THE FINAL PERSEVERANCE OF THE SAINTS.
MAN, in his natural state, is destitute of the spirit of holiness. He has not in his heart the love of God He is dead in trespasses and sins; and except he is quickened by the Divine Spirit and made spiritually alive, he is- morally incapable of rendering to God any spiritual and acceptable service. He must be born again, and made a new creature. This change in his internal character is effected by the Holy Spirit, and there is no other power that can perform the work. When this change is wrought in him, he has spiritual life, and is capable of spiritual exercises. These doctrines, I believe, are acknowledged by all who can make any fair pretensions to the name of evangelical When we are born of the Spirit we possess spiritual life, and commence our spiritual pilgrimage to the heavenly Canaan. But here a question arises which we shall attempt to discuss, and, like every other question which is immediately connected with our salvation, we ought to decide it by the word of God. The question may be stated thus: Will every true child of God certainly continue in a state of grace until finally saved? The question might be varied in form, but this statement seems to be sufficient for the purpose, as the precise doctrine must necessarily come into view as we proceed with the investigation. I have stated it as fairly as I know how. The affirmative of this question is usually called “The doctrine of the final perseverance of the saints;” and the negative is termed “The doctrine of final apostasy.” Both doctrines have many advocates, and specious arguments are brought forward in support of these different views. I believe it is conceded on both sides that a true Christian may be betrayed into sin, and sometimes into very grievous sins, while yet he has not actually lost his spiritual life; and I believe it is also admitted that a true Christian may become cold and worldly minded, and spiritual affections may suffer a decay, and need the reviving influences of the Spirit of grace, but his spiritual life is still whole within him; or, in other words, a Christian may backslide to a certain degree without entirely losing his spiritual life. It is also held on both sides that a man may be the subject of very strong religious impressions and believe that he is truly converted, and others may think so too, but in fact he was never truly born again. All this may be true without proving or disproving either side of the question at issue.
I shall attempt to establish the affirmative of this question, and to show from the Holy Scriptures that the children of God will persevere through grace to final salvation. If the Scriptures do not support my views, I will not contend; and if any will maintain the contrary, they must confine their arguments to the word of God; for if the true doctrine is not found there, the question is not worth debate.
Before I present the evidence of this doctrine, I will remark that there is a kindred doctrine taught in the Bible which, strictly speaking, does not belong to this subject. It is the doctrine of the certain and everlasting security of the Church. This is not identical with the doctrine of the final perseverance of the saints. The two should not be treated of as the same, though it is often done. Two planks in a floor may have the same use, and touch each other from end to end, but they are not the same piece of timber. We will, therefore, examine the doctrine of final perseverance, and attend to the other in its own place.
The final perseverance of a Christian has a more intimate connection with sanctification. The believer perseveres or continues in a course of obedience by the same grace which sanctifies his heart; and if sanctifying grace should cease to be given, his continuance in well-doing would also fail. If it should be asked, ” If a Christian were left entirely to himself to stand in his own strength, would he utterly fall and be lost? ” I suppose it might be answered in the affirmative; for I suppose that the whole universal creation would fall into total annihilation if the preserving power of God were entirely withdrawn from it. Nothing is independent of Him. God is the only independent being in existence, and every thing is as dependent on Him for its continuance in being, as it was for its coming into existence at first. So that if we were to concede that if a Christian were to be entirely deserted by his God, he would fall finally, and be lost, the concession would not affect the doctrine of the final perseverance of every true believer in Christ. Our Savior said of all those whom His Father had given Him, that they should never perish; and it is also said, “Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.” And we have no more right to add in the one case, “provided they prove faithful,” than we have in the other case to take out the words, “be thou faithful.” In the most positive terms I deny the right of any man to make any such additions or mutilations in the Divine record; or to introduce any conditions, where such are not found in the text. If such conditions are taught in the Scriptures, and really attach to any particular doctrine, we should rely on those passages where such conditions are specified, and not take the liberty of annexing them to other passages where none such are found, in order to evade the force of texts that seem to militate against a doctrine elsewhere taught.
