Doctrine of the Saints’ Perseverance Explained and Confirmed

Table of Contents

Title Page






John Owen

Original title page.


The Saints' Perseverance




Explained and Confirmed.


The certain Permanency of their 1. Acceptation with GOD, & 2. Sanctification from GOD.





1. THE IMMUTABILITY of the 1. Nature 2. Decrees 3. Covenant and 4. Promiſes Of GOD.


3. The 1. Promiſes 2. Exhortations 3. Threats Of The GOSPELL.

Improved in its Genuine Tendency to Obedience

and Conſolation.


In a Full Anſwer to the Diſcourſe of Mr JOHN GOODWIN againſt it, in his Book Entituled Redemption Redeemed.

With ſome DIGRESSIONS Concerning

1. The Immediate effects of the Death of Chriſt. 2. Perſonall Indwelling of the Spirit. 3. Union with Chriſt. 4. Nature of Goſpell promiſes, &c.


Manifeſting the Judgement of the Antients concerning the Truth contended for: with a Diſcourſe touching the Epiſtles of IGNATIUS; The EPISCOPACY in them Aſſerted; and ſome Animadverſions on Dr H: H: his Diſſertations on that Subject.

By JOHN OWEN Servant of Jeſus Chriſt in the Worke of the Goſpell.


Printed by LEON. LICHFIELD Printer to the Univerſity, for Tho. Robinſon.

Anno Dom: 1654.

Prefatory note.

|And he said unto him, Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine.| — Luke 15:31.

John Goodwin, in reply to whom the following large treatise on the Doctrine of the Perseverance of the Saints was written, has been aptly described by Calamy as “a man by himself.” An Arminian in creed, an Independent in church-government, and a Republican in politics, “he was against every man, and had almost every man against him.” Estranged, by a singular idiosyncrasy of opinions, from all the leading parties of his time, dying in such obscurity that no record of the circumstances in which he left the world has been transmitted, stigmatized with unmerited reproach by the chief historian of his age, and long reputed the very type of extravagance and eccentricity in religion and politics, he has been more recently claimed as the precursor of a most influential religious body, and all honour rendered to him as the Wycliffe of Methodism, — anticipating the theological views of its founder, Wesley, and redeeming them from the charge of novelty. Stronger expressions of respect and praise Goodwin never received from his contemporaries than are to be found in the pages of his antagonist, Owen, who, eulogizing his “worth,” his “diligence,” and his “great abilities,” affirms that “nothing not great, not considerable, not in some way eminent, is by any spoken of him, either consenting with him or dissenting from him.”

He was born in Norfolk in 1593, was made a Fellow of Queen’s College, Cambridge, in 1617, and in 1633, as the choice of the parishioners, was presented to the vicarage of St Stephen’s, Coleman Street, London. He escaped the vengeance of Laud, for some “breach of the canons,” by the premise of amendment and submission for the future. He published in a treatise on justification, entitled “Imputatio Fidei;” in which he maintains that faith, not the righteousness of Christ, “is that which God imputes to a believer for righteousness.” Having rendered himself obnoxious to the Presbyterians during their brief supremacy, partly by his doctrinal sentiments, and partly by his literary efforts against them, he lost his vicarage by a decision of the Committee for Plundered Ministers, in 1645; but he appears to have been reinstated in it during the ascendency of Cromwell, whom he had effectually served by some pamphlets justifying the proceedings of the army against the Parliament in 1648: and more especially by a tract entitled “The Obstructors of Justice,” in which he defended the High Court of Justice in passing sentence of death against Charles I. On the Restoration, by an order of the House of Commons, proceedings were instituted conjointly against John Milton and John Goodwin, for the same crime of publishing in vindication of the king’s death. After a debate of several hours, it was agreed in Parliament that the life of Goodwin should be spared; but as he was declared incapable of holding any office, ecclesiastical, civil, or military, he was again deprived of his vicarage. His death took place in 1665. His private character seems to have been beyond reproach. The odium resting on his memory must be ascribed chiefly to his defence of the execution of Charles I., and to the statements of Bishop Burnet respecting his connection with the Fifth-monarchy Men. On the former point many good men privately held the same opinion as Goodwin; and some, such as Canne and Milton, published in defence of it. When Burnet accuses him of being “thorough-paced in temporal matters” for Cromwell, there might be a colour of truth in the charge: but when he speaks of Goodwin as “heading” the Fifth-monarchy Men, filling all men with the expectation of a millennium, “that it looked like a madness possessing them,” and representing kingship as “the great antichrist that hindered Christ being set on his throne;” and when Toplady, improving upon the story, insinuates that Venner, the leader of these fanatics in their insurrection preached and held his meetings in Goodwin’s place of worship, for no reason that we can discover but that Goodwin and Venner seem to have held their meetings in the same street, we are constrained to question both the accuracy of the statement as well as the spirit from which it emanated. His enemies, such as Prynne and Edwards, never in all they wrote against him urged such an accusation. In his own writings he affirms the lawfulness of civil magistracy, and of monarchy in particular; and in some of his tracts condemns the excesses of the Fifth-monarchy Men. The specific statements of Burnet, however, cannot well be met by a general charge against him as an inaccurate historian. Mr Macaulay has thrown over the bishop the shield of his high authority, denouncing such a charge as “altogether unjust.” Goodwin may have held some millenarian views akin to the notion of a fifth monarchy, while he blames in severe terms the attempt to forestall and introduce it by violence and bloodshed. In one of the passages from his writings, quoted by Professor Jackson, in his able but somewhat impassioned biography of Goodwin, in order to disprove his connection with the Fifth-monarchy Men, there is a sentence which, discriminating the dogma itself from the excesses of its abettors, sustains our conjecture, and we have seen nothing in the other passages inconsistent with it:— “Amongst the persons known by the name of the Fifth-monarchy Men (not so much from their opinion touching the said monarchy, as by that fierce and restless spirit which worketh in them to bring it into the world by unhallowed methods), you will learn to speak evil of those that are in dignity,” etc. On this supposition, while committed to some premillennial notions, on which the representations of the bishop were founded, Goodwin might be altogether undeserving of the odious imputation which they affix upon his memory.

It was no weak fanatic, therefore, against whom Owen in this instance entered the lists. His work, “Redemption Redeemed,” is a monument of literary diligence and ability; and Owen seems almost to envy the copious and powerful diction which enlivens its controversial details. It was his intention to discuss all the points embraced in the Quinquarticular Controversy; but he overtook only two of them in the work now mentioned, — universal redemption, and the perseverance of the saints. The latter topic, occupying about a third part of his work, naturally arose out of the former, when he sought to prove that Christ died for those who ultimately perish, even though for a season they may have been in a state of grace. Owen, in his reply, confines himself to the subject of the perseverance of the saints; first proving the doctrine by general arguments, and then considering its practical effects in the obedience and consolation of the saints, a minute refutation of Goodwin’s views being interwoven with both parts of his work. On the subject of universal redemption our author had already given his views to the world in his treatise, “The Death of Death,” etc. Long as the following treatise is, however, he intimates his desire to enter still farther on some points in which he was at issue with Goodwin. Though the present work was written while he was burdened with heavy duties as Vice-Chancellor at Oxford, the former part of it is prepared with sufficient care, and relieved with some sprightliness in the composition. The leading fallacy of his opponent, in supposing that the perseverance of the saints implied the continuance of men in gracious privilege though they should become wicked to a degree incompatible with genuine faith, and evincing that they never possessed it, — a fallacy which begs the whole question in dispute, — he compares to “a sturdy beggar,” which hath been “often corrected, and sent away grumbling and hungry, and, were it not for pure necessity, would never once be owned any more by its master.” The latter part of the work, though able and dexterous in tracking all the sinuosities of the opposing arguments, betrays haste in composition, occasioning unusual difficulty in eliciting, by amended punctuation, the real meaning of many paragraphs and sentences; and the termination is singularly abrupt. He had reserved one of his principal arguments, founded on the oath of God, for the close, as entitled to the “honour of being the last word in the contest;” but concludes without giving it any place in the discussion at all. Perhaps this haste and abruptness are to be explained by the fact that before he had finished this work, the commands of the Council of State were laid upon him to undertake a reply to the Socinian productions of Biddle; — a task which he executed at great length in his “Vindiciæ Evangelicæ.” On the whole, however, in regard to the present work, there is no treatise in the language so conclusive and so complete in vindication of the doctrine which it is designed to illustrate and defend.

In the preface a historical account is given of the doctrine from the earliest ages of the church. The confusion alleged to exist in it is not very perplexing, if attention be paid to the “catena patrum,” — the succession of authors to whom he appeals in proof of what the view of the church has been in past ages on the subject of the doctrine under consideration. It is embarrassed, however, by a discussion of the authenticity of the Ignatian Epistles; on which, at the close of the preface, we have appended a note, indicating the present state of the controversy respecting them. The leading head-lines we have given to each chapter will enable the reader, it is hoped, to follow with greater ease the course of discussion. An exact copy of the original title-page has been prefixed; — the only one in our author’s works worth preserving, as curious in itself, and containing his own analysis of the work to which it belongs.

Besides this work of Owen, in reply to Goodwin the following authors appeared:— Dr George Kendall, rector of Blisland, near Bodmin in Cornwall, in two folio volumes, “Theocratia, or a Vindication of the Doctrine commonly received,” etc., 1653, and “Sancti Sanciti,” etc.; Thomas Lamb, a Baptist minister, in his “Absolute Freedom from Sin by Christ’s Death,” etc., 1656; Robert Baillie, Principal of Glasgow University, in his “Scotch Antidote against the English Infection of Arminianism,” etc., 1656; Richard Resbury, vicar of Oundle, in his “Some Stop to the Gangrene of Arminianism,” etc., 1651, whom Goodwin answered in his “Confidence Dismounted,” and who again published in reply, “The Lightless Star;” Henry Jeanes, rector of Chedsey, who published “A Vindication of Dr Twisse from the Exceptions of Mr John Goodwin;” and Mr John Pawson, in a sermon under the title of “A Vindication of Free Grace.”

In 1658 Goodwin replied to most of these publications in a quarto of five hundred pages, entitled “Triumviri,” etc. In regard to the following treatise, “he returns,” says Owen, in an epistle dedicatory to his work on the Divine Original of the Scriptures, “a scoffing reply to so much of it as was written in a quarter of an hour.”


After a careful definition of the terms employed in the controversy, the statement by Mr Goodwin of the question at issue is objected to, and another proposed as more correct, founded upon a passage in Scripture, Isa. iv. 5. Chap. i.

Five leading arguments are adduced in proof of the perseverance of the saints:— It is argued, 1. From the divine nature as immutable; under which head the following passages are considered, Mal. iii. 6; James i. 16–18; Rom. xi. 29; Isa. xl. 27–31, xliv. 1–8. 2. From the divine purpose as immutable; and here Scripture is first cited to prove the general immutability of the divine purposes, Isa. xlvi. 9–11; Ps. xxxiii. 9–11, etc.; — and then the special purpose of God to continue his grace to true believers is proved by such passages as Rom. viii. 28; Jer. xxxi. 3; John vi. 37–40; Matt. xxiv. 24; Eph. i. 3–5; 2 Thess. ii. 13, 14. 3. From the covenant of grace, the enduring character and the infallible accomplishment of which are proved by the removal of all causes of change by it, the stipulations of Christ as mediator in it, and the faithfulness of God. 4. From the promises of God, which are generally described, and, as intimating the perseverance of the saints, proved to be unconditional, the following promises to this effect receiving full elucidation: Josh. i. 5; Heb. xiii. 5; 1 Sam. xii. 22; Ps. lxxxix. 30–37; Hos. ii. 19, 20; John x. 27–29. At this point the consideration of the oath of God is deferred, under promise of entering upon it at the close of the discussion; — a promise which the author omits to fulfil. Two interesting digressions follow, affording separate arguments in support of the doctrine; — on the mediation of Christ, as comprehending his oblation and intercession, and on the indwelling of the Spirit. And here the first part of the work concludes. Chap. ii.–ix.

The second part consists in the improvement of the doctrine, by showing how it conduces to the obedience and consolation of the saints, chap. x., and in a refutation of the following arguments of Mr Goodwin in support of the opposite doctrine, — namely, 1. That it is more effectual in promoting godliness; 2. That it does not make God an accepter of persons; 3. That it has been the doctrine of the most pious men in all ages; 4. That it imparts greater power to the exhortations of the gospel; 5. That upon such a principle alone eternal life can be legitimately promised as the reward of perseverance; 6. That it is proved by the sins into which believers undoubtedly fall; 7. That it tends to the consolation of the saints; and, lastly, That it is affirmed in eight passages of Scripture, Ezek. xviii. 24, 25; Matt. xviii. 32–35; 1 Cor. ix. 27; Heb. vi. 4–8, x. 26–29, 38, 39; Matt. xiii. 20, 21; 2 Pet. ii. 18–22. Chap. xi.-xvii. — Ed.


To his highness Oliver, Lord-Protector of the Commonwealth of England, Scotland, and Ireland, with the dominions thereof.


The wise man tells us that “no man knoweth love or hatred by all that is before him.” The great variety wherein God dispenseth outward things in the world, with the many changes and alterations which, according to the counsel of his will, he continually works in the dispensations of them, will not allow them nakedly in themselves to be evidences of the Fountain from whence they flow. Seeing, also, that the want or abundance of them may equally, by the goodness and wisdom of God, be ordered and cast into a useful subserviency to a good infinitely transcending what is or may be contained in them, there is no necessity that in the distribution of them God should walk according to any constant uniform law of procedure, all the various alterations about them answering one eternal purpose for a determinate end. Of spiritual good things there is another reason and condition; for as they are in themselves fruits, evidences, and pledges, of an eternal, unchangeable love, so the want of them in their whole kind being not capable of a tendency to a greater good than they are, the dispensation of them doth so far answer the eternal Spring and Fountain from whence it floweth as, in respect of its substance and being, not to be obnoxious to any alteration. This is that which in the ensuing treatise is contended for. In the midst of all the changes and mutations which the infinitely wise providence of God doth daily effect in the greater and lesser things of this world, as to the communication of his love in Jesus Christ, and the merciful, gracious distributions of the unsearchable riches of grace, and the hid treasures thereof purchased by his blood, he knows no repentance. Of both these you have had full experience; and though your concernment in the former hath been as eminent as that of any person whatever in these later ages of the world, yet your interest in and acquaintance with the latter is, as of incomparable more importance in itself, so answerably of more value and esteem unto you. A sense of the excellency and sweetness of unchangeable love, emptying itself in the golden oil of distinguishing spiritual mercies, is one letter of that new name which none can read but he that hath it. The series and chain of eminent providences whereby you have been carried on and protected in all the hazardous work of your generation, which your God hath called you unto, is evident to all. Of your preservation by the power of God, through faith, in a course of gospel obedience, upon the account of the immutability of the love and infallibility of the promises of God, which are yea and amen in Jesus Christ, your own soul only is possessed with the experience. Therein is that abiding joy, that secret refreshment, which the world cannot give. That you and all the saints of God may yet enjoy that peace and consolation which is in believing that the eternal love of God is immutable, that he is faithful in his promises, that his covenant, ratified in the death of his Son, is unchangeable, that the fruits of the purchase of Christ shall be certainly bestowed on all them for whom he died, and that every one who is really interested in these things shall be kept unto salvation, is the aim of my present plea and contest. That I have taken upon me to present my weak endeavours in this cause of God to your Highness is so far forth from my persuasion of your interest in the truth contended for (and than which you have none more excellent or worthy), that without it no other considerations whatever, either of that dignity and power whereunto of God you are called, or of your peculiar regard to that society of men whereof I am an unworthy member, or any other personal respects whatever, could have prevailed with or emboldened me thereunto. “Sancta sanctis.” The things I treat of are such as sometimes “none of the princes of this world knew,” and as yet few of them are acquainted with. Blessed are they who have their portion in them! When the urgency of your high and important affairs, wherein so many nations are concerned, will lend you so much leisure as to take a view of what is here tendered, the knowledge which you have of me will deliver you from a temptation of charging any weakness you may meet withal upon the doctrine which I assert and maintain; and so that may “run and be glorified,” whatever become of the nothing that I have done in the defence thereof, I shall be abundantly satisfied. That is the shield, which being safe, I can with contentment see these papers die. Unto your Highness I have not any thing more to add, nor for you greater thing to pray, than that you may be established in the assurance and sense of that unchangeable love and free acceptance in Christ which I contend for, and that therein you may be preserved, to the glory of God, the advancement of the gospel, and the real advantage of these nations.

Your Highness’s most humble and most faithful servant,

John Owen.

Epistle dedicatory.

To the right worshipful, his reverend, learned and worthy friends and brethren, the heads and governors of the colleges and halls in the University of Oxford.

A preface to the reader.


If thy inquiry be only after the substance of the truth in the ensuing treatise contended for, I desire thee not to stay at all upon this preliminary discourse, but to proceed thither where it is expressly handled from the Scriptures, without the intermixture of any human testimonies or other less necessary circumstances, wherein perhaps many of them may not be concerned whose interest yet lies in the truth itself, and it is precious to their souls. That which now I intend and aim at is, to give an account to the learned reader of some things nearly relating to the doctrine whose protection, in the strength of Him who gives to his [servants] suitable helps for the works and employments he calls them to, I have undertaken, and what entertainment it hath formerly found and received in the church, and among the saints of God. For the accomplishment of this intendment a brief mention of the doctrine itself will make way. Whom in this controversy we intend by the names of “saints” and “believers,” the treatise following will abundantly manifest. The word perseverantia is of most known use in ecclesiastical writers: Austin hath a book with the inscription of it on its forehead. The word in the New Testament signifying the same thing is ἐπιμονή. Of them that followed Paul, it is said that he “persuaded them ἐπιμένειν τῇ χάριτι τοῦ Θεοῦ,” Acts xiii. 43; that is, “to persevere.” Ὑπομονή is of the same import: Ὁ δὲ ὑπομείνας εἰς τέλος οὗτος σωθήσεται, Matt. x. 22, — “He that persevereth to the end.” The Vulgar Latin renders that word almost constantly by persevero. Καρτερία is a word also of the same signification, and which the Scripture useth to express the same thing. Κράτος is sometimes by a metathesis expressed κάρτος· thence is κάρτα, valde; and καρτερέω, spoken of him who is of a valiant, resolved mind. “By faith Moses left Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king, τὸν γὰρ ἀόρατον ὡς ὁρῶν ἐκαρτέρησε,” Heb. xi. 27; — “As eyeing the Invisible, he endured (his trial) with a constant, valiant mind.” Προσκαρτερέω from thence is most frequently to persevere, Acts i. 14; and Ἦσαν δὲ προσκαρτεροῦντες τῇ διδαχῇ τῶν ἀποστόλων, Acts ii. 42, — “They persevered in the doctrine of the apostles.” Προσκαρτέρησις, once used in the New Testament, is rendered by our translators, “perseverance,” Eph. vi. 18. In what variety of expression the thing is revealed in the Scripture is in the treatise itself abundantly declared. The Latin word is classical: persevero is constanter sum severus. In that sense, as Seneca says, “Res severa est verum gaudium.” Its extreme in excess is pertinacy, if these are not rather distinguished from their objects than in themselves. Varro, lib. iv. De Ling. Lat., tells us that pertinacia is a continuance or going on in that wherein one ought not to continue or proceed; perseverantia is that whereby any one continues in that wherein he ought so to do. Hence is that definition of it commonly given by the schoolmen from Austin, lib. lxxxiii. qu. 31, who took it from Cicero (one they little acquainted themselves withal), lib. ii. De Invent. cap. liv. It is, say they, “In ratione bene consideratâ stabilis et perpetua permansio.”

And this at present may pass for a general description of it that is used in an ethical and evangelical sense. Perseverance was accounted a commendable thing among philosophers. Morally, perseverance is that part of fortitude whereby the mind is established in the performance of any good and necessary work, notwithstanding the assaults and opposition it meets withal, with that tediousness and wearisomeness which the protraction of time in the pursuit of any affairs is attended withal. Aristotle informs us that it is exercised about things troublesome, lib. vii. cap. vi., Eth. Nicom., giving a difference between continence with its opposite vice, and forbearance or perseverance: Τούτων δ’ ὁ μεν περὶ ἡδονὰς, ἀκρατὴς, ὁ δ’ ἐγκρατής. Ὁ δὲ περὶ λύπας μαλακὸς, ὁ δὲ καρτερικός. He that abides in his undertaken work, so it be good and honest, notwithstanding that trouble and perplexity he may meet withal, is καρτερικός. Hence he tells us that καρτερικῶς ζῇν, as well as σωφρόνως, is not pleasant to many, lib. x. cap. ix.; and that because so to live implies difficulty and opposition. And he also, as Varro in the place above mentioned, distinguishes it from pertinacy. And of men infected with that depraved habit of mind he says there are three sorts, ἰδιογνώμονες, ἀμαθεῖς, and ἄγροικοι. All these are, in his judgment, ἰσχυρογνώμονες, Nicom., lib. vii. cap. ix.; which perverse disposition of spirit he there dearly manifests to be sufficiently differenced from a stable, resolved frame of mind, whatever it may resemble it in. Now, though there is no question but that of two persons continuing in the same work or opinion, one may do it out of pertinacy, the other out of perseverance, yet amongst men, who judge of the minds of others by their fruits, and of the acts of their minds by their objects, these two dispositions or habits are universally distinguished, as before by Varro. Hence the terms of “pertinacy” and “obstinacy” being thrust into the definition of heresy by them who renounce any infallible living judge and determiner in matters of faith, to make way for the inflicting of punishment on the entertainers and maintainers thereof. They take no thought of proving it such, but only because it is found in persons embracing such errors. The same affection of mind, with the same fruits and demonstrations of it, in persons embracing the truth, would by the same men he termed perseverance. But this is not that whereof I treat.

Evangelical perseverance is from the Scripture at large explained in the book itself. As it relates to our acceptation with God, and the immutability of justification (which is the chief and most eminent part of the doctrine contended for), as it hath no conformity in any thing with the moral perseverance before described, so indeed it is not comprehended in that strict notion and signification of the word itself which denotes the continuation of some act or acts in us, and not the uninterruptibleness of any act of God. This, then, is the cause of perseverance, rather than perseverance itself, yet such a cause as being established, the effect will certainly and uncontrollably ensue. They who go about to assert a perseverance of saints cut off from the absolute unchangeableness of the decree, purpose, and love of God, attended with a possibility of a contrary event, and that not only in respect of the free manner of its carrying on, whereby he that wills to persevere may not will so to do, but also in respect of the issue and end itself, will, I doubt not, if they are serious in what they pretend, find themselves entangled in their undertaking. As perseverance is a grace in the subjects on whom it is bestowed, so it relates either to the spiritual habit of faith or the principle of new life they have received from God, or to the actual performance of those duties wherein they ought to abide. In the first sense it consists in the point of being or not being. Whilst the habit of faith remains, there is in respect thereof an uninterrupted perseverance in him in whom it is; and this we contend for. As it respects actions flowing from that habit and principle, it expatiates itself in a large field; for as it imports not at all a perpetual performance of such acts without intermission (which were naturally as well as spiritually impossible, whilst we carry about us a “body of death”), so neither doth it necessarily imply a constant tenor of proceeding in the performance of them, but is consistent with a change in degrees of performance, and in other respects also not now to be insisted on. Perseverance in this sense being the uninterrupted continuance of habitual grace in the hearts of believers, without intercision, with such a walking in obedience as God, according to the tenor of the new covenant, will accept, upon the whole of the matter it is in its own nature (as every thing else is that hath not its being from itself) liable and obnoxious to alteration; and therefore must be built and reposed on that which is in itself immutable, that it may be rendered, on that supposition, immutable also. Therefore is perseverance in this sense resolved into that cause of it before mentioned; which to do is the chief endeavour of the following treatise. Of the groundlessness of their opinion who, granting final perseverance, do yet plead for the possibility of a final apostasy and an intercision of faith, no more need be spoken but what, upon the account last mentioned, hath been argued already. Some discourses have passed both of old and of late concerning the nature of this perseverance, and wherein it doth properly consist. Many affirm it not really to differ from the habit of faith and love itself; for which Bradwardin earnestly contends, lib. ii. De Cau. Dei. cap. vii., concluding his disputation, that “Perseverantia habitualis est justitia habitualiter preservata; perseverantia actualis est justitiæ perseverantia actualis, ipsum vero perseverare, est justitiam præservare;” whereupon (“suo more:”) he infers this corollary: “Quod nomen perseverantiæ nullam rem absolutam essentialiter significat, sed accidentaliter, et relative, charitatem videlicet, sive justitiam, cum respectu futuræ permansionis continue usque in finem; et quod non improbabiliter posset dici perseverantiam esse ipsam relationem hujus.” And therefore in the next chapter, to that objection, “If perseverance be no more but charity or righteousness, then every one that hath once obtained these, or true grace, must also persevere,” he returns no answer at all, plainly insinuating his judgment to be so; of which afterward. And therefore he spends his 13th chapter of the same book to prove that the Holy Spirit is that “auxilium,” as he called it, whereby any persevere. And, chap. i., he resolves all preservation from being overcome by temptation, or not being tempted to a prevalency (the same for substance with perseverance), into the will and purpose of God. “Quicunque,” saith he, “non tentatur, hoc necessario est a deo, quod non tentatur. Sicut 11a pars 13i primi probat; et per 22um primi, Deus necessario habet aliquem actum voluntatis circa talem non tentationem, et non nolitionem, quia tunc per decimum primi non tentaretur, ergo volitionem, quæ per idem decimum ipsum tentari non sinit,” etc. Others render it as a gift superadded to faith and love; of which judgment Austin seems to have been, who is followed by sundry of the schoolmen, with many of the divines of the reformed churches. Hence is that conclusion of Alvarez, De Auxil., lib. x. disp. 103, “Secundum fidem catholicam asserendum est, præter gratiam habitualem et virtutes infusas esse necessarium ad perseverandum in bono usque in finem auxilium speciale, supernaturale scilicet donum perseverantiæ.” And of this proposition he says, “In hac omnes catholici conveniunt.” Of the same judgment was his master, Thomas, lib. 3 Con. Gen. cap. clv.; where, also, he gives this reason of his opinion: “Illud quod natura sua est variabile, ad hoc quod figatur in uno, indiget auxilio alicujus moventis immobilis; sed liberum arbitrium, etiam existens in gratia habituali, ad huc manet variabile, et flexibile a bono in malum: ergo ad hoc quod figatur in bono, et perseveret in illo usque ad finem, indiget speciali Dei auxilio:” — the same argument having been used before him by Bradwardin, though to another purpose, namely, not to prove perseverance to be a superadded gift to saving grace, which, as before was observed, he denied, but to manifest that it was immediately and wholly from God. His words are, lib. ii. cap. viii., Corol., “Sicut secundum primi docet, omne quod est naturale, et non est per se tale, seal est mutabile in non tale, si manere debeat immutatum, oportet quod innitatur continue alicui per se fixo; quare et continue quilibit justus Deo.” The same schoolmen also (a generation of men exceeding ready to speak of any thing, though they know not what they speak nor whereof they affirm) go yet farther, some of them, and will distinguish between the gift of perseverance and the gift [of] confirmation in grace! He before mentioned, after a long dispute (namely, 104), concludes: “Ex his sequitur differentiam inter donum perseverantiæ et confirmationis in gratia” (he means that which is granted in via) “in hoc consistere, quod donum perseverantiæ nullam perfectionem intrinsecam constituit in ipsa gratia habituali, quod tamen perfectionem intrinsecam illi tribuit confirmatio in gratia.” What this intrinsical perfection of habitual grace, given it by confirmation, is, he cannot tell; for in those who are so confirmed in grace he asserts only an impeccability upon supposition, and that not alone from their intrinsical principle, as it is with the blessed in heaven, but from help and assistance also daily communicated from without. Durandus, in 3 d. 3 q. 4, assigns the deliverance from sin, which those who are confirmed in grace do obtain, unto the Holy Ghost. So far well; but he kicks down his milk by his addition, that he doth it only by the removal of all occasion of sin. But of these persons, and their judgment on the point under debate, more afterward.

For the thing itself last proposed, on what foot of account it is placed, and on what foundation asserted, the treatise itself will discover. That the thing aimed at is not to be straitened or restrained to any one peculiar act of grace will easily appear. The main foundation of that which we plead for is the eternal purpose of God, which his own nature requireth to be absolutely immutable and irreversible. The eternal act of the will of God designing some to salvation by Christ, infallibly to be obtained, for “the praise of the glory of his grace,” is the bottom of the whole, even that foundation which standeth for ever, having this seal, “The Lord knoweth them that are his.” For the accomplishment of this eternal purpose, and for the procurement of all the good things that lie within the compass of its intendment, are the oblation and intercession, the whole mediatory undertaking of Christ, taking away sin, bringing in life and immortality, interposed, giving farther causal influence into the truth contended for. In him and for his sake, as God graciously, powerfully, and freely gives his Holy Spirit;, faith, and all the things that accompany salvation, unto all them whom he accepts and pardons, by his being made “sin for them” and “righteousness unto them;” so he takes them thereby into an everlasting covenant that shall not be broken, and hath therein given them innumerable promises that he will continue to be their God for ever, and preserve them to be, and in being, his people. To this end, because the principle of grace and living to him, as in them inherent, is a thing in its own nature, changeable and liable to failing, he doth, according to his promise, and for the accomplishment of his purpose, daily make out to them, by his Holy Spirit, from the great treasury and storehouse thereof, the Lord Jesus Christ, helps and supplies, increasing of faith, love, and holiness, recovering them from falls, healing their backslidings, strengthening them with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness; so preserving them by his power through faith unto salvation. And in this way of delivering the doctrine contended about, it is clearly made out that the disputes mentioned are as needless as groundless; so that we shall not need to take them into the state of the controversy in hand, though I shall have occasion once more to reflect upon them when I come to the consideration of the doctrine of the schoolmen in reference to the opinion proposed to debate. The main of our inquiry is after the purpose, covenant, and promises of God, the undertaking of Christ, the supplies of grace promised and bestowed in him; on which accounts we do assert and maintain that all true believers, — who are, in being so, interested in all those causes of preservation, — shall infallibly be preserved unto the end in the favour of God, and in such a course of gospel obedience as he will accept in Jesus Christ.

That, as was formerly said, which at present I aim at in reference to this truth is, to declare its rise and progress, its course and opposition, which it hath found in several ages of the church, with its state and condition at this day, in respect of acceptance with the people of God.

Its rise, with all other divine truths, it owes only to revelation from God, manifested in the scriptures of the Old and New Testament. Some of the most eminent places wherein it is delivered in the Old Testament are, Gen. iii. 15, xvii. 1; Deut. xxxiii. 3; Josh. i. 5; 1 Sam. xii. 22; Ps. i. 3, xxiii. 4, 6, xxxvii. 39, 40, lii. 8, 9, lxxxix. 31–36, xxxiii. 9–11, xcii. 12, etc.; Isa. xxvii. 3, xlvi. 4, lix. 21, liv. 9, 10, iv. 5, 6, xl. 27–31, xliii. 1–7; Jer. iii. 23, xxxi. 31–34, xxxii. 38–40; Ezek. xxxvi. 25–27; Hos. ii. 19, 20; Zech. x. 12; Mal. iii. 6, with innumerable other places. In the New Testament God hath not left this truth and work of his grace without witness; as in sundry other places, so it is testified unto Matt. vi. 13, vii. 24, 25, xii. 20, xvi. 18, xxiv. 24; Luke i. 70–75, viii. 8, xxii. 32; John iii. 36, iv. 13, 14, v. 24, vi. 35–57, vii. 38, 39, viii. 35, 36, x. 27–30, xiii. 1, xiv. 15–17, xvi. 27, xvii. throughout; Acts ii. 47, xiii. 48; Rom. vi. 14, viii. 1, 16, 17, 28–34, etc.; 1 Cor. i. 8, 9, x. 13, 14, xv. 49, 58; 2 Cor. i. 21, 22; Eph. i. 13, 14, iii. 17, iv. 30, v. 25–27; Gal. ii. 20; Phil. i. 6, ii. 13; 1 Thess. v. 24; 2 Tim. iv. 17, 18; Titus i. 1; Heb. vi. 19, x. 38, 39, xii. 9, 10, xiii. 5; 1 Pet. i. 2–5; 1 John ii. 19, 27, iii. 9, 19, v. 13, 18; Jude 1; Rev. xx. 6. So plentifully hath the Lord secured this sacred truth, wherein he hath inwrapped so much (if not, as in the means of conveyance, the whole) of that peace, consolation, and joy, which he is willing the heirs of promise should receive. Whether the faith hereof, thus plentifully delivered to the saints, found acceptance with the primitive Christians, to the most of whom it was “given not only to believe but also to suffer for Christ,” to me is unquestionable. And I know no better proof of what those first churches did believe than by showing what they ought to believe; which I shall unquestionably be persuaded they did believe, unless most pregnant testimony be given of their apostasy. That Paul believed it for himself and concerning others is evident. Rom. viii. 38, 39; 1 Cor. i. 8, 9; Phil. i. 6; Heb. vi. 9, 10, are sufficient proof of his faith herein. That he built up others in the same persuasion, to the enjoyment of the same peace and assurance with himself, is undeniable. And if there be any demonstration to be made of the belief of the first Christians, if any evidence comparable unto this, I shall not deny but that it ought to be attended unto. But that we may not seem willing to decline the consideration of what those who went before us in the several ages and generations past apprehended, and have by any means communicated unto us of their thoughts, about the business of our contest (having no reason so to be), I shall, after a little preparation made to that work, present the reader with something of my observations to that end and purpose.

Of the authority of the ancients in matters of religion and the worship of God, of the right use and improvement of their writings, of the several considerations that are to be had and exercised by them who would read them with profit and advantage, after many disputes and contests between the Papists and divines of the reformed churches, the whole concernment of that controversy is so clearly stated, managed, and resolved by Monsieur Daillé, in his book of the “Right Use of the Fathers,” that I suppose all farther labour in that kind may be well spared. Those who intend to weigh their testimony to any head of Christian doctrine do commonly distinguish them into three great periods of time. The first of these is comprehensive of them who lived and wrote before the doctrine concerning which they are called out to give in their thoughts and verdict had received any signal opposition, and eminent discussion in the church on that account. Such are the writers of the first three hundred years, before the Nicene council, in reference to the doctrine of the Trinity; and so the succeeding writers, before the stating of the Macedonian, Eutychian, and Nestorian heresies. In the next are they ranked who bare the burden and heat of the opposition made to any truth, and on that occasion wrote expressly and at large on the controverted doctrines; which is the condition of Athanasius, Basil, Gregory, and some others, in that Arian controversy. And in the last place succeed those who lived after such concussions, which are of less or more esteem, according as the doctrines inquired after were less or more corrupted in the general apostasy of the latter days. According to this order, our first period of time will end with the rise of the Pelagian heresy, which gave occasion to the thorough, full, and clear discussion of the whole doctrine concerning the grace of God, whereof that in whose defence we are engaged is no small portion; the next, of those whom God raised up to make head against that subtle opposer of his grace, with his followers, during the space of a hundred years and somewhat onwards ensuing the promulgation of that heresy. What have been the thoughts of men in the latter ages until the Reformation, and of the Romanists since to this day, manifested in a few pregnant instances, will take up the third part of this design. Of the judgment of the Reformed Churches, as they are commonly called, I shall speak particularly in the close of this discourse. For the first of these: Not to insist on the paucity of writers in the first three hundred years, sundry single persons in the following ages have severally written three times as much as we have left and remaining of all the others (the names of many who are said to have written being preserved by Eusebius, Eccles. Hist., and Hierom, Lib. de Script., their writings being perished in their days), nor in general of that corruption whereunto they have almost every one of them been unquestionably exposed, I must be forced to preface the nomination of them with some considerations:—

1. The first [consideration will be found] in that known passage of Hegesippus, in Euseb. Hist. Eccles., lib. iii. cap. xxxii.: Ὡς ἄρα μέχρι τῶν τότε χρόνων, παρθένος καθαρὰ καὶ ἀδιάφθορος ἔμεινεν ἡ ἐκκλησία· — εἰς δ’ ὁ ἱερὸς τῶν ἀποστόλων χορὸς διάφορον εἴληφει τοῦ βίου τέλος, παρεληλύθει τὲ ἡ γενεὰ ἐκείνη τῶν αὐταῖς ἀκοαῖς τῆς ἐνθέου σοφίας ἐπακοῦσαι κατηξιωμένων, τηνικαῦτα τῆς ἀθέου πλάνης τὴν ἀρχὴν ἐλάμβανεν ἡ σύστασις, διὰ τῆς τῶν ἐτεροδιδασκάλων ἀπάτης, οἳ καὶ, ἄτε μηδενὸς ἔτι τῶν ἀποστόλων λειπομένου, γυμνῇ λοιπὸν ἤδν τῇ κεφαλῇ τῷ τῆς ἀληθείας κηρύγματι τὴν ψευδώνυμον γνῶσιν ἀντικηρύττειν ἐπεχείρουν. So far he, setting out the corruption of the church, even as to doctrine, immediately after the apostles fell asleep; whereof whosoever will impartially, and with disengaged judgment, search into the writings of those days that do remain, will perhaps find more cause than is commonly imagined with him to complain.

2. The main work of the writers of the first ages being to contend with heathenish idolaters, to convince them of their madness and folly; to write apologies for the worship of God in Christ in general, so to dissuade their rulers from persecution; or in contesting with heretics, for the most part appearing to be men either corrupt in their lives, or mad and brain-sick, as we say, as to their imaginations, or denying the truth of the person of Christ, — what can we expect from them as delivered directly and on set purpose to the matter of our present contest? Some principles may in them possibly be discovered from whence, by a regular deduction, some light may be obtained into their thoughts concerning the points in difference. Thus Junius thinks, and not without cause, that the whole business of predestination may be stated upon this one principle, “That faith is the free gift of God, flowing from his predestination and mercy;” and concerning this he saith, “Hoc autem omnes patres uno consensu ex Christo et Paulo agnoverunt; ipse Justinus Martyr in Apolog. ii., et gravissime veto Clemens Alexandrinus, in hac alioquin palæstra non ita exercitatus ut sequentia secula,” Hom., lib. ii. “Basilii et Valentini dogma esse dicit, quod fides a natura sit,” Consid. Senten. Pet. Baroni. Without this what advantage can be taken, or what use can be made, for the discovery of the mind of any of the ancients, by cropping off some occasional expressions from their occasions and aims, I know not. Especially would I more peremptorily affirm this could I imagine any of them wrote as Jerome affirms of himself that he sometimes did, Epist. ad August., which is among his epistles, lxxxix. T. 2. “Itaque,” saith he, “ut simpliciter fateor, legi hæc omnia, et in mente mea plurima coacervans, accito notario vel mea, vel aliena dictavi, nec ordinis, nec verborum interdum nec sensuum memor.” Should any one say so of himself in these days, he would be accounted little better than a madman. Much, then, on this account (or at least not much to the purpose) is not to be expected from the fathers of the first ages.

3. Another observation to our purpose lies well expressed in the beginning of the 14th chapter of Bellarmine’s second book de Grat. et Lib. Arbit. “Præter Scripturas adferunt alia testimonia patrum,” saith he, speaking of those who opposed God’s free predestination; to which he subjoins, “Neque est hoc novum argumentum, sed antiquissimum. Scribit enim S. Prosper in Epistola ad S. Augustinum, Gallos qui sententiam ejusdem Augustini de predestinatione calumniabantur, illud potissimum objicere solitos quod ea sententia doctrinæ veterum videbatur esse contraria. Sed respondet idem Augustinus in Lib. de Bono Perseverantiæ, veteres patres, qui ante Pelagium floruerunt, quæstionem istam nunquam accurate tractasse sed incidenter solum, et quasi per transitum illam attigisse. Addit vero, in fundamento hujus sententiæ (quod est gratiam Dei non præveniri ab ullo opere nostro sed contra, ab illa omnia opera nostra præveniri, ira ut nihil omnino boni, quod attinet ad salutem sit in nobis, quod non est nobis ex Deo), convenire Catholicos omnes; et ibidem citat Cyprianum, Ambrosium, et Nazianzenum, quibus addere possumus Basilium et Chrysostomum.” To the same purpose, with application to a particular person, doth that great and holy doctor discourse, De Doctrin. Christiana, lib. iii. cap. xxxiii. Saith he, “Non erat expertus hanc hæresin Tychonius, quæ nostro tempore exorta, multum nos, ut gratiam Dei, quæ per Dominum nostrum Jesum Christum est, adversus eam defenderemus exercuit, et secundum id quod ait apostolus, “oportet hæreses esse, ut probati manifesti fiunt in nobis,” multo vlgilantiores, diligentioresque reddidit, ut adverteremus in Scripturis sanctis, quod istum Tychonium minus attentum minusque, sine hoste solicitum fugit.” That also of Jerome in his second Apology against Rufinus, in reference to a most weighty article of Christian religion, is known to all. “Fieri potest,” saith he, “ut vel simpliciter erraverint, vel alio sensu scripserint, vel a librariis imperitis eorum paulatim scripta corrupta sint; vel certe antequam in Alexandria, quasi dæmonium meridianum, Arius nasceretur, innocenter quædam, et minus caute locuti sunt, et quæ non possunt perversorum hominum calumniam declinare.” And what he spake of the writers before Arius in reference to the person of Christ, we may of them before Pelagius in reference to his grace. Hence Pererius, in Rom. cap. viii., disput. 22, tells us (how truly ipse viderit, I am not altogether of his mind) that [as] for those authors that lived before Austin’s time, all the Greek fathers, and a considerable part of the Latin, were of opinion that the cause of predestination was the foresight which God had either of men’s good works or of their faith; either of which opinions, he assures us, is manifestly contrary to the authority of the Scriptures, and particularly to the doctrine of St Paul. I am not, as I said, wholly of his mind, partly upon the account of the observations made by his fellow-Jesuit out of Austin, before mentioned, partly upon other accounts also. Upon these and the like considerations, much, I presume, to the business in hand will not be produced on either side from the fathers that wrote before the rise of the Pelagian heresy. And if any one of the parties at this day litigant about the doctrine of the grace of God should give that advice that Sisinius and Agelius the Novatians sometimes gave, as Sozomen reports of them (Hist. Eccles., lib. vii. cap. xii.), to Nectarius, by him communicated to the emperor Theodosius, to have the quarrel decided by those that wrote before the rise of the controversy, as it would be unreasonable in itself, so I persuade myself neither party would accept of the condition, neither had the Catholics of those days got any thing if they had attended to the advice of these Novatians. But, these few observations premised, something as to particular testimonies may be attended unto.

That we may proceed in some order, not leaving those we have nothing to say to, nor are willing to examine, whilst, they are but thin and come not in troops, unsaluted, the first writings that are imposed on us after the canonical Scriptures are the eight books of Clemens, commonly called the Apostles’ Constitutions, being pretended to be written by him at their appointment, with the Canons ascribed to the same persons. These we shall but salute: for besides that they are faintly defended by any of the Papists, disavowed and disclaimed as apocryphal by the most learned of them, as Bellarmine, De Script. Eccles. in Clem., who approves only of fifty canons out of eighty-five; Baronius, An. Dom. 102, 14, who adds thirty more; and Binius, with a little enlargement of canons, in Tit. Can. T. 1, Con. p. 17; and have been thoroughly disproved and decried by all protestant writers that have had any occasion to deal with them; their folly and falsity, their impostures and triflings, have of late been so fully manifested by Dallæus, De Pseudepigraphis Apostol., that nothing need be added thereunto. Of him may Doctor H. H.5 learn the truth of that insinuation of his, Dissert. de Episcop. ii. cap. vi. sect. 3, “Canone apostolico secundo semper inter genuinos habito;” but of the confidence of this author in his assertions afterward. This, indeed (insisted on by Dallæus, and the learned Usher in his notes upon Ignatius), is childishly ridiculous in them, that whereas it is pretended that these Constitutions were made at a convention of the apostles, as lib. vi. cap. xiv., they are brought in discoursing ἡμεις οὖν ἐπὶ τὸ αὐτὸ γενόμενοι, Πέτρος καὶ Ἀνδρέας, Ἰάκωβος καὶ Ἰωάννης υἱοὶ Ζεβεδαίου, etc. They are made to inform us, lib. ii. cap. lvii., that the Acts written by Luke and read in the churches are theirs, and the four books of the Gospel; whereas the story of the death of James (here said to be together with the apostles) is related Acts xii., and John, by the consent of all, wrote not his Gospel until after the dissolution of his associates. Also, they make Stephen and Paul to be together at the making of those Constitutions, lib. viii. cap. iv. (whereas the martyrdom of Stephen was before the conversion of Paul), and yet also mention the stoning of Stephen, lib. viii. cap. xlvi. They tell us whom they appointed bishops of Jerusalem after the death of James, and yet James is one of them who is met together with them, lib. vii. cap. xlviii. Nay, mention is made of Cerinthus, and that Mark the heretic, Menander, Basilides, and Saturninus, were known and taken notice of by the apostles, who all lived in the second century, about the reign of Hadrian, as Eusebius manifesteth, and Clem. Alex., Strom., lib. vii.

But, to leave such husks as these unto them who loathe manna, and will not feed on the bread that our heavenly Father hath so plentifully provided for all that live in his family or any way belong to his house, let us look onward to them that follow, of whose truth and honesty we have more assurance.

The first genuine piece that presents itself unto us on the roll of antiquity is that epistle of Clemens which, in the name of the church of Rome, he wrote to the divided church of Corinth; which being abundantly testified to of old, to the great contentment of the Christian world, was published here at Oxford some few years since, — a writing full of ancient simplicity, humility, and zeal. As to our present business, much, I confess, cannot be pleaded from hence, beyond a negative impeachment of that great and false clamour which our adversaries have raised, of the consent of the primitive Christians with them in their by-paths and ways of error. It is true, treating of a subject diverse from any of those heads of religion about which our contests are, it is not to be expected that he should anywhere plainly, directly, and evidently, deliver his judgment unto them. This, therefore, I shall only say, that in that whole epistle there is not one word, iota, or syllable, that gives countenance to the tenet of our adversaries in the matter of the saints’ perseverance; but that, on the contrary, there are sundry expressions asserting such a foundation of the doctrine we maintain as will with good strength infer the truth of it. Page 4, setting forth the virtues of the Corinthians before they fell into the schism that occasioned his epistle, he minds them that ἀγὼν ἦν ὑμῖν ἡμέρας τε καὶ νυκτὸς ὑπερ πάσης τῆς ἀδελφότητος, εἰς τὸ σώζεσθαι μετ’ ἐλέους καὶ συνειδήσεως τὸν ἀριθμὸν τῶν ἐκλεκτῶν αὐτοῦ. That God hath a certain number of elect to be saved, and for whose salvation, by his mercy, the church is to contend with him, is a principle wholly inconsistent with those on which the doctrine of the saints’ apostasy is bottomed. Corresponding hereunto is that passage of his concerning the will of God, p. 12: Πάντας οὖν τοῦς ἀγαπητοὺς αὐτοῦ βουλόμενος μετανοίας μετασχεῖν, ἐστήριξεν τῷ παντοκρατορικῷ βουλήματι αὐτοῦ. A mere consideration of this passage causeth me to recall what but now was spoken, as though the testimony given to the truth in this epistle were not so clear as might be desired. The words now repeated contain the very thesis contended for. It is the beloved of God (or his chosen) whom he will have made partakers of saving repentance; and hereunto “he establisheth them” (for with that word is the defect in the sentence to be supplied) “by,” or with, “the almighty will.” Because he will have his beloved partakers of saving repentance and the benefits thereof; he confirms and establishes them in it with his omnipotent or sovereign will. The inconsistency and irreconcilableness of this assertion with the doctrine of these saints’ apostasy, the learned reader needs not any assistance to manifest to him. Answerably hereunto he saith of God, Ἐκλογῆς μέρος (ἡμᾶς) ἐποίησεν ἑαυτῷ, p. 38 and p. 66: mentioning the blessedness of the forgiveness of sins, out of Ps. xxxii. he adds, Οὗτος ὁ μακαρισμὸς ἐγένετο ἐπὶ τοὺς ἐκλελεγμένους ὑπὸ τοῦ Θεοῦ διὰ Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ τοῦ Κυρίου ἡμῶν. The elect of whom he speaks are those on whom, through and for Christ, God bestows the blessedness of justification; elect they are of God antecedently to the obtaining of that blessedness, and through that they do obtain it: so that in that short sentence of this author, the great pillar of the saints’ perseverance, which is their free election, the root of all the blessedness which afterward they enjoy, is established. Other passages like to these there are in that epistle; which plainly deliver the primitive Christians of the church of Rome from any communion in the doctrine of the saints’ apostasy, and manifest their perseverance in the doctrine of the saints’ perseverance, wherein they had been so plentifully instructed, not long before, by the epistle of Paul unto them.

He who upon the roll of antiquity presents himself in the next place to our consideration is the renowned Ignatius, concerning whom I desire to beg so much favour of the learned reader as to allow me a diversion unto some thoughts and observations that belong to another subject than that which I have now peculiarly in hand, before I come to give him a taste of his judgment on the doctrine under debate.

As this Ignatius, bishop of the church at Antioch, was in himself a man of an excellent spirit, eminent in holiness, and to whom, on the behalf of Christ, it was given not only to believe on him, but also suffer for him, and on that account of very great and high esteem among the Christians of that age wherein he lived, and sundry others following, so no great question can be made but that he wrote, towards the end of his pilgrimage, when he was on his way to be offered up, through the Holy Spirit, by the mouths of wild beasts, to Jesus Christ, sundry epistles to sundry churches that were of chiefest note and name in the countries about. The concurrent testimony of the ancients in this matter of her will give as good assurance as in this kind we are capable of; Eusebius reckons them up in order, so doth Jerome.

After them frequent mention is made of them by others, and special sayings in them are transcribed; and whereas it is urged by some that there is no mention of those epistles before the Nicene council, — before which time it is as evident as if it were written with the beams of the sun, that many false and supposititious writings had been imposed on and were received by many in the church (as the story of Paul and Thecla is mentioned and rejected by Tertull. de Baptis., Hermæ Pastor. by others), — it is answered, that they were mentioned by Irenæus some good while before. Lib. v. cap. xxviii., saith he, “Quemadmodum quidam de nostris dixit, propter martyrium in Deum adjudicatus ad bestias; quoniam frumentum sum Christi et per dentes bestiarum molor ut mundus panis Dei inveniar.” Which words, to the substance of them, are found in these epistles, though some say nothing is here intimated of any epistles or writings, but of a speech that might pass among the Christians by tradition, such as they had many among themselves, even of our Saviour’s, some whereof are mentioned by Grotius on these words of Paul, “Remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.” What probability or ground for conviction there is in these or the like observations and answers is left to the judgment of all. This is certain, that the first mentioning of them in antiquities is to be clearly received (and that perhaps with more than the bare word of him that recites and approves of the Epistle of Jesus Christ to Abgarus the king of the Edessenes, or of him that reckons Seneca among the ecclesiastical writers upon the account of his epistles to Paul), or the following testimonies, which are heaped up in abundance by some who think (but falsely) that they have a peculiar interest inwrapped in the epistles now extant, will be of very small weight or value.

For my part, I am persuaded, with that kind of persuasion wherein in things of no greater moment I am content to acquiesce, that he did write seven epistles, and that much of what he so wrote is preserved in those that are now extant; concerning which the contests of learned men have drawn deep and run high in these latter days, though little to the advantage of the most that have laboured in that cause, as shall be manifested in the process of our discourse.

A late learned doctor,6 in his dissertations about episcopacy, or dispute for it against Salmasius and Blondellus, tells us (that we may take a taste of his confidence in asserting), Dissert. ii. cap. xxiii., sect. 1, that Salmasius and Blondellus “mortalium omnium primi” thought these epistles to be feigned or counterfeit. And with more words, cap. xxiv. sect. 1, he would make us believe that these epistles of Ignatius were always of the same esteem with that of Clemens from Rome to the Corinthians, of which he treats at large in his fourth dissertation, or that of Polycarpus to the Philippians, which we have in Eusebius; and then he adds, that in the judgment of Salmasius and Blondellus, “Solus Ignatius οἴχεται cujus tamen epistolæ pari semper cum illis per universam ab omni ævo patrum nostrorum memoriam reverentia excipiebantur; nec prius a mortalium quovis in judicium vocabantur (multo minus ut in re certa et extra dubium posita inter plane ἀδόκιμα et κίβδηλα rejiciebantur), quam presbyteri Anglicani patribus suis contumeliam facere cœpissent iisque aut suppetias ferre, aut rem gratam facere (quibus illecebris adducti nescio), hi duo non ignobiles Presbyteranæ causæ hyperaspistæ in seipsos recepissent.” Of his two learned antagonists, one is dead, and the other almost blind, or probably they would have dealt not much more gently with the doctor for his parenthesis (“quibus illecebris adducti nescio”), than one of them formerly did (Salmas. De Subscribendis et Signandis Testamentis seu Specimen Consula. Animad. Heraldi., cap. i. p. 19, “Nuper quidem etiam nebulo in Anglia, Capellanus ut audio regis, Hammondus nomine, libro quem edidit de potestate clavium Salmasio iratus quod aliam quam ipse sententiam probet ac defendat, haud potuit majus convicium, quod ei dicerit, invenire, quam si grammaticum appellaret”) for his terming him a grammarian; yet, indeed, of him (such was the hard entertainment he found on all hands), it is by many supposed that he was “illecebris adductus” (and they stick not to name the bait he was caught withal), wrought over in a manner to destroy the faith of that which he had before set up and established.

For the thing itself affirmed by the doctor, I cannot enough admire with what oscitancy or contempt he considers his readers (of which manner of proceeding this is very far from being the only instance), that he should confidently impose such things upon them. He that hath written so much about Ignatius, and doth so triumph in his authority, ought doubtless to have considered those concernments of his author which are obvious to every ordinary inquirer. Vedelius’ edition of Ignatius, at Geneva, came forth with his notes in the year 1623, long before either Salmasius or Blondellus had written any thing about the supposititiousness of these epistles; in the apology for Ignatius, thereto prefixed, he is forced to labour and sweat in the answer of one, whom he deservedly styles Virum doctissimum, arguing (not contemptibly) that Ignatius never wrote any such epistles, and that all those which were carried about in his name were false and counterfeit.

But perhaps the doctor had taken caution of one of the fathers of his church, that “a Genevensibus istis typographis præter fraudes, et fucos, et præstigias non est quod quicquam expectemus” (Montacu. Appar. 1, lib. v. sect. 47, p. 19), and so thought not fit to look into any thing that comes from them.

Especially may this be supposed to have had some influence upon him, considering the gentle censure added in the next words by that reverend father of his church concerning the endeavour of Vedelius in his notes on that edition:— “Neque audax ille et importunus Ignatii censor, quicquam attulit ad paginas suas implendas præter inscitiam, et incuriam, et impudentiam singularem (nec sævi magne sacerdos) dum ad suum Genevatismum antiquitatem detorquet invitissimam, non autem quod oportuit, Calvinismum amussitat ad antiquitatem.” And what, I pray, is the reason of his episcopal censure? — that he should deal with poor Vedelius in that language wherewith men of his order and authority were wont to deal with preaching ministers at their visitations? Why, this poor man, in that passage which you have in the Epistle to the Magnesians (in that edition, p. 56), when treating of the ancient fathers’ expectations of the coming of Christ, retains the common reading of εἰς κενότητα ἐλπίδος ἦλθον, referring the word to their expectation of seeing him come in the flesh, (which, upon the testimony of our Saviour himself, they desired to see, and saw it not,) not correcting it by a change of κενότητα into κοινότηατ ἐλπίδος so referring it to their faith in Christ and salvation by him, as, in his judgment, he ought to have done, — Ἰδοὺ ὀλίγον πῦρ, ἡλίκην ὕλῃν ἀνάπτει. A little thing would provoke the indignation of a prelate against any thing that came from Geneva.

I say, I would suppose that this might divert our doctor from casting his eye upon Vedelius, whose defensative would have informed him that these epistles had been opposed as false and counterfeit before ever Salmasius or Blondellus had taken them into consideration, but that I find him sometimes insisting on that Geneva edition.

For whereas (Dissert. ii. cap. ii. sect. 11) he tells you that he intends to abide only upon the edition of Isaac Vossius, in Greek, published from the archives of the library of Lorenzo de Medici, and the Latin edition published by bishop Usher, out of our library here at Oxford; yet, cap. viii., being pressed with the testimony of the writer of the Epistle to the Magnesians, in that edition, calling episcopacy νεωτερικὴν τάξιν, plainly intimating a comparative novelty in that order to others in the churches, and fearing (as well he might) that his translation of νεωτερικὴ τάξις into “the ordination of a young man,” would scarce be received’ by the men of his own prejudice (for surely he never supposed that he should impose on any other by such gross figments), he prefers the Vedelian edition, where these words are not so used, before it, and informs us that “sic legcndum” (as it is in the Geneva edition) “suadet tota epistolæ series.” Now, this truly is marvellous to me (if the doctor consulteth authors any farther than merely to serve his present turn), how he could ever advise with that edition of Vedelius, and yet so confidently affirm that Salmasius and Blondellus were the first that rejected these epistles as feigned and counterfeited.

But yet a little farther: The first edition of these epistles in Latin was Augustæ Vindelicorum, anno 1529; in Greek, at Basil, 1566: before which time, I suppose, the doctor expects not that any opposition should be made to them, considering the heaps of filth and dung that, until about that time, were owned for the offspring of the ancient fathers.

Upon their first appearing in the world, what is the entertainment they receive? One who was dead before either the doctor or either of his antagonists was born, and whose renown among the people of God will live when they are all dead, gives them this welcome into the world: “Ignatium quod obtendunt, si velint quicquam habere momenti; probent apostolos legem tulisse de quadragesima, et similibus corruptelis, Nihil næniis istis quæ sub Ignatii nomine editæ sunt putidius. Quo minus tolerabilis est eorum impudentia qui talibus larvis ad fallendum se instruunt,” Calv. Inst., lib. i. cap. xiii. sect. 29.

Whatever be the judgment of our doctor concerning this man (as some there are of whom a learned bishop in this nation long ago complained, that they are still opening their mouths against Calvin, who helped them to mouths to speak with, Abbot. ad Thom.), he will in the judgment of some be so far accounted somebody as to take off from the confident assertion that Salmasius and Blondellus were “mortalium primi” that rejected these epistles.

The Centuriators of Magdeburg were esteemed to be somebodies in their days, and yet they make bold to call these epistles into question, and to tender sundry arguments to the impairing of their credit and authority. This then they, Cent. ii. cap. x., De Episcop. Antioch. ac primum de Ignatio:—

“Lectori pio et attento considerandum relinquimus quantum sit illis epistolis tribuendum. Non enim dubitamus quin in lectione earum cuilibet ista in mentem veniant; primum quod fere in omnibus epistolis, licet saris copiosis, occasio scribendi prætermittitur, nec vel divinare licet, quare potissimum ad hanc vel illam ecclesiam literas voluerit mittere. Deinde ipsius peregrinationis ratio non parvum injicit scrupulum considerantibus, quod multo rectiore et breviori itinere, Romam potuerit navigare, ut testatur vel ipsius Pauli exemplum. Expende quam longum sit iter, Antiochia ad littus Ægæi pelagi se recipere, ibique recta sursmn versus Septentrionem ascendere, et præcipuas civitates in littore sitas usque ad Troadem perlustrare, cum tamen Romanum iter sit destinatum versus occasum. Tertio res ejusmodi in istas literas inspersæ sunt ut ad eas propemodum obstupescat lector, etc. Hæc cum alias non somnolento lectori incidant, non existimaverimus,” etc.

Thus they, at the world’s first awaking as to the consideration of things of this kind.

To them add the learned Whitaker, Cont. prima, De Perfect. Script. quæst. sext. c. 12, where, after he hath disputed against the credit of these epistles, jointly and severally, with sundry arguments, at length he concludes, “Sed de his epistolis satis multa, et de hoc Ignatio quid judicandum sit, satis ex iis constare potest quæ diximus. Ista Papistæ non audent tueri,” etc. To whom sundry others might be added, convincing Salmasius and Blondellus not to have been “mortalium primi” that called them into question.

I have not insisted on what hath been spoken as though I were wholly of the mind of them who utterly condemn these epistles as false and counterfeit; though I know no possibility of standing before the arguments levied against them, notwithstanding the forementioned doctor’s attempt to that purpose, without acknowledging so much corruption in them, additions and detractions from what they were when first written, as will render them not so clearly serviceable to any end or purpose whereunto their testimony may be required, as other unquestionable writings of their antiquity are justly esteemed to be. That these epistles have fallen into the hands of such unworthy impostors as have filled the latter ages with labour and travail to discover their deceits, the doctor himself granteth, Dissert. ii. cap. ii. sect. 6. “Nulla,” saith he, “quidem nobis incumbit necessitas, ut in tanta exemplarium et editionum varietate et inconstantia, nihil uspiam Ignatio interpolatum aut adsutum affirmemus.”

And, indeed, the foisted passages in many places are so evident, yea shameful, that no man who is not resolved to say any thing, without care of proof or truth, can once appear in any defensative about them. Of this sort are the shreds and pieces out of that branded counterfeit piece of Clemens, or the Apostles’ Constitutions, which are almost in every epistle packed in in a bungling manner, oftentimes disturbing the sense and coherence of the place; yea, sometimes such things are thence transcribed as in them are considerable arguments of their corruption and falsehood: so is that period in the Epistle to the Magnesians, taken from Clemens. Constitut., lib. vi. cap, ii., Ἀβεδδαδὰν ὡσαύτως τῆς κεφαλῆς ἀφαιρεῖται δι’ ὁμοίαν αἰτίαν. This Abeddadan being mentioned next after Absalom’s dying by the loss of his head is therefore supposed to be Sheba, the son of Bichri; but whence that counterfeit Clemens had that name is not known. That the counterfeit Clemens by Abeddadan intended Sheba is evident from the words he assigns unto him in the place mentioned. Abeddadan said, Οὐκ ἔστι μοι μέρος ἐν Δαβὶδ, οὐδὲ κληρονομία ἐν υἱῷ Ἰεσσαί. And he joins him with Absalom in his rebellion. Such passages as these they are supposed to have received from that vain and foolish impostor; but if it be true, which some have observed, that there is not the least mention made of any of these fictitious Constitutions in the first three ages after Christ, and that the διδαχὴ ἀποστόλων mentioned by Eusebius and Athanasius, as also that διάταξις in Epiphanius, are quite other things than those eight books of Constitutions we now have, it may rather be supposed that that sottish deceiver raked up some of his filth from the corruption of these epistles than that any thing out of him is crept into them. Other instances might be given of stuffing these epistles with the very garbage of that beast. Into what hands also these epistles have fallen by the way, in their journeying down towards these ends of the world, is evident from those citations made out of them by them of old, which now appear not in them. Theodoret, Dial. 3, adv. Hære., gives us this sentence from Ignatius: Εὐχαριστίαν καὶ προσφορὰς οὐκ ἀποδέχονται διὰ τὸ μὴ ὁμολογεῖν τὴν εὐχαριστίαν σάρκα εἶναι τοῦ οωτῆρος ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ τὴν ὑπὲρ τῶν ἁμαρτιῶν ἡμῶν παθοῦσαν ἣν χρηστότητι ὁ Πατὴρ ἤγειρεν· which words you will scarcely find in that Epistle to the Church of Smyrna, from whence they were taken. Jerome also, Dial. 3, con. Pelag., hath this passage of him and from him: “Ignatius vir apostolicus et martyr scribit audacter, elegit Dominus apostolos qui super crones homines peccatores erant;” which words, as they are not now in these epistles, so, as one observes, if ever he wrote them, as is pretended, he did it audacter indeed. But of these things our doctor takes no notice.

The style of these epistles doth not a little weaken the credit of them, being turgent, swelling with uncouth words and phrases, affected manner and ways of expression, new compositions of words, multiplying titles of honour to men, — exceedingly remote and distant from the plainness and simplicity of the first writers among the Christians, as is evident by comparing these with the epistle of Clemens before mentioned, that of Polycarpus in Eusebius, [and of] the churches of Vienne and Lyons in that same author, and others. Instances for the confirmation of this observation are multiplied by Blondellus; my designed work will not allow me to insist on particulars. In many good words this charge is waived, by affirming that the author of these epistles was an Assyrian, and near to martyrdom, and that in the Scriptures there are sundry words of as hard a composition as those used by him, Ham. Dissert. ii. cap. iii.; and, as he says, from this kind of writing an argument of sufficient validity may be drawn to evince him to be the author of these epistles. Jerome was of another mind. Speaking of Didymus, “Imperitus,” saith he, “sermone est, et non scientia, apostolicum virum ex ipso sermone exprimens, tam sensuum nomine quam simplicitate verborum.” But seeing Ignatius was a Syrian, and near to martyrdom (though he writes his epistles from Troas and Smyrna, which, without doubt, were not in his way to Rome from Antioch, and yet everywhere he saith he is going to Rome: Ad Eph., Τὰ δεσμὰ ἀπὸ Συρίας μεχρὶ Ῥῶμης περιφέρω· which in the close he affirms he wrote from Smyrna, whither he was had to his martyrdom), what is it to any man what style he used in his writings, what swelling titles he gave to any, or words he made use of! Who shall call those writings (especially Ignatius being a Syrian) into question!

But perhaps some farther question may here arise (and which hath by sundry been already started) about the use of divers Latin words in these epistles, which, doubtless, cannot be handsomely laid on the same account, of their author being a Syrian, and nigh to martyrdom. Ἀκκέπτα, δεπόσιτα, δεσέρτωρ, ἐξεμπλάριον, are usually instanced in, words to whose use no Roman customs, observations, orders, nor rules of government, do administer the least occasion. Of these the doctor tells you he wonders only that in so many epistles there are no more of this kind. And why so? The epistles are not so large a volume, a very few hours will serve to read them over; and yet I am persuaded, that in all that compass of reading in the Greek fathers which our doctor owns, he cannot give so many instances of words barbarous to their language, no way occasioned by the means before mentioned, as have been given in these epistles. But he wonders there are no more, and some wonder that all are not of his mind! But he farther informs us that a diligent reader of the Scripture may observe many more Latin words in the New Testament than are used in these epistles; and, for a proof of his diligence and observation, reckons up out of the end of Pasor’s Lexicon sundry words of that kind made use of by the sacred writers. I fear, unto some men, this will scarce be an apology prevalent to the dismission of these epistles from under the censure of being at least foully corrupted. Of the whole collection of words of that sort made by Pasor, among which are those especially culled out by our doctor to confirm his observations, there is scarce one but either it is expressive of some Roman office, custom, money, order, or the like; words of which nature pass as proper names (as one of those mentioned by the doctor is, and no otherwise used in the New Testament) from one country and language to another, or are indeed of a pure Greek original, or at least were in common use in that age; neither of which can be spoken of the words above mentioned, used in the epistles, which were never used by any before or after them, nor is there any occasion imaginable why they should. “Parvas habent spes epistolæ, si tales habent.” I would, indeed, gladly see a fair, candid, and ingenuous defensative of the style and manner of writing used in these epistles, departing so eminently from any thing that was customary in the writings of the men of those days, or is regular for men of any generation, in repetitions, affected compositions, barbarisms, rhyming expressions, and the like; for truly, notwithstanding any thing that hitherto I have been able to obtain for help in this kind, I am enforced to incline to Vedelius’ answers to all the particular instances given of this nature, “This and that place are corrupted, — this is from Clemens’ Constitutions, this from this or that tradition;” which, also, would much better free these epistles from the word σιγῆς, used in the sense whereunto it was applied by the Valentinians long after the death of Ignatius, than any other apology I have as yet seen for the securing of its abode in them.

It is not a little burdensome to the thoughts of sober and learned men to consider how frequently, causelessly, absurdly, in the midst of discourses quite of another nature and tendency, the author of these epistles, or somebody for him, breaks in upon the commendation of church officers, bishops and presbyters, exalting them with titles of honour to the greatest potentates on earth, and comparing them to God the Father and Son; whereas none of the sacred writers that went before him, nor any of those good and holy men who, as is supposed, followed after him, do hold the least communion or society with him. Ἀναγκαῖον οὖν ἐστιν, ὅσαπερ ποιεῖτε, ἄνευ τοῦ ἐπισκόπου μηδὲν πράττειν ὑμᾶς, Epist. ad Tral. [cap. ii.], whereunto is immediately subjoined that doctrine concerning deacons which will scarcely be thought to be exegetical of Acts vi. 1–6, Δεῖ δὲ καὶ τοὺς διακόνους ὄντας μυστηρίων Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ κατὰ πάντα τρόπον ἀρέσκειν· οὐ γὰρ βρωτῶν καὶ ποτῶν εἰσι διάκονοι, ἀλλά, etc. And Τί γάρ ἐστιν ἐπίσκοπος; ἀλλ’ ἢ πάσης ἀρχῆς καὶ ἐξουσίας ἐπέκεινα πάντων κρατῶν, [cap. vii.] What the writer of this passage intended to make of a bishop well I know not; but thus he speaks of him, Epist. ad Magnes. [cap. iii.] Πρέπον οὖν ἐστι καὶ ὑμᾶς ὑπακούειν τῷ ἐπισκόπῷ ὑμῶν· καὶ κατὰ μηδὲν αὐτῷ ἀντιλέγειν. Φοβερὸν γάρ ἐστι (as the apostle speaks concerning God, Heb. x. 27) τῷ τοιούτῳ ἀντιλέγειν. Thus, indeed, some would have it, who, to help the matter, have farther framed such an episcopacy as was never thought on by any in the days of Ignatius, as shall afterward be made evident. And in the same epistle this is somewhat uncouth and strange, [cap. vi., vii.]: Ἑνώθντε τῷ ἐπισκότῳ, ὑποτασσόμενοι τῷ Θεῷ δι’ αὐτοῦ ἐν Χριστῷ. Ὥσπερ οὖν ὁ Κύριος ἄνευ τοῦ Πατρὸς οὐδὲν ποιεῖ, οὐ δύναμαι γὰρ, φησὶ, ποιεῖν ἀτ’ ἐμαυτοῦ οὐδέν· οὕτω καὶ ὑμείς ἅνευ τοὺ ἐπισκόπου μηδὲ πρεσβύτερος, μηδὲ διάκονος, μηδὲ λαϊκός· μηδὲ τι φαινέσθω ὑμῖν εὔλογον παρὰ τὴν ἐκείνου γνώμην. Whether the Lord Christ hath bound any such burden upon the shoulders of the saints I much question. Nor can I tell what to make of the comparison between God the Father and the bishop, Christ and the rest of the church, the whole sentence, in word and manner, being most remote from the least countenance from the sacred writings. Epist. ad Philadel. [cap. v.]: Οἱ πρεσβύτεροι καὶ οἱ διάκονοι καὶ ὁ λοιπος κλῆρος, ἅμα παντὶ τῷ λαῷ καὶ τοῖς στρατιώταις, καὶ τοῖς ἄρχουσι καὶ τῷ Καίσαρι (well aimed, however), τῷ ἐπισκότῳ πειθαρχείτωσαν. The Epistle to the Church of Smyrna is full of such stuff, inserted without any occasion, order, coherence, or any colour to induce us to believe that it is part of the epistle as first written. One passage may not omit [cap. ix.]: Τίμα, φησὶν, υἱὲ τὸν Θεὸν, καὶ βασιλέα· ἐγὼ δέ φημι (in the language of our Saviour repudiating the Pharisees’ corrupted glosses on the law), τίμα μὲν τὸν Θεὸν ὡς αἴτιον τῶν ὅλων καὶ Κύριον, ἐπίσκοπον δὲ ὡς ἀρχιερέα, Θεοῦ εἰκόνα φοροῦντα, κατὰ μὲν τὸ ἄρχειν, Θεοῦ, κατὰ δὲ τὸ ἱερατεύειν Χριστοῦ· καὶ μετὰ τοῦτον τιμᾷν χρὴ καὶ βασιλέα. So Peter’s mistake is corrected. His reasons follow: Οὔτε γὰρ Θεοῦ τις χρείττων, ἢ παραπλήσιος ἐν πᾶσι τοῖς οὖσιν· οὔτε δὲ ἐν ἐκκλησίᾳ ἐπισκόπου τι μεῖζον ἱερωμένου Θεῷ ὑπὲρ τῆς τοῦ κόσμου παντὸς σωτηρίας, (as was Jesus Christ). And it is added: Εἰ γὰρ ὁ βασιλεῦσιν ἐπεγειρόμενος, κολάσεως ἄξιος δικαίως γενήσεται, ὥς γε πυραλύων τὴν κοινὴν εὐνομίαν, πόοῳ δοκεῖτε χείρονος ἀξιωθήσεται πιμωρίας ὁ ἄνευ ἐπισκόπου τι ποιεῖν προαιρούμενος; etc., ἱερωσύνη γὰρ ἐστι τὸ πάντων ἀγαθῶν ἐν ἀνθρώποις ἀναβεβηκός. How well this suits the doctrine of Peter and Paul the reader will easily discern. Cæsar or the king is, upon all accounts, thrust behind the bishop, who is said to be consecrated to God for the salvation of the world; him he is exhorted to obey; — and in express opposition to the Holy Ghost, the bishop’s name is thrust in between God and the king, as in a way of pre-eminence above the latter; and to do any thing without the bishop is made a far greater crime than to rise up against the king. As this seems scarce to be the language of one going upon an accusation to appear before the emperor, so I am certain it is most remote from the likeness of any thing that in this affair we are instructed in from the Scripture. Plainly this language is the same with that of the false impostor, Pseudo-Clemens, in his pretended Apostolical Constitutions. At this rate, or somewhat beyond it, have you him ranting: Lib. ii. cap. ii., Ἐπίσκοπον Θεοῦ τύπον ἔχειν ἐν ἀνθρώποις, τῶν πάντων ἄρχειν ἀνθρώπων, ἱερέων, βασιλέων, ἀρχόντων, πατέρων, υἱῶν, διδασκάλων καὶ πάντων ὁμοῦ τῶν ὑπηκόων· — “All popes, all sorts of persons whatever, priests, kings, and princes, fathers and children, all under the feet of this exemplar of God and ruler of men!” a passage which, doubtless, eminently interprets and illustrates that place of Peter, 1 Epist. v. 1–3, “The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed; feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock.” But yet, as if the man were stark mad with worldly pride and pomp, he afterward, in the name of the holy apostles of Jesus Christ, commands all the laity (forsooth) to honour, love, and fear the bishop ὡς κύριον, ὡς δεσπότην, ὡς ἀρχιερέα Θεοῦ, lib. ii. cap. xx. And that you may see whither the man drives, and what he aims at, after he hath set out his bishop like an emperor or an eastern king, in all pomp and glory, he adds, Τοὺς ἐπισκόπους ἄρχοντας ὑμῶν καὶ βασιλέας ἡγεῖσθαι νομίζετε, καὶ δασμοὺς ὡς βασιλεῦσι προσφέρετε. The paying of tribute to them as kings is the issue of these descriptions, that they may have wherewithal to maintain their pomp and greatness, according to the institution of our Lord Jesus Christ and his blessed apostles! But I shall not rake farther into this dunghill, nor shall I add any more instances of this kind out of Ignatius, but close in one insisted on by our doctor for the proof of his episcopacy. Dissert. ii. cap. xxv. 7, saith he, Quartò, Τῷ ἐπισκόπῳ, πρσοέχετε, ἵνα καὶ ὁ Θεὸς ὑμῖν. “Episcopo attendite, ut et vobis Deus attendat. Ego animam meam libenter eorum loco substitui cuperem quod Anglice optic dicimus” (my soul for theirs), “qui episcopo, presbyteris, et diaconis obsequuntur.” I hope I may without great difficulty obtain the doctor’s pardon, that I dare not be so bold with my soul as to jeopard it in that manner, especially being not mine own to dispose of.

Upon these and many more the like accounts do the epistles seem to me to be like the children that the Jews had by their strange wives, Neh. xiii. 23, 24, who spake part the language of Ashdod, and part the language of the Jews. As there are in them many footsteps of a gracious spirit, every way worthy of and becoming the great and holy personage whose they are esteemed, so there is evidently a mixture of the working of that worldly and carnal spirit which in his days was not so let loose as in after times. For what is there in the Scripture, what is in the genuine epistle of Clemens, that gives countenance to those descriptions of episcopacy, bishops, and the subjection to them, that are in these epistles (as now we have them) so insisted on? what titles are given to bishops? what sovereignty, power, rule, dominion, is ascribed to them? Is there any thing of the like nature in the writings of the apostles? in Clemens? the epistle of Polycarp, etc., or in any unquestionable legitimate offspring of any of the first worthies of Christianity? Whence have they their three orders of bishops, presbyters, and deacons, upon the distinct observation of which so much weight is laid? Is there any one word, iota, tittle, or syllable, in the whole book of God, giving countenance to any such distinctions? Eph. iv. 11, we have “pastors and teachers.” Rom. xii. 7, 8, “Him that teacheth, him that exhorteth, him that ruleth, and him that showeth mercy.” Phil. i. 1, we have “bishops and deacons;” and their institution, with the order of it, we have at large expressed, 1 Tim. iii. 1–13, — “Bishops and deacons,” without the interposition of any other order whatever. Deacons we have appointed, Acts vi. 1–6; and elders, Acts xiv. 23. Those who are bishops we find called presbyters, Titus i. 5, 7; and those who are presbyters we find termed bishops, Acts xx. 28: so that deacons we know, and bishops who are presbyters, or presbyters who are bishops, we know; but bishops, presbyters, and deacons, as three distinct orders in the church, from the Scripture we know not. Neither did Clemens, in his Epistle to the Corinthians, know of any more than we do, which a few instances will manifest. Saith he, speaking of the apostles, Κατὰ χώρας οὖν καὶ πόλεις κηρύσσοντες, καθίστανον τὰς ἀπαρχὰς αὐτῶν, δοκιμάσαντες τῷ Πνεῦματι, εἰς ἐπισκόπους καὶ διακοόνους τῶν μελλόντων πιστεύεν· καὶ τοῦτο οὐ καινῶς, ἐκ γὰρ δὴ πολλῶν χρόνων ἐγέγραπτο περὶ ἐπισκόπων καὶ διακόνων, etc. Bishops and deacons (as in the church at Philippi) this man knows, but the third order he is utterly unacquainted withal. And that the difference of this man’s expressions concerning church rulers from those in the epistle under consideration may the better appear, and that his asserting of bishops and presbyters to be one and the same may the more clearly be evidenced, shall transcribe one other passage from him, whose length I hope will be excused from the usefulness of it to the purpose in hand: Pages 57, 58, Καὶ οἱ ἀπόστολοι ἡμῶν εγνωσαν διὰ τοῦ Κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, ὅτι ἔρις ἔσται ἐπὶ τοῦ ὀνόματος τῆς ἐπισκοπῆς· διὰ ταύτην οὖν τὴν αἰτίαν, πρόγνωσιν εἰληφότες τελείαν, κατέστησαν τοὺς προειρημένους, καὶ μεταξὺ ἐπινομὴν δεδώκασιν, ὅπως, ἐὰν κοιμηθῶσιν, διαδέξωνται ἕτεροι δεδοκιμασμένοι ἄνδρες, τὴν λειτουργίαν αὐτῶν. Τοὺς οὖν κατασταθέντας ὑπ’ ἐκείνων, ἢ μεταξὺ ὑφ’ ἑτέρων ἐλλογίμων ἀνδρῶν, ουνευδοκησάσης τῆς ἐκκλησίας πάσης, (for so, it seems, was the manner of the church in his days, that their officers were appointed by the consent of the whole church,) καὶ λειτουργήσαντας ἀμέμπτως τῷ ποιμνίῳ τοῦ Χριστοῦ μετὰ παπεινοφροσύης, ἡούχως καὶ ἀβαναύσως, μεμαρτυρημένους τε πολλοῖς χρόνοις ὑπὸ πάντων, τούτους οὐ δικαίως νομίζομεν ἀποβαλέσθαι τῆς λειτουργίας· ἁμαρτία γὰρ οὐ μικρὰ ἡμῖν ἔσται, ἐὰν τοὺς ἀμέμπτως καὶ ὁσίως προσενέγκοντας τὰ δῶρα τῆς ἐπισκοπῆς ἀποβάλωμεν. Μακάριοι οἱ προοδοιπορήσαντες πρεσβύτεροι (or the bishops of whom he was speaking), οἵτινες ἔγκαρπον καὶ τελείαν ἔσχον τὴν ἀνάλυσιν, etc. And sundry other discoveries are there in that epistle of the like nature. It is not my design or purpose to insist upon the parity of bishops and presbyters, or rather the identity of office, denoted by sundry appellations, from these and the like places; this work is done to the full by Blondellus, so that our labour in this kind, were that the purpose in hand, is prevented. He that thinks the arguments of that learned man to this purpose are indeed answered thoroughly and removed by Dr Hammond, in his fourth dissertation, where he proposes them to consideration, may one day think it needful to be able to distinguish between words and things. That Clemens owns in a church but two sorts of officers, the first whereof he calls sometimes bishops, sometimes presbyters, the other deacons, the doctor himself doth not deny.

That in the judgment of Clemens no more were instituted in the church is no less evident. And this carries the conviction of its truth so clearly with it that Lombard himself confesseth, “Hos solos ministrorum duos ordines ecclesiam primitivam habuisse, et de his solis præceptum apostoli nos habere,” lib. iv. Sen. D. 24. It seems, moreover, that those bishops and deacons in those days, as was observed, were appointed to the office by and with the consent of the people, or whole body of the church; no less do these words import, Συνευδοκησάσης τῆς ἐκκλησίας πάσης. Our doctor, indeed, renders these words, “Applaudente aut congratulante ecclesia tota;” and adds (satis pro imperio) “nihil hic de acceptatione totius ecclesiæ, sine qua episcopos et diaconos ab apostolis et apostolicis viris constitutos non esse, ex hoc loco concludit Blondellus, quasi, qui ex Dei jussu et approbatione constituebantur, populi etiam acceptatione indigere putandi essent,” Dissert. iv. cap. vii. 8, 10. And who dares take that confidence upon him as to affirm any more what so great a doctor hath denied! Though the scope of the place, the nature of the thing, and first most common sense of the word here used, be willingly to consent (as it is also used in the Scripture, for the most part, Acts viii. 1, 1 Cor. vii. 12) to a thing to be done, or to the doing of it, yet here it must be taken to applaud or congratulate, or what else our doctor pleases, because he will have it so. Ἐλλόγιμοι ἄνδρες, also, must be “viri apostolici,” men with apostolical or extraordinary power, when they are only the choice men of the church where such a constitution of officers is had that are intended, because it is to our doctor’s purpose to have the words so rendered. “Ex jussu Dei et approbatione” is added, as though any particular command or approbation of God were intimated for the constitution of the bishops and deacons mentioned, beyond the institution of the Lord Jesus Christ that elders should be ordained in every church; because this is, it seems, to be exclusive wholly of the consent of the people, as any way needful or required to their constitution; which yet, as it is practically false, no such thing being mentioned by Clemens, who recounteth the ways and means whereby officers were continued in the church even after the decease of the apostles and those first ordained by them to that holy employment, so also is it argumentatively weak and unconcluding. God appointed, designed Saul to be king, approving of his so being, and yet he would have the people come together to choose him: so also was it in the case of David. Though the apostles, in the name and by the authority of God, appointed the deacons of the church at Jerusalem, yet they would have the whole church look out among themselves the men to be appointed. And that the ordaining of the elders was with the people’s election, Acts xiv. 23, it will ere long be manifested that neither our doctor nor any of his associates have as yet disproved. This poor thing “the people,” being the peculiar people of Christ, the heritage of God, and holy temple unto him, etc., will one day be found to be another manner of thing than many of our great doctors have supposed. But he informs us, cap. iv. sect. 3, from that testimony which we cited before, that the apostles in the appointment of bishops and deacons (for so the words expressly are) are said τῷ Πνεύματι δοκιμάσαι, — that is, saith he, “Revelationibus edoctos esse, quibus demum hæc dignitas communicanda esset;” that is, that they appointed those whom God revealed to them in an extraordinary manner to be so ordained, and this is the meaning of τῷ Πνεύματι δοκιμάσαντες. And why so? The Holy Ghost orders concerning the appointment of deacons δοκιμαζέσθωσαν πρῶτον, 1 Tim. iii. 10. That those who are to be taken into office and power in the church had need first to be tried and approved is granted, and this work the apostles give to the multitude of the church, Acts vi. 3; — where yet, after the people’s election, and the apostles’ approbation, and the trial by both, one that was chosen is supposed to have proved none of the best; and yet of him and them are the apostles said by Clemens that they did τῷ Πνεύματι δοκιμάσαι. But how shall it be made to appear that “Spiritu probantes,” trying or proving by the Spirit, or spiritually proving them, to try whether they were able ministers of the new testament, not of the letter but of the Spirit, proving them by that Spirit; which was promised unto them “to lead them into all truth,” must needs signify they were taught whom they should appoint by immediate revelation? To prove by the Spirit, or spiritually, the persons that are to be made ministers or bishops, is to have their names revealed to us! Stephen is said to speak ἐν τῷ Πνεύματι, Acts vi. 10; and Paul purposed ἐν τῷ Πνεύματι, Acts xix. 21; and we are said to serve God ἐν τῷ Πνεύματι, Gal. v. 5; and to make supplication ἐν τῷ Πνεύματι, Eph. vi. 18; with many more expressions of the like nature. Does all this relate to immediate revelation, and are all things done thereby which we are said to do in the Spirit? Before we were instructed in this mystery, and were informed that δοκιμάσαντες τῷ Πνεύματι did signify to be “taught by revelation,” we had thought that the expression of doing any thing τῷ Πνεύματι had manifested the assistance, guidance, and direction, which for the doing it we receive by the holy and blessed Spirit of God, promised unto us, and bestowed on, in, and through the Lord Jesus Christ. Yea, but he adds that it is also spoken of the apostles, πρόγνωσιν præcognitionem, that is, revelationem εἰληφότες τελείαν, they appointed them bishops and deacons; by the help and presence of the Spirit with them the apostles examined and tried those who were to be appointed bishops, so obtaining and receiving a perfect foreknowledge, or knowledge of them before their admission into office. This also expresses revelation (πρόγνωσιν εἰληφότες), upon trial it was revealed unto them! and so must any thing else be allowed to be that our doctor will have to be so, now he is asserting to that purpose. But had the ἐλλόγιμοι ἄνδρες who appointed bishops and deacons after the apostles’ time, had they also this special revelation? or may they not be said δοκιμάσαι τῷ Πνεύματι; If not, how will you look upon them under the notion of ἐλλογίμων ἀνδρῶν who neglected so great a duty? If they did, let us know when this way of constituting church officers by immediate revelation ceased, and what was afterward taken up in the room thereof, and who they were that first proceeded on another account, and on what authority they did so. There is a generation of men in the world which will thank the doctor for this insinuation, and will tie knots upon it that will trouble him to loose.

