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the doctrines of faith, Acts xxiv. 24. and ilse particular doctrine made ship viec's of, and which particularly Ilymeneus erred concerning, was the doctrine of the TCS rection of the dend,' which, he sail, was past alreadly, 2 Tin ii. 18. 5. Supposiag t'ie grace of fich was meant, the phrase of making shipwreck of it, is not strong enough to express the entire loss of it: since a person may be shipwrecked and not lost; the apostle Paul thrice suitered shipwreck, and ye was saved each time. Besides, as there is a true and unfeigned faith; so there is a feigned and counterfeit uith, which nay be in men who have no true grace and may be shipwrecked, so as to be los-, anlsuch an instance is no proof of the saints falling from grace.
viu. Another passage usually brought to prove the apostacy of real saints, and against their final perseverance, is Heb. vi. 4–6. But, - 1. The persons here spoken of, are distinguished from the believing Hebrews, who've compared to the earth that drinks in the rain that comes fiequently on it, and brings forth herbs fit for use, and receives the blessing of God; when these are compared to the earth that bears thorns and briers is rejected, is nigh unto cursing, and its end is to be burnt, 7, 8. and the apostle adels, with respect to the saints he writes to, But beloveil, we are persuaded better things of you, and things thut accompany salvation, though we thus speak, 9. and he goes on to take notice of their work and labour of love; and to excite them to diligerice and industry; and encoutages them, by the promises made unto them, and tie iinmutability of them, and by the firin hope that God has given thein; and hy the glorious rerunner, who was entered into heaven for them.
2. Adonitting true believers are meant, the words are only conditional; If they fall away; and are but a supposition of it, and prove no matter of fact, that ever any did fall away; most, only express the danger of their falling; as there may be, through the power of indwelling sin, the force of temptations, and the frowns and flatteries of the world, and the difficulty of restoring them from a partial fall; a total and final one being prevented by the power and grace of God. – 3. The words are, in some versions, so rendered, as to assert the impossibility of their falling; so the Syriac version, It is impossible they should sia again; as to die spiritually, and lose the grace of God, and stand in need of a new work of grace upon thein; which would require the crucifying of Christ again, and a re-exposing him to open shame; things impossible to be done, and so the former; which sense agrees with the words of the apostle, 1 John iii. 9. And he cannot sin, because he is born of God: and this is confirmed by the Arabic version; and according to these versions, the several other things mentioned, are connected with the word impossible; as that they should be renewed again to repentance; and that they should crucify the Son of God afresh, and put him to open shame. — 4. There is nothing said of them that is peculiar to believers ; not a word of their faith in Christ; nor of their being begotten again to a lively hope: nor of their being sanctified by the Spirit of God; nor of their being justified by the righteousness of Christ; nor of their being the sons of God by faith in Christ; hor of their being sealed by the holy Spirit of God; nor of their being made meet to be partakers of the heavenly inheritance. – 5. What is said of them, are what may be found in persons destitute of the grace of God. As, – 1. That they were enlightened; the Syriac and Ethiopic versions render it baptized; and it will not be denied, that some such, as Simon Mlagus, may totally and finally fall away: but not to insist on this sense, there are two sorts of enlightened persons: some are savingly enlightened by the Spirit of God, to see their lost state and condition, and salvation by Christ, and their interest in it, and who shall never perish: others are only enlightened into the doctrines of the gospel; though some to such a degree, as to be able to preach them to others; and yet be strangers to the true grace of God. And wlien such fall away, they are no proofs nor instances of the apostacy of real saints. -- 2. That they tasted of the heavenly gift; whether by it is meant the gift of a justifying righteousness, or of remission of sins, or of eternal life; inen destitute of the grace of God, may have some speculative notions about thein, and desires afier them, arising from a principal of self-love: or if Christ the gift of God himself, is meant, tasting may stand opposcd to cating his flesh and drinking his blood; which is proper to true believers, who feed upon him, and are nourished by him, while hypocrites, and formal professors, only taste of him, have a superficia! kuowledge of him, and gust for him. — 3. That they were made partakers of the Holy Ghost; not of the Person of the Spirit, and of his indwelling in thei? hcarts, as in his temple, and as the carnest of the heavenly inheritance; nor of his grace, as implanted in them, which are connected with eternal life: but of his gifts,' whether ordinary or extraordinary, both of which Judas was made a partaker, and yet devoid of truc grace. - 4. That they tasted the good word of God; had a superficial knowledge of it, had the bare form, without the power of it; were pleased with it for a while, as Herod was with the ministry of John the Baptist; and Christ's hearers were with his doctrines at first, though they presently sought to kill him. – 5. That they tasted also the powers of the world to come; meaning either the miracles and mighty works done in the former part of the gospel dispensation; which some were able to perform, who sere not true believers in Christ, as, Judas and others; or the joys and glories of leaven; which natural men may have some self-pleasing notions of, and desires after, as Balaam had, Numb. xxiii. 10. Now when such persons as tliese fall away from a profession of religion, and into sin, they are no instances of crue lrelievers falling from real grace.