So far as I understand the views of those who maintain the doctrine of final apostasy, they would contend as firmly as I would that all who do continue to be faithful will certainly obtain ultimate salvation; but on the other hand, they believe that a true believer may prove unfaithful, and be finally lost. I have no wish to misrepresent the opinions of those who differ from me, and if I have not stated their doctrine fairly, it is because I have misunderstood it. There is not a truth taught in the Bible that I desire to shun, and I am forcibly impressed with the belief that many of those who oppose the doctrine of final perseverance, do not clearly understand the true ground upon which the doctrine is founded.
Spiritual life is given to the believer by the Holy Spirit, and when this life is received, we may with propriety ask whether it is in the power of God to maintain this life, and enable the child of God to continue in a state of grace and hold on his way to the end of his race. I suppose no one would deny this. Surely the most strenuous advocate of final apostasy would not contend that, however liable to fall the Christian may be, God is not able to make him stand. But although this would not be controverted, it may be of use to devote a little attention to this part of the subject. We ought to understand the nature of the power and the way in which it is exercised, in order to accomplish the end proposed. It is not that physical power which He put forth in producing the material creation, but a spiritual power, exercised in a way of influence, operating upon moral character, or moral natures. The physical power of God may be sufficient, for aught we know, to save men in their sins; but the justice of God and the holiness of His nature are such that He can not exercise it in any such way. We, being sinners and rebels against His authority, are justly exposed to His righteous displeasure, and are under the curse of His law. Our relation to Him as condemned criminals, forbids all spiritual intercourse, and thus we are cut off from all spiritual life and strength, until a way of reconciliation is opened up, as a medium through which may be communicated to us spiritual blessings. The barrier which our sins had interposed between Him and us, is removed by the sacrifice of His Son, in whom dwelt all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. The atonement thus made for our sins, opened an ample and all-sufficient medium through which the gifts and graces of the Divine Spirit could be shed abroad in our hearts, to give us life and strength in a way consistent with the moral perfections of the Divine Nature, and the honor of His law. Christ having died and risen again, is exalted at the right hand of the Majesty on high, and officiates in behalf of His people as intercessor; and through His intercession the Holy Ghost is given to us in measures equal to all our necessities for life and godliness. There is an infinite and undimishable fullness in the Holy Spirit, so that all necessary supplies may be granted to the believer in due time and measure, according to the will of God. Thus the power of God, exercised in giving and maintaining spiritual life, is not merely that physical power exerted in creating the world, but a spiritual power, acting upon spiritual objects, for accomplishing a particular end, according to the design of Him who worketh all things after the counsel of His own will, and all having an immediate reference to the ultimate salvation of the people of God, and the glory of His grace.
Having submitted this view of the fullness of spiritual power for the preservation of the children of God, I repeat that the sufficiency of this power of God for the preservation of His saints will not be denied. And then the point in controversy is reduced to this: “Is it the will of God to give His children the necessary supplies of grace to insure their final salvation?” Upon this question hangs the whole controversy. This is the precise issue between the contending parties. If this point can be determined by the word of God, it would be useless and even frivolous to debate the subject any longer, or in any other point of view. To this point, therefore, I shall direct my inquiries in the further discussion of the subject.
I quote from Romans viii. 32: “He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?” The apostle is addressing himself particularly to believers, as the whole chapter fully shows. He sets forth the firm ground of hope which the children of God have in the plan of salvation through Christ. And the method of reasoning which he employs is one of the strongest modes of logical argument known to the art of reasoning. The argument implies that the contrary is an absurdity. If the love of God to His children is so boundless and invincible that He would make the infinite sacrifice of giving His well-beloved Son to die for them, will He then suffer them to finally perish for the want of a little spiritual strength, which it is His delight to give? Men may use this mode of reasoning, and because of some unseen fallacy in the process of deduction, lead to a false conclusion, but not so the Spirit of God. In this reasoning of the Holy Spirit there is an implied defiance of the whole world to controvert or evade the conclusion, and yet there are some that will not submit. “Freely give us all things.” If the phrase “all things” is to be understood in a general sense, and not strictly universal, yet why should the only exception be the very thing which the Christian most needs, and without which he can not be saved? But any exception is inconsistent with the argument; for the argument is, that if God should do so great a thing for our salvation, how should He refuse to do that which is so much less? The principle upon which He reasons excludes all possible exceptions.
