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5. We cannot by our best works merit pardon of sin or eternal life at the hand of God, by reason of the great disproportion that is between them and the glory to come, and the infinite distance that is between us and God, whom by them we can neither profit nor satisfy for the debt of our (o) former sins; but when we have done all we can, we have done but our duty, and are unprofitable servants; and because as they are good they proceed from his (P) Spirit, and as they are wrought by us they are defiled (Q) and mixed with so much weakness and imperfection, that they cannot endure the severity of God's judgment.
(0) Rom. iii. 20.-Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight; for by the law is the knowledge of sin. Eph. ii. 8, 9.-For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves. It is the gift of God. Not of works, lest any man should boast. Rom. iv. 6.-Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works.
(P) Gal. v. 22. 23.-But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance; against such there is no law.
(Q) Isa. Ixiv. 6.—But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away. Ps. cxliii. 2.-And enter not into judgment with thy servant: for in thy sight shall no man living be justified.
6. Yet notwithstanding the persons of believers being accepted through Christ, their good works also are accepted in (R) him; not as though they were in this life wholly unblameable and unreprovable in God's sight, but that he, looking upon them in his Son, is pleased to accept and reward that which is (s) sincere, although accompanied with many weaknesses and imperfections.
(R) Eph. i. 6.-To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. 1 Pet. ii. 5.-Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.
(s) Matt. xxv. 21, 23.-His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord. Heb. vi. 10.-For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints and do minister.
7. Works done by unregenerate men, although for the matter of them they may be things which God commands, and of good use both to themselves and (r) others; yet because they proceed not from a heart purified by (u) faith, nor are done in a right manner according to the (w) word, nor to a right end, the (x) glory of God, they are therefore sinful, and cannot please God, nor make a man meet to receive grace from (r) God, and yet their neglect of them is more sinful and (z) displeasing to God.
(T) 2 Kings x. 30.-And the Lord said unto Jehu, Because thou hast done well in executing that which is right in mine eyes, and hast done unto the house of Ahab according to all that was in mine heart, thy children of the fourth generation shall sit on the throne of Israel. 1 Kings xxi. 27, 29.-And it came to pass when Ahab heard these words, that he rent his clothes, and put sackcloth upon his flesh, and fasted, and lay in sackcloth, and went softly. eest thou how Ahab humbleth himself before me? Because he humbleth himself before me, I will not bring the evil in his days; but in his son's days will I bring the evil upon his house.
(u) Gen. iv. 5.—But unto Cain, and to his offering, he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell. Heb. xi. 4, 6.-By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained
witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he, being dead, yet speaketh. But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
(w) 1 Cor. xiii. 1.-Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal.
(x) Matt. vi. 2, 5.-Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. And when thou pravest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
(y) Amos v. 21 22.-I hate, I despise your feast days, and I will not smell in your solemn assemblies. Though ye offer me burnt offerings, and your meat offerings, I will not accept them; neither will I regard the peace offerings of your fat beasts. Rom. ix. 16. So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy. Tit. ii. 5.-Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost.
(z) Job xxi. 14, 15.-Therefore they say unto God, Depart from us; for we desire not the knowledge of thy ways. What is the Almighty, that we should serve him? and what profit should we have, it we pray unto him? Matt. xxv. 41, 42, 43. Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in; naked, and ye clothed me not; sick and in prison, and ye visited me not.
OF THE PERSEVERANCE OF THE SAINTS.
1. Those whom God hath accepted in the beloved, effectually called and sanctified by his Spirit, and given the precious faith of his elect unto, can neither totally nor finally fall from the state of grace, (4) but shall certainly persevere therein to the end, and be eternally saved, seeing the gifts and callings of God are without repentance, whence he still begets and nourisheth in them faith, repentance, love, joy, hope, and all the graces of the Spirit unto immortality; and though many storms and floods arise and beat against them, yet they shall never be able to take them off that foundation and rock which by faith they are fastened upon; notwithstanding, through unbelief and the temptations of Satan, the sensible sight of the light and love of God may for a time be clouded and obscured from (B) them, yet he is still the same, (c) and they shall be sure to be kept by the power of God unto salvation, where they shall enjoy their purchased possession, they being engraven upon the palm of his hands, and their names having been written in the book of life from all eternity.
(A) John x. 28, 29. And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall, any pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand. Phil. i. 6. Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you, will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ. 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. 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.
(B) Ps. lxxxix. 31, 32.-If they break my statutes, and keep not my commandments, then will I visit their transgressions with the rod, and their iniquity with stripes. 1 Cor. xi. 32. -But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.
(c) Mal. iii. 6.-For I am the Lord, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.
2. This perseverance of the saints depends not upon their own free will, but upon the immutability of the decree of (D) election, flowing from the free and unchangeable love of God the Father, upon the efficacy of the merit and intercession of Jesus Christ (E) and union with him, the (F) oath of God, the abiding of his Spirit, and the (G) seed of God within them, and the nature of the (H) covenant of grace; from all which ariseth also the certainty and infallibility thereof.
(D) Rom. viii. 30.-Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. Chap. ix. 11, 16.-For the children being not yet børn, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might staud, not of works, but of him that calleth. So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that ruuneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.
(E) Rom. v. 9, 10.-Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son; much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. John xiv. 19.-Yet a little while and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me because I live, ye shall live also.
(F) Heb. vi. 17, 18.-Wherein God. willing more abundantly to shew unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath. That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us.
(G) 1 John iii. 9.-Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.
(H) Jer. xxxii. 40.—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.
