- Memoir of Rev. John Robinson.
- Section I.: Mr. Robinson, a Puritan In Norfolk. (1575—1604.)
- Section II.: Mr. Robinson a Separatist At Scrooby. (1604—1608.)
- Section III.: Mr. Robinson an Exile At Amsterdam. (1608, 1609.)
- Section IV.: Mr. Robinson a Pastor At Leyden. (1609—1625.)
- Section V.: Mr. Robinson, His Character and Writings.
- The Preface.
- Prefatory Notice By the Editor.
- Chapter I.: Of Man's Knowledge of God .
- Chapter II.: Of God's Love.
- Chapter III.: Of God's Promises.
- Chapter IV: Of the Works of God, and His Power, Wisdom, Will, Goodness, Etc., Shining In Them.
- Chapter V.: Of Created Goodness.
- Chapter VI.: Of Equability, and Perseverance In Well-doing.
- Chapter VII.: Of Religion, and the Differences and Disputations Thereabout.
- Chapter VIII.: Of the Holy Scriptures.
- Chapter IX.: Of Authority and Reason.
- Chapter X.: Op Faith, Hope, and Love: Reason, and Sense.
- Chapter XI.: Of Atheism and Idolatry.
- Chapter XII.: Of Heresy and Schism.
- Chapter XIII.: Of Truth and Falsehood.
- Chapter XIV.: Of Knowledge and Ignorance.
- Chapter XV.: Of Simplicity and Craftiness.
- Chapter XVI.: Of Wisdom and Folly.
- Chapter XVII.: Of Discretion.
- Chapter XVIII.: Of Experience.
- Chapter XIX.: Of Examples.
- Chapter XX.: Of Counsel.
- Chapter XXI.: Of Thoughts.
- Chapter XXII.: Of Speech and Silence.
- Chapter XXIII.: Of Books and Writings.
- Chapter XXIV.: Of Good Intentions.
- Chapter XXV.: Of Means.
- Chapter XXVI.: Of Labour, and Idleness.
- Chapter XXVII.: Of Callings.
- Chapter XXVIII.: Of the Use and Abuse of Things.
- Chapter XXIX.: Of Riches and Poverty.
- Chapter XXX.: Of Sobriety.
- Chapter XXXI.: Of Liberality and Its Contraries.
- Chapter XXXII.: Of Health and Physic.
- Chapter XXXIII.: Of Afflictions.
- Chapter XXXIV.: Of Injuries.
- Chapter XXXV.: Of Patience.
- Chapter XXXVI.: Of Peace.
- Chapter XXXVII.: Of Society and Friendship.
- Chapter XXXVIII.: Of Credit and Good Name.
- Chapter XXXIX.: Of Contempt and Contumely.
- Chapter Xl.: of Envy.
- Chapter Xli.: of Slander.
- Chapter Xlii.: of Flattery.
- Chapter Xliii.: of Suspicion.
- Chapter Xliv.: of Appearances.
- Chapter Xlv.: of Offences.
- Chapter Xlvi.: of Temptations.
- Chapter Xlvii.: of Conscience.
- Chapter Xlviii.: of Prayer.
- Chapter Xlix.: of Oaths and Lots.
- Chapter L.: of Zeal.
- Chapter Li.: of Hypocrisy.
- Chapter Lii.: of Sin, and Punishment From God.
- Chapter Liii.: of Rewards, and Punishments By Men.
- Chapter Liv.: of the Affections of the Mind.
- Chapter Lv.: of Fear.
- Chapter Lvi.: of Anger.
- Chapter Lvii.: of Humility and Meekness.
- Chapter Lviii.: of Modesty.
- Chapter Lix.: of Marriage.
- Chapter Lx.: of Children and Their Education.
- Chapter Lxi.: of Youth and Old Age.
- Chapter Lxii.: of Death.
- Introductory Notice By the Editor.
- Chapter I.: Of Predestination.
- Chapter II.: Of Election.
- Chapter III.: Of Falling Away. Adversaries. (page 78.)
- Chapter IV.: Of Free-will.
- Chapter V.: Of the Original State of Mankind.
- Chapter VI.: Of Baptism. (pages 129—176.)
of falling away.
The third head questioned is, according to their order whether a man may fall from life eternal, but is more plainly and fully thus laid down; whether a man truly and effectually called, justified, and sanctified, may wholly fall away from the grace of Christ ? They hold the affirmative; and that a man may thus fall away; though they set down their opinion both in improper and doubtful terms, where they say, that the “promise of God's election is continued unto us upon continuance in the same condition” of faith, and obedience to Christ's gospel.
scripture cautions and exhortations.
Their arguments are of two sorts: the former drawn from such scriptures as teach, as they say, that the godly may fall away: the latter from such, as exhort and admonish godly men to keep them from falling away. The latter of these two they prosecute in the first place, upon this ground: that if there were not danger, and great need of warning, the Lord, who saith not in vain unto his people, “Seek ye me,” Isa. xlv. 19, would not so oft move them to take heed, beware, and the like.
