CAUSE OF GOD AND TRUTH.
Part 2 Chapter 6
I now proceed to consider Dr. Whitby's discourse on the perseverance of the saints. His first chapter is taken up in premising that which is granted on both sides, for the better stating of the question between us. For his own side he grants, that they, who are preserved to salvation, are so preserved by tie power of God through faith; that God has engaged his faithfulness, that all, who do not wickedly depart from him, shall never be forced from him by the power of any adversaries; and that God has promised perseverance in the ways of righteousness to the end, to those who constantly and conscientiously use the means prescribed by him for that end: but utterly denies, that God has promised to keep them by his power from making shipwreck of faith, and from falling into those sins he cautions them to avoid; or to interpose his power unfrustrably to engage all true believers to use the means prescribed by him. He gees on to observe, that the assertors of the doctrine of the saints' final perseverance hold, that the foundation of it is the absolute election of persons to salvation, and to the means which shall unfrustrably conclude in it; that they grant that it is not from the strength, steadiness, and immutability of the new nature, renewed mind, will, and affections, but purely from the promise of God, that true believers cannot fall away; and that though they cannot fall totally and finally, yet may fall into horrid sins; such as may at present unfit them for heaven, require a renewal of grace, and by the guilt of which they stand condemned till they are renewed by faith and repentance. I own, that election is a foundation of the saints' final perseverance, but it is not the only thing on which it is founded; nor does this show the inconsistency of two of our arguments for perseverance, taken from the prayers of the saints, and the intercession of Christ, as is intimated; since the saints may pray, as Christ did (John 17:1, 5), for that which God has absolutely decreed, from all eternity, shall come to pass. And though we grant that it is from the promise, yet not purely from the promise of God, that true believers cannot fall away; for though we own that the new creature is imperfect, yet affirm that such is the nature, strength, and firmness of true grace, that it can never perish. Wherefore our arguments, taken from the nature of faith, conversion, and the new birth, sufficiently prove the doctrine we plead for. Moreover, though we allow that true believers may fall into gross sins, which may require a renewed exercise of faith and repentance, yet that they shall not deprive them either of meetness or right to heaven; nor do they ever stand condemned before God for them. The doctor's second chapter contains arguments from scripture against the doctrine of the saints' final perseverance, which have been considered in the former part of this work. His third and fourth chapters are an answer to those texts produced on our side in favor of the doctrine: the vindication of which texts is attempted, in the following Sections.