Job xvii. 9. The righteous also shall hold on his way; and
he that hath clean hands shall he stronger and stronger.
AMOGST all the doctrines of our holy religion,
there is not one more difficult to be received than
that which here offers itself to our notice : it may-
well be numbered amongst " the deep things of God."
The manner too in which it has been professed by
men of enthusiastic minds, or antinomian habits, has
rendered it odious in the eyes of thousands, who yet
are truly upright before God. But neither the dif-
ficulty of guarding it from abuse, nor the averseness
of men to embrace it, must deter us from stating
what we believe to be the truth of God. We would
not needlessly go out of our way to introduce a sub-
ject of such difficult discussion ; nor, on the other
hand, should we feel justified in passing it by when it
comes fairly before us: we are bound " to declare
unto you," as far as we are able, ** Me ^t-Ao/? counsel of
God." The doctrine we allude to is that which is
generally called, The perseverance of the saints : and
it is evidently contained in the words of our text.
Job seeing how all his friends were puzzled and
confounded by the mysterious dispensation under
which he was suffering, consoled himself with the
thought, that, when the issue of it should be seen,
it ?hould greatly promote the edification of all who
were truly upright : persons who were unsound oc
hypocritical might be discouraged by it ; but ** the
upright and innocent " would rescue it from abuse ;
and would take occasion from it to pursue their
course with augmented steadiness and zeal.
Agreeably to this view of our text, we will proceed
to state,
I. The general principles upon which the perse-
verance of the saints is founded —
It is supposed by many, that there is in the souls
of the Regenerate a principle which is in its own
nature imperishable and indestructible: and in sup-
port of this opinion, they appeal to several passages
of Scripture which seem to establish this fact. They
say, that "we are born of incorruptible seed*;"
that, " because this seed remaineth in us, we cannot
sin''; and that it must of necessity " spring up unto
everlasting life ''." But we are by no means satisfied
with this statement : we doubt much whether there
be in the universe a man, provided he possess one
grain of humility, who will venture to affirm, that he
has such an indestructible principle of grace within
him : nor do we think that the passages here cited
do by any means establish such a notion : the
seed to which such efficacy is ascribed, is, not
a principle, but " the word of God'^:" and it is the
tendency, rather than the certain infallible effect, of the
Spirit's operations, that our Lord speaks of, when he
compares his Spirit to " a well of water springing up
into everlasting life.*' evertheless we think that
there is in the holy Scripture sufficient foundation
for the doctrine we are considering. It may be
1 . From the immutability of God —
[It is *' from God that every good and perfect gift pro-
ceeds®;" even from Him "with whom is no variableness nor
shadow of turning^" These gifts are the result of his
• 1 Pet. i. 23. '' 1 John iii. g, ' John iv. 14,
*¦ If we compare 1 Pet. i. 23. with the latter part of 1 John ii. 14.
they will give the true explanation ot that difficult passage, 1 John
iii. 9. They will shew, that the seed is not a principle, but the word.
•Phil. ii. 13. * Janui. 17.
436 JOB, XVII. 9 / [315s.
own eternal purpose and grace" : and they are bestowed bv him
with a fixed purpose to render them effectual for the salvation of
©ur souls'*. Hence they are said to be " without repentance ',"
or change of mind in him who bestows them. Tliere is an
inseparable connexion between the original purpose formed in the
Divine mind, and the final completion of it in the salvation of the
person thus chosen ^ : and to this very immutability in the Divine
mind is the salvation of men expressly ascribed'." The foun-
dation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth
them that are his""."]
2. From the covenant of grace —
[In the covenant which God from all eternity entered into
with his dear Son"*, there were a number given to Christ, to be
his purchased possession". In behalf of these the Saviour stipu-
lated, not only to redeem them by his blood, but also to keep
them by his graced : and the Father also engaged, not only
never to depart from them, but to secure them from ever finally
departing from him'^. Provision was made for them, that they
should have " every thing that pertained to life and godliness :"
and the promises which assured these things to them, were made
irrevocable"^; that so their consolation might be made abundant%
and their salvation sure*. On this covenant the Christian lays
hold" ; and in an assured dependence on it he may say, " I am
confident of this very thing, that He who hath begun a good work
in me will perform it until the day of Christ" ;" and that nothing
shall ever separate me from the love of God which is in Christ
Jesus our Lord^." hi this covenant David felt his security^ ;
and in this may every Believer trust, with humble, but unshaken,
confidence ^.]
3. From the intercession of Christ —
[Whence was it that, when Peter and Judas resembled
each other so much in their crimes, they differed so widely in
their end ; the one being restored to his apostleship, and the other
being left to go to his own place ? Our Lord himself tells us :
*' Peter, I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not''." And
to the same cause must be traced the restoration of all who are
re^tored, and the stability of all who stand. St. Paul, in defying
ail his enemies, lays the chief stress on this : he mentions with
gratitude a dijing Saviour ; but glories more especially in the
thought of Christ as risen, and as making continual intercession
^2Tim.i.g. '' 2Thess. ii.l3. 'Rom. xi.29.
'' Rom.viii. 29, 30. ' Mai. iii. 9. "" 2 Tim. ii. I9,
" Tit. i. 2. " John xvii. 6. ^ ib. ver.l2.
'' Jcr. xxxii. 40. '2 Cor. i. 20. ' Heb. vi. 17, 18.
' Rom. iv. 16. " Isai. Ivi. 4, 6. ' Phil. i. 6.
1 Rom, viii. 35 — 39. * 2 Sam. xxiii. 5.
* 2 Tim. i. 12. & iv. 8, 18. *• Luke xxii. 32.
for the saints '^. Him the Father heareth always : and, whilst he
** appeareth in the presence of God for us," " bearing our
names on his breast-plate," and " making intercession fof us
according to the will of God," we need not fear but that wft
shall in due time occupy " the mansions which he has prepared
for us."]
