Sermon 749. The Righteous Holding On His Way
Delivered on Lord's-day Morning, MAY 12, 1867, by
At the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington
"The righteous also shall hold on his way."- Job 17:9.
WE are thrice happy in having a goodly number of young beginners in our midst. Our springtide is cheered and beautified withmany blossoms of hopeful converts. They have just begun to go on pilgrimage and would be as happy as the birds of the airwere it not that some of them are grievously afflicted with the fear that they shall not hold out to the end. This is oneof their daily torments, that, after all, they shall be false to Christ-that the Grace of God will fail them, or that theywill fail to depend upon it-that having begun well they shall by-and-by be hindered and shall not obey the truth.
Now, perhaps a little plain conversation upon that subject may help to relieve them of their fears. Ignorance about DivineTruth is not bliss and is not the friend to bliss-"the soul without knowledge is not good." The more we know concerning thedoctrines of the Gospel the better for our comfort if by faith we are able to receive them. Many and many a doubt and fearnow oppressing the people of God might be driven like chaff before the wind if they were but better established in the Truthsof God relating to the points under their consideration. If they did but know more fully what God has revealed they wouldtremble less at what Satan suggests.
It is, therefore, with the view of very simply talking about this matter of holding on the way of the heavenly pilgrimagethat I have taken this text this morning. May God the Holy Spirit bless it to us. First, we intend to say, this morning, thatthe Believer must hold on his way-it is necessary that he should do so. Secondly, it is exceedingly difficult for him to doso-the perseverance of the saints is surrounded with enormous perils. Yet, thirdly, this perseverance is guaranteed by Divinepromise. But, fourthly, it is only guaranteed to certain persons whose character is described in the text as being "the righteous."These shall hold on their way.
I. First, then, it is absolutely essential to final salvation that we should be PARTICIPATORS IN FINAL PERSEVERANCE. It hasbeen said by some that he who once believes is therefore saved. I shall not deny the truth of that statement-but it is anunguarded mode of speech- and does not place the truth in the most Scriptural form. I would infinitely prefer to assert, that,"He who truly believes, shall by Divine Grace continue to do so, and therefore shall be saved."
It is not true that, supposing a man did once believe and then became altogether an unbeliever, he should be saved. If thatwere possible, that the Believer should altogether fall from the Grace of God and become in all respects changed into an unbeliever,he would be damned. On this point the Word of God is very clear and decided-read the 24th verse of the 18th chapter of Ezekiel:"But when the righteous turns away from his righteousness, and commits iniquity, and does according to all the abominationsthat the wicked man does, shall he live? All his righteousness that he has done shall not be mentioned: in his trespass thathe has trespassed, and in his sin that he has sinned, in them shall he die."
If it were possible for one who had entered upon the way of righteousness-truly entered upon it-to turn from it, utterly andtotally, the consequences must be his final destruction, for Paul tells us, "It is impossible to renew them again unto repentance,seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put Him to an open shame" (Heb. 6:4-6). That is not the point we raise at all in the discussion of final perseverance. We do not admit the possibility of totalapostasy in the case of the real Believer in Jesus, but believe that he will hold on his way and so be saved, but only savedby being enabled to hold on his way.
We hold that in order to ultimate salvation it is absolutely indispensable that everyone who is a Believer should continueto be a Believer- that he who is made by Grace to be holy, should continue to be holy-that he in whom the Divine life is placed,should never lose that Divine life. It is the keeping of that life which we believe ultimately ends in perfection and everlastingbliss.
1. The necessity of final perseverance is very clear if you look at the representation of the Believer in the Word of God.He is frequently compared to a traveler. And no traveler reaches his journey's end merely by starting upon the road. If itshould be a journey of seven weeks' length, if he shall sit down after journeying six weeks, he certainly will not reach thegoal of his desires. It is necessary, if I would reach a certain city, that I should go every mile of the road. One mile wouldnot take me there, nor if the city were a 100 miles distant, would 99 miles bring me to its streets. I must journey all thelength if I would reach the desired place.
Frequently, in the New Testament, the Christian is compared to a runner-he runs in a race for a great prize. But it is notby merely starting. It is not by making a great spurt. It is not by distancing your rival for a little time and then pullingup to take a breath, or sauntering to either side of the road, that you will win the race! We must never stop till we havepassed the finish line. There must be no loitering throughout the whole of the Christian career, but onward, like the Romancharioteer, with glowing wheels, we must fly more and more rapidly till we actually obtain the crown.
