We have here the certainty of persevering and overcoming at last, if clad with this armour. Having done all, to stand, else it were small encouragement to bid them take that armour which would not surely defend them.
Doctrine. There can be no perseverance without true grace in the heart. Every soul clad with this armour of God shall stand and persevere; or thus, true grace can never be vanquished. The Christian is a born conqueror, the gates of hell shall not prevail against him. He that is ‘born of God, overcometh the world,’ I John 5:4. Mark from whence the victory is dated, even from his birth. There is victory sown in his new nature; even that seed of God, which will keep him from being swallowed up by sin or Satan. As Christ rose never to die more, so doth he raise souls from the grave of sin, never to come under the power of spiritual death more. These holy ones of God cannot ‘see corruption.’ Hence he that believes is said in the present tense to have eternal life. As ‘the law that came four hundred years after,’ could not make void the promise made to Abraham, so nothing that intervenes can hinder the accomplishing of that promise of eternal life, which was given and passed to Christ in their behalf before the foundation of the world. If a saint could in any way miscarry, and fall short of this eternal life, it must be from one of these three causes: Because God may forsake the Christian, and withdraw his grace and help from him; or because the believer may forsake God; or lastly, because Satan may pluck him out of the hands of God. Another cause I know not. Now none of these can be,
First. Because God can never forsake the Christian. Some unadvised speeches have dropped from tempted souls discovering some fears of God’s casting them off, but they have been confuted, and have eaten their words with shame, as we see in Job and David. O what admirable security hath the great God given his children in this particular!
- In promiseshe hath said, ‘I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee,’Heb. 13:5. [There are] five negatives in that promise, as so many seals to ratify it to our faith. He assures us there never did or can so much as arise a repenting thought in his heart concerning the purposes of his love and special grace towards his children—‘The gifts and calling of God are without repentance,’ Rom. 11:29. Even the believers’ sins against him—their froward carriage —stirs not up thoughts of casting them off, but of reducing them—‘For the iniquity of his covetousness was I wroth, and smote him: I hid me, and was wroth, and he went on frowardly in the way of his heart. I have seen his ways, and will heal them,’ Isa. 57:17,18. The water of the saints’ failings cast on the fire of God’s love cannot quench it. Whom he loves, he loves to the end.
- God, to give further weight and credit to our unbelieving and misgiving hearts, seals his promise with an oath.See Isa. 54:8-10, ‘With everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee, saith the Lord thy Redeemer. For this is as the waters of Noah unto me: for as I have sworn that the waters of Noah should no more go over the earth; so have I sworn that I would not be wroth with thee.’ Yea, he goes on and tells them, ‘The mountains shall depart’—meaning at the end of the world, when the whole frame of the heavens and earth shall be dissolved—‘but his kindness shall not depart, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed.’ Now, lest any should think this was some charter belonging to the Jews alone, we find it, settled on every servant of God as his portion. ‘This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is of me, saith the Lord,’ Isa. 54:17. And surely God that is so careful to make his children’s inheritance sure to them, will con them little thanks, who busy their wits to invalid and weaken his conveyances, yea, disprove his will. If they had taken a bribe, they could not plead Satan’s cause better.
- In the actual fulfilling of these promises —which he hath made to believers—to Christ their attorney. As God, before the world began, gave a promise of eternal life to Christ for them, so now hath he given actual possession of that glorious place to Christ, as their advocate and attorney, where that eternal life shall be enjoyed by them. For as he came upon our errand from heaven, so thither he returned again, to take and hold possession of that inheritance which God had of old promised, and he in one sum at his death had paid for. And now, what ground of fear can there be in the believer’s heart, concerning God’s love standing firm to him, when he sees the whole covenant performed already to Christ for him, whom God hath not only called to, sanctified for, and upheld in the great work he has to finish for us; but also justified in his resurrection and jail-delivery, and received him into heaven, there to sit on the right hand of the majesty on high, by which he hath not only possession for us, but full power to give it unto all believers?