The Doctrine of the Saints Final Perseverance,

ASSERTED AND VIDICATED;
in Answer to a Late Pamphlet called “Serious Thoughts” on that Subject

John Gill

The doctrine of the saints final perseverance in grace to glory, being a doctrine so fully expressed in the sacred scriptures, so clearly wrote there as with a sun-beam, having so large a compass of proof; as scarce any other doctrine has; a doctrine so agreeable to the perfections of God, and the contrary so manifestly reflecting dishonor upon them, particularly the immutability of God, his wisdom, power, goodness, justice, truth, and faithfulness; a doctrine so well established upon his purposes and decrees, his counsel and covenant, and which so well accords with all his acts of grace towards, and upon his people; a doctrine so well calculated for their spiritual peace and comfort, and to promote holiness of life and conversation; a doctrine one would think, that every good man must wish at least to be true; it may seem strange, that any man believing divine revelation, and professing godliness, should set himself to oppose it, and call such an Opposition Serious Thoughts upon it, as a late writer has done; who has published a pamphlet under such a title, and which now lies before me, and which I have undertook to answer, and shall attempt to do it in the following manner. And, it is to be hoped, he will think again, and more seriously, and that his latter thoughts will be better than his former.

I shall not dispute his account of saints, and the characters of them, though there are some things which require distinction and explanation. He has rightly observed, that the question about the saints falling away, is not meant of barely falling into sin, but so as to perish everlastingly and therefore he has not produced the instances of David, Solomon, Peter, and others; which, with great impertinence and impropriety are usually brought into this controversy. He has put what he has to say upon this subject into Eight propositions, which he endeavors to confirm by scripture authorities. And,

The First is, “That one who is holy or righteous in the judgment of God himself, may nevertheless so fall from God, as to perish everlastingly;” in support of which he produces Ezekiel 18:24, but when the righteous turneth away from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity—In his trespass that he hath trespassed, and in his sin that he hath sinned, in them shall he die. Which he understands of eternal death, as he thinks is evident from verse 26 (Serious Thoughts, hereafter S. T., pp. 4, 5). But 1. such a sense of the words is contrary to the scope and design of the whole chapter, which not at all concerns the perseverance or apostasy of saints, and neither their salvation nor damnation; but the sole view of it is to vindicate the justice of God, from a charge of punishing the Jews, not for their own sins, but the sins of their fathers, and of injustice and inequality in his providential dealings with them, and has nothing to do with the spiritual and eternal affairs of men.—2. The whole context wholly and solely regards the house of Israel, and the land of Israel, and the conduct of the people of Israel in it, according to which they held or lost their tenure of it, and were either continued in it, or removed from it: so that it is quite impertinent to the case before us and this writer is guilty of what he calls a fallacy in others, in applying that to the saints in particular, which relates to the Jewish church and nation only, as distinguishable from all other people (S. T., p. 7), and so stands self-condemned.— 3. The righteous man here spoken of, is indeed called and allowed by the Lord himself to be so; yet that righteousness by which he is denominated, only regards him as an inhabitant of the land of Israel, and as giving him a title and claim to the possession and enjoyment of it; but not as justifying him before God, and giving him a title to eternal life and happiness. For this righteousness is called his, his own, and not another’s, which he himself had done, and not what Christ had done for him, his own in which he trusted; it was a righteousness of works, as appears from verses 5-9, and not the righteousness of faith; there is not a word of faith in the account, nor of the obedience of Christ, nor of the sanctifying grace of the Spirit; this man does not appear to be either a righteous man or a holy man in an evangelical sense; wherefore the instance is quite impertinent. Millions of instances of this kind will never enervate the doctrine of the saints perseverance; let it be proved if it can, that any one that has been made righteous by the obedience of Christ, and has been truly and inwardly sanctified by the Spirit and grace of God, ever so fell away, as everlastingly to perish; let this be proved and we have done: As for a man’s own righteousness and outward acts of holiness, we allow a man may turn from them and be lost, but not from the righteousness of Christ, which is everlasting, nor from an inward principle of grace and holiness, which ever abides.—4. Besides, admitting that a righteous man in an evangelical sense is here meant, though it cannot be allowed; yet what is here said is only a supposition, which puts nothing in being, and is no proof or instance of matter of fact.—And, 5. the death here spoken of, is not eternal death, or the death of soul and body in hell; for this death was now upon them, what they were complaining of as wrongfully punished with; it being, as they supposed, on account of their fathers sins, and not their own; and from which death also they might be delivered by repentance and reformation, see verses 23, 32. All which cannot be said of eternal death; but it is to be understood of some temporal affliction and calamity, which in Scripture is often called a death, as in Exodus 10:17; 2 Corinthians 1:10 and 11:23, such as captivity in which the Jews now were on account of their sins, and was the subject of their complaint. Dying in his iniquity, is the same as dying for his iniquity, and both in verse 26 (Ezekiel) signify the same thing, and are not two different deaths; which is repeated to shew the certainty of it; and is also what is meant by the death of the soul, not of the soul only, or of the body only, but of the person of the sinner, punished with a temporal affliction for his sins; and so falls short of proving that a truly righteous and holy man may perish everlastingly.

The Second proposition is, that “one who is endued with the faith that purifies the heart, that produces a good conscience, may nevertheless so fall from God, as to perish everlastingly.” In proof of which is produced, 1 Timothy 1:19, 20, holding faith and a good conscience, which some having put away, concerning faith have made shipwreck, of whom is Hymeneus and Alexander (S. T., p. 8)—But, 1. It does not appear that these men ever had their hearts purified by faith; this should be first proved, before they are produced as instances of the apostasy of real saints; the contrary appears in their characters; they were ungodly men, and were never otherwise for any thing that is said of them; and after their profession of religion, they increased and proceeded to more ungodliness; they were vain-babblers, opposers of the doctrines of the gospel, and blasphemers of it, and were never upon the foundation that stands sure, or were known by the Lord as his, (see 1 Tim 1:20 and 2 Tim. 2:16, 19; 4:14, 15).—2. Nor is it clear from the text, that they ever had a good conscience, but rather that they never had one; putting it away does not necessarily suppose they had it, but rather that they had it not, they rejecting it with dislike; as the Jews who never had the gospel are said to put it away; when they contradicted, blasphemed and rejected it, the apostle says, ye put it from you, avpwqei/sqe, the same word that is here used; ye rejected it, cast it from you, and would not receive it, so here; had these persons ever had a good conscience, it would rather have been said, which some having put out of them; but they never had it; when it was proposed to them, as the Christian religion proposes that a man should exercise a good conscience, they disliked it, and put it away, and would not attend to it, and chose rather to drop the faith they professed, as being contrary to their evil consciences and practices; besides, persons may have a good conscience in some sense, and as it is shews itself by an external behavior among men, which does not arise from an heart purified by faith; the apostle had such an one before he had faith in Christ, Acts 23:1. though it does not seem as if these men had ever such an one.—3. The faith they made shipwreck of, is not the grace of faith, which it does not appear they ever had, but the doctrine of faith, the Gospel; peri. th.n pi,stewn, concerning the faith, is a phrase that is never used but of the doctrine of faith, see Acts. 24:24; 1 Timothy 6:21; 2 Timothy 3:8. This is the faith they made shipwreck of, denied and destroyed, or contradicted and blasphemed, as it is explained in the next verse; and the particular doctrine of faith they made shipwreck of. erred concerning, and swerved from, was the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead, see 2 Timothy 2:17, 18. Men may profess the doctrine of faith and fall from it; but this is no instance of a man’s having true faith which purifies the heart, and falling from God so as to perish.

The Third proposition is (S. T., p. 9), that “Those who are grafted into the good olive tree, the spiritual invisible church: may nevertheless so fall from God, as to perish everlastingly.” To support which, the text in Romans 11:17-24 is produced, but to no purpose.—For, 1. By the olive tree, is not meant the spiritual and invisible church of Christ that is, the general assembly and church of the firstborn which were written in heaven, and consists only of the chosen, redeemed, and saved; to which there can be no addition, and of which there can he no diminution; no fresh engrafture can he made into it, nor any excision from it.—But, 2. The outward Gospel-church-state, or the outward state of the church under the Gospel-dispensation; the national church of the Jews being abolished, and its branches broken, see Jeremiah 11:16, which signify the unbelieving Jews; who because of their unbelief also were left out of the Gospel-church-state; and the few believing Jews were together with the Gentiles grafted into that true olive tree, the Gospel-church and the first coalition was at Antioch.—3. Those that are signified by the broken branches, were never true believers in Christ; and because of their unbelief, were broken off, and they were left out of the Gospel-church; they are distinguished from the remnant according to the election of grace among the Jews, and are the rest that were blinded, verses 5, 7; and so no instances of the apostasy of true believers.—4. Though the persons the apostle speaks to were grafted into the olive tree, and were holy believers, and stood by faith, and are threatened in case they did not behave suitable to their character and profession, that they should be cut off: yet this can only intend a cutting off from the outward church-state, in which they were, and from the privileges of it; and had it took place, would have been no proof of their perishing everlastingly.—5. There is a strong intimation, though this writer says there is not the least intimation given, that such that were cut off should be grafted in again; since it is not only said, that God is able to do it, but that if they abode not in unbelief, it should be done; and the probability of it is argued; and so it will be in the latter day, when the Jews shall be converted, and all Israel, be saved, verses 23-26 of which the first Jews that believed in Christ, were the first-fruits and root, said to be holy, verse 16, and so were the pledge and earnest of the future engrafture of their people into the Gospel-church-state. Upon the whole, this is an insufficient proof that any belonging to the invisible church ever so fell, as to perish everlastingly. Let it be proved, if it can, that ever any of the church of the first-born whose names are written in heaven; that any of that church of which Christ is the head, whom he loved, gave himself and died for; that any of that body which is the fullness of him, that filleth all in all; or that any who are baptized by one Spirit into it, and have been made to drink of that Spirit, were ever lost or did eternally perish.

The Fourth proposition is, that “those who are branches of the true vine, of whom Christ says I am the vine, ye are the branches, may nevertheless so fall from God, as to perish everlastingly (John 15:1-5), where it is observed, the persons spoken of are branches in Christ, some which abide not in him, but are cast forth from him and his church, and are withered, and so consequently never grafted in again, yea cast into the fire and burned. Wherefore it is not possible for words more strongly to declare, that even those who are now branches in the true vine, may yet so fall, as to perish everlastingly” (S. T., p. 13). To which I answer, that there are two sorts of branches in Christ the vine, the one fruitful, and the other unfruitful; the one are such who were chosen in him before the foundation of the world to be holy and happy; and who are truly regenerated by his Spirit and grace in time, and made his new creatures; for if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature (2 Cor. 5:17); these are openly, truly, and savingly in him: he is the green fir tree to them, from whom all their fruit is found; they are rooted in him, and receive their life and nourishment and fruitfulness from him, and abide in him; and can never wither away and perish, as is clear from the text and context: these are the branches which the husbandman, Christ’s heavenly father, purges and prunes, that they may bring forth more fruit; and these as they were loved by Christ in the same manner as his father loved him, so they were chosen and ordained by him, to go and bring forth fruit, and that their fruit might remain and so not perish, verses 2, 9, 16, hence this parable of the vine and branches, furnishes out an argument for, and not against the perseverance of the saints. The other sort of branches are such who are in Christ only by profession: who submit to outward ordinances, and get into churches, and so are reckoned in Christ, being professors of him, and in a church-state; as the churches of Judea and Thessalonica, and others, are said to be in Christ though it cannot be thought, that every individual person in those churches were truly and savingly in him (Col. 1:21; 1 Thess. 1:1). These are such who were never rooted in Christ, or ever received any life, grace, or fruitfulness from him, and so are unfruitful branches; and in a course of time wither away in their profession; and whom the husbandman by one means or another takes away; and who are cast out of the churches into which they get, and by which they have a name of being in Christ, either for their bad principles or practices, or both; and at last, as chaff are burnt with unquenchable fire; but what is all this to real saints or true believers in Christ? no proof at all of their falling and perishing everlastingly.

The Fifth proposition is, that “those who so effectually know Christ, as by that knowledge to escape the pollutions of the world, may yet fall back into these pollutions, and perish everlastingly” (S. T., p. 16); the text to prove it is 2 Peter 2:20, 21, which this writer understands of an experimental knowledge of Christ, which some had and lost and fell back into pollutions, and perished.—But, 1. it does not appear that the knowledge the persons in the text are said to have, was an inward experimental knowledge of Christ: had it been such, they could not have lost it for those who truly and experimentally know him, shall follow on to know him; and such a knowledge of him has eternal life inseparably connected with it; yea, that itself is eternal life, and therefore can never be lost (Hos. 6: 3; John 17:3).— 2. The effect ascribed unto it, escaping the pollutions of the world, does not prove it to be an inward experimental knowledge; since that signifies no more than an outward reformation and amendment of life, which may follow upon a notional and speculative knowledge of Christ, or an outward acknowledgement and profession of him.—3. There is nothing said of these persons which shew that they were partakers of the true grace of God, or but what may be said of such that are destitute of it; all the characters of them in the context, for they are no other than the false teachers there described, shew them to be very vile and wicked men: they do not appear ever to have had any change wrought upon them; they ever were no other than dogs and swine; not, only before and after, but even while they were under a profession of religion, and outwardly abstained from gross enormities, as the application of the Proverb to them shews; it is happened to them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again, and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire, verse 22. Wherefore the characters and case of these persons can never be improved into an argument against the perseverance of real saints, and such as have a spiritual and experimental knowledge of Christ.

The Sixth proposition is, that “Those who see the light of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ, and who have been made partakers of the Holy Ghost, of the witness and fruits of the Spirit, may nevertheless so fall from God, as to perish everlastingly;” for the proof of this, we are referred to Hebrews 6:4-6, where it is said, the expressions used are so strong and clear, that they cannot, without gross and palpable wresting, be understood of any but true believers (S. T., p. 17).—But, 1. admitting that true believers are meant, the words are only a supposition of their falling away, if they, fall away, and prove no matter of fact, that ever any did; and at most are only expressive of the danger they are in of falling, and of the difficulty of restoring them, from a partial fall, a final and total one being prevented by the power and grace of God. But, says our author, the apostle makes no supposition at all, there is no if in the original the words are in plain English, it is impossible to renew again to repentance, those who were once enlightened, and have fallen away but, though the if or condition is not expressed, yet it is implied, and the sense is the same as if it was an hypothetical or conditional proposition may be as truly expressed without an if, as with it, as it is here; the words in the original lie literally thus, it is impossible that those who were once enlightened, kai. parapeso,ntaj, and they falling away, to renew them again unto repentance; that is, should they fall away, which in plain English is, if they fall away; our translators have therefore rightly resolved the participle into a conditional verb, as many other learned men have done, as Erasmus, Beza, Piscator, Paræus, and others, the words are indeed in some versions translated without the condition, but then in such manner as to contain an argument for the perseverance of the saints, thus: it is impossible that any that have been once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gifts,—and yet fall away; that is, it is impossible that such should fall away; and so the Syriac version of the words is, it is impossible, &c. that they should sin again; so as to die spiritually, or lose the grace of God; which would require the crucifying of Christ again, and exposing him again to open shame; things impossible to be done, and therefore the former: for according to this version, the several other things mentioned are joined the word impossible; as that they should be renewed to repentance; and also that they should crucify the Son of God and put him to shame.—But, 2. there is nothing in the characters of these persons which shew them to be true believers; there is nothing said of their believing in Christ, or that necessarily implies it; there is nothing said that is peculiar to true believers; they are not said to be regenerated by the Spirit of God, called by the grace of God, or sanctified, or justified, or adopted, or heirs of God, and meet for the inheritance, or sealed by the Holy Ghost, or any thing of that kind.—3. What is said of them, is no more than what is to he found in many that are destitute of the grace of God; they might be enlightened, or baptized, as the Syriac, and Ethiopic versions understand and render it; or they might be enlightened into the doctrines of the Gospel, and to such a degree as to preach them to others, and yet be strangers to the true grace of God, and the spiritual enlightenings that true believers have of their lost estate by nature, need of Christ, and interest in him; they might taste of the heavenly gift, whether it be understood of a justifying righteousness, remission of sins, or eternal life; that is, they might have some speculative notions about these things, and desires after them; which might only arise from a natural principle of self-love, and be destitute of any inward spiritual principle of grace: they might be partakers of the Holy Ghost, not of his person or special grace, but of his gifts; and that not only ordinary but extraordinary also, as Dr. Hammond and Dr. Whitby both understand the phrase, they might taste the good word of God, in the bare form and notion of it, and have a superficial knowledge of, and gust for it; and yet never have felt the effectual power of it upon their hearts; they might also taste the powers of the world to come; and these, whether they intend the glorious things relating to the state of the church after the first resurrection, or the ultimate joys and glories of heaven; they might have some notions of, and make some natural and self-pleasing reflections on them, without having those foretastes which are peculiar to the people of God: or whether they may intend the du,nameij, miracles, and mighty works done in the times of the Messiah, the Jews, which many, as Judas, and others, were able to perform, who were not true believers in Christ, (see Matthew 7:22, 23).— Besides. 4. these persons seem to be represented by the unfruitful earth (v. 8), which bears thorns and briers, and is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing, and its end to be burned; and true believers are manifestly distinguished from them, of whom the apostle was persuaded better things, things that accompany salvation, though he thus, spoke; put such a case, in the hypothetical and conditional form; and which was applicable enough to other persons, though not to them (v. 9), so that nothing can be fairly concluded from hence, against the final perseverance of the saints.

