A Catechism and Confession of Faith/Chapter 8
Concerning Perseverance and Falling from GRACE.
Question. Is it enough for a Believer, to be sure that he hath once received true Grace? or is there any further Certainty requisite?
A. Wherefore the rather, Brethren, give Diligence to make your Calling and Election sure; for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall [2 Pet. 1:10].
Q. May one that hath received true Grace have Ground to fear, or suppose he can fall?
A. But I keep under my Body, and bring it into Subjection, lest that by any means when I have Preached to others, I my self should be a Cast away [1 Cor. 9:27].
Q. That greatly contradicteth the Doctrine of such as say, once in Grace, ever in Grace; but doth the Apostle Paul express this only out of an Humble Esteem of himself? or doth he judge or suppose the like of other Saints?
A. Take heed, Brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil Heart of Unbelief, in departing from the Living God; But exhort one another daily, while it is called to day, lest any of you be hardened through the Deceitfulness of Sin [Heb. 4:12-13].
Let us labour therefore to enter into that Rest, lest any man fall after the same Example of Unbelief [Heb. 4:11].
For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the Heavenly Gift, and were made Partakers of the Holy Ghost, and have tasted the good Word of God, and the Powers of the World to come; If they shall fall away; to renew them again unto Repentance, seeing they crucifie to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame [Heb. 6:4-6].
Looking diligently, lest any man fail of the Grace of God, lest any root of Bitterness springing up, trouble you, and thereby many be defiled [Heb. 12:15].
Q. Doth he speak this only by Supposition; or doth he assert it not only possible, but certain?
A. For the time will come, when they will not endure sound Doctrine; but after their own Lusts shall they heap to themselves Teachers, having itching Ears; and they shall turn away their Ears from the Truth, and shall be turned unto Fables [2 Tim. 4:3-4].
Q. Doth the Apostle even judge it necessary to guard such a one as his beloved Son, Timothy, against this Hazard?
A. This Charge I commit unto thee, Son Timothy, according to the Prophecies which went before on thee, that thou by them might war the good Warfare; Holding Faith in a good Conscience, which some having put away concerning Faith have made Shipwrack [1 Tim. 1:18-19].
For the Love of Money is the Root of all Evil, which while some coveted after, they have erred from the Faith, and pierced themselves through with many Sorrows [2 Tim. 4:10].
And their Word will eat, as doth a Canker, of whom is Hymeneus and Philetus, who concerning the true Faith have erred; saying, That the Resurrection is past already, and overthrown the Faith of some [2 Tim. 2:17-18].
Q. Doth the Apostle any where express his Fears of this, as a thing that may happen to any number of People, who once truly received the Faith of Christ?
A. Well, because of Unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by Faith; be not High minded, but fear [Rom. 11:20].
Now, the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the Faith, &c. [1 Tim. 4:1].
For this cause, when I could no longer forbear, I sent to know your Faith, lest by some means the Tempter have tempted you, and our Labour be in vain [1 Thess. 3:5].
Q. What is the Apostle Peter's mind? does he judge that such as have known the right Way may forsake it?
A. Cursed Children, which have forsaken the Righteous Way, and are gone astray, following the Way of Balaam the son of Bezor who loved the Wages of Unrighteousness; but was rebuked for his Iniquity; the dumb Ass speaking with Man's Voice, forbad the Madness of the Prophet. These are Wells without Water, Clouds that are carried with a Tempest, to whom the mist of Darkness is reserved forever. For when they speak great swelling Words of Vanity, they allure through the Lusts of the Flesh, through much Wantonness; those that were clean escaped from them who live in Error: For if after they have escaped the Pollutions of the World, through the Knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein and overcome, the latter End, is worse with them than the Beginning; for it had been better for them, not to have known the Way of Righteousness, than after they have known it, to turn from the Holy Commandment delivered unto them: But it is happened to them, according to the true Proverb, the Dog is turned to his Vomit again, and the Sow that was washed to her wallowing in the Mire [2 Pet. 2:14-15,18,20-22].
Q. Gives he any Cautions to them that stand, as supposing they may also fall?
A. Ye therefore, Beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware, lest ye also being led away with the Error of the Wicked, fall from your own Stedfastness [2 Pet. 3:17].
Q. May a Man be truly a branch in Christ, or a real Member of his Body, and afterwards be cut off?
A. If any man abide not in me, he is cast forth, as a Branch, and is withered [John 15:6].
Q. May a Righteous man then depart from his Righteousness?
A. But when the Righteous man turneth away from his Righteousness, and commits Iniquity, and dyeth in them, for his Iniquity that he hath done shall he dye [Ezek. 18:26; 33:13].
Q. May a Believer come to such a Condition in this Life, from which he cannot fall away?
A. Him that overcometh will I make a Pillar in the Temple of my God, and he shall go no more out; and I will write upon him the Name of my God, and the name of the City of my God, which is New Jerusalem, who cometh down out of Heaven from my God; and will write upon him my New Name [Rev. 3:12].
Q. May such an one come to be assured that he is in this Condition?
A. For I am perswaded, that neither Death, nor Life, nor Angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor Things present, nor Things to come, nor Heighth, nor Depth, nor any other Creature shall be able to separate us from the Love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord [Rom. 8:38-39].