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godly ones do depart (from God,) and not return, do fall, and not rise again, this question, why some of these persevere, others not, is at an end before it begin; and yet this was the question so hotly disputed between Augustin and his adversaries. Yea, the truth is, that all antiquity jointly opposeth that indefectibility (of the saints, which some defend.) Nor is there any of the ancients to be found who, as far as I am able to call to mind, conceiveth that believers have any absolute certainty of their perseverance. They indeed acknowledge that the minds of the children of God ought not to be tortured with any anxiety of doubting, inasmuch as they have a confidence of hope, which may sustain and keep up with sufficient comfort those that may fall, and relieve those that are already fallen. But yet they deny that any man, because he certainly knows that he is at present in the number of true believers, can therefore promise unto himself, upon any certainty, such or so much favour from God for the remaining part of his life, that he may be as bold as if he had it by revelation from God, that he shall never incur the guilt of adultery, murder, idolatry, though David, Solomon, and others, declined so fearfully from the ways of God as they did; or, in case he shall fall into such horrible sins with them, that he also shall have the time of his life prolonged as David had, until, upon his serious repentance, he be reconciled unto God. Such an absolute certainty as this they affirm to be inexpedient in this life, being obnoxious to so many temptations, and where the weakness of men is such that, unless there be a continual solicitousness and care to keep that grace which we have once received, a carnal security will most easily steal upon us, through which, as by a broad gate wide opened, whole troops of vices are like to convey themselves into us."*

* Ex altero hoc Augustinianæ sententiæ additamento, satis clarè liquet, tam Augustinum et Prosperum, quàm Pelagium et ejus reliquias, super eo convenisse, quòd fides justificans, et gratia regenerans, amitti possit, et à plerisque amittatur.

Et paulò post: Neutiquam igitur antiquitatis mentem assequuntur, qui cum apud Augustinum et alios legunt, electos Dei, vel deficere nunquam, vel ad Deum antè obitum redire, inde colligunt, ex eorum sententiâ fideles semper in fide perseverare, aut saltem nunquam penitùs divinâ gratiâ excidere. Quorum argumentum hac nititur hypothesi, quòd fideles et electi avriorρépovoi, cum juxtà Augustinum non reciprocentur electi et fideles, sed fideles perseverantes. Imò omnis disputatio illa, quæ Augustino cum Pelagio et Massiliensibus de perseverantiâ sanctorum fuit, hypothesin plane contrariam habet. Nam nisi concedatur quosdam fidelium et piorum deficere, nec redire; cadere, nec surgere, cessabit penitùs hæc quæstio, cur aliqui eorum perseverant, aliqui non item; de quo inter Augustinum et adversarios tantoperè disceptatum fuit. Quid quod antiquitas tota indeficibilitati adversatur, nec quenquam, quantum meminisse valemus, veterum invenire est, qui fideles omnes omnimodam de perseverantiâ suâ certitudinem habere arbitraretur. Fatentur quidem, animos filiorum Dei dubitationis anxietate cruciari non debere, cum spei fiduciam habeant, quæ sufficienti consolatione et lapsuros sustentet, et lapsos levet at nihilominus negant, posse quemvis, ex inde quòd impræsentiarum fidelium se in numero esse sciat, tantum sibi de reliquo vitæ tempore favorem Dei pro certo polliceri, ut tanquam divinâ revelatione de se edoctus spondere ausit, nunquam se adulterii, homicidii, idololatriæ reum fore, quanquam David, Solomon, alii tantoperè à viis Domini declinârant: vel, si cum illis in tantum scelus prolabatur, tum, uti Davidi, ita sibi quoque prorogatum iri vitæ tempus, usque dum seriò pœnitentiam egerit, et reconcilietur Deo. Cujusmodi omnimodam certitudinem negant expedire in hâc vita tot tentationibus obnoxiâ, ubi tanta est infirmitas, ut, nisi perpetua adsit sollicitudo custodiendi gratiam, quam semel acceperimus, facillimè obrepat carnis securitas; per quam velut bipatentibus portis, undique vitiorum se insinuent catervæ.— Gerard. Johan. Vossius, Hist. Pelag., lib. vi. Thes. 12.

