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tioned, to take heed, lest there be in them an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God, Heb. iïi. 12. it shews that believers ought to be upon their guard against the sin of unbelief, to expose which is the design of the words ; since it is a sin which easily besets good men, bereaves their souls of mucii comfort, and God of much glory; and therefore believers should be careful of giving way to it, and encouraging it, since it leads to a partial departure from Christ, the living God; though God has put his fear into the hearts of suci persons, that they shall not depart from him finally and totally. - 3. When the apostle Peter exhorts those he wrote to, who had obtained like precious faith with hiin, to beware, lest being led away with the error of the wicked, they shoud fall from their own stedfastness, 1 Pet. iii. 17. his meaning is not, as though there was a possibility of their falling from the precious grace of faith they had obtained; but from some degree of the steady exercise of it; or rather from cher stedfast adherence to the doctrine of faith, through the sleight and cunning of men, who lay in wait to deceive; who might be able to stagger them, though they could not finally and totally deceive them; and therefore it became them 19 be upon their guard against them. - 4. When the apostle John exhorts, saying, Look to yourselves, that ye lose not those things which we have wrought, 2 Join 8. he speaks not of what the Spirit of God had wrought in them, as if thes could be lost; nor even of what they themselves had wiought, under the influence of divine grace; but what we, the ministers of the gospel had wrough, by teaching and instructing them, lest their labour in the ministry among then should be in vain, they giving heed to the doctrines of deceivers, mentioned buo before and after. -- 5. And when the apostle Jude says, Kecp your selves in the love of God, 21. it is not to be understood of the love which God has in his heart towards his people, an interest in which can never be lost, and from which there is no separation; but rather of the love which they bear to him, the fervour of which sometiines abates; and therefore they should make use of all means to maintain, increase, and inflame it, in themselves and others; keep EQU785, one another in it, by the means direcied to in the preceding verse: or i: may chiefly respect love, peace, and concord among themselves; called the lor of God, as it is the peace of God, Col. iii. 15. which is of him, taught by him, and he calls unto; and so is of the same import with Eph. iv. 3. Or, admitting that the love of God, in the first sense, is meant; it may design exercise of faith on it, meditation upon it, a constant keeping of it in view, in order to preserve themselves by the love of God from Satan's temptations, the snares of the world, ard the lusts of the flesh; against complying with which, the love of God, shewn in what he has done for his people, is a strong argument, Gen. xxxix. 9. and that the apostle could have no thought of the possibility of the saints falling totally and finally, appears from what he says of Christ with respect to them, Jude 24. Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, &c. And in like manner other cautions and exhortations, similar to these, may be understood;

and it should be observed, that such cautions and exhortations as these, are used and blessed as means of the perseverance of the saints; and are not to be iinproved against the doctrine of it.

Secondly, Objections are raised against the doctrine of the saints' final perse. verance, from the sins and falls of persons eminent for faith and holiness; as Noah, Lot, David, Solomon, Peter, and others. But these are no proofs of their final and total falling away. As to Noah and Lot, though guilty of great sins, they have after this the character of truly good and righteous men. As for David, though by his fall his bones were broken, and the joy of his salvation was taken from him, and grace lay some time unexercised by him; yet the Spirit of God was not taken from him, as appears from his own words, when most scuasible of his case, Psal. li. 11, 12. As for Soloinon, though his backsliding was great, attended with aggravated circumstances, yet not total, see 1 Kings xi. 4, 6. nor final, as to perish everlastingly; which would have been contrary to the promise of God, that his mercy should not depart from him, 2 Sam. vii. 14, 15. Besides, he was restored by repentance; and the book of Ecclesiastes was penned by him in his old age, as an acknowledgment and retraction of his former follies; and some persons, after his death, are spoken of with commendation, for walking in the way of Solomon, as well as in the way of David, 2 Chron. xi. 17. As for Peter, his fall was not total; Christ prayed for hiin, thai his faith failed not; nor final; for he was quickly restored by repentance. And these several instances are recorded in scripture, not as instances of final and total apos, tacy, but of the weakness of the best of men in themselves; and for our caution and instruction, to take heed lest we fall: Demas is sometimes mentioned as an instance of apostacy; who, very probably, was a good man, since he is men. tioned with such who were so, Col. iv. 14. and what the apostle says of him, that he had forsaken him, having loved this present world, is not sufficient to prove him an apostate, any more than Mark's departure from the apostle Paul, and others at Pamphylia; nor is too much love of the world, which is to be observed in many, otherwise good and valuable men, would prove them to be so. As for Hymeneus, Alexander, and Philetus, they do not appear to have been good inen, as before observed; and so no instances of the apostacy of real saints.

