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shall never relapse into their former state of unbelief, and on what condition they are made? Whether his promise of his love unto and acceptance of believers, wherein he will abide for ever, do not infer their preservation in the condition wherein they are (that is, as believers), will in the next place fall under our consideration. Your conclusion is, in the sense explained you admit the proposition, “Whatsoever God promiseth is certain,"—that is, it shall certainly be fulfilled, or it shall not!
There is, moreover, no small contribution of strength, as to our establishment in the faith of it, given to our proposition by the signal engagement of the faithfulness of God for the accomplishment of the promises which he makes unto us, as it is manifested in these words of the apostle, 1 Cor. i. 9, "God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son." In the foregoing verse, he telleth them that God will confirm them to the end, that they may be blameless in the day of the Lord Christ; of which confident assertion he gives them this account, “God is faithful,” to make good his promises made unto them; he changeth not. When a promise is once passed, that which first presents itself to the consideration of them to whom it is made, and whose concernment it is that it be fulfilled, is the faithfulness of him that hath made the promise. This property of God's nature doth the apostle therefore mind the saints of, to lead them to a full assurance of their preservation. His promise being passed, fear not his faithfulness for its accomplishment. Might there in this case a supposal be allowed of any such interveniencies as might intercept them in the way of enjoying what God truly promised, and cause them to come short thereof, what assurance could arise to them from the consideration of the faithfulness of God, who made those promises unto them? The faithfulness of God, then, is engaged for the accomplishment of the thing promised, which also shall be done in case that fail not. So also 1 Thess. v. 23, 24, “ The very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is he that calleth
you, who also will do it.” He assures them of their preservation in and unto the enjoyment of the things which he prayed for, and that upon the account of his faithfulness who had promised them. And saith he, “He will do it,”-namely, because he is faithful. Let the oppositions to it be never so many, the difficulties never so great, the interveniencies what they will, "he is faithful, and he will do it," as it is affirmed, 2 Thess. iii. 3, “But the Lord is faithful, who shall stablish you, and keep you from evil;" as also in 1 Cor. x. 13, “God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able, but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” The same
faithfulness of God is held out as that upon the account whereof no temptation shall befall believers, so as to separate them from him. The promise here peculiarly confirmed by it and established on it is such as no condition can tolerably be fixed unto. “I will not suffer
“I believers to be overcome with temptations, in case they be not overcome with temptations,” is a promise not to be ascribed to the ipfinite wisdom of God, with which we have to do; and yet no other can with the least colour be proposed. All sin, all falling from God, is upon temptation. Though Satan and the world should have no hand in drawing men aside from God, yet what they do from their own lusts, they do from temptation, James i. 14, 15. If God in his faithfulness will not suffer any temptation to prevail against believers, unless they neglect their duty and fall from him,—and they can no otherwise neglect their duty nor depart from him but upon the prevalency of temptation,—their abiding with him, their final unconquerableness, bath a certainty answerable to the faithfulness of God.
This part of our strength Mr Goodwin attempts to deprive us of, chap. xi. sect. 18, p. 236, in these words: “Whereas the apostle men
p tioneth the ‘faithfulness of God' as that divine principle in him, or attribute, out of which he is moved to establish and confirm believers unto the end, and so keep them from evil, by faithfulness' he doth not necessarily mean that property or attribute of his that renders him true and just, or constant in the performance of his promises; as if the apostle in these or any like places supposed such a promise, one or more, made by him, by which he stands obliged to establish and confirm his saints unto the end by a strong and irresistible hand.”
Ans. 1. The sum of this answer is, that the apostle, by saying “God is faithful,” doth not understand God's faithfulness. What other virtue is intended in God by his faithfulness but that whereby his truth and his constancy in words and promises is signified, I know not. Let the places from the beginning of the Scriptures to the end wherein there is mention made of the faith or faithfulness of God, of his being faithful, with the application thereof, the scope and intendment of the place, be perused, and see if they will give the least allowance to turn aside from eyeing the property and perfection of God before mentioned, as that which they peculiarly intend. Deut. vii. 9; Ps. xxxvi. 5, lxxxix. 1, 2, 5, cxliii. 1; Isa. xlix. 7; Hos. ii. 20; Rom. iii. 3; 2 Tim. ii. 13; Heb. x. 23; 1 John i. 9, are some of them. Why we should wring out another sense of the expression in this place, I know not.
2. The faithfulness of God is not mentioned as that “divine principle out of which he is moved to establish and confirm believers to the end,” but only to confirm them in the faith of his unchangeableness and constancy in accomplishing the work of his free grace, which he had begun in them and promised to confirm to the end
The work flows from the principle of his free grace in Jesus Christ, whence alone he gives them great, free, and precious promises. His stability and constancy in those promises, as to their performance, is intended by his faithfulness and truth in them. What are the promises of God improperly so called, and not exhibited in words, which you intimate, I know not.