The Seventh proposition is, that “Those who live by faith, may yet fall from God, and perish everlastingly;” to establish which, the passage in Hebrews 10:38 is produced; 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 a justified person that now lives the life that is hid with Christ in God, may not endure to the end, may draw back to perdition, and be utterly cast off (S. T., p. 20).— But, 1. One that is just and righteous by the righteousness of Christ, or that is truly justified by it, ever remains so; he cannot be condemned or enter into condemnation; he will be eternally glorified; whom he justified, them he also glorified (Rom. 8:30, 33, 34). Such whose life is hid with Christ in God, their life is safe, and can never be destroyed; therefore, when he their life shall appear, they shall appear with him in glory (Col. 3:3, 4), and such who live by faith on Christ, shall never die; for so our Lord himself says, whosoever liveth and believeth in me, shall never die (John 11:20), that is, he that lives by faith on Christ, shall never die spiritually, or die the second and eternal death; and therefore, such an one can never so fall, as to perish everlastingly.—2. These words are so far from militating against the doctrine of the saints deliverance, that they greatly establish it; for here are manifestly two sorts of persons mentioned: one that were “of faith;” that had true faith in Christ, and lived by faith on him, did not draw back to perdition, but went on believing to the saving of their souls; or till they received the end of their faith, even the salvation of their souls; of this number were the apostle and others with him, included in the word we, and every truly just, and righteous man. The other were “of the withdrawing,” or separation; who forsook the assembly of the saints (v. 25), withdrew from their society and communion, and apostatized from the ways and worship of God; now by this distinction and opposition between these two sorts of persons, it clearly appears, that those that truly believe, do not draw back unto perdition, but continue in the faith of Christ, and in the true worship of God, until they are everlastingly saved; which is a firm testimony to the final perseverance of the saints; so likewise, that those that draw back unto perdition, were not of the faith, were not true believers, nor ever the just ones that live by faith: and so their drawing back or apostasy which was not from faith they never had, but from their profession of religion they once made, is no proof of one that lives by faith falling away, so as everlastingly to perish.—3. It is indeed said, that the text is not fairly translated, and that the original runs thus: the just man that lives by faith draws back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him; making he that draws back to refer to the just man that lives by faith; but that this cannot be the sense, and so not the true rendering of the words, appears from the original text in Habakkuk 2:4, from whence these words are taken; Behold his soul which is lifted up, is not upright in him; which the Greek version and the apostle render, if he withdraws, or draws back, my soul has no pleasure in him: this then is the man that draws back, and who is opposed unto, and distinguished from the righteous in the following clause, but the just shall live by his ,faith: hence it is a clear case, that he that draws back, and the righteous man, are not one and the same; and therefore, our translators are to be vindicated in rendering the words by an adversative but, and in their supplement of any man; which is supported by the authority of other learned men, as Flaccus, Illyricus, Beza, Piscator, and others; and even Grotius himself, who was no friend to the doctrine contended for, owns the justness of it, that ti,j, any one, ought to be supplied, as agreeable to the grammatical construction of the words. Besides, could the translation this writer gives be established, which upon a little reflection he will easily see is inaccurate; it only contains a supposition of a righteous man’s drawing back, which proves no matter of fact; and moreover, though such a man may draw back partially, and so as to incur the divine displeasure, yet not draw back into perdition; for from one that does so, the just man is distinguished, as appears from the following verse; but we are not of them that draw back unto perdition, &c. which seems to be mentioned on purpose to encourage true believers from the doctrine of perseverance when so many professors were forsaking their communion.

The Eighth proposition is, that “Those that are sanctified by the blood of the covenant, may so fall from God, as to perish everlastingly;” in proof of which, Hebrews 10:29 is produced; on which it is observed (S. T., p. 22), that it is undeniably plain, that the person mentioned was once sanctified by the blood of the covenant; that he afterwards by known willful sin trod under the foot the Son of God, and hereby incurred a sorer punishment than death, namely, death everlasting; whence it follows, that one so sanctified may fall, as to perish everlastingly. The sense of the passage, and the argument upon it, depend entirely upon the meaning of the phrase, sanctified by the blood of the covenant, and of whom it is spoken: and according to the rules of speech, since the immediate antecedent to the relative he, is the Son of God, it must be he and not the apostate that is here intended; and it is mentioned as an aggravation of the sin of such a person, that counted that blood unholy by which the Son of God himself was sanctified, set apart, hallowed and consecrated, to the discharge of that part of his priestly-office, which lay in intercession for his people; as Aaron and his sons were by the sacrifices of slain beasts, to minister in the priest’s office: it was a most grievous sin to treat with contempt such a person, as not only God the Father had sanctified, and sent into the world, and who had also sanctified, and set apart himself for the redemption of his people, that they might be sanctified through the truth; but having offered himself a sacrifice for their sins, whereby the covenant of grace was ratified and confirmed, was through the blood of that covenant brought again from the dead, and declared to be the Son of God; and so was sanctified or set apart by it to accomplish the other part of his priestly office, intercession for his people; to do which he ever lives and sits at the right hand of God. And this being the sense of the words, it leaves no room for any argument to be taken from hence, against the final perseverance of the saints.—But., 2. admitting that the words are to be understood of the apostate having been sanctified by the blood of the covenant; it should be explained in what sense he had been so, which this writer does not pretend to do, that we may judge whether it is a descriptive character of a real saint, or no; for if it is not, then it is still nothing to the purpose. It is not to be understood of the inward sanctification of nature, or of the heart; for that is by the Spirit of God; this the Arminians do not say: Dr. Whitby himself owns (Discourse Concerning Election, &c. pp. 141, 406), it has no relation to that; yet this is what ought to be proved, to make the person to be a real saint, or a true believer; or else he can be no instance of the saints final and total apostasy. Nor is it to be understood of remission of sins, and justification by the blood of Christ, as the above Doctor interprets it; for either this must be a partial remission of sins, and justification from them, or a full one; not a partial one, for when God forgives sins for Christ’s sake, he forgives all sins, and justifies from all iniquities; and if a full one, then even these heinous crimes he is charged with, must be forgiven; and so he stood in no need of any more sacrifice for sin; nor could any punishment be inflicted on him for them nor need he fear any; and especially so sore and severe a one as is here represented: wherefore if these words are to be understood of an apostate, and of his having been sanctified by the blood of the covenant; the meaning must be, either that he was sanctified and separated from others by a visible profession of religion, had submitted to baptism, and partook of the Lord’s Supper, had drank of the cup, the blood of the New Testament or covenant, though he did not spiritually discern the body and blood of Christ in the ordinance, but counted the bread and wine, the symbols thereof, as common things; or else that he professed. himself to be sanctified, or to have his sins expiated by the blood of the covenant, and to be justified by it, and was looked upon by others to be so, when he really was not: and take the sense either way, it furnishes out no argument against the final perseverance of the saints.

Thus having gone through the Eight propositions, laid down by the writer of the Serious Thoughts, &c. and shewn that they are without any foundation or authority in the word of God, and that the doctrine of the saints final perseverance stands unshaken by them; I shall now proceed to offer some arguments in proof of it, and to establish the minds of God’s people in it, and shall vindicate such of them, as are excepted to by the above writer. And,

First, This doctrine may be concluded from the perfections of God: whatever is agreeable to them, and they make necessary, must be true; and whatever is contrary to them, and reflects dishonor on them, must be false. The doctrine of the saints final perseverance is agreeable to them, and is made entirely necessary by them, and therefore must be true; and the contrary doctrine, of the falling away of real saints, so as to perish everlastingly, is repugnant to them, and reflects great dishonor on them, and therefore must be false; as will appear by the following particulars.

1. The immutability of God is concerned in this affair; I am the Lord, I change not, therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed (Mal. 3:6): if they were, he must change in his love to them, and whom he now loves he must hate; he must alter his purposes concerning them; whereas, he has appointed them to salvation, he must consign them over to ruin and destruction; he must reverse his promises to them, and his blessings of grace bestowed on them; he must alter the thing that is gone out of his lips, his counsel, and his covenant, and be of a different mind from what he has been; but he is of one mind, and who can turn him? he is the same to-day, yesterday, and for ever: and, therefore, his saints shall never perish; this is inconsistent with the unchangeableness of his nature, will and grace, and would greatly reproach this glorious perfection of his. This doctrine makes God changeable, with whom there is no variableness nor shadow of turning; nor can this writer disprove it; he is indeed unchangeably holy, just and good, as he says (S. T., p. 11); but he is also unchangeably loving to his people; unchangeably true and faithful, and unchangeable in his will, purposes, promises, and covenant; which he would not be, if his beloved, chosen, and covenant ones should perish.

2. The wisdom of God is concerned in this doctrine: No wise man that has an end in view, but will prepare and make use of proper means; and, if in his power, will make those means effectual to attain the end, or he will not act a wise part: the end which God has in view, and has fixed, is the salvation of his people; and is it consistent with his wisdom to appoint insufficient means, or not to make those means effectual when it is in his power to do it? which must be the case, if any of those he has appointed to salvation should perish: No, as he has appointed the end, salvation, he has fixed the means, sanctification of the Spirit, and belief of the truth, which he prepares, produces, and makes effectual. Where would be his wisdom to appoint men to salvation, and never save them, to send his Son to redeem them, and they never the better for it; to begin a good work of grace in them, and not finish it? No, the wisdom of God is wonderfully displayed in this affair, in providing all blessings for his people in a covenant ordered in all things, and sure; in putting them into the hands of his Son for the security of them; in their complete redemption by him, wherein he has abounded in all wisdom, and prudence; and in assigning the work of sanctification in its beginning, progress, and issue, to the divine Spirit, who is equal to it, and will perform it. There is no searching of his understanding; hence he giveth power to the faint, and to them that have no might he increaseth strength.—Wherefore, they shall run, and not be weary, and walk, and not faint (Isa. 40:28, 29, 31); shall persevere to the end, and get safe to heaven and happiness.

3. The power of God is concerned in this matter: such who are the elect according to the fore-knowledge of God the Father, and are begotten again according to his abundant mercy, who have a lively hope of a glorious inheritance, these are kept by the power of God, through faith unto salvation (1 Pet. 1: 2, 3, 5); they are kept as in a garrison, as the word used signifies they are surrounded with the power of God: he is a wall of fire round about them (Zech. 2:5), to protect and defend them, and to offend their enemies: as the mountains are round about Jerusalem, so is the Lord round about his people, from henceforth, even for ever. Wherefore they that trust in the Lord, shall be as mount Zion, which cannot be removed, but abides for ever (Ps. 125:1, 2); and this power of God is continually employed in the preservation of his people, he keeps them night and day, lest any hurt them (Isa. 27:3); they are kept in, and through a course of believing unto the end; and their faith is as much secured and preserved by the power of God, as their persons are, who performs the work of faith with power, as well as begins it; they are kept by it, unto, and till they come to complete salvation in heaven; their whole spirit, soul and body, are preserved blameless, to the coming of our Lord Jesus, and safe unto his heavenly kingdom (1 Thess. 5:23; 2 Tim. 4:18): and therefore, since the power of God is so strongly engaged for them, they cannot fall so as to perish everlastingly. The writer, I have to do with, owns, that “undoubtedly so are all they (kept by the power of God) who ever attain eternal salvation; it is the power of God only, and not our own, by which we are kept one day or one hour.” Now there are not any real saints who are not kept by the power of God, and do not attain salvation; and it lies upon him to shew how the falling away of such, so as to perish everlastingly, is consistent with the words the apostle Peter referred to, as he says it is, or with their being kept by almighty power.

4. The goodness, grace, and mercy of God, serve to establish this truth; his goodness endures for ever; his mercy is from everlasting to everlasting, on them that fear him (Ps. 103:17); the mercy of God as it is free and sovereign, plenteous, boundless, and infinite, so it is sure, permanent and perpetual; those that are once the objects of it, are always so, and therefore can never perish: it is of the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not (Lam. 3:22); which they would, should any of his he consumed and perish. Can it be thought that that God who is gracious and merciful, abundant in goodness and truth, pardoning iniquity, transgression, and sin; that he who has begotten men again, according to his abundant mercy, and because he is rich in it, and for his great love to them, quickens them when dead in trespasses and sins, after all will suffer them so to fall, as to perish everlastingly? No, as the Psalmist says, the Lord will perfect that which concerneth me; the work of grace upon his heart, his whole salvation; his reason for it is, thy mercy, O Lord, endureth for ever: hence follows a prayer of faith, forsake not the work of thine own hands (Ps. 138:8); God will not.

5. The justice of God requires that those should be certainly and eternally saved, for whose sins Christ has died, for which he has made satisfaction by suffering the punishment due unto them; it is contrary to the justice of God to punish sin twice, once in the surety, and again in the redeemed, Christ is a surety for; and yet this must be the case, if true believers in Christ, for whom Christ suffered and died, should everlastingly perish: for to perish everlastingly, is the same as to be punished with everlasting destruction.

6. The truth and faithfulness of God secures the final perseverance of the saints; his counsels of old are faithfulness and truth (Isa. 25:1); whatever he has appointed shall be performed he is faithful that has promised (Heb. 10:23); and will make good whatever he has said; and, whereas there are many things he has said respecting the perseverance of his saints, his faithfulness is engaged to fulfil them; God is faithful by whom they are called to the fellowship of his Son, to confirm them to the end, that they may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus (1 Cor. 1:8, 9): and though he suffers them to be afflicted and tempted, yet he is faithful, who will not suffer them to be tempted above that they are able to bear, but will with the temptation also make a way to escape (1 Cor. 10:13): and those whom he sanctifies, shall be preserved unto the coming of our Lord Jesus, faithful is he that has called them, who also will do it; and the same Lord is faithful, who shall establish and keep his people from evil (1 Thess. 5:23, 24; 2 Thess. 3:3): but if any of these should perish everlastingly, where is his faithfulness? we may be assured therefore they shall not perish, for he will never suffer his faithfulness to fail (Ps. 89:33): nor is there any condition annexed to those declarations and promises; the conditions this writer suggests (S. T., pp. 11, 12), are not of God’s making, but of his own forging.

Secondly, The final perseverance of the saints, may be concluded from the everlasting love of God unto them. Those who are once the objects of God’s love, are always so; his love to them in every state and condition into which they come is invariable and unalterable: it is constant, permanent, perpetual, and for ever. God loves his people with the same love he loves his Son, and therefore it will always continue; and if it always continues, it is impossible they should ever perish; can a man perish everlastingly, and yet be the object of everlasting love? the love of God to him must cease, or he can never perish but that never can; God always rests in his love to his people; it is more immovable than hills and mountains; they may depart, but his loving-kindness never shall, that is from everlasting to everlasting; I have loved thee, saith the Lord (Jer. 31:3), with an everlasting love, therefore with loving-kindness have I drawn thee: but it is said (S. T., p. 7), this “simply declares God’s love to the Jewish church; be it so, whatsoever things were written aforetime, were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope (Rom. 15:4) The Jewish and Christian church are loved with the same love; saints under the gospel-dispensation are not less loved, than under the legal one; if the Jewish church was loved with an everlasting love, then much more the Christian church, and believers in it, since their privileges are greater; and if the blessings of goodness bestowed on the Jewish church, by which the Lord drew and engaged them to himself, were evidences of his everlasting love to them; then surely the blessings of the new covenant bestowed upon saints under the present dispensation, and particularly, the Lord’s drawing them by powerful and efficacious grace in conversion to himself, and to his Son, must be evidences of his everlasting love to them and therefore, they cannot everlastingly perish, because from his love they can never be separated; for I am persuaded, says the apostle (Rom. 8:38, 39), that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord: which words do not merely declare the apostle’s full persuasion of his own perseverance at that time, as our author suggests (S. T., p. 12); for he does not say, shall not separate me, but us, and expresses his full persuasion of the perseverance of all saints, whether they themselves had the full assurance of faith, or no; even of all the elect of God, against whom no charge can be laid, because God has justified them, and on whom no condemnation can come, because Christ has died for them, and whose salvation is sure and certain, because he ever lives to make intercession for them, and had made them more than conquerors over all their enemies; and therefore, nothing can obstruct their eternal happiness, or the bringing of them safe to glory (Rom. 8:33-37).

Thirdly, This doctrine of the saints final perseverance, may be established from the counsels, purposes, and decrees of God; particularly the decree of election, which stands, sure, not upon the loot of works, but upon the will of him that calleth (Rom. 9:11), which is unalterable and irreversible. I take it for granted, that there is such a decree, by which God has chosen and appointed some men to everlasting salvation by Jesus Christ; this writer may dispute it with me if he pleases. My argument upon it is this, if God has chosen some men to eternal life by Christ, and any of these should everlastingly perish, then the purpose of God according to election concerning them, would not stand; but his counsel shall stand, and he will do all his pleasure (Isa. 46:10); for who, or what can disannul his purpose? as he has thought, so shall it come to pass, and as he has purposed, so shall it stand (Isa.14: 24, 27); and therefore they shall not perish. Divine predestination to life, and eternal glorification are inseparably connected together; the former infallibly secures the latter, and all the intermediate grace and means heading to it whom he did predestinate, them he also called, and whom he called, them he also justified, and whom he justified, them he also glorified (Rom.8:30).

