Part 2 Chapter 6

Section 13—Isaiah 59:21.

As for me, this is my covenant with them saith the Lord, My Spirit that is upon thee, and my words which I have put in thy mouth, shall not depart out of thy mouth, or out of the mouth of thy seed, nor out of the mouth of thy seed's seed, saith the Lord, from henceforth and for ever.

These words are to be understood of the church of Christ under the New Testament dispensation, and of all true believers, which are the seed of the church, and her seed's seed in successive ages; being born in her, nursed up at her side,and are her children in a spiritual sense; among whom the Spirit and the Word, two grand blessings of the covenant of grace, shall always remain, and never depart from them; and so contain a very considerable argument, not only of the continuance of the church of Christ in all ages, and of his Spirit and gospel in it, but of the final perseverance of particular saints. For, if the Spirit of the Lord shall not finally and totally depart from such, in whom he is as a spirit of regeneration, sanctification, faith, adoption, etc., though his grace in them is not always in exercise, and he may, for a time, withdraw his sensible presence and gracious influence, then the saints shall finally persevere, and cannot perish; for it is impossible they should ever perish with him in them, who is "the well of living water springing up unto eternal life:" the abiding seed in them, who is "greater than he that is in the world;" and will "perform the good work of grace begun in them, until the day of Christ." Moreover, if the gospel, though it may depart from a nation, as it did from the Jews, and has done for others, and from visible, particular congregated churches such as the seven churches of Asia, and out of the mouths of formal professors, who may drop, deny, and blaspheme it; shall never depart out of the mouths of such who have received it in the love of it, and in whose hearts it works effectually, then they shall finally persevere; since this "gospel is the power of God unto salvation" to them, and the "engrafted word able to save" them. But, in answer to this, it is urged,

1. That the words are a conditional promise,[1] being made with such who turn from transgression, (v.20), and on the account of their so doing; and no longer binding, than that is continued. To which may be replied, that there is not the least appearance of a condition in the words, or in the preceding verse referred to: it is not said, If they turn away from transgression then my spirit and my words shall not depart from them. Their turning away from transgression is mentioned not as the cause, or condition of God's covenant with them, and of these articles in it; but only as descriptive of the persons interested therein. Besides, as the words are cited by the apostle Paul in Romans 11:27,they contain an absolute promise of what the Redeemer would do for them when he came, and not what they should do themselves.

2. It is observed,[2] "that something external, and peculiar to the Israelites, is here promised." To which I reply; whatever may be said for the words of the Lord being in their mouths, as something external; it is certain that the Spirit of the Lord being upon,or in them (for l[, is put for b, as Kimchi explains the words) designs nothing external, nor the gifts of the Spirit, either ordinary, or extraordinary; but the internal operations of his grace, in which sense the phrase is used in Isaiah 44:3, 4. Moreover, though the Jews, under the Old Testament dispensation had many external things peculiar to themselves, in which they had the advantage of the Gentiles; yet, under the New Testament dispensation, there is no difference made between believing Jews, and believing Gentiles (see Gal. 3:28; Col. 3:11). Besides, these promises were not made to the Israelites or Jews, literally considered; but to the church of Christ, and true believers in him, figuratively signified by Zion and Jacob.

3. It is added,[3] "that these promises regard a particular time from which they commenced, from henceforth, and for ever;and particular persons, who are distinctly and emphatically, and by a climax, mentioned; from thy mouth, and the mouth of thy seed, and of thy seed's seed.Whereas the promise of perseverance, according to our notions of it, must belong equally to all the elect in all ages, before, as well as after, these promises were made." To which I answer, that the covenant here spoken of regards the new covenant, or the administration of that covenant of grace, under the gospel dispensation, which was to take place from the coming of the Redeemer (v. 20), the date intended, nor was there any need to include more; nor could more be included in these promises than the saints under the gospel dispensation. And the reason why the church, her seed, and seed's seed, are so distinctly mentioned, may be to remove all doubts and scruples from the minds of believers, in all the periods of that dispensation, and the more strongly to confirm them in the belief of these things.

4. It is said,[4] "that the apostle Paul plainly refers these words to the time of the Jews' conversion to the faith; who, when brought home to Christ, should never fall from him. Be it so, that they do more particularly belong to that time, than any other: this sense of them is far from militating against the saints' final perseverance; since it strongly proves that the Jews, when converted, shall not fatally and totally fall away; which is not a blessing peculiar to them, but what they will have in common with Gentile believers.

5. It is urged,[5] that if these promises belong to the elect, the seed of the elect, and their seed's seed, must be elected also; whereas it is certain, from experience, that the seed of the elect are often very wicked; and therefore not elect, but reprobates." It must be owned, that there would be a good deal of force in this objection, were the words to be understood of believers, and their natural seed and offspring, as such; and therefore such who understand the words in this sense, would do well to consider how they betray the doctrine of perseverance into the hands of our opponents. But when it is, observed, that these words respect not the children of the flesh,or the natural seed of believers, but the children of the promise, who are counted for the seed (Rom. 9:7) there will appear no weight in the objection.


[1] Remonstr. Coll. Hag. art. 5: p. 72.

[2] Ibid., p. 73.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Whitby, p. 471; ed. 2.450.

[5] Ibid., p. 470; ed. 2.450.

Gill Index