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Title: A Body of Divinity, Vol. 3 (of 4)
Author: Ridgley, Thomas
Language: English
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                           A Body of Divinity

                          A BODY OF DIVINITY:



                        BY THOMAS RIDGLEY, D. D.

                       BY JAMES P. WILSON, D. D.

                            IN FOUR VOLUMES.

                              _VOL. III._



                            SECOND STREETS.



QUEST. LXV, LXVI. Of the benefits which the invisible church enjoy by

_What these benefits are_, _Page_ 9

    _Union with Christ, and Communion in grace and glory_ 10

_Union with Christ illustrated_ 11

    _by a conjugal union in particular_ 12

_The elect united to Christ_ 13

    _In their effectual calling_ 15

QUEST. LXVII, LXVIII. Of effectual calling.

The Gospel-call _described_ 16

    _Its difference from effectual calling_ _ibid._

    _How far improved without special grace_ 20

    _A note_ 19

    _Not saving without it_ 20

    _Its efficacy depends on the power of God_ 39

    _Its issue and consequence_ 26

_Offers of grace explained_ 16

    _God’s design therein_ _ibid._

_Effectual calling_ 39

    _A work of almighty power_ 40

    _A work of grace_ 59

    _Wrought by the Spirit_ 54

        _This doctrine does not savour of enthusiasm_ 55

        _Objections answered_ _ibid._

    _His work internal and super-natural_ 57

        _Objections answered_ 58

    _God’s power and grace irresistible_ 61

    _The seasons of effectual calling_ 63

    _The state of man before and after it_ 28

    _The_ Pelagians’ _notion of it_ 30

        _Their account of conversion absurd_ 31

_The nature of human liberty_ 34

_In what respects the will acts freely_ 35

    _In what not_ _ibid._

_Regeneration before faith_ 26

    _How it differs from conversion_ _ibid._

    _A note_ 38

    _A principle of grace implanted therein_ 46

    _A note_ 45

    _Whether good works prepare for it_ 51

        _Scriptures thought to prove this explained_ 52

    _Man merely passive therein_ 48

    _But active after it_ 49

QUEST. LXIX. Of Communion with Christ in _grace_ 65

QUEST. LXX, LXXI. Of Justification _ibid._

_Justification. Its importance_ 66

    _Wherein it consisteth_ 67

    _The privileges contained in it_ 69

    _Pardon and eternal life connected_ 69

    _Privileges attending it_ 72

    _Its foundation_ 73

    _Considered as an act of free-grace_ 74

    _Note on righteousness_ 74

    _Man cannot work out a righteousness for it_ 75

_Forgiveness of sin explained_ 70

_Christ our surety_ 77

    _He suffered and obeyed as such_ 77

    _Properties of a surety applied to him_ 78

    _The Father accepted him as such_ 79

    _What he did as a surety_ 81

    _His righteousness imputed for our justification_ 86

_God provided a surety_ 95

    _Note on imputation_ 85, 94

    _We could not have provided one for ourselves_ 96

QUEST. LXXII, LXXIII. Of justifying Faith.

_Justifying faith, a note_ 98

_Justification is by Faith_ 99

        _This not rightly explained by some_ 104

        _Explained agreeably to scripture_ 106

    _It cannot be before Faith; how_ 117

    _It cannot be by works_ 101

        _Not by repentance_ 101

_A full price required by justice_ 103

    _Forgiveness free, notwithstanding_ 115

_God reconciled, not made reconcileable by Christ’s death_ 114

_Faith, its various kinds_ 121

    _Of the Faith of miracles_ 122

    _Of an historical Faith_ 124

    _Of a temporary Faith_ 124

_Saving Faith explained_ 125

    _Other graces are joined with it_ 99

    _But that alone justifies_ _ibid._

    _How it justifies a sinner_ 98

    _A note_ 110

    _It brings in a plea_ 107

        _What it pleads_ _ibid._

    _How imputed for righteousness_ 112

    _Its various objects and acts_ 125

    _A note_ 126

        _By Faith we receive Christ_ 127

        _And give up ourselves to him_ 129

        _What this supposes_ 130

    _A note_ 128

    _Its assent and trust considered_ 119

        _Of trust in Christ_ 121

    _Its direct and reflex acts_ 132

    _When strong, when weak_ 135

    _Its use in the conduct of life_ 138

    _How it works in common actions_ 138

        _How in religious duties_ 140

    _How it excites other graces_ 141

    _How to be attained and increased_ 142

    _How wrought by the word_ 134

QUEST. LXXIV. Of Adoption 148

_This Adoption differs from Man’s_ 145

    _What is understood by sons of God_ 144

_Believers God’s sons in Christ_ 146

    _Their privileges as such_ 147

    _Privileges consequent upon Adoption_ 149

_How it agrees with justification_ 151

    _How with sanctification_ 152

QUEST. LXXV. Of Sanctification 152

_The meaning of the word Sanctify_ 152

    _In Sanctification the soul devoted to God_ 154

        _And sin mortified_ _ibid._

_Proper means of mortification_ 155

    _Wrong methods taken for it_ 159

    _Vivification, what it imports_ 159

_Holiness, motives to it_ 160

    _How it differs from moral virtue_ 161

_Heathens have, in some things, excelled Christians_ 163

    _And yet were not sanctified_ _ibid._

_Practical inferences from Sanctification_ 165

QUEST. LXXVI. Of Repentance unto life 166

    _Repentance what, a note_ 167

    _The subjects of it_ 167

    _It is the work of the Holy Spirit_ 169

        _How wrought by the word_ 169

    _It differs from a legal Repentance_ 172

    _Its various acts_ 173

    _Inferences from this doctrine_ 175

QUEST. LXXVII. Wherein Justification and Sanctification differ 176

QUEST. LXXVIII. Of the Imperfection of Sanctification in this life 178

_The proof of this Imperfection_ 179

_Why Sanctification not perfected at once_ 182

_Wherein this Imperfection appears_ 183

_The conflict of a renewed soul_ 186

    _Of an enlightened conscience_ 184

    _Of the spirit against the flesh_ 187

        _How this is maintained_ 188

_Consequences when sin prevails_ 190

_Inferences from this Imperfection_ 192

QUEST. LXXIX. Of the saints Perseverance in Grace 194

_This doctrine explained_ 197

        _Preferable to the contrary_ 195

    _The Father and the Son glorified by it_ 216

    _The saints kept by God’s power_ 199

_This doctrine proved_

    _From God’s unchangeable love_ 201

    _From the covenant of Grace_ 202

    _From the promises_ 203

        _An objection answered_ 204

    _From the saints union to Christ_ 207

    _From Christ’s intercession_ 209

    _From the Spirit’s indwelling_ 210

    _From_ 2 Tim. ii. 19. 217

_How the saints cannot sin_ 212

_The principle of Grace ever abides_ 213

_Shipwreck made of doctrines_ 218

    _Not of the Grace of faith_ 219

_Objections answered, taken_

    _From instances of apostacy_ 220

        Solomon’s _case cleared_ 221

        _He was a true penitent_ 222

        _Therefore no apostate_ 224

    _From the apostacy of_ Judas 225

        _And of the_ Jewish _church_ 226

    _From the parable of the debtor_ 238

    _From_ Ezek. xviii. 24. 227

        Heb. x. 38. 229

        Chap. vi. 4-6. 232

        Chap. x. 29. 234

        2 Pet. ii. 20-22. 237

        1 Cor. ix. 27. 240

_Inferences from the saints’ Perseverance_ 241

QUEST. LXXX. Of Assurance of Salvation 243

_What we are to understand by it_ 243

        _It is attainable in this life_ 245

    _Without extraordinary revelation_ 247

_The Spirit promised, to give it_ 250

        _In an ordinary way_ 251

    _How it arises from his witness_ 266

_This doctrine savours not of Enthusiasm_ 252

_To whom assurance belongs_ 253

    _The means of attaining it_ 254

    _Self examination a duty_ 256

        _How to be performed_ _ibid._

_Rule for trying marks of grace_ 259

    _Uncertain marks of grace_ 260

    _True marks of grace_ 262

_What they must do who know not the time of their conversion_ 263

QUEST. LXXXI. Some true believers destitute of Assurance 268

_What Assurance essential to faith_ 270

    _And what not so_ _ibid._

_Texts relating to this explained_ 271

_Assurance may be long waited for_ 272

    _Lost by manifold distempers_ 273

        _By sins and temptations_ 274

_Deserted believers want Assurance_ 276

    _Yet supported by God_ _ibid._

_Inference from this subject_ 278

QUEST. LXXXII, LXXXIII. Of Communion in glory with Christ enjoyed in
this life 279

_Saints have an earnest of glory_ 280

_Wherein this consisteth_ 283

_Of the vision of God by faith_ 284

_The triumphant death of some saints_ 285

_Sinners filled with wrath here_ 288

    _Inferences from those terrors_ 290

        _And from the saints present joy_ 291


_Death, the appointment of God_ 293

    _Redounds to the saints advantage_ 297

    _Its empire universal_ 294

    _Its time uncertain_ 295

    _Its sting is sin_ 297

    _How it should be improved_ 295

    _Its effects on the Spirit, a note_ 300

QUEST. LXXXVI. Of the saints Communion with Christ in glory after death

_Of the immortality of the soul_ 302

    _How this is to be understood_ _ibid._

    _Asserted by some Heathens_ 303

    _Denied or questioned by others_ 304

    _Proved from scripture_ 307

    _Objections answered_ 310

_A note_ 311

_The saints perfected at death_ 312

_Of purgatory_ 313

    _No proof for it in scripture_ 314

_Heaven the only paradise after death_ 316

_Of the soul’s sleeping at death_ 318

    _How this notion is explained_ 320

        _How to be opposed_ _ibid._

    _Proved to be false from scripture_ 321

_The soul, at death, waits for the full redemption of the body_ 324

_The miseries which the souls of the wicked shall then endure_ 325

QUEST. LXXXVII. Of the doctrine of the Resurrection 326

_The Resurrection not contrary to reason_ 328

    _Clearly revealed in scripture_ 329

_Fabulous accounts, by Heathens, of persons raised from the dead_ 330

    _Certain accounts of it in scripture_ 330

_The Resurrection proved_

    _From the Old Testament_ 332

        _An emblem of it in_ Ezek. xxxvii. 1, _& seq._ 335

    _From_ Job xix. 25-27. 337

    _From_ Chap. xiv. 13-15. 339

    _From_ Dan. xii. 2. 340

        _The_ Jews _belief of it_ 335

        Abraham’s _belief of it_ 341

    _From the New Testament_ 342

    _From scripture-consequences_ 345

    _From Christ’s dominion_ 346

    _Objections answered_ 348

_The Resurrection universal_ 353

    Jews _speak obscurely of it_ 355

_The saints shall be raised in glory_ 356

    _How raised by the Spirit_ 357

_The saints found alive at Christ’s coming shall be changed_ 356

QUEST. LXXXVIII. Of the general and final Judgment 359

_A sense of it impressed on conscience_ 360

    _Christ shall be the Judge_ 362

    _The solemnity of his appearing_ 363

    _The manner of his proceeding_ 367

_The persons to be judged_ 365

    _Fallen angels, and all men_ 366

_The place of Judgment_ 372

    _The time of it_ 373

    _The matter of it_ 369

_Whether the sins of the saints shall be published_ 371

_Practical inferences_ 374

QUEST. LXXXIX. Of the Punishment of the wicked 376

_The punishment of sin in hell_ 377

    _Of loss, and sense_ 378

    _Its degree and duration_ 379

_How these subjects should be insisted on_ 381

QUEST. XC. Of the Privileges and Honours of the saints at the last day

_They shall be acknowledged and acquitted_ 383

    _They shall judge the world, and angels_ 384

    _What meant thereby; quære tamen._ _ibid._

_They shall be received into heaven_ 387

_Whether known to one another there_ 393

_They shall be freed from sin and misery_ 388

    _Made perfectly happy_ 389

    _And joined with angels_ _ibid._

_Their happiness shall be eternal_ 399

_Of the language of heaven_ 390

_Of the beatific vision and fruition of God_ 399

_A note_ 394, 397

_Of degrees of the heavenly glory_ 399

_Whether any additions shall be made thereunto_ 399

_Inferences from the heavenly happiness_ 403


    _Of man’s obligation to obedience_ 405

    _Note on the foundation of moral obligation_ 405

        _God’s revealed will a law_ 408

QUEST. XCIII, XCIV, XCV, XCVI, XCVII. Of the Moral Law 409

_What it is_ 410

    _What obedience it requires_ 411

_Its sanction_ 412

_Its use to all men_ 413

    _To the unregenerate_ 414

    _To the regenerate_ 415

Antinomians, _who are such_ 418

_Unguarded expressions hurtful_ 420

QUEST. XCVIII. The Moral Law, where summarily comprehended 421

_Of the law given from mount_ Sinai 421

    _Of the judicial law_ 422

    _Of the ceremonial law_ 423

_Holy places, with the vessels thereof_ 424

_Of ministers in holy things_ 426

_Of holy times or festivals_ 427

QUEST. XCIX. Rules for the understanding the Ten Commandments 428 to 431

QUEST. C, CI, CII. The Sum of the Ten Commandments 432

_The preface to them_ 432

_Their division into two tables_ 433

_Remarks on their subject-matter_ 434

_The sum of the first four_ _ibid._

QUEST. CIII, CIV. The Duties required in the First Commandment 435 to

QUEST. CV, CVI. The Sins forbidden in the First Commandment 438

_Of atheistical thoughts_ 439

_Of idolatry. The origin of it_ 443

_Of heart-idolatry_ 447

    _In idolizing self_ _ibid._

    _In loving the world_ 448

    _In regarding the dictates of Satan_ 449

_Of the case of the witch of_ Endor 451

Joseph _no sorcerer_ 452

Moses _no astrologer_ 454

    _But learned in all the wisdom of_ Egypt _ibid._

QUEST. CVII, CVIII, CIX, CX. An Explication of the Second Commandment

_The duties required_ 456

_The sins forbidden_ 459

_The reasons annexed_ 465

_Of Popish superstition_ 460

    _Of making to ourselves images_ 461

    _Of image-worship and idolatry_ 462

    _The Papists guilty of both_ _ibid._

QUEST. CXI, CXII, CXIII, CXIV. An Explication of the Third Commandment

_The duties required in it_ 468

_The sins forbidden in it_ 469

_The reasons annexed to it_ 476

_Of religious oaths_ 472

    _Various forms used therein_ 471

    _Swearing by God’s Name a duty_ 470

_Of profane oaths and curses_ 470

_When God’s Name is taken in vain_ 473

QUEST. CXV, CXVI. An Explication of the Fourth Commandment 477

_The sabbath. Its original institution_ 482

                _A note_ _ibid._

        _In what respect moral_ 478

            _In what positive_ 479

    _Its morality proved_ 480

        _Objections answered_ 481

    _Was no ceremonial institution_ 481

    _Its change proved_ 486

        _From the example of Christ_ 488

_Objections answered_ 488

    _From the practice of the Apostles_ 491

    _And of the Christian church_ 494

_The proportion of time to be observed_ 495

QUEST. CXVII, CXVIII. Of sanctifying the Sabbath or Lord’s-day 497

_The duties preparatory for it_ 497

_The rest required upon that day_ 500

    _Works of necessity then lawful_ 502

_The whole day to be sanctified_ 505

_The duties of the evening of that day_ 506

QUEST. CXIX, CXX, CXXI. Of Sins forbidden in the Fourth Commandment 508

    _The omission of holy duties_ 509

    _A careless performance of them_ _ibid._

_The reasons annexed to this Commandment_ 510

    _Objections answered_ 511

_The import of the word_ Remember 512

    _Inferences_ 513

QUEST. CXXII. The Sum of the six Commandments, respecting our duty to
man; or, of doing as we would be done by 514

the Fifth Commandment 517

_Relations, how founded_ 518

        _Duties of each differ_ _ibid._

    _Superiors, why called fathers_ _ibid._

_Duties of inferiors to superiors_ 520

    _Of children to parents_ _ibid._

    _Of servants to masters_ 523

    _Of subjects to magistrates_ 525

_The necessity and advantage of civil government_ 524

_Papists arguments for deposing princes, answered_ 526

_The sins of inferiors_ 529

_&c._ 530

_The duties of parents to their children_ 531

    _Of masters to servants_ 533

    _Of magistrates to subjects_ 534

_The sins of superiors_ _ibid._

_The duties of equals_ 535

_The sins of equals_ 536

_Reasons annexed to this Commandment_ _ibid._

_Of the promise of long life_ 537

    _Old age how far to be desired_ 538

QUEST. CXXXVII, CXXXV, CXXXVI. An Explication of the Sixth Commandment

_The life of others to be preserved_ 540

    _When lawful to take it away_ 541

_Of duels_ 542

Elijah _not guilty of murder_ 543

    _Nor_ Abraham _in offering_ Isaac 544

    _Nor_ Moses _in killing the_ Egyptian 545

_Self-murder a great sin_ _ibid._

    _Whether_ Samson _was guilty of it_ 546

_God’s judgments on murderers_ 547

_Sinful anger is heart-murder_ 548

_Passionate men, their sin and guilt_ 549

    _How to be dealt with_ 550


                           Quest. LXV., LXVI.

    QUEST. LXV. _What special benefits do the members of the invisible
    church enjoy by Christ?_

    ANSW. The members of the invisible church, by Christ, enjoy union
    and communion with him in grace and glory.

    QUEST. LXVI. _What is that union which the elect have with Christ?_

    ANSW. The union which the elect have with Christ, is the work of
    God’s grace, whereby they are spiritually and mystically, yet really
    and inseparably joined to Christ, as their head and husband, which
    is done in their effectual calling.

We have, in the foregoing part of this work, considered man as made
upright at first; but not continuing in that state, plunged into those
depths of sin and misery, which would have rendered his state altogether
desperate, without the interposition of a Mediator; whose designation to
this work, his fitness for, and faithful discharge thereof, have been
particularly considered in several foregoing answers, wherein we have
had an account of his Person as God-man; his offices of Prophet, Priest,
and King, his twofold estate, to wit, of humiliation and exaltation; and
the benefits which accrue to the church thereby. This church has also
been considered as _visible_ or _invisible_; and the former of these, as
enjoying many privileges which respect, more especially, the ordinary
means of salvation.

We are now led to consider the benefits which the members of the
_invisible_ church, to wit, the whole number of the elect, who have
been, are, or shall be gathered into one, under Christ, their head,
enjoy by him. And these are contained in two general heads; namely,
union and communion with him in grace and glory; which comprise in them
the blessings of both worlds, as the result of their relation to, and
interest in him. First, they are united to him, and then made partakers
of his benefits. All grace imparted to us here, is the result thereof;
as the apostle says, _Of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made
unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption_,
1 Cor. i. 30. And elsewhere our Saviour says, _He that abideth in me,
and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit_, John xv. 5. And the
contrary hereunto is inconsistent with the exercise of any grace:
_Without me ye can do nothing_.

Moreover, that communion which the saints have with Christ in glory,
whereby they who are brought to a state of perfection, participate of
those graces and comforts which flow from their continued union with
him; and the first fruits, or foretastes of glory, which they have in
this world, are also founded on it. Thus the apostle calls Christ in his
people, _The hope of glory_, Colos. i. 27. and speaking of his giving
eternal life to them, he considers them as being _in his hand_, from
whence _none shall pluck them out_, John x. 28. or separate them from
him. So that they shall enjoy everlasting happiness with him, inasmuch
as they shall _be found in him_, Phil. iii. 9. which leads us more
particularly to consider,

What this union with Christ is. The scripture often speaks of Christ’s
being, or abiding in his people, and they in him; and assigns it as an
evidence of their interest in the blessings he has purchased for them:
and, indeed, it is from hence that all internal and practical godliness
is derived.

This privilege argues infinite condescension in him, and tends to the
highest advancement of those who are the subjects thereof. Now that we
may understand what is intended thereby, let us take heed that we do not
include in it any thing that tends to extenuate it on the one hand; or
to exalt those who are made partakers of it above the station or
condition into which they are brought thereby, on the other.

It is not sufficient to suppose that this union contains in it no more
than that his people have the same kind of nature with him, as being
made _partakers of flesh and blood_; he having _himself taken part of
the same_, Heb. ii. 14. He is indeed allied to us, as having all the
essential perfections of our nature: and this was an instance of
infinite condescension in him, and absolutely necessary to our
redemption: nevertheless, this similitude of nature; abstracted from
other considerations, accompanying or flowing from his incarnation,
contains in it no other idea of union, between Christ and his people,
than that which they have with one another; nor is it a privilege
peculiar to believers, since Christ took on him the same human nature
that all men have, though with a peculiar design of grace to those whom
he came to redeem. This I the rather take notice of, because the
Socinians, and others, that speak of this privilege, inasmuch as it is
often mentioned in scripture, appear to have very low thoughts of it,
when they suppose nothing more than this to be intended thereby.

Again, this union includes in it more than what is contained in that
mutual love that is between Christ and believers, in that sense in which
there is an union of affection between those who love one another; as it
is said, _The soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David; and
Jonathan loved him as his own soul_, 1 Sam. xviii. 1. In which respect
believers are united to one another; or, as the apostle expresses it,
their hearts are _knit together in love_, Col. ii. 2. _being like
minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind_, Phil.
ii. 2. or, as he adds, _Let this mind also be in you, which was also in
Christ Jesus_, ver. 5. I say it includes more than this, which is rather
the fruit and consequence of our union with Christ, than that wherein it
principally consists.

Moreover we must take heed that we do not, in explaining this union
between Christ and believers, include more in it than what belongs to
creatures infinitely below him, to whom they are said to be united:
therefore we cannot but abhor the blasphemy of those who speak of an
essential union of creatures with God; or, as though they had hereby
something derived to them in common with Christ the great Mediator.[1]

But passing by this method of accounting for the union between Christ
and believers, there are two senses in which it is taken in scripture;
one is, that which results from Christ’s being their federal head,
representative, or surety; having undertaken to deal with the justice of
God in their behalf, so that what he should do, as standing in this
relation to them, should be placed to their account, as much as though
it had been done by them in their own persons: this is what contains in
it their concern in the covenant of grace, made with him in their
behalf; of which something has been said under a foregoing answer;[2]
and it is the foundation of their sins being imputed to him, and his
righteousness to them; which will be farther considered, when we treat
of the doctrine of justification under a following answer.[3]

Therefore this union with Christ, which is mentioned in the answer we
are now explaining, is of another nature, and, in some respects, may be
properly styled a _vital union_, as all spiritual life is derived from
it; or a _conjugal union_, as it is founded in consent, and said to be
by faith. Now there are two things observed concerning it.

1. It is expressed by our being spiritually and mystically joined to
Christ: it is styled a _spiritual_ union, in opposition to those gross
and carnal conceptions which persons may entertain concerning things
being joined together in a natural way; and, indeed, whatever respects
salvation is of a spiritual nature.

It is moreover called a _mystical_ union, which is the word most used by
those who treat on this subject; and the reason is, because the apostle
calls it _a great mystery_, Eph. v. 32. by which we are not to
understand the union there is between man and wife, as contained in the
similitude by which he had before illustrated this doctrine, as the
Papists pretend,[4] but the union that there is between Christ and his
church. And it is probably styled _a mystery_, because it could never
have been known without divine revelation: and as Christ’s
condescension, expressed herein, can never be sufficiently admired; so
it cannot be fully comprehended by us. This is such a nearness to him,
and such a display of love in him _as passeth knowledge_. However, there
are some similitudes used in scripture to illustrate it. As,

(1.) The union that there is between the _vine_ and the _branches_, John
xv. 1, 2, 5. whereby life, nourishment, growth and fruitfulness are
conveyed to them: in like manner all our spiritual life together, with
the exercise and increase of grace, depend on our union with, abiding
in, and deriving what is necessary thereunto, from him.

(2.) It is also compared to the union there is between the _head_ and
_members_, as the apostle farther illustrates it, when he styles _him
the head, from which all the body, by joints and bands, having
nourishment ministered, and knit together, increaseth with the increase
of God_, Col. ii. 19. which is a very beautiful similitude, whereby we
are given to understand, that as the head is the fountain of life and
motion to the whole body, as the nerves and animal spirits take their
rise from thence, so that if the communication that there is between
them and it, be stopped, the members would be useless, dead, and
insignificant: so Christ is the fountain of spiritual life and motion,
to all those who are united to him.

(3.) This union is farther illustrated, by a similitude taken from that
union which there is between the foundation and the building; and
accordingly Christ is styled, in scripture, _the chief corner stone_,
Eph. ii. 20. and a _sure foundation_, Isa. xxviii. 16. And there is
something peculiar in that phrase which the apostle uses, which is more
than any similitude can express; when he speaks of Christ as the _living
stone_, or rock, on which the church is built; and of believers, as
_lively stones_, 1 Pet. ii. 4, 5. to denote, that they are not only
supported and upheld by him, as the building is by the foundation, but
enabled to put forth living actions, as those whose life is derived from
this union with him.

(4.) There is another similitude taken from that nourishment which the
body receives, by the use of food; and therefore our Saviour styles
himself the _bread of life_, or the _bread which cometh down from
heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die_; and proceeds to speak
of his _giving his flesh for the life of the world_; and adds, _he that
eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him_,
John vi. 48-56.

(5.) There is another similitude, by which our being united to Christ by
faith, is more especially illustrated, taken from the union which there
is between man and wife; accordingly this is generally styled, a
conjugal union, between Christ and believers. Thus the prophet says,
_Thy Maker is thine Husband, the Lord of hosts is his name; and thy
Redeemer, the holy One of Israel_, Isa. liv. 5. And the apostle,
speaking of a man’s _leaving his father and mother, and being joined
unto his wife, and they two being one flesh_, Eph. v. 31, 32. applies
it, as was before observed, to the union that there is between Christ
and the church; and adds, that _we are members of his body, of his
flesh, and of his bones_, ver. 30. which expression, if not compared
with other scriptures, would be very hard to be understood; but it may
be explained by the like phraseology, used elsewhere. Thus, when God
formed Eve at first, and brought her to Adam, and thereby joined them
together in a conjugal relation: he says upon this occasion, _This is
now bone of my bone, and flesh of my flesh_, Gen. ii. 23. And we find
also, that other relations, which are more remote than this, are
expressed by the same mode of speaking. Thus Laban says to Jacob,
_Surely thou art my bone and my flesh_, Gen. xxix. 14. And Abimelech
pleading the relation he stood in to the men of Shechem, as a pretence
of his right to reign over them, tells them, _I am your bone and your
flesh_, Judges ix. 2. Therefore the apostle makes use of the same
expression, agreeably to the common mode of speaking used in scripture,
to set forth the conjugal relation which there is between Christ and

The apostle, indeed, elsewhere alters the phrase, when he says, _He that
is joined to the Lord is one Spirit_, 1 Cor. vi. 17. which is so
difficult an expression, that some who treat on this subject, though
concluding that there is in it something that denotes the intimacy and
nearness of this union, and more than what is contained in the other
phrase, of their _being one flesh_, nevertheless, reckon it among those
expressions which are inexplicable; though I cannot but give into the
sense in which some understand it; namely, that inasmuch as the same
Spirit dwells in believers that dwelt in Christ, though with different
views and designs, they are hereby wrought up, in their measure, to the
same temper and disposition; or as it is expressed elsewhere, _The same
mind_ is in them _that_ was _in Christ_, Phil. ii. 5. which is such an
effect of this conjugal relation that there is between him and them, as
is not always the result of the same relation amongst men. The reason
why I call this our being united to Christ, by faith, is because it is
founded in a mutual consent; as _the Lord avouches them_ on the one
hand, _to be his people_, so they, on the other hand, _avouch him to be
their God_, Deut. xxvi. 17, 18. the latter of which is, properly
speaking, an act of faith; whereby they give up themselves to be his
servants, to all intents and purposes, and that for ever.

It is farther observed in this answer. That union with Christ is a work
of God’s grace: this it must certainly be, since it is the spring and
fountain from whence all acts of grace proceed; and indeed, from the
nature of the thing, it cannot be otherwise: for if there be a wonderful
instance of condescending grace in God’s conferring those blessings that
accompany salvation; this may much more be deemed so. If Christ be
pleased to _dwell_ with, and _in_ his people, and to _walk_ _in_ them, 2
Cor. vi. 16. or as it is said elsewhere, to _live in them_, Gal. ii. 20.
as a pledge and earnest of their being forever with him in heaven; and
if, as the result hereof, they be admitted to the greatest intimacy with
him; we may from hence take occasion to apply what was spoken by one of
Christ’s disciples, to him, with becoming humility and admiration; _how
is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world?_
John xiv. 22. Is it not a great instance of grace, that the Son of God
should make choice of so mean an habitation, as that of the souls of
sinful men; and not only be present with, but united to them in those
instances which have been before considered?

2. It is farther observed in this answer, that we are united to Christ
in effectual calling; which leads us to consider what is contained in
the two following answers.

Footnote 1:

  _The first that seems to use this unsavoury mode of speaking, is
  Gregory Nazianzen; who did not consider how inconsistent some of those
  rhetorical ways of speaking, he seems fond of, are with that doctrine,
  which, in other parts of his writings, he maintained. Those words_
  Χριστοποιειν, _and_ θεοποιειν, _which he sometimes uses to express the
  nature, or consequence of this union between Christ and believers, are
  very disgustful. In one place of his writings, (Vid. ejusd. Orat. 41.)
  exhorting Christians to be like Christ, he says, That because he
  became like unto us_, γενωμεθα Θεοι δι αυτον, efficiamur Dii propter
  ipsum; _and elsewhere, (in Orat. 35. de Folio.) he says_, Hic homo
  Deus effectus postea quam cum Deo coaluit ἱνα γενωμαι τοσουτον θεος
  ὁσον εκ εινοc ανθρωπος εγενηθη, ut ipse quoque tantum Deus efficiar
  quantum ipse homo. _And some modern writers have been fond of the same
  mode of speaking, especially among those who, from their mysterious
  and unintelligible mode of expressing themselves, have rather exposed
  than defended the doctrines of the gospel. We find expressions of the
  like nature in a book put forth by Luther, which is supposed to be
  written by Taulerus, before the Reformation, called Theologia
  Germanica, and some others, since that time, such as Parcelsus,
  Swenckfelt, Weigelius, and those enthusiasts, that have adhered to
  their unintelligible and blasphemous modes of speaking._

Footnote 2:

  _See Vol. II. Quest. 31. page 167._

Footnote 3:

  _Quest. 70._

Footnote 4:

  _This is the principal, if not the only scripture, from which they
  pretend to prove marriage to be a sacrament, and they argue thus. The
  Greek church had no other word to express what was afterwards called a
  sacrament by the Latin church, but_ μυστηριον, a mystery: _therefore
  since the apostle calls marriage, as they suppose, a mystery, they
  conclude that it is a sacrament; which is a very weak foundation for
  inserting it among those sacraments which they have added to them that
  Christ had instituted; for the sacraments are no where called
  mysteries in scripture: and therefore we are not to explain doctrines
  by words which were not used till some ages after the apostles’ time:
  and if there were any thing in their argument_, viz. _that that which
  is called a mystery in scripture, must needs be a sacrament, it does
  not appear that the apostle calls marriage_ a great mystery, _but the
  union that there is between Christ and his church; as he expressly
  says in the following words_; I speak concerning Christ and the

                         Quest. LXVII., LXVIII.

    QUEST. LXVII. _What is effectual calling?_

    ANSW. Effectual calling is the work of God’s almighty power and
    grace; whereby, out of his free and special love to his elect, and
    from nothing in them moving him thereunto, he doth, in his accepted
    time, invite and draw them to Jesus Christ by his word and Spirit,
    savingly enlightening their minds, renewing, and powerfully
    determining their wills; so as they, although in themselves dead in
    sin, are hereby made willing and able, freely to answer his call,
    and to accept and embrace the grace offered and conveyed therein.

    QUEST. LXVIII. _Are the elect effectually called?_

    ANSW. All the elect, and they only, are effectually called; although
    others may be, and often are, outwardly called by the ministry of
    the word, and have some common operations of the Spirit; who, for
    their wilful neglect and contempt of the grace offered to them,
    being justly left in their unbelief, do never truly come to Jesus

We have, in these answers, an account of the first step that God takes,
in applying the redemption purchased by Christ; which is expressed, in
general, by the word _calling_; whereby sinners are invited, commanded,
encouraged, and enabled, to come to Christ, in order to their being made
partakers of his benefits: the apostle styles it an _high_, _holy_, and
_heavenly calling_, Phil. iii. 14. 2 Tim. i. 9. Heb. iii. 1. and a being
_called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord_, 1 Cor. i.
8. Herein we are _called out of darkness into his marvellous light_, 1
Pet. ii. 9. and _to his eternal glory by Jesus Christ_, chap. v. 10.
And, indeed, the word is very emphatical: For,

1. A call supposes a person to be separate, or at a distance from him
that calls him; and it contains an intimation of leave to come into his
presence. Thus, in effectual calling, he who was departed from God, is
brought nigh to him. God, as it were, says to him, as he did to Adam,
when flying from him, and dreading nothing so much as his presence, when
apprehending himself exposed to the stroke of his vindictive justice,
_Where art thou?_ Gen. iii. 9. which is styled, _God’s calling unto
him_. Or, it is like as when a traveller is taking a wrong way, and in
danger of falling into some pit, or snare; and a kind friend calls after
him to return, and sets him in the right way: thus God calls to sinners,
or says, as the prophet expresses it; _Thine ears shall hear a word
behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it; when ye turn to the
right hand, and when ye turn to the left_.

2. Herein God deals with men as reasonable creatures; which is by no
means to be excluded from our ideas of the work of grace; though this
work contain in it some superior, or supernatural methods of acting, in
order to bring it about; yet we may be under a divine influence, as
turning to God, or effectually called by him, and accordingly acted by a
supernatural principle; and at the same time our understandings, or
reasoning powers, not rendered useless, but enlightened or improved
thereby; by which means, every thing that we do, in obedience to the
call of God, appears to be most just and reasonable. This gives no
ground for any one to conclude, that, according to our method of
explaining this doctrine, we lay ourselves open to the absurd
consequence fastened upon it; as though God dealt with us as stocks and
stones: but more of this may be considered under a following head.

We now proceed, more particularly, to consider the subject-matter of
these two answers; wherein we have an account of the difference between
the _external_ call of the gospel, which is explained in the latter of
them, and the _internal_, saving, and powerful call, which is justly
termed _effectual_; and is considered in the former of them. And,

_First_, Concerning the outward and common call, together with the
persons to whom it is given; the design of God in giving it, and also
the issue thereof, with respect to a great number of those who are said
to be called.

The reason why we choose to insist on this common call, in the first
place, is because it is antecedent, and made subservient to the other in
the method of the divine dispensation; inasmuch as we are first favoured
with the word and ordinances, and then they are made effectual to

1. Therefore we shall consider what we are to understand by this common

It is observed, that it is by the ministry of the word, in which Christ
is set forth in his person and offices, and sinners are called to come
to him; and in so doing, to be made partakers of the blessings which he
has purchased. This is the sum and substance of the gospel-ministry; and
it is illustrated Matt. xxii. 1, & _seq._ by the parable of the
_marriage-feast_, which the _king made for his son, and sent his
servants_; by which is signified gospel-ministers, to _call_ or invite,
and therein to use all persuasive arguments to prevail with persons to
come to it: this is styled their being _called_. And the observation
made on persons refusing to comply with this call, when it is said,
_Many are called, but few are chosen_, ver. 14. plainly intimates, that
our Saviour here means no other than a common or ineffectual call. And
in another parable it is illustrated by an _householder’s hiring
labourers into his vineyard_, Matt. xx. 1, & _seq._ at several hours of
the day: some were hired early in the morning, at the _third hour_;
others at the _sixth_ and _ninth_; which denotes the gospel-call, that
the Jewish church had to come to Christ before his incarnation, under
the ceremonial law; and others were hired at the _eleventh_ hour,
denoting those who were called, at that time, by the ministry of Christ
and his disciples: that this was only a common and external call, is
evident, not only from the intimation that they, who had _borne the
burden and heat of the day_; that is, for many ages had been a
professing people, _murmured_, because others, who were called at the
eleventh hour, had an equal share in his regard; but also from what is
expressly said, (the words are the same with those wherewith the other
parable before-mentioned, is closed) _Many are called, but few are
chosen_, ver. 16.

Moreover, the apostle intends this common call, when he speaks of some
who have been _called into the grace of Christ_; not called by the power
and efficacious grace of Christ, as denoting that the call was
effectual; but called, or invited to come and receive the grace of
Christ; or called externally, and thereby prevailed on to embrace the
doctrine of the grace of Christ: these are said to be _soon removed unto
another gospel_, Gal. i. 6. And elsewhere, chap. v. 7. he speaks of
some, who, when _the truth_, or the doctrines of the gospel, were first
presented to them, expressed, for a time, a readiness to receive it;
upon which account he says, _Ye did run well_, or, ye began well; but
yet they did not afterwards yield the obedience of faith, to that truth
which they seemed, at first, to have a very great regard: upon which
occasion the apostle says, _This persuasion cometh not of him that
calleth you_, ver. 8.

They who express some regard to this call, are generally said to have
_common_ grace, as contradistinguished from others, who are under the
powerful, and efficacious influences of the Spirit, which are styled
_special_. The former of these are oftentimes under some impressive
influences by the common work of the Spirit, under the preaching of the
gospel; who, notwithstanding, are in an unconverted state; their
consciences are sometimes awakened, and they bring many charges and
accusations against themselves; and from a dread of the consequences
thereof, abstain from many enormous crimes, as well as practise several
duties of religion; they are also said to be made partakers of some
great degrees of restraining grace; and all this arises from no other
than the Spirit’s common work of conviction; as he is said, _to reprove
the world of sin_, John xvi. 8.

These are styled, in this answer, the common operations of the Spirit:
they may be called operations, inasmuch as they contain in them
something more than God’s sending ministers to address themselves to
sinners, in a way of persuasion or arguing; for, the Spirit of God deals
with their consciences under the ministry of the word. It is true, this
is no more than common grace; yet it may be styled the Spirit’s work:
for though the call be no other than common, and the Spirit considered
as an external agent, inasmuch as he never dwells in the hearts of any
but believers, yet the effect produced, is internal in the mind and
consciences of men, and, in some degree, in the will; which is almost
persuaded to comply with it. These operations are sometimes called the
Spirit’s _striving with man_, Gen. vi. 3. but inasmuch as many of these
internal motions are said to be resisted and quenched, when persons
first act contrary to the dictates of their consciences, and afterwards
wholly extinguish them; therefore the Spirit’s work in those whom he
thus calls, is not effectual or saving; these are not united to Christ
by his Spirit, nor by faith; and this is generally styled common grace,
in speaking to which, we shall consider,

(1.) That there are some things presented to us, in an objective way,
which contain the subject matter of the gospel, or that call, which is
given to sinners to pursue those methods, which, by divine appointment,
lead to salvation. As _faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word
of God_, Rom. x. 17. so do common convictions, and whatever carries in
it the appearance of grace in the unregenerate. In this respect God
deals with men as intelligent creatures, capable of making such
improvement of those instructions and intimations, as may tend, in many
respects, to their advantage. This must be supposed, or else the
preaching of the gospel could not be reckoned an universal blessing to
them who are favoured with it, abstracting from those saving advantages
which some are to receive hereby. This is here called the grace which is
offered to them, who are outwardly called, by the ministry of the word.

Offers of grace, and invitations to come to Christ, are words used by
almost all who have treated on this subject: though some, of late, have
been ready to conclude, that these modes of speaking tend to overthrow
the doctrine we are maintaining; for they argue to this purpose; that an
overture, or invitation, supposes a power in him to whom it is given to
comply with it. Did I think this idea necessarily contained in these
words, I should rather choose to substitute others in the room of them:
however, to remove prejudices, or unjust representations, which the use
thereof may occasion, either here or elsewhere, I shall briefly give an
account of the reason why I use them, and what I understand thereby. If
it be said, This mode of speaking is not to be found in scripture; this,
it is true, should make us less tenacious of it. Nevertheless, it may be
used without just offence given, if it be explained agreeably
thereunto.[5] Therefore let it be considered,

(2.) That the presenting an object, whatever it be, to the understanding
and will, is generally called, an _offering_ it; as God says to David,
from the Lord; _I offer thee three things, choose thee one of them_, &c.
1 Sam. xxiv. 12. So if God sets before us life and death, blessing and
cursing, and bids us choose which we will have; this is equivalent to
what is generally called, an offer of grace.

And as for invitations to come to Christ, it is plain, that there are
many scriptures that speak to that purpose; namely, when it is said, _In
the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried,
saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink_, John vii.
37. And, _Ho every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters_, Isa. lv.
1. And elsewhere Christ says, _Come unto me all ye that labour, and are
heavy laden, and I will give you rest_, Matt. xi. 28. And, _Let him that
is athirst come; and whosoever will, let him take of the water of life
freely_, Rev. xxii. 17.

(3.) When an offer, or invitation to accept of a thing, thus objectively
presented to us, is made, it always supposes the valuableness thereof;
and how much it would be our interest to accept of it; and that it is
our indispensable duty so to do; which are the principal ideas that I
intend, in my sense of the word, when I speak of offers of grace in the
gospel, or invitations to come to Christ. Nevertheless, taking them in
this sense, does not necessarily infer a power in us to accept them,
without the assistance of divine grace: thus it may be said, that Christ
came into the world to save sinners; and that he will certainly apply
the redemption, which he has purchased, to all, for whom this price was
given; and also, that a right to salvation is inseparably connected with
faith and repentance; and that these, and all other graces are God’s
gifts; and that we are to pray, wait, and hope for them, under the
ministry of the word; and if we be, in God’s own time and way, enabled
to exercise these graces, this will be our unspeakable advantage: and
therefore it cannot but be our duty to attend upon God in all his holy
institutions, in hope of saving blessings: these things may be done; and
consequently the gospel may be thus preached, without supposing that
grace is in our own power: and this is what we principally intend by
gospel-overtures or invitations.

(4.) Nevertheless we cannot approve of some expressions subversive of
the doctrine of special redemption, how moving and pathetic soever they
may appear to be; as when any one, to induce sinners to come to Christ,
tells them, that God is willing, and Christ is willing, and has done his
part, and the Spirit is ready to do his; and shall we be unwilling, and
thereby destroy ourselves? Christ has purchased salvation for us: the
Spirit offers his assistances to us; and shall we refuse these
overtures? Christ invites us to come to him, and leaves it to our
free-will, whether we will comply with, or reject these invitations: he
is, at it were, indeterminate, whether he shall save us or no, and
leaves the matter to our own conduct; we ought therefore to be persuaded
to comply with the invitation. This method of explaining offers of
grace, and invitations, to come to Christ, is not what we intend when we
make use of these expressions.

2. We are now to consider the persons to whom this common call is given.
It is indefinite, not directed only to the elect, or those, with respect
to whom God designs to make it effectual to their salvation; for,
according to the commission which our Saviour gave to his apostles, the
gospel was to be preached to all nations, or to every creature in those
places to which it was sent: and the reason of this is obvious; namely,
because the counsel of God, concerning election, is secret, and not to
be considered as the rule of human conduct; nor are they, whom God is
pleased to employ in preaching the gospel, supposed to know whether he
will succeed their endeavours, by enabling those who are called, to
comply with it.

3. We shall now shew how far the gospel-call may, without the superadded
assistance of special grace, be improved by men, in order to their
attaining some advantage by it, though short of salvation: this may be
done in two respects.

(1.) Gross enormous crimes may hereby be avoided: this appears in many
unconverted persons, who not only avoid, but abhor them; being induced
hereunto by something in nature that gives an aversion to them. And it
may be farther argued, from the liableness of those who commit them, to
punishment in proportion to their respective aggravations; which must
either suppose in man, a power to avoid them: or else, the greatest
degree of punishment would be the result of a necessity of nature, and
not self-procured by any act of man’s will; though all suppose the will
to be free, with respect to actions that are sinful. It would be a very
poor excuse for the murderer to allege, that he could not govern his
passion, but was under an unavoidable necessity to take away the life of
another. Shall the man that commits those sins, which are contrary to
nature, say, That his natural temper and disposition is so much inclined
thereunto, that he could, by no means, avoid them? If our natural
constitution be so depraved and vitiated, that it leads us, with an
uncommon and impetuous violence, to those sins that we were not formerly
inclined to: whence does this arise, but from the habits of vice, being
increased by a wilful and obstinate continuance therein, and many
repeated acts which they have produced? and might not this, at least, in
some degree, have been avoided? We must distinguish between habits of
sin, that immediately flow from the universal corruption of nature, and
those that have taken deeper root in us, by being indulged, and exerting
themselves, without any endeavours used, to restrain and give a check to

And if it be supposed that our natures are more habitually inclined to
sin than once they were, might we not so far use the liberty of our
wills, as to avoid some things, which, we are sensible, will prove a
temptation to those particular acts thereof; whereby the corruption of
nature, that is so prone to comply with it, might be in some measure,
restrained, though not overcome: this may be done without converting
grace; and consequently some great sins may be avoided. To deny this,
would be not only to palliate, but open a door to all manner of

(2.) Man has a power to do some things that are materially good; though
not good in all those circumstances in which actions are good that
accompany or flow from regenerating grace. Ahab’s humility, 1 Kings xxi.
29. and Nineveh’s repentance, Jonah iii. 5. and seq. arose from the
dread they had of the divine threatenings; which is such an inducement
to repentance and reformation, as takes its rise from nothing more than
the influence of common grace. Herod himself, though a vile person,
_feared John, knowing that he was a just man and an holy: and when he
heard him, did many things, and heard him gladly_, Mark vi. 20. And the
Gentiles are said to _do by nature, the things_; that is, some things
_contained in the law_; insomuch that _they are a law unto themselves_,
Rom. ii. 14. Therefore they did them by the influence of common grace.
And these things, namely, abstaining from grosser sins, and doing some
actions materially good, have certainly some advantage attending them;
as thereby the world is not so much like hell as it would otherwise be:
and as to what respects themselves, a greater degree of punishment is
hereby avoided.

3. We are now to consider the design of God in giving this common call
in the gospel, which cannot be the salvation of all who are thus called:
this is evident; because all shall not be saved; whereas, if God had
designed their salvation, he would certainly have brought it about;
since his purpose cannot be frustrated. To say that God has no
determinations relating to the success of the gospel, reflects on his
wisdom: and to conclude that things may happen contrary to his purpose,
argues a defect of power; as though he could not attain the ends he
designed: but this having before been insisted on, under the heads of
election and special redemption, I shall pass it by at present, and only
consider, that the ends which God designed in giving the gospel, were
such as were attained by it, namely, the salvation of those who shall
eventually be saved, the restraining of those who have only common
grace, and the setting forth the glorious work of redemption by Jesus
Christ; which, as it is the wonder of angels, who desire to look into
it; so it is hereby designed to be recommended as worthy of the highest
esteem, even in those who cast contempt on it: and hereby they are
convicted, who shut their eyes against, and neglect to behold that
glorious light which shines so brightly therein.

_Object._ To this it is objected, that if Christ invites and calls men
to come to him, as he often does in the New Testament; and when they
refuse to do it, mentions their refusal with a kind of regret; as when
he says, _Ye will not come to me, that ye might have life_, John v. 40.
this, they suppose, is no other than an insult on mankind, a bidding
them come without the least design that they should; as if a magistrate
should go to the prison door, and tell the unhappy man, who is not only
under lock and key, but loaded with irons, that he would have him leave
that place of misery and confinement, and how much he should rejoice, if
he would come out; and upon that condition, propose to him several
honours that he has in reserve for him: this, say they, is not to deal
seriously with him. And if the offer of grace in the gospel, answers the
similitude, as they suppose it exactly does, then there is no need for
any thing farther to be replied to it; the doctrine confutes itself; as
it argues the divine dealings with men illusory.

_Answ._ This similitude, how plausible soever it may appear to be to
some, is far from giving a just representation of the doctrine we are
maintaining: for when the magistrate is supposed to signify his desire
that the prisoner would set himself free, which he knows he cannot do;
hereby it is intimated, that though God knows that the sinner cannot
convert himself, yet he commands him to do it, or to put forth
supernatural acts of grace, though he has no principle of grace in him:
but let it be considered, that this God no where commands any to do.[6]
Our Saviour intends as much as this, when he speaks of the _tree’s being
made good_, before the fruit it produces can be so, Matt. xii. 33. or
that it is impossible for _men to gather grapes of thorns, or figs of
thistles_, chap. vii. 17. implying, that there must be an internal
disposition wrought, before any acts of grace can he put forth: this is
supposed in the preaching of the gospel, or the call to sinners to
repent and believe, which they have no reason to conclude that they can
do without the aids of divine grace, and these they are to wait, pray
and hope for, in all God’s instituted methods.

Moreover, as for those promises which are made to us, if we would
release ourselves from the chains of sin, and the account given, how
much God would rejoice in our being set free, when the thing is, in
itself, impossible; this is no otherwise true than as it contains a
declaration of the connexion there is between conversion and salvation,
or freedom from the slavery of sin, and God’s conferring many spiritual
honours and privileges on those who are converted; not that it does, in
the least, denote that it is in our own power to convert ourselves: but
that this may be more clearly understood, we shall consider it with
relation to the two branches before mentioned, and so speak of God,
either as commanding, calling, and inviting men to do what is out of
their power, namely, to repent, and believe; or else, as holding forth
promises of that salvation which they shall not attain; because these
graces are out of their power, which contains the substance of what is
usually objected against the doctrine we are maintaining, by those who
are on the other side of the question; who suppose that this method of
procedure is illusory, and therefore unbecoming the divine perfections.

1. Concerning God’s commanding, calling, and inviting men to do what is
out of their own power; as for instance, bidding a dead man to arise, or
one that is blind to see, or those that are shut up in prison, to come
out from thence. This is to be explained, and then, perhaps, the
doctrine we are maintaining, will appear to be less exceptionable. We
have, elsewhere, in defending the head of particular redemption, against
an objection not much unlike to this, considered how Christ is said to
be offered in the gospel,[7] or in what sense the overture may be said
to be made to all that are favoured with it; and yet the efficacy
thereof, only extend to those whom Christ has redeemed, and shall be
effectually called. But that we may a little farther explain this
matter, let us consider,

(1.) That the gospel contains a declaration, that God designs to save a
part of this miserable world; and, that in subserviency thereunto, he
has given them a discovery of Christ, as the object of faith, and the
purchaser and author of salvation.

(2.) He does not therein give the least intimation to any, while in a
state of unregeneracy, that they shall be enabled to believe: and, as
the consequence thereof, be saved. Their names, characters, or places of
abode, or their natural embellishments, who shall attain this privilege,
are no where pointed at in scripture; nor is the book of God’s secret
purpose, concerning election to eternal life, opened, so as that any one
can discern his name written in it, before he be effectually called; for
we have no warrant to look any farther than God’s revealed will, which
assigns no evidence of our interest in the saving blessings of the
gospel, till they are experienced by us, in this effectual call.

(3.) God plainly discovers to men, in the gospel, that all those graces,
which are inseparably connected with salvation, are his work and gift,
and consequently out of their own power; or that _it is not of him that
willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy_, Rom.
ix. 16. Therefore he no where tells the man, who _is tied and bound with
the chain of his sin_, that he is able to set himself free; but puts him
upon expecting and praying for it, from the _pitifulness of his great
mercy_. He no where tells him, that he can implant a principle of
spiritual life and grace in himself; or that he ought so much as to
attempt to do any thing to atone for his sins, by his obedience and
sufferings, but suggests the contrary, when he says, _Surely, shall one
say, in the Lord have I righteousness and strength_, Isa. xlv. 24.

(4.) He gives none the least ground to expect, or lay claim to
salvation, till they believe; and as faith and salvation are both his
gifts, he puts them upon seeking, and desiring them, in their respective
order; first grace, and then glory.

(5.) The gospel-call is designed to put men upon a diligent attendance
on the ordinances, as means of grace, and to leave the issue and success
thereof to God, who _waits that he may be gracious_; that so his
sovereignty may appear more eminently in the dispensing this privilege;
and, in the mean time, assigns it as their duty to _wait for him_, chap.
xxx. 18. And while we are engaged in this duty, we are to acknowledge,
that we have nothing that can give us any right to this privilege. So
that God might justly deny success to his ordinances. Nevertheless, if
he is pleased to give us, while we are attending on them, those earnest
desires of their being made effectual to our conversion and salvation,
we may conclude this to be a token for good, that he designs us some
special advantage thereby; and we do not know but that even this desire
of grace may be the beginning of the Spirit’s saving work, and therefore
an earnest of his carrying it on.

(6.) When God commands persons, in the gospel, to do those things which
cannot be performed without his special grace, he sometimes supposes
them, when he gives forth the command, to have a principle of spiritual
life and grace, which is, in effect to bid one that is made alive, to
put forth living actions; which respect, more especially, the progress
of grace after the work is begun; in which sense I understand those
words of the apostle, _Work out your salvation with fear and trembling;
for it is God which worketh; that is, hath wrought, in you both to will
and to do, of his good pleasure_, Phil. ii. 12.

2. If we consider the gospel as holding forth promises of salvation,
when, at the same time, it is not in our power to exercise those graces
that accompany it; which gives farther occasion to those that except
against the doctrine we are maintaining, to conclude, that it represents
God as offering those blessings which he does not design to bestow: This
may give us occasion to explain what we mean, when we consider salvation
as offered in the gospel; whereby we understand nothing else but a
declaration, that all who repent and believe, shall be saved; which
contains a character, or description of the persons who have ground to
expect this privilege: not that salvation is founded on dubious and
uncertain conditions, which depend upon the power and liberty of our
will; or impossible conditions; as though God should say, if man will
change his own heart, and work faith, and all other graces in himself,
then he will save him: but all that we mean by it is, that those graces,
which are inseparably connected with salvation, are to be waited for in
our attendance on all God’s ordinances, and when he is pleased to work
them, then we may conclude, that we have a right to the promise of
salvation. Thus concerning the gospel-call, what it is, how far it may
be improved by those who are destitute of special grace, and what is
God’s design in giving it: we now proceed to consider,

3. The issue and consequence thereof, as it is farther observed in this
answer, that many wilfully neglect, contemn, or refuse to comply with
it, with respect to whom it is not made effectual to their salvation.
This appears from the report that Christ’s disciples brought to him,
concerning the excuses that many made when called to come to the
marriage feast, in the parable: One pretended, that he had _bought a
piece of ground, and must needs go see it_; and another, that he had
_bought five yoke of oxen, and_ must _go to prove them_; and another
_had married a wife, and_ therefore _could not come_. It is elsewhere
said, that _they all made light of it, and went their ways; one to his
farm, another to his merchandise; and the remnant took his servants, and
entreated them spitefully, and slew them_, Luke xiv. 18-20. compared
with Matt. xxii. 5, 6.

And the prophet introduces our Saviour himself as complaining, _I have
laboured in vain, I have spent my strength for nought_, Isa. xlix. 4, 5.
And the reason hereof is, because Israel is _not gathered_; which words
are to be understood in a comparative sense, as denoting the fewness of
those who complied with his gracious invitations, to come to him, or
were convinced, by the miracles which he wrought to confirm his

This is also farther evident, from the small number of those who are
effectually prevailed upon under the gospel dispensation, which the
apostle calls _the grace of God that brings salvation, that hath
appeared to all men, teaching them to deny all ungodliness and worldly
lusts; and to live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present
world_. And also, from the great opposition and hatred, which many
express to the person of Christ, who is the subject matter thereof;
which the prophet not only relates, as what was observed in his day, but
foretells, that in after-ages, a great part of mankind would not believe
the report made concerning him; but that he should be _despised and
rejected of men_, who would _hide_, as it were, _their faces from him_,
and _not esteem him_, Isa. liii. 1, 3. This is certainly the highest
contempt of the gospel; for it is an undervaluing the greatest
privileges, as though they were not worthy to be embraced, desired, or
sought after; and inasmuch as this is wilful, arising from the enmity of
the will of man against God, and the method of salvation which he has
prescribed therein, it has a tendency to provoke his wrath; so that
being justly left in their unbelief, they will not come to Christ, that
they may have life. And as they are judicially left to themselves, they
contract a greater degree of alienation from, and averseness to God, and
so never truly come to Jesus Christ; which is an awful and tremendous

This is the consequence of it, with respect to those who have only this
common call; and therefore we must not conclude, that it is sufficient
to salvation, unless there be an internal effectual call; and what this
is, will be considered under our next head; but before we enter thereon,
it is necessary for us to enquire, whether all, at least, those who sit
under the sound of the gospel, have sufficient grace given them, so as
that, by their own conduct, without the internal powerful influences of
the Spirit, they may attain to salvation. This argument is much insisted
on by those who adhere to the Pelagian scheme; and therefore we cannot
wholly pass it over: and for our setting this matter in a just light,
let it be considered; that every one must allow, that all who sit under
the sound of the gospel, have sufficient objective grace, or sufficient
external means, to lead them in the way of salvation; for to deny this,
would be to deny that the gospel is a perfect rule of faith: this
therefore is allowed on both sides; and we think nothing more is
intended, when God says, concerning the church of the Jews, _What could
have been done more to my vineyard, that I have not done in it_, Isa. v.

But the question is, whether there be a sufficiency of power, or ability
in man; so that without the internal efficacious grace of God,
determining and inclining the will, to make a right improvement of it,
it may be sufficient to the salvation of those to whom it is given? This
is what we cannot but deny. Now, that the external means of grace are
not rendered effectual to the salvation of all who are favoured with
them, is evident; because, as was but now observed, many neglect and
contemn the gospel: and as to others who improve it, so that the means
of grace become effectual, it must be enquired; what it is that makes
them so? How comes it to pass, that the preaching thereof is styled, to
some, a savour of life, to others, a savour of death? The answer which
the Pelagians give to this, is, that they, in whom it is effectual,
render it so, by their improving the liberty of their will; so that they
choose what is represented in the gospel, as eligible, and refuse the
contrary. And if the question be asked, who maketh thee to differ from
another? they have, when disposed to speak agreeably to their own
scheme, this answer ready at hand, I make myself to differ; that is as
much as to say, I have a natural power of improving the means of grace,
without having recourse to God for any farther assistance, in a
supernatural way.

It may easily be observed, that this supposition is greatly derogatory
to the glory of God; and renders all dependance on him, both to will and
to do, unnecessary: It supposes that we have sufficient ability to work
those graces in ourselves that accompany salvation; otherwise it is not
sufficient to salvation; and therefore it is contrary to all those
scriptures which speak of them as the work, or the effect of the
exceeding greatness of the power of God: which leads us to consider,

_Secondly_, The doctrine of effectual calling, as contained in the
former of the answers, which we are explaining; in which we may observe,

I. The character of those who are effectually called antecedent
thereunto. They have nothing that can recommend them to the divine
favour; for being considered as fallen, guilty creatures, they are not
only unable to make atonement for sin, but to do what is spiritually
good: thus the apostle represents them, _as without strength_, Rom. v.
6. which is the immediate consequence of man’s first apostacy from God;
and universal experience, proves that we have a propensity to every
thing that is evil, which daily increases: And to this we may add, that
the mind is blinded, the affections stupified, the will full of
obstinacy, the conscience disposed to deal treacherously, whereby we
deceive ourselves; so that the whole soul is out of order. The apostle
speaks of man _by nature_, as _dead in trespasses and sins, walking
according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the
power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of
disobedience; having their conversation in the lusts of the flesh,
fulfilling the desires of the flesh, and of the mind_, Eph. ii. 1-3. And
the prophet speaks of the _heart_ of man, as being _deceitful above all
things, and desperately wicked_, Jer. xvii. 9. And the apostle describes
some as ‘walking in the vanity of their mind, having the understanding
darkened, being alienated from the life of God, through the ignorance
that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart; who being past
feeling, have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all
uncleanness with greediness,’ Eph. iv. 17-19. and others, as being
‘filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness,
maliciousness, full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity,
whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters,
inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, without understanding,
covenant-breakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful,’
Rom. i. 29-31. This, indeed, is spoken of the Gentiles, who were
destitute of the means of grace, and had contracted greater degrees of
impiety than many others; but they, who are effectually called, would
have run into the same abominations, their natures being equally
inclined thereunto, without preventing grace; as some of the church of
Corinth are said to have done before their conversion, whom he speaks of
as once having been ‘unrighteous, fornicators, idolaters, adulterers,
effeminate, abusers of themselves with mankind, thieves; covetous,
drunkards, revilers, extortioners,’ 1 Cor. vi. 9, 10, 11. And elsewhere
he says, ‘We ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient,
deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy,
hateful, and hating one another,’ Tit. iii. 3. And the obstinacy and
perverseness of men, going on in a course of sin, is so great, that God
reproves a professing people, by telling them, that _their neck was as
an iron sinew, and their brow brass_, Isa. xlviii. 4. Thus they were,
before he _refined_ and _chose_ some of _them, in the furnace of
affliction_, ver. 10. From hence it evidently appears, that men are not
naturally inclined to comply with the gospel-call; but this is a
privilege conferred on them, when, by the Spirit, it is made effectual
to their salvation.

_Objec._ It is objected, to what has been said concerning persons being
dead in sin, before they are effectually called; that that is no other
than a metaphorical expression; and therefore the sense thereof is not
to be strained so far as to suppose from hence, that they are altogether
without a power to do that which is spiritually good.

_Answ._ When the state of men, before they are effectually called,
is styled, a death in sin, which is a metaphorical expression, we
must suppose, that there is a sense affixed to it, which, in some
respects, is adapted to those ideas that we have of the word. If
scripture-metaphors prove nothing, because the words are transferred
from their literal sense to some other that is intended thereby, we
shall be at the greatest loss to understand many important doctrines
contained in the sacred writings, which abound very much with such
modes of speaking. We do not suppose the metaphor to be extended so
far, as that a person, dead in sin, is incapable of acting, as
though he was a stock or a stone, the contrary to which is evident,
from what has been before said concerning the power which they, who
are in an unregenerate state, have of doing things materially good;
but we are now considering men as unable to do what is good in all
its circumstances, which may render their actions the object of the
divine approbation, as agreeable to God’s revealed will; and this,
we suppose, an unregenerate person is as unable to do, as a dead man
is to put forth living actions; and the reason is, because he is
destitute of a supernatural principle of spiritual life. Scripture
and experience, not only evince the weakness, blindness, and
disinclination of such, to what is good, but their averseness to it:
So that whatever we do, either in the beginning or progress of the
life of faith, must proceed from a renewed nature, or a supernatural
principle implanted in the soul; which is sometimes called, a _new
heart_, Ezek. xxxvi. 26. a _divine nature_, 2 Pet. i. 4. as well as
a quickening, or being raised from the dead. This leads us to

II. The change that is wrought in this effectual calling, together with
the grounds we have to conclude, that it is a supernatural work, or, as
it is styled in this answer, the work of God’s almighty power and grace.
Those whom we more especially oppose in this head of argument, are the
Pelagians, and others; who, though in some things they seem to recede
from them, yet cannot support their cause without giving into their
scheme, when treating on the subjects of free-will, nature and grace:
these all allow that there is a change made in conversion or effectual
calling; but they suppose that it is a change in man’s natural temper
and disposition, rather than what arises from a supernatural principle,
which, according to them, consists in overcoming those habits of sin,
which we have contracted, and acquiring habits of virtue, a ceasing to
do evil, and learning to do well; and that it is in their own power
supposing the concurrence of God as a God of nature, or at least, some
superadded assistances, from the external dispensations of providence,
which have an influence on the minds of men, to produce this change; by
this means they think that grace is first attained, and we disposed to
comply with the external call of the gospel, whereby it is rendered

They sometimes indeed, use the word conversion, and speak of the power
and grace of God herein; and that they may not seem to detract from the
glory thereof, they profess themselves to adore and magnify God as the
author of this work; but all this amounts to no more than nature acting
under the influence of common providence. Something, indeed, they
ascribe to God; but much less than what we think the scripture does.

That which they ascribe to him therein, is,

1. That he has made man an intelligent creature, having a power capable
of choosing whatever seems advantageous, or refusing what appears to be
destructive to him; and in order hereunto, he is able to discern, what
is his duty and interest; and when the will duly attends to these
dictates of the understanding, it has a power inclining it to be
influenced thereby, and embrace whatever overtures are made conducive to
his future happiness.

2. Whereas the understanding and reasoning powers and faculties, are
oftentimes impaired and hindered, in their method of acting, by some
accidental inconveniences of nature, such as the temperament of the
body, or those diseases which it is sometimes liable to, which affect
the mind; these God, by his powerful providence, removes, or fences
against, that the work may go on successfully.

3. Sometimes our outward circumstances in the world, give a different
turn to our passions, and hinder us from entertaining any inclinations
to religion; therefore, they suppose, that there is a farther hand of
providence in ordering the various changes or conditions of life, as to
what concerns the prosperous or adverse circumstances thereof, whereby a
sanguine temper is changed to that which has more of a melancholy or
thoughtful disposition in it, more inclined to be afraid of those sins
that are like to be prejudicial to him; an angry and choleric temper,
changed to another that has a greater mixture of meekness and humility;
and whatever hinderance may arise from his conversing with those who
tempt him to lay aside all thoughts about religion, or by loading it
with reproach, to make him ashamed to pretend to it, the providence of
God so orders circumstances and things, as to make them unacceptable to
him, or him disinclined to converse with them: by this means there
arises a congruity, as they call it, between men’s natural dispositions
and that grace which they are called, by the gospel, to exert, when they
are persuaded to comply with it, without which the overture would be in

4. Providence farther performs its part, by over-ruling some concurring
circumstances external to, and thought of, by him, in casting his lot
among those who are able and desirous to persuade him to alter his
sentiments, in matters of religion whose industry and zeal for his good,
accompanied with their skilfulness in managing those persuasive
arguments used to convince him, have a great tendency to prevail upon
him; hereby he is persuaded to give the hearing to that which before he
despised, and made the subject of ridicule; and sometimes the motives
and inducements that are used, accompanied with the pathetic way of
address, in those whose ministry he attends on, is very conducive to
answer the end attained thereby, namely, his conviction and altering his
conduct of life, pursuant thereunto; all which is under the unforeseen
direction of providence.

5. They add, that there is a kind of internal work in exciting the
passions, by a general influence upon them, leaving it, notwithstanding,
in man’s power to determine them, with respect to their proper objects;
and as for the will, that still remains free and unbiassed; but by this
moral suasion, or these rational arguments, it is prevailed upon to
comply with that which is for its advantage. According to this method of
accounting for the work of conversion, what they attribute to the grace
of God, is nothing more than what is the result of common providence;
and it is supposed to act no otherwise than in an objective way; and
that which gives the turn to all is, the influence of moral suasion,
whereby men are prevailed on; but in all these respects, they are only
beholden to God, as the God of nature: and when this is called, by them,
a display of divine grace, nature and grace, in this matter, are made to
signify the same thing, without scripture warrant.

Moreover, since, it is plain, all this may be done, and yet persons
remain in an unconverted state, and the gospel-call be ineffectual, they
suppose there is something to be performed on man’s part, which gives a
sanction to, and completes the work: accordingly he must rightly use and
improve the power of reasoning, which God has given him, by diligently
observing and attending to his law; and he must persuade himself, that
it is highly reasonable to obey it; and must also duly weigh the
consequence of his compliance or refusal, and endeavour to affect
himself with the consideration of promised rewards and punishments, to
excite his diligence, or awaken his fears; and must make use of those
motives that are proper to induce him to lead a virtuous life; and when
he is brought to conclude this most eligible, then he must add hereunto,
the force of the strongest resolutions, to avoid occasions of sin,
perform several necessary duties, and associate himself with those whose
conversation and example may induce him to be virtuous; he must attend
on the word preached, with intenseness of thought, and a disposition to
adhere, with the greatest impartiality, to what is recommended to him
therein, as conducive to his future happiness: by this means he is
persuaded; and from thence proceed those acts of grace, which
afterwards, by being frequently repeated, arrive to a habit, which, if
it be not lost by negligence, stupidity, and impenitency, or adhering to
the temptations of Satan, being brought into a state of conversion, he
is in a fair way to heaven, which, notwithstanding this, he may of by
apostasy, since the work is to be carried on by him, as it was at first
begun, by his own conduct.

This account of effectual calling or conversion, supposes it to be
little more than a work of common providence; and all the grace they
seem to own, is nothing more than nature exerting itself under the
conduct of those reasoning powers which God has given it. None pretend
to deny that our reasoning powers are herein to be exerted and improved;
or that those arguments, which tend to give conviction, and motives to
enforce obedience, must be duly attended to: neither do we deny that
there is a kind hand of providence seen in over-ruling our natural
tempers and dispositions, in giving a check to that corruption that is
prevalent in us; and in rendering our condition of life, some way or
other conducive to a farther work, which God designs to bring about. We
also assert, that providence greatly favours us in bringing us under the
means of grace, or casting our lot in such places where we have the
advantages of the conversation and example of others, who are burning
and shining lights in their generation; nor is it less seen in adapting
a suitable word to our condition, or in raising our affections, while
attending to it: but all this falls very short of effectual calling, as
it is a display of God’s power and grace. This work is no more than
natural; whereas conversion is a supernatural work. Hitherto we may be
led by common grace; but effectual calling is a work of special grace;
the effect of this is only a change of life: but we assert, and have
scripture ground for it, that there is in that a change of heart. This
scheme supposes the very principle and spring of grace to be acquired by
man’s improving his natural powers, under the conduct of God’s
providence: whereas, we suppose, and shall endeavour to prove, under a
following head, that it is not acquired, but infused, and is the effect
of divine power. This supposes the work to be brought about by moral
suasion; and that the understanding, taking in the arguments that are
made use of in an objective way, the will is induced to compliance, by
choosing that which is good, and refusing that which is evil: whereas,
we assert, that the will of man is bowed and subjected to Christ, its
enmity overcome; and accordingly we are said to be made willing in the
day of his power.

But since that which bears the greatest share in this work, according to
them, is the will and power of man, determining itself, by proper
motives and arguments, to what is good; which supposes, that it acts
freely therein. This may give us occasion to consider the nature of
human liberty; we do not deny, in general, that man is endowed with a
free will, which exerts itself in things of a lower nature, to that
which we are speaking of, for this is as evident, as that he is endowed
with an understanding: we shall therefore, in speaking concerning the
liberty of the will of man, (1.) Consider what are the essential
properties of liberty,[8] without which, an action would cease to be
free. And, (2.) How far the power of man’s free-will may be extended,
with a particular view to the matter, under our present consideration.

1. Concerning the nature and essential properties of human liberty.
They, whose sentiments of free-will and grace we are opposing, suppose
that it is essential to a free action, or otherwise it could not be
denominated free, that it be performed with indifferency, that is, that
the will of man should be so equally poised, that as it determines
itself to one extreme, it might as well have determined itself to the
other: therefore, he that loves God freely, might, by a determination of
his will, as well have inclined himself to hate him; and on the other
hand, he that hates God, might, by an act of his will, have determined
himself to love him: the balance is supposed to be equal, and it is the
method that the person uses to determine his will, that gives a turn to
it. And from hence they infer, that they who persevere in grace, which
they do freely, may, for the same reason, apostatize; yea, they proceed
farther, at least some of them, who have maintained, that our Saviour
might have sinned, and consequently the work of our redemption have
miscarried in his hands; because, according to this notion of liberty,
he acted freely in all those exercises of grace; which, we suppose, were
no less free, because they were necessary; and also, from this account
they give of liberty, they infer that the angels and glorified saints
might sin, and so lose that state of blessedness, which they are
possessed of; otherwise their obedience is not free; which absurdities
are so apparently gross, that they who duly weigh them, will not easily
give into this notion of liberty. And there is another absurdity, which
the Pelagians dare not assert; for it would be the greatest blasphemy
that could be contained in words, though it equally flows from this
method of explaining the nature of liberty; that either God must not act
freely, or else he might act the contrary, with respect to those things
in which he acts, like himself, as a God of infinite perfection; and
accordingly, if he loves or delights in himself freely, or designs his
own glory, as the highest end of all that he does, and uses means to
bring about those ends which are most conducive thereunto; wherein his
holiness, wisdom, justice, and faithfulness appear, I say, it will
follow from their scheme, and I cannot but tremble to mention it, that
he might do the contrary; and what is this but to say, that he might
cease to be God.

The arguments which they who attempt to support this notion of liberty,
insist on, are taken from the ideas which we generally have of a
person’s acting freely; as for instance, if a man performs any of the
common actions of life, such as walking, sitting, standing, reading,
writing, &c. freely, he may do the contrary.

But to this I answer, That there is a vast difference between asserting,
that many of the actions of life are arbitrary or indifferent, so that
we might do the contrary; and saying that indifferency is essential to
liberty; for that which is essential to an action must belong to every
individual action of the same kind.[9] Thus concerning their notion of
liberty, whom we oppose.

But on the other hand, that which we acquiesce in, is, that its
essential property or nature, consists in a person’s doing a thing
without being laid under a natural necessity to do it;[10] or doing it
of his own accord, without any force laid on him.[11] Others express it
by a person’s doing a thing out of choice, as having the highest reason
to determine him so to do.[12] This is that notion of liberty which we
cannot but approve of; and we are now to shew,

(2.) How far the power of man’s free-will may be extended, with a
particular view to the matter under our present consideration. Here let
it be observed,

_1st_, That the power of man’s will extends itself to things, within its
own sphere, and not above it; all actions and powers of acting, are
contained within certain limits, agreeable to the nature and capacity of
the agent. Creatures below man, cannot put forth rational actions: and
man cannot put forth supernatural actions, if he be not made partaker of
a divine or spiritual nature, as being endowed with a supernatural
principle, such as that which is implanted in regeneration. Consider him
as an intelligent creature, and it is agreeable to his nature to put
forth free actions, under the conduct and direction of the
understanding; but if we consider him as renewed, converted, or
effectually called, and acting agreeably thereunto, then he is under the
influence of an higher principle, which I call a _divine nature_,
according to the phrase which the apostle uses, 2 Pet. i. 4. The former
of these supposes no more than the concourse of common providence, which
at first gave, and then maintains our reasoning faculties; whereas the
latter supposes, that we are under the influence of the Spirit; whereby
we are enabled to act in a supernatural way, our natures being renewed
and disposed thereunto, in which we are not divested of the liberty of
our wills; but they are improved and enabled, to do what before they
were averse and disinclined to.

That man acts freely in those things which are agreeable to his nature,
as an intelligent creature, all will allow. Moreover, we consider the
understanding and will, as both concurring in actions that are free, and
that one of these is subservient to the other; as for instance, we
cannot be said to desire, delight in, choose, or refuse a thing unless
we have some idea of it, as an object, which we apprehend meet to be
desired or rejected.

And if it be farther enquired, Whether the will has, in itself, a power
to follow the dictates of the understanding, in things that are
agreeable to our nature, and be generally disposed to do it, unless
biassed by the passions, inclining and determining it another way? This,
I think, is not to be denied; but in our present argument, we are to
consider the will of man as conversant about things supernatural, and
accordingly, must give a different account of Christian liberty, from
that which is merely human, as before described. The Pelagians will
allow what has been said concerning the nature of liberty in general;
but the difference between us and them is, that we confine it within its
own sphere; whereas they extend it farther, and apply it to
regeneration, effectual calling, and conversion; in which respect it
discovers itself no otherwise than as enslaved to, or a servant of
sin;[13] and the powers and faculties of the soul, with relation
hereunto, are weakened by the prevalency of corruption, so that we are
not able to put forth those actions which proceed from, and determine a
person to be _renewed in the spirit of his mind_; or to have _put on the
new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness_.

Again, if it be farther enquired; whether the will necessarily follows
the dictates of the understanding, so that the grace of God takes its
first rise from thence? that which I would say in answer thereunto is,
That the understanding, indeed, represents things spiritual and heavenly
to us, as good and desirable, and worthy of all acceptation; and gives
us an undeniable conviction, that all the motives used in scripture, to
choose and embrace them, are highly probable; but yet it does not follow
from hence, that the will of man is always overcome thereby;[14] and the
reason is, because of that strong propensity and inclination that there
is in corrupt nature to sin, which bids defiance to all those arguments
and persuasions that are used to the contrary, till we are brought under
the influence of a supernatural principle, implanted in the soul in
effectual calling.

And this leads us farther to enquire: Whether, supposing a man has this
principle implanted in effectual calling, he then acts freely; or, what
is the liberty of man’s will, when internally moved and influenced by
divine grace? In answer to which, we must consider, that special grace
does not destroy, but improve the liberty of man’s will: when there is a
new nature implanted in him, it discovers its energy, and makes a change
in all the powers and faculties of the soul; there is a new light
shining in the understanding, vastly different from, and superior to
that which it had before; and it may truly be called, _The light of
life_, John viii. 12. not only as it leads to eternal life; but as it
proceeds from a principle of spiritual life: and this is what we
generally call _saving knowledge_; as it is said, _This is life eternal,
that they might know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom
thou hast sent_, chap. xvii. 13. Now this light in the understanding,
being attended with power in the will, it is hereby induced to comply
with its dictates, not barely as being prevailed on by rational
arguments, but as there is a divine power accompanying them; it is not
indeed prevailed on without arguments; for the Spirit makes use of the
word to persuade, as well as to direct; though we do not, with the
Pelagians, say, that the will is overcome only by arguments, as though
the victory was owing to our power of reasoning; yet we freely own, that
we act with judgment, and see the highest reason for what we do: we are
enabled to use our reasoning powers indeed; but these are sanctified by
the Spirit, as well as the will renewed; and both concur together, in
order to our receiving and improving the doctrines contained in the
gospel; and the Spirit of God also removes those rooted prejudices which
we had entertained against the way of salvation by Christ: so that upon
the whole, the gospel has its use, as it directs and excites our faith:
our reasoning powers and faculties have their use also, as we take in,
and are convinced, by what is therein contained; all this would be to no
purpose, if there were not a superior power determining the will to a
thorough compliance therewith. We do not deny that moral suasion
oftentimes has a tendency to incline a man to the performance of moral
duties; but it is what I rather choose to call evangelical persuasion,
or the Spirit of God setting home upon the heart and conscience, what is
contained in the gospel, that makes it effectual to salvation.[15] Thus
concerning the nature and extent of human liberty; but inasmuch as this
is not to be assigned as that which renders the gospel-call effectual,
let it be farther considered,

III. That this is brought about by the almighty power of God, as it is
observed in this answer, that it is a work of God’s almighty power and
grace: this is that which enhances the excellency and glory of it, above
all the works of common providence: however, when we say that it is a
divine work, this is hardly sufficient to distinguish it from what the
Pelagians often call it, by which they intend nothing more, than the
powerful work of God, as the God of nature and providence; therefore we
must farther consider it as a work of divine power, exerting itself in a
supernatural way and not only excluding the agency of creatures, as
bearing a part therein, but as opposed to those works which are brought
about by the moral influence of persuasive arguments, without any change
wrought in the will of man; in this sense we understand effectual
calling to be a work of God’s almighty power.

And that this may appear, let it be premised, that it is not
inconsistent with God’s dealing with men as intelligent creatures,
endowed with liberty of will, for him to exert this power, since special
providence, or efficacious grace, does no more destroy man’s natural
powers, by its internal influence, enabling and exciting them to do what
is supernaturally good, than common providence’s being conversant about
the free actions of men, makes them cease to be free; only the former
exerts itself in a different and superior way, producing effects much
more glorious and excellent.

This being supposed, we shall, without pretending fully to explain the
manner of the divine agency, which is principally known by its effects,
endeavour to shew,

1. That effectual calling is, in a way of eminency, the work of divine
power as distinguished from other works, which are, in their kind, the
effects of power in a natural way.

2. We shall also observe what effects are produced thereby, and in what

3. Consider it, as it is, in a peculiar manner, attributed to the Spirit
of God; and also shew, that it is a wonderful instance of his grace.

4. We shall consider this divine power as irresistible, and consequently
such as cannot but be effectual to produce what is designed to be
brought about thereby. And,

5. Speak something concerning the season in which this is done, which is
called God’s accepted time.

1. Effectual calling is eminently a work of divine power; for the proof
hereof, we have not only many express texts of scripture that
sufficiently establish it, but we may appeal to the experience of those
who are made partakers of this grace. If they compare their former and
present state together, they may easily perceive in themselves, that
there is such a change wrought in them, as is contrary to the
inclinations of corrupt nature; whereby the stubbornness and obstinacy
of their wills have been subdued, and such effects produced in them, as
they never experienced before; and the manner of their production, as
well as the consequences thereof, give them a proof of the agency of God
herein, and the glory of his power exerted, so that they who deny it
must be unacquainted with themselves, or not duly observe that which
carries its own evidence with it.[16]

But we shall principally take our proofs from scripture, in which we
have an account of the beginning of this work, which is styled the new
birth; wherein we are said to be made _partakers of the divine nature_,
2 Pet. i. 4. that is, a nature that is produced by divine power; and we
are said to be _born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of
the will of man, but of God_, John i. 13. And the gospel, which is the
instrument that he makes use of in calling effectually, is styled, _The
rod of his strength_, Psal. cx. 2. the effect thereof, ascribed to the
_revelation of his arm_, Isa. liii. 1. the season in which this is done,
is called, _The day of his power_, Psal. cx. 3. and it is, by a
metonymy, called, _His power_, 1 Cor. i. 18. Rom. i. 16. The cross of
Christ is also, when preached, and made effectual for the answering this
valuable end, styled, The _power of God_, 1 Cor. i. 24. Moreover, the
progress of this work is ascribed to the _power of God_, 1 Thess. i. 5.
it is this that _keeps_ those who are effectually called _through faith
unto salvation_, 1 Pet. i. 5. And that this power may appear to be
extraordinary, the apostle uses an uncommon emphasis of expression, when
he calls it, _The exceeding greatness of his power_, and, _the working
of his mighty power_, Eph. i. 19, 20. which words[17] can hardly be
translated without losing something of their force and beauty; and,
indeed, there is not an expression used in scripture, to signify the
efficacy of divine power, that exceeds, or, I may say, that equals them.
And that it may appear more strong, the apostle, in the following words,
represents it as being no less than _that power which wrought in Christ,
when God raised him from the dead_.

And to all this let me add, that something to the same purpose may be
inferred from those metaphorical expressions, by which it is set forth,
as it is called a _creation_: thus, when we are made partakers of this
privilege, we are said to _be created in righteousness and true
holiness_, Eph. iv. 24. And the apostle seems to compare this with the
creation of man at first, after the image of God, which consisted
principally in righteousness and true holiness, and accordingly
considers this image as restored, when a principle of grace is
implanted, whereby we are again disposed to the exercise of
righteousness and holiness: and elsewhere he says, _We are his
workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, that we should
walk in them_, chap. ii. 16. where he supposes, that this creating power
must be exerted before we can put forth good works; and therefore it can
be nothing less than the power of God; and it would not have been styled
a _creation_, if it had not been a supernatural work, and therefore it
is, in that respect, more glorious than many other effects of the divine

It is also styled, _a resurrection from the dead_: thus the apostle
says, _You hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins_,
chap. ii. 1, 5. in this respect it certainly exceeds the power of men. A
physician, by his skill, may mend a crazy constitution, or recover it
from the confines of death; but, to raise the dead, exceeds the limits
of finite power. This mode of speaking our Saviour makes use of to
signify the conversion or effectual call of sinners, when he says, _The
hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the
Son of God; and they that hear shall live_, John v. 25. He had, in the
foregoing verse been speaking of their _having eternal life_, and _not
coming into condemnation, and being passed from death to life_, who hear
his words and believe; and then it follows, that _the hour is coming_,
that is, the time is near at hand, to wit, when the Spirit shall be
poured forth, and the gospel-dispensation be begun, and it _now is_, in
some degree, namely, in those who were converted by his ministry, _when
the dead shall hear his voice and live_, or pass from a state of
spiritual death to life, as a means for their attaining eternal life.
This is much more agreeable to the context, than to conclude, as some
do, to evade the force of this argument; that our Saviour speaks
concerning some who were then, or should hereafter be raised from the
dead, in a miraculous manner; which, they suppose, contains the sense of
the words, _now is_, and that _the hour is coming_, refers to the
general resurrection; but this seems not to be the sense of the text;
because our Saviour supposes them, in a following verse, to be
astonished at this doctrine; as though it was too great an instance of
power for him to implant a principle of spiritual life in dead sinners;
and therefore he proves his assertion from his raising the dead at the
last day: _Marvel not, for the hour is coming_, that is, at the end of
the world, _when all that are in their graves shall hear his voice_,
John v. 28. This cannot well agree with the sense before given, of
Christ’s raising the dead, as referring to the general resurrection; for
that would be to answer their objection, or put a stop to their wonder
at what he had said concerning it, by asserting the same thing in other
words; whereas, if you suppose the dead’s _hearing his voice_, to imply
a spiritual resurrection; and _the dead raised out of their graves_, to
be an argument to convince them that his power was sufficient to bring
about this great effect; there is much more beauty in the expression,
and strength in the reasoning, than to take it otherwise.

This is so plain a proof of the argument, we are endeavouring to defend,
that nothing farther need be added: however, I cannot but mention
another scripture, in which our Saviour says, that _no one can come to
him, except the Father draw him_, chap. vi. 44. where Christ, by _coming
to him_, does not mean attending on his ministry, which did not require
any power to induce them to it; but _believing on him_, so as to _have
everlasting life_, in which sense, _coming to him_, is often taken in
the gospels, ver. 47. and this is the immediate consequence of effectual
calling. Now when our Saviour says, that _none can_ thus _come to him_,
without being _drawn by the Father_, we may understand what he means
here, by what is said in a following verse, namely, their being _taught
of God_, and having _heard and learned of the Father_, ver. 45. such,
says he, _Come unto me_. Now this _teaching_ certainly implies more than
giving a rule of faith contained in divine revelation, for Christ is not
here proving the necessity of divine revelation, as elsewhere; but is
speaking concerning the saving efficacy thereof; and none can deny that
many have been objectively taught, and instructed by the word, who have
not come to Christ, or believed in him to everlasting life: the words
are a quotation from the prophets, to which he refers; who intimate,
that they should be _all taught of God_; which certainly implies more
than an objective teaching and instructing; for in this sense, they,
having divine revelation, were always taught of God: and it is a special
privilege, which the prophet Isaiah mentions, when he foretels this
matter, as appears by his connecting it with that great peace which they
should have, or the confluence of saving blessings, which should attend
it, Isa. liv. 13. And the prophet Jeremiah, who speaks to the same
purpose, says, _They shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and
every man his brother, saying, know the Lord; for they shall all know me
from the least of them, even to the greatest_, Jer. xxxi. 33, 34. that
is, they shall not only have an objective revelation, or that which some
call moral suasion; but this shall be made effectual to their salvation;
and in order thereunto, God promises that he would _put his law in the
inward part, and write it in the heart_; and elsewhere, to _give_ them
_a new heart_, and to _put a new spirit within them_, and hereby to
_cause them to walk in his statutes_, Ezek. xxxvi. 26. So that it is not
barely a rectifying some mistakes which they were liable to; but
producing in them something, which they had not before; not building
upon the old foundation, but laying a new one, and so working a change
in the powers and faculties of the soul; and as they were before,
obdurate and hardened in sin, he promises to _take away the heart of
stone, and give them an heart of flesh_; and by his _word_, which is
compared to an _hammer, to break the rock in pieces_, Jer. xxiii. 29.
This is certainly a work of power; but that it is so, will farther
appear from what follows, in considering the work itself; which leads us
to shew,

2. What effects are produced by the power of God, when we are thus

(1.) The first step that he is pleased to take in this work, is in his
implanting a principle of spiritual life and grace, which is absolutely
necessary for our attaining to, or receiving advantage by the external
call of the gospel; this is generally styled regeneration, or the new
birth; or, as in the scripture but now referred to, a _new heart_.

If it be enquired, What we are to understand by this principle? We
answer, that since principles are only known by the effects which they
produce; springs of acting, by the actions themselves, we must be
content with this description; that it is something wrought in the heart
of man, whereby he is habitually and prevailingly biassed and inclined
to what is good: so that by virtue hereof, he freely, readily, and
willingly chooses those things which tend to the glory of God; and
refuses, abhors, and flees from what is contrary thereunto; and, as this
more immediately affects the understanding, whereby it is enabled to
discern the things which God reveals in the gospel in a spiritual way,
it is styled, his _shining in the heart_, 2 Cor. iv. 6. _to give us the
light of the knowledge of his glory_, or, his giving _an eye to see, and
an ear to hear_, Deut. xxix. 4. As it respects the will, it contains in
it a power, whereby it is disposed and enabled to yield the obedience of
faith, to whatever God is pleased to reveal to us as a rule of duty, so
that we are made willing in the day of his power; and, as it respects
the affections, they are all inclined to run in a right channel, to
desire, delight and rejoice in every thing that is pleasing to God, and
flee from every thing that is provoking to him. This is that whereby a
dead sinner is made alive, and so enabled to put forth living actions.

Concerning this principle of grace let it be observed, that it is
infused and not acquired. The first principle or spring of good actions,
may, with equal reason, be supposed to be infused into us, as
Christians, as it is undoubtedly true, that the principle of reasoning
is infused into us as men: none ever supposed that the natural power of
reasoning may be acquired, though a greater facility or degree thereof
is gradually attained; so that power, whereby we are enabled to put
forth supernatural acts of grace, must be supposed to be implanted in
us; which, were it acquired, we could not, properly speaking, be said to
be born of God.

From hence I am obliged to infer, that the regenerating act, or
implanting this principle[18] of grace, which is, at least, in order of
nature, antecedent to any act of grace, put forth by us, is the
immediate effect of the power of God, which none who speak of
regeneration as a divine work, pretend to deny: and therefore, I cannot
but conclude, that it is wrought in us without the instrumentality of
the word, or any of the ordinary means of grace: my reason for it is
this; because it is necessary, from the nature of the thing, to our
receiving, improving, or reaping any saving advantage by the word, that
the Spirit should produce the principle of faith; and to say, that this
is done by the word, is in effect, to assert that the word produces the
principle, and the principle gives efficacy to the word; which seems to
me little less than arguing in a circle. The word cannot profit, unless
it be mixed with faith; and faith cannot be put forth, unless it
proceeds from a principle of grace implanted; therefore this principle
of grace is not produced by it: we may as well suppose, that the
presenting a beautiful picture before a man that is blind, can enable
him to see; or the violent motion of a withered hand, produce strength
for action, as we can suppose that the presenting the word in an
objective way, is the instrument whereby God produces that internal
principle, by which we are enabled to embrace it. Neither would this so
well agree with the idea of its being a new creature, or our being
_created unto good works_; for then it ought rather to be said, we are
created by faith, which is a good work: this is, in effect, to say, that
the principle of grace is produced by the instrumentality of that which
supposes its being implanted, and is the result and consequence thereof.

I am sorry that I am obliged, in this assertion, to appear, at least, to
oppose what has been maintained by many divines of great worth; who
have, in all other respects, explained the doctrine of regeneration,
agreeably to the mind and will of God, and the analogy of faith.[19] It
may be, the principal difference between this explication and theirs is,
that they speak of regeneration in a large sense, as including in it,
not barely the implanting the principle, but the exciting it, and do not
sufficiently distinguish between the principle, as implanted and deduced
into act; for, I readily own, that the latter is by the instrumentality
of the word, though I cannot think the former so; or, it may be, they
consider the principle as exerted: whereas I consider it as created, or
wrought in us; and therefore can no more conclude, that the new creation
is wrought by an instrument, than I can, that the first creation of all
things was.

And I am ready to conjecture, that that which leads many divines into
this way of thinking, is the sense in which they understand the words of
the apostle; _Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of
incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever_, 1
Pet. i. 23. and elsewhere, _Of his own will begat he us with the word of
truth, that we should be a kind of first-fruits of his creatures_, James
i. 16. Whereas this does not so much respect the implanting the
principle of grace, as it does our being enabled to act from that
principle; and it is as though he should say, he hath made us believers,
or induced us to love and obey Him by the word of truth, which supposes
a principle of grace to have been implanted: otherwise the word of truth
would never have produced these effects. Regeneration may be taken, not
only for our being made alive to God, or created unto good works, but
for our putting forth living actions, proceeding from that principle
which is implanted in the soul. I am far from denying, that faith, and
all other graces, are wrought in us by the instrumentality of the word;
and it is in this sense that some, who treat on this subject, explain
their sentiments, when they speak of being born again by the word:
therefore I persuade myself, that I differ from them only in the
acceptation of words, and not in the main substance of the doctrine they

(2.) The principle of grace being implanted, the acts of grace in those
who are adult, immediately ensue; which implies a change of our
behaviour, a renovation of our lives and actions; which may properly be
called conversion.

Having explained what we mean by regeneration, under our last head, it
is necessary, in this, to consider how it differs from conversion; in
which I shall take leave to transcribe a few passages from that
excellent divine, but now mentioned. “Regeneration is a spiritual
change; conversion is a spiritual motion; in regeneration there is a
power conferred; conversion is the exercise of this power; in
regeneration there is given us a principle to turn; conversion is our
actual turning: in the covenant, the new heart, and God’s putting the
Spirit into them, is distinguished from their walking in his statutes,
from the first step we take, in the way of God, and is set down as the
cause of our motion: in renewing us, God gives us a power; in converting
us, he excites that power. Men are naturally dead, and have a stone upon
them; regeneration is a rolling away the stone from the heart, and a
raising to newness of life; and then conversion is as natural to a
regenerate man, as motion is to a lively body: a principle of activity
will produce action. The first reviving us is wholly the act of God,
without any concurrence of the creature; but, after we are revived, we
do actively and voluntarily live in his sight. Regeneration is the
motion of God in the creature; conversion is the motion of the creature
to God, by virtue of that first principle; from this principle all the
acts of believing, repenting, mortifying, quickening, do spring. In all
these a man is active; in the other, he is merely passive.”[21] This is
what we may call the second step, which God takes in effectual calling;
and it is brought about by the instrumentality of the word. The word
before this, was preached to little or no purpose; or, it may be, was
despised, rejected, and disregarded; but now a man is enabled to see a
beauty, and a glory in it, all the powers and faculties of the soul,
being under the influence of that spiritual life implanted in
regeneration, and inclined to yield a ready and cheerful obedience to
it; and this work is gradual and progressive; and as such, it is called
the work of sanctification; of which more under a following answer,[22]
and is attended with repentance unto life, and all other graces that
accompany salvation; and in this respect we are drawn to Christ by his
word and Spirit, or by his Spirit making use of his word, our minds
savingly enlightened, our wills renewed, and determined to what is good,
so that hereby we are made willing and able freely to answer the call of
God, and to accept of, and embrace the grace offered and conveyed
therein; as it is expressed in the answer we are explaining.

The first thing in which that change, which is wrought in effectual
calling, manifests itself is, in our understandings’ being enlightened
to receive the truths revealed to us in the word of God; and accordingly
we see things with a new and different light; behold a greater beauty,
excellency and glory in divine things, than ever we did before: we are
also led into ourselves, and convinced of sin and misery, concluding
ourselves, by nature, to be in a lost and undone condition; and then the
soul sees the glory of Christ, the greatness of his love, who came to
seek and save those that were lost, who is now precious to him, as he is
said to be to them that believe; and pursuant hereunto the will, being
determined, or enabled so to do, by the Spirit of God exciting the
principle of grace, which he had implanted, accepts of him on his own
terms; the affections all centre in, and desire to derive all spiritual
blessings from him; Thus the work of grace is begun in effectual
calling, which is afterwards carried on in sanctification.

And inasmuch as we are considering the beginning of the work of grace in
effectual calling, I cannot but take notice of a question, which
frequently occurs under this head, namely, Whether man, in the first
moment thereof, _viz._ in regeneration, be merely passive, though active
in every thing that follows after it? This we cannot but affirm, not
only against the Pelagians, but others, whose method of treating the
doctrine of divine grace, seems to agree with theirs. And here, that we
may obviate a popular objection, usually brought against our assertion,
as though hereby we argued, that God dealt with men as though they were
machines, and not endowed with understanding or will let it be observed;
that we consider the subjects of this grace no otherwise than as
intelligent creatures, capable of being externally excited and disposed
to what is good; or else God would never work this principle in them.
Nor do we suppose, however men are said to be passive in the first
moment in which this principle is implanted, that they are so
afterwards, but are enabled to act under the divine influence; even as
when the soul of Adam was created at first, it could not be said to be
active in its own creation, and in the implanting those powers which
were concreate with it; yet it was active, or those powers exerted
themselves immediately after it was created. This is the state of the
question we are now debating; and therefore we cannot but maintain, that
men do not concur to the implanting the principle of grace; for then
they would be active in being created unto good works; which are the
result, and not the cause of that power which is infused into them, in
order thereunto.

This is sufficiently evident, not only from the impotency of corrupt
nature, as to what is good, but its utter averseness thereunto, and from
the work’s being truly and properly divine; or (as has been before
observed) the effect of almighty power. This is not a controversy of
late date; but has been either defended or opposed, ever since
Augustine’s and Pelagius’s time. Many volumes have been written
concerning the aids and assistances of divine grace in the work of
conversion. The School-men were divided in their sentiments about it, as
they adhered to, or receded from Augustine’s doctrine: both sides seem
to allow that the grace of God affords some assistance hereunto; but the
main thing in debate, is, Whether the grace of God only bears one part
in this work, and the will of man the other; like two persons lifting at
the same burden, and carrying it between them. Some have allowed the
divine concourse as necessary hereunto, who yet have not been willing to
own that man bears no part in this work; or, _that it is God that works
in us, both to will and to do of his own good pleasure_, Phil. ii. 13.
which, the apostle asserts in so plain terms, that the most known sense
thereof, cannot well be evaded; and, indeed, were it otherwise, it could
hardly be said, that _we are not sufficient of ourselves, to think any
thing as of ourselves_; which, though it be immediately applied to
ministers, is certainly, by a parity of reason, applicable to all
Christians, 2 Cor. iii. 5. nor would it be, in all respects, true, that
we are _born of God_; or, that we, who before were dead in sin, are
raised to a spiritual life, or made, with respect to the principle of
spiritual actions, new creatures; all which is done in regeneration.[23]

We might also take occasion, under this head, to observe, what we often
meet with in practical discourses and sermons, concerning preparatory
works, or previous dispositions, which facilitate and lead to the work
of conversion. Some assert, that we must do what we can, and by using
our reasoning powers and faculties, endeavour to convert, or turn
ourselves, and then God will do the rest, or finish the work which we
have begun: and here many things are often considered as the steps which
men may take in the reformation of their lives, the abstaining from
gross enormities, which they may have been guilty of, thinking on their
ways, and observing the tendency of their present course of life, and
setting before themselves those proper arguments that may induce them to
repent and believe; and then they may be said to have prepared
themselves for the grace of God, so that it will ensue hereupon. And if
there be any thing remaining, which is out of their power, God has
engaged to succeed their endeavours, so that he will bring them into a
state of regeneration and conversion.

This method of accounting for the work of grace, is liable to many
exceptions, particularly as it supposes man to be the first mover in his
own conversion, and the divine energy to be dependent upon our conduct;
the contrary to which, is not only agreeable to scripture, but the
divine perfections; as well as to the doctrine we have been maintaining,
concerning effectual calling’s, being a divine work in the most proper
sense thereof. But that we may impartially consider this matter, and
set, what some call a preparatory work, in a just light, let it be

1. That these preparatory works must either be considered as good in all
those circumstances that are necessary to denominate them good, and
particularly they must proceed from a good principle, that is to say, a
principle of regeneration; or else they are only such works as are
materially good, such many perform who are never brought into a state of
conversion; or if, on the other hand, they are supposed to proceed from
such a principle, then they are not, from the nature of the thing, works
preparatory to the first grace, but rather consequent upon it.

2. It is one thing for us to assert, that it is our duty to perform all
those works which some call preparatory, for conversion; such as
meditation, attendance on the ordinances, duly weighing those arguments,
or motives, that should lead us to repentance, and the exercise of all
other graces; and another thing to say, that every one who performs
these duties, shall certainly have regenerating grace; or, it is one
thing to apply ourselves to the performance of those duties, as far as
it is in our own power, and, at the same time, to wait, pray, and hope
for success to attend them; and another thing to assert, that it shall
always attend them, as though God had laid himself under an obligation
to give special grace to those, who, in this respect, improve that which
is common, the contrary whereunto may be observed in many instances. And
when we have done all, we must conclude, that the grace of God, if he is
pleased to give success to our endeavours, is free and sovereign.

3. They who say, That if we do all we can, God will do the rest, advance
very little to support their argument, since there is no one who can
pretend that he has done what he could: and may we not farther suppose,
that God, in a judicial way, as punishing us for the many sins we
commit, may deny this success: therefore, how can it be said, that it
will necessarily ensue.