Fourthly, This truth will receive further strength, from the consideration of the covenant of grace, made with the elect in Christ, before the world began; which is ordered in all things, with all blessings and promises, as well to provide for, and secure the certain perseverance, and eternal salvation of the persons in it, as to promote the glory of God; and it is sure, all the blessings and promises of it, and the salvation in it, are sure to all the seed, to all the covenant-ones; it is a covenant of peace, that can never be removed; sooner may rocks, hills, and mountains be removed than that: it has the oath of God annexed to it, and the faithfulness of God is engaged to fulfil it; who says (Ps. 89:33-35), I will not suffer my faithfulness to fail, my covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing that is gone out of my lips; once have I sworn by my holiness that I will not lie unto David. Which covenant does not relate wholly to David and his family, literally understood, but to our Lord Jesus Christ, the son and antitype of David, and who is sometimes called David himself; this is he, whom the Lord found in his infinite wisdom to be a proper Saviour of lost sinners; this is the mighty one, on whom he laid the help of his people; this is he, whom he chose out from among them, and anointed to be, and invested with the office of, the Mediator, to whom he promised all help and assistance as man; this is his first-born, he has made higher than the kings of the earth, and whose spiritual seed and offspring shall endure for ever; all which can never be said of David and his family, in a literal sense. Nor was this covenant a conditional one; there is no condition either implied or expressed, on the failure of which God failed David, altered the thing that had gone out of his mouth, and broke the covenant of his servant; all which is without truth affirmed (S. T., p. 6): sooner may the covenant with day and night be broken than this covenant with David. Indeed, in the latter part of the psalm, some objections are made to the everlasting love of God to his Son, to the immutability of his covenant and the certain performance of it, taken from the sufferings and death of Christ, and his continuance under the power of the grave; when the faith and hope of his people were almost sunk and gone, see Luke 24:21, and when it seemed to them, being under the prevalence of unbelief, that the covenant made with Christ was made void: but shall the unbelief of men make the faith of God of none effect? whom shall we believe, God that says, my covenant will I not break; or his people in unbelieving frames, saying, Thou hast made void the covenant of thy servant? not the latter, but the former. Besides, these persons whom the Psalmist represents, emerged out of their temptation, darkness, and unbelief, when they saw the Lord risen from the dead, and triumphing over death, and the powers of darkness, having obtained eternal redemption for them; wherefore the psalm is closed with expressions of joy and thankfulness; blessed be the Lord for ever more, amen, and amen. Since therefore the covenant of grace can never be broken and made void, those who are interested in it can never perish everlastingly; sooner may the heavens above be measured, and the foundations of the earth be searched, than that all, or any of the spiritual seed of Israel, and of the antitypical David be cast off so as to perish, and be lost eternally (Jer. 31:35-37; 33:20-21).

Fifthly, This may be further concluded from the special and particular promises made in this covenant, and which stand on divine record, relating to the perseverance of the saints; and these are so many, that to name them all, would be to transcribe a great part of the Scriptures; as that the Lord will establish and keep his people from evil; will confirm them to the end, and preserve them safe to his kingdom and glory (1 Cor. 1:8; 1 Thess 3:2; 2 Tim. 4:18); that he will uphold them with the right hand of his righteousness, that they shall not be utterly cast down (Isa. 41:10; Ps. 37:23, 24); that the righteous shall hold on their way, and shall grow stronger (Job 17:9); that he will put his fear into their hearts, and they shall never depart from him (Jer. 32:40); with a multitude of others of the same import, which are all yea, and amen, in Christ Jesus and these promises are absolute and unconditional: it is indeed said (S. T., p. 12), that in many the condition is expressed, and in others implied; but let it be named what the condition is, that is either expressed or implied in the above promises: and let the condition be what it will, it will be no difficult thing to prove that it is either elsewhere absolutely promised by the Lord, or undertook by Christ, or will be performed by the Spirit of God, in, and upon the Lord’s people; so that their perseverance is not at all affected with it: That famous promise, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee, applied to New Testament believers, Hebrews 13:5 which, as it is an instance of a promise made to a particular person belonging to all the saints in common, and of one being made to a saint under the Old Testament, Joshua, belonging to those under the New Testament, so is not a conditional one, as is asserted (S. T., p. 22); so far is any condition from being expressly mentioned in it, or along with it, that that which is said to be so, is strongly enforced by this absolute and unconditional promise; and though it is recited to encourage in things temporal, yet it also may be, and is accommodated to things spiritual; and is of use with respect to such things, as appears from the inference deduced from it; so that we may boldly say, the Lord is our helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me; no, nor devils neither: and, if God will never leave his people in time nor eternity, as the phrase takes in both, then they cannot perish everlastingly: now, seeing the promises of God to his people are free, absolute, and unconditional, and he is able to perform them, and his faithfulness is engaged to do it, there is all the reason in the world to believe he will; and, if he will, and does make good these promises to them, it is impossible they should so fall, as to perish everlastingly.

Sixthly, This may be further argued from several acts of God’s grace towards his people, which are of such a nature, as ascertain their sure and everlasting salvation; and, besides his acts of election of them, and making a sure covenant with his Son on their account, before-mentioned, and the putting of them into the hands of his Son, with all grace and glory for them, of which more hereafter, the following ones may be observed:

1. The adoption of them into his family. Predestination to it is according to the good pleasure of God’s will, and does not arise from, or depend upon any merit, motive, or condition, in the adopted; the covenant in which God takes men into this relation is absolute and unconditional; it runs thus, I will be a father to you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters (2 Cor. 6:18): all obstructions are removed, and way is made for the reception of this blessing through the redemption of Christ; the power and privilege of it is a gift of his, and his Spirit bears witness to it, hence called the Spirit of adoption; and such who thus become the children of God, always remain so; they that are of the household of God, are no more strangers and foreigners, they abide in his house and family for ever and are never cast out; if sons, no more servants, but heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ, and shall enjoy the eternal inheritance reserved for them (Eph. 2:19; John 8:35; Gal. 4:7); and, therefore, cannot perish everlastingly. To say as our author does (S. T., pp. 23, 246), that “he who is a child of God today, may be a child of the devil tomorrow,” is a most vile expression, and reflects great dishonor on that manner of love the Father has bestowed on men, that they should be called the sons of God (1 John 3:1) his reason for it is weak and groundless: “That a believer today, may be an unbeliever tomorrow, seeing he may make shipwreck of faith, and so no longer be a child of God;” but what, though a blaspheming heretic may make shipwreck of the doctrine of faith, which is all that can be proved from the instance referred to, does it follow that a true believer can make shipwreck of the grace of faith? no he cannot: besides, adoption does not depend upon faith; it is not faith that makes men the children of God, but is what makes them manifest, or makes them appear to be so; it is the free sovereign grace of God, which puts them into this relation, and keeps them there, and therefore, they shall never perish.

2. The justification of them by the righteousness of Christ. Such who are justified, can never be unjustified, or be removed from the state of justification, in which they are, into a state of condemnation, but always remain righteous persons through the righteousness of Christ, imputed to them; the righteousness by which they are justified is an everlasting one; the sentence of justification passed upon them, can never be reversed by man or devil; if God justifies who can bring a charge of any avail? who or what can condemn? there is no condemnation to them that are in Christ, and are clothed with his righteousness; they are passed into justification of life, and shall never enter into condemnation; they have a right to eternal glory, through the justifying righteousness of Christ, and shall enjoy it; between their justification and glorification there is an inseparable connection: Whom he justified, them he also glorified (Rom. 8:30, 33, 34). Wherefore, those that are righteous in the judgment of God himself, as all such are whom he justifies by the righteousness of Christ, cannot possibly so fall, as to perish everlastingly.

3. The pardon of their sins by the blood of Christ. Those for whom Christ has shed his blood, for whose sins he has made satisfaction by his sacrifice; these God pardons for Christ’s sake; and these he forgives all trespasses; he heals all their diseases, and forgives all their iniquities (Col. 2:13; Ps. 103:3); not one sin of theirs is left unsatisfied for by Christ, or unpardoned by the Lord; and if so, then all the sins they ever fall unto, or are guilty of, are pardoned; and consequently, they never so fall, as to perish everlastingly: for, is it possible for a man to go to hell, and perish eternally, with the pardon of all sins? it is impossible; what should he, what can he perish for, when all his sins are satisfied for and forgiven?

Seventhly, This truth may be proved by the love of Christ to his saints, his care of them, what he has done and does for them, their interest in him, and relation to him.

1. The love of Christ to them. They are the objects of his everlasting love; before the world was, his delights were with these sons of men (Prov. 8:31), and have continued ever since; as his incarnation, sufferings, death, and intercession show. He loves them as his Father loved him (John 15:3); and therefore, his love to them must be very great, permanent and lasting, yea everlasting; and indeed, nothing can separate from it (Rom. 8:35): and therefore, such who are interested in it, can never perish everlastingly; having loved his Own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end (John 13:1). This, the writer I am concerned with (S. T., p. 14), understands of the apostles only, and of Christ’s loving them to the end of his life, and not theirs; to which may be replied, that all the apostles were not his own in a special sense, one of them was a devil, and was the devil’s, and was not the object of Christ’s special love, nor did he love him to the end; and besides, were the apostles the only persons that were his own? had he, and has he no special property in others also? certainly he has; who are equally the objects of his love as they were; and are loved by him, not to the end of his life on earth only, but to the end of their lives, even for ever, to all eternity; which is the sense of the phrase used: for to understand it only of Christ’s life as man on earth, is a most trifling sense; it makes the love of Christ to be only an human affection, and to last no longer than he lived; whereas, Christ loves his not merely as a man, but as a divine person, and the Saviour of men; and loves them as much now he being in heaven, as when on earth; as his advocacy, intercession and preparations for them there show. Moreover, eivj telo,j, which we translate to the end, may be rendered continually, as in Luke 17:5, for ever; in which sense it is used by the Septuagint in Psalm 9:6, 18. and 44:23, and answers to an Hebrew word, which signifies for ever; and so the text in John is rendered by the Ethiopic version, he loved them for ever.

2. Those who are the objects of Christ’s love, are given unto him by the Father, as his portion and inheritance, and to be kept and preserved by him: and will he lose his portion, his jewels, when it is in his power to keep them? He will not; he will keep them as the apple of his eye; they shall be mine, says he, in the day when I make up my jewels, and I will spare them, as a man spareth his only son that serveth him (Mal. 3:17): when they were given to him by his Father, it was with such a charge, with such a declaration of his Will, that of all which he gave him, he should lose nothing but should raise it up again at the last day (John 6:39); which Will he perfectly observed; those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost but the son of perdition (John 17:12). It is indeed said, “the phrase, those that thou gavest me, signifies here (if not in most other places too) the twelve apostles, and them only; and that one of those whom the Father had given him, did not persevere unto the end, but perish everlastingly” (S. T., p. 15); and so is rather against than for the doctrine of perseverance; to which I answer, that what in the passage and throughout the chapter is spoken of the apostles, is not said of them purely as such, but as believers in Christ, and the disciples of him, and so in common belongs to all in that character; and, if such a fallacy can take place, once and again observed by our author, that what spiritual things are said of the Jewish church under the Old Testament, and of the apostles in the New, must be restrained to them, and them only, there will be little left for the saints to build their faith and hope upon: besides, it is a most clear case, that others besides the apostles are meant by this phrase, in that chapter where it is so much used; more are meant by the many the Father had given him, verse 2, to more than the apostles had Christ manifested his Father’s name verse 8, such as are given him by the Father are opposed to the whole world, and distinguished from them; and even all that the Father had are claimed by him as his, by virtue of this gift, and for whom he prays, verses 9, 10, and it is certain, he prayed for more than the apostles; even for all them that should believe in him through their word, verse 20, as for Judas, the son of perdition, it does not appear, though he was an apostle, that he was among those that were given him by the Father; he is distinguished from them in the very passage, and is opposed to them; for, eiv mh>, but, is not exceptive, but adversative; and the sense is, that none of those that were given to Christ in a way of special grace were lost, but the son of perdition, who was not given him in any such way, he was lost; and so is no instance of the apostasy of such who were given to Christ; for of every one of these at the great day, he will say, behold I and the children which God hath given me (Heb. 2:13).

3. These same persons were put into the hands of Christ for safety and preservation, even as early as the everlasting covenant was made with him: yea he loved the people, all his saints are in thy hands (Deut. 33:3): hence they are said to be preserved in Christ Jesus, as the effect of their being sanctified, or set apart by God the Father in election, and previous to their being called effectually by grace (Jude 1); so they were preserved through the fall of Adam, though not from it, and in their nature-state, till called to be saints, where they remain safe and secure; they are set as a seal on his heart, and as a seal on his arm; they are engraven on the palms of his hands, and their walls are continually before him; they are a crown of glory, and a royal diadem in his hand (Cant. 8:6; Isa. 49:16; 62:3), and can never he removed from thence; they are called the sheep of his hand (Ps. 95:7), from whence none can pluck them; I give unto them, says Christ (John 10:28, 29), eternal life; and who or what then can hinder them of it? and they shall never perish; who dare say they may or shall, when Christ says they shall not? neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand; ti,j, not any one, man or devil, nor they themselves; nor is there any condition expressed in these words, or in the context, on which the fulfillment of them depends; hearing Christ’s voice and following him, are not conditions of these promises, as is said (S. T., p. 13); but descriptive of the sheep of Christ in his hand, and are plain marks of their perseverance; which is in the strongest manner insured to them by these words of Christ, and still more confirmed by the following; my Father which gave them me is greater than all, and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hands. I and my Father are one.

4. They that are loved by Christ, given him by his Father, and put into his hands, are redeemed by him, and are the purchase of his blood, and therefore, can never perish; should they, it must be either for want of sufficiency in the price paid for them, or of power in Christ to keep them; neither of which can be said: the price of Christ’s blood is a sufficient and effectual price for them; and he is able to keep them and will: he will never lose the purchase of his blood; should he in any one instance, his death would be so far in vain; nor could it be said, that the pleasure of the Lord has prospered in his hand, or that he sees of the travail of his soul, and is satisfied (Isa. 53:10, 11): but our author says (S. T., p. 23), horresco referens, enough to make a man shudder to read it; “If the oracles of God are true, one who was purchased by the blood of Christ, may go thither, (that is, to hell,) for he that was sanctified by the blood of Christ, was purchased by the blood of Christ, and such an one may nevertheless go to hell:” The assertion is bold and shocking, and stands upon a mistaken sense of the passage in Hebrews 10:29, as has been shewn before, and is without any foundation in the oracles of God.

5. Those whom Christ loves, were given to him, and for whom he died, for them he ever lives to make intercession; in which he is always heard, and therefore they cannot perish: in particular he prays for their perseverance; he prays for them that their faith fail not; that God would keep them through his name, that they might be one; that he would keep them from the evil of the world, and that they might be with him where he is, to behold his glory; and now as he himself says to his Father, I know that thou hearest me always: if he is always heard, and his intercession is prevalent and effectual in all things, for which it is made, then it is impossible that those for whom it is made, should perish everlastingly; and besides, should they, his preparations of mansions of glory for them in his Father’s house would be in vain, John 14:2, 3.

6. There is a close and inseparable union between Christ and the saints which effectually secures them from a final and total falling away, or so as to perish everlastingly; he is the head, and they his body; they are members of his body; they are the fulness of him that filleth all in all (Eph. 1:23); and, if any one member, even the least, should perish, they could not be said to be his fulness: nay, they that are joined to the Lord, are not only one body, but one spirit, with him; they have their life from him; it is hid with him, and secured in him; because he lives, they shall live also; their life is bound up in the bundle of life with his (1 Cor. 6:17; Gal. 3:3; John 14:13; 1 Sam. 25:20): so, that as Luther said, si nos ruimus, ruit & Christus, “if we fall, Christ must fall too.” They are laid on a foundation that is sure: they are built on a rock, against which, the gates of hell can never prevail; and from whence, all the winds and waves and floods of their own corruptions, Satan’s temptations, and the world’s persecutions can never remove them (Matt. 16:18; 7:24, 25).

Eighthly, The doctrine of the saints final perseverance, may be concluded from the Spirit’s work of grace upon their hearts, from his habitation in them; and from his being the earnest of their inheritance, and the sealer of them unto the day of redemption.

