Assurance of Salvation; Dependence; the Early Fathers; "Ifs" in Scripture; Predestination and Election

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I write to send you back Mr.—'s letter, but I do not think of answering it. I think, in general, positive truth is of more avail than controversy. He is upon ordinary evangelical Arminian or semi-Arminian ground, and that is a wide field to enter on in a letter. I do not think that I ever said, as he quotes, 'elders nowhere,' I may have said 'elders, as such, nowhere.' I suspect the seventeenth Article tries him, and it is really a very wise statement as I remember it. Their point of departure is not scripture, and hence they have difficulty in having anything. What I mean by 'doing this' was, that if a friend or a parent was to give me something, and say, Keep it in remembrance of me, to make it a command or a precept would destroy its whole nature. The emphasis is on "remembrance of me."
As to Article XVII., he confounds the counsels of God before the foundation of the world, and our knowledge of our election when we are called and justified, and cry Abba, Father. Whatever the means of assurance, I am necessarily assured that if I believe and am sealed so as to cry Abba Father, I know I shall be kept to the end; one, according to scripture and the seventeenth Article, involves the other. They that are called, says the article—obey the calling=are justified, etc., and at length by God's mercy, attain everlasting felicity. So that the question, according to the article is, Can I know I am called and justified? for if so I shall attain everlasting felicity. Now scripture says—first John as Christ's forerunner came to give the knowledge of salvation, then the blessed Lord says, "In that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you"—and the apostle, "We have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear, but the spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father." So John writes, "I write unto you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for his name's sake." I need not quote more. The epistles are addressed to saints, to the "elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit," and we are said to be saved, not merely as a principle (but in the perfect) σεσωσμένοι, actually saved, for He has saved us, and called us with a holy calling—fruits the proof in others, the Holy Spirit dwelling in us, in ourselves. "Knowing, dearly beloved, your election of God." So 1 Thess. 5:99For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, (1 Thessalonians 5:9).
Now I would deprecate levity in so solemn a thing as the consciousness of our relationship to the Father. I had rather see a man deeply exercised in Rom. 7 than taking up the doctrine of assurance with levity. And further, I see in the scripture the Christian looked at as not only in Christ, where there is no "if," but as running the race to attain actually the glory, as actual men in this world; and here I find "if," and working out our salvation with fear and trembling, and the responsibility of the saint comes in, but with a sure promise of being kept. And this is the difference in the character of the assurance; one is in an actually accomplished redemption, with the knowledge (John 14) that we are in Christ: the other, glory, is not an accomplished thing, as is evident; it is certain through the promise of God. See Rom. 8, "Whom he justified, them he also glorified": the whole chain is there from beginning to end, and depends on His faithfulness in keeping us. And this distinction is morally very important, because it maintains constant dependence, but dependence on a faithfulness that cannot fail, which is most important for practical spiritual life. As regards my path, I am kept, and if so need it, but do not doubt God's faithfulness in doing it. I cannot speak of danger as to redemption, it is accomplished, but for my wilderness journey there is; but there is a keeping which exercises my dependence and faith. (See 1 Peter 1:4, 54To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, 5Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. (1 Peter 1:4‑5).) See, too, 1 Cor. 1:8, 98Who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord. (1 Corinthians 1:8‑9)—where he then goes on to blame them for everything—and the far happier testimony in John 10. I must close. This is more important than ecclesiastical questions or the Fathers. It is "that which is from the beginning."
In Ephesians you will find plenty of exhortations but no "ifs": you do, when we are spoken of as yet on the journey. No doubt we see this, as all things, clearer if we are near to God, because what He is, is realized, and Christ dwells in our hearts by faith. We make our calling and election sure, not surer, of course, in God's mind, but in ours.
Your affectionate brother in Christ.
As regards 2 Peter 1:33According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: (2 Peter 1:3), Tischendorf reads "by his own glory and virtue," ἰδία not διά, but it does not alter much. But in these are given the promises, the word communicates them to us as ours, and thus our moral delight is in them—escaping the corruption of the world—the heart is elsewhere. Peter never goes beyond the moral effect—not the vital source: "suffered in the flesh," not "dead": born of the word, not of the Spirit. "Whereby" (2 Peter 1:44Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. (2 Peter 1:4)) is δἰ ὧν and "by these" (διὰ τούτων) the promises; the revelation of the glory and virtue (ver. 3) to the soul is what produces the effect.
The difference of 1 Cor. 12 and Eph. 4 is that one is the operation of the Spirit down here, distributing to every man as He will—simple power, so that it might be stopped, as tongues, if no one understood or no interpreter or even more, at the most, than three prophets. Eph. 4 it is Christ who takes care of His church, and this cannot cease or fail. Apostles and prophets are the foundation which cannot be laid now, it would be a new church: but these apart, Christ cannot fail to give what is needful for His church, and will to the end. Hence there are no miraculous gifts, so-called, spoken of. I am much better, but have again a cold.
1880.