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After a careful definition of the terms employed in the controversy, the statement by Mr Goodwin of the question at issue is objected to, and another proposed as more correct, founded upon a passage in Scripture, Isa. iv. 5. Chap. i.
Five leading arguments are adduced in proof of the perseverance of the saints:— It is argued, 1. From the divine nature as immutable; under which head the following passages are considered, Mal. iii. 6; James i. 16–18; Rom. xi. 29; Isa. xl. 27–31, xliv. 1–8. 2. From the divine purpose as immutable; and here Scripture is first cited to prove the general immutability of the divine purposes, Isa. xlvi. 9–11; Ps. xxxiii. 9–11, etc.; — and then the special purpose of God to continue his grace to true believers is proved by such passages as Rom. viii. 28; Jer. xxxi. 3; John vi. 37–40; Matt. xxiv. 24; Eph. i. 3–5; 2 Thess. ii. 13, 14. 3. From the covenant of grace, the enduring character and the infallible accomplishment of which are proved by the removal of all causes of change by it, the stipulations of Christ as mediator in it, and the faithfulness of God. 4. From the promises of God, which are generally described, and, as intimating the perseverance of the saints, proved to be unconditional, the following promises to this effect receiving full elucidation: Josh. i. 5; Heb. xiii. 5; 1 Sam. xii. 22; Ps. lxxxix. 30–37; Hos. ii. 19, 20; John x. 27–29. At this point the consideration of the oath of God is deferred, under promise of entering upon it at the close of the discussion; — a promise which the author omits to fulfil. Two interesting digressions follow, affording separate arguments in support of the doctrine; — on the mediation of Christ, as comprehending his oblation and intercession, and on the indwelling of the Spirit. And here the first part of the work concludes. Chap. ii.–ix.
The second part consists in the improvement of the doctrine, by showing how it conduces to the obedience and consolation of the saints, chap. x., and in a refutation of the following arguments of Mr Goodwin in support of the opposite doctrine, — namely, 1. That it is more effectual in promoting godliness; 2. That it does not make God an accepter of persons; 3. That it has been the doctrine of the most pious men in all ages; 4. That it imparts greater power to the exhortations of the gospel; 5. That upon such a principle alone eternal life can be legitimately promised as the reward of perseverance; 6. That it is proved by the sins into which believers undoubtedly fall; 7. That it tends to the consolation of the saints; and, lastly, That it is affirmed in eight passages of Scripture, Ezek. xviii. 24, 25; Matt. xviii. 32–35; 1 Cor. ix. 27; Heb. vi. 4–8, x. 26–29, 38, 39; Matt. xiii. 20, 21; 2 Pet. ii. 18–22. Chap. xi.-xvii. — Ed.
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