Imatges de pÓgina

Chrift the vine, the one fruitful, and the other unfruitful; the one are fuch who were chofen in hinn before the foundation of the world, to be holy and happy; and who are truly regenerated by his Spirit and grace in time, and made his new creatures; for if any man be in Chrift, he is a new creature'; thefe are openly, truly, and favingly in him; he is the green fir tree to them, from whom all their fruit is found; they are rooted in him, and receive their life and nourishment and fruitfulness from him, and abide in him; and can never wither away and perifh, as is clear from the text and context: these are the branches which the hufbandman, Chrift's heavenly father, purges and prunes, that they may bring forth more fruit; and these as they were loved by Chrift in the fame manner as his father loved him, so they were chofen and ordained by him, to go and bring forth fruit, and that their fruit might remain and so not perish, ver. 2, 9, 16. hence this parable of the vine and branches, furnishes out an argument for, and not against the perfeverance of the faints. The other fort of branches, are fuch who are in Chrift only by profeffion; who fubmit to outward ordinances, and get into churches, and fo are reckoned in Chrift, being profeffors of him, and in a church-ftate; as the churches of Judea and Theffalonica, and others, are faid to be in Chrift; though it cannot be thought, that every individual person in thofe churches were truly and favingly in him, Gal. i. 21. 1 Theff. i. 1. These are fuch who were never rooted in Christ, or ever received any life, grace, or fruitfulness from him, and fo are unfruitful branches; and in a course of time wither away in their profeffion; and whom the husbandman by one means or another takes away; and who are caft out of the churches into which they get, and by which they have a name of being in Chrift, either for their bad principles or practices, or both; and at laft, as chaff are burnt with unquenchable fire; but what is all this to real faints or true believers in Chrift? no proof at all of their falling and perishing everlastingly.

The Fifth propofition is, that "thofe who fo effectually know Chrift, as by "that knowledge to escape the pollutions of the world, may yet fall back into "these pollutions, and perish everlaftingly;" the text to prove it is 2 Pet. ii. 20, 21. which this writer understands of an experimental knowledge of Chrift, which fome had and loft, and fell back into pollutions, and perished. -But, 1. it does not appear that the knowledge the perfons in the text are faid to have, was an inward experimental knowledge of Chrift; had it been fuch, they could not have loft it; for those who truly and experimentally know him, fhall follow on to know him; and fuch a knowledge of him has eternal life infeparably connected with it; yea, that itself is eternal life, and therefore can

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• Serious Thoughts, p. 16


never be loft, Hof. vi. 3. John xvii. 3.-2. The effect afcribed unto it, escaping the pollutions of the world, does not prove it to be an inward experimental knowledge; fince that fignifies no more than an outward reformation and amendment of life, which may follow upon a notional and speculative knowledge of Chrift, or an outward acknowledgement and profeffion of him.— 3. There is nothing faid of these persons which fhew that they were partakers of the true grace of God, or but what may be faid of fuch that are deftitute of it; all the characters of them in the context, for they are no other than the falfe teachers there defcribed, fhew them to be very vile and wicked men : they do not appear ever to have had any change wrought upon them; they ever were no other than dogs and fwine; not only before and after, but even while they were under a profession of religion, and outwardly abftained from grofs enormities, as the application of the proverb to them fhews; it is happened to them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again, and the fow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire, ver. 22. Wherefore the characters and cafe of these perfons can never be improved into an argument against the perfeverance of real faints, and fuch as have a fpiritual and experimental knowledge of Christ.