4. When we perform any of those duties, which some call preparatory to
conversion, these are to be considered as the Spirit’s preparing his own
way thereby, rather than corrupt nature’s preparing itself for grace. We
are far from denying that there is a beautiful order in the divine
dispensations; the Spirit of God first convinces of sin, and then shews
the convinced sinner where his help is to be had; and enables him to
close with Christ by faith. He first shews the soul its own corruption
and nothingness, and then leads him to see Christ’s fulness; or that all
his salvation is reposed in his hands, and enables him to believe in him
to the saving the soul; one of these works, indeed, prepares the way for
the other: nevertheless, none of them can be said to prepare the way for
regeneration, which is the work of the Spirit of God; and without it, no
other can be said to be a saving work.

_Object._ It is objected, that there are several scriptures which seem
to speak of common grace, as being preparatory for special. Thus the
scribe, mentioned in the gospel, who expressed himself _discreetly_, in
asserting, that _to love God with all the heart, and with all the
understanding, soul, and strength; and to love our neighbour as
ourselves, is better than all whole burnt-offerings and sacrifices_, is
said not to be _far from the kingdom of God_, Mark xii. 34. And
elsewhere, we are exhorted _to ask_, and a promise is annexed thereunto,
that _it shall be given us, to seek and we shall find_, Matt. vii. 7.
And in another place, _to turn at God’s reproof and he will pour out his
Spirit_ unto us, _and make known his words unto us_, Prov. i. 25. And
several other scriptures, in which super-added grace is connected with
duty enjoined, which duty is supposed to be in our own power, and to be
preparatory for it.

_Answ._ (1.) As to the first of these scriptures, in which our Saviour
tells the scribe, that he was not _far from the kingdom of God_; he
intends nothing else hereby, but that the profession he made, which he
calls, his _answering discreetly_, was not very remote from that which
was made by them, who were the subjects of his kingdom: it was the
doctrine he mentions, that Christ commends; and therefore it must not be
inferred from hence, that he had regard to his state, as though his
inward temper of mind, or moral conduct of life, was such as more
immediately disposed him for a state of grace, so that he was, at the
same time, hovering between a state of unregeneracy and conversion.

(2.) As for that instance, in which persons are supposed to prepare
themselves for that grace which God gives in answer to prayer, by
performing that duty, as though he had obliged himself to give whatever
they ask for, relating to their own salvation; this cannot be the sense
of the scripture but now mentioned, or any other, to the like purpose;
unless it be understood of the prayer of faith, under the influence of
the Holy Spirit; but this supposes regenerating grace; and therefore it
is foreign to the argument, in which man is considered as preparing
himself for the grace of God, and not as expecting farther degrees of
grace, upon his being inclined, by the Spirit of God, to seek them.

(3.) As for the other instance in the objection, relating to God’s
engaging _to give the Spirit_, and to _make known his words_ to those
that _turn at his reproof_; this, I conceive, contains in it nothing
else but a promise of the Spirit, to carry on the work of grace, in all
those in whom it is begun. Though _turning_, in scripture, be sometimes
taken for external reformation, which is in our own power, as it is our
indispensable duty; yet, whenever a promise of saving blessings is
annexed to it, as in this scripture, it is to be understood as denoting
the grace of repentance. And if it be said, that this is God’s gift, and
therefore cannot be the subject of an exhortation, it may be replied
hereunto; that saving grace is often represented, in scripture, as our
act, or duty, in order to the performance whereof we ought to say, as
the church is presented speaking, _Turn thou me, and I shall be turned_,
Jer. xxxi. 18. that is, I _shall return unto thee with my whole heart,
and not feignedly_, chap. iii. 10.

The same reply might be given to their sense of several other scriptures
brought to maintain the doctrine of preparatory works, performed by us,
as necessarily inferring our obtaining the special grace of God. But I
shall close this head with a few hints taken from that excellent divine
before mentioned. “Man cannot prepare himself for the new birth: he
hath, indeed, a subjective capacity for grace, above any other creature
in the inferior world; and this is a kind of natural preparation, which
other creatures have not; a capacity, in regard of the powers of the
soul, though not in respect of the present disposition of them. He hath
an understanding to know, and when it is enlightened, to know God’s law;
a will to move and run, and when enlarged by grace, to run the ways of
God’s commandments; so that he stands in an immediate capacity to
receive the life of grace, upon the breath and touch of God, which a
stone doth not; for in this it is necessary, that rational faculties
should be put as a foundation of spiritual motions. Though the soul be
thus capable, as a subject, to receive the grace of God, yet it is not
therefore capable, as an agent, to prepare itself for it, or produce it.
It is capable to receive the truths of God; but, as the heart is stony,
it is incapable to receive the impressions of those truths. Though some
things, which man may do by common grace, may be said to be
preparations, yet they are not formally so; as that there is an
absolute, causal connexion between such preparations, and regeneration;
they are not disposing causes of grace: grace is all in a way of
reception by the soul, not of action from the soul: the highest morality
in the world is not necessary to the first infusion of the divine
nature: if there were any thing in the subject that was the cause of it,
the tenderest, and softest dispositions would be wrought upon; and the
most intelligent men would soonest receive the gospel. Though we see
them sometimes renewed, yet many times the roughest tempers are seized
upon by grace. Though morality seems to set men at a greater nearness to
the kingdom of God, yet, with all its own strength it cannot bring it
into the heart, unless the Spirit open the lock: yea, sometimes it sets
a man farther from the kingdom of God, as being a great enemy to the
righteousness of the gospel, both imputed and inherent; and other
operations upon the soul, which seem to be nearer preparations; such as
convictions, &c. do not infer grace; for the heart, as a field, may be
ploughed by terrors, and yet not planted with any good seed; planting
and watering are preparations, but not the cause of fruit; the increase
depends upon God:”[24] thus this learned author. And he also farther
proves, that there is no obligation on God, by any thing that may look
like a preparation in men; and adds, that if any preparations were our
own, and were pure, which they are not: yet they cannot oblige God to
give supernatural grace: which leads us,

3. To consider that this work is, in a peculiar manner, attributed to
the Spirit of God; the only moving cause whereof, is his grace. That the
Spirit is the author of this work, is not to be proved by experience, as
the expressions of divine power therein are, but by scripture; and the
scripture is very express as to this matter. Thus, when God promises to
_give a new heart; to take away the heart of stone, and to give an heart
of flesh, and to cause his people to walk in his statutes_, Ezek. xxxvi.
26, 27. he would _put his Spirit within them_; and elsewhere they are
said to have _purified their souls in obeying the truth, through the
Spirit_, 1 Pet. i. 22. And our Saviour asserts the necessity of our
being _born of the Spirit_, John iii. 5. in order to our entering into
the kingdom of God: so that from these, and several other scriptures,
that might be referred to, it appears, that effectual calling is the
internal powerful work of the Holy Ghost.[25]

_Obj. 1._ It is objected, by some, that this doctrine savours of
enthusiasm; since it supposes that there is no difference between the
Spirit’s internal influences, and inspiration; and to pretend to this,
now the miraculous dispensation, which was in the apostle’s days, is
ceased, is vain and enthusiastic.

_Answ._ To this it may be replied, That the charge of enthusiasm is very
unjustly deduced from this doctrine; for we must distinguish between the
extraordinary, and the ordinary influence of the Holy Ghost; the former
is allowed by all, to be now ceased; and therefore they who pretend to
it, are liable to this charge; but it is a very great dishonour cast
upon the Holy Ghost to deny his powerful influence or agency in the work
of grace; and it renders the condition of the church, at present, in a
very material circumstance, so much inferior to what it was of old, that
it is incapable of attaining salvation; unless it could be proved that
salvation might be attained without the divine energy.

But, that we may farther reply to this objection, let it be considered;
that the Spirit’s influence, as subservient to the work of grace, is
evidently distinguished from imputation: the latter of these was a
peculiar honour which was conferred upon some persons, who were either
to transmit to the church a rule of faith, by the immediate dictates of
the Holy Ghost; or else they were favoured with it to answer some
extraordinary ends, which could not be attained without it, namely,
their being furnished with wisdom, as well as courage and boldness, to
maintain the cause, which they were not otherwise furnished to defend,
against the opposition that it met with from their persecuting and
malicious enemies, that so it might not suffer through their weakness;
as when our Saviour bids his disciples _not to take thought what they
should say_, when brought before rulers, _&c._ but promises, that _the
Spirit should speak in them_, Matt. x. 18-20. And in some other
particular instances we read, especially in the church at Corinth, that
when ministers had not those advantages to qualify themselves to preach
the gospel, which they afterwards were favoured with, some had this
extraordinary gift, so that they spake by the Spirit; but this was only
conferred occasionally, and for some special reasons: and therefore,
those scriptures that speak of the influences of the Spirit, which were
more common, and immediately subservient to the work of grace in the
souls of those who were the subjects thereof, were, at that time, the
same with them that we are pleading for, which were designed to continue
in the church, in all the ages thereof: thus when persons are said,
_through the Spirit to mortify the deeds of the body_, Rom. viii. 13.
this does not respect any extraordinary dispensation, which they were
then under, since it is the duty of all men, in all ages, without the
extraordinary influences of the Spirit, to mortify the deeds of the
body; and therefore we may expect this powerful energy as well as they,
or else our condition would be very deplorable.

And besides, we never find that extraordinary gifts were immediately
subservient to the subduing corruption, or, at least, that every one
that had them, did mortify sin, and so appear to be internally
sanctified: whereas, this is a character of those who are so; and not to
have these influences, determines a person to be in an unregenerate
state, or _to live after the flesh_, which is opposed to it, and so to
be liable to death, ver. 12. No one can suppose, the apostle intends, in
the foregoing verse, when he says, _If ye live after the flesh, ye shall
die_; that if ye are not under inspiration, ye shall die, as living
after the flesh: but the method of reasoning is strong and conclusive,
if we understand the divine influence as what is distinct from
inspiration, and consequently a privilege necessary for the beginning
and carrying on the work of grace, and so belongs to believers in all

Again, when the Spirit is said _to help our infirmities_, ver. 26. in
prayer: is not prayer as much a duty now as it was when they had
extraordinary gifts? therefore, ought we not to hope for the assistance
of the Spirit, in all ages? and consequently the Spirit’s help, in this
respect is not confined to that age, when there was a miraculous
dispensation, or extraordinary inspiration.

And when it is elsewhere said, _As many as are led by the Spirit of God,
they are the sons of God_, ver. 14. can we suppose, that none were the
sons of God but such as had extraordinary gifts? Does not this privilege
belong to us, as well as unto them? If therefore we are the sons of God,
as well as they, we have this evidence hereof, according to this
scripture; namely, our _being led by the Spirit of God_; though we
pretend not to be led by him, as a Spirit of inspiration.

And to this we may add, that the apostle elsewhere speaks of some who
were _sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise; which is the earnest of
our inheritance_: and these are described as _trusting in Christ after
they had heard the word of salvation_, and _believing in him_, Eph. i.
13, 14. But this belongs to the church in all ages; therefore sealing is
not a privilege confined to those who had the extraordinary gifts of the
Holy Ghost; but to believers as such.

Moreover, it is said, _The Spirit beareth witness with our spirits, that
we are the children of God_, Rom. viii. 16. Therefore, some persons may
know themselves to be the children of God, in a way of self-examination,
by the witness of the Spirit, which is common to all believers; without
pretending to be inspired therein; which would be to know this matter
without the concurring testimony of our own spirits. Many things, of the
like nature, might be observed, concerning the other scriptures, that
are generally brought to prove, that believers, in our day, are made
partakers of the powerful influences of the Holy Ghost; though they
pretend not to the Spirit of inspiration; which is a sufficient answer
to this objection.

_Object._ 2. If it be farther objected, that if the Spirit does work
internally in the souls of men, we are not to suppose, that he works a
change in their wills, but only presents objects to them, which they by
their own power, improve, and make use of, for their good; even as a
finite Spirit may suggest good or bad thoughts, without disposing us to
comply with them; or, as the devil is said to work in men, who is
called, _The Spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience_,
Eph. ii. 2.

_Answ._ To this it may be replied, that an objective influence, properly
speaking, is no influence at all; much less is it becoming the dignity
of the Holy Ghost, to say, That he hath no more an hand in the work of
conversion, than that which a mere creature might have. I will not deny
that the Greek word,[26] which signifies energy, or internal working, is
sometimes taken for such a kind of influence as is not properly the
effect of power, as in the instance contained in the objection; yet, let
it be considered, that the same word is often used, in various other
instances, in senses very different, when applied to God and the
creature; where the word, in itself, is indeterminate; but the
application of it sufficiently determines the matter; so as to leave no
doubt, as to the sense of it. Thus to make, form, or produce, when
applied to God, and the thing made, formed, or produced, is represented
as an instance of his almighty power, which exceeds the limits of finite
power, this determines the sense to be very different from making,
forming, or producing, when applied to men, acting in their own sphere:
so the apostle speaks of building, in a very different sense, as applied
to God and the creature, which no one is at a loss to understand, who
reads the words; _Every house is builded by some man; but he that built
all things is God_, Heb. iii. 4. Now, to apply this to our present
purpose, we do not deny, that a finite spirit has an energy, in an
objective way; but when the same word is applied to God’s manner of
acting; and is represented as has been before observed, as an instance
of his almighty power, producing a change in the soul; and not only
persuading, but enabling him to perform good works, from a principle of
spiritual life, implanted, this may easily be understood as having a
very different sense from the same word, when applied to the internal
agency of a finite spirit; and therefore this objection does not
overthrow the argument we are maintaining.

_Object._ 3. It is farther objected against what has been said
concerning this powerful work of the Spirit, as being illustrated by the
similitude of a person’s being raised from the dead; that this contains
in it nothing supernatural, or out of the power of man; since the
apostle says, _Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and
Christ shall give the light_, Eph. v. 14. If arising from the dead be
the effect of almighty power, when applied to the work of grace, it
seems preposterous for this to be recommended as our duty: and if it be
not a work of almighty power, then those scriptures that illustrate
effectual calling by the resurrection of the dead, are nothing to the
argument for which they have been brought.

_Answ._ Some suppose, that its being assigned as a matter of duty for
sinners to rise from the dead, does not infer, that it is in their own
power; but, that it only signifies, that none can expect eternal life
but those who rise from the death of sin; and accordingly, as the
promise, here mentioned, relating to our _having light_, is said to be
_Christ’s gift_, so the power to perform that duty, which is inseparably
connected with it, to wit, _rising from the dead_, is to be sought for
at his hand. But if this answer be not reckoned sufficient, I see no
absurdity in supposing, that these two expressions, _Awake, thou that
sleepest, and arise from the dead_, import the same thing. Sleep is, as
it were, the image of death; and therefore, by a metaphorical way of
speaking, it may be here called _death_; and if so, the apostle commands
believers to awake out of their carnal security, or shake off their
stupid frames, as they expect the light of eternal life: however, if it
be taken in this sense here; yet when we meet with the words
_quickened_, or _raised from the dead_, elsewhere, they may be
understood in a different sense, as denoting the implanting a principle
of grace in regeneration, as will appear by the context: thus when God
is said to _quicken those who were dead in trespasses and sins; who
walked according to the course of this world, fulfilling the desires of
the flesh, and of the mind; and were, by nature, the children of wrath_;
and to do this with a design to shew the _exceeding riches of his grace,
and kindness towards them_; and as the consequence thereof, to work that
faith which accompanies salvation, which is not of themselves, but his
gift: I say, if these things are mentioned when we are said to be
_quickened_, or _raised from the dead_, certainly it argues more than a
stupid believer’s awaking from that carnal security, which he is under,
who is supposed to have a principle of spiritual life, whereby he may be
enabled so to do.

_Object._ 4. It is also objected to what has been said, concerning
effectual calling’s being a work of divine power, that those scriptures,
which speak of it as such, denote nothing else but the power of working
miracles; whereby they to whom the gospel was preached, were induced to
believe; as when the apostle says, _His preaching was in demonstration
of the Spirit, and of power_, 1 Cor. ii. 4. that is, the doctrines he
preached, were confirmed, and the truth thereof demonstrated by the
power of the Holy Ghost, enabling them to work miracles: and _the
kingdom of God is not in word, but in power_, chap. iv. 20. that is, the
gospel is not only preached, but confirmed by miracles: _Our gospel came
to you in power, and in the Holy Ghost_, 1 Thes. i. 5. that is, as some
understand it, the gospel which we preach, was confirmed by the power
and miraculous works of the Holy Ghost; which has no reference to the
internal efficacious influences of the Spirit put forth in effectual

_Answ._ Though we often read that the gospel was confirmed by miracles:
nevertheless, I cannot see that this is the principle, much less the
only sense of these scriptures, and some others that might have been
produced to the same purpose.

As to the first of them in which the apostle speaks _of his preaching,
being in the demonstration of the Spirit, and of power_; it may be
observed, that in the preceding chapter he had been speaking concerning
Christ preached, and his glory set forth among them, as the power of
God; that is to say, the power of God rendered the preaching thereof
effectual to the conversion of them that believed; which he concludes to
contain in it no less a conviction of the truth of the Christian
religion, than if he had wrought signs or miracles, which the Jews
demanded, and which he had no design to work among them: therefore, why
should we suppose, that when he speaks _of his preaching being in the
demonstration of the Spirit, and of power_, that he intends the
confirming his doctrine by miracles, and not in the same sense as he had
before signified Christ to be the power of God.

And as for the other scripture, in which it is said, _The kingdom of God
is not in word, but in power_; that is to be understood by comparing it
with what immediately goes before, in which he says, that _I will come
to you shortly, if the Lord will and know not the speech of them who are
puffed up, but the power_. It we suppose, that by _them who are puffed
up_, he means some of their teachers, who swelled either with pride or
envy, and probably were sowing some seeds of error among them; it does
not seem to be a just sense of the text, to explain the words when he
says, _I will know not the speech of them who are puffed up, but the
power_, q. d. I will not so much regard the doctrines they deliver, as I
will enquire and be convinced, that they have confirmed them by
miracles. For he would rather regard their doctrine than their pretence
to miracles; or have said, I will not enquire whether ever they have
wrought any miracles or no, but what efficacy their doctrine has had:
and therefore the apostle, by _knowing the power_, does not mean that of
working miracles, but he intimates that he would know, not only what
doctrines these persons taught, but what success attended their
preaching; and then he adds, that _the kingdom of God_, that is, the
gospel-state is advanced and promoted, not barely by the church’s
enjoying the means of grace, such as the preaching of the word; but _by
the power of God_, which makes the word preached effectual to salvation,
whereby sinners are converted, and many added to the church, such as
shall be saved.

As to the last scripture mentioned, in which the apostle says, _Our
gospel came to you, not in word only, but in power_, I cannot think that
he has any reference in that place, to the confirming the gospel by
miracles; because this is assigned as a mark of their election,
_knowing, brethren, your election of God; for our gospel came unto you,
not only in word, but in power_, &c. Now, whether we take election for
God’s eternal design to save them, or for the execution thereof, in his
applying the graces of the Spirit to them; or if we take it in the
lowest sense, which they, on the other side of the question, generally
give into, for their being a choice, religious unblameable society of
Christians, excelling many others in piety: this could not be evinced by
the gospel’s being confirmed by miracles; and therefore this sense seems
not agreeable to the apostle’s design; and consequently the objection
taken from those scriptures, that speak of the power of God in
conversion, as implying nothing else but his power, exerted in working
miracles, will not, in the least, be sufficient to weaken the force of
the argument we are maintaining. Thus concerning effectual calling’s
being a work of power, attributed, in particular, to the Holy Spirit.

There is one thing more observed, in the answer we are explaining, which
must be briefly considered; namely, that it is a work of grace, which
was the internal moving cause thereof; or, the reason of God’s exerting
his divine power therein. Effectual calling must be a work of grace,
without any motive taken from them, who are the subjects thereof;
inasmuch as they had before this, nothing in them, that could render
them the objects of divine love, being described as _dead in trespasses
and sins, alienated from the life of God_, and _enmity_ itself _against
him_: so that their condition, antecedent hereunto, cannot be supposed
to be the moving cause hereof; for that which is in itself, altogether
unlovely, cannot afford a motive for love to any one that weighs the
circumstances of persons and things, and acts in pursuance thereof.

_Object._ But whereas it is objected, that though the present condition
of unregenerate persons cannot afford any motive inducing God thereunto,
yet the foresight of their future conduct might.

_Answ._ To this we answer, That all the good which shall be found in
believers, is God’s gift; he is the finisher as well as the author of
faith; and therefore it cannot be said, that any thing out of himself,
was the moving cause hereof. And to this we may add, That God foresaw
the vile and unworthy behaviour of believers, proceeding from the
remainders of corrupt nature in them, as well as those graces which he
would enable them to act: so that there is as much in them that might
induce him to hate them, as there is to move him to love them; and
therefore we must conclude, that his love proceeds from another cause;
or that it is by the grace of God alone, that we are what we are: which
leads us to consider,

4. That the power and grace of God, displayed in effectual calling, is
irresistible, and consequently such as cannot but be effectual to
produce that which is designed to be brought about thereby. To deny
this, would be to infer, that the creature has an equal, if not a
superior, force to God: for, as, in nature, every thing that impedes or
stops a thing that is in motion, must have an equal force to resist with
that which is affected by it; so, in the work of grace, if the will of
man can render the power of God of none effect, or stop the progress of
divine grace, contrary to his design or purpose, this must argue the
creature’s power of resisting, equal to that which is put forth by God,
in order to the bringing this work to perfection. This consequence is so
derogatory to the divine glory, that no one who sees it to be just, will
maintain the premises from whence it is deduced.

If it be said, that God may suffer himself to be resisted; and his
grace, that would otherwise have been effectual, to be defeated; this
will not much mend the matter; but only, in order to the avoiding one
absurd consequence, bring in another; for if every one would have, what
he purposes to be done brought to pass, and would not be disappointed,
if he could help it, the same must be said of the great God. Now if God
could have prevented his purpose from being defeated, but would not,
this argues a defect of wisdom; if his own glory was designed, by
purposing to do that which the creature renders ineffectual, then he
misses of that end, which cannot but be the most valuable, and
consequently most desirable: therefore, for God to suffer a purpose of
this nature, to be defeated, supposing he could prevent it, is to suffer
himself to be a loser of that glory which is due to his name. Moreover,
this is directly contrary to what the apostle says, _Who hath resisted
his will_, Rom. ix. 19. or who hath rendered the grace, which he
designed should take effect, ineffectual, or, which is the same thing,
who can do it?

The ground on which many have asserted, that the grace of God may be
resisted, is taken from some scriptures, that speak of man’s being in
open hostility against him. Thus we read of a bold daring sinner, as
_stretching out his hand against God, and strengthening himself against
the Almighty, running upon him, even on his neck, upon the thick bosses
of his bucklers_, Job xv. 25, 26. And Stephen reproves the Jews as
having _always resisted the Holy Ghost, both they and their fathers_,
Acts vii. 51, 52. and the Pharisees are said to _have rejected_, Luke
vii. 30. or, as the word[27] might have been rendered, _disannulled the
counsel of God against themselves_. And elsewhere, the prophet speaks of
God’s _stretching out his hand all the day unto a disobedient and
gainsaying people_, Rom. x. 21. These, and such like scriptures give
occasion to some to suppose, that the power and grace, as well as the
purpose of God, may be resisted.

But that we may understand the sense of these scriptures, and, at the
same time not relinquish the doctrine we are maintaining, and thereby
infer the consequence above-mentioned; we must distinguish between our
opposition to God’s revealed will, contained in his word, which is the
rule of duty to us; and resisting his secret will, which determines the
event. Or, as it may be otherwise expressed, it is one thing to set
ourselves against the objective grace of God, that is, the gospel, and
another thing to defeat his subjective grace, that when he is about to
work effectually in us, we should put a stop to his proceedings. The
former no one denies; the latter we can, by no means, allow of. Persons
may express a great deal of reluctancy and perverseness at that time,
when God is about to subdue their stubborn and obstinate wills; but the
power of God will break through all this opposition; and the will of man
shall not be able to make his work void, or without effect. The Jews, as
above-mentioned, might _resist the Holy Ghost_, that is, oppose the
doctrines contained in scripture, which were given by the Spirit’s
inspiration; and they might make this revelation of no effect, with
respect to themselves; but had God designed that it should take effect,
then he would have prevented their resisting it. Israel might _be a
gainsaying people_, that is, they might oppose what God communicated to
them by the prophets, which it was their duty and interest to have
complied with; and so the offers of grace in God’s revealed will, might
be in vain with respect to them; but it never was so with respect to
those whom he designed to save: and if the hardened sinner, _stretching
out his hand against God_, may be said hereby to express his averseness
to holiness, and his desire to be exempted from the divine government;
he may be found in open rebellion against him, as hating and opposing
his law; but he cannot offer any real injury to his divine perfections,
so as to detract from his glory, to render his purpose of no effect.
Moses speaking concerning God’s works of providence, says, _They are
perfect; for all his ways are judgment_, Deut. xxxii. 4. And elsewhere,
God, by the prophet Isaiah, says, _I will work, and who shall let it_,
Isa. xliii. 13. From whence he argues, his eternal Deity, and
uncontroulable power, when he says, _before the day was, I am he, and
there is none that can deliver out of my hand_; so that if a stop might
be put to his works of providence, he would cease to be a God of
infinite perfection; and may we not from hence infer, that his works of
grace are not subject to any controul; so that when he designs to call
any effectually, nothing shall prevent this end’s being answered, which
is what we intend, when we speak of the power and grace of God as
irresistible; which leads us to consider,

5. The season or time in which persons are effectually called; which in
this answer, is said to be God’s accepted time. If the work be free and
sovereign, without any motive in us, the time in which he does it, must
be that which he thinks most proper. Here we may observe,

(1.) That some are regenerate in their infancy, when the word can have
no instrumentality, in producing the least acts of grace; these have
therefore the seeds thereof, which spring up, and discover themselves,
when they are able to make use of the word. That persons are capable of
regeneration from the womb, is no less evident, than that they are
capable of having the seeds or principle of reason from thence, which
they certainly have; and if it be allowed, that regeneration is
connected with salvation, and that infants are capable of the latter, as
our Saviour says, that _of such is the kingdom of God_; then they must
be certainly capable of the former; and not to suppose some infants
regenerate from the womb, would be to exclude a very great part of
mankind from salvation, without scripture-warrant.

(2.) Others are effectually called in their childhood, or riper years,
and some few in old age; that so no age of life may be an inducement to
despair, or persons be thereby discouraged from attending on the means
of grace. Thus it is said concerning Josiah, That _in the eighth year of
his reign, while he was yet young, he began to seek after the God of
David, his father_, 2 Chron. xxxiv. 1. and David was converted when he
was a _youth, a stripling of a ruddy and beautiful countenance_, 1 Sam.
xvi. 12. compared with chap. xvii. 56, 58. And Moses seems to have been
effectually called, when he left Pharaoh’s court; and _it came into his
heart to visit his brethren the children of Israel_; at which time he
was _forty years old_, Acts vii. 23. And Abraham seems to have been made
partaker of this grace, when he was called to leave his country, when he
was seventy-five years old; before which, it is probable, that he,
together with the rest of his father’s family, served other gods, Josh.
xxiv. 2. compared with Gen. xii. 4. And we read, in one single instance,
of a person converted in the very agonies of death, _viz._ the thief
upon the cross, Luke xxiii. 43.

(3.) Sometimes, when persons seem most disposed hereunto, and are under
the greatest convictions, and more inclined to reform their lives, than
at other times, the work appears, by the issue thereof, to be no more
than that of common grace, which miscarries and leaves them worse than
they were before; and, it may be, after this, when they seem less
inclined hereunto, that is, God’s accepted time, when he begins the work
with power, which he afterwards carries on and completes. Some are
suffered to run great lengths in sin, before they are effectually
called; as the apostle Paul, _in whom God was pleased to shew forth all
long suffering, as a pattern to them which should hereafter believe_, 1
Tim. i. 16. So that the time and means being entirely in his hand, as we
ought not to presume, but wait for the day of salvation in all his
ordinances; so, whatever our age and circumstances are, we are still
encouraged to hope for the mercy of God, unto eternal life; or, that he
will save and call us, with an holy calling.

Footnote 5:

  That the invitations of the gospel are not restricted to a few amongst
  a larger number who hear them, is clear, from various considerations.

  The term evangel, or gospel, importing good tidings, evinces, that it
  is designed not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance and

  The blessings, which it announces, lead to the same conclusion;
  liberty is offered to the captives, and the opening of the prison to
  those who are bound; those who labour and are heavily laden, are
  invited to seek, and obtain rest: those who hunger and thirst after
  righteousness, are assured that they shall be filled; the riches of
  grace and of glory are promised to the poor in Spirit; sight is
  offered to the blind; and howsoever diseased, those who are afflicted
  are invited to come to the great Physician; and even those who are
  dead in sin are revived by his life-giving word. Such are the
  circumstances of the worst of men, who are consequently the objects of
  the mercies proffered in the gospel.

  The unregenerate elect, who stand amongst those who will not be saved,
  are like them, possessed of prevailing inclinations to sin, and
  equally impotent to good: they are all equally guilty of an aversation
  of heart from God, and so possess in themselves nothing which can
  evidence a right to gospel blessings more than others.

  The invitations of the gospel are in universal terms, and although
  such terms are sometimes restricted by the sense, yet where no such
  restriction appears, they are to be taken in their own unlimited
  extent; the ransom is asserted to have been rendered for all; the Lord
  willeth not the destruction of any, but that all should turn and live;
  Christ proclaimed to sinners, _if any man thirst, let him come unto me
  and drink_; and directed his disciples to go and _teach all nations_;
  and it is his will, that the gospel should be preached _unto every

  If in the day of final account, the abominable crimes of Sodom and
  Gomorrha shall evince less guilt than the impenitency of Chorazin and
  Bethsaida; the aggravation of guilt, which the gospel produces,
  demonstrates that its messages are directed unto the worst of men, as
  well as others.

  Those who are guided by the light of nature, are guilty, because they
  violate the rule of conscience: such as possessed the law of God were
  still more guilty, but sinners under the light of the gospel, who
  trample under foot the blood of Christ, and despise and reject the
  mercies of the gospel, are guilty in the highest degree. It is just
  that they should not receive the offered pardon, but remain under the
  condemnation of the law, the dominion of iniquity, the slavery of
  Satan, and be left in their beloved darkness until they sink in
  despair. Yet nothing but their own aversion rejects the invitation, or
  prevents their salvation: they are straitened in their own bowels, and
  are the causes of their own destruction. Thus salvation is offered in
  general, and God is just, though the application of it is plainly

Footnote 6:

  Vide Fuller’s “Gospel worthy of all Acceptation.”

Footnote 7:

  _See Vol. II. page 333._

Footnote 8:

  _This is what is generally called the_ formalis _ratio of liberty._

Footnote 9:

  _We generally say, that whatever is essential to a thing, belongs to
  it as such. And there is a known rule in logic_, A quatenus ad omne
  valet consequentia; _and the then absurd consequences, above
  mentioned, would necessarily follow from it._

Footnote 10:

  _In this respect divines generally consider liberty as opposed to
  co-action: but here we must distinguish between a natural co-action
  and a moral one. Liberty is not opposed to a moral co-action, which is
  very consistent with it. Thus an honest man cannot allow himself in a
  vile action; he is under a moral constraint to the contrary; and yet
  he abstains from sin freely. A believer loves Christ freely, as the
  apostle Paul certainly did; and yet, at the same time, he was under
  the constraint of the love of Christ; as he himself expresses it_, _2
  Cor._ v. 14.

Footnote 11:

  _This divines generally call_ spontaneity.

Footnote 12:

  _This some call_ lubentia rationalis.

Footnote 13:

  _This some divines call_ voluntas serva.

Footnote 14:

  _The question between us and the Pelagians, is not whether the will
  sometimes follows the dictates of the understanding, but, whether it
  either always does so? or, if it be otherwise, whether that which
  hinders it does not arise from a defect in these dictates of the
  understanding? Accordingly they speak of the dictates of the
  understanding as practical, and not barely speculative, and with a
  particular application to ourselves. They also consider the will as
  having been before in some suspense; but that dictate of the
  understanding which it follows, is the last, after mature
  deliberation; and it is supposed to have compared things together; and
  therefore presents a thing, not only as good, but more eligible than
  any thing else, which they call a comparate dictate of the
  understanding; and by this means the will is persuaded to a
  compliance. But though this may be true in many instances that are
  natural; yet daily experience proves, that it does not hold good with
  respect to things divine and supernatural._

Footnote 15:

  The manners and maxims of the world accord with the inclinations of
  the human mind, because they spring from them: the dispositions and
  the pursuits of men are at variance with the laws of God, the
  doctrines of the gospel, and the practice of the saints, this will
  appear by comparing them. That the human mind should be brought to
  submit to the self-denial requisite to the character of a true
  christian, its bias or bent must be changed. Because men are moral
  agents, various motives are addressed to them to induce such change,
  when not attended to, they aggravate their guilt: when they are
  followed by the change, which they have a tendency to produce, those
  who yield are said to be “born of the word.” Were it not for the
  information we derive from the scriptures we should probably look no
  further than the proximate cause, and give man the glory; but these
  teach us, that the Spirit of God is always in such change, if it be
  real, the efficient cause: “God sanctifies _by_ the truth,” he
  “_opens_ the heart to attend” to the word, and when any have _learned_
  from and been _taught_ or _drawn_ by the Father they come unto Christ;
  they are therefore also in a higher sense _born of the Spirit_.

  This work of God immediately upon the mind, is possible to him, who
  formed, sustains, and knows the secrets of the heart; if we are
  unconscious of our creation, support in existence, and the access of
  the Searcher of hearts to our minds, we may be unconscious of his
  influence to change them. If this were sensible, it might be a motive
  incompatible with the safety and moral government of beings, who at
  best, whilst here, are imperfectly holy.

  The communication of the knowledge of saving truths immediately is
  unnecessary: we have the sacred scriptures, which are competent to
  make us wise unto salvation. The inspiration anciently given, is
  distinct from the change of bias, or disposition necessary to a
  preparation for heaven, might exist without, and is therefore inferior
  to it.

  It is not the sole effect of moral suasion, it is a work of the spirit
  not the letter, of power not the word: it is a birth, not by “blood,
  nor by the will of the flesh, nor _by the will_ of man, but of God,”
  and those only “who are of God, hear,” believe, and obey his word.

  This influence is sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf, riches to
  the poor, health to the sick, and life to the dead. It is not
  incompatible with moral agency, for the holy disposition is as free in
  its operation, as the former sinful inclinations had been in theirs.
  The necessity of it to salvation, is no excuse for the impenitent;
  grace is not necessary to the vindication of Divine justice: the
  preponderancy of inclinations to evil is the essence of, not an
  apology for sin. It is very strange if, because a man is so intent
  upon sinning that nothing can change him but the almighty power of the
  Divine Spirit, he is on this very account innocent.—It does not render
  the preaching of the word unnecessary, for besides that it is
  commanded, and important to call men to repentance and faith, when the
  grace has been given, God also usually accompanies his ordinances with
  his Spirit’s influences, and seems in most cases, to direct in his
  providence the blessings of his instructions to those whom he makes
  the subjects of his grace.

Footnote 16:

  “I have seen it objected, that to suppose a change effected in the
  heart of man, otherwise than by the power of moral means, is palpably
  absurd; as implying an evident impossibility in the nature of things.
  It has been said, by a divine of advanced age, and good sense; ‘The
  moral change of the mind in regeneration, is of an essentially
  different kind from the mechanical change of the body, when that is
  raised from the dead; and must be effected by the exertion of a
  different kind of power. Each effect requires a power suited to its
  nature: and the power proper for one can never produce the other. To
  argue from one to the other of these effects, as the apostle has been
  misunderstood to do, in Eph. i. 20, is therefore idle and
  impertinent.—The Spirit of God is possessed of these two kinds of
  power, and exerts the one or the other, accordingly as he wills to
  produce a change of the moral or physical kind, in moral beings or
  inanimate matter.’

  “But to this philosophical objection, however plausible and
  unanswerable it may appear, I think the reply of our Saviour to the
  difficulty started by the Sadducees, respecting the resurrection and a
  future state, is neither idle, nor impertinent: ‘Ye do err, not
  knowing the scriptures, nor the power of _God_.’ The Almighty is not
  limited, as men are, to these two modes of operation, by moral and
  mechanical means. The Spirit of God is possessed of a power of working
  in a manner different from either of these; that is, supernaturally.
  The means by which effects are brought to pass in a natural way, must
  indeed be different; according to the nature of those effects, and of
  the subjects on which the operations are performed: but when once we
  admit the idea of a work properly supernatural—an effect produced not
  by the power of any means at all, we instantly lose sight of all
  distinctions in the kind of power, or manner of working, adapted to
  things of different natures. When God, by his omnipotent word alone,
  called all nature into being at first, are we to suppose that he
  exerted different powers, according to the natures of the things
  designed to be created; and that the power proper to create inanimate
  matter, could never create a thinking mind! Are we to conceive that
  angels and the souls of men were persuaded into being, by arguments
  and motives; and that the material world was forced out of nothing, by
  the power of attraction! So, in regard to quickening the dead, are we
  to imagine that God can give new life to a soul dead in sin, only by
  moral suasion; and that, if he will reanimate bodies which have slept
  thousands of years in the dust of the earth, he has no other way to do
  it than by a physical operation! The body of Christ was raised to
  life, I should suppose, not by any mechanical power, but
  supernaturally. In this manner God always works, when he quickeneth
  the dead, and calleth things that are not, as though they were. And
  what absurdity can there be in supposing Him able to give a new
  principle of action, as well as to give existence to any thing else,
  in this immediate manner?

  “Some sound and sensible divines, it must be granted, in order to
  guard against the notion of regeneration’s being effected by moral
  suasion, have called it a physical work, and a physical change; but
  very needlessly, I apprehend, and with very evident impropriety. The
  change is moral: the work producing it, neither moral nor physical;
  but supernatural.”


Footnote 17:

  Ὕπερβαλλον μεγεθος της δυναμεως αυτου—κατα την ενεργειαν του κρατους
  της ισχυος αυτου.

Footnote 18:

  The change in regeneration has been often called the communication of
  _a principle of spiritual life_. It is described as life, in the
  scriptures. Sensible objects make no impressions on dead bodies,
  because insensible; and those, who receive no impressions from divine
  truths, but remain unaffected by the charms of holiness, are
  figuratively denominated _dead_. Life being the opposite of death,
  such as are sensible of the Divine excellencies, and receive the
  impressions which religious truths are calculated to make, may, in the
  same manner, be termed _living_. Such also are called _spiritual_,
  because this holy activity is communicated by the Spirit of God. “You
  hath he quickened;” and, because it has for its object the things
  which have been revealed by the Holy Spirit.

  These terms are derived from the Scriptures, but the word _principle_
  is destitute of such support. It is found in the Epistle to the
  Hebrews: there it is used for those fundamental doctrines, which are
  the _beginnings_ of the doctrine of the gospel; but this is not the
  meaning of the term in the above description. This change is the
  immediate work of God, and not the communication of some operative
  axiom of truth. There are natural principles of action; as habit,
  affection, and passion: and there are moral; as sense of duty, fear of
  God, and love of holiness. These are all termed principles, because
  they excite to action, and so are the beginnings, or causes of it. But
  it is scarcely in this sense, that the term principle is used in the
  description of regeneration; for it is said to be communicated, and so
  must mean something distinct from, and the effect of the work of the
  Spirit. Accordingly it has been called “a fixed impression of some
  spiritual truth upon the heart.” But there is no truth, or other
  motive, sufficient to prevail against the obduracy of the unrenewed
  heart; or to become a _principle_ of action to a soul dead in sin.
  Whatever that is in fallen man, which repels such motives, and
  prevents their influence until some more worthy motive is thrown into
  the scale, it is the work of the Spirit to remove it, and to give the
  soul an activity towards holy things. No intervention of mediate
  causes seems necessary; the Spirit of God is the agent; the soul of
  the man is the subject of influence; and He is said to _open the
  heart, to give a new heart, to create anew, to enlighten the mind in
  the knowledge of the truth, to work in us to will and to do_, or _to
  give sight to the blind, and hearing to the deaf_. From such
  scriptural expressions it may be gathered that sight, knowledge, new
  dispositions, and a change of inclinations, are the _effects_ of
  regeneration, and not the _thing itself_.

  This change is more important than all the gifts of providence, if man
  therefore be the author of it, he is his own greatest benefactor, and
  must have the highest glory. If the Holy Spirit acts no otherwise on
  the human soul, than by addressing motives, angelic natures do also
  this; and no more power is ascribed to the Searcher of hearts, than to
  them. Then also it will follow, that all professing christians are of
  the same kind; and that it was improperly said, that they “were not of
  us,” who afterwards have “departed from us.” Then also the advice to
  those who are in the visible church “to examine,” and “prove
  themselves,” whether Christ be “in them,” is without meaning, or
  utility; because the thing to be inquired for is notorious, that is,
  their visible profession. And to “be born again,” is but “to see the”
  visible “kingdom” of Christ: and so the proposition spoken to
  Nicodemus was merely identical.

Footnote 19:

  _See Charnock, Vol. II. page 220, 221, &c. and Cole on Regeneration._

Footnote 20:

  _See Charnock, Vol. II. page 232, who speaking concerning its being an
  instrument, appointed by God, for this purpose, says, That God hath
  made a combination between hearing and believing; so that believing
  comes not without hearing, and whereas he infers from hence, that the
  principle of grace is implanted, by hearing and believing the word, he
  must be supposed to understand it, concerning the principle deduced
  into act, and not his implanting the principle itself._

Footnote 21:

  _See Charnock on Regeneration, Vol. II. page 70, 71._

Footnote 22:

  _See Quest._ lxxv.

Footnote 23:

  When it is said “_no man can come unto me, except the Father who hath
  sent me, draw him_,” the negation must be understood as expressive of
  _moral_ impotency, and as if it had been said “_ye will not come unto
  me that ye might have life_;” but nevertheless as direct proof of the
  absolute necessity of divine grace to the salvation of every person
  who is saved. That the aid is not merely necessary to the
  _understanding_ is evident from the guilt of unregeneracy, and from
  the supposition of the Saviour whose reproof implies that it was the
  carnality of the _heart_ which created the impotency to come unto or
  believe on him.

  The propriety of exhortations to turn, repent, believe, and work out
  our own salvation, is obvious; because such impotency is chiefly an
  aversion of heart. When such motives are ineffectual, they prove the
  inveteracy of the opposition to God, and argue the greater guilt. They
  are no evidence that grace is unnecessary, because they have an
  important effect in the change of the man’s views, and pursuits, when
  the Spirit of God has “_opened the heart_” to receive the necessary
  impressions; and because these motives are rendered effectual by the
  Divine Spirit. He grants us repentance, turns us, helps our unbelief,
  strengthens our faith, and works in us both to will and to do of his
  own good pleasure.

  Because it is charged upon the evil that they “resist” the grace of
  God, and therefore his Spirit will not always “strive” with men, it by
  no means follows, that the success of grace depends merely upon our
  yielding; as often as men yield to the strivings of the Spirit, a
  victory is obtained; for the carnal heart inclines to evil until
  subdued by him: we are “made willing in a day of his power.” Were it
  otherwise the glory of man’s salvation would belong to himself, at
  least in part; but the language of the believer is “_not unto us, O
  Lord, not unto us, but unto thy name, be the glory given_.” Nor is
  there any need to suppose man’s salvation thus imputable to himself in
  order that the evil may be charged with the blame of his destruction;
  for nothing excludes him but his own evil heart, and this is his sin.

  It does not result that the man, who is thus “made willing,” is in
  such manner constrained as that his holiness, being the effect of
  compulsion, possesses no moral beauty; because he acts as freely as
  the evil man does; and even more so, for the latter is a slave to his
  preponderating evil inclinations. The believer chooses holiness, and
  though he has nothing to boast of before God, his good works may well
  justify him before men.

  If it be yet objected, that this is a discouraging representation of
  the way of obtaining happiness; it may be answered, that it can
  discourage only those, who wish for happiness, at the same time that
  they more strongly incline to sensuality; and such ought to be
  discouraged in their vain expectations: but it is highly consolatory
  to such as prefer holiness and heaven; for it not only discovers to
  them, that God has wrought in them to will and to do, but that he is
  engaged for them, and will accomplish their salvation.

Footnote 24:

  _See Charnock on Regeneration, Vol. II. page 147, 148, &c._

Footnote 25:

  _When we speak of effectual calling’s being the work of the Spirit,
  the agency of the Father and Son is not excluded, since the divine
  power, by which all effects are produced, belongs to the divine
  essence, which is equally predicated of all the persons in the
  Godhead; but when any work is peculiarly attributed to the Spirit,
  this implies his personal glory’s being demonstrated thereby,
  agreeably to what is elsewhere called the oeconomy of the divine
  persons; which see farther explained in Vol. I. page 292, 293_, &c.

Footnote 26:


Footnote 27:


                              Quest. LXIX.

    QUEST. LXIX. _What is the communion in grace, which the members of
    the invisible church have with Christ?_

    ANSW. The communion in grace, which the members of the invisible
    church have with Christ, is, their partaking of the virtue of his
    mediation, in their justification, adoption, sanctification, and
    whatever else, in this life, manifests their union with him.

Having considered the vital union which the members of the invisible
church have with Christ in their effectual calling, we are now led to
speak concerning that communion in grace, which they have with him.

Communion with Christ doth not, in the least, import our being made
partakers of any of the glories or privileges which belong to him as
Mediator; but it consists, in our participation, of those benefits which
he hath purchased for us; and it implies, on his part, infinite
condescension, that he will be pleased to communicate such blessings on
us, and on our’s, unspeakable honours and privileges, which we enjoy
from him: it is sometimes called _fellowship_, 1 John i. 3. which is the
result of friendship, and proceeds from his love: thus our Saviour
speaks of his _loving them, and manifesting himself unto them_, John
xiv. 21. It also proceeds from union with him, and is the immediate
effect and consequence of effectual calling: therefore God is said to
_have called us unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ_, 1 Cor. i.

And it is farther said in this answer, to be a manifestation of our
union with him. He has received those blessings for us, which he
purchased by his blood; and, accordingly is the treasury, as well as the
fountain of all grace; and we are therefore said to _receive of his
fulness, grace for grace_, John i. 16. And the blessings which we are
said to receive, by virtue of his mediation, are justification,
adoption, and sanctification, with all other benefits that either
accompany or flow from them; which are particularly explained in the
following answers.

                           Quest. LXX., LXXI.

    QUEST. LXX. _What is justification?_

    ANSW. Justification is an act of God’s free grace unto sinners, in
    which he pardoneth all their sins, accepteth and accounteth their
    persons righteous in his sight; not for any thing wrought in them,
    or done by them, but only for the perfect obedience and full
    satisfaction of Christ, by God imputed to them, and received by
    faith alone.

    QUEST. LXXI. _How is justification an act of God’s free grace?_

    ANSW. Although Christ, by his obedience and death, did make a
    proper, real, and full satisfaction to God’s justice, in the behalf
    of them that are justified; yet, inasmuch as God accepteth the
    satisfaction from a surety, which he might have demanded of them,
    did provide this surety, his own only Son, imputing his
    righteousness to them, and requiring nothing of them for their
    justification, but faith; which also is his gift; their
    justification is, to them, of free grace.

Hitherto we have been led to consider that change of heart and life
which is begun in effectual calling; whereby a dead sinner is made
alive, and one that was wholly indisposed for, and averse to the
performance of good works, is enabled to perform them by the power of
divine grace: and now we are to speak concerning that change of state
which accompanies it; whereby one, who being guilty before God, was
liable to the condemning sentence of the law, and expected no other than
an eternal banishment from his presence, is pardoned, received into
favour, and has a right to all the blessings which Christ has, by his
obedience and sufferings, purchased for him. This is what we call
justification; and it is placed immediately after the head of effectual
calling, as being agreeable to the method in which it is insisted on in
that golden chain of salvation, as the apostle says, _Whom he called,
them he also justified_, Rom. viii. 30.

This is certainly a doctrine of the highest importance, inasmuch as it
contains in it the way of peace, the foundation of all our hope, of the
acceptance both of our persons and services, and beholding the face of
God, at last, with joy. Some have styled it the very _basis_ of
Christianity; and our forefathers thought it so necessary to be insisted
on and maintained, according to the scripture-account thereof, that they
reckoned it one of the principal doctrines of the reformation. And,
indeed, the apostle Paul speaks of it as so necessary to be believed,
that he concluded that the denying or perverting of it was the ground
and reason of the Jews being rejected; _who being ignorant of God’s
righteousness, and going about to establish a righteousness of their
own, have not submitted themselves to the righteousness of God_: and
when they shall be called, if their call be intended, in that account
which we have, of _the marriage of the Lamb, and his wife having made
herself ready_, Rev. xix. 7. as many suppose, it is worth observing,
that she is described as _arrayed in fine linen, which is the
righteousness of saints_, or Christ’s righteousness, by which they are
justified: this is that in which they glory; and therefore are
represented as being convinced of the importance of that doctrine which,
before, they were ignorant of. This we have an account of in these two
answers, which we are now to explain, and shall endeavour to do it in
the following method.

I. We shall consider what we are to understand by the word _justify_.

II. What are the privileges contained therein, as reduced to two heads,
to wit, pardon of sin; and God’s accounting them who are justified,
righteous in his sight? And,

III. What is the foundation of our justification? namely, a
righteousness wrought out for us.

IV. The utter inability of fallen man to perform any righteousness, that
can be the matter of his justification in the sight of God.

V. That our Lord Jesus Christ has wrought out this righteousness for us,
as our surety, by performing active and passive obedience; which is
imputed to us for our justification.

VI. We shall consider it as an act of God’s free grace. And,

VII. Shew the use of faith in justification, or in what respects faith
is said to justify.

I. We shall consider in what sense we are to understand the word
_justify_. As there are many disputes about the method of explaining the
doctrines of justification; so there is a contest between us and the
Papists, about the sense of the word; they generally supposing, that _to
justify_, is to make inherently righteous and holy; because
righteousness and holiness sometimes import the same thing; and both of
them denote an internal change in the person who is so denominated; and
accordingly they argue, that as to _magnify_ signifies to make great; to
_fortify_, to make strong; so to _justify_ is to make just or holy: and
they suppose, that whatever we do to make ourselves so, or whatever good
works are the ingredients of our sanctification, these must be
considered as the matter of our justification. And some Protestant
divines have supposed, that the difference between them and us, is
principally about the sense of a word; which favourable and charitable
construction of their doctrine, would have been less exceptionable, if
the Papists had asserted no more than that justification might have been
taken in this sense, when considered, not as giving us a right to
eternal life, or being the foundation of that sentence of absolution,
which God passes upon us: but since this is the sense they give of it,
when they say that we are justified by our inherent holiness, we are
bound to conclude, that it is very remote from the scripture sense of
the word.

We do not deny that justification is sometimes taken in a sense
different from that which is intended by it, when used to signify the
doctrine we are explaining. Sometimes nothing more is intended hereby,
than our vindicating the divine perfections from any charge which is
pretended to be brought against them. Thus the Psalmist says, _That thou
mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou
judgest_, Psal. li. 4. And our Saviour is said to be justified, that is,
his person or character vindicated or defended from the reproaches that
were cast on him; as it is said, _Wisdom is justified of her children_,
Matt. xi. 19. Luke vii. 35. Also we frequently read of the justification
of the actions or conduct of persons, in scripture; in which sense their
own works may be said to justify or vindicate them from the charge of
hypocrisy or unregeneracy. Again, to justify is sometimes taken, in
scripture, for using endeavours to turn many to righteousness: and
therefore our translators have rendered the words, in the prophecy of
Daniel, which signify, _they who justify many, they who turn many to
righteousness, shall shine as the stars_, Dan. xii. 3.[28]

There are various other senses which are given of this word, which we
pass over as not applicable to the doctrine we are maintaining, and
therefore shall proceed to consider the sense in which it is used, when
importing a sinner’s justification in the sight of God; wherein it is to
be taken only in a forensick sense, and accordingly signifies a person’s
being acquitted or discharged from guilt, or a liableness to
condemnation, in such a way as is done in courts of judicature: thus we
read in the judicial law, that _if there be a controversy between men,
and they come unto judgment, that the judges may judge them, then they
shall justify the righteous, and condemn the wicked_, Deut. xxv. 1.
where _to justify the righteous_, is to be understood for acquitting or
discharging one that appears to be righteous, or not guilty, from
condemnation; whereas _the wicked_, that is, they who appear to be
guilty, are to be _condemned_: and in this sense the word is used, when
applied to the doctrine of justification, in the New Testament, and
particularly in Paul’s epistles; who largely insists on this subject.

Now that we may understand how a sinner may expect to be discharged at
God’s tribunal, let us consider the methods of proceeding used in human
courts of judicature: herein, it is supposed, that there is a law that
forbids some actions which are deemed criminal; and also, that a
punishment is annexed to this law, which renders the person that
violated it, guilty; and then persons are supposed to be charged with
the violation thereof; which charge, if it be not made good, they are
said to be justified, that is, cleared from presumptive, not real guilt:
but if the charge be made good, and he that fell under it, liable to
punishment; if he suffer the punishment he is justified, as in crimes
that are not of a capital nature; or if he be any otherwise cleared from
the charge, so that his guilt be removed, then he is deemed a justified
person: and so the law has nothing to lay to his charge, with respect to
that which he was before accused of. Thus when a sinner, who had been
charged with the violation of the divine law, found guilty before God,
and exposed to a sentence of condemnation, is freed from it, then he is
said to be justified; which leads us to consider,

II. The privileges contained in justification; which are forgiveness of
sin and a right and title to eternal life. These are sufficiently
distinguished, though never separated; so that when we find but one of
them mentioned in a particular scripture, which treats on this subject,
the other is not excluded. Forgiveness of sin is sometimes expressed in
scripture, by a not imputing sin; and a right to life, includes in it
our being made partakers of the adoption of children, and a right to the
inheritance prepared for them. The apostle mentions both these together,
when he speaks of our having _redemption through the blood of Christ,
even the forgiveness of sins_; and being _made meet to be partakers of
the inheritance of the saints in light_, Col. i. 12, 14. And elsewhere
he speaks of Christ’s _redeeming them that were under the law_; which
includes the former branch of justification, and of their _receiving the
adoption of children_, which includes the latter. And again he considers
a justified person as _having peace with God_, which more especially
respects pardon of sin, and of their _having access to the grace wherein
they stand_, and their _rejoicing in hope of the glory of God_, Rom. v.
1, 2. which is what we are to understand by, or includes in it, their
right to life.

That justification consists of both these branches, we maintain against
the Papists, who suppose that it includes nothing else but forgiveness
of sin, which is founded on the blood of Christ; whereas, according to
them, our right to life depends on our internal qualifications, or
sincere obedience. And besides these, there are some Protestant divines,
who suppose that it consists only in pardon of sin; and this is
asserted, by them, with different views; some do it as most consistent
with the doctrine of justification by works, which they plead for;
whereas, others do it as being most agreeable to another notion which
they advance, namely, that we are justified only by Christ’s passive
obedience; which will be considered under a following head. Again, there
are others, whose sentiments of the doctrine of justification are
agreeable to scripture, who maintain, that it includes both forgiveness
of sins, and a right to life; but yet they add, that the former is
founded on Christ’s passive obedience, and the latter on his active:
whereas, we cannot but think, that the whole of Christ’s obedience, both
active and passive, is the foundation of each of these; which will also
be considered, when we come to speak concerning the procuring cause of
our justification.

All that we shall observe at present, is, that these two privileges are
inseparably connected; therefore, as no one can have a right to life,
but he whose sins are pardoned; so no one can obtain forgiveness of sin,
but he must, as the consequence hereof, have a right to life. As by the
fall, man first became guilty, and then lost that right to life which
was promised in case he had stood; so it is agreeable to the divine
perfections, provided the guilt be removed, that he should be put in the
same state as though it had not been contracted, and consequently, that
he should not only have forgiveness of sins, but a right to life.
Forgiveness of sin, without a right to eternal life, would render our
justification incomplete; therefore, when any one is pardoned by an act
of grace, he is put in possession of that which, by his rebellion, he
had forfeited, he is considered, not only as released out of prison, but
as one who has the privileges of a subject, such as those which he had
before he committed the crime. Without this he would be like Absalom,
when, upon Joab’s intercession with David, the guilt of murder, which he
had contracted, was remitted so far, as that he had liberty to return
from Geshur, whither he was fled: nevertheless, he reckons himself not
fully discharged from the guilt he had contracted, and concludes his
return to Jerusalem, as it were, an insignificant privilege; unless, by
being admitted to see the king’s face, and enjoy the privileges which he
was possessed of before, he might be dealt with as one who was taken
into favour, as well as forgiven, 2 Sam. xiv. 2. which was accordingly
granted. This leads us to consider these two branches of justification
in particular. And,

1. Forgiveness of sin. Sin is sometimes represented as containing in it
moral impurity, as opposed to holiness of heart and life; and
accordingly is said, _to defile a man_, Matt. xv. 19, 20. and is set
forth by several metaphorical expressions in scripture, which tend to
beget an abhorrence of it as of things impure; in which sense it is
removed in sanctification rather, than in justification; not but that
divines sometimes speak of Christ’s redeeming us from the filth and
dominion of sin, and our deliverance from it in justification: but these
are to be understood as rendering us guilty; inasmuch as all moral
pollutions are criminal, as contrary to the law of God; otherwise our
deliverance from them would not be a branch of justification; and
therefore, in speaking to this head, we shall consider sin as that which
renders men guilty before God, and so shew what we are to understand by

This supposes a person to be under a law, and to have violated it;
accordingly sin is described as the _transgression of the law_, 1 John
iii. 4. The law of God, in common with all other laws, is primarily
designed to be the rule of obedience; and in order thereunto, it is a
declaration of the divine will, which, as creatures and subjects, we are
under a natural obligation to comply with; and God, as a God of infinite
holiness and sovereignty, cannot but signify his displeasure in case of
disobedience; and therefore he has annexed a threatening to his law, or
past a condemning sentence, as that which is due for every
transgression: this divines sometimes call the sanction of the law, or a
fence, with which it is guarded, that so, through the corruption of our
nature, we may not conclude, that we may rebel against him with
impunity: this the scripture styles, _The curse of the law_, Gal. iii.
10. So that guilt is a liableness to the curse or condemning sentence of
the law, for our violation of it: this is sometimes called a debt of
punishment, which we owe to the justice of God, for not paying that debt
of obedience which was due from us to his law. Thus, when our Saviour
advises us to pray, that our sins may be forgiven; he expresses it by
_forgiving us our debts_, Luke xi. 4. Matt. vi. 12. so that forgiveness,
as it is a freeing us from guilt, discharges us from the guilt of
punishment which we were liable to.

There is a twofold debt which man owes to God; one he owes to him as a
creature under a law; this is that debt of obedience, which he cannot be
discharged from; and therefore, a justified person is, in this sense, as
much a debtor as any other. There is also a debt which man contracts as
a criminal, whereby he is liable to suffer punishment; this alone is
removed in justification.

Moreover, we must carefully distinguish between the demerit of sin, or
its desert of punishment; and the sinner’s obligation to suffer
punishment for it. The former of these is inseparable from sin, and not
removed, or, in the least lessened, by pardoning mercy; for sin is no
less the object of the divine detestation; nor is its intrinsic evil, or
demerit, abated by its being forgiven; and therefore, a justified
person, remaining still a sinner, as transgressing the law of God, has
as much reason to condemn himself, in this respect, as though he had not
been forgiven. The Psalmist speaking concerning a person that is
actually forgiven or justified, says, notwithstanding, that _if thou
Lord, shouldst mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand?_ Psal. cxxx. 3.
He was, at the same time, in a justified state; but yet he concludes,
that there is a demerit of punishment in every sin that he committed;
though, when it is pardoned, the obligation to suffer punishment is
taken away:[29] and therefore, the apostle speaking of such, says,
_There is no condemnation to them_, Rom. viii. 1. We must farther
distinguish between our having matter of condemnation in us; this a
justified person has; and there being no condemnation to us; that is,
the immediate result of being pardoned.

There are several expressions in scripture, whereby forgiveness is set
forth, namely, God’s covering sin: thus the Psalmist says, _Blessed is
he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered_, Psal. xxxii.
1. or, his hiding his face from it, and blotting it out; or, _when it is
sought for_, Psal. li. 9. its _not being found_, Jer. l. 20. and,
_casting our sins into the depths of the sea_, Micah vii. 19. And
elsewhere it is said, That when God had pardoned the sins of his people,
_he did not behold iniquity in Jacob, nor see perverseness in Israel_,
Numb, xxiii. 21. which amounts to the same thing as the foregoing
expressions of its being covered, hid, blotted out, _&c._

I am sensible there have been many contests about the sense of this
scripture; which might, without much difficulty, have been compromised,
had the contending parties been desirous to know each others sense,
without prejudice or partiality. It is not to be thought, that when God
forgives sin, he does not know, or suppose that the person forgiven,
had, before this, contracted guilt by sins committed; for without this,
he could not be the object of forgiveness. When God is said not to look
upon, or hide his face from their sins, it is not to be supposed, that
he knows not what they have done, or what iniquities they daily commit
against him; for that would be subversive of his omniscience: and when
he is said not to mark our iniquities, we are not to understand it, as
though he did not look upon the sins we commit, though in a justified
state, with abhorrence; for the sinner may be pardoned, and yet the
crime forgiven be detested. But God’s not seeing sin in his people, is
to be taken in a forensic sense; and accordingly, when an atonement is
made for sin, and the guilt thereof taken away, the criminal, in the eye
of the law, is as though he had not sinned; he is as fully discharged
from the indictment, that was brought in against him, as though he had
been innocent, not liable to any charge founded upon it; and therefore
the apostle says, _Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect?
It is God that justifieth_, Rom. viii. 33. and it is the same, as for
God _not to enter into judgment_, as the Psalmist elsewhere expresses
it; or to _punish us less than our iniquities have deserved_, Psal.
cxliii. 2. In this sense the indictment that was brought against him, is
cancelled, the sentence reversed, and prosecution stopped; so that
whatever evils are endured as the consequence of sin, or with a design
to humble him for it, as bringing sin to his remembrance, with all its
aggravating circumstances, he is, nevertheless, encouraged to hope, that
these are not inflicted in a judicial way, by the vindictive justice of
God demanding satisfaction; but to display and set forth the holiness of
his nature, as infinitely opposite to all sin, and the dispensations of
his providence agreeably thereunto; and that with a design to bring him
to repentance for it.

And, that this privilege may appear to be most conducive to our
happiness and comfort, let it be considered; that wherever God forgives
sin, he forgives all sin, cancels every debt that rendered him liable to
punishment, otherwise our condition would be very miserable, and our
salvation impossible; our condition would be like that of a person who
has several indictments brought in against him, every one of which
contain an intimation that his life is forfeited; it would avail him
very little for one indictment to be superseded, and the sentence due to
him for the others, executed: thus the apostle speaks of the _free
gift_, being _of many_, that is, of the multitude of our _offences unto
justification_, Rom. v. 16. And elsewhere he speaks of God’s forgiving
his people _all trespasses_, Col. ii. 13. And as he forgives all past
sins, so he gives them ground to conclude, that iniquity shall not be
their ruin; and therefore, the same grace that now abounds towards them
herein, together with the virtue of the atonement made for sin, shall
prevent future crimes being charged upon them to their condemnation.
Thus concerning forgiveness of sin.

2. The other privilege, which they who are justified are made partakers
of, is the acceptation of their persons, as righteous in the sight of
God: thus they are said to be _made accepted in the Beloved_, Eph. i. 6.
and as their persons are accepted, so are their performances,
notwithstanding the many defects that adhere to them. Thus God is said
to have _had respect unto Abel, and to his offering_, Gen. iv. 4. And,
together with this, they have a right and title to eternal life; which
is that inheritance which Christ has purchased for, and God, in his
covenant of grace, has promised to them. This is a very comprehensive
blessing; for it contains in it a right to all those great and precious
promises, which God has made, respecting their happiness both here and
hereafter. But since we shall have occasion to insist on this in a
following answer, under the head of adoption, which some divines, not
without good reason, conclude to be a branch of justification, or, at
least, to contain in it those positive privileges, which they, who are
justified, partake of, either here of hereafter, we shall proceed to

III. What is the foundation of our justification; and that must be
either some righteousness wrought out by us; or for us. Since
justification is a person’s being _made righteous_, as the apostle
styles it, Rom. v. 29. we must consider what we are to understand
hereby; and accordingly a person is said to be righteous who never
violated the law of God, nor exposed himself to the condemning sentence
thereof: in this respect man, while in a state of innocency, was
righteous; his perfect obedience was the righteousness which, according
to the tenor of the covenant he was under, gave him a right to eternal
life; especially it would have done so, had it been persisted in, till
he was possessed of that life; but such a righteousness as this, cannot
be the foundation of our justification, as the apostle says, _By the
works of the law shall no flesh be justified_, Gal. ii. 16. Therefore,
the righteousness we are now speaking of, must be something wrought out
for us, by one who stood in our room and stead, and was able to pay that
debt of obedience, and endure those sufferings that were due for sin,
which the law of God might have exacted of us, and insisted on the
payment of, in our own persons, which, when paid by Christ for us, is
that, (as will be considered under a following head,) which we generally
call Christ’s righteousness, or what he did and suffered in our stead,
in conformity to the law of God; whereby its honour was secured and
vindicated, and justice satisfied; so that God hereby appears to be, as
the apostle says, _Just, and the justifier of him which believeth in
Jesus_, Rom. iii. 26.[30]

IV. We are now to consider the utter inability of fallen man to perform
any righteousness that can be the matter of his justification in the
sight of God; whereby it will appear, as it is observed in this answer,
that we are not accounted righteous in his sight, for any thing wrought
in us, or done by us. That we cannot be justified by suffering the
punishment that was due for sin, appears from the infinite evil thereof;
and the eternal duration of the punishment that it deserves; as our
Saviour observes in the parable concerning the debtor, who did not
_agree with his adversary while in the way_, but was _delivered to the
officer_, and _cast into prison_; from whence he was not to come out
_till he had paid the uttermost farthing_, Matt. v. 25, 26. that is to
say, he shall never be discharged. A criminal who is sentenced to endure
some punishments short of death, or which are to continue but for a term
of years, when he has suffered them, is, upon the account hereof,
discharged, or justified: but it is far otherwise with man, when fallen
into the hands of the vindictive justice of God; therefore the Psalmist
says, _enter not into judgment with thy servant_, or do not punish me
according to the demerit of sin; _for in thy sight shall no flesh living
be justified_.

Neither can any one be justified by performing active obedience to the
law of God; for nothing is sufficient to answer that end, but what is
perfect in all respects; it must be sinless obedience, and that not only
as to what concerns the time to come, but as respecting the time past;
and that is impossible, from the nature of the thing, to be said of a
sinner; for it implies a contradiction in terms. This farther appears
from the holiness of God, which cannot but detest the least defect; and
therefore will not deal with a sinful creature, as though he had been
innocent: and as for sins that are past, they render us equally liable
to a debt of punishment, with those which are committed at present, or
shall be hereafter, in the sight of God. Moreover, the honour of the law
cannot be secured, unless it be perfectly fulfilled; which cannot be
done if there be any defect of obedience.

As for those works which are done by us, without the assistance of the
Spirit of God, these proceed from a wrong principle, and have many other
blemishes attending them, upon the account whereof, they have only a
partial goodness; and for that reason Augustine gives them no better a
character than shining sins[31]: but whatever terms we give them, they
are certainly very far from coming up to a conformity to the divine law.
And as for those good works which are said to be wrought in us, and are
the effect of the power and grace of God, and the consequence of our
being regenerated and converted, these fall far short of perfection;
there is a great deal of sin attending them, which, if God should mark,
none could stand. This is expressed by Job, in a very humble manner;
_How should man be just with God? if he will contend with him, he cannot
answer him one of a thousand_. And, _if I wash myself with snow water,
and make my hands never so clean, yet shalt thou plunge me in the ditch,
and mine own clothes shall abhor me: for he is not a man as I am, that I
should answer him, and we should come together in judgment_, Job ix. 2,
3, 30-32. when God is said to _work in us that which is well pleasing in
his sight_, Heb. xiii. 21. we are not to understand, that the grace
which he works in us, renders us accepted in his sight, in a forensic
sense, or, that it justifies us; for in this respect we are only _made
accepted in the Beloved_, that is, in Christ, Eph. i. 3.

Moreover, as what is wrought in us, has many defects attending it; so it
is not from ourselves, and therefore cannot be accepted as a payment of
that debt of obedience which we owe to the justice of God; and
consequently we cannot be justified thereby. Some, indeed, make the
terms of acceptance, or justification in the sight of God, so very low,
as though nothing were demanded of us but our sincere endeavours to
yield obedience, whatever imperfections it be chargeable with. And
others pretend, that our confessing our sins will be conducive hereunto;
and assert, that our tears are sufficient to wash away the guilt of sin.
The Papists add, that some penances, of acts of self-denial, will
satisfy his justice, and procure a pardon for us; yea, they go farther
than this, and maintain, that persons may perform works of
supererogation, or pay more than the debt that is owing from them, or
than what the law of God requires, and thereby not only satisfy his
justice, but render him a debtor to them; and putting them into a
capacity of transferring these arrears of debt, to those that stand in
need of them, and thereby lay an obligation on them, in gratitude, to
pay them honours next to divine. Such absurdities do men run into, who
plead for human satisfactions, and the merit of good works, as the
matter of our justification: and, indeed, there is nothing can tend more
to depreciate Christ’s satisfaction, on the one hand, and stupify the
conscience on the other; and therefore, it is so far from being an
expedient for justification, that it is destructive to the souls of men.

As for our sincere endeavours, or imperfect obedience, these cannot be
placed by the justice of God, in the room of perfect; for that is
contrary to the nature of justice: We cannot suppose, that he who pays a
pepper-corn, or a few mites, instead of a large sum, really pays the
debt that was due from him; justice cannot account this to be a payment;
therefore, a discharge from condemnation, upon these terms, cannot be
styled a justification. And if it be said that it is esteemed so by an
act of grace: this is to advance the glory of one divine perfection,
and, at the same time, detract from that of another; nothing therefore
can be our righteousness, but that which the justice of God may, in
honour, accept of for our justification: and our own righteousness is so
small and inconsiderable a thing, that it is a dishonour for him to
accept of it in this respect; and therefore we cannot be justified by
works done by us, or wrought in us.

This will farther appear, if we consider the properties of this
righteousness; and in particular, that it must not only be perfect, and
therefore, such as a sinful creature cannot perform; but it must also be
of infinite value, otherwise it could not give satisfaction to the
infinite justice of God; and consequently cannot be performed by any
other than a divine person. And it must also bear some resemblance to
that debt which was due from us, inasmuch as it was designed to satisfy
for the debt which he had contracted; and therefore must be performed by
one who is really man. But this having been insisted on elsewhere, under
the head of Christ’s Priestly office[32], we shall not farther enlarge
on it; but proceed to consider,

V. That our Lord Jesus Christ has wrought out this righteousness for us,
as our Surety, by performing active and passive obedience; which is
imputed to us for our justification. We have before considered that it
is impossible that such a righteousness, as is sufficient to be the
matter of our justification, should be wrought out by us in our own
persons; it therefore follows; that it must be wrought out for us, by
one who bears the character of a surety, and performs every thing that
is necessary to our justification; such an one is our Lord Jesus Christ.
In considering this head, we must,

1. Shew what we are to understand by a _surety_, since it is the
righteousness of Christ, under this relation to us, which is the matter
of our justification. A surety is one who submits to be charged with,
and undertakes to pay a debt contracted by another, to the end that the
debtor may hereby be discharged: thus the apostle Paul engages to be
surety to Philemon, for Onesimus, who had fled from him, whom he had
wronged or injured, and was hereby indebted to him; concerning whom, he
says, _If he hath wronged thee, or oweth thee ought, put that on mine
account; I, Paul, have written it with mine own hand, I will repay it_,
Philem. ver. 18. And elsewhere, we read of Judah’s overture to be surety
for his brother Benjamin, that he should return to his father, as a
motive to induce him to give his consent that he should go with him into
Egypt: _I will be surety for him; of my hand shalt thou require him: if
I bring him not unto thee, and set him before thee, then let me bear the
blame for ever_, Gen. xliii. 9. This is so commonly known in civil
transactions of the like nature, between man and man, that it needs no
farther explication; however, it may be observed,

(1.) That a person’s becoming surety for another, must be a free and
voluntary act: for to force any one to bind himself to pay a debt, which
he has not contracted, is as much an act of injustice, as it is in any
other instance to exact a debt where it is not due.

(2.) He that engages to be surety for another must be in a capacity to
pay the debt, otherwise he is unjust to the creditor, as well as brings
ruin upon himself: therefore it is said, _Be not thou one of them that
strike hands, or of them that are sureties for debts, if thou hast
nothing to pay; why should he take away the bed from under thee?_ Prov.
xxiii. 26, 27.

(3.) He who engages to be surety for another, is supposed not to have
contracted the debt himself; and therefore the creditor must have no
demands upon him, as being involved together with the debtor, and so
becoming engaged antecedent to his being surety: nevertheless, he is
deemed, in the eye of the law, consequent thereunto, to stand in the
debtor’s room, and to be charged with his debt, and equally obliged to
the payment thereof, as though he had contracted it, especially if the
creditor be resolved to exact the payment of him, rather than of the
original debtor[33].

(4.) As debts are of different kinds, so the obligation of a surety
agreeably thereunto admits of different circumstances: thus there are
pecuniary debts resulting from those dealings or contracts which pass
between man and man in civil affairs; and there are debts of service or
obedience; as also debts of punishment, as has been before observed, for
crimes committed; in all which cases, as the nature of the debt differs,
so there are some things peculiar in the nature of suretyship for it. In
pecuniary debts the creditor is obliged to accept of payment at the hand
of any one, who at the request of the debtor is willing to discharge the
debt which he has contracted, especially, if what he pays be his own;
but in debts of service or punishment, when the surety offers himself to
perform of suffer what was due from another, the creditor is at his
liberty to accept of, or refuse satisfaction from him, but might insist
on the payment of the debt by him in his own person, from whom it was

2. Christ was such a surety for us, or substituted in our room, with a
design to pay the debt which was due to the justice of God from us.
Here, that we may assume the ideas of a surety but now-mentioned, and
apply them to Christ, as our surety, let it be considered;

(1.) That what he did and suffered for us was free and voluntary; this
appears from his readiness to engage therein, expressed by his saying,
_Lo, I come to do thy will_, Heb. x. 9. And therefore whatever he
suffered for us did not infer the least injustice in God that inflicted

(2.) He was able to pay the debt, so that there was not the least injury
offered to the justice of God by his undertaking. This is evident, from
his being God incarnate; and therefore in one nature he was able to do
and suffer whatever was demanded of us, and in the other nature to add
an infinite value to what he performed therein.

(3.) He was not rendered incapable of paying our debt, or answering for
the guilt which we had contracted by any debt of his own, which involved
him in the same guilt, and rendered him liable to the same punishment
with us, as is evident from what the prophet says concerning him, who
speaks of him, as charged with our guilt, though _he had done no
violence, neither was any deceit found in his mouth_, Isa. liii. 9. That
which the prophet calls _doing no violence_, the apostle Peter referring
to, and explaining it, styles _doing_, or committing _no sin_ of any
kind. He was not involved in the guilt of Adam’s sin, which would have
rendered him incapable of being a surety to pay that debt for us;
neither had he the least degree of the corruption of nature, being
conceived in an extraordinary way, and sanctified from the womb[35]. Nor
did he ever commit actual sin, for he was holy, harmless, undefiled, and
separate from sinners.

(4.) Another thing observed in the character of a surety, which is very
agreeable to Christ, is; that what he engaged to pay was his own, or at
his own disposal, he did not offer any injury to justice, by paying a
debt that was before due to it, or by performing any service which he
had no warrant to do. It is true, he gave his life a ransom, but
consider him as a divine Person, and he had an undoubted right to
dispose or of, lay down that life which he had as man. Did he consent,
in the eternal transaction between the Father and him, to be incarnate,
and in our nature to perform the work of a Surety? this was an act of
his sovereign will; and therefore whatever he paid as a ransom for us,
was, in the highest sense, his own. The case was not the same as though
one man should offer to lay down his life for another, who has no power
to dispose of his life at pleasure. We are not lords of our own lives;
as we do not come into the world by our own wills, we are not to go out
of it when we please; but Christ was as God, if I may so express myself,
lord of himself, of all that he did and suffered as man; by which I
understand that he had a right as God to consent or determine to do, and
suffer whatever he did and suffered as man; therefore the debt which he
paid in the human nature was his own.

(5.) As it has been before observed, that in some cases he that is
willing to substitute himself as a surety in the room of the debtor,
must be accepted, and approved by him to whom it was due; and in this
respect our Saviour’s substitution as our surety in our room, had a
sanction from God the Father; who gave many undeniable evidences that
what he did and suffered for us, was accepted by him as really as though
it had been done by us in our own persons, which, as was before
observed, might have been refused by him, it being the payment of a debt
of obedience and sufferings. Now that God the Father testified his
acceptance of Christ as our surety, appears,

1. From his well-pleasedness with him, both before and after his
incarnation; before he came into the world, God seems to speak with
pleasure in the fore-thought of what he would be, and do, as Mediator,
when he says, _Behold my servant whom I uphold, mine elect, in whom my
soul delighteth_, Isa. xlii. 1. And he is also said to be _well pleased
for his righteousness sake_, ver. 21. or in his determining before hand
that he should, as Mediator, bring in that righteousness which would
tend to magnify the law, and make it honourable.

Moreover, his having anointed him by a previous designation to this
work, as the prophet intimates, speaking of him before his incarnation,
Isa. lxi. 1, 2. is certainly an evidence of his being approved to be our
surety. And when he was incarnate, God approved of him, when engaged in
the work which he came into the world about: thus, when he was solemnly
set apart, by baptism to the discharge of his public ministry, we read
of a voice from heaven, saying, _This is my beloved Son, in whom I am
well pleased_, Matt. iii. 17. And to this we may add, that there was the
most undeniable proof of God’s well pleasedness with him, as having
accomplished this work, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at
his own right hand, in heavenly places.

2. This may be farther argued from his justifying and saving those for
whom he undertook to be a surety, before the debt was actually paid; and
his applying the same blessings to his people, since the work of
redemption was finished. The application of what Christ undertook to
purchase, is an evidence of the acceptableness of the price. And this
may be considered, either as respecting those that were saved before his
incarnation and death; or those who are, from that time, in all
succeeding ages, made partakers of the saving benefits procured thereby.
Before the actual accomplishment of what he undertook to do and suffer,
as our surety, God the Father trusted him, and, by virtue of his
promising to pay the debt, discharged the Old Testament saints from
condemnation, as effectually as though it had been actually paid. There
are some cases in which a surety’s undertaking to pay a debt, is
reckoned equivalent to the actual payment of it; namely, when it is
impossible that he should make a failure in the payment thereof, either
though mutability, or a fickelness of temper, inducing him to change his
purpose; or from unfaithfulness, which might render him regardless of
his engagement to pay it: or from some change in his circumstances
whereby, though he once was able to pay it, he afterwards becomes
unable: I say, if none of these things can take place, and especially,
if the creditor, by not demanding present payment, receives some
advantage, which is an argument that he does not stand in need thereof:
in these cases the promise to pay a debt is equivalent to the payment of

Now these things may well be applied to Christ’s undertaking to pay our
debt: it was impossible that he should fail in the accomplishment of
what he had undertaken; or change his purpose, and so, though he
designed to do it, enter into other measures; or, though he had promised
to do it, be unfaithful in the accomplishment thereof, these things
being all inconsistent with the character of his person who undertook
it; and, though he suffered for us in the human nature, it was his
divine nature that undertook to do it therein, which is infinitely free
from the least imputation of weakness, mutability, or unfaithfulness:
and, whereas the present payment was not immediately demanded, nor
designed to be made till the fulness of time was come, his forbearance
hereof was compensated by that revenue of glory which accrued to the
divine name, and that honour that redounded to the Mediator, by the
salvation of the elect, before his incarnation; and this was certainly
an undeniable evidence of God’s approving his undertaking.

And since the work of redemption has been completed, all those who are,
or shall be brought to glory, have, in themselves, a convincing proof of
God’s being well pleased with Christ, as substituted in their room and
stead, to pay the debt that was due from them to his justice, as the
foundation of their justification. From hence it plainly appears, that
Christ was substituted as a surety in our room and stead, to do that for
us which was necessary for our justification; and we have sufficient
ground to conclude, that he was so from scripture, from whence alone it
can be proved, it being a matter of pure revelation. Thus he is said, in
express terms, to have been _made a surety of a better testament_, Heb.
vii. 22. and that as our surety, he has paid that debt of sufferings
which was due from us, is evident, in that he is said to _offer himself
a sacrifice for our sins_, ver. 27. and to have been _once offered to
bear the sins of many_, chap. ix. 28. and from his being holy, harmless,
undefiled, and separate from sinners, the apostle argues, that he had no
occasion to offer a sacrifice for himself, or that he had no sin of his
own to be charged with, therefore, herein he bore or answered for our
sins: thus the apostle Peter says, _He bare our sins in his own body, on
the tree, by whose stripes we are healed_, 1 Pet. ii. 24. And elsewhere,
we read of _his being made sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be
made the righteousness of God in him_, 2 Cor. v. 21. that is, he, who
had no guilt of his own to answer for, submitted to be charged with our
guilt, to stand in our room and stead, and accordingly to be made a
sacrifice for sin; all this implies as much as his being made a surety
for us. But this having been particularly insisted on elsewhere in
speaking concerning Christ’s satisfaction, which could not be explained
without taking occasion to mention his being substituted in the room and
stead of those for whom he paid a price of redemption; and, having also
considered the meaning of those scriptures that speak of his bearing our
sins, we shall proceed to consider[36],

3. What Christ did, pursuant to this character, namely, as our surety,
as he paid all that debt which the justice of God demanded from us,
which consisted in active and passive obedience. There was a debt of
active obedience demanded from man as a creature; and upon his failure
of paying it, when he sinned, it became an out-standing debt, due from
us; but such as could never be paid by us. God determines not to justify
any, unless this out-standing debt be paid; Christ, as our surety,
engages to take the payment of it on himself: and, whereas this defect
of obedience, together with all actual transgressions, which proceeded
from the corruption of our nature, render us guilty or liable to the
stroke of vindictive justice, Christ, as our surety, undertakes to bear
that also: this we generally call the imputation of our sin to Christ,
the placing our debt to his account, and the transferring the debt of
punishment, which was due from us to him, upon which account he is said
to yield obedience, and suffer in our room and stead, or to perform
active and passive obedience for us; which two ideas the apostle joins
in one expression, when he says, that he _became obedient unto death_,
Phil. ii. 8. But this having been been insisted on elsewhere, under the
head of Christ’s satisfaction[37], where we shewed, not only that Christ
performed active as well as passive obedience for us, but endeavoured to
answer the objections that are generally brought against Christ’s active
obedience, being part of that debt which he engaged to pay for us; we
shall pass it by at present.

But that which may farther be added, to prove that our sin and guilt
were imputed to him, may be argued from his being said to be _made a
curse for us_, in order to his redeeming us from the curse of the law,
Gal. iii. 13. and also from his _being made sin for us, that we might be
made the righteousness of God in him_, 2 Cor. v. 21. And also from other
scriptures, that speak of him as suffering, though innocent; punished
for sin, though he was at the same time the Lamb of God, without spot or
blemish; dealt with as guilty, though he had never contracted any guilt,
and being made a sacrifice for sin, though sinless, which could not have
been done consistently with the justice of God, had not our sins been
placed to his account, or imputed to him.

It is indeed a very difficult thing to convince some persons, how Christ
could be charged with sin, or have sin imputed to him, in consistency
with the sinless purity of his nature, which some think to be no better
than a contradiction, though it be agreeable to the scripture mode of
speaking, _viz._ _He was made sin for us_, and yet _knew no sin_, 2 Cor.
v. 21. However, when we speak of sin’s being imputed to him, we are far
from insinuating, that he committed any acts of sin; or, that his human
nature was, in the least, inclined to, or defiled thereby; we choose
therefore to use the scripture phrase, in which he is said to have
_borne our sins_, rather than to say, that he was a sinner; much less
would I give countenance to that expression which some make use of, that
he was the greatest sinner in the world; since I do not desire to apply
a word to him, which is often taken in a sense not in the least
applicable to the holy Jesus. We cannot be too cautious in our
expressions, lest the most common sense in which we understand the
greatest sinner, when applied to men, should give any one a wrong idea
of him, as though he had committed, or were defiled with sin. All that
we assert is, that he was charged with our sins, when he suffered for
them, not with having committed them; but with the guilt of them, which,
by his own consent, was imputed to him; otherwise his sufferings could
not have been a punishment for sin; and if they had not been so, our sin
could not have been expiated, nor would his sufferings have been the
ground of our justification. This leads us to consider,

4. The reference that Christ’s suretyship-righteousness has to our
justification. This is generally styled its being imputed; which is a
word very much used by those who plead for the scripture-sense of the
doctrine of justification, and as much opposed by them that deny it; and
we are obliged to defend the use of it; otherwise Christ’s
righteousness, how glorious soever it be in itself, would not avail for
our justification. Here it is necessary for us to explain what we mean
by the imputation of Christ’s righteousness.

There are some who oppose this doctrine, by calling it a putative
righteousness, the shadow or appearance of that which has in it no
reality, or our being accounted what we are not, whereby a wrong
judgment is passed on persons and things. However, we are not to deny it
because it is thus misrepresented, and thereby unfairly opposed: it is
certain, that there are such words used in scripture, and often applied
to this doctrine, which, without any ambiguity or strain on the sense
thereof, may be translated, to reckon, to account, or to place a thing
done by another to our account; or, as we express it, to impute.[38] And
that, either respects what is done by us; or something done by another
for us. The former of these senses our adversaries do not oppose; as
when it is said, that Phinehas _executed judgment, and it was counted
unto him for righteousness_, Psal. cvi. 31. that is, it was approved by
God as a righteous action; which expression seems to obviate an
objection that some might make against it; supposing, that Phinehas
herein did that which more properly belonged to the civil magistrate;
or, that this judicial act in him, was done without a formal trial, and,
it may be, too hastily; but God owns the action, and, in a way of
approbation, places it to his account for righteousness, that it should
be reckoned a righteous action throughout all generations.

Again, sometimes that which is done by a person, is imputed to him, or
charged upon him, so that he must answer for it, or suffer the
punishment due to it: thus Shimei says to David, _Let not my Lord impute
iniquity unto me_, 2 Sam. xix. 19. that is, do not charge that sin,
which I committed, upon me, so as to put me to death for it, which thou
mightest justly do. And Stephen prays, _Lord, lay not this sin to their
charge_, Acts vii. 60. impute it not to them, or inflict not the
punishment on them that it deserves. No one can deny that what is done
by a person himself, may be placed to his own account; so that he may be
rewarded or punished for it; or it may be approved or disapproved: but
this is not the sense in which we understand it when speaking concerning
the imputation of Christ’s righteousness to us; for this supposes that
which is done by another, to be placed to our account. This is the main
thing which is denied by those who have other sentiments of the doctrine
we are maintaining; and, they pretend, that for God to account Christ’s
righteousness ours, is to take a wrong estimate of things, to reckon
that done by us which was not; which is contrary to the wisdom of God,
who can, by no means, entertain any false ideas of things; and if the
action be reckoned ours, then the character of the person performing it,
must also be applied to us; which is to make us sharers in Christ’s
Mediatorial office and glory.

But this is the most perverse sense which can be put on words, or a
setting this doctrine in such a light as no one takes it in, who pleads
for it: we do not suppose, that God looks upon man with his all-seeing
eye, as having done that which Christ did, or to sustain the character
which belongs to him in doing it; we are always reckoned, by him, as
offenders, or contracting guilt, and unable to do any thing that can
make an atonement for it. Therefore, what interest soever we have in
what Christ did, it is not reputed our action; but God’s imputing
Christ’s righteousness to us, is to be taken in a forensic sense, which
is agreeable to the idea of a debt being paid by a surety: it is not
supposed that the debtor paid the debt which the surety paid; but yet it
is placed to his account, or imputed to him as really as though he had
paid it himself. Thus what Christ did and suffered in our room and
stead, is as much placed to our account, as though we had done and
suffered it ourselves; so that by virtue hereof we are discharged from

This is the sense in which we understand the imputation of Christ’s
righteousness to us; and it is agreeable to the account we have thereof
in scripture: thus we are said to be _made the righteousness of God in
him_, 2 Cor. v. 21. the abstract being put for the concrete; that is, we
are denominated and dealt with as righteous persons, acquitted and
discharged from condemnation in the virtue of what was done by him, who
is elsewhere styled, _The Lord our righteousness_; and the apostle
speaks of his _having Christ’s righteousness_, Phil. iii. 9. that is,
having it imputed to him, or having an interest in it, or being dealt
with according to the tenor thereof; in this respect he opposes it to
that righteousness which was in him, as the result of his own
performances: and elsewhere Christ is said to be _made of God unto us
righteousness_; that is, his fulfilling the law is placed to our
account; and the apostle speaks of _Christ’s being the end of the law
for righteousness to every one that believeth_, Rom. x. 4. which is the
same with what he asserts in other words elsewhere concerning the
_righteousness of the law’s being fulfilled in us_, chap. viii. 3, 4.
who could not be justified by our own obedience to it, in _that it was
weak through the flesh_, or by reason of our fallen state; therefore
Christ did this for us; and accordingly God deals with us as though we
had fulfilled the law in our own persons, inasmuch as it was fulfilled
by him as our surety.

This may farther be illustrated, by what we generally understand by
Adam’s sin being imputed to us, as one contrary may illustrate another;
therefore, as sin and death entered into the world by the _offence of
one_, to wit, the first Adam, _in whom all have sinned; so by the
righteousness of one the free gift_, Rom. v. 18. that is, eternal life
_came upon all men_, to wit, those who shall be saved _unto
justification of life_; and for this reason the apostle speaks of Adam
as the _figure of him that was to come_, ver. 14. Now as Adam’s sin was
imputed to us, as our public head and representative, so that we are
involved in the guilt thereof, or fall in him; so Christ’s righteousness
is imputed to us, as he was our public head and surety: and accordingly,
in the eye of the law, that which was done by him, was the same as
though it had been done by us; and therefore, as the effect and
consequence hereof, we are justified thereby. This is what we call
Christ’s righteousness being imputed to us, or placed to our account;
and it is very agreeable to the common acceptation of the word, in
dealings between man and man. When one has contracted a debt, and
desires that it may be placed to the account of his surety, who
undertakes for the payment of it, it is said to be imputed to him; and
his discharge hereupon is as valid as though the debtor has paid it in
his own person. This leads us,

VI. To consider justification as it is an act of God’s free grace, which
is particularly insisted on in one of the answers we are explaining; for
the understanding of which, let it be observed, that we are not to
suppose, that when we are justified by an act of grace, this is opposed
to our being justified upon the account of a full satisfaction made by
our surety to the justice of God; in which respect we consider our
discharge from condemnation, as an act of justice. The debtor is,
indeed, beholden to the grace of God for this privilege, but the surety
that paid the debt, had not the least abatement thereof made, but was
obliged to glorify the justice of God to the utmost, which accordingly
he did. However, there are several things in which the grace of God is
eminently displayed, more particularly,

1. In that God should be willing to accept of satisfaction from the
hands of our surety, which he might have demanded of us. This appears
from what has been before observed, namely, that the debt which we had
contracted was not of the same nature with pecuniary debts, in which
case the creditor is obliged to accept of payment, though the overture
hereof be made by another, and not by him that contracted the debt:
whereas the case is different in debts of obedience to be performed, or
punishment to be endured; in which instances, he, to whom satisfaction
is to be given, must accept of one to be substituted in the room of him
from whom the obedience or sufferings were originally due; otherwise,
the overture made, or what is done and suffered by him, pursuant
thereunto, is not regarded, or available to procure a discharge for him,
in whose room he substituted himself. God might have exacted the debt of
us, in our own persons, and then our condition had been equally
miserable with that of fallen angels, for whom no mediator was accepted,
no more than provided.

2. The grace of God farther appears, in that he provided a surety for
us, which we could not have done for ourselves; nor have engaged him to
perform this work for us, who was the only person that could bring about
the great work of redemption.

The only creatures who are capable of performing perfect obedience, are
the holy angels; but these could not do it, for, as has been before
observed, whoever performs it must be incarnate, that they may be
capable of paying the debt, in some respects, in kind, which was due
from us; therefore they must suffer death, and consequently have a
nature which is capable of dying; but this the angels had not, nor could
have, but by the divine will.

Besides, if God should have dispensed with that part of satisfaction,
which consists in a subjection to death, and have declared, that active
obedience should be sufficient to procure our justification; the angels,
though capable of performing active obedience, would, notwithstanding,
have been defective therein; so that justice could not, in honour, have
accepted of it, any more than it could have dispensed with the
obligation to perform obedience in general; because it would not have
been of infinite value; and it is the value of things that justice
regards, and not barely the matter of perfection thereof in other
respects: so that it must be an obedience that had in it something
infinitely valuable, or else it could not have been accepted by God, as
a price of redemption, in order to the procuring our justification: and
this could be performed by none but our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious
author and procurer of this privilege.

It was impossible for man to have found out this Mediator or Surety; so
that it had its first rise from God, and not from us; it is he that
found a ransom, and laid help upon one that is mighty; this was the
result of his will: therefore our Saviour is represented as saying, _Lo
I come to do thy will_, Heb. x. 7. as the apostle expresses it. That we
could not, by any means, have found out this surety, or engaged him to
have done that for us which was necessary for our justification, will
evidently appear, if we consider,

(1.) That when man fell, the Son of God was not incarnate; and provided
we allow that fallen man had some idea of a Trinity of persons, in the
unity of the divine Essence, which is not unreasonable to suppose; since
it was necessary that that should be revealed to him before he fell, in
order to his performing acceptable worship; yet, can any one suppose
that man could have asked such a favour of a divine person, as to take
his nature, and put himself in his room and stead, and expose himself to
the curse of that law which he had violated; this could never have
entered into his heart; yea, the very thought, if it had taken its rise
first from him, would have savoured of more presumption than had he
entreated that God would pardon his sin without a satisfaction. But,

(2.) If he had supposed it impossible for the Son of God to be
incarnate, or had conjectured that there had been the least probability
of his being willing to express this instance of condescending goodness,
how could he have known that God would have accepted the payment of our
debt, at the hands of another, or have commended his love to us, who
were such enemies to him, in not sparing him, but delivering him up for
us? if God’s accepting of a satisfaction be necessary, in order to its
taking effect, as well as the perfection or infinite value of it; it is
certain, man could not have known that he would have done it; for that
was a matter of pure revelation. Moreover,

(3.) Should we suppose even this possible, or that man might have
expected that God would have been moved to have done it by intreaty; yet
such was the corruption, perverseness, and rebellion of his nature, as
fallen; and so great was his inability to perform any act of worship,
that he could not have addressed himself to God, in a right manner, that
he would admit of a surety; and God cannot hear any prayer but that
which is put up to him by faith, which supposes a Mediator, whose
purchase and gift it is; and therefore, since the sinful creature could
not plead with God by faith, that he would send his Son to be a
Mediator, how could he hope to obtain this blessing? it therefore
evidently follows, that as a man could not give satisfaction for
himself; so he could not find out any one that could or would give it
for him. And therefore, the grace of God, in the provision that he has
made of such a surety as his own Son, unasked for, unthought of, as well
as undeserved, is very illustrious.

3. It was a very great instance of grace in our Saviour, that he was
pleased to consent to perform this work for us, without which the
justice of God could not have exacted the debt of him; and he being
perfectly innocent, could not be obliged to suffer punishment, which it
would have been unjust in God to have inflicted, had he not been willing
to be charged with our guilt, and to stand in our room and stead. And
his grace herein more eminently appears, in that though he knew
before-hand all the difficulties, sorrows, and temptations, which he was
to meet with in the discharge of this work; yet this did not discourage
him from undertaking it; neither was he unapprised of the character of
those for whom he undertook it: he knew the rebellion, and guilt
contracted thereby, that rendered this necessary, in order to their
salvation; and he knew before-hand, that they would, notwithstanding all
the engagements he might lay on them to the contrary, discover the
greatest ingratitude towards him; and, instead of improving so great an
instance of condescending goodness, that they would neglect this great
salvation, when purchased by him, and thereby appear to be his greatest
enemies, notwithstanding this act of friendship to them, unless he not
only engaged to purchase redemption for, but apply it to them, and work
those graces in them whereby they might be enabled to give him the glory
which is due to him for this great undertaking. And this leads us,

VII. To consider the use of faith in justification, and how,
notwithstanding what has been said concerning our being justified by
Christ’s righteousness, we may, in other respects, be said to be
justified by faith; and also shew what this faith is, whereby we are
justified: which being particularly insisted on in the two following
answers, we shall proceed to consider them.

Footnote 28:


Footnote 29:

  _The former of these divines call_ reatus potentialis, _the latter_,
  reatus actualis; _the former is the immediate consequence of sin, the
  latter is taken away by justification._

Footnote 30:

  Righteousness is taken ordinarily to signify a conformity to laws, or
  rules of right conduct. Actions, and persons may respectively be
  denominated righteous. The moral law, which is both distinguishable by
  the moral sense, and expressly revealed, requires perfect and
  perpetual rectitude in disposition, purpose, and action. Because none
  are absolutely conformed to this law, none can fairly claim to be in
  themselves, simply, and absolutely righteous. Men are said therefore
  to be righteous comparatively, or because the defects of many of their
  actions are few, or not discernible by their fellow men. _To be made_,
  (or constituted) _righteous_, or, to _be justified_, in the sight of
  God, in scriptural language cannot mean, _to be made inherently
  righteous_. It is God who justifies, he cannot call evil good, and
  cannot be ignorant of every man’s real demerit. This righteousness of
  the saint has not consisted, under any dispensation, in his own
  conformity to the Divine law; “_In the Lord have I righteousness_;”
  “_That I may win Christ and be found in him, not having my own
  righteousness_.” If it did, there would be no necessity for the aid of
  God’s Spirit to sanctify the nature of the justified person. To be
  justified or constituted righteous, is therefore to be _treated and
  accepted as righteous_. If God _justifies the ungodly_, his truth and
  justice must be clear. He cannot be induced to depart from perfect
  rectitude, and strict propriety. When the ungodly are justified, or
  treated as if righteous, it is not on their own account, for their
  righteousness is defective; but _by the obedience of one_, (that is
  Christ,) _many are made righteous_. The term _obedience_ excludes the
  essential righteousness of Christ as God. And his righteousness which
  he rendered in our nature can neither be transfused into, nor
  transferred unto his people, so as to be theirs inherently. Nor can an
  infinitely wise God consider the righteousness of one man to be the
  personal righteousness of another. But one person may receive
  advantages from the righteousness of another. Sodom would have been
  spared if there could have been found ten holy men in it. Millions may
  be treated kindly, because of favour or respect had for one of their
  number espousing the cause of the whole. One man may become the surety
  of, and perform conditions for many, or pay a ransom for them, and
  purchase them from slavery. If it be said that one may not lay down
  his life, especially if it be important, for the preservation of
  another’s; yet Christ was the _Lord of life_ and possessed what no
  mere creature can, the right to lay down his life, and power to take
  it up again. The importance of the satisfaction should be adequate to
  the honour of the law. But that every objection to such substitution
  might be removed, it is shewn that, this was the very condition upon
  which the restoration of the saints was suspended in the purposes of
  God before man was created; and was _promised us in Christ Jesus
  before the world began_. Justice therefore can neither object to the
  substitution, nor withhold the rewards.

Footnote 31:

  _Splendida peccata._

Footnote 32:

  _See Vol. II. Page 275._

Footnote 33:

  _The distinction often used in the civil law between_ fide-jussor
  _and_ expromissor, _or a person’s being bound together with the
  original debtor, and the creditor’s being left to his liberty to exact
  the debt of which of the two he pleases, which is called_ fide-jussor;
  _and the surety’s taking the debt upon himself, so as that he who
  contracted it is hereby discharged, which is what we understand by_
  expromissor, _has been considered elsewhere. See Vol. II. Page 174,

Footnote 34:

  _Volenti non fit injuria._

Footnote 35:

  _See Vol. II. Page 281._

Footnote 36:

  _See Vol. II. page 288._

Footnote 37:

  _See Vol. II. page 280-293._

Footnote 38:

  חשב λογιζω.

