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act, and God will not work miracles for the destruction of his children), so as to fall into that state wherein they were before they were regenerated, and of the children of God become children of the devil, tasting of the second death after they have been made partakers of the first resurrection, Rev. xx. 6.
Secondly, The question is not about the decay of any grace, but the loss of all, not about sickness and weakness, but about death itself; which alone we say they shall be preserved from. Neither do we say that believers are endowed with any such rich and plentiful stock of grace as that they may spend upon it without new supplies all their days; but grant that they stand in continual need of the renewed communication of that grace which hath its abode and residence in their souls, and of that actual assistance whereby any thing that is truly and spiritually good is wrought in them.'
Thirdly, Whereas there is a twofold impossibility,-first, that which is absolutely and simply so in its own nature, and, secondly, that which is so only upon some supposition,—we say the total falling away of the saints is impossible only in this latter sense, the unchangeable decree and purpose of God, his faithful promises and oath, the mediation of the Lord Jesus, being in the assertion supposed. And,
Fourthly, whereas we affirm they shall assuredly continue unto the end, the certainty and assurance intimated is not mentis but entis, not subjective but objective, not always in the person persevering, but always relating to the thing itself.
Fifthly, That the three things formerly mentioned, acceptance with God, holiness from God, and the defence upon them both unto the end, are that threefold cord of the covenant which cannot be broken. This will appear by comparing these two eminent places together, which afterward must more fully be insisted on, Jer. xxxi
. 33, 34, xxxi. 38–40. In general, God undertakes to be “their God," and that they shall be “his people," chap. xxxi. 33, xxxii. 38. And this he manifests in three things:-First, That he will accept them freely, give them to find great favour before him, in the forgiveness of their sins; for which alone he hath any quarrel with them: “I will,” saith he, "forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin no more,” Jer. xxxi. 34; as it is again repeated Heb. viii. 12. Secondly, That they shall have sanctification and holiness from him: “I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts,” Jer. xxxi. 33; "I will put my fear in their hearts," chap. xxxii. 40; which Ezekiel, chap. xxxvi. 27, calls the “putting his Spirit in them,” who is the author of that grace and holiness which he doth bestow. Thirdly, That in both these there
· Rev. ii. 5, iii. 2; 1sa. Ivii. 17, 18; Hos. xiv. 4; Isa. lix. 21 ; John xiv. 16; 1 John ii. 9, i. 8; James iii. 2; 1 Kings viii. 38; Isa. lxiv. 5, 6.
; Ps. xxiii. 6; Isa. xxxv. 1, 2, etc.; John xv. 3–7; Rom. xi. 18; John i 16; COL ü. 19; Luke xvii. 5; Phil. ii. 13.
• Isa. xlix. 14-16, Ixv. 17; Cant. v. 2, 6; Ps. Ixxiii. 26.
shall be a continuance for ever: Jer. xxxii. 40, "I will not turn away from them to do them good, but I will put my fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from me;" or, as verse 39, “They shall fear me for ever;" which distinguisheth this covenant from the former made with their fathers, in that that was broken, which this shall never be, chap. xxxi. 32. This is the crowning mercy, that renders both the others glorious:-as to acceptation, he will not depart from us; as to sanctification, we shall not depart from him.
THE PERSEVERANCE OF THE SAINTS ARGUED FROM THE IMMUTABILITY
OF THE DIVINE NATURE. The thesis proposed for confirmation—The fivefold foundation of the truth thereof
-Of the unchangeableness of the nature of God, and the influence thereof into the confirmation of the truth in hand-Mal. iii. 6, considered and explained—James i. 16–18 opened—Rom. xi. 29 explained and vindicatedThe conditions on which grace is asserted to be bestowed and continued, discussed—The vanity of them evinced in sundry instances Of vocation, justification, and sanctification - Isa. xl. 27–31 opened and improved to the end aimed at; also Isa. xliv. 1-8— The sum of the first argument--Mal. iï. 6, with the whole argument from the immutability of God at large vindicated -Falsely proposed by Mr G.; set right and re-enforced-Exceptions removed -Sophistical comparisons exploded-Distinct dispensations, according to distinction of a people—Alteration and change properly and directly assigned to God by Mr G.–The theme in question begged by him—Legal approbation of duties and conditional acceptation of persons confounded; as also God's command and purpose — The unchangeableness of God's decrees granted to be intended in Mal. iii. 6—The decree directly in that place intended – The decree of sending Christ not immutable, upon Mr G.'s principles—The close
of the vindication of this first argument. THE certain, infallible continuance of the love and favour of God unto the end towards his, those whom he hath once freely accepted in Jesus Christ, notwithstanding the interposition of any such supposals as may truly be made, having foundation in the things themselves, being the first thing proposed, comes now to be demonstrated.