On these grounds we believe that the saints' perr,
severance in faith and hoUness is secured.
II. The particular manner in which the most un-.
toward circumstances shall be overruled to
promote it —
This is the particular point to which our attention
should be directed, in order to elucidate the true
import of the text : for, in the text we have an assu-
rance, not merely that the saints shall persevere, but
that they shall persevere under circumstances which
will prove a stumbling-block unto all whose hearts
are not truly upright before God.
There are many circumstances which prove stum-
bling-blocks to the unsound —
[Amongst these we must first notice those which Job him-
self more especially refers to. Though he was perfect and:
upright in himself, he was oppressed with a heavier load of afflic-
tions than ever fell to the lot of mortal man ; and in the midst
of them, appeared to be forsaken of his God. ow from such a^
dispensation, 'a man whose heart was not right with God would
be ready to conclude, that it was in vain to ser\'e God ; and that,
if he is to be subjected to such trials as these, it were better at
once to seek the happiness which the world affords ; since God.
puts no difference between the righteous and the wicked.
But more especially, if there be heavy trials for righteousness
sake, the unsound professor is alarmed ; and he draws back from
an open confession of Christ, lest he should be involved in
troubles which he is not willing to endure^.
But the greatest obstacle in the way of the unsound arises
from the falls of those who make a profession of religion. A
man whose principles are not fixed, is ready to doubt whether
there be any truth in the Gospel itself, when he sees a Judas
and a Demas making shipwreck of their faith. Our blessed-
Lord told us, not only that such circumstances would arise, but
they would produce the most unhappy effects : " Woe unto the'
* Rom. viii. 34. with Rom. v. 10. & Heb. vii. 25-;
* John X. 22, • Phil. i. 12—14.
438 JOB» XVII. g\ [315.
world because of offences j for it must needs be that offences
But all these tend ultimately to the establish-
ment of those who are truly upright —
[The assurance that trouble springs not out of the dust,
composes their minds under the diversified trials of life : they
know, that, whoever be the instrument, it is God who uses it j
and that He doeth all things well.]
If persecution rage, he has counted the cost, and is " ready
to suffer the loss of all things" for Christ's sake ; yea, ** he re-
joices, if he is counted worthy to suffer for his Redeemer's
sake." The imprisonment of Paul was designed to intimidate
his followers, and to obstruct the progress of the Gospel : but
*' it turned out rather to the furtherance of the Gospel," inas-
much as njultitudes were encouraged by his example to preach
the truth with greater firmness and zeal*^.
So also, if tliere be any public disgrace brought on the Gospel
by the misconduct of those who have been regarded as eminent
in the Church, the truly upright Christian is not at all shaken in
liis faith : he knows that the Gospel is wholly independent of
those who profess it : if eleven of the Apostles had proved like
Judas, he would not therefore have concluded that there was
either less importance, or less efficacy, in the Gospel of Christ.
He considers religion as standing on its own proper grounds ;
and he determines, through grace, to adhere to Christ, though
all others should forsake him.
Here it may be well to mark more distinctly the operation of
such circumstances on the true Believer*s mind.
Events like these humhle him bifore God: they shew him how
weak he himself is, and how certainly he also shall fall and perish,
if for one moment he be forsaken of his God. They make him
also more earnest in prayer to God. Seeing whence alone his
strength must come, he cries day and night, " Hold thou up
my goings in thy ways, that mv footsteps slip not. Moreover, he
takes occasion from them to search and try more carefully his
own heartf lest he also should have deceived his own soul. He
is put aLo on his guard against temptations, and is made to
watch more carefully against every occasion of sin. Finally, he
is made to feel the necessity of living more simply and entirely
ly faith m the Son of God, and of receiving out of his fulness
those supplies of grace and strength, whereby alone he can hope
to get the victory.
Thus are those very events, which weaken the hands, discou-
rage the hearts, and subvert the faith of hypocrites, overruled
for the advancement and establishment of the righteous in every
good word and work.}
To GUARD against an abuse of this doctrine, we in-
treat you to bear in mind,
1 . The characters who alone can take comfort in it—'.
[It is "the righteous" only, and he that "hath clean^
hands," that has any title to the promise before us, or that is in
a fit state to derive any consolation from it. If any be walking
in the habitual indulgence of either open or secret sin, he is a
hypocrite before God ; and to be left to " hold on his way, "
will be the heaviest curse that can be inflicted on him. Know,
all of you, that " herein the children of God are manifest, and
the children of the devil j he that doeth not righteousness is not
of God^."]
2. The way in which alone it should be improved — •
[It is not to create in any one an unhallowed confidence,
and to make him imagine that he may relax his exertions ; but
rather to encourage his exertions, from the assurance that they
shall not be in vain'. Whatever confidence we may feel, it must
always be blended with holy fear''. If the Apostle "kept under
his body, lest after having preached to others he himself should
become a cast-away," who amongst us will feel himself at
liberty to remit his caution, or relax his diligence, in the ways of
God ? " The path of the just is as the shining light which
shineth more and more unto the perfect day:" and whilst we
have an evidence that our path accords with that description, we
shall be in no danger of deceiving ourselves : but the very mo-
ment that our progress is doubtful, we have reason to inquire
whether we are indeed upright before God. Use then this doc-
trine, not as an excuse for idleness, but as an incentive to di-
ligence; that you may " not lose the things which you have
wrought, but may receive a full reward."]
' 1 John iii. 10. ' 1 Cor. xv. 58. •" Prov, xxviii. 14.

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