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The Sixth propofition is, that "Those who see the light of the glory of "God in the face of Jefus Chrift, and who have been made partakers of the Holy Ghost, of the witness and fruits of the Spirit, may nevertheless so fall "from God, as to perish everlastingly," for the proof of this, we are referred to Heb. vi. 4.-6. where it is said, the expreffions used are so strong and clear, that they cannot, without grofs and palpable wresting, be understood of any but true believers".-But, 1. admitting that true believers are meant, the words are only a fupposition of their falling away, if they fall away, and prove no matter of fact, that ever any did; and at most are only expreffive of the danger they are in of falling, and of the difficulty of reftoring them, from a partial fall, a final and total one being prevented by the power and grace of God. But, fays our author, the apostle makes no fuppofition at all, there is no if in the original; the words are in plain English, it is impoffible to renew again to repentance, thofe who were once enlightened, and have fallen away: but, though the if or condition is not expreffed, yet it is implied, and the sense is the fame as if it was; an hypothetical or conditional propofition may be as truly expreffed without an if, as with it, as it is here; the words in the original lie literally thus, it is impoffible that those who were once enlightened, και παραπεσονίας, and they falling away, to renew them again unto repentance; that is, fhould they fall

Serious Thoughts, p. 17.


away, which in plain English is, if they fall away; our tranflators have therefore rightly refolved the participle into a conditional verb, as many other learned men have done, as Erafmus, Beza, Piscator, Paraus, and others, the words are indeed in fome verfions tranflated without the condition, but then in fuch manner as to contain an argument for the perfeverance of the faints, thus: it is impoffible that any that have been once enlightened, and have tafted of the heavenly gifts, and yet fall away; that is, it is impoffible that fuch should fall away; and fo the Syriac version of the words is, it is impoffible, &c. non 17, that they fhould fin again; fo as to die fpiritually, or lofe the grace of God; which would require the crucifying of Chrift again, and an expofing him again to open shame; things impoffible to be done, and therefore the former: for, according to this version, the several other things mentioned are joined to the word impoffible; as that they should be renewed to repentance; and also that they should crucify the Son of God and put him to fhame.-But, 2. there is nothing in the characters of these persons which shew them to be true believers; there is nothing said of their believing in Christ, or that neceffarily implies it; there is nothing faid that is peculiar to true believers; they are not faid to be regenerated by the Spirit of God, called by the grace of God, or fanctified, or justified, or adopted, or heirs of God, and meet for the inheritance, or fealed by the Holy Ghost, or any thing of that kind.-3. What is faid of them, is no more than what is to be found in many that are deftitute of the grace of God; they might be enlightened, or baptized, as the Syriac and Ethiopic versions understand and render it; or they might be enlightened into the doctrines of the Gospel, and to fuch a degree as to preach them to others, and yet be ftrangers to the true grace of God, and the spiritual enlightenings that true believers have of their loft eftate by nature, need of Christ, and interest in him; they might tafte of the beavenly gift, whether it be understood of a juftifying righteousness, remiffion of fins, or eternal life; that is, they might have fome speculative notions about these things, and defires after them; which might only arise from a natural principle of felf-love, and be deftitute of any inward fpiritual principle of grace: they might be partakers of the Holy Ghoft, not of his person or special grace, but of his gifts; and that not only ordinary but extraordinary also, as Dr Hammond and Dr Whitby both understand the phrase, they might taste the good word of God, in the bare form and notion of it, and have a fuperficial knowledge of, and guft for it; and yet never have felt the effectual power of it upon their hearts; they might also taste the powers of the world to come; and these, whether they intend the glorious things relating to the state of the church after the firft refurrection, or the ultimate joys and glories of heaven; they might have fome notions of, and make fome natural

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and felf-pleafing reflections on them, without having those foretaftes which are peculiar to the people of God: or whether they may intend the duras, miracles, and mighty works done in the times of the Meffiah, the Jews NT by world to come; which many, as Judas, and others, were able to perform, who were not true believers in Chrift, fee Matt. vii. 22, 23.-Besides, 4. these perfons feem to be reprefented by the unfruitful earth, ver. 8. which bears thorns and briers, and is rejected, and is nigh unto curfing, and its end to be burned; and true believers are manifeftly distinguished from them, of whom the apostle was perfuaded better things, things that accompany falvation, though he thus spoke; put fuch a case, in the hypothetical and conditional form; and which was applicable enough to other perfons, though not to them, ver. 9. fo that nothing can be fairly concluded from hence, against the final perseverance of the faints.