1. From his work of grace upon their hearts. The grace that is wrought in them by him, is a seed which remaineth, and therefore, the man in whom it is, cannot sin, that is, the sin unto death, or so as to perish everlastingly; the seed he is born of is incorruptible, immortal, and never dies; the grace which is put into him, is a well of water springing up into everlasting life; eternal life is the certain fruit and effect of it; grace and glory are inseparable things; to whomsoever God gives grace he gives glory (1 John 3:9; 1 Pet. 1:23; John 4:14; Ps. 84:11). The several graces of the Spirit are abiding ones, particularly faith, hope, and love; and now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three (1 Cor. 13:13) love, though the first ardour of it, may be abated and first-love may be left, it cannot be lost; it may wax cold, yet cannot be extinguished; many waters cannot quench it; nothing can separate from the love of Christ (Cant. 8:7; Rom. 8:35); as not from Christ’s love to his people, so neither from theirs to him, so that it is entirely gone: No, in the worst of times, under whatsoever darkness, desertion, temptation or affliction, a believer is, still Christ is the object of his love; as the cases of the church in Canticles (Cant. 3:1-3; John 21:17), and of Peter shew: hope is an anchor sure and stedfast, being cast on Christ the foundation, from whence it can never be removed (Heb.6:19); and faith is that race, which is much more precious than gold that perisheth (1 Pet. 1:7); and what gives it its superior excellency is, because it does not perish itself: Christ is the author and finisher of it; he prays for it that it fail not (Heb. 12:27; Luke 22:32), and performs the work of it with power: salvation is annexed to it, and inseparably connected within it; he that believeth shall be saved (Mark 16:16); nay it is said, that such an one hath everlasting life; is entered upon it, does in some sense possess it, has the foretaste, earnest, and pledge of it; and that he is passed from death to life; and shall not come unto condemnation (John 5:24); and therefore, cannot perish everlastingly. But our author says (S. T., p. 9), the plain meaning is, he that believeth, if he continue in the faith, shall be saved. But this is an interlineation of his; and to interline a record is felony; and what crime must that man be guilty of that interlines the record of heaven, the great charter of our salvation, the will and testament of our heavenly Father, confirmed by Christ the testator? Besides, he that believes shall continue in the faith; there is no if or doubt to be made of it; he is of them that believe, or goes on believing, to the saving of the soul, till he receives the end of his faith, even the salvation of his soul (Heb. 10:39; 1 Pet. 1:9); or otherwise it could only be said he may be saved: and moreover the phrase, he shall be saved, ascertains his continuance in faith, as well as his salvation. But then it is urged (S. T., pp. 8, 9), that “by all the rules of speech,” the other part of the sentence must mean “he that does not believe at this moment, shall certainly and inevitably be damned.” To which I reply, that there is a great difference between faith and unbelief, or between a believer and an unbeliever at the present moment; the one is certainly final, the other may not be final; he that truly believes this moment goes on to believe, and shall certainly be saved: he that does not believe this moment may believe hereafter, and so not he damned: or take the answer in other words, more in the language of Scripture, he that believeth hath everlasting life, now, this moment; and according to the tenor of the Gospel, he shall be certainly and inevitably saved: he that believeth not, according to the tenor of the law, shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him (John 3:36), even now, this moment; and he shall be certainly and inevitably damned, unless God of his grace bestows faith on him; and then he is openly entitled to what is in the other declaration, he that believeth shall be saved. Upon which every individual believer may thus argue, whoever believes shall be saved; I believe, and therefore I shall be saved, and not perish everlastingly.

2. In whomsoever the Spirit of God works the good work of grace, in them he takes up his residence; they are his temples in whom he dwells, and in these he dwells, for ever: I will pray the Father, says Christ (John 14:16), and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; and if he abides with them for ever, then they cannot everlastingly perish; he is that anointing they have received of Christ, which abideth in them (1 John 2:27), from whence they are denominated Christians, and by which they continue such; and it is by virtue of his inhabitation and abiding in them, that their mortal bodies shall be quickened and raised, and be brought into a state of immortality and bliss (Rom. 8:11).

3. The Spirit of God not only continues in the hearts of his people, but he continues there as an earnest of their inheritance, which ensures it to them, for as sure as they have the earnest, and which they have from God himself, and is no other than the Lord the Spirit, so sure shall they have the whole; and if an earnest makes things sure and certain among men, it must needs do so between God and his people. Moreover, the Spirit is the sealer of them until the day the day of redemption (Eph. 1:13, 14; 4:30); until their bodies are redeemed from the dust of death, from mortality and the graves, he has set his seal and mark upon them, which can never be broken or erased; and assures them of their salvation, and bears witness to their spirits, that they are the children of God, and so heirs of him, and joint-heirs with Christ; but of what avail would this earnest, seal and witness be, if they should eternally perish? But from hence it may be most assuredly gathered that they never shall.

Ninthly, From all that has been said, it clearly appears, that the glory of all the three persons in the Godhead, Father, Son, and Spirit, is concerned in this affair, and they must lose it, if this doctrine is not true; or if the saints should everlastingly perish, where would be the Father’s glory in election, in the covenant of grace, and in the mission of his Son? Where would he the glory of the Son of God in the redemption of his people, in his sacrifice and satisfaction, and in his intercession for them? And where would be the glory of the divine Spirit in the sanctification and sealing of them, if after all this they perish everlastingly? For all depends upon their final perseverance and complete salvation. And therefore we may be assured, that since the saints are held with this threefold cord, which can never be broken, their final perseverance is certain, and their everlasting salvation sure.

Tenthly, The contrary doctrine takes away the foundation of a believer’s joy and comfort; it makes the love of God changeable: the covenant of grace failable; the redemption and satisfaction of Christ insufficient; and the work and graces of the Spirit loseable; and so, must consequently fill the minds of the children of God with great doubts, fears and distresses, if not despair; since their state and condition is so very precarious: what comfort can a believer take in his present circumstances, if they are such as by a single act of sin, to which he is liable every moment, he may be removed from a state of grace into a state of condemnation, and, not withstanding all the favors bestowed on him, and promises made unto him, and grace given him, he may perish everlastingly? but this writer I have been considering tells us (S. T., pp. 19, 20), that his comfort is not affected hereby; it does not stand upon this, but upon his present knowledge, sight, faith, frames, and a good conversation; and bids men go and find a more solid joy, a more blissful comfort on this side heaven. But blessed be God, we have a better foundation for joy and comfort than all this; the true believer, though he lives by faith, he does not live upon it; he lives by it as Esau did by his sword (Gen. 27:40); he did not live upon it, that would have been hard living indeed, but he lived upon what it brought him: so a believer lives not on his faith, but upon Christ, and the grace of Christ, faith brings nigh unto him. He has better things than uncertain precarious frames to live upon and receive his comforts from; even the unchangeable love of God; the unalterable covenant of grace; the faithfulness of God, who though we believe not, yet he abides faithful (2 Tim. 2:13); absolute and unconditional promises; Jesus Christ the same today, yesterday, and for ever; his precious blood, perfect righteousness, atoning sacrifice, and that fullness of grace which is in him.

To conclude: If a man may be confident of any one thing in this world, he may be confident of this very thing, that in whomsoever, whether in himself, or in any other, God hath begun a good work, he will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ (Phil. 1:9); and that all the true Israel of God shall be saved in the Lord with an everlasting salvation (Isa. 45:17); and that not one of them shall eternally perish.

 

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From the diary of Cotton Mather February 1684

When I have been sitting in a Room full of People, at a Funeral, where they take not much Liberty for Talk, and where yett much Time is most unreasonably lost, I have usually sett my Witts a work, to contrive agreeable Benedictions, for each Person in the Company.

In passing along the Street, I have sell myself to bless thousands of persons, who never knew that I did it; with secret Wishes, after this manner sent unto Heaven for them. Upon the sight of:

A tall Man: Lord, give that Man, High Attainments in Christianity; lett him fear God, above many.

Children at Play: Lord, lett not these Children always forgett the Work, which they came into the World upon.

A Very little Man: Lord, bestow great Blessings upon that Man, and above all, thy Christ, the greatest of Blessings.

A Man carrying a Burden: Lord, help this Man, to carry a burdened Soul, unto his Lord-Redeemer.

A Man on Horseback: Lord, thy Creatures do serve that man; help him to serve his Maker.

Young People: Lord, help these Persons to remember their Creator in the Dayes of their Youth.

Young Gentlewomen: Lord, make `em wise Virgins, as the polish’d Stones of thy Temple.

A Shop-keeper, busy in the Shop: Lord, lett not the World, cause that Person to neglect the one thing that is needful.

A Man, who going by mee took no Notice of mee: Lord help that Man, to take a due Notice of the Lord Jesus Christ, I pray thee.

Link

From the Institutes of the Christian Religion

Our opponents take great pains to heap up Scriptural passages: and they do this so unremittingly that, although they cannot prevail, in the numbers at least they can bear us down. But as in battle, when it comes to a hand-to- hand encounter an unwarlike multitude, however much pomp and ostentation it may display, is at once routed by a few blows and compelled to flee, so for us it will be very easy to disperse these adversaries with their host. All the passages that they misuse against us, when they have been sorted out into their classes, group themselves under a very few main headings. Hence one answer will suffice for several; it will not be necessary to dispose of each one individually.

They set chief stock by God’s precepts. These they consider to be so accommodated to our capacities that we are of necessity able to fulfill all their demonstrable requirements. Consequently, they run through the individual precepts, and from them take the measure of our strength. Either God is mocking us (they say) when he enjoins holiness, piety, obedience, chastity, love, gentleness; when he forbids uncleanness, idolatry, immodesty, anger, robbery, pride, and the like; or he requires only what is within our power.

Now we can divide into three classes almost all the precepts that they heap up. Some require man first to turn toward God; others simply speak of observing the law; others bid man to persevere in God’s grace once it has been received. We shall discuss them all in general, then we shall get down to the three classes themselves.

A long time ago it became the common practice to measure man’s capacities by the precepts of God’s law, and this has some pretense of truth. But it arose out of the crassest ignorance of the law. For, those who deem it a terrible crime to say that it is impossible to observe the law press upon us as what is evidently their strongest reason that otherwise the law was given without purpose. Indeed, they speak as if Paul had nowhere spoken of the law. What then, I ask, do these assertions mean: “The law was put forward because of transgressions” [Galatians 3:19, cf. Vg.]; “Through the law comes knowledge of sin” [Romans 3:20]; the law engenders sin [cf. Romans 7:7-8]; “Law slipped in to increase the trespass” [Romans 5:20, cf. Vg.]? Was the law to be limited to our powers so as not to be given in vain? Rather, it was put far above us, to show clearly our own weakness! Surely, according to Paul’s definition of the law, its purpose and fulfillment is love [cf. 1 Timothy 1:5]. And yet when Paul prays for the hearts of the Thessalonians to abound with it [1 Thessalonians 3:12] he fully admits that the law sounds in our ears without effect unless God inspires in our hearts the whole sum of the law [cf. Matthew 22:37-40].

THE LAW ITSELF POINTS OUR WAY TO GRACE

Of course, if Scripture taught nothing else than that the law is a rule of life to which we ought to direct our efforts, I, too, would yield to their opinion without delay. But since it faithfully and clearly explains to us the manifold use of the law, it behooves us rather to consider from that interpretation what the law can do in man. With reference to the present question, as soon as the law prescribes what we are to do, it teaches that the power to obey comes from God’s goodness. It thus summons us to prayers by which we may implore that this power be given us. If there were only a command and no promise, our strength would have to be tested whether it is sufficient to respond to the command. But since with the command are at once connected promises that proclaim not only that our support, but our whole virtue as well, rests in the help of divine grace, they more than sufficiently demonstrate how utterly inept, not to say unequal, we are to observe the law. For this reason, let us no longer press this proportion between our strength and the precepts of the law, as if the Lord had applied the rule of righteousness, which he was to give in the law, according to the measure of our feebleness. We who in every respect so greatly need his grace must all the more reckon from the promises how ill-prepared we are.

But who will believe it plausible (they say) that the Lord intended his law for stocks and stones? No one is trying to argue thus. For the wicked are not rocks or stumps when they are taught through the law that their lusts are opposed to God and they become guilty on their own admission; nor are believers stocks and stones when they are warned of their own weakness and take refuge in grace. On this point these profound statements of Augustine are pertinent: “God bids us do what we cannot, that we may know what we ought to seek from him.” “The usefulness of the precepts is great if free will is so esteemed that God’s grace may be the more honored.” “Faith achieves what the law commands.” “Indeed, it is for this reason the law commands, that faith may achieve what had been commanded through the law. Indeed, God requires faith itself of us; yet he does not find something to require unless he has given something to find.” Again, “Let God give what he commands, and command what he will.”

THE SEVERAL KINDS OF THE COMMANDMENTS CLEARLY SHOW THAT WITHOUT GRACE WE CAN DO NOTHING

This will be more clearly seen in reviewing the three classes of precepts that we have touched on above. (1) Oftentimes both in the Law and in the Prophets the Lord commands us to be converted to him [Joel 2:12; Ezekiel 18:30-32; Hosea 14:2 f.]. On the other hand, the prophet answers: “Convert me, O Lord, and I will be converted… for after thou didst convert me I repented,” etc. [Jeremiah 31:18-19, Vg.]. He bids us circumcise the foreskin of our heart [Deuteronomy 10:16; cf. Jeremiah 4:4]. But through Moses he declares that this circumcision is done by His own hand [Deuteronomy 30:6]. In some places he requires newness of heart [Ezekiel 18:31], but elsewhere he testifies that it is given by him [Ezekiel 11:19; 36:26]. “But what God promises,” as Augustine says, “we ourselves do not do through choice or nature; but he himself does through grace.” This observation he lists in fifth place among the rules of Tychonius: we must distinguish carefully between the law and the promises, or between the commandments and grace. Now away with those who infer from the precepts that man is perhaps capable of obedience, in order to destroy God’s grace through which the commandments themselves are fulfilled. (2) The precepts of the second kind are simple: by them we are bidden to honor God, to serve his will and cleave to it, to observe his decrees, and to follow his teaching. But there are countless passages that bear witness that whatever righteousness, holiness, piety, and purity we can have are gifts of God. (3) Of the third type is the exhortation of Paul and Barnabas to believers “to remain under God’s grace,” referred to by Luke [Acts 13:43]. But Paul also in another place teaches the source from which that virtue of constancy is to be sought. “It remains, brethren,” he says, “for you to be strong in the Lord.” [Ephesians 6:10 p.] Elsewhere he forbids us to “grieve the Spirit of God in whom we were sealed for the day of our redemption” [Ephesians 4:30 p.]. Since men cannot fulfill what is there required, Paul asks of the Lord in behalf of the Thessalonians to “render them worthy of his holy calling and to fulfill every good resolve of his goodness and work of faith in them” [2 Thessalonians 1:11 p.]. In the same way Paul, dealing in the second letter to the Corinthians with alms, often commends their good and devout will [cf. 2 Corinthians 8:11]. Yet a little later he gives thanks to God, “who has put in the heart of Titus to receive exhortation” [2 Corinthians 8:16 p.]. If Titus could not even make use of his mouth to exhort others except in so far as God prompted it, how could others be willing to act unless God himself directed their hearts?

THE WORK OF CONVERSION IS NOT DIVIDED BETWEEN GOD AND MAN

The craftier of our opponents quibble over all these testimonies, holding that nothing hinders us from bringing all our strength to bear while God supports our weak efforts. They also bring forward passages from the Prophets in which the carrying out of our conversion seems to be divided equally between God and ourselves. “Be converted to me and I shall be converted to you.” [Zechariah 1:3.] What assistance the Lord provides us has been demonstrated above, and there is no need to repeat it here. I wish this one thing at least to be conceded to me: it is pointless to require in us the capacity to fulfill the law, just because the Lord demands our obedience to it, when it is clear that for the fulfillment of all God’s commands the grace of the Lawgiver is both necessary and is promised to us.

Hence it is evident that at least more is required of us than we can pay. And that statement of Jeremiah cannot be refuted by any cavils: that the covenant of God made with the ancient people was invalid because it was only of the letter; moreover, that it is not otherwise established than when the Spirit enters into it to dispose their hearts to obedience [Jeremiah 31:32-33]. Nor does this sentence lend support to their error: “Be converted to me and I shall be converted to you” [Zechariah 1:3]. For God’s conversion there signifies not that by which he renews our hearts to repentance, but that by which he testifies through our material prosperity that he is kindly and well disposed toward us, just as by adverse circumstances he sometimes indicates his displeasure toward us. Since, therefore, the people, harassed by many sorts of miseries and calamities, complain that God is turned away from them, he replies that they will not lack his lovingkindness if they return to an upright life and to himself, who is the pattern of righteousness. Therefore they wrongly twist this passage when they infer from it that the work of conversion seems to be shared between God and men. We have touched this matter the more briefly because its proper place will be under the discussion of the law.

The following article is from the appendix to Owen’s work, “A brief Declaration and Vindication of The Doctrine of the Trinity and also of The Person and Satisfaction of Christ accomodated to the capacity and use of such as may be in danger to be seduced and the establishment of the truth.”

From the Preface to the Entire Work…

[I]n reference unto the satisfaction of Christ, and the imputation of his righteousness thereon unto our justification, [those who have long harbored abominations] I have not much to say as to the time past. In general, the doctrine wherein they boast, being first brought forth in a rude misshapen manner by the Pelagian heretics, was afterward improved by one Abelardus, a sophistical scholar in France; but owes its principal form and poison unto the endeavours of Faustus Socinus, and those who have followed him in his subtle attempt to corrupt the whole doctrine of the gospel. Of these men are those amongst us who at this day so busily dispute and write about the Trinity, the Deity of Christ, and his satisfaction — the followers and disciples. And it is much more from their masters, who were some of them men learned, diligent, and subtle, than from themselves, that they are judged to be of any great consideration. For I can truly say, that, upon the sedate examination of all that I could ever yet hear or get a sight of, either spoken or written by them, — that is, any amongst us, — I never yet observed an undertaking of so great importance managed with a greater evidence of incompetency and inability, to give any tolerable countenance unto it. If any of them shall for the future attempt to give any new countenance or props to their tottering errors, it will doubtless be attended unto by some of those many who cannot but know that it is incumbent on them “to contend earnestly for the faith once delivered unto the saints.” This present brief endeavour is only to assist and direct those who are less exercised in the ways of managing controversies in religion, that they may have a brief comprehension of the truths opposed, with the firm foundations whereon they are built, and be in a readiness to shield their faith both against the fiery darts of Satan, and secure their minds against the “cunning sleight of men, who lie in wait to deceive.”

