by “current opinion” or
“modern thought,” the child o-f God even though the last one left on earth,
would
“hold fast the profession of faith without wavering”
(

Hebrews 10:23).
2. The maintaining of holy affections and principles. It should be clearly
understood that perseverance is not a distinct and particular grace, separate
from all others, rather is it a virtue which crowns all virtues, a grace which
sets a glory on every other grace. The first stirrings of the new life are seen
in conviction of sin and contrition for the same, yet repentance is not an act
to be performed once for all, but a grace to be exercised constantly. Faith
is that which lays hold of Christ and obtains from Him pardon and
cleansing, yet so far from that being something which needs not to be
repeated, it is an experience which requires to be renewed day by day. The
same holds good of love, of hope, of zeal. Perseverance is the continued
exercise of holy affections and principles so that we do not merely trust for
a while, love for awhile, obey for a while, and then cease; but forgetting
those things which are behind we press forward to those before. “These all
died in faith” (

Hebrews 11:13): they not only lived by faith, but they
continued doing so to the very end of their earthly pilgrimage.
“Blessed are they that mourn” (

Matthew 5:4). Mark well the tense:
not they that mourned in the past, but who still do so. Even Pharaoh and
Ahab, yea Judas also, had transient qualms of conscience, but those were
nothing more than the stirrings of nature. But the child of God has within
him a deeper principle, a principle of holiness which is contrary to evil, and
this makes its possessor grieve over his sinfulness. “Blessed are they which
do hunger and thirst after righteousness”; not only who once hungered
after righteousness, but who long ardently for it now. “Blessed is the man
that endureth temptation” (

James 1:12): how much theology is to be
found in the grammar of Scripture!.31
“To whom coming as unto a living Stone, disallowed indeed of
men, but chosen of God, precious” (

1 Peter 2:4):
yes “coming” for fresh supplies of grace, for further counsel and
instruction, for heart-reviving communion.
“Blessed is he that watcheth and keepeth his garments”
(

Revelation 16:15):
they upon whom the benediction of God rests are not those who once ran
well, but whose graces continue in exercise.
Christians are
“kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be
revealed in the last time” (

1 Peter 1:5).
God does not preserve His people by the mere putting forth of physical
power, but by renewing their graces, particularly their faith. It is through
their continued reliance upon Christ, their trusting in the Divine promises
and on God’s perfections as engaged to fulfill them, their keeping of His
commands and their overcoming the world (

1 John 5:4) that the saints
are secured from fatality. And their faith is maintained by Christ’s constant
intercession—“I have prayed for thee that thy faith fail not”—and God’s
response thereto, who fulfills
“all the good pleasure of His goodness in them and the work of
faith with power” (

2 Thessalonians 1:11).
This does not mean that the Christian’s faith continues in unabated exercise
all his days, for as the most fruitful tree passes through a wintertime of
non-bearing so it often is in the experience of the believer, yet as the life is
still in the tree though leafless so faith remains and bursts forth afresh.
“Lord I believe, help Thou mine unbelief” expresses his general course.
3. The maintaining of holy conduct or good works. When a person
understanding has been supernaturally enlightened and his affections
Divinely renewed there cannot but follow a radical change of conduct,
though this is made more prominent and radical in some cases than in
others. The difference is much more apparent in one who was thoroughly
irreligious and guilty of gross outward sins before his new birth than
another who was regulated by the training of pious parents and preserved
from debauchery. Yet even with the latter a “new creation” must express.32
itself in a new life: the Word will be read and meditated upon not so much
as a duty but a delight, prayer will be engaged in not perfunctorily but
heartily, the Lord’s people will not only be respected but loved for
whatever of Christ may be seen in them, honesty and truthfulness will mark
his dealings with his fellows not only because this is right but because he
would not grieve the Spirit, while daily work is performed not as an
irksome task which must be done but as a service gladly rendered unto
Him whose providence has wisely and graciously ordered his lot.
At regeneration God imparts spiritual life to the soul, and all life is
followed by motion and operation. Before the new birth the soul was
spiritually dead, and at the new birth it was entirely passive, being wrought
upon by God; but after the new birth the soul becomes active.
Perseverance then is the endeavors of the soul to concur with God’s
quickening of it. Hence it is that the Christian life is often described under
the figure of walking:
“for we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good
works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in
them” (

Ephesians 2:10).
The motions of the body are transferred to the soul, which by faith and
love is conducted along the way of God’s statutes (

Ezekiel 36:2 7).
Walking is a voluntary action and the renewed soul has pleasure in the path
of godliness. Walking is a steady and continuous action, and not a
spasmodic and irregular one: so the Christian pursues an obedient course
not by fits and starts but steadily and steadfastly. Walking is a progressive
motion, moving onwards to a goal: so the Christian normally goes on
“from strength to strength” (

Psalm 84:7). Walking as such is incessant,
for it ceases as soon as we sit down by the wayside: so the Christian life is
a walking to the very end of his pilgrimage and until Heaven is reached
perfect rest is not entered into.
“But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith,
praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God,
looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life”
(

Jude 20, 21).
It is by such exhortations that the Christian is stirred to use the means that
make for constancy. Care has to be taken if there is to be spiritual growth.
It is not sufficient to be established in the faith, we must daily increase.33
therein: the foundation is laid that a house may be erected thereon, and that
is built steadily, bit by bit. For this, prayer is required: this is the channel
through which health and strength is obtained. Neglect of prayer is
followed by arrested growth, nay by decay of graces, for if we go not
forward we backslide. To pray aright the assistance of the Holy Spirit has
to be sought. Further, we must keep ourselves in God’s love by avoiding
everything which displeases Him and by maintaining close and regular
communion with Him. Should we leave our first love, then we must repent
and do the first works (

Revelation 2:4). Finally, hope must be kept in
exercise: the heart fixed upon the glorious prospect and consummation
awaiting us.
4. Such maintaining of a holy profession, holy affections and holy action is
necessary in order to salvation. The very term “salvation” clearly implies
danger, and of none can it be said that they are completely saved until they
are completely delivered from danger, and certainly the Christian is not so
while sin remains in him and he is left in a wicked world and exposed to the
assaults of the Evil One.
“See that ye refuse not Him that speaketh: for if they escaped not
who refused Him that spake on earth, much more shall not we
escape if we turn away from Him that speaketh from heaven”
(

Hebrews 12:25).
Multitudes of those who came out of Egypt, crossed the Red Sea, fed on
the manna and drank of the water from the smitten rock, afterward
perished in the wilderness, and we are told
“Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples, and they
are written for our admonition…wherefore let him that thinketh he
standeth take heed lest he fall” (

1 Corinthians 12:10, 11),
for a holy God will no more be mocked now than He would be then.
As we have seen in an earlier paragraph

1 Peter 1:5 places salvation in
the future—as also does

Romans 13:11;

1 Timothy 4:16—unto
which the saints are kept by the power of God through faith. Heaven can
only be reached by continuing along the sole path that leads thither,
namely, the “Narrow Way.” Those who persevere not in faith and holiness,
love and obedience, will assuredly perish. Whatever temporal faith, natural
love, goodly attainments, and confident assurance may appear for a while,.34
they are a bed shorter than a man can stretch himself upon and a covering
narrower than the soul can wrap itself in (

Isaiah 28:20).
“Many false prophets shall arise and shall deceive many, and
because iniquity shall abound the love of many shall (not merely
wane or cool off, but) wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the
end, the same shall be saved” (

Matthew 24:13).
All temptations to deny the Faith, to forsake Christ, to go back unto the
world, to give free rein to the lusts of the flesh, must be resisted to our last
breath, or our profession will prove worthless.
5. Enablement for this perseverance is wrought in the saints by God. Their
deliverance from a total and final falling away is not owing to any power or
sufficiency in themselves. Though their moral agency be not impaired and
though continuance in well doing be required of them, yet their enduring
unto the end is not to be attributed unto their fidelity nor to the strength of
the new nature which they received at regeneration. No, Christian
perseverance depends wholly and entirely on the will and fidelity, the
influence and energy of God, working in them both to will and to do of His
good pleasure, making them perfect in every good work to do His will,
working in them that which is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus
Christ (

Hebrews 13:21). It is God, who having begun a good work in
them, will carry it on until the day of Jesus Christ (

Philippians 1:6). If
the Holy Spirit were taken from the believer, and he left to himself to stand
or fall, he would immediately cease to be a believer and fall totally from a
state of grace” (S. Hopkins).
Freely will any renewed person subscribe to the following lines:—
“If ever it should come to pass
That any sheep of Christ should fall away,
My feeble, fickle soul, alas!
Would fall a thousand times a day;
Were not Thy love as firm as free,
Thou soon would’st take it Lord, from me”.
6. Christian perseverance is consistent with being sanctified but in part. It is
most important that this be clearly stated, lest the Lord’s people conclude
they are outside the pale of the Covenant. At the new birth a holy principle
or nature is imparted to them, but the old and sinful nature is not
eradicated, nor is it to the slightest degree improved. Indwelling.35
corruptions are as much opposed to God as they were before conversion,
and just as active. Pray against them as he may, strive against them as he
will, yet the believer is constantly overcome by them: frequently does he
have to exclaim with David “iniquities prevail against me” (

Psalm
65:3). The experience described in

Romans 7:14-25 is that of every
genuine Christian. God gives no man such a measure of grace in this life as
to make him sinless. “In many things we all offend” (

James 3:2), and
by sudden surprisals and under great temptations believers may fall into
particular gross outward acts of sin, yet they will not become totally
corrupt and sinful as the unregenerate are, nor do they sin with their whole
heart. Christian sanctification then is the maintaining of holy affections and
actions in the midst of native depravity and all its out-flows. Despite great
discouragements their faith and grace never wholly fail. Sanctified but in
part now, glorified in the future.
7. From all that has been before us it will thus be seen that perseverance
can be predicated only of those who “know the grace of God in truth”
(

Colossians 1:6), who experience its supernatural operations in their
own souls. Not a suppositionary grace which may be held in reckless
abandonment, but a spiritual grace which causes its possessor to walk
cautiously. What Scripture teaches is that, there never was, never will be,
and never can be such a thing as the total and final falling away of one who
has really repented and trusted on Christ; that in every instance where a
Divine miracle of grace has been wrought that soul shall stand when this
world and all its works shall be burned up. Rightly has it been said,
“The question of the perpetuity of grace is the question of a
genuine Gospel. Is grace permanent, then the Gospel is a reality. Is
grace temporary, then the Gospel is a will o’ the wisp, a phantom
benediction, a dream of blessedness from which one may awake, to
find himself bereft of all that raptured him” (G.S. Bishop)..36
CHAPTER 4
ITS MARVEL
This is an aspect of our subject which has received far too little attention
from those who have written and preached thereon. Amid all the dust
which controversy has raised up, only too often one of the grandest
wonders of Divine grace has been hidden from the sight of the theological
contestants: alas, how frequently is this the case, that being so occupied
with the shell we reach not the kernel. Even those who have sought to
defend this truth against the assault of Papish and Arminian antagonists did
not sufficiently hold up to view the glorious miracle which it embodies.
The security of the saint concerns not only the Divine veracity and
faithfulness but it also exemplifies the workings of Divine power. The
believer’s cleaving unto the Lord, despite all hindrances and temptations to
the contrary, not only manifests the efficacy of God’s so-great salvation
but displays the marvels of His workmanship therein. That the gates of Hell
shall not prevail against the Church of Christ, that Satan is unable to
destroy a single member of it, that the weakest shall be more than
conqueror through Him that loved them, should fill us with admiration and
adoration.
All the blessings of the Christian’s life may be summed up in two eminent
ones, for they include all the others of which he is the recipient from the
moment of the new birth to his arrival in Heaven, namely, regeneration or
instating him into life and the preservation of that life through all the
difficulties and dangers of his pilgrimage to the safe conducting him unto
glory. Hence it is we so often find them linked together in Scripture. Just
as the work of creation at the first and then the upholding of all things by
Divine power and providence are yoked together as works of like wonder
(

Hebrews 1:2, 3) so we find regeneration and preservation joined
together as the sum of the operations of grace.
“Hath He not made thee and established thee”
(

Deuteronomy 32:6);
“I have made and will bear, even I will carry and deliver you”
(

Isaiah 46:4)..37
In

Psalm 66:9 both are comprehended in one word “who putteth
(margin) thy soul in life” and “who holdeth thy soul in life,” first imparting
life and then sustaining it. So also in the N.T.:
“I give unto them eternal life and they shall never perish”
(

John 10:28);
“begotten us again unto a living hope… kept by the power of God
through faith” (

1 Peter 1:3, 5):
“sanctified by God the Father and preserved in Jesus Christ”
(

Jude 1).
This great marvel of Divine preservation is enlarged upon and celebrated in

Psalm 66. After saying
“O bless our God, ye people, and make the voice of His praise to
be heard: which holdeth our soul in life, and suffereth not our feet
to be moved” (vv. 8, 9)
the Psalmist pointed out first, they had been proved and tried “as silver is
tried” (v. 10), which denotes the sorest of trials (

Ezekiel 22:22).
Second, God had brought them “into the net” and had “lain affliction upon
their loins” (v. 11): that is, He had so encompassed them round about with
afflictions that there was no way of escaping out of them (cf.

Isaiah
51:20). Third, God had caused men to “ride over their heads” (v. 12): that
is, they were delivered to the will of cruel enemies, who treated them as
slaves. Fourth, they had gone “through fire and water” (v. 12), which
denotes the extremity of evils. Nor were these various dangers perils to
their outward man only, but tryings and testings of their faith, as “Thou,
Lord, hast proved us” (v. 10) intimates. Yet through all of them they had
been sustained and preserved. God had supported their faith and upheld
them under His sorest chastenings.
Having blessed God on behalf of other saints and invited his readers to do
the same, the Psalmist added a personal testimony, recounting the Lord’s
goodness unto himself. “Come and hear, all ye that fear God, and I will
declare what He hath done for my soul” (v. 16), which confession
continues to the end of the Psalm. That testimony is not to be divorced
from its context but regarded as the continuation of what he had affirmed
in the preceding verses. It was as though he said, what I ask you to praise
the Lord for is not something with which I have had no firsthand.38
acquaintance but rather of that I have experienced in my own checkered
history. The Lord put and held my soul in life during the many buffetings I
have passed through. He did not suffer the waters to completely submerge
me but kept my head above them. Give me an audience, ye fellow pilgrims,
while I recount to you the wonder workings of the God of all grace with
me. Let me review the whole of my wilderness journey and tell of God’s
failing not to show Himself strong on my behalf: “I cried unto Him…
blessed be God who hath not turned away my prayer nor His mercy from
me” (v. 20).
Ah, could not each child of God emulate the Psalmist in that. We are
greatly interested and delighted when we read or hear of how different
ones were brought Out of darkness into God’s marvelous light. We marvel
at and admire the variety of the means and methods employed by Him in
convicting of sin and discovering Christ to different ones. We are awed and
rejoiced when we learn of how some notorious rebel was brought to the
foot of the Cross. But equally interesting, equally wonderful, equally
blessed is the story of each Christian’s life after conversion. If the mature
believer looks back at the whole of his journey and reviews all God’s
gracious dealings with him, what a tale he could unfold! Let him describe
the strange twistings and windings of his path, all ordered by infinite
Wisdom, as he now perceives. Let him tell of the tempests and tossings.
through which his frail craft has come and how often the Lord said to the
winds and waves “be still.” Let him narrate the providential help which
came when he was in sore straits, the deliverances from temptation when
he was almost overcome, the recoveries from backslidings, the revivings
after deadness of heart, the comfortings in sorrow, the upliftings when
borne down by difficulties and discouragements, the answers to prayer
when things appeared hopeless, the patience which has borne with dullness,
the grace with unbelief, the joys of communion with the Lord when cut off
from public means of grace. What a series of miracles the Christian has
experienced.
The saint is indeed a marvel of marvels: without strength yet continuing to
plod along his uphill course. Think of a tree flourishing in the midst of a
sandy desert, where there is neither soil nor water; imagine a house
suspended in mid-air, with no visible means of support above or below;
conceive of a man living week after week and year after year in a morgue,
yet maintaining his vigor; suppose a lone lamb secure in the midst of
hungry wolves, or a maid keeping her garments white as she ploughs her.39
way through deep mud and mire, and in such figures you have an image of
the Christian life. The new nature is kept alive between the very jaws of
death. Health of soul is preserved while breathing a fetid atmosphere and
surrounded by those with the most contagious and fatal diseases. It is like a
defenceless dove successfully eluding droves of hawks bent on her
destruction. It is like a man subsisting on a barren wilderness where there is
neither food nor drink. It is like a traveler on some icy summit, with
unfathomable precipices on either side, where a false step means certain
destruction. O the wonder of Christian perseverance in the face of such
handicaps and obstacles.
1. This is seen in the character of those who are chosen by God. We would
naturally conclude that if He determined to have a people in this world
through whom He would show forth His praises, that He will select the
most promising and excellent: those of strong intellectual power, those of
noble birth, those of sweet disposition, those of outstanding moral
character. But His ways are different from ours. He singles out the most
unlikely and unworthy ones to be the vessels of mercy. Thus it was in the
O.T. era. Why were the Hebrews taken to be the most favored of all
nations? Had they a stronger natural claim than others? Assuredly not. The
Egyptians were a more intelligent race, as the monuments of their industry
attest to this day. The Chaldeans were more ancient, more numerous, more
civilized, and albeit exerted a much greater influence on the rest of the
world. Was it then because the Israelites were more spiritual, more likely
to prove amenable to the Divine government? No, for ere they set foot
upon Canaan it was expressly declared unto them
“Understand therefore that the Lord thy God giveth thee not this
good land to possess it for thy righteousness, for thou art a
stiffnecked people” (

Deuteronomy 9:6).
It is the same thing in the N.T. dispensation.
“For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men
after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But
God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the
wise, and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to
confound the things which are mighty; and base things of the world,
and things which are despised, hath God chosen, and things which
are not to bring to nought things that are”
(

1 Corinthians 1:26-28)..40
How remarkable is this: the ones chosen to successfully resist Satan,
overcome the world, persevere in the difficult path of faith and obedience
and finally win through to Heaven, are the feeble, the weak, the base, the
despised, and the mere nobodies. This has ever presented a stumblingblock
to the proud pharisee: “have any of the rulers believed on Him?”
(

John 7:48). That the priests and scribes be passed by and publicans
and harlots called to feast with Christ, that heavenly things should be
hidden from the wise and prudent and revealed to babes, evokes the sneer
of the learned “Christianity is only suited to old women and children.” And
why is this God’s way? “That no flesh should glory in His presence”
(

1 Corinthians 1:29), that the crown of honor should he placed on the
head of Him who alone is entitled to wear it, that we may learn the marvel
of perseverance is the result of sovereign and miraculous grace.
2. This is seen in the fewness of them. There is but “a remnant according
to the election of grace” (

Romans 11:5) even among those who bear
the name of the Lord, and in comparison with the hundreds of millions in
heathendom who worship false gods and the vast multitudes in
Christendom who make no profession at all, the real people of God
constitute such an insignificant handful as to be almost lost to view. One
had naturally thought that if the Lord purposed to have a people on earth
who should glorify His name that they would be conspicuous in size,
commanding attention and respect. Is it not a maxim of worldly wisdom
that “there is strength in numbers” and did not Napoleon give expression
thereto in his satirical dictum “God is always on the side of the biggest
battalions”? Ah, but here too God’s thoughts and ways are the very
opposite of the world’s, for His strength is “made perfect in weakness”
(

2 Corinthians 12:9) and the things which are highly esteemed among
men are “abomination in the sight of God” (

Luke 16:15). Turn, my
reader, to

Judges 7:2 and ponder anew the lesson Jehovah taught
Gideon when He said,
“The people that are with thee are too many for Me to give the
Midianites into their hands, lest Israel vaunt themselves!”
Not only have the Lord’s people always been in the minority but they have
never included more than a fractional percentage of earth’s population.
Only eight were delivered from the flood. From the days of Noah unto
Moses—a period of roughly eight and a half centuries—we may count
upon our fingers those recorded in Holy Writ who gave evidence of.41
spiritual life. It requires no courage or resolution to follow the tide of
popular opinion, for one is likely to encounter less opposition when he is
on the side of the majority. What a miracle that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob
preserved their piety in Canaan when surrounded by the heathen! The
principle which we are now engaged in illustrating was emphasized by
Moses when he said unto Israel
“The Lord did not set His love upon you, nor choose you, because
ye were more in number than any people; for ye are the fewest of
all people” (

Deuteronomy 7:7).
It is the same in this N.T. dispensation. Near the close of Paul’s life
Christians were referred to as a sect “everywhere spoken against”
(

Acts 28:22). The Lord Jesus declared that His flock was a “little” one
(

Luke 12:32), which increases the wonder of its survival, and though in
recent years the membership of the “churches” swelled to huge
proportions, more and more it is now becoming apparent that with rare
exceptions they were but nominal professors and that only a “few” tread
that Way which leadeth unto Life (

Matthew 7:14).
3. This is seen in God’s leaving them in this world. We might well suppose
that since the Father hath set His heart upon them He would take them
Home as soon as they are brought from death unto life. Instead they are
left down here, most of them for many years, in a hostile country in the
Enemy’s territory, for “the whole world lieth in the Wicked one” (

1
John 5:19). And why? that they may have opportunity to manifest their
love for Him, that despite ceaseless opposition and innumerable
temptations to cast off their allegiance they will, by His grace, remain
faithful unto death. We marvel that Noah was preserved in the ark, when
the devastating flood without swept away the entire human race from the
earth and when he was surrounded by all manner of wild beasts within.
Why was he not torn to pieces by the lions and tigers? or poisoned by the
stench from the dung of all the animals? Though he remained there no less
than a year, yet at the end thereof he and all his household stepped forth
alive and well. Not less wonderful is the survival of the Christian in a world
where there is nothing to help spiritually but everything to the contrary.
The believer may be compared to an individual who has thrown off
allegiance to his king, has disowned his country, and refuses obedience to
its laws, yet continues to dwell in the land he has renounced and hard by
the sovereign he has forsworn. The grace of God has called us out of the.42
world, but the providence of God has sent us into the world. We may
therefore expect nothing but hatred and hostility from it. The world will
never forgive the act by which we broke from its thralldom, renounced its
sway, relinquished its pleasures and resigned its friendship. Nor can it look
with complacency upon the godly, self-denying and unworldly life of the
Christian, which is a constant rebuke of its own carnality and folly. First it
will vail its opposition and conceal its malignity beneath smiles and flattery,
seeking to win back the one it has lost. But when that effort proves
unavailing it changes its course and with venomed tongue, tireless zeal and
devilish tactics seeks by detraction and falsehood to wound and injure the
people of God. We marvel at the three Hebrews not being destroyed in
Babylon’s fiery furnace, but it is not less a miracle for a believer to
persevere in the path of holiness amid the contagious sinfulness, seductive
allurements and relentless persecutions of an evil world.
4. This is seen in the old nature being left in the saint. Since God is pleased
to leave His people in this howling wilderness for a season, where
everything seems to be dead against them, surely He will rid them of that
which is most of all calculated to lead to their fatal undoing. If He requires
them to be “holy in all manner of conversation” (

1 Peter 1:15), will
He not purge them of all inward corruptions? If the sons of God are to be
“without rebuke in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation,”
among whom they are to “shine as lights in the world” (

Philippians
2:15), will He not remove all darkness from their understanding? And
again we are made to realize how worthless is all human reasoning upon
spiritual matters. Indwelling sin remains in the believer: the flesh is neither
eradicated nor transformed. But how can we expect those with a sink of
iniquity still within them to maintain a godly walk? Ah, therein we are
brought to see again the marvel of the saint’s perseverance. If a lorry has to
pass down a street where the buildings on either side are burning fiercely,
would it not greatly augment the wonder of its journeying through
successfully when we learned that the lorry was laden with barrels of
gunpowder and dynamite?
This is precisely the case of the believer: there is that in him which is
responsive to the evil without him. The world and his heart are in a
confederacy against the good of his soul, so that he can neither eat nor
drink, work nor sleep in safety because of enemies without and treacherous
lusts within. For a holy angel to dwell here would involve him in no
danger, for in freedom from all inward corruptions there would be nothing.43
in him to which the allurements of the world could appeal. But the
Christian has a stack of dry tinder ready to ignite as soon as the sparks of
temptation alight thereon. O the policy and power, the strength and
prevalency, the nearness and treachery of indwelling sin. It is something
which cleaves to all the faculties: not only in us but part and parcel of us. It
dwells there (

Romans 7:17) ever seeking our overthrow. Such is our
native depravity that it is capable of transmuting blessings into cursings,
making things lawful into snares and entangling us with everything we
meet with. Ah, my reader, if it was a miracle when Elisha caused iron to
swim (2 Kings 2), not less so is it when our affections are set upon things
above and our minds stayed on Jehovah.
5. This is seen in grace’s dwelling place. In what uncongenial and inimical
surroundings is the new nature set — in the depraved soul of a fallen
creature. Not only is there nothing in man capable of nourishing the
principle of holiness but everything which is directly opposed thereto: “the
flesh lusteth against the spirit” (

Galatians 5:17). Birds do not fly
beneath the waves nor will fish live on dry ground because they are out of
their native element: then what a wonder it is for grace to be preserved and
grow in a heart which by nature is desperately wicked. Would trees grow if
their seeds were planted in salt: why then should communicated grace take
root and bring forth the fruit of the Spirit when planted in the midst of
corruption? That is truly a miracle of Divine horticulture: a miracle which
is far too little attended unto and admired. Well may each believer exclaim
“I am a wonder to many” (

Psalm 71:7) not failing to add “but Thou art
my refuge.” The Christian is a mystery to himself, an enigma to the
unregenerate, who cannot understand his denying himself the things they
delight in and finding pleasure in what they loath: but he is a “wonder,” a
prodigy of grace, unto his brethren and sisters in Christ.
The miracle of the survival of the principle of grace in a human soul will be
the more manifest if we contrast the present case of the believer with that
of Adam in the day of this pristine purity. Grace was connatural with our
first parents when their Maker pronounced them “very good;” if then they
so quickly lost their grace when it was placed in a pure soil, what a wonder
it is that it should be preserved in a heart which is essentially evil! When
the Son of God became incarnate Herod moved the whole country in a
determined attempt to slay Him: and when Christ comes into the heart the
whole soul rises up in opposition against Him. The carnal mind, the lusts of
the flesh, an intractable will, are all antagonistic to every breathing after.44
holiness. The preservation of grace in the saint is more remarkable than for
one to succeed in carrying an unprotected but lighted candle across an
open moor in a boisterous wind. Yea, as the Puritans were wont to say, it
is as though a fire were kept burning year after year in the midst of the
ocean. Grace is not only preserved but maintains its purity amid indwelling
sin: as gold cannot be altered in its nature by the dross or transmuted into
the rubbish amid which it lies, neither can the new nature be defiled by the
mass of corruption wherein it dwells.
6. This is seen in their exposure to Satan’s attacks. If there were no Devil
at all it would be a miracle that any believer should persevere in the path of
obedience while living in such a world as this. Surrounded as he is by the
ungodly, ever seeking to allure him into their own sinful ways, carrying
within him lusts which are in full accord with the evil around him, it is a
wonder of wonders that he should remain steadfast. But over and above
that, he is called upon to resist the arch-enemy of God, the mightiest of all
His creatures, who is filled with enmity against him and bent upon his
destruction. We are plainly warned
“your adversary the Devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about seeking
whom he may devour” (

1 Peter 5:8):
how then shall feeble lambs hope to successfully resist him! We are told
that when the woman brought forth the “man-child who was to rule all
nations” that, the red dragon
“stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered for to
devour her child” (

Revelation 12:4).
As the dragon acted thus toward the Head Himself so does he still seek to
vent his malice upon the members of His mystical body.
Who is capable of estimating the power of Satan and the hosts of evil
spirits he commands. And who can adequately describe the weakness and
frailty of those called upon to withstand his attacks. If Adam in paradise
with no lust within to entice and no world under the curse all around him,
fell under the very first assault of Satan upon him, who are we to engage
him in conflict. Fallen man could as well move a mountain with his finger
as overcome the Prince of this world. Nevertheless of renewed men it is
written.45
“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against
principalities and powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this
world, against wicked spirits in the heavenlies”
(

Ephesians 6:12).
Satan with all his wisdom, his power, his myrmidons are marshaled and
exerted in tremendous opposition to the interests of the children of God, as
the histories of Job, of David (

1 Chronicles 21:1), of Joshua,
(

Zechariah 3:1), of Peter (

Luke 22:31), and of Paul (

1
Thessalonians 2:15) clearly show. We have often marveled at the
deliverance of Daniel while spending a night in the lions’ den, no less a
miracle is the Christian’s preservation from the continuous attacks of Satan
and all his demons. “They overcame Him by the blood of the Lamb and by
the word of their testimony” (

Revelation 12:11).
7. This is seen in the renunciations they are required to make. “If any come
to Me and hate not his father and mother, and wife and children, and
brethren and sisters, yea and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple.
And whosoever doth not bear his cross and come after Me, he cannot be
My disciple. So likewise whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that
he hath, he cannot be My disciple” Who can be expected to accept
Christian discipleship on such exacting terms as these! No wonder that man
of all shades of theological opinion have invented terms which are easier
and pleasanter to the flesh, yet such are only blind leaders of the blind.
Christ will receive none who refuse His yoke. God will not own as His
people those who refuse to give Him their hearts. Sin must be hated, lusts
must be mortified, the world must be renounced. A Christian is one who
repudiates his own wisdom, strength and righteousness. A Christian is one
who holds himself and all that he hath at the disposal of the Lord. As
Abram at the call of God turned his back on the old manner of life, so
those who are his believing children are made willing to sacrifice all their
temporal interests, counting not their lives dear unto themselves. What a
marvel is this that grace enables its possessor to pluck out right eyes and
cut off right hands, yea which empowers timid women and children to go
to the stake rather than apostatize.
8. This is seen in the Way they are required to walk in. It is a “narrow”
way, for it is shut in on either side by the Divine commandments, which
forbid all that is contrary to the Divine will. It is the way of “holiness,”
without which no man shall see the Lord. It is the way of obedience, of.46
complete and continuous subjection to the Lord, wherein my own will is
set aside. It is a difficult way, hard to find and harder still to traverse, for
the whole of it is uphill. It is a lonely way, for there are but few upon it. It
is therefore a way which is entirely contrary to flesh and blood, which
presents no attraction to fallen human nature. Yet it is the only way which
leadeth unto life. That narrow way of self-abnegation is the one which
Christ trod and sufficient for the disciple to be as his Master. He has left us
an example that we should follow His steps, so that there is no following of
Christ without walking in the way He went, and that way was one of
sacrifice, of bearing reproach, of enduring suffering.
“Whosoever will save his life (for himself) shall lose it, and
whosoever will lose his life for My sake shall find it”
(

Matthew 16:25).
No cross, no crown. What a marvel it is for any sinful creature to
voluntarily choose such a path, to accept the cross as the dominant
principle of his life.
9. This is seen in the frailty of the Christian. We would naturally think that
since God requires His people to overcome such formidable obstacles,
perform such difficult tasks and wrestle with such enemies, He would make
them strong and powerful. Surely if they are to maintain their piety in a
world like this, discharge duties which are contrary to flesh and blood,
resist the Devil and all his hosts, the Lord will make each of His saints as
mighty spiritually as Samson was physically. If one of them shall chase a
thousand and two of them put ten thousand to flight must it not be because
of their superior might. How shall they endure opposition, overcome
temptations, be fruitful unto every good work unless they be endued with
abundant grace. But here again the Lord’s thoughts are the very opposite
of ours. His people are so frail and helpless in themselves that He declares
“without Me ye can do nothing” and sooner or later each of them is made
to realize this for himself. Apart from the Lord the believer is as weak as
water. Power for the conflict lies not in himself, but in Another: “be strong
in the Lord and in the power of His might” (

Ephesians 6:10). Peter
thought he was strong enough in himself to overcome temptation, but he
soon discovered that though the spirit was willing the flesh was weak.
But is there not such a thing as growing in grace and in the knowledge of
the Lord? Certainly there is, but such progress is of a very different nature
from what many imagine. Growth in grace is a deepening realization of.47
where our strength, our wisdom, the supply for every need is to be found.
Growing in grace is not an increasing self-sufficiency but an increasing
dependency upon God. Those who are spiritually the strongest are they
who know most of their own weakness. It is the empty vessel which God
fills.
“He giveth power to the faint, and to them that have no might (of
their own) He increaseth strength” (

Isaiah 40:29).
Surely none of us can hope to attain a higher measure than that of the most
favored of the apostles: yet he acknowledged “when lam weak then am I
strong” (

2 Corinthians 12:10). Here then is truly a miracle: that one
who is compassed with infirmity, who is not sufficient of himself to think
any thing as of himself (

2 Corinthians 3:5)—and therefore still less able
to do anything good—who has “no might” of his own, who is utterly
helpless in himself, should nevertheless fight a good fight, finish the course
and keep the faith. “God hath chosen the weak things of the world to
confound the things which are mighty.”
10. This is seen in the fruits which the Christian bears. We have already
called attention to the survival of the principle of grace despite the
uncongenial soil in which it is placed and the foul atmosphere of this world
where it grows, and equally wonderful is that which issues from it. This
line of thought might be extended considerably, but space requires us to
abbreviate. What a marvel that the Christian’s faith should be preserved
amid so many trials and buffetings, betrayals by false brethren, and even the
hidings of God’s face: that notwithstanding the most painful crosses and
losses it affirms “yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of
death, I will fear no evil.” Not only have God’s saints remained steadfast
under persecution, but after being “beaten” they rejoiced that they were
counted worthy to suffer shame for the name of Jesus” (

Acts 5:40, 41),
while others “took joyfully the spoiling of their goods” (

Hebrews
10:34). What a marvelous fruit is this, to “glory in tribulation”
(

Romans 5:3), to “sing praise unto God” (

Acts 16:25) while lying
in a dungeon with backs bleeding. Such fruits are not the products of
nature. To hope against hope (

Romans 4:18), to acknowledge “it is
good for me that I have been afflicted” (

Psalm 119:71), to cry “Lord,
lay not this sin to their charge” (

Acts 7:60) while being stoned to
death, are the fruits of Divine grace..48
11. This is seen in their submission under and triumph of faith over the
severest chastisements. It is natural to murmur when everything appears to
go wrong and the face of Providence wears a dark frown, but it is
supernatural to meekly submit and say “the will of the Lord be done.”
When “fire from the Lord” went out and devoured Nadab and Abihu
because of their presumptuous conduct, so far from their father making an
angry outburst at the severity of their punishment we are told that he “held
his peace” (

Leviticus 10:3). When the awful tidings was broken to the
aged Eli that both of his wayward sons were to be smitten by Divine
judgment on the same day, he quietly acquiesced saying “It is the Lord: let
Him do what seemeth Him good” (

1 Samuel 3:18). When Job’s sons
and daughters were suddenly stricken with death and his flocks and herds
carried away by thieves, he exclaimed
“The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the
name of the Lord” (

1:2 1),
and when his own body was smitten with “sore boils from the sole of his
foot unto his crown,” so far from losing all confidence in God and
apostatizing he declared
“though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him” (

Job 13:15).
12. This is seen in their perseverance in piety when deprived of all public
means of grace. When the undershepherds are taken away what shall the
poor sheep do? When corporate testimony breaks down what will become
of the individual? When Zion is made desolate and the Lord’s people are
carried captives into a strange land, will they not pine away? True this is an
exceptional state of affairs, yet at various stages of history it has pleased
God to deprive numbers of His people of all the external means of grace
and preserve them as isolated units. It was thus at a very early stage.
Behold Abraham, the father of the faithful, dwelling alone amid the
heathen, yet maintaining communion with the Lord. Behold Daniel in
Babylon, in the face of deadly peril, preserving his piety. Some of us used
to sing as children “Dare to be a Daniel, dare to stand alone, dare to have a
purpose true, and dare to make it known.” Is not our own lot cast in a day
when not a few of the scattered children of God have to lament
“I am as a sparrow alone upon the housetop” (

Psalm 102:7)!
Even so, as God miraculously sustained Elijah in the solitudes of Cherith so
He will preserve each of them..49
13. This is seen in their deliverance from apostasy. What numbers have
been fatally deceived by Romanism. What multitudes of the outer-court
worshippers have been stumbled by the multiplication of sects in
Protestantism, each claiming to take the Scriptures for their guide yet often
differing on the most fundamental truths. What crowds have been attracted
by the false prophets and heretical teachers, especially in America, during
the past century. But though the real children of God may have been
bewildered yet it drove them to search His Word more closely for
themselves, for they know not the voice of strangers (

John 10:5). In
our own day, because iniquity or lawlessness abounds the love of many has
waxed cold and tens of thousands who a little time ago appeared to “run
well” have gone right back into the world. Yet there is still a remnant who
cleave unto the Lord, and the very fewness of their numbers emphasizes
the marvel of their preservation. It is a miracle of grace that any “hold fast
the confidence and rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end,” never more so
than in this dark day.
What an amazing thing it was that Jonah should be cast overboard into the
sea, without a lifebelt and with no boat to rescue him, and yet that he was
not drowned. Still more remarkable that he should be swallowed by a
whale and remain alive in its belly for three days and nights. Most
wonderful of all that the whale disgorged the prophet not in the ocean, but
vomited him out on the land. So amazing is this that it has been made the
favorite subject of jest by infidels. Yet it presents no difficulty to the
Christian, who knows that “with God all things are possible.” We not only
believe the authenticity of this miracle but have long been convinced it is a
designed type not only of the resurrection of the Redeemer but of the
preservation of the redeemed. The case of Jonah not only adumbrates a
backsliding believer, but an extreme case of backsliding at that: showing
that when a saint yields to self-will and forsakes the way of obedience,
though he will be severely chastened yet the arm of the Lord will reach
after and restore him to the paths of righteousness.
14. This is seen in God’s manifold workings in and for them. This
necessarily follows from all that has been said under the preceding heads.
The perseverance of saints must be the consequence of the Divine
preservation of them: since believers have no spiritual wisdom and no
spiritual strength of their own, God must work in them both to will and to
do of His good pleasure. His preventing grace: as the martyr observed a
murderer on his way to the gallows he exclaimed “there goes John.50
Bradford but for the grace of God.” From how many temptations and sins
on which their hearts were set are Christians delivered, as David from
slaying Nabal. Protecting grace:
“mercy shall compass him about” as a shield (

Psalm 32:10).
Quickening grace, whereby the principle of holiness is enlivened:
“the inward man is renewed day by day” (

2 Corinthians 4:16).
Confirming grace, whereby we are kept from being tossed to and fro:
“Now He which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed
us, is God” (

2 Corinthians 1:21 and cf.

2 Thessalonians
2:17).
Fructifying grace:
“From Me is thy fruit found” (

Hosea 14:8).
Maturing grace:
“make you perfect in every good work to do His will”
(

Hebrews 13:22).
These and other operations of Divine grace are all summed up in that
acknowledgement
“Thou also hast wrought all our works in us” (

