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A VINDICATION OF THE DOCTRINE OF ■lilt CLMITAIN■TY OF THE PERSEVERANCE OF THE SAINTS; BEING A REPLY TO THE OBJECTIONS AGAINST THIS DOCTRINE, WHICH AHE CONTAINED IN Mil. HANGS* FIFTH LETTER.
MR. BANGS suggests an idea in his Fifth Letter, which seems calculated to preclude our saying any thing more in vindication of our doctrine. 1 have therefore thought it would be proper to look at this idea, before I proceed to the proposed vindication. The idea, to .which I refer, will be found in the following quotation: "I would ask, is it not possible to be mistaken in your sentiment on this subject? If you say no, then you set up for infallibility; a claim which the protectant world will not, it is presumed, allow you.—If you say it is possible to be mistaken, you give up the point, and grant the possibility of totally falling from grace. If you say it is not possible, because the scriptures are in your favor, you thereby assume nearly as high ground as the Pope still; because the reply supposes you cannot mistake the meaning of scripture. By granting the bare possibility of mistaking the design of those scriptures you have quoted* to support your doctrine, you grant all I contend for, and acknowledge that it is possible for a saint so to fall as to perish forever. This argument cannot be retorted upon us, for we allow the possibility of a believer's persevering steadfast to the end: and also that there is no necessity for any one to apostatize from the faith." p. 210, 2*1.
I do not sec ■why the argument cannot be retorted■ vipon them. Here is a point of doctrine in dispute between us, namely, Whether, according to the structure of the covenant of grace, it be possible th.it any heaven boin son! should be lost? They affirm it is possible; ve deny. Now, it is certain, that we differ no mote f.-oni them on this point, than they do from us. And -we have as good a right to say to them, May you not bs mistaken? as they to ssy so to us. . If, to piove they r.re not mistaken, they proceed to show that the sciipttirc is in their favor, we should have equal right to tell them, that by this they "assumed nearly as high ground as vhe Po/ie" Advancing a senter.ee or two beyond the nhove quotation, Mr. l,. says; "No'.v any thing is pesiible which dots not involve a contradiction; which no nan, I think, will contend that the doctiine contended fordoes." He intends the doctrine■ of a possibility of fulling from a state of grace. The universalist, in contending with my antagonist, might raise just such an argument ;—he might say, "Mr. B. are you certain yen are right in opposing the dectrine of the salvation (.f all men? Now any thing is possible which does net involve a contradiction ; Vihich no man I think will contend, that the doctrine of a universal sahpticn dees; for if God can save one, he cut) saie a!!.■' If Mr P, should say, " 1 am certain that I am ti^ht in opposing ; 'hi, not because there is any impossibilit) in itself considered, that all men should he saved ; tut the scriptures are most pointedly against ycur dextrine, and theitfore 1 know you are wrong," might tot the universalis! reply, " You thereby astur.it f.eaily as high gi cund as the Pope still V .»;
The dispute between mc End ir.y ilntagcnist, is net whether it is, in itself considered, possible that-holiness should be lost ' utcf the heartofrny cm.ti d intelligent; but whether it is possible it should he lost cut of tie hearts of the mints, in consistency with the gracious rovenantm which they arc interested. The fifth question in the Debate was, (I believe,) in these words; Will any one who is united to Christ, by a xi.al union, so foil ali-ay as to f,cris/i? Boih sk.es of this question ci-.n» not be 'rue, therefoie the Bible can say nothing only en one side cf it. The Bible has, no doubt, reflected su1
ficieiU light on this question, to put it beyond all uncertainly. We do not ask any to believe as we do, merely because we believe so. This would do them no good. But as we believe, so we must apeak. Our opponents have the same liberty. Still to God we are under perfect obligation to speak nothing contrary to what he has spoken.
The text which laid the foundation for the 5th Sermon, was John vi. 4?. Verity, verily, 1 say unto you, He that btlitveih on me hath everlasting life. It was supposed, that the truth contained in the text amounted to this; That the true believer in Christ cannot Jail atvay to as to full af eternal blessedness: or in other words, That every true believer will fiersevere unto the end.
