Part 1

Section 422 Corinthians 11:2, 3.

For I am jealous over you with a godly jealousy! For I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you a chaste virgin to Christ. But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety, so your minds should he corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.

The fears of the apostle, expressed in these words, and in Galatians 4:11, 1 Thessalonians 3:5, lest pious persons should miscarry, are thought to add farther strength to the argument against the saints' final perseverance;[1] "for, it is said, if the apostles, by the dictates of the Holy Spirit, had declared, that God had absolutely promised, that men once truly pious, should persevere to the end, how could they reasonably express their fears, lest it, should be otherwise?" To which I reply,

1. That the fears of the apostle about the persons referred to in these several passages, were not lest they should fall from the love and favor of God, nor from the grace which was implanted in them, and so miscarry of heaven and eternal happiness; but lest, through the subtlety of Satan, and his instruments, false teachers, their minds and judgments should be in any degree corrupted from the purity and simplicity of the Gospel of Christ, and they should any way give into erroneous doctrines, or comply with Judaizing practices, and so the labor of him and his fellow-ministers, in instructing and establishing them in Gospel truths, be so far in vain.

2. The fears of the apostle, lest these persons should fall in this sense, yea, even if they could be extended further, are no proofs of fact that these persons did fall away; but only, at most, declare his apprehensions of their danger. And it is certain, that the most eminent saints are in danger through the wiles of Satan, the cunning of false teachers, the persecutions of the world, and the corruption of their own hearts, of falling from their steadfastness in the faith; and it is owing to the mighty power and grace of God, that they are in any measure preserved. The apostle might express his fears on account of these things without any contradiction to or hesitation about God's absolute promise of the saints' final perseverance, and his faithfulness in the performance of it.

3. The jealousies and fears of the apostle about these persons, expressed with such a tender and affectionate concern for them, might be purposely directed and powerfully blessed to them by the Spirit, by whom he was assisted, as a means of their preservation from false principles and practices they were in danger of falling into, and thereby God's absolute promise of their final perseverance be accomplished. Nor does the apostle's fear, jealousy, caution, and watchfulness of himself, expressed in 1 Corinthians 9:27, lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be cast away imply, any possibility or danger, or supposed danger, of his eternal damnation; since the word ajdo>kimov,does not design a reprobate,[2] as that is opposed to an elect person; for the apostle knew in whom he had believed, and was persuaded that nothing could separate him from the love of God;but his concern was, lest he should do any thing that might bring a reproach on the Gospel, and his ministry be justly blamed, and brought under contempt, and so be rejected and disapproved of by men, and become useless.


[1] Whitby, p. 426, 427, 460, 461; ed. 2. 415, 440, 441.

[2] Vid. Whitby, p. 9, 10.

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