"On the Final Perseverance of the Saints in Grace"
Elder Lancaster, 1794
The Elders and Messengers of the several Baptist churches belonging to the Kehukee Association, met at Brother Burkitt's meeting-house, on Sandy Run, in Bertie county, North Carolina, September, 1794 -- The Churches in union with this Association send their Christian salutation: --
BELOVED BRETHREN, BEING favored by Divine Providence, we have once more had a profitable and pleasing interview at time and place appointed. The business we have transacted you have in our minutes, which we hope will meet with your concurrence and approbation.
The subject of our circular letter this year, according to a resolve of our last, is to be "The final perseverance of the saints in grace." And the subject is inseparably connected with, and a concomitant of, that God-exalting, soul-reviving doctrine of particular election, and free, unmerited grace in Christ Jesus, we doubt not of its being cordially received by you, and perused both with pleasure and satisfaction.
To do ample justice to a subject of this magnitude, so copious in its nature and interesting in its consequences, would very far exceed the bounds of a circular letter. We shall therefore only offer a few reasons, supported by the best authority, in favor of it. And, first, a strong and undeniable reason in support of the doctrine may be fairly drawn from the covenant made with Noah: the tenor of which was, that God would no more drown the world by water. See Genesis 9. Now we do not, neither can we, without being guilty of the most daring and gross impiety, call in question or dispute the veracity of God in this solemn promise; neither can any call in question the final perseverance of the saints in grace, without being guilty of offering the most daring insults to the God of truth; for the preservation of the one and the security of the other are, in every point of view, marked with the same awful solemnity of an OATH. For the truth of which we beg leave to refer you to that memorable passage in Isaiah 54:9, 10. For this is as the waters of Noah unto me; for as I have sworn that the waters of Noah no more shall cover the earth, so have I sworn that I would not be wroth with thee nor rebuke thee. For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed, but my kindness shall not
depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the Lord that hath mercy on thee."
From the premises thus laid down by inspiration itself, the conclusion is very natural and obvious, viz: That the people of God have no more reason to doubt of their security in Christ, and final perseverance in grace, than they have that God, contrary to his oath, will send a second deluge of water and drown the world. And whoever disputes the one or the other, is so far an infidel, and deserves no better title from men.
Another authority perfectly similar to the above-quoted passage, we find recorded by that great champion of truth, and pattern of the saints' final perseverance in grace, in Hebrews 6:17, 18. "Wherein God, willing more abundantly to show, unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath -- That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong, consolation who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us." Here we find the apostle speaks of the heirs of promise, who are believers; 2, of the immutability of God's counsel, i.e. respecting the promise and the heirs of it, which he says was confirmed by an OATH -- the reason of which was, that we might have a strong consolation who have fled for refuge to lay hold on the hope set before us; which hope, the apostle saith with great propriety, is an anchor of the soul; neither does he give the least hint of any danger of this anchor giving way, so as not to answer the purpose for which it was intended, but, on the contrary, declares unequivocally, and we may add unconditionally also, that it is both sure and steadfast. Which shows most clearly that Noah was not more safe, when shut up in the ark, than believers are whose lives are hid with Christ in God. Again, we are informed by the same apostle, Romans 8:28. "That all things work together for good to them that love God" -- then consequently nothing can work for their destruction. Again, Jeremiah 32:40. "And I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from them to do them good." But it is objected they may turn away from him, and so finally perish: To which we reply, that the same covenant provides against that also, for in the same verse God says, "I will put my fear in their hearts that they shall not depart from me." So, if God has said that he will not turn away from his people, and that he will never leave nor forsake them (Hebrews 13:5), and that they shall not depart from him -- then surely that man must have a front of brass, and not the fear of God before his eyes, that can dispute the point with his Maker, and say the union may be dissolved, and believers in Christ may finally perish.
