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he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved1. Fear not, for I am with thee; be not dismayed, for I am thy God; I will strengthen thee, yea I will help thee, yea I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness2.
Similar to these are the gracious assurances contained in the New Testament, which are admirably calculated to strengthen the hearts of the feeble and the dejected.
I know in whom I have believed, says the Apostle, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed to him until that day3. Father, says our blessed Saviour, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory which thou hast given me; for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world'.
2. In order to show the faithful how little they have to fear from the assaults of their enemies, and to convince them that God is on their side, Christ builds the safety of his
1 Psalm lv. 22.
2 Isaiah xli. 10.
32 Tim. i. 12.
4 John xvii. 24.
Church upon Omnipotence itself: when that fails, the ultimate felicity of believers will be insecure; but, till then, the gates of hell can never prevail against them.
My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: and I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any one' pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no one is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand2.
3. The Almighty himself, moreover, mercifully foreseeing what a hindrance it would be to his children in their spiritual progress if they had not good reason to rely upon his faithfulness, has confirmed the immutability
1 The strength of the original Greek is much impaired in our translation, by inserting the word man, instead of the word one, after the pronoun any; for the passage, when thus rendered, hath the appearance of limiting the declaration of Christ to a promise of protection only against human efforts. Tis and oudeis evidently relate, not merely to terrestrial, but also to infernal, enemies.
2 John x. 27.
of his counsel by an oath '; and has been pleased to reveal himself to man by the two names of Jehovah and Elohim, the one descriptive of his self-existence, and the other allusive to that covenant which the eternal Three have sworn to ratify.
This is the stedfast anchor of the soul; the firm assurance of the certainty of all God's promises the termination of strife; and the earnest of immortality 2.
God is not a man that he should lie; neither the son of man that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good3.
1 Heb. vi. 17.
2 Si tibi vir gravis et laudabilis aliquid polliceretur, haberes utique pollicenti fidem, nec te falli aut decipi ab eo crederes, quem stare in sermonibus atque actibus suis scires: nunc Deus tecum loquitur; et tu mente incredula perfidus fluctuas? Deus de hoc mundo recedenti tibi immortalitatem atque æternitatem pollicetur; et tu dubitas? Hoc est Deum omnino non nosse: hoc est Christum credentium Dominum et magistrum peccato incredulitatis offendere : hoc est, in ecclesia constitutum, fidem in domo fidei non habere. Cyprian. de Mortal. Oper. vol. i. p. 158. 3 Numb. xxiii. 19.
V. But, notwithstanding that God hath graciously promised never to forsake those that love him: yet, since man, in a measure at least, hath now recovered his original freedom of will by the preaching of the Gospel, he may abuse it, like Adam, to his own destruction.
As a man in the full vigour of health may be guilty of self-murder; so may a Christian commit what may be termed spiritual suicide. In this case, it is not God that forsaketh him, but he that forsaketh God. Hence the Apostle wholesomely advises: Let him, that thinketh he standeth, take heed lest he fall. Let him beware of a carnal security and a reliance upon sensible comforts; lest he find too late, by fatal experience, that the promises of Scripture were not made to the unholy and the impenitent. St. Paul has intimated, that even he himself, after converting the whole Gentile world, might nevertheless be a cast-away, if he neglected to use the proper means to make his calling and election sure': how greatly
I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection; lest
ought we, then, to beware, lest we gradually fall away from our first love, and so make shipwreck of our salvation. Too frequently do we behold persons, who originally set out well on their religious course, at length rejecting the counsel of God against themselves, and dying in so reprobate a state that we cannot reasonably suppose them to be heirs of the promise. Like their types the rebellious Israelites, who perished in the wilderness after they had been delivered from the bondage of Egypt, these awful characters perish through unbelief ere they reach the confines of the heavenly Canaan; for it is impossible
that by any means (Gr. μýπws), when I have preached to others, I myself should be a cast-away. I Corinth. ix. 27.
I apprehend, that the difference between μnπws and iva un, although they are both translated lest, is this; that the former implies a possibility of danger, whereas the latter relates only to the using of means to prevent something.
Such, accordingly, is the precise mode, in which Sophocles employs μήπως, or, what is equivalent to it, ὅπως μή.
Δέδοιχ ̓, ὅπως
Μὴ ἐκ τῆς σιωπῆς τῆσδ ̓ ἀναῤῥήξῃ κακά.
Edip. Tyran. ver. 1093, 1094.