Before we return, let us look but a little farther, and we shall have a little more light given us into what was the condition and power of the people in the church in the days of Clemens. Speaking of them who occasioned the division and schism in the church of Corinth, or them about whose exaltation into office, or dejection from it, that sad difference fell out, he gives them this advice: Τίς οὖν ἐν ὑμῖν γενναῖος; τίς εὔσπλαγχνος; τὶς πεπληρωμένος ἀγάπης; εἰπάτω· Εἰ δι’ ἐμὲ στάσις, καὶ ἔρις, καὶ σχίσματα, ἐκχωρῶ ἄπειμι οὗ ἐὰν βούλησθε, καὶ ποιῶ τὰ προστασσόμενα ὑπὸ τοῦ πλήθους· μόνον τὸ ποίμνιον τοῦ Χριστοῦ εἰρηνευέτω, μετὰ τῶν καθεσταμένων πρεσβυτέρων. It seems the πλῆθος, the multitude, or the people, were not such poor, inconsiderable things as they are reported to be, when he advises them to stop and stay the sedition, by yielding obedience to the things by them appointed and commanded. If it were in itself evil, disorderly, and not according to the mind of Christ, that the people should order and appoint things in the church, it had been simply evil for Clemens to have advised any to yield obedience unto things by them so appointed. Where is now Ignatius’ ὑποτάσσεσθε τῷ ἐπισκότῳ and χωρὶς ἐπισκοποῦ, etc.? Even those who are contending about rule and government in the church are advised to stand to the determination of the people, and to cry, Τὰ προστασσόμενα ὑπὸ τοῦ πλήθους ποιοῦμεν. This is also insisted on by Blondellus, who thence argues “potestatem plebis circa sacra.” Dissert. v. cap. viii. sect. 4, “Ad verba hæc,” saith our doctor, “prodigii instar est quod notandum duxit Dav. Blondellus potestatem plebis circa sacra (de qua tandem integram dissertationem elucubravit) artificiis quibuscunque asserturus. Hic (inquit) nos monet Clemens fideles etiam de episeopatu aut presbyterio contendentes, non ab episcopi singulari καὶ ὑπερέχοντος nutu, sed a multitudinis præceptis pependisse.” But let not our doctor be angry, nor cry out so fast of prodigies; a little time will manifest that many things may not be prodigious, which yet are contrary to sundry of his conceptions and apprehensions. I cannot but acknowledge him to be provoked; but withal must say, that I have found very commonly that reasons ushered in by such loud clamours have, on examination, proved to have stood in need of some such noises as might fright men from the consideration of them. What is in the next sections set up to shield the children of episcopacy from being affrighted with this prodigy may perhaps be of more efficacy thereunto than the exclamations before mentioned; he therefore proceeds, sect. 5. “Certe,” saith he, “si serio rem ageret Dav. Blondellus de presbyteris suis (non de episcopis nostris) actum plane et triumphatum erit, nec enim ab universo aliquo presbyterorum collegio, quod ille tam afflictim ardet, sed a multitudinis solius arbitrio, tum contendentes de episcopo, tum fideles omnes Corinthios pependisse æque concludendum erit.” If any man in the world hath manifested more desperate affection towards presbytery than this doctor hath done towards episcopacy, for my part solus habeto. But though neither Clemens nor Blondellus speaks any one word about the ordering of things “multitudinis solius arbitrio,” yet here is that said by them both which is sufficiently destructive, not only to the episcopacy the doctor contends for, as a thing wholly inconsistent with the power and liberty here granted the people, but of any such presbytery also as shall undertake the ordering and disposing of things in the church of God without the consent and concurrent suffrage of the people. Such a presbytery, it seems, Blondellus does not defend. But yet neither the doctor’s outcry as at a prodigy, nor this retortion upon presbytery is any answer to the testimony of Clemens, nor, indeed, is there the least possible reflection upon an orderly gospel presbytery in any church and over it by what Clemens here professeth to be the power of the people; all the appearance of any such thing is from the term “solius,” foisted into the discourse of Blondellus by the doctor, in his taking of it up to retort at. Clemens in the very next words secures us from any thought that all things depended “a multitudinis solius arbitrio.” His very next words are, Μόνον τὸ ποίμνοιν τοῦ Χριστοῦ εἰρηνευέτω, μετὰ τῶν καθεσταμένων πρεσβυτέρων. Our doctors and masters (having stuffed their imaginations with the shape and lineament of that hierarchical fabric which the craft, policy, subtlety, avarice, pride, and ambition, of many ages successively had formed and framed according to the pattern they saw in the mount of the world and the governments therein), upon the first hearing of a church, a flock of Christ, walking in orderly subjection to their own elders, concurring with them and consenting to them in their rule and government, instantly, as men amazed, cry out, “A prodigy!” It is not imaginable into what ridiculous, contemptible miscarriages, pride, prejudice, and self-fulness, do oftentimes betray men, otherwise of good abilities in their ways and very commendable industry.

But, sect. 6, the doctor comes closer, and gives his reason why this testimony of Clemens is not of any efficacy to the purpose in hand. Saith he, “At quis (sodes) a fidelibus de episcopatu (ut vis) contra ipsos ab apostolis constitutos episcopos contendentibus; quis a populo contra principem suum tumultus ciente; quis verbis ad retundendum seditionem ad plebem factis, argumenta ad authoritatem populo adjudicandum, principi derogandum duci posse existimavit?” Though many words follow in the next section, yet this is all of answer that is given to this signal testimony of Clemens. I know the doctor, for the most part, meets not only with favourable readers, but also partial admirers, or else, certainly, his exclamation would scarce pass for an invincible argument, nor such rhetorical diversions as this be esteemed solid answers. There is not by Blondellus any argument taken from the faithful’s tumultuating against the bishops (that “If appointed by the apostles,” which is thrust in, taken for the persons of those bishops, is against the express testimony of Clemens in this epistle), nor from the people’s seditiously rebelling against their prince, nor from any word spoken to the people to repress their sedition; neither was any thing of this nature urged in the least by Blondellus; nor is there any colour given to such a collection from any thing in the words cited from the epistle or the context of them. It is the advice of the church of Rome to the persons (whether already in office or aspiring thereunto) about whom the contention and division was in the church of Corinth that is insisted on. It is not the words or plea of them who were in disorder. There is not any reprehension given to the body of the church, the multitude, or people, who are supposed to tumultuate, to quiet them, but a direction given, as was said, by the church of Rome to the persons that occasioned the difference, how to behave themselves, so that a timely issue might be put to the division of the church. To this end are they advised to observe the προστάγματα, the orders, precepts, decrees, or appointments, of “the multitude,” as, from Acts xv. 12, the body of the church is called. It is not that they should yield to their tumultuating, but yield obedience to their orderly precepts. Τὰ προστασσόμενα ὑπὸ τοῦ πλήθους are by him approved; and had it not been lawful for them with the presbyters προστάττειν in the affairs of the church, Clemens, writing this epistle the whole church, could not possibly have led them into a greater snare.

It is a sad thing to consider the pitiful entanglements and snares that some men run into, who will undertake to make good what they have once engaged for, let what will come against them.

To return, then: it is evident that in the time of Clemens there were but two sorts of officers in the church, bishops and deacons; whereas the epistles of Ignatius do precisely, in every place where any mention is made of them (as there is upon occasions and upon none at all), insist on three orders, distinct in name and things. With Clemens it is not so. Those whom he calls bishops in one place, the very same persons he immediately calls presbyters, after the example of Paul, Acts xx. 28, Titus i. 5, 7, and plainly asserts episcopacy to be the office of presbyters. Ἁμαρτία, saith he, οὐ μικρὰ ἡμῖν ἔσται ἐὰν τοὺς ἀμέμπτως καὶ ὁσίως προσενέγκοντας τὰ δῶρα τῆς ἐπισκοπῆς ἀποζάλωμεν. Μακάριοι ὁι προοδοιπορήσαντες πρεσβύτεροι, — namely, because they were in no danger to be cast from their episcopacy. And whereas the fault which he reproves in the church of Corinth is their division, and want of due subjection to their spiritual governors, according to the order which Christ hath appointed in all the churches of the saints, he affirms plainly that those governors were the presbyters of the church: Αἰσχρὰ, saith he, καὶ λίαν αἰσχρὰ, καὶ ἀνάξια τῆς ἐν Κριστῷ ἀγωγῆς ἀκούεται, τῆν βεβαιοτάτην, καὶ ἀρχαίαν Κορινθίων ἐκκλησίαν, δι’ ἓν ἢ δύο πρόσωπα, στασιάζειν πρὸς τοὺς πρεσβυτέρους. And in all places throughout the whole epistle, writing ἐκκλησίᾳ τοῦ Θεοῦ παροικούσῃ Κόρινθον, that particular church of Corinth, the saints dwelling there, walking in the order and fellowship of the gospel, where he treats of those things, he still intimates a plurality of presbyters in the church (as there may, nay, there ought to be, in every single congregation, Acts xx. 28), without the least intimation of any singular person promoted, upon any account whatever, above his fellows. So in the advice given to the persons who occasioned the division before mentioned, Μόνον τὸ ποίμνιον τοῦ Χριστοῦ εἰρηνευέτω μετὰ τῶν καθισταμένων πρεσβυτέρων. Had there been a singular bishop at Corinth, much more a metropolitan, such as our doctor speaks him to have been, it had been impossible that he should be thus passed by in silence.

But the doctor gives you a double answer to this observation, with the several parts whereof I doubt not but that he makes himself merry, if he can suppose that any men are so wedded to his dictates as to give them entertainment; for indeed they are plainly jocular. But learned men must have leave sometimes to exercise their fancies, and to sport themselves with their own imaginations.

First, then, for the mention that is made of many presbyters in the church of Corinth, to whom Clemens, in the name of the church of Rome, exhorts to give all due respect, honour, obedience: He tells you that by “The church of Corinth,” all the churches of Achaia are meant and intended. The epistle is directed only Τῇ ἐκκλησία τοῦ Θεοῦ παροικούσῃ Κόρινθον, without the least intimation of any other church or churches. The difference it is written about was occasioned by one or two persons in that church only; it is that church alone that is exhorted to order and due subjection to their elders. From the beginning to the end of the epistle, there is not one word, apex, or tittle, to intimate the designation of it to any church or churches beyond the single church of Corinth, or that they had any concernment in the difference spoken to. The fabric of after ages ties so close to the doctor’s imagination that there is no entrance for the true frame of the primitive church of Christ; and therefore every thing must be wrested and apportioned to the conceit of such an episcopacy as he hath entertained. Whereas he ought to crop off both head and heels of his own imagination, and the episcopacy of the latter days, which he too dearly affects, he chooseth rather to stretch and torture the ancient government of the church, that it may seem to answer the frame presently contended for. But let us a little attend to the doctor’s learned argument, whereby he endeavours to make good his assertion:—

1. He tells you that Corinth was the chief city of Achaia, the metropolis (in a political sense and acceptation of the word) of Greece, where the proconsul had his residence, Dissert. v. cap. ii. sect. 3. Let us grant this to our learned doctor, lest we should find nothing to gratify him withal; what then will follow? Hence, saith he, it will follow, sect. 4, that this epistle which was sent, “Ecclesiæ παροικούσῃ Κόρινθον, non ad unius civitatis ecclesiam, sed ad omnes totius Achaiæ Christianos, per singulas civitates et regiones, sub episcopis aut præfectis suis ubique collocatas missa existimetur.” But pray, doctor, why so? We poor creatures, who are not so sharp-sighted as to discern a metropolitan archbishop at Corinth, on whom all the bishops in Greece were dependent, nor can find any instituted church in the Scripture or in Clemens of one denomination beyond a single congregation, cannot but think that all the strength of this consectary, from the insinuation of such a state of things in the church God, is nothing but a pure begging of the thing in question, which will never be granted upon such terms.

Yea, but he adds, sect. 5, that “Paul wrote his epistle not only to the church of Corinth, but also to all the churches of Achaia; therefore Clemens did so also.” At first view this argument seems not very conclusive, yea, appears, indeed, very ridiculous. The enforcement of it which ensues may perhaps give new life and vigour to it. How, then, is it proved that Paul wrote not only to the church of Corinth, but to all them in Achaia also? Why, saith he, in the second epistle, chap. i. verse 1, it is so expressed. He writes, Τῇ ἐκκλησίᾳ τοῦ Θεοῦ τῇ οὔσῃ ἐν Κορίνθῳ, σὺν τοῖς ἁγίοις πᾶσι τοῖς οὖσιν ἐν ὅλῃ τῇ Αχαΐᾳ. Very good. It is indisputably evident that Paul wrote his second epistle to the church at Corinth and all the rest of Achaia, for he expressly affirms himself so to do; and for the first epistle, it is directed not only to the church of Corinth, chap. i., verse 2, but also πᾶσι τοῖς ἐπικαλουμένοις τὸ ὄνομα τοῦ Κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ ἐν παντὶ τόπῳ — that is, saith our doctor, in the whole region of Achaia! So, indeed, says the doctor’s great friend, Grotius, to whom he is beholden for more than one rare notion. I say it not in any way of any reproach to the doctor, only I cannot but think his careful warding of himself against the thoughts of men that he should be beholden to Grotius doth exceedingly unbecome the doctor’s gravity and self-denial. This is complained of by some who have tried it in reference to his late comment on the Revelation. And in this Dissertation he is put by his own thoughts (I will not say guilty) to an apology, cap. i. sect. 24: “Qua in re suffragium suum tulisse Hugonem Grotium τὸν πάνυ ex annotationibus posthumis, nuper editis, et postquam hæc omnia typographo transcripta essent, cursim perlectis edoctum gratulor.” Let not the reader think that Dr Hammond had transmitted his papers full of rare conjectures to the printer before Grotius’ Annotations upon the Revelation were published, but only before he had read them. The doctor little thinks what a fly this is in his pot of ointment, nor how indecent with all impartial men such apologies, subservient to a frame of spirit in bondage to a man’s own esteem and reputation, appear to be. But let this pass, and let the saints that call upon the name of Jesus Christ in every place be the saints in every part of Achaia, — though the epistle itself (written, indeed, upon occasion taken from the church of Corinth, yet) was given by inspiration from God for the use not only of all the saints in the whole world at that time wherein it was written, but of all those who were to believe in any part or place of the world to the end thereof, — although the assertion of it be not built on any tolerable conjecture, but may be rejected with the same facility wherewith it is tendered, what now will hence ensue? Why, hence it follows that Clemens also wrote his epistle to all the churches in Achaia. Very good! Paul writing an epistle entitled chiefly to the Corinthians, expressly and ῥητῶς directs it to the saints or churches of Achaia, yea, to all that call upon the name of God in every place, so that his epistle, being of catholic concernment, is not to be confined to the church of Corinth only, although most of the particular things mentioned in that epistle related only to that particular church; therefore, Clemens directing his epistle to the church of Corinth only, not once mentioning nor insinuating an intention of extending it to any other, handling in it only the peculiar concernment of that church, and a difference about one or two persons therein, must be supposed to have written to all the churches of Achaia! And if such arguments as these will not prove episcopacy to be of apostolical constitution, what will prevail with men so to esteem it! —

― “Si Pergama dextrâ

Defendi possent, etiam hac defensa fuissent.”

Æn. ii. 291, 292.

And this is the cause of naming many elders or presbyters in one church! For my part, I suppose the doctor might more probably have adhered to a former conjecture of his, Dissert. iv. cap. x. sect. 9. Concerning two sundry different churches, where were distinct officers, in the same city, “Primo,” saith he, “respondeo non usque quaque verum est, quod pro concesso sumitur, quamvis enim in una ecclesia aut cætu plures simul episcopi nunquam fuerint” (pray except them mentioned Acts xx. 28, and those Acts xiv. 23), “nihil tamen obstare quin in eadem civitate duo aliquando cætus disterminati fuerint.” He might, I say, with more show of probability have abode by this observation than to have rambled over all Greece to relieve himself against his adversaries. But yet neither would this suffice. What use may or will be made of this concession shall elsewhere be manifested.

But the doctor hath yet another answer to this multiplication of elders, and the mention of them with deacons, with the evident identity that is between them and bishops through the whole epistle, the same persons being unquestionably intended, in respect of the same office, by both these appellations. Now, this second answer is founded upon the supposition of the former (a goodly foundation!) — namely, that the epistle under consideration was written and sent not to the church of Corinth only, but to all the churches of Achaia, of which Corinth was the metropolitan.

2. Now, this second answer is, that the elders or presbyters here mentioned were properly those whom he calls bishops, diocesans, — men of a third rank and order, above deacons and presbyters in the church administrations and government; and for those who are properly called presbyters, there were then none in the church. To give colour to this miserable evasion, Dissert. iv. cap. x. sect. 11, he discourseth about the government and ordering of church affairs by bishops and deacons in some churches that were small, not yet formed or completed, nor come to perfection at the first planting of them. How well this is accommodated to the church of Corinth, which Clemens calls βεβαιοτατην καὶ ἀρχαίαν, and which himself would have to be a metropolitical church, being confessedly great, numerous, furnished with great and large gifts and abilities, may be seen with half an eye. How ill, also, this shift is accommodated to help in the case for whose service it was first invented, is no less evident. It was to save the sword of Phil. i. 1 from the throat of the episcopacy he contendeth for. That epistle is directed to the saints or church at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons. Two things do here trouble our doctor:— (1.) The mention of more bishops than one at Philippi; (2.) The knitting together of bishops and deacons, as the only two orders in the church, bringing down episcopacy one degree at least from that height whereto he would exalt it. For the first of these, he tells you that Philippi was the metropolitan church of the province of Macedonia; that the rest of the churches, which had every one their several bishops (diocesan we must suppose), were all comprised in the mentioning of Philippi: so that though the epistle be precisely directed τοῖς ἁγίοις τοῖς οὖσιν ἐν Φιλίπποις, yet the bishops that were with them must be supposed to be bishops of the whole province of Macedonia, because the church of Philippi was the metropolitan. The whole country must have been supposed to be converted, (and who that knows any thing of antiquity will dispute that!) and so divided with diocesans, as England of late was, the archbishop’s see being at Philippi. But how came it then to pass that there is mention made of bishops and deacons only, without any one word of a third order, or rank of men distinct from them, called presbyters or elders? To this he answers, secondly, that when the church was first planed, before any great number was converts, or any fit to be made presbyters, there were only those two orders instituted, bishops and deacons: so that this church at Philippi seems to have been a metropolitical infant! The truth is, if ever the doctor be put upon reconciling the contradictions of his answers one to another, not only in this, but almost in every particular he deals withal (an entanglement which he is thrown into by his bold and groundless conjectures), he will find it to be as endless as fruitless; but it is not my present business to interpose in his quarrels, either with himself or presbytery. As to the matter under consideration, I desire only to be resolved in these few queries:—

1. If there were in the times of Clemens no presbyters in the churches, not [even] in so great and flourishing a church as that of Corinth, and if all the places in the Scripture where there is mention of elders do precisely intend bishops, in a distinction from them who are only deacons and not bishops also, as he asserts, when, by whom, and by what authority, were elders who are only so, inferior to bishops peculiarly so termed, instituted and appointed in the churches? And how comes it to pass that there is such express mention made of the office of deacons, and the continuance of it, — none at all of elders, who are acknowledged to be superior to them, and on whose shoulders in all their own churches lies the great weight and burden of all ecclesiastical administrations? As we say of their bishops, so shall we of any presbyters not instituted and appointed by the authority of Jesus Christ in the church, “Let them go to the place from whence they came.”

2. I desire the doctor to inform me in what sense he would have me to understand him, Dissert. ii. cap. xxix. sect. 21, 22, where he disputes that these words of Jerome, “Antequam studia in religione fierent, et diceretur in populis, ego sum Pauli, ego Cephæ, communi presbyterorum consensu ecclesiæ gubernabantur,” are to be understood of the times of the apostles, when the first schism was in the church of Corinth, when it seems that neither then nor a good while after was there any such thing as presbyters in the church of Corinth, nor in any other church as we can hear of; as also, to tell us whether all those presbyters were bishops properly so called, distinct from elders who are only so, out of whom one man is chosen to be a bishop properly so called. To these inquiries I shall only add, —

3. That whereas in the Scripture we find clearly but two sorts of church-officers mentioned, as also in this epistle of Clemens, the third, that was afterward introduced, be it what it will, or fall on whom it will, that we oppose. This, saith the doctor, is that of presbytery. Give us churches instituted according to the word of Christ; give us in every church bishops and deacons (rather than we will quarrel, give us a bishop and deacons); let those bishops attend the particular flock over which they are appointed, preaching the word and administering the holy ordinances of the gospel in and to their own flock, — and I dare undertake for all the contenders for presbytery in this nation, and much more for the Independents, that there shall be an end of this quarrel; that they will not strive with the doctor, nor any living, for the introduction of any third sort of persons (though they should be called presbyters) into church office and government. Only this I must add, that the Scripture more frequently terms this second sort of men elders and presbyters than it doth bishops; and that word having been appropriated to a third sort peculiarly, we desire leave of the doctor and his associates if we also most frequently call them so, no ways declining the other appellation of bishops, so that it may be applied to signify the second, and not a third, rank of men. But of this whole business, with the nature, constitution, and frame, of the first churches, and the sad mistakes that men have, by their own prejudices, been engaged into in their delineation of them, a fuller opportunity, if God will, may ere long be afforded.

To return, then, to our Ignatius: Even upon this consideration of the difference that is between the epistles ascribed to him and the writings of one of the same time with him, or not long before him, as to their language and expression about church order and officers, it is evident that there hath been ill-favoured tampering with them, by them who thought to avail themselves of his authority for the asserting of that which never came into his mind.

As I intimated before, I have not insisted on any of those things, nor do on them altogether, with the like that may be added, as a sufficient foundation for the total rejection of those epistles which go under the name of Ignatius. There is in some of them a sweet and gracious spirit of faith, love, holiness, zeal for God, becoming so excellent and holy a witness of Christ as he was, evidently breathing and working. Neither is there any need at all that, for the defence of our hypothesis concerning the non-institution of any church-officer whatever relating to more churches in his office, or any other church, than a single particular congregation, we should so reject them; for although many passages usually insisted on, and carefully collected by Dr Hammond for the proof of such an episcopacy to have been received by them of old as is now contended for, are exceedingly remote from the way and manner of the expression of those things used by the divine writers, with them also that followed after, both before, as hath been manifested, and some while after the days of Ignatius, as might be farther clearly evinced, and are thrust into the series of the discourse with such an incoherent impertinency as proclaims an interpolation, being some of them also very ridiculous, and so foolishly hyperbolical that they fall very little short of blasphemies, yet there are expressions in all or most of them that will abundantly manifest that he who was their author (whoever he was) never dreamt of any such fabric of church-order as in after ages was insensibly reared. Men who are full of their own apprehensions, begotten in them by such representations of things as either their desired presence hath exhibited to their mind or any after-prejudicate presumption hath possessed them with, are apt, upon the least appearance of any likeness unto that church they fancy, to imagine that they see the face and all the lineaments thereof, when, upon due examination, it will be easily discovered that there is not indeed the least resemblance between what they find in, and what they bring to, the authors in and of whom they make their inquiry. The Papists, having hatched and owned by several degrees that monstrous figment of transubstantiation (to instance among many in that abomination), — a folly destructive to whatever is in us as being living creatures, men, or Christians, or whatever by sense, reason, or religion, we are furnished withal, offering violence to us in what we hear, in what we see with our eyes and look upon, in what our hands do handle, and our palates taste, breaking in upon our understandings with vagrant, flying forms, self-subsisting accidents, with as many express contradictions on sundry accounts as the nature of things is capable of relation unto, attended with more gross idolatry than that of the poor naked Indians who fall down and worship a piece of red cloth, or of those who first adore their gods and then correct them, — do yet upon the discovery of any expressions among the ancients which they now make use of quite to another end and purpose than they did who first ventured upon them, having minds filled with their own abominations, presently cry out and triumph, as if they had found the whole fardel of the mass in its perfect dress, and their breaden god in the midst of it. It is no otherwise in the case of episcopacy. Men of these latter generations, from what they saw in present being, and that usefulness of it to all their desires and interests, having entertained thoughts of love to it and delight in it, searching antiquity, not to instruct them in the truth, but to establish their prejudicate opinion received by tradition from their fathers, and to consult them with whom they have to do, whatever expressions they find or can hear of that fall in, as to the sound of words, with what is now insisted upon, instantly they cry out, “Vicimus Io Pæan!” What a simple generation of Presbyters and Independents have we, that are ignorant of all antiquity, or do not understand what they read and look upon! Hence, if we will not believe that in Ignatius’ days there were many parish churches, with their single priests, in subordination to a diocesan bishop, either immediately or by the interposed power of a chore-episcopus, and the like; and those diocesans, again, in the precincts of provinces, laid in a due subjection to their metropolitans, who took care of them as they of their parish priests; every individual church having no officer but a presbyter; every diocesan church having no presbyter, but a bishop; and every metropolitan church having neither presbyter nor bishop properly related unto it as such, but an archbishop, — we are worse than infidels! Truly I cannot but wonder whether it doth not sometimes enter into these men’s thoughts to apprehend how contemptible they are in their proofs for the fathering of such an ecclesiastical distribution of governors and government, as undeniably lackeyed after the civil divisions and constitutions of the times and places wherein it was introduced, upon those holy persons, whose souls never once entered into the secrets thereof.

Thus fares it with our doctor and his Ignatius: Οὐκ ἴδεν, ἀλλ’ ἐδόκησεν ἰδεῖν διὰ νύκτα σελήνην. I shall only crave leave to say to him as Augustus of Quintilius Varus, upon the loss of his legions in Germany under his command, “Quintili Vare, redde legiones. Domine doctor, redde ecclesias.” Give us the churches of Christ, such as they were in the days of the apostles, and down to Ignatius, though before that time (if Hegesippus may be believed) somewhat defloured, and our contest about church officers and government will be nearer at an end than perhaps you will readily imagine. Give us a church all whose members are holy, called, sanctified, justified, living stones, temples for the Holy Ghost, saints, believers, united to Christ the head by the Spirit that is given to them and dwelleth in them; a church whose πλῆθος is ὅπου ἂν φανῆ ὁ ἐπίσκοπος that doth nothing by its members apart, that appertains to church-order, but when it is gathered ἐπὶ τὸ αὐτὸ· a church that being so gathered together in one place, σπουδάζει πάντα πράσσειν ἐν ὁμονοίᾳ Θεοῦ, προκαθημένου τοῦ ἐπισκόπου, acting in church things, in its whole body, under the rule and presidence of its officers; a church walking in order, and not as some, who ἐπίσκοπον μὲν καλοῦσιν, χώρις δὲ αὐτοῦ πάντα πράσσουσιν, (of whom, saith Ignatius, ὅι τοιοῦτοι οὐκ εὐσυνείδητοι μὲν εἶναι φαίνονται, διὰ μὲν τὸ μὴ βεβαίως κατ’ ἐντολὴν συναθροίζεσθαι, such as calling the bishop to the assemblies, yet do all things without him, — the manner of some in our days, — he supposeth not to keep the assemblies according to the command of Christ); — give us, I say, such a church, and let us come to them when they are πάντες ἐπὶ τὸ αὐτὸ, ἐν τῇ προσευχῇ ἅμα συναχθέντες, such as the churches in the days of Ignatius appear to have been, and are so rendered in the quotations taken from his epistles by the learned doctor for the confirmation of episcopacy, and, as I said before, the contest of this present digression will quickly draw to an issue. Being unwilling to go too far out of my way, I shall not, —

1. Consider the severals instanced in for the proof of episcopacy by the doctor. Seeing undeniably the interpretation must follow and be proportioned by the general issue of that state of the church in the days wherein those epistles were writ, or are pretended so to be, if that appear to be such as I have mentioned, I presume the doctor himself will confess that his witnesses speak not one word to his business, for whose confirmation he doth produce them. Nor, —

2. Shall I insist upon the degeneration of the institutions and appointments of Jesus Christ concerning church administrations, in the management of the succeeding churches, as principled and spirited by the operative and efficacious mystery of iniquity, occasioned and advantaged by the accommodation of ecclesiastical affairs to the civil distributions and merits of the political state of things in those days. Nor, —

3. Insist much farther on the exceeding dissimilitude and unconformity that is between the expressions concerning church officers and affairs in these epistles (whencesoever they come), and those in the writings of unquestionable credit immediately before and after them, as also the utter silence of the Scripture in those things wherewith they so abound. The Epistle of Clemens, of which mention was made before, was written for the composing and quieting of a division and distemper that was fallen out in the church of Corinth. Of the cause of that dissension that then miserably rent that congregation, he informs us in that complaint that some οὐ δικαίως ἀπποβαλέσθαι τῆς λειτουργίας, were wrongfully cast from the ministry by the multitude: and he tells you that these were good, honest men, and faithful in the discharge of their duty; for saith he, Ὁρῶμεν ὅτι ἐνίους ὑμεῖς μετηγάγετε, καλῶς πολιτευομένους, ἐκ τῆς ἀμέμπτως αὐτοῖς τετιμημένης λειτουργίας, though they were unblamable both in their conversation and ministry, yet they removed them from their office. To reprove this evil, to convince them of the sinfulness of it, to reduce them to a right understanding of their duty and order, walking in the fellowship of the gospel, what course doth he proceed in? what arguments doth he use? He minds them of one God, one Christ, one body, one faith; tells them that wicked men alone use such ways and practices; bids them read the epistle of Paul, formerly written to them upon occasion of another division, and to be subject to their own elders, and all of them to leave off contending, quietly doing the things which the people, or the body of the church, delivered and commanded. Now, had this person, writing on this occasion, using all sorts of arguments, artificial or inartificial, for his purpose, been baptized into the opinion and esteem of a single episcopal superintendent, — whose exaltation seems to be the design of much which is said in the epistles of Ignatius, in the sense wherein his words are usually taken, — and yet never once so much as bid them be subject to the bishop, that “resemblance of God the Father, supplying of the place of Christ,” nor told them how terrible a thing it was to disobey trim, nor pawned his soul for theirs that should submit to him, that all that obeyed him were safe, all that disobeyed him were rebellious, cursed, and separated from God; what apology can be made for the weakness and ignorance of that holy martyr, if we shall suppose him to have had apprehensions like those in these epistles of that sacred order, for omitting those all-conquering reasons which they would have supplied him withal to his purpose in hand, and pitching on arguments every way less cogent and useful? But I say I shall not insist on any such things as these, but only, —

4. I say that there is not in any of the doctor’s excerpta from these epistles, nor in any passage in them, any mention or the least intimation of any church whereunto any bishop was related, but such an one as whose members met all together in one place, and with their bishop disposed and ordered the affairs of the church. Such was that whereunto the holy martyr was related; such were those neighbouring churches that sent bishops or elders to that church; and when the doctor proves the contrary, “erit mihi magnus Apollo.” From the churches, and their state and constitution, is the state and condition of their officers, and their relation to them, to be taken. Let that be manifested to be such, from the appointment of Jesus Christ by his apostles, or de facto in the days of Ignatius, or before the contemperation of ecclesiastical affairs, occasionally or by choice, to the civil constitution of cities and provinces in those days, as would, or possibly could, bear a rural, diocesan, metropolitical hierarchy, and this controversy will be at an end. When this is by any attempted to be demonstrated, I desire it may not be with such sentences as that urged by our doctor from Epist. ad Eph., Ἰησοῦς Χριστὸς τοῦ πατρὸς ἡ γνώμη, ὡς καὶ οἱ ἐπίσκοποι οἱ κατὰ τὰ πέρατα ὁρισθέντες Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ γνώμη εἰσὶν· the expression in it concerning Christ being unsound, unscriptural; concerning bishops, unintelligible or ridiculous. But it may be said, “What need we any more writing, what need we any truer proof or testimony? the learned doctor, in his Dissertations, Dissert. iv. cap. v. hath abundantly discharged this work, and proved the seven bishops of the seven churches mentioned Rev. ii., iii., to have been metropolitans or archbishops, so that no just cause remains why we should farther contend.”

Let, then, the reader pardon this my utmost excursion in this digression, to whose compass I had not the least thought of going forth at the entrance thereof, and I shall return thither whence I have turned aside.

Dissert. iv. cap. v., the doctor tells us that “Septem ecclesiarum angeli, non tantum episcopi sed et metropolitæ, i.e., archiepiscopi statuendi sunt, i.e., principalium urbium ἔξαρχοι ad quos provinciæ integræ et in iis multarum inferiorum urbium ecclesiæ, earumque episcopi tanquam ad archiepiscopum aut metropolitanum pertinebant.”

The doctor in this chapter commences per saltum, and taking it for granted that he hath proved diocesan bishops sufficiently before, though he hath scarce spoken any one word to that purpose in his whole book (for to prove one superintending in a church by the name of bishop, others acting in some kind of subordination to him by the name of elders and presbyters, will, upon the account of what hath been offered concerning the state of the churches in those days, no way reach to the maintenance of this presumption), he sacrifices his pains to the metropolitical archiepiscopal dignity, which, as we must suppose, is so clearly founded in Scripture and antiquity that they are as blind as bats and moles who cannot see the ground and foundation of it.

But, first, be it taken for granted that the angels of the seven churches are to be taken for the governors of those churches, then that each angel be an individual bishop of the church to which he did belong; secondly, be it also granted that they were bishops of the most eminent church or churches in that province, or Roman political distribution of those countries in the management of the government of them, I say bishops of such churches, not “urbium ἔξαρχοι,” as the doctor terms them; — what advance is made by all this to the assertion of a metropolitical archiepiscopacy I cannot as yet discover. That they were ordinary officers of Christ’s institution, relating in their office and ordinary discharge of it not only to the particular churches wherein they were placed, but to many churches also, no less committed to their charge than those wherein they did reside, the officers, rulers, governors of which churches depended on them, not only as to their advice and counsel, but as to their power and jurisdiction, holding their place and employment from them, is some part of that which, in this undertaking, is incumbent on our doctor to make good, if he will not be supposed to prevaricate in the cause in hand. To this end he informs us, sect. secunda, that in the New Testament there is in sundry places mention made of “churches” in the plural number, as Gal. i. 2, 22; 1 Thess. ii. 14; Acts ix. 31, xv. 41; 1 Cor. xvi. 1; Rev. i. 11; — sometimes of “church” only in the singular number, as Acts viii. 1, xi. 26, xv. 3, 4, 22, Rom. xvi. 1; 1 Cor. i. 2; 2 Cor. i. 1; 1 Thess. i. 1; Rev. ii. 1, 8, 12, 18, iii. 1, 7, 14. Now, this is an observation, which as we are not at all beholden to the doctor for it, no more, I suppose, will there be found to be to it when the reason of it shall be a little weighed and considered. The sum is, that the name “church” in the singular number is never used but when it relates to the single congregation in, or of, one city or town; that of “churches” respecting the several churches or congregations that were gathered in any country or province. Manifest, then, is it from hence that there is in the New Testament no “church” of one denomination beyond a single congregation; and where there are more, they are always called “churches.” How evidently this is destructive to any diocesan or metropolitical officer, who hath no church left him thereby of Christ’s institution to be related to, another opportunity will manifest. For the present, let us see what use our doctor makes of this observation.

Sect. 3, says he, “Judea, and the rest of the places where churches are mentioned, are the names of provinces ἐπαρχιῶν, quatenus eæ παροικίαις et διοικήσεσι, contradistinguntur.” If the doctor takes these words in an ecclesiastical sense, he begs that which will, upon such unworthy terms, never be granted him; but if no more be intended but that Judea, Galatia, and the like names of countries, were provinces wherein were many churches, Smyrna, Ephesus, of towns and cities wherein there was but one, we grant it with him.

And how much that concession of ours is to his advantage hath been intimated. And this seems to be his intendment by his following words: “Provinciarum inquam in quibus plurimæ civitates, singulæ singularum ecclesiarum sedes, comprehendebantur, ideoque ecclesiæ in plurali istius sive istius provinciæ dicendæ.” Well, what then? “Cum tamen unaquæque civitas, cure territorio sibi adjuncto (λῆρος!) ab episcopo suo administrata, singularis ecclesia dicenda sit; ideoque quod κατ’ ἐκκλησίαν, factum dicitur, Acts xiv. 23; κατὰ πόλιν, fieri jubetur, Titus i. 5.” That in every city there was a singular church in those provinces (I speak of those where any number were converted to the faith) I grant; for the annexed territories let the doctor take care, there being one church at Corinth and another at Cenchrea: so that every single city had its own single church, with its bishops in it, as at Philippi. The passage mentioned by the doctor concerning the Epistle of Dionysius to the Church at Gortyna in Crete is very little to his purpose; neither doth he call Philip, the bishop of that church, the bishop of all the other churches in Crete, as the doctor intimates, but the bishop of them to whom especially and eminently he wrote.

Sect 4, application is made of the forementioned observation, sect. 2, and the interpretation given of it, sect. 3, in these words: “His sic positis, illud statim sequitur ut (in imperii cognitione) in provincia qualibet, cure plures urbes sint, una tamen primaria, et principalis censenda erat, μητρόπολις ideo dicta, cui itidem inferiores reliquæ civitates subjiciebantur, ut civitatibus regiones, sic et inter ecclesias et cathedras episcopales unam semper primariam et metropoliticam fuisse.”

In this section the doctor hath most ingenuously and truly given us the rise and occasion of his diocesan and metropolitical prelates. From the aims of men to accommodate ecclesiastical or church affairs to the state and condition of the civil government, and distributions of provinces, metropolitan cities, and chief towns, within the several dependencies (the neighbouring villages being cast in as things of no great esteem to the lot of the next considerable town and seat of judicature), did the hierarchy which he so sedulously contendeth for arise. What advantages were afforded to the work by the paucity of believers in the villages and less towns (from which at length the whole body of heathenish idolaters were denominated Pagans); the first planting of churches in the greater cities; the eminence of the officers of the first churches in those cities; the weakness of many rural bishops; the multiplying and growing (in numbers, and persons of gifts, abilities, and considerable fortunes and employments in this world,) in the metropolitan cities, with their fame thereby; the tradition of the abode of some one or other of the apostles in such cities and churches; the eminent accommodation for the administration of civil jurisdiction and other affairs, which appeared in that subordination and dependency whereinto the provinces, chief cities, and territories in the Roman empire were cast; with what opportunities Satan got by these means to introduce the ways, state, pomp, words, phrases, terms of honour of the world into the churches, insensibly getting ground upon them, and prevailing to their declension from the naked simplicity and purity wherein they were first planted, — some other occasion may give advantage for us to manifest. For the present it may suffice that it is granted that the magnific hierarchy of the church arose from the accommodation of its state and condition [to that] of the Roman empire and provinces; and this, in the instances of after-ages that might be produced, will easily be made yet farther evident in those shameful, or, indeed, rather shameless, contests which fell out among the bishops of the third century and downward about precedency, titles of honour, extent of jurisdiction, ecclesiastical subjection to or exemption from one another. The considerableness of their cities, in the civil state of the Roman empire, where they did reside was still the most prevalent and cogent argument in their brawls. The most notable brush that in all antiquity we find given to the great leviathan of Rome, who sported himself in those “gatherings together of the waters of people, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues,” or the “general councils,” as they are called, was from an argument taken from the seat of the empire being fixed at Constantinople, making it become new Rome, so that the bishop of the church there was to enjoy equal privileges with him whose lot was fallen in the old imperial city. Rut our doctor adds, —

Sect. 5, “Illud ex Judæorum exemplari transcripsisse apostoli videntur; cum Mosaica id lege cautum esset, ut judices et ministri in qualibet civitate ordinarentur, Deut. xvi. 18. Illi vero in rebus dubiis ad judicem (Mosis successorem) synedrio Hierosolymitano cinctum recurrere tenerentur,” cap. xvii. 9. And in sect. 6, he proves Jerusalem to have been the metropolis of that whole nation. Egregiam vero laudem! But, —

1. The doctor, I presume, knows before this that those with whom he hath to do will never give him the thing in question upon his begging or request. That which alone falls in under our consideration and inquiry is, whether the apostles instituted any such model of church order and government as is by the doctor contended for: to this he tells you that the apostles seem to have done it from the pattern of Mosaical institutions in the church of the Jews. But, doctor, the question is not with what respect they did it, but whether they did it at all or no. This the doctor thought good to let alone until another time, if we would not grant him upon his petition that so they did.

2. This, then, is the doctor’s second argument for his diocesan and metropolitan prelates; his first was from the example of the heathens in their civil administration and rule, this second from the example of the Jews. Not to divert into the handling of the church and political state of the Jews as appointed of God, nor into that dissonancy that is between the institution of civil magistrates and evangelical administrations, this is the sum of the doctor’s reasoning in his 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th sections:— “God, in the church and among the people of the Jews, chose out one city to place his name there, making it the place where all the types and ceremonies which he had appointed for the discovery and shadowing forth of the Lord Jesus Christ were visibly and gloriously to be managed, acted, and held forth (sundry of them being such as whose typicalness would have been destroyed by their multiplication), and principally on this account making that place or city (which was first Shiloh) the seat of the kingdom, or habitation of the chief ruler for the administration of justice, who appointed judges in all the land, for the good and peace of the people; therefore, the churches of Jesus Christ, dispersed over the face of the whole world, freed from obligations to cities or mountains, walking before God in and with a pure and spiritual worship, having no one reason of that former institution in common with the church of the Jews, must be cast into the same mould and figure.” I hope without offence I may take leave to deny the consequence, and what more I have to say to this argument I shall yet defer.

But the doctor proceeds to prove that indeed the apostles did dispose of the churches in this frame and order, according to the pattern of the civil government of the Roman empire and that instituted of God among the Jews. The 9th section, wherein he attempts the proof of this assertion, is as followeth:—

“Ad hanc imaginem, apostolos ecclesias ubique disponendas curasse, et in omnibus plantationibus suis, minorum ab eminentioribus civitatibus dependentiam, et subordinationem constituisse exemplis quidem plurimis monstrari possit, illud in Syria et Cilicia patet, Acts xvi. 4; cum enim ζήτημα illud, cap. xv. 2, Hierosolymas referretur ab ecclesia ἰδίως Antiochiæ, cap. xiv. 26, xv. 3; et decretum ab apostolis denuo ad eos mitteretur, ver. 22; in epistola, qua decretum illud continebatur simul cum Antiochensibus τοὺς κατὰ Συρίαν καὶ Κιλικίαν ἀδελφοὺς comprehensos videmus, ver. 23. Dein epistola ista Antiochenæ ecclesiæ reddita, ver. 30. Paulus tandem et Silas Syriam et Cilieiam peragrantes, ver. 41, cap. xvi. 4, δόγματα κεκριμένα ὑπὸ τῶν ἀποστόλων, singulis civitatibus observanda tradiderunt, ut quæ ad hanc Antiochiæ metropolin, ut totidem subordinatæ ecclesiæ pertinerent; ut et ipsa Antiochia ad Hierosolymas, primariam tam latæ (ut ex Philone prædiximus) provinciæ metropolin pertinebat, et ad eam ad dirimendam litem istam se conferebat.”

This being all that the doctor hath to produce from the Scripture to his purpose in hand, I have transcribed it at large; for this being removed, all that follows will fall of its own accord:—

First, then, the dependence on and subordination of lesser cities to the greater is asserted as an apostolical institution. Now, because I suppose the doctor will not assert, nor doth intend, a civil dependence and subordination of cities as such among themselves; nor will a dependence as to counsel, advice, assistance, and the like supplies, which in their mutual communion the lesser churches might receive from the greater and more eminent, serve his turn; but an ecclesiastical dependence and subordination, such as whereby many particular churches, with inferior officers residing in them and with them, depended on and were in subjection unto some one person of a superior order, commonly residing in some eminent city, and many of these governors of a superior order in the greater cities were in such subordination unto some one of high degree, termed a metropolitan, and all this by apostolical institution, is that which he aimeth at: which being a most gallant adventure in a waking generation, we shall doubtless find him quitting himself like a man in his undertaking.

Secondly, then, he tells you that the question about Mosaical rites and necessity of their observation was referred to Jerusalem by the single church of Antioch. But how does the doctor make good this first step? which yet if he could, would do him he good at all. It is true that Paul was now come to Antioch, chap. xiv. 26; also, that he was brought on his way by the church, chap. xv. 3; but yet that the brethren who were taught the doctrine contested about, verses 1, 2, were only of the church of Antioch (when it is most certain, from the epistles of Paul to the Galatians, Colossians, Romans, and others, that great disturbance was raised far and wide, in all the churches of the Gentiles, about this controversy), nothing is offered. It seems, indeed, that their disputes grew to the greatest height at Antioch, whither brethren from other parts and churches did also come whilst Barnabas and Paul abode there; but that that single church referred the determining of that controversy to them at Jerusalem, exclusively to others, the doctor proves not. And it is most evident, from the return of the answer sent by the apostles from Jerusalem, verse 23, that the reference was from all the churches of the Gentiles, yea, and all the scattered brethren, perhaps as yet not brought into church order, not only at Antioch, but also throughout Syria and Cilicia. It is then granted, what he next observes, namely, that in the answer returned from Jerusalem, with them at Antioch those in Syria and Cilicia are joined; the reason of it being manifest, namely, their trouble about the same controversy being no less than theirs at Antioch. It is also granted, that, as Paul passed through the cities, he delivered them the decrees to keep that were ordained by the apostles and elders, chap. xvi. 4; and that not only to the churches of Syria and Cilicia, which he left, chap. xv. 41, but also to those throughout Phrygia and the region of Galatia, chap. xvi. 6. What now follows out of all this? What but that Antioch, by apostolical institution, was the metropolitan see of all the churches of Syria and Cilicia! Good doctor, do not be angry, but tell us how this may be proved. Why, doubtless it was so, as Antioch belonged to the metropolitan church at Jerusalem, as he told us out of Philo! (who was excellently acquainted with apostolical institutions.) What Jerusalem was to the whole church and nation of the Jews, whilst the name of God was fixed there, we know; but what was the primitive estate of the churches of Jesus Christ, made up of Jews and Gentiles, tied neither to city nor mountain, I must be pardoned if I cannot find the doctor making any tender of manifesting or declaring. The reason of referring this controversy unto a determination at Jerusalem the Holy Ghost acquaints us with, chap. xv. 2; so that we have no need of this metropolitical figment to inform us in it. And now if we will not only not submit to diocesan bishops, but also not reverence the grave metropolitans, standing upon such clear apostolical institution, it is fit that all the world should count us the arrantest schismatics that ever lived since Pope Boniface’s time. The sum, then, of this doughty argument for the apostolical institution of metropolitans (that none might ever more dare to call diocesans into question hereafter) is this: Paul, who was converted about the third or fourth year of Caligula, five or six years after the ascension of Christ, having with great success for three years preached the gospel, went up to Jerusalem with Barnabas, upon the persecution raised against him at Damascus, chap. ix. 22–27; whence, returning to his work, he went first to Tarsus, verse 30; thence to Antioch, where he abode one whole year, chap. xi. 25, 26; and was then sent to Jerusalem with the collection for the saints, about the fourth year of Claudius, verses 29, 30; thence returning again to Antioch, he was sent out by the command of the Holy Ghost, more eminently and peculiarly than formerly, for the conversion of the Gentiles, chap. xiii. 1–3. In this undertaking, in the space of a year or two, he preached and gathered churches (whereof express mention is made) at Salamis, chap. xiii. 5; at Paphos, verse 6; at Perga in Pamphylia, verse 13; at Antioch in Pisidia, verse 14; at Iconium, chap. xiv. 1; at Lystra and Derbe, verse 6; and at Perga, verse 25: in all these places gathering some believers to Christ; whom, before they returned to Antioch, he visited all over the second time, and settled elders in the several congregations, chap. xiv. 21–23. In this journey and travel for the propagation of the gospel, he seems in all places to have been followed, almost at the heels, by the professing Pharisees, who imposed the necessity of the observation of the Mosaical ceremonies upon his new converts; for instantly upon his return to Antioch, where, during his absence, probably they had much prevailed, he falls into dispute with them, chap. xv. 1, 2 — and that he was not concerned in this controversy only upon the account of the church of Antioch, himself informs us, Gal. ii. 4, affirming that the false brethren which caused those disputes and dissensions crept in to spy out his liberty in his preaching the gospel among the Gentiles, verse 2, — that is, in the places before mentioned, throughout a great part of Asia. For the appeasing of this difference, and the establishing of the souls of the disciples, which were grievously perplexed with the imposition of the Mosaical yoke, it is determined that the case should be resolved by the apostles, Acts xv. 2; partly because of their authority in all the churches, wherein those who contended with Paul would be compelled to acquiesce, and partly because those Judaizing teachers pretended the commission of the apostles for the doctrine they preached, as is evident from the disclaimure made by them of any such commission or command, verse 24. Upon Paul’s return from the assembly at Jerusalem, wherein the great controversy about Jewish ceremonies was stated and determined, after he had in the first place delivered the decrees and apostolical salutation by epistle to the church at Antioch, he goes with them also to the churches in Syria and Cilicia, expressed in the letter by name, as also to those in Pamphylia, Pisidia, Derbe, Lystra, Iconium, etc., chap. xvi. 1–4, and all the churches which he had gathered and planted in his travels through Asia, whereunto he was commanded by the Holy Ghost, chap. xiii. 1, 2. Things being thus stated, it necessarily follows that the apostles had instituted diocesan and metropolitan bishops; for though the churches were so small, and thin, and few in number, that, seven years after this, may we believe our doctor, the apostles had not instituted or appointed any elders or presbyters in them, — namely, when Paul wrote his epistle to the Philippians, which was when he was prisoner in Rome, as appears, chap. i. 7, 13, 14, iv. 22, about the third year of Nero, — yet that he had fully built and settled the hierarchical fabric contended for, who once dares question!

“Audacia —

Creditur a multis fiducia.”

[Juven., xiii. 109, 110.]

But if this will not do, yet Ignatius hits the nail on the head, and is ready at hand to make good whatsoever the doctor will have him say, and his testimony takes up the sense of the two next following sections, whereof the first is as follows:—

“Hinc dicti Ignatiani ratio constat in epistola ad Romanos, ubi ille Antiochiæ episcopus se τῆς ἐν Συρίᾳ ἐκκλησίας ποιμένα, pastorem ecclesiæ quæ est in Syria appellet, eum ad Antiochiam, scil. ut ad metropolin suam tota Syria pertineret. Sic et author epistolæ ad Antiochenos, ἐκκλησίᾳ Θεοῦ παροικούσῃ ἐν Συρίᾳ τῇ ἐν Ἀντιοχείᾳ, eam inscribens totam, Syriam ejus παροικίαν esse concludit.”

But yet I fear the doctor will find he hath need of other weapons and other manner of assistance to make good the cause he hath undertaken. The words of Ignatius in that epistle to the Romans are, [cap. ix.] Μνημονεύετε ἐν τῇ εὐχῃ ὑμῶν τῆς ἐν Συρίᾳ ἐκκλησίας ἧτις ἀντ’ ἐμοῦ ποιμένι χρῆται τῷ Κυρίῳ. Because he recommends to them that particular church in Syria, which, by his imprisonment, was deprived of its pastor, therefore, without doubt, he was a metropolitical archbishop: “Tityre, tu patulæ,” etc. But the doctor is resolved to carry his cause; and therefore, being forsaken of all fair and honest means from whence he might hope for assistance or success, he tries (as Saul the witch of Endor) the counterfeit, spurious title of a counterfeit epistle to the Antiochians, to see if that will speak any comfortable words for his relief or no. And to make sure work, he causes this gentleman so to speak as if he intended to make us believe that Syria was in Antioch, not Antioch in Syria; as in some remote parts of the world, they say, they inquire whether London be in England or England in London. What other sense can be made of the words as by the doctor transcribed? Ἐκκλησίᾳ Θεοῦ παροικούσῃ ἐν Συρίᾳ τῇ ἐν Ἀντιοχείᾳ; — “To the church of God dwelling in Syria, which is in Antioch.” Now if this be so, I shall confess it is possible we may be in more errors than one, and that we much want the learned doctor’s assistance for our information. The words themselves, as they are used by the worshipful writer of that epistle, will scarce furnish us with this learned and rare notion: they are at length, Ἰγνάτιος ὁ καὶ Θεοφόρος (for so he first opens his mouth with a lie), ἐκκλησίᾳ ἡλεημένῃ ὑπὸ Θεοῦ, ἐκλελεγμένῃ ὑπὸ Χριστοῦ παροικούσῃ ἐν Συρίᾳ, καὶ πρώτῃ Χριστοῦ ἐπωνυμίαν λαβούσῃ τῇ ἐν Ἀντιοχείᾳ. What is here more expressed than that the latter passage, “In Antioch,” is restrictive of what went and before was spoken of its residence in Syria, with reference to the name of Christians, first given to the disciples in that place, I know not; and therefore it is most certain that the apostles instituted metropolitan archbishops ὅπερ ἔδει δεῖξαι!

But to make all sure, the learned doctor will not so give over; but, sect. 11, he adds that the epigraph of the epistle to the Romans grants him the whole case; that is, Ἐκκλησίᾳ ἥτις προκάθηται ἐν τόπῳ χωρίου Ῥωμαίων· “Ex qua,” saith he, “ecclesiæ Romanæ, ejusque episcopo super ecclesiis omnibus in urbicaria regione, aut provincia Romana contentis, præfecturam competiise videmus.”

Although I have spent some time in the consideration of men’s conjectures of those suburbicarian churches, that, as is pretended, are here pointed to, and the rise of the bishop of Rome’s jurisdiction over those churches, in a correspondency to the civil government of the prefect of the city, yet so great a critic in the Greek tongue as Casaubon, Exer. xvi. ad An. 150, having professed that expression, Ἐν τόπῳ χωρίου Ῥωμαίων, to be “barbarous” and “unintelligible,” I shall not contend about it. For the presidency mentioned of the church in or at Rome, that it was a presidency of jurisdiction, and not only an eminency of faith and holiness, that is intended, the doctor thinks it not incumbent on him to prove, — those with whom he hath to do are of another mind, — although by this time some alteration might be attempted, yea there was, as elsewhere shall be showed. And so much for Ignatius’ archiepiscopacy.

The example of Alexandria is urged in the next place, in these words: “Idem de Alexandria, de qua Eusebius, Marcum, Ἐκκλησίας πρῶτο ἐπ’ αὐτῆς Ἀλεξανδρείας συστήσασθαι, Ecclesias (in plurali) primum in Alexandria instituisse. Has omnes ab eo sub nomine τῆς ἐν Ἀλεξανδρείᾳ παροικίας, administrandas suscepisse Annianum, Neronis anno octavo idem Eusebius affirmat; quibus patet primariam Alexandria et patriarchalem cathedram fixam esse, ad quam reliquæ provinciæ illius ecclesiæ a Marco plantatæ, ut ad metropoliticam suam pertinebant.” Doubtless; for, — 1. There is not any passage in any ancient author more clearly discovering the uncertainty of many things in antiquity than this pointed to by the doctor in Eusebius; for, first, the sending of Mark the evangelist into Egypt, and his preaching there at Alexandria what he had written in the Gospel, is but a report. Men said so, but what ground they had for their saying so he relates not. And yet we know what a foundation of many assertions by following writers this rumour or report is made to be. 2. In the very next words the author affirms, and insists long upon it in the next chapter, that Philo’s book περὶ τοῦ βίου τῶν Ἀσκητῶν, was written concerning the Christians converted by Mark’s preaching at Alexandria, when it is notoriously known that it treateth of the Essenes, a sect among the Jews, amongst whose observances many things were vain, superstitious, and foolish, unworthy to be once applauded as the practice of any Christian in those days; that same Philo, as far as can be gathered, living and dying in the Jewish religion, having been employed by them with an apology to Rome in the days of Caligula. But, 3. Suppose that Mark were at Alexandria, and preached the gospel there (which is not improbable), and planted sundry churches in that great and populous city of Jews and Gentiles; and that, as an evangelist, the care of those churches was upon him in a peculiar manner; nay, and add farther, that after his death, as Jerome assures us, the elders and presbyters of those churches chose out one among themselves to preside in their convocations and meetings; — if, I say, all this be supposed, what will ensue? Why, then, it is manifest that there was fixed at Alexandria a patriarchal chair and a metropolitical church, according to the appointment of Jesus Christ by his apostles! “Si hoc non sit probationum satis, nescio quid sit satis.” If some few congregations live together in love, and communion, and the fellowship of the gospel in a city, he is stark blind that sees not that to be an archbishop’s see. The reason is as clear as his in the Comedian for the freedom of his wife:— “Sy. Utinam Phrygiam uxorem meam una mecum videam liberam. Dem. Optimam mulierem quidem. Sy. Et quidem nepoti tuo, hujus filio, hodie primam mammam dedit hæc. Dem. Hercle, vero, serio, siquidem primam dedit haud dubium quin emitti æquom siet. Mic. Ob eam rem? Dem. Ob eam.”7 And there is an end of the contest. The doctor, indeed, hath sundry other sections added to those foregoing; which as they concern times more remote from those who first received the apostolical institutions, so I must ingenuously profess that I cannot see any thing whereon to fasten a suspicion of a proof, so far as to call it into examination, and therefore I shall absolve the reader from the penalty of this digression.

The truth is, when I first named Ignatius for a witness in the cause I am pleading for, I little thought of that excursion which I have occasionally been drawn out unto. When first I cast an eye, some few months since, upon the dissertations of the learned doctor in defence of episcopacy, and saw it so chequered with Greek and Latin, so full of quotations divine and human, I began to think that he dealt with his adversaries “hastisque, clypeisque, et saxis grandibus,” that there would be no standing before his shower of arguments. But after a little serious perusal, I must take leave to say that I was quickly of another mind; with the reason of which change of thoughts, could I once obtain the leisure of a few days or hours, I should quickly, God willing, acquaint them who are concerned in affairs of this nature. In the meantime, if the reader will pardon me this digression, having given him an account of my thoughts concerning the epistles of Ignatius, I shall, in a procedure upon my first intention, bring forth some testimonies from him, “et valeant quantum valere possunt.”

He seems, in the first place, to speak sufficiently clearly to the death of Christ for his church, for believers, in a peculiar manner; which is one considerable bottom and foundation of the truth we plead for: Epist. ad Trall. [cap. viii.], Γίνεσθε μιμηταὶ παθημάτων (Χριστοῦ), καὶ ἀγάπης αὐτοῦ ἣν ἠμάπησεν ἡμᾶς, δοὺς ἑαυτὸν περὶ ἡμῶν λύτρον, ἵνα τῷ αἵματι αὐτοῦ καθαρίσῃ ἡμᾶς παλαιᾶς δυσσεζείας, καὶ ζωὴν ἡμῖν παράσχηται, μέλλοντας, ὅσον οὐδέπω, ἀπόλλυσθαι ὑπὸ τῆς ἐν ἡμῖν κακίας.

And again, Epist. ad. Philad. [cap. ix.]: By Christ, saith he, εἰσῆλθον Ἀβραὰμ, καὶ Ἰσαὰκ, καὶ Ἰακὼβ, Μωσῆς, καὶ ὁ σὐμπας τῶν προφητῶν χορὸς, καὶ οἱ στύλοι τοῦ κόσμου οἱ ἀπόστολοι, καὶ ἡ νύμφη τοῦ Χριστοῦ ὑπὲρ ἧς (φερνῆς λόγῳ) ἐξέχες τὸ οἰκεῖον αἷμα, ἵνα αὐτὴν ἐξαγοράσῃ· with many the like expressions. His confidence also of the saints’ perseverance, for whom Christ thus died, he doth often profess. Speaking of the faith of the gospel, he adds: Ταῦτα ὁ γνοὺς ἐν πληροφορίᾳ καὶ πιστεύσας μακάριος, ὥσπερ οὖν καὶ ὑμεῖς φιλόθεοι καὶ φιλόχριστοί ἐστε, ἐν πληροφορίᾳ τῆς ἐλπίδος ὑμῶν, ἧς ἐκτραπῆναι μηδενὶ ὑμῶν γένηται.

And again more clearly and fully to the same purpose Epist. ad Smyrn. [cap. i.]: Ἐνόηασ γὰρ ὑμᾶς κατηρτισμένους ἐν ἀκινήτῳ πίστει, ὥσπερ καθηλωμένους ἐν τῷ σταυρῷ τοῦ Κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, σαρκί τε καὶ πνεύματι καὶ ἡδρασμένους ἐν ἀγάπῃ ἐν τῷ αἴματι τοῦ Χριστοῦ, πεπληροφορημένους ὡς ἀληθῶς, etc. And this confirmation and establishment in believing he ascribes not their manly considerations, but to the grace of Christ, exclusively to any of their own strength, Epist. ad Smyrn. [cap. iv.]: Πάντα, saith he of himself, ὑπομένω διὰ Χριστὸν, εἰς τὸ συμπαθεῖν αὐτῷ, αὐτού ἐνδυναμοῦντος, οὐ γάρ μοι τοσοῦτον σθένος.

To the same purpose, and with the same confident persuasion, he speaks, Epist. ad Ephesians, [cap. ix.]:—

Ῥύσεται ὑμᾶς Ἰησοῦς Χριστὸς, ὁ θεμελιώσας ὑμᾶς ἐπὶ τὴν πέτραν, ὠς λίθους ἐκλεκτοὺς εὐαρμολογουμένους εἰς οἰκοδομὴν θείαν Πατρὸς, ἀναφερομένους εἰς τὰ ὕψη διὰ Χριστοῦ, τοῦ ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν σταυρωθέντος, σχοίνῳ χρωμένους τῷ Ἁγίω Πνέυματι, etc.

And again in the same epistle [cap. xiv.]: Ἀρχὴ ζωῆς πίστις τέλος δὲ ἀγάπη·, τᾶ δὲ δύο ἐν ἐνότητι γενόμενα Θεοῦ ἄνθρωπον ἀποτελεῖ· τὰ δὲ ἄλλα πάντα εἰς καλοκᾳγαθίαν ἀκόλουαθά ἐστι.

And in his last epistle [ad Rom. cap. vii.], he gives us that noble expression of his own assurance: Ὁ ἐμὸς ἔρως ἐσταύρωται, καὶ οὐκ ἔστιν ἐν ἐμοὶ πῦρ φιλοῦν τι· ὕδωρ δὲ ζῶν ἀλλόμενον ἐν ἐμοὶ, ἔσωθέν μοι λέγει, Δεῦρο πρὸς τὸν Πατέρα· where we leave the holy soul until the same God gather us to him and the rest of the spirits of just men made perfect.

And this was the language, these were the exressions, of this holy man; which what they discover of his judgment on the case under consideration is left to the learned reader to consider. This I am certain, our adversaries have very little cause to boast of the consent of the primitive Christians with them in the doctrine of apostasy, there being in these ancient writers after the apostles, about the things of our religion, not the left shadow cast upon it for its refreshment.

Add, in the next place, the most ancient of the Latins, Tertullian, that great storehouse of all manner of leaning and knowledge. Saith “Quemadmodum nobis arrhabonem spiritus reliquit, ita et a nobis arrhabonem carnis accepit, et vexit in cœlum, pignus totius summæ illuc redigendæ,” Tertull., De Resur. The certain salvation of the whole body of Christ, with whom he hath that communion as to give them his Spirit, as he took their flesh (for he took upon him flesh and blood, because the children were partakers of the same), is evidently asserted; which he could not do who thought that any of those on whom he bestowed his Spirit might perish everlastingly.

And again, De Præscripti. advers. Hæret.: “In pugna pugilum et gladiatorum, plerumque non quia fortis est, vincit quis, aut quia non potest vinci; sed quoniam ille qui victus est, nullis viribus fuit: adeo idem ille victor bene valenti postea comparatus, etiam superatus recedit. Non aliter hæreses de quorundam infirmitatibus habent quod valent, nihil valentes si in bene valentem fidem incurrant. Solent quidem isti infirmines etiam de quibusdam personis ab hæresi captis ædificari in ruinam; quare ille vel illa, fidelissimi, prudentissimi, et usitatissimi in ecclesia, in illam partem transiterunt? Quis hoc dicens non ipse sibi respondet, neque prudentes, neque fideles, neque usitatos æstimandos quos hæresis potuit demutare?” He plainly denies them to have been believers (that is, truly, thoroughly, properly so) who fall into pernicious heresies to their destruction.

Cyprian is express to our purpose. Saith he, “Nemo existimet bonos de ecclesia posse discedere. Triticum non rapit ventus, nec arborem solida radice fundatam procella subvertit; Inanes paleæ tempestate jactantur, invalidæ arbores turbinis incursione evertuntur. Hos execratur et percutit Johannes apostolus, dicens, ‘Ex nobis exierunt, sed non fuerunt ex nobis, si enim fuissent ex nobis, mansissent utique nobiscum,’ ” Cypr. De Unit. Eccles. [cap. ii.] The whole doctrine we contend for is plainly and clearly asserted, and bottomed on a text of Scripture; which in a special manner (as we have cause) we do insist upon. All that is lost by temptations in the church was but chaff; the wheat abides, and the rooted tree is not cast down. Those fall away who indeed were never true believers in heart and by union, whatever their profession was. And yet we are within the compass of that span of time which our adversaries, without proof, without shame, claim to be theirs. One principal foundation of our doctrine is the bestowing of the Holy Ghost upon believers, by Jesus Christ. Where he is so bestowed, there, say we, he abides; for he is given them for that end, — namely, to “abide with them for ever.” Now, concerning him Basil tells us, that “though, in a sort, he may be said to be present with all that are baptized, yet he is never mixed with any that are not worthy; that is, he dwells not with any that obtain not salvation,” Basil, Lib. de Spir. Sanc. cap. xvi.; — Νῦν μὲν γὰρ εἰ καὶ μὴ ἀνακέκραται τοῖς ἀναξίοις· ἀλλὰ οὖν παρεῖναι δοκεῖ πῶς τοῖς ἅπαξ ἐσφραγισμένοις. By that seeming presence of the Holy Ghost with hypocrites that are baptized professors, he evidently intends the common gifts and graces that he bestows upon them; and this is all he grants to them who are not at last (for such he discourses of) found worthy.

Macarius Ægyptius, Homil. v., about the same time with the other, or somewhat before, is of the same mind. He tells us that those who are Christians ἐν ἀληθείᾳ καὶ δυνάμει, ἀσφαλεῖς εἰσιν ὑπὸ τοῦ ἀῤῥαβῶνος, οὗ ἐδέξαντο νῦν, ὡς ἤδη ἐστεφανωμένοι καὶ βασιλεύοντες. And how men can be assured of heaven whilst they live here, by the earnest of it which they have received, as well as if they were crowned and reigning in heaven, if those who have received that earnest may lose it again, I know not.

The words of Ambrose to this same purpose, lib. i. cap. vi. De Jacob. et Vita Beat. are many; but because they do not only fully assert the truth we contend for, but also insist briefly on most of the arguments with which in this case we plead, I shall transcribe them at large, and they are as follow:—

“Non gloriabor quia justus sum, sed gloriabor quia redemptus sum; gloriabor non quia vacuus peccatis sum, sed quia mihi remissa sunt peccata; non gloriabor quia profui, nec quia profuit mihi quisquam, sed quia pro me advocatus apud Patrem Christus est, sed quia pro me Christi sanguis effusus est … Hæredem te fecit, cohæredem Christi; Spiritum tibi adoptionis infudit … Sed vereris dubios vitæ anfractus et adversarii insidias, cum habeas auxilium Dei, habeas tantam ejus dignationem, ut filio proprio pro te non pepercerit? — Nihil enim excepit, qui omnium concessit authorem. Nihil est igitur quod negari posse nobis vereamur; nihil est in quo de munificentiæ divinæ diffidere perseverantiâ debeamus, cujus fuit tam diuturna et jugis ubertas, ut primo prædestinaret, deinde vocaret, et quos vocavit hos et justificaret, et quos justificaret hos et glorificaret. Poterit deserere quos tantis beneficiis usque ad præmia prosecutus est? Inter tot beneficia Dei, num metuendæ sunt aliquæ accusatoris insidiæ? sed quis audeat accusare quos electos divino cernit judicio? num Deus Pater ipse qui contulit, potest dona sua rescindere, et quos adoptione suscepit, eos a paterni affectus gratia relegare? Sed metus est ne judex severior fiat. Considera quem judicem habeas; nempe Christo dedit Pater omne judicium; poterit te ergo ille damnare, quem redemit a morte, pro quo se obtulit, cujus vitam suæ mortis mercedem esse cognoscit? nonne dicet, quaæ utilitas in sanguine meo, si damno quem ipse salvavi? Denique consideras judicem, non consideras advocatum?”

The foundation of all our glorying in the love of God and assurance of salvation he lays in the free grace of God, in redemption and justification; for the certainty of our continuance in that estate, he urges the decree of God’s predestination, the unchangeableness of his love, the complete redemption made by Christ, with his effectual intercession: all which are at large insisted upon in the ensuing treatise.

Add to him his contemporary, Chrysostom. Ser. 3, in 2 Cor. i. 21, 22: Ὁ δὲ βεβαιῶν ἡμᾶς σὺν ὑμῖν Χριστὸν, καὶ χρίσας ἠμᾶς Θεός· καὶ σφραγισάμενος ἡμᾶς καὶ δοὺς τὸν ἀῤῥαβῶνα τοῦ Πνεύματος ἐν ταῖς καρδίαις ἡμῶν. Of these words of the apostle he gives the ensuing exposition: Πάλιν ἀπὸ τῶν παρελθόντων τὰ μέλλοντα βεβαιοῦται· εἰ γὰρ αὐτός ἐστιν ὁ βεβαιῶν ἡμᾶς εἰς Χριστὸν (τουτέστιν ὁ μή ἐῶν ἡμᾶς παρασαλεύεσθαι ἐκ τῆς πίστεως τῆς εἰς τὸν Χριστὸν) καὶ αὐτὸς ὁ χρίσας ἡμᾶς, καὶ δοὺς τὸ πνεῦμα ἐν ταῖς καρδίαις ἡμῶν, πῶς τὰ μέλλοντα οὐ δώσει; εἰ γὰρ τὰς ἀρχὰς καὶ τὰς ὑποθέσεις ἔδωκε, καὶ τὴν ῥίζαν καὶ τὴν πηγὴν (οἷον τῆν ἀληθῆ περὶ αὐτοῦ γνῶσιν, τὴν τοῦ πνεύματος μετάληψιν) πῶς τὰ ἐκ τούτων οὐ δώσει; εἰ γὰρ ἐκεῖνα διὰ ταῦτα δίδονται, πολλῷ μᾶλλον ὁ ταῦτα δοὺς καὶ ἐκεῖνα παρέξεί· καὶ εἰ ταῦτα ἐχθροῖς οὖσιν ἔδωκε, πολλᾤ μᾶλλον ἐκεῖνα φίλοις γενομένοις χαριεῖται· διὰ τοῦτο οὐδὲ Πνεύμα εἶπεν ἀπλῶς, ἀλλ’ ἀῤῥαβῶνα ὡνόμασεν, ἵνα ἀπὸ τούτου, καὶ περὶ τοῦ παντὸς θαῤῥῇς· οὐ γὰρ εἰ μὴ ἔμελλε το πᾶν διδόναι, εἵλετο ἀν τὸν ἀῤῥαβῶνα παρασχεῖν καὶ ἀπολέσαι εἰκῆ καὶ μάτην.

The design and aim of our establishment by the Spirit is, he tells us, that we be not shaken or moved from the faith of Christ; [he] so establisheth us that he suffers us not to depart and fall away from the faith. And that the argument which he insists on, — from what we have presently received to an assurance of abode in our condition, to the enjoyment of the full inheritance, — is not contemptible in the cause in hand, is farther manifested in the treatise itself.

And these instances may suffice for the first period of time mentioned, before the rising of the Pelagian heresy; of which, and those others of the same kind that might be produced, though they may not seem so full and expressive to the point under consideration as those which follow after, yet concerning those authors and their testimonies these two things may be asserted:—

1. That though some expressions may be gathered, from some of the writers within the space of time mentioned, that seem to allow a possibility of defection and apostasy in believers, — occasioned, all of them, by the general use of that word, and the taking the several accounts whereon men, both in the gospel and in common use, are so called, — yet there is no one of them that ever ascribed the perseverance of them who actually and eventually persevere to such grounds and principles as Mr Goodwin doth, and which the reader shall find at large by him insisted on in the ensuing treatise. The truth is, his maintaining of the saints’ perseverance is as bad, if not worse, than his maintaining their apostasy.

2. That I scarce know any head in religion concerning which the mind of the ancients, who wrote before it received any opposition, may be made out more clearly than we have done in this, by the instances produced and insisted on.

The Pelagian heresy began about the year 417. The first opposers thereof are reckoned up by Prosper, cap. ii. De Ingrat. The bishop of Rome, the Palestine synod in the case of Pelagius, Jerome, Atticus, bishop of Constantinople, the synod of Ephesus, [of] Sicily, and two in Afric, he mentions in order, concluding them with the second African, gathered to that end and purpose:—

“Anne alium in finem posset procedere sanctum

Concilium, cui dux Aurelius ingeniumque

Augustinus erat? quem Christi gratia cornu

Uberiore rigans, nostro lumen dedit ævo,

Accensum vero de lumine, nam cibus illi

Et vita et requies Deus est; omnisque voluptas

Unus amor Christi est; unus Christi est honor illi:

Et dum nulla sibi quærit bona, fit Deus illi

Omnia, et in sancto regnat sapientia templo.”

And because I shall not burden the reader, being now entered upon the place and time wherein very many witnesses call aloud to be heard about the difference in hand, of the first opposers of the Pelagian heresy, I shall insist only on him who is indeed “instar omnium,” and hath ever been so accounted in the controversies about the grace of God; and I shall the rather lay this weight on him, because it is evident that he spake the sense of the whole church in those days wherein he lived. This is Austin, of whom saith the same Prosper: “Noverint illi non solum Romanam ecclesiam Africanamque, sed per omnes mundi partes universos promissionis filios, cum doctrinâ, hujus viri, sicut in tota fide, ita in gratiæ confessione congruere,” Epist. ad Rusti.

And when his writings began to be carped at by the semi-Pelagians of France, Cælestine, bishop of Rome, in his Epist. ad Gallos, gives him this testimony: “Augustinum, sanctæ recordationis virum pro vita sua et moribus, in nostra communione semper habuimus, nec unquam hunc sinistræ suspicionis rumor saltem aspersit, quem tantæ scientiæ olim fuisse meminimus, ut inter magistros optimos etiam a meis prædecesseribus haberetur.” His writings also were made use of not only by Prosper, Hilary, and Fulgentius, but generally by all that engaged against the Pelagians. “Zosimus,” saith Prosper, ad Collar. cap. xli., “cum esset doctissimus, adversus libros tamen Pelagianorum beati Augustini responsa poscebat.” And Leo, Epist. ad Concil. Arausic., transcribes out of him verbatim the things that he would have confirmed and established. And in his own days, notwithstanding the differences between them, the aged and learned Jerome tells him, Epist. xciv., “Mihi decretum est te amare, te suspicere, colere, mirari, tuaque dicta, quasi mea, defendere.” Hence was that outcry in the Palestine synod upon the slighting of his authority by Pelagius “Dixit Pelagius, Quis est mihi Augustinus? Acclamabant omnes blasphemantem in episcopum, ex cujus ore Dominus universæ Africæ unitatis indulserit sanitatem, non solum a conventu illo, sed ab omni ecclesia pellendum,” Oros. Apologet. pp. 621, 622. So also Gelas. Biblioth. Pat. Tom. 4, Colum. 553, p. 589.

Fulgentius also, with them assembled with him at Byzacene, when they were banished Afric by Thrasimundus, in that synodical epistle, gives them this counsel: “Præ omnibus studium gerite libros S. Augustini quos ad Prosperum et Hilarium scripsit, memoratis fratribus legendos ingerere,” Epist. Synod. Byzac. Much more might be added to manifest the judgment of Austin to have been the catholic judgment of the church in those days; so that in his single testimony as great a number are included as in the testimony of any one man in the world whatever.

Now, the controversy that was between Austin and the Pelagians and semi-Pelagians about perseverance, Hilary thus expresseth in his epistle to him: “Deinde moleste ferunt,” speaking of the semi-Pelagians, “ita dividi gratiam, quæ vel tunc primo homini data est, vel nunc omnibus datur, ut ille acceperit perseverantiam, non qua fieret ut perseveraret, sed sine qua per liberum arbitrium perseverare non posset; nunc vero Sanctis in regnum per gratiam prædestinatis, non tale adjutorium perseverantiæ detur, sed tale, ut eis perseverantia ipsa donetur, non solum ut sine illo dono perseverantes esse non possint, verum etiam ut per hoc donum non nisi perseverantes sint. Cæterum quicquid libet donatum sit predestinatis, id posse et amittere et retinere propria voluntate contendunt.” The very state of the controversy as now under contest is most clearly expressed in this report of the difference between the semi-Pelagians and the church of God in those days. And because the whole sum of Mr Goodwin’s book is briefly comprised in the 9th and 10th chapters of Prosper, De Ingrat., I shall transcribe the 10th chapter, to present to the reader the substance and pith of that treatise, as also the state of the controversy in those days:—

― “Quam sana fides sit vestra patescat,

Gratia qua Christi populus sumus, hoc cohibetur

Limite vobiscum, et formam hanc adscribitis illi:

Ut cunctos vocet ilia quidem, invitetque; nec ullum

Præteriens, studeat communem afferre salutem

Omnibus, et totum peccato absolvere mundum;

Sed proprio quemque arbitrio parere vocanti,

Judicioque suo; mota se extendere mente

Ad lucem oblatam, quæ se non subtrahat ulli,

Sed cupidos recti juvet, illustretque volentes.

Hinc adjutoris Domini bonitate magistra

Crescere virtutum studia, ut quod quisque petendum

Mandatis didicit, jugi sectetur amore.

Esse autem edoctis istam communiter æquam

Libertatem animis, ut cursum explere beatum

Persistendo queant, finem effectumque petitum

Dante Deo, ingeniis qui nunquam desit honestis.

Sed quia non idem est cunctis vigor, et variarum

Illecebris rerum trahitur dispersa voluntas,

Sponte aliquos vitiis succumbere, qui potuissent

A lapsu revocare pedem, stabilesque manere.”

As I said, we have the sum of Mr Goodwin’s book in this declaration of the judgment of the semi-Pelagians, so also, in particular, the state of the controversy about the perseverance of the saints, as then it was debated; and I doubt not but the learned reader will easily perceive it to be no other than that which is now agitated between me and Mr Goodwin. The controversy, indeed, in the matter between Austin and the Pelagians was reduced to three heads:— As to the foundation of it, which Austin concluded to be the decree of predestination: which they denied. The impulsive cause of it he proved to be the free grace of God; and the measure or quality of that grace to be such as that whoever received it did persevere, it being perseverance which was given: both which they denied. About the kind of faith which temporary professors might have, and fall from it, which were never elected, there was between them no contest at all. Of his judgment, then, there were these two main heads, which he laboured to confirm:—

1. That perseverance is a gift of God, and that no man either did or could persevere in faith and obedience upon the strength of any grace received (much less of his own ability, stirred up and promoted by such considerations as Mr Goodwin makes the ground and bottom of the perseverance of all that so do), but that the whole was from his grace. Subservient to this, he maintained that no one temptation whatsoever could be overcome but by some act of grace; and that therefore perseverance must needs be a work thereof, it being an abiding in faith and obedience notwithstanding and against temptation. To this is that of his on John, Homil. 53: “Quosdam nimia voluntatis suæ fiducia extulit in superbiam, et quosdam nimia voluntatis suæ diffidentia dejecit in negligentiam: illi dicunt quid rogamus Deum ne vincamur tentatione quod in nostra est potestate? Isti dicunt, at quid conamur bene vivere, quod in Dei est potestate? O Domine, O Pater, qui es in cœlis, ne nos inferas in quamlibet istarum tentationum, sed libera nos a malo. Audiamus Dominum dicentem, ‘Rogavi pro te, Petre, ne fides deficiat tua:’ ne sic existimemus fidem nostram esse in libero arbitrio ut divino non egeat adjutorio,” etc. That, with both of these sorts of men, the way and work of the grace of God is at this day perverted and obscured, is so known to all that it needs no exemplification: some requiring no more to the conquest of temptations but men’s own rational consideration of their eternal state and condition, with the tendency of that whereto they are tempted; others turning the grace of God into wantonness, and supinely casting away all heedful regard of walking with God, being enslaved to their lusts and corruptions, under a pretence of God’s working all in all; — the latter denying themselves to be men, the former to be men corrupted. And in plain terms the Milevitan council tells us: “Si quis finxerit ideo gratiam esse necessariam ad vitanda peccata, quia facit hominem cognoscere peccata, et discernere inter peccata et non peccata, qua discretione per gratiam habita, per liberum arbitrium potest vitare; is procul,” etc. The light of grace to discern the state of things, the nature of sin, and to consider these aright, the Pelagians allowed, — which is all the bottom of that perseverance of saints which we have offered by Mr Goodwin; but upon that supply of these means, to abide and persevere in faith, to flee and avoid sin, is a thing of our own performance.

This the doctors of that council, anno 420, condemned as a Pelagian fiction, as Prosper also presents it at large, cap. xxv. against Cassianus the semi-Pelagian, and farther clears and confirms it. So Austin again, De Bono Persev., cap. ii., “Cur perseverantia ista petitur a Deo, si non datur a Deo? an et ista irrisoria petitio est, cure illud ab eo petitur, quod scitur non ipsum dare, sed ipso non dante, esse in hominis potestate? sicut irrisoria est etiam illa gratiarum actio, si ex hoc gratiæ aguntur Deo quod non donavit ipse nec fecit.” And the same argument he useth again, cap. vi. 9, much resting on Cyprian’s interpretation of the Lord’s Prayer; and cap. xxvi., he farther presseth it, as to the root and foundation of this gift of God: “Si ad liberum arbitrium hominis, quod non secundum gratiam, sed contra eam defendis, pertinere dicis, ut perseveret in bono quisquis, vel non perseveret, non Deo dante sic perseverat, sed humana voluntate faciente.” One or two instances more in this kind, amongst hundreds that offer themselves, may suffice.

De Correptione et Gratia, cap. xiv., “Apostolus Judas, cum dicit, ‘Ei autem qui potens est,’ etc., nonne apertissime ostendit donum Dei esse perseverare in bone usque ad finem? quid enim aliud sonat ‘Qui potest conservare nos sine offensione, et constituere ante conspectum gloriæ suæ, immaculatos in lætitia,’ nisi perseverantiam bonam? quis tam insulse desipiat, ut neget perseverantiam esse donum Dei, cum dicit sanctissimus Jeremias, ‘Timorem meum dabo in corde eorum ut non recedant a me,’ ” etc. I shall add only that one place more out of the same book (cap. xii.), where both the matter and manner of the thing in hand are fully delivered: “In hoc loco miseriarum, ubi tentatio est vita hominum super terram, virtus in infirmitate perficitur; quæ virtus, nisi ‘Qui gloriatur, ut in Domino glorietur?’ Ac per hoc de ipsa perseverantia boni noluit Deus sanctos suos in viribus suis, sed in ipso gloriari, qui eis non solum dat adjutorium quod primo homini dedit, sine quo non possit perseverare si velint, sed in iis etiam operatur et velle; et quoniam non perseverabunt nisi et possint, et velint, perseverandi eis et pessibilitas et voluntas, divinæ gratiæ largitate, donatur; tantum quippe Spiritu Sancto accenditur voluntas eorum, ut ideo possint quia sic volunt, ideo sic velint, quia Deus operatur ut velint. Nam si tanta infirmitate hujus vitæ ipsis relinquitur voluntas sua, ut in adjutorio Dei, sine quo perseverare non possent, manerent si vellent, ni Deus in eis operatur ut velint, inter tot, et tantas tentationes, infirmitate sua succumberet voluntas, et ideo perseverare non possent, quia deficientes infirmitare voluntatis non vellent, aut non ita vellent, ut possent. Subventum est igitur infirmitati voluntatis humanæ, ut divina gratia indeclinabiliter, et insuperabiliter ageretur, et ideo quamvis infirma non tamen deficeret.” It is not possible that any one should deliver his sense more clearly to the whole of our present contest than this holy and learned man hath done in the words now repeated from him. A gift of God he asserts it to be (and not an act or course of our own, whereto we are prompted by certain considerations, and assisted with such outward means as are also added to us), to the real production of that effect by the efficiency of the grace of God. And for the manner of this work, it is, saith he, by the effectual working the actual will of perseverance in the continuance of our obedience, in a dispensation of grace, different from and beyond what was given to him who had a power of persevering if he would, but received not the will thereof. Now, to Adam’s perseverance there was nothing wanting but his will’s confirmation in obedience, and his actual doing so. Power he had within and means without, abundantly sufficient for that end in their kind. This, then, he asserts to be given to the saints, and to be the work of God in them, even their actual perseverance. Without this he also manifesteth, that, such is the infirmity of our wills, and such the power of our temptations, that what means soever may be supplied and left to their power, or what manlike, rational considerations soever man may engage his thoughts into, it is impossible any should persevere to the end: which Bradwardin more confirms, De Caus. Dei, lib. ii. cap. viii. Coroll., “Omne quod est naturale, et non est per se tale, si manere debeat immutatum, oportet quod innitatur continue alicui fixo per se: quare quilibet justus Deo.”

And the holy man (Austin, I mean) concludes, that this work of God being wrought in a man, his will is indeclinably and inseparably fixed so to obedience as not to fall off from God. This is the foundation that he lays of the doctrine of the perseverance of saints, that it is a gift of God, and that such a gift as he effectually and actually works in him on whom he doth bestow it; — a foundation that will by no means regularly bear the hay and stubble wherewith men think to build up a doctrine of perseverance, making it a fruit that may or may not be brought forth, from our own use of the means allowed for that end and purpose. And, indeed, the asserting of the perseverance of the saints in that way is as bad (if not a worse and more fearful) opposition to, and slighting of, the grace of God, as the denial of it in the way they oppose. By the latter they oppose the grace of God, by the former set up the power and strength of their own will. Thus far Austin is clearly engaged with us, that perseverance is a gift of God, that it is given by him to every one that doth persevere, and that every one to whom it is given is inseparably confirmed in grace, and shall infallibly persevere to the end.