The Christian is, sometimes, compared by the Apostle Paul, who somewhat delights to quote from the ancient games, to the Grecianwrestler or boxer. But it is of little use for the champion to give the foe one blow or one fall-he must continue in the combatuntil his adversary is beaten. Our spiritual foes will not be vanquished until we enter where the conquerors receive theircrowns, and therefore we must continue in a
fighting attitude. It is in vain for us to talk of what we have done or are doing just now-he that continues to the end, thesame shall be saved- and none but he.
The Believer is commonly compared to a warrior. He is engaged in a great battle, a holy war. Like Joshua, he has to driveout the Canaan-ites that have chariots of iron, before be can fully take possession of his inheritance. But it is not thewinning of one battle that makes a man a conqueror! No, though he should devastate one province of his enemy's territories,yet, if he should be driven out by-and-by, he is beaten in the campaign and it will yield him but small consolation to wina single battle, or even a dozen battles, if the campaign, as a whole, should end in his defeat.
It is not commencing as though the whole world were to be cleared by one display of fire and sword, but continuing, goingfrom strength to strength, from victory to victory, that makes the man the conqueror of his foe. The Christian is also calleda disciple or scholar. And who does not know that the boy, by going to school for a day or two does not, therefore, becomewise? If the lad should give himself most diligently to his grammar for six months, yet he will never become a linguist unlesshe shall continue perseveringly in his classic studies.
The great mathematicians of our times did not acquire their science in a single year-they pressed forward with aching brow.They burnt the midnight oil and tortured their brains. They were not satisfied to rest, for they could never have become mastersof their art if they had lingered on the road. The Believer is also called a builder, and you know of whom it was said, "Thisman began to build, but was not able to finish!" The digging out of the foundation is most important, and the building upof stone upon stone is to be carried on with diligence-but though the man should half finish the walls, or even complete them-yetif he does not roof in the structure, he becomes a laughing stock to every passer-by.
A good beginning, it is said, is more than half. But a good ending is more than the whole. Better is the end of a thing thanthe beginning. In every aspect of the Christian, continuance in faith and well-doing is essential to his safety-without aperpetual perseverance his profession is of no value. We will look at one more illustration and see this most clearly. Takethat simple metaphor of wheat-of what value is the corn in the blade or even in the ear? What man can live upon the greenblade or the half-formed ear?
The joyous shout of the reaper is only evoked by the full corn in the ear, and you, young Believer, you, growing Christian,must press forward and ripen into the perfection of your Christian manhood, for it is only then that the shout of "Hallelujah,"and "Glory to God," shall be fully heard. Take the Christian in any way in which God describes him, and he is one in whoseear is whispered the words, "Forward! Onward!" He is not one who can say, "I have attained." In a certain sense it is truehe is saved, but as to his ultimate salvation-his perfection before the Throne of God can only be worked in him by the continual,sustained, and abiding work of the Holy Spirit.
2. But the fact that final perseverance is absolutely necessary is also clear if you, for a moment, take into considerationthe nature of the case and suppose that the man did not persevere. Imagine a man who started with sincere simple faith inChrist, and with a new heart, and a right spirit. Imagine him to have gone back to the world-can you suppose that he willenter Heaven? He has deserted good for evil. He has shut his eyes to the light and gone back to the darkness from which heprofessed to have escaped. He has, not ignorantly, but knowingly and deliberately quenched within his soul the spark of heavenlyflame.
He knew that the road led to Hell, and he turned from it. He knew that the other path led to Heaven, and he ran in it-butafter awhile he tired, he fainted, and he deliberately set his face Hell-ward and gave up eternal life, pawning and throwingit away like Esau for a mess of pottage! Do you think it could be said otherwise of him than it was of that selfsame profaneEsau, that he found no place for repentance, though he sought, sought it diligently and with tears? For this man, you see,has denied the Lord that bought him! He said he rested on Christ and depended on His precious blood. But he deliberately deniesthe faith, deliberately returns either to the beggarly elements of his own self-righteousness to rest under the Law, or elseto plunge again into open sin, and follow the devices of his flesh.