As they are deceived, by the translation which they follow, Isa. xlv. the Lord not speaking of his not saying in vain to his people, “Seek ye me:” but of their not seeking him in vain; seeing all his words tend to righteousness: so the ground which they lay is true in itself; namely, that were there no danger any way, then it were in vain, to warn to take heed, which to affirm of God, derogates from his wisdom. We are therefore in the first place, by way of distinction, to consider a faithful man, either in respect of himself as restraining himself: or in respect of the grace of Christ sustaining him. Considering him in himself, we willingly grant, that a faithful man may as easily fall away, as did the angels in heaven, and Adam in Paradise, being left to themselves: grace not being, as is reason, an inseparable property, but that which is separable from man's nature. But now considering the same faithful person, as a living member of Christ's body, receiving nourishment from him the head; and given to Christ by the Father, that he might save him; as having the Spirit of Christ dwelling in him; and as kept by the power of God, through faith to salvation: Col. ii. 19; John xvii. 6, 8; Eph. ii. 22; 1 Pet. i. 5; in that regard we deny, that it can come to pass possibly, that such a one should wholly fall away from the grace received. And this diverse consideration of one, and the same person, is founded in the Scriptures, and light of reason. The apostle teacheth, that both he and all others are insufficient of themselves, to think anything, as of themselves: but sufficient, 2 Cor. iii. 5; 2 Cor. xii. 9; 1 Cor. xv. 10; as of God; that the faithful may be weak in themselves, and have God perfecting his strength in man's weakness; that not a man's self, but the grace of God in him may labour abundantly, that is, he by it, and not by his own strength. Thus, to open the distinction yet fullier, might Christ's flesh have seen corruption, Psa. xvi. 11, considered in itself as being made of the same mould with ours: but so could it not possibly in regard of God's purpose, promise, and work of providence to the contrary. So considering his bones in themselves, and their natural strength, it was as possible . they should have been broken by the soldiers, as the bones of the two thieves, crucified with him: but yet this was impossible in respect of God's precedent word and prediction, “Not a bone of him shall be broken;” and of his present work of most powerful providence, according to his word. Numb. ix. 12; Exod. xii. 46; Psa. xxxiv. 20; John xix. 36.
If now with this consideration, that a believer may of himself fall away, we conjoin this other, that the exhortations, and admonitions in the Scriptures, are means sanctified of God to keep, and preserve all his from such apostacy, how should it seem strange unto any, that God should infallibly obtain his own end, the perseverance of his saints, by his own means, which these exhortations are ? Is it a good argument that God may fail of his end, because he useth effectual means whereby to obtain it, as exhortations and warnings are to perseverance ? Is it a good argument, that the conduit may want water, because a man, skilful in water-works, layeth the conduit pipes with all diligence, and art, between the spring-head and the conduit; or that the child, whom his father holding him fast by the hand, in a slippery way, and bidding him look that he fall not, can fall out of his father's hand ? Nay, though left to himself, he may, yea cannot but fall; yet considering his father's strength supporting him, one that cannot fall himself, whereof the child is made partaker for his supportance, he cannot fall: such a holding, and helping hand of God are these exhortations, made effectual by his Spirit in the hearts of his children, true believers. Unto whom, as the Lord saith, “Seek ye my face;” so they answer, “Thy face Lord do we seek,”Psa. xxvii. 8: the Lord saith in his Word, “Take heed, stand fast, beware that ye fall not away,” and the like. Unto which their godly hearts answer, Lord we do take heed, do beware, &c. For by “these the servant of God is warned,” Psa. xix. 11. They are as “seed sown in good ground, which brings forth fruit with patience to the harvest,” Luke viii. 15. So as in truth, the clean contrary doctrine to ‘ these men's collection, is true; that therefore the truly faithful cannot fall away, because they, they, I say, being faithful, obedient, and of honest hearts, are by such exhortations, and admonitions, armed against such evil of apostacy.
To conclude this point. The Lord Jesus gives his apostles in charge to teach all nations whatsoever he had commanded them, Matt, xxviii. 19, 20: adding thereunto, the promise of his presence with them, if they did so, to the end of the world: against whom also a woe was denounced if they did not preach the same gospel, 1 Cor. ix. 16. I would now know whether it could so come to pass, that these apostles should not, and that willingly, preach this gospel, and the truths thereof? This to affirm were to blaspheme the Holy Spirit of God, by which they were immediately and infallibly guided in their ministry. Promises therefore and threatenings are not in vain for the provoking of men unto those duties, which by reason of the Spirit's powerful work in them, it is not possible but they should perform.
esau's loss of birthright, and other instances.
The scriptures brought by them for their assertion, follow. The first is, Heb. xi. 15, whence they gather, that, as Esau lost his earthly inheritance, to which he had. right, so may the saints lose their heavenly inheritance, which they have right to.
The apostle doth not so conclude, but exhorts them only to take heed thereof: and of that matter we spake_even now at large. Esau was a profane person before he sold his birthright, Gen. xxv. 23—27, and never other; no doubt but a profane person, or hypocrite, nourishing in himself the root of bitterness, though living in the church, may lose whatsoever right he had; and of such the apostle here speaks. If it be further objected, that Esau had right indeed to the birthright, by them unskilfully called the inheritance, I answer, that he had never right to it spiritually, nor in God's appointment, but only in outward course, and in regard of men: and such a right to the heavenly inheritance may be, and is, by too many lost, as the apostle here insinuates. Lastly, who sees not the difference between the inward grace of faith and holiness in the heart of a true believer, and the carnal right to that which is common to good, and bad.
In Matt. v. 15, Christ saith, not as they accuse him, that salt may lose its savour, but if the salt lose its savour, as he saith, “If it be possible, let this cup pass from me:” Matt. xxvi. 39; which yet, all things considered, could not be. Of which form of speech we have lately treated, and shall more hereafter. I suppose it was never seen, that salt wanted saltness: and if it do, how is it salt ? Besides, Christ calls not his apostles salt, and light, in regard of the grace of faith in their hearts; but of their preaching the gospel, therewith to season and enlighten the world. 2 Pet. ii. 20, they pervert as the former places: making that absolute which is but conditional, and with an If. They, say they, which are washed, may return with the sow, to wallow in the mire, and their latter end be worse than the beginning. The apostle saith, “If after they be washed,” &c. These forms of speech, whether hi Scripture, or other where, if this, then that, do not necessarily prove, that either this or that is so indeed; but only, that if this be so, then that also. Both this and that in themselves may be impossible, and yet the consequence good: as if I should say at midnight, If it be day, the sun is rising; or at midday, If it be night, the sun is set: so in the Scriptures, Luke xix. 40; 1 Cor. xv. 13, 14, 15, 16, &c., Gal. i. 5, 10, and in infinite other places. It is sufficient for the truth of a conditional proposition, that the latter part follow infallibly upon the former; if it be; but requires not that it should be. These men and others herein labour of the same mistaking with the disciples, John xxi. 22, 23, who upon Christ's words to Peter touching John, “If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee ?” concluded, that John should not die, but should survive till the second coming of Christ; which fancy also continued a long time in the minds of many. But the evangelist in the same place, ver. 23, teacheth them that will learn, not to interpret conditional speeches, as absolute. Jesus said not unto him, he shall not die; but, If I will that he tarry till I come, or die not.