In that earnest and long contest which that learned doctor insists upon, to prove perseverance to be the gift of God (for which he hath sufficient ground from that of the apostle, 1 Cor. i. 7, 8, “That ye come behind in no gift, waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ,” etc.), two things he especially aimed at:— First, An opposing of such a perseverance as should not be the fruit and work of the grace of God in us, but the work and effect of our own endeavours, upon a supply of such means, motives, persuasions, and considerations, as we are or may be furnished withal. Secondly, That it is so given and bestowed, as that on whomsoever it is bestowed, he certainly hath it; that is, he doth certainly persevere. As it was heresy to that holy man to deny perseverance to be the gift of God, so it was ridiculous to him to say that that gift was given to any, and yet that they received it not; that is, that they might not persevere. “Nobis,” saith he, De Correp. et Grat., cap. xi., “qui Christo insiti sumus, talis data est gratia, ut non solum poasimus si velimus, sed etiam ut velimus in Christo perseverare.” And cap. xii., “Non solum ut sine illo dono perseverantes esse non possint, verum etiam ut per hoc donum non nisi perseverantes sint.”

And that which he adds afterward is most considerable, concluding from that of our Saviour, “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit.” “Eis,” saith he, “non solum justitiam, verum etiam in illa perseverantiam dedisse monstravit. Christo enim sic eos ponente ut eant et fructum afferant, et fructus eorum maneat, quis audeat dicere ‘Forsitan non manebunt?’ ” Though they dare say so who also dare to pretend his authority for what they say! — how falsely, how unjustly, is evident to all serious observers of his mind and spirit in and about the things of the grace of God.

2. As he mentioned perseverance to be such a gift of God as indeclinably wrought in them on whom it was bestowed a will to persevere, and on that account perseverance itself (an assertion as obnoxious to the calumny and clamour of the adversaries of the doctrine under consideration as any we teach or affirm concerning it), so he farther constantly taught this gift and grace to be a fruit of predestination or election, and to be bestowed on all and only elected believers. So De Predestinatione Sanc., cap. xvii., “Hæc dona Dei dantur electis, secundum Dei propositum vocatis, in quibus est et incipere et credere, et in fide ad hujus vitæ exitum perseverare.” And afterward, cap. ix. De Bono Persev. “Ex duobus piis” (of his meaning in that word afterward), “cur huic donetur perseverantia, usque in finem, illi non donetur, inscrutabilia sunt judicia Dei: illud tamen fidelibus debet esse certissimum, hunc esse ex prædestinatis, illum non esse: ‘Nam si fuissent ex nobis’ (ait unus prædestinatorum qui e pectore Domini biberat hoc secretum) ‘mansissent utique nobiscum.’ … Quæ est ista discretio? Patent libri Dei, non avertamus aspectum, clamat Scriptura Divina, adhibeamus auditum, non erant ex eis, quia non erant secundum propesitum vocati: non erant in Christo electi ante mundi constitutionem, non erant in eo sortem consecuti, non erant prædestinati secundum propositum ejus qui omnia operatur.” And unto these elect, predestinate believers, he concluded still that perseverance was so given in and for Christ, so proceeding from the immutable will of God, wrought by such an efficacy of grace, that it was impossible that they should not persevere. He compares it farther with the grace that Adam received: Lib. de Correp. et Grat., cap. xii., “Primo itaque homini, qui in eo bono quo factus fuerat rectus, acceperat posse non peccare, posse non mori, posse ipsum bonum non deserere, datum est adjutorium perseverantiæ, non quo fieret ut perseveraret, sed sine quo per liberum arbitrium perseverare non posset. Nunc vero sanctis in regnum Dei per gratiam Dei prædestinatis, non tantum tale adjutorium perseverantiæ datur; sed tale, ut iis perseverantia ipsa donetur, non solum ut sine isto dono perseverantes esse non possint, verum etiam ut per hoc donum non nisi perseverantes sint.” And a little after: “Ipse itaque dat perseverantiam, qui stabilire potens est eos qui stant, ut perseverantissime stent.” And in the 8th chapter of the same book, expounding that of our Saviour, Luke xxii. 32, “I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not,” he manifesteth how, upon that account, it was impossible that the will of Peter should not actually be established to the end in believing. His words are, “An audebis dicere, etiam rogante Christo ne deficeret fides Petri, defecturam fuisse, si Petrus eam deficere voluisset, idque si eam usque in finem perseverare noluisset? Quasi aliud Petrus ullo modo vellet, quam pro illo Christus rogasset ut vellet: nam quis ignorat tunc fuisse perituram fidem Petri, si ea quæ fidelis erat voluntas ipsa deficeret; et permansuram, si voluntas eadem permaneret? Quando ergo oravit ne fides ejus deficeret, quid aliud rogavit, nisi ut haberet in fide liberrimam, fortissimam, invictissimam, perseverantissimam voluntatem?” And in this persuasion he had not only the consent of all the sound and orthodox doctors in his time, as was before manifested, but he is followed also by the schoolmen of all ages, and not forsaken by some of the Jesuits themselves, as we shall afterward see, when we have added that consideration of the doctrine of this learned man which hath given occasion to some to pretend his consent in opposition to that which most evidently he not only delivered but confirmed. There are in Austin, and those that either joined with him or followed immediately after him (notwithstanding the doctrine formerly insisted on, that actual perseverance is a gift of God, and that it flows from predestination, as an effect thereof, and is bestowed on all elect believers, infallibly preserving them unto the end, — wherein they assert and strongly prove the whole of what we maintain), sundry expressions, commonly urged by the adversaries of the truth in hand, granting many who were saints, believing and regenerate, to fall away and perish for ever. I need not instance in any of their sayings to this purpose; the reader knows where to find them gathered to his hand, in Vossius, Grotius, and Mr Goodwin, from them. The seeming contradiction that is amongst themselves in the delivery of this doctrine will easily admit of a reconciliation, may they be allowed the common courtesy of being interpreters of their own meaning. What weight in those days was laid upon the participation of the sacramental figures of grace, and what expressions are commonly used concerning them who had obtained that privilege, are known to all. Hence all baptized persons, continuing in the profession of the faith and communion of the church, they called, counted, esteemed truly regenerate and justified, and spake so of them. Such as these they constantly affirmed might fall away into everlasting destruction; but yet what their judgment was concerning their present state indeed, even then when they so termed them regenerate and believers, in respect to the sacraments of those graces, Austin in sundry places clearly delivers his thoughts, to the undeceiving of all that are willing to be free. This he especially handles in his book De Correp. et Grat., cap. ix. “Non erant,” saith he, “filii, etiam quando erant in professione et nomine filiorum; non quia justitiam simulaverunt, sed quia in ea non permanserunt.” This righteousness he esteemed not to be merely feigned and hypocritical, but rather such as might truly entitle them to the state and condition of the children of God, in the sense before expressed.

And again, “Isti cum pie vivunt dicuntur filii Dei, sed quoniam victuri sunt impie, et in eadem impietate morituri, non eos dicit filios Dei præscientia Dei.” And farther in the same chapter, “Sunt rursus quidam qui filii Dei propter susceptam temporalem gratiam dicuntur a nobis, nec sunt tamen Deo.” And again, “Non erant in numero filiornm, etiam quando erant in fide filiorum.” And, “Sicut non vere discipuli Christi, ita nec vere filii Dei fuerunt, etiam quando esse videbantur, et ira vocabantur.” He concludes, “Appellamus ergo nos et electos Christi discipulos, et Dei filios, quos regeneratos” (that is, as to the sacramental sign of that grace), “pie vivere cernimus; sed tunc vere sunt quod appellantur, si manserint in eo propter quod sic appellantur. Si autem perseverantiam non habent, id est, in eo quod cœperunt esse non manent, non vere appellantur quod appellantur, et non sunt.” As also, De Doct. Christiana, lib. iii. cap. xxxii., “Non est revera corpus Christi quod non erit cum illo in æternum.”

And these are the persons which Austin and those of the same judgment with him do grant that they may fall away, such as, upon the account of their baptismal entrance into the church, their pious, devout lives, their profession of the faith of the gospel, they called and accounted regenerate believers; of whom yet they tell you, upon a thorough search into the nature and causes of holiness, grace, and walking with God, that they would be found not to be truly and really in that state and condition that they were esteemed to be in; of which they thought this a sufficient demonstration, even because they did not persevere: which undeniably, on the other hand (with the testimonies foregoing, and the like innumerable that might be produced), evinces that their constant judgment was, that all who are truly, really, and in the sight of God, believers, ingrafted into Christ, and adopted into his family, should certainly persevere; and that all the passages usually cited out of this holy and learned man, to persuade us that he ever cast an eye towards the doctrine of the apostasy of the saints, may particularly be referred to this head, and manifested that they do not at all concern those whom he esteemed saints indeed, which is clear from the consideration of what hath been insisted on. Thus far he, of whom what were the thoughts of the church of God in the days wherein he lived hath been declared; he who hath been esteemed, amongst the ecclesiastical writers of old, to have laboured more, and to more purpose, in the doctrine of the grace of God, than all that went before him, or any that have followed after him; whose renown in the church hath been chiefly upheld and maintained upon the account of the blessed pains and labours, wherein the presence of God made him to excel, for the depressing the pride of all flesh, and the exaltation of the riches of God’s love, and efficacy of his grace in Jesus Christ, wherewith the whole church in succeeding ages hath been advantaged beyond what is easy to be expressed.

That Prosper, Hilary, Fulgentius, and the men of renown in the congregation 67of God at the end of that age, did fall in with their judgments to that which Austin had delivered, I suppose will be easily confessed. Prosper, ad cap. vii. Gal.: “Quomodo eos habeat præordinata in Christo electio? cum dubium non sit donum Dei esse perseverantiam in bono usque ad finem; quod istos, ex eo ipso quod non perseverarunt, non habuisse manifestum est.” Also, the breaking of the power and frustrating of the attempt of Pelagius by sundry doctors of the church, and synods to that end assembled (whereof Prosper gives us an account, reckoning them up in their order, and Austin before him, Epist. xlii. and xlvii., with special relation to what was done in Afric, and in the beginning of his verses, De Ingratis), with what troubles were raised and created anew to the champions of the grace of God by the writings of Cassianus, Faustus, Vincentius, the Massilienses, with some others in France, and the whole rabble of semi-Pelagians, with the fiction of Sigibert about a predestinarian heresy (whereof there was never any thing in being, no not among the Adrumentine monks, where Vossius hoped to have placed it), the council of Arles, the corruptions and falsifications of Faustus in the business of Lucidus, the impositions on Gotteschalcus, with the light given to that business from the Epistle of Florus, — have exercised the commendable endeavours of so many already that there is not the least need farther to insist upon them. What entertainment that peculiar doctrine, which I am in the consideration of, found in the following ages is that which I shall farther demonstrate.

After these was Gregory I., who, lib. i. Epist. xcix., speaks to the same purpose with them in these words: “Redemptor noster, Dei hominumque mediator, conditionis humanæ non immemor, sic imis summa conjungit, ut ipse in unitate permanens ita temporalia, occulto instinctu, pia consulens moderatione disponat, quatenus de ejus manu antiquus hostis nullatenus rapiat, quos ante secula intra sinum matris ecclesiæ adunandos esse præscivit; nam et si quisquam eorum inter quos degit, statibus motus ad tempus ut palmes titubet, radix tamen rectæ fidei, quæ ex occulto prodit, divino judicio virens manet, quæ accepto tempore fructum de se ostentare valeat, qui latebat.” This is the sum of what we contend for, — namely, that all those whom God hath predestinated to be added to the church, receiving a saving faith, though they may be shaken, yet on that account the root abides firm, their faith never utterly perisheth, but in due time brings forth accepted fruits again.

And most expressive to our purpose is that discourse of his which you have, lib. xxxiv. Moral. cap. viii. Saith he, “Aurum, quod pravis diaboli persuasionibus quasi lutum sterni potuerit, aurum ante Dei oculos nunquam fuit, qui enim seduci quandoque non reversuri possunt, quasi habitam sanctitatem ante oculos hominum videntur amittere, sed eam ante oculos Dei nunquam habuerunt.”

The exclusion of those from being true believers who may be seduced and fall away doth most eminently infer the perseverance of all them who are so.

Add unto these Œcumenius (though he be one of a later date), and these shall suffice for the period of time relating to the Pelagian controversy. Saith he, in Epist. ad Eph. cap. i. 14, Ὁ ἀῤῥαβὼν πιστοῦται τὸ ὅλον· τινὰ τοίνυν υἱσθεσίαν καὶ τὰ μύρια ἀγαθὰ πιστούμενος ὁ Θεὸς δέδωκεν ἀῤῥαβῶνα τῆς ἐπουρανίου κληρονομίας τὸ Ἅγιον Πνεῦμα. All is confirmed and ratified by the earnest of the Spirit, that is given to them that believe.

Of those that lived after the days of the forementioned (I mean all of them but the last), that I may not cloy the reader, I shall not mention any, until the business of divinity and the profession of it was taken up by the schoolmen and canonists; who, from a mixture of divine and human principles, framed the whole body of it anew, and gave it over into the possession of the present Romish church, moulded for the most part to the worldly, carnal interests of them on whom they had their dependency in their several generations.

But yet as there was none of those but, one way or other, was eminently conducing to the carrying on of the mystery of iniquity, by depraving, perverting, and corrupting, one truth or other of the gospel, so all of them did not in all things equally corrupt their ways, but gave some testimony more or less to some truths, as they received them from those that went before them. So fell it out in the matter of the grace of God and the corruption of the nature of man. Though some of them laboured to corrode and corrupt the ancient received doctrine thereof, so some, again, contended with all their might, in their way and by their arguments, to defend it; as is evident in the instance of Bradwardin crying out to God and man to help in the cause of God against the Pelagians in his days, in particular complaining of the great master of their divinity. So that notwithstanding all their corruptions, these ensuing principles passed currently amongst the most eminent of them as to the doctrine under consideration, which continue in credit with many of their sophistical successors to this day:—

1. That perseverance is a grace of God, bestowed according to predestination, or election, on men; that is, that God gives it to believers that are predestinated and elected.

2. That on whomsoever the grace of perseverance is bestowed, they do persevere to the end; and it is impossible in some sense that they should otherwise do.

3. That none who are not predestinate, what grace soever they may be made partakers of in this world, shall constantly continue to the end.

4. That no believer can by his own strength or power (incited or stirred up by what manlike or rational considerations soever) persevere in the faith, the grace of perseverance being a gift of God.

It is true, that, their judgments being perverted by sundry other corrupt principles, about the nature and efficacy of sacraments, with their conveyance of grace “ex opere operato,” and out of ignorance of the righteousness of God and the real work of regeneration, they generally maintain (though Bradwardin punctually expressed himself to be of another mind) that many persons not predestinate may come to believe, yet fall away and perish.

Now, the truth is, it is properly no part of the controversy under consideration, whether, or how far, and in what sense, men, by reason of the profession and participation of ordinances, with the work and effect of common grace upon them, may be said to be true believers; but the whole, upon the matter of what we plead for, is comprised in the assertions now ascribed to them: which that it is done upon sufficient grounds will be manifest by calling in some few of the most eminent of them, to speak in their own words what their thoughts were in this matter.

To bring them in, I desire that one who (though none of them) was eminent in his undertakings for a mixture of divinity and law, in those days wherein they had their eminent rise and original, may be heard; and that is Gratian, who after his manner hath collected many things to the purpose in hand. P. 2, c. 33, q. 3, De Pœnit. Dist., can. 2, “Charitas,” saith he, “est juncta Deo inseparabiliter, et unita, et in omnibus semper invicta.” And, “Electi quippe sic ad bonum tendunt, ut ad mala perpetranda non redeant; et, potest discursus, et mobilitas spiritus sic intelligi. In sanctorum quippe cordibus juxta quasdam virtutes semper permanet; juxta quasdam vero recessurus venit, venturus recedit: in fide etenim, et spe, et charitate, et bonis aliis, sine quibus ad cœlestem patriam non potest veniri (sicut est humilitas, castitas, justitia, atque misericordia) perfectorum corda non deserit: in prophetiæ vero virtute, doctrinæ facundia, miraculorum exhibitione, suls aliquando adest, aliquando se subtrahit.” Answering the objection of the Spirit’s departure from them on whom he is bestowed, he distinguisheth of the respects upon the account whereof he may be said so to do. “In respect of some common gifts,” saith he, “he may withdraw himself from them on whom he is bestowed; but not in respect of habitual sanctifying grace.”

Among the schoolmen, there is none of greater name and eminency, for learning, devotion, and subtilty, than our Bradwardin, who was proctor of this university in the year 1325, and obtained by general consent the title of Doctor Profundus. Lib. ii., De Causa Dei, cap. viii., this profoundly learned doctor proposes this thesis, to be confirmed in the following chapter: “Quod nullus viator, quantacunque gratia creata subnixus, solius liberi arbitrii viribus, vel etiam cure adjutorio gratiæ, possit perseverare finaliter, sine alio Dei auxilio speciali.” In the long disputation following, he disputes out of the Scriptures and ancient writers, abundantly cited to his purpose, that there is no possibility of the perseverance of any believer in the faith to the end upon such helps, considerations, and advantages, as Mr Goodwin proposeth as the only means thereof; that perseverance itself is a gift of God, without which gift and grace none can persevere. And the speciality of that grace he expresseth in the corollary wherewith he closeth the chapter, which is, “Quod nullus viator, solius liberi arbitrii, vel gratiæ viribus, aut amborum conjunctim, sine alio Dei auxilio speciali, potest perseverare per aliquod tempus omnino;” farther asserting the efficacy of special grace in and for every good work whatever. His arguments and testimonies I shall not need to recite; they are at hand to those who desire to consult them.

After the vindication of the former thesis, cap. ix., x., xi., he proposeth farther this proposition, to a right understanding of the doctrine of perseverance: “Quod perseverantia non est aliquod donum Dei creatum, a charitate, et gratia realiter differens.” And the corollary wherewith he shuts up that disputation is: “Quod nomen perseverantiæ nullam rem absolutam essentialiter significat, sed accidentaliter et relative; charitatem videlicet, sive justitiam cum respectu futuræ permansionis usque in finem, et quod non improbabiliter posset dici perseverantiam esse ipsam relationem hujus.”

After this, knowing well what conclusion would easily be inferred from these principles, — namely, That perseverance is not really distinct from faith and love, that it is such a grace and gift of God that whosoever it is bestowed upon shall certainly persevere, namely, that every one who hath received true grace, faith and love, shall certainly persevere, — he objects that to himself, and plainly grants it to be so indeed, cap. xii. And to make the matter more clear, cap. xiii., he disputes, that “Auxilium sine quo nullus perseverat, et per quod quilibet perseverat, est Spiritus Sanctus, divina bonitas et voluntas.” Every cause of bringing sinful man to God is called by them “auxilium.’ In these three, “Spiritus Sanctus, divina bonitas, et voluntas,” he compriseth the chief causes of perseverance, as I have also done in the ensuing treatise. By “divina voluntas” he intends God’s eternal and immutable decree, as he manifests, cap. viii., ix., whither he sends his reader; his “divina bonitas” is that free grace whereby God accepts and justifies us as his; “Spiritus Sanctus” is sanctification: so that he affirms the perseverance of the saints to consist in the stability of their acceptation with God, and continuance of their sanctification from him, upon the account of his unchangeable purposes and decrees; which is the sum of what we contend for.

And this is part of the doctrine concerning the grace of God, and his sovereignty over the wills of men, which Bradwardin in his days cried out so earnestly for the defence of to God and man against the Pelagian encroachment, which was made upon it in those days. Thus he turns himself, in the conclusion of his book, to the pope and church of Rome, with zealous earnestness, for their interposition to the determination of these controversies. “Ut os inique loquentium,” saith he, “obstruatur, flexis genibus cordis mei imploro ecclesiam, præcipue Romanam, quæ summa authoritate vigere dignoscitur, quatenus ipsa determinare dignetur, quid circa præmissas catholice sit tenendum. Non enim sine periculo in talibus erratur. Simon, dormis? exurge,” speaking to the pope, “exime gladium, amputa quæque sinistra hæreticæ pravitatis, defende et protege catholicam veritatem. Porro etsi Dominus ipse in Petri navicula dormiat, nimietate tempestatis compulsus, ipsum quoque fiducialiter excitabo, quatenus Spiritus oris sui tempestate sedata tranquillum faciat et serenum. Absit autem, ut qui in prora hujus naviculæ pervigil laborabat, jam in puppi super cervicalia dormiat, vel dormitet,” lib. iii. cap. liii.

With this earnestness, above three hundred years ago, did this profoundly learned man press the popes to a determination of these controversies against the Pelagians and their successors in his schools. The same suit hath ever since been continued by very many learned men (in every age) of the communion of the church of Rome, crying out for the papal definitive sentence against the Pelagian errors crept into their church; especially hath this outcry with supplication been renewed by the Dominican friars, ever since the Jesuits have so cunningly gilded over that Pelagian poison, and set it out as the best and most wholesome food for “holy mother” and her children. Yea, with such earnestness hath this been in the last age pursued by agents in the court of Rome, that (a congregation de auxiliis being purposely appointed) it was generally supposed one while that they would have prevailed in their suit, and have obtained a definitive sentence on their side against their adversaries. But through the just vengeance of God upon a pack of bloody, persecuting idolaters, giving them up more and more to the belief of lies, contrary almost to the expectation of all men, this very year, 1653, Pope Innocent X., who now wears the triple crown, conjured by the subtlety and dreadful interest of the Jesuits in all nations that as yet wonder after him, by a solemn bull, or papal consistorian determination, in the case of Jansenius, bishop of Ypres, hath turned the scales upon his first suppliants, and cast the cause on the Pelagian side. But of that whole business elsewhere.

I shall not perplex the reader with the horrid names of Trombet, Hilcot, Bricot, Sychet, Tartaret, Brulifer, nor with their more horrid terms and expressions. Let the one Angelical Doctor [i.e., Aquinas] answer for the rest of his companions.

That this man, then (one of the great masters of the crew), abode by the principles of him before insisted on, may quickly be made evident by some few instances clearing his judgment herein.

This, in the first place, he everywhere insists on, that no habitual grace received, no improvement that can be made of it, by the utmost ability, diligence, and the most raised considerations of the best of men, will cause any one certainly to persevere, without the peculiar preservation of God. Of this he gives his reason, lib. iii. Contra Gent. Ca. 155, “Illud quod natura sun est variabile, ad hoc, quod figatur in uno, indiget auxilio alicujus moventis immobilis; sed liberum arbitrium etiam existentis in gratia habituali adhuc manet variabile, et flexibile a bono in malum; ergo ad hoc, quod figatur in bono et perseveret in illo, usque ad finem, indiget speciali Dei auxilio.” An argument this of the same importance with that mentioned out of Bradwardin; which, howsoever at first appearance it may seem to lie at the outskirts of the controversy in hand, yet indeed is such as, being granted, hath an influence into the whole, as hath been manifested.

And this the same author farther confirms. Saith he, pp. q. 109, a. 9, “Cum nullum agens secundum agat nisi in virtute primi, sitque caro spiritui perpetuo rebellis; non potest homo licet jam gratiam consecutus, per seipsum operari bonum, et vitare peccatum, absque novo auxilio Dei, ipsum moventis, dirigentis, et protegentis; quamvis alia habitualis gratia ad hoc ei necessaria non sit.” And the reasons he gives of this conclusion in the body of the article are considerable. This, saith he, must be so, “Primo quidem, ratione generali propter hoc, quod nulla res creata potest in quemcunque actum prodire, nisi virtute motionis divinæ.” The Pelagian self-sufficiency and exemption from dependence “in solidum” upon God, both providentially and physically as to operation, was not so freely received in the schools as afterward. “Secundo,” saith he, “ratione speciali, propter conditionem status humanæ naturæ, quæ quidem licet per gratiam sanetur, quantum ad mentem, remanet tamen in eo corruptio, et infectio quantum ad carnem, per quam servit legi peccati, ut dicitur, Rom. vii. Remanet etiam quædam ignorantiæ obscuritas in intellectu, secundum quam (ut etiam dicitur, Rom. viii. ‘quid oremus sicut oportet nescimus:’ ideo necesse est nobis, ut a Deo dirigamur et protegamur, qui omnia novit, et omnia potest.” And will not this man, think you, in his gropings after light, when darkness covered the face of the earth, and thick darkness was upon the inhabitants thereof, with this his discovery, — of the impotency of the best of the saints for perseverance upon the account of any grace received, because of the perpetual powerful rebellion of indwelling lust and corruption, and that all that do persevere are preserved by the power of God unto salvation, — rise in judgment against those who in our days, wherein the Sun of Righteousness is risen with healing under his wings, do ascribe a sufficiency unto men in themselves, upon the bottom of their rational considerations, to abide with God, or persevere to the end?

And this assertion of the Angelical Doctor is notably confirmed by Didacus Alvarez in his vindication of it from the exception of Medina, that we make use of habits when we will, and if men will make use of their habitual grace, they may persevere without relation to any after grace of God. Saith he, “Respondetur, habitibus quidem nos uti cum volumus, sed ut velimus illis uti, prærequiritur motio Dei efficax, præmovens liberum arbitrium, ut utatur habitu ad operandum, et operetur bonum, præsertim quando habitus sunt supernaturales; quia cum pertineant ad superiorem ordinem, habent specialem rationem, propter quam potentia mere naturalis non utitur eisdem habitibus, nisi speciali Dei auxilio moveatur,” Alvar. De Aux. lib. x. disput. 100. Though received graces are reckoned by him as supernatural habits, yet such as we act not by, nor with, but from new supplies from God.

Having laid down this principle, Thomas proceeds to manifest that there is a special grace of perseverance bestowed by God on some, and that on whomsoever it is bestowed, they certainly and infallibly persevere to the end, pp. quest. 109, a. 10, c.; and Contra Gent. lib. iii., he proves this assertion from p. 6, 1 Pet. v. 10; Ps. xvi.

But, to spare the reader, I shall give you this man’s judgment, together with one of his followers, who hath had the happiness to clear his master’s mind above any that have undertaken the maintenance of his doctrine in that part now controverted in the church of Rome; and therein I shall manifest (what I formerly proposed) what beamings and irradiations of this truth do yet glide, through that gross darkness which is spread upon the face of the Romish synagogue; — referring what I have farther to add on this head to the account which, God assisting, I shall ere long give of the present Jansenian controversies, in my considerations on Mr Biddle’s catechisms, a task by authority lately imposed on me. This is Didacus Alvarez, whose 10th book De Auxiliis treats peculiarly of this subject of perseverance. In the entrance of his disputation, he lays down the same principles with the former concerning the necessity of the peculiar grace of perseverance, to the end that any one may persevere, disp. 103.

Then, disp. 108, he farther manifests that this gift or grace of perseverance does not depend on any conditions in us, or any co-operation of our wills. His position he lays down in these words: “Donum perseverantiæ, in ratione doni perseverantiæ, et efficacia illius, nullo modo dependet effective ex libera co-operatione nostri arbitrii, sed a solo Deo, atque ab efficacia, et absoluto decreto voluntatis ejus, qui pro sua misericordia tribuit illud donum cui vult.” In the farther proof of this proposition, he manifests by clear testimonies that the contrary doctrine hereunto was that of the Pelagians and semi-Pelagians, which Austin opposed in sundry treatises. And in all the arguments whereby he farther confirms it, he still presses the absurdity of making the promise of God concerning perseverance conditional, and so suspending it on any thing in and by us to be performed. And, indeed, all the acts whereby we persevere flowing, according to him, from the grace of perseverance, it cannot but be absurd to make the efficient cause in its efficiency and operation to depend upon its own effect. This also is with him ridiculous, that the grace of perseverance should be given to any and he not persevere, or be promised and yet not given; yet withal he grants, in his following conclusions, that our wills, secondarily and in dependency, do co-operate in our perseverance.

The second principle this learned schoolman insists on is, that this gift of perseverance is peculiar to the elect, or predestinate: Disput. 104, 1, Con. “Donum perseverantiæ est proprium prædestinatorum, ut nulli alteri conveniat.” And what he intends by “prædestinati,” he informs you according to the judgment of Austin and Thomas: “Nomine prædestinationis ad gloriam, solum eam prædestinationem intelligunt (Augustinus et Thomas) qua electi ordinantur efficaciter, et transmittuntur ad vitam æternam; cujus effectus sunt vocatio, justificatio, et perseverantia in gratia usque ad finem.” Not that (or such a) conditional predestination as is pendent in the air, and expectant of men’s good final deportment; but that which is the eternal, free fountain of all that grace whereof in time by Jesus Christ we are made partakers.

And in the pursuit of this proposition, he farther proves at large that the perseverance given to the saints in Christ is not a supplement of helps and advantages, whereby they may preserve it if they will, but such as causes them on whom it is bestowed certainly and actually so to do; and that, in its efficacy and operation, it cannot depend on any free co-operation of our wills, all the good acts tending to our perseverance being fruits of that grace which is bestowed on us, according to the absolute unchangeable decree of the will of God.

This, indeed, is common with this author and the rest of his associates (the Dominicans and present Jansenians) in these controversies, together with the residue of the Romanists, that having their judgments wrested by the abominable figments of implicit faith, and the efficacy of the sacraments of the new testament, conveying, and really exhibiting, the grace signified or sealed by them, they are enforced to grant that many may be, and are, regenerated and made true believers who are not predestinated, and that these cannot persevere, nor shall eventually be saved. Certain it is, that there is not any truth which that generation of men do receive and admit, but more or less it suffers in their hands, from that gross ignorance of the free grace of God in Jesus Christ, the power whereof they are practically under. What the poor vassals and slaves will do upon the late bull of their holy father, casting them in sundry main concernments of their quarrel with their adversaries, is uncertain. Otherwise, setting aside some such deviations as the above mentioned, whereunto they are enforced by their ignorance of the grace and justification which is in Jesus Christ, there is so much of ancient candid truth, in opposition to the Pelagians and semi-Pelagians, preserved and asserted in the writings of the Dominican friars, as will rise up, as I said before, in judgment against those of our days who, enjoying greater light and advantages, do yet close in with those, and are long since cursed enemies of the grace of God.

To this Dominican I shall only add the testimony of two famous Jesuits, upon whose understandings the light of this glorious truth prevailed, for an acknowledgment of it. The first of these is Bellarmine, whose disputes to this purpose being full and large, and the author in all men’s hands, shall not transcribe his assertions and arguments; but only refer the reader to his lib. ii., De Grat. et Lib. Arbit. cap. xii., “Denique ut multa alia testimonia,” etc. The other is Suarez, who delivers his thoughts succinctly upon the whole of this matter. Lib. xi. De Perpetuitat. vel Amis. Grat. cap. ii., sect. 6, saith he, “De prædestinatis verum est infallibiliter, quod gratiam finaliter seu in perpetuum non amittunt; unde postquam semel gratiam habuerant, ita reguntur et proteguntur a Deo, ut vel non cadant, vel si ceciderint resurgant; et licet sæpius cadant et resurgant, tandem aliquando ita resurgunt ut amplius non cadant.” In which few words he hath briefly comprised the sum of that which is by us contended for.

It was in my thoughts in the last place to have added the concurrent witness of all the reformed churches, with that of the most eminent divines, which have written in the defence of their concessions, but this trouble, upon second consideration, I shall spare the reader and myself; for as many other reasons lie against the prosecuting of this design, so especially the uselessness of spending time and pains for the demonstration of a thing of so evident a truth prevails with me to desist. Notwithstanding the endeavours of Mr Goodwin to wrest the words of some of the most ancient writers who laboured in the first reformation of the churches, I presume no unprejudiced person in the least measure acquainted with the system of that doctrine which, with so much pains, diligence, piety, and learning, they promoted in the world, with the clearness of their judgments in going forth to the utmost compass of their principles which they received, and their constancy to themselves in asserting of the truths they embraced, — owned by their friends and adversaries until such time as Mr Goodwin discovered their self-contradictions, — will scarce be moved once to question their judgments by the excerpts of Mr Goodwin, chap. xv. of his treatise; so that of this discourse this is the issue.

There remains only that I give a brief account of some concernments of the ensuing treatise, and dismiss the reader from any farther attendance in the porch or entrance thereof.

The title of the book speaks of the aim and method of it. The confutation of Mr Goodwin was but secondarily in my eye; and the best way for that I judged to consist in a full scriptural confirmation of the truth he opposed. That I chiefly intended; and therein I hope the pious reader may, through the grace of God, meet with satisfaction. In my undertaking to affirm the truth of what I assert, the thing itself first, and then the manifestation of it, were in my consideration. For the thing itself, my arguing hath been to discover the nature of it, its principles and causes, its relation to the good-will of the Father, the mediation of the Son, and dispensation of the Holy Ghost to the saints thereupon; and its use and tendency in and unto that fellowship with the Father and the Son whereunto we are called and admitted.

As to the manner of its revelation, the proper seats of it in the book of God, the occasion of the delivery thereof in several seasons, the significant expressions wherein it is set forth, and the receiving of it by them to whom it was revealed, have been diligently remarked.

In those parts of the discourse which tend to the vindication of the arguments from Scripture whereby the truth pleaded for is confirmed, of the usefulness of the thing itself contended about, etc., I have been, I hope, careful to keep my discourse from degenerating into jangling and strife of words (the usual issue of polemical writings), being not altogether ignorant of the devices of Satan, and the usual carnal attendancies of such proceedings. The weight of the truth in hand, the common interest of all the saints in their walking with God therein, sense of my own duty, and the near approach of the account which I must make of the ministration to me committed, have given bounds and limits to my whole discourse, as to the manner of handling the truth therein asserted. Writing in the common language of the nation about the common possession of the saints, the meanest and weakest as well as the wisest and the most learned, labouring in the work of Christ and his gospel, I durst not hide the understanding of what I aimed at by mingling the plain doctrine of the Scripture with metaphysical notions, expressions of art, or any pretended ornaments of wit or fancy; because I fear God. For the more sublime consideration of things, and such a way of their delivery as, depending upon the acknowledged reception of sundry arts and sciences, which the generality of Christians neither are nor need to be acquainted withal, scholars may communicate their thoughts and apprehensions unto and among themselves, and that upon the stage of the world, in that language whereunto they have consented for and to that end and purpose. That I have carefully abstained from personal reflections, scoffs, undervaluations, applications of stories and old sayings, to the provocation of the spirit of them with whom I have to do, I think not at all praiseworthy, because, upon a review of some passages in the treatise (now irrecoverable), I fear I have scarce been so careful as I am sure it was my duty to have been.

5    The initials of Henry Hammond. An account of Owen’s controversy with him will be found in a note at the end of the preface. — Ed.
6    “Unicum D. Blondellum aut alterum fortasse inter omnes mortales Walonem Messalinum, cap. xxv. sect. 3.”
7    Ter. Adel. v. 9, 15, etc.

Note by the editor.

See page 27.

To remove from the preceding preface the appearance of confusion which it presents, it is enough to remark, that in the course of citing testimonies in proof that his views on the subject of the perseverance of the saints had the sanction of antiquity, Owen, after a passing blow at the Clementine Constitutions, proceeds not only to impugn the integrity of the Ignatian Epistles, but to assail the reasonings of Dr Hammond in support of Episcopacy. On the former point, admitting generally that the documents known by the name of the Epistles of Ignatius might contain much that was the production of that early martyr, Owen represents them as so adulterated that no valid inference can be drawn from their contents. His reasons are, that high authorities, such as Vedelius, who brought out the Genevan edition of them, CalvinDe SaumaiseBlondel, the Magdeburg Centuriators, and Whitaker, had pronounced much of them to be spurious; that they contained passages from the Clementine Constitutions, a forgery, and of a date subsequent to the age of Ignatius; that the passages quoted from them by Theodoret and Jerome do not accord with, or rather do not exist in, the version of them extant; that the style of them is replete with turgid expressions, inconsistent with the simplicity of the early Christian writers; that Latin words occur in them, not likely to be employed by a Syrian like Ignatius; and that they contain expressions of overweening deference to the hierarchy, a species of government not in existence in the time of Ignatius. On such grounds, our author holds that these epistles resemble those children of the Jews by their strange wives, who “spake part the language of Ashdod, and part the language of the Jews.”

No doubt exists that Ignatius was the author of some epistles warning the church of his day against heretical opinions, which had begun to disturb its unity and peace; and early fathers of the church, PolycarpIrenæusTheophilus of AntiochOrigen, and Eusebius, make specific allusion to these epistles. The question is, What epistles are to be regarded as the genuine writings of Ignatius among three different collections purporting to be such; first, twelve epistles in Greek and Latin, with a long and expanded text; secondly, eleven epistles in Greek and Latin, of which seven are in a shorter text; and lastly, the three epistles in Syriac published by Mr Cureton, of which the text is shorter even than that of the last-mentioned collection?

From the strong support which many expressions in the first and second of these recensions lend to the hierarchical element in church-government, these documents were of importance in the controversy between Presbyterians and Episcopalians. While the text was yet unsettled, and different editions were issuing from the press, — one by Vedelius in 1623, giving seven Greek epistles, corresponding in name to those mentioned by Eusebius; another by Usher in 1644; another by Vossius in 1646, giving eight epistles, with part of a ninth, founded on a manuscript discovered at Florence, and hence, designated the Medicean Greek text, — certain writers, such as Claude de Saumaise (1641) and Blondel (1646), laboured to prove that these epistles bore traces of an age posterior to IgnatiusDr Hammond (1651), in four dissertations, replied to them, defending the genuineness of the epistles, and episcopal government. It is in answer to this last work that Owen wrote the animadversions which form the digression in his preface to his work on the Perseverance of the SaintsHammond published a rejoinder, in his “Answer to Animadversions on the Dissertations touching Ignatius’ Epistles,” etc.

The most important contributions to this controversy followed, and with them for a time it ceased. Daillé, in 1666, published a learned work, designed, according to the title-page, to prove three things, — that the epistles were spurious, that they were written after the time of Ignatius, and that they were of no higher authority than “The Cardinal Works of Christ,” a production commonly inserted among the remains of Cyprian. In 1672, Pearson, afterwards bishop of Chester published his “Vindiciæ Epistolarum S. Ignatii,” — long deemed conclusive by those who were in favour of the genuineness of the epistles, in spite of an able anonymous reply by Larroque in 1674, and the doubts that continued to be felt by many scholars who had made the epistles the subject of keen and critical investigation.

From this point no advance was made in the discussion, some authors contending for the long recension and some for the shorter, till the conjecture of Usher respecting the probability of a Syriac manuscript was verified, by the discovery of a Syriac version of the Epistle to Polycarp among some ancient manuscripts, procured by Archdeacon Tattam, in 1838 or 1839, from a monastery in the Desert of Nitria. Mr Cureton, who discovered the epistle among these manuscripts, set on foot a new search for other manuscripts. The result was, that the archdeacon, by a second expedition to Egypt, brought home in 1843 three entire epistles in Syriac, to Polycarpto the Ephesians, and to the RomansM. Pacho secured possession of another copy in 1847, which afterwards came under the examination of Mr Cureton.

It is the opinion of Mr Cureton and Chevalier Bunsen that these three Syriac epistles are the only genuine writings of Ignatius; — because the Syriac manuscript, transcribed most probably before a.d. 550, is of greater antiquity than any existing Greek manuscripts; — the epistles in Syriac are shorter than the same epistles as published by Usher in the Medicean text, while the sense comes out more clearly, from the omission of the parts found only in the Greek manuscripts; — passages in the latter, to which objections have been urged, as containing allusions to heresies (Valentinianism, for example) subsequent to the time of Ignatius, and sentences insisting on a superstitious deference to the hierarchy, do not appear in the Syriac; from which it would follow, either that these passages are spurious, and inserted since the time of the Syriac translator, or that he anticipated the objections of modern criticism, and confirmed them as just by deleting these passages; — there is perfect uniformity in the style of so much of these epistles in Greek as corresponds with the three Syriac epistles, while the discrepancy of style existing in the Greek recensions between the Epistle to Polycarp and the rest, the difference of matter in the Epistle to the Romans (in the Greek six times longer than in the Syriac), and the peculiar complexion of two chapters in the Epistle to the Trallians, transferred, as it now appears, from the Epistle to the Romans, had all been noticed previous to the discovery of the Syriac manuscripts, and had thrown an air of suspicion over all the epistles; — and the three epistles in the Syriac collection are the only epistles for which the evidence of antiquity, in the shape of testimonies and allusions in the writings of the early fathers, can be cited for upwards of two centuries after the death of Ignatius.

On the other hand, it has been argued that the Syriac version is probably an epitome of the Greek epistles; that such abridgments were common in ancient times; that the scope and sense is more clear in the Greek than in the Syriac; that a manuscript printed by Mr Cureton is a Syriac abridgment of these epistles, differing from that of the three considered by him to be genuine; that the events and opinions which seem to indicate a later age than that of the martyr may be explained by reference to his age; that in the third century quotations are found from all the epistles; and that Eusebius expressly names and describes seven epistles, a testimony repeated by Jerome.

At present the amount of evidence seems in favour of the three Syriac epistles, as all the genuine remains of Ignatius we possess. It is possible that. Syriac manuscripts of the other epistles may be discovered, although the claim of the former to be not only paramount but exclusive has been argued with great force, on the ground that had the latter existed, they would certainly have been the subject of appeal in many controversies by many fathers who utterly ignore them, as well as from the closing words of the recently discovered manuscripts, “Here end the three epistles of Ignatius, bishop and martyr.” Meanwhile it is satisfactory to know that the Syriac version leaves the argument for the authenticity and genuineness of the Scriptures very nearly where it stood. It contains references to two of the Gospels, to the Acts of the Apostles, and to five of Paul’s Epistles. Both the Epistles of Ignatius to the Ephesians and to the Romans, in the Syriac version, assert distinctly the Godhead of Christ.

But how fares the question of ecclesiastical polity, — the point which brought these epistles into dispute between Owen and Hammond, — by the discovery of the Syriac manuscript? All the passages in favour of the hierarchy disappear in it, except the following from the Epistle to Polycarp, “Look to the bishop, that God also may look upon you. I will be instead of the souls of those who are subject to the bishop, and the presbyters, and the deacons.” Are we to say here, like Neander in reference to all the Greek epistles, with the exception of the one to the Romans, which he admitted to possess greater marks of originality than the others, “a hierarchical purpose is not to be mistaken,” to pronounce it an interpolation or challenge the authenticity of the Syriac document? or are we to admit its genuineness, and accept it as evidence that Episcopacy dates so early as the time of Ignatius? or are we to question the import of the term “bishop,” so as to make it quadrate with Congregational or Presbyterian views? But these questions, while they illustrate the present state of the controversy, are beyond our province. — Ed.

Chapter 1. The state of the controversy.

The various thoughts of men concerning the doctrine proposed to consideration — The great concernment of it, however stated, on all hands confessed — Some special causes pressing to the present handling of it — The fearful backsliding of many in these days — The great offence given and taken thereby, with the provision made for its removal — The nature of that offence and temptation thence arising considered — Answer to some arguings of Mr G., chap. ix., from thence against the truth proposed — The use of trials and shakings — Grounds of believers’ assurance that they are so — The same farther argued and debated — Of the testimony of a man’s own conscience concerning his uprightness, and what is required thereunto — 1 John iii. 7 considered — Of the rule of self-judging, with principles of settlement for true believers, notwithstanding the apostasies of eminent professors — Corrupt teachings rendering the handling of this doctrine necessary — Its enemies of old and of late — The particular undertaking of Mr G. proposed to consideration — An entrance into the stating of the question — The terms of the question explained — Of holiness in its several acceptations — Created holiness, original or adventitious, complete or inchoate — Typical by dedication, real by purification — Holiness evangelical, either so indeed or by estimation — Real holiness partial or universal — The partakers of the first, or temporary believers, not true believers, maintained against Mr G. — Ground of judging professors to be true believers — Matt. vii. 20 considered — What is the rule of judging men therein given — What knowledge of the faith of others is to be obtained — What is meant by perseverance: how in Scripture it is expressed — The grounds of it pointed at — What is intended by falling away — Whether it be possible the Spirit of grace may be lost, or the habit of it, and how — The state of the controversy as laid down by Mr G. — The vanity thereof discovered — His judgment about believers’ falling away examined — What principles and means of perseverance he grants to them — The enemies of our perseverance — Indwelling sin in particular considered — No possibility of preservation upon Mr G.’s grounds demonstrated — The means and ways of the saints’ preservation in faith, as asserted by Mr G., at large examined, weighed, and found light — The doctrine of the saints’ perseverance, and way of teaching it, cleared from Isa. iv. — That chapter opened — The 5th verse particularly insisted on and discussed — The whole state and method of the controversy thence educed.

The truth which I have proposed to handle, and whose defence I have undertaken in the ensuing discourse, is commonly called the perseverance of saints; a doctrine whereof nothing ordinary, low, or common, is spoken by any that have engaged into the consideration of it. To some it is the very salt of the covenant of grace, the most distinguishing mercy communicated in the blood of Christ, so interwoven into, and lying at the bottom of, all that consolation which “God is abundantly willing that all the heirs of the promise should receive,” that it is utterly impossible it should be safe-guarded one moment without a persuasion of this truth, which seals up all the mercy and grace of the new covenant with the unchangeableness and faithfulness of God.8 To others it is no grace of God, no part of the purchase of Christ, no doctrine of the gospel, no foundation of consolation; but an invention of men, a delusion of Satan, an occasion of dishonour to God, disconsolation and perplexity to believers, a powerful temptation unto sin and wickedness in all that do receive it.9

A doctrine it is, also, whose right apprehension is on all hands confessed to be of great importance, upon the account of that effectual influence which it hath, and will have, into our walking with God; — which, say some, is to love humility, thankfulness, fear, fruitfulness;10 to folly, stubbornness, rebellion, dissoluteness, negligence, say others. The great confidence expressed by men concerning the evidence and certainty of their several persuasions, whether defending or opposing the doctrine under consideration, — the one part professing the truth thereof to be of equal stability with the promises of God, and most plentifully delivered in the Scripture; others (at least one, who is thought to be pars magna of his companions), that if it be asserted in any place of the Scripture, it were enough to make wise and impartial men to call the authority thereof into question, — must needs invite men to turn aside to see about what this earnest contest is. And quis is est tam potens, who dares thus undertake to remove not only ancient landmarks and boundaries of doctrines among the saints, but “mountains of brass” and the “hills about Jerusalem,” which we hoped would stand fast for ever? The concernment, then, of the glory of God, and the honour of the Lord Jesus Christ, with the interest of the souls of the saints, being so wrapped up, and that confessedly on all hands, in the doctrine proposed, I am not out of hope that the plain discoursing of it from the word of truth may be as “a word in season,” like “apples of gold in pictures of silver.”

Moreover, besides the general importance of that doctrine in all times and seasons, the wretched practices of many in the days wherein we live, and the industrious attempts of others in their teachings, for the subverting and casting it down from its excellency and that place which it hath long held in the churches of Christ and hearts of all the saints of God, have rendered the consideration of it at this time necessary.

For the first, these are days wherein we have as sad and tremendous examples of apostasy, backsliding, and falling from high and glorious pitches in profession, as any age can parallel; — as many stars cast from heaven, as many trees plucked up by the roots, as many stately buildings, by wind, rain, and storm, cast to the ground, as many sons of perdition discovered, as many washed swine returning to their mire, as many Demases going after the present evil world, and men going out from the church which were never truly and properly of it, as many sons of the morning and children of high illumination and gifts setting in darkness, and that of all sorts, as ever in so short a space of time since the name of Christ was known upon the earth.11 What through the deviating of some to the ways of the world and the lusts of the flesh, what of others to spiritual wickednesses and abominations, it is seldom that we see a professor to hold out in the glory of his profession to the end. I shall not now discourse of the particular causes hereof, with the temptations and advantages of Satan that seem to be peculiar to this season; but only thus take notice of the thing itself, as that which presseth for and rendereth the consideration of the doctrine proposed not only seasonable but necessary.

That this is a stumbling-block in the way of them that seek to walk with God, I suppose none of them will deny. It was so of old, and it will so continue until the end. And therefore our Saviour, predicting and discoursing of the like season, Matt. xxiv., foretelling that “many should be deceived,” verse 11, that “iniquity should abound,” and “the love of many wax cold,” verse 12, — that is, visibly and scandalously, to the contempt and seeming disadvantage of the gospel, — adds, as a preservative consolation to his own chosen, select ones, who might be shaken in their comfort and confidence to see so many that walked to the house of God and took sweet counsel together with them, to fall headlong to destruction, that the elect shall not be seduced. Let the attempts of seducers be what they will, and their advantages never so many, or their successes never so great, they shall be preserved; the house upon the rock shall not be cast down; against the church built on Christ the gates of hell shall not prevail. And Paul mentioning the apostasy of Hymeneus and Philetus, who seem to have been teachers of some eminency, and stars of some considerable magnitude in the firmament of the church, with the eversion of the faith of some who attended unto their abominations, 2 Tim. ii. 17, 18, lest any disconsolation should surprise believers in reference to their own condition, as though that should be lubricous, uncertain, and such as might end in destruction and their faith in an overthrow, he immediately adds that effectual cordial for the reviving and supportment of their confidence and comfort, verse 19, “Nevertheless” (notwithstanding all this apostasy of eminent professors, yet) “the foundation of God standeth sure, The Lord knoweth them that are his;” — “Those who are built upon the foundation of his unchangeable purpose and love shall not be prevailed against.” John likewise doth the same; for having told his little children that there were many antichrists abroad in the world, and they for the most part apostates, he adds in his First Epistle, ii. 19, “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.” He lets them know that by their being apostates, they had proved themselves to have been but hypocrites; and therefore believers’ dwelling in safety was no way prejudiced by their backsliding. The like occasion now calls for the like application, and the same disease for the same prevention or remedy. That no sound persons may be shaken, because unhealthy ones are shattered, — that those may not tremble who are built on the rock, because those are cast down who are built on the sand, — is one part of my aim and intendment in handling this doctrine; and therefore I shall as little dabble in the waters of strife, or insist upon it in way of controversy, as the importunity of the adversary and that truth which we are obliged to contend for will permit. One Scripture, in its own plainness and simplicity, will be of more use for the end I aim at than twenty scholastical arguments, pressed with never so much accurateness and subtilty.

A temptation, then, this is, and hath been of old, to the saints, disposed of by the manifold wisdom of God to stir them up to “take heed lest they fall;” to put them upon trying and examining “whether Christ, be in them or no;” and also to make out to those fountains of establishment, in his eternal purpose and gracious promises, wherein their refreshments and reserves under such temptations do lie.12 And though our doctrine enforces us to conclude all such never to be sound believers, in that peculiar notion and sense of that expression which shall instantly be declared, who totally and finally apostatize and fall off from the ways of God, yet is it exceedingly remote from being any true ground of shaking the faith of those who truly believe, any farther than shaking is useful for the right and thorough performance of that great gospel duty of trial and self-examination.

Mr Goodwin indeed contends, chap. ix., sect. 8–11, pp. 108–110, “That if we judge all such as fall away to perdition never to have been true believers” (that is, with such a faith as bespeaks them to enjoy union with Christ and acceptance with God), “it will administer a thousand fears and jealousies concerning the soundness of a man’s own faith, whether that be sound or no; and so it will be indifferent as to consolation whether true believers may fall away or no, seeing it is altogether uncertain whether a man hath any of that true faith which cannot perish.”

Ans. But, first, God, who hath promised to make “all things work together for good to them that love him,” in his infinite love and wisdom is pleased to exercise them with great variety, both within and without, in reference to themselves and others, for the accomplishing towards them all the good pleasure of his goodness, and carrying them on in that holy, humble, depending frame, which is needful for the receiving from him those gracious supplies without which it is impossible they should be preserved. To this end are they often exposed to winnowings of fierce winds, and shakings by more dreadful blasts than any breaths in this consideration of the apostatizing of professors, though of eminency. Not that God is delighted with their fears and jealousies, which yet he knows under such dispensations they must conflict withal, but with the trial and exercise of their graces whereunto he calls them; that is, his glory, wherein his soul is delighted. It is no singular thing for the saints of God to be exercised with a thousand fears and jealousies, and through them to grow to great establishment. If, indeed, they were such as were unconquerable, such as did not work together for their good, such as must needs be endless, all means of satisfaction and establishment being rescinded by the causes of them, then were there weight in this exception; but neither the Scriptures nor the experience of the saints of God do give the least hint to such an assertion.13

Secondly, It is denied that the fall of the most glorious hypocrites is indeed an efficacious engine in the hands of the adversary to ingenerate any other fears and jealousies, or to expose them to any other shakings, than what are common to them in other temptations of daily incursion, from which God doth constantly make a way for them to escape, 1 Cor. x. 13. It is true, indeed, that if true believers had no other foundation of their persuasion that they are so but what occurs visibly to the observation of men in the outward conversation of them that yet afterward fall totally away, the apostasy of such (notwithstanding the general assurance they have that those who are born of God cannot, shall not sin unto death, 1 John iii. 9, seeing their own interest in that estate and condition may be clouded, at least for a season, and their consolation thereupon depending interrupted) might occasion thoughts in them of very sad consideration; but whilst, besides all the beams and rays that ever issued from a falling star, all the leaves and blossoms with abortive fruit that ever grew on an unrooted tree, all the goodly turrets and ornaments of the fairest house that ever was built on the sand, there are moreover “three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost, and three that bear witness in earth, the spirit, and the water, and the blood,” — whilst there is a teaching, anointing, and assuring earnest, a firm sealing to the day of redemption, a knowledge that we are passed from death to life,14 — the temptation arising from the apostasy of hypocrites is neither so potent nor unconquerable but that, by the grace of Him through whom we can do all things, it may be very well dealt withal. This I say, supposing the ordinary presence and operation of the Spirit of grace in the hearts of believers, with such shines of God’s countenance upon them as they usually enjoy. Let these be interrupted or turned aside, and there is not the least blast or breath that proceeds from the mouth of the weakest enemy they have to deal withal but is sufficient to cast them down from the excellency of their joy and consolation, Ps. xxx. 6, 7.

The evidence of this truth is such that Mr Goodwin is forced to say, “Far be it from me to deny but that a man may very possibly attain unto a very strong and potent assurance, and that upon grounds every way sufficiently warrantable and good, that his faith is sound and saving,”15 cap. ix. sect. 9. But unto this concession he puts in a double exception:—

First, “That there is not one true believer of a hundred, yea, of many thousands, who hath any such assurance of his faith as is built upon solid and pregnant foundations.”

I must, by his leave, enter my dissent hereunto; and as we have the liberty of our respective apprehensions, so neither the one nor the other proves any thing in the cause. Setting aside cases of desertion, great temptations, and trials, I hope, through the riches of the grace and tenderness of the love of the Father, the condition is otherwise than is apprehended by Mr Goodwin with the generality of the, family of God. The reasons given by him of his thoughts to the contrary do not sway me from my hopes, or bias my former apprehensions in the least. His reasons are, —

First, “Because though the testimony of a man’s heart and conscience touching his uprightness towards God, or the soundness of any thing that is saving in him, be comfortable and cheering, yet seldom are these properties built upon such foundations which are sufficient to warrant them, at least upon such whose sufficiency in that kind is duly apprehended: for the testimony of the conscience of a man touching any thing which is spiritually and excellently good is of no such value, unless it be first excellently enlightened with the knowledge, nature, properties, and condition, of that of which it testifieth; and, secondly, be in the actual contemplation, consideration, or remembrance, of what it knoweth in this kind. Now, very few believers in the world come up to this height and degree.”

Ans. First, There is in this reason couched a supposition which, if true, would be far more effectual to shake the confidence and resolution of believers than the most serious consideration of the apostasies of all professors that ever fell from the glory of their profession from the beginning of the world; and that is, that there is no other pregnant foundation of assurance but the testimony of a man’s own heart and conscience touching his uprightness towards God, and therefore, before any can attain that assurance upon abiding foundations, they must be excellently enlightened in the nature, properties, and condition, of that which their consciences testify unto as true faith and uprightness of heart, and be clear in the disputes and questions about them, being in the actual contemplation of them when they give their testimony. I no way doubt but many thousands of believers, whose apprehensions of the nature, properties, and conditions of things, as they are in themselves, are low, weak, and confused,16 yet, having received the Spirit of adoption, bearing witness with their, spirits that they are the children of God, and having the testimony in themselves,17 have been taken up into as high a degree of comforting and cheering assurance, and that upon the most infallible foundation imaginable (for “the Spirit beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth,” 1 John v. 6), as ever the most seraphically illuminated person in the world attained unto. Yea, in the very graces themselves of faith and uprightness of heart, there is such a seal and stamp, impressing the image of God upon the soul, as, without any reflex act or actual contemplation of those graces themselves, have an influence into the establishment of the souls of men in whom they are unto a quiet, comfortable, assured repose of themselves upon the love and faithfulness of God. Neither is the spiritual confidence of the saints shaken, much less cast to the ground, by their conflicting with fears, scruples, and doubtful apprehensions, seeing in all these conflicts they have the pledge of the faithfulness of God that they shall be more than conquerors.18 Though they are exercised by them, they are not dejected with them, nor deprived of that comforting assurance and joy which they have in believing. But yet suppose that this be the condition practically of many saints of God, and that they never attain to the state of the primitive Christians, to whose joy and consolation in believing the Holy Ghost so plentifully witnesseth, 1 Pet. i. 8, nor do live up to that full rate of plenty which their Father hath provided for them in his family, and sworn that he is abundantly willing they should enjoy and make use of, Heb. vi. 17, 18, what will hence follow, as to the business in hand, I profess I know not. Must that little evidence which they have of their acceptance with God be therefore necessarily built upon such bottoms, or rather tops, as are visible to them in hypocrites, so that upon their apostasy they must needs not only try and examine themselves, but conclude, to their disadvantage and disconsolation, that they have no true faith? “Credat Apella.”

Secondly, The comfortableness, he tells us, of the testimony of a man’s conscience concerning his uprightness with God “depends mainly and principally upon his uniform and regular walking with God. Now this being, by the neglects of the saints, often interrupted with many stains of unworthiness, the testimony itself must needs be often suspended. Now, true believers finding themselves outgone in ways of obedience by them that impenitently apostatize, if from hence they must conclude them hypocrites, they have no evidence left for the soundness of their own faith, which their consciences bear testimony unto, upon the fruitfulness of it, which is inferior by many degrees to that of them who yet finally fall away.” This is the substance of one long section, pp. 109, 110. But, —

First, Here is the same supposal included as formerly, that the only evidence of a true faith and acceptance with God is the testimony of a man’s conscience concerning his regular and upright walking with God; for an obstruction in this being supposed, his comfort and consolation is thought to vanish. But that the Scripture builds up our assurance on other foundations is evident, and the saints acknowledge it, as hath been before delivered. Nor, —

Secondly, Doth the testimony of a man’s own conscience, as it hath an influence into his consolation, depend solely (nor doth Mr Goodwin affirm it so to do) on the constant regularity of his walking with God. It will also witness what former experience it hath had of God, calling to mind its “songs in the night,” all the tokens and pledges of its Father’s love, all the gracious visits of the holy and blessed Spirit of grace, all the embracements of Christ, all that intimacy and communion it hath formerly been admitted unto, the healing and recovery it hath had of wounds and from backslidings, with all the spiritual intercourse it ever had with God, to confirm and strengthen itself in the beginning of its confidence to the end.19 And, —

Thirdly, In the testimony that it doth give, from its walking with God, and the fruits of righteousness, it is very far and remote from giving it only, or chiefly, or indeed at all, from those ways, works, and fruits, which are exposed to the eyes of men, and which in others they who have that testimony may behold. It resolves itself herein into the frame, principles, and life of the hidden man of the heart, which lies open and naked to the eyes of God, but is lodged in depths not to be fathomed by any of the sons of men.20 There is no comparison to be instituted between the obedience and fruits of righteousness in others, whereby a believer makes a judgment of them, and that in himself from whence the testimony mentioned doth flow; that of other men being their visibly practical conversation, his being the hidden, habitual frame of his heart and spirit in his ways and actings: so that though, through the falling of them, he should be occasioned to question his own faith as to trial and examination, yet nothing can thence arise sufficient to enforce him to let go even that part of his comfort which flows from the weakest witness and one of the lowest voices of all his store: lie eyes others without doors, but himself within.

Fourthly, Whereas 1 John iii. 7, “Little children, let no man deceive you, he that doeth righteousness is righteous,” is produced, and two things argued from thence, — first, that the caveat, “Be not deceived,” plainly intimates that true believers may very possibly be deceived in the estimate of a righteous man; and, secondly, that this is spoken of a man judging himself; and that, emphatically and exclusively, he and he only, is to be judged a righteous man.

Ans. First, I say, that though I grant the first, that we may very easily be, and often are, deceived in our estimate of righteous persons, yet I do not conceive the inference to be enforced from that expression, “Let no man deceive you,” the Holy Ghost using it frequently, or what is equivalent thereunto, not so much to caution men in a dubious thing, wherein possibly they may be mistaken, as in a way of detestation, scorn, and rejection of what is opposite to that which he is urging upon his saints, which he presseth as a thing of the greatest evidence and clearness; as 1 Cor. vi. 9, xv. 33; Gal. vi. 7. Neither is any thing more intended in this expression of the apostle than in that of 1 Cor. vi. 9, “Be not deceived: the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” So here, no person not giving himself up to the pursuit of righteousness in the general drift and scope of his life (cases extraordinary and particular acts being always in such rules excepted) is, or is to be, accounted a righteous man.

Secondly, Also it may be granted (though the intendment of the place leads us another way) that this is so far a rule of self-judging, that he whose frame and disposition suits it not, or is opposite unto it, cannot keep up the power or vigour of any other comfortable evidence of his state and condition; but that it should be so far extended as to make the only solid and pregnant foundation that any man hath of assurance and consolation to rise and flow from the testimony of his own conscience concerning his own regular walking in ways of righteousness (seeing persons that “walk in darkness and have no light” are called to “stay themselves on God,” Isa. i. 10, and when both “heart and flesh faileth,” yet “God is the strength of the heart,” Ps. lxxiii. 26), is no way clear in itself, and is not by Mr Goodwin afforded the least contribution of assistance for its confirmation.

To return, then, from this digression: A temptation and an offence we acknowledge to be given to the saints by the apostasy of professors; yet not such but [that] as the Lord hath in Scripture made gracious provision against their suffering by it or under it, so it leaves them not without sufficient testimony of their own acceptance with God, and sincerity in walking with him. This, then, was the state of old; thus it is in the days wherein we live.

As the practice and ways of some, so the principles and teachings of others, have an eminent tendency unto offence and scandal. Indeed:, ever since the Reformation, there have been some endeavours against this truth to corrode it and corrupt it. The first serious attempt for the total intercision of the faith of true believers, though not a final excision of the faith of elect believers, was made by one in the other university, who, being a man of a debauched and vicious conversation (no small part of the growing evils of the days wherein he lived), did yet cry out against the doctrines of others as tending to looseness and profaneness, upon whose breasts and teachings was written “Holiness to the Lord” all their days.21 Afterward, Arminius and his Quinquarticulan followers22 taking up the matter, though they laboured with all their might to answer sundry of the arguments whereby the truth of this doctrine is demonstrated, yet for a season were very faint mad dubious in their own assertions, not daring to break in at once upon so great a treasure of the church of God;23 and therefore in their Synodalia they are forced to apologize for their hesitation nine years before, in their conference at the Hague. But now of late, since the glorious light of Socinianism hath broken forth from the pit, men by their new succours are grown bold to defy this great truth of the gospel and grace of the covenant, as an abomination for ever to be abhorred.24

“Audax omnia perpeti

Gens humana, ruit per vetitum nefas.”

Hor., Od. i. 3, 25.

In particular, the late studious endeavours of a learned man, in his treatise entitled “Redemption Redeemed,” for to despoil the spouse of Christ of this most glorious pearl, wherewith her beloved hath adorned her, calls for a particular consideration: and this (discharging a regard unto any other motives) upon chiefly this account, that he hath with great pains and travail gathered together whatever hath been formerly given out and dispersed by the most considerable adversaries of this truth (especially not omitting any thing of moment in the synodical defence of the fifth article, with an exact translation of the dramatical prosopopœias, with whatsoever looks towards his design in hand from their fourth attempt about the manner of conversion), giving it anew not only an elegant dress and varnish of rhetorical expressions, but moreover re-enforcing the declining cause of his Pelagian friends with not-to-be-despised supplies of appearing reasons and hidden sophistry, Col. ii. 4. So that though I shall handle this doctrine in my own method (with the reason whereof I shall instantly acquaint the reader), and not follow that author κατὰ πόδας, yet handling not only the main of the doctrine itself, but all the concernments and consequences of it in the several branches of the method intended, I hope not to leave any thing considerable in that whole treatise, as to the truth in hand, undiscussed, no argument unvindicated, no objection unanswered, no consequence unweighed, with a special eye to the comparison instituted between the doctrines in contest, as to their direct and causal influence into the obedience and consolation of the saints.

That we may know, then, what we speak and whereof we do affirm, I shall briefly state the doctrine under consideration, that the difference about it may appear. Indeed, it seems strange to me, among other things, that he of whom mention was lastly made, who hath liberally dispended so great a treasure of pains, reading, and eloquence, for the subverting of the truth whose explanation and defence we have undertaken, did not yet once attempt fairly to fix the state of the difference about it, but, in a very tumultuary manner,25 fell in with prejudices, swelling over all bounds and limits of ordinary reasoning, rhetorical amplifications, upon a doctrine not attempted to be brought forth and explained, that it might be weighed in the balance, as in itself it is. Whereas there may be many reasons of such a proceeding, it may well be questioned whether any of them be candid and commendable. Certainly the advantages thence taken for the improving of many sophistical reasons and pretended arguments are obvious to every one that shall but peruse his ensuing discourse.

Although the substance of this doctrine hath been by sundry delivered, yet, lest the terms wherein it is usually done may seem re, be somewhat too general, and some advantages of the truth, which in itself it hath, to have been omitted, I shall briefly state the whole matter under those terms wherein it is usually received.

The title of it is, “The Perseverance of Saints.” A short discover of whom we mean by “saints,” the subject whereof we speak, and what by “perseverance,” which is affirmed of them, will state the whole for the judgment of the reader. God only is essentially holy, and on that account the only Holy One. In his holiness, as in his being and all his glorious attributes, there is an actual permanency or sameness, Heb. i. 10–12. Nothing in him is subject to the least shadow of change, — not his truth, not his faithfulness, not his holiness. All principles, causes, and reasons of alteration stand at no less infinite distance from him than not-being. His properties are the same with himself, and are spoken of one another, as well as of his nature. His eternal power is mentioned by the apostle, Rom. i. 20. So is his holiness eternal, immutable. Of this we may have use afterward; for the present I treat not of it. The holiness of all creatures is accidental and created. To some it is innate or original; as to the angels, the first man, our Saviour Christ as to his human nature, of whom we treat not. Adam had original holiness, and lost it; so had many angels, who kept not their first habitation. It is hence armoured by Mr Goodwin, that spiritual gifts of God being bestowed may be taken away, notwithstanding the seeming contrary engagement of Rom. xi. 29. From what proportion or analogy this argument doth flow is not intimated. The grace Adam was endowed with was intrusted with himself and in his own keeping, in a covenant of works; that of the saints since the fall is purchased for them, laid up in their Head, and dispensed in a covenant of grace, whose eminent distinction from the former consists in the permanency and abidingness of the fruits of it. But of this afterward. To others it is adventitious and added, as to all that have contracted any qualities contrary to that original holiness wherewith at first they were endued; as have done all the sons of men, “who have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”26 Now, the holiness of these is either complete, as it is with the spirits of just men made perfect; or inchoate and begun only, as with the residue of sanctified ones in this life. The certain perseverance of the former in their present condition being not directly opposed by any, though the foundation of it be attempted by some, we have no need as yet to engage in the defence of it. These latter are said to be sanctified or holy two ways, upon the twofold account of the use of the word in the Scripture; for, —

First, some persons, as well as things, are said to be holy, especially in the Old Testament and in the Epistle to the Hebrews, almost constantly using the terms of sanctifying and sanctified in a legal or temple signification, in reference unto their being separated from the residue of men with relation to God and his worship, or being consecrated and dedicated peculiarly to the performance of any part of his will, or distinct enjoyment of any portion of his mercy.27 Thus the ark was said to be holy, and the altar holy; the temple was holy, and all the utensils of it, with the vestments of its officers. So the whole people of the Jews were said to be holy. The particular respects of covenant, worship, separation, law, mercy, and the like, upon which this denomination of holiness and saintship was given unto them and did depend, are known to all. Yea, persons inherently unclean, and personally notoriously wicked, in respect of their designment to some outward work, which by them God will bring about, are said to be sanctified. Distinguishing gifts, with designation to some distinct employment, are a bottom for this appellation, though their gifts may be recalled, and the employment taken from them, Isa. xiii. 3. We confess perseverance not to be a proper and inseparable adjunct of this subject, nor to belong unto such persons, as such; though they may have a right to it, it is upon another account. Yet, in the pursuit of this business, it will appear that many of our adversaries’ arguments smite these men only, and prove that such as they may be totally rejected of God; which none ever denied.

Again; the word is used in an evangelical sense, for inward purity and real holiness: whence some are said to be holy, and that also two ways; for either they are so really and in the truth of the thing itself, or in estimation only, and that either of themselves or others. That many have accounted themselves to be holy, and been pure in their own eyes, who yet were never washed from their iniquity, and have thereupon cried peace to themselves, I suppose needs no proving. It is the case of thousands in the world at this day. They think themselves holy, they profess themselves holy; and our adversaries prove (none gainsaying) that such as these may backslide from what they have and what they seem to have, and so perish under the sin of apostasy.28 Again, some are said to be holy upon the score of their being so in the esteem of others; which was and is the condition, of many false hypocrites in the churches of Christ, both primitive and modern; — like them who are said to “believe in Christ,” upon the account of the profession they made so to do, yet he would not “trust himself with them, because he knew what was in them.” Such were Judas, Simon Magus, and sundry others, of whom these things are spoken, which they professed of themselves, and were bound to answer; and which others esteemed to be in them. These some labour with all their strength to make true believers, that so they may cast the stumbling-block of their apostasy in the way of the saints of God closing with the truth we have in hand.29 But for such as these we are no advocates; let them go to their “own place,” according to the tenor of the arguments levied against them from Heb. vi. 4–6, 2 Pet. ii. 1, etc., and other places.

Moreover, of those who are said to believe, and to be holy really and in the truth of the thing itself, there are two sorts: First, such as, having received sundry common gifts and graces of the Spirit, — as illumination of the mind, change of affections, and thence amendment of life, with sorrow of the world, legal repentance, temporary faith, and the like, which are all true and real in their kind, — do thereby become vessels in the great house of God, being changed as to their use, though not in their nature, continuing stone and wood still, though hewed and turned to the serviceableness of vessels; and on that account they are frequently termed saints and believers. On such as these there is a lower (and in some a subordinate) work of the Spirit, effectually producing in and on all the faculties of their souls somewhat that is true, good, and useful in itself, answering in some likeness and suitableness of operation unto the great work of regeneration, which faileth not. There is in them light, love, joy, faith, zeal, obedience, etc., all true in their kinds; which make many of them in whom they are do worthily in their generation: howbeit they attain not to the faith of God’s elect, neither doth Christ live in them, nor is the life which they lead by the faith of the Son of God, as shall hereafter be fully declared.30 If ye now cashier these from the roll of those saints and believers about whom we contend, seeing that they are nowhere said to be united to Christ, quickened and justified, partakers of the first resurrection, accepted of God, etc., ye do almost put an issue to the whole controversy, and at once overturn the strongest forts of the opposers of this truth. Some men are truly ready to think that they never had experience of the nature of true faith or holiness, who can suppose it to consist in such like common gifts and graces as are ascribed to this sort of men. Yet, as was said before, if these may not pass for saints, if our adversaries cannot prove these to be true believers, in the strictest notion and sense of that term or expression, actum est, — the very subject about which they contend is taken away; such as these alone are concerned in the arguments from Heb. vi. 4–6; 2 Pet. ii. 1, etc. Yea, all the testimonies which they produce for the supportment of their cause from antiquity flow from hence, that their witnesses thought good to allow persons baptized and professing the gospel the name of believers, and of being regenerate (that is, as to the participation of the outward symbol thereof); whom yet they expressly distinguish from them whose faith was the fruit of their eternal election, which they constantly maintained should never fail.

Of such as these Mr Goodwin tells us, cap. ix. sect. 7, pp. 107, 108, “That if there be any persons under heaven who may, upon sufficient grounds, and justifiable by the word of God, be judged true believers, many of the apostates we speak of were to be judged such. All the visible lineaments of a true faith were in their faces, as far as the eye of man is able to pierce; they lived godly, righteously, and soberly in this present world. Doth any true believer act zealously for his God? — so did they. Is any true believer fruitful in good works? — they were such. Yea, there is found in those we now speak of, not only such things as upon the sight and knowledge whereof in men we ought to judge them true believers,31 but even such things, farther, which we ought to reverence and honour, as lovely and majestic characters of God and holiness. Therefore, it is but too importune a pretence in men to deny them to have been true believers.”

If the proof of the first confident assertion, concerning the grounds of judging such as afterward have apostatized to be true believers, were called into question, I suppose it would prove one instance how much easier it is confidently to affirm any thing than soundly to confirm it. And perhaps it will be found to appear, that in the most, if not all, of those glorious apostates of whom he speaks, if they were thoroughly traced and strictly eyed, even in those things which are exposed to the view of men, for any season or continuance, such warpings and flaws might be discovered, in positives or negatives, as are incompatible with truth or grace.32 But if this be granted, that they have “all the visible lineaments of a true faith in their faces, as far as the eye of man is able to judge, and therefore men were bound to esteem them for true believers,” doth it therefore follow that they were such indeed? This at once instates all secret hypocrites in the ancient and present churches of Christ into a condition of sanctification and justification; which the Lord knows they were and are remote from. Shall the esteem of men translate them from death to life, and really alter the state wherein they are? Whatever honour, then, and esteem we may give to the characters of holiness and faith enstamped, or rather painted on theme — as it is meet for us to judge well of all who, professing the Lord Christ, walk in our view in any measure suitable to that profession, and with Jonadab to honour Jehu in his fits and hasty passions of zeal, — yet this, alas! is no evidence unto them, nor discovery of the thing it, self, that they are in a state of faith and holiness. To say that we may not be bound to judge any to be believers and godly, unless they are so indeed and in the thing itself, is either to exalt poor worms into the throne of God, and to make them “searchers of the hearts and triers of the reins” of others, who are so often in the dark as to themselves, and never in this life sufficiently acquainted with their own inward chambers; or else at once to cut off and destroy all communion of saints, by rendering it impossible for us to attain satisfaction who are so indeed, so far as to walk with them upon that account in “love without dissimulation,” Rom. xii. 9. Doubtless the disciples of Christ were bound to receive them for believers of whom it is said that they did believe, because of their profession so to do, and that with some hazard and danger, though He who “knew what was in man” would not trust himself with them, because the root of the matter was not in them, John ii. 23, 24.

I suppose I shall not need to put myself to the labour to prove or evince the ground of our charitable procedure, in our thoughts of men professing the ways of God, though their hearts are not upright with him. But says Mr Goodwin, “To say that whilst they stood men were indeed bound to judge them believers, but by their declining they discover themselves not to have been the men, is but to beg the question, and that upon very ill terms to obtain it.”

Ans. For my part, I find not in this answer to that objection (“But they had the lineaments of true believers, and therefore we were bound to judge them so”), that this did not at all prove them to be so, any begging of the question, but rather a fair answer given to their importune request, that the “appearance of the face, as far as the eyes of men can pierce,” 1 Sam. xvi. 7, must needs conclude them in the eyes of God to answer that appearance in the inward and hidden man of the heart.

But Mr Goodwin farther pursues his design in hand from the words of our Saviour, Matt. vii. 20, “By their fruits ye shall know them.” “If,” saith he, “this rule be authentical, we do not only stand bound by the law of charity, but by the law of righteous or strict judgment itself, to judge the persons we speak of true believers, whilst they adorn the gospel with such fruits of righteousness as were mentioned; for our Saviour doth not say, ‘By their fruits ye shall have grounds to conceive or conjecture them such or such, or to judge them in charity such or such,’ but, ‘Ye shall know them.’ Now, what a man knows he is not bound to conjecture, or to judge in a way’ of charity to be that which he knoweth it to be, but positively to judge and conclude of it accordingly. If, then, it be possible for men, by any such fruits, works, or expressions, to know true believers, the persons we speak of may be known to have been such.”

Ans. Though the words of our Saviour principally lie on the other side of the way, giving a rule for a condemnatory judgment of men whose evil fruits declare the root to be no better, — wherein we cannot well be deceived, “the works of the flesh being manifest,” Gal. v. 19, and he that worketh wickedness openly, and brings forth the effects of sin visibly in a course, as a tree doth its fruit, Rom. vi. 16, may safely be concluded, whatsoever pretence in words he makes, to be a false, corrupt hypocrite, — yet, by the way of analogy and proportion, it is a rule also whereby our Saviour will have us make a judgment of those professors and teachers with whom we have to do, as to our reception and approbation of them. He bids his disciples taste and try the fruit that such persons bear, and according to that (not any specious pretences they make, or innocent appearances which for a season they show themselves in) let their estimation of them be. Yea, but says Mr Goodwin, “We do not only stand bound by the law of charity, but by the law of a righteous and strict judgment itself, to judge such persons believers.” This distinction between the law of charity and the law of a righteous judgment I understand not. Though charity be the principle exerted eminently in such dijudications of men, yet doubtless it proceeds by the rules of righteous judgment. When we speak of the judgment of charity, we intend not a loose conjecture, much less a judgment contradistinct from that which is righteous, but a righteous and strict judgment, according to the exactest rules whatsoever that we have to judge by, free from evil surmises, and such like vices of the mind as are opposed to the grace of love. By swing it is of charity, we are not absolved from the most exact procedure, according to the rules of judging given unto us, but only bound up from indulging to any envy, malice, or such like works of the flesh, which are opposite to charity in the subject wherein it is. Charity in this assertion denotes only a gracious qualification in the subject, and not any condescension from the rule; and therefore I something wonder that Mr Goodwin should make a judgment of charity (as afterward) a mere conjecture, and allow beyond it a righteous and strict judgment, which amounts to knowledge.

It is true, our Saviour tells us that “by their fruits we shall know them;” but what knowledge is it that he intendeth? Is it a certain knowledge by demonstration of it? or an infallible assurance by revelation? I am confident Mr Goodwin will not say it is either of these, but only such a persuasion as is the result of our thoughts concerning them, upon the profession they make and the works they do; upon which we may (according to the mind of Christ, who bare with them whom he knew to be no believers, having taken on them the profession of the faith) know how to demean ourselves towards them. So far we may know them by their fruits and judge of them; other knowledge our Saviour intendeth not, nor I believe does Mr Goodwin pretend unto. Now, notwithstanding all this, even on this account and by this rule, it is very possible, yea very easy, and practically proved true in all places and at all times, that we may judge, yea, so far know men to be or not to be seducers by their fruits, as to be able to order aright our demeanour towards them, according to the will of Christ, and yet be mistaken (though not in the performance of our duty in walking regularly according to the lines drawn out for our paths) in the persons concerning whom our judgment is; the knowledge of them being neither by demonstration nor from revelation, such as “cui non potest subesse falsum,” we may be deceived.

The saints, then, or believers (of whom alone our discourse is), may be briefly delineated by these few considerable concernments of their saintship:—

1. That whereas “by nature they are children of wrath as well as others,” and “dead in trespasses and sins,” that faith and holiness which they are in due time invested withal, whereby they are made believers and saints, and distinguished from all others whatever, is an effect and fruit of, and flows from, God’s eternal purpose concerning their salvation or election; their faith being, as to the manner of its bestowing, peculiarly of the operation of God, and as to its distinction from every other gift that upon any account whatever is so called, in respect of its fountain, termed “The faith of God’s elect.”33

2. For the manner of their obtaining of this precious faith, it is by God’s giving to them that Holy Spirit of his whereby he raised Jesus from the dead, to raise them from their death in sin, to quicken them unto newness of life, enduing them with a new life, with a spiritual, gracious, supernatural habit, spreading itself upon their whole souls, making them new creatures throughout (in respect of parts), investing them with an abiding principle, being a natural, genuine fountain of all those spiritual acts, works, and duties, which he is pleased to work in them and by them of his own good pleasure.34

3. That the holy and blessed Spirit, which effectually and powerfully works this change in them, is bestowed upon them as a fruit of the purchase and intercession of Jesus Christ, to dwell in them and abide with them for ever: upon the account of which inhabitation of the Spirit of Christ in them they have union with him; that is, one and the same Spirit dwelling in him the head and them the members.35

4. By all which, as to their actual state and condition, they are really changed from death to life,36 from darkness to light,37 from universal, habitual uncleanness to holiness,38 from a state of enmity, stubbornness, rebellion, etc., into a state of love, obedience, delight, etc.;39 and as to their relative condition, whereas they were children of wrath, under the curse and condemning power of the law, they are, upon the score of Him who was made a curse for them, and is made righteousness to them, accepted, justified, adopted, and admitted into that family of heaven and earth which is called after the name of God.40

These alone are they of whom we treat, of whose state and condition perseverance is an inseparable adjunct, Wherein and in what particulars they are differenced from and advanced above the most glorious professors whatever, who are liable and obnoxious to an utter and everlasting separation from God, shall be afterward at large insisted upon; and though Mr Goodwin hath thought good to affirm that that description which we have, Heb. vi. 4–6, of such as ([it] is supposed) may be apostates, is one of the highest and most eminent that is made of believers in the whole Scripture, I shall not doubt but to make it evident that the excellency of all the expressions there used, being extracted and laid together, cloth yet come short of the meanest and lowest thing that is spoken of those concerning whom we treat; as shall be manifest when, through God’s assistance, we arrive unto that part of this contest.

That the other term, to wit, “perseverance,” may be more briefly explicated, I shall take the shortest path. For perseverance in general, he came near the nature of it who said it was “In ratione bene consideratâ stabilis ac perpetua permansio.”41 The words and terms whereby it is expressed in Scripture will afterwards fall in to be considered. The Holy Ghost restrains not himself to any one expression in spiritual things of so great importance, but using that variety which may be suited to the instruction, supportment, and consolation of believers,42 this grace (as is that of faith itself in an eminent manner) is by him variously expressed. To walk in the name of the Lord for ever; to walk with Christ as we have received him; to be confirmed or strengthened in the faith as we have been taught; to keep the ways of God’s commandments to the end; to run steadfastly the race set before us; to rule with God; to be faithful with the saints; to be faithful to the death; to be sound and steadfast in the precepts of God; to abide or continue firm with Christ, in Christ, in the Lord, in the word of Christ, in the doctrine of Christ, in the faith, in the love and favour of God, in what we have learned and received from the beginning; to endure; to persist in the truth; to be rooted in Christ; to retain or keep faith and a good conscience; to hold fast our confidence and faith to the end; to follow God fully; to keep the word of Christ’s patience; to be built upon and in Christ; to keep ourselves that the wicked one touch us not; not to commit sin; to be kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation; to stand fast as mount Zion, that can never be removed; to stand by faith; to stand fast in the faith; to stand fast in the Lord; to have the good work begun, perfected; to hold our profession that none take our crown;43 — these, I say, and the like, are some of those expressions whereby the Holy Ghost holds forth that doctrine which we have in hand, which is usually called “The perseverance of saints,” regarding principally their abiding with God, through Christ, in faith and obedience; which yet is but one part of this truth.

The reasons and causes investing this proposition, that saints, such as we have described, shall so persevere, with a necessity of consequence, and on which the truth of it doth depend, both negatively considered and positively; with the limitation of perseverance, what it directly asserts, what not; with what failing, backsliding, and declensions, on the one hand and other, it is consistent, and what is destructive of the nature and being of it; the difference of it, as to being and apprehension, in respect to the subject in whom it is; with the way and manner whereby the causes of this perseverance have their operation on and effect in them that persevere, not in the least prejudicing their liberty, but establishing them in their voluntary obedience, — will afterward be fully cleared. And hereon depends much of the life and vigour of the doctrine we have in hand, it being oftener in the Scripture held forth in its fountains, and springs, and causes, than in the thing itself, as will upon examination appear.

As to what is on the other side affirmed, that believers may fall totally and finally away, something may be added to clear up what is intended thereby, and to inquire how it may come to pass. We do suppose (which the Scripture abundantly testifieth) that such believers have the Holy Spirit dwelling in them;44 and, by his implanting, a new holy habit of grace.45 The inquiry then is, how believers may come utterly to lose this Holy Spirit, and to be made naked of the habit of grace or new nature bestowed on them. That, and that only, whereunto this effect is ascribed is sin. Now, there are two ways whereby sin may be supposed to produce such effects in reference to the souls of believers:— 1. Efficiently, by a reaction in the same subject, as frequent acts of vice will debilitate and overthrow an acquired habit whereunto it is opposite. 2. Meritoriously, by provoking the Lord to take them away in a way of punishment; for of all punishment sin is the morally procuring cause. Let us a little consider which of these ways it may probably be supposed that sin expels the Spirit and habit of grace from the souls of believers.

First, [As] for the Spirit of grace which dwells in them, it cannot with the least colour of reason be supposed that sin should have a natural efficient reaction against the Spirit, which is a voluntary indweller in the hearts of his: he is indeed grieved and provoked by it,46 but that is in a moral way, in respect of its demerit; but that it should have a natural efficiency by the way of opposition against it, as intemperance against the mediocrity which it opposeth, is a madness to imagine.