Footnote 39:

  I am not without painful apprehension, said Peter to John, that the
  views of our friend James on some of the doctrines of the gospel, are
  unhappily diverted from the truth. I suspect he does not believe in
  the proper _imputation_ of sin to Christ, or of Christ’s righteousness
  to us; nor in his being our _substitute_, or representative.

  _John._ Those are serious things; but what are the grounds, brother
  Peter, on which your suspicions rest?

  _Peter._ Partly what he has published, which I cannot reconcile with
  those doctrines; and partly what he has said in my hearing, which I
  consider as an avowal of what I have stated.

  _John._ What say you to this, brother James?

  _James._ I cannot tell whether what I have written or spoken accords
  with brother Peter’s ideas on these subjects: indeed I suspect it does
  not: but I never thought of calling either of the doctrines in
  question. Were I to relinquish the one or the other, I should be at a
  loss for ground on which to rest my salvation. What he says of my
  avowing my disbelief of them in his hearing must be a
  misunderstanding. I did say, I suspected that _his views_ of
  imputation and substitution were unscriptural; but had no intention of
  disowning the doctrines themselves.

  _Peter._ Brother James, I have no desire to assume any dominion over
  your faith; but should be glad to know what are your ideas on these
  important subjects. Do you hold that sin was properly imputed to
  Christ, or that Christ’s righteousness is properly imputed to us, or

  _James._ You are quite at liberty, brother Peter, to ask me any
  questions on these subjects; and if you will hear me patiently, I will
  answer you as explicitly as I am able.

  _John._ Do so, brother James; and we shall hear you not only
  patiently, but, I trust, with pleasure.

  _James._ To impute,[40] signifies in general, to _charge_, _reckon_,
  or _place to account_, according to the different objects to which it
  is applied. This word, like many others, has a _proper_, and an
  _improper_ or figurative meaning.

  First: It is applied to the _charging_, _reckoning_, or _placing to
  the account_ of persons and things, THAT WHICH PROPERLY BELONGS TO
  THEM. This I consider as its _proper_ meaning. In this sense the word
  is used in the following passages. “Eli _thought_ she, (Hannah,) had
  been drunken—Hanan and Mattaniah, the treasurers were _counted_
  faithful—Let a man so _account_ of us as the ministers of Christ, and
  stewards of the mysteries of God—Let such an one _think_ this, that
  such as we are in word by letters when we are absent, such will we be
  also indeed when we are present—I _reckon_ that the sufferings of this
  present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall
  be revealed in us.”[41] Reckoning or accounting, in the above
  instances, is no other than judging of persons and things _according
  to what they are, or appear to be_. To impute sin in this sense is to
  charge guilt upon the guilty in a judicial way, or with a view to
  punishment. Thus Shimei besought David that his iniquity might _not be
  imputed to him_; thus the man is pronounced blessed to whom the Lord
  _imputeth not iniquity_: and thus Paul prayed that the sin of those
  who deserted him might _not be laid to their charge_.[42]

  In this sense the term is ordinarily used in common life. To impute
  treason or any other crime to a man, is the same thing as charging him
  with having committed it, and with a view to his being punished.

  Secondly: It is applied to the _charging_, _reckoning_, or _placing to
  the account_ of persons and things, THAT WHICH DOES NOT PROPERLY
  BELONG TO THEM, AS THOUGH IT DID. This I consider as its _improper_ or
  figurative meaning. In this sense the word is used in the following
  passages—“And this your heave-offering shall be _reckoned_ unto you
  _as though it were_ the corn of the threshing-floor and as the fulness
  of the wine-press—Wherefore hidest thou thy face, and _holdest_ me for
  thine enemy—If the uncircumcision keep the righteousness of the law,
  shall not his uncircumcision be _counted_ for circumcision—If he hath
  wronged thee, or oweth thee aught, _put that on mine account_.”[43]

  It is in this _latter_ sense that I understand the term when applied
  to justification. “Abraham believed God, and it was _counted_ unto him
  for righteousness—To him that worketh not, but believeth on him that
  justifieth the ungodly, his faith is _counted_ for righteousness.” The
  counting, or reckoning, in these instances, is not a judging of things
  _as they are_; but _as they are not, as though they were_. I do not
  think that faith here means the righteousness of the Messiah: for it
  is expressly called “believing.” It means believing, however, not as a
  virtuous exercise of the mind which God consented to accept instead of
  perfect obedience, but _as having respect to the promised Messiah_,
  and so to his righteousness as the ground of acceptance.[44]
  Justification is ascribed to faith, as healing frequently is in the
  New Testament; not as that from which the _virtue_ proceeds, but as
  that which _receives_ from the Saviour’s fulness.

  But if it were allowed that faith in these passages really means the
  object believed in, still this was not Abraham’s _own_ righteousness,
  and could not be properly _counted_ by him who judges of things as
  they are, as being so. It was _reckoned_ unto him _as if it were_ his;
  and the effects, or benefits of it were actually imparted to him: but
  this was all. Abraham did not become meritorious, or cease to be

  “What is it to place our righteousness in the obedience of Christ,
  (says Calvin,) but to affirm that hereby only we are _accounted_
  righteous; because the obedience of Christ is imputed to us AS IF IT
  WERE OUR OWN.”[45]

  It is thus also that I understand the imputation of sin to Christ. He
  was accounted in the divine administration _as if he were, or had
  been_ the sinner, that those who believe in him might be accounted _as
  if they were, or had been_ righteous.

  Brethren, I have done. Whether my statement be just or not, I hope it
  will be allowed to be explicit.

  _John._ That it certainly is; and we thank you. Have you any other
  questions, brother Peter, to ask upon the subject?

  _Peter._ How do you understand the apostle in 2 Cor. v. 21. _He hath
  made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the
  righteousness of God in him?_

  _James._ Till lately I cannot say that I have thought closely upon it.
  I have understood that several of our best writers consider the word
  αμαρτια (_sin_) as frequently meaning a _sin-offering_. Dr. Owen so
  interprets it in his answer to Biddle,[46] though it seems he
  afterwards changed his mind. Considering the opposition between the
  sin which Christ was made, and the righteousness which we are made,
  together with the same word being used for that which he was _made_,
  and that which he _knew not_, I am inclined to be of the doctor’s last
  opinion; namely, that the sin which Christ was made, means _sin
  itself_; and the righteousness which we are made, means _righteousness
  itself_. I doubt not but that the allusion is to the sin-offering
  under the law; but not to its being _made a sacrifice_. Let me be a
  little more particular. There were two things belonging to the
  sin-offering. _First_: The imputation of the sins of the people,
  signified by the priest’s laying his hands upon the head of the
  animal, and confessing over it their transgressions; and which is
  called “putting them upon it.”[47] That is, it was _counted_ in the
  divine administration _as if the animal had been_ the sinner, and the
  only sinner of the nation. _Secondly_: Offering it in sacrifice, or
  “killing it before the Lord for an atonement.”[48] Now the phrase,
  _made sin_, in 2 Cor. v. 21. appears to refer to the _first_ step in
  this process in order to the last. It is expressive of what was
  preparatory to Christ’s suffering death rather than of the thing
  itself, just as our being _made righteousness_ expresses what was
  preparatory to God’s bestowing upon us eternal life. But the term
  _made_ is not to be taken literally; for that would convey the idea of
  Christ’s being really the subject of moral evil. It is expressive of a
  divine _constitution_, by which our Redeemer with his own consent,
  stood in the sinner’s place, as though he had been himself the
  transgressor; just as the sin-offering under the law was, in mercy to
  Israel, reckoned or accounted to have the sins of the people “put upon
  its head,” with this difference; that was only a shadow, but this went
  really to take away sin.

  _Peter._ Do you consider Christ as having been _punished, really and
  properly_ PUNISHED?

  _James._ I should think I do not. But what do you mean by punishment?

  _Peter._ An innocent person may _suffer_, but, properly speaking, he
  cannot be _punished_. Punishment necessarily supposes _criminality_.

  _James._ Just so; and therefore as I do not believe that Jesus was in
  any sense criminal, I cannot say he was really and properly punished.

  _Peter._ Punishment is the infliction of natural evil for the
  commission of moral evil. It is not necessary, however, that the
  latter should have been committed by the party—Criminality is
  supposed: but it may be either personal or imputed.

  _James._ This I cannot admit. Real and proper punishment, if I
  understand the terms, is not only the infliction of natural evil for
  the commission of moral evil; but the infliction of the one _upon the
  person who committed the other, and in displeasure against him_. It
  not only supposes criminality, but that the party punished was
  literally the criminal. Criminality committed by one party, and
  imputed to another, is not a ground for real and proper punishment. If
  Paul had sustained the punishment due to Onesimus for having wronged
  his master, yet it would not have been real and proper punishment _to
  him_, but _suffering_ only, as not being inflicted in displeasure
  against him. I am aware of what has been said on this subject, that
  there was a more intimate _union_ between Christ and those for whom he
  died, than could ever exist between creatures. But be it so, it is
  enough for me that the union was not such as THAT THE ACTIONS OF THE
  ONE BECAME THOSE OF THE OTHER. Christ, even in the act of offering
  himself a sacrifice, when, to speak in the language of the Jewish law,
  the sins of the people were put or laid upon him, gave himself
  nevertheless THE JUST FOR THE UNJUST.

  _Peter._ And thus it is that you understand the words of Isaiah, _The
  Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all_?

  _James._ Yes, he bore the punishment due to our sins, or that which,
  considering the dignity of his person, was equivalent to it. The
  phrase “He shall bear his iniquity,” which so frequently occurs in the
  Old Testament, means, he shall bear the punishment due to his

  _Peter._ And yet you deny that Christ’s sufferings were properly

  _James._ You would not deny eternal life which is promised to
  believers to be properly _a reward_; but you would deny its being _a
  real and proper reward_ TO THEM.

  _Peter._ And what then?

  _James._ If eternal life, though it be a reward, and we partake of it,
  yet is really and properly the reward of Christ’s obedience, and not
  our’s; then the sufferings of Christ, though they were a punishment,
  and he sustained it, yet were really and properly the punishment of
  our sins, and not his. What he bore _was_ punishment: that is, it was
  the expression of divine displeasure against transgressors. So what we
  enjoy is reward: that is, it is the expression of God’s
  well-pleasedness in the obedience and death of his Son. But neither is
  the one a punishment _to him_, nor the other, properly speaking, a
  reward _to us_.

  There appears to me great accuracy in the scriptural language on this
  subject. What our Saviour underwent is almost always expressed by the
  term _suffering_. Once it is called a _chastisement_: yet there he is
  not said to have been chastised; but “the chastisement of our peace
  was _upon him_.” This is the same as saying he bore _our_ punishment.
  He was made a curse for us: that is, having been reckoned, or
  accounted the sinner, as though he had actually been so, he was
  treated accordingly, as one that had deserved to be an outcast from
  heaven and earth. I believe the wrath of God that was due to us was
  poured upon him, but I do not believe that God for one moment was
  angry or displeased _with him_, or that he smote him from any such

  There is a passage in Calvin’s _Institutes_, which so fully expresses
  my mind, that I hope you will excuse me if I read it. You will find it
  in Bk. ii. chap. xvi. § 10, 11. “It behoved him that he should, as it
  were, hand to hand, wrestle with the armies of hell, and the horror of
  eternal death. The chastisement of our peace was _laid upon him_. He
  was smitten of his Father for our crimes, and bruised for our
  iniquities: whereby is meant that he was put in the stead of the
  wicked, as surety and pledge, yea, and as the very guilty person
  himself, to sustain and bear away all the punishments that should have
  been laid upon them, save only that he could not be holden of death.
  Yet do we not mean that God was at any time either his enemy, or angry
  with him. For how could he be angry with his beloved Son, upon whom
  his mind rested? Or how could Christ by his intercession appease his
  Father’s wrath towards others, if, full of hatred, he had been
  incensed against himself? But this is our meaning—that he sustained
  the weight of the divine displeasure; inasmuch as he, being stricken
  and tormented by the hand of God, DID FEEL ALL THE TOKENS OF GOD WHEN

  _Peter._ The words of scripture are very express—He hath _made him to
  be sin for us_—He was _made a curse for us_.—You may, by diluting and
  qualifying interpretations, soften what you consider as intolerable
  _harshness_. In other words, you may choose to correct the language
  and sentiments of inspiration, and teach the apostle to speak of his
  Lord with more decorum, lest his personal purity should be impeached,
  and lest the odium of the cross, annexed by divine law, remain
  attached to his death: but if you abide by the obvious meaning of the
  passages, you must hold with _a commutation of persons_, the
  _imputation_ of sin and of righteousness, and a _vicarious
  punishment_, equally pregnant with _execration_ as with _death_.

  _John._ I wish brother Peter would forbear the use of language which
  tends not to convince, but to irritate.

  _James._ If there be any thing convincing in it, I confess I do not
  perceive it. I admit with Mr. _Charnock_, “That Christ was ‘made sin’
  _as if he had_ sinned all the sins of men; and we are ‘made
  righteousness,’ _as if we had_ not sinned at all.” What more is
  necessary to abide by the obvious meaning of the words? To go further
  must be to maintain that Christ’s being _made sin_ means that he was
  literally rendered wicked, and that his being _made a curse_ is the
  same thing as his being punished for it according to his deserts.
  Brother Peter, I am sure, does not believe this shocking position: but
  he seems to think there is a medium between his being treated _as if
  he were_ a sinner, and his _being one_. If such a medium there be, I
  should be glad to discover it: at present it appears to me to have no

  Brother Peter will not suspect me, I hope, of wishing to depreciate
  his judgment, when I say, that he appears to me to be attached to
  certain terms without having sufficiently weighed their import. In
  most cases I should think it a privilege to learn of him: but in some
  things I cannot agree with him. In order to maintain the _real_ and
  _proper punishment_ of Christ, he talks of his being “guilty by
  imputation.” The term _guilty_, I am aware, is often used by
  theological writers for _an obligation to punishment_, and so applies
  to that voluntary obligation which Christ came under to sustain the
  punishment of our sins: but strictly speaking, guilt is the _desert_
  of punishment; and this can never apply but to the offender. It is the
  opposite of innocence. A voluntary obligation to endure the punishment
  of another is not guilt, any more than a consequent exemption from
  obligation in the offender, is innocence. Both guilt and innocence are
  transferable in their effects, but in themselves they are
  untransferable. To say that Christ was _reckoned_ or _counted_ in the
  divine administration _as if he were_ the sinner, and came under an
  obligation to endure the curse or punishment due to our sins, is one
  thing: but to say he _deserved_ that curse, is another. Guilt,
  strictly speaking, is the inseparable attendant of transgression, and
  could never therefore for one moment occupy the conscience of Christ.
  If Christ by imputation became _deserving_ of punishment, we by
  non-imputation cease to deserve it; and if our demerits be literally
  transferred to him, his merits must of course be the same to us: and
  then, instead of approaching God as _guilty_ and _unworthy_, we might
  take consequence to ourselves before him, as not only guiltless, but
  meritorious beings.

  _Peter._ Some who profess to hold that believers are justified by the
  righteousness of Christ, deny, nevertheless, that his _obedience
  itself_ is imputed to them: for they maintain that the scripture
  represents believers as receiving only the _benefits_, or effects of
  Christ’s righteousness in justification, or their being pardoned and
  accepted for Christ’s _righteousness sake_.—But it is not merely _for
  the sake_ of Christ, or of what he has done, that believers are
  accepted of God, and treated as completely righteous; but it is IN him
  as their Head, Representative, and Substitute; and by the imputation
  of that _very obedience_ which as such he performed to the divine law,
  that they are justified.

  _James._ I have no doubt but that the imputation of Christ’s
  righteousness presupposes a _union_ with him; since there is no
  perceivable fitness in bestowing benefits on one _for another’s sake_
  where there is no union or relation subsisting between them. It is not
  such a union, however, as that THE ACTIONS OF EITHER BECOME THOSE OF
  THE OTHER. That “the scriptures represent believers as _receiving_
  only the benefits or the effects of Christ’s righteousness in
  justification,” is a remark of which I am not able to perceive the
  fallacy: nor does it follow that his obedience itself is not imputed
  to them. Obedience itself may be and is imputed, while its effects
  only are _imparted_, and consequently _received_. I never met with a
  person who held the absurd notion of imputed benefits, or imputed
  punishments; and am inclined to think there never was such a person.
  Be that however as it may, sin on the one hand and righteousness on
  the other, are the proper objects of imputation; but that imputation
  _consists_ in charging or reckoning them to the account of the party
  in such a way as to _impart_ to him their evil or beneficial effects.

  _Peter._ The doctrine for which I contend as taught by the apostle
  Paul, is neither novel, nor more strongly expressed than it has
  formerly been by authors of eminence.

  _James._ It may be so. We have been told of an old protestant writer
  who says, that “In Christ, and by him, every true Christian may be
  called _a fulfiller of the law_:” but I see not why he might not as
  well have added, Every true Christian may be said to have been slain,
  and, if not to have redeemed himself by his own blood, yet to be
  worthy of all that blessing, and honour, and glory, that shall be
  conferred upon him in the world to come.—What do you think of Dr.
  CRISP’S Sermons? Has he not carried your principles to an extreme?

  _Peter._ I cordially agree with WITSIUS, as to the impropriety of
  calling Christ _a sinner, truly a sinner, the greatest of sinners_,
  &c. yet I am far from disapproving of what Dr. CRISP, and some others,
  _meant_ by those exceptionable expressions.

  _James._ If a Christian may be called _a fulfiller of the law_, on
  account of Christ’s obedience being imputed to him, I see not why
  Christ may not be called _a transgressor of the law_, on account of
  our disobedience being imputed to him. Persons and things _should be
  called what they are_. As to the _meaning_ of Dr. CRISP, I am very
  willing to think he had no ill design: but my concern is with the
  meaning which his words convey to his readers. He considers God in
  charging our sins on Christ, and accounting his righteousness to us,
  as reckoning of things _as they are_. (p. 280.) He contends that
  Christ was _really_ the sinner, or guilt could not have been laid upon
  him. (p. 272.) Imputation of sin and righteousness, with him, is
  literally and actually A TRANSFER OF CHARACTER; and it is the object
  of his reasoning to persuade his believing hearers that from
  henceforward Christ is the sinner, and not they. “Hast thou been an
  idolater, says he; a blasphemer, a despiser of God’s word, a profaner
  of his name and ordinances, a thief, a liar, a drunkard—If thou hast
  part in Christ, _all these transgressions of thine become actually the
  transgressions of Christ, and so cease to be thine; and thou ceasest
  to be a transgressor from the time they were laid upon Christ, to the
  last hour of thy life_: so that now thou art _not_ an idolater, a
  persecutor, a thief, a liar, &c.—thou art not a sinful person. Reckon
  whatever sin you commit, when as you have part in Christ, you are all
  that Christ was, and Christ is all that you were.”

  If the _meaning_ of this passage be true and good, I see nothing
  exceptionable in the expressions. All that can be said is, that the
  writer explicitly states his principle and avows its legitimate
  consequences. I believe the principle to be false.—(1.) Because
  neither sin nor righteousness are _in themselves_ transferable. The
  act and deed of one person may _affect_ another in many ways, but
  cannot possibly become his act and deed.—(2.) Because the scriptures
  uniformly declare Christ to be sinless, and believers to be sinful
  creatures.—(3.) Because believers themselves have in all ages
  _confessed_ their sins, and applied to the mercy-seat for
  _forgiveness_. They never plead such an union as shall render their
  sins not theirs, but Christ’s; but merely such a one as affords ground
  to apply for pardon _in his name_, or _for his sake_; not as worthy
  claimants, but as unworthy supplicants.

  Whatever reasonings we may give into, there are certain times in which
  _conscience_ will bear witness, that notwithstanding the imputation of
  our sins to Christ, _we are actually the sinners_; and I should have
  thought no good man could have gravely gone about to overturn its
  testimony. Yet this is what Dr. Crisp has done. “Believers _think_,
  says he, that they find their transgressions in their own consciences,
  and they _imagine_ that there is a sting of this poison still behind,
  wounding them: but, beloved, if this principle be received for a
  truth, that God hath laid thy iniquities on Christ, how can thy
  transgressions, belonging to Christ, be found in thy heart and
  conscience?—Is thy conscience Christ?” p. 269.

  Perhaps no man has gone further than Dr. CRISP in his attempts at
  consistency; and admitting his principle, that imputation consists in
  a transfer of character, I do not see who can dispute his conclusions.
  To have been perfectly consistent, however, he should have proved that
  all the confessions and lamentations of believers, recorded in
  scripture, arose from their being under the _mistake_ which he labours
  to rectify; that is, _thinking_ sin did not cease to be theirs, even
  when under the fullest persuasion that the Lord would not impute it to
  them, but would graciously cover it by the righteousness of his Son.——

  _John._ I think, brother Peter, you expressed at the beginning of our
  conversation, a strong suspicion that brother James denied the
  _substitution of Christ_, as well as the proper imputation of sin and
  righteousness. What has passed on the latter subject would probably
  tend either to confirm or remove your suspicions respecting the

  _Peter._ I confess I was mistaken in some of my suspicions. I consider
  our friend as a good man; but am far from being satisfied with what I
  still understand to be his views on this important subject.

  _John._ It gives me great pleasure to hear the honest concessions of
  brethren, when they feel themselves in any measure to have gone too

  _Peter._ I shall be glad to hear brother James’s statement on
  _substitution_, and to know whether he considers our Lord in his
  undertaking as having sustained the character of a _Head_, or
  _Representative_; and if so, whether the persons for whom he was a
  substitute were the elect only, or mankind in general.

  _James._ I must acknowledge that on this subject I feel considerably
  at a loss, I have no consciousness of having ever called the doctrine
  of substitution in question. On the contrary, my hope of salvation
  rests upon it; and the sum of my delight, as a minister of the gospel,
  consists in it. If I know any thing of my own heart, I can say of my
  Saviour as laying down his life _for, or instead of_ sinners, as was
  said of Jerusalem by the captives—_If I forget_ THEE, _let my right
  hand forget: If I do not remember_ THEE, _let my tongue cleave to the
  roof of my mouth_!

  I have always considered the denial of this doctrine as being of the
  essence of Socinianism. I could not have imagined that any person
  whose hope of acceptance with God rests not on any goodness in himself
  but entirely on the righteousness of Christ, imputed to him _as if it
  were his own_, would have been accounted to disown his substitution.
  But perhaps, my dear brother, (for such I feel him to be,
  notwithstanding our differences,) may include in his ideas of this
  subject, that Christ was so our _head_ and _representative_, as that
  what he did and suffered, we did and suffered in him.—If no more were
  meant by this, resumed James, than that what he did and suffered is
  graciously accepted on our behalf _as if it were ours_, I freely, as I
  have said before, acquiesce in it. But I do not believe, and can
  hardly persuade myself that brother Peter believes, the obedience and
  sufferings of Christ to be so ours, as that we can properly be said to
  have obeyed and suffered.

  Christ was and is our _head_, and we are his members: the union
  between him and us, however, is not in all respects the same as that
  which is between the head and the members of the natural body: for
  that would go to explain away all distinct consciousness and
  accountableness on our part.

  As to the term _representative_, if no more be meant by it than that
  Christ so personated us as to die in our stead, that we, believing in
  him, should not die, I have nothing to object to it. But I do not
  believe that Christ was so our representative, as that what he did and
  suffered, we did and suffered; and so became meritorious, or deserving
  of the divine favour.—But I feel myself in a wide field, and must
  entreat your indulgence while I take up so much of the conversation.

  _Peter and John._ Go on, and state your sentiments without apology.

  _James._ I apprehend then that many important mistakes have arisen
  from considering the interposition of Christ under the notion of
  _paying a debt_. The blood of Christ is indeed the _price_ of our
  redemption, or that for the sake of which we are delivered from the
  curse of the law: but this metaphorical language, as well as that of
  _head and members_, may be carried too far, and may lead us into many
  errors. In cases of debt and credit among men, where a surety
  undertakes to _represent_ the debtor, from the moment his undertaking
  is accepted, the debtor is free, and may claim his liberty, not as a
  matter of favour, at least on the part of the creditor, but of strict
  justice. Or should the undertaking be unknown to him for a time, yet
  as soon as he knows it, he may demand his discharge, and, it may be,
  think himself hardly treated by being kept in bondage so long after
  his debt had been actually paid. But who in their sober senses will
  imagine this to be analagous to the redemption of sinners by Jesus
  Christ? Sin is a debt only in a metaphorical sense: properly speaking,
  it is a _crime_, and satisfaction for it requires to be made, not on
  pecuniary, but on moral principles. If Philemon had accepted of that
  part of Paul’s offer which respected property, and had placed so much
  to his account as he considered Onesimus to have “owed” him, he could
  not have been said to have _remitted_ his debt; nor would Onesimus
  have had to thank him for remitting it. But it is supposed of Onesimus
  that he might not only be in debt to his master, but have “wronged”
  him. Perhaps he had embezzled his goods, corrupted his children, or
  injured his character. Now for Philemon to accept of that part of the
  offer, were very different from the other. In the one case he would
  have accepted of a pecuniary representative; in the other of a moral
  one; that is, of a mediator. The satisfaction in the one case would
  annihilate the idea of remission; but not in the other. Whatever
  satisfaction Paul might give to Philemon respecting the wound
  inflicted upon his character and honour as the head of a family, it
  would not supersede the necessity of pardon being sought by the
  offender, and freely bestowed by the offended.

  The reason of this difference is easily perceived. Debts are
  transferable; but crimes are not. A third person may cancel the one;
  but he can only obliterate the _effects_ of the other; the _desert_ of
  the criminal remains. The _debtor_ is accountable to his creditor as a
  _private_ individual, who has power to accept of a surety, or if he
  please, to remit the whole, without any satisfaction. In the one case
  he would be just; in the other merciful: but no place is afforded by
  either of them for the _combination_ of justice and mercy in the same
  proceeding. The _criminal_, on the other hand, is amenable to the
  magistrate, or to the head of a family, as a _public_ person, and who,
  especially if the offence be capital, cannot remit the punishment
  without invading law and justice, nor in the ordinary discharge of his
  office, admit of a third person to stand in his place. In
  extraordinary cases, however, extraordinary expedients are resorted
  to. A satisfaction may be made to law and justice, as to the _spirit_
  of them, while the _letter_ is dispensed with. The well-known story of
  Zaleucus, the Grecian law-giver, who consented to lose one of his eyes
  to spare one of his son’s eyes, who by transgressing the law had
  subjected himself to the loss of both, is an example. Here, as far as
  it went, _justice and mercy were combined_ in the same act: and had
  the satisfaction been much fuller than it was, so full that the
  authority of the law, instead of being weakened, should have been
  abundantly magnified and honoured, still it had been _perfectly
  consistent with free forgiveness_.

  Finally: In the case of the debtor, satisfaction being once accepted,
  justice _requires_ his complete discharge: but in that of the
  criminal, where satisfaction is made to the wounded honour of the law,
  and the authority of the lawgiver, justice, though it _admits_ of his
  discharge, yet no otherwise _requires_ it than as it may have been
  matter of promise to the substitute.

  I do not mean to say that cases of this sort afford a competent
  representation of redemption by Christ. That is a work which not only
  ranks with extraordinary interpositions, but which has no parallel: it
  is a work of God, which leaves all the petty concerns of mortals
  infinitely behind it. All that comparisons can do, is to give us some
  idea of the _principle_ on which it proceeds.

  If the following passage in our admired _Milton_ were considered as
  the language of the law of innocence, it would be inaccurate—

                  “——Man disobeying,

                  He with his whole posterity must die:
                  Die he, or justice must; unless for him
                  Some other able, and as willing, pay
                  The rigid satisfaction, death for death.”

  Abstractedly considered, this is true; but it is not expressive of
  what was the revealed law of innocence. The law made no such
  condition, or provision; nor was it indifferent to the law-giver who
  should suffer, the sinner, or another on his behalf. The language of
  the law to the transgressor was not _thou shalt die, or some one on
  thy behalf_; but simply _thou shalt die_: and had it literally taken
  its course, every child of man must have perished. The sufferings of
  Christ in our stead, therefore, are not a punishment inflicted in the
  ordinary course of distributive justice; but an extraordinary
  interposition of infinite wisdom and love: not contrary to, but rather
  above the law, deviating from the letter, but more than preserving the
  spirit of it. Such, brethren, as well as I am able to explain them,
  are my views of the substitution of Christ.

  _Peter._ The objection of our so stating the substitution of Christ,
  as to leave no room for the free pardon of sin, has been often made by
  those who avowedly reject his satisfaction; but for any who really
  consider his death as an atonement for sin, and as essential to the
  ground of a sinner’s hope, to employ the objection against us, is very
  extraordinary, and must, I presume, proceed from inadvertency.

  _James._ If it be so, I do not perceive it. The grounds of the
  objection have been stated as clearly and as fully as I am able to
  state them.


Footnote 40:

  חשב; λογιζομαι.

Footnote 41:

  1 Sam. i. 13. Neh. xiii. 13. 1 Cor. iv. 1. 2 Cor. x. 11. Rom. viii.

Footnote 42:

  2 Sam. xix. 19. Ps. xxxii. 2. 2 Tim. iv. 16.

Footnote 43:

  Num. xviii. 27-30. Job xiii. 24. Rom. ii. 26. Philem. 18.

Footnote 44:

  Expository Discourses on Gen. xv. 1-6. Also Calvin’s Inst. bk. iii.
  ch. xi. § 7.

Footnote 45:

  Inst. bk. iii. ch. xi. § 2.

Footnote 46:

  p. 510.

Footnote 47:

  Lev. xvi. 21.

Footnote 48:

  Lev. i. 4, 5.

                         Quest. LXXII., LXXIII.

    QUEST. LXXII. _What is justifying Faith?_

    ANSW. Justifying faith is a saving grace, wrought in the heart of a
    sinner, by the Spirit and word of God; whereby he, being convinced
    of his sin and misery, and of the disability in himself, and all
    other creatures, to recover him out of his lost condition, not only
    assenteth to the truth of the promise of the gospel, but receiveth
    and resteth upon Christ and his righteousness therein held forth,
    for pardon of sin, and for the accepting and accounting of his
    person, righteous in the sight of God for salvation.

    QUEST. LXXIII. _How doth faith justify a sinner in the sight of

    ANSW. Faith justifies a sinner in the sight of God; not because of
    those graces which do always accompany it, or of those good works
    that are the fruits of it; nor as if the grace of faith, or any act
    thereof, were imputed to him for justification; but only as it is an
    instrument, by which he receiveth and applieth Christ and his

We choose first to speak to the latter of these two answers, in which
faith is considered as that whereby a sinner is justified, before the
former of them, inasmuch as it seems better connected with what has been
before insisted on, in explaining the doctrine of justification. And in
considering the account we have of justifying faith, there are two
things, which may be taken notice of, in this answer.

I. It is observed, that though there are other graces which always
accompany faith and good works, that flow from it; yet none of these are
said to justify a sinner in the sight of God.

II. How faith justifies, or what it is to be justified by faith.[49]

I. That though there are other graces which always accompany faith, and
good works that flow from it; yet none of these are said to justify a
sinner in the sight of God. There is an inseparable connexion between
faith, and all other graces; which, though it be distinguished, is never
separate from them. They are all considered as _fruits of the Spirit_,
Gal. v. 22, 23. thus the apostle reckons up several other graces that
are connected with faith, and proceed from the same Spirit, such as
_love_, _peace_, _joy_, _long-suffering_, _gentleness_, _goodness_,
_meekness_, _temperance_: and the same apostle commends the church at
Thessalonica for their _work of faith; and_ considers this as connected
with a _labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ_,
1 Thess. i. 3. And the apostle Peter exhorts the church, to which he
writes, to _add to their faith virtue, and to virtue knowledge, to
knowledge temperance, to temperance patience, to patience godliness, to
godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness charity_, 2 Pet.
i. 5, 6, 7. which supposes that all these graces ought to be connected
together. And the apostle James calls it a _dead faith_, James ii. 17.
which has not other works or graces joined with it; and, indeed, these
graces are not only connected with it, but flow from it, or are the
fruits thereof: thus we read of the _heart’s being purified by faith_,
Acts xv. 9. that is, this grace, when acted in a right manner, will have
a tendency, in some degree, to purge the soul from that moral impurity,
which proceeds out of the heart of man, and is inconsistent with saving
faith: and elsewhere we read of _faith as working by love_, Gal. v. 6.
that is, exciting those acts of love, both to God and man, which contain
a summary of practical religion. It is also said to _overcome the
world_, 1 John v. 4. and it enables Christians to do or suffer great
things for Christ’s sake, of which the apostle gives various instances
in the Old Testament saints, Heb. xi. But, notwithstanding the connexion
of other graces with faith, and those works which flow from it, we are
never said, in scripture, to be justified thereby; not by love to God;
nor by any act of obedience to him, which can be called no other than
works: whereas, when the apostle speaks of our justification by faith,
he puts it in opposition to works, when he says, that _a man is
justified by faith, without the deeds of the law_, Rom. ii. 28.

_Object._ To this it is objected, that the apostle here speaks
concerning the ceremonial law, which he excludes from being the matter
of our justification, and not the moral law, or any evangelical duty,
such as love and sincere obedience, which, together with faith is the
matter of our justification.

_Answ._ To this it may be replied, That when the apostle speaks of our
justification by faith, without the deeds of the law, he does not hereby
intend the ceremonial law; for those whom he describes as justified
persons, are said to be, in a following verse, not only Jews, but
Gentiles, that were converted to the Christian faith; the former,
indeed, were under a temptation to seek to be justified by the
ceremonial law, and so to conclude that they had a right to eternal
life; because of their being distinguished from the world, by the
external privileges of the covenant which they were under, many of which
were contained in, or signified by that law: but the Gentiles had
nothing to do with it, and therefore never expected to be justified by
the ceremonial law; accordingly, when the apostle speaks of
justification by faith without the deeds of the law, he cannot hereby be
supposed to intend the ceremonial law. And if we look a little farther
into the context, we shall find, by his method of reasoning, that he
excludes all works in general, and opposes faith to them; for he argues,
that we are justified in such a way, as tends to exclude boasting; but
he that insists on any works performed by himself, as the matter of his
justification, cannot do this any otherwise than in a boasting way,
valuing himself, and founding his right to eternal life, upon them. We
are not therefore justified by them, but by faith; that is, we are
justified in such a way as that, while we lay claim to the greatest
privileges from Christ, we are disposed to give him all the glory, or to
renounce our own righteousness at the same time that we have recourse to
his righteousness for justification, by faith.

But that it may farther appear, that our justification by faith, is
opposed to justification by works, either those that accompany or flow
from it, we may apply what has been before suggested, in considering the
matter of our justification to this argument. If we consider the demands
of justice, or what it may in honour reckon a sufficient compensation
for the dishonour that has been brought to the divine name by sin, or
what may be deemed a satisfactory payment of the outstanding debt of
perfect obedience, which was due from us, or punishment, which we were
liable to, according to the sanction of the divine law; we may easily
infer, that no obedience, performed by us, though including in it the
utmost perfection, that a fallen creature is capable of attaining, is a
sufficient satisfaction; and if there can be no justification without
satisfaction, then we cannot be justified thereby. Therefore it is a
vain thing for persons to distinguish in this case, between works done
before and after faith, as though the former only were excluded from
being the matter of our justification; or to say, as some do, that we
are not indeed justified by obedience to the moral law, but by our
obeying the precepts which our Saviour has laid down in the gospel, such
as faith, and repentance, _&c._ which they call obedience to the gospel
as a new law: but let it be considered, that these evangelical duties
are supposed to be performed as the result of a divine command, which
has the formal nature of a law, whether they be contained in the moral
law or no; therefore, when we are justified by faith in opposition to
the works of the law, this must be opposed to obedience of any kind
performed by us.

And this also appears from the nature of faith, to which justification,
by the works of the law, is opposed; for faith is a soul-humbling grace,
and includes in it a renouncing of all merit, or inducement taken from
ourselves, as a reason why God should bestow on us the blessings we
stand in need of; it trusts in Christ for righteousness, and in him
alone, and therefore turns itself from any thing that may have the least
tendency to eclipse his glory, as the only foundation of our
justification: therefore, when we are said to be justified by faith, and
not by the works of the law, the meaning is, we are justified in such a
way as tends to set the crown upon Christ’s head, acknowledging him to
be the only fountain from whence this privilege is derived.

It follows from hence that our justification cannot be founded on our
repentance; though this is often maintained by those who are on the
other side of the question, who suppose, that justification contains in
it nothing else but forgiveness of sin; and if offences are to be
forgiven by men, upon their repentance, or confessing their fault, then
forgiveness may be expected from God, on our repentance: and some use a
very unsavoury way of speaking, when they say, that our tears have a
virtue to wash away our sins; and that they may give farther countenance
to this opinion, they refer to that scripture, in which it is said,
_Repent, that your sins may be blotted out_, Acts iii. 19. and others of
the like nature; by which we are not to suppose, that the apostle means,
that forgiveness of sin is founded on our repentance, as the matter of
our justification in the sight of God; but that there is an inseparable
connexion between our claim to forgiveness of sin, (together with all
the fruits and effects of the death of Christ, whereby this blessing was
procured) and repentance; so that one is not to be expected without the
other; and though men are to forgive injuries in case the offender
acknowledges his fault, and makes sufficient restitution; this they may
do, inasmuch as the offence is only committed against a creature; and
especially if the offence be of a private nature. But supposing this
should be applied to juridical and forensick cases, will any one say,
that the prince is obliged to forgive the criminal who is under a
sentence of condemnation, because he is sorry for what he has done, or
confesses his fault? Would this secure his honour as a law-giver? And if
hereupon the offender were to be discharged from his guilt, would not
this be a defect in the administration of the legislature? How then can
this be applied to forgiveness, expected at the hand of God; in which
justice, as well as mercy, is to have the glory that is due to it; and
we are not only to be acquitted, but justified, or pronounced guiltless,
since our acknowledgment of our offence cannot be reckoned a sufficient
satisfaction to the justice of God?

_Object._ It is objected, by those on the other side of the question,
that though repentance be not in itself a sufficient compensation to the
justice of God for the crimes which we have committed; yet God may, by
an act of grace, accept of it, as though it had been sufficient[50].
This they illustrate by a similitude taken from a person’s selling an
estate of a considerable value, to one who has no money to buy it,
provided he will pay a pepper-corn of acknowledgment. Thus, how
insignificant soever, repentance, or any other grace, which is deemed
the matter of our justification, be in itself, it is by an act of
favour, deemed a sufficient price.

_Answ._ In answer to this I would observe, that the objection, which was
before brought against the doctrine we have been maintaining, concerning
the imputation of Christ’s righteousness, namely, that it was a putative
righteousness, a not judging of things according to truth, and the like,
seems to be of no weight when it affects their own cause; otherwise we
might turn their argument against themselves, and ask them; whether this
be for God to judge according to truth, when that is accepted as a
sufficient payment, by his justice, which is in itself of no value? But
passing this by, we may farther observe, that this is wholly to set
aside the necessity of satisfaction, as the Socinians do; and therefore
it is no wonder that they make use of this method of reasoning. As for
others who do not altogether deny this doctrine, yet think that a small
price may be deemed satisfactory for sin committed. That which may be
replied to it, is, that if justification, as tending to advance the
glory of divine justice, in taking away the guilt of sin, depends upon a
price paid that is equivalent to the debt contracted; and nothing short
of a price of infinite value can be reckoned an equivalent thereunto,
then certainly that which is performed by men, cannot be deemed a
sufficient payment, or accepted of as such.

It is a vain thing for persons to pretend that there is a difference
between satisfying God, and satisfying his justice; or, that to satisfy
God is to pay a price, be it never so small, that he demands; whereas,
satisfying justice is paying a price equal to the thing purchased; since
we must conclude, that God cannot deem any thing satisfactory to
himself, that is not so to his justice. Therefore, this distinction will
not avail, to free their argument from the absurdity that attends it.

We might here observe, that as some speak of pardon of sin’s being
founded on our repentance; others speak of our justification as being by
the act of faith, or by faith considered as a work, and in defending
justification by works, as though it were not opposed to justification
by faith (the contrary to which has been before proved) they argue, that
we are often said, in scripture, to be justified by faith; but this
faith is a work; therefore it cannot be denied but that we are justified
by works. To which it may be replied, that it is one thing to say, that
we are justified by faith, that is, a work, and another thing to say,
that we are justified by it as a work; or, it is one thing to say, that
we are justified for our faith, and another thing to say, that we are
justified by it; which will more evidently appear under the following
head, which we proceed to consider; namely,

II. What it is for us to be justified by faith, or how faith justifies.
None can, with the least shadow of reason, deny, that justification by
faith, is a scripture-mode of speaking, though some have questioned,
whether the apostle’s words, _being justified by faith, we have peace
with God through our Lord Jesus Christ_, gives countenance to the
doctrine of justification by faith; for they observe, that by putting a
stop immediately after the word _justified_, the sense would be, that
they who are justified by Christ’s righteousness, have peace with God by
faith, through the Lord Jesus Christ: but though this will a little
alter the reading of the text; yet it will not overthrow the doctrine of
justification by faith, as contained therein. For if we understand our
_having peace with God_, as importing, that peace which they have a
right to, who are interested in Christ’s righteousness, and not barely
peace of conscience: then it will follow, that to have this peace by
faith, is, in effect, the same as to be justified by faith; and this
farther appears, from the following words, _by whom also we have access
by faith into this grace, wherein we stand_. The _grace wherein we
stand_, is that grace which is the foundation of our justification, and
not barely peace of conscience: when we are therefore said to have
access by faith unto this grace, it is the same as for us to be
justified by faith.

Moreover, this is not the only place in which we are said to be
justified by faith; for the apostle says elsewhere, _We are justified by
the faith of Jesus Christ_, Gal. ii. 16. or by faith in Jesus Christ,
and again, _the just shall live by faith_, Rom. i. 17. which, agreeably
to the context, must be understood of their being justified by faith; in
which sense the apostle particularly explains it elsewhere, Gal. iii.
11. and in another place he speaks of _the righteousness of God which is
by faith of Jesus Christ_, Rom. iii. 22. and also of a believer’s
_waiting for the hope of righteousness by faith_, Gal. v. 5. We must not
therefore deny that justification is by faith; but rather explain the
sense of those scriptures that establish this doctrine, agreeably to the
mind of the Holy Ghost therein.

There are various methods taken to explain the doctrine of justification
by faith; particularly one that we think subversive of justification by
Christ’s righteousness: the other, that which is contained in the answer
which we are explaining.

1. As to the former of these, namely, that which is inconsistent with
the doctrine of justification by Christ’s righteousness. This is
maintained by those who plead for justification by works; and
consequently, they say, that we are justified by faith, and all other
graces; which they call the conditions of our justification in the sight
of God; and indeed to be justified by faith, according to them, is
little other than to be justified for faith: whether they reckon it a
meritorious condition or no, they must own it to be a pleadable
condition; otherwise it would have no reference to justification; and if
it be taken in this sense, our justification depends as much upon it, as
though it had been meritorious. This is the account which some give of
justification; and to prepare the way for this opinion, they suppose,
that the terms of salvation, in the gospel, which are substituted in the
room of those which were required under the first covenant made with
Adam, are faith, repentance and sincere obedience, instead of perfect;
and that God in justifying a penitent, believing sinner, pursuant to the
performance of these conditions, declares his willingness, that there
should be a relaxation of that law which man was at first obliged to
obey; and accordingly, that sincerity is demanded by him instead of
perfection, or substituted in the room of it; this they call the new
law, or others style it a remedial law: so that instead of being
justified by Christ’s yielding perfect obedience, or paying the
out-standing debt, which we were obliged, by reason of the violation of
the first covenant, to pay, we are to be justified by our own imperfect

But that which may be objected to this method of reasoning, is, that it
is inconsistent with the holiness of the divine nature, and the glory of
the justice of God, detracts from the honour of his law, and is, in
effect, to maintain that we are justified without satisfaction given.
For though these terms of our justification, and acceptance in the sight
of God, may be falsely styled a valuable consideration; yet none will
pretend to assert, that they are an infinite price; and nothing short of
that (which is no other than Christ’s righteousness) is sufficient to
answer this end. I am sensible, that they who lay down this plan of
justification, allege in defence thereof; that though these terms of
acceptance are of small value in themselves; yet God, by an act of
grace, reckons the payment of a small debt equivalent to that of a
greater, as has been before observed. And they speak of faith and
repentance as having a value set upon them by their reference to the
blood of Christ[51], who merited this privilege for us, that we should
be justified in such a way, or upon these conditions performed: they
call them indeed easier terms, or conditions, and include them all in
the general word sincerity, instead of perfection. But they are
nevertheless somewhat divided in their method of explaining themselves,
inasmuch as some suppose these conditions to be wholly in our own power,
without the aids of divine grace, as much as perfect obedience was in
the power of our first parents; whereas others ascribe a little more to
the grace of God, according as they explain the doctrine of effectual
calling; though they do not suppose, that these conditions are
altogether out of our own power; and they so far lay a foundation for
the sinner’s glorying herein, as that, they suppose, our right to
justification and eternal life is founded on them.

I cannot but think this method of explaining the doctrine of
justification to be subversive of the gospel, and that it is highly
derogatory to the glory of God to assert that he can dispense with the
demand of perfect obedience, and justify a person on easier terms; which
is little better than what the apostle calls _make void the law_: this,
says he, we are far from doing _by faith_, or by our asserting the
doctrine of justification by faith in Christ’s righteousness; _but we
rather establish it_ hereby: and to say that God sets such a value on
our performing these conditions of the new covenant, as that they are
deemed equivalent to Christ’s performing perfect obedience for us, this
reflects on his glory, as set forth, to be a propitiation for sin, to
declare God’s righteousness in the remission thereof; and detracts from
the obligation which we are laid under to him, for what he did and
suffered in our behalf, for our justification.

Moreover, to assert that God sets this value on our performances,
pursuant to Christ’s merit; or that they are highly esteemed by him,
because they are tinctured with his blood; this is contrary to the
design of his death, which was, not that such an estimate might be set
on what is done by us; but rather, that the iniquities that attend our
best performances may be forgiven; and that (though, when we have done
all, we are unprofitable servants,) we may be made accepted in the
Beloved; and having no justifying righteousness of our own, may be
justified, and glory in that which he hath wrought out for us.

And as for the supposition, that faith, repentance, and new obedience,
are not only conditions of justification, but easy to be performed: this
plainly discovers, that they who maintain it, either think too lightly
of man’s impotency and averseness to what is good, and his alienation
from the life of God, or are strangers to their own hearts, and are not
duly sensible that it is God that works in his people both to will and
to do, of his own good pleasure.

The only thing that I shall add, in opposition to the doctrine of
justification by works, is, that whatever is the matter or ground of our
justification in the sight of God, must be pleadable at his bar; for we
cannot be justified without a plea, and if any plea, taken from our own
works, be thought sufficient, how much soever the proud and deluded
heart of man may set too great a value upon them; yet God will not
reckon the plea valid, so as to discharge us from guilt, and give us a
right and title to eternal life on the account thereof; which leads us
to consider,

2. The method taken to explain this doctrine in the answer before us,
which we think agreeable to the divine perfections, and contains a true
state of the doctrine of justification by faith. We before considered
justification as a forensic act, that we might understand what is meant
by our sins being imputed to Christ our Head and Surety, and his
righteousness imputed to us, or placed to our account. And we are now to
speak of this righteousness as pleaded by, or applied to us, as the
foundation of our claim to all the blessings that were purchased by it.
Here we must consider a sinner as bringing in his plea, in order to his
discharge; and this is twofold.

(1.) If he be charged by men, or by Satan, with crimes not committed, he
pleads his own innocency; if charged with hypocrisy, he pleads his own
sincerity. Thus we are to understand several expressions in scripture to
this purpose; as for instance, when a charge of the like nature was
brought in against Job, Satan having suggested that he did not serve God
for nought; and that if God would touch his bone and his flesh, he would
curse him to his face: and his friends having often applied the
character they give of the hypocrite to him, and so concluding him to be
a wicked person, he says, _God forbid that I should justify you_; that
is, that I should acknowledge your charge to be just; _till I die, I
will not remove mine integrity from me: my righteousness I hold fast,
and will not let it go: my heart shall not reproach me so long as I
live_, Job xxvii. 5, 6. that is, I never will own what you insinuate,
that my heart is not right with God. And David, when complaining of the
ill-treatment which he met with from his enemies and persecutors, who
desired not only to _tread down his life upon the earth_, but to _lay
his honour in the dust_; to murder his name as well as his person, he
prays, _Judge me, O Lord, according to my righteousness, and according
to mine integrity that is in me_, Psal. vii. 8. What could he plead
against maliciousness and false insinuations, but his righteousness or
his integrity? And elsewhere, when he says, _The Lord rewarded me
according to my righteousness; according to the cleanness of my hands
hath he recompensed me: For I have kept the ways of the Lord; his
judgments were before me. I was also upright before him, and have kept
myself from mine iniquity_, 2 Sam. xxii. 21, _&c. seq._ it is nothing
else but an intimation, that how much soever he might be charged with
the contrary vices, he was, in this respect, innocent: and though God
did not justify him at his tribunal, for this righteousness; yet, in the
course of his providence, he seemed to approve of his plea, so far as
that whatever the world thought of him, he plainly dealt with him as one
who was highly favoured by him; or whom, by his dealings with him, he
evidently distinguished from those whose hearts were not right with him.
It is true, some who plead for justification by our own righteousness,
allege these scriptures as a proof of it, without distinguishing between
the justification of our persons in the sight of God, and the
justification of our righteous cause; or our being justified when
accused at God’s tribunal, and our being justified, or vindicated from
those charges that are brought against us at man’s.

(2.) When a person stands at God’s tribunal, as we must suppose the
sinner to do, when bringing in his plea for justification in his sight;
then he has nothing else to plead but Christ’s righteousness; and faith
is that grace that pleads it: and in that respect we are said to be
justified by faith, or in a way of believing. Faith doth not justify by
presenting or pleading itself, or any other grace that accompanies or
flows from it, as the cause why God should forgive sin, or give us a
right to eternal life; for they have not sufficient worth or excellency
in them to procure these blessings. Therefore, when we are said to be
justified by faith, it is by faith, as apprehending, pleading, or laying
hold on Christ’s righteousness; and this gives occasion to divines to
call it the instrument of our justification. Christ’s righteousness is
the thing claimed or apprehended; and faith is that by which it is
claimed or apprehended; and, agreeably to the idea of an instrument, we
are said not to be justified for faith, but by it. Christ’s
righteousness is that which procures a discharge from condemnation for
all for whom it was wrought out; faith is the hand that receives it;
whereby a person has a right to conclude, that it was wrought out for
him. Christ’s righteousness is that which has a tendency to enrich and
adorn the soul; and faith is the hand that receives it, whereby it
becomes ours, in a way of fiducial application: and as the righteousness
of Christ is compared, in scripture, to a glorious robe, which renders
the soul beautiful, or is its highest and chief ornament; it is by faith
that it is put on; and, in this respect, as the prophet speaks, its
beauty is rendered _perfect through his comeliness, which is put upon
him_, Ezek. xvi. 14. so that Christ’s righteousness justifies, as it is
the cause of our discharge; faith justifies as the instrument that
applies this discharge to us; thus when it is said, _the just shall live
by faith_, faith is considered as that which seeks to, and finds this
life in him; the effect is, by a metonymy, applied to the instrument; as
when the husbandman is said to live or to be maintained by his plough,
and the artist to live by his hands, or the beggar by his empty hand
that receives the donative. If a person was in a dungeon, like the
prophet Jeremiah, and a rope is let down to draw him out of it, his
laying hold on it is the instrument, but the hand that draws him out, is
the principal cause of his release from thence; or, that we may make use
of a similitude that more directly illustrates the doctrine we are
maintaining, suppose a condemned malefactor had a pardon procured for
him, which gives him a right to liberty, or a discharge from the place
of his confinement, this must be pleaded, and his claim be rendered
visible; and after that he is no longer deemed a guilty person, but
discharged, in open court, from the sentence that he was under. Thus
Christ procures forgiveness by his blood; the gospel holds it forth, and
describes those who have a right to claim it as belonging to him in
particular: and hence arises a visible discharge from condemnation, and
a right to claim the benefits that attend it. If we understand
justification by faith, in this sense, we do not attribute too much to
faith on the one hand, nor too little to Christ’s righteousness on the

And we rather choose to call faith an instrument, than a condition of
our justification, being sensible, that the word _condition_ is
generally used to signify that for the sake whereof, a benefit is
conferred, rather than the instrument by which it is applied; not but
that it may be explained in such a way, as is consistent with the
doctrine of justification by faith, as before considered. We do not deny
that faith is the condition of our claim to Christ’s righteousness; or
that it is God’s ordinance, without which we have no ground to conclude
our interest in it. We must therefore distinguish between its being a
condition of forgiveness, and its being a condition of our visible and
apparent right hereunto. This cannot be said to belong to us, unless we
receive it; neither can we conclude that we have an interest in Christ’s
redemption, any more than they for whom he did not lay down his life,
but by this medium. We must first consider Christ’s righteousness as
wrought out for all them that were given him by the Father; and faith is
that which gives us ground to conclude, that this privilege, in
particular, belongs to us.

This account of the use of faith in justification, we cannot but think
sufficient to obviate the most material objections that are brought
against our way of maintaining the doctrine of justification, _viz._ by
Christ’s righteousness, in one respect, and by faith in another. It is
an injurious suggestion to suppose that we deny the necessity of faith
in any sense, or conclude, that we may lay claim to this privilege
without it; since we strenuously assert the necessity, on the one hand,
of Christ’s righteousness being wrought out for us, and forgiveness
procured thereby; and, on the other hand, the necessity of our receiving
it, each of which is true in its respective place. Christ must have the
glory that is due to him, and faith the work, or office that belongs to

Thus we have considered Christ’s righteousness as applied by faith; and
it may be also observed, that there is one scripture, in which it is
said to be _imputed by faith_, as the apostle Paul, when speaking
concerning Abraham’s justification by faith, in this righteousness,
says, _It was imputed to him for righteousness_; and adds, that _it was
not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him, but for us
also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe_, Rom. iv. 22, 23, 24.
in which scripture, I conceive, that imputation is taken for
application; and accordingly the meaning is, the righteousness of Christ
is so imputed, as that we have ground to place it to our own account, if
we believe; which is the same with applying it by faith.[52]

And whereas the apostle speaks elsewhere of _faith’s being counted for
righteousness_, ver. 5. it must be allowed, that there is a great deal
of difficulty in the mode of expression. If we assert that the act of
believing is imputed for righteousness, as they who establish the
doctrine of justification by works, or by faith as a work, we overthrow
that which we have been maintaining: and if, on the other hand, we
understand faith, for the object of faith, _viz._ what was wrought out
by Christ, which faith is conversant about, and conclude, (as I conceive
we ought to do,) that this, is imputed for righteousness, this is
supposed, by some, to deviate too much from the common sense of words,
to be allowed of: but if there be such a figurative way of speaking used
in other scriptures, why may we not suppose that it is used in this text
under our present consideration? If other graces are sometimes taken for
the object thereof, why may not faith be taken, by a metonymy, for its
object? Thus the apostle calls those whom he writes to, _his joy_, that
is, the object, or matter thereof, Phil. iv. 1. And in the book of
Canticles, the church calls Christ _her love_, Cant. iv. 8. that is, the
object thereof. And elsewhere, hope is plainly taken for the object of
it, when the apostle says, _Hope that is seen, is not hope: for what a
man seeth, why doth he yet hope for?_ Rom. viii. 24. By which he plainly
intends, that whatever is the object of hope, cannot be in our present
possession: and Christ is farther styled, _The blessed hope_, Tit. ii.
13. that is, the person whose appearance we hope for. And Jacob speaks
of God as _the fear of his father Isaac_, Gen. xxxi. 53. that is, the
person whom he worshipped with reverential fear; in all which cases the
phraseology is equally difficult with that of the text, under our
present consideration. Thus concerning Christ’s righteousness, as
wrought out for us, and applied by faith; which is the foundation of all
our peace and comfort, both in life and death; and therefore cannot but
be reckoned a doctrine of the highest importance: we shall now consider
some things that may be inferred from it. And,

[1.] From what has been said concerning justification, as founded in
Christ’s suretyship-righteousness, wrought out for us, by what was done
and suffered by him, in his human nature; and the infinite value
thereof, as depending on the glory of the divine nature, to which it is
united, we cannot but infer the absurdity of two contrary opinions,
namely, that of those who have asserted, that we are justified by the
essential righteousness of Christ as God[57]; and that of others, who
pretend, that because all mediatorial acts are performed by Christ only
as man: therefore the infinite dignity of the divine nature, has no
reference to their being satisfactory to divine justice. This is what
they mean when they say, that we are justified by Christ’s righteousness
as man, in opposition to our being justified by his essential
righteousness as God[58]: whereas, I think, the truth lies in a _medium_
between both these extremes; on the one hand we must suppose, that
Christ’s engagement to become a surety for us, and so stand in our room
and stead, and thereby to pay the debt which we had contracted to the
justice of God, could not be done in any other than the human nature;
for the divine nature is not capable of being under a law, or fulfilling
it, or, in any instance, of obeying, or suffering; and therefore, we
cannot be justified by Christ’s essential righteousness, as God; and, on
the other hand, what Christ did and suffered as man, would not have been
sufficient for our justification, had it not had an infinite value put
upon it, arising from the union of the nature that suffered with the
divine nature, which is agreeable to the apostle’s expression, when he
says, _God purchased the church with his own blood_, Acts, xx. 28.

[2.] From what has been said, concerning the fruits and effects of
justification, as by virtue hereof our sins are pardoned, and we made
accepted in the beloved, we infer; that it is not only an unscriptural
way of speaking, but has a tendency to overthrow the doctrine we have
been maintaining, to assert, as some do, that God is only rendered
reconcileable by what was done and suffered by Christ. This seems to be
maintained by those who treat on this subject, with a different view.
Some speak of God’s being rendered reconcileable by Christ’s
righteousness that they might make way for what they have farther to
advance, namely, that God’s being reconciled to a sinner, is the result
of his own repentance, or the amendment of his life, whereby he makes
his peace with him; which is to make repentance or reformation the
matter of our justification, and substitute it in the room of Christ’s
righteousness: therefore, they who speak of God’s being made
reconcileable in this sense, by his blood, are so far from giving a true
account of the doctrine of justification, that, in reality, they
overthrow it.

But there are others, who speak of God’s being reconcileable as the
consequence of Christ’s satisfaction, that they might not be thought to
assert that God is actually reconciled by the blood of Christ, to those
who are in an unconverted state, which is inconsistent therewith;
therefore they use this mode of expression, lest they should be thought
to give countenance to the doctrine of actual justification before
faith; but certainly we are under no necessity of advancing one
absurdity to avoid another: therefore, let it be here considered, that
the scripture speaks expressly of God’s being reconciled by the death of
Christ; and accordingly he is said to have _brought_ him _again from the
dead_, as a _God of peace_, Heb. xiii. 20. And elsewhere, he speaks of
_God’s having reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ_, 2 Cor. v. 18.
and not becoming reconcilable to us. Again, _When we were enemies we
were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more being
reconciled, we shall be saved_, Rom. v. 10. that is, shall obtain the
saving effects of this reconciliation _by his life_. And again, _Having
made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all
things to himself: and you that were sometimes alienated, and enemies in
your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled, in the body of
his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable, and
unreprovable in his sight_, Col. i. 21, 22. Where he describes those who
were reconciled as once enemies, and speaks of this privilege as being
procured by the death of Christ, and of holiness here, and salvation
hereafter, as the consequence of it; therefore it is such a
reconciliation as is contained in our justification.

But though this appears very agreeable to the mind of the Holy Ghost, in
scripture, yet it must be understood in consistency with those other
scriptures, that represent persons in an unconverted state, as _children
of wrath_, Eph. ii. 3. and being _hateful_, Tit. iii. 3. that is, not
only deserving to be hated by God, but actually hated, as appears by the
many threatnings that are denounced against them, and their being in a
condemned state, that we may not give countenance to the doctrine of
some, who, not distinguishing between God’s secret and revealed will,
maintain that we are not only virtually, but actually justified before
we believe; as though we had a right to claim Christ’s righteousness
before we have any ground to conclude, that it was wrought out for us:
but what has been already suggested concerning justification by faith,
will, I think, sufficiently remove this difficulty.

The only thing that remains to be explained is; how God may be said to
be reconciled by the blood of Christ, to a person who is in an
unconverted state, and as such, represented as a child of wrath? for the
understanding of which, let us consider, that so long as a person is an
unbeliever, he has no ground to conclude, according to the tenor of
God’s revealed will, that he is reconciled to him, or that he is any
other than a child of wrath. Nevertheless, when we speak of God’s being
reconciled to his elect, according to the tenor of his secret will,
before they believe, that is in effect to say, that justification, as it
is an immanent act in God, is antecedent to faith, which is a certain
truth, inasmuch as faith is a fruit and consequence thereof: whereas,
God does not declare that he is reconciled to us, or give us ground to
conclude it; whereby we appear no longer to be children of wrath, till
we believe. If this be duly considered, we have no reason to assert,
that God is reconcileable, rather than reconciled by the death of
Christ, lest we should be thought to maintain the doctrine of
justification, or deliverance from wrath, as a declared act, before we
believe. And to this we may add, that God was reconcileable to his
elect, that is, willing to be reconciled to them before Christ died for
them; otherwise he would never have sent him into the world to make
reconciliation for the sins of his people: he was reconcileable, and
therefore designed to turn from the fierceness of his wrath; and in
order thereunto, he appointed Christ to make satisfaction for sin, and
procure peace for them.

[3.] There is not the least inconsistency between those scriptures
which speak of justification as being an act of God’s free grace, and
others, which speak of it as being, by faith, founded on Christ’s
righteousness; or between God’s pardoning sin freely, without regard
to any thing done by us to procure it; and yet insisting on, and
receiving a full satisfaction, as the meritorious and procuring cause
of it. This is sometimes objected against what we have advanced in
explaining the doctrine of justification, as being, in some respects,
an act of justice, and in others, of grace; as though it were
inconsistent with itself, and our method of explaining it were liable
to an absurdity, which is contrary to reason; as though two
contradictory propositions could be both true; namely, that
justification should be an act of the strictest justice, without any
abatement of the debt demanded, and yet of free grace, without
insisting on the payment of the debt: but this seeming contradiction
may be easily reconciled, if we consider that the debt was not paid by
us in our own persons; which had it been done, it would have been
inconsistent with forgiveness’s being an act of grace; but by our
surety, and in that respect there was no abatement of the debt, nor
did he receive a discharge by an act of grace, but was justified as
our head or surety, by his own righteousness, or works performed by
him; whereas, we are justified by his suretyship-righteousness,
without works performed by us; and this surety was provided for us; as
has been before observed; and therefore, when we speak of
justification, as being an act of grace, we distinguish between the
justification of our surety, after he had given full satisfaction for
the debt which we had contracted; and this payment’s being placed to
our account by God’s gracious imputation thereof to us, and our
obtaining forgiveness as the result thereof, which can be no other
than an act of the highest grace.

[4.] From what has been said concerning justification by faith, we
infer, the method, order and time, in which God justifies his people.
There are some who not only speak of justification before faith, but
from eternity; and consider it as an immanent act in God in the same
sense as election is said to be. I will not deny eternal justification,
provided it be considered as contained in God’s secret will, and not
made the rule by which we are to determine ourselves to be in a
justified state, and as such to have a right and title to eternal life,
before it is revealed or apprehended by faith: if we take it in this
sense, it is beyond dispute, that justification is not by faith; but
inasmuch as the most known, yea, the only sense in which justification
is spoken of, as applied to particular persons, is, that it is by faith:
therefore, we must suppose,

_1st_, That it is a declared act. That which is hid in God, and not
declared, cannot be said to be applied; and that which is not applied,
cannot be the rule by which particular persons may judge of their state.
Thus, if we speak of eternal election, and say, That God has
peremptorily determined the state of those that shall be saved, that
they shall not perish; this is nothing to particular persons, unless
they have ground to conclude themselves elected. So if we say that God
has, from all eternity, given his elect into Christ’s hands; that he has
undertaken before the foundation of the world, to redeem them; and that,
pursuant hereunto, God promised that he would give eternal life unto
them; or, if we consider Christ as having fulfilled what he undertook
from all eternity, finished transgression, brought in everlasting
righteousness, and fully paid the debt which he undertook; consider him
as being discharged, and receiving an acquittance, when raised from the
dead; and all this as done in the name of the elect, as their head and
representative; and if you farther consider them, as it is often
expressed, as virtually justified in him; all this is nothing to them,
with respect to their peace and comfort; they have no more a right to
claim an interest in this privilege or relation, than if he had not paid
a price for them. Therefore, we suppose that justification, as it is the
foundation of our claim to eternal life, is a declared act.

_2d._ If justification be a declared act, there must be some method
which God uses, whereby he declares, or makes it known. Now it is
certain, that he, no where in scripture, tells an unbeliever that he has
an interest in Christ’s righteousness, or that his sins are pardoned, or
gives him any warrant to take comfort from any such conclusion; but, on
the other hand, such an one has no ground to conclude any other,
concerning himself, but that he is a child of wrath; for he is to judge
of things according to the tenor of God’s revealed will. Christ’s
righteousness is nothing to him in point of application; he is guilty of
bold presumption if he lays claim to it, or takes comfort from it, as
much as he would be were he to say, some are elected, therefore I am.

_3d_, When a person believes, he has a right to conclude, that he is
justified, or to claim all the privileges that result from it; and this
is what we call justification by faith, which therefore cannot be before
faith; for that which gives a person a right to claim a privilege, must
be antecedent to this claim; or, that which is the foundation of a
person’s concluding himself to be justified, must be antecedent to his
making this conclusion; and in this respect, all who duly consider what
they affirm, must conclude that justification is not before faith.

[5.] From what has been said concerning the office or use of faith in
justification, as it is an instrument that applies Christ’s
righteousness to ourselves, we infer; that it is more than an evidence
of our justification: we do not indeed deny it to be an evidence that we
were virtually justified in Christ as our head and representative, when
he was raised from the dead, in the same sense as it is an evidence of
our eternal election: but this is equally applicable to all other
graces, and therefore cannot be a true description of justifying faith.
If we are justified by faith, only as it is an evidence of our right to
Christ’s righteousness, we are as much justified by love, patience, and
submission to the divine will, or any other grace that accompanies
salvation; but they who speak of faith as only an evidence, will not say
that we are justified by all other graces, in the same sense as we are
justified by faith; and indeed, the scripture gives us no warrant so to

[6.] From what has been said concerning faith as giving us a right to
claim Christ’s righteousness, we infer; that a person is justified
before he has what we call, the faith of assurance; of which more
hereafter: therefore we consider the grace of faith, as justifying or
giving us a right to claim Christ’s righteousness, whether we have an
actual claim or no. This must be allowed, otherwise the loss of this
assurance would infer the suspension or loss of our justification, and
consequently would render our state as uncertain as our frames, or our
peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ, as liable to be lost as
that peace and joy which we sometimes have in believing, and at other
times are destitute of.

[7.] From what has been said concerning justifying faith’s being
accompanied with all other graces, we infer; that that faith which is
justifying, is also a saving grace, or a grace which accompanies
salvation; but yet there is this difference between saving faith, as we
generally call it, and justifying, in that the former respects Christ in
all his offices, the latter considers him only in his Priestly office,
or as set forth to be a propitiation for sin. And this leads us to
consider the grace of faith in its larger extent, both with respect to
its acts and objects, as contained in the former of the answers we are
explaining: and therefore,

We are now to consider the nature of faith in general, or of that faith,
which, as before explained, we call justifying. There are some things in
this grace which are common to it with other graces; particularly, it is
styled a saving grace, not as being the cause of our salvation, but as
it accompanies, or is connected with it. Again, it is said to be wrought
in the heart of a sinner, to distinguish it from other habits of a lower
nature, which are acquired by us; and it is said to be wrought by the
Spirit and Word of God; by his Spirit, as the principal efficient, who,
in order thereunto, exerts his divine power; and by the word, as the
instrument which he makes use of. The Word presents to us the object of
faith; and it is God’s ordinance, in attending to which, he works and
excites it.

Moreover, there are several things supposed or contained in this grace
of faith, which are common to it, with other graces. As when a believer
is said to be first convinced of sin and misery, and of his being unable
to recover himself out of the lost condition in which he is, by nature;
and the impossibility of his being recovered out of it by any other
creature; in all these respects, faith contains in it several things in
common with other graces; particularly with conversion, effectual
calling, and repentance unto life. These things, therefore, we shall
pass over as being considered elsewhere, and confine ourselves to what
is peculiar to this grace mentioned in this answer; only some few things
may be observed concerning it, as it is styled a saving grace, and
wrought in the heart of man, by the Spirit and Word of God; and we shall
add some other things, of which we have no particular account in this
answer; which may contain a more full explication of this grace: in
speaking to which, we shall observe the following method;

I. We shall consider the meaning of the word _faith_, in the more
general idea of it.

II. We shall speak particularly concerning the various kinds of _faith_.

III. The various objects and acts of saving faith; especially as it
assents to the truth of the promise of the gospel, and receives, and
rests upon, Christ and his righteousness, held forth therein.

IV. We shall consider it as a grace that accompanies salvation, and
wrought in the heart by the power of the Spirit, and instrumentality of
the word.

V. We shall consider it as strong or weak, increasing or declining, with
the various marks and evidences thereof.

VI. We shall speak of the use of faith in the whole conduct of our
lives; as every thing we do in an acceptable manner, is said to be done
by it.

VII. We shall shew how it is to be attained or increased, and what are
the means conducive thereunto.

I. Concerning the meaning of the word _faith_, in the more general idea
thereof. It is either an assent to a truth, founded on sufficient
evidence; or a confiding or relying on the word or power of one, who is
able and willing to afford us sufficient help or relief.[59]

1. As to the former of these, as it contains an assent to a truth
proposed and supported by sufficient evidence. This is more especially
an act of the understanding; and it is necessary, in order hereunto,
that something be discovered to us, as the matter of our belief, which
demands or calls for our assent; and that is considered either only as
true, or else, as true and good: if it be considered only as true, the
faith, or assent that is required thereunto is speculative; but if we
consider it not only as true, but good, or, as containing something
redounding to our advantage; then the faith resulting from it is
practical, and seated partly in the understanding, and partly in the
will; or, at least, the will is influenced and inclined to embrace what
the understanding not only assents to as true, but proposes to us as
that which if enjoyed would tend very much to our advantage.

As to this general description of faith, as an assent to what is
reported, founded upon sufficient evidence, we may farther consider;[60]
that it is not in our power to believe a thing, unless the judgment be
convinced, and we have ground to conclude it to be true, and accordingly
there must be something which has a tendency to give this conviction;
and that it is what we call evidence: every thing that is reported is
not to be credited; since it has very often no appearance of truth in
it: and it is reasonable for the understanding, to demand a proof before
it yields an assent; and if it be a matter of report, then we are to
consider the nature of the evidence, whether it be sufficient, or
insufficient to persuade us to believe what is reported; and according
to the strength or credibility thereof, we believe, hesitate about it,
or utterly reject it. If, according to our present view of things, it
may be true or false, we hardly call it the object of faith; we can only
say concerning it, that it is probable; if it be, on the other hand,
attested by such evidence, as cannot, without scepticism be denied;
hence arises what we call certainty, or an assurance of faith, supported
by the strongest evidence.

Moreover, according to the nature of the evidence, or testimony, on
which it is founded, it is distinguished into human and divine; both of
these are contained in the apostle’s words, _If we receive the witness
of men, the witness of God is greater_, 1 John v. 9. As for human
testimony, though it may not be termed false, yet it can hardly be
deemed any other than fallible, since it cannot be said concerning
sinful man, that it is impossible for him to lie or deceive, or be
deceived himself; but when we believe a thing on the divine testimony,
our faith is infallible: it is as impossible for us to be deceived as it
is for God to impart that to us, which is contrary to his infinite
holiness and veracity. It is in this latter sense that we consider the
word _faith_, when we speak of it as an act of religious worship, or
included or supposed in our idea of saving faith; and so we style it a
firm assent to every thing that God has revealed as founded on the
divine veracity.

Let us now consider faith as it contains an assent to a thing, not only
as true, but as good; upon which account we call it a practical assent,
first seated in the understanding; and then the will embraces what the
understanding discovers to be conducive to our happiness; we first
believe the truth of it, and then regulate our conduct agreeably
thereunto. As when a criminal hears a report of an act of grace being
issued forth by the king, he does not rest in a bare assent to the truth
thereof, but puts in his claim to it. Or, as when a merchant is credibly
informed, that there are great advantages to be obtained by trading into
foreign countries; he receives the report with a design to use all
proper methods to partake of the advantage; as our Saviour illustrates
it, when he compares _the kingdom of heaven unto a merchant man seeking
goodly pearls; who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and
sold all that he had, and bought_, Matt. xiii. 45. We have sufficient
evidence to support our faith, that there is forgiveness of sin, through
the blood of Christ; and that all spiritual blessings are treasured up
in him, for the heirs of salvation: in this respect faith does not
contain a bare speculative assent to the truth of this proposition; but
it excites in us an endeavour to obtain these blessings in that way
which is prescribed by him, who is the giver thereof.

2. Faith may be farther considered, as denoting an act of trust or
dependence on him, who is the object thereof. This is very distinct from
the former sense of the word: for though it supposes indeed an assent of
the understanding to some truth proposed; yet this truth is of such a
nature, as that it produces in us a resting or reliance on one who is
able, and has expressed a willingness to do us good; and whose promise
relating hereunto, is such, as we have ground to depend on. This
supposes in him, who is the subject thereof, a sense of his own weakness
or indigence, and in him that is the object of it, a fitness to be the
object of trust, for his attaining relief: thus the sick man depends
upon the skill and faithfulness of the physician, and determines to look
no farther for help, but relies on his prescriptions, and uses the means
that he appoints for the restoring of his health; or, as when a person
is assaulted by one who threatens to ruin him, and is able to do it, as
being an over-match for him, he has recourse to, and depends on the
assistance of one that is able to secure and defend him, and thereby
prevent the danger that he feared. Thus Jehoshaphat, when his country
was invaded by a great multitude of foreign troops, being apprehensive
that he was not able to withstand them; he exercises this faith of
reliance on the divine power, when he says, _We have no might against
this great company, that come against us; neither know we what to do,
but our eyes are upon thee_, 2 Chron. xx. 12. And God is very often, in
scripture, represented as the object of trust: so the church says, _I
will trust, and not be afraid; for the Lord Jehovah is my strength_; and
elsewhere, _he that walketh in darkness and hath no light_, Isa. xii. 2.
that is, knows not which way to turn, is helpless and destitute of all
comfort, is encouraged to _trust in the name of the Lord, and stay upon
his God_, chap. l. 10. This is truly and properly a divine faith, and
accordingly an act of religious worship; and is opposed to a _trusting
in man, and making flesh his arm_, Jer. xvii. 5. and it supposes a firm
persuasion, that God is able to do all that for us which we stand in
need of; and that he has promised that he will do us good, and that he
will never fail nor forsake them that repose their trust or confidence
in him: with this view the soul relies on his perfections, seeks to him
for comfort, and lays the whole stress of his hope of salvation on him,
not doubting concerning the event hereof, but concluding himself safe,
if he can say, that _the eternal God is his refuge, and underneath are
the everlasting arms_, Deut. xxxiii. 27. This leads us,

II. To consider the various kinds of faith, as mentioned in scripture.
Thus we read of a faith that was adapted to that extraordinary
dispensation of providence, in which God was pleased to confirm some
great and important truths by miracles; which is therefore styled a
faith of miracles. There is also a faith that has no reference to a
supernatural event, or confined to any particular age or state of the
church, in which miracles are expected, but is founded on the
gospel-revelation, which, how much soever it may resemble saving faith,
yet falls short of it; and there is a faith which is inseparably
connected with salvation.

1. Concerning the faith of miracles. This is what our Saviour intends,
when he tells his disciples, That _if they had faith as a grain of
mustard-seed, they should say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder
place, and it should remove; and nothing should be impossible unto
them_, Matt. xvii. 20. This is such a faith that many had, who were not
in a state of salvation; as is plain from what our Saviour says, that
_many will say to him in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in
thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name have
done many wonderful works? to whom he will profess I never knew you_;
and his commanding them to _depart from him_ as having _wrought
iniquity_, chap. vii. 22, 23. And the apostle Paul supposes, that a
person might have _all faith_, that is, this kind of faith; _so that he
might remove mountains_, 1 Cor. xiii. 2. which is a proverbial
expression, denoting, that extraordinary and miraculous events might
attend it; and yet, at the same time, be destitute of _charity_, or love
to God, and consequently without saving grace; and so appear, in the
end, to _be nothing_.

Some have questioned whether this faith of miracles was peculiar to the
gospel-dispensation, in the time of our Saviour and the apostles, and so
was not required in those who wrought miracles under the Old Testament
dispensation; though others suppose, that, from the nature of the thing,
it was always necessary that faith should be exercised, when a miracle
was wrought; though it is true, we have little or no account of this
faith, as exercised by those that wrought miracles before our Saviour’s
time; and therefore, we cannot so peremptorily determine this matter;
but according to the account we have thereof in the New Testament, there
were several things necessary to, or included in this faith of miracles.

(1.) Some important article of revealed religion must be proposed to be
believed; and in order thereunto, an explicit appeal made to God, in
expectation of his immediate interposure in working a miracle for that
end: every thing that was the object of faith, was not, indeed, to be
proved true by a miracle, but only those things which could not be
sufficiently evinced without it, so as to beget a divine faith in those
who were the subjects of conviction. We never read that miracles were
wrought to convince the world that there was a God, or a providence; or,
to persuade men concerning the truth of those things that might be
sufficiently proved by rational arguments: but when there could not be
such a proof given without the finger of God being rendered visible by a
miracle wrought, then they depended on such an instance of divine
condescension; and the people who were to receive conviction, were to
expect such an extraordinary event.

(2.) It was necessary that there should be a firm persuasion of the
truth of the doctrine, to be confirmed by a miracle in him that wrought
it, together with an explicit appeal to it for the conviction of those
whose faith was to be confirmed thereby: and sometimes we read, that
when miracles were to be wrought in favour of them, who before had a
sufficient proof that our Saviour was the Messiah, it was necessary that
they should have a strong persuasion concerning this matter, and that he
was able to work a miracle; otherwise they had no ground to expect that
the miracle should be wrought: in the former instance we read of
Christ’s disciples working miracles for the conviction of the Jews, and
exercising, at the same time, this faith of miracles; and in the latter
a general faith was demanded, that our Saviour was the Messiah, before
the miracle was wrought; in which sense we are to understand his reply
to the man who desired that he would cast the Devil out of his son; _If
thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth_, Mark
ix. 23. _q. d._ Thou hast had sufficient conviction that I am the
Messiah, by other miracles, and consequently hast no reason to doubt but
that I can cast the Devil out of thy son; therefore, if thou hast a
strong persuasion of the truth hereof, the thing that thou desirest
shall be granted: and elsewhere it is said, _He did not many mighty
works because of their unbelief_, Matt. xiii. 58.

(3.) How much soever a person might exercise this strong persuasion,
that a miracle should be wrought, which we generally call a faith of
miracles; yet I cannot think that this event always ensued without
exception. For sometimes God might refuse to work a miracle, that he
might hereby cast contempt on some vile persons, who pretended to this
faith of miracles; who, though they professed their faith in Christ as
the Messiah, yet their conversation contradicted their profession, and
therefore God would not put that honour upon them so as to work a
miracle at their desire; much less are we to suppose, that he would work
a miracle at any one’s pleasure, if they were persuaded that he would do
so. Again, sometimes God might refuse to exert his divine power, in
working a miracle, in judgment, when persons had had sufficient means
for their conviction by other miracles, but believed not. And finally,
when the truth of the Christian religion had been sufficiently confirmed
by miracles, they were less common; and then we read nothing more of
that faith which took its denomination from thence.

2. There is another kind of faith, which has some things in common with
saving faith, and is sometimes mistaken for it, but is vastly different
from it. This, in some, is called an historical faith; and in others, by
reason of the short continuance thereof, a temporary faith. An
historical faith is that whereby persons are convinced of the truth of
what is revealed in the gospel, though this has very little influence on
their conversation: such have right notions of divine things, but do not
entertain a suitable regard to them; religion with them is little more
than a matter of speculation; they do not doubt concerning any of the
important doctrines of the gospel, but are able and ready to defend them
by proper arguments: nevertheless, though, in words, they profess their
faith in Christ, in works they deny him: such as these the apostle
intends when he says; _Thou believest that there is one God, thou dost
well: the devils also believe and tremble_, James ii. 19. And he charges
them with a vain presumption, in that they expected to be justified
hereby; whereas their faith was without works, or those fruits which
were necessary to justify, or evince its sincerity; or to prove that it
was such a grace as accompanies salvation; and therefore he gives it no
better a character than that of a dead faith.

As for that which is called a temporary faith, this differs little from
the former, unless we consider it, as having a tendency, in some
measure, to excite the affections; and so far to regulate the
conversation, as that which is attended with a form of godliness, which
continues as long as this comports with, or is subservient to their
secular interest: but it is not such a faith as will enable them to pass
through fiery trials, or part with all things for Christ’s sake, or to
rejoice in him, as their portion, when they meet with little but
tribulation and persecution, in the world, for the sake of the gospel.
This will evidently discover the insincerity thereof; for it will wither
like a plant that is without a root: our Saviour speaks of it in the
parable, of the _seed that fell upon stony places, where they had not
much earth, and forthwith they sprang up, because they had no deepness
of earth; and when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they
had no root they withered away_; which he explains of him, _who heareth
the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; yet hath he not root in
himself, but endureth for a while; for when tribulation or persecution
ariseth, because of thy word, by and by he is offended_, Matt. xiii. 5,
6. compared with ver. 20, 21. This parable had a particular relation to
the Jews, who heard John the Baptist gladly, rejoicing in his light for
a season; and seemed to be convinced, by his doctrine, concerning the
Messiah, who was shortly to appear; but when they apprehended that his
kingdom, instead of advancing them to great honours in the world, was
like to expose them to tribulations and persecutions they were offended
in him; and this is also applicable to all those who think themselves
something, and are thought so by others, as to the profession they make
of Christ and his gospel; but afterwards appear to be nothing, deceiving
their own souls. This leads us,

3. To consider faith as a grace that is inseparably connected with
salvation, which is called justifying faith, and also a saving grace, in
this answer, in which the nature thereof is explained; and what may be
farther said concerning it will be considered under the following heads,
which we proposed to insist on in the general method before laid down;
and therefore we shall proceed,

III. To speak concerning the various objects and acts of saving faith.

1. Concerning its objects. Every thing that is the object thereof, must
take its rise from God; for we are now speaking concerning a divine
faith; and inasmuch as saving faith supposes and includes in it an
assent to the truth of divine revelation, we are bound to believe
whatever God has revealed in his word; so that as all scripture is the
rule of faith, the matter thereof is the object of faith: and as
scripture contains an historical relation of things, these are the
objects of faith, and we are to yield an assent to what God reveals, as
being of infallible verity. As it is a rule of duty and obedience, we
are bound to believe so as to adore the sovereignty of God, commanding
to submit to his authority therein, as having a right to give laws to
our consciences, and acknowledge ourselves his subjects and servants,
under an indispensable obligation to yield the obedience of faith to
him: as it contains many great and precious promises, these are the
objects of faith, as we are to desire, hope for, and depend on the
faithfulness of God for the accomplishment of them; and more
particularly considering them as they are all, yea and amen, in Christ
to the glory of God. As for the threatnings which relate to the wrath of
God, due to sin, and warnings to fence the soul against it, and induce
us to abhor and hate it; these are objects of faith, so far as that we
must believe and tremble, and see the need we stand in of grace, which
we receive by faith to enable us to improve them, that through the
virtue of Christ’s righteousness we may hope to escape his wrath; and by
his strength be fortified against the prevalency of corruption, that has
proved destructive to multitudes.

But the principal object of faith is God in Christ, our great
Mediator:[61] thus our Saviour says, _Ye believe in God, believe also in
me_, John xiv. 1. This is sometimes styled coming to the Father by him;
as it is elsewhere said, _No man cometh unto the Father but by me_: or
else, coming to him as Mediator immediately, that in him we may obtain
whatever he has purchased for us, and thereby may have access to God, as
to our reconciled God and Father; and in so doing, obtain eternal life,
as he expresses it; _He that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he
that believeth on me shall never thirst_, chap. vi. 35. Which leads us
to consider,

2. Those particular acts of saving faith, in which we have to do with
Christ as Mediator, whereby we have access to God, through him: there
are several expressions in scripture, by which these acts of saving
faith are set forth, some of which are metaphorical; more particularly
it is called a looking to him; thus he is represented, by the prophet,
as saying, _Look unto me, and be ye saved all the ends of the earth_,
Isa. xlv. 22. Sometimes by coming to him, pursuant to the invitation he
gives, _Come unto me all ye that labour, and are heavy laden, and I will
give you rest_, Mat. xi. 25. which coming is elsewhere explained, as in
the scripture before-mentioned, by _believing in him_, John vi. 35. And
as we hope for refreshment and comfort in so doing, it is set forth by
that, metaphorical expression, of _coming to the waters_ and _buying
wine and milk without money and without price_, Isa. lv. 1. that is,
receiving from him those blessings which tend to satisfy and exhilirate
the soul, which are given to such as have nothing to offer for them; and
sometimes it is represented by flying to him; or, as the apostle
expresses it, _flying for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before
us_, Heb. vi. 18. as alluding to that eminent type thereof, contained in
the man-slayer’s flying to the city of refuge, from the avenger of
blood, and therein finding protection and safety: this is a description
more especially of faith as justifying; in which respect it is elsewhere
described, as _a putting on the Lord Jesus Christ_, Rom. xiii. 14. or
the glorious robe of his righteousness, on which account we are said to
be _clothed with the garments of salvation, and covered with the robe of
righteousness_, Isa. lxi. 10. And when we are enabled to apprehend our
interest in him by faith, together with the blessings that are the
result hereof, we are said to rejoice in Christ Jesus. There are many
other expressions by which this grace is set forth in scripture; but
those acts thereof, which we shall more especially consider, are our
receiving Christ, giving up ourselves to him, and trusting in, or
relying on him.

(1.) Faith is that grace whereby we receive Christ. Thus it is said, _as
many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God,
even to them that believe on his name_, John i. 12. This contains in it
the application of an overture made by him; not barely of something that
he has to bestow, which might contribute to our happiness, but of
himself. Christ has many things to bestow upon his people; but he first
gives himself; that is, he expresses a willingness to be their Prince
and Saviour, their Prophet, Priest, and King; that being thus related,
and adhering to him, they may be made partakers of his benefits, which
are the result thereof; and accordingly the soul, by faith applies
itself to him, and embraces the overture. Hereupon he is said to be
ours; and, as the consequence thereof, we lay claim to those benefits
which he has purchased for us, as our Redeemer. Christ is considered as
the first promised blessing in the covenant of grace; and _with him_ God
_freely gives_ his people _all things_ that they stand in need of, which
respect their everlasting salvation, Rom. viii. 32.

This supposes the person receiving him to be indigent and destitute of
every thing that may tend to make him happy, brought into the greatest
straits and difficulties, and standing in need of one who is able to
afford relief to him. He has heard in the gospel, that Christ is able to
supply his wants; and that he is willing to come and take up his abode
with him; accordingly the heart is open to embrace him, esteeming him to
be altogether lovely and desirable, beholding that excellency and glory
in his person, that renders him the object of his delight, as he is said
to be _precious to them that believe_, 1 Pet. ii. 7. looking upon him as
God-man Mediator, he concludes, that he is able to save, to the
uttermost, all that come unto God by him; and that all the treasures of
grace and glory are purchased by him, and given into his hand to apply
to those who have an interest in him: he expects to find them all in
Christ, as the result of his being made partaker of him; and accordingly
he adheres to him by this which is called an appropriating act of faith;
whereby he that was before represented in the gospel, as the Saviour and
Redeemer of his people, the fountain of all they enjoy or hope for, and
by whom they have access to God, as their reconciled God and Father, is
applied by the soul, to itself, as the spring of all its present and
future comfort and happiness.[62]

(2.) Another act of faith is giving up ourselves to Christ. As, in the
covenant of grace, God says, _I will be to them a God, and they shall be
to me a people_, faith builds on this foundation; it first apprehends
that he is able and willing to do them good, and make them happy in the
enjoyment of himself; and with this encouragement the soul receives him,
as has been but now observed; and pursuant hereunto devotes itself to
him, as desiring to be amongst the number of his faithful Servants and
followers. God sanctifies or separates them to himself as the objects of
his discriminating grace and love; and they desire, as the consequence
hereof, to give up themselves to him. Two things are supposed in this
act of self-dedication.

_1st_, A firm persuasion and acknowledgment of his right to us; not only
as the possessor of all things, which he has an undoubted right to as
God, as the potter has a right to his clay, the Creator to the work of
his hands; but that he has a right to us by purchase, as Mediator, in
which respect faith, and in particular, that which we call saving, of
which we are now speaking, has more especially an eye to him; _Ye are
not your own_, says the apostle, _for ye are bought with a price_, 1
Cor. vi. 20. and therefore this act of faith is an ascribing to him that
glory which he lays claim to by right of redemption: and as God has
constituted him heir of all things, more especially of those who are
called his peculiar treasure: so the believer gives up himself to him.
Before this, the matter in dispute was, who is Lord over us? Whether we
ought to be at our own disposal or his? Whether it be expedient to serve
divers lusts and pleasures, or be subject to him as our supreme Lord and
Lawgiver? But the soul is thoroughly convinced, by the internal
efficacious work of the Spirit, that our great Mediator is made of God,
both Lord and Christ; and that no one has a right to stand in
competition with him; and that we owe not only what we can do, but even
ourselves unto him; and as the result hereof, devotes itself to him by

_2d_, This also supposes that we are sensible of the many blessings that
he has in store for his people; and therefore we give up ourselves to
him in hope of his doing all that for us, and working all that grace in
us which is necessary to our salvation; but more of this will be
insisted on, when we consider him as the object of trust. All that I
shall add at present, under this head, is, that having this view of the
person of Christ, as one who demands obedience, love and gratitude from
us, we give up ourselves entirely, and without reserve, to him: thus the
apostle says, _They first gave their own selves to the Lord_, 2 Cor.
viii. 5. and exhorts the church to _yield themselves unto God, as those
that were alive from the dead_, Rom. vi. 13. and, to _present their
bodies_, that is, themselves, and not barely the lower or meaner part of
themselves, _a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is
their reasonable service_, chap. xii. 1. and as the result hereof, we
say by faith, Lord, truly I am thy servant, and desire to be so for
ever; work in me what thou requirest, and then command what thou
pleasest: I am entirely at thy disposal, do with me as seemeth good in
thy sight; only let all the dispensations of thy providence be instances
of thy love, and made subservient to my salvation.

This is represented as our solemn act and deed; whereby, with the most
mature deliberation, we make a surrender of ourselves to him: the
prophet speaks of it as though it were done by an instrument or deed of
conveyance; and our consent to be his, is represented by a giving up our
names to him; _One shall say, I am the Lord’s, and another shall call
himself by the name of Jacob; and another shall subscribe with his hand
unto the Lord, and sirname himself by the name of Israel_, Isa. xliv. 5.
This is done with the highest veneration, as an act of religious
worship, and with the greatest humility, as being sensible that we give
him nothing more than his own; that he is not profited hereby, but the
advantage redounds entirely to us. We do it with judgment; as faith
always supposes a conviction of the judgment, it considers those
relations which Christ stands in to his people, and endeavours to behave
itself in conformity thereunto: we are desirous hereby to give up
ourselves to him as a Prophet, to be led and guided by him in the way of
salvation; as a Priest, to give us a right to eternal life, as the
purchase of his blood; as an Advocate to plead our cause; and as a King
to give laws to us, and defend us from the insults of our spiritual
enemies, and advance us to those honours which he has laid up for his
faithful subjects. We give up ourselves to him to worship him in all his
ordinances, in hope of his presence and blessing to attend them, in
order to our spiritual and eternal advantage; and we do all this without
the least reserve or desire to have any will separate from, or contrary
to his.

(3.) Another act of faith consists in a fixed, unshaken trust and
reliance upon him. This, as was before observed, is a very common and
known acceptation of the word _faith_. As we depend on his promise, as a
God that cannot lie, and give up ourselves to him, as one that has a
right to us; so we trust him, as one whom we can safely confide in, and
lay the whole stress of our salvation upon. This act of faith is more
frequently insisted on in scripture than any other, it being a main
ingredient in all other graces that accompany salvation; and there is
nothing by which God is more glorified: it is not one single perfection
of the divine nature that is the object thereof; but every thing which
he has made known concerning himself, as conducive to our blessedness;
we trust him with all we have, and for all that we want or hope for.
This implies in it a sense of our own insufficiency and nothingness, and
of his all-sufficient fulness. The former of these is what is sometimes
styled a soul emptying act of faith; it is that whereby we see ourselves
to be nothing, not only as we cannot be profitable to God, or lay him
under any obligations to us, as those who pretend to merit any good at
his hand, but as unable to perform any good action without his
assistance; in this respect it says, _surely, in the Lord have I
righteousness and strength_, Isa. xlv. 24. and there is nothing tends
more to humble and abase the soul before him than this.

And hereby we are led to another act, which more immediately contains
the formal nature of faith; in which it depends on the all-sufficiency
of God, and his faithfulness to supply our wants, and bestow the
blessings which he has promised: God the Father is the object of this
trust or dependence, as the divine All-sufficiency is glorified, grace
imparted, and the promises thereof fulfilled by him, through a Mediator;
and Christ is the object thereof, as the soul apprehends him to be full
of grace and truth; sees the infinite value of his merit, and his
ability to make good all the promises of the covenant of grace, and
thereby to render him completely blessed. When we trust Christ with all
we have, or hope for, this supposes that there is something valuable
which we either enjoy or expect; and that we are in danger of losing it,
unless it be maintained by him, who has undertaken to _keep_ his people
_by his power through faith unto salvation_, 1 Pet. i. 5. and to perfect
what concerns them. We have souls more valuable than the whole world,
and we _commit the keeping of our souls to him in well-doing as unto a
faithful Creator_, chap. iv. 19. and merciful Redeemer; being assured
that _none shall_ be able to _pluck them out of his hand_, John x. 28.
and we also commit all the graces which he has wrought in us to him, to
maintain and carry on to perfection. And since we are assured, that all
the promises are in his hand, and that he has engaged to make them good
to us, we are encouraged to trust him for all that we expect, namely,
that he will conduct us safely and comfortably through this world, and
at last receive us to glory; and in so doing, we have the highest
satisfaction; or, as the apostle expresses it, _We know whom we have
believed_, or trusted, _and are persuaded that he is able to keep what
we have committed unto him against that day_, 2 Tim. i. 12. or the day
of his second coming, when grace shall be consummate in glory.

These acts of faith are generally styled, by divines, _direct_; in which
we have more immediately to do with Christ, as our great Mediator, or
God the Father in him; and being, properly speaking, acts of religious
worship, the object thereof must be a divine person. But there is
another sense of the word _faith_; which, as it does not contain in it
any act of trust or dependence, as the former does, so it has not God
for its immediate object, as that has; and this is what we call the
_reflex_ act of faith, or the soul’s being persuaded that it believes;
that those acts of faith which have God or Christ for their object, are
true and genuine. This every one cannot conclude at all times, who is
really enabled to put forth those direct acts of faith, that we have
been speaking of; and it is the result of self-examination, accompanied
with the testimony of the Holy Spirit to his own work.

Some indeed have questioned the propriety of the expression, when this
is styled an act of faith; as supposing that nothing can be so called,
but what hath a divine person for its object: but we have before
considered that faith, in a sense different from that in which we have
now explained it, may be conversant about divine things; therefore, as
we may be said, by a direct act of faith, to trust in Christ; we may be
persuaded, by this reflex act, that we do so: and this is more
immediately necessary to assurance, together with that joy and peace
which we are said to have in believing. But this we shall have occasion
to insist on under a following answer.[63]

IV. We are now to consider this grace of faith as that which accompanies
salvation, upon which account it is called a _saving grace_; and also,
that it is wrought in the heart by the power of the Spirit, and by the
instrumentality of the word. We do not suppose that every act of faith
denominates a person to be in a state of salvation; for there is a bare
assent to the truth of divine revelation, that may, in a proper sense,
be styled _faith_; and there may be an external dedication to God, a
professed subjection to him, which falls short of that faith which has
been before described, as it does not proceed from a renewed nature, or
a principle of spiritual life implanted in the soul. There may be a
willingness and a desire to be saved, when the heart is not purified by
faith; a hearing the word with gladness, rejoicing in the light that is
imparted thereby, for a season, and doing many things pursuant
thereunto, in some, who shall not be saved: but faith is often-times
described as referring to and ending in salvation; thus we are said to
_believe to the saving of the soul_, Heb. x. 39. and, to _receive the
end of our faith, even the salvation of our souls_, 1 Pet. i. 9. This
consists, more especially, in those acts of faith, that contain in them
an entire subjection of all the powers and faculties of the soul to
Christ, arising from the views which it has of his glory, and its
experience of his almighty power, which is not only the way to, but the
first fruits of everlasting salvation. This is such a receiving and
resting on Christ for salvation, as has been before described.

And this grace is farther said to be wrought in the heart of a sinner,
by the Spirit. We have before considered effectual calling, as a work of
divine power, and proved, that the Spirit is the author of it;[64] and
that they, who are effectually called, are enabled to accept of, and
embrace the grace offered in the gospel; from whence it is evident, that
faith is the fruit and consequence of our effectual calling; and
therefore it must be a work of the almighty power and grace of the Holy
Spirit. And, this it farther appears to be, from that account which we
have thereof in several scriptures: thus the apostle Peter, describing
those he writes to, as having _obtained like precious faith, through the
righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ_; and also as having
_all things that pertain unto godliness_, in which faith is certainly
included, he ascribes this to the _divine power_, 2 Pet. i. 1. compared
with the 3rd verse. And elsewhere we read _of the exceeding greatness of
the power_ of God exerted _in them that believe_, Eph. i. 19. And when
the work of faith is carried on, or fulfilled in the souls of those in
whom it was begun, it is considered as an effect of the same power, 2
Thess. i. 11. And, as all that grace, which is the effect of divine
power, is ascribed to the Holy Ghost, when he is said hereby, as acting
in subserviency to the Father and Son, to demonstrate his Personal
glory: so the work of faith, in this respect, is represented as his
work; upon which account he is called the _Spirit of faith_, 2 Cor, iv.

But that which we shall more particularly consider is, that this grace
of faith is wrought by the instrumentality of the word. We have before
observed, that the principle of grace, implanted in regeneration, is the
immediate effect of the divine power, without the instrumentality of the
word; but when the Spirit works faith, and all other graces, which
proceed from that principle, then he makes use of the word: thus the
apostle says, _Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God_,
Rom. x. 17. As it is necessary, in order to our seeing any object, that
the eye be rightly disposed and fitted for sight, and the object
presented to it: so there are two things necessary to faith, namely, the
soul’s being changed, renewed, quickened, and so prepared to act this
grace; and the objects being presented to it, about which it is to be
conversant; which latter is done by the word of God: so that the soul is
first internally disposed to receive what God is pleased to reveal
relating to the way of salvation by Jesus Christ before it believes; and
this revelation is contained in the gospel, which is adapted to the
various acts of faith, as before described.

1. As faith implies a coming to Christ, or receiving him; the word of
God reveals him to us as giving an invitation to sinners, encouraging
them thereunto; thus our Saviour says, _If any man thirst, let him come
unto me, and drink_, John vii. 37. And, as a farther inducement to this,
it sets forth the advantages that will attend it, to wit, that he will
not reject them, how unworthy soever they be; as, he says, _Him that
cometh to me, I will in no wise cast out_, John vi. 37. And there are
many other privileges which he will bestow on them, namely, the
blessings of both worlds, grace here, and glory hereafter, all which
contain the very sum and substance of the gospel.

2. If we consider faith as including in it a giving up ourselves to
Christ, to be intirely his; the word of God represents him as having an
undoubted right to all who do so, inasmuch as they are bought with the
price of his blood, given to him as his own, by the Father. And as they
devote themselves to him, to be his servants, it sets before them the
privileges which attend his service, as they are delivered from the
dominion of sin, and a servile fear and dread of his wrath; lets them
know the ease, pleasure, and delight that there is in bearing his yoke,
and the blessed consequences thereof, in that as they _have their fruit
unto holiness, the end thereof shall be life everlasting_, Rom. vi. 22.