If it be further replied, that the apostle aims at certain particular persons, which “denied the Lord that bought them, whose pernicious ways others followed,” and “unto whom it did happen according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his vomit again:” which same persons Jude, verse 4, also chargeth to have turned the grace of God into wantonness; I willingly grant the thing so to have been; but deny the conditional form of speech to prove it absolutely. And for the thing, I answer, that the apostles there speak of men's being purged and washed, and the like, according to the outward profession only, which they formerly made, and which the church took knowledge of: and not according to the inward truth of the heart, which they knew not, but God alone. I add, to put the matter wholly out of question, that these apostles thus speaking, do in the same places both gather themselves by the event, and teach us that these persons, of whom they speak, were never truly and effectually sanctified, but only in their own, and other men's opinion; as where 2 Peter ii. 7, 8, 9, opposing righteous Lot to the wicked Sodomites, addeth, that as God delivered him, so he knoweth, that is, can and will “deliver the godly out of temptations,” and “to reserve the unrighteous to the day of judgment” for punishment. Likewise, ver. 21, “The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed, to her wallowing in the mire.” They were always then, in truth, but dogs and swine, though sometimes vomiting dogs, and washed on the outside as swine are in the waters. And yet more plainly, of the same persons Jude saith, verse 4, that they were “ungodly men, and before of old ordained to that condemnation,” and such as crept in unawares. They were at the best but hypocrites, in truth, and such as crept in unawares, though seeming for a time to others, and it may be to themselves also, sanctified and purged, by their outward profession, which profession formerly by them made, the apostle upbraids them with, to their greatest confusion.
To Heb. x. 29, the same answer serveth. The form of speech is but conditional, “If we sin wilfully,” &c.,ver. 26, which proves, that if any so sin, then there remains no more sacrifice for him: but proves not that any truly justified and sanctified, doth so sin. If it be asked, to what end then serves the fearful denunciation used ? I answer, first, to keep the truly faithful from so sinning: second, to awaken even the secure, if not desperate: third, to point out the fearful state of incurable hypocrites and apostates. And as the particular persons unto whom the apostle there hath reference, could not by him certainly be discerned ever to have been truly and inwardly sanctified, “for what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man, which is in him?” 1 Cor. ii. 11. So by their after course of apostacy from Christ, he seemeth not obscurely to gather, and pronounce of them, that at their best they were but hollow hearted; as ver. 38, 39, making an opposition between the truly just that lives, and perseveres notwithstanding all temptations, by faith; and those withdrawers to perdition. So, chap, vi., speaking of the same, and like persons, “if they fall away,” ver. ‘6, he insinuates against them, ver. 8, that they were never other than thorny earth, opposed to good earth, bringing forth herbs meet for him that dresseth it. As also, ver. 9, 10, he makes it a point of God's righteousness not to forget the work and labour of love of the truly faithful, or beloved; viz., so as to suffer them to fall away from the things which accompany salvation. With which accords that elsewhere, “Faithful is he that calleth you, which will also do it,” 1 Thess. v. 23, 24; that is, will preserve the truly faithful blameless unto the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ: as doth that also in the parable, where only the seed sown in the stony or thorny ground withered, and was choked before the harvest; but not any one corn sown in good ground. Matt. xiii.; Luke viii.
To 1 Tim. i. 19, where it is said, that some, as Hyomeneus and Alexander by name, have put away a good conscience, and made shipwreck of faith, I answer, letting pass other things, that Paul speaks no more of them than he knows: and so not knowing their heart, and inward man, which only God doth, he speaks of their faith, and good conscience, not as considered in their hearts, which he knew not; but in outward profession, whereof he had taken knowledge. The same answer serveth to 1 Tim. v. 12, if by the first faith there be not meant these women's former promise of serving the church, in the widows' or deaconesses' office; and then it is nothing to the matter in hand.
It is not said, Exod. xxxii. 32, 33, in the text, but in their gloss, that some written in the book of life may be blotted out. Moses only desires there that if God would not pardon his people's sin, and bring them into Canaan, he would “blot him out of his book.” But the Lord answers him in the same place, that that cannot be, but that he that sins against him, he will blot out. Is it to be conceived, that Moses for the sin of others; whereof he was altogether innocent, yea for his holy zeal and love towards God's people, should be blotted out of the book of life ? If you say, that yet some, to wit, sinning may be blotted out, I grant it in God's sense, but not in theirs. For first, this is meant of temporary, and not of eternal life, of the “blotting their name from under heaven,” Deut. ix. 14; of the destroying them, and making of Moses a nation greater than they. Of that of which God is said to repent upon Moses' prayer, ver. 14, which was only in regard of their temporal state and life. 2. It is not only vanity, but impiety also to affirm that these persons were ever truly justified and sanctified. Not only Moses and Aaron, but God himself upon this very occasion testifies the contrary, ver. 9, 22: Deut. ix. 7, 13. To Psa. Ixix. 28, I answer, that David means no more, than that his adversaries should no longer be continued in the church and fellowship of God's people, the latter part of the verse expounding the former, “Let them not be written with the ‘righteous; “which the prophet Ezekiel terms, “not being written in the writing of the house of Israel.” Ezek. xiii. 9. And seeing David here speaks of certain particular persons his adversaries, let these men show the marks by which he knew certainly that they were once truly justified and sanctified, or by which they know them so to have been. They take that for granted, in which the main question lieth; and laying such foundations, what can their building be ?
As the blackamoor changeth not his skin; so neither do they their bold manner, in putting their gloss for the scripture; as appears in the next place cited by them, Rev. iii. 5: Christ there teacheth, that some, namely, they that overcome, shall not have their name blotted out of the book of life. They bring him in saying, that some written in the book of life may be put out. God blots not out their name that overcome: and if any overcome not in the spiritual warfare, it shows his name was never written there. “All that dwell on the earth shall worship the beast,” Rev. xiii. 8—11, “whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb.” On the contrary, the saints indeed, and elect, get “victory over the beast, by faith and patience.” Rev. xv. 2.