Introduction

The preceding discourse [on the Trinity], as has been declared, was written for the use of ordinary Christians, or such as might be in danger to be seduced, or any way entangled in their minds, by the late attempts against the truths pleaded for: for those to whom the dispensation of the gospel is committed, are “debtors both to the Greeks and to the Barbarians; both to the wise and to the unwise,” Rom. 1: 14. It was therefore thought meet to insist only on things necessary, and such as their faith is immediately concerned in; and not to immix therewithal any such arguments or considerations as might not, by reason of the terms wherein they are expressed, be obvious to their capacity and understanding. Unto plainness and perspicuity, brevity was also required, by such as judged this work necessary. That design, we hope, is answered, and now discharged in some useful measure. But yet, because many of our arguments on the head of the satisfaction of Christ depend upon the genuine signification and notion of the words and terms wherein the doctrine of it is delivered, – which, for the reasons before mentioned, could not conveniently be discussed in the foregoing discourse, – I shall here, in some few instances, give an account of what further confirmation the truth might receive by a due explanation of them. And I shall mention here but few of them, because a large dissertation concerning them all is intended in another way.

First. For the term of satisfaction itself, it is granted that in this matter it is not found in the Scripture, – that is, it is not so (here follows transcribed Greek:) [Greek: retoos], or syllabically, – but it is [Greek: kata to pragma anantirretoos]; the thing itself intended is asserted in it, beyond all modest contradiction. Neither, indeed, is there in the Hebrew language any word that does adequately answer unto it; no, nor yet in the Greek. As it is used in this cause, [Greek: engue], which is properly “sponsio,” or “fide-jussio,” in its actual discharge, makes the nearest approach unto it: [Greek: hikanon poiein] is used to the same purpose. But there are words and phrases, both in the Old Testament and in the New, that are equipollent unto it, and express the matter or thing intended by it: as in the Old are, (here follows transcribed Hebrew:) [Hebrew: pidjon padah] [Ps. 49: 9], and [Hebrew: kofer] This last word we render “satisfaction,” Numb. 35: 32, 33, where God denies that any compensation, sacred or civil, shall be received to free a murderer from the punishment due unto him; which properly expresses what we intend: “Thou shalt admit of no satisfaction for the life of a murderer.”

In the New Testament: [Greek: lutron, antilutron, apolutroosis, time, hilasmos] and the verbs, [Greek: lutroun, apolutroun, exagapozein, hilaskesthai], are of the same importance, and some of them accommodated to express the thing intended, beyond that which has obtained in vulgar use. For that which we intended hereby is, the voluntary obedience unto death, and the passion or suffering, of our Lord Jesus Christ, God and man, whereby and wherein he offered himself through the eternal Spirit, for a propitiatory sacrifice, that he might fulfil the law, or answer all its universal postulate; and as our sponsor, undertaking our cause, when we were under the sentence of condemnation, underwent the punishment due to us from the justice of God, being transferred on him; whereby having made a perfect and absolute propitiation or atonement for our sins, he procured for us deliverance from death and the curse, and a right unto life everlasting. Now, this is more properly expressed by some of the words before mentioned than by that of satisfaction; which yet, nevertheless, as usually explained, is comprehensive, and no way unsuited to the matter intended by it.

In general, men by this word understand either “reparationem offensae” or “solutionem debiti,” – either “reparation made for offense given unto any,” or “the payment of a debt.”Debitum” is either “criminale” or “pecuniarium;” that is, either the obnoxiousness of a man to punishment for crimes or the guilt of them, in answer to that justice and law which he is necessarily liable and subject unto; or unto a payment or compensation by and of money, or what is valued by it; – which last consideration, neither in itself nor in any seasonings from an analogy unto it, can in this matter have any proper place. Satisfaction is the effect of the doing or suffering what is required for the answering of his charge against faults or sins, who has right, authority, and power to require, exact, and inflict punishment for them. Some of the schoolmen define it by “Voluntaria redditio aequivalentis indebiti;” of which more elsewhere. The true meaning of, “to satisfy, or make satisfaction,” is “tantum facere aut pati, quantum quantum satis sit juste irato ad vindictam.” This satisfaction is impleaded as inconsistent with free remission of sins, – how causelessly we have seen. It is so far from it, that it is necessary to make way for it, in case of a righteous law transgressed, and the public order of the universal Governor and government of all disturbed. And this God directs unto, Lev. 4: 31, “The priest shall make an atonement for him, and it shall be forgiven him.” This atonement was a legal satisfaction, and it is by God himself premised to remission or pardon. And Paul prays Philemon to forgive Onesimus, though he took upon himself to make satisfaction for all the wrong or damage that he had sustained, Epist. verses 18, 19. And when God was displeased with the friends of Job, he prescribes a way to them, or what they shall do, and what they shall get done for them, that they might be accepted and pardoned, Job 42: 7, 8, “The LORD said unto Eliphaz, My wrath is kindled against thee, and against thy two friends: therefore take unto you now seven bullocks and seven rams, and go to my servant Job, and offer up for yourselves a burnt-offering; and my servant Job shall pray for you: for him will I accept: lest I deal with you after your folly.” He plainly enjoins an atonement, that he might freely pardon them. And both these, – namely, satisfaction and pardon, with their order and consistency, – were solemnly represented by the great institution of the sacrifice of the scapegoat. For after all the sins of the people were put upon him, or the punishment of them transferred unto him in a type and representation, with “Quod in ejus caput sit,” the formal reason of all sacrifices propitiatory, he was sent away with them; denoting the oblation or forgiveness of sin, after a translation made of its punishment, Lev. 16: 21, 22. And whereas it is not expressly said that that goat suffered, or was slain, but was either [Hebrew: azazel] “hircus,” [Greek: apopompaios], “a goat sent away,” or was sent to a rock called Azazel, in the wilderness, as Vatablus so and Oleaster, with some others, think (which is not probable, seeing, though it might then be done whilst the people were in the wilderness of Sinai, yet could not, by reason of its distance, when the people were settled in Canaan, be annually observed), it was from the poverty of the types, whereof no one could fully represent that grace which it had particular respect unto. What, therefore, was wanting in that goat was supplied in the other, which was slain as a sin-offering, verses 15, 16. Neither does it follow, that, on the supposition of the satisfaction pleaded for, the freedom, pardon, or acquitment of the person originally guilty and liable to punishment must immediately and ” ipso facto” ensue. It is not of the nature of every solution or satisfaction, that deliverance must “ipso facto” follow. And the reason of it is, because this satisfaction, by a succedaneous substitution of one to undergo punishment for another, must be founded in a voluntary compact and agreement. For there is required unto it a relaxation of the law, though not as unto the punishment to be inflicted, yet as unto the person to be punished. And it is otherwise in personal guilt than in pecuniary debts. In these, the debt itself is solely intended, the person only obliged with reference whereunto. In the other, the person is firstly and principally under the obligation. And therefore, when a pecuniary debt is paid, by whomsoever it be paid, the obligation of the person himself unto payment ceases “ipso facto.” But in things criminal, the guilty person himself being firstly, immediately, and intentionally under the obligation unto punishment, when there is introduced by compact a vicarious solution, in the substitution of another to suffer, though he suffer the same absolutely which those should have done for whom he suffers, yet, because of the acceptation of his person to suffer, which might have been refused, and could not be admitted without some relaxation of the law, deliverance of the guilty persons cannot ensue “ipso facto,” but by the intervention of the terms fixed on in the covenant or agreement for an admittance of the substitution.

It appears, from what has been spoken, that, in this matter of satisfaction, God is not considered as a creditor, and sin as a debt; and the law as an obligation to the payment of that debt, and the Lord Christ as paying it; – though these notions may have been used by some for the illustration of the whole matter, and that not without countenance from sundry expressions in the Scripture to the same purpose. But God is considered as the infinitely holy and righteous author of the law, and supreme governor of all mankind, according to the tenor and sanction of it. Man is considered as a sinner, a transgressor of that law, and thereby obnoxious and liable to the punishment constituted in it and by it, – answerably unto the justice and holiness of its author. The substitution of Christ was merely voluntary on the part of God, and of himself, undertaking to be a sponsor, to answer for the sins of men by undergoing the punishment due unto them. To this end there was a relaxation of the law as to the persons that were to suffer, though not as to what was to be suffered. Without the former, the substitution mentioned could not have been admitted; and on supposition of the latter, the suffering of Christ could not have had the nature of punishment, properly so called: for punishment relates to the justice and righteousness in government of him that exacts it and inflicts it; and this the justice of God does not but by the law. Nor could the law be any way satisfied or fulfilled by the suffering of Christ, if, antecedently thereunto, its obligation, or power of obliging unto the penalty constituted in its sanction unto sin, was relaxed, dissolved, or dispensed withal. Nor was it agreeable to justice, nor would the nature of the things themselves admit of it, that another punishment should be inflicted on Christ than what we had deserved; nor could our sin be the impulsive cause of his death; nor could we have had any benefit thereby. And this may suffice to be added unto what was spoken before as to the nature of satisfaction, so far as the brevity of the discourse whereunto we are confined will bear, or the use whereunto it is designed does require.

Secondly. The nature of the doctrine contended for being declared and cleared, we may, in one or two instances, manifest how evidently it is revealed, and how fully it may be confirmed or vindicated. It is, then, in the Scripture declared, that “Christ died for us,” that he “died for our sins;” and that we are thereby delivered. This is the foundation of Christian religion as such. Without the faith and acknowledgment of it, we are not Christians. Neither is it, in these general terms, at all denied by the Socinians. It remains, therefore, that we consider, – 1. How this is revealed and affirmed in the Scripture; and, 2. What is the true meaning of the expressions: and propositions wherein it is revealed and affirmed; – for in them, as in sundry others, we affirm that the satisfaction pleaded for is contained.

1. Christ is said to die, to give himself, to be delivered, [Greek: huper hemoon], etc., for us, for his sheep, for the life of the world, for sinners, John 6: 51, 10: 15; Rom. 5: 6; 2 Cor. 5: 14, 15; Gal. 2: 20; Heb. 2: 9. Moreover, he is said to die [Greek: huper hamartioon], for sins, 1 Cor. 15: 3; Gal. 1: 4. The end whereof, everywhere expressed in the gospel, is, that we might be freed, delivered, and saved. These things, as was said, are agreed unto and acknowledged.

2. The meaning and importance, we say, of these expressions is, that Christ died in our room, place, or stead, undergoing the death or punishment which we should have undergone in the way and manner before declared. And this is the satisfaction we plead for. It remains, therefore, that from the Scripture, the nature of the things treated of, the proper signification and constant use of the expressions mentioned, the exemplification of them in the customs and usages of the nations of the world, we do evince and manifest that what we have laid down is the true and proper sense of the words wherein this revelation of Christ’s dying for us is expressed; so that they who deny Christ to have died for us in this sense do indeed deny that he properly died for us at all, – whatever benefits they grant that by his death we may obtain.

First. We may consider the use of this expression in the Scripture either indefinitely or in particular instances.

Only we must take this along with us, that dying for sins and transgressions, being added unto dying for sinners or persons, makes the substitution of one in the room and stead of another more evident than when the dying of one for another only is mentioned. For whereas all predicates are regulated by their subjects, and it is ridiculous to say that one dies in the stead of sins, the meaning can be no other but the bearing or answering of the sins of the sinner in whose stead any one dies. And this is, in the Scripture, declared to be the sense of that expression, as we shall see afterward. Let us, therefore, consider some instances: –

John 11: 50, The words of Caiaphas’ counsel are, [Greek: Sumferei hemin, hina heis anthroopos apothanei huper tou laou, kai me holon to ethnos apoletai] – “It is expedient for us, that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not:” which is expressed again, chap. 18: 14, [Greek: apolesthai huper tou laou], “perish for the people.” Caiaphas feared that if Christ were spared, the people would be destroyed by the Romans. The way to free them, he thought, was by the destruction of Christ; him, therefore, he devoted to death, in lieu of the people. As he, – “Unum pro multi dabitur caput;” – “One head shall be given for many.” Not unlike the speech of Otho the emperor in Xiphilin, when he slew himself to preserve his army; for when they would have persuaded him to renew the war after the defeat of some of his forces, and offered to lay down their lives to secure him, he replied, that he would not, adding this reason, [Greek: Polu gar pou kai kreitton, kai dikaioteron estin, hena huper pantoon e pollous huper henos apolethai] – “It is far better, and more just, that one should perish or die for all, than that many should perish for one;” that is, one in the stead of many, that they may go free; or as another speaks, – “[Greek: Exon pro pahtoon mian huperdounai thanein]” – Eurip. Frag. Erec. “Let one be given up to die in the stead of all.”

John 13: 37, [Greek: ten psuchen mou huper sou thesoo]. They are the words of St. Peter unto Christ, “I will lay down my life for thee;” – “To free thee, I will expose my own head to danger, my life to death, – that thou mayest live, and I die.” It is plain that he intended the same thing with the celebrated [Greek: antipsuchoi] of old, who exposed their own lives [Greek: psuchen anti psuches] for one another. Such were Damon and Pythias, Orestes and Pylades, Nisus and Euryalus. Whence is that saying of Seneca, “Succurram perituro, set ut ipse non peream; nisi si futures era magni hominis, aut magnae rei merces;” – “I will relieve or succour one that is ready to perish; yet so as that I perish not myself, – unless thereby I be taken in lieu of some great man, or great matter;” – “For a great man, a man of great worth and usefulness, I could perish or die in his stead, that he might live and go free.”

We have a great example, also, of the importance of this expression in these words of David concerning Absalom, 2 Sam. 18:33, [Hebrew: mi-yiten muti ani tachteicha] – “Who will grant me to die, I for thee,” or in thy stead, “my son Absalom?” [Literal rendering of the Hebrew.] It was never doubted but that David wished that he had died in the stead of his son, and to have undergone the death which he did, to have preserved him alive. As to the same purpose, though in another sense, Mezentius in Virgil expresses himself, when his son Lausus, interposing between him and danger in battle, was slain Aeneas: – “Tantane me tenuit vivendi, nate, voluptas, Ut pro me hostile paterer succedere dextrae Quem genui? tuane haec genitor per vulnera servor, Morte tua vivens?” – Aen. 10. 846. “Hast thou, O son, fallen under the enemies’ hand in my stead? Am I saved by thy wounds? Do I live by thy death?”

And the word [Hebrew: tachat], used by David, does signify, when applied unto persons, either a succession or a substitution; still the coming of one into the place and room of another. When one succeeded to another in government, it is expressed by that word, 2 Sam. 10: 1; 1 Kings 1: 35, 19: 16. In other cases it denotes a substitution. So Jehu tells his guard, that if any one of them let any of Baal’s priests escape, [Hebrew: nafsho tachat nafsho] – his life should go in the stead of the life that he had suffered to escape. And this answers unto [Greek: anti] in the Greek; which is also used in this matter, and ever denotes either equality, contrariety, or substitution. The two former senses can here have no place; the latter alone has. So it is said, that Archelaus reigned [Greek: anti Herodou tou patros outou], Matt. 2: 22, – “in the room” or stead “of his father Herod.” So [Greek: ofthalmos anti ofthalmou, hodous anti hodontos], Matt. 5: 38, is “an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.” And this word also is used in expressing the death of Christ for us. He came [Greek: dounai ten psuchen hautou lutron anti polloon}, Matt. 20: 28, – “to give his life a ransom for many;” that is, in their stead to die. So the words are used again, Mark 10: 45. And both these notes of a succedaneous substitution are joined together, 1 Tim. 2: 6, [Greek: Ho dous heauton antilutron huper pantoon]. And this the Greeks call [Greek: tes psuchen priasthai], – to buy any thing, to purchase or procure any thing, with the price of one’s life. So Tigranes in Xenophon, when Cyrus asked him what he would give or do for the liberty of his wife, whom he had taken prisoner, answered, [Greek: Kan tes psuches priaimen hooste latreusai tauten] – “I will purchase her liberty with my life,” or “the price of my soul.” Whereon the woman being freed, affirmed afterward, that she considered none in the company, but him who said, [Greek: hoos tes psuches an priaito hooste me me douleuein], “that he would purchase my liberty with his own life,” [Cyrop. lib. iii.]

And these things are added on the occasion of the instances mentioned in the Scripture; whence it appears, that this expression of “dying for another” has no other sense or meaning, but only dying instead of another, undergoing the death that he should undergo, that he might go free. And in this matter of Christ’s dying for us, add that he so died for us as that he also died for our sins; that is, either to bear their punishment or to expiate their guilt (for other sense the words cannot admit); and he that pretends to give any other sense of them than that contended for, which implies the whole of what lies in the doctrine of satisfaction, “erit mihi magnus Apollo,” even he who was the author of all ambiguous oracles of old.