The habit of grace wherewith such believers are endued is infused, not acquired by a frequency of acts in themselves. The root is made good, and then the fruit, and the work of God. It is “a new creation,” planted in them by “the exceeding greatness of his power,” as “he wrought in Christ when he raised him from the dead;” which he also “strengthens with all might”47 and all power to the end. Is it now supposed, or can it rationally be so, that vicious acts, acts of sin, should have in the soul a natural efficiency for the expelling of an infused habit, and that implanted upon the soul by the exceeding greatness of the power of God? That it should be done by any one or two acts is impossible. To suppose a man, in whom there is a habit set on by so mighty an impression as the Scripture mentions, to act constantly contrary thereunto, is to think what we will, without troubling ourselves to consider how it may be brought about. Farther; whilst this principle, life, and habit of grace is thus consuming, doth their God and Father look on and suffer it to decay, and their spiritual man to pine away day by day, giving them no new supplies, nor increasing them with the increase of God?48 Hath he no pity towards a dying child? or can he not help him? Doth he, of whom it is said that he is “faithful,” and that he “will not suffer us to be tempted above what we are able, but will with the temptation make a way to escape,” let loose such flood-gates of temptations upon them as he knows his grace will not be able to stand before, but will be consumed and expelled by it? What, also, shall we suppose are the thoughts of Jesus Christ towards a withering member, a dying brother, a perishing child, a wandering sheep?49 Where are his zeal, and his tender mercies, and the sounding of his bowels? Are they restrained? Will he not lay hold of his strength, and stir up his righteousness, to save a poor sinking creature? Also, “He that is in us is greater than he that is in the world;” and will he suffer himself to be wrought out of his habitation, and not stir up his strength to keep possession of the dwelling-place which he had chosen? So that neither in the nature of the thing itself, nor in respect of him with whom we have to do, doth this seem possible. But, —

Secondly, Sin procureth, by the way of merit, the taking away of the Spirit and removal of the habit graciously bestowed. Believers deserve by sin that God should take his Spirit from them, and the grace that he hath bestowed on them: they do so indeed; it cannot be denied. But will the Lord deal so with them? Will he judge his house with such fire and vengeance?50 Is that the way of a father with his children? Until he hath taken away his Spirit and grace, although they are rebellious children, yet they are his children still. And is this the way of a tender father, to cut the throats of his children when it is in his power to mend them? The casting of a wicked man into hell is not a punishment to be compared to this; the loss of God’s presence is the worst of hell. How infinitely must they needs be more sensible of it who have once enjoyed it than those who were strangers to it from the womb! Certainly the Lord bears another testimony concerning his kindness to his sons and daughters than that we should entertain such dismal thoughts of him.51 He chastises his children, indeed, but he doth not kill them; he corrects them with rods, but his kindness he takes not from them. Notwithstanding of the attempt made by the Remonstrants, in their Synodalia, I may say that I have not as yet met with any tolerable extrication of these difficulties. More to this purpose w!ill afterward be insisted on.

That which we intend when we mention “the perseverance of saints,” is their continuance to the end in the condition of saint-ship whereunto they are called. Now, in the state of saintship, there are two things concurring:— 1. That holiness which they receive from God; and, 2. That favour which they have with God, being justified freely by his grace, through the blood of Christ. And their continuance in this condition to the end of their lives, both as to their real holiness and gracious acceptance, is the perseverance whereof we must treat, — the one respecting their real estate, the other their relative; of which more particularly afterward.

And this is a brief delineation of the doctrine which, the Lord assisting, shall be explained, confirmed, and vindicated, in the ensuing discourse; which being first set forth as a mere skeleton, its symmetry and complexion, its beauty and comeliness, its strength and vigour, its excellency and usefulness, will, in the description of the several parts and branches of it, be more fully manifested.

Now, because Mr Goodwin, though he was not pleased to fix any orderly state of the question under debate, — a course he hath also thought good to take in handling those other heads of the doctrine of the gospel wherein he hath chosen to walk (for the main with the Arminians) in paths of difference from the reformed churches, — yet having scattered up and down his treatise what his conceptions are of the doctrine he doth oppose, as also what he asserts in the place and room thereof, and upon what principles, I shall briefly call what he hath so delivered, both on the one hand and on the other, to an account, to make the clearer way for the proof of the truth which indeed we own, and for the discovery of that which is brought forth to contest for acceptance with it upon the score of truth and usefulness.

First, then, for the doctrine of the saints’ perseverance, how it stands stated in Mr Goodwin’s thoughts, and what he would have other men apprehend thereof, may from sundry places in his book, especially chap. ix., be collected, and thus summarily presented. “It is,” saith he, sect. 3, “a promising unto men, and that with height of assurance, under what looseness or vile practices soever, exemption and freedom from punishment.” So sect. 4, “It is in vain to persuade or press men unto the use of such means in any kind which are in themselves displeasing to them, seeing they are ascertained and secured beforehand that they shall not fail of the end however, whether they use such means or no; — a luscious and fulsome conceit (sect. 5), intoxicating the flesh with a persuasion that it hath goods laid up for the days of eternity; a notion comfortable, and betiding peace to the flesh (sect. 15), in administering unto it certain hope that it shall, however, escape the wrath and vengeance which is to come, yea, though it disporteth itself in all manner of looseness and licentiousness in the meantime. A presumption it is that men (sect. 18) may or shall enjoy the love of God, and salvation itself, under practice of all manner of sin and wickedness; representing God (sect. 20) as a God in whose sight he is good that doth evil; promising his love, favour, and acceptance, as well unto dogs returning to their vomit, or to swine wallowing in the mire after their washing” (that is, to apostates, which that believers shall not be is indeed the doctrine he opposeth), “as unto lambs and sheep. A doctrine this whereby it is possible for me certainly to know, that how loosely, how profanely, how debauchedly soever, I should behave myself, yet God will love me, as he doth the holiest and most righteous man under heaven.”

With these and the like expressions doth Mr Goodwin adorn and gild over that doctrine which he hath chosen to oppose; with these garlands and flowers doth he surround the head of the sacrifice which he intends instantly to slay, that so it may fall an undeplored victim, if not seasonably rescued from the hands of this sacred officer. Neither through his whole treatise do I find it delivered in any other sense, or held out under any other notion to his reader. The course here he hath taken in this case, and the paths he walks in towards his adversaries, seems to be no other than that which was traced out by the bishops at Constance, when they caused devils to be painted upon the cap they put on the head of Huss before they cast him into the fire. I do something doubt (though I am not altogether ignorant how abominably the tenets and opinions of those who first opposed the Papacy are represented and given over to posterity, by them whose interest it was to have them thought such as they gave them out to be) whether ever any man that undertook to publish his conceptions to the world about any opinion or parcel of truth debated amongst professors of the gospel of Christ, did ever so dismember, disfigure, defile, wrest, and pervert, that which he opposed, as Mr Goodwin hath done the doctrine of perseverance, which he hath undertaken to destroy, rethinks a man should not be much delighted in casting filth and dung upon his adversary before he begin to grapple with him. In one word, this being the account he gives us of it, if he be able to name one author, ancient or modern, any one sober person of old or of late, that ever spent a penful of ink, or once opened his mouth in the defence of that perseverance of saints, or rather profane walking of dogs and swine, which he hath stated, not in the words and terms, but so much as to the matter or purpose here intimated by him, it shall be accepted as a just defensative against the crime which we are enforced to charge in this particular, and which otherwise will not easily be warded. If this be the doctrine, which, with so great an endeavour, and a contribution of so much pains and rhetoric, he seeks to oppose, I know not any that will think it worth while to interpose in this fierce contest between him and his man of straw. Neither can it with the least colour of truth be pretended that these are consequences which he urgeth the doctrine he opposeth withal, and not his apprehensions of the doctrine itself: for neither doth he in any place in his whole treatise hold it out in any other shape, but is uniform and constant to himself in expressing his notion of it; nor doth he, indeed, almost use any argument against it but those that suppose this to be the true state of the controversy which he hath proposed. But whether this indeed be the doctrine of the perseverance of saints which Mr Goodwin so importunately cries out against, upon a brief consideration of some of the particulars mentioned, will quickly appear.

First, then, doth this doctrine “promise, with height of assurance, that under what looseness or vile practices soever men do live, they shall have exemption from punishment?” Wherein, I pray? — in that it promiseth the saints of God, that through his grace they shall be preserved from such looseness and evil practices as would expose them to eternal punishment?52 Doth it teach men that it is vain to use the means of mortification, because they shall certainly attain the end whether they use the means or no? Or may you not as well say that the doctrine you oppose is, that all men shall be saved whether they believe or no, with those other comfortable and cheering associate doctrines you mention? Or is this a regular emergency of that doctrine which teaches that there is no attaining the end but by the means, between which there is such a concatenation by divine appointment that they shall not be separated? Doth it “speak peace to the flesh, in assurance of a blessed immortality, though it disport itself in all folly in the meantime?” Do the teachers of it express any such thing? doth any such abomination issue from their arguings in the defence thereof? Or doth the doctrine which teaches believers (saints, who have tasted of the love and pardoning mercy of God, and are taught to value it infinitely above all the world) that such is the love and good-will of God towards them, in the covenant of mercy in the blood of Christ, that having appointed good works for them to walk in, for which of themselves they are insufficient, he will graciously continue to them such supplies of his Spirit and grace as that they shall never depart from following after him in ways of gospel obedience,53 — doth this, I say, encourage any of them to continue in sin that this grace may abound? Or are any doctrines of the gospel to be measured by the rules and lines of the use or abuse that the flesh is apt to make of them? or rather by their suitableness to the divine nature, whereof the saints are made partakers, and serviceableness to their carrying on to perfection in that attainment? Or is this an argument of validity against an evangelical truth, that the carnal, unbelieving heart is apt to turn it into wantonness? And whether believers walking after the Spirit,54 — in which frame the truths of God in the gospel are savoury and sweet to them, — do experience such attendancies of the doctrine under consideration as are here intimated, I am persuaded Mr Goodwin will one day find that he hath not a little grieved the Holy Spirit of God by these reproaches cast upon the work of his grace.

Farther; doth this persuasion assure men that “they shall enjoy the love and favour of God under the practices of all manner of sin?” or can this be wrested by any racks or wheels from this assertion, that none indeed enjoy the love and favour of God but only they towards whom it is effectual to turn them from the practices of all manner of sin and wickedness, to translate them from darkness into marvellous light, and from the power of Satan into the kingdom of Jesus Christ; whom the grace that appears unto them teacheth to deny all ungodliness and worldly lusts, and to live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; whom that love constrains not to live unto themselves, but unto him that died for them? Doth it “promise the love and favour of God to dogs returning to their vomit, and swine wallowing in the mire,” when the very discriminating difference of it from that doctrine which advanceth itself into competition with it is, that such returning dogs and wallowing swine did indeed, in their best estate and condition, never truly and properly partake of the love and favour of God, but notwithstanding their disgorging and washing of themselves, they were dogs and swine still? But to what end should I longer insist on these things? I am fully persuaded Mr Goodwin himself cannot make room in his understanding to apprehend that this is indeed the true notion of the doctrine which he doth oppose. Something hath been spoken of it already, and more, the Lord assisting, will be discussed in the progress of our discourse, abundantly sufficient to manifest to the consciences of men not possessed with prejudice against the truth that it is quite of another nature and consistency, of another complexion and usefulness, than what is here represented. I cannot but add, that this way of handling controversies in religion, — namely, in proposing consequences and inferences of our own framing (wire-drawn with violence and subtilty from principles far distant from them, disowned, disavowed, and disclaimed by them on whom they are imposed) as the judgment of our adversaries, and loading them with all manner of reproaches, — is such as (being of all men in the world most walked in by the Arminians) I desire not to be competitor with any in, “Haud defensoribus istis,” etc.

Let us now a little, in the next place, consider what Mr Goodwin gives in for that persuasion which, in opposition to the other, before by him displayed, he contendeth with all his strength to advance. I do not doubt but all that are acquainted with his way of expression (“elato cothurno”) will, as they may reasonably, expect to have it brought forth μετὰ πολλῆς φαντασίας, adorned with all the gallantry and ornaments that words can contribute thereunto; for of them there is with him store to be used on all occasions, Πολὺς νομὸς ἔνθα καὶ ἔνθα.

The sum of the doctrine he is so enamoured of he gives us, chap. ix. sect. 21, p. 115. “Longa est fabula, longæ ambages;” this is “Caput rei.” “It is not any danger of falling away in them that are saints and believers, or probability of it, that he maintains, but only possibility of it; such as there is that sober and careful men may voluntarily throw themselves down from the tops of houses or steeples (though, perhaps, they never come there), or run into the fire or water, and be burned or drowned, having the use of their reason and understanding to preserve them from such unusual and dismal accidents:”55 which seems to be an instance of as remote and infirm a possibility as can likely be imagined. Yea, he tells you farther, sect. 22, “That the saints have as good security of their perseverance as he could have of his life to whom God should grant a lease of it for so long, upon condition that he did not thrust a sword through his bowels, or cast himself headlong down from a tower; so that his doctrine indulgeth to the saints as much assurance as that of perseverance,, but only it grants them not a liberty of sinning:” which, I presume, his own conscience told him that neither the other doth.

But is this indeed Mr Goodwin’s doctrine? is this all that he intends his arguments and proofs shall amount unto? “Ad populum phaleras.” Strange, that when there is not so much as a probability or danger of falling away, yet so many and so eminent saints should so fall! How seldom is it that we hear of wise and sober men running into the fire, throwing themselves headlong from towers, thrusting swords through their own bowels! and nothing more frequent than the apostasy of saints, if these things stood upon equal terms of unlikelihood and improbability! The stony field in the parable seems to be every whit as large as the good ground, whose fruit abideth, Matt. xiii. 20, 21, 23. That ground, in Mr Goodwin’s sense, is true believers, so that a moiety at least must be granted to fall away, and never come to perfection. Doubtless this is not easy to be received, that one half of a company of men in succession should constantly, from one generation to another, fall into ruin in such a way as wherein there is no danger of it, or probability that it should so come to pass. Methinks, we should scarce dare to walk the streets, lest at every step we be struck down by sober men voluntarily tumbling themselves from the tops of houses, and hardly keep ourselves from being wounded with the swords wherewith they run themselves through. Was this indeed the case with David, Solomon, Peter, and others, who totally apostatized from the faith? But if it be so, if they are thus secure, whence is it that it doth arise? what are the fountains, springs, and causes of this general security? Is it from the weakness of the opposition, and slightness of all means of diversion, from walking with God to the end, that they meet withal? or is it from the nature of that faith which they have, and grace wherewith they are endued? or is it that God hath graciously undertaken to safeguard them, and to preserve them in their abiding with him, that they shall not fall away? or is it that Christ intercedeth for them that their faith fail not, but be preserved, and their souls with it, by the power of God, unto the end? or from what other principle doth this security of theirs arise? from what fountain do the streams of their consolation flow? where lie the heads of this Nilus?

That it is upon the first account, I suppose cannot enter into the imagination of any person who ever had the least experience of walking with God, or doth so much as assent to the letter of the Scripture. How are our enemies there described, as to their number, nature, power, policy, subtlety, malice, restlessness, and advantages! with what unimaginable and inexpressible variety of means, temptations, baits, allurements, enticements, terrors, threats, do they fight against us! Such and so many are the enemies that oppose the saints of God in their abiding with him, so great and effectual the means and weapons wherewith they fight against them, so unwearied and watchful are they for the improvement of all advantages and opportunities for their ruin, that upon the supposal of the rejection of those principles and those means of their preservation which we shall find Mr Goodwin to attempt, they will be found to be so far from a state of no danger and little probability of falling, or only under a remote possibility of so doing, that it will appear utterly impossible for them to hold out and abide unto the end. Had the choicest saint of God, with all the grace that he hath received, but one of the many enemies, and that the weakest of all them which oppose every saint of God, even the feeblest, to deal withal, separated from the strength of those principles and supportments which Mr Goodwin seeketh to cast down, let him lie under continual exhortations to watchfulness and close walking with God, he may as easily move mountains with his finger or climb to heaven by a ladder as stand before the strength of that one enemy. Adam in paradise had no lust within to entice him, no world under the curse to seduce him, yet at the first assault of Satan, who then had no part in him, he fell quite out of covenant with God, Ps. xxx. 6, 7.

I shall give one instance, in one of the many enemies that fight against the welfare of our souls; and “ex hoc uno” we may guess at the residue of its companions. This is indwelling sin, whose power and policy, strength and prevalency, nearness and treachery, the Scripture exceedingly sets out, and the saints daily feel I shall only point at some particulars:—

First, Concerning its nearness to us, it is indeed in us; and that not as a thing different from us, but it cleaveth to all the faculties of our souls. It is an enemy born with us,56 bred up with us, carried about in our bosoms, by nature our familiar friend, our guide and counsellor, dear to us as our right eye, useful as our right hand, our wisdom, strength, etc. The apostle, Rom. vii. 17, 20, calleth it the “sin that dwelleth in us.” It hath in us, in the faculties of our souls, its abode and station. It doth not pass by and away, but there it dwells, so as that it never goes from home, is never out of the way when we have any thing to do; whence, verse 21, he calls it the “evil that is present with him.” When we go about any thing that is good, or have opportunity for or temptation unto any thing that is evil, it is never absent, but is ready to pluck us back or to put us on, according as it serves its ends. It is such an inmate that we can never be quit of its company; and so intimate unto us that it puts forth itself in every acting of the mind, will, or any other faculty of the soul. Though men would fain shake it off, yet when they would do good, this evil will be present with them. Then, —

Secondly, Its universality and compass. It is not straitened in a corner of the soul; it is spread over the whole, all the faculties, affections, and passions of it. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; it is all flesh, and nothing but flesh. It is darkness in the understanding, keeping us, at best, that we know but in part, and are still dull and slow of heart to believe. Naturally we are all darkness, nothing but darkness; and though the Lord shine into our mind, to give us in some measure the knowledge of his glory in the face of Jesus Christ, yet we are still very dark, and it is a hard work to bring in a little light upon the soul. Especially this is seen in particular practical things; though in general we have very clear light and eviction, yet when we come to particular acts of obedience, how often doth our light grow dim and fail us, causing us to judge amiss of that which is before us, by the rising of that natural darkness which is in us! It is perverseness, stubbornness, obstinacy in the, will, that carries it with violence to disobedience and sin; it is sensuality upon the affections, bending them to the things of the world, alienating them from God; it is slipperiness in the memory, making us like leaking vessels, so that the things that we hear of the gospel do suddenly slip out, whenas other things abide firm in the cells and chambers thereof; it is senselessness and error in the conscience, staving it off from the performance of that duty which, in the name and authority of God, it is to accomplish: and in all these is daily enticing and seducing the heart to folly, conceiving and bringing forth sin.57

Thirdly, Its power. The apostle calls it “a law, a law in his members, a law of sin,” Rom. vii. 21, 23; such a law as fights, makes war, and leads captive, selling us under sin, not suffering us to do the good we would, forcing us to do the evil we would not, drawing us off from that we delight in, bringing us under bondage to that which we abhor. A powerful, unmerciful, cruel tyrant it is. O wretched men that we are! verse 24. There is no saint of God but in the inward man doth hate sin, every sin, more than hell itself, knowing the world of evils that attend the least sin; yet is there not one of them but this powerful tyrant hath compelled and forced to so many as have made them a burden to their own souls.

Fourthly, Its cunning, craft, and policy. It is called in Scripture “the old man;” not from the weakness of its strength, but from the strength of its craft,. “Take heed,” saith the apostle, “lest any of you be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin,” Heb. iii. 13. There is abundance of deceitfulness in it, being ready, fit, and prompt to beguile; lying in wait for advantages, furnished for all opportunities, and ready to close with every temptation: yea, the ways of it are so large and various, its wiles and methods for deceiving so innumerable, its fruitfulness in conceiving and bringing forth of sin so abundant, its advantages and opportunities so many, that it is like “the way of a serpent upon a rock,” — there is no tracing or finding of it out.

A serious consideration of the opposition made unto our perseverance by this one enemy, which hath so much ability, and is so restless in its warfare, never quiet, conquering nor conquered, which can be kept out of none of our counsels, excluded from none of our actings, is abundantly sufficient to evince that it is not want or weakness of enemies which putteth believers out of danger of falling away.

But all this perhaps will be granted. Enemies they have enough, and those much more diligent and powerful every one of them than all we have spoken of that now described amounteth unto; but the means of preservation which God affords the saints is that which puts them almost out of gun-shot, and gives them that golden security mentioned, which cometh not, in administering consolation, one step behind that which ariseth from the doctrine of absolute perseverance. Let, then, this be a little considered, and perhaps it will allay this whole contest. Is it, then, that such is the grace that is bestowed upon them, in respect of the principle whence it is bestowed (the eternal love of God), and the way whereby it is for them procured (the blood-shedding and intercession of Christ), with the nature of it (being the seed of God, which abideth and withereth not), and that such seems to be the nature of infused habits, that they are net removed but by the power and immediate hand of him by whom they are bestowed? Is it from hence that their assurance and security doth arise? “Alas! all this is but a fiction. There is no faith that is the fruit of election; Christ purchased it not for any by his death; infused habits are not; the grace that perisheth and that that abideth are the same. These things are but pretences.” Is it, then, that God hath purposed from eternity to continue constant in his love towards them, never to leave them nor forsake them? “Nay, but of all things imaginable this is the greatest abomination, which if the Scriptures did anywhere affirm, it were sufficient to make a rational, considering man to question their authority.” What then? Hath the Lord promised to give them such continued supplies of his Spirit and grace in Jesus Christ as that they shall be supported against all opposition, and preserved from all or any such sins as will certainly make a separation between God and their souls? “Nay, there is not one such promise in all the book of God; they are conditional;, for the enjoyment of the good things whereof believers stand all their days upon their good behaviour.” Is it, then, that the Lord Jesus, who is always heard of his Father, intercedes for them that their faith fail not, and that they may be preserved by the power of God unto salvation, and that not only upon condition of their believing, but chiefly that they may be kept and preserved in believing? Or is it that their enemies are so conquered for them and on their behalf, in the death and resurrection of Christ, that they shall never have dominion over them, that their security doth arise? Neither the one nor the other, nor any nor all of these, are the grounds and foundations of their establishment., but they are wholly given up to the powerful hand of some considerations, which Mr Goodwin expresseth and setteth out to the life, chap. ix. sect. 32–34, pp. 174, 175.

Now, because the Remonstrants58 have always told us that God hath provided sufficiently for the perseverance of the saints, if they be not supinely wanting to themselves in the use of them, but have not hitherto, either jointly or severally, that I know of, taken the pains to discover in particular wherein that sufficiency of provision for their safety doth consist, or what the means are that God affords them to this end and purpose, Mr Goodwin, who is a learned master of all their counsels, having exactly and fully laid them forth as a solid foundation of his assertion concerning only a remote possibility of the saints’ total defection, let it not seem tedious or impertinent if I transcribe, for the clearer debate of it before the reader, that whole discourse of his, and consider it in order as it lies.

“If,” saith he, “it be demanded what are the means which God hath given so abundantly to the saints, to make themselves so free, so strong in inclinations to avoid things so apparently destructive to the spiritual peace and salvation of their souls, as naturally men are to forbear all such occasions which are apparently destructive to their natural lives, so that they need not to be any whit more afraid of losing their souls through their own actings than men are, or need to be, of destroying their natural lives upon the same terms? I answer, —

“First, He hath given them eyes wherewith, and light whereby, clearly and evidently to see and know that it is not more rational or man-like for men to refrain all such acts which they know they cannot perform but to the present and unavoidable destruction of their natural lives, than it is to forbear all sinful acts whatsoever, and especially such which are apparently destructive to their souls.

“Secondly, God hath not only given them the eyes and the light we speak of, wherewith and whereby clearly to see and understand the things manifested, but hath farther endued them with a faculty of consideration, wherewith to reflect upon, and review, and ponder, so oft as they please, what they see, understand, and know in this kind. Now, whatsoever a man is capable, first, of seeing and knowing, secondly, of pondering and considering, he is capable of raising or working an inclination in himself towards it, answerable in strength, vigour, and power, to any degree of goodness or desirableness which he is able to apprehend therein; for what is an inclination towards any thing but a propension and laying out of the heart and soul towards it? So that if there be worth and goodness sufficient in any object whatsoever to bear it; and, secondly, if a man be in a capacity of discovering and apprehending this good clearly; and, thirdly, be in a like capacity of considering this vision, — certainly he is in a capacity and at liberty to work himself to what strength or degree of desire and inclination towards it he pleaseth. Now, it is certain to every man that there is more good in abstaining from things either eminently dangerous or apparently destructive to his soul, than in forbearing things apparently destructive to his natural being. Secondly, As evident it is that every man is more capable of attaining or coming to the certain knowledge and clear apprehending of this excess of good to him in the former good than in the latter. Thirdly, Neither is it a thing less evident than either of the former, that every man is as capable of ruminating or re-apprehending the said excess of good as much and as oft as he pleaseth, as he is simply of apprehending it at all. Which supposed as undeniably true, it follows with a high hand, and above all contradiction, that the saints may (and have means and opportunities fair and full for that purpose) plant inclinations or dispositions in themselves to refrain all manner of sins apparently dangerous and destructive to the safety of their souls, fuller of energy, vigour, life, strength, power, than the natural inclination in them which teacheth them to refrain all occasions which they know must needs be accompanied with the destruction of their natural beings. Therefore, if they be more, or so much, afraid of destroying their lives voluntarily and knowingly (as by casting themselves into the fire or the water, or the like) than they are of falling away through sin, the fault or reason thereof is not at all in the doctrine, which affirms or informs them that there is a possibility that they fall away, but in themselves and their own voluntary negligence. They have means and opportunities (as we have proved) in abundance to render themselves every whit as secure, yea, and more secure, touching the latter, as they are or reasonably can be concerning the former.”

Ans. When I first cast an eye on this discourse of Mr Goodwin, I confess I was surprised to as high a degree of admiration, and some other affections also, as by any thing I had observed in his whole book; as having not met (if without offence I may be allowed to speak my apprehensions) with any discourse whatsoever of so transcendent a derogation from, and direct tendency to the overthrow of, the grace of Christ, but only in what is remembered, by Austin, Hilary, Fulgentius, with some others, of the disputes of Pelagius, Cœlestius, Julianus, with their followers, and the Socinians of late, with whom Mr Goodwin would not be thought to have joined in their opposition to the merit and grace of Christ. As I said, then, before, if this should prove in the issue to be the sum of the means afforded to preserve the saints from apostasy and falling away into ruin, I shall be so far from opposing a possibility of their defection that I shall certainly conclude their perseverance to be impossible, being fully persuaded that, with all the contribution of strength which the considerations mentioned are able of themselves to afford unto them, they are no more able to meet their adversaries, who come against them with twenty thousand subtleties and temptations, than a man with a straw and a feather is to combat with and overcome a royal army. The Scripture tells us, and we thought it had been so, that we “are kept by the power of God unto salvation;” and that to this end he puts forth “the exceeding greatness of his power in them that believe, according to the working of his mighty power, which he wrought in Christ when he raised him from the dead;” whereby he “strengthens them with all might, according to his glorious power,” “making them meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light.”59 It seems, though there be a glorious sound of words in these and innumerable the like expressions of the engagement of the power and faithfulness of God for the safeguarding of his saints, yet all this is but an empty noise and beating of the air; that which is indeed material to this purpose consisting in “certain considerations which rational men may have concerning their present state and future condition.” But let us a little consider the discourse itself.

First, It is all along magnificently supposed that there is the same power and ability in a rational, enlightened man to deliberate and conclude of things in reference unto the practical condition of his spiritual estate as there is of his natural, and that this ability is constantly resident with him, to make use of upon all occasions, whatever our Saviour say to the contrary, — namely, that “without him we can do nothing,” John xv. 5.

Secondly (to make way for that), That such an one is able to know and to desire the things of his peace in a spiritual and useful manner, notwithstanding the vanity of those many seemingly fervent prayers of the saints in the Scripture, that God would give them understanding in these things, and his manifold promises of that grace.60

Thirdly, That upon such deliberation, men are put into a capacity and liberty, or are enabled, to work themselves to what strength or degree of desire and inclination towards that good considered they please; and according as the good is that men apprehend (as abiding with God is the greatest good), such will be the strength and the vigour and power of their inclination thereto. That they have a law in their members rebelling against the law of their minds, and leading them captive under the law of sin, needs not to be taken notice of. This sufficiency, it seems, is of themselves. He was a weak, unskilful man who supposed that of ourselves we could not think a good thought, seeing we are such perfect lords and masters of all good thoughts and actings whatsoever.61

Fourthly, The whole sum of this discourse of the means afforded believers to enable them to persevere amounts to this, that being rational men, they may, first, consider that some kinds of sins will destroy them and separate them from God, and that by obedience they shall come to the greatest good imaginable; whereupon it is in their power so strongly to incline their hearts unto obedience that they shall be in no more danger of departing from God than a wise and rational man is of killing or wilfully destroying himself; the, first part whereof may be performed by them who are no saints, the latter not by any saint whatsoever.

And is not this noble provision for the security and assurance of the saints enough to make them cast away with speed all their interest in the unchangeable purposes and gracious and faithful promises of God, intercession of Christ, sealing of the Spirit, and all those sandy and trivial supports of their faith which hitherto they have rejoiced in? And whatever experience they have, or testimony from the word they do receive, of the darkness and weakness of their minds, the stubbornness of their wills, with the strong inclinations that are in them to sin and falling away, — whatever be the oppositions from above them, about them, within them, on the right hand and on the left, that they have to wrestle withal,62 — let them give up themselves to the hand of their own manlike considerations and weighing of things, which will secure them against all danger or probability of falling away; for if they be but capable, first, of seeing and knowing, secondly, of pondering and considering, and that rationally (it matters not whether these things are fruits of the Spirit of grace or no, nay, it is clear they must not be so), that such and such evil is to be avoided, and that there is so and so great a good to be obtained by continuing in obedience, they may raise and work inclinations in themselves, answerable, in strength, vigour, and power, to any degree of goodness which they apprehend in what they see and ponder.

The whole of the “ample sufficient means” afforded by God to the saints to enable them to persevere branching itself into these two heads, — first, The rational considering what they have to do; secondly, Their vigorous inclination of their hearts to act suitably and answerably to their considerations, — I shall, in a word, consider them apart.

First, The considerations mentioned, of evil to be avoided and good to be attained (I mean that which may put men upon creating those strong inclinations: for such considerations may be without any such consequence, as in her that cried, “Video meliora proboque, deteriora sequor”), are either issues and products of men’s own natural faculties, and deduced out of the power of them, so that as men they may put themselves upon them at any time; or they are fruits of the Spirit of his grace, who “worketh in us both to will and to do of his good pleasure.”63 If they be the latter, I ask, seeing all grace is of promise, whether hath God promised to give and continue this grace of self-consideration unto believers or no? If he hath, whether absolutely or conditionally? If absolutely, then he hath promised absolutely to continue some grace in them; which is all we desire. If conditionally, then would I know what that condition is on which God hath promised that believers shall so consider the things mentioned. And of the condition which shall be expressed, it may farther be inquired whether it be any grace of God, or only a mere act of the rational creature as such, without any immediate in-working of the will and deed by God? Whatsoever is answered, the question will not go to rest until it be granted that either it is a grace absolutely promised of God, which is all we desire, or a pure act of the creature contradistinct thereunto, which answers the first inquiry. Let it, then, be granted that the considerations intimated are no other but such as a rational man who is enlightened to an assent to the truth of God may so exert and exercise as he pleaseth; then is there a foundation laid of all the ground of perseverance that is allowed the saints in their own endeavours, as men without the assistance of any grace of God. Now, these considerations, be they what they will, must needs be beneath one single good thought, for as for that we have no sufficiency of ourselves; yea, vanity and nothing, for without Christ we can do nothing; yea, evil and displeasing to God, as are all the thoughts and imaginations of our hearts that are only such.64 I had supposed that no man in the least acquainted with what it is to serve God under temptations, and what the work of saving souls is, but had been sufficiently convinced of the utter insufficiency of such rational considerations, flowing only from conviction, to be a solid foundation of abiding with God unto the end. If men’s houses of profession are built on such sands as these, we need not wonder to see them so frequently falling to the ground.

Secondly, Suppose these considerations to act their part upon the stage raised for them, to the greatest applause that can be expected or desired, yet that which comes next upon the theatre will, I fear, foully miscarry, and spoil the whole plot of the play, — that is, “men’s vigorous inclination of their hearts to the good things pondered on to what height they please;” for besides that, —

First, It is liable to the same examination that passed upon its associates before, or an inquiry from whence he comes, whether from heaven or men; upon which I doubt not but he may easily be discovered to be “a vagabond upon the earth,” to have no pass from heaven, and so be rendered liable to the law of God.

Secondly, It would be inquired whether it hath a consistency with the whole design of the apostle, Rom. vii. And therefore, —

Thirdly, It is utterly denied that men, the best of men, have in themselves and of themselves, arising upon the account of any considerations whatsoever, a power, ability, or strength, vigorously or at all acceptably to God, to incline their hearts to the performance of any thing that is spiritually good, or in a gospel tendency to walking with God. All the promises of God, all the prayers of the saints, all their experience, the whole design of God in laying up all our stores of strength and grace in Christ, jointly cry out against it for a counterfeit pretence. In a word, that men are able to plant in themselves inclinations and dispositions to refrain all manner of sin destructive to the safety of their souls, fuller of energy, vigour, life, strength, power, than those that are in them to avoid things apparently tending to the destruction of their natural lives, is an assertion as full of energy, strength, and vigour, life, and poison, for the destruction and eversion of the grace of God in Christ, as any which can be invented.

To shut up this discourse and to proceed: If these are the solid foundations of peace and consolation which the saints have concerning their perseverance; if these be the means “sufficient,” “abundantly sufficient,” afforded them for their preservation, that are laid in the balance, as to the giving of an evangelical, genuine assurance, with the decrees and purposes, the covenant, promises, and oath of God, the blood and intercession of Christ, the anointing and sealing of the Spirit of grace, — I suppose we need not care how soon we enter the lists with any as to the comparing of the doctrines under contest, in reference to their influence into the obedience and consolation of the saints; which with its issue, in the close of this discourse, shall, God willing, be put to the trial.

Now, that I may lay a more clear foundation for what doth ensue, I shall briefly deduce not only the doctrine itself, but also the method wherein I shall handle it, from a portion of Scripture, in which the whole is summarily comprised, and branched forth into suitable heads, for the confirmation and vindication thereof. And this also is required to the main of my design, it being not so directly to convince stout gainsayers, in vanquishing their objections, as to strengthen weak believers, in helping them against temptations; and therefore I shall at the entrance hold out that whereinto their faith must be ultimately resolved, — the authority of God in his word being that ark alone whereon it can rest the sole of its foot. Now, this is the fourth chapter of Isaiah, of which take this short account: It is a chapter made up of gracious promises, given to the church in a calamitous season; the season itself is described, verses 25 and 26 of the third chapter, and the first of this, — all holding out a distressed estate, a low condition. It is, indeed, God’s method, to make out gracious promises to his people when their condition seems most deplorable, — to sweeten their souls with a sense of his love in the multitude of the perplexing thoughts which in distracted times are ready to tumultuate in them.

The foundation of all the following promises lies in the second verse, even the giving out of the “Branch of the Lord” and the “Fruit of the earth” for beauty and glory to the remnant of Israel. Who it is who is the “Branch of the Lord “the Scripture tells us in sundry places, Isa. xi. 1; Jer. xxiii. 5, xxxiii. 15; Zech. iii. 8. The Lord Jesus Christ, the promise of whom is the church’s only supportment in every trial or distress it hath to undergo, he is this branch and fruit; and he is placed in the head here as the great fountain-mercy, from whence all others do flow. In those that follow, the persons to whom those promises are made, and the matter or substance of them, are observable. The persons have various appellations and descriptions in this chapter. They are called (first) “The escaping of Israel,” verse 2; “They that are left in Zion,” verse 3; “Jerusalem” itself, verse 4; “The dwelling-places and assemblies of mount Zion,” verse 5. That the same individual persons are intended in all these several appellations is not questionable. It is but in reference to the several acts of God’s dwelling with them, and outgoings of his love and good-will, both eternal and temporal, towards them, that they come, under this variety of names and descriptions. First, In respect of his eternal designation of them to life and salvation, they are said to be “Written among the living,” or unto life “in Jerusalem;” their names are in the Lamb’s book of life from the foundation of the, world,65 and they are recorded in the purpose of God from all eternity. Secondly, In respect of their deliverance and actual redemption from the bondage of death and Satan, which for ever prevail upon the greatest number of the sons of men, shadowed out by their deliverance from the Babylonish captivity (pointed at in this place), they are said to be “A remnant, an escaping, such as are left and remain in Jerusalem.”66 From the perishing lump of mankind God doth by Christ snatch a remnant (whom he will preserve), like a brand out of the fire. Thirdly, In respect of their enjoyment of God’s ordinances and word, and his presence with them therein, they are called “The daughter of Zion,” and “The dwelling-places thereof.”67 There did God make known his mind and will, and walked with his people in the beauties of holiness: these are they to whom these promises are made, the elect, redeemed, and called of God; or those who, being elected and redeemed, shall in their several generations be called, according to his purpose who worketh all things according to the counsel of his own will.

For the matter of these promises, they may be reduced to these three heads:— first, Of justification, verse 2; secondly, Of sanctification, verses 3, 4; thirdly, Of perseverance, verses 5, 6. First, Of justification, Christ is made to them, or given unto them, for beauty and glory; which how it is done the Holy Ghost tells us: Isa. lxi. 10, “I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness,” saith the church. He puts upon poor deformed creatures the glorious robe of his own righteousness, to make us comely in his presence and the presence of his Father, Zech. iii. 3, 4. Through him, his being given unto us, “made unto us of God righteousness,” becoming “the Lord our righteousness,”68 do we find free acceptation, as beautiful and glorious, in the eyes of God. But this is not all. He doth not only adorn us without, but also wash us within. The apostle acquaints us that that was his design, Eph. v. 25–27; and therefore you have, secondly, the promise of sanctification added, verses 3, 4. Verse 3, you have the thing itself: they “shall be called holy,” made so, — called so by him who “calleth things that are not as though they were,” and by that call gives them to be that which he calls them. He said, “Let there be light; and there was light,” Gen. i. 3. And then the manner how it becomes to be so, verse 4; first, setting out the efficient cause, “the Spirit of judgment, and the Spirit of burning,” — that is, of holiness and light; and, secondly, the way of his producing this great effect, “washing away filth and purging away blood.” Spiritual filth and blood is the defilement of sin; the Scripture, to set out its abomination, comparing it to the things of the greatest abhorrency to our nature, even as that is to the nature of God.69 And this is the second promise that in and by the “Branch of the Lord” is here made to them “who are written unto life in Jerusalem.” But now, lest any should suppose that both these are for a season only, that they are dying privileges, perishing mercies, jewels that may be lost, so that though the persons to whom these promises are made are once made glorious and comely, being in Christ freely accepted, yet they may again become odious in the sight of God and be utterly rejected, — that being once washed, purged, cleansed, they should yet return to wallow in the mire, and so become wholly defiled and abominable, — in the third place he gives a promise of perseverance, in the last two verses, and that expressed with allusion to the protection afforded unto the people of the Jews in the wilderness by a cloud and pillar of fire; which as they were created and instituted signs of the presence of God, so they gave assured protection, preservation, and direction, to the people in all their ways. The sum of the whole intendment of the Holy Ghost in these two verses seeming to be comprised in the last words of the fifth, and they being a suitable bottom unto the ensuing discourse, comprising, as they stand, in relation to the verses foregoing, the whole of my aim, with the way or method wherein it may conveniently be delivered, I shall a little insist upon them: “Upon all the glory shall be a defence.”

The words are a gospel promise expressed in law terms, or a new testament mercy in old testament clothes: the subject of it is “All the glory;” and the thing promised is “A defence over it,” or upon it. By “The glory,” some take the people themselves to be intended, who are the glory of God, Isa. xlvi. 13, in whom he will be glorified, and who are said to be made glorious, chap. iv. 2. But the pillar of fire and the cloud lead us another way. As the protection here promised must answer the protection given by them of old, so the glory here mentioned must answer that which was the glory of that people, when they had their preservation and direction from these signs of the presence of God in the midst of them. It is very true, the sign of God’s presence among them itself, and the protection received thereby, is sometimes called his “glory,” Ezek. x. 4, 18; but here it is plainly differenced from it, that being afterward called a “defence.” That which most frequently was called the “glory” in the ancient dispensation of God to his people was the ark. When this was taken by the Philistines, the wife of Phinehas calls her son I-chabod, and says, “The glory is departed from Israel,” 1 Sam. iv. 21, 22; which the Holy Ghost mentions again, Ps. lxxviii. 61, “And delivered his strength into captivity, and his glory into the enemy’s hand.” The tabernacle, or the tent wherein it was placed, is mentioned, verse 60, “He forsook the tabernacle of Shiloh, the tent which he placed among them;” and the people to whom it was given, verse 62, “He gave his people over also unto the sword;” — that ark being the glory and strength which went into captivity when he forsook the tabernacle, and gave his people to the sword. That this ark, the “glory” of old, was a type of Jesus Christ (besides the end and aim of its institution, with its use and place of its abode), appears from the mercy-seat or plate of gold that was laid upon it; which Jesus Christ is expressly said to be, Rom. iii. 25, 26, compared with Heb. ix. 5. It is he who is the “glory” here mentioned, not considered absolutely and in his own person, but as he is made “beauty and glory” unto his people, as he is made unto them righteousness and holiness, according to the tenor of the promises insisted on before. And this is indeed all the glory of the elect of God,70 even the presence of Christ with them, as their justification and sanctification, their righteousness and holiness.

The matter of the promise made in reference to this “glory” and them upon whom it doth abide is, that there “shall be a defence upon it.” The word translated here “A defence” comes from a root that is but once read in Scripture, Deut. xxxiii. 12, where it is rendered to cover: “The Lord shall cover him all the day long.” So it properly signifies. From a covering to a protection or a defence is an easy metaphor, a covering being given for that end and purpose. And this is the native signification of the word “protego,” “to defend by covering;” as Abimelech called Abraham “the covering of Sarah’s eyes,” or a protection to her, Gen. xx. 16. The allusion also of a shade, which in Scripture is so often taken for a defence,71 ariseth from hence. This word itself is used twice more, and in both places signifies a bride-chamber, Ps. xix. 5, Joel ii. 16, from the peace, covert, and protection of such a place. The name of the mercy-seat is also of the same root with this. In this place it is, by common consent, rendered “A defence” or protection, being so used either by allusion to that refreshment that the Lord Christ, the great bridegroom, gives to his bride in his banqueting-house,72 or rather in pursuit of the former similitude of the cloud that was over the tabernacle and the ark, which represented the glory of that people. Thus, this “defence” or covering is said to be “upon” or above the “glory,” as the cloud was over the tabernacle, and as the mercy-seat lay upon the ark. Add only this much to what hath been spoken (which is also affirmed in the beginning of the verse), namely, that this defence is “created,” or is an immediate product of the mighty power of God, not requiring unto it the least concurrence of creature power, and the whole will manifest the intendment of the Lord everlastingly to safeguard the spiritual glories of his saints in Christ.

As was before shown, there are two parts of our spiritual glory, the one purely extrinsical, to wit, the love and favour of God unto us, his free and gracious acceptation of us in Christ. On this part of our glory there is this defence created, that it shall abide for ever, it shall never be removed. His own glory and excellencies are engaged for the preservation of this excellency and glory of his people. This sun, though it may be for a while eclipsed, yet shall never set, nor give place to an evening that shall make long the shade thereof; whom God once freely accepts in Christ, he will never turn away his love from them, nor cast them utterly out of his favour. The other is within us, and that is our sanctification, our portion from God by the Spirit of holiness, and the fruits thereof, in our faith, love, and obedience unto him. And on this part of our glory there is this defence, that this Spirit shall never utterly be dislodged from that soul wherein he makes his residence, nor resign his habitation to the spirit of the world, — that his fruit shall never so decay as that the fruits of Sodom and the grapes of Gomorrah should grow in their room, nor they wherein they are everlastingly, utterly, and wickedly, grow barren in departing from the living God. These two make up their perseverance whereof we speak. Whom God accepts in Christ, he will continue to do so for ever; whom he quickens to walk with him, they shall do it to the end. And these three things, acceptance with God, holiness from God, and a defence upon them both unto the end, all free and in Christ, are that threefold cord of the covenant of grace which cannot be broken.

In the handling, then, of the doctrine proposed unto consideration, I shall, the Lord assisting, show, —

First, That the love and favour of God, as to the free acceptation of believers with him in Christ, is constant, abiding, and shall never be turned away; handling at large the principles both of its being and manifestation.

Secondly, That the Spirit and grace of sanctification, which they freely receive from him, shall never utterly be extinguished in them, but so remain as that they shall abide with him for ever; the sophistical separation of which two parts of our doctrine is the greatest advantage our adversaries have against the whole. And [I shall] demonstrate, —

Thirdly, The real and causal influences which this truth hath into the obedience and consolation of the saints, considered both absolutely, and compared with the doctrine which is set up in competition with it.

In the pursuit of which particulars I shall endeavour to enforce and press those places of Scripture wherein they are abundantly delivered, and vindicate them from all the exceptions put in to our inferences from them by Mr Goodwin in his “Redemption Redeemed;” as also answer all the arguments which he hath, with much labour and industry, collected and improved in opposition to the truth in hand. Take, then, only these few previous observations, and I shall insist fully upon the proof and demonstration of the first position, concerning the unchangeableness of the love of God towards his, to whom he gives Jesus Christ for beauty and glory, and freely accepts them in him:—

First, As to their inherent holiness, the question is not concerning acts, either as to their vigour, which may be abated, or as to their frequency, which may be interrupted; but only as to the spirit and habit of it, which shall never depart. We do not say they cannot sin, fall into many sins, great sins, which the Scripture plainly affirms of all the saints that went before, (and who of them living doth not this day labour under the truth of it?) but through the presence of God with them, upon such grounds and principles as shall afterward be insisted on, they cannot, shall not, sin away the Spirit and habit of grace (which without a miracle cannot be done away by any one act, and God will not work miracles for the destruction of his children), so as to fall into that state wherein they were before they were regenerated, and of the children of God become children of the devil, tasting of the second death after they have been made partakers of the first resurrection, Rev. xx. 6.73

Secondly, The question is not about the decay of any grace, but the loss of all, not about sickness and weakness, but about death itself; which alone we say they shall be preserved from. Neither do we say that believers are endowed with any such rich and plentiful stock of grace as that they may spend upon it without new supplies all their days; but grant that they stand in continual need of the renewed communication of that grace which hath its abode and residence in their souls, and of that actual assistance whereby any thing that is truly and spiritually good is wrought in them.74

Thirdly, Whereas there is a twofold impossibility, — first, that which is absolutely and simply so in its own nature, and, secondly, that which is so only upon some supposition, — we say the total falling away of the saints is impossible only in this latter sense, the unchangeable decree and purpose of God, his faithful promises and oath, the mediation of the Lord Jesus, being in the assertion supposed. And, —

Fourthly, whereas we affirm they shall assuredly continue unto the end, the certainty and assurance intimated is not mentis but entis, not subjective but objective, not always in the person persevering, but always relating to the thing itself.75

Fifthly, That the three things formerly mentioned, acceptance with God, holiness from God, and the defence upon them both unto the end, are that threefold cord of the covenant which cannot be broken. This will appear by comparing these two eminent places together, which afterward must more fully be insisted on, Jer. xxxi. 33, 34, xxxii. 38–40. In general, God undertakes to be “their God,” and that they shall be “his people,” chap. xxxi. 33, xxxii. 38. And this he manifests in three things:— First, That he will accept them freely, give them to find great favour before him, in the forgiveness of their sins; for which alone he hath any quarrel with them: “I will,” saith he, “forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin no more,” Jer. xxxi. 34; as it is again repeated Heb. viii. 12. Secondly, That they shall have sanctification and holiness from him: “I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts,” Jer. xxxi. 33; “I will put my fear in their hearts,” chap. xxxii. 40; which Ezekiel, chap. xxxvi. 27 calls the “putting his Spirit in them,” who is the author of that grace and holiness which he doth bestow. Thirdly, That in both these there shall be a continuance for ever: Jer. xxxii. 40, “I will not turn away from them to do them good, but I will put my fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from me;” or, as verse 39, “They shall fear me for ever;” which distinguisheth this covenant from the former made with their fathers, in that that was broken, which this shall never be, chap. xxxi. 32. This is the crowning mercy, that renders both the others glorious:— as to acceptation, he will not depart from us; as to sanctification, we shall not depart from him.

8  Jude 1; 2 Cor. xiii. 8; Isa. iv. 5, 6; Jer. xxxi. 31–34, xxxii. 39, 40; Isa. lix. 21; Heb. viii. 10–12; 1 Cor. i. 9; Phil. i. 6; Rom. viii. 32–35.
9    Pelag. Armin. Socin. Papist. Thomson de Intercis. Justif. Diatrib. Bertius Apost. Sanct. Remonst. Coll. Hag. Scripta Synod.
10   Gen. xvii. 1; Ps. xxiii. 6; Phil. ii. 12, 13; Heb. x. 19–22; 2 Cor. vii. 1; 2 Pet. i. 3–7, etc.
11    Rev. xii. 4; Jude 12; Matt. vii. 26, 27; 2 Thess. ii. 3; 2 Pet. ii. 20–22; 2 Tim. iv. 10, 1 John ii. 19; Heb. vi. 4–6.
12    Rom. xi. 20; 1 Cor. x. 12, xi. 28; 2 Cor. xiii. 5; Rev. ii. 24, 26; Isa. xlv. 22; Mal. iii. 6; 2 Pet. iii. 17; Heb. iii. 12; Hab. iii. 17, 18.
13    Rom. viii. 28; Ps. xxx. 6, 7; Isa. viii. 17, liv. 7–10; 1 Pet. i. 7; 1 Cor. iii. 13; 1 Pet. iv. 12; 2 Cor. vii. 5; 2 Thess. i. 11; Heb. xii. 25, 28, 29; Isa. lvii. 15, lxvi. 2; James iv. 6; 1 Pet. v. 5; Matt. vii. 24, 25; Amos ix. 9; Luke xxii. 31; Eph. vi. 10–18, iv. 14; Isa. xlix. 14–16, lxiii. 9; Acts ix. 5; Ps. ciii. 13; 1 Pet. i. 7; Rom. viii. 38, 39.
14    1 John v. 7, 8, ii. 20, 27; 2 Cor. i. 21, 22, v. 5; Eph. i. 13, 14, iv. 30; Rom. viii. 16, 1 John iii. 14.
15    “Vere fidelis uti pro tempore præsenti de fidei et conscientiæ suæ integritate certus esse potest, ita et de salute sua et de salutifera Dei erga ipsum benevolentia pro illo tempore certus esse potest et debet.” — Act. Synod. p. 182, Dec. Sent. thes. 7.
16    1 Cor. i. 26; James ii. 5.
17    Rom. viii. 16; 1 John v. 10.
18    Matt. vii. 25, xvi. 18; Ps. lxxvii. 10; 1 Cor. i. 9; 1 Thess. v. 23, 24; 1 Cor. x. 13; Rom. viii. 37.
19    Job xxxv. 10; Ps. lxxvii. 5–9; Isa. xl. 28–31; Cant. iii. 1, 2, v. 4, 5; Ps. xlii. 6–11; Hos. ii. 7, xiv. 2, 8; Heb. iii. 14.
20    Isa. xxxviii. 3; Ps. cxxxix. 23, 24; Rev. iii. 1; 1 Pet. iii. 4; 2 Cor. i. 12.
21    Owen seems to allude to the case of William Barrett, fellow of Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge. He denied the perseverance of the saints, and assailed Calvin, Beza, and other reformers, with bitter invectives. He was expelled from the university in 1595. — Ed.
22    Armin. Antiperk. Rem. Coll. Hag. art. 5.
23    “Nos cum mentem nostram super hoc argumento categoricè et dogmaticè in alteram partem definivimus, nullo jure levitatis insimulari posse, propterea quod novem ab hinc annis, eam non ira disertè et rotundè enuncia verimus, sed solummodo disquirentium adhuc in morem professi simus.” — Dec. Sent. Rem. circa 5 art.
24    Socin. Prælect. Theol. cap. 6 art. 7, etc.
25    Chap. ix.
26    Isa. vi. 3; Josh. xxiv. 19; Rev. xv. 4; Exod. iii. 14; Deut. xxxii. 4; Isa. xl. 28, xli. 4, xliii. 10, xliv. 6, xlviii. 12; Rev. i. 4, 17; Mal. iii. 6; James i. 17; 1 Sam. xv. 29; Gen. i. 26; Matt. xix. 17; Eccles. vii. 29; Heb. vii. 25; Ezek. xxxvi. 26, 27; Isa. iv. 3, 4; Rom. vi. 4–6; Eph. iv. 22–24.
27    Exod. xxviii. 36, 38; Lev. v. 15; Ezek. xxii. 8; Heb. ii. 11, x. 10; John xvii. 19.
28    Luke i. 15; Rom. vi. 19, 22; 2 Cor. vii. 1; Eph. i. 4, iv. 24; 1 Thess. iii. 13, iv. 7; Heb. xii. 14, κατ’ ἀλήθειαν, κατὰ δόξαν; Prov. xxx. 12; Isa. lxv. 5; John vii. 48, 49, ix. 40, 41; 1 Thess. v. 3; Matt. xxv. 29; 2 Pet. ii. 20, 21; John vi. 66.
29    2 Pet. ii. 1; Act. Synod. Dec. Sent., art. 5, pp. 266, 267, etc.
30    Heb. vi. 4; 1 Sam. x. 10; 2 Pet. ii. 20; 1 Kings xxi. 27; 2 Cor. vii. 10; Matt. xxvii. 3, 4, xiii. 20, 21; Mark vi. 20; 2 Kings x. 16; Hos. vi. 4; 2 Tim. ii. 20; John vi. 34; Acts xxvi. 28; Matt. vii. 26, 27; Rev. iii. 1; Mark iv. 16, 17.
31    “Adde hos de quibus hic agimus, non vulgares et plebeios, sod antesignanos et eximios ac eminentes fuisse.” — Rem. Act. Synod., p. 267.
32    Ps. lxxviii. 34–36; Job xxvii. 9, 10; 2 Kings x. 29; Ezek. xxxiii. 31; Titus i. 16.
33    Rom. viii. 28, 29; Acts xiii. 48; Eph. i. 4; 1 Pet. i. 2–5; Titus i. 1.
34    2 Pet. i. 1; Rom. viii. 11; Eph. i. 19, 20, ii. 1, 5, 6, 8, 10; Matt. vii. 17, xii. 33; Gal. ii. 20; 1 John v. 12; 2 Cor. v. 17; 1 Thess. v. 23; Gal. v. 22, 23, 1 John iii. 9; Eph. ii. 10; 1 Pet. i. 22, 23; Phil. ii. 13.
35    John xiv. 16, 26, xv. 26, xvi. 7–11; Rom. viii. 10, 11; 1 Cor. vi. 19; Rom. v. 5, 1 John iv. 4, 13; 2 Tim. i. 14; 1 Cor. vi. 17, xii. 12, 13; Eph. iv. 4.
36    1 John iii. 14; Eph. ii. 1; Col. ii. 13; Rom. vi. 11, 13, viii. 2, 10.
37    Acts xxvi. 18; Eph. v. 8; 1 Thess. v. 4; Col. i. 13; 1 Pet. ii. 9.
38    Ezek. xxxvi. 25; Zech. xiii. 1; Isa. iv. 3, 4; Eph. v. 25–27; 1 Cor. vi. 11; Titus iii. 5; Heb. x. 22.
39    Rom. vi. 11; Eph. ii. 12–16; Col. i. 21; Heb. xii. 22–24.
40    Eph. ii. 3; Gal. iii. 13, iv. 4–7; Rom. viii. 1; 2 Cor. v. 21; Col. ii. 10; Rom. v. 1, viii. 32, 33; 1 John iii. 1, 2; Eph. iii. 15.
41    Cic. Inv., lib. ii. 54.
42    Rom. xv. 4.
43    2 Sam. vii. 14, 15; Ps. i. 3, xxiii. 6, xxxvii. 24, lv. 22, lxxxix. 31–33, cxxv. 1–3, cxxviii. 5; Isa. xlvi. 4, liv. 10; Jer. xxxi. 3, xxxii. 39, 40; Zech. x. 12; Matt. vii. 24, 25, xii. 20, xvi. 18, xxiv. 24; Luke viii. 8, xxii. 32; John vi. 35, 39, 56, 57, viii. 12, x. 27–29, xiv. 16, 17, xvii. 20–22; Rom. viii. 1, 16, 17, 28–37; 1 Cor. i. 8, 9, x. 13, xv. 58; 1 John v. 18, iii. 9; 1 Pet. i. 5; Rom. xi. 20; 1 Cor. xvi. 13; Phil. iv. 1, i. 6; Eph. i. 13, 14, iv. 30; Gal. ii. 20; Phil. i. 6; 1 Thess. v. 24; 2 Tim. ii. 12; 1 Pet. i. 2–5; 1 John ii. 19, 27, etc.
44    Ezek. xxxvi. 27; Isa. lix. 21; Luke xi. 13; Ps. li. 11; Rom. viii. 9, 11, 15; 1 Cor. ii. 12; Gal. iv. 6; 2 Tim. i. 14; Rom. v. 5; Gal. v. 22; John xiv. 16, 17, xvi. 13; 1 Cor. iii. 16, vi. 19.
45    Matt. xii. 33; 2 Cor. v. 17; 2 Pet. i. 4; Gal. v. 22, 23; Eph. iv. 23, 24.
46    Eph. iv. 30; Heb. iii. 10, 11; Isa. lxiii. 10.
47    Col. ii. 12; 2 Cor. v. 17; Eph. i. 19, 20; Col. i. 11.
48    Eph. i. 23; Col. ii. 19; Eph. iv. 16; 1 Thess. iii. 12; Phil. i. 6; 1 Cor. x. 13.
49    Heb. ii. 17, 18, iv. 15, vii. 25; Isa. xl. 11, lxiii. 9; Ezek. xxxiv. 4, 12.
50    Isa. xlviii. 9.
51    Isa. xlix. 15, 16, lxvi. 18; Jer. ii. 1–3; Hos. ii. 14, etc.
52    Ps. xxiii. 6; Jer. xxxi. 33; 1 Cor. x. 13, 1 Pet. i. 5.
53    Eph. ii. 10; 2 Cor. iii. 5.
54    Rom. viii. 1, 14.
55    “Quidam sunt, qui jam aliquamdiu luce veritatis collustrati fuerunt, et in ejus cognitione pietatisque studio tantum profecerunt, ut habitum tandem credendi sancteque vivendi comparaverint: hos non tantum ad finem usque vitæ perseverare posse, sed facile posse, ac libenter et cum voluptate perseverare velle credimus, adeo ut non nisi cum lucta et molestia ac difficultate deficere possint.” — Act. Synod. Dec. Sent. A. 5, pp. 189, 190.
56    Ps. li. 5; Matt. v. 29, 30; James iii. 5, 6.
57    John iii. 6; Matt. vi. 23, xi. 27; Luke xi. 34–36; Acts xxvi. 18; 2 Cor. vi. 14; Eph. v. 8; Isa. xxix. 18, xxxv. 5, xlii. 7; Rom. ii. 19; Col. i. 13; 1 Pet. ii. 9; Luke iv. 18; Eph. iv. 18; Rev. iii. 17; Matt. xxiii. 16, iv. 16; John i. 5; 2 Cor. iv. 6; Luke xiv. 18; John viii. 34; Rom. vi. 16, vii. 18, viii. 7, 8; Jer. vi. 13; Gen. vi. 5; Jer. xiii. 23; Heb. ii. 1; James i. 14, 15.
58    Coll. Hag. A. 5, Act. Synod. Dec. Sent. A. 5, thes. ii.
59    1 Pet. i. 5; Eph. i. 17–20; Col. i. 11, 12.
60    Ps. cxix. 144; 1 Cor. ii. 14.
61    Rom. vii. 8–24; 2 Cor. iii. 5.
62    Eph. vi. 12; Heb. xii. 1; Rom. vii. 17.
63    Phil. ii. 18.
64    2 Cor. iii. 5; John xv. 5; Gen. viii. 21.
65    Rev. iii. 12, xiii. 8; Luke x. 20.
66    Rev. v. 9; Eph. v. 25–27; Zech. iii. 2; John xvii. 9; Rom. viii. 33.
67    Ps. xlviii. 11–14, xvi. 1–3, etc.; Jer. l. 5; Zech. viii. 2; John xii. 15; Ps. cx. 3; Isa. xlix. 14.
68    1 Cor. i. 30; Isa. liv. 17, xlv. 24, 25; Jer. xxiii. 6; Rom. v. 1, viii. 1; Col. ii. 10.
69    Ezek. xi. 19; John iii. 5; Rom. viii. 1; John xvi. 8–11; Ps. xxxviii. 5, 7; Prov. xiii. 5, 6; Isa. i. 5, 6, lxiv. 6; Ezek. xvi. 4, 5, xxiv. 6; Hos. viii. 8; Zech. xiii. 1; Rom. iii. 13; 2 Pet. ii. 22.
70    Isa. xiv. 25.
71    Ps. xvii. 8, xxxvi. 7, lvii. 1, lviii. 7, cxxi. 5; Isa. xxx. 2, xlix. 2; Ezek. xxxi. 6, etc.
72    Cant. ii. 4.
73    Rev. ii. 5, iii. 2; Isa. lvii. 17, 18; Hos. xiv. 4; Isa. lix. 21; John xiv. 16; 1 John iii. 9, i. 8; James iii. 2; 1 Kings viii. 38; Isa. lxiv. 5, 6.
74    Ps. xxiii. 6; Isa. xxxv. 1, 2, etc.; John xv. 3–7; Rom. xi. 18; John i. 16; Col. ii. 19; Luke xvii. 5; Phil. ii. 13.
75    Isa. xlix. 14–16, lxv. 17; Cant. v. 2, 6; Ps. lxxiii. 26.

Chapter 2.

The perseverance of the saints argued from the immutability of the divine nature.

The thesis proposed for confirmation — The fivefold foundation of the truth thereof — Of the unchangeableness of the nature of God, and the influence thereof into the confirmation of the truth in hand — Mal. iii. 6, considered and explained — James i. 16–18 opened — Rom. xi. 29 explained and vindicated. — The conditions on which grace is asserted to be bestowed and continued, discussed — The vanity of them evinced in sundry instances — Of vocation, justification, and sanctification — Isa. xl. 27–31 opened and improved to the end aimed at; also Isa. xliv. 1–8 — The sum of the first argument — Mal. iii. 6, with the whole argument from the immutability of God at large vindicated — Falsely proposed by Mr G.; set right and re-enforced — Exceptions removed — Sophistical comparisons exploded — Distinct dispensations, according to distinction of a people — Alteration and change properly and directly assigned to God by Mr G. — The theme in question begged by him — Legal approbation of duties and conditional acceptation of persons confounded; as also God’s command and purpose — The unchangeableness of God’s decrees granted to be intended in Mal. iii. 6 — The decree directly in that place intended — The decree of sending Christ not immutable, upon Mr G.’s principles — The close of the vindication of this first argument.

The certain, infallible continuance of the love and favour of God unto the end towards his, those whom he hath once freely accepted in Jesus Christ, notwithstanding the interposition of any such supposals as may truly be made, having foundation in the things themselves, being the first thing proposed, comes now to be demonstrated.

Now, the foundation of this the Scripture lays upon five unchangeable, things, which eminently have an influence into the truth thereof: first, Of the Nature; secondly, The Purposes; thirdly, The Covenant; fourthly, The Promises; fifthly, The Oath of God; — every one whereof being engaged herein, the Lord makes use of to manifest the unchangeableness of his love towards those whom he hath once graciously accepted in Christ.

First, he hath laid the shoulders of the unchangeableness of his own nature to this work: Mal. iii. 6, “I am the Lord, I change not: therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.” These “sons of Jacob” are the sons of the faith of Jacob, the Israel of God, not all the seed of Jacob according to the flesh.76 The Holy Ghost in this prophecy makes an eminent distinction between these two, Rom  iii. 16, 17, iv. 1, 2. The beginning of this chapter contains a most evident and clear prediction and prophecy of the bringing in of the kingdom of Christ in the gospel, wherein he was to purge his floor, and throw out the chaff to be burned, Matt. iii. 12. This his appearance makes great work in the visible church of the Jews. Very many of those who looked and waited for that coming of his are cut off and cast out, as persons that have neither lot nor portion in the mercy wherewith it is attended.77 Though they said within themselves that they had Abraham to their father, and were the children and posterity of Jacob, yet, Mal. iii. 5, to them who are only the carnal seed, and do also walk in the ways of the flesh, he threatens a sore revenge and swift destruction, when others shall be invested with all the eminent mercies which the Lord Christ brings along with him. Lest the true sons of Jacob should be terrified with the dread of the approaching day, and say, as David78 did when the Lord made a breach upon Uzzah, “Who can stand before so holy a God? shall not we also in the issue be consumed?” he discovereth to them the foundation of their preservation to the end, even the unchangeableness of his own nature and being, whereunto his love to them is conformed; plainly intimating that unless himself and his everlasting deity be subject and liable to alteration and change (which once to imagine were, what lieth in us, to cast him down from his excellency), it could not be that they should be cast off for ever and consumed. These are the tribes of Jacob and the preserved of Israel, which Jesus Christ was sent to raise up, Isa. xlix. 6; the house of Jacob, which he takes from the womb, and carries unto old age, unto hoary hairs, and forsaketh not, Isa. xlvi. 3, 4.

This is confirmed, James i. 16–18, “Do not err, my beloved brethren. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth.” He begets us of his own will by the word of truth; for whatsoever men do pretend, we are born again, “not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God,” John i. 13. “Now herein,” saith the apostle, “we do receive from him good and perfect gifts, — gifts distinguished from the common endowments of others.” Yea, but they are failing ones perhaps, such as may flourish for a season, and be but children of a night, like Jonah’s gourd. Though God hath begotten us of his own will, and bestowed good and perfect gifts upon us, yet he may cast us off for ever. “Do not err, my beloved brethren,” saith the apostle; “these things come from the ‘Father of lights.’ God himself is the fountain of all lights of grace which we have received; and with him ‘there is no variableness, neither shadow of turning,’ — not the least appearance of any change or alteration.” And if the apostle did not in this place argue from the immutability of the divine nature to the unchangeableness of his love towards those whom he hath begotten and bestowed such light and grace upon, there were no just reason of mentioning that attribute and property there.

Hence, Rom. xi. 29, the “gifts and calling of God” are said to be “without repentance.” The gifts of his effectual calling (ἕν διὰ δυοῖν) shall never be repented of. They are from Him with whom there is no change.

The words are added by the apostle to give assurance of the certain accomplishment of the purpose of God towards the remnant of the Jews according to the election of grace. What the principal mercies were that were in God’s intendment to them, and whereof by their effectual calling they shall be made partakers, he tells us, Rom 11: 26, 27: the Deliverer or Redeemer, which comes out of Sion, shall, according to the covenant of grace, turn them from ungodliness, the Lord taking away their sins. Sanctification and justification by Christ, the two main branches of the new covenant,79 do make up the mercy purposed for them. The certainty of the collation of this mercy upon them, notwithstanding the interposition of any present obstruction (amongst which their enmity to the gospel was most eminent, and lay ready to be objected), the apostle argueth from the unchangeableness of the love of election, wherewith the Lord embraced them from eternity: “As touching the election, they are beloved.” And farther to manifest on that account the fulfilling of what he is in the proof and demonstration of, — namely, that though the major part of “Israel according to the flesh” were rejected, yet that the “election should obtain, and all Israel be saved,” — he tells them that that calling of God, whereby he will make out to them those eternally- designed mercies, shall not be repented of; eminently in that assertion distinguishing the grace whereof he speaks from all such common gifts and such outward dispensations as might be subject to a removal from them on whom they are bestowed. And if, upon any supposition or consideration imaginable, the mercies mentioned may be taken away, the assertion comes very short of the proof of that for which it is produced.

Against this plain expression of the apostle, that “the gifts and calling of God are without repentance,” Mr Goodwin puts in sundry exceptions, to weaken the testimony it bears in this case, chap. viii., sect. 57; which because they have been already sufficiently evinced of weakness, falsehood, and impertinency, by his learned antagonist,80 I shall only take up that which he mainly insists upon, and farther manifest its utter uselessness for the end for which it is produced. Thus, then, he pleads: “The ‘gifts and calling of God’ may be said to be ‘without repentance,’ because, let men continue the same persons which they were when the donation or collation of any gift was first made by God unto them, he never changes or altereth his dispensations towards them, unless it be for the better, or in order to their farther good; in which case he cannot be said to repent of what he had given. But in case men shall change and alter from what they were when God first dealt graciously with them, especially if they shall notoriously degenerate or cast away the principles, or divest themselves of that very qualification on which, as it were, God grafted his benefit or gift; in this case, though he recall his gift, he cannot be said to repent of his giving it, because the terms on which he gave it please him still, only the persons to whom he gave it, and who pleased him when he gave it them, have now tendered themselves unpleasing to him.”

Two things are here asserted:— 1. That if men continue the same, or in the same state and condition wherein they were when God bestowed his gifts and graces upon them, then God never changeth nor altereth, — his dispensations towards them abide the same. 2. That there are certain qualifications in men upon which God grafts his grace; which whilst they abide, his gifts and graces abide upon them also, and therefore are said to be ‘without repentance;’ but if they are lost, God recalls his gifts, and that without any change. Let us a little consider both these assertions.

And, first, It being evident that it is spiritual grace and mercy of which the apostle speaks, as was manifested, for they are such as flow from the covenant of the Redeemer, Rom. xi. 26, 27, sanctification and justification being particularly mentioned, let us consider what is the condition of men when God invests them with these mercies, that we may be able to instruct them how to abide in that condition, and so make good the possession of the grace and mercy bestowed on them. And, to keep close to the text, let our instance be in the three eminent mercies of the gospel intimated in that place: 1. Vocation; 2. Sanctification; 3. Justification.

The gift and grace of vocation is confessedly here intended, being expressly mentioned in the words, ἡ κλῆσις τοῦ Θεοῦ, that “calling” which is an effect of the covenant of grace, verse 29. Consider we, then, what is the state of men when God first calls them and gives them this gift and favour, that, if it seem so good, we may exhort them to a continuance therein.

Now, this state, with the qualifications of it, is a state, — 1. Of death: John v. 25, “The dead hear the voice of the Son of God.” Christ speaks to them who are dead, and so they live.81 2. Of darkness, Acts xxvi. 18; “God calleth them out of darkness into his marvellous light,” 1 Pet. ii. 9, — a state of ignorance and alienation from God, Eph. iv. 18. The grace of vocation, or effectual calling, finding men in a state of enmity to God and alienation from him, if they may be prevailed withal to continue in such still, this gift shall never be recalled nor repented of!

But perhaps the gift and grace of sanctification finds men in a better condition, in a state wherein if they abide then that also shall abide with them for ever. The Scripture so abounds in the description of this state that we shall not need to hesitate about it: Eph. ii. 1, 2, “You hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins.” Quickening and renewing grace is given to persons dead in sins, and is so far from depending as to its unchangeableness upon their continuance in the state wherein it finds them, that it consists in a real change and translation of them from that state or condition. The apostle sets out this at large, Titus iii. 3–5, “We ourselves were sometimes foolish,” etc. The state of men when God bestows these gifts upon them is positively expressed in sundry particulars, verse 3; the qualifications on which this gift or grace is grafted (of which Mr Goodwin speaks afterward), negatively, verse 5. It is not on any work that we have done; which is unquestionably exclusive of all those stocks of qualifications which are intimated, whereon the gifts and graces of God should be grafted. The gift itself here bestowed is the “washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost,” saving us through “mercy” from the state and condition before described. In brief, that the condition wherein this grace of God finds the sons of men is a state of death,82 blood,83 darkness, blindness,84 enmity, curse, and wrath, disobedience, rebellion, impotency, and universal alienation from God,85 is beyond all contradiction (by testimonies plentifully given out, here a little and there a little, line upon line) manifest in the Scripture. Shall we now say that this grace of God is bestowed on men upon the account of these qualifications, and continued without revocation on condition that they abide in the same state, with the same qualifications? Let, then, men continue in sin, that grace may abound!

Is the case any other as to justification? Doth not God justify the ungodly? Rom. iv. 5. Are we not in filthy robes when he comes to clothe us with robes of righteousness? Zech. iii. 3. Are we not reconciled to God when alienated by wicked works? Col. i. 21.

These are the qualifications on which, it seems, God grafts his gifts and graces, and whoso abode in the persons in whom they are is the condition whereon the irrevocableness of those gifts and graces does depend. Who would have thought they had been of such reckoning and esteem with the Lord! And this, considering what is learnedly discoursed elsewhere, may suffice.

As to the other assertion, that God gives his gifts and graces to qualifications, not to persons: Those qualifications are either gifts of God or not. If not, who made those men in whom they are differ from others? 1 Cor. iv. 7. If they are, on what qualifications were those qualifications bestowed? That God freely bestows on persons, of his own good pleasure, not grafting on qualifications, his gifts and graces, we have testimonies abundantly sufficient to outbalance Mr Goodwin’s assertion: Rom. ix. 18, “He hath mercy on whom he will have mercy.” He bestows his mercy and the fruits of it, not on this or that qualification, but on whom or what persons he will; and “to them it is given,” saith our Saviour, “to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God, but to others it is not given.” I see no stock that his gift is grafted on but only the persons of God’s good-will, whom he graciously designs to a participation of it.

Truth is, I know not any thing more directly contradictory to the whole discovery of the work of God’s grace in the gospel than that which is couched in these assertions of Mr Goodwin; neither is it any thing less or more than that which of old was phrased, “The giving of grace according to merit,” ascribing the primitive discriminating of persons as to spiritual grace unto self-endeavours, casting to the ground the free, distinguishing good pleasure of God, and that graciousness of every gift of his (I speak as to the first issue of his love, in quickening, renewing, pardoning grace) which eminently consists in this, that he is found of them that seek him not, and hath mercy on whom he will, because so it seemeth good to him.

Not to digress farther, in the discovery of the unsatisfactoriness of this pretence, from the pursuit of the argument in hand: Because God’s gifts are not repented of, therefore do men continue, not in the condition wherein they find them, but wherein they place them; and all qualifications in men whatever that are in the least acceptable to God are so far from being stocks whereon God grafts his gifts and graces, that they are plants themselves which he plants in whomsoever he pleaseth. Yea, the tree is made good before it bear any good fruit, and the branch is implanted into the true olive before it receive the sap or juice of any one good qualification. The sum of Mr Goodwin’s answer amounts to this: Let men be steadfast in a good condition, and God’s gifts shall steadfastly abide with them; if they change, they also shall be revoked; — which is directly opposite to the plain intendment of the place, namely, that the steadfastness of men depends upon the irrevocableness of God’s grace, and not e contra. There is not, in his sense, the least intimation in these words of the permanency of any gift or grace of God with any one on whom it is bestowed, for a day, an hour, or a moment; but, notwithstanding this testimony of the Holy Ghost, they may be given one hour, and taken away the next, — they may flourish in a man in the morning, and in the evening be cut down, dried up, and withered. This is not to answer the arguings of men, but positively to deny what God affirms. To conclude: God gives not his gifts to men (I mean those mentioned) because they please him, but because it pleaseth him so to do, Jer. xxxi. 31, 32; he does not take them away because they displease him, but gives them so to abide with them that they shall never displease him to the height of such a provocation; neither are the gifts of God otherwise to be repented of than by taking them from the persons on whom they are bestowed. But this heap being removed, we may proceed.

Furthermore, then, in sundry places doth the Lord propose this for the consolation of his, and to assure them that there shall never be an everlasting separation between him and them; which shall be farther cleared by particular instances. Things or truths proposed for consolation are, of all others, most clearly exalted above exception; without which they were no way suitable (considering the promptness of our unbelieving hearts to rise up against the work of God’s grace and mercy) to compass the end for which they are proposed.

Isa. xl. 27–31, “Why sayest thou, O Jacob, and speakest, O Israel, My way is hid from the Lord, and my judgment is passed over from my God? Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding. He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: but they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; they shall walk, and not faint.” Verse 27, Jacob and Israel make a double complaint, both parts of it manifesting some fear or dread of separation from God; for though in general it could not be so, yet in particular believers under temptation may question their own condition, with their right unto and interest in all the things whereby their state and glory is safeguarded. “My way,” say they, “is hid from the Lord;” — “The Lord takes no more notice, sets his heart no more upon my way, my walking, but lets me go and pass on as a stranger to him.” And farther, “My judgment is passed over from my God;” — “Mine enemies prevail, lusts and corruptions are strong, and God doth not appear in my behalf; judgment is not executed on them, and what will be the issue of this my sad estate?” What the Lord proposeth and holdeth out unto them, for their establishment, in this condition, and to assure them that what they feared should not come upon them, he ushers in by an effectual expostulation: Verse 28, “Hast thou not known?” — “Hast thou not found it true by experience?” “Hast thou not heard?” — “Hast not thou been taught it by the saints that went before thee?” What it is he would have them take notice of, and which he so pathetically insinuates into their understandings and affections, for their establishment, is an exurgency of that description of himself which he gives, verse 28: from his eternity, — He is “the everlasting God;” from his power, — He is “the Creator of the ends of the earth;” from his unchangeableness, — “He fainteth not,” he waxeth not weary, and therefore there is no reason he should relinquish or give over any design that he hath undertaken, especially considering that he lays all his purposes in that whereby he describes himself in the last place, even his wisdom, — “There is no end of his understanding.” He establisheth, I say, their faith upon this fourfold description of himself, or revelation of these four attributes of his nature, as engaged for the effecting of that which he encourageth them to expect. “Who is it, O Jacob, with whom thou hast to do, that thou shouldst fear or complain that thou art rejected? He is eternal, almighty, unchangeable, infinitely wise; and if he be engaged in any way of doing thee good, who can turn him aside, that he should not accomplish all his pleasure towards thee? He will work; who shall let him?” It must be either want of wisdom and foresight to lay a design, or want of power to execute it, that exposeth any one to variableness in any undertaking. Therefore, that they may see how unlikely, how impossible a thing it is that “their way should be hid from the Lord,” and “their judgment passed over from their God,” he acquaints them who and what he is who hath undertaken to the contrary. But, alas! they are poor, faint creatures: they have no might, no strength to walk with God; unstable as water, they cannot excel; it is impossible they should hold out in the way wherein they are engaged unto the end. To obviate or remove such fears and misgiving thoughts, he lets them know, verse 29, that though they have, or may have, many decays (for they often faint, they often fail, whereof we have examples and complaints in the Scripture, made lively by our own experience), yet from him they shall have supplies to preserve them from that which they fear. He is eternal, almighty, unchangeable, and infinitely wise; he will give out power and increase strength when they faint and in themselves have no might at all. The Lord doth not propose himself under all these considerations to let them know what he is in himself only, but also that he will exert (and act suitably to) these properties in dealing with them, and making out supplies unto them, notwithstanding all their misgiving thoughts, which arise from the consideration of their own faintings and total want of might. Though in themselves they are weak and faint, yet their springs are in him, and their supplies from him, who is such as he hath here described himself to be. Hereupon, also, he anticipates an objection, by way of concession: Verse 30, “Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall.” Men that seem to have a great stock of strength and ability may yet fail and perish utterly; — an objection which, as I formerly observed, these days have given great force unto. We see many who seem to have the vigour of youth and the strength of young men in the ways of God, that have tainted in their course and utterly failed; they began to run well, but lay down almost at the entrance. “And be it so,” saith the Lord; “it shall so come to pass indeed. Many that go out in their own strength shall so fall and come to nothing: but what is that to thee, O Jacob, my chosen, thou that waitest upon the Lord? The unchangeable God will so make out strength to thee, that thou shalt never utterly faint, nor give over, but abide flying, running, walking, with speed, strength, and steadfastness, unto the end,” verse 31. That expression, “They that wait upon the Lord,” is a description of the persons to whom the premise is made, and not a condition of the promise itself. It is not, “If they wait upon the Lord,” but “They that wait upon the Lord.” If it were a condition of this promise, there were nothing promised; it is only said, “If they wait on the Lord, they shall wait on the Lord.” But of the vanity of such conditionals I shall speak afterward.

A scripture of the like importance you have, Isa. xliv. 1–8, “Yet now hear, O Jacob my servant; and Israel, whom I have chosen: Thus saith the Lord that made thee, and formed thee from the womb, which will help thee; Fear not, O Jacob, my servant; and thou, Jesurun, whom I have chosen. For I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground: I will pour my Spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring: and they shall spring up as among the grass, as willows by the watercourses. One shall say, I am the Lord’s; and another shall call himself by the name of Jacob; and another shall subscribe with his hand unto the Lord, and surname himself by the name of Israel. Thus saith the Lord the King of Israel, and his Redeemer the Lord of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God,” etc. I shall not need to insist long on the opening of these words: the general design of them is to give consolation and assurance unto Israel, from the eternity, unchangeableness, and absoluteness of God, with some peculiar references to the second person, the Redeemer, who is described, Rev. i. 8, with the titles, for the substance of them, whereby the Lord here holds out his own excellency. I shall only observe some few things from the words, for the illustration of the truth we have in hand, contained in them.

The state and condition wherein Jacob, Israel, Jesurun (several titles upon several accounts given to believers), are described to be, is twofold:— First, Of fear and disconsolation, as is intimated in the redoubled prohibition of that frame in them: Verse 2, “Fear not;” and verse 8, “Fear ye not, neither be afraid.” Some temptation to farther distance or separation from God (the only thing to be feared) was fallen upon them. This they are frequently exercised withal; it is the greatest and most pressing temptation whereunto they are liable and exposed. To conclude because some believers in hypothesi may, under temptation, fear their own separation from God, therefore believers in thesi may be forsaken, yea, that unless this be true the other could not befall them, may pass for the arguing of men who are unacquainted with that variety of temptations, spiritual motions and commotions, which believers are exercised withal This, I say, is the first part of that state wherein they are supposed to be; a condition of the greatest difficulty in the world for the receiving of satisfaction. Secondly, Of barrenness, unprofitableness, and withering; which seems, and that justly, to be the cause of their fear: Verse 3, they are as the “thirsty,” and as the “dry ground,” parched in itself, fruitless to its owners, withering in their own souls, and bringing forth no fruit to God. A sad condition on both hands. Within they find decays, they find no active principles of bringing forth fruit unto God; and without desertion, fears at least that they are forsaken. Upon this ye have the foundation that the Lord lays for the refreshment of their spirits in this condition, and reducing of them into an established assurance of the continuance of his love; and that is his free, gracious election and choosing of them: “Thou art Jacob whom I have chosen, Jesurun whom I have chosen,” Rev 1:1, 2, even from eternity; when he “appointed the ancient people, and the things that are coming and shall come,” Rev 1:7; when he purposed mercy for the fathers of old, whom long since he had brought upon that account unto himself.

This is the “foundation” of doing them good, which “standeth sure;” as the apostle makes use of it to the same purpose, 2 Tim. ii. 19. This foundation being laid, Isa. xliv. 3, he gives them a twofold promise, suited to the double state wherein they were:— First, For the removal of their drought and barrenness, he will give them “waters” and “floods” for the taking of it away; which in the following words he interpreteth of the “Spirit,” as likewise doth the apostle John, John vii. 38, 39. He is the great soul-refresher; in him are all our springs. Saith the Lord, then, “Fear not, ye poor thirsty souls; ye shall have him as a flood, in great abundance, until all his fruits be brought forth in you.” Secondly, For the removal of the other evil, or fears of desertion and casting off, he minds them of his covenant, or the blessing of their offspring, of them and their seed, according to his promise when he undertook to be their God, Gen. xvii. 7. And then, Thirdly, There is a twofold issue of God’s thus dealing with them:— First, Of real fruitfulness: Isa. xliv. 4, “They shall be as grass” under perpetual showers, which cannot possibly wither and decay, or dry away, “and as trees planted by the rivers of water, that bring forth their fruit in their season, whose leaf doth not wither,” Ps. i. 3. Secondly, Of zealous profession and owning of God, with the engagement of their hearts and hands unto him, which you have in Isa. xliv. 5. Every one for himself shall give up himself to the Lord, in the most solemn engagement and professed subjection that is possible. They shall “say,” and “subscribe,” and “surname” themselves, by names and terms of faith and obedience, to follow the Lord in the faith of Jacob or Israel, in the inheritance of the promises which were made to him.

But now what assurance is there that this happy beginning shall be carried on to perfection, that this kindness of God to them shall abide to the end, and that there shall not be a separation between him and his chosen Israel? In the faith hereof the Lord confirms them by that revelation which he makes of himself and his properties, Isa 44:6–8. First, in his sovereignty, he is the “King.” What shall obstruct him? hath not he power to dispose of all things? He is the “Lord and King;” he will work, and who shall let him? But hath he kindness and tenderness to carry him out hereunto? Therefore, secondly, he is their “Redeemer;” and do but consider what he doth for the glory of that title, and what the work of redemption stood him in, and ye will not fear as to this nor be afraid. And all this he, thirdly, closeth with his eternity and unchangeableness. He is “the first, and he is the last, and beside him there is no God,” — the first, that chose them from eternity; and the last, that will preserve them to the end; and still the same, — he altereth not. I shall not add more instances in this kind. That the Lord often establisheth his saints in the assurance of the unchangeableness of his love towards them from the immutability of his own nature is very evident. Thence comparing himself and his love with a tender mother and her love, he affirms that hers may be altered, but his shall admit of “no variableness, neither shadow of turning,” Isa. xlix. 14–16.

To wind up this discourse, the sum of this first part of our first scriptural demonstration of the truth under debate amounts to this argument: That which God affirms shall be certainly and infallibly fulfilled upon the account of the immutability of his own nature, and encourageth men to expect it as certainly to be fulfilled as he is unchangeable; that shall infallibly, notwithstanding all oppositions and difficulties, be wrought and perfected. Now, that such, and so surely bottomed is the continuance of the love of God unto his saints, and so would he have them to expect, etc., hath been proved by an induction of many particular instances, wherein those engagements from the immutability of God are fully expressed.

One of these testimonies, even that mentioned in the first place, Mal. iii. 6, from whence this argument doth arise, is proposed to be considered and answered by Mr Goodwin, chap. x. sect. 40, 41, pp. 203–207. A brief removal of his exceptions to our inference from hence will leave the whole to its native vigour, and the truth therein contained to its own steadfastness in the hand and power of that demonstration. Thus, then, he proposeth that place of the prophet and our argument from thence, whereunto be shapes his answer: “For the words of Malachi, ‘I am the Lord, I change not,’ from which it is wont to be argued that when God once loves a person, he never ceaseth to love him, because this must needs argue a changeableness in him in respect of his affection, and consequently the saints cannot fall away finally from his grace,’ etc. So he.