That by the talents given to the servants, Matt, xxv., is meant the graces of justification and sanctification; and not the gifts of the Spirit given for the edification of the church, as 1 Cor. xii. 7; and Eph. iv. 3, is their presumption. Justification and sanctification make men the servants of Christ at first; these talents were given to them that were servants already; and that according to their several ability for their special places. Besides, the taking away of the talent here spoken of, is not in this life, but at the day of judgment; and therefore is unskilfully brought for their purpose.
Touching Paul's affirming that the saints at Rome were justified by faith, Rom. v., and yet threatening, that if they continued not in the bounty of God, they should be cut off, chap. xi. 21, I answer, as before; first, that the threatening is conditional, as Gal. i. 8, “If we,” &c. Was it possible that Paul should preach any other gospel? Or were he an angel from heaven, or of God, that should do so?. I suppose no, but an angel from hell rather, and of the devil. Chap. iv. 14. The question is not whether if any should not abide in the bounty of God, they were to be cut off or no. But whether any with whom he hath dealt so bounteously, as indeed to justify and sanctify them, have not also a promise, by his power, to be kept in that his bounty, by the means which he hath appointed? Secondly, Paul pronounceth those Romans justified, not from the judgment of certainty, but of charity. Of whom as some were undoubtedly sincere, whom God did by this and the like warnings, preserve and keep in his grace: so for the hypocrites mingled amongst them, it was but that which we say, if in their time they were broken off from that which formerly they seemed to others by their profession, and it may be to themselves also, to have had.
And indeed, this very place, if it be well minded, ministers full answer to the most of their arguments. This warning, though immediately given to the Romans, concerns all Christians as well as them. And being founded upon an example of the Lord's dealing with the Jews must be, expounded, and applied accordingly. Who then were these exemplary Jews, formerly cut off by the Lord from the olive tree ? Were they such as had once truly believed, but had after made defection ? I suppose not even in these men's judgments; but such as occupying a place in the church, yet were, in truth, faithless hypocrites, and as chaff in the Lord's floor, which “the Son of man coming with his fan in his hand purged out.” Matt. iii. 11, 12. And in these we may see, what kind of branches they are, which in time come actually and visibly to be broken off from the olive.
The instances following of Eli's house losing the priesthood, Saul the kingdom of Israel, and the Israelites Canaan, serve only to fill up the room. The priesthood, kingdom, and Canaan, were not the graces of faith, and sanctification in the heart; nor the loss of them sin, but punishments only. Only the last place, Matt, xviii. 32, where debt forgiven, is, as they say recalled, were something to the purpose, if the drift of the parable were to show, that God indeed forgives sins, and after unforgives them: which were lightness unbecoming any grave and honest man. But the scope of the parable being no more than that we ought to forgive such as offend us, and that otherwise God will not forgive us: to draw more from it is to forget that it is a parable, and to take the high way to most grievous error. Besides there is in this parable no colour for falling away from grace, and true godliness, formerly had; but only, even their exposition being admitted, that a man may have his sins pardoned, who yet wants all brotherly love and goodness, which the Scriptures everywhere deny, Matt. vi. 14, 15; Mark xi. 24, 25; 1 John iii. 14, 15; Rom. viii. 1; Psa. xxxii. 1, 2. Thirdly, by these grounds, no man can certainly know, that his sins are indeed pardoned, whilst he lives in the world, because he may still fall away, and so have his pardon recalled, though sealed up unto him by the very Spirit of God itself. Eph. i. 13. And so all our faith must be but adventure whilst we live in the world, whether our sins past be in truth pardoned or no; contrary to the Scriptures. Lastly, this impeacheth both the justice of God, and his truth. His justice in making him require double satisfaction for the same debt; first, of his Son, even the price of his blood, and the same also by faith, applied to the person that hath sinned and believeth; and after of the person himself. Of his truth, and that both of his word absolutely promising forgiveness of sins to him that believeth, and also of his Spirit, by which he seals up the same unto their hearts. Rom. iii. 25; Eph. i. 13.
Their second and third reason, taken from the fall and sin of Adam, and all men's falling, and sinning in and by him, are wholly beside the question; which is only of falling from the grace of God in Christ; from election in him, Eph. i. 4, from the love of God towards us, when we were enemies, Rom. v. 8, from mercy, Rom. ix. 15, which presupposeth sin, and misery, and is properly evangelical. God gave Adam his portion in grace by creation, and left it in his own keeping, which he soon misspent: but hath dealt more mercifully with us in making his Son our feoffer in trust that he as our head, might keep and improve the grace of God belonging to us, as is meet for us: lest we having all at once, and that same left in our own hands, should misspend all, as Adam did.
To that which they allege from Eph. i. 4, compared with Rev. ii. 4, 5, I answer, first, that Paul styles those Ephesians elect only as he knew them so to be: which was by outward appearance of holiness. Secondly, that the leaving of their first love was not a total falling from grace, but only a decaying of their former zeal. Thirdly, the threatening of the candlestick's removing, was to the truly called, an effectual means of drawing them to repentance. When these men can make it appear that any one of the truly elect and sanctified Ephesians did wholly despise this and the like means of their bettering, I will then grant their proof strong. It may as well be concluded, that therefore the fire goes out, because it hath good and fresh fuel put unto it, and is diligently blown. For these exhortations and admonitions are as fuel and blowing to preserve from going out the sparks, and fire of grace in the hearts of believers.
