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OF THE PERSEVERANCE OF THE SAINTS. The doctrine of the saint's final perseverance in grace to glory, is next to be considered; which is, that those who are truly regenerated, effectually called, and really converted, and intei nally sanctified by the Spirit and grace of God, shall persevere in grace to the end, and shall be everlastingly saved; or shall never finally and totally fall, so as to perish everlastingly. This truth may be confirmed,
1. From various passages of scripture, which clearly hold it forth and assert it; it is written as with a sun beam in the sacred writings and to give the whole compass of the proof of it, which they will admit, would be to transcribe great part of the Bible. I shall only therefore select some passages both out of the Old and New Testament, which fully express it.
1. Job, chap. xvii. 9. The righteous also shall hold on his way; and he that hath clean hands shall be stronger and stronger! By the righteous man is meant one that is made truly righteous, by the righteousness of Christ imputed to him, and which he receives by faith ; in consequence of which he lives soberly and righteously: and by his way is meant, Christ the way; in whom he walks as he has received hiin, as the Lord his Righteousness. And it is promised, he shall hold on in this his way; which is opposed to going back, turning aside, and standing still; if he went back, or apostatized, or turned either to the righthand, or the left, or was at a full stop, he could not be said to go on; and if he goes on, he must persevere; and though he meets with discouragements in the way, from sin, and Satan, and the world, yet he goes on; and though he may slip, and slide, and stumble, and even fall; yet as the traveller, when this is his case, gets up again and pursues his journey; so the believer rises again in the strength of Christ, in whom he walks, and in the exercise of faith and repentance; and still goes on his way, rejoicing in Christ his righteousness and strength; to which his going on is owing, and not to his own conduct, power, and strength.
As hands are an emblem of action, by clean hands are meant a holy, upright walk and conversation, arises froin an inward principle of grace in the heart; as appears by comparing Psal. xv. 1, 2. with Psal. xxiv. 3, 4. and such a man who walks uprightly, and works righteousness, though he may have but little strength, yet he has some, which is here supposed ; and as he wants more, to resist temptations, oppose corruptions, exercise grace, and perforin duty, he shall have more, be stronger and stronger, as here promised; God will, and does, give power to the faint, and to them that have no might he increaseth strength, and renews their strength, so that they shall run and not
and they shall walk and not faint, and consequently persevere to the end; yea, the way of the Lord itself is strength unto them; as they walk in it,
they become stronger and stronger, and go from strength to strength, till they appear before God in Zion above, Psal. Ixxxiv. 5–7. Now if the righteous shall hold on his way, he must persevere; and if the good man shall be stronger and stronger, he must endure to the end, and be saved; or otherwise, he would becoine weaker and weaker, until he had no strength at all; ani then how would this proinise be fulfilled?
11. Another passage of scripture proving the saint,' final perseverance, is Psad xciv. 14. For the Lord will not cast of his people, &c. the Lord's people are his special and peculiar people, whom he has loved, chosen, reicemed, and called, his fore-known people; these he never casts off, casts out, nor casts a way, Rom. xi. 2. though he may seem to do sa; and they may think he has, when he does not iminediately arise for their help in distress; and when he withdraws his presence, or afflicts them, or suffers them to be afflicted by others, which seenis to be their case in this Psalm; and for their comfort these words are sa:!. God does not cast off, at least for ever, as unbclief sometimes suggests;
he never casts them off, nor casts them out from being in his sight; for they are engraven on the palms of his hands; nor from being ou his heart, for they are set as a scal there; nor from a place in his house, for being sons they always abide There; and whoever costs them off, or casts out their names as evil, he never will; so far from it, that he takes the utmost delight and complacency in them; giants them nearness to himself, and expresses the strongest affection for them, and takes the greatest care of them, even as the apple of his eye; and these are his inheritance, which he will never forsake, though he may seem to forsake them for a little while, yet he never does, finally and totally; he has promised he will not, and is faithful who has promised; he never forsakes their persons, neither in youth nor in old age; nor the work of his hands on them, but fulfils the good pleasure of his goodness in them, and the work of faith with power, and for this reason he will not forsake them, because they are his inher.cance, which he has chosen, hvis jewels, and his peculiar treasure; and therefore will never lose them: if, therefore, he will not cast off his people for ever, nor uttcrly forsake them, then they shall persevere to the end, and be saved, and not everlastingly perish.
