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relation to him, and in union with his mystical body, depends on the perseverance of their faith, even that union on which a title to all spiritual and saving benefits depends, which is more fully spoken of in the 21st and following verses. This perseverance of believers seems to be the benefit which is the principal subject of this whole praver. And in Luke xxii. 31, 32. it is implied, that if Peter's faith had failed, Satan would have had him: “And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat; but I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not.” 1 Pet. i. 5. " Who are kept by the power of God, through faith unto salvation." Where it seems implied, that if they were not kept through faith, or if their faith did not persevere, they never would come to salvation. So, believers being overthrown in their faith, or their not knowing Christ's voice and following him, is called a being plucked out of Christ's hand; and it is implied, that the consequence would be their perishing. It also seems to be implied, that their possession of eternal life by Christ's gift depends on their perseverance; John x. 27, 28. “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me; and I will give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish, neither shall any pluck them out of mine hand.” And in the 15th chapter of John, believers persevering in faith in Christ, or their abiding in him, is spoken of as necessary to the continuance of the saving union and relation that is be. tween Christ and believers, and Christ's abiding in them; as ver. 4, 5. “ Abide in me, and I in you,-I am the vine, ye are the branches. He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit." And in the 6th verse, it is spoken of the necessary consequence of their not abiding in Christ, if that were possible ; that the union should be utterly broken between Christ and them, and that damnation should be the consequence. - If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered, and men gather them and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.” And in the 7th verse this perseverance of faith is spoken of as the necessary means of the success of faith as expressed in prayer, which is faith's voice, necessary to obtain those good things which faith and prayer seek. “ If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you." And in the 9th and 10th verses, it is implied that Christ's acceptance of us, and favour to us as his, depends on our perseverance: “ As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you. Continue ye in my love. If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love, even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love." So, the same perseverance is spoken of as necessary to our continuing in the favour and grace of God. - Now, when the congregation was broken up, many of the Jews and religious proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas, who speaking to them, persuaded them to continue in the grace of God.”--And so it is spoken of as necessary to continuing in the goodness of God ; and being cut off, is spoken of as a certain consequence of the contrary. Rom. xi. 22. “Behold therefore, the goodness and severity of God; on them which fell, severity ; but towards thee goodness if thou continue in his goodness : otherwise, thou also shalt be cut off." That expression, of standing fast in the Lord, 1 Thess. iii. 8. and Phil. iv. I. implies that perseverance is necessary to a continuing in Christ, or in a saving relation to him ; and more plainly still in 1 John ii. 24. "Let that therefore abide in you which you have heard from the beginning. If that which ye have heard from the beginning shall remain in you, ye also shall continue in the Son and in the Father." See I Cor. xv. 2. and 2 Tim. iv. 7, 8. and Heb. xii. 28. See also Jer. iii. 19.

§ 19. Concerning the objection from Ezekiel xviii. 24. “ If the righteous shall fall from his righteousness and commit iniquity, all his righteousness shall not be remembered; but in the iniquity which he hath done shall he die,” and the like ; God saying this does not at all prove, that it is supposed pos. sible that a truly righteous man should fall from bis righteousness; any more than God's saying, Levit. xviii. 4,5. “ Ye shall do my judgments and keep mine ordinances, to walk therein: I am the Lord your God; ye shall therefore keep my statutes and my judgments, which if a man do, he shall even live in them.” The scripture, in saying, he that doeth these things shall live in them, does not design to teach us, that in the present state of things, it is possible for us to do those things in a legal sense, (in which sense the words are certainly proposed, as the apostle teaches ;) but only teaches the certain connexion there is between doing these things and living in them, for wise ends ; particularly to lead us, by such a legal proposal, to see our utter inability to obtain life by our own doings. So the law is our schoolmaster to bring us to Christ. The scripture, in saying, if the righteous shall fall away from his righteousness, he shall die; does not teach us, that in the present state of things, since the fall, it is possible for a truly righteous man to fall from his righteousness; but only teaches us the certain connexion between the antecedent and the consequent, for wise ends: and particularly, that those who think themselves righteous, may beware of falling from righteousness. For it is not unreasonable to suppose that God should put us on bewaring of those things that are already impossible, any more than that he should direct us to seek and pray for those things that are promised and certain.

§ 20. With respect to those texts in Ezekiel--that speak of a righteous man's falling away from his righteousness--the doctrine of perseverance was not so fully revealed under that dispensation. It was of service to the godly to make them wary ; but especially to those who were legally righteous, and trusted in their own righteousness, as Ezekiel's hearers did ; to convince them of this, that there was a connexion between the antecedent, falling away, and the consequent, the dying in their iniquity. Jer. xxxi. 39, 40." And I will give them one heart, and one way, that they may fear me for ever, for the good of them, and of their children after them; and I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from them, to do them good; but I will put my fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from me." And it is 60 spoken of once and again by this very prophet, chap. xi. 17-21, and chap. xxxvi. 24—29. Yea, in this very chapter, after he had been declaring the danger of falling away from righteousness, the children of Israel seem to be exhorted to this very thing as a remedy against falling away ; ver. 31. s. Cast away from you all your transgressions, whereby ye have transgressed, and make you a new heart and a new spirit; for why will ye die, 0 house of Israel ?” They needed not only to turn from their transgressions, but to cast them away utterly, to have finally done with them, and to make them a new heart, for the prophet declares, that their old heart was a backsliding heart, bent to backslide, as the prophet often complains.

