What Saith the Scripture?


Phila delphia > Lectures on SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY by Charles G. Finney (page 10 of 11)

Lectures On Systematic Theology


Page 10

Charles G. Finney

A Voice from the Philadelphian Church Age

  Wisdom is Justified

by Charles Grandison Finney


"SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY" in 12 html pages-

Introduction ---New Window

LECTURES 1-7 of page 1 ---New Window

LECTURES 8-16 of page 2 ---New Window

LECTURES 17-30 of page 3 ---New Window

LECTURES 31-38 of page 4 ---New Window

LECTURES 39-47 of page 5 ---New Window

LECTURES 48-57 of page 6 ---New Window

LECTURES 58-67 of page 7 ---New Window

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LECTURES 75-80 of page 9 ---New Window

LECTURES 81-83 of page 10 (this page)

APPENDIX on page 11 ---New Window

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Table of Contents
page 10

LECTURE LXXXI. -- Perseverance of Saints.
Consideration of principal arguments in support of the doctrine

LECTURE LXXXII. -- Perseverance of Saints.
Perseverance proved

[In the Contents of the printed book, there is no entry for Lecture LXXXIII.]
LECTURE LXXXIII. -- Perseverance of Saints.
Further objections answered

This lecture was given to us by Dennis Carroll.



V. Consider the objections to it.

There is, I reply, a broad and obvious distinction between the abuse of a good thing or doctrine, and its natural tendency. The legitimate tendency of a thing or doctrine may be good, and yet it may be abused and perverted. This is true of the atonement, and the offer of pardon through Christ. These doctrines have been, and are, greatly objected to by universalists and unitarians, as having a tendency to encourage the hope of impunity in sin. It is said by them, that to hold out the idea that Christ has made an atonement for sin, and that the oldest and vilest sinners may be forgiven and saved, tends directly to immorality, and to encourage the hope of ultimate impunity in a life of sin; the hope that, after a sinful life, the sinner may at last repent and be saved.

Now, there is so much plausibility in this objection to the doctrine of pardon and atonement, that many sensible men have rejected those doctrines because of this objection. They have regarded the objection as unanswerable. But a close examination will show, that the objection against those doctrines is entirely without foundation; and not only so, but that the real natural tendency of those doctrines affords a strong presumptive argument in their favour. Who does not know, after all, that from the nature and laws of mind, the manifestation of compassion and of disinterested good will, and a disposition to forgive a fault on the part of the justly offended, tend in the highest degree to bring the offender to repentance? "If thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink; for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his head." This command is the perfection of wisdom. It recognizes mind, and the laws of mind as they are. The free offer of pardon to a convicted and self-condemned sinner has no natural tendency to encourage him in sin, but is the most potent influence possible to bring him to immediate repentance.

So the telling of a convinced and self-condemned sinner, that Christ has died for his sins, and offers freely and at once to forgive all the past, has no natural tendency to beget a spirit of perseverance in rebellion; but is on the contrary the readiest, and safest, and I may add, the only effectual method of subduing him, and bringing him to immediate repentance. But suppose, on the other hand, you tell him there is no forgiveness, that he must be punished for his sins at all events, what tendency has this to bring him to immediate and genuine repentance; to beget within him the love required by the law of God? Assuring him of punishment for all his sins might serve to restrain outward manifestations of a sinful heart, but certainly it tends not to subdue selfishness, and to cleanse the heart; whereas the offer of mercy through the death of Christ, has a most sin-subduing tendency. It is such a manifestation to the sinner of God's great love to him, his real pity for him, and readiness to overlook and blot out the past, as tends to break down the stubborn heart into genuine repentance, and to beget the sincerest love to God and Christ, together with the deepest self-loathing and self-abasement on account of sin. Thus the doctrines of the atonement and pardon through a crucified Redeemer, instead of being condemned by their legitimate tendency, are greatly confirmed thereby. These doctrines are no doubt liable to abuse, and so is every good thing; but is this a good reason for rejecting them? Our necessary food and drink may be abused, and often are, and so are all the most essential blessings of life. Should we reject them on this account?

It is admitted, that the doctrines of atonement and forgiveness through Christ, are greatly abused by careless sinners and hypocrites; but is this a good reason for denying and withholding them from the convicted sinner, who is earnestly inquiring what he shall do to be saved? No, indeed.

It is also admitted, that the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints is liable to abuse, and often is abused by the carnal and deceived professor; but is this a good reason for rejecting it, and for withholding its consolations from the tempted, tempest-tossed saint? By no means. Such are the circumstances of temptation from within and without, in which the saints are placed in this life, that when they are made really acquainted with themselves, and are brought to a proper appreciation of the circumstances in which they are, they have but little rational ground of hope, except what is found in this doctrine. The natural tendency and inevitable consequence of a thorough revelation of themselves to themselves, would be to beget despair, but for the covenanted grace and faithfulness of God. What saint who has ever been revealed to himself by the Holy Spirit, has not seen what Paul saw when he said, "In me, that is, in my flesh, dwelleth no good thing?" Who that has been made acquainted with himself does not know that he never did, and never will take one step towards heaven, except as he is anticipated and drawn by the grace of God in Christ Jesus? Who that knows himself does not understand that he never would have been converted, but for the grace of God anticipating and exciting the first motions of his mind in a right direction? And what true saint does not know, that such are his former habitudes, and such the circumstances of trial under which he is placed, and such the downward tendency of his own soul on account of his physical depravity (see distinction between moral and physical depravity, Lecture XXXVIII. II), that although converted, he shall not persevere for an hour, except the indwelling grace and Spirit of God shall hold him up, and quicken him in the path of holiness?

Where, I would ask, is the ground of hope for the saints as they exist in this world? Not in the fact that they have been physically regenerated, so that to fall is naturally impossible. Not in the fact that they have passed through any such change of nature as to secure their perseverance for an hour, if left to themselves. Not in the fact that they can, or will sustain themselves for a day or a moment by their resolutions. Where then is their hope? There is not even a ground of probability, that any one of them will ever be saved, unless the doctrine in question be true, that is, unless the promised grace and faithfulness of God in Christ Jesus goes before, and from step to step secures their perseverance. But if this grace is promised to any saint, as his only ground of confidence, or even hope that he shall be saved, it is equally, and upon the same conditions, promised to all the saints. No one more than another can place the least reasonable dependence on anything, except the grace equally promised and vouchsafed to all. What does a man know of himself who hopes to be saved, and who yet does not depend wholly on promises of grace in Christ Jesus?

The natural tendency of true and thorough conviction of sin, and of such a knowledge of ourselves, as is essential to salvation, is to beget and foster despondency and despair; and, as I said, the soul in this condition has absolutely little or no ground of hope of ultimate salvation, except that which this doctrine, when rightly understood, affords. However far he may have progressed in the way of life, he sees, when he thoroughly knows the truth, that he has progressed not a step, except as he has been drawn and inclined by the indwelling grace and Spirit of Christ; and that he shall absolutely go no further in the way to heaven, unless the same gracious influence is continued, in such a sense, and to such an extent, as to overcome all the temptations with which he is beset. His only hope is in the fact, that God has promised to keep and preserve him. Nothing but God's faithfulness to his Son procured the conversion of any saint. Nothing but this same faithfulness has procured his perseverance for a day, and nothing else can render the salvation of any soul at all probable. What can a man be thinking about, or what can he know of himself, who does not know this? Unless the same grace that secures the conversion of the saints, secures their perseverance to the end, there is no hope for them. It is true, that the promises to sinners and to saints are conditioned upon their faith, and upon the right exercise of their own agency; and it is also true, that grace secures the fulfilment of the conditions of the promises, in every instance in which they are fulfilled, or they never would be fulfilled.

We have seen that the promises of the Father to the Son secure the bestowment upon the saints of all grace to ensure their final salvation.

It shocks and distresses me to hear professed Christians talk of being saved at all, except upon the ground of the anticipating, and persevering, and sin-overcoming, and hell-subduing grace of God in Christ Jesus. Why, I should as soon expect the devil to be saved, as that any saint on earth will be, if left, with all the promises of God in his hands, to stand and persevere without the drawings, and inward teachings, and over-persuading influences of the Holy Spirit. Shame on a theology that suspends the ultimate salvation of the saints upon the broken reed of their own resolutions in their best estate. Their firmest resolutions are nothing unless they are formed and supported by the influence of the Spirit of grace, going before, and exciting, and persuading to their formation and their continuance. This is everywhere taught in the Bible; and who that has considered the matter does not know, that this is the experience of every saint? Where, then, is the ground of hope, if the doctrine in question be denied? "If the foundation be destroyed, what shall the righteous do?" Where, then, is the evil tendency of this doctrine? It has no naturally evil tendency. Can the assurance of eternal salvation through the blood, and love, and grace of Christ, have a natural tendency to harden the heart of a child of God against his Father and his Saviour? Can the revealed fact, that he shall be more than a conqueror through Christ, beget in him a disposition to sin against Christ? Impossible! This doctrine, though liable to abuse by hypocrites, is nevertheless the sheet anchor of the saints in hours of conflict. And shall the children be deprived of the bread of life, because sinners will pervert the use of it to their own destruction? This doctrine is absolutely needful to prevent despair, when conviction is deep, and conflicts with temptation are sharp. Its natural tendency is to slay and keep down selfishness, to forestall selfish efforts and resolutions, and to sustain the confidence of the soul at all times. It tends to subdue sin, to humble the soul under a sense of the great love and faithfulness of God in Christ Jesus; to influence the soul to live upon Christ, and to renounce entirely and for ever all confidence in the flesh. Indeed, its tendency is the direct opposite of that asserted in the objection. It is the abuse, and not the natural tendency of this doctrine, against which this objection is urged. But the abuse of a doctrine is no reason why it should be rejected.
That if real Christians do backslide, they lose for the time being their evidence of acceptance with God; and withal they know that in their present state they cannot be saved. This objection is levelled rather against that view of perseverance that says, "once in grace, always in grace;" that teaches the doctrine of perpetual justification upon condition of one act of faith. The doctrine as stated in these lectures, holds out no ground of hope to a backslider, except upon condition of return and perseverance to the end. Moreover, the doctrine as here taught is that perseverance in holiness, in the sense, that, subsequent to regeneration holiness is at least the rule, and sin only the exception, is an attribute of Christian character. Every moment, therefore, a backslider remains in sin, he must have less evidence that he is a child of God.

But as I said, he loses confidence in his own Christianity, and in this state of backsliding he does not believe the doctrine of perseverance, as a doctrine of revelation. It is absurd to say, that while backslidden from God he still has faith in his word, and believes this doctrine as a Christian doctrine, and upon the strength of the testimony of God. He does not in this state really believe the doctrine, and therefore it is not the tendency of the doctrine when believed that harms him, but a gross abuse and perversion of it. But the perversion of a doctrine is no objection to it. The real tendency of the doctrine is to break the heart of the backslider, to exhibit to him the great love, and faithfulness, and grace of God which tend naturally to subdue selfishness, and to humble the heart. When backsliders are emboldened by this doctrine and rendered presumptuous, it is never by any other than a gross perversion and abuse of it.

