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and I know them, and they follow me: and I unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand.”

In the verse foregoing, our Saviour renders a reason why the Pharisees, notwithstanding all his preaching to them and the miracles he wrought among them, yet believed not, when sundry others, to whom the same dispensation of outward means was afforded, did hear his voice and did yield obedience thereunto; and this he telleth us was because they were not of his sheep, such as were given him of his Father, and for whom, as the good Shepherd, he laid down his life, verses 14, 15. Upon the close of this discourse, he describeth the present condition of his sheep, and their preservation in that condition, from the power of himself and his Father engaged there

, unto. He layeth their abiding with him as his sheep upon the omnipotence of God; which, upon account of the constancy of his love towards them, he will exercise and exert as need shall be in their behalf. There are many emphatical expressions both of their continuance in the obedience of faith, and of his undertaking for their preservation therein. The latter I at present only intend. Saith be, 1. “I know them;" 2. "I give them eternal life;" 3. "They shall never perish;" 4. "No man shall pluck them out of my hand;" 5. “My Father is omnipotent, and hath a sovereignty over all, and he taketh care of them, and none shall take them out of his hand." It is not easy to cast these words into any other form of arguing than that wherein they lie, without losing much of that convincing evidence that is in them. This you may take for the sum of their influence into the truth in hand: Those whom Christ so owneth as to take upon him to give them eternal life, and by his power and the power of his Father to preserve them thereunto,—which power shall not, nor possibly can be, prevailed against, so that the end aimed at to be accomplished therein should not be brought about,—those shall certainly be kept for ever in the favour and love of God, they shall never be turned from him. Such is the case of all believers; for they are all the sheep of Christ, they all hear his voice and follow him

Some few things, to wrest this gracious assurance given believers of the everlasting good-will of God and Christ unto them, are attempted by Mr Goodwin, chap. x. sect. 37, p. 203.

1. He granteth that there is an engagement of the “mighty power of God for the safeguarding of the saints, as such or remaining such, against all adverse powers whatever, but nowhere for the compelling or necessitating of them to persevere and continue such is there any thing in the Scripture."

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Ans. The sum is, “If they will continue saints, God will take care that, notwithstanding all opposition, they shall be saints still.” Very well, if they will be so, they shall be so; but “that they shall continue to be so, that is not promised.” The terms of “compelling or necessitating” are cast in merely to throw dirt upon the truth, lest, the beauty shining forth too brightly, there might have been danger that the very exceptor himself could not have borne it. We say not that God by his power compelleth men to persevere; that is, maketh them do it whether they will or no. Perseverance being an habitual grace in their wills, it is a gross contradiction once to imagine that men should be compelled thereunto. But this we say, that, by the almighty power of his Spirit and grace, he confirmeth his saints in a voluntary abiding with him all their days. Having made them a willing people in the day of the power of Christ towards them, he preserveth them unto the end. Neither are they wrapped up by the power of God into such a necessity of perseverance as should obstruct the liberty of their obedience, the necessity that regardeth them in that condition respecting only the issue and end of things, and not their manner of support in their abiding with God. And it is not easy to conjecture why our author should so studiously avoid the grant of a promise of final perseverance in these words, who, in his next observation upon them, affirmeth that "they respect the state of the saints in heaven, and not at all those that are on earth;” I mean, that part of those words which expresseth their preservation and safeguarding by the power of God. So that this is fancied, perhaps, even to be the condition of the saints in heaven, that God will there preserve them whilst they continue saints, but that they shall so do there is not any assurance given or to be had. It is marvellous, if this be so, that in so large and vast a space of time we yet never heard of any of those holy ones that were cast out of his inheritance, or that forfeited his enjoyment. But let us hear what is farther asserted. He addeth, by way of answer,—

2. “The security for which our Saviour engageth the greatness of his Father's power unto his sheep is promised unto them, not in order to the effecting or procuring their final perseverance, but rather by way of reward to it.'