§ 21. The godly themselves were really exposed to die in their iniquity, i. e. they were liable to be destroyed by God's awful judgments in this world. The prophet has a special eye to those destroying judgments that God had lately brought on the the nation of the Jews, which are very much the subject of the prophecy, and seem to have given occasion for it, and which the Jews had respect to in the proverb which they used, and which gave occasion to what is said in this chapter. If the sinner turned from his outward wickedness, into an outward righteousness only, he would save his soul alive with regard to those outward calamities; and if the righteous fell away outwardly by committing some grievous sin, and getting into a bad way, they exposed themselves to die by this their iniquity in this manner.

$ 22. That there is a real difference between them that fall away, and then that persevere, even before they fall away, is evident by the things that are given as a reason of their falling away ; because they have no root in themselves; because they have not counted the cost, and because they have no oil in their vessels. Those that have no root, differ from those who have root, before there be the effect of their having no root; And so those that have no oil, &c. And it appears again, by what is said, John ii. 23, &c. that " when Christ was at Jerusalem at the passover, in the feast day, many believed in his name, when they saw the miracles which he did. But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men, and needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man." And so, “ They went out from us, because they were not of us. If they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us."

§ 23. Objection. But it is in the same chapter said, “That if a wicked man turn from his wickedness, and do that which is lawful and right, he shall live :" where doubtless must be understood by doing that which is lawful and right," sincere and gracious righteousness, because there is a promise of life. And we must doubtless understand doing that which is lawful and right here in the same sense as before. Answer. We may understand it in the same sense, for an external, visible, material righteousness. When it is said, if he turn from his iniquity and do that which is lawful and right, it must be understood, if he continues so to do and do not turn from it again. According to the schemes of both Arminians and Calvinists, this must be understood. Whereby the objection is overthrown.

Visible Christians are, in Scripture, called saints, or holy; which is equivalent to the calling them righteous. The Jews are called an holy nation: the land is a land of uprightness ; when only visibility is intended. By righteous, sometimes is meant only innocent, or materially righteous in some particular. “Wilt thou, also, destroy a righteous nation ?" Gen. XX. 4. Exod. xxiii. 7. “ The innocent and the righteous, slay thou not:" Deut. xxv. 1. Ye shall justify the righteous, and condemn the wicked :" 1 Sam. iv, 11.

" How much more, when wicked men have slain a righteous person?” 2 Kings x. 9. By the righteous man that the prophet Ezekiel speaks of, he certainly does not speak in so limited a sense as to mean those that are of perfect and upright hearts, but so as to include those of an unsound heart, that trust in their own righteousness to commit iniquity ; (see Ezek. xxxiii. 13;) i. e. those whose motive is only self-love, and their own safety, and so trust that they have righteousness enough to render them safe, though they do commit sin. Those that are only restrained from committing sin by fear, and are ready to embrace, and are glad of opportunities of committing sin with impunity; these cannot be such as the sincerely righteous are often described to be, viz. such as love God with all their hearts and souls ; that love the way of his commandments; that choose the way of his commands, &c. The reason why some do not persevere, is, that there is not now a right heart in them; as is evident by Deut. v. 29. 66 O that there were such an heart in them, that they would fear me, and keep my commandments!" &c.

$ 24. When it is said, “If a righteous man turn from his righteousness, and commit iniquity, his righteousness shall not be remembered, but he shall die in his iniquity ;" we need not, according to the Scripture manner of expression, understand any thing, but his seeming righteousness, or the righteousness that he seemeth to have. Christ has often such an aphorism as this, “ Whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance ; but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath ;" which he applies to that apparent godliness, grace, or piety, which natural men have, as is evident by the contexts, and the occasions of his using this aphorism ; as Matt. xiii. 12. and Matt. xxv. 29. and Mark iv. 25. This, in another place, is explained thus :“ Whosoever hath, to him shall be given ; and whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken even that which he seemeth to have;" Luke viii. 18. Being a righteous man, does, indeed, commonly signify to be one that is truly and sincerely godly. And so is believing in Christ mentioned frequently as the dis. tinguishing character of one that is truly Christ's disciple. Yet we read of some that are said to believe, who, even at that very time, are spoken of as wanting something necessary to make them true disciples : John ii. 23, 24, 25. “Now when he was in Jerusalem at the passover, in the feast day, many believed in his naine, when they saw the miracles which he did. But Jesus did not commit himself to them because he knew all men; and needed not that any should testify of man, for he knew what was in man.” These words intimate, that though they believed, yet Christ knew that they had not that in them then, that was to be depended on for perseverance; which implies, that if they were true believers, of a right prin. ciple, their perseverance might be depended on. And we are elsewhere told, why some that believe, endure but for a while, and do not persevere, viz. because they have no root in them. selves.

$ 25. That there is an essential difference between the faith and seeming grace of such professors as fall away, and such as persevere, even before any distinction appears as to perse. verance, or while both retain their religion, is exceedingly ma. nifest by John vi. 61, 65. “ But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him. And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto bim of my Father.” And verse 70: “And Jesus answered them, Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil ? " Here, before Judas had fallen away, he is said not to believe, and to be a devil. Now Judas was a professing disciple, and a distinguished one. He was a visible believer. Christ speaks of him as one that had

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