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this text: God having, in his unchangeable purpose, fore-appointed his to salvation and glory, certainly to be obtained, through the effectual working of the Spirit and free justification in the blood of Christ, it cannot be but that they shall be preserved unto the enjoyment of what they are so designed unto.
To sum up what hath been spoken from these purposes of God to the establishment of the truth we have in hand: Those whom God hath purposed by effectual means to preserve to the enjoyment of eternal life and glory in his favour and acceptation, can never so fall from his love, or be so cast out of his grace, as to come short of the end designed, or ever be totally rejected of God. The truth of this proposition depends upon what hath been said, and may farther be insisted on, concerning the unchangeableness and absoluteness of the eternal purposes of God, the glory whereof men shall never be able sacrilegiously to rob him of. Thence the assumption is, concerning all true believers and truly sanctified persons, there are purposes of God that they shall be so preserved to such ends, etc., as hath been abundantly proved by an induction of particular instances; and therefore it is impossible they should ever be so cast out of the favour of God as not to be infallibly preserved to the end. Which is our second demonstration of the truth in hand.
THE ARGUMENT FROM THE COVENANT OF GRACE.
An entrance into the consideration of the covenant of grace, and our argument
from thence for the unchangeableness of the love of God unto believersThe intendment of the ensuing discourse—Gen. xvii. 7 opened and explained, with the confirmation of the argument in hand from thence—That argument vindicated and cleared of objections—Confirmed by some observations—Jer. xxxii. 38–40 compared with chap. xxxi. 31–34—The truth under consideration from thence clearly confirmed–The certainty, immutability, and infallible accomplishment, of all the promises of the new covenant demonstrated : 1. From the removal of all causes of alteration; 2. From the Mediator and his undertaking therein ; 3. From the faithfulness of God-One instance from the former considerations—The endeavour of Mr G. to answer our argument from this place—His observation on and from the text considered 1. This promise not made to the Jews only, 2. Nor to all the nation of the Jews, proved from Rom. xi. 7; not intending principally their deliverance from Babylon-His inferences from his former observations weighed-1. The promise made to the body of the people of the Jews typically only; 2. An exposition borrowed of Socinus rejected; 3. The promise not appropriated to the time of the captivity, and the disadvantage ensuing to Mr G.'s cause upon such an exposition—The place insisted on compared with Ezek. xi. 17-20_ That place cleared—A fourth objection answered— This promise always fulfilled – The spiritual part of it accomplished during the captivity-God's intention not frustrated-How far the civil prosperity of the Jews was con
cerned in this promise-Promises of spiritual and temporal things compared
- The covenant of grace how far conditional-Mr G.'s sense of this place expressed-Borrowed from Faustus Socinus—The inconsistency of it with the mind of the Holy Ghost demonstrated, also with what himself hath elsewhere delivered - No way suited to be the answer of our argument from the place
- The same interpretation farther disproved—An immediate divine efficacy held out in the words—Conversion and pardon of sins promised—Differenced from the grace and promises of the old covenant—Contribution of means put by Mr G. in the place of effectual operation of the thing itself, farther disproved-How, when, and to whom this promise was fulfilled, farther declared—An objection arising upon that consideration answered—Conjectures ascribed to God by Mr G.–The real foundation of all divine predictionsThe promise utterly enervated, and rendered of none effect by Mr G.'s exposition—Its consistency with the prophecies of the rejection of the Jews—The
close of the argument from the covenant of grace. HAVING shown the unchangeable stability of the love and favour of God towards his saints from the immutability of his own nature and purposes, manifested by an induction of sundry particular instances from eminent places of Scripture, wherein both the one and the other are held out as the foundation of what we affirm, I proceed to farther clear and demonstrate the same important truth from the first way of declaration whereby God hath assured them that it shall be to them according to the tenor of the proposition insisted on; and that is his covenant of grace. The principium essendi of this truth, if I may so say, is in the decrees and purposes of God; the principium cognoscendi, in his covenant, promise, and oath, which also add much to the real stability of it, the truth and faithfulness of God in them being thereby peculiarly engaged therein.
It is not in my purpose to handle the nature of the covenant of grace, but only briefly to look into it, so far as it hath influence into the truth in hand. The covenant of grace, then, as it inwraps the unchangeable love and favour of God towards those who are taken into the bond thereof, is that which lieth under our present consideration. The other great branch of it (upon the account of the same faithfulness of God), communicating permanency or perseverance in itself unto the saints, securing their continuance with God, shall, the Lord assisting, more peculiarly be explained when we arrive to the head of our discourse, unless enough to that purpose may fall in occasionally in the progress of this business.
For our present purpose, the producing and vindicating of one or two texts of Scripture, being unavoidably expressive towards the end aimed at, shall suffice.
The first of these is Gen. xvii. 7, “I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee.” This is that which God engageth himself unto in this covenant of grace, that he will for everlasting be a God to him and ;
his faithful seed. Though the external administration of the covenant was given to Abraham and his carnal seed, yet the effectual dispensation of the grace of the covenant is peculiar to them only who are the children of the promise, the remnant of Abraham according to election, with all that in all nations were to be blessed in him and in his seed, Christ Jesus. Ishmael, though circumcised, was to be put out, and not to be heir with Isaac, nor to abide in the house for ever, as the son of the promise was, Gal. iv. 22, 23, 30. Now, the apostle tells you, look what blessings faithful Abraham received by virtue of this promise, the same do all believers receive: Chap. iii. 9, “ They which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham;" which he proves (in the words foregoing) from Gen. xii. 3, because all nations were to be blessed in him. What blessing, then, was it that was here made over to Abraham? All the blessings that from God are conveyed in and by his seed, Jesus Christ (in whom both he and we are blessed), are inwrapped therein. What they are the apostle tells you, Eph. i. 3; they are "all spiritual blessings.” If perseverance, if the continuance of the love and favour of God towards us, be a spiritual blessing, both Abraham and all his seed, all faithful ones throughout the world, are blessed with it in Jesus Christ; and if God's continuing to be a God to them for ever will enforce this blessing (being but the same thing in another expression), it is here likewise asserted.
