The Perseverance of the Saints, Illustrated, Proved and Applied
Shepard Kosciusko Kollock was born at Elizabeth, New Jersey, on June 25th, 1795. His father was an officer in the Revolutionary Army, and greatly admired the personal and military character of the Polish leader Kosciusko, and so gave that name, together with his own, to his youngest son. Shepard graduated from the College of New Jersey in 1812, at the age of seventeen and with high honors. After studying theology with his brother-in-law, the Rev. John McDowell, and his brother, Dr. Henry Kollock, Shepard was subsequently licensed to preach the Gospel by the Presbytery of South Caroline, in June of 1814.
After preaching for three years in South Carolina and Georgia, Rev. Kollock received a call to serve the Presbyterian church in Oxford, North Carolina, and it was only at this point when he was finally ordained, by the Presbytery of Orange, on May 2nd, 1818. However, not long after this, he accepted an appointment as Professor of Rhetoric and Logic at the University of North Carolina, prompting him to resign his pulpit.
In 1825 he became pastor of the Presbyterian church in Norfolk, Virginia, and continued there for about ten years, thereafter returning to New Jersey and for three years he was engaged as an agent for the Board of Domestic Missions of the Presbyterian Church, U.S.A. From about 1828 to 1848, Rev. Kollock was the pastor of the church in Burlington, and his final pastorate was in Greenwich. At last, worn out by a life of faithful labors, age and increasing infirmity, he resigned and came to live in Philadelphia in 1860. Death came at last on April 7, 1865.
Dr. Kollock was a successful minister of the Gospel in all his charges, and a gentleman of culture of no common order. His Hints on Preaching without Reading, and Pastoral Reminiscences, were translated into French and published in Paris. He also contributed several valuable articles to the Princeton Review.
Kollock’s work, The Doctrine of the Perseverance of the Saints, Illustrated, Proved and Applied, by first published by the Presbyterian Board of Publication in 1835 and was later included in volume one of the series commonly known under the title, Presbyterian Tracts. In lieu of our Words to Live By section, we reproduce a portion of that work here today, for those who might want to read further:–
PERSEVERANCE OF THE SAINTS.
In every age the Church has been pained by beholding persons whose professions were high and specious, declining from the truth, returning to the world, and again indulging in the lusts of the flesh. Such examples tend to afflict humble believers, and to fill them with apprehensions that their own state is unsafe, and may terminate in destruction. To prevent such an inference, the Scriptures, whenever they predict, or relate, the apostacy of those who had once “the form of godliness,” immediately subjoin, as a source of consolation, an assurance that the real children of God shall be preserved from defection.
Thus the Saviour (Matt. xxiv.) foretelling the appearance of those who should come in his name, and “deceive many,” intimates that the elect shall not be deceived.
Thus Paul (2 Tim. ii. 19.) mentioning the apostacy of Hymenaeus and Philetus, probably eminent teachers in the Church, adds, lest believers should suppose that their own condition was uncertain, and their own faith liable to be destroyed: “nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, the Lord knoweth them that are his”—”they that are built upon the foundation of his unchangeable love and purpose shall never be overthrown.”
Thus also the apostle John (1 John ii. 19.) having mentioned that many anti-christs were in the world who were generally apostates, adds: “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us;”—as if he had said, ‘Whatever plausible appearances they make, they prove, by becoming apostates, that they were hypocrites; for if they had been true believers, renewed by grace and vitally united to Christ, they would have persevered in communion with us; but they went out that they might appear to the world in the real characters of false-hearted professors.
Such is the spirit of the language of Scripture, and in these, and other similar passages, is plainly taught the doctrine of THE PERSEVERANCE OF THE SAINTS.
It is a doctrine which lies at the foundation of all the hope which the believer enjoys; it inspires confidence in danger, comfort in sorrow, succour in temptation, and is an “anchor to his soul,” amidst tempests the most violent.
Let us inquire what reason we have to receive this doctrine as the truth of God.
In making this investigation we shall arrange our reflections in the following order:
I. We shall definitely state the question at issue, and show what we mean when we maintain the final perseverance of the saints.
II. We shall establish the doctrine by arguments.
III. We shall answer the principal objections against it.
When we say that the saints shall finally persevere, we mean not by the word saints those who, having made a profession, and possessing a semblance of religion, are regarded by others as pious; or those who are confidently esteemed by themselves as godly; or those who are only federally holy—by external consecration to God, as were the people of Israel. We grant that all these may finally and entirely apostasize. But by saints we mean those, and those only, who have really been born again; who have been brought from a state of enmity against God into a state of reconciliation and love; who have been justified, accepted and adopted; who are animated by the Holy Spirit, that dwelling both in Christ and them, forms an intimate union between him the head, and them the members.
When we say that such persons shall not finally and entirely fall away from grace, we do not mean that their graces may not languish and decline. The question is not concerning the decay, but the loss of grace; not concerning sickness and debility, but total death. A person may faint away, showing no signs of animation, while a principle of life remains; and spiritual life may undergo so violent a shock as to be brought apparently to the very verge of death, and yet not be extinguished.
Neither do we mean that the acts of grace shall never be interrupted; but only that the spirit and habit of it shall never be lost. We grant that the saints may fall into many and great sins; but we maintain that, through the presence of God cherishing the principles of spiritual life once implanted, they shall never so sin, as to fall into that state in which they were before conversion, and of the children of the Holy One, become the children of the devil. They may fall into transgressions that deserve perdition, but God will excite their repentance, animate their faith, enliven their hope, and thus keep them in his covenant and love.
When we say that the saints shall persevere, we mean not, that considered in themselves, and with no strength but their own, they will be able to stand. We rest the certainty of their perseverance on the assistance of the Spirit, and the support of God. In themselves, they are weak, unable to begin, to continue, or to finish the life of holiness; but according to the divine covenant and promises, they “are kept by his power through faith unto salvation.”
Neither do we assert that grace, considered in itself, is absolutely incapable of being lost. It is one thing to affirm that it shall not be lost, and another thing to affirm that it is in its nature absolutely incapable of being lost. We know that the world shall no more be overwhelmed by a flood, but we at the same time admit that it is susceptible of being drowned. We therefore ground the perseverance of the saints, not upon the firmness and unchangeableness of grace, as it subsists in the creature, but upon the love, the power, the wisdom, the faithfulness, and the covenant of Almighty God. [emphasis added.]
Attending to these distinctions and limitations, we have a proper view of the doctrine before us. It may be conveyed in the following proposition:
All who are truly regenerated and vitally united to Christ, though weak and frail in themselves, shall be so protected and kept by the power of God that the habits of grace shall never be entirely lost, nor the principle of spiritual life totally extinguished; and although they may fall into sins, yet they shall never fall from their interest in the covenant, but shall be renewed to repentance, and be at last brought, by a steady perseverance, to eternal salvation.
This is the sum of the doctrine before us. We proceed
II. To establish its truth.
To continue reading The Doctrine of the Perseverance of the Saints, by the Rev. Dr. Shepard K. Kollock, click here.[this is a short tract, only twenty pages in length.]