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of fatal miscarriage in religion, and animate them to steadfastness and constancy.
The Christian life is in the New Testament com. pared to a state of warfare, to a race, and other worldly conflicts. These similitudes suppose strife and contention and uncertainty. If the perseverance of saints be absolutely sure, how do the apostles apply to the disciples of their Divine Master these figures of speech? We must fight the Christian battle, in the hope of being crowned with the wreath of victory over our spiritual enemies ; but our contention has no connexion with this victory ; for we were in possession of it before the warfare commenced. We must run the Christian race, in view of the glorious prize promised to the successful candidate ; but our successful efforts are not the condition of obtaining the prize ; of this we were insured before we entered the lists. In the epistles, we find the most pungent admonitions to the professors of the gospel to guard against the assaults of their adversaries, lest they should eventually be overcome, and lose their reward. my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore, take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day; and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the
breast-plate of righteousness, and your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace ; above all, taking the shield of faith, where with ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God ; praying al. ways with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit; and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints."*
Can any one mistake the import of this very animated exhortation? It is clearly this:-My fellow Christians, summon to your aid the many advantages granted by the Author of our religion, that you may be enabled to repel the assaults of the enemies of goodness, resist the temptations of the world, and surmount the obstructions which impede your course in the Christian path ; and that you may faithfully perform the duties required by the Captain of your Salvation. Taking to yourselves these aids, devoutly ask assistance of God, and cautiously and resolutely proceed in the Christian course to the end of life. Does this admonition consist with the supposition of absolute perseverance ? Then the language of the converted man, acting in accordance with the advice of St. Paul, may be this :-Having experienced the renovating influences of the Divine Spirit, my title to heaven is sure ; but the apostle exhorts me to take to myself the whole armour of God, that I may be enabled to stand in the evil day, and repel the assault of the adversaries of my salvation. I must pray always with all perseverance, lest the powers of darkness should lead me astray, and Satan ensnare me to the destruction of my soul.
Eph. vi. 10–18.
Besides these more extended exhortations, the inspired writers frequently in a pointed manner, admonish professors to constant vigilance, and to unwearied exertion, that they may sustain their cbar. acters; and the promises of acceptance and reward are limited to those who persevere in the Christian path to the end of their probation.-“ Whose house we are, (Christ's) if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end.' “Let us hold fast our profession.” “Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering."* “ If ye continue in the faith, grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel.”+ “Beware lest ye also, being led away with the errour of the wicked, fall from your own steadfastness.' “Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life." It will be remarked that, in these passages, the exhortation is not, that men acquire new qualifications, but retain those which they already possess ; not that they strive to become the true disciples of Jesus Christ, but maintain vigilance that they may not fall from a statiou to which they have already attained, and thereby cease to be real Christians.
Learning the real nature of a probationary state, and acquiring the knowledge of the conditions of divine acceptance, let none of us, my Christian brethren, rest satisfied with first principles. As we know how we ought to walk and please God, may we abound more and more.
Heb. iii. 6; iv. 14; X. 23.
2 Pet. iii. 17.
+ Col. i. 23. 1 Rev. ii. 10.
TITUS. iii. 10, 11.
A man that is an heretick, after the first and second ad
monition, reject ; knowing that he that is such is subverted and sinneth, being condemned of himself.
I SHALL treat our subject in the following manner, viz.
1. Show the scriptural meaning of the term heresy.
2. Describe the character of the persons, on whom Christ and his apostles direct ecclesiastical censures to be inflicted.
3. State the meaning of heresy in ecclesiastical history.
4. Point out the evil consequences which result from the establishment of human creeds as tests of orthodoxy.
1. The scriptural meaning of the term heresy.
The literal meaning of heresy, in the original, is choice. Among different persuasions, an individual makes his election. The writers of the New Tes- . tarnent more generally use this word to express a religious sect; and in many instances they do not determine whether the tenets of the sect be founded in truth or errour. (Acts v. 17.) “ The high priest rose up, and they that were with him, which is the sect (heresy) of the Pharisees.” (Acts xv. 5.) “ There rose up certain of the sect (heresy) of the Pharisees.” The orator Tertullus brought this charge against St. Paul. (Acts ii. 4, 5.) “We have found this man, a pestilent fellow, and a mover of sedition among all the Jews throughout the world; and a ringleader of the sect (heresy) of the Nazarenes.” Paul, in his answer, acknowledged that, after the way they called heresy, he worshipped the God of his fathers. Paul also declared, (Acts xxvi. 5.) that, “after the strictest sect (heresy) of our religion, I lived a Pharisee.” In all these places, the original word is the same. In most of the passages, the word does not imply criminality in those to whom it refers. St. Paul, where he uses it, is commending his practices. The Jews, who were the inhabitants of Rome, said to Paul, (Acts xxviii. 22.) “ We desire to hear thee, what thou thinkest; for as concerning this sect, (heresy) we know that it is every where spoken against. “ There must also,” says St. Paul, (1 Cor. xi. 19.) “ be heresies among you, that they who are approved may be made manifest." The different tempers, situations, and pursuits of men considered, difference in religious opinions among them must be expected; and their divisions afford opportunity to test the integrity, the resolution, and