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grace the faints are preserved amidst his fiery dirts, Luke xxii. 32.:
2, The worlu's fnares. While professors are in the - world, there are snares to catch them, and carry thein
off the way. (1.) The world's prosperity is a great snare, and makes many apoftates, Prov, i. 32. & xxx. 9. But true grace will hold out against it, Cant, viii. 7. (2.) Its adversity. Tribulation and persecution oflends the temporary believer, and makes a scattering among Christ's summer friends, Matth. xiii. 20. 21. But the true Christian will weather out the storm ; Job xvii. 9. The righteous alfa Mall hold on his way, and be that hath clean bands Hall wax stronger and stronger. Poverty strips many of their religion, but not a true faint, Rev. xiv. 4. (3.) The example of the world ; the torrent of an ungodly generation strips many of their form of godliness, Matth. xxiv. 12. Because iniquity Mall abound, the love of many Mall wax cold. But the saints ihall not be carried away with the itrean, Pfal. xii. 7. Thou Malt keep them, O Lord, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever,
3. Lally, The corruptions and lusts of the heart. Thefe betray the hypocrite into apoftafy, Jer. iv. 3: Compare Luke viii, 14. Luits Inlled asleep for a while, but not mortified, rise up and make shipwreck of many fuuls. But true grace is never quite expelled by the fiesh's luitings against it; but by the power of God is preserved, like a spark of fire in the inidst of an ocean,
FIFIHLY, I proceed to iñew the grounds of the perseverance of the faints,
1. The unchangeable decree of God's election, flow. ing from the free and unchangeable love of the Father to them, Electing love is free love, and also unchangeable, Jer. xxxi. 3. I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with loving-kindness bave I drawn thee. And God's purpose at grace and salvą. tion cannot be disappointed, 2 Tim, ii. 19. The purpose of God /tandeih fure, having this seal, The Lord knorta pih inęin that are his,
2. The merit and interceffion of Christ the Son, He redeemed them by paying a full price, which must be lost if they be lost, i Pet. i. 18. 19. And he ever liveth to make intercession for them, Heb. vii. 25.
3. The perpetual abiding of the Spirit in and with them, John xiv. 16. which secures their union with Christ, and the preservation of the feed of grace, 1 John iii. 9.
4. Lastly, The nature of the covenant of grace, which is furnished with such pillars as the first covenant had not, namely, the promises of perpetual conservation in the state of grace, Jer. xxxii. 40. I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from them, to do them good: but I will put my fear in their hearts, that they mall not depart from me.
SIXTHLY, I shall shew. the means of perseverance. Let none think that they may live carelessly, having once got grace, because it cannot be lost : for besides that one's giving himself quite up to such' an opinion and course is inconsistent with faving grace, God has joined together the end and means, and none shall feparate them, Acts. xxvii. 22. And now I exhort you to be of good cheer : for there Mall be no lofs of any man's life among you, but of the Mip. Compare ver. 31. Paul said to the centurion and to the foldiers, Except these “abide in the ship, ye cannot be saved. Now, in the general, these are,
1. God's ordinances and providences, He makes use of both to keep the feet of his faints, John xv. 2.
2. The duties of religion, and exercise of the graces, faith, fear, watchfulness, c. 1 Cor. x. 12. Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth, take heed left he fall.
I shall conclude with a few inferences.
Inf. 1. Would ye have a treasure which ye cannot lose? then get grace. Ye may lose your worldly trea. fures, comforts, and enjoyments; the world's good things may go. But grace is durable.
5 2. Take heed to yourselves, and beware of apoftafy;
for it is not the beginning well, but holding on to the · end, that will fecure your salvation, Matth. X. 22.
He that endureth to the end, mall be saved. Beware left Satan, the world, and your lufts give you up your foot, and ye lose all ye have wrought, 2 John 8.