And this is the common sense of “mori pro alio,” and “pati pro aito,” or “pro alio discrimen capitis subire;” a substitution is still denoted by that expression: which suffices us in this whole cause, for we know both into whose room he came, and what they were to suffer. Thus Entellus, killing and sacrificing an ox to Eryx in the stead of Dares, whom he was ready to have slain, when he was taken from him, expresses himself, –

“Hanc tibia, Eryx, meliorem animam pro morte Daretis Persolvo.” – Aen. v. 483. He offered the ox, a better sacrifice, in the stead of Dares, taken from him. So, – “Fratrem Pollux alterna morte redemit.” – Aen. vi. 121. And they speak so not only with respect unto death, but wherever any thing of durance or suffering is intended. So the angry master in the comedian: – “Verberibus caesum te in pistrinum, Dave, dedam usque ad necem; Ea lege atque omine, ut, si te inde exemerim, ego pro te molam.” – Ter. And., i. 2, 28. He threatened his servant, to cast him into prison, to be macerated to death with labour; and that with this engagement, that if he ever let him out, he would grind for him; – that is, in his stead. Wherefore, without offering violence to the common means of understanding things amongst men, another sense cannot be affixed to these words.

The nature of the thing itself will admit of no other exposition than that given unto it; and it has been manifoldly exemplified among the nations of the world. For suppose a man guilty of any crime, and on the account thereof to be exposed unto danger from God or man, in a way of justice, wrath, or vengeance, and when he is ready to be given up unto suffering according unto his demerit, another should tender himself to die for him, that he might be freed; let an appeal be made to the common reason and understandings of all men, whether the intention of this his dying for another be not, that he substitutes himself in his stead, to undergo what he should have done, however the translation of punishment from one to another may be brought about and asserted; for at present we treat not of the right, but of the fact, or the thing itself. And to deny this to be the case as to the sufferings of Christ, is, as far as I can understand, to subvert the whole gospel.

Moreover, as was said, this has been variously exemplified among the nations of the world; whose acting in such cases, because they excellently shadow out the general notion of the death of Christ for others, for sinners, and are appealed unto directly by the apostle to this purpose, Rom. 5: 7, 8, I shall in a few instances reflect upon.

Not to insist on the voluntary surrogations of private persons, one into the room of another, mutually to undergo dangers and death for one another, as before mentioned, I shall only remember some public transactions, in reference unto communities, in nations, cities, or armies. Nothing is more celebrated amongst the ancients than this, that when they supposed themselves in danger, from the anger and displeasure of their gods, by reason of any guilt or crimes among them, some one person should either devote himself or be devoted by the people, to die for them; and therein to be made, as it wets, an expiatory sacrifice. For where sin is the cause, and God is the object respected; the making of satisfaction by undergoing punishment, and expiating of sin by a propitiatory sacrifice, are but various expressions of the same thing. Now, those who so devoted themselves, as was said, to die in the stead of others, or to expiate their sins, and turn away the anger of God they feared, by their death, designed two things in what they did. First, That the evils which were impendent on the people, and feared, might fall on themselves, so that the people might go free. Secondly, That all good things which themselves desired, might be conferred on the people. Which things have a notable shadow in them of the great expiatory sacrifice, concerning which we treat, and expound the expressions wherein it is declared. The instance of the Decii is known; of whom the poet, – “Plebeiae Deciornm animae, plebeian fuerunt Nomina; pro totis legionibus Hi tamen, et pro Omnibus auxiliis, atque omni plebe Latina, Sufficiunt Diis infernis.”

The two Decii, father and son, in imminent dangers of the people, devoted themselves, at several times, unto death and destruction. And says he, “Sufficiunt Diis infernis,- “they satisfied for the whole people; adding the reason whence so it might be: – “Pluris denim Decii quam qui servntur ab illis.” Juv., Sat. vii. 254-8 They were more to be valued than all that were saved by them. And the great historian does excellently describe both the actions and expectations of the one and the other in what they did. The father, when the Roman army, commanded by himself and Titus Manlius, was near a total ruin by the Latins, called for the public priest, and caused him, with the usual solemn ceremonies, to devote him to death for the deliverance and safety of the army; after which, making his requests to his gods, (“dii quorum est potestas nostrorum hostiumque,”) “the gods that had power over them and their adversaries,” as he supposed, he cast himself into death by the swords of the enemy. “Conspectus ab utraque acie aliquanto augustior humano visu, sicut coelo missus piaculum omnis deorum irae, qui pestam ab suis aversam in hostes ferret;” – “He was looked on by both armies as one more august than a man, as one sent from heaven, to be a piacular sacrifice, to appease the anger of the gods, and to transfer destruction from their own army to the enemies,” Liv., Hist. viii. 9. His son, in like manner, in a great and dangerous battle against the Gauls and Samnites, wherein he commanded in chief, devoting himself, as his father had done, added unto the former solemn deprecations’: – “Prae se agere sese formidinem ac fugam, caedemque ac cruorem, coelestum, inferorum iras,” lib. x. 28; – “That he carried away before him, from those for whom he devoted himself, ‘fear and flight, slaughter and blood, the anger of the celestial and infernal gods.'” And as they did, in this devoting of themselves, design “averruncare malum, deum iras, lustrare populum, aut exercitum, piaculum fieri,” or [Greek: peripsema, anathema, apokatharma], – “expiare crimina, scelus, raetum,” “or to remove all evil from others, by taking it on themselves in their stead; so also they thought they might, and intended in what they did, to covenant and contract for the good things they desired. So did these Decii; and so is Menoeceus reported to have done, when he devoted himself for the city of Thebes, in danger to be destroyed by the Argives. So Papinius Statius introduces him treating with his gods: – “Armorum superi, tuque o qui funere tanto Indulges mihi, Phoebe, mori, date gaudia Thebis, Quae pepigi, et toto quae sanguine prodigus emi.” – [Theb. x. 757.] He reckoned that he had not only repelled all death and danger from Thebes, by his own, but that he had purchased joy, in peace and liberty, for the people.

And where there was none in public calamities that did voluntarily devote themselves, the people were wont to take some obnoxious person, to make him execrable, and to lay on him, according to their superstition, all the wrath of their gods, and so give him up to destruction. Such the apostle alludes unto, Rom. 9: 3; 1 Cor. 4: 9, 13. So the Massilians were wont to expiate their city by taking a person devoted, imprecating on his head all the evil that the city was obnoxious unto, casting him into the sea with these words, [Greek: Peripsema hemoon genou] – “Be thou our expiatory sacrifice.” To which purpose were the solemn words that many used in their expiatory sacrifices, as Herodotus [lib ii. 39] testifies of the Egyptians, bringing their offerings. Says he, [Greek: Katapeontai de, tade legontes, teisi kefaleisin, ei ti melloi e sfisi toisi thuousi, e Aiguptooi tei sunapasei kakon genesthai es kefalen tauten trapesthai] – “They laid these imprecations on their heads, that if any evil were happening towards the sacrificer, or all Egypt, let it be all turned and laid on this devoted head.”

And the persons whom they thus dealt withal, and made execrate, were commonly of the vilest of the people, or such as had rendered themselves detestable by their own crimes; whence was the complaint of the mother of Menaeceus upon her son’s devoting himself: – “Lustralemne feris, ego te puer inclyte Thebis, Devotumque caput, ilis seu mater alebam?” – [Statius, Theb. x. 788, 789.]

I have recounted these instances to evince the common intention, sense, and understanding of that expression, of one dying for another, and to manifest by examples what is the sense of mankind about any one’s being devoted and substituted in the room of others, to deliver them from death and danger; the consideration whereof, added to the constant use of the words mentioned in the Scripture, is sufficient to found and confirm this conclusion: – “That whereas it is frequently affirmed in the Scripture, that ‘Christ died for us, and for our sins,’ etc., to deny that he died and suffered in our stead, undergoing the death whereunto we were obnoxcious, and the punishment due to our sins, is, – if we respect in what we say or believe the constant use of those words in the Scripture, the nature of the thing itself concerning which they are used, the uncontrolled use of that expression in all sorts of writers in expressing the same thing, with the instances and examples of its meaning and intention among the nations of the world, – to deny that he died for us at all.”

Neither will his dying for our good or advantage only, in what way or sense soever, answer or make good or true the assertion of his dying for us and our sins. And this is evident in the death of the apostles and martyrs. They all died for our good; our advantage and benefit was one end of their sufferings, in the will and appointment of God: and yet it cannot be said that they died for us, or our sins.

And if Christ died only for our good, though in a more effectual manner than they did, yet this alters not the kind of his dying for us; nor can he thence be said, properly, according to the only due sense of that expression, so to do.

I shall, in this brief and hasty discourse, add only one consideration more about the death of Christ, to confirm the truth pleaded for; it and that is, that he is said, in dying for sinners, “to bear their sins.”. Isa. 53: 11, “He shall bear their iniquities;” verse 12, “He bare the sin of many;” explained, verse 5, “He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him.” 1 Pet. 2: 24, “Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree,” etc.

This expression is purely sacred. It occurs not directly in other authors, though the sense of it in other words do frequently. They call it “luere peccata;” that is, “delictorum supplicium ferre,” – “to bear the punishment of sins.” The meaning, therefore, of this phrase of speech is to be taken from the Scripture alone, and principally from the Old Testament, where it is originally used; and from whence it is transferred into the New Testament, in the same sense, and no other. Let us consider some of the places: –

Isa. 53: 11, [Hebrew: awonotam hu yisbol]. The same word, [Hebrew: saval], is used verse 4, [Hebrew: umach’oveinu svalam], – “And our griefs, he has borne them.” The word signifies, properly, to bear a weight or a burden, as a man bears it on his shoulders, – “bajulo, porto.” And it is never used with respect unto sin, but openly and plainly it signifies the undergoing of the punishment due unto it. So it occurs directly to our purpose, Lam. 5: 7 [Hebrew: avoteinu chat’u einam anachnu awonoteihem savalnu] – “Our fathes have sinned, and are not; and we have borne their iniquities;” the punishment due to their sins. And why a new sense should be forged for these words when they are spoken concerning Christ, who can give a just reason?

Again; [Hebrew: nasa] is used to the same purpose, [Hebrew: wehu chet-rabim nasa] Isa. 53: 12, “And he bare the sin of many. [Hebrew: nasa] is often used with respect unto sin; sometimes with reference unto God’s acting about it, and sometimes with reference unto men’s concerns in it. In the first way, or when it denotes an act of God, it signifies to lift up, to take away or pardon sin; and leaves the word [Hebrew: awon], wherewith it is joined under its first signification, of iniquity, or the guilt of sin, with respect unto punishment ensuing as its consequent; for God pardoning the guilt of sin, the removal of the punishment does necessarily ensue, guilt containing an obligation unto punishment. In the latter way, as it respects men or sinners, it constantly denotes the bearing of the punishment of sin, and gives that sense unto [Hebrew: awon], with respect unto the guilt of sin as its cause. And hence arises the ambiguity of these words of Cain, Gen. 4: 13, [Hebrew: gadol awoni minso]. If [Hebrew: nasa] denotes an act of God, if the words be spoken with reference, in the first p]ace, to any acting of his towards Cain, [Hebrew: awon] retains the sense of iniquity, and the words are rightly rendered, “My sin is greater than to be forgiven.” If it respect Cain himself firstly, [Hebrew: awon] assumes the signification of punishment, and the words are to be rendered, “My punishment is greater than I can bear,” or “is to be borne by me.”

This, I say, is the constant sense of this expression, nor can any instance to the contrary be produced. Some may be mentioned in the confirmation of it. Numb. 19: 33, “Your children shall wander in the wilderness forty years,” [Hebrew: wenasu et-znuteichem] “and shall bear your whoredoms.” Verse 34, [Hebrew: tisu et-awonoteichem arba’im shanah] – “Ye shall bear your iniquities forty years;” that is, the punishment due to your whoredoms and iniquities, according to God’s providential dealings with them at that time. Lev. 19: 8, “He that eateth it [Hebrew: awono yisa] shall bear his iniquity. How? [Hebrew: nichretah hanefesh hahi] – “That soul shall be cut off.” To be cut off for sin by the punishment of it, and for its guilt, is to bear iniquity. So chap. 20: 16-18, for a man to bear his iniquity, and to be killed, slain, or put to death for it, are the same.

Ezek. 18: 20, [Hebrew: hanefesh hachotet hi tamoet ben lo-yisa ba’awon ha’av] – “The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the sin of the father.” To bear sin, and to die for sin, are the same. More instances might be added, all uniformly speaking the same sense of the words.

And as this sense is sufficiently, indeed invincibly, established by the invariable use of that expression in the Scripture so the manner whereby it is affirmed that the Lord Christ bare our iniquities, sets it absolutely free from all danger by opposition. For he bare our iniquities when [Hebrew: wa’adonai hifnia bo et awon kulanu] – “the LORD made to meet on him, or laid on him; the iniquity of us all,” Isa. 53: 6; which words the LXX render, [Greek: Kai Kurios paredooken auton tais hamartiais hemoon] – “The LORD gave him up, or delivered him unto our sins;” that is, to be punished for them, for other sense the words can have none. “He made him in sin for us,” 2 Cor. 5: 21. So “he bare our sins,” Isa. 53: 12. How? “In his own body on the tree,” 1 Pet. 2: 24; that when he was, and in his being stricken, smitten, afflicted, wounded bruised, slain, so was the chastisement of our peace upon him.

Wherefore, to deny that the Lord Christ, in his death and suffering for us, underwent the punishment due to our sins, what we had deserved, that we might be delivered, as it everts the great foundation of the gospel, so, by an open perverting of the plain words of the scripture, because not suited in their sense and importance to the sin imaginations of men, it gives no small countenance to infidelity and atheism.

Do we by grace destroy free will? God forbid! We establish free will. For even as the law is not destroyed but established by faith, so free will is not destroyed but established by grace. The law is fulfilled only by a free will. And yet the law brings the knowledge of sin; faith brings the acquisition of grace against sin; grace brings the healing of the soul from the disease of sin; the health of the soul brings freedom of will; free will brings the love of righteousness; and the love of righteousness fulfils the law. Thus the law is not destroyed but established through faith, since faith obtains grace by which the law is fulfilled. Likewise, free will is not destroyed through grace, but is established, since grace cures the will so that righteousness is freely loved. Now all the stages which I have here connected together in their successive links, are each spoken of individually in the sacred Scriptures. The law says: ‘You shall not covet’ (Ex.20:17). Faith says: ‘Heal my soul, for I have sinned against You’ (Ps.41:4). Grace says: ‘See, you have been made well: sin no more, in case a worse thing comes upon you’ (Jn.5:14). Health says: ‘O Lord my God, I cried to You, and You have healed me’ (Ps.30:2). Free will says: ‘I will freely sacrifice to You’ (Ps.54:6). Love of righteousness says: ‘Transgressors told me pleasant tales, but not according to Your law, O Lord’ (Ps. 119:85).

How is it then that miserable human beings dare to be proud, either of their free will, before they are set free, or of their own strength, if they have been set free? They do not observe that in the very mention of free will they pronounce the name of liberty. But ‘where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty’ (2 Cor.3:17). If, therefore, they are the slaves of sin, why do they boast of free will? For ‘by whatever a person is overcome, to that he is delivered as a slave’ (2 Pet.2:19). But if they have been set free, why do they puff themselves up as if it were by their own doing? Why do they boast, as if their freedom were not a gift? Or are they so free that they will not have Him for their Lord Who says to them, ‘Without Me, you can do nothing’ (Jn.15:5), and, ‘If the Son sets you free, you shall be truly free?’ (Jn.8:36).

Augustine, On the Spirit and the Letter, 52

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God is essentially invisible. “He dwells in the light which no man can approach unto, whom no man has seen, nor can see.” (1 Tim. 6:16.) When, therefore, he would make himself known to the sons of men, it must be by his works or by his words. The first way of making his power and glory known is beautifully unfolded in Psalm 19—”The heavens tell of the glory of God. The skies display his marvelous craftsmanship. Day after day they continue to speak; night after night they make him known. They speak without a sound or a word; their voice is silent in the skies; yet their message has gone out to all the earth, and their words to all the world.” This is the testimony which God gave of himself to the Gentile world, but which, through the depravity of man’s heart, has been universally misunderstood, perverted and abused, as the Apostle speaks—”since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.” (Rom. 1:19-21.)

The secret spring whence this flows, and the eternal foundation on which this rests, is the incarnation of God’s dear Son. He is “the Word”—the Word emphatically, originally, essentially; and so called not only because he is the express image of the Father, as the word is the image of the thought, but because he has declared or made him known, as our uttered word makes our thoughts known. John therefore bare witness of him—”No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father’s side, has made him known.” Had there, then, been no incarnate Word, there would have been no revealed word; and had there been no revealed word, there would have been no written word; for all that was revealed was not necessarily written, as John was bidden to seal up those things which the seven thunders uttered, and write them not. (Rev. 10:4.) And as without the incarnate Word there would have been no revealed or written word—so the power of the written word is derived from the power of the incarnate Word.

God’s witness by his works, then, being insufficient, and failing, so to speak, through the depravity of man’s heart, he has revealed himself by and in his word—in those precious Scriptures which we hold in our hands, and the power of which some of us have felt in our hearts. It is, then, of this power of the written word that we have now to speak. But when we speak of the power of the word of God we do not mean thereby to convey the idea that it possesses any power of its own, any actual, original, innate force, which acts of itself on the heart and conscience. The word of God is but the instrument of a higher and distinct power, even the power of that Holy and eternal Spirit, the revealer and testifier of Jesus, by whose express and immediate inspiration it was written.