Isaiah 26:12)
to which every saint freely ascribes and which alone explains the marvel of
his perseverance..51
CHAPTER 5
ITS SPRINGS
We now turn to contemplate the most important and blessed aspect of our
subject, yea, the very heart and crux thereof. The believer’s perseverance in
faith and holiness is no detached and isolated thing, but an effect of an all-sufficient
cause. It must not be viewed as a separate phenomenon but as
the fruit of Divine operations. The believer’s continuance in the paths of
righteousness is a miracle, and miracle necessarily requires the immediate
agency of God. Our present concern then is to trace this stream back to its
source and to show the springs from which this marvel issues; to admire
the impregnable foundations on which it rests. Only as those springs and
foundations are clearly revealed shall we ascribe the glory unto Him to
whom alone it is due, only so shall we be able to apprehend the absolute
security of the saints, only so shall we perceive the vanity and uselessness
of all the Enemy’s attacks upon this cardinal truth. The perseverance of the
saints is assured by so many infallible guarantees that it is difficult to know
which to bring before the reader and which to omit.
The doctrine for which we are here contending follows as a logical
consequence from the Divine perfections: whatever is agreeable to them,
and they make necessary, must perforce be true; contrariwise whatever is
contrary to them and reflects dishonor upon them must be false. Now the
doctrine of the saints’ final perseverance is agreeable to the Divine
perfections, yea is made entirely necessary by them, and therefore must be
true; and the contrary doctrine of the falling away of real saints so as to
perish everlastingly is repugnant to them and reflects great dishonor upon
them, and therefore must be false. That which we have here briefly
affirmed will be illustrated in detail and demonstrated at length in all that
follows in this and the succeeding section. Summarizing what we propose
to set before the reader it will be found that the eternal security of the
Christian rests upon the good will of the Father, the mediation of the Son,
and the office and operations of the Holy Spirit, and therein we have a
“threefold cord” which cannot possibly be broken.
1. The unchanging love of God. This argument however is one which can
have little weight with those who have imbibed Arminianism and accepted.52
their false interpretation of

John 3:16; but they who perceive the
Divine love to be a discriminating and particular and not an indefinite and
general one will find here that which is sweeter than the honey or the
honeycomb. If it were true that God loves the whole human race then,
seeing a large part thereof is already in Hell, I could draw no assurance
therefrom that I shall never perish. But when I discover that God’s love is
restricted to those whom He chose in Christ and that He loves them with
an “everlasting love,” then I unhesitatingly conclude that “many waters”
cannot quench that love (

Song of Solomon 8:7). It would lead too far
afield, for us to show wherein so many err concerning the meaning of

John 3:16 or to evidence at length the discriminating character of
God’s love: suffice it here to point out that
“For whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth” (

Hebrews 12:6)
would be meaningless did He love everybody—the next clause “and
scourgeth every son whom He receiveth” at once defines the objects of His
affection.
“Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated” (

Romans 9:13):
therefore Jacob is now in Heaven, but his brother has received the due
reward of his iniquities.
“We love Him because He first loved us” (

1 John 4:19).
God does not love His people because they love Him. No, we read of
“His great love wherewith He loved us even when we were dead in
sins” (

Ephesians 2:4, 5):
when we had no desire to be loved by Him, yea when we were provoking
Him to His face and displaying the fierce enmity of our unrenewed hearts.
God loved His people before they had a historical existence, for while they
were yet sinners Christ died for them (

Romans 5:8). Why, He declares
“I have loved thee with an everlasting love” (

Jeremiah 31:3).
That love then derives not its strength or its streams from anything in us,
but flows spontaneously from the heart of God, finding its deep wellspring
within His own bosom. Since God is love He can no more cease to love
than He can cease to be, and since God changes not there can be no
variation and fluctuation in His love..53
The object of God’s love is His Church, which is His special delight. From
all eternity He loved His elect, and loved them as His elect, as having
peculiar propriety in them. He loved them in Christ, chose them in Christ,
and blessed them with all spiritual blessings in Christ (

Ephesians 1:3).
He loved them so as to predestinate them unto the adoption of children
(

Ephesians 1:5). He loved their persons in Christ with the same love
wherewith He loves Christ their Head (

John 17:23). He loved them so
as to make them “accepted in the Beloved” (

Ephesians 1:6). It is a love
which can never decay, for it is founded on the good pleasure of His will
towards them. God’s love to Christ knows no change nor can it to the
members of His body: “and hast loved them as Thou hast loved Me”
(

John 17:23), declares the Savior, and He is speaking there as the Head
of His Church. We are loved in Christ and according to the relation we
stand in to Him, that is, as members to an Head—loved as freely and
immutably.
Though the effects of God’s love vary in their manifestations, yet there is
no diminution of His affection and none in its perpetuity. Men often love
those who prove otherwise than they expected, and come to repent of the
affection lavished upon them. But it is not so with God, for He foreknew
all that ever we would be and do—our sins, unworthiness, rebellions; yet
set His heart upon us notwithstanding—so that He can never say we turned
out other than He thought we would. Had God’s love been set upon us
because of some good or excellency in us, then when that goodness
declined, His love would diminish too.
“God foresaw all the sins you would ever have: it was all present to
His sacred mind, and yet He loved you, and loves you still” (C.H.
Spurgeon).
The child of God may for a season depart from the paths of righteousness,
and then will his Father visit his transgression with the rod and his iniquity
with stripes,
“nevertheless My lovingkindness will I not make void from him nor
suffer My faithfulness to fail” (

Psalm 89:32, 33)
is His own declaration.
Because God’s love is uncreated it is unchanging. God does not love by
fits and starts, but forever. Because it is founded upon nothing in its object,
no change in that object can forfeit it. In every state and condition into.54
which the elect can come, God’s love unto them is invariable and
unalterable, constant and permanent. We may repent of the love which we
bestowed an some of our fellows because we were unable to make them
good: the more we loved them, the more they took advantage of it. Not so
with God: whom He loves He makes holy. This is one of the effects of His
love: to shed abroad His love in the hearts of its objects, to stamp His own
image upon them, to cause them to walk in His fear. His love to the elect is
perpetual because it is in Christ; they are joined to Christ by an union
which cannot be dissolved. God must cease to love Christ their Head
before He can cease to love any member of His Body. Then what madness,
what blasphemy, to think of any of them perishing!
Over this blessed attribute of Divine love is written in letters of light
“Semper idem,” always the same. Those who are once the objects of God’s
love are so always. If God has ever loved you, my reader, He does so
today: loves you with the same love as when He gave His Son to die for
you; loves you with the same love as when He sent His Holy Spirit into
your heart crying “Abba Father;” loves you with the same love as He will
in Heaven throughout the endless ages. And nothing can or shall separate
you from that love (see

Romans 8:38, 39). A preacher once called
upon a farmer. As he approached his residence he saw over the barn a
weathervane and on the top of it in large letters the text “God is love.”
When the farmer appeared the preacher pointed to that vane and said in
tones of rebuke “Do you imagine God’s love is as variable as the
weather?” No, said the farmer, I put that text there to remind me that no
matter what the direction of the wind. God is love!
“His love no end or measure knows,
No change can turn its course,
Immutably the same it flows
From one eternal source.”
2. The immutability of God. The guarantee for the perpetuity of God’s love
unto His people is found in the immutability of His nature. From
everlasting Jehovah is God: underived, independent, self-sufficient, nothing
can in anywise affect Him or produce any change in Him. Says the Psalmist
“Of old hast Thou laid the foundation of the earth and the heavens
are the work of Thy hands. They shall perish, but Thou shalt
endure: yea, all of them shall wax old like a garment: as a vesture.55
shalt Thou change them and they shall be changed. But Thou art
the same and Thy years shall have no end” (

102:25-27).
This is one of the excellencies of the Creator which distinguishes Him from
all creatures. God is perpetually the same: subject to no change in His
being, attributes, or determinations. All that He is today He ever has been
and ever will be. He cannot change for the better for He is already perfect,
and being perfect He cannot change for the worse. He only can say “I am
that I am” (

Exodus 3:14). Unaffected by anything outside Himself,
improvement or deterioration is impossible. His glory is an unfading one.
Now in this immutability of God lies the eternal security of His people.
“For I am the Lord, I change not: therefore ye sons of Jacob are
not consumed” (

Malachi 3:6).
If any of them were lost, “consumed” by His wrath, then He must change
in His attitude toward them, so that those whom He once loved He now
hates. But that would also involve an alteration in His purpose concerning
them, so that whereas He has appointed them “to obtain salvation by our
Lord Jesus Christ” (

1 Thessalonians 5:9), He must consign them over
to destruction. How entirely different would such a variable and fickle
character be from the God of Holy Writ! Of Jehovah it is said “He is of one
mind, and who can turn Him?” (

Job 23:13). It is because God changes
not His people are not consumed: His love wanes not, His will is stable,
His word sure. Because He is
“The Father of lights, with whom is no variableness neither shadow
of turning” (

James 1:17)
we have an immovable rock on which to stand while everything around us
is being swept away.
The foundation of our preservation unto the end is the immutability of
God’s being, whereunto His love is conformed, so that His everlasting
Deity must undergo alteration before any of His children could perish. This
is clearly the force of both

Malachi 3:6 and

James 1:17. In the
latter the apostle speaks of “every good and every perfect gift” which the
saints receive from their Father, prefacing the same with “Do not err my
beloved brethren. “The gifts bestowed upon the elect at their regeneration
are not like Jonah’s gourd which flourished only for a brief season. No,.56
they are from Him with whom is “no variableness” either in His love or
will.
“For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance”
(

Romans 11:29)
or change of mind, and therefore they are never revoked. Let it be noted
that those words were added to clinch the certainty of the purpose of God
towards the remnant of the Jews according to the election of grace. Thus
the immutability of God is the guarantee of the stability of His love and the
irrevocableness of His grace unto us.
3. The irreversible purpose of God. Having set His heart upon a chosen
people, God formed a purpose of grace toward them: “in love having
predestinated them” (

Ephesians 1:5) and the immutability of His being
insures the fulfillment of that purpose. The Most High does not determine
to do a thing at one time and decide not to do it at another.
“The counsel of the Lord standeth forever, the thoughts of His
heart to all generations” (

Psalm 33:11):
because He has counseled everlasting glory unto His people, nothing can
alter it.
“For the Lord of hosts hath purposed, and who shall disannul it?”
(

Isaiah 14:27).
There are indeed many changes in the external dispensations of His
providence toward His elect, but none concerning the thoughts of His heart
for them.
“I am God, and there is none like unto Me, declaring the end from
the beginning and from ancient times the things that are not yet
done, saying, My counsel shall stand and I will do all My
pleasure…1 have spoken, I will also bring it to pass; I have
purposed, I will also do it” (

Isaiah 46:9-11).
What a foundation is there here for faith to rest upon: the Divine will is
inflexible, His counsels irreversible.
“God is not a man that He should lie, neither the son of man that
He should repent” (

Numbers 23:19)..57
Consider the things which move men to change their minds and alter their
purposes, and then mark how utterly inapplicable such things are to the
Almighty. Men form a plan and then cancel it through fickleness and
inconstancy: but God is immutable. Men make a promise and then revoke
it because of their depravity and untruthfulness: but God is infinitely holy
and cannot lie. Men devise a project and fail to carry it through because of
lack of ability or power: but God is omniscient and omnipotent. Men
determine a certain thing for want of foresight and because the unexpected
intervenes they are thwarted: but God knows the end from the beginning.
Men change their schemes because the influence or threats of superiors
deter them: but God has no superior or equal and fears none. No
unforeseen occasion can arise which would render it expedient for God to
change His mind.
In

Romans 8:28 we read of a company who are “the called according
to His purpose” and what that signifies the verses which immediately
follow tell us. It was a purpose they could neither originate nor frustrate.
“For whom He did foreknow” with a knowledge of approbation (contrast
“I never knew you”:

Matthew 7:23) “He also did predestinate,”
appoint and fore-arrange. That Divine predestination results in their being
effectually called out of darkness into God’s marvelous light and their
being justified or accounted righteous before God because Christ’s perfect
obedience is reckoned to their account. And then, so infallibly certain is the
accomplishment of God’s purpose, the apostle added “and whom He
justified them He also (not “will glorify,” but) glorified.” “God, willing
more abundantly to show unto the heirs of promise the immutability of His
counsel (the immovable fixedness of His design), confirmed it by an oath”
(

Hebrews 6:17). What more can we desire: the Holy One must
foreswear Himself before one of His own can perish.
4. The everlasting covenant of God. Having set His heart upon a special
people God formed a purpose of grace toward them and that purpose is
attested and secured by formal contract. By express stipulation the Eternal
Three solemnly undertook for every heir of promise to do all for and in
them, so that not one of them shall perish.
“I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn
away from them to do them good, but I will put My fear in their
hearts, that they shall not depart from Me” (

Jeremiah 32:40)..58
How comprehensive are those promises! First, Jehovah assures His people
that there shall be no alteration in His good will toward them. To that it
might be objected, True, God will not turn away from them, but they may
turn away from Him, yea utterly apostatize. Therefore He here declares
that He will put His fear in their hearts, or grant them such supplies of
grace, as to preserve them from falling away.
“Were they to return to the service of Satan, He could not continue
to do them good consistently with the holiness of His character, but
He will preserve them in such a state that He may hold fellowship
with them without any impeachment of His holiness” (J. Dick).
This covenant of grace is made with the elect in Christ before the
foundation of the world, wherein He became their “Surety” (

Hebrews
7:22), undertaking to discharge all their liabilities and make full satisfaction
for them. Accordingly God has promised the Surety
“I will put my laws into their mind and write them upon their
hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to Me a
people” (

Hebrews 8:10).
Those promises are of free grace, and there is no contingency or
uncertainty about them, for they are “yea,” and “Amen” in Christ (

2
Corinthians 1:20). Mark how God Himself regards His engagement
therein:
“My covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing that is gone out
of My lips” (

Psalm 89:34).
“He will ever be mindful of His covenant” (

Psalm 111:5).
O what grounds for confidence, for joy, for praise is there here! Therefore
may each believer affirm with David
“He hath made with me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all
things and sure: for this is all my salvation and all my desire” (

2
Samuel 23:5).
“For the mountains shall depart and the hills be removed, but My
kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of
my peace be removed, saith the Lord that hath mercy on thee”
(

Isaiah 54:10)..59
To summarize what has yet been before us. If any saint were eventually
lost it could only be because the being and character of God Himself had
undergone a change for the worse. His affections must alter, so that one
whom He loved must become the object of His hatred. His purpose
concerning him must change, so that whereas He appointed him to
salvation He must consign him to destruction. He must reverse the
promises made and the blessings bestowed upon him. His faithfulness must
fail, so that His Word can no longer be relied upon. Thus it is obvious that
the alternative to what has been set forth above is unthinkable and
impossible. The wisdom of God requires that in appointing the end (the
glorification of His people) He has also ordained that the means thereto are
sufficient, and His power insures that those means shall prove effectual.
Every perfection of God guarantees that all His people shall get safely to
Heaven.
5. The irrepealable promises of God. The “exceeding great and precious
promises” (

2 Peter 1:4) which God hath made to His people have been
likened unto streams along which His covenant engagements run, for they
all go back to and have their source in that eternal compact which He made
with the elect in Christ. Their Surety undertook to do certain things for
them and in return thereof God agreed that certain things should be
bestowed upon them on whose behalf He transacted. What those things
were that God stipulated to impart unto those Christ represented are
revealed in the various promises which He has made unto them. Those
promises are God’s free and gracious dispensations or discoveries of His
good will unto the elect in Christ in a covenant of grace. Therein, upon His
veracity and faithfulness, He engages Himself to be their God, to give His
Son unto them and for them, and His Spirit to abide with and in them,
guaranteeing to supply everything that they need in order to make them
acceptable before Him and to bring them all unto the everlasting enjoyment
of Himself.
Those promises are free and gracious as to the rise or origin of them, being
given to us merely by the good pleasure of God, and not in return for
anything demanded of us: that which is of promise is opposed to that which
is in any way demanded or procured by us (

Romans 4:13, 14;

Galatians 3:18). These promises are made unto us as sinners, and
under no other qualification whatever, it being by sovereign mercy alone
that any are delivered out of their fallen and depraved state. The promises
are given unto them as “shut up under sin” (

Galatians 3:22). These.60
discoveries of God’s good will are made known in Christ as the sole
Medium of their accomplishment and as the alone procuring Cause of the
good things contained in them.
“For all the promises of God in Him are yea and in Him amen”
(

2 Corinthians 1:20)
—in and by Christ’s mediation they have all their confirmation and
certainty to us. The foundation of our assurance of their accomplishment is
the character of their Maker: they are the engagements of Him “who
cannot lie” (

Titus 1:2;

Hebrews 6:17, 18)—heaven and earth shall
pass away but His word shall endure forever.
The grand fountain-head promise from which all the others flow is that
God will be “The God of His people” (

Jeremiah 24:7; 31:33;

Ezekiel 11:20). In order that He may be “our God” two chief things
are required. First, that all breaches and differences between Him and us
shall be removed, perfect peace and agreement made, and we rendered
well-pleasing in His sight: sin must be put away and everlasting
righteousness brought in. In order to this Christ acted as our Surety, our
Priest, our Redeemer, and has become “our Peace” (

Ephesians 2:14),
being of God
“made unto us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and
redemption” (

1 Corinthians 1:30).
He
“gave Himself for the Church, that He might sanctify and cleanse it
with the washing of water by the Word, that He might present it to
Himself a glorious Church” (

Ephesians 5:25, 26).
Second, that we might be kept meet for communion with Him as our God
and for our eternal enjoyment of Him as our Portion. From this flows the
promise of the Holy Spirit (

Acts 1:5; 2:33) that He would exercise
unto us all the acts of His love and work in us that obedience which He
required from and accepts of us in Jesus Christ, so preserving us unto
Himself. This promise of the Spirit in the covenant is witnessed in

Isaiah 59:21;

Ezekiel 36:27, etc.
From the fountain promise that God will be our God in covenant
relationship flow the two broad streams that He would give Christ for us.61
and the Holy Spirit to us, and Out from these two main streams issue a
thousand rivulets for our refreshment. From those two streams come forth
all the blessings Christ hath purchased for us and all the graces that the
Holy Spirit produces in the elect, by the first of which they are made
acceptable unto God and by the latter of which they have an enjoyment of
Him. All the promises of mercy and forgiveness, faith and holiness,
obedience and perseverance, joy and consolation, affliction and deliverance
issue from them, Thus it follows that whoever hath an interest in one
promise hath an interest in them all and in the fountain head from which
they flow. Have we a hold on any promise? that is by the Holy Spirit, and
from Him to Christ, and thence unto the bosom of the Father. Hence also
the most conditional of the promises are ultimately to be resolved into the
absolute and unconditional love of God: He who promises to us life upon
believing, works faith in us:
“according as His Divine power hath given unto us all things that
pertain unto life and godliness”:

2 Peter 1:3.
(Most of the above is condensed from John Owen, the Puritan).
Let us cite a few of the particular promises wherein the Lord has engaged
Himself to grant such supplies of His Spirit that we shall be supported
against all opposition and preserved from such sins as would separate any
of His saints from Him.
“For the Lord loveth judgment and forsaketh not His saints: they
are preserved forever” (

Psalm 37:28).
“They that trust in the Lord shall be as mount Zion, which cannot
be moved, but abideth forever. As the mountains are round about
Jerusalem, so the Lord is round about His people from henceforth
even forever” (

Psalm 125:1, 2).
“Even to your old age lam He, and even to hoar hairs will I carry
you: I have made and I will bear, even I will carry and deliver you”
(

Isaiah 46:4).
“For the mountains shall depart and the hills be removed, but My
kindness shall not depart from them, neither shall the covenant of
My peace be removed, saith the Lord that hath mercy on thee”
(

Isaiah 54:10)..62
“He shall confirm you unto the end” (

1 Corinthians 1:8).
“I will never leave thee nor forsake thee” (

Hebrews 13:5).
The same Divine protection unto everlasting bliss is confirmed by many
assertory passages as well as promissory.
“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever” (

Psalm 23:4).
“I am continually with thee. Thou hast holden me with Thy right
hand: thou shalt guide me with Thy counsel and afterward receive
me to glory” (

Psalm 73:23, 24).
“The Lord shall deliver me from every evil work and will preserve
me unto His heavenly kingdom” (

2 Timothy 4:18).
“They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had
been of us, they would have continued with us” (

1 John 2:19).
God must forsake His integrity before He would abandon one of His
people. But that cannot be: “faithful is He that calleth you, who also will
do it” (

1 Thessalonians 5:24).
“The Lord is faithful, who shall stablish you and keep you from
evil” (

2 Thessalonians 3:3).
They who affirm that any of God’s children will perish are guilty of the
fearful sin of charging Him with perjury.
6. The gracious acts of God toward His people. These are of such a nature
as insure their everlasting salvation. In addition to His acts of electing
them, making a sure covenant with His Son on their behalf and the putting
of them into His hands with all grace and glory for them, we may mention
the adoption of them into His family. This is an inestimable blessing, little
understood today. It is a sonship-in-law, God bestowing upon His elect the
legal status of sons. This is “by Jesus Christ” (

Ephesians 1:5): since
Christ is Son of God essentially and the elect are united to Him, they are
the sons-in-law of God. Christ as God-man was set up as the Prototype
and we are modeled after Him. As a woman becomes a mandaughter-in-law
by his son’s betrothing himself to her, so we are sons-in-law unto God
an inalienable legal title—as the term “adoption” plainly signifies—by
marriage union. It is by their relation to the Son of God that the elect are.63
the sons of God. It is not by faith they become sons, rather does faith
manifest them to be such.
“Because ye are sons (not to make us such), God hath sent forth
the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying Abba Father”
(

Galatians 4:6)
“Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us
that we should be called the children of God” (

1 John 3:1).
From thence flows all our dignities and honors: “if sons (Greek) then heirs,
heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ” (

Romans 8:17). Is Christ
King and Priest, so also are we “kings and priests unto God and His
Father” (

Revelation 1:6). Is Christ Jehovah’s “Fellow” (

Zechariah
13:7)? so are we Christ’s “fellows” (

Psalm 45:7). Is Christ God’s
“Firstborn” (

Psalm 89:27)? so we read of “The Church of the
firstborn” (

Hebrews 12:22). Even now are we the sons of God, but “it
doth not yet appear what we shall be,” it is not yet made manifest before
the universe,
“but we know that when He shall appear we shall be like Him”
(

1 John 3:2).
And why are we so assured? Because
“Whom God did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be
conformed to the image of His Son that He might be the Firstborn
among many brethren” (

Romans 8:30).
Because God predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus
Christ to Himself “according to the good pleasure of His will”
(

Ephesians 1:5)—by sovereign grace and not because of anything of
ours—nothing can possibly sever or annul this wondrous relationship.
The justification of God’s people. This is also a legal act. It takes place in
the supreme court of Heaven, where God sits as the Judge of all the earth.
The believing sinner is measured by the holy Law and pronounced
righteous. Of old the question was asked
“But how shall man be just before God?” (

Job 9:2),
for the Law requires nothing less than perfect and perpetual obedience, and
pronounces him accursed who continues not in all that it enjoins.64
(

Galatians 3:10). Had that question been left for solution to finite
intelligence it had remained unsolved forever. How could God show mercy
yet not abate one iota of what His justice requires. How could He treat
with the guilty as though they were innocent? How could He righteously
bestow the reward on those who merited it not? How could He pronounce
righteous those who were unrighteous? Such a thing seems utterly
impossible, nevertheless Divine omniscience has solved these problems,
solved them without tarnishing His honor, yea unto His everlasting glory
and to our everlasting admiration. It is the setting forth of this grand
display of the Divine wisdom which constitutes the supreme blessedness of
the Gospel.
According to the terms of the everlasting covenant Christ became the
Sponsor of His people.
“When the fullness of the time was come God sent forth His Son,
made of a woman, made under the Law” (

Galatians 4:4).
To the Law the incarnate Son rendered a complete and flawless obedience
thereby magnifying and making it honorable (

Isaiah 42:21): the Divine
dignity of His person bestowed more honor on the Law by His obedience
thereto than it had been dishonored by all our manifold disobedience.
Having perfectly fulfilled the Law, Christ then suffered its curse in His
peoples’ stead, thereby blotting Out their sins. That perfect obedience of
Christ is reckoned to our account the moment we believe on Him, so that
believers may say “The Lord our righteousness” (

Jeremiah 23:6). On
the ground of Christ’s righteousness legally becoming ours, God
pronounces us justified (

Romans 3:24; 5:19;

2 Corinthians 5:21).
And therefore because it is “God that justifieth, who is he that
condemneth?” (

Romans 8:33,34). Those justified by God can never be
unjustified. The righteousness by which they are justified is an “everlasting”
one (

Daniel 9:24), the sentence of exoneration passed upon them in the
high court of Heaven can never be revoked by man or devil. They have a
title to everlasting glory and cannot come into condemnation.
7. The death of Christ. When Adam, the federal head as well as the father
of the human race, apostatized, the elect equally with the non-elect fell in
him, and thus they are “by nature the children of wrath even as others”
(

Ephesians 2:3). From that dreadful and direful state they are
recovered by the mediation of Christ and the operation of the Spirit, the
latter being a fruit of the former. We have briefly touched upon the.65
mediation of Christ in the two preceding paragraphs, but as this is of such
vital concern to our present theme, it requires to be considered in more
detail. A large field is here opened before us, but we can now take only a
brief glance at it. Once again we would point out that what we are about to
advance can have little weight with Arminians, who erroneously suppose
that the mediatory work of Christ was general or universal in its character
and design; but to those who have learned from Holy Writ that the
redemption of Christ is definite and particular, a specific ransom for a
specific people, there will be found here a sufficient answer to every
accusation of Satan and an assurance which none of the tribulations of life
can shake.
“Who is he that condemneth?” the apostle asks: “it is Christ that died” is
his triumphant reply (

Romans 8:34). The force of that reply turns upon
the fact that Christ’s death is a substitutionary and atoning one. “For the
transgression of My people was He stricken” says God (

Isaiah 53:8).
“For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the Just for the unjust,
that He might bring us to God” (

1 Peter 3:18).
“He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our
iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him, and with
His stripes we are healed” (

Isaiah 53:5).
Jehovah laid upon Christ the iniquities of His people (

Isaiah 53:6) and
then cried
“Awake O sword against My Shepherd and against the Man that is
My Fellow, saith the Lord of hosts, smite the Shepherd”
(

Zechariah 13:7).
On the cross Christ rendered to God a full satisfaction for the sins of all
those whom the Father gave to Him. Being a merciful and faithful High
Priest in things pertaining to God “to make propitiation (Gk.) for the sins
of the people” (

Hebrews 2:13). Because Christ was made a curse for
sin (

Galatians 3:13) nought but blessing is now our portion.
All for whom Christ died shall most certainly be saved, because He paid
the full price of their redemption. As a surety stands in the room of the
person he represents, the latter reaps the benefit of what the surety has
done in his name, so that if his debt has been paid by the surety, the
creditor can no more demand payment from him. Since Christ made full.66
reparation to God’s Law, making complete atonement for the sins of His
people, then it would be a flagrant violation of Divine justice if ever one of
them should be punished for the same. Christ has purchased His people by
His precious blood, then can we suppose that God will suffer His most
avowed enemy to rob His Son of any of them? Were that to happen, the
Redeemer’s name would be rendered meaningless, for God Himself said
“thou shalt call His name Jesus, for He shall save His people from
their sins” (

Matthew 1:21).
Were that to happen, it could not be true that the Redeemer
“shall see of the travail of His soul and be satisfied”
(

Isaiah 53:10).
Since all the believer’s sins were laid upon Christ and atoned for, what is
there that can possibly condemn him? and if there be nothing, how can he
be cast into Hell? True, none can reach Heaven without persevering in
holiness, but since the atonement of Christ possesses Divine virtue and is of
everlasting efficacy, all for whom it was made must and shall persevere in
holiness. God’s wrath against His people was exhausted upon their
Substitute: the black cloud of His vengeance was emptied at Calvary.
“When I think of my sin it seems impossible that any atonement
should ever be adequate: but when I think of Christ’s death it seems
impossible that any sin should ever need such an atonement as that.
There is in the death of Christ enough and more than enough.
There is not only a sea in which to drown our sins, but the very
tops of the mountains of our guilt are covered” (C.H. Spurgeon).
Therefore is God able to save unto the uttermost them that come unto Him
by Christ (

Hebrews 7:25), yea, even though they have sinned as did
Manasseh or Saul of Tarsus.
Christ has removed everything which could cause separation between God
and His people. First, He has taken away the guilt of their sins, that it shall
never prevail with the Lord to turn from them. Christ hath “obtained
eternal redemption” (

Hebrews 9:12), for them: not a transient and
unstable redemption, but an abiding and efficacious one. In consequence
thereof God declares, “their sins and iniquities will I remember no more”
(

Hebrews 10:17). How could He do so, seeing that the Redeemer was
to “make an end of sins” (

Daniel 9:24)—as to the controversy of them.67
between God and those for whom He died. Christ has so satisfied God’s
justice and fulfilled His Law that no sentence of condemnation can be
pronounced against them, and therefore they must infallibly be saved.
Second, as Christ removed that which alone might turn God from
believers, so He has annulled that which might cause them to depart from
God: neither indwelling sin, Satan or the world, can so prevail as to make
them totally fall away. Christ has destroyed Satan’s right to rule over them
(

Colossians 2:15;

Hebrews 2:14), and He has abolished his power
by “binding” him. (

Matthew 12:29), and therefore are we assured “sin
shall not have dominion over you” (

Romans 6:14)—how could it since
the Holy Spirit Himself indwells us!
“Since Christ bore our sins, and was condemned in our place; since
by His expiatory death the claims of Divine justice are answered,
and the holiness of the Divine Law is maintained, who can condemn
those for whom He died? Oh, what security is this for the believer
in Jesus! Standing beneath the shadow of the cross, the weakest
saint can confront his deadliest foe; and every accusation alleged
and every sentence of condemnation uttered, he can meet, by
pointing to Him who died. In that one fact he sees the great debt
cancelled, the entire curse removed, the grand indictment quashed
and ‘No condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus’ are words
written as in letters of living light upon the cross” (O. Winslow).
8. The resurrection of Christ. It seems strange that so many receive more
comfort at the cross than they do at the empty grave of Christ, for
Scripture itself hesitates not to say,
“If Christ be not raised your faith is vain, ye are yet in your sins”
(

1 Corinthians 15:17).
A dead Savior could not save: one who was himself vanquished by death
would be powerless to deliver sin’s slaves. Here is one of the chief defects
of Romanism—its deluded subjects are occupied with a lifeless Christ,
worshippers of a crucifix. Nor are Protestant preachers above criticism in
this matter, for only too often many of them omit the grandest part of the
Evangel by going no further than Calvary. The glorious Gospel is not fully
preached until we proclaim a risen and victorious Redeemer (

1
Corinthians 15:1-3;

Acts 5:3 1). Christ was “delivered (up to death).68
for our offenses and was raised again for our justification”
(

Romans 4:24),
and as the apostle goes on to declare,
“For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the
death of His Son, much more being reconciled, we shall be saved
by His life” (

Romans 5:10).
What avail would it have been that Christ died for His people if death had
conquered and overwhelmed Him? Had the grave held Him fast, He had
been a prisoner still. But in rising from the tomb Christ made
demonstration of His victory over sin and death: thereby He was
“declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit
of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead” (

Romans 1:4);
“For to this end Christ both died and rose and revived that He
might be Lord both of the dead and living” (

Romans 14:9).
Christ’s sacrificial work was finished at the cross, but proof was needed of
its Divine acceptance. That proof lay with Him who was pleased to “bruise
Him and put Him in grief,” and by raising the Redeemer God furnished
incontestable evidence that all His claims had been met. The death of Christ
was the payment of my awful debt: His resurrection God’s receipt for the
same; it was the public acknowledgement that the bond had been cancelled.
Christ’s resurrection sealed our justification: it was necessary to give
reality to the atonement, and to provide a sure foundation for our faith and
hope. Since God is satisfied, the trembling sinner may confide and securely
repose upon the work of a triumphant Savior.
“Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather that
is risen again” (

Romans 8:34).
Here the resurrection of Christ is presented as the believer’s security
against condemnation. But how does the former guarantee the latter?
There is a causal connection between the two things. First, because Christ
rose again not simply as a private person but as the Surety, the Head and
Representative of all His people. It has not been sufficiently recognized and
emphasized that the Lord Jesus lived, died and rose again as “the Firstborn
among many brethren.” As all whom the first Adam represented fell when.69
he fell, died when he died, so all whom the last Adam represented died
when He died and rose again when He arose. God
“quickened us together with Christ, and hath raised us up together”
(

Ephesians 2:5, 6).
“Risen with Christ” (

Colossians 3:1) is judicially true of every believer.
The Law can no more condemn him: he has been fully and finally delivered
from the wrath to come. Infallibly certain and absolutely secure is he by
virtue of his legal union with the risen Savior. “Christ being raised from
the dead dieth no more: death hath no more dominion over Him”
(

Romans 6:9), nor over me, for His deliverance was mine, the second
death cannot touch me.
Second, because there is a vital union between Christ and His people. Said
the Lord Jesus,
“I am the resurrection and the life: he that believeth on Me, though
he were dead, yet shall he live; and whosoever liveth and believeth
in Me shall never die” (

John 11:25, 26).
Nothing could possibly be plainer or more decisive than that. Spiritual
resurrection makes the believer one with Him who is “alive for evermore”
so that he is forever beyond the reach of death. Well then may we exclaim
with the apostle,
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who
according to His abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a
living hope, by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead”
(

1 Peter 1:3).
Regeneration or being begotten by God is the communication to the soul
of the life of the risen Christ. A faint yet striking illustration of this is seen
in our awakening each morning out of slumber. While our head sleeps,
every member of the body sleeps with it. But the head awakes, and awakes
first, and with that awakening each member awakens also—after the head,
yet in union with it. Thus it is with the mystical Body of Christ the Head
was first quickened, and then in God’s good time His life is imparted to
each of His members, and before any member could perish the Head must
die..70
Third, because as Christ was our Surety here so He is our Representative
on high, and as He endured our penalty so justice requires that we should
enjoy His fullness. Accordingly we read,
“Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord
Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the
everlasting covenant, make you perfect in every good work, to do
His will, working in you that which is well-pleasing in His sight,
through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever, Amen”
(

Hebrews 13:20, 21).
Note well the coherence of this passage. It is in His character as “the God
of peace” He thus acts. Having been pacified or propitiated, God brought
again from the dead our Lord Jesus, not as a private person but in His
official character, as the “Shepherd,” and that, in fulfillment of covenant
stipulation and promise. In consequence thereof, God makes perfect (or
complete) in every good work the “sheep,” preserving and sanctifying them
by working in them that which is well pleasing in His sight, and this
“through Jesus Christ,” or in other words, by communicating to His
members the grace, the life, the fullness, which is in their Head.
9. The Exaltation of Christ. There is a little clause, but one of vast purport,
which the apostle added to
“yea rather that is risen again,” namely, “who is even at the right
hand of God” (

Romans 8:34).
That brief sentence is frequently overlooked, yet is it one which also
guarantees the safety and perpetuity of the Church. The ascension of Christ
is as vital and cardinal a part of the Truth as is His death and resurrection,
and provides the same rich food for faith to feed upon. As it was not
possible for death to hold Him, so it was not fitting for the earth to retain
Christ. He who humbled Himself and became obedient unto death has been
“highly exalted and given a name which is above every name
(

Philippians 2:9).
The head which once was crowned with thorns is crowned with glory now,
a royal diadem adorns the mighty Victor’s brow. Christ is now in heaven as
an everlasting Mediator, as a glorified High Priest over the House of God,
as the sceptred King ruling with sovereign sway all things in heaven and
earth, angels and principalities and powers being made subject to Him.71
(

1 Peter 3:22). And Christ is entered heaven in our nature, in our
name, on our behalf.
The One who descended into the deepest depth has been elevated to the
grandest glory. The crowning act of Christ’s triumph was not when He
issued forth a Victor from the tomb, but when He entered the courts of
celestial bliss, when the everlasting doors lifted up their heads and the King
of glory went in (

Psalm 24:9). The raising of Christ was in order to His
glorification. And it was in our nature He is exalted above all: the very
hands which were nailed to the cross now wield the scepter of universal
dominion. How well fitted then is such an One to succor and “save unto
the uttermost!” As faith follows the descent of the Father’s Beloved to
Bethlehem’s manger, to Golgotha, to the sepulcher, so let it follow Him to
the loftiest heights of dignity and bliss. This “same Jesus” who was
rejected and degraded by Jew and Gentile alike has been “crowned with
honor and glory” (

Hebrews 2:9). The exaltation of Christ was a
necessary part of His Mediatorship, for it is from on high He administers
His kingdom and makes effectual application of redemption. The ascension
of Christ is also an essential part of the gospel.
“Who is even at the right hand of God.” First, this is the place of honor
and dignity. When Bathsheba appeared before Solomon we are told that
the king rose up to meet her and bowed himself unto his mother, and
sitting down on this throne he caused a seat to be set for her “on his right
hand” (

1 Kings 2:19) as a mark of special favor and honor. After the
royal proclamation concerning Christ
“Thou lovest righteousness and hatest wickedness: therefore God,
Thy God, hath anointed Thee with the oil of gladness above Thy
fellows; all Thy garments smell of myrrh and aloes and cassia, out
of the ivory palaces whereby they have made Thee glad,” it is
added, “Kings’ daughters were among Thy honorable women: upon
Thy right hand did stand the Queen in gold of Ophir”
(

Psalm 45:7-9),
indicating the place of privilege and honor which is reserved for the Lamb’s
wife. “The God of Abraham and of Isaac and of Jacob (God of covenant
relationship), the God of our fathers, hath glorified His Son Jesus”
(

Acts 3:13)—this was His mediatorial glory in answer to His prayer in

John 17:5. Christ has “sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on
high” (

Hebrews 1:3)..72
Second, the “right hand of God” is the place of supreme authority and
power. As we read in

Exodus 15:6
“Thy right hand, O Lord, is become glorious in power.” “And set
Him at His own right hand in the heavenlies: far above all
principality and power, and might and dominion, and every name
that is named, not only in this world but also in that which is to
come: and hath put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be
the Head over all things to the Church which is His body, the
fullness of Him that filleth all in all” (

Ephesians 1:20-23).
Our Surety, then, was not only delivered from prison but exalted to
universal dominion, “all power in heaven and in earth” being conferred
upon Him. Then how well suited is He to fight our battles, subdue our
iniquities and supply our every need! Christ has been elevated high above
all ranks of creatures, however exalted in the scale of being or whatever
their titles and dignities, and all have been placed in absolute subjection to
Him, as “under His feet” signifies. Thus the entire universe is under His
control (“upholding all things by the word of His power”:

Hebrews
1:3) for the wellbeing of His people, so that no weapon formed against
them can prosper. No wonder it is required
“that all should honor the Son even as they honor the Father”
(

John 5:23).
Third, it is the place of all blessedness. Our bounties and benevolences are
distributed by our “right hand” (

Matthew 6:3). “At Thy right hand
there are pleasures for evermore” (

Psalm 16:11)—one of the great
Messianic Psalms. “It is spoken assuredly of such pleasures as Jesus Christ
by way of prerogative enjoyeth beyond all the saints and angels, He being
at God’s right hand so as none of them are. It was the peculiar
encouragement that Jesus Christ had, not to be in Heaven only as a
common saint, but to be in Heaven at God’s right hand; and to have
pleasures answerable, far above all the pleasures of men and angels…God
doth communicate and impart to Him to the utmost all His felicity, so far
forth as that human nature is capable of” (Thos. Goodwin), Thus in the
“joy” that was set before Him (

