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close of his long-protracted life and warfare, may be made also child of Abraham; "Ye know in all your hearts and in all your souls, that not one thing hath failed of all the good things which the Lord your God spake concerning you; all are come to pass unto you; and not one thing hath failed thereof."]
This consideration may well animate us to the performance of all our duties
[If no promises had been given us, we might well have been discouraged: for who could "engage in such an unequal warfare at his own charges?" In like manner, if the promises had been less extensive, or less free, we might well despond; because we could have never merited the performance of them, nor ever have supplied what might be lacking in them. Moreover, if there had been any room to question God's fidelity, we should still have been equally far from any solid comfort. But when we find the promises so perfectly free, that all are at liberty to lay hold upon them; and so full, that they extend to every possible want; and so sure, that sooner shall heaven and earth pass away, than one jot or tittle of them shall fail; do we not feel encouraged to embrace them, and to rely upon them, and to plead them, and to go forth in the strength of them to serve our God? Is not this one word, "My grace is sufficient for thee," a full warrant for undertaking any service, or for meeting any trial, to which God may call us? May we not boldly say, "I can do all things through Christ who strengtheneth me?"
Here then is our encouragement to perform our duties to Christ and his Church. Whatever we may have to encounter for Christ's sake, we may, in reliance upon his word, "hold fast our profession;" and whatever exertion may be necessary for filling up our respective offices as members of his body, we may labour and not faint; assured that, if we be "steadfast, and unmoveable, and always abounding in the work of the Lord, our labour shall not be in vain in the Lord'."]
WHAT THEN SHALL I SAY MORE? Is God faithful to his engagements? Then,
1. Be ye faithful to yours
[If you have given up yourselves to him as his purchased possession, then have ye bound yourselves to "glorify him with your bodies and your spirits which are his." Remember then the vows that are upon you; those which were made for you in your baptism; those which you took upon yourselves at
k Josh. xxiii. 14.
1 1 Cor. xv. 58.
your confirmation; and those which you have renewed at the table of the Lord. Labour diligently to perform them all; and not only to perform your own promises, but to stir up others to the performance of theirs also. Do not think to say, "Am I my brother's keeper?" for you have a duty to all the members of Christ's mystical body; and you are as much bound to perform that, as to perform any other whatever. Address yourselves then to the work of the Lord; and "whatever your hand findeth to do, do it with all your might." If you meet with difficulties and trials, be not discouraged, but go on boldly in the name and strength of the Lord. Draw not back on any account: for, "if any man draw back, God will have no pleasure in him." "He only who endureth to the end shall be saved." "Look to yourselves then, that ye lose not the things which ye have wrought, but that ye receive a full rewardm." "Be faithful unto death; and God will give you a crown of life."]
2. Live by faith upon the promises
[It is "by the promises that ye have already been made partakers of a divine nature";" and "by them must ye cleanse yourselves from all filthiness both of flesh and spirit, and perfect holiness in the fear of God"." Lay hold then on the promises: search them out with care: plead them before God with earnestness and expect the accomplishment of them with confident assurance. This is the great secret of living unto God. This will keep up a continual intercourse between God and the soul. This will bring down Omnipotence to your aid. This will make every trial light, and every duty easy. This will enable you to defy all your enemies, and to challenge them all, whether individually or collectively, "Who shall separate me from the love of Christ P?" This will render you blessings to others, as well as blessed in your own souls: for those who behold your light, will "thank God, and take courage," and be emboldened to serve God with increased alacrity themselves. Thus too you will be prepared for "the day that is approaching" for whilst the idle and unprofitable servant will be "cast into outer darkness, where is weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth," the active and faithful servant will receive the plaudits of his Divine Master, and will "enter into the joy of his Lord."]
m 2 John, ver. 8
n 2 Pet. i. 4.
P Rom. viii. 35--39.
THE EVIL AND DANGER OF APOSTASY.