The power of an instrument is the power of him who uses it. This is true literally. The strength of the sword is in the hand of him who wields it. A child may take up a warrior’s sword, but can he use it as a warrior? If, then, the word of God is “quick (or living, as the word means) and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword,” it is because he wields it of whom it is said, “You are the most handsome of all. Gracious words stream from your lips. God himself has blessed you forever. Put on your sword, O mighty warrior! You are so glorious, so majestic!” (Psalm 45:2, 3.) John, therefore, saw him in vision, as one “out of whose mouth went a sharp two-edged sword,” (Rev. 1:16,) both to pierce the hearts of his people and to smite the nations. (Rev. 19:13.)

So with the word which he wields. “Where the word of a king is there is power.” (Eccles. 8:4.) And why? Because it is the word of the king. Another may speak the word, but it has no power because he who speaks it has no power to execute it. When “the king said to Haman, Make haste, and take the apparel and the horse, as you have said, and do even so to Mordecai the Jew, who sits at the king’s gate; let nothing fail of all that you have spoken,” (Esther 6:10,) it was done. The man whom the king delighted to honor was honored. (Esther 6:10, 11.) When again the king said, “Hang him thereon,” it was done—”So they hanged Haman on the gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai.” (Esther 7:9, 10.) Here were life and death in the power of the tongue. (Prov. 28:21.) Thus we ascribe no power to the word itself, but to the power of him who speaks it. The Apostle therefore says of his speech and preaching that it was “in demonstration of the Spirit and of power;” (1 Cor. 2:4;) and of his gospel, that is, the gospel which he knew, felt, and preached, that it came unto the Thessalonians “not in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit, and in much assurance.” (1 Thess. 1:5.) Twice had David heard, that is on two solemn and special occasions, “that power belongs unto God.” (Psalm 62:11.) To understand and explain this power passes our comprehension. It may be and is felt, and its effects seen and known, but “the thunder of his power who can understand?” (Job 26:14.) When God said, “Let there be light,” light burst forth at his creative fiat. But who can understand or explain how light came? Yet it could be seen when it filled the future creation with its bright effulgence.

But now let us consider the exercise and display of this power in its first movements upon the heart. Man being dead in sin, needs an almighty power to make him alive unto God; for what communion can there be between a dead soul and a living God? This, then, is the first display of the power of the word of God in the hands of the eternal Spirit. “You has he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins.” (Eph. 2:1.) And how? By the word. “Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.” (Jas. 1:18.) So testifies Peter—”Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which lives and abides forever.” (1 Pet. 1:23.) What James calls “begetting” Peter terms “being born again;” and this corresponds with what the Lord himself declared to Nicodemus—”Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3.) Almost similar is the language of John himself as taken, doubtless, from his divine Master—”Who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man—but of God.” (John 1:13.) So in his first epistle—”Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God; and every one that loves him that begat loves him also that is begotten of him.” (1 John 5:1.) We need not therefore enter into the controversy about the difference between begetting and being born again, as if the new birth exactly corresponded with the old, and as if the analogy could be precisely carried out between natural and spiritual generation. Figures (and this is a figure) must not be pressed home to all their logical consequences, or made to fit and correspond in all their parts and particulars. It is sufficient for us to know that the mighty change whereby a sinner passes from death unto life, (1 John 3:14,) is “delivered from the power of darkness, and translated into the kingdom of his dear Son,” (Col. 1:13,) is by the power of the word of God upon his soul.

Nor shall we, as we wish to avoid controversial topics, enter at any length into the question whether light or life first enters into the heart—”The entrance of your words gives light.” (Psalm 119:130.) There it would seem that light came first. And so the passage—”To open their eyes, and turn them from darkness to light.” (Acts 26:18.) So Saul at Damascus’ gate saw and was struck down by the light before the quickening words came—”Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” (Acts 9:4.) In grace, if not in nature, it would seem evident that we see before we feel; and thus the disciples “beheld his glory, as of the only begotten of the Father,” before they received the Son of God into their hearts and believed on his name. It will be seen from these hints that without entering into the controversy, or pronouncing any dogmatical opinion, our own view inclines to the point held by Mr. Huntington, that light precedes life. And yet, when we look back on our own experience, how difficult it is to determine whether we saw light before we felt life, or whether the same ray which brought light into the mind did not bring at the same moment life into the heart. At any rate we saw what we felt, and we felt what we saw. “In your light do we see light.” To see this light is to be “enlightened with the light of the living.” (Job 33:30.) And this our blessed Lord calls “the light of life.” “Then spoke Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world; he who follows me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” (John 8:12.)

So we will not put asunder what God has joined together—light and life. We know, however, the effect better than the cause; and need we wonder that we can neither understand nor explain the mystery of regeneration? Does not the Lord himself say—”The wind blows where it wills, and you hear the sound thereof, but can not tell whence it comes and where it goes; so is every one that is born of the Spirit.” (John 3:8.) It is our mercy if we have seen light in God’s light and felt the Spirit’s quickening breath, if we cannot understand whence it came or where it goes, except to believe that it came from God and leads to God—it began in grace and will end in glory.

The beginning of this work upon the soul is in Scripture frequently termed “a calling,” as in the well-known passage—”But unto them who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For you see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called.” (1 Cor. 1:24-26.) And thus we find “calling” one of the links in that glorious chain which, reaching down to and stretching through time, is fastened at both ends to eternity—”For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the first-born among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called; and whom he called, them he also justified; and whom he justified, them he also glorified.” (Rom. 8:29, 30.)

The very word “call” has a reference to something spoken or uttered, that is, a word addressed to the person called. If I call to a man, I speak to that man. My word to him is my call to him. Thus our Lord said to Levi, the son of Alphaeus, sitting at the receipt of custom, “Follow me.” Power attended the word. It fell upon Matthew’s heart. Light and life entered into his soul. His understanding was enlightened, his will renewed, his heart changed. What was the instantaneous effect? “And he arose and followed him.” (Mark 2:14.) Similar in cause and effect was the calling of Peter and Andrew, of James and John. (Matt. 4:18-22.) This calling is “by grace” or the pure favor of God; (Gal. 1:15;) a “heavenly calling,” as coming from heaven and leading to heaven; (Heb. 3:1;) a “holy calling,” (2 Tim. 1:9,) not only holy in itself, but leading to and productive of that “holiness without which no man shall see the Lord;” (Heb. 12:14;) and therefore a calling “to glory and virtue,” or excellency, as the word means—excellency here, (Phil. 1:10; 4:8,) glory hereafter. It is also a calling out of the world, as Abraham was called to “leave his country, and his kindred, and his father’s house;” and so we are bidden to “come out from among them and be separate, and not touch the unclean thing.” (2 Cor. 6:17.) It is “a high calling,” and therefore free from everything low, groveling, and earthly; “into the grace of Christ;” (Gal. 1:6;) a calling “to the fellowship of the Son of God, Jesus Christ our Lord;” (1 Cor. 1:9;) a calling “to peace” with God and his dear people, and as far as lies in us with all men; (Col. 3:15; 1 Cor. 7:15; Rom. 12:18;) “to liberty,” (Gal. 5:13,) to a “laying hold of eternal life,” (1 Tim. 6:12,) and “to the obtaining of the eternal glory of the Lord Jesus Christ.” (2 Thess. 2:14; 1 Pet. 5:10; John 17:22-24.)

As, then, those who are thus called are called to the experimental enjoyment of these spiritual blessings, with all of which they were blessed in heavenly places in Christ Jesus, according as they were chosen in him before the foundation of the world, it is plain that they must have a knowledge of them communicated to their soul; and as we know nothing of divine truth but through the written word and cannot by any wisdom of our own, even with that word in our hands, attain to a saving knowledge of these divine realities—it is equally plain that they must be revealed to us by a spiritual and supernatural power.

This is clearly and beautifully unfolded by the Apostle in 1 Cor. 2. We cannot quote the whole chapter, which, to be clearly understood, should be read in its full connection, but we cannot forbear citing a few verses as being so appropriate to, and casting such a light on our subject—No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him”—but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man’s spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us.” (1 Cor. 2:9-12.)

The things which “God has prepared for those who love him” are the things which his people are called to know and enjoy; and that not merely as regards the future state of glory but the present state of grace—the things to be known on earth as well as the things to be enjoyed in heaven. This is plain from the words, “But God has revealed them unto us by his Spirit,”—not will hereafter reveal and make them known in heaven above, but has already revealed them on earth below. And where, but in the heart of his people? For it is there that they receive “the Spirit which is of God,” and this “that they might know the things that are freely given to them of God.”

Knowledge

, then, is clearly and evidently the first effect of that divine light of which we have spoken; and this corresponds with what the gracious Lord said in his intercessory prayer—”And this is life eternal, that they might knowyou the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” (John 17:3.) The knowledge of the only true God must precede any fear of him, or any faith in him. While I am in nature’s darkness and death, I do not know God, and, therefore, I neither can nor do fear him.

Some of our spiritual readers may feel surprised at our putting the knowledge of God as the first effect of the power of the word upon the heart; and some may tell us that we should put conviction of sin, and others might insist that we should place the fear of God first. But if they will bear with us for a few moments, we think we can show them that a true spiritual knowledge of the only true God must go before both right conviction of sin and before the right fear of the Lord.

1. First, then, what is conviction of sin but a conviction in our conscience of having sinned against and before a pure, holy, and just God? But where can be my conviction of having sinned against him, if I have no knowledge of him? In nature’s darkness and death, I felt no conviction of sin, not only because my conscience was not awakened or divinely wrought upon, but because I knew nothing of him against whom I had sinned—nothing of his justice, nothing of his holiness, nothing of his power.

2. What is the fear of God but a trembling apprehension of his glorious majesty? But how can I have this apprehension of his glorious majesty if I am ignorant of his very existence, which I am—until he makes it known by a ray of light out of his own eternal fullness? Where do we see the fear of God more in exercise or more beautifully expressed than in Psalm 139? But how the whole of it is laid in the knowledge of the heart-searching presence of the Almighty—”O Lord, you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O Lord. You hem me in—behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me.” (Ps. 139:1-5.)

We can sometimes read past experience best in the light of present experience, as a traveler emerging from a dark and tangled forest sees from the hill-top the way by which he came far more clearly and better than when he was struggling among the thickets.

When, then, now do we seem most to see and feel the evil of sin? When do we now seem most to fear that Lord in whose presence we stand? Is it not in proportion to our knowledge of him, to our present realization of his majesty, power, and presence, and to that spiritual experimental acquaintance which we have gained of his dread perfections by the teaching, as we trust, of the Holy Spirit through the written word? And take the converse. When are our views and feelings of the evil of sin comparatively dim and cold, so that we do not seem to see and realize what a dreadful thing it is? Is it not when there is no sensible view nor present apprehension of the majesty, holiness, and presence of God?

Similarly with respect to godly fear. When does this fountain of life to depart from the snares of death run shallow and low, so as to be diminished, as by a summer drought, almost to a thin thread? When our present vital, experimental sight and sense, knowledge and apprehension of the majesty of the Lord are become dim and feeble, when the old veil seems to flap back over the heart, and like a half-closed shutter shuts out the light of day. If we read the early chapters of the book of Proverbs, we shall see how much is spoken in them of wisdom, instruction, knowledge, understanding, and the like, and how closely there the fear of the Lord is connected with the knowledge of the Lord—”The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” (Prov. 1:7.) And, again—”My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding, and if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God. For the Lord gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.” (Prov. 2:1-6.)

And, again—”When wisdom enters into your heart, and knowledge is pleasant unto your soul; discretion shall preserve you, understanding shall keep you.” (Prov. 2:10, 11.) So those that perish, perish from lack of this knowledge and of this fear as its fruit—”For that they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the Lord; they would none of my counsel; they despised all my reproof. Therefore shall they eat of the fruit of their own way, and be filled with their own devices.” (Prov. 1:29-31.) And more plainly and emphatically—”Fools die for lack of wisdom.” (Prov. 10:21.) Indeed, there is such a connection between true wisdom, which is “a knowledge of the holy,” (Prov. 30:3,) and the fear of the Lord, and such a connection between ignorance of the Lord and sin, that saved saints are called “wise,” and lost sinners are called “fools,” not only in the Old Testament, as continually in the Proverbs, but in the New.

Many of the Lord’s people look with suspicion upon knowledge, from not seeing clearly the vast distinction between the spiritual, experimental knowledge for which we are now contending, and what is called “head knowledge.” They see that a man may have a well-furnished head and a graceless heart, that he may understand “all mysteries” and all “knowledge” and yet be “nothing;” (1 Cor. 13:2.) And as some of these all-knowing professors are the basest characters that can infest the churches, those who really fear the Lord stand not only in doubt of them, but of all the knowledge possessed by them. But put it in a different form; ask the people of God whether there is not such a divine reality, such a heavenly blessing, as being “taught of God;” (John 6:45;) having “an unction from above whereby we know all things;” (1 John 2:20;) knowing the truth for oneself and finding it makes free; (John 8:32;) whether there is not a “counting of all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus our Lord,” and a stretching forth of the desires of the soul to “know him and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of his sufferings;” whether there is not “a knowledge of salvation by the remission of sins;” (Luke 1:77;) “a knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ;” (2 Cor. 4:6;) a being “filled with the knowledge of his will,” (Col. 1:9,) an “increasing in the knowledge of God;” (Col. 1:10;) “a growing in grace and in the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,” (2 Pet. 3:18,)—ask the living family of God whether there be not such a knowledge as this, and if this knowledge is not the very pith and marrow, the very sum and substance of vital godliness? and they will with one voice say, “It is!”

By putting knowledge therefore, as the first effect of the word of truth upon the heart, we are not setting up, God forbid, that vain, empty, useless, deceptive thing, that delusion of the devil, “head knowledge”—but that divine, spiritual, gracious, and saving knowledge which is communicated to the soul and wrought into its very substance by the teaching and testimony of the Holy Spirit. This knowledge embraces every truth which we learn by divine teaching in living experience, from the first sigh to the last song, from the earliest conviction to the last consolation, from the cry of despair to the shout of triumph, from the agonies of hell to the joys of heaven. Need any one wonder, therefore, that we put first what stands first, that we lay down the first stone which is the foundation stone, and draw the first line where the Holy Spirit makes his first impression?

If, then, this knowledge is communicated by the Holy Spirit to the heart through the written word, two things follow, and we believe that the experience of every child of God will bear testimony to what we now advance concerning them—

1. That the word of God comes into the heart and conscience in and by regeneration, with a new and hitherto unfelt power. How carelessly, how ignorantly, how formally, if we read it at all, did we read the word of God in the days of our unregeneracy. What little heed we paid to the word preached, if we heard it at all. What thorough darkness and death wrapped us up, so that nothing of a spiritual, eternal nature touched, moved, or stirred us either with hope or fear. But at a certain, never-to-be-forgotten time, a power, we could not tell how or why, was put into the word and it fell upon our hearts, as a sound from heaven—as the very voice of God to our conscience. The word of God laid hold of us as the word of God; it was no longer the word of man, a dry, uninteresting, almost if not wholly hated book; but it got, we could not explain how, so into the very inside of us—armed with authority and power as a message from God.

But here let us guard ourselves. It is not always the exact words, or indeed any word of Scripture which lays hold of the conscience; but it is in every case the truth contained in the Scriptures. Eternity, judgment to come, the justice of God, his all-searching eye, his almighty hand, his universal presence, from which there is no escape—these, and other similar truths which fall with such weight upon the quickened sinner’s conscience, are all revealed in and only known by the Scripture. The truth of God is, therefore, the word of God, as the word of God is the truth of God. If, then, no particular word or words are applied to the conscience by the quickening power of the Holy Spirit, the truth, which is the word, is applied to the heart, and it is this entrance of the truth as the word of God, which gives light.

As a proof of this, no sooner do we receive the solemn truths of which we have spoken, into our conscience and feel their power, than we run to the Scriptures and find a light in and upon them hitherto unseen and unknown. The light, life, and power, which attended the truth as it fell upon the conscience gave the word a place in our hearts. And we shall always find that the place which the word has in the heart is in proportion to the light and power which attended its first entrance. Let us seek to explain this a little more fully and clearly.

The heart by nature is closed, shut, barred against the entrance of light. The light may, so to speak, play around the heart, but does not enter, for there is a thick veil over it. Thus our Lord said of himself, “While I am in the world I am the light of the world.” (John 9:5.) The light shone upon the world, but did not enter, for the “light shines in darkness and the darkness comprehended (that is apprehended or embraced) it not.” (John 1:5.) “My word,” said the Lord, “has no place in you.” (John 8:37.) But when the word comes with power, it seizes hold of the heart and conscience. They give way before it and leave a place for it, where it sets up its throne and becomes their Lord and Master.

Here, then, we shall for the present pause, leaving the word of truth in possession of the heart.

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Psalm 25:11 — For thy name’s sake, O Lord, pardon my iniquity; for it is great.
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It is evident by some passages in this psalm, that when it was penned, it was a time of affliction and danger with David. This appears particularly by the 15th and following verses: “Mine eyes are ever towards the Lord; for he shall pluck my feet out of the net,” etc. His distress makes him think of his sins, and leads him to confess them, and to cry to God for pardon, as is suitable in a time of affliction. See ver. 7. “Remember not the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions;” and verse 18. “Look upon mine affliction, and my pain, and forgive all my sins.”

It is observable in the text, what arguments the psalmist makes use of in pleading for pardon.

1. He pleads for pardon for God’s name’s sake. He has no expectation of pardon for the sake of any righteousness or worthiness of his for any good deeds he had done, or any compensation he had made for his sins; though if man’s righteousness could be a just plea, David would have had as much to plead as most. But he begs that God would do it for his own name’s sake, for his own glory, for the glory of his own free grace, and for the honour of his own covenant-faithfulness.