Hebrews 12:2) Christ has the
“preeminence” as in all things else. In accord with this third meaning of the
expression, Christ will “set the sheep on His right hand” saying to them.73
“Come, ye blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for
you from the foundation of the world” (

Matthew 25:34).
Fourth, this setting of Christ at the right hand of the Majesty on high
denotes the endowing His humanity with capacity and ability accordant
with the exalted dignity conferred upon Him. It was not like an earthly king
advancing his favorite to high honor, or even elevating his son to share his
throne, but that God bestowed upon Christ superlative endowments
(anointing Him with the oil of gladness “above His fellows,” i.e. giving to
Him the Spirit “without measure”), fitting Him to discharge such an office.
This is clear from the immediate context of

Ephesians 1:21, where
prayer is made that we may understand God’s “mighty power which He
wrought in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and set Him at His
own right hand in the heavenlies” (vv. 19, 20). This fitting of Christ for
His exalted position appears in Revelation 5. There a mysterious book is
held forth, but none either in heaven or earth was found worthy to open it
till the Lamb appeared. And wherein lay His fitness? The Lamb as it had
been slain, possessed “seven horns and seven eyes” (v. 6)—perfect power
and perfect intelligence.
“Who is even at the right hand of God.” Here then is a further guarantee of
the safety and perpetuity of the Church, and O what consolation and
encouragement should it afford the tried and trembling believer. He went
up “with a shout” (

Psalm 47:5)—of conquest, leading captivity
captive. His being seated in heaven is proof that His work is finished and
His sacrifice accepted (

Hebrews 10:11, 12). It was as the Head and
Representative of His people Christ entered Heaven to take possession for
them:
“whither the Forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus”
(

Hebrews 6:20).
It is in our nature and name He had gone there, to “prepare a place” for
us. (

John 14:2). Thus we have a Friend at Court, for “if any one sin we
have an Advocate with the Father” (

1 John 2:1). His great authority,
power, dominion and glory is being exercised on our behalf. The
government of the universe is on His shoulder, for the wellbeing, security
and triumph of His Church. Hallelujah, what a Savior! God has laid our
help “upon One that is mighty” (

Psalm 89:19).
10. Christ’s Intercession..74
“Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather that
is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also
maketh intercession for us” (

Romans 8:34).
Here is the grand climax. First, Christ made a complete atonement for the
sins of His people. Next He rose from the dead in proof that His sacrifice
was accepted by God. Then He was advanced to the place of supreme
honor and power in reward of His undertaking. And now He sues out or
asks for His people the benefits He purchased for them. The inexpressible
blessedness of this appears in the above order. How many who have been
suddenly elevated from poverty to wealth, from ignominy to honor, from
weakness to power, promptly forget their former associates and friends.
Not so the Lord Jesus. Though exalted to inconceivable dignity and
dominion, though crowned with unrivalled honor and glory, yet this made
no difference in the affections of Christ toward His people left here in this
world. His love for them is unabated, His care of and concern for His
Church undiminished. The good will of the Savior unto His own remains
unchanged.
The ascended Christ is not wrapped up in His own enthronement, but is
still occupied with the wellbeing of His people, maintaining their interests,
seeking their good: “He ever liveth to make intercession for them”
(

Hebrews 7:25). He knows they are weak and helpless in themselves,
and are surrounded by those desiring and seeking their destruction, and
therefore does He pray,
“I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come
to Thee, holy Father, keep through Thine own Name those whom
Thou hast given Me” (

John 17:11);
and He bases that request on the finished work by which He glorified God
(v. 4). The plea which our great High Priest urges cannot rest upon our
merit, for we have none; it is not in recognition of our worthiness, for we
are destitute of such. Nor does our wretchedness furnish the reason which
the Intercessor urges on our behalf, for that very wretchedness has been
brought upon us by our sins. There are no considerations personal to
ourselves which Christ can plead on our behalf. No, His all-sufficient
sacrifice is the alone plea, and that must prevail. Christ intercedes in
Heaven because He died for us on earth (

Hebrews 9:24-6)..75
If left entirely to themselves believers would perish. Temptations and
tribulations from without and corruptions from within would prove too
strong for them, and therefore does Christ make intercession on their
behalf, that God would grant them such supplies of grace and pardoning
mercy that they will be preserved from total apostasy. It is not that He
prays they may be kept from sin absolutely, but from a fatal and final
departure from God. This is evident from the case of the eleven on the
night of His betrayal: not one only but all of them “forsook Him and fled”
(

Matthew 26:56). It was the prevalency of His intercession which
brought them back again. That was made more especially evident in the
case of Peter. The Lord Jesus foresaw and announced that he would deny
Him thrice (and lower than that it would seem a Christian cannot fall), yet
He prayed that his faith should fail not: not did it—it wrought by love and
produced repentance.
That for which our great High Priest particularly asks is the continuance of
our believing. Arminians seek to evade this by saying: Christ prays not for
the perseverance of the saints in their faith, or that they who once believed
should never cease from believing however wicked they may become, but
only for saints while they continue saints; that is, as long as they continue
in faith and love God will not reject them. But the very thing Christ does
pray for is “that thy faith fail not” (

Luke 22:32): for the continuance of
a living faith, for where that is, there will be good works. And that for
which Christ asks must be performed: not only because He is the Son of
God (and therefore could ask for nothing contrary to the Father’s will), but
because His intercession is based upon His sacrifice: He pleads His own
merits and sues only for those things which He has purchased for His
people—the things to which they are entitled.
That for which Christ intercedes is clearly revealed in John 17: it is for the
preservation, unification, sanctification and glorification of His people. The
substance of His petitions is found in verse 11, where (in effect) He says:
Holy Father, Thou art concerned for each of these persons and hast been
viewing them with unspeakable satisfaction from everlasting: Thou gayest
them Me as a special expression of Thy love: My heart is set upon them
and My soul delighteth in them because they are Mine by Thy free
donation. As I am going to leave them behind Me and they are weak and
defenceless in themselves, exposed to many enemies and temptations, I
pray Thee keep them. Let them have the person of the Holy Spirit to
indwell them: let Him renew their spiritual life and graces day by day: let.76
Him preserve them in Thy sacred Truth. That prayer will be fully answered
when Christ will “present the Church to Himself a glorious Church”
(

Ephesians 5:27).
11. The love of Christ. Ah, what pen is capable of expatiating upon such a
theme when even the chief of the apostles was obliged to own that it
“passeth knowledge” (

Ephesians 3:19). Such was His wondrous love
that in order to save His people the Son of God left Heaven for earth, laid
aside the robes of His glory and took upon Him the form of a Servant.
Such was His wondrous love that He voluntarily became the homeless
Stranger here, having not where to lay His head. Such was His wondrous
love that He shrank not from being despised and rejected of men, suffering
Himself to be spat upon, buffeted and His hair plucked out. Yea, such was
His wondrous love for His Church that He endured the cross, where He
was made a curse for her, where the wrath of a sin-hating God was poured
upon Him, so that for a season He was actually abandoned by Him. Truly
His love is
“strong as death….many waters cannot quench it, neither can the
floods drown it” (

Song of Solomon 8:6, 7).
Mark how that love was tried and proved by the unkind response it met
with from the most favored of His disciples. So little did they lay to heart
His solemn announcement that He was about to be delivered into the hands
of men and be slain by them, they “disputed among themselves who should
be the greatest” (

Mark 9:31, 34). When the awful cup of woe was
presented to Him in Gethsemane and His agony was so intense that He
sweat great drops of blood the apostles were unable to watch with Him for
a single hour. When His enemies, accompanied by a great rabble armed
with swords and staves, came to arrest Him, “all the disciples forsook Him
and fled” (

Matthew 26:56)—and had writer and reader been in their
place we had done no otherwise. Did such base ingratitude freeze the
Savior’s affection for them and cause Him to abandon their cause? No
indeed;
“having loved His own which were in the world, He loved them
unto the end” (

John 13:1)
—to the end of their unworthiness and unappreciativeness.
Ah my reader, His people are the objects of Christ’s everlasting love.
Before ever the earth was His delights were with them (

Proverbs 8:3.77
1) and have continued ever since. As the Father hath loved Christ Himself,
so Christ loves His people (

John 15:9)—with a love that is infinite,
immutable, eternal. Nothing can separate us from it (

Romans 8:35).
Those whom He loves are the special portion and inheritance given to Him
by the Father, and will He lose His portion when it is in His power to keep
it? No, He will not:
“they shall be Mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I
make up My jewels” (

Malachi 3:17).
When they were given to Him by the Father it was with the express charge
“that of all which He hath given Me I should lose nothing, but
should raise it up again at the last day” (

John 6:39),
and therefore do we find Him saying to the Father,
“those that Thou gavest Me I have kept, and none of them is lost
but (not ‘except’) the son of perdition, that the Scripture might be
fulfilled” (

John 17:12),
and he was a devil from the beginning.
Consider well the various relations which believers sustain to Christ. They
are the mystical Body of which He is the Head: “members of His body, of
His flesh and of His bones” (

Ephesians 5:30). They are “the fullness of
Him that filleth all in all” (

Ephesians 1:23) and thus He would be
incomplete, mutilated, if one of them perished. They are laid upon Him as a
“foundation” that is “sure” (

Isaiah 28:16), built upon Him as a “rock”
against which “the gates of hell shall not prevail” (

Matthew 16:18).
They are His “redeemed,” bought with a price, purchased at the cost of His
life’s blood, then how must He regard them! Consider well the terms of
endearment used of them. Christians are “of the travail of His soul”
(

Isaiah 53:11). They are His “brethren” (

Romans 8:29), His
‘fellows” (

Psalm 45:7), His “wife” (

Revelation 19:7). They are set
as a seal upon His heart (

Song of Solomon 8:6), engraved in the palms
of His hands (

Isaiah 49:16). They are His “crown of glory” and “royal
diadem” (

Isaiah 62:3). Since they are so precious in His sight He will
not suffer one to perish.
12. The gift of the Holy Spirit. In contemplating the person and work of
the Spirit in the economy of redemption we must needs view Him in.78
connection with the everlasting covenant and the mediation of Christ. The
descent of the Spirit is inseparably related to what has been before us in the
previous sections. When the Savior ascended on high He “received gifts
for men, yea for the rebellious also” (

Psalm 68:18), and as His
exaltation was in reward for His triumphant undertaking, so also were
those “gifts,” chiefest of which was the Holy Spirit (

Acts 2:33). As
Christ is the unspeakable gift of the Father unto us, so the Holy Spirit is the
supreme gift of Christ to His people. Since Christ is Man as well as God, it
is required of Him that He make request for whatever He receives at the
hands of the Father:
“Ask of Me, and I shall give Thee the heathen (the Gentiles) for
Thine inheritance and the uttermost parts of the earth for Thy
possession” (

Psalm 2:8).
“I will pray the Father and He shall give you another Comforter,
that He may abide with you forever” (

John 14:16).
The redemptive work of Christ merited the Spirit for His people. The Spirit
was given to Christ in consequence of His having so superlatively glorified
God on the earth and in answer to His intercession. It is due to His praying
that the Holy Spirit not only renews the regenerate day by day, but that He
first brought them from death unto life. This is intimated in the ‘for the
rebellious also” of

Psalm 68:18—even while they were in a state of
alienation from God. The dispensing of the Spirit is in the hands of the
exalted Christ, therefore is He spoken of as “He that hath the seven Spirits
of God” (

Revelation 3:1) — the Holy Spirit in the fullness or plenitude
of His gifts. To His immediate care is now committed the elect of God. As
Christ preserved them during the days of His earthly sojourn (

John
17:12), so the Spirit safeguards them while He is on high. This is clearly
intimated in

John 14:3 where the Lord Jesus declares
“I will come again and receive (not “take”) you unto Myself, that
where lam there ye may be also”
—they will be handed back to Him by the blessed Spirit.
13. The indwelling of the Spirit. The Holy Spirit was purchased for His
people by the oblation of Christ and is bestowed upon them through His
intercession, to abide with them forever. The manner in which He abides
with those on whom He is bestowed is by a gracious indwelling. “God sent
forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the Law, to redeem them.79
that were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption of sons (that
is, that we might have conferred upon us the legal status of sonship).
And because ye are sons (by virtue of legal oneness with the Son),
God hath sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts”
(

Galatians 4:4-6).
What a marvelous yet mysterious thing this is: that the third Person of the
Trinity should take up His abode within fallen creatures! It is not merely
that the influences or graces of the Spirit are communicated to us, but that
He Himself dwells within us: not in our minds (though they are illumined
by Him) but in our hearts—the center of our beings, from which are “the
issues of life” (

Proverbs 4:23).
This was the grand promise of God in the Covenant: “I will put My Spirit
within you” (

Ezekiel 36:27 and cf. 37:14), the fulfillment of which our
Surety obtained for us—
“being by the right hand of God exalted and having received of the
Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He hath shed forth this”
(

Acts 2:33),
for the dispensing of Him is now in the hands of Christ as we have pointed
Out above. Thus it is that the inhabitation of the Spirit is the distinguishing
mark of the regenerate:
“But ye are not in the flesh (as to your legal standing before God)
but in the spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if
any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His”
(

Romans 8:9).
It is the indwelling of the Spirit of God which identifies the Christian, and
thus He is called “the Spirit of Christ” because He occupies the believer
with Christ and conforms him to His image. The apprehension of this
wondrous fact exerts a sobering influence upon the believer, causing him to
“possess his vessel in sanctification and honor,” “What! know ye
not that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit?”
(

1 Corinthians 6:19).
Now the Spirit takes up His residence in the saints not for a season only
but never to leave them. “This is My covenant with them, saith the Lord
(unto the Redeemer, see 5:20),.80
My Spirit that is upon Thee and My word which I have put in Thy
mouth shall not depart out of Thy mouth, nor out of the mouth of
Thy seed, nor out of the mouth of Thy seed’s seed, saith the Lord,
from henceforth and forever” (

Isaiah 59:21):
that was a solemn promise of the Father unto the Mediator that the Spirit
should continue forever with the Redeemer and the redeemed. The blessed
Spirit comes not as a transient Visitor but as a permanent Guest of the
soul:
“And I will pray the Father and He shall give you another
Comforter, that He may abide with you forever” (

John 14:16).
Since then the Spirit takes up His abode in the renewed soul forever, how
certain it is that he will be preserved from apostasy. This will be the more
evident from our next division, when it will appear that the Spirit is a
powerful, active and sanctifying Agent with the Christian.
14. The operations of the Spirit. These are summed up in
“He which hath begun a good work in you will finish it”
(

Philippians 1:6).
The reference is to our regeneration, completed in our sanctification,
preservation and glorification. First He imparts spiritual life to one who is
dead in trespasses and sins and then He sustains and maintains that life by
nourishing it and calling it forth into exercise and act, so that it becomes
fruitful and abounds in good works. Every growth of spirituality is the
work of the Holy Spirit: as the green blade was His so is the ripening corn.
The increase of life, as much as the beginning thereof, must still come by
the gracious power of the Spirit of God. We never have more life or even
know we need more or groan after it, except as He works in us to desire
and agonize after it. Were the Spirit totally withdrawn from the Christian
he would soon lapse back into spiritual death. But thank God there is no
possibility of any such dire calamity: every born-again soul has the infallible
guarantee
“the Lord will perfect that which concerneth me”
(

Psalm 138:8)..81
Let us now consider more particularly some eminent acts of the Spirit in
the believer and effects of His grace exercised in them. He empowers and
moves them unto obedience:
“I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My
statutes and ye shall keep My judgments and do them”
(

Ezekiel 36:27).
The two things are inseparable: an indwelling Spirit and holy conduct from
those indwelt.
“As many as are led by the Spirit of God they are the sons of God”
(

Romans 8:14).
The Spirit guides into the paths of righteousness by a blessed combination
of invincible power and gentle suasion: not forcing us against our wills, but
sweetly constraining us. He directs the activities of the Christian by
enlightening his understanding, warming his affections, stimulating his holy
inclinations and moving his will to do that which is pleasing unto God. In
this way is that divine promise fulfilled,
“I am the Lord thy God which teacheth thee to profit, which
leadeth thee by the way that thou shouldest go” (

Isaiah 48:17),
and thus is his prayer answered
“Order my steps in Thy Word” (

Psalm 119:133).
By His gracious indwelling the Spirit affords the saints supportment:
“likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities” (

Romans 8:26).
If the believer were left to himself he would never see (by faith) the all-wise
hand of God in his afflictions, still less would his heart ever honestly say
concerning them, “Thy will be done.” If left to himself the believer would
never seek grace to patiently endure chastisement, still less cherish the
hope that afterward it would “yield the peaceable fruit of righteousness”
(

Hebrews 12:11). No, rather would he chafe and kick like “a bullock
unaccustomed to the yoke” (

Jeremiah 31:18) and yield to the vile
temptation to “curse God and die” (

Job 2:9). If the believer were left
to himself he would never have the assurance that his acutest sufferings
were among the all things which work together for his ultimate good, still
less would he glory in his infirmity that the power of Christ might rest upon.82
him (

2 Corinthians 12:9). No, such holy exercises of heart are not the
products of fallen human nature: instead they are the immediate, gracious,
lovely fruits of the Spirit, brought forth in such uncongenial soil.
By His gracious indwelling the Spirit energies the believer:
“strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inner man”
(

Ephesians 3:16).
This is manifested in many directions. How often He exerts upon the
believer a restraining influence, subduing the lusts of the flesh and holding
him back from a course of folly by causing a solemn awe to fall upon him:
“the fear of the Lord is to depart from evil,” and the Spirit is the Author of
that holy fear.
“That good thing which was committed unto thee keep by the Holy
Spirit which dwelleth in us” (

2 Timothy 1:14)
—He is the one who oils the wheels of the saint’s obedience.
“For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by
faith” (

Galatians 5:5)
otherwise the deferring of our hope would cause the soul to utterly pine
away. Hence we find the Spouse praying to the Spirit for invigoration and
fructification,
“Awake O north wind, and come thou south; blow upon my garden
that the spices thereof may flow out” (

Song of Solomon 4:16).
The graces which the indwelling Spirit produces are durable and lasting,
particularly the three cardinal ones: “now abideth faith, hope, love” (

1
Corinthians 13:13). Faith is that grace which is “much more precious than
of gold that perisheth” (

1 Peter 1:7)—it is its imperishability which
constitutes its superior excellency. It is “of the operation of God”
(

Colossians 2:12) and we know that whatsoever is of Him “it shall be
forever” (

Ecclesiastes 3:14), Christ praying that it “fail not,” and
therefore no matter how severely it shall be tested its possessor can declare
“though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him” (

Job 13:15).
The hope of the Christian is “as an anchor of the soul both sure and
steadfast,” for it is cast on Christ the foundation, from whence it can never
be removed (

Hebrews 6:18, 19). As to the believer’s love, though its.83
initial ardor may be cooled yet it cannot be quenched, though first love any
be “left” it cannot be lost. Under the darkest times Christ is still the object
of his love, as the cases of the Church in

Song of Solomon 3:1-3 and
of Peter (

John 21:17) evidence.
15. The relations which the Holy Spirit sustains to the Christian. In

Ephesians 1:14 He is designated
“the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the
purchased possession” (cf.

2 Corinthians 1:22).
Now an “earnest” is part payment assuring the full reward in due season: it
is more than a pledge, being an actual portion and token of that which is
promised. If the inheritance were precarious, suspended on conditions of
uncertain performance, the Spirit could not in truth or propriety be termed
the earnest thereof. If an “earnest” is a guaranty among men, much more
so between God and His people. He is also “the firstfruits” of glorification
unto the believer (

Romans 8:23), an antepast of Heaven, the initial
beams of the rising sun of eternal bliss in the Christian’s soul. He is also the
“anointing” which we have received from Christ (cf.

2 Corinthians
1:21) and this “abideth” in us (

1 John 2:17). Again, He is the believer’s
seal:
“grieve not the Holy Spirit of God whereby ye are sealed unto the
day of redemption” (

Ephesians 4:30),
that is, until their bodies are delivered from the grave. Among other
purposes a “seal” is to secure: can then the treasure which the Spirit guards
be lost? No: as Christ was “sealed” (

John 6:27) and in consequence
“upheld” by the Spirit so that He failed not (

Isaiah 42:1, 4), so is the
believer. It is impossible for any saint to perish..84
CHAPTER 6
ITS BLESSEDNESS
In an earlier section we dwelt upon the deep importance of this doctrine,
here we wish to show something of its great preciousness. Let us begin by
pointing Out the opposite. Suppose that the Gospel proclaimed only a
forgiveness of all sins up to the moment of conversion and announced that
believers must henceforth keep themselves from everything unworthy of
this signal mercy: that means are provided, motives supplied, and warnings
given of the fatal consequences which will surely befall those who fail to
make a good use of those means and diligently respond to those motives;
that whether or not he shall ultimately reach Heaven is thus left entirely in
the believer’s own hands. Then what? We may well ask what would be the
consequences of such a dismal outlook: what would be the thoughts
begotten and the spirit engendered by such a gospel? what effect would it
produce upon those who really believed it? Answers to these questions
should prepare us to the more deeply appreciate the converse.
It hardly requires a profound theologian to reply to the above queries; they
have only to be carefully pondered and the simplest Christian should be
able to perceive for himself what would be the inevitable result. If the
Christian’s entrance into Heaven turns entirely upon his own fidelity and
his treading the path of righteousness unto the end of his course, then he is
far worse off than was Adam in Eden, for when God placed him under the
covenant of works he was not heavily handicapped from the beginning by
indwelling sin, but each of his fallen descendants is born into this world
with a carnal nature which remains unchanged to the moment of death.
Thus the believer would enter into the fight not only without any assurance
of victory but face almost certain defeat. If such a gospel were true then
those who really believed it would be entire strangers to peace and joy, for
they must inevitably spend their days in a perpetual dread of Hell. Or, the
first time they were overcome by temptation and worsted by the Enemy,
they would at once abandon the fight and give way to hopeless despair.
“I will not turn away from them to do them good”
(

Jeremiah 32:40).
“I will never leave thee nor forsake thee” (

Hebrews 13:5)..85
Nothing whatever can or
“shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ
Jesus our Lord” (

Romans 8:39).
“He will keep the feet of His saints” (

1 Samuel 2:9).
How immeasurable the difference between the vain imaginations of men
and the sure declarations of God: it is the contrast of the darkness of a
moonless and starless midnight from the radiance of the midday sun.
“Of them which Thou gayest Me have I lost none” (

John 18:9)
affirmed the Redeemer. Is not that inexpressibly blessed! That every one of
the redeemed shall be brought safely to Heaven. The final apostasy of a
believer is an utter impossibility, not in the nature of things but by the
Divine constitution: not one who has once been received into the Divine
favor can ever be cast out thereof. God has bestowed on each of His
children a life than cannot die, He has brought him into a relationship
which nothing can change or effect, He has wrought a work in him which
lasts “for ever” (

Ecclesiastes 3:14).
It is sadly true that multitudes of empty professors have “wrested” this
truth to their destruction, just as many of our fellows have put to an ill use
some of the most valuable of God’s temporal gifts; but because foolish
gluttons destroy their health through intemperance that is no reason why
sane people should refuse to be nourished by wholesome food; and because
the carnal pervert the doctrine of Divine preservation that is no valid
argument for Christians being afraid to draw comfort from the same. Most
certainly it is the design of God that His people should be strengthened and
established by this grand article of the faith. Note how in John 17 Christ
mentions again and again the words “keep” and “kept” (vv. 6, 11, 12, 13,
15). And His reason for so doing is clearly stated: “these things I speak in
the world that they may have My joy fulfilled in them” (v. 13). He would
not have them spend their days in the wretchedness of doubts about their
ultimate bliss, uncertain as to the issue of their fight. It is His revealed will
that they should go forward with a song in their hearts, praising Him for
the certainty of ultimate victory.
But the joy which issues from a knowledge of our security is not obtained
by a casual acquaintance with this truth. Christ’s very repetition.86
“I kept them those that Thou gayest Me I have kept”
(

John 17:12)
intimates to us that we must meditate frequently upon this Divine
preservation unto eternal life. It is to be laid hold of in no transient manner
but should daily engage the Christian’s heart till he is warmed and
influenced by it. A few sprinklings of water do not go to the roots of a tree,
but frequent and plentiful showers are needed: so it is not an occasional
thought about Christ’s power to keep His people safe for Heaven which
will deeply affect them, but only a constant spiritual and believing
pondering thereon. As Jacob said to the Angel
“I will not let thee go except thou bless me” (

Genesis 32:26),
so the believer should say to this truth, I will not turn from it until it has
blessed me.
When our great High Priest prayed
“Holy Father, keep through Thine own name those whom Thou
hast given Me” (

John 17:11)
it was not (as the Arminians say) that He asked merely that they might be
provided with adequate means, by the use of which they must preserve
themselves. No, my reader, it was for something more valuable and
essential. The Savior made request that faith should be continually wrought
in them by the exceeding greatness of God’s power (

Ephesians 1:19),
and where that is there will be works of sincere (though imperfect)
obedience and it will operate by responding to the holiness of the Law so
that sins are mortified. The Father answers that prayer of the Redeemer’s
by working in the redeemed “both to will and to do of His good pleasure”
(

Philippians 2:13), fulfilling in them
“all the good pleasure of His goodness and the work of faith with
power” (

2 Thessalonians 1:11)
preserving them “through faith unto salvation” (

1 Peter 1:5). He
leaves them not to their feeble and fickle wills, but renews them in the inner
man “day by day” (

2 Corinthians 4:16).
That Christ would have His redeemed draw comfort from their security is
clear again from His words “Rejoice because your names are written in
heaven” (

Luke 10:20). To what purpose did the Lord Jesus thus.87
address His disciples, but to denote that infallible certainty of their final
salvation by a contrast from those who perish: that is, whose names were
written only “in the earth” (

Jeremiah 17:13) or on the sands which
may be defaced. Surely He had never spoken thus if there was the slightest
possibility of their names being blotted Out. Rejoice because your names
are written in heaven;” is not the implication both necessary and clear as a
sunbeam; such rejoicing would be premature if there was any likelihood of
final apostasy. This call to rejoice is not given at the moment of the
believer’s death, as he sees the angels about to convoy him to the realm of
ineffable bliss, but while he is still here on the battlefield. Those names are
written by none other than the finger of God, indelibly inscribed in the
Book of Life, and not one of them will ever be erased.
Take again His words in the parable of the lost sheep:
“I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner
that repenteth” (

Luke 15:7).
“Such exalted hosannas would not resound on these occasions
among the inhabitants of the skies if the doctrine of final
perseverance was untrue. Tell me, ye seraphs of light; tell me, ye
spirits of elect men made perfect in glory, why this exuberance of
holy rapture on the real recovery of a sinner to God? Because ye
know assuredly that every true conversion is
(1) a certain proof that the person converted is one of the elect number,
and
(2) that he shall be infallibly preserved and brought to that very region
of blessedness into which ye yourselves are come. The contrary belief
would silence your harps and chill your praises. If it be uncertain
whether the person who is regenerated today may ultimately reign with
you in heaven or take up his eternal abode among apostate spirits in
hell, your rejoicings are too sanguine and your praises too
presumptuous. You should suspend your songs until he actually arrives
among you and not give thanks for his conversion until he has
persevered unto glorification” (A. Toplady).
1. What encouragement is there here for the babe in Christ! Conscious of
his weakness, he is fearful that the flesh and the world and the Devil may
prove too powerful for him. Aware of his ignorance, bewildered by the
confusion of tongues in the religious realm, he dreads lest he be led astray.88
by false prophets. Beholding many of his companions, who made a similar
profession of faith, so quickly losing their fervor and going back again into
the world, he trembles lest he make shipwreck of the faith. Stumbled by the
inconsistencies of those called “the pillars of the church,” chilled by older
Christians who tell him he must not be too extreme, he is alarmed and
wonders how it can be expected that he shall hold on his way almost alone.
But if these fears empty him of self-confidence and make him cling the
closer to Christ, then are they blessings in disguise, for he will then prove
for himself that “underneath are the everlasting arms,” and that those arms
are all-mighty and all-sufficient.
The babe in Christ is as much a member of God’s family as is the mature
“father” (

1 John 2:13) and the former is as truly the object of Divine
love and faithfulness as is the latter. Yea, the younger ones in His flock are
more the subjects of the Shepherd’s care than are the full-grown sheep:
“He shall gather the lambs with His arm and carry them in His
bosom” (

Isaiah 40:11).
The Lord does not break the bruised reed nor quench the smoking flax
(

Matthew 12:20). He gave proof of this in the days of His flesh. He
found some “smoking flax” in the nobleman who came to Him on behalf of
his sick son: his faith was so weak that he supposed the Savior must come
down to his house and heal him ere he died—as though the Lord Jesus
could not recover him while at a distance or after he had expired (

John
4:49): nevertheless He cured him. So too after His ascension, He took note
of a “little strength” (

Revelation 3:8) and opened a door which none
can shut. The highest oak was once an acorn and God was the maintainer
of its life. When we affirm the final perseverance of every born-again soul
we do not mean that saints are not in themselves prone to fall away, nor
that at regeneration such a work is wrought in them once for all that they
now have sufficient strength of their own to overcome sin and Satan and
that there is no likelihood of their spiritual life decaying. So far from it, we
hesitate not to declare that the very principle of grace (or “new nature”) in
the believer considered abstractedly in itself — apart from the renewing
and sustaining power of God — would assuredly perish under the
corruptions of the flesh and the assaults of the Devil. No, the preservation
of the Christian’s faith and his continuance in the path of obedience lies in
something entirely external to himself or his state. Wherein lay the
impossibility of any bone of Christ being broken? Not because they were in.89
themselves incapable of being broken, for they were as liable to be broken
as His flesh to be pierced, but solely because of the unbreakable decree of
God. So it is with the mystical Body of Christ: no member of His can
perish because of the purpose, power and promise of God Himself.
How important it is then that the babe in Christ should be instructed in the
ground of Christian perseverance, that the foundation on which his eternal
security rests is nothing whatever in himself but wholly outside. The
preservation of the believer depends not upon his continuing to love God,
believe in Christ, tread the highway of holiness, or make diligent use of the
means of grace, but on the Covenant-engagements entered into between
the Father and the Son. That is the basic and grand Cause which produces
as a necessary and infallible effect our continuing to love God, believe in
Christ and perform sincere obedience. O what a sure foundation is that!
What a firm ground for the soul to rest upon! What unspeakable peace and
joy issues from faith’s apprehension of the same! Though fickle in
ourselves, the Covenant is immutable. Though weak and unstable as water
we are, yet that is “ordered in all things and sure.” Though full of sin and
unworthiness, yet the sacrifice of Christ is of infinite merit. Though often
the spirit of prayer be quenched in us, yet our great High Priest ever liveth
to make intercession for us. Here then is the “anchor of the soul,” and it is
“both sure and steadfast” (

Hebrews 6:19).
Ere concluding this subdivision it is necessary to point out in such days as
these that it must not be inferred from the above that because the grace, the
power and the faithfulness of God insures the preservation of the feeblest
babe in Christ that henceforth he is relieved of all responsibility in the
matter. Not so: such a blessed truth has not been revealed for the purpose
of encouraging slothfulness, but rather to provide an impetus to use the
means of preservation which God has appointed. Though we must not
anticipate too much what we purpose to bring before the reader under a
later division of our subject, when we shall consider at more length the
safeguards which Divine wisdom has placed around this truth, yet a few
words of warning, or rather explanation, should be given here to prevent a
wrong conclusion being drawn from the preceding paragraphs.
The babe in Christ is weak in himself, he is left in a hostile world, he is
confronted with powerful temptations, both from within and from without,
to apostatize. But strength is available unto faith, armor is provided against
all enemies, deliverance from temptations is given in answer to prevailing.90
prayer. But he must seek that strength, put on that armor, and resist those
temptations. He must fight for his very life, and refuse to acknowledge
defeat. Nor shall he fight in vain, for Another shall gird his arm and enable
him to overcome. The blessedness of this doctrine is that he shall not be
left to himself nor suffered to perish. The Holy spirit shall renew him day
by day, quicken his graces, move him to perseverance and make him “more
than conqueror through Him that loved him.”
2. What comfort is there here for fearing saints! All Christians have a
reverential and filial fear of God and an evangelical horror of sin. Some are
beset with legal fears, and most of them with anxieties which are the
product of a mingling of legal and evangelical principles. These latter are
occasioned more immediately by anxious doubts, painful misgivings, evil
surmisings of unbelief. More remotely, they are the result of the permissive
appointment of God, who has decreed that perfect happiness must be
waited till His people get home to Heaven. Were our graces complete, our
bliss would be complete too. In the meantime it is needful for the Christian
traveler to be exercised with a thorn in the flesh, and that “thorn” assumes
a variety of forms with different believers; but whatever its form it is
effectual in convincing them that this earth is not their rest or a mount
whereon to pitch tabernacles of continuance. In many instances that
“thorn” consists of anxious misgivings, as the frequent “fear not” of
Scripture intimates: the fear of being completely overcome by temptation,
or making shipwreck of the faith, of failing to endure unto the end.
Once again we would quote those words of Christ,
“Of them whom Thou hast given Me have I lost none”
(

John 18:9).
Is not that inexpressibly blessed! That every one of the dear children whom
the Father has entrusted to the care and custody of the Mediator shall be
brought safely to glory; the feeblest as much as the strongest, those with
the least degree of grace as those of the highest, the babes as truly as the
full grown. Where true grace is imparted, though it be as a grain of
mustard seed, yet it shall be quickened and nourished so that it shall not
perish. This should be of great consolation to those timid and doubting
ones who are apt to think it will be well with Christians of great faith and
eminent gifts, but that such frail creatures as they know themselves to be
will never hold out, who dread that Satan’s next attack will utterly
vanquish them. Let them know that the self-same Divine protection is.91
given to all the redeemed. It is not because one is more godly than another,
but because both are held fast in the hand of God. The tiny mouse was as
safe in the ark as the ponderous elephant.
What encouragement is there here for the godly, who when they view the
numerous Anakims in the way and hear of the giants and walled cities
before them are prone to dread their meeting with them. How many a one
has trembled as he has pondered that word of Christ’s
“Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the
kingdom of heaven. And again I say unto you, It is easier for a
camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter
into the kingdom of God” (

Matthew 19:23, 24)
and said with the apostles, “Who then can be saved?” If it be such a
difficult matter to get to Heaven, if the gate be so strait and the way so
narrow, and so many of those professing to tread it turn out to be
hypocrites and apostates, what will become of me? When thus exercised,
remember Christ’s answer to the astonished disciples, “with God all things
are possible.” He who kept Israel on the march for forty years without
their shoes wearing out, can quite easily preserve thee, O thou of little
faith.
“Thou has a mighty arm: strong is Thy hand, high is Thy right
hand” (

Psalm 89:13).
Grandly is that fact displayed in creation. Who has stretched out the
heavens with a span? Who upholds the pillars of the earth? Who has set
limits to the raging ocean, so that it cannot overflow its bounds? Whose
finger kindled the sun, the moon, and the stars, and kept those mysterious
Lamps of the sky alight all these thousands of years? Whose hand has filled
the sea with fishes, the fields with herds, and made the earth fertile and
fruitful? So too the mightiness of the Lord’s arm is manifest in providence.
Who directs the destinies of nations and shapes the affairs of kingdoms?
Who sets the monarch upon his throne and casts him from thence when it
so pleases Him? Who supplies the daily needs of a countless myriad of
creatures so that even the sparrow is provided for when the earth is
blanketed with snow? Who makes all things work together for good —
even in a world which lieth in the Wicked one — to them that love Him,
who are the called according to His purpose?.92
When a soul is truly reconciled to God and brought to delight in Him, it
rejoices in all His attributes. At first it is apt to dwell much upon His move
and mercy, but as it grows in grace and experience it delights in His
holiness and power. It is a mark of spiritual understanding when we have
learned to distinguish the manifold perfections of God, to take pleasure in
each of them. It is a proof of more intimate communion with the Lord
when we perceive how adorable is the Divine character, so that we
meditate upon its excellences separately and in detail, and praise and bless
Him for each of them. The more we are given to behold all the varied rays
of His pure light, the more we are occupied with the many glories of His
crown, the more shall we bow in wonderment before Him. Not only shall
we perceive how infinitely He is above us, but how there is everything in
Him suited to our need; grace to meet our unworthiness, mercy to pardon
our sins, wisdom to supply our ignorance, strength to minister to our
weakness.
“Who is like unto Thee, O Lord among the gods? who is like Thee,
glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders!”
(

Exodus 15:11).
How this glorious attribute of God’s power ensures the final perseverance
of the saints! Some of our readers have passed through sore trials and
severe tribulations, yet they prevailed not against them: they shook them to
their foundations, but they did not overthrow their faith.
“Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivereth
him out of them all” (

Psalm 34:19).
Fierce were the foes which many a time gathered against thee, and had not
the Lord been on thy side thou hadst quickly been devoured, but in Him
thou didst find a sure refuge. The Divine strength has been manifested in
your weakness. Is it not so, my brother, my sister: that such a frail worm as
yourself has never been crushed by the weight of opposition that has come
upon you—Ah, “underneath were the everlasting arms.” Though you
trembled at your feebleness, yet, “out of weakness were made strong”
(

Hebrews 11:34) has been your case too. Kept alive with death all
around you, preserved when Satan and his hosts encompassed you. Must
you not say “strong is Thy right hand!”
3. What comfort is there here for souls who are tempted to entertain hard
thoughts of God! The awful corruptions of the flesh which still remain in.93
the believer and which are ever ready to complain at the difficulties of the
way and murmur against the dispensations of Divine providence, and the
questionings of unbelief which constantly ask, Has God ceased to be
gracious? how can He love me if He deals with me thus? are sufficient in
themselves to destroy his peace and quench his joy. But when to these are
added the infidelities of Arminianism which declares that God takes no
more care of His children than to suffer the Devil to enter in among and
devour them, that the Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, affords
no more security to His flock than to allow wolves and lions to come
among and devour them at their pleasure, how shall the poor Christian
maintain his confidence in the love and faithfulness of the Lord? Such
blasphemies are like buckets of cold water poured upon the flames of his
affection for God and are calculated only to destroy that delight which he
has taken in the riches of Divine grace.
The uninstructed and unestablished believer is apt to think within himself I
may for the present be in a good state and condition, but what assurance is
there that I shall continue thus? Were not the apostate angels once in a far
better state and more excellent condition than mine: they dwelt in Heaven
itself, but now they are cast down into Hell, being
“reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of
the great day” (

Jude 6)!
Adam in paradise had no lusts within to tempt and seduce him, no world
without to oppose and entangle, yet “being in honor” he continued not, but
apostatized and perished. If it was not in their power to persevere much
less so in mine, who am “sold under sin” and encompassed with a world of
temptations. What hope is there left to me? Let a man be exercised with
such thoughts as these, let him be cast back solely upon himself, and what
is there that can give him any relief or bring his soul to any degree of
composure? Nothing whatever, for the so-called “power of free will”
availed not either the angels which fell or our first parents.
And what is it which will deliver the distressed soul from these breathings
of despair? Nothing but a believing laying hold of this grand comfort: that
the child of God has an infallible promise from his Father that he shall be
preserved unto His heavenly kingdom, that he shall be kept from apostasy,
that the intercession of his great High Priest prevents the total failing of his
faith. So far from God being indifferent to the welfare of His children and
failing in His care for them, He has sworn that “I will not turn away from.94
them to do them good.” So far from the good Shepherd proving unfaithful
to His trust, He has given express assurance that not one of His sheep shall
perish. Rest on those assurances my reader, and thy hard thoughts about
God will be effectually silenced. As to the stability and excellency of the
Divine love, is it not written,
“The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty, He will rejoice
over thee with joy; He will rest in His love, He will joy over thee
with singing” (

