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Christ will deliver you, as at the first; and restore you, as at the beginning. What was prophesied concerning Gad (Gen. xlix. 19.) shall be spiritually fulfilled in you: a troop shall overcome him, but he shall overcome at the last.
6. A sixth fear occasions no small uneasiness to weak believers : namely, a fear lest they should not be faithful unto death, nor hold on in grace to the end. But if God has given thee good evidences of thy being truly regenerated, and of thy being his child through faith in Christ Jesus; thou mayest, upon the strength of thy adoption, be as certain of thy final perseverance, as if thy warfare was actually accomplished, and the crown of glory set upon thy head.
The invisible, or elect church, consists of only one and the same innumerable family; part of which is in heaven, and part on earth (Eph. iii. 15.) Every individual member of this family, whether militant below, or triumphant above, is equally safe in the hands of Christ. Saints in glory are, indeed, happier than saints on earth: but saints on earth are no less eventually secure of salvation, than saints in glory. The spirits of just men made perfect might as soon fall from their state of heavenly blessedness, as a sanctified person here fall from a state of grace. The names of both are in the book of life. They are alike interested in God's everlasting and unalterable covenant. What the Father's love has given to the glorified, will be also given to them that are yet behind : for to this end Christ died and rose again, that he might gather together in one the children of God that are scattered abroad (John ii. 52.): and, by the single offering of himself, he has perfected for ever them that are sanctified. Saints are not their own keepers; and it is well for them that they are not: they would be sorrily kept, if they were. Adam was his own keeper; and what did he get by it? The fallen angels were their own keepers. Peter
kept himself; but how long ? God's chosen are not thus finally left in the hand of their own counsel, nor trusted to their own management. All his saints are in thy hand, i. e. in the hand of Christ, Deut. xxxiii. 3.; from whence none can pluck them,
Which general promise of the perseverance of God's elect, taken as a collective body, ascertains and ensures the perseverance of each believer in particular. For, the whole necessarily includes every part; and, where any individual part is alsent, it destroys the entireness of the whole ; just as the human body is not complete, if only one limb, or even a single finger, or so much as a piece of a finger, be wanting. The philosophic integrity vanishes, from that instant : for, posito toto, ponuntur partes: and sublata parte, tollitur totum. .So that what is affirmed concerning the aggregate, is equally affirmed concerning the constituent members respectively, of which that aggregate consists : otherwise the affirmation would be essentially untrue; which to charge Christ with, were blasphemy.
Let the follower of Christ, therefore, dismiss all slavish fear as to his continuance in grace; and, in well-doing, leave the care of that to God. They who belong to him are kept, and will be kept, by his power through faith, unto salvation itself: and may sing, with him that was caught up into the third heavens, Who shall separate us from the love of Christ ? Neither life nor death, nor things present, nor things to come, shall ever be able to do it. There is no being disinherited of the blessings entailed by God's covenant, and bequeathed in Christ's last will and testament, signed with his own blood, and sealed by his own spirit. Saving grace is the good part, which shall not be taken away. Whatever you lose, it is impossible for you to lose that. It is bound up in the bundle of life with the Lord thy God, and hid with Christ in him. And when Christ, who is your life, shall appear, then
shall ye also, who have believed, appear with him in glory.
7. I shall mention one other fear common to many of God's redeemed, viz. the fear of death. Some true believers are apt to cry out (as the human nature of Christ himself did) Father, save me from this hour.
But why are you so dismayed at the prospect of getting home? Are you afraid of dying, or of what you may suffer in your last conflict? Turn again to your rest; for the Lord will deal bountifully with you, and be better to you than
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None returns from the grave to tell us what it is to die. Some happy believers have indeed sung in their last moments, “ O death, where is thy once imagined sting? Can this be termed dying ?” And, very probably, the passage is both sweeter and smoother than living imagination is apt to suppose. I lost an excellent parishioner in the year 1765. Though he had not the least doubt of his salvation, but, as far as spiritual and eternal things were concerned, lay for many weeks triumphing in the full assurance of faith; he still dreaded the separation of soul and body, from an apprehension of wbat nature must endure in the parting stroke. Some little time before the knot was actually untied, God was pleased to indulge him with a foretaste of death. He was, for near an hour, quite gone in appearance: and his family began to conclude, that the final struggle was over. By degrees, however, he came to himself: and on my asking him how he did, he answered, that God had given him a specimen of death, and he found it not so terrible as he apprehended. From that period, all his dread of dying vanished away; and he continued without any shadow of fear, filled with the peace which passeth all understanding, until his disimprisoned spirit flew to the bosom of God. Oh then, whoever thou art, that art troubled in like manner, cast thy burden on the Lord. You have found him faithful in other things, and you may safely trust him for this. He has delivered you in six troubles, and in the seventh he will be nigh unto you.
The water-floods shall not overflow thee, neither shall the deep swallow thee up. The rock of ages lies at the bottom of the brook; and God will give you firm footing all the way through.
Or, are you afraid of the consequences of death, and what will come after? Throw yourself upon God in Christ, and you are safe. “ Christ's righteousness is law-proof, death-proof, and judgment-proof.”
Are you fearful what may become of your family when God calls you away? Make your family over to him. Nominate Jehovah for their guardian and trustee. Cast anchor upon that comfortable promise : Leave thy fatherless children; I will preserve them alive; and let thy widows trust in me.
Do you dread the buffetings of satan? God will not let him take advantage of your weakness. You shall overcome, yea, you shall be more than conquerors, through the blood of the Lamb and the word of his testimony.
Are you apprehensive lest your faith be small, and your sanctification imperfect ? Christ will be praying for you, that your faith fail not: and the Holy Ghost will take care not to leave his work of grace upon thy soul unfinished.
You tremble, perhaps, at the thought of laying aside your weak, sinful, mortal, body. But you will receive it again : not such as it now is, frail, defiled, and perishable; but bright with the glory, and perfect in the image of God. The body is that to the soul, which a garment is to the body. When you betake yourself to repose at night, you lay aside your clothes until morning; and resume them, when you rise. What is the grave, but the believer's wardrobe, of which God is the door-keeper? In the resurrection morning, the door will be thrown open, and the glorified soul shall descend from heaven to put on a glorified robe, which was indeed folded up and laid away in dishonour; but shall be taken out from the repository, enriched and beautified with all the ornaments of nature and
grace. Are you loth to bid a long adieu to your Christian friends? The adieu will not be a long one. They will soon follow, to the place of rest. And, in the mean time, you will be with Christ, and with all the saints who have been gathered home before you : which is far better.
Should I be asked, What is the grand remedy against undue fear, of every possible kind? I answer, in one word: Communion with God. He," says good Dr. Owen, “who would be little in temptation, must be much in prayer.” Ply the mercy seat. Eye the blood of Christ. Cry mightily to the Spirit of God. To which I add : Wait at the footstool, in holy stillness of soul. Sink into nothing, before the uncreated Majesty. If he shine within, you will fear nothing from without. What made the martyrs fearless? Their souls were filled with Christ. Jesus lifted up the beams of his love upon their minds, and they smiled at all the fires which man could kindle.
To enjoy communion with God, you must be found in the way of duty. If you play the truant, no wonder you are afraid of being whipped.“ Those trees,” says the excellent Mr. Gurnall, “ bear the sweetest fruit, which stand most in the