Part 4
Chapter 5—Of Perseverance


Dr. Whitby says,[1] “it were easy to confirm this doctrine (of the saints' apostasy) from the concurrent suffrage of the ancient fathers; but this seems to him unnecessary, after the confession of the learned Vossius, communem hanc fuisse antiquitatis sententiam, ‘that this was the common judgment of antiquity, or of the ancients;' and that antiquitas tota indeficibilitati adversatur, ‘all antiquity was contrary to this doctrine,' of the indefectibility of the saints.” But it should be known, that Vossius, who sets himself with all his might to prove these assertions, not only in the same place[2] owns, that the holy fathers (Austin and Prosper) held, “that God decreed from eternity to bring some by infallible means to eternal life, whose faith and love therefore should either never fail, or being lost, should be restored before the end of life; seeing God's purpose of saving them whom he hath once chosen to life, can by no means be made void.” In which Austin thought the writers before him agreed with him, as appears from his book De Bono Perseverantiae; but Vossius also in his next thesis observes,[3] that the fathers distinguished faith into three degrees, the last of which they call a perfect, solid, rooted one; and this they say can by no means be lost. He also farther observes,[4] that “when the holy fathers teach that justifying faith may fail, and sometimes does really fail, they understand this with respect to acts which flow from the power and habit of faith; for this power, which we may call the seed of actual faith, they own, is not utterly taken away, at least in the elect.” What is the sense of these ancient writers may be better judged of by what will be produced under the following Sections.


[1] Discourse, &e. p. 489; ed. 2. 468.

[2] Hist. Pelag. 1. 6, thes. 12, p. 565.

[3] Ibid. thes. 13, p. 571, 572.

[4] Ibid. p. 575.