That only “he that continues to the end, and overcomes shall be saved;” and that the promise of acceptance, and salvation, by them miscalled “the promise of election,” is no otherwise intended to us, than upon our abiding in the faith and obedience of Christ. We believe and confess with them, according to the Scriptures, but withal are taught, and believe according to the same Scriptures, that God keeps all his holy ones unto the end, and gives them to overcome; that he “puts his fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from him; “Jer. xxxii. 40; that the seed sown in good ground shall neither wither by persecution, nor be choked by cares of the world, or deceitfuless of riches, or otherwise; Matt. xiii. 23; but shall grow up to the harvest; that the gates of hell shall not prevail against the church, Matt. xvi. 18; or any one member thereof, built upon the rock of Peter's confession; that, God is faithful, who with the temptation will give a way to escape, 1 Cor. x. 13, for all his; that they are kept by the power of God, through faith to salvation; 1 Pet. i. 5; and that being born of God, they do not sin nor can (to wit, as the children of the devil do) because his seed remaineth in them. 1 John iii. 9,10.
Their objections following, that by our doctrine men need not fear falling into condemnation, though they fall into notorious sin, nor repent having committed such sins; are of no weight; seeing God, though he promise salvation to the truly called, certainly, yet he neither promiseth it, neither are they to believe it immediately; but by means of fearing to sin, and of repentance when sin is committed, which he also promiseth to work, and put in their heart that they shall not depart from him. Jer. xxxii. 40. The Lord promised by the prophet Jeremy, that after seventy years of the Jews' captivity accomplished at Babylon, he would visit them, and cause them to return to Jerusalem. And, whereas it might be objected against the certainty of this promise and event, What! shall they return though they repent not, nor seek the Lord, but remain rebellious, as they have been, and their forefathers before them? He answers, that then they shall call upon God, and pray unto him, and seek unto him; and he will hearken unto them, be found of them, and return their captivity. Jer. xxv. 12, and xxix. 10, 11, 12, 13, 14. He promiseth both the end and the means; and he that promiseth is faithful in performing, and providing for both temporal and eternal deliverance, and the means thereof.
Their argument taken from exhortations, and admonitions in the Scriptures, that we receive not the grace of God in vain, 2 Cor. vi. 1, and the like, hath formerly been fully answered. They are not in vain, either in respect of elect or reprobate; neither yet will we own their absurd answer here fathered upon us, and the whole Scriptures are given to keep both elect and reprobate from falling into gross sins; yet that neither the elect can be damned by transgressing them, nor the reprobate saved by observing them. The Scriptures have divers ends; and amongst others, are given to keep all, not only from gross, but from all sins. Neither do we affirm, that the elect cannot be damned by transgressing them; or that the reprobate cannot be saved by observing them, as they, like deceitful proctors, plead for us, or rather for their own advantage. But this we say, that the elect and truly sanctified are so kept by the power of God in his fear, that they never transgress as the wicked do; nor can, because his seed remaineth in them; that they continually renew their repentance; particular, for sins known, into which through infirmity they fall; and general, for sins unknown, as David did, 2 Sam. xii. 13; Psa. li.; and that even by means of those exhortations and admonitions, Psa. xix. 12, which God opens their hearts to attend unto, Acts xvi. 14, and gives increase accordingly, 1 Cor. iii. 6, 7. And the contrary, the reprobates, being left to themselves of God, have by their own and Satan's malice, their eyes so blinded, and hearts hardened, as though those means of exhortation come unto them, they either understand them not, or believe them not, or despise them; but never observe or obey them aright.
Their curses of the doctrine in this point, received in all reformed churches, atheistical and damnable; and their blessing themselves from it, is here as everywhere, the fruit of that wild zeal, wherewith their ignorant hearts are possessed.
Their answers follow to the Scriptures brought against them. The first is, Matt. xxiv. 24. “If it were possible they,” the false teachers, “should deceive the very elect.” Whence we conclude, as they say, that it is not possible the elect should perish. And here first they show, who are the elect of God; noting indeed the persons, but perverting the order of grace. If in saying, as they do, that the elect of God, are those that receive and obey the truth of Christ, and abide in him unto the death, they meant, that such as are chosen of God in his decree before the world, and actually and effectually, chosen and called in time by the Word and Spirit, to believe and obey, did so abide to the death, it were but the truth, which the Scriptures teach and we profess. But intending as they do, that men have only the promise of actual and particular election till then, but are not absolutely elected, and that absolute election follows this abiding in Christ till death; they are like the foolish builders, which would lay the foundation upon the roof of the house. But their comment upon Christ's words, men should be in danger to be seduced by false prophets, when they have abided in Christ unto death; for till then they will have none elect; and the elect are here said to be in danger to be seduced.
That which they gather from the manifold warnings in the Scriptures to the elect, that none deceive them, &c., is true; namely, that the elect may fall from their election, or rather from the grace received, if they take not heed. But they should withal prove, that God doth ever, so far leave and forsake any truly justified, and sanctified in Christ, as that they take no heed at all, as they ought. It is certain that if the very elect angels in heaven, or Christ Jesus upon earth, had taken no heed to God's commandments, they could not have observed them.
That which is added, that many may fall away, not by being deceived, but willingly forsaking the truth; and again, that many fall away willingly, not being deceived, is neither pertinent, seeing the place in question speaks only of such as are deceived; nor true, seeing a man cannot will any evil, but under a show and appearance of good, so presented to the will by a deceived, and erring understanding. And so the Scriptures everywhere ascribe all manner of defection from God, and his holy commandments, to error, either in the general ground, or particular case. Psa. xcv. 10; Isa. liii. 6; Prov. xiv. 22; Heb. iii. 10; 2 Pet. iii. 17, &c.
The next place is John x. 27, 28, “My sheep hear my voice, and they know me, and follow me, and I give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish, neither shall any take them out of mine hand. My Father which hath given them me, is greater than all, and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand.”
They here conceive the purpose of Christ to be to confirm his sheep, so long as they continue his sheep, &c. But herein they draw violently Christ's purpose to their own. For Christ, as may be seen, by comparing herewith ver. 16, 26, 27, is to show how it came to pass, that some of his hearers believed and obeyed his voice, and some not. Many of the Jews believed not, because they were not his sheep: some did, being his sheep, to wit, by destination of God. Christ saith not, that they are not his sheep, because they believe not; but that they believe not, because they are not his sheep; that is, not being of the elect of God, they are left to their own impenitent and unbelieving heart, which they also willingly harden against Christ's voice. Where ver. 16, he saith, “Other sheep I have which are not of this fold, whom also I must bring,” &c., he means the elect amongst the heathens destinated to that one sheepfold, under him that one Shepherd, and by his voice to be brought thereto. This is yet more plain, ver. 15, where he saith, “I give my life for my sheep.” Christ died for the ungodly, Rom. v. 6, 8. By his sheep therefore in this place, are meant the elect for eternity, for whom he died; the fruit of which election of God, and death of Christ, showeth forth itself in their timeous faith and obedience.