ix. Another scripture brought as a proof of falling from grace, is Heb. x. 26, 29. For if we sin wilfully, &c. From whence it is inferred, that one that has the kncwledge of the truth, may in such sort sin, as that there remains no sacrifice for it; and one that is sanctified by the blood of the covenant, inay so fall away as to perish everlastingly: but, these words are not said of true believers; for though the persons described are such who, - 1. Had knoirledge of the truth; yet whether we understand this of Christ, who is the
ruth; or of the gospel, the word of truth, and of the several truths in it; as salvation by Christ, justification by his righteousness, &c. persons may have a notional, and not a saving knowledge of these things; the devils know much of Christ, and so do many natural men; yea the apostle says, men may have all knowledge, or knowledge of all truths, that which is notional and speculative; and all faith, which is historical, and yet be without grace, 1 Cor. xiii. 2. — 2. Though said to be sanctified by the blood of the covenant, this is not to be understood of the expiation of their sins; and of their justification from them by the blood of Christ; for such are most certainly saved from wrath to come, and shall never enter into condemnation, or perish eternally; but of their profession of their being thus sanctified; they were thought to be so by themsclves and others, when they really were not; and by their profession of religion, were externally sanctified and separated from others, submitting to baptism, and partaking of the Lord's-supper; when they outwardly eat the bread, and drank of the cup, the external symbol of the blood of the New Testament, or Covenant, though they did not spiritually discern the body and blood of Christ, but counted these symbols as common things. Though after all, it is the Son of God himself that is intended, and not the apostate; for the immediate antecedent to the relative he, is the Son of God; who was sanctified, or set apart; by the blood and sacrifice of himself, for the discharge of the other part of his priestly office, his intercession for his people in heaven ; which is mentioned as an aggravation of the sin of such a person, who counted his blood an unholy': thing.
The sins ascribed to the persons spoken of, are such as are never committed by true believers; such as, - 1. To sin wilfully, after the knowledge of the truth is received; for this is not to be understood of common infirmities, or of grossen sins, which may be voluntarily committed by the saints after regeneration, as were by Lot, David, and others; but of a denial of that great and fun. damental truth of the gospel, the atonement of sin by the blood; sacrifice, and death of Christ, after a man has known it, and professed it: this is never done by one that has tasted that the Lord is gracious, and to whom his blood is precious; nor can it be : Peter denied his Master, and that he knew him; but he did not dery him to be his Saviour ; nor deny the virtue of his blood and sacrifice for the atonement of sin; when, and by whom, this is done knowingly and wilfully, there remains no more, there is no other, sacrifice for sin; and therefore such a man must be eternally lost. — 2. To tread undei foot the Son of God; doing as much as in them lies to strip him of his equality with God, and to reduce him to the class of a mere creature; and deny him to be the eternal Son of God: this can never be done by such who have once believed, and are sure that he is the Son of the living God; for whosoever denicih the Son, the same hath not the Father; he denies both the one and the other; and, in effect says, that there are neither, 1 John ii. 22, 23. he is antichrist. — 3. To count the
blood of the covenant an unholy, or common thing; as if it was the blood of a mere man, when it is the blood of Jesus Christ his Son, the Son of God, which cleanses from all sin ; that blood with which the church of God is purchased; that blood by which it is redeemed from sin, Satan and the law; that blood by which the covenant of grace is ratified and confirmed; and by virtue of which the covenant-ones are delivered from their captive-state. — 4. To do despite unto the Spirit of grace, who has been a Spirit of grace and supplication to them; such who have had such an experience of him, can never do despite unto him, treat him with malice, scorn, and contempt; deny his divine Person, and his special operations of grace; nor deny him to be the Spirit of grace, and reproach himn as such; true believers in Christ, who have been sanctified and sealed by him, can never do such things as these. Truly sanctified persons, are distinguished from the apostates, whose custom had been to forsake the assemblies of the saints, verse 25. and the apostle declares for himself, and other true believe rs, who were just men, and lived by faith, that they were not of the nnmber of such men, and to be ranked with them. So that these apostates are no instances of true believers falling from grace.