Heb. x. 26-31. If we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. He that despised Moses' law died without mercy under two or three witnesses of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace? For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me; I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
WE cannot be too strongly on our guard against attaching ourselves to human systems in religion. The partisans of human systems take a partial view of the Scriptures, leaning invariably to those passages which appear to sanction their favourite dogmas, and excluding all mention of those which have a contrary aspect. They all take it for granted, that the things which they know not how to reconcile, are contrary to, and inconsistent with, each other. But as in a machine wheels may move in opposite directions, and yet so harmonize as to subserve one common end, so, in the word of God, truths, which have an opposite aspect, may be perfectly reconcileable to each other, and equally conducive to the accomplishment of the Divine purposes. The Apostle Paul insisted, as strongly as any one could do, on the doctrines of grace, shewing that all was ordered by God according to the counsel of his own will: yet no Apostle spoke more strongly than he on the danger of apostasy; or taught more forcibly the necessity of continual watchfulness on our part in order to the attainment of those blessings which God had from all eternity prepared for us. It is on this subject that he is speaking in the passage before us; wherein he cautions the Hebrew converts against apostasy,
bidding them to hold fast the profession of their faith without wavering; and warning them, that, if they turned back from God, it would be to their everlasting perdition.
In the words which I have just read, he sets forth, I. The evil of apostasy
It is not of all sin, or even of all wilful sin, that he speaks for, if there were no pardon for wilful sin after baptism, or after we have embraced the Gospel, who could hope ever to attain salvation, since there is not a man in the universe who has not, on some one occasion at least, knowingly and wilfully done what he ought not, or left undone what he ought to have done. The sin spoken of in the text, is, a total and wilful apostasy from the Gospel of Christ. This appears from the whole context, both from that which precedes, and that which follows. In the preceding context he bids them to "hold fast the profession of their faith without wavering;" and then he adds, "for, if we sin wilfully;" that is, by renouncing our holy profession, we reduce ourselves to the most awful condition that can be imagined; seeing that, having put away all affiance in the sacrifice of Christ, there remains no other sacrifice for our sins. In the following context the sin is opened at large under three separate heads, which, whilst they mark distinctly the nature of the sin which is intended, display the evil of it in most tremendous colours.
Let us consider each of them in its order
[Apostasy, he tells us, is a "treading under foot the Son of God." The Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ, came down from heaven to seek and to save them that were lost. We, when we are baptized in his name, or make a profession of faith in him, acknowledge him before all to be the Saviour of the world. All other lords we then renounce; and all other grounds of hope before God; and in effect we say with Peter, "Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life and we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God." But when we renounce our faith in
a John vi. 68, 69.
him, we, as far as in us lies, cast him down from his throne, and trample him under our feet; declaring, that he is unworthy of the honour which we had erroneously put upon him, and that we will no longer have him to reign over us:" yea, we even "crucify him afresh, and put him to an open shame." Next, it is a counting of the blood of the covenant an unholy thing." The Mosaic covenant was ratified with blood; and with that blood both the tabernacle with all its vessels, and the people who worshipped before it, were sanctified, and set apart as holy to the Lord. The covenant of grace is ratified with the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ; and, when we 66 come to the knowledge of the truth," we also are sanctified with it, and set apart to the service of our God. We profess to consider that blood as the one procuring cause of all that we either have or hope for: and we look for all the blessings of the covenant solely through the merit of his blood as shed for us, and as sprinkled on us. But, when we cast off our profession, we declare before all, that we consider the blood of Christ as having no virtue at all as an atonement for sin, and as being, in fact, of no more efficacy than the blood of bulls and goats, or even of a malefactor, justly put to death.
Further, it is a doing of "despite unto the Spirit of grace." The Holy Spirit, both before and after the death of Jesus, bare witness to him by signs and wonders innumerable: and, when we are brought to the knowledge of the truth, it is by that same blessed Spirit illuminating our minds, and sealing the truth with power upon our souls. But, when we renounce the truth we have received, we insult that Divine Agent, as having borne witness to a falsehood: and we ascribe all his miracles either to Satanic agency, or to some mysterious imposture. We even laugh also at the impressions which he has made upon our minds, and deride all his merciful suggestions as fanaticism and delusion.]
In this view of apostasy, say, if it be not a most tremendous evil?
[Those who are guilty of it, speak of it only as a change of sentiment resulting from conviction; and thus they take credit to themselves as having grown in wisdom, and been faithful to their convictions. But God seeth not as man seeth. God beholds all the evils of the heart which have been accessary to this change; and all the injury that results from it, both to his honour, and to the world at large. He sees the pride of heart which will not receive the truth upon his testimony. He sees the love of the world which operates to draw the heart from him; yea, and the enmity of the heart against