But still it is said, that when Christians backslide, they know if this doctrine is true, that they shall not die in a backslidden state, and that, therefore they are naturally rendered presumptuous by it. I answer, that the same objection lies against the doctrine of election, which cannot be denied. Who does not know that sinners and backsliders say, If I am elected, I shall be saved; and if not, I shall be lost? The event is certain at any rate, and if I am to use the means, I shall use the means; and if I am to neglect them, I shall neglect them. If I am one of the elect, I shall not die in sin; and if not, I shall, do what I may. The backslider says, I have been converted, and am therefore one of the elect; for there is no evidence that any of the non-elect are ever converted; but the elect cannot be lost, or will not be lost, at any rate; therefore I shall be reclaimed before I die. Now who does not see that all such refuges are refuges of lies? They are abuses of precious truth. The objection we are considering is based upon an overlooking of the all-important distinction between the natural tendency and the abuse of a doctrine. If this doctrine has a natural tendency to mischief, it must be calculated to mislead a humble, honest, and prayerful mind in search of truth. It must tend to lead a true saint away from, instead of to Christ. The fact that sinners and backsliders, who for the time being are the chief of sinners, will and do abuse and pervert it, is no better reason for rejecting this doctrine, than it is for rejecting the doctrine of atonement, of justification by faith, or the doctrine of the free pardon of the greatest sinners, upon condition of repentance and faith. It is true that no person whom God foresees will be saved, will die in sin. It is true that no elect person will die in sin; and as I believe all true saints are elect, nevertheless, the natural tendency of this doctrine is anything else than to beget presumption in the real saint; but on the contrary, it has a natural and a powerful tendency to impress him with sin subduing views of the infinite love, compassion, faithfulness, and grace of God, and to charm him away from his sins for ever. If by any means he falls into temporary backsliding, he may abuse this, as he may every other doctrine of the gospel; but let it be understood, that he does not believe for the time being one of the doctrines of the gospel. Not believing them, he of course is not injured by their natural tendency, but only by a perverse abuse of them.

As well might a universalist complain, and accuse you of preaching smooth things, and of encouraging sinners to continue in sin, by preaching that the vilest sinner may be forgiven, as for you to object to this doctrine, that backsliders are rendered presumptuous by it.

If one is more liable to abuse than the other, the difference is only in degree and not in kind. The backslider cannot know that he was ever converted; for, as a matter of fact, he has lost communion with God, and has lost the present evidence of acceptance. He does not, therefore, rest in a real belief of this doctrine, but only in a perverse abuse of it.

Those who persist in such objections should reflect upon their own inconsistency, in making a manifest perversion and abuse of this doctrine an objection to it, when they hold other doctrines, equally liable to abuse and equally abused, in spite of such abuse. Let such persons see, that they are practically adopting a principle, and insisting upon its application in this case, which, if carried out, would set aside the whole gospel. They are thus playing into the hands of infidels and universalists, and giving the enemies of God occasion to blaspheme.
I answer, that no true saint who has an evidence or an earnest of his acceptance with God, such as the true saint may have, has a right to doubt for a moment that he shall be saved, nor has he a right to fear, that he shall not be saved. I also add, that the Bible nowhere encourages, or calls upon the saints to fear, that they shall not be saved, or that they shall be lost. It calls on them to fear something else, to fear to sin or apostatize, lest they should be lost, but not that they shall sin and be lost. The following are specimens of the exhortations and warnings given to the saints:--

Matt. xxvi. 41. "Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation; the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak."

Mark xiii. 33: "Take ye heed, watch and pray; for ye know not when the time is. 34. For the Son of Man is as a man taking a far journey, who left his house, and gave authority to his servants, and to every man his work, and commanded the porter to watch. 35. So watch ye therefore; for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at cock-crowing, or in the morning; 36. Lest, coming suddenly, he find you sleeping. 37. And what I say unto you, I say unto all, Watch."

Luke xii. 37: "Blessed are those servants, whom the lord when he cometh, shall find watching; verily I say unto you, That he shall gird himself, and make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them."

1 Cor. x. 12: "Wherefore, let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall."

1 Cor. xix. 13: "Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong."

Eph. v. 15: "See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise. 16. Redeeming the time, because the days are evil."

Eph. vi. 10. "Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of his might. 11. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil."

Phil. i. 27: "Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ; that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel; 28. And in nothing terrified by your adversaries; which is to them an evident token of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that of God."

1 Thess. v. 6. "Therefore, let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober."

1 Tim. vi. 12: "Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses."

2 Tim. ii. 3: "Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ."

2 Tim. iv. 5; "But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry."

1 Pet. iv. 7. "But the end of all things is at hand; be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer."

Matt. x. 22. "And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake; but he that endureth to the end shall be saved."

John xv. 6. "If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned."

Rom. ii. 6: "Who will render to every man according to his deeds; 7. To them who, by patient continuance in well-doing seek for glory, and honour, and immortality, eternal life."

1 Cor. ix. 27: "But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection; lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway."

2 Cor. vi. 1: "We, then, as workers together with him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain."

Col. i. 23: "If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister."

Heb. iii. 6: "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. 12. Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. 13. But exhort one another daily, while it is called, To-day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. 14. For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end."

Heb. iv. 1: "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. 11. Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief."

2 Pet. i. 10: "Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure; for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall."

Rev. ii. 10. "Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer; behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried: and ye shall have tribulation ten days; be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life. 11. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; he that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death. 17. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches: To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth, saving he that receiveth it. 26. And he that overcometh, and keepeth my words unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations."

Rev. xxi. 7: "He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son."

1 Pet. i. 17: "And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man's work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear."

I find no instance in the Bible in which the saints are enjoined or exhorted to fear that they shall actually be lost; but, on the contrary, this kind of fear is everywhere, in the word of God, discountenanced and rebuked, and the saints are exhorted to the utmost assurance that Christ will keep and preserve them to the end, and finally bestow on them eternal life. They are warned against sin and apostacy, and are informed that if they do apostatize they shall be lost. They are expressly informed, that their salvation is conditioned upon their perseverance in holiness to the end. They are also called upon to watch against sin and apostacy; to fear both, lest they should be lost.

Heb. iv. 1: "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."

Heb. vi. 1: "Therefore, leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God. 2. Of the doctrine of baptism, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. 3. And this will we do, if God permit. 4. For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost; 5. And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, 6. 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."

Heb. iii. 12: "Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. 13. But exhort one another daily, while it is called to day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. 14. For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end."

They are required to fear to sin, but not to fear that they shall sin in any sense that implies any expectation of sinning. They are to fear to apostatize, but not to expect, or fear that they shall apostatize. They are to fear to be lost, but not that they shall be lost. To fear to sin lest we should be lost, is a very different thing from fearing that we shall sin and shall be lost. There is just as much need of our fearing to sin, and of fearing to be lost, as there would be if there were no certainty of our salvation. When we consider the nature of the certainty of the salvation of the saints, that it is only a moral and conditional certainty we can see the propriety and the necessity of the warnings and threatenings which we find addressed to them in the Bible. The language of the Bible is just what it might be expected to be, in case the salvation of the saints were certain, with a moral and conditional certainty.

But in replying to this objection, it is important to ascertain the meaning of the terms used by the objector. I will first show what there is not, and what there is, implied in the term danger:--

(1.) We have seen that all events are really certain by some kind of certainty. Danger, then, cannot imply that there is any real uncertainty in respect to that of which we predicate danger; for this cannot truly be said of any event whatever. It will be in some way, and it is beforehand as really certain how it will be, as it is after it has occurred. Danger, then, does not imply real uncertainty.

(2.) We generally use the term as implying uncertainty as it respects our knowledge of how the event will be; that is, we predicate danger of that of which we are not certain how it will turn out to be. We generally use the term as implying that we regard the result as uncertain, and that there is at least a possibility, and even a probability, that it may turn out differently from what we would have it. The term, then, does not imply real, but only to us an apparent uncertainty. This is commonly implied in the term "danger," as we use it.

(3.) But the term does not always and necessarily imply, that we are uncertain in respect to the event of which we predicate danger. If a thing may fail by natural possibility; if, moreover, the result is suspended on the action of free-will; and if, humanly speaking, and judging of the probability of the result from the usual course of events, there are seen to be many chances to one against it; and if from the nature of the event nothing can make it certain, or secure its occurrence, but the most strenuous care and watchfulness and effort on the part of those whose agency is to be employed in its production; and if, moreover, it is understood, that those concerned will have many temptations to take a course that would, if taken, defeat it; to each of which temptations the agent can yield with the greatest ease, and no compulsion will be used to prevent his yielding;--I say, when there is a concurrence of such facts and circumstances, we should say that there was danger, even if the result were a revealed certainty. There is in this case, in truth, as real and as much danger of failure, as there is that any event whatever will be different from what it in fact turns out to be; and considering the nature of the certainty, and the multitude of apparent contingencies upon which the result is suspended; and, humanly speaking, the many chances to one against its occurrence, we should in such a case say there is danger, and could not but feel a sense of danger, although we knew that the result was certain. For example, suppose a man about to cross the Niagara river upon a wire just over the falls, and suppose it to be revealed to him and to the world that he should cross in safety; but suppose it to be revealed also that he is not to be preserved by a miracle, but that his safety is to depend upon his own skill, prudence, and efforts, and the fact revealed to be simply that he will so behave as to cross in safety. Now all would say and feel that there was danger in this case, although they might have the fullest confidence in the result. The danger is as real, in this case, as if the certainty were not revealed; and considering the multitude of chances of failure, we should feel, and say that there is danger, notwithstanding the revealed certainty. If the certainty were absolute, or were that of necessity, we should not say or feel that there was danger. But when the certainty is understood to be only a moral one, we should as properly say that there was danger, as if the certainty, though real, were not revealed. By danger, then, we mean to express, not a real, but only an apparent uncertainty, and a human probability, or at least a natural possibility, that an event may turn out otherwise than we desire. We do not always and necessarily mean that the event is uncertain to us, but that humanly speaking, and judging from the ordinary course of events, it is possible or probable that it may not occur as we would have it; and that nothing can render it certain but care, and watchfulness, and diligence, and perseverance on the part of him or them upon whose agency the event is suspended.

But this objection assumes a false philosophy of mind. It assumes that fear is out of place and impossible, except when there is at least supposed uncertainty. It is said that fear is an emotion that always implies real or apprehended danger in the sense of uncertainty.