Zephaniah 3:17).
What can more endear God to His people than that! How it should fix their
souls in their love to Him. Well might Stephen Charnock say of Arminians,
“Can these men fancy Infinite Tenderness so unconcerned as to let the
apple of His eye be plucked out, as to be a careless Spectator of the pillage
of His jewels by the powers of Hell, to have the delight of His soul (if I
may so speak) tossed like a tennis ball between himself and the Devil.” He
that does the greater thing for His people shall He not also do the less: to
regenerate them is more wonderful than to preserve them, as the bestowal
of life exceeds the maintaining of it. The reconciliation of enemies is far
harder than dealing with the failings of friends:
“while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then
being now justified by His blood we shall be saved from wrath
through Him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to
God by the death of His Son much more, being reconciled, we shall
be saved by His life” (

Romans 5:8-10).
If there was such efficacy in the death of Christ, who can estimate the
virtue of His resurrection! “He ever liveth to make intercession for us.”
4. What comfort is there here for aged pilgrims! Some perhaps may be
surprised at this heading, supposing that those who have been longest in
the way and have experienced most of God’s faithfulness have the least
need of consolation from the truth. But such a view is sadly superficial to
say the least of it. No matter how matured in the faith one may be, nor how
well acquainted with the Divine goodness, so long as he is left down here
he has no might of his own and is completely dependent upon Divine grace
to preserve him. Methuselah stood in as much need of God’s supporting
hand during the closing days of his pilgrimage as does the veriest babe in
Christ. Look at it from the human side of things: the aged believer, filled
with infirmities, the spiritual companions of his youth all gone, perhaps.95
bereft of the partner of his bosom, cut off from the public means of grace,
he looks forward to the final conflict with trepidation.
“And even to your old age I am He, and even to hoar hairs will I
carry you” (

Isaiah 46:4).
Why has such a tender and appropriate promise been given by God if His
aged saints have no need of the same? They, any more than the young, are
not immune from Satan’s attacks. He is not slow to tell the tottering
believer that as many a ship has foundered when in sight of port so the
closing storm of life will prove too much for him: that though God has
borne long with his unbelief and waywardness, even His patience is now
exhausted. How then is he to meet such assaults of the Fiend? In the same
way as he has done all through his course. By taking the shield of faith,
wherewith he shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the Wicked one
(

Ephesians 6:16), by having recourse to the sure promise of Him who
has said “Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end.”
Ah, my aged friend, how often have you proved in your experience the
truth of those words
“thine enemies shall be found liars unto thee”
(

Deuteronomy 33:29).
What a shameless liar the Devil is! Did he not tell thee in some severe trial,
The hand of the Lord is gone out against thee: He has forsaken thee and
will no more be gracious to thee: He has deserted thee as He did Saul the
king and now thou art wholly given up unto the powers of evil: the Lord
will no more answer thee from His holy oracle; He has utterly cast thee off.
Yet you found that God had not deserted you after all, and this very day
you are able to join the writer in thanking Him for His lovingkindness and
to testify of His unfailing faithfulness. How often has thine own unbelief
whispered to thee, I shall one day perish at the hand of this foe who seeks
my life: my strength is gone, the Spirit withholds His assistance, I am left
alone and must perish. Yet year after year has passed, and though faint you
are still pursuing, though feeble you will hold on your way.
Has not Satan often told you in the past, Your profession is a sham,
iniquities prevail over you, the root of the matter is not in thee. Thou was a
fool to make a profession and cast in thy lot with God’s people: there is no
stability in thee, thou art certain to apostatize and bring reproach upon the
cause of Christ. And did not your own doubts second his motion, telling.96
you that your experience was but a flash in the pan, some evanescent
emotion, which like a firebrand would die out into black ashes. Unbelief
has whispered a thousand falsehoods into your ear, saying this duty is too
difficult, this toil will prove too great, this adversity will drown you. What
madness it was to lend an ear to such lies. Can God ever cast away one on
whom He has fixed His everlasting love? Can He renounce one who was
purchased by the blood of Christ? Thus will it prove of thy last fears:
“Thine enemies shall be found liars unto thee.”
5. What comfort is there here for preachers! Many a rural minister views
with uneasiness the departure into cities of some of his young converts.
And may well he be exercised at the prospect of them leaving their
sheltered homes to be brought into close contact with temptations to which
they were formerly strangers. It is both his duty and privilege to give them
godly counsel and warning, to follow them with his prayers, to write them:
but if they he soundly converted he need not fear about their ultimate
wellbeing. Servants of God called to move into other parts are fearful
about the babes in Christ which they will leave behind, yet if they really be
such they may find consolation in the blessed fact that the great Shepherd
of the sheep will never leave nor forsake them..97
CHAPTER 7
ITS PERVERSION
Nowhere is the depravity of man and the enmity of their minds against God
more terribly displayed than in the treatment which His Holy Word
receives at their hands. By many it is criminally neglected, by others it is
wickedly wrested and made to teach the most horrible heresies. To slight
such a revelation, to despise such an inestimable treasure, is an insult which
the Most High will certainly avenge. To corrupt the sacred Scriptures, to
force from them a meaning the opposite of what they bear, to handle them
deceitfully by picking and choosing from their contents, is a crime of
fearful magnitude. Yet this, in varying measure, is what all the false cults of
Christendom are guilty of. Unitarians, Universalists, those who teach the
unconsciousness of the soul between death and resurrection and the
annihilation of the wicked, single out certain snippets of Scripture but
ignore or explain away anything which makes against them. A very high
percentage of the errors propagated by the pulpit are nothing more or less
than Truth itself, but the Truth distorted and perverted.
Broadly speaking the doctrine which we have been expounding in this
series has been perverted by two main classes. First, by open Arminians,
who expressly repudiate most of what has been advanced in the preceding
sections. With them we are not here directly concerned. Second, by what
we can only designate “mongrel Calvinists.” This class deny the sovereign
and unconditional election of God and also the limited or particular
redemption of Christ. They are one with Arminians in believing that
election is based on God’s foreknowledge of those who would believe the
Gospel, and they affirm Christ atoned for the sins of all of Adam’s race,
and yet they term themselves “Calvinists” because they hold the eternal
security of the saints, or “once in grace, always in grace.” In their crude
and ill-balanced presentation of this doctrine they woefully pervert the
Truth and do incalculable damage unto those who give ear to them. As
they do not all proceed along exactly the same line or distort the Truth at
the same particular point we will divide this branch of our subject so as to
cover as many errors as possible..98
1. It is perverted by those who predicate of mere professors what pertains
only to the regenerate. Here is a young man who attends a service at a
church where a “special evangelistic campaign” is being held. He is not
seriously inclined, in fact rarely enters a place of worship, but is visiting
one now to please a friend. The evangelist makes a fervent emotional
appeal and many are induced to “go forward” and be prayed for, our young
man among them—again to please his friend. He is persuaded to “become
a Christian” by signing a “decision card” and then he is congratulated on
the “manly step” he has taken. He is duly “received into the church” and at
once given a class of boys in the “Sunday School.” He is conscious there
has been no change within and though somewhat puzzled supposes the
preacher and church-members know more about the matter than he does.
They regard him as a Christian and assure him he is now safe for eternity.
Here is another young man who is passing a “Gospel Hall” on a Lord’s day
evening; attracted by the hearty singing, he enters. The speaker expatiates
at length on

John 3:16 and similar passages. He declares with such
vigor that God loves everybody and points out in proof thereof that He
gave His Son to die for the sins of all mankind. The unsaved are urged to
believe this and are told that the only thing which can now send them to
Hell is their unbelief. As soon as the service is over the speaker makes for
our young man and asks him if he is saved. Upon receiving a negative
reply, he says, “Would you not like to be, here and now?”

Acts 16:3 1
is read to him and he is asked “Will you believe?” If he says yes,

John
5:24 is quoted to him and he is told that he is now eternally secure. He is
welcomed into the homes of these new friends, frequents their meetings
and is addressed as “Brother.”
The above are far more than imaginary cases: we have come into personal
contact with many from both classes. And what was the sequel? In the
great majority of instances the tide of emotion and enthusiasm soon
subsided, the novelty quickly wore off, attending “Bible readings” soon
palled, and the dog returned to its vomit and the sow to her wallowing in
the mire. They were then regarded as “backsliders” and perhaps told “The
Lord will bring you back again into the fold,” and some of these man-made
converts are foolish enough to believe their deceivers and assured that
“once saved, saved forever” they go on their worldly way with no
trepidation as to the ultimate outcome. They have been fatally deceived.
And what of their deceivers? They are guilty of perverting the Truth, they
have cast pearls before swine, they have taken the children’s bread and.99
thrown it to the dogs; they gave to empty professors what pertained only
to the regenerate.
2. It is perverted by those who fail to insist upon credible evidences of
regeneration, as is the case with the above examples. The burden of proof
always rests upon the one who affirms. When a person avers that he is a
Christian that averment does not make him one, and if he be mistaken it
certainly is not kindness on my part to confirm him in a delusion. A church
is weakened spiritually in proportion to the number of its unregenerate
members. Regeneration is a supernatural work of grace and therefore it is a
great insult to the Holy Spirit to imagine that there is not a radical
difference between one who has been miraculously quickened by Him and
one who is dead in trespasses and sins, between one who is indwelt by Him
and one in whom Satan is working (

Ephesians 2:2). Not until we see
clear evidence that a supernatural work of grace has been wrought in a
soul are we justified in regarding him as a brother in Christ. The tree is
known by the fruits it bears: good fruit must be manifested on its branches
ere we can identify it as a good tree.
We will not enter into a labored attempt to describe at length the principal
birth-marks of a Christian; instead we will mention some things which if
they be absent indicate that “the root of the matter” (

Job 19:28) is not
in the person. One who regards sin lightly, who thinks nothing of breaking
a promise, who is careless in the performance of temporal duties, who
gives no sign of a tender conscience which is exercised over what are
commonly called “trifles,” lacks the one thing needful. A person who is
vain and self-important, who pushes to the fore seeking the notice of
others, who parades his fancied knowledge and attainments, has not
learned of Him who is “meek and lowly in heart.” One who is hyper-sensitive,
who is deeply hurt if some one slights her, who resents a word of
reproof no matter how kindly spoken, betrays the lack of a humble and
teachable spirit. One who frets over disappointments, murmurs each time
his will is crossed and rebels against the dispensations of Providence,
exhibits a will which has not been Divinely subdued.
That a person belongs to some “evangelical church” or “assembly” and is
regular in his attendance there, is no proof that he is a member of the
Church which is Christ’s (mystical) body. That a person goes about with a
Bible in his hand is no guaranty that the Divine Law is within his heart.
Though he may talk freely and fluently about spiritual things, of what.100
worth is it if they do not regulate his daily walk? One who is dishonest in
business, undutiful in the home, thoughtless of others, censorious and
unmerciful, has no title to be regarded as a new creature in Christ Jesus, no
matter how saintly his pose be on the Sabbath Day. When the pharisees and
sadducees came to Christ’s forerunner to be baptized of him, he said,
“Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance”
(

Matthew 3:8):
I must first see some signs of godly sorrow for sin, some manifestations of
a change of heart, some tokens of a transformed life. So we must demand
the evidences of regeneration before we are justified in crediting a Christian
profession, otherwise we endorse what is false and bolster up one in his
self-deceit.
3. It is perverted by those who sever the cause from its necessary effect.
The cause of the believer’s perseverance is one and indivisible, for it is
Divine and nothing whatever of the creature is mingled with it; yet to our
apprehension at least it appears as a compound one and we may view its
component parts separately. The unchanging love, the immutable purpose,
the everlasting covenant and the invincible power of God are conjoint
elements in making the saint infallibly secure. But each of those elements is
active and brings forth fruit after its own kind. God’s love is not confined
to the Divine bosom but is “shed abroad” in the hearts of His people by the
Holy Spirit (

Romans 5:5), from whence it flows forth again unto its
Giver: “we love Him because He first loved us” (

1 John 4:19). Our
love is indeed feeble and fluctuating, yet it exists, and cannot be quenched,
so that we can say with Peter
“Thou knowest that I love Thee.” “I know My sheep and (though
imperfectly) am known of Mine.” (

John 10:14)
shows the response made.
The preacher who has much to say upon the love of God and little or
nothing about the believer’s love to Him is partial and fails in his duty.
How can I ascertain that I am an object of God’s love but by discovering
the manifest effects of His love being shed abroad in my heart?
“If any man love God, the same in known of God”
(

1 Corinthians 8:3)..101
“All things work together for good to them that love God, to them
who are the called according to His purpose” (

Romans 8:28).
It is by their love for Him they give proof they are the subjects of His
effectual call. And how is genuine love for God to be identified? First, by
its eminency: God is loved above all others so as He has no rival in the
soul:
“whom have I in heaven but Thee, and there in none upon earth
that I desire beside Thee” (

Psalm 73:25).
All things give way to His love;
“Because Thy lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise
Thee” (

Psalm 63:3).
The real Christian is content to do and suffer anything rather than lose
God’s favor, for that is his all. Second, true love for God may be
recognized by its component parts. Repentance is a mourning love,
because of the wrongs done its Beloved and the loss accruing to ourselves.
Faith is a receptive love, thankfully accepting Christ and all His benefits.
Obedience is a pleasing love, seeking to honor and glorify the One who has
set His heart upon me. Filial fear is a restraining love which prevents me
offending Him whom I esteem above all others. Hope is love expecting,
anticipating the time when there shall be. nothing to come between my soul
and Him. Communion is love finding satisfaction in its Object. All true
piety is the expression and outflow of love to God and those who bear His
image. Hungering and thirsting after righteousness is love desiring more of
God and His holiness. Joy is the exuberance of love, delighting itself in its
all-sufficient portion. Patience is love waiting for God to make good His
promise, moving us to endure the trials of the way until He comes to our
relief. Love
“beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth
all things” (

1 Corinthians 13:7).
Third, real love for God expresses itself in obedience. Where there is
genuine love for God it will be our chief concern to please Him and fulfill
His will.
“He that hath My commandments and keepeth them, he it is that
loveth Me” (

John 14:21)..102
“This is the love of God, that we keep His commandments”
(

1 John 5:3).
Inasmuch as it is the love of an inferior to a superior it must show itself in a
respectful subjection, in the performance of duty. God returneth love with
love: “I love them that love Me” (

Proverbs 8:17 and cf.

John
14:21). “A Christian is rewarded as a lover rather than as a servant: not as
doing work, but as doing work out of love” (Manton). If we love God we
shall do his bidding, promote His interests, seek His glory. And this not
sporadically but uniformly and constantly; not in being devout at certain set
times and the observance of the Lord’s supper, but respecting His authority
in all the details of our daily lives. Only thus does love perform its function
and fulfill its design:
“whoso keepeth His Word, in him verily is the love of God
perfected (attains its proper goal): hereby know we that we are in
Him”(

1 John 2:5).
From what has been pointed out in the last three paragraphs it is clear that
those who dwell upon the love of God for His people to the virtual
exclusion of their love for Him do pervert the truth of the security of the
saints, as the individual who persuades himself that he is the object of
God’s love without producing the fruit of his love for Him is treading on
very dangerous ground. This divorcing of the necessary effect from its
cause might be demonstrated just as conclusively of the other elements or
parts, but because we entered into so much detail with the first we will
barely state the other three. The immutability of God’s purpose to conduct
His elect to Heaven must not be considered as a thing apart; the means
have been predestinated as much as the end, and they who despise the
means perish. The very term “covenant” signifies a compact entered into by
two or more persons, wherein terms are prescribed and rewards promised:
nowhere has God promised covenant blessings to those who comply not
with covenant stipulations. Nor have I any warrant to believe the saving
power of God is working in me unless I am expressly proving the
sufficiency of His grace.
4. It is perverted by those who lose the balance of Truth between Divine
preservation and Christian perseverance. We may think it vastly more
honoring unto God to write or say ten times as much about His sovereignty
as we do upon man’s responsibility, but that is only a vain attempt to be
wise above what is written, and therefore is to display our own.103
presumption and folly. We may attempt to excuse our failure by declaring
it is a difficult matter to present the Divine supremacy and human
accountability in their due proportions, but with the Word of God in our
hands it will avail us nothing. The business of God’s servant is not only to
contend earnestly for the Faith but to set forth the Truth in its Scriptural
proportions. Far more error consists in misrepresenting and distorting the
Truth than in expressly repudiating it. Professing Christians are not
deceived by an avowed infidel or atheist, but are taken in by men who
quote and re-quote certain portions of Holy Writ, but are silent upon all the
passages which clash with their lop-sided views.
Just as we may dwell so much upon the Deity of Christ as to lose sight of
the reality of His humanity so we may become so occupied with God’s
keeping of His people as to overlook those verses where the Christian is
bidden to keep himself. The incarnation in nowise changed or modified the
fact that Christ was none other than Immanuel tabernacling among men,
that “God was manifest in flesh,” nevertheless we read
“Wherefore in all things it behoved Him to be made like unto His
brethren” (

Hebrews 2:17),
and again
“Jesus increased in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and
man” (

Luke 2:51).
The theanthropic person or the Mediator is grossly caricatured if either His
Godhead or manhood be omitted from consideration. Whatever difficulty it
may involve to our finite minds, whatever mystery which transcends our
grasp, yet we must hold fast to the fact that the Child born, the Son given,
was “the mighty God” (

Isaiah 9:6); nor must we suffer the truth of
God’s garrisoning of His people to crowd out the necessity of their
discharging their responsibility.
It is perfectly true there is a danger in the other side and that we need to be
on our guard against erring in the opposite direction. Some have done so.
There are those who consider the humanity of Christ could not be true
humanity in the real sense of that word unless it were peccable, arguing
that His temptation was nothing more than a meaningless show unless He
was capable of yielding to Satan’s attacks. One error leads to another. If
the last Adam met the Devil on the same plane as did the first Adam,
simply as a sinless man, and if His victory (as well as all His wondrous.104
works) is to be attributed solely to the power of the Holy Spirit, then it
follows that the exercise of His divine prerogatives and attributes were
entirely suspended during the years of His humiliation. Hence we find that
those who hold this fantastic view endorse the “kenosis” theory,
interpreting the “made Himself of no reputation” or “who emptied
Himself” of

Philippians 2:7 as the temporary setting aside of His
omniscience and omnipotence.
Contending for Christian perseverance no more warrants the repudiation of
Divine preservation than insisting on the true manhood of Christ justifies
the impugning of His Godhood. Both must be held fast: on the one hand
reasoning must be bridled by refusing to go one step further than Scripture
goes; on the other hand faith must be freely exercised, receiving all that
God has revealed thereon. That which is central in

Philippians 2:5-7 is
the position Christ entered and the character in which He appeared. He
who was “in the form of God” and deemed it not robbery “to be equal
with God” took upon Him “the form of a servant” and was “made in the
likeness of men.” He laid aside the robes of His incomprehensible glory,
divested Himself of His incommunicable honors, and assumed the
mediatorial office instead of continuing to act as the universal Sovereign.
He descended into the sphere of servitude, yet without the slightest injury
to His Godhead. There was a voluntary abnegation of the exercise of full
dominion and sovereignty, though He still remained “The Lord of glory”
(

1 Corinthians 2:8). He “became obedient unto death” but He did not
become either feeble or fallible. He was and is both perfect and “the mighty
God.”
As the person of the God-man Mediator is falsified if either His Godhead
or manhood be denied, or perverted if either be practically ignored, so it is
with the security of the saints when either their Divine preservation or their
own perseverance is repudiated, or perverted if either be emphasized to the
virtual exclusion of the other. Both must be maintained in their due
proportions. Scripture designates our Savior “the true God” (

1 John
5:20), yet it also speaks of Him as “the man Christ Jesus” (

1 Timothy
2:5); again and again He is denominated “the Son of man,” yet Thomas
owned Him as “my Lord and my God.” So too the Psalmist affirmed
“He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: He that keepeth thee, will
not slumber… The Lord shall preserve thee from all evil: He shall
preserve thy soul. The Lord shall preserve thy going out and thy.105
coming in from this time forth and for evermore” (

Psalm 121:3,
7, 8);
nevertheless, He also declared
“By the Word of Thy lips I have kept me from the paths of the
destroyer” (

17:4),
and again
“I have kept the ways of the Lord…1 have kept myself from mine
iniquity” (

18:21, 23).
Jude exhorts believers “keep yourselves in the love of God” and then
speaks of Him
“that is able to keep you from falling” (

21:24).
The one complements, and not contradicts, the other.
5. It is perverted by those who divorce the purpose of God from the means
through which it is accomplished. God has purposed the eternal felicity of
His people and that purpose is certain of full fruition, nevertheless it is not
effected without the use of means on their part, any more than a harvest is
obtained and secured apart from human industry and persevering diligence.
God has made promise to His saints that “bread shall be given” them and
their “water shall be sure” (

Isaiah 33:16), but that does not exempt
them from the discharge of their duty or provide them with an indulgence
to take their ease. The Lord gave a plentiful supply of manna from heaven,
but the Israelites had to get up early and gather it each morning, for it
melted when the sun shone on it. So His people are now required to
“labor for the meat which endureth unto everlasting life”
(

John 6:2 7).
Promises of Divine preservation are not made to sluggards and idlers but
those called unto the use of means for the establishing of their souls in the
practice of obedience; those promises are not given to promote idleness but
are so many encouragements to the diligent, assurances that sincere
endeavors shall have a successful issue.
God has purposed to preserve believers in holiness and not in wickedness.
His promises are made to those who strive against sin and mourn over it,
not to those who take their full thereof and delight therein. If I presume.106
upon God’s goodness and count upon His shielding me when I deliberately
run into the place of temptation, then I shall be justly left to reap as I have
sown. It is Satan who tempts souls to recklessness and to the perverting of
the Divine promises. This is clear from the attack which he made upon the
Savior. When he bade Him cast Himself from the pinnacle of the temple
and to rely upon the angels to preserve Him from harm, it was an urging
Him to presume upon the end by disdaining the means; Our Lord stopped
his mouth by pointing out that, notwithstanding His assurance from God
and of His faithfulness concerning the end, yet Scripture requires that the
means tending to that end be employed, the neglect of which is a sinful
tempting of God. If I deliberately drink deadly poison I have no ground for
concluding that prayer will deliver me from its fatal effects.
The Divine preservation of the saints no more renders their own activities,
constant care and exertions superfluous, than does God’s gift of breath
make it unnecessary for us to breathe. It is their own preservation in faith
and holiness which is the very thing made certain: they themselves,
therefore, must live by faith and in the practice of holiness, for they cannot
persevere in any other way than by watching and praying, carefully
avoiding the snares of Satan and the seductions of the world, resisting and
mortifying the lusts of the flesh, working out their own salvation with fear
and trembling. To neglect those duties, to follow a contrary course, is to
“draw back unto perdition” and not to “believe to the saving of the soul”
(

Hebrews 10:39). He who argues that since his perseverance in faith
and holiness is assured he needs exercise no concern about it or trouble to
do anything toward it, is not only guilty of a palpable contradiction but
gives proof that he is a stranger to regeneration and has neither part nor lot
in the matter.
“Make me to go in the path of Thy commandments, for therein do I
delight” (

Psalm 119:35)
is the cry of the renewed.
6. It is perverted by those who deny the truth of Christian responsibility. In
this section we shall turn away from the “mongrel Calvinists” to consider a
serious defect on the part of “hyper-Calvinists,” or as some prefer to call
them, “fatalists.” These people not only repudiate the general offer of the
Gospel, arguing that it is a virtual denial of man’s spiritual impotency to
call upon the unregenerate to savingly repent and believe, but they are also
woefully remiss in exhorting believers unto the performance of Christian.107
duties. Their favorite text is “without Me ye can do nothing. “but they are
silent upon
“I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me”
(

Philippians 4:13).
They delight to quote the promises wherein God declares “I will” and “I
shall” but they ignore those verses which contain the qualifying “if ye”
(

John 8:31) and “if we” (

Hebrews 3:6).
They are sound and strong in the truth of God’s preservation of His
people, but they are weak and unsound on the correlative truth of the
saints’ perseverance. They say much about the power and operations of the
Holy Spirit, but very little on the method He employs or the means and
motives He makes use of.
“As many as are led by the Spirit of God they are the sons of God”
(

Romans 8:14).
He does not compel but inclines: it is not by the use of physical power but
by the employment of moral suasion and sweet inducements that He leads
for He deals with the saints not as stocks and stones but as rational entities.
“I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I
will guide thee with Mine eye” (

Psalm 32:8),
The meaning of that is more apparent from the contrast presented in the
next verse: “Be ye not as the horse (rushing where it should not) or as the
mule (stubbornly refusing to go where it should) which have no
understanding: whose mouth must be held in with bit and bridle. “ God
does not drive His children like unintelligent animals, but guides by
enlightening their minds, directing their inclinations, moving their wills.
God led Israel across the wilderness by a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar
of fire by night: but they had to respond thereto, to follow it. So the good
Shepherd goes before His sheep, and they follow Him.
It is true, blessedly true, that God “draws,” yet that drawing is not a
mechanical one as though we were machines, but a moral one in keeping
with our nature and constitution. Beautifully is this expressed in

Hosea
11:4,
“I drew them with cords as a man, with bands of love.”.108
Every moral virtue, every spiritual grace, is appealed to and called into
action. There is perfect love and gracious care on God’s part toward us;
there is the intelligence of faith and response of love on our part toward
Him; and thereby He keeps us in the way. Blessed and wondrous indeed is
the inter-working of Divine grace and the believer’s responsibility. All the
affections of the new creature are wrought upon by the Holy Spirit. He
draws out our love by setting before us God’s love: “we love Him,
because He first loved us,” but we do love Him, we are not passive, nor is
love inactive. He quickens our desires and revives our assurance, and we
“rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” He brings into view
“the prize of the high calling” and we “press toward the mark,
forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forth unto
those things which are before” (

Philippians 3:13, 14).
It is very much like a skilled musician and a harp: as his fingers touch its
strings they produce melodious sounds. God works in us and produces the
beauty of Holiness. But how? By setting before our minds weighty
considerations and powerful motives, and causing us to respond thereto.
By giving us a tender conscience which is sensitive to His still small voice.
By appealing to every motive-power in us: fear, desire, love, hatred, hope,
ambition. God preserves His saints not as He does the mountain pine which
is enabled to withstand the storm without its own concurrence, but by
calling into exercise and act the principle that was imparted to them at the
new birth. There is the working of Divine grace first, and then the outflow
of Christian energy. God works in His people both to will and to do of His
good pleasure, and they work out their own salvation with fear and
trembling (

Philippians 2:12,13). And it is the office of God’s servants
to be used as instruments in the hands of the Spirit. It is their task to
enforce the responsibility of the saints, to admonish slothfulness, to warn
against apostasy, to call unto the use of means and the performance of
duty.
If the hyper-Calvinist preacher compares the method he follows with the
policy pursued by the apostles, he should quickly perceive the vast
difference there is between them. True, the apostles gave attention to
doctrinal instruction, but they also devoted themselves to exhortation and
expostulation. True, they magnified the free and sovereign grace of God
and were careful to set the crown of glory upon the One to whom alone it
belonged, yet they were far from addressing their hearers as so many.109
paralytics or creatures who must lie impotent till the waters be moved.
“No,” they said, “Let us not sleep, as do others” (

1 Thessalonians
5:6), but “awake to righteousness and sin not” (

1 Corinthians 15:34).
They bade them
“run with patience the race that is set before us”
(

Hebrews 12:2)
and not sit down and mope and hug their miseries. They called upon them
to “resist the Devil” (

James 4:7), not take the attitude they were
helpless in the matter. They gave direction “keep yourselves from idols”
(

1 John 5:21) and did not at once negative it by adding, “but you are
unable to do so.” When the apostle said
“I think it meet, as long as lam in this tabernacle, to stir you up by
putting you in remembrance” (

2 Peter 1:13),
he was not usurping the prerogative of the Spirit but was enforcing the
responsibility of the saints.
7. It is perverted by those who use the doctrine of justification to crowd
out the companion doctrine of sanctification. Though they are inseparably
connected yet they may be and should be considered singly and distinctly.
Under the Law the ablutions and oblations, the washings and sacrifices
went together, and justification and sanctification are blessings which must
not be disjointed. God never bestows the one without the other, yet we
have no means of knowing we have received the former apart from the
evidences of the latter. Justification refers to the relative or legal change
which takes place in the status of God’s people. Sanctification to the real
and experimental change which takes place in their state, a change which is
begun at the new birth, developed during the course of their earthly
pilgrimage and is made perfect in Heaven. The one gives the believer a title
to Heaven, the other a meetness for the inheritance of the saints in light;
the former clears him from the guilt of sin, the latter cleanses from sin’s
defilement. In sanctification something is actually imparted to the believer,
whereas in justification it is only imputed. Justification is based entirely on
the work which Christ wrought for His people, but sanctification is
principally a work wrought in them.
By our fall in Adam we not only lost the favor of God but also the purity of
our nature, and therefore we need to be both reconciled to God and.110
renewed in our inner man, for without personal holiness “no man shall see
the Lord” (

Hebrews 12:14).
“As He which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of
conversation (behavior); because it is written, Be ye holy for I am
holy” (

1 Peter 1:15, 16).
God’s nature is such that unless we be sanctified there can be no
intercourse between Him and us. But can persons be sinful and holy at one
and the same time? Genuine Christians discover so much carnality, filth and
vileness in themselves that they find it almost impossible to be assured they
are holy. Nor is this difficulty solved, as in justification, by recognizing that
though completely unholy in ourselves we are holy in Christ, for Scripture
teaches that those who are sanctified by God are holy in themselves,
though the evil nature has not been removed from them.
None but “the pure in heart” will ever “see God” (

Matthew 5:8).
There must be that renovation of soul whereby our minds, affections and
wills are brought into harmony with God. There must be that impartial
compliance with the revealed will of God and abstinence from evil which
issues from faith and love. There must be that directing of all our actions to
the glory of God, by Jesus Christ, according to the Gospel. There must be
a spirit of holiness working within the believer’s heart so as to sanctify his
outward actions if they are to be acceptable unto Him in whom “there is no
darkness.” True, there is perfect holiness in Christ for the believer, but
there must also be a holy nature received from Him. There are some who
appear to delight in the imputed obedience of Christ who make little or no
concern about personal holiness. They have much to say about being
arrayed in
“the garments of salvation and covered with the robe of
righteousness” (

Isaiah 61:10),
who give no evidence that they “are clothed with humility” (

1 Peter
5:4) or that they have
“put on…bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind,
meekness, long-suffering, forbearing one another and forgiving one
another” (

Colossians 3:12).
How many there are today who suppose that if they have trusted in Christ
all is sure to be well with them at the last, even though they are not.111
personally holy. Under the pretense of honoring faith, Satan, as an angel of
light, has deceived and is now deceiving multitudes of souls. When their
“faith” is examined and tested, what is it worth? Nothing at all so far as
insuring an entrance into Heaven is concerned: it is a powerless, lifeless,
fruitless thing. The faith of God’s elect is unto “the acknowledging of the
truth which is after godliness” (

Titus 1:1). It is a faith which purifieth
the heart (

Acts 15:9), and it grieves over all impurity. It is a faith which
produces an unquestioning obedience (

Hebrews 11:8). They therefore
do but delude themselves who suppose they are daily drawing nearer to
Heaven while they are following those courses which lead only to Hell. He
who thinks to come to the enjoyment of God without being personally
holy, makes Him Out to be an unholy God, and puts the highest indignity
upon Him. The genuineness of saving faith is only proved as it bears the
blossoms of experimental godliness and the fruits of true piety.
Sanctification consists of receiving a holy nature from Christ and being
indwelt by the Spirit so that the body becomes His temple, set apart unto
God. By the Spirit’s giving me vital union with “the Holy One” I am
“sanctified in Christ Jesus” (

1 Corinthians 1:2). Where there is life
there is growth, and even when growth ceases there is a development and
maturing of what has grown. There is a living principle, a moral quality
communicated at the new birth, and under sanctification it is drawn out
into action and exercised in living unto God. In regeneration the Spirit
imparts saving grace, in sanctification He strengthens and develops it: the
one is a birth, the other a growth.. Therein it differs from justification:
justification is a single act of grace, sanctification is a continued work of
grace; the one is complete the other progressive. Some do not like the term
“progressive sanctification” hut the thing itself is clearly taught in
Scripture.
“Every branch that beareth fruit, He purgeth it that it may bring
forth more fruit” (

John 15:2).
“I pray that your love may abound yet more and more in
knowledge and all judgment” (

Philippians 1:9).
That you “may grow up in Him in all things” (

Ephesians 4:15) is an
exhortation thereto.
8. It is perverted by those who fail to accord the example of Christ its
proper place. Few indeed have maintained an even keel on this important.112
matter. If the Socinians have made the exemplary life of Christ to be the
whole end of the incarnation, others have so stressed His atoning death as
to reduce His model walk to comparative insignificance. While the pulpit
must make it clear that the main and chief reason why the Son of God
became flesh, was in order that He might honor God in rendering to the
Law a perfect satisfaction on behalf of His people, yet it should also make
equally plain that a prominent design and important end of Christ’s
incarnation was to set before His people a pattern of holiness for their
emulation. Thus declares The Scriptures:
“He hath left us an example that we should follow His steps”
(

1 Peter 2:21)
and that example imperatively obligates believers unto its imitation. If some
have unduly pressed the example of Christ upon unbelievers, others have
woefully failed to press it on believers. Because it has no place in the
justification of a sinner, it is a serious mistake to suppose it exerts no
influence upon the sanctification of a saint.
The very name “Christian” intimates that there is an intimate relation
between Christ and the believer. It signifies “an anointed one,” that he has
been endued with a measure of that Divine unction which his Master
received “without measure” (

John 3:34). And as Flavel, the Puritan,
pointed out “Believers are called ‘fellows’ or co-partners (

Psalm 45:7)
of Christ from their participation with Him of the same Spirit. God giveth
the same spirit unto us which He most plentifully poured out upon Christ.
Now where the same spirit and principle is, there the same fruits and
operations must he produced, according to the proportions and measures
of the Spirit of grace communicated. Its nature also is assimilating, and
changeth those in whom it is into the same image with Christ, their
heavenly Head (

2 Corinthians 3:18).” Again; believers are denominated
“Christians” because they are disciples of Christ (

Matthew 28:19
margin,

Acts 11:26), that is, learners and followers of His, and
therefore it is a misuse of terms to designate a man a “Christian” who is not
sincerely endeavoring to mortify and forsake whatever is contrary to His
character: to justify his name he must be Christlike.
Though the perfect life of Christ must not be exalted to the exclusion of
His atoning death, neither must it be omitted as the believer’s model. If it
be true that no attempt to imitate Christ can obtain a sinner’s acceptance
with God, it is equally true that the emulating of Him is imperatively.113
necessary and absolutely essential in order to the saints’ preservation and
final salvation.
“Every man is bound to the imitation of Christ under penalty of
forfeiting his claim to Christ. The necessity of this imitation
convincingly appears from the established order of salvation, which
is fixed and unalterable. Now conformity to Christ is the established
method in which God will bring many souls to glory.
‘For whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be
conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the Firstborn
among many brethren’ (

Romans 8:29).
The same God who hath predestinated men to salvation, hath in
order thereto, predestinated them unto conformity to Christ, and
this order of heaven is never to be reversed. We may as well think
to be saved without Christ, as to be saved without conformity to
Christ” (John Flavel).
In Christ God has set before His people that standard of moral excellence
which He requires them to aim and strive after. In His life we behold a
glorious representation in our own nature of the walk of obedience which
He demands of us. Christ conformed Himself to us by His abasing
incarnation, how reasonable therefore is it that we should conform
ourselves to Him in the way of obedience and sanctification.
“Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus”
(

Philippians 2:5).
He came as near to us as was possible for Him to do, how reasonable then
is it that we should endeavor to come as near as it is possible for us to do.
“Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me.” If “even Christ
pleased not Himself” (

Romans 15:3),
how reasonable is it that we should be required to deny ourselves and take
up our cross and follow Him (

Matthew 16:24), for without so doing
we cannot be His disciples (

Luke 15:27). If we are to he conformed to
Christ in glory how necessary that we first be conformed to Him in
holiness:
“he that saith he abideth in Him ought himself so to walk even as
He walked” (

1 John 2:6)..114
“Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from
iniquity” (

2 Timothy 2:19):
let him either put on the life of Christ or drop the name of Christ..115
CHAPTER 8
ITS SAFEGUARDS
There may be some who will at once take exception to the employment of
this term in such a connection, affirming that the Truth of God requires no
safeguarding at the hands of those called by Him to expound it: that their
business is to faithfully preach the same and leave results entirely to its
Author. We fully agree that God’s eternal Truth stands in no need of any
carnal assistance from us, either in the way of dressing it up to render it
more attractive or toning down to make it less offensive; yea, we heartily
subscribe to the apostle’s dictum that
“we can do nothing against the Truth, but for the Truth”
(

2 Corinthians 13:8)
—God overrules the opposition of those who hate it and makes the wrath
of His enemies to praise Him. Nevertheless in view of such passages as

Mark 4:33;

John 16:12;

1 Corinthians 3:2;

Hebrews 5:12 it
is clear that our presentation of the Truth needs to be regulated by the
condition of those to whom it is ministered. Moreover, this raises the
question, What is faithfully presenting the Truth? Are there not other
modifying adverbs which are not to be omitted?
The Truth should not only be preached “faithfully” but wisely,
proportionately, seasonably as well. There is a zeal which is not according
to knowledge nor tempered by wisdom. There is an unbalanced
presentation of the Truth which accomplishes more harm than good. We
read of “the present Truth” (

2 Peter 1:12) and of “a word in due
season” (

Proverbs 15:23 and cf.

