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does it necessarily follow, that he is secure of eternal life ? For he is said to be an “heir of God," a "joint heir with Christ.”

There are persons who maintain that such is the case; that having once received the earnest of the Spirit we cannot lose the inheritance.

But in a general view of the subject, if the opinion of these persons be well-founded, the

, following monstrous' and irrational consequences appear necessarily to flow from their doctrine.

I. Those, who have received this earnest, and this witness of the Spirit, may obtain salvation by other methods, and under other feelings, than those which the Scriptures usually set forth; namely, that we are to “ work out our salvation with fear and trembling."

II. To them all the precepts, all the exhortations, all the cautions, all the threats contained in the Bible are a mere dead letter. For with these what have they to do, who cannot fail of salvation ? III. If they are right, it would appear

St. Paul was wrong, and was totally ignorant of the matter; when, after having acknowledged how much he was assisted by the Grace of God, he yet expresses his apprehensions, and

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declares the vigilance, which he must exert, lest, after having preached to others, he himself should be a cast-away: and also, when, addressing his converts, as temples of God, in whom the Spirit dwelt", he still thinks it necessary to “beseech" them that they would not receive "the grace of God in vain*."

Tenets which lead to conclusions such as the above, present in the outset very questionable characters, and should be supported by strong evidences from Scripture ere they can claim our assent. But from the text the support they may seem to derive is only specious, An examination will shew that no such doctrine is implied in it. L

It is true the Apostle says," and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ." But does the term "heirs" imply that the inheritance is such, that we must succeed to it? does it convey a notion of a right analogous to that of a son succeeding to an estate entailed or settled upon him, and over which his parent has no controul? By no means. It does not necessarily imply an unconditional right in the person who is to receive it. The word heir, may denote the

" 1 Cor. iii. 16.

* 2 Cor. vi. 1.

Y Kλnpovoμos. See Parkhurst. Calmet, at the word "inheritance."

person obtaining an allotment or property. And the promise of such an allotment in the heavenly Canaan seems to me, in Scripture, to be usually far from carrying with it an indefeasible and unconditional right. Of this the history of God's chosen people, the Jews, presents a striking illustration. The terms heir and inheritance seem to be, in the New Testament, generally, analogous terms, and to have a special reference to the promises, made to the ancestors of the Jews, to put them into possession of the Land of Canaan'. This land was called the inheritance of Abraham, though he had no family claim to it. It was said that it should be occupied by his posterity; but was not occupied by many generations of them, and one generation was expressly excluded, because they forfeited their claim by their perverse conduct.

Again : taking the “ inheritance" in a spiritual sense, can any one read the Scriptures, without perceiving that the Jews were admissible to the privileges of Christ's kingdom, that they were children of the promise ; and yet are warned, entreated, threatened. Does not God, by the voice of his prophets, frequently declare, that he will deprive them

a

* Canaan was a type of heaven. Vide Heb. xi. 14, 15, 16. • Heb. xi. passim.

of their promised inheritance? Does he not actually take unto him another people? Does; not our Saviour first offer them the kingdom of heaven, and then teach, that through their obstinacy "many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven, while the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness. Every portion of their history indicates that the fulfilment of the promises of even temporal blessings was conditional, and depended upon their endeavouring to obey the commandments of the Lord. All Scripture, fairly interpreted, both in the Old and in the New Testament, concurs in the language of Ezekiel: "When a righteous man turneth away from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity, and dieth in them; for his iniquity that he hath done shall he die: Again, when the wicked man turneth away from his wickedness, that he hath committed, and doeth that which is lawful and right, he shall save his soul alive."

In various parts of Scripture, and under various both plain and figurative descriptions, their final inheritance is represented as that,

b Matt. viii. 11. Comp. Romans xi. 17—25.

< Ezekiel xviii. 26, 27.

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d

which the Christian must work out with "fear and trembling," and which he can neither obtain without labour, nor secure till his day of probation shall have closed. We shall find St. Paul's warning continually meeting us, though variously expressed. "Let us," saith he," labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief"." And in full conformity with the above doctrine, he, in the text teaches, that though we be children of God, the attainment of the inheritance depends upon our perseve"If children, then heirs; heirs of God, joint heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. And the Lord himself saith, "Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life."

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Finally, the sum and substance of our inferences is, that those who are admitted into the Christian covenant, are sealed with, and have the earnest of the Spirit, that they are children of God; the same Spirit, through the course of their life bears witness with their spirit, that they continue children of God; or in other words, the Spirit abiding in them, and producing its proper fruits; and their consciences, by these fruits being convinced

Heb. iv. 11.

e Rev. ii. 10.

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