What shall be said of this man, but that his last end shall be worse than the first? Enter Heaven? How can it be? It is theplace of the perfect, and this man, so far from being perfect, does not even press towards it! He has turned aside from perfection,he has given up everything which constituted him a partaker of the inheritance of the saints in light! He has, after beingilluminated, gone back to darkness-after being quickened, has gone back to the tomb! What remains for him? Take the case intoconsideration, and you will see at once the impossibility of a non-persevering Christian entering into Heaven.
3. Thirdly, I must strengthen that consideration by reminding you that we have very express declarations in Scripture aboutprofessors, and about Believers, too, if such could be, who do not persevere. Do you not recollect the Savior's words, "Noman, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God"? (Luke 9:62). Do you not remember that terrible sentence about the salt, "Salt is good: but if the salt has lost his savor, with whatshall it be seasoned? It is neither fit for the land, nor yet for the dunghill; but men cast it out"? To the same effect isthat fearful warning, "Remember Lot's wife!" She came out of the city of destruction, but she looked back, and became a pillarof salt as an everlasting warning to us against so much as the thought and look of apostasy.
Then comes in that warning where we are told concerning some, that it is impossible to renew them again unto repentance, andthat word of Paul, "For the earth which drinks in the rain that comes oft upon it, and brings forth herbs meet for them bywhom it is dressed, receives blessing from God: but that which bears thorns and briars is rejected, and is near unto cursing;whose end is to be burned."
And that of Peter, in his second Epistle, and second chapter: "For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the worldthrough the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter endis worse with them than the beginning. For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, afterthey have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. But it is happened unto them according to the trueproverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire."
Supposing a man, then, to have been washed in the blood of Jesus, to be quickened of the Spirit of God-supposing him to havegone back and to have entirely and totally lost all Divine Grace. He would be the hopeless man, beyond the reach of mercy,damned while yet living, a living Hell even in the midst of this world! O Beloved, how necessary, then, is it that the Christianshould persevere and hold on even to the end!
4. I would have you observe the form of many of the promises, and as we have little time this morning, I ask you to read thesecond and third chapters of the Book of Revelation. There are some very choice promises made to the seven Churches, and theyare all put in this shape, "To him that overcomes will I give," and so on. Not to him that begins the fight. Not to him thatbuckles on his harness. Not to him that proclaims war, but "to him that overcomes will I give." The promises are reservedfor such, and you know how, in contradistinction to such promises, it is written, "If any man draw back, My soul shall haveno pleasure in him."
Brethren, before I leave this subject this morning, there is something which I wish to press upon your minds. It is not verypleasant, but it is necessary for us to hear it. Let me remind you of some whom you yourselves have known who did appear tobe among the most gracious and excellent of the earth. Those who are at this moment so far cast off as to have become entirelyforgetful even of the outward forms of religion, and have gone aside, by fearful sins, we fear, into perdition!
That, mark you, has happened in some cases after many years of profession-the vessel has been wrecked at the harbor's mouth!The fire of religious excitement burned all day, at least, so they said (we do not search hearts), and it went out at night,just when it was most required, when the chamber, the chill, cold chamber, most needed the genial flame. Doubtless John wasright when he said, "They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt havecontinued with us."
What a dreadful thing, not to persevere, and yet to have had the name of a Christian! When a man goes up a ladder, if he shallfall at the first step, that is bad. But if he shall fall when he has nearly reached the top, what a falling is there! Godsave us from it! If ever I prayed in my life, I think I did this morning when we were singing those words, "Let us not fall!Let us not fall!" Oh, to fall backward into perdition is the worst way of falling into Hell! Christian, it is not with youthat you may persevere or not-it is not an optional blessing-you must persevere or else all you have ever known and felt willbe good for nothing. You must hold on your way if you are ultimately to be saved.
Let me here say, and I leave the point, that I do not assert that a Christian must daily make progress in Divine Grace. Heought to do so. He should do so-but even if he should not do so, he will not be cast away for that. Neither do I assert thata Christian should always be conscious that he is in the way, for many of the best of God's saints are tormented with manydoubts and fears. Nor do I say that every departure from the way of God is inevitably fatal-far from it, for many have departedfor a season-and have been brought back and restored as penitent backsliders.
