KEHUKEE PRIMITIVE BAPTIST ASSOCIATION,
AND OF THE PRIMITIVE BAPTISTS OF AMERICA,
BY ELDER C. B. HASSELL
We enter now upon the task of stating some things connected with the history of one of the most remarkable bodies of Christians in America. Remarkable, we say, not for numbers, wealth or learning, but for age, simplicity, adherence to the faith once delivered to the saints, and endurance under persecution, scoff and derision almost unrivaled in the nineteenth century within the limits of the United States. She has long since become the butt of displeasure among nearly all professed denominations called "Christian," and, particularly so, among those who have departed from apostolic faith and practice, calling themselves "Baptists."
As "Black-Rockism" in the Middle and Northern States has become a by-word of reproach in the mouths of religionists, so has Kehukeeism in the Southern States been regarded as a synonym of all that is heretical and immoral by many who profess to love God and His people, and especially by those who claim the ancient and honorable name of "Baptists," but who are nevertheless endeavoring to substitute human inventions for the church of Christ, and the rudiments of the world for the principles of gospel truth.
The present and future
generations of men must decide who is on the Lord's side; and whether the
churches composing the Kehukee Association are churches of Christ, walking in
gospel order, and governed by the discipline laid down in the New Testament by
the blessed Savior and His Apostles, or whether they are heretical bodies of
only a half-century's growth.
The Kehukee Association appears to have been the fourth Association of Baptist Churches in America; Philadelphia the first; Charleston the second; Sandy Creek the third; and Kehukee the fourth. The Philadelphia was formed in 1707; the Charleston in 1751; the Sandy Creek in 1758; and the Kehukee in 1765.
In the year 1765, at a meeting-house called "Kehukee," situated near Kehukee Creek, in Halifax County, N. C., this Association was first formed, consisting of the following named churches: 1. Toisnot, in Edgecombe County; 2. Kehukee, in Halifax County; 3. Falls of Tar River, in Edgecombe County; 4. Fishing Creek, in Halifax County; 5. Sandy Creek, in Warren County; 6. Sandy Run, in Bertie County; 7. A church in Camden County.
It is said that the number seven is a perfect number. It is the leading symbolical number so often mentioned in the Scriptures, and was the identical number of churches in Asia addressed by John while in the Isle of Patmos.
If those seven churches of Asia represented or were typical of the whole number throughout the world, may it not be that these seven named above were typical of the number since belonging to the Kehukee Association and all true churches on the American Continent?
A majority of these churches, it is stated, were the descendants of the English General Baptists at first, but, before they united in an associated capacity, they were thoroughly established in the doctrine of grace, and adopted the London Articles of Faith of 1689; upon which the Philadelphia and Charleston Associations were also founded.
The churches of this order were first gathered in North Carolina by Elders Paul Palmer and Joseph Parker, who were succeeded by a number of ministers whom they had baptized. According to Morgan Edwards' account, there were some individual Baptists in North Carolina as early as 1695; but it appears that the first church which ever existed within its bounds was gathered by Paul Palmer about the year 1727, at. a place called Perquimmons, on Chowan River, towards the Northeast corner of the State. Mr. Palmer is said to have been a native of Maryland, was baptized at Welsh Tract, in Delaware, by Thomas Owens, the pastor of the church in that place; was ordained in Connecticut, but was some time in New Jersey and then in Maryland; he at last moved to North Carolina, where he gathered the church above mentioned, with which he continued till his death.
Before these churches were organized into an associate body they held yearly meetings, wherein matters of consequence were discussed and determined.
Elders Van Horn and Miller, of New Jersey, belonging to the Philadelphia Association, were sent in 1755 into the Southern Colonies and visited these churches in North Carolina. Through their ministry the churches became better established in the doctrine of salvation by grace, and some were organized anew upon that principle, until the greater number of what few churches were gathered in North Carolina (both ministers and private members) came into the regular Baptist order.
The following is the original text of the London Articles or Confession of Faith, originally put forth by the Elders and brethren of more than one hundred congregations of Christians (baptized upon profession of their faith) in London in 1689.*
These articles of 1689 appear to have been a confirmation and enlargement of those adopted by seven churches of the same faith and order in London in the year 1643; so that those who now indorse the articles of 1689 may know that they stand where their brethren in London stood in 1643.
We, the Ministers and Messengers of, and concerned for, upwards of one hundred baptized congregations in England and Wales (denying Arminianism), being met together in London from the third of the seventh month till the eleventh of the same, 1689, to consider of some things that might be for the glory of God and the good of these congregations, have thought meet (for the satisfaction of all other Christians that differ from us in the point of baptism) to recommend to their perusal the Confession of our Faith, printed for and sold by John Marshall, at the Bible in Grace Church street. Which Confession we own as containing the doctrine of our faith and practice, and do desire that the members of our churches respectively do furnish themselves therewith.
In the name and behalf of the whole Assembly.
*All people, whether professors of religion or not, have some kind of religious belief-that is, some kind of creed either written or unwritten. A creed is a convenient summary of the religious, belief of a particular people at a particular time: and may be useful as a bond of union between those who profess to believe it, as an aid to the understanding of the Scriptures, and as a safeguard against false doctrine and practice. But let it never be forgotten that it is both the Baptist and the Protestant doctrine that the Bible is the only authoritative and infallible rule of faith and practice, and that each individual has the inalienable right, necessitated by his inalienable personal responsibility, to interpret the Bible for himself.
Only the Greek and Roman Catholic so-called "Churches" and Romanizing Protestants put their creeds on a level with the Bible, and claim for them equal authority and infallibility. An increase of spiritual knowledge of course improves a creed, and makes it approximate more closely to the Bible.To the old London Baptist Confession of Faith the Philadelphia Baptist Association added two articles on the "Singing of Psalms" and "Laying on of Hands." The Kehukee Primitive Baptist Association, in 1777, adopted a much shorter and simpler Confession of Faith, which is given under that year in the present volume.--S. H.
TO THE JUDICIOUS AND IMPARTIAL READER.
It is now many years since divers of us (with other sober Christians then living and walking in the way of the Lord that we profess) did conceive ourselves to be under a necessity of publishing a Confession of our Faith for the information and satisfaction of those that did not thoroughly understand what our principles were, or had entertained prejudices against our profession by reason of the strange representation of them by some men of note Who had taken very wrong measures, and accordingly others into misapprehension of us and them. And this was put forth about the year 1643, in the names of seven Congregations then gathered in London; since which time divers impressions thereof have been dispersed abroad, slid our end proposed, ill good measures answered, inasmuch as many (and some of those men eminent both for piety and learning) were thereby satisfied that we were no way guilty of those heterodoxies and fundamental errors which had too frequently been charged upon us without ground or occasion given on our part. And forasmuch as that Confession is not now commonly to be had, and also that many others have since embraced the same truth which is owned therein, it was judged necessary by us to join together in giving a testimony to the world of our firm adhering to those wholesome principles, by the publication of this which is now in your hand.
