Second. Because the believer can never forsake God on account of the provision made in the covenant. An occasion of fear to the believer that he shall not persevere, may be taken from himself. He has many sad fears and tremblings of heart, that he shall at last forsake God. The journey is long to heaven, and his grace is weak. ‘O,’ saith he, ‘is it not possible that this little grace should fail, and I fall short at last of glory?’ Now here there is such provision made in the covenant, as scatters this cloud also.
- The Spirit of God is given on purpose to prevent this. Christ left his mother with John, but his saints with his Spirit, to tutor and keep them, that they should not lose themselves in their journey to heaven. O how sweet is that place—‘I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them,’ Eze. 36:27. He doth not say they shall have his Spirit if they will walk in his statutes; no, his Spirit shall cause them to do it. But may be thou art afraid thou mayest grieve him, and so he in anger leave thee, and thou perish for want of his help and counsel. Ans. The Spirit of God is indeed sensible of unkindness, and upon a saint’s sin may withdraw in regard of present assistance, but never in regard of his care; as a mother may let her froward child go alone till it get a knock, that may make it cry to be taken up again into her arms, but still her eye is on it that it shall not fall into mischief. The Spirit withdrew from Samson and he fell into the Philistines’ hands, and this makes him cry to God, and the Spirit puts forth his strength in him again. Thus here, indeed, the office of the Spirit is to abide for ever with the saints. ‘He shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever,’ John 14:16.
- It is one main business of Christ’s intercessionto obtain of God perseverance for our weak graces. ‘I have prayed,’ saith Christ to Peter, ‘that thy faith fail not.’ But was not that a particular privilege granted to him, which may be denied to another? Such fears and jealousies foolish children are ready to take up, and therefore Christ prevents them, by bidding Peter, in the very next words, ‘When thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren,’ Luke 22:32, that is, when thou feelest the efficacy and force of my prayer for thy faith, carry this good news to them, that their hearts may be strengthened also. And what strengthening had it been to them, if Christ prayed not for them as well as Peter? Does Christ pray for us? yea, doth he not live to pray for us? O how can children of so many prayers, of such prayers, perish? The saints’ prayers have a mighty power. Jacob wrestled and had power with God. This was his sword and bow—to allude to what he said of the parcel of ground he took from the Amorite—by which he got the victory and had power with God. This was the key with which Elijah opened and shut heaven. And if the weak prayers of saints, coming in his name, have such credit in heaven, that with them they can go in God’s treasure, and carry away as much as their arms of faith can hold; O then, what prevalency has Christ’s intercession, who is a Son, an obedient Son, that is come from finishing his great work on earth, and now prays his Father for nothing but what he hath bid him ask; yea, for nothing but what he is beforehand with him for, and all this to a Father that loves those he prays for as well as himself? Bid Satan avaunt! Say not thy weak faith shall perish, till thou hearest that Christ hath left praying, or meetest with a repulse.
Third. Because Satan cannot pluck the believer out of the hands of God. Let us see whether Satan be able to pluck the Christian away, and step betwixt him and home. I have had occasion to speak of this subject in another place; so the less here shall serve. Abundant provision is made against his assaults. The saint is wrapped up in the everlasting arms of almighty power, and what can a cursed devil do against God, who laid those chains on him which he cannot shake off. When is he able to pluck that dart of divine fury out of his own conscience which God hath fastened there, then let him think of such an enterprise as this. How can he overcome thee, that cannot tempt thee but in God’s appointed time? And if God set Satan his time to assault the Christian whom he loves so dearly, surely it will be when he shall be repulsed with the greatest shame,