« ZurückWeiter »
ly as God is holy, 1 John ii. 3. Every man that hatly this hope in him, purifieth himself, even as he is pure.
FIFTH LY, I am to fhew whether true grace grows always.
1. It does not always grow, nor at every particular season. It has its winters and decays, as well as its spring and growing times, Rev. ii. 4. I have fomewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Yet,
2. It never decays utterly, i John iii. 9. Whosoever is born of God, his feed remaineth in him. The flame of it may go out, but there is always a lire.coal left, though under the ashes, which the influences of the Spirit will blow up again. It will not always be win. ter; Hof. xiv. 7. They that dwell under his shadow Mall return, they fall revive as the corn, and grow as the vine.
3. A Christian may be growing, and yet not be senfible of it. If one judge of his case by present feel. ing, he may be mistaken, Mark iv. 27. If one fix his eyes on the sun or a tree, he cannot perceive the one moving or the other growing. But compare the tree with what it was some years ago, the place where the fun now is, with where it was in the morning; fo shall ye know the remarkable difference. And the very lame difference may be observed in the growth of a Chriftian.
Again, the growth is not to be measured only by the top, but by the root too, If a tree be taking with the ground, and spreading its roots there, it is surely growing. And though Christians may want the confolations and fląshes of affections they sometimes had; yet if they bę growing in tenderness, humility, selfdenial,. c. it is true Christian growth.
Inf. 1. This may cause fear and trembling to,
1. Apostates, who instead of growing are gone back to their former courses of profaneness and impiety. Fallen stars were never stars but in appearance, and
fearful will be their doom, Heb. x. 38. If any màn draw back, my soul Mall have no pleasure in him.
2. Those who are at a stand in the way of religion. - They have come up to a form of godliness, and they
are like the door on the hinges. They are not striving to be forward in mortification.
3. Those who are growing worse instead of grow. ing better. They are like dead trees; summer and winter is alike to them; they are never the better for all the warnings from the Lord's word or providence : but whatever God says by providences or ordinances, they go on their own way, adding one sinful step to .
another. - Inf. 2. Improve ordinances for fpiritual growth. 0,
it is sad to be fitting under means of grace, but never growing. This is the ready way to provoke the Lord to remove ordinances.
Inf. 3. Let the least fpark of true grace be nourished, for it will grow, 11. xlii. 3.
Inf. 4. Lastly, Labour to be growing Christians.
II. Of Perfeverance in Grace. PERSEVERANCE in grace is another benefit
flowing from, or accompanying justification.
Here I shall shew,
4. What are those things which make hypocrites fall away, but over the belly of which saints persevere.
5. The grounds of the perseverance of the saints. 6. The means of perseverance.
6. Lally, Apply: thew what thide in a state
FIRST, I shall shew what this perseverance is. To persevere, is to continue and abide in a state into which one is brought. And this perseverance is a
firm and constant continuance in the state of grace, even to the end of one's life, Matth. X. 22. Col. 1. 23. It is opposed to total apostasy, and utter falling away from grace. It is continuing and holding on, joined to a good beginning.
SECONDLY, I am to shew how this perseve rance is to be understood.
1. It is not to be understood of all who profess Christ. Hypocrites may be seeming saints, and may have seeming grace, which may blaze for a while, and afterwards be quite extinguished, totally and finally loft, John vi. 66. There are temporary believers, who continue for a while, but having no root, do wither quite away, Matth. xiii. 21. Mere outside Christians, and Christians in the letter, may so apostatize, as to lose all and never recover.
2. It is to be understood of all real saints, those who are endowed with saving grace. Those who, by virtue of regeneration, may call God their Father, as well as the church their mother, shall abide in his fa. mily, and never fall out of it, John viii. 35. Though the the counterfeit of grace may be utterly lost, yet real grace cannot. We own,
(1.) Saints may lose the evidence of grace, so that they cannot discern it in themselves. Thus it may suffer an eclipse, Il. 1. 10. Sometimes a child of God not only believes, loves, doc. but knows he does fo: but at other times it may be out of his light, so as he may apprehend he has none. The jewel may fall by, though it cannot fall away; and the spiritual husband may lock up himself in his chamber from his spouse, though he never quite leaves the house.