3. As ever ye would perfevere, look well to the foundation of your religion ; for fincerity will last, but hypocrisy is a disease in the vitals that will end in death. The builders endeavour to lay the foundation
fast and securely, and then they are sure that the fu-perstructure they raise upon it shall stand firm. There..
fore lay the foundation well, and ye may be assured that the building shall weather all storms.
4. Lastly, Let those whose care it is to be found in Christ, and to live to him in all the duties of piety and righteousness, be comforted amidst all their temptations, snares, and corruptions, in that God who has begun the good work, will perfect it, Phil. i. 6.
Of the Benefits which Believers receive at Death.
PHILIPPIANS I. 21. - To me-to die is gain,
ALL must die; but as mens lives are very differD ent, so their account in death is also. To an ungodly man death is a loss, the greatest loss : but to a believer it is gain, the greatest gain,
Paul was now a prisoner in Rone, and his case in itself was doubtful whether it would terminate in life or death, (though he was assured it would not be death at that time, ver, 25.) But having taken a view of both, he does, in the text, in his own person, give us, (1.) The sum of a believer's life, that is, Christ, As all the lines drawn from the circumference meet in the centre, so the whole of a believer's life in Chrift,
his honour being the scope of all. (2.) His estimate
Doct. Death is gain to a believer.
1. I am to shew in what respects death is gain to beJievers. It is so in respect of their souls and of their bodies.
FIRST, In respect of their fouls. It separates their fouls from their bodies, but not to their loss, but to their gain. It is with the souls of believers at death, as with Paul and his company in their voyage, Acts xxvii, The ship broke in many pieces, but the palsengers came all safe to land, So when the eye-strings break, the speech is laid, the last pulse beats, the last breath is drawn, the soul escapes, and gets safe away out of the troublesome fea of this world, into Immanuel's land. Now there is a twofold gain or benefit which the souls of believers receive at death, namely, per: fection in holiness, and immediate entering into glory.
birst, Perfection in holiness, Heb. xii. 23. — The Spirits of just men made perfect. In regenération the elect get a new nature, which is a holy nature, 2 Pet. į. 4. but much of the old nature still remains. Then grace is planted in them by the Spirit. It grows up in the gradual advances of Yanétification ; but at death it is perfected, they are made perfectly holy. This perfection consists in two things.
1. A perfect freedom from sin, Eph, v. 27The fpiritual enemies they see today, they shall never see more, when once death has closed their eyes. Many a groan and struggle there is now to be free of fina
but still it hangs about the believer. Sometimes he gets his feet on the neck of his lufts, but they rife up again upon him : therefore he is never in safety to let down his watch, or to lay by the sword of the Spirit. The fpiritual bands are never quite off here ; but then it will be said, Loose him and let him go. At death the faints shall be free,
(1.) From all commission of fin, Rev. xxi. 27. In the earthly paradise sin was found, there Adam broke the whole law; but into the heavenly paradife no sia can enter. Not a vain thought shall ever go through
a believer's heart more; there shall be no more temp. : tation to fin, nor the least inclination to it.
(2.) From the very inbeing of fin. The body of death shall go out with the death of the body, and - then shall the desire be answered, Who Mall deliver me
from the body of this dea!h? Sin's reigning power is broken in fanctification ; yet it still abides as a trouble. some guest ; but at death it is plucked up by the roots. It is like the house under the law infected with the leprosy, for the removal of which the stones were car. ried away into an unclean place.
(3.) From a possibility of finaing, Rev. iii. 12. Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he fall go no more out. The first man in paradise, yea the angels in heaven till they were confirmed, were but as reeds liable to be shaken with the wind of temptations, as the doleful event made appear. But by death putting an end to the believer's probationary life, he becomes a pillar in the temple of God, which can never more be moved.
2. In the arrival of their holiness at the highest pitch they are capable of, Eph. iv. 13. Now every sincere foul has a perfection of holiness in respect of the parts thereof; they are like little children who have all the parts of a man, but none of them grown to their utmost pitch. But then they will have a perfection of degrees, anfwering to the holy law in all