Now, the foundation of this the Scripture lays upon five unchangeable things, which eminently have an influence into the truth thereof: first, Of the Nature; secondly, The Purposes; thirdly, The Covenant; fourthly, The Promises; fifthly, The Oath of God ;-every one whereof being engaged herein, the Lord makes use of to manifest the unchangeableness of his love towards those whom he hath once graciously accepted in Christ.
First, he hath laid the shoulders of the unchangeableness of his own nature to this work: Mal. ïïi. 6, “I am the LORD, I change not: therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed." These “sons of
Jacob" are the sons of the faith of Jacob, the Israel of God, not all the seed of Jacob according to the flesh. The Holy Ghost in this prophecy makes an eminent distinction between these two, chap. iii. 16, 17, iv. 1, 2. The beginning of this chapter contains a most evident and clear prediction and prophecy of the bringing in of the kingdom of Christ in the gospel, wherein he was to purge his floor, and throw out the chaff to be burned, Matt. iii. 12. This his appearance makes great work in the visible church of the Jews. Very many of those who looked and waited for that coming of his are cut off and cast out, as persons that have neither lot nor portion in the mercy wherewith it is attended. Though they said within themselves that they had Abraham to their father, and were the children and posterity of Jacob, yet, Mal. iii. 5, to them who are only the carnal seed, and do also walk in the ways of the flesh, he threatens a sore revenge and swift destruction, when others shall be invested with all the eminent mercies which the Lord Christ brings along with him. Lest the true sons of Jacob should be terrified with the dread of the approaching day, and say, as David did when the Lord made a breach upon Uzzah, “Who can stand before so holy a God? shall not we also in the issue be consumed?” he discovereth to them the foundation of their preservation to the end, even the unchangeableness of his own nature and being, whereunto his love to them is conformed; plainly intimating that unless himself and his everlasting deity be subject and liable to alteration and change (which once to imagine were, what lieth in us, to cast him down from his excellency), it could not be that they should be cast off for ever and consumed. These are the tribes of Jacob and the preserved of Israel, which Jesus Christ was sent to raise up, Isa. xlix. 6; the house of Jacob, which he takes from the womb, and carries unto old age, unto hoary hairs, and forsaketh not, chap. xlvi. 3, 4.
This is confirmed, James i. 16-18, “Do not err, my beloved brethren. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth.” He begets us of his own will by the word of truth; for whatsoever men do pretend, we are born again, “not
“not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God," John i. 13.
“ Now herein," saith the apostle, "we do receive from him good and perfect gifts,-gifts distinguished from the common endowments of others." Yea, but they are failing ones perhaps, such as may flourish for a season, and be but children of a night, like Jonah's gourd. Though God hath begotten us of his own will
, and bestowed good and per
i Rom. ix. 6, xi. 4-6.
; Isa. xlix. 3-6; Luke ii. 34; Rom. ix. 30, 31. 3 The expression was used not by David in reference to Uzzah, but by the men of Beth-shemesh. See 1 Sam, vi. 20.-Ed.
fect gifts upon us, yet he may cast us off for ever.
“ Do not err, my beloved brethren,” saith the apostle; "these things come from the
Father of lights.' God himself is the fountain of all lights of grace which we have received; and with him there is no variableness, neither shadow of turning,'—not the least appearance of any change or alteration." And if the apostle did not in this place argue from the immutability of the divine nature to the unchangeableness of his love towards those whom he hath begotten and bestowed such light and grace upon, there were no just reason of mentioning that attribute and property there.