3. As faith looks to Christ for forgiveness of sin, in which respect it
is called justifying faith; so the word of God represents him to us, as
having made atonement for sin; as set forth to be a propitiation to
secure us from the guilt which we were liable to, and the condemning
sentence of the law; as bearing the curse, and, as the consequence
thereof, giving us a right to all the privileges of his children. It
also represents this forgiveness as full, free, and irreversible; and
the soul, by faith rejoices in its freedom from condemnation, and that
right and title to eternal life, which is inseparably connected with it.

4. As faith includes in it a trusting or relying on Christ, the gospel
represents him as an all-sufficient Saviour, _able to save to the
uttermost all that come unto God by him_, Heb. vii. 25. and as faith
trusts him for the accomplishment of all the promises, it considers him
as having engaged to make them good, inasmuch as _they are yea and amen
in him, unto the glory of God_, 2 Cor. i. 20. And therefore, he runs no
risque, or is at no uncertainty as to this matter; for Christ’s
Mediatorial glory lies at stake. If there be the least failure in the
accomplishment of any promise; or any blessing made over to his people
in the covenant of grace, which shall not be conferred upon them, he is
content to bear the blame for ever: but this is altogether impossible,
since he that has undertaken to apply the blessings promised, is
faithful and true, as well as the Father that gave them; and this
affords them _strong consolation, who are fled for refuge, to lay hold
on the hope set before them_ in the gospel, Heb. vi. 18. Thus Christ is
set forth; and agreeably to this discovery made of him, faith takes up
its rest in him, and therein finds safety and peace.

V. We shall now consider faith as strong or weak, increasing or
declining, with the various marks and signs thereof. As habits of sin
are stronger or weaker, the same may be said concerning habits of grace.
It is one thing for them to be entirely lost; and another thing to be in
a declining state: their strength and vigour may be much abated, and
their energy frequently interrupted; nevertheless God will maintain the
principle of grace, as we shall endeavour to prove under a following
answer.[65] Grace is not always equally strong and lively; the prophet
supposes it to be a declining, when he says, _Revive thy work, O Lord,
in the midst of the years_, Heb. iii. 2. and our Saviour’s advice to the
church at Sardis, implies as much, when he exhorts them _to strengthen
the things which remain, that are ready to die_, Rev. iii. 2. and when
he bids the church at Ephesus to _remember from whence they were fallen,
and repent and do their first works_, chap. ii. 5. Some are said, as
Abraham, to be _strong in faith, giving glory to God_, Rom. iv. 20. and
others are reproved, as our Saviour does his disciples, at some times,
when he says, _O ye of little faith_, Matt. vi. 30. As our natural
constitution is not always equally healthy and vigorous, nor our
condition in the world equally prosperous, the same may be said
concerning the habits of grace; sometimes they are strong, and then, as
the apostle says concerning his beloved Gaius, 3 John ver. 2. _the soul
prospereth_, and we _go from strength to strength_, Psal. lxxxiv. 7.
from one degree of grace to another; but, at other times, we are ready
to _faint in the day of adversity_, and our _strength is small_, Prov.
xxiv. 10. This cannot but be observed by all who are not strangers to
themselves, or who take notice of the various frame of spirit, which are
visible in those whom they converse with.

But if it be enquired; by what marks or evidences we may discern the
strength or weakness of faith? though this will more evidently appear
from what will be said under a following answer,[66] when we are led to
speak concerning the reason of the imperfection of sanctification in
believers; yet we shall not wholly pass it over in this place; and
therefore, it may be observed, that the strength or weakness of faith,
is to be judged of by that degree of esteem and value which the soul has
for Christ, and the steadiness, or abatement of its dependence on him.
The greater diffidence or distrust we have of self, and the more we see
of our own emptiness and nothingness, the stronger is our faith; on the
other hand, self-confidence, or relying on our own strength is a certain
sign of the weakness thereof.

Again, strong faith is that which carries the soul through difficult
duties; as the apostle says, _I can do all things through Christ which
strengtheneth me_, Phil. iv. 13. Whereas weak faith is ready to sink
under the discouragements that it meets with; the former is _stedfast,
unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord_, 1 Cor. xv. 58.
the latter is like a reed shaken with the wind. Strong faith, as it is
said of Job, Job i. 21. blesses God when he strips him of all earthly
enjoyments, and rejoices that the soul is _counted worthy to suffer
shame for his name_, Acts v. 41. and this carries him above those fears
which have a tendency to deject and dishearten him: _He shall not be
afraid of evil tidings, his heart is fixed, trusting in the Lord_, Psal.
cxii. 7. Whereas, weak faith is borne down, with discouragements; he
finds it hard to hold on in the performance of his duty, and sees
mountains of difficulties in his way; whereby the soul is ready to
conclude, that he shall not be able to get safely to his journey’s end.
He does not rightly improve the consideration of the almighty power of
God, and his faithfulness to his promise, in which he has engaged, that
_the righteous shall hold on his way; and he that hath clean hands shall
wax stronger and stronger_, Job xvii. 9. And when we sustain losses and
disappointments in the world, or things go contrary to our expectation,
then we are ready to say with the Psalmist, _Hath God forgotten to be
gracious? hath he, in anger, shut up his tender mercies?_ Psal. lxxvii.
9. and sometimes conclude, that we have no interest in the love of God,
because the dispensations of his providence are afflictive, and fill us
with great uneasiness. In this case fear looks upon every adverse
providence, as it were, through a magnifying glass, and apprehends this
to be but the beginning of sorrows; for it cannot say with the prophet,
_I will trust and not be afraid_, chap. xii. 2. _for in the Lord Jehovah
is everlasting strength_, chap. xxvii. 4.

Moreover, the strength or weakness of faith may farther be discerned by
our enjoying, or being destitute of communion with God; our conversing
with him in ordinances, or being deprived of this privilege. We may
conclude our faith to be strong, when we can say as the apostle does,
_Our conversation is in heaven_, or we live above: but when, on the
other hand, we have too great an anxiety or solicitude about earthly
things, and an immoderate love to this present world, this argues the
weakness thereof. The difference between these two may also be
discerned, by the frame of our spirit in prayer. When faith is strong,
the soul has a great degree of boldness or liberty of access to the
throne of grace; a greater measure of importunity and fervency,
accompanied with an expectation of the blessings prayed for, by a secret
and powerful intimation from the Spirit, as a Spirit of grace and
supplication; from whence it infers, that he that excites this grace
will encourage it, as he _says not to the seed of Jacob, seek ye me in
vain_, chap. xlv. 19.

We might also add, in the last place, that strong faith may likewise be
discerned, when it is accompanied with an assurance of an interest in
Christ’s righteousness, and our right and title to eternal life founded
thereon, or that God will guide us by his counsel, and afterwards
receive us to glory, and a persuasion wrought in the soul by the Spirit,
that nothing shall separate us from his love: whereas weak faith is
attended with many doubts concerning our interest in Christ; sometimes
fearing that our former hope was no other than a delusion, our present
experiences not real, the ground we stand on sinks under us; and we are
ready to conclude, that we shall one day fall by the hands of our
spiritual enemies. When I speak of these doubts and fears, as an
instance of weak faith, I do not say that they are ingredients in faith;
for they are rather to be considered as a burden and incumbrance that
attends it, so that though there be some good thing in us towards the
Lord our God, or a small degree of faith, like a grain of mustard seed,
these doubts proceed from the weakness thereof, as opposed to that which
is strong, and would denote the soul to be in a happy and flourishing
condition; which leads us,

VI. To speak concerning the use of faith in the whole conduct of our
lives; as every thing that we do in an acceptable manner, is said to be
done by it. It is one thing occasionally to put forth some acts of
faith, and another thing to live by faith; which, as it is the most
noble and excellent life, so nothing short of it can, properly speaking,
be called a good life, how much soever many are styled good livers, who
are wholly strangers to this grace. The apostle Paul speaks of this way
of living, and considers it as exemplified in himself, when he says,
_The life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son
of God_, Gal. ii. 20. He speaks of it as his constant work, or that
which ran through the whole business of life. Whether we are engaged in
civil or religious duties, they are all to be performed by faith. Here
we shall consider the life of faith;

1. As it discovers itself in all the common actions of life; in these we
act as men: but that faith, which is the principal ingredient in them,
and their chief ornament, denotes us to walk as Christians; and this we
are said to do,

(1.) When we receive every outward mercy, as the purchase of the blood
of Christ, as well as the gift of his grace; and consider it as a
blessing bestowed by a covenant-God, who, together with outward things,
is pleased to give himself to us; which infinitely enhances the value of
the blessing, and induces us to receive it with a proportionable degree
of thankfulness.

(2.) When we set loose from all the enjoyments of this world, not taking
up our rest in them, as though they were our portion or chief good; and
therefore, the esteem and value we have for them is very much below that
which we have for things divine and heavenly. When we use them to the
glory of God; and account the best outward enjoyments nothing, if
compared with Christ; as the apostle says, _I count all things but loss
for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ, and do count them but
dung, that I may win Christ_, Phil. iii. 8. This act of faith will quiet
our spirits under afflictions, and induce us to submit to the disposing
providence of God; when our best outward enjoyments are removed, or we
called to suffer the loss of all things for Christ’s sake, or by his
sovereign will.

(3.) When all the success which we hope for in our secular employments,
is considered as an instance of that care which Christ takes of his
people, in which he over-rules and orders all things for his own glory,
and their welfare; and therefore, we are persuaded that he will cause
whatever we take in hand, to prosper, provided he sees that it is best
for us; and if not, we are disposed to acquiesce in his will. This is
such an instance of faith as will put us upon doing every thing in the
name and to the glory of Christ, and fortify us against any
disappointment that may attend our expectation, in every employment
wherein we are engaged.

(4.) When outward blessings, instead of proving a snare and temptation,
to draw off our hearts from Christ, are a means to bring us nearer to
him, so that if our circumstances are easy and comfortable in the world,
and we have more frequent opportunities offered to us, to engage in
religious duties than others, we are accordingly inclined to embrace
them; and when every thing we enjoy, as an instance of distinguishing
favour from God, above what many in the world do, excites in us a due
sense of gratitude, and an earnest desire and endeavour to use the world
to his glory.

(5.) When adverse providences, which sometimes have a tendency to drive
the soul from Christ, and occasion repining thoughts, as though the
divine distributions were not equal, are made of use to bring us nearer
to him, so that whatever we lose in the creature, we look for, and
endeavour to find in him. And when, with a submissive spirit, we can
say, that he does all things well for us, as we hope and trust that he
will make even those things that run counter to our secular interests,
subservient to our eternal welfare; and as the result hereof, endeavour
to keep up a becoming frame of spirit, in such a condition of life, as
has in itself a tendency to cast down the soul and fill it with great

(6.) When we devote and consecrate all we have in the world to God,
considering, that as we are not our own but his; so all we have is his;
and when hereupon we are endowed with a public spirit, desirous to
approve ourselves blessings to mankind in general, to the utmost of our
power; and when we have done all, not only say with David, _Of thine own
we have given thee_, 1 Chron. xxix. 14. but as our Saviour taught his
disciples to say, _We are unprofitable servants_.

(7.) The life of faith discovers itself in the government of our
affections, namely, as they are kept within due bounds, set upon right
objects, and rendered subservient to promote Christ’s glory and
interest. Hereby are we prevented from setting our affections
immoderately on things of this world, when faith shews us that there are
far better things to draw them forth, which deserve our highest love: it
also prevents our being worldly and carnal, as though we were swallowed
up with the things of sense, and had nothing else to mind, and religion
were only to be occasionally engaged in; or, as though an holy, humble,
self-denying frame of spirit were inconsistent with worldly business.
Faith suggests the contrary; puts us upon making religion our great
business, and engaging in secular affairs, rather as a necessary
avocation from it, than that which is the chief end of living. It also
puts us upon glorifying Christ in our secular concerns, as we manage
them in such a way as he ordains; and hereby the soul is kept in a
spiritual frame, while abiding with God in the calling whereunto he is
called. This we attribute more especially to the grace of faith, not
only as it is connected with, and (as will be observed under our next
head) excites other graces; but as it has its eye constantly fixed on
Christ as its object, and by this steers its course, and takes an
estimate of the valuableness and importance of all the affairs of this
life, by their subserviency to our salvation, and the advancement of his
glory therein.

2. Faith discovers itself in the performance of all religious duties,
and the exercise of all other graces therein. Thus we read of the prayer
of faith, whereby a soul hath access to God as a father, in the name of
Christ; firmly relies on the promises which are established in him, and
has a liberty to plead with him, and hope of acceptance in his sight.
Moreover, when we wait on God to hear what he has to impart to us in his
word, faith having experienced some degree of communion with him
already, and had some displays of his love, puts the soul upon desiring
more, as the Psalmist says, _My soul thirsteth for thee; my flesh
longeth for thee, to see thy power and thy glory, so as I have seen thee
in the sanctuary_, Psal. lxiii. 1, 2. And whatever other ordinances of
divine appointment, we are engaged in, we are hereby encouraged to hope
for his presence, and draw nigh unto him herein, with a reverential fear
and delight, in him: and it puts us upon the exercise of those graces
which are necessary for the right performance of gospel worship in

These are not only joined with it, but may be said to be excited
thereby; so that faith is, as it were, the principal of all other
graces. Thus when the heart is drawn forth in love to Christ, it may be
said, that _faith worketh by love_, Gal. v. 6. and when this love is
accompanied with _joy unspeakable and full of glory_; this we have in a
way of believing, and that which tends to excite the grace of love, is
the view that faith takes of Christ’s mediatorial glory and
excellencies, and the obligations we are under to love him, from his
grace of love to us; and this is a strong motive, inducing us to express
our love to him, by universal obedience, which is called, _the obedience
of faith_, Rom. xvi. 26.

When we exercise the grace of repentance, and thereby hate and turn from
all sin, and are, in a peculiar manner, sensible, as we ought to be, of
the sin of unbelief; it is faith that gives us this sense thereof, as it
is best able to see its own defects. When we confess sin, or humble
ourselves before God for it, faith views it not only as a violation of
the divine law, but as an instance of the highest ingratitude; and when
we desire, in the exercise of repentance, to forsake sin, faith makes us
sensible of our own weakness, and puts us upon a firm and stedfast
dependence on Christ, to enable us thereunto; and when, in the exercise
of this grace, our consciences are burdened with a sense of guilt and
unbelief is ready to suggest, that our sins are so heinously aggravated,
that there is no room to hope for pardoning mercy, faith relieves us
against these despairing thoughts, and encourages us to wait for the
mercy of God, who will _abundantly pardon_, Isa. lv. 7. and with whom
there is _forgiveness, that he may be feared_, Psal. cxxx. 4.

And when we use endeavours to mortify sin, this is to be done by a
fiducial view of Christ crucified; and when we encourage ourselves to
hope that the indictment brought against us for it, was nailed to the
cross of Christ; and that there is _no condemnation to us_, as being in
him, Rom. viii. 1. and that, as the apostle says, _Our old man is
crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed: that
henceforth we should no longer serve sin_, chap. vi. 6. all this is to
be done by faith.

We might also observe, that the grace of patience is connected with, and
we excited, thereunto by faith. The apostle, Heb. vi. 12. joins both
these together, as supposing that faith affords a motive to patience;
and elsewhere we read, not only of what faith enables us to do, but
bear, in the account which we have, of the great things which the Old
Testament saints did, and suffered by this grace: and therefore,
whatever graces are exercised under the afflictions of this present
life; faith excites in us a resignation to the will of God, and consider
them as the chastisements of a merciful Father, and as _bringing forth
the peaceful fruit of righteousness unto them that are exercised
thereby_, chap. xii. 11. and we are encouraged to bear them with such a
composed frame of spirit that they seem light, and not worthy to be
compared with the glory that shall be revealed. This, faith has
constantly in view, setting one against the other; whereby that which
would otherwise be an hindrance to us in our way, is improved, by us, to
our spiritual advantage; and we enabled, not only to go on safely, but
comfortably, till we arrive at the full fruition of what we now behold
at a distance, and rejoice in the fiducial expectation thereof: which
leads us to the last thing proposed to be considered, concerning faith,

VII. How it is to be attained or increased, and what are the means
conducive thereunto. Though faith, in common with all other graces, be
wrought in us by the power of God, yet we are far from asserting, that
there is no duty incumbent on us, in the performing whereof, we are to
hope and wait for the divine blessing, upon which all the success
thereof depends. To deny this would give just occasion to charge the
doctrine of efficacious grace, as though it led to security, or
licentiousness; which many do without ground. Though grace and duty are
very distinct, yet they are not inconsistent with each other; the former
is God’s work, the latter our act.

As for those duties which are required of us, considered as expecting
the divine grace and blessing to attend them; these are, a diligent
waiting on God in all his ordinances; looking into the state of our
souls, by impartial self-examination; calling to mind our past
miscarriages, and what matter of humiliation we have for them in the
sight of God, as also, our natural aversion and inability to do what is
good; our need of Christ’s righteousness, to take away the guilt we have
contracted, and of his strength, to subdue our corruptions, and enable
us to plead earnestly with him for these privileges.

As for the unregenerate, they must pray and wait on him, for the first
grace, and say, with Ephraim, _Turn thou me, and I shall be turned_,
Jer. xxxi. 18. They must be earnest with him, that he would bestow upon
them the grace of faith; which is styled, his gift; that he would remove
every thing that is, at present, an obstacle, or hindrance to this
grace, all the prejudices which corrupt nature has entertained against
Christ, and the way of salvation by him; and that he would shine into
their souls, to give them the knowledge of his glory in the face of
Christ; reveal his arm, and incline them, by the internal working of his
power, to receive the grace which is held forth in the gospel. These are
duties incumbent on persons who are not called effectually, being
destitute of regenerating grace.

But, on the other hand, they who have ground to conclude that they have
experienced this grace, though, at present, they apprehend that their
faith is weak, and on the decline; they must be found waiting on God, in
his own way; and be importunate with him in prayer for the revival of
his work, that so they may recover their former experiences; they must
bless him for the privileges they once enjoyed, and be humbled for their
past backslidings, whereby they have provoked him to withdraw from them,
and say with the church, _I will go and return to my first husband; for
then was it better with me than now_, Hos. ii. 7. and, as it says
elsewhere, _Take away all iniquity, and receive us graciously; so will
we render the calves of our lips_, chap. xiv. 2. They must lament the
dishonour that they have brought to God; and consider how, by this
means, they have grieved the Holy Spirit, wounded their own consciences,
and made work for a bitter repentance and humiliation before God. They
must be sensible, that it is the same hand which wrought grace in them
at first, that must now recover them from their fallen state, and, by
exciting the principle of grace implanted, bring them into a lively
frame; and when he has done this, they must still depend upon him to
maintain this frame of spirit, as considering that as the beginning so
the progress of grace, is owing to him who is the author and finisher of
faith; who worketh in us that which is pleasing in his sight, and
carries on his own work unto perfection.

Footnote 49:

  That faith is a holy duty is evident, because it never obtains, except
  where the bent, or bias of the mind has been changed by the Holy
  Spirit; yet it is like all the other works of man, imperfect, and
  might be stronger. That it is necessary in every action is clear, for
  whatsoever is not of faith is sin; both because it is the work of an
  enemy, and because it cannot be accepted, having no reference to
  Christ. Faith is always accompanied by other holy traits of character,
  as repentance, love, patience, humility, and the like. The reason of
  which is evident; for faith is an act of the renewed man, and all the
  other graces must accompany. But it is even less holy than love; “now
  abideth faith, hope, charity, (love)—the greatest of these is
  charity.” It is incapable of procuring by its righteousness our
  justification, because imperfect. If it were the holiness of the duty
  of faith, which justifies the man before God, we should read of a
  justification by love, patience, humility, or holiness in general. No
  such declaration occurs in the scriptures, but the reverse; “for by
  the deeds of the law shall no flesh be justified,” which is manifestly
  spoken not merely of the corporal energy, but of the action taken with
  the intention.

  If the righteousness of the duty of faith justifies, there could be no
  propriety in saying that we are “justified by Christ,” or his
  righteousness; there would have been no need of a Saviour, and all the
  sacrifices of former days were useless.

  If we are to depend upon the righteousness of our believing for our
  justification, the believing in Christ will be of no importance,
  because Christ is then not our Saviour; in proportion as our hopes are
  founded upon our own holiness, they are withdrawn from Christ.—This
  will also destroy the righteousness of faith, for if it be useless
  there can be no holiness in believing.

  If the holiness consist not in the act of believing, but in the
  disposition of the believer, and if it is for this, that he is
  justified; salvation is then a debt, not grace; we have whereof to
  boast; we are justified by the deeds of the law; the offence of the
  cross has ceased; and Arians, Socinians, Unitarians, and Deists are
  seeking justification also in the same way.

  That repentance, and holiness are necessary to _salvation_ is true,
  because every man who is justified is also sanctified; and that faith,
  considered as a holy duty, is necessary in the same manner, is equally
  true; but faith is also useful in our _justification_, and in a
  manner, in which, it does not appear, that repentance and holiness can

  To say that they are conditions of salvation is to speak ambiguously;
  that we cannot be saved without them, is as certain as that we cannot
  be justified, without being also sanctified; but to say, that by
  performing them a title to happiness is vested in us, is to rob Christ
  of his glory, and to put the crown on man’s head. Besides, the
  condition of holiness is not accomplished till death, and as the
  condition of our justification is not performed till then, we are
  never justified in life, which is plainly contrary to the scriptures.

Footnote 50:

  _This is what is generally styled, by a diminutive word_, Acceptilatio
  gratiosa, _which is an accepting a small part of a debt, instead of
  the whole; a sort of composition, in which, though the payment be
  inconsiderable, yet the debtor’s discharge is founded thereon, by an
  act of favour in the creditor, as though the whole sum had been paid._

Footnote 51:

  _These works they speak of as_ Tincta sanguine Christi.

Footnote 52:

  “Abraham believed God and it was imputed or counted to him for
  righteousness.” This passage of Scripture is found with little
  variation also in the Epistle to the Galatians (iii. 6.) and in the
  Epistle of James (ii. 23.) and in each of the places it seems to have
  been introduced in support of its context from the first book of
  Moses. (xv. 6.)

  Moses is giving at that place a visionary (as we suppose)
  correspondence between Jehovah and Abraham; in which the Lord promises
  to the patriarch to be his “shield and exceeding great reward,” and
  upon Abraham’s complaining that he was childless, his attention is
  directed to the stars, and he is told that it will be equally
  impracticable to number his posterity, and then follow the words
  “Abraham believed _in_[53] the Lord, and he counted it to him for

  Here it is given as an old-testament proof of that which has been a
  little before asserted “that a man is justified by faith without the
  deeds of the law,” but because this doctrine would seem to make void
  the law, the apostle states this objection, then denies it with
  abhorrence, and introduces for his support Abraham’s justification
  before God, “if Abraham were justified by works he hath whereof to
  glory, but not before God; for what saith the scriptures? Abraham
  believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.”

  In the letter to the christians of Galatia he aims to bring them back
  from depending on their obedience to the moral and ceremonial laws, to
  a reliance upon Christ for salvation, he declares that “by the works
  of the law no flesh shall be justified” in the sight of God; and that
  christians are “dead to the law,” “seek to be justified by Christ,”
  and “live by the faith of the Son of God.” He asserts “if
  righteousness come by the law then Christ is dead in vain.” He charges
  the Galatians with folly. After having heard, seen, and experienced
  the doctrines of the Gospel, its extraordinary and ordinary spiritual
  powers, to go back to dead works would argue something like
  fascination. And then to show that the Gospel mode of justification by
  faith was not peculiar to the Gospel he quotes from the book of
  Genesis these words; “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to
  him for righteousness.”

  The apostle James reprehends such as profess to be believers and yet
  are not careful to maintain good works; such professions of faith are
  less credible than the fruits of holiness; “show _me_ thy faith
  without thy works, and I will show _thee_ my faith by my works.” Faith
  without works he pronounces to be dead, not merely inoperative, but
  destitute of a living principle. He then introduces Abraham’s example
  of offering up Isaac as a proof of his faith; this work being a
  manifest effect of his faith in God, justifies, in the sight of all
  men, his character as a believer, “and the scripture” he says “was
  _fulfilled_ which saith Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto
  him for righteousness.” The offering up of Isaac, having taken place
  several years after it had been said that “Abraham believed God,” was
  an undeniable evidence of the truth, and a fulfilment, of that

  Abraham’s faith here mentioned has been understood as implying both
  the act of believing God’s promises and his yielding to the call of
  God by emigrating, &c.[54] which faith, and its fruits, though an
  imperfect righteousness, was, it is alleged, by the favour of God
  accepted as a justifying righteousness.

  But the apostle here contrasts faith with works, and denies a
  justification before God to be attainable by our obedience,
  consequently his introduction of Abraham’s justification by his good
  deeds would have destroyed his own argument.

  Others[55] understand Abraham to have been justified on the account of
  the mere act of believing: and this has been confined to his faith in
  the one promise of a numerous posterity.

  That the Lord[56] “in judging Abraham will place on one side of the
  account his duties, and on the other his _performances_, and on the
  side of his performances he will place _his faith_, and by mere favour
  value it equal to a complete performance of his duty, and reward him
  as if he were a perfectly righteous person.”

  Faith is the mind’s assent to external evidence; faith thus strictly
  considered as an act, is man’s act, as much so as any can be, and as
  the understanding at least in its application to the evidence must be
  accompanied by the consent of the will, here is every thing that is
  necessary to constitute a work, and accordingly it is commanded as a
  duty, the neglect of which is criminal. If it be thus that faith
  justifies the believer in the sight of God, then there is no propriety
  in saying we are not justified by works, and if it were possible still
  less in adducing the example of Abraham’s justification by that which
  was no more than a duty to prove that we cannot be justified by works,
  “Christ being the end of the law for righteousness to every one who
  believeth.” If man can be so justified boasting is not excluded he has
  whereof to glory.

  But the design of the apostle was to show that Abraham himself one of
  the holiest of men with all his good deeds, and implicit obedience to
  divine commands was not justified for his own holiness or godliness,
  for that is the opinion he is combating, but by what he calls faith.
  When the things which we are required to believe are of a spiritual
  nature, the “carnal mind” requires to be freed from its prejudices
  before it will “receive them,” and because supernatural aid is
  necessary to such minds and all naturally possess them, such “faith”
  must unquestionably be “the gift of God” in a sense higher than that
  of every other species of faith exercised under the support of Divine
  Providence. If faith is a gift of God it merits nothing for us, can
  never create an obligation on Divine justice for remuneration, and so
  can never be a _justifying_ righteousness.

  In his epistle to the Galatians that which he terms a being “justified
  by faith” he also denominates a being “justified by faith in Christ”
  so that his justifying faith is not merely a belief of the truth of
  what God has spoken, but is connected in some manner with Christ, and
  that it is not the mere act of believing in Christ which is the ground
  of such justification is plain from this, that he expresses the same
  thing by the words, “being justified by Christ.” If it is true that we
  are justified by faith, and also justified by Christ, it must be meant
  in different senses, and to give effect to these words thus
  differently connected, it seems necessary to suppose the righteousness
  of Christ as the meritorious cause or ground of justification, and
  faith the instrumental. “To as many as received him to them gave he
  power to become the sons of God, even to as many as believed on his
  name,” or at least as the concomitant of it, where all other
  requisites exist as well as grace for its production.

  It is not the _holiness of his faith_ that is accounted for
  righteousness to him: faith is a holy duty but not more so than some
  others, and not so much so as love, “now abide faith, hope, love, and
  the greatest of these is love;” nor are christians ever said to be
  justified by love, joy, peace, patience, or by any other grace, except
  by faith. From whence it follows that it is not the holiness of faith
  for which the believer is justified, and yet that there is some
  property not common to any other grace or duty, which must be
  concerned in our justification; and no doubt it is because faith lays
  hold on him for whose sake alone we can be justified.

  Or faith may be put for its object, as the words fear, hope, joy, and
  love are; God is our fear, our hope, &c. “Thy faith hath saved thee,”
  it was not her faith, but its object, Christ’s power, that healed her.

  The seed which was promised embraced Christ, whose day Abraham saw
  afar off; so this faith had the Redeemer for its object. In the
  epistle to the Galatians there follow the quotation these words, “as
  many as are of faith are the children of Abraham,” these are called
  his spiritual seed, and believe in Christ, now if all who believe in
  Christ are thereby the children of Abraham, and Abraham their father
  or pattern of faith, his faith must have been of the same kind. There
  could have been little propriety in giving a faith of any other kind
  as a pattern to those who are to believe in Christ that they may be
  “justified by his blood.”

Footnote 53:

  The quotations of Paul and James follow the lxx. in omitting the _in_.

Footnote 54:


Footnote 55:

  Whitby. Macknight.

Footnote 56:


Footnote 57:

  _This opinion was propagated soon after the reformation, by Andr.
  Osiander, who lived a little before the middle of the sixteenth

Footnote 58:

  _This opinion was propagated soon after by Stancarus, in opposition to
  Osiander, whom Du Pin reckons amongst the Socinians, or, at least,
  that after he had advanced this notion, he denied the doctrine of the
  Trinity._ [_See Du Pin’s eccl. hist. sixteenth century, book_ iv.
  _chap._ 6.]

Footnote 59:

  _This is commonly called_ fiducia, _and as such, distinguished from_
  fides, _by which the former is generally expressed._

Footnote 60:

  _In this respect_ faith _is contra-distinguished from_ science;
  _accordingly we are said to know a thing that is contained in an
  axiom, that no one, who has the exercise of his understanding, can
  doubt of_, viz. _that the whole is greater than the part; or, that a
  thing cannot be, and not be at the same time, &c. And every thing that
  is founded on a mathematical demonstration, is included in the word_
  science; _to which we may add occular demonstration. Now these things
  are not properly the object of faith, or the assent we give to the
  truth hereof, is not founded barely upon evidence, in which respect
  faith is distinguished from it; for which reason we call it an assent
  to a truth, founded on evidence._

Footnote 61:

  Truth in the abstract is not the object of faith, but that which is
  true. The word of God when represented as the object of faith is not
  to be understood of words and letters, nor even of axioms and
  propositions, nor is the Divine veracity, though certainly confided
  in, the object of faith, or that which is assented unto. The promises
  which the old testament-believers had, and reposed in, were not the
  objects of faith, but the things which they saw afar off, and which
  were the ground of their rejoicing. When we are required to believe
  _on_ Jesus Christ, it is not his human, not his Divine nature, not his
  person, nor even his mediatorial character which is the object of our
  faith; for any of these alone could be no ground of confidence of
  salvation, or hope, much less produce joy in the believer. Every thing
  essential to our salvation must be considered, as the object of our
  faith; the mercy of God, the love of Christ, the purpose and the act
  of offering, and accepting the sacrifice to Justice of our sins, and
  the warrant to us to fix our hope and trust in this atonement; the
  firm conviction of the truth of these things may be denominated faith.

  Yet this conviction, or free assent of the understanding is not the
  faith, which accompanies salvation; if we can suppose it possible,
  that there should not be a corresponding impression made upon the will
  and affections. _With the heart man believeth unto salvation._ In this
  expression the heart is not put for the intellectual, but moral
  powers, and must not be understood as if the will assumed the office,
  peculiar to the understanding, of judging of evidence; but only that
  the assent of the understanding must be of such a kind, and to such a
  degree, as to produce a decisive co-operation of all the powers of the
  man, both of soul and body, to be saved in the way, and by the means

  Such an effort for salvation supposes the bent, or bias of the mind to
  be inclined towards God, and his glory. And certain it is, that the
  work, or act of believing, depends so much upon the moral state of the
  man, that although he may assent to every article of faith, and desire
  an interest in the advantages of religion, he never believes with the
  heart in the sense above mentioned, until this charge has been wrought
  in him. On this account faith may well be denominated the work or gift
  of God, for he only, according to the scriptures can effect this

  Yet it is not because there is any defect in the evidence of these
  important truths; nor because of any natural, that is physical, defect
  of the intellectual powers of man, that he does not believe the Divine
  revelation; but because his affections are pre-occupied, and his
  inclinations directed into another channel, whereby he is unwilling to
  apply himself unto these truths, and is prejudiced against the
  holiness, which is required, and the self denial that is necessary to
  attain the blessings of salvation.

Footnote 62:

  Faith, according to the beloved disciple John, and the great St. Paul,
  is the _belief of the truth_; the _believing that Jesus is the
  Christ_; or a giving _credit to the record that God gave of his Son_.
  These definitions are all of the same import, and are all divine.
  Being dictated by the Spirit of God, they cannot be contradicted by
  any, although some have glossed upon them, till they have brought in a
  sense diverse from the inspired writers. This faith, when it is
  _real_, as distinguished from that uninfluential assent to the gospel,
  which crowds, who hear it, profess to have, is an effect of the
  _divine influence in us_; hence it is said to be _of the operation of
  God_; and that it is _with the heart_ man believeth unto
  righteousness. As the righteousness by which the sinner is justified,
  is the sole work of Christ _for him_, so this is the work of the Holy
  Ghost _in him_, and no less necessary in its proper place; it being
  that, without which a sinner cannot apprehend, receive, and rest upon
  Christ for eternal life. By faith, as before observed, he becomes
  acquainted with the glories of the character of Jesus, the fulness of
  grace in him, and the suitableness and perfection of his
  righteousness; in consequence of this faith, he admires the Saviour’s
  personal excellencies, flies to him, ventures all upon him, and
  rejoices in him. These, to speak plainly, are all so many effects of
  faith. The sinner must have a view of the Saviour’s excellency,
  _before_ he will admire it. He must be persuaded, that Christ is the
  only safe refuge, _before_ he will _fly_ to him. He must know that
  there is in Christ sufficient matter of consolation, _before_ he will
  _rejoice_ in him. Of all these he is entirely satisfied _by faith_ in
  the testimony of God: subsequent to which is his _coming_, or _flying_
  to him, _trusting_ in, or _venturing_ all upon him, _rejoicing_ in
  him, &c. e. g. Joseph’s brethren heard that there was corn enough in
  Egypt; they believed the report: this was faith; upon this they went
  down for a supply. Doubtless this was an _effect_ of their faith; for
  had they not believed the tidings, they would never have gone. So a
  sinner must _believe_ that Christ is a full and complete Saviour,
  _before_ he will _run_ or _fly_ to him. Sense of misery, and faith in
  his sufficiency, are the main stimulus. Or, I am sick, I hear of an
  able physician, I believe him to be so, upon which I apply to him: my
  _application_ to him, and my _belief_ of his character, are as
  distinct as any two things can be: my _trusting_ my life in his hands,
  is an effect of my _believing_ him to be an able physician. This
  distinction is obvious in the sacred writings, as well as in the
  nature of things. _He that_ cometh _to God, must_ believe _that he
  is_. Here is a manifest distinction between _coming_ and _believing_.

  I apprehend that the same distinction should be observed, between
  _believing_ in Christ, and _receiving_ him. If so, it will follow,
  that “to receive Christ in all his offices, as a prophet, a priest,
  and a king,” is not properly _faith_, but an _effect_ of it, and
  inseparably connected with it. It is certain that a man must believe
  that Jesus is the Christ, and that he sustains these offices, before
  he can or will receive him in this light. Christ _came unto his own_
  (meaning the Jews) _but his own received him not_. This refusing to
  _receive_ him was not unbelief, but an effect of it. Hence should you
  be asked, why they did not receive him? The answer is ready, _because_
  they did not believe him to be the Christ. Nothing is more plain than
  that unbelief was the grand _cause_ why they rejected him. On the
  other hand, nothing is more evident, than that _receiving_ Christ, is
  an effect of _believing_ in him. And should you ask the man who
  defines faith, “a receiving Christ in all his offices,” why he thus
  receives him? he himself will be obliged to observe this distinction;
  for the only just answer he can give you is, “_because I believe_ he
  sustains them.”

  Thus we see that faith is entirely distinct from the righteousness
  which justifies; at the same time it is indispensably necessary,
  answering great and good purposes. Under its influence the sinner
  _flies_ to Jesus, the hope set before him, and trusts his immortal
  interest in his hands, being perfectly satisfied with his adorable
  character. Faith is also the medium of peace and consolation. You may
  with equal propriety attempt to separate light and heat from the sun,
  as peace of conscience, and joy in the Holy Ghost, _from the faith of
  God’s elect_. The degree of Christian consolation may be greater or
  less, according to the strength and influence of faith. At one time
  the believer may have an inward peace and tranquility, which is
  exceedingly agreeable. At another time he may be favoured with what
  St. Paul calls _joy unspeakable and full of glory_. At another, guilt
  may rob him of his comfort, and separate between him and his God. Such
  are his exercises in the present state of things. But he is far from
  making a righteousness of his _frames_, _feelings_, or _experiences_.
  The distinction between these he well understands. The _righteousness_
  by which he expects to be justified, is the work of Christ alone; the
  _faith_ by which he is enabled to receive it, is _of the operation of
  God_; the consolations that he enjoys are from this glorious Christ,
  in believing, or through faith: all as different as A, B, and C. His
  dependence for acceptance with God is neither on his faith nor
  experiences, but on Christ _alone_. At the same time he cannot
  conceive it possible, for a poor, wretched, undone sinner to be
  enabled to believe in Christ for eternal life, and not _rejoice_. A
  view of the glories of his person, and the fulness and freeness of his
  grace, cannot fail of introducing _strong consolation_.


Footnote 63:

  _See Quest._ lxxx.

Footnote 64:

  _See page 39, ante._

Footnote 65:

  _See Quest._ lxxix.

Footnote 66:

  _See Quest._ lxxviii.

                             Quest. LXXIV.

    QUEST. LXXIV. _What is adoption?_

    ANSW. Adoption is an act of the free grace of God, in and for his
    only Son Jesus Christ; whereby all those that are justified, are
    received into the number of his children, have his name put upon
    them, the Spirit of his Son given to them, are under his fatherly
    care and dispensations, admitted to all the liberties and privileges
    of the sons of God, made heirs of all the promises, and fellow-heirs
    with Christ in glory.

In speaking to this answer we shall consider,

I. The various senses in which persons are the sons of God; and
particularly, how they are so called by adoption.

II. The difference between adoption as used by men, and as it is applied
in this answer to God’s taking persons into this relation, as his
children; from whence it will appear to be an act of his free grace.

III. We shall consider the reference the sonship of believers has to the
superior and more glorious Sonship of Jesus Christ; and how it is said
to be for his sake.

IV. The privileges conferred on, or reserved for them, who are the sons
of God by adoption.

I. We shall consider the various senses in which persons are called the
sons of God.

1. Some are called the sons of God, as they are invested with many
honours or prerogatives from God, as a branch of his image: thus
magistrates are called the _children of the Most High_, Psal. lxxxii. 6.

2. Others are called God’s children, by an external federal relation, as
members of the visible church; in which sense we are to understand that
scripture; wherein it is said, _The sons of God saw the daughters of
men_, &c. Gen. vi. 2. And when Moses went into Pharaoh, to demand
liberty for the Israelites, he was ordered to say, _Israel is my son,
even my first-born_, Exod. iv. 22. This privilege, though it be high and
honourable, by which the church is distinguished from the world; yet it
is not inseparably connected with salvation; for God says, concerning
Israel, when revolting, and backsliding from him, _I have nourished and
brought up children; and they have rebelled against me_, Isa. i. 2. and
many of those who are called the _children of the kingdom shall be cast
into utter darkness, where shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth_,
Matt. viii. 12.

3. The word is sometimes taken in a more large sense, as applicable to
all mankind: thus the prophet says, _Have we not all one father, hath
not God created us?_ Mal. ii. 10. And the apostle Paul, when disputing
with the Athenians, speaks in their own language, and quotes a saying
taken from one of their poets, which he applies to the great God, as
_giving to all life and breath, and all things_; upon which account men
are called his _off-spring_, Acts xvii. 25. compared with 28.

4. They are called the sons of God, who are endowed with his
supernatural image, and admitted to the highest honours and privileges
conferred upon creatures: thus the angels are called the _sons of God_,
Job xxxviii. 7.

5. Our Lord Jesus Christ is called the Son of God, in a sense not
applicable to any other; as his Sonship includes in it his deity, and
his having, in his human nature, received a commission from the Father,
to engage in the great work of our redemption, as becoming surety for
us; which is the foundation of all those saving blessings which we enjoy
or hope for.

6. Believers are called the sons of God, by a special adoption; which is
farther to be considered, as being the subject-matter of this answer.
Adoption is a word taken from the civil law; and it was much in use
among the Romans, in the apostles time, in which it was a custom for
persons, who had no children of their own, and were possessed of an
estate, to prevent its being divided or descending to strangers, to make
choice of such who were agreeable to them, and beloved by them, whom
they took into this political relation of children; obliging them to
take their name upon them, and to pay respect to them, as though they
were their natural parents; and engaging to deal with them as though
they had been so; and accordingly to give them a right to their estates,
as an inheritance. This new relation, founded in a mutual consent, is a
bond of affection; and the privilege arising from thence is, that he who
is, in this sense, a father, takes care of, and provides for the person
whom he adopts, as though he were his son by nature; and therefore
Civilians calls it an act of legitimation, imitating nature, or
supplying the place of it: and this leads us to consider,

II. The difference between adoption, as used by men, and as it is
applied in this answer, to God’s taking persons into this relation, as
his children.

1. When men adopt, or take persons into the relation of children, they
do it because they are destitute of children of their own to possess
their estates; and therefore they fix their love on strangers: but God
was under no obligation to do this: for if he designed to manifest his
glory to any creatures, the holy angels were subjects capable of
receiving the displays thereof; and his own Son, who had all the
perfections of the divine nature, was infinitely the object of his
delight, and, in all respects, fitted to be as he is styled, _Heir of
all things_, Heb. i. 2.

2. When men adopt, they are generally inclined to do it by seeing some
excellency or amiableness in the persons whom they fix their love upon.
Thus Pharaoh’s daughter took up Moses, and nourished him for her own
son, because he was _exceeding fair_, Acts vii. 20, 21. or, it may be,
she was moved hereunto, by a natural compassion she had for him, besides
the motive of his beauty; as it is said, _The babe wept, and she had
compassion on him_, Exod. ii. 6. And Mordecai adopted Esther, or took
her for his own daughter; _for she was his uncle’s daughter, and was
fair and beautiful_, and an orphan, _having neither father nor mother_,
Esther ii. 7. But when God takes any into this relation of children,
they have no beauty or comeliness, and might justly have been for ever
the objects of his abhorrance. Thus he says concerning the church of
Israel, when he first took them into this relation to him, _None eye
pitied thee, but thou wast cast out in the open field, to the loathing
of thy person: and when I passed by thee and saw thee polluted in thine
own blood, I said unto thee when thou wast in thy blood, Live_, &c.
Ezek. xvi. 5. It might indeed be said concerning man, when admitted to
this favour and privilege, that he was miserable; but misery, how much
soever it may render the soul an object of pity, it could not, properly
speaking, be said to be a motive or inducement from whence the divine
compassion took its first rise, as appears from the account we have of
the mercy of God, as founded only on his sovereign will or pleasure; as
he says, _I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy; and I will have
compassion on whom I will have compassion_, Rom. ix. 15. and also, from
the consideration of man’s being exposed to misery by sin, which
rendered him rather an object of vindictive justice than mercy. This
therefore cannot be the ground of God’s giving him a right to an
inheritance; and consequently adoption is truly said, in this answer, to
be an act of the free grace of God.

3. When men adopt, their taking persons into the relation of children,
is not necessarily attended with any change of disposition or temper in
the persons adopted. A person may be admitted to this privilege, and yet
remain the same, in that respect, as he was before: but when God takes
his people into the relation of children, he gives them, not only those
other privileges which arise from thence, but also that temper and
disposition that becomes those who are thus related to him. This leads
us to consider,

III. The reference which the sonship of believers has to the superior
and more glorious Sonship of Jesus Christ; and how it is said to be for
his sake. Here we must suppose that there is a sense in which Christ is
said to be the Son of God, as the result of the divine decree, which
contains in it an idea very distinct from his being a divine person; for
that was not the result of the will of the Father; whereas it is said
concerning him, _I will declare the decree; the Lord hath said unto me,
Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee_, Psal. ii. 7. And
elsewhere, _he hath, by inheritance, obtained a more excellent name
than_ the angels; and this is the consequence of God’s saying to him,
_thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee_: and, _I will be to him
a Father, and he shall be to me a Son_, Heb. i. 4, 5. which plainly
refers to Christ as Mediator. Now when we consider this mediatorial
Sonship of Christ, if I may so express it, we are far from asserting,
that Christ’s Sonship, and that of believers, is of the same kind; for,
as much as he exceeds them as Mediator, as to the glory of his person
and office, so much is his Sonship superior to theirs. This being
premised, we may better understand the reference which the sonship of
believers has to Christ’s being the Son of God as Mediator; and
therefore let it be farther considered,[67]

1. That it is a prerogative and glory of Christ, as the Son of God, that
he has all things which relate to the salvation of his elect, put into
his hand; and therefore, whatever the saints enjoy or hope for, which is
sometimes called in scripture their inheritance, agreeably to their
character, as the children of God by adoption; this is considered as
first purchased by Christ, and then put into his hand; in which respect
it is styled his inheritance, he being constituted, pursuant to his
having accomplished the work of redemption, heir of all things; and as
such, has not only a right to his people, but is put in possession of
all those spiritual blessings in heavenly places, wherewith they are
_blessed in him_, Eph. i. 3.

2. From hence it follows, that the sonship of believers, and their right
to that inheritance, which God has reserved for them, depends upon the
sonship of Christ, which is infinitely more glorious and excellent. As
God’s adopted sons, they have the honour conferred upon them, of being
_made kings and priests_ to him, Rev. i. 6. These honours are conferred
by Christ; and, in order thereunto, they are first given to him to
bestow upon them: thus he says, _I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my
Father hath appointed unto me_, Luke xxii. 29. Christ is first appointed
heir of all things, as Mediator; and then his people, or his children,
are considered as _heirs of God_, as the apostle expresses it; _and
joint heirs with Christ_, Rom. viii. 17. Not that they have any share in
his personal or mediatorial glory; but when they are styled
_joint-heirs_ with him, we must consider them as having a right to that
inheritance, which he is possessed of in their name as Mediator: and in
this sense we are to understand those scriptures that speak of God’s
being first the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ; and then, to wit, in
him our Father; accordingly he says, _I ascend unto my Father, and your
Father, and to my God, and your God_, John xx. 17. And elsewhere, God is
styled _the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ_, and then _the Father of
mercies_, or, our merciful Father, 2 Cor. i. 3. And elsewhere the
apostle says, _Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ;
who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings, in heavenly places, in
Christ; having predestinated us unto the adoption of children, by Jesus
Christ, to himself_, Eph. i. 3. compared with 5. and inasmuch as he
designed to _bring many sons to glory_, as being _made meet to be
partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light_; he first _made the
captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings_, Heb. ii. 10.
compared with Col. i. 12. In this respect our right to the inheritance
of children, is founded in the eternal purpose of God, relating
hereunto, and the purchase of Christ, as having obtained this
inheritance for us.

IV. We are now to consider the privileges conferred on, or reserved for
them who are the sons of God by adoption. These are summed up in a very
comprehensive expression, which contains an amazing display of divine
grace; as it is said, _He that overcometh, shall inherit all things; and
I will be his God, and he shall be my son_, Rev. xxi. 7. It is a very
large grant that God is pleased to make to them; they shall inherit all
things. God is not ashamed to be called their God; and in having him,
they are said to possess all things, which are eminently and
transcendently in him; they have a right to all the blessings which he
had designed for, and which have a tendency to make them completely
happy: in this sense we are to understand our Saviour’s words in the
parable; _Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine_,
Luke xv. 31. Nothing greater than this can be desired or enjoyed by
creatures, whom the Lord delights to honour. But, that we may be a
little more particular in considering the privileges which God confers
on, or has reserved for his children, it may be farther observed,

1. That they are all emancipated, or freed from the slavery which they
were before under, either to sin or Satan; they who were once the
_servants of sin, are_ hereby _made free from sin, and become the
servants of righteousness_, or become _servants to God_, Rom. vi. 17,
18, 22. _have their fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life;
the Son makes them free_; and therefore _they are free indeed_, John
viii. 36. Before this they are described as _serving divers lusts and
pleasures_, Tit. iii. 3. and are said to be _of their father the devil_,
and to _do his works_, or follow his suggestions, John viii. 44.
ensnared, and _taken captive by him at his will_, 2 Tim. ii. 26. and, as
the consequence hereof, are in perpetual bondage, arising from a dread
of the wrath of God, and that _fear of death_ impressed on their
spirits, by him, who is said to have the _power of death_, Heb. ii. 14.
this they are delivered from, which cannot but be reckoned a glorious

2. They have God’s name put upon them, and accordingly are described as
_his people called by his name_, 2 Chron. vii. 14. This is an high and
honourable character, denoting their relation to him as a peculiar
people; and it is what belongs to them alone. Thus the church says, _We
are thine; thou never bearest rule over them_, Isa. lxiii. 19. namely,
thine adversaries; _they were not called by thy name_. They have also
Christ’s name put on them, _of whom the whole family in heaven and earth
is named_, Eph. iii. 15. which not only signifies that propriety which
he has in them as Mediator, but their relation to him as the ransomed of
the Lord, his sheep, whom he leads and feeds like a shepherd; and they
are also styled his children, _Behold I and the children which God hath
given me_, Heb. ii. 13. and indeed, when he is called a surety, or an
advocate, or said to execute certain offices as a Saviour or Redeemer;
these are all relative terms; and whatever he does therein, is in their
name, and for their advantage; as it is said, _of him are ye in Christ
Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification,
and redemption_, 1 Cor. i. 31.

3. They are taken into God’s family, and dealt with as members thereof;
and accordingly are styled _fellow citizens with the saints, and of the
household of God_, Eph. ii. 19. And as the consequence hereof, they have
protection, provision, and communion with him.

(1.) They have safe protection; as the master of a family thinks himself
obliged to secure and defend from danger, all that are under his roof,
whose house is, as it were, their castle; so Christ is his people’s
defence, concerning whom it is said, _A man shall be as an hiding place
from the wind, and a covert from the tempest, as rivers of water in a
dry place, and as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land_, Isa.
xxxii. 2. and, as the consequence hereof, it is added, _My people shall
dwell in a peaceable habitation, and in sure dwellings, and in quiet
resting places_, ver. 18. _They dwell on high; their place of defence is
the munition of rocks_, chap. xxxii. 16. He who has subdued their
enemies, and will in his own time, bruise them under their feet, will
take care that they shall not meet with that disturbance from them,
which may hinder their repose or rest in him, or render their state
unsafe, so as to endanger their perishing or falling from it.

(2.) They enjoy the plentiful provisions of God’s house, and therefore
Christ is called their _shepherd_, Psal. xxiii. 1. not only as leading
and defending them, but as providing for them; _He shall feed his flock
like a shepherd_, Isa. xl. 11. As all grace is treasured up in him, and
there is a fulness thereof, which he has to impart to the heirs of
salvation, that is sufficient to supply all their wants; so they shall
never have a reason to complain that they are straitened in him; the
blessings of his house are not only exhilirating, but satisfying, and
such as have a tendency to make them completely happy.

(3.) They are admitted to the greatest intimacy, and have sweet
communion with Christ; _the secret of the Lord is with them that fear
him_, Psal. xxv. 14. he deals with them as with friends, and in this
instance in particular, (as he tells his disciples,) that _all that he
has heard of the Father_, John xv. 15. that is, whatever he had a
commission to impart for their direction and comfort, he _makes known
unto them_, which must needs be reckoned a very great privilege. As the
queen of Sheba, when beholding the advantages that they who were in
Solomon’s presence enjoyed, could not but with an extasy of admiration,
say, _Happy are thy men; happy are thy servants, which stand continually
before thee, that hear thy wisdom_, 1 Kings x. 8. much more may they be
happy who are admitted into his presence, in whom _are hid all the
treasures of wisdom and knowledge_, Col. ii. 3.

(4.) Another privilege which they enjoy, is access to God, as a
reconciled Father, through Christ; they have a liberty to _come boldly
to the throne of grace, that they obtain mercy, and find grace to help
in time of need_, Heb. iv. 18. Whatever their straits and difficulties
are, God holds forth his golden sceptre, invites them to come to him,
asks, What is thy petition? and gives them ground to hope that it shall
be granted, so far as it may redound to his glory and their good. And,
inasmuch as they are often straitened in their spirits, and unprepared
to draw nigh to him; they have the promise of the Spirit to assist them
herein; upon which account he is called the _Spirit of adoption, whereby
they cry Abba Father_, Rom. viii. 15. This privilege is said to be a
consequence of their being sons; _Because ye are sons, God hath sent
forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba Father_, Gal.
iv. 6. By this means they have becoming conceptions of the Divine
Majesty, a reverential fear of, and a love to him, earnest desires of
communion with him, and of being made partakers of what he has to
impart. They have a right to plead the promises; and in so doing, are
encouraged to hope for the blessings contained therein.

(5.) As God’s children are prone to backslide from him, and so have need
of restoring grace, he will recover and humble them, and thereby prevent
their total apostacy: this he sometimes does by afflictions, which the
apostle calls fatherly chastisements, and reckons them not only
consistent with, but evidences of his love: _Whom the Lord loveth, he
chasteneth; and if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are
partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons_, Heb. xii. 6, 8, 11. The
apostle does not here speak of afflictions as considered absolutely in
themselves, but as proceeding from the love of God, the design whereof
is to do them good; and as they are adapted to this present state, in
which they are training up for the glorious inheritance reserved for
them in heaven, and need some trying dispensations, which may put them
in mind of that state of perfect blessedness which is laid up for them:
and they are rendered subservient to their present and future advantage,
as the afflictions of this present time _bring forth the peaceable
fruits of righteousness_ to them; and when they are, in the end,
perfectly freed from them, will tend to enhance their joy and praise;
which leads us to consider another privilege, which is so great that it
crowns all those that they are now possessed of, namely,

(6.) They shall, at last, be brought into God’s immediate presence, and
satisfied with his likeness. The apostle calls the perfect blessedness
of the saints, when raised from the dead, and so delivered from the
bondage of corruption, and made partakers of the glorious liberty of the
Sons of God, by way of eminency, _the adoption, to wit, the redemption
of their bodies_; which signifies not only the full manifestation of
their adoption, but their taking possession of their inheritance, which
they are now waiting and hoping for, which is too great for the heart of
man to conceive of in this present state; for the apostle says, _Now are
we the sons of God; and it doth not appear what we shall be: but we
know, that when he shall appear we shall be like him; for we shall see
him as he is_, 1 John iii. 2. So that all the blessings which we have,
either in hand or hope, the blessings of both worlds, which are
conferred upon us from our first conversion to our glorification: these
are privileges which God bestows on those who are his adopted children.

From what has been said concerning adoption, we may take occasion to
observe, how, in some respects it agrees with, or may indeed, be
reckoned a branch of justification, and in other respects it includes in
it something that is an ingredient in sanctification. We have before
observed, in treating on the former of these, _viz._ justification, that
when God forgives sin, he confers on his people a right to life, or to
all the blessings of the covenant of grace, in which are contained the
promises that belong to the life that now is, and that which is to come.
These are the privileges which God’s adopted children are made partakers
of; and in this respect some divines suppose, that adoption is included
in our justification.[68]

And if justification be explained, as has been before observed, as
denoting an immanent act in God, whereby the elect are considered, in
the covenant between the Father and the Son, as in Christ, their federal
head; so they are considered as the adopted children of God, in Christ,
and accordingly as they are described as chosen in Christ, unto eternal
life, they are said to be _predestinated unto the adoption of children_,
Eph. i. 6. which is a privilege to be obtained by Jesus Christ: in this
respect all the elect are called Christ’s _seed, that shall serve him_,
Psal. xxii. 30. whom he had a special regard to, when he made his soul
an offering for sin, and concerning whom he had this promise made to him
in the covenant, that passed between the Father and him, _that he should
see them, and the pleasure of the Lord_, with respect to their
everlasting salvation, _should prosper in his hand_, Isa. liii. 10. Now
when Christ is considered as the head of the elect, who are in this
sense called his sons, whom he has engaged to bring to glory, faith is
the fruit and consequence of adoption; accordingly the apostle says,
_Because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into
your hearts, crying, Abba, Father_, Gal. iv. 6.

But as justification is a declared act, and is said to be by faith, so
adoption agreeing with it, is of the same nature; and accordingly we are
said to be the _children of God by faith_, chap. iii. 26. that is, it is
by faith that we have a right to claim this relation, together with the
privileges which are the result thereof.

Moreover, as adoption includes in it a person’s being made meet for the
inheritance, which God has reserved for him, and so is endowed with the
temper and disposition of his children, consisting in humility,
heavenly-mindedness, love to him, dependence upon him, and a zeal for
his glory, a likeness to Christ; as the same mind is said to be in us,
in some measure as was in him; in this respect adoption agrees with
sanctification, which is what we are next to consider.

Footnote 67:

  Vide Vol. I. page 279, in note.

Footnote 68:

  _Vid. Turrett. Theol. Elenct. Tom. 2. Loc. 16. § 7._

                              Quest. LXXV.

    QUEST. LXXV. _What is sanctification?_

    ANSW. Sanctification is a work of God’s grace, whereby they whom God
    hath, before the foundation of the world, chosen to be holy, are in
    time, through the powerful operation of his Spirit, applying the
    death and resurrection of Christ unto them, renewed in their whole
    man, after the image of God, having the seeds of repentance unto
    life, and of all other saving graces put into their hearts; and
    those graces so stirred up, increased and strengthened, as that they
    more and more die unto sin, and rise unto newness of life.

1. We shall shew what we are to understand by the word _sanctify_. This
is sometimes considered as what has God for its object: thus he is said
to _sanctify himself_, when he appears in the glory of his holiness, and
gives occasion to the world to adore that perfection, which he is
sometimes represented as doing, when he punishes sin in a visible and
exemplary manner. Thus when God threatens to call for _a sword_, and
_plead against_ a rebellious people, _with pestilence and with blood_,
he is said, by this means, to _magnify and sanctify himself_, so as to
be _known_, to wit, as an holy God, _in the eyes of many nations_. And
when he fulfils his promises, and thereby advances his holiness, as when
he brought his people out of captivity, and gathered them out of the
countries, wherein they had been scattered, he is said to be _sanctified
in them_, Ezek. xxxviii. 21-23. And he is sanctified by his people, when
they give him the glory that is due to his perfection, as thus displayed
and magnified by him: thus God’s people are said to _sanctify the Lord
of hosts_, when they make him the object of their _fear and of their
dread_, Isa. viii. 13.

However, this is not the sense in which we are here to understand it,
but as applied to men; in which respect it is taken in various senses,
namely, for their consecration, or separation unto God; thus our Saviour
says, when devoting and applying himself to the work, for which he came
into the world; _for their sakes I sanctify myself_, John xvii. 19. But
this is not the sense in which it is to be understood in this answer.

Moreover, it is often taken, in scripture, for persons being devoted to
God, to minister in holy things: thus Aaron and his sons were
_sanctified, that they might minister unto him in the priest’s office_,
Exod. xxviii. 41. And it is sometimes taken for an external federal
dedication to God, to walk before him as a peculiar people in observance
of his holy institutions. Thus when Israel consented to be God’s people
they are styled, _holiness unto the Lord_, Jer. ii. 3. _the holy seed_,
Ezra ix. 2. and _an holy nation_, 1 Pet. ii. 9. And the church, under
the gospel-dispensation, as consecrated, and professing subjection, to
Christ, or separated to his service, and waiting for his presence, while
engaged in all those ordinances, which he has appointed in the gospel,
is described as _called to be saints_, Rom. i. 7. and they are hereby
related to him, in an external and visible way. Neither is this the
sense in which the word is taken in this answer; in which we are to
understand sanctification as a special discriminating grace, whereby
persons are not barely externally, but really devoted to Christ by
faith: it is the internal beauty of the soul, whereby all the faculties
being renewed, and a powerful, effectual change wrought therein; they
are enabled to turn from sin unto God, and exercise all those graces,
whereby _they walk in holiness and righteousness before him, all the
days of their lives_, Luke i. 75. till this work, which is gradually
carried on here, shall be brought to perfection hereafter.

2. It may farther be observed, that sanctification as described in this
answer, may be considered as including in it several other graces, some
of which have been already insisted on, namely, regeneration, effectual
calling, and faith; and there is another grace connected with it, which
will be particularly insisted on under the next answer, namely,
repentance unto life; all which graces are said to be wrought by the
powerful operation of the Spirit, in those who were, before the
foundation of the world, chosen to be holy. Regeneration is styled, by
some, initial sanctification, as all graces take their first rise from
the principle which is therein implanted. Effectual calling, or
conversion, is that whereby we are brought into the way of holiness, and
internally disposed to walk therein. Faith is that grace whereby this
work is promoted, as all holy actions proceed from it, as deriving
strength from Christ, to perform them. And repentance is that whereby
the work of sanctification discovers itself, in the soul’s abhorring,
and flying from, every thing that tends to defile it; approves itself to
God as one, who is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity without the
greatest detestation. But inasmuch as these graces either have been, or
will be particularly insisted on, in their proper place, we shall more
especially consider sanctification as a progressive work, whereby it is
distinguished from them, by which we daily consecrate, or devote
ourselves to God; and our actions have all a tendency to advance his
glory; and, by the Spirit, we are enabled more and more to die unto sin,
and to live unto righteousness; so that it is not barely one single act
of grace, but it contains in it the whole progress of the work of grace,
as gradually carried on till perfected in glory: this is what we are to
speak particularly to. And,

I. It includes in it a continual devotedness to God. As the first act of
faith consists in a making a surrender of ourselves to Christ, depending
on his assistance in beginning the work of obedience in the exercise of
all Christian graces; so sanctification is the continuance thereof. When
we are first converted, we receive Christ Jesus the Lord; and in
sanctification we walk in him, and exercise a daily dependence on him in
the execution of all his offices; make his word our rule, and delight in
it after the inward man. How difficult soever the duties are that he
commands, we take pleasure in the performance of them, make religion our
great business, and in order thereunto conclude, that every thing we
receive from him is to be improved to his glory. And as every duty is to
be performed by faith; so what has been before observed concerning the
life of faith, is to be considered as an expedient to promote the work
of sanctification.

II. In the carrying on of this work we are to endeavour, to our utmost,
to fence against the prevailing power of sin, by all those methods which
are prescribed in the gospel, that so it may not have dominion over us;
this is generally styled the work of mortification. The apostle speaks
of _our old man being crucified with Christ, and the body of sin
destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin_, Rom. vi. 6. and of
our crucifying the flesh with the affections and lusts, and of our
_mortifying the deeds of the body through the Spirit_, Gal. v. 24. that
is, by his assistance and grace, which is necessary in order thereunto,
Rom. viii. 13.

This is a very difficult work, especially considering the prevalency of
corruption, and the multitude of temptations that we are exposed to; the
subtilty and watchfulness of Satan, who walks about like a roaring lion,
seeking whom he may devour; the treachery of our own hearts, that are so
prone to depart from God; the fickleness and instability of our
resolutions; the irregularity of our affections, and the constant
efforts made by corrupt nature, to gain the ascendant over them, and
turn them aside from God: this it does sometimes by presenting things in
a false view, calling evil good, and good evil; representing some things
as harmless and not displeasing to God, that are most pernicious and
offensive, endeavouring to lead us into mistakes, as to the matter of
sin or duty, and to persuade us, that those things will issue well which
are like to prove bitterness in the end; and attempting to impose upon
us, as though we were in a right and safe way, when, at the same time,
we are walking contrary to God, and corrupt nature is gaining strength
thereby. But this will be farther considered, when we speak concerning
the imperfection of sanctification in believers[69]. Now this renders it
necessary for us to make use of those methods which God has prescribed
for the mortification of sin; and in order thereunto,

1. We must endeavour to maintain a constant sense of the heinous nature
of sin, as it is contrary to the holiness of God, a stain that cannot be
washed away, but by the blood of Jesus, the highest instance of
ingratitude for all the benefits which we have received, a bitter and an
only evil, the abominable thing that God hates; it is not only to be
considered as condemning, but defiling, that hereby we may maintain a
constant abhorrence of it; and that not only of those sins that expose
us to scorn and reproach in the eye of the world, but every thing that
is in itself sinful, as contrary to the law of God.

2. We must be watchful against the breakings forth of corrupt nature,
observe the frame and disposition of our spirits, and the deceitfulness
of sin, which has a tendency to harden us, and avoid all occasions of,
or incentives to it, _hating even the garment spotted by the flesh_,
Jude, ver. 23. _abstaining from all appearance of evil_, 2 Thess. v. 22.
And to this we may add, that we are frequently to examine ourselves with
respect to our behaviour in every state of life; whether sin be gaining
or losing ground in us; whether we make conscience of performing every
duty, both personal and relative? what guilt we contract by sins of
omission, or the want of that fervency of spirit which has a tendency to
beget a formal, dead, and stupid frame and temper of mind, and thereby
hinder the progress of the work of sanctification? but that which is the
principal, if not the only expedient that will prove effectual for the
mortifying of sin is, our seeking help against it from him who is able
to give us the victory over it. Therefore,

3. Whatever attempts we use against the prevailing power of sin, in
order to the mortifying of it, these must be performed by faith; seeking
and deriving that help from Christ, which is necessary in order
thereunto. And therefore,

(1.) As the dominion of sin consists in its rendering us guilty in the
sight of God, whereby the conscience is burdened, by reason of the dread
that it has of that punishment which is due to us, and the condemning
sentence of the law, which we are liable to; and as its mortification,
in this respect, consists in our deliverance from that which makes us so
uneasy, no expedient can be used to mortify it, but our looking by faith
to Christ, as a propitiation for sin, whereby we are enabled to behold
the debt which we had contracted, cancelled, the indictment superseded,
and the condemning sentence repealed; from whence the soul concludes,
that iniquity shall not be its ruin. This is the only method we are to
take when oppressed with a sense of the guilt of sin, which is daily
committed by us. It was shadowed forth by the Israelites looking to the
brazen serpent, a type of Christ crucified, when stung with fiery
serpents, which occasioned exquisite pain, and would, without this
expedient, have brought immediate death: thus the deadly wound of sin is
healed by the sovereign balm of Christ’s blood, applied by faith; and
we, by his having fulfilled the law, may be said to be dead to it, as
freed from the curse thereof, and all the sad consequences that would
ensue thereupon.

(2.) As sin is said to have dominion over us, in that all the powers and
faculties of our souls are enslaved by it, whereby, as the apostle
expresses it, _we are carnal, sold under sin_, Rom. vii. 14. when we are
weak and unable to perform what is good, and the corruption of nature is
so predominant, that we are, as it were, carried down the stream, which
we strive against, but in vain: in this respect sin is to be mortified,
by a fiducial application to Christ, for help against it; and herein we
are to consider him as having undertaken, not only to deliver from the
condemning, but the prevailing power of sin; which is a part of the work
that he is now engaged in, wherein he applies the redemption he
purchased, by the powerful influences of the Holy Spirit, and the soul
seeks to him for them. As it is natural for us, when we are in imminent
danger of present ruin, or are assaulted by an enemy, whose superior
force we are not able to withstand, to cry out to some kind friend, for
help; or when we are in danger of death, by some disease which nature is
ready to sink under, to apply ourselves to the physician for relief:
thus the soul is to apply itself to Christ for strength against the
prevailing power of indwelling sin, and grace to make him more than a
conqueror over it; and Christ, by his Spirit, in this respect, enables
us (to use the apostle’s words,) _to mortify the deeds of body_, Rom.
viii. 13.

And, in order hereunto, we take encouragement, from the promises of God;
and the connexion that there is between Christ’s having made
satisfaction for sin, and his delivering those who are redeemed, from
the power of it, as the apostle says, _Sin shall not have dominion over
you; for ye are not under the law_, that is, under the condemning
sentence of it, _but under grace_, chap. vi. 14. as having an interest
in that grace which has engaged to deliver from sin: in both these
respects we consider Christ not only as able, but as having undertaken
to deliver his people from all their spiritual enemies, to relieve them
in all their straits and exigences, and to bring them off safe and
victorious. This is the method which we are to take to mortify sin; and
it is a never-failing remedy. What was before observed, under the
foregoing heads, concerning our endeavouring to see the evil of sin, and
exercising that watchfulness against the occasions thereof, are
necessary duties, without which sin will gain strength: nevertheless the
victory over it is principally owing to our deriving righteousness and
strength, by faith, from Christ; whereby he has the glory of a conqueror
over it, and we have the advantage of receiving this privilege as
applying ourselves to, and relying on him for it.

Having considered the way in which sin is to be mortified, agreeably to
the gospel-rule; we shall, before we close this head, take notice of
some other methods which many rest in, thinking thereby to free
themselves from the dominion of sin, which will not answer that end.
Some have no other notion of sin, but as it discovers itself in those
gross enormities which are matter of public scandal or reproach in the
eye of the world, who do not duly consider the spirituality of the law
of God; such-like sentiments of moral evil, the apostle Paul had, before
his conversion, as he says, _I was alive without the law once_, chap.
vii. 9. compared with 7. and _I had not known lust, except the law had
said, thou shalt not covet_. _Sin_ did not _appear to be sin_, ver. 13.
that is, nothing was thought sin by him, but that which was openly
scandalous, and deemed so by universal consent; and therefore he says
elsewhere, that _touching the righteousness which is in the law, he_ was
_blameless_, Phil. iii. 6. or, as Ephraim is represented, saying, _In
all my labour they shall find none iniquity in me that were sin_, Hos.
xii. 8. These persons think they shall come off well, if they can say,
that they are not guilty of some enormous crimes; so that none can
charge them with those open debaucheries, or other sins, that are not to
be mentioned among Christians; or if, through any change in their
condition of life, or being delivered from those temptations that gave
occasion to them; or if there natural temper be less inclined to them
than before, and, as the result hereof, they abstain from them, this
they call a mortifying of sin; though the most that can be said of it
is, that sin is only curbed, confined, and their natural inclinations to
it abated, while it is far from being dead.

Others, who will allow that sin is of a far larger extent, and includes
in it that which prevails in the heart, as well as renders itself
visible in the life, or contains in it the omission of duties, as well
as the actual commission of known sins; these often take a preposterous
method to mortify it: if they are sensible of the guilt that is
contracted hereby, they use no other method to be discharged from it,
but by pretending to make atonement, either by confessing their sins,
using endeavours to abstain from them, or by the performance of some
duties of religion, by which they think to make God amends for the
injuries they have offered to him thereby: but this is so far from
mortifying sin, that it increases the guilt thereof, and causes it to
take deeper root, and afterwards to break forth in a greater degree; or
else tends to stupify the conscience, after which they go on in a way of
sin, with carnal security, and without remorse.

Others think, that to mortify sin, is nothing else but to subdue and
keep under their passions, at least, to such a degree that they may not,
through the irregularity and impetuous violence thereof, commit those
sins which they cannot but reflect upon with shame, when brought into a
more calm and considerate temper of mind; and, in order thereunto, they
subject themselves to certain rules, which the light of nature will
suggest, and the wiser Heathen have laid down to induce persons to lead
a virtuous life; and they argue thus with themselves, that it is below
the dignity of the human nature, for men to suffer their passions to
lead their reason captive, or to do that which betrays a want of wisdom
as well as temper; and if by this means the exorbitancy of their
passions is abated, and many sins, which are occasioned thereby,
prevented, they conclude their lives to be unblemished, and sin subdued;
whereas this is nothing else but restraining the fury of their temper,
or giving a check to some sins, while sin in general remains

As to the methods prescribed by some Popish casuists, of emaciating, or
keeping under the body by physic, or a sparing diet, and submitting to
hard penances, not only to atone for past sins, but prevent them for the
future, these have not a tendency to strike at the root of sin, and
therefore are unjustly called a mortifying of it. For though an
abstemious regular way of living be conducive to answer some valuable
ends, and without it men are led to the commission of many sins; yet
this is no expedient to take away the guilt thereof; neither is the
enslaving, captivating, and prevailing power of indwelling sin, that
discovers itself in various shapes, and attends every condition and
circumstance of life, sufficiently subdued hereby.

And those common methods that many others take, which are of a different
nature, namely, when they resolve, though in their own strength, to
break off their sins by repentance; or, if their resolutions to lead a
virtuous life are weak, and not much regarded by them, endeavour to
strengthen them, this will not answer their end, sin will be too strong
for all their resolutions, and the engagements with which they bind
themselves, will be like the cords with which Sampson was bound, which
were broken by him like threads. If we rely on our own strength, how
much soever we may be resolved to abstain from sin at present, God will
make us sensible of our weakness, by leaving us to ourselves; and then,
how much soever we resolve to abstain from sin, it will appear that it
is far from being mortified, or subdued by us. Therefore we conclude,
that this cannot be performed, but by going forth in the name and
strength of Christ, who is able to keep us from falling; or, when
fallen, to recover us; and this will be found, in the end, to be the
best expedient for the promoting this branch of our sanctification;
which leads us to consider,

III. That, in the farther carrying on of this work of sanctification, we
are enabled to walk with God, or before him, in holiness and
righteousness. We are first made alive in regeneration, and then put
forth living actions, which some call vivification, as distinguished
from that part of sanctification, which has been already considered,
namely, mortification of sin.

This is what we may call leading an holy life, whereby we are to
understand much more than many do, who suppose, that it consists only in
the performance of some moral duties, that contain the external part of
religion, without which there would not be the least shadow of holiness;
and in performing those duties which we owe to men in the various
relations which we stand in to them; or, at least, in keeping ourselves
clear from those _pollutions which are in the world through lust_, 2
Pet. i. 4. The Pharisee, in the gospel, thought himself an extraordinary
holy person, because he was no extortioner, nor unjust, nor adulterer;
but fasted, paid tithes, and performed several works of charity; and
many are great pretenders to it, who have no other than a form of
godliness, without the power of it, or who are more than ordinarily
diligent in their attendance on the ordinances of God’s appointment;
though they are far from doing this in a right way, like those whom the
prophet speaks of, who are said to _seek God daily, and to delight to
know his ways, as a nation that did righteousness, and forsook not the
ordinance of their God_; though at the same time, they are said to _fast
for strife and debate, and to smite with the fist of wickedness_, Isa.
lviii. 2. But, that we may consider several other things, which are
contained in a person’s leading an holy life, let it be observed,

1. That our natures must be changed, and therefore sanctification always
supposes and flows from regeneration: there must be grace in the heart,
or else it can never discover itself in the life; the root must be good,
or else the tree cannot bring forth good fruit; the spring of action
must be cleansed, otherwise the actions themselves will be impure. Some
persons, who are generally strangers to the internal work of grace, are
very apt to insist much on the goodness of their hearts, and this is
sometimes pleaded in excuse for the badness of their lives; whereas they
never had a due sense of the plague and perverseness of their own
hearts. Good actions must proceed from a good principle, otherwise
persons are in an unsanctified state; and, as they must be conformable
to the rule laid down in the word of God, and performed in a right
manner, and to the glory of God as to the end designed thereby; so they
must be performed by faith, whereby we depend on Christ for assistance
and acceptance, as being sensible of our constant work and business,
whereby we are said to walk with God, as well as live to him.

2. In order to our leading an holy life, we must make use of those
motives and inducements thereunto, that are contained in the gospel; and
to encourage us herein,

(1.) We are to have in our view that perfect pattern of holiness which
Christ has given us; he has _left us an example that we should follow
his steps_, 1 Pet. ii. 21. Whatever we find in the life of Christ,
prescribed for our imitation, should be improved to promote the work of
sanctification; his humility, meekness, patience, submission to the
divine will, his zeal for the glory of God, and the good of mankind, and
his unfainting perseverance in pursuing the end for which he came into
the world, are all mentioned, in scripture, not barely that we should
yield an assent to the account we have thereof in the gospel history;
but that the _same mind should be in us, which was also in him_, Phil.
ii. 5. or, as the apostle says, _He that saith he abideth in him, ought
himself also to walk even as he walked_, 1 John ii. 6. And to this we
may add, that we ought to set before us the example of others, and be
followers of them, so far as they followed him: their example, indeed,
is as much inferior to Christ’s as imperfect holiness is to that which
is perfect; but yet it is an encouragement to us, that in following the
footsteps of the flock, we have many bright examples of those, who
through faith and patience, inherit the promises.

(2.) Another motive to holiness is the love of Christ, expressed in the
great work of our redemption, and in that care and compassion which he
has extended towards us in the application thereof, in all the methods
he has used in the beginning and carrying on the work of grace, in which
we may say, hitherto he hath helped us: this ought to be improved so as
to constrain us, 2 Cor. v. 14. as he has hereby laid us under the
highest obligation to live to him. And as love to Christ is the main
ingredient in sanctification; so when by faith we behold him as the most
engaging and desirable object, this will afford a constant inducement to

(3.) Another motive hereunto is our relation to God, as his children,
and our professed subjection to him; as we gave up ourselves to him,
when first we believed, avouched him to be our God, and, since then,
have experienced many instances of his condescending goodness and
faithfulness; as he has been pleased to grant us some degrees of
communion with him, through Christ; and as he has given us many great
and precious promises, and in various instances, made them good to us;
and has reserved an inheritance for all that are sanctified in that
better world, to which they shall be brought at last: this should induce
us to lead a life of holiness, as the apostle says, _Having these
promises, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and
spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God_, chap. vii. 1.

From what has been said in explaining the doctrine of sanctification, we
may infer,

[1.] The difference that there is between moral virtue, so far as it may
be attained by the light of nature, and the improvement of human reason;
and that holiness of heart and life, which contains in it all Christian
virtues, and is inseparably connected with salvation. All who are
conversant in the writings of some of the Heathen moralists will find a
great many things that tend to regulate the conduct of life; and those
precepts laid down, which, if followed, carry in them a great
resemblance of the grace of sanctification; and herein some, who have
been destitute of the light of the gospel, have very much excelled many
who bear the Christian name: when we find a lively representation of the
universal corruption and degeneracy of human nature, the disorder and
irregularity of the affections, and man’s natural propensity to vice,
rules laid down for the attaining of virtue, by which means men are
directed how to free themselves from that slavery which they are under
to their lusts, and advice given to press after a resemblance and
conformity to God; this carried in it a great shew of holiness.

A late writer[70] has collected together several passages out of their
writings, with a design to prove, that though they were destitute of
gospel light, yet they might attain salvation; inasmuch as they use many
expressions that very much resemble the grace of sanctification: as for
instance, when one of them speaking concerning contentment in the
station of life in which providence had fixed him, says, “A servant of
God should not be solicitous for the morrow. Can any good man fear that
he should want food? Doth God so neglect his servants, and his
witnesses, as that they should be destitute of his care and providence?
And he adds, Did I ever, Lord, accuse thee, or complain of thy
government? Was I not always willing to be sick when it was thy pleasure
that I should be so? Did I ever, desire to be what thou wouldest not
have me to be? Am I not always ready to do what thou commandest? Wilt
thou have me to continue here, I will freely do as thou willest? Or,
wouldest thou have me depart hence, I will freely do it at thy command?
I have always had my will subject to that of God; deal with me according
to thy pleasure; I am always of the same mind with thee; I refuse
nothing which thou art pleased to lay upon me; lead me whither thou
wilt; clothe me as thou pleasest; I will be a magistrate or private
person; continue me in my country, or in exile, I will not only submit
to, but defend thy proceedings in all things.” We might also produce
quotations out of other writings whereby it appears that some of the
heathen excelled many Christians in the consistency of their sentiments
about religious matters, with the divine perfections; as when they say,
Whatever endowment of the mind has a tendency to make a man truly great
and excellent; this is owing to an internal divine influence.[71]
Others, speaking of the natural propensity which there is in man to
vice, have maintained, that to fence against it, there is a necessity of
their having assistance from God, in order to their leading a virtuous
life; and that virtue is not attained by instruction, that is, not only
by that means, but that it is from God; and that this is to be sought
for at his hands, by faith and prayer: much to this purpose may be seen
in the writings of Plato, Maximus Tyrius, Hierocles, and several

The principal use that I would make hereof is, to observe that this
should humble many Christians, who are far from coming up to the Heathen
in the practice of moral virtue. And, as for the sentiments of those who
deny the necessity of our having the divine influence in order to our
performing the duties which God requires of us, in a right manner; these
fall very short of what the light of nature has suggested to those who
have duly attended to it, though destitute of divine revelation. When I
meet with such expressions, and many other divine things, in the
writings of Plato; and what he says of the conversation of his master
Socrates, both in his life and death: I cannot but apply in this case,
what our Saviour says to the scribe in the gospel, who answered him
discreetly, _Thou art not far from the kingdom of God_, Mark xii. 34.
These things, it is true, very much resemble the grace of
sanctification; yet in many respects, they fall short of it; inasmuch as
they had no acts of faith, in a Mediator, whom they were altogether
strangers to, as being destitute of divine revelation.

It is not my design, at present, to enquire, whether they had any hope
of salvation? this having been considered under a foregoing answer[73].
All that I shall here observe is, that some of the best of them were
charged with notorious crimes, which a Christian would hardly reckon
consistent with the truth of grace; as Plato, with flattering of
tyrants, and too much indulging pride and luxury[74]; Socrates, with
pleading for fornication and incest, and practising sodomy, if what some
have reported concerning them be true[75]. But, without laying any
stress on the character of particular persons, who, in other respects,
have said and done many excellent things; it is evident, that whatever
appearance of holiness there may be in the writings or conversation of
those that are strangers to Christ and his gospel, this falls short of
the grace of sanctification.[76]

There is a vast difference between recommending or practising moral
virtues, as agreeable to the nature of man, and the dictates of reason;
and a person’s being led in that way of holiness, which our Saviour has
prescribed in the gospel. This takes its rise from a change of nature,
wrought in regeneration, is excited by gospel-motives, encouraged by the
promises thereof, and proceeds from the grace of faith, without which,
all pretensions to holiness are vain and defective. What advances soever
these may have made in endeavouring to free themselves from the slavery
of sin, they have been very deficient, as to the mortification thereof;
for being ignorant of that great atonement which is made by Christ, as
the only expedient to take away the guilt of sin, they could not, by any
method, arrive to a conscience void of offence, or any degree of hope
concerning the forgiveness thereof, and the way of acceptance in the
sight of God: and their using endeavours to stop the current of vice,
and to subdue their inordinate affections, could not be effectual to
answer that end, inasmuch as they were destitute of the Spirit of God,
who affords his divine assistance, in order thereunto, in no other way
than what is prescribed in the gospel; so that as _without holiness no
one shall see the Lord_, this grace is to be expected in that way which
God has prescribed; and every one that is holy is made so by the Spirit,
who glorifies himself in rendering men fruitful in every good work,
being raised by him, from the death of sin, to the life of faith in
Christ; which is a blessing peculiar to the gospel.

[2.] Since holiness is required of all persons, as what is absolutely
necessary to salvation, and is also recommended as that which God works,
in those in whom the gospel is made effectual thereunto; we may infer,
that no gospel-doctrine has the least tendency to lead to
licentiousness. The grace of God may indeed be abused; and men, who are
strangers to it, take occasion from the abounding thereof, to continue
in sin, as some did in the apostle’s days, Rom. vi. 1. but this is not
the genuine tendency of the gospel, which is to lead men to holiness.
Whatever duties it engages to, they are all designed to answer this end;
and whatever privileges are contained therein, they are all of them
inducements thereunto: are we _delivered out of the hands of our_
spiritual enemies? it is, _that we should serve him in holiness and
righteousness before him, all the days of our lives_, Luke i. 74, 75. As
for the promises, they are an inducement to us, as the apostle expresses
it, to _cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit,
perfecting holiness in the fear of God_, 2 Cor. vii. 1. and every
ordinance and providence should be improved by us, to promote the work
of sanctification.

[3.] Let us examine ourselves, whether this work be begun, and the grace
of God wrought in us, in truth? and if so, whether it be increasing or
declining in our souls?

_1st_, As to the truth of grace, let us take heed that we do not think
that we are something when we are nothing, deceiving our own souls, or
rest in a form of godliness, while denying the power thereof, or a name
to live, while we are dead; let us think that it is not enough to
abstain from grosser enormities, or engage in some external duties of
religion, with wrong ends. And if, upon enquiry into ourselves, we find
that we are destitute of a principle of spiritual life and grace, let us
not think, that because we have escaped some of the pollutions that are
in the world, or do not run with others in all excess of riot, that
therefore we lead holy lives; but rather let us enquire, Whether the
life we live in the flesh, be by the faith of the Son of God, under the
influence of his Spirit, with great diffidence of our own righteousness
and strength, and firm dependence upon Christ? and as the result hereof,
whether we are found in the practice of universal holiness, and hate and
avoid all appearance of evil, using all those endeavours that are
prescribed in the gospel, to glorify him in our spirits, souls, and
bodies, which are his?

_2d_, If we have ground to hope that the work of sanctification is
begun, let us enquire, whether it be advancing or declining? Whether we
go from strength to strength, or make improvements in proportion to the
privileges we enjoy? Many have reason to complain that it is not with
them as in months past; that grace is languishing, the frame of their
spirits in holy duties stupid, and they destitute of that communion with
God, which they have once enjoyed; such ought to remember from whence
they are fallen, and repent, and do their first works; and beg of God,
from whom alone our fruit is derived, that he would revive the work, and
cause their souls to flourish in the courts of his house, and to bring
forth much fruit unto holiness, to the glory of his own name, and their
spiritual peace and comfort.

As for those who are frequently complaining of, and bewailing their
declensions in grace, who seem, to others, to be making a very
considerable progress therein; let them not give way to unbelief so far
as to deny or set aside the experiences which they have had of God’s
presence with them; for sometimes grace grows, though without our own
observation. If they are destitute of the comforts thereof, or the
fruits of righteousness, which are peace, assurance and joy in the Holy
Ghost, let them consider, that the work of sanctification, in this
present state, is, at best, but growing up towards that perfection which
is not yet arrived to. If it does not spring up and flourish, as to
those fruits and effects thereof, which they are pressing after, but
have not attained; let them bless God, if grace is taking root downward,
and is attended with an humble sense of their own weakness and
imperfection, and an earnest desire of those spiritual blessings which
they are labouring after. This ought to afford matter of thankfulness,
rather than have a tendency to weaken their hands, or induce them to
conclude that they are in an unsanctified state; because of the many
hindrances and discouragements which attend their progress in holiness.

Footnote 69:

  _See Quest._ lxxviii.

Footnote 70:

  _See Whitby’s Disc. &c. page 541, in which he quotes Arrian, as giving
  the sense of Epictetus, Lib. 1. cap. 9. Lib. 3. cap. 5, 24, 26, 36,

Footnote 71:

  _Vid. Cic. de natura Deorum, Lib. 2._ Nullus unquam vir magnus fuit,
  sine aliquo afflatu divino.

Footnote 72:

  _See Gale’s court of the Gentiles. Book 3. chap. 1. and chap. 10. and
  Wits. de Occon. Fæd. 461-463._

Footnote 73:

  _See Vol. II. page 489. & seq._

Footnote 74:

  _Vid. G. J. Voss. de Hist. Græc. page 22._

Footnote 75:

  _See Gale’s court of the Gentiles, Part III. book 1, chap. 1, 2. which
  learned writer having, in some other parts of that work, mentioned
  several things that were praise worthy, in some of the philosophers,
  here takes occasion to speak of some other things, which were great
  blemishes in them; and, in other parts of this elaborate work, proves
  that those who lived in the first ages of the church, and were
  attached to their philosophy, were by this means, as he supposes, led
  aside from many great and important truths of the gospel; of this
  number Origen, Justin Martyr, and several others. And he further
  supposes, that what many of them advanced concerning the liberty of
  man’s will, as to what respects spiritual things, gave occasion to the
  Pelagians to propagate those doctrines that were subversive of the
  grace of God; and that the Arian and Samosatenan heresies took their
  rise from hence. See Part III. Book 2. chap. 1._

Footnote 76:

  The natural knowledge of God and his goodness, gives some
  encouragement to guilty creatures to repent of their sins, and to
  return to God by a general hope of acceptance, though they had no
  promise of pardoning grace. And this was the very principle upon which
  some of the better sort of the Gentiles set themselves to practise
  virtue, to worship God, and endeavour to become like him.

  I do not say, that natural religion can give sinful men a full and
  satisfying assurance of pardon upon their repentance; for the deepest
  degrees of penitence cannot oblige a prince to forgive the criminal:
  but still the overflowing goodness of God, his patience and
  long-suffering, notwithstanding their sins, may evidently and justly
  excite in their hearts some hope of forgiving grace: and I think the
  words of my text cannot intend less than this, that God has not left
  them without witness, when he gave them rain from heaven, when he
  satisfied their appetites with food, and filled their hearts with
  gladness. What was it that these benefits of their Creator bore
  witness to? Was it not that there was goodness and mercy to be found
  with him, if they would return to their duty, and abandon their own
  ways of idolatry and vice. Surely, it can never be supposed, that the
  apostle here means no more than to say, that the daily instances of
  divine bounty in the common comforts of life, assured them, that God
  had some goodness in him, and blessings to bestow on their bodies; but
  gave them no hope of his acceptance of their souls, if they should
  return and repent never so sincerely. The Ninevites themselves, when
  threatened with destruction, repented in sackcloth and ashes; for,
  said they, Who can tell but God will turn and repent, and turn away
  from his fierce anger, that we perish not? Nor were they mistaken in
  their hope, for God saw their works, that they turned from their evil
  way, and he repented of the evil that he had threatened, Jonah iii.
  5-10. And there is yet a more express text to this purpose, Rom. ii.
  4. Despisest thou the riches of his goodness, and forbearance, and
  long-suffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to
  repentance? And if God leads us to repentance, by a sense of his
  goodness, surely he gives hope that our repentance shall not be in
  vain: and though, perhaps, I could not affirm it with boldness, and
  certainty by the mere light of reason, yet I may venture to declare,
  upon the encouragement of these scriptures, that if there should be
  found any sinner in the heathen world, who should be thus far wrought
  upon by a sense of the goodness of God, as to be led sincerely to
  repent of sin, and seek after mercy, God would find a way to make a
  discovery of so much of the gospel, as was necessary for him to know,
  rather than such a penitent sinner should be left under condemnation,
  or that a guilty creature should go on to eternal death in the way of
  repentance. Cornelius the Centurion, who feared God, who prayed to him
  daily, and wrought righteousness, according to the light of his
  conscience, had both an angel and an apostle sent to him, that he
  might receive more complete instruction in the matters of his
  salvation. Acts x. 1-6. and from 30-35.“ Dr. Watts.

                             Quest. LXXVI.

    QUEST. LXXVI. _What is repentance unto life?_

    ANSW. Repentance unto life, is a saving grace, wrought in the heart
    of a sinner, by the Spirit and word of God; whereby, out of the
    sight and sense, not only of the danger, but also of the filth and
    odiousness of his sins, and upon the apprehension of God’s mercy in
    Christ, to such as are penitent, he so grieves for, and hates his
    sins, as that he turns from them all to God, purposing and
    endeavouring, constantly to walk with him in all the ways of new

In speaking to this answer we shall consider the subject of repentance,
_viz._ a sinful fallen creature; and that, though this be his condition,
yet he is naturally averse to the exercise thereof, till God is pleased
to bring him to it; which will lead us to consider, how the Spirit of
God does this; and what are the various acts and effects thereof.[222]

1. Concerning the subjects of repentance. No one can be said to repent
but a sinner; and therefore, whatever other graces might be exercised by
man in a state of innocency, or shall be exercised by him, when brought
to a state of perfection; yet there cannot, properly speaking, be any
room for repentance: some, indeed, have queried whether there shall be
repentance in heaven; but it may easily be determined, that though that
hatred of sin in general, and opposition to it, which is contained in
true repentance, be not inconsistent with a state of perfect
blessedness, as it is inseparably connected with perfection of holiness;
yet a sense of sin, which is afflictive, and is attended with grief and
sorrow of heart, for the guilt and consequences thereof, is altogether
inconsistent with a state of perfection; and these are some ingredients
in that repentance which comes under our present consideration.
Therefore we must conclude, that the subject of repentance is a sinner:

II. Though all sinners contract guilt, expose themselves to misery, and
will sooner or later be filled with distress and sorrow for what they
have done against God; yet many have no sense thereof at present, nor
repentance, or remorse for it. These are described as _past feeling_,
Eph. iv. 19. and _hardened through the deceitfulness of sin_, Heb. iii.
13. as obstinate, and having _their neck as an iron sinew, and their
brow as brass_, Isa. xlviii. 4. And there are several methods which they
take to ward off the force of convictions. Sometimes they are stupid,
and hardly give themselves the liberty to consider the difference that
there is between moral good and evil, or the natural obligation we are
under to pursue the one, and avoid the other. They consider not the
all-seeing eye of God, that observes all their actions, nor the power of
his anger, who will take vengeance on impenitent sinners; regard not the
various aggravations of sin, nor consider that God will, for those
things, bring them to judgment. So that impenitency is generally
attended with presumption; whereby the person concludes, though without
ground, that it shall go well with him in the end; such an one is
represented, as blessing himself in his heart, saying, _I shall have
peace, though I walk in the imagination_; or, as it is in the margin, in
the stubbornness _of mine heart, to add drunkenness to thirst_, Deut.
xxix. 19. Or if, on the other hand, he cannot but conclude, that with
God is terrible majesty, that he is a consuming fire, and that none ever
hardened themselves against him, and prospered, and if he does not fall
down before him with humble confession of sin, and repentance for it, he
will certainly be broken with his rod of iron, and dashed in pieces,
like the potter’s vessel, broken with a tempest, and utterly destroyed,
when his wrath is kindled; then he resolves, that some time or other he
will repent, but still delays and puts it off for a more convenient
season, and though God gives him space to do it, repenteth not, Rev. ii.
21. Thus he goes on in the greatness of his way, till God prevents him
with the blessings of his goodness, and brings him to repentance. And
this leads us to consider,

III. That repentance is God’s work; or, as it is observed in this
answer, wrought by the Spirit of God: whether we consider it as a common
or saving grace, it is the Spirit that convinces or reproves the world
of sin. If it be of the same kind with that which Pharaoh, Ahab, or
Judas had; it is a dread of God’s judgments, and his wrath breaking in
upon conscience, when he reproves for sin, and sets it in order before
their eyes, that excites it. If they are touched with a sense of guilt,
and hereby, for the present, stopped, or obliged to make a retreat, and
desist from pursuing their former methods, it is God, in the course of
his providence, that gives a check to them. But this comes short of that
repentance which is said to be unto life; or which is styled a saving
grace, which is wrought by the Spirit of God, as the beginning of that
saving work, which is a branch of sanctification, and shall end in
compleat salvation.

This is expressly styled in scripture, _repentance unto life_, Acts xi.
18. inasmuch as every one, who is favoured with it, shall obtain eternal
life; and it is connected with conversion and remission of sins, which
will certainly end in eternal salvation. Thus it is said, _Repent and be
converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of
refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord_, chap. iii. 9. and
for this reason it is called a saving grace, or a grace that accompanies
salvation, whereby it is distinguished from that repentance which some
have, who yet remain in a state of unregeneracy. And it is called,
_Repentance to salvation, not to be repented of_, 2 Cor. vii. 10. that
is, it shall issue well; and he shall, in the end, have reason to bless
God, and rejoice in his grace, that has made him partaker of it, who
thus repents.

IV. We shall now consider the instrument or means whereby the Spirit
works this grace.[77] Thus it is said to be wrought in the heart of a
sinner, by the word of God, as all other graces are, except
regeneration, as has been before observed: we must first suppose the
principle of grace implanted, and the word presenting motives, and
arguments leading to repentance; and then the understanding is
enlightened and disposed to receive what is therein imparted. The word
_calls sinners to repentance_, Matt. ix. 13. and therefore, when this
grace is wrought, we are not only turned by the power of God, but
_instructed_, Jer. xxxi. 19. by the Spirit’s setting home what is
contained therein whereby we are led into the knowledge of those things
which are necessary to repentance. As,

1. We have in the word a display of the holiness of the divine nature
and law, and our obligation in conformity thereunto, to the exercise of
holiness in heart and life, as God says, _Be ye holy, for I am holy_,
Lev. xi. 44. And to this we may add, that it contains a display of the
holiness of God in his threatenings, which he has denounced against
every transgression and disobedience, which shall receive a just
recompence of reward; and in all the instances of his punishing sin in
those who have exposed themselves thereunto, that hereby he might deter
men from it, and lead them to repentance: thus the apostle speaks of
_the law_ of God as _holy, and the commandment holy, just, and good_,
Rom. vii. 12, 13. and of its leading him into the knowledge of sin, by
which means it appeared to be sin, that is, opposite to an holy God,
and, as he expresses it, _became exceeding sinful_.

2. Hereby persons are led into themselves; and by comparing their hearts
and lives with the word of God, are enabled to see their own vileness
and want of conformity to the rule which he has given them, the
deceitfulness and desperate wickedness thereof, and what occasion there
is to abhor themselves, and repent in dust and ashes; thus the apostle,
in the place but now mentioned, speaks of himself as _once alive without
the law; but when the commandment came, sin revived and he died_, and
concludes himself to be _carnal, sold under sin_, Rom. vii. 9, 14. This
is a necessary means leading to repentance.

And we may farther add, that God not only makes use of the word, but of
his providences to answer this end; therefore he speaks of a sinning
people, _when carried away captive into the land of the enemy_, as
_bethinking_ themselves, and afterwards _repenting and making
supplication to him_ therein, 1 Kings viii. 46, 47. And we read of
sickness and bodily diseases as ordained by God, to bring persons to
repentance; thus Elihu speaks of a person’s being _chastened with pain
upon his bed, and the multitude of his bones with strong pain; his soul
drawing nigh to the grave, and his life to the destroyers_, Job xxxiii.
19, 27. and then represents the person thus chastened, and afterwards
recovered from his sickness, as acknowledging himself to _have sinned,
and perverted that which is right, and_ that _it profited him not_. And
the apostle speaks of _the goodness of God_ in the various dispensations
of his providence, as _leading to repentance_, Rom. ii. 4. But these
dispensations are always to be considered in conjunction with the word,
and as impressed on the conscience of men by the Spirit, in order to
their attaining this desirable end.

But that we may insist on this matter more particularly, we must take an
estimate of repentance, either as it is a common or special grace; in
both these respects it is from the Spirit, and wrought by the
instrumentality of the word, applied to the consciences of men; but
there is a vast difference between the one and the other in the
application of the word, as well as in the effects and consequences

(1.) In them who are brought under convictions, but not made partakers
of the saving grace of repentance; the Holy Spirit awakens, and fills
them with the terrors of God, and the dread of his vengeance, _by the
law_, by which _is the knowledge of sin_, and _all the world becomes
guilty before God_, Rom. iii. 20. compared with 19. These are what we
call legal convictions; whereby the wound is opened, but no healing
medicine applied: the sinner apprehends himself under a sentence of
condemnation, but at the same time cannot apply any promise which may
afford hope and relief to him; groans under his burden, and knows not
where to find ease or comfort, and dreads the consequence thereof, as
that which would sink him into hell; God appears to him as a consuming
fire, his arrows stick fast in his soul, the poison whereof drinketh up
his spirits; if he endeavours to shake off his fears, and to relieve
himself against his despairing thoughts, he is notwithstanding,
described, as being like the _troubled sea_, when it _cannot rest_,
which _casts forth mire and dirt_, Isa. lvii. 20. This is a most
afflictive case; concerning which it is said, that though _the spirit of
a man will sustain his infirmity_; _yet a wounded spirit who can bear_?
Prov. xviii. 14.

Thus it is with some when convinced of sin by the law: but there are
others who endeavour to quiet their consciences by using indirect
methods, thinking to make atonement for it, and by some instances of
external reformation, to make God amends, and thereby procure his
favour, but to no purpose; for _sin taking occasion, by the commandment,
works in them all manner of concupiscence_, Rom. vii. 8. And if they
grow stupid, which is oftentimes the consequence hereof, their sense of
sin is entirely lost, and their repentance ends in presumption, and a
great degree of boldness in the commission of all manner of wickedness.

(2.) We shall now consider how the Spirit works repentance unto life,
which is principally insisted on in this answer. This is said to be done
by the word of God; not by the law without the gospel, but by them both,
in which one is made subservient to the other. The law shews the soul
its sin, and the gospel directs him where he may find a remedy; one
wounds and the other heals; _the law enters_, as the apostle expresses
it, _that the offence might abound_, Rom. v. 20. but the gospel shews
him how _grace_ does _much more abound_, and where he may obtain
forgiveness, by which means he is kept from sinking under that weight of
guilt that lies on his conscience. And it leads him to hate and abstain
from sin, from those motives that are truly excellent; for which reason
it is called evangelical repentance.

