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  • Weak People Fall an Easy Prey to Heresy, Which Derives Strength from the General Frailty of Mankind.  Eminent Men Have Fallen from Faith; Saul, David, Solomon. The Constancy of Christ.

    Chapter III.—Weak People Fall an Easy Prey to Heresy, Which Derives Strength from the General Frailty of Mankind. Eminent Men Have Fallen from Faith; Saul, David, Solomon. The Constancy of Christ.

    It is usual, indeed, with persons of a weaker character, to be so built up (in confidence) by certain individuals who are caught by heresy, as to topple over into ruin themselves. How comes it to pass, (they ask), that this woman or that man, who were the most faithful, the most prudent, and the most approved1858

    1858 Usitatissimi, “most experienced.”

    in the church, have gone over to the other side? Who that asks such a question does not in fact reply to it himself, to the effect that men whom heresies have been able to pervert1859

    1859 Demutare.

    ought never to have been esteemed prudent, or faithful, or approved? This again is, I suppose, an extraordinary thing, that one who has been approved should afterwards fall back? Saul, who was good beyond all others, is afterwards subverted by envy.1860

    1860 1 Sam. xviii. 8, 9.

    David, a good man “after the Lord’s own heart,”1861

    1861 1 Sam. xiii. 14.

    is guilty afterwards of murder and adultery.1862

    1862 2 Sam. xi.

    Solomon, endowed by the Lord with all grace and wisdom, is led into idolatry, by women.1863

    1863 1 Kings xi. 4.

    For to the Son of God alone was it reserved to persevere to the last without sin.1864

    1864 Heb. iv. 15. [See p. 221, supra.]

    But what if a bishop, if a deacon, if a widow, if a virgin, if a doctor, if even a martyr,1865

    1865 [Here the word martyr means no more than a witness or confessor, and may account for what are called exaggerated statements as to the number of primitive martyrs. See Kaye p. 128.]

    have fallen from the rule (of faith), will heresies on that account appear to possess1866

    1866 Obtinere.

    the truth? Do we prove the faith1867

    1867 Fidem, “The Creed.”

    by the persons, or the persons by the faith?  No one is wise, no one is faithful, no one excels in dignity,1868

    1868 Major.

    but the Christian; and no one is a Christian but he who perseveres even to the end.1869

    1869 Matt. x. 22.

    You, as a man, know any other man from the outside appearance. You think as you see. And you see as far only as you have eyes. But says (the Scripture), “the eyes of the Lord are lofty.”1870

    1870 Jer. xxxii. 19.

    “Man looketh at the outward appearance, but God looketh at the heart.”1871

    1871 1 Sam. xvi. 7.

    “The Lord (beholdeth and) knoweth them that are His;”1872

    1872 2 Tim. ii. 19.

    and “the plant which (my heavenly Father) hath not planted, He rooteth up;”1873

    1873 Matt. xv. 13.

    and “the first shall,” as He shows, “be last;”1874

    1874 Matt. xx. 16.

    and He carries “His fan in His hand to purge His threshing-floor.”1875

    1875 Matt. iii. 12.

    Let the chaff of a fickle faith fly off as much as it will at every blast of temptation, all the purer will be that heap of corn which shall be laid up in the garner of the Lord. Did not certain of the disciples turn back from the Lord Himself,1876

    1876 John vi. 66.

    when they were offended? Yet the rest did not therefore think that they must turn away from following Him,1877

    1877 A vestigiis ejus.

    but because they knew that He was the Word of Life, and was come from God,1878

    1878 John i. 1; vi. 68, and xvi. 30.

    they continued in His company to the very last, after He had gently inquired of them whether they also would go away.1879

    1879 John vi. 67.

    It is a comparatively small thing,1880

    1880 Minus.

    that certain men, like Phygellus, and Hermogenes, and Philetus, and Hymenæus, deserted His apostle:1881

    1881 2 Tim. i. 15; ii. 17; 1 Tim. i. 20.

    the betrayer of Christ was himself one of the apostles. We are surprised at seeing His churches forsaken by some men, although the things which we suffer after the example of Christ Himself, show us to be Christians. “They went out from us,” says (St. John,) “but they were not of us. If they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us.”1882

    1882 1 John ii. 19. [i.e., with the Apostolic Churches. See Cap. xx, infra.]


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