It is importunately excepted, " That though God undertake to be our God in an everlasting covenant, and upon that account to bless us with the whole blessing that is conveyed by the promised seed, yet if we abide not with him, if we forsake him, he will also cease to be our God, and cease to bless us with the blessing which on others in Jesus Christ he will bestow.”
Ans. If there be a necessity to smite this evasion so often as we shall meet with it, it must be cut into a hundred pieces. For the present, I shall only observe two evils it is attended withal:- First, It takes no notice that God, who hath undertaken to be a God unto us, hath, with the like truth, power, and faithfulness, undertaken that we shall abide to be his people. So is his love in his covenant expressed by its efficacy to this end and purpose, Deut. xxx. 6, “The LORD thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live." Secondly, It denies the continuance of the love of God to us to the end to be any part of the blessings wherewith we are blessed in Jesus Christ; for if it be, it could no more be suspended on any condition in us than the glorification of believers that abide so to the end.
This, then, is inwrapped in this promise of the covenant unto the elect, with whom it is established: God will be a God to them for
ever, and that to bless them with all the blessings which he communicates in and by the Lord Jesus Christ, the promised seed. The continuance of his favour to the end is to us unquestionably a spiritual blessing (if any one be otherwise minded, I shall not press to share with him in his apprehension); and if so, it is in Christ, and shall certainly be enjoyed by them to whom God is a God in covenant. He that can suppose that he shall prevail with the saints of God to believe it will make for their consolation to apprehend that there is no engagement in his covenant, assuring them of the continuance of the favour of God unto them to the end of their pilgrimage, hath no reason to doubt, or question the issue of any thing he shall undertake to persuade men unto. Doubtless he will find it very difficult with them who, in times of spiritual straits and pressures, have closed with this engagement of God in the covenant, and have had experience of its bearing them through all perplexities and entanglements, when the waves of temptation were ready to go over their souls. Certainly David was in another persuasion when, upon a view of all the difficulties he had passed through, and his house was, to meet withal, he concludes, 2 Sam. xxiii, 5, “God hath made with me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things and sure: this is all my salvation, and all my desire." The covenant from whence he had his sure mercies, not changeable, not alterable, not liable to failings, as the temporal prosperity of his house was, was that he rejoiced in.
I shall close this with two observations:
First,. It may, doubtless, and on serious consideration will, seem strange to any one acquainted in the least measure with God and his faithfulness, that, in a covenant established in the blood of Christ, he should freely promise to his that he would be a God unto them, —that is, that he would abide with them in the power, goodness, righteousness, and faithfulness, of a God, that he would be an all-sufficient God to them for ever,-yet, when he might with an almighty facility prevent it, and so answer and fulfil his engagement to the utmost, he should suffer them to become such villains and devils in wickedness that it should be utterly impossible for him, in the blood of his Son and the riches of his grace, to continue a God unto. them; this, I say, seemeth strange to me, and not to be received without casting the greatest reproach imaginable on the goodness, faithfulness, and righteousness, of God.
Secondly, If this promise be not absolute, immutable, unchangeable, independent on any thing in us, it is impossible that any one should plead it with the Lord, but only upon the account of the sense that he hath of his own accomplishment of the condition on which the promise doth depend. I can almost suppose that the whole generation of believers will rise up against this assertion to
remove it out of their way of walking with God. This I know, that most of them who at any time have walked in darkness and have had no light will reprove it to the faces of them that maintain it, and profess that God hath witnessed the contrary truth to their hearts. Are we, in the covenant of grace, left to our own hearts, ways, and walkings? Is it not differenced from that which is abolished? Is it not the great distinguishing character of it that all the promises of it are stable, and shall certainly be accomplished in Jesus Christ?
One place I shall add more, wherein our intendment is positively expressed, beyond all possibility of any colourable evasion, especially considering the explication, enlargement, and application, which in other places it hath received. The place intended is Jer. xxxii. 38-40, “They shall be my people, and I will be their God: and I will give them one heart, and one way, that they may fear me for ever, for the good of them, and of their children after them: and I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that 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;"—in conjunction with these words, of the same importance, chap. xxxi. 31-34, "Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers: but this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel ; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”
First, The thesis under demonstration is directly and positively affirmed, in most significant and emphatical words, by God himself. Seeing, then, the testimony of his holy prophets and apostles concerning him are so excepted against and so lightly set by, let us try if men will reverence himself
, and cease contending with him when he appeareth in judgment. Saith he, then, to believers, those whom he taketh into covenant with him: “This is my covenant with you” (in the performance whereof his all-sufficiency, truth, and faithfulness, with all other his glorious attributes, are eminently engaged), “I will be your God” (what that expression intends is known, and the Lord here explains, by instancing in some eminent spiritual mercies thence flowing, as sanctification, and acceptance with him by the forgiveness of sins), “and that for ever, in an everlasting covenant, and I will
1 Ps. lxxiii. 26; Isa. viii. 17, 1. 10. 3.2 Cor. i. 20; Heb. vii. 22, viii 7-9.