Now that we may better understand the nature thereof, we shall consider;
how it differs from that which we before described, which arises only
from that conviction of sin, which is by the law, which a person may
have, who is destitute of this grace of repentance, which we are
speaking of. Repentance, of what kind soever it be, contains in it a
sense of sin: but if it be such a sense of sin, that the unregenerate
person may have, this includes little more in it than a sense of the
danger and misery which he has exposed himself to by sins committed. The
principal motives leading hereunto, are the threatenings which the law
of God denounces against those that violate it. Destruction from God is
a terror to him; if this were not the consequence of sin, he would be so
far from repenting of it, that it would be the object of his chief
delight. And that guilt, which he charges himself with, is principally
such, as arises from the commission of the most notorious crimes, which
expose him to the greatest degree of punishment: whereas, repentance
unto life brings a soul under a sense of the guilt of sin, as it is
contrary to the holy nature and law of God, which the least, as well as
the greatest sins, are opposed to, and contain a violation of. And
therefore he charges himself, not only with open sins, which are
detestable in the eyes of men; but secret sins, which others have little
or no sense of; sins of omission, as well as sins of commission; and he
is particularly affected with the sin of unbelief, inasmuch as it
contains a contempt of Christ, and the grace of the gospel. And he is
not only sensible of those sins which break forth in his life; but that
propensity of nature, whereby he is inclined to rebel against God; so
that this sense of guilt, in some respects, differs from that which they
are brought under, who are destitute of saving repentance.

But that in which they more especially differ is, in that saving
repentance contains in it a sense of the filth, and odious nature of
sin, and so considers it as defiling, or contrary to the holiness of
God, and rendering the soul worthy to be abhorred by him; so that as the
sense of guilt excites fear, and a dread of the wrath of God, this fills
him with shame, confusion of face, and self-abhorrence, which is
inseparably connected with the grace of repentance; accordingly these
are joined together, as Job says, _I abhor myself, and repent in dust
and ashes_, Job xlii. 6. or, as when God promises that he would bestow
this grace on his people, he says, _Then shall ye remember your own evil
ways, and your doings, that were not good, and shall loathe yourselves
in your own sight, for your iniquities, and for your abominations_,
Ezek. xxxvi. 31. As before this they set too high a value upon
themselves, and were ready to palliate and excuse their crimes, or
insist on their innocence, though their iniquity was written in legible
characters, as with a pen of iron, and the point of a diamond, and to
say with Ephraim, _In all my labour they shall find none iniquity in me
that were sin_, Hos. xii. 8. or, as the prophet Jeremiah says,
concerning a rebellious people, that _though in their skirts were found
the blood of the souls of the poor innocents_; yet they had the front to
say, _Because I am innocent, surely his anger shall turn from me_, Jer.
ii. 34, 35. Notwithstanding, when God brings them to repentance, and
heals their backslidings; they express themselves in a very different
way; _We lie down in our shame, and our confusion covers us; for we have
sinned against the Lord our God_, chap. iii. 25. Now this is such an
ingredient in true repentance, which is not to be found in that which
falls short of it: the sinner is afraid of punishment indeed, or, it may
be, he may be filled with shame, because of the reproach which attends
his vile and notorious crimes in the eyes of the world; yet he is not
ashamed, or confounded, as considering how vile he has rendered himself
hereby, in the eye of an holy God.

There is another thing which is farther observed in this answer, which
is an ingredient in repentance unto life, in which respect it is
connected with faith, inasmuch as he apprehends the mercy of God in
Christ to such as are penitent; and this effectually secures him from
that despair which sometimes attends a legal repentance, as was before
observed, as well as affords him relief against the sense of guilt with
which this grace is attended. The difference between legal and
evangelical repentance, does not so much consist in that one represents
sin, as more aggravated; nor does it induce him that thus repents, to
think himself a greater sinner than the other; for the true penitent is
ready to confess himself the chief of sinners. He is far from
extenuating his sin, being ready, on all occasions, to charge himself
with more guilt than others are generally sensible of: but that which he
depends upon as his only comfort and support is the mercy of God in
Christ, or the consideration that there is forgiveness with him, that he
may be feared; this is that which affords the principal motive and
encouragement to repentance, and has a tendency to excite the various
acts thereof; which leads us to consider,

V. What are the various acts of this repentance unto life; or what are
the fruits and effects produced thereby.

1. The soul is filled with hatred of sin. When he looks back on his past
life, he bewails what cannot now be avoided; charges himself with folly
and madness, and wishes (though this be to no purpose) that he had done
many things which he has omitted, and avoided those sins, together with
the occasions thereof, which he has committed, the guilt whereof lies
with great weight upon him. How glad would he be if lost seasons and
opportunities of grace might be recalled, and the talents, that were
once put into his hand, though misimproved, regained! But all these
wishes are in vain. However, these are the after-thoughts which will
arise in the minds of those who are brought under a sense of sin. Sin
wounds the soul; the Spirit of God, when convincing thereof, opens the
wound, and causes a person to feel the smart of it, and gives him to
know, that _it is an evil thing, and bitter, that he has forsaken the
Lord his God_, Jer. ii. 19. This sometimes depresses the spirits, and
causes him to walk softly, to _set alone and keep silence_, Lam. iii.
28. being filled with that uneasiness which is very afflictive to him.
At other times it gives vent to itself in tears, as the Psalmist
expresses it, _I am weary with my groaning, all the night make I my bed
to swim; I water my couch with my tears_, Psal. vi. 6. In this case the
only thing that gives him relief or comfort is, that the guilt of sin is
removed by the blood of Christ, which tends to quiet his spirit, which
would otherwise be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow.

And to this we may add, that sin is always the object of his
detestation, even when there is an abatement of that grief, which, by
the divine supports and comforts he is fenced against: he hates sin, not
barely because of the sad consequences thereof, but as it is in itself
the object of abhorrence; and therefore his heart is set against all
sin, as the Psalmist says, _I hate every false way_, Psal. cxix. 104.
This hatred discovers itself by putting him upon flying from it,
together with all the occasions thereof, or incentives to it. He not
only abstains from those sins which they who have little more than the
remains of moral virtue are ashamed of, and afraid to commit, but hates
every thing that has in it the appearance of sin, and this hatred is
irreconcileable. As forgiveness does not make sin less odious in its own
nature, so the experience that he has of the grace of God herein, or
whatever measures of peace he enjoys, whereby his grief and sorrow is
assuaged, yet still his hatred of it not only remains, but increases:
and, as the consequence hereof,

2. He turns from sin unto God; he first hates sin, and then flies from
it, as seeing it to be the spring of all his grief and fears, that which
separates between him and his God. Thus Ephraim, when brought to
repentance, is represented as saying, _What have I to do any more with
idols_, Hos. xiv. 8. reflecting on his past conduct, when addicted to
them, with a kind of indignation; so the true penitent, who has hitherto
been walking in those paths that lead to death and destruction, now
enquires after the way of holiness, and the paths of peace; as he has
hitherto walked contrary to God, now he desires to walk with him; and
having wearied himself in the greatness of his way, and seeing no fruit
in those things whereof he is now ashamed; and being brought into the
utmost straits, he determines to return to his God and Father. And in
doing this he purposes and endeavours to walk with him in all the ways
of new obedience, as the apostle exhorts those who had received good by
his ministry, that _with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the
Lord_, Acts xi. 23. This purpose is not like those hasty resolutions
which unconverted sinners make when God is hedging up their way with
thorns, and they are under the most distressing apprehensions of his
wrath. Then they say as the people did to Joshua, _We will serve the
Lord_, Josh. xxiv. 22. though they are not sensible how difficult it is
to fulfil the engagements which they lay themselves under, nor of the
deceitfulness of their own hearts, and the need they stand in of grace
from God, to enable them so to do. This purpose to walk with God, does
not so much respect what a person will do hereafter; but it contains a
resolution which is immediately put in execution, and so is opposed to
his former obstinacy, when determining to go on in the way of his own
heart. Thus the prodigal son, in the parable, no sooner resolved that he
would _arise and go to his Father_, Luke xv. 18, compared with 20. but
he arose and went. True repentance is always attended with endeavours
after new obedience, so that a person lays aside that sloth and
indolence which was inconsistent with his setting a due value on, or
improving the means of grace; and, as the result hereof, he now exerts
himself, with all his might, in pursuing after those things, whereby he
may approve himself God’s faithful servant; and hereby he discovers the
sincerity of his repentance; which he does, or rather is enabled to do,
by that grace, which at first began, and then carries on this work in
the soul, whereby he _has his fruit unto holiness, and the end_ thereof
_everlasting life_, Rom. vi. 22.

From what has been said concerning repentance, we may infer,

(1.) That since it is a grace that accompanies salvation, and
consequently is absolutely necessary thereunto, it is an instance of
unwarrantable and bold presumption, for impenitent sinners to expect,
that they shall be made partakers of the benefits which Christ has
purchased, while they continue in a state of enmity, opposition, and
rebellion against him; or that they shall be saved by him in their sins,
without being saved from them; for _he that covereth his sins shall not
prosper; but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them, shall have mercy_,
Prov. xxviii. 13.

(2.) Since repentance is the work of the Spirit, and his gift, we infer,
that whatever endeavours we are obliged to use, or whatever motives or
inducements are given to lead us hereunto, we must not conclude, that it
is in our own power to repent when we please; and therefore it should be
the matter of our earnest and constant prayer to God, that he would turn
our hearts, give us a true sight and sense of sin, accompanied with
faith in Christ, as Ephraim is represented, saying, _Turn thou me, and I
shall be turned_, Jer. xxxi. 18.

(3.) Let not those that have a distressing sense of their former sins,
how great soever they have been, give way to despairing thoughts; but
lay hold on the mercy of God in Christ, extended to the chief of
sinners, and improve it to encourage them to hate sin, and forsake it
from evangelical motives, which will have a tendency to remove their
fears while they look on God, not as a sin-revenging Judge, but a
reconciled Father, ready and willing to receive those who return to him
with unfeigned repentance.

(4.) Since we daily commit sin, it follows from hence, that we stand in
need of daily repentance: and this being a branch of sanctification, as
sanctification is a progressive work, so is repentance. We are not to
expect that sin should be wholly extirpated, while we are in this
imperfect state; and therefore it is constantly to be bewailed, and, by
the grace of God working effectually in us, avoided; that, as the result
hereof, we may have a comfortable hope that that promise shall be
fulfilled, _They that sow in tears shall reap in joy_, Psal. cxxvi. 5.

Footnote 222:

  It has been, perhaps correctly, asserted that repentance is neither a
  duty discoverable by the law of nature, nor the written law of God;
  because it is unfit, that a law, appointing death for the violation of
  its precept, should also discover to the culprit a way of escape from
  its own penalty incurred.

  But there existed purposes of mercy before the law was made; these
  have been revealed by a gracious Sovereign; the condition of men, as
  prisoners of hope possessing competent evidence of the compassion of
  the Lawgiver, points to repentance. Sacrifices in former ages discover
  not only a consciousness of guilt, but a glimmering hope at least, of
  pardon. It is possible that these were the offspring of tradition
  among the Gentiles, rather than the deductions of the light of nature.
  But in either way, sorrow for sin is a duty founded on the will of

  It is therefore a duty, perfectly reasonable, and expressly revealed
  on the sacred page. The strength to perform it is from the King of
  Providence and Grace.

  There is necessary in its production a discovery of guilt, liability
  to misery, and entire helplessness. The general belief, or profession
  of these truths, does not prove in event to be a cause adequate to
  produce a total change in a man’s views, pursuits, desires, aversions,
  labours, joys, and sorrows. There is necessary some deep sense, or
  strong conviction of guilt. This, with respect to its proximate cause,
  may originate in various ways; by reflecting on the Divine Sovereignty
  and Majesty; by a solemn contemplation of the excellency and
  loveliness of the moral perfection of Deity; by an affecting sight of
  his goodness and mercy to the individual in particular; by attending
  to the awful subject of Divine Justice, seen in the sufferings of
  Christ, or anticipated in the future judgment, and final sufferings of
  the damned. Such convictions are produced in great mercy to the
  individual, how dearly soever they cost him, whether the prostrated
  idols, on which the sensual affections were fastened, were companions,
  friends, relations, honour or wealth. Disease, approaching death, or
  any thing which shall dissolve the unhallowed attachment to earth, may
  by the Divine blessing produce this change, the glory of which will
  always really belong to Divine grace, which works unseen.

  The bitterness of such sorrows is sometimes extreme, when he who
  wounded alone can cure. The effects of it are subsequently salutary,
  both to deter from sin and to strengthen the party’s faith.

  The degrees of penitential sorrow are extremely various in different
  converts. He who has been convinced of gospel truths step by step, and
  has been in the same manner brought to the love and fear of God, and
  to a universal conscientiousness, may have grounds of peace and
  comfort equally safe, as he whose convictions have been the most
  sensible; for not their height but their fruits prove them to be

Footnote 77:

  Grace here is put for repentance, and not the immediate influence on
  the soul.

                             Quest. LXXVII.

    QUEST. LXXVII. _Wherein do justification and sanctification differ?_

    ANSW. Although sanctification be inseparably joined with
    justification; yet they differ, in that God in justification,
    imputeth the righteousness of Christ, in sanctification his Spirit
    infuseth grace, and enableth to the exercise thereof; in the former
    sin is pardoned, in the other it is subdued; the one doth equally
    free all believers from the revenging wrath of God, and that
    perfectly in this life, that they never fall into condemnation, the
    other is neither equal in all, nor in this life perfect in any, but
    growing up to perfection.

This answer being principally a recapitulation of what is contained in
those that have been already insisted on, wherein the doctrine of
justification and sanctification are particularly explained, we shall
not much enlarge on it; but since there are some who suppose that one of
these graces may be attained without the other; and others confound
them, as though to be justified and to be sanctified implied the same
thing; we shall briefly consider,

I. That which is supposed in this answer, namely, that sanctification
and justification are inseparably joined together; and accordingly, no
one has a warrant to claim one without the other: This appears in that
they are graces that accompany salvation. When the apostle connects
justification and effectual calling together, in the golden chain of our
salvation, Rom. viii. 30. he includes sanctification in this calling.
And elsewhere, when Christ is said to be _made righteousness and
redemption_ to us for our justification, he is, at the same time, said
to be made _wisdom and sanctification_, 1 Cor. i. 31. and we are said to
be _saved by the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy
Ghost_, Tit. iii. 5. which is the beginning of the work of
sanctification; _that being justified by his grace, we should be made
heirs according to the hope of eternal life_; and speaking of some who
were once great sinners, and afterwards made true believers, he says,
concerning them, that they were _washed, sanctified, and justified in
the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God_, 1 Cor. vi.
11. And when God promises to pardon and _pass by the transgression of
the remnant of his heritage_, Micah vii. 18, 19. he also gives them
ground to expect that he would _subdue their iniquities_; the former is
done in justification, the latter in sanctification.

From the connexion that there is between justification and
sanctification, we infer: that no one has ground to conclude that his
sins are pardoned, and that he shall be saved while he is in an
unsanctified state; for as this tends to turn the grace of God into
wantonness, so it separates what he has joined together, and it is a
certain evidence that they who thus divide them, are neither justified
nor sanctified. Let us therefore give diligence to evince the truth of
our justification, by our sanctification, or that we have a right and
title to Christ’s righteousness, by the life of faith, and the exercise
of all those other graces that accompany or flow from it.

II. We have, in this answer, an account of some things in which
justification and sanctification differ, as,

1. In justification God imputes the righteousness of Christ to us;
whereas, in sanctification the Spirit infuseth grace, and enableth to
the exercise thereof. What it is for God to impute Christ’s
righteousness hath been before considered; the only thing that we shall
now observe is, that the righteousness whereby we are justified, is,
without us, wrought out by Christ, for us; so that it is _by his
obedience_, as the apostle expresses it, that _we are made righteous_,
Rom. v. 19. and that which Christ did as our Surety, is placed to our
account, and accepted by the justice of God, as though it had been done
by us, as has been before observed: Whereas, in sanctification, the
graces of the Spirit are wrought and excited in us, we are denominated
holy, and our right to eternal life is evinced, though not procured.

2. In justification sin is pardoned, in sanctification it is subdued;
the former takes away the guilt thereof, the latter its reigning power.
Where sin is pardoned, it shall not be our ruin; but yet it gives us
daily disturbance and uneasiness, makes work for repentance, and is to
be opposed by our dying to it, and living to righteousness. This is
therefore sufficiently distinguished from justification, which is also
to be considered as a motive or inducement leading to it.

3. They differ, in that justification equally frees all believers from
the avenging wrath of God, in which respect it is perfect in this life,
so that a justified person shall never fall into condemnation; whereas,
the work of sanctification is not equal in all, nor perfect in this
life, but growing up to perfection. For the understanding of which, let
us consider, that when we speak of justification as perfect in this
life, or say, that all are equally justified, we mean, that where God
forgives one sin, he forgives all; so that _there is no condemnation to
them which are in Christ Jesus_, as the apostle says, chap. viii. 1. and
he adds, _Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? it is
God that justifieth; who is he that condemneth? it is Christ that died_,
ver. 33, 34. Were it not so, a person might be said to be justified, and
not have a right to eternal life, which implies a contradiction; for
though he might be acquitted, as to the guilt charged upon him by one
indictment, he would be condemned by that which is contained in another.

We may from hence infer, that all justified persons have an equal right
to conclude themselves discharged from guilt, and the condemning
sentence of the law of God; though all cannot see their right to claim
this privilege by reason of the weakness of their faith. As for
sanctification, that, on the other hand, is far from being equal in all;
since the best of believers have reason to complain of the weakness of
their faith, and the imperfection of all other graces which are wrought
in them by the Spirit. If it be enquired from whence this imperfection
of sanctification arises, that is the subject of the following answer.

                            Quest. LXXVIII.

    QUEST. LXXVIII. _Whence ariseth the imperfection of sanctification
    in believers?_

    ANSW. The imperfection of sanctification in believers, ariseth from
    the remains of sin abiding in every part of them, and the perpetual
    lustings of the flesh against the spirit, whereby they are often
    foiled with temptations, and fall into many sins, are hindered in
    all their spiritual services, and their best works are imperfect and
    defiled in the sight of God.

In this answer we may consider,

I. That there is something supposed, namely, that the work of
sanctification is imperfect in this life, or that there are the remnants
of sin still abiding in the best of men.

II. In what the imperfection of sanctification more especially discovers
itself; and in particular, what we are to understand by the lusting of
the flesh against the Spirit. And,

III. The consequences hereof, to wit, their being foiled with
temptations, falling into many sins, and being hindered in their
spiritual services.

1. As to the thing supposed in this answer, that the work of
sanctification is imperfect in this life: This must be allowed by all
who are not strangers to themselves, as it is said, _There is not a just
man upon the earth that doth good and sinneth not_, Eccl. vii. 20. fine
gold is not without a mixture of some baser metal, or alloy; even so our
best frames of spirit, when we think ourselves nearest heaven, or when
we have most communion with God, are not without a tincture of
indwelling sin, that is easy to be discerned in us. Whatever grace we
exercise, there are some defects attending it, either with respect to
the manner of its exerting itself, or the degree thereof; therefore
perfection, how desirable soever it be, is a blessing which we cannot,
at present, attain to: And if it be thus with us, when at the best, we
shall find, that at other times, corrupt nature not only discovers
itself, but gives us great interruption and disturbance, so that the
work of sanctification seems to be, as it were, at a stand, and we are
hereby induced to question the truth and sincerity of our graces; and
if, notwithstanding this, we have sufficient ground to conclude, that
our hearts are right with God; yet we are obliged to say with the
apostle, that we are _carnal, sold under sin_; and that, _when we would
do good, evil is present with us_, Rom. vii. 14. compared with 21. which
is an undeniable argument of the imperfection of the work of

The contrary opinion to this is maintained by many who pretend that
perfection is attainable in this life; and to give countenance hereunto,
they refer to some scriptures, in which persons are characterized as
_perfect_ men; and others wherein perfection is represented as a duty
incumbent on us; as our Saviour says, _Be ye perfect, even as your
Father which is in heaven is perfect_, Matt. v. 48. and the apostle, in
his valedictory exhortation to the church, advises them to _be perfect_,
as well as _of one mind_; as they expected that the God of love and
peace should be with them, 2 Cor. xiii. 11.

But to this it may be replied, that these scriptures do not speak of a
sinless perfection, but of such a perfection as is opposed to hypocrisy;
as Hezekiah says concerning himself, that he had _walked before the Lord
in truth, and with a perfect heart_, Isa. xxxviii. 3. Accordingly, the
perfection of those who are thus described in scripture, is explained as
denoting their uprightness. Thus Job is described, as _a perfect and
upright man, one that feared God and eschewed evil_, Job i. 1. compared
with 8. though he elsewhere disclaims any pretensions to a sinless
perfection; as he expresses himself, _If I say I am perfect, mine own
mouth shall prove me perverse_, chap. ix. 20. And when Noah is said to
be _perfect in his generation_, this is explained as denoting that he
was a _just_ or an _holy man_, and one that _walked with God_, Gen. vi.

As for other scriptures, which speak of perfection as a duty incumbent
on us, they are to be understood concerning the perfection of grace, as
to those essential parts thereof, without which it could not be
denominated true and genuine, and not as respecting a perfection of
degrees. True grace is perfect indeed, as it contains in it those
necessary ingredients, whereby an action is denominated good in all its
circumstances, in opposition to that which is so, only in some respects;
and therefore it must proceed from a good principle, an heart renewed by
regenerating grace; it must be agreeable to the rule which God has
prescribed in the gospel, and be performed in a right manner, and for
right ends: Thus a person may be said to be a perfect man, in like
manner as a new-born infant is denominated a man, as having all the
essential perfections of the human nature; though not arrived to that
perfection, in other respects, which it shall afterwards attain to:
Accordingly grace, when described, in scripture, as perfect, is
sometimes explained as alluding to a metaphor, taken from a state of
perfect manhood, in opposition to that of children: Thus the apostle
speaks of some, whom he represents, _as being of full age_; where the
same word is used[223], which is elsewhere rendered _perfect_; and these
are opposed to others whom he had before been speaking of, as weak
believers, or _babes_ in Christ; Heb., v. 13, 14. And elsewhere he
speaks of the church, which he styles the _body of Christ_, as arrived
to a state of manhood, and so calls it a perfect man; having attained
_the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ_; still alluding to
that stature which persons arrive to when they are adult; and these he
opposes in the following words, to children, who, through the weakness
of their faith, were liable to be _tossed to and fro, and carried about
with every wind of doctrine_, Eph. iv. 13, 14. And in other places,
where Christians are described as perfect, there is a word used, which
signifies their having that internal furniture whereby they are prepared
or disposed to do what is good: Thus the apostle speaks of _the man of
God_ being _perfect_[78], that is, _throughly furnished unto all good
works_, 2 Tim. iii. 17. And elsewhere he prays, for those to whom he
writes, that God would _make them perfect in_, or for _every good work_,
to the end _that they may do his will_[79], which is such a perfection
as is necessary to our putting forth any act of grace; and therefore it
does not in the least infer that perfection which they plead for, whom
we are now opposing.

And, indeed, it is not barely the sense they give of those scriptures
that speak of persons being perfect, which they cannot but suppose may
be otherwise understood, that gives them occasion to defend this
doctrine; but the main thing on which it is founded, is, that God does
not require sinless perfection of fallen man, inasmuch as that is
impossible; and therefore he calls that perfection, which includes in it
our using those endeavours to lead a good life, which are in our own
power. This is agreeable to the Pelagian scheme, and to that which the
Papists maintain, who make farther advances on the Pelagian hypothesis;
and assert, not only that men may attain perfection in this life, but
that they may arrive to such a degree thereof, as exceeds the demands of
the law, and perform works of supererogation; which doctrine is
calculated to establish that of justification by works.

But that which may be alleged in opposition hereunto, is, that it is
disagreeable to the divine perfections, and a notorious making void the
law of God, to assert that our obligation to yield perfect obedience,
ceases, because we have lost our power to perform it; as though a
person’s being insolvent, were a sufficient excuse for his not paying a
just debt. We must distinguish between God’s demanding perfect
obedience, as an out-standing debt, which is consistent with the glory
of his holiness and sovereignty, as a law-giver; and his determining
that we shall not be saved, unless we perform it in our own persons: and
we also distinguish between his connecting a right to eternal life with
our performing perfect obedience, as what he might justly insist on
according to the tenor of the first covenant, as our Saviour tells the
young man in the gospel, _If thou wilt enter into life keep the
commandments_, Matt. xix. 16. and his resolving that we shall not be
saved, unless we are able to perform it. The gospel purposes another
expedient, namely, that they who were obliged to yield perfect
obedience, and ought to be humbled for their inability to perform it,
should depend on Christ’s righteousness, which is the foundation of
their right to eternal life, in which respect they are said to be
perfect, or _compleat in him_, Col. ii. 10. which is the only just
notion of perfection, as attainable in this life: and, to conclude this
head, it is very unreasonable for a person to suppose that God will
abate some part of the debt of perfect obedience, and so to call our
performing those works, which have many imperfections adhering to them,
a state of perfection, which is to make it an easier matter to be a
Christian than God has made it. Thus concerning the thing supposed in
this answer, _viz._ that the work of sanctification is imperfect in this

But before we dismiss this head, we shall enquire, why God does not
bring this work to perfection at once, which he could easily have done,
and, as it is certain, will do, when he brings the soul to heaven. In
answer to which, we shall consider in general, that it is not meet for
us to say unto God, Why dost thou thus? especially considering that
this, as well as many of his other works, is designed to display the
glory of his sovereignty, which very eminently appears in the beginning,
carrying on, and perfecting the work of grace: we may as well ask the
reason, why he did not begin the work of sanctification sooner? or, why
he makes use of this or that instrument, or means, to effect it rather
than another? which things are to be resolved into his own pleasure: but
since it is evident that he does not bring this work to perfection in
this world, we may adore his wisdom herein, as well as his sovereignty.

1. Hereby he gives his people occasion to exercise repentance and godly
sorrow for their former sins committed before they were converted.
Perfect holiness would admit of no occasion to bring past sins to
remembrance; whereas, when we sin daily, and have daily need of the
exercise of repentance and godly sorrow, this gives us a more sensible
view of past sins. When corrupt nature discovers itself in those that
are converted, they take occasion hereby to consider how they have been
transgressors from the womb; as David, when he repented of his sin in
the matter of Uriah, at the same time that he aggravated the guilt of
his crime, as it justly deserved, he calls to mind his former sins, from
his very infancy, and charges that guilt upon himself which he brought
into the world; _Behold I was shapen in iniquity, and in sin did my
mother conceive me_, Psal. li. 5. And when Job considers God’s
afflictive providences towards him, as designed to bring sin to
remembrance, and desires that he would _make him to know his
transgression and his sin_; he adds, _Thou writest bitter things against
me, and makest me to possess the iniquities of my youth_, Job. xiii. 23,
26. sins committed after conversion were brought to mind, and ordered as
a means to humble him for those that were committed before it. As for
sins committed before conversion, they could not, at that time, be said
truly to be repented of, since that would be to suppose the grace of
repentance antecedent to conversion; therefore if the work of
sanctification were to be immediately brought to perfection, this
perfect holiness would be as much attended with perfect happiness, as it
is in heaven, and consequently godly sorrow would be no more exercised
on earth, than it is there; whereas God, in ordering the gradual
progress of the work of sanctification, attended with the remainders of
sin, gives occasion to many humbling reflections, tending to excite
unfeigned repentance, not only for those sins committed after they had
experienced the grace of God; but for those great lengths they ran in
sin before they had tasted that the Lord was gracious; and therefore he
does not bring the work of sanctification to perfection in this present

2. Another reason of this dispensation of providence, is, that
believers, from their own experience of the breakings forth of
corruption, together with the guilt they contract thereby, and the
advantage they receive in gaining any victory over it, may be furnished
to administer suitable advice, and give warning to those who are in a
state of unregeneracy, that they may be persuaded to see the evil of
sin, which, at present, they do not.

3. God farther orders this, that he may give occasion to his people to
exercise a daily conflict with indwelling sin. He suffers it to give
them great disturbance and uneasiness, that hereby they may be induced
to endeavour to mortify it, and be found in the exercise of those graces
which are adapted to an imperfect state, such as cannot be exercised in
heaven; nor could they be exercised here on earth, were they to be
brought into and remain while here in a sinless state; particularly
there could not be any acts of faith, in managing that conflict, whereby
they endeavour to stand their ground while exposed to those difficulties
that arise from the perpetual lustings of the flesh against the spirit;
which leads us to consider,

II. In what the imperfection of sanctification more especially discovers
itself. This it does, not only in the weakness of every grace, which we
are at any time enabled to act; and the many failures we are chargeable
with in the performance of every duty incumbent upon us; so that if an
exact scrutiny were made into our best actions, and they weighed in the
balance, they would be found very defective; as appears from what has
been said under the foregoing head, concerning perfection, as not
attainable in this life.

But this more particularly appears, as it is observed in this answer,
from the perpetual lustings of the flesh against the spirit. Thus the
apostle speaks of, _the flesh lusting against the spirit, and the spirit
against the flesh_, Gal. v. 19. and so of the contrariety of the one to
the other; _so that we cannot do the things that we would_, and points
out himself as an instance hereof, when he says, _I know that in me,
that is, in my flesh, dwelleth no good thing; for to will is present
with me, but how to perform that which is good, I find not; the good
that I would I do not, but the evil which I would not, that I do_, Rom.
vii. 18-23. and this reluctancy and opposition to what is good, he lays
to the charge of sin that dwelt in him, which he considers as having, as
it were, the force of a law; and in particular he styles it _the law of
his members warring against the law of his mind_, which is the same
thing with the lusting of the flesh, against the spirit: so that from
hence it appears, that when God implants a principle of grace in
regeneration, and carries on the work of sanctification in believers, he
does not wholly destroy, or root out those habits of sin which were in
the soul before this, but enables us to militate against, and overcome
them by his implanting and exciting a principle of grace; and from hence
arises this conflict that we are to consider.

Indwelling sin is constantly opposing; but it does not always prevail
against the principle of grace. The event or success of this combat is
various, at different times. When corrupt nature prevails, the principle
of grace, though not wholly extinguished, remains unactive, or does not
exert itself, as at other times; all grace becomes languid, and there
appears but little difference between him and an unbeliever; he falls
into very great sins, whereby he wounds his own conscience, grieves the
holy Spirit, and makes sad work for a bitter repentance, which will
afterwards ensue: but inasmuch as the principle of spiritual life and
grace is not wholly lost, it will some time or other be excited, and
then will oppose, and maintain its ground against, the flesh, or the
corruption of nature; and, as the consequence hereof, those acts of
grace will be again put forth, which were before suspended.

Having thus given an account of the conflict between indwelling sin and
grace, we shall now more particularly shew, how the habits of sin exert
themselves in those who are unregenerate, where there is no principle of
grace to oppose them. And then, how they exert themselves in believers;
and what opposition is made thereunto by the principle of grace in them;
and how it comes to pass that sometimes one prevails, at other times the

1. We shall consider those violent efforts that are made by corrupt
nature, in those who are unregenerate, in whom, though there be no
principle of grace to enable them to withstand them; yet they have a
conflict in their own spirits. There is something in nature, that, for a
time, keeps them from complying with temptations to the greatest sins;
though the flesh, or that propensity that is in them to sin, will
prevail at last, and lead them from one degree of impiety to another,
unless prevented by the grace of God. In this case the conflict is
between corrupt nature and an enlightened conscience; and that more
especially in those who have had the advantage of a religious education,
and the good example of some whom they have conversed with, whereby they
have contracted some habits of moral virtue, which are not immediately
extinguished: it is not an easy matter to persuade them to commit those
gross, and scandalous sins, which others, whose minds are blinded, and
their hearts hardened to a greater degree by the deceitfulness of sin,
commit with greediness and without remorse. The principles of education
are not immediately broken through; for in this case men meet with a
great struggle in their own breasts, before they entirely lose them; and
they proceed, by various steps, from one degree of wickedness unto
another[80]. A breach is first made in the fence, and afterwards widened
by a continuance in the same sins, or committing new ones, especially
such as have in them a greater degree of presumption. And this disposes
the soul to comply with temptations to greater sins; whereas, it would
be to no purpose to tempt him at first, to be openly profane, blaspheme
the name of God, or cast off all external acts of religion, and abandon
himself to those immoralities which the most notoriously wicked, and
profligate sinners commit, without shame, till he has paved the way to
them by the commission of other sins that lead thereunto.

That which at first prevents or restrains him from the commission of
them, is something short of a principle of grace which we call the
dictates of a natural conscience, which often checks and reproves him:
his natural temper or disposition is not so far vitiated, at present as
to allow of, or incline him to pursue any thing that is openly vile and
scandalous; he abhors, and, as it were, trembles at the thoughts of it.
Thus when the prophet Elisha told Hazael of all the evil that he would
do unto the children of Israel, that he would _set their strong holds on
fire, slay their young men with a sword, dash their children, and rip up
their women with child_; when he heard this, he entertained the thought
with a kind of abhorrence, and said, _But what, is thy servant a dog,
that he should do this great thing_, 2 Kings viii. 12, 13. Yet
afterwards, when king of Syria, we find him of another mind; for he was
a greater scourge to the people of God than any of the neighbouring
princes, and _smote them in all the coasts of Israel_, chap. x. 32.

Now that which prevents these greater sins, is generally fear or shame;
their consciences terrify them with the thoughts of the wrath of God,
which they would hereby expose themselves to; or they are apprehensive
that such a course of life would blast their reputation amongst men, and
be altogether inconsistent with that form of godliness which they have
had a liking to from their childhood. But since these restraints do not
proceed from the internal and powerful influence of regenerating grace,
being excited by lower motives than those which the Spirit of God
suggests, in them who are converted; since natural conscience is the
main thing that restrains them, corrupt nature first endeavours to
counteract the dictates thereof, and, by degrees, gets the mastery over
them. When conscience reproves them, they first offer a bribe to it, by
performing some moral duties, to silence its accusations for
presumptuous sins, and pretend that their crimes fall short of those
committed by many others; at other times they complain of its being too
strict in its demands of duty, or severe in its reproofs for sin. And if
all this will not prevail against it, but it will, notwithstanding,
perform the office of a faithful reprover, then the sinner resolves to
stop his ears against convictions; and if this will not altogether
prevent his being made uneasy thereby, he betakes himself to those
diversions that may give another turn to his thoughts, and will not
allow himself time for serious reflection; and associates himself with
those whose conversation will effectually tend to extinguish all his
former impressions of moral virtue; and by this means, at last he
stupifies his conscience, and it becomes, as the apostle expresses it,
_seared with a hot iron_, 1 Tim. iv. 2. and so he gets, as I may express
it, a fatal victory over himself; and from that time meets with no
reluctancy or opposition in his own breast, while _being past feeling,
he gives himself over unto lasciviousness, to work uncleanness_, and all
manner of _iniquity with greediness_, Eph. iv. 19. which leads us to

2. That conflict which is between the flesh and spirit, in those in whom
the work of sanctification is begun. Here we shall first observe, the
lustings of the flesh; and then the opposition that it meets with from
that principle of grace which is implanted and excited in them, which is
called the lusting of the spirit against it.

(1.) How corrupt nature exerts itself in believers, to prevent the
actings of grace. Here it may be observed,

[1.] That that which gives occasion to this, is the Spirit’s withdrawing
his powerful influences, which, when the soul is favoured with, have a
tendency to prevent those pernicious consequences which will otherwise
ensue. And God withdraws these powerful influences sometimes in a way of
sovereignty, to shew him that it is not in his own power to avoid sin
when he will; or that he cannot, without the aids of his grace,
withstand those temptations which are offered to him to commit it. Or
else, he does this with a design to let him know what is in his heart;
and that he might take occasion to humble him for past sins, or present
miscarriages, and make him more watchful for the future.

[2.] Besides this, there are some things which present themselves in an
objective way, which are as so many snares laid to entangle him. And
corrupt nature makes a bad improvement thereof, so that his natural
constitution is more and more vitiated by giving way to sin, and defiled
by the remainders of sin that dwelleth in him. The temptation is
generally adapted to the corrupt inclination of his nature, and Satan
has a hand therein. Thus if his natural temper inclines him to be proud
or ambitious, then immediately the honours and applause of the world are
presented to him; and he never wants examples of those, who, in an
unlawful way, have gained a great measure of esteem in the world, and
made themselves considerable in the stations in which they have been
placed: if he is naturally addicted to pleasures, of what kind soever
they be, then something is offered that is agreeable to corrupt nature,
which seems delightful to it; though it be in itself, sinful: if he be
more than ordinarily addicted to covetousness, then the profits and
advantages of the world are presented as a bait to corrupt nature, and
groundless fears raised in him, of being reduced to poverty, which, by
an immoderate pursuit after the world, he is tempted to fence against.
Moreover, if his natural constitution inclines him to resent injuries,
then Satan has always his instruments ready at hand to stir up his
corruption, and provoke him to wrath, by offering either real or
supposed injuries; magnifying the former beyond their due bounds, or
inferring the latter without duly considering the design of those whose
innocent behaviour sometimes gives occasion hereunto, and, at the same
time, overcharging his thoughts with them, as though no expedient can be
found to atone for them. Again, if his natural constitution inclines him
to sloth and inactivity, then the difficulties of religion are set
before him, to discourage him from the exercise of that diligence which
is necessary to surmount them. And if, on the other hand, his natural
temper leads him to be courageous and resolute, then corrupt nature
endeavours to make him self-confident, and thereby to weaken his trust
in God. Or if he be naturally inclined to fear, then something is
offered to him, that may tend to his discouragement, and to sink him
into despair. These are the methods used by the flesh, when lusting
against the spirit; which leads us to consider,

(2.) The opposition of the spirit to the flesh; or how the principle of
grace in believers inclines them to make a stand against indwelling sin,
which is called the lusting of the spirit against the flesh. The grace
of God, when wrought in the heart in regeneration, is not an unactive
principle; for it soon exerts itself, as being excited by the power of
the Spirit, who implanted it; and from that time there is, or ought to
be, a constant opposition made by it to corrupt nature; and that, not
only as the soul, with unfeigned repentance, mourns for it, and
exercises that self-abhorrence which the too great prevalence thereof
calls for; but as it leads him to implore help from God, against it, by
whose assistance he endeavours to subdue the corrupt motions of the
flesh; or, as the apostle expresses it, to _mortify the deeds of the
body_, Rom. viii. 13. that by this means they may not be entertained, or
prove injurious and destructive to him.

And inasmuch as there is something objective, as well as subjective, in
this work; since the power of God never excites the principle of grace
without presenting objects for it to be conversant about, there are
several things suggested to the soul, which, if duly weighed and
improved, are a means conducive to its being preserved from a compliance
with the corrupt motions of indwelling sin: these are of a superior
nature to those made use of by an enlightened conscience, in
unregenerate persons, to prevent their committing the vilest
abominations, as was before considered; and indeed, they are such as,
from the nature of the thing, can be used (especially some of them) by
none but those in whom the work of grace is begun. Accordingly,

[1.] A believer considers not only the glorious excellencies and
perfections of Christ, which he is now duly sensible of, as he is said
to be precious to them that believe; but he is also affected with the
manifold engagements, which he has been laid under to love him, and to
hate and oppose every thing that is contrary to his glory and interest.
The love of Christ constraineth him; and therefore he abhors the
thoughts of being so ungrateful and disingenuous as he would appear to
be, should he fulfil the lusts of the flesh: the sense of redeeming love
and grace is deeply impressed on his soul; he calls to mind how he has
been quickened, effectually called, and brought into the way of peace
and holiness, and therefore cannot entertain any thoughts of relapsing
or returning again to folly.

Here he considers the great advantage which he has received, which he
would not lose on any terms. The delight and pleasure which he has had
in the ways of God and godliness, has been so great, that corrupt nature
cannot produce any thing that may be an equivalent for the loss of it.
He is very sensible that the more closely he has walked with God, the
more comfortably he has walked. And besides this, he looks forward, and,
by faith, takes a view of the blessed issue of the life of grace, or
those reserves of glory laid up for him in another world, which inclines
him to cast the utmost contempt on every thing that has the least
tendency to induce him to relinquish or abandon his interest therein.

[2.] He considers and improves those bright examples which are set
before him, to encourage him to go on in the way of holiness; takes
Christ himself for a pattern, endeavouring, so far as he is able, to
follow him; walks as they have done, who have not only stood their
ground, but come off victorious in the conflict, and are reaping the
blessed fruits and effects thereof.

[3.] He also considers, as an inducement to him to oppose the corrupt
motions of the flesh; that he has by faith, as his own act and deed, in
the most solemn manner, given up himself to Christ entirely, and without
reserve, and professed his obligation to obey him in all things, and to
avoid whatever has a tendency to displease him. And therefore he reckons
that he is not his own, or, at his own disposal, but Christ’s, whose he
is, by a double right, not only as purchased by, but as devoted and
consecrated to him; and therefore he says with the apostle, _How shall
we that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?_ Rom. vi. 2. He says
to this purpose, I have given up my name to Christ; and I have not,
since that time, seen the least reason to repent of what I did; I have
not found the least iniquity in him, neither has he been an hard master;
but, on the other hand, has expressed the greatest tenderness and
compassion to me, to whose grace alone it is owing, that I am what I am.
Shall I therefore abandon his interest, or prove a deserter at last, and
turn aside into the enemies’ camp? Is there any thing that can be
proposed as a sufficient motive hereunto? Such like thoughts as these,
through the prevailing influence of the principle of grace implanted and
excited by the Spirit, are an effectual means to keep him from a sinful
compliance with the motions of the flesh, and to excite him to make the
greatest resistance against them.

Thus we have considered the opposition that there is between the flesh
and spirit, and how each of these prevail by turns; we might now observe
the consequence of the victory obtained on either side. When grace
prevails, all things tend to promote our spiritual peace and joy; we are
hereby fortified against temptations, and enabled, not only to stand our
ground, but made more than conquerors, through him that loved us.
However it is not always so with a believer; he sometimes finds, that
corrupt nature prevails, and then many sad consequences will ensue
hereupon, which not only occasion the loss of that peace and joy which
he had before; but expose him to many troubles, which render his life
very uncomfortable; and this leads us to consider,

III. What are the consequences of the prevailing power of indwelling
sin. When the flesh lusteth against the spirit, and God is pleased to
withhold his grace, the soul is subjected to many evils, which are
mentioned in the remaining part of this answer, as,

1. A believer is foiled with temptation. Satan gains ground against him
by this means, and pursues the victory which the flesh has obtained
against the spirit; hereupon his conflicts are doubled, arising not only
from _flesh and blood; but the rulers of the darkness of this world_,
Eph. vi. 12. as the apostle expresses it: now his difficulties encrease
upon him, his enemies are more insulting, and he less able to stand his
ground against them, his faith weakened, and his fears encreasing, so
that he is perpetually subject to bondage; sometimes inclined to think
that he shall one day fall, and whatever he formerly thought he had
gained, he lost by the assaults of his spiritual enemies; and at other
times, to question whether ever he had the truth of grace or no; in
which case his spirit must needs be filled with the greatest perplexity,
and almost overwhelmed within him. And he is destitute of that boldness
or liberty of access to the throne of grace, and that comfortable sense
which once he had of his interest in Christ, and finds it very difficult
to recover those lively frames which he has lost, or to stand his ground
against the great opposition made by corrupt nature, which still
increases as faith grows weaker.

2. Another consequence hereof, is his falling into many sins. By which
we are not to suppose that he shall be so far left as to fall into a
state of unregeneracy, or lose the principle of grace that was implanted
in regeneration: nevertheless, when this principle does not exert
itself, and corrupt nature on the other hand, is prevalent, it is hard
to say how far he will run into the commission of known and wilful sins.
As for sins of infirmity, they cannot be avoided, when we are in the
best frame: but in this case we shall find a person committing
presumptuous sins, so that if we were to judge of his state by his
present frames, without considering the former experiences which he has
had of the grace of God, we should be ready to question, whether his
heart were right with God.

And as for sins of omission, these generally ensue hereupon; he cannot
draw nigh to God, with that frame of spirit, which he once had, and
therefore is ready to say, _What profit should I have if I pray unto
him?_ Job xxi. 15. and sometimes concludes, that he contracts guilt by
attempting to engage in holy duties. And to this we may add, that he is
hindered in all his spiritual services, as it is farther observed in
this answer: thus the apostle says, _When I would do good, evil is
present with me_, Rom. vii. 21. He finds his heart disposed to wander
from God, and his thoughts taken up with vanity; upon which account it
may be truly said, that his best works are not only imperfect, but
defiled in the sight of God, who searcheth the heart, and observes the
various steps by which it treacherously departs from him, and can find
no way to recover itself till he is pleased to revive his work, take
away the guilt which he has contracted, recover him out of the snare
into which he has fallen, and so cause the work of grace again to
flourish in the soul, as it has once done.

We shall conclude with some inferences from what has been said
concerning the imperfection of sanctification in believers, together
with the reasons and consequences thereof.

1. Since sinless perfection is not attainable in this life, we should
from hence take occasion to give a check to our censorious thoughts
concerning persons or things, so as not to determine persons to be in an
unconverted state, because they are chargeable with many sinful
infirmities, which are not inconsistent with the truth of grace: some
abatements are to be made for their being sanctified but in part, and
having the remnants of sin in them; and indeed, the greatest degree of
grace which can be attained here, comes far short of that which the
saints are arrived to in heaven; accordingly the difference between a
believer and an unregenerate sinner is not in that one is perfect, and
the other imperfect; for when we consider the brightest characters given
of any in scripture, their blemishes as well as their graces are
recorded; so that none but our Saviour could challenge the world to
convict or reprove them of sin. The apostle speaks of Elias, as a _man
subject to like passions as we are_, James v. 17. and he might have
instanced in many others. Therefore, when we are sensible of our own
imperfections, we ought to enquire, whether the spots we find in
ourselves, are like the spots of God’s children? or, whether these
infirmities may be reckoned inconsistent with the truth of grace? which,
if they be, though it affords matter for humiliation, that we are liable
to any sinful failures, or defects; yet it will be some encouragement to
us, and matter of thanksgiving to God, that notwithstanding this, our
hearts are right with him. That we may be, in some measure, satisfied as
to this matter, let it be considered,

[1.] That we must distinguish between a person’s being tempted to the
greatest sins, which are inconsistent with the truth of grace; and his
complying with the temptation. A temptation of this kind may offer
itself, and at the same time grace may exert itself in an eminent
degree, by the opposition that it makes to it, whether it arises from
indwelling sin, or Satan.

[2.] When we read of some sins that are inconsistent with the truth of
grace, such as those which the apostle speaks of, when he says, that
_neither fornicators nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor
abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor
drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of
God_, 1 Cor. vi. 9, 10. and elsewhere, _the fearful and unbelieving_, as
well as those who are guilty of other notorious crimes, are said to
_have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone_,
Rev. xxi. 8. We must distinguish between those who are guilty of these
sins in a less degree than what is intended, when they are said to
exclude from the kingdom of heaven; and others being guilty thereof, in
a notorious degree, with greater aggravations: Thus unbelieving fears in
those who are called to suffer for Christ’s sake, if they do not issue
in a denial of him, are not altogether inconsistent with the truth of
grace, though they render a person guilty before God. And the least
degree of covetousness, though it is not to be excused, yet it does not
exclude from the kingdom of heaven; but the prevailing love of the
world, or the immoderate pursuit of it in those who use unlawful means
to attain it, or have a rooted habitual desire after it, more than
Christ, or put it in his room, this is to be reckoned a mark of

[3.] We must distinguish between sinful infirmities and allowed
infirmities, or such who sin through surprize, as being assaulted by an
unforseen temptation, when not being on their guard; and the same sin
committed with deliberation; the latter gives greater ground to fear
that a person is in a state of unregeneracy than the former.

We must also distinguish between sins committed and repented of, with
that degree of godly sorrow which is proportioned to their respective
aggravations; and the same sins committed and continued in with
impenitency; the latter gives ground to conclude, that a person is in an
unconverted state, though not the former. And the difference arises not
barely from the nature of the crimes, for we suppose the sins in
themselves to be the same; but from other evidences which a person has
or has not of his being in a state of grace.

2. From what has been said concerning the opposition that there is
between natural conscience and corrupt nature in the unregenerate, we
may infer; that it is a great blessing to have a religious education, as
it has a tendency to prevent many enormities, which others, who are
destitute of it, run into: Accordingly they who have had this privilege
ought to bless God for, and make a right improvement of it. But since
those principles which take their rise from thence, are liable, without
the grace of God prevent it, to be overcome and lost; let us press after
something more than this, and be importunate with God, whose providence
has favoured us thus far, that he would give us a better preservative
against sin, or that the prevailing power thereof may be prevented by
converting grace.

3. From the opposition that corrupt nature makes in believers to the
work of grace, we may infer that the standing of the best of men, or
their not being chargeable with the greatest sins, is not so much owing
to themselves as to the grace of God, by which we are what we are, and
therefore the glory thereof belongs intirely to him; and that we have
reason, when we are praying against our spiritual enemies, to beg that
God would deliver us from the greatest of them, namely, ourselves; and
that he, who has a sovereignty over the hearts of all men, and can
govern and sanctify their natural tempers and dispositions, would keep
us from being drawn aside thereby. This should also induce us to walk
watchfully, and to be always on our guard, depending on the grace of God
for help, that indwelling sin may not so far prevail as to turn aside
and alienate our affections from him.

4. From what has been said concerning the flesh and spirit prevailing by
turns, we infer the uncertainty of the frame of our spirits, and what
changes we are liable to, with respect to the actings of grace, or the
comforts that result from it. This somewhat resembles the state of man
as subject to various changes, with respect to the dispensations of
providence; sometimes lifted up, at other times cast down, and not
abiding long in the same condition: Thus we are enabled, at some times,
to gain advantage over indwelling sin, and enjoy the comforts which
arise from thence; at other times, when the flesh prevails, the acts of
grace are interrupted, and its comforts, almost, if not entirely lost.
What reason have we therefore to bless God, that though our graces are
far from being brought to perfection, and our frames so various; yet he
has given us ground to conclude, that grace shall not wholly be lost,
and we are assured, that our state, as we are justified, is not liable
to the same uncertainty, so that that which interrupts the progress of
sanctification, does not bring us into an unjustified state, or render
us liable to condemnation?

5. From the inconveniences we sustain by the flesh prevailing against
the spirit, as we are foiled by temptation, fall into sins and are
hindered in spiritual services, we infer the great hurt that sin does to
those who are in a justified and sanctified state, as well as to others,
who are under the dominion of it. And therefore it is a vile and
unwarrantable way of speaking which some use, who say, that because
nothing shall separate them from the love of Christ, or bring them who
are justified, back again into an unjustified state, that therefore sin
can do them no hurt; as though all the consequences of the prevalency of
corrupt nature, and the dishonour we bring to God, and the guilt we
contract hereby, could hardly be reckoned prejudicial; but this is such
a way of speaking as confutes itself in the opinion of all judicious and
sober Christians.

Again, we might also infer, from the consequences of the prevalency of
corruption, as we are liable hereby to be discouraged from, or hindered
in the performance of duty; that we ought, if we find it thus with us,
to take occasion from hence to enquire, whether some secret sin be not
indulged and entertained by us, which gives occasion to the prevalency
of corrupt nature, which we ought to be humbled for. Or if we have lived
in the omission of those duties which are incumbent on us, or have
provoked God to leave us to ourselves, and so have had an hand in our
present evils; this affords matter of great humiliation. And we ought to
be very importunate with God for restoring grace, not only that our
faith may not fail; but that we may be recovered out of the snare in
which we are entangled, and may be brought off victorious over all our
spiritual enemies.

Footnote 223:


Footnote 78:


Footnote 79:

  _The word is_ καταρτισαι; _which signifies to give them an internal
  disposition or fitness for the performance of the duties which they
  were to engage in_, _Heb._ xiii. 21.

Footnote 80:

  _It is a true observation which some have laid down in this known
  aphorism_, Nemo repente fit turpissimus.

                             Quest. LXXIX.

    QUEST. LXXIX. _May not true believers, by reason of their
    imperfections, and the many temptations and sins they are overtaken
    with, fall away from the state of grace?_

    ANSW. True believers, by reason of the unchangeable love of God, and
    his decree and covenant to give them perseverance, their inseparable
    union with Christ, his continual intercession for them, and the
    Spirit and seed of God abiding in them, can neither totally nor
    finally fall from the state of grace, but are kept by the power of
    God, through faith unto salvation.

It is natural for persons, when they enjoy any blessing, to be
solicitous about their retaining it; otherwise the pleasure that arises
from it; if it is like to be short and transitory, is rather an
amusement than a solid and substantial happiness. The same may be said
of those graces and privileges which believers are made partakers of, as
the fruits and effects of the death of Christ: These are undoubtedly the
most valuable blessings; therefore it highly concerns us to enquire;
whether we may assuredly conclude, that we shall not lose them, and so
fail of that future blessedness which we have had so delightful a
prospect of?

The saints’ perseverance has not only been denied by many since the
reformation, and, in particular, by Papists, Socinians, and
Remonstrants: But by the Pelagians of old; and all those whose
sentiments bear some affinity to, or are derived from their scheme. And,
indeed, when we find persons endeavouring to establish the doctrine of
conditional election, universal redemption, &c. or when they explain the
nature of human liberty, as they do, who make the grace of God to be
dependent on it for its efficacy in the beginning and carrying on the
work of conversion and sanctification; and accordingly assert, that the
will has an equal power to determine itself to good or evil; or, that
the grace of God affords no other assistance to promote the one or fence
against the other, than what is objective, or, at least, by supporting
our natural faculties; and if there be any divine concourse, that it
consists only in what respects the external dispensations of providence,
as a remote means conducive thereunto, the event hereof depending on our
own conduct or disposition to improve these means: I say, if persons
maintain these and such-like doctrines, it is not to be wondered, when
we find them pleading for the possibility of a believer’s falling
totally and finally from the grace of God. For they who have brought
themselves into a state of grace, may apostatize, or fall from it. If
the free-will of man first inclined itself to exercise those graces
which we call special, such as faith, repentance, love to God, &c. then
it will follow, that he may lose them and relapse to the contrary vices;
and by this means men may plunge themselves into the same depths of sin
and misery from whence they had before escaped; and, according to this
scheme, there may be, in the course of our lives, a great many instances
of defection from the grace of God, and recovery to it, and finally, a
drawing back unto perdition: Or if a person be so happy as to recover
himself out of his last apostacy before he leaves the world, then he is
saved; otherwise he finally perishes. This is a doctrine which some
defend, the contrary whereunto we shall endeavour to maintain, as being
the subject insisted on in this answer.

But before we proceed to the defence thereof, it may not be amiss to
premise something, which may have, at least, a remote tendency to
dispose us to receive conviction from the arguments which may be brought
to prove it. Thus we may consider that the contrary side of the question
is in itself less desirable, if it could be defended. It is certain,
that the doctrine of the possibility of the saints falling from grace,
tends very much to abate that delight and comfort which the believer has
in the fore-views of the issue and event of his present state. It is a
very melancholy thought to consider, that he who is now advanced to the
very borders of heaven, may be cast down into hell; or that, though he
has at present an interest in the special and discriminating love of
God, he may afterwards become the object of his hatred, so as never to
behold his face with joy in a future world; or that, though his feet are
set upon a rock, yet his goings are not established; though he is
walking in a plain and safe path, yet he may be ensnared, entangled, and
fall, so as never to rise again; that though God be his friend, yet he
may suffer him to fall into the hands of his enemies, and be ruined and
undone thereby, as though his own glory were not concerned in his coming
off victorious over them, or connected with the salvation of his people:
So that as this doctrine renders the state of believers very precarious
and uncertain, it tends effectually to damp their joys, and blast their
expectations, and subject them to perpetual bondage; and it is a great
hindrance to their offering praise and thanksgiving to God, whose grace
is not so much magnified towards them, as it would be, had they ground
to conclude that the work which is now begun, should certainly be
brought to perfection.

And on the other hand, the doctrine which we are to maintain, is in
itself so very comfortable, that if we were, at present, in suspense
concerning the truth thereof, we cannot but desire that it may appear to
be agreeable to the mind of God: It is certainly a very delightful thing
for us to be assured, that what is at present well, shall end well; that
they who are brought to believe in Christ, shall for ever abide with
him; and that the work of grace, which, at present, affords so fair and
pleasing a prospect of its being at last perfected in glory, shall not
miscarry. This will have a tendency to enhance our joy in proportion to
the ground we have to conclude that the work is true and genuine; and it
will excite our thankfulness to God, when we consider, that he who is
the author, will also be the finisher of faith: So that it is certain
this doctrine deserves confirmation; and accordingly we shall endeavour
to establish our faith therein in the following method:

I. We shall consider what we are to understand by persevering in grace,
or falling from it.

II. We shall prove, that the best believers would certainly fall from
grace, were they left to themselves: So that their perseverance therein,
is principally to be ascribed to the power of God, which keeps them,
through faith, unto salvation.

III. We shall consider, what ground we have to conclude that the saints
shall persevere in grace; and so explain and illustrate the several
arguments insisted on in this answer; to which we shall add some others
taken from several scriptures by which this doctrine may be defended.

IV. We shall endeavour to answer some objections that are generally
brought against it.

V. We shall consider what we are to understand by persevering in grace,
or falling from it.

1. When we speak of a person as persevering in grace, this supposes that
he has the truth of grace. We do not hereby intend that a person may not
fall away from a profession of faith; or that no one can lose that which
we generally call common grace, which, in many things, bears a
resemblance to that which is saving. We have before considered, that
there is a temporary faith, whereby persons appear religious, while it
comports with their secular interest; but when they are called by reason
of persecution or tribulation, which may arise for the sake of the
gospel, to forego their worldly interests, or quit their pretensions to
religion, they fall away, or lose that grace which they _seemed to
have_, as the Evangelist expresses it, Luke viii. 18. We read of some
whose hope of salvation is like the spider’s web, or the giving up of
the ghost; but these are described not as true believers, but
hypocrites. It is beyond dispute that such may apostatize, and not only
lay aside the external practice of some religious duties, but deny and
oppose the doctrines of the gospel, which they once assented to the
truth of.

2. It is certain that true believers may fall into very great sins; but
yet they shall be recovered and brought again to repentance: therefore
we must distinguish between their dishonouring Christ, disobeying his
commands, and thereby provoking him to be angry with him; and their
falling away totally from him. We have before considered, when we proved
that perfection is not attainable in this life, that the best men are
sometimes chargeable with great failings and defects. And indeed,
sometimes their sins are very heinously aggravated, their conversation
in the mean while discovering that they are destitute of the actings of
grace, and that to such a degree that they can hardly be distinguished
from those who are in an unregenerate state: accordingly it is one thing
for a believer not to be able to put forth those acts of grace which he
once did; and another thing for him to lose the principle of grace: it
would be a very preposterous thing to say, that when David sinned in the
matter of Uriah, the principle of grace exerted itself; yet it was not
wholly lost. It is not the same in this case, as in the more common
instances of the saints’ infirmities, which they are daily chargeable
with, in which, the conflict that there is between the flesh and spirit
appears; for when corrupt nature exerts itself in such a degree that it
leads persons to the commission of deliberate and presumptuous sins,
they hardly appear to be believers at that time: nevertheless if we
compare what they were before they fell, with what they shall be when
brought to repentance, we may conclude, that they did not, by their
fall, bring themselves altogether into a state of unregeneracy.

3. It is beyond dispute, that as a believer may be destitute of the acts
of grace; so he may lose the comforts thereof, and sink into the depths
of despair. Of this we have several instances recorded in scripture,
which are agreeable to the experiences of many in our day: thus the
Psalmist, at one time, speaks of himself, as _cast down_, and _his soul
disquieted within him_, Psal. xliii. 5. and cxvi. 3. And at another time
he says, _The sorrows of death compassed me, and the pains of hell gat
hold upon me._ And elsewhere he complains, _Will the Lord cast off for
ever? will he be favourable no more? is his mercy clean gone for ever?
doth his promise fail for evermore? hath God forgotten to be gracious?
hath he in anger shut up his tender mercies_, Psal. lxxvii. 7-9. And
again, a believer is represented as being altogether destitute of a
comfortable sense of the divine love, when complaining, _Thou hast laid
me in the lowest pit, in darkness, in the deeps. Thy wrath lieth hard
upon me, and thou hast afflicted me with all thy waves. Wilt thou shew
wonders to the dead? Shall the dead arise and praise thee? Shall thy
loving kindness be declared in the grave, or thy faithfulness in
destruction? Thy fierce wrath goeth over me, thy terrors have cut me
off_, Psal. lxxxviii. 6. _&c._ And it is certain, that when at any time
he falls into very great sins, which seem inconsistent with a state of
grace, he has no present evidence that he is a believer; and is never
favoured with a comfortable sense of his interest in Christ, nor is the
joy of God’s salvation restored to him, till he is brought unfeignedly
to repent of his sin. Former experiences will not evince the truth of
grace, while he remains impenitent. It is a bad sign when any one, who
formerly appeared to have the truth of grace, but is now fallen into
great sins, concludes himself to be in a state of grace, without the
exercise of true repentance; for this can be deemed little better than
presumption: however, God, whose mercy is infinitely above our deserts,
will, in the end, recover him; though, at present, he does not look like
one of his children.

4. There are some who suppose that a believer may fall totally, though
not finally from grace. And their reason for it is this; because they
conclude, as they have sufficient warrant to do, from scripture, that
they shall not fall finally, inasmuch as the purpose of God concerning
election, must stand; if they had not been chosen to salvation they
would never have been brought into a state of grace: they are supposed,
before they fell, to have been sanctified; whereas sanctification is
inseparably connected with salvation; and therefore, though they
consider them, at this time, as having lost the grace of sanctification,
and so to have fallen totally; yet they shall be recovered, and
therefore not fall finally. Sanctification is Christ’s purchase; and
where grace is purchased for any one, a price of redemption is paid for
his deliverance from condemnation; and consequently he shall be
recovered and saved at last, though, at present, he is, according to
their opinion, totally fallen.

These suppose, not only that the acts of grace may be lost, but the very
principle, and the reason hereof is, because they cannot see, how great
and notorious sins, such as those committed by David, Peter, Solomon,
and some others, can consist with a principle of grace: this indeed cuts
the knot of some difficulties that seem to attend the doctrine of the
saints perseverance, though falling into great sins: nevertheless, I
think it may easily be proved, which we shall endeavour to do, that they
shall be preserved from a total, as well as a final apostacy: or, that
when they fall into great sins, they do not lose the principle of grace,
though it be, at present, innactive; which we shall take occasion to
insist on, more particularly under a following head, when we consider
that argument mentioned in this answer for the proof of this doctrine
taken from the Spirit and seed of God abiding in a believer, as that
which preserves him from a total as well as a final apostacy.

II. We shall now consider, that the best believers would certainly fall
from grace, were they left to themselves: so that their perseverance
therein is principally to be ascribed to the power of God, that keeps
them through faith unto salvation. This is particularly observed in this
answer, in which several arguments are laid down to prove the doctrine
of the saints’ perseverance in grace, and it is supposed to be founded
on his power, and will, to maintain it. God is styled _the preserver of
men_, Job vii. 20. inasmuch as he upholds all things by the word of his
power, so that independency on him is inconsistent with the idea of our
being creatures; and we have no less ground to conclude, that his power
maintains the new creature, or that grace, which took its first rise
from him. Should he fail or forsake us, we could not put forth the least
act of grace, much less persevere therein. When man at first came out of
the hands of God, he was endowed with a greater ability to stand than
any one, excepting our Saviour, has been favoured with, since sin
entered into the world; yet he apostatized, not from any necessity of
nature, but by adhering to that temptation which he might have
withstood. Then how unable is he to stand in his present state, who is
become weak, and, though brought into a state of grace, renewed and
sanctified but in part; having still the remainders of corruption, which
maintain a constant opposition to the principle of grace? Our
perseverance in grace cannot therefore be owing to ourselves;
accordingly the apostle ascribes this to a divine hand, when he says,
that _we are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation_, 1
Pet. i. 5.

A late celebrated writer, on the other side of the question,[81]
attempts to evade the force of this argument to prove the doctrine of
perseverance, though I think, without much strength of reasoning, when
he says; that all who are preserved to salvation, are kept by the power
of God, but not that all believers are so kept.

To which it may be replied, that all believers, whose character answers
that of the church, to which the apostle writes, shall be saved; namely,
all who are _begotten again unto a lively hope, by the resurrection of
Jesus Christ, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled, and that
fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for them_; whose _faith_, after it
has been tried, shall be _found unto praise, and honour, and glory, at
the appearing of Jesus Christ_, 1 Pet. i. 3, 4, 7. I say, these shall
certainly be saved: therefore, if all who are thus preserved to
salvation, are kept by the power of God, this is all we need contend
for. And whereas he adds, that when they are said to be kept through
faith, the meaning is, they are kept, if they continue in the faith. To
this it may be replied, That their continuance in the faith was put out
of all dispute, by what is said concerning them in the words going
before and following, as row referred to. And as to his argument, it
amounts to no more than this; that they shall be kept by the power of
God, if they keep themselves; or they shall persevere if they persevere,
to which I need make no reply.

But since our main design in this head is not to prove that believers
shall persevere, which we reserve to our next; but to shew that whatever
we assert concerning their perseverance, take its rise from God; we
shall consider this as plainly contained in scripture. Accordingly the
apostle speaks of the Lord’s _delivering him from every evil work, and
preserving him to his heavenly kingdom_, 2 Tim. iv. 18. Jude, ver. 1.
and the apostle Jude speaks of believers as _sanctified by God the
Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ, and called_, or as being first
called, and then preserved by God the Father, through the intervention
of Christ, our great Mediator, till they are brought to glory. And our
Saviour, in his affectionate prayer for his church, a little before he
left the world, says, _Holy Father, keep, through thine own name, those
whom thou hast given me_, John xvii. 11. which not only proves that the
perseverance of the saints is owing to God, but that the glory of his
own name is concerned herein; therefore it is not from ourselves, but
him: and there is another scripture, in which our Saviour, speaks of the
perseverance of his _sheep_ in grace, and of his giving them eternal
life, and adds, that _they shall never perish, neither shall any pluck
them out of his hand_, chap. x. 28. therefore it is owing to his care,
as the great Shepherd of the sheep, and to his power, that is superior
to that of all those who attempt to destroy them, that they shall
persevere in grace. And this leads us to consider,

III. What ground we have to conclude that the saints shall persevere in
grace, and so explain and illustrate the arguments insisted on in this
answer, together with some others that may be taken from the sense of
several scriptures, by which this doctrine may be defended.

1. The saints’ perseverance in grace may be proved from the unchangeable
love of God, and his decree and purpose, relating to their salvation, in
which it is discovered and executed. That God loved them with a love of
good-will, before they were inclined to express any love to him, is
evident; because their love to him is assigned as the effect and
consequence of his love to them, as the apostle says, _We love him
because he first loved us_, 1 John iv. 19. Therefore this love of God to
his people, must be considered as an immanent act; from whence it
follows, that it was from eternity, since all God’s immanent acts are
eternal: and this is particularly expressed by the prophet, when he
says, _The Lord hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved
thee with an everlasting love_, Jer. xxxi. 3. If this be meant of a love
that shall never have an end, it plainly proves the doctrine we are
defending; but inasmuch as the words that immediately follow,
_Therefore, with loving kindness have I drawn thee_, seem to intimate
that this everlasting love is that which was from everlasting; as his
drawing them or bringing them into a converted state is the result
hereof: therefore this everlasting love is the same as his eternal
purpose, or design to save them. If there be such an eternal purpose
relating to their salvation, this necessarily infers their perseverance;
and that there was such a design in God has been already proved under a
foregoing answer[82]. And they who are the objects of this eternal
purpose of grace are frequently described, in scripture, as believers,
inasmuch as faith and salvation are inseparably connected together;
therefore, the execution of God’s purpose in giving faith, necessarily
infers the execution thereof, in saving them that believe.

That this purpose of grace is unchangeable, has been before proved[83];
and may be farther argued from what the apostle speaks concerning _the
immutability of his counsel_, shewn to the _heirs of promise_, as the
ground of that _strong consolation_ which they have _who are flying for
refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before them_, Heb. vi. 17, 18.
Therefore, if God cannot change his purpose, relating to the salvation
of believers, it necessarily follows, that they shall certainly attain
this salvation, and consequently, that they shall persevere in grace.

_Obj._ To this it will be objected, that though God may be said to love
his people, while they retain their integrity, yet they may provoke him
by their sins to cast them off; therefore the present exercise of divine
love to them is no certain argument that it shall be extended to the
end, so as that, by virtue hereof, he will enable them to persevere, and
then bring them to glory.

_Answ._ To this it may be replied; that we do not deny that believers,
by their sins, may provoke God so far, as that, if he should mark their
iniquities, or deal with them according to the demerit thereof, he would
cast them off for ever; but this he will not do, because it is
inconsistent with his purpose to recover them from their backslidings,
and forgive their iniquities. Moreover, it cannot be denied, that,
notwithstanding God’s eternal love to them, there are many instances of
his hatred and displeasure expressed in the external dispensations of
his providence, which are as often changed, as their conduct towards him
is changed; but this does not infer a change in God’s purpose: he may
testify his displeasure against them, or as the Psalmist expresses it,
_Visit their transgressions with the rod, and their iniquities with
stripes_, Psal. lxxxix. 32. Nevertheless he cannot change his resolution
to save them; and therefore, by some methods of grace, he will recover
them from their backslidings, and enable them to persevere in grace,
since his counsel shall stand, and he will do all his pleasure.

2. Another argument to prove the saints’ perseverance, may be taken from
the covenant of grace, and the many promises respecting their salvation,
which are contained therein. That this may appear, let it be considered,

(1.) That Christ was appointed to be the head of this covenant, as was
observed in a foregoing answer[84]; and accordingly there was an eternal
transaction between the Father and him; in which, all things were
stipulated in the behalf of his elect, whom he therein represented,
which relate to their everlasting salvation. In this covenant God the
Father, not only promised that he should _have a seed to serve him_,
Psal. xxii. 30. but that he _should see his seed_; and that _the
pleasure of the Lord_, with relation to them, _should prosper in his
hand_; that he should _see of the travel of his soul, and be satisfied_,
Isa. liii. 10, 11. which implies, that he should see the fruits and
effects of all that he had done and suffered for them, in order to their
salvation; and this is not spoken of some of them, but of all; and it
could not have had its accomplishment, were it possible for them not to
persevere in grace.

(2.) In this covenant, Christ has undertaken to keep them, as the result
of his becoming a Surety for them, in which he not only engaged to pay
the debt of obedience and sufferings that was due from them, which he
has already done; but that he would work all that grace in them which he
purchased by his blood; and he has already begun this work in them which
is not yet accomplished: can we therefore suppose that he will not bring
it to perfection, nor enable them to endure to the end, that they may be
saved, which would argue the greatest unfaithfulness in him, who is
styled Faithful and True?

Moreover, as there are engagements on Christ’s part, relating hereunto,
and in pursuance thereof, they are said to be in his hand; so the Father
has given them an additional security, that they shall be preserved from
apostasy; and therefore they are also said to be _in his hand_; from
whence _none can pluck them out_; and from thence it is argued, that
_they shall never perish_, John x. 28, 29. And we may observe, that the
life which Christ is said to give them respects not only the beginning
thereof, in the first grace which they are made partakers of in
conversion; but it is called _eternal life_, which certainly denotes the
completing of this work in their everlasting salvation.

(3.) The subject-matter of the promises contained in the covenant of
grace, relates not only to their sanctification here, but salvation
hereafter; in which respect it is called _an everlasting covenant_, and
the mercies thereof, _the sure mercies of David_, Isa. lv. 3, 4. that
is, either those mercies which David, who had an interest in this
covenant, was given to expect; or mercies which Christ had engaged to
purchase and bestow, who is here called David, as elsewhere, Hos. iii.
5. inasmuch as David was an eminent type of him, as well as because he
was his seed according to the flesh; and that this is the more probable
sense of the two, appears from the following words, in which he is said
to be _given for a witness to the people, a leader and commander to the
people_: and if these mercies are in Christ’s hand to apply, it is no
wonder that they are styled _sure mercies_.

We might here consider the covenant of grace as containing in it all the
promises that respect the beginning, carrying on, or completing the
salvation of his people; and these relate not only to what God will do
for them; but what he will enable them to be, and do, in those things
that concern their faithfulness to him, whereby they have the highest
security that they shall behave themselves as becomes a covenant-people.
Thus he assures them, that he will be to them a God, that is, that he
will glorify his divine perfections in bestowing on them the special and
distinguishing blessings of the covenant; and that they shall be to him
a people, that is, shall behave themselves so as that they shall not, by
apostacy from him, oblige him to disown his relation to them, or exclude
them from his covenant. He has not only encouraged them to expect those
great things that he would do for them, provided they yielded obedience
to his law; but that he would _put his law into their inward parts, and
write it in their hearts_, whereby they might be disposed to obey him:
and when he says, that they _shall teach no more every man his
neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord_, he gives
them to understand that they should not only teach or instruct one other
in the knowledge of God, which respects their being favoured with the
external means of grace; but that they _should all know him, from the
least of them unto the greatest_. This not only denotes that they should
have a speculative knowledge of divine truth, but a saving knowledge
thereof; which is inseparably connected with _life eternal_, John xvii.
3. as appears from its being accompanied with, or flowing from
forgiveness of sin, as it immediately follows; _for I will forgive their
iniquity_; and this is expressed with a peculiar emphasis, which is
certainly inconsistent with their falling from a justified state, when
it is said, _I will remember their sin no more_, Jer. xxxi. 33, 34. And
elsewhere, when God speaks of his _making an everlasting covenant_ with
his people, chap. xxxii. 40. he promises that _he will not turn away
from them to do them good_; and, inasmuch as they are prone, by reason
of the deceitfulness of their hearts, to turn aside from him, he adds,
_I will put my fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from
me_; it is not only said that he will not turn from them, if they fear
him; but he gives them security in this covenant, that they shall fear
him: can we therefore conclude that they, in whom this covenant is so
far made good, that God has put his fear in their hearts, which is
supposed in their being believers, shall not attain the other blessing
promised, to wit, that of their not departing from him?

Moreover, the stability of this covenant, as a foundation of the saints’
perseverance, is set forth by a metaphor, taken from the most fixed and
stable parts of nature; and it is said to exceed them herein; _The
mountains shall depart and the hills be removed, but my kindness shall
not depart from thee; neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed,
saith the Lord, that hath mercy on thee_, Isa. liv. 10.

_Object._ The principal objection that is brought to enervate the force
of this argument taken from those promises of the covenant, which
respect the saints’ perseverance, is, that they are to be considered
either as conditional, and the conditions thereof not fulfilled, in
which case they are not obliging, and therefore God is not bound to give
salvation to those to whom he has promised it, upon these conditions; or
else they are to be considered as made to a political body, _viz._ the
Jewish nation, in which case it is not to be supposed that they respect
their eternal salvation, but only some temporal deliverance which they
were to be made partakers of, that belonged to that church in general;
for everlasting salvation is never considered as a blessing that shall
be applied to whole nations, how much soever an whole nation may partake
of the common gifts of divine bounty which are bestowed in this world.

_Answ._ In answer to this objection, in both its branches, I need only
refer to what has been said elsewhere. As to the former branch thereof,
we have endeavoured to shew how those scriptures are to be understood
which are laid down in a conditional form, without supposing that they
militate against the absoluteness of God’s purpose, or its
unchangeableness, and independency on the conduct of men.[85] And as to
the latter branch thereof; what has been said in answer to an objection
of the like nature, brought against the doctrine of election by Dr.
Whitby, and others, who suppose that the blessings, which the elect are
said to be made partakers of in scripture, respect the nation of the
Jews, or the church in general, and not a particular number chosen out
of them to salvation; and that the promises which are directed to them,
are only such as they were given to expect, as a church or political
body of men, may well be applied to our present purpose, and serve as an
answer to this objection;[86] therefore all that I shall add by way of
reply to it, in this place, is,

[1.] If any thing be annexed to these promises of the covenant, that
gives occasion for some to conclude, that it is conditional, we must
take heed that we do not understand such expressions as denoting the
dependance of God’s determinations on the arbitrary will of man; as
though his purpose relating to the salvation of his people were
indeterminate, and it were a matter of doubt with him, as well as with
us, whether he should fulfil it or no; because it is uncertain whether
the conditions thereof shall be performed; for this supposition is
inconsistent with the divine perfections: but, if, on the other hand, we
suppose that the grace or duty annexed to the promise, must have some
idea of a condition contained in it; this may be understood according to
the tenor of God’s revealed will, as denoting nothing else but a
condition of our expectation, or of our claim to the blessing promised;
and then nothing can be inferred from hence, but that some who lay claim
to, or expect salvation, without performing the condition thereof, may
apostatize, and so miss of it; which does not in the least militate
against the doctrine we are defending.

And to this we may farther add, that when such a condition is annexed to
a promise (for I will not decline to call it so, in the sense but now
laid down) and there is another promise added, in which God engages that
he will enable them to perform this condition, that is equivalent to an
absolute promise; and of this kind are those conditions that are
mentioned in the scriptures before referred to, as has been already
observed. When God promises that he will be a God to them, that he will
forgive their iniquities, and never reverse the sentence of forgiveness,
or remember their sins no more, and that he will never turn away from
them to do them good; he, at the same time promises, that he will put
his law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts, and put his
fear in their hearts, and so enable them to behave themselves as his
people, or to be to him a people; and when God sets forth the stability
of his covenant, and intimates that it should not be removed, he adds,
that his kindness shall not depart from them, which kindness does not
barely respect some temporal blessings which he would bestow upon them,
but his extending that grace to them that should keep them faithful to
him; and therefore he says, _that in righteousness they should be
established_; which contains a promise to maintain grace in them,
without which they could hardly be said to be established in
righteousness, as well as that he would perform the other things
promised to them in this covenant.

[2.] As to the other branch of the objection, in which the promises are
considered as given to the church in general, or to the Jews, as a
political body of men; and that this cannot be supposed to respect their
everlasting salvation, but only some temporal blessings which they
should enjoy, it may be replied, That this is to be determined by the
express words contained in the promise: if God tells them that he will
do that for them which includes more in it than the blessings which they
are supposed to enjoy, that are of a temporal nature, we are not to
conclude that there is nothing of salvation contained in them, when the
words seem to imply that there is. And though these promises are said to
be given to the Jews, as a political body of men, and there are some
circumstances therein, which have an immediate and particular relation
to them: yet the promises of special grace and salvation were to be
applied only by those who believed amongst them; and the same promises
are to be applied by believers in all ages; or else we must understand
those scriptures only as an historical relation of things that do not
belong to us; which would tend very much to detract from the
spirituality and usefulness of many parts of scripture.

To make this appear, we might consider some promises which, when first
made, had a particular relation to God’s dealings with his people in
those circumstances in which they were at that time; which,
notwithstanding, are applied in a more extensive manner, to New
Testament believers in all ages. Thus when God tells his people, in the
scripture before referred to, that _all thy children shall be taught of
the Lord_, Isa. liv. 13. whatever respect this may have to the church of
the Jews, our Saviour applies it in a more extensive way, as belonging
to believers in all ages, when he says, _Every man therefore that hath
heard and learned of the Father, cometh unto me_, John vi. 45. And when
God promises Joshua that _he would not fail nor forsake him_, and
encourages him thereby, _not to fear nor be dismayed_, Josh. i. 5, 9.
when he was to pass over Jordan, into the land of Canaan; and after
that, to engage in a work which was attended with many difficulties:
this promise is applied, by the apostle, as an inducement to believers,
in his day, to be _content with such things as they have_; accordingly
he adds, that what God told Joshua of old, the same was written for
their encouragement, _viz._ that _he would never leave them, nor forsake
them_, Heb. xiii. 5. We cannot therefore but conclude from hence, that
this objection is of no force in either of its branches, to overthrow
the doctrine of the saints’ perseverance, as founded on the stability of
the promises of the covenant of grace.

3. The saints’ perseverance in grace may be farther proved from their
inseparable union with Christ: this union is not only federal, as he is
the head of the covenant of grace, and they his members, whose salvation
he has engaged to bring about, as was observed under the last head; but
he may be considered also as their vital head, from whom they receive
spiritual life and influence; so that as long as they abide in him,
their spiritual life is maintained as derived from him: if we consider
the church, or the whole election of grace as united to him, it is
called, _His body_, Col. i. 24. _the fulness of him that filleth all in
all_, Eph. i. 23. and every believer being a member of this body, or a
part, if I may so express it, of this fulness, if it should perish and
be separated from him, his body would be defective, and he would sustain
a loss of that which is an ingredient in his fulness.

Moreover, as this union includes in it that relation between Christ and
his people, which is, by a metaphorical way of speaking, styled
conjugal;[87] and accordingly is mutual, as the result of his becoming
theirs by an act of grace, and they his by an act of self-dedication;
this is the foundation of mutual love, which is abiding, it is certainly
so on his part; because it is unchangeable, as founded on a
covenant-engagement, which he cannot violate; and though their love to
him be in itself subject to change, through the prevalency of corrupt
nature, which too much inclines them to be unstedfast in this
marriage-covenant; yet he will recover and bring them back to him, and
will not deal with them as persons do with strangers, whom they exclude
from their presence or favour, if they render themselves unworthy of it;
but they who stand in a nearer relation to him, and accordingly are the
objects of his special love, shall not be cast off for ever, how much
soever he may resent their unworthy behaviour to him. Not to be separate
from Christ, is, according to the apostle’s expression, not to _be
separated_ from his love; and this, he says, he was _persuaded_ that he
should not be, or _that neither death nor life, nor angels, nor
principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor
height, nor depth, nor any other creature shall be able to do it_, Rom.
viii. 35, 38, 39. Accordingly it is said, that _having loved his own,
which were in the world, he loved them unto the end_, John xiii. 1.

Here I cannot but take notice of a very jejune and empty sense which
some give of this text, to evade the force of the argument taken from
it, to prove the doctrine we are maintaining. How plausible soever it
may seem to be to those who conclude that this must be the true sense,
because it favours their own cause: by _his own_ they mean no other than
Christ’s disciples, whom he was at that time conversant with; and
indeed, they apply whatever Christ says, in some following chapters, to
them, exclusive of all others; as when he says, _Ye are not of the
world, but I have chosen you out of the world_, chap. xv. 19. and
_because I live, ye shall live also_, chap. xiv. 19. This, they suppose,
respects them in particular; and so in the text before us, _having loved
his own which were in the world_; that is, his own disciples; as though
he had a propriety in none but them; _he loved them to the end_; that
is, not to the end of their lives; for that would prove the doctrine we
are maintaining, but to the end of his life, which was now at hand; and
his love to them, they suppose to be expressed in this, that he
condescended to wash their feet. But if this were the sense of the
words, his love to them would not be so extraordinary a privilege as it
really is; for it would be only an instance of human and not divine
love. And indeed, our happiness consists, not only in Christ’s loving us
to the end of his life; but in his continuing to express his love in his
going into heaven to prepare a place, and there making continual
intercession for us; and in the end, in his coming again to receive us
to himself, that where he is, we may be also; which leads us to

4. That the saints’ perseverance farther appears from Christ’s continual
intercession for them. This has been particularly explained in a
foregoing answer;[88] and the apostle speaking of his _ever living to
make intercession_ for his people, infers that _he is able to save them
to the uttermost that come unto God by him_, Heb. vii. 25. This he could
not be said to do, should he leave the work which he has begun in them,
imperfect, and suffer them, who come to him by faith, to apostatize from
him. We have before considered Christ’s intercession, as including in it
his appearing in the presence of God, in the behalf of those for whom he
offered himself a sacrifice while here on earth; and also, that what he
intercedes for shall certainly be granted him, not only because he is
the Son of God, in whom he is well pleased, but because he pleads his
own merits; and to deny to grant what he merited, would be, in effect,
to deny the sufficiency thereof, as though the purchase had not been
fully satisfactory; therefore we must conclude, as he himself said on
earth, that _the Father heareth him always_. It is also evident, that he
prays for the perseverance of his people, as he says to Peter, _I have
prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not_, Luke xxii. 32. And there are
many things in that affectionate prayer, mentioned in John xvii. which
he put up to God, immediately before his last sufferings, which respect
their perseverance in grace; as when he says, _Holy Father, keep through
thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as
we are_, John xvii. 11. and, _I pray not that thou shouldst take them
out of the world, but that thou shouldst keep them from the evil_, ver.
15. that is, either the evil that often attends the condition in which
they are, in the world, that so the work of grace may not suffer, at
least, not miscarry thereby; or else, that he would keep them from the
evil one, that so they may not be brought again under his dominion; he
also prays, _that they may be made perfect in one_, ver. 23. that is,
not only that they may be perfectly joined together in the same design,
but that this unanimity may continue till they are brought to a state of
perfection; and _that the world may know that God has loved them, even
as he has loved Christ_. And he declares his _will_; which shews that
his intercession is founded on justice, and accordingly contains in it
the nature of a demand, rather than a supplication for what might be
given or denied, namely, _That they whom the Father had given him might
be with him where he is, that they may behold his glory_, ver. 24. all
which expressions are very inconsistent with the supposition, that it is
possible that they, whom he thus intercedes for, may apostatize, or fall
short of salvation.

_Object._ It is objected by some, that this prayer respects none but his
disciples, who were his immediate friends and followers, and not
believers in all ages and places in the world.

_Answ._ But to this it may be replied, That the contrary hereunto is
evident, from several things which are mentioned in this prayer, as for
instance, he says, That _the Father had given him power over all flesh;
that he should give eternal life to as many as he had given him_, ver.
2. the sense of which words will sink too low, if we suppose that he
intends thereby, thou hast given me power to dispose of all persons and
things in this world, that I may give eternal life to that small number
which thou hast given me, namely, my disciples; whereas he speaks of
that universal dominion which he has over all persons and things, which
were committed to him with this view, that all those who were put into
his hand to redeem and save, should attain eternal life: and again, he
says, _I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out
of the world; thine they were, and thou gavest them me, and they have
kept thy word_, ver. 6. Did Christ manifest the divine name and glory to
none but those who were his disciples; and were there none but them that
had kept his word? And when he says, that they whom he prayed for, are
the Father’s; and adds, that _all mine are thine, and thine are mine;
and I am glorified in them_, ver. 9, 10. Is the number of those, whom
Christ has a right to, and the Father has set apart for himself, in whom
he would shew forth his glory, as the objects of his love, and in whom
Christ, as Mediator, was to be glorified, so small, as that it contained
only the eleven disciples? Or does it not rather respect all that have,
or shall believe, from the beginning to the end of time? and when he
speaks of _the world’s hating them, because they are not of the world_,
John xvii. 14, 15. and of their being exposed to the evils that are in
the world, or the assaults of Satan, who is their avowed enemy; is this
only applicable to the disciples? And when he says, _Neither pray I for
these alone_, that is, for those who now believe, _but for them also
which shall believe_, ver. 20. does it not plainly intimate that he had
others in view besides his disciples? These, and several other passages
in this prayer, are a sufficient evidence that there is no weight in the
objection, to overthrow the argument we are maintaining.

5. Believers’ perseverance in grace may be proved from the Spirit and
seed of God abiding in them. When at first they were regenerated, it was
by the power of the Holy Ghost, as condescending to come and take up his
abode in them: thus we read of their being acted by, and under the
influence of, the Holy Ghost, who is said to dwell where he is pleased
to display his divine power and glory; and if these displays hereof be
internal, then he dwells in the heart. Our Saviour speaks of him, as
_another Comforter_ given, _that he may abide_ with his people _for
ever_, chap. xiv. 19. And this indwelling of the Spirit is very distinct
from that extraordinary dispensation which the church had, when they
were favoured with inspiration; for the apostle speaks of it as a
privilege peculiar to believers as such, when he says, _Ye are not in
the flesh, but in the Spirit; if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in
you: Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his_,
Rom. viii. 9. the meaning of which cannot be, that they have no interest
in Christ, who have not the extraordinary _afflatus_ of the Spirit, such
as the prophets had; therefore we must suppose, that this is a privilege
which believers have in all ages. Now if the Spirit is pleased to
condescend thus to take up his abode in the soul, and that for ever, he
will certainly preserve it from apostacy.

And to this we may add, that there are several fruits and effects of the
Spirit’s dwelling in the soul, which affords an additional proof of this
doctrine: thus believers are said to have _the first fruits of the
Spirit_, ver. 23. that is, they have those graces wrought in them which
are the beginning of salvation; and as the first fruits are a part of
the harvest that will follow, these are the fore-tastes of the heavenly
blessedness which God would never have bestowed upon them had he not
designed to preserve them from apostasy. Moreover, believers are said to
be _sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of
their inheritance_, Eph. i. 13, 14. The earnest, as given by men, is
generally deemed a part of payment, upon which they who are made
partakers thereof, are satisfied that they shall, at last, receive the
full reward; and shall believers miss of the heavenly blessedness, who
have such a glorious pledge and earnest of it? Again, if we consider
_the Spirit as bearing witness with their spirits, that they are the
children of God; and if children, then heirs, heirs of God, and joint
heirs with Christ_; and that _they shall be glorified together_ with
him, Rom. viii. 16, 17. is this testimony invalid, or not to be depended
on, which it could not be were it possible for them to fall from a state
of grace?

This testimony is what we depend very much upon, in order to our
attaining assurance that we are in a state of grace, and shall persevere
therein, as will be observed under the next answer; therefore we shall
at present, take it for granted, that there is such a thing as
assurance, or that this blessing is attainable; and the use which I
would make of this supposition to maintain our present argument, is,
that if the Spirit has an hand in working or encouraging this hope that
we have of the truth of grace, and consequently shall persevere therein
to salvation, this argues that it is warrantable, and not delusive; for
he that is the author or giver of it cannot deceive our expectation, or
put us upon looking for that which is not a reality. From whence it
follows, that it is impossible that they should apostatize, to whom _God
has given_ this _good hope through grace_, so that they should fail of
that _everlasting consolation_, which is connected with it, 2 Thess. ii.
16. This consequence will hardly be denied by those who are on the other
side of the question; and we may observe, that they who oppose the
doctrine of perseverance, always deny that of assurance, especially as
proceeding from the testimony of the Spirit: nevertheless, that we may
not be misunderstood, we do not say, that every one who has a strong
persuasion that he shall be saved, shall be saved; which is no other
than enthusiasm; but our argument is, in short, this, that if there be a
witness of the Spirit to this truth, that cannot be charged therewith,
then the doctrine we are maintaining, is undeniably true, which will
more evidently appear from what will be said in defence of the doctrine
of assurance under our next answer.

And therefore we proceed to the other branch of the argument
before-mentioned, to prove this doctrine, namely, that believers have
the seed of God abiding in them; which is founded on what the apostle
says in 1 John iii. 9. _Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin;
for his seed abideth in him, and he cannot sin because he is born of
God_; for the understanding of which let us consider,

(1.) That by the words, _he cannot commit sin_, the apostle does not
intend that such an one is not a sinner, or that there is such a thing
as sinless perfection attainable in this life; for that is contrary, not
only to the whole tenor of scripture, and daily experience of mankind;
but to what he had expressly said, _If we say we have no sin, we deceive
ourselves, and the truth is not in us_, 1 John i. 8. Therefore, in this
text, upon which our present argument is founded, he is, doubtless,
speaking of persons committing sins, inconsistent with the truth of
grace, as he says in a foregoing verse, _Whosoever sinneth hath not seen
him, neither known him_, chap. iii. 6. it is such a sin therefore as
argues a person to be in a state of unregeneracy; and then, _He that
committeth sin is of the devil_, ver. 8. therefore he certainly speaks
of such a commission of sin, as argues us to be under the reigning power
of the devil: and that this may plainly appear to be his sense, we may
observe, that he elsewhere distinguishes between _a sin that is unto
death_, and a sin that is _not unto death_, chap. v. 16, 17. by which he
does not mean, as the Papists suppose, that some sins deserve eternal
death, and others not; the former of which they call mortal sins; the
latter venial; but he is speaking of a sin that is inconsistent with the
principle of grace, and that which is consistent therewith; the former
is sometimes called _the pollution that is in the world, through lust_,
2 Pet. i. 4. the latter _the spot of God’s children_, Deut. xxxii. 5.
The least sin deserves death, though they who commit it shall not
perish, but be brought to repentance; but the _sin unto death_ is wilful
sin, committed and continued in with impenitency; and with this
limitation we are to understand the apostle’s words, _He who is born of
God doth not commit sin_.

(2.) We shall now consider the reason assigned, why the person he speaks
of, cannot, in this sense, commit sin; namely, because he is _born of
God_, and _the seed of God abideth, in him_. To be born of God, is what
is elsewhere styled regeneration, or being born of the Spirit, in which
there is a principle of grace implanted, which is here called _the seed
of God_. And, indeed, this metaphorical way of speaking is very
expressive of the thing designed hereby; for as in nature the seed
produces fruit, and in things moral, the principle of action produces
action, as the principle of reason produces acts of reason: so in things
spiritual, the principle of grace produces acts of grace; and this
principle being from God, which has been largely proved under a
foregoing answer,[89] it is called here, _the seed of God_.

(3.) This seed of God, or this principle is not barely said to be in the
believer, as that which, for the present, is the ground of spiritual
actions; but it is said to _remain in him_. As elsewhere Christ speaks
of the Spirit as _abiding_ with his people _for ever_, John xiv. 16. so
here the apostle speaks of that principle of grace wrought by the
Spirit, as abiding, that is, continuing for ever; and from thence he
infers, that a believer _cannot sin_; for if he had been only speaking
of its being implanted, but not abiding; all that could be inferred from
thence would be, that he does not sin; but whereas, he argues from it,
that he cannot sin, that is, apostatize; it being understood, that this
principle abides in him continually; which plainly contains the sense of
the argument we are maintaining, namely, that because the seed of God
abides in a believer, therefore he cannot apostatize, or fall short of

They who are on the other side of the question, seem to find it very
difficult to evade the force of this argument: some suppose that the
apostle intends no more but that he that is born of God, should not
commit sin; but that is not only remote from the sense of the words
_cannot sin_;[90] but it does not sufficiently distinguish one that is
born of God, from another that is not so; for it is as much a truth,
that an unregenerate person ought not to sin, as when we speak of one
that is regenerate.

Others, by not sinning, suppose that the apostle means, they sin with
difficulty, or they are hardly brought to commit sin; but as this also
does not answer to the sense of the word _cannot_ sin, so it is
inconsistent with that beautiful gradation, which we may observe in the
words. To say that he does not sin; and then if he commits sin, it is
with some difficulty, is not so agreeable to that climax, which the
apostle makes use of, when he says, he does not commit sin, yea, he

Others suppose that the apostle’s meaning is, that he that is born of
God, cannot sin unto death, or apostatize, so as to fall short of
salvation, so long as he makes a right use of this principle of grace,
which is implanted in him; but by opposing and afterwards extinguishing
it, he may become an apostate. But we may observe; in answer to this,
that the apostle does not attribute his perseverance in grace, to his
making use of the principle, but his having it, or its abiding in him;
and he sufficiently fences against the supposition of its being possible
that the principle of grace may be wholly lost; for then this seed could
not be said to abide in him, nor would the inference deduced from its
abiding in him, namely, that he cannot sin, be just.

Thus, concerning this latter branch of the argument to prove the saints’
perseverance in grace, taken from the seed of God, abiding in believers:
But there is one thing must be observed before I dismiss this head,
_viz._ That the principle of grace, which is signified by this metaphor,
though it be, and abide in a believer; yet it does not always exert
itself so as to produce those acts of grace which would otherwise
proceed from it. This cannot be better illustrated than by a similitude
taken from the soul, which is the principle of reason in man; though it
be as much so in an infant in the womb as it is in any, yet it is
altogether unactive; for most allow that such have not the exercise of
thought or acts of reason; and when a person is newly born, it hardly
appears that this principle is deduced into act; and in those in whom it
has been deduced into act, it may be rendered stupid, and almost
unactive, or at least, so disordered, that the actions which proceed
from it cannot be styled rational, through the influence of some bodily
disease, with which it is affected, yet still it remains a principle of
reason. The same may be said concerning the principle of grace; it is
certainly an unactive principle in those who are regenerate from the
womb; and it may cease to exert itself, and be with equal reason, styled
an unactive principle in believers, when they fall into very great sins,
to which it offers no resistance: This we shall take occasion to apply
under a following head, when we shall consider some objections that are
brought against this doctrine, by those who suppose that believers, when
sinning presumptuously, as David, Peter, and others, are said to have
done, fail totally, though not finally. There was indeed a total
suspension of the activity of this principle, but yet the principle
itself was not wholly lost; but more of this in its proper place. We are
therefore bound to conclude, that because this principle abides in them,
they can neither totally nor finally apostatize, and therefore, that
they can neither fall from a state of grace, nor fail, at last, of

Thus we have endeavoured to explain and shew the force of those
arguments which are contained in this answer to prove the doctrine of
the saints’ perseverance. There are several others that might have been
insisted on; and particularly it may be proved, from the end and design
of Christ’s death, which was not only that he might purchase to himself
a peculiar people, but that he might purchase eternal life for them; and
we cannot think that this invaluable price would have been given for the
procuring of that which should not be applied, in which respect Christ
would be said to die in vain. When a person gives a price for any thing,
it is with this design, that he or they, for whom he purchased it,
should be put into the possession of it; which, if it be not done, the
price that was given is reckoned lost, and the person that gave it
disappointed hereby.

And this argument may be considered as having still more weight in it,
if we observe, that the salvation of those whom Christ has redeemed, not
only redounds to their happiness, but to the glory of God the Father,
and of Christ, our great Redeemer. God the Father, in giving Christ to
be a propitiation for sin, designed to bring more glory to his name than
by all his other works: Thus our Saviour appeals to him in the close of
his life, _I have glorified thee on the earth, I have finished the work
which thou gavest me to do_, John xvii. 14. The work was his, and there
was a revenue of glory which he expected thereby; and this glory did not
only consist in his receiving a full satisfaction for sin, that so he
might take occasion to advance his grace in forgiving it; but he is said
to be glorified, when his people are enabled to _bear much fruit_, chap.
xv. 8. Therefore the glory of God the Father is advanced by the
application of redemption, and consequently by bringing his redeemed
ones to perfection.

The Son is also glorified, not barely by his having those honours, which
his human nature is advanced to, as the consequence of his finishing the
work of redemption, but by the application thereof to his people;
accordingly he is said to be _glorified in them_, chap. xviii. 10. that
is, his mediatorial glory is rendered illustrious by all the grace that
is conferred upon them; and therefore, certainly he will be eminently
glorified, when they are brought to be with him, where he is, to behold
his glory. Now can we suppose, that since the Father and the Son
designed to have so great a glory redound to them by the work of our
redemption, that they will sustain any loss thereof, for want of the
application of it to them, for whom it was purchased. If God designed,
as the consequence thereof, that the saints should sing that new song,
_Thou art worthy, for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by
thy blood, out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation_:
And if God the Father, and the Son, are both joined together, and their
glory celebrated therein, by their ascribing _blessing, glory, and
power, unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb, for
ever and ever_, Rev. v. 19. compared with 13. Then certainly they will
not lose this glory; and therefore, the saints shall be brought into
that state where they shall have occasion thus to praise and adore them
for it.

If it be objected to this, that God, the Father and the Son, will be
glorified, though many of his saints should apostatize, and the death of
Christ be, to no purpose, with respect to them, because all shall not
apostatize. The answer to this is plain and easy; that though he could
not be said to lose the glory he designed, by the salvation of those who
persevere, yet some branches of his glory would be lost, by reason of
the apostacy of others, who fall short of salvation; and it is a
dishonour to him to suppose that he will lose the least branch thereof,
or that any of those, for whom Christ died, should be for ever lost.

We might also add, that for the same reason that we suppose one whom
Christ has redeemed, should be lost, all might be lost, and so he would
lose all the glory he designed to have in the work of redemption. This
appears, in that all are liable to those temptations, which, if complied
with, have a tendency to ruin them. All are supposed to be renewed and
sanctified but in part, and consequently the work of grace meets with
those obstructions from corrupt nature; which would certainly prove too
hard for all our strength, and baffle our utmost endeavours to
persevere, did not God appear in our behalf, and keep us by his power.
Now, if all need strength from him to stand, and must say, that without
him they can do nothing, then we must either suppose, that that grace is
given to all saints which shall enable them to persevere, or else that
it is given to none; if it be given to none, but all are left to
themselves, then that which overthrows the faith of one, would overthrow
the faith of all; and consequently we might conclude, that whatever God
the Father, or the Son have done, in order to the redemption and
salvation of the elect might be of none effect.