Ans. It is an easy thing so to frame the argument of an adversary as to contribute more to the weakening of it in its proposing than in the answer afterward given thereunto; and that it is no strange thing with Mr Goodwin to make use of this advantage in his disputations in this book is discerned and complained of by all not engaged in the same contest with himself. That he hath dealt no otherwise with us in the place under consideration, the ensuing observations will clearly manifest:—

First, all the strength, that Mr Goodwin will allow to this argument ariseth from a naked consideration of the immutability of God as it is an essential property of his nature, when our arguing is from his engagement to us by and on the account of that property. That God will do such and such a thing because he is omnipotent, though he shall not, at all manifest any purpose of his will to lay forth his omnipotency for the accomplishment of it, is an inference all whose strength is vain presumption; but when God hath engaged himself for the performance of any thing, thence to conclude to the certain accomplishment of it, from his power whereby he is able to do it, is a deduction that faith will readily close withal. So the apostle assures us of the re-implanting of the Jews upon this account. “God,” saith he, “is able to plant them in again,” having promised so to do, Rom. xi. 23. There are two considerations upon which the unchangeableness of God hath a more effectual influence into the continuance of his love to his saints than the mere objected thought of it will lead us to an acquaintance withal:—

First, God proposeth his immutability to the faith of the saints for their establishment and consolation, in this very case of the stability of his love unto them. We dare not draw conclusions in reference to ourselves from any property of God, but only upon the account of the revelation which he hath made thereof unto us for that end and purpose; but this being done, we have a sure anchor, firm and steadfast, to fix us against all blasts of temptation or opposition whatsoever. When God proposes his immutability or unchangeableness to assure us of the continuance of his love unto us, if we might truly apprehend, yea, and ought so to do, that his changeableness may be preserved, and himself vindicated from least shadow of turning, though he should change his mind, thoughts, love, purposes, concerning us every day, what conclusion for consolation could possibly arise from such proposal of God’s immutability unto us? yea, would it not rather appear to be a way suited to the delusion of poor souls, that when they shall think they have a solid pillar, no less than an essential property of the nature of God, to rest upon, they shall find themselves leaning on a cloud, or shadow, or on a broken reed that will run into their hands, instead of yielding them the least supportment? God deals not thus with his saints. His discoveries of himself in Christ for the establishment of the hearts of his are not such flints as from whence the most skilful and exercised faith cannot expect one drop of consolation. Whatsoever of his name he holds out to the sons of men, it will be a strong tower and place of refuge and safety to them that fly unto it.

Secondly, The consideration of that love in its continuance, wherein the Lord settles and puts out of doubt the souls of his, by the engagement of his unchangeableness, or the calling of them to the consideration of that property in him from whom that love doth flow, adds strength also to the way of arguing we insist upon. Were the lore of God to his nothing but the declaration of his approbation of such and such things, annexed to the law and rule of obedience (it might stand firm like a pillar in a river, though the water be not thereby caused to stand still one moment, but only touch it, and so pass on), there were some colour of exception to be laid against it. And this is, indeed, the πρῶτον ψεῦδος of Mr Goodwin in this whole controversy, that he acknowledgeth no other love of God to believers but what lies in the outward approbation of what is good, and men’s doing it; upon which account there is no more love in God to one than another, to the choicest saint than to the most profligate villain in the world. Nay, it is not any love at all, properly so called, being no internal, vital act of God’s will, the seat of his love, but an external declaration of the issue of our obedience. The declaration of God’s will, that he approves faith and obedience, is no more love to Peter than it is to Judas. But let now the love of God to believers be considered as it is in itself, as a vital act of his will, willing, if I may so speak, good things to them, as the immanent purpose of his will, and also joined with an acceptation of them in the effects of grace, favour, and love in Jesus Christ, and it will be quickly evidenced how an alteration therein will intrench upon the immutability of God, both as to his essence, and attributes, and decrees.

Having thus re-enforced our argument from this place of Scripture, by restoring unto it those considerations which (being its main strength) it was maimed and deprived of by Mr Goodwin in his proposal thereof, I shall briefly consider the answers that by him are suggested thereunto.

Thus, then, he proceedeth: “By the tenor of this arguing, it will as well follow, that in case God should at any time withdraw his love and his favour from a nation or body of a people which he sometimes favoured or loved, he should be changed. But that no such change of dispensation as this towards one or the same people or nation argueth any change at all in God, at least any such change which he disclaimeth as incompetent to him, is evident from those instances without number recorded in Scripture of such different dispensations of his towards sundry nations, and more especially towards the Jews, to whom sometimes he gives peace, sometimes consumes them with wars, sometimes he makes them the head, and sometimes again the tail of the nations round about them.”

Ans. The love and favour of God to a nation or people, here brought into the lists of comparison with the peculiar love of God to his saints, which he secures them of upon the account of his immutability, is either the outward dispensation of good things to them, called his love because it expresseth and holds out a fountain of goodness from whence it flows, or it is an eternal act of God’s will towards them, of the same nature with the love to his own formerly described. If it be taken in the first sense, as apparently it is intended, and so made out from the instance of God’s dealing with the Jews in outward blessings and punishments, Mr Goodwin doth plainly μεταβαίνειν εἰς ἄλλο γένος, — fall into a thing quite of another nature, instead of that which was first proposed. “Amphora cum cœpit institui cur urceus exit?” There is a wide difference between outward providential dispensations and eternal purposes and acts of grace and good-will, to deal in the instance insisted on by Mr Goodwin. There being frequent mention in the Scripture, as afterward shall be fully declared, of a difference and distinction in and of that people (for “they are not all Israel that are of Israel,” Rom. ix. 4–8), the whole lump and body of them being the people of God in respect of separation from the rest of the world and dedication to his worship and external profession, yet a remnant only, a hidden remnant, being his people upon the account of eternal designation and actual acceptation into love and favour in Jesus Christ, there must needs be also a twofold dispensation of God and his will in reference to that people, — the first common and general, towards the whole body of them, in outward ordinances and providential exercises of goodness or justice. In this there was great variety as to the latter part, comprehending only external effects or products of the power of God; in which regard he can pull down what he hath set up, and set up what he hath pulled down, without the least shadow of turning, these various dispensations working uniformly towards the accomplishment of his unchangeable purposes. And this is all that Mr Goodwin’s exceptions reach to, even a change in the outward dispensation of providence; which none ever denied, being that which may be, nay is done, for the bringing about and accomplishment, in a way suitable to the advancement of his glory, of his unchangeable purposes. What proportion there is to be argued from between the general effects of various dispensations and that peculiar love and grace of the covenant thereof, wherein God assures his saints of their stability upon the account of his own unchangeableness, I know not. Because he may remove his candlestick from a fruitless, faithless people, and give them up to desolation, may he therefore take his Holy Spirit from them that believe? For whilst that continues, the root of the matter is in them. So that, secondly, there is a peculiar dispensation of grace exerted towards those peculiar ones whom he owneth and receiveth, as above mentioned, wherein there are such engagements of the purposes, decrees, and will of God, as that the stream of them cannot be forced back without as great an alteration and change in God as the thoughts of the heart of the meanest worm in the world are liable unto; and on this the Lord asserts the steadfastness of his love to them in the midst of the changes of outward dispensations towards the body of that people, wherein also their external concernments were wrapped up, 1 Sam. xii. 22. But this will afterward be more fully cleared. The substance of this exception amounts only to thus much: There are changes wrought in the works which outwardly are, of God, as to general and common administrations; therefore, also are his eternal purposes of spiritual grace liable to the like alterations. Whereas Mr Goodwin says that this will not import any alteration in God, at least any such alteration as is incompetent to him, I know not of any shadow of alteration that may be ascribed to him without the greatest and most substantial derogation from his glory that you can engage into.

And this farther clears what is farther excepted to the end of sect. 40, in these words: “Therefore, neither the unchangeableness nor changeableness of God is to be estimated or measured, either by any variety or uniformity of dispensation towards one and the same object; and, consequently, for him to express himself; as this day, towards a person, man or woman, as if he intended to save them, or that he really intended to save them, and should on the morrow, as the alteration in the interim may be, or however may be supposed, in these persons, express himself to the contrary, as that he verily intends to destroy them, would not argue or imply the least alteration in him.”

Ans. It is true, such dispensations of God as are morally declarative of what God approves, or what he rejects, — not engagements of any particular intendment, design, or purpose of his will, — or such as are merely outward acts of his power, may in great variety be subservient to the accomplishment of his purposes, and may undergo (the first in respect of the objects, the latter of the works themselves) many alterations, without prejudice to the immutability of God. The first in themselves are everlastingly unchangeable. God always approves the obedience of his creatures, according to that light and knowledge which he is pleased to communicate unto them, and always condemns and disallows their rebellions; yet the same persons may do sometimes what he approves and sometimes what he condemns, without the least shadow of change in God. Whilst they thus change, his purposes concerning them, and what he will do to them and for them, are unchangeable as is his law concerning good and evil For the latter, take an instance in the case of Pharaoh. God purposeth the destruction of Pharaoh, and suits his dispensations in great variety and with many changes for the bringing about and accomplishing of that his unchangeable purpose; he plagues him and frees him, he frees him and plagues him again. All these things do not in the least prove any alteration in God, being all various effects of his power, suited to the accomplishment of an unchangeable purpose. So in respect of persons whom he intends to bring, through Christ, infallibly to himself, how various are his dispensations, both temporal and spiritual! He afflicts them and relieves them, sends them light and darkness, strength and weakness, forsakes and appears to them again., without the least alteration in his thoughts and purposes towards them; all these things, by his infinite wisdom, working together for their good. But now, if by “dispensation” you understand and comprehend also the thoughts and purposes of God towards any for the bringing of them to such and such an end, if these be altered, and the Lord doth change them continually, I know no reason why a poor worm of the earth may not lay an equal claim (absit blasphemia) to immutability and unchangeableness with him who asserts it as his essential property and prerogative, whereby he distinguisheth himself from all creatures whatsoever.

There is also an ambiguity in that expression, “That God expresseth himself this day towards a man or woman that he really intends to save them, and on the morrow expresseth himself to the contrary.” If our author intend only God’s moral approbation of duties and performances, as was said before, with the conditional approbation of persons with respect to them, there being therein no declaration of any intention or purpose of God properly so called, the instance is not in the least looking towards the business we have in hand. But if withal he intend the purposes and intentions of the will of God, as these terms, “really intend” and “verily intend,” do import, I know not what to call or account alteration and change if this he not. Surely if a man like ourselves do really intend one thing one day, and verily intend the clean contrary the next day, we may make bold to think and say he is changeable; and what apology will be found, on such a supposal, for the immutability of God doth not fall within the compass of my narrow apprehension. Neither is that parenthetical expression, of a change imagined in the persons concerning whom God’s intentions are, any plea for his changeableness upon this supposal; for he either foresaw that change in them or he did not. If he did not, where is his prescience? yea, where is his deity? If he did, to what end did he really and verily intend and purpose to do so and so for a man, when at the same instant he knew the man would so behave himself as he should never accomplish any such intention towards him? We should be wary how we ascribe such lubricous thoughts to worms of the earth like ourselves; “but if a man sin against the Lord, who shall entreat for him?” If one should really and verily intend or purpose to give a man bread to eat tomorrow, who he knows infallibly will be put to death tonight, such an one will not, perhaps, be counted changeable, but he will scarce escape being esteemed a changeling. Yet it seems it must be granted that God verily and really intends to do so and so for men, if they be in such and such a condition, which he verily and really knows they will not be in! But suppose all this might be granted, what is it at all to the argument in hand concerning the Lord’s engaging his immutability to his saints, to secure them from perishing upon the account thereof? Either prove that God doth change, which he saith he doth not, or that the saints may perish though he change not, which he affirms they cannot, or you speak not to the business in hand.

The 41st section contains a discourse too long to be transcribed, unless it were more to the purpose in hand than it is. I shall, therefore, briefly give the reader a taste of some paralogisms that run from one end of it to the other, and then, in particular, roll away every stone that seems to be of any weight for the detaining captive the truth in whose vindication we are engaged:—

First, From the beginning to the ending of the whole discourse the thing in question is immodestly begged, and many inferences made upon a supposal that believers may become impenitent apostates; which, being the sole thing under debate, ought not in itself to be taken as granted, and so made a proof of itself. It is by us asserted that those who are once freely accepted of God in Christ shall not be so forsaken as to become impenitent apostates, and that upon the account of the immutability of God, which he hath engaged to give assurance thereof. To evince the falsity of this, it is much pressed that if they become impenitent apostates, God, without the least shadow of mutability, may cast them off and condemn them; which is a kind of reasoning that will scarce conclude to the understanding of an intelligent reader. And yet this sandy foundation is thought sufficient to bear up many rhetorical expressions concerning the changeableness of God, in respect of sundry of his attributes, if he should not destroy such impenitent apostates as it is splendidly supposed believers may be. “O famâ ingens, ingentior armis vir Trojane.” This way of disputing will scarce succeed you in this great undertaking.

The second scene of this discourse is a gross confounding of God’s legal or moral approbation of duties, and conditional [approbation] of persons in reference to them (which is not love properly so called, but a mere declaration of God’s approving the thing which he commands and requires), with the will of God’s purpose and intention, and actual acceptation of the persons of believers in Jesus Christ, suited thereunto. Hence are all the comparisons used between God and a judge in his love, and the express denial that God’s love is fixed on any materially, — that is, on the persons of any, for that is the intendment of it, — but only formally, in reference to their qualifications. Hence, also, is that instance again and again insisted on, in this and the former section, of the love of God to the fallen angels whilst they stood in their obedience. Their obedience, no doubt (if any they actually yielded), fell under the approbation of God; but that it was the purpose and intention of God to continue and preserve them in that obedience cannot be asserted without ascribing to him more palpable mutability than can fall upon a wise and knowing man.

Thirdly, The discourse of this section hath a contribution of strength, such as it is, from a squaring of the love of God unto the sweet nature and loving disposition of men; which is perhaps no less gross anthropomorphitism than they were guilty of who assigned him a body and countenance like to ours.

And upon these three stilts, whereof the first is called “Petitio Principii,” the second “Ignoratio Elenchi,” and the third “Fallacia non causæ pro causa,” is this discourse advanced.

I shall not need to transcribe and follow the progress of this argumentation; the observation of the fallacies before mentioned will help the meanest capacity to unravel the sophistry of the whole. The close only of it may seem to deserve more particular consideration. So, then, it proceedeth: “The unchangeableness assumed by God himself unto himself in the work in hand, ‘I am the Lord, I change not,’ is, I conceive, that which is found in him in respect of his decrees; the reason is, because it is assigned by him as the reason why they were not utterly destroyed: ‘I am the Lord, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.’ In the beginning of the chapter he did declare unto them his purpose and decree of sending his only-begotten Son, whom he there calls ‘The messenger of the covenant,’ unto them. He predicteth, verses 3, 4, the happy fruit or consequence of that his sending, in reference to their nation and posterity. To the unchangeableness of this his decree he assigns the patience which he had for a long time exercised towards them under their great and continued provocations; whereby he implies, that if he could have been turned out of the way of his decree concerning the sending of his Son unto them in their posterity, they would have done it by the greatness of their sins. But insomuch as this his decree, or himself in this his decree, was unchangeable, and it must have been changed in case they had been all destroyed, for the decree was for the sending to their nation and posterity, ‘hence,’ saith he, ‘it comes to pass, that though your sins otherwise abundantly have deserved it, yet I have spared you from a total ruin.’ Therefore, in these two last Scripture arguments, there is every whit as much, or rather more, against than for the common doctrine of perseverance.”

Ans. That the unchangeableness of God, which is mentioned in this text, hath relation to the decrees of God is granted; whatever, then, God purposeth or decreeth is put upon a certainty of accomplishment upon the account of his unchangeableness. There may be some use hereafter made of this concession, when, I suppose, the evasions that will be used about the objects of those decrees and their conditionality will scarce waive the force of our arguing from it. For the present, though I willingly embrace the assertion, yet I cannot assent to the analysis of that place of Scripture which is introduced as the reason of it. The design of the Lord in that place hath been before considered. That the consolation here intended is only this, that whereas God purposed to send the Lord Christ to the nation of the Jews, which he would certainly fulfil and accomplish, and therefore did not, nor could, utterly destroy them, will scarcely be evinced to the judgment of any one who shall consider the business in hand with so much liberty of spirit as to cast an eye upon the Scripture itself. That after the rehearsal of the great promise of sending his Son in the flesh to that people, he distinguisheth them into his chosen ones and those rejected, his remnant and the refuse of the nation, being the main body thereof, threatening destruction to the latter, but engaging himself into a way of mercy and love towards the former, hath been declared. To assure the last of his continuance in these thoughts and purposes of his good-will towards them, he minds them of his unchangeableness in all such purposes, and particularly encourages them to rest upon it in respect of his love towards themselves. That God intended to administer consolation to his saints in the expression insisted on is not, cannot be, denied. Now, what consolation could redound to them in particular from hence, that the whole nation should not utterly be rooted out, because God purposed to send his Son to their posterity? Notwithstanding this, any individual person that shall flee to the horns of this altar for refuge, that shall lay hold on this promise for succour, may perish everlastingly. There is scarce any place of Scripture where there is a more evident distinction asserted between the Jews who were so outwardly only and in the flesh, and those who were so inwardly also and in the circumcision of the heart, than in this and the following chapter. Their several portions are also clearly proportioned out to them in sundry particulars. Even this promise of sending the Messiah respected not the whole nation, and doubtless was only subservient to the consolation of them whose blessedness consisted in being distinguished from others, But let the context be viewed, and the determination left to the Spirit of truth in the heart of him that reads.

Neither doth it appear to me how the decree of God concerning the sending of his Son into the world can be asserted as absolutely immutable upon that principle formerly laid down and insisted on by our author: He sends him into the world to die, neither is any concernment of his mediation so often affirmed to fall under the will and purpose of God as his death. But concerning this Mr Goodwin disputes, out of Socinus,86 for a possibility of a contrary event, and that the whole counsel of God might have been fulfilled by the goodwill and intention of Christ, though actually he had not died. If, then, the purpose of God concerning Christ, as to that great and eminent part of his intendment therein, might have been frustrated and was liable to alteration, what reason can be rendered wherefore that might not upon some considerations (which Mr Goodwin is able, if need were, to invent) have been the issue of the whole decree? And what, then, becomes of the collateral consolation, which from the immutability of that decree is here asserted? Now, this being the only witness and testimony, in the first part of our scriptural demonstration of the truth in hand, whereunto any exception is put in, and the exceptions against it being in such a frame and composure as manifest the whole to be a combination of beggars and jugglers, whose pleas are inconsistent with themselves, as it doth now appear, upon the examination of them apart, it is evident that as Mr Goodwin hath little ground or encouragement for that conclusion he makes of this section, so the light breaking forth from a constellation of this and other texts mentioned is sufficient to lead us into an acknowledgment and embracement of the truth contended for.

76    Rom. ix. 6, xi. 4–6.
77    Isa. xlix. 3–6; Luke ii. 34; Rom. ix. 30, 31.
78    The expression was used not by David in reference to Uzzah, but by the men of Beth-shemesh. See 1 Sam. vi. 20. — Ed.
79    Jer. xxxi. 31–34, xxxii. 38–40; Ezek. xxxvi. 25–28; Heb. viii. 8–12, x. 16, 17.
80    Dr George Kendall. See prefatory note. — Ed.
81    Isa. lxv. 1; Rom. ix. 25; Hos. ii. 23; 1 Pet. ii. 10; Eph. ii. 12.
82    Matt. viii. 22; Rom. vi. 13; Col. ii. 13.
83    Ezek. xvi. 6; Isa. iv. 4; Job xiv. 4; John iii. 6.
84    John i. 5; Eph. v. 8; Col. i. 13; Luke iv. 18.
85    Rom. viii. 6–8, v. 10; Col. i. 21; Gal. iii. 13; John iii. 35.
86    Socin. Præl. Theol. cap. x. sect. 8.

Chapter 3. The immutability of the purposes of God.

The immutability of the purposes of God proposed for a second demonstration of the truth in hand — Somewhat of the nature and properties of the purposes of God: the object of them — Purposes, how acts of God’s understanding and will — The only foundation of the futurition of all things — The purposes of God absolute — Continuance of divine love towards believers purposed — Purposes of God farther considered and their nature explained — Their independence and absoluteness evinced — Proved from Isa. xlvi. 9–11; Ps. xxxiii. 9–11; Heb. vi. 17, 18, etc. — These places explained — The same truth by sundry reasons and arguments farther confirmed — Purpose in God of the continuance of his love and favour to believers manifested by an induction of instances out of Scripture; the first from Rom. viii. 28 proposed, and farther cleared and improved — Mr G.’s dealing with our argument from hence and our exposition of this place considered — His exposition of that place proposed and discussed — The design of the apostle commented on — The fountain of the accomplishment of the good things mentioned omitted by Mr G. — In what sense God intends to make all things work together for good to them that love him — Of God’s foreknowledge — Of the sense and use of the word προγινώσκω, also of scisco, and γινώσκω, in classical authors — Πρόγνωσις, in Scripture everywhere taken for foreknowledge or predetermination, nowhere for pre-approbation — Of pre-approving or pre-approbation here insisted on by Mr G. — Its inconsistency with the sense of the apostle’s discourse manifested — The progress of Mr G.’s exposition of this place considered — Whether men love God antecedently to his predestination and their effectual calling — To pre-ordain and pre-ordinate different — No assurance granted of the consolation professed to be intended — The great uncertainty of the dependence of the acts of God’s grace mentioned on one another — The efficacy of every one of them resolved finally into the wills of men — Whether calling according to God’s purpose supposeth a saving answer given to that call — The affirmative proved, and exceptions given thereto removed — What obstructions persons called may lay in their own way to justification — The iniquity of imposing conditions and supposals on the purposes of God not in the least intimated by himself — The whole acknowledged design of the apostle everted by the interposition of cases and conditions by Mr G. — Mr G.’s first attempt to prove the decrees of God to be conditional considered — 1 Sam. ii. 30 to that end produced — 1 Sam. ii. 30 farther considered, and its unsuitableness to illustrate Rom. viii. 28–31 proved — Interpretation of Scripture by comparing of places agreeing neither in design, word, nor matter, rejected — The places insisted on proved not to be parallel by sundry particular instances — Some observations from the words rejected — What act of God intended in these words to Eli, “I said indeed” — No purpose or decree of God in them declared — Any such purpose as to the house of Eli by sundry arguments disproved — No purpose of God in the words insisted on farther manifested — They are expressive of the promise or law concerning the priesthood, Numb. xxv. 11–13, more especially relating unto Exod. xxviii. 43, xxix. 9 — The import of that promise, law, or statute, cleared — The example of Jonah’s preaching, and God’s commands to Abraham and Pharaoh — The universal disproportion between the texts compared by Mr G., both as to matter and expression, farther manifested — Instances or cases of Saul and Paul to prove conditional purposes in God considered — Conditional purposes argued from conditional threatenings — The weakness of that argument — The nature of divine threatenings — What will of God, or what of the will of God, is declared by them — No proportion between eternal purposes and temporal threatenings — The issue of the vindication of our argument from the foregoing exceptions — Mr G.’s endeavour to maintain his exposition of the place under consideration — The text perverted — Several evasions of Mr G. from the force of this argument considered — His arguments to prove no certain or infallible connection between calling, justification, and glorification, weighed and answered — His first, from the scope of the chapter and the use of exhortations — The question begged — His second, from examples of persons called and not justified — The question argued begged — No proof insisted on but the interposition of his own hypothesis — How we are called irresistibly, and in what sense — Whether bars of wickedness and unbelief may be laid in the way of God’s effectual call — Mr G.’s demur to another consideration of the text removed — The argument in hand freed from other objections and concluded — Jer. xxxi. 3 explained and improved, for the confirmation of the truth under demonstration — 2 Tim. ii. 19 opened, and the truth from thence confirmed — The foregoing exposition and argument vindicated and confirmed — The same matter at large pursued — John vi. 37–40 explained, and the argument in hand from thence confirmed — Mr G.’s exceptions to our arguing from this place removed — The same matter farther pursued — The exposition and argument insisted on fully vindicated and established — Matt. xxiv. 24 opened and improved — The severals of that text more particularly handled — Farther observations, for the clearing the mind of the Holy Ghost in this place — The same farther insisted on and vindicated Mr G.’s exceptions at large discussed and removed — Eph. i. 3–5, 2 Thess. ii. 13, 14, opened — The close of the second argument, from the immutability of the purposes of God.

Having cleared the truth in hand, from the immutability of the nature of God, which himself holds out as engaged for us to rest upon, as to the unchangeable continuance of his love unto us, proceed we now to consider the steadfastness and immutability of his purposes, which he frequently asserts as another ground of assurance to the saints of his safeguarding their glory of free acceptation to the end.

I shall not enter upon the consideration of the nature and absoluteness of the purposes of God as to an express handling of them, but only a little unfold that property and concernment of them whereon the strength of the inference we aim at doth in the same measure depend. Many needless and curious questions have been, by the serpentine wits of men, moved and agitated concerning them; wherein, perhaps, our author hath not been outgone by many; as will be judged by those who have weighed his discourses concerning them, with his distinctions of “desires, intentions, purposes, and decrees,” in God. But this is not the business we have in hand; for what concerneth that, that which ensueth may suffice. God himself being an infinite pure act, those acts of his will and wisdom which are eternal and immanent are not distinguished from his nature and being but only in respect of the reference and habitude which they bear unto some things to be produced outwardly from him. The objects of them all are such things as might not be. God’s purposes are not concerning any thing that is in itself absolutely necessary. He doth not purpose that he will be wise, holy, infinitely good, just: all these things, that are of absolute necessity, come not within the compass of his purposes. Of things that might not be are his decrees and intentions; they are of all the products of his power, — all that outwardly he hath done, doth, or will do, to eternity. All these things, to the falling of a hair or the withering of a [blade of] grass, hath he determined from of old. Now, this divine fore-appointment of all things the Scripture assigns sometimes to the knowledge and understanding, sometimes to the will of God: “Known unto him are all his works from the beginning of the world,” Acts xv. 18. It is that knowledge which hath an influence into that most infinitely wise disposal of them which is there intimated. And the determination of things to be done is referred to the “counsel” of God Acts. iv. 28; which denotes an act of his wisdom and understanding, and yet withal it is the “counsel of his own will,” Eph. i. 11.87

I know that all things originally owe their futurition to a free act of the will of God; he doth whatever he will and pleaseth. Their relation thereunto translates them out of that state of possibility, and [from] being objects of God’s absolute omnipotency and infinite simple intelligence or understanding, whereby he intuitively beholdeth all things that might be produced by the exerting of his infinite almighty power, into a state of futurition, making them objects of God’s foreknowledge, or science of vision, as it is called.88 But yet the Scripture expresseth (as before) that act of God whereby he determines the beings, issues, and orders of things, [so as] to manifest the concurrence of his infinite wisdom and understanding in all his purposes. Farther; as to the way of expressing these things to our manner of apprehension, there are held out intentions and purposes of God distinctly suited to all beings, operations, and events; yet in God himself they are not multiplied. As all things are present to him in one most simple and single act of his understanding, so with one individual act of his will he determines concerning all. But yet, in reference to the things that are disposed of, we may call them the purposes of God. And these are the eternal springs of God’s actual providence; which being (“ratio ordinis ad finem”) the disposing of all things to their ends in an appointed manner and order, in exact correspondence unto them, these purposes themselves must be the infinitely wise, eternal, immanent acts of his will, appointing and determining all things, beings, and operations, kinds of beings, manners of operation, free, necessary, contingent, as to their existence and event, into an immediate tendency unto the exaltation of his glow; or, as the apostle calls them, the “counsel of his own will,” according whereunto he effectually worketh all things, Eph. i. 11.

Our consideration of these purposes of God being only in reference to the business which we have in hand, I shall do these two things:— First, Manifest that they are all of them absolute and immutable; wherein I shall be brief, not going out to the compass of the controversy thereabout, as I intimated before; my intendment lies another way. Secondly, Show that God hath purposed the continuance of his love to his saints, to bring them infallibly to himself, and that this purpose of God, in particular, is unchangeable; which is the second part of the foundation of our abiding with God in the grace of acceptation.

I. By the purposes of God I mean, as I said before, the eternal acts of his will concerning all things that outwardly are of him; which are the rules, if I may so speak, of all his following operations, — all external, temporary products of his power universally answering those internal acts of his will. The judgment of those who make these decrees or purposes of God (for I shall constantly use these words promiscuously, as being purely of the same import, as relating unto God) to be in themselves essential to him and his very nature, or understanding and will, may be safely closed withal. They are in God, as was said, but one; there is not a real multiplication of any thing but subsistence in the Deity. To us these lie under a double consideration:— First, Simply as they are in God; and so it is impossible they should be differenced from his infinite wisdom and will, whereby he determineth of any thing. Secondly, In respect of the habitude and relation which they bear to the things determined, which the wisdom and will of God might not have had. In the first sense, as was said, they can be nothing but the very nature of God, the τὸ velle of God, his internal willing of any thing that is either created or uncreated; for these terms distribute the whole nature of being. Created they are not, for they are eternal (that no new immanent act can possibly be ascribed to God hath full well of late been demonstrated). Farther; if they are created, then God willed that they should be created, for he created only what he willed. If so, was he willing they should be created, or no? If he were, then a progress will be given infinitely, for the question will arise up to eternity. If uncreated, then doubtless they are God himself, for he only is so; it is impossible that a creature should be uncreated. Again; God’s very willing of things is the cause of all things, and therefore must needs be omnipotent and God himself. That “voluntas Dei” is “causa rerum” is taken for granted, and may be proved from Ps. cxv. 3, which the apostle ascribes omnipotency unto, Rom. ix. 19, “Who hath resisted his will?” Doubtless it is the property of God alone to be the cause of all things, and to be almighty in his so being. But hereof at present no more. On this supposal, the immutability of the decrees of God would plainly be coincident with the immutability of his nature, before handled.

It is, then, of the decrees and purposes of God, with respect to the matters about which they are, whereof I speak: in which regard, also, they are absolute and immutable; — not that they work any essential change in the things themselves concerning which they are, making that to be immutable from thence which in its own nature is mutable; but only that themselves, as acts of the infinite wisdom and will of God, are not liable to nor suspended on any condition whatever foreign to themselves, nor subject to change or alteration (whence floweth an infallible certainty of actual accomplishment in reference to the things decreed or purposed, be their own nature what it will, or their next causes in themselves never so undetermined to their production), whereof I treat. That the determining purposes or decrees of God’s will concerning any thing or things by him to be done or effected do not depend, as to their accomplishment, on any conditions that may be supposed in or about the things themselves whereof they are, and therefore are unchangeable, and shall certainly be brought forth unto the appointed issue, is that which we are to prove Knowing for whose sakes89 and for what end this labour was undertaken, I shall choose to lay the whole proof of this assertion upon plain texts of Scripture, rather than mix my discourse with any such philosophical reasonings as are of little use to the most of them whose benefit is hereby intended.

Isa. xlvi. 9–11, The Holy Ghost speaks expressly to our purpose: “Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure: calling a ravenous bird from the east, the man that executeth my counsel from a far country: yea, I have spoken it, I will also bring it to pass; I have purposed it, I will also do it.” Verse 9, the Lord asserts his own deity and eternal being, in opposition to all false gods and idols, whom he threatens to destroy, verse 1. Of this he gives them a threefold demonstration:—

First, From his prescience or foreknowledge: “There is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done;” — “In this am I infinitely discriminated from all the pretended deities of the nations. All things from the beginning to the end are naked before me, and I have declared them by my prophets, even things that are future and contingent in themselves. So are the things that I now speak of. The destruction of Babylon by the Medes and Persians is a thing to be carried on through innumerable contingencies; and yet as I have seen it so have I told it, and my counsel concerning it shall certainly be executed.”

Secondly, By his power, in using what instruments he pleaseth for the executing of his purposes and bringing about his own designs: “Calling a ravenous bird from the east;” — one that at first, when he went against Babylon, thought of nothing less than executing the counsel of God, but was wholly bent upon satisfying his own rapine and ambition, not knowing then in the least by whom he was anointed and sanctified for the accomplishment of his will. All the thoughts of his heart, all his consultations and actions, all his progresses and diversions, his success in his great and dreadful undertaking, to break in pieces that “hammer of the whole earth,” with all the free deliberations and contingencies wherewith his long war was attended, which were as many, strong, and various, as the nature of things is capable to receive, were not only in every individual act, with its minutest circumstances, by him foreseen, and much also foretold, but also managed in the hand of his power in a regular subservience to that call which he so gave that “ravenous bird” for the accomplishment of his purpose and pleasure.90

Thirdly, By the immutability of his purposes, which can never be frustrated nor altered: “My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure; — I have purposed it, and I will also do it.” The standing, or fixedness and unchangeableness, of his counsel, he manifests by the accomplishment of the things which therein he had determined; neither is there any salve for his immutability in his counsel, should it otherwise fall out. And if we may take his own testimony of himself, what he purposeth, that he doth; and in the actual fulfilling and the bringing about of things themselves purposed, and as purposed, without any possibility of diversion from the real end intended, is their stability and unchangeableness in them manifested. An imaginary immutability in God’s purposes, which may consist and be preserved under their utter frustration as to the fulfilling of the things themselves under which they are, the Scripture knows not, neither can reason conceive. Now, this unchangeableness of his purposes the Lord brings as one demonstration of his deity; and those who make them liable to alteration, upon any account or supposition whatsoever, do depress him, what in them lies, into the number of such dung-hill gods as he threatens to famish and destroy.

Ps. xxxiii. 9–11, “He spake, and it was done; he commanded, and it stood fast. The Lord bringeth the counsel of the heathen to nought: he maketh the devices of the people of none effect. The counsel of the Lord standeth for ever, the thoughts of his heart to all generations.” The production and establishment of all things in that order wherein they are, are by the psalmist ascribed to the will and power of God. By his word and command they not only are, but stand fast; being fixed in that order by him appointed. Both the making, fixing, and sustaining of all things, is by “the word of his power.” As the first relates to their being, which they have from creation, so the other to the order in subsistence and operation, which relates to his actual providence. Herein they stand fast. Themselves, with their several and respective relations, dependencies, influences, circumstances, suited to that nature and being which was bestowed on them by his word in their creation, are settled in an exact correspondency to his purposes (of which afterward), not to be shaken or removed. Heb. i. 3; Rev. iv. 11; Acts xvii. 28, ii. 23, iv. 28; Gen. l. 20; Eccles. iii. 11. Men have their devices and counsels also, they are free agents, and work by counsel and advice; and therefore God hath not set all things so fast as to overturn and overbear them in their imaginations and undertakings. Saith the psalmist, “They imagine and devise indeed, but their counsel is of nought, and their devices are of none effect; but the counsel of the Lord,” etc. The counsel and purposes of the Lord are set in opposition to the counsel and purposes of men, as to alteration, change, and frustration, in respect of the actual accomplishment of the things about which they are. “Their counsels are so and so; but the counsel of the Lord shall stand.” He that shall cast verse 11 into verse 10, and say, “The counsel of the Lord, that comes to nought, and the thoughts of his heart are of none effect,” let him make what pretences he will or flourishes that he can, or display what supposals and conditions he pleaseth, he will scarcely be able to keep the field against him who will contend with him about His prerogative and glory. And this antithesis between the counsels of men and the purposes of God upon the account of unchangeableness is again confirmed, Prov. xix. 21, “There are many devices in a man’s heart; nevertheless the counsel of the Lord, that shall stand.” Herein is the difference between the devices of men and the counsel of God: Men have many devices to try what they can do. If one way take not, they will attempt another (“hac non successit, alia aggrediemur via”), and are always disappointed, but only in that wherein they fall in with the will of God. The shallowness of their understanding, the shortness of their foresight, the weakness of their power, the changeableness of their minds, the uncertainty of all the means they use, puts them upon many devices, and often to no purpose.91 But for Him who is infinite in wisdom and power, to whom all things are present, and to whom nothing can fall out unexpected, yea, what he hath not himself determined, unto whom all emergencies are but the issue of his own good pleasure, who proportions out what efficacy he pleaseth unto the means he useth, — his counsels, his purposes, his decrees shall stand, being, as Job92 tells us, “as mountains of brass.” By this he differenceth himself from all others, idols and men; as also by his certain foreknowledge of what shall come to pass and be accomplished upon those purposes of his.93 Hence the apostle, Heb. vi. 17, 18, acquaints us that his promise and his oath, those “two immutable things,” do but declare ἀμετάθετον τῆς βουλῆς, “the unchangeableness of his counsel;” which God is abundantly willing to manifest, though men are abundantly unwilling to receive it. Job determines this business in Job xxiii. 13, 14, “He is of one mind, and who can turn him? what his soul desireth, even that he doeth. For he performeth the thing that is appointed for me.” Desires are the least and faintest kind of purposes, in Mr Goodwin’s distinctions; yet the certain accomplishment of them, as they are ascribed unto God, is here asserted by the Holy Ghost.

Were the confirmation of the matter of our present discourse my only design in hand, I could farther confirm it by enlarging these ensuing reasons:—

First, From the immutability of God, the least questioning whereof falls foul on all the perfections of the divine nature, which require a correspondent affection of all the internal and eternal acts of his mind and will.

Secondly, From his sovereignty, in making and executing all his purposes, which will not admit of any such mixture of consults or co-operations of others as should render his thoughts liable to alteration, Rom. xi. 33–36. The Lord in his purposes is considered as the great former of all things, who, having his clay in the hand of his almighty power, ordains every parcel to what kind of vessel and to what use he pleaseth. Hence the apostle concludes the consideration of them, and the distinguishing grace flowing from them, with that admiration, Ὦ Βάθος! — “O the depth!” etc.

Thirdly, From their eternity, which exempts them from all shadow of change, and lifts them up above all those spheres that either from within and in their own nature, or from without by the impression of others, are exposed to turning. That which is eternal is also immutable, Acts xv. 18; 1 Cor. ii. 7–11.

Fourthly, From the absoluteness and independency of his will, whereof they are the acts and emanations, Rom. ix. 15–21. Whatever hath any influence upon that, so as to move it, cause it, change it, must be before it, above it, better than it, as every cause is than its effect as such. This will of his, as was said, is the fountain of all being; to which free and independent act all creatures owe their being and subsistence, their operations and manner thereof, their whole difference from those worlds of beings which his power can produce, but which yet shall lie bound up to eternity in their nothingness and possibility, upon the account of his good pleasure. Into this doth our Saviour resolve the disposal of himself, Matt. xxvi. 42, and of all others, Matt chap. xi. 25, 26. Certainly men in their wrangling disputes and contests about it have scarce seriously considered with whom they have to do. “Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus?’

Fifthly, From the engagement of his omnipotency for the accomplishment of all his purposes and designs, as is emphatically expressed, Isa. xiv. 24–27, “The Lord of hosts hath sworn, saying, Surely as I have thought, so shall it come to pass; and as I have purposed, so shall it stand: that I will break the Assyrian in my land. This is the purpose that is purposed upon the whole earth; and this is the hand that is stretched out upon all the nations. For the Lord of hosts hath purposed, and who shall disannul it? and his hand is stretched out, and who shall turn it back?” The Lord doth not only assert the certain accomplishment of all his purposes, but also, to prevent and obviate the unbelief of them who were concerned in their fulfilling, he manifests upon what account it is that they shall certainly be brought to pass; and that is, by the stretching out of his hand, or exalting of his mighty power, for the doing of it; so that if there be a failing therein, it must be through the shortness of that hand of his so stretched out, in that it could not reach the end aimed at. A worm will put forth its strength for the fulfilling of that whereunto it is inclined; and the sons of men will draw out all their power for the compassing of their designs. If there be wisdom in the laying of them, and foresight of emergencies, they alter not, nor turn aside to the right hand or to the left, in the pursuit of them. And shall the infinitely wise, holy, and righteous thoughts and designs of God not have his power engaged for their accomplishment His infinite wisdom and understanding are at the foundation of them; they are the counsels of his will: Rom. xi. 34, “Who hath known his mind” in them? saith the apostle, “or who hath been his counsellor?” Though no creature can see the paths wherein he walks, nor apprehend the reason of the ways he is delighted in, yet this he lets us know, for the satisfying of our hearts and teaching of our inquiries, that his own infinite wisdom is in them all. I cannot but fear that sometimes men have” darkened counsel by words without knowledge,” in curious contests about the decrees and purposes of God, as though they were to be measured by our rule and line, and as though “by searching we could find out the Almighty unto perfection.” But he is wise in heart; he that contendeth with him, let him instruct him. Add, that this wisdom in his counsel is attended with infallible prescience of all that will fall in by the way, or in the course of the accomplishment of his purposes, and you will quickly see that there can be no possible intervenience, upon the account whereof the Lord should not engage his almighty power for their accomplishment. “He is of one mind, and who can turn him? He will work, and who shall let it?”

Sixthly, By demonstrating the unreasonableness, folly, and impossibility, of suspending the acts and purposes of the will of God upon any actings of the creatures soever; seeing it cannot be done without subjecting eternity to time, the First Cause to the second, the Creator to the creature, the Lord to the servant, disturbing the whole order of beings and operations in the world.

Seventhly, By the removal of all possible or imaginary causes of alteration and change, which will all be resolved into impotency in one kind or other; every alteration being confessedly an imperfection, it cannot follow but from want and weakness. Upon the issue of which discourse, if it might be pursued, these corollaries would ensue:—

First, Conditional promises and threatenings are not declarative of God’s purposes concerning persons, but of his moral approbation or rejection of things.

Secondly, There is a wide difference between the change of what is conditionally pronounced as to the things themselves and the change of what is determinately willed, the certainty of whose event is proportioned to the immutable acts of the will of God itself.

Thirdly, That no purpose of God is conditional, though the things themselves, concerning which his purposes are, are oftentimes conditionals one of another.

Fourthly, That conditional purposes concerning perseverance are either impossible, implying contradictions, or ludicrous, even to an unfitness for a stage. But of these and such like, as they occasionally fall in, in the ensuing discourse.

II. This foundation being laid, I come to what was secondly proposed, — namely, to manifest, by an induction of particular instances, the engagement of these absolute and immutable purposes of God as to the preservation of the saints in his favour to the end; and whatsoever is by Mr Goodwin excepted as to the former doctrine of the decrees and purposes of God, in that part of his treatise which falls under our consideration, shall, in the vindication of the respective places of Scripture to be insisted on, be discussed.

The first particular instance that I shall propose is that eminent place of the apostle, Rom. viii. 28, where you have the truth in hand meted out unto us, full measure, shaken together, and running over. It doth not hang by the side of his discourse, nor is left to be gathered and concluded from other principles and assertions couched therein, but is the main of the apostolical drift and design, it being proposed by him to make good, upon unquestionable grounds, the assurance he gives believers that “all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose;” the reason whereof he farther adds in the following words: “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.” What the good aimed at is, for which all things shall work together, and wherein it doth consist, he manifests in the conclusion of the argument produced to prove his first assertion: Rom 8:35–39, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation,” etc. The good of believers:, of them that love God, consists in the enjoyment of Christ and his love. Saith, then, the apostle, “God will so certainly order all things that they shall be preserved in that enjoyment of it whereunto in this life they are already admitted, and borne out through all oppositions to that perfect fruition thereof which they aim at; and this is so unquestionable, that the very things which seem to lie in the way of such an attainment and event shall work together, through the wisdom and love of God, to that end.” To make good this consolation, the apostle lays down two grounds or principles from whence the truth of it doth undeniably follow, the one taken from the description of the persons concerning whom he makes it, and the other from the acts of God’s grace, and their respective concatenation in reference to those persons.

The persons, he tells you, are those who are “called according to God’s purpose.” That their calling here mentioned is the effectual call of God, which is answered by faith and obedience, because it consists in the bestowing of them on the persons so called, taking away the heart of stone and giving a heart of flesh, is not only manifest from that place which afterward [it] receives in the golden chain of divine graces, between predestination and justification, whereby the one hath infallible influences into the other, but also from that previous description which is given of the same persons, namely, that they love God, which certainly is an issue and fruit of effectual calling, as shall afterward be farther argued; for to that issue are things driven in this controversy, that proofs thereof are become needful.

The “purpose” according to which these persons are called is none other than that which the apostle, Rom chap. ix:11, terms the “purpose of God according to election;” the “election of grace,” chap. xi. 5; as also the knowledge and “foundation of God,” 2 Tim. ii. 19; as will in the progress of our discourse be made farther appear, although I know not that this is as yet questioned. The immutability of this purpose of God, chap. ix. 11, 12, the apostle demonstrates from its independency on any thing in them or in respect of them concerning whom it is, it being eternal, and expressly safeguarded against apprehensions that might arise of any causal or occasional influence from any thing in them given thereunto, they lying under this condition alone unto God, as persons that had done neither good nor evil. And this, also, the apostle farther pursues from the sovereignty, absoluteness, and unchangeableness of the will of God. But these things are of another consideration.

Now, this unchangeable purpose and election being the fountain from whence the effectual calling of believers doth flow, the preservation of them to the end designed, the glory whereunto they are chosen, by those acts of grace and love whereby they are prepared thereunto, hath coincidence of infallibility as to the end aimed at with the purpose itself, nor is it liable to the least exception but what may be raised from the mutability and changeableness of God in his purposes and decrees. Hence, in the following verse, upon the account of the stability and immutability of this purpose of God, the utmost and most remote end in reference to the good thereby designed unto believers, though having its present subsistence only in that purpose of God and infallible concatenation of means thereunto conducing, is mentioned as a thing actually accomplished, Rom. viii. 30.

Herein, also, lies the apostle’s second eviction of consolation formerly laid down, even in the indissoluble concatenation of those acts of grace, love, and favour, whereby the persons of God’s purpose, or the “remnant according to the election of grace,” shall be infallibly carried on in their present enjoyment and unto the full fruition of the love of Christ. If we may take him upon his word (and he speaks in the name and authority of God), those whom he doth foreknow, or fixes his thoughts peculiarly upon from eternity (for the term these is evidently discriminated, and the act must needs be eternal which in order of nature is previous unto predestination, or the appointment to the end by means designed), those, I say, he doth predestinate and appoint, in the immutable purpose of his will, to be conformed unto the image of his Son, as in afflictions, so in grace and glory.

To fancy a suspension of these acts of grace (some whereof are eternal) upon conditionals, and they not intimated in the least in the text, nor consistent with the nature of the things themselves or the end intended, casting the accomplishment and bringing about of the designs of God, proposed as his for our consolation, upon the certain lubricity of the wills of men, and thereupon to propose an intercision of them as to their concatenation and dependence, that they should not have a certain influence on the one hand descending, nor an unchangeable dependence on the other ascending, may easily be made to appear to be so plain an opposition to the aim and design of the apostle as it is possibly capable of. But because these things are really insisted on by Mr Goodwin, I shall choose rather to remove them, — as with much rhetoric, and not without some sophistry, they are by him pressed, — than farther anticipate them, by arguments from the text itself, of their invalidity and nullity.

The discussion of our argument from this place of Scripture he enters upon, chap. x. sect. 42, p. 207, and pursues it, being much entangled with what himself is pleased to draw forth as the strength of it, unto sect. 52, p. 219.

Now, though Mr Goodwin hath not at all mentioned any analysis of the place insisted on, for the making out of the truth we believe, to be intended in it, nor ever once showed his reader the face of our argument from hence, but only drawn something of it forth in such divided parcels as he apprehended himself able to blur and obscure, yet to make it evident that he hath not prevailed to foil that part of the strength of truth (his adversary) which he voluntarily chose to grapple withal, I shall consider that whole discourse, and manifest the nullity of his exceptions unto this testimony given in by the apostle to the truth we have in hand.

To obtain his end, Mr Goodwin undertaketh these two things:— first, To give in an exposition of the place of Scripture insisted on, “whence no such conclusion as that which he opposeth,” saith he, “can be drawn;” secondly, To give in exceptions to our interpretation of it, and the inferences thereupon by us deduced. The first [is] in these, words:—

“For the scope of the apostle, in the sequel of this passage, is clearly this, as the particle ‘for’ in the beginning of verse 29 plainly showeth, to prove and make good that assertion of his, verse 28, that ‘all things work together for good to those that love God.’ To prove this he showeth by what method and degrees of dispensations God will bring it to pass. ‘Whom he foreknows,’ saith he, that is, pre-approves (the word ‘knowledge’ frequently in Scripture importing approbation), as he must needs do those that love him, ‘these he predestinates to be conformed to the image of his Son;’ and therefore as all things, even his deepest sufferings, wrought together for good unto him, so must they needs do unto those who are predestinated or pre-ordinated by God to a conformity with him. ‘To give you yet,’ saith our apostle, ‘a farther and more particular account how God, in the secret of his counsels, hath laid things in order to the bringing of them unto an actual conformity with the image of his Son, to wit, in glory, whom he predestinated thereunto (who are such as love him, and thereupon are approved by him), you are to understand that whom he hath so predestinated he hath also called, — that is, hath purposed or decreed to call to the knowledge of his Son or of his gospel, — that is, to afford a more plain and effectual discovery of him unto them than unto others whom he hath not so predestinated.’ By the way, this call doth not necessarily suppose a saving answer given unto it by the called, no whit more than the calling mentioned, Matt. xx. 16, xxii. 14. It only supposeth a real purpose on God’s part to make it very sufficient to procure such an answer to it from those that are called. The apostle advanceth towards his proposed end, and addeth, ‘Those whom he called, them he also justified;’ that is, according to our last exposition of the word ‘called,’ he hath purposed or decreed to justify, — to wit, in case the called obstruct him not in his way, or by their unbelief render not themselves incapable of justification. The clause following is likewise to be understood with the like proviso as this: ‘Whom he hath justified, them he also glorified;’ that is, hath purposed or decreed to save, in case they retain the grace of justification, confirmed upon them to the end.”

Ans. First, let it be granted that the design of the apostle is to make good that assertion, “All things work together for good to them that love God,” and the consolation for believers which thence he holds forth unto them; yet he doth not only show by what method, degrees, or steps, God will bring it to pass, but also, as the fountain of all that ensues, lays down the unalterable purpose of God concerning that end, which is intended in and accomplished by all those steps or degrees of his effectual grace after mentioned. This Mr Goodwin passeth over, as not to be wrested into any tolerable conformity with that sense (if there be any sense in the whole of what he insists upon for the sense of this place) which he intends to rack and press the words unto. To save stumbling at the threshold (which is malum omen), he leaps at once over the consideration of this purpose and design of God, as aiming at a certain end, without the least touch upon it. Farther, that God will bring it to pass that all things shall work together for good to them that love him, is not intended by Mr Goodwin as though it should infallibly be so indeed, but only that God will so way-lay them with some advantages that it may be so, as well as otherwise. What consolation believers may receive from this whole discourse of the apostle, intended properly to administer it unto them, as it lies under the gloss ensuing, shall be discovered in our following consideration of it. Thus, then, he makes it out:—

“Whom he foreknows, that is, pre-approves (the word ‘knowledge’ in Scripture frequently importing approbation), as he must needs do those that love him, them he predestinates.”

Ans. First, That to “know” is sometimes taken in Scripture for to approve may be granted; but that the word here used must therefore signify to pre-approve is an assertion which I dare not pretend to so much foreknowledge as to think that any one besides himself will approve. Mr Goodwin, I doubt not, knows full well that prepositions in Greek composition do often restrain simple verbs, formerly at liberty for other uses, to one precise signification. The word προγινώσκω, in its constant sense in other authors, is “præscio” or “prædecerno;” γινώσκω itself, “to determine or decree;” so is “scisco” among the Latins, the ancient word “to know.” So he in Plautus: “Rogitationes plurimas propter vos populus scivit, quas vos rogates rumpitis.”94 And nothing more frequent in Cicero. “Quæ scisceret plebs, aut quæ populus juberet,” etc.; and again, “Quod multa perniciose, multa pestifere sciscuntur in populus;” and, “Plancus primus legem scivit de publicanis.”95 In like manner is γινώσκω frequently used: Ἔγνωσαν τοῦτο μὴ ποιεῖν? — “They determined not to do that thing.”96 Ἄδικα ἔγνωκε περὶ ἐμοῦ ὁ Ζεύς, says he in Lucian; — “He hath determined unrighteous things against me.”97 Hence, γνώμη is often taken for a decree, or an established purpose, as Budæus manifesteth out of Plutarch. In Scripture the word is sundry times used, and still in the sense before mentioned; sometimes for a simple foreknowledge. So Paul uses it of the Jews who knew him before his conversion: Acts xxvi. 5, Προγινώσκοντές. It relates not to what they foreknew, but what they knew before, or in former days. And as the simple verb, as was showed, is often taken for “decerno, statuo,” “to decree, order, or determine,” so with this composition it seems most to be restrained to that sense. 1 Pet. i. 20, it is said of Christ that he was προεγνωσμένος πρὸ καταβολῆς κόσμου, — he was “foreknown,” or “fore-ordained, before the foundation of the world;’ which is opposed to that which follows, φανερωθεὶς δὲ ἐπ’ ἐσχάτων τῶν χρόνων δι’ ὑμᾶς, — “manifested in the last times for you,” — and relates to the decree or fore-purpose of God concerning the giving of his Son. Hence πρόγνωσις is joined with ὡρισμένῃ βουλῆ, God’s “determinate counsel,” as a word of the same importance: Acts ii. 23, Τοῦτον δὲ ὡρισμένῃ βουλῇ καὶ προγνώσει, etc.: if there be any difference, the first designing the wisdom, the latter the will, of God in this business. In Rom. xi. 2 it hath again the same signification: “God hath not cast off τὸν λαόν αὑτοῦ ὅν προέγνω,” or the remnant which among the obstinate and unbelieving Jews were under his everlasting purpose of grace; in which place, causelessly and without any attempt of proof, the Remonstrants wrest the word to signify pre-approbation, Dec. Sent., art. 1, the whole context and design of the apostle, the terms “remnant” and “election,” whereby the same thing is afterward expressed, undeniably forcing the proper acceptation of the word. Not only the original sense and composition of the word, but also the constant use of it in the Scripture, leads us away from the interpretation here pinned upon it.

Farther; what is the meaning of pre-approving? God’s approving of any person as to their persons is his free and gracious acceptation of them in Christ. His pre-approving of them in answer hereunto must be his eternal gracious acceptation of them in Christ. But is this Mr Goodwin’s intendment? Doth God accept any in Christ antecedently to their predestination, calling, and justification (for they are all consequential to this act of pre-approbation)? This, then, is that which is affirmed: God approves and accepts of men in Christ; thereupon he predestinates, calls, and justifies them. But what need [for] all these if they be antecedently accepted? I should have expected that this foreknowledge should have been resolved rather into a middle or conditionate prescience than into this pre-approbation, but that our great masters were pleased (in the place newly cited), though without any attempt of proof, to carry it another way. That God should approve of, love, accept persons, antecedently to their predestination, vocation, and justification, is, doubtless, not suitable to Mr Goodwin’s principles; but that they should love God also before they fall under these acts of his grace is not only openly contradictions to the truth, but also to itself. The phrase here of “loving God” is confessedly a description of believers; now, to suppose men believers, that is, to answer the call of God, antecedently to his call, will scarce be salved from a flat contradiction with any reserved considerations that may be invented.

This solid foundation being laid, he proceeds: “Those who thus love him, and he approves of them, he predestinates to be conformed to the image of his Son.” It is true, the apostle speaks of them and to them that “love God,” but doth not, in the least, suppose them as such to be the objects of the acts of his sovereign grace after mentioned. If God call none but those that love him antecedently to his call, that grace of his must eternally rest in his own bosom, without the least exercise of it towards any of the sons of men. It is those persons, indeed, who, in the process of the work of God’s grace towards them, are brought to love him, that are thus predestinated and called; but they are so dealt withal, not upon the account or consideration of their love of God (which is not only in order consequential to some of them, but the proper effect and product of them), but upon the account of the unchangeable purpose of God appointing them to salvation; — which I doubt not but Mr Goodwin studiously and purposely omitted to insist upon, knowing its absolute inconsistency with the conclusion (and yet not able to waive it, had it been once brought under consideration) which from the words he aimeth to extract. As, then, to make men’s loving of God to be antecedent to the grace of vocation is an express contradiction in itself; so to make it, or the consideration of it, to be previous unto predestination is an insinuation of a gross Pelagian figment, giving rise and spring to God’s eternal predestination, not in his own sovereign will, but the self-differencing wills of men. “Latet anguis” also in the adding “grass” of that exegetical term “pre-ordinated,” — predestinated, that is, pre-ordinated. Though the word, being considered in the language whereof it is, seems not to give occasion to any suspicion, yet the change of it from pre-ordained into pre-ordinated is not to be supposed to be for nothing in him who is expert at these weapons To ordain is either “ordinare ut aliquid fiat,” or “ordinem in factis statuere,” or, according to some, “subjectum disponere ad finem.” To pre-ordain is of necessity precisely tied up to the first sense; — to pre-ordinate, I fear, in Mr Goodwin’s sense, is but to predispose men by some good inclinations in themselves, and men pre-ordinated are but men so predisposed; which is the usual gloss that men of this persuasion put upon Acts xiii. 48.

Thus far, then, we have carried on the sense affixed to these words, if it may so be called, which is evidently contradictious in itself, and in no one particular suited to the mind of the Holy Ghost.

He proceeds: “ ‘To give you yet,’ saith our apostle, ‘a farther and more particular account how God, in the secret of his counsel, hath belaid things in order,’ ” etc.

This expression, “God hath belaid things in order to the salvation of them that love him,” is the whole of the assurance here given by the apostle to the assertion formerly laid down for the consolation of believers; and this, according to the analogy and proportion of our author’s faith, amounts only thus far: “You that love God, if you continue so to do, you will fall under his predestination; and if you abide under that, he will call you, so as that you may farther obey him, or you may not. If you do obey him, and believe upon his call (having loved him before), he will justify you; not with that justification which is final, of which you may come short, but with initial justification; which if you continue in and walk up unto, solvite curas when you are dead in your graves.” This is called God’s belaying of things in his secret counsel; whereby the total accomplishment of the first engagement is cut off from the root of God’s purposes, and from the branches of his effectual grace in the pursuit thereof, and grafted upon the wild olive of the will of man, that never did, nor ever will, bear any wholesome fruit of itself to eternity. What is afterward added of the qualification of those whom God predestinates, being an intrusion of another false hypothesis, for the confirmation of an assertion of the same alloy, is not of my present consideration. But he adds, “Ye are to understand that whom he hath predestinated he hath also called, hath purposed or decreed to call, to the knowledge of his Son, or his gospel,” as before, etc.

Ans. How he hath predestinated them is not expressed, but being so predestinated, God purposes to call them; — that is, them and only them; for it is a uniform proceeding of God towards all whom he attempts to bring to himself which is here described. That is, when men love him and are approved of him, and are thereupon pre-ordinated to conformity with Christ, then he decrees to call them, or, as the calling here mentioned is described (that ye may not mistake, as though any internal effectual work of grace were hereby intended, but only an outward moral persuasion, by a revelation of the object they should embrace), “he gives a more plain and effectual discovery of Christ to them than to any others.” Doubtless it is evident to every one that (besides the great confusion whereinto the proceedings of God in bringing sinners to himself, or belaying their coming with some kind entertainments, are cast) the whole work of salvation is resolved into the wills of men; and instead of an effectual, operative, unchangeable purpose of God, nothing is left on his part but a moral approbation of what is well done, and a proposing of other desirable things unto men upon the account of former worthy carriage. And this is no small part of the intendment of our author in this undertaking.

That God decrees to call them, and only them, who love him, and upon that account are approved of him, when all faith and love are the fruits of that calling of his, is such a figment as I shall not need to cast away words in the confutation of it.98

Yet, lest any should have too high thoughts of this grace of vocation, he tells them by the way “that it doth not necessarily suppose a saving answer given to it by the called, no whit more than the calling mentioned, Matt. xx. 16, xxii. 14.”

First, By Mr Goodwin’s confession there is as yet no great advance made towards the proof of the assertion laid down in the entrance, and for the confirmation whereof this series and concatenation of divine graces is insisted on. Though men love God, are predestinated and accepted, yet when it comes to calling they may stop there and perish everlastingly; for “many are called, but few chosen.” They are indeed belaid by a calling, but they may miss the place of its residence, or refuse to accept of its entertainment, and pass on to ruin. But, —

Secondly, They are so called as upon the account thereof to be justified; for “whom he calls, them he also justifies.” “Yea, in case they obey.” But this is the interpretation of the new apostle, not the old; neither hath the text any such supposition, nor will the context bear it, nor can the design of the apostle consist with it, nor any more consolation be squeezed from this place upon the account of it than of milk from a flint in the rock of stone. Neither, —

Thirdly, Doth the calling here mentioned hold any analogy with that of the many that are called but not chosen, pointed at in the second place instanced in, being indeed the effectual calling of the few who are chosen: for as our Saviour, in those places of Matthew, mentioned two sorts of persons, some that have a general call, but are not chosen, and others that, being chosen, are therefore distinguished from the former as to their vocation; so Paul here tells you that the calling he insists on is the peculiar call of God “according to his purpose” (the same purpose intimated by our Saviour); which, being suited of God to the carrying on and accomplishing of that purpose of his, must be effectual, unless he through mutability and impotency come short of accomplishing the design of his will and wisdom.

Neither is this salved by what follows, “that it is the intention of God to make this call sufficient for the end purposed;” yea, this part of the wallet is most filled with folly and falsehood: for as general purposes of giving means for an end, with an intention to bring that end about, that may or may not attain it, are most remote from God, and, being supposed, are destructive to all his holy and blessed attributes and perfections, as hath been shown; so the thing itself, of sufficient grace of vocation, which is not effectual, is a gross figment, not, whilst this world continues, by Mr Goodwin to be made good, the most of his arguments being importunate suggestions of his own hypothesis and conceptions. But he goes on, —

“The apostle advanceth towards his proposed end, and adds, ‘Those whom he called, them he also justified,’ or decreed to justify, in case the called obstruct him not in his way, or by their unbelief render not themselves incapable of justification.”

Ans. That exception, “In case they obstruct him not,” is a clue to lead us into all the corners of this labyrinth, and a key to the whole design in hand. Such a supposal it is as not only enervates the whole discourse of the apostle and frustrates his design, but also opens a door for the questioning of the accomplishment of any purpose or promise of God whatever, and, in one word, rejects the whole efficacy of the grace of the gospel, as a thing of naught. What strength is there in the discourse and arguing of the apostle, from the purpose and ensuing series of God’s grace, to prove that “all things shall work together for good to them that love God,” if the whole issue and event of things mentioned to that end depend not on the efficacy or effectual influences of those acts of God, one upon another, and all upon the end, they being all and every one of them, jointly and severally, suspended upon the wills of the persons themselves concerning whom they are (which yet here is concealed, and [not] intimated in the least)? How doth it prove at all that they shall never be separated from the love of Christ, that they shall be made conformable to him in glory, notwithstanding all opposition, upon the account of the dispensation of God’s eternal and actual love towards them, when the whole of their usefulness to the end proposed is resolved ultimately into themselves and their endeavours, and not into any purpose or set of God? Such as is the foundation, such is the strength of the whole building. Inferences can have no more strength than the principle from whence they are deduced. If a man should tell another that if he will go a journey of a hundred miles, at each twenty miles’ end he shall meet with such and such refreshments, all the consolation he can receive upon the account of refreshments provided for him is proportioned only to the thoughts he hath of his own strength for the performance of that journey.

Farther; if in such expressions of the purposed works of God, we may put cases and trust in what supposals we think good, where there is not the least jot, tittle, or syllable of them in the text, nor any room for them, without destroying not only the design and meaning of the place, but the very sense of it, why may not we do so in other undertakings of God, the certainty of whose event depends upon his purpose and promise only? For instance, the resurrection of the dead: may we not say, God will raise up the dead in Christ, in case there be any necessity that their bodies should be glorified? What is it, also, that remains of praise to the glorious grace of God? This is all he effects by it: In case men obstruct him not in his way, it doth good. God calls men to faith and obedience; in case they obstruct not his way, it shall do them good. But how do they obstruct his way? By unbelief and disobedience: take them away, and God’s calling shall be effectual to them. That is, in case they believe and obey, God’s calling shall be effectual to cause them to believe and obey!

The cases then foisted into the apostle’s discourse, in the close of this interpretation of the place (if I may so call it), — namely, that God will justify the called in case they obstruct not his way, and will glorify them whom he hath justified in ease they continue and abide in the state of justification, — are, first, thrust in without ground, warrant, or colour of advantage, or occasion given by any thing in the text or context; — and, secondly, are destructive to the whole design of the Holy Ghost in the place whereinto they are intruded; injurious to the truth of the assertion intended to be made good, that “all things shall work together for good,” proposed upon the account of the unchangeable purpose of God, and infallible connection of the acts of his love and grace in the pursuit thereof; and resolve the promised work and designed event wholly into the uncertain, lubricous wills of men, making the assurance given not only to be liable to just exceptions, but evidently to fail and be falsified in respect of thousands; — and, thirdly, render the whole dispensation of the grace of God to lackey after the wills of men, and wholly to depend upon them, giving in thereby, as was said, innumerable presumptions that the word, for whose confirmation all these acts of God’s grace are mentioned and insisted on, shall never be made good or established.

Take, then, in a few words, the sense and scope of this place, as it is held out in the exposition given of it by Mr Goodwin, and we will then proceed to consider his confirmations of the said exposition: “O ye that love God, many afflictions, temptations, and oppositions, ye shall meet withal; but be of good comfort, all shall work together for your good, for God hath appointed you to be like his Son, and ye may triumph in every condition on this account. For if ye, before any act of his special grace towards you, love him, he approves you, and then he predestinates you” (what that is I know not). “Then it is in your power to continue to love him, or to do otherwise. If ye abide not, then ye perish: if ye abide, he will call you. And when he doth so, either ye may obey him or ye may not, If ye do not, all things shall work together for your hurt, and ye will be like the devil; — if ye do, then he will justify you; and then, if ye abide with him, as perhaps ye may, perhaps ye may not, he will finally justify you, and then all shall be well.” This being the substance of the interpretation of this place here given, let us now consider how it is confirmed.

That which, in his own terms, he undertaketh to “demonstrate,” and to “vindicate from all objections,” in his ensuing discourse, he thus expresseth, page 209, sect. 43: “These decrees, or purposed acts of God, here specified, are to be understood in their successive dependencies, with such a condition or proviso respectively as those mentioned, and not absolutely, peremptorily, or without condition.”

Ans. The imposing of conditions and provisos upon the decrees and purposes of God, of which himself gives not the least intimation, and the suspending them, as to their execution, on those conditions so invented and imposed, at the first view reflects so evidently on the will, wisdom, power, prescience, and unchangeableness of God, who hath said, “his counsel shall stand, and he will do all his pleasure,” especially when the interruption of them doth frustrate the whole design and aim of God in the mentioning of those decrees and purposes of his, that there will be need of demonstrations written with the beams of the sun to enforce men tender and regardful of the honour and glory of God to close with any in such an undertaking. Let us, then, consider what is produced to this end, and try if it will hold weight in the balance of the sanctuary. “This,” saith he, “appears, —

“First, By the like phrase or manner of expression, frequent in the Scripture elsewhere. I mean, when such purposes or decrees of God, the respective execution whereof is suspended upon such and such conditions, are, notwithstanding, simply and positively, without any mention of condition, expressed and asserted: ‘Wherefore the Lord God of Israel saith, I said indeed that try house, and the house of thy father, shall walk before me’ (meaning in the office and dignity of the priesthood) ‘for ever: but now saith the Lord, Be it far from me.’ ‘I said indeed;’ that is, ‘I verily purposed or decreed,’ or ‘I promised:’ it comes much to one. When God made the promise, and so declared his promise accordingly, that Eli and his father’s house should walk before him for ever, he expressed no condition as required to the execution or performance of it, yet here it plainly appears that there was a condition understood. In the same kind of dialect Samuel speaks to Saul: ‘Thou hast done foolishly: thou hast not kept the commandment of the Lord thy God: for now the Lord had established try kingdom upon Israel for ever; but now try kingdom shall not continue.’ ‘The Lord had established;’ that is, he verily purposed or decreed to establish it for ever, — to wit, in case his posterity had walked obediently with him.”

Here we have the strength (as will be manifest in the progress of our discourse) of what Mr Goodwin hath to make good his former strange assertion. Whether it will amount to a necessary proof or no may appear upon these ensuing considerations:—

First, The reason intimated being taken neither from the text under debate, nor the context, nor any other place where any concernment of the doctrine therein contained is touched or pointed at, there being also no coincidence of phrase or expression in the one place and the other here compared, I cannot but admire by what rules of interpretation Mr Goodwin doth proceed to make one of these places exegetical of the other. Though this way of arguing hath been mainly and almost solely insisted on of late by the Socinians, — namely, “Such a word is in another place used to another purpose, or in another sense, therefore this cannot be the necessary sense of it in this,” — yet it is not only confuted over and over as irrational and unconcluding, but generally exploded as an invention suited only to shake all certainty whatever in matters of faith and revelation. Mr Goodwin in his instance goes not so far (or rather he goes farther, because his instance goes not so far), there being no likeness, much less sameness of expression, in those texts which he produces to weaken the obvious and literally-exposed sense of the other insisted on therewith.

To waive the force of the inference from the words of the Holy Ghost (seeing nothing in the least intimated in the place will give in any assistance thereunto), first, this thesis is introduced: “The purposes and decrees of God (confessedly engaged in the place in hand) are, as to their respective executions, suspended on conditions in men;” — an assertion destructive to the power, goodness, grace, righteousness, faithfulness, wisdom, unchangeableness, providence, and sovereignty, of God, as might be demonstrated did it now lie in our way. To prove that this must needs be so, and that that rule must take place in the mention that is made of the purposes and decrees of God, Rom. viii. 28–30, 1 Sam. ii. 30 is produced, being a denunciation of God’s judgments upon the house of Eli for their unworthy walking in the honour of the priesthood, whereunto they were by him advanced and called, and which they were intrusted withal, expressly upon condition of their obedience.

Let us, then, a little consider the correspondency that is between the places compared for their mutual illustration:—

First, In the one there is express mention of the purpose of God, and that his eternal purpose; in the other, only a promise, expressly conditional in the giving of it, amounting to no more than a law, without the least intimation of any purpose or decree.

Secondly, The one encompasseth the whole design of the grace of the gospel; the other mentions not any special grace at all.

Thirdly, The one is wholly expressive of the acts of God, and his design therein; the other declarative of the duty of man, with the issue, thereupon depending.

This, then, is the strength of this argument: “God, approving the obedience of a man, tells him that upon the continuance of that obedience in him and his, he will continue them an office in his service (a temporal mercy, which might be enjoyed without the least saving grace); and which upon his disobedience he threateneth to take from him (both promise and threatening being declarative of his approbation of obedience, and his annexing the priesthood thereunto in that family): therefore God, intending the consolation of elect believers, affirms that all things shall work together for their good, upon this account, that he hath eternally purposed to preserve them in his love, and to bring them to himself by such effectual acts of his grace as whose immutable dependence one upon the other, and all upon his own purpose, cannot be interrupted, and therefore such as shall infallibly produce and work in them all the obedience which for the end proposed he requires; — his purpose, I say, thus mentioned, must be of the same import with the declaration of his will in the other place spoken of.” If such a confounding of the decrees and denunciations, absolute purposes and conditional promises, spiritual things with temporal, and the general administration of the covenant of grace in Christ with special providential dispensations, may be allowed, there is no man needs to despair of proving any thing he hath a mind to assert.

Secondly, There are two things that Mr Goodwin insists upon, to make good his arguing from this place:— First, That these words, “I said indeed,” hold out the real purpose and decree of God. Secondly, That in the promise mentioned there was no condition expressed or required to the execution or performance of it.

By the first he intends that God did really purpose and decree from eternity that Eli and his house should hold the priesthood for ever; by the second, that no condition was expressed, either in terms, or necessarily implied in the thing itself, which is of the same import.

If neither of these, now, should prove true, what little advance Mr Goodwin hath made for the weakening of the plain intendment of the words in the place under consideration, or for the confirmation of his own gloss and interposed conditionals, either by this or the following instances, that are of the same kind, will plainly appear. Now, that these words, “I said indeed,” are not declarative of an eternal decree and purpose of God concerning the futurition and event of what is asserted to be the object of that decree, the continuance of the priesthood in the house of Eli, may be evidenced, as from the general nature of the things themselves, so from the particular explanation of the act of God whereunto this expression, “I said indeed,” doth relate.

First, From the general nature of the thing itself this may be manifested. To what hath been formerly spoken I shall add only some few considerations, being not willing to insist long on that which is but collateral to my present design.

First, then, When God decreed and purposed this (if so be he purposed it, as it is said he did), he either foresaw what would be the issue of it, or he did not. If he did not, where is his infinite wisdom and understanding? — if we may not be allowed to say his foreknowledge. How are “all his works known to him from the beginning of the world?”99 How doth he “declare the end from the beginning, and the things that are yet to come?” distinguishing himself from all false gods on this account, If he did foresee the event, that it would not be so, why did he decree and purpose it should be so? Doth this become the infinite wisdom of God, to purpose and decree from all eternity that that shall come to pass which he knows will never come to pass? Can any such resolution fall upon the sons of men, to whom God is pleased to continue the use of that little spark of reason wherewith they are endued? If you say, “God purposed it should continue in case their disobedience hindered it not,” I ask again, Did God foresee the disobedience that would so hinder it, or did he not? If he did not, the same difficulties will arise which formerly I mentioned. If he did, then God decreed and purposed that the priesthood should continue in the house of Eli, if they kept themselves from that disobedience which he saw and knew full well they would run into! Cui fini?

Secondly, If God did thus purpose and decree, he was able to bring it about, and accomplish his design by ways agreeable to his goodness, wisdom, and righteousness, or he was not. If he was not, where is his omnipotency, who is not able to fulfil his righteous designs and purposes in ways corresponding to that state of agents and things which he hath allotted them? How can it be said of him, “He will work, and none shall let him?” That God engageth his power for the accomplishment of his purposes was showed before. If he were able to accomplish it, why did he not do it, but suffer himself to he frustrated of his end? Is it suitable to the sovereign will and wisdom of God eternally to purpose and decree that which, by means agreeable to his holiness and goodness, he is able to bring to pass, and yet not to do it, but to fail and come short of his holy and gracious intendment?

Thirdly, The obedience of the house of Eli, on which the accomplishment of the pretended decree is suspended, was such as either they were able of themselves to perform, or they were not. To say they were, is to exclude the necessary assistance of the grace of God, which Mr Goodwin hath not in terms declared himself to do, nor are we as yet arrived at that height, though a considerable progress hath been made. If they were not able to do it without the assistance of the Spirit and concurrence of the grace of God, did the Lord purpose to give them that assistance, working in them both to will and to do of his own good pleasure, or did he not? If he did so purpose, why did he not do it? If he did not purpose to do it, to what end did he decree that that should come to pass which he knew could not come to pass without his doing that which he was resolved newer to do? It is all one as if a man knew that another were shut up in a prison, from whence it was impossible that any body but himself should deliver him, and should resolve and purpose to give the poor prisoner a hundred pounds, so that he would come out of prison to him, and resolve withal never to bring him out.

Fourthly, God from eternity foresaw that the priesthood should not be continued to the house of Eli; therefore he did not from eternity purpose and decree that it should. To know that a thing shall not be, and to determine that it shall be, is a σχέσις rather beseeming a half frantic creature than the infinitely wise Creator. Again; upon what account did God foresee that it should not be so? Can the futurition of contingent events be resolved in the issue into any thing but God’s sovereign determination? God, therefore, did not determine and purpose that it should be so, because he determined and purposed that it should not be so. Whatsoever he doth in time, that he purposed to do from eternity. Now, in time he removed the priesthood from the house of Eli; therefore he eternally purposed and determined so to do: which surely leaves no place for a contrary purpose and decree (not so much as conditional) that it should so continue for ever. The truth is, the mystery of this abomination lies in those things which lie not in my way now to handle. A disjunctive decree, a middle science, creature-dependency, are father, mother, and nurse, of the assertion we oppose, whose monstrous deformity and desperate rebellion against the properties of God I may, the Lord assisting, hereafter more fully demonstrate.

But you will say, “Doth not the Lord plainly hold out a purpose and decree in these words, ‘I said indeed?’ Did he say it? Will you assign hypocrisy to him, and doubling with the sons of men?”

I say, then, secondly, that the expression here used holds out no intention or purpose of God as to the futurition and event of the thing itself, that the priesthood should continue in the house of Eli, but only his purpose and intention that obedience and the priesthood should go together. There is a connection of things, not an intendment or purpose of events, in the words intimated. The latter cannot be ascribed to God without the charge of as formal mutability as the poorest creature is liable to. Mr Goodwin, indeed, tells you, sect. 43, p. 209, “That the purpose of God itself, considered as an act or conception of the mind of God, dependeth not on any condition whatever; and all God’s purposes and decrees, without exception, are in such respect absolute and independent.” How weak and unable this is to free the Lord from a charge of changeableness upon his supposal needs little pains to demonstrate. The conceptions of the minds of the sons of men, and their purposes as such, are as absolutely free and unconditional as the nature of a creature will admit; only the execution of our purposes and resolves is suspended upon the intervention of other things, which render them all conditional. And this, it seems, is the state with God himself, although in the Scripture he most frequently distinguisheth himself from the sons of men on this account, that they purpose at the greatest rate of uncertainty imaginable, as to the accomplishment of their thoughts, and therefore are frequently disappointed, but his purposes and his counsels stand for ever: so Ps. xxxiii. 10, 11. The expression then here, “I said,” relates plainly to the investiture of Aaron and his seed in the priesthood. There was a twofold engagement made to the house of Aaron about that office, — one in general to him and his sons, the other in particular to Phinehas and his posterity. The latter to Phinehas is far more expressive and significant than the other. You have it Numb. xxv. 11–13, “Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, hath turned my wrath away from the children of Israel, while he was zealous for my sake among them, that I consumed not the children of Israel in my jealousy. Wherefore say, Behold, I give unto him my covenant of peace: and he shall have it, and his seed after him, even the covenant of an everlasting priesthood; because he was zealous for his God, and made an atonement for the children of Israel.” Here is a promise indeed, and no condition in terms expressed; — but yet being made and granted upon the condition of obedience, which is clearly expressed once and again, that the continuance of it was also suspended on that condition, as to the glory and beauty of that office, the thing principally intended, cannot be doubted; yea, it is sufficiently pressed in the occasion of the promise and fountain thereof. But this was not that promise wherein Eli’s was particularly concerned. Indeed, his posterity was rejected in order to the accomplishment of this promise, the seed of Phinehas returning to their dignity, from whence they fell by the interposition of the house of Ithamar.

That which this expression here peculiarly relates unto is the declaration of the mind of God concerning the priesthood of Aaron and his posterity, which you have Exod. xxviii. 43, xxix. 9, where the confirming them in their office is called “a perpetual statute,” or “a law for ever.” The signification of the term “for ever,” the Hebrew especially, relating to legal institution, is known. Their “eternity” is long since expired. That, then, which God here emphatically expresses as an act of grace and favour to the house of Aaron, which Eli and his had an interest in, was that statute or law of the priesthood, and his purpose and intention (not concerning the event of things, not that it should continue in any one branch of that family, but) of connecting it with their obedience and faithfulness in that office. It is very frequent with God to express his approbation of our duty under terms holding out the event that would be the issue of the duty, though it never come to pass; and his approbation or rejection of the sons of men under terms that hold out the end of their disobedience, though it be prevented or removed. In this latter case he commands Jonah to cry, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown;” not that he purposed the destruction of Nineveh at that time, but only effectually to hold out the end their sin, that it might be a means to turn them from it, and to prevent that end, which it would otherwise procure. His purpose was to prevent, at least prorogue, the ruin of Nineveh; and therefore [he] made use of threatening them with ruin, that they might not be ruined. To say that God purposed not the execution of his purpose but in such and such cases, is a plain contradiction. The purpose is of execution, and to say he purposed not the execution of his purpose, is to say plainly he purposed and purposed not, or he purposed not what he purposed. The examples of Pharaoh and Abraham, in the precepts given to them, are proofs of the former. But I must not insist upon particulars.

This, then, is all that here is intended: God making a law, a statute, about the continuance of the priesthood in the family of Aaron, affirms that then he said “his house should walk before him for ever;” that is, with approbation and acceptation, for as to the right of the priesthood, that still continued in the house of Aaron, whilst it continued, notwithstanding the ejection of Eli and his. Now, whether there were any conditions in the promise made, which is Mr Goodwin’s second improvement of this instance, may appear from the consideration of what hath been spoken concerning it. It is called “a law and statute,” “the act.” On that account, whatever it were that God here points unto is but a moral legislative act, and not a physical determining act of the will of God, and, being a law of privilege in its own nature, it involves a condition; which the acts of God’s will, vital and eternal, wherewith this law is compared, do openly disavow.

Let us now see the parallel between the two places insisted on for the explanation of the former of them; which, as it will appear by the sequel, is the only buckler wherewith Mr Goodwin defends his hypothesis from the irresistible force of the argument wherewith he hath to do:— First, The one speaks of things spiritual, the other of things temporal; secondly, The one of what God will do, and the other of what he approves to be done, being done; thirdly, The one holds out God’s decree and purpose concerning events, the other his law and statute concerning duties; fourthly, The one not capable of interposing conditionals without perverting the whole design of God revealed in that place, the other directly including conditions; fifthly, The one speaking of things themselves, the other only of the manner of a thing; sixthly, In the one God holds out what he will do for the good of his, upon the account of the efficacy of his grace; in the other, what men are to do if they will be approved of him. And how one of these places can be imagined to be suited for the illustration and interpretation of the other, which agree neither in name nor thing, word nor deed, purpose nor design, must be left to the judgment of those who desire to ponder these things, and to weigh them in the balance of the sanctuary.

The other instances, in the case of Saul and Paul, being more heterogeneous to the business in hand than that of Eli, which went before, require not any particular help for the removal of them out of the way. Though they are dead as to the end for which they are produced, I presume no true Israelite in the pursuit of that Sheba in the church, the apostasy of saints, will be retarded in his way by their being cast before him. In brief, neither the connection of obedience and suitable rewards, as in the case of Saul, nor the necessity of means subservient to the accomplishment of purposes (themselves also falling under that purpose of Him who intends the end and the fulfilling of it), as in the case of Paul, is of the least force to persuade us that the eternal, immanent acts of God’s will, which he pursues by the effectual, irresistible acts of his grace, so as to compass the end which he hath from everlasting determinately resolved to bring about, are suspended upon imaginary conditions, created in the brains of men, and, notwithstanding their evident inconsistency with the scope of the Scripture and design of God therein, intruded into such texts of Scripture as on all hands (which will be evident in the sequel of this discourse) are fortified against them.

Besides, in the case of Paul, though the infallibility of the prediction did not in the least prejudice the liberty of the agents who were to be employed for its accomplishment, but left room for the exhortation of Paul and the endeavours of the soldiers, yet it cuts off all possibility of a contrary event, and all supposal of a distinctive purpose in God, upon the account whereof he cannot predict the issue or event of any thing whatsoever. But of this more largely afterward.

But this is farther argued by Mr Goodwin, from the purposes of God in his threatenings, in these words: “Most frequently the purpose and decree of God concerning the punishment of wicked and ungodly men is expressed by the Holy Ghost absolutely and certainly, without the least mention of any condition, or relaxation, or reversion; yet., from other passages of Scripture, it is fully evident that this decree of his is conditional in such a sense which imports a non-execution of the punishment therein declared upon the repentance of the persons against whom the decree is. In like manner, though the purpose and decree of God for the justification of those who are called (and so for the glorifying of those that shall be justified) be, in the scripture in hand, delivered in an absolute and unconditional form of words, yet it is no way necessary to suppose (the most familiar, frequent, and accustomed expressions in Scripture in such cases, exempting us from any such necessity) that therefore these decrees must needs bring forth against all possible interveninces whatever: so that, for example, he that is called by the word and Spirit must needs be justified, whether he truly believe or no; and he that is justified must needs be glorified, whether he persevere or no.”

Ans. First, That the threatenings of God are moral acts, not declarative, as to particular persons, of God’s eternal purposes, but subservient to other ends, together with the law itself, whereof they are a portion (as the avoiding of that for which men are threatened), is known. They are appendices of the law, and in their relation thereunto declare the connection that is between sin and punishment, such sins and such punishments.

Secondly, That the eternal purposes of God concerning the works of his grace are to be measured by the rule and analogy of his temporal threatenings, is an assertion striking at the very root of the covenant of grace, and efficacy of the mediation of the Lord Jesus, yea, at the very being of divine perfections of the nature of God himself. This there is, indeed, in all threatenings, declared of the absolute purpose and unchangeable decree of God, that all impenitent sinners shall be punished according to what in his wisdom and righteousness he hath apportioned out unto such deservings, and threateneth accordingly. In this regard there is no condition that doth or can, in the least, import a non-execution of the punishment decreed, neither do any of the texts cited in the margin of our author prove any such thing. They all, indeed, positively affirm [that] faithless, impenitent unbelievers shall be destroyed; which no supposal whatsoever that takes not away the subject of the question, and so alters the whole thing in debate, can in the least infringe. Such assertions, I say, are parts of the law of God revealing his will in general to punish impenitent unbelievers; concerning which his purpose is absolute, unalterable, and steadfast.

The conclusion, then, which Mr Goodwin makes is apparently racked from the words by stretching them upon the unproportioned bed of other phrases and expressions, wholly heterogeneous to the design in this place intended. Added here are supposed conditions in general, not once explained, to keep them from being exposed to that shame that is due unto them when their intrusion, without all order or warrant from heaven, shall be manifested, only wrapped up in the clouds of possible interveniences; when the acts of God’s grace, whereby his purposes and decrees are accomplished, do consist in the effectual removal of the interveniences pretended, that so the end aimed at in the unchangeable counsel of God may, suitably to the determination of his sovereign, omnipotent, infinite, wise will, be accomplished. Neither doth it in the least appear that any such calling by the word and Spirit as may leave the persons so called in their unbelief, — they being so called in the pursuit of this purpose of God to give them faith and make them conformable to Christ, — may be allowed place or room in the haven of this text. The like may be said of justification wherein men do not persevere. Yea, these two supposals are not only an open begging of the thing in contest, but a fiat defying of the apostle as to the validity of his demonstration, that “all things work together,” etc.