And forasmuch as our method and manner of expressing our Sentiments in this doth vary from the former (although the substance of this matter is the same), we shall freely impart to you the reason and occasion thereof. One thing that greatly prevailed with us to undertake this work was (not only to give a full account of ourselves to those Christians that differ from us about the subject of baptism, but also) the profit that might from thence arise unto those that have any account of our labors, in their instruction and establishment in the great truths of the gospel, in the clear understanding and steady belief of which our comfortable walking with God and fruitfulness before Him in all our ways is most nearly concerned; and therefore we did conclude it necessary to express ourselves the more fully and distinctly, and also to fix on such a. method as might be most comprehensive of those things we designed to explain our sense and belief of; and finding no defect in this regard in that fixed on by the Assembly, and after them by those of the Congregational way, we did readily conclude it best to retain the same order in our present Confession; and also when we observed that those last-mentioned did in their confessions (for reasons which seemed of weight both to themselves and others) choose not only to express their mind in words concurrent with the former in sense concerning all those articles wherein they were agreed, but also for the most part without any variation of the terms, we did in like manner conclude it best to follow their example in making use of the very same words with them both in these articles (which are very many), wherein our faith and doctrine is the same with theirs, and this we did the more abundantly to manifest our consent with both in all the fundamental articles of the Christian religion, as also with many others whose orthodox confessions have been published to the world on behalf of the Protestants in divers nations and cities; and, also, to convince all that we have no itch to clog Religion with new words, but do readily acquiesce in that form of sound words which hath been in consent with the Holy Scriptures used by others before us; hereby declaring before God, angels and men our hearty agreement with them in that wholesome Protestant doctrine, which with so clear evidence of Scripture they have asserted. Some things indeed are in some places added, some terms omitted, and some few changed; but these alterations are of that nature as that we need not doubt any charge or suspicion of unsoundness in the faith from any of our brethren upon the account of them.
In those things wherein we differ from others, we have expressed ourselves with all candor and plainness, that none might entertain jealousy of aught secretly lodged in our breasts, that we would not the world should be acquainted with; yet we hope we have also observed those rules of modesty and humility as will render our freedom in this respect inoffensive even to those whose sentiments are different from ours.
We have also taken care to affix texts of Scripture for the confirmation of each article in our confession, in which work we have studiously endeavored to select such as are most clear and pertinent for the proof of what is asserted by us. And our earnest desire is that all into whose hands this may come would follow that (never enough commended) example of the noble Bereans, who searched the Scriptures daily that they might find out whether the things preached to them were so or not.
There is one thing more which
we sincerely profess and earnestly desire credence in, viz.: That contention is
most remote from our design in all that we have done in this matter; and we hope
the liberty of an ingenuous unfolding our principles and opening our hearts unto
our brethren, with the Scripture grounds of our faith and practice, will by none
of them be either denied to us, or taken ill from us. Our whole design is
accomplished if we may obtain that justice, as to be measured in our principles
and practice, and the judgment of both by others, according to what we have now
published; which the Lord (whose eyes are a flame of fire) knoweth to be the
doctrine which with our hearts we most firmly believe and sincerely endeavor to
conform our lives to. And oh ! that other contentions being laid asleep, the
only care and contention of all upon whom the name of our blessed Redeemer is
called, might for the future be to walk humbly with their God in the exercise of
all love and meekness towards each other; to perfect holiness in the fear of the
Lord, each one endeavoring to have his conversation such as becometh the gospel,
and also suitable to his place and capacity, vigorously to promote in others the
practice of true religion, and undefiled in the sight of God our Father; and
that, in this backsliding day, we might not spend our breath in fruitless
complaints of the evils of others, but may every one begin at home to reform in
the first place our own hearts and ways, and then to quicken all that we may
have influence upon to the same work; that if the will of God were so, none
might deceive themselves by resting in and trusting to a form of godliness
without the power of it, and inward experience of the efficacy of those truths
that are professed by them.
A CONFESSION OF FAITH
CHAPTER I.-OF THE HOLY SCRIPTURES.
1. The Holy Scripture is the only sufficient, certain and infallible Timothy 3. 15-17; Isaiah 8. 20; Luke 16. 29, 31; Ephesians 2 20) of all saving knowledge, faith and obedience; although the (Romans 1. 19-21; 2. 14, 15; Psalm 19. 1-3) light of nature and the works of creation and providence do so far manifest the goodness, wisdom and power of God as to leave men unexcusable; yet are they not sufficient to give that knowledge of God and His will which is necessary unto salvation (Hebrews 1. 1). Therefore it pleased the Lord at sundry times and in divers manners to reveal Himself, and to declare that His will unto His church; and afterward for the better preserving and propagating of the truth, and for the more sure establishment and comfort of the church against the corruption of the flesh and the malice of Satan and of the world, to commit the same wholly unto (Proverbs 22. 19-21; Romans 15. 4; 2 Peter 1. 19, 20) writing; which maketh the Holy Scriptures to be most necessary, those former ways of God revealing His will unto His people being now ceased.
2. Under the name of Holy Scripture, or the word of God written, are now contained all the books of the Old and New Testaments, which are these:
OF THE OLD TESTAMENT.
OF THE NEW TESTAMENT.
3. The books commonly called Apocrypha, not being of (Luke 24. 27, 44; Romans 3. 2) Divine inspiration, are not part of the canon (or rule) of Scripture, and therefore are of no authority to the church of God, nor to be any otherwise approved or made use of than other human writings.
4. The authority of the Holy Scripture, for which it ought to be believed, dependeth not upon the testimony of any man or church, but wholly upon (2 Peter 1. 19, 21; 2 Timothy 3i. 16; 2 Thessalonians 2. 13; 1 John 5. 9) God (who is truth itself), the author thereof; therefore it is to be received, because it is the word of God.
5. We may be moved and induced by the testimony of the church of God to an high and reverent esteem of the Holy Scriptures; and the heavenliness of the matter, the efficacy of the doctrine, and the majesty of the style, the consent of all the parts, the scope of the whole (which is to give all glory to God), the full discovery it makes of the only way of man's salvation, and many other incomparable excellencies and entire perfections thereof, are arguments whereby it doth abundantly evidence itself to be the word of God; yet notwithstanding our (John 16. 13, 14; I Corinthians 2 .10-12; I John 1 2, 20, 27) full persuasion and assurance of the infallible truth and Divine authority thereof, is from the inward work of the Holy Spirit, bearing witness by and with the word in our hearts.