Thirdly, Some ill consequences, supposed to follow the doctrine of the saints' final perseverance, are urged against it, As. 1. That it tends to make persons secure and indifferent, as to the use of means to preserve them from sin and apostacy. But this is not true in fact, any more than in other cases similar to it; but is rather an encouragement to the use of them: Joshua, though he was assured that not a man should be able to stand before him, but all his enemies should be conquered by him; this did not make him secure, nor binder him from taking all the proper precautions against his enemies; and of inaking use of all means to obtain victory over them. Hezekiah, though he was assured of his restoration from his disorder; yet this did not hinder him, nor the prophet, who assured him of it, from making use of proper means for the cure of it: and though the apostle Paul had a certainty of the saving of the lives of all that were in the ship, yet he directed them to the proper means of their preservation; and told them, that except they abode in the ship they could not be saved; and taking this liis advice, though shipwrecked, they all came safe to shore. 2. It is said, that this doctrine gives encouragement to indulge to sin, and to commit such gross sins as Lot, David, and others; upon an opinion that they are the children of God; and upon a presumption, that they cannot so fall as to perish everlastingly. To which it may be replied, that such sins mentioned, committed without repentance towards God, and faith in the blood and sacrifice of Christ, those who are guilty of them shall not inherit the kingdom of God; but according to the law, die without mercy; and even those good men who did commit such sins, though they had true faith, and genuine repentance, their sins were so displeasing to God, and resented by him, that he visited their transgressions with a rod, and their iniquities with stripes ; though his loving-kindness was not taken away from them. And the above instances of sin are recorded, not to encourage sin; but to caution against it; and to shew the weakness of the best of men, and to set forth the pardoning grace and mercy of God to such offenders; in order to relieve souls distressed with sin, and to give them hope of the pardon of it. And whalsoever ill use such persons may make of these instances, who have only an opinion of their being the children of God; such who are really so by faith in Christ, neither can nor will make such an use of them. 3. It is objected, that this doctrine lessens the force of the prohibitions of sin, and of exhortations to avoid it; and of motives offered to persevere in righteousness and holiness. But these prohibitions of sin and motives to holiness, are used by the Spirit of God as means of perseverance; and so they are considered by good men. And it would be assurd and irrational to judge otherwise; for can a man believe he shall persevere to the end, and and yet indulge himself in sin, as if he was resolved not to persevere? and nothing can be more stronger mơ. tives to holiness and righteousness, than the absolute and unconditional promises of God to his people; and the firm assurance given them of their being the children of God, and the redeemed of the Lamb. — 4. Whereas we argue, that the doctrine of the saints apostacy, obstructs the peace and comfort of believers ; it is objected to that of their perseverance, that it is not therefore true, because it is comfortable to carnal minds; which are opposite to the doctrine according to godliness. To which it may be answered, that our argument does not proceed upon the comfortableness of the doctrine we plead for; but upon the uncomfortableness of the opposite to it; for though a doctrine may not be true which is seemingly comfortable to a carnal mind; yet that doctrine is certainly not true, which is really uncomfortable to a sanctified heart; or which mani

festly breaks in upon the true peace and comfort of a believer; as the doctrine of the saints' apostacy does; since the whole scripture, and all the doctrines of it, are calculated for the comfort, as well as for the instruction and edification of the saints: and though their perseverance does not depend upon their comfort; for if they believe not, and are without comfort, God is faithful to his counsel, covenant, and promises, and will preserve and save them. However, this is certain, that the doctrine of the saints falling away from grace finally and totally, is a very uncomfortable one, and therefore to be rejected.

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BOOK
BO O K IV.

OF THE FINAL STATE OF MEN.

OF THE DEATH OF THE BODY.

The death to be treated of, is not the death of the soul, which dies not, as will be seen hereafter; nor the moral or spiritual death, which has been discoursed of elsewhere; nor the death of the soul and body in hell, the second and eter: nal death: but the death of the body, in a strict and proper sense.

The things to be enquired into, are, What death is? who the subjects of it? what the causes of it, and its properties ?

I. What death is. To say wliat it is, is difficult; we know nothing of it practically and experimentally, though there are continual instances of it before our eves; our friends and relations, who have gone through this dark passage, have not returned to us to tell us what they met with in it; nor what they felt when the parting stroke was given; nor what they were surprized into at once. We know nothing of death but in theory; it is defined by some a cessation of the motion of the hcart, and of the circulation of the blood, and of the flow of the animal spirits, occasioned by some defects in the organs and fluids of the body: no doubt such a cessation follows upon death, and such the effects of it; but what it is, is chiefly to be known from the scripture, by which we learn, 1. That it is a disunion of the soul and body, the two constituent parts of man; the one consists of flesh, blood and bones, of arteries, veins, nerves, &c. and goes by the general name of flesh; and the other is a spiritual substance, immaterial and immortal, and consists of several powers and faculties, as the understanding, will, and affections, and goes by the name of spirit, between these two there is a nexus, or bond, which unites them together; though what that is none can tell ; this puzzles all philosophy, to say by what bands and ligaments things of such a different nature as matter and spirit be, should be coupled and fastened together.

Now death is a dissolution of this union, a separation of those two parts in man. The body without the spirit, xwpis separate from it, is dead, James ii. 26. when that is removed, the body is left a lifeless lump of clay. — 2. It is a dissolving this earthly house of our tabernacle, 2 Cor. v. I. the body is compared to a tabernacle, 2 Cor. v. 4. in allusion either to military tents

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