« IndietroContinua »
"works, which God hath before ordained that we "should walk in them."] Let me beg of the reader to consider attentively, clause by clause, this portion of scripture: and then let him judge for himself, whether it contains nothing more than the general abstract proposition before quoted; in which neither the apostle, nor they to whom he wrote, were any more concerned than other men at large are The persons intended had been " dead"in sin," " children of disobedience," "children of "wrath:" 2 but they were now " made alive," "raised "up together with Christ," "made to sit in heavenly "places with him:" they " were saved by grace:" they were " God's workmanship, created in Christ "Jesus unto good works." All these circumstances mark a peculiar and appropriate character, change, and experience, as belonging to the persons concerned, and distinguishing them from all those of whom such things could not be predicated. No part of this change of state and character was from themselves, but all was from God and from grace. —It also follows immediately, that they, whom the apostle addressed, had been ' without Christ, aliens "from Israel, strangers from the covenants of pro"mise, having no hope, and without God in the "world. But now (says he) ye who were some"time far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. "Ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but "fellow-citizens of the saints, and of the household "of God: built upon the foundation of the apostles "and prophets, Jesus Christ being the chief corner "stone.—Builded together for a habitation of
'Eph. ii. 4—10. 'Eph. ii. 1—3.
"God through the Spirit."1 Does not this mean something more than that they were ' enabled to 'obtain salvation?' for are not all, at least all those who have heard or read, or who may hear and read the gospel, if they choose to do it, in exactly the same sense ' enabled to obtain salva'tion?' If this were all, what advantage had the apostle, and those to whom he wrote, above the unbelieving Jews and gentiles among whom they resided? or what distinction, except that of which they might take the glory to themselves?
The words saved and salvation are indeed sometimes used, more exactly according to their import, for complete and final deliverance from sin and all its consequences:2 and in this sense salvation will not fully take place till the day of judgment. But can any instance be produced, in which these words clearly mean,' that 'they were enabled to obtain salvation?' Frequently in the language of the New Testament, "saved," implies being pardoned, reconciled to God, and admitted into a state of peace and friendship with him. Thus Jesus said unto the woman in the house of Simon the Pharisee, "Thy sins "are forgiven thee—Thy faith hath saved thee "— Oconee.3 Thus St. Luke says, "the Lord added "daily to the church the saved ones—" r*s <rw?oiu,m«*.4 Thus St. Paul says, " The preaching of the cross is "to them that perish foolishness; but to us who are "saved (r<»s <ruiX,ofuy>is ifuv) it is the power of God."5 And again, " We are unto God a sweet savour of "Christ, in them that are saved and in them "that perish."' Again, "Who hath saved us and "called us with a holy calling, not according to "our works, but according to his purpose and "grace."2 " Not by works of righteousness, which "we have done, but according to his mercy he "saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and "renewing of the Holy Ghost, which he shed on "us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; "that, being justified by his grace, we should be "made heirs, according to the hope of eternal "life." 3 In these and other places the word saved is used of what was already past; and it is as much restricted to the persons spoken of, as language can well restrict it.
1 Eph.ii. 11—22.
'Rom. v. 9,10. Rom. xiii. 11. Phil. ii. 2. Heb. ix. 28. 1 Peti.5.
5 Luke vii. 48—50. 4 Acts ii. 47. * 1 Cor. i. 18.
'It can scarcely be supposed that every Chris'tian then at Ephesus will be finally saved.'4
Whatever the final event may be, as to those "who, being justified by faith, have peace with "God through our Lord Jesus Christ;" it may confidently be maintained, that every true Christian then at Ephesus was brought into a state of acceptance with God, and numbered among his friends and children; and that the case always was, and always will be, the same, with all true Christians on earth. If any at Ephesus were merely nominal Christians, they were not intended. The epistle is not directed to 'the church at Ephe'sus,' but to the "saints and faithful in Christ "Jesus." The persons immediately addressed had been "made alive together with Christ," and "created in Christ Jesus unto good works:" and much more is spoken, characterizing them in such a manner as completely to exclude all those who were not true and justified belie Vers. Whether true believers do ever finally apostatize and perish, is a question to be hereafter discussed: but undeniably they "have been saved by grace," and are "the saved ones."
'2 Cor. ii. 15. '2 Tim. i. 9. * Tit. Hi. 4—7. 'Ref. 39.
'No one will contend, that every baptized per'son is actually saved, or certain of salvation.'l
This is spoken with reference to the words of St. Paul to Titus: "He hath saved us by the wash"ing of regeneration." The passage, as taken together, implies much more than baptism: for, if "the washing of regeneration" be simply baptism, (a subject for future discussion,) the renewing" of "the Holy Ghost," and "being justified by his "grace," and " made heirs according to the |hope "of eternal life," must signify further benefits; even "things accompanying salvation:" ix^eya cuspids. 2—' Grant, that we being regenerate, and 'made thy children by adoption and grace, may 'daily be renewed by thy Holy Spirit.'3
Calvinists indeed think, that true believers will certainly " be kept by the power of God through "faith unto salvation," but not that all true believers are certain in their own minds, of salvation: for they may be in doubt whether their faith be living and genuine; or they may not be Calvinists, and so not hold the doctrine of perseverance. At any rate, we must attain "the full assurance of "hope" by diligence in every good work and every means of grace j and we must preserve it in the same manner.1
1 Ref. 39. * Heb. vi. 9.—See Rom. xii. 2. Eph. iv. 23. 'Collect, Christmas.
The same remarks apply to what is observed on the words of Peter: "The like figure whereunto "even baptism, doth now save us." As the apostle takes care to warn us, that it is " not the "putting away the filth of the flesh, but the an"swer of a good conscience towards God," 2 he plainly shews, that he does not mean any salvation which is inseparably connected with outward baptism, even when rightly administered, (as in the case of Simon Magus;) but that which is connected with the sincere and upright profession of faith in baptism, as in the Ethiopian treasurer.3
'The persons spoken of4 were not actually and * completely saved; but, being reconciled to God 'by the death of his Son, they had now the means * of salvation, of which they could not fail but 'through their own neglect.'5
Can any to whom the gospel is preached, or made known in whatever way, fail of salvation, except 'by their own neglect?' Have not all the inhabitants of this favoured land 'the means of * salvation?' but can it be said of them all, "If "when they were enemies they were reconciled "to God by the death of his Son, much more, "being reconciled, they will be saved by his
1 See Section on Assurance. * 1 Pet. iii. 21.
'Acts viii. 13,37—39. 4 Rom. viii. 24. 1 Cor. i. 18. 2 Tim. i. 9. 4 Ref. 39, 40. VOL. VII. o