Christian went down By-path meadow, and yet returned to the right road. That is a very different case from Demas, who forsookthe way to dig in the silver mine and perished in it. The general current of the soul, however, must be onward-the generalcurrent and tendency of the Believer must be in the way of Truth-both as to his heart and his life. And if it is not so, whateverboasts he may make about his faith- whatever experiences he may think he has had-if he does not hold out to the end, thereis no salvation, no Heaven, no bliss for him.
II. Secondly, it is possible that I may plunge thoughtful minds into deeper gloom, still, while I remind you that while finalperseverance is necessary, IT IS EXTREMELY DIFFICULT. The way itself renders it so. The way to Heaven is no smooth-shavenlawn, no well-rolled gravel path-it is a rough road, up-hill, down dale, across rivers and over mountains. He that would getto Heaven must have the spirit of Hannibal, who, when he led his troops over the Alps, said, "I will either find a way, orI will make one." You will need all the fortitude that Divine Grace, itself, can give you in order to reach, along such aroad, the city of your desire.
Moreover, the road is long. It is a life-long road. To keep near to God by the space of a week is not the easiest thing conceivable.To deny one's passions, to overcome one's evil desires for the space of a month might be difficult, but this is for life-weshall not be able to lay down this charge till we lay down our bodies! Here we stand upon our watchtower, not by day alone,though the hot noontide might make us faint, but until the evening star arises, and onward through the dark night till thegleams of morning come! And so, day after day, from the first childhood of our spiritual existence until we have matured intoa ripe old age, it is watching, watching continually, and laboring and pressing forward.
My Brothers and Sisters, I do not know how it is with some of you, but I feel this and must confess it, that in the earlypart of our Christian career there is a freshness and a novelty about everything which enables us to travel readily. But afterawhile-there is no monotony, it is true, except in ourselves-but it begins to be heavy work to hold on in the ways of theLord. It ought not to be so, but, alas, it is so! And we have to cry to the Strong for strength that we may be renewed, orelse the length of the way would wear us out.
Besides that, the road is so contrary to fallen nature! It is a way offaith. If it were a way of sight, one might walk init easily, but it is a way of faith from the beginning to the end! "The just live by faith"-not a way of sensible comforts,not always a way of joyful experiences-but frequently a path of deep tribulation, solemn heart-searching, bitterness, andof gall. It is a way outside the camp where none can sympathize with you. It is a way of scourging and of flagellation evenfrom the hand of the great Father Himself who hides Himself from us for a season. It is a way so contrary to flesh and bloodthat he who holds out in it has received power from on High, and has the Holy Spirit within him!
God Himself must dwell in a persevering Christian's heart! The Hebrew word for hold on in the text is very expressive. Itsignifies to hold with strength, to hold toughly, to hold as with the teeth, resolving never to let go, but ever to go on.Beloved, we must hold on with tooth and nail! If we cannot run, we must walk. If we cannot walk, we must clamber on handsand knees up the hill. And if we cannot even do this, we must stand fast! All Christians who have had any experience of Divinelife will say that from the way itself it is no easy thing to continue in it.
Then, take into consideration, in the next place, as to our difficulties, our flesh-that heavy load which we have to takealong this weary way. We have constitutional sins, any one of which, if left unwatched for a little season, would cause usto make shipwreck of our faith! Some of us are constitutionally idle, we would scarcely do anything unless the solemn obligationof duty compelled us. Others are constitutionally angry-quick tempered-and for them to become like little children (whichthey must do if they would be saved) is no easy task.
Some, I know, are naturally desponding. Their eyes have always a blue tinge, everything looks blue as they look abroad, andit is not so easy for them to trust in the Lord and do good, waiting patiently for the Lord's appearing. These natural infirmitiesand weaknesses of ours render it hard to drag our flesh along the road to Heaven. Besides this, who does not know that hebears a cage of unclean birds within himself? If my pas-
sions were all naturally on God's side, and would, without Grace, run towards Heaven, then there might be no difficulty inholding on the way. But, alas, the whole of our nature, when let alone, strains and tugs to go back to the land of Egypt!
And sometimes it seems as if our baser passions would get the victory and compel us to wear, once more, the galling yoke,and to fret under the fierce bondage of the Pharaoh of Hell. It must not be, it shall not be! But, O God, save me from thatevil man, myself. "O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" Paul said so, and we haveoften had to say it. And when living nearest to God, we have had to groan most over indwelling sin! Besides our flesh, however,my Brothers and Sisters, we are all conscious of other foes in our way to Heaven. For instance, there is the world. Can youmix with it and obtain from it any quickening in the spiritual life?