Isaiah 50:4), which implies there
is such a thing as speaking unseasonably, even though it be the Truth itself
which is spoken and that “faithfully.” What is a “word in season?” Is it not
a timely and pertinent one, a message suited to the condition,
circumstances and needs of the persons addressed? In His wisdom and
goodness God has provided cordials for the faint and comfort for those
who mourn, as He has also given exhortations to the slothful, admonitions
to the careless, solemn warnings to the reckless, and fearful threatenings to
those who are defiant. Discrimination needs to be used in our appropriation
and application of the Scriptures. As it would be cruel to quote terrifying.116
passages to one who is already mourning over his sins, so it would be
wrong to press the promises of Divine preservation upon a professing
Christian who is living a carnal and worldly life.
“Watch and pray that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed
is willing, but the flesh is weak” (

Matthew 26:41).
Those words furnish an illustration of a “word in due season.” The
disciples (not Peter only) had boasted “though I should die with Thee, yet
will I not deny Thee.” They were self-confident and temporarily blind to
their own instability. Their Lord therefore bade them guard against self-reliance
and seek grace from above, for though they were quite sincere in
their avowal, yet were they much too feeble to resist Satan’s attacks in
their own strength. They thought themselves immune from such a horrible
sin as denying their Master, but instead of bolstering them up in their sense
of security He warned them of their danger. Another example of a
seasonable word is the apostle’s exhortation to the one who claims that he
“standeth by faith,” namely,
“Be not high-minded, but fear. For if God spared not the natural
branches take heed lest He also spare not thee. Behold therefore
the goodness and severity of God: on those that fell, severity; but
toward thee goodness, if thou continue in His goodness; otherwise
thou also shalt be cut off” (

Romans 11:20,22).
But it is rather those safeguards by which God Himself has hedged about
the subject of the everlasting security of His people that we would now
particularly consider, those defenses which are designed to shut out unholy
trespassers from this garden of delights; or to change the figure, those
descriptions of character and conduct which serve to make known the
particular persons to whom alone His promises belong. In the preceding
section we dwelt at some length on how this blessed doctrine is
misrepresented by Arminians and perverted by Antinomians. To use a term
employed by an apostle, it has been grievously “wrested,” torn from its
setting, disproportionately contorted, divorced from its qualifying terms,
detached from the necessary means by which it is attained, applied unto
those to whom it does not belong. Hence our present object is to direct
attention unto some of the principal bulwarks by which this precious truth
is protected and which must be duly emphasized and continually pressed by
the servants of God if it is to be portrayed in its true perspective and if.117
souls are not to be fatally misled. Only thus shall we “faithfully” present
this truth.
1. By insisting that it is the preservation of saints and not every one who
deems himself a Christian. It is of deep importance to define clearly and
sharply the character of those who are Divinely assured of being preserved
unto the heavenly kingdom—that God be not dishonored, His Truth
falsified, and souls deceived.
“He preserveth the souls of His saints” (

Psalm 87:10),
but of none others. It is so easy to appropriate (or misappropriate) such a
promise as
“Thou shalt guide me with Thy counsel and afterward receive me
to glory” (

Psalm 73:24),
but before so doing honesty requires that I ascertain whether the
experiences of the one described in the context are those of mine. Asaph
confesses to being envious at the prosperity of the wicked (vv. 3, 12) until
he felt he had cleansed his own heart and hands “in vain” (v. 13). But he
checks himself, tender lest by such murmuring he should stumble God’s
children (v. 15), recording how his “heart was grieved” and his conscience
pricked at giving way to such foolish repinings, until he owned unto God
“I was as a beast before Thee” (v. 22). The recollection of God’s gracious
forbearance (v. 23) moved him to say “it is good for me to draw near to
God” (v. 28).
When I can find such marks in myself as the Psalmist had, such graces
operating in my heart as did in, his, then—but not before — am I
warranted in comforting myself as he did. If I challenge the utterances of
my mouth as to whether or no they are likely to offend God’s little ones, if
I make conscience of envying the prosperity of the wicked and mourn over
it, if I am deeply humbled thereby, if I realize “my steps had well nigh
slipped” (v. 2) and that it was a longsuffering God who had “holden me by
my right hand,” alone preserving me from apostasy; if this sense of His
sovereign goodness enables me to affirm “Whom have I in heaven but
Thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire besides Thee” (v. 25); if
all of this produces in me such a sense of my utter insufficiency as to own
“My flesh and my heart faileth, but God is the strength of my heart” (v.
26), then am I justified in saying “Thou shalt guide me with Thy counsel.118
and afterward receive me to glory.” Yes, God “preserveth the souls of His
saints,” but what avails that for me unless I be one of them!
Again; how many there are who eagerly grasp at those words of Christ
concerning His sheep, who have only the vaguest idea of the ones whom
He thus designates:
“And I give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish;
neither shall any pluck them out of My hand” (

John 10:27).
The very fact that the verse opens with “and” requires us to ponder what
immediately precedes, and because His flock is but a “little” one
(

Luke 12:32) it behooves each one who values his soul to spare no
pains in seeking to ascertain whether he belongs to it. In the context the
Savior says “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow
Me.” Observe diligently the three things which are here predicated of them.
First, they hear Christ’s voice. Now to hear His voice means far more than
to be acquainted with His words as they are recorded in Scripture—more
than believing they are His words. When it was said unto Israel
“the Lord will not hear you in that day” (

1 Samuel 8:18)
it signified that He would not heed their requests or grant their petitions.
When God complained “When I spake, ye did not hear,” it was not that
they were physically deaf but their hearts were steeled against Him, as the
remainder of the verse indicates:
“But did evil before Mine eyes, and did choose that wherein I
delighted not” (

Isaiah 65:12).
When God says
“This is My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased: hear ye Him”
(

Matthew 17:5)
He is requiring something more of us than that we simply listen respectfully
and believingly to what He says: He is demanding that we submit ourselves
unreservedly to His authority, that we respond promptly to His orders, that
we obey Him. In

Proverbs 8:33 “hearing” is contrasted from refusing,
and in

Hebrews 3:15 we read “If ye will hear His voice harden not
your hearts.” When Christ declares of His flock “My sheep hear My
voice” He signifies they heed it — they are not intractable but responsive,
doing what He bids. Second, He declares “and I know them,” that is, with.119
a knowledge of approbation. Third, “and they follow Me “: not the bent of
the flesh, not the solicitations of Satan, not the ways of the world, but the
example which Christ hast left them (

1 Peter 2:21). Of this it said
“they follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth”
(

Revelation 14:4)
But in order to follow Christ, self has to be denied and the cross taken up
(

Matthew 16:24). Only those who thus “hear,” are “known” of
Christ, and who “follow” Him, shall “never perish.”
2. By insisting that no person has any warrant to derive comfort from the
doctrine of Divine Security until he is sure that he possesses the character
and conduct of a saint. This naturally grows out of the first point, though
we have somewhat anticipated what should be said here. Not every one
who bears the name of Christ will enter Heaven, but only His sheep. It
therefore follows that only those bearing the marks of such have any claim
upon the promises made to that favored company. And the burden of proof
always rests upon the one who affirms. If one answers some advertisement
from an employer of labor for a skilled workman, he is required to give
evidence of his qualifications by well-accredited testimonials. If a person
puts in a claim to an estate he must produce proof that he is a legitimate
heir and satisfy the court of his bona fides. If a captain requires an
additional hand for his ship he demands that the applicant show his papers
or give demonstration that he is a fully qualified seaman. Before I can
procure a passport I must produce my birth certificate. And one who avers
himself a saint must authenticate his profession and evidence his new birth
before he is entitled to be regarded as such.
God’s saints are distinguished from all other people, not only by what He
has done for them but also by what He has wrought in them. He set His
heart upon them from all eternity, having loved them “with an everlasting
love” (

Jeremiah 31:3) and therefore were they “blessed with all
spiritual blessings in the heavenlies in Christ,” chosen in Him before the
foundation of the world, predestinated
“unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself,” and
“accepted in the Beloved” (

Ephesians 1:3-6).
It is true that they fell in Adam and became guilty before God, but an all-sufficient
Redeemer was provided for them, appointed to assume and
discharge all their liabilities and make full reparation to the broken Law on.120
their behalf. It is also true that they are “by nature the children of wrath
even as others,” being born into this world “dead in trespasses and sins”
(

Ephesians 2:1-3); but at the ordained hour a miracle of grace is
performed within them so that they become “new creatures in Christ
Jesus” (

2 Corinthians 5:17) and their bodies are made “the temple of
the Holy Spirit” (

1 Corinthians 6:19). Faith and holiness have been
communicated to them, so that though they are still in the world they are
not of it (

John 17:14).
The saints are endowed with a new life, with a spiritual and supernatural
principle or “nature” which affects their whole souls. So radical and
transforming is the change wrought in them by this miracle of grace that it
is described as a passing from death unto life (

John 5:24), from the
power of darkness into the kingdom of God’s dear Son (

Colossians
1:13), from “having no hope and without God in the world” to being
“made nigh by the blood of Christ” (

Ephesians 2:12, 13), from a state
of alienation to one of reconciliation (

Colossians 1:21), out of darkness
into God’s marvelous light (

1 Peter 2:9). Of them God says
“This people have I formed for Myself: they shall show forth My
praise” (

Isaiah 43:21).
Obviously such a tremendous change in their state and standing must effect
a real and marked change in their character and conduct. From rebellion
against God they are brought unto subjection to Him, so that they throw
down their weapons of opposition and yield to His scepter. From love of
sin they are turned to hate it, and from dread of God they now delight in
Him. Formerly they thought only of gratifying self, now their deepest
longing is to please Him who has shown them such amazing grace.
The saints are those who enter into a solemn covenant with the Lord,
unreservedly dedicating themselves unto Him, making His glory their
paramount concern. “Formerly soldiers used to take an oath not to flinch
from their colors, but faithfully to cleave to their leaders; this they called
sacramentum militare, a military oath; such an oath lies upon every
Christian. It is so essential to the being of a saint, that they are described by
this:
“gather My saints together unto Me; those that have made a
covenant with Me” (

Psalm 50:5)..121
We are not Christians till we have subscribed this covenant, and that
without any reservation. When we take upon us the profession of Christ’s
name, we enlist ourselves in His muster-roll, and by it do promise that we
will live and die with Him in opposition to all His enemies…He will not
entertain us till we resign up ourselves freely to His disposal, that there
may be no disputing with His commands afterwards, but, as one under His
authority, go and come at His word” (W. Gurnall, 1660).
3. By insisting that perseverance is an imperative necessity. Adherence to
the Truth no matter what opposition is encountered, living a life of faith in
and upon God despite all the antagonism of the flesh, steadfastly treading
the path of obedience in face of the scoffs of the world, continuing to go
forward along the highway of holiness notwithstanding the hindrances of
Satan and his emissaries, is not optional but obligatory. It is according to
the unalterable decree of God: no one can reach Heaven except by going
along the only way that reaches there—Christ “endured the cross” before
He received the crown. It is according to the irreversible appointment of
God:
“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good
works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in
them” (

Ephesians 2:10).
It is according to the established order of God: “that ye be not slothful but
followers of them who through faith and patience (the Greek word may be
rendered, perseverance with equal propriety) inherit the promises”
(

Hebrews 6:12). It is according to the design of the Atonement, for
Christ lived and died that He might
“purify unto Himself a peculiar people zealous of good works”
(

Titus 2:14)
Assurance of Divine preservation no more renders less imperative the
saints own perseverance than God’s informing Hezekiah he should live a
further fifteen years abolished the necessity of his eating and drinking,
resting and sleeping, as hitherto.
“The elect are as much chosen to intermediate sanctification on
their way as they are to that ultimate glorification which crowns
their journey’s end, and there is no coming to the one but through
the other. So that neither the value, nor the necessity, nor the
practical value of good works is superseded by this glorious.122
truth…It is impossible that either the Son of God, who came down
from heaven to propose and make known His Father’s will; or that
the Spirit of God, speaking in the Scriptures and acting on the
heart, should administer the least encouragement to negligence and
unholiness of life. Therefore that opinion that personal holiness is
unnecessary to final glorification is in direct opposition to every
dictate of reason, to every declaration of Scripture” (A. Toplady).
Alas, the attitude of multitudes of professing Christians is,
“Soul, thou hast much good laid up…take thine ease”
(

Luke 12:19),
and the doom of the fool will be theirs.
Concerning the imperativeness of perseverance C.H. Spurgeon said in the
introductory portion of his sermon on “The righteous shall hold on his
way” (

Job 17:9), “The man who is righteous before God has away of
his own. It is not the way of the flesh, nor the way of the world; it is a way
marked Out for him by the Divine command, in which he walks by faith. It
is the king’s highway of holiness, the unclean shall not pass over it: only
the ransomed of the Lord shall walk there, and these shall find it a path of
separation from the world. Once entered upon the way of life, the pilgrim
must persevere in it or perish, for thus saith the Lord ‘If any man draw
back, My soul shall have no pleasure in him.’ Perseverance in the path of
faith and holiness is a necessity of the Christian, for only ‘he that endureth
to the end shall be saved.’ It is in vain to spring up quickly like the seed
that was sown on the rock, and then by-and-by to wither when the sun is
up; that would but prove that such a plant has no root in itself, but ‘the
trees of the Lord are full of sap’ and they abide and continue and bring
forth fruit, even in old age, to show that the Lord is upright.
“There is a great difference between nominal Christianity and real
Christianity, and this is generally seen in the failure of the one and the
continuance of the other. Now, the declaration of the text is, that the truly
righteous man shall hold on his way: he shall not go back, he shall not leap
the hedges and wander to the right hand or the left, he shall not lie down in
idleness, neither shall he faint and cease to go upon his journey; but he
‘shall hold on his way.’ It will frequently be very difficult for him to do so,
but he will have such resolution, such power of inward grace given him,
that he will hold on his way’ with stern determination, as though he held on.123
by his teeth, resolving never to let go. Perhaps he may not always travel
with equal speed; it is not said that he shall hold on his pace, but he shall
hold on his way. There are times when we run and are not weary, and anon
when we walk and are thankful that we do not faint; ay, and there are
periods when we are glad to go on all fours and creep upwards with pain;
but still we prove that ‘the righteous shall hold on his way.’ Under all
difficulties the face of the man whom God has justified is steadfastly set
towards Jerusalem, nor will he turn aside till his eyes shall see the King in
his beauty.”
4. By insisting on continuance in well doing. It is not how a person
commences but how he ends which is the all-important matter. We
certainly do not believe that one who has been born of God can perish, but
one of the marks of regeneration is its permanent effects, and therefore I
must produce those permanent fruits if my profession is to be credited.
Both Scripture and observation testify to the fact that there are those who
appear to run well for a season and then drop out of the race. Not only are
there numbers induced to “come forward” and “join the church” under the
high-pressure methods used by the professional evangelists, who quickly
return to their former manner of life: but there are not a few who enter
upon a religious profession more soberly and wear longer. Some seem to
be genuinely converted: they separate from ungodly companions, seek
fellowship with God’s people, manifest an earnest desire to know more of
the Word, become quite intelligent in the Scriptures, and for a number of
years give every outward sign of being Christians. But gradually their zeal
abates, or they are offended at some wrong done them, and ultimately they
go right back again into the world.
We read of a certain class
“who for a while believed, and in time of temptation fall away”
(

Luke 8:13).
There were those who followed Christ for a season, yet of them we read
“From that time many of His disciples went back and walked no
more with Him” (

John 6:66).
There have been many such in every age. All is not gold that glitters, and
not every one who makes a promising start in the race reaches the goal. It
is therefore incumbent upon us to take note of those passages which press
upon us the necessity of continuance, for they constitute another of those.124
safeguards which God has placed around the doctrine of the security of His
saints. On a certain occasion “many believed on Him” (

John 8:30), but
so far from Christ assuring them that Heaven was now their settled
portion, we are told “Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on
Him, IF ye continue in MY word then are ye My disciples indeed” (v. 31).
Unless we abide in subjection to Christ, unless we walk in obedience to
Him unto the end of our earthly course, we are but disciples in name and
semblance.
We read of certain men who “came to Antioch and spake unto the
Grecians there, preaching the Lord Jesus.” The power of God
accompanied them and richly blessed their efforts, for
“The hand of the Lord was with them and a great multitude
believed and turned unto the Lord” (

Acts 11:20,21).
Tidings of this reached the church at Jerusalem, and mark well their
response: they sent Barnabas to them, “who, when he came and had seen
the grace of God, was glad, and exhorted them all that with purpose of
heart they would cleave unto the Lord” (v. 22). Barnabas was not one of
those fatalistic hyper-Calvinists who argued that since God has begun a
good work in them all would be well, that the Holy Spirit will care for,
instruct, and guard them, whether or no they be furnished with ministerial
nurses and teachers. Instead, he recognized and discharged his own
Christian responsibility, dealt with them as accountable agents, addressed
to them suitable exhortations, pressed upon them the indispensable duty of
their cleaving to the Lord. Alas that there are so few like Barnabas today.
At a later date we find that Barnabas returned to Antioch accompanied by
Paul, and while there they were engaged in “confirming the souls of the
disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith” and warning them that
“we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God”
(

Acts 14:22).
How far were they from believing in a mechanical salvation, reasoning that
if these people had been genuinely converted they would necessarily
“continue in the faith!” Writing to the Corinthians, the apostle reminded
them of the Gospel he had preached unto them and which they had
received, yet failing not to add.125
“By which also ye are saved IF ye hold fast that which I preached
unto you, unless ye have believed in vain” (

1 Corinthians 15:2).
In like manner he reminded the Colossians that they were reconciled to
God and would be preserved unblameable and unreproveable
“IF ye continue in the faith, grounded and settled, and be not
moved away from the hope of the Gospel” (

1:23).
There are those who dare to say there is no “if” about it, but such people
are taking direct issue with Holy Writ.
Even when writing to a minister of the Gospel, his own “son in the faith,”
Paul hesitated not to exhort him,
“Take heed unto thyself and unto the doctrine; continue in them,”
adding “for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself (from
apostasy) and them that hear thee” (

1 Timothy 4:6).
To the Hebrews he said
“But Christ as a Son over His own house, whose house are we IF
we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto
the end” (

3:6).
And again,
“For we are made partakers of Christ IF we hold the beginning of
our confidence steadfast unto the end” (

3:15).
How dishonestly has the Word of God been handled by many! Such
passages as these are never heard from many pulpits from one year’s end to
another. It is much to be feared that many pastors of “Calvinistic” churches
are afraid to quote such verses lest their people should charge them with
Arminianism. Such will yet have to face the Divine indictment
“Ye have not kept My ways, but have been partial in the Law” or
Word (

Malachi 2:9).
We find precisely the same thing in the writings of another apostle. James
though addressing those whom he terms “my beloved brethren,” calls
upon his readers
“But be ye doers of the Word, and not hearers only, deceiving your
own selves. For if any one be a hearer of the Word and not a doer,.126
he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: for he
beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth
what manner of man he was (that is, nothing but a superficial and
fleeting effect is produced upon him). But whoso looketh into the
perfect Law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a
forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in
his deed” (

1:22-25).
The word for ‘beholdeth” is a metaphor taken from those who not only
glance at a thing but bend their bodies towards it that they may carefully
scrutinize it —used in

Luke 24:12, and

1 Peter 1:12; denoting
earnestness of desire, and diligent enquiry. To “continue therein” signifies a
persevering study of the Truth, and abiding in the belief of and obedience
to the same, thereby evidencing our love for it. Many have a brief taste for
it, but their appetite is quickly quenched again by the things of this world.
It is perfectly true, blessedly true, that there is no “if,” no uncertainty, from
the Divine side in connection with the Christian’s reaching Heaven:
everyone who has been justified by God shall without fail be glorified.
Those who have been Divinely quickened will most assuredly continue in
the faith and persevere in holiness unto the end of their earthly course. This
is clear from

1 John 2:19, where the apostle alludes to some in his day
who had apostatized: “They went out from us, but they were not of us”—
they belonged not to the family of God, though for a while they had
fraternized with some of its members. “For” adds the apostle, “if they had
been of us (had they really been one in a personal experience of the
regenerating power of the Spirit) they would have continued with us” —
nothing could have induced them to heed the siren voice of their seducers.
“But they went Out from us that they might be made manifest that they
were not all of us”—but merely temporary professors, stony-ground
hearers, nominal Christians, members of a totally different family.
Previously they had every appearance of being the genuine article, but by
their defection they were exposed as counterfeits. No, there is no “if” from
the Divine side.
Nevertheless, there is an “if” from the human side of things, from the
standpoint of our responsibility, in connection with my making sure that I
am one of those whom God has promised to preserve unto His heavenly
kingdom. Continuance in the faith in the path of obedience, in denying self
and following Christ, is not simply desirable but indispensable. No matter.127
how excellent a beginning I have made, if I do not continue to press
forward I shall be lost. Yes, lost, and not merely miss some particular
crown or millennial honors as the deluded dispensationalists teach. It is
persevere or perish: it is final perseverance or perish eternally—there is no
other alternative.

Romans 11:22 makes that unmistakably clear;
“Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them that fell (the
unbelieving Jews) severity: but toward thee (saved Gentiles, 5:11)
goodness, IF thou continue in His goodness; otherwise thou also shalt be
cut off” To continue in God’s goodness is the opposite of returning to our
badness. The evidence that we are the recipients of God’s goodness is that
we continue in the faith and obedience of the Gospel. The end cannot be
reached apart from the appointed means.
But I cannot see the consistency between what has been set forth in the last
two paragraphs, some will exclaim. What of it: who are you? who am I?
Merely short-sighted creatures of yesterday, upon whom God has written
“folly and vanity.” Shall human ignorance set itself against Divine wisdom!
Does any reader dare call into question the practice of Christ and His
apostles: they pressed the “if” and insisted upon the needs-be for this
“continuing”; and those ministers who fail to do so—no matter what their
standing or reputation—are no servants of God. Can you see the
consistency between the apostle affirming so positively of those who have
received the Holy Spirit from Christ “ye shall abide (“continue” – the same
Greek word as in all the above passages) in Him,” and then in the very
next breath exhorting them “And now, little children, abide (“continue”) in
Him” (

1 John 2:27,28)—if you cannot it must be because of
theological blinders. Can you see the consistency of David asserting so
confidently “The Lord will perfect that which concerneth me: Thy mercy 0
Lord, endureth forever” and then immediately after praying, “forsake not
the works of Thine own hands” (

Psalm 138:8)—if you cannot then this
writer places a big question-mark against your religious profession.
5. By insisting that there are dangers to guard against. Here again there will
be those who object against the use of this term is such a connection. What
sort of dangers, they will ask: dangers of the Christian’s severing his
fellowship with God, losing his peace, spoiling his usefulness, rendering
himself unfruitful?—granted, but not of missing Heaven itself. They will
point Out that safety and danger are opposites and that one who is secure
in Christ cannot be in any peril of perishing. However plausible, logical,
and apparently Christ-honoring that may sound, we would ask, Is that how.128
Scripture represents the case? Do the Epistles picture the saints as being in
no danger of apostasy? Or, to state it less baldly: are there no sins warned
against, no evils denounced, no paths of unrighteousness described, which
if persisted in do not certainly terminate in destruction? And is there no
responsibility resting on me in connection therewith? Apostasy is not
reached at a single bound, but is the final culmination of an evil process,
and it is against those things which have a tendency unto apostasy against
which the saints are repeatedly and most solemnly warned.
One who is now experiencing good health is in no immediate danger of
dying from tuberculosis, nevertheless if he recklessly exposes himself to the
wet and cold, if he refrains from taking sufficient nourishing food which
supplies strength to resist disease, or if he incurs a heavy cough on his
chest and makes no effort to break it up, he is most likely to fall a victim to
consumption. So, while the Christian remains spiritually healthy he is in no
danger of apostatizing, but if he starts to keep company with the wicked
and recklessly exposes himself to temptation, if he fails to use the means of
grace, if he experiences a sad fall, and repents not of it and returns to his
first works, he is deliberately heading for disaster. The seed of eternal
death is still in the Christian: that seed is sin, and it is only as Divine grace
is diligently and constantly sought, for the thwarting of its inclinations and
suppressing of its activities, that it is hindered from developing to a fatal
end. A small leak which is neglected will sink a ship just as effectually as
the most boisterous sea. And as Spurgeon said on

Psalm 19:13,
“Secret sin is a steppingstone to presumptuous sin, and that is the vestibule
of ‘the sin which is unto death’” (Treasury of David).
Did no dangers menace Israel after Jehovah brought them Out of Egypt
with a high hand and by His mighty arm conducted them safely through the
Red Sea? Did all who entered upon the journey to Canaan actually arrive at
the promised land? Perhaps some one replies, They were under the old
covenant and therefore supply no analogy to the case of Christians today.
What says the Word? This, they “were all baptized unto Moses in the
cloud and in the sea, and did all eat the same spiritual meat, and did all
drink the same spiritual drink, for they drank of that spiritual Rock that
followed them, and that Rock was Christ.” What analogy could be closer
than that? Yet the passage goes on to say,
“But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were
overthrown in the wilderness” (

1 Corinthians 10:2-5)..129
And what is the use which the apostle makes of this solemn history? Does
he say that it has no application unto us? The very reverse:
“Now these things were our examples, to the intent that we should
not lust after evil things as they also lusted…neither let us tempt
Christ, as some of them also tempted and were destroyed of
serpents” (vv. 6-9).
Here is a most deadly danger for us to guard against.
Nor did the apostle leave it at that. He was still more definite, saying
“Neither murmur ye as some of them also murmured, and were
destroyed of the destroyer. Now all these things happened unto
them for examples, and they are written for our admonition upon
whom the ends of the world are come,”
making this specific application unto Christians, “Wherefore let him that
thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall” (vv. 10-12). Paul was no
fatalist but one who ever enforced moral responsibility. He inculcated no
mechanical salvation, but one which must be worked Out “with fear and
trembling.” Chas. Hodge of Princeton was a very strong Calvinist, yet on

1 Corinthians 10:12 he failed not to say: “There is perpetual danger of
falling. No degree of progress we have already made, no amount of
privileges which we may have enjoyed, can justify the want of caution. ‘Let
him that thinketh he standeth,’ that is, who thinketh himself
secure…neither the members of the church nor the elect can be saved
unless they persevere in holiness, and they cannot persevere in holiness
without continual watchfulness and effort,” i.e., against the dangers
menacing them.
The above is not the only instance when the apostle made use of the case
of those Israelites who perished on their way to Canaan to warn N.T.
saints of their danger. After affirming that God was grieved with that
generation, saying
“They do alway err in their heart and they have not known
(loved)My ways, so I sware in My wrath, They shall not enter into
My rest,” Paul added, “Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of
you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God. But
exhort one another daily, while it is called Today, lest any of you be
hardened through the deceitfulness of sin” (

Hebrews 3:12, 13)..130
We are not here warned against an imaginary peril but a real one. “Take
heed” signifies watch against carelessness and sloth, be on the alert as a
soldier who knows the enemy is near, lest you fall an easy prey. Those here
exhorted are specifically addressed as “brethren” to intimate there are
times when the best of saints need to be cautioned against the worst of
evils. An “evil heart of unbelief” is a heart which dislikes the strictness of
obedience and universality of holiness which God requires of us.
After referring again to those “whose carcasses fell in the wilderness” to
whom God sware “they shall not enter into My rest, because of their
unbelief” or “disobedience” (

3:18, 19), the apostle said
“Let us therefore fear lest a promise being left us of entering into
His rest, any of you should seem to come short of it”
(

Hebrews 4:1).
“Fear” is as truly a Christian grace as is faith, peace or joy. The Christian
is to fear temptations, the dangers which menace him, the sin which
indwells him, the warnings pointed by others who have made shipwreck of
the faith and the severity of God in His dealings with such. He is to fear the
threatenings of God against sin and those who indulge themselves in it. It
was because Noah was “moved with fear” at the warning he had received
from God that he took precautions against the impending flood
(

Hebrews 11:7). God has plainly announced the awful doom of all who
continue in allowed sin, and fear of that doom will inspire caution and
circumspection, and will preserve from carnal security and presumption.
And therefore are we counseled “passing the time of your sojourn here in
fear” (

1 Peter 1:17)—not only in exceptional seasons, but the whole
of our time here.
We can barely glance at a few more of the solemn cautions addressed not
merely to formal professors but to those who are recognized as genuine
saints.
“Be sober, be vigilant, because your adversary the Devil, as a
roaring lion, walketh about seeking whom he may devour. Whom
resist steadfast in the faith” (

1 Peter 5:8, 9).
Obviously such a warning would be meaningless if the Christian were not
threatened with a most deadly danger..131
“Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware
lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from
your own steadfastness” (

2 Peter 3:17).
This warning looks back to the false prophets of (

2:1, 2) and what is
said of them in vv. 18-22. The “error of the wicked” here cautioned
against includes both doctrinal and practical, especially the latter—
forsaking of the “narrow way,” the highway of holiness which alone leads
to Heaven.
“Hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown”
(

Revelation 3:11)
—cling tenaciously to the Truth you have received, the faith which has
been planted in your heart, to the measure of grace given you.
But how do you reconcile the Christian’s danger with his safety? There is
nothing to reconcile, for there is no antagonism. It is enemies and not
friends who need reconciling, and warnings are the Christian’s friend, one
of the safeguards which God has placed around the truth of the security of
His people, preventing them from wresting it to their destruction. By
revealing the certain consequences of total apostasy Christians are thereby
cautioned and kept from the same: a holy fear moves their hearts and so
becomes the means of preventing the very evil they denounce. A lighthouse
is to warn against recklessness as mariners near the coast, so that they will
steer away from the fatal rocks. A fence before a precipice is not
superfluous, but is designed to call to a halt those journeying in that
direction. When the driver of a train sees the signals change to red he shuts
off steam, thereby preserving the passengers under his care. The danger
signals of Scripture to which we have called attention are heeded by the
regenerate and therefore are among the very means appointed by God for
the preservation of His people, for it is only by attending to the same they
are kept from destroying themselves.
In the foregoing volume we devoted four sections to a setting forth of the
principal springs from which the final perseverance of the saints (in their
cleaving unto the Lord, their love of the Truth, and their treading the path
of obedience) does issue, or the grounds on which their eternal security
rests.
In this book we devoted a chapter to a setting forth of the principal springs
from which the final perseverance of the saints (in their cleaving unto the.132
Lord, their love of the Truth, and their treading the path of obedience)
does issue, or the grounds on which their eternal security rests. It is
therefore fitting, if the balance of truth is to be duly observed, that we
should give space unto a presentation of the safeguards by which God has
hedged about this doctrine, thereby forbidding empty professors and
presumptuous Antinomians from trespassing upon this sacred ground. In
this chapter we have already dwelt upon five of these safeguards and we
now proceed to point out others. In such a day as this it is the more
necessary to enter into detail upon the present branch of our subject that
the mouths of certain enemies of the Truth may be closed, that formalists
may be shown they have no part or lot in the matter, that hyper-Calvinists
may be instructed in the way of the Lord more perfectly, and His own
people stirred out of their lethargy.
6. By insisting on the necessity for using the means of grace. There are
some who assert that if God has regenerated a soul he is infallibly certain
of reaching Heaven whether or not he uses the means appointed, yea that
no matter to what extent he fails in the performance of duty or how
carnally he lives, he cannot perish. Now we have no hesitation in saying
that such an assertion is a grievous perversion of the Truth, and in view of
Satan’s words to Christ “If Thou be the Son of God cast Thyself down
(from a pinnacle of the temple),for it is written,
He shall give His angels charge over Thee, and in their hands they
shall bear Thee up” (

Matthew 4:6),
there is no room for doubt as to who is the author of such a lie. It is a
grievous perversion because a tearing asunder of what God Himself has
joined together. The same One who has decreed the end has also ordained
the means necessary unto that end. He has promised certain things unto His
people, but He requires to be inquired of concerning them; and if they have
not, it is because they ask not.
Even among those who would turn away with abhorrence from the
extreme form of Antinomianism mentioned above, there are those who
regard the use of means quite indifferently in this connection, arguing that
whatever be required in order to preserve from apostasy the Lord Himself
will attend unto, that He will so work in His people both to will and to do
of His good pleasure that it is quite unnecessary for ministers of the Gospel
to be constantly addressing exhortations unto them and urging to the
performance of duty. But such a conclusion is thoroughly defective and.133
erroneous, for it quite loses sight of the fact that God deals with His people
throughout as moral agents, enforcing their responsibility. Whether or not
we can see the consistency between the Divine foreordination and the
discharge of human accountability, between the Divine decree and the
imperativeness of our making use of the means of grace, is entirely beside
the point. Christ exhorted and admonished His apostles, and they in turn
the churches; and that is sufficient. It is vain to pit our puny objections
against their regular practice.
Just as God has ordained material means for the accomplishment of His
pleasure in the material realm, so He has appointed that rational agents
shall use spiritual means for the fulfilling of His will in connection with
spiritual things. He could make the fields fertile and the trees fruitful
without the instrumentality of rain and sunshine, but it has pleased Him to
employ secondary causes and subordinate agents in the production of our
food. In like manner He could cause His people to grow in grace, make
them fruitful unto every good work, and preserve them from everything
injurious to their welfare, without requiring any industry and diligence on
their part; but it has not so pleased Him to dispense with their concurrence.
Accordingly we find Him bidding them
“Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling”
(

Philippians 2:12),
“Labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the
same example of unbelief” (

Hebrews 4:11).
Promises and precepts, exhortations and threatenings, suitable to moral
agents are given to them, calling for the employment of those faculties and
the exercise of those graces which He has bestowed upon them.
It is a serious mistake to suppose that there is any conflict between one
class of passages which contain God’s promises of sufficient grace unto
His people, and another class in which He requires of them the
performance of their duty. In his exposition of

Hebrews 3:14 John
Owen pointed out that the force of the Greek rendered “if we hold the
beginning of our confidence firm unto the end” denotes “our utmost
endeavor to hold it fast and to keep it firm and steadfast”; adding “Shaken
it will be, opposed it will be, kept it will not be, without our utmost
diligence and endeavor. It is true our persistency in Christ does not, as to
the issue and event, depend absolutely on our own diligence. The.134
unalterableness of our union with Christ, on the account of the faithfulness
of the covenant, is that which does and shall eventually secure it. But yet
our own diligent endeavor is such an indispensable means for that end that
without it, it will not be brought about.” Our diligent endeavor is
necessitated by the precept, which God commands us to make use of, and
by the order He has established in the relations of one spiritual thing to
another.
The older writers were wont to illustrate the consistency between God’s
purpose and our performance of duty by an appeal to Acts 27. The ship
which carried the apostle and other prisoners encountered a fearful gale
and it continued so long and with such severity that the inspired narrative
declares “all hope that we should be saved was then taken away” (v. 20).
A Divine messenger then assured the apostle, “Fear not Paul, thou must
be brought before Caesar; and lo God hath given thee all (the lives of)
them that sail with thee,” and so sure was the apostle that this promise
would be fulfilled, he said unto the ship’s company “Be of good cheer, for
there shall be no loss of life among you, but of the ship, for I believe that
it shall be even as it was told me” (vv. 21-25). Yet next day, when the
sailors feared they would be smashed upon the rocks and started to flee out
of the ship, Paul said to the centurion “except these abide in the ship, ye
cannot be saved” (v. 31)!
Now there is a nice problem which we would submit to the more extreme
Calvinists: how can the positive promise “there shall be no loss of life” (v.
22) and the contingent “except these abide in the ship ye cannot be saved”
(v. 31) stand together? How are you going to reconcile them according to
your principles? But in reality there is no difficulty: God made no absolute
promise that He would preserve those in the ship regardless of their use of
appropriate means. They were not irrational creatures He would safeguard,
but moral agents who must discharge their own responsibility, and neither
be inert nor act presumptuously. Accordingly we find Paul bidding his
companions “take meat,” saying “This is for your health” (v. 34), and
later the ship was lightened of its cargo (v. 38) and its main-sail hoisted (v.
40), which further conduced to their safety. The certainty of God’s promise
was not suspended upon their remaining in the ship, but it was a making
known of the means whereby God would effect their security.
Reverting to Owen’s exposition of

Hebrews 3:14, he said: “Our
persistency in our subsistence in Christ is the emergence and effect of our.135
acting grace unto that purpose. Diligence and endeavors in this matter are
like Paul’s mariners when he was shipwrecked at Melita. The preservation
of their lives depended absolutely on the faithfulness and power of God,
yet when the mariners began to fly out of the ship Paul tells the centurion
that unless his men stayed therein they could not be saved. But why need
he think of the shipmen when God took upon Himself the preservation of
them all? He knew full well that He would preserve them; but yet that He
would do so in and by the use of means. If we are in Christ God has given
us the lives of our souls, and hath taken upon Himself, in His covenant, the
preservation of them. But yet we may say, with reference unto the means
that He hath appointed, when storms and trials arise, unless we use our
own diligent endeavors we cannot be saved.” Alas that some who profess
to so greatly admire this Puritan and endorse his teaching have wandered
so far from the course which he followed.
If it be asked, Did the purpose of God that Paul and his companions should
all reach land safely depend upon the uncertain will and actions of men?
The answer is, No, as a cause from which the purpose of God received its
strength and support. But yes, as a means, appointed by Him, to secure the
end He had ordained, for God has decreed the subordinate agencies by
which the end shall be accomplished as truly as He has decreed the end
itself. In His Word God has revealed a conjunction of means and ends, and
there is a necessity lying upon men to use the means and not to expect the
end without them. It is at our peril that we tear asunder what God has
joined together and disrupt the order He has appointed. The same God
who bids us believe His promises, forbids us to tempt His providences
(

Matthew 4:7). Even though the means may appear to us to have no
adequate connection with the end, seeing God has enjoined them, we must
use the same. Naaman must wash in the Jordan if he would be cleansed of
his leprosy (

2 Kings 4:10) and Hezekiah must take a lump of figs and
lay it on his boil if he is to be recovered (

2 Kings 20:4-7).
They are greatly mistaken who suppose that since the preservation of
believers is guaranteed in the covenant of grace that this renders all means
and motives, exhortations and threatenings, useless and senseless. Not so.
The doctrine of the everlasting security of the saint does not mean that
God will preserve him whether or not he perseveres, but rather that He has
promised to give him all needed grace for him to continue in the path of
holiness. This supposes that believers will be under such advantages and
have suitable aids used with them in order to this, and that they shall have.136
motives constantly set before them which induce and persuade unto
obedience and personal piety and to guard them against the contrary.
Hence the propriety and usefulness of the ordinances of the Gospel, the
instructions and precepts, the promises and incentives which are furnished
us to perseverance, without which the purpose of God that we should
persevere could not be effected in a way suited to our moral nature.
Christians are indeed “kept by the power of God” (

1 Peter 1:5), yet it
needs to be pointed out that they are not preserved mechanically, as a child
is kept in the nursery from falling into the fire by a tall metal fender or
guard, or as the unwilling horse is held in by bit and bridle; but spiritually
so by the workings of Divine grace in them and by means of motives and
inducements from without which call forth that grace into exercise and
action. We quite miss the force of that declaration unless we complete the
verse: “Who are kept by the power of God through faith, unto salvation
ready to be revealed in the last time.” It is not “for” or “because of faith”
but “through faith” yet not without it, for faith is the hand which, from a
sense of utter insufficiency and helplessness, clings to God and grasps His
strength—not always firmly, but often feebly; not always consciously, but
instinctively. Though the saint be “kept by the power of God” yet he
himself has to fight every step of the way. If we read of “this grace
wherein ye stand” (

Romans 5:2), we are also told “for by faith ye
stand” (

2 Corinthians 1:24).
Viewing the event from the standpoint of the Divine decree it was not
possible that Herod should slay Christ in His infancy, nevertheless God
commanded Joseph to use means to prevent it, by fleeing into Egypt. In
like manner, from the standpoint of God’s eternal purpose it is not possible
that any saint should perish, yet He has placed upon him the necessity of
using means to prevent apostasy and everything which has a tendency
thereto. True, he must not trust in the means to the exclusion of God, for
those means are only efficacious by His appointment and blessing; on the
other hand, it is presumption and not faith which talks of trusting God
while the means are despised or ignored. Nor have we said anything in this
section which warrants the inference that Heaven is a wage that we earn by
our own industry and fidelity, rather do the means appointed by God mark
out the course we must take if we would reach the desired Goal. It is
“through faith and patience” we “inherit the promises”
(