Thus far Vossius, who in the words mentioned comprehendeth the clear and unquestionable sense of the primitive faith, and of the most orthodox fathers, for several hundreds of years next after Christ and the apostles, concerning the point of perseverance; and therefore subjoineth in the entrance of his demonstration of the said thesis words to this effect: "That the sense and opinion expressed (touching the perseverance of believers) was the common opinion of antiquity, they only at this day can deny who, though in other matters they may possibly be men learned enough, yet are altogether strangers in antiquity, or else have their minds and judgments so mancipated (or enslaved) to the opinions of this man or that, that they choose rather to see with their eyes than their own, and prefer a going astray with them, before walking in ways of truth with other men."* And whereas some pretend, that when the fathers say that grace or faith may be lost, they speak not of true grace, or of true faith, but of that which is feigned, the said author, in the process of his discourse, resolves this pretence into smoke, and evidently proves the doctrine of the fathers to have been, that even true faith, and that which justifieth, and makes men at present true children of God, and which in the nature of it is saving, may be utterly and for ever lost. And whereas some passages are found in their writings, wherein they say that true faith may indeed be lost, but is always recovered again before death; and in some others that faith cannot be lost; to this he clearly answereth, by that distinction of three several degrees of faith, which they still suppose, affirming, that in passages of the former import, they speak only of faith of the second degree, i. e. of such faith which is not only justifying and saving, in respect of the nature of it, but which actually saveth; and in places of the latter import, that they speak only of faith of the third and highest degree, i. e. of a perfect, solid, rooted, and grounded faith. For the reader's better satisfaction, I shall exhibit unto him the author's own words at large. "This, nevertheless, is to be taken into special consideration, that when the fathers affirm that faith may be lost, and therefore that eternal election cannot rightly be inferred from faith, they do not all speak of any measure or degree of faith whatsoever, since many of them distinguish three several degrees of faith. The first of which gives essence, or truth of being unto faith, in respect whereof it justifieth, and is called a lively faith: opposite hereunto is a dead and putatitious,” i. e. an imaginary "faith, which is proper to hypocrites. The next degree adds duration," or perseverance, " in respect whereof it saveth," i. e. becomes actually saving: "opposite to this faith is that which we commonly call temporary, (attributing that improperly unto men's faith, which the Scripture attributes to men themselves,) which is

Communem fuisse antiquitatis sententiam quam diximus, soli hodie negare possunt, qui cætera fortasse viri sunt non ineruditi, sed in antiquitate tamen plane sunt hospites; vel animum habet unius et alterius sententiis ita mancipatum, ut eorum oculis videre malint quam suis, cunque iis errare præoptent, quam cum aliis bene sentire.

the faith of apostates. The third," and last "degree, superad deth solidity: this faith is termed perfect, solid, rooted, which any time of a man's life gives him assurance; i. e. to use the words of Gregory the Great, doth so confirm," or strengthen, "that a man cannot fall afterwards, and knoweth this most certainly of himself. To this degree of faith a weak faith is opposed, which is the faith of many of the elect. Those passages of the fathers, wherein they say that true faith may be lost, but is always recovered again, always speak of the second degree of faith. But those, where they say that such faith cannot be lost, must necessarily be understood of the third and highest degree of faith. Between which expressions, and what they generally teach otherwise, viz. that many perish eternally, through a falling away from their faith, there is no repugnance. For in such assertions as this, they understand faith of the first degree, i. e. such a faith which is formally and essentially true, or, which is the same, which is justifying, though not" actually or in the event "saving, but justifying in the essence or substance of it, in respect whereof a man is at present righteous or just; not justifying in respect of continuance; since if we consider the truth of the end, that faith is not truly justifying, which at any time ceaseth to justify because no other faith hath the promise of eternal life, but only that which persevereth."*