It is asserted, that the emotion of fear cannot exist but upon condition that the subject does not regard himself as safe, or that he does not regard the interest or thing safe, concerning which fear is excited; but this is a mistake. It is true that fear is more readily excited when there is no accredited certainty in regard to the safety of the thing or interest concerning which the fear is excited; and it is also true, that this kind of fear tends, by reason of its strength and from its nature, very strongly to selfish efforts to escape from apprehended danger. It is also true, that fear may be and often is excited, when there is no accredited uncertainty, and no apprehended danger, in the sense of uncertainty in regard to the safety of self, or of the interest or thing respecting which the fear is excited. For example, place an individual upon the verge of a precipice, beneath which yawns a gulph of frightful depth, and withal chain him fast so that he knows that to fall is impossible, and yet his fears will be excited. An emotion of fear will arise in spite of himself. Webster quotes Rogers's definition of fear, thus: "Fear is that passion of our nature which excites us to provide for our security on the approach of evil." But this, as we shall see, is saying only half the truth. "Fear," Webster says, "expresses less apprehension than dread, and dread less than terror, and terror less than flight. The force of this passion beginning with the most moderate degree may be thus expressed: Fear, dread, terror, fright." He says again, "Fear in scripture is used to express a filial, or a slavish passion. In good men, the fear of God is a holy awe, or reverence of God and of his laws, which springs from a just view and real love of the divine character, leading the subjects of it to hate and shun everything that can offend such a holy being. Slavish fear is the effect or consequence of guilt: it is the painful apprehension of merited punishment." Every one knows that these two kinds of fear are frequently spoken of in the Bible. Fear does not necessarily imply an apprehension of real danger. For example, to return to the individual upon the verge of the precipice: here, although there is a known natural impossibility of falling, and of course no apprehension of danger, in the sense of uncertainty, yet who does not perceive, that even more than simple fear would, at least in many cases, be excited? To look down, even if certain of not falling, would excite in many minds a degree of dread, and even of terror, that would be almost unendurable. Few individuals could be found, in whom the emotion of fear, and even of terror would not, under such circumstances, be awakened. It is a great mistake to suppose that this emotion cannot exist, except where there is real or apprehended danger in the sense of uncertainty. Who, for example, cannot conceive, and who that has considered the matter does not admit, that a view of the torments of the damned may, and doubtless will, excite a wholesome fear and dread of sin in the inhabitants of heaven? The witnessing of anything terrible in its nature tends to awaken the emotion of fear or terror, whether we regard ourselves as exposed to it or not. Much more is this true, when we know that the evil is naturally possible to us, and that nothing but care and watchfulness on our part, prevents its actually coming upon us. Now, although we are certain, that we shall not fall from a precipice upon which we stand, yet a view of so terrible an object awakens the corresponding emotions at once. Instead of saying that fear is an emotion that is awakened only by an apprehension of real danger, it were more in accordance with truth to say, that it is an emotion that is awakened when its correlated object is present to the thoughts; and its correlated object is anything whatever that is fearful, or dreadful, or terrible in its nature, whether we regard ourselves as really exposed to it in the sense of uncertainty or not. Thus, should we stand on the shore and witness a shipwreck, or be within hearing of a battle, or witness the rush of a distant tornado, as it spreads its wings of desolation over a country or a city, and in a direction that forbids the possibility of injury to us, the emotion of fear, and even of terror, in such cases would be awakened, even if we were sure that no real harm would result to any being whatever. All the emotions have their correlated objects; and it is a great mistake to say, that the presence of these objects does not awaken them, except upon condition that our own interest, or the interest of some one else, is to be affected thereby. Objects naturally lovely, when presented to the mind, naturally awaken corresponding emotions. Objects of beauty and deformity, of desire, and of terror, naturally awaken their corresponding emotions, wholly irrespective of any apprehended pleasure or pain to be derived from them. But surely I need not enter into a further statement or illustration of a fact of universal consciousness. The affirmation that fear is correlated only to real or apprehended danger, in the sense of uncertainty, and not at all to objects naturally fearful or terrible, irrespective of apprehended danger, is so palpable a contradiction of human consciousness, that few reflecting minds can fail to perceive it.

Again: the sanctions of law have and even in heaven will and must have, their appropriate influence. But what is their appropriate influence? These sanctions are remuneratory and vindicatory, as we have formerly seen. They present all that is naturally desirable as the reward of virtue. They hold forth all that is dreadful and terrible as the reward of sin. The contemplation of these sanctions naturally begets their correlated emotions in all worlds and at all times. The inhabitants of hell no doubt have their desires awakened by a contemplation of the happiness of heaven, while the inhabitants of heaven have their pity, their fears, their dread awakened in view of the torments of hell, and in neither case is it in view of any apprehended uncertainty. The inhabitants of hell know that the joys of heaven are certainly never to be theirs, and the inhabitants of heaven know that the miseries of hell are never to be theirs. Nevertheless, the emotions respond to their correlated objects in both worlds, and no doubt will as long as mind exists.

Sin is a hateful, and a fearful, and a terrible thing. The wrath of an offended God is infinitely terrible in its nature. Endless torments are unspeakably fearful and terrible. The flaming penalty of the divine law is an object of infinite terror. These things are so correlated to the constitution of moral agents, as naturally to excite their corresponding emotions, entirely irrespective of any apprehended personal danger. When added to this tendency that results from the nature and correlations of those objects, there is a sense of uncertainty in regard to our personal safety, the contemplation of these objects causes intense agony. A certainty of personal security relieves the agony, but it does not cause the emotion of fear, and awe, and dread, wholly to subside. Enough remains to fix the attention, and to act as a safeguard against presumption, in cases where there is a natural possibility of the evil we fear becoming ours. What a mistake in psychology to affirm, that fear cannot exist unless it be excited by a belief of personal danger, in the sense of uncertainty in respect to whether the evil shall come upon us. I say again, that the emotion is correlated to its object, and is not dependent upon an apprehension of personal danger, as every one knows. When the apprehension of personal danger is added, the excitement of the emotion is greatly and painfully aggravated. And on the other hand, the emotion is modified and softened by a sense and certainty of personal security. But still the emotion in a modified and softened form will exist so long as an object, fearful and terrible in its nature, is made the object of contemplation.

In this life, time, and habit, and reflection, may cause emotions of fear to cease, even in the presence of a fearful object, as in the case of the supposed precipice. Continuing for a long time to look upon precisely the same object, and considering that there was and could be no danger, in the sense of uncertainty, and familiarizing the mind to this contemplation, might in time cause the sensible emotions of fear to cease. The same would be true of any other emotion, such as an emotion of love, or a sense of beauty, or deformity, &c. This would occur where the object contemplated presented no new attractions on the one hand, or repulsions or terrors on the other. But suppose the more the object was contemplated, the more it developed its beauties, its deformities, or its terrors to the mind. In this case, the emotions corresponding would never cease. This is precisely the case with the sanctions of moral law, with the wrath and the love of God, with the joys of heaven and the pains of hell. These objects will never lose their influence for the want of novelty. They will never cease to beget their correlated emotions, for the reason that they will be ever new in the sense of always presenting to the gaze of intelligent beings, more to desire on the one hand, and more to fear and dread on the other.

But again: we see that this objection is based upon a gross error in respect to the philosophy of moral government. Moral law exists with its sanctions as really in heaven as on earth, and its sanctions have in heaven the very influence that they ought to have on earth. It is as true in heaven as on earth, that the soul that sinneth shall die. Now, can the sanctions of law exert no influence in heaven? I suppose no reasonable person will doubt the certainty, and the known certainty of the perseverance of all saints there. But if they are certain that they shall not sin and fall, can they not be the subjects of fear in any sense? I answer, yes. They are naturally able to sin, and may be sometimes placed under circumstances where they are tempted to selfishness. Indeed, the very nature of mind renders it certain, that the saints will always have need of watchfulness against temptation and sin.

Now, it is the design of the sanctions of law in all worlds to produce hope on the one hand, and fear on the other; in holy beings the hope of reward, and the fear to sin lest they should perish. This hope and fear in a being duly influenced by them, is not selfishness. It is madness and desperate wickedness not to be influenced by them. Our reason affirms that we ought to be influenced by them, that our own salvation is of infinite value, and that our damnation were an infinite evil. It therefore affirms that we ought to secure the one and to avoid the other. This is law both on earth and in heaven. This we are not to do selfishly, that is, to seek our own salvation, or to avoid our own damnation, exclusively or only, but to seek to save as many as possible; to love our neighbour as ourselves, and ourselves as our neighbour. In all worlds the sanctions of law ought to have their influence, and with holy beings they have. Holy beings are really subjects of fear, to sin, and to be lost, and are the only beings who have the kind of fear which God requires, and which it is the design of the sanctions of law and of the gospel to inspire. What! are we to be told that a certainty of safety is wholly inconsistent with every kind and degree of fear? What, then, is the use of law in heaven? Must a man on earth or in heaven doubt whether he shall have eternal life, in order to leave room for the influence of moral law, and of hope, and of fear? or in order to leave play for the motives of moral government? There is room for the same fear in heaven that ought to be on earth. No one had a right to expect to violate the precept, and thereby incur the penalty of law. But every one was bound to fear to do so. The penalty was never designed on earth, any more than it is in heaven, to beget a slavish fear, or a fear that we shall sin and be damned; but only a fear to sin and be damned. A fear to sin and to be lost, will, to all eternity, no doubt, be a means of confirming holy beings in heaven. The law will be the same there as here. Free agency will be the same there as here. Perseverance in holiness will be a condition of continued salvation there as really as here. There may, and doubtless will be, temptations there as well as here. They will, therefore, need there substantially the same motives to keep them that they need and have here. There will there be laws and conditions of continued bliss as here. There will be the same place, and in kind, if not in degree, the same occasion for fear there that there is here. I say again, that the objection we are considering, overlooks both the true philosophy of mind, and of the influence of the sanctions of moral law.

The objection we are considering is based upon the assumption that warnings, exhortation to fear, &c., are inconsistent with the revealed certainty of the salvation of the saints. But does not the Bible furnish abundant instances of warning in cases where the result is revealed as certain? The case of Paul's shipwreck is in point. This case has been once alluded to, but I recur to it for the sake of illustration in this place. God, by Paul, revealed the fact, that no life on board the ship should be lost. This he declared as a fact, without any revealed qualification or condition. But when the sailors, who alone knew how to manage the ship, were about to abandon her, Paul informs them that their abiding in the ship was a condition of their salvation from death. The means were really as certain as the end; yet the end was conditionated upon the means, and if the means failed, the end would fail. Therefore Paul appealed to their fears of death to secure them against neglecting the means of safety. He did not intend to excite in them a distrust of the promise of God, but only to apprise them of the conditional nature of the certainty of their safety which had been revealed to them, and thus cause them at once to fear to neglect the means, and to confide in the certainty of safety in the diligent use of them. But this is a case, be it understood, directly in point, and by itself affords a full answer to the objection under consideration. It is a case where a revealed certainty of the event was entirely consistent with warning and threatening. Nay, it is a case where the certainty, though real, was dependent upon the warning and threatening, and the consequent fear to neglect the means. This case is a full illustration of the revealed certainty of the ultimate salvation of the saints; and were there no other case in the Bible where warning and threatening are addressed to those whose safety is revealed, this case would be a full answer to the assertion, that warnings and threatenings are inconsistent with revealed certainty. Paul feared to have the means of safety neglected, but he did not fear that they really would be, because he knew that they would not.

