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severance, as a promised privilege, disregard all the commands and exhortations to it, as a duty incumbent on us, with the awful threatenings to those who draw back. The true use of these, far from overthrowing the abundant evidence we have for the doctrine, is this, they serve as a proper means, in a way suitable to our rational nature, for God to fulfil his own purpose and promise." Mr. John Hubbard, in the Berry-street Sermons, ser. 24.
§ 28. As to that text, 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?" "There is a sanctification to the purifying of the flesh, and a sanctification to the purifying of the conscience from dead works, to serve the living God; Heb. ix. 13, 14. The sanctification external to the purifying of the flesh, consisteth in the man's separation from the world, and dedication unto God's service, by calling and covenant, common to all the members of the visible church; and it is forcible thus far, as to bring a man into credit and estimation as a saint before men, and unto the common privileges of the church; whereupon as men, so God also, speaketh unto him, and of him, as one of his people, and dealeth with him, in his external dispensation, as with one of his own people. In this sense, all the congre gation of Israel, and every one of them, is called holy. Yea, Core also, and his followers, Num. xvi. 3. The sanctification internal, by renovation, consisteth in a man's separation from the state of nature to the state of grace; from his old conditions to be a new creature indeed. By this latter sort, a reprobate cannot be called sanctified, and that by virtue of the blood of the covenant, albeit he should not get any farther good thereby. Or we may say more shortly, there is a sanctification by consecration, when any thing is devoted or dedicated unto God, and a sanctification by inhabitation of the Holy Spirit; 2 Cor. vi. 17, 18. Of the former sort, the censers of Corah, Dathan, and Abiram, are called holy; and the reason is given, because they offered them before the Lord, thereforethey were hallowed; Num. xvi. 38. And in this sense, all the members of the visible church, even such as afterwards do prove apostates, are sanctified; because they offered, and offer themselves, unto the Lord. That this is the true sense, is confirmed by its being called the blood of the covenant; referring to the manner of sanctifying the people of old by the blood of the covenant; sealing them as a people externally in covenant with God, as the blood of Christ in baptism in like manner seals visible Christians, as externally God's covenant people.-Mr. Dickson, cited by Blake on the Covenant, p. 242.
§ 29. "When St. Paul kept under his body lest he should be a castaway, 1 Cor. ix. 27, he did no otherwise than he was wont to do in temporal concerns, in cases wherein he was beforehand certain of the event. So he sent word to the chief captain of the Jews lying in wait to kill him, lest he should be murdered by them, though it was revealed to him from God, but the very night before, that he should live to see Rome; Acts xxiii. 12-21. So he would not allow the sailors to leave the ship," &c. Bellamy's True Religion, Disc. I. Inference 9.
§ 30. 1 John iii. 6, "Whoever sinneth, hath not seen him, neither known him." This could not be true, if it might be so that a man that has truly seen him, and known him, might finally fall away to sin.
§ 31. Objection, from Scripture cautions against falling away, lest it should issue in damnation.
God had been pleased to connect eternal life with eating the fruit of the tree of life; and therefore, although it was utterly impossible that Adam should have eternal life in himself, after he had fallen, as God's peremptory declara
tion and unalterable constitution had made it impossible; yet we are told, that after the fall, God placed cherubims and a flaming sword to keep the way of the tree of life, lest the man should put forth his hand, and take and eat of the fruit of the tree, and live forever. So God has connected damnation with living in allowed sin, and being overcome by sin, and brought under its power. And therefore, although it be impossible that men, after they are once truly converted, should ever perish, yet they are warned against falling away and yielding to the power of sin, lest they should perish; and the Apostle Paul kept under his body, lest he should be a castaway.
§32. As to the objections from such hypothetical propositions as those, Heb. x. 27, &c., "If we sin wilfully, after we have received the knowledge of the truth;" Heb. vi. 4, &c., " For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, if they fall away," &c. Such hypothetical propositions may be true, when one or both parts of it are impossible, as the truth of such a proposition consists in the connection of the antecedent and consequent; as when our Lord said to the Jews, "If I should say, I know him not, I should be a liar like unto you." See Gill against Whitby, Vol. I. page 271.
§ 33. Objection. That we are required to take CARE and to PRAY that we may persevere. It was impossible for Christ to fail under his trials; and yet how evident is it that he used means, endeavors, care, labor, and earnest prayers, that he might persevere ?
§34. Inquiry. Whether an absolute promise of perseverance does consist with counsels and exhortations to endeavor, and care to persevere.