Ans. But what tittle is there, I pray you, in the whole context to intimate any such thing? what insinuation of any such condition? “They hear my voice, and they follow me;" that is, “They believe in me, and bring forth the fruits of their believing in suitable obedience,” as these words of “hearing” and “following” do imply. Saith our Saviour, “These shall not perish, the power of my Father shall preserve them.” “That is,” saith our author, “in case they persevere to the end, then God will preserve them.Clearly our Saviour undertaketh that believers shall not perish, and that his power and lus

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Father's are engaged for that end; which is all we assert or have need to do.

2. “That this promise of safety made to his sheep by Christ doth not relate to their state or condition in this present world, but to that of the world to come. My sheep hear my voice, and follow me;' in which words of hearing' and 'following' him he intimateth or includeth their perseverance, as appeareth by the words immediately following, ' And I give them eternal life.""

Ans. This, I confess, is to the purpose, if it be true; but being so contrary to what hath been (I had almost said universally) received concerning the mind of Christ in this place, we had need of evident concluding reasons to enforce the truth of this gloss or interpretation. For the present, I shall give you some few inducements or persuasions why it seemeth altogether unsuitable to the mind of our blessed Saviour, that this engagement of his Father's power and his own should be shut out from taking any place in the kingdom of grace:

1. Observe that there is a great opposition to be made against the saints in that condition wherein they are promised to be preserved. This is supposed in the words themselves: “None shall pluck them out of my hand. My Father is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand;" as if he should have said, “It is true, many enemies they have, great opposition will there be and arise against them on all hands, but preserved they shall be in the midst of them all.” But now, what enemies, what opposition, will there be and arise against the saints in heaven? The Holy Ghost telleth us, “ The last enemy is death," and that at the resurrection that shall be “utterly swallowed up in victory,” that it shall never lift up the head; there they rest from their labours who die in the Lord. Yea, it is exceeding ridiculous to suppose that the saints need assurance of the engagement of the omnipotency of God for their safeguarding in heaven against all opposition, when they are assured of nothing more than that there they shall not be liable to the least opposition or obstruction in their enjoyment of God unto all eternity.

2. Our Saviour here describeth the present condition of his sheep in a way of opposition to them that are not his sheep: his hear his voice, the others do not; and his shall be preserved when the others perish. The Pharisees believed not, and, as he told them, “they died in their sins;" his sheep heard him, and were preserved in their obedience. It is, then, evidently the deportment of Christ towards, and his care of, his sheep in this world, in a contradistinction to them who are not his sheep, among whom they live, that is here set forth.

3. The very context of the words enforceth this sense: “They follow me, and I give unto them eternal life;"_“I do it; that is the work I

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have in hand." Take “eternal life” in the most comprehensive sense, for that which is to be enjoyed in heaven (though, doubtless, it compriseth also the life of grace which here we enjoy, John xvii. 3), what is that which our Saviour undertaketh to give believers, and that they may be sure that they shall be preserved to the enjoyment of? When he telleth them they shall not perish, is that not perishing not to be cast out of heaven when they come thither,—not to be deprived of eternal life after they have entered into the fulness of it? or rather, that they shall not fail or come short of it, and so perish? And this is that which the power of Father and Son is engaged to accomplish,-namely, that believers perish not by coming . short of that eternal life which is the business of Christ to give unto them. If any one reason of weight or importance that hath the least pregnancy with truth be offered to the contrary, we shall renounce and shake off the power of the former reasons which we have insisted on; though without offering the greatest violence imaginable to truth itself it cannot be done. It is said that "by these words, "They hear my voice, and follow me,' Christ doth intimate or include their perseverance." To say a thing is "intimated or included” is of small power against so many express reasons as we have induced to the contrary. But will this be granted, that wherever the saints are said to hear the voice of Christ, perseverance is included ?we shall quickly have a fresh supply of Scripture proofs for the demonstration of the truth in hand. But what attempt is made for the proof hereof?

