Part 1

Section 8—Psalm 125:3.

For the rod of the wicked shall not rest upon the lot of the righteous, lest the righteous put forth their hands unto iniquity.

These words are made use of[1] to prove, that "saints, or true believers, or men once truly good, may cease to be so: for it is said, that they seem plainly to insinuate, that great and long impressions might have this effect upon them; trod surely that which God is thus careful to prevent, might possibly befall the righteous: there being no need of care to prevent that which he hath absolutely engaged to preserve them from." Strange! seeing,

I. The doctrine of the saints final perseverance is so plainly intimated in the two preceding verses of this psalm: They that trust in the Lord shall be as mount Zion, which cannot be removed, but abideth for ever. As the mountains are round about Jerusalem, so the Lord is round about his people, from henceforth even for ever. If they that trust in the Lord, who are saints, true believers, men truly good, are as mount Zion; then they cannot be removed neither from the heart of God, nor out of the hands of Christ; but will abide there for ever, and consequently cannot cease to be what they are. If, as the mountains are round about Jerusalem, so the Lord is round about the same persons before described, who are his people, and that even for ever; how is it possible that they should ever perish?

II. These words are strictly connected with the former, and express a certain effect that should surely follow from the safe state and happy situation of such who trust in the Lord, yk for, or because it is so and so with them; therefore the rod of the wicked,the tyrannical government, oppressions, and persecutions of wicked men, to which the saints are often subject, shall not rest,always continue and abide, upon the lot,not the back, as Dr. Whitby cites the words, of the righteous;meaning either their persons or their goods; lest the righteous,who are made so by the righteousness of Christ, put forth their hands unto iniquity;that is, lest through the oppressions of wicked men, the instigation of Satan, and their own hearts, they should be moved to that which would dishonor God, bring a reproach on his ways, and wound their own souls; all which they may do, and yet not cease to be saints, true believers, truly good men; as the instances of David, Peter, and others, fully make appear. The righteous may put forth their hands unto iniquity, and fall into great sins, and yet not totally fall away, or so fall as to be lost and perish: total apostasy is not intended by putting forth their hands unto iniquity.

III. It is stranger still, that the care of God to prevent the righteous putting forth their hands unto iniquity, should be improved into an argument against their perseverance, and in favor of their apostasy. It will be readily allowed, that what God is thus careful to prevent, even suppose a total apostasy was meant, might possibly befall the righteous, should they be left to themselves, destitute of the powerful protection of God; nor would there be a possibility of its being otherwise; but since the care and power of God are so greatly employed about their preservation, it is impossible that it should befall them.

IV. It is an egregious mistake to say, that "there is no need of care to prevent that which he (God) absolutely hath engaged to preserve them from;" since God's engagement to preserve his people, is the true reason of the employment of his care about them; which is necessary to prevent their doing the iniquity, which otherwise would be done by them: God having absolutely resolved, determined, and engaged, that those that trust in him should not be removed, but abide for ever; therefore he will be round about them for ever, and take care of them, that nothing hurt or destroy them; he will keep them by his power through faith unto salvation.


[1] Whitby, p. 436; ed. 2. 425.

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