In answer to this, I would lay down the following positions.
Position I. Things that it is proper for us to seek by earnest and importunate prayer, it is proper for us to use means and labor and care for. The reason is plain: prayer is one kind of seeking the thing; it is using means, and one way of laboring for it, taking care to obtain it, and pursuing after it.
There are many instances of prayer, and commands to pray for things promised. Christ on earth prayed for things promised; and he continually intercedes in heaven for things promised.
Position II. That which it is proper persons should use endeavors, means, and care for, they are properly exhorted to use means and endeavors for.
Position III. That which is proper for another to use means, labors and care for, that he may obtain it, though he knows it is certainly promised, it is proper that we should use means, &c., to obtain for ourselves, though it is promised.
But Christ used means, endeavors, labor, &c., for the salvation of sincerely good men, though it be promised.
§35. That Christian precept, which forbids anxiety in Christians, is a demonstration of the doctrine of perseverance: "Be careful for nothing, but in every thing, by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your request be made known to God."
§ 36. When Satan earnestly strove again to enslave and destroy the Jews, after their return from their captivity, it was given as a reason why he should be disappointed and the people surely preserved, that they were as a brand plucked out of the fire, Zech. iii. 1, 2; so they that are redeemed by Christ from bondage and captivity to sin and Satan, are as brands plucked out of the fire, in a far more eminent manner. Because Christ has not only completed an atonement for sin, but also, a righteousness for us as our surety, and is openly justified and confirmed by God the Father, the Judge of all; therefore the apostle expresses himself as he does, Heb. xiii. 20, “Now the God of peace,
that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you perfect in every good work, to do his will, working in you that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ."
§ 37. Christ labored, fought, took care, denied himself, and suffered for the salvation of sincerely good men; which yet had been before abundantly promised to him, and promised to men in the Old Testament; and Christ himself had promised it. The Scripture represents, that Christ ran a race to win a prize, and endured the cross for the joy that was set before him.
§ 38. That a truly good man will not backslide, is evident from Prov. xiv. 14: "The backslider in heart shall be filled with his own way; and a good man shall be satisfied from himself." Here is a plain opposition, both in the subject and predicate of this proposition; which plainly shows it to be incompatible to a good man, that he should be a backslider.
§ 39. The doctrine of perseverance was in no measure so clearly revealed under the Old Testament; and therefore it was much more proper for God to insist on the evils of apostasy, if it should be, as in Ezekiel. God treated men then according to the revelation he gave them, and the dispensation they were under; as he more frequently exhibited the terms of the covenant of works, saying, "He that doeth them shall live in them :" but not because any could obtain life in this way; nor does his so saying suppose it possible. No more does the threatening denounced to the apostasy of the righteous, any more suppose the thing threatened possible, than this promise supposes the thing to which the promise is made to be possible. God's threatening something on such a condition, does no more imply the condition possible, than his promising something on such a condition, supposes the condition possible. The apostle threatened those that were about to flee out of the ship, that if they fled out, they should not be saved; and yet it had been revealed to him, that they should all be saved.
§ 40. If it were left to the freedom of men's own will, whether men should persevere, in the sense that the Arminians suppose; i. e., to a will not determined by God, but self-determined, then it would be absurd to pray to God that we may persevere; that he would keep us from falling, and that he would uphold our goings in his paths, &c.
§ 41. If grace implanted in the heart be not an infallible sign that a man shall have eternal life, how is the Spirit of God an earnest of glory, when a man may have the Spirit, and yet have no assurance, that he shall be glorified? For every one who has the grace of God implanted in his heart, has the Holy Spirit of God, in his sanctifying influences.
REASONS AGAINST DR. WATTS'S NOTION
PRE-EXISTENCE OF CHRIST'S HUMAN SOUL.
1. God's manner with all creatures, is, to appoint them a trial, before he admits them to glory and confirmed happiness. Especially may this be expected before such honor and glory as the creating of the world, and other things which Dr. Watts ascribes to Christ's human soul.
2. If the pre-existing soul of Christ created the world, then, doubtless, he upholds and governs it. The same Son of God that did one, does the other. He created all things, and by him all things consist. And if so, how was his dominion confined to the Jewish nation, before his incarnation, but extends to all nations since? Besides, there are many things ascribed in the Old Testament to the Son of God, in those very places, which Dr. Watts himself supposes to speak of him, that imply his government of the whole world, and all nations. The same person that is spoken of as King of Israel, is represented as the Governor of the world.