It will not be denied that there is an all-sufficiency of gracious power in the Holy Spirit to sustain the children of God under every possible necessity. This power is exercised towards us through the intercession of our great High Priest Christ Jesus. And are we to suppose that He is unwilling to intercede for us? Or shall we say that His intercession is ineffectual? There must be an unwillingness on the part of the Father to answer the intercession of His Son or an unwillingness on the part of the Son to make intercession for us, or an insufficiency in the power of the Holy Spirit to impart the needful grace, otherwise the true believer will be kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation. The doctrine of final apostasy greatly dishonors the efficacy and glory of Christ’s intercession; and it is not easy to see how it can be said in truth that He is able to-save them to the uttermost (or forever, as in the margin) that come to God by Him. The text here referred to (Heb. vii. 25) has immediate reference to the intercession of our great High Priest. An indefensible cause will sometimes induce its adherents to resort to evasions wholly unworthy of a candid inquirer after truth; hence some may say that God will give the needful grace to His children if they ask Him. But this is little or nothing less than begging the question; it is, in effect, saying, If they persevere they will persevere “they will be saved if they hold out faithful.” I am aware that this is a stronghold to which the advocates of final apostasy constantly repair when pressed by the promises of the gospel, but it will afford then no shelter; for if they could find a clear warrant in Scripture for annexing this condition (which they have not done) the argument would still be futilethe argument would never touch the true principle upon which the perseverance of the saints rests. Suppose we give them their own position, and say, “The Lord will give us sustaining grace if we pray for it.” To see the emptiness of their argument, it is only necessary to reflect that the spirit of prayer is an important part of persevering grace. And this is what the Lord has promised: “I will give them the spirit of grace and of supplication.” The spirit of prayer is as much a fruit of the Spirit as love or humility. But in respect to the intercession of Christ, there is no propriety, in detaching a particular grace or qualification from all or any of the rest of the spiritual exercises of the heart. It does manifest injustice to the work of the Divine Spirit. That which the intercession procures for the believer is the Spirit of Christ, which embraces or produces all His gifts and graces. When He gives us His Holy Spirit, the gift includes, necessarily, all the fruits of the Spirit; for though the Spirit is given us in measure, yet it is not given to us in piecemeal. It can not be proved to be even possible that the Spirit can be given to us with out including the spirit of prayer. Besides, God’s rule in giving us His Spirit is according to our need, and not according to our petitions; and He knows our needs often when we do not. In giving persevering grace and strength, He is not governed by our supplications, but by the intercession of Christ our advocate at His right hand. And full well does our great Intercessor know all our necessities; for we have not a High Priest who can not be touched with the feeling of our infirmities.
If there is any professed believer who does not habitually pray for grace to sanctify his heart and preserve him from sin, I should suspect that he is not a true child of God; and the children of God who do pray for it, are indebted to the Holy Spirit for their desires, which are the essence of prayer. So far as any Christian has any real desire for spiritual blessings, that desire is originated by the Holy Spirit. Every child of God should keep in remembrance that it is not of ourselves that we are upheld in spiritual life, but we are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation; that is, by His spiritual power, exercised in giving us continual supplies of grace and spiritual strength, whereby we are spiritually enabled to persist in a course of well doing according as His Divine power hath given us all things that pertain to life and godliness. His spiritual power, as exercised in relation to His children, is inseparable from His will; and if we should say that according to His will He hath given us all things that pertain to life and godliness, we should but express the same idea. None doubt the sufficiency of His physical power to do any thing; and if He gives His children all things that pertain to life and godliness, the expression can not comprehend any thing less than a full sufficiency of spiritual influences to maintain in us spiritual life and holiness, which will certainly insure our final salvation.