Hebrews 6:12):.137
our glorification will not be bestowed in return for them, yet there can be
no glorification to those devoid of these graces.
The sun shines into our rooms through their windows: those windows
contribute nothing whatever to our comfort and enjoyment of the sun, yet
are they necessary as means for its beams to enter. The means and
mediums which God has designed for the accomplishment of His ends
concerning us are not such as to be “conditions” on which those ends are
suspended in uncertainty as to their issue, but are the sure links by which
He has connected the one with the other. Exhortations and warnings are
not so much the means whereby God’s promises are accomplished, as the
means by which the things promised are wrought. God has promised His
people sufficient grace to enable and cause them to make such a use of the
means that they will be preserved from fatal sins or apostasy, and the
exhortations, consolations, admonitions of Scripture are designed for the
stirring up into exercise of that grace. The certainty of the end is assured
not by the nature or sufficiency of the means in themselves considered, but
because of God’s ordination in connection therewith.
God has assured His people that His grace shall be all-sufficient and that
His strength shall be made perfect in their weakness, but nowhere has He
promised a continuance of His love and favor unto dogs returning to their
vomit or to sows which are content to wallow in the mire. If our thoughts
on this subject be formed entirely by the teaching of God’s Word (and not
partly by carnal reason), then we shall expect perseverance only in that way
wherein God has promised it, and that is by availing ourselves of the helps
and advantages He has provided, especially the study of and meditation
upon His Word and the hearing or reading the messages of His servants.
Though God has promised grace unto His people, yet He requires them
to—sincerely, believingly, earnestly—seek it:
“Let us therefore come boldly unto the Throne of Grace, that we
may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need”
(

Hebrews 4:16).
And that grace we are constantly in need of as long as we are left here:—
“Day by day the manna fell, O to learn that lesson well.”
Much confusion has resulted on this and other points through failure to
distinguish between impetration and application, or what Christ purchased
for His people and God’s actually making over the same unto them.138
according to the order of things He has established. As faith is
indispensable before justification so is perseverance before glorification,
and that necessarily involves the use of means. True, our faith adds nothing
whatever to the merits of Christ in order to our justification, yet until we
believe, we are under the curse of the Law; nor does our perseverance
entitle us to glorification, yet only those who do persevere unto the end
will be glorified. Now as God requires obedience from all the parts and
faculties of our souls, so in His Word He has provided motives to the
obedience required, motives suited unto “all that is within us” — that love,
fear, hope, etc. may be called into action. Of ourselves we are not sufficient
to make a good use of the means, and therefore we beg God to work in us
that which He requireth:

Colossians 1:29.
God has promised to repair the spiritual decays of His people and to heal
their backslidings freely, yet He will do so in such a way as wherein He
may communicate His grace righteously to the praise of His glory.
Therefore are duties, especially that of confession of sins to God,
prescribed to us in order thereto.
“He that covereth his sins shall not prosper, but whoso confesseth
and forsaketh them shall have mercy” (

Proverbs 28:13).
“I will heal their backsliding” (

Hosea 14:4): there is the promise and
the end. But first “Take with you words and turn to the Lord: say unto
Him, Take away all iniquity, and receive us graciously” (v. 2): there is the
duty and the means unto that end. Although repentance and confession be
not the procuring cause of God’s grace and love, from whence alone our
healing or recovery proceeds, yet are they required in the appointed
method of God’s dispensing His grace.
It must be insisted upon that the Christian’s concurrence with the Divine
will by no means warrants the horrible conclusion that he is entitled to
divide the honors with God. How could this possibly be, seeing that if he
does what he is bidden he remains but an “unprofitable servant?” How
could it be, when to whatever extent he does improve the means it is only
the power of Divine grace which so enabled him? How could it be, when
he is most sensible in himself that far more of failure than success attends
his efforts? No, when the redeemed have safely crossed the Jordan and are
safely landed on the shores of the heavenly Canaan they will exclaim with
one accord.139
“Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto Thy name give glory,
for Thy mercy, for Thy Truth’s sake” (

Psalm 115:1).
To sum up. The doctrine of the perseverance of the saints, in the pursuit
and practice of holiness as it is set forth in God’s Word, provides no shelter
for either laziness or licentiousness: it supplies no encouragement for us to
take our regeneration and glorification for granted, but bids us
“give diligence to make your calling and election sure”
(

2 Peter 1:10).
Exhortations and threatenings are not made unto us as those already
assured of final perseverance, but as those who are called to the use of
means for the establishment of our souls in the ways of obedience, being
annexed to those ways of grace and peace which God calls His saints unto.
Perseverance consists in a continual exercise of spiritual graces in the
saints, and exhortations are the Divinely appointed means for stirring those
graces into action and for a further increase of them. Therefore those
preachers who do not press upon the Lord’s people the discharge of their
duties and are remiss in warning and admonishing them, fail grievously at
one of the most vital points in the charge committed to them.
7. By enforcing the threatenings of Scripture. The One with whom we have
to do is ineffably holy and therefore does He hate sin wherever it is found.
He will not ignore sin in His own children when it is unjudged and
unconfessed any more than He will in those who are the children of the
Devil. The pope and his underlings may traffic in their vile “indulgences”
and “special dispensations,” but the Lord God never lowers His standard,
and even those in Christ are not exempted from bitter consequences if they
pursue a course of folly. But God is also merciful and faithful, and
therefore He threatens before He punishes and warns before He smites. In
His Word He has described those ways which lead to disaster and
destruction, that we may shun them; yet those who deliberately follow
them may know for certain that they shall receive the due reward of their
defiance. It is therefore incumbent upon the minister of the Gospel to press
the Divine threatenings, as it is the part of wisdom for his hearers or
readers to take the same to heart.
“If ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father
forgive your trespasses” (

Matthew 6:15)..140
“And that servant which knew his Lord’s will and prepared not
himself, neither did according to His will, shall be beaten with many
stripes” (

Luke 12:47—spoken to Peter:

5:41).
“Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing
come unto thee” (

John 5:14).
“If a man abide not in Me, he is cast forth as a branch and is
withered, and men gather them and cast into the fire and they are
burned”
(

John 15:6—spoken to the eleven apostles).
“For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die; but if ye through the
Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live”
(

Romans 8:13).
“Be not deceived, God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man
soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh, shall
of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the spirit, shall of
the spirit reap life everlasting” (

Galatians 6:7, 8).
Have such passages as these been given due place in the preachings and
writings of the orthodox during the past fifty years? No indeed: why?
There are three particular passages which claim a fuller notice from us in
this connection, passages which are among the most solemn and frightful
to be found in all the Word of God, yet which are nevertheless addressed
immediately unto the people of God. Before citing the same we would
preface our remarks upon them with this general observation: they have
not received the attention they ought in the practical ministrations of God’s
servants. The minister of the Gospel has only discharged half his duty when
he clears these verses of the false glosses which his opponents have placed
upon them. It is quite true that Arminians have made an altogether
unwarrantable and wrong use of them, but probably God suffered His
enemies to thereby bring them into prominent notice because His friends
ignored them. The Christian teacher must not only show there is no conflict
between these passages and such verses as

John 10:28 and

Philippians 1:6, but he must also bring out their positive meaning and
the solemn bearing which they have upon Christians themselves..141
“For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have
tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy
Spirit, and have tasted the good Word of God, and the powers of
the world to come, if they shall fall away—to renew them again
unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God
afresh, and put Him to an open shame. For the earth which drinketh
in the rain that cometh oft upon it, and bringeth forth herbs, meet
for them by whom it is dressed, receiveth blessing from God. But
that which beareth thorns and briers is rejected, and is nigh unto
cursing; whose end is to be burned” (

Hebrews 6:4-8).
Those words are addressed to “holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly
calling” (

3:1), and their connection is as follows. In

5:11-14 the
apostle had reproved the Hebrews for being slow in their apprehension of
the Truth and in walking suitably thereto, and after the exhortation of

6:1-3 he warns them of the awful danger of continuing in a slothful
state—“For it is impossible.”
But, it may be objected. Surely it is not the intention of our Heavenly
Father to terrorize His own dear children. No, certainly not; yet He would
have them suitably affected thereby. Though such threatenings are not
designed to work in Christians a fear of damnation, yet they should beget
in them a holy care and diligence of avoiding the evils denounced. There is
no more incongruity between a Christian’s being comforted by the Divine
promises and alarmed by the Divine threatenings, than there is between his
living a life of joyful confidence in God and also one of humble dependence
upon Him. We must distinguish between things that differ: there is a fear of
caution as well as of distrust, a fear that produces carefulness and
watchfulness as well as one which fills with anxiety. There is a vast
difference between a thing that is meant to weaken the security of the flesh,
and the confidence that faith has in Christ. Assurance of perseverance is
quite consistent with and ought ever to be accompanied by “fear and
trembling” (

Philippians 2:12, 13).
In his opening remarks on

Hebrews 6:4-6 John Owen said, It “is a
needful and wholesome commination (denunciation) duly to be considered
by all professors of the Gospel.” And in the course of his masterly
exposition pointed out, “For not to proceed in the way of the Gospel and
obedience thereto is an untoward entrance into a total relinquishment of
the one and the other. That they therefore may be acquainted with the.142
danger hereof, and be stirred up to avoid that danger, the apostle gives
them an account of those who, after a profession of the Gospel, beginning
at a non-proficiency under it, do end in apostasy from it. And we may see
that the severest comminations are not only useful in the preaching of the
Gospel, but exceeding necessary towards persons that are observed to be
slothful in their profession.” Scripture nowhere teaches that the saint is so
secure that he needs not to be wary of himself, nor unmindful of the
defection of those who for a time seemed to run well.
Another of the Puritans said on this passage,
“Certainly all of us should stand in fear of this heavy judgment of
being given up to perish by our apostasy, to an obstinate heart,
never to reconcile ourselves by repentance, even the children of
God; for he proposeth it to them…The apostle saith, It is impossible
they should be saved, because it is impossible they should repent.
This is a fearful state, and yet, as fearful as it is, it is not unusual: it
is a thing we see often in some that have made a savory profession
of the name of God, and afterwards have been blasted. O, then, you
that have begun and have had a taste of the ways of God, and to
walk closely with Him, you should lay this to heart! Therefore this
is propounded to believers, that they should keep at a very great
distance from such a judgment, lest we grow to such an impenitent
state as to be given up to a reprobate mind and vile affections”
(Thos. Manton).
The best preventative is a conscience kept tender of sin, which mourns
over and confesses to God our transgressions, and seeks grace to mortify
our lusts.
“For if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge
of the Truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins; but a
certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which
shall devour the adversaries. He that despised Moses’ law died
without mercy under two or three witnesses; of how much sorer
punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy who bath
trodden under foot the Son of God, and bath counted the blood of
the covenant wherewith He was sanctified an unholy thing, and
bath done despite unto the Spirit of grace? For we know Him that
bath said, Vengeance belongeth unto Me, I will recompense, saith
the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge His people. It is a fearful.143
thing to fall in to the hands of the living God” (

Hebrews 10:26-
31).
It is outside our present design to give an exposition of these verses (which
we did when going through that Epistle), as we shall not now expose the
Arminian errors thereon (which we hope to very shortly); rather do we
now direct attention unto them as another example of the fearful
threatenings which are directly addressed to Christians, and which it is
madness and not wisdom to scoff at.
The scope of the above passage is easily grasped:

Hebrews 10:23 gives
an exhortation, verses 24, 25 announce the means of continuing in that
profession, while verses 26-31 declare what will befall those who relinquish
the Truth. In his comments John Owen points out, “The apostle puts
himself among them (“if we sin” etc.), as is his manner in comminations:
both to show that there is no respect of persons in this matter, but that
those who had equally sinned shall be equally punished; and to take off all
appearances of severity towards them, seeing he speaks nothing of this
nature but on such suppositions as wherein if he were himself concerned he
pronounceth it against himself also. The word ‘willingly’ signifies, of
choice—without surprisal, compulsion or fear… If a voluntary
relinquishment of the profession of the Gospel and the duties of it be the
highest sin, and be attended with the height of wrath and punishment, we
ought earnestly to watch against everything that inclineth or disposeth us
thereto.”
John Owen concluded his remarks on these verses by saying, “This
therefore is a passage of Holy Writ which is much to be considered,
especially in these days wherein we live, wherein men are apt to grow cold
and careless in this profession, and to decline gradually from what they had
attained unto. To be useful in such a season it was first written, and it
belongs unto us no less than unto them to whom it was first originally sent.
And we live in days wherein the security and contempt of God, the despite
of the Lord Christ and His Spirit, are come to the full, so as to justify the
truth that we have insisted on.” If the pressing of this passage on the
attention of all professing Christians was deemed so necessary in the palmy
days of the Puritans, how much more so in the dark times in which our lot
is cast! How woefully remiss, then, are those preachers who not only fail to
devote a whole sermon to these verses, but who never so much as quote
them from one years’ end to another, except it be to refute the Arminians.144
in such a manner that empty professors are made to believe there is nothing
for them to fear.
“For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through
the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again
entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them
than the beginning. For it had been better for them not to have
known the way of righteousness, than after they have known it, to
turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. But it is
happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is
turned to his own vomit again, and the sow that was washed to her
wallowing in the mire” (

2 Peter 2:20-22).
At the close of his remarks on this passage Matthew Henry says, “If the
Scriptures give such an account of Christianity on the one hand and of sin
on the other as we have in these verses, we certainly ought highly to
approve of the former and persevere therein, because it is a ‘way of
righteousness’ and a ‘holy commandment,’ and to loathe and keep at the
greatest distance from the latter because it is set forth as offensive and
abominable.” Far better never to make a profession, than make a fair one
and then sully and repudiate it.
“He that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be
cut off, and that without remedy” (

Proverbs 29:1).
The solemn threatenings of Scripture are so many discoveries to the
Church in particular and to the world in general of the severity of God
against sin and that He adjudges them worthy of eternal destruction who
persist therein. If professing Christians turn a deaf ear to exhortations,
admonitions and warnings, if they steel their hearts against entreaties and
threatenings, and determine to follow a course of self-will and self-pleasing,
they place themselves beyond the hope of mercy. It is therefore
the imperative duty of the servant of Christ to faithfully warn God’s people
of the fearful danger of backsliding and of what awaits them if they remain
in that state: to definitely point out the connection which God has
established between sin and punishment, between apostasy and damnation,
so that a holy fear may be instilled to preserve them from making
shipwreck of the faith, and to prevent carnal professors from indulging the
vain hope of once in grace always in grace..145
8. By holding up the rewards. Many preachers have failed to do so,
allowing the fear of man to withhold from God’s children a portion of their
necessary bread. Because certain enemies of the Truth have wrested this
subject, they deemed it wisest to be silent thereon. Because Papists have
grievously perverted the teaching of Scripture upon “rewards,” insidiously
bringing in their lie of creature-merits at this point, not a few Protestants
have been chary of preaching thereon, lest they be charged with leaning
toward Romanism. Rather should this very abuse move them to be the
more diligent and zealous in presenting their right and true meaning and
use. Threatenings and rewards: does not the one naturally suggest the
other? The former to act as deterrents, the latter as stimulants: deterrents
against evil doing, stimulants or incentives unto the discharge of duty. But
if the one has been shelved in the pulpit, the other has received scant
attention even in orthodox quarters. We can but briefly touch upon the
subject here, but hope to devote a separate article to it in the next section.
In Scripture “eternal life” is presented both as a “gift” and as a “reward”—
the reward of perseverance. To some it may appear that such terms and
concepts are mutually opposed. Yet is not prayer both a privilege and a
duty? Is not the natural man startled when he finds that God bids His
people to “rejoice with trembling”—what a seeming paradox! The
apparent difficulty is removed when it is seen that the “rewards” which
God has promised His people are not those of justice but of bounty; that
they are not a proportioned remuneration or return for the duties which we
perform or the services we have rendered, but the end to which our
obedience is suited. Thus the rewards proposed unto us by God are not
calculated to work in His people a legal spirit but are designed to support
our hearts under the self-denials to which we are called, to cheer us amid
the sufferings we encounter for Christ’s sake, and to stir us to acts of
obedience meet for what is promised. Certainly Moses was inspired by no
mercenary spirit when
“he had respect unto the recompense of the reward”
(

Hebrews 11:26).
That eternal life and glory is set forth in God’s Word as the reward and end
of perseverance which await all faithful Christians is clear from

Hebrews 10:35, to cite no other passages now: “Cast not away
therefore your confidence which hath great recompense of reward.” On
those words Matthew Henry said, “He exhorts them not to cast away their.146
confidence, that is, their holy courage and boldness, but to hold fast the
profession for which they had suffered so much before, and borne those
sufferings so well. Second, he encourages them to this by assuring them
that the reward of their holy confidence is very great: it carries a present
reward in it, in holy peace and joy and much of God’s presence and power
visited upon them; and it shall have a great recompense of reward
hereafter.” While the Christian sincerely endeavors to walk obediently and
mix faith with God’s promises the Spirit comforts and witnesses with his
spirit that he is a child of God; but when he becomes careless of duty, and
neglects the means of grace, He not only withholds His witness but suffers
the threatenings of Scripture to so lay hold of him that

Psalm 38:2, 3
becomes his experiences.
9. By insisting on steadfastness.
“Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering”
(

Hebrews 10:23).
Press forward along the path of holiness, no matter what obstacles and
opposition you meet with. Your very safety depends upon it, for if you
deny the faith either by words or actions, you are “worse than an infidel”
who never professed it. The very fact that we are here bidden to “hold
fast” our Christian profession implies that it is no easy task assigned us,
that there are difficulties to be overcome which call for the putting forth of
our utmost strength and endeavors in the defense and furtherance of it.
“Without wavering” means, with unvarying and unflinching constancy. Sin
is ever seeking to vanquish the Christian; the world is ever endeavoring to
draw him back into its seductive embraces; the Devil, like a roaring lion, is
ever waiting to devour him. Therefore the call to him is “be ye steadfast,
immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord”— the duties He
has assigned (

1 Corinthians 15:58).
The need for pressing such exhortations as the above appears from the
solemn warning addressed to those whom the apostle calls “beloved” in

2 Peter 3:17:
“Beware lest ye also being led away with the error of the wicked,
fall from your own steadfastness.”
Upon this Matthew Henry says,.147
“We are in great danger of being seduced and turned away from the
Truth. Many who have the Scriptures and read them do not
understand what they read, and too many of those who have a right
understanding of the sense and meaning of the Word are not
established in the belief of the Truth, and all these are liable to fall
into error. Few attain to the knowledge and acknowledgement of
doctrinal Christianity; and fewer find so as to keep in the way of
practical godliness, which is the narrow way which only leadeth
unto life. There must be a great deal of self-denial and suspicion of
ourselves, and submitting to the authority of Christ Jesus our great
Prophet, before we can heartily receive all the truths of the Gospel,
and therefore we are in great danger of rejecting the Truth.”
Ministers of Christ, then, need to insist much upon the imperativeness of
steadfastness and constancy.
10. By withholding from backsliders the comfort of the truth of eternal
security. After all that has been said under the previous heads there is little
need for us to enlarge upon this point. Any preacher who encourages the
slothful and the undutiful is doing great harm to souls. To tell those who
have deserted the paths of righteousness that because they once believed in
Christ all will come out well with them in the end, is to put a premium on
their carnality. To assure those who have forsaken the means of grace and
gone back again into the world that because they formerly made a credible
profession God will recover and restore them, is to say what Scripture
nowhere warrants. A griping purgative and not rich and savory viands is
what is needed by one whose system is out of order. The Divine
threatenings and not the promises need to be pressed upon those who are
following the desires and devices of their own hearts. Only by heeding the
ten things mentioned in these sections is the precious truth of the eternal
security of the saints safeguarded from profanation..148
CHAPTER 9
ITS OPPOSITION
It has been shown at length in earlier sections that the concept of a total
and final apostasy of a regenerated soul is not according to Truth. To
postulate the eternal destruction of one to whom Divine grace has been
savingly communicated to the soul is contrary to the whole tenor of the
Covenant of redemption, to the attributes of God engaged in it, to the
design and work of the Redeemer in it, to the Spirit’s mission and His
abiding with God’s children “forever” (

John 14:16). One who is
indwelt by the Triune God shall not and cannot so fall from holiness and
serve sin as to give himself wholly to its behests (authoritative commands). One
who has been delivered from the power of darkness and translated into the
kingdom of God’s dear Son shall never again become the willing subject of
Satan. One who has been made the recipient of a supernatural experience
of the Truth shall never be fatally deceived by the Devil’s lies. True, his will
is mutable, but God’s promise is unchangeable; his own strength is feeble,
but God’s power is invincible, his prayers are weak, but Christ’s
intercession is prevalent.
Yet in all ages this doctrine of the final perseverance of the saints has been
opposed and denied. Satan himself believed in the apostasy of Job and had
the effrontery to avow it unto Jehovah (

Job 1:8-11). We need not be
surprised then to find that the supreme imposture of the religious realm
repudiates most vehemently this precious truth and pronounces accursed
all who hold it. The merit-mongers of Rome are inveterately opposed to
everything which exalts free grace. Moreover, they who so hotly deny
unconditional election, particular redemption, and effectual calling, must, in
order to be consistent, deny the eternal security of the Christian. Since
Papists are such rabid sticklers for the “free will” of fallen man, logically,
they must deny the indefectibility of all who are in Christ. If I have by an
act of my own volition brought myself into a state of grace, then it clearly
follows that I am capable of forsaking the same. If the “free will” of the
sinner first inclines him to exercise repentance and faith, then obviously he
may relapse into a state of confirmed impenitence and unbelief..149
But Rome has by no means stood alone in antagonizing this blessed article
of the Father. Others who differ widely from her in many other respects
have made common cause with her in this. Considerable sections of
“Protestantism,” whole denominations which claim to take the Word of
God for their sole Rule of faith and practice, have also strenuously and
bitterly fought against those who maintained this truth. These are what are
known as Arminians, for James Arminius or Van Harmin, a Dutchman of
the sixteenth century, was the first man of any prominence in orthodox
circles who opposed the theology taught by John Calvin—opposed it
covertly and slyly and contrary to the most solemn and particular promise
and pledge which he gave to the Classis (church governing bodies) before
he was installed as professor of divinity at Leyden in 1602. Since then, for
the purpose of theological classification, non-Calvinists and and-Calvinists
have been termed “Arminians.” The one man who did more than any other
to popularize and spread Arminianism in the English-speaking world was
John Wesley.
We shall now make it our business to examine the attacks which Arminians
have made upon this truth of the final perseverance of the saints and the
leading arguments they employ to prejudice and overturn it. But let us say
at the outset, it is not because we entertain any hope of delivering such
people from their errors that we are now writing, still less that we are
prepared to enter the lists against them. No, it is useless to argue with
those whose hearts are set against the Truth: convince a man against his
will and he is of the same opinion still. Moreover God’s eternal Truth is
infinitely too sacred to be made the matter of carnal debate and wrangling.
Rather is it our design to help those of God’s people who have been
harassed by the dogs who yapped at their heels and show that their bark is
worse than their bite. We write now with the object of delivering the
“babes” from being “corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ”
(

2 Corinthians 11:3).
1. By misrepresenting and misstating the truth for which we contend. It is a
favorite device of Arminians to set up a “man of straw” and because he is
incapable of withstanding their assaults, pretend they have overthrown the
Calvinistic tenet itself. To caricature a doctrine and then hold up that
caricature to ridicule, to falsify a doctrine and then denounce that
falsification as a thing of evil, is tantamount to acknowledging that they are
unable to overthrow the doctrine as it is held and presented by its friends.
Yet this is the very practice of which Arminian dialecticians are guilty..150
They select a single part of our doctrine and then take it up as though it
were the whole. They sever the means from the end and claim we teach
that the end will be reached irrespective of the means. They ignore the
safeguards by which God has hedged around this part of His Truth, and
which His true servants have ever maintained, and then affirm that such a
doctrine is injurious, dangerous, inimical to the promotion of practical
godliness. In plain language, they seek to terrify the simple by a bogey of
their own manufacture.
That we have not brought an unjust and unfair charge against Arminians
will appear from the following citation. “The common doctrine that
perseverance requireth and commandeth all saints or believers to be fully
persuaded, and this with the greatest and most indubitable certainty of
faith, that there is an absolute and utter impossibility either of a total or a
final defection of their faith: that though they shall fall into ten thousand
enormities and most abominable sins and lie wallowing in them like a swine
in the mire, yet they should remain all the while in an estate of grace, and
that God will by a strong hand of irresistible grace bring them off from
their sins by repentance before they die.” Those were the words of one of
the most influential of English Arminians in the palmy days of the Puritans,
issuing from the pen of one, John Goodwin, a nephew of the pious and
eminent expositor, Thos. Goodwin. In the light of what we have written in
previous sections of this series few of our readers should have much
difficulty in perceiving the sophistry of this miserable shift.
No well-instructed scribe of Christ ever set forth the doctrine of the saints
perseverance in any such distorted manner and extravagant terms as the
above, yet such is a fair sample of the devices employed by Arminians
when engaged in assailing this truth: they detach a single element of it and
then render repugnant their one-sided misrepresentation of the whole. The
perseverance which we contend for, and which the operations of Divine
grace effectually provide for and secure, is a perseverance of faith and
holiness,—a continuing steadfast in believing and in bringing forth all the
fruits of righteousness. Whereas as any one can see at a glance, the travesty
presented in the above quotation is a preservation in spite of and in the
midst of perseverance in abominable sins and lie wallowing in them like a
swine in the mire (i.e. quite at home in such filth and content therewith),
and yet they shall remain all the while in an estate of grace” is a palpable
contradiction of terms, for an “estate of grace” is one of subjection and
obedience to God..151
Again, Goodwin makes out the Calvinist to say in God’s name, “You that
truly believe in My Son, and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit,
and therefore are fully persuaded and assured from My will and command
given unto you in that behalf, yea, according to the infallible Word of Truth
you have from Me, that you cannot possibly, no, not by the most horrid
sins and abominable practices, that you shall or can commit, fall away
either totally or finally from your faith; for in the midst of your foulest
actings and courses, there remains a seed in you which is sufficient to make
you true believers, and to preserve you from falling away finally, that it is
impossible you should die in your sins; you that know and are assured that
I will by an irresistible hand work perseverance in you, and consequently
that you are out of all danger of condemnation, and that heaven and
salvation belong unto you, and are as good as yours already, so that
nothing but giving of thanks appertains to you.”
The incongruity of such a fiction should at once be apparent. First, all true
saints do not have a firm and comfortable assurance of their perseverance:
many of them are frequently beset by doubts and fears. Second, it is by
means of God’s promises and precepts, exhortations and threatenings, that
they are stirred up to the use of those things by which perseverance is
wrought and assurance is obtained. Third, no rightly-taught saint ever
expected his perseverance or the least assurance of it under such a foul
supposition as falling into and continuing in horrid sins and abominable
practices.” Fourth, the promises of eternal security are made to those in
whose mind God writes His laws and in whose hearts He places His holy
fear, so that they shall not depart from Him: they are made to those who
“hear” the voice of the good Shepherd and who “follow” the example He
has left them. Fifth, so far from “nothing but giving of thanks”
appertaining to them, they are bidden to work out their own salvation with
fear and trembling, to run with patience the race set before them, to make
their calling and election sure by adding to their graces and bringing forth
the fruits of righteousness.
Let us say once more, and it cannot be insisted upon too frequently and
emphatically in this degenerate age, that the perseverance of saints which is
depicted in Holy Writ is not a simple continuance of Christians on this
earth for a number of years after regeneration and faith have been wrought
in them, and then their being admitted as a matter of course to Heaven,
without any regard to their moral history in the intervening period. No,
though that may be how incompetent novices have portrayed it, and how.152
Antinomians have perverted it, yet such a concept is as far removed from
the reality as darkness is from light. The perseverance of the saints is a
steady pressing forward in the course on which they entered at
conversion—an enduring unto the end in the exercise of faith and in the
practice of holiness. The perseverance of the saints consists in a continuing
to deny self, to mortify the lusts of the flesh, to resist the Devil, to fight the
good fight of faith; and though they suffer many falls by the way, and
receive numerous wounds from their foes, yet, if “faint,” they “hold on
their way.”
2. By insisting that this doctrine encourages loose living. We have heard
numbers of Arminians declare “If I were absolutely sure that Heaven would
be my everlasting portion; then I would drop all religion and take my fill of
the world,” to which we replied, Perhaps you would, but the regenerate
feel quite different: they find their delight in One who is infinitely preferable
to all that can be found in this perishing world. Yet Arminians never tire of
saying that this article of the non-apostasy of the saints is a vicious and
dangerous one, affording great encouragement unto those who believe
themselves to be Christians to indulge themselves in iniquities, such as Lot,
David, Solomon and Peter committed. It is granted that those who commit
such sins and die without repentance for them and faith in the blood of the
Lamb have no inheritance in the kingdom of God and Christ. It is also a
fact that God visited the transgressions of those men with His rod and
recovered them from their falls. Nor are such instances recorded in the
Word to encourage us in sin, but rather to caution us against and make us
distrustful of ourselves.
Such a gross view as is propounded in the above objection loses sight
entirely of the nature of regeneration, tacitly denying that the new birth is a
miracle of grace, effecting a radical change within, renewing the faculties
of the soul, giving an entirely different bent to a person’s inclinations. To
talk of a child of God falling in love again with sin is tantamount to
suggesting that there is no real difference between one who has passed
from death unto life, who has had the principle of holiness communicated
to him, who is indwelt by the Spirit of God, and those who are
unregenerate. That one who has been merely intellectually impressed and
emotionally stirred to temporarily reform his outward conduct may indeed
return to his former manner of life, is readily conceded; but that one who
has experienced a supernatural work of grace within, who has been made
“a new creature in Christ Jesus,” can or will lose all relish for spiritual.153
things and become satisfied with the husks which the swine feed on, we
emphatically deny.
3. By asserting our doctrine deprives God’s people of the sharpest bit
which He has given for curtailing the flesh in them. It is affirmed by many
Arminians that the most effectual means for restraining their evil
inclinations, alike in the regenerate and the unregenerate, is the fear of the
everlasting burnings, and from this premise they draw the conclusion that
when a person is definitely assured he has been once and for all delivered
from the wrath to come, the strongest deterrent against carnality and
lasciviousness has been taken from him. There would be considerable force
in this objection if God had not communicated to His children that which
operates in them more mightily and effectually than the dread of
punishment, and since He has, then the argument has little point or weight
to it. Whatever influence the fear of Hell exerts in curtailing the lusts of the
flesh, certain it is that the righteous are withheld from a life of sin by far
more potent considerations. Faith purifieth the heart (

Acts 15:9), faith
overcometh the world (

1 John 5:4), but Scripture nowhere ascribes
such virtues to a dread of the Lake of fire. An unruly horse needs to be
held in by a bridle, but one that is well broken in is better managed by a
gentler hand than a biting bit.
The case of the saint would certainly be a perilous one if there was no
stronger restraint upon his lusts than the fear of Hell: how far does such
fear restrain the ungodly! As the nature of a cause determines the nature of
its effects, and as a man’s conduct will be determined by the most powerful
principle governing him, so a slavish fear can produce only slavish
observance, and surely God requires something better than that from His
people. Such service as the fear of Hell produces will be weak and
wavering, for nothing more unsettles the mind and enervates the soul than
alarms and horrors. Nabal’s heart “died within” him for fear (

1 Samuel
25:37), and the soldiers that kept the sepulcher “became as dead men” for
fear (

Matthew 28:4): thus any obedience from thence can only be a
dead obedience. Moreover, it will be fickle and fleeting at the best:
Pharaoh relaxed his persecution of the Hebrews when no longer tormented
by God’s plagues, and even gave them permission to leave Egypt; but soon
after he repented of his leniency, chiding himself for it, and pursued them
with murder in his heart (

Exodus 14:5). Those hypocrites whom
“fearfulness” surprised, remained hypocrites still (

Isaiah 33:14)..154
It is true that believers are bidden to
“fear Him which is able to destroy both body and soul in Hell”
(

Matthew 10:28),
yet it should be pointed out that there is a vast difference between fearing
God and dreading eternal punishment: in the parallel and fuller passage
Christ added, “yea, I say unto you, fear Him” (

Luke 12:5)—not fear
Hell! One of the covenant promises which God has made concerning His
elect is,
“I will put My fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from
Me” (

Jeremiah 32:40),
and that is a filial fear, a respect for His authority, an awesome veneration
of His majesty; whereas the fear of the unregenerate is a servile, anxious
and tormenting one. The holy fear of the righteous causes them to be
vigilant and watchful against those ways which lead to destruction, but the
fear of the wicked is occupied only with the destruction itself: the one is
concerned about the evils which occasion God’s wrath, the other is
confined to the effects of His wrath. But the exercise of faith and the
operations of filial fear are not the only principles which regulate the saint:
the love of Christ constrains him, gratitude unto God for His wondrous
grace has a powerful effect upon his conduct.
4. By declaring it neutralizes the force of exhortations. The argument used
by Arminians on this point may be fairly stated thus: if it be absolutely
certain that all regenerated souls will reach Heaven then there can be no
real need to bid them tread the path that leads thither, that in such case it is
meaningless to urge them to run with patience the race set before them; but
since God has uttered such calls to His people, then it follows that their
final perseverance is by no means sure, the less so seeing that failure to
heed those calls is threatened with eternal death. It is insisted upon that
exhortations to effort, watchfulness, diligence etc., clearly imply the
contingency of the believer’s salvation, that all such calls to the discharge
of these duties signify that security is conditional upon his own fidelity,
upon the response which he makes unto these demands of God upon him.
It should be a sufficient reply to point out that if this objection were really
valid then no Christian could have any firm persuasion of his everlasting
bliss so long as he was left upon earth: hence the inference drawn by
Arminians from the exhortations must be an erroneous one..155
What strange logic is this: because I am persuaded that God loves me with
an unchanging and unquenchable love therefore I feel free to trample upon
His revealed will, and have no concern whether my conduct pleases or
displeases Him. Because I am assured that Christ, at the cost of
unparalleled shame and suffering, purchased for me eternal redemption, an
inalienable inheritance, therefore I am encouraged to forsake instead of to
follow Him, vilify rather than glorify Him. That might be the theology of
devils, and those they possess, but it would be repudiated and abhorred by
any one renewed by the Holy Spirit. How preposterous to argue that
because a person believes he shall persevere to the end, that he will
therefore despise and neglect everything that promotes such perseverance.
Such an argument as the above is tantamount to saying that because God
has regenerated a soul He now requires no obedience from him, whereas
one of the chief ends for which he is renewed is to capacitate him for
obedience, that he may be conformed to the image of His son.
So far from the absolute promises of God concerning the everlasting safety
of His people weakening the force of motives to righteousness, they are the
very means made use of by the Spirit to stir up the saints, and to encourage
them in the practice of righteousness and engage them in the continuance
thereof. Most certainly the apostles perceived no inconsistency or
incongruity between the Divine promises and the precepts. They did not
judge it meaningless to argue from such blessed assurances to the
performance of the duties of holiness. One of them said
“Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse
ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting
holiness in the fear of God” (

2 Corinthians 7:1).
Those promises were,
“I will dwell in them and walk in them, and I will be their God and
they shall be My people: I will be a Father unto you and ye shall be
My sons and daughters”(

6:16, 18),
and on them he based his exhortation. After saying, ye “are kept by the
power of God through faith unto salvation” another apostle proceeded to
urge,
“Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober and hope to
the end… And if ye call on the Father… pass the time of your
sojourning here in fear” (

1 Peter 1:5, 13, 17).156
—apparently it never occurred to him that such exhortations had been
neutralized or even weakened by the doctrine before advanced.
5. By appealing to cases and examples which, though plausible, are quite
inconclusive. In order to prove their contention that a real child of God
may so backslide as to lose all relish for spiritual things, renounce his
profession and die an infidel, Arminians are fond of referring to alleged
illustrations of this very thing. They will point to certain men and women
who have come before their own observation, people who were genuinely
and deeply convicted of sin, who earnestly sought relief from a burdened
conscience, who eventually believed the Gospel, put their faith in the
atoning blood of Christ and found rest unto their souls. They will tell of the
bright profession made by these people, of the peace and joy which was
theirs, of the radical change made in their lives, and how they united with
the church, had blessed fellowship with the saints, lifted up their voices in
praise and petition at the prayer meetings, were diligent in speaking to their
companions of their eternal welfare, how they walked in the paths of
righteousness and caused the saints to thank God for such transformed
lives. But alas these bright meteors in the religious firmament soon faded
out.
It is at this point that the Arminian seeks to make capital out of such cases.
He tells of how, perhaps in a few months, the religious ardor of these
“converts” cooled off. He relates how the temptations of the world and
lusts of the flesh proved too strong for them, and how like dogs they
returned to their vomit. The Arminian then alleges that such cases are
actual examples of men and women who have “fallen from grace,” who
have apostatized from the faith, and by appealing to such he imagines he
has succeeded in overthrowing the doctrine of the final perseverance of the
saints. In reality, he has done nothing of the sort. He has merely shown
how easily Christians may be mistaken, and thus pointed a warning for us
not to be too ready to indulge in wishful thinking and imagining all is gold
which glitters. Scripture plainly warns us there is a class whose
“goodness is as a morning cloud and as the early dew it goeth
away” (

Hosea 6:4).
Christ has told us of those who received the Word with joy, yet had not
root in themselves (

Matthew 13:20,21). The foolish virgins carried the
lamp of their profession, but they had no oil in their vessels. One may come
“near” to the kingdom yet never enter it (

Mark 12:34)..157
In order to make good his objection the Arminian must do something more
than point to those who made a credible profession and afterwards falsified
and renounced it: he must prove that a person who is truly regenerated,
born from above, made a new creature in Christ, then apostatized and died
an apostate. This he cannot possibly do, for none such ever existed or ever
will. The fact is that while there are many who, in varying degrees, adopt
the Christian religion, there are very few indeed who are ever born of the
Spirit, and the only way in which we may identify the latter is by their
continuance in holiness. He who does not persevere to the end was never
begotten by God. Nor is that statement a begging of the question at issue:
it is insisting upon the teaching of Holy Writ.
“The righteous also shall hold on his way” (

Job 17:9):
observe that it is not “he ought to” nor merely that “he may do so,” but a
positive and unqualified “shall.” Therefore any one who fails to “hold on
his way,” be he a religious enthusiast, a professing Christian, or zealous
church-member, was never “righteous” in the sight of God.
We will labor this point a little further because it is probably the one which
has presented more difficulty to our readers than any other. Yet it should
not, for when resolved by the Word all is clear as a sunbeam.
“I know that whatsoever God doeth, it shall be forever: nothing can
be put to it nor anything taken from it: and God doeth it, that men
should fear before Him” (

Ecclesiastes 3:14).
This is one of the distinctive marks of the Divine handiwork: its
indestructibility, its permanency, and therefore it is by this mark we must
test both ourselves and our fellows. “The orthodox doctrine does not
affirm the certainty of salvation because we once believed, but certainty of
perseverance in holiness if we have truly believed, which perseverance in
holiness, therefore, in opposition to all weaknesses and temptations, is the
only sure evidence of the genuineness of past experience or of the validity
of our confidence as to our future salvation” (A. A. Hodge).
“Whosoever liveth and believeth in Me shall never die”
(

John 11:26)
said Christ, for the life that He gives is an “eternal” one, which the Devil
himself cannot destroy (see