2. The psalmist pleads the greatness of his sins as an argument for mercy. He not only doth not plead his own righteousness, or the smallness of his sins; he not only cloth not say, Pardon mine iniquity, for I have done much good to counterbalance it; or, Pardon mine iniquity, for it is small, and thou hast no great reason to be angry with me; mine iniquity is not so great, that thou hast any just cause to remember it against me; mine offence is not such but that thou mayest well enough overlook i’: but on the contrary he says, Pardon mine iniquity, for it is great; he pleads the greatness of his sin, and not the smallness of it; the enforces his prayer with this consideration, that his sins are very heinous.

But how could he make this a plea for pardon? I answer, Because the greater his iniquity was, the more need he had of pardon. It is as much as if he had said, Pardon mine iniquity, for it is so great that I cannot bear the punishment; my sin is so great that I am in necessity of pardon; my case will be exceedingly miserable, unless thou be pleased to pardon me. He makes use of the greatness of his sin, to enforce his plea for pardon, as a man would make use of the greatness of calamity in begging for relief. When a beggar begs for bread, he will plead the greatness of his poverty and necessity. When a man in distress cries for pity, what more suitable plea can be urged than the extremity of his case?–And God allows such a plea as this: for he is moved to mercy towards us by nothing in us but the miserableness of our case. He doth not pity sinners because they are worthy, but because they need his pity.

DOCTRINE
If we truly come to God for mercy, the greatness of our sin will be no impediment to pardon.–If it were an impediment, David would never have used it as a plea for pardon, as we find he does in the text.–The following things are needful in order that we truly come to God for mercy:

I. That we should see our misery, and be sensible of our need of mercy. They who are not sensible of their misery cannot truly look to God for mercy; for it is the very notion of divine mercy, that it is the goodness and grace of God to the miserable. Without misery in the object, there can be no exercise of mercy. To suppose mercy without supposing misery, or pity without calamity, is a contradiction: therefore men cannot look upon themselves as proper objects of mercy, unless they first know themselves to be miserable; and so, unless this be the case, it is impossible that they should come to God for mercy. They must be sensible that they are the children of wrath; that the law is against them, and that they are exposed to the curse of it: that the wrath of God abideth on them; and that he is angry’ with them every day while they are under the guilt of sin.–They must be sensible that it is a very dreadful thing to be the object of the wrath of God; that it is a very awful thing to have him for their enemy; and that they cannot bear his wrath. They must he sensible that the guilt of sin makes them miserable creatures, whatever temporal enjoyments they have; that they can be no other than miserable, undone creatures, so long as God is angry with them; that they are without strength, and must perish, and that eternally, unless God help them. They must see that their case is utterly desperate, for any thing that any one else can do for them; that they hang over the pit of eternal misery; and that they must necessarily drop into it, if God have not mercy on them.

II. They must be sensible that they are not worthy that God should have mercy on them. They who truly come to God for mercy, come as beggars, and not as creditors: they come for mere mercy. for sovereign grace, and not for any thing that is due. Therefore, they must see that the misery under which they lie is justly brought upon them, and that the wrath to which they are exposed is justly threatened against them; and that they have deserved that God should be their enemy, and should continue to be their enemy. They must be sensible that it would be just with God to do as he hath threatened in his holy law, viz. make them the objects of his wrath and curse in hell to all eternity.– They who come to God for mercy in a right manner are not disposed to find fault with his severity; but they come in a sense of their own utter unworthiness, as with ropes about their necks, and lying in the dust at the foot of mercy.

III. They must come to God for mercy in and through Jesus Christ alone. All their hope of mercy must be from the consideration of what he is, what he hath done, and what he hath suffered; and that there is no other name given under heaven, among men, whereby we can be saved, but that of Christ; that he is the Son of God, and the Saviour of the world; that his blood cleanses from all sin, and that he is so worthy, that all sinners who are in him may well be pardoned and accepted.–It is impossible that any should come to God for mercy, and at the same time have no hope of mercy. Their coming to God for it, implies that they have some hope of obtaining, otherwise they would not think it worth the while to come. But they that come in a right manner have all their hope through Christ, or from the consideration of his redemption, and the sufficiency of it.–If persons thus come to God for mercy, the greatness of their sins will be no impediment to pardon. Let their sins be ever so many, and great, and aggravated, it will not make God in the least degree more backward to pardon them. This may be made evident by the following considerations:

1. The mercy of God is as sufficient for the pardon of the greatest sins, as for the least; and that because his mercy is infinite. That which is infinite, is as much above what is great, as it is above what is small. Thus God being infinitely great, he is as much above kings as he is above beggars; he is as much above the highest angel, as he is above the meanest worm. One finite measure doth not come any nearer to the extent of what is infinite than another.–So the mercy of God being infinite, it must be as sufficient for the pardon of all sin, as of one. If one of the least sins be not beyond the mercy of God, so neither are the greatest, or ten thousand of them.–However, it must be acknowledged, that this alone doth not prove the doctrine. For though the mercy of God may be as sufficient for the pardon of great sins as others; yet there may be other obstacles, besides the want of mercy. The mercy of God may be sufficient, and yet the other attributes may oppose the dispensation of mercy in these cases.– Therefore I observe,

2. That the satisfaction of Christ is as sufficient for the removal of the greatest guilt, as the least: 1 John i. 7. ” The blood of Christ cleanseth from all sin.” Acts xiii. 39. ” By him all that believe are justified from all things from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses.” All the sins of those who truly come to God for mercy, let them be what they will, are satisfied for, if God be true who tells us so; and if they be satisfied for, surely it is not incredible, that God should be ready to pardon them. So that Christ having fully satisfied for all sin, or having wrought out a satisfaction that is sufficient for all, it is now no way inconsistent with the glory of the divine attributes to pardon the greatest sins of those who in a right manner come unto him for it. God may now pardon the greatest sinners without any prejudice to the honour of his holiness. The holiness of God will not suffer him to give the least countenance to sin, but inclines him to give proper testimonies of his hatred of it. But Christ having satisfied for sin, God can now love the sinner, and give no countenance at all to sin, however great a sinner he may have been. It was a sufficient testimony of God’s abhorrence of sin, that he poured out his wrath on his own dear Son, when he took the guilt of it upon himself. Nothing can more show God’s abhorrence of sin than this. If all mankind had been eternally damned, it would not have been so great a testimony of it.

God may, through Christ, pardon the greatest sinner without any prejudice to the honour of his majesty. The honour of the divine majesty indeed requires satisfaction; but the sufferings of Christ fully repair the injury. Let the contempt be ever so great, yet if so honourable a person as Christ undertakes to be a Mediator for the offender, and suffers so much for him, it fully repairs the injury done to the Majesty of heaven and earth. The sufferings of Christ fully satisfy justice. The justice of God, as the supreme Govemor and Judge of the world, requires the punishment of sin. The supreme Judge must judge the world according to a rule of justice. God doth not show mercy as a judge, but as a sovereign; therefore his exercise of mercy as a sovereign, and his justice as a judge, must be made consistent one with another; and this is done by the sufferings of Christ, in which sin is punished fully, and justice answered. Rom. iii. 25, 26. ” Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; to declare, I say, at this time, his righteousness; that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.”–The law is no impediment in the way of the pardon of the greatest sin, if men do but truly come to God for mercy: for Christ hath fulfilled the law, he hath borne the curse of it, in his sufferings; Gal. iii. 13. ” Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us; for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree.”

3. Christ will no! refuse to save the greatest sinners, who in a right manner come to God for mercy; for this is his work. It is his business to be a Saviour of sinners; it is the work upon which he came into the world; and therefore he will not object to it. He did not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance, Matt. ix. 13. Sin is the very evil which he came into the world to remedy: therefore he will not object to any man that he is very sinful. The more sinful he is, the more need of Christ.–The sinfulness of man was the reason of Christ’s coming into the world; this is the very misery from which he came to deliver men. The more they have of it, the more need they have of being delivered; ” They that are whole need not a physician, but they that are sick,” Matt. ix. 12. The physician will not make it an objection against healing a man who applies to him, that he stands in great need of his help. If a physician of compassion comes among the sick and wounded, surely he will not refuse to heal those that stand in most need of healing, if he be able to heal them.

4. Herein cloth the glory of grace by the redemption of Christ much consist, viz. in its sufficiency for the pardon of the greatest sinners. The whole contrivance of the way of salvation is for this end, to glorify the free grace of God. God had it on his heart from all eternity to glorify this attribute; and therefore it is, that the device of saving sinners by Christ was conceived. The greatness of divine grace appears very much in this, that God by Christ saves the greatest offenders. The greater the guilt of any sinner is, the more glorious and wonderful is the grace manifested in his pardon: Rom. 4:20. ” Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound.” The apostle, when telling how great a sinner he had been, takes notice of the abounding of grace in his pardon, of which his great guilt was the occasion: 1 Tim. i. 13. ” Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious. But I obtained mercy; and the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant, with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.” The Redeemer is glorified, in that he proves sufficient to redeem those who are exceeding sinful, in that his blood proves sufficient to wash away the greatest guilt, in that he is able to save men to the uttermost, and in that he redeems even from the greatest misery. It is the honour of Christ to save the greatest sinners, when they come to him, as it is the honour of a physician that he cures the most desperate diseases or wounds. Therefore, no doubt, Christ will be willing to save the greatest sinners, if they come to him; for he will not be backward to glorify himself, and to commend the value and virtue of his own blood. Seeing he hath so laid out himself to redeem sinners, he will not be unwilling to show, that he is able to redeem to the uttermost.

5. Pardon is as much offered and promised to the greatest sinners as any, if they will come aright to God for mercy. The invitations of the gospel are always in universal terms: as, Ho, every one that thirsteth; Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden; and, Whosoever will, let him come. And the voice of Wisdom is to men in general: Prov. viii. 4. ” Unto you, O men, I call, and my voice is to the sons of men.” Not to moral men, or religious men, but to you, O men. So Christ promises, John vi. 37. ” Him that cometh to me, I will in no wise cast out.” This is the direction of Christ to his apostles, after his resurrection, Mark xvi. 15, 16. ” Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature: he that believeth, and is baptized, shall be saved.” Which is agreeable to what the apostle saith, that “the gospel was preached to every creature which is under heaven,” Col. i. 23.

APPLICATION

The proper use of this subject is, to encourage sinners whose consciences are burdened with a sense of guilt, immediately to go to God through Christ for mercy. If you go in the manner we have described, the arms of mercy are open to embrace you. You need not be at all the more fearful of coming because of your sins, let them be ever so black. If you had as much guilt lying on each of your souls as all the wicked men in the world, and all the damned souls in hell; yet if you come to God for mercy, sensible of your own vileness, and seeking pardon only through the free mercy of God in Christ, you would not need to be afraid; the greatness of your sins would be no impediment to your pardon. Therefore, if your souls be burdened, and you are distressed for fear of hell, you need not bear that burden and distress any longer. If you are but willing, you may freely come and unload yourselves, and cast all your burdens on Christ, and rest in him.

But here I shall speak to some OBJECTIONS which some awakened sinners may be ready to make against what I now exhort them to.

I. Some may be ready to object, I have spent my youth and all the best of my life in sin, and I am afraid God will not accept of me, when I offer him only mine old age.–To this I would answer, 1. Hath God said any where, that he will not accept of old sinners who come to him? God hath often made offers and promises in universal terms; and is there any such exception put in? Doth Christ say, All that thirst, let them come to me and drink, except old sinners? Come to me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, except old sinners, and I will give you rest? Him that cometh to me, I will in no wise cast out, if he be not an old sinner? Did you ever read any such exception any where in the Bible? and why should you give way to exceptions which you make out of your own heads, or rather which the devil puts into your heads, and which have no foundation in the word of God?–Indeed it is more rare that old sinners are willing to come, than others; but if they do come, they are as readily accepted as any whatever.

2. When God accepts of young persons, it is not for the sake of the service which they are like to do him afterwards, or because youth is better worth accepting than old age. You seem entirely to mistake the matter, in thinking that God will not accept of you because you are old; as though he readily accepted of persons in their youth, because their youth is better worth his acceptance; whereas it is only for the sake of Jesus Christ, that God is willing to accept of any.

You say, your life is almost spent, and you are afraid that the best time for serving God is past; and that therefore God will not now accept of you; as if it were for the sake of the service which persons are like to do him, after they are converted, that he accepts of them. But a self-righteous spirit is at the bottom of such objections. Men cannot get off from the notion, that it is for some goodness or service of their own, either done or expected to be done, that God accepts of persons, and receives them into favour.–Indeed they who deny God their youth, the best part of their lives, and spend it in the service of Satan, dreadfully sin and provoke God; and he very often leaves them to hardness of heart when they are grown old. But if they are willing to accept of Christ when old, he is as ready to receive them as any others; for in that matter God hath respect only to Christ and his worthiness.

II. But, says one, I fear I have committed sins that are peculiar to reprobates. I have sinned against light, and strong convictions of conscience; I have sinned presumptuously; and have so resisted the strivings of the Spirit of God, that I am afraid I have committed such sins as none of God’s elect ever commit. I cannot think that God will ever leave one whom he intends to save, to go on and commit sins against so much light and conviction, and with such horrid presumption.–Others may say, I have had risings of heart against God; blasphemous thoughts, a spiteful and malicious spirit; and have abused mercy and the strivings of the Spirit, trampled upon the Saviour, and my sins are such as are peculiar to those who are reprobated to eternal damnation. To all this I would answer,

1. There is no sin peculiar to reprobates but the sin against the Holy Ghost. Do you read of any other in the word of God? And if you do not read of any there, what ground have you to think any such thing? What other rule have we, by which to judge of such matters, but the divine word? If we venture to go beyond that, we shall be miserably in the dark. When we pretend to go further in our determinations than the word of God, Satan takes us up, and leads us. It seems to you that such sins are peculiar to the reprobate, and such as God never forgives. But what reason can you give for it, if you have no word of God to reveal it? Is it because you cannot see how the mercy of God is sufficient to pardon, or the blood of Christ to cleanse from such presumptuous sins? If so, it is because you never yet saw how great the mercy of God is; you never saw the sufficiency of the blood of Christ, and you know not how far the virtue of it extends. Some elect persons have been guilty of all manner of sins, except the sin against the Holy Ghost; and unless you have been guilty of this, you have not been guilty of any that are peculiar to reprobates.

2. Men may be less likely to believe, for sins which they have committed, and not the less readily pardoned when they do believe. It must be acknowledged that some sinners are in more danger of hell than others. Though all are in great danger, some are less likely to be saved. Some are less likely ever to be converted and to come to Christ: but all who do come to him are alike readily accepted; and there is as much encouragement for one man to come to Christ as another.–Such sins as you mention are indeed exceeding heinous and provoking to God, and do in an especial manner bring the soul into danger of damnation, and into danger of being given to final hardness of heart; and God more commonly gives men up to the judgment of final hardness for such sins, than for others. Yet they are not peculiar to reprobates; there is but one sin that is so, viz. that against the Holy Ghost. And notwithstanding the sins which you have committed, if you can find it in your hearts to come to Christ, and close with him, you will be accepted not at all the less readily because you have committed such sins.–Though God cloth more rarely cause some sorts of sinners to come to Christ than others, it is not because his mercy or the redemption of Christ is not as sufficient for them as others, but because in wisdom he sees fit so to dispense his grace, for a restraint upon the wickedness of men; and because it is his will to give converting grace in the use of means, among which this is one, viz. to lead a moral and religious life, and agreeable to our light, and the convictions of our consciences. But when once any sinner is willing to come to Christ, mercy is as ready for him as for any. There is no consideration at all had of his sins; let him have been ever so sinful, his sins are not remembered; God doth not upbraid him with them.

III. But had I not better stay till I shall have made myself better, before I presume to come to Christ. I have been, and see myself to be very wicked now; but am in hopes of mending myself, and rendering myself at least not so wicked: then I shall have more courage to come to God for mercy.–In answer to this,

1. Consider how unreasonably you act. You are striving to set up yourselves for your own saviours; you are striving to get something of your own, on the account of which you may the more readily be accepted. So that by this it appears that you do not seek to be accepted only on Christ’s account. And is not this to rob Christ of the glory of being your only Saviour? Yet this is the way in which you are hoping to make Christ willing to save you.

2. You can never come to Christ at all, unless you first see that he will not accept of you the more readily for any thing that you can do. You must first see, that it is utterly in vain for you to try to make yourselves better on any such account. You must see that you can never make yourselves any more worthy, or less unworthy, by any thing which you can perform.

3. If ever you truly come to Christ, you must see that there is enough in him for your pardon, though you be no better than you are. If you see not the sufficiency of Christ to pardon you, without any righteousness of your own to recommend you, you never will come so as to be accepted of him. The way to be accepted is to come–not on any such encouragement, that now you have made yourselves better, and more worthy, or not so unworthy, but–on the mere encouragement of Christ’s worthiness, and God’s mercy.

4. If ever you truly come to Christ, you must come to him to make you better. You must come as a patient comes to his physician, with his diseases or wounds to be cured. Spread all your wickedness before him, and do not plead your goodness; but plead your badness, and your necessity on that account: and say, as the psalmist in the text, not Pardon mine iniquity, for it is not so great as it was, but, ” Pardon mine iniquity, for it is Great.”