That which the natural man has need of is spiritual life; so that they who are dead in sins are quickened – made alive by the Holy Spirit. This being done, we have spiritual life; and if this life is maintained in us, our salvation is sure; for death and life can not subsist in the same subject, and in the same respect. If, therefore, it is the will of God to uphold us in spiritual life, the final perseverance of the saints must necessarily be a certainty. I will therefore quote a few texts in relation to this point: “And this is the will of Him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on Him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.” (John vi. 40. ) “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.” (Ver. 44. ) “I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live forever.” (Ver. 51. ) ” Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the, last day. )’ (Ver. 54. ) “As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me.” (Ver. 57. ) “He that eateth of this bread shall live forever.” (Ver. 58. ) To evade the force and obvious meaning of these scriptures, we must ignore every acknowledged rule of interpretation, and do violence to the well-known laws of language. That receiving Christ by faith, is what is meant by eating and drinking, in the above quotations, is plain from the general tenor of the connection in which they stand. That all (everyone, distributive) that believe in Christ shall have everlasting life, is here declared to be the will of the Father, and Jesus says He will raise him up at the last day. This life can be supported only by- the power of God; and if He is not willing to maintain this spiritual life until the last day, how can we depend upon His word? Such phrases as “everlasting life,” “eternal life,” and “life forever,” must receive a meaning not only different from their ordinary acceptation, but directly contrary to it, if any thing short of salvation is admitted. Any rule of interpretation which would even admit final apostasy in the above- scriptures, if adhered to, would demolish the whole body of Divine revelation. “As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father, so he that eateth me shall live by me.” The epithet living, as applied to the Father, denotes that He lives by the necessity of His own nature, and that it is impossible that He should not live; on any other supposition the epithet would be needless. The doctrine taught is, that as surely as the Father lives, so surely the Son will live; and as surely as He lives, so surely will they live who believe in Him. If I were engaged in a public debate, and my opponent should produce scriptures that would contradict my thesis as expressly as the above texts and some others contradict the doctrine of final apostasy, I should quail, and not know how to answer. Again, Jesus says, “Because I live, ye shall live also.” The only way to resist this testimony- is to contradict it. It is an unqualified affirmation, and we must meet it with an unqualified contradiction, or give it an unqualified reception. The affirmation is either true or false. Evasion has no place here.
Those who oppose the doctrine of final perseverance take false ground. Their argument proceeds upon the supposition that when a man is converted, he must persevere in his own strength, independently of the continual supports of Divine grace. But on this principle I would not attempt to defend the doctrine. It is not the true ground upon which the doctrine is founded. We are every moment dependent upon the sustaining grace of God. “Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves, but our sufficiency is of God.” He has given us assurance in His word that He will give us grace in time of need, “nevertheless I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me.” “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” It is God that works in us, both to will and to do of His good pleasure; and, having begun this work in us, He will perform it unto the day of Jesus Christ.
The prayers of the saints are in perfect accord with this principle: “Hold Thou me up and I shall be safe, and I will have respect unto thy statutes continually.” “Uphold me according to thy word; and let me not be ashamed of my hope.” Thus it is in the Lord that we have righteousness and strength. ” Uphold me with thy free Spirit.” “Hold up my goings in thy paths, that my footsteps slip not.” The true Christian prays habitually for grace to uphold him in the paths of righteousness and the Lord says, “My grace is sufficient for thee.” The mother may forget her sucking child, but the Lord will not forget His children, and he that touches them, touches the apple of His eye.
Let us view this subject in respect to the love of God: “God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son.” “But God who is rich in mercy for His great love wherewith He loved us even when we were dead in sins.” “Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God.” “But God commendeth His love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” “For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.” As God loved His people with so great a love when they were enemieswhen dead in sinswill He love them less, now that they are regenerated and adopted, and are His children, and have the love of God in their hearts? After they have become His children by faith in Jesus Christ, does He love them less than He did when they were enemies and rebels against His authority? Did He love them more while they were the children and willing servants of the devil, than He does when they are His own children? Are we to suppose that His love is so fickle and inconstant that, having loved His own unto death, that He will not love them to the end? Is it rational to suppose that He will stand by and see His children actually perish and die for want of sustenance? The apostle’s argument is in direct opposition to the notion that God will let go His children out of the hand of His love. I can see no possible way to reconcile the doctrine of final apostasy with the argument of the apostle.