Ill. This doctrine may be concluded from Psal. cxxv. 1, 2. the persons described are such who trust in the Lord, and not in the creature, nor in creatureservices; that trust in him at all times, and for all things; for temporal and spiritual blessings; for grace and glory: these are like mount Zion, for many things Lut especially for its immoveableness; for those, like that, cannot be removed, not from the love of God, in which they are rooted and grounded; nor from the covenant of grace, which is as immoveable as hills and mountains, yea, more so; they may be removed, but that cannot be removed; nor the Lord's covenant-picople out of it; no out of the hands of Christ, out of whose hands mone can pluck; nor cff of him, the foundation, on which they are laid, which
is a sure and everlasting one; nor out of a state of grace, in which they stand; neither of sanctification, which is connected with life everlasting; nor of justification, for those who have passed from death to life, shall never enter into condemnation. These, like mount Zion, abide for ever; they abide on the heart of God, in the hands of Christ, on him the sure-foundation laid in Zion; in the house of God, and in the family of his people. And what makes their safety and security appear still the greater, is, that as Jerusalem was encompassed with mountains, which were a natural and strong fortification to it; so the Lord is round about is people, even for ever; he surrounds them with his love, encompasses them with his favours, as with a shield, guards them by his special providence, and watches over them night and day, lest any hurt them; and keeps them by his power as in a garrison, through faith unto salvation. And if all these things are true of them, as they most certainly are, then they shall finally persevere in grace, and be eternally saved,
iv. This truth will receive further proof from Jer. xxxii, 40. And I will make an everlasting covenant with them, &c. In which words are more proofs than one of the saints final perseverance. This may be concluded, - 1. From the perpetuity of the covenant made with them; which is not a covenant of works, promising life on doing; then their perseverance would be precarious; but of grace, sovereign and free; and so is a better covenant, and established on betier promises, which are absolute and unconditional, not depending on any thing to be performed by thein; but which runs thus, I will, and they shall; a covenant ordered in all things, not one thing wanting in its conducive to the welfare and happiness of the saints; in all spiritual blessings, for time and eternity, in both grace and glory, which are eternally secured in it, and therefore said to be sure; its blessings are the sure inercies of David, its promises yea, and amen, in Christ; and the whole is ratified and confirmed by the blood of Christ, and sure to all the spiritual seed, to all interested in it; a covenant not inade with them as considered by themselves, but with Christ, as their head, and with them in him; and is kept, and stands fast with him for evermore. It is an everlasting covenant, flows from everlasting love, and founded on an everlasting purpose; consists of promises, which God, that cannot lie, made before the world began; and of grace, and blessings of grace, given in Christ so early, who was set up as the Mediator of it from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was; and the covenant-ones, with all their grace, were put into his hands; alı which shew the certainty of their perseverance; for as God knew so early, when he took them into covenant, and provided for them, what they would be, even transgressors from the womb, and do as evil as they could; and yet this hindred not his taking them into covenant; then it may be depended upon, that none of these things shall ever throw them o’t of it, for it abides to everla sting; God that made it, has commanded it for ever; he will never break it; it shall never be antiquared and made void, by another covenant succeeding it; its blessings
are irreversible, and its promises are always fulfilled ; its grace is sufficient for the saints under all their temptations, trials, and exercises, to bear them up, and bear them through time to eternity : covenant-interest always continues; he that is their covenant-(zod, will be their God and guidie even unto death, and through it, to the world beyond the grave; and therefore they shall most certainly persevere, and be saved. — 2. This may be confirined from the promise made in the co. venant, that God will not turn away from them to do them good! he may with draw his gautious prese::ce, and return again, which shews that he does not turn away
