Tuesday, June 1, 2010


Thomas Vincent (1634-1678)

“Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.”—Philippians 1:6

YOU have heard that the good work that God has begun in the day of grace He will perform until the day of Christ. Yet, lest any should abuse this doctrine and turn the grace of God into wantonness—lest any should, by presuming that the good work has begun in them and thence concluding that they shall never fall away, presume also to indulge themselves in sin and hence take occasion to give way unto licentiousness—I shall add a serious caution unto all, especially to young professors…

MOTIVES TO KEEP FROM APOSTASY AND BACKSLIDING: Some have and [some] may fall and apostatize from the ways of God, who have made a high profession of faith in Christ [and have] attained great illumination, gifts, and tastes of spiritual things. These may have been thought—by others and themselves too—to have stood as surely as any. Therefore, all who think they stand, especially you who are young professors, should take heed lest you fall. The Apostle tells Timothy that Demas had forsaken him, having loved this present world (2Ti 4:10). Before that, he tells of Hymenaeus and Alexander, who had put away a good conscience, [had] made shipwreck of the faith, and had learned to blaspheme (1Ti 1:19-20). The Apostle Peter speaks in 2 Peter 2:20-22 of some who had escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of Christ, who now were entangled again and overcome. [He says] this was according to the old proverb: “The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire.” Our Savior tells us in His explication of the Parable of the Sower (Mat 13:20-21) that he who received the Word in stony places is he who hears the Word and receives it with joy. Yet not having any root in himself, he only endures for a while: when tribulation arises because of the Word, by and by he is offended. Indeed, such as have true grace can never totally fall…but many may have that which is like true grace and may fall totally from it. They may lose that which they seem to have…

Besides the sin of apostasy itself, which is so heinous, such as are guilty of it usually grow worse than they were before in all kinds of licentious conduct. “When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, and returneth again, he taketh seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there, and the last estate of that man is worse than the first” (Matthew 12:43-45). Apostates are the firstborn children of the devil, and the lusts of their father they will do. He dwells in them and rules over them, and they are ready at his motion for any wickedness. Besides uncleanness, debauchery, mischief, villainy, oaths, and blasphemy, such persons usually have the most desperate enmity against God and godliness. Of all others, [they] prove the greatest persecutors of the saints…I do not remember ever hearing or reading of an apostate who has been converted…

Though God will not allow you totally to fall from grace if the good work is in truth begun in you, yet, without great heed, you may fall into great decay of grace…You may, instead of the sweet meltings for sin that you have, grow insensible and contract a great stupidity and hardness of heart. Instead of your pliableness and readiness to spiritual duties, you may contract listlessness and indisposition…Instead of your meek and gentle temper, you may grow peevish and passionate. Instead of your uprightness of heart and your single eye to God’s glory, you may spoil most of your duties with hypocrisy. Instead of self-denial and temperance, you may indulge yourself and grow licentious in a great measure. You may lose much of your contentment, patience, and fear of God that you now have. Your hungering desire after Christ may be abated. Your now strong faith may become feeble. Your flames of love may be quenched, the flame quite gone; and only some coals or sparks remain imperceivable under the ashes. Your hopes of heaven may be lost, as to the liveliness and delightful working of them. Therefore, beware lest you fall…You may be kept from falling if you look well to your standing. Whatever your danger is, God can keep you and hold up your goings in His paths so that your footsteps do not slip. “Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy” (Jude 1:24)…And I shall add that it is more easy (besides the honor brought hereby unto God, and the inexpressible benefit and comfort to yourselves) to stand, not to fall and then to arise and get up when you are fallen. It is no easy thing to recover out of a backsliding state. Such as backslide very much do not usually, easily, or presently recover themselves.

DIRECTIONS TO KEEP FROM APOSTASY AND BACKSLIDING: Look to it that the good work is indeed begun in your hearts—that you have grace of the right kind. If you should prove unsound in the main points, rotten at the core, false-hearted hypocrites—notwithstanding all your profession—you are in great danger of total apostasy…It is only true grace that is of an establishing nature. “It is a good thing that the heart be established with grace” (Heb 13:9). Only the truly gracious are built upon the Rock of Ages where they are safe. However they may be shaken by troubles and temptations, yet they shall never be utterly cast down and quite overturned…

Stand not in your own strength. None have fallen more foully than the presumptuous self-confident…Let your confidence and strength be in the Lord. “Be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus” (2Ti 2:1). Have recourse to Him for grace to help in every need and under every assault and temptation that you have to sin. Christ is able to give aid. It is His office to give aid, and He is ready to do so. He pities you when you are tempted and is touched “with the feeling of [your] infirmities” (Heb 4:15). He has [called] you to come unto Him and has promised that He will bruise Satan under your feet shortly (Rom 16:20). In the meantime, His grace shall be sufficient for you (2Co 12:9).

Beware of worldly-mindedness, so that you are not swallowed up with worldly business and encumbered with the affairs of this life. I am sure this will cause a great decay in the power of godliness. If the world, because of your callings, has most of your time, take heed that it has not all. Reserve some time every day for exercises of faith, and let them have most of your hearts…Endeavor to get the world crucified to you, and your hearts crucified to it. Make use of the cross of Christ in order hereunto, and take frequent view of the transcendent glory and happiness of the other world, which will disgrace the world in your esteem.

Stand continually upon your watch. Beware of sin in the beginning of it. Do not so much as entertain sin in your minds with any pleasing, delightful thoughts. Refrain from secret sins; otherwise, your feet will slide up before you are aware. Take heed of the least degree of apostasy: observe your hearts when they begin to go off from God, and endeavor with all speed to recover and rise again when you feel yourselves beginning to fall…

Set God always before your eyes as David did…[He] tells us that because God was at his right hand, he should not be moved (Psa 16:8). Temptations to sin will little move you when you actually look to and consider God’s eye upon you…“How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?” (Gen 39:9).

Labor for a strong and fervent love to God. Many waters cannot quench the fire of this love. While your hearts are mounting upwards in this flame unto God, you are not in such danger of falling down and giving ear unto temptations that would draw you into sin. Labor to dwell in the love of God and the love of one another. Hereby you will dwell in God and God in you (1Jo 4:16). And while you dwell in God, you cannot fall from Him.

Be much in secret conversation with God in meditation, contemplation, short and secret prayers. Go often to your knees when you are alone: there bewail sin and pray for the mortification of your special corruptions. Secret duties seriously, diligently, and constantly performed are both an evidence of sincerity and a great preservative against apostasy.

Lastly, and chiefly, labor for much of the grace of faith and put it forth into daily exercise. “By faith ye stand” (2Co 1:24). If you would resist the devil, you must be steadfast in faith (1Pe 5:8-9). If you would quench his fiery darts you must get on and hold up the shield of faith (Eph 6:16). If you would be kept by the power of God, it must be through faith unto salvation (1Pe 1:5). Such as draw back unto perdition, [do so] through unbelief. Such as hold out, it is through faith to the saving of their souls (Heb 10:39).

Thomas Vincent (1634–1678): English Puritan minister and author; born in Hertford, Hertfordshire, England.

From Mountzion.org (Free Grace Broadcaster)

From “Cautionary Motives and Directions unto Youths Professing Religion to Keep Them from Apostasy and Backsliding” in The Good Work Begun, reprinted by Soli Deo Gloria, a ministry of Reformation Heritage Books, www.heritagebooks.org.


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