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CH A P. VI.
Now proceed to consider the arguments taken from reason, against the doctrine of the saints
perseverance : to which will be added, those that proceed upon racional accounts, in favour of it ; with a vindication of such as are excepted to. I shall begin with the arguments or objections against it. And,
I. It is objected, that this doctrine
gives a great encouragement to those, who have once gotten an opinion that they are the children of God, to indulge themselves in the like iniquities, (that is, such as Lot, David, Solomon, and Peter committed) as being never able to separate them from the love of God." To which
To which may be replied, That tho' the fins committed by the persons mentioned, were of such a nature, that those who do the like, and die
Whitby, p. 487. Ed. 2. 466.
without repentance for them, and faith in the blood and sacrifice of Christ, have no inheritance in the kingdom of God and Christ, to which the law of Moses threatned death, without admission of any atonement by sacrifice, and the severest of God's judgments; yet the persons of these men being high in the favour of God, remained so, when these fins of theirs were abominable in his fight, displeasing to him, and resented by him. He visted their transgresion with a rod, and their iniquity with stripes ; neverthelejs his loving-kindness he did not utterly, nor at all, take from them, nor suffer his faithfulness to faile. Thele instances of the falls of good men, are not recorded to encourage men in fin, but to caution against it, and to set forth the free, unchangeable, and everlasting love of God, in pardoning and accepting his people, notwithstanding their aggravated transgressions, and so to encourage souls distressed with fin. What use such persons may make of this doctrine, to indulge themselves in fin, who have only gocten an opinion that they are the children of God, I know not ; however, I am sure, that those who are the children of God by faith, or who have reason to believe, and do believe that they are so, or who have received the Spirit of adopcion, witnessing their son
Pfal. lxxxix. 327, 33.
ship to them, under the influence of that spirit, neicher can nor will make any such use of it. Nothing has a greater tendency to promote holiness of heart and life, than the absolute promises of God, respecting grace and glory, the assurance of adoption, the certainty of perseverance to the end, and che sure enjoyment of eternal life. Now are we the fons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be, but we know, that when he shall appear we mall be like bim, for we shall see him as he is, and every man that hath this bope in bim, purifieth bimself, even as he is puref. The force of the prohibitions of sin, of exhortations to avoid it, and of cautions to resist and flee from temptations to commit it, is not abated by this doctrine of the saints perseverance; feeing these things are made use of by the spirit of God with great energy and power, as means in order to the thing it felf. How preposterous and irrational must it be in a man, who thinks himself to be a child of God, and believes he shall persevere to the end, from this consideration to indulge himself in all manner of fin, as resolving that he will persevere no longer ?
II. It is said $, that this doctrine « leflens the force of all the motives offered in the scrip-:
John jii. 2, 3.
wbitby, p. 488. Ed. 2. 467.
rure, to engage us to persevere in righteousness and goodness, and to have our fruit unto boliness; that the end may be eternal life." I answer, The doctrine of the perseverance of the saints, and the absolute promises of God concerning their everlasting safety and happiness, are so far from leflening the force of scripture motives to righteousness and holiness, that they are made use of in scripture to encourage the saints to the : practice of them, and to engage them to continue in them. The apostles did not judge it irrational to argue from them to this purpose; nor did they think that hope and fear were excluded by them, when they reason after this manner : Having therefore these promises (dearly beloved) let us cleanse our Jélves from all filthiness of the flesk and Spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God". Should it be asked what promises these were? they were such as these ; I will dwell in them, and walk in them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people, and I will be a father unto you, and je shall be my fons and daughters, faith the Lord Almighty, . So the apostle Peter, having asserted that the elect of God, and such as are begoçien again through abundant mercy, are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation, proceeds to exhort them to gird up the loins of their mind, to be sober, and hope to the end, and to pass the time of their sojourning bere in feart; not once imagining that the force of these exhortations was lefsened or weakened by the doctrine he had before advanced ; or that this left no room for hope and fear, and the proper exercise of them.
b 2 Cor. vii. 1.
2 Cor. vi. 16, 18.
III. It is urged', That “ it seems not well confistent with the truth, righteousness and holiness of God, 'to give an absolute assurance of his favour, and the fruition of himself for ever to any creature, tho he fall into the fins fore-mentioned.” For God to give an absolute promise of his favour, and the fruition of himself for ever, can never be inconsistent with his cruth, righteousness and holiness. The seeming inconsistency lies in his giving such affurance to any of his creatures, tho' they fall into fin. That God has given an affurance of his everlasting favour and loving-kindness to his children, tho' they fall into fin, is certain. If his children, says he, forfake my law, and walk not in my judgments, if they break my statutes, and keep not my commandments, then will I visit their transgress fion with the rod, and their iniquity with Aripes ; nevertheless, my loving-kindness I will
k 1 Pet. i. 2, 3, 5, 13, 17.,
witby, p. 488. Ed. 2. 467.