I might produce many other arguments in defence of the saints’
perseverance, but shall conclude this head with two or three scriptures,
whereby the truth hereof will farther appear: Thus our Saviour says to
the woman of Samaria, _Whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give
him, shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him, shall be
in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life_, John iv. 14.
Where, by the water that Christ gives, is doubtless understood the gifts
and graces of the Spirit; these are not like the waters of a brook, that
often deceive the expectation of the traveller; but they are a well of
water, intimating that a believer shall have a constant supply of grace
and peace till he is brought to the rivers of pleasure, which are at
God’s right-hand, and is made partaker of eternal life. Again, our
Saviour says, _He that heareth my word and believeth on him that sent
me, hath everlasting life_, chap. v. 24. _i. e._ it is as surely his as
though he was in the actual possession of it; and he farther intimates,
that such are not only justified for the present; but they shall not
come into condemnation; certainly this implies that their salvation is
so secure as that it is impossible for them to perish eternally.

Another scripture that plainly proves this doctrine, is in 2 Tim. ii.
19. _Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal,
the Lord knoweth them that are his; and let every one that nameth the
name of Christ depart from iniquity_; in which words the apostle
encourages the church to hope for perseverance in grace, after they had
had a sad instance of two persons of note, _viz._ Hymeneus and Philetus,
who had not only _erred from the truth_, but _overthrown the faith of
some_; and he cautions every one, who makes a profession of religion, as
they would be kept from apostatizing, to depart from iniquity, _q. d._
since many of you are ready to fear that your faith shall be overthrown,
as well as that of others, by the sophistry or cunning arts of those
apostates who lie in wait to deceive, you may be assured that their
state is safe, who are built upon that foundation which God has laid,
that _chief corner stone, elect, precious_, viz. Christ, _on whom he
that believeth, shall not be confounded_, 1 Pet. ii. 6. or else, that
the instability of human conduct shall not render it a matter of
uncertainty, whether they, who are ordained to eternal life, shall be
saved or no; for that depends on God’s purpose, relating hereunto, which
is a sure foundation, and has this seal annexed to it, whereby our faith
herein may be confirmed, that they whom God has set apart for himself,
and lays a special claim to, as his chosen and redeemed ones, whom he
has foreknown and loved with an everlasting love, shall not perish
eternally, because the purpose of God cannot be frustrated. But inasmuch
as there is no special revelation given to particular persons, that they
are the objects of this purpose cf grace; therefore every one that names
or professes the name of Christ ought to use the utmost caution, that
they be not ensnared; let them depart from all iniquity, and not
converse with those who endeavour to overthrow their faith. And, indeed,
all that are faithful shall be kept from iniquity by God, as they are
here given to understand that it is their duty to endeavour to depart
from it, and consequently they shall be kept from apostacy. This seems
to be the sense of these words; and it is agreeable to the analogy of
faith, as well as a plain proof of the doctrine which we are

A late writer[91], by _the foundation of God, which standeth sure_,
supposes the doctrine of _the resurrection_ is intended, which Hymeneus
and Philetus denied, saying, that it _was past already_; this doctrine,
says he, which is a fundamental article of faith, _standeth sure, having
this seal the Lord knoweth them that are his_; that is, he loveth and
approveth of them. But though it be true the resurrection is spoken of
in the foregoing verse, and we do not deny that it is a fundamental
article of faith; yet that does not seem to be the meaning of the word
_foundation_, in this text. For if by the resurrection we understand the
doctrine of the general resurrection of the dead, I cannot see where the
force of the apostle’s argument lies, _viz._ that there shall be a
general resurrection, because the Lord knoweth who are his, since the
whole world are to be raised from the dead. But if by the resurrection
we are to understand a resurrection to eternal life, so that they who
are known or beloved of God, shall have their part in it, and the
apostle’s method of reasoning be this, that they who believe shall be
raised to eternal life; that is, so far from militating against the
argument we are maintaining, that it is agreeable to the sense we have
given of the text, and makes for, rather than against us.

As to what is farther advanced by the author but now mentioned, _viz._
that _the Lord knoweth who are his_, is to be taken for that regard
which God had to his apostles and ministers. This seems too great a
strain on the sense of the words, and so much different from the scope
of the apostle therein, as well as disagreeable to the caution given,
that _every one who names the name of Christ_ should _depart from
iniquity_, that no one who reads the scriptures without prejudice, can
easily give into this sense of the text.

I shall mention but one scripture more for the proof of this doctrine,
and that is in 1 John ii. 19. _They went out from us, but they were not
of us; for if they had been of us, they would, no doubt, have continued
with us; but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they
were not all of us_; for the understanding of which, let it be
considered, that the apostle is speaking of some who were formerly
members of the church, who afterwards turned apostates and open enemies
to Christ, and his gospel: It is plain that the words _they went out
from us_, and _they were not of us_, must be taken in different
respects, otherwise it would imply a contradiction, to say that a person
departed from the faith and communion of the church, when he never
embraced it, or had communion with it; but if they understand it thus,
they left the faith and communion of the church because they were
Christians only in pretence, and did not heartily embrace the faith on
which the church was built; nor were they really made partakers of that
grace, which the apostles, and other faithful members of the church, had
received from God, as being effectually called thereby, the sense is
very plain and easy, _viz._ That there were some false professors, who
made a great shew of religion, and were admitted into communion with the
church, and, it may be, some of them preached the gospel, and were more
esteemed than others; but they apostatized; for they had not the truth
of grace, but were like the seed that sprang up without having root in
itself, which afterwards withered; whereas, if they had had this grace
it would have been abiding, and so they would, _without doubt_, says the
apostle, _have continued with us_; but by their apostacy it appears,
that they were not, in this sense, of our number, that is believers.

They who understand this scripture, not of persons who were members of
the church, but ministers, that first joined themselves with the
apostles, and afterwards deserted them, and their doctrine, advance
nothing that tends to overthrow the argument we are maintaining; for we
may then understand the words thus, they pretended to be the true
ministers of Jesus Christ, and doubtless, to be, as the apostles were,
men of piety and religion, for, in other respects, they were of them
visibly, whilst they preached the same doctrines; but afterwards, by
departing from the faith, it appeared, that though they were ministers
they were not sincere Christians, for if they had, they would not have

IV. We shall now proceed to consider the objections that are usually
brought against the doctrine of the saints’ perseverance in grace.

_Object._ 1. It is objected, that there are several persons mentioned in
scripture, who appear to have been true believers, and yet apostatized,
some totally, as David and Peter; others not only totally, but finally,
in which number Solomon is included; and others are described as
apostates, such as Hymeneus and Alexander, who are said _concerning
faith, to have made shipwreck_, and therefore it is supposed that they
had the grace of faith; and Judas is also, by them, reckoned to have
been a true believer, whom all allow afterwards to have proved an

_Answ._ 1. As to the case of David and Peter, it is true, their fall was
very notorious, and the former seems to have continued some months in a
state of impenitency; and when they fell, there appeared no marks of
grace in either of them. Peter’s sin, indeed, was committed through
surprize and fear; but yet it had such aggravating circumstances
attending it, that if others, whose character is less established than
his was, had committed the same sin, we should be ready to conclude,
that they were in a state of unregeneracy; and David’s sin was committed
with that deliberation, and was so complicated a crime, that if any
believer ever lost the principle of grace, we should have been inclined
to suppose this to have been his case. Nevertheless, that which gives us
ground to conclude that this principle was not wholly extinguished,
either in Peter or him, at the same time that they fell; and therefore,
that they were not total apostates, is what we before observed, that the
principle of grace may be altogether unactive, and yet abide in the
soul, agreeably to the sense we gave of that scripture, _his seed
abideth in him_; and if what has been already said concerning the
possibility of the principle of grace remaining, though it makes no
resistance against the contrary habits of sin, be of any force,[92] then
these and other instances of the like nature, on which one branch of the
objection is founded, will not be sufficient to prove the possibility of
the total apostacy of any true believer.

2. As to the case of Solomon; that he once was a true believer is
allowed on both sides; for it is said concerning him, soon after he was
born, that _the Lord loved him_, 2 Sam. xii. 24, 25. upon which occasion
he gave him that significant name, Jedidiah, the beloved of the Lord;
and it is certain, that in the beginning of his reign, his piety was no
less remarkable than his wisdom, as appears from his great zeal,
expressed in building the temple of God, and establishing the worship
thereof; and also from that extraordinary instance of devotion with
which he dedicated or consecrated the house to God, 1 Kings viii. 1. &
_seq._ and the prayer put up to him on that occasion, and also from
God’s appearing to him twice: in his first appearance he condescended to
ask him, what he would give him? and upon Solomon’s choosing, _an
understanding heart_, to judge his people, he was pleased with him, and
gave him several other things that he asked not for; so that there were
_not any among the kings like unto him_, chap. iii. 5, 9, 10, 12, 13.
from all this it is taken for granted, that he once was a believer: but,
on the other hand, we must, if we duly weigh the force of the objection,
set the latter part of his life against the former, in which we find him
guilty of very great sins; not only in multiplying wives and concubines,
beyond what any of his predecessors had done, but in that _his heart was
turned away after other gods, and_, as it is expressly said, _was not
perfect with the Lord his God, as was the heart of David, his father_,
chap. xi. 4. And it is also said, that _the Lord was angry with Solomon,
because his heart was turned from the Lord God of Israel, which had
appeared to him twice_, ver. 9. and on this occasion he determined to
rend part of the kingdom from his son, ver. 13. which came to pass
accordingly; and all this is said to have been done _when he was old_,
ver. 4. And after this we read of several that were _stirred up as
adversaries_ to him, ver. 14, 23, 26. And in the remaining part of his
history we read of little but trouble and uneasiness that he met with;
and this seemed to continue till his death, of which we have an account
in 1 Kings xi. chapter throughout, which contains the history of his
sin, and troubles; and we read not the least word of his repentance
therein; for which reason he is supposed, in the objection, to have
apostatized totally and finally.

The main strength of this objection lies in the supposition, that
Solomon did not repent of his idolatry which he committed in his old
age, or, as it is supposed, in the latter part of his life, and also
from the silence of scripture as to the matter; especially in that part
of it which gives an account of his fall and death. But this is not
sufficient to support the weight of the objection, and to oblige us to
conclude him to be an apostate; for there is nothing that appears from
the account we have of him in scripture, but that he might have
sufficient time for repentance between his fall and death. It is said
indeed, that in his old age his wives turned him aside, but this they
might do, and yet he not die an apostate; for sometimes that part of
life which is called old age, comprises in it several years; therefore,
when he began to be in his declining age, he might sin, and after that
be brought to repentance. And as for the scripture’s speaking first of
his fall, and then of his death; it does not follow from thence that one
was immediately after the other; since the history of the blemishes and
troubles of his life is but short.

On the other hand, there are several things which may give us ground to
conclude, that he repented after his fall; particularly,

(1.) We have an intimation hereof in God’s promise relating thereunto,
in which it is supposed, that God would suffer him to fall, and a
provisionary encouragement is given to expect that he should be
recovered: thus he says, _I will chastise him with the rod of men, and
with the stripes of the children of men; but my mercy shall not depart
away from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away before thee_, 1
Sam. vii. 14, 15. and the same thing is repeated, in which his fall is
supposed, and his recovery from it particularly mentioned, in Psal.
lxxxix. 30-34. as though God had designed that this should be a
supplement to his history, and remove the doubts which might arise from
it, with relation to his salvation.

(2.) There are some things in other parts of scripture, which give
sufficient ground to conclude, that he was a true penitent, which
plainly refer to that part of his life which was between his fall and
his death. Thus, if we duly weigh several passages in Ecclesiastes,
which none can deny that he was the inspired writer of, inasmuch as it
is said, in the title or preface set before it, that they are _the words
of the preacher, the son of David, king of Jerusalem_, we shall find
many things in which he expresses the great sense of the vanity of his
past life, when he says, _I gave my heart to know wisdom, and to know
madness and folly_, Eccl. i. 17. where, by _madness and folly_, he
doubtless intends that which was so in a moral sense, when he indulged
his sinful passions, which respects the worst part of his life. And this
he farther insists on; _Whatsoever mine eyes desired, I kept not from
them, I withheld not my heart from any joy, for my heart rejoiced in all
my labour_, Eccl. ii. 10. or in all things, which afterwards were matter
of grief and uneasiness to me; in which he observes how he did, as it
were, take pains to bring on himself a long train of miseries that
troubled him afterwards; and then he plainly expresses his repentance,
when he says, _All was vanity and vexation of spirit_, and there was _no
profit under the sun_, ver. 11. as though he should say, I turned from
God to the creature, to see what happiness I could find therein, but met
with nothing but disappointment; he had no profit in those things,
whereof he was now ashamed. It is probable, God shewed him the vanity
thereof, by his chastening him, or visiting his transgressions with the
rod, and his iniquities with stripes, as he had promised to do; and this
ended in vexation of spirit, which is a plain intimation of that godly
sorrow that proceeded from a sense of sin, which made him, beyond
measure, uneasy; and this vexation or uneasiness was so great, that he
says, _I hated life_, that is, I hated my past wicked life, and abhorred
myself for it, _because the work that is wrought under the sun, is
grievous unto me_; that is, the work that I have wrought, was such as
gave me grief of heart; _for all is vanity and vexation of spirit_, ver.
17. that is, this is all the consequence thereof: it cannot be supposed
that he was weary of his life for the same reasons that many others are,
who are deprived of the blessings of common providence, and reduced to
that condition that makes them miserable, as to their outward
circumstances in the world; but it was the uneasiness he found in his
own spirit, the secret wounds of conscience and bitterness of soul,
which arose from a sense of sin, that made him thus complain.

And elsewhere, he seems to be sensible of his sin, in heaping up vast
treasures, which he calls _loving silver_; and adds, that such an one,
which seems very applicable to his own case, _shall not be satisfied
with silver, nor he that loveth abundance, with increase; this is also
vanity_, chap. v. 10. that is, this had been an instance of his former
vanity: and he adds, _The sleep of a labouring man is sweet, whether he
eat little or much; but the abundance of the rich will not suffer him to
sleep_, ver. 12. If by this we understand that the increase of riches
sometimes gives disturbance to, and stirs up the corruptions of those
that possess them, and this be applied to himself, it is an
acknowledgment of his sin. Or, if we understand by it that the abundance
of a rich man will not give him rest at night, when his mind is made
uneasy with a sense of the guilt of sin, and this be applied to his own
case, when fallen by it; then it intimates that his repentance gave him
not only uneasiness by day, but took away his rest by night; and it
seems not improbable, that what gave him farther occasion to see the
vanity of his past life, was the sense of mortality impressed on him;
for he says, _It is better to go to the house of mourning than to go to
the house of feasting; for that is the end of all men, and the living
will lay it to his heart_, chap. vii. 3. that is, he will, or ought to
improve the sense of his own frailty, which we may conclude he had done;
and therefore adds, _Sorrow is better than laughter; for by the sadness
of the countenance, the heart is made better_, ver. 3.

But if it be objected, that all these expressions are not applicable to
himself, and many others of the like nature, which might have been
referred to, which are expressive of his great repentance; though I
cannot but think that the contrary to this seems very probable; yet
there is something farther added, that he expressly applies to himself,
which refers to his unlawful love of women: _I find more bitter than
death the woman whose heart is snares, and nets, and her hands as bands.
Whoso pleaseth God shall escape from her, but the sinner shall be taken
by her: behold, this have I found, saith the preacher_, ver. 26, 27. If
these things be not expressive of repentance, it is hard to say what

And to this we may add, that as he expresses a grief of heart for past
sins; so he warns others that they may not be guilty of that which he
himself found more bitter than death; and accordingly, having described
the arts used by the wicked woman, to betray the unthinking passenger,
he cautions every one to take heed of declining to her ways; inasmuch as
the consequence thereof will be, that a _dart_ will _strike through his
liver_, and he is _as a bird that hasteth to the snare, and knoweth not
that it is for his life_, Prov. vii. 23. compared with the foregoing
verses. He also adds, That _she hath cast down many wounded; yea, many
strong men have been slain by her. Her house is the way to hell, going
down to the chambers of death_, ver. 26, 27. So that we find in Solomon,
two of the greatest evidences that we can have of sincere repentance;
namely, a great degree of sorrow for sin, and an earnest desire that
others would avoid it, by giving those cautions that are necessary to
prevent their falling into the snare in which he had been entangled.

(3.) There is something spoken in Solomon’s commendation, after his
death, which may be gathered from what is said, that during the three
first years of Rehoboam’s reign, which God approved of he _walked in the
way of David and Solomon_, 2 Chron. xi. 17. where we may observe, that
Solomon is joined with his father David: so that as there were
abatements to be made for the blemishes in David’s reign; the reign of
Solomon had in it great blemishes: but as one repented, so did the
other, and therefore ought not to be reckoned an apostate.

And to all this we may add, that he was a penman of scripture; and it
does not appear that God conferred this honour upon any that apostatized
from him; but on the other hand, they have this general character given
of them by the apostle Peter, that they were all _holy men of God_, 2
Pet. i. 21. which we must conclude Solomon to have been, till we have
greater evidence to the contrary than they can produce who deny it.

3. There are others mentioned in the objection, to wit, Hymeneus and
Alexander, whose apostacy we have no ground to doubt of; but we cannot
allow that they fell from, or lost the saving grace of faith. It is one
thing to fall from the profession of faith, and another thing to lose
the grace of faith; therefore, the only thing to be proved in answer to
this branch of the objection, is, that these persons, who are described
as apostates, never had the truth of grace; or that they only fell from
that visible profession which they made thereof; whereby they were
reckoned to be, what in reality they were not, namely, true believers.
Now that this may appear, let it be considered,

That the apostle speaks of them as having _departed from the faith_,
viz. the doctrines of the gospel; and that was attended with blasphemy,
for which they were _delivered unto Satan_, which is a phrase used by
the apostle here and elsewhere, for persons being cut off from the
communion of the church; upon which occasion he advises Timothy _to hold
faith and a good conscience, which some having put away, concerning
faith, have made shipwreck_, as these have done.

Now the main force of the objection seems to lie in this, that they who
have made shipwreck of faith, were once true believers; therefore, such
may apostatize, and so fall short of salvation.

To which it may be replied, that by _faith_ here, is meant the doctrines
of the gospel, which are often styled _faith_: thus it is said, that the
apostle _preached the faith which once he destroyed_, Gal. i. 23. and
elsewhere, _before faith came_; that is, before the gospel-dispensation
began, and those doctrines were preached that were to be published
therein to the world, _we were kept under the law_, chap. iii. 23. And
again, _Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the
hearing of faith_, ver. 2. that is, by hearing those doctrines that are
contained in the gospel. Therefore, that which he chargeth these
apostates with, is making shipwreck of faith, considered objectively:
they once, indeed, held the truth, but it was in unrighteousness; they
had right notions of the gospel, which they afterwards lost: now the
apostle advises Timothy not only to _hold faith_, that is, to retain the
doctrines of the gospel, as one who had right sentiments of divine
truths, but to hold it _with a good conscience_; for I take that
expression, _hold faith and a good conscience_, to contain an
_hendyadis_; and so it is the same as though he should say, Be not
content with an assent to the truths of the gospel, but labour after a
conscience void of offence towards God, that thou mayst have the
testimony thereof, that thy knowledge of divine truth is practical and
experimental, and then thou art out of danger of making shipwreck of
faith, as these have done, who held it without a good conscience. It is
not said they made shipwreck of a good conscience; for that they never
have had; but _concerning faith_, which they once professed, _they made

The same thing may be said concerning Judas; he apostatized from the
faith, which he once made a very great profession of, being not only one
of Christ’s disciples, but sent forth with the rest of them, to preach
the gospel, and work miracles; yet it is evident, that he had not the
saving grace of faith. For our Saviour, who knew the hearts of all men,
was not deceived in him (though others were) inasmuch as it is said, _He
knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should
betray him_, John vi. 64. However, the principal force of the objection
lies in this, that Judas must needs have been a believer, because he was
given to Christ; and our Saviour says, that _those who were given him
were kept by him, and none of them was lost but the son of perdition_,
chap. xvii. 12. His being styled _the son of perdition_, argues him an
apostate; and his being _given to Christ_ denotes that he was once a
true believer; therefore he fell totally and finally. In answer to

(1.) Some conclude, that they who are said to _be given to Christ_, are
such as were appointed, by the providence of God, to be his servants in
the work of the ministry. Now it is said concerning them, that they were
given to Christ, to be employed by him in this service; and that all of
them were kept faithful, except the son of perdition. If this be the
sense of their being given to him, it does not necessarily infer their
being made partakers of special grace: it is one thing to be given to
Christ, to be employed in some peculiar acts of service, in which his
glory is concerned; and another thing to be given to him, as being
chosen and called by him, to partake of special communion with him: if
Judas had been given to him in this latter sense, he would not have been
a son of perdition, but would have been kept by him, as the other
disciples were; but inasmuch as he was only given to Christ, that he
might serve the design of his providence, in the work of the ministry,
he might be lost, or appear to be a son of perdition, and yet not fall
from the truth of grace.

(2.) If, by being _given to Christ_, we understand a being given to him,
as objects of his special love, we must suppose, that all who were thus
given to him, were kept by him; in which sense Judas, who is called _the
son of perdition_, and was not kept by him, was not given to him:
accordingly the particle _but_ is not exceptive, but adversative; and it
is as though he should say, _All that thou gavest me I have kept, and
none of them is lost; but the son of perdition is lost_, I have not
preserved him; for he was not the object of my special care and love; he
was not given me to save, therefore he is lost. Now it is certain, that
the particle _but_ is used in this sense in many other scriptures,
particularly that wherein it is said, _There shall in no wise enter into
it_, that is, the heavenly Jerusalem, _any thing that defileth, neither
whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie, but they which are
written in the Lamb’s book of life_, Rev. xxi. 27. _q. d._ ungodly men
shall not enter in; but they that are written in the lamb’s book of life
shall[93]. Thus much concerning this objection, taken from particular
persons, who are supposed to have fallen from grace.

_Obj._ 2. The next objection is taken from what the apostle Paul says
concerning the church of the Jews, whom he describes as apostatized from
God; and it is evident, that they are, to this day, given up to judicial
blindness, and not in the least disposed to repent of that crime for
which they were cast off by him; concerning these he says, that they
once were holy; _If the first fruit be holy, the lump is also holy; and
if the root be holy, so are the branches_, Rom. xi. 16. and afterwards
he speaks of _their casting away_, and _some of the branches being
broken off, because of unbelief_, ver. 15, 17, 19, 20. Now if the whole
church apostatized, we must conclude at least, that some of them were
true believers, and therefore true believers may fall from the grace of

_Answ._ That the church of the Jews apostatized, and were cut off for
their unbelief, is sufficiently evident: but we must distinguish between
the apostacy of a professing people, such as the church of the Jews
were, who first rejected God, and then were cast off by him, and the
apostacy of those who were truly religious among them; the apostle
himself gives us ground for this distinction, when he says, _they are
not all Israel which are of Israel; neither because they are the seed of
Abraham are they all children_, chap. ix. 6, 7. And elsewhere he
distinguishes between one who is _a Jew_, as being partaker of the
external privileges of the covenant, which that church was under, and a
person’s being _a Jew_, as partaking of the saving blessings thereof; as
he says, _He is not a Jew which is one outwardly, neither is that
circumcision, which is outward in the flesh; but he is a Jew which is
one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and
not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God_, Rom. ii. 28,
29. A church may lose its external privileges, and cease to have the
honourable character given it; the greatest part of them may be blinded,
when, at the same time _the election_, that is, all among them who were
chosen to eternal life, _obtained it_, as the apostle observes, chap.
xi. 7. and thereby intimates, that some who were members of that church
were faithful; those were preserved from the common apostacy, being
converted to the Christian faith. Their privileges, as members of a
church, were lost, but they still retained their spiritual and
inseparable union with Christ, which they had as believers, and not as
the result of their being the natural seed of Abraham, they were made
partakers of the blessings that accompany salvation; and therefore were
not separated from the love of God in Christ, whilst formal professors
and hypocrites, who were Abraham’s natural seed, but not his spiritual,
were cast off by Christ.

_Obj._ 3. It is farther objected, that there are some who have the
character of righteous persons, concerning whom it is supposed, that
they may fall away or perish; particularly those mentioned in Ezek.
xviii. 24. _When the righteous man turneth away from his righteousness,
and committeth iniquity, and doth according to all the abominations that
the wicked man doth, shall he live? All his righteousness that he hath
done shall not be mentioned, in the trespass that he hath trespassed,
and in his sin that he hath sinned, in them shall he die_: And in Heb.
x. 38. it is said, _The just shall live by faith; but if any man_, or,
as the word should be rendered, if _he draw back, my soul shall have no
pleasure in him_. Therefore, since the righteous man may turn from his
righteousness, and draw back to perdition, the doctrine of the saints’
perseverance cannot be defended.

_Answ._ 1. As to the former of these scriptures, we must consider the
sense thereof agreeably to the context, and the scope and design of the
prophet therein; he had often reproved them for those vile abominations
which they were guilty of, and had denounced the threatnings of God,
which should have their accomplishment in their utter ruin;
particularly, he fortels the judgments that should sweep away many of
them before, and others that should befal them in the captivity: this is
the subject principally insisted on by the prophets Jeremiah and
Ezekiel; whereupon sometimes they were represented as disliking the
doctrine, desiring that _smooth things_ might be prophesied unto them,
and _the holy one of Israel might cease from before them_. At other
times they are represented as complaining of the hardship of this
dispensation, intimating that it was unjust and severe, and, at the same
time, justifying themselves, as though they had done nothing that
deserved it; but all this was to befal them for the sins of their
fathers, and accordingly there was a proverbial expression often made
use of by them, mentioned verse 2d of this chapter, _The fathers have
eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge_; by which
they did not understand that we expect to perish eternally for our
fathers’ sins, in which sense it must be taken, if this objection has
any force in it: now God, by the prophet, tells them that they had no
reason to use this proverb, and so puts them upon looking into their
past conduct, and enquiring, whether they had not been guilty of the
same sins that their fathers were charged with? which, if they could
exculpate themselves from, they should be delivered, and not die, that
is, not fall by those judgments which either should go before, or follow
the captivity; for that seems to be the sense of _dying_, according to
the prophetic way of speaking, as we have observed elsewhere.[94] For
the understanding of this scripture we must consider, that the prophet
addresses himself to _the house of Israel_, who are represented, ver.
25. as complaining, that _the way of the Lord was not equal_; or, that
God’s threatnings or judgments, which were the forerunners of the
captivity, were such as they had not deserved; and therefore he tells
them that he would deal with them according to their deserts, ver. 24.
_When the righteous_, that is, one whose conversation before this seemed
to be unblemished, and he not guilty of those enormous crimes which were
committed by others (which may be supposed, and yet the person not be in
a state of grace) I say, when such an one _turneth away from his
righteousness, and doth according to all the abominations that the
wicked man doth_, that is, becomes openly vile and profligate; _shall he
live?_ can he expect any thing else but that God should follow him with
exemplary judgments, or that he should be involved in the common
destruction? _In his sin that he hath sinned shall he die._ And on the
other hand, ver. 27. _When the wicked man turneth away from his
wickedness_; that is, they who have been guilty of these abominations
shall reform their lives, or turn from their idolatry, murders,
adulteries, oppressions, and other vile crimes, that the people in
general were charged with, by the prophet, which are assigned as the
reason of God’s sending this dreadful judgment of the captivity; I say,
if there be such an instance of reformation, _he shall save his soul
alive_; that is, either he shall be delivered from the captivity, or
shall be preserved from those temporal judgments that either went before
or followed after it. This reformation, and deliverance from these
judgments, includes in it something less than saving grace, and a right
to eternal life, which is inseparably connected with it, so that if
nothing else be intended by the _righteous_ and _wicked man_; and if the
judgments threatened, or their deliverance from them, in case of
reformation, includes no more than this, it is evident, that it does not
in the least suppose, that any true believer shall apostatize or fall
from a state of grace. As we may distinguish between eternal death and
temporal judgments; so we must distinguish between a person’s abstaining
from the vilest abominations, as a means to escape these judgments; and
his exercising those graces that accompany salvation. There may be an
external reformation in those who have no special grace, if nothing
farther be regarded than a person’s moral character, or inoffensive
behaviour in the eye of the world. If we only consider him as abstaining
from those sins which are universally reckoned disreputable among those
who make any pretensions to religion, and in this respect he be
denominated a righteous man, such an one may turn away from his
righteousness and become immoral and profligate, and so be reckoned
among the number of apostates: nevertheless he cannot be said to
apostatize or fall from the grace of God, since moral virtue or the
exercise of righteousness in our dealings with men is as much inferior
to saving grace, as a form of godliness is to the power thereof.

2. As to the other scripture, mentioned in the objection, it is
generally urged against us as an unanswerable argument, taken from the
express words thereof, to prove the possibility of the saints’ apostacy;
and our translation is charged with a wilful mistake, to serve a turn,
and make the text speak what it never intended, since all who understand
the original must allow that it ought to be rendered, _If he draw back_,
which supposes that the just man may apostatize, or draw back unto
perdition. To which it may be replied,

(1.) That though the words, according to the form in which they are laid
down, contain a supposition, it does not infer the being or reality of
the thing supposed[95]; but only this, that if such a thing should
happen, it would be attended with what is laid down as a consequence
thereof. This is very agreeable to our common mode of speaking, as when
we say; if a virtuous person should commit a capital crime, he will fall
under the lash of the law as much as though he had made no pretensions
to virtue; nevertheless, it does not follow from hence, that such an one
shall do it, or expose himself to this punishment; or, on the other
hand, if a king should say to a criminal, as Solomon did to Adonijah,
‘If he will shew himself a worthy man, there shall not an hair of him
fall to the earth,’ it cannot be concluded from hence, that he will
behave himself so as that his life shall be secured to him. The
proposition is true, as there is a just connexion between the
supposition and the consequence; yet this does not argue that the thing
supposed shall come to pass. Now to apply this to the scripture, under
our present consideration; the proposition is doubtless true, that if
the just man should draw back, so as to become a wicked man, if he
should lose the principle of grace which was implanted in regeneration,
and abandon himself to the greatest impieties, he would as certainly
perish as though he had never experienced the grace of God; but it must
not be inferred from hence, that God will suffer such an one, who is the
object both of his love and care, thus to fall and perish, so that his
soul should have no pleasure in him.

(2.) If we suppose the person here spoken of, whom we consider as a true
believer, to draw back, we may distinguish between backsliding or
turning aside from God, by the commission of very great sins; and
apostacy. Or between drawing back, by being guilty of great crimes, so
as to expose himself to sore judgments; and his drawing back to
perdition. The just man in this text, is said, indeed, to draw back, but
he is distinguished from one that draws back to perdition; as it is said
in the following verse, ‘We are not of them who draw back to perdition,
but of them that believe, to the saving of the soul.’ Such a drawing
back as this, though it shall not end in perdition, inasmuch as the
person shall be recovered and brought to repentance; yet it shall be
attended with very great marks of God’s displeasure against believers,
for those sins which they have committed, as well as others;
accordingly, _his soul having no pleasure_ in them, denotes that he
would, in various instances, reveal his wrath against relapsing
believers, as a display of his holiness, who shall nevertheless be
recovered and saved at last. If these things be duly considered, the
objection seems to have no weight in it, though it should be allowed,
that the words upon which it is principally founded, are not rightly

However, I cannot see sufficient reason to set aside our translation, it
being equally just to render the words, _if any man draw back_[96];
since the supplying the words _any man_, or _any one_, is allowed of in
many other instances, both in the Old and New Testament. Therefore there
is not the least incongruity in its being supplied in the text under our
present consideration[97]; and, if it be, the sense that we give of it,
will appear very agreeable to the context; accordingly the meaning is,
‘The just shall live by faith,’ or they who ‘know in themselves that
they have in heaven a better and an enduring substance,’ as in one of
the foregoing verses: These shall live by faith, but as for others who
do not live by faith, having only a form or shew of religion, ‘whose
manner is to forsake the assembling of themselves together,’ as in verse
25. these are inclined to _draw back_; therefore, let them know that _if
any one_, or _whosoever draws back_, it will be at their peril; for it
will be to their own _perdition_; yet saith the apostle, that true
believers may not be discouraged by the apostacy of others, let them
take notice of what is said in the following words, ‘We are not of them
who draw back unto perdition, but of them that believe, to the saving of
the soul.’ These things being duly considered, it will be sufficiently
evident that this text does not militate against the doctrine of the
saints’ perseverance.

_Obj._ 4. There is another objection brought against the doctrine we
have been endeavouring to maintain, taken from what the apostle says in
Heb. vi. 4, 5, 6. ‘It is impossible for those who were once enlightened,
and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the
Holy Ghost, and have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the
world to come, if they shall fall away, to renew them again unto
repentance, seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and
put him to an open shame.’ The force of this objection lies in two
things, _viz._ that they are described as total and final apostates; and
also, that according to the account we have of their former
conversation, they appear then to have been true believers.

_Answ._ This is thought, by some, who defend the doctrine of the saints’
perseverance, to be one of the most difficult objections that we
generally meet with against it; especially they who cannot see how it is
possible for a person to make such advances towards true godliness, and
yet be no other than an hypocrite or formal professor, are obliged to
take a method to set aside the force of the objection, which I cannot
give into, namely, that when the apostle says, _It is impossible_ that
such should be _renewed again to repentance_; the word _impossible_
denotes nothing else, but that the thing is exceeding difficult, not
that they shall eventually perish; because they are supposed to be true
believers; but their recovery after such a notorious instance of
backsliding, shall be attended with difficulties so great that nothing
can surmount, but the extraordinary power of God; and though he will
recover them, yet they shall feel the smart thereof as long as they
live; they shall be saved, yet so as by fire[98].

But notwithstanding the word _impossible_ may be sometimes taken for
that which is very difficult, I cannot but conclude that the apostle is
here speaking of that which is impossible, with respect to the event,
and therefore, that he is giving the character of apostates who shall
never be recovered. This appears, not only from the heinousness of the
crime, as they are said _to crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh,
and put him to an open shame_; but from what is mentioned in the
following verses, in which they are compared to _the earth that bringeth
forth thorns and briars, which is rejected, and nigh unto cursing, whose
end is to be burned_; and from their being distinguished from those who
shall be saved, concerning whom the apostle was _persuaded better
things, and things that accompany salvation_; therefore he is speaking
here concerning a total and final apostasy.

But that this may not appear to militate against the doctrine we are
maintaining, I shall endeavour to shew, that notwithstanding the
character the apostle gives of the persons he here speaks of they were
destitute of the truth of grace, and therefore nothing is said
concerning them, but what a formal professor may attain to: That this
may appear let it be considered,

1. That they are described as _once enlightened_; but this a person may
be, and yet be destitute of saving faith. If by being _enlightened_ we
understand their having been baptized, as some critics take the word,
which was afterwards, in some following ages, used in that sense, it
might easily be alleged, that a person might be baptized and yet not be
a true believer: But since I question whether baptism was expressed by
illumination in the apostles age[100], I would rather understand by it,
their having been convinced of the truth of the gospel, or yielded an
assent to the doctrines contained therein. Now this a person may do, and
yet be destitute of saving faith, which is seated not barely in the
understanding, but in the will, and therefore supposes him not only to
be rightly informed, with respect to those things which are the object
of faith, but to be internally and effectually called, from whence
saving faith proceeds, as has been before observed.

2. They are said to have _tasted the good word of God_; which agrees
with the character before given of those who had a temporary faith[101],
who seemed, for a while, pleased with the word, and their affections
were raised in hearing it; as Herod is said to have _heard John the
Baptist gladly, and to have done many things_; like those whom our
Saviour compares to the seed sown in stony ground, which soon sprang up,
but afterwards withered away. This a person may do, and yet not have
saving faith; for it is one thing to approve of, and be affected with
the word, and another thing to mix it with that faith which accompanies
salvation. A person may entertain those doctrines contained in the word
which relate to a future state of blessedness with pleasure; as all men
desire to be happy, and at the same time be far from practising the
duties of self-denial, taking up the cross, and following Christ,
mortifying indwelling sin, and exercising an intire dependance upon, and
resignation to him in all things: This contains much more than what is
expressed by _tasting the good word of God_.

3. They are farther described as having _tasted the heavenly gift, and
being made partakers of the Holy Ghost, and of the powers of the world
to come_; all which expressions, I humbly conceive, carry in them no
more than this, that they had been enabled to work miracles, or that
they had a faith of miracles, which has been before described[102], and
proved to fall very short of saving faith[103]. Therefore these
characters given of them do not argue that they were true believers, and
consequently the objection, which depends on the supposition that they
were, is of no force to prove that saints may totally or finally fall
from grace.

_Obj._ 5. The next objection against the doctrine we have been
maintaining, is taken from Heb. x. 29. _Of how much sorer punishment
suppose ye shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the
Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was
sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the spirit of
grace._ The crime here spoken of is of the heinous nature, and the
greatest punishment is said to be inflicted for it: Now, inasmuch as
these are described as having been _sanctified by the blood of the
covenant_, it follows, that they were true believers, and consequently
true believers may apostatize, and fall short of salvation.

_Answ._ The force of the objection lies principally in those words, _the
blood of the covenant wherewith he was sanctified_; which expression is
taken, by divines, in two different senses.

1. Some take the word _he_ in the same sense as it is taken in the
objection, as referring to the apostate; and then the difficulty which
occurs, is how such an one could be said to be sanctified by the blood
of the covenant, and yet not regenerate, effectually called, or a true
believer: To solve this, they suppose, that by _sanctification_ we are
only to understand a relative holiness, which such have who are made
partakers of the common grace of the gospel: Thus it is said, _Israel
was holiness unto the Lord_, Jer. ii. 3. or, as the apostle Peter
expresses it, _an holy nation_, 1 Pet. ii. 9. as they were God’s people
by an external covenant relation, and by an explicit consent to be
governed by those laws which he gave them when they first became a
church, Exod. xxiv. 3. and publicly avouched him to be their God, and he
avouched them to be his peculiar people, which was done upon some solemn
occasions, Deut. xxvi. 17, 18. Nevertheless, many of them were destitute
of the special grace of sanctification, as it contains in it a thorough
and universal change of heart and life. Moreover, they suppose that this
privilege of being God’s people, by an external covenant-relation,
together with all these common gifts and graces that attend it, was
purchased by, and founded on the blood of Christ, which is called _the
blood of the covenant_, inasmuch as he was _given for a covenant of the
people_, Isa. xlii. 6. and pursuant hereunto, he shed his blood to
procure for them the external as well as the saving blessings of the
covenant of grace; the former of these, the persons here described as
apostates, are supposed to have been made partakers of, as the apostle
says, _To them pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the
covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the
promises_, Rom. ix. 4. they worshipped him in all his ordinances, as
those whom the prophet speaks of, _who seek him daily, and delight to
know his ways, as a nation that did righteousness, and forsook not the
ordinance of their God; they ask of him the ordinances of justice, and
take delight in approaching to God_; and yet these things were not done
by faith, Isa. lviii. 2. In this respect persons may be sanctified, and
yet afterwards forfeit, neglect, despise and forsake these ordinances,
and lose the external privileges of the covenant of grace, which they
once had, and so become apostates. This is the most common method used
to solve the difficulty contained in the objection. But I would rather
acquiesce in another way, which may be taken to account for the sense of
those words, _the blood of the covenant wherewith he was sanctified_.
Therefore, let it be considered,

2. That the word _he_ may be understood, not as referring to the
apostate, but our Saviour, who is spoken of immediately before: thus the
apostate is said to ‘trample under foot the Son of God, and count the
blood of the covenant wherewith He, that is, Christ, ‘was sanctified, an
unholy thing.’ That this sense may appear just, it may be observed, that
Christ was sanctified or set apart by the Father, to perform all the
branches of his Mediatorial office, in two respects.

(1.) As he was fore-ordained or appointed, by him, to come into the
world to shed his blood for the redemption of his people: thus his
undertaking to redeem them is called his sanctifying, or devoting
himself to perform this work, as he says, ‘For their sakes I sanctify
myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth,’ John
xvii. 19. this he did in pursuance of the eternal transaction between
the Father and him, relating hereunto. But it will be said, that this
was antecedent to his dying for them; and therefore, properly speaking,
he could not be said, in this respect, to be _sanctified by the blood of
the covenant_; therefore, to this we may add,

(2.) That he was also sanctified, or set apart by the Father, to apply
the work of redemption after he had purchased it; which sanctification
was, in the most proper sense, the result of his shedding his blood,
which was the blood of the covenant; so that as he was ‘brought again
from the dead,’ as the apostle speaks, ‘through the blood of the
everlasting covenant,’ Heb. xiii. 20. all the blessings which he applies
to his people as the consequence hereof, are the result of his being
sanctified, or set apart to carry on and perfect the work of our
salvation, the foundation whereof was laid in his blood.

Moreover, that they who are here described as apostates, had not before
this, the grace of faith, is evident from the context, inasmuch as they
are distinguished from true believers. The apostle seems to speak of two
sorts of persons, to wit, some who had cast off the ordinances of God’s
worship, ‘forsaking the assembling of themselves together,’ who are
distinguished from those whom he dehorts from this sin, who _had_ the
grace of _faith_, whereby they were enabled to ‘draw near to God in full
assurance thereof, having their hearts sprinkled from an evil
conscience, and their bodies washed with pure water;’ concerning these
he says, ‘We are not of them who draw back to perdition, but of them who
believe to the saving of the soul,’ chap. x. 39. Therefore we must
conclude that others are intended in the text under our present
consideration, who were not true believers, and consequently it does not
from hence appear that such may totally, or finally, fall from a state
of grace.

The apostates spoken of in this and the foregoing objection, were
probably some among the Jews, to whom the gospel was preached, who
embraced the Christian faith, being convinced by those miracles which
were wrought for that purpose, but afterwards revolted from it, and were
more inveterately set against Christ and the gospel than they had been
before they made this profession; and accordingly as they had formerly
approved of the crimes of those who crucified Christ, in which respect
they are said to have crucified him; now they do, in the same sense,
crucify him afresh. And as they had been made partakers of the
extraordinary gifts of the Holy Ghost; afterwards they openly blasphemed
him, and this was done with spite and malice. These texts therefore not
only contain a sad instance of the apostasy of some, but prove that they
were irrecoverably lost; and this comes as near the account we have in
the gospels of the unpardonable sin, as any thing mentioned in
scripture: nevertheless, what has been said to prove that they never
were true believers, is a sufficient answer to this and the foregoing

_Objec._ 6. Another objection against the doctrine of the saints’
perseverance, is taken from 2 Pet. ii. 20-22. _For if after they have
escaped the pollutions of the world, through the knowledge of the Lord
and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and
overcome; the latter end is worse with them than the beginning_; and
they are said in the following verse, to _turn from the holy commandment
delivered unto them_; which is compared to the _dog turning to his own
vomit again, and the sow that was washed, to her wallowing in the mire_.

_Answ._ To this it may be replied, That though every one must conclude,
that the persons, whom the apostle here speaks of, plainly appear to be
apostates; yet there is nothing in their character which argues that
they apostatized, or fell from the truth of grace; and it is only such
whom we are at present speaking of. It may be observed, that the apostle
is so far from including these apostates in the number of those to whom
he writes this, with the foregoing epistle, whom he describes _as elect,
according to the fore-knowledge of God the Father, through
sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood
of Jesus Christ_, and as having been _begotten again unto a lively hope,
by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, to an inheritance reserved for them
in heaven_, and as such, who should be _kept by the power of God,
through faith, unto salvation_, 1 Pet. i. 2-5. that he plainly
distinguishes them from them. For in verse 1, of this chapter, from
whence it is taken, it is said, ‘There shall be false teachers among
you, and many shall follow their pernicious ways;’ he does not say many,
who are now of your number, but many who shall be joined to the church,
when these false teachers arise. These persons, indeed, are represented
as making a great shew of religion, by which they gained reputation
among some professors, whom they seduced which otherwise they could not
have done; and therefore it is said, ‘They had escaped the pollutions of
the world, through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ,’
and that they had ‘known the way of righteousness.’ Such might indeed be
joined to the church afterwards; but they did not now belong to it; and
what is said concerning them, amounts to no more than an external
visible reformation, together with their having attained the knowledge
of Christ and divine things; so that they were enlightened in the
doctrines of the gospel; though they made it appear, by the methods they
used to deceive others, that they had not experienced the grace of the
gospel themselves, and therefore they fell away from their profession,
and turned aside from the faith, which once they preached. It is one
thing for a formal professor, who makes a great show of religion, to
turn aside from his profession, to all excess of riot; and another thing
to suppose a true believer can do so, and that to such a degree as to
continue therein; this the grace of God will keep him from.

_Objec._ 7. Another objection against the doctrine of the saints’
perseverance, is taken from the parable of the debtor and creditor, in
Matt, xviii. 26, _&c._ in which it is said, ‘The servant fell down and
worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee
all. Then the Lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed
him, and forgave him the debt;’ but afterwards, upon his treating one of
his fellow-servants, who owed him a very inconsiderable sum, with great
severity, his lord exacted the debt of him, which he had before forgiven
him, and so _delivered_ him _to the tormentors_, till he should pay all
that was due to him: ‘So likewise,’ it is said, ‘shall my heavenly
Father do unto you, if ye, from your hearts forgive not every one his
brother their trespasses;’ from whence it is inferred, that a person may
fall from a justified state, or that God may forgive sin at one time,
and yet be provoked to alter his resolution, and inflict the punishment
that is due to it, at another; which is altogether inconsistent with the
doctrine of the saints’ perseverance in grace.

_Answ._ In answer to this we must observe, that our Saviour’s design in
his parables, is not that every word or circumstance contained in them,
should be applied to signify what it seems to import, but there is some
truth in general intended to be illustrated thereby, which is
principally to be regarded therein. Thus in the parable of the _judge_,
in Luke xviii. 2, &c. ‘which feared not God, neither regarded man,’ who
was moved, by a widow’s importunity, to ‘avenge her of her adversary;’
which after a while, he resolved to do, because the widow _troubled
him_. This is applied to ‘God’s avenging his elect, who cry day and
night unto him;’ where we must observe, that it is only in this
circumstance that the parable is to be applied to them without any
regard had to the injustice of the judge, or his being uneasy, by reason
of the importunity which the widow exprest in pleading her cause with

Again, in the parable of the _steward_, in Luke xvi. 1, &c. who being
accused for having _wasted his lord’s goods_; and apprehending that he
should be soon turned out of the stewardship, he takes an unjust method
to gain the favour of his lord’s debtors, by remitting a part of what
they owed him, that by this means they might be induced to shew kindness
to him when he was turned out of his service. It is said indeed, verse
8. that ‘the lord commended the unjust steward, because he had acted
wisely;’ whereas, our Saviour does not design, in the account he gives
of his injustice, to give the least countenance to it, as though it were
to be imitated by us; nor by his lord’s commending him as acting wisely
for himself, does he intend that it is lawful or commendable for wicked
men to pursue the like measures to promote their future interest. But
the only thing in which this parable is applied, is, that we might learn
from hence, that ‘the children of this world are, in their generation
wiser than the children of light;’ and that men ought to endeavour,
without the least appearance of injustice, to gain the friendship of
others, by using what they have in the world, in such a way, as that
they may be induced, out of gratitude for those favours, which they
conferred upon them, to shew respect to them; but principally, that in
performing what was really their duty, they might have ground to hope
that they shall be approved of God, and received into everlasting

Now to apply this rule to the parable from whence the objection is
taken, we must consider, that the design hereof is not to signify that
God changes his mind, as men do, by forgiving persons at one time, and
afterwards condemning them, as though he did not know, when he extended
this kindness to them, how they would behave towards others, or whether
they would improve or forfeit this privilege; since to suppose this
would be contrary to the divine perfections. Therefore the only design
of the parable is to shew, that they who now conclude that God has
forgiven them, ought to forgive others, or else they will find
themselves mistaken at last: and though according to the tenor of the
divine dispensations, or the revealed will of God, which is our only
rule of judging concerning this matter, they think that they are in a
justified state, it will appear, that the debt which they owed was not
cancelled, but shall be exacted of them to the utmost, in their own
persons; so that all that can be proved from hence is, that a man may
fall from, or lose those seeming grounds, which we had to conclude that
his sins were forgiven: but we are not to suppose that our Saviour
intends hereby that God’s secret purpose, relating to the forgiveness of
sin, can be changed; or that he, who is really freed from condemnation,
at one time, may fall under it at another: therefore, what is said in
this parable, does not in the least give countenance to this objection,
or overthrow the doctrine we are maintaining.

_Objec._ 8. There is another objection, taken from what the apostle Paul
says concerning himself, in 1 Cor. ix. 27. _I keep under my body, and
bring it into subjection, lest that by any means, when I have preached
to others, I myself should be a cast-away._ Now it is certain that the
apostle was a true believer; yet he concludes, that if he did not behave
himself so as to subdue or keep under his corrupt passions, but should
commit those open scandalous crimes, which they would prompt him to, he
should, in the end, become a cast-away, that is, apostatize from God,
and be rejected by him.

_Answ._ To this it may be replied, That though the apostle had as good
ground to conclude that he had experienced the grace of God in truth, as
any man, and was oftentimes favoured with a full assurance hereof; yet
he did not attain this assurance by immediate revelation, so as he
received those doctrines which he was to impart to the church as a rule
of faith; for then it would have been impossible for him to have been
mistaken as to this matter: and if this be supposed, then I would
understand what he says concerning his being _a cast-away_, as denoting
what would be the consequence of his _not keeping under his body_; but
not implying hereby that corrupt nature should so far prevail, as that
he should fall from a sanctified state. Now if he did not attain this
assurance by immediate revelation, then he had it in the same way as
others have, by making use of those marks and characters which are given
of the truth of grace; and accordingly he argues, that though, at
present, he thought himself to be in a sanctified state, from the same
evidences that others conclude themselves to be so; yet if corrupt
nature should prevail over him, which it would do, if he did not keep
his body in subjection, or if he were guilty of those vile abominations
which unregenerate persons are chargeable with, then it would appear,
that this assurance was ill grounded, his hope of salvation delusive,
and he no other than an hypocrite; and so, notwithstanding his having
preached to others, he would be found, in the end, among them who were
false professors, and accordingly rejected of God: therefore we may
observe, that it is one thing for a person to exercise that caution, and
use those means to prevent sin, which, if he should commit, would prove
him an hypocrite; and another thing for one that is a true believer, to
be suffered to commit those sins whereby he would apostatize from God,
and so miss of salvation.

And this will serve to answer another objection that is usually brought
against the doctrine we are maintaining, as though it were inconsistent
with that holy fear which believers ought to have of falling, as an
inducement to care and watchfulness in the discharge of their duty; as
it is said in Prov. xxviii. 14. _Happy is the man that feareth always_;
inasmuch as we must distinguish between that fear of caution, which is a
preservative against sin, and includes a watchfulness over our actions,
that we may not dishonour God thereby; and an unbelieving fear, that
though we are in a state of grace, and are enabled to exercise that
diligence and circumspection that becomes christians, yet we have no
foundation whereon to set our foot, or ground to hope for salvation. Or,
it is one thing to fear, lest we should, by giving way to sin, dishonour
God, grieve his Spirit, and wound our own consciences, and do that which
is a disgrace to the gospel, through the prevalency of corrupt nature,
whereby we shall have ground to conclude that we thought ourselves
something when we were nothing, deceiving our own souls; and another
thing to fear that we shall perish and fall, though our hearts are right
with God, and we have reason to expect that we shall be kept by his
power, through faith, unto salvation.

We shall conclude this answer with some few inferences from what has
been said, to prove the doctrine of the saints’ perseverance as
contained therein. And,

1. Since we do not pretend to assert that all who make a profession of
religion are assured that they shall never apostatize, but only true
believers, let unbelievers take no encouragement from hence to conclude,
that it shall be well with them in the end. Many are externally called
who are not really sanctified; and presume that they shall be saved,
though, without ground, inasmuch as they continue in impenitency and
unbelief; such have no warrant to take comfort from the doctrine we have
been maintaining.

2. We may, from what has been said, observe the difference between the
security of a believer’s state, as his hope is fixed on the stability of
the covenant, and the promises thereof, relating to his salvation,
together with the Spirit’s witness, with ours, concerning our own
sincerity; and that which we generally call carnal security, whereby a
person thinks himself safe, or that all things shall go well with him,
though he make provision for the flesh to fulfil the lusts thereof: This
is an unwarrantable security in a state of unregeneracy, or
licentiousness, which this doctrine does not in the least give
countenance to.

3. From what has been said concerning the apostasy of some from that
faith which they once made a profession of, we may infer; that it is
only the grace of God experienced in truth, that will preserve us from
turning aside from the faith of the gospel. The apostle speaks of some
who, by embracing those doctrines that were subversive of the gospel,
are _fallen from grace_, Gal. v. 4. that is, from the doctrines of
grace; concerning whom he says, that _Christ profited them nothing_, or
was _become of no effect to them_, chap. v. 2, 4. that is, the gospel,
which contains a display of the glory of Christ, was of no saving
advantage to them. All the sad instances we have of many, who are tossed
to and fro with every wind of doctrine, and are made a prey to those
that lie in wait to deceive, proceed from their being destitute of the
grace of God, which would have a tendency to preserve them from turning
aside from the faith of the gospel.

4. Let us be exhorted to be as diligent and watchful against the
breakings forth of corruption, and endeavour to avoid all occasions of
sin, as much as though perseverance in grace were to be ascribed to our
own endeavours, or as though God had given us no ground to conclude that
he would enable us to persevere; and yet, at the same time, depend on
his assistance, without which this blessing cannot be attained, and hope
in his mercy and faithfulness, and lay hold on the promises which he has
given us, that it shall go well with us in the end, or that we shall
have all joy and peace in believing.

5. Let us not only endeavour to persevere, but grow in grace; which two
blessings are joined together; as it is said, _The righteous also shall
hold on his way; and he that hath clean hands shall be stronger and
stronger_, Job xvii. 9.

6. This doctrine has a great tendency to support and fortify believers,
under the most adverse dispensations of providence, which, at any time,
they are liable to; and to comfort them under all the assaults of their
spiritual enemies; since though they may be suffered to discourage or
give them interruption in the exercise of those graces which they have
experienced, yet grace shall not be wholly extinguished. And sometimes,
by the over-ruling providence of God, those things which in themselves
have a tendency to weaken their faith, shall be ordered as a means to
increase it; so that when they can do nothing in their own strength,
they may be enabled, by depending on Christ, and receiving strength from
him, to prevail against all the opposition they meet with, and come off
_more than conquerors_, at last, _through him that loved them_, Rom.
viii. 37.

Footnote 81:

  _See Whitby’s discourse, &c._ _page 463._

Footnote 82:

  _See Vol. I. Page 469._

Footnote 83:

  _See Vol. I. page 481, and page 135-138._

Footnote 84:

  _See Vol. II. page 170, 171._

Footnote 85:

  _See Vol. I. page 477_, & albi passim.

Footnote 86:

  _See Vol. I. page 437._

Footnote 87:

  _See Page 11, 12, ante._

Footnote 88:

  _See Vol. II. page 473-479. Quest._ lv.

Footnote 89:

  _See Page 30, ante._

Footnote 90:

  _The words are_ ου δυναται αμαρτανειν.

Footnote 91:

  _See Whitby’s Discourse, &c. Page 67, 68, 463._

Footnote 92:

  _See page 213, 214, ante._

Footnote 93:

  _See several other scriptures, in which_ μη _is taken adversatively_,
  Matt. xxiv. 35. Gal. i. 7. Rev. ix. 4.

Footnote 94:

  _See Vol. II page 333-335._

Footnote 95:

  _It is a known maxim in logic_, Suppositio nihil ponit in esse.

Footnote 96:

  Εαν υποστειληται.

Footnote 97:

  _It is certain, that the particles_ τις, אשר, _and others of the like
  import, are often left out, and the defect thereof is to be supplied
  in our translation: Thus it is in_ Job xxxiii. 27. _where the Hebrew
  word, which might have been rendered_ and he shall say, _is better
  rendered_ and if any say, &c. _and in_ Gen. xlviii. 2. _instead of_ he
  told Jacob, _it is better rendered_ one told Jacob, _or_ somebody
  _told him; and in_ Mark ii. 1. τις, _which is left out in the Greek
  text, is supplied in the translation, in which we do not read it_
  after days, _but_ after some days. _See Nold. Concord. Partic. Page
  41, 42. in which several texts of scripture are produced to the same
  purpose, and among the rest, this in_ Heb. x. 38. _which we are at
  present considering as what ought to be rendered_ if any one draw
  back. _In this and such like instances we may observe, that the verb
  personal has an impersonal signification, or that which is properly
  active is rendered passively; so_ Eccl. ix. 15. זמצא בה _is not
  rendered_ and he found in it, &c. _but_ now there was found in it;
  _many other instances of the like nature are to be observed in the
  Hebrew text in the Old Testament; and sometimes this mode of speaking
  is imitated by the Greek text in the New. I might also observe, with
  respect to the scripture under our present consideration, that the
  learned Grotius observes that_ τις _ought to be supplied, and
  consequently the text ought to be rendered as it is in our
  translation_, if any man draw back, _which he observes as what is
  agreeable to the grammatical construction thereof, without any regard
  to the doctrine we are maintaining, with respect to which, he is
  otherwise minded_.

Footnote 98:

  _To give countenance to this sense of the word_ impossible, _they
  refer to some scriptures, in which it does not denote an absolute
  impossibility of the thing, but only that if it comes to pass it will
  be with much difficulty. Thus it is said_, Acts xx. 16. _that the
  Apostle_ Paul hasted, if it were possible for him to be at _Jerusalem_
  the day of Pentecost; _where his making haste argues that the thing
  was not in itself impossible, but difficult. And_ Rom. xii. 18. _we
  are exhorted_, if it be possible, as much as in us lieth, to live
  peaceably with all men; _which shews that it is hard indeed so to do;
  nevertheless, we are to use our utmost endeavours to do it, which does
  not argue that the thing is in itself altogether impossible. And there
  is another scripture they bring to justify this sense of the words in_
  Matt. xix. 23-26. _in which our Saviour’s design is to shew the
  difficulty of a rich man’s entering into the kingdom of heaven, which
  he compares to a_ camel’s going through the eye of a needle; _by which
  very few suppose, that the beast, so called, is intended, but a
  cable-rope, which is sometimes called a_ camel; _thus the Syriack[99]
  and Arabick versions translate the word_:

  _And a learned writer observes, that the Jews, in a proverbial way,
  express the difficulty of a thing by that of a cable-rope’s passing
  through the eye of a needle, See Buxt. Lex. Talmud. Pane 1719. and
  Bochart Hiero. Part. 1. Lib. 2. Cap. 3. And by_ needle _is not meant
  that which is used in working, but an iron, through which a small rope
  may be easily drawn; though it was very difficult to force a camel or
  cable-rope through it; therefore they suppose our Saviour is not
  speaking of a thing which is absolutely impossible, but exceeding
  difficult; and this may be inferred from his reply to what the
  disciples objected_, who then can be saved, _when he says_, with men
  this is impossible, but with God all things are possible. _And to
  apply this to the scripture under our present consideration, they
  suppose that the apostle, when he speaks of the renewing of those
  persons to repentance, does not intend that which is absolutely
  impossible, but that it cannot be brought about but by the
  extraordinary power of God, with whom all things are possible._

Footnote 99:

  The ancient Syriac is ܠܓܡܠܐ the modern is the same word, which is
  literally καμηλον _a camel_, not καμιλον _a cable_. This Eastern
  proverb is now well established. Vide Campbell, Clarke, &c.

Footnote 100:

  _We do not find the word used in that sense till the second century_,
  _by Justin Martyr [Vid. ejusd. Dial. 2.] and Clemens Alexandrinus [in
  Pædag. Lib. 1. cap. 6.] and therefore we are not altogether to take
  our measures in explaining the sense of words, used in scripture, from
  them, who sometimes mistake the sense of the doctrine, contained
  therein. However, if we take the word in this sense, it does not
  militate against our argument, since a person may be baptized, who is
  not in a state of grace and salvation._

Footnote 101:

  _See Pag. 124, 125 ante._

Footnote 102:

  _See Pag. 122, 123 ante._

Footnote 103:

  _There seems to be an hendyadis in the apostle’s mode of speaking. By
  the heavenly gift we are to understand extraordinary gifts, which are
  called the Holy Ghost elsewhere_, Acts xix. 2. _because they were from
  the Holy Ghost as effects of his power, and wrought to confirm the
  gospel dispensation, which is called the world to come_, Heb. ii. 6.
  _and therefore they are styled the powers of the world to come_.

                              Quest. LXXX.

    QUEST. LXXX. _Can true believers be infallibly assured that they are
    in the estate of grace, and that they shall persevere therein unto

    ANSW. Such as truly believe in Christ, and endeavour to walk in all
    good conscience before him, may, without extraordinary revelation,
    by faith grounded upon the truth of God’s promises, and by the
    Spirit, enabling them to discern in themselves those graces to which
    the promises of life are made, and bearing witness with their
    spirits, that they are the children of God, be infallibly assured
    that they are in a state of grace, and shall persevere therein unto

Having before considered a believer as made partaker of those graces of
the Holy Spirit that accompany salvation, whereby his state is rendered
safe, and also that he shall not draw back unto perdition, but shall
attain the end of his faith, even the salvation of his soul; it is
necessary for the establishing of his comfort and joy, that he should
know himself to be interested in this privilege. It is a great blessing
to be redeemed by Christ, and sanctified by the Spirit; but it is a
superadded privilege to know that we are so, or be assured that we are
in a state of grace, which is the subject insisted on in this answer: In
which we are led,

I. To speak something concerning the nature of assurance, and how far
persons may be said to be infallibly assured of their salvation.

II. We shall endeavour to prove that this blessing is attainable in this

III. We shall consider the character of those to whom it belongs. And,

IV. The means whereby it may be attained.

I. Concerning the nature of assurance, and how far persons may be said
to be infallibly assured of their salvation. Assurance is opposed to
doubting; which is inconsistent therewith; so that he who has attained
this privilege, is carried above all those doubts and fears respecting
the truth of grace, and his interest in the love of God, which others
are exposed to, whereby their lives are rendered very uncomfortable: It
may also be considered as containing in it something more than our being
enabled to hope that we are in a state of grace; for though that affords
relief against despair, yet it falls short of assurance, which is
sometimes called _a full assurance of hope_, Heb. vi. 11. and it
certainly contains a great deal more than a probability, or a
conjectural persuasion relating to this matter; which is the only thing
that some will allow to be attainable by believers, especially they who
deny the doctrine of the saints’ perseverance, and lay the greatest
stress of man’s salvation on his own free-will, rather than the
efficacious grace of God. All that they will own as to this matter is,
that persons may be in a hopeful way to salvation, and that it is
probable they may attain it at last. But they cannot be fully assured
that they shall, unless they were assured concerning their perseverance,
which, they suppose, no one can be; because the carrying on of the work
of grace depends on the free-will of man, as well as the first beginning
of it; and according to their notion of liberty, as has been before
observed under another answer[104], _viz._ that he who acts freely may
act the contrary; and consequently, since every thing that is done in
the carrying on of the work of grace, is done freely; no one can be
assured that this work shall not miscarry; therefore none can attain
assurance; this is what some assert, but we deny. And it is observed in
this answer, that believers may not only attain assurance that they are
in a state of grace, and shall persevere therein unto salvation, but
that they may be infallibly assured hereof, which is the highest degree
of assurance. How far this is attainable by believers, may be the
subject of our farther inquiry.

It is a matter of dispute among some, whether assurance admits of any
degrees, or whether a person can be said to be more or less assured of a
thing? or whether that which does not amount to the highest degree of
certainty, may be called assurance? This is denied, by some, for this
reason; because assurance is the highest and strongest assent that can
be given to the truth of any proposition; accordingly the least defect
of evidence on which it is supposed to be founded, leaves the mind in a
proportionable degree of doubt, as to the truth of it; in which case
there may be a probability, but not an assurance. If this method of
explaining the meaning of the word be true, then it is beyond dispute,
that they who have attained assurance of their being in a state of
grace, may be said to be infallibly assured thereof: Whether this be the
sense of that expression in this answer, I will not pretend to
determine; neither shall I enter any farther into this dispute, which
amounts to little more than what concerns the propriety or impropriety
of the sense of the word _assurance_. All that I shall add concerning
it, is, that according to our common mode of speaking it is reckoned no
absurdity for a person to say he is sure of a thing, though it be
possible for him to have greater evidence of the truth thereof, and
consequently a greater degree of assurance. Thus the assurance that
arises from the possession of a thing cannot but be greater than that
which attends the bare expectation of it: Therefore whatever be the
sense of that infallible assurance, which is here spoken of; we cannot
suppose that there is any degree of assurance attainable in this life,
concerning the happiness of the saints in heaven, equal to that which
they have who are actually possessed of that blessedness; to suppose
this would be to confound earth and heaven together, or expectation with
actual fruition.

As to what relates to our assurance thereof, there is another matter of
dispute among some, which I am not desirous to enter into; namely,
whether it is possible for a believer to be as sure that he shall be
saved, as he is that he exists, or that he is a sinner, and so stands in
need of salvation? or whether it is possible for a person to be as sure
that he shall be saved, as he is sure of that truth which is matter of
pure revelation, viz. that he, that believes shall be saved? or whether
it is possible for a person to be as sure that he has the truth of
grace, as he may be that he performs any actions, whether natural or
religious; such as speaking, praying, reading, hearing, &c. or whether
we may be as sure that we have a principle of grace, as we are that we
put forth such actions, as seem to proceed from that principle, when
engaged in the performance of some religious duties? If any are disposed
to defend the possibility of our attaining assurance in so great a
degree as this, as what they think to be the meaning of what some
divines have asserted, agreeably to what is contained in this answer,
that a believer may be infallibly assured of his salvation, I will not
enter the list with them; though I very much question whether it will
not be a matter of too great difficulty for them to support their
argument, without the least appearance of exception to it.

Nevertheless, (that I may not extenuate or deny the privileges which
some saints have been favoured with, who have been, as it were, in the
suburbs of heaven, and not only had a prelibation, but a kind of
sensation, of the enjoyments thereof, and expressed as full an assurance
as though they had been actually in heaven); it cannot be denied that
this, in various instances, has amounted, as near as possible, to an
assurance of infallibility; and that such a degree of assurance has been
attained, by some believers, both in former and later ages, will be
proved under a following head, which, I am apt to think, is what is
intended in this answer, by the possibility of a believer’s being
infallibly assured of salvation. But let it be considered, that these
are uncommon instances, in which the Spirit of God, by his immediate
testimony, has favoured them with, as to this matter, which are not to
be reckoned as a standard, whereby we may judge of that assurance which
God’s children desire, and sometimes enjoy, which falls short of it:
Therefore, when God is pleased to give a believer such a degree of
assurance, as carries him above all his doubts and fears, with respect
to his being in a state of grace, and fills him with those joys which
arise from hence, that are unspeakable, and full of glory; this is that
assurance which we are now to consider, which, in this answer is called
an infallible assurance; whether it be more or less properly so called,
we have nothing farther to add; but shall proceed,

II. To prove that this privilege is attainable in this present life; and
that it may appear to be so, let it be considered,

1. That if the knowledge of other things which are of less importance,
be attainable, then certainly it is possible for us to attain that which
is of the greatest importance. This argument is founded on the goodness
of God; if he has given us sufficient means to lead us into the
knowledge of other things, which respect our comfort and happiness in
this world; has he left us altogether destitute of those means whereby
we may conclude, that it shall go well with us in a better? God has
sometimes been pleased to favour his people with some intimations
concerning the blessings of common providence, which they might expect
for their encouragement, under the trials and difficulties which they
were to meet with in the world; and our Saviour encourages his disciples
to expect, that notwithstanding their present destitute circumstances,
as to outward things; yet their _Father_, who _knows that they had need
of them_, would supply their wants; and therefore they had no reason to
be over-solicitous in _taking thought what they should eat and drink,
and wherewithal they should be clothed_, Matt. vi. 31, 32. and if God,
that he may encourage the faith of his people, gives them assurance that
_no temptation shall befal them, but what is common to men_; or, that
they shall not be pressed down, so as to sink and despair of help from
him, under the burdens and difficulties that, in the course of his
providence, he lays on them; I say, if God is pleased to give such
intimations to his people, with respect to their condition in this
world, that they may be assured that it shall go well with them, as to
many things that concern their outward circumstances therein; may we not
conclude from hence, that the assurance of those things that concern
their everlasting salvation may be attained? or, if the promises that
respect the one may be depended on so as to afford relief against all
doubts and fears that may arise from our present circumstances in the
world; may we not, with as good reason, suppose, that the promises which
respect the other, to wit, the carrying on and perfecting the work of
grace, afford equal matter of encouragement; and consequently, that the
one is as much to be depended on, as the other; so that as the apostle
says, they who have fled for refuge, to lay hold on the hope set before
them, may have strong consolation arising from thence, Heb. vi. 18.

_Objec._ It will be objected to this, that the promises that respect
outward blessings are not always fulfilled, and therefore we cannot be
assured concerning our future condition, as to outward circumstances in
the world; though godliness, as the apostle says, hath the promise of
the world that now is, as well as that which is to come. This appears
from the uncommon instances of affliction, that the best men often meet
with, which others are exempted from. Therefore the promises which
respect the carrying on and completing the work of grace, will not
afford that assurance of salvation which we suppose a believer may
attain to, as founded thereon.

_Answ._ In answer to this it may be replied, that the promises of
outward blessings are always fulfilled, either in kind or value.
Sometimes the destitute state of believers, as to the good things of
this life, is abundantly compensated with those spiritual blessings,
which are, at present, bestowed on, or reserved for them hereafter; and
therefore, if their condition in the world be attended with little else
but affliction, they have no reason to say that they are disappointed;
for while they are denied the lesser, they have the greater blessings
instead thereof, so that their assurance of the accomplishment of the
promises of outward blessings, must be understood with this limitation:
but as to spiritual blessings, which God has promised to his people,
there is no foundation for any distinction of their being made good in
kind or in value; if the promise of eternal life be not made good
according to the letter of it, it cannot be, in any sense, said to be
accomplished: therefore, since God gives his people these promises as a
foundation of hope, we may conclude from thence, that the assurance of
believers, relating to their salvation, is as much to be depended on as
the assurance they have, founded on the promises of God, concerning any
blessings which may tend to support them in their present condition in
the world.

2. That assurance of justification, sanctification and salvation, may be
attained in this life, is farther evident from the obligations which
persons are under to pray for these privileges, and to bless God for the
experience which they have of the one, and the ground which they have to
expect the other. That it is our duty to pray for them is no less
certain than that we stand in need of them; this therefore being taken
for granted, it may be inferred from hence, that there is some way by
which we may know that our prayers are answered, the contrary to which
would be a very discouraging consideration; neither could the experience
hereof be alleged as a motive to the performance of the duty of prayer,
as the Psalmist says, _O thou that hearest prayer, unto thee shall all
flesh come_, Psal. lxv. 2. Nor could any believer have the least reason
to say as he does elsewhere, _Verily God hath heard me, he hath attended
to the voice of my prayer_, Psal. lxvi. 19. And the apostle says, that
_if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us_, 1 John v.
14, 15. and this is said in the following words, to be known by us, we
know that we have the petitions that we desired of him; therefore it
follows, that we may know from the exercise of faith in prayer, for the
forgiveness of sin, that our iniquities are forgiven; the same may be
said concerning the subject-matter of our prayer for all other blessings
that accompany salvation; and consequently it is possible for us to know
whether God has granted us these blessings or no.

But if it be replied to this, that it is not absolutely necessary that
an humble suppliant should have any intimations given him, that his
petition shall be granted; or that it would be a very unbecoming thing
for such an one to say, that he will not ask for a favour, if he be not
sure before-hand that it will he bestowed.

To this it may be answered, That we are not only to pray for saving
blessings, but to praise God for our experience thereof; as it is said,
_Whoso offereth praise glorifieth me_, Psal. l. 23. and _praise is
comely for the upright_, Psal. xxxiii. 1. Now this supposes that we know
that God has bestowed the blessings we prayed for upon us. If the
Psalmist calls upon his soul to _bless the Lord for forgiving_ him _all
his iniquities_, Psal. ciii. 2, 3. we must suppose that there was some
method by which he attained the assurance of the blessing which he
praises God for; which leads us to consider,

3. That some have attained this privilege, therefore it is not
impossible for others to attain it. That some have been assured of their
salvation, is evident from the account we have thereof in several
scriptures, Thus the apostle tells the church he writes to, _God hath
not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation_, 1 Thes. v. 7. and
he says concerning himself, _I know whom I have believed, and I am
persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him,
against that day_, 2 Tim. i. 12.

_Objec._ To this it is objected, that though it is true, some persons of
old, have experienced this privilege, yet it does not follow from hence
that we have any ground to expect it; since they attained it by
extraordinary revelation, in that age in which they were favoured with
the spirit of inspiration, whereby they arrived to the knowledge of
things future, even such as it was impossible for them otherwise to have
known, at least, they could not without these extraordinary intimations,
have arrived to any more than a probable conjecture concerning this
matter; and this is not denied by those who oppose the doctrine of
assurance: whereas, to pretend to more than this, is to suppose that we
have it by extraordinary inspiration, which, at present, can be reckoned
no other than enthusiasm.

_Answ._ To this it may be replied, That though God does not give the
church, at present, the least ground to expect extraordinary intimations
concerning their interest in spiritual and saving blessings, as he
formerly did; yet we must not conclude that there is no method whereby
they may attain the assurance hereof in a common and ordinary way, by
the internal testimony of the Spirit; which, as will farther appear
under a following head, differs very much from enthusiasm; since it is
attended with, and founded on those evidences which God has given hereof
in scripture, which they, in a way of self-examination, are enabled to
apprehend in themselves. That this may appear, let it be considered,

(1.) That there never was any privilege conferred upon the church by
extraordinary revelation, while that dispensation was continued therein,
but the same, or some other which is equivalent thereunto, is still
conferred in an ordinary way, provided it be absolutely necessary for
the advancing the glory of God, and their edification and consolation in
Christ. If this were not true, the church could hardly subsist, much
less would the present dispensation of the covenant of grace excel the
other which the church was under in former ages, as to those spiritual
privileges which they have ground to expect. It is, I think, allowed by
all, that the gospel-dispensation, not only in the beginning thereof,
when extraordinary gifts were conferred, but in its continuance, now
they are ceased, excels that which went before it, with respect to the
spiritual privileges which are conferred therein. Now if God was pleased
formerly to converse with men in an extraordinary way, and thereby give
them an intimation of things relating to their salvation, but, at
present, withholds not only the way and manner of revealing this to
them, but the blessings conveyed thereby; then it will follow, that the
church is in a worse state than it was before; or else it must be
supposed that these privileges are not absolutely necessary to enable
them to glorify God, which they do by offering praise to him, and to
their attaining that peace and joy which they are given to expect in a
way of believing; but if the church were destitute of this privilege, it
would be in a very unhappy state, and retain nothing that could
compensate the loss of those extraordinary gifts that are now ceased.

They who insist on this objection, and charge the doctrine of assurance
as what savours of enthusiasm, are obliged, by their own method of
reasoning, to apply the same objection to the doctrine of internal,
special, efficacious grace, which we have, under a foregoing
answer,[105] proved to be the work of the Spirit; and if these internal
works are confined to the extraordinary dispensation of the Spirit, then
the church is at present as much destitute of sanctification as it is of
assurance. Therefore we must conclude, that one no more savours of
enthusiasm than the other; or that we have ground to hope for assurance
of salvation, though not in an extraordinary way, as much as the saints
did in former ages.

(2.) Our Saviour has promised his people the Spirit to perform what is
necessary for the carrying on the work of grace in all ages, even when
extraordinary gifts should cease: accordingly he says, _The Comforter,
which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall
teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance,
whatsoever I have said unto you_, John xiv. 26. And elsewhere it is
said, _Ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things_, 1
John ii. 20. And to this privilege of assurance, it is said, _We have
received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God,
that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God_, 1
Cor. ii. 12. And there are many other promises of the Spirit, which
though they had their accomplishment, as to what respects the conferring
extraordinary gifts, in the first age of the church; yet they have a
farther accomplishment in what the Spirit was to bestow on the church in
the following ages thereof, though in an ordinary way. This seems very
evident from scripture; inasmuch as the fruits of the Spirit are said to
appear in the exercise of those graces which believers have in all ages,
who never had extraordinary gifts: thus it is said, _The fruit of the
Spirit, is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness,
faith, meekness, temperance_, Gal. v. 22, 23. Now if these graces be
produced by the Spirit, as they are called his fruits, and the exercise
thereof be not confined to any particular age of the church, then we
must suppose that the Spirit’s energy extends itself to all ages.

Again, believers are said, to be _led by the Spirit_, Rom. viii. 14. and
this is assigned as an evidence of their being _the sons of God_; and,
on the other hand, it is said, _If any man have not the spirit of
Christ, he is none of his_, ver. 9. from whence we may conclude, that
there was, in the apostles’ days, an effusion of the Spirit, common to
all believers, besides that which was conferred in an extraordinary way,
on those who were favoured with the gift of inspiration; otherwise, the
having the Spirit would not have been considered as a privilege
belonging only to believers, and being destitute of it, an argument of a
person’s not belonging to Christ. As for the extraordinary dispensation
of the Holy Ghost, it was not inseparably connected with salvation; for
many had it who were Christians only in name, and had nothing more than
a form of godliness; and on the other hand, many true believers brought
forth those fruits which proceeded from the Spirit, in an ordinary way,
who had not these extraordinary gifts conferred on them. Moreover the
apostle speaks of believers _through the Spirit mortifying the deeds of
the body_, Rom. viii. 13. Now if the work of mortification be incumbent
on believers in all ages, then the influences of the Spirit, enabling
hereunto, may be expected in all ages. Now to apply this to our present
argument; the Spirit’s bearing witness with our spirit, that we are the
children of God, which is the foundation of that assurance which we are
pleading for, is, together with the other fruits and effects of the
Spirit but now mentioned, a privilege which believers, as such, are
given to desire and hope for, and stand in as much need of as those who
had this or other privileges conferred on them in an extraordinary way,
in the first age of the gospel-church.

And to all this we might add, that the extraordinary gifts of the Spirit
at that time, were conferred on particular persons, and not on whole
churches; but assurance is considered, by the apostle, as a privilege
conferred on the church to which he writes, that is, the greatest part
of them, from whence the denomination is taken; upon which account, the
apostle speaking to the believing Corinthians, says, _We know that if
our earthy house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building
of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens_, 2 Cor. v.
1. by which he does not only intend himself and other ministers, but the
generality of believers, at that time, who are described as walking by
faith: and there are many other things said concerning them in the
foregoing and following verses; which makes it sufficiently evident,
that the apostle intends more than himself and other ministers, when he
speaks of their having assurance, since many had it who were not made
partakers of extraordinary gifts. Therefore we must not conclude that
the church has, at present, no ground to expect this privilege, so that
they are liable to the charge of enthusiasm if they do. But that this
objection may farther appear not to be sufficient to overthrow the
argument we are maintaining, we may appeal to the experience of many
believers in this present age, who pretend not to extraordinary
revelation; and therefore let it be considered,

(3.) That many, in later ages, since extraordinary revelation has
ceased, have attained this privilege, and consequently it is now
attainable. To deny this would be to offend against the generation of
God’s people, of whom many have given their testimony to this truth, who
have declared what a comfortable sense they have had of their interest
in Christ, and the sensible impressions they have enjoyed of his love
shed abroad in their hearts, whereby they have had, as it were, a
prelibation of the heavenly blessedness; and this has been attended with
the most powerful influence of the Spirit of God enabling them to
exercise those graces which have been agreeable to these comfortable
experiences, whereby they have been carried through, and enabled to
surmount the greatest difficulties which have attended them in this
life. And many have been supported and comforted therewith, at the
approach of death, in which respect the sting thereof has been taken
away, and they have expressed themselves with a kind of triumph over it,
in the apostle’s words, _O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is
thy victory?_ 1 Cor. xv. 55.

That some have been favoured with this invaluable privilege is
undeniable; the account we have in the history of the lives and deaths
of many, who have been burning and shining lights in their generation,
puts it out of all doubt. And if this were not sufficient, we might
appeal to the experience of many now living, since there is scarce any
age or place in which the gospel comes with power, but we have some
instances of the Spirit’s testimony to his own work, whereby it comes,
with much assurance, a comfortable sense of God’s love, peace of
conscience, and joy in the Holy Ghost, which is the first-fruits and
earnest of eternal life. But since this will be particularly insisted on
under a following answer[106], and farther proofs given hereof; we may,
at present, take it for granted, that many have been assured of their
being in a state of grace, who have not made the least pretension, to
inspiration; and to charge them with enthusiasm, or a vain ungrounded
delusion, is to cast a reflection on the best of men, as well as on one
of the highest privileges which we can enjoy in this world.

I am sensible that it will be objected to this, that though some have
indeed expressed such a degree of assurance, yet this will only afford
conviction to those that have it, who are best judges of their own
experience, and the evidence whereon it is founded; but this is not a
sufficient proof to us, with respect to whom it is only matter of
report: And it may be said, on the other hand, that it is possible they
might be mistaken who have been so sure of their own salvation.

But to this it may be replied, that it is very unreasonable to suppose
that all have been mistaken or deluded, who have declared that they have
been favoured with this blessing; charity will hardly admit of such a
supposition; and if there be no possibility of attaining this assurance,
they must all have been deceived, who have concluded that they had it.
Moreover, this privilege has been attained, not only by a few persons,
and these the more credulous part of mankind, or by such who have not
been able to assign any marks or evidences tending to support it; but
many believers have experienced it, who, at the same time, have been far
from discovering any weakness of judgment, or disposition to
unwarrantable credulity; yea, they have enjoyed it at such a time when
they have been most sensible of the deceitfulness of their own hearts,
and could not but own that there was a peculiar hand of God herein; and
the same persons, when destitute of the Spirit’s testimony, have
acknowledged themselves to have used their utmost endeavours to attain
it, but in vain.

As to the conviction which this will afford to us who are destitute
hereof; that though we suppose it true to a demonstration, to those who
have it, as being matter of sensation to them, it is only matter of
report to us; which we are no farther bound to believe than we can
depend on the credibility of their evidence, who have declared that they
have experienced it. To this it may be replied, that if there be such a
thing as certainty founded on report, which to deny, would be the
greatest degree of scepticism; and if this has been transmitted to us,
by a great number of those who cannot be charged with any thing that
looks like a disposition to deceive either themselves or others; then we
are bound to believe, from their own testimony, that there is such an
assurance to be attained by those who pretend not to receive it by
extraordinary inspiration from the Spirit of God. This leads us,

III. To consider the character of the persons to whom this privilege
belongs. Accordingly they are described in this answer, as such who
truly believe in Christ, and endeavour to walk in all good conscience
before him: these only have ground to expect this privilege. It is an
assurance of our having the truth of grace that we are considering;
which supposes a person truly to believe in Christ; and accordingly it
is distinguished from that unwarrantable presumption whereby many
persuade themselves that they shall be saved, though they be not
sanctified. It is not _the hope of the hypocrite_ we are speaking of,
which, as it is said, shall _perish_, and be _cut off; whose trust shall
be as the spider’s web_, which shall be swept away with the besom of
destruction, and be like the _giving up of the ghost_, which shall end
in everlasting despair, Job viii. 13, 14. and chap. xi. 20. but it is a
well-grounded hope, such as is accompanied with, and supported by the
life of faith; so that we are first enabled to act grace, and then to
discern the truth thereof in our own souls, and accordingly reap the
comfortable fruits and effects that attend this assurance; as the
apostle prays in the behalf of the believing Romans, that _the God of
hope would fill them with all joy and peace in believing_, Rom. xv. 13.
So that an unbeliever has no right to this privilege, and, indeed, from
the nature of the thing, it is preposterous for a person to be assured
of that, which in itself has no reality, as the apostle says, _If a man
think himself to be something when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself_,
Gal. vi. 3. And if faith be necessary to assurance, then it follows, as
it is farther observed in this answer, that they who have attained this
privilege, walk in all good conscience before God; whereby the sincerity
of their faith is evinced: Thus the apostle says, _Our rejoicing is
this, the testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity and godly
sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, we have had
our conversation in the world_, 2 Cor. i. 12.

IV. We are now to consider the means by which assurance is to be
attained, _viz._ not by extraordinary revelation, but by faith, founded
on the promises of God. As to the former of these, we have already
considered, that assurance may be attained without extraordinary
revelation, as has been experienced by some in this present dispensation
of the gospel, in which extraordinary revelation is ceased. And, indeed,
it may be observed, in the account the scripture gives of this
privilege, that it does not appear, that when extraordinary revelation
was granted to many, in the first age of the gospel, that the design
thereof was to lead men into the knowledge of their own state, so as
that they should attain assurance of their interest in Christ, and right
to eternal life that way. The main design of inspiration was to qualify
ministers in an extraordinary way to preach the gospel, as the necessity
of affairs seemed then to require it; it was also necessary for the
imparting some doctrines; which could not otherwise be known: And,
inasmuch as it was an extraordinary dispensation of divine providence,
it was an expedient to give conviction to the world, concerning the
truth of the christian religion, since God hereby was pleased to
converse in an immediate way with men, and testified by this, the great
regard he had to his church, and answered the great ends of inspiration,
in propagating that religion which was then to be set up in the world.
But we do not find that the work of grace was ordinarily wrought, or
carried on this way; nor was it God’s instituted means, without which
they could not attain assurance, which the saints’ arrived to, in that
age of extraordinary inspiration, the same way as we are to expect to
attain it. It is true, God has occasionally intimated, by immediate
revelation, that he would save some particular persons, and that their
_names were written in the book of life_, Phil. iv. 3. but this was a
special and extraordinary instance of divine condescension, that some
should be described by name, in scripture, who had obtained this
privilege; though it is not designed hereby that others should expect to
attain it this way; and therefore it will be hard to prove that the
apostle Paul, and others whom he speaks of, who were assured of their
salvation, though they received the knowledge of other things by
inspiration, were led into the knowledge of their own state in such a
way, much less may we expect to attain assurance by extraordinary
revelation. And this leads us to consider the ordinary means whereby we
may attain it, which is, in this answer, said to be, by faith, grounded
on the truth of God’s promises, and the Spirit’s testimony, whereby we
are enabled to discern in ourselves those graces which accompany
salvation; accordingly we must consider,

1. That in order to our arriving to a comfortable persuasion that we
shall be saved, there must be promises of life and salvation revealed,
which are contained in the gospel; these are remotely necessary
thereunto; for without a promise of salvation we can have no hope of it;
but notwithstanding these promises are contained therein, yet many are
destitute of it.

2. It is also necessary, in order to our attaining assurance, that there
should be some marks and evidences revealed in the word of God, as a
rule for persons to try themselves by, in order to their knowing that
they are in a state of grace. Now we may say concerning this, as well as
the former, to wit, the promises of salvation recorded, that though it
be necessary to assurance; yet it is only an objective means for our
attaining it, inasmuch as we are hereby led to see what graces
experienced, or duties performed by us, have the promise of salvation
annexed to them; and therefore let me add,

3. That it is necessary that we should discern in ourselves those marks
and evidences of grace to which the promise of salvation is annexed;
otherwise we have no right to lay claim to it; accordingly it is our
duty to look into ourselves, and observe what marks of grace we have,
from whence we may, by the Spirit’s testimony with ours, discern
ourselves to be in a state of grace; which leads us to consider,

(1.) That in order to our attaining assurance, we must exercise the duty
of self-examination.

(2.) What we may truly call a mark or evidence of grace, whereby we may
discern that we are in a state of salvation.

(3.) Notwithstanding this we are to depend on, hope, and pray for, the
testimony of the Spirit with our spirits, that we are the children of
God, and that these evidences are found in us.

(1.) In order to our attaining assurance, it is necessary that we
exercise the duty of self-examination, which is God’s ordinance for this
end. And in order hereunto, let it be considered,

[1.] That it is certainly a duty and privilege for us to know ourselves,
not only what we do, but what we are; for without this, whatever
knowledge we may have of other things, we are chargeable with great
ignorance in a matter of the highest importance; neither can we be
sufficiently humble for those sins we commit, or thankful for the
mercies we receive. If we reckon it an advantage to know what is done in
the world, and are very inquisitive into the affairs of others, it is
much more necessary and reasonable for us to endeavour to know what more
immediately relates to ourselves; or if we are very desirous to know
those things that concern our natural or civil affairs in the world;
whether we are in prosperous or adverse circumstances therein, ought we
not much more to enquire, how matters stand with us, as to what concerns
a better world?

[2.] We cannot know the state of our souls, without impartial
self-examination. This is evident from the nature of the thing. As
enquiry is the means for our attaining knowledge; so looking into
ourselves is a means of attaining self-acquaintance.

[3.] Self-examination is a duty founded on a divine command, and an
ordinance appointed for our attaining the knowledge of our state. Thus
the apostle says, _Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove
your ownselves_, 2 Cor. xiii. 5. and whatever duty God has commanded us
to engage in, as expecting any spiritual privilege to attend it, that is
properly an ordinance for the attaining that privilege; and if so, then
it is an argument to enforce the performance of that duty. Having
therefore proved self-examination to be a christian’s duty, we shall now
consider how it ought to be performed. And here let it be observed, that
as it is God’s ordinance, we are to have a due regard to his presence,
and consider him as an heart searching God, and depend on his
assistance, without which it cannot be performed to any great advantage;
but more particularly,

_1st_, We are to engage in this duty deliberately. It cannot well be
performed while we are in an hurry of business. As every thing is
beautiful in its seasons, so time ought to be redeemed, and we to retire
from the world, to apply ourselves to this as well as other secret
duties, and the rather, because a rash and hasty judgment concerning any
thing, is generally faulty, and must be reckoned an argument of weakness
in him that passes it, and it will be much more so when the thing to be
determined is of such vast importance.

_2dly_, It ought to be done frequently; not like those things which are
to be performed but once in our lives, or only upon some extraordinary
occasions, but often, at least, so often, that no presumptuous sin may
be committed, nor any extraordinary judgment inflicted on us, or mercy
vouchsafed to us, without a due observation thereof, in order to our
improving them aright to the glory of God, and our own edification:
Nevertheless, we cannot exactly determine what relates to the frequency
of this duty, any more than we can prescribe to those who are in a way
of trade and business in the world, how often they are to cast up their
accounts, and set their books in order, that they may judge whether they
go forward or backward in the world: Notwithstanding, as the neglect
hereof has been detrimental to many, as to their worldly affairs; so the
neglect of self-examination has been often found an hindrance to our
comfortable procedure in our christian course: However, so far as we may
advise concerning the frequency of this duty, it would redound much to
the glory of God and our own advantage, if, at the close of every day,
we would call to mind the experiences we have had, and observe the frame
of spirit with which we have engaged in all the business thereof. This
the Psalmist advises when he says, _Commune with your own heart upon
your bed, and be still_, Psal. iv. 4.

Moreover, it is adviseable for us to perform this duty whenever we
engage in other solemn stated religious duties, whether public or
private, that we may know what matter we have for prayer, or praise,
what help we want from God, against the prevalency of corruption or
temptation, or what answers of prayer we have received from him, or what
success we have had under any ordinance, in which we have engaged, as
well as what the present frame of our spirit is, when drawing nigh to
God in any holy duty.

_3dly_, It ought to be performed with great diligence, inasmuch as it is
no easy matter to arrive to such a knowledge of ourselves, and the
secret working of our hearts and affections, in what respects things
divine and heavenly, or to discern the truth of grace, so as not to
mistake that for a saving work, which has only the external shew of
godliness, without the power of it; this requires great diligence and
industry to know: Accordingly the Psalmist, in speaking concerning the
performance of this duty, says, _I commune with mine own heart, and my
spirit made diligent search_, Psal. lxxvii. 6. The thing to be enquired
into is not barely, whether we are sinners in general, or exposed to
many miseries in this life, as the consequence thereof? for this is
sufficiently evident by daily experience. But we are to endeavour after
a more particular knowledge of ourselves, and accordingly are to
enquire; whether sin hath dominion over us to such a degree, so that all
the powers and faculties of our souls are enslaved thereby, and we
commit sin in such a way, as denominates us, as our Saviour expresses
it, _servants of sin_? John viii. 34. or, whether sin be loathed and
abhorred, avoided and repented of? and as to our state, we are to
enquire; whether we have ground to conclude that we are justified, and
thereby delivered from the guilt of sin, and the condemning sentence of
the law? or, whether we remain in a state of condemnation, and the wrath
of God abideth on us? We must enquire, whether the work of grace be
really begun, so that we are effectually called, and enabled to put
forth spiritual actions from a renewed nature? and whether this work is
going forward or declining? what is the strength or weakness of our
faith? Also we are to enquire, what is the general tenor of our actions?
whether the ends we design in all religious duties are right and
warrantable? whether our improvement in grace bears any proportion to
the means we are favoured with?

Moreover, we are to examine ourselves; whether we perform all those
relative duties that are incumbent on us, so as to glorify God in our
conversation with men, whereby we endeavour to do good to, and receive
good from them, and accordingly improve our talents to the glory of God,
from whom we received them? These and such like things are to be
enquired into, which will be more immediately subservient to the
attaining this privilege of assurance.

_4thly_, Self-examination ought to be performed with the greatest
impartiality. Conscience, which is to act the part of a judge and a
witness, must be faithful in its dictates and determinations, it being a
matter of the greatest importance; and therefore, in passing a judgment
on our state, we must proceed according to the rules of strict justice,
not denying, on the one hand, what we have received from God, or
resolutely concluding against ourselves, that there is no hope, when
there are many things that afford matter of peace and comfort to us;
nor, on the other hand, are we to think ourselves something when we are

Therefore some are obliged to conclude, as the result of this enquiry,
into their state, that they are unregenerate and destitute of the saving
grace of God. This sentence persons are obliged to pass on themselves,
who are grossly ignorant, not sensible of the plague of their own
hearts, and altogether unacquainted with the way of salvation by Jesus
Christ, or the method prescribed in the gospel, for the sinner’s
justification or freedom from the guilt of sin, in a fiducial
application of Christ’s righteousness, which is the only means conducive
thereunto; and who know not what is included in evangelical repentance;
how sin is to be mortified, and what it is to depend on Christ in the
execution of his offices of prophet, priest, and king, at least, if they
have not such a degree of the knowledge of these things, though they
cannot fully and clearly describe them, as may influence their practice,
and excite those graces, which all true converts are enabled to
exercise, they have ground to conclude that they are in a state of
unregeneracy. And to this we may add, that a person must conclude
against himself, that he is destitute of the grace of God, if he allows
himself in the omission of known duties, or the commission of known
sins, and is content with a form of godliness, without the power
thereof, or values and esteems the praise of men more than of God; such
must conclude that their hearts are not right with him.

_5thly_, We must examine ourselves concerning our state, with a
resolution, by the grace of God, to make a right improvement of that
judgment which we are bound to pass on ourselves. And therefore, if we
apprehend that we are in a state of unregeneracy, we are not to sink
into despair; but to wait on God in all his appointed means and
ordinances, in order to our obtaining the first grace, that, by the
powerful influences of the Spirit, there may be such a true change
wrought in us, that we may have ground to hope better things concerning
ourselves, even things which accompany salvation. And if we find that we
have experienced the grace of God in truth, we may be disposed to give
him all the glory; to exercise a continued dependence on him, for what
is still lacking to complete the work, and as we have received Christ
Jesus the Lord to walk in him.

_6thly_, This duty must be performed with judgment; and accordingly we
are to compare our hearts and actions with the rule which is prescribed
in the word of God, whereby we may know whether we have those marks and
evidences of grace, from whence we may conclude, that we have a good
foundation to build on, and that our hope is such, as shall never make
ashamed; which leads us to consider,

(2.) What we may truly call a mark or evidence of grace, whereby we may
discern that we are in a state of salvation. In order to our
understanding this, we must consider,

1. That every thing, which is a mark or evidence of a thing, must be
more known than that which is designed to be evinced thereby. The sign
must always be more known than the thing signified by it; inasmuch as it
is a means of our knowing that which we are at present in doubt about.
As when the finger is placed in a cross-road, to direct the traveller
which way he is to take.

2. A mark or evidence of a thing must contain some essential property of
that which it is designed to evince: thus the inferring consequences
from premises is an essential property belonging to every intelligent
creature, and to none else; therefore it is a mark or evidence thereof;
so to design the best end, and use those means that are conducive
thereunto, is an essential property of a wise man, and consequently a
mark or evidence of wisdom. And, on the other hand, there are some
things, which are not essential properties, but accidental, as an
healthful constitution is to man, or a particular action, that has some
appearance of wisdom and goodness, but not all the necessary ingredients
thereof, to a wise or good man.

Now to apply these rules to our present purpose, in determining what we
may call marks or evidences of grace. With respect to the former of
them, _viz._ that a mark must be more known than the thing that is
evinced thereby; we may conclude, that eternal election, or the Spirit’s
implanting a principle of grace in regeneration, cannot be said to be
marks or evidences of sanctification, since these are less known than
the thing designed to be evinced thereby.

And as to the other rule, _viz._ that a mark must contain an essential
property of that which it evinces: it follows from hence, that our
engaging in holy duties, without the exercise of grace therein; or our
extending charity to the poor, when it does not proceed from faith or
love to God, &c. is no certain evidence of the truth of grace, since a
person may perform these duties and yet be destitute hereof; whereas,
that which is essential to a thing, is inseparable from it. Thus
concerning marks of grace in general; which I could not but think
necessary to premise, inasmuch as some have entertained prejudices
against all marks of grace, and seem to assert, that a believer is not
to judge of his state thereby; than which, nothing seems more absurd. If
they who are thus prejudiced against them, have nothing to say in
defence thereof, but that some assign those things to be marks of grace
which are not so, and thereby lead themselves and others, into mistakes
about them; what has been premised concerning the nature of a mark, or
evidence, may, in some measure, fence against this prejudice, as well as
prepare our way for what may be said concerning them. Therefore we
shall, _First_, consider those things which can hardly be reckoned marks
of grace; and, _Secondly_, what marks we may judge of ourselves by.

_First_, As to the former of these, what are not to be reckoned marks of

1. We are not to conclude that a person is in a state of grace, barely
because he has a strong impression on his own spirit that he is so;
since that is accidental, and not essential to grace, and many are
mistaken with respect to this matter. It is not to be doubted, but they
whom our Saviour represents as saying, _Lord, Lord, have we not
prophesied in thy name, and in thy name have cast out devils, and in thy
name done many wonderful works_, Matt. vii. 2. had a strong persuasion
founded on this evidence, that they were in a state of grace, till they
found themselves mistaken, when he commanded them to _depart from him_?
Nothing is more obvious than that many presume they are something when
they are nothing; and, indeed, a persuasion that a person is in a state
of grace, barely because he cannot think otherwise of himself, the thing
being impressed on his spirit, without any other evidence, lays such an
one too open to the charge of enthusiasm.

2. An external profession of religion, discovered in the performance of
several holy duties, is no certain sign of the truth of grace; for this
many make who are not effectually called. Of such as these Christ
speaks, when he says, _Many are called, but few are chosen_, Matt. xx.
16. And to this we may add, that persons may have some degree of raised
affections, when attending on the ordinances, some sudden flashes of
joy, when they hear of the privileges of believers, both in this and a
better world; though their conversation be not agreeable to their
confident and presumptuous expectation thereof. And, on the other hand,
some have their fears very much awakened under the ordinances, as the
subject of their meditations has a tendency thereunto; others have such
a degree of sorrow, that it gives vent to itself in a flood of tears; as
Esau is said to have _sought the blessing with tears_, Heb. xii. 17. but
yet there is something else wanting to evince the truth of grace. I do
not deny but that it is a great blessing to have raised affections in
holy duties; but when this is only in particular instances, and they are
principally excited by some external motives or circumstances attending
the ordinance they are engaged in; and when the impressions made on
them, wear off as soon as the ordinance is over, in this case we can
hardly determine a person to be in a state of grace hereby. The
affections, indeed, are warmed in holy duties; but this is like an iron
heated in the fire, which, when taken out, soon grows cold again; and
not like that natural heat that remains in the body of man, which is an
abiding sign of life.