To the pertinency of this case as an illustration, it is objected, that the prophet pronounced the destruction of Nineveh in forty days to be certain, as really as Paul in this case revealed the certainty of the safety of all on board the ship; therefore, it is contended that Paul did not intend to reveal the result as certain, because when a revelation was made respecting the destruction of Nineveh, in just as unqualified terms, the event showed that it was not certain. To this I reply, that in the case of Jonah, it is manifest from the whole narrative that neither Jonah nor the Ninevites understood the event as unconditionally certain. Jonah expressly assigned to God his knowledge of the uncertainty of the event, as an excuse for not delivering his message. So the people themselves understood, that the event might not be certain, as their conduct abundantly shows. The difference in the two cases is just this: one was a real and a revealed certainty, and the other was neither. Why then should this case be adduced as setting aside that of the shipwreck? But it is said, that no condition was revealed in the one case more than in the other. Now so far as the history is recorded, no mention is made in the case of Nineveh, that Jonah intimated that there was any condition upon which the destruction of the city could be avoided: yet it is plain, that both Jonah and the Ninevites understood the threatening to be conditional, in the sense of the events being uncertain. Jonah himself did not expect it with much certainty. But in the case of Paul, he expressly affirms, that he believed God that it should be as he had declared, that there should be the loss of no man's life, and he encouraged them to believe the same thing. Paul understood the end to be certain, though he knew, and soon informed them, that the certainty was a moral one, and conditioned upon the diligent use of means. The two cases are by no means parallel. It is true that Nineveh would have been destroyed, had they not used the appropriate means to prevent it; and the same is true of the ship's crew; and it is also true that, in both cases, it was really certain that the means would not be neglected; yet, in one case, the certainty was really understood to be revealed, and was believed in, and not in the other. Now observe, the point to be illustrated by reference to this case of shipwreck. It is just this: Can a man have any fear, and can there be ground and need of caution and fear, where there is a real and revealed, and believed or knowing certainty? The objection I am answering is, that, if the salvation of the saints is certain, and revealed as such, and is believed to be certain, there is then no ground of fear, and no necessity or room for warning, threatening, &c. But this case of shipwreck is one in which all these things meet.

(1.) The event was certain, and of course the conditions were sure to be fulfilled.

(2.) The certainty was revealed.

(3.) It was believed. Yet,

(4.) There was warning, and threatening, and fear to neglect the means. But these things did not all meet in the case of Jonah and the Ninevites. In this case,

((1.)) It was not certain that the city would be destroyed.

((2.)) It was not understood to be revealed as certain.

((3.)) It was not believed to be certain.

Why, then, I ask again, should these cases be taken as parallels? Paul's case is conclusive for the purpose for which it is cited, to wit, as being an instance in which there was:

(((1.))) Certainty.

(((2.))) Revealed certainty.

(((3.))) Believed certainty.

(((4.))) Threatening and warning.

(((5.))) Fear to neglect the means. It follows that threatenings, and warnings, and fears, are consistent with revealed and believed certainty. This strikes out the foundation of the objection.

This lecture was given to us by Dennis Carroll.



Again, Paul repeatedly speaks of his own salvation as certain, and yet in a manner that conditionates it upon his perseverance in faith and obedience to the end. He says;

Philip. i. 19: "For I know that this shall turn to my salvation through your prayer, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ. 25. And having this confidence, I know that I shall abide and continue with you all, for your furtherance and joy of faith."

2 Tim. iv. 18: "And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom: to whom be glory for ever and ever."

In this place it is plain, that he regarded his perseverance and ultimate salvation, by and through the grace of God, as certain. Paul everywhere, as every attentive reader of the Bible knows, renounces all hope but in the indwelling grace and Spirit of Christ. Still he felt confident of his salvation. But if he had no confidence in himself, on what was his confidence based? Again:

2 Tim. i. 12: "For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed; for 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."

Here again Paul expresses the fullest confidence of his own salvation. He did not merely intend to say that Christ was able, if he was disposed, to keep that which he had committed to him, but he assumed his willingness and asserted his ability, as the ground of his confidence. That he here expressed entire confidence in his ultimate salvation, cannot reasonably be doubted. He did not say that he was persuaded that Christ was able to save him, if he persevered; but his confidence was founded in the fact, that Christ was able to secure his perseverance. It was because he was persuaded that Christ was able to keep him, that he had any assurance, and I might add even hope, of his own salvation. The same reason he assigned as the ground of confidence that others would be saved. To the Thessalonians he says, 2 Thess. iii. 3: "But the Lord is faithful, who shall establish you, and keep you from evil." Again, Jude says, ver. 24: "Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy." Again, Peter says, of all the elect or saints, 1 Peter i. 5: "Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation, ready to be revealed in the last time." Thus we see, that the ground of confidence with the apostles was, that God and Christ could and would keep them, not without their own efforts, but that he would induce them to be faithful, and so secure this result. The same was true of Christ, as is manifested in his last prayer for them. John xvii. 15, 16: "I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world." But the apostles frequently express their confidence, both in the certainty of their own salvation, and also in the salvation of those to whom they wrote. Paul says, 1 Cor. ix. 26, 27: "I therefore so run, not as uncertainly, so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a cast away." Here he expresses the fullest confidence that he shall win the crown, but at the same time recognizes the condition of his salvation, and informs us that he took care to fulfil it, lest he should be a cast away. He says, verse 26: "I therefore so run, not as uncertainly, so fight I, not as one who beateth the air." He alludes to the Olympic games, and in this connexion says, verses 24 and 25: "Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown, but we an incorruptible." He then adds, verse 26 and 27, "I therefore so run, not as uncertainly, so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection; lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a cast away."

Of those who ran in these games, but one could win the prize. But not so in the Christian race: here all might win. In those games, because but one could possibly win, there was much uncertainty in respect to whether any one in particular could win the prize. In the Christian race there was no need of any such uncertainty. As it respected himself he says, verse 26: "I therefore so run, not as uncertainly, so fight I, not as one that beateth the air:" that is, I do not run with any uncertainty or irresolution, because of uncertainty in respect to whether I shall win the prize. Nor do I fight as one that beateth the air, or as one who fights uncertainly or in vain; but while I have this confidence, as a condition of this confidence, I keep under my body. It has been denied that Paul intended to express a confidence in his salvation in this place; but this cannot be reasonably denied. He was speaking in this connexion of the Christian race, and of the conditions of winning the victor's crown. He affirms that there was no real uncertainty whether he should win the crown. In the Olympic games there was uncertainty, because but one could win; but here no such ground of uncertainty existed; and, moreover, with him there was no real uncertainty at all, while at the same time he understood the conditional nature of the certainty, and kept under his body, &c. Can any one suppose that Paul really had any doubt in regard to his own ultimate salvation? Now observe, these passages in respect to Paul are not adduced to prove that all saints will be saved; nor that, if Paul was sure of his salvation, therefore all saints may be. To prove this is not my present design, but simply to show, that while Paul was sure, and had no doubt of his ultimate salvation, he yet feared to neglect the means. He was not disheartened in the Christian race, with a sense of uncertainty, as they who ran in the Olympic games. He was not, as they might be, irresolute on account of their great uncertainty of winning. He expected to win, and yet be dared not neglect the conditions of winning. Nay, he expected to win, because he expected to fulfil the conditions; and he expected to fulfil the conditions, not because he had any confidence in himself, but because he confided in the grace and Spirit of God to secure his perseverance. Nevertheless, he kept under his body, and feared self-indulgence, lest he should be a cast away.

Paul affirms of the Thessalonians, that he knew their election of God. 1 Thess. i. 14: "Knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God." In both his epistles to this church, he often speaks of them in a manner that implies, that he regarded their salvation as certain, and yet he also frequently warns and exhorts them to faithfulness, and to guard against being deceived by false teachers, &c. 2 Thess. ii. 1-3: "Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, that ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. Let no man deceive you by any means; for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition." He addresses the same strain of exhortation to them that he does to all Christians, and plies them with admonition and warning, just as might be expected, considering the moral and conditional nature of the certainty of their salvation.

In writing to the Philippians, he says, Phil. i. 6, 7: "Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you, will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ. Even as it is meet for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart; inasmuch as both in my bonds, and in the defence and confirmation of the gospel, ye are all partakers of my grace." Here he expresses the confidence of an inspired apostle, that Christ would secure their salvation. But yet in the 2d chapter, 12th and 13th verses, he says: "Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, 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." Here he warns them to work out their salvation with fear and trembling. There is no stronger passage than this, where the saints are exhorted to fear; and mark, this is addressed to the very persons of whom he had just said, 1, 6: "Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you, will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ." Almost at the same breath he expresses the confidence of an inspired apostle, that he who had begun a good work in them would carry it on until the day of Jesus Christ; that is, that he would surely save them; and at the same time exhorts them to "work out their salvation with fear and trembling." He did not express confidence that they would persevere, except their perseverance was secured by Christ, but that Christ would carry on the work he had begun. Paul also addresses the church at Ephesus as follows:--

Eph. i. 1: "Paul an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus. 2. Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ. 3. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ. 4. According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy, and without blame before him in love. 5. Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will. 6. To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the Beloved. 7. In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace. 8. Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence. 9. Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself. 10. That in the dispensation of the fulness of times, he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth, even in him. 11. In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will. 12. That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ."

Now, let any one read the epistle through, and he will find, that these same elect persons are addressed throughout with precept, exhortation, and warning, just as all other saints are throughout the Bible. To quote the instances of this were only to quote much of the epistle. Indeed this is the common usage of the inspired writers, to address the saints as the elect of God, as persons whose salvation was secure as a matter of fact, but whose salvation was after all conditionated upon their perseverance in holiness; and they hence proceed to warn, admonish, and exhort them, just as we might expect when we consider the nature of the certainty of which they were speaking.

But if it be still urged, that the fact of election is not revealed in any case to the individuals who compose the elect; that if the fact of election were revealed to any one, to him threatenings and warnings would be out of place; I reply, that this is only saying, that if certainty is revealed as such at any time, and in respect to anything, then warnings, and threatenings, and fears, are wholly out of place. But this is not true, as we have seen in the case of the shipwreck. Here the certainty was revealed to the individuals concerned, and accredited. Christ also revealed to his apostles the fact of their election, as we have seen, also to Paul. Can any one reasonably call in question the fact, that the apostles understood well their election of God, not only to the apostleship, but also to eternal life? John directs one of his epistles as follows: "The elder to the elect lady and her children." Observe again, what Paul says in writing to the church at Ephesus, in the passage which has just been quoted.

Here he expressly recognizes himself as one of the elect, as he does elsewhere, and as the apostles always do, directly or by way of implication, and yet Paul and the other apostles did not feel that warning, and watchfulness, and fear to sin were at all out of place with them.