Hence, Rom. xi. 29, the “gifts and calling of God” are said to be“ without repentance.” The gifts of his effectual calling av dide duoñ) shall never be repented of. They are from Him with whom there is no change.
The words are added by the apostle to give assurance of the certain accomplishment of the purpose of God towards the remnant of the Jews according to the election of grace. What the principal mercies were that were in God's intendment to them, and whereof by their effectual calling they shall be made partakers, he tells us, verses 26, 27 : the Deliverer or Redeemer, which comes out of Sion, shall, according to the covenant of grace, turn them from ungodliness, the Lord taking away their sins. Sanctification and justification by Christ, the two main branches of the new covenant (Jer. xxxi. 31-34, xxxii. 38-40 ; Ezek. xxxvi. 25-28; Heb. viii. 8–12, x. 16, 17), do make up the mercy purposed for them. The certainty of the collation of this mercy upon them, notwithstanding the interposition of any present obstruction (amongst which their enmity to the gospel was most eminent, and lay ready to be objected), the apostle argueth from the unchangeableness of the love of election, wherewith the Lord embraced them from eternity: “As touching the election, they are beloved.” And farther to manifest on that account the fulfilling of what he is in the proof and demonstration of,—namely, that though the major part of “Israel according to the flesh" were rejected, yet that the “election should obtain, and all Israel be saved,”—he tells them that that calling of God, whereby he will make out to them those eternally-designed mercies, shall not be repented of; cminently in that assertion distinguishing the grace whereof he speaks from all such common gifts and such outward dispensations as might be subject to a removal from them on whom they are bestowed. And if, upon any supposition or consideration imaginable, the mercies inentioned may be taken away, the assertion comes very short of the proof of that for which it is produced.
Against this plain expression of the apostle, that “the gifts and calling of God are without repentance,” Mr Goodwin puts in sundry exceptions, to weaken the testimony it bears in this case, chap. viii.
sect. 57; which because they have been already sufficiently evinced of weakness, falsehood, and impertinency, by his learned antagonist, I shall only take up that which he mainly insists upon, and farther manifest its utter uselessness for the end for which it is produced. Thus, then, he pleads: “The 'gifts and calling of God' may be said to be without repentance,' because, let men continue the same persons which they were when the donation or collation of any gift was first made by God unto them, he never changes or altereth his dispensations towards them, unless it be for the better, or in order to their farther good; in which case he cannot be said to repent of what he had given. But in case men shall change and alter from what they were when God first dealt graciously with them, especially if they shall notoriously degenerate or cast away the principles, or divest themselves of that very qualification on which, as it were, God grafted his benefit or gift; in this case, though he recall his gift, he cannot be said to repent of his giving it, because the terms on which he gave it please him still, only the persons to whom he gave it, and who pleased him when he gave it them, have now rendered themselves unpleasing to him.”
Two things are here asserted:-1. That if men continue the same, or in the same state and condition wherein they were when God bestowed his gifts and graces upon them, then God never changeth nor altereth,—his dispensations towards them abide the same. 2. That there are certain qualifications in men upon which God grafts his grace; which whilst they abide, his gifts and graces abide upon
them also, and therefore are said to be without repentance;' but if they are lost, God recalls his gifts, and that without any change. Let us a little consider both these assertions.
And, first, It being evident that it is spiritual grace and mercy of which the apostle speaks, as was manifested, for they are such as flow from the covenant of the Redeemer, Rom. xi. 26, 27, sanctification and justification being particularly mentioned, let us consider what is the condition of men when God invests them with these mercies, that we may be able to instruct them how to abide in that condition, and so make good the possession of the grace and mercy bestowed on them. And, to keep close to the text, let our instance be in the three eminent mercies of the gospel intimated in that place: 1. Vocation; 2. Sanctification; 3. Justification.
The gift and grace of vocation is confessedly here intended, being expressly mentioned in the words, ý x2 mois Toll roll, that "calling which is an effect of the covenant of grace, verse 29.
Consider we, then, what is the state of men when God first calls them and gives them this gift and favour, that, if it seem so good, we may exhort them to a continuance therein.
· Dr George Kendall. See prefatory note. -Ed.