You are compelled to mix in it. Your business calls you. Common society demands of you that you should, in some measure, mixwith the world, for if you are not to speak to sinners, you must go out of the world altogether. But is it not hard work,after a week, perhaps, of toil with ungodly, blaspheming workmen, to come up to the House of God with the mind quite calm?To be in business with its worries, and its cares, and in the world with its customs, and its maxims, and still to be a childof God is not easy!
Ah, you must be a child of God, indeed, to remain true in such a world as this! Sometimes the world persecutes the Christian.And it is not always the easiest thing to fight with old Giant Grim and keep the middle of the way and overcome him. Thenthere is that Vanity Fair, and he is a man, indeed, who can turn a deaf ear to all that crying, "Buy, buy, buy!" Worst ofall there is Madam Bubble with her sweet speech, and her words softer than butter, while inwardly they are drawn swords. Youknow how Mr. Standfast had to take to his knees before he could get rid of that old witch when she offered him all sorts ofdelights, having caught him just in the frame for it, when he said he was as poor as an owlet, and weary and faint. Then itwas she offered him all that is fleshly and pleasant-only tears and prayers got him out of that difficulty. "The righteousshall hold on his way." O God, You have said it, but if You had not said so, we should have declared that in such a worldas this it would be impossible for a Christian, through a life of trial, to maintain his integrity!
Then there is the devil. We put him last, for he is the most terrible foe. When he stretches his feet across the middle ofthe way and swears that he will spill our souls and we shall go no farther. When he brings the past up and tells us of ourunfaithfulness. When he insinuates that there is no hereafter, that there is no Heaven, and that our faith is all a foolishinvention, and an old wives' fable. And then when he holds out present enjoyment and present gain and tells us that if wedo not get these we shall have nothing-and hisses out the accusation that we are hypocrites, and I know not what-ah, then,unless we carry the true Jerusalem blade of the Word of God, and have the Grace of God to nerve our arm while we wield thatsword of the Spirit, we shall not be "more than conquerors," but die on the road!
It is difficult for us to persevere for awhile, but it is difficult in the extreme to do so to the end. To get to Heaven isno child's work. He that gets there will have to fight for every inch of the road. And when he gets there, oh, how he willclap his hands as he looks back upon the danger! How he will shout with them that triumph when he once finds himself emancipatedfrom 10,000 dangers, and "with God eternally shut in."
III. Thirdly, and, I trust, most comforting to our souls, the PERSEVERANCE OF THE CHRISTIAN IS GUARANTEED. Would you
prefer to hear one or two of the passages of Scripture read which guarantee the perseverance of Believers? I have little timethis morning, but here is one, the 32nd chapter of Jeremiah, 40th verse: "And I will make an everlasting covenant with them,that I will not turn away from them, to do them good; but I will put My fear into their hearts, that they shall not departfrom Me."
There is a double blessing-God will not depart from His people-His people shall not depart from Him. Thus doubly are theykept by Divine Grace. Our Savior's words in the sixth chapter of John, at the 39th and 40th verses, are sweetly to the sameimport: "This is the Father's which has sent Me, that of all which He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raiseit up again at the last day. And this is the will of Him that sent Me, that everyone which sees the Son, and believes on Him,may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day."
You know that memorable passage a little farther on-the 10th chapter of John, 28th and 29th verses: "And I give unto themeternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of My hand. My Father, which gave them toMe, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of My Father's hand." If more were needed, you might turn tothat inexpressibly precious passage in the eighth chapter of Romans, where, towards the close, the Apostle, having challengedHeaven, and earth, and Hell, to condemn the Believer, says, "I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, norprincipalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature shall beable to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."
The beloved Apostle John, to quote from him once more, has told us in the 19th verse of the second chapter of his first Epistle,"They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: butthey went out that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us. But you have an unction from the Holy One, andyou know all things."
These are just a handful of texts, and a mere handful from a vast mass. So clear is the doctrine of the Final Perseveranceof the Saints that I venture to assert boldly that if the Bible does not teach it, it does not teach anything at all! If thatis not a clear doctrine of Revelation, then neither is the doctrine of the Deity of Christ, nor, indeed, any doctrine, andthe Bible must be a mere wax nose, to be molded according to our will.