Notwithstanding, then, any thing that hath been objected to the contrary, the foundation of God mentioned in this place of Scripture stands firm, and his eternal purpose of safeguarding the saints in the love of Christ, until he bring them to the enjoyment of himself in glory, stands, clear from the least shadow of change or suspension upon any certain conditionals, which are confidently, but not so much as speciously, obtruded upon it.

The next thing undertaken by Mr Goodwin is, to vindicate the forementioned glosses from such oppositions as arise against them from the context and words themselves, with the design of the Holy Ghost therein. These things doth he find his exposition obnoxious unto, — the exposition which he pretends to give no strength unto but what is foreign, on all considerations whatsoever of words and things, to the place itself. This, it seems, is to “prophesy according to the analogy of faith,” Rom. xii. 6.

First, then, sect. 44, to the objection, that those who are called are also justified, and shall be glorified, according to the tenor of the series of the acts of the grace of God here laid down, he answereth “That where either the one or the other of these assertions be so no, it must be judged of by other scriptures. Certain it is, by what hath been argued concerning the frequent usage of the Scripture point of expression, that it cannot be concluded or determined the scripture in hand.” The sum of this answer amounts to thus much: “Although the sense opposed be clear in the letter and expression of this place of Scripture, in the grammatical sense and use of the words; though it flows from the whole context, and answers alone the design and scope of the place, which gives not the least countenance to the interposing of any such conditionals as are framed to force it to speak contrary to what, γυμνῇ τῇ κεφαλῇ, it holds forth; — yet the mind of God in the words is not from these things to be concluded on; but other significations and senses, not of any word here used, not from the laying down of the same doctrine in other places, with the analogy of the faith thereof, not from the proposing of any design suitable to this here expressed, but places of Scripture agreeing with this neither in name nor thing, expression nor design, word nor matter, must be found out in the sense and meaning of this place, and from them concluded, and our interpretation of this place accordingly regulated.” “Nobis non licet,” etc. Neither hath Mr Goodwin produced any place of Scripture, nor can he, parallel to this, so much as in expression, though treating of any other subject or matter, that will endure to have any such sense tied to it as that which he violently imposeth on this place of the apostle. And if the sense and mind of God in this place may not safely be received and closed withal from the proper and ordinary signification of the words (which is always attended unto without the least dispute, unless the subject-matter of any place, with the context, enforces to the sense less usual and natural), with the clear design and scope of the context in all the parts of it, universally correspondent unto itself, I know not how, or when, or by what rules, we may have the least certainty that we have attained the knowledge of the mind of God in any one place of Scripture whatever.

What he next objects to himself, namely, “That though there be no condition expressed in the instances by him produced, yet there are in parallel places, by which they are to be expounded” (but such conditions as these are not expressed in any place that answers to that, which we have in hand), it being by himself, as I conceive, invented to turn us aside from the consideration of the irresistible efficacy of the argument from this place (which use he makes of it in his first answer given to it), I own not; and that because I am fully assured, that in any promise whatsoever that is indeed conditional, there is no need to inquire out other scriptures of the like import to evince it so to be, — all and every one of them that are such, either in express terms, or in the matter whereof they are, or in the legal manner wherein they are given and enacted, do plainly and undeniably hold out the conditions inquired after. His threefold answer to this objection needs not to detain us. Passing on, I hope, to what is more material and weighty, he tells us, first, sect. 44, that if this be so, “then it must be tried out by other scriptures, and not by this;” which evasion I can allow our author to insist on, as tending to shift his hands of this place, which, I am persuaded, in the consideration of it grew heavy on them. But I cannot allow it to be a plea in this contest, as not owning the objection which it pretends to answer. The two following answers being not an actual doing of any thing, but only fair and large promises of what Mr Goodwin will do about answering other scriptures, and evincing the conditionals intimated from such others as he shall produce (some, doubtless, will think these promises no payment, especially such as having weighed money formerly tendered for real payment have found it too light), I shall let them lie in expectation of their accomplishment. “Rusticus expectat, dum defluat amnis,” etc.

In the meantime, till answers come to hand, Mr Goodwin proffers to prove by two arguments (one clear answer had been more fair), that these acts of God, calling, justification, and so the rest, have no such connection between them, but that the one of them may be taken and be put in execution, and yet not the other, in respect of the same persons.

His first reason is this: “If the apostle should frame this series or chain of divine acts with an intent to show or teach the uninterruptibleness of it, in what case or cases soever, he should fight against his general and main scope or design in that part of the chapter which lieth from verse 17, which clearly is this, to encourage them to constancy and perseverance in suffering afflictions: for to suggest any such thing as that, being called and justified, nothing could hinder them from being glorified, were to furnish them with a ground on which to neglect his exhortation; for who will be persuaded to suffer tribulation for the obtaining of that which they have sufficient assurance given that they shall obtain whether they suffer such things or no? Therefore, certainly, the apostle did not intend here to teach the certainty of perseverance in those that are justified.”

Ans. That this argument is of such a composition as not to operate much in the case in hand will easily appear; for, —

First, These expressions, “In what case or cases soever,” are foisted into the sense and sentence of them whom he opposes, who affirm the acts of God’s grace here mentioned to be effectually and virtually preventive of those eases, and of [that] which might possibly give any interruption to the series of them.

Secondly, Whatsoever is here pretended of the main scope of the chapter, the scope of the place we have under consideration was granted before to be the making good of that assertion, premised in the head thereof, that all things should work together for good to believers, and that so to make it good, that upon the demonstration of it they might triumph with joy and exultation; which it cannot be denied but that this uninterruptible series of divine acts, not framed by the apostle, but revealed by the Holy Ghost, is fitted and suited to do.

Thirdly, Suppose that be the scope of the foregoing verses, what is there in the thesis insisted on and the sense embraced by us opposite thereunto? “Why, to suggest any such thing to them as that, being called and justified, nothing could possibly interpose to hinder them from being glorified, — that is, that God by his grace will preserve them from departing willfully from him, and will in Jesus Christ establish his love to them for ever, — was to furnish them with a motive to neglect his exhortations.” Yea, but this kind of arguing we call here petitio principii, and it is accounted with us nothing valid; the thing in question is produced as the medium to argue by. We affirm there is no stronger motive possible to encourage them to perseverance than this proposed. “It is otherwise,” saith Mr Goodwin; and its being otherwise in his opinion is the medium whereby he disproves not only that, but another truth, which he also opposeth! But he adds this reason, “For who would be persuaded to suffer,” etc.; that is, it is impossible for any one industriously and carefully to use the means for the attainment of any end, if he hath assurance of the end by these means to be obtained. What need Hezekiah make use of food, or other means of sustaining his life, when he was assured that he should live fifteen years? The perseverance of the saints is not in the Scripture, nor by any of those whom Mr Goodwin hath chosen to oppose, held out on any such ridiculous terms as whether they use means or use them not, carry themselves well or wickedly miscarry themselves, but is asserted upon the account of God’s effectual grace preserving them in the use of the means, and from all such miscarriages as should make a total separation between God and their souls. So that this first reason is but a plain begging of those things which, to use his own language, he would not dig for.

But perhaps, although this first argument of Mr Goodwin be nothing but an importune suggestion of some hypotheses of his own, with an arguing from inferences not only questionable but unquestionably false, yet if his second demonstration will evince the matter under debate, he may be content to suffer loss in the hay and stubble of the first, so that the gold of the following argument do abide. Now, thus he proceedeth in these words: “And, lastly, this demonstrates the same thing yet farther. If God should justify all without exception whom he calleth, and that against all bars of wickedness and unbelief possible to be laid in their way by those who are called, then might ungodly and unbelieving persons inherit the kingdom of God. The reason of the connection is evident, it being a known truth that, the persons justified are in a condition or present capacity of inheriting the kingdom of God.”

Ans. But “carbones pro thesauro.” If it be possible, this, being of the same nature with that which went before, is more weak and infirm, as illogical and sophistical as it. The whole strength of it lies in a supposal that those who are so called as here is intimated in the text, — called according to the purpose of God, called to answer the desist of God to make them like to Jesus Christ, so called as to be hereupon justified, — may yet lay such bars of wickedness and unbelief in their own way, when they are so called, as not to be justified, when that calling of theirs consists in the effectual removal of all those bars of wickedness and unbelief which might hinder their free and gracious acceptation with God; that is, that they may be called effectually and not effectually. A supposal hereof is the strength of that consideration which yielded Mr Goodwin this demonstration. His eminent way of arguing herein will also be farther manifest, if you shall consider that the very thing which he pretends to prove is that which he here useth for the medium to prove it, not varied in the least! “Si Pergama dextra,”etc. But Mr Goodwin foresaw (as it was easy for him to do) what would be excepted to this last argument, — to wit, that the calling here mentioned effectually removes those bars of wickedness and unbelief, a supposal whereof is all the strength and vigour it hath; and in that supposal there is a plain assuming of the thing in question, and a bare contradiction to that which from the place we prove and confirm. Wherefore, he answereth sundry things:—

First, That “Judas, Demas, Simon Magus, were all called, and yet laid bars of wickedness and unbelief, whereby their justification was obstructed.” And to the reply, that they were not so called as those mentioned in the text, not called according to God’s purpose, with that calling which flows from their predestination to be conformed unto Christ, with that calling which is held out as an effectual mean to accomplish the end of God in causing all things to work together for their good, and therefore that the strength of this answer lies in the interposition of his own hypothesis once more, and his renewed request for a grant of the thing in question, — he proceeds to take away this exception by sundry cross assertions and interrogations. Sect. 45, “It hath not been proved,” saith he, “by any man, nor I believe ever will be” (sir, we live not by your faith), “that the calling here spoken of imports any such act or work of God whereby the called are irresistibly necessitated savingly to believe. If it import no such thing as this, what hinders but that the persons mentioned might have been called by that very kind of calling here spoken of?”

Ans. It is known what Mr Goodwin aims at in that expression, “Irresistibly necessitated savingly to believe;” we will not contend about words. Neither of the two first terms mentioned is either willingly used of us or can be properly used by any, in reference to the work of conversion or calling. What we own in them relates, as to the first term, “irresistibly,” to the grace of God calling or converting; and in the latter, “necessitated,” to the event of the call itself. If by “irresistibly” you intend the manner of operation of that effectual grace of God (not which conquers in a reaction, which properly may be termed so, but) which really, and therefore certainly (for “unumquodque, quod est, dum est, necessario est”), produces its effect, not by forcing the will, but, being as intimate to it as itself, making it willing, etc., we own it. And if by “necessitated” you understand only the event of things, — that is, it is of necessity as to the event that they shall savingly believe who are effectually called, without the least straitening or necessitating their wills in their conversion, which are still acted suitably to their native liberty, — we close with that term also, and affirm that the calling here mentioned imports such an act of God’s grace as whereby they who are called are effectually and infallibly brought savingly to believe, and so, consequentially, that the persons whose wickedness and unbelief abide upon them were never called with this calling here contended about. They who are not predestinated a parte ante, nor glorified a parte post, are not partakers of this calling. I must add, that as yet I have not met with any proof of Mr Goodwin’s interpretation, nor any exception against ours, that is not resolvable into the same principle of craving the thing in question, producing the thing to be proved as its own demonstration, and asserting the things proved against him not to be so because they are not so. From the design and scope of the place, the intendment of the Holy Ghost in it, the meaning of the words, the relation and respect wherein the acts of God mentioned stand one to another, the disappointment of God’s purpose and decree in case of any interruption of them or non-producing of the effects, which lead the subjects of whom they are spoken from one to another, we prove the infallible efficacy of every act of God’s grace here mentioned as to their tendency unto the end aimed at; and this he that is called to believe may infallibly do.

“But,” says Mr Goodwin, “this is otherwise.” Well, let that pass. He adds, secondly, “Suppose it be granted that the calling here spoken of is that kind of calling which is always accompanied with a saving answer of faith, yet neither doth this prove but that even such called ones may obstruct and prevent, by wickedness and unbelief, their final justification, and consequently their glorification. If so, then that chain of divine acts or decrees here framed by the apostle is not indissolvable in any such sense which imports an infallibility, and universal exertion or execution of the latter whensoever the former hath taken place.” In this answer Mr Goodwin denies our conclusion, to wit, that the chain of divine acts of grace in this place is in-dissolvable (which that it is we make out and prove from the words of the text, the context, and scope of the place), and adds his reason, “Because they who are justified may lay bars in their way from being finally so, or being glorified;” — that is, it is not so, because it is not so; for the efficacy of the grace asserted is for the removal of the bars intimated, or wherein may its efficacy be supposed to consist, especially in its relation to the end designed? And so this place is answered. Saith the Holy Ghost, “Those whom God justifieth he glorifies.” “Perhaps not,” saith Mr Goodwin; “some things may fall in or fall out to hinder this.” Eligite cui credatis.

Were I not resolved to abstain from the consideration of the judgments of men when they are authoritatively interposed in the things of God, I could easily manifest the fruitlessness of the following endeavour to prove the effectual calling of Judas by the testimony of Chrysostom and Peter Martyr; for neither hath the first, in the place alleged, any such thing (least of all is it included in Mr Goodwin’s marginal annotation, excluding compulsion, necessity, and violence, from vocation); and the latter, in the section pointed to and that following, lays down principles sufficiently destructive to the whole design whose management Mr Goodwin hath undertaken. Neither shall I contest about the imposing on us in this dispute the notion of final justification distinct from glorification, both name and thing being foreign to the Scripture, and secretly including (yea, delivering to the advantage of its author) the whole doctrine under consideration stated to his hand. If there be a gospel justification in sinners or believers in the blood of Christ not final or that may be cut off, he hath prevailed.

But Mr Goodwin proceeds to object against himself, sect. 46, “But some, it may be, will farther object against the interpretation given, and plead, — 1. That the contexture between these two links of this chain, predestination to a conformity with Christ and calling, is simply and absolutely indissolvable, so that whoever is so predestinated never fails of being called; 2. That it is altogether unlikely that, in one and the same series of divine actions, there should not be the same fixedness or certainty of coherence between all the parts.” The first of these being the bare thesis which he opposed, I know not how it came to be made an objection. I shall only add to the latter objection, which includes something of argument, that the efficacy of any one act of God’s grace here mentioned, as to the end proposed, depending wholly on the uninterruptible concatenation of them all, and the effectual prevalency and certainty (as to their respective operations) of every one of them being equal to the accomplishment of the purpose of God in and by them all, I willingly own it, especially finding how little is said, and yet how much labour taken, to dress up a pretended answer unto it. Of this there are two parts, whereof the first is this: “I answer,” saith he, —

“First, by a demur upon the former of these pleas;” which was, that the connection between the predestination of God mentioned and his calling is uninterruptible. “Somewhat doubtful to me it is whether a person who, by means of the love of God which is in him at present, falls under his decree of predestination, may not possibly, before the time appointed by God for his calling, be changed in that his affection, and consequently pass from under that decree of predestination, and fall under another decree of God opposite thereunto, and so never come to be called.”

Ans. I confess this demur outruns my understanding, equis albis,100 neither can I by any means overtake it, to pin any tolerable sense upon it, though I would allow it to be suited only to Mr Goodwin’s principles, and calculated for the meridian of Arminianism. For who, I pray, are they in any sense (in Mr Goodwin’s) that do so love God as to fall under, as he speaks, that pendulous decree of predestination, and to whom this promise here is made? Are they not believers? Are any others predestinated, in our author’s judgment, but those who are actually so? Is not the decree of predestination God’s decree or purpose of saving believers by Jesus Christ? or can any love God to acceptation without believing? If, then, they are believers, can they alter that condition before they are called? We supposed that “faith had been by hearing, and hearing by the word of God,” Rom. x. 17, and that it is of necessity, in order of nature, that calling should precede believing. What are men called to? Is it not to believe? Here, then, is a new sort of men discovered, that believe and fall from faith, love God and forsake him, all antecedently to their vocation or calling. I am confident that Mr Goodwin may be persuaded to withdraw this demurrer, or if not, that he will be overruled in it before the judgment-seat of all unprejudiced men. It will scarcely as yet pass currently that men are born believers, and after such and such a time of their continuance in that estate of belief, and being predestinated thereupon, God then calls them. Neither do I understand the meaning of that phrase, “Never come to be called,” used by him who maintains all to be called; but this is but a demurrer. The answer follows.

For the great regard I bear unto the author’s abilities, I shall not say that his ensuing discourse doth not deserve to be transcribed and punctually insisted on; but this I may say, I hope, without offence, that it is so long and tedious, so remote from what it pretends unto, to wit, an answer to the forementioned argument, that I dare not venture upon the patience of any reader so far as to enter into a particular consideration of it.

The sum of it is, “That there is no unlikelihood in this, that though one part of the chain of divine graces before mentioned cannot be dissolved or broken, yet another may (notwithstanding that a dissolution of any one of them renders the design of God in them all wholly frustrate and fruitless).” This he proves by proposing a new series of divine acts in actual dependence one upon another, some whereof may be uninterruptible, but the others not so. He that shall but slightly view the concatenation of divine acts here proposed by Mr Goodwin for the illustration of that dependence of them and their efficacy which we insist upon, will quickly find it liable to some such small exceptions as render it altogether useless as to the end proposed; as, —

First, That the case here proposed, and pretended to be parallel to that under our consideration, is a fictitious thing, a feigned concatenation of feigned decrees of God, being neither in any one place delivered in the Scripture, nor to be collected from any or all the texts in the Bible; which course of proceeding, if it may be argumentative in sacred truth, it will be an easy and facile task to overthrow the most eminent and dearly-delivered heads of doctrine in the whole book of God.

Secondly, That it is a case surmised by him, suitable to his own hypotheses, neither true in itself nor any way analogous to that wherewith it is yoked, being indeed a new way and tone of begging the thing in question. For instance, it supposeth, without the least attempt of proof,1. Conditional decrees, or a disjunctive intendment of events in God, — it shall come to pass, or otherwise; 2. A middle science conditional, as the foundation of those disjunctive decrees; with, 3. A futurition of things, antecedent to any determining act of the will of God; and, 4. A possibility of frustrating, as to event, the designs and purposes of God; and, 5. That all mediums of the accomplishment of any thing are conditions of God’s intentions as to the end he aims at; and, 6. That God appoints a series of mediums for the compassing of an end, and designs them thereunto, without any determinate resolution to bring about that end; and, 7. That the acts of God’s grace in their concatenation, mentioned in this place of Rom. viii., are severally conditional, because he hath invented or feigned some decrees of God which he says are so; — all which, with the inferences from them, Mr Goodwin knows will not advance his reasonings at all as to our understanding, we being fully persuaded that they are all abominations, of no less base alloy than the error itself in whose defence and patronage they are produced.

To our argument, then, before mentioned, proving an equal indissolvableness in all the links of the chain of divine graces, drawn forth and insisted on from the equal dependence of the design and purpose of God on the mutual dependence of each of them on the other, for the fulfilling of that purpose of his, and obtaining the end which he professes himself to intend, this is the sum of Mr Goodwin’s answer: “If I can invent a series of decrees and a concatenation of divine acts, though indeed there be no such thing, neither can I give any colour to it without laying down and taking for granted many false and absurd supposals; and though it be not of the same nature with that here proposed by the apostle, nor anywhere held out in the Scripture for any such end and purpose as this is; neither can I assign any absolute determinate end in this series of mine, whose accomplishment God engages himself to bring about (as the case stands in the place of Scripture under consideration), — then it is meet and equitable that, laying aside all enforcements from the text, context, nature of God, the thing treated on, all compelling us to close with another sense and interpretation, we regulate the mind of the Holy Ghost herein to the rule, proportion, and analogy, of the case as formerly proposed.” This being the sum of that which Mr Goodwin calls his answer, made naked, I presume, to its shame, “valeat quantum valere potest.”

I shall only add that, — 1. When Mr Goodwin shall make good that order and series of decrees here by him mentioned from the Scripture, or with solid reason from the nature of the things themselves, suitably to the properties of Him whose they are; — and, 2. Prove that any eternal decree of God, either as to its primitive enacting or temporal execution, is suspended on any thing not only really contingent in itself and its own nature, in respect of the immediate fountain from whence it flows and nature of its immediate cause, but also as to its event, in respect of any act of the will of God, that it may otherwise be, and so the accomplishment of that decree left thereupon uncertain, and God himself dubiously conjecturing at the event (for instance, whether Christ should die or no, or any one be saved by him); — and, 3. Clearly evince this notion of the decrees and purposes of God, that he intends to create man, and then to give him such advantages, which if he will it shall be so with him, if otherwise it shall be so; to send Christ if men do so, or not to send him if they do otherwise; and so of the residue of the decrees mentioned by him; — and, 4. That all events of things whatsoever, spiritual and temporal, have a conditional futurition, antecedent to any act of the will of God: when, I say, he shall have proved these, and some things like to these, we shall farther consider what is offered by him, yea, we will confess that “hostis habet muros,” etc.

Of the many other testimonies to the purpose in hand, bearing witness to the same truth, some few may yet be singled out, and, in the next place, that of Jer. xxxi. 3 presents itself unto trial and examination: “Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with loving-kindness have I drawn thee.” It is the whole elect church of the seed of Jacob of whom he speaks, the foundation of whose blessedness is laid in the eternal love of God. Who the persons are thus beloved, and of whom we are to interpret these expressions of God’s good-will, the apostle manifests, Rom. xi. 7, as shall afterward be more fully discoursed and cleared. He tells you it is the “election” whom God intends; of whom he says that they obtained the righteousness that is by faith, according to the purport of God’s good-will towards them, though the rest were hardened, God (who adds daily to his church such as shall be saved, Acts ii. 47) drawing them thereunto upon the account of their being so elected. He calls them also the “remnant according to the election of grace,” and the “people which God foreknew,” verses 1, 2, 5, or from eternity designed to the participation of the grace there spoken of, as the use of the word hath been evinced to be. These are the “thee” here designed, the portion of Israel after the flesh which the Lord, in his free grace, hath eternally appointed to be his peculiar inheritance; which in their several generations he draws to himself with loving-kindness. And this everlasting love is not only the fountain whence actual loving-kindness, in drawing to God, or bestowing faith, doth flow (as they believe who are ordained to eternal life, Acts xiii. 48), but also the sole cause and reason upon the account whereof, in contradistinction to the consideration of any thing in themselves, God will exercise loving-kindness towards them for ever. That which is everlasting or eternal is also unchangeable; God’s everlasting love is no more liable to mutability than himself, and it is an always equal ground and motive for kindness. On what account should God alter in his actual kindness or favour towards any, if that on the account whereof he exercises it will not admit of the least alteration? He that shall give a condition on which this everlasting love of God should be suspended, and according to the influence whereof upon it it should go forth in kindness or be interrupted, may be allowed to boast of his discovery.

That of the apostle, 2 Tim. ii. 19, is important to the business in hand, “Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his.” Some persons of eminency and note in the church, yea, stars, it seems, of a considerable magnitude in the visible firmament thereof, having fallen away from the truth and faith of the gospel, and drawn many after them into ways of destruction, a great offence and scandal among believers thereon (as in such cases it will fall out) ensued; and withal a temptation of a not-to-be-despised prevalency and sad consequence (which we formerly granted to attend such eminent apostasy) seems to have laid hold on many weak saints. They feared lest they also might be overthrown, and, after all their labouring and suffering in the work of faith and patience of the saints, come short of “the mark of the high calling” set before them. Considering their own weakness and instability, with that powerful opposition whereunto, in those days especially, they were exposed, upon the contemplation of such apostasies or defections, they were opportune and obnoxious sufficiently to this temptation. Yea, their thoughts upon the case under consideration might lead them to fear a more general defection: for seeing it is thus with some, why may not this be the condition of all believers? and so the whole church may cease and come to nothing, notwithstanding all the promises of building it on a rock, and of the presence of Christ with it to the end of the world; nay, may not his whole kingdom on earth on this account possibly fall to utter ruin, and himself be left a head without members, a king without subjects? This, by Mr Goodwin’s own confession, is the objection which the apostle answereth, and removes in and by the words under consideration: Chap. xiv. pp. 359, 360, “Seeing these fall away, are not we likewise in danger of falling away, and so of losing all that we have done and suffered in our Christian profession? To this objection or scruple the apostle answereth in the words in hand.” So he. Thus far, then, are we agreed. About the sense of the words themselves, and their accommodation to the removal of the objection or scruple mentioned, is our difference. I know not how Mr Goodwin comes to call it “an objection or scruple” (which is the expression of thoughts or words arising against that which is, in the truth of it), seeing it is their very state and condition indeed, and that which they fear is that which they are really exposed unto, and which they ought to believe that they are exposed to. In his apprehension, they who make the objection, or whose scruple it was, were in his judgment as liable unto, and in the same danger of failing away, or greater (their temptation being increased and heightened by the apostasy of others) than they that fell the day and hour before; neither could that falling away of any be said to raise a scruple in them that they might do so too, if this were one part of their creed, that all and every man in the world might so do.

The answer given by the apostle is no doubt suited to the objection, and fitted to the removal of the scruple mentioned; which was alone to be accomplished by an effectual removing away the solicitous fears and cares about the preservation of them in whose behalf this is produced. This, therefore, the apostle doth by an exception to the inference which they made, or through temptation might make, upon the former considerations. Μέν τοι are exceptive particles, and an induction into the exemption of some from the condition of being in danger of falling, wherein they were concluded in the objection proposed. The intendment, I say, of the apostle, in that exceptive plea he puts in, “Nevertheless,” is evidently to exempt some from the state of falling away, which might be argued against them from the defection of others. Neither doth he speak to the thing in hand, nor are the particulars mentioned exceptive to the former intimation, if his speech look any other way. Moreover, he gives yet farther the account of this exception he makes, including a radical discrimination of professors, or men esteemed to be believers, expressing also the principle and ground of that difference. The differing principle he mentioneth is, the foundation of God that stands sure, or the firm foundation of God that is established or stands firm; this is not worth contending about; — an expression parallel to that of the same apostle, Rom. ix. 11, “That the purpose of God according to election might stand.” Both this and that hold out some eternal act of God, differencing between persons as to their everlasting condition. As if the apostle had said, “Ye see, indeed, that Hymeneus and Philetus are fallen away, and that others with whom you sometimes walked in the communion and outward fellowship of the gospel, and took sweet counsel together in the house of God with them, are gone after them; yet be you, true believers, of good comfort: God hash laid a foundation” (which must be some eternal act of his concerning them of whom he is about to speak, or [else] the solemn assertion of the apostle, than which you shall not easily meet with one more weighty, is neither to the case nor matter in hand) “which is firm and abiding, being the good pleasure of his will, accompanied with an act of his wisdom and understanding, appointing some (as is the case of all true believers) to be his, who shall be exempted on that account from the apostasy and desertion that you fear. This,” saith the apostle, “is the fountain and spring of the difference which is among them that profess the gospel. Concerning some of them is the purpose of God for their preservation: ‘they are ordained to eternal life.’ ” And herein, as was said, lies the concernment of all that are true believers, who are all his, chosen of him, given to his Son, and called according to his purpose. With others it is not so; they are not built on that bottom, they have no such foundation of their profession, and it is not therefore marvellous if they fall.

The words, then, contain an exception of true believers from the danger of total apostasy, upon the account of the stable, fixed, eternal purpose of God concerning their salvation, answerable to that of Rom. viii. 28–30, the place Last considered. The “foundation” here mentioned is the good pleasure of the will of God, which he had purposed in himself, or determined to exert towards them, for the praise of the glory of his grace, Eph. i. 9; according to which purpose we are predestinated, verse 11. And he calls this purpose the “foundation of God,” as being a groundwork and bottom of the thing whereof the apostle is treating, — namely, the preservation and perseverance of true believers, those who are indeed planted into Christ, notwithstanding the apostasy of the most glorious professors, who, being not within the compass of that purpose, nor built on that foundation, never attain that peculiar grace which by Jesus Christ is to them administered who have that privilege. And this farther appears by the confirmation of the certainty of this foundation of God which he hath laid, manifested in the next words, “It hath this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his.” Whether ye will take this either for a demonstration of the former assertion, a posteriori, from the peculiar love, favour, tenderness, and care, which the Lord bears to them which are his, who are built on the foundation mentioned, whereby, in the pursuit of his eternal purpose, he will certainly preserve them from perishing, knowing, owning, and taking care of them in every condition; or for the prescience of God, accomplishing his eternal purpose, designing them of whom he speaks as his (for his they were, and he gave them unto Christ), — is to me indifferent. Evident it is that this confirmation of the purpose mentioned is added to assure us of the stability and accomplishment of it, in that none who are built thereon or concerned therein shall fall away. And herein doth the apostle fully answer and remove the forementioned objection. “Let men,” saith he, “appear never so eminent in profession, if once they prove apostates, they manifest themselves to have been but hypocrites; that is, such as never had any of the faith of God’s elect, which is their peculiar who are ordained to eternal life.”

This, then, beyond all colourable exception, is the intendment of the apostle in the words under consideration: “Though many professors fall away, yet you that are true believers be not shaken in your confidence; for God hath laid the foundation of your preservation in his eternal purpose, whereby you are designed to life and salvation, and by the fruits whereof you are discriminated from the best of them that fall away. Only continue in the use of means; let every one of you depart from iniquity, and keep up to that universal holiness whereunto also ye are appointed and chosen.” And this is the whole of what we desire demonstration of, neither will less in any measure answer the objection or remove the scruple at first proposed.

But, it seems, we are all this while beside the intendment of the apostle, whose resolution of the objection mentioned is quite of another nature than what we have hitherto insisted on, which Mr Goodwin thus represents, page 359, chap. xiv. sect. 14:—

“To this objection or scruple the apostle, in the words now in hand, answereth to this effect, that notwithstanding the falling away of men, whoever or how many soever they be, yet the glorious gospel and truth of God therein stands, and always hath stood, firm and steadfast: which gospel hath the matter and substance of this saying in it, as a seal for the establishment of those who are upright in the sight of God, namely, ‘The Lord knoweth,’ that is, takes special notice of, approveth, and delighteth in, ‘those that are his,’ — that is, who truly believe in him, love and serve him; yea, and farther hath this item, tending to the same end, ‘Let every one that calleth upon the name of Christ,’ that is, makes profession of his name, ‘depart from iniquity.’ So that in this answer to the scruple mentioned the apostle intimateth, by way of satisfaction, that the reason why men fall away from the faith is partly because they do not consider what worthy respects God beareth to those who cleave to him in faith and love, partly also because they degenerate into loose and sinful courses, contrary to the law imposed by the gospel; and consequently, that there is no such danger of their falling away who shall duly consider the one and observe the other. In asserting the stability of the truth of God in the gospel, by the way of antidote against the fears of those that might possibly suspect it, because of the defections of others from it, he doth but tread in his own footsteps elsewhere in this very chapter, ‘If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful, and cannot deny himself.’ ”

Ans. If that necessity were not voluntarily chosen which enforceth men to wrest and pervert the word of God, not only to mistaken, but strange, uncouth, and inconsistent senses, their so doing might perhaps seem not to be altogether without colourer and pretext; but when they willingly embrace those paths which will undoubtedly lead them into the briers, and, contrary to abundance of light and evidence of truth, embrace those persuasions which necessitate them to such courses, I know not what cloak they have left for their deviations. An example of this we have before us in the words recited. A sense is violently pinned upon the apostle’s words, not only alien, foreign, to the scope of the place and genuine signification of the words themselves, but wholly unsuited for any serviceableness to the end for which the author of this gloss himself confesseth these expressions of the apostle to be produced and used.

The sum of Mr Goodwin’s exposition of this place is this: The “foundation of God” is the gospel or the doctrine of it; its “standing,” or “standing sure,” the certain truth of the gospel; the “seal” mentioned is the substance or matter of that saving, “God knows who are his,” contained in the gospel; and the answer to the objection 184or scruple lies in this, that the reason why men fall from the gospel (which neither is nor was the scruple, nor was it so proposed by Mr Goodwin) is because they consider not the love that God bears to believers, — that is, that he approves them whilst they are such, which is indeed one main part of the gospel; so that men fall from the gospel because they fall from the gospel, and this must satisfy the scruple proposed. It is an easy thing for men of ability and eloquence to gild over the most absurd and inconsistent interpretation of Scripture with some appearance of significancy; though I must needs say I know not rightly when nor by whom, pretending to any sobriety, it hath been more unhappily or unsuccessfully tempted than by Mr Goodwin in this place, as upon due consideration will be made farther appear. For, —

1. To grant that “the foundation of God” may be said so far to be the gospel, because his eternal purpose, so expressed, is therein revealed, which is the interpretation Mr Goodwin proposeth, I ask, — Whether the apostle applies himself to remove the scruple ingenerated in the minds of believers about their own falling away, upon consideration of the apostasy of others, and to answer the objection arising thereupon? This Mr Goodwin grants in the head, though in the branches of his discourse he casts in inquiries quite of another nature, — as, that a reason is inquired after why men fall from the gospel, and a suspicion is supposed to arise of the truth of the gospel because some fell from it; things that have not the least intimation in the words or context of the place, nor are of any such evidence for their interest in the business in hand that Mr Goodwin durst take them for ingredients in the case under consideration when he himself proposed it: so that he was enforced to foist in this counterfeit case to give some colour to the interpretation of the words introduced. But yet this must not be openly owned, but intermixed with other discourses, to lead aside the understanding of the reader from bearing in mind the true state of the case by the apostle proposed and by himself acknowledged. So that this discourse “desinit in piscem,” etc.

2. The case being supposed as above, I ask whether the apostle intended a removal of the scruple and answer to the objection, as far, at least, as the one was capable of being removed and the other of being answered? This, I suppose, will not be scrupled or objected against, being indeed fully granted in stating the occasion of the words; for we must at least allow the Holy Ghost to speak pertinently to what he doth propose. Then, —

3. I farther inquire, whether any thing whatever be in the least suited to the removal of the scruple and objection proposed, but only the giving of the scruplers and objectors the best assurance that upon solid grounds and foundations could be given, or they were in truth capable of, that what they feared should not come upon them, and that, notwithstanding the deviation of others, themselves should be preserved? And then, —

4. Seeing that the sum of the sense of the words given by Mr Goodwin amounts to these two assertions, — 1. “That the doctrine of the gospel is true and permanent;” 2. “That God approves for the present all who for the present believe;” supposing that there is nothing in the gospel teaching the perseverance of the saints, I ask yet whether there be any thing in this answer of the apostle, so interpreted, able to give the least satisfaction imaginable to the consciences and hearts of men making the objection mentioned? for is it not evident, notwithstanding any thing here expressed, that they and every believer in the world may apostatize and fall away into hell? Say the poor believers, “Such and such fell away from the faith; their eminent usefulness in their profession, beyond perhaps what we are able to demonstrate of ourselves, makes us fear that this abominable defection may go on and swallow us up, and grow upon the church to a farther desolation.” The answer is: “However, the gospel is true, and God bears gracious respects to them that cleave to him in love, whilst they do so.” “Quæstio est de alliis, responsio de cepis.” Methinks the apostle might have put them upon those considerations which Mr Goodwin proposes, as of excellent use and prevalency against falling away, that they put men out of danger of it (chap. ix.), rather than have given them an answer not in the least tending to their satisfaction, nor any way suited to their fears or inquiries, no, not [even] as backed with that explanation, that “they fall away because they degenerate into loose and sinful courses;” that is, because they fall away. A degeneracy into loose and sinful courses amounts surely to no less.

5. Again, I would know whether this “foundation of God” be an act of his will commanding or purposing, — declarative of our duty or his intention? If the first, then [I would know] what occasion is administered to make mention of it in this place? — whether it were called in question or no? and whether the assertion of it conduces to the solution of the objection proposed? Or is it in any parallel terms expressed in any other place? Besides, seeing this “foundation of God” is in nature antecedent to the “sealing” mentioned, or God’s “knowing them that are his,” and the object of the act of God’s will, be it what it will, being the persons concerning whom that sealing is, [I would know] whether it can be any thing but some distinguishing purpose of God concerning those persons in reference to the things spoken of? Evident, then, it is, from the words themselves, the occasion of them, the design and scope of the apostle in the place, that the “foundation of God” here mentioned is his discriminating purpose concerning some men’s certain preservation unto salvation; which is manifestly confirmed by that seal of his, that he “knoweth them” in a peculiar, distinguishing manner; — a manner of speech and expression suited directly to what the same apostle useth in the same case everywhere, as Rom. viii. 28–30, 9, xi. 1, 2; Eph. i. 4–6.

“But,” saith Mr Goodwin, “this is no more than what the apostle elsewhere speaks: Rom. iii. 3, ‘What if some did not believe? shall their unbelief make the faith of God of none effect?’ — that is, ‘Shall the unbelief of men be interpreted as any tolerable argument or ground to prove that God is unfaithful, or that he hath no other faith in him than that which sometimes miscarrieth, and produceth not that for which it stands engaged?’ implying that such an interpretation as this is unreasonable in the highest.”

But truly, by the way, if it be so, I know not who in the lowest can quit Mr Goodwin from unreasonableness in the highest; for doth he not contend in this whole discourse, that the faith of God in his promises, for the producing of that for which it stands engaged (as when he saith to believers he will “never leave them nor forsake them”), doth so depend on the faith of men as to the event intended, that it is very frequently by their unbelief rendered of none effect? Is not this the spirit that animates the whole religion of the apostasy of saints? Is not the great contest between us, whether any unbelief of men may interpose to render the faith of God of none effect as to the producing of the thing he promiseth? “Tibi, quia intrîsti, exedendum est.”

But, 2. Let it be granted that these two places of the apostle are of a parallel signification, what will it advantage the interpretation imposed on us? What is the “faith of God” here intended? and what the “unbelief” mentioned? and whereunto tends the apostle’s vehement interrogation? The great contest in this epistle concerning the Jews (of whom he peculiarly speaks, verses 1, 2) was about the promise of God made to them, and his faithfulness therein. Evident it was that many of them did not believe the gospel; as evident that the promise of God was made peculiarly to them, to Abraham and his seed. Hence no small perplexity arose about the reconciliation of these things, many perplexed thoughts ensuing on this seeming contradiction. If the gospel be indeed the way of God, what is become of his faithfulness in his promises to Abraham and his seed, they rejecting it? If the promises be true and stable, what shall we say to the doctrine of the gospel, which they generally disbelieve and reject? In this place the apostle only rejects the inference that the faithfulness of God must fall and be of none effect because the Jews believed not; whereof he gives a full account afterward, when he expressly takes up the objection and handles it at large, chap. ix.–xi. The sum of the answer he there gives as a defensative of the faithfulness of God, with a non obstante to the infidelity of some of the Jews, amounts to no more or less than what is here argued and by us asserted, namely, that notwithstanding this (their incredulity and rejection of the gospel), “the foundation of God standeth sure, The Lord knoweth them that are his;” — that the promise, his faithfulness wherein came under debate, was not made to all the Jews, but to them that were chosen according to his purpose, as he expressly disputes it at large beyond all possibility of contradiction, chap. xi., as shall afterward be further argued, and hath in part been already discovered. I verily believe never did any man produce a testimony more to the disadvantage of his own cause, both in general and in particular, than this is to the cause Mr Goodwin hath in hand.

Neither doth he advance one step farther in the confirmation of the sense imposed on the apostle’s words, by comparing them with the words of the same apostle, verse 13 of the same chapter, “If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful; he cannot deny himself;” wherein again, contrary to the whole drift of Mr Goodwin’s discourse, the faithfulness of God in the accomplishment of his promises is asserted to be wholly independent upon any qualification whatever in them to whom those promises are made: “Though we are under sufferings, temptations, and trials, very apt to be cast down from our hope of the great things that God hath prepared for us and promised to us, yet his purpose shall stand however, and our unbelief shall not in the least cause him to withdraw, or not to go through with his engagement to the utmost. The faithfulness of his own nature requireth it at his hand; ‘he cannot deny himself.’ ”

What remains, sect. 14, wherein he labours farther to give strength unto, or rather more largely to explicate, what he formerly asserted, is built upon a critical consideration of the word θεμέλιος, which, without any one example produced from any approved author, we must believe to signify a “bond,” or “instrument of security given between men by the way of contract.” And what, then, suppose it do? “Why, then, contrary to the whole scope of the place, and constant signification of the word in the Scripture, it must be interpreted according to the analogy of that sense.” Why so? doth it remove any difficulty on the other hand? doth it more suit the objection for its removal, whereunto it is given, that we should warp from the first, genuine, native, usual signification of the word, to that which is exotic and metaphorical? “Yea, but we are enforced to embrace this sense, because that ‘here is a seal set to this foundation, and men use not to set seals to the foundation of a house.’ ” And is it required that allusions should hold in all particulars and circumstances, even in such as wherein their teaching property doth not consist? The terms of “foundation” and “sealing” are both figurative; neither will either of them absolutely be squared to those things in nature wherein they have their foundation. The purpose of God is here called his “foundation,” because of its stability, abidingness, strength, and use in bearing up the whole fabric of the salvation of believers, not in respect of its lying in or under the ground, or being made of wood or stone. And in this sense, why may it not be said to be sealed? Spiritual sealing holds out two things, — confirmation, and conforming by impression; and in them consists the chief political use of the word and thing, not in being a label annexed to a writing. And why may not a purpose be confirmed, or be manifested to be firm, as well as a contract or instrument in law, having also its conforming virtue and efficacy (which is the natural effect of sealing, to implant the image in the seal on the things impressed with it), in rendering them, concerning whom the purpose of God is, answerable to the image of his Son, in whom the purpose is made, and that pattern which he hath chosen them to and appointed them for? What followeth to the end of this section is but a new expression of what Mr Goodwin pretends to be the sense of this place. The “foundation of God” is the gospel, or the promise of God to save believers; the “seal” is his taking notice of them to save them, and to condemn them that believe not; and therefore, questionless, believers need not fear that they shall fall away, though there be not the least intimation made of any thing that should give them the least comfortable or cheering security of preservation in believing. Only it is said, “He that believeth shall be saved” (which yet is not an absolute promise of salvation to believers), “and he that believeth not shall be damned;” which one disjunctive proposition, declarative of the connection that is between the means and the end, Mr Goodwin labours to make comprehensive of all the purposes of God concerning believers, it being such as wherein no one person in the world is more concerned than another. If the “foundation” here mentioned be only God’s purpose, or rather declaration of his will, for the saving of believers and the damning of unbelievers, what consolation could be from hence administered in particular unto persons labouring under the scruple mentioned formerly hath not as yet been declared. Let us, then, proceed to farther proof of the truth in hand, and the vindication of some other places of Scripture whereby it is confirmed.

That which I shall next fix upon is that eminent place of John, chap. vi. 37–40: “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day, And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.” Our Saviour acquaints us with the design wherewith he came from heaven: it was “not to do his own will,” — that is, to accomplish or bring about any private purposes of his own, distinct or different from them of his Father, as he was blasphemously charged by the Jews to do, — but he came to do the will of God, “the will of him that sent him.” The “will of God” which Christ came to fulfil is sometimes taken for the “commandment which he received from the Father” for the accomplishment of his will. So Heb. x. 9, “I come to do thy will, O God,” — that is, to fulfil thy command; as it is expressed, Ps. xl. 8, “Thy law is within my heart.” “Thy law, all that thou requirest at my hand as mediator, I am ready to perform.” On this account is Christ said to “take on him the form of a servant,” Phil. ii. 7, — that is, to become so indeed, in the assumption of human nature, that he might do the will of him that sent him. For which reason, also, his Father expressly calls him his servant: Isa. xlii. 1, “Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my Spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles.” He is the servant of the Father in the accomplishment of that work for which the Spirit was put upon him. And verse 19, “Who is blind, but my servant? or deaf, as my messenger that I sent? who is blind as he that is perfect, and blind as the Lord’s servant.” God gives him in command to fulfil his will, which accordingly he performs to the utmost. Again; the “will of God” is taken for his purpose, his design, decree, and good pleasure, for the fulfilling and accomplishment whereof the Lord Christ came into the world. And this appears to be the sense and importance of the words in this place, from the distinction which is put between the will of the Father and any such private will of Christ as the Jews thought he went about to establish, [namely, that] it was some design of his own. In opposition whereunto he tells them that he came to do the will, — that is, to fulfil the counsel, purpose, and design, — of the Father. However, should it principally be taken for the command of God, yet there is, and must needs be, a universal coincidence and oneness in the object of God’s purposing and commanding will in all commands given unto Christ; because all of them shall certainly and infallibly by him be fulfilled, and so the thing certainly accomplished which is commanded. What now is the will, purpose, aim, design, and command, of the Father, whose execution and accomplishment is committed to the Lord Christ, and which he faithfully undertakes to perform, as he was faithful in all things to Him that appointed him? For the clearing of this, let these two things be observed:— 1. Who the persons are concerning whom this will of God is. And those he describes by a double character:— (1.) From their election, the Father’s giving them to him: “All which he hath given me,” John vi. 39; that is, all his elect, as our Saviour expounds this very expression, chap. xvii. 6, “Thine they were, and thou gavest them me;” — “Thine they were in eternal designation, thou having ‘chosen them before the foundation of the world,’ and thou gavest them to me for actual redemption, to deliver them from every thing that keeps them at a distance from thee.” (2.) From their faith or believing, which he calls “seeing the Son, and believing on him,” chap. vi. 40. The persons, then, here designed are elect believers, persons chosen and called of God. 2. What next, then, is the will of God concerning them? This also is set out both in general and in some particulars:— (1.) In general, That none of them be lost; that by no means whatsoever, by no temptations of Satan, deceits of sin, fury of oppressors, weakness or decay of faith, they perish and fall away from him, verse 39. This is the will, the design and purpose of God; this he gives to Jesus Christ in command for to accomplish. (2.) In particular, That they might have everlasting life, verse 40; that they be preserved to the enjoyment of that glory whereunto they are designed; that they may be raised up at the last day, and so never be lost, neither as to their being nor well-being. Of these two, verse 40, everlasting life is placed before the resurrection or raising of believers at the last day; plainly intimating that the spiritual life, whereof in this world we are partakers, is also, as to its certain, uninterruptible continuance, an everlasting life, that shall never be intercepted or cut off That, then, which from this portion of Scripture I argue is this: God having purposed to give eternal life to his elect believers, and that none of them should ever be lost, and having committed the accomplishing and performance of this his good-will and pleasure unto the Lord Jesus, who was faithful unto him in all things, and endued with power (all power from above) for that end, they shall certainly be preserved to the end designed. The favour and love of God in Christ shall never be turned away from them; for his “counsel shall stand, and he will do all his pleasure.”

Something is by Mr Goodwin offered to take off the strength of this testimony, but yet so little, that had I not resolved to hear him out to the utmost of what he can say in and unto the case in hand, it would scarce be thought needful to divert to the consideration of it. This place of Scripture he binds up in one bundle with nine or ten others, to the composure of one argument, which (almost uno halitu) he blows away, chap. xi. sect. 36, 37, etc., pp. 251, 252, etc. To the consideration of the argument itself there by him proposed I am not yet arrived. The influence of this text into it is from what is said of Christ’s preserving believers; my present consideration is chiefly of the will and intention of the Father’s giving them to him to be preserved; so that I shall observe only one or two things to his general answer, and then proceed to the vindication of this particular place we have in hand:—

First, He tells you, “That the conclusion of the former argument, that true believers shall never miscarry or fall away, opposeth not his sense in this controversy.” Whether it oppose his sense or no must be judged. This I know, that he hath to his utmost opposed it all this while, showing himself therein very uncourteous and unkind. But why so? on what account is it that this conclusion, which he hath so much opposed, is now conceited not to oppose him? “Those who thus fall away,” saith he, “are no true believers, but wicked apostates, at the time of their falling away.” That the conclusion mentioned opposeth his sense to me is evident; but that it is sense wherewith in this place he opposeth the conclusion is not so clear. The question is, Who fall away? “Not believers, but apostates,” saith Mr Goodwin. We say so too. In the natural first sense of these words, [they] who eventualiter are apostates were never antecedenter to their apostasy true believers. But this is not your sense, doubtless. That those who fall away, in their falling away (which is the sense of that clause, “At the time of falling away”), were apostates, — that is, were fallen away before they fell away, — is neither our sense nor yours, for it is none at all. Bertius hath an argument against the perseverance of the saints, from the impossibility of finding a subject to be affected with the notion of apostasy if true believers be exempted from it; “for hypocrites,” saith he, “cannot fall away.” “Nor can believers,” saith Mr Goodwin, “but they are apostates when they fall away!” — that is, it is a dead man that dies, or after he is dead he dies; after he is an apostate, he falls away. Perhaps it would be worth our serious inquiry to consider how believers can indeed possibly come to lose the Spirit of grace which dwells in them, with their habit of faith and holiness. For our part, we contend that they have an infused habit of grace, and that wrought with a mighty impression upon their minds and hearts; faith being of the operation of God, wrought by the exceeding greatness of his power, as he wrought in Christ when he raised him from the dead. Whether such a habit can be removed but by that hand that bestowed it, and whether it may be made appear that God will on any occasion so take it away, or hath expressed himself that he will so deal with any of his children, is, I say, worthy our inquiry. But, —

Secondly, He denies the major proposition, and saith, “That those who are kept and preserved by Christ may possibly miscarry.” Boldly ventured! What want is there, then, or defect in the Keeper of Israel, that his flock should so miscarry under his hand? Is it of faithfulness? The Scripture tells us he is “a faithful high priest in things pertaining to God,” Heb. ii. 17; “faithful to him that appointed him,” chap. iii. 2; and that he did the whole will of God. Is it of tenderness, to take care of his poor wandering ones? He is otherwise represented unto us: Heb. ii. 18, “For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted;” and chap. iv. 15, “We have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.” Isa. xl. 11, it is said of him, “He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young.” And he quarrels with those shepherds who manifest not a care and tenderness like his towards his flock: Ezek. xxxiv. 4, “The diseased have ye not strengthened, neither have ye healed that which was sick, neither have ye bound up that which was broken, neither have ye brought again that which was driven away, neither have ye sought that which was lost;” all which he takes upon himself to perform, verses 15, 16. Or is it want of power? “All power is given unto him in heaven and in earth,” Matt. xxviii. 18. “All things are delivered unto him of his Father,” Matt. xi. 27. “He is able to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him,” Heb. vii. 25. If he want neither care nor tenderness, wisdom nor watchfulness, love nor ability, will nor faithfulness, how comes it to pass that they miscarry and fall away into ruin whom he hath undertaken to keep? David durst fight with a lion and a bear in the defence of his lambs, and Jacob endured heat and cold upon the account of faithfulness; and shall we think that the Shepherd of Israel, from whose being so the psalmist concludes he shall want nothing, Ps. xxiii. 1, who did not only fight for his flock, but laid down his life for them, will be less careful of his Father’s sheep, his own sheep, which are required also at his hand, for his Father knows them and calls them all by name?

“Yea, but,” says Mr Goodwin, “it may be thus, in case themselves shall not comport with Christ in his act of preserving them, with their care and diligence in preserving themselves;” that is, Christ will surely keep them in case they keep themselves. Alas! poor sheep of God! If this were the case of the flocks of the sons of men, how quickly would they be utterly destroyed! Doth the veriest hireling in the world deal thus with his sheep, — keep them in case they keep themselves? Nay, to what end is his keeping if they keep themselves? Christ compares himself to be the good shepherd which seeketh out and fetcheth a wandering sheep from the wilderness, laying it on his shoulders, and bringing it home to his fold. How did that poor sheep keep itself, when it ran among the ravenous wolves in the wilderness? Yet by the good shepherd it was preserved. This is the spirit and comforting genius of this doctrine: “Christ keeps us provided we keep ourselves!” “We trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel;” that he gave us his Holy Spirit to abide with us for ever, to seal us to the day of redemption; that knowing himself, and telling us, that without him we can do nothing, he would not suspend his doing upon our doing so great a thing as preserving ourselves. For let us see now what it is that is required in us if we shall be preserved by Christ: it is to comport with him in his act of preserving us, and to be diligent to keep ourselves.

What is this “comporting with him in his act of preserving us?” Our comporting with Christ in any thing is by our believing in him and on him; that is our radical comportment, whence all other closings of heart in obedience do flow. So, then, Christ will preserve us in believing, provided we continue to believe. But what need of his help to do so, if antecedently thereunto so we do? Is not this not only ἄγραφον but also ἄλογον, not only unscriptural, but also unreasonable, yea, absurd and ludicrous? This is the flinty fountain of all that abundance of consolation which Mr Goodwin’s doctrine doth afford. Doubtless, they must be wise and learned men (like himself) who can extract any such thing therefrom. Let him go with it to a poor, weak, tempted, fainting believer, and try what a comforter he will be thought, a physician of what value he will be esteemed. Let him tell him, “Thou art indeed weak in faith, ready to decay and perish, which thou mayst do every day, there being neither purpose nor promise of God to the contrary; great oppositions and great temptations hast thou to wrestle withal. But yet Christ is loving, tender, faithful, and in case thou continuest believing, he will take care thou shalt believe. That Christ will increase thy faith, and keep it alive by continual influences, as from a head into its members, preserving thee not only against outward enemies, but the treacheries, and deceits, and unbelief of thine own heart, of any such thing I can give thee no account.” Such consolation a poor man may have at home at any time.

Farther; what is that act of Christ in preserving them that is to be comported withal? wherein doth it consist? Is it not in his daily, continual communication to them of new supplies of that spiritual life whose springs are in him; the making out from his own fullness unto them; his performing the office of a head to its members, and filling those other relations wherein he stands, working in them both to will and to do of his own good pleasure?101 What is it, then, to comport with this act or these acts of Christ? Can any thing reasonable be invented wherein such comportment may be thought to consist, but either it will be found coincident with that whereof it is a condition, or appear to be such as will crush the whole undertaking of Christ for the preservation of believers into vanity and nothing? Again; hath Christ undertaken to preserve us against all our enemies, or some only?102 If some only, give us an account both of them that he doth undertake against, that we may know for what to go to him and whereof to complain, and of them that he doth not so undertake to safeguard us against, that we may know wherein to trust to ourselves;103 and let us see the places of Scripture wherein any enemies are excepted out of this undertaking of Christ for the safety of his. Paul goes far in an enumeration of particulars, Rom. viii. 35–39. If he hath undertaken against them all, then let us know whether it be an enemy that keeps us from this comportment with Christ, or a friend. If it be an enemy (as surely every thing in us that moves us to depart from the living God is), hath Christ undertaken against it, or no? If not, how hath he undertaken against them all? If he hath, how is it that it prevails? “Yea, but he undertakes this in case we comport with him;” that is, he undertakes to overcome such an enemy in case there be no such enemy. In case we be not turned aside from comporting with him, he will destroy that enemy that turns us aside from comporting with him. “Egregiam veró laudem et spolia ampla!” Or, on the other side, if our enemies prevail not against us, he hath faithfully undertaken that they shall not prevail against us.

“Yea, but,” saith Mr Goodwin, “no Scripture proves that those whom Christ preserves must, by any compulsory, necessitating power, use their diligence in preserving themselves.” And who, I pray, ever said they did? Compulsory actings of grace are your own figment; so are all such necessitating acts which proceed any farther than only as to the infallibility of the event aimed at. God doth not compel the wills of men when he works in them to will.104 Christ doth not compel men to care and diligence when he works in them holy care and diligence. When the disciples said unto the Lord, “Increase our faith,” they did not pray that they might be compelled to believe. God’s working in them that believe according to the exceeding greatness of his power, “strengthening them with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and long-suffering with joyfulness,”105 is very far from any compulsion or necessitation inconsistent with the most absolute freedom that a creature is capable of. He that works faith in believers can continue it and increase it in them without compulsion.106 And this is the sum of Mr Goodwin’s answer to an argument that, notwithstanding all which he hath spoken, hath yet strength enough left to cast his whole building down to the ground. What he farther speaks to the particular place which gave occasion to this discourse may briefly be considered:—

He speaks something to John vi. 37, which I insisted not on. As to the purpose in hand, he tells you that “Christ will in no wise cast out τὸν ἐρχόμενον, ‘him that is coming;’ but yet he that is coming, in his way may turn back and never come fully up to him.”

Ans. But if this be not huckstering of the word of God, I know not what is.107 The words before in the same verse are, “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me.” Saith Mr Goodwin, “They may come but half way, and so turn back again, not coming fully home to him.” Saith Christ, “They shall come to me.” Saith Mr Goodwin, “They may perhaps come but half way.” “Nunc satis est dixisse, ego mira pœmata pango.” But why so? Why, ἐρχόμενον is “coming,” — a coming, it seems, in fieri, but not in facto esse; that is, it denotes a tract of time whilst the man is travelling his journey, as though believing were a successive motion as to the act of laying hold on Christ. But is he that is on his way, that Christ receiveth, a believer or not? hath he faith or not? If he hath no faith, the faith whereof we speak, how can he be said to be “coming,” seeing the “wrath of God abideth on him?” John iii. 36. If he hath faith, how is it that he is not come to Christ? Hath any one true faith at a distance from him? God gives another testimony, John i. 11, 12. But saith he, “There is nothing in the words that they are under no possibility of falling away who come to Christ.” But, — 1. There is in those that follow, that, as to the event, they are under an impossibility of so doing, in respect of the will and purpose of God (which sufficeth me), as shall be made to appear. 2. That emphatical expression, Οὐ μὴ ἐκβάλω ἔξω, “I will in no wise cast them out,” expresses so much care and tenderness in Christ towards them, that we are very apt to hope and believe that he will not lose them any more, but that he will not only not cast them out, but also, according to his Father’s appointment, that he will keep them, and preserve them in safety, until he bring them to glory; as is fully asserted, John vi. 39, 40, as hath been declared.

Again, Mr Goodwin tells you, “It is not spoken of losing believers by defection of faith, but by death; and to assure believers of this, Christ tells them it is his Father’s will that he should raise them up at the last day. Besides, if any be lost by defection from faith, this cannot be imputed to Christ, who did his Father’s pleasure to the utmost for their preservation, but to themselves.”

Ans. For the perverting of verse 37, the beginning of it was left out; and for the accomplishing of the like design upon verse 39 (which farther clears the mind and intendment of Christ in the words), verse 40 is omitted, lie tells you that it is the wilt of the Father that every one that comes to him, that is, that believes on him, have everlasting life. What is everlasting life in the gospel is well known from John xvii. 3. And unto this bestowing on them everlasting life, his raising of them at the last day, as was mentioned, is a necessary consequent, — namely, that they may be brought to the full and complete fruition of that life which here in some measure they are made partakers of. Even in the words of verse 39, that passage, “I should lose nothing,” extends itself to the whole compass of our Saviour’s duty in reference to his Father’s will for the safeguarding of believers. And is it only death, and the state of dissolution of body and soul, that it is the will of God that he should deliver them from, and the power of that, that it should not have dominion over them in the morning? The apostle tells us that he came to do the will of God, whereby we are sanctified, Heb. x. 9, 10. It was the will of God that he should sanctify us; and he tells his Father that he had kept all his own in the world, John xvii. 12; which, doubtless, was not his raising them from the dead. If he be the Mediator of the covenant of grace, if the promises of God be yea and amen in him, if he be our Head, Husband, and elder Brother, our Advocate and Intercessor, our Shepherd and Saviour, his keeping us from being lost extends itself no less effectually to our preservation from utter ruin in this life than to our raising at the last day; yea, and that exceptive particle ἀλλά includes this preservation, as well as leads us to the addition of the other favour and privilege of being raised to glory at the last day. In a word, this whole discourse is added to make good that gracious promise of our Saviour, John vi. 35, “He that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst;” which how it can be done by a naked engagement for the resurrection of them that come to him and abide with him, if many do, and most of all them that come to him may, depart from him and fall into everlasting ruin, needs Mr Goodwin’s farther labour and pains to unfold. What is lastly added concerning Christ’s doing the utmost of his Father’s pleasure for their custody, but the fault is their own who fall away, is the same inconsistent, ridiculous assertion with that erewhile considered; with this addition, that whereas it is his Father’s pleasure that they be saved, Christ doth his pleasure to the utmost, and yet saved they are not. And so much (if not too much) for the vindication of this testimony witnessing to the truth that we have in hand.

Matt. xxiv. 24 comes in the next place to be considered (an unquestionable evidence to the truth), and that voluntarily, of its own accord, speaking so plain to the matter in hand, that it were a sin against clear light to refuse to attend unto it; so far is it from being “compelled to bear the cross of this service,” as Mr Goodwin phrases the matter, chap. x. sect 9, pp. 181–183. “ ‘They shall seduce, if it were possible, the very elect.’ Hence,” saith he, “it is inferred that the deceiving or seducing of them that believe is a thing impossible; which is the drawing of darkness out of light.” Strange! to me it seems so far from a forced inference, or a strained drawing of a conclusion, that it is but the conversion of the terms of the same identical supposition. He that says they shall deceive the very elect, if it were possible, so mighty shall be their prevalency in seducing, seems to me (and would, I doubt not, do so to others, did not their prejudices and engagements force them to stop their ears and shut their eyes) to say that it is impossible the elect should be seduced.

But let the place, as it deserves, be more distinctly considered; it is among them which I refer to the head of the purposes of God, and a purpose of God there is (though not expressed, yet) included in the words. The impossibility of the seduction of some persons from the faith is here asserted. Whence doth this impossibility arise? Not from any thing in themselves, — not from their own careful consideration of all the concernments of their condition; the only preservative in such a season, if some, who pretend themselves skilful and experienced, yea almost the only physicians of souls, may be believed. They can never stand upon such sands against that opposition they shall be sure to meet withal. Our Saviour therefore intimates whence the impossibility expressed doth flow, in a description of the persons of whom it is affirmed, in reference to the purpose of God concerning them. They are the “elect,” those whom God hath “chosen before the foundation of the world, that they should be holy and without blame before him in love.” His “purpose according to election” must stand firm, and therefore “the election” itself shall obtain.108 This, then, is that which is here affirmed: God having chosen some, or elected them to life, according to the “purpose which he purposed in himself,” and faith being bestowed on them, they believing on the account of their being “ordained to eternal life,” it is impossible they should be seduced so as to be thrown down from that state and condition of acceptance with God (for the substance of it) wherein they stand.109

Some few observations will farther clear the mind of the Holy Ghost, and obviate the exceptions that are put in against our receiving the words in their plain, proper, obvious signification. Observe, then, —

1. Upon the intimation of the great power and prevalency of seducers, our Saviour adds this, as a matter of great consolation to true and sound believers, that notwithstanding all this, all their attempts, however advantaged by force or subtlety, yet they shall be preserved. This the whole context enforceth us to receive, and our adversaries to confess that at least a great difficulty of their seduction is intimated. And it arises with no less evidence that this difficulty is distinguishing in respect of the persons exposed to seduction;— that some are elect, who should be seduced if it were possible; others not, that may and shall be prevailed against.

2. The bottom of the consolation, in the freedom of the persons here spoken of from falling under the prevailing power of seducers, consists in this, that they are the elect of God, such as on a personal consideration are chosen of God from all eternity, to be kept and preserved by his power to salvation, notwithstanding any interveniencies or oppositions which he will suffer to lie in their way. “But,” saith Mr Goodwin, “these men, at least before their calling, are as liable to be deceived or seduced as other men. This is their own confession; and Paul says that they were sometimes deceived, Titus iii. 3.”

Ans. An exception, doubtless, unworthy him that makes it; who, had he not resolved to say all that ever had been said by any to the business in hand, would scarcely, I presume, have made use thereof. The, seduction of persons is not opposed to their election, but to their believing. Mention is made of their election, to distinguish them from those other professors which should be seduced, and to discover the foundation of their stability under their trials; but it is of them as believers (in which consideration the attempts of seducers are advanced against them) that he speaks. It is not the seducing of the elect as elect, but of believers who are elect, and because they are elected, that is denied.

3. That it is a seduction unto a total and final departure from Christ and Faith in him whose impossibility in respect of the election is here asserted. “But,” saith Mr Goodwin, chap. x. sect. 10, p. 181, “this is to presume, not to argue or believe; for there is not the least ground in the word whereon to build such an interpretation.” But the truth is, without any presumption or much labour for proof, the falsity of this exception will quickly appear to any one that shall but view the context. It is evidently such a seduction as they are exposed unto and fall under who endure not unto the end, that they may be saved, Matt. xxiv. 13; and they who are excepted upon the account mentioned are opposed to them who, being seduced, and their love being made cold, and their iniquities abounding, perish everlastingly, verses 11, 12.

4. It is, then, a denial of their being cast out by the power of seducers from their state and condition of believing and acceptation with God wherein they stand, that our Saviour here asserts, and gives out to their consolation, — they shall not be seduced, that is, drawn off from that state wherein they are to a state of unregeneracy, infidelity, and enmity to God so that, as Mr Goodwin observes in the next place, we deny them, from hence, not only to be subject to a final but also to a total seduction.

5. We grant that notwithstanding the security given, which respects the state and condition of the persons spoken of, yet they may be, and often are, seduced and drawn aside into ways that are not right, into errors and false doctrines, through the “cunning sleight of men who lie in wait to deceive,” but never into such (as to any abode in them) which are inconsistent with the union with their Head and his life in them.

The errors and ways whereinto they are, or may be, seduced are either such as, though dangerous, yea, in their consequences pernicious, yet have not such an aspect upon the faith of believers as to deny a possibility of union and holding the Head upon other accounts. I doubt not but that men for a season may not know, may disbelieve and deny, some fundamental articles of Christian religion, and yet not be absolutely concluded not to hold the Head by any sinew or ligament, to have no influence of life by any other means. Was it not so with the apostles when they questioned the resurrection of Christ, and with the Corinthians who denied the resurrection of the saints? — an abode, I confess, in either of which errors would, when the consequences of them are manifested, prove pernicious to the souls of men; but that they have in themselves such an absolute repugnancy unto and inconsistency with the life of Christ, however considered, as that their entertainment for a season should be immediately exclusive thereof, I suppose Mr Goodwin himself will not say. In this sense, then, we grant that true, saving, justifying faith may consist with the denial of some fundamental articles of Christian religion for a season; but that any true believer can persist in such a heresy we deny, he having the promise of the Spirit to lead him into all necessary truth.

There are such ways and things as in their own nature have an inconsistency with the life of Christ, as the abnegation of Christ himself. But this also we affirm to be twofold, or to receive a twofold consideration:— 1. It may be resolved, upon consideration, with the deliberate consent of the whole soul; which we utterly deny that believers can or shall be left unto for a moment, or that ever any true believer was so. 2. Such as may be squeezed out of the mouths of men by the surprisal of some great, dreadful, and horrible temptation, without any habitual or cordial assent to any such abomination, or disaffection to Christ, or resolute rebellion against him. Thus Peter fell into the abnegation of Christ, whose faith yet under it did not perish, if our Saviour was heard in his prayer for him, having an eye to that very temptation of his wherein he was to be tried, and his fall under it. In the first sense are those words of our Saviour, Matt. x. 33, to be understood, and not in the latter. Christ was so far from denying Peter before his Father under his abnegation of him, that he never manifested more care and tenderness towards any believer than towards him in that condition. And this wholly removes Mr Goodwin’s 10th section out of our way, without troubling of ourselves to hold up that distinction of a final denial of Christ, and that not final, seeing in all probability he set it up himself that he might have the honour to cast it down.

What follows in Mr Goodwin from the beginning of sect. 11, chap. x., to the end of sect. 17, is little more than a translation of the Remonstrants’ sophistry in vexing this text in their Synodalia; which he knows full well where to find discussed and removed. For the sake of our English readers, I shall not avoid the consideration of it. I affirm, then, that the phrase εἰ δυνατόν here denotes the impossibility of the event denied, the manner of speech, circumstances of the place, with the aim of our Saviour in speaking, exacting this sense of the words. The words are, Ὥστε πλανῆσαι, εἰ δυνατὸν, καὶ τοὺς ἐκλεκτούς. It is the constant import of the word ὥστε to design the event of the thing which, by what attends it, is asserted or denied (so Gal. ii. 13; Matt. viii. 28, xv. 31; 1 Thess. i. 8), neither is it ever used for ἵνα. In the place by some instanced for it, Rom. vii. 6, it points clearly at the event. Ἵνα is sometimes put for it, but not on the contrary. And the words εἰ δυνταόν, though not so used always (although sometimes they are, as Gal. iv. 15), do signify at least a moral impossibility, when they refer to the endeavours of men; but relating to the prediction of an event by God himself, they are equivalent to an absolute negation of it. That of Acts xx. 16 is urged to the contrary. Paul hoped εἰ δυνατόν, to be at Jerusalem at Pentecost. “ ‘If it be possible’ here cannot imply an impossibility as to the event,” says Mr Goodwin. But are these places parallel? Are, all places where the same phrase is used always to be expounded in the same sense? The terms here, “If it be possible,” respect not the futurition of the thing, but the uncertainty to Paul of its possibility or impossibility; the uncertainty, I say, of Paul in his conjecture whether he should get to Jerusalem by such a time or no, of which he was ignorant. Did our Saviour here conjecture about a thing whereof he was ignorant whether it would come to pass or no? We say not, then, that in this place, where εἰ δυνατόν is expressive of the uncertainty of him that attempts any thing of its event, that it affirms an impossibility of it, and so to insinuate that Paul made all haste to do that which he knew was impossible for him to do; but that the words are used in these two places in distinct senses, according to the enclosure that is made of them by others. “But,” saith Mr Goodwin, “to say that Paul might be ignorant whether his being at Jerusalem by Pentecost might be possible or no, and that he only resolved to make trial of the truth herein to the utmost, is to asperse this great apostle with a ridiculous imputation of ignorance.” And why so, I pray you? It is true he was a great apostle indeed; but it was no part of his apostolical furnishment to know in what space of time he might make a sea-voyage. Had Mr Goodwin ever been at sea, he would not have thought it ridiculous ignorance for a man to be uncertain in what space of time he might sail from Miletus to Ptolemais. Paul had a short time to finish this voyage in. He was at Philippi at the days of unleavened bread, and afterward, verse 6; thence he was five days sailing to Troas, verse 6; and there he abode seven days more. It may well be supposed that it cost him not less than seven days more to come to Miletus, verses 13–15. How long he tarried there is uncertain. Evident, however, it is, that there was a very small space of time left to get to Jerusalem by Pentecost. Paul was one that had met not only with calms and contrary winds, but shipwreck also, 2 Cor. xi. 25; so that he might well doubt whether it were possible for him to make his voyage in that space of time he had designed to do it in, and this surely without the least disparagement to his apostolical knowledge and wisdom. In brief, when this phrase relates to the cares and desires of men, and unto any thing of their ignorance of the issue, it may design the uncertainty of the event, as in this place and that of Rom. xii. 18; but when it points at the event itself, it peremptorily designs its accomplishment or not, according to the tendency of the expression, which affirms or denies. Notwithstanding, then, all evasions, the simple, direct, and proper sense of our Saviour’s words, — who is setting forth and aggravating the prevalency of seducers in evil times, by him then foretold, — is, that it shall be such and so great as that, if it were not impossible upon the account of their election, they should prevail against the very elect themselves. But, —

6. Suppose it be granted that the words refer to the endeavours of the seducers in this place, yet they must needs deny their prevalency as to the end aimed at. It is asserted either to be possible that the elect should be so seduced, or not. If not, we have what we aim at. If it be possible, and so here asserted, the total of this expression of our Saviour will be resolved into a conclusion certainly most remote from his intendment: “If it be possible that the elect may be seduced, then shall they be seduced; but it is possible (say our adversaries), therefore they shall be seduced.” Neither doth that which Mr Goodwin urgeth, sect. 12, out of the Synodalia before mentioned, pp. 314, 315, at all prove that the words denote only a difficulty of the thing aimed at, with relation to the earnest endeavours of seducers. Πρὸς τό doth indeed intimate their endeavours, but withal their fruitlessness as to the event. Εἰ δυνατόν is not referred (as in the example of Paul,) to the thoughts of their minds, but to the success foretold by Christ. That emphatical and diacritical expression in the description of them against whom their attempts are, “Even the very elect,” argues their exemption. “And if by ‘elect’ are meant simply and only believers as such, how comes this emphatical expression and description of them to be used, when they alone and no others can be seduced? for those who seem to believe only cannot be said to fall from the faith,” say our adversaries. It is true, the professors of Christianity adhered of old under many trials, for the greater part, with eminent constancy to their profession; yet is not any thing eminently herein held out in that saying which Mr Goodwin calls proverbial in Galen, he speaking of the followers of Moses the same as of the followers of Christ. What else follows in Mr Goodwin from the same author is nothing but the pressing of, I think, one of the most absurd arguments that ever learned men made use of in any controversy; and yet, such as it is, we shall meet with it over and over (as we have done often already), before we arrive at the end of this discourse; and, therefore, to avoid tediousness, I shall not here insist upon it. With its mention it shall be passed by. It is concerning the uselessness of means, and exhortations unto the use of them, if the end to be attained by them be irrevocably determined, although those exhortations are part of the means appointed for the accomplishment of the end so designed. I shall not, as I said, in this place insist upon it; one thing only shall I observe. In sect. 17, he grants, “That God is able to determine the wills of the elect to the use of means proper and sufficient to prevent their being deceived.” By this “determining the wills of the elect to the use of proper means,” the efficacy of grace in and with believers, to a certain preservation of them to the end, is intended. It is the thing he opposeth, as we are informed in the next words: “He hath nowhere declared himself willing or resolved to do it.” That by this one assertion Mr Goodwin hath absolved our doctrine from all the absurd consequences and guilt of I know not what abominations, which in various criminations he hath charged upon it, is evident upon the first view and consideration. All that we affirm God to do, Mr Goodwin grants that he can do. Now, if God should do all he is able, there would no absurdity or evil that is truly so follow. What he can do, that he can decree to do; and this is the sum of our doctrine, which he hath chosen to oppose. God, we say, hath everlastingly purposed to give, and doth actually give, his Holy Spirit to believers, to put forth such an exceeding greatness of power as whereby, in the use of means, they shall certainly be preserved to salvation. “This God can do,” says our author. This concession being made by the Remonstrants in their Synodalia, Mr Goodwin, I presume, thought it but duty to be as free as his predecessors, and therefore consented unto it also, although it be an axe laid at the root of almost all the arguments he sets up against the truth, as shall hereafter be farther manifested.

I draw now to a close of those places which, among many others omitted, tender themselves unto the proof of the stable, unchangeable purpose of God, concerning the safeguarding and preservation of believers in his love and unto salvation. I shall mention one or two more, and close this second scriptural demonstration of the truth in hand. The first is that eminent place of Eph. i. 3–5, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: according as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love; having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will.” Verse 3, the apostle summarily blesseth God for all the spiritual mercies which in Jesus Christ he blesseth his saints withal; of all which, verse 4, he discovereth the fountain and spring, which is his free choosing of them before the foundation of the world. That an eternal act of the will of God is hereby designed is beyond dispute; and it is that “foundation of God” on which the whole of the building mentioned and portrayed in the following verse is laid. All the grace and favour of God towards his saints, in their justification, adoption, and glow, all the fruits of the Spirit, which they enjoy in faith and sanctification, flow from this one fountain; and these the apostle describes at large in the verses following. The aim of God in this eternal and unchangeable act of his will, he tells us, is, that we should be “without blame before him in love.” Certainly cursed apostates, backsliders in heart, in whom his soul takes no pleasure, are very far from being without blame before God in love. Those that are within the compass of this purpose of God must be preserved unto that state and condition which God aims to bring them unto, by all the fruits and issues of that purpose of his, which was pointed at before.

A scripture of the like importance unto that before named is 2 Thess. ii. 13, 14, “God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth: whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.” First, The same fountain of all spiritual and eternal mercy with that mentioned in the other place is here also expressed; and that is, God’s choosing of us by an everlasting act, or designing us to the end intended by a free, eternal, unchangeable purpose of his will. Secondly, The end aimed at by the Lord in that purpose is here more clearly set down in a twofold expression:— 1. Salvation: Verse 13, “God hath chosen you to salvation.” That is the thing which he aimed to accomplish for them, and the end he intended to bring them to in his choosing of them. And, 2. Verse 14, “The glory of the Lord Jesus Christ,” or the obtaining a portion in that glory which Christ purchased and procured for them, with their being with him to behold his glory. And, thirdly, You have the means whereby God will certainly bring about and accomplish this his design and purpose, whereof there are three most eminent acts expressed:— 1. Vocation, or their calling by the gospel, verse 14; 2. Sanctification, “Through sanctification of the Spirit;” and, 3. Justification, which they receive by “belief of the truth,” verse 13. This much, then, is wrapped up in this text: God having, in his unchangeable purpose, fore-appointed his to salvation and glory, certainly to be obtained, through the effectual working of the Spirit and free justification in the blood of Christ, it cannot be but that they shall be preserved unto the enjoyment of what they are so designed unto.

To sum up what hath been spoken from these purposes of God to the establishment of the truth we have in hand: Those whom God hath purposed by effectual means to preserve to the enjoyment of eternal life and glory in his favour and acceptation, can never so fall from his love, or be so cast out of his grace, as to come short of the end designed, or ever be totally rejected of God. The truth of this proposition depends upon what hath been said, and may farther be insisted on, concerning the unchangeableness and absoluteness of the eternal purposes of God, the glory whereof men shall never be able sacrilegiously to rob him of. Thence the assumption is, concerning all true believers and truly sanctified persons, there are purposes of God that they shall be so preserved to such ends, etc., as hath been abundantly proved by an induction of particular instances; and therefore it is impossible they should ever be so cast out of the favour of God as not to be infallibly preserved to the end. Which is our second demonstration of the truth in hand.

87    Matt. vi. 28–30; Luke xii. 6, 7; John iv. 4–8.
88    Isa. xiv. 24, xix. 12, xxiii. 9; Jer. li. 29; Rom. viii. 28, ix. 11, 19; Ps. cxxxix. 11, 12; Isa. xl. 28; Heb. iv. 13.
89    Matt. xi. 25; 1 Cor. i. 26–28; James ii. 5; 2 Tim. ii. 10.
90    Jer. l., li.; Isa. xliv. 25–28.
91    Isa. viii. 9, 10; Job viii. 9, xi. 12; Eccles. viii. 7, ix. 12.
92    Zechariah? Zech. vi. 1. — Ed.
93    Isa. xliv. 7, xlvi. 10.
94    Plaut. in Curcul.
95    Cic. pro Flacco. et 2 de Legib. pro Plancio.
96    Plutarchus in Alcibiad.
97    Lucian. in Prometh.
98    Deut. vii. 7; Ezek. xvi. 6; Matt. xi. 26; Eph. ii. 1–7.
99    Acts xv. 18; Isa. xlvi. 10.
100    See Hor. Sat. i. 7, 8. — Ed.
101    John i. 16; 1 Cor. xii. 13; Eph. i. 23, ii. 20–22, iv. 15, 16; Gal. ii. 20; Col. i. 17–19, ii. 19.
102    Heb. vii. 25.
103    John xv. 5; Isa. xxx. 1.
104    John viii. 32; Rom. vi. 18; Luke xvii. 5.
105    Col. i. 11, 12.
106    Eph. ii. 8.
107    2 Cor. ii. 17.
108    Eph. i. 4; Rom. ix. 11, 12, xi. 7.
109    Eph. i. 9; Phil. i. 29; Acts xiii. 48.

Chapter 4. The argument from the covenant of grace.

An entrance into the consideration of the covenant of grace, and our argument from thence for the unchangeableness of the love of God unto believers — The intendment of the ensuing discourse — Gen. xvii. 7 opened and explained, with the confirmation of the argument in hand from thence — That argument vindicated and cleared of objections — Confirmed by some observations — Jer. xxxii. 38–40 compared with Jer 31:31–34 — The truth under consideration from thence clearly confirmed — The certainty, immutability, and infallible accomplishment, of all the promises of the new covenant demonstrated: 1. From the removal of all causes of alteration; 2. From the Mediator and his undertaking therein; 3. From the faithfulness of God — One instance from the former considerations — The endeavour of Mr G. to answer our argument from this place — His observation on and from the text considered — 1. This promise not made to the Jews only, 2. Nor to all the nation of the Jews, proved from Rom. xi. 7; not intending principally their deliverance from Babylon — His inferences from his former observations weighed — 1. The promise made to the body of the people of the Jews typically only; 2. An exposition borrowed of Socinus rejected; 3. The promise not appropriated to the time of the captivity, and the disadvantage ensuing to Mr G.’s cause upon such an exposition — The place insisted on compared with Ezek. xi. 17–20 — That place cleared — A fourth objection answered — This promise always fulfilled — The spiritual part of it accomplished during the captivity — God’s intention not frustrated — How far the civil prosperity of the Jews was concerned in this promise — Promises of spiritual and temporal things compared — The covenant of grace how far conditional — Mr G.’s sense of this place expressed — Borrowed from Faustus Socinus — The inconsistency of it with the mind of the Holy Ghost demonstrated, also with what himself hath elsewhere delivered — No way suited to be the answer of our argument from the place — The same interpretation farther disproved — An immediate divine efficacy held out in the words — Conversion and pardon of sins promised — Differenced from the grace and promises of the old covenant — Contribution of means put by Mr G. in the place of effectual operation of the thing itself, farther disproved — How, when, and to whom this promise was fulfilled, farther declared — An objection arising upon that consideration answered — Conjectures ascribed to God by Mr G. — The real foundation of all divine predictions — The promise utterly enervated, and rendered of none effect by Mr G.’s exposition — Its consistency with the prophecies of the rejection of the Jews — The close of the argument from the covenant of grace.

Having shown the unchangeable stability of the love and favour of God towards his saints from the immutability of his own nature and purposes, manifested by an induction of sundry particular instances from eminent places of Scripture, wherein both the one and the other are held out as the foundation of what we affirm, I proceed to farther clear and demonstrate the same important truth from the first way of declaration whereby God hath assured them that it shall be to them according to the tenor of the proposition insisted on; and that is his covenant of grace. The principium essendi of this truth, if I may so say, is in the decrees and purposes of God; the principium cognoscendi, in his covenant, promise, and oath, which also add much to the real stability of it, the truth and faithfulness of God in them being thereby peculiarly engaged therein.

It is not in my purpose to handle the nature of the covenant of grace, but only briefly to look into it, so far as it hath influence into the truth in hand. The covenant of grace, then, as it inwraps the unchangeable love and favour of God towards those who are taken into the bond thereof, is that which lieth under our present consideration. The other great branch of it (upon the account of the same faithfulness of God), communicating permanency or perseverance in itself unto the saints, securing their continuance with God, shall, the Lord assisting, more peculiarly be explained when we arrive to the head of our discourse, unless enough to that purpose may fall in occasionally in the progress of this business.

For our present purpose, the producing and vindicating of one or two texts of Scripture, being unavoidably expressive towards the end aimed at, shall suffice.

The first of these is Gen. xvii. 7, “I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee.” This is that which God engageth himself unto in this covenant of grace, that he will for everlasting be a God to him and his faithful seed. Though the external administration of the covenant was given to Abraham and his carnal seed, yet the effectual dispensation of the grace of the covenant is peculiar to them only who are the children of the promise, the remnant of Abraham according to election, with all that in all nations were to be blessed in him and in his seed, Christ Jesus. Ishmael, though circumcised, was to be put out, and not to be heir with Isaac, nor to abide in the house for ever, as the son of the promise was, Gal. iv. 22, 23, 30. Now, the apostle tells you, look what blessings faithful Abraham received by virtue of this promise, the same do all believers receive: Chap. iii. 9, “They which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham;” which he proves (in the words foregoing) from Gen. xii. 3, because all nations were to be blessed in him. What blessing, then, was it that was here made over to Abraham? All the blessings that from God are conveyed in and by his seed, Jesus Christ (in whom both he and we are blessed), are inwrapped therein. What they are the apostle tells you, Eph. i. 3; they are “all spiritual blessings.” If perseverance, if the continuance of the love and favour of God towards us, be a spiritual blessing, both Abraham and all his seed, all faithful ones throughout the world, are blessed with it in Jesus Christ; and if God’s continuing to be a God to them for ever will enforce this blessing (being but the same thing in another expression), it is here likewise asserted.

It is importunately excepted, “That though God undertake to be our God in an everlasting covenant, and upon that account to bless us with the whole blessing that is conveyed by the promised seed, yet if we abide not with him, if we forsake him, he will also cease to be our God, and cease to bless us with the blessing which on others in Jesus Christ he will bestow.”

Ans. If there be a necessity to smite this evasion so often as we shall meet with it, it must be cut into a hundred pieces. For the present, I shall only observe two evils it is attended withal:— First, It takes no notice that God, who hath undertaken to be a God unto us, hath, with the like truth, power, and faithfulness, undertaken that we shall abide to be his people. So is his love in his covenant expressed by its efficacy to this end and purpose, Deut. xxx. 6, “The Lord thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live.” Secondly, It denies the continuance of the love of God to us to the end to be any part of the blessings wherewith we are blessed in Jesus Christ; for if it be, it could no more be suspended on any condition in us than the glorification of believers that abide so to the end.

This, then, is inwrapped in this promise of the covenant unto the elect, with whom it is established: God will be a God to them for ever, and that to bless them with all the blessings which he communicates in and by the Lord Jesus Christ, the promised seed. The continuance of his favour to the end is to us unquestionably a spiritual blessing (if any one be otherwise minded, I shall not press to share with him in his apprehension); and if so, it is in Christ, and shall certainly be enjoyed by them to whom God is a God in covenant. He that can suppose that he shall prevail with the saints of God to believe it will make for their consolation to apprehend that there is no engagement in his covenant, assuring them of the continuance of the favour of God unto them to the end of their pilgrimage, hath no reason to doubt or question the issue of any thing he shall undertake to persuade men unto. Doubtless he will find it very difficult with them who, in times of spiritual straits and pressures, have closed with this engagement of God in the covenant, and have had experience of its bearing them through all perplexities and entanglements, when the waves of temptation were ready to go over their souls. Certainly David was in another persuasion when, upon a view of all the difficulties he had passed through, and his house was to meet withal, he concludes, 2 Sam. xxiii. 5, “God hath made with me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things and sure: this is all my salvation, and all my desire.” The covenant from whence he had his sure mercies, not changeable, not alterable, not liable to failings, as the temporal prosperity of his house was, was that he rejoiced in.

