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Christ the vine, the c'ne fruitful, and the other unfruitful; the one are such who were cholen in bion 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 Christ, be is a new creature ; these are openly, truly, and savingly 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 perish, as is clear from the text and context : these are the branches which the husbandman, Christ's heavenly father, purges and prunes,
, that they may bring forth more fruit; and these as they were loved by Christ in the fame manner as his father loved him, so they were chosen and ordained by him, co go and bring forth fruit, and that their fruit might remain and so not perish, ver. 2, 9, 16. hence tris parable of the vine and branches, furnishes out an argument for, and not against the perseverance of the saints. The other fort of branches, are such who are in Christ only by profession; who submit to outward ordinances, and get into churches, and so are reckoned in Chrift, being professors of him, and in a church-state; as the churches of Judea and Thessalonica, and others, are said to be in Christ; though it cannot be thought, that every individual person in thosė: churches were truly and savingly in him, Gal. i. 21. i Ibel. i. 1, These are such who were never rooted in Christ, or eyer received any life, grace, or fruitfulness from him, and so are unfruitful branches; and in a course of time withier away in their profession; and whom the husbandman by one means or another takes away ; and who are cast 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 last, as chaff are burnt with unquenchable fire; but what is all this to real saints or true believers in Chrift? no proof at all of their falling and perishing everlastingly.
The Fifth proposition is, that “those who fo effectually know Christ, as “ that knowledge to escape the pollutions of the world, may yet fall back into « these pollutions, and perish everlastingly;" the text to prove it is 2 Pet. ï. 20, 21. which this writer understands of an experimental knowledge of Christ, which some had and loft, and fell back into pollutions, and perished -But, 1, it does not appear that the knowledge the persons in the text are faid to have, was an inward experimental knowledge of Christ; had it been such, they could not have lost it ; for those who truly and experimentally know him, shall follow on to know him; and such a knowledge of him has eternal life inseparably connected with it; yea, that itself is eternal life, and therefore can
never € 2 Cor. v. 17.
& Serious Thoughts, p. 16
never be lost, Hos. vi. 3. John xvii. 3.—2. The effect ascribed unto it, escaping the pollutions of the world, does not prove it to be an inward experimental knowledge; since that signifies no more than an outward reformation and amendment of life, which may follow upon a notional and speculative knowledge of Christ, or an outward acknowledgement and profession of him.3. There is nothing said of these persons which shew that they were partakers of the true grace of God, or but what may be said of such that are deftitute of it; all the characters of them in the context, for they are no other than the false teachers there described, shew 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 swine ; not only before and after, but even while they were under a profession of religion, and outwardly abstained from gross enormities, as the application of the proverb to them shews ; 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 case of these persons can never be improved into an argument against the perseverance of real saints, and such as have a fpiritual and experimental knowledge of Christ.
The Sixth proposition is, that “ Those who see the light of the glory of “ God in the face of Jesus Christ, 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 expressions used are so strong and clear, that they cannot, without gross and palpable wresting, be understood of any but true believers'.—But, I. admitting that true believers are meant, the words are only a supposition of their falling away, if they fall away, and prove no matter of fact, that ever any did ; and at most are only expressive of the danger they are in of falling, and of the difficulty of restoring them, from a partial fall, a final and total one being prevented by the power
of God. But, says our author, the apostle makes no supposition at all, there is no if in the original ; the words are in plain English, it is impossible to renew again to repentance, those who were once enlightened, and have fallen away : but, though the if or condition is not expressed, yet it is implied, and the sense is the same as if it was ; an hypothetical or conditional proposition may be as truly expressed without an if, as with it, as it is here; the words in the original lie literally thus, it is impossible that those wbo were once enlightened, και σαραπισουλας, , and they falling away, to renew them again unto repentance ; that is, should they fall away, which in plain English is, if they fall away; our transators have therefore rightly resolved the participle into a conditional verb, as many other learned men have done, as Erasmus, Beza, Piscator, Pareus, and others, the words are indeed in some versions translated without the condition, but then in such manner as to contain an argument for the perseverance of the saints, thus : it is impossible that any that have been once enlightened, and have tasted of the beavenly gifts—and get fall away; that is, it is imposible that such should fall away;
away, Serious Thoughts, p. 17.