But, Beloved, there are these considerations which make the perseverance of the Christian certain to us. Unless the Christianshall persevere, the eternal purpose of God will be defeated! For from the beginning God has chosen His people unto holiness,to be set apart for His service, to be purified by His Grace that they may be presented at last without spot or wrinkle, orany such thing. If Believers do not persevere, we have shown that they must perish as other apostates do! Therefore, sincethe purpose of God for the sanctification and safety of His chosen cannot be frustrated, and the design of the Most High standsfast, we believe that the righteous shall hold on his way.
In addition to this, the work of Jesus Christ would be of no use unless the blood-washed held on their way. The Lord Jesushas redeemed His people from among men! But, if, though they have been redeemed, they should not persevere unto the end theywould perish-then it would follow that Christ shed His blood in vain! Then He bought those whom He will never have! He sufferedfor the sins of men who afterwards have to suffer for their own sins-which always seems to us to be a supposition filled withblasphemous impossibility-that Christ should be a Surety for men's sins, and be punished in their place, and yet those menshould be punished for the sins which were laid upon their Scapegoat!
Such must be emphatically the case, Brethren, unless those who are redeemed by blood persevere to the end. Jesus has evidentlytaken their sins, and taken them in vain and suffered for them in vain. He has been their Substitute, and yet these men perish!Moreover, through the righteousness of Christ, Believers are justified-they are declared to be no longer under the Law. Butif they do not persevere in holiness, they perish! How can he perish who is justified? How shall he be condemned who is notunder the Law, and consequently has no Law which can condemn him? The thing becomes impossible! We are involved in a meshof difficulties, a labyrinth from which we cannot escape if we suppose it to be possible for a saint to finally fall fromGrace.
Moreover, all true Believers are one with Christ. They are married to Him. Shall Christ lose His spouse? They are membersof His body- they are declared to be parts of Himself! And shall Christ be dismembered? Shall He be a dislocated, disjointed,broken-up humanity? No! The Church is His fullness-the fullness of Him that fills all in all. If Jesus saves not His Church,He is not a perfect Christ-He is a maimed and wounded Savior! My Brothers and Sisters, the Lord Jesus Christ has gone to Heavenas our Representative-He represents every Believer. Does He represent those who shall ultimately be cast into Hell? Has Hegone to prepare a place for Believers? Yes! Then they shall have the place prepared for them, for otherwise the places willbe prepared, but the people will not come.
Has he not said that He is able to save to the uttermost them that come unto God by Him? How, then, shall it be possible forthose who have come to God by Him to perish, seeing He ever lives to make intercession for them? Paul uses an overwhelmingargument which I cannot this morning open up in full, but it has a triple power about it. "If," said he, "when we were enemies,we were reconciled unto God by the death of His Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life." If whenwe were enemies, without a thought towards God, He reconciled us, much more will He save us now that we are His children!
If we were reconciled, much more shall we be saved, which is by far the least difficult work of the two! And if the deathof Christ sufficed to reconcile us, what shall not the life of the Glorious, Immortal Savior do? Surely if the death has doneso much, the life shall do yet more, and it shall be true as it is written, "Because I live, you shall live also." Further,my Brethren, as we have spoken of the Father and of the Son, there is the Holy Spirit's work to be taken into consideration.He dwells in us! Shall He be expelled? It is written that we are the temples of the Holy Spirit-shall the temples of the HolySpirit become like the temples of Jove or of Saturn? Shall they be given up to the moles and the bats, degraded and defiled?God forbid!
He that dwells there will drive out the foe and maintain a shrine for Himself in purity. The Holy Spirit has begun to sanctifyus. Will He begin and not conclude? Shall the Holy Spirit be defeated by the devil and the flesh? Shall the banner of thedevil be hung in Satan's hall because he has overcome the elect? Beloved, God gave the victory to Satan for a moment in thegarden of Eden, but with the determination to win it from him. And He has bound captivity captive, and there shall be noneof the spoils of the elect left in the hands of the enemy. God shall be conqueror all through the campaign-and at the lastthe Spirit shall not be defeated in a single heart where He came to dwell!
