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common courtesies of life to admonish a brother who goes astray, or to put forth personal endeavors to reclaim any who may have fallen. A false delicacy upon this point has left many a soul to be enspared and overcome by temptation, and suffered thousands to go down to people the realms of woe, who might otherwise have become illustrious among the loudest harps of heaven. A word fitly spoken by a brother may easily tear up the first germinations of sin, which, had they gone on, would have brought forth a fruitful harvest of suffering and anguish. A faithful admonition a timely warning may cause the soul to retrace its first steps in the path of error, which had it pursued, would have brought it into irretrievable ruin. A faithful blow upon infidelity at its first presentation may forever drive it from the mind. Then lay to heart this important direction. Carry it with you in all your intercourse with each other. Regard it with such reverence as never to speak of the failings of others in their absence, of which you have not first personally and faithfully admonished them. Always look upon it as your imperative duty to “exhort one another.”
The great motive now by which these directions are enforced is contained in the words as follows. - "For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end; while it is said, To-day if ye will hear his voice harden not your hearts, as in the provocation. For some when they had heard did provoke:” or to give a more apposite rendering to the original, “ who now were they, that when they heard did provoke ? Were they not all, indeed, who came out of Egypt by Moses? And with whom was he grieved forty years? Was it not with them that had sinned, whose carcasses fell in the wilderness? And to whom sware he that they should not enter into his rest, but to them that believed not? So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief."
The point of this language is, that the indulgence of unbelief will rob us of the end at which we as christians aim. This is first stated, and then illustrated in the case of the unbelieving Jews. Our high aim is to attain unto the blessedness of everlasting rest by becoming partakers of Christ and of his kingdom. The believer hopes that at death he will be liberated from a body full of infirmities and pains, and translated from the stormy scenes of time to the peaceful realms of undisturbed repose. But the text distinctly
states, that we are made partakers of Christ, and realize these glad hopes only upon the condition that “we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end." Though we may run well for a season, should we then begin to doubt and fall away, our former virtue and faith will profit us nothing.
As to that abstract question whether it is possible for a true believer totally and finally to fall, I have no desire here or anywhere to enter any discussion. Whatever be the theory in this matter, facts cannot be changed. Whether we insist upon the fallibility or the infallibility of believers, the fact remains the same, that the awful consequences of apostasy are being continually presented in the Scriptures as among the most solemn motives to christian duty. And whether instances of apostasy only discover a defective character from the onstart, and prove that such individuals were never animated with a true faith, or the contrary; it does not in the least affect the truth, that apostates never can by persevering in unbelief enter into the promised rest. We may either receive or reject the doctrine of the final perseverance of the saints, and the fact remains unaltered, that without perseverance there can be no salvation. The beginning of our confidence must be held steadfast unto the end.
The doctrine that unbelief, notwithstanding former faith and enjoyment, will rob us of the end at which we aim, is very clearly set forth in the history of the deliverance of Israel from Egypt. The apostle first cites the recordeu fact that some did provoke God and perish ; and then proceeds “who then were they, that when they heard did provoke? Were they not all (i. e. from among those) who came out of Egypt by Moses? And with whom was he grieved forty years? Was it not with them that had sinned, whose carcasses fell in the wilderness?. And to whom sware he that they should not enter into his rest, but to them that believed not?” The unfortunate persons who fell victims to Divine judgments in the wilderness, were all members of the house of Israel. They had all believed and quit their country to go with Moses in quest of the promised land. But after having proceeded a certain distance, they began to discredit the Divine promise-murmured against Mosesand rebelled against the God who had redeemed them. But did the vengeance of Jehovah slumber in view of their former faith, and their partial obedience? By no means. Armies, elements, and reptiles were commissioned with the execution of Divine wrath
upon them; and the carcasses of thousands were left to moulder on the desert plains as perpetual monuments of the evils of unbelief. They totally failed of their aim,
It is by the awful consideration then of finally coming short of heaven, that christians are urged to guard their own hearts and to admonish others against the indulgence of unbelief, or any disposition to discredit what God has revealed. Let it sink deep into your hearts. Endeavor to profit by the solemn lesson. And may Almighty God save us all from the delusions and consequences of unbelief.
LECTUR E VIII.
THE PROMISED REST.
Heb. iv. 1–11. Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being lest us of entering into
his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it. For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it. For we which have helieved do enter into rest, as he said, As I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest : although the works were finished from the foundation of the world. For he spake in a certain place of the seventh day on this wise, And God did rest the seventh day from all his works. And in this place again, If they shall enter into my rest. Seeing therefore it remaineth that some must enter therein, and they to whom it was first preached entered not in because of unbelief; (Again, he limiteth a certain day, saying in David, To-day, after so long a time; as it is said, To-day, if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts. For if Jesus had given them rest, then would be not afterward have spoken of another day. There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. For be that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his.) Let us labor therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.
The apostle in this passage still continues the train of thought flowing from the consideration of Christ's superiority to Moses, and the fearful judgments which fell upon those who disbelieved the teachings of the ancient prophet. Having shown the cause of the failure on the part of those Israelites who perished in the desert, he here proceeds to point out the similarity of the condition of those to whom he wrote, and their consequent exposure to the same error and the same ruin. There are four particulars which he brings distinctly to our view. 1st. That a promise of rest yet remains to us. 2nd. The character of this rest. 3d. That faith is the condition of entrance into this rest. 4th. That the failures of others to enter into it should excite anxiety in us as to our prospect of entering it. To the brief discussion of these points I will this morning address myself.
In arguing the point, that a promise of rest yet remains, it is to be observed that a rest for the faithful has been provided, or determined on from the beginning. The apostle remarks, that “ the works were finished from the foundation of the world.” The sanctification of the seventh day of the creation, and the rest of Jehovah on that day, is also referred to as in some way connected with
the institution of this rest, or as a type of it. It was never intended that any man should be lost. Not only has provision been made for our convenience during probation, but also for our final rest and glory. And as God has made provision for a future rest, it is his unalterable
purpose that there shall be some to possess it. Man may labor in vain, or be defeated in his plans, but God never. If he has determined on a world of rest, he also will have some to occupy it. He who foreknew all things, knew also, that amid all human perverseness there would still be some found worthy of heavenly reward. Hence, says the apostle, “it remaineth that some must enter therein.” And looking at the character of God, we dare admit no other conclusion. Nor did those to whom this rest was first offered enter into it. To the antediluvians it was of. fered, but they spurned the promise and died. To Abraham and bis seed after him it was offered, but the glad tidings proved entirely profitless to thousands, “not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.” Most of the pilgrim Hebrews failed to enter into it “ because of unbelief.” And multitudes to whom the promise was offered, were for ever excluded by the wrath of an angry God. Hence the inference, that a promise of entering into his rest is yet
But the apostle refers also to David's interpretation of the promise, and to some remarks of this royal prophet concerning it, as affording additional proof that this promise still remains. The quotation is from the 95th Psalm, where David in a strain of exhortation to his countrymen exclaims—" To-day, if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts,”. &c. The length of time which had elapsed since the first formal utterance of the promise to Abraham, and the utterance of this exhortation, was about 750 years. Hence Paul argues “if after so long a time,” David still exhorts to such reverence and faith as were the stipulated conditions of entrance into that rest, it proves that it was yet attainable in his day. And if the promise still stood open in the time of David, it was certainly not fulfilled since that, and consequently extended also to the apostle's age. “For if Joshua had given them rest, (that is fulfilled the promise) then would he not have spoken of another day. There remaineth threfore a rest to the people of God.” And to bring the matter into a little closer application to ourselves, I may argue from the same premises, if the promise extended so far as the time of