Job speaks as if the certainty of his salvation had been revealed to him. He says:

Job xix. 25: "For I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: 26. And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: 27. Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me."

Can any one suppose that Job regarded threatenings, and warnings, and fear to sin, as out of place with him?

It is generally admitted, that there is such a thing as the full assurance of faith or hope, or as attaining to the certain knowledge that salvation is secure to us. But would a saint who has made this attainment be less affected than others by all the threatenings, and warnings, and exhortations to fear, found in the Bible? Would such souls cease to tremble at the word of God? Would they cease to pass their time of sojourning here with fear? Would they cease to "work out their salvation with fear and trembling?" Would God no longer regard them as belonging to the class of persons mentioned in Isa. lxvi. 1: "For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the Lord: but to this man will I look, even to him that is of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word."

Christ prayed for the salvation of his apostles, in their presence, in such a manner as to leave no room for them to doubt their ultimate salvation, if they expected his prayers to be answered. He did the same with respect to all that should believe on him through their word. Now will you affirm, that they who are conscious of believing in Jesus, must cease to have confidence in the efficacy of his prayers, before they can feel the power, and propriety, and influence of warnings, and threatenings, and the various motives that are addressed to the elect of God to preserve them from falling? The supposition is preposterous. What! must we doubt the efficacy of his prayers, in order to credit and appreciate the force of his warnings? In fact, the more holy any one is, and the more certain he is of his eternal salvation, the more does sin become an object of loathing, of fear, and even of terror, to him. The more holy he is, the more readily he trembles at the word of God, and the more sensibly and easily he is affected by a contemplation of sin and divine wrath, the more awful and terrible these things appear to him, and the more solemnly do they affect him, although he has the fullest assurance that he shall never taste of either sin or hell. It is true, indeed, as we shall have occasion to remark hereafter, that in general, the Bible assumes that individuals are not sure of their salvation, and upon that assumption proceeds to warn them.

But still it is insisted that, if the end is certain, so are the means; and if one is revealed as certain, so is the other; and that therefore it is absurd, and implies unbelief, to fear that we shall neglect the means, or that either the end or means will fail. But as we have said, to fear to neglect the means, and to fear that we shall neglect them, are not the same. We are naturally able to neglect them, and there is just as much real danger of our neglecting them, as there would be if no revelation were made about it, unless the revelation of the certainty of their use be a means of securing the use of them. We are therefore to fear to neglect them. There is, in fact, as much real danger of our neglecting the means of our salvation, as there is that any event whatever will be different from what it turns out to be. There is no more real danger in one case than in the other; but in one case the certainty is revealed, and in the other not. Therefore, when the certainty is not revealed, it is reasonable to fear that the event will not be as we desire, and as it ought to be. But in the other,--that is, when the certainty is revealed, we have no right to fear that it will be otherwise than as revealed, nor to fear that the means will in fact be neglected; but in all such cases we should fear to neglect the means, as really and as much, as if no revelation of certainty had been made: just as Paul did in the case of his shipwreck.

Again: it is inquired, are we not to fear that any of the saints will be lost, and pray for them under the influence of this fear? I answer, no. The saints are the elect. None of God's elect will be lost. We are to pray for them as Christ prayed for his apostles, and as he prayed for all believers, not with the fear that they will be lost, for this were praying in unbelief; but we are to pray for all persons known to be saints, that they may persevere unto the end and be saved, with confidence that our prayer will be answered. But it is said, that Paul expressed doubts in regard to the salvation of the churches in Galatia. I answer, that he expressed no doubt in respect to their ultimate salvation; he says, "I desire to be present with you now, and to change my voice; for I stand in doubt of you." Gal. iv. 20. In the margin it reads, "I am perplexed for you." He says in the next chapter: "I have confidence in you through the Lord, that ye will be none otherwise minded; but he that troubleth you shall bear his judgment, whosoever he be." Gal. v. 10. Paul set himself zealously to reclaim these churches from error, and expresses full confidence of the result; and no where, that I see, intimates, that he doubted whether they would finally be saved.

But it is said still, that if the salvation of all the saints is secured, and this certainty is revealed, there is no real danger of their either neglecting the necessary means, or of their being lost, and therefore warnings, and threatenings, and fears are vain; and that the certainty being granted, it is irrational and impossible to fear, without doubting the truth of God; that certainty is certainty, and it matters not at all of what kind the certainty is; that if it be granted that the event is certain, all danger, and of course all cause of fear, is out of the question.

To this form of the objection I reply, that it proceeds upon the assumption, that there is no danger of the saints' falling, if God has revealed the certainty of their ultimate salvation. But what do we mean by danger? It has already been said, that all events are certain, in the sense that it is and was from eternity as really certain that they will be, and how they will be; and that all their circumstances and conditions are, and eternally were, as certain, as they ever will be. So that there never is any real danger, in the sense of uncertainty, that any event will be otherwise than it turns out in fact to be. By danger, then, is not meant that there is really any uncertainty in respect to how anything will be. But all that can properly be intended by danger is, that there is a natural possibility, and, humanly speaking, a probability, that it may be otherwise than as we desire; that this is probable in the sense that there is, humanly speaking, from the circumstances of the case, and so far as we can judge, from the course of events, a probability that a thing may not occur as we would have it.

Now, a natural possibility always exists in respect to the falling and final destruction of the saints; and in most cases at least, the circumstances are such, that humanly speaking, and aside from the grace of God, there is not only real danger, but a certainty that they will fail of eternal life. There are, humanly speaking, many chances to one that they will fall and be lost. Now, this danger is as real as if nothing of certainty had been revealed. The event would have been as certain without the revelation of the certainty as with it, unless it be true, which I suppose in many cases is the fact, that the revelation of the certainty helps to secure their perseverance.

But again: the objection overlooks the nature of the certainty, and erroneously assumes that nothing depends upon its nature, when, in fact, everything depends upon its nature. If it were a certainty of necessity, then there could be no danger, because no possibility of being otherwise. In this case, warnings, expostulations, threatenings, exhortations to fear, &c., would be out of place and mere trifling; but since the certainty is but a certainty of liberty, or a moral certainty, and one that is conditionated upon our own free acts, and upon the influence of those warnings which are found in the Bible, as well as upon the influence of those fears to sin to which we are exhorted;--I say, since the nature of the certainty is such as to be conditionated upon these influences, it is preposterous to say that nothing depends upon the nature of the certainty; for it is manifest that the entire event may be dependent, and turn upon the nature, and an understanding of the nature of the certainty. When the nature of the certainty is understood, it is entirely rational and necessary to fear to sin, lest thereby we should lose our souls. For be it remembered, we are able to apostatize, and should we do so, we must be lost. It is no answer to say, that it is a revealed certainty that we shall persevere, and not be lost, for the certainty that we shall not be lost is no greater than that we shall not apostatize, and we are naturally able to apostatize. The certainty that we shall be saved, is no greater than that we shall persevere to the end. If, then, we do not persevere, but apostatize, we shall assuredly be lost. Fear to sin and apostatize, fear to neglect perseverance, is just as rational as if the certainty of the event were not revealed. Perseverance in holiness will no doubt be a condition of the abiding of the saints in heaven; and, since they will be free, and there will be a natural possibility of falling or of sinning, they will then fear to sin.

But it is said, that "perfect love casteth out fear." True, but what kind of fear does love cast out? I answer, the "fear that hath torment." It casts out the fear of hell, that is, of actually going to hell; but it does not cast out the fear of God, nor the fear of sin, but begets both. Love casts out the fear that we shall be lost, but not a fear to be lost. It cast out the fear that we shall apostatize, but begets a fear to apostatize. The place for fear in the saints is in the presence of temptation. When enticed or tempted to sin, a salutary fear and dread of sin and of its consequences is aroused, and the soul recoils from the temptation as from death and hell. Let it not be said, then, that if a thing is certain, it is certain, and it matters not by what kind of certainty; for there is in no case of real, known certainty, any rational ground of fear. Such things are loosely said. Both the kind of certainty, and the kind of fear are here overlooked. It is true that, in this case, there is no rational ground to fear that either the end or the means will actually fail; but there is just as rational a ground to fear to neglect the means, as if no certainty whatever were revealed. There is no more room for presumption in one case than in the other. In both cases to neglect the conditions is possible; and in our circumstances, extremely natural and easy, and even certain, but for the preventing grace of God. This neglect would in either case prove fatal.

The temptations to neglect are alike in both cases: there are therefore equally rational grounds of fear to neglect the conditions in both cases. There are not, it is true, equal grounds to fear in both cases that we really shall neglect these conditions, but there are equal grounds to fear to neglect them. A fear that we shall really neglect them is not salutary. But a fear to neglect them is highly so. A fear that we shall neglect them, and that we shall be lost, tends strongly to selfishness, because it does not imply nor consist with confidence that we shall be preserved and saved. But a fear to sin, to offend God, to be lost, is consistent with a confidence that we shall be preserved and saved, and does not therefore tend to selfishness in efforts to escape damnation, at least not to the same extent. The right kind of fear tends to liberty and to life. The wrong kind of fear gendereth to bondage and to death.

But it is said again, that fear implies a sense of danger, which it is said is impossible, when we know the certainty. I answer again, that fear to sin does imply a sense of the danger of sinning, and there is reason to have this sense of danger, when there is, in fact, all the real danger that there is in any case whatever, that any event may be different from what it turns out to be. As I have said, a sense of danger is possible and reasonable when failure is possible, and when the event is conditioned, not only upon free acts, but also upon the greatest watchfulness and perseverance on our part. The danger is so real, and the sense of danger is so reasonable in this case, that although the event is certain, yet it is conditioned upon this sense of danger. Were not the danger as real as in cases where no certainty had been revealed, and were there not a sense of danger, the result might fail. But the fact, that there is as real a danger of the damnation of the saints as there is that any event may turn out to be different from what in fact it will be; and the fact that the saints have a sense of this danger, and understand the conditional and moral nature of this certainty, are conditions of the certainty of their salvation, and tend to make it certain. Surely this is extremely plain; For example, let us suppose again that a man is about to venture down Niagara Falls in a bark canoe. It is revealed to him that he shall go down safely, but at the same time it is also revealed that he is not to be preserved from death by a miracle, but on the contrary that he must, as a condition, exert all his skill, and avoid everything that tends to procure a failure, and omit nothing that is essential to his descending safely without a miracle; that the event, though certain, is conditioned upon the right and persevering exercise of his own agency, and that although it is sure, and he may rest in the assurance, that both the means and the end are certain, and that neither of these will fail; yet to defeat the end by the neglect of the means is within his power; that he will meet with great temptations to neglect the means--temptations to presumption on the one hand, and to unbelief and despair on the other; temptations to levity, or to despondency; to innumerable neglects and wanderings of attention, and such-like things, which, if not guarded against will prove his destruction. Now who cannot see in this case the propriety and necessity of both the assurance, and the warnings, and the place for the salutary influence of a fear to neglect the necessary means? This I regard as a fair illustration of a revealed certainty of the perseverance of the saints, in the sense under consideration.