Further, note we for the thing in hand, that Christ gives unto his sheep, that hears his voice and obey him, eternal life: ver. 28: as elsewhere also he saith, “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life.” John iii. 36. If this life which they have given them, and have (in the beginnings of it) even in this life, be eternal and everlasting; how can it be broken oil afterwards ? Or if it can be interrupted and broken off, how is it everlasting and eternal?
Lastly; if none be able to pluck Christ's sheep out of his, and his Father's hand; then no sinful person, or temptation, no malice of Satan can turn them from God: for if they can, then they can pluck them out of God's hand. Is not the destroying and corrupting of men's faith and obedience, the plucking them out of the hand of God ? ver. 12, the same word is used, “The wolf catcheth and scattereth the sheep,” that is, corrupteth them, as Matt. vii. 15; Acts xx. 19; where the same word is used also. As they are elsewhere too prodigal of Christ's benefits to all the goats in the world, so are they here too niggardly of them to his own sheep. Although in truth they grant, though unawares, as much as we plead for, in saying, that those sheep, so long as they continue his sheep, have spiritual peace, and safety, &c. Spiritual peace and safety is against all assaults of all spiritual enemies, labouring to subvert the spiritual state of God's people.
To the scriptures here alleged by them for their purpose, the answers formerly given touching conditional threatenings, and God's people in appearance, must be applied.
Of the former of the two scriptures following, which is John xiii. 1, “Whom he loveth, he loveth to the end,” they speak as the thing is, of God's love: but as loth to be too much beholden to him for it, and desirous pharisaically to justify themselves, they pull down what they formerly built, in saying, that the question is not of God's and Christ's love unto his, but of the continuance of our love unto him; wherein they both gainsay themselves in this whole treatise, and the Scriptures throughout. They put the question themselves of God's election, and of the promise of election. And is election, and the promise of election a work of our love to God, or of God's to us ? Eph. i. 4, 5. The Scriptures also ascribe the whole work of our salvation, as election, redemption by the blood of Christ, vocation, revelation of heavenly things, justification, sanctification, adoption, faith, repentance, and the giving of the Spirit, issue out of temptations, and continuing blameless to the coming of the Lord, unto the good pleasure and love of God alone. It is true, that we must also love God, as they say: but we must know withal, that this our love of God depends upon his love of us first, and the same shed abroad into our hearts by his Spirit, which gives testimony thereof to our spirits: which, as it were, forceth love again from us to God, and the continuance of it the continuance of our love; according to that of the apostle, “The love of Christ constraineth us.” Rom. v. 8, 10; Gal. i. 15; Rom. ix. 11; Matt. xi. 25; Rom. iii. 24; Gal. iv. 5, 6;' Rom. viii. 15; Eph. ii. 8; 2 Tim. ii. 25; 1 Cor. x. 13; 1 Thess. v. 23; 2 Cor. v. 14; Rom. v. 5. For as the beams of the sun shed into the bosom of the earth first heat it, and so cause it to reflect heat again towards heaven: so by the love of God shed into our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given us, our hearts are most effectually drawn, and persuaded to love God again, and men for, and according to him. Which I further also manifest thus. Our love, whether to God or man, ariseth from faith unfeigned, 1 Tim. i. 5. Faith stands in the assured persuasion of the heart, by the Holy Ghost, of God's love to us: whereupon I conclude, that our salvation depending immediately upon our faith, love, and obedience, as conditions requisite by God's ordination, and they upon God's love, and the same known to us, and so the continuance of them upon the continuance of it; the question is properly and principally of the love of God to us, and the unchangeableness thereof.
For, Rom. xi. 29, they dream waking, that the meaning is, that God will never repent of saving all persons at all times, in all places, that seek salvation by faith ia Christ, and continue therein. If this were all, what needed the apostle, ver. 33, to break out into that admiration of the riches of the wisdom, and knowledge of God, and of the unsearchableness of his judgments ? What strange thing is it, that God should not repent of so gracious a purpose and promise, as is that of saving such as believe in his Son ? Secondly, it is more than evident, that he speaks not here of saving all, at all times, but of the saving of some at some times; namely, of the Israelites in their time, and of the Gentiles in theirs. Rom. xi. 25, 26, 30, 31. Thirdly, the apostle speaks not of saving them that believe, but of giving the election to obtain mercy to believe. Lastly, the words are a reason of that which goes before, the Israelites touching election, are beloved for the fathers' sake, ver. 28. For, or because the gifts and calling of God are without repentance, as if he should have said: though for the present, the body of the Israelites be enemies of the gospel, that is, in not believing it, till the fulness of the Gentiles be come in; yet the election, such as are that Israel, according to election, and God's people which he foreknew, ver. 2, them he loves in his decree unchangeably, for their father, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob's sake, and without repentance; and so will in their time make them actually partakers of his most gracious gift and calling. They here add certain scriptures, and may do many more, proving that God denies the effect to conditional promises, men breaking the conditions first:,but as the scriptures cited by them, speak not all of salvation in Christ; so neither do any other show, that God ever alters purpose, or promise of saving any, whom he once loved in Christ, whether in decree, or application of love.
The last place which they-labour to elude, I 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 manifest, that they were not all of us.” And here, instead of answering directly to the place, they make out-leaps, as their manner is: making us to affirm that God hath predestinated some persons to salvation, and some to damnation without any condition: and that these persons, the elect, making never so great show of wickedness, and walking in the ways of Belial, are still elect, and can by no means fall out of their election: the other persons having never so many testimonies of godliness, and walking in the church of Christ, yet can never but be reprobates, and if ever they fall away from the church, or truth, that they were never truly of it.
