the way. C. H. Spurgeon: ?The believer, like a man on shipboard, may fall again and again on the deck, but he will never fall overboard.?
E. We have actual examples of such apostasy. We answer:
(a) Such are either men once outwardly reformed, like Judas and Ananias, but never renewed in heart.
But, per contra, instance the experience of a man in typhoid fever, who apparently repented, but who never remembered it when he was restored to health. Sickbed and deathbed conversions are not the best. There was one penitent thief, that none might despair, there was but one penitent thief, that none might presume. The hypocrite is like the wire that gets secondhand electricity from the live wire running parallel with it. This secondhand electricity is effective only within narrow limits and its efficacy is soon exhausted. The live wire has connection with the source of power in the dynamo.
(b) Or they are regenerate men, who, like David and Peter, have fallen into temporary sin, from which they will, before death, be reclaimed by God?s discipline.
Instance the young profligate who, in a moment of apparent drowning, repented was then rescued, and afterward lived a long life as a Christian. If he had not been rescued, his repentance would never have been known nor the answer to his mother?s prayers. So, in the moment of a backslider?s death, God can renew repentance and faith. Cromwell on his deathbed questioned his Chaplain as to the doctrine of final perseverance, and, on being assured that it was a certain truth, said: ?Then I am happy, for I am sure that I was once in a state of grace.? But reliance upon a past experience is like trusting in the value of a policy of life insurance upon which several years? premiums have been unpaid. If the policy has not lapsed, it is because of extreme grace. The only conclusive evidence of perseverance is a present experience of Christ?s presence and indwelling, corroborated by active service and purity of life.
On the general subject, see Edwards, Works, 3:509-532, and 4:104; Ridgeley, Body of Divinity, 2:161-194; John Owen, Works, vol. 11, Woods, Works, 3:211-246; Van Oosterzee, Christian Dogmatics, 662- 666
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