6. The whole counsel of God concerning all things (2 Timothy 3. 15-17; Galatians 1. 8, 9) necessary for His own glory, man's salvation, faith and life, is either expressly set down or necessarily contained in the Holy Scripture; unto which nothing at any time is to be added, whether by new revelation of the Spirit, or traditions of men.
Nevertheless we acknowledge the (John 6. 45; I Corinthians 2. 9-12) inward illumination of the Spirit of God to be necessary for the saving understanding of such things as are revealed in the word, and that there are some circumstances concerning the worship of God and government of the church common to human actions and societies which are to be (1 Corinthians 11. 13, 14; 14. 26, 40) ordered by the light of nature and Christian prudence, according to the general rules of the word, which are always to be observed.
7. All things in Scriptures are not alike (2 Peter 3. 16) plain in themselves, nor alike clear unto all; yet those things which are necessary to be known, believed and observed for salvation are so (Psalms 19. 7; 119. 130) clearly propounded and opened in some place of Scripture or other, that not only the learned, but the unlearned, in a due use of ordinary means, may attain to a sufficient understanding of them.
8. The Old Testament in (Romans 3. 2) Hebrew (which was the native language of the people of God of old) and the New Testament in Greek, which (at the time of writing it) was most generally known to the nations, being immediately inspired by God, and by His singular care and providence kept pure in all ages, are therefore (Isaiah 8. 20) authentical; so as in all controversies of religion the church is finally to appeal unto them (Acts 15. 15). But because these original tongues are not known to all the people of God, who have a right unto and an interest in the Scriptures, and are commanded in the fear of God to read (John 5. 39) and search them, therefore they are to be translated into the vulgar language of every nation unto which they (1 Corinthians 14. 6, 9, 11, 12, 24, .28) come, that the word of God dwelling (Colossians 3. 16) plentifully in all, they may worship Him in an acceptable manner, and through patience and comfort of the Scriptures may hope.
9. The infallible rule or interpretation of the Scripture (2 Peter 1. 20, 21; Acts 15. 15, 16) is the Scripture itself; and therefore when there is a question about the true and full sense of any Scripture (which is not manifold, but one), it may be searched by other places that speak more clearly.
10. The supreme Judge by which all controversies of religion are to be determined, and all decrees of councils, opinions of ancient writers, doctrines of men and private spirits, are to be examined, and in whose sentence we are to rest, can be no other but the Holy Scriptures delivered by the Spirit, into which (Matthew 22. 29, 23; Ephesians 2. 20; Acts 28. 23) Scriptures so delivered our faith is finally resolved.
CHAPTER II.--OF GOD AND OF THE HOLY TRINITY.
1. The Lord our. God is but (1 Corinthians 8. 6; Deuteronomy 6. 4) one only living and true God, whose (Jeremiah 10. 10; Isaiah xlv3. 12) subsistence is in and of Himself (Exodus 3. 14), infinite in being and perfection, whose essence cannot be comprehended by any but Himself (John 4. 24); a most pure Spirit (1 Timothy 1. 17; Deuteronomy 4. 15, 16), invisible, without body, parts or passions, who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto, who is (Malachi 3. 6) immutable (1 Kings 8, 27; Jeremiah 23. 23), immense (Psalm 90. 2), eternal, incomprehensible (Genesis 17. 1), almighty, every way infinite (Isaiah 6. 3), most holy, most wise, most free, most absolute (Psalm 115. 3; Isaiah 46. 10), working all things according to the counsel of His own immutable and most righteous will (Proverbs 16. 4; Romans 11. 36), for His own glory, most loving, gracious, merciful, long-suffering, abundant in goodness and truth, forgiving iniquity, transgression and sin (Exodus 34. 6, 7; Hebrews 11. 6), the rewarder of them that diligently seek Him, and withal most just (Nehemiah 9. 32, 33) and terrible in His judgments (Psalm 5. 5, 6), hating all sin, and will by no means clear the (Exodus 36. 7; Nahum 1. 2, 3) guilty.
2. God having all (John 5. 26) life (Psalm 148. 13), glory (Psalm 119. 68), goodness, blessedness, in and of Himself, is alone in and unto Himself all sufficient, not (Job 22. 2, 3) standing in any need of any creature which He hath made, nor deriving any glory from them, but only manifesting His own glory in, by, unto and upon them. He is the alone fountain of all being (Romans 11. 34-36), of whom, through whom and to whom are all things; and He hath most sovereign (Daniel 4. 25, 34, 35) dominion over all creatures, to do by them, for them or upon them whatsoever Himself pleaseth. In his sight (Hebrews 4. 13) all things are open and manifest. His knowledge is (Ezekiel 6.5; Acts 15. 18) infinite, infallible and independent upon the creature, so as nothing is to Him contingent or uncertain. He is most holy in all His counsels, in (Psalm 114. 17) all His works and in all His commands. To Him is due (Revelation 5. 12-14) from men and angels whatsoever worship, service or obedience as creatures they owe unto the Creator, and whatever He is further pleased to require of them.
3. In this Divine and infinite being there are three subsistences, (1 John 5. 7; Matthew 28. 19; 2 Corinthians 13. 14) the Father, the Word (or Son) and Holy Spirit, of one substance, power and eternity, each having the whole Divine essence (Exodus 3. 14; John 14. 11; 1 Corinthians 8. 6), yet the essence undivided. The Father is of none neither begotten nor proceeding; the Son is (John 1. 14, 18) eternally begotten of the Father; the Holy Spirit (John 15. 26; Galatians 4. 6) proceeding from the Father and the Son, all infinite, without beginning, therefore but one God, who is not to be divided in nature and being, but distinguished by several peculiar, relative properties and personal relations; which doctrine of the Trinity is the foundation of all our communion with God and comfortable dependence on Him.
CHAPTER III.--OF GOD'S DECREE.
1. God hath (Isaiah 46. 10; Ephesians 1 11; Hebrews 6. 17; Romans 9. 15, 18) decreed in Himself from all eternity, by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will, freely and unchangeably, all things whatsoever come to pass; yet so as thereby is God neither the author of sin (James 1. 15, 17; I John 1 5), nor hath fellowship with any therein; nor is violence offered to the will of the creature, nor yet is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather (Acts 4. 27, 28; John 19. 11) established, in which appears His wisdom in disposing all things, and power and faithfulness (Numbers 23. 19; Ephesians 1. 3-5) in accomplishing His decree.