The children of God are under the new and everlasting covenant, and have a personal interest and a vested right in all its provisions. In that covenant God stipulates that He will be their God, and they shall be His people; for “I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.” I feel a reluctance in referring to some passages in Scripture, because I have reason to believe that some of those who reject the doctrine of final perseverance are prejudiced against them. “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: and I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.” (John x. 27-29). In reading such solemn declarations of the Son of God, the truly pious and reverential mind will be loath to seek evasions. They ought to be accepted as decisive, and impose silence on gainsayers. But if any one will cherish hostility to the oracles of God, it will not make the word of God of none effect: “For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Rom. viii. 38, 39. )
Now, why all this accumulation? How can we read it without coming to the conclusion that the apostle intended to comprehend every conceivable possibility that a child of God might fail of final salvation? Can any one show a reason why the apostle should, in this enumeration, embrace the heavens above and the earth beneath; life and death; the heights and the depths; all things present and to come; and close with an expression that includes everything else, if any exception were allowable? It is my holiest opinion that there is not an opposer of the doctrine, however competent he might be; if he should attempt to express the certain and infallible salvation of the Lord’s people, in the strongest language that he is capable of using, who could equal the terms employed by the apostle in the preceding quotation. For what purpose is the light of inspiration given to us if we will shut our eyes? I am almost tempted to think that the man whose incredulity can resist such evidence, is proof against Divine testimony. I would remark, however, there is some difference of opinion among men, as to whether the phrase, “the love of God,” is to be understood of God’s love to us or of our love to Him. But so far as the doctrine now under consideration is concerned in the question, it is a matter of no consequence which construction is put on the phrase. If it is impossible to separate us from God’s love to us in Christ, our final salvation is certain; and if it is impossible to separate us from our love to Him, our salvation is equally certain; so that the doctrine is in no way affected by any seeming ambiguity in the phraseology. That the former construction is the true one, I have no doubt, for I think the context clearly shows it. But on either interpretation the passage is fatal to final apostasy. God is unchangeable; and as to our mutability we have security in the promises. “I will put my fear into their hearts, that they shall not depart from me.” This text shows that the Lord’s children shall not depart from Him, and also shows the reason why they will not; that is, the Lord will put his fear into their hearts. This one text expresses the fundamental principle upon which the whole controversy rests, and should be decisive with every honest inquirer. God’s children will not utterly depart from Him, because He will give them grace to cleave to Him. It is disagreeable to turn aside to notice quibbles; but sometimes men who are conscious of their inability to find scripture or reason to meet an argument, will resort to this contemptible mode of evasion. It has been said on the passage quoted from Romans, that sin may separate us from the love of God, and that sin is not a creature. I am confident that if a man of ordinary intelligence ever employs this insignificant evasion, he is ashamed of it when he does it; for he must be sensible at the time that self respect forbids it. The objection really is not worthy of respectful notice; yet, for the reader’s sake, I will notice it respectfully. It is said, “Neither death nor life.” Now what could death do in this matter without sin? It would be powerless. And what would sin do if it did not produce death? It would effect nothing as to depriving us of spiritual life. “Nor principalities, nor powers.” There is not the least danger that the principalities and powers in heaven would separate us from the love of God, for they are engaged on our side; being sent forth to minister to them who are to be heirs of salvation. It is their office and their holy delight to give us every assistance. And can the principalities of hell and darkness do anything against us in any other way than through sin? If God be for us, who can be against us? “Nor things present, nor things to come.” Is not sin among present things? No Christian will answer in the negative. “Nor principalities, nor powers, Is not sin a power? If it has power to separate the Lord’s children from His love to them in Christ, it must surely be a power; it must have a power to do more than all the mighty things that belong to immensity and duration of time, for the apostle selects the mightiest things that belong to both, and affirms that they can not do it. Those who desire to stand in their own strength, and can thankfully enjoy the danger to which it subjects them, must have more confidence in themselves, and less in the grace of God than I desire to have. I can easily conceive how a strong man armed may keep his palace in peace; and I can also conceive how a stronger than he may overcome him, take from him his armor, and oust him; but I can not well understand how the conquered and weaker man, when deprived of his armor, can return and overcome the stronger, and reject him, and repossess his lost habitation, especially if the victorious conqueror is the Almighty Spirit of God.