The Seventh propofition is, that "Those who live by faith, may yet fall "from God, and perish everlastingly;" to establish which, the paffage in Heb. x. 38. is produced; now the just shall live by faith, but if any man draw back, my foul fhall have no pleasure in him: from whence it is inferred, that a justified person that now lives the life, that is hid with Chrift in God, may not endure to the end, may draw back to perdition, and be utterly caft off'.But, 1. one that is just and righteous by the righteousness of Chrift, or that is truly juftified by it, ever remains fo; he cannot be condemned or enter into condemnation; he will be eternally glorified; whom he justified, them be alfo glorified, Rom. viii. 30, 33, 34. Such whofe life is hid with Chrift in God, their life is fafe, and can never be destroyed; therefore, when he their life shall appear, they shall appear with him in glory, Col. iii. 3, 4. and fuch who live by faith on Christ, shall never die; for fo our Lord himself says, whofoever liveth and believeth in me, fhall never die, John xi. 26. that is, he that lives by faith on Chrift, fhall never die fpiritually, or die the second and eternal death; and therefore, fuch an one can never fo fall, as to perifh everlastingly.2. These words are fo far from militating against the doctrine of the faints perfeverance, that they greatly establish it; for here are manifeftly two forts of perfons mentioned: one that were wris, of faith; that had true faith in Christ, and lived by faith on him, did not draw back to perdition, but went on believing to the faving of their fouls, or till they received the end of their faith, even the falvation of their fouls; of this number were the apostle and others with him, included in the word we, and every truly just, and righteous man. The other were morons, of the withdrawing or feparation; who


iSerious Thoughts, p. 20.

forfook the affembly of the faints, ver. 25. withdrew from their fociety and communion, and apostatized from the ways and worship of God; now by this diftinction and oppofition between these two forts of perfons, it clearly appears, that those that truly believe, do not draw back unto perdition, but continue in the faith of Chrift, and in the true worship of God, until they are everlastingly faved; which is a firm teftimony to the final perfeverance of the faints; fo likewise, that those that draw back unto perdition, were not of the faith, were not true believers, nor ever the juft ones that live by faith; and fo their drawing back or apostacy which was not from faith they never had, but from their profeffion of religion they once made, is no proof of one that lives by faith falling away, fo as everlaftingly to perifh.-3. It is indeed faid, that the text is not fairly tranflated, and that the original runs thus; if the just man that lives by faith draws back, my foul shall have no pleasure in him; making he that draws back to refer to the just man that lives by faith: but that this cannot be the fenfe, and fo not the true rendering of the words, appears from the original text in Hab. ii. 4. from whence these works are taken; Behold bis foul which is lifted up, is not upright in him; which the Greek verfion and the apostle render, if he withdraws, or draws back, my foul has no pleasure in him: this then is the man that draws back, and who is oppofed unto, and distinguished from the righteous in the following claufe, but the juft fhall live by bis faith: hence it is a clear case, that he that draws back, and the righteous man, are not one and the fame; and therefore, our tranflators are to be vindicated in rendering the words by an adverfative but, and in their supplement of any man; which is fupported by the authority of other learned men, as Flaccus Illyricus, Beza, Pifcator, and others; and even Grotius himself, who was no friend to the doctrine contended for, owns the juftnefs of it, that is, any one, ought to be supplied, as agreeable to the grammatical construction of the words. Befides, could the tranflation this writer gives be established, which upon a little reflection he will easily fee is inaccurate; it only contains a fuppofition of a righteous man's drawing back, which proves no matter of fact; and moreover, though such a man may draw back partially, and fo as to incur the divine displeasure, yet not draw back into perdition; for from one that does fo, the just man is distinguished, as appears from the following verse; but we are not of them that draw back unto perdition, &c. which feems to be mentioned on purpose to encourage true believers from the doctrine of perseverance, when so many profeffors were forfaking their communion.

The Eighth propofition is, that "Those that are fanctified by the blood of "the covenant, may fo fall from God, as to perish everlastingly;" inpro of of which,

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