2. Although God knoweth whatsoever may or can come to pass upon all (Acts 15. 18) supposed conditions, yet hath He not decreed anything (Romans 9. 11, 13, 16, 18), because he foresaw it as future, or as that which would come to pass upon such conditions.
3. By the decree of God, for the manifestation of His glory (1 Timothy 5. 91; Matthew 25. 41), some men and angels are predestinated or foreordained to eternal life, through Jesus Christ, to the (Ephesians 1. 5,6) praise of His glorious grace; others being left to act in their sin to their (Romans 9. 22, 23; Jude 4) just condemnation, to the praise of His glorious justice.
4 .These angels and men thus predestinated and foreordained are particularly and unchangeably designed; and their (2 Timothy 2. 19; John 13. 18) number so certain and definite that it cannot be either increased or diminished.
5. Those of mankind (Ephesians 1. 4, 9, 11; Romans 8. 30; 2 Timothy 1. 9; 1 Thessalonians 5. 9) that are predestinated to life, God, before the foundation of the world was laid, according to His eternal, immutable purpose, and the secret counsel and good pleasure of His will, hath chosen in Christ unto everlasting glory, out of His mere free grace and love (Romans 9. 13, 16; Ephesians 2. 9, 12), without any other thing in the creature as a condition or cause moving Him thereunto.
6. As God hath appointed the elect unto glory, so He hath by the eternal and most free purpose of His will foreordained (1 Peter 1. 2: 2 Thessalonians 2. 13) all the means thereunto; wherefore they who are elected, being fallen in Adam (1 Thessalonians 5. 9, 10), are redeemed by Christ, are effectually (Romans 8. 30; 2 Thessalonians 2. 13) called unto faith in Christ, by his Spirit working in due season, are justified, adopted, sanctified, and kept by His power through faith (2 Peter 1 3) unto salvation; neither are any other redeemed by Christ, or effectually called, justified, adopted, sanctified and saved, but the elect (John .10 26; John 17. 9; John 6. 44) only.
7. The doctrine of this high mystery of predestination is to be handled with special prudence and care; that men, attending the will of God revealed in His word, and yielding obedience thereunto, may from the certainty of their effectual vocation be assured of their (1 Thessalonians 1. 4, 5; 2 Peter 1. 10) eternal election; so shall this doctrine afford matter (Ephesians 1. 7; Romans 11. 33) of praise, reverence and admiration of God, and (Romans 11. 5, 6) of humility, diligence and abundant (Luke 10. 20) consolation to all that sincerely obey the gospel.
CHAPTER IV.--OF CREATION.
1. In the beginning it pleased God, the Father (John 1. 1, 5; Hebrews 1. 2; Job 26. 13), Son and Holy Spirit, for the manifestation of the glory of (Romans 1 20) His eternal power, wisdom and goodness, to create or make the world and all things therein (Colossians 1. 16; Genesis 2. 1, 2), whether visible or invisible, in the space of six days, and all very good.
2. After God had made all other creatures He created (Genesis 1 man, male and female, with (Genesis 2. 7) reasonable and immortal souls, rendering them fit unto that life to God for which they were created, being (Ecclesiastes 7. 29; Genesis 1. 26) made after the image of God, in knowledge, righteousness and true holiness; having the law of God (Romans 2. 14, 15) written in their hearts, and power to fulfill it; and yet under a possibility of transgressing, being left to the liberty of their own will, which was (Genesis 3. 6) subject to change.
3. Besides the law written in their hearts they received (Genesis 1. 17; 3. 8-10) a command not to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil; which whilst they kept they were happy in their communion with and had dominion (Genesis 1. 26, 28) over the creatures.
CHAPTER V.--OF DIVINE PROVIDENCE.
1. God, the Creator of all things, in His infinite power and wisdom, doth (Hebrews i. 3; Job 38. 11; Isaiah 46. 10, 11; Psalm 13. 5, 6) uphold, direct, dispose and govern all creatures and things, from the greatest even to the (Matthew 10. 26, 30, 31) least, by His most wise and holy providence, to the end for which they were created, according unto His infallible foreknowledge and the free and immutable counsel of His (Ephesians 1. 11) own will; to the praise of the glory of His wisdom, power, justice, infinite goodness and mercy.
2. Although in relation to the foreknowledge and decree of God, the first cause, all things come to pass (Acts 2. 23) immutably and infallibly, so that there is not anything befalls any (Proverbs 16. 33) by chance or without His providence; yet by the same providence he ordereth them to fall out according to the nature of second causes, either (Genesis 8. 22) necessarily, freely or contingently.
3. God in His ordinary providence (Acts 27. 31, 44; Isaiah 55. 10, 11) maketh use of means; yet is free (Hosea i. 7) to work without (Romans. 4. 19-21), above and (Daniel 3. 27) against them at His pleasure.
4. The Almighty power, unsearchable wisdom and infinite goodness of God so far manifest themselves in His providence, that His determinate counsel (Romans 11. 32-34; 2 Samuel 24. 1; I Chronicles 21. 1) extendeth itself even to the first fall, and all other sinful actions both of angels and men (and that not by a bare permission); which also He most wisely and powerfully (2 Kings 19. 28; Psalm 76. 10) boundeth, and otherwise ordereth and governeth, in a manifold dispensation to His most holy (Genesis i. 20; Isaiah 10. 6, 7, 12) ends; yet so as the sinfulness of their acts proceedeth only from the creatures, and not from God, who being most holy and righteous, neither is nor can be the author or (Psalm i. 21; John 2. 16) approver of sin.
5. The most wise, righteous and gracious God doth oftentimes leave for a season His own children to manifold temptations and the corruptions of their own hearts, to chastise them for their former sins, or to discover unto them the hidden strength of corruption and deceitfulness of their hearts (2 Chronicles 32. 25, 26, 31; 2 Samuel 24. 1; 2 Corinthians 12. 7-9), that they may be humbled, and to raise them to a more close and constant dependence for their support upon Himself, and to make them more watchful against all future occasions of sin, and for other just and holy ends.
So that whatsoever befalls any of His elect is by His appointment, for His glory (Romans 8. 28) and their good.
6. As for those wicked and ungodly men whom God, as a righteous judge, for former sin doth (Romans 1. 24, 25, 28, and 11. 7, 8) blind and harden; from them He not only withholdeth His (Deuteronomy 29. 4) grace, whereby they might have been enlightened in their understanding and wrought upon in their hearts, but sometimes also withdraweth (Matt. 13. 12) the gifts which they had, and exposeth them to such (Deuteronomy 2. 30; 2 Kings 8. 12, 13) objects as their corruptions make occasion of Sin; and withal (Psalm 81. 11, 12; 2 Thessalonians 2. 10, 11) gives them over to their own lusts and temptations of the world and the power of Satan, whereby it comes to pass that they (Exodus 8. 15, 32; Isaiah 6. 9, 10; I Peter 2. 7, 8) harden themselves, even under those means which God useth for the softening of others.