and so the Syriac version of the words is, it is imposible, &c. non) 2107, that they should fin again ; so as to die fpiritually, or lose the grace of God; which would require the crucifying of Christ again, and an exposing him again to open shame; things imposible to be done, and therefore the former : for, according to this version, the several other things mentioned are joined to the word impossible ; as that they should be renewed to repentance; and also that they should crucify the Son of God and put him to shame.—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 necessarily implies it; there is nothing said that is peculiar to true believers; they are not said 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 sealed by the Holy Ghost, or any thing of that kind.-3. What is said of them, is no more than what is to be found in many that are destitute 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 such a degree as to preach them to others, and yet be strangers to the true grace of God, and the spiritual enlightenings that true believers have of their loft estate by nature, need of Christ, and interest in him; they might taste of the beavenly gift, whether it be understood of a justifying righteousness, remission of sins, or eternal life; that is, they might have fome speculative notions about these things, and desires after them; which might only arise from a natural principle of self-love, and be destitute of any inward fpiritual principle of grace: they might be partakers of the Holy Ghost, not of his person or special grace, but of his gifts; and that not only ordinary but extraordinary also, as Dr Hammond and Dr W bitby both understand the phrase, they might taste tbe good word of God, in the bare form and notion of it, and have a fuperficial knowledge of, and gust 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 first resurrection, or the ultimate joys and glories of heaven; they might have some notions of, and make some natural
and self-pleasing reflections on them, without having those foretastes which are peculiar to the people of God: or whether they may intend the durapers, miracles, and mighty works done in the times of the Mefliah, the Jews xan Osby world to come ; which many, as Judas, and others, were able to perform, who were not crue believers in Christ, see Matt. vii. 22, 23.-Besides, 4. these perfons seem to be represented by the unfruitful earth, ver. 8. which bears thorns and briers, and is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing, and its end to be burned; and true believers are manifestly diftinguished from them, of whom the apostle was persuaded better things, things that accompany salvation, though he thus spoke; put such a case, in the hypothetical and conditional form; and which was applicable enough to other persons, though not to them, ver. 9. so that nothing can be fairly concluded from hence, against the final perseverance of the saints.
The Seventh proposition is, that “ Those who live by faith, may yet fall " from God, and perish everlastingly;" to establish which, the passage in Heb. x. 38. is produced ; now the just Mall live by faith, but if any man draw back, my soul fall bave no pleasure in bim: from whence it is inferred, that a justified person that now lives the life, that is hid with Christ in God, may not endure to the end, may draw back to perdition, and be utterly cast off',But, 1. one that is just and righteous by the righteousness of Christ, or that is truly justified by it, ever remains fo; he cannot be condemned or enter into condemnation; he will be eternally glorified; whom be justified, then be also glorified, Rom. viii. 30, 33, 34. Such whose life is hid with Christ in God, their life is safe, and can never be destroyed ; therefore, when he their life shall appear, they shall appear with him in glory, Col. iii. 3, 4. and such who live by faith on Christ, Thall never die; for so our Lord himself says, whofoever livetb and believeth in me, Ball never die, John xi. 26. that is, he that lives by faith on Christ, shall never die spiritually, or die the second and eternal death; and therefore, such an one can never fo fall, as to perish everlastingly.-2. These words are so far from militaring against the doctrine of the saints perseverance, that they greatly establish it; for here are manifestly two sorts of persons mentioned: one that were assins, of failb; that had true faith in Chrift, and lived by faith on him, did not draw back to perdition, but went on believing to the saving of their souls, or till they received the end of their faith, even the salvation of their souls; of this number were the apostle and others with him, included in the word we, and every truly just, and rightcous man. The other were uxosohns, of the withdrawing or separation ; who
Serious Thoughts, p. 20.
forsook the assembly of the saints, ver. 25. withdrew from their society and communion, and apoftatized from the ways and worship of God; now by this distinction and opposition between these two sorts of persons, it clearly appears, that those that truly believe, do not draw back unto perdition, but continue in the faith of Christ, and in the true worship of God, until they are everlastingly saved; which is a firm testimony to the final perseverance of the saints; so likewise, that those that draw back unto perdition, were not of the faith, were not true believers, nor ever the just ones that live by faith ; and so their drawing back or apostacy which was not from faith they never had, but from their profession of religion they once made, is no proof of one that lives by faith falling away, so as everlastingly to perish.-3. It is indeed said, that the text is not fairly translated, and that the original runs thus; if the just man that lives by faith draws back, my soul 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 sense, and so not the true rendering of the words, appears from the original text in Hab. ii. 4. from whence these works are taken; Bebold bis Joul which is lifted up, is not upright in bim; which the Greek version and the apostle render, if he withdraws, or draws back, my soul has no pleasure in him: this then is the man that draws back, and who is opposed unto, and distinguished from the righteous in the following clause, but the just pall live by bis faitb: hence it is a clear case, that he that draws back, and the righteous man, are not one and the same; and therefore, our transators are to be vindicated in rendering the words by an adversative but, and in their supplement of any man; which is supported by the authority of other learned men, as Flaccus Illyricus, Beza, Piscator, and others; and even Grotius himself, who was no friend to the doctrine contended for, owns the justness of it, that is, any one, ought to be supplied, as agreeable to the grammatical construction of the words. Besides, could the translation this writer gives be established, which upon a little reflection he will easily see is inaccurate ; it only contains a supposition of a righteous man's drawing back, which proves no matter of fact ; and moreover, though such a man may draw back partially, and so as to incur the divine displeasure, yet not draw back into perdition ; for from one that does so, the just man is diftinguished, as appears from the following verse ; but we are not of them that draw back unto perdition, &c. which seems to be mentioned on purpose to encourage true believers from the doctrine of perseverance, when so many professors were forsaking their communion.
The Eightb proposition is, that “ Those that are fanctified by the blood of “ the covenant, may so fall from God, as to perilh everlastingly;" inpro of of