Use First. Away then with that doctrine that saith, One may be a saint to-day and none to-morrow; now a Peter, anon a Judas. O what unsavoury stuff is this! A principle it is that at once crosseth the main design of God in the gospel-covenant, reflects sadly on the honour of Christ, and wounds the saint’s comfort to the heart.
- It is derogatory to God’s design in the gospel-covenant, which we find plainly to be this, that his children might be put into a state sure and safe from miscarrying at last, which by the first covenant man was not. See Rom. 4:16, ‘Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed.’ God on purpose, because of the weakness of the first covenant, through the mutable nature of man, makes a new covenant of a far different constitution and frame, not of works, as that was but of faith; and why? the apostle tells us that it, ‘might be sure to all the seed,’ that not one soul, who by faith should be adopted into Abraham’s family, and so become a child of the promise, should fail of inheriting the blessing of the promise, which is eternal life; called so, Titus 1:2, and all this because the promise is founded upon grace, that is, God’s immutable good pleasure in Christ, and not upon the variable and inconsistent obedience of man, as the first covenant was. But if a saint may finally fall, then is the promise no more sure in this covenant than it was in that, and so God should not have the end he propounds.
- It reflects sadly on Christ’s honour, both as he is intrusted with the saints’ salvation, and also as he is interested in it. First. As he is intrusted with the saints’ salvation. He tells us they are given him of his Father for this very end, that he should give them eternal life; yea, that power which he hath over all flesh, was given him to render him every way able to effect this one business, John 17:2. He accepts the charge, owns them as his sheep, knows them every one, and promiseth he ‘will give them eternal life, they shall never perish, neither shall any pluck them out of his hand,’ John 10:27,28. Now, how well do they consult with Christ’s honour that say his sheep may die in a ditch of final apostasy notwithstanding all this? Secondly. As he is interested in the salvation of every saint. The life of his own glory is bound up in the eternal life of his saints. It is true, when Adam fell God did save his stake, but how can Christ, who is so nearly united to every believing soul? There was a league of friendship betwixt God and Adam; but no such union as here, where Christ and his saints make but one Christ, for which his church is called Christ. ‘As the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ,’ I Cor. 12:12. Christ and his members make one Christ. Now is it possible that a piece of Christ can be found at last burning in hell? can Christ be a cripple Christ? can this member drop off and that? It is as possible that all as any should. And how can Christ part with his mystical members and not with his glory? doth not every member add an ornament to the body, yea, an honour? The church is called the ‘fulness of him,’ Eph. 1:23. O how dishonourable is it to Christ, that we should think he shall want any of his fulness! and how can the man be full and complete that wants a member?
- It wounds the saints’ comfort to the heart,and lays their joy a bleeding. Paul saith he did not dash the generous wine of God’s word with the water of man’s conceits, II Cor. 2:17. No, he gave them pure gospel. Truly, this principle of saints falling from grace gives a sad dash to the sweet wine of the promises. The soul-reviving comfort that sparkles in them, ariseth from the sure conveyance with which they are in Christ made over to believers, to have and to hold for ever. Hence [they are] called ‘the sure mercies of David,’ Acts 13:34—mercies that shall never fail. This, this is indeed wine that makes glad the heart of a saint. Though he may be whipped in the house when he sins, yet he shall not be turned out of doors; as God promised in the type to David’s seed. ‘Nevertheless my loving-kindness will I not utterly take from him, nor suffer my faithfulness to fail,’ Ps. 89:33; and ver. 36, ‘his seed shall endure for ever.’ Could anything separate the believer from the love of God in Christ, this would be as a hole at the bottom of his cup to leak out all his joy; he might then fear every temptation or affliction he meets would slay him, and so the wicked’s curse would be the saint’s portion. His life would ever hang in doubt before him, and the fearful expectation of his final miscarriage, which he sees may befall him, would eat up the joy of his present hope. Now, how contrary such a frame of heart is to the spirit of adoption, and [to the] full assurance of hope which the grace of the new covenant gives he that runs may read in the word.
Use Second. This truth prepares a sovereign cordial to restore the fainting spirits of weak believers, who are surprised with many fears concerning their persevering and holding out to the end of their warfare. Be of good cheer, poor soul, God hath given Christ the life of every soul within the ark of his covenant. Your eternal safety is provided for. Whom he loves, he loves to the end, John 13:1. Hath he made thee ‘willing in the day of his power’ to march under his banner, and espouse his quarrel against sin and hell? The same power that overcame thy rebellious heart to himself, will overcome all thy enemies within and without for thee. Say not thou art a bruised reed, [for] with this [power] he will break Satan’s head, and not cease till he hath brought forth judgment into complete victory in thy soul. He that can make a few wounded men rise up and take a strong city, can make a wounded spirit triumph over sin and devils, Jer. 37:10. The ark stood in the midst of Jordan, till the whole camp of Israel was safely got over into Canaan, Joshua 3:17, and so doth the covenant, which the ark did but typify. Yea, Christ, covenant and all, stand to secure the saints a safe passage to heaven. If but one believer drowns, the covenant must drown with him; Christ and the saint are put together as co-heirs of the same inheritance. ‘If children, then heirs, heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ,’ Rom. 8:17. We cannot dispute against one, but we question the firmness of the other’s title. When you hear [that] Christ is turned out of heaven, or that he is willing to sell his inheritance there; then, poor Christian, fear thy coming thither, and not till then. Co-heirs cannot sell the inheritance except both give up their right, which Christ will never do nor suffer thee.