7. As the providence of God doth in general reach to all creatures, so after a more special manner it taketh care of His (1 Timothy 4. 10; Amos 9. 8, 9; Isa. 43. 3-5) church, and disposeth all things to the good thereof.
CHAPTER VI.--OF THE FALL OF MAN, OF SIN, AND OF THE PUNISHMENT THEREOF.
1. Although God created man upright and perfect, and gave him a righteous law, which had been unto life had he kept it (Genesis 2. 16, 17), and threatened death upon the breach thereof; yet he did not long abide in this honor (Genesis 3. 12, 13; 2 Corinthians. 3), Satan using the subtility of the serpent to seduce Eve, then by her seducing Adam, who without any compulsion did willfully transgress the law of their creation and the command given unto them in eating the forbidden fruit; which God was pleased according to His wise and holy counsel to permit, having purpose to order it to His own glory.
2. Our first parents by this sin fell from their (Romans 3. 23) original righteousness and communion with God, and we in them, whereby death came upon all (Romans 5. 12, etc.); all becoming dead in sin and wholly defiled (Titus 1. 15; Genesis 6. 5; Jeremiah 17. 9; Romans 3. 10-19) in all the faculties and parts of soul and body.
3. They being the (Romans 5. 12-19; 1 Corinthians 15. 21, 22, 45, 49) root, and by God's appointment standing in the room and stead of all mankind; the guilt of the sin was imputed and corrupted nature conveyed to all their posterity descending from them by ordinary generation, being now (Psalm 51. 5; Job. 14. 4) conceived in sin, and by nature children (Ephesians 2. 8) of wrath, the servants of sin, the subjects (Romans 6. 20; 5. 12) of death, and all other miseries, spiritual, temporal and eternal, unless the Lord Jesus (Hebrews 2. 14; 1 Thessalonians 1. 10) set them free.
4. From this original corruption, whereby we are (Romans 8. 7; Colossians 1. 21) utterly indisposed, disabled, and made opposite to all good, and wholly inclined to all evil, do (James 1. 14, 15; Matthew 15. 19) proceed all actual transgressions.
5. This corruption of nature, during this life, doth (Romans 7. 18, 23; Ecclesiastes 7. 20; 1 John 1. 18) remain in those that are regenerated; and although it be through Christ pardoned and mortified, yet both itself and the first motions thereof are truly and properly (Romans 7. 24, 25; Galatians 5. 17) sin.
CHAPTER VII.--OF GOD'S COVENANT.
1. The distance between God and the creature is so great that although reasonable creatures do owe obedience unto Him as their Creator, yet they could never have attained the reward of life but by some (Luke 17. 10; Job 35. 7, 8) voluntary condescension on God's part, which He hath been pleased to express by way of covenant.
2. Moreover, man having brought (Genesis 3. 17; Galatians 3. 10; Romans 3. 20, 21) himself under the curse of the law by his fall, it pleased the Lord to make a covenant of grace, wherein He freely offered unto sinners (Romans 8. 3; Mark 16. 15, 16; John 3. 16) life and salvation by Jesus Christ, requiring of them faith in Him, that they may be saved; and (Ezekiel 36. 26, 27; John 6. 44, 45; Psalm 110. 8) promising to give unto all those that are ordained unto eternal life His Holy Spirit, to make them willing and able to believe.
3. This covenant is revealed in the gospel, and was first of all to Adam in the promise of salvation by the (Genesis 3. 15) seed of the woman, and afterwards by farther steps, until the full (Hebrews 1. 1) discovery thereof was complete in the New Testament; and it is founded in that (2 Timothy 1. 2) eternal covenant transaction that was between the Father and the Son about the redemption of the elect; and it is alone by the grace of this covenant that all of the posterity of fallen Adam, that ever were (Hebrews 11. 6, 13; Romans 4. 1, 2, etc.; Acts 4. 12; John 8. 56) saved, did obtain life and a blessed immortality; man being now utterly incapable of acceptance with God upon those terms on which Adam stood in a state of innocency.
CHAPTER VIII.--OF CHRIST THE MEDIATOR.
1. It pleased God, in His eternal purpose, to choose and ordain the Lord Jesus, His only begotten Son, according to the covenant made between them both (Isaiah 43. 1; 1 Peter 1. 9, 10), to be the Mediator between God and man; the (John 6. 14) Prophet (Hebrews 5. 5, 6), Priest and (Psalm 2. 6; Luke 1. 33) King (Ephesians 1. 23), Head and Savior, of His church, the (Hebrews i. 2) Heir of all things, and (Acts 17. 81) Judge of the world; unto whom He did from all eternity (Isaiah 53 10; John 17. 6; Romans 8. 80) give a people to be His seed, and to be by Him in time redeemed, called, justified, sanctified and glorified.
2. The Son of God, the second person in the Holy Trinity, being very and eternal God, the brightness of the Father's glory, of one substance and equal with Him, who made the world, who upholdeth and governeth all things He hath made, did, when the fullness of time was come, take upon Him (John 1. 14; Galatians 4. 4) man's nature, with all the essential properties and common infirmities thereof (Romans 8. 8; Hebrews 2. 14, 16, 17; 4. 15), yet without sin; being conceived by the Holy Spirit in the womb of the Virgin Mary, the Holy Spirit coming down upon her, and the power of the Most High overshadowing her (Luke 1. 27, 81, 85), and so was made of a woman, of the tribe of Judah, of the seed of Abraham and David, according to the Scriptures; so that two whole, perfect and distract natures were inseparably joined together in one person without conversion, composition or confusion; which person is very God and very man, yet one (Romans 9. 5; 1 Timothy 2. 2) Christ, the only Mediator between God and man.
3. The Lord Jesus in His human nature thus united to the Divine, in the person of the Son, was sanctified and anointed (Psalm 45. 7; Acts 10. 38; John 3. 34) with the Holy Spirit above measure, having in Him (Colossians 2. 3) all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, in whom it pleased the Father that (Colossians 1. 19) all fullness should dwell; to the end that, being (Hebrews 7. 26) holy, harmless, undefiled, and full (John 1. 14) of grace and truth, He might be thoroughly furnished to execute the office of a mediator and (Hebrews 7. 22) surety; which office he took not upon Himself, but was thereunto (Hebrews v. 5) called by His Father, who also put (John 5. 22, 27; Matthew 28. 18; Acts 2. 36) all power and judgment in His hand, and gave Him commandment to execute the same.