But since this subject is to be treated on with the utmost caution,
inasmuch as many are apt to conclude, that they have no grace, because
they have no raised affections, in holy duties, as well as others
presume they have grace merely because they are affected therein, let it
be farther considered; that when we speak of raised affections, not
being a certain mark of grace, we consider them as being destitute of
those other evidences, which contain some essential properties of grace:
the affections are often raised by insignificant sounds, or by the tone
of the voice, when there is nothing in the matter delivered, that is
adapted to excite any grace, the judgment is not informed thereby, nor
the will persuaded to embrace Christ, as offered in the gospel. There
may be transports of joy in hearing the word, when, at the same time,
corrupt nature retains its opposition to the spirituality thereof. A
person may conceive the greatest pleasure in an ungrounded hope of
heaven, as a state of freedom from the miseries of this life, when he
has no savour or relish of that holiness which is its glory, in which
respect his conversation is not in heaven; and he may be very much
terrified with the wrath of God, and the punishment of sin in hell;
when, at the same time, there is not a due sense of the vile and odious
nature of sin, or an abhorrence of it: such instances of raised
affections we intend when we speak of them as no marks or evidences of
the truth of grace. But, on the other hand, when, together with raised
affections, there is the exercise of suitable graces, and the impression
thereof remains, when their fervency is abated or lost, this is a good
sign of grace; whereas, when they are not accompanied with the exercise
of any grace, they afford no mark or evidence of the truth thereof.

Now that we may not be mistaken as to this matter, let us enquire, not
only what it is that has a tendency to raise the affections; but whether
our understandings are rightly informed in the doctrines of the gospel,
and our wills choose and embrace what is revealed therein. And if we
find it a difficult matter for our affections to be raised in holy
duties, let us farther enquire, whether this may not proceed from our
natural constitution? and if the passions are not easily moved with any
other things in the common affairs of life; we have then no reason to
conclude that our being destitute hereof in the exercise of holy duties,
is a sign that we have not the truth of grace, especially if Christ and
divine things are the objects of our settled choice, and our hearts are
fixed trusting in him.

3. The performance of those moral duties, which are materially good, is
no certain sign of the truth of grace; I do not say that this is not
necessary; for when we speak of a mark of grace, as containing in it
what is essential thereunto, we distinguish between that which is a
necessary pre-requisite, without which, none can have grace; and that
which is an essential ingredient in it. Where there is no morality,
there is certainly no grace; but if there be nothing more than this,
there is an essential ingredient wanting, by which this matter must be
determined. A person may abstain from gross enormities, such as murder,
adultery, theft, reviling, extortion, covetousness, &c. and, in many
respects, perform the contrary duties, and yet be destitute of faith in
Christ. The Pharisee, whom our Saviour mentions in the gospel, had as
much to say on this subject as any one; yet his heart was not right with
God; nor was his boasting hereof approved of by Christ. There are
multitudes who perform many religious duties, when it comports with
their secular interests; they adhere to Christ in a time of prosperity;
but in a time of adversity they fall from him; and then, that which
seemed to be most excellent in them is lost, and then they appear to be,
what they always were, destitute of the truth of grace. We now proceed
to consider,

_Secondly_, What are those marks by which persons may safely conclude
themselves to be in a state of grace. In order to our determining this
matter, we must consider what are the true and genuine effects of faith,
which we find mentioned in scripture, namely, those other graces that
accompany or flow from it; as when it is said to _work by love_, Gal. v.
6. or as we are hereby enabled to _overcome the world_, 1 John v. 4. or
to despise the honours, riches, and pleasures thereof; especially when
standing in competition with Christ; or our hearts are thereby drawn
aside from him: this effect it produced in Moses, when he _refused to be
called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to suffer
affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin
for a season, esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the
treasures in Egypt_, Heb. xi. 24-26. and in others, who _confessed that
they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth_, ver. 13, 16. who
_desired a better country_, that is, _an heavenly_; whose _conversation
was in heaven_, Phil. iii. 10. Moreover, we are to enquire whether it
has a tendency to _purify the heart_, Acts xv. 9. and so puts us upon
abhorring, flying from, watching, and striving against every thing that
tends to corrupt and defile the soul! and whether it tends to excite us
to universal obedience, which is called _the obedience of faith_, Rom.
xvi. 26. and a carefulness to _maintain good works_, Tit. iii. 6. which
proceed from, and are evidences of the truth of it? as the apostle says,
_Shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by
my works_, James ii. 18. or, as our Saviour says, _The tree is known by
his fruit_. But that we may more particularly judge of the truth of
grace by the marks and evidences thereof, we must consider its beginning
and progress, or with what frame of spirit we first embraced and closed
with Christ; and what our conversation has been since that time.

1. As to the former of these, to wit, our judging of the truth of grace
by the first beginning thereof. Here we are to enquire, what were the
motives and inducements that inclined us to accept of Christ? Did we
first see ourselves lost and undone, as sinful, fallen creatures; and
were we determined hereupon to have recourse to him for salvation, as
the only refuge we could betake ourselves to? Did we first consider
ourselves as guilty; and did this guilt set very uneasy upon us; and in
order to the removal of it, did we betake ourselves to Christ for
forgiveness? and did we consider ourselves as weak and unable to do what
is good, and so apply ourselves to him for strength against indwelling
sin, and victory over the temptations which prevailed against us?

Moreover, let us enquire, whether it was only a slavish fear and dread
of the wrath of God, and the punishment of sin in hell, that gave the
first turn to our thoughts and affections, so as to put us on altering
our course of life? or, whether, besides this, we saw the evil of sin
arising from its intrinsic nature, and its opposition to the holiness of
God; and was this attended with shame and self-abhorrence? and, at the
same time, did we see the excellency and loveliness of Christ? was he
_precious_ to us _as he is to them that believe_? 1 Pet. ii. 7.

Again, let us farther enquire, what were the workings of our spirits
when we first closed with Christ? did we do this with judgment, duly
weighing what he demands of us in a way of duty, as well as what we are
encouraged to expect from him? were we made willing to accept of him in
all his offices, and to have respect to all his commandments? were we
earnestly desirous to have communion with him here, as well as to be
glorified with him hereafter? were we content to submit to the cross of
Christ, to bear his reproach, and to count this preferable to all the
glories of the world? were we willing to be conformed to an humbled
suffering Jesus, and to take our lot with his servants, though they may
be reckoned the refuse and off-scouring of all things? And let us
farther enquire; whether we did this with reliance on his assistance, as
being sensible of the treachery and deceitfulness of our own hearts, and
our utter inability to do what is good, without the aids of his grace?
did we accordingly give up ourselves to him in hope of obtaining help
from him, in order to the right discharge of every duty? did we reckon
ourselves nothing, and Christ to be all in all, that all our springs are
in him? This was a good beginning of the work of grace, which will
prepare the way for this grace of assurance, which we are now

_Obj._ Some will object against what has been said concerning our
enquiring into, or being able to discern the first acts of faith, or
that frame of spirit wherewith we then closed with Christ, that they
know not the time of their conversion, if ever they were converted; they
cannot remember or determine what was the particular ordinance or
providence, that gave them the first conviction of sin, and of their
need of Christ, and induced them to close with him; much less can they
tell what were the workings of their hearts at such a time: It is
impossible for them to trace the footsteps of providence, so as to point
out the way and manner in which this work was at first begun in their
souls. This therefore is not to be laid down as a mark or evidence of
grace, which so few can make use of.

_Answ._ I am not insensible that this is the case of the greatest number
of believers. There are very few, who, like the apostle Paul, can tell
the time and place of their conversion, and every circumstance leading
to it; or like those converts, who, when the gospel was first preached
by Peter, _were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter, and to the
rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?_ Acts ii. 37.
or like the jailor, who broke forth into an affectionate enquiry, not
much unlike to it; _Sirs, what must I do to be saved?_ chap. xvi. 30.
though the ordinance leading to it was of a different nature. Sometimes,
the way of the Spirit of God in the soul at first, is so discernable,
that it cannot but be observed by them who are brought into a state of
grace; but others know nothing of this, especially they who have not run
into all excess of riot, and been stopped in their course on a sudden,
by the grace of God; in whom the change made in conversion, was real,
though it could not, from the nature of the thing be so plainly
discerned in all its circumstances. Some have been regenerate from the
womb; others have had a great degree of restraining grace, and been
trained up in the knowledge of the doctrines of the gospel from their
very childhood, and retain the impressions of a religious education;
these cannot so easily discern the first beginnings of the work of grace
in their souls; yet they may, and ought to enquire, whether ever they
found, in the course of their lives, such a frame of spirit as has been
before described, which believers have when the work of grace is first
begun, and it is not very material for them to be able to discern
whether these were the first actings of grace or no? The main thing to
be determined is; whether they have ground to conclude, that ever they
experienced the grace of God in truth? In this case, the most that some
can say concerning themselves, is as the blind man says in the gospel,
when the Pharisees were inquisitive about the restoring his sight, and
the way and manner in which this was done; this is all that I know
concerning myself, that _whereas I was blind, now I see_, John ix. 25.
so the true convert says; whereas I was once dead in trespasses and
sins, I am now alive, and enabled to put forth living and spiritual
actions, to the glory of God. This evidence will give as much ground to
conclude that they are in a state of grace, as though they were able to
determine when they were first brought into it.

2. We may judge of the truth of grace by the method in which it has been
carried on, whether we are able to determine the way and manner in which
it was first begun, or no, as a farther evidence of the truth thereof.
Sanctification is a progressive work; therefore it is not enough for us
to set our faces heaven-ward; but we must make advances towards it, and
be found in the daily exercise of grace, in order to our concluding that
we are in a state of grace. A believer must not only set out in the
right way, but he must hold on therein; he must live by faith if he
would conclude that the work of faith is begun in truth. It is not
sufficient to call upon God, or implore help from him, when under some
distressing providences, and afterwards to grow remiss in, or lay aside
this duty; but it must be our constant work. A true christian is
distinguished from an hypocrite, in that it is said, concerning the
latter, _Will he delight himself in the Almighty? will he always call
upon God?_ Job xxvii. 20. denoting that a true believer will do so. He
is either habitually or actually inclined to it; and that in such a way
as is attended with the daily exercise of those graces, which are the
fruits and effects of faith, whereby he may conclude that he is in a
state of grace. Thus far we have considered those marks or evidences of
grace, which, in order to our attaining assurance, we must be able to
discern in ourselves. But inasmuch as a believer may understand what are
the marks of grace contained in scripture, and, at the same time,
enquire into the state of his soul, to know whether he can apprehend in
himself any evidences of the truth of grace; and not be able to arrive
to a satisfaction as to this matter, so as to have his doubts and fears
removed; let it be considered,

3. That he must depend on, hope, and pray for the testimony of the
Spirit, with his spirit, that he is a child of God. It will be a
difficult matter for us to conclude that we have the truth of grace,
till the Spirit is pleased to shine on his own work; which, when he
does, all things will appear clear and bright to us, though before this
we might walk in darkness, and have no light. In speaking concerning the
inward testimony of the Spirit (which is necessary to enable a believer
to discern in himself the marks of grace, on which his assurance of
salvation is founded) let it be premised; that as it is a branch of the
Spirit’s divine glory, by his internal influence, to deal with the
hearts of his people; so he does this various ways, according to the
various faculties of the soul, which are the subjects thereof;
particularly, when by his power, he renews the will, and causes it to
act those graces which are the effects of his divine power; then he is
said to sanctify a believer. But when he deals with the understanding
and conscience, enabling us to discern the truth of the work of grace,
that we may take the comfort of it, then he is described, in scripture,
as a witness hereunto, or as witnessing with our spirits, that we are in
a state of grace, the consequence of which is, that _the eyes of_ our
_understanding being enlightened_, we _may know what is the hope of his
calling_, Eph. i. 18. accordingly he gives us to discern that he has
called us by his grace; and, as the result thereof, granted us a hope of
eternal life.

This is a privilege plainly mentioned in scripture; and we must not
suppose that none had it but those who had extraordinary revelation,
since it is so necessary to a believer’s attaining that peace and joy
which the church, in this present dispensation, is certainly not less
possessed of, than it was in former ages. And that the Spirit gives his
testimony to the work of grace in the souls of believers, though
extraordinary revelation be ceased, is evident from what is matter of
daily experience; since there are many instances of those who have used
their utmost endeavours in examining themselves, to know whether they
had any marks of grace, who have not been able to discern any, though
they have been thought to be sincere believers by others, till, on a
sudden, light has broke forth out of darkness, and their evidences for
eternal life cleared up, so that all their doubts have been removed; and
this they could not but attribute to a divine hand, inasmuch as before
this they could meditate nothing but terror to themselves; and, in this
case, what the apostle prays for, with respect to the church, _That the
God of hope would fill them with all joy and peace in believing, that
they might abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost_, Rom.
xv. 13. is experienced by them: And on this account they are said, to be
_sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise_, Eph. i. 13. whereby their
hope is established, and that is now confirmed to them by this means,
which they were before in perplexity about; so that we have as much
ground to conclude that the Spirit is the author of assurance in
believers, as we have that he is the author of sanctification.

But that this doctrine may not appear liable to the charge of
enthusiasm, let it be farther considered, that the Spirit never gives
his testimony to the truth of grace in any, in whom he has not first
wrought it; for that would be, as it were, a setting his seal to a
blank. And to this we may add, that he, at the same time, excites the
lively exercise of grace, whereby they are enabled to discern that it is
true and genuine; so that their assurance, though it be not without some
internal, impressive influences, which they are favoured with; yet it is
not wholly dependent on them: Therefore, if you demand a reason of the
hope that is in them, though they ascribe the glory hereof to the Holy
Spirit, as enabling them to discern the truth of grace; yet they are
able to prove their ownselves, after having examined themselves, whether
they are in the faith, by discovering their evidences of the faith of
God’s elect; which argues that their assurance is no delusion.

Footnote 104:

  _See Quest._ lxvii: _Pag. 15 ante._

Footnote 105:

  _See page 54, 55, ante._

Footnote 106:

  _See Quest._ lxxxiii.

                             Quest. LXXXI.

    QUEST. LXXXI. _Are all true believers, at all times, assured of
    their present being in the estate of grace; and that they shall be

    ANSW. Assurance of grace and salvation not being of the essence of
    faith, true believers may wait long before they obtain it; and after
    the enjoyment thereof, may have it weakened and intermitted through
    manifold distempers, sins, temptations, and desertions; yet are they
    never left without such a presence and support of the Spirit of God,
    as keeps them from sinking into utter despair.

Having considered some believers as favoured with assurance of their
being in a state of grace, we are, in this answer, led to speak of
others who are destitute of it. And the general method in which it may
be considered, is,

I. That there is something supposed, namely, that assurance of grace and
salvation is not of the essence of saving faith.

II. Some things are inferred from this supposition, namely,

1. That true believers may wait long before they obtain assurance. And,

2. That after the enjoyment thereof it may be weakened and intermitted;
the reasons whereof are assigned, _viz._ bodily distempers, sins,
temptations, and divine desertions; yet it is farther added, that they
are never left without the support of the Spirit of God; whereby they
are kept from sinking into utter despair.

I. As to the thing supposed in this answer, _viz._ that assurance of
grace and salvation is not of the essence of faith. There are many who,
in other respects, explain the nature of faith, in such a way as is
unexceptionable, who, notwithstanding, assert that assurance is of the
essence thereof; in which we cannot but think they express themselves
very unwarily, at least, they ought to have more clearly discovered what
they mean by faith, and what by assurance, being of the essence of
faith; if they mean that no one has saving faith but he who has an
assurance of his own salvation; they not only assert what is contrary to
the experience of many believers, but lay a stumbling-block in the way
of weak Christians, who will be induced from hence to conclude, that
because they cannot tell whether they are true believers or no,
therefore they are destitute of saving faith; upon which account it is
necessary for us to enquire how far this supposition is to be allowed
of, and in what respect denied.

It is certain, that there are many excellent divines, in our own and
foreign nations, who have defined faith by assurance; which they have
supposed so essential to it, that without it no one can be reckoned a
believer. It may be they might be inclined thus to express themselves by
the sense in which they understood several texts of scripture, in which
assurance seems to be considered as a necessary ingredient in faith; as
it is said, _Let us draw near with a true heart, in full assurance of
faith_, Heb. x. 22. and when the apostle speaks of assurance, as a
privilege that belonged to the church to which he wrote, _We know that
if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a
building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens_,
2 Cor. v. 1. and elsewhere, he so far blames their not knowing
themselves, or being destitute of this assurance, that he will hardly
allow them to have any faith, who were without it; _Know ye not your
ownselves, how that Jesus, Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates_,
chap. xiii. 5. From such like expressions as these, they who plead for
assurance being of the essence of faith, are ready to conclude, that
they who are destitute of it, can hardly be called believers.

But, that this matter may be set in a true light, we must distinguish
between assurance of the object, _viz._ the great and important
doctrines of the gospel, being of the essence of faith; and assurance of
our interest in Christ being so. The former of these we will not deny;
for no one can come to Christ, who is not assured that he will receive
him, nor trust in him till he is fully assured that he is able to save
him: but the latter we must take leave to deny; for if no one is a
believer but he that knows himself to be so, then he that doubts of his
salvation, must be concluded to be no believer; which is certainly a
very discouraging doctrine to weak Christians. And also, when we lose
the comfortable persuasion we once had, of our interest in Christ, we
are bound to question all our former experiences, and to determine
ourselves to be in a state of unregeneracy, which is, in effect to deny
to give God the glory of that powerful work which was formerly wrought
in us, which we then thought to be a work of grace.

If they, indeed, mean by assurance, being of the essence of faith, that
an assurance of our interest in Christ is essential to the highest or
most comfortable acts of faith, designing thereby to put us upon
pressing after it, if we have not attained to it; and that hereby God is
very much glorified, and a foundation laid for our offering praise to
him, for the experience we have had of his grace, which a doubting
Christian cannot be said to do; we have nothing to say against it. Or,
if they should assert, that doubting is no ingredient in faith, nor a
commendable excellency in a Christian; this we do not deny. All that we
are contending for is, that there may be a direct act of faith, or a
faith of reliance, in those who are destitute of assurance that they are
in a state of grace; which is the thing supposed in this answer, when it
is said, that assurance is not of the essence of faith. That this may be
better understood, and we be led into the sense of those scriptures that
describe believers as having assurance, such as those but now mentioned,
and others to the like purpose, let it be considered, that there are
many scriptures, in which believers are said to have such an assurance,
as only respects the objects of faith, _viz._ the person, offices, and
glory of Christ, the truth of the gospel, and the promises thereof;
which we do not deny to be of the essence of faith. Thus, when the
apostle prays for the church, _That their hearts might be comforted,
being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance
of understanding, to the acknowledgment of the mystery of God, and of
the Father, and of Christ_, Col. ii. 2. and when elsewhere he says, _Our
gospel came to you in much assurance_, 1 Thess, i. 5. and when he
exhorts persons to _draw near_ to God, _with a true heart, in full
assurance of faith_, Heb. x. 22. it is probable, that he means in these,
and several other scriptures of the like import, no more than an
assurance of the object of faith. And as for that scripture but now
mentioned, in 2 Cor. xiii. 5. where he seems to assert, that all who are
destitute of this privilege are reprobates; some understand the word,
which we translate _reprobates_, as only signifying injudicious
Christians; and if so, this is not inconsistent with the character of
believers: but others, with an equal degree of probability, render it
_disapproved_;[107] and so the meaning is, that if you know not your
ownselves, to wit, that Christ is in you, you are greatly to be blamed,
or disapproved; especially because this proceeds from your neglect of
the duty of self-examination; by which means you have no proof of
Christ’s being in you, who are so ready to demand a proof of his
speaking in his ministers, as in verse 3. Therefore it does not appear
from this text, that every one who endeavours to know that he is in a
state of grace, by diligent self-examination, but cannot conclude that
he is so, must be determined to be destitute of faith; which would
necessarily follow from our asserting that assurance of our interest in
Christ, is of the essence of saving faith.

There are other scriptures which speak of assurance as a distinguishing
character of Christians in general; which are usually brought to prove,
that assurance is of the essence of faith, _viz._ 2 Cor. v. 1. _We know
that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a
building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens_;
and, 1 John v. 19. _we know that we are of God_: and in several places
in the New Testament, in which the apostle addresses his discourse to
whole churches, as having assurance, as well as the grace of faith: thus
the apostle Peter, 1 Pet. i. 8, 9. speaks of them as _loving Christ,
believing in him, rejoicing with joy unspeakable and full of glory, and
receiving the end of their faith, even the salvation of their soul_;
which could hardly be said of them, if they were destitute of assurance
of their own salvation. All that I would infer from these and such-like
scriptures is, that it seems probable that assurance was a privilege
more commonly experienced in that age of the church than it is in our
day; and there may be two reasons assigned for this,

(1.) Because the change that passed upon them, when they were converted,
was so apparent, that it was hardly possible for it not to be discerned.
They turned from dead idols, and the practice of the vilest
abominations, to serve the living God; which two extremes are so
opposite, that their being brought from one to the other could not but
be remarked by, and consequently more visible to themselves, than if it
had been otherwise; but,

(2.) That which may be assigned as the principal reason of this is,
because the church was called, at this time, to bear a public testimony
to the gospel, by enduring persecutions of various kinds; and some of
them were to resist unto blood. Therefore, that God might prepare them
for these sufferings, and that he might encourage others to embrace the
faith of the gospel, which was then in its infant state, he was pleased
to favour them with this great privilege. And it may be hereafter, if
God should call the church to endure like trials, he may in mercy grant
them a greater degree of assurance than is ordinarily experienced.

Nevertheless, it may be questioned; whether those scriptures which speak
of assurance, as though it were a privilege common to the whole church,
are not to be understood as applicable to the greater part of them,
rather than to every individual believer among them. For though the
apostle, in one of the scriptures before-mentioned, considers the church
at Corinth, as enjoying this privilege, and concluding that it should go
well with them in another world, when this earthly tabernacle was
dissolved; yet he speaks of some of them, in the same epistle, as not
knowing their ownselves, how that Jesus Christ was in them. And the
apostle John, notwithstanding what he says to the church, _We knew that
we are of God_, in 1 John v. 19. which argues that many of them had
assurance, plainly intimates that all had it not, from what he says,
ver. 13. _These things have I written unto you, that believe on the name
of the Son of God, that ye may know that ye have eternal life_: and
though in another scripture, but now mentioned, the apostle Peter speaks
to the church to which he writes, as having _joy unspeakable and full of
glory_ consequent upon their faith, which argues that they had
assurance; yet he exhorts others of them _to give diligence to make
their calling and election sure_, 2 Pet. i. 10. these therefore are
supposed, at that time, not to have it: from all which it may be
concluded, that assurance of grace and salvation, is not of the essence
of saving faith; which is the thing supposed in this answer.[108]

II. We proceed to consider those things that are inferred from this
supposition, viz.

1. That a believer may wait long before he attains it: this appears from
what is matter of daily experience and observation. The sovereignty of
God discovers itself herein, as much as it does when he makes the
ordinances effectual to salvation, in giving converting grace unto those
who attend upon them. Some are called early to be made partakers of that
salvation that is in Christ, others late. The same may be said with
respect to God’s giving assurance. Some are favoured with this privilege
soon after, or when first they believe; others are like those whom the
apostle speaks of, _who, through fear of death, are all their life-time
subject to bondage_, Heb. ii. 15. Many have often enquired into the
state of their souls, that cannot discern any marks or evidences of
grace in themselves; whose conversation is such, that others cannot but
conclude them to be true believers; their spirits are deprest, doubts
and fears prevail, and tend to make their lives very uncomfortable; they
wait and pray for the evidence and sense of God’s love to them, but
cannot immediately find it: this the Psalmist speaks of, either in his
own person, or thereby represents the case of many who had the truth of
grace, but not the assurance thereof, when he says, _O Lord God of my
salvation, I have cried day and night before thee; I am afflicted and
ready to die from my youth up; while I suffer thy terrors I am
distracted_, Psal. lxxxviii. compared with the xv. God suffers it to be
thus with them for wise ends. Hereby he lets them know, that assurance
of his love is a special gift and work of the Spirit; without which they
remain destitute of it, and cannot take comfort, either from their
former or present experiences.

2. They who once enjoyed assurance, may have it weakened and
intermitted; whether it may be entirely lost will be considered under a
following head, when we speak concerning the supports that believers
have, and how far they are kept hereby from sinking into utter despair:
it is one thing to fall from the truth of grace, another thing to lose
the comfortable sense thereof. The joy of faith may be suspended, when
the acts and habits of faith remain firm and unshaken. The brightest
morning may afterwards be followed with clouds and tempests; even so our
clearest discoveries of our interest in the love of God may be followed
with the withdrawment of the light of his countenance, and we be left
under many discouraging circumstances concerning our state, having lost
the assurance we once had.

If it be inquired, what reason may be assigned for this? I answer, that
it must, in a great measure, be resolved into the sovereignty of God,
who will bring his people which way he pleases, to heaven; and may take
those comforts which had their first rise from himself; and, at the same
time, none must say, why dost thou thus? However, we may observe some
particular reasons, which the providence of God points out to us, to
which we may in other respects, ascribe our want of assurance; and these
may be reduced to four heads, particularly mentioned in this answer.

(1.) It is sometimes occasioned by manifold distempers, or bodily
diseases: the soul and body are so closely joined to, and dependant on
each other, that the one can hardly suffer without the other. Hence it
is that bodily distempers affect the mind, excite and give disturbance
to the passions; which is a great addition to the uneasiness that ensues
hereupon. When the spirits are deprest, and we are under the prevalency
of a melancholy disposition, we are oftentimes inclined to think that we
are not in a state of grace; and though we were before this disposed to
comfort others in like cases, we are at this time unable to take the
least encouragement ourselves. All things look black and dismal; our
former hope is reckoned no other than delusive, and we brought to the
very brink of despair. And it may be observed, that these sad and
melancholy apprehensions concerning our state, increase or abate, as the
distemper that gives occasion thereunto more or less prevails.

Now that we may be able to determine whether our want of assurance
proceeds from some natural cause or bodily distemper, we must enquire;
whether, before this, we have endeavoured to walk in all good conscience
in the sight of God? to hate every false way, and make religion the
great business of life, so that we cannot assign any reigning sin as the
cause of our present desponding frame? And also, whether we have been
diligent in performing the duty of self-examination, and have been
sensible that we stood in need of the Spirit’s witness with ours, in
order to our arriving to a comfortable persuasion that we are in a state
of grace? And if, as the result of these enquiries, we cannot see any
cause leading to this dejection of spirit, but the unavoidable
infirmities, which we are daily liable to, then we may probably
conclude, that it arises from a distemper of body. And, in order to our
determining this matter, we must farther inquire; whether some
afflictive providence has not had an influence upon us, to bring us into
a melancholy temper? and whether this does not appear in what relates to
our secular, as well as our spiritual concerns? and if this be the case,
though it be very afflictive, it is not attended with that guilt as it
would be, had it been occasioned by some presumptuous sin; and there are
other medicines to be used when it arises from this cause, besides those
which are of a spiritual nature, that are contained in the gospel; but
what they are, it is not our business, in this place, to determine.

(2.) There are many sins which are the occasion of a person’s being
destitute of assurance. As all the troubles of life are brought upon us
by sin; so are all our doubts and fears, arising from the want of a
comfortable sense of, or interest in, the love of God. It pleases God,
in the method of his providence, thus to deal with his people, that he
may humble them for presumptuous sins; more especially those that are
committed against light and conviction of conscience, that he may bring
to remembrance their sins of omission, or neglect to exercise those
graces in which the life of faith consists, that hereby they may feel
the effect of their stupidity, indifferency, and carnal security, or
their engaging in religious duties, in their own strength, without
dependence on the Spirit and grace of God, or a due sense of their
inability to perform any duty in a right way. Or, sometimes, as has been
before observed, they want assurance, because they do not examine
themselves, which is God’s ordinance for the attaining this privilege;
or, if they do, they neglect to give that glory to the Holy Spirit which
is due to him, by depending on his enlightening influence, whereby they
may arrive to a comfortable persuasion of their interest in Christ.

(3.) Assurance is oftentimes weakened and intermitted through manifold
temptations. Satan is very active in this matter, and shews his enmity
against the interest of Christ in the souls of his people, as much as
lies in his power, with this intent, that though it is impossible for
him to ruin the soul, by rooting out that grace that is implanted in it;
yet he may disturb its peace, and weaken its assurance, and, if not
prevented, hurry it into despair. In this case the general design of his
temptations is to represent God as a sin-revenging Judge, a consuming
fire, and to present to our view, the threatenings whereby his wrath is
revealed against sinners; and to endeavour to set aside the promises of
the gospel, from which alone relief may be had.

Moreover, he puts us upon considering sin, not only as heinously
aggravated, (which may, for the most part be done with justice) but also
as altogether unpardonable; and, at the same time pretends to insinuate
to us that we are not elected, or that Christ did not die for us; and
therefore, what he has done and suffered will not redound to our
advantage. Now there is apparently the hand of Satan in this matter;
inasmuch as he attempts, by false methods of reasoning, to persuade us
that we are not in a state of grace, or that God is an enemy to us; and
therefore our condition is desperate; in which he uses the arts of the
old serpent, that he may deceive us by drawing conclusions against
ourselves from false premises, _e. g._ because we daily experience the
internal workings of corrupt nature, which inclines us to many sins,
both of omission and commission; therefore there is no room for us to
expect mercy and forgiveness from God. And from our barrenness and
unprofitableness under the means of grace, our improvements not being
proportioned to the obligations we have been laid under. Or because we
have had great reason to charge ourselves with many declensions and
backslidings, which afford matter for deep humiliation, and should put
us upon sincere repentance, he endeavours to persuade us that we are
altogether destitute of special grace. And whenever we are unprepared or
indisposed for the right performance of holy duties, and our affections
are not suitably raised, but grow stupid, remiss, and careless therein;
he puts us upon concluding that it is a vain thing for us to draw nigh
to God, and that he has utterly rejected, both our persons and services.
Or, if we are not favoured with immediate returns of prayer, and
sensible communion with God therein; he tempts us to infer, that we
shall never obtain the blessing we are pressing after; and therefore we
may as well lay aside this duty, and say, why should I wait on the Lord
any longer? And if by this method he cannot discourage us from engaging
in holy duties, he sometimes injects blasphemous thoughts or unbecoming
conceptions of the divine Majesty, which fills the soul with the
greatest grief and uneasiness, that hereby he might give us occasion to
conclude that we sin in persisting therein; and by all these temptations
he endeavours to plunge us into the depths of despair.

As to what concerns the purpose of God relating to the event of things:
when we are led to determine that we are not elected, this is alleged
without sufficient ground, and therein he deceives us, by pursuing the
same false methods of reasoning, and puts us upon presuming to enter
into those secret things which do not belong to us, because we deserve
to be cast off by him for our sins, instead of giving diligence to make
our calling and election sure. It is one thing not to be able to
conclude that we are elected; and another thing to say that we are not
so: the former of these is the consequence of our present doubts and
desponding apprehensions concerning our state; the latter is plainly a
temptation of Satan: this we are often subject to, when we have lost
that assurance of our interest in Christ that we once enjoyed,

(4.) A believer’s want of assurance is, for the most part, attended
with, and arises from divine desertion; not that we are to suppose that
God will cast off his people, whom he has foreknown, effectually called
and preserved hitherto, so as to forsake them utterly; for that is
inconsistent with his everlasting love, and the promises of the covenant
of grace, which respect their salvation. But that which we understand by
divine desertions, is God’s withdrawing his comforting presence, and
withholding the witness of his Spirit to the work of grace in the soul,
from whence arises those doubts and fears which attend the want thereof;
as God says to his people, _For a small moment have I forsaken thee; but
with great mercies will I gather thee_, Isa. liv. 7. In this respect
they are destitute of God’s comforting presence; though at the same time
they may be favoured with his supporting presence, and those powerful
influences which are necessary to maintain the work of grace; which, at
present, appears to be very weak and languishing.

And this leads us to consider the last thing mentioned in this answer,
_viz._ That though they are thus described, they are not left without
such a presence and support of the Spirit of God, as keeps them from
sinking into utter despair. This observation ought to be explained and
considered, with certain limitations, lest while on the one hand, we
assert that which affords matter of encouragement to believers, when
they have some degree of hope, we should, on the other hand, throw
discouragements in the way of others, who will be apt to imagine, when
they are ready to sink into despair, that this is wholly inconsistent
with any direct act of faith. I dare not say that no believer was ever
so far deserted as to be left to despair of his interest in Christ:
inasmuch as scripture and daily experience give us instances of some,
whose conversation in many respects discovers them to have had the truth
of grace; whom God has been pleased for wise ends, to leave to the
terror of their own thoughts, and they have remained for some time, in
the depths of despair; and others have gone out of the world under a
cloud, concerning whom there has been ground to hope their state was
safe. Therefore it is somewhat difficult to determine what is meant in
this answer, by a believer’s being kept from sinking into utter despair:
if the meaning is, that they have the supports of the Spirit of God, so
as to be kept from relapsing into a state of unregeneracy, in their
despairing condition, that may be easily accounted for; or, if we are to
understand by it, that believers are not generally given up to the
greatest degree of despair; especially such as is inconsistent with the
exercise of any grace, that is not to be denied. But I would rather say,
that though a believer may have despairing apprehensions concerning his
state, and the guilt of sin lie upon him like a great weight, so as to
depress his spirits, yet he shall not sink into endless misery; for
though darkness may continue for a night, light and joy shall come in
the morning; and accordingly we may consider,

[1.] That though there are many who are far from having assurance, yet
they are at some times, favoured with a small glimmering of hope, which
keeps them from utter despair.

[2.] If they are in deep despair, yet they are not so far left as not to
desire grace, though they conclude themselves to be destitute of it, or
not to lament the loss of those comforts, and their being unable to
exercise those graces which once they thought themselves possessed of.

[3.] A believer, when in a despairing way, is notwithstanding enabled,
by a direct act of faith, to give up himself to Christ, though he cannot
see his interest in him, and so, long for those experiences and comforts
which he once enjoyed; and when he is at the worst, he can say with Job,
_Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him_, Job xiii. 15.

[4.] In this case a person has generally such a degree of the presence
of God, as that he is enabled to justify him in all his dealings with
him, and lay the blame of all the troubles that he is under, on himself;
and this is attended with shame and confusion of face, self-abhorrence,
and godly sorrow.

[5.] Despairing believers have, notwithstanding, such a presence of God
with them, as keeps them from abandoning his interest, or running, with
sinners, into all excess of riot, which would give occasion to others to
conclude that they never had the truth of grace.

From what has been said concerning true believers being destitute of
assurance, and yet having some degree of the presence of God with them
at the same time, we may infer,

_1st_, That this is not inconsistent with what has been said concerning
a believer’s perseverance in grace; yet it must be considered with this
limitation, that though the truth of grace shall not be lost, yet the
comforts and evidences thereof may, and often are.

_2dly_, This should put us upon circumspect walking and watchfulness
against presumptuous sins, which, as has been before observed, are often
the occasion of the loss of assurance; and also on the exercise of a
faith of reliance on Christ, for the maintaining the acts of grace, as
well as restoring the comforts thereof.

_3dly_, This should instruct believers what to do when destitute of this
privilege of assurance. We have observed that this is attended with
divine desertion, which is generally occasioned by sins committed.
Therefore let us say with Job, _Shew me wherefore thou contendest with
me_, chap. x. 2. let me know what are those secret sins by which I have
provoked thee to leave me destitute of thy comforting presence; enable
me to be affected with, humbled for, and unfeignedly repent of them; and
exercise that faith in Christ which may be a means of my recovering that
hope or assurance which I am, at present, destitute of.

_4thly_, What has been said concerning a believer’s being destitute of
assurance, should put us upon sympathizing with those who are in a
despairing way, and using endeavours to administer comfort to them,
rather than censure them, or conclude them to be in an unregenerate
state; as Job’s friends did him, because the hand of God had touched
him, and he was destitute of his comforting presence.

_5thly_, From what has been said concerning that degree of the presence
of God which believers enjoy, which has a tendency to keep them from
utter despair, at least, from sinking into perdition, how disconsolate
soever their case may be at present; we may be induced to admire the
goodness and faithfulness of God in his dealings with his people, who
will not lay more on them than he will enable them to bear; though they
are comfortless and hopeless, yet they shall not be destroyed; and, in
the end, they shall be satisfied with God’s loving kindness; and when
the clouds are all dispersed, they shall have a bright and glorious day
in his immediate presence, where _there is fulness of joy_, and at his
_right hand_ where _there are pleasures for evermore_, Psal. xvi. 11.

Footnote 107:

  _The word_ αδοκιμοι, _though it be sometimes used to signify such as
  are rejected as objects of God’s hatred, as in Heb._ vi. 8. _and
  consequently is inconsistent with the character of believers; yet, in
  other places it may be taken according to the grammatical construction
  thereof, as opposed to_ δοκιμοι; _which signifies persons approved_, 2
  Tim. ii. 15. _and so it signifies a person whose conduct is
  blame-worthy, or whose actions are not to be approved of; and this may
  be applied to some who are not altogether destitute of faith_, _though
  they are not able to vindicate themselves in all respects as
  blameless. That the apostle uses the word in this sense here, seems
  probable from the application he makes of it to himself; it is said,
  ver. 3._ Ye seek a proof of Christ speaking in me, δοκιμην ζητειτε;
  _and verse 6. he says_, I trust that ye shall know that we are not
  reprobates; _so we render the words_ ελπιζω δε οτι γνωσεθε oτι hμεις
  ουκ εσμεν αδοκιμοι; _but it would be more agreeable to what is said in
  verse 4. if we should render them, I trust that ye shall know that we
  are not disapproved, or that ye shall find a proof of Christ speaking
  in us: and in verse 7. he farther says_, I pray to God, not that we
  should appear approved. ουχ iνα hμεις δοκιμοι φανωμεν, _that is, I am
  not so much concerned about your finding a proof of Christ speaking in
  us_; but that ye should do that which is honest, _q. d._ _I am more
  concerned for you than myself, though we be as reprobates_, hμεις δε
  wς αδοκιμοι ωμεν _that is, whether you think we have a proof of
  Christ’s speaking in us or no, or his approving us in the course of
  our ministry, my great concern is, that you may be approved; so that
  it is plain the apostle uses the word_ αδοκιμοι, _as signifying
  disapproved; and therefore as it is applied to those he speaks of in
  verse 5. the meaning is this; you seek to know whether we are approved
  of God as ministers; therefore I would advise you to examine
  yourselves, whether you be in the faith, and to prove your ownselves:
  and if you know not yourselves, you are in this respect blame-worthy,
  or to be disapproved; especially because you seem to have been
  negligent as to the duty of self-examination. Whether he who is
  diligent in the exercise of this duty, and yet cannot apprehend that
  he is in a state of grace, be, in this respect to be disapproved or
  no, it is certain, that he who is a stranger to himself, because of
  the neglect hereof, is disapproved._

Footnote 108:

  Vide Bellamy’s Works, 3 Vol. p. 81-83.

                             Quest. LXXXII.

    QUEST. LXXXII. _What is the communion in glory, which the members of
    the invisible church have with Christ?_

    ANSW. The communion in glory, which the members of the invisible
    church have with Christ, is, in this life, immediately after death;
    and at last perfected at the resurrection and day of judgment.

After having considered believers, or the members of the invisible
church, as enjoying this privilege of union with Christ, and, as the
immediate consequence hereof, communion with him. It has been farther
observed, that this communion with him, is either in grace, or glory.
Their communion with him in grace consists in their partaking of the
virtue of his mediation, in their justification, adoption, and
sanctification; which have been particularly considered, together with
other graces and comforts that accompany or flow from them. We are now
led to speak concerning the communion which they have with him in glory;
which contains the highest privilege they are capable of receiving;
consisting in his giving them some right discoveries of the glory which
they behold and enjoy by faith, in this life, and also of that which
shall be immediate, and, in some respects, complete, after death; and,
at the resurrection and day of judgment, be brought, in all respects, to
the utmost degree of perfection; when their joy, as well as their
happiness, shall be full, and continued throughout all the ages of
eternity. These are the subjects insisted on in several following
answers, which remain to be considered in this first part of the

                            Quest. LXXXIII.

    QUEST. LXXXIII. _What is the communion in glory, with Christ, which
    the members of the invisible church enjoy in this life?_

    ANSW. The members of the invisible church have communicated to them
    in this life, the first-fruits of glory with Christ, as they are
    members of him their head, and so, in him, are interested in that
    glory which he is fully possessed of; and as an earnest thereof,
    enjoy the sense of God’s love, peace of conscience, joy in the Holy
    Ghost, and hope of glory; as, on the contrary, the sense of God’s
    revenging wrath, horror of conscience, and a fearful expectation of
    judgment, are, to the wicked, the beginning of their torments which
    they shall endure after death.

There are two sorts of persons mentioned in this answer, namely, the
righteous and the wicked, and the different condition of each of them

I. With respect to the righteous, who are here styled the members of the
invisible church. There are several invaluable privileges which they are
made partakers of in this life, in which they are said to have a degree
of communion in glory with Christ; particularly as they enjoy the
first-fruits or earnest of that glory which they shall have with him
hereafter: And that,

1. As they are members of him, their head; and accordingly may be said,
in some respects, to be interested in that glory which he is fully
possessed of.

2. As they have a comfortable sense of his love to them, attended with
peace of conscience, joy in the Holy Ghost, and an hope of glory.

II. We have an account, on the other hand, of the dreadful condition of
impenitent sinners, when God sets their iniquities in order before them;
which is represented in a very moving way. Thus they are said to be
filled with a sense of God’s revenging wrath, horror of conscience, and
a fearful expectation of judgment; which is considered as the beginning
of those torments which they shall endure after death.

I. There are several invaluable privileges which the righteous enjoy in
this life, that are styled the first-fruits or earnest of glory. Though
Christ has reserved the fulness of glory for his people hereafter, when
he brings them to heaven; yet there are some small degrees thereof,
which they enjoy in their way to it. The _crown of righteousness_, as
the apostle speaks, is _laid up for them, which the righteous Judge
shall give them at that day_, 2 Tim. iv. 8. to wit, when we shall come
to judgment; then their joy shall be full; they shall be satisfied in
his likeness, and made compleatly blessed: Nevertheless there are some
prelibations, or foretastes, which they have hereof, for their support
and encouragement, while they are in this imperfect state. For the
understanding of this it may be premised,

1. That we are not to suppose that the present enjoyments which
believers experience in the highest degree, do fully come up to those
that are reserved for them. There is a great difference as to the degree
thereof. As a child that is newly born has something in common with what
he shall have when arrived at a state of manhood; but there are several
degrees, and other circumstances, in which he falls short of it: or, as
a few drops are of the same nature with the whole collection of water in
the ocean; yet there is a very small proportion between one and the
other: so the brightest discovery of the glory of God, which we are
capable of enjoying in this world; or the comfortable foretastes that
believers have of heaven, fall very much short of that which they shall
be possessed of, when they are received into it. And there are very
great allays, and many things that tend to interrupt and abate their
happiness, agreeably to the imperfection of this present state. Whatever
grace they are enabled to act, though in an uncommon degree, is attended
with a mixture of corruption; and as their graces are imperfect, so are
the comforts that arise from thence, which are interwoven with many
things very afflictive; so that they are not what they shall be, but are
travelling through this wilderness to a better country, and exposed to
many evils in their way thither.

2. All believers do not enjoy these delights and pleasures that some are
favoured with in their way to heaven; the comforts, as well as the
graces, of the Holy Spirit, are bestowed in a way of sovereignty, to
some more, and to others less: Some have reason to say with the apostle,
_Thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ_, 2
Cor. ii. 14. others are filled with doubts concerning their interest in
him, and go mourning after him all the day; and if they have, at some
times a small glimpse of his glory, by which they conclude themselves to
be, as it were, in the suburbs of heaven, they soon lose it, and find
themselves to be in the valley of the shadow of death, as the disciples,
when they were with Christ at his transfiguration, which was an emblem
of the heavenly blessedness, when his _face did shine as the sun, and
his raiment was white as the light_; which occasioned them to say, _it
is good for us to be here_; before they had done speaking, or had time
to reflect on their present enjoyment they were deprived of it when _the
cloud overshadowed them_, Matt. xvii. 2,-5. so the believer is not to
expect uninterrupted communion with God, or perfect fruition with him
here. However, that which we are at present to consider, is that degree
thereof which some enjoy; which is here called the first-fruits and
earnest of glory. The scripture sets it forth under both these

(1.) They are said to receive the first-fruits thereof; or as the
apostle styles it, _The first-fruits of the Spirit_, Rom. viii. 23. that
is, the graces and comforts of the Holy Ghost, which are the
first-fruits of that blessedness, that they are said to wait for; which
is called _the adoption_, viz. those privileges which God’s children
shall be made partakers of; or, _the glorious liberty_ which they shall
hereafter enjoy. This is styled, the _first-fruits_, as alluding to the
cluster of grapes, which they who were sent to spy out the land of
Canaan, were ordered to bring to the Israelites in the wilderness, that
hereby they might be encouraged in their expectation of the great plenty
that was to be enjoyed when they were brought to it. Or, it has
reference to the feast of ingathering, before the harvest, when they
were to bring the sheaf which was first to be cut down, and _wave it
before the Lord_, Lev. xxiii. 10, 11. compared with Deut. xxvi. 10, 11.
with thankfulness and joy, in expectation of the full harvest, which
would be the reward of the industry and labour of the husbandman. Thus
believers are given not only to expect, but to rejoice in hope of the
glory of God.

(2.) This is also called an earnest of glory. Thus believers are said to
be _sealed with that holy Spirit of promise which is the earnest of
their inheritance_, Eph. i. 13, 14. and elsewhere it is said, _God hath
given us the earnest of his Spirit_, 2 Cor. i. 5. An earnest is a small
sum, given in part of payment; whereby they who receive it, are
encouraged hereafter to expect the whole: So a believer may conclude,
that as sure as he now enjoys those spiritual privileges that accompany
salvation, he shall not fail of that glory which they are an earnest of.
In this respect God is pleased to give his people a wonderful instance
of his condescending love, that they may hereby be led to know what the
happiness of the heavenly state is, in a greater degree than can be
learned from all the descriptions that are given of it, by those who are
destitute of this privilege. Heaven is the port to which every believer
is bound, the reward of all those labours and difficulties which he
sustains in his way to it; and to quicken him to the greater diligence
in pursuing after it, it is necessary that he should have his thoughts,
meditation, and conversation there. The reason why God is pleased to
give his people some foretastes thereof, is, that they may love and long
for Christ’s appearing, when they shall reap the full harvest of glory.
Now this earnest, prelibation, or first-fruits of the heavenly
blessedness which believers enjoy in this life, is considered in this

[1.] As it is included in that glory which Christ is possessed of as
their head and Mediator.

[2.] As they have those graces wrought in them, and comforts flowing
from thence, which bear some small resemblance to what they shall
hereafter be made partakers of.

[1.] Christ’s being possessed of the heavenly blessedness, as the head
of his people, is an earnest of their salvation. For the understanding
of which, let it be considered, that our Lord Jesus sustained this
character, not only in what he suffered for them, that he might redeem
them from the curse of the law; but in the glory which he was afterwards
advanced to: _Thus it is said, that he is risen from the dead, and
become the first-fruits of them that slept_, 1 Cor. xv. 20. and
accordingly they are said to be _risen with him_, Col. iii. 1. as
respecting that communion which they have with him herein; and when,
after this, he ascended into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of
the Majesty on high, his people are said _to sit together in heavenly
places in him_, Eph. ii. 6. not that we are to suppose that they are
made partakers of any branch of his mediatorial glory, or joined with
him in the work which he there performs, as their exalted head: But his
being considered as their representative, appearing in the presence of
God for them, is a foundation of their hope that they shall be brought
hither at last; and therefore, when he is about to depart out of this
world, he gave an intimation to his people, whom he left behind him in
it, that he went _to prepare a place for them_, John xiv. 3. and assures
them, that _because he lives they shall live also_, ver. 19.

[2.] The graces and comforts of the Holy Spirit, which believers are
made partakers of, may also be said to be a pledge and earnest of
eternal life. Heaven is a state in which grace is brought to perfection,
which, at present, is only begun in the soul: nevertheless, the
beginning thereof affords ground of hope that it shall be compleated. As
a curious artist, when he draws the first lines of a picture, does not
design to leave it unfinished; or he that lays the foundation of a
building, determines to carry it on gradually, till he has laid the
top-stone of it; so the work of grace, when begun by the Spirit, is a
ground of hope that it shall not be left unfinished. As God would never
have brought his people out of Egypt with an high hand and an
outstretched arm, and divided the red sea before them, if he had not
designed to bring them into the promised land; so we may conclude, that
when God has magnified his grace in delivering his people from the
dominion of darkness, and translating them into the kingdom of his dear
Son; when he has helped them hitherto, and given them a fair and
beautiful prospect of the good land to which they are going, he will not
leave his work imperfect, nor suffer them to fall and perish in the way
to it. Christ, in believers, is said to be _the hope of glory_, Col. i.
27. and the joy which they have in believing, is said not only to be
_unspeakable_, but _full of glory_, 1 Pet. i. 8. that is, it bears a
small resemblance to that joy which they shall be filled with, when
brought to glory, and therefore may well be styled the earnest or
first-fruits of it.

Now, that this may farther appear, let it be considered, that the
happiness of heaven consists in the immediate vision and fruition of
God, where the saints behold his face in light and glory[109], and enjoy
all those comfortable fruits and effects that arise from thence, which
tend to make them compleatly happy. Thus it is said, _They shall see him
as he is_, 1 John iii. 2. and they are said to _enter into the joy of
their Lord_, Matt. xxv. 21. Believers, it is true, are not in all
respects, said to be partakers of this blessedness here; and their
highest enjoyments bear but a very small proportion to it: Yet, when we
speak of some as having the foretastes of it, we must consider, that
there is something in the lively exercise of faith, and the joy that
arises from it, when believers have attained the full assurance of the
love of God, and have those sensible manifestations of his comfortable
presence with them, that bears some small resemblance to a life of

That which in some respects resembles the beatific vision, is a sight of
God’s reconciled face, and of their interest in all the blessings of the
covenant of grace, by faith. It is true, the views which they have of
the glory of God here, are not immediate, but at a distance; and
therefore they are said to _behold_, _as in a glass, the glory of the
Lord_, 2 Cor. iii. 18. Thus we see things at a distance, as through a
perspective glass, which enlarges the object[110], and brings it, as it
were, near to the eye, though in reality, it be at a great distance from
it; and so gives us a clear discerning of that which could otherwise
hardly be discovered: So faith gives us clearer views of this glory than
we could have any other way. Hereby we are said _to see him that is
invisible_, Heb. xi. 27. Thus, when God bade Moses go up to the top of
Pisgah, and strengthened his sight, he took a view of the whole land of
Canaan, though without this he could only have beheld a small part
thereof: So when God not only gives an eye of faith, but strengthens it
in proportion to the views he designs it shall take of the heavenly
state, that lies at so great a distance, the soul is enabled to see it,
and herein has a faint emblem of the beatific vision.

Moreover, as heaven is a state, in which the saints have the perfect
fruition of those blessings which tend to make them compleatly happy;
the view which a believer is enabled, by faith, to take of his interest
in Christ, and the glory he shall be made partaker of with him, is
sometimes attended with such an extasy of joy and triumph, as is a kind
of anticipation of that glory which he is not yet fully possessed of.
Such an one is like an heir who wants but a few days of being of age;
who does not look upon his estate with that distant view which he before
did, but with the satisfaction and pleasure that arises from his being
ready to enter into the possession of it; or like one who after a long
and tedious voyage, is within sight of his harbour, which he cannot but
behold with a pleasure, which very much resembles that which he shall
have when he enters into it; this is more than a bare hope of heaven; it
is a full assurance, attended with a kind of sensation of those joys
which are inexpressible, which render the believer a wonder to himself,
and afford the most convincing proof to others, that there is something
real and substantial in the heavenly glory, whereof God is pleased to
favour some of his people with the prelibations. That some have enjoyed
such-like manifestations of the divine love to them, and been filled
with those raptures of joy, accompanying that assurance which they have
had of their salvation, is evident from the experience which they have
had of it in some extraordinary and memorable occurrences in life; and
others at the approach of death.

Of this there are multitudes of instances transmitted to us in history:
I shall content myself with a brief extract of some passages which we
meet with in the life and death of some who appear to have had as
comfortable a foretaste of the joys of heaven, as it is possible for any
one to have in this world. And the first that I shall mention is that
eminently learned and pious Dr. Rivet; who, in his last sickness seemed
to be in the very suburbs of heaven, signifying to all about him, what
intimate communion he had with God, and fore-views of the heavenly
state; his assurance of being admitted into it; and how earnestly he
longed to be there: and, in the very close of life, one who stood by him
could not forbear expressing himself to this purpose; I cannot but think
that he is now enjoying the vision of God, which gave him occasion to
signify that it was so, as well as he was able to express himself, which
account, and much more to the same purpose, is not only mentioned by the
author of his last hours, but is taken notice of in a public funeral
oration, occasioned by his death.[111]

And what a very worthy writer observes,[112] concerning that excellent
servant of Christ, Mr. Rutherford, who recites some of his last words to
this purpose, is very remarkable, who says, “I shall shine, I shall see
him as he is, and all the fair company with him, and shall have my large
share. It is no easy thing to be a Christian; but as for me, I have got
the victory; and Christ is holding forth his arms to embrace me. I have
had my fears and faintings, as another sinful man, to be carried through
creditably; but as sure as ever he spake to me in his word, his Spirit
witnessed to my heart, saying, Fear not; he had accepted my suffering,
and the outgate should not be matter of prayer, but of praise.” And a
little before his death, after some fainting, he said, “Now I feel, I
believe, I enjoy, I rejoice, I feed on manna, I have angels’ food, my
eyes shall see my Redeemer; I know that he shall stand, at the latter
day, on the earth, and I shall be caught up in the clouds to meet him in
the air. I sleep in Christ; and when I awake I shall be satisfied with
his likeness; O for arms to embrace him!” And to one speaking concerning
his painfulness in the ministry, he cried out, “I disdain all; the port
I would be in at, is redemption and forgiveness of sins through his
blood.” And thus, full of the Spirit; yea, as it were overcome with
sensible enjoyment, he breathes out his soul, his last words being
these; “Glory, glory dwelleth in Emmanuel’s land.”

To this I may add the account given of that great man Dr. Goodwin, in
some memoirs of his life, composed out of his own papers published by
his son,[113] who intimates that he rejoiced in the thoughts that he was
dying, and going to have a full and uninterrupted communion with God; “I
am going, said he, to the three Persons with whom I have had communion;
they have taken me, I did not take them; I shall be changed in the
twinkling of an eye; all my lusts and corruptions I shall be rid of,
which I could not be here; those croaking toads will fall off in a
moment.” And mentioning those great examples of faith, Heb. xi. said he,
“All these died in faith. I could not have imagined I should ever had
such a measure of faith in this hour; no, I could never have imagined
it. My bow abides in strength. Is Christ divided? No, I have the whole
of his righteousness; I am found in him, not in my own righteousness,
which is of the law; but in the righteousness which is of God, which is
by faith of Jesus Christ, who loved me, and gave himself for me. Christ
cannot love me better than he doth; I think I cannot love Christ better
than I do; I am swallowed up in God:” and then he says, “Now shall I
ever be with the Lord.” With this assurance of faith, and fulness of joy
his soul left this world, and went to see and enjoy the reality of that
blessed state of glory.

There is also an account, in the life and death of Mr. John Janeway, of
the great assurance and joy which he had in his last sickness, in which
he expresses himself to this purpose; “I am, through mercy, quite above
the fears of death, and am going unto him whom I love above life. O that
I could let you know what I now feel! O that I could shew you what I
see! O that I could express the thousandth part of that sweetness which
now I find in Christ! you would all then think it worth the while to
make it your business to be religious. O my dear friends, you little
think what a Christ is worth upon a death-bed! I would not, for a world,
nay, for millions of worlds, be now without Christ and a pardon. O the
glory! the unspeakable glory that I behold! My heart is full, my heart
is full; Christ smiles and I cannot choose but smile. Can you find in
your heart to stop me, who am now going to the complete and eternal
enjoyment of Christ? Would you keep me from my crown? The arms of my
blessed Saviour are open to embrace me; the angels stand ready to carry
my soul into his bosom. O did you but see what I see, you would all cry
out with me, How long dear Lord, come Lord Jesus, come quickly? Or why
are his chariot-wheels so long a coming?” Much more to the same purpose
may be found in the life of that excellent man, which is exceedingly

And there is another who does not come short of him in his death-bed
triumphs;[114] who says concerning himself, “Death is not terrible, it
is unstinged; the curse of the fiery law is done away: I bless his name
I found him; I am taken up in blessing him; I am dying rejoicing in the
Lord; I long to be in the promised land; I wait for thy salvation; how
long! Come sweet Lord Jesus, take me by the hand; I wait for thy
salvation, as the watchman watcheth for the morning; I am weary with
delays; I faint for thy salvation: Why are his chariot-wheels so long a
coming? What means he to stay so long? I am like to faint with delays.”
After that he said, “O Sirs, I could not believe that I could have born,
and born cheerfully this rod so long: This is a miracle, pain without
pain. And this is not a fancy of a man disordered in his brain, but of
one lying in full composure: O blessed be God that ever I was born; O if
I were where he is! And yet, for all this, God’s withdrawing from me
would make me as weak as water: all this I enjoy, though it be a miracle
upon miracle, would not make me stand without new supply from God; the
thing I rejoice in is, that God is altogether full; and that in the
Mediator Christ Jesus, there is all the fulness of the Godhead, and it
will never run out. I am wonderfully helped beyond the power of nature,
though my body be sufficiently teazed, yet my spirit is untouched.” Much
more to this purpose we have in the latter part of his life, which I
shall close with one thing that is very remarkable. When he was
apprehensive that he was very near his death, he said, “When I fall so
low that I am not able to speak, I’ll shew you a sign of triumph, when I
am near glory, if I be able;” which accordingly he did, by lifting up
his hands, and clapping them together, when he was speechless, and in
the agonies of death.

Many more instances might have been given to illustrate this argument,
whereby it will evidently appear, that God is pleased, sometimes, to
deal familiarly with men, by giving them extraordinary manifestations of
his presence, before he brings them into the immediate enjoyment of
himself in heaven; which may be well called an earnest or prelibation
thereof.[115] And it may serve as a farther illustration of an argument
before insisted on,[116] to prove that assurance of God’s love is
attainable in this life, from the various instances of those who have
been favoured with it. This assurance, as it may be observed, is
accompanied with the lively acts of faith, by which it appears to be
well grounded; so that, as the apostle says, _The God of hope_ is
pleased to _fill them with all joy and peace in believing_; whereby they
_abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost_, Rom. xv. 13. in
which respect it may be said, to use the prophet’s words, that _they joy
before thee, according to the joy in harvest, and as men rejoice when
they divide the spoil_, Isa. ix. 3. This is like the appearing of the
morning-star, which ushers in a bright and glorious day, and gives a
full discovery to themselves and others, that there is much of heaven
enjoyed in the way to it, by those whom God delights to honour. Thus
concerning the communion in glory, which the members of the invisible
church sometimes enjoy in this life; which leads us to consider,

II. The miserable condition of the wicked in this life, when God is
provoked, as a sin-revenging Judge, to fill them with a sense of his
wrath; from whence arises horror of conscience, and a fearful
expectation of judgment; which is the beginning of those torments which
they shall endure after death, as it is observed in the latter part of
this answer. We have many instances in scripture, of the punishment of
sin in this world, in whom God is said _to reprove and set_ their
iniquities _in order before their eyes_, Psal. l. 21. which fills them
with horror of conscience,[117] and leaves them in utter despair. They
who once thought themselves in a prosperous condition, concerning whom
it is said, _Their eyes stand out with fatness, they have more than
heart could wish_, Psal. lxxiii. 7. yet their end was terrible, when it
appears that they were _set in slippery places_, being _cast down into
destruction, brought into desolation as in a moment, and utterly
consumed with terrors_, ver. 18, 19.

We have a sad instance of this in Cain, after he had slain his brother,
and fell under the curse of God, whereby he was sentenced to be a
fugitive and vagabond in the earth. He separated himself indeed from the
presence of the Lord, and the place in which he was worshipped; but
could not fly from the terrors of his own thoughts, or get any relief
under the uneasiness of a guilty conscience; which made him fear that he
should be slain by the hand of every one that met him; and complain, _My
punishment is greater than I can bear_, Gen. iv. 13.

And some understand that expression of Lamech in the same sense, when he
says, _I have slain a man to my wounding, and a young man to my hurt. If
Cain shall be avenged seven-fold, truly Lamech seventy and seven-fold_,
Gen. iv. 23, 24. The wrath of God was also denounced against Pashur; as
it is said, the _Lord hath not called thy name Pashur, but
Magor-missabib; for thus saith the Lord, I will make thee a terror to
thyself, and to all thy friends_, Jer. xx. 3, 4.

And Judas, after he had betrayed our Saviour, was filled with the
terrors of an accusing conscience, which forced him to confess, not as a
believing penitent, but a despairing criminal; _I have sinned in that I
have betrayed the innocent blood_; after which it is said, _He departed,
and went and hanged himself_, Matt, xxvii. 4, 5. Nothing is more
terrible than this remorse of conscience, which renders sinners
inexpressibly miserable. This is a punishment inflicted on those who sin
wilfully, presumptuously, and obstinately against the checks of
conscience and rebukes of providence, and various warnings to the
contrary, who treasure up to themselves wrath against the day of wrath;
who are _contentious, and do not obey the truth_; that is, they are so
far from obeying it, that they persecute and oppose it; and, on the
other hand, _obey unrighteousness_: to these belong, as the apostle
says, _indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish_, Rom. ii. 5, 8,
9. This not only waits for them, as _laid up in store, and sealed up
among God’s treasures, to whom vengeance belongeth_, Deut. xxxii. 34,
35. but they are made to taste the bitterness of that cup, which shall
afterwards be poured forth without mixture. In this world _their eyes
shall see their destruction, and_ afterwards _they shall drink of the
wrath of the Almighty_, Job xxi. 20. This is a most affecting subject;
how awful a thing is it to see a person surrounded with miseries, and,
at the same time, shut up in darkness, and left destitute of hope! With
what horror and anguish was the soul of Saul filled, when he uttered
that doleful complaint; _I am sore distressed; for the Philistines make
war against me, and God is departed from me_, 1 Sam. xxviii. 15. much
more for a person to apprehend himself fallen into the hands of the
living God, who is a consuming fire; and having nothing left but the
fearful expectation of future judgment, and an abyss of woes that will
ensue hereupon. These are the evils that some endure in this life; which
is no less terrible to them than the comfortable foretastes of the love
of God are joyful to the saints.

From the different view of the end of the wicked, and the righteous,
many useful instructions may be learned.

1. When we consider the wicked as distressed with the afflicting sense
of what they feel, and with the dread of that wrath which they would
fain flee from, but cannot, we may infer,

(1.) That a state of unregeneracy, whatever advantages may attend it, as
to the outward blessings of common providence, is a very sad and
deplorable condition, far from being the object of choice to those who
duly consider the consequences hereof. The present amusements that arise
from the enjoyment of sensual pleasures, from whence the sinner
concludes himself to be happy, is the most miserable instance of
self-deceit, and will appear to be so, if we consider the end thereof,
or that _the triumphing of the wicked is short, and the joy of the
hypocrite but for a moment_, Job xx. 5. and after that, nothing shall
remain but what wounds his spirit, and makes his misery intolerable.

(2.) When we meet with instances of persons sunk in the depths of
despair, and tormenting themselves with the fore views of hell and
destruction, let this be a warning to others to flee from the wrath to
come. I would not be peremptory in passing a judgment on the state of
those who apprehend themselves to be irretrievably lost, and feel those
terrors in their consciences which no tongue can express. A person can
hardly read the account of the despair of poor Spira, soon after the
reformation; and how much his sentiments concerning himself, resembled
the punishment of sin in hell, without trembling: he was, indeed, a sad
instance, of the wrath of God breaking in upon conscience; and is set up
as a monument to warn others, to take heed of apostacy; and in this, and
suchlike instances, we have a convincing proof of the reality of a
future state of misery; or, that the punishment of sin in hell is not an
ungrounded fancy: nevertheless, it is not for us to enter into those
secrets which belong not to us, or to reckon him among the damned in
another world, because he reckoned himself among them in this. And as
for any others that we may see in the like circumstances, we are not so
much to pass a judgment concerning their future state, as to infer the
desperate estate of sinners, when left of God, and to bless him that it
is not our case. And on the other hand, let not unregenerate sinners
think that they are safe, merely because their consciences are quiet, or
rather stupid, since that false peace, which they have, is no better
than _the hope of the hypocrite_, which _shall perish_, and be _cut
off_; and his _trust shall be as a spider’s web_, if he continue in his
present condition.

From what has been said concerning the happiness of the righteous, in
the enjoyment they have of the first fruits of the heavenly glory, we
may learn,

(1.) That this may afford farther conviction to us, that there is a
state of complete blessedness reserved for the saints in another world;
since, besides the arguments we have to prove this taken from scripture,
we have others founded in experience, so far as it is possible for any
to attain to the joys of heaven before they come there. Though the
instances we have here given thereof are uncommon, yet this inference
from them is just, and may afford matter of conviction to those who are
wholly taken up with earthly things, and have no taste of, nor delight
in things spiritual, that religion has its own rewards attending it, and
consequently that a believer is the only happy man in the world.

(2.) This may serve as an encouraging motive to induce Christians to
hold on their way. Whatever difficulties or distressing providences they
may meet with in this life, if they have the earnest and foretastes of
heaven at any time, this will make their afflictions seem light;
inasmuch as they work for them a far more exceeding and eternal weight
of glory. And if they are rather waiting and hoping for them, than
actually enjoying them, let them adore and depend on the sovereignty of
God, who dispenses these comforts when he pleases: and if they are
destitute of the joy of faith, let them endeavour to be found in the
lively exercise of the direct acts thereof, trusting in Christ, though
they have not such sensible communion with him as others have; and let
them bless God, (though they have not those foretastes of the heavenly
glory, which accompany a full assurance thereof,) if they have a quiet,
composed frame of spirit, and are not given up to desponding thoughts,
or unbelieving fears, and have ground to conclude, that though their
state be not so comfortable as that of others; yet it is no less safe,
and shall, at last, issue into the fruition of that felicity of which
others have the first-fruits here on earth.

(3.) Let them who are at any time favoured with this privilege of
assurance, and the joy that arises from it, walk very humbly with God,
as being sensible that this frame of spirit is not owing to themselves,
but to the quickening and sealing influences of the Holy Ghost; and if,
by neglecting to depend on him for the continuance thereof, we provoke
him to leave us to ourselves, we shall soon lose this desirable frame,
and be left in darkness: since as without him we can do nothing, so
without his continued presence we can enjoy none of those privileges
which tend to make our lives comfortable, and give us an anticipation of
future glory.

Footnote 109:

  _See Quest._ lxxxvi. xc.

Footnote 110:

  Reflecting as mirrors, or beholding as by mirrors.

Footnote 111:

  _Vid. Dauberi orat. Funeb. ad front. & Hor. Noviss. ad calc. Tom. 3.
  Riveti operum: in which he is represented as saying, Nolite mei causa
  dolere, ultima hæc momenta nihil habent funesti; corpus languet
  quidem, at anima robore & consolatione plena est, nec impedit paries
  iste intergerinus, nebula ista exigua, quo minus lucem Dei videam.
  Atq; exinde magis magisque optavit dissolvi & cum Christo esse.
  Sufficit mi Deus exclamabat subinde, sufficit, suscipe animam meam:
  Non tamen moram impatienter fero. Expecto, credo, persevero, dimoveri
  nequeo, Dei Spiritus meo spiritui testatur, me ex filiis suis esse. O
  amorem ineffabilem! id quod sentio, omnem expressionem alte
  transcendit. Veni Domine Jesu, veni, etenim deficio, nan quidem
  impatiens Domine, sed anima mea respicit te ut terra sicca. Preces &
  votum, ut Deus Paradisum aperiret, & huic fideli servo suo faciem suam
  ostenderet; his verbis supplevit; cum animabus justorem sanctificatis;
  Amen, Amen. Exinde lingua præpedita verbo affirmare; mox ad vocem
  adstantium, ipsum jam visione Dei frui, annuere; paulo post sub mediam
  decimam matutinam placide in Domino obdormiit._

Footnote 112:

  _See Fleming’s Fulfilling of the Scripture, in fol. Part 1. page 287._

Footnote 113:

  _See Dr. Goodwin’s Works, Vol. 5. in his life, page 19._

Footnote 114:

  _See the Memoirs of the Life of Mr. Halyburton, Cap. 6._

Footnote 115:

  _See this argument improved by Mr. Fleming_, _in his Fulfilling of the
  Scripture_, _Edit. in Fol. page 394_, & seq. _in which he takes
  several remarkable passages out of Melchoir Adam’s Lives, and gives
  several instances of that extraordinary communion which some have had
  with God, both in life and death; whose conversation was well known in
  Scotland; so that he mentions it as what is a matter undeniably true:
  and he relates other things concerning the assurance and joy which
  some have had; which has afforded them the sweetest comforts in
  prisons and dungeons, and given them a foretaste of heaven, when they
  have been called to suffer death for Christ’s sake._

Footnote 116:

  _See Page 252, ante._

Footnote 117:

  _See Vol. II. page 151._

                         Quest. LXXXIV., LXXXV.

    QUEST. LXXXIV. _Shall all men die?_

    ANSW. Death being threatened as the wages of sin, it is appointed
    unto all men once to die; for that all have sinned.

    QUEST. LXXXV. _Death being the wages of sin, why are not the
    righteous delivered from death, seeing all their sins are forgiven
    in Christ?_

    ANSW. The righteous shall be delivered from death itself at the last
    day, and even in death are delivered from the sting and curse of it;
    so that, although they die, yet it is out of God’s love, to free
    them perfectly from sin and misery; and to make them capable of
    farther communion with Christ in glory, which they then enter upon.

In these answers we have an account,

I. Of the unalterable purpose of God, or his appointment that all men
once must die; which is also considered as the wages of sin.

II. It is supposed, that death has a sting and curse attending it with
respect to force.

III. It is the peculiar privilege of the righteous, that though they
shall not be delivered from death, yet this shall redound to their
advantage: For,

1. The sting and curse of it is taken from them.

2. Their dying is the result of God’s love to them; and that in three

(1.) As they are thereby freed from sin and misery.

(2.) As they are made capable of farther communion with Christ in glory,
beyond what they can have in this world.

(3.) As they shall immediately enter upon that glorious and blessed
state when they die.

I. God has determined, by an unalterable purpose and decree, that all
men must die. Whatever different sentiments persons may have about other
things, this remains an incontestable truth. We have as much reason to
conclude that we shall leave the world, as, at present, we have that we
live in it. _I know_, says Job, _that thou wilt bring me to death, and
to the house appointed for all living_, Job xxx. 23. and upon this
account the Psalmist says, _I am a stranger with thee, and a sojourner,
as all my fathers were_, Psal. xxxix. 12. And if scripture had been
wholly silent about the frailty of man, daily experience would have
afforded a sufficient proof of it. We have much said concerning man’s
mortality in the writings of the heathen; but they are at a loss to
determine the origin or first cause of it; and therefore they consider
it as the unavoidable consequence of the frame of nature, arising from
the contexture thereof, as that which is formed out of the dust must be
resolved into its first principle; or that which is composed of flesh
and blood, cannot but be liable to corruption. But we have this matter
set in a true light in scripture, which considers death as the
consequence of man’s first apostacy from God. Before this he was
immortal, and would have always remained so, had he not violated the
covenant, in which the continuance of his immortality was secured to
him; the care of providence would have prevented a dissolution, either
from the decays of nature, or any external means leading to it. And
therefore some of the Socinian writers have been very bold in
contradicting the express account we have hereof in Scripture, when they
assert that death was, at first, the consequence of nature;[118] for
which reason man would have been liable to it, though he had not sinned;
whereas the apostle says, _By one man sin entered into the world, and
death by sin, and so death passed upon all men, for that all have
sinned_, Rom. v. 12.

We have a particular account of this in the sentence God passed on our
first parents immediately after their fall; when having denounced a
curse upon the ground for their sake, he says, _Dust thou art, and unto
dust shalt thou return_, Gen. iii. 19. And it may be observed, that as
this is unavoidable, pursuant to the decree of God, so the constitution
of our nature, as well as the external dispensations of providence, lead
to it. This sentence no sooner took place, but the temperament of human
bodies was altered,[119] the jarring principles of nature, on the due
temperament whereof life and health depends, could not but have a
tendency by degrees to destroy the frame thereof; if there be too great
a confluence of humours, or a defect thereof; if heat or cold
immoderately prevails; if the circulation of the blood and juices be too
swift or slow: or if the food on which we live, or the air which we
breathe be not agreeable to the constitution of our nature, or any
external violence be offered to it; all these things have a necessary
tendency to weaken the frame of nature, and bring on a dissolution.
David includes the various means by which men die, in three general
heads, speaking concerning Saul, _The Lord shall smite him, or his day
shall come to die, or he shall descend into battle, and perish: the Lord
shall smite him_, 1 Sam. xxvi. 10. denotes a person’s dying by a sudden
stroke of providence, in which there is the more immediate hand of God;
and his _falling into battle_, a violent death by the hands of men; in
both which respects men die before that time which they might have lived
to, according to the course of nature; and what is said concerning his
_day’s coming to die_; that is, a person’s dying what we call a natural
death, or when nature is so spent and wasted that it can no longer
subsist by all the skill of the physicians, or virtue of medicine; and
then the soul leaves its habitation, when it is not longer able to
perform the functions of life.

We might here consider those diseases that are the fore-runners of
death, which sometimes are more acute; and by this means, as one
elegantly expresses it, nature feels the cruel victory before it yields
to the enemy. As a ship that is tossed by a mighty tempest, and by the
concussion of the winds and waves, loses its rudder and masts, takes
water in every part, and gradually sinks into the ocean: so in the
shipwreck of nature, the body is so shaken and weakened by the violence
of a disease, that the senses, the animal and vital operations decline,
and, at last, are extinguished in death.[120] This seemed, so formidable
to good Hezekiah, that he utters that mournful complaint, _Mine age is
departed and removed from me as a shepherd’s tent: I have cut off like a
weaver, my life; he will cut me off with pining sickness: from day even
to night, wilt thou make an end of me. I reckoned till the morning, that
as a lion, so will he break all my bones: from day even to night wilt
thou make an end of me_, Isa. xxxvii. 12, 13.

We might here consider the empire of death as universal; as the wise man
says, _One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh_,
Eccl. i. 4. and then they pass away also, like the ebbing and flowing of
the sea. Death spares none; the strongest constitution can no more
withstand its stroke, than the weakest; no age of man is exempted from
it. This is beautifully described by Job; _One dieth in his full
strength, being wholly at ease and quiet: his breasts are full of milk,
and his bones are moistened with marrow: and another dieth in the
bitterness of his soul; and never eateth with pleasure: they shall lie
down alike in the dust, and the worms shall cover them_, Job xxi. 23-26.

We might also consider the body after death, as a prey for worms, the
seat of corruption; and lodged in the grave, the house appointed for all
living; and then an end is put to all the actions, as well as enjoyments
of this life; and, as the Psalmist speaks, _In that very day_ all _their
thoughts perish_, Psal. cxlvi. 4. Whatever they have been projecting,
whatever schemes they have laid, either for themselves or others, are
all broken: as the historian observes concerning the Roman emperor, that
when he had formed great designs for the advantage of the empire,[121]
death broke all his measures, and prevented the execution thereof.

We might also consider it as putting an end to our present enjoyments,
removing us from the society of our dearest friends, to a dismal and
frightful solitude. This was one of the consequences thereof, that was
very afflictive to Hezekiah, when he says, _I shall behold man no more
with the inhabitants of the world_, Isa. xxxviii. 11. It also strips us
of all our possessions, and the honours we have been advanced to in this
world, as the Psalmist speaks, _When he dieth he shall carry nothing
away, his glory shall not descend after him_, Psal. xlix. 27.

We might also consider the time of life and death as being in God’s
hand. As we were brought into the world by the sovereignty of his
providence, so we are called out of it at his pleasure; concerning whom
it is said, _Our times are in his hand_, Psal. xxxi. 15. So that as
nothing is more certain than death, nothing is more uncertain to us than
the time when. This God has concealed from us for wise ends. Did we know
that we should soon die, it would discourage us from attempting any
thing great in life; and did we know that the lease of life was long,
and we should certainly arrive to old age; this might occasion the
delaying all concerns about our soul’s welfare, as presuming that it was
time enough to think of the affairs of religion and another world, when
we apprehend ourselves to be near the confines thereof; and therefore,
God has by this, made it our wisdom, as well as our duty, to be waiting
all the days of our appointed time, till our change come.

From what has been said under this head, we may learn,

1. The vanity of man as mortal. Indeed, if we look on believers as
enjoying that happiness which lies beyond the grave, there is a very
different view of things; but as to what respects the world we have
reason to say as the Psalmist does, _Verily, every man at his best
estate is altogether vanity_, Psal. xxxix. 5. We may see the vanity of
all those honours and carnal pleasures which many pursue with so much
eagerness, as though they had nothing else to mind, nothing to make
provision for but the flesh, which they do at the expence of that which
is in itself most excellent and desirable: We may also infer,

2. That this affords an undeniable and universal motive to humility;
since death knows no distinction of persons, regards the rich no more
than the poor; puts no mark of distinction between the remains of a
prince and a peasant; and not only takes away every thing that men value
themselves upon, but levels the highest part of mankind with common
dust: They who boast of their extract, descent, and kindred, are
obliged, with Job, to say, _to corruption, Thou art my father; to the
worm, Thou art my mother and my sister_, Job xvii. 14. Shall we be proud
of our habitations, _who dwell in houses of clay, whose foundation is in
the dust?_ chap. iv. 19. Are any proud of their youth and beauty? this
is, at best, but like a flower that does not abide long in its bloom,
and when cut down, it withers. The finest features are not only spoiled
by death, but rendered unpleasant and ghastly to behold; and accordingly
are removed out of sight, and laid in the grave.

3. From the consideration of man’s liableness to death, and those
diseases that lead to it, as the wages of sin, we may infer; that sin is
a bitter and formidable evil. The cause is to be judged of by its
effects. As death, accompanied with all those diseases which are the
forerunners of it, is the greatest natural evil that we are liable to;
sin, from whence it took its rise, must be the greatest moral evil; we
should never reflect on the one without lying low before God in a sense
of the other. The Psalmist, when meditating on his own mortality, traces
it to the spring thereof; and ascribes it to those rebukes with which
_God corrects men for their iniquities_, that they die, and their
_beauty consumes away like a moth_, Psal. xxxix. 11. And elsewhere, when
he compares the life of man to the _grass_, which _in the morning
fourisheth, and groweth up; and in the evening is cut down and
withereth, he immediately adds; thou hast set our iniquities before
thee, our secret sins in the light of thy countenance_, Psal. xc. 6, 8.
And when Hezekiah had an intimation of his recovery, after he had the
sentence of death within himself, he speaks of his deliverance from the
_pit of corruption_, Isa. xxxviii. 17. as that which was accompanied
with God’s _casting all his sins behind his back_. And since we cannot
be delivered from these sad effects of sin, till the frame of nature is
dissolved, and afterwards rebuilt; it should put us upon using those
proper methods whereby we may be freed from the guilt and dominion
thereof; and accordingly it should have a tendency to promote a life of
holiness in us.

4. From the uncertainty of life, let us be induced to improve our
present time, and endeavour so to live, as that, when God calls us
hence, we may be ready. And therefore, we ought to pray with the
Psalmist, _So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts
unto wisdom_, Psal. xc. 12. that by this means, that which deprives us
of all earthly enjoyments, may give us an admission into a better world,
and be the gate to eternal life. This leads us to consider,

II. That death has a sting and curse annexed to it, with respect to
some. Thus the apostle expressly says, _The sting of death is sin_, 1
Cor. xv. 56. As sin at first brought death into the world; so it is the
guilt thereof, lying on the consciences of men, which is the principal
thing that makes them afraid to leave the world; not but that death is,
in itself, an evil that nature cannot think of without some reluctancy.
And therefore the apostle Paul, although he expresses that assurance
which he had of happiness in another world, which he _groaned_ after,
and _earnestly_ longed to be possessed of; yet had it been put to his
choice, he would have wished that he could have been _clothed upon with
the house which is from heaven_, 2 Cor. v. 2. that is, had it been the
will of God, that he might have been brought to heaven without going the
way of all the earth, this would have been more agreeable to nature. But
when the two evils of death meet together, namely, that which is
abhorrent to nature, and the sting which makes it much more formidable,
this is, beyond measure, distressing. In this answer, the sting and
curse of death are both put together, as implying the same thing.
Accordingly, it is that whereby a person apprehends himself liable to
the condemning sentence of the law, separated from God, and excluded
from his favour, so that death appears to him to be the beginning of
sorrows; this is that which tends to embitter it, and fills him with
dread and horror at the thoughts of it. Which leads us,

III. To shew that it is the peculiar privilege of the righteous, that
though they shall not be delivered from death, yet this shall redound to
their advantage. That they shall not be exempted from death is evident;
because the decree of God relating hereunto, extends to all men. We
read, indeed, of two that escaped the grave, viz. Enoch, who was
translated that he should not see death, and Elijah, who was carried to
heaven in a fiery chariot; but these are extraordinary instances, not
designed as precedents, by which we may judge of the common lot of
believers. And the saints that shall be found alive at Christ’s second
coming, shall undergo a change[122], as the apostle speaks; which though
it be equivalent to death, it cannot properly be styled a dying;
inasmuch as he opposes it thereunto, when he says, _We shall not all
sleep, but we shall all be changed_, 1 Cor. xv. 51. and he speaks of it
as a future dispensation of providence, which does not immediately
concern us in this present age. Therefore we must not conclude that
believers are delivered from the stroke of death; nevertheless, this is
ordered for their good, as the apostle says, with a particular
application to himself, _For me to die is gain_, Phil. i. 21. And when
he speaks of the many blessings that believers have in possession or in
reversion, he says, _Death is yours_; as though he should say, it shall
redound to your advantage; and this it does if we consider,

1. That the sting of death is taken away from them. This is the result
of their being in a justified state; for since a person’s being liable
to the condemning sentence of the law is the principal thing that has a
tendency to make him uneasy, and may be truly called the sting that
wounds the conscience; so a sense of his interest in forgiveness through
the blood of Christ, tends to give peace to it; such an one can say, who
shall lay any thing to my charge? It is God that justifieth; or though I
have contracted guilt, which renders me unworthy of his favour; yet I am
persuaded that this guilt is removed; and therefore iniquity shall not
be my ruin; and even death itself shall bring me to the possession of
those blessings that were purchased for me by the blood of Christ, which
I have been enabled to apply to myself by faith; and with this
confidence he can say with the apostle, _O death, where is thy sting? O
grave, where is thy victory?_ 1 Cor. xv. 55.

2. Their dying is an instance of God’s love to them. As those whom
Christ is said to have _loved in the world, he loved unto the end_ of
his life; so he loves them to the end of theirs, John xiii. 1. And as
nothing has hitherto separated them from this love, nothing shall be
able to do it. There are _three_ instances wherein the love of God to
dying believers discovers itself.

(1.) In that they are hereby freed from sin and misery; this they never
were, nor can be till then. As for sin, there are the remainders thereof
in the best of men, which give them great disturbance, and occasion for
that daily conflict which there is between flesh and spirit, as has been
before observed. But at death the conflict will be at an end, and the
victory which they shall obtain over it, compleat. There shall be no law
in the members warring against the law of the mind; no propensity or
inclination to what is evil; nor any guilt or defilement contracted;
which would be inconsistent with a state of perfect holiness. And as it
is a state of perfect happiness, there is an entire freedom from all
those miseries which sin brought into this lower world. These are either
internal or external, personal or relative; none of which shall occur to
allay, or give any disturbance to the saints’ blessedness after death.
But more of this will be considered under a following answer; in which
we shall be led to speak of the happiness of the righteous at the day of
judgment, both in soul and body[123]; and therefore we proceed to

(2.) That the death of a believer appears to be an instance of divine
love, in that hereby he is made capable of farther communion with Christ
in glory. Persons must be made meet for heaven before they are admitted
to it. Though our present season and day of grace is a time in which God
is training his people up for glory; and there is an habitual
preparation for it, when the work of grace is begun; which is what the
apostle intends when he speaks of some who are _made meet to be made
partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light_, Col. ii. 12. when
they were first translated into Christ’s kingdom: nevertheless this
falls very short of that actual meetness which the saints must have when
they are brought to the possession of the heavenly blessedness. Then
they shall be made perfect in holiness, as will be observed in the next
answer; otherwise there can be no perfect happiness.

And besides this, the soul must be more enlarged, that hereby it may be
enabled to receive the immediate discoveries of the divine glory, or to
converse with the heavenly inhabitants, than it can be here. The frame
of nature must be changed; which is what the apostle intends, when he
says, _Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, neither doth
corruption inherit incorruption_, 1 Cor. xv. 50. accordingly he adds,
ver. 53. _This corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal
must put on immortality_; whereby he intimates, that frail, mortal, and
corruptible man, is not able to bear that glory which is reserved for a
state of immortality. Therefore the soul must be so changed as to be
rendered receptive thereof; and in order thereto, all its powers and
faculties must be greatly enlarged; otherwise it can no more receive the
immediate rays of the divine glory, than the weak and distempered eye
can look steady on the sun shining in its meridian brightness. In this
world our ideas of divine things are very imperfect, by reason of the
narrowness of our capacities, and God condescends to reveal himself to
us in proportion thereto; but when the saints shall see him as he is, or
have a perfect and immediate vision and fruition of his glory, they
shall be made receptive of it; this is done at death; whereby they are
rendered capable of farther communion with Christ in glory.[124]

(3.) At death believers immediately enter upon, and are admitted into
the possession of this glory. At the same time that the soul is enlarged
and fitted for the work and enjoyment of heaven, it is received into it;
where it shall have an uninterrupted communion with Christ in glory;
which is the subject insisted on in the following answer.

Footnote 118:

  _Sequela naturæ._

Footnote 119:

  _Before this there was what some call_ temperamentum ad pondus, _which
  was lost by sin; and a broken constitution, leading to mortality
  ensued thereupon_.

Footnote 120:

  _See Dr. Bates on Death, chap._ ii.

Footnote 121:

  _Vid. Sueton. in Vit. Jul. Cæs. Talia agentem atq; meditantem mors

Footnote 122:

  _See more of this in Quest._ lxxxvii.

Footnote 123:

  _See Quest._ xc.

Footnote 124:

  The belief of a separate state is very ancient. Cicero and Seneca have
  asserted, that all nations believed the immortality of the soul. Yet
  we know there were not only individuals, but sects who were
  exceptions. Saul the first king of Israel believed that the soul
  survived the death of the body, or he would neither have made laws
  against necromancers, nor have applied to one in his distresses. If
  Samuel was raised, it is a fact, directly in point, but the words
  though express, are probably an accommodation to the sentiments of
  men. The son of Sirach who lived two hundred years before Christ, says
  that Samuel prophesied after he was dead. (Ecclus. c. 46. v. 20.) And
  Josephus in his account of the life of Saul, shows his belief to be
  that Samuel actually arose. The same feats of apparitions which the
  disciples had, still exist with the common people, and are proofs that
  they entertain the same sentiment.

  Some of the Pharisees, who are represented as believing a separate
  state, thought souls might return to other bodies. This was the
  opinion of Josephus with respect to the virtuous; and also of those
  Jews, who supposed that Jesus was Elijah or Jeremiah; but the question
  of the disciples, whether a man had been born blind for his own sins,
  implies a possibility of a return also of the wicked into other
  bodies. Nevertheless the prevailing opinion of the Pharisees was of a
  separate state; otherwise Paul’s professing their sentiments, which
  must have been known to him, was disingenuous; nor, if they had known
  the difference, would they have protected him. The approbation of the
  multitude when he proved the doctrine from the words of Jehovah to
  Moses at the bush, (Matt. xxii. 32.) and the parable of Lazarus and
  the rich man, evince that the common opinion was such.

  This subject, has been enlightened, not first brought to light,
  through the Gospel, but plainly asserted: _this day shalt thou be with
  me in paradise. At home in the body, and absent from the Lord, absent
  from the body, and present with the Lord_, is descriptive but of two
  states. The desire _to depart to be with Christ_, shows an immediate
  expectation. And otherwise it cannot be said that the spirits of just
  men are _made perfect_.

  The Jews, Greeks, and Romans assigned the Heaven to the gods, earth to
  men, and under the earth (שאול, αδης, inferi) to the dead. The
  passages “the spirit shall return to God,” and “the spirit of a man
  goeth upwards” are not exceptions, for then they would prove that the
  evil, as well as the good, went to heaven. That the spirit is disposed
  of by God, and that the spirit of a man survives the death of the
  body, seem to be all that is respectively implied. Samuel was believed
  to come out of, and return to his place under the earth; and Saul was
  to be with him, below the earth; but, possibly, in a different
  apartment. Thus Abraham and Lazarus were in sight of, and only divided
  from the man in torments by a gulph.

  Under the gospel the place of separate saints is represented to be in
  Heaven. Heaven had been always assigned to God among the Jews, and
  even the heathens thought it the most honourable place: Virgil
  assigned it to Cæsar. Jesus declared he came from thence, and would
  return thither; and for the comfort of his disciples, told them, he
  would prepare a place for them, and take them to himself. They saw him
  actually ascend. He is to come from thence, and to bring them with him
  to judgment.

  This change of representation implies no contradiction, for pure
  spirits are not confined to place. Our souls are connected with our
  bodies, and therefore go and come with, or rather in them. But when
  the connexion is broken, the soul cannot be said to be in one place
  more than another, except as it is occupied with material objects. It
  can attend to one thing only at once, and therefore when in, it cannot
  be out of the body, and must be wherever occupied, but not in any
  _place_, except concerned with material objects. The infinite Spirit
  had no connexion with space in all the eternity which preceded
  creation; since time began as every thing is known and supported by
  him, he is said to be in all places. But the idea of place is not
  necessary to our conceptions of Spirit.

  To speak of the planets as the residence of spirits, and to talk of
  souls flying through the _visible_ Heavens in quest of paradise is
  idle. If all souls must ascend to Heaven, from India they go in a
  direction opposite to our course thither.

  There is no sun nor moon enjoyed by saints in glory; the Lord is their
  light. And spiritual bodies are not flesh and blood, nor belly, nor
  meats; nor corruptible nor mortal; but fit for the society of spirits.
  The soul at death is discharged from the prison of these bodies, and
  not confined to place. It receives new faculties, which entertain it
  with more than substitutes for the sensations it had in the body; it
  obtains a perception of light more vivid than in dreams, and
  permanent. It enjoys the discernment, society, and communion of other
  Spirits; the presence of God and the Redeemer; and progresses in the
  knowledge and love of God, and so in holiness and happiness forever.

                             Quest. LXXXVI.

    QUEST. LXXXVI. _What is the communion in glory with Christ, which
    the members of the invisible church enjoy immediately after death?_

    ANSW. The communion in glory with Christ, which the members of the
    invisible church enjoy immediately after death, is, in that their
    souls are then made perfect in holiness, and received into the
    highest heavens, where they behold the face of God in light and
    glory, waiting for the full redemption of their bodies, which, even
    in death, continue united to Christ, and rest in their graves as in
    their beds, till at the last day they be again united to their
    souls: Whereas the souls of the wicked are at death cast into hell,
    where they remain in torments and utter darkness, and their bodies
    kept in their graves, as in their prisons, till the resurrection and
    judgment of the great day.

Having considered the soul as separated from the body by death; the next
thing that will be enquired into, is what becomes of it, and how it is
disposed of in its separate state? and here we find that there is a vast
difference between the righteous and the wicked in this respect: the
former have communion with Christ in glory, the latter are in a state of
banishment and separation from him; being cast into hell, and there
remaining in torments and utter darkness. Both these are particularly
insisted on in this answer. In speaking to which, we must consider,

I. That there is something supposed; namely, that the soul of man is
immortal; otherwise it could not be capable of happiness or misery.

II. We shall consider the happiness which the members of the invisible
church enjoy; which is called communion with Christ in glory.

III. The misery which the souls of the wicked endure at death; which is
contained in the latter part of the answer.

I. To speak concerning the thing supposed in this answer; namely, that
the soul of man is immortal. This is a subject of that importance, that
we must be first convinced of the truth of it before we can conclude
that there is a state of happiness or misery in another world. But
before we proceed to the proof of it, it is necessary for us to explain
what we are to understand thereby; accordingly let it be premised,

1. That we read, in scripture, of the death of the soul, in a spiritual
sense, as separated by sin, from God, the fountain of life and
blessedness, and as being destitute of a principle of grace; whereby it
is utterly indisposed to perform any actions that are spiritually good,
as much as a dead man is unable to perform the functions of life. In
this sense we are to understand the apostle’s words, _She that liveth in
pleasure is dead while she liveth_, 1 Tim. v. 6. And in this respect
unregenerate persons are said to be _dead in trespasses and sins_, Eph.
ii. 1. and a condemned state, which is the consequence hereof, is a
state of death. Now that which is opposed hereunto, is called, in
scripture, a spiritual life, or immortality; but this is not the sense
in which we are to consider it in our present argument.

2. Immortality may be considered as an attribute peculiar to God, as the
apostle says, _he only hath immortality_, 1 Tim. vi. 16. the meaning of
which is, that his life, which includes his Being, and all his
perfections, is necessary and independent; but in this respect no
creature is immortal; but their life is maintained by the will and
providence of God, which gave being to it at first.

3. When we speak of creatures being immortal, we must consider them
either as not having any thing in the constitution of their nature, that
tends to a dissolution, which cannot be effected by any second cause; or
their eternal existence, pursuant to the will of God, who could, had he
pleased, have annihilated them. It is in both these senses that we are
to consider the immortality of the soul.

That it is in its own nature immortal, has been allowed by many of the
Heathens, who have had just conceptions of the spirituality of its
nature, possessed due regards to the providence of God, and those marks
of distinction that he puts between good and bad men, as the consequence
of their behaviour in this life. That the soul survives the body, has
been reckoned, by some of the Heathens, as an opinion that has almost
universally obtained in the world[125]. Thus Plato introduces
Socrates[126] as discoursing largely on this subject, immediately before
his death: and, in some, other of his writings, not only asserts, but
gives as good proofs of this doctrine as any one, destitute of
scripture-light, could do. One of his followers, in the account he gives
of his doctrine, recommends and insists on an argument which he brings
to prove it, which is not without its weight, namely, that the soul acts
from a principle seated in its own nature, and not by the influence of
some external cause, as things material do[127]. And Strabo speaks of
the ancient Brachmans, among the Indians, as entertaining some notions
of the immortality of the soul, and the judgment passed upon it in its
separate state; agreeable to what Plato advances on that subject[128].

Some, indeed, have thought that this notion took its rise from Thales,
the Milesian, who lived between two and three hundred years before
Plato, and about six hundred years before the Christian Æra, from an
occasional passage mentioned by Diogenes Laertius, in his life, which is
hardly sufficient to justify this supposition; which he brings in only
as matter of report[129]: And Cicero[130] supposes it was first
propagated by Pherecydes, who was cotemporary with him; though Diogenes
Laertius makes no mention of it. But it may be inferred from many things
in Homer, the oldest writer in the Greek tongue, who lived above three
hundred years before Thales, that the world had entertained some
confused ideas of it in his time: As we often find him bringing in the
souls of the deceased heroes appearing in a form, and speaking with a
voice like that which they had when living, to their surviving friends.
And he not only supposes, but plainly intimates that their souls existed
in a separate state[131]. And in other places he represents some
suffering punishment for their crimes committed here on earth[132];
which plainly argues, whatever fabulous account we have of the nature of
punishment, or the person suffering it, that it was an opinion,
generally received at that time, that the soul existed in a separate

And, indeed, this maybe inferred from the doctrine of Dæmons, or the
superstitious worship of the heathens, which they paid to the souls of
those heroes who formerly lived on earth, and had done some things which
they thought rendered them the peculiar favourites of God, and the
objects of worship by men; and that their souls existed with God in
great honour and favour in a separate state[133]. But passing this by,
it may be farther observed, that whatever notions some of the heathens
had of the immortality of the soul in general; they were very much at a
loss, many of them, in determining the place, or many things relating to
the state in which they were; and therefore many of them, with
Pythagoras, asserted the doctrine of transmigration of souls, or their
passing from one body to another; and being condemned to reside in vile
and dishonourable bodies; which, though it perverts, yet doth not
overthrow the doctrine of the soul’s immortality; and others seemed to
doubt whether, after four or five courses of transmigration of souls
from one body to another, they might not at last shrivel into nothing.

It must also be acknowledged, that there was a considerable party among
the heathen that adhered to the sentiments of Epicurus, who denied the
immortality of the soul, as supposing it to be material. And the
Sadducees are represented, in scripture, as imbibing that notion; who
are said to deny both angels and spirits, Acts xxiii. 8. In this respect
they gave into his philosophy, as to what concerns his denying the
immortality of the soul, or its existence in a future state[134]: But
passing this by, we may observe, that notwithstanding all that has been
said concerning this doctrine, by the better and wiser part of the
heathen in their writings; yet their notions seem very defective, if we
trace them farther than what concerns the bare separate existence of the
soul; or, if they attempt to speak any thing concerning its happiness in
a future state, they then discover that they know but little of this
matter; and many of them, though they cannot deny the soul’s
immortality, yet they seem to hesitate about it; and therefore we may
say with the apostle, that _life and immortality is brought to light
through the gospel_, 2 Tim. i. 10. that is, if we would be sure of the
immortality of the soul, and know its state and enjoyments in another
world, we must look farther than the light of nature for it: and in
seeking for arguments in scripture, we shall find great satisfaction
concerning this matter, which we cannot do from the writers before

That some of the heathen were in doubt about this important truth, is
very evident from their writings; for Plato himself[135],
notwithstanding the many things which he represents Socrates as saying,
concerning a state of immortality after death, endeavouring to convince
his friend Cebes about that matter, and apprehending that he had so far
prevailed in the argument, as that his antagonist allowed that the soul
survived the body, but yet held the transmigration of souls into other
bodies; this he seems to allow him, and adds, that it is uncertain
whether the soul, having worn out many bodies, may not at last perish
with one that it is united to[136]. And he farther says to him, that I
must now die, and you shall live; but which of us is in the better state
God only knows[137].

As for Aristotle, though, in many places of his writings, he seems to
maintain the immortality of the soul; yet in others it appears that he
is in doubt about it; and seems to assert, that neither good nor evil
happens to any man after his death[138]. And the Stoicks, who did not
altogether deny this doctrine; yet they supposed that in process of
time, it would be dissolved[139]. And even Cicero himself,
notwithstanding all that he says, by which he seems to give into this
doctrine; yet sometimes speaks with great hesitation about it[140]. And
notwithstanding what Seneca says concerning the immortality of the soul,
as has been often before observed; yet he speaks doubtfully of it[141];
so that we must have recourse to scripture, and those consequences that
are deduced from it, as well as those things that may be inferred from
the nature of the soul to prove that it is immortal. And,

(1.) For the proof of this doctrine, let it be considered, that the soul
is immaterial; which appears from its being capable of thought, whereby
it is conversant about, and takes in ideas of things divine and
spiritual, which no creature below man can do. It has a power of
inferring consequences from premises, and accordingly is the subject of
moral government, capable of conversing with God here, and expecting
rewards or punishments from him hereafter; all this cannot be produced
by matter or motion: As for matter, that is in itself altogether
unactive; and when motion is impressed upon it, the only change that is
made therein, is in the situation and contexture of its parts, which
cannot give it life, sensation or perception, much less a power of
judging and willing, or being conversant about things spiritual and

(2.) This power of thinking or reasoning was not derived from the body
to which it was united; for that which has not in itself those superior
endowments, cannot communicate them to another: Its union with the soul
cannot impart them to it; for whatever sensation the body has, (which is
below the power of reasoning,) is derived from the soul, as appears from
its being wholly destitute thereof, when the union between the soul and
body is broken: And therefore, since those superior powers, or
excellencies of the soul, are produced by another cause, we must
conclude, that they are immediately from God: This evidently appears
from scripture; the body of Adam was first formed, and then it is said,
_God breathed into his nostrils the breath of life_, Gen. ii. 7. that
is, he put into it that soul which was the spring and fountain of all
living actions; and then it follows, man became a living soul: And it is
considered as a peculiar display of the glory of God, that he _formeth
the spirit of man within him_, Zech. xii. 2.