It can not be out of place here to make a few remarks on the term “eternal life,” and others of similar meaning. The term may be employed in reference exclusively to the state of the saints after death; or it may relate to that spiritual life which is imparted to believers in this world, and which is to endure forever. That it is used in this latter sense in some places, is too evident to be doubted, and it is in respect to such passages that I now ask the attention of the reader: “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life.” (John iii. 36. ) Here it is hath, not shall have. ” Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on Him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.” (John v. 24. ) “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life.” (John vi. 47. ) As my object in quoting these scriptures is to show that such terms are applied to that spiritual life which the believer receives in this world, it is needless to add others, and especially as I do not suppose it will be denied. The point to which I would direct your attention is this: that this spiritual life is declared to be eternal, or everlasting. And if it were even possible, according to the plan of salvation, that this life might cease, it could not, with propriety of language, be called “eternal life.” If it is not the determinate will of God that this life shall endure forever, such language would convey a false idea. To say that a man who has eternal life may die, is a contradiction in itself. It is intuitively evident that a life that may die is not eternal life. The life that believers have is dependent upon the life of Christ: “As I live ye shall live also.” Never till Christ dies will this life cease; and He having once died unto sin, dieth no more: death hath no more dominion over Him. And when Christ, who is our life shall appear, we may assure ourselves that we also shall appear with Him in glory. I believe some have said that when they arrive in heaven, they expect to strive and labor as hard to keep a place there, as they now do to obtain an entrance there. In this they are consistent with themselves; the same principle by which our spiritual life will be preserved there, is that which maintains it here. If the preservation of our spiritual life here depends upon ourselves, it will depend upon ourselves there. But as the continuance of our spiritual life depends upon our union with Christ, so it will there. It is the grace of God which gives us salvation here; and by the same grace we expect to be saved in the Lord with an everlasting salvation, world without end.
Before closing this article I will notice one or two objections which have been opposed to the doctrine we have been defending.
1. It is said that if the doctrine of final perseverance is true, that exhortations to faithfulness and admonitions of danger must be useless. On this objection I will remark:
(1. ) That the truth of this objection has never been proved, and I suppose it can not be proved. And, in strictness, all that is necessary is to deny the truth of the proposition; at least the objector is certainly bound to prove the objection true if he will make any effectual use of it.
(2. ) The perseverance of the saints is to be ascribed to the grace of God; and it is His will to use means for accomplishing His purposes of grace. Those exhortations and admonitions may be a part of that system of means which He has appointed for bringing His children home to Himself. Are not those exhortations well adapted to excite Christians to diligence in pressing towards the mark for the prize?
(3. ) We are never exhorted to any thing that is not duty, and duty is the same whether the doctrine be true or false.
(4. ) We are not always competent to decide whether exhortations and warnings are useless under given circumstances. If the infant Jesus had been destroyed, what would have become of God’s purpose to save sinners through Him? And can any Bible reader doubt that it was the determinate purpose of God that the Redeemer should not be destroyed in His infancy? Why, then, did He direct Joseph to carry the child into Egypt, and assign as a reason that Herod would seek to destroy Him? The objection would lie with as much force and propriety against this proceeding, as in the case against which it is alleged. We should learn that God’s ways are not our ways.
(5. ) Though the final salvation of all believers may be known to God as a certainty, yet it is as much our duty to labor for it as if it depended alone upon our diligence. Why should the apostle say to the saints at Rome, “So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy,” and then say to the Corinthians, “So run that ye may obtain?” It seems to be a settled rule with some, that if they can not see the consistency of two doctrines revealed in the Bible, it is their privilege to reject the one which is most adverse to their wishes. They are not willing to suppose that the Almighty has revealed any thing that is above their comprehension
2. The second objection is an appeal to facts, and the object is to prove final apostasy. If they can prove final apostasy, of course the contrary doctrine may be given up. But why resort to facts if they can find other evidence? The appeal is almost equivalent to a confession that they have no better means of supporting their theory. An alleged fact is worth nothing, except the truth of the fact is clearly substantiated. The lamentable defection of King Solomon is relied upon as a case in point, and I do not know where they will find a better. Now, in order to make any legitimate argument of this example, it is required that two points should be provednot merely made probable, but proved beyond question: (1. ) That Solomon was once a true spiritual child of God, and (2. ) that he was finally lost. The first of these may be shown from the Scriptures to be a very strong probability, but it is impossible to prove the second; and except that is proved to a certainty, the whole position is lost. It would be as easy to prove that Solomon was finally saved, as to prove that he was finally lost. In the first place, no man can prove, positively, that Solomon ever had spiritual life; in the second place, if he had, no one can prove that he lost it; in the third place, no one can prove that he did not repent of his sins before he died; and, lastly, no one can prove that he was not saved. It is rather strange that any man of sound judgment should ever advance so weak and empty an argument. Those who oppose the doctrine of final perseverance seem to think it sufficient to produce plausible objections. But this is not sufficient those objections are worth but little when the most is made of them that can be. Before they plead their equivocal objection they are bound, first, to invalidate the evidence of those scriptures which so plainly teach the doctrine.