The two pillars, which were considered as sufficient to support the doctrine of the certain perseverance of all real saints, are the covenant of■redemption, wad the covenant of grace. By the covenant of redemption, we understand that covenant concerning the redemption ot tinners, which eternally existed between the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost, those three who bear record in heaven, who are one. Mr. B thinks the scriptures do not favor the idea of the existence of any such covenant. One reason, which he seems to suggest against the existence of such a covenant, is this, That the Persons of the Godhead are essentially one. But they are not one in such a sense, as to exclude their being also in a sense three ; else why does Mr. B. himself speak of three Persons in the Godhead? Their unity does not prevent their promising, and performing to each other. Thus in the second Psalm, the Father says to his Son, "Ask of me, and / shall give the heathen for thine inheritance." So in the 110th Psalm, "The Lord, (i. e. Jehovah the Father,) " said unto my Lord," (i. e. the Lord Christ,) " Sit thou" kc.—Again in the same Psalm; "The Lord hath sworn and will not repent, Thcu art a priest forever." In the 49th chapter of Isaiah, the Father says to the Sen, "1 will give thee for a covenant unto the people." in the 17th chapter of John, the Son says to the Father, " J have glorified thee on the earth : I have finished the work which thcu gavest me to do." ■1 his implies, that there was a certain work assigned him, rnd which he engaged to perform, and that he had fulfilled his engagement hy performing the work. He then makes application for the reward promised ; " And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self." Christ promised to send the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, when he should go to the Father. He says, " He shall glorify me : for he shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you." John xvi. 14. It appears from these passages, and from others which might be introduced, that each person in the Godhead has a part to act in the work of saving sinners, and that there is a perfect concert in their work. It would not even be necessary that we should be able to find the word covenant, used in application to this holy concert between the Persons of the Trinity; if we find the thing, it is all which concerns us.
That there is a concert, exhibited to us under the form of a mutual stipulation between the Persons of the Trinity, about the salvation of sinners, will appear with clearness, by examining the scriptures. The passage already quoted from the 2nd Psalm, implies a covenanti where the Father, who is represented as just having exalted his Son to sit on the holy hill of Zion, says, " Ask —and I will give thee the heathen." It is implied, that there was a grant of the Gentiles previously made to the Redeemer, upon his resurrection and ascension; and that now, upon his making intercession for them, they were to be given him for his possession.
In the 89th Psalm, where the Lord is said to make a covenant with his chosen, and to swear unto David his servant, there can be no reasonable doubt but that more is intended, than the real covenant with the literal David. This man after God's own heart, was in almost every thing typical of Christ. From references to the book of Psalms, which we find made in the New Testament, we are led to the conclusion, that Christ is the great Personage, to which much of that inspired book ultimately relates. If theie are many things written in the Psalms concerning Christ, it would be exceedingly unnatural to suppose that no reference is had to him and his church in this 89th Psalm. What does this language import ?" For I have said, Mercy shall be built up forever: thy faithfulness shalt thou establish in the very heavens. I have made a am mint with my chosen, I have sworn unto David my servant, Thy seed will I establish forever, and build up thy throne to all genera'ions." No doubt, primary refeience is had to the covenant of royalty with David, in which there was a promise, that his seed should sit upon his throne after him r But the mercy of which the Psalmist speaks, which shall he built ufi forever, most naturally leads us to the kingdom of grace, which is an everlasting kingdom. How naturally are we led to the great Antitype, by what we find in the 19th and 20th verses: Then thou ■ifiakcst in vision to thy holy one, and saidst, I have laid Jiel/t on one that is mighty : I have exalted one chosen out of the fieofite. J have found David my servant ; with my holy oil have I anointed him. How much more applicable to the Antitype than to the type, are these words; Also I will make him my first born, higher than .'he kings of the earth. And can any one doubt of the :ipplicableness of the following verses to the mystical David, and his spiritual seed? My mercy will I kee/ifor him forcvermore, and my covenant shall stand fast with him. His seed also will I make to endure forever, and bin throne a.v the days of heaven. If his children forsake iny law, and walk not in my judgments; if they break my statutes and keep not my commandments; Then will J visit their transgression with the rod, and their iniquity with stri/ies. Nevertheless, my loving kindness I will not utterly take from him, nor suffer my faithfulness to-fail. My covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing which it gone out of my lifts. Once have J sworn by my holiness, that I will not lie unto David. His seed shall endure forever, and his throne as the sun before me. If this scripture will bear to be applied to the kingdom of the Son and Lord of David, the only kingdom which will be established forever, and endure as the sun; then these lessons of instruction are clearly taught in it: 1. That there is a stable covenant between Jehovah, the Father, and Jehovah Jesus, the Son, which they are bound by their holiness to fulfil to each other. 2. This covenant between the Father and the Son, has respect to the itpiritual seed of Christ, for he has no other than a spiritual seed. Separately from the covenant made with the seed themselves, there is evidently a covenant made with Christ, as the Head of this holy seed. 3. It