3. The apostle doth not only “suppose," but in the name and authority of God actually gives, in the places under consideration, promises of the certain and infallible preservation of believers to the end, asserting the immutability of God's engagement in them from his faithfulness. In brief, not to darken counsel and understanding with a multitude of words, by the promises of God we intend in a peculiar manner those expressed in the texts under consideration, --namely, that God will establish believers to the end, keep them from evil and all temptations that would overthrow them; and by the faithfulness of God, from whence believers have their assurance of the accomplishment of these promises, (we intend) that which the Scripture holds out, and all the world of believers have hitherto taken, to be the faithfulness of God, as was before described. But it seems the word is here used otherwise; for, saith he,
"It is such a kind of faithfulness or disposition in him as that meant by Peter when he styleth him a 'faithful Creator.' Now, God is, and may properly be termed, a faithful Creator, because he constantly performs unto his creature whatsoever the relation of a Crcator promiseth in an equitable and rational way unto it; which is, a great care and tenderness for the preservation and well-being of it. In like manner, he may, yea it is most likely that he is, called 'faithful' in his calling of men, as he is a spiritual Father or Creator, a giver of a new being unto men, because he never faileth to perform unto those new creatures of his whatsoever such a being as this, regularly interpreted, promiseth unto him who receiveth it from him who is the donor of it; that is, convenient and sufficient means for the preservation and well-being of it. So that the faithfulness of God' in the scripture in hand supposes no such promise made by God as our opposers imagine,-namely, whereby he should in terms or words stand engaged to establish, confirm, or keep believers from evil, his new creatures, his regenerated ones, after any such a manner but that they, if they be careless or negligent for themselves, may be shaken and decline, and commit evil notwithstanding."
Ans. 1. That by God's faithfulness, mentioned in that place of Peter, such a disposition as you afterward describe is intended, you had better say than undertake to prove. It is evident the scope of the apostle is, to exhort the saints of God in all their trials and afflictions to commit themselves and their ways with patience and quietness unto God, upon the account of his power to preserve them as he is
the Creator of all, and his constancy in receiving of them, being present with them, abiding with them, as he is faithful in his word and promises. Yea, and the interpretation our author would have fixed on the expression here used is not only remote from the intendment of the place, turning that into a general good disposition towards all his creatures which is intimated for the peculiar support of believers, and that in their distress, but also is in itself a false, fond, and loose assertion. There is no law nor relation of creation that lays hold on God so far as to oblige him to the communication of one drop of his goodness to any of the creatures beyond what is given them by their creation, or to continue that unto them for one moment, all the dispensation of himself unto his creatures flowing from his sovereign good pleasure, doing what he will with his own.
2. He doth very faintly, when he hath made the farthest step in confident asserting that he dares venture upon (it may be, and it is most likely), suppose that the faithfulness of God in these places under consideration may be taken in such a sense as that before described. But,
(1.) This is no sense at all of the faithfulness of God, neither is the word ever used in Scripture to signify any such thing in God or man, nor can it with any tolerable sense be applied to any such thing; neither would there be any analogy between that which in God we call faithfulness and that virtue in man which is so termed. Nor is the faithfulness of God here mentioned upon any such account as will endure this description, being insisted on only to assure the saints of the steadfastness and unalterableness of God in the performance of his promises made to them; neither is the obligation of God to continue bis love and favour, with grace and means of it, to believers, founded upon such a disposition as is imagined, but in the free purpose of his will, which he purposed in Jesus Christ before the world was. So that there is not the least appearance of truth or soundness of reasoning, or any thing that is desirable, in this attempt to corrupt the word of God.
(2.) Then the faithfulness of God in the scriptures in hand bespeaks his truth and stability in the performance of his promises made of establishing believers to the end, keeping them from evil, not suffering any temptation to befall them, but making withal a way to escape. In all which God assures them he will prevent all such carelessness and negligence in them as is inconsistent with their establishment; which he will certainly accomplish.
And this is our major proposition, with its supplies of light and strength, freed from such exceptions as Mr G. supposes it liable unto.
For the assumption, I shall not much trouble myself with that ridiculous sense (called “a sober and orthodox explication") which Mr Goodwin is pleased to put upon it to allow it to pass current. “In this sense,” saith he, “it is most true that God hath promised that all believers shall persevere; that is, that all true believers formally considered, that is, as such and abiding such, shall persevere, namely, in his grace and favour:” but this he presumes is not our sense, chap. xi. sect. 2, p. 226. And well he may presume it; for, whatever his greatest skill may enable him unto, we can make no sense of it but this, “God hath promised believers shall persevere in case they persevere;" which is to us upon the matter no sense at all. To persevere in God's grace and favour is to continue in faith and obedience; which if men do, God hath solemnly promised and sworn that they shall so do! Certainly there is an orthodox sense in God's promises that is not nonsense. Be it granted, then, that this is not our sense, not so much because not ours as because not sense, what is our meaning in this proposition? “It is," saith Mr Goodwin, “ that God will so preserve believers that none of them shall make shipwreck of their faith, upon what quicksands of lust and sensuality soever they shall strike, against what rock of obduration and impenitency soever they dash.” But I beseech you, who told you that this was our sense of this proposition? being, indeed, no more sense than that which you give in for your own. By “striking on the quicksands of lust, and dashing upon rocks of sensuality, impenitency, and obduration,” you have in other places sufficiently explained yourself to intend their falling under the power of sin. And is this asserted by us to be the tenor of God's promises to believers, or is it not? or do you not know that it is not so? Did ever any say that God preserveth men in believing under obduration and impenitency?—that is, under unbelief; for no men can be obdurately impenitent but unbelievers. Do not you know that we maintain that the grace faithfully engaged to be bestowed on them is given them to this end, to preserve them from the power of sin, from obduration and impenitency, and shall certainly be effectual for that purpose?
“Prima est hæc ultio, quod se
Judice, nemo nocens absolvitur.”
PARTICULAR PROMISES ILLUSTRATED.
The former argument confirmed by an induction of particular instances—Joshua
i. 5 opened— The concernment of all believers in that promise proved by the apostle, Heb. xiii. 5.—The general interest of all believers in all the promises of God cleared_Objections answered—How Old Testament promises may be improved— The promise insisted on relates principally to spirituals The strength of it to the end intended-1 Sam. xii. 22, to whom the promise there is given—The twofold use of this promise: threats to wicked men of use to the saints; promises to the saints of use to wicked men—Isa. iv. 2-4,