By the express tenor of these things, it fully appears, that the uniform and constant opinion of all orthodox antiquity was, that true faith, true grace, true justification, and forgiveness of sins, may, by security, carelessness, ungodliness, and profaneness of life and conversation, be totally and finally lost, and the persons in whom they were sometimes found, eternally perish. As for that which some of them teach, concerning the inamissibility or infallible perseverance of such a faith, which is perfected and radicated in the soul so thoroughly, and to such a degree, as we have heard expressed, were it granted that they speak of a simple and absolute inamissibility in this kind, and that their meaning is, that there is an utter impossibility, and not a great difficulty or improbability

• Illud interim maximoperè in considerationem venit, quòd cum Patres fidem posse amitti, eóque ex fide haud rectè æternam electionem colligi posse contendunt, non omnes de quacunque fidei mensurâ loquuntur: cum plurimi eorum distinguant tres fidei gradus. Quorum primus dat fidei essentiam, secundùm quam justificat, et dicitur fides viva, atque oppositam habet fidem mortuam ac putatitiam, qualis hypocritarum. Alter gradus addit durationem, quâ ratione salvificat; sibique oppositam habet fidem (ut vulgò loquimur, quod de hominibus dicit Scriptura, fidei corum per karáxonov tribuentes) póσkaipov, sive temporariam, qualis est apostatarum. Tertius gradus superaddit soliditatem, et dicitur perfecta, solida, radicata, quæ quocunque vitæ tempore certificat: hoc est, ut Gregorii Magni verbis utar, sic confirmat, ut quis ulteriùs cadere non possit, et hoc de sese certissimè sciat. Cui gradui opponitur fides debilis, qualis etiam multorum est electorum. Patrum loca, quibus dicunt, fidem veram quidem amitti posse, sed nunquam non reparari, semper loquuntur de secundo fidei gradu. At illa, quibus aiunt, neutiquam posse amitti, omninò intelligi debent de gradu tertio. Cum quibus minimè pugnat, quòd universi aliàs dicunt, multos per defectionem à fide æternùm perire. Nam intelligunt fidem primi gradus; hoc est, formaliter sive essentialiter veram; sive, quod idem est, justificam, etsi non salvificam, sed justificam κar' ovoíav, per quam quis in præsentiâ est justus, non justificam Kar' ¿πiμovýv, quando si veritatem finis spectemus, verè justifica non est, quæ aliquando desinit justificare: quia non alia habet promissionem vitæ æternæ, quam quæ perseverat.-Gerard. Joh. Voss. Hist. Pelag. lib. vi. Thes. 13.

only, that such a faith should miscarry, or no instance producible to prove that such a faith ever did miscarry, it no ways rebuketh the confidence of that assertion, which we have in this present chapter, and elsewhere in the discourse formerly avouched; viz. that a possibility of the falling away of true saints, and true believers, and that both totally and finally, was the general and joint doctrine of the primitive Christians for several ages together after Christ. The consideration whereof is abundantly sufficient to stop the mouth of that undue pretext, which presumeth to say, and that with confidence, that the best and most conscientious men were always of this judgment, that true grace is imperishable, and true believers under no possibility of miscarrying finally. But of this we spake more at large in the ninth chapter. I here only add: That when any of the ancient fathers or councils express themselves in words of any such import as this, that there is or may be a faith so raised, rooted, or strongly built that it cannot either totally or finally miscarry, it is no ways probable that their meaning should be, that there is an utter, simple, or logical impossibility, that such a faith should be wholly lost, but that they rather speak rhetorically, and would be understood of a kind of moral impossibility only, which imports a great difficulty, improbability, or rareness of an event: in which sense or notion the Scriptures themselves, (as knowledge hath been given elsewhere,) * are wont to term things impossible, or such which cannot be.