“ It is so because the words immediately following are, 'I give unto them eternal life,' which presuppose their final perseverance;" and this must be so, because it is so said. “I give unto them eternal life," is either an intimation of what he doth for the present, by giving them a spiritual life in himself, or a promise he will do so with respect to eternal life consummated in heaven, which promise is everywhere made upon believing; and it is a promise of perseverance, not given upon perseverance. Neither is there any thing added in the

words following to confirm this uncouth wresting of the mind of our Saviour, but only the assertion is repeated, “ that God will defend them in heaven against all opposition." Here, where their oppositions are innumerable, they may shift for themselves; but when they come to heaven, where they shall be sure to meet with no opposition at all, there the Lord Hath engaged his almighty power for their safety against all that shall rise up against them. And this is, as is said, the "natural and clear disposition of the context in this place;” but “Nobis non licet," etc.

There are sundry other texts of Scripture which most clearly and evidently confirm the truth we have in hand, which are all well worth our consideration for our consolation and establishment, as also something of our labour and diligence, to quit them from those

glosses and interpretations (which turn them aside from their proper intendment) that are by some put upon them; amongst which, 1 Cor. i. 8, 9; Phil. i. 6; 1 Thess. v. 24; John v. 24, ought to have place. But because I will not insist long on any particulars of our argument from the promises of God, here shall be an end.



The consideration of the oath of God deferred—The method first proposed some

what waived— The influence of the mediation of Christ into God's free and unchangeable acceptance of believers proposed—Reasons of that proposalOf the oblation of Christ-Its influence into the saints' perseverance- All causes of separation between God and believers taken away thereby—Moral and efficient causes thereby removed—The guilt of sin, how taken away by the death of Christ Of the nature of redemption-Conscience of sin, how abolished by the sacrifice of Christ-Heb. x. 3, 4, 14; Dan. ix. 24 opened Rom. viii. 34, deliverance from all sin, how by the death of Christ—The law innovated in respect of the elect—The vindictive justice of God satisfied by the death of Christ_How that is done_Wherein satisfaction doth consist; absolute, not conditional – The law, how fulfilled in the death of brist The truth of God thereby accomplished; his distributive justice engaged Observations for the clearing of the former assertions—Whether any one for whom Christ died may die in sin—The necessity of faith and obedience The reasons thereof—The end of faith and holiness – The first argument for the proof of the former assertions concerning the fruit and efficacy of the death of Christ, Heb. ix. 14— The second— The third—

The compact between the Father and Son about the work of mediation—The fourth—Good things bestowed on them for whom Christ died antecedently to any thing spiritually good in them— The Spirit so bestowed, and faith itself—The close of those arguments Inferences from the foregoing discourse—The efficacy of the death of Christ, and the necessity of faith and obedience, reconciled—Sundry considerations unto that end proposed: 1. All spiritual mercies fruits of the death of Christ; 2. All the fruits of Christ's death laid up in the hand of God's righteousness; 3. The state of them for whom Christ died not actually changed by his death; 4. On what account believing is necessary—Christ secures the stability of the saints' abiding with God—What is contrary thereunto; how by him removed— The world overcome by Christ, as managed by Satan in an enmity to the saints—The complete victory of Christ over the devil — The ways whereby he completes his conquest-The rule of Satan in respect of sinners twofold: 1. Over them; 2. In them—The title of Satan to a rule over men judged and destroyed by Christ—The exercise of all power taken from him— The works of Satan destroyed by Christ in and for his elect - The Holy Spirit procured by the death of Christ–The giving of the Spirit the great promise of the new covenant—This farther proved and confirmedThe perpetual residence of the Holy Spirit with believers proved by the threefold testimony of Father, Son, and Spirit-Isa. lix. 21, the testimony of the Father proposed and vindicated_Our argument from hence farther cleared - This promise absolute, not conditional-No condition rationally to be affixed

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