The

CAUSE OF GOD AND TRUTH.

Part 1

Section 552 Peter 2:20-22.

For if after that they have escaped the pollutions of the world, through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome; the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his vomit again; and the sow that was washed, to her wallowing in the mire.


This Scripture generally[1] stands among the proofs of the apostasy of real saints; and it is said,[2] that the possibility of the final and total falling away of true believers, may be strongly argued from these words.

1. It will be allowed that the persons here spoken of, finally and totally fell away; since they are not only said to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them,but to be again entangled in the pollutions of the world, and overcome;yea, to turn like the dog to his vomit, and the sow to her wallowing in the mire:so that the latter end with them is worse than the beginning.Yet,

2. Nothing is said of them which discovers them to have been true believers. They might have externally escaped the pollutions of the world,reformed in their outward lives and conversations, through the national knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ;professed the way of righteousness,and for a while, visibly walked in it, and submitted to the holy commandments and ordinances of Christ, and yet not have been partakers of the grace of God; nor is it evident that the apostle here speaks of such who had obtained like precious faith with them; but of some third persons distinct from them. Perhaps the highest character given them is in verse 18, which is,that they were such who were clean,ontwv,truly and really, as Dr. Whitby renders the word, escaped from them who live ejn tla>nh in error;[3] which, he observes, is to be understood not of judgment, but of deceitful lusts. But let it be considered that there are different readings of this text; some copies, instead of o]ntwv read ojli>gwv within a little,or almost,so the Alexandrian MS. in the Polyglott Bible, and two books of Beza's; others ojli>gon; so the Complutensian edition, and the King of Spain's Bible; agreeably the Vulgate Latin renders it paululum, a very little,or a very little time.The Syriac version reads it lylq almb, in a .few words,or almost;and, according to the Ethiopic version, a few persons are designed. From all which, this sense of the words may be collected, that there were some few persons, who, in some few instances, had almost, or within a very little, or for a little time, escaped from such who lived in error, being carried away with divers and strange doctrines. But admitting that o]ntwv is the true reading, and that pla>nh signifies not error of judgment, but deceitful lusts; it is possible that men may truly and really escape, not only from idolaters and false tethers, and so have the form of sound doctrine, whilst they deny the power of it, but also reform and withdraw from openly profane and scandalous sinners, and yet not be true believers, as it appears these were not; since they openly turned to, and appeared to be what they really were; as the dog turns to his own vomit, and the sow to her wallowing in the mire.


ENDNOTES:

[1] Remonstr. in Coll. Hag. art. 5. p. 17; Act. Synod. circ. art. 5. p. 242, etc.; Limborch, p. 711.

[2] Whitby, p. 409; ed. 2. 398.

[3] Page 410; ed. 2. 399.


Gill Index