Job 2:6!). Thus, unless we acknowledge.158
our mistake in concluding the apostates were once regenerate, we give the
lie to the Word of God.
6. By asserting that this doctrine makes all warnings and threatenings
pointless. Arminians argue that if the believer be eternally secure in Christ
he cannot be in any peril, and that to caution him against danger is a
meaningless performance. First, let it be said that we have no quarrel with
those who insist that most solemn warnings and awful threatenings are
addressed immediately to the children of God, nor have we the least accord
with those who seek to blunt the point of those warnings and explain away
those threatenings: so far from it, in a previous chapter of this book we
have shown that God Himself has safeguarded the truth of the final
perseverance of His people by these very measures, and have insisted there
are very real dangers they must guard against and genuine threatenings
they are required to heed. So long as the Christian is left in this world he is
beset by deadly dangers, both from within and from without, and it would
be the part of madness to ignore and trifle with them. It is faith’s
recognition of the same which causes him to cry out
“Hold Thou me up, and I shall be safe”(

Psalm 119:117).
Yet what we have just admitted above in no way concedes that there is any
conflict between the promises and warnings of God: that the one assures of
preservation while the other forecasts destruction. For what is it that God
has promised unto His people? This: that they “shall not depart from
Him” (

Jeremiah 32:40), that they shall “hold on their way” (

Job
17:9), and that to this end He will “work in them both to will and to do of
His good pleasure” (

Philippians 2:13), granting unto them all-sufficient
grace (

2 Corinthians 12:9), and supplying all their need
(

Philippians 4:19). In perfect accord with these promises are the
warnings and threatenings addressed to them, by which God has made
known the inseparable connection there is, by His appointment, between a
course of evil and the punishment attending the same. Those very
threatenings are used by the Spirit to produce in Christians a holy
circumspection and caution, so that they are made the means of preventing
their apostasy. Those warnings have their proper use, and efficacy in
respect of the saints, for they cause them to take heed to their ways, avoid
the snares laid for them, and serve to establish their souls in the practice of
obedience..159
Whether or not we can perceive the consistency between the assurances
God has made His people and the grounds He has given them to tremble at
His Word, between the comforting promises and the stirring exhortations,
between the witnesses to their safety and the warnings of their danger,
certain it is that Scripture abounds with the one as much as with the other.
If on the one hand the Christian is warranted in being fully persuaded that
“neither principalities nor powers” shall be able to separate him from the
love of God in Christ Jesus, and that God shall tread Satan under his feet
shortly (

Romans 8:38, 39; 16:20): on the other hand, he is bidden to
“put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand
against the wiles of the Devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and
blood, but against principalities and powers”
(

Ephesians 6:12,13),
and
“Be sober, be vigilant, because your adversary the Devil, as a
roaring lion, walketh about seeking whom he may devour
(

1 Peter 5:8).
Yet though the believer is warned “Let him that thinketh he standeth take
heed lest he fall,” it is immediately followed by the declaration
“but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above
that ye are able” (

1 Corinthians 10:13, 14).
Then let us beware of being wise in our own conceit and charging the
Almighty with folly.
Because the enemies of the Christian are inveterate, subtle, and powerful,
and the exercise of his graces inconstant, it is salutary that he should live
under a continual remembrance of his weakness, fickleness and danger. He
needs to be ever watchful and prayerful lest he enter into temptation,
recalling what befell the self-confident Peter. Because indwelling
corruption remains a part of himself, while he is left in this scene, it
behooves him to keep his heart with all diligence, for he who trusteth in his
own heart is a fool (

Proverbs 27:26), unmindful of his best interests.
We are only preserved from presumption while a real sense of our own
insufficiency is retained. The consciousness of indwelling sin should cause
every child of God to bend the suppliant knee with the utmost frequency,
humility and fervor. Let not the Christian mistake the field of battle for a.160
bed of rest. Let him not indulge in a slothful profession or carnal delights,
while his implacable foes, the flesh, the world, and the devil are ever
seeking to encompass his ruin. Let him heed the warnings of a faithful God
and he will prove Him to be an unerring Guide and invincible Guard.
7. By drawing a false inference from the Divine righteousness. Arminians
are fond of quoting that “God is no respecter of persons,” from which they
argue that His justice requires Him to apportion the same retribution unto
sinning Christians as He does unto non-Christians who transgress; and
since our doctrine gives no place to the eternal punishment of a saint, it is
said we charge God with partiality and injustice. That the Lord
“is righteous in all His ways and holy in all His works”
(

Psalm 145:17)
is contended for as earnestly for by us as by our opponents; but what the
Arminian denies is maintained by the Calvinist, and that is, the absolute
sovereignty of God. That the Most High is obliged to apportion equal
punishment to equal faults and equal rewards to equal deservings, cannot
be allowed for a moment. Being above all law, the Framer and not the
subject of it, God’s will is supreme, and He doeth whatsoever pleaseth
Him. If God bestows free grace and pardoning mercy to those in Christ and
withholds it from those out of Christ, who shall say unto Him, What doest
Thou? Has He not the right to do what He chooses with His own: to give a
penny to him who labors all day and the same to him that works but one
hour (

Matthew 20:12-15)!
To argue that because God is no respecter of persons that therefore He
must deal with Christians and non-Christians alike is to ignore the special
case of the former. They sustain a nearer relation to Him than do the latter.
Shall a parent treat a refractory child as he would an insubordinate
employee—he would dismiss the one from his service, must he turn the
other out of his home? The Scriptures teach that God the Father is tender
to His own dear children, recovering them from their sins and healing their
backslidings, while He suffers aliens to lie wallowing in their rebellions and
pollutions all their lives. Furthermore a Surety stood for them and endured
in their stead the utmost rigor of the Law’s sentence, so that God is
perfectly righteous in remitting their sins. Nevertheless, so that they may
know He does not look lightly upon their disobedience, He.161
“visits their transgressions with the rod and their iniquity with
stripes” (

Psalm 89:32).
Finally, they are brought to sincere repentance, confession, and forsaking
of their sins, and thereby they obtain the relief provided for them, which is
never the case with the children of the Devil.
8. By alleging our doctrine makes its believers proud and presumptuous.
That the carnal may wrest this doctrine, like other portions of the Truth, to
their own destruction, is freely admitted (

2 Peter 3:16); but that any
article of the Faith which God has delivered unto His saints has the least
tendency unto evil, we indignantly deny. In reality, the doctrine of the
saints’ perseverance in holiness, in humble dependence upon God for
supplies of grace, lays the axe at the very root of the proud and
presumptuous conceits of men, for it casts down their high thoughts and
towering imaginations concerning their own native ability to believe the
Gospel, obey its precepts, and continue in the faith and practice thereof.
We rest wholly on the goodness and faithfulness of God, the merits of
Christ’s blood and the efficacy of His intercession, the power and
operations of the Spirit, having “no confidence in the flesh”
(

Philippians 3:3). Only the Day to come will reveal how many who
“trusted in themselves” and were persuaded of their inherent power to turn
unto God and keep His commandments, were thereby hardened and
hastened to their eternal ruin.
Let any candid reader ponder the following question. Which is the more
likely to promote pride and presumption: extolling the virtues and
sufficiency of man’s “freewill,” or emphasizing our utter dependence upon
God’s free grace? Which is more apt to foster self-confidence and self-righteousness:
the Arminian tenet that fallen man has the power within
himself to turn unto God when he chooses and do those things which are
pleasing in His sight, or the Calvinist’s insistence upon the declarations of
Scripture that even the Christian has no strength of his own, that apart
from Christ he can “do nothing” (

John 15:5), that we are “not
sufficient of ourselves” to so much as “think anything as of ourselves”
(

2 Corinthians 3:5), that “all our springs” are in God (

Psalm
87:7), and that because of our felt weakness and acknowledged
helplessness, God graciously keeps our feet and preserves us from
destruction? It is just because our doctrine is so flesh-abasing and pride-mortifying
that it is so bitterly detested and decried by the pharisees..162
9. By pretending our doctrine renders the use of means superfluous. If
Christians are secure in the hand of God and He empowers them by His
Spirit, why should they put forth their energies to preserve themselves? But
such reasoning leaves out of account that, throughout, God deals with His
people as moral agents and accountable creatures. Rightly did Calvin point
out, “He who has fixed the limits of our life, has also entrusted us with the
care of it; has furnished us with means and supplies for its preservation; has
also made us provident of dangers, and, that they may not oppress us
unawares, has furnished us with cautions and remedies. Thus it is evident
what is our duty.” Grace is not given to render our efforts needless but to
make them effectual. To say that assurance of final salvation cuts the nerve
of enterprise is contrary to all experience: who will work the harder, the
man without hope or even a half-expectation, or one who is sure that
success will crown his labors.
10. By arguing that our doctrine makes “rewards” meaningless. If it be
God who preserves us, then there is no room left for the recognition of our
fidelity or owning of our efforts. If there be no possibility of the saint
falling away finally, then is his perseverance incapable of reward by God.
Answer: Heaven is not something which the Christian earns by his
obedience or merits by his fidelity, nevertheless, everlasting felicity is held
before him as a gracious encouragement, as the goal of his obedience. Let
it be recognized that the reward is not a legal one but rather one of bounty,
in accord with the tenor of the Covenant of Grace, and all difficulty should
vanish. Let this point be decided in the light of our Surety’s experience:
was it not impossible that Christ should fail of His obedience? yet did not
God reward Him (

Philippians 2:10, 11)! So, in our tiny measure,
because of the “joy set before us” we despise our cross and endure
suffering for Christ’s sake.
And now a word by way of application. Since this article of Faith be so
much criticized and condemned as a thing fraught with evil tendencies, let
the Christian make it his studied business that his conduct gives the lie to
the Arminians’ objections. Let him make it his constant concern to
“adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in all things”
(

Titus 2:10)
by taking heed to his ways, giving no license to the flesh, attending to the
Divine warnings, and rendering glad and full response to His exhortations.
Let him show forth by his daily life that this preservation is a continuance.163
in faith, in obedience, in holiness. Let him see to it that he evidences the
reality of his profession and the spirituality of his creed by growing in grace
and bringing forth the fruits of righteousness. Let him earnestly endeavor
to keep himself in the love of God, and to that end avoid everything
calculated to chill the same, and thereby he will most effectually
“put to silence the ignorance of foolish men” (

1 Peter 2:15).
In the above discussion we sought to show how pointless is the reasoning
of Arminians in the opposition which they make to this blessed article of
the Faith: but now in that which follows we shall seek to demonstrate that
their use of Scripture is equally unhappy. If the charges they bring against
this doctrine be baseless, if the inferences they draw and the conclusions
they make upon it are wide of the mark, certainly their interpretations and
applications of Holy Writ concerning this subject are quite erroneous.
Nevertheless they do appeal directly to God’s Word and attempt to prove
from its contents that one and another of the saints renounced the Faith,
went right back again into the world, and died in their sins; that certain
specific cases of such are there set before us of men who not only suffered
a grievous fall by the way or entered into a backslidden state, but who
totally, finally and irremediably apostatized. In addition to these specific
examples, they quote various passages which they contend teach the same
fearful thing. It is therefore incumbent upon us to examine attentively the
cases they point to and weigh carefully the passages they cite.
Before entering immediately into this task, however, one or two general
remarks need to be made that the issue between Calvinists and Arminians
may be the more clearly drawn. First, it must be laid down as a broad
principle that God’s Word cannot contradict itself. It is human to err and
the wisest of mortals is incapable of producing that which is without flaw,
but it is quite otherwise with the Word of Truth. The Scriptures are not of
human origin, but Divine, and though holy men were used in the penning of
them, yet so completely were they controlled and moved by the Holy Spirit
in their work that there is neither error nor blemish in the Sacred Volume.
That affirmation concerns, of course, the original manuscripts: nevertheless
we have such confidence in the superintending providence of God, we are
fully assured He has guarded His own holy Word with such jealous care,
that He has so ordered the translation of the Hebrew and Greek into our
mother tongue that all false doctrine has been excluded. Since then the
Scriptures are Divinely inspired they cannot teach in one place it is.164
impossible that the child of God should be eternally lost, and in another
place that he may be, and in yet another that some have been so.
Second, it has been shown at length in previous sections that God’s Word
clearly teaches the final perseverance of His saints, and that, not in one or
two vague and uncertain verses but in the most positive and unequivocal
language of many passages. It has been shown that the eternal security of
the Christian rests upon a foundation that “standeth sure,” which Satan and
his emissaries cannot even shake; that his everlasting felicity depends,
ultimately upon nothing in or from himself, but is infallibly secured by the
invincibility of the Father’s purpose, the immutability of His love, and the
certainty of His covenant faithfulness; that it is infallibly secured by the
Surety engagements of Christ, by the sufficiency of His atonement, and by
the prevalency of His unceasing intercession; that it is infallibly secured by
the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit, by His abiding indwelling, and by
the efficacy of His keeping power. The very honor, veracity, and glory of
the Triune Jehovah is engaged, yea, pledged in this matter. In order “more
abundantly to show unto the heirs of promise the immutability of His
counsel” the Most High has gone so far as to “confirm it by an oath”
(

Hebrews 6:17). Thus, the indefectibility of the Church is made
infallibly certain, and no “special pleading” of men, however subtle and
plausible, can have the slightest weight in the balance against it.
Third, in view of what has been pointed out in the last paragraph it should
be patent to all honest and impartial minds that the cases cited by
Arminians as examples of children of God apostatizing and perishing must
be susceptible of being diagnosed quite differently, and that the Scriptures
they appeal to in support of their contention must be capable of being
interpreted in full harmony with those which clearly affirm the opposite. It
is a basic principle of exegesis that no plain passage of the Word is to be
neutralized by one whose meaning appears to be doubtful or ambiguous,
that no explicit promise is to be set aside by a parable the significance of
which is not readily determined, that no doctrinal declaration is to be
nullified by the arbitrary interpretation of a figure or type. That which is
uncertain must yield to what is simple and obvious, that which is open to
argument must be subordinated to what is beyond any debate. True, the
Calvinist must not resort to any subterfuges to avoid a difficulty, nor wrest
a passage adduced by his opponents so as to make it teach what he wants.
If he be unable to explain a verse he must honestly admit it, for no single
man has all the light; nevertheless, we must believe there is an explanation,.165
and that, in full accord with the Analogy of Faith, we must humbly wait
upon God for further light.
Fourth, in order to disprove the doctrine of the final perseverance of the
saints the Arminian is bound to do two things: produce the case of one
who was truly born again, and then demonstrate that this person actually
died in a state of apostasy, for unless he can do both his example is not to
the point. It is not sufficient for him to bring forward one who made a
credible profession and then repudiated it, for Scripture itself shows
emphatically that such a person was never regenerate: the man who
“dureth for a while” only, and then in a season of temptation or persecution
is “offended” and falls away, is described by Christ as one “who hath not
root in himself” (

Matthew 13:21) – had the “root of the matter”
(

Job 19:28) been in him he had survived the testing. To the same effect
the apostle declares of such
“they went out from us, but they were not of us; if they had been of
us, they would have continued with us”(

1 John 2:19).
Nor is it sufficient for the Arminian to point to genuine children of God
who backslide or meet with a grievous fall: such was the experience of
both David and Peter; yet so far from being abandoned of God and
suffered to die in that state, each was graciously brought to repentance and
restored to communion with the Lord. Let us now look at the examples
advanced.
1. The case of Adam. Here is one who was the immediate workmanship of
God’s own hands, created in His image and likeness, “blessed” by the
Lord and pronounced “very good” (

Genesis 1:28, 31). Here is one
who had no sinful heredity behind him and no corruption within him,
instated in the Divine favor, placed in a garden of delights and given
dominion over all terrestrial creatures. Yet he abode not in that fair estate,
but fell from grace, disobeyed his Maker, and brought upon himself
spiritual death. When he heard the voice of the Lord God, instead of
fleeing to Him for mercy, he hid himself; when arraigned before Him,
instead of penitently confessing his sin he sought to brazen it out, seeking
to throw the blame upon Eve and casting the onus upon God for giving her
to him. In the sequel his awful doom is plainly intimated, for the Lord God
“drove out the man” from Eden and barred his way back to “the tree of
life” by stationing around it “cherubim and a flaming sword”
(

Genesis 3:24). Now, say our opponents, what could be more to the.166
point! Adam certainly had “the root of the matter” within him, and it is
equally certain that he apostatized and perished. If sinless Adam fell then
obviously a Christian who still has sin indwelling him may fall and be lost.
How, then, is the fatal fall of Adam to be explained consistently with the
doctrine of the final perseverance of the saints? By calling attention to the
immeasurable difference there was between him and them. What does the
case of Adam make manifest? This: the defectibility of man when placed in
the most favorable and advantageous circumstances. This: that
creaturehood and mutability are correlative terms: “man being in honor
abideth not” (

Psalm 49:12). This: that if the creature is to be kept
from committing spiritual suicide a power outside of himself must preserve
him. The case of Adam supplies the dark background which brings out
more vividly the riches of Divine grace which it is the glory of the Gospel
to exhibit. In other words, it serves to demonstrate beyond any
peradventure of a doubt the imperative necessity of Christ if the creature—
be he fallen or unfallen—is to be saved from himself. There is the
fundamental, tremendous, vital difference between the case of Adam and
that of the Christian: he was never in Christ, whereas they are; he was
never redeemed by blood of infinite worth, they have been; there was none
to intercede for him before God, there is for them.
“Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is
natural; and afterward that which is spiritual”
(

1 Corinthians 15:46).
Though the immediate application of these words be unto the bodies of
believers, yet they enunciate a general and basic principle in the ways of
God with men, in the manifestation of His purpose concerning them. Adam
appears on the earth before Christ: Cain was given to Eve before Abel;
Ishmael was born before Isaac and Esau before Jacob: the elect are born
naturally before they are born again supernaturally. In like manner, the
Covenant of Works took precedence over the Covenant of Grace, so far as
its revelation was concerned. Thus Adam was endowed with a natural
power, namely, that of his own free will, but the Christian is endowed with
a spiritual and supernatural power, even God’s working in him “both to
will and to do of His own good pleasure.” Adam was given no promise of
Divine preservation, but the saints are. Adam stood before God in
dependence upon his own creature righteousness, and when that was lost,
all the blessings and virtues arising from it were lost; whereas the believer’s.167
righteousness is in Christ: “in the Lord have I righteousness and strength”
(

Isaiah 45:24) is his joyous confession, and since his righteousness is in
Christ it is an unassailable and non-forfeitable one.
Adam was placed under a covenant of works: do this and thou shalt live,
fail to do and thou must die. It was a covenant of strict justice, unmixed
with mercy, no provision being made for any failure. The grace or strength
or power with which Adam was endowed, was entrusted to himself and his
own keeping. But with His saints God has made a “better covenant”
(

Hebrews 8:6), of which Jesus is the “Surety” (

Hebrews 7:22) and
in Him are treasured up inexhaustible supplies of grace for them to draw
upon. This “better covenant” is one in which justice and mercy
harmoniously blend together, wherein “grace reigns through
righteousness.” In this “better covenant” God has promised to keep the
feet of His saints, to put His fear in them so that they “shall not depart
from” Him (

Jeremiah 32:40). In this covenant God has made provision
for our failures, so that
“if we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins
and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (

1 John 1:9).
Thus our state by redemption and regeneration is far, far better than was
that of our first parents by creation, for we are given what unfallen Adam
had not, namely, confirmation of our wills in holiness—though not every
act is such—For He
“works in us that which is well pleasing in His sight through Jesus
Christ” (

Hebrews 13:21),
which He never did in Adam. We may add that most of what has been said
above applies to the case of the angels who fell.
2. The case of king Saul. It is affirmed by Arminians that this king of Israel
was a regenerate man. In support of this contention they appeal to a
number of things recorded about him. First, that the prophet Samuel
“took a vial of oil and poured it upon his head and kissed him”
(

1 Samuel 10:1).
Second, because it is said that “God gave him another heart” (v. 9).
Third, because we are told “the Spirit of God came upon him and he
prophesied” (v. 11). Then it is pointed out that Saul acted in fearful.168
presumption and disobedience (

1 Samuel 13:9, 13), thereby displeasing
the Lord so that it was announced the kingdom should be taken from him
(vv. 13, 14). That because of God’s displeasure
“the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul and an evil spirit from
the Lord troubled him” (

16:14).
That later, when menaced by the Philistines, he “enquired of the Lord” but
“the Lord answered him not” (

28:6). Finally, how that he had recourse
to a witch and ultimately fell upon the field of battle sorely wounded, and
ended his life by taking a sword and falling upon it (

31:4), thereby
sealing his doom by the unpardonable act of suicide.
In reply thereto we would say: we grant the conclusion that Saul passed
out into an eternity of woe, but we do not accept the inference that he was
ever a regenerate man. At the outset it must be remembered that the very
installation of Saul upon the throne expressed the Lord’s displeasure
against Israel, for as He declared to the prophet “I gave thee a king in
Mine anger (cf.

1 Samuel 8:5,6) and took him away in My wrath”
(

Hosea 13:11). Concerning the three things advanced by Arminians to
show that Saul was a regenerate man, they are no proofs at all. Samuel’s
taking of the vial of oil and kissing him were simply symbolic actions,
betokening the official status that had been conferred upon Saul: this is
quite clear from the remainder of the verse, where the prophet explains his
conduct, “Is it not because the Lord hath anointed thee to be captain over
His inheritance?” (

10:1) — not because “The Lord delighteth in
thee” or because thou art “a man after His own heart.” It is not said the
Lord gave Saul “a new heart,” but “another. “Moreover, the Hebrew word
(haphak) is never translated “gave” elsewhere, but in the great majority of
instances “turned”: it simply means the Lord turned his heart from natural
timidity (see

1 Samuel 10:21, 22) to boldness (cf.

1 Samuel 11:1-7;
13:1-4). That the Spirit of God came upon him so that he prophesied is no
more than is said of Balaam (

Numbers 22:38; 24:2) and Caiaphas
(

John 11:51).
3. The case of Solomon. This is admittedly the most difficult one presented
in Scripture, and it is our belief that God meant it to be such. His history is
such a solemn one, his fall so great, his backsliding so protracted, that had
his spiritual recovery and restoration to fellowship with the Lord been
made unmistakably plain, a shelter would be provided for the careless and
presumptuous. In Solomon the monarchy of Israel reached its zenith of.169
splendor, for he reaped the harvest of glory for which David both toiled
and suffered, entering into such a heritage as none else before or since has
ever enjoyed. But in Solomon, too, the family of David entered its decline,
and for his sins the judgments of God fell heavily on his descendants. Thus
he is set before us as an awful warning of the fearful dangers which may
surround and then overthrow the loftiest virtues and most dazzling
mundane greatness.
That Solomon was a regenerate man we doubt not: that he enjoyed the
favor of God to a most marked degree the inspired narrative makes plain.
That he suffered a horrible decline in character and conduct is equally
evident. Neither the special wisdom with which he was endowed, the
responsibilities of the exalted position he occupied, nor the superior
privileges which were his, rendered him proof against the temptations he
encountered. He fell from his first estate and left his first love. His honor
and glory were sadly eclipsed, and so far as the historical account of the
books of Kings and Chronicles is concerned, he was buried in shame, the
dark shadows of a misspent life and wrecked testimony shrouded his grave.
Over the fate of Solomon there rests such a cloud and silence that many
good men conclude he was lost: on the other hand there are those who do
not believe that he so fell as to lose the favor of God and perish eternally.
With others, it is our own conviction that before the end of his earthly
pilgrimage Solomon was made to repent deeply of his waywardness and
wickedness. We base this conviction upon three things. First, the fact that
he was the writer of the book of Ecclesiastes (

Ecclesiastes 1:1) and
that it was penned at a later period of his life than the Proverbs and
Canticles (see

1 Kings 4:32). Now to us it seems impossible to ponder
Ecclesiastes without being struck with its prevailing note of sadness and
without feeling that its writer is there expressing the contrition of one who
has mournfully returned from the paths of error. In that book he speaks out
the bitter experiences he had gone through in pursuing a course of folly and
madness and of the resultant “vexation of spirit”—see especially 7:2, 3, 26,
27 which is surely a voicing of his repentance. Second, hereby God made
good His express promise to David concerning Solomon:
“I will be his Father and he shall be My son. If he commit iniquity, I
will chastise him with the rod of men, and with the stripes of the
children of men: but My mercy shall not depart away from him, as I
took it from Saul” (

2 Samuel 7:14, 15)..170
Third, centuries after his death the Spirit declared,
“Did not Solomon king of Israel sin by these things? yet among
many nations was there no king like him, who was beloved of his
God” (

Nehemiah 13:26).
4. The case of Judas. Though his be not nearly so difficult of solution,
nevertheless it is admittedly a very mysterious one, and there are features
about it which pertain to none other. But that which more immediately
concerns us here is to show there is nothing in this awful example which
militates in the least against the doctrine for which we are contending. That
Judas is eternally lost there is no room to doubt: that he was ever saved
there is no evidence whatever to show. Should it be said that the Lord
would never have ordained a bad man to be one of His favored apostles,
the answer is, that God is not to be measured by our standards of the
fitness of things: He is sovereign over all, doing as He pleases and giving
no account of His matters. Moreover, He has told us that our thoughts and
ways are not as His. The mystery of iniquity is a great deep, yet faith has
full confidence in God even where it cannot understand.
That Christ was in nowise deceived by Judas is clear from

John 6:64,
“For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed
not, and who should betray Him.”
Furthermore, we are told that He declared on this solemn occasion, “Have
not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil” (v. 70). Notably and
blessedly did that act make manifest the moral excellency of the Savior.
When the Son became incarnate He averred
“Lo I come to do Thy will, O God” (

Hebrews 10:7),
and God’s will for Him was revealed “in the volume of the Book.” In that
Book it was written that a familiar friend should lift up his heel against Him
(

Psalm 41:9). This was a sore trial, yet the perfect Servant balked not
at it, but complied therewith by calling a “devil” to be one of His closest
attendants. Christ rendered full obedience to the Father’s pleasure though it
meant having the son of perdition in most intimate association with Him for
three years, constantly dogging His steps even when He retired from His
carping critics to be alone with the twelve.
Appeal is made by the Arminians to

John 17:12,.171
“While I was with them in the world, I kept them in Thy name:
those that Thou gayest Me I have kept, and none of them is lost but
the son of perdition, that the Scripture might be fulfilled.”
Yet there is nothing here which supports their contention. Judas was
“given to” Christ and “chosen” by Him as an apostle, but he was never
given to Him by a special act of grace, nor “chosen in Him” and united to
Him as a member of Him, as the rest of the apostles and as all the election
of grace are. This is clear from His words in

John 13:19, “I speak not
of you all (cf. vv. 10, 11): I know whom I have chosen”; that is chosen
unto eternal life, for otherwise He had chosen Judas equally with the
others. Let it be carefully noted that in

John 17:12 Christ says not
“none of them is lost except the son of perdition.” In using the disjunctive
“but” He sharply contrasted Judas from the rest, showing he belonged to
an entirely different class: compare

Matthew 12:4;

Acts 27:22;

Revelation 21:27, where the “but” is in direct opposition to what
precedes.
Christ’s statement in

John 17:12 was designed to show that there had
been no failure in the trust committed to Him, but rather that He had
complied with His commission to the last detail. It also served to assure the
eleven of this, that their faith might not be staggered by the perfidy of their
companion. It gave further proof that He had not been deceived by Judas,
for before he betrayed Him, He terms him “the son of perdition.” Finally,
it declared God’s hand and counsel in it: Judas perished “that the Scripture
might be fulfilled.” Among the reasons why God ordered that there should
be a Judas in the apostolate, we suggest it was in order that an impartial
witness might bear testimony to the moral excellency of Christ: though in
the closest possible contact with Him by day and night, he could find no
flaw in Him, but confessed “I have betrayed the innocent blood”
(

Matthew 27:4). It was not from saving grace Judas “fell,” but from
“ministry, and apostleship” (

Acts 1:25).
We turn now to look at some of those Scriptures appealed to by Arminians
in support of their contention that those who have been born of the Spirit
may fall from grace and eternally perish. We say “some of them,” for were
we to expound every passage cited and free them from the false meaning
attached thereto, this section would be extended to an undue and
wearisome length. We shall therefore single Out those verses which our
opponents are fondest of quoting, those which they regard as their chief.172
strongholds, for if they be overthrown we need not trouble with their
weaker defenses. It is hardly necessary to say that there is not one passage
in all the Word of God which expressly states the dogma the Arminians
contend for, and therefore they are obliged to select those which abound in
figurative expressions, or which treat of national and temporal destruction,
or those relating to unregenerate professors, thereby deceiving the unwary
by the mere sound of words and wresting the Scriptures by straining
fragments divorced from their contexts.
John Wesley in his “Serious Thoughts” on the apostasy of saints framed his
first proposition thus: “That one who is holy and righteous in the judgment
of God Himself may nevertheless so fall from God as to perish
everlastingly.” In support of this he quoted,
“But when the righteous turneth away from his righteousness and
committeth iniquity and doeth according to all the abominations
that the wicked man doeth, shall he live? All his righteousness that
he hath done shall not be mentioned: in his trespass that he hath
trespassed and in his sin that he hath sinned, in these shall he die”
(

Ezekiel 18:24).
That the founder of Wesleyan Methodism understood this to refer to
eternal death is evident from the purpose for which he adduced it. As this
passage is generally regarded by Arminians as “unanswerable and
unassailable” we will consider it at more length.
This construing of “shall he die” as “shall perish eternally” is contrary to
the entire scope and design of Ezekiel 18, for this chapter treats not of the
perseverance or apostasy of the saints, neither of their salvation nor
damnation. Its sole aim is to vindicate the justice of God from a charge that
He was then punishing the Jews (temporally) not for their own sins but for
the sins of their forebears, and therefore there was manifest unfairness in
His dealings with them. This chapter has nothing whatever to do with the
spiritual and eternal welfare of men. The whole context concerns only the
house of Israel, the land of Israel, and their conduct in it, according to
which they held or lost their tenure of it. Thus it has no relevancy whatever
to the matter in hand, no pertinency to the case of individual saints and
their eternal destiny.
Again, though the man here spoken of is indeed acknowledged by the Lord
to be “righteous,” yet that righteousness by which he is denominated only.173
regards him as an inhabitant of the land of Palestine and as giving him a
claim to the possession and enjoyment of it, but not as justifying him before
God and giving him title to everlasting life and felicity. For this
“righteousness” is called “his” (v. 24) and not Another’s (

Isaiah
45:24;

Jeremiah 23:6), that which he had “done” (v. 24 and cf. vv. 5-
9) and not what Christ had done for him (

Romans 5:19); it was a
righteousness of works and not of faith (

Romans 4:5,

Philippians
3:9). This man was “righteous” legally but not evangelically. Thus, if a
thousand such cases were adduced it would not militate one iota against
the eternal security of all who have been constituted righteous before God
on the ground of Christ’s perfect obedience being reckoned to their
account and who have been inwardly sanctified by the Spirit and grace of
God.
Let the reader carefully peruse the whole of chapter 18. The mission of the
prophet Ezekiel was to call Israel to repentance. He pointed to the awful
calamities which had come upon the nation as proof of their great guilt.
They sought to escape that charge by pleading “The fathers have eaten
sour grapes and the children’s teeth are set on edge.” The prophet
answers, that, though in His governmental and providential dealing God
often visits the father’s sin on sinful children, yet the guilt of sinful fathers
is never in His theocracy (according to the covenant of Horeb) visited on
righteous children. He went further, and reminded them that temporal
prosperity was restored to the Nation as soon as an obedient generation
succeeded a rebellious, and that as soon as a rebellious individual truly
repented he was forgiven, just as when a righteous man became wicked he
was plagued in his body or estate.
“Then the Lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and
loosed him and forgave him the debt… And his lord was wroth and
delivered him to the tormentors” (

Matthew 18:27, 34).
This is quoted to prove that “persons truly regenerated and justified before
God, may through high misdemeanors in sinning, turn themselves out of
the justifying grace and favor of God, quench the spirit of regeneration,
and come to have their portion with hypocrites and unbelievers.”
Arminians are not the only ones who wrest this passage, for Socinians
quote verses 24-27 to disprove the atonement of Christ, arguing therefrom
that God freely forgives sins out of His “compassion,” without any
satisfaction being rendered to His broken Law. Both of these erroneous.174
interpretations are the consequence of ignoring the scope and design of this
passage: Christ was not there showing either the ground on which God
bestows pardon or the doom of apostates.
The scope and intention of

Matthew 18:23-35 is easily perceived if the
following details be attended to.
1. Christ is replying to Peter’s “how often shall my brother sin against
me, and I forgive him? (v. 21).
2. It is a parable or similitude of “the kingdom of heaven” (v. 23),
which has to do with a mixed condition of things, the whole sphere of
profession, in which the tares grow together with the wheat.
3. From Christ’s application in 5:35 we see that He was enforcing

Matthew 6:14, 15.
On account of the mercy and forgiveness which the Christian has received
from God in Christ, he ought to extend forgiveness and kindness to his
offending brethren (

Ephesians 4:32). Failure so to do is threatened
with awful vengeance. “IF” I forgive not from my heart those who offend
me, then I am only an unregenerate professor. Note how Christ
represented this character at the beginning: no quickened soul would boast
“I will pay Thee all” (v. 26)!

Luke 11:24-26, appealed to by Arminians, need not detain us, for the
last clause of

Matthew 12:45 proves it is a parable about the nation of
Israel — freedom from the spirit of idolatry since the Babylonian captivity,
but possessed by the Devil himself when they rejected Christ and
demanded His crucifixion. Nor should

John 15:6 occasion any serious
difficulty. Without proffering a detailed exposition, it is sufficient to point
out that the “Vine” is not a figure of vital relationship (as is “the body”:

1 Corinthians 12:11;

Colossians 1:24), but only of external and
visible. This is clear from such passages as

Psalm 80:8-14;

Jeremiah 2:21;

Hosea 10:1;

Revelation 14:18,19. Thus there
are both fruitful and fruitless “branches” (as “good” and “bad” fishes

Matthew 13:48): the latter being in Christ only by profession —hence
the “as a branch.” Confirmatory of this the Father is here designated “the
Husbandman” (v. 1) — a term having a much wider scope than “the
Dresser” of His vineyard (

Luke 13:9)..175
“For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest He also
spare not thee” (

Romans 11:21).
But such a passage as this (vv. 17-24) is nothing to the purpose. The
“natural branches” were the unbelieving portion of the Jews (v. 20), and
they were “broken off” from the position of witness for God in the earth,
the “kingdom” being taken from them and given to others:

Matthew
21:43. What analogy is there between these and the supposed case of those
united to Christ and later becoming so severed from Him as to perish?
None whatever: a much closer parallel would be found in a local church
having its candlestick removed” (

Revelation 2:5): set aside as Christ’s
witness on earth. True, from their case the apostle points a solemn warning
(v. 22) but that warning is heeded by the truly regenerate, and thus is made
a means of their preservation.
“Through thy knowledge shall the weak brother perish for whom
Christ died?” (

1 Corinthians 8:11).
1. It is not affirmed that the weak brother had “perished”!
2. From the standpoint of God’s purpose and the sufficiency of His
keeping power, the feeblest of His children will not perish.
3. But the strong Christian is here warned of and dehorted from a
selfish misuse of his “liberty” (v. 9) by pointing out the horrible
tendency of the same.
Though Christ will preserve His lambs, that does not warrant me in casting
a stumblingstone before them. No thanks were due the Roman soldier that
not a bone of Christ’s body was broken when he thrust his spear into the
Savior’s side, and the professing Christian who sets an evil example before
babes in Christ is not guiltless because God preserves them from becoming
infidels thereby. My duty is to so walk that its influence on others may be
good and not bad.

1 Corinthians 9:27 simply informs us of what God required from Paul
(and all His servants and people), and what, by grace he did in order to
escape a possible calamity.

2 Corinthians 6:1 refers not to saving grace
but to ministerial as 5:3 shows: as laborers together in Christ’s vineyard
they are exhorted to employ the gifts bestowed upon them. “Ye are fallen
from grace” (

Galatians 5:4) is to be interpreted in the light of its
setting. The Galatians were being troubled by Judaizers who affirmed that.176
faith in Christ was not sufficient for acceptance with God, that they must
also be circumcised. The apostle declares that if they should be circumcised
with the object of gaining God’s favor then Christ would profit them
nothing (v. 2), for they would thereby abandon the platform of grace,
descending to fleshly ceremonies; in such case they would leave the ground
of free justification for a lower and worthless plane.
“Holding faith and a good conscience, which some having put
away, concerning faith have made shipwreck; of whom is
Hymeneus and Alexander” (

1 Timothy 1:19, 20).
So far from these being regenerated men who spiritually deteriorated,
Hymeneus was a profane and vain babbler, who increased from one degree
of impiety “unto more ungodliness” (

2 Timothy 2:16, 17); while Paul
said of Alexander that he did him “much harm” and “greatly withstood his
preaching” (

2 Timothy 4:16, 17). Their “putting away” a good
conscience does not necessarily imply they formerly had such, for of the
unbelieving Jews who contemptuously refused the Gospel (

Acts 13:45,
46) it is said—the same Greek word being used—that they “put it from”
them. They made shipwreck of the Christian Faith they professed (cf.

Galatians 1:23) for they denied a future resurrection (

2 Timothy
2:18), which resulted in overthrowing the doctrinal faith of some of their
hearers; but as

2 Timothy 2:19 shows this was no apostasy of real
saints.

Hebrews 6:4-8. There are two sorts of “enlightened” persons: those
who are savingly illuminated by the Holy Spirit, and those intellectually
instructed by the doctrine of the Gospel. In like manner, there are two
kinds of “tasting” of the heavenly gift, the good Word of God, and the
powers of the world to come: those who under a fleeting impulse merely
sample them, and those who from a deep sense of need relish the same. So
there are two different classes who become “partakers of the Holy Spirit:”
those who only come under His awe-inspiring and sin-convicting influences
in a meeting where His power is manifest, and those who receive of His
grace and are permanently indwelt by Him. The “repentance” of those
viewed here is but that of Cain, Pharaoh and Judas, and those who openly
repudiate Christ become hopelessly hardened, given up to a reprobate
mind.
The description furnished of the above class at once serves to identify
them, for it is so worded as to come far short of the marks of the children.177
of God. They are not spoken of as God’s elect, as those redeemed by
Christ, as born of the Spirit. They are not said to be justified, forgiven,
accepted in the Beloved, or “made meet for the inheritance of the saints in
light.” Nothing is said of their faith, love or obedience. Yet these are the
very things which distinguish the saints from all others! Finally, the
description of this class in terms which fall below what pertains to the
regenerate is employed again in v. 9:
“But (not and’), beloved, we are persuaded better things of you (in
contrast from them) and things which (actually) accompany
salvation.”