Let us rejoice, then, that when we consider the work of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, it does seem impossible that therighteous should be lost. They must, therefore, hold on their way. Beloved, let us fall back upon this Truth of God in ourtimes of worst discouragement. And if any say, "This is not a practical truth, but calculated to lull us into slumber," letus prove, by our activity, that they err, not knowing the Truth of God. I can never conceive that it dispirits the soldier,when he is fighting, to tell him that he must win the victory!
This is what Cromwell's ironsides said when they saw the great general riding along the ranks, "'Tis he!" they said, "'tishe!" They felt the victory was sure where Cromwell was, and like thunderbolts they dashed upon their enemies until, as thinclouds before the tempest, the foemen flew apace. The certainty of victory gives strength to the arm that wields the sword.To say to the Christian you shall persevere till you get to the journey's end-will that make him sit down on the next mile-stone?No! He will climb the mountain, wiping the sweat from his brow! And as he looks upon the plain he will descend with surerand more cautious footsteps, because he knows he shall reach the journey's end.
God will speed the ship over the waves into the desired haven-will the conviction of that on the part of the captain makehim neglect the vessel? Yes, if he is a fool! But if he is a man in his wits, the very certainty that he shall cross the deepwill only strengthen him in time of storm to do what he would not have dreamt of doing if he had been afraid the vessel wouldbe cast away. Brothers and Sisters, let this doctrine impel us to a holy ardency of watchfulness, and may the Lord bless usand enable us to persevere to the end.
IV. Lastly, PERSEVERANCE IS GUARANTEED, BUT NOT TO EVERYBODY. There are some here who are not believers in Christ. A textrose up last night out of the Bible and struck me very painfully. I was afraid, as I read it, that some of you would persevereto the end and would go to Hell, for I read these words, "He that is filthy, let him be filthy still." I wondered whetherChrist would say that of some of you. I am afraid for you. You have been warned. You have heard the Gospel. You have beenentreated to wash in the Fountain but you will not come. You have put off many and many a stroke of conscience, and said,"Go your way. When I have a more convenient season I will send for you."
Now, mind, mind lest Christ should say, "Let him alone. He is unjust, let him be unjust still. He is prayerless, let him beprayerless still. He never feels the Word, let him be unfeeling still. He is a tearless, Christless soul-he shall be so forever."God forbid it! Do not any of you who are in that case go home and talk about the comfortable doctrine I have preached! Ifit is nothing to you, you are like the poor shivering outcast in the street who sees Christmas festivities through the windowin which he has no share.
Go home, and God break your heart over this! May God cause you to mourn that there is no gracious perseverance for you, becauseyou have no Grace to persevere in! And that if you persevere in the road you are now in, it will only be to keep to the roadof destruction that will at last end in the dreadful terminus of Hell-fire. There are, on the other hand, some of you whohave made a profession of faith. It may be these hands baptized you in the name of the Lord Jesus, in this pool beneath. Ah,well, Christ has not said that you shall all persevere. Perhaps you made a profession merely to please parents, or friends,or to do what seemed to be a custom with others.
Perhaps you never had a deep sense of sin. Perhaps you never did rest in Christ. I pray God that you may not persevere, butmay repent and begin anew! Do not say, "Peace, peace," where there is no peace. Come as a poor sinner to Christ and you willnever be cast away! But it you
merely make a profession of a notional religion that you have in your head, and not in your heart, it will be all ill withyou at the last. You will be like the plant which had not much earth-when the sun arose, the root was scorched and the plantwithered away.
May God give you Grace-may you be deeply rooted with Divine Grace in your heart. But it is to you who have faith in God-itis to you that this final perseverance is promised! And I ask you to come this morning and take it. "How," you say, "shallI take it?" Why, come to Jesus just as you did when you first came! That is the true final perseverance-to come always toChrist, having nothing in self, but having all in Him! I hope you and I feel, this morning, that the sweet verse of Topladystill fits our case-
"Nothing in my hand I bring-
Simply to Your Cross I cling.
Naked, come to You for dress.
Helpless, look to You for Grace.
Foul, I to the Fountain fly-
Wash me, Savior, or I die."
Keep to that, never get an inch beyond that. Stand at the foot of the Cross and view the sin-atoning blood! Rest there living!Rest there dying! And then when your spirit mounts to Heaven, may your last song be of being washed in blood. And in Heavenmay it be said of you as of your fellow sinners, "They have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb."The Lord bless you and keep you, and cause His face to shine upon you, and give you peace. Amen and Amen!