But thus far I have replied to the objections upon the assumption, that the certainty of the salvation of the saints is revealed, in the sense that individual saints may know the certainty of their own salvation. I have shown, as I trust, that admitting this to be true, yet the nature of the certainty leaves abundant room for the influence of a wholesome sense of danger, and for the feeling of hope and fear. But the fact is, that in but few cases comparatively does it appear, that the certainty is revealed to the individuals as such. The salvation of all true saints is revealed, as we have seen, and the characteristics of true saints are revealed in the Bible. So that it is possible for individual saints to possess a comfortable assurance of salvation, upon the knowledge that they are saints. And as was shown, it is doubtless true that in some cases, in the days of inspiration, and not improbably in some cases since the Bible was complete, individuals have had a direct revelation by the Holy Spirit that they were saints, and accepted of God.

But in the great majority of cases in all time hitherto, the saints have had no personal and clear revelation of their being saints, and no evidence of it, except what they gather from an experience that in their view accords with the Bible description of the character of the saints. When Peter addressed his epistles to the elect saints, for example, although he regarded the elect as certain of salvation, yet he did not distinguish and address individuals by name; but left it for them to be satisfied of their own election and saintship, by their own consciousness of possessing the character that belongs to the saints. He did not reveal to any one in particular the fact of his own election. This was for the most part true of all the letters written to the churches. Although they were addressed as a body, as elect, and as saints, yet from this they were not to infer, that they were all saints or elect, but were to learn that fact, and who were real saints, from their conscious character.

We have seen, in another place, that the Bible represents perseverance, in the sense already explained, as an attribute of Christian character; and therefore no one can have evidence that he is a saint, any farther than he is conscious of abiding in obedience. If saints do abide in the light, and have the assurance that they are saints, we have seen the sense in which they may be influenced by hope and fear, and the sense in which moral law with its sanctions may be useful to them. But when a saint shall backslide, he must lose the evidence of his being a saint, and then all the warnings and threatenings may take full effect upon him. He finds himself not persevering, and has of course to infer that he is not a saint; and the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints can be no comfort to him. It is in fact against him; for this doctrine is, that the saints do persevere; and every day he lives in backsliding, it becomes less evident that he is a saint. The Bible is manifestly written, for the most part, upon the assumption, that individual saints do not certainly know their election, and the certainty of their own salvation. It therefore addresses them, as if there were real uncertainty in respect to their salvation; that is, as if, as individuals, they were not certain of salvation. It represents the salvation of real saints as certain, but represents many professed saints as having fallen, and warns them against presumption and self-deception, in the matter of their profession, privileges, and experience. It represents the danger of delusion as great, and exhorts them to examine and prove themselves, and see whether they are truly saints. The warnings found in the Bible, are for the most part, evidently of this kind; that is, they assume that individuals may deceive themsleves, and presumptuously assume their own election, and saintship, and safety, from their privileges, relations, and experiences. Inspiration, therefore, proceeds to warn them, assuming that they do not know the certainty of their own individual salvation. We shall by and by have occasion to examine some passages that will illustrate and confirm this remark.

There is, therefore, I apprehend, no real difficulty in accounting for the manner in which the Bible is written, upon the supposition that the doctrine under consideration is true. But on the contrary, it appears to me, that the scriptures are just what might be expected, if the doctrine were true. When we consider the nature of the certainty in all cases, and also that the great mass of professed Christians have no certain revelation of their being real saints, that there is so much real danger of deception, in regard to our own characters, and that so many are and have been deceived;--I say, when we consider these things, there can be no difficulty in accounting for the manner in which both professors and real saints are addressed in the word of God.

[In the Contents of the printed book, there is no entry for Lecture LXXXIII.]

This lecture was given to us by Dennis Carroll.




To this objection I reply: that by the perseverance of the saints, as I use these terms, is intended that, subsequently to their regeneration, holiness is the rule of their lives, and sin only the exception. But it is said, that facts contradict this.

(1.) The case of king Saul is brought forward as an instance in point to sustain the objection.

To this I reply: that it is far from being clear that Saul was ever a truly regenerate man. He appears, in connexion with his appointment to the throne of Israel, to have been the subject of divine illuminations, in so far as to be much changed in his views and deportment, and as to have had another heart, in so much that he prophesied, &c.; but it is nowhere intimated that he became a truly regenerate man, a truly praying child of God. Similar changes are not unfrequently witnessed in men, and changes evidently brought about by the illuminations of the Holy Spirit, where there is no good reason to believe that the subjects of them were truly regenerated. From the history of Saul, subsequent to the change of which we are speaking, we gather absolutely nothing that looks like true piety. His case therefore cannot properly be brought as an objection to the doctrine in question, for the plain reason, that evidence is wanting that he ever was a saint. His prophesying, as is evident from the connexion in which it is spoken of, was merely speaking fervently upon religious subjects. He was so much enlightened, as to manifest for a time considerable excitement upon the subject of religion, and as to mingle with the schools of the prophets, and take an interest in their exercises. But this was only similar to what we often witness, when the end, and indeed when all the circumstances, duly considered, show clearly that true regeneration has not taken place. Who has not seen men have, for the time being, another, but not a holy, heart?

(2.) It is said, that David did not persevere in obedience, in the sense that obedience was his rule, and sin only the exception. To this I reply--

(i.) It is not pretended that there is any doubt respecting the final salvation of David.

(ii.) That David did not persevere, in the sense above defined, wants proof. His Psalms, together with his whole history, show that he was a highly spiritual man. He was an eminent type of Christ, and, for a man in his circumstances, was a remarkable saint. To be sure, David practised polygamy, and did many things that in us, under the light of the gospel, would be sin. But it should be considered, that David lived under a dispensation of comparative obscurity, and therefore many things which would now be unlawful and sinful, were not so in him. That David, with comparatively few exceptions, lived up to the light he had, cannot be reasonably called in question. He is said to have been a man after God's own heart. I know this is said of him as a king, but I know also that, as king this could not have been said of him, unless he had feared and served the Lord, and in the main lived up to the light with which he was surrounded.

(3.) It is also said, that Solomon king of Israel did not persevere, in the sense contended for in this discourse. Of Solomon I would say,--

(i.) That he was manifestly a type of Christ.

(ii.) That he at one period of his life, for how long a time it does not appear, fell into grievous backsliding, and appears in some sense to have tolerated idolatry.

(iii.) His final apostacy has been inferred from the fact that idolatry was practised in Israel after his supposed repentance, and until the end of his life. The people were allowed to offer sacrifices, and to burn incense in the high places, and therefore his repentance was not genuine.

To this I reply, that the same was true also during the reign of several of the pious kings who succeeded him, and is probably to be accounted for by the fact that neither Solomon nor his successors had, for a considerable time, political power or influence enough to abolish idolatry altogether. The people were greatly divided in their religious views and worship. Many were the priests and devotees of the groves and high places, and multitudes of the high and more influential classes clave to their idols. It was a very difficult matter to put an effectual stop to idolatry, and perhaps was impossible in Solomon's day, and for a long time after. Solomon's idolatrous wives and concubines had doubtless exerted great influence in rendering idolatry popular with the people, and it was not until several generations had passed away, that the pious kings seem to have had sufficient political power to banish idolatry from the nation. Solomon's final apostacy, then, cannot be inferred from the fact, that idolatry continued to be practised in the nation until long after his death. There is no reason to believe that he continued to practise it himself. But,--

(iv.) I remark, that, from the writings of Solomon, we may gather sufficient evidence that, in the general, he did not live a wicked life, though he fell into many grievous sins. His Ecclesiastes seems to have been written after he was reclaimed from backsliding, as appears from the fact, that the book contains many statements of his views and experiences while in his wanderings from God. It appears to me, that the book is inexplicable upon any other supposition. In his wanderings from God, as is common, he fell into great doubts and embarrassments in regard to the works and ways of God. He became sceptical, and in the book under consideration, he states the sceptical views that he had entertained. But the book, as a whole, contains conclusive evidence of piety at the time it was written. This probably will not be called in question.

Again: the Proverbs and Song of Solomon show, that he was not only a pious man, but also, at least when they were written, a highly spiritual man. Especially is this true of his Song. The Proverbs were doubtless the result of deep and protracted reflection and observation, and were written at intervals extending through his whole or nearly his whole reign. He was a man of great study, and of great learning for his day. He must have spent much time in deep meditation and communion with God, and there is no greater mistake, as I apprehend, than to suppose that Solomon was an apostate, or that he lived anything like a majority of his days in a state of backsliding from God. His profound wisdom, manifested on various occasions, and his history and writings altogether, when duly considered, render it extremely probable, if not certain, that his backsliding was but temporary, and that he was soon reclaimed. We have little more recorded of him than his public life, except what is contained in his own writings. Should we judge of him only by his recorded history, apart from his writings, we might infer that he lived, at least for a long time, in sin; but from his writings we must infer, that his life as a whole was one of deep thought, much profound meditation upon God and divine things, much research into the works, and ways, and government of God, both moral and providential, and of much spirituality. His practice of polygamy on so large a scale, and many other things that appear in his life were, in the substance and principle of them, common to the most pious men of that age and nation. Solomon's case, when duly considered, cannot disprove the doctrine under consideration. Many things in him that shock us, might have been consistent with his living in a state of acceptance with God.
This objection or assertion may be answered substantially as was the last. It is true, indeed, that the saints may know themselves to have been regenerated; and it is also true, that many may think they know this when they are deceived. A man may know himself to be awake, but from this it does not follow that no one can think himself awake while he is asleep. But since upon examination, it has been found that the Bible plainly teaches the doctrine of the saints' perseverance, in the sense in which I have defined it, we must of course yield the objection founded on experience, and grant that such experiences can weigh nothing against the testimony of God. The objection of course cannot be conclusive; for it is not one of the nature that admits of no error or doubt. The Bible defines all the essential attributes of Christian character. Now, if upon examination, perseverance in the sense here insisted on is proved to be one of them, it is absurd to array against the doctrine the consciousness of not persevering. It is to assume that we, and not the Bible, can decide who is a Christian, and what are the essential attributes of Christian character.
It is said of this passage, that the history of the Israelites is here introduced as a warning to real Christians; consequently, the apostle must have assumed, that those of the Israelites who fell were real saints, or there would have been no pertinency or force in his allusion. To this I reply, that the pertinency and force of the allusion appear to me to have been as follows. The Israelites composed the visible church of God. At the time mentioned, they were all professors of religion. All possessed great light and privileges compared with the rest of the world; they therefore felt confident of their acceptance with God, and of their consequent safety and salvation. But with many of them it turned out, that God was not well pleased. Some of them turned out to be idolaters and were destroyed. Now, says the apostle, let this be a warning to you. You are in like manner professors of religion. You are all members of the visible church of God to which the promises are made. You have great light and privileges when compared with the world at large. You may think yourselves to be altogether safe, and sure of final salvation. But remember, that the history of the ancient church is written for your benefit; and the destruction of those just alluded to, is recorded for your admonition. Be not high minded, but fear. Do not be presumptuous, because you are members in good standing in the visible church, and possess great light and privileges; but remember, that many before you, who were like you in these respects, have lost their souls; "Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall."