I shall close this with two observations:—

First, It may, doubtless, and on serious consideration will, seem strange to any one acquainted in the least measure with God and his faithfulness, that, in a covenant established in the blood of Christ, he should freely promise to his that he would be a God unto them, — that is, that he would abide with them in the power, goodness, righteousness, and faithfulness, of a God, that he would be an all-sufficient God to them for ever, — yet, when he might with an almighty facility prevent it, and so answer and fulfil his engagement to the utmost, he should suffer them to become such villains and devils in wickedness that it should be utterly impossible for him, in the blood of his Son and the riches of his grace, to continue a God unto them; this, I say, seemeth strange to me, and not to be received without casting the greatest reproach imaginable on the goodness, faithfulness, and righteousness, of God.

Secondly, If this promise be not absolute, immutable, unchangeable, independent on any thing in us, it is impossible that any one should plead it with the Lord, but only upon the account of the sense that he hath of his own accomplishment of the condition on which the promise doth depend. I can almost suppose that the whole generation of believers will rise up against this assertion to remove it out of their way of walking with God. This I know, that most of them who at any time have walked in darkness and have had no light will reprove it to the faces of them that maintain it, and profess that God hath witnessed the contrary truth to their hearts.110 Are we, in the covenant of grace, left to our own hearts, ways, and walkings? Is it not differenced from that which is abolished? Is it not the great distinguishing character of it that all the promises of it are stable, and shall certainly be accomplished in Jesus Christ?111

One place I shall add more, wherein our intendment is positively expressed, beyond all possibility of any colourable evasion, especially considering the explication, enlargement, and application, which in other places it hath received. The place intended is Jer. xxxii. 38–40, “They shall be my people, and I will be their God: and I will give them one heart, and one way, that they may fear me for ever, for the good of them, and of their children after them: and I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from them, to do them good; but I will put my fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from me;” — in conjunction with these words, of the same importance, chap. xxxi. 31–34, “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers: but this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”

First, The thesis under demonstration is directly and positively affirmed, in most significant and emphatical words, by God himself. Seeing, then, the testimony of his holy prophets and apostles concerning him are so excepted against and so lightly set by, let us try if men will reverence himself, and cease contending with him when he appeareth in judgment. Saith he, then, to believers, those whom he taketh into covenant with him: “This is my covenant with you” (in the performance whereof his all-sufficiency, truth, and faithfulness, with all other his glorious attributes, are eminently engaged), “I will be your God” (what that expression intends is known, and the Lord here explains, by instancing in some eminent spiritual mercies thence flowing, as sanctification, and acceptance with him by the forgiveness of sins), “and that for ever, in an everlasting covenant, and I will not turn away from you to do you good.” This plainly God saith of himself, and this is all we say of him in the business, and which (having so good an author) we must say, whether men will hear or whether they will forbear. Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto men more than unto God, let all judge. Truly they have a sad task, in my apprehension, who are forced to sweat and labour to alleviate and take off the testimony of God.

Secondly, That the way the Lord proposeth to secure his love to his is upon terms of advantage, of glory and honour to himself, to take away all scruple which on that hand might arise, is fully also expressed. Sin is the only differencing thing between God and man; and hereinto it hath a double influence:— First, Moral, in its guilt, deserving that God should cast off a sinner, and prevailing with him, upon the account of justice, so to do. Secondly, Efficient, by causing men, through its power and deceitfulness, to depart from God, until, as backsliders in heart, they are filled with their own ways.112 Take away these two, provide for security on this hand, and there is no possible case imaginable of separation between God and man once brought together in peace and unity. For both these doth God hero undertake, For the first, saith he, “I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more,” chap. xxxi. 34. The guilt of sin shall be done away in Christ, and that on terms of the greatest honour and glory to the justice of God that can be apprehended: “God hath set forth Christ to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past,” Rom. iii. 25. And for the latter, that that may be thoroughly prevented, saith God, “The care shall lie on me; ‘I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts,’ ” chap. xxxi. 33; “I will put my fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from me,” chap. xxxii. 40. So that the continuance of his love is secured against all possible interveniences whatever, by an assured prevention of all such as have an inconsistency therewithal.

The apostle Paul, setting out the covenant which God ratified in the blood of Christ, which shall never be broken, takes the description of it from this place of the prophet, Heb. viii. 9–12; and therein fixeth particularly on the unchangeableness of it, in opposition to the covenant which went before, which was liable to mutation, when if these differed only in the approbation of several qualifications, they come to the same end; for if this covenant depend on conditions by ourselves and in our own strength, with the advantage of its proposal to us, attended with exhortations, and therefore by us to be fulfilled, how was it distinguished from that made with the people when they came out of Egypt? But in this very thing the difference of it lieth, as the apostle asserts, verses 6–8. The immutability of this covenant, and the certain product of all the mercy promised in it might, were that our present task, be easily demonstrated; as, —

First, From the removal of all causes of alteration. When two enter into covenant and agreement, no one can undertake that that covenant shall be firm and stable if it equally depend upon both; yea both, it may be, are changeable, and so actually changed before the accomplishing of the thing engaged about therein: however, though the one should be faithful, yet the other may fail, and so the covenant be broken. Thus it was with God and Adam. It could not be undertaken that that covenant should be kept inviolable, because though God continues faithful, yet Adam might prove (as indeed he did) faithless; and so the covenant was disannulled, as to any power of knitting together God and man. [Thus it is with] the covenant between husband and wife; the one party cannot undertake that the whole covenant shall be observed, because the other may prove treacherous. In this covenant the case is otherwise. God himself hath undertaken the whole, both for his continuing with us and our continuing with him. Now, he is one, God is one, and there is not another, that they should fail and disannul this agreement. Though there be sundry persons in covenant, yet there is but one undertaker on all hands, and that is God himself. It doth not depend upon the will of another, but of him only who is faithful, who cannot lie, who cannot deceive, who will make all his engagements good to the utmost. He is an all-sufficient one; “he will work, and who shall let him? “The Lord of hosts hath purposed, and who shall disannul it?” Yea, he is an unchangeable one; what he undertakes shall come to pass. Blessed be his name that he hath not laid the foundation of a covenant in the blood of his dear Son, laid out the riches of his wisdom, grace, and power about it, and then left it to us and our frail will to carry it on, that it should be in our power to make void the great work of his mercy! Whence, then, I say, should any change be, the whole depending on one, and him immutable?

Secondly, Seeing that God and man, having been at so great a distance as they were by sin, must needs meet in some mediator, some middle person, in whom and by whose blood (as covenants usually were confirmed by blood) this covenant must be ratified, consider who this is, and what he hath done for the establishing of it: “There is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,” 1 Tim. ii. 5. He is the “surety of this testament,” Heb. vii. 22; the “mediator of this better covenant, established upon better promises,” chap. viii. 6. Neither is this surety or mediator subject to change; he is “the same yesterday, and today, and for ever,” chap. xiii. 8. But though he be so in himself, yet is the work so that is committed to him? Saith the apostle, “All the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us,” 2 Cor. i. 20. God hath in him and by him ascertained all the promises of the covenant, that not one of them should be broken: disannulled, frustrated, or come short of an accomplishment. God hath so confirmed them in him, that he hath at his death made a legacy of them, and bequeathed them in a testamentary dispensation to the covenanters, Heb. ix. 15–17. And what he hath farther done for the assurance of his saints’ abiding with God shall afterward be declared.

Thirdly, The faithfulness of God is oftentimes peculiarly mentioned in reference to this very thing: “The God which keepeth covenant” is his name. That which he hath to keep is all that in covenant he undertaketh. Now, in this covenant he undertaketh, — first, That he will never forsake us; secondly, That we shall never forsake him. His faithfulness is engaged to both these; and if either part should fail, what would the Lord do to his great name, “The God which keepeth covenant?”

Notwithstanding the undertaking of God on both sides in this covenant; notwithstanding his faithfulness in the performance of what he undertaketh; notwithstanding the ratification of it in the blood of Jesus, and all that he hath done for the confirmation of it; notwithstanding its differing from the covenant that was disannulled on this account, that that was broken, which this shall never be (that being broken not as to the truth of the proposition wherein it is contained, “Do this and live,” but as to the success of it in bringing any to God); notwithstanding the seal of the oath that God set unto it, — they, I say, who, notwithstanding all these things, will hang the unchangeableness of this covenant of God upon the slipperiness, and uncertainty, and lubricity of the will of man, “let them walk in the light of the sparks which themselves have kindled;” we will walk in the light of the Lord our God.

When first I perused Mr Goodwin’s exceptions to this testimony, chap. x. sect. 52–56, pp. 219–224, finding them opposed not so much nor so directly to our inference from this place as to the design, intendment, and arguing of the apostle, Rom. ix.–xi., and to the re-enforcing of the objections by him answered, casting again the “rock of offence” in the way by him removed, I thought to have passed it without any reply, being not convinced that it was possible for the author himself to be satisfied either with his own exposition of this place or his exceptions unto ours; but arriving at length to the close of his discourse, I found him “quasi re preclarè gestâ,” to triumph in his victory, expressing much confidence that the world of saints, who have hitherto bottomed much of their faith and consolation on the covenant of God in these words expressed, will vail their faith and understanding to his uncontrollable dictates, and not once make mention of the name of God in this place any more. Truly, for my part, I must take the boldness to say that, before the coming forth of his learned treatise, I had read, and, according to my weak ability, weighed and considered, whatever either Arminians or Socinians (from the founder of which sect their and his interpretation of this place is borrowed) had entered against the interpretation insisted on, that I could by any means attain the sight of, and was not in the least shaken by any of their reasonings from rejoicing in the grace of God, as to the unchangeableness of his love to believers, and the certainty of their perseverance with him to the end, therein expressed; and I must add, that I am not one jot enamoured of their objections and reasonings, for all the new dress which, with some cost, our author hath been pleased to furnish them with, fashionably to set out themselves withal. Were it not for the confidence you express, in the close of your discourse, of your noble exploits and achievements in the consideration of this text (which magnificent thoughts of your undertaking and success I could not imagine from the reading of your arguments or exceptions, though on other accounts I might), I should not have thought it worth while to examine it particularly; which now, to safeguard the consolation of the weakest believers, and to encourage them to hold fast their confidence, so well established, against the assaults of all adversaries, Satan or Arminians, I shall briefly do:—

1. Then, saith Mr Goodwin, “Evident it is, from the whole tenor of the chapter, that the words contain especial promises, made particularly to the Jews.”

Ans. If by particularly you mean exclusively, to them and not to others, this is evidently false; for the apostle tells you, Heb. viii. 6, to the end of the chapter, that the covenant here mentioned is that whereof Christ is mediator, and the promise of it those better promises which they are made partakers of who have an interest in his mediation.

2. He saith, “As evident it is, upon the same account, that the promise here mentioned was not made only to the saints or sound believers amongst the Jews, who were but few, but to the whole body or generality of them.”

Ans. True, it is as evident as what before you affirmed, and that in the same kind, — that is, it is evidently false, or else the promise itself is so, for it was never fulfilled towards them all. But I refer you to a learned author, who hath long since assoiled this difficulty, and taught us to distinguish between a Jew ἐν τῷ φανερῷ and a Jew ἐν τῷ κρυπτῷ, of Israel according to “the flesh” and according to “the promise.” He hath also taught us that “they are not all Israel that are of Israel,” Rom. ii. 28, 29, ix. 6, 7. And upon that account it is that the word of this promise doth not fail, though all “of Israel” do not enjoy the fruit of it; — not that it is conditional, but that it was not at all made unto them, as to the spiritual part of it, to whom it was not wholly fulfilled. And chap. xi. 7, he tells you that it was “the election” to whom these promises were made, and they obtained the fruit of them; neither doth that appendix of promises pointed to look any other way. When you have made good your observation by a reply to that learned author, we shall think of a rejoinder. It is therefore added, —

3. “It is yet, upon the same account, as evident as either of the former that this promise was made unto this nation of the Jews when and whilst they were (or at least considered as now being) in the iron furnace of the Babylonian captivity, verse 23.”

Ans. That this solemn renovation of this promise of the covenant was not made to them when in Babylon, but given out to them beforehand, to sustain their hearts and spirits withal, in their bondage and thraldom, is granted. And what then, I pray? Is it any new thing to have spiritual promises solemnly given out and renewed upon the occasion of temporal distresses? A promise of Christ is given out to the house of David when in feat of being destroyed, Isa. vii. 13, 14; so it was given to Adam, Gen. iii. 15; so to Abraham, Gen. xvii.; so to the church, Isa. iv. 2–6. But farther it is said, —

4. “From the words immediately preceding the passages offered to debate, it clearly appears that the promise in these passages relates unto and concerns their reduction and return from and out of that captivity into their own land.”

Ans. Will Mr Goodwin say that it doth only concern that? Dareth any man so boldly contradict the apostle, setting out from this very place the tenor of the covenant of grace, ratified in the blood of Christ? Heb. viii. 7–12. Nay, will any say that so much of the promise here as God calleth his covenant, chap. xxxi. 33, 34, xxxii. 38–40, doth at all concern their reduction into their own land any farther than it was a type or resemblance of our deliverance by Christ? These evident assertions ate as express and flat contradictions to the evident intendment of the Holy Ghost as any man is able to invent. But, —

Mr Goodwin hath many deductions out of the former “sure and evident” premises, to prove that this is not a promise of absolute and final perseverance (it is a strange perseverance that is not final!) in grace to the end of their lives; for, saith he, —

1. “The promise is made to the body of the people, and not to the saints and believers among them, and respects as well the unfaithful as the believers in that nation.”

Ans. It was made to “the body of the people” only typically considered, and so it was accomplished to the body of the people; spiritually and properly to the elect among the people, who, as the apostle tells us, obtained accordingly, there being also in the promise wrapped up the grace of effectual conversion. It may in some sense be said to be made to the “unfaithful,” — that is, to such as were so antecedently to the grace thereof, — but not to any that abide so; for the promise is, not that they shall not, but that they shall believe, and continue in so doing to the end. But, saith he —

2. “This promise was appropriated and fitted to the state of the Jews in a sad captivity; but the promise of perseverance was, if our adversaries might be believed, a standing promise among them, not appropriated to their condition.”

Ans. 1. “Non venit ex pharetris ista sagitta tuis.” It is Socinus’, in reference to Ezek. xxxvi., in Præl. Theol. cap. xii. sect. 6; and so is the whole interpretation of the place afterward insisted on derived to Mr Goodwin through the hands of the Remonstrants at the Hague conference. 2. If this exception against the testimony given in these words for the confirmation of the thesis in hand may be allowed, what will become of Mr Goodwin’s argument from Ezek. xviii. for the apostasy of the saints? It is most certain the words from thence by him and others insisted on, with the whole discourse of whose contexture they are a part, are appropriated to a peculiar state of the Jews, and are brought forth as a meet vindication of the righteousness of God in his dealing with them in that condition. This, then, may be laid up in store to refresh Mr Goodwin with something of his own providing, when we are gone so far onward in our journey. But, 3. It is most evident to all the world that Mr Goodwin is not such a stranger in the Scriptures as not to have observed long since that spiritual promises are frequently given to the people of God to support their souls under temporal distresses; and that not always new promises for the matter of them (for indeed the substance of all promises is comprised in the first promise of Christ), but either such as enlarge and clear up grace formerly given or promised, or such as have need of a solemn renewal for the establishing of the faith, of the saints, assaulted in some particular manner in reference to them, which was the state of the saints among the Jews at this time. How often was the same promise renewed to Abraham! and upon what several occasions! and yet that promise, for the matter of it, was the same that had been given from the beginning of the world. That God’s solemn renewal of the covenant at any time is called his making of or entering into covenant needs no labour to prove. But, saith he, —

3. “This promise is the same with that of Ezek. xi. 17–20; which promise notwithstanding, it is said, verse 21, ‘But as for them whose heart walketh after the heart of their detestable things, and their abominations, I will recompense their way upon their heads:’ so that notwithstanding this seeming promise, as is pretended, of perseverance in grace, they may walk after their abominable things; for this threatening intends the same persons or nation (as Calvin himself confesseth), the Israelites.”

Ans. 1. Grant that this is the same promise with the other, how will it appear that this is not a promise of such an interposure of the Spirit and grace of God as shall infallibly produce the effect of perseverance? “Why, because some are threatened for following the heart of their abominable things.” Yea, but how shall it appear that they are the same persons with them to whom the promise is made? The context is plainly against it. Saith He, “I will give them a heart to walk in my statutes and ordinances, to do them; but for them that walk after their own hearts, them I will destroy,” in as clear a distinction of the object of the promise and threatening as is possible. Saith Mr Goodwin, “This threatening concerns the same persons or nation.” The same nation, but not the same persons in that nation. “But Calvin saith that concerning the Israelites.” But Paul hath told us that “they are not all Israel who are of Israel, not all children of the promise who are children of the flesh.” And, —

2. If it do any way concern the persons to whom that promise is given, it is an expression suited to the dispensation of God whereby he carrieth believers on in the enjoyment of the good things he gives them in and by his promises, without the least prediction of any event, being only declarative of what the Lord abhorreth, and of the connection that is between the antecedent and the consequent of the axiom wherein it is contained, and is far from the nature of those promises which hold out the purpose or intention of God, with the engaging of a real efficacy for their accomplishment. He adds, —

4. “If this be a promise of absolute perseverance, no time nor season can be imagined wherein it was fulfilled.”

Ans. At all times and seasons to them to whom it was made, according to their concernment in it. But saith he, —

(1.) “It hath been proved that it was made to the community of the Jewish nation, towards whom it was not fulfilled.”

Ans. (1.) It hath been said, indeed, again and again, but scarce once attempted to be proved, nor the reasoning of the apostle against some pretended proofs and answers to them at all removed. (2.) It was fulfilled to the body of that nation, as far as it concerned the body of that nation, in their typical return from their captivity. But then, —

(2.) “If this be the sense, it was fulfilled in the captivity as well as afterward, for you say the saints always persevere.”

Ans. (1.) The typical part of it was not then accomplished. (2.) It is granted that as to the spiritual part of the covenant of grace, it was at all times fulfilled to them, which is now evidently promised to establish them in the assurance thereof. Wherefore it is, —

5. Argued, sect. 53, (1.) “That these words, ‘I will give them one heart, that they shall not depart from me,’ may be as well rendered, ‘That they may not depart from me;’ and so it is said in the verse foregoing, ‘That they may fear me for ever.’ ”

Ans. Suppose the words may be thus rendered, what inconvenience will ensue? Either way they evidently and beyond exception design out the end aimed at by God; and when God intends an end or event, so as to exert a real efficacy for the compassing of it, to say that it shall not be infallibly brought about is an assertion that many have not as yet had the boldness to venture on. But saith he, —

(2.) “The words so read do not necessarily import the actual event or taking place of the effect intended of God in the promise, and his performance thereof, but only his intention itself in both these, and the sufficiency of the means allowed for producing such an effect: but it is of the same nature with that that our Saviour saith, John v. 34, ‘These things I say unto you, that ye might be saved;’ and that of God to Adam, Gen. iii. 10, 11.” All which things were in like manner insisted on by the Remonstrants at the Hague colloquy.

Ans. It is not amiss that our contests about the sense of this place of Scripture are at length come to the state and issue here expressed. It is granted the thing promised, and that according to the intendment of God, is perseverance; but that there is any necessity that this promise of God should be fulfilled or his intention accomplished, that is denied. Were it not that I should prevent myself in what will be more seasonable to be handled when we come to the consideration of the promises of God, I should very willingly engage here into the proof of this assertion. When God purposeth or intendeth an event, and promiseth to do it, to that end putting forth and exercising an efficient real power, it shall certainly be accomplished and brought to pass; neither can this be denied without casting the greatest reproach of mutability, impotency, and breach of word, upon the Most Holy, that is possible for any man to do. Neither do the Remonstrants nor Mr Goodwin acquit themselves from a participation in so high a crime by their instance of Gen. iii. 10, 11, where a command of God is only related to express his duty to whom it was given, not in the least asserting any intention of God about the event, or promise as to the means of its accomplishment. Nor doth that of John viii. 28 give them any more assistance in their sad undertaking to alleviate the truth of God. A means of salvation in its own nature and kind sufficient is exhibited, which asserts not an infallible necessity of event, as that doth which in this place is ascribed to God. But it is added, —

6. Sect. 54, “The continuance of external and civil prosperity to the Jewish nation may much more colourably be argued from hence than the certainty of their perseverance in grace; for these things are most expressly promised, verses 39, 40, and yet we find that, upon their non-performance of the condition, they are become the most contemptible and miserable nation under heaven. Certainly, then, the spiritual promises here must also depend on conditions, which if not fulfilled, they also may come short of performance.”

Ans. 1. Rom. xi. 25–27. 2. These temporal promises were fulfilled unto them so far as they were made to them, — that is, as they were typical, — and what is behind of them shall be made good in due time. 3. All these promises are, and were, in their chiefest and most eminent concernments (even the spiritual things set forth by allusions to the good land wherein they lived), completely and absolutely fulfilled to them, all and every one, to whom they were properly and directly made, as the apostle abundantly proveth, Rom. ix.–xi. 4. Whereas there are two special spiritual promises here expressed, one of conversion, the other of perseverance, I desire to know on what condition their accomplishment is suspended? On what condition will God write his law in their hearts? “On condition they hear him and obey him, suffer his mercies and kindnesses to work kindly on them.” That is, on condition his law be in their hearts, he will write it there! Thanks yet for that! On what condition doth God promise that they shall abide with him for ever? “Why, on the condition they depart not from him.” Very good! To what end doth God promise that which he will not effect, but only on condition that there is no need for him so to do! But, saith he, —

7. “If the spiritual promises be absolute, so must the temporal be also; for their accomplishing depends solely on the things mentioned and promised in the spiritual.”

Ans. 1. Temporal things in the promises are often expressed only to be a resemblance, and to set off some eminent spiritual grace intended, as shall afterward appear. In that sense the promises mentioning such things are actually and fully accomplished in the collation of the spiritual things by them typed and resembled. 2. Temporal promises, as such, belong not primarily to the covenant of grace, as they are of temporal things for the substance of them, but to the covenant with that whole nation about their inheritance in the land of Canaan, which was expressly conditional, and which held out no more of God’s intendment to that nation but only that there should be an inviolable connection between their obedience and prosperity. 3. The things in this promise are expressly differenced from the things of that covenant on this account, that that covenant being broken on the part of the nation, they enjoyed not that which was laid out as a fruit of their obedience; but this shall never be violated or broken, God undertaking for the accomplishing of it with another manner of engaging and suitable power exerted than in that of old, Heb. viii. 7–12, x. 16, 17. But, saith he, —

8. “The expression of a ‘covenant’ plainly shows it to be conditional; for a covenant is not but upon the mutual stipulation parties; when one fails, then is the other true.”

Ans. 1. The word “berith” is sometimes used for a single promise without a condition, Gen. vi. 18, ix. 9; whence the apostle, handling this very promise, changeth the terms and calleth it a “testament.” In a testamentary dispensation there is not in the nature of it any mutual stipulation required, but only a mere single favour and grant or concession. 2. It may be granted that here is a of duty from us, God promising to work that in us which he requires of us; and hereby is this covenant distinguished from that which was disannulled. In the good things, indeed, of this covenant, one may be the condition of another, but both are freely bestowed of God.

And these are Mr Goodwin’s exceptions against this testimony, which cometh in in the cause of God and his saints, that we have in hand. His next attempt is to give you the sense of the words on this consideration, to manifest from thence that this promise of God may come short of accomplishment.

This, then, at length, is the account that is given in of the sense of the promise in hand, and all others of the like nature:—

“ ‘I will give them one heart, and one way, that they may fear me for ever, and will put my fear into their hearts, that they shall not,’ or may not, ‘depart from me;’ that is, ‘I will deal so above measure graciously and bountifully with them, as well in matters relating to their spiritual condition as in things concerning their outward condition, that if they be not prodigiously refractory, stubborn, and unthankful, I will overcome their evils with my goodness, and will cause them to own me for their God, and will reduce them as one man to a loving and loyal frame and temper of heart, that they shall willingly, with a free and full purpose of heart, fear and serve me for ever,’ ” sect. 55.

Ans. The first author of this gloss upon a parallel text was Socinus, Præl. Theol. cap. 6, whose words are: “This place of Ezekiel is well explained by Erasmus in his Diatribe, saying, ‘That there is a usual figure of speaking contained in it, whereby a care in any of working something by another is signified, his endeavour being not excluded: as if a master should say to his scholar, speaking improperly, I will take away that barbarous tongue from thee, and give thee the Roman.’ These are almost the words of Erasmus. To which add, that it appeareth from the place itself that God would not signify any necessity or any internal efficacy when he declareth that he will effect what he promiseth no other way than by the multitude of his benefits, wherewith he would affect the people and mollify their hearts and minds, and thereby, as it were, beget and create in them a willingness and alacrity in obeying of him.”113 The Remonstrants received this sense in the conference at the Hague, managing it in these words: “It is manifest that these words do signify some great efficacy and motion, which should come to pass by the many and excellent benefits of God, for whose sake they ought to convert themselves,” etc.: which worthy interpretation being at length fallen upon Mr Goodwin’s hand, is trimmed forth as you have heard. Secondly, Not to insist on those assumptions which are supposed in this interpretation, — as, that this promise was made peculiarly to the Jews, and to the whole nation of them properly and directly, etc., — the gloss itself will be found by no means to have the least consistency with either the words or intendment of the Holy Ghost in the place, nor to be suited to answer our argument from thence, nor yet to hold any good intelligence or correspondency with what hath already been delivered concerning it: for, —

1. To begin with the latter, he affirms this cannot be a promise of absolute perseverance, “because if it be so, the Jews enjoyed it in that captivity as well as afterward, when that is here promised which they were not to receive until in and upon their return from Babylon,” sect. 52, pp. 220, 221. But if that which is here mentioned be all that is promised to them, — namely, dealing so graciously and bountifully with them in his dispensations, according as was intimated, — there is not any thing in the least held out to them in this place but what God had already (himself being judge) in as eminent and high a manner wrought in reference to them and for them as could be conceived; and indeed it was such as he never after this arose to that height of outward mercy and bounty in things spiritual and temporal so as before, Isa. v. 1, 2, 4. Neither after the captivity unto this day did they see again the triumphant glory of David, the magnificent peace of Solomon, the beauty of the temple, the perfection of ordinances, etc., as before.

2. Whereas he affirmed formerly that “this promise is conditional, and that the things therein promised do depend on conditions by them to be fulfilled to whom the promise is made,” sect. 54, p. 221, in the gloss here given us of the words there is no intimation of any such conditions as whereupon the promised actings of God should be suspended, but only an uncertainty of event in reference to these actings asserted. That (according to this interpretation) which alone God promiseth to do is, that “he would deal above measure graciously and bountifully with them, as well in matters relating to their spiritual condition as in things concerning their outward condition.” This is all he promiseth; and this he will absolutely do, be the event what it will. It is not said (nor can it, with any pretence of reason) that this also is conditional; nay, whatever the event and issue be, that God will thus deal with them is the sense of the words in hand, according to the estimate here taken of them. It is true, it is in the exposition under consideration left doubtful and ambiguous whether such or such an event shall follow the promised actings of God or not; but what God promiseth concerning his dealing with them, that, without supposal of any condition whatever, shall be accomplished. According as a sense serves the turn, so it is to be embraced, when men are once engaged against the truth.

3. Neither doth this interpretation so much as take notice of, much less doth it with any strength or evidence waive, our argument for the saints’ perseverance from this place. We affirm, — (1.) That the promise God made unto, or the covenant he makes here with, his people, is distinguished from or opposed unto the covenant that was broken, upon this account, that that was broken by the default of them with whom it was made, but God would take care and provide that this should not fail, but be everlasting, Jer. xxxi. 32, xxxii. 40; Heb. viii. 8, 9. (2.) That the intendment of God in this promise, and’ the administration of this covenant, with means and power mentioned therein, is the abiding of his saints with him, or rather, primarily and principally, his abiding with them, notwithstanding all such interveniences as he will not powerfully prevent from ever interposing to the disturbance of that communion he taketh them into. “I will,” saith he, “make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from them, to do them good.” Now, these things, and such like, are not once taken notice of in the exposition boasted to be full and clear.

4. Neither, indeed, hath it any affinity unto or acquaintance in name or thing with the words or intendment of God, with the grace of the promise, or the promise itself; for, —

(1.) God says he will “give them one heart and one way,” or he will “put his law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts;” which is plainly the work of his grace in them, and not the effect and fruit of his dealing with them. In the gloss in hand, the work of God is limited to such dealings with them as may “overcome them” to such a frame. The having of a new heart is either the immediate work of God, or it is their yielding unto their duty to him, upon his “dealing bountifully and graciously with them.” If the first, it is what the Scripture affirms, and all that we desire; if the latter, how comes it to be expressed in terms holding out an immediate divine efficiency? That the taking away of a heart of stone, the giving of a new heart and spirit, the writing of the law in their hearts, and (which is all one) the quickening of the dead, the opening of blind eyes, the begetting of us anew, as they relate unto God, do signify no more but his administration of means, whereby men may be wrought upon and persuaded to bring their hearts and spirits into such a condition as is described in those expressions, to quicken themselves, to open their blind eyes, etc, Mr Goodwin shall scarce be able to evince.

(2.) Conversion and pardon of sin being both in this promise of the covenant (I take in also that place of the same importance, chap. xxxi. 33, 34), and relating alike to the grace of God, if conversion, or the giving of a new heart, be done only by administering outward means and persuasions unto men to make them new hearts, the forgiveness of sins must also be supposed to be tendered unto them upon the condition that their sins be forgiven, as conversion is on condition they be converted, or do convert themselves.

(3.) This promise being by the prophet and apostle insisted on as containing the grace whereby, eminently and peculiarly, the new covenant is distinguished from that which was abolished, if the grace mentioned therein be only the laying a powerful and strong obligation on men to duty and obedience, upon the account of the gracious and bountiful dealing of God with them, both as to their temporal and spiritual condition, I desire to know wherein the difference of it from the old covenant, as to the collation of grace, doth consist, and whether ever God made a covenant with man wherein he did not put sufficient obligations of this kind upon him unto obedience; and if so, what are the “better promises” of the new covenant, and what eminent and singular things as to the bestowing of grace are in it; which things here are emphatically expressed to the uttermost.

(4.) The scope of this exposition (which looks but to one part of the promise about bestowing of grace, overlooking the main end and intendment of it, as hath been showed) being to darken the words of the Holy Ghost, so far as to make them represent a contribution of means instead of an effectual working the end and the event, on which the means supplied have an influence of persuasion to prevail with men to do the things they are afforded them for, I desire to know, First, What new thing is here promised to them which exceeded that mentioned chap. xxv. 4, 5, wherein the Lord testifies that he had granted them formerly a large supply of outward means (and especially of the word) for the end here spoken of. Secondly, To what end and on what account is this administration of means for a work expressed by terms of a real efficiency in reference to the work itself; which, proceeding from the intendment of God for the event aimed at, must needs produce it. And, thirdly, Why these words should not be of the same importance with the associate expression, which of necessity must be interpreted of an actual and absolute efficiency, Jer. xxxii. 41, 42. And fourthly, Whether the administration of outward sufficient means for the producing of an event can be a ground of an infallible prediction of that event? as God here absolutely saith, “They shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them,” chap. xxxi. 34; — which how it is brought about, the Holy Ghost acquaints us, Isa. liv. 13, “All thy children shall be taught of the Lord;” and John vi. 45, “It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me.” But Mr Goodwin hath sundry reasons to confirm his gloss, which must also be considered; and he saith, —

1. “That it is the familiar dialect of Scripture to ascribe the doing of things or effects themselves to him that ministers occasions or proper and likely means for the doing of them. So God is said to give them one heart and one way, to put his fear into their hearts, when he administers motives, means, occasions, and opportunities to them, which are proper to work them to such a frame and disposition of heart, out of which men are wont to love and obey him, whether they be ever actually brought thereunto or no; and this promise was fulfilled to the people after their return out of captivity, in the mercies they enjoyed and the preaching of the prophets.”

Ans. We are not now to be informed that this is Mr Goodwin’s doctrine concerning conversion, — 1. That God doth only administer means, motives, and opportunities for it, but that man thereupon converts himself; and, 2. That when God hath done all he will or can, that the event may not follow, nor the work be wrought: but that this sense, by any means or opportunities, can be fastened on the promise under consideration, we are not as yet so well instructed. When God once intendeth an end, and expresseth himself so to do, promising to work really and efficiently for the accomplishing of it, yea, that he will actually do it, by that efficiency preventing all interpositions whatever that may tend to frustrate his design, that that end of his shall not be accomplished, or that that working of his is only an administration of means, whereby men may do the things intended if they will, or may do otherwise (he affirming that he will do them himself), is a doctrine beyond my reach and capacity. His saying that “in this sense the promise was fulfilled to the people after the captivity,” is a swing against his own light. He hath told us not long since that it could not be a promise of those things which were enjoyed before it was ever given, as in our sense they did the grace of perseverance, etc. Surely the means he mentioneth (until at least the coming of Christ in the flesh) were advanced to a far higher pitch and eminency on all hands before the captivity than after; and at the coming of Christ it was eminently fulfilled, in our acceptation of it, unto all to whom it was made. But he adds, —

2. “That if it be not so to be understood, and so said to be fulfilled as above, it is impossible for any one to assign how and when this promise was fulfilled; for, — First, It was made to the whole people, and the fulfilling of it to a few will not confirm the truth of it. Secondly, The elect had no need of it, knowing themselves to be so, and that they should never fall away; so that this is but to make void the glorious promise of God. And, thirdly, To say that it was made to the elect is but to beg the thing in question.”

Ans. 1. As far as the body of the people was concerned in it, it was, and shall be in the latter days, absolutely accomplished towards them. It was, it is, and shall be, fulfilled to all to whom it was made, if so be that God be faithful and cannot deny himself. 2. It was, it is, and shall be, accomplished properly and directly to all the elect of that nation, to whom it was so made, as it hath been cleared already from Rom. ix.–xi., where the apostle, expressly and data opera, answers the very objection that Mr Goodwin makes about the accomplishing of these promises, concerning the hardening and rejection of the greatest part of that people, affirming it to consist in this, that the “election obtained when the rest were hardened;” wherein he did not beg the question, though he digged not for it, but answered by clear distinctions, as you may see, Rom. ix. 6, xi. 1, 2, 7. 3. Neither do all the elect after their calling know themselves to be so, nor have they any other way to become acquainted with their election but by their faith in the promises: nor is it spoken like one acquainted with the course and frame of God’s dealing with his saints, or with their spirits in walking with God, who supposeth the solemn and clear renovation of promises concerning the same things, with explanations and enlargements of the grace of them, to confirm and establish the communion between the one and the other, to be needless. And who make the promises of God void and of no effect? — we who profess the Lord to be faithful in every one of them, and that no one tittle of them shall fall to the ground or come short of accomplishment; or Mr Goodwin, who reports the grace mentioned in them, for the most part, to come short of producing the effect for which it is bestowed, and the engagements of God in them to depend so upon the lubricity of the wills of men, that mostly they are not made good in the end aimed at? The Lord will judge. But it is farther argued, —

3. “That the Scripture many times asserts the futurity or coming to pass of things not yet in being, not only when the coming of them to pass is certainly known, but when it is probable, upon the account of the means used for the bringing them to pass; for God saith in the parable, ‘They will reverence my Son,’ Mark xii. 6, and yet the event was contrary. So upon the executing an offender, he saith, ‘The people shall hear and fear, and do no more presumptuously;’ which yet might not have its effect on all. So God saith, ‘I will give them one heart;’ not out of any certainty of knowledge or determination in himself that any such heart or way should actually be given them, which would infallibly produce the effect mentioned, but that he would grant such means as were proper to create such a heart in them.”

Ans. 1. The nearer the bottom the more sour the lees. First, Doth God foretell the coming to pass of things future upon a probable conjecture, which is here assigned to him? Is that the intendment of the expression in the parable, “They will reverence my Son.” Or was he mistaken in the event, the thing falling out contrary to his expectation? Or is there any thing in this, or the place mentioned, Deut. xvii. 12, 13, but only an expression of the duty of men upon the account of the means offered? Is there any the least intimation of any intent and purpose of God as to the events insisted on? any promise of his effectual working for the accomplishing of them? any prediction upon the account of his purpose and design, which are the foundation of all his predictions? Or is there any the least correspondency in name or thing between the places now instanced in and called in for relief with that under consideration? This, then, is the sinew of Mr Goodwin’s arguing in this place: “Sometimes when there are means offered men for the performance of a duty, the accomplishment of it is spoken of as of what ought to have succeeded; and it is the fault of men to whom that duty is prescribed and these means indulged if it come not to pass; therefore, when God purposeth and promiseth to work and bring about such and such a thing, and engageth himself to a real efficiency in it, yet it may come to pass or it may not, — it may be accomplished, or God may fail in his intendment.” 2. The sense here given to the promise of God, “I will give them one heart,” etc., hath been formerly taken into consideration, and it hath been made to appear that, notwithstanding all the glorious expressions of God’s administration of means to work men into the frame intimated, yet, upon the matter, the intendment of the exposition given amounts to this: “Though God saith he will give us a new heart, yet indeed he doth not so give it to any one in the world, nor ever intended to do so; but this new heart men must create, make, and work out themselves, upon the means afforded them, which, being very eminent, are said to create such hearts in them, though they do it not, but only persuade men thereunto.” A comment this is not much unlike the first that ever was made upon the words of God, Gen. iii. 5! Whether God or man create the new heart is the matter here in question.

For what he lastly affirms, “That if this be a promise of absolute perseverance, it is inconsistent with all the prophecies of the rejection of the Jews, which are accordingly fulfilled,” I must refer him to St Paul, who hath long ago undertaken to answer this objection; from whom if he receive not satisfaction, what am I that I should hope to afford the least unto him?

And these are the reasonings upon the account whereof Mr Goodwin dischargeth this text of Scripture, by virtue of his autocratorical power in deciding controversies of this nature, from bearing testimony in this cause any more. Whether he will be attended unto herein time will show. Many attempts to the same purpose have formerly been made, and yet it endureth the trial.

I have thus turned aside to the consideration of the exceptions given in to the ordinary interpretation of this place, lest any should think that they were waived upon the account of their strength and efficacy to overthrow it. The argument I intended from the words, for the stability of God’s love and favour to believers upon the account of his covenant engagement, is not once touched in any of them. These words, then, yield a third demonstration of the steadfastness and unchangeableness of acceptation of believers in Christ, upon the account of the absolute stability of that covenant of grace whereof God’s engagement to be their God and never to forsake them is an eminent portion.

110    Ps. lxxviii. 26; Isa. viii. 17, 1, 10.
111    2 Cor. i. 20; Heb. vii. 22, viii. 7–9.
112    Heb. iii. 13; Prov. i. 31, xiv. 14.
113    “Hunc Ezechielis locum satis commode explicat Erasmus in sua Diatribe, dicens, In eo contineri usitatam figuram loquendi, qua cura in altero aliquid efficiendi significatur, illius opera minime exclusa: ac si quis (inquit) præceptor discipulo solœcizanti diceret, Exeram tibi linguam istam barbaricam, et inseram Romanam. Hæc sunt fere ipsius Erasmi verba. Quibus adde ex loco ipso satis apparere nullam necessitatem Deum significare voluisse, sed neque ullam vim interiorem, cum non alia ratione ea, quæ ibi pollicetur se effecturum, ostendat Deus, quam beneficiorum multitudine, quibus affecturus erat populum, ejusque cor et animum emolliturus,” etc. — Soc. Præl. cap. 12 s. 6, p. 45.


Chapter 5. Argument from the promises of God.

Entrance into the argument from the promises of God, with their stability and his faithfulness in them — The usual exceptions to this argument — A general description of gospel promises — Why and on what account called gospel promises — The description given general, not suited to any single promise — They are free, and that they are so proved, all flowing from the first great promise of giving a Redeemer — How they are discoveries of God’s good-will; how made to sinners — Consequential promises made also to believers — Given in and through Christ in a covenant of grace — Their certainty upon the account of the engagement of the truth and faithfulness of God in them — Of the main matter of these promises, Christ and the Spirit — Of particular promises, all flowing from the same love and grace — Observations on the promises of God, subservient to the end intended — 1. They are all true and faithful; the ground of the assertion — 2. Their accomplishment always certain, not always evident — 3. All conditional promises made good, and how — 4. The promises of perseverance of two sorts — 5. All promises of our abiding with God in faith and obedience absolute — The vanity of imposing conditions on them discovered — 6. Promises of God’s abiding with us not to be separated from promises of our abiding with him — 7. That they do not properly depend on any condition in believers demonstrated — Instances of this assertion given — 8. Making them conditional renders them void as to the ends for which they are given — Given to persons, not to qualifications — The argument from the promises of God stated — Mr G.’s exceptions against the first proposition cleared, and his objections answered — The promises of God always fulfilled — Of the promise made to Paul, Acts xxvii. 24, etc. — Good men make good their promises to the utmost of their abilities — The promise made to Paul absolute and of infallible accomplishment — Of the promise of our Saviour to his disciples, Matt. xix. 28 — Who intended in that promise; not Judas — The accomplishment of the promise — The testimony of Peter Martyr considered — The conclusion of the forementioned objection — The engagement of the faithfulness of God for the accomplishment of his promise, 1 Cor. i. 9; 1 Thess. v. 23, 24; 2 Thess. iii. 3 — The nature of the faithfulness of God, expressed in the foregoing places, inquired into — Perverted by Mr G. — His notion of the faithfulness of God weighed and rejected — What intended in the Scripture by the faithfulness of God — The close of the confirmation of the proposition or the argument proposed from the promises of God — The assumption thereof vindicated — The sense put upon it by Mr G. — The question begged.

The consideration of the promises of God, which are all branches of the forementioned root, all streaming from the fountain of the covenant of grace, is, according to the method proposed, in the next place incumbent on us. The argument for the truth under contest which from hence is afforded and used is by Mr Goodwin termed “The first-born of our strength,” chap. xi. sect. 1, p. 225; and indeed we are content that it may be so accounted, desiring nothing more ancient, nothing more strong, effectual, and powerful, to stay our souls upon, than the promises of that God who cannot lie.114 I shall, for the present, insist only on those which peculiarly assert, and in the name and authority of God confirm, that part of the truth we are peculiarly in demonstration of, — namely, the unchangeable stability of the love and favour of God to believers, in regard whereof he turneth not from them nor forsaketh them upon the account of any such interveniences whatever as he will suffer to be interposed in their communion with him; leaving those wherein he gives assurance upon assurance that he will give out unto them such continual supplies of his Spirit and grace that they shall never depart from him to their due and proper place.

I am not unacquainted with the usual exception that lieth against the demonstration of the truth in hand from the promises of God, to wit, that they are conditional, depending on some things in the persons themselves to whom they are made, upon whose change or alteration they also may be frustrated, and not receive their accomplishment. Whether this plea may be admitted against the particular promises that we shall insist upon will be put upon the trial, when we come to the particular handling of them. For the present, being resolved, by God’s assistance, to pursue the demonstration proposed from them, it may not be amiss, yea, rather it may be very useful, to insist a little upon the promises themselves, their nature and excellency, that we may be the more stirred up to inquire after every truth and sweetness of the love, grace, and kindness (they being the peculiar way chosen of God for the manifestation of his good-will to sinners) that is in them; and I shall do it briefly, that I may proceed with the business of my present intendment.

Gospel promises, then, are, — 1. The free and gracious dispensations, and, 2. discoveries of God’s good-will and love, to, 3. sinners, 4. through Christ, 5. in a covenant of grace; 6. wherein, upon his truth and faithfulness, he engageth himself to be their God, to give his Son unto them and for them, and his Holy Spirit to abide with them, with all things that are either required in them or are necessary for them to make them accepted before him, and to bring them to an enjoyment of him.

I call them gospel promises, not as though they were only contained in the books of the New Testament, or given only by Christ after his coming in the flesh, — for they were given from the beginning of the world, or first entrance of sin,115 and the Lord made plentiful provision of them and by them for his people under the old testament, — but only to distinguish them from the promises of the law, which hold out a word of truth and faithfulness, engaged for a reward of life to them that yield obedience thereunto (there being an indissolvable connection between entering into life and keeping the commandments), and so to manifest that they all belong to the gospel properly so called, or the tidings of that peace for sinners which was wrought out and manifested by Jesus Christ.116
Farther; I do not give this for the description of any one single individual promise as it lieth in any place of Scripture, as though it expressly contained all the things mentioned herein (though virtually it doth so), but rather to show what is the design, aim, and goodwill of God in them all; which he discovers and manifests in them by several parcels, according as they may be suited to the advancement of his glow, in reference to the persons to whom they are made. If port the matter, all the promises of the gospel are but one, and every one of them comprehends and tenders the same love, the same Christ, the same Spirit, which are in them all. None can have an interest in any one but he hath an interest in the good of them all, that being only represented variously for the advantage of them that believe. My design is to describe the general intention of God in all gospel promises, whereby they, being equally spirited, become as one.117 And concerning these, I say, —

1. That they are free and gracious as to the rise and fountain of them. They are given unto us merely through the good-will and pleasure of God.118 That which is of promise is everywhere opposed to that which is of doubt, or that which is any way deserved or procured by us: Gal. iii. 18, “If the inheritance be of the law” (which includes all that in us is desirable, acceptable, and deserving), “it is no more of promise,” — that is, free, and of mere grace. He that can find out any reason or cause without God himself why he should promise any good thing whatever to sinners (as all are, and are shut up under sin, till the promise come, Gal. iii. 22), may be allowed to glory in the invention which he hath found out, Matt. xx. 15. A well-conditioned nature, necessitating him to a velleity of doing good, and yielding relief to them that are in misery (though justly receiving the due reward of their deeds, which even among the sons of men is a virtue dwelling upon the confines of vice), for their recovery, is by some imposed on him. But that this is not the fountain and rise of his promises needs no other evidence but the light of this consideration: That which is natural is necessary and universal; promises are distinguishing as to them in misery, at least they are given to men, and not to fallen angels But may not God do what he will with his own?

Farther; Jesus Christ is himself in the promise. He is the great original, matter, and subject of the promises, and the giving of him was doubtless of free grace and mercy: so John iii. 16, “God so loved the world, that he gave his only-begotten Son;” and Rom. v. 8, “God commendeth his love toward us, in that, whilst we were yet sinners, Christ died for us;” and in 1 John iv. 10, “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins,” All is laid upon the account of love and free grace, Matt. xi. 26. I confess there are following promises given out for the orderly carrying on of the persons to whom the main, original, fundamental promises are made, unto the end designed for them, that seem to have qualifications and conditions in them; but yet even those are all to be resolved into the primitive grant of mercy. That which promiseth life upon believing, — being of use to stir men up unto and carry them on in faith and obedience, — must yet, as to the pure nature of the promise, be resolved into that which freely is promised, namely, Christ himself, and with him both faith and life, believing and salvation. As in your automata there is one original spring or wheel that giveth motion to sundry lesser and subordinate movers, that are carried on with great variety, sometimes with a seeming contrariety one to another, but all regularly answering and being subservient to the impression of the first mover; [so] the first great promise of Christ, and all good things in him, is that which spirits and principles all other promises whatsoever;119 and howsoever they may seem to move upon conditional terms, yet they are all to he resolved into that absolute and free original spring. Hence that great grant of gospel mercy is called “The gift by him,” Rom. v. 15–18; yea, all the promises of the law, as to their original emanation from God, and the constitution of the reward in them, engaged to be bestowed for the services required, are free and gracious; there is not any natural, indispensable connection between obedience and reward, as there is between sin and punishment, as I have elsewhere at large disputed and proved.120
2. I call them discoveries and manifestations of God’s good-will and love, which is the prime and sole cause of all the good things which are wrapped up and contained in them. Of this good-will of God, the promises which he hath given are the sole discoveries. We do not in this discourse take “promises” merely for what God hath said he will do in terms expressly, but for every assertion of his good-will and kindness to us in Christ; all which was first held out under a word of promise, Gen. iii. 15. And this the apostle infers in Titus i. 2, 3, “In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began, but hath in due times manifested his word through preaching,” or discovered or made known that goodwill of his by the promises in preaching of the gospel. And to this extent of significancy is that “promise” in the Scripture, both name and thing, in very many places stretched out. Every thing whatever that is manifestative of grace and good-will to sinners is of the promise, though it be not cast into a promissory form of expression. Yea, whereas, strictly, a promise respecteth that which is either only future, and not of present existence, or the continuance of that which is, yet even expressions of things formerly done and of a present performance (some individuals to the end of the world being to be made anew partakers of the grace, good-will, and mercy in them) do belong to the promise also, in that acceptation of it which the Holy Ghost in many places leads unto,121 and which we now insist upon.

3. I say they are made unto sinners, and that as sinners, under no other qualification whatever, it being by the mercy of the promise alone that any men are relieved out of that condition of being sinners, and morally nothing else. Were not the promises originally made to sinners, there would never any one be found in any other state or condition.122 I know there are promises made to believers, even such as are unchangeable, and shall bear them into the bosom of God; but I say these are all consequential, and upon supposition of the first and great promise, whereby Christ himself, and faith for his sake, are bestowed on them. This runs through them all, as the very tenor of them and method of God in them do manifest,123 as we shall see afterward. So the apostle, Gal. iii. 22, “The Scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.” All are shut up under sin until the promise of salvation by Jesus Christ and faith in him cometh in for their deliverance. The promise is given to them as shut up under sin, which they receive by mixing it with faith. And Rom. iii. 23, 24, “All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; being justified freely by his grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” Their condition is a condition of sin and falling short of the glory of God, when the promise for justification is given unto them and finds them. Thence the Lord tells us, Isa. liv. 8, 9, that this promise of mercy is like that which he made about the waters of Noah, where is mentioned no condition at all of it, but only the sins of men.124 And in that state unquestionably was Adam when the first promise was given unto him. To say, then, that gospel promises are made to men in such conditions, and are to be made good only upon the account of men’s abiding in the condition wherein they are when the promise is made to them, is to say, that for men to leave the state of sin is the way to frustrate all the promises of God. All deliverance from a state of sin is by grace;125 all grace is of promise. Under that condition, then, of sin doth the promise find men, and from thence relieve them.

4. I say, these discoveries of God’s good-will are made through Christ, as the only medium of their accomplishment, and only procuring cause of, the good things that, flowing from the good-will of God, are inwrapped and tendered in them, 2 Cor. i. 20. And they are said to be in Christ, as, — (1.) The great messenger of the covenant, as in him who comes from the Father, because God hath confirmed and ratified them all in him; not in themselves, but unto us. He hath in him and by him given faith and assurance of them all unto us, declaring and confirming his good-will and love to us by him. He reveals the Father (as a father) from his own bosom, John i. 18, declaring his name or grace unto his, chap. xvii. 3. “All the promises of God in him are yea, and in him amen, to the glory of God by us,” 2 Cor. i. 20. In him, and by his mediation, they have all their confirmation, establishment, and unchangeableness unto us. (2.) Because he hath undertaken to be surety of that covenant whereof they are the promises: Heb. vii. 22, he is “the surety” of the covenant; that is, one who hath undertaken, both on the part of God and on ours, whatever is needful for confirmation thereof. And, (3.) Because that himself is the great subject of all these promises, and in him (it being of his own purchase and procuring, he “having obtained eternal redemption for us,” Heb. ix. 12) there is treasured up all the fullness of those mercies which in them God hath graciously engaged himself to bestow, they being all annexed to him, as the portion he brings with him to the soul.126 Then, I say, —

5. That they are discoveries of God’s good-will in a covenant of grace. They are, indeed, the branches, streams, and manifesting conveyances, of the grace of that covenant, and of the good-will of God putting itself forth therein. Hence the apostle mentions the “covenants of promise,” Eph. ii. 12, either for the promises of the covenant or its manifestation, as I said before. Indeed, as to the subject-matter and eminently, the promise is but one, as the covenant is no more; but both come under a plural expression, because they have been variously delivered and renewed upon several occasions. So the covenant of grace is said to be established upon these promises, Heb. viii. 6; that is, the grace and mercy of the covenant, and the usefulness of it to the ends of a covenant, to keep God and man together in peace and agreement, are laid upon these promises, to be by them confirmed and established unto us, God having by them revealed his good-will unto us, with an attendancy of stipulation of duty. Their use, for the begetting and continuing communion between God and us, with the concomitancy of precepts, places them in the capacity of a covenant. And then, —

6. I mentioned the foundation of the certainty and unchangeableness of these promises, with our assurance of their accomplishment. The engagements and undertakings of God, upon his truth and faithfulness, are the stock and unmovable foundation of this respect of them. Therefore, speaking of them, the Holy Ghost often backs them with that property of God, “He cannot lie:” so Heb. vi. 17, 18, “God, willing more abundantly to show unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath; that by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie,” etc.; so Titus i. 2, “God, which cannot lie, hath promised us eternal life.” There is no one makes a solemn promise, but as it ought to proceed from him in sincerity and truth, so he engageth his truth and faithfulness, in all the credit of them, for the accomplishment thereof what lieth in him; and on this account doth David so often appeal unto and call upon the righteousness of God as to the fulfilling of his promises and the word which he caused him to put his trust in.127 It is because of his engagement of his truth and faithfulness, whence it becometh a righteous thing with him to perform what he hath spoken. How far this respect of the promises extends, and wherein it is capable of a dispensation, is the sum of our present controversy. But of this afterward. Then, —

7. A brief description of the matter of these promises, and what God freely engageth himself unto in them, was insisted on. Of this, of the promises in this regard, there is one main fountain or spring, whereof there are two everlasting streams, whence thousands of refreshing rivulets do flow. The original fountain and spring of all good unto us, both in respect of its being and manifestation, is that he will be our God: Gen. xvii. 1, 2, “I am the Almighty God; walk before me and be thou perfect: and I will make my covenant,” etc. So everywhere, as the bottom of his dealing with us in covenant: Jer. xxxi. 33, “I will be their God, and they shall be my people;” Isa. liv. 5; Hos. ii. 23; and in very many other places. Now, that he may thus be our God, two things are required:—

(1.) That all breaches and differences between him and us be removed, perfect peace and agreement made, and we rendered acceptable and well-pleasing in his sight. These are the terms whereon they stand to whom he is a God in covenant. For the accomplishment of this is the first main stream that floweth from the former fountain, — namely, the great promise of giving Christ to us and for us, “who is our peace,” Eph. ii. 14; and “who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption,” 1 Cor. i. 30; “who loves us, and washeth us in his own blood, and makes us kings and priests to God and his Father,” Rev. i. 5, 6; “giving himself for his church, that he might sanctify and cleanse it, with the washing of water by the word, that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing, but that it should be holy and without blemish,”  Eph. v. 25–27;128  doing and accomplishing all things that are required for the forementioned ends. And this is the first main stream that flows from that fountain. Christ as a redeemer, a saviour, a mighty one, a priest, a sacrifice, an oblation, our peace, righteousness, and the author of our salvation, is the subject-matter thereof.

(2.) That we may be kept and preserved meet for communion with him as our God, and for the enjoyment of him as our reward. For this end flows forth the other great stream from the former fountain, — namely, the promise of the Holy Spirit; which he gives us to “make us meet for the inheritance of the saints in light,”129 to put forth and exercise towards us all the acts of his love which are needful for us, and to work in us the obedience which he requires and accepts of us in Jesus Christ, so preserving us for himself. This promise of the Spirit in the covenant, with his work and peculiar dispensations, is plentifully witnessed in very many places of the Old Testament and New,130 some whereof must afterward be insisted on. Hence he is sometimes called the promise of the covenant: Acts ii. 39, “The promise is to you;” which promise is that which Christ receiveth from his Father, verse 33, even “the promise of the Holy Ghost.” I shall only add, that though this be a great stream flowing from the first fountain, yet it comes not immediately thence, but issues out from the stream before mentioned, the promise of the Lord Jesus Christ; for he is given by him unto us, as procured for us, and given only unto his, John xiv. 16, 17, 26; Gal. iv. 6.

Now, from these two grand streams do a thousand rivulets flow forth for our refreshment. All the mercy that Christ hath purchased, all the graces that the Spirit doth bring forth (which in the former description I call all things that are either required in them or needful to them to make them accepted before God, and to bring them to an enjoyment of him), all promises of mercy and forgiveness, all promises of faith and holiness, of obedience and perseverance, of joy and consolation, of correction, affliction, and deliverance, — they all flow from these; that is, from the matter of those promises doth the matter of these arise. And hence are the ensuing corollaries:—

1. Whoever hath an interest in any one promise hath an interest in them all, and in the fountain-love from whence they flow. He to whom any drop of their sweetness floweth may follow it up unto the spring. Were we wise, each taste of mercy would lead us to the ocean of love. Have we any hold on a promise? — we may get upon it, and it will bring us to the main, Christ himself and the Spirit, and so into the bosom of the Father. It is our folly to abide upon a little, which is given us merely to make us press for more.

2. That the most conditional promises are to be resolved into absolute and unconditional love. God, who hath promised life upon believing, hath promised believing on no condition (on our parts) at all, because to sinners.

This in general being given in concerning the nature of the promises, I shall proceed to some such considerations as are of particular usefulness unto that improvement which, the Lord assisting, I intend to make of them, for the confirmation of the truth under debate. And they are these:—

1. All the promises of God are true and faithful, and shall most certainly all of them be accomplished. His nature, his veracity, his unchangeableness, his omniscience and omnipotency, do all contribute strength to this assertion. Neither can these properties possibly continue entire, and the honour of them he preserved unto the Lord, if the least failing in the accomplishment of his promises be ascribed unto him. Every such failing must of necessity relate to some such principle as stands in direct opposition to one or more of the perfections before mentioned. It must be a failing in the truth, unchangeableness, prescience, or power, that must frustrate the promise of any one. We, indeed, often alter our resolutions, and the promise that is gone out of our mouths, and that perhaps righteously, upon some such change of things as we could not foresee, nor ought to have supposed, when we entered into our engagements. No such thing can be ascribed unto Him who knows all things, with their circumstances, that can possibly come to pass, and hath determined what shall so do, and therefore will not engage in any promise that he knows something which he foresaw would follow after would cause him to alter. It were a ludicrous thing in any son of man to make a solemn promise of any thing to another, if he particularly knew that in an hour some such thing would happen as should enforce him to change and alter that promise which he had so solemnly entered into. And shall we ascribe such an action to Him before whom all things are open and naked? Shall he be thought solemnly to engage himself to do or accomplish any thing which yet not only he will not do, but also at that instant hath those things in his eye and under his consideration for which he will not so do as he promiseth, and determined before that he would not so do? If this be not unworthy the infinite goodness, wisdom, and faithfulness of God, I know not what can or may be ascribed unto him that is. Yea, the truth and veracity of God in his promises cannot be denied him without denying him his deity, or asserted without the certain accomplishment of what he hath promised.

2. There are sundry things relating to the accomplishment of promises, as to times, seasons, persons, ways, etc., wherein we have been in the dark, and yet the promises concerning them be fully accomplished. The rejection of the Jews supplies us with an instance pregnant with this objection. The apostle tells us that with many this objection did arise on that account: “If the Jews be rejected, then the promises of God to them do fail,” Rom. iii. 3. He lays down and answers this objection, discovering that fallacy therein by a distinction. “They are not,” saith he, “all Israel which are of Israel,” chap. ix. 6; as if he had said, “There is a twofold Israel, an Israel after the flesh only, and an Israel after the flesh and Spirit also.” Unto these latter were the promises made; and therefore they who look on the former only think it faileth, whereas indeed it holdeth to its full accomplishment. So he disputes again, chap. xi. 7. I say, then, we may be in the dark as to many circumstances of the fulfilling of promises, when yet they have received a most exact accomplishment.

3. All the conditional promises of God are exactly true, and shall be most faithfully made good by accomplishment as to that wherein their being as promises doth consist, as far as they are declarative of God’s purpose and intendment. This is that which, as I said before, some object, “Many of the promises of God are conditional, and their truth must needs depend upon the accomplishment of the condition mentioned in them; if that be not fulfilled, then they also must fail, and be of none effect.” I say, then, that even the conditional promises of God are absolutely made good. The truth of any promise consists in this, that that whereof it speaks answers the affirmation itself. For instance, “He that believeth shall be saved.” This promise doth not primarily affirm that any one shall be saved, and notwithstanding it no one might so be; but only this it affirms, that there is an infallible connection between faith and salvation, and therein is the promise most true, whether any one believe or no. Briefly, conditional promises are either simply declarative of the will of God in fixing an exact correspondency between a condition mentioned and required in them and the thing promised by them, in which case they have an unchangeable and infallible verity in themselves, as there is in all the promises of the moral law to this day, for he that keeps the commandments shall live; or they are also the discoveries of the good-will of God, his intendments and purposes, that whereof they make mention being not the condition whereon his purposes are suspended, but the way and means whereby the thing promised is to be accomplished; and in the latter acceptation alone are they, in the business in hand, our concernment.

4. That the promises concerning perseverance (as hath been often intimated) are of two sorts; — the first, of the continuance of the favour of God to us, which respects our justification; the other, of the continuance of our obedience unto God, which respects our sanctification. Let us consider both of them, and begin with the latter:—

(1.) Of them I say, then, they are all absolute, not one of them conditional (so as to be suspended as to their accomplishment on any conditions), nor can be. The truth of God in them hath not its efficiency and accomplishment by establishing the relation that is between one thing and another, or the connection that is between duty and reward, as it is in conditional promises that are purely and merely so; but enforceth the exact fulfilling of the thing promised, and that with respect unto, and for the preservation of, the glory of that excellency of God, “He cannot lie.” Let it be considered what that condition or those conditions be, or may be, on which promises of this nature should be suspended, and the truth of the former assertion will evidently appear. That God hath promised unto believers that they shall for ever abide with him in the obedience of the covenant unto the end shall afterward be proved by a cloud of witnesses. What, now, is the condition whereon this promise doth depend? “It is,” says Mr Goodwin, “that they perform their duty, that they suffer not themselves to be seduced, nor willingly cast off the yoke of Christ.” But what doth this amount unto? Is it not thus much: If they abide with God (for if they perform their duty, and do not suffer themselves to be seduced, nor willingly depart from God, they abide with him), God hath promised that they shall abide with him, — upon condition they abide with him, he hath promised they shall? “Egregiam vero laudem!” Can any thing more ridiculous be invented? If men abide with God, what need they any promise that they shall so do? The whole virtue of the promise depends on that condition, and that condition containeth all that is promised. Neither is it possible that any thing can be invented to be supplied as the condition or conditions of these promises, but it will quickly appear, upon consideration, that however it may be differently phrased, yet indeed it is coincident with the matter of the promise itself. That condition or those conditions must consist in some act, acts, way, or course of acceptable obedience in them to whom the promises are made. This the nature of the thing itself requireth. Now, every such act, way, or course, is the matter of the promise, even universal obedience. Now, if one man should promise another that he should, at such a time and place, be supplied with a hundred pounds to pay his debts, on condition that he came and brought the money himself, ought he to be esteemed to have a mind to relieve the poor man, or to mock him? To affirm that when God promiseth to write his law in our hearts, to put his fear in our inward parts, to create in us a new heart, to circumcise our hearts that we may fear him always, to give us his Spirit to abide with us for ever, to preserve us by his power, so that we shall never leave him nor forsake him, shall live to him, and sin shall not have dominion over us, etc., he doth it upon condition that we write his law in our hearts, circumcise them, continue to fear him, abide with him, not forsake him, etc., is to make him to mock and deride at their misery whose relief he so seriously pretendeth. Whatever promises, then, of this kind (promises of working obedience in us, for our abiding with him) shall be produced, they will be found to be absolute and independent on any condition whatever, and their truth no ways to be maintained but in and by their accomplishment.

(2.) For those of the first sort, which I shall now handle, farther to clear the foundation of their ensuing application, I shall propose only some few things unto consideration; as, —

[1.] That they are not to be taken or looked upon, as to their use for argument in the present controversy, separated and divided from those other promises formerly insisted on, which assure believers that they shall always abide with God as to their obedience. All hope that any have to prevail against them is by dividing of them. It is a very vain supposal and foundation of sand which our adversaries build their inferences upon, which they make against the doctrine of the saints’ perseverance, — namely, the impossibility that God should continue his love and favour to them whilst they wallow in all manner of abominations and desperate rebellions against him; a hypothesis crudely imposed on our doctrine, and repeated over and over as a matter of the greatest detestation and abomination that can fall within the thoughts of men. And such supposals and conclusions are made thereupon as border, at least, upon the cursed coast of blasphemy. But cui fini, I pray, to what end, is all this noise? as though any had ever asserted that God promised to continue his love and gracious acceptation always to his saints, and yet took no care nor had promised that they should be continued saints, but would suffer them to turn very devils. It is as easy for men to confute hypotheses created in their own imaginations as to cast down men of straw of their own framing and setting up. We say, indeed, that God hath faithfully promised that he will never leave nor forsake believers; but withal that he hath no less faithfully engaged himself that they shall never wickedly depart from him, but that they shall continue saints and believers. Yea (if I may so say), promising always to accept them freely, it is incumbent on his holy Majesty, upon the account of his truth, faithfulness, and righteousness, to preserve them such as, without the least dishonour to his grace and holiness, yea, to the greatest advantage of his glory, he may always accept them, delight in them, and rejoice over them; and so he tells us he doth, Jer. xxxi. 3, “Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love; therefore with loving-kindness have I drawn thee.” He draws us with kindness to follow him, obey him, live unto him, abide with him, because he loves us with an everlasting love.

[2.] That these promises of God do not properly, and as to their original rise, depend on any conditions in believers, or by them to be fulfilled, but are the fountains and springs of all conditions whatever that are required to be in them or expected from them, though the grace and obedience of believers are often mentioned in them as the means whereby they are carried on, according to the appointment of God, unto the enjoyment of what is promised or continued in it. This one consideration, that there is in very many of these promises an express non obstante, or a notwithstanding the want of any such condition as might seem to be at the bottom and to be the occasion of any such promise or engagement of the grace of God, is sufficient to give light and evidence to this assertion. If the Lord saith expressly that he will do so with men, though it be not so with them, his doing of that thing cannot depend on any such thing in them, as he saith notwithstanding the want of it he will do it Take one instance: Isa. liv. 8–10, “In a little wrath I hid my face from thee for a moment; but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee, saith the Lord thy Redeemer. For this is as the waters of Noah unto me: for as I have sworn that the waters of Noah should no more go over the earth; so have I sworn that I would not be wroth with thee, nor rebuke thee. For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the Lord that hath mercy on thee.” He will have mercy on them with everlasting kindness, verse 8. “Yea, but how if they walk not worthy of it?” Why, yet this kindness shall not fail, saith the Lord; for it is “as the waters of Noah.” God sweareth that “the waters of Noah shall no more cover the earth,” and you see the stability of what he hath spoken; the world is now “reserved for fire,” but drowned it shall be no more. “My kindness to thee,” says God, “is such, it shall no more depart from thee than those waters shall return again upon the earth.” Neither is this all wherein he compareth his kindness to the waters of Noah, but in this also, in that in the promise of drowning the world no more there was an express non obstante for the sins of men: Gen. viii. 21, “The Lord said in his heart, I will not again curse the ground any more for man’s sake; for the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth.” “Though men grow full of wickedness and violence, as before the flood they were, yet,” saith the Lord, “the world shall be drowned no more.” And in this doth the promise of kindness hold proportion with that of the waters of Noah. There is an express relief in it against the sins and failings of them to whom it is made, — namely, such as he will permit them to fall into, whilst he certainly preserves them from all such as are inconsistent with his love and favour, according to the tenor of the covenant of grace; and therefore it depends not on any thing in them, being made with a proviso for any such defect as in them may be imagined.

[3.] To affirm that these promises of God’s abiding with us to the end do depend on any condition that may be uncertain in its event, by us to be fulfilled, as to their accomplishment, doth wholly enervate and make them void in respect to the main end for which they were given us of God. That one chief end of them is to give the saints consolation in every condition, in all the straits, trials, and temptations, which they are to undergo or may be called to, is evident. When Joshua was entering upon the great work of subduing the Canaanites, and setting the tabernacle and people of God in their appointed inheritance, wherein he was to pass through innumerable difficulties, trials, and pressures, God gives him that word of promise, “I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee,” Josh. i. 5. So are many of them made to the saints in their weakness, darkness, and desertions, as will appear by the consideration of the particular instances following, Isa. iv. 3, 4. Now, what one drop of consolation can a poor, drooping, tempted soul, squeeze out of such promises as depend wholly and solely upon any thing within themselves: “He will be with me and be my God, it is true; but always provided that I continue to be his. That also is a sweet and gracious promise; but that I shall do so he hath not promised. It seems I have a cursed liberty left me of departing wickedly from him; so that, upon the matter, notwithstanding these promises of his, I am left to myself. If I will abide with him, well and good, he will abide with me, and so it will be well with me; — that he should so abide with me as to cause me to abide with him, it seems there is no such thing. Soul, look to thyself; all thy hopes and help are in thyself. But, alas! for the present I have no sense of this love of God, and I know not that I have any true, real, unfeigned obedience to him. Corruption is strong, temptations are many; what shall I say? Shall I exercise faith on those promises of God wherein he hath said and given assurance that he will be a God to me for ever?’ According as my thoughts are of my own abiding with him, so may I think of them, and no otherwise; so that I am again rolled upon mine own hands, and left to mine own endeavours to extricate myself from these sad entanglements.” What now becomes of the consolation which in these promises is intended? Are they not, on this account, rather flints and pieces of iron than breasts of comfort and joy?

Lastly, If it be so as is supposed, it is evident that God makes no promises unto persons, but only unto conditions and qualifications; — that is, his promises are not engagements of his love and goodwill to believers, but discoveries of his approbation of believing. Suppose any promise of God to be our God, our all-sufficient God for ever, not eminently to include an engagement for the effectual exertion of the all-sufficiency to preserve and continue us in such a state and spiritual condition as wherein he may with the glory and honour of his grace, and will not fail to, abide and continue our God, and you cut all the nerves and sinews of it, as to the administration of any consolation unto them to whom it is given. The promises must be made good, that is certain; and if they are accomplished or not accomplished unto men merely upon the account of such and such qualifications in them, — which if they are found, then they shall be fulfilled, if not, then they are suspended, — they are made to the conditions, and not at all to the persons. And though some, perhaps, will easily grant this, yet upon this account it cannot be said that God ever made any one promise unto his church as consisting of such persons, namely, Abraham and his seed; which is directly contrary to that of the apostle, Rom. ix. 8, where he calleth the elect “The children of the promise,” or those to whom the promises were made. It appears, then, that neither are these promises of God conditional. As they proceed from free grace, so there is no other account on which they are given out, continued, and accomplished, towards the children of God. Though the things of the promise are often placed in dependence one on another, as means and ends, yet the promises themselves are absolute.

These few things being premised, I shall now name and insist upon some particular promises, wherein the Lord hath graciously engaged himself that he will abide to be a God in covenant unto his people and their guide unto death; from which I shall labour to make good this argument for the perseverance of the saints:— “That which that God, ‘who cannot lie’ nor ‘deceive,’ ‘with whom there is no variableness, neither shadow of turning,’131 who is ‘faithful’ in all his promises, and all whose words are ‘faithfulness and truth,’ hath solemnly promised and engaged himself unto, to this end, that they unto whom he so promiseth and engageth himself may from those promises receive ‘strong consolation,’ — that he will certainly perform and accomplish. That he will be a God and a guide unto death unto his saints, that he will never leave them nor forsake them, that he will never cast them off nor leave them out of his favour, but will preserve them such as is meet for his holy majesty to embrace, love, and delight in, and that with an express notwithstanding for every such thing as might seem to provoke him to forsake them, he hath promised, and for the end mentioned; therefore, [the promise] that he will so abide with them, that his love shall be continued to them to the end, that he will preserve them unto himself, etc., according to his truth and faithfulness, shall be accomplished and fulfilled.” The inference hath its strength from the nature, truth, and faithfulness of God; and whilst they abide in any credit with the sons of men, it may seem strange that it should be denied or questioned. The major proposition of the forementioned argument is examined by Mr Goodwin, chap. xi. sect 1, p. 225. Saith he, —

1. “What God hath promised in his word is certain in such a sense and upon such terms as God would be understood in his promises; but what he promised in one sense is not certain of performance in the other.”

Ans. Doubtless, God’s meaning and intention in his promises is the rule of their accomplishment. This sometimes we may not be able to fathom, and thereupon be exposed to temptations not a few concerning their fulfilling; so was it with them with whom Paul had to do in reference to the promises made to the seed of Abraham. The question, then, is not whether that which is promised in one sense shall be performed in another; but whether God’s promises have, and shall certainly have, all of them, according to his intendment, any performance at all. And the aim of Mr Goodwin, in the example that he afterward produceth, is not to manifest that that which God promiseth shall certainly be performed only in that sense 241wherein he made his promise, but that they may be performed, or not performed at all. It is not in whose sense they shall have their performance, but whether they shall have any performance or no. If the thing promised be not accomplished, the promise is not at all in any sense performed, unless Mr Goodwin will distinguish, and say there are two ways of any thing’s performance, one whereby it is performed, another whereby it is not. But he proceeds to manifest this assertion by an induction of instances.

2. “God,” saith he, “promised to Paul the lives of them that were in the ship. His intent and meaning was, not that they should all be preserved against whatever they in the ship might do to hinder that promise, but with this proviso or condition, that they in the ship should hearken unto him and follow his advice; which is evident from these words of Paul, ‘Except these abide in the ship, ye cannot be saved:’ and had they gone away, God had not made any breach of promise though they had been all drowned, Acts xxvii.”

Ans. First, when men seriously promise any thing, which is wholly and absolutely in their power to accomplish and bring about, causing thereby good men to rest upon their word, and to declare unto others their repose upon their honesty and worth, if they do not make good what they have spoken, we account them unworthy promise-breakers, and they do it at the peril of all the repute of honesty, honour, and faith, they have in the world. With God it seems it is otherwise. He makes a solemn, gracious promise to Paul that the lives of all them in the ship with him should be saved. Paul, on whom it was as much incumbent as on any man in the world not to engage the name of God (that God whom he worshipped and preached) in any thing whose truth might in the least be liable to exception, being in the way of declaring a new doctrine to the world, which would have been everlastingly prejudiced by any misprision of the faithfulness of that God in whose name and authority he preached it; the sum of that doctrine, also, being the exaltation of that God, in opposition to all the pretended deities of the world;132 — he, I say, boasts himself upon the promise that he had received that there should be “no loss of any man’s life among them,” verses 22, 25. He gives the reason of his confident assertion when all hope was taken away: Verse 25, “I believe God,” saith he, “that it shall be even as it was told me.” His faith in God was in reference to the event, that it should come to pass as it was told him. Faith in God, divine faith, can have nothing for its object that may fail it. He doth not say that he believes that God will be faithful to his promise in general, but also tells them wherein his faithfulness doth consist, even in the performance and accomplishment of that which he had promised. This he informs the centurion and the rest in the ship with him; and if in the issue it had otherwise fallen out, there had not been any colour of justifying the faith of that God he served, or his own truth in bearing witness to him. Had any perished, those that remained would have argued him of lying. “Yea, but saith he not himself, ‘Except these abide in the ship, ye cannot be saved.’ ” He did so indeed, and thereby declared the necessity of using suitable means, when Providence affords them to us, for the accomplishment of appointed, determined ends. God, who promiseth any thing, and affordeth means for the attaining of it, will direct them to whom those promises are made to the use of those means; as he doth the centurion by Paul. It being incumbent in this case on his holy Majesty, upon the account of his engaged faithfulness, to save them, he will yet have them subservient to his promise in their endeavours for their own safety. Means may be assigned for an end as to their ordinary subserviency thereunto, without any suspending of the event on them, as a condition of an uncertain issue and accomplishment. And therefore that this solemn promise made unto Paul, whose event and accomplishment, upon the account of his believing God, he absolutely believed, and whose performance he foretold, without the least intimation of any condition whatever (only he bids them not throw away the means of their preservation), should depend as to its fulfilling on such a condition as, in respect of the event, might not have been (God who made the promise not making any infallible provision for the condition), and so have been actually frustrate, is an assertion not only not grounded on these words of Paul, setting out the suitable means of the providence of God for the accomplishment of an appointed end, but also derogatory in the highest to the glory of the truth and faithfulness of God himself. But, —

3. “That promise,” saith he, “of our Saviour to his disciples, Matt. xix. 28, that they who followed him in the regeneration should sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel, Judas being yet one of them, was not fulfilled; and in case the rest had declined, they also with him might have come short of the promise made unto them.”

Ans. Christ “knew what was in man,” and had no need of any to tell him; he knew from the beginning who it was that should betray him, and plainly pronounced him to be a devil. He knew he was so, that he believed not; that he would continue so; that he would betray him; that his end would be desperate; he pronounced a curse upon him, as being cursed by David, Ps. cix., so many generations before his coming into the world:133 and is it probable now that he promised this man a throne for his following him in the regeneration, which [it] is most certain (take it in what sense you will) he did never follow him in, but only as he gave him his bodily attendance in his going up and down? He was never admitted to be witness of his resurrection. The time being not yet come wherein a discovery was to be made of the hypocrisy of Judas, that he might have space to carry on the work which he had to do, and the number of those who in a peculiar manner were to bear witness to the completing of the whole work of regeneration in the resurrection of Christ being twelve, he who was afterward admitted into that number being one that now followed him, Acts i. 21, 22, our blessed Saviour telleth them indefinitely, to their consolation, what will be the glorious issue of their following him, and bearing witness to him in this work. That which is promissory in the words is made to them who forsook all and followed him in the work mentioned: which, assuredly, he who was always a thief, a devil, a covetous person, that followed not in the main of the work itself, was none of; that promise being afterward fulfilled to another then present with Christ. It is granted, if the rest of the twelve had fallen away, you may suppose of them what you please. That they might fall away is to beg that which you cannot prove, nor will ever be granted you, though you should resolve to starve yourself if you get it not. But this is, —

4. “Confirmed out of Peter Martyr, whose doctrine it is that the promises of God are wont to be made with a respect unto the present estate and condition of things with men; — that is, they shall be performed unto men abiding under the qualifications unto which they are made; as, for example, what promises soever God maketh to believers with respect had to their faith, or as they are believers, are not to be looked on as performable, or obliging the maker of them unto them, in case they shall relapse into their former unbelief.”

Ans. It is too well known how and to what end our author cites Peter Martyr and men of the same judgment with him in this controversy, and to how little advantage to his cause with discerning men he hath done it. In the same place from whence these words are taken, the author distinguisheth of the promises of God, and telleth you that some of them are conditional, which are, saith he, of a legal nature, which only show the connection between the condition or qualification they require and the thing they promise thereunto; and such are those whereof he speaks: but others, he tells you, are absolute and evangelical, not depending on any condition in us at all. And so he tells us, out of Chrysostom, that this of our Saviour, Matt. xix. 28, is of the former sort; and the accomplishment of such like promises as these he informs us to consist not in the actual fulfilling of what is conditionally affirmed, but in the certain truth of the axiom wherein the condition and the event as such are knit together.

To the example urged, I shall only ask what Mr Goodwin’s judgment is of the promises that God hath made to believers that they shall never relapse into their former state of unbelief, and on what condition they are made? Whether his promise of his love unto and acceptance of believers, wherein he will abide for ever, do not infer their preservation in the condition wherein they are (that is, as believers), will in the next place fall under our consideration. Your conclusion is, in the sense explained you admit the proposition, “Whatsoever God promiseth is certain,” — that is, it shall certainly be fulfilled, or it shall not!

There is, moreover, no small contribution of strength, as to our establishment in the faith of it, given to our proposition by the signal engagement of the faithfulness of God for the accomplishment of the promises which he makes unto us, as it is manifested in these words of the apostle, 1 Cor. i. 9, “God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son.” In the foregoing verse, he telleth them that God will confirm them to the end, that they may be blameless in the day of the Lord Christ; of which confident assertion he gives them this account, “God is faithful,” to make good his promises made unto them; he changeth not. When a promise is once passed, that which first presents itself to the consideration of them to whom it is made, and whose concernment it is that it be fulfilled, is the faithfulness of him that hath made the promise. This property of God’s nature doth the apostle therefore mind the saints of, to lead them to a full assurance of their preservation. His promise being passed, fear not his faithfulness for its accomplishment. Might there in this case a supposal be allowed of any such interveniencies as might intercept them in the way of enjoying what God truly promised, and cause them to come short thereof, what assurance could arise to them from the consideration of the faithfulness of God, who made those promises unto them? The faithfulness of God, then, is engaged for the accomplishment of the thing promised, which also shall be done in case that fail not. So also 1 Thess. v. 23, 24, “The very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it.” He assures them of their preservation in and unto the enjoyment of the things which he prayed for, and that upon the account of his faithfulness who had promised them. And saith he, “he will do it,” — namely, because he is faithful. Let the oppositions to it be never so many, the difficulties never so great, the interveniencies what they will, “he is faithful, and he will do it,” as it is affirmed, 2 Thess. iii. 3, “But the Lord is faithful, who shall stablish you, and keep you from evil;” as also in 1 Cor. x. 13, “God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able, but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” The same 245faithfulness of God is held out as that upon the account whereof no temptation shall befall believers, so as to separate them from him. The promise here peculiarly confirmed by it and established on it is such as no condition can tolerably be fixed unto. “I will not suffer believers to be overcome with temptations, in case they be not overcome with temptations,” is a promise not to be ascribed to the infinite wisdom of God, with which we have to do; and yet no other can with the least colour be proposed. All sin, all falling from God, is upon temptation. Though Satan and the world should have no hand in drawing men aside from God, yet what they do from their own lusts, they do from temptation, James i. 14, 15. If God in his faithfulness will not suffer any temptation to prevail against believers, unless they neglect their duty and fall from him, — and they can no otherwise neglect their duty nor depart from him but upon the prevalency of temptation, — their abiding with him, their final unconquerableness, hath a certainty answerable to the faithfulness of God.

This part of our strength Mr Goodwin attempts to deprive us of, chap. xi. sect. 18, p. 236, in these words: “Whereas the apostle mentioneth the ‘faithfulness of God’ as that divine principle in him, or attribute, out of which he is moved to establish and confirm believers unto the end, and so keep them from evil, by ‘faithfulness’ he doth not necessarily mean that property or attribute of his that renders him true and just, or constant in the performance of his promises; as if the apostle in these or any like places supposed such a promise, one or more, made by him, by which he stands obliged to establish and confirm his saints unto the end by a strong and irresistible hand.”

Ans. 1. The sum of this answer is, that the apostle, by saying “God is faithful,” doth not understand God’s faithfulness. What other virtue is intended in God by his faithfulness but that whereby his truth and his constancy in words and promises is signified, I know not. Let the places from the beginning of the Scriptures to the end wherein there is mention made of the faith or faithfulness of God, of his being faithful, with the application thereof, the scope and intendment of the place, be perused, and see if they will give the least allowance to turn aside from eyeing the property and perfection of God before mentioned, as that which they peculiarly intend. Deut. vii. 9; Ps. xxxvi. 5, cxxxix. 1, 2, 5, cxliii. 1; Isa. xlix. 7; Hos. ii. 20; Rom. iii. 3; 2 Tim. ii. 13; Heb. x. 23, 1 John i. 9, are some of them. Why we should wring out another sense of the expression in this place, I know not.

2. The faithfulness of God is not mentioned as that “divine principle out of which he is moved to establish and confirm believers to the end,” but only to confirm them in the faith of his unchangeableness and constancy in accomplishing the work of his free grace, which he had begun in them and promised to confirm to the end. The work flows from the principle of his free grace in Jesus Christ, whence alone he gives them great, free, and precious promises. His stability and constancy in those promises, as to their performance, is intended by his faithfulness and truth in them. What are the promises of God improperly so called, and not exhibited in words, which you intimate, I know not.

3. The apostle doth not only “suppose,” but in the name and authority of God actually gives, in the places under consideration, promises of the certain and infallible preservation of believers to the end, asserting the immutability of God’s engagement in them from his faithfulness. In brief, not to darken counsel and understanding with a multitude of words, by the promises of God we intend in a peculiar manner those expressed in the texts under consideration, — namely, that God will establish believers to the end, keep them from evil and all temptations that would overthrow them; and by the faithfulness of God, from whence believers have their assurance of the accomplishment of these promises, [we intend] that which the Scripture holds out, and all the world of believers have hitherto taken, to be the faithfulness of God, as was before described. But it seems the word is here used otherwise; for, saith he, —

“It is such a kind of faithfulness or disposition in him as that meant by Peter when he styleth him a ‘faithful Creator.’ Now, God is, and may properly be termed, a faithful Creator, because he constantly performs unto his creature whatsoever the relation of a Creator promiseth in an equitable and rational way unto it; which is, a great care and tenderness for the preservation and well-being of it. In like manner, he may, yea it is most likely that he is, called ‘faithful’ in his calling of men, as he is a spiritual Father or Creator, a giver of a new being unto men, because he never faileth to perform unto those new creatures of his whatsoever such a being as this, regularly’ interpreted, promiseth unto him who receiveth it from him who is the donor of it; that is, convenient and sufficient means for the preservation and well-being of it. So that the ‘faithfulness of God’ in the scripture in hand supposes no such promise made by God as our opposers imagine, — namely, whereby he should in terms or words stand engaged to establish, confirm, or keep believers from evil, his new creatures, his regenerated ones, after any such a manner but that they, if they be careless or negligent for themselves, may be shaken and decline, and commit evil notwithstanding.”

Ans. 1. That by God’s faithfulness, mentioned in that place of Peter, such a disposition as you afterward describe is intended, you had better say than undertake to prove. It is evident the scope of the apostle is, to exhort the saints of God in all their trials and afflictions to commit themselves and their ways with patience and quietness unto God, upon the account of his power to preserve them as he is the Creator of all, and his constancy in receiving of them, being present with them, abiding with them, as he is faithful in his word and promises. Yea, and the interpretation our author would have fixed on the expression here used is not only remote from the intendment of the place, turning that into a general good disposition towards all his creatures which is intimated for the peculiar support of believers, and that in their distress, but also is in itself a false, fond, and loose assertion. There is no law nor relation of creation that lays hold on God so far as to oblige him to the communication of one drop of his goodness to any of the creatures beyond what is given them by their creation, or to continue that unto them for one moment, all the dispensation of himself unto his creatures flowing from his sovereign good pleasure, doing what he will with his own.