(2.) Saints may lose the exercise of grace, Cant. V. 2. Though the holy fire be not quite put out, yet it may cease to flame for a while; though they have spi. ritual armour lying by them, they may be so benumbed with the prevailing of corruption, that they cannot wield it. Wise virgins may flumber and sleep, as well as the foolih.
(3.) They may lose much of the measure of grace they have had. True grace, though it cannot die out, yet is subject to languishing and decays in the strength thereof, Rev. iii. 2. They may lose much of their love to God and one ar.other, Rev. ï. 4.; much of their former tenderness, as David's heart sinote him when he cut off the lap of Saul's garinent, but afterwards was guilty of murder and adultery ; much of
their liveliness in duties, Rey. iii. 2. and so of other · graces. But,
[1.] Saints can never lose grace finally, so as never to recover it, i Pet. i. 5. John vi. 39. No doubt á child of God may stray away from the Lord, as well as another : but though a servant may go, and never : return to the house, yet a son will be fought out and brought back again, Psal. cxix. ult. John xiii. 35 And the servant abideth not in the house for ever ; but the Son abideth ever. So however far the saints may go wrong, the Lord will recover them...
[2.] Saints never lose grace totally neither; they never lose it altogether, though for ever so short à while, i John iii. 9. Their lamp may burn dim, but it is never quite put out; they may fall back, fall very low, so as themselves and others may have little hopes
of their recovery, but they never fall off, never fall a-way, Psal. xxxvii. 24. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down : for the Lord upholdeth him with his hand:
Both these hold true of relative grace; that is, there is no falling out of the state of justification, adoption, union with Christ, peace with God, the love of God, dc. and of inherent grace, faith, love, the fear of God, c.
THIRDLY, I proceed to shew that the saints shall - persevere to the end. This is evident from,
1. The Lord's own promises. He has said it, and will he not do it? John X. 28. 29. Psal. cxxy. 1: They tbat trust in the Lord shall be as niount Zion, which cannot be removed, but abideth for ever. It is true, they have many enemies that watch to du them mischiet; VOL. II.
but the Lord has promised to guard them, if. xxvii. 3. I the Lord do keep it, I will water it every moment ; left any hurt it, I will keep it night and day. They may fall into fin, and provoke the Lord to anger against them ; but he has promised, that though he lay his hand on them, he will not lift his love off' them, Pfal. lxxxix. 31.-34. Though they may be forsaken, yet it shall neither be total nor final, Ir. liv. 7.-10.
2. From the saints confidence of perseverance and eternal life. How confident was Asaph, Psal. lxxiii. 24. Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterwards receive me to glory? If the faints could fall away from grace, low could they rejoice in bope of the glory of God? Rom. v. 2. How could Paul triumph over death, life, angels, principalities, powers ; things prefent and to come, height, depth, &c.? Rom. viii. 38. 39. Confidence in their own management, is not the way of the godly, Prov. xxviii. 26. He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool. .
3. Lastly, According to the scripture, perseverance is a discriininatii!g mark betwixt the elect and nonelected, Matth. xxiv. 24. ; as also betwixt real faints
and hypocrites, Luke viii. 13. 14. 15. i John ü. 19. · From whence we may gather, that the utter apostasy
of the elect saints is impossible in respect of the decree of God; that those who get true grace, keep it to the end, while others lose theirs; and that they who utterly apoftatize, never were true faints.
FOURTHLY, I shall shew what are those things which make hypocrites fall away, but over the belly of which faints persevere. In the general there are three things.
1. Satan's temptations, i Pet. v. 8. He is a subtle, powerful, and malicious eneiny, a liar and murderer from the beginning. Whatever hopeful signs are found about any, he fets himself to rob. them of them, for their ruin. He seeks to set the hypocrite and the sincere through the wind, and prevails to blow a way the one, but not the other. By a miracle of