If the apostle had intended to convey the impression that they were real saints that fell in the wilderness, and that real saints do fall away and are lost, he would no doubt have said, let him that standeth, instead of him that thinketh he standeth, take heed lest he fall. The term rendered thinketh is represented by Robinson as correctly translated in this passage. The meaning of the apostle appears to have been this, that others who were, from their circumstances and fancied characters, very confident of their safety, had been finally cast off and lost; therefore, take heed to yourselves, lest being similarly situated, you in like manner deceive yourselves; and while you think that you stand, you should fall and perish.

But it may be said, that the apostle speaks of those as falling who had eaten of the spiritual meat, and drank of the rock Christ, and therefore must have been real saints. To this I reply, that the apostle does indeed use universal language, and speak of all the Israelites as doing these things; but who will soberly contend that he intended really to be understood as affirming, that all the Israelites that passed through the sea, &c., were true saints? What he says does not necessitate the conclusion that any of them were truly regenerated saints. They were all baptized unto Moses, that is, were all introduced into the covenant of which he was the mediator. They all ate of the same spiritual bread, that is, the manna on which the Lord fed them. They all drank of the spiritual rock; that is, of the water that gushed from the rock when Moses smote it with his rod, and which rock was a type of Christ, as was also the manna. Now, does the apostle mean to say, that all the Israelites understood the typical meaning of these waters, and this manna, and that they were all truly spiritual or regenerate persons? I think not. All that he intended appears to me to be, that all the church of the Jews at the time were so far partakers of the grace of Christ, as to receive this baptism, and as to have this spiritual or typical bread and water, and also to enjoy great light and much miraculous instruction, but that, nevertheless, with many of them God was displeased. Their being baptized in their passage through the Red Sea, did not imply that they so understood and consented to it at the time, nor does the assertion that they ate the spiritual food, and drank of the spiritual rock, imply anything more than that they enjoyed these great and high privileges, and counted themselves as very secure in consequence of them. It is certainly straining the sense to make the apostle affirm, that all the Israelites were real saints who passed through the sea. Indeed, it is doubtful whether he intended to affirm the real piety of any of them. It was not essential to his purpose to do so.

In examining the class of passages adduced to prove that some real saints have fallen from grace and been lost, I am only concerned to show, that they do not by fair construction necessitate this conclusion. I may admit that, if the doctrine of perseverance were not found to be clearly taught in the Bible, the not unnatural construction of some of the class of texts in question might lead to the conclusion that some, yea many, real saints have been lost.

But since, from the previous examination it has appeared, that the doctrine is plainly and unequivocally taught in the Bible, all that needs to be shown of the class of texts now under consideration is, that they do not, when fairly interpreted, really and unequivocally teach that some true saints have been lost. This showing will sufficiently vindicate the scriptures against the imputation of self-contradiction, in both affirming and denying the same doctrine. Observe, I am not called upon to show, that the passages in question cannot be so construed, and with considerable plausibility, as to make them contradict this doctrine; but all I am called upon to show in this place is, that they do not necessarily, by fair construction, contradict it; that they do not necessitate the admission either that the Bible contradicts itself, or that a different construction must be given to the passages that seem to teach this doctrine.

With these remarks I proceed to the examination of 2 Peter ii. 9-22: "The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished: But chiefly them that walk after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness, and despise government: presumptuous are they, self-willed; they are not afraid to speak evil of dignities. Whereas angels, which are greater in power and might, bring not railing accusation against them before the Lord. But these, as natural brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed, speak evil of the things that they understand not; and shall utterly perish in their own corruption; And shall receive the reward of unrighteousness, as they that count it pleasure to riot in the day-time. Spots they are, and blemishes, sporting themselves with their own deceivings, while they feast with you; Having eyes full of adultery, and that cannot cease from sin; beguiling unstable souls: a heart they have exercised with covetous practices; cursed children: Which have forsaken the right way, and are gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Bosor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness; But was rebuked for his iniquity: the dumb ass speaking with man's voice, forbade the madness of the prophet. These are wells without water, clouds that are carried with a tempest; to whom the mist of darkness is reserved for ever. For when they speak great swelling words of vanity, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through much wantonness, those that were clean escaped from them who live in error. While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought into bondage. For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world, through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour 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 return 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."

Now observe, the apostle calls the persons of whom he speaks "wells without water: clouds that are carried with a tempest:" that is, without rain. His whole description of them shows, that he is speaking of false professors or hypocrites. But it is inferred, that they are fallen saints, because it is said they have "forsaken the right way, and are gone astray after the error of Balaam," &c. But this does not necessarily imply that they were in heart ever in the right way, but that they have forsaken the right way, so far as the outward life is concerned; in which respect they had doubtless been in the right way, or they would not have been admitted to membership in the church.

But it is said of these false professors, that "they allure through lust and much wantonness those who were clean escaped from those who live in error." But neither does this necessitate the conclusion, that they had escaped in heart from those that lived in error, but merely that they had for the time being outwardly abandoned their idolatrous practices and companions, and had made a profession, and put on the form of Christianity.

But it is also said, verses 20-22: "For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world, through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are entangled therein and overcome, the latter end is worse than the beginning. 21. 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. 22. 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."

Neither does this necessitate the conclusion, that they had in heart escaped from the pollutions that are in the world, but merely that they had outwardly reformed. What is said in the last verse seems to favour this construction. Verse 22: "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." That is, the dog has returned to his vomit, because he remains a dog, and is not changed; and the sow that is washed to her wallowing in the mire, because she is still a sow, and her washing has not changed her nature. So, the apostle would say, by returning to their former ways, do the persons in question show, that they have experienced no radical change; but on the contrary, that they are only like a washed sow, sinners still, who have been only outwardly cleansed, while within they are the same as ever. This appears to me to be all that can fairly be made out of this passage.

I will now attend to 1 Tim. i. 19, 20: "Holding faith and a good conscience, which some having put away, concerning faith have made shipwreck. Of whom is Hymeneus and Alexander, whom I have delivered unto Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme." Of this text I may say, that the apostle was writing to Timothy as an eminent religious teacher, and was giving him cautions respecting his influence in that relation. Hymeneus and Alexander, as we may infer from this, and which is still more plainly taught in other passages, were religious teachers, who had cast off or perverted the true faith or doctrine of the gospel, and thus made shipwreck. They had put away faith and a good conscience, and by so doing had made shipwreck of the true gospel. This passage does not teach that these men were true Christians, nor does it necessarily imply that any had been true saints who had gone with them. The expression, "some having put away," does not necessarily imply that they once had true faith and a good conscience, but only that they taught that which was inconsistent with either; or it may mean that they had rejected or refused both faith and a good conscience; that they practised and taught things inconsistent with either true faith, or with the true gospel, or with a good conscience, and had therefore run upon a rock, and wrecked their souls, and the souls of those who followed them. But this proves nothing in respect to their ever having been real saints.

The apostle was speaking in popular language, and represented things as they appeared to the observer. Thus we should speak of spurious converts. It certainly does not appear to me, that this passage would, without forced construction, warrant the conclusion that some real saints had been lost, even apart from those passages that, we have seen, seem unequivocally to teach the doctrine. Much less, when those passages are considered, are we, as I think we have seen, authorized so to construe this passage as to make it either contradict them, or to necessitate such a modification of their construction as is contended for by those who deny the doctrine in question. If the doctrine in question is not really taught in the Bible, we certainly should not believe it; but if it is, we must not lightly reject it. We need candidly to weigh each passage, and to understand, if we can, just what is the mind of God as therein revealed.

The case of Judas has been relied upon as an instance of utter apostacy, and of consequent destruction. It is said, that in the Psalms Judas is spoken of as the familiar friend of Christ in whom he trusted. Psalms xli. 9: "Yea, mine own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, hath lifted up his heel against me."

There is no reason to believe that Ps. xli. primarily respected either Christ or Judas. Christ quotes the 9th verse, as is common in the New Testament, not because it was originally spoken of himself or of Judas, but because his case was like that of the Psalmist. In the passage in which Christ quotes these words, he directly negatives the idea of Judas being one of his true disciples. He says, John xiii. 18, "I speak not of you all; I know whom I have chosen; but that the scripture may be fulfilled, He that eateth bread with me hath lifted up his heel against me."

Here Christ plainly teaches, that he to whom he applied these words, was not chosen in the sense of being chosen to salvation, or in the sense of his being a true saint. He says:

John vi. 64: "But there are some of you who believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him. 65. And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given him of my Father. 70. Jesus answered them, Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil? 71. He spake of Judas Iscariot the son of Simon: for he it was that should betray him, being one of the twelve."

He had chosen twelve to follow him as pupils or disciples; but one of them he had known from the beginning to be a wicked man. In John xvii. 12: Christ says, "While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled." Christ has been represented as saying to his Father in this passage, that he had lost none that the Father had given him except the son of perdition, that is Judas. But this is not the meaning of the passage in Christ's prayer. He intended that of those that the Father had given him, he had lost none; but the son of perdition was lost that the scripture might be fulfilled.

The same form of expression is used in Luke iv. 27: "And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Eliseus the prophet; and none of them was cleansed, saving Naaman the Syrian. Here eime is used in the original as meaning not except, but as an adversative conjunction but. Naaman was not an Israelite, but a heathen. Christ here used the same form of expression as in John xvii. 12: In this passage in Luke it is plain, that he intended that the prophet was not sent to any Israelite, but to a heathen. This same form is also used, Matt. xii. 4: "How he entered into the house of God, and did eat the shew-bread, which was not lawful for him to eat, neither for them which were with him, but only for the priests."

Here the same form of expression in the original is used, as in John xvii. 12. The plain meaning of this form in Matt. xii. 4: is but, not except. It was not lawful for David, nor for his companions to eat the shew-bread, but it was lawful for the priests to do so. So also, Acts xxi. 25: "As touching the Gentiles which believe, we have written and concluded that they observe no such thing, save only that they keep themselves from things offered unto idols, and from blood, and from strangled, and from fornication." Here the same form is used, and the plain meaning of the phraseology is just that which I am contending for, in the passage in Christ's prayer. Likewise, Rev. xxi. 27: "And there shall in no wise enter into it anything that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie; but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life." Here again the same form of expression, and the same word in the original, are used in the sense now contended for. Nothing shall enter into the city that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination or maketh a lie, but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life, shall enter in. So beyond reasonable doubt, Christ intended to say in his prayer to his Father: "While I was with them in the world I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept and none of them is lost, that is, I have lost none of those whom thou hast given me; but the son of perdition is lost, according to the scriptures."