Hebrews 10:26-29. The apostle says nothing here positively of any
having actually committed this fatal sin, but only supposes such a case,
speaking conditionally. This particular “sin” referred to here must be
ascertained from the Epistle in which this passage occurs: it is the
deliberate repudiation of Christianity after being instructed therein and
making a public profession thereof and going back to an effete Judaism—
the condition of such would be hopeless. The nearest approach to such sin
today would be for one who had been taught the Truth and intelligently
professed to the same, renouncing it for, say, Romanism, or Buddhism. To
renounce the way of salvation set forth by the Gospel of Christ is to turn
the back on the only Mediator between God and men. “There remaineth no
more sacrifice for sins” for those who prefer “calves and goats” (Judaism)
or “Mary and the saints” (Romanism) rather than the Lamb of God.
“Now the just shall live by faith, but if any man draw back My soul
shall have no pleasure in him” (

Hebrews 10:38).
This also is purely hypothetical, as the “if” intimates: it announces what
would follow should such a thing occur. To quote what is merely
suppositionary rather than positive, shows how weak the Arminian case is.
That there is nothing here whatever for them to build upon is clear from
the very wording and structure of the sentence: it is not “Now the just shall
live by faith and if any man draw back.” The “but if any man draw back”
places him in opposition to the class spoken of in the first clause. This is
further evident in what immediately follows: “But we are not of them that
draw back unto perdition, but of them that believe to the saving of the
soul” (v. 39). Thus, so far from this passage favoring the total apostasy of
real saints, it definitely establishes the doctrine of their final perseverance..178
“There shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in
damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them”
(

2 Peter 2:1).
Any seeming difficulty here is at once removed if attention be carefully paid
to two things. First, it is not said they were redeemed, but only “bought.”
The first man was given “dominion” over all things terrestrial (

Genesis
1:28), but by his fall lost the same, and Satan took possession by conquest.
Christ does not dispossess him by the mere exercise of Divine power, but
as the Son of man He secured by right of purchase all that Adam forfeited.
He “buyeth that field” (

Matthew 13:44) which is “the world” (v.
39)—i.e. the earth and all in it. Second, it is not said they were bought by
Christ, but “the Lord,” and the Greek word is not the customary “kurios”
as in vv. 9, 11, 20, but “Despotes,” which signifies dominion and authority
— translated “masters” in

1 Timothy 6:1, 2;

Titus 2:9;

1 Peter
2:18. It was as a Master He bought the world and all in it, acquiring
thereby an unchallengable title (as God-man) to rule over it. He therefore
has the right to demand the submission of every man, and all who deny
Him that right, repudiate him as the Despotes.

2 Peter 2:20-22. There are none of the distinguishing marks of God’s
children ascribed to the characters mentioned in this passage, nothing
whatever about them to show they were ever anything more than formal
professors. Attention to the following details will clarify and simplify these
verses.
1. The “pollutions of the world” here “escaped” are the gross and
outward defilements (in contrast from the inward cleansing of the
regenerate), as is clear from the “again entangled therein.”
2. It was not “through faith in” but “through the knowledge of the
Lord and Savior” that this reformation of conduct and amendment of
walk was effected.
3. These are not said to have “loved the way of righteousness”
(

Psalm 119:47, 77, 159), but merely to have “known” it: there is a
twofold knowledge of the Truth: natural and spiritual, theoretical and
vital, ineffectual and transforming — it is only the former the apostates
had. The heart of stone was never taken from them.
4. They were never “saints” or “sheep” but “dogs” domesticated and
“swine” externally washed..179
“These are spots in your feasts of charity, when they feast with you,
feeding themselves without fear; clouds they are without water,
carried about of winds; trees whose fruit withereth; without fruit,
twice dead, plucked up by the roots” (

Jude 12).
It is the words twice dead which the Arminian fastens upon, but we have
quoted the whole verse that the reader may see that it is couched in the
language of imagery. A manifestly figurative expression is taken literally: if
“twice dead,” it is argued they were twice alive — the second time by the
new birth, the life from which they had killed. The Epistle in which this
expression occurs supplies the key to it. Its theme is Apostasy: of the
Israelites (v. 5), angels (v. 6), and lifeless professors in Christendom (vv. 8-
19), from which the saints are “preserved” (v. 1) and “kept” (v. 24).Those
of 5:12 were dead in sin by nature, and then by apostasy — by defection
from the faith, they once professed. “I will not blot out his name”
(

Revelation 3:5) is a promise to the overcomer, every believer (

1
John 5:4)..180
CHAPTER 10
ITS BENEFITS
It has been pointed out on a previous occasion that what has been engaging
our attention is far more than a subject for theological debate: it is full of
practical value. It must be so, for it occupies a prominent place in the
Divinely-inspired Scriptures which are “profitable for doctrine” (

2
Timothy 3:16), and that, because it is “the doctrine which is according to
godliness” (

1 Timothy 6:3)—revealing the standard of piety and
actually promoting piety in the soul and life of him who receives it by faith.
Everything revealed in the Word and all the activities of God have two
chief ends in view: His own glory and the good of His people. And as we
draw to the close of this book it is fitting that we should seek to set before
readers some of the benefits which are conferred by a believing
apprehension of this truth, some of the blessed effects it produces and
fruits it yields. We somewhat anticipated this aspect of our subject by what
we said under its Blessedness (in chap. 6 of this book), yet as we then did
little more than generalize it behooves us now to more definitely
particularize.
In attempting to describe some of the benefits which this doctrine affords
we shall be regulated by whether we are viewing it from the Divine side or
the human, for as we have sought to make clear in the preceding sections,
the perseverance of the saints in holiness and obedience is the direct effect
of the continued operations of Divine grace and power within them, and
those operations are guaranteed by the promises of the everlasting
covenant. Viewed from the Divine side, perseverance in the faith and in the
paths of righteousness is itself a gift, a distinct gift from God: “who shall
also confirm you unto the end” (

1 Corinthians 1:8). Absolutely
considered God’s preservation of His people turns upon no condition to be
fulfilled by them, but depends entirely on the immutability and invincibility
of the Divine purpose. Nevertheless, God does not preserve His people by
mere physical power and without their concurrence, as He keeps the
planets steadfast in their orbits. No, rather does He treat them throughout
as moral agents and responsible creatures, drawing them with the cords of
love, inclining their hearts unto Himself, rendering effectual the motives He
sets before them and the means which He requires them to use..181
The infallible certainty of the Divine operations on behalf of and within His
saints and the mode of their working cannot be insisted upon too
emphatically or repeated too often. On the one hand, the crown of honor
and glory must be ascribed to the King Himself; and on the other hand, the
response and concurrence or loyalty of His subjects is to be made equally
plain. God preserves His people by renewing them in the inner man day by
day (

2 Corinthians 4:16), by quickening them according to His Word,
by granting them fresh supplies of grace, and also by moving them to heed
His warnings and respond to His exhortations; in a word, by working in
them both to will and to do of His good pleasure (

Philippians 2:13).
Thus our portrayal of some of the benefits and fruits of this doctrine will be
governed by our viewpoint: whether we trace Out what follows faith’s
appropriating of the Divine promises or what follows from faith’s
appropriation of the Divine precepts. God has promised to carry forward in
sanctification and complete in glorification the work begun in regeneration,
yet not without requiring us to perform the duties of piety and avoid
everything contrary thereto.
1. Here is cause for adoring God. The doctrine set forth in this book most
certainly redounds more to the glory of God than does the contrary one,
which leaves our everlasting felicity in uncertainty. It exemplifies God’s
power, whereby He not only restrains our external foes from overthrowing
our salvation, but also by fixing the wavering disposition of our wills that
we do not cease from the love of and desire after holiness. Also His truth
in the promises of the Covenant, on which we securely rely, being assured
that He who gave them will certainly make the same good. His goodness,
whereby He patiently bears with our weakness and dullness, so that when
we fall into sin, He does not cast us off, but by His loving chastenings
recovers us through moving us to renewed repentance. His holiness, when
because of our folly we trifle with temptation for a season, disregarding His
warnings, He makes us conscious of His displeasure by withholding tokens
of His favor and declining an answer to our prayers, bringing us to confess
and forsake our sins, that fellowship with Him may be restored and that
peace and joy may again be our portion.
2. Here is peace for the soul in a world of strife and where men’s hearts fail
them for fear of the future. This is evident if we consider the opposite. In
themselves believers are weak and unstable, unable to do anything as they
ought. They have no strength of their own to keep themselves in the love
of God, but carry about with them a body of sin and death. They are.182
continually exposed to temptations which ensnare the wisest and
overthrow the strongest. Suppose then they had received no guarantee of
the unchangeableness of God’s purpose, no infallible word of the
continuance of His love, no pledge that He will keep and secure them by
the working of His mighty power, no declaration that unfailing supplies of
His Spirit and grace shall be vouchsafed them, no assurance that He will
never leave them nor forsake them, no revelation of an Advocate on high
to plead their cause and of the sufficiency of His mediation and the efficacy
of His intercession. But rather that they are left to their own fidelity: and in
consequence some of the most eminent saints have apostatized from the
faith, that thousands have utterly fallen out of God’s love and favor, and so
been cast from His covenant, from whence few have ever recovered; and
all confidence and peace will be at an end, and fear and terror fill their
place.
How vastly different is the teaching of the Word from what we have
supposed above. There we find God, as it were, saying to His people: I
know your weakness and insufficiency, your dullness and darkness, how
that without My Son and continual supplies of His Spirit you can do
nothing. The power and rage of your indwelling sin is not hidden from Me,
and how with violence it brings you into captivity against your desires. I
know that though you believe, yet you are frequently made to groan over
your unbelief, and that you are then ready to fear the worst. And when in
that case Satan assaults and tempts, seeking to devour you; that first he
acts like a serpent, attempting to beguile and ensnare, and then as a lion to
terrify. But be not ignorant of his devices: resist him steadfast in the faith:
take unto you the whole armor of God, watch night and day that ye be not
seduced by him, and you shall overcome him by the blood of the Lamb.
“Fear thou not, for I am with thee: be not dismayed, for I am thy
God: I will strengthen thee, yea I will help thee, yea I will uphold
thee with the right hand of My righteousness” (

Isaiah 41:10).
Though you may be tripped up, ye shall not utterly fall. Though you be
fearful, My kindness shall not be removed from you. So be of good cheer,
and run with patience the race that is set before you.
3. Here is solid comfort for the saints in a day of declension, when there is
a great “falling away” of those who once appeared to run well. Though
what is termed “organized Christianity” be a demonstrated failure, though
corporate Christendom be now in ruins, though ten thousands have.183
apostatized yet let the saints be fully assured that God has and will reserve
to Himself a remnant who bow not the knee to Baal; and therefore may
those who have the living God for their “refuge” confidently exclaim
“Therefore will not we fear though the earth (the most stable and ancient
establishments) be removed, and though the mountains (the leaders and
most towering professors) be carried (by the winds of false doctrine) into
the midst of the sea” — the masses of the wicked:

Isaiah 57:20. When
many of the nominal disciples of Christ “sent back and walked no more
with Him,” He turned to the apostles and said “Will ye also go away?”
Whereupon Simon Peter as their spokesman answered
“Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life”
(

John 6:66-68).
Thus it was then, has been throughout the centuries, and will be unto the
end of time. The sheep are secure, while the goats turn aside and perish.
Observe how Paul emphasizes this very note in 2 Timothy 2. Hymeneus
and Philetus eminent men in the church had apostatized, and by their
defection and false teaching had overthrown the doctrinal faith of some; yet
says the apostle, This is no reason why the real children of God should be
made to quake and imagine that their end is uncertain. “Nevertheless the
foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal: the Lord knoweth them
that are His; and, let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart
from iniquity” (v. 19). Note the two sides of that “seal,” preserving the
balance of Truth: on the one side there is a cordial—those who are built
upon the foundation of God’s unchanging purpose and love shall not be
prevailed against; on the other there is a warning—trifle not with
“iniquity,” whether it be doctrinal or practical, but “depart” from it.
Similarly John assures believers who might be shaken at seeing certain in
their assemblies being seduced by the antichrists of that day, but such were
only unregenerate professors (

1 John 2:19), and therefore that the
regenerate, held in the hand of Christ, shall not be overcome by deceivers.
4. Here is ground for holy confidence. The Lord knows how difficult is the
task assigned His people and how deep is the sense of their own
insufficiency. He knows too that nothing more enervates their hearts and
enfeebles their hands than doubts and fears, and therefore has He made
absolute promise to those who hear His voice and follow Him that “they
shall never perish” (

John 10:29). It was this which armed Joshua to
the battle:.184
“There shall not a man be able to stand before thee all the days of
thy life; as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail
thee nor forsake thee.”
And from thence the Lord drew an argument — the very opposite of that
which the legalistic Arminian infers —namely, “Be strong and of a good
courage” (

Joshua 1:5, 6). Such a promise would not make a Joshua
reckless or lax, whatever effect it might have upon a self-righteous
freewiller. No, rather would it produce a holy confidence, which prompted
to the use of lawful means and gave assurance of God’s blessing thereon.
Such a confidence causes its possessor to trust in the Lord with all his
heart and lean not unto his own understanding.
Such encouragement is conveyed and such confidence is engendered by the
Divine declaration “the righteous shall hold on his way” (

Job 17:9).
As the young believer contemplates the likely length of the journey before
him and the difficulties of the road which has to be trod, he is apt to give
way to despair; but if his faith lays hold of this promise that he shall
certainly reach the desired goal, new strength will be imparted to his feeble
knees and increased resolution to his fainting heart. It is the confidence that
by continuing to plod along the weary traveler will reach home, which
causes him to take courage and refuse to give in. It is the assurance of
success which is to the right-minded and best stimulus of labor. If the
Christian be persuaded that the world shall not overcome him, that sin shall
not slay him, that Satan shall not triumph over him, then will he take unto
him the shield of faith and the Sword of the Spirit and fight like a man and
be more than conqueror. As it has been truly said “This is one of the
reasons why British troops have so often won the fight: because the
drummer boys know not how to beat a retreat and the soldiers refused to
believe in the possibility of defeat.”
5. Here is consolation for us in the severest trials. Let us illustrate this
point from the case of Job, for it is difficult to conceive one more acute and
extreme than his. You know how severe, how many, and how protracted
were those afflictions. You know how far Satan was permitted to proceed
with him. You know how his wife turned against and his so-called friends
tantalized him. His cup of trouble was indeed filled to the brim, yet we find
him looking above his afflictions and censorious critics, exclaiming
“He knoweth the way that I take: when He hath tried me I shall
come forth as gold” (

23:10)..185
Weigh well those words and bring to mind the situation of the one who
uttered them. Observe that there was no doubt or uncertainty in his mind
about the issue of his afflictions: it was not “I fear I shall perish in the
furnace,” for he refused to allow those fiery trials to turn him into a
skeptic. Nor did he merely cherish a flatering hope that things might
possibly be well with him at the end, and say “I may come forth as gold.”
No, there was the undoubting, positive conviction “I shall!”
Ah, my reader, Job saw “the bright light in the cloud” (

37:21). He
drew comfort from what assured Cowper when he wrote those lines:
“Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust Him for His grace:
Behind a frowning providence,
He hides a smiling face.”
Job knew that God maketh
“all things work together for good to them that love Him, to them
who are the called according to His purpose” (

Romans 8:28),
and therefore he knew there could be no possibility of his perishing in the
fires. And why was there no doubting as to the outcome of his trials?
Because he could say “For I know that my Redeemer liveth” and therefore
could he add
“and though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh
shall I see God” (

19:25, 26).
That was the ground of his confidence—nothing in himself. That was what
caused him to triumphantly exclaim “I shall come forth as gold.” Cheer up
fellow believer: the process may be painful, but the end is sure; the path
may be rough and you may feel faint, but the prospect is entrancing and
certain.
6. Here is cause for praise. Why should I be found still holding on my way
when so many who made a bright profession and who appeared to make
much faster progress in spiritual things than I did, have long ago dropped
out of the race, and have gone right back into the world? Certainly not
because I was any better by nature. No, I freely ascribe all the glory unto
God who has so graciously ministered unto me and continued to work in
me; who has been so longsuffering and recovered me when I strayed. O
what thanks are due unto Him. How often have I had occasion to say “He.186
restoreth my soul” (

Psalm 23:3)—as He did Abraham’s, Jacob’s,
Peter’s. Thus I may say with David
“I will sing of the mercies of the Lord forever” (

Psalm 89:1).
Not today or tomorrow, but for “forever”; not only when I come to the
brink of the Jordan, but after I have passed safely through it, the high
praises of His faithfulness shall be the theme of my song throughout
eternity.
7. Here is a powerful incentive to confirm Christians in their spiritual lives
and to spur them unto the duties of piety. This is evident from what
regeneration works in them. All the arguments drawn from the possibility
of the apostasy of saints are derived from the terror of dreadful
threatenings and the fear of eternal punishment; whereas those taken from
the assurances conveyed by the everlasting covenant breathe nothing but
the sweetness of grace. Since the children of God have received
“the spirit of adoption, whereby they cry Father, Father”
(

Romans 8:15),
they are more powerfully drawn by the cords of love than by the scourge
of horror. Moreover since all acceptable obedience springs from gratitude,
then that which most effectually promotes gratitude must be the most
powerful spring of obedience, and as to whether a grace bestowed by the
Lord is perpetual or one which may be lost is likely to inspire the deepest
gratitude, we leave to the judgment of our readers. The more firmly be
secured the reward of duty, the more diligent shall we be in performing
duty.
8. Here is an incentive to practical godliness. If Christian perseverance is
one of continuance in the path of obedience and holiness, then will the
saints make diligent use of the aids which God has provided for them and
eschew the contrary. Especially will they be encouraged to ask for and seek
after the grace which God has promised. As it is a sight and sense of
Christ’s being crucified because of my heinous sins which produces
evangelical repentance (

Zechariah 12:10), so it is a realization of the
immutability of God’s purpose, the unchangeableness of His love, and the
preciousness of His promises which strengthen faith and inflame love to
serve and please Him. This twofold doctrine of Divine preservation and
perseverance in holiness supplies effectual motives unto piety. Negatively,
it removes discouragements by letting us know that our denials of self,.187
mortifications of the flesh and efforts to resist the Devil, are not in vain
(

1 Corinthians 15:58;

Galatians 6:9). Positively, it places upon us
the most powerful obligations to live unto God, to show forth His praises,
and adorn the doctrine we profess (

2 Corinthians 7:1).
9. Here we are shown the need of continual diligence in order to persevere
unto the end. But, says the Arminian, I would have concluded the very
opposite, since final perseverance be guaranteed. That is due to his
misconception. God has declared “The righteous shall hold on his way:”
not become slack and sit down, still less that he will forsake it for the way
of the ungodly. That very promise is the best means of producing the
desired result. If a man could be definitely assured that in a certain line of
business he would make a fortune, would such assurance cause him to
refuse that business or lead him to lie in bed all day? No, rather would it be
an incentive to diligence in order to prosper. Napoleon believed he was
“the man of destiny:” did that conviction freeze his energies? No, the very
opposite. God’s promising a thing unto His children causes them to pray
for the same with greater confidence, earnestness and importunity. God
hath promised to bless our use of lawful means and therefore we employ
them with diligence and expectation.
10. Here is a truth to humble us. Admittedly it has been wrested by
Antinomians and perverted unto the feeding of a spirit of presumption. But
it is “ungodly men” and not the saints who turn the grace of our God into
lasciviousness (

Jude 4). Different far is the effect of this truth upon the
regenerate. It works in them a sense of their own insufficiency, causing
them to look outside of themselves for help and strength. So far from
rendering them slothful, it deepens their desires after holiness and makes
them seek it more earnestly. As the Christian realizes “Thou hast
commanded us to keep Thy precepts diligently,” he is moved to pray
“O that my ways were directed to keep Thy statutes
diligently…Make me to go in the path of Thy commandments, for
herein do I delight” (

Psalm 119:4, 5, 35).
The more he is taught of the Spirit the more will he cry
“Hold Thou me up, and I shall be safe” (

Psalm 119:117)..188
CHAPTER 11
CONCLUSION
It now remains for us to gather up a few loose ends, to summarize what
has been before us, make a practical application of the whole, and our
present task is completed. Not that we have said anything like all that could
be said thereon; yet we have sought to set before the reader the principal
aspects of this subject and to preserve a due balance between the Divine
and human sides of it—God’s operations in connection therewith and the
Christian’s concurrence therein. Much of the opposition which has been
raised against what is termed “the dangerous tendency” of this truth arose
from a defective view of the same, through failure to apprehend that the
perseverance of the saints exhibited in the Scriptures is their continuance in
faith and holiness: that the One who has made infallible promise they shall
reach the desired goal has also decreed they shall tread the one path which
leads to it, that the means as well as the end are ordained by Him, and that
He moves them to make diligent use of those means and blesses and makes
effectual their labor in the same.
That for which we have contended throughout these chapters is
steadfastness in holiness, constancy in believing, and in bringing forth the
fruits of righteousness. Saving faith is something more than an isolated act:
it is a spiritual dynamic, a principle of action, which continues to operate in
those who are the favored subjects of it. This is brought out very clearly
and decisively in the great Faith chapter. In Hebrews 11 the Holy Spirit
sets before us the faith of Abel, of Enoch, of Noah, of Abraham and Sarah,
Isaac and Jacob, and after describing various exercises and fruits of the
same, declares “these all died in faith” (v. 13), not one of them
apostatized from the same. The “faith” spoken of, as the context shows,
was both a justifying and sanctifying one, and those who had received the
same from God not only lived by it but died in it. Theirs was a faith which
wore and lasted, which overcame obstacles and triumphed over difficulties,
which endured to the end. True, the patriarchs had to wrestle against their
natural unbelief, and, as the inspired records show, more than once they
were tripped up by the same, yet they continued fighting and emerged
conquerors..189
The Christian is required to continue as he began. He is to daily own his
sins to God and he is daily to renew the same acts of faith and trust in
Christ and His blood which he exercised at the first. Instead of counting
upon some past experience, he is to maintain a present living on Christ. If
he continues to cast himself on the Redeemer, putting his salvation wholly
in His hands, then He will not, cannot, fail him. But in order to cast myself
upon Christ I must be near Him; I cannot do so while following Him “afar
off.” And to be near Him, I must be in separation from all that is contrary
to Him. Communion is based upon an obedient walk (

John 15:10): the
one cannot be without the other. And for the maintenance of this, I must
continue to “show the same diligence” I did when first convicted of my lost
estate, when I perceived that sin was my worst enemy, that I was a rebel
against God and His wrath upon me, and when I fled to Christ for refuge,
surrendering myself to His lordship and trusting entirely to the sufficiency
of His sacrifice to save me from my sins — their dominion, their pollution,
and their guilt.
“Show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the
end” (

Hebrews 6:11).
The selfsame earnestness and pains which actuated my heart and regulated
my acts when I first sought Christ must be continued unto the end of my
earthly course. This means persevering in a holy life, in the things which
are appointed by and are pleasing to God, and unto this the servants of
God are to be constantly urging the saints. “Ministerial exhortation unto
duty is needful unto those who are sincere in the practice of it, that they
may abide and continue therein” (J. Owen). In no other way can the “full
assurance of hope” (a confident expectation of the issue or outcome) be
Scripturally maintained. The Christian has to be constant in giving “the
same diligence” to the things of Cod and the needs of his soul as he did at
the outset. “He said, to the end, that they might know they had not reached
the goal, and were therefore to think of further progress. He mentioned
diligence that they might know they were not to sit down idly, but to strive
in earnest.” And who think you, my reader, was the author of that
quotation? None other than John Calvin! How grievously has Calvinism
been perverted and misrepresented.
“That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith
and patience inherit the promises” (

Hebrews 6:12)..190
The apostle here warns against the vice which is the antithesis of the virtue
previously enjoined, for slothfulness is the opposite of diligence. The
indolence dehorted is in each of us by nature, for spiritual laxity is not
something peculiar to those of a lazy disposition. The evil principle of the
“flesh” remains in every Christian and that principle hates and therefore is
opposed to the things of God. But the flesh must be resisted and the
desires of the “spirit” or principle of grace heeded. When conscious of this
indisposition unto practical holiness, this native enmity against the same,
the believer must pray with renewed earnestness
“draw me, we will run after Thee” (

Song of Solomon 1:4),
“Order my steps in Thy Word, and let not any iniquity have
dominion over me” (

Psalm 119:133).
It is this which distinguishes the true child of God from the empty
professor: his wrestling with the Lord in secret to enable him to press
forward in the race set before him.
“But followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the
promises.” The immediate reference is to the patriarchs who, by continuing
steadfast in the faith, persevering in hope amid all the trials to which they
were subjected, had no entrance into the promised blessings. Their faith
was far more than a notional one: it was influential and practical, causing
them to live as “strangers and pilgrims” in this scene (see

Hebrews
11:13). The word for “patience” here is usually rendered “longsuffering. “
It is a grace which makes its possessor refuse to be daunted by the
difficulties of the way or be so discouraged by the trials and oppositions
encountered as to desert the course or forsake the path of duty. It is just
such faith and patience which are required of the saint in every age, for
there never has been and never will be any journeying to Heaven on
“flowery beds of ease.” If the continued exercise of such graces was
required of the patriarchs—persons who were so high in the love and favor
of God—then let not us imagine they may be dispensed with in our case.
The things promised are not obtained “for faith and patience,” but they are
entered into “through” them.
Assurance of final perseverance neither renders needless wariness and care
(

1 Corinthians 10:12), nor the unwearied use of the appointed means
of grace (

Galatians 6:9). We must distinguish sharply between
confidence in Christ and a weakening of the security of the flesh. The.191
teaching that carnal security and presumption is no bar to eternal glory is a
doctrine of the Devil. David prayed
“Teach me, O Lord, the way of Thy statutes, and I shall keep it
unto the end” (

Psalm 119:33).
Upon it Spurgeon said,
“The end of which David speaks is the end of life, or the fullness of
obedience. He trusted in grace to make him faithful to the utmost,
never drawing a line and saying to obedience ‘Hitherto shalt thou
go but no further.’ The end of our keeping the Law will come only
when we cease to breathe: no good man will think of marking a
date and saying, ‘It is enough, I may now relax my watch, and live
after the manner of men.’ As Christ loves us to the end so must we
serve Him to the end. The end of Divine teaching is that we may
serve to the end” (Treasury of David, Vol. 6).
O for more of this well-balanced teaching.
When faith and the spirit of obedience are inoperative the features of the
new birth are under a cloud, and when we have no evidence of
regeneration we lack any warrant to entertain the assurance of eternal
happiness. The man who gives free rein to the flesh and takes his fill of the
world gives the lie to his profession that he is journeying to Heaven. It is
the glory of the Gospel that while it announces mercy unto the chief of
sinners, yet if any be encouraged by this to persist in a course of evil-doing
it pronounces his doom. The Gospel encourages hope, but it also promotes
holiness; it imparts peace, but it also inculcates godly piety; it cherishes
confidence, yet not by looking back to conversion but forward to the
desired haven. It justifies the expectation of preservation, but only as we
persevere in the path of duty. While it declares emphatically that the
believer’s continuance in and maintenance of his faith depend wholly on
something extraneous to himself or his present case, yet with equal
clearness it insists that the believer’s perseverance is carried on and
perfected by his use of all the appointed means.
It is freely granted that many of the objections which are made against this
subject apply most pertinently to the Antinomian perversion of it, for
hyper-Calvinists have been guilty of presenting this truth in such an
unguarded and one-sided manner as to virtually set a premium on loose
walking. They have dwelt to such an extent upon the Divine operations as.192
to quite crowd out human responsibility, picturing the Christian as entirely
passive. Others who were quite unqualified to write on such a theme have
given much occasion to the enemies of the Truth by their crudities,
representing the security of the believer as a mechanical thing, divorcing
the end from the means, ignoring the safe-guards by which God Himself
has hedged about this doctrine, and prating about “once saved, always
saved” no matter what the daily walk may be. Nevertheless such abuses do
not warrant anyone in repudiating the doctrine itself and opposing the
teaching of Scripture thereon, for there is nothing in the Word of God
which has the slightest tendency to make light of sin or countenances loose
living, but rather everything to the contrary.
When expressing his hatred of the truth of the eternal security of Christ’s
sheep, John Wesley exclaimed “How pleasing is this to flesh and blood,”
which is the very thing it is not. Such a doctrine can never be agreeable to
fallen human nature. Depraved man is essentially proud, and hence any
scheme of perseverance accomplished by the strength of man’s own will
power is pleasing to the vanity of his mind; but a perseverance dependent
upon the faithfulness and power of God, a perseverance which is not the
result of any human sufficiency but rather of the merits and intercession of
Christ, is most unpalatable unto the self-righteous Pharisee. Only the one
who has been given to feel the prevailing power of indwelling sin, who has
discovered that his own will and resolutions are wholly incompetent to
cope with the corruptions of his heart, who has proved by painful
experience that he is completely “without strength” and that apart from
Christ he can do nothing, will truly rejoice that none cam pluck him out of
the Redeemer’s hand. As only the consciously sick will welcome the
Physician, so none but those who realize their own helplessness will really
find the doctrine of Divine preservation acceptable to them.
Moreover, the duties inculcated by this doctrine are most repugnant to
flesh and blood. Subjection to Christ’s authority and the daily taking of His
yoke upon us is a requirement very far from welcome to those who wish to
please themselves and follow their own devices. The standard of piety, the
spirituality of God’s Law, the nature of holiness, the insistence that we
must keep ourselves unspotted from this world, are directly contrary to the
inclinations of the natural man. That we must discipline our affections,
regulate our thoughts, mortify our carnal appetites, cut off a right hand and
pluck out a right eye, are certainly not good news to the unregenerate,
especially when God insists that such mortification is never to be remitted.193
but continued until mortality be swallowed up of life. No, it is impossible
that fallen man will ever be pleased with a doctrine of perseverance in
denying self, taking up his cross daily and following a holy Christ who is
despised and rejected by this world. Thus it will abundantly appear from all
that has been said, how baseless and pointless is the Arminian objection
that the preaching of this doctrine encourages laxity and makes for
licentiousness.
How can it be supposed that the proclamation of this blessed truth will lead
to carelessness and carnality when we lay it down as a fundamental maxim
that no one has any shadow of reason to consider himself interested in the
blessing of perseverance except as he has and gives clear evidence that he
is inwardly conformed to God and outwardly obedient to His commands?
Yet it must be allowed, no matter how carefully and proportionately the
doctrine of Scripture be set forth by God’s servant, there will always be
those ready to wrest to their own destruction. If the Lord Jesus was falsely
charged with “perverting the nation” (

Luke 23:2) His ministers must
not expect immunity from similar criminations. If the apostle Paul was
slanderously reported of teaching
“Let us do evil, that good may come” (

Romans 3:8),
we must not be surprised if the enemies of God should falsify our
assertions and draw erroneous inferences from them. Yet this must not
deter us from proclaiming all the counsel of God or keeping back anything
that would be profitable to His people (

Acts 20:27, 20). And now to
make practical application of all that has been before us.
1. How earnest should sinners be of becoming Christians. In Christ alone is
salvation and safety to be found. Security of person and of estate is the
principal concern of men in this world, but security of soul has little or no
place in the thoughts of the majority. How fearful to be in imminent danger
of death and eternal punishment, and how alarming the condition of those
indifferent to their everlasting welfare. Where there is an underground
shelter which is out of range of artillery and below the reach of falling
bombs, how eagerly will the sane turn thither when the siren sounds.
“The name of the Lord is a strong tower, the righteous runneth into
it and is safe” (

Proverbs 18:10).
O let every reader who has not yet done so make haste into his closet, fall
upon his knees and rise not till he has committed himself wholly unto.194
Christ for time and eternity. Halt no longer between two opinions. The
wrath of God is upon thee, and there is but one way of escape: then flee for
refuge to the hope set before you in the Gospel (

Hebrews 6:18). Christ
stands ready to receive if you will throw down your weapons of warfare.
2. How diligently you should examine whether or not you are in Christ, the
place of eternal security. You should know whether or not you have
complied with the requirements of the Gospel, whether or not you have
closed with Christ’s gracious offer therein, whether spiritual life has come
to your soul, whether you have been made a new creature in Christ. These
things may be known with definite certainty. Put these questions to your
soul. Had I sincere resolution to forsake my wicked way when I came to
Christ? Did I relinquish all dependence upon my own works? Did I come
to Him empty-handed, resting on His promise “him that cometh to Me I
will in no wise cast out?” Then you may upon us is a requirement very far
from welcome to those who wish to please themselves and follow their
own devices. The standard of piety, the spirituality of God’s Law, the
nature of holiness, the insistence that we must keep ourselves unspotted
from this world, are directly contrary to the inclinations of the natural man.
That we must discipline our affections, regulate our thoughts, mortify our
carnal appetites, cut off a right hand and pluck out a right eye, are certainly
not good news to the unregenerate, especially when God insists that such
mortification is never to be remitted but continued until mortality be
swallowed up of life. No, it is impossible that fallen man will ever be
pleased with a doctrine of perseverance in denying self, taking up his cross
daily and following a holy Christ who is despised and rejected by this
world. Thus it will abundantly appear from all that has been said, how
baseless and pointless is the Arminian objection that the preaching of this
doctrine encourages laxity and makes for licentiousness.
How can it be supposed that the proclamation of this blessed truth will lead
to carelessness and carnality when we lay it down as a fundamental maxim
that no one has any shadow of reason to consider himself interested in the
blessing of perseverance except as he has and gives clear evidence that he
is inwardly conformed to God and outwardly obedient to His commands?
Yet it must be allowed, no matter how carefully and proportionately the
doctrine of Scripture be set forth by God’s servant, there will always be
those ready to wrest. to their own destruction. If the Lord Jesus was falsely
charged with “perverting the nation” (

Luke 23:2) His ministers must
not expect immunity from similar criminations. If the apostle Paul was.195
slanderously reported of teaching “Let us do evil, that good may come”
(

Romans 3:8), we must not be surprised if the enemies of God should
falsify our assertions and draw erroneous inferences from them. Yet this
must not deter us from proclaiming all the counsel of God or keeping back
anything that would be profitable to His people (

Acts 20:27,20). And
now to make practical application of all that has been before us. 1. How
earnest should sinners be of becoming Christians. In Christ alone is
salvation and safety to be found. Security of person and of estate is the
principal concern of men in this world, but security of soul has little or no
place in the thoughts of the majority. How fearful to be in imminent danger
of death and eternal punishment, and how alarming the condition of those
indifferent to their everlasting welfare. Where there is an underground
shelter which is out of range of artillery and below the reach of falling
bombs, how eagerly will the sane turn thither when the siren sounds.
“The name of the Lord is a strong tower, the righteous runneth into
it and is safe” (

Proverbs 18:10).
O let every reader who has not yet done so make haste into his closet, fall
upon his knees and rise not till he has committed himself wholly unto
Christ for time and eternity. Halt no longer between two opinions. The
wrath of God is upon thee, and there is but one way of escape: then flee for
refuge to the hope set before you in the Gospel (

Hebrews 6:18). Christ
stands ready to receive if you will throw down your weapons of warfare.
How diligently you should examine whether or not you are in Christ, the
place of eternal security. You should know whether or not you have
complied with the requirements of the Gospel, whether or not you have
closed with Christ’s gracious offer therein, whether spiritual life has come
to your soul, whether you have been made a new creature in Christ. These
things may be known with definite certainty. Put these questions to your
soul. Had I sincere resolution to forsake my wicked way when I came to
Christ? Did I relinquish all dependence upon my own works? Did I come
to Him empty-handed, resting on His promise “him that cometh to Me I
will in no wise cast out?” Then you may be assured on the infallible Word
of God that Christ received you, and you are most grievously insulting Him
if you doubt it. Do you value Christ above all the world? Do you desire to
be conformed more and more to His holy image? Is it your earnest
endeavor to please Him in all things, and is it your greatest grief and.196
confession to Him when you have displeased Him? Then these are the sure
marks of every one who is a member of His mystical Body.
3. How jealously we should watch over and seek to protect this tree of
God’s planting, from the winds of false doctrine and the pests which would
fain destroy it. If we are to do so then we must give due attention to that
injunction,
“Keep thy heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life”
(

Proverbs 4:23).
We must make conscience of everything which is harmful to godliness. We
must walk in separation from the world and have “no fellowship with the
unfruitful works of darkness.” We must feed daily upon the Word of God,
for otherwise growth is impossible. We must have regular recourse to the
throne of grace, not only to obtain pardoning mercy for the sins committed
but to find grace to help for present needs. We must make constant use of
the shield of faith for there is no other defense against the fiery darts of
Satan. A good beginning is not sufficient: we must press forward unto the
things before. A small leak will eventually sink a ship if it be not attended
to: many a noble vessel now lies wrecked upon the rocks.
4. How we should beware of wresting this doctrine. Let none encourage
themselves in carelessness and fleshly indulgence through presuming upon
their security in Christ. It is those who “hear” (heed) His voice and that
“follow Him to whom He has made promise “they shall never perish”
(

John 10:27, 28). The ones of whom the Lord has declared “They
shall not depart from Me” are those to whom He said “I will put My fear
in their hearts” (

Jeremiah 32:40), but He gives no such assurance to
those who trifle with Him. God has promised a victory to His people, but
that very promise implies a warfare: victories are not gained by neglect and
sloth. When Divine grace brings salvation to a soul it teaches him to deny
“ungodliness and worldly lusts” and to
“live soberly, righteously and godly in this present world”
(

Titus 2:12),
and if it is not so teaching me, then I am a stranger to saving grace. There
is nothing which has so much forwarded the Arminian error of apostasy as
the scandalous lives of professing Christians: see that your life gives the lie
to it..197
5. How we must ascribe all the glory unto God. If you have stood firm
while others have been swept away, if you have held on your way when
many who accompanied you at the beginning have forsaken the paths of
righteousness, if you have thrived when others have withered, it is due
entirely to the distinguishing mercy and power of God.
“Who maketh thee to differ, and what hast thou that thou didst not
receive” (

1 Corinthians 4:7):
you have no cause whatever to boast.
“But the Lord is faithful, who shall stablish you and keep you from
evil” (

2 Thessalonians 3:3):
if the Lord, then not myself. It is true we “will” and do, but it is God who
worketh both in us (

Philippians 2:13). Our sufficiency is of Him and
not of ourselves, and due acknowledgment should be made of this; and it
will be by real saints.
“Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto Thy name give glory,
for thy mercy, for Thy truth’s sake” (

Psalm 115:1).
6. How we should magnify the grace of God. The mind is incompetent to
perceive how much we are beholden to the Lord for His interest in and
care of us. As His providence is virtually a continual creation, an upholding
of all things by His ‘power, without which they would lapse back again
into nonentity: so the Christian’s preservation is like a continual
regeneration, a maintenance of the new creation by the operations of the
Spirit and the bestowing fresh supplies of grace. It was the realization of
this fact that moved David to acknowledge of God,
“Which holdeth our soul in life and suffereth not our feet to be
moved” (

Psalm 66:9).
As Charnock well said, “It is a standing miracle in the world that all the
floods of temptation shall not be able to quench this little heavenly spark in
the heart, that it shall be preserved from being smothered by the streams of
sin which arise in us, that a little smoking flax shall burn in spite of all the
buckets of water which are poured upon it.” Thus God perfects His
strength in our weakness.
“O give thanks unto the Lord, for His goodness, for His mercy
endureth forever” (

Psalm 106:1)..198
7. How compassionate we should be unto weaker brethren. The more you
are mindful of the Lord’s upholding hand, the more compassionate will you
be unto those with feeble knees.
“If a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual restore such
a one in the spirit of meekness, considering thyself lest thou also be
tempted” (

Galatians 6:1).
Call to mind how patiently the Lord has borne with you. Remember how
ignorant you were but a short time ago, and expect not too much from
babes in Christ. Has not the Lord often recovered you when you did
wander? Have not your brethren still occasion to bear with many blemishes
in you? If so, will you be hyper-critical and censorious toward them!
Despise not small grace in any, but seek to encourage, to counsel, to help.
Christ does not break the bruised reed, nor must we.

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