x. The following passage, though it makes clearly for the doctrine of the saints' final perseverance, is brought as an objection to it, Heb. x. 38. Now the just shall live by faith, but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him. From whence it is inferred, that those who live by faith, and are jus. tified persons, may not endure to the end, may draw back to perdition, and everJastingly perish. But, - 1. He that is truly a just man, can never die spiritually and eternally; Whosoever liveth and believeth in me, says Christ, John xi. 26. shall never die! If such shall never die, they cannot perish everlastingly; a believer in Christ, and justified by him, can never be condemned; He hath ever lasting life, and shall not come into condemnation ; and therefore shall be eternally saved and glorified, John v. 24. – 2. The just man, and he that draws back, are not the same; as it clear from the next verse; But we are not of them that draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe 10 the saving of the soul. There are two sorts of persons mentioned; one that were a ISEWS, of faith, that had true, faith in Christ, and lived by faith on him, and did not draw back to perdition, but went on believing till saved; of this number were the apostle, and every truly just and righteous man, included in the word we : the other were UTOSOANS, of the withdrawing, or separation, who torsook the assembly of the saints, verse 25. withdrew from their society and communion, and apostatized from the ways and worship of God: by which distinction it appears, that those that truly bea lieve do not draw back to perdition ; but continue in the faith of Christ, and in the true worship of God, and are everlastingly saved; and that those that drew back to perdition were not of the faith, or true believers in Christ, nor ever just ones that lived by faith; and so their apostacy is no proof of the falling away of true believers, as to perish everlastingly. – 3. The passage in Hab. il. 4. which is referred to, plainly shews who the man is that draws back, as opposed to the
just man that lives by faith: he is one whose soul is lifted up, and is not upright in hin; one that is proud and haughty, and is lifted up with a vain conceit of his own righteousness, in which he trusts; to which he becakes himself as to a tower and fortified place, as the word used signifies, and imagines himself safe; and whose heart is not right with God, nor humble before God; and that such a man should withdraw himself from the communion of the saints, and apostatize, is not to be wondered at. — 4. God's taking no pleasure in him that draws back, does not intimate that he took pleasure in him before his drawing back, since it is not said, my soul shall have'no more or no farther pleasure in him; but shall have no pleasure in him; which does not necessarily suppose, that he had any pleasure in him before ; but that he should have in him hereafter. Besides, such who are the objects of God's delight and pleasure, are always so; he rests in his love towards them, &c. Zeph. iii. 17.
xi. To the doctrine of the saints' final perseverance, is objected the passage in 2 Pet. ii, 20-22. But there is nothing said in those words which shew that the persons spoken of were true believers; but the reverse. 1. The know. ledge they had of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, was not a spiritual, experi. mental, saving knowledge of him; for then they would have followed on to have known him, and to have known more of him, and it would have issued in eternal life, but it was only a speculative, notional knowledge of him, such as devils and Christless persons may have. — 2. Escaping the pollutions of the world through it, designs no other than an external reformation of life and manners, joined with an outward conformity to the commands and ordinancés of Christ, and an outward walk for a time in the ways of religion, they professed a knowle ige and liking of. - 3. Nor does it appear that they ever
were any other than dogs and swine; and therefoie when they apostatized, it was only a returning to their former state, and they only appeared to be whit they always were; their case seems to be the same that is observed by Christ, Matt, sii. 43
XI. The falling away of real believers is argued, and their perseverance objocied to, from various exhortations, cautions, &c. given unto them. As, 1. When he that thinks he stands, is exhorted 10 take heed lest he fall, 1. Cor. X. 12. but supposing a true believer is here mcant, which yet is not clear and certain, since it is one, o Coxov, who seemneth to himself, and others, to stand; but adınitting it, the exhortation is not superfluous; since, though he cannet finally and totally fall away, yet inasınuch as he may so fall as that God may be dishonoured by it, the doctrines and ways of Christ spoken evil of, the Spirit of God grieved, weak believers stumbled, and the hands of the wickel strengthened, and a man's own peace and comfort broken; there is good reason why he should take cue of falling; for though there is no danger of his perishing eternally; yet if he falls to the breaking of his bones, and wounding his own soul, it behoves him to take heed lest lie fall. -- 2. When believers are cau.