As a further confirmation of the doctrine contended for, we offer to your consideration the following Scriptures. Psalm 37:23. "The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord; and he delighteth in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down, for the Lord upholdeth him with his hand." Isaiah 42:16. "And I will bring the blind by a way that they knew not; I will lead them in paths that they have not known: I will make darkness light before them, and crooked things straight. These things will I do unto
them, and not forsake them." Micah 6:8. "Rejoice not against me, O mine enemy: when I fall I shall arise." 1 John 2:19. "They went out from us, but they were not of us: For if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: But they went out that they might be made manifest that they were not of us."
Again, the blessed Jesus hath said, "All that the Father giveth me shall come unto use, and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out;" and further declares, "that it was the will of the Father that he should lose nothing, but that he should raise it up at the last day." That the water he would give his people (which is the graces of his spirit) should be in them a well of water springing unto everlasting life. That he has given them eternal life, and that they shall never perish: And that they shall not come into condemnation, for they are passed from death unto life. And because I live (says he) ye shall live also. For a proof of which, see John 6:36-39; 4:14; 10:28, 29; 5:24.
Several authorities as much in point as those already quoted, offer their friendly assistance, but our scanty limits admonish us it is time to stop. We shall therefore beg leave to quote only two more Scriptures, and with them we close. The first we bring from Romans 8:38, 39. There, says that great apostle to the Gentiles, who was well acquainted with the mind of his divine Lord and Master, and under the immediate inspiration of the Spirit of God -- "I am persuaded, that neither death nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come -- nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." The popular objection that they may separate themselves, is too futile to merit an answer; we shall therefore treat it with silence and deserved contempt, until it shall be made appear by some unheard of arguments, that a believer himself is a nonentity, or no creature at all, which is impossible to be done.
Let the golden chain of God's decrees, and the believer's privileges, bring up the rear. Romans 8:29, 30. "For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the first-born among many brethren. Moreover, whom he did predestinate, them he also called; and whom he called, them he also justified; and whom he justified, them he also glorified." Here, believers, is a golden chain indeed, a chain of God's making, and therefore cannot be broken by all the sophistry of men of corrupt minds, who exceedingly err, not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God. For here it may be observed, that those of whom it is said that they were foreknown, predestinated, called, and justified are identically the same people that are to be glorified -- this being an undeniable fact, we conclude that the argument drawn from this authority is unanswerable, and therefore must be finally conclusive.
Very weighty arguments might also be drawn from the omnipotency, omniscience, and immutability of God, but we have already observed that our limits are exceeded -- therefore, to conclude, we beseech you, dear brethren,
by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living sacrifice to him at all times -- having had much forgiven, let the consideration thereof cause you to love much, and influence you to every good word and work. Let not this blessed soul-reviving doctrine he evilly spoken of through you; but, on the contrary, let your exemplary lives and pious conversation declare to all the world the blessed and happy influence the belief of it has on your daily conduct. Beware of thinking you have already attained, or already perfect; which would be sure to check your pious endeavors to grow in grace, and in the knowledge, not only of the doctrine here laid down, but those doctrines inseparably connected with it.
Lastly, let the consideration of your secure standing in Christ bear you up under all the cross-like and afflictive providence you may have to meet with in your passage through this unfriendly world: being fully persuaded that his promise of "never leaving you" stands firmer than heaven or earth; and that, according to the prayer he put up to his father, you shall ere long be with him, not only to see him and behold his glory, but to adore, beyond the stretch of thought, his divine perfections to all eternity, where your sorrows of every description shall be completely done away, and every divine promise meet its full accomplishment. Now to Him who is able to keep you from falling, and has promised to present you faultless before the throne of his glory, to the only wise God, be glory and thanks-giving throughout all churches, world without end. Amen. Signed by order of the Association. NATHAN MAYO, Moderator, LEMUEL BURKITT, Clerk. ============
[From Elders Lemuel Burkitt & Jesse Read, A Concise History of the Kehukee Baptist Association; Revised and improved by Henry L. Burkitt, 1850, pp. 85-88. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall]
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