Apostasy Danger

For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses:
~ Hebrews 10:26-28

But call to remembrance the former days, in which, after ye were illuminated, ye endured a great fight of afflictions;
~ Hebrews 10:32

Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?
~ Matthew 7:21-22

They on the rock are they, which, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away.
~ Luke 8:13

And the destruction of the transgressors and of the sinners shall be together, and they that forsake the LORD shall be consumed.
~ Isaiah 1:28

Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?
~ Hebrews 10:29

Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
~ Hebrews 12:2

The Nature of Apostasy from the Profession of the Gospel and the Punishment of Apostates Declared,


An Exposition of Hebrews 6:4-6;


An Inquiry Into The Causes And Reasons Of The Decay Of The
Power Of Religion In The World, Or The Present General
Defection From The Truth, Holiness, And Worship Of The Gospