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ON THE

DOCTRIN E E

OF

FINAL

PERSEVERANCE.

In discussing the doctrine of the final perseverance of the saints, two points must be previously determined.

1. What is meant by the term saints. 2. What by their perseverance.

By the term saint or holy person, is to be understood one, who is thoroughly convinced of the odious nature of sin; and, in consequence of this, has the most sincere abhorrence of it, and an unfeigned regret that he has ever offended God in thought, word, or deed. He not only fears to offend God, but he has also a true love of the divine character as revealed in the Holy Scriptures. He esteems the justice of God as well as his mercy. He thinks the ways of God, concerning all things, to be right. With sincerity he renews his baptismal covenant, determining, by the aid of divine grace, to be the faithful soldier and servant of Christ to the end of life. Yet, conscious of his numerous defects and deviations from the purity of God's most holy law; he daily looks up to the atoning sacrifice of his Redeemer, in whom alone he confides for pardon and acceptance with God.

This is the person of whose perseverance the doctrine in question maintains a confident hope. They who believe the doctrine to be scriptural, apprehend, that there is ground from various promises of holy writ, to think, that such an one will persevere in the holy course upon which he has entered, as they consider him to be now partaker of a new nature, which renders obedience his determined choice. This they judge to be the meaning of the Apostle, when he says:

If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature. Old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”

The perseverance, then, of which they speak, is a perseverance in holiness, a continuance in well-doing.

Yet, surrounded as we are by temptations of various kinds, and not entirely freed from the corruption of nature, derived from our first parents, a contest is maintained within ; the flesh still lusting against the spirit. Hence occasional deviations arise, even in the best of men ; but sin does not habitually prevail.

The practical use which any good man can rationally make of the doctrine is, the maintenance of a lively hope, that “ neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, shall be able to separate him from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” But this hope can no longer be maintained than while he retains the above marks of a saint, or holy person; for to such only is the promise of perseverance made.

My sheep hear my voice,” saith Christ, " and I know them, and they follow me; and they shall never perish, neither shall any pluck them out of my hand.” No one, therefore, can maintain a well-founded confidence that he shall never perish, but he who hearkens to the voice of Christ, and follows him.

The doctrine, then, cannot be legitimately employed to support any man in a course of

sin, as such a course destroys its foundation.

It is allowed, with sorrow, that this doctrine may be abused; that an unlawful and unscriptural use may be made of it; but this concession affords no proof of the falsity of the doctrine, since the most clear and incontrovertible doctrines of the gospel are liable to the same abuse. Other Scriptures, besides those more difficult ones to be found in St. Paul's writings, are wrested by some persons to their own destruction. Nay, the gospel in general, which, to the pious mind, is a “ savour of life unto life,” to the heart fraught with deceit, proves a “ savour of death unto death.”

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