2. He doth very faintly, when he hath made the farthest step in confident asserting that he dares venture upon (it may be, and it is most likely), suppose that the faithfulness of God in these places under consideration may be taken in such a sense as that before described. But, —

(1.) This is no sense at all of the faithfulness of God, neither is the word ever used in Scripture to signify any such thing in God or man, nor can it with any tolerable sense be applied to any such thing; neither would there be any analogy between that which in God we call faithfulness and that virtue in man which is so termed. Nor is the faithfulness of God here mentioned upon any such account as will endure this description, being insisted on only to assure the saints of the steadfastness and unalterableness of God in the performance of his promises made to them; neither is the obligation of God to continue his love and favour, with grace and means of it, to believers, founded upon such a disposition as is imagined, but in the free purpose of his will, which he purposed in Jesus Christ before the world was. So that there is not the least appearance of truth or soundness of reasoning, or any thing that is desirable, in this attempt to corrupt the word of God.

(2.) Then the faithfulness of God in the scriptures in hand bespeaks his truth and stability in the performance of his promises made of establishing believers to the end, keeping them from evil, not suffering any temptation to befall them, but making withal a way to escape. In all which God assures them he will prevent all such carelessness and negligence in them as is inconsistent with their establishment; which he will certainly accomplish.

And this is our major proposition, with its supplies of light and strength, freed from such exceptions as Mr G. supposes it liable unto.

For the assumption, I shall not much trouble myself with that ridiculous sense (called “a sober and orthodox explication”) which Mr Goodwin is pleased to put upon it to allow it to pass current. “In this sense,” saith he, “it is most true that God hath promised that all believers shall persevere; that is, that all true believers formally considered, that is, as such and abiding such, shall persevere, namely, in his grace and favour:” but this he presumes is not our sense, chap. xi. sect. 2, p. 226. And well he may presume it; for, whatever his greatest skill may enable him unto, we can make no sense of it but this, “God hath promised believers shall persevere in case they persevere;” which is to us upon the matter no sense at all. To persevere in God’s grace and favour is to continue in faith and obedience; which if men do, God hath solemnly promised and sworn that they shall so do! Certainly there is an orthodox sense in God’s promises that is not nonsense. Be it granted, then, that this is not our sense, not so much because not ours as because not sense, what is our meaning in this proposition? “It is,” saith Mr Goodwin, “that God will so preserve believers that none of them shall make shipwreck of their faith, upon what quicksands of lust and sensuality soever they shall strike, against what rock of obduration and impenitency soever they dash.” But I beseech you, who told you that this was our sense of this proposition? being, indeed, no more sense than that which you give in for your own. By “striking on the quicksands of lust, and dashing upon rocks of sensuality, impenitency, and obduration,” you bare in other places sufficiently explained yourself to intend their falling under the power of sin. And is this asserted by us to be the tenor of God’s promises to believers, or is it not? or do you not know that it is not so? Did ever any say that God preserveth men in believing under obduration and impenitency? — that is, under unbelief; for no men can be obdurately impenitent but unbelievers. Do not you know that we maintain that the grace faithfully engaged to be bestowed on them is given them to this end, to preserve them from the power of sin, from obduration and impenitency, and shall certainly be effectual for that purpose?

“Prima est hæc ultio, quod se

Judice, nemo nocens absolvitur.”


114    Heb. vi. 18; Titus i. 2.
115    Gen. iii. 14, 15; Gal. iii. 17; Titus i. 2.
116    Gal. iii. 12; Luke ii. 10; Eph. ii. 15; Isa. lii. 7.
117    Gal. iii. 16, 17; Eph. ii. 12; Heb. vi. 17, 18.
118    Titus i. 2; 2 Pet. i. 3, 4.
119    Gen. iii. 15, xlix. 10; Isa. ix. 6; 2 Cor. i. 20.
120    Diatr. de Just. Div.
121    Micah vii. 17–20.
122    Eph. ii. 12; Rom. iii. 19; Gal. iii. 22.
123    John iii. 16; Rom. viii. 32; 1 Cor. i. 30; Phil. i. 29; Eph. i. 3.
124    Gen. viii. 21, 22.
125    Eph. ii. 4, 5, 8.
126    John i. 16; Col. i. 18, 19, ii. 19, etc.; Rom. viii. 32.
127    Ps. xxxi. 1, 5, 14; Isa. xlv. 19; 2 Pet. i. 1.
128    Titus ii. 14; Gen. iii. 15; Job xix. 25; Eph. ii. 13; Heb. ii. 17; Eph. v. 2; 1 Tim. ii. 6.
129    Col. i. 12.
130    Isa. lix. 21; Ezek. xi. 19, xxxvi. 26, 27; John xiv. 16, 17, etc.
131    Titus i. 2; Heb. vi. 18; James i. 17; 1 Cor. i. 9.
132    Acts xiv. 15, xvii. 24; 1 Tim. iv. 10.
133    John vi. 64, 70, 71.


Chapter 6. Particular promises illustrated.

The former argument confirmed by an induction of particular instances — Joshua i. 5 opened — The concernment of all believers in that promise proved by the apostle, Heb. xiii. 5. — The general interest of all believers in all the promises of God cleared — Objections answered — How Old Testament promises may be improved — The promise insisted on relates principally to spirituals — The strength of it to the end intended — 1 Sam. xii. 22, to whom the promise there is given — The twofold use of this promise: threats to wicked men of use to the saints; promises to the saints of use to wicked men — Isa. iv. 2–4, Ps. lxxxix. 30–37, opened — A condition of backsliding supposed in believers, yet they not rejected — God’s abiding with his saints upon the account of his, 1. Faithfulness; 2. Loving-kindness; 3. Covenant; 4. Promise; 5. Oath — The intendment of the words insisted on from 1 Sam. xii. 22 — Isa. xxvii. 2, 3, Zeph. iii. 17, illustrated — The intendment of these words, “I will not forsake thee” — The reason of the promise, and means promised therein — No cause in them to whom the promise is made — Ezek. xxxvi. 32, Isa. xliii. 22–25, opened; also Isa. lvii. 17 — The cause in God himself only — The “name” of God, what it imports; his all-sufficiency engaged therein, and his goodness — The rise and fountain of all God’s goodness to his people in his own good pleasure — The sum of our argument from this place of Scripture — Ps. xxiii. 4, 6, opened; the psalmist’s use of assurance of perseverance — Inferences from the last use — 2 Tim. iv. 18 opened — All believers in the same condition as to perseverance with David and Paul — The second inference from the place insisted on — Assurance a motive to obedience, and is the end that God intends to promote thereby — Ps. cxxv. 1, 2 explained; Ps. xxxvii. 28; Deut. xxxiii. 3 — Inferences from that place of the psalmist — Perpetual preservation in the condition of saints promised to believers — Mr G.’s objections and exceptions to our exposition and argument from this place removed — Promises made originally to persons, not qualifications — Not the same reason of promises to the church and of threatenings to sinners — Other objections removed — Isa. liv. 7–10, the mind of the Lord in the promise mentioned in that place opened — The exposition given on that place and arguments from thence vindicated —Direction for the right improvement of promises — Hos. ii. 19, 20, opened — Of the general design of that chapter — The first part, of the total rejection of the church and political state of the Jews — The second, of promises to the remnant according to the election of grace — Of this four particulars: 1. Of conversion, verses 14, 15; 2. Of obedience and forsaking all false worship, verses 16, 17; 3. Of peace and quietness, verse 18; 4. Discovering the fountain of all the mercies, verses 19, 20 — Some objections removed — To whom this promise is made — The promise farther opened; the persons to whom it is made — Verse 14 of that chapter opened — The wilderness condition whereunto men are allured by the gospel, what it imports: 1. Separation; 2. Entanglement — God’s dealing with a soul in its wilderness condition — Promises given to persons in that condition — The sum of the foregoing promises — The persons to whom they are made farther described — The nature of the main promise itself considered — Of the main covenant between God and his saints — The properties of God engaged for the accomplishment of this promise — Mr G.’s exposition of this place considered and confuted — John x. 27–29 opened, vindicated.

Having cleared the truth of the one and meaning of the other proposition mentioned in the argument last proposed, I proceed to confirm the latter by an induction of particular promises. The first that I shall fix upon is that of Josh. i. 5, “I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.” This promise, it is true, in this original copy of it, is a grant to one single person entering upon a peculiar employment; but the Holy Ghost hath eminently taught the saints of God to plead and improve it in all generations for their own advantage, and that not only upon the account of the general rule of the establishment of all promises in Jesus Christ to the glory of God by us,134 but also by the application which himself makes of it unto them, and all their occasions wherein they stand in need of the faithfulness of God therein: Heb. xiii. 5, “Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” The apostle layeth down an exhortation in the beginning of the verse against the inordinate desire of the things of the world, that are laboured after upon the account of this present life. To give power and efficacy to his exhortation, he manifesteth all such desires to be altogether needless, upon consideration of His all-sufficiency who hath promised never to forsake them; which he manifests by an instance in this promise given to Joshua, giving us withal a rule for the application of all the promises of the Old Testament which were made to the church and people of God. Some labour much to rob believers of the consolation intended for them in the evangelical promises of the Old Testament, though made in general to the church, upon this account, that they were made to the Jews, and being to them peculiar, their concernment now lieth not in them. If this plea might be admitted, I know not any one promise that would more evidently fall under the power of it than this we have now in consideration. It was made to a peculiar person, and that upon a peculiar occasion, — made to a general or captain of armies, with respect to the great wars he had to undertake upon the special command of God. May not a poor, hungry believer say, “What is this to me? I am not a general of an army, have no wars to make upon God’s command. The virtue, doubtless, of this promise expired with the conquest of Canaan, and died with him to whom it was made.” To manifest the sameness of love that is in all the promises, with their establishment in one Mediator, and the general concernment of believers in every one of them, however and on what occasion soever given to any, this promise to Joshua is here applied to the condition of the weakest, meanest, and poorest of the saints of God, to all and every one of them, be their state and condition what it will. And, doubtless, believers are not a little wanting to themselves and their own consolation that they do not more particularly close with those words of truth, grace, and faithfulness, which, upon sundry occasions and at divers times, have been given out unto the saints of old, even Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David, and the residue of them who walked with God in their generations. These things in an especial manner are recorded for our consolation, “that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope,” Rom. xv. 4. Now, the Holy Ghost, knowing the weakness of our faith, and how apt we are to be beaten from closing with the promises, and from mixing them with faith, upon the least discouragement that may arise (as, indeed, this is none of the least, “That the promise is not made to us, it was made to others, and they may reap the sweetness of it; God may be faithful in it though we never enjoy the mercy intended by it;” I say), in the next words he leads believers by the hand to make the same conclusion with boldness and confidence, from this and the like promises, as David did of old, upon the many gracious assurances that he had received of the presence of God with him: Heb. xiii. 6, “So that,” saith he (upon the account of that promise), “we may say boldly” (without staggering at it by unbelief), “The Lord is my helper.” This is a conclusion of faith: “Because God said to Joshua, a believer, ‘I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee’ (though upon a particular occasion, and in reference to a particular employment), every believer may say with boldness, ‘He is my helper.’ ”

It is true, the application of the promises here looks immediately unto temporals, but yet, being drawn out from the testimony of the continuance of the presence of God with his saints, doth much more powerfully conclude to spirituals; yea, the promise itself is of spiritual favour, and what concerns temporals is only from thence extracted. Let us, then, weigh a little the importance of this promise, which the apostle hath rescued from suffering under any private interpretation, and set at liberty to the use of all believers. To every one of them, then, God saith, directly and plainly, that he will “never leave them nor forsake them.” If there should any question arise whether he should be taken at his word or no, it must be the devil that must be entertained as an advocate against him.135 Unbelief, indeed, hath many pleas, and will have, in the breasts of saints, against closing with the faithfulness of God in this promise, and the issue of confidence in him which from a due closing with it would certainly flow. But shall our unbelief make the truth of God of none effect? He hath told us that “he will never leave us, nor forsake us.” The old serpent, and some arguing from him herein, are ready to say, “Yea, ‘hath God indeed said so?’ The truth of it shall not indeed be surely so. It may be otherwise; for God doth know that many cases may fall out, that you may be utterly rejected by him, and cast out of his presence. You may have such oppositions rise against you in your walking with him as shall certainly overcome you and set you at enmity with him, or you may fully depart from him.” And many such like pleadings will Satan furnish the unbelief of believers withal. If they are not sufficiently taught by experience what it is to give credit to Satan endeavouring to impair and call in question, upon any pretence whatever, the faithfulness of God and his truth, when will they learn it? Surely they have little need to join with their adversaries for the weakening of their supportments or the impairing of their consolations. Whereas there is an endeavour to make men believe that the denying any absolutely unchangeable promise of God unto believers makes much for their comfort and refreshment, it shall afterward be considered in common, in reference also to those other demonstrations of the saints’ perseverance that shall, God willing, be produced.

It will be excepted, that “God will not forsake them whilst they are believers; but if they forsake him and fall from him, he is at liberty to renounce them also.” But that God’s not-forsaking of any is no more but a mere non-rejection of them shall afterward be disproved. Whom he doth not forsake as a God in covenant, to them doth he continue his presence, and towards them he exerciseth his power and all-sufficiency for their good. And if he can [not] by his Spirit and the power of his grace keep them whom he doth not forsake in a state and condition of not-forsaking him, he doth forsake them before they forsake him, yea, before he is said to forsake them. God’s not-forsaking believers is effectually preventive of that state and condition in them on the account whereof it is asserted that he may forsake them.

1 Sam. xii. 22, the truth we have under consideration is confirmed by the prophet in the name and authority of God himself; and the words wherein it is done have the force of a promise, being declarative of the good-will of God unto his people in Christ: “For the Lord will not forsake his people for his great name’s sake; because it hath pleased the Lord to make you his people.”

The expression is the same with that which the Lord gives his people of his good-will in the covenant of grace; of which I have spoken before.136 Many may be their calamities and afflictions, many their trials and temptations, many their desertions and darknesses, but God will not forsake them; he will not utterly cast them off for ever. That his people are his people in covenant, his secret ones, his spiritual church, the “remnant according to the election of grace,” hath been before declared, in the handling of like places of Scripture. It is to vindicate this and the like promises from all surmises of failing and coming short of accomplishment that the apostle saith, “God hath not cast away his people which he foreknew,” Rom. xi. 2; that is, he hath made good his promise to them, even to them among the Jews whom he did so foreknow as also to “predestinate them to be conformed to the image of his Son,” chap. viii. 29: so out of all Israel saving “all Israel,” even the whole Israel of God. That a discriminating purpose of God is intended in that expression hath been already declared, and shall, the Lord assisting, be farther manifested.

The promise as here mentioned hath a double use:—

1. It is held out as an inducement to obedience to that whole people; in reference whereunto he telleth them that “if they did wickedly, they should be destroyed, both they and their king,” 1 Sam. xii. 25. In the dreadful threatenings that God denounceth against wicked and impenitent ones, he hath an end to accomplish in reference to his saints, unto his own, even to make them know his terror, and to be acquainted with the abomination of sin. And in his promises, intended directly to them, he hath designs to accomplish upon the most wicked and ungodly, even to discover his approbation of that which is good, that they may be left inexcusable.

2. It was a testimony of his good-will unto his secret ones, his remnant., his residue, his brand out of the fire, unto his people called according to his eternal purpose, in the midst of his people by external profession, and of his presence with them, under the accomplishment of the threatening mentioned upon the generality of that nation. He did not forsake them when the people in general and their king were destroyed. Whatever outward dispensation he bringeth upon the whole, the love and grace of the promise shall certainly be reserved for them; as, Isa. iv. 2–4, the “remnant,” the “escaping of Israel,” those that were “written unto life,” shall obtain, when the rest are destroyed or hardened.

So Ps. lxxxix. 30–37, “If his children forsake my law, and walk not in my judgments; if they break my statutes, and keep not my commandments; then will I visit their transgression with the rod, and their iniquity with stripes. Nevertheless my loving-kindness will I not utterly take from him, nor 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. His seed shall endure for ever, and his throne as the sun before me. It shall be established for ever as the moon, and as a faithful witness in heaven. Selah.”

A supposal is made of such was and walkings in the spiritual seed and offspring of the Lord Christ (which in the psalm is typed out by David), that the Lord will be as it were compelled to deal sharply with them for their iniquities and transgressions: yet his “loving-kindness,” that shall abide with Christ in reference to the preservation of his seed; his “faithfulness,” that shall not fail; his covenant and his oath shall be made good to the uttermost.

It is supposed (which is the worst that can be supposed) that in some degree, at least for some season, they may forsake the law, not keep the commandments, and profane the statutes of God (which continues the burden of poor believers to this day); yet the worst that the Lord threatens them with on this account, when they might have expected that he would have utterly cast off such unthankful, unfruitful backsliders, poor creatures, is but this, “I will visit them with a rod, and with stripes.” They shall have whatever comes within the compass of correction or affliction; rod and stripes shall be on them, and that whether outward correction or inward desertion. But will the Lord proceed no farther? will he not for ever cast them off, and ease himself of such a provoking generation? “No,” saith the Lord; “there lie five things in the way, upon whose account I cannot so deal with them.” All regard the same persons, as is evident from the antithesis that is in the discourse.

1. There is my loving-kindness, saith God, which is eternal and unchangeable; for “I love them with an everlasting love,” Jer. xxxi. 3. This I cannot utterly take away. Though it may be hid and eclipsed as to the appearance and influences of it, yet utterly it shall not be taken away as to the reality of it. Though I chasten and correct them, yet my loving-kindness shall be continued to them. And then, saith he, —

2. There is my faithfulness, which I have engaged to them; which, whatever they do (that is, that I will suffer them to do, or that they may do upon supposition of the grace of the covenant,137 wherewith they are supplied), though they behave themselves very foolishly and frowardly, yet that I must take care of, — that must not fail. 2 Tim. ii. 13, “He abideth faithful; he cannot deny himself.” And this faithfulness, saith God, I have engaged in three things:—

(1.) In my covenant that I have made with them to be their God, and wherein I have promised that they shall be my people; wherein also I have made plentiful provision of mercy and grace for all their failings. And this must not be broken; my faithfulness is in it, and it must abide. My covenant of peace that I make with them is an everlasting covenant; it is “an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things and sure,” 2 Sam. xxiii. 5; Ezek. xxxvii. 26; it is a covenant of peace, an everlasting covenant.

(2.) “In the thing that is gone out of my lips,” or the grace and love I have spoken of in the promise. Herein also will I be faithful, and that shall not be altered. All my promises are yea and amen in Christ Jesus, 2 Cor. i. 20. And, —

(3.) Lastly, All this I have confirmed by an oath, “I have sworn by my holiness,” and “I will not lie.”

So that in all these immutable things, wherein it is “impossible for God to lie,” he hath treasured up strong consolation for them that do believe.138 Though, then, the seed of Christ, which he is to see upon the account of his suffering for them (Isa. liii. 10), do sin and transgress, yet God hath put all these gracious obligations upon himself to reduce them by correction and affliction, but never to proceed to final sentence of utter rejection.

To this purpose, I say, are the words in the place of Samuel now mentioned:—

1. The matter of the promise, or what he promiseth the people, is, “he will not forsake them.” God’s not-forsaking them is not a bare not casting them off, but an active continuance with them in love and mercy. He exercises not a pure negative act of his will towards any thing or person. Whom he hates not, he loves. So Heb. xiii. 5, these words, “I will not forsake thee,” hold out a continual supply of all those wants whereunto in ourselves we are exposed, and what from his presence we do receive. “I will not forsake them” is, “I will continue my presence with them, a God in covenant.” So he expresseth his presence with them, Isa. xxvii. 3, “I the Lord do keep it; I will water it every moment: lest any hurt it, I will keep it night and day.” He abideth with his vineyard, so as to keep it and to preserve it from being destroyed. But may it not at one time or other be surprised into desolation? No; saith he, “I will keep it night and day.” But what if this vineyard prove barren? what will he then do? Nay, but he will so deal with it that it shall never be so barren as to cause him to cast it up. He is not with it for nought; his presence is attended with grace and kindness. “I will water it,” saith he; and that not now and then, but “every moment.” He pours out fresh supplies of his Spirit upon it to make it fruitful. Thence it becomes “a vineyard of red wine,” verse 2; the best wine, the most delicious, the most precious, to cheer the heart of God himself, as Zeph. iii. 17, “The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing.” He causes them thereby that come out of Jacob to take root; he makes Israel blossom and bud, and fill the face of the world with fruit. This is that which God promiseth his people: He will not forsake them, he will always give them his presence, in the kindness and supplies of a God in covenant, to protect them from others, to make them fruitful to himself. This is his not-forsaking them. He will preserve them from others; who shall take them out of his hand? He will make them fruitful to himself; “he will work, and who shall let him?”

2. The reason why the Lord will not forsake his people, why he will continue doing them good, is expressed in these words, “For his great name’s sake.” And in this assertion two things are considerable:—

(1.) A tacit exclusion of any thing in themselves for which, or upon consideration whereof, God will constantly abide with them. It is not for their sakes, for any thing in them, or for what they have done, may, or can do, — it is not upon the account of any condition or qualification whatever that may or may not be found in them, — but merely for his name’s sake; which in the like case he expresseth fully, Ezek. xxxvi. 32, “Not for your sakes do I this, saith the Lord God, be it known unto you: be ashamed and confounded for your own ways, O house of Israel.” The truth is, they may prove such as, on all accounts whatever, shall deserve to be rejected, — that nothing in appearance, or in their own sense, as well as others’, though the root of the matter be in them, may be found upon them, — when God takes delight in them; like those you have described at large, Isa. xliii. 22–25, “But thou hast not called upon me, O Jacob; but thou hast been weary of me, O Israel. Thou hast not brought me the small cattle of thy burnt-offerings; neither hast thou honoured me with thy sacrifices. I have not caused thee to serve with an offering, nor wearied thee with incense. Thou hast bought me no sweet cane with money, neither hast thou filled me with the fat of thy sacrifices: but thou hast made me to serve with thy sins, thou hast wearied me with thine iniquities. I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins.” Weary of God they are, neglecting his worship, making his patience and forbearance to serve with their iniquities. It seems to be impossible almost for any creature to apprehend that God will not give them up to everlasting confusion. Yea, perhaps they may be froward in their follies, and contend with God when he goes to heal them: Isa. lvii. 17, “For the iniquity of his covetousness was I wroth, and smote him: I hid me, and was wroth, and he went on frowardly in the way of his heart.” Iniquity is upon them, a vile iniquity, “the iniquity of covetousness,” God is wroth with them, and smites, and hides him, and they go on frowardly. And yet for all this he “forsaketh not for ever,” he abides to be their God; and that because his so doing is not bottomed on any consideration of what they are, have been, or will be, but he doth it for his name’s sake, and with regard unto that which thereupon he will do for them. And upon this account this promise of God’s abiding and continuing with his, let grace be never so weak, corruption never so strong, temptations never so violent, may be pleaded; and the Lord rejoices to be put in remembrance of it by the weakest, frailest, sinfulest saint or believer in the world.

(2.) The cause or reason is positively expressed why God will not forsake them: it is “for his great name’s sake.” His great name is all that he consults withal about his continuance with his people. This he calls himself, Isa. xliii. 25, “I am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake;” that is, “For no other cause in the world that may be found in thee or upon thee.” The “name “of God is all that whereby to us he is known; all his attributes, his whole will, — all his glory. When God is said to do any thing for his name, it is either the cause and end of what he doth, or the principle from whence with the motive wherefore he doth it, that is by him intended. In the first sense, to do a thing for his name’s sake is to do it for the manifestation of his glory, that he may be known to be God in the excellency of those perfections whereby he reveals himself to his, with most frequently a special regard to his faithfulness and grace. It is in these properties to make himself known, and to be exalted in the hearts of his. So all his dispensations in Jesus Christ are for “the praise of the glory of his grace,” Eph. i. 6, — that he may be exalted, lifted up, made known, believed, and received as a God pardoning iniquity in the Son of his love. And in this sense may the Lord be said to abide with his people “for his name’s sake,” for the exalting of his glory, that he may be known to be a God faithful in covenant and unchangeable in his love, who will not “cast off for ever” those whom he hath once received into favour. It will not enter into the hearts of believers sometimes why the Lord should so deal with them as he doth, and not cast them off. Their souls may go to rest as to this thing. He himself is glorious herein; he is exalted, and doth it on that account. If by his “name” you understand the principle from whence he worketh, and his motive thereunto, as it comprehends the whole longsuffering, gracious, tender, unchangeable nature of God, according as he hath revealed himself in Jesus Christ, in whom his name is, Exod. xxiii. 21, and which he hath committed to him to be manifested, John xvii. 6; so evidently two things in God are engaged, when he promiseth to work for his name’s sake, or according to his great name:—

[1.] His power or sufficiency. Upon the engagement of the name of God on “his people’s behalf, Moses carefully pleads this latter or part thereof, Numb. xiv. 17–19. God hath given his name unto his people; and this is wrapped up in that mercy, that he will lay out his power to pardon, heal, and do them good, in his preserving of them and abiding with them: “Let the power of my Lord be great, according as thou hast spoken, saying, The Lord is long-suffering,” etc. And as, when he works for his name, the way whereby he will do it is according to the greatness of his power, so the fountain and rise from whence he will do it is, —

[2.] His goodness, kindness, love, patience, mercy, grace, faithfulness, in Jesus Christ. And thus, under the title of his “name,” doth he call poor, afflicted, dark, hopeless, helpless creatures (upon any other account in the world), persons ready to be swallowed up in disconsolation and sorrow, to rest upon him: Isa. i. 10, “Who is among you that feareth the Lord, that obeyeth the voice of his servant, that walketh in darkness, and hath no light? let him trust in the name of the Lord, and stay upon his God.”139 When all other holds are gone, when flesh fails and heart fails, then doth God call poor souls to rest upon this name of his. So the psalmist, Ps. lxxiii. 26, “My flesh and my heart faileth,” all strength, natural and spiritual, falleth and is gone: “but God is the strength of my heart,” saith he, “and my portion for ever.” Now, this is the sole motive also of God’s continuance with his: he will do it because he himself is good, gracious, merciful, loving, tender; and he will lay out these properties to the utmost in their behalf, that it may be well with them, lifting up, exalting, and making himself gracious in so doing. This the Lord emphatically expresseth five times in one verse: Isa. xlvi. 4, “Even to your old age I am he; and even to hoar hairs will I carry you: I have made, and I will bear; even I will carry, and will deliver you.”

This, then, I say, is the reason and only ground, this the principal aim and end, upon the account whereof the Lord will “not forsake his people.”

3. The rise of all this goodness, kindness, faithfulness of God to his people, as to the exercise of it, is also expressed, and that is his own good pleasure: “Because it hath pleased the Lord to make you his people.” This is the spring and fountain of all the goodness mentioned. God is essentially in himself of a good, gracious, and loving nature; but he acts all these properties, as to the works that outwardly are of him, “after the counsel of his own will,” Eph. i. 11, according to the purpose which he purposeth in himself, and his purposes, all of them, have no other rise or cause but his own good pleasure. Why did the Lord make us his people, towards whom he might act according to the gracious properties of his nature, yea, and lay them forth and exercise them to the utmost on our behalf? Was it because we were better than others? did his will? walked with him? Did he declare we should be his people upon condition we did so and so? Not on any of these or the like grounds of proceeding doth he do this, but merely because “it pleaseth him to make us his people;” Matt. xi. 26. And shall we think that he who took us to be his people notwithstanding our universal alienation from him, on the account of his own good pleasure, which caused him to make us his people (that is, obedient, believing, separated from the world), will upon any account, being himself unchangeable, not preserve us in, but reject us from, that condition?

Thus is God’s mercy in not forsaking his people resolved into its original principle, — namely, his own good pleasure in choosing of them, carried on by the goodness and unchangeableness of his own nature to the appointed issue.

This, then, is the sum of this argument: What work or design the Lord entereth upon merely from his own good pleasure, or solely in answer to the purpose which he purposeth in himself and engageth to continue in mercy for his name’s sake, thereby taking upon him to remove or prevent whatever might hinder the accomplishment of that purpose, work, or design of his, that he will abide in unchangeable to the end; but this is the state of the Lord’s undertaking, to abide, with his people, as hath been manifested at large.

Let us add in the next place that of the psalmist: Ps. xxiii. 4, 6, “Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.” The psalmist expresseth an exceeding confidence in the midst of most inexpressible troubles and pressures. He supposes himself “walking through the valley of the shadow of death.” As “death” is the worst of evils, and comprehensive of them all, so the “shadow” of death is the most dismal and dark representation of those evils to the soul, and the “valley” of that shadow the most dreadful bottom and depth of that representation. This, then, the prophet supposed that he may be brought into. A condition wherein he may be overwhelmed with sad apprehensions of the coming of a confluence of all manner of evils upon him, — and that not for a short season, but he may be necessitated to walk in them, which denotes a state of some continuance, a conflicting with most dismal evils, and in their own nature tending to death, — is in the supposal. What, then, would he do if he should be brought into this estate? Saith he, “Even in that condition, in such distress, wherein I am, to my own and the eyes of others, hopeless, helpless, gone, and lost, ‘I will fear no evil.’ ” A noble resolution, if there be a sufficient bottom and foundation for it, that it may not be accounted rashness and groundless confidence, but true spiritual courage and holy resolution. Saith he, “It is because the Lord is with me.” But, alas! what if the Lord should now forsake thee in this condition, and give thee up to the power of thine enemies, and suffer thee, by the strength of thy temptations, wherewith thou art beset, to fall utterly from him? Surely then thou wouldst be swallowed up for ever; the waters would go over thy soul, and thou must for ever lie down in the shades of death. “Yea,” saith he, “but I have an assurance of the contrary; ‘goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.’ ”

“But this,” say some, “is a very desperate persuasion. If thou art sure that goodness and mercy shall follow thee all the days of thy life, then live as thou pleasest, as loosely as flesh can desire, as wickedly as Satan can prompt thee to. Certainly this persuasion is fit only to ingenerate in thee a high contempt of humble and close walking with God. What other conclusion canst thou possibly make of that presumption but only this, ‘ I may, then, do what I please, what I will; let the flesh take its swing in all abominations, it matters not, goodness and mercy shall follow me.’ Alas!” saith the psalmist, “these thoughts never come into my heart. I find this persuasion, through the grace of Him in whom it is effectual, to in-generate contrary resolutions, This is that which I am, upon the account hereof, determined on, ‘I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.’ Seeing ‘goodness and mercy shall follow me,’ I will dwell in his house; and seeing they shall follow me ‘all the days of my life,’ I will dwell in his house for ever.”

There are, then, these two things in this last verse pregnant to the purpose in hand:—

1. The psalmist’s assurance of the presence of God with him “for ever,” and that in kindness and pardoning mercy, upon the account of his promise unto him. “Goodness or benignity,” saith he, “shall follow me into every condition, to assist me and extricate my soul, even out of the valley of the shadow of death.” A conclusion like that of Paul, 2 Tim. iv. 18, “The Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom.” Having, verse 17, given testimony of the presence of God with him in his great trial, when he was brought before that devouring monster Nero, giving him deliverance, he manifesteth in verse 18 that the presence of God with him was not only effectual for one or another deliverance, but that it will keep him “from every evil work,” not only from the rashness, cruelty, and oppression of others, but also from any such way or work of his own which should lay a bar against his enjoyment of and complete preservation unto that heavenly kingdom whereunto he was appointed.

What reason, now, can be imagined why other saints of God, who have the same promises with David and Paul, established unto them in the hand of the same Mediator, being equally taken into the same covenant of mercy and peace with them, may not make the same conclusion of mercy with them, — namely, “That the mercy and goodness of God will follow them all the days of their lives; that they shall be delivered from every evil work, and preserved to God’s heavenly kingdom?” 2 Cor. i. 20. To fly here to immediate revelation, as though God had particularly and immediately assured some persons of their perseverance, which begat in them a confidence wherein others may not share with them, besides that it is destructive of all the vigour and strength of sundry, if not all the arguments produced against the saints’ perseverance, it is not in this place of any weight, or at all relative to the business in hand; for evident it is that one of them, even David, is thus confident upon the common account of God’s relation unto all his saints, as he is their shepherd, one that takes care of them, and will see, not only whilst they abide with him, that they shall have pasture and refreshment, but also will find them out in their wanderings, and will not suffer any of them to be utterly lost. And he is a shepherd equally in care and love to every one of his saints as he was to David. He gives them all “the sure mercies of David,” even the mercy contained and wrapped up in the promise that was given to them, and what by virtue thereof he did enjoy, with what he received from God in that covenant relation wherein he stood, Isa. lv. 3. And for Paul, it is most evident that he grounded his confidence and consolation merely upon the general promise of the presence of God with his, that he will “never leave them nor forsake them,” but be their God and “guide even unto death;” neither is there the least intimation of any other bottom of his consolation herein. Now, these being things wherein every believer, even the weakest in the world, hath an equal share and interest with Paul, David, or any of the saints in their generations, what should lie in their way but that they also may grow up to this assurance, being called thereunto? I say, they may grow up unto it. I do not say that every believer can with equal assurance of mind thus make his boast in the Lord and in the continuance of his kindness to him, — the Lord knows we are oftentimes weak and dark, and at no small loss even as to the main of our interest in the promises of God; — but there being an equal certainty in the things themselves of which we speak, it being as certain that the goodness and mercy of God shall follow them all their days as it did David, and as certain that God will deliver them from every evil work and preserve them to his heavenly kingdom as he did Paul, they also may grow up unto, and ought to press after, the like assurance and consolation with them. Whom goodness and mercy shall follow all their days, and who shall be of God preserved from every evil work, they can never fall totally and finally out of the favour of God. That this is the state and condition of believers is manifested from the instances given of David and Paul, testifying their full persuasion and assurance concerning that condition on grounds common to them with all believers.

2. The conclusion and inference that the psalmist makes, from the assurance which he had of the continuance of the goodness and kindness of God unto him, followeth in the words insisted on: “All the days of his life he would dwell in the Lord’s house.” He would for ever give up himself unto his worship and service. “Seeing this is the case of my soul, that God will never forsake me, let me answer this love of God in my constant obedience.” Now, this conclusion follows from the former principle upon a twofold account:—

(1.) As it is a motive unto it. The continuance of the goodness and kindness of God unto a soul is a constraining motive unto that soul to continue with him in love, service, and obedience; it works powerfully upon a heart any way ennobled with the ingenuity of grace to make a suitable return, as far as possibly it can, to such eminent mercy and goodness. I profess I know not what those men think the saints of God to be, who suppose them apt to make conclusions of wantonness and rebellion upon the account of the steadfastness of the love and kindness of God to them. I shall not judge any as to their state and condition; yet I cannot but think that such men’s prejudices and fullness of their own persuasions do exceedingly interpose in their spirits from receiving that impression of this grace of God which in its own nature it is apt to give, or it would be impossible they should once imagine that of itself it is apt to draw the spirits of men into a neglect and contempt of God.

(2.) As the end of God, intended in giving that assurance, to the effecting whereof it is exceedingly operative and effectual. So you have it, Luke i. 74, 75. This is the intendment of God in confirming his oath and promise unto us, “That he may grant unto us, that we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness all the days of our lives.”

Now, though these forementioned, with many other texts of Scripture, are plain, evident, and full to the business we have in hand, yet the adversaries of this truth having their hands so full with them that are commonly urged that they cannot attend unto them, I shall not need to spend time in their vindication from exceptions which none that I know have as yet brought in against them (though, upon their principles, they might possibly be invented), but shall leave them to be mixed with faith, according as God by his Spirit shall set them home upon the souls of them who do consider them.

The whole of Ps. cxxv. might, in the next place, be brought in to give testimony to the truth in hand. I shall only take a proof from the first two verses of it: “They that trust in the Lord shall be as mount Zion, which cannot be removed, but abideth for even -as the mountains are round about Jerusalem, so the Lord is round about his people from henceforth even for ever.” Whereunto answereth that of Ps. xxxvii. 28, “The Lord loveth judgment, and forsaketh not his saints; they are preserved for ever;” as also Deut. xxxiii. 3, “Yea, he loveth his people; all his saints are in thy hand.” In the verses named, I shall a little fix upon two things conducing to our purpose, which are evidently contained in them:—

1. A promise of God’s everlasting presence with his saints, believers, them that trust in him, and their steadfastness thereupon: “They shall be as mount Zion, which cannot be removed;” and that because “the Lord is round about them,” and that “for ever.”

2. An allusive comparison of both these, both their stability and God’s presence with them, given for the encouragement of weak believers, with special regard to the days wherein the promise was first made, which actually also belongs to them on whom the ends of the world are fallen. The psalmist bids them, as it were, lift up their eyes, and look upon mount Zion and the hills that were round about Jerusalem, and tells them that God will as certainly and assuredly continue with them and give them establishment as those hills and mountains which they beheld round about abide in their places; so that it shall be as impossible for all the powers of hell to remove them out of the favour of God as for a man to pluck up mount Zion by the roots, or to overturn the foundations of the mountains that stand round about Jerusalem. It is true, the Holy Ghost hath special regard to the oppositions and temptations that they were to undergo from men, but bears also an equal regard to all other means of separating them from their God. It would be a matter of small consolation unto them that men should not prevail over them for ever, if in the meantime there be other more close and powerful adversaries, who may cast them down with a perpetual destruction. Some few considerations of the intendment of the place will serve for the enforcing of our argument from this portion of Scripture:—

1. That which is here promised the saints is a perpetual preservation of them in that condition wherein they are; both on the part of God, “he is round about them from henceforth even for ever;” and on their parts, “they shall not be removed,” — that is, from the state and condition of acceptation with him wherein they are supposed to be, — but abide for ever, and continue therein immovable into the end. It is, I say, a plain promise of their continuance in that condition wherein they are, with their safety from thence, and not a promise of some other good thing provided that they continue in that condition. Their being compared to mountains and their stability, which consists in their being and continuing so, will admit no other sense. As mount Zion abides in its condition, so shall they; and as the mountains about Jerusalem continue, so doth the Lord his presence unto them.

2. That expression which is used, verse 2, is weighty and fall to this purpose, “The Lord is round about his people from henceforth even for ever.” What can be spoken more fully, more pathetically? Can any expression of men so set forth the truth which we have in hand? The Lord is round about them, not to save them from this or that incursion, but from all; not from one or two evils, but from every one whereby they are or may be assaulted. He is with them, and round about them on every side, that no evil shall come nigh them. It is a most full expression of universal preservation, or of God’s keeping his saints in his love and favour, upon all accounts whatsoever; and that not for a season only, but it is “henceforth,” from his giving this promise unto their souls in particular, stud their receiving of it in all generations, according to their appointed times, “even for ever.”

Some few exceptions, with a great surplusage of words and phrases, to make them seem other things than what have been formerly insisted on again and again, are advanced by Mr Goodwin, to overturn this Zion and to cast down the mountains that are about Jerusalem, chap. xi. sect. 9, pp. 230–232. The sum of our argument from hence, as of the intendment of this place, is this: Those whom the Lord will certainly preserve for ever in the state and condition of trusting in him, they shall never be forsaken of him nor separated from him. The latter clause of this proposition is that which we contend for, the whole of that whose proof is incumbent on us. Of this the former part is a sufficient basis and foundation, being comprehensive of all that is or can be required to the unquestionable establishment thereof, [which] from the letter of the text we assume. But God will certainly preserve for ever all his saints that put their trust in him, in their so doing, that they shall not be altered or cast down from that state and condition. Change but the figurative expressions in the text, and the allusions used for the accommodation of their faith in particular to whom this promise was first given, into other terms of a direct and proper significancy, and the text and the assumption of our argument will appear to be the same; whence the conclusion intended will undeniably follow. Unto this clear deduction of the truth contended for from this place of Scripture, the discourse ensuing, in the place mentioned, is opposed:—

1. “The promise only assures them that trust in the Lord that they shall be preserved, but not at all that they that trust in him shall be necessitated to do so still, or that so they shall do. So Paul saith, ‘It was in my heart to live and die with the Corinthians;’ but doubtless with this proviso, that they always continued such as they then were, or as he apprehended them to be, when he so wrote to them.”

Ans. I must be forced to smite this evasion once and again before we arrive at the close of this contest, it being so frequently made use of by our adversary, who without it knows himself not able to stand against the evidence of any one promise usually insisted on. This is the substance of all that which, with exceeding delightful variety of expressions, is a hundred times made use of: “The promise is conditional, and made to those that trust in the Lord, and is to be made good only upon the account of their continuing so to do; but that they shall so do, that they shall continue to trust in the Lord, that is wholly left to themselves, and not in the least undertaken in the promise.” And this is called a “discharging or dismissing of places of Scripture from the service whereunto, contrary to their proper sense and meaning, they are pressed,” a “delivering them from the bearing the cross of this warfare,” with such like imperial terms and expressions. To speak in the singleness of our spirit, we cannot see any one of the discharged soldiers returning from the camp, wherein they have long served for the safety and consolation of them that do believe. Particularly, this Scripture detests the gloss with violence imposed on it, and tells you that the end for which the God of truth sent it into this service., wherein it abides, is to assure them that trust in the Lord that they shall be preserved in that condition to the end; that in the condition of trusting and depending on God, they shall be as Zion, and the favour of God unto them as the immovable mountains, — he will for ever be with them and about them; and that all this shall certainly come to pass. Christ [David?] does not say that they shall be as established mountains if they continue to trust in the Lord, but they shall be so in their trusting, abiding for ever therein, through the safeguarding presence of God. For their being necessitated to continue trusting in the Lord, there is not any thing in [the] text, or in our argument from thence, or in the doctrine we maintain, that requires or will admit of any such proceeding of God as by that expression is properly signified. Indeed, there is a contradiction in terms, if they are used to the same purpose. To trust in the Lord is the voluntary, free act of the creature. To be necessitated unto this act and in the performance of it, so that it should be done necessarily as to the manner of its doing, is wholly destructive to the nature and being of it. That God can effectually and infallibly as to the event cause his saints to continue trusting in him without the least abridgment of their liberty, yea, that he doth so eminently by heightening and advancing their spiritual liberty, shall be afterward declared. If by “Necessitated to continue trusting,” not the manner of God’s operation with and in them for the compassing of the end proposed, and the efficacy of his grace, whereby he doth it (commonly decried under these terms), be intended, but only the certainty of the issue, rejecting the impropriety of the expression, the thing itself we affirm to be here promised of God. But it is urged, —

2. “That this promise is not made unto the persons of any, but merely unto their qualifications; like that, ‘He that believeth shall be saved;’ it is made to the grace of trusting, obedience, and walking with God: for threatenings are made to the evil qualifications of men.”

Ans. This it seems, then, we are come unto (and what farther progress may be made the Lord knows): The gracious promises of God, made to his church, his people, in the blood of Jesus, on which they have rolled themselves with safety and security in their several generations, are nothing but bare declarations of the will of God, what he allows and what he rejects, with the firm concatenation that is between faith and salvation, obedience and reward. And this, it seems, is the only use of them: which if it be so, I dare boldly say that all the saints of God from the foundation of the world have most horribly abused his promises, and forced them to other ends than ever God intended them for. Doubtless all those blessed souls who are fallen asleep in the faith of Jesus Christ, having drawn refreshment from these breasts of consolation, could they be summoned to give in their experience of what they have found in this kind, would with one mouth profess that they found far more in them than mere conditional declarations of the will of God; yea, that they received them in faith as the engagement of his heart and good-will towards them, and that he never failed in the accomplishment and performance of all the good mentioned in them. Neither will that emphatical expression in the close of the second verse (which being somewhat too rough for our author to handle, he left it quite out) bear any such sense. That the promises of the covenant are made originally to persons, and not to qualifications, hath been in part already proved, and shall be farther evinced, God assisting, as occasion shall be offered, in the ensuing discourse. The promises are to Abraham and his seed; and some of them, as hath been declared, are the springs of all qualifications whatever that are acceptable unto God. What be the qualifications of promises of opening blind eyes, taking away stony hearts, etc., hath not as yet been declared. But it is farther argued, —

3. “That this and the like promises are to be interpreted according to the rule which God hath given for the interpretation and understanding of his threatenings unto nations about temporal things, and his promises that are of the same import, which we have, Jer. xviii. 7, 8, plainly affirming that all their accomplishment dependeth on some conditions in the persons or nations against whom they are denounced.”

Ans. God forbid! Shall those promises which are branches of the everlasting covenant of grace, called “better promises” than those of the old covenant, upon the account of their infallible accomplishment, ratified in the blood of Christ, made “yea and amen”140 in him, the witness of the faithfulness of God to his church and grand supporter of our faith, “exceeding great and precious,”141 — shall they be thought to be of no other sense and interpretation, to make no other revelation of the Father unto us, but in that kind which is common to threatenings of judgments (expressly conditional) for the deterring men from their impious and destructive courses? I say, God forbid! To put it, then, to an issue: God here promiseth that they who have trust in him shall never be removed. What, I pray, is the condition on which this promise doth depend? “It is,” say they who oppose us in this, “if they continue trusting in him.” That is, if they be not removed; for to trust in him is not to be removed: if, then, they be not removed, they shall not be removed! And is this the mind of the Holy Ghost? Notwithstanding all the rhetoric in the world, this promise will stand, for the consolation of them that believe, as the mountains about Jerusalem, that shall never be removed.

In some it is said to be “a promise of abiding in happiness, not in faith.” But it plainly appears to be a promise of abiding in trusting the Lord, which comprehends both our faith and happiness.

Obj. “It is not promised that they who once trust in the Lord shall abide happy though they cease to trust in him.”

Ans. It is a promise that they shall not cease to trust in him.

Obj. “It is not said that they shall be necessitated to abide trusting in him.”

Ans. No; but it is that they shall be so far assisted and effectually wrought upon as certainly to do it.

Obj. “It is no more than the apostle says to the Corinthians, 2 Cor. ii. 3; which frame towards them he would not continue should they be changed and turned into idolaters and blasphemers.”

Ans. 1. The promises of God and the affections of men are but ill compared. 2. Paul loved the Corinthians whilst they were such as he mentioned. God promiseth his grace to believers, that they may continue such as he loves.

Obj. “All the promises are made to qualifications, not to persons.”

Ans. Prove that, and, 1. Take the case in hand; and, 2. Cast down the church to the ground, it having no one promise, on that account, made unto it, as consisting of Abraham’s seed.

And so this witness also is freed from all exceptions put in against it, and appears with confidence to give in its testimony to the unchangeableness of God unto believers.

I shall, in the next place, adjoin another portion of Scripture, of the same import with those foregoing, wherein the truth in hand is no less clearly, and somewhat more pathetically and convincingly, expressed than in that last mentioned. It is Isa. liv. 7–10, “For a small moment have I forsaken thee; but with great mercies will I gather thee. In a little wrath I hid my face from thee for a moment; but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee, saith the Lord thy Redeemer. For this is as the waters of Noah unto me: for as I have sworn that the waters of Noah should no more go over the earth; so have I sworn that I would not be wroth with thee, nor rebuke thee. For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the Lord that hath mercy on thee.” This place I have mentioned before, but only as to one special inference from one passage in the words; I shall now use the whole for the confirmation of the general truth we plead for. The words are full, plain, suited to the business in hand. No expressions of our finding out can so fully reach the truth we assert, much less so pathetically work upon the affections of believers, or so effectually prevail on their understandings to receive the truth contained in them, as these words of God himself, given us for these ends, are suited to do. Go to men whose minds are in any measure free from prejudice, not forestalled with a contrary persuasion or furnished with evasions for the defence of their opinions, and ask whether God doth not in these words directly and positively promise to those to whom he speaketh, that he will always continue his kindness to them to the end, and that for the days of eternity his love shall be fixed on them; and I no way doubt but they will readily answer, “It is so indeed; it cannot be denied.” But seeing we have to deal, as with our own unbelieving hearts, so with men who have turned every stone to prejudge this testimony of God, the words must a little more narrowly be considered, and the mind of the Holy Ghost inquired into.

Verse 7, mention is made of the desertion of the church by the eclipsing of the beams of God’s countenance, and the inflicting of some great affliction for a season; in opposition unto which momentary desertion, in that and in the beginning of the 8th verse, he giveth in consolation from the assurance of the great mercies and everlasting kindness wherein he abideth to do them good: “With everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee;” — “I will pardon, pity, and heal thee with that mercy which floweth from love, which never had beginning, that never shall have ending, that cannot be cut off, ‘everlasting kindness’ Bear with patience your present desertion, your present trials, whatever they are that befall you; they are but for a season, but ‘ for a moment,’ and these also are consistent with that mercy and kindness which is everlasting and turneth not away.” If this mercy and kindness dependeth on any thing in us, and is solved lastly thereinto, which may alter and change every moment, — as our walking with God in itself considered, not relating to the unchangeableness of his purpose and the efficacy of his promised grace, is apt to do, — what opposition can there be betwixt that desertion wherewith they are exercised and the kindness wherewith they are embraced, as to their continuance? As that is said to be for a little while, for “a moment,” so this also may be of no longer abode. It may possibly be as Jonah’s gourd, that grew up in the morning, and before night was withered. What, then, shall become of the foundation of that consolation wherewith God here refresheth the souls of his people, consisting in the continuance of his kindness in an antithesis to the momentariness of their desertion?

Lest that any should call this into question (as our unbelieving hearts are very apt and skilful in putting in pleas against the truth of the promises of God and their accomplishment towards us), verse 9, the Lord farther confirmeth the assurance formerly given, and removeth those objections to which, through the sophistry of Satan and the sottishness of our own hearts, it may seem to be liable. “This is,” saith he, “as the waters of Noah.” God’s dealing with them in that mercy which floweth from his everlasting kindness is like his dealing with the world in the matter of the waters of Noah, or the flood wherewith it was drowned and destroyed, when he, with his, were saved in the ark. He calleth upon his children to consider his dealings with the world in respect of the flood: “I have sworn,” saith he (that is, “I have entered into a covenant to that end,” which was wont to be confirmed with an oath, and God being absolutely faithful in his covenant is said to swear thereunto, though there be no express mention of any such oath), “that the world should no more be so drowned as then it was. Now,” saith God, “see my faithfulness herein; it hath never been drowned since, nor ever shall be. With equal faithfulness have I engaged, even in covenant, that that kindness which I mentioned to thee shall always be continued, ‘so that I will not be wroth to rebuke thee;’ that is, so as utterly to cast thee off, as the world was when it was drowned.” But some may say, “Before the flood the earth was filled with violence and sin; and should it be so again, would it not bring another flood upon it? Hath he said he will not drown it, notwithstanding any interposal of sin, wickedness, or rebellion whatsoever? Yea,” saith he, “such is my covenant. I took notice in my first engagement therein, that the ‘imagination of man’s heart would be evil from his youth,’ Gen. viii. 21, and yet I entered into that solemn covenant. So that this exemption of the world from a universal deluge is not an appendix to the obedience of the world, which hath been, upon some accounts, more wicked since than before (as in the crucifying of Christ, the Lord of glory, and in rejecting of him being preached unto them), but it solely leaneth upon my faithfulness in keeping covenant, and my truth in the accomplishment of the oath that I have solemnly entered into. So is my kindness to you. I have made express provision for your sins and failings therein; such I will preserve you from as are inconsistent with my kindness to you, and such will I pardon as you are overtaken withal.” When you see a universal deluge covering the face of the earth (that is, God unfaithful to his oath and covenant), then, and not till then, suppose that his kindness can be turned from believers.

Something is excepted against this testimony, chap. xi. sect. 4, p. 227, but of so little importance that it is scarce worth while to turn aside to the consideration of it. The sum is, “That this place speaketh only of God’s faithfulness in his covenant; but that this should be the tenor of the covenant, that they who once truly believe should by God infallibly, and by a strong hand, against all interposals of sin, wickedness, or rebellion, be preserved in such a faith, is not, by any word, syllable, or iota, intimated.”

Ans. This is that which is repeated “usque ad nauseam;” and were it not for variety of expressions, wherewith some men do abound, to adorn it, it would appear extremely beggarly and overworn. But a sorry shift (as they say) is better than none, or doubtless in this place it had not been made use of; for, —

1. This testimony is not called forth to speak immediately to the continuance of believers in their faith, but to the continuance and unchangeableness of the love of God to them, and consequently only to their preservation in faith upon that account.

2. It is not only assumed at a cheap and very low rate or price, but clearly gratis supposed, that believers may make such “interposals of sin, wickedness, and rebellion,” in their walking with God, as should be inconsistent with the continuance of his favour and kindness to them, according to the tenor of the covenant of grace. His kindness and favour being to us extrinsical, our sins are not opposed unto them really and directly, as though they might effectually infringe an act of the will of God, but only meritoriously. Now, when God saith that he will continue his kindness to us for ever notwithstanding the demerit of sin, as is plainly intimated in that allusion to the waters of Noah, for any one to say that they may fall into such sins and rebellions as that he cannot but turn his kindness from them, is a bold attempt for the violation of his goodness and faithfulness, and a plain begging of the thing in question. Certainly it is not a pious labour, to thrust with violence such supposals into the promises of God as will stop those breasts from giving out any consolation, when no place or room for them doth at all appear, there being not one word, syllable, iota, or tittle, of any such supposals in them.

3. The exposition and gloss that is given of these words, — namely, “That upon condition of their faithfulness and obedience, which, notwithstanding any thing in this or any other promise, they may turn away from, he will engage himself to be a God to them,” — is such as no saint of God, without the help of Satan and his own unbelief, could affix to the place.

4. Neither will that at all assist which is affirmed, namely, “That in all covenants, — and his promise holdeth out a covenant, — there must be a condition on both sides:” for, we willingly grant that in his covenant of grace God doth promise something to us, and requireth something of us, and that these two have mutual dependence one upon another; but we also affirm that in the very covenant itself God hath graciously promised to work effectually in us those things which he requireth of us, and that herein it mainly differeth from the covenant of works, which he hath abolished. But such a covenant as wherein God should promise to be a God unto us upon a condition by us and in our own strength to be fulfilled, and on the same account continued in unto the end, we acknowledge not, nor can, whilst our hearts have any sense of the love of the Father, the blood of the Son, or the grace of the Holy Spirit, the fountains thereof. Notwithstanding, then, any thing that hath been drawn forth in opposition to it, faith may triumph, from the love of God in Christ, held out in this promise, in the full assurance of an everlasting acceptance with him; for God, also, willing yet more abundantly to give in consolation in this place to the heirs of promise, assureth the stability of his love and kindness to them by another allusion: Verse 10, “The mountains,” saith he, “shall depart, and the hills be removed; but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the Lord that hath mercy on thee.” He biddeth them consider the mountains and hills, and suppose that they may be removed and depart. “Suppose that the most unlikely things in the world shall come to pass, whose accomplishment none can judge possible while the world endureth, yet my kindness to thee is such as shall not fall within those supposals which concern things of such an impossibility.” I am exceeding conscious that all paraphrasing or exposition of the words that may be used, for their accommodation to the truth we plead for, doth but darken and eclipse the light and glory which in and by themselves, to a believing soul, they cast upon it. Now, lest any should think that there is the least tendency in such promises as these, as held out to believers, to turn them aside from close walking with God, before I enter upon the consideration of any other (this seeming of all others most exposed to exceptions of that nature), I shall give some few observations that may a little direct believers, to whom I write, and for whose sake this task is undertaken, unto the right improvement of them.

The genuine influence which this and the like promises have upon the souls of the saints, is mightily to stir them up unto, and to assist them in answering, what lieth in them, that inexpressible love and kindness which their God and Father in Jesus Christ holdeth out unto their hearts in them. This the apostle inferreth from them, 2 Cor. vii. 1, “Having these promises” (that is, those especially mentioned in the words preceding the conclusion and the inference the apostle here maketh, chap. vi. 16, 18, “I will dwell in them, and walk in them, and will be a Father unto them, and they shall be my sons and daughters”), therefore, saith he, “let us cleanse ourselves from all pollution of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” Universal purity, holiness, and close walking with God, are that which these promises do press unto and naturally promote in the hearts of believers. And in 2 Pet. i. 3–6, that apostle pursueth the same at large, “God hath called us to glory and virtue; hath given us exceeding great and precious promises; that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. Besides this, giving all diligence,” etc. “The exceeding great and precious promises” which are given unto us in our calling are bestowed for this end, that “by them we may be made partakers of the divine nature.” They have no tendency to communicate to us the nature of the devil, and to stir us up to rebellion, uncleanness, and hatred of the God of all that love that is in them; but lie, indeed, at the bottom, the root, and foundation of the practice and exercise of all those graces which he enumerates, and, from the receiving of those promises, exhorts us to in the following verses. Some, I confess, do or may “turn the grace of God into lasciviousness,” — that is, the doctrine of grace and of pardon of sin in the blood of Jesus Christ, — and so the mercy mentioned in such promises as these, merely as in them it is mentioned; grace and mercy communicated cannot be turned into wantonness. But what are they that do so? “Ungodly men, men of old ordained to condemnation,” Jude 4. Paul rejecteth any such thought from the hearts of believers: Rom. vi. 1, 2, “Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? God forbid!” Nay, suppose that that natural corruption, that flesh and blood, that is in believers, be apt to make such a conclusion as this, “Because God will certainly abide with us for ever, therefore let us walk carelessly, and do him all the despite we can,” these promises being not made for the use and exalting of the flesh, but being given to be mixed with faith, which is carefully to watch against all abusing or corrupting of that love and mercy which is held out unto it, flesh and blood can have no advantage given unto it thereby; as shall afterward be more fully and clearly demonstrated. The question is, then, what conclusion faith doth, will, and ought to make of these promises of God, and not what abuse the flesh will make of them. Let, then, the meanest and weakest faith in all the world that is true and saving speak for itself, whether there be any thing in the nature of it that is apt to make such conclusions as these: “My God and Father in Jesus Christ hath graciously promised, in his infinite love and goodness to me, through him in whom he is well pleased, that he will be my God and guide for ever, that he will never forsake me, nor take his kindness from me to eternity. And he hath done this although that he saw and knew that I would deal foolishly and treacherously, that I would stand in need of all his goodness, patience, and mercy, to spare me and heal me, promising also to keep me from such a wicked departure from him as should for ever alienate my soul from him: therefore come on, let me continue in sin; let me do him all the dishonour and despite that I can. This is all the sense that I have of his infinite love, this is all the impression that it leaveth upon me, that I need not love him again, but study to be as vile and as abominable in his sight as can possibly be imagined.” Certainly there is not any “smoking flax,” or any “bruised reed,” there is not a soul in the world whom God in Christ hath once shined upon, or dropped the least dram of grace into his heart, but will look on such a conclusion as this as a blast of the bottomless pit, a detestable dart of Satan, which it is as proper for faith to quench as any other abomination whatever. Let, then, faith in reference unto these promises have its perfect work, not abiding in a naked contemplation of them, but mixing them with itself, and there will be undoubtedly found the improvement before mentioned for the carrying on of godliness and gospel obedience in the hearts of believers. But this I shall have occasion to speak to more afterward.

Hos. ii. 19, 20, is pertinent also to the same purpose: “I will betroth thee unto me for ever; yea, I will betroth thee unto me in righteousness, and in judgment, and in loving-kindness, and in mercies. I will even betroth thee unto me in faithfulness: and thou shalt know the Lord.” The words themselves as they tie in the text do directly confirm our assertion. The relation whereinto God here expresseth that he will and doth take his people is one of the most near and eminent which he affordeth to them, a conjugal relation, — he is and will be their husband; which is as high an expression of the covenant betwixt God and his saints as any that is or can be used. Of all covenants that are between sundry persons, that which is between man and wife is the strongest and most inviolable. So is this covenant expressed Isa. liv. 5, “Thy Maker is thine husband; the Lord of hosts is his name.” And this relation he affirmeth shall continue for ever, upon the account of those properties of his which are engaged in this his gracious undertaking to take them to himself therein. He doth it “in righteousness, and in judgment, and in loving-kindness, and in mercies, and in faithfulness.” So that if there be not something in the context or words adjoining that shall with a high hand turn us aside from the first, immediate, open, and full sense of these words, the case is undoubtedly concluded in them. This, then, we shall consider, and therefore must look a little back into the general design of the whole chapter, for the evasion of “qualifications” will not here serve; God betrothed persons, not qualifications.

There are two parts of the chapter:— 1. That from the beginning to verse 14 containeth a most fearful and dreadful commination and threatening of the judgments of the Lord against the whole church and commonwealth of the Jews, for their apostasy, idolatry, and rebellion against him. It is not an affliction or a trial, or some lesser desolation, that God here threateneth them withal, but utter destruction and rejection as to all church and political state. He will leave them neither substance nor ornament, state nor worship, describing the condition which came upon them at their rejection of the Lord Jesus Christ. Left they must be as in the day that God first looked on them, — poor, naked, in their blood, unpitied, formed neither into church-state nor commonwealth. “So will I make them,” saith the Lord. And this dispensation of God the prophet expresseth with great dread and terror to the end of verse 13.

2. The, second part of the chapter is taken up and spent, from verse 14 to the end, in heavenly and gracious promises of the conversion of the true Israelites, the seed according to the promise of God, of the renovation of the covenant with them, and blessing them with all spiritual blessings in Jesus Christ unto the end. And hereof there are these four parts:—

(1.) A heavenly promise of their conversion by the gospel; which he demonstrateth and setteth out by comparing the spiritual deliverance therein to the deliverance which they had by a high hand from Egypt, verses 14, 15.

(2.) The delivery of them so converted from idolatry, false worship, and all those ways whereby God was provoked to cast off their forefathers, attended by their obedience in close walking with God for ever, verses 16, 17.

(3.) The quietness and peace which they shall enjoy, being called and purged from their sins before mentioned; which the Lord expresseth by his making a covenant with the whole creation in their behalf, verse 18.

(4.) A discovery of the fountain of the mercies before mentioned, with those also which afterward are insisted on, to wit, the everlasting covenant of grace, through which God will with all faithfulness and mercy take them to himself, verses 19, 20, to the end.

Before we farther open these particulars, some objections must be removed that are laid to prevent the inference intended from these words, chap. xi. sect. 8, p. 229. It is objected, —

1. “The promise of the betrothing here specified is made unto the entire body and nation of the Jews, as well unbelievers as believers, as appeareth by the carriage of the chapter throughout.”

Ans. The “carriage of the chapter throughout” is a weak proof of this assertion, and no doubt fixed on for want of particular instances to give any light unto it. Neither doth the “carriage of the chapter throughout” intimate any such thing in the least, but expressly manifesteth the contrary. It is universal desolation and utter rejection that is assigned as the portion of unbelievers as such all along this chapter. This promise is made to them whom “God allureth into the wilderness, and there speaketh comfortably to them;” which, what it doth import, shall be afterward considered. Yea, and which is more, the words of verse 23, which run on in the same tenor with the promises particularly insisted on, and beyond all exception are spoken to and of the same persons, are applied by the apostle Paul, not to the whole nation of the Jews, idolaters and unbelievers, but to them that were brought in unto the Lord Christ, and obtained the righteousness of faith, when the rest were hardened, Rom. ix. 26. From verse 24 to verse 29, the apostle, by sundry instances from the scriptures of the Old Testament, manifesteth that it was a remnant of Israel “according to the election of grace” to whom the promise was made: “To us, whom God hath called, not to the Jews only, but also to the Gentiles; for so,” saith he, “it is in Osee” (instancing in the passage we insist on), “I will call them my people which were not my people; and her beloved which was not beloved. And it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people, there shall they be called the children of the living God;” — which he farther confirmeth by a testimony out of Isa. x. 22, 23, manifesting that it is but “a remnant” that is intended. Wherefore it is objected, —

2. “That the promise is conditional, and the performance of it and of the mercies mentioned in it suspended upon the repentance of that people, especially of their idolatry, to the true and pure worship of God, as appeareth, verses 14, 16, 17; which plainly showeth that it was made as well, nay, rather to those that were wicked and idolatrous amongst this people than unto others, as being held forth unto them chiefly for this end, to woo them away from their idols unto God.”

Ans. I hope the people of God will mere steadfastly abide by their interest in the sweetness, usefulness, and consolation of this promise, than to throw it away upon such slight and atheological flourishes; for, —

1. Is there any tittle, iota, or word, in the whole text, to intimate that this promise is conditional, and dependeth on the people’s forsaking their idolatry? The 14th, 16th, and 17th verses are urged for proof thereof. God, indeed, in these verses doth graciously promise that, from the riches of the same grace whence he freely saith that “he will betroth them to himself,” he will convert them, and turn them away from their idolatry and all their sins; but that that should be required of them as a condition whereon God will enter into covenant with them, there is nothing in the whole context, from verse 14 and downwards, that intimateth it in the least or will endure to he wrested to any such sense, it holding out several distinct acts of the same free grace of his unto his people.

2. That this is a promise of entering into covenant with them cannot be denied. Now, that God should require their repentance as an antecedaneous, previous qualification to his receiving them into covenant, and yet in the covenant undertake to give them that repentance, as he doth in promising them to take away their hearts of stone and give them new hearts of flesh, is a direct contradiction, fit only for a part of that divinity which is in the whole an express contradiction to the word and mind of God.

3. Neither can it be supposed as a conditional promise, held out to them as a motive to work them from their idolatry, when, antecedently thereunto, God hath expressly promised to do that for them (verses 16, 17) with as high a hand and efficacy of grace as can be well expressed.

Wherefore, these being exceptions expressly against the scope of the whole, it is objected, —

3. “That it cannot be proved that this promise properly or directly intendeth the collation of spiritual or heavenly good things unto them, so as of temporal; yea, the situation of it betwixt temporal promises immediately both behind and before it persuadeth the contrary. Read the context from verse 8 to the end of the chapter.”

Ans. The other forts being demolished, this last is very faintly defended, — “It cannot be proved that it doth so properly or directly.” But if it doth intend spirituals properly and directly, though not so properly or directly, the case is clear. And that it doth properly intend spirituals, and but secondarily and indirectly temporals, as to sundry limitations, is most evident; for, —

1. The very conjugal expression of the love of God here used manifesteth it beyond all contradiction to be a promise of the covenant: “I will betroth thee unto me;” — “I will take thee unto me in wedlock covenant.” What! in temporal mercies? is that the tenor of the covenant of God? God forbid!

2. The foundations of these mercies, and the principles from whence they flow, are “loving-kindness,” and “mercies,” and “faithfulness” in God, which are fixed upon them and engaged unto them whom he thus taketh into covenant; and surely they are spiritual mercies.

3. The mercies mentioned are such as never had a literal accomplishment to the Jews in temporals, nor can have; and when things promised exceed all accomplishment as to the outward and temporal part, it is the spiritual that is principally and mainly intended. And such are these, verse 18, “I will break the bow, and the sword, and the battle out of the earth, and make them to lie down safely.” How, I pray, was this fulfilled towards them, whilst they lived under the power of the Persian, Grecian, and Roman empires, to their utter desolation? And verse 23, he telleth them that he will “sow them unto himself in the earth, and have mercy upon them;” which, as I said before, Paul himself interpreteth and applieth to the special mercies of faith and justification in the blood of Christ. So that both the verses going before and those that follow after, to the consideration whereof we are sent, contain directly and properly spiritual mercies, though expressed in words and terms of things of a temporal importance.

Thus, notwithstanding any exception to the contrary, the context is clear, as it was at first proposed. Let us, then, in the next place, consider the intendment of God in this promise, with that influence of demonstration which it hath upon the truth we are in the consideration of, and then free the words from that corrupting gloss which is endeavoured to be put upon them.

In the first [place] I shall consider, — 1. The persons to whom this 277promise is made; 2. The nature of the promise itself; 3. The great undertaking and engagement of the properties of God for the accomplishment of his promise.

1. The persons here intimated are such as are under the power and enjoyment of the grace and kindness mentioned in verses 14–18. Now, because a right understanding of the grace of those promises addeth much to the apprehension of the kindness of these particulars insisted on, the opening of those words may be thought necessary.

Verse 14, they are those whom God “allureth into the wilderness,” and “speaketh comfortably unto them;” he allureth and persuadeth them. There is an allusion in the words to the great original promise of the conversion of the Gentiles, and the way whereby it shall be done. Gen. ix. 27, God persuades Japheth to dwell in the tents of Shem. Their alluring is by the powerful and sweet persuasion of the gospel; which here is so termed to begin the allegory of betrothing and marriage, which is afterward pursued. It is God’s beginning to woo the soul by his ambassadors. God persuadeth them into the wilderness, — persuadeth them, but yet with mighty power, as he carried them of old out of Egypt; for thereunto he evidently alludeth, as in the next verse is more fully expressed. Now, the wilderness condition whereinto they are allured or persuaded by the gospel compriseth two things:— (1.) Separation; (2.) Entanglement.

(1.) Separation. As the Israelites in the wilderness were separated from the residue of the world and the pleasures thereof, “the people dwelling alone, being not reckoned among the nations,” having nothing to do with them, so God separateth them to the love of the gospel from their carnal contentments, and all the satisfactions which before they received in their lusts, until they say to them, “Get you hence; what have we to do with you any more?” They are separated from the practice of them, and made willing to bid them everlastingly farewell. They see their Egyptian lusts lie slain or dead, or at least dying, by the cross of Christ, and desire to see them no more.

(2.) Entanglement, as the Israelites were in the wilderness. They knew not what to do, nor which way to take one step, but only as God went before them, as he took them by the hand, and taught them to go. God bringeth them into a lost condition; they know not what to do, nor which way to take, nor what course to pitch upon. And yet in this wilderness state, God doth commonly stir up such gracious dispositions of soul in them as himself is exceedingly delighted withal: hence he doth peculiarly call this time “a time of love,” which he remembereth with much delight. All the time of the saint’s walking with him, he taketh not greater delight in a soul, when it cometh to its highest peace and fullest assurance, than when it is seeking after him in its wilderness entanglement. So he expresseth it, Jer. ii. 2, “Thus saith the Lord; I remember thee, the kindness of thy youth, the love of thine espousals, when thou wentest after me in the wilderness, in a land that was not sown” And what he here affirmeth holds proportion therewithal. The time of their being in the wilderness was the time of their espousals, and so it is here the time of the Lord’s betrothing the soul to himself, the wooing words whereby he doth it being intimated in the next verse; for, —

[1.] He “speaketh comfortably to them,” speaketh to their hearts good words, that may satisfy their spirits and give them rest and deliverance out of that condition. What it is that God speaketh, when he speaketh comfortably to the very hearts of poor souls, he telleth you, Isa. xl. 1, 2, “Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God. Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned.” It is the pardon of iniquity that inwrappeth all the consolation that a poor wilderness soul, separated and entangled, is capable of or doth desire. And this is the first description of the persons to whom this promise is given: They are such as God hath humbled and pardoned, such as he hath converted and justified, whom he hath allured into the wilderness, and there spoken comfortably to them.

[2.] Verse 15, the Lord promiseth to this called and justified people plenty of spiritual, gospel mercies, which he shadoweth out with typical expressions of temporal enjoyments, and that with allusion to their deliverance of old from Egypt, in three particulars:—

1st. In general, he will give them “vineyards from thence” (that is, from the wilderness), as he did to them in Canaan, when he brought them out of the wilderness. This God often mindeth them of, that he gave them “vineyards which they planted not,” Deut. vi. 11; and he here setteth out the plenty of gospel grace, which they never laboured for, which he had provided for them, under that notion. He giveth them of the wine of the gospel, his Holy Spirit.

2dly. In particular, he compares his dealings with them to his dealings in the valley of Achor, a most pleasant and fruitful valley that was near Jericho, being the first the Israelites entered into when they came out of the wilderness, which is mentioned as a fruitful place, Isa. lxv. 10. And therefore this is said to be to them “a door of hope,” or an entrance into that which they hoped for, it being the first fat, fruitful, and fertile place that the Israelites came into in the land of Canaan, and so an entrance into the good land which they hoped for, answering their expectation to the uttermost. In the promise of the abundance of spiritual mercies and grace which God hath prepared for his, he recalleth into their minds the consideration of the refreshment which the Israelites, after so long an abode in the “waste and howling wilderness,” had and took in the fruitful, plenteous “valley of Achor.” Such is the spiritual provision that God hath made for the entertainment of poor souls whom he hath allured into the wilderness, and there spoken comfortably to them. Being called and pardoned, he leadeth them to sweet and pleasant pastures, treasures of grace and mercy, which he hath laid up for them in Jesus Christ. He giveth them of the first-fruits of heaven, which is a door of hope unto the full possession, Rom. viii. 23.

3dly. [He alludes] to the songs and rejoicings which the church had when they sung one to another upon the destruction of the Egyptians, at their delivery out of the bondage of Egypt. As then they sung for joy, Exod. xv. 1–21, upon the sense of that great and wonderful deliverance which God had wrought for them, so shall their hearts be affected with gospel mercies, pardoning, healing, purging, and comforting grace, which in Jesus Christ he will give in unto them.

These, then, are the three things which are promised to them that come out of the wilderness:— (1.) Gospel refreshment, in pouring out of the Spirit upon them; (2.) The first-fruits of heaven, a door of hope; (3.) Spiritual joy, in the destruction and conquest of sin.

This, then, is the sum of this second part of that description which we have of those persons to whom the promise under consideration is given: They are such as, being called and pardoned, are admitted to that portion in the wonderful marvellous provision of gospel mercies and grace which in Jesus Christ he hath provided for them, with that joy and consolation which thereon doth ensue.

In the following verses you have a fuller description of these persons, upon a twofold account:— First, By their delivery from idolatry and false worship, verses 16, 17, which is particularly and peculiarly insisted on, because that eminently was the sin for which those mentioned in the beginning of the chapter were utterly rejected. God will preserve these, as from the sin of idolatry, so from any other that should procure their utter rejection and desolation, as that of idolatry had formerly done in respect of the only carnal Jews. Secondly, By their protection against their enemies, verse 18. And these are the persons to whom this promise is made, — converted, justified, sanctified, and purified persons.

2. We may take a little view of the nature of the promise itself: “I will,” saith the Lord, “betroth thee unto me for ever.” There is in this promise a twofold opposition to that rejection that God had before denounced unto the carnal and rebellious Jews:—

(1.) In the nature of the thing itself, unto the divorce that God gave them: Verse 2, “She is not my wife; neither am I her husband.” But to these saith God, “I will betroth them unto myself;” — “They shall become a wife to me, and I will be a husband unto them.” And this also manifesteth that they are not the same persons to whom that threatening was given that are principally intended in this promise; for if God did only take them again whom he had once put away, there would have been no need of any betrothing of them anew. New “sponsalia” are not required for such an action.

(2.) In the continuance of the rejection of the first, and the establishment of the reception of the latter, at least in respect of his abiding with these and those; with those for a season, but unto these he saith, “I will betroth them unto me for ever.” God’s betrothing of believers is his actual taking them into a marriage covenant with himself, to deal with them in the tenderness, faithfulness, and protection of a husband. So is he often pleased to call himself in reference to his church. I shall not go forth to the consideration of this relation that God is pleased to take the souls of saints into with himself. The eminent and precious usefulness and consolation that floweth from it is ready to draw me out thereunto, but I must attend to that which I principally aim at, — namely, to evince that God hath undertaken that he and believers will and shall abide in this relation to the end, that he will for ever be a husband to them, and that in opposition to his dealing with the carnal church of the Jews, to whom he was betrothed as to ordinances, but rejected them, and said he was not their husband as to peculiar grace. To whom God continueth to be a husband, to them he continueth the loving-kindness, good-will, and protection of a husband, — the most intense, useful, fruitful, that can be imagined. This, then, will he do to believers, and that for ever.

3. Now, because sundry objections may be levied against the accomplishment of this engagement of God, upon the account of our instability and backsliding, the Lord addeth the manner of his entering into this engagement with us, obviating and preventing, or removing, all such objections whatever; which is the third thing proposed to consideration, — namely, the engagement of the properties of God for the accomplishment of this promise.

Five properties doth the Lord here mention, to assure us of his constancy in this undertaking of his grace, and of the steadfastness of the covenant he hath taken his people into; and they are, “righteousness, judgment, loving-kindness, mercies,” and “faithfulness;” whose efficacy, also, in reference unto their abiding with him whom he doth betroth to himself, he mentioneth in the close of verse 20, “Thou,” saith he, “shalt know the Lord.” I shall not insist on the particular importance of the several expressions whereby the Lord hath set forth himself and his goodness here unto us. It is plain that they are all mentioned to the same end and purpose, — namely, to give assurance unto us of the unchangeableness of this work of his grace, and to prevent the objections which the fears of our unbelieving hearts, from the consideration of our weaknesses, ways, and walkings, temptations, trials, and troubles, would raise upon it. The Lord, when he betroths us to himself, sees and knows what we are, what we will be, and how we will provoke the eyes of his 281glory. He sees that if we should be left unto ourselves, we would utterly cast off all knowledge of him and obedience unto him. “Wherefore,” saith he, “ ‘I will betroth thee unto me in righteousness and in judgment;’ allowing full measure for all thy weaknesses, that they shall not dissolve that union I intend.” As if a prince should go to take to him in marriage a poor deformed beggar, who being amazed with his kindness, and fearing much lest he should be mistaken, and account her otherwise than indeed she is, which when it is discovered will be her ruin, she plainly telleth him she is poor, deformed, and hath nothing in the world that may answer his expectation, and therefore she cannot but fear that when he knoweth her thoroughly indeed, he will utterly cast her off: but he thereupon replieth, “Fear no such thing; what I do, I do in righteousness and judgment, knowingly of thee and thy condition, and so as that. I will abide by it.” Perhaps, as some think, by this “betrothing us in righteousness,” the Lord may intimate his bestowing upon us righteousness, yea, his becoming in Jesus Christ our righteousness, to supply that utter want which is in us of that which is acceptable unto him, Isa. xlv. 24. Now, because we are not only unmeet to be at first accepted into any such terms of alliance with the Lord, but also shall certainly in the carrying of it on behave ourselves foolishly and frowardly, unanswerable to his loving-kindness, so that he may justly cast us off for ever, he telleth us farther that he betroths us to himself “in loving-kindness and in mercies,” knowing that in entering into this alliance with us he maketh work for his tenderest bowels of compassion, his pity and pardoning mercy. In his continuance in this relation, whatever his kindness, patience, and pardoning mercy can be extended unto, that he will accomplish and bring about. But will not the Lord, when he pardons once and again, at length be wearied by our innumerable provocations, so as to cast us off for ever? “No,” saith he; “this will I do in faithfulness.” He doubleth the expression of his grace, and addeth a property of his nature that will carry him out to abide by his first love to the utmost: “I will,” saith he, “even betroth thee unto myself in faithfulness” His firmness, constancy, and truth, in all his ways and promises, will he use in this work of his grace, Deut. xxxii. 4. But perhaps, notwithstanding all this, the heart is not yet quiet, but it feareth itself and its own treachery, lest it should utterly fall off from this gracious husband; wherefore, in the close of all, God undertaketh for them also that no scruple may remain why our souls should not be satisfied with the sincere milk that floweth from this breast of consolation. “Thou shalt,” saith he, “know the Lord.” This, indeed, is required, that under the accomplishment of this gracious promise you know the Lord, — that is, believe and trust, and obey the Lord; and saith he, “Thou shalt do it. I will by my grace keep alive in thy heart (as a fruit of that love wherewith I have betrothed thee to myself) that knowledge, faith, and obedience, which I require of thee.”

This, then, is some part of that which in this promise the Lord holdeth out unto us and assureth us of. Notwithstanding his rejection of the carnal Jews, yet for his elect, both the Jews and Gentiles, he will so take them into a marriage covenant with himself that he will continue for ever a husband unto them, undertaking also that they shall continue in faith and obedience, knowing him all their days. And of all this he effectually assureth them upon the account of his righteousness, judgment, loving-kindness, mercy, and faithfulness.

I cannot but add, that if there were no other place of Scripture in the whole book of God to confirm the truth we have in hand but only this, I should not doubt (the Lord assisting) to close with it upon the signal testimony given unto it thereby, notwithstanding all the specious oppositions that are made thereunto.

For the close, I shall a little consider that lean and hungry exposition of these words which is given in the place before mentioned, chap. xi. sect. 8, p. 229, “I will betroth them unto me in righteousness, and in judgment, and in loving-kindness, and mercy.” So the words are expressed, in a different character, as the very words of the promise in the text:— “Thee,” that is, the church, is changed into “Them,” — that is, the Jews and their children or carnal seed, as a little before was expressed; and then that emphatical expression, “for ever,” is quite thrust out of the text, as a stubborn word, not to be dealt withal upon any fair terms. Let us see, then, how that which remaineth is treated and turned off. “ ‘I will betroth thee;’ that is, ‘I will engage and attempt to insure both them and their affections to me, by all variety of ways and means that are proper and likely to bring such a thing to pass.’ ” But who knoweth not that this is wooing, and not betrothing? We need not go far to find out men learned in the law to inform us that to try and attempt to get and assure the affections of any one is not a betrothment. This, then, is the first part of this exposition: “ ‘I will betroth;’ that is, ‘I will woo and essay, attempt and endeavour, to get their affections;’ ” which, besides the forementioned absurdity, is attended with another sore oversight, to wit, that God promiseth to do this very thing in the last words of verse 20, which is affirmed that he doth but attempt to do.

To proceed: He saith, “I will do this, by showing myself just and righteous unto them, in keeping my promise concerning their deliverance out of captivity at the end of seventy years.” So, then, in this new paraphrase, “I will betroth thee” (that is, the election of Jews and Gentiles) “to myself for ever in righteousness,” is, “I will essay to get their affections by showing myself righteous in the promise of bringing the Jews out of captivity.” That this promise is not made to the body of the Jews returning out of captivity was before demonstrated. The righteousness here mentioned is that which God will and doth exercise in this very act of betrothing, and not any other act of it, which he will make use of to that purpose. God engageth to betroth them to himself in righteousness, using and exercising his righteousness in that very set of his love and grace to them; and this is now given in an alluring them to love him by appearing righteous in bringing them out of captivity!

The like interpretation is given of the other expressions following: “ ‘Judgment,’ — it is,” saith he, “by punishing and judging their enemies, and destroying them that led them into captivity, and held them in ‘bondage and subjection; and ‘loving-kindness’ is his giving them corn, wine, oil, peace, and plenty; and ‘mercy,’ in pardoning of daily sins and infirmities; and ‘faithfulness’ is” he knoweth not what. This is made the sum of all: “God, by doing them good with outward mercies, and pardoning some sins and infirmities, will morally try to get their affections to himself.” “Virgula Pictoris!” 1. It is not an expression of God’s attempting to get their love, but of the establishing and confirming of his own. 2. That God should morally try and essay to do and effect or bring about any thing, which yet he doth not, will not, or cannot, compass and effect, is not to be ascribed to him without casting the greatest reproach of impotency, ignorance, changeableness, upon him imaginable. 3. God promising to betroth us to himself, fixing his love on us that we shall know him, so fixing our hearts on him; to say that this holdeth out only the use of some outward means unto us, enervateth the whole covenant of his grace wrapped up in these expressions. So that, all things considered, it is not a little strange to me that any sober, learned man should ever be tempted so to wrest and corrupt, by wrested and forced glosses, the plain words of Scripture, wherein, whatever is pretended, he cannot have the least countenance of any expositor of note that went before him. Although we are not to be pressed with the name of Tarnovius, a Lutheran, a professed adversary in this cause, yet let his exposition of that place under consideration be consulted with, and it will plainly appear that it abideth not in any compliance with that which is here by our author imposed on us.

The promises we have under consideration looking immediately and directly only to one part of that doctrine whose defence we have undertaken, — to wit, the constancy and unchangeableness of the grace of justification, or God’s abiding with his saints, as to his free acceptance of them and love unto them, unto the end, — I shall not insist on many more particulars.

John x. 27–29 closeth this discourse. “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: and I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.”

In the verse foregoing, our Saviour renders a reason why the Pharisees, notwithstanding all his preaching to them and the miracles he wrought among them, yet believed not, when sundry others, to whom the same dispensation of outward means was afforded, did hear his voice and did yield obedience thereunto; and this he telleth us was because they were not of his sheep, such as were given him of his Father, and for whom, as the good Shepherd, he laid down his life, verses 14, 15. Upon the close of this discourse, he describeth the present condition of his sheep, and their preservation in that condition, from the power of himself and his Father engaged thereunto. He layeth their abiding with him as his sheep upon the omnipotence of God; which, upon account of the constancy of his love towards them, he will exercise and exert as need shall be in their behalf. There are many emphatical expressions both of their continuance in the obedience of faith, and of his undertaking for their preservation therein. The latter I at present only intend. Saith he, 1. “I know them;” 2. “I give them eternal life;” 3. “They shall never perish;” 4. “No man shall pluck them out of my hand;” 5. “My Father is omnipotent, and hath a sovereignty over all, and he taketh care of them, and none shall take them out of his hand.” It is not easy to cast these words into any other form of arguing than that wherein they lie, without losing much of that convincing evidence that is in them. This you may take for the sum of their influence into the truth in hand: Those whom Christ so owneth as to take upon him to give them eternal life, and by his power and the power of his Father to preserve them thereunto, — which power shall not, nor possibly can be, prevailed against, so that the end aimed at to be accomplished therein should not be brought about, — those shall certainly be kept for ever in the favour and love of God, they shall never be turned from him. Such is the case of all believers; for they are all the sheep of Christ, they all hear his voice and follow him.

Some few things, to wrest this gracious assurance given believers of the everlasting good-will of God and Christ unto them, are attempted by Mr Goodwin, chap. x. sect. 37, p. 203.

1. He granteth that there is an engagement of the “mighty power of God for the safeguarding of the saints, as such or remaining such, against all adverse powers whatever, but nowhere for the compelling or necessitating of them to persevere and continue such is there any thing in the Scripture.”

Ans. The sum is, “If they will continue saints, God will take care that, notwithstanding all opposition, they shall be saints still.” Very well, if they will be so, they shall be so; but “that they shall continue to be so, that is not promised.” The terms of “compelling or necessitating” are cast in merely to throw dirt upon the truth, lest, the beauty shining forth too brightly, there might have been danger that the very exceptor himself could not have borne it. We say not that God by his power compelleth men to persevere; that is, maketh them do it whether they will or no. Perseverance being an habitual grace in their wills, it is a gross contradiction once to imagine that men should be compelled thereunto. But this we say, that, by the almighty power of his Spirit and grace, he confirmeth his saints in a voluntary abiding with him all their days. Having made them a willing people in the day of the power of Christ towards them, he preserveth them unto the end. Neither are they wrapped up by the power of God into such a necessity of perseverance as should obstruct the liberty of their obedience, the necessity that regardeth them in that condition respecting only the issue and end of things, and not their manner of support in their abiding with God. And it is not easy to conjecture why our author should so studiously avoid the grant, of a promise of final perseverance in these words, who, in his next observation upon them, affirmeth that “they respect the state of the saints in heaven, and not at all those that are on earth;” I m