The

CAUSE OF GOD AND TRUTH.

Part 2 Chapter 6

Section 5óJohn 6:39, 40.

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.


The persons here spoken of, are such as were given by the Father to Christ in eternal election, and in the everlasting covenant of grace, and who in time are enabled to believe on him for life and salvation; concerning whom the will of God is, that Christ should lose none of them, nor anything that belongs to them, neither their souls nor their bodies, no, not the least dust, but that he should raise it up again,and that these should also have everlasting life; which is the will of the Father of Christ, as well as of their Father, and therefore will be strictly regarded. Besides, this is the will of God, and not man, which cannot be resisted, so as to be frustrated; and is eternal, and therefore cannot be made void by any temporal act; and consequently, these words furnish out a considerable argument in proof of the saints' final perseverance. To which is excepted,

1st. That "they treat not of the loss of believers by a defection from the faith, but of their perdition by death; wherefore Christ promises, that he would raise them from death to a salutary life."[1] Be it so, that these words speak not of the saints' preservation from an apostasy from the faith, but of their resurrection at the last day; yet, since their resurrection will be the resurrection of life, or will be unto eternal life, they must persevere to the end, and die in the Lord, in order to enjoy such a resurrection. If, therefore, it is the will of God, that all those whom he has given to Christ, and who see the Son, and believe on him, should be raised unto eternal life, their perseverance in grace is out of question; and after the resurrection, they will be out of any danger of apostasy; for being raised, they will be caught up with living saints to meet the Lord, and shall be for ever with him.

2ndly It is said,[2] that "promises and declarations of the like nature with these which engage that God will give eternal life to the believer, are only to be understood of such a faith as doth endure to the end, and belong only to such as continue in the faith: and then it is demonstratively evident, that perseverance is included in them; and therefore cannot be proved from them, without begging the question." To which I reply, that all true faith does endure to the end; it is an incorruptible seed of grace; part of that living water,which springs up into everlasting life; is the gift of God;whose gifts and calling are without repentance; of the operation of God, which he begins and performs with power; Christ is the author and finisher of it, and his powerful and prevalent intercession secures it from ever failing: hence those who have it, shall continue in it; and therefore their perseverance is certain. And if perseverance is insured to true faith, and is included in these promises of eternal life to true believers, to them only do such promises belong; for such who fall away were never true believers: then it is demonstratively evident, that it is to be proved from them, and that without begging the question. But to this it is objected,

1. That such who fall away,[3] "are expressly styled true believers, as others are." But the places where they are so expressly styled cannot be named; the instances alleged from Matthew 18:6, 15; Luke 8:13; Romans 14:14, 15, 20; 1 Corinthians 8:11; John 4:39, 42; Acts 8:10, and Acts 21:20, are insufficient proofs of it. Some of the persons instanced in, though they may be allowed to be true believers; yet it does not appear, from what is said of them, that they totally and finally fell away; such as the little ones that believed in Christ (Matthew 18:6), and the weak brother in Romans 14, and 1 Corinthians 8. Since what is said of their being offended and perishing, is not to be understood of eternal destruction, but of their being slighted and rejected, and their minds grieved, consciences wounded, and their spiritual peace broken in upon and interrupted; as has been shown in the former part of this work:[4] nor does it appear that the Samaritans, who believed in Christ, all fell off from him to Simon Magus; since those who truly believed might be dead, and safe in heaven, before his infatuation began and spread in Samaria: besides, it is not very evident that they were true believers in Christ; they might give their assent to him, as the Messiah and Savior of the world, without having true saving faith in him for themselves: nor does it appear that many of those myriads of Jews that believed, afterwards fell away. The epistle to the Hebrews is no proof of it. And if any of them did, it will not be easily proved that they were true believers. And it is certain that those represented by the stony ground, in Luke 8:13, who believed for a while, and then fell away, had not the true grace of God; since it is expressly said of them, that they had no root in them.

2. It is observed,[5] "that this faith, that is, of such who fall away, as to its kind, is true; is evident from this consideration, that Christ and his apostles require such persons not to change it, but only to continue in it; not to believe with a faith true and real as to kind, but to be steadfast in the faith they had already. But the passages produced do not prove that Christ and his apostles spoke to such persons; not the passage in John 8:31, where our Lord says to the Jews that believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then ye are my disciples indeed;that is, you will appear to be really so, and will be made free by the truth; and consequently, it will be evident, that you are sons who shall abide in the house for ever, and never be cast out: nor the passage in Acts 14:22, where Paul and Barnabas exhort the believers, to continue in the faith; in which they do not give the least intimation, or supposition, that any of them should fall away, but,on the contrary, that through much tribulation,they should enter into the kingdom of God;and in order to their preservation to it, commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed.

3. It is said,[6] that "this answer thwarts those numerous texts of scripture, which suspend the benefits promised to believers on their continuance in the faith." To which I answer, that the numerous scriptures referred to, which are Colossians 1:23; 1 Timothy 2:15; Hebrews 3:6, 14; 1 John 2:25; Romans 11:22, do not represent continuance in the faith as a precarious and uncertain thing; or suppose, that true believers may fall away finally and totally; nor do they suspend the benefits promised to believers, on the continuance of their faith, as a condition of their enjoying them; but represent continuance in the faith, as the evidence of their partaking of some of them already, and as a pledge and assurance of their enjoying the rest here after.

4. It is further objected,[7] that if this be the case, "all exhortations to steadfastness in the faith are enervated; and all declarations that we must be faithful to death, and endure to the end, are needless." To which I reply, that exhortations of this kind are not hereby enervated, nor are such declarations needless; since these may be, and are, made use of by the Spirit of God, for the increase of faith, and steadfastness in it; and so be the means of the saint's final perseverance. And whereas it is said,[8] that the only distinction between a living and dead faith is, that the one is attended with, the other is without good works; and that the only difference between a temporary and saving faith, is this, that the one continues, and the other does not: it may be replied, that though good works are an evidence of a living faith, yet the life of faith does not consist in works, but in special acts of it on its proper object, Christ; and a temporary faith is only an assent to the truth of some propositions concerning Christ; but is not as saving faith, a going out unto him, depending on him, and believing in him, for the salvation of the soul.


ENDNOTES:

[1] Remonstr. Coll. Hag. art 5:p. 91.

[2] Whitby, p. 441,442; ed. 2.480.

[3] Ibid, p. 442; ed. 2.431.

[4] Part I.

[5] Whitby, p. 443; ed. 2.431.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Ibid.


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