3. According to this scheme, the greatest of the works of the Son in his created nature, implying the greatest exaltation, was his first work of all; viz., his creating all things, all worlds, all things visible and invisible, whether they may be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: and this before ever he had any trial at all of his obedience, &c. At least, this work seems much greater than judging the world at the Last Day; which the Scripture often speaks of as one of the highest parts of his exaltation, which he has in reward for his obedience and sufferings: and Dr. Watts himself supposes his honors, since his humiliation, to be much greater than before.
4. The Scripture represents the visible dominion of Christ over the world as a complex Person; or his sitting at the right hand of God the Father, and governing the world as the Father's vicegerent, as a new thing, after his ascension. But by Dr. Watts's scheme, it cannot be so.
5. Satan or Lucifer, before his fall, was the Morning Star, the Covering Cherub, the highest and brightest of all creatures.
6. On this scheme, it will follow, that the covenant of redemption was made with a person that was not sui juris, and not at liberty to act his own mere good pleasure, with respect to undertaking to die for sinners; but was obliged to comply, on the first intimation that it would be well-pleasing to God, and a thing that he chose.
7. According to that scheme, the man Christ Jesus was not properly the son of the Virgin, and so the son of man. To be the son of a woman, is to receive being in both soul and body, in consequence of a conception in her womb. The soul is the principal part of the man; and sonship implies derivation of the soul as well as the body, by conception. Not that the soul is a part of the mother, as the body is. Though the soul is no part of the mother, and be immediately given by God, yet that hinders not its being derived by conception; it being consequent on it, according to a law of nature. It is agreeable to a
law of nature, that where a perfect human body is conceived in the womb of a woman, and properly nourished and increased, a human soul should come into being and conception may as properly be the cause whence it is derived, as many other natural effects are derived from natural causes and antecedents. For it is the power of God which produces these effects, though it be according to an established law. The soul being so much the principal part of man, a derivation of the soul by conception, is the chief thing implied in a man's being the son of a woman.
8. According to what seems to be Dr. Watts's scheme, the Son of God is no distinct divine Person from the Father. So far as he is a divine Person, he is the same Person with the Father. So that in the covenant of redemption, the Father covenants with himself, and he takes satisfaction of himself, &c. Unless you will say, that one nature covenanted with the other; the two natures in the same person covenanted together, and one nature in the same person, took satisfaction of the other nature in the same person. But how does this confound our minds, instead of helping our ideas, or making them more easy and intelligible!
9. The Son of God, as a distinct Person, was from eternity. It is said, Mic. v. 2, "His goings forth were of old, from everlasting." So Prov. viii. 23, “I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was." So he is called, Isa. ix. 6, "The everlasting Father." I know of no expressions used in Scripture, more strong, to signify the eternity of the Father himself.
10. Dr. Watts supposes the world to be made by the pre-existent soul of Christ; and thinks it may properly be so said, though the knowledge and power of this pre-existent soul could not extend to the most minute parts, every atom, &c.-But it is evidently the design of the Scripture to assure us that Christ made all things whatever in the absolute universality. John i. 3, “ All things were made by him, and without him was not any thing made that was made." Col. i. 16, 17, " For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in the earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers; all things were created by him, and for him; and he is before all things, and by him all things consist." Now, if we suppose matter to be infinitely divisible, it will follow, that let his wisdom and power be as great as they will, if finite, but a few of those individual things that are made were the effects of his power and wisdom: yea, that the number of the things that were made by him, are so few, that they bear no proportion to others, that did not immediately fall under his notice; or that of the thi that are made, there are ten thousand times, yea infinitely more, not made by him, than are made by him :-and so, but infinitely few of their circumstances are ordered by his wisdom.
11. It is said, Heb. ii. 8, "Thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet. For in that he put all in subjection under him, he left nothing that is not put under him." Here it is represented, that God the Father has put every individual thing under the power and government of another person, distinct from himself. But this cannot be true of the human soul of Christ, as it must be according to Dr. Watts's scheme, let the powers of that be never so great, if they are not infinite. For things and circumstances, and dependencies and consequences of things in the world, are infinite in number; and therefore a finite understanding and power cannot extend to them: yea, it can extend to but an infinitely small part of the whole number of individuals, and their circumstances and consequences. Indeed, in order to the disposal of a few things in their motions and successive changes, to a certain precise issue, there is need of infinite exactness, and so need of infinite power and wisdom.