3. And though they may, through the temptation of Satan and of the world, the prevalency of corruption remaining in them, and the neglect of means of their preservation, fall into grievous (1) sins, and for a time continue therein, whereby they incur (K) God's displeasure and grieve his Holy Spirit, come to have their graces and (L) comforts impaired, have their hearts hardened, and their consciences wounded, (M) hurt and scandalize others, and bring temporal judgments (N) upon themselves, yet they shall renew their (o) repentance and be preserved through faith in Christ Jesus to the end.
(1) Matt. xxvi. 70, 72, 74.-But he denied before them all, saying, I know not what thou sayest. And again he denied with an oath, I do not know the man. Then began he to curse and to swear, saying, I know not the man, and immediately the cock crew.
(K) Isa. lxiv. 5, 9.-Thou meetest him that rejoiceth and worketh righteousness; those that remember thee in thy ways: behold thou art wroth; for we have sinned: in those is continuance, and we shall be saved. Be not wroth very sore. O Lord, neither remember iniquity for ever: behold, see, we beseech thee, we are all thy people, Eph. iv. 30.-And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.
(L) Ps. li. 10, 12.-Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.
(M) Ps. xxxii. 3, 4.-When I kept silence, my bones waxed old through my roaring all the day long. For day and night thy hand was heavy upon me: my moisture is turned into the drought of summer. Selah.
OF THE ASSURANCE OF GRACE AND SALVATION.
(N) 2 Sam. xii. 14.-Howbeit, because by this deed thou hast given great occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme, the child also that is born unto thee shall surely die.
(0) Luke xxii. 32, 61, 62.—But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren. And the Lord turned, and looked upon Peter: and Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. And Peter went out and wept bitterly.
OF THE ASSURANCE OF GRACE AND SALVATION.
1. Although temporary believers, and other unregenerate men, may vainly deceive themselves with false hopes and carnal presumptions of being in the favour of God and state of salvation, (A) which hope of theirs shall perish; yet such as truly believe in the Lord Jesus, and love him in sincerity, endeavouring to walk in all good conscience before him, may in this life be certainly assured (B) that they are in the state of grace, and may rejoice in the hope of the glory of God, which hope shall never make them (c) ashamed.
(A) Job. viii. 13, 14.-So are the paths of all that forget God; and the hypocrite's hope shall perish: Whose hope shall be cut off, and whose trust shall be a spider's web. Matt. vii. 22, 23.-Many will say to me in that day, 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? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me ye that work iniquity.
(B) 1 John ii. 3.-And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. Chap. iii. 14, 18, 19, 21, 24.-We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren: he that loveth not his brother abideth in death. My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed, and in truth. And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him. Beloved of our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God. And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him: and hereby we know that he abideth in us by the Spirit which he hath given us. Chap. v. 13.-These things have I written unto you that believe on the the name of the Son of God, that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.
(c) Rom. v. 2, 5.-By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts, by the Holy Ghost, which is given unto us.
2. This certainty is not a bare conjectural and probable persuasion grounded upon (D) a fallible hope, but an infallible assurance of faith founded on the blood and righteousness of Christ (E) revealed in the Gospel; and also upon the inward (F) evidence of those graces of the Spirit unto which promises are made, and on the testimony of the (G) Spirit of adoption, witnessing with our spirits that we are the children of God; and, as a fruit thereof, keeping the heart both (H) humble and holy.
(D) Heb. vi. 11, 19.-And we desire that every one of you do shew the same diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the end: Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the vail.
(E) Heb. vi. 17, 18.-Wherein God, willing more abundantly to shew unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath; That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us,
40 OF THE ASSURANCE OF GRACE AND SALVATION.
(F) 2 Pet. i. 4, 5, 10, 11.-Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises, that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. And besides this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue, knowledge. Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure; for if ye do these things ye shall never fall: For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. (G) Rom. viii. 15, 16.-For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear, but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God.
(H) 1 John iii. 1-3.-Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. Beloved, now are we the sons of God; and it doth not yet 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. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is purę.
3. This infallible assurance doth not so belong to the essence of faith, but that a true believer may wait long, and conflict with many difficulties before he be (1) partaker of it; yet being enabled by the Spirit to know the things which are freely given him of God, he may, without extraordinary revelation, in the right use of means, (K) attain thereunto: and therefore it is the duty of every one to give all ailigence to make his calling and election sure, that thereby his heart may be enlarged in peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, in love and thankfulness to God, and in strength and cheerfulness in the duties of obedience, the proper (L) fruits of this assurance;-so far is it (M) from inclining men to looseness.
(1) Isa. 1. 10.—Who is among you that feareth the Lord, that obeyeth the voice of his servant, that walketh in darkness, and hath no light? let him trust in the name of the Lord, and stay upon his God. Likewise read the entire of Ps. lxxxviii.; and Ps. lxxvii. 1–12.
(K) John iv. 13.-Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his spirit. Heb. vi. 11, 12.—And we desire that every one of you do shew the same diligence, to the full assurance of hope unto the end; That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises.
(L) Rom. v. 1, 2, 5.-Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost, which is given unto us. Chap. xiv. 17.-For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink, but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. Ps. cxix. 32.-I will run the way of thy commandments, when thou shalt enlarge my heart.
(M) Rom. vi. 1, 2.-What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? Tit. ii. 11, 12, 14.-For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us, that denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world. Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.
4. True believers may have the assurance of their salvation divers ways shaken, diminished, and intermitted; as (N) by negligence in preserving of it, by (0) falling into some special sin which woundeth the conscience and grieveth the Spirit; by some sudden or (P) vehement temptation, by God's withdrawing the (q) light of his countenance, and suffering even such as fear him to walk in darkness and to have no light, yet are they never destitute of the (R) seed of God and life (s) of faith, that love of Christ and the brethren, that sincerity of heart and conscience of duty out of which, by the opera