(3.) It follows from hence, that the dissolution of the body makes no
alteration in the powers and faculties of the soul; which is not hereby
rendered subject to death. For, as it did not derive those powers from
the body, as was before observed, it could not be said to lose them in
the ruin of the body: Thus our Saviour speaks of the soul as not being
affected with those injuries that tend to the bodies destruction, when
he says, _Fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill
the soul_, Mat. x. 28.

(4.) We have a particular account in scripture, of the soul when
separated from the body, as disposed of in a different way from it; it
does not go down to the earth as the body does, from whence it was, but
_returns to God who gave it_, Eccl. xii. 7. Its return to God supposes
that it was accountable to him for its actions performed in the body, or
the way and manner in which the faculties were exerted; and accordingly,
when separate from it, it is represented as returning to God to give an
account of its behaviour in the body, and to reap the fruits and effects
thereof. And as it is said to return to God; so believers breathe forth
their souls, and resign them by faith into the hand of God, as our
Saviour expresses it, _Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit_, Luke
xxiii. 46. or, as Stephen says, _Lord Jesus receive my spirit_, Acts
vii. 59.

(5.) The soul’s immortality may be proved from the extent of the
capacities thereof, and the small improvement men make of them in this
world, especially the greatest part of mankind. What a multitude are
there who never had the faculties of the soul deduced into act, in whom
the powers of reasoning were altogether useless, while in this world; I
mean in those whose souls are separated from their bodies as soon as
they are born; others die in their childhood, before reason comes to
maturity; and how great a part of the world live to old age, whose souls
have not been employed in any thing great or excellent, in proportion to
their capacities? Were these made in vain? or did God design, when he
brought them into, or continued them either a longer or a shorter time
in the world, that they should never be employed in any thing that is
worthy of these noble faculties? Therefore we must conclude that there
is another state, in which the soul shall act more agreeably to those
capacities which it is endowed with.

(6.) This may be farther proved, not only from the natural desires,
which there are in all men, of immortality; but more especially those
desires, which the saints have, of enjoying some things in God, which
cannot be attained in this life. The natural desire of immortality is
what belongs to all: With what reluctancy does the soul and body part;
which arises from a natural aversion to a dissolution, unless there be a
well-grounded hope of a life of blessedness that shall ensue? Moreover
there is not only a desire but an expectation of the soul’s living for
ever, when separated from the body, in a state of happiness; which
believers are made partakers of, as a peculiar blessing from God:
Therefore we must conclude, that he that gave them will satisfy them; so
that as they have a thirst after happiness, which is the effect of a
supernatural power, they shall not be disappointed or destitute of it;
which they must be if the soul does not survive the body.

(7.) The immortality of the soul may be proved from the justice of God
as the Governor of the world. This divine perfection renders it
necessary that rewards and punishments should be distributed according
to men’s behaviour in this life. We observe, under a foregoing head,
that man is supposed to be accountable to God, from the consideration of
the spirit’s returning to him: And it also follows, from what was said
under another head, concerning the soul’s being the subject of moral
government: But this argument will be farther improved under a following
answer, when we consider our Saviour’s coming to judge the world[142].
All the use therefore that we shall at present make thereof, is, that
the soul being thus accountable to God, has reason to expect some
peculiar marks of favour beyond what it receives in this world; or to
fear some punishment as the consequence of crimes committed, from the
hand of the supreme Judge of all: Thus it is said, _God will render to
every man according to his deeds_, Rom. ii. 6. And elsewhere, _Every one
shall receive according to what he hath done in the body, whether it be
good or bad_, 2 Cor. v. 10. Now that which makes for our present
argument, is, that the best men in the world do not receive those
peculiar marks of divine favour, as to what respects their outward
condition therein, as some of the vilest men often do: This the prophet
Jeremiah takes notice of, when he says, _Righteous art thou, O Lord,
when I plead with thee; yet let me talk with thee of thy judgments:
Wherefore doth the way of the wicked prosper? Wherefore are all they
happy that deal very treacherously?_ Jer. xii. 1. And the Psalmist, when
observing the prosperity of the wicked, says, _They are not in trouble
like other men; neither are they plagued like other men_, Psal. lxxiii.
5. that is, not exposed to those rebukes of providence, as to what
concerns outward things, as good men are.

That which is alledged by some to solve this difficulty, is, that virtue
has its own reward; and therefore, the good man cannot but be happy,
whatever troubles he meets with in this life, since he has something
within himself that makes him so. But to this it may be replied, that
this cannot give the least satisfaction, that the divine distributions
are just and equal, to those who are destitute of this inward comfort;
and the principal ingredient in that internal happiness which arises
from the exercise of religion and virtue, consists in the divine
approbation, and the interest which such have in that love, which shall
discover itself more fully, when the soul, being separate from the body,
shall enjoy the happiness resulting from it in another world: Therefore,
this is so far from militating against the doctrine we are maintaining,
that it affords a considerable argument to support it.

If it be objected also, on the other hand, that sin brings its own
punishment along with it, in that uneasiness which the wicked find in
their own breasts; concerning whom it is said, _They are like the
troubled sea when it cannot rest; whose waters cast up mire and dirt_,
Isa. lvii. 20. This also proves the immortality of the soul; inasmuch as
this fear arises from a sense of guilt, whereby persons are liable to
punishment in another world, who are not in the least concerned about
the punishment of sin in this, and are ready to conclude themselves out
of the reach of human judicature; therefore, that which they are afraid
of, is God’s righteous judgments in another world, which they cannot, by
any means, free themselves from the dread of. We must therefore conclude
that this is as natural to man, considered as sinful, as the hope of
future blessedness is to one that is righteous; and both these are the
result of a divine impression enstamped on the souls of men, which
affords an evident proof of their immortality.

The objections against this doctrine, are generally such as carry in
them the lowest and most abject thoughts of human nature in those who
may truly be said to despise their own souls. When they pretend, as was
before observed, that they are material, this is to set the soul on a
level with the body; for matter, how much soever it be refined, when it
is resolved into the particles of which it consists, has no excellency
above other material beings.

As to the objections that are brought against this doctrine from
scripture, by which the frailty of this present life is set forth: These
do not in the least tend to overthrow the immortality of the soul. Thus,
when it is said in Eccles. iii. 19, 20. _That which befalleth the sons
of men, befalleth beasts, even one thing befalleth them: As the one
dieth, so dieth the other; yea, they have all one breath; so that a man
hath no pre-eminence above a beast; all go unto one place; all are of
the dust, and all turn to dust again._ It is plain, that Solomon here
speaks of the inferior part of man, in which he has no pre-eminence
above the beasts, as the body is resolved into dust, as well as the
bodies of the brute creatures; but then the following words sufficiently
confute the objection, in which it is said, _the spirit of man goeth
upward_; whereby he asserts, not only the superior excellency, but the
immortality of the soul.

Again, when it is said in chap. ix. 5. _The living know that they must
die, but the dead know not any thing; neither have they any more a
reward; for the memory of them is forgotten._ This is sufficiently
answered by only reading the following words; by which it appears, that
their memory is forgotten; and they are said to have no farther reward
in this world; or, as it is expressed, _They have no more any portion
for ever, in any thing that is done under the sun_; but this does not in
the least intimate that they have no portion in what respects the things
of another world; and, indeed, their labour being unrewarded here,
affords us an incontestible argument, that they shall have it hereafter,
when the soul leaves this world.

And as for other scriptures, that seem to intimate as though death put
an end to all those actions of religion which were performed by good men
in this life, as in Psal. xxx. 9. ‘When I go down to the pit, shall the
dust praise thee, shall it declare thy truth?’ and, ‘The dead praise not
the Lord; neither any that go down into silence,’ Psal. cxv. 17. and
what Hezekiah says to the same purpose, ‘The grave cannot praise thee;
death cannot celebrate thee; they that go down to the pit cannot hope
for thy truth,’ Isa. xxxviii. 18. These and such-like expressions intend
nothing else but this; that the praises of God cannot be celebrated by
those who are in the state of the dead, in such a way as they were by
them while they lived in this world, _viz._ in the assemblies of his
saints, from which they are separated, being no longer considered as
members of the militant church; neither are they apprized of, or
affected with the things done in this lower world, in which respect they
are said to know nothing: But this does not in the least, militate
against their praising God with the church triumphant, and having those
privileges conferred upon them, which are adapted to a state of
immortality and eternal life.

As to what is farther objected by others, that the immortality of the
soul respects only the righteous; because the apostle says in 1 John ii.
17. ‘The world passes away, and the lust thereof, but he that doth the
will of God abideth for ever.’ This sense given of the words contradicts
all those scriptures that speak of the punishment of sin in another
world; for if none are said to _abide for ever_, but the righteous, or
they who do the will of God; the wicked must necessarily go unpunished.
Therefore we must understand the word _abiding_ in the same sense as the
Psalmist does, when he says, ‘The ungodly shall not stand in the
judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous,’ Psal. i. 5.
which does not signify their not existing in a future state, but not
being admitted into the congregation of the righteous, or made happy
with them therein.[143]

II. We shall consider the happiness that the members of the invisible
church enjoy; which is called communion with Christ in glory, as it
includes in it perfect holiness; accordingly we read of _the spirits of
just men made perfect_, Heb. xii. 23. This perfection consists in the
rooting out all those remainders of corruption, and those habitual
inclinations to sin, that they were never wholly freed from in this
world. The most that can be said concerning a believer at present, is,
that he has a principle of spiritual life and grace, which inclines him
to oppose, and stand his ground against, the assaults of sin that
dwelleth in him, whereby it is mortified, but not wholly destroyed. The
work of sanctification is daily growing to perfection, though it does
not fully attain to it: But when the soul leaves the world, it arrives
to perfection in a moment; so that the power which man had at first, to
yield sinless obedience, which was lost by the fall of our first
parents, is regained with great advantage. For this perfection of
holiness not only denotes a sinless state, but the soul’s being
confirmed therein; and accordingly it is said to be received into the
highest heaven, the place into which no unclean thing can enter; where
there is spotless purity, as well as everlasting happiness; and here
they are described as beholding the face of God in light and glory.
These things need not be particularly insisted on in this place, since
the same privileges are said, in a following answer, to belong to
believers after the day of judgment, both in their souls and bodies,
when they shall be received into heaven, and be made perfectly holy and
happy, and be blest with the immediate vision of God[144]; Therefore all
that we shall consider at present, with relation hereunto, is,

1. That the soul is immediately made partaker of this blessedness on its
separation from the body.

2. It is farther described as waiting for the full redemption of the
body, which is still supposed to continue under the dominion of death,
though united to Christ, and consequently under his special protection:
Upon which account believers are said, when they die, to rest in their
graves as in their beds, till their bodies are again united to their
souls at the last day.

1. We shall consider that the soul is made partaker of this blessedness
immediately after its separation from the body, as it is observed in
this answer; which seems to militate against three opinions that have
been advanced relating to the state of separate souls.

[1.] That of the Papists, who maintain that the soul is not made perfect
in holiness at death, but enters into a middle-state, which they call
purgatory, in which it is to endure exquisite torments, designed partly
as a punishment inflicted for those sins committed in this life, which
have not been expiated by satisfaction made by them, and partly to free
them from the sin which they brought with them into that state.

[2.] Another opinion which seems to be opposed in this answer, is what
was maintained by some of the ancient Fathers; namely, that the souls of
believers do not immediately enter into the highest heaven before they
are reunited to their bodies, but into paradise; not to suffer, as the
Papists pretend that they do who are in purgatory; but to enjoy those
pleasures which are reserved for them in a place not much inferior to

[3.] There is another opinion which is subversive of the doctrine
contained in this answer; namely, that the soul, at its separation from
the body, sleeps till the resurrection; and consequently, in that
intermediate space of time in which it is separate, it is no more
capable of happiness or misery than the body that lies in the grave. The
absurdity of these opinions we shall take occasion farther to consider.

[1.] That of the Papists concerning a middle-state, into which they
suppose, souls enter at death, in order to their being cleansed from the
remainders of sin, whereby they are made meet for heaven. This doctrine,
how ludicrous and ungrounded soever it may appear to be, they are so
fond of, that it will be as hard a matter to convince them of the
absurdity thereof, as it was of old to convince the worshippers of Diana
at Ephesus, of their stupid idolatry; because it tends to promote their
secular interest. They first endeavour to persuade the poor deluded
people, that they must suffer very great torments after death, unless
they be relieved by the prayers of their surviving friends; and then, to
induce them to shew this favour to them, as well as that they may merit
some abatement of these torments or a speedy release from them, they
tell them, that it is their duty and interest to leave their estates, by
their last will and testament to pious uses; such as building of
churches, endowing of monasteries, &c. by which means they have got a
great part of the estates of the people into their own hands. And to
carry on this cheat, they give particular instances, in some of their
writings, of souls being released from this dreadful place by their

The account they give of this middle-state, between heaven and hell, is
not only that they are not admitted into the immediate presence of God;
but are exposed to grievous torments by fire, little short of those that
are endured in hell; and if they are not helped by the prayers of the
church, they are in danger of being sent from thence directly to hell,
from whence there is no release. They also add, that the punishment, in
this state, is either longer or shorter, in proportion to the crimes
committed in this world; for which satisfaction has not been made by
penances endured, or money given to compensate for them. Some, indeed,
are allowed, by them, to pass immediately into heaven, without being
detained here; namely, those who have performed works of supererogation;
or if by their entering into a vow of poverty, they have parted with
their estates, while living in the world, for the use of the church, in
which case no end could be answered, by telling them of this fable of
purgatory. Others are told that they may escape it, by entering into a
vow of chastity and canonical obedience; which belongs more especially
to the priests, when entering into holy orders; whereby they take care
to make provision for themselves, that so the deluded people may have a
greater regard to their prayers, since they will find none in purgatory
to perform that service for them. This is so vile and absurd an opinion,
that it cannot but expose the church of Rome to the scorn and contempt
of all who are not given up to strong delusions.

But though it sufficiently appears, that secular interest is the main
foundation of this doctrine; yet there are some arguments, which they
take from scripture, to support it; which is the only thing that
requires our notice.

One scripture brought to this purpose, is in Isa. iv. 4. where the
prophet speaks concerning the _Lord’s purging the blood of Jerusalem
from the midst thereof, by the spirit of judgment, and by the spirit of
burning_; supposing that this should have its accomplishment when the
soul left the body, and was detained in this place of torment. But this
is very remote from the design of the Holy Ghost herein; for it only
contains a metaphorical description of some judgments which God would
inflict on people in this life, and as a means to reclaim them from
them: therefore we often read, in the prophets, of God’s refining his
people _in the furnace of affliction_, Isa. xlviii. 10. and accordingly
it is said, that _the Lord’s fire is in Zion, and his furnace in
Jerusalem_, chap. xxxi. 9. denoting the sore judgments they should
undergo in this world, as a punishment for their idolatry.

Another scripture, which is miserably perverted, to support this
doctrine, is that in Zech. ix. 11. _By the blood of thy covenant have I
sent forth thy prisoners, out of the pit wherein is no water_; which
they suppose, is to be understood of some state after this life; because
it is called _the pit_; and it is also described as a place of misery,
inasmuch as there is no water, that is, no refreshing comforts; and they
add, that the prophet does not speak of hell because some persons are
described as _sent forth_, or released from it; therefore it must needs
be understood of this middle-state, between heaven and hell. But this is
far from being the sense of the text, since it contains a prediction of
their being delivered from the Babylonish captivity, which, in a
metaphorical way of speaking, is called _the pit, wherein is no water_,
to denote the great distress that the people were to be brought under
therein; thus the prophet Isaiah, speaking of their deliverance from the
captivity, says, _The captive exile hasteneth that he may be loosed, and
that he should not die in the pit_, Isa. li. 14. Or else it denotes some
future deliverance, which the church was to expect after great
calamities undergone by them; and this is said to be _by the blood of
the covenant_, denoting that all the happiness the church shall enjoy in
this world, as well as the other is founded in the blood of Christ,
pursuant to the covenant of grace: and if the text must necessarily be
understood of a deliverance from evil after death, it may be considered
as a prediction of our being delivered from eternal destruction, by the
blood of Jesus.

Again, another scripture which they bring to support this fabulous
doctrine, is in 1 Cor. iii. 13, 14, 15. _Every man’s work shall be made
manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by
fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work, of what sort it is, If
any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a
reward. If any man’s work shall be burnt, he shall suffer loss; but he
himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire_. The reason why this
scripture is forced into that cause which they maintain, is, because we
read of persons being _saved so as by fire_; and this they suppose to
respect that which should follow after the particular judgment of every
one at death in which, a scrutiny shall be made concerning their works,
or their behaviour in this world; and if they are found faulty, they
may, notwithstanding, be saved after they have endured those sufferings
which are there allotted for them.

But there is nothing in the text that gives the least countenance to
this notion, since the apostle seems to be speaking concerning those
ministers who preach false doctrines, that is, propagate errors not
directly subversive of the fundamental articles of faith, but such as
tend to embarrass the consciences of men, and, in many respects, lead
them out of the way; or of others, who have been perverted by them, and
have embraced pernicious errors, which, in their consequences, are
subversive of the faith, but yet do not hold those consequences: these
may be saved, but their salvation shall be attended with some
difficulty, arising from the mistaken notions which they have imbibed.
Some compare this to a person whose house is in flames, and he saves his
life with difficulty, being scorched thereby. God will, in his own time,
take some method to discover what notions we have received in religion;
and he is said to do it by fire. Whether this, as a learned writer
observes, is to be understood of the clear gospel-dispensation,[145] or
else respects some trying dispensation of providence, accompanied with a
greater measure of the effusion of the Spirit, that shall lead men into
the knowledge of their mistakes, and set them in the right way, I will
not determine. But whether the one or the other of these senses of the
texts seems most agreeable to the mind of the apostle, it is
sufficiently evident that no countenance is given, either in this or any
other scripture, to this absurd doctrine of the Papists.

Another scripture which they bring for the proof of this doctrine, is in
1 Pet. iii. 19. in which it is said, that our Saviour _went and preached
unto the spirits in prison_. The sense they give of that text, compared
with the foregoing verse, is, that as our Saviour, after his death,
visited those repositories, where the Old Testament-saints were lodged,
and preached the gospel to them, which they embraced; and pursuant
hereupon, were admitted into heaven: so he went down into this
subterraneous prison, and preached to them also; but whether this was
attended with the same success, or no, they pretend not to determine;
but only allege this as a proof that there is such a place: and to give
countenance to this sense they say, that by the prison here spoken of,
the prison of hell cannot be intended; inasmuch as there is no hope of
salvation there, and consequently no preaching of the gospel. And it
cannot be meant of his preaching to any in this world; for they suppose,
that he went after he left the world, and _preached to spirits_, that
is, to persons, whose souls were separate from their bodies; therefore
he went, as they argue, and preached to those that are in purgatory: but
in giving this sense of the text, they are obliged to take no notice of
what follows, which, if duly considered, would plainly overthrow it.

The meaning of this scripture therefore is this, that our Saviour
preached by his Spirit, to the old world, in the ministry of Noah, while
he was preparing the ark; but they being disobedient, were not only
destroyed by the flood, but shut up in the prison of hell; in which
respect it is said he preached to those that are now in prison: so that
this scripture makes nothing for that doctrine which we are opposing;
nor any other that is or can be brought; so that all the arguments
pretended to be taken from it, are a manifest perversion thereof.

However, there is one method of reasoning which they make use of, that I
cannot pass over; inasmuch as they apprehend that it contains a
_dilemma_ that is unanswerable; namely, that there is some place in
which persons are perfectly freed from sin, which must be either this
world, or heaven, or some middle state between them both. It is allowed
by all, that there is no perfect freedom from sin in this world; and to
suppose that persons are perfectly freed from sin after they come to
heaven, is to conclude that that is a state of probation, in which the
gospel must be preached, and persons that attend upon it, inclined to
embrace it, which is not agreeable to a state of perfection: and this is
contrary to scripture, which speaks of no unclean thing entering
therein. Therefore it follows, that the state in which they are fitted
for it, must be this which they plead for, to wit, a middle-state, in
which they are first purged, and then received into heaven.

But to this it may be replied, that it is true, believers are not
perfectly freed from sin in this world, nor do they enter into heaven,
either with the guilt or pollution of their sins upon them; but they are
made perfect in an instant, in passing out of this world into heaven:
the same stroke which separates the soul from the body takes away the
remainders of corruption, and fits it for the heavenly state; it passes
out of this world perfect, though it was imperfect while in it; in like
manner as the body being raised out of the grave is rendered
incorruptible thereby, so that we have no occasion to invent a middle
state, into which the saints are brought. Therefore it follows, as it is
expressed in this answer, that the souls of believers, immediately after
death, are made perfect in holiness.

[2.] There is another opinion embraced by some of the Jews, and several
of the Fathers, in which they are followed by some modern writers;
namely, that the souls of believers, at death, enter into paradise,
where they continue till they are reunited to their bodies, and, after
the day of judgment, are received into the highest heaven: thus they
understand our Saviour’s words to the penitent thief on the cross, _To
day thou shalt be with me in paradise_, in a literal sense, as
contra-distinguished from heaven. And these assert, that the soul of our
Saviour, when separate from his body, went immediately into paradise,
and not into heaven, till after his resurrection. This is supposed to
import the same thing as _Abraham’s bosom_ does in the parable; and
indeed, the Greek word,[146] in the metaphorical sense thereof, which we
translate _bosom_, signifies a port or haven; which is, as it were, a
bosom for shipping.

This is described as very distinct from the Popish doctrine of
purgatory; for it is not a place of suffering, but of delight and
pleasure. Tertullian, who gave into this notion,[147] describes it as a
place of divine pleasure, designed for the reception of the spirits of
holy men, being separate either from the world, or other places near it,
by an inclosure of fire, designed to keep the wicked out.

This is what they suppose the apostle Paul speaks of when he says, that
he was _caught up into paradise_, 2 Cor. xii. 5. and they conclude that
this vision or rapture which he mentions, includes in it what he
experienced at two several times; and that this is agreeable to what he
mentions in verse 1. where he speaks not of one single vision, but of
_visions_ and _revelations_. Accordingly they suppose that he had first
of all a vision of the glory of heaven, and then he had another of
paradise: thus a late writer understands the text.[148] However, I
cannot think that this can be sufficiently inferred from the apostle’s
words, which are, as it were, a preface to introduce the account which
he gives of himself, when he says, _I will come to visions and
revelations_; that is, I will now tell you how God sometimes favours his
people with extraordinary visions and revelations: then he proceeds to
give an instance hereof in himself, as being _caught up into the third
heaven_, or into paradise; for I cannot suppose that he speaks of two
visions, or distinguishes paradise from heaven; and therefore I am
obliged not to pay that deference to the sentiments of the Fathers he
mentions, as he does, but must conclude the notion to be altogether
ungrounded, though it is supported by the credit of Irenæus, Tertullian,
Epiphanius, Methodius, as well as of several Jewish writers; such as
Philo, and some others,[149]

[3.] We shall now consider another doctrine, maintained by some, which
is inconsistent with what is said in this answer, concerning the souls
of believers being made perfect in holiness, and entering immediately
into heaven, when separate from their bodies, _viz._ that at death the
soul sleeps as well as the body, till the resurrection, when one shall
be raised, and the other awakened out of its sleep. These do not suppose
that the soul ceases to exist; but that it enters into, and continues
in, a state of inactivity, without any power to exercise the faculty of
thinking, and, as a consequence thereof, whilst remaining in this state,
it must be incapable either of happiness or misery. These do not assert
that there shall be no rewards and punishments in a future state; but
that there will be a deferring thereof until the last day.

This doctrine was generally maintained by the Socinians, as may be seen
in several of their writings referred to by a learned author, who
opposes them;[150] and the arguments by which it is usually supported,
are taken partly from the possibility of the soul’s being destitute of
thought, and partly from those scriptures that compare death to a sleep;
by which they understand not only a cessation of action in the body, but
likewise in the soul. In defence of the former of these, _viz._ that it
is possible for the soul to be without the exercise of thought, they
argue, that the soul of a new-born infant, (or, at least, before it is
born,) has no ideas: though there be a power of reasoning, which is
essential, to the soul; yet this is not deduced into act, so as to
produce thought, or actual reasoning, from whence moral good or evil
would proceed, and a sense of happiness or misery, arise from it. And
this notion is carried somewhat farther by a late celebrated
writer;[151] who, though he takes no notice of the tendency of his
assertion to support this opinion concerning the soul’s sleeping at
death; yet others make a handle of it, to defend it with a greater shew
of reason than what was formerly discovered in maintaining this

He asserts, that the souls of those that are adult do not always think;
and particularly when a person is in a sound sleep, that he has no
thought; how much soever there may be the exercise of thought, though
confused and irregular, in those who, between sleeping and waking, not
only dream a thousand things which they never thought of before, but
also remember those dreams when they awake. That a person, in a sound
sleep, has no dreams, and consequently is destitute of thought, he
attempts to prove; inasmuch as when any one is suddenly waked out of a
sound sleep, he can give no account of what he had been thinking of; and
he supposes it impossible for a person who was thinking, to forget the
next moment what his thoughts were conversant about. This is the
principal argument whereby he supports this notion; and he has so far
the advantage thereof, as that it is impossible for us to prove the
contrary from any thing that we know or experience concerning ourselves:
Nevertheless, it will not appear very convincing, when we consider that
there are innumerable thoughts which we have when awake, that we can
hardly give an account of the next minute: And if the thoughts are very
active in those that dream, (who are as much asleep as others that do
not dream; though the sleep may not be so refreshing as if it were
otherwise,) I cannot see how this consequence can be inferred, that
sleep is inconsistent with thought. Moreover, a person who is delirious,
or distracted, undoubtedly thinks, though his thoughts are disordered;
but when the _delirium_ or distraction is over, he can no more remember
what he thought of, than a person that is waked out of the soundest
sleep: This argument therefore tends rather to amuse, or embarrass the
cause they maintain, than to give sufficient conviction.

Now from this method of reasoning it is inferred, that when the soul is
separated from the body, it is altogether destitute of the exercise of
thought, which is what they mean by the soul’s sleeping: And to give
farther countenance to this matter, they produce several scriptures, in
which death is compared to a sleep; as when God speaks of the death of
Moses, he says, _Behold, thou shalt sleep with thy fathers_, Deut. xxxi.
26. and Job speaks of _sleeping in the dust_, Job vii. 21. And
concerning the resurrection after death, he says, _That man lieth down
and riseth not, till the heavens be no more, they shall not awake nor be
raised out of their sleep_, chap. xiv. 12. and David prays, _Lighten
mine eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death_, Psal. xiii. 3. and our
Saviour, speaking concerning Lazarus, when dead, says, _Our friend
Lazarus sleepeth; but I go that I may awake him out of sleep_, John xi.
11. which he afterwards explains, ver. 14. when he says, _Lazarus is
dead_. There are several other scriptures to the like purpose, they
bring to prove that the soul sleeps in death, taking the word in the
literal sense thereof.

But to this it may be replied, that as to what respects the possibility
of the soul’s being rendered incapable of thinking, when separate from
the body; it is no just way of reasoning to infer from the possibility
of a thing, the actual being of it: Therefore if it could be proved to a
demonstration, (as the author above-mentioned supposes he has done,
though, I think, without sufficient ground,) that sleep deprives a
person of thought; yet it will not follow from hence, that the soul,
when separate from the body, ceases to think. When the powers and
faculties of the soul are deduced into act, experience tells us, that
they are greatly improved and strengthened; and therefore the exercise
thereof cannot be so easily impeded as is pretended; especially when we
consider that it does not derive this from the body, which contributes
very little to those ideas it has of things immaterial, which are not
the objects of sense; and how much soever bodily diseases may weaken or
interrupt the soul in its actings, we do not find that they so far
destroy those powers, but that, when the distemper ceases, the former
actings return, like the spring of a watch, which may be stopped by
something that hinders the motion of the wheels, which, when it is
removed, continues to give motion to them as it had done before: The
body, at most, can be considered but as a clog and impediment to the
activity of the soul; and consequently it may be argued from thence,
that in a state of separation the soul is so far from being impeded in
its actings, that it becomes more active than before.

But that which I would principally insist on, as what will sufficiently
overthrow this doctrine, is, the account which we have in many
scriptures; and several just consequences which may be deduced from
them, by which it will appear, that nothing that has been said
concerning the possibility of the soul’s being unactive, when separate
from the body, can enervate the force of the argument taken from thence
to support the contrary doctrine. It is true, the scripture oftentimes
represents death as a _sleep_, as in the places before-mentioned; and it
is sometimes described as a state of rest, which is of the same import
with sleep; but this is explained as a state of peace, holiness, and
happiness, and not a cessation from action. Thus it is said, _He shall
enter into peace, they shall rest in their beds, each one walking in his
uprightness_, Isa. lvii. 2. which is plainly meant of the death of the
righteous, as appears from the preceding verse, where it is said, _The
righteous perisheth, and no man layeth it to heart_. Now these are said
to _enter into peace_; which supposes that they are capable of the
enjoyment of those blessings which the soul shall then be possessed of,
and they are said to _walk in their uprightness_; which signifies their
being active in what respects the glory of God, which is very
inconsistent with the soul’s sleeping, when separate from the body. Rest
and sleep are metaphorical expressions, when applied to this doctrine;
and nothing is more common than for such figurative ways of speaking to
be used in the sacred writings; and therefore it is very absurd for us
to understand the words otherwise in this instance before us.

We will now proceed to consider those proofs we have from scripture, of
the soul’s being in a state of activity when separate from the body.

The first scripture that may be brought to prove this, is what the
apostle says in 2 Cor. xii. 2, 3, 4. when speaking concerning himself as
_caught up into the third heaven_; and not knowing whether he was at the
same time, _in, or out of the body_. If he was in the body, his senses
were locked up, and he must be supposed to have been in a trance; which
militates against the supposition that the soul’s power of acting may be
impeded either by sleep or some bodily disease, in which there is not
the exercise of the senses. Or if, on the other hand, he was _out of the
body_, his _hearing unspeakable words_ plainly proves our argument,
_viz._ that the soul is capable of action, and consequently of enjoying
the heavenly glory, when separate from the body.

Moreover, this is evident from our Saviour’s words to the penitent thief
on the cross, _Verily I say unto thee, to day shalt thou be with me in
paradise_, Luke xxiii. 43. To _be in paradise_ is certainly to be in
heaven in a state of compleat blessedness, where the soul delights
itself in the enjoyment of God, which is altogether inconsistent with a
state of insensibility. Were it otherwise, it ought rather to have been
said, thou shalt be with me in paradise after the resurrection of the
body, than to day. The method which some take to evade the force of the
argument, who say, that _to day_, refers not to the time of his being
admitted into heaven, but to the time when Christ spake these words, is
so low and trifling, that it doth not deserve an answer.

There is another scripture which fully proves this doctrine, namely,
what the apostle says, _I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to
depart and to be with Christ, which is far better_, Phil. i. 23. In
which he takes it for granted, that as soon as he departed out of this
world, he should be with Christ; which denotes that he should be in his
immediate presence, beholding his glory; which is inconsistent with the
supposition that the soul sleeps at death. And this is farther evident
from what he says, that this is _far better_, which could not be said to
be, if the notion we are opposing were true; for it is so much better
for a saint to be serving Christ’s interest in this world, and made so
eminently useful in promoting his glory, as the apostle was, than to be
in a state of inactivity, wherein the soul is not capable of doing any
thing for him, nor enjoying any thing from him, that there is no
comparison between them; and whereas he was _in a strait_ which of these
two he should chuse, had it been referred to him, the matter might
easily have been determined in favour of his continuing in this world;
for there he was useful; whereas, in the other, he would not only be
useless, but incapable of enjoying those privileges which he was made
partaker of here.

My next argument shall be taken from what is said in 2 Cor. v. 8. _We
are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and
to be present with the Lord_; where one infers the other, without any
intimation of his waiting till the soul is united again to the body,
before he is admitted into Christ’s presence.

Again, this farther appears from the words of Solomon, in Eccl. iv. 2.
_I praised the dead which are already dead, more than the living which
are yet alive._ By which we are to understand, that the state of
believers, when they die, is much more happy than it can be in this
life; which supposes that they are capable of happiness, and
consequently that the soul, when separated from the body, is not in a
state of insensibility; which is altogether inconsistent with happiness.

And to all this we may add what our Saviour says in the parable of the
rich man and Lazarus; the _beggar died, and was carried by angels into
Abraham’s bosom: The rich man also died and was buried, and in hell he
lifted up his eyes, being in torments_, Luke xvi. 22, 23. In which
parable we have an account of the different state of the souls of the
righteous and wicked at death, and not barely what shall follow upon the
resurrection of the body; for when the rich man is represented as being
in torments, he says, in a following part of the parable, _I have five
brethren_; and he would have _had Lazarus sent to testify to them, lest
they should also come into that place of torment_; to which it is
replied, _They have Moses and the prophets, let them hear them_, ver.
28, 29. which plainly intimates, that the parable refers to the state of
separate souls, before the resurrection, whilst others enjoyed the means
of grace; and consequently it proves that the soul, when separate from
the body, is capable of happiness or misery; and which is more, is fixed
in one or the other of them.

As to those scriptures that speak of the happiness or misery of men, as
deferred to the end of the world. It is intimated in the parable of the
tares, that _the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from the
just_, Mat. xiii. 9. and the former are said to be _cast into a furnace
of fire_, ver. 49, 50. and the latter, _viz._ the righteous, to _shine
forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father_, ver. 43. which
respects the dealings of God with man, in the end of time. Moreover our
Saviour speaks of his people as _blessed and recompensed at the
resurrection of the just_, Luke xiv. 14. And the apostle Paul expresses
his hope of a _crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous
Judge, should give him at that day_, 2 Tim. iv. 8. that is, the day of
his coming to judgment; and several other scriptures that speak of what
is consequent to the resurrection. To this it may be replied, that these
scriptures respect not the beginning, but consummation of the happiness
of the saints, or their compleat blessedness in soul and body, which is
not inconsistent with the happiness that separate souls enjoy before the
resurrection. Nor is the misery that is consequent upon the
resurrection, inconsistent with that which sinners endure before it,
when their souls are separate from their bodies. Thus concerning the
happiness of the souls of believers at death; which leads us to

2. What is farther observed in this answer, concerning the soul’s
waiting for the full redemption of the body; which though it continues
under the dominion of death, is notwithstanding united to Christ; and
accordingly believers are said to rest in their graves as in their beds,
till the resurrection.

The souls of believers are described as waiting for the full redemption
of their bodies; which is the same expression that the apostle uses,
Rom. viii. 23. where redemption denotes a full discharge from that
prison, or state of confinement in the grave; in which the body was
rendered incapable of answering the end for which it was redeemed by
Christ, and, at the same time, the soul was destitute of that happiness
which its re-union therewith shall convey to it. Its enjoyments were all
spiritual, and, in their kind perfect; but yet it was naked, or, as the
apostle expresses it unclothed; inasmuch as it wanted that which was
designed to be a constituent part, necessary to compleat the human
nature; without which it was indisposed for those actions and enjoyments
which arise from its union with the body. This it is said to wait for,
as a desire of re-union therewith is natural to it. Nevertheless it
waits without impatience, or any diminution of its intellectual

(2.) As to what respects the bodies of believers, they are said to
continue united to Christ, which is the result of their being redeemed
by him, and of his condescending to dwell in them by his Spirit.
Accordingly his love extends itself to their lower part, as well as to
their souls; and, as the apostle says, _Nothing shall separate_ a
believer _from his love_, no, _not death itself_, ver. 38, 39. upon
which account they are said to _sleep in Jesus_, 1 Thes. iv. 14. or to
_die in the Lord_, Rev. xiv. 14. They are indeed buried in the grave,
and seem to lie neglected like common dust: nevertheless it is said,
_Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints_, Psal.
cxvi. 15. Christ reckons every particle of their dust among _his
jewels_, Mal. iii. 17. and is no more ashamed to own them as his
peculiar care, than he was when they were in their most flourishing
state in this world; and for this reason they are also said to rest in
their graves as in their beds. This is a scripture-expression, as the
Psalmist says, _My flesh shall rest in hope_, Psal. xvi. 9. and the
prophet Isaiah, _He shall enter into peace, they shall rest in their
beds_, Isa. lvii. 2. The body, indeed, remains, at the same time, under
the external part of the curse due to man for sin; yet it is freed from
that which is the most bitter ingredient therein; which will be
abundantly demonstrated when death shall be compleatly swallowed up in
victory. In this the bodies of believers have the advantage of all
others. The frame of nature indeed is dissolved; there is no visible
mark of distinction from the wicked put upon them in the grave; yet
there is a vast difference in God’s account, which one elegantly
compares to the removing of the tabernacle in the wilderness: when the
Israelites changed their stations, all the parts thereof were carefully
taken down and delivered to the Levites’ charge, in order to its being
raised again with honour; whereas, the house incurably infected with the
leprosy, was plucked down with violence, and thrown into an unclean
place with execration. The bodies of the saints are committed to the
bosom of the earth, as the repository Christ has appointed for them;
from whence he will call them forth at last, when their souls shall be
again united to them in the glorious morning of the resurrection. This
leads us to consider,

III. The misery which the souls of the wicked endure at death, which is
contained in the latter part of this answer.

We have here a different scene opened, the final estate of the wicked
described in words adapted to strike dread and terror into those who
have, at present, no sense of their future misery: their souls are
considered as cast into, or shut up in hell; their bodies imprisoned in
the grave, and both, the objects of divine wrath. We shall have
occasion, under a following answer,[152] farther to speak concerning the
punishment that shall be inflicted on sinners, whose torments shall be
inexpressible, both in body and soul, after the day of judgment: and
therefore we shall, at present, consider the misery which the souls of
the wicked shall undergo before they are united to their bodies. The
soul, which carries out of the world with it the power of reflecting on
itself as happy or miserable, immediately sees itself separate from the
comfortable presence of God, the fountain of blessedness. And that which
tends to enhance its misery beyond what it is capable of in this life,
will be the enlargement of its faculties; as the apprehension shall be
more clear and its sensation of the wrath of God more pungent; when it
is not oppressed with that drowsiness and stupidity as it was before;
nor will it be possible for it to delude itself, with those vain hopes,
which it once conceived, of escaping that misery, which it is now
plunged into; when all the waves and billows of the Almighty shall
overwhelm and swallow it up. The soul is, in a peculiar manner, the
subject of misery, as it is made uneasy by its own thoughts; which are
compared to the worm that dieth not. While it looks backwards, and calls
to mind the actions of his past life, and all his sins are charged upon
him, this fills it with such a sense of guilt and confusion as is
inexpressibly tormenting; and when he looks forward, there is nothing
but what administers despair, which increases his misery to the highest
degree. These torments the soul endures before it is reunited to the
body, and thereby rendered receptive of others, which we generally call
the punishment of sense, that are conveyed by it.

The place of punishment is the same that is allotted for soul and body,
_viz._ hell; and this is called utter darkness; which is an expression
used to signify the greatest degree of misery. As for their bodies, they
dread the thoughts of being united to them again; inasmuch as that will
bring with it new accessions of torment. These are considered as liable
to a double dishonour; not only that which arises from their being in a
state of corruption in common with all mankind; but in their being
detained in the grave, as prisoners to the justice of God, from whence
they shall not be released as persons acquitted or discharged, but
remanded from that prison to another, from whence there is no
deliverance. But more of this under a following answer.

Footnote 125:

  _Vid. Senec. Epist. 117. Cum de animarum immortalitate loquimur, non
  leve momentum apud nos habet consensus hominum, aut timentium inferos,
  aut colentium. Utor hac persuasione publica. Et. Cic. Tusc. Quest.
  Lib. 1. permanere animos arbitramur consensu nationum omnium; qua in
  sede maneant, qualesque sint ratione discendum est._

Footnote 126:

  _In Phæd._

Footnote 127:

  _Vid. Alcin. de doct. Plat. Cap._ xxv. Αυτοκινητον δε φησι την ψυχην·
  οτι συμφυτου εχει τηυ ζωηυ, αει ενεργσσαν καθ αυτην.

Footnote 128:

  _Vid. Strab. Geog. Lib._ xv. Παραπλεκσι δε και μυθους, ωσπερ και
  πλατωγ περι τε αφθαρσιας ψυχης, και τωγ καθ᾽ αδη χρισεων, και αλλα
  τοιαυτα, περι μεγ τωγ βραχμαναν ταυτα λεγει.

Footnote 129:

  _Vid. Diog. Laert. in Vit. Thal._

Footnote 130:

  _Vid. Cic. Tusc. Quæst. Lib. 1._

Footnote 131:

  _Vid, Hom. Iliad. 23._ _lin. 65. & seq._

             Ήλθε δ᾽ επι ψυχη Πατροκληος δειλοιο,
             Παντ᾽ αυτω μεγεθος τε και ομματα καλ᾽ εικυια,
             Και φωνην. και τοια πρι χροι ειματα εστο.
             Στη δ᾽ αρ᾽ ὑπερ κεφαλης, και μεν προς μυθον ἑειπεν.

  _In which, after he had killed Hector, he addresses himself to his
  friend Patroclus, signifying that he had done this to revenge his
  death; upon which, the poet brings in Patroclus as appearing to him._

Footnote 132:

  _Vid. Odys. Lib._ xi. _lin. 575._ & seq. _in which he speaks of the
  punishment of Tityus and Tantalus. In this, as well as many other
  things, he is imitated by Virgil. See Æneid. Lib._ vi. _lin. 595_, &

Footnote 133:

  _See this argument managed with a great deal of learning and judgment
  by Mede, in his apostasy of the latter times, who proves that the gods
  whom the heathens worshipped, were the souls of men deifyed or
  cannonized after death, from many of their own writers, chap._ iv.
  _and Voss. de orig. &c. idol. Lib. 1. cap._ xi, xii, xiii. _who refers
  to Lanct. Lib. 1. de fals. Relig. cap._ v. _his words are these; Quos
  imperiti, & insipientes, tanquam Deos & nuncupant, & adorant, nemo est
  tam inconsideratus, qui non intelligat fuisse mortales. Quomodo ergo,
  inquiet aliquis, Dii crediti sunt? Nimirum quia reges maximi, ac
  potentissimi fuerunt, ob merita virtutum suarum, aut munerum, aut
  artium repertarum, cum chari fuissent iis, quibus imperitaverunt, in
  memoriam sunt consecrati. Quod si quis dubitet, res eorum gestas, &
  facta, consideret: quæ universa tum poetæ, tum historici veteres,
  prodiderunt. Et August. de Civ. Dei, Lib._ viii. _cap._ v. _Ipsi etium
  majorum gentium Dii, quos Cicero in Tusculanis, tacitis nominibus
  videtur attingere, Jupiter, Juno, Saturnus, Vulcanus, Vesta, & alii
  plurimi, quos Varro conatur ad mundi partes, sive elementa transferre
  homines fuisse produntur. Et Cic. Lib. 1. de nat. Deor. Quid, qui aut
  fortes, aut potentes viros tradunt post mortem ad Deos pervenisse;
  eosq; ipsos quos, nos colere, precari, venerariq; soleamus?_

Footnote 134:

  _Some have wondered how the Sadducees could deny angels, and yet
  receive the five books of Moses, in which there is so frequent mention
  of the appearance of angels; and it might as well be wondered how they
  could make any pretensions to religion, who denyed the immortality of
  the soul; but as to both these, it may be said concerning them, that
  they were the most irreligious part of the Jewish nation. To make them
  consistent with themselves, is past the skill of any who treat on this
  subject. Some suppose that they understand all those scriptures that
  speak concerning the appearance of angels, as importing nothing else
  but a bodily shape, appearing for a time, and conversing with those to
  whom it was sent, moved and actuated by the divine power, and then
  disappearing and vanishing into nothing._

Footnote 135:

  _In Phæd._

Footnote 136:

  _His words are these_; Κεβης δε μοι εδοξε τουτο μεν εμοι ξυν χωρειν,
  πολυχρονιωτερον γε ειναι Ψυχην σωματος᾽ αλλα τοδε αδηλον παντι, μη
  πολλα δη σωματα και πολλακις κατατριψασα η ψυχη, το τελευταιον, σωμα
  καταλεπουσα νυν αυτη απολλυνται και η αυτο τουτο θανατος, ψυχης
  ολεθρος επει σωμα γ εξει απολλυμενον ουδεν παυεται.

Footnote 137:

  Ὁποιεροι δε ημων ερχονται επι αμεινον πραγμα, αδηλον παντι πλην η τω

Footnote 138:

  _Vid. ejusd. moral. Lib._ iii. _cap._ ix.

Footnote 139:

  _Vid. Diog. Laert. in Vit. Zen._ Την ψυχην μετα θανατον επιμενειν,
  φθαρτον δε ειναι; _upon which occasion Cicero says, That though they
  assert that they shall continue a great while in being, yet they deny
  that they shall exist for ever. Vid. ejusd. in Tusc. Quæst. Lib. 1.
  Stoici usuram nobis largiuntur, tanquam cornicibus; diu mansuros
  animos ajunt; semper negant._

Footnote 140:

  _Et ibid. Ea quæ vis, ut potero, explicabo, nec tamen quasi Pythius
  Apollo certa ut sint, & fixa quæ dixero, sed ut homunculus unus e
  multis, probabilia conjectura sequens; ultra enim quo progrediar quam
  ut verisimilia videam, non habeo; which Lactantius observes, speaking
  of him as in doubt about it. Vid. Lactant. de Vit. Beat. Lib._ vii. _§
  8. And elsewhere he says, in Lib. de Amicitia. Sin autem illa vetiora,
  ut idem interitus sit animorum, & corporum, nec ullus sensus maneat:
  Ut nihil boni est in morte, sic certe nihil est mali; & in Lib. de
  Senect. Quod si in hoc erro, quod animos hominum immortales esse
  credam, libenter erro: Nec mihi hunc errorem, quo delector, dum vivo,
  extorqueri volo. Sin mortuus, ut quidam minuti philosophi censent,
  nihil sentiam; non vereor, ne hunc errorem meum philosophi minuti
  irrideant: Quod si non sumus immortales futuri, tamen extingui hominem
  suo tempore, optabile est._

Footnote 141:

  _Epist. 102. Credebam opinionibus magnorum virorum rem gratissimam
  promittentium, magis quam probantium._

Footnote 142:

  _See Quest._ lxxxviii, lxxxix.

Footnote 143:

  The doctrines of the immortality of the soul, and of the resurrection
  of the body equally rest upon the will and word of God. But when
  viewed with the eye of natural reason, they have been deemed to
  possess very unequal grounds of probability. The properties of matter
  and of mind are so very different, they have been distinguished by
  almost all. If the mind be not matter, no argument for its
  extermination can be drawn from the dissolution of the body; and as
  its materiality has never been shown, no premises have been found from
  which its death can be inferred. Some wise men who had not the
  scriptures, have indeed withholden their belief; but the reason is
  discernible, they have demanded proofs which the God of nature has not
  vouchsafed; and their rejection of the preponderating evidence of
  probability, argues weakness and fastidiousness.

  The resurrection of the body has been held to be impossible. If so,
  the impossibility should either consist in the absolute incapacity in
  the dead body to be raised; but this it does not, for death can only
  reduce the body to its first element, and the dust which has been a
  body is not any more unfit to be reanimated, than it was to receive
  life in the first instance; or it must be owing to some detect of
  wisdom or power, or of both in him, who should raise the body; but God
  is unchangeable, and in all respects as able to raise him from the
  dead, as to create man at the first; and there is no contradiction
  implied in the thing, which should prevent the exertion of his power;
  a resurrection is therefore possible.

  The usual arguments for its probability drawn from analogy to the
  return of day, of spring, of vegetation, &c. are not conclusive. But
  those drawn from the resurrection of Christ, from the identity of man
  considered as a compound from the removal of moral evil, from which
  natural evils arise, from the earnest expectation of animal nature for
  a better condition, and from the perfection of the future state, seem
  to raise a presumption which is probable; yet these are not
  appreciated by the natural man; hence the world has so generally
  denied a resurrection of the body.

  The testimony of the Holy Spirit on both points has been always the
  same, but not with equal lustre.

  Jesus Christ explicitly affirmed both, and brought his proofs from the
  old testament, pressed them as motives of comfort or terror to saints
  and sinners, and so connected their truth with that of his own
  character, that every thing which proves the latter, is a proof of the
  former. Not only did his actually raising the dead, and arising
  himself, prove that the dead shall rise, but every prophecy
  accomplished in him, and every miracle wrought by him and his
  apostles, the continuance of his church, the purity of his system of
  doctrines, the doctrines of election, redemption, justification,
  regeneration and perseverance, as well as the express declarations on
  this subject, both in the old and new testament, all form a solid mass
  of evidence upon which the hopes of the Christian may firmly rest.

Footnote 144:

  _See Quest._ xc.

Footnote 145:

  _See Dr. Edward’s exercit. Part II. on 1 Cor._ iii. _15. who, to give
  countenance to this opinion, produces two scriptures, viz. Mark_ xiv.
  _54. and Luke_ xxii. _56. where the word_ φως, _is put for fire; from
  whence he supposes, that_ φως _and_ πυρ, _are used promiscuously_.

Footnote 146:

  Κολπος. Sinus, _a bosom, coast, or haven_.

Footnote 147:

  _Vid. Tertull. Apologet. Cap._ xlvii. _Et si paradisum nominemus,
  locum divinæ amænitatis recipiendis sanctorum spiritibus destinatum,
  materia quadem igneæ illius Zonæ segregatum._

Footnote 148:

  _See Whitby in loc._

Footnote 149:

  _See also his notes on Luke_ xxiii. 43.

Footnote 150:

  _Vid. Hoornbeck Socin. Confut. Tom. III. Lib._ v. _Cap. 1. who quotes
  some passages out of several Socinian writers, among whom I shall only
  mention what is said by two of them, with whom several others of their
  brethren agree herein. Vid. Socin. in Epist._ v. _ad Volkel. Tantum id
  mihi videtur statui posse, post hanc vitam, animam, sive animum
  hominis non ita per se subsistere ut præmia ulla pænasve sentiat; vel
  etiam ista sentiendi sit capax, quæ mea firma opinio facile potest
  colligi ex multis quæ a me dicuntur_, &c. _Et Smalc. in Exam. Error.
  Pag. 33. Animam vel spiritum hominis post mortum aliquid sentire, vel
  aliqua re perfrui, nec ratio permittit nec scriptura testatur: ut enim
  corpus sine anima, sic etiam anima sine corpore, nullus operationes
  exercere potest; & perinde sic ac si anima illorum nulla esset, etiamæ
  suo modo sit, quia scilicet nullius rei sensum habeat, aut per se
  voluptate aliqua fræ possit. And elsewhere the same author is so hardy
  as to term the contrary doctrine no other than a fable, in Lib. de Dei
  filio, Cap._ vi. _Pag. 43. Quod vern de vita animarum disserit, hoc
  instar fabulæ est_, &c. _Spiritum hominis ad Deum redire testatur
  sacra scriptura, at eum vivera vita, ut ait Smiglecius, spirituum, &
  vel aliquid intelligere, vel voluptate frui hoc extra, & contra
  scripturam dicitur._

Footnote 151:

  _See Locke’s Essay concerning human understanding, Lib._ ii. _Chap.
  1._ § ix. _to the_ xix.

Footnote 152:

  _Quest._ lxxxix.

                            Quest. LXXXVII.

    QUEST. LXXXVII. _What are we to believe concerning the

    ANSW. We are to believe, that at the last day there shall be a
    general resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust; when
    they that are then found alive, shall, in a moment, be changed; and
    the self-same bodies of the dead which were laid in the grave, being
    then again united to their souls for ever, shall be raised up by the
    power of Christ; the bodies of the just, by the Spirit of Christ,
    and by virtue of his resurrection, as their head, shall be raised in
    power, spiritual, incorruptible, and made like to his glorious body;
    and the bodies of the wicked shall be raised up in dishonour, by
    him, as an offended Judge.

In the foregoing answers, we have considered the soul and body as
separated by death, the body turned to corruption, and the soul
immediately entering into a state of happiness or misery; and are now
led to insist on the doctrine of the resurrection, when these two
constituent parts of man shall be reunited. And accordingly we shall

I. To explain what we are to understand by the resurrection of the dead.

II. We shall prove that there is nothing in this doctrine contrary to
reason, at least, if we consider it as a supernatural and divine work.

III. We shall farther observe, that this doctrine could not be known by
the light of nature; and therefore we believe it as founded in divine

IV. What arguments are contained in scripture for the proof thereof;
some of which might be taken from the Old Testament, and others from the
New, in which it is more clearly revealed.

V. We shall answer some of the most material objections brought against

VI. We shall consider it as universal, as it is here styled a general
resurrection of the dead, from the beginning of time to Christ’s second
coming; yet with this exception, that they who are found alive shall be
changed. And,

VII. The condition in which the body shall be raised; and those
circumstances of honour and glory, which respect, more especially, the
resurrection of the just. And, on the other hand, we shall consider the
resurrection of the wicked, as being in dishonour, by Christ, as an
offended Judge.

I. What are we to understand by the resurrection of the dead. We
sometimes find the word taken, in scripture, in a metaphorical sense,
for God’s doing those things for his church, which could not be brought
about any otherwise than by his extraordinary and supernatural power.
Sometimes the work of regeneration is set forth by this figurative way
of speaking; whereby they who are dead in trespasses and sins, are said
to be quickened; and our Saviour speaks of this when he says, _The hour
is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of
God; and they that hear shall live_, John v. 25. But we are to
understand it in a proper sense, as denoting that change which shall
pass upon the body, when it shall be delivered from the state of
corruption, into which it was brought at death, and reunited to the
soul; which is distinguished in a following verse, from this
metaphorical sense of it, when he says, _All that are in the graves
shall hear his voice, and shall come forth, they that have done good
unto the resurrection of life, and they that have done evil unto the
resurrection of damnation_, ver. 28. This includes in it not barely the
repairing, but the rebuilding the frame of nature; which was not only
decayed, but dissolved in death; or the gathering together those
particles of matter, of which the body was before constituted; which was
not only turned into corruption, but common dust; whereby a new body, as
to the form and qualities thereof, is erected out of its old materials;
otherwise it could not be called a resurrection. It is said, indeed,
that the body shall not, in all respects, be the same that it was when
separated from the soul; as the apostle compares to a _grain of wheat_
sown in the ground, which, when it springs up, is not altogether the
same as it was before; for _God giveth it a body,[153] as it hath
pleased him, and to every seed his own body_, 1 Cor. xv. 37, 38. It is
the same for substance, as it consists of the same materials, but very
different as to its qualities; as will be farther considered, when we
speak concerning the condition of the body when raised from the dead;
and as it is raised with a design that it should be re-united to the
soul, which will immediately follow upon it; and this union shall be
indissoluble and eternal.

II. We shall now consider that there is nothing contrary to reason, or
impossible, from the nature of the thing, which might have a tendency to
overthrow this doctrine; especially if we consider it as a supernatural
and divine work, brought about by the almighty power of God.

If we look no farther than the power of natural causes, we may conclude
it to be impossible for a creature to effect, as much as it was at first
to produce the body of man out of the dust of the ground; but this is
not impossible with God: He that gave life and being to all things; and,
by his sovereign will, puts a period to that life, which had been, for
some time continued by his power and providence, can give a new life to
it; especially if there be nothing in this work that renders it unmeet
for it to be performed by him.

That there is nothing in the nature of the thing that renders a
resurrection impossible, appears, in that death, though it be a
dissolution of the frame of nature, does not annihilate the body. If the
body, indeed, were annihilated at death, then it would be impossible, or
contrary to the nature of things, that there should be a resurrection
thereof; since the bringing it again into a state of existence would be
a new creation; which, though it would not be too great a work for
omnipotency, yet it could not be styled a resurrection, or restoring the
same body to life that was separated from the soul, to which it was once
united. But when we suppose that the matter of which the body consisted
is still in being, and nothing is necessary to the raising it from the
dead but the recollecting the various particles thereof, and forming it
again into a body, fitted to receive the soul: this is not in its own
nature impossible; nor does it infer a contradiction, so as that we
should argue from thence, that it cannot be brought about by divine

That this may more fully appear, let it be considered, that nothing
which God has brought into being, can be annihilated, but by an act of
his will; since nothing can defeat or disannul his providence, which
upholdeth all things that were brought into being by the word of his
power. It is also certain, that God has given us no ground to conclude
that any part of his material creation has been, or shall be turned into
nothing; from whence it follows, that the particles of all the bodies of
men, that once lived in this world, though turned to corruption or dust,
are as much in being as ever they were, though not in the same form.

Again, it is certain that God, who made and upholdeth all things, has a
perfect knowledge of that which is the object of his power, since his
understanding is infinite: therefore he knows where the scattered dust,
or the smallest particles of matter that once constituted the bodies of
men, are reserved: and when we speak of a resurrection from the dead, we
understand hereby the gathering them together, and disposing them in
such a way as that new bodies shall be framed out of them: therefore,
though this could not be done by any but God, it is not impossible, from
the nature of the thing, for him to do it; and that he will do it will
be considered, when we come more directly to the proof of this doctrine.
We shall therefore proceed,

III. To consider it as a matter of pure revelation, such as we could not
have known by the light of nature, without the assistance of
scripture-light. Something, indeed, might be known by reason concerning
the immortality of the soul, and its being not only capable of happiness
or misery in a future state, but dealt with therein according to its
behaviour in this world: nevertheless, when we enquire into that part,
which the body shall bear therein; whether it shall be raised and
reunited to the soul, to be for ever a partner with it in what respects
its state in another world, or shall remain for ever in a state of
corruption; this cannot be known by the light of nature.

There are, indeed, many things which we find in the writings of the
Heathen, that discover them to have had some notion of what bears a
resemblance to a resurrection: as when they speak concerning the
transmigration of souls, or their living in other bodies, when separated
from those which they formerly were united to. And others of them speak
concerning the general conflagration, and the restoration of all things,
immediately after, to their former state, as well as give some hints
which are contained in their writings, concerning particular persons
that have been raised from the dead, at least, pretended to have been
so. What we find of this nature therein, very much resembles the
fabulous account we have in the Popish legends of miracles, said to have
been wrought, though without proof: thus we are told of one Aristeas,
the Proconnesian, who had a power of expiring and returning to life at
pleasure, and relating what he had seen in a separate state.[154] The
same is reported of one Hermotimus of Clazomena.[155] But the most
famous story of this kind, is what is related by Plato,[156] and
transcribed from him by Eusebius,[157] concerning one Er, the son of
Armenius; who, after he was slain in battle, and had continued ten days
among other dead bodies, was brought home to his house; and two days
after, being laid on his funeral pile, came to life again: this Plato,
while he is relating it, calls little better than a fable.[158] And it
was treated by others with ridicule, how much soever believed by some
who regarded reports more than solid evidence of the truth thereof.

I might also mention others, who are said, by Heathen writers to have
been translated into heaven in their bodies and souls[159]: Which might
take its first rise from what they had received by tradition, concerning
the translation of Enoch and Elijah; as the stories of those that were
raised from the dead might be first invented by them with this view,
that their religion might have as great reputation as that of the Jews.

But notwithstanding these particular instances related by them, of some
translated, or others raised from the dead; there were very few of them
that believed the doctrine of the resurrection; and some treated it with
as much contempt as we do the before-mentioned account which they give
of particular persons raised from the dead[160]. This agrees very well
with what we read in scripture, concerning the treatment the apostle
Paul met with, when he encountered the Epicureans and Stoicks at Athens,
_preaching to them Jesus and the resurrection_, Acts xvii. 18. upon
which occasion they call him _babbler_; and insinuated that he seemed to
be _a setter forth of strange gods_. Oecumenius and Chrysostom think,
that they supposed he reckoned the _resurrection_ among the gods[161],
as well as _Jesus_, whose divinity he doubtless maintained; but whether
they were so stupid as thus to wrest his words, is not material. It is
no wonder to find the Epicureans treating this doctrine with ridicule;
for they, denying the immortality of the soul, could not entertain the
least idea of the resurrection of the body in any sense: Whereas the
Stoicks, though they did not own the doctrine of the resurrection, yet
they could not think it so strange a doctrine as some others might do;
since they held that the soul, after death, continued at least, as long
as the body; and they knew very well, that many of the philosophers
strenuously maintained the transmigration of souls; and, indeed, this
was held by many of them, as well as the Platonists and Pythagoreans;
and therefore the resurrection, though it differed from it, could not
seem so strange and unheard of a notion, as that they should reckon it
among the gods: However, it plainly appears from hence that this
doctrine could not be learned by the light of nature; whatever confused
ideas the Heathen might have entertained by tradition, concerning it.

Therefore it follows from hence, that we must look for a satisfactory
account hereof from scripture: Thus when the Sadducees put a stupid
question to our Saviour concerning the _woman_ that had _seven
husbands_, which successively _died_; and they would know whose _wife
she should be in the resurrection_; by which they designed to express
their opposition to this doctrine, rather than a desire of information
as to the question proposed: Our Saviour in his reply to them refers
them to the _scriptures_, Matt. xxii 29. as the fountain from whence a
clear and satisfactory knowledge of this doctrine is to be derived as
well as from the _power of God_. This divine perfection argues the
possibility thereof, the justice and goodness of God, its expediency;
but the scriptures, which contain a revelation of his will, represent it
as certain; and this leads us to consider some arguments that are
contained in, or deduced from scripture for the proof thereof; and here
we shall consider,

1. Those proofs which we have for it, taken from the Old Testament.
These I chuse first to insist on, because I am sensible there are many
who think, that the church knew nothing of it, till it was revealed, by
our Saviour, in the New Testament: This very much detracts from the
importance of the doctrine, as well as renders the state of those who
lived before Christ’s incarnation, very uncomfortable, since the saints,
according to this opinion, must have had no hope of a glorious
resurrection to eternal life. This notion is defended by many who extend
the darkness of the dispensation farther than what is convenient; and
among others, it is generally maintained by the Socinians, probably with
this design, that since according to them, our Saviour had little else
in view, in coming into the world, but to lead men into the knowledge of
some things which they were ignorant of before; this might be reckoned
one of those doctrines that he came to communicate. Thus Volkelius
denies that there were any promises of eternal life made to the church
under the Old Testament; and concludes that there was no one who had the
least surmise that any such doctrine was contained in those scriptures
which we commonly bring from thence to prove it[162]. And to give
countenance to this opinion, several quotations are often taken from
Jewish writers, since our Saviour’s time, who either speak doubtfully of
this matter, or give occasion to think that they did not understand
those scriptures which establish the doctrine of the resurrection in the
Old Testament, as having any reference to it.

Therefore it may not be amiss for us to enquire; what were the
sentiments of some of the Jews about this matter? Every one knows that
there was one _sect_ amongst them, namely, the Sadducees, who
distinguished themselves from others by denying it: And Josephus gives
the largest account of any one, concerning another _sect_, to wit, the
Essens, who affected to lead a recluse life, in their respective
colleges, and were governed by laws peculiar to themselves: Among other
things which he relates concerning their conduct and sentiments, he
says, that it was an opinion established among them, that the bodies of
men were corruptible, and the matter of which they were compounded, not
perpetual; though the soul remained for ever: And then he represents
them as speaking, according to the Pythagorean and Platonick way,
concerning the body’s being the prison of the soul, and its remaining
when released from it, and of the soul’s dwelling in a pleasant place,
and enjoying many things that tend to make it happy, &c.[163].
Nevertheless, his account of them is so short, and the expression on
which the whole stress of this supposition is founded, a little
ambiguous, namely, that the bodies of men are corruptible, and their
matter not perpetual, which may be understood as agreeing with the
common faith concerning man’s mortality, and the body’s turning to
corruption, and not remaining in the same state in which it was; that it
seems to leave the matter doubtful, whether they asserted or denied the
resurrection. It is also supposed, that Philo denied this doctrine from
several passages observed in his writings, which a late learned writer
takes notice of[164]; but this is only the opinion of a single person,
who, according to his general character, seems to be halting between two
opinions, to wit, the doctrine of Moses, and the philosophy of Plato;
and therefore I take his sentiments, about this, to be nothing else but
an affection of thinking or speaking agreeably to the Platonic
philosophy, which had probably given such a tincture to his notions,
that he might deny the resurrection. And if the Essens,
before-mentioned, should be allowed to have denied it, they received it
from their attachment to the same, or, at least, the Pythagorean
philosophy: But we cannot from hence conclude that the doctrine of the
resurrection was denied by the main body of the Jews, or the greatest
part of them; or by any, excepting those who were led out of the way, by
the writings of the philosophers: Which gave occasion to the apostle
Paul to warn the church to _beware of philosophy and vain deceit, after
the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after
Christ_, Col. ii. 8. as foreseeing that some of them, in after-ages,
would, in many respects, corrupt the doctrines of the gospel, by
accommodating them to, or explaining them by what they found in the
writings of the Heathen philosophers, as Origen, Justin Martyr, and some
others did; and he seems to take the hint from what had been before
observed relating to the corruption of the Jewish _faith_, by those who
were attached to them. Thus concerning the opinion of those Jews, who
are supposed to deny the doctrine of the resurrection.

On the other hand, there are several Rabbinical writers, who
sufficiently intimate their belief of this doctrine; though it is true,
some of them infer it from such premises, as discover great weakness in
their method of reasoning. Thus the learned bishop Pearson observes,
that they produce several places out of Moses’s writings, which when the
resurrection is believed, may, in some kind, serve to illustrate it, but
can, in no degree, be thought to reveal so great a mystery[165]. And Dr.
Lightfoot produces other proofs, which they bring for this doctrine, as
little to the purpose[166], of which all the use that can be made is,
that we may from hence observe, that they believed the doctrine we are
maintaining, to be contained in scripture. Whether they were able to
defend it by shewing the force of those arguments on which it is founded
therein or no, is not much to our present purpose, my design in
referring to their writings being to prove that this doctrine was
embraced by the Jews, in the ages before, as well as since our Saviour’s
time. It is true, the Talmud, and other writings, which are generally
quoted for the proof of it, are of later date, and the most ancient of
the Chaldee paraphrases now extant, is supposed to have been written
about that time, or, at least, but little before it: And there are no
uninspired writings, relating to the Jewish affairs, more ancient,
except those which we generally call Apocryphal; which most suppose to
have been written about 150 years before the Christian Æra. And it is
very evident, that about that time the doctrine of the resurrection was
believed by the Jewish church; as the author of the book of Maccabees,
in the history of the martyrdom of the seven brethren in the reign of
Antiochus[167], represents some of them in the agonies of death, as
expressing the firm belief they had of a resurrection to eternal life;
their mother, in the mean while, encouraging them from the same
consideration. These, as it is more than probable, the apostle includes
in the number of those noble Old Testament worthies who were _tortured,
not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better
resurrection_, Heb. xi. 35. which is an undeniable evidence that the
church at that time believed the doctrine of the resurrection.

All that I shall add under this head is, that how weak soever the
reasoning of some Jewish writers, concerning this subject, has been,
there are others who give substantial proofs from the Old Testament;
which not only argues that they believed it, but that their belief
proceeded from a just conviction of the truth thereof. And they give the
same sense of some of those scriptures which are generally produced for
the proof hereof, as we do[168].

The first scripture that we shall take notice of, is what contains the
_vision_ mentioned in Ezek. xxxvii. 1, _& seq._ concerning the _valley
which was full of bones_, which were _very dry_: Upon which occasion God
says, _Son of man, Can these bones live?_ to which he replies, _O Lord
God, thou knowest._ And afterwards we read of God’s _laying sinews, and
bringing up flesh upon them, covering them with skin, and putting breath
into them_; and their being hereupon restored to life. I am sensible
that they who are on the other side of the question, pretend that this
is no proof of a resurrection; because the design thereof was to
illustrate and make way for the prediction mentioned in the following
verses, concerning the deliverance of God’s people from the Babylonish
captivity: But that which seems to have its weight with me is, that God
would never have made use of a similitude to lead them into this
doctrine, taken from a thing which they had no manner of idea of: But if
we suppose that they believed that there shall be a resurrection of the
dead, agreeable to the literal sense of the words here made use of to
illustrate it, then the argument taken from thence is plain and easy,
_q. d._ as certainly as you have ground to believe that the dead shall
be raised at the last day (which though it could not be brought about by
any natural means, yet it shall be effected by the power of God;) so
your deliverance, how unlikely soever it may appear to those who look no
farther than second causes, shall come to pass by God’s extraordinary
power and providence, which will be as life from the dead.

And whereas it is farther objected, that when God asked the prophet,
whether _these dry bones could live_? He seems to be in doubt about it;
which argues that he had no idea of the resurrection of the dead. To
this it may be replied, that his doubt respected an event that should
immediately ensue; he knew that God could put life into these bones; but
whether he would do it now or no, he could not tell: Therefore it does
not contain any disbelief of the doctrine of the resurrection at the
last day; and, indeed, this scripture, how little soever it may seem to
some to make for the doctrine we are maintaining, is alleged by others,
as an undeniable proof of it. Tertullian expressly says, that this would
have been a very insignificant vision, if this doctrine were not
true[169]. And Jerome speaks to the same purpose, supposing that God
would never illustrate any truth which they were in doubt of, by a
similitude taken from an incredible fiction[170]. And Menasseh Ben
Israel, a learned Jew, supposes this text to be an express and
infallible proof of the resurrection; which plainly argues that he
thought the Jews, in former ages, were convinced of this doctrine

But supposing this scripture be not reckoned sufficient to evince the
truth of this doctrine, there is another which has more weight in it,
_viz._ that in Job xix. 25-27. _I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that
he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: And though, after my
skin, worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: Whom I
shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another,
though my reins be consumed within me._ Job, as is generally supposed,
lived in Moses’ time; therefore, if it can be made appear that he
professes his faith in the doctrine of the resurrection, we may conclude
that the church was acquainted with it in the early ages thereof; and
nothing seems more evident, from the plain sense of the words, than that
he here professes his faith in, and encourages himself from the hope of
future blessedness, both in soul and body, at Christ’s second coming in
the last day.

It is with a great deal of difficulty that they who deny this doctrine,
are obliged to account for the sense of this text, so as to evade the
force of the argument taken from thence to prove it. These suppose that
Job intends nothing hereby but a firm persuasion which he had, that he
should be recovered from that state of misery in which he then was,
which not only affected his mind, but his body, as it was _smitten with
sore boils, from the sole of his foot unto his crown_, Job ii. 7. _his
flesh_ being _clothed with worms_, and his _skin broken and become
loathsome_, chap. vii. 5. and accordingly he says, I shall be redeemed
from this affliction, and brought into a happy state before I die; and
so they suppose that the words are to be taken in a metaphorical sense;
and therefore do not prove the doctrine of the resurrection. But this
will appear to be a very great perversion of the sense of this text, if
we consider,

1. In how solemn a manner he brings it in, in the verses immediately
foregoing. _Oh that my words were now written! Oh that they were printed
in a book! that they were graven with an iron pen and lead, in the rock
for ever!_ Which seems to import that he had something to communicate,
that was of far greater moment than the account of his deliverance from
the afflictions he was under in this world. Therefore it seems more
agreeable to understand the sense of the words, as denoting that great
and important truth, in which all believers are concerned, relating to
Christ’s second coming, and the happiness that his saints shall then
enjoy in soul and body; this deserves to be writ with a pen of iron,
that it may be transmitted to all generations. But,

2. It is evident that he is here speaking of something that should be
done, not whilst he lived, but in the end of time; for he considers his
Redeemer, as _standing in the latter day upon the earth_. The person
whom he here speaks of as his Redeemer, is, doubtless, our Saviour, who
is frequently described, both in the Old and New-Testament, under that
character: And, if at any time God the Father is called the Redeemer of
his people, it may farther be observed that he is never said in
redeeming them to make himself visible to their bodily eyes, or to stand
upon the earth, much less to do this in the latter or last day, in which
Christ is said to come again in a visible manner, to raise the dead and
judge the world: And this Job intends when he says, _In my flesh shall I
see God, whom I shall see for myself and mine eyes shall behold, and not

3. It is evident also that he intends hereby something that should befal
him after his death, and not barely a deliverance from his present
misery in this world; for he speaks of his _skin_ or body as devoured by
_worms_, and _his reins consumed within him_; which can intend no other
than a state of corruption in death.

4. It does not appear that Job had any intimation concerning the change
of his condition in this world, before God turned his captivity, having
first made him sensible of his error, in _uttering that which he
understood not_, when he testified his reconciliation to his friends,
notwithstanding the injuries he had received from them, by _praying for
them_, chap. xlii. 3, 10. And, indeed, he was so far from expecting
happiness in this life, that he says, _Mine eye shall no more see good_,
viz. in this world, chap. vii. 7. and hereupon he takes occasion to
meditate on his own mortality in the following words; _The eye of him
that hath seen me shall see me no more; thine eyes are upon me, and I am
not_: And after this he prays, _O that thou wouldst hide me in the
grave_, chap. xiv. 13. &c. And immediately before he speaks of his
Redeemer as living, and the deliverance which he should obtain in the
latter day, in the text under our present consideration, he earnestly
desires the compassion of his friends: _Have pity upon me, have pity
upon me, O ye my friends; for the hand of God hath touched me_; which
does not well agree with the least expectation of a state of happiness
in this world; in which case he would not need their pity; he might only
have convinced them of the truth thereof, and it would have given a turn
to their behaviour towards him; for we find, that, when God blessed his
latter end more than his beginning, every one was as ready to comfort
him concerning the evil that the Lord had brought upon him, and shew
their very great respect to him, by offering him presents, as any were
before to reproach him. Therefore upon the whole, it is very evident
that Job is not speaking concerning his deliverance from his present
evils in this world, but of a perfect deliverance from all evil in the
great day of the resurrection: Accordingly we must conclude, that the
doctrine of the resurrection is plainly asserted in this scripture; and
indeed, Jerome says, that no one who wrote after Christ has more plainly
maintained the doctrine of the resurrection than Job does in this
scripture, who lived before him[172].

There is another scripture, by which, if I do not mistake the sense
thereof, Job appears to have had a steady faith in the doctrine of the
resurrection, and was firmly persuaded concerning his happiness, when
raised from the dead, namely, in chap. xiv. 13, 14, 15. in which he
says, _O! that thou wouldst hide me in the grave, that thou wouldst keep
me secret until thy wrath be past_; that is, till a full end is put to
all the afflictive providences which men are liable to in this present
world, namely, till the day of Christ’s second coming; or, _that thou
wouldst appoint me a set time, and remember me_; namely, that thou
wouldst deliver me from the evils which I now endure. As to the former
of these expedients, to wit, his deliverance by death, that he counts a
blessing, because he takes it for granted that _if a man die he shall
live again_, ver. 14.[173] and therefore says, _all the days of my
appointed time_, that is, not of the appointed time of life, but the
time appointed that he should lie in the grave, in which he desired that
God would hide him; there, says he, I shall wait, or remain, _till my
change come_, that is, till I am changed from a state of mortality to
that of life. And he goes on in the following words, _Thou shalt call_,
that is, by thy power thou shalt raise me, _and I will answer thee_, or
come forth out of my grave; and hereby thou wilt make it known that thou
_hast a desire to the work of thine hands_.

If it be objected to this sense of the words, that Job says, ver. 12.
that _man lieth down, and riseth not till the heavens be no more; they
shall not awake nor be raised out of their sleep_; therefore he is so
far from expecting relief from his misery in the resurrection, that he
seems plainly to deny it. To this I answer, that he doth not deny the
doctrine of the resurrection in those words wherein he says that they
_shall not be raised from the dead, till the heavens be no more_; which
seems to intimate that he concluded that the dead should rise when the
frame of nature was changed, as it will be, at the last day, in which
the heavens shall be no more. I confess this sense is not commonly given
of these verses, nor any argument drawn from, them to prove a
resurrection from the dead; therefore I would not be too tenacious of
mine own sense thereof; but I cannot but think it more probable than the
common sense that is given of the words, and if so, it may be considered
as a proof of the doctrine that we are maintaining.

There is another scripture which plainly proves the doctrine of the
resurrection, namely, Dan. xii. 2. _Many of them that sleep in the dust
shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting
contempt._ This scripture is brought by several Rabbinical writers, as a
proof of this doctrine; and the words are so express, that it will be
very difficult to evade the force of them; though, it is true, some
modern writers, who are ready to conclude that the Old Testament is
silent as to the doctrine of the resurrection, take the words in a
metaphorical sense, for the deliverance of the church from those
grievous persecutions which they were under in the reign of Antiochus;
and so _sleeping in the dust_ is taken, by them, for lying in the holes
and caves of the earth, the Jews being forced to seek protection there
from the fury of the tyrant: But this cannot be properly called
_sleeping in the dust of the earth_; and their deliverance from this
persecution is not consistent with the contempt that should be cast on
some that were raised out of the dust; nor could the happiness that
others enjoyed in this deliverance, be called _everlasting life_, it
being only a temporal salvation, that according to them, is here spoken
of; and it must be a straining the metaphor to a great degree, to apply
the following words to their wise men and teachers, after this
deliverance, that they should _shine as the brightness of the
firmament_; therefore this sense has such difficulties attending it,
that every person who is not prepossessed with prejudice must give into
the literal sense of the text; and confess that it is an argument to
prove the doctrine of the resurrection.

The only difficulty that is pretended to be involved in this sense of
the text is its being said, _Many of them that sleep in the dust shall
awake_; whereas the doctrine that we are defending, is that of an
universal resurrection. But since we shall have occasion to speak to
that under a following head, we shall rather choose to refer it to its
proper place, in which, according to our designed method, we are to
consider that all who have lived from the beginning to the end of time,
shall be raised.

There are other scriptures in the Old Testament that might be brought to
prove this doctrine, such as that in Deut. xxxii. 39. in which God says,
_I kill, and I make alive_; and that parallel text, in which the same
thing is confessed, and farther explained, by Hannah, in her song, in 1
Sam. ii. 6. _The Lord killeth and maketh alive, he bringeth down to the
grave, and bringeth up._ I know that death and life are sometimes taken
for good and evil; but why should deliverance from the miseries of this
present life be represented by the metaphor of a resurrection, and this
attributed to the almighty power of God, if the doctrine of the
resurrection was reckoned by the church at that time, no other than a
fiction or chimera, as it must be supposed to be if they had no idea of
it, as not having received it by divine revelation?

We might, as a farther proof of this doctrine, consider those three
instances that we have in the Old Testament of persons raised from the
dead, namely, the Shunamite’s child, by the prophet Elisha, 2 Kings iv.
35. and the man who was cast into his sepulchre, that _revived and stood
on his feet_, when he touched his _bones_, chap. xiii. 21. and the widow
of Zarephath’s son, by the prophet Elijah, on which occasion it is said,
_He cried to the Lord, and said, O Lord my God, I pray thee let this
child’s soul come into him again_; and accordingly the soul of the child
came into him again, and he revived, 1 Kings xvii. 21, 22. From hence we
must conclude, that this doctrine was not unknown to the prophet; for if
it had, he could not have directed his prayer to God in faith. And these
instances of a resurrection of particular persons could not but give
occasion to the church at that time, to believe the possibility of a
resurrection at the last day; so that it might as reasonably be expected
that God will exert his power by raising the dead then, as that he would
do it at this time, unless there was something in this possible event
contrary to his moral perfections; but the resurrection appeared to them
as it doth to all who consider him as the governor of the world, and as
distributing rewards and punishments to every one according to their
works, as not only agreeable to these perfections, but, in some
respects, necessary for the illustration thereof. Therefore we must
conclude, that as they had particular instances of a resurrection, which
argued the general resurrection possible, they might easily believe that
it should be future; which is the doctrine that we are maintaining.

To this we may add, that the patriarch Abraham believed the doctrine of
the resurrection; therefore he had it some way or other revealed to him,
before the word of God was committed to writing. This appears from what
the apostle says when speaking concerning his offering Isaac, that _he
accounted that God was able to raise him up even from the dead_, Heb.
xi. 19. From hence it is evident that he was verily persuaded when he
bound him to the altar, and lifted up his hand to slay him, that God
would suffer him to do it, otherwise it had been no trial of his faith,
so that his being prevented from laying his hand on him was an
unexpected providence. Now how could he solve the difficulty that would
necessarily ensue hereupon; had he expected that God would give him
another seed instead of Isaac, that would not have been an
accomplishment of the promise which was given to him, namely, that in
Isaac his seed should be called; therefore the only thing that he
depended on, was, that when he had offered him, God would raise him from
the dead, and by this means fulfil the promise that was made to him
concerning the numerous seed that should descend from him; therefore it
cannot be supposed that Abraham was a stranger to the doctrine of the

There are other scriptures by which it appears that the doctrine of the
resurrection was revealed to the church under the Old Testament
dispensation, either from the sense of the words themselves, or the
explication thereof in the New, which refers to them: thus it is said in
Psal. xvi. 10. _Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou
suffer thine holy one to see corruption_; which the apostle Peter quotes
to prove the resurrection of Christ, in Acts ii. 24-27. If David
therefore knew that the Messiah should be raised from the dead (which,
as will be considered under a following head, is a glorious proof of the
doctrine of the resurrection of the saints) we cannot suppose that he
was a stranger to this doctrine himself.

Again, it is said in Isa. xxv. 8. _He will swallow up death in victory_;
and this is mentioned immediately after a prediction of the glorious
provision, which God would make for his people under the
gospel-dispensation, which is called, by a metaphorical way of speaking,
ver. 6. _A feast of fat things, a feast of wines on the lees, of fat
things full of marrow, of wines on the lees well refined_; and of the
gospel’s being preached to the Gentiles, ver. 7. which is expressed by
his _destroying the face of covering, and the veil that was spread over
all nations_: therefore it may well be supposed to contain a prediction
of something consequent thereupon, namely, the general resurrection: and
there is another scripture to the same purpose, viz. Hos. xiii. 14. _I
will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from
death: O death, I will be thy plague; O grave, I will be thy
destruction_; and both these scriptures are referred to by the apostle,
as what shall be fulfilled in the resurrection of the dead; when he
says, _Then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death
is swallowed up in victory: O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where
is thy victory?_ 1 Cor. xv. 54, 55. Therefore we cannot but think that
the prophets, and the church in their day, understood the words in the
same sense.

There is another scripture in the Old Testament, in which the premises
are laid down, from whence the conclusion is drawn in the New for the
proof of this doctrine, namely, when God revealed himself to Moses,
Exod. iii. 6. which our Saviour refers to, and proves the doctrine of
the resurrection from, against the Sadducees. _Now that the dead are
raised, even Moses shewed at the bush, when he calleth the Lord, the God
of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob: for he is not
the God of the dead, but of the living_, Luke xx. 37, 38. which argument
was so convincing, that _certain of the Scribes_, said, in the following
words, _Master, thou hast well said; and after that, they_, that is, the
Sadducees, _durst not ask him any question at all_; so that it silenced,
if it did not convince them. There are some, indeed, who, though they
conclude that it is a very strong proof of the immortality of the soul,
which the Sadducees denied, since that which does not exist cannot be
the subject of a promise; yet, they cannot see how the resurrection can
be proved from it; whereas it is brought, by our Saviour, for that
purpose: therefore, that the force of this argument may appear, we must
consider what is the import of the promise contained in this covenant,
that God would be the _God of Abraham_; which is explained elsewhere,
when he told him, _I am thy shield and thy exceeding great reward_, Gen.
xv. 1. He was therefore given hereby to expect, at the hand of God, all
the spiritual and saving blessings of the covenant of grace; but these
blessings respect not only the soul, but the body; and as they are
extended to both worlds, it is an evident proof of the happiness of the
saints in their bodies in a future state, and consequently that they
shall be raised from the dead. This leads us,

2. To consider those arguments to prove the doctrine of the resurrection
which are contained in the New Testament, in which it is more fully and
expressly revealed than in any part of scripture. Here we may first take
notice of those particular instances in which our Saviour raised persons
from the dead in a miraculous way, as the prophets Elijah and Elisha did
under the Old Testament dispensation, as was before observed. Thus he
raised Jairus’s _daughter_, whom he found dead in the house, Matt. ix.
25. and another, to wit, the _widow’s son at Nain_, when they were
carrying him to the grave; which was done in the presence of a great
multitude, Luke vii. 11, 14, 15. and there was another instance hereof
in his raising Lazarus from the dead, John xi. 43, 44. which he did in a
very solemn and public manner, after he had been dead four days, his
body being then corrupted and laid in the grave, from whence Christ
calls him, and he immediately revived and came forth. These instances of
the resurrection of particular persons tended to put the doctrine of the
general resurrection out of all manner of doubt; and, indeed, it was, at
this time, hardly questioned by any, excepting the Sadducees: therefore
before Christ raised Lazarus, when he only told his sister Martha that
he _should rise again_, she, not then understanding that he designed
immediately to raise him from the dead, expresses her faith in the
doctrine of the general resurrection; _I know that he shall rise again
in the resurrection at the last day_, John xi. 24. upon which occasion
our Saviour replies, _I am the resurrection and the life_, ver. 25.
denoting that this work was to be performed by him.

Moreover, this doctrine was asserted and maintained by the apostles,
after Christ had given the greatest proof hereof in his own resurrection
from the dead: thus it is said, that _they preached through Jesus, the
resurrection from the dead_, Acts iv. 2. And the apostle Paul standing
before Felix, and confessing his belief of all things which are written
in the law and the prophets, immediately adds, that he had _hope towards
God, which they themselves also allow_; that is, the main body of the
Jewish nation; _that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of
the just and of the unjust_.

And he not only asserts but proves it with very great strength of
reasoning, in 1 Cor. xv. and the argument he therein insists on, is
taken from Christ’s resurrection, ver. 13. _If there be no resurrection,
then is Christ not risen_; which is a doctrine that could not be denied
by any that embraced the Christian religion, as being the very
foundation thereof; but if any one should entertain the least doubt
about it, he adds, ver. 17. _If Christ be not raised from the dead, your
faith is vain, ye are yet in your sins_; that is, your hope of
justification hereby is ungrounded, _and they also which are fallen
asleep in Christ, are perished_; but this none of you will affirm;
therefore you must conclude that he is risen from the dead: and if it be
enquired, how does this argument prove the general resurrection, that he
farther insists on from ver. 20. _Now is Christ risen from the dead, and
become the first-fruits of them that slept?_ Christ’s resurrection
removes all the difficulties that might afford the least matter of doubt
concerning the possibility of the resurrection of the dead; and his
being raised as the _first-fruits of them that slept_, or, as the head
of all the elect, who are said to have communion with him in his
resurrection, or to be _risen with him_, Col. iii. 1. renders the
doctrine of the resurrection of all his saints, undeniably certain. As
the first-fruits are a part and pledge of the harvest, so Christ’s
resurrection is a pledge and earnest of the resurrection of his people.
Thus the apostle says elsewhere, _If the Spirit of him that raised up
Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead
shall also quicken your mortal bodies_, Rom. viii. 11. And our Saviour,
when he was discoursing with his disciples concerning his death, and
resurrection that would ensue thereupon, tells them, that though after
this he should be separated for a time from them, and _the world_ should
_see him no more_, yet that _they should see him_ again; and assigns
this as a reason, _because I live ye shall live also_, John xiv. 19. _q.
d._ because I shall be raised from the dead, and live for ever in
heaven; you, who are my favourites, friends, and followers, shall be
also raised and live with me there; so that the resurrection of
believers is plainly evinced from Christ’s resurrection.

I might produce many other scriptures out of the New Testament, in which
this doctrine is maintained; but we shall proceed to consider what
proofs may be deduced from scripture-consequences. And it may here be
observed, that our Lord Jesus Christ, has by his death and resurrection,
as the consequence thereof, purchased an universal dominion over, or a
right to dispose of his subjects in such a way as will be most conducive
to his own glory and their advantage. Thus the apostle speaks of him as
_dying, rising, and reviving, that he might be Lord both of the dead and
living_; and infers from thence, that _whether we live or die, we are
the Lord’s_, Rom. xiv. 8, 9. And his being Lord over the dead is
expressed in other terms, by his _having the keys of hell and death_;
and this is assigned as the consequence of his _being alive_ after his
death, or of his resurrection from the dead, Rev. i. 18. Therefore he
has a power, as Mediator, to raise the dead. And to this we may also
add, that this is what he has engaged to do, as much as he did to redeem
the souls of his people. When believers are said to be given to him, or
purchased by him, it is the whole man that is included therein; and
accordingly he purchased the bodies as well as the souls of his people,
as may be argued from our obligation hereupon, to _glorify him in our
bodies_ as well as _in our spirits which are God’s_, 1 Cor. vi. 20. And
they are both under his care; he has undertaken that their bodies shall
not be lost in the grave; which is very emphatically expressed, when he
is represented as saying, this is _the will of the Father which hath
sent me_, John vi. 39, 40. or, contained in the commission that I
received from him, when he invested me with the office of Mediator;
_that of all which he had given me, I should lose nothing, but should
raise it up again at the last day_. What should be the reason that he
here speaks of things rather than persons, if he had not a peculiar
regard to the bodies of believers? which, as they are the subjects of
his power when raised from the dead; so they are the objects of his
care, and therefore he will raise them up at the last day.

We might farther consider Christ’s dominion as extended to the wicked as
well as the righteous. He is not, indeed, their federal head; but he is
appointed to be their Judge; and therefore has a right to demand them to
come forth out of their graves, to appear before his tribunal; though
they are neither the objects of his special love, nor redeemed by his
blood, nor the dutiful and obedient subjects of his kingdom; inasmuch as
it is said, _God has appointed a day in which he will judge the world in
righteousness, by that man whom he hath ordained, whereof he hath given
assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead_, Acts
xvii. 31. And elsewhere it is said, that he was ordained _of God to be
the Judge of quick and dead_, chap. x. 42. Therefore we read, that he
shall _sit upon the throne of his glory, and before him shall be
gathered all nations_, Matt. xxv. 31, 32. and of his determining the
final estate, both of the righteous and the wicked, as it is expressed
in the following verses; and this is described more particularly as
being immediately after the universal resurrection; as it is said, ‘I
saw the dead, small and great, stand before God, and the books were
opened,’ Rev. xx. 12, 13. which, as will be observed under our next
answer, respects his judging the world; and in order hereto it is
farther said, that ‘the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death
and hell delivered up the dead which were in them; and they were judged
every man according to their works.’ And since Christ is represented as
a judge, it is necessary that he should execute his vindictive justice
against his enemies, and punish them as their sins deserve; but this
respects not only the soul but the body; and therefore Christ that he
may secure the glory of his justice, shall raise the bodies of sinners,
that he may punish them according to their works; and therefore he is
said to be the object of fear, in that he is _able to destroy both soul
and body in hell_, Matt. x. 28.

Thus we have endeavoured to prove the doctrine of the resurrection by
arguments taken from the Old and New Testament, and those
scripture-consequences from which it may be plainly deduced: so that how
much soever it may be thought a strange and incredible doctrine, by
those who have no other light to guide them but that of nature; it will
be generally believed by all whose faith is founded upon divine
revelation, and who adore the infinite power and impartial justice of
God, the Governor of the world: and, indeed, it is not attended with
such difficulties arising from the nature of the thing, as many pretend,
since we have several emblems in nature which seem to illustrate it;
which are very elegantly represented by some of the Fathers, and
especially by Tertullian;[174] whom the learned and excellent bishop
Pearson refers to and imitates in his style and mode of expression;[175]
his words are these; “As the day dies into night, so doth the summer
into winter: the sap is said to descend into the root, and there it lies
buried in the ground. The earth is covered with snow, or crusted with
frost, and becomes a general sepulchre. When the spring appeareth all
begin to rise; the plants and flowers peep out of their graves, revive,
and grow, and flourish; this is the annual resurrection. The corn by
which we live, and for want of which we perish with famine, is
notwithstanding cast upon the earth, and buried in the ground, with a
design that it may corrupt, and being corrupted, may revive and
multiply; our bodies are fed with this constant experiment, and we
continue this present life by succession of resurrections. Thus all
things are repaired by corrupting, are preserved by perishing, and
revive by dying; and can we think that man, the lord of all those
things, which thus die and revive for him, should be detained in death,
as never to live again? Is it imaginable that God should thus restore
all things to man, and not restore man to himself? If there were no
other consideration but of the principles of human nature, of the
liberty, and remunerability of human actions, and of the natural
revolutions and resurrections of other creatures, it were abundantly
sufficient to render the resurrection of our bodies highly probable.” We
shall now consider,

V. Some objections that are generally brought against the doctrine of
the resurrection. Some things, indeed, are objected against it, that are
so vain and trifling, that they do not deserve an answer: as when the
followers of Aristotle assert that it is impossible for a thing which is
totally destroyed, to be restored to that condition in which it was
before[176]: And some have been so foolish as to think that those
nations, who burnt their dead bodies, put an eternal bar in the way of
their resurrection; since the particles being so changed and separated
by fire as they are, can never return again to their former bodies; or
they who have been swallowed up by the ocean, and the particles of which
they consisted, dissolved by water; and every one of them separated from
the other, can never be again restored to their former situation.
Such-like objections as these, I say, do not deserve an answer; because
they consider the resurrection as though it were to be brought about in
such a way, as effects are produced by second causes, according to the
common course of nature; without any regard to the almighty power of
God, that can easily surmount all the difficulties which, they pretend,
lie in the way of the resurrection.

And there are other objections, taken from a perverse sense, which they
give of some texts of scripture, without considering the drift and
design thereof, or what is added in some following words, which
sufficiently overthrows the objection. Thus some produce that scripture
in Eccles. iii. 19, 20, 21. where it is said, _That which befalleth the
sons of men, befalleth beasts. So that a man hath no pre-eminence above
a beast, all go unto one place, and all are of the dust, and all turn to
the dust again_; which we before mentioned as brought against the
immortality of the soul; and it is also alleged against the resurrection
of the body, by those who conclude that it shall be no more raised from
the dead than the bodies of brute creatures. But this is rather a cavil
or a sophism, than a just way of reasoning; inasmuch as the following
words plainly intimate, that men and beasts are compared together only
as to their mortality, not as to what respects their condition after
death; and therefore it is no sufficient argument to overthrow the
doctrine of the resurrection. These and such-like objections are so
trifling, that we shall not insist on them: However, there are three or
four that we shall lay down, and consider what answers may be given to

_Obj._ 1. It is objected against the doctrine of the resurrection, that
though the power of God can do all things possible to be done; yet the
raising the dead, at least, in some particular instances thereof, is
impossible from the nature of the thing; and therefore we may say,
without any reflection cast on the divine Omnipotency, that God cannot
raise them, at least, not so as that every one shall have his own body
restored to him; since there are some instances of Cannibals, or
men-eaters, who devour one another, by which means the flesh of one man
is turned into the flesh of the other. And in those instances which are
more common, the bodies of men being turned into dust, produce food,
like other parts of the earth, for brute creatures; and accordingly some
of those particles of which they consisted, are changed into the flesh
of these creatures; and these again are eaten by men; so that the
particles of one human body, after having undergone several changes,
become a part of another; therefore there cannot be a distinct
resurrection of every one of those bodies that have lived in all the
ages of the world.

_Answ._ To this it may be replied, that it cannot be proved, that in
those instances mentioned in the objection, that when one man preys upon
another, or when brute creatures live upon that grass which was produced
by the ground, which was made fertile by the bodies of men turned to
corruption, and it may be, may have some of the particles thereof
contained in them: It cannot, I say, be proved, that these particles of
the bodies of men are turned into nourishment, and so become a part of
human flesh; since providence did not design this to be for food. If so,
then it is not true in fact, that the particles of one human body become
a part of another. But, suppose it were otherwise (to give the objection
as much weight as possible) we may farther observe, that it is but a
very small part of what is eaten, that is turned into flesh; and
therefore those particles of one human body, that by this means are
supposed to pass into another, make up but a very inconsiderable part
thereof. Therefore, if some few particles of one human body in the
resurrection are restored again to that body to which they at first
belonged, this will not overthrow the doctrine of the resurrection of
the same body. If the body of man loses a few ounces of its weight, no
one will suppose that it is not the same body. So when the bodies of men
are raised from the dead, if the far greater part of the particles
thereof are recollected and united together, they may truly be said to
constitute the same body; this therefore does not overthrow the
resurrection of the same body from the nature of the thing.

_Object._ 2. It is farther objected, especially against the possibility
of the resurrection of the same body that was once alive in this world;
that the bodies of men, while they live, are subject to such
alterations, that it can hardly be said that we are the same when we are
men as when we are children. The expence of those particles which were
insensibly lost by perspiration, and others being daily gained by
nutrition, make such an alteration in the contexture of the body, that,
as some suppose, in the space of about seven years, almost all the
particles of the body are changed, some lost and others regained. Now if
it be supposed that the same body we once had shall be raised, it is
hard to determine; whether those particles of which it consisted when we
were young, shall be gathered together in the resurrection, or the
particles of the emaciated or enfeebled body, which was laid down in the

_Answ._ We are obliged to take notice of such-like objections as these,
because they are often alleged in a cavilling way, against the doctrine
of the resurrection. The answer therefore that I would give to this, is,
that the more solid and substantial parts of the body, such as the skin,
bones, cartilages, veins, arteries, nerves, fibres, that compose the
muscles, with the ligaments and tendons, are not subject to this change
that is mentioned in the objection, by evaporation or perspiration;
which more especially respects the fluids, and not the solids of the
body. These remain the same in men as they were in children, excepting
what respects their strength and size: And if the body, as consisting of
these and some other of the particles that it has lost, which the wisdom
of God thinks fit to recollect, be gathered together in the
resurrection; we may truly say, that the same body that once lived,
notwithstanding the change made in the fluids thereof, is raised from
the dead.

_Obj._ 3. There is another objection which is sometimes brought against
the doctrine of the resurrection of the just, especially against their
being raised with the same body they once had, taken from the
inconsistency hereof, with their living in the other world, called
heaven; which is generally distinguished from the earth, as being a more
pure subtil and etherial region, therefore not fit to be an habitation
for bodies compounded of such gross matter as ours are, which are
adapted to the state and world in which they now live: Whereas, to
suppose them placed in heaven, is inconsistent with the nature of
gravity; so that we may as well conclude a body, which naturally tends
to the earth its centre, to be capable of living in the air, at a
distance from the surface of the earth, as we can, that it is possible
for such a body to live in heaven: Therefore they argue that the bodies
of men, at the resurrection must be changed, so as to become etherial,
which does, in effect, overthrow the doctrine of the resurrection, as
respecting, at least, the restoring the bodies of men to the same form
which once they had.

Moreover, this objection is farther improved by another supposition:
which gave the Socinians occasion to assert, that the same body shall
not be raised; namely, that if the bodies of men should be the same as
they are now, they would be rendered incapable of that state of
immortality which is in heaven. For by the same method of reasoning, by
which, as has been before observed, they argue that man would have been
liable to mortality, though he had not sinned, _viz._ that death was
then the consequence of nature, inasmuch as the body was to be supported
by food, breathe in proper air, and be fenced against those things that
might tend to destroy the temperament thereof, or a dissolution would
ensue, they conclude that we must not have such bodies as we now have,
but etherial. And to give countenance to this, they refer to the
apostle’s words in 1 Cor. xv. 50. _Flesh and blood cannot inherit the
kingdom of God_: And ver. 40. where he speaks of _celestial bodies_ as
distinguished from _terrestrial_, and of the body’s being raised a
_spiritual body_, ver. 44. And there is another scripture generally
referred to, wherein our Saviour speaks of believers, in the
resurrection, being _as the angels of God_, Matt. xxii. 30. which is to
be understood, at least, as signifying that their motion will be no more
hindered by the weight of the body, than the motion of an angel is;
therefore their bodies must be of another kind than what we suppose they
shall be in the resurrection.

_Answ._ 1. As to what respects the inconsistency of bodies like ours,
living in the upper world, as being contrary to the nature of
gravitation: It may be answered, that according to the generally
received opinion of modern philosophers, gravity arises from an external
pressure made upon bodies which are said to be heavy or light, according
to the force thereof; and therefore those bodies that are in the upper
regions, above the atmosphere, are equally adapted to ascend or descend;
which sufficiently answers that part of the objection. This a learned
writer takes notice of[177]: And if this be not acquiesced in, he
advances another hypothesis; which, because it has something of wit and
spirit in it, I shall take leave to mention, though I must suspend my
judgment concerning it, whether it be true or false. He says, perhaps,
our heaven will be nothing else but an heaven upon earth; and that it
seems more natural to suppose that, since we have solid and material
bodies, we shall be placed as we are in this life, in some solid and
material orb; and this he supposes agreeable to the apostle Peter’s
words, when he speaks of a _new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness_,
2 Pet. iii. 13. From whence he concludes, that either this world shall
be fitted to be the seat of the blessed, or some other that has a solid
basis like unto it. And to give countenance to this opinion, he refers
to some ancient writers; and particularly tells us