We affirm, that God predestinates none to salvation but with condition of the death of Christ, and the persons' coming to years of discretion, faith, and repentance, and continuance therein to the end, to go before that their salvation: nor to damnation, but with condition of sin and impenitency therein to go before that their damnation. But our adversaries being bold and presumptuous, speak evil of the things which they neither know, nor are willing to understand. Only, these two things we further hold in this case. First, that the former conditions, Christ, and faith in him, are God's free gifts also, infallibly and effectually obtained by the former persons; the latter condition, impenitency in sin, the certain effects of Satan's malice, and their own corruption, being left of God thereunto. The second is, that other reason why God hath, of two alike corrupt in themselves, pre-ordained the former to salvation, by the former means; and the latter to condemnation, by the latter; the Scriptures do not acquaint us with, then, the mere pleasure of him, who “hath mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will, he hardeneth;” and who hath loved Jacob, and hated Esau, to wit, in decree, the children not being yet born, neither having done either good or evil. Rom. ix. 11, 15, 18. Secondly, we say not that the elect so remain, though walking in the ways of Belial; but deny, that ever they so walk after their effectual calling, though, through the remainders of corruption, in some more strong than in others, they have not only their common slidings, but often their greater falls, from which they recover themselves by repentance: the spirit always lusting against the flesh, and they in regard of the law of their mind, and spiritual man, not allowing, but hating the evil, which through the sin dwelling in them, they do, Rom. vii. 15, 17, 23.
Neither, on the other side, do the reprobates ever show any one, much less many, true testimonies of godliness; though many seeming such oftentimes, both in their own judgments of themselves, and other men's of them. He that should challenge a man for affirming, that it could not but be light at midday, nor but be dark at midnight, in comparison, that he affirmed, that it could not but be light at noon, though the sun should not be up; nor but be dark at midnight, though the sun were not set; should but use slanderous cavillation: even such, and no better, is their collection upon our assertion.
Where they add, that as all men's estates are one by creation, and one by transgression, all being dead in sins; and that, as all are shut up in unbelief, so he hath mercy on all, to wit, every particular person alike, they misinterpret the scripture, as hath been formerly shown; mistake the proportion of nature, whether by creation, or corruption, with that of mere grace; and are most impious against God's mercy, which they make all one towards Pharaoh and Moses; Herod and Paul. Besides it should follow hereupon, that God hath mercy actually on all and every person in the world, in taking away their sins, and saving them; for the apostle whose words they cite, speaks expressly of such an “all” as obtain mercy that way. Rom. xi. 26, 27, 30, 31. With like truth do they after affirm, from Matt. xiii. that the sower soweth the seed of salvation upon all. It cannot with modesty be denied, but there are, and have been many millions, unto whom the gospel, the only seed of salvation, was never preached. And as they begin, so go they on with this parable; as being of them, in whose mouth a parable is like the legs of the lame that are lifted up, and like a thorn that goes up into the hand of a drunkard. Prov. xxvi. 7, 9. As first, where by the good seed they understand the seed of salvation, or gospel, and by tares, false doctrines: as if they knew the mind of our Saviour, better than he himself: who expressly teacheth, that the good seed are the children of the kingdom, so called, because they are the heirs of their Father's kingdom, in which the righteous are to shine forth as the sun, ver. 43, and the tares the children of the wicked one, which do iniquity, are to be gathered by the angels in the end of the world, and cast into the furnace of fire, &c., ver. 38—43. And if the good seed were the gospel, and the tares false doctrines, as they, transforming persons into things, would make them; yet is it untruly affirmed by them, that the persons of them who receive the good seed were no better than the other, nor the persons of them who receive the tares any worse than the other. That both are alike, to wit, dead in sin, when God offereth the gospel, we willingly grant, and are glad to hear them confess: but to say they are both alike, when the one receives the gospel, and the other refuseth it, and receives the tares contrary unto it, is to say that the good ground, and the bad, are both alike. For what makes them that are alike, when the gospel comes alike unto them, not to remain alike still ? And what is the reason why the one receives it, and not the other ? They say, because the goodness of the sower first sowed it, and therefore he hath cause to praise him only. But, say I, this goodness is alike to both the two in sowing, or offering the gospel's seed: whereupon it must follow, that he who receives this good seed, hath no more cause to praise God the sower, than he that receives it not: for it is sown alike in both, in regard of outward offer; but for the one's receiving of it, rather than the other, he hath cause to thank himself alone, and his own free-will. And indeed this is the mark at which all those adversaries' arrows are shot. But the Scriptures teach us a further thing, than these ungrateful persons will acknowledge; which is, that besides, and above the offer common to both, God gives the increase, 1 Cor. iii. 7, to some, without which, all preaching is nothing: even by opening of the heart to attend unto it, as he did the heart of Lydia. Acts xvi. 14. And as persons receive the Word of God into their hearts by his opening them first, so in that his gracious work in them, he makes them which were before alike, in spiritual consideration, to become unlike, and better than others; and so more beloved than others for the godly qualities, as they call them, which he hath wrought in them. Neither doth the Lord hate only the works of wicked men, as they say; but also the workers of iniquity, Psa. v. 5, 6: not with a passion of the mind, as hatred is in man, but with a holy will to punish the violation of his righteous law. And though with a general love of the Creator to the creature, he always, after a sort, loves the persons of men, as being his generation, yet he loves, as is meet, the honour of his holiness, more than the happiness of his creature, having violated and profaned it without repentance.
They further betray their ignorance, where they think to mend the matter, in saying, that God hates the persons, as weapons, and instruments of those wicked qualities. Where hath God ever so spoken, or any other man before them? The godly qualities, or graces of knowledge, faith, love, patience, and the like, 2 Cor. vi. 6, 7, are the spiritual armour and weapons of godly men, Eph. vi. 13, &c.; the members also of men are called the weapons of righteousness, or unrighteousness, Rom. vi. 13, for that with them they practise and perform the works thereof. But to say, the persons are weapons and instruments of the qualities, is to put the person in the hand of the weapon to be used by it; whereas on the contrary, all know, that the weapon or instrument is in the hand of the person, and to be used and exercised by him. They here, in desiring the reader well to observe what they have said, as being a most blessed truth, are loth that their nakedness should not be seen in their spiritual drunkenness.
apostacy in general.
