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ture, to engage us to perfevere in righteoufnefs and goodness, and to have our fruit unto holiness, that the end may be eternal life." Janfwer, The doctrine of the perfeverance of the faints, and the abfolute promifes of God concerning their everlasting fafety and happiness, are fo far from leffening the force of fcripture motives to righteousness and holiness, that they are made use of in fcripture to encourage the faints to the practice of them, and to engage them to continue in them. The apostles did not judge it irrational to argue from them to this purpofe; nor did they think that hope and fear were excluded by them, when they reafon after this manner: Having therefore thefe promifes (dearly beloved) let us cleanse, our Jelves from all filthiness of the flesh and Spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God".. Should it be asked what promifes these were? they were fuch as thefe; I will dwell in them, and walk in them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people, and I will be a father unto you, and ye shall be my fons and daughters, faith the Lord Almighty. So the apostle Peter, having afferted that the elect of God, and fuch as are begotten again. through abundant mercy, are kept by the power of God through faith unto falvation, proceeds to exhort them to gird up the loins of
h 2 Cor. vii. I. ! 2 Cor. vi. 16, 18,
their mind, to be fober, and hope to the end, and to pass the time of their fojourning here in fear; not once imagining that the force of these exhortations was leffened or weakened by the doctrine he had before advanced; or that this left no room for hope and fear, and the proper exercise of them.
III. It is urged', That "it feems not well confiftent with the truth, righteoufnefs and holiness of God, to give an abfolute affurance of his favour, and the fruition of himself for ever to any creature, tho' he fall into the fins fore-mentioned." For God to give an abfolute promife of his favour, and the fruition of himself for ever, can never be inconfiftent with his truth, righteousness and holiness. The feeming inconfiftency lies in his giving fuch affurance to any of his creatures, tho' they fall into fin. That God has given an affurance of his everlasting favour and loving-kindness to his children, tho' they fall into fin, is certain. If his children, fays he, forfake my law, and walk not in my judgments, if they break my ftatutes, and keep not my commandments, then will I vifit their tranfgreffion with the rod, and their iniquity with Atripes; nevertheless, my loving-kindness I will
1 Pet. i. 2, 3, 5, 13, 17. 、
not take from him, nor fuffer my faithfulness to fail. My covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing that is gone out of my lipsTM Tho' he sometimes chides his people in a providential way, and hides his face from them on account of their fins; yet with everlasting kindness will he bave mercy on them. The mountains fhall depart, and the hills be removed, but his kindness shall not depart from them, neither fhall the covenant of his peace be removed". Nothing fhall ever be able to feparate from the love of God which is in Chrift Jefus our Lord. Nor is this at all inconfiftent with the truth, righteousness and holiness of God, fince the fame covenant which gives this affurance, and contains thefe abfolute promises, not only provides fatherly chaftifements for fin, but a full and compleat Saviour from it; who, by the facrifice of himself, has made fuch an entire fatisfaction for it, that the purity and holiness of God, in the abhorrence of fin, the truth of his threatnings against it, and his strict justice and righteoufnefs in the punishment of it, are perfectly reconciled to the everlasting standing of these persons in the love and favour of God. As for the promises and declarations of the old and new teftament concerning this point,
31, 32, 33, 34.
m Pfal. lxxxix. 29, 30% Rom. viii, 38, 39.
they have been taken notice of in the two former Parts of this work; and what was the fenfe of the antient writers upon this head, will be confidered in another. I fhall only add a few arguments in favour of this doctrine. And,
I. It seems not agreeable to the perfections and attributes of God, that he should take any into his love and favour, fhew grace and mercy to them, fend his Son to die for them, and his Spirit to begin a good work in them, if any of them fhould fall fhort of eternal glory and happinefs. It would be contrary to his immutability, fhould he ceafe to love those whom he once loved, with-hold his grace from them, and shew no more mercy to them, let it be on what account foêver: it would be contrary to his justice, to take fatisfaction at the hands of his Son for their fins; and yet punish them eternally for them: and it would greatly reflect upon both his wisdom and power, to begin a work of grace upon the fouls of any he does not go through with, and which does not fpring up unto and iffue in eternal life.
II. That the faints fhould not perfevere to the end, is not confiftent with the purposes and counfels of God, which are abfolute, unchangeable, and unfruftrable: for
if God has chofen and appointed any unto falvation, and these should miscarry of it upon any account, he must be disappointed of his end; which difappointment must arise either from want of forefight of those things which obftruct the attaining of the end, or from want of power to accomplish it: neither of which are to be once thought of him, whofe understanding is infinite, and who is the Lord God Almighty.
III. The defectibility, or total and final apoftacy of the faints, is contrary to the promises of God, which are absolute, unconditional, and all, yea, and amen, in Christ Jefus: for if God has promifed, as he certainly has, that he will put his fear into the hearts of his people; that they fhall not depart from him; that they shall hold on their way, be preferved blameless to the coming of the Lord, and be eternally faved; and yet fome of them at laft eternally perish; the reafon must be, either because he could not, or because he would not fulfil his promises: to fay he could not fulfil his promises, is to impeach his wisdom in making them, and his omnipotence, in not being able to keep them; to fay he would not make them good, is to reflect upon his truth and faithfulness.
IV. The glory of Father, Son and Spirit, is greatly concerned in the final perfeve