Page images

8. So that, not by their own merits or strength, but by the gratuitous mercy of God they obtain, that they neither totally fall from faith and grace, nor finally continue in their falls and perish. Which, as far as they themselves are concerned, (quoad ipsos) not only might easily be done, but would without doubt be done; but, in respect of God, cannot at all be done; (or take place, fieri ;) as neither can his counsel be changed, his promise fall, their vocation according to his purpose be recalled, the merit, intercession, and guardianship of Christ be rendered void, nor the sealing of the Holy Spirit become vain, or be blotted out.1

9. Of this guarding of the elect to salvation, and the perseverance in the faith of the truly faithful, (vere fidelium,) the faithful themselves may become certain, (assured,) and are, according to the measure of their faith; by which they certainly believe themselves to be, and that they shall perpetually remain, true and living members of the church, have remission of sins and eternal life.2

10. And therefore (proinde) this certainly is not from any peculiar revelation, made beyond, or without, the word of God; but from the belief of the promises, which God hath most copiously revealed in his own word, for our comfort; by the testimony "of the Holy Spirit witnessing with our spirit, that we are the sons and heirs of God."

[ocr errors]

xxxii. 40. 1 Cor. xi. 32. Matt. xxvi. 75. John xxi. 17. 1 Pet.

[blocks in formation]

'John x. 27-30. xiii. 36. xiv. 19. xvii. 24.

viii. 16, 17. 22-39. 2 Cor. i. 2.


Rom. v. 9, 10.

Eph. i. 13, 14. v. 30.

May become certain, not, are all of them, or at all times, certain. Heb. vi. 10, 11. 2 Pet. i. 10, 11. 1 John v. 11-13.

19, 20.

(Rom. viii. 16.) Finally, from the earnest, (or serious, serio) and holy desire (or pursuit, studio) of a good conscience and good works. And of this substantial consolation of the victory to be obtained, and the infallible earnest of eternal glory, if the elect of God could be deprived in this world, they would be of all men the most miserable.".

[ocr errors]

11. In the mean while, the scripture testifies, that the faithful in this life, are assaulted (conflictari) with various doubtings of the flesh, and, being placed under heavy temptation, do not always feel this full assurance of faith and certainty of perseverance. But God, the Father of all consolation, does not "suffer them to be tempted "above their strength, but with the temptation "makes some way of escape:" (præstat evasionem :)2 1 Cor. x. 13: and, by the Holy Spirit, he excites again in them the certainty of perseverance.

12. But so far is this certainty of perseverance from rendering the truly faithful proud and carnally secure, that, on the contrary, it is the true root of humility, of filial reverential fear, of true piety, of patience in every conflict, of ardent prayers, of constancy under the cross, and in the confession of the truth, and of solid joy in God: and the consideration of this benefit is the spur (stimulus) to the serious and continual exercise of gratitude and good works: as appears by the

'Surely this has the stamp of holiness deeply impressed upon it! It is evangelical truth, in that part of it, which is most vehemently accused as tending to laxity of practice, and most frequently misstated by the injudicious, and perverted by enthusiasts and hypocrites, set forth in its genuine and inseparable connexion with good works. 1 Cor. xv. 58. 2 ποιήσει τὴν ἔκβασιν.

testimonies of the scriptures, and the examples of the saints.

13. Neither, even in those who are reinstated after a fall, doth the renewed confidence of perseverance produce licentiousness, or neglect (incuriam) of piety, but much greater care of solicitously keeping the ways of God, which are prepared, that by walking in them they may retain the certainty of their own perseverance: lest, on account of the abuse of his parental benignity, the face of the merciful God, (the contemplation of which is to the pious sweeter than life, and the withdrawing of it more bitter than death,) should again be turned away from them, and so they should fall into heavier torments of the soul.1

14. But, as it hath pleased God to begin this work in us by the preaching of the gospel; so, by the hearing, reading, meditation of the same, by exhortations, threatenings, promises, and moreover by the use of the sacraments, he preserves, continues, and perfects it.2

15. This doctrine, concerning the perseverance of the truly believing and saints, and of its certainty, which God hath abundantly revealed in his word, to the glory of his own name and to the

1 1 Ps. lxxxv. 8.

Is not this a full confutation of those who accuse such as hold this doctrine of rendering all means of grace needless, and all exhortations nugatory? The means to be used by the persons themselves, and by others for them, in whatever form they are employed, constitute a part of that counsel and plan by which God preserves his people, and causes them to walk religiously ' in good works, and at length by his mercy to attain to ever'lasting felicity. Art. xvii. Ch. Eng. Compare Acts xxvii. 22— 24, with 31; and Jude 20, 21, with 24.

comfort of pious souls, and impresses on the hearts of the faithful, the flesh indeed doth not receive, Satan hates, the world derides, the inexperienced (imperiti) and hypocrites violently hurry away (rapiunt) into abuse, and the spirits of error oppose. But the spouse of Christ hath always most tenderly loved it, as a treasure of inestimable value, and hath constantly defended it, (propugnavit,) which indeed that she may do God will take care (procurabit,) against whom neither counsel can avail, nor any strength succeed. To whom, the only God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen.


These fifteen articles are abbreviated, as has been above stated, in the following article.

'ART. V. Of the Certainty of Perseverance. "That such as have once received that grace 'by faith, can never fall from it finally or totally, notwithstanding the most enormous sins they 'can commit.'


The orthodox doctrine having been set forth, the Synod rejects the errors of those,


[ocr errors]

1. Who teach That the perseverance of the truly faithful is not the effect of election, or the

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

'gift of God obtained by the death of Christ, but 'a condition of the new covenant, to be performed by man, of free will, antecedent to his peremptory election and justification, as they themselves speak.' For, the sacred scripture testifies, that it follows election, and that it is given to the elect, through the power of the death, resurrection, and intercession of Christ. Rom. xi. 7. "The election "have obtained; the rest were hardened." Also Rom. viii. 32. "He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall " he not with him freely give us all things? Who "shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? "It is God that justifieth. Who is he that con"demneth? It is Christ that died; yea, rather "who is risen again, who also sitteth at the right "hand of God; who likewise intercedeth for us. "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?"1

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

2. Who teach That God indeed provides the 'believer with powers sufficient for persevering, and is ready to preserve them in him if he 'performs his duty all things, however being furnished which are necessary to persevering ' in faith, and which God willeth to supply for the preservation of faith, it always depends upon the freedom of the will whether he will persevere, ' or not persevere.' For this opinion contains manifest Pelagianism; and, while it willeth to make men free, makes them sacrilegious, contrary to the perpetual agreement of the evangelical doctrine, which deprives men of all ground (materiam) for glorying, and ascribes to divine

'Luke xxii. 32. 1 Pet. i. 5. Because the frailty of man without thee cannot but fall, keep us ever by thy help from all things hurtful.' Col. xv. after Trinity.

« PreviousContinue »