“The Lord claims the honour; and He engages for the accomplishment of a complete salvation, that no power shall pluck His people out of His hand, or separate them from His love.
Their perseverance in grace, besides being asserted in many express promises, may be proved with the fullest evidence from the unchangeableness of God, the intercession of Christ, the union which subsists between Him and His people, and from the principle of spiritual life He has implanted in their hearts, which in its own nature is connected with everlasting life; for grace is the seed of glory.
I have not room to enlarge on these particulars, but refer you to the following texts, from which various strong and invincible arguments might be drawn for their confirmation: Luke 14:28–30, compared with Phil. 1:6; Heb. 7:25, with Rom. 8:34–39; John 14:19, with John 15:1, 2; John 4:14.
Upon these grounds, my friend, why may not you, who have fled for refuge to the hope set before you, and committed your soul to Jesus, rejoice in His salvation and say:
‘While Christ is the foundation, root, head, and husband of His people, while the word of God is Yea and Amen, while the counsels of God are unchangeable, while we have a Mediator and High Priest before the throne, while the Holy Spirit is willing and able to bear witness to the truths of the Gospel, while God is wiser than men, and stronger than Satan, so long the believer in Jesus is and shall be safe. Heaven and earth must pass away; but the promise, the oath, the blood, on which my soul relies, affords me a security which can never fail.’
As the doctrines of election and perseverance are comfortable, so they cut off all pretence of boasting and self-dependence when they are truly received in the heart, and therefore tend to exalt the Saviour. Of course they stain the pride of all human glory, and leave us nothing to glory in but the Lord.
The more we are convinced of our utter depravity and inability from first to last, the more excellent will Jesus appear. The whole may give the physician a good word, but the sick alone know how to prize him. And here I cannot but remark a difference between those who have nothing to trust to but free grace, and those who ascribe a little at least to some good disposition and ability in man.
We assent to whatever they enforce from the word of God on the subject of sanctification. We acknowledge its importance, its excellency, its beauty; but we could wish they would join more with us in exalting the Redeemer’s name.
Their experience seems to lead them to talk of themselves, of the change that is wrought in them, and the much that depends upon their own watchfulness and striving. We likewise would be thankful if we could perceive a change wrought in us by the power of grace; we desire to be found watching likewise.
But when our hopes are most alive, it is less from a view of the imperfect beginnings of grace in our hearts, than from an apprehension of Him who is our all in all. His person, His love, His sufferings, His intercession, His compassion, His fulness, and His faithfulness,—these are our delightful themes, which leave us little leisure, when in our best frames, to speak of ourselves.
How do our hearts soften, and our eyes melt, when we feel some liberty in thinking and speaking of Him! For we had no help in time past, nor can have any in time to come, but from Him alone.
If any persons have contributed a mite to their own salvation, it was more than we could do. If any were obedient and faithful to the first calls and impressions of His Spirit, it was not our case. If any were prepared to receive Him beforehand, we know that we were in a state of alienation from Him.
We needed sovereign, irresistible grace to save us, or we had been lost forever. If there are any who have a power of their own, we must confess ourselves poorer than they are.
We cannot watch, unless He watches with us; we cannot strive, unless He strives with us; we cannot stand one moment, unless He holds us up; and we believe we must perish after all, unless His faithfulness is engaged to keep us.
But this we trust He will do, not for our righteousness, but for His own name’s sake, and because, having loved us with an everlasting love, He has been pleased in lovingkindness to draw us to Himself, and to be found of us when we sought Him not.”
–John Newton, “Letter IX: On the Doctrine of Election and Final Perseverance,” in The Works of the John Newton, Volume 1, Ed. Richard Cecil (London: Hamilton, Adams & Co., 1824), 191-192.