But it seems to me, that the context shows clearly what the Saviour intended by this form of expression. He says, verses 11 and 12: "And now 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, that they may be one as we are. While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled:" that is: "Do thou keep them in thine own name and lose none of them, for while I was with them I kept them in thy name, and lost none of them; but the son of perdition is lost." He evidently did not mean to say, I lost but one whom thou gavest me. Or that he kept in his Father's name all except one of those whom the Father had given him. He says, 6: "I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word. 7. Now they have known that all things, whatsoever thou hast given me, are of thee. 8. For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me. 9. I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine. 10. And all mine are thine, and thine are mine; and I am glorified in them. 11. And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thy own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one as we are. 12. While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled."

Here he plainly represents, that all who had been given him by the Father, had known and kept the word of God. They had believed and persevered, and Christ was glorified in them. Since he had kept them in his Father's name, and had lost none of them, he proceeds to pray, that now the Father will keep them in his own name. Let any one ponder well this passage from verse 6 to 12, and he will see, I trust, that this is a true view of the subject. At any rate this cannot be a proof text to establish the fact, that any have fallen from grace: for the plain reason, that the text can quite as naturally at least, and I think with much greater propriety, be quoted to sustain the doctrine which it is adduced to disprove. Again:

Matt. xviii. 21: "Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? 22. Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee until seven times; but until seventy times seven. 23. Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants. 24. And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him which owed ten thousand talents. 25. But forasmuch as he had not to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made. 26. The servant therefore fell down and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. 27. Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt. 28. But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellow-servants, which owed him a hundred pence; and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat, saying, Pay me that thou owest. 29. And his fellow-servant fell down at his feet, and besought him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. 30. And he would not; but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt. 31. So when his fellow-servants saw what was done, they were very sorry, and came and told unto their lord all that was done. 32. Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant. I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desirest me: 33. Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellow-servant, even as I had pity on thee? 34. And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him. 35. So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses."

This has been adduced to prove that some do fall from grace, especially the 32nd to the 34th verses. But from this whole passage it is evident, that what the Lord meant, was to set in a strong light the necessity of a forgiving spirit, and that this is a condition of salvation. It is a parable designed to illustrate this truth, but does not assert as a fact, that any truly pardoned soul was ever lost; nor does it imply this, as any one may see who will duly weigh the whole parable. It does plainly imply, that a pardoned soul would be lost should he apostatize; but it does not imply that such a soul ever did apostatize. I consider next, 1 Tim. v. 12: "Having damnation, because they have cast off their first faith." This passage stands in the following connexion:--

1 Tim. v. 9: "Let not a widow be taken into the number under threescore years old, having been the wife of one man: 10. Well reported of for good works; if she have brought up children, if she have lodged strangers, if she have washed the saints' feet, if she have relieved the afflicted, if she have diligently followed every good work. 11. But the younger widows refuse, for when they have begun to wax wanton against Christ, they will marry; 12. Having damnation, because they have cast off their first faith. 13. And withal they learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house; and not only idle, but tattlers also, and busy bodies, speaking things which they ought not."

The word rendered damnation in this passage is often rendered judgment and condemnation; and the meaning may be, that the younger widows were found to wax wanton and fall into condemnation, and for a time at least to disgrace their profession, by casting off their first faith; or it may mean, that they were apt to be found among those who renounced the profession of the true faith, which they at first professed. They were young widows. Uneducated as heathen women were and are, and it could not be surprising that many of this class should make a spurious profession, and afterwards cast off their profession through wantonness, and disgrace their profession. The apostle, therefore, warns Timothy against too hasty a reception of them, or against having too early a confidence in the reality of their piety.

As every one knows, that Dr. Adam Clarke was a strong opponent of the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints, I give his views of this passage from his commentary. See Clarke, on verses 3, 9, 11 and 12:--

"Verse 3: 'Honour widows that are widows indeed.' One meaning of the word timao, to honour, is to support, sustain, &c., Matt. xv. 45, and here it is most obviously to be taken in this sense. Provide for those widows especially, which are widows indeed; persons truly destitute, being aged and helpless; and having neither children nor friends to take care of them; and who behave as becometh their destitute state.

"Verse 9: 'Take not into the number.' Let her not be taken into the list of those for which the church must provide. But some think that the apostle means the list of those who were deaconesses in the church; and that no widow was to be admitted into the rank who did not answer to the following character.

"Verse 11: 'But the younger widows refuse.' Do not admit those into this office who are under sixty years of age. Probably those who were received into such a list, promised to abide in their widowhood. But as young or comparatively young women, might have both occasion and temptations to re-marry, and so break their engagement to Christ, they should not be admitted. Not that the apostle condemns their re-marrying as a crime in itself, but because it was contrary to their engagement.

"'Wax wanton.' Katastreniasosi, from kata intensive, and streniao, to act in a luxurious or wanton manner. The word is supposed to be derived from sterein, to remove, and enia, the rein; and is a metaphor taken from a pampered horse, from whose mouth the rein has been removed; so that there is nothing to check or confine him. The metaphor is plain enough, and the application easy.

"Verse 12: 'Having damnation.' In the sense in which we use this word, I am satisfied the apostle never intended it. It is likely that he refers here to some promise or engagement, which they made when taken on the list already mentioned; and now they have the guilt of having violated that promise; that is the krima, or condemnation, of which the apostle speaks.

"'They have cast off their first faith.' By pledging their fidelity to a husband, they have cast off their fidelity to Christ; as a married life and their previous engagement are incompatible. Dr. Macknight translates these two verses thus:--'But the younger widows reject; for when they cannot endure Christ's rein, they will marry; incurring condemnation, because they have put away their first fidelity.'"

This passage does not assert, that any real Christian had fallen and had been lost, and the most that can be made of it is that they may, or can do so, and that there is danger of apostacy. This I fully admit and maintain; that is, that humanly speaking there is danger; which is the only sense in which there is danger that any event may be different from what it, in fact, turns out to be. I have already said, and shall have occasion to say again, that there is, and can be, no danger in the sense of real uncertainty, that any event whatever will be different from what it turns out to be, and from what God foresees that it will be. But in the sense of probability, judging from the natural course of events as they appear to us, there may be a high degree of probability, and therefore the utmost danger that things may be different from what in fact they turn out to be, and from what God foresees that they will be, and from what they really would be, were it not for the warnings, and threatenings, and a consequent sense of danger.

Again: It has been said, that from Christ's letters to the churches in Asia, recorded in Revelations, we learn that those churches, some of them at least, were in a state of apostacy from God; and that from the fact that the judgments of God annihilated those churches, there is reason to believe that the apostacy was complete and final, and their destruction certain. To this I reply, that those letters were written to churches as such, just as the prophets spoke of the Jewish Church as such. The things which the prophets declare of the Jewish church were declared of them as a body of professed saints, some generations of whom had more, and some less, real piety. The prophets would rebuke one generation for their backsliding and apostacy, without meaning to represent that the particular individuals they addressed were ever true saints, but meaning only that the body as such was in a degenerate and apostate state, compared with what the body as such had been in former times. So Christ writes to the churches of Asia, and reproves them for their backslidden and apostate condition, asserts that they had fallen, had left their first love, &c., from which, however, we are not to infer, that he intended to say this of those who had been truly converted as individuals, but merely that those churches as bodies had fallen, and were now composed of members as a whole who were in the state of which he complained; just as we say of the Roman Catholic church, or of the Lutheran or German Reformed, or of other bodies in which piety is at a low ebb, that they have left their first love, &c. In saying this, we should not mean to be understood as affirming, that the individuals who now compose those churches were at any time in a better spiritual state than they are at present but only that the churches as such are fallen from what those bodies once were, and had left the love, and zeal, and obedience once manifested in them.

The churches of Asia were doubtless, when first gathered by the apostles and primitive ministers, full of faith, and zeal, and love. But things had changed. Many of the members had changed, and perhaps every member who had originally composed those churches was dead, previous to the time when these letters were written. However this may be, there had doubtless been great changes in the membership of those churches; and since they were evidently addressed as bodies, it cannot be fairly inferred, from what is said, that the same persons addressed had fallen from a state of high spirituality into backsliding or apostacy, but that was true only of the then present membership, when compared with the former membership and state of the churches. These letters cannot be justly relied upon as disproving the doctrine in question; for the utmost that can be made of them is, that those churches as bodies were at the time in a state of declension.

The passages we have examined are, so far as I know, the principal ones upon which reliance has been placed to disprove the doctrine in question. I have read over attentively several times the views of Mr. Fletcher, in his Scripture Scales, and the passages quoted by him to disprove this doctrine. His chief reliance is manifestly upon the numerous passages that imply the possibility and danger of falling, rather than on any passages that unequivocally teach that any have fallen or will utterly fall. I am not aware that any respectable writer has laid much stress upon other passages than those I have examined, as expressly teaching, or unequivocally implying the fact of the fall and ruin of real saints. There may be such writers and such passages as those of which I speak; but if there are, I do not recollect to have seen them.


As I have before said, there is no hope of any one's persevering, except in so far as free grace anticipates and secures the concurrence of free will. The soul must be called, and effectually called, and perpetually called, or it will not follow Christ for an hour. I say again, that by effectual calling, I do not mean an irresistible calling. I do not mean a calling that cannot, or that might not be resisted; but I do mean by an effectual calling, a calling that is not in fact resisted, a calling that does in fact secure the voluntary obedience of the soul. This is my only hope in respect to myself, or any body else. This grace I regard as vouchsafed to me in the covenant of grace, or as a reward of Christ's obedience unto death. It is pledged to secure the salvation of those whom the Father has from eternity given to the Son. The Holy Spirit is given to them to secure their salvation, and I have no expectation that any others will ever be saved. But these, every one of them, will surely be saved. There is, there can be no hope for any others. Others are able to repent, but they will not. Others might be saved, if they would believe, and comply with the conditions of salvation, but they will not.

We have seen, that none come to Christ, except they are drawn of the Father, and that the Father draws to Christ those and those only whom he has given to Christ, and also, that it is the Father's design that of those whom he has given to Christ, he should lose none, but that he should raise them up at the last day. This is the only hope that any will be saved. Strike out this foundation, and what shall the righteous do? Strike out from the Bible the doctrine of God's covenanted faithfulness to Christ--the truth that the Father has given to him a certain number whose salvation he foresees, that he could and should secure, and I despair of myself and of every body else. Where is any other ground of hope? I know not where.


Introduction ---New Window

LECTURES 1-7 of page 1 ---New Window

LECTURES 8-16 of page 2 ---New Window

LECTURES 17-30 of page 3 ---New Window

LECTURES 31-38 of page 4 ---New Window

LECTURES 39-47 of page 5 ---New Window

LECTURES 48-57 of page 6 ---New Window

LECTURES 58-67 of page 7 ---New Window

LECTURES 68-74 of page 8 ---New Window

LECTURES 75-80 of page 9 ---New Window

LECTURES 81-83 of page 10 (this page)

APPENDIX on page 11 ---New Window


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