Now for the words of the apostle, to which they return after so long wandering; their comment is, they went out from us, &c., that is, say they, “those lying spirits, those persons who had once the spirit of truth in them, went out from the apostles and other saints.” And again, those “lying spirits and antichrists in men's persons, went out from the truth and were never of the truth,” the sum of all being, that lying spirits, and antichrists in men's persons, went out of the truth. 1 John ii. 19.
A riddle, better fitting H. N. than the professors of the truth in simplicity. It behoves us therefore a little to insist upon the text, opening it according to the apostle's meaning, and to ours with him; and first proving against them, that by those that went out, are not meant the lying spirits in the persons, but the persons themselves.
And first, these words, “they went out from us,” or better, from out of us, show, that those out-goers were formerly of them in a respect; else how could they have gone out from them? But lying spirits were never of the apostles and saints; but the persons themselves were. Secondly, he saith not, as they corrupt the text, “if they had been of the truth,”but “of us;” nor “they would have continued with it,” but “with us:” nor, “but they are not of it,” but “they were not of us:” all carrying it to persons so, and so qualified. Thirdly, is it to be conceived, that the apostle would complain, as here he doth, that lying spirits did not continue with the churches ? Fourthly, in saying, “they went out of us, that it might be manifest that they were not all of us,” he shows that by their out-leaps, something was manifested which was hid before. But it was plain before, to the apostles and saints, that lying spirits were not of the truth. He speaks therefore of the persons of hypocrites, whom by this their professed defection, God discovered. Fifthly, in saying, “they were not all of us,” he insinuates that some of them were; what! some lying spirits of the truth ? No; but that not all the persons that formerly professed the truth with them, were true members of Christ's body, which they were. Lastly, ver. 20, he makes an opposition between them of whom he writes, and to whom. “But ye:” What? ye spirits; and so, ver. 28, “little children,” that is, little spirits. All may see with what spirit these men are led. He then speaks of the going out of persons, not of spirits, as they mean; but being indeed antichrists, as, ver. 18, in regard of their spirits, and doctrines, for which they pretend the spirit of Christ.
That which they add of the spirit of Hymeneus, together with his person, being in fellowship with Paul, is like the rest. By his spirit it seems they mean his faith, in saying faithful Hymeneus was of the truth; erroneous Hymeneus was never of it. Hath the faith of a person fellowship with the saints ? Or did Hymeneus ‘faith, 1 Tim. i. 19, 20, sometimes hold faith and a good conscience, and after put them away ? Or are not these things plainly spoken of the persons of men ? Paul speaking that of Hymeneus, and others, which he knew in regard of outward appearance, and not that which he knew not of, the inward truth in the heart.
The meaning of John is plain enough, that these antichrists went out of the church, 1 John ii. 18—22; iv. 1, not by making any separation, or schism from it, as some think, for they still continued in the outward fellowship, preaching, and prophesying and deceiving; but in it, by heresy and profaneness, contrary to that outward profession of faith, and holiness, which they had formerly made: by which their defection they showed, that they were never truly regenerate, and inwardly and indeed living members of the body: but having been hypocrites, at their best, God so ordered, that they should hereby discover themselves. For had they been indeed of the number of the faithful, they had so continued to the end. Which truth this apostle confirms further, 1 John iii. 9, very evidently, saying, “whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin:” for his, that is, God's seed remaineth in him, and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. He doth not say, as some would have him, he cannot sin, or commit sin, that is, give himself to sin, as the wicked do, whilst the seed of God remains in him, or whilst he is born of God; but for, or because, this seed of the new birth remaineth in him.
One observation I will here annex, and so conclude this head. It cannot be, saith Christ, but offences will come. Matt, xviii. 7. And of all offences, none is greater, and which more wounds the tender heart of a weak Christian, than when he sees such, as by their former profession and appearances, have purchased to themselves the opinion of piety and godliness, to apostate and fall away from that their former profession; either to gross error, or profaueness. This occasions him to suspect, Satan by suggestions of unbelief, furthering him herein, that there is not in the course of Christianity, that power of grace, stableness, and true comfort, which it promiseth. This stone of offence, which Satan's malice casts in the way, God's Spirit removeth in providing, that where there is in the Scriptures, either mention, or insinuation of man's falling away from the grace of God, there is withal commonly an item given in the same place, that such persons were never effectually sanctified, but hypocrites, at their best, whatsoever they seemed either to others, or to themselves. Thus, where some at the first, receiving the word with joy, are after, when tribulation or persecution ariseth, offended, Matt. xiii. 20; others have made some growth, yet become unfruitful by the cares of the world and deceitfulness of riches: the Lord would have us take knowledge, that such were never better than stony and thorny ground. Thus, that Judas being lost, was none of them whom the Father had given unto Christ, but a child of perdition. John xvii. 12. Thus where, Israel did not obtain that which it sought for, but was broken off, yet that the election obtained it: “the gifts and calling of God being without repentance.” Rom. xi. 7, 17, 29. Thus, that they, which fall, are such as think, that is presume, that they stand, rather than even do so indeed. 1 Cor. x. 12, 13. Thus, that though some come to err concerning the truth formerly professed by them, yet the foundation of God stands steady, having this seal: “the Lord knoweth who are his.” 2 Tim. ii. 18, 19. Thus, that if some enlightened, and tasting of the heavenly gifts, &c. fall away, it is they that are dull of hearing, like the earth, that beareth but thorns and briars, notwithstanding the rain's falling upon it. Heb. vi. 4—6. Thus, that false teachers, and such as follow their pernicious ways, were at first and best, but men creeping in unawares. 2 Pet. ii. 1; Jude 4. Lastly, that such as went out of the fellowship of the apostles and churches, in the outward profession of faith, and holiness, were never truly, aad inwardly of them, as was made manifest in due time.