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“ there are become many Antichrists .... they went out from us, but they were not of us ; for if they had been of us, they would, no doubt, have remained with us; but that they may be manifest that they are not all of us,” 1 John, ii. 18. And again he says, “many seducers are gone out into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is eome in the flesh, this is a seducer and an Antichrist,” 2 John, verse 7.; and to shew that not only those who deny the divinity of Jesus Christ, but also those who do not embrace his doctrine, fall under the same condemnation, he immediately adds, “Whosoever revolteth, and continueth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that continueth in the doctrine, the same hath both the Father and the Son,” verse 9. What stronger terms could be used to shew that all such as se-. parate from the Church of Christ, and receive not his sacred doctrine, are out of the way of salvation ?
Now, if all those who break off from the Church. of Christ, and all those who teach false doctrine, contrary to “ the faith once revealed to her, and which shall never depart out of her mouth,” are. condemned in such strong and severe terms by the Holy Ghost in his holy Scriptures, what condition. must those be in who follow such false teachers, and hold such pernicious doctrine? Is there the smallest reason to suppose, that salvation can possibly be found among " revenous wolves, seducers of the flock, speakers of perverse things ?”. Is it possible to be saved in “pernicious sects, damnable heresies, false doctrines, dissensions, and. oifences contrary to the doctrine received from the apostles?” Can these be sure guides to heaven whom the word of God declares to be “enemies of the cross of Christ,” and “Antichrists, whose end is destruction,” who fall under the curse of the apostle,“ to whom the mist of darkness is reserved ?",
But let us hear the Scripture itself for the answer to these questions ?
(1.) St. Paul, in the black catalogue he gives of the works of the flesh, reckons sects, or as the Protestant translation has it, heresies, for one of them, and classing this with idolatry, witchcraft, dissensions, and the rest of that hideous crew, he concludes in these words : “Of which I foretel you, as I have foretold to you, that they who do such things shall not obtain the kingdom of God," Gal. v. 20.
(2.) Our Saviour, foretelling the evils of the latter times, says, “and many false prophets shall arise, and shall seduce many ... but he that shall persevere to the end, he shall be saved,” Matth. xxiv. 11, 13. Is it not evident from this, that those who are seduced by these false prophets shall not be saved ? and that salvation will be the happy lot only of those who persevere in the faith and love of Christ to the end ?
(3.) St. Peter, foretelling that “there shall be lying teachers, who shall bring in damnable heresies, and bring upon themselves swift destruction," immediately adds, “ and many shall follow their riotousness, (or, as the Protestant translation has it, their pernicious ways,) through whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of,” 2 Pet. ii. 2. Now, to whom are these ways pernicious, but to those who follow them ?
(4.) The whole epistle of St. Jude contains á description of all those who follow these pernicious ways, and of their miserable fate, and says,
“ that they are raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own confusion, wandering stars, to whom the storm of darkness is reserved for ever,” vers. 13.
(5.) St. Paul declares, “ that in the last times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to
spirits of error, and doctrines of devils, speaking lies in hypocrisy, and having their consciences seared," 1 Tim. iv. 1. Can any one imagine salvation is possible to those who follow the spirit of error for their guide, and embrace the doctrine of devils ?
(6.) The same holy apostle, giving an ample description of heretics, says, among other things, that "they have an appearance of godliness, but deny the power thereof .. .. ever learning and never attaining the knowledge of the truth ... that they are men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith ... and that being evil men and seducers, they grow worse and worse, erring and driving into error," 2 Tim. iii. What grounds can, such as these have to expect salvation ?
(7.) But our blessed Saviour, in one short sen. tence, clearly shews the miserable fate of all those who follow these teachers, when he says, “They are blind leaders of the blind; and if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the pit,” Matth. xv. 14.; which evidently shows that the lot of both shall be the same, and that all the above deadful condemnations of false teachers, equally belong to such as follow them.
(8.) These testimonies of Scripture are so strong and convincing, that the Church of England fairly acknowledges the truth of what they contain, and in the 18th of her Thirty-nine Articles, declares, “ That those ARE TO BE HAD ACCURSED, that presume to say, that every man shall be saved by the law or sect which he professeth, so that he be diligent to frame his life according to that law and the light of nature. For the holy Scripture doth set out to us only the name of Jesus Christ, where. by man must be saved.” And we have evidently seen above, that salvation can never be had in him, without believing the sacred doctrine which he revealed to the world.
(9.) We shall add one proof more with regard to Jews, Turks, Heathens, and Idolaters, and all who know not the true God, por Jesus Christ bis Son, and who do not obey his gospel; of these the Scripture says, “The Gentiles have stuck fast in the destruction which they prepared .... the wicked shall be turned into hell, and the nations that forget God,” Psal. ix. 16, 18. “ The Lord shall reign to eternity, yea, for ever and ever. Ye Gentiles (the heathens) shall perish from his land," Psal. x. 16. But particularly what follows: “Jesus Christ shall be revealed from heaven with the angels of his power, in a flame of fire, yielding vengeance to them who know not God, and who obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, who shall suffer eternal punishment in destruction from the face of our Lord, and from the glory of his power," 2 Thess. i. 7. This is no less clear and precise than it is dreadful and terrible, and cuts off all evasion, as it declares in the most express terms, that all those who know not God, and who obey not the gospel of Christ, shall be lost for ever; which evidently shews, that the knowledge and belief of God, and of Jesus Christ and obedience to his gospel, are absolutely required by him, as essential conditions of salvation,
Q. 2. These proofs are all very strong, indeed; but what is the result of all these reasonings and Scripture testimonies ?
A. The consequence of these is self-evident, to wit, that since salvation cannot be had in any sect of people separated in faith from the Church of Christ, and teaching false doctrine ; therefore the Church of Christ is the only road set forth to us by Almighty God, in which we can be saved, and out of her communion there is no ordinary possibility of salvation.
Q. 3. Why do you say ordinary possibility of salvation ? Is there any reason to suppose that God has reserved any extraordinary means of salvation for some who are not joined in communion with the Church of Christ by the true faith ?
A. No doubt, it is (absolutely speaking) possible for God to save men by any means he pleases ; and he could have saved all mankind through the merits of any one thing that Jesus Christ did or suffered, without requiring such a severe sacrifice from him as his death
the cross. But what ever God can do in this respect, is nothing to our purpose; the great question for us is to know what he has done. Now we have seen above, from the whole tenor of revelation, that God has appointed true faith in Jesus Christ, and the being a member of his Church, as conditions of salvation. That he bas appointed them as essential conditions, so that none will or can be saved without them. That the word of God points out no other possible way by which man can be saved; nay, that whatever extraordinary ways he may sometimes take to bring people to his Church, yet according to the manner he has spoken of in many of the above texts on this subject, it is impossible he should, in fact, have reserved any extraordinary means of salvation for those who live and die pot joined in communion with the Church of Christ by true faith, otherwise he would contradict himself, and give the lie to his own words, which is absolutely impossible. For instance, these two express declarations of Scripture, “The Lord daily added to the Church such as should be saved ;' and, as many as were ordained to eternal life believed,” would not be true, if there was any possibility for those to be saved who were not added to the Church, or did not believe. The same is equally true in most of the other texts, as will appear on considering them.