4. This office the Lord Jesus did most (Psalm 40. 7, 8 ; Hebrews 10. 11; John 10. 18) willingly undertake, which that He might discharge He was made under the law (Galatians 4. 4; Matthew 3. 15), and did perfectly fulfill it, and underwent the (Galatians 3. 13; Isaiah l3. 6; 1 3. 18) punishment due to us, which we should have borne and suffered, being made (2 Corinthians 5. 21) sin and a curse for us, enduring most grievous sorrows (Matthew 26. 37, 38; Luke 22. 44; Matthew 27. 46) in His soul and most painful sufferings in His body; was crucified, and died, and remained in the state of the dead, yet saw no (Acts 13. 37) corruption. On the (1 Corinthians 15. 3, 4) third day He arose from the dead with the same body in which he suffered (John 20. 25, 27); with which He also (Mark 16. 19; Acts 1. 9-11) ascended into Heaven, and there sitteth on the right hand of His Father (Romans 8. 34; Hebrews 9. 24) making intercession, and shall (Acts 10. 42; Romans 14. 6, 10; Acts 1. 11) return to judge men and angels at the end of the world.
5. The Lord Jesus, by His perfect obedience and sacrifice of Himself, which He through the eternal Spirit once offered up unto God (Hebrews 9. 14; 10. 14; Romans 3. 25, 26), hath fully satisfied the justice of God, procured reconciliation and purchased an everlasting inheritance in the kingdom of Heaven (John 17. 2; Hebrews 9. 15) for all those whom the Father hath given unto Him.
6. Although the price of redemption was not actually paid by Christ till after His incarnation (1 Corinthians 10. 4; Hebrews 4. 2; I Peter 1. 10, 11), yet the virtue, efficacy and benefit thereof was communicated to the elect in all ages successively, from the beginning of the world, in and by those promises, types and sacrifices wherein He was revealed, and signified to be the seed of the woman, which should bruise the serpent's head (Revelation 13. 8), and the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world (Hebrews 13. 8), being the same yesterday, and today, and forever.
7. Christ in the work of mediation acteth according to both natures, by each nature doing that which is proper to itself, yet by reason of the unity of the person, that which is proper to one nature is sometimes in Scripture attributed to the person (John 3. 13; Acts 20. 28) denominated by the other nature.
8. To all those for whom Christ hath obtained eternal redemption He doth certainly and effectually (John 6. 37; 10. 15, 16; 17. 9; Romans 5. 10) apply and communicate the same, making intercession for them; uniting them to Himself by His Spirit (John 17. 6; Ephesians 1. 9; 1 John 5. 20); revealing unto them, in and by the word, the mystery of salvation; persuading them to believe and obey (Romans 8. 9, 13; Psalm 110. 1); governing their hearts by His word and Spirit, and (1 Corinthians 15. 25, overcoming all their enemies by His almighty power and wisdom; in such manner and ways as are most consonant to His wonderful and (John 8; Ephesians 1. 8) unsearchable dispensation, and all of free and absolute grace, without any condition foreseen in them to procure it.
9. This office of Mediator between God and man is proper (1 Timothy 2. 5) only to Christ., who is the Prophet, Priest and King of the church of God; and may not be either in whole or any part thereof transferred from Him to any other.
10. This number and order of offices are necessary; for in respect of our (John 1. 18) ignorance, we stand in need of His prophetical office and in respect of our alienation from God (Colossians 1. 21; Galatians 5. 17), and imperfection of the best of our services, we need His priestly office to reconcile us and present us acceptable unto God; and in respect of our averseness and utter inability to return to God, and for our rescue and security from our spiritual adversaries, we need His kingly (John 16. 8; Psalm 110. 3) to convince, subdue, draw, uphold, deliver preserve us to His heavenly kingdom.
CHAPTER IX.--OF FREE WILL
1. God hath indued the will of man with that natural liberty power of acting upon choice, that it is (Matthew 17. 2; James 1. 14; Deuteronomy 30. 19) neither forced, nor by any necessity of nature determined, to do good or evil.
2. Man in his state of innocency had freedom and power to will and to do that (Ecclesiastes 7. 29) which was good and well-pleasing to God; but yet (Genesis 3. 6) was mutable, so that he might fall from it.
3. Man by his fall into a state of sin hath wholly lost (Romans 5. 8. 7) all ability of will to any spiritual good accompanying salvation; so as a natural man, being altogether averse from that good (Ephesians 2. 1, 5) and dead in sin, is not able by his own strength (Titus 3. 3-5; John 6. 44) to convert himself, or to prepare himself thereunto.
4. When God converts a sinner, and translates him into the state of grace (Colossians 1. 13; John 8. 36), He freeth him from his natural bondage under sin, and by His grace alone enables him (Philippians 2. 13) freely to will and to do theft which is spiritually good; yet so as that, by reason of his (Romans 7. 15, 18, 19, 21, 23) remaining corruptions, he doth not perfectly nor only will that which is good, but doth also will that which is evil.
5. The will of man is made (Ephesians 4. 13) perfect and immutably free to good alone in the estate of glory only.
CHAPTER X.--OF EFFECTUAL CALLING.
1. Those whom God hath predestinated unto life, He is pleased in His appointed and accepted time (Romans 8. 30; 11. 7; Ephesians 1. 10, 11; 2 Thessalonians 2. 13, 14) effectually to call by His word and Spirit out of that state of sin and death in which they arc by nature, to grace and salvation (Ephesians 2. 1-6) by Jesus Christ; enlightening their minds spiritually and savingly to (Acts 26. 18; Ephesians 1. 17, 18) understand the things of God; taking away their (Ezekiel 36. 26) heart of stone, and giving unto them an heart of flesh; renewing theft wills, and by His almighty power determining them (Deuteronomy 30. 6; Ezekiel 36. 27; Ephesians i. 9) to that which is good, and effectually drawing them to Jesus Christ; yet so as they come (Psalm 110. 3; Canticles i. 4) most freely, being made willing by His grace.
2. This effectual call is of God's free and special grace alone (2 Timothy 1. 9; Ephesians 2. 8), not from anything at all foreseen in man, nor from any power or agency in the creature co-working with His special grace (1 Corinthians 2. 14; Ephesians 2. 5; John 5. 25); the creature being wholly passive therein, being dead in sins and trespasses, until being quickened and renewed by the Holy Spirit, he is thereby enabled to answer this call, and to embrace the grace offered and conveyed in it, and that by no less (Ephesians 1. 19, 20) power than that which raised up Christ from the dead.