froin them for ever; he never turns from his affections to them, which are unalterably fixed on them; nor from his kind purposes concerning themi for he is in one mind, and none can turn him: nor froin his gracious promises to them; for he is not a man, that he should lie or repent; but what he has saida he will do, and not alter the thing that is gone out of his lips : nor from his gifis bestowed on them, which are without repentance, and which he never revokes, or calls in again: and he continues to do them gcod, both in things temporal and spiritual, as they stand in need of them; he has laid up much good for them in covenant, and in the hands of his Son; and he has bestowed much good upon them, given hin:self to them to be their portion and exceeding great reward; his Son, and all things with him; the holy Spirit, and his graces : and contiuuəs the supplies of his grace, and carries on his good work in them, and makes all things to work together for their good. - 3. This is further strengthened by what follows; I will put my fear in their hcarts, that they shall not depart from me; not that they shall cease to sin; every sin being, in a sense, a departure from his precepts, and his judgments; nor that they shall not revolt and backslide from God, to which they are prone ; and which backslidings are partial departures from him; but then these do not break the relation between God and them, as of father and children, of husband and wife: and besides, he heals their backslidings, and s-ill loves them freely, Hos. xiv. 4. but they do not wickedly depart from him ; as David says, Psal. xviii. 22. purposely, obstinately, and with an evil intent, and finally and totally. They do not depart from the the word of faith they have received; this, when it has once a place in their hearts, and becomes the engrafted word, and they have a true experience of, can never be utterly departed fioin, through the sleight of them who lie in wait to deceive: nor from the worship, ordinances, and people of God; having set their hand to the plough, they neither turn back nor look back, so as entirely to leave the good ways and good people of God; and this the fear of God, put into their Hearts, guards them against, and influences them to the contrary, Neh. v. 15. Now if God will not turn away from his people, and will continue to do them good, if he so influences their hearts with his fear that they shall not depart froin him, then they shall certainly persevere to the end, and be saved,
v. Another passage of scripture, which clearly expresses this truth, is in John Xr 28. I give unto them eternal life, and they shall nevsr perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand! These words are spoken of the sheep of Christy
which he has a property in, whom the Father has given to him, and he has laid down his life for; whom he knows and calls by name, and they follow him in paths he directs them to: now to these he gives eternal life, which he has ia his hands, and a right 10 bestow; and which he des give to all his chosen, redeemed, and called ones; and if he gives them eternal life, they must live for ever, or it would not be an eternal life he gives them; they can never die the second death, or be hurt by it; but must persevere in a life of grace, till they come to a life of glory; and if Christ says, they shull never perish, who dare say they may or shall perish? though they were lost in Adam, with the rest of mankind, yet they, were preserved in Christ, and saved by him, who came to seek and to save that which was lost; and though in their natuie-state they seem ready to perish, and see themselves to be in such a condition, and therefore apply to Christ, and say, Lord, save us, we perish! yet they never shall really perish; for he is able and willing to save all that come to him; nor will he cast out any that are given him, as the sheep in the text are: and though when called by grace, they are liable to many slips and falls; to spiritual decays and declensions; to loss of comfort and peace, and in that sense to perishings, 1 Cor. viii. 11. and to fears of perishing finally; and to faintings and sinkings of spirit; yet they shall never fail and sink under their burdens, and be lost; and though they die as other men, in which sense the righteous are said to perish yet they shall not perish eternally, as the wicked will go into everlasting punishment, when these shall go into eternal life. Besides, they are in the hands of Christ, and can never be plucked from thence; being put there by his Father, through his act of choosing them in him, as an instance of his love to them, and care of them, and for their security: and which is expressive of their being in his possession, at his disposal, under his guidance, care, and protection, and therefore must be safe; nor is it in the power of any man, cither by force to pluck them, or by fraud to draw them, out of Christ's hands; not the most violent persccutor, by the inost cruel methods lie can prac'ice; nor the most cunning and artful false teacher, by all the wiles and sophistry he is master of, nor tis, any one, man or devil; Stan, with all his principalities and powers, can never force any one fiom Crist; nor with all leis stratageins, can draw any one froin liim: and if they are in his hands, who is not only the mighty Saviour, and mighty Mediator, who has all power in heaven and in earth, but is the Lord God Almighty; are in his hands, which inade the heavens and the earth; and which hold and uphold all things in being, and who is the Governor of the universe; then they shall never totally and finally fall away, or perish everlastingly.
vi. The words of Christ in his prayer to his father, are another proof of the preservation of his people by him; and of their final perseverance through that, John xvii. 12. Those :hat thou gavest me I have kept, and none of then is lost, but the son of perdition, &c. the persons spoken of, though primarily and more inmediately the apostles of Christ, yet not they only; they were not the only per