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by repentance, faith, and obedience, obtain, in addition to awakening grace, conversion and sanctification ; which is what is meant by the wise taking oil in their vessels with their lamps." 3. I understand by the “lamps of the foolish going out," that a part of the human family sin away their day of merciful visitation, and “the light which was in them becomes darkness." They are given over to a hard heart and a reprobate mind. 4. By the “ Bridegroom," I understand, Jesus Christ-and, by his tarrying, the whole period of time from the creation to the last day. 5. By "all slambering and sleeping," I understand the temporal death, (or a change somewhat similar to it,) of all the hu
6. By the “cry at midnight, behold the bridegroom cometh, go ye out to meet him," I understand the « voice of the archangel, and the trump of God," and the resurrection of the dead. 7. By the wise being ready, and entering with the bridegroom to the marriage supper, I understand the preparation for, and reception of, the righteous to heaven. By the foolish begging for oil, and obtaining none, I understand the anxiety, perplexity, and utter con. fusion of the wicked at the last day.
My main reason for believing this to be the true meaning of this parable is this :-it best agrees with the scope and evident design of the whole chapter ; which is to set forth man's accountability, and the retributions of the day of judgment. If this be so, neither Mr. H. nor ourselves will find any particular help from it in this controversy. Indeed we need it not, the Bible is full to our purpose without con. troverted passages.
The last concession of Mr. H. is on page 165. He observes-" It is not meant by the perseverance of the Saints, that such as have been born again, will be saved let them do what they will. It would be a contradiction in terms.
We might with equal propriety assert, that they will certainly persevere, though they fall away.”
I thank Mr. H. for his assistance in refuting his own sys. tem. This is an important concession indeed ; and in this his good understanding must have got the better of his creed, and suddenly carried him captive by the power of truth, He must also have felt a measure of the same spirit, which taught Ezekiel to say, " When a righteous man turneth away from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity and dieth in them, for the iniquity that he hath done shall he die.” Here is the first and second death. But he acknowledges that those who have been born again, shall not be saved, do what they will.”—And what will they do? Why according to Mr. H. they not only “may be left to occasional imperfections,” but also “to commit very aggravating sins.” We shall all agree then with him and the prophet Ezekiel, that even those who have been born again shall not be saved, if they commit very aggravating sins, and die in them! And indeed as Mr. H. asserts, to affirm the contrary “would be a contradiction in terms." But does he mean to say, that it is possible for those who have been born again, so to fall away as finally to be lost? This is the plain import of his words, but cannot be his meaning; for be doubtless believes that God has unalterably decreed the salvation of a part of mankind, Now as no man in his senses can suppose that it is possible to break God's decree, so it cannot be that he believes at the same time that it is possible for one of God's elect ever to perish. But he acknowledges that to say the Christian shall be saved do what he will, “ would be to assert, that he shall certainly persevere, though he fall away.”
Now I ask, does not Mr. H. in substance assert the very thing which he here brands with being a contradiction in terms? Does he not assert, that the true Christian shall be
saved? And does he not also assert, that the tru e Christian may fall away so as to be guilty of “very grea vating sins ?
The following is the definition which Mr. H. gives of the perseverance of the saints :
“ It is meant by perseverance, that all who are regenerated and made partakers of the grace of God, although they may be left to occasional imperfections, and to commit very aggravating sins, will be enabled so far to hold on their way, as on the whole to wax stronger and stronger, till the work of sanctification be completed. . In other words, it is meant, that "He which hath begun a good work in them, will per. form it unto the day of Jesus Christ."" p. 165. But is it possible for a man to wax stronger and stronger in the Lord, and at the same time be guilty of very aggravating sins ? Surely this is new divinity! Let us try this sentiment by the word of God. Being made free from sin and become servants of God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.” It would seem from this, and other like passages of the word of God, that those who would 6 wax stronger and stronger till the work of sanctification be com. pleted," must not commit very aggravating sins;" but be made free from sin. But let us see whether the text which he has in his definition can render his theory any support. “ Being confident of this very thing that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ,” Phil. i. 6. It will not be difficult here to show, that this text as explained by our opponents, proves more than they will be willing to allow; for-1. It is presumed no one will deny but that conviction is the work of God, or that it is a good work.-2. The Scriptures abundantly establish the point, that God does begin this good work in the hearts of all men. The conclusion then is, (if their explana
tion be just) that all mankind will inevitably be saved ! This explanation then will not do, as it contradicts the general tenor of God's word. We must therefore seek for another; and that is easily found in the context. It is no good evidence of the goodness of a cause, when in order to carry our points, we are under the necessity of detaching passages from their connexion, when that connexion is obviously necessary for a fair understanding of the text. This however, we think our author has done in the quotation of this text. But what were the grounds of the Apostle's confidence, that he who had begun a good work in them would perform it, &c. ?-1. From their past faithfulness: "For your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now.”—2. From their present willingness to suffer and labour : 6Inasmuch as both in my bonds, and in the defence and confirmation of the gospel, ye all are partakers of my grace." By grace here, the Apostle doubtless means his sufferings; which he considered a favour, as they worked together for his good.-From their past faithfulness, the love he bore to them, and their present devotedness to the cause of God, the Apostle was confident that that they would be co-workers together with God; and knowing that he on his part would not be unfaithful to work in them, so long as they were faithful to work out their own salvation with fear and trembling," he was therefore confirmed in the opinion, that the Philippian Brethren would persevere. But might not these faithful souls have turned aside after Satan, and so made shipwreck of their faith? Surely they might : especially if they had been “left to commit tery aggravating sins !” This text then proves nothing more than that the Lord is never unfaithful on his part; and that all who are co-workers with him to the end of life, shall never fall.
The second question is, “What evidence have we of the truth of this doctrine ?"
The first argument used by Mr. H. to prove the final perseverance of the saints, is the connexion of this doctrine with that of decrees.----- One argument,” says he, may
be deri ved from the fact that God is determined to save some of our race.” To this I reply, that we also believe that God is determined to save all of our race, provided all comply with the terms of the gospel; and on the contrary, he is determined that “except we repent we shall all perish." are ready to grant, that the final perseverance of the saints, stands or falls with the doctrine of unconditional election. But as we have before considered this point, it is unnecessa:
Again, after mentioning what God has done for the salvation of the world, he observes_“The supposition that he has been at this expense, while in his own mind, it was uncertain whether a single individual should ever be benefitted by it, must be considered a base reflection upon his charac.
165. This whole proposition proceeds upon this false notion, that God could not know perfectly, that some among free agents would comply with the terms of the gospel, persevere to the end, and be saved, without having first decreed that it should be so. This having been proved however to be a false notion, the argumen: built upon it is without foundation.
Again he says "But if he has so far determined the sal. vation of any individuals that their salvation is certain, it will be seen that upon every legitimate principle of reasoning, their perseverance is equally certain.” p. 165. Doubtless, by “ determined" here, Mr. H. means nothing different from the term decree; and if so, it is a pity he did not use plain and unequivocal terms. This argument is much like the former, with this difference, that it conveys the idea that necessity and certainty are the same: which it is presumed