3. Elect infants dying in
infancy are (John 3. 3, 5, 6) regenerated and saved by Christ through the
Spirit, who worketh when and where and how He pleaseth; so also are all other
elect persons, who are incapable of being outwardly called by the ministry of
CHAPTER XI.--OF JUSTIFICATION.
1. Those whom God effectually calleth He also freely (Romans 3. 24; 7. 30) justifieth, not by infusing righteousness into them, but by (Romans 4. 5-8; Ephesians 1. 7) pardoning their sins, and by accounting and accepting their persons as (1 Corinthians 1. 30, 31; Romans 5. 17-19) righteous; not for anything wrought in them or done by them, but for Christ's sake alone; not by imputing faith itself, the act of believing, or any other (Philippians 3. 8, 9; Ephesians 2. 8, 9; Ephesians 2. 8-10) evangelical obedience to them, as their righteousness, but by imputing Christ's active obedience unto the whole law and passive obedience in His death, for their whole and sole righteousness; they (John 1. 12; Romans 5. 17) receiving and resting on Him and His righteousness by faith, which they have not of themselves; it is the gift of God.
2. Faith thus receiving and resting on Christ and His righteousness, is the (Romans 3. 28) alone instrument of justification; yet it is not alone in the person justified, but is ever accompanied with all other saving graces, and is no dead faith (Galatians 5. 6; James 2. 17, 22, 26), but worketh by love.
3, Christ, by His obedience and death, did fully discharge the debt of all those that are justified; and did by the sacrifice of Himself, in the blood of His cross, undergoing in their stead the penalty due unto them, make a proper, real and full satisfaction (Hebrews 10. 14; 1 Peter 1. 18, 19; Isaiah 3. 5, 6) to God's justice in their behalf; yet, inasmuch as He given by the Father for them, and His obedience and satisfaction in their stead, and both (Romans 8. 32; 2 Corinthians 5. 21) freely, not for anything in them, their justification is only of free grace, that both the exact justice and rich grace of God might be (Romans 3. 26; Ephesians i. 6, 7; Ephesians 2. 7) glorified in the justification of sinners.
4. God did from till eternity decree to (Galatians 3. 8; 1 Peter 1. 2; 1 Timothy 2. 6) justify all the elect, and Christ did in the fullness of time die for their sins, and (Romans 4. 25) rise again for their justification; nevertheless they are not justified personally until the Holy Spirit doth in due time (Colossians 1. 21, 22; Titus 3. 4-7) actually apply Christ unto them.
5. God doth continue to (Matthew 6. 12; 1 John 1. 7, 9) forgive the sins of those that are justified; and although they can never fall from the state of (John 10. 28) justification, yet they may by their sins fall under God's (Psalm 89. 31-33) fatherly displeasure; and in that condition they have not usually the light of His countenance restored unto them until they (Psalm 32. 5; Psalm 51. 7-12; Matthew 26. 75) humble themselves, confess their sins, beg pardon, and renew their faith and repentance.
6. The justification of believers under the 01d Testament was in all these respects (Galatians 3. 9; Romans 22. 22-24) one and the same with the justification of believers under the New Testament.
CHAPTER XII.--OF ADOPTION.
All those that are justified God vouchsafed in and for the sake of His only Son, Jesus Christ, to make partakers of the grace (Ephesians 1. 5; Galatians 4. 4, 5) of adoption; by which they arc taken into the number, and enjoy the liberties and (John 1. 12; Romans 8. 17) privileges of children of God; have His (2 Corinthians 6. 18; Revelation 3. 12) name put upon them (Romans 8. 15), receive the Spirit of adoption (Galatians 4. 6; Ephesians 2. 18), have access to the throne of grace with boldness, are enabled to cry Abba, Father, are (Psalm c3. 13)pitied (Proverbs 14. 26), protected (1 Peter v. 7), provided for and (Hebrews 12. 6) chastened by Him, as by a Father; yet never (Isaiah l4. 8, 9; Lamentations 3. 31) cast off, but sealed (Ephesians 4. 30) to the day of redemption, and inherit the promises (Hebrews 1. 14; 6. 12) as heirs of everlasting salvation.
CHAPTER XIII.--OF SANCTIFICATION.
1. They who are united to Christ, effectually called and regenerated, having a new heart (Acts 20. 32; Romans 6. 5, 6) and new spirit created in them through the virtue of Christ's death and resurrection, and also further sanctified, really and personally, through the same virtue (John 17. 17; Ephesians 3. 16-19; 1 Thessalonians 5. 21-23), by His word Spirit dwelling in them (Romans 6. 14); the dominion of the whole body of sin is destroyed (Galatians v. 14, 24), and the several lusts thereof are more and more weakened and mortified; and they more and more quickened and (Colossians 1. 11) strengthened in all saving graces, to the (2 Corinthians 7. 1; Hebrews 13. 14) practice of all true holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.
2. This sanctification is (1 Thessalonians 5. 23) throughout in the whole man, yet imperfect (Romans 7. 18, 23) in this life; there abideth still some remnants of corruption in every part, whence ariseth a (Galatians 5. 17; 1 Peter 2. 11) continual and irreconcilable war, the flesh lusting against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh.
3. In which war, although the remaining corruption for a time may much (Romans 7. 23) prevail, yet through the continual supply of strength from the sanctifying Spirit of Christ (Romans 6. 14), the regenerate part doth overcome; and so the saints grow in grace, perfecting holiness in the fear of God (Ephesians 4. 15, 16; 2 Corinthians 3. 18; 2 Corinthians 7. 1), pressing after a heavenly life, in evangelical obedience to all the commands which Christ, as Head and King, in His word hath prescribed to them.
CHAPTER XIV.--OF SAVING FAITH.
1. The grace of faith, whereby the elect are enabled to believe to the saving of their souls, is the work of the Spirit of Christ (2 Corinthians 4. 13; Ephesians 2. 8) in their hearts, and is ordinarily wrought by the ministry of the (Romans 10. 14, 17) word; by which also, and by the administration of baptism and the Lord's Supper, prayer and other means appointed of God, it is increased (Luke 17. 5; 1 Peter 2. 2; Acts 20. 32) and strengthened.
2. By this faith a Christian believeth to be true (Acts 24. 14) whatsoever is revealed in the word on the authority of God Himself, and also apprehendeth an excellency therein (Psalm 19. 7-10; 119. 72) above all other writings, and all things in the world, as it bears forth the glory of God in His attributes, the excellency of Christ in His nature and offices, and the power and fullness of the Holy Spirit in His working and operations; and so is enabled to (2 Timothy 1. 12) cast his soul upon the truth thus believed, and also acteth differently upon that which each particular passage thereof containeth; yielding obedience to the (John 15. 14) commands, trembling at the (Isaiah 66. 2) threatenings, and embracing the (Hebrews 11. 13) promises of God for this life and that which is to come; but the principal acts of saving faith have immediate relation to Christ, accepting, receiving and resting upon (John 1. 12; Acts 16. 31; Galatians 2. 20; Acts 15. 1l) Him alone for justification, sanctification and eternal life, by virtue of the covenant of grace.
