by J. C. Ryle
"They shall never perish."--John 10:28
First published by Drummond's Tract Depot, Stirling, Scotland
There are two points in religion on which the teaching of the Bible is very plain and distinct. One of these points is the fearful danger of the ungodly; the other is the perfect safety of the righteous. One is the happiness of those who are converted; the other is the misery of those who are unconverted. One is the blessedness of being in the way to heaven; the other is the wretchedness of being in the way to hell.
I hold it to be of the utmost importance that these two points should be constantly impressed on the minds of professing Christians. I believe that the exceeding privileges of the children of God, and the deadly peril of the children of the world, should be continually set forth in the clearest colors before the Church of Christ. I believe that the difference between the man in Christ, and the man not in Christ, can never be stated too strongly and too fully. Reserve on this subject is a positive injury to the souls of men. Wherever such reserve is practiced, the careless will not be aroused, believers will not be established, and the cause of God will receive damage.
Reader, perhaps you are not aware what a vast store of comfortable truths the Bible contains for the peculiar benefit of real Christians. There is a spiritual treasure house in the Word which many may never enter, and some eyes have not so much as seen. There you will find many a golden verity besides the old first principles of repentance, faith and conversion. There you will see in glorious array the everlasting election of the saints in Christ,—the special love wherewith God loved them before the foundation of the world,—their mystical union with their risen Head in heaven, and His consequent sympathy with them,—their interest in the perpetual intercession of Jesus, their High Priest,—their liberty of daily communion with Father and the Son,—their full assurance of hope,—their perseverance to the end. These are some of the precious things laid up in Scripture for those who love God: these are truths which some neglect from ignorance. Like the Spaniards in California, they know not the rich mines beneath their feet. These are truths which some neglect from false humility. They look at them afar off with fear and trembling, but dare not touch them. But these are truths which God has given for our learning, and which you and I are bound to study. It is impossible to neglect them without inflicting injury upon ourselves.
It is to one special truth in the list of a believer's privileges that I now desire to direct your attention this day. That truth is the doctrine of perseverance, —the doctrine that true Christians shall never perish or be cast away. It is a truth which the natural heart has bitterly opposed in every age. It is a truth which for many reasons deserves particular attention at the present time. Above all, it is a truth with which the happiness of all God's children is most closely connected.
There are four things which I propose to do in considering the subjects of perseverance.
I. I will explain what the doctrine of perseverance means.
II. I will show the Scriptural grounds on which the doctrine is built.
III. I will point out some reasons why many reject the doctrine.
IV. I will mention some reasons why the doctrine is of great practical importance.
I approach the subject with diffidence, because I know it is one on which holy men do not see alike. But God is my witness, that in writing this tract, I have no desire to promote any but of Scriptural truth. In pleading for perseverance, I can say with a good conscience that I firmly believe I am pleading for an important part of the Gospel of Christ. May God the Spirit guide both writer and reader into all truth! May that blessed day soon come when all shall know the Lord perfectly, and differences and divisions pass away for ever!