Lest any man should be jealous, either of the sufficiency of the author, from whom we have taken the survey of the judgment of antiquity in the question in hand, to make a true and perfect account of such a business, or of his sincerity in giving it in, let antiquity herself speak, and plead her own cause with her own lips. And first we shall give you a brief taste of the sense of some of the best authors, who lived and wrote before Pelagius was heard of in the world: and then of such who lived with him and after him. "But because," saith Irenæus, who lived about the 172nd year after Christ, "all men are of the same nature," or kind, having power as well to hold," or keep, "as to work," or do, "that which is good, and power again to lose it, and not to do it, some are justly, even with understanding men, how much more with God commended, and receive a worthy testimony of a good election," or choice, "and of a continuance therein: others again are accused," or condemned, "and receive a just" retribution in "damage, because they rejected," or put away from them, "that which is just and good." This author clearly supposeth, that all men have power by nature, (he means, as is easily collected from other places in his writings, by nature, as it is generally recruited, or relieved and strengthened, *See Chap. X. p. 274, and Chap. XII. p. 388.

+ Sed quoniam omnes ejusdem sunt naturæ, et potentes retinere et operari bonum, et potentes rursum amittere id, et non facere justè, apud homines sensatos, quantò magis apud Deum, alii quidem laudantur, et dignum percipiunt testimonium electionis bonæ, et perseverantiæ, alii verò accusantur, et dignum percipiunt damnum, cò quod justum et bonum reprobaverunt. - Iren. adversus Hæres. lib. iv. cap. 74. circà initium.

by the grace of God in Christ,). both to retain and work that which is good, perseveringly, and again to throw it off and recede from it, yea, so as finally to perish in such their declinings.

Tertullian, who wrote about the year 195, declareth his judgment in the point to this effect: "Whatever it be that my mean abilities have attempted in reference to an entering upon and holding out in a course of repentance, doth indeed concern all those that have addicted themselves unto the Lord as persons who all seek after safety," or salvation, "by pleasing God; but it concerns those more nearly who are yet novices, and beginning very diligently to water their ears with the words of God, like young whelps whose sight is not yet perfectly come to them, move up and down at uncertainty, and profess," or learn," indeed to renounce their old ways, and take up repentance, but neglect to inclose it;"* i. e. to guard or fence it with resolution and care, that it may not be laid waste by the return and breaking in of the lusts of their former ignorance upon them. Not long after, thus: "Some are of opinion as if God must of necessity give that which he hath promised, even to those that are unworthy, and thus make his bounty a servitude or bondage" unto him. "But if he gratifieth us" with or by "the symbol of death," meaning, if he confers upon us forgiveness of sins, in or upon our being baptized, wherein we typically die with Christ, out of necessity, he doth it against his will. And who will suffer that to continue or remain firm which he giveth unwillingly? For, do not many afterwards fall away? Is not this gift taken away from many?" He clearly speaks of the gift of justification or remission of sins, which the ancient fathers more generally held and taught was conferred in baptism, at least where there was any meetness in the person baptized. But whether this be orthodox or no, evident it is, from the words recited, that Tertullian's judgment was, that many may, yea, and do, fall away, and suffer the deprivation and loss of the grace of justification, according to what we reasoned at large, Chap. viii., and consequently of regeneration also.

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Gregory Nazianzen, famous in the Christian church about the year 375, expresseth the received doctrine in his times, concerning the subject in debate, in such passages as these: "Take heed thou keepest thy cleanness, lest otherwise thou beest sick again of thy flux of blood, and shalt not be able to take hold

* Quicquid ergo mediocritas nostra ad pœnitentiam semel capessendam et perpetuò continendam suggerere conata est, omnes quidem deditos Domino spectat, ut omnis (omnes) salutis in promerendo Deo petitores; sed præcipuè novitiis istis imminet, qui cum maximè incipiunt divinis sermonibus aures rigare, quique catuli infantis adhuc recentis, nec perfectis luminibus, incerta reptant: et dicunt (discunt) pristinis quidem renunciare, et pœnitentiam assumunt, sed includere eam negligunt.-Tertul. de Poen. cap. vi.

+ Quidam autem sic opinantur, quasi Deus necesse habeat præstare etiam indignis, quod spopondit, et liberalitatem ejus faciunt servitutem. Quod si necessitate nobis symbolum mortis indulget, ergo invitus facit. Quis enim permittit permansurum id, quod tribuerit invitus? Non enim multi posteà excidunt? Nonne à multis donum illud aufertur ? &c.—Ibid.

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