3. This faith, although it be different in degrees, and may be weak (Hebrews v. 13, 14; Matthew 6. 30; Romans 6. 19, 20) or strong, yet it is in the least degree of it different in the kind or nature of it (as is all other saving grace) from the faith (2 Peter 1. 1) and common grace of temporary believers; and therefore, though it may be many times assailed and weakened, yet it gets (Ephesians 6. 16; 1 John 5. 4, 5) the victory, growing up in many to the attainment of a full (Hebrews 6. 11, 12; Colossians 2. 2) assurance through Christ, who is both the author (Hebrews 12. 2) and finisher of our faith.
CHAPTER XV.--OF REPENTANCE UNTO LIFE AND SALVATION.
1. Such of the elect as are converted at riper years, having (Titus 3. 2-5) for some time lived in the state of nature, and therein served divers lusts and pleasures, God in their effectual calling giveth them repentance unto life.
2. Whereas there is none that doeth good and sinneth (Ecclesiastes 7. 20) not, and the best of men may, through the power and deceitfulness of their corruption dwelling in them, with the prevalency of temptation, fall into greater sins and provocations, God hath in the covenant of grace mercifully provided that believers so sinning and falling (Luke 22. 31, 32) be renewed through repentance unto salvation.
3. This saving repentance is an (Zechariah 12. 10; Acts 11. 18) evangelical grace, whereby a person, being by the Holy Spirit made sensible of the manifold evils of his sin, doth by faith in Christ humble himself for it, with godly sorrow, detestation of it, and self-abhorrency (Ezekiel 36. 81; 2 Corinthians 7. 11), praying for pardon and strength of grace, with a purpose and endeavor by supplies of the Spirit to (Psalm 119. 6, 128) walk before God unto all well-pleasing in all things.
4. As repentance is to be continued through the whole course of our lives, upon the account of the body of death and the motions thereof; so it is every man's duty to repent of his (Luke 19. 8; 1 Timothy 1. 18, 15) particular known sins, particularly.
5. Such is the provision which God hath made through Christ in the covenant of grace for the preservation of believers unto salvation, that although there is no sin so small but it deserves (Romans 6. 23) damnation, yet there is no sin so great that it shall bring damnation on them that (Isaiah 1. 16-18; 4. 7) repent; which makes the constant preaching of repentance necessary.
CHAPTER XVI.--OF GOOD WORKS.
1. Good works are only such as God hath (Micah 6. 8; Hebrews 13. 21) commanded in His holy word, and not such as without the warrant thereof are devised by men, out of blind zeal (Matthew 15. 9; Isaiah 19. 13), or upon any pretense of good intentions.
2. These good works, done in obedience to God's commandments, are the fruits and evidences (James 2. 18, 22) of a true and lively faith; and by them believers manifest their (Psalm 116. 12, 13) thankfulness, strengthen their (1 John 2. 3, 5; 2 Peter 1. 5-11) assurance, edify their (Matthew v. 16) brethren, adorn the profession of the gospel, stop the mouths of the adversaries, and glorify (1 Timothy 6. 1; I Peter 2. 15; Philippians i. 11)God, whose workmanship they are, created in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2. 10) thereunto, that having their fruit unto holiness, they may have the end (Romans 6. 22) eternal life.
3. Their ability to do good works is not at all of themselves, but wholly from the Spirit (John 15. 4, 5) of Christ; and that they may be enabled thereunto, besides the graces they have already received, there is necessary an (2 Corinthians 3. 5; Philippians 2. 13) actual influence of the same Holy Spirit to work in them to will and to do of His good pleasure; yet are they not hereupon to grow negligent, as if they were not bound to perform any duty, unless upon a special motion of the Spirit, but they ought to be diligent in (Philippians 2. 12; Hebrews 6. 11, 12; Isaiah 64. 7) stirring up the grace of God that is in them.
4. They who in their obedience attain to the greatest height which is possible in this life, arc so far from being able to supererogate, and to do more than God requires, as that (Job 9. 2, 3; Galatians v. 17; Luke 17. 10) they fall short of much which in duty they arc bound to do.
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 (Romans 3. 20; Ephesians 2. 8, 9; Romans 4. 6) 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 (Galatians v. 22, 23) Spirit, and as they are wrought by us, they are defiled (Isaiah 64. 6; Psalm 143. 2), and mixed with so much weakness and imperfection that they cannot endure the severity of God's judgment.
6. Yet notwithstanding, the persons of believers being accepted through Christ, their good works arc also accepted in (Ephesians 1. 6; 1 Peter 2. 5) Him; not as though they were in this life wholly unblamable and unreprovable in God's sight; but that He, looking upon them in His Son, is pleased to accept and reward that which is (Matthew 25. 21, 28; Hebrews 6. 10) sincere, although accompanied with many weaknesses and imperfections.
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 (2 Kings 10. 80; 1 Kings 21. 27, 29) others, yet because they proceed not from a heart purified by (Genesis 4. 5; Hebrews 11. 4, 6) faith, nor are done in a right manner according to the (1 Corinthians 13. 1) word, nor to a right end, the (Matthew 6. 2, 5) glory of God, they are sinful and cannot please God, nor make a man meet to receive grace from (Amos v. 21, 22; Romans 9. 16; Titus 3. 5) God; and yet their neglect of them is more sinful and (Job 21. 14 15; Matthew 25. 41-48) displeasing to God.
CHAPTER XVII.--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 (John 10. 28, 29; Philippians 1. 6; 2 Timothy 2. 19; 1 John 2. 19), 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 nourishes 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 temptation of Satan, the sensible sight of the light and love of God may for a time be clouded and obscured from (Psalm 89. 31, 32; I Corinthians 11. 22) them, yet it is still the same (Malachi 3. 6), 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 palms of His hands, and their names having been written in the book of life from all eternity.
2. This perseverance of the saints depends not upon their own free will, but upon the immutability of the decree of (Romans 8. 30; Romans 9. 2, 16) election, flowing from the free and unchangeable love of God the Father, upon the efficacy of the merit and intercession of Jesus Christ (Romans 5. 9, 10; John 14. 19) and ration with Him, the (Hebrews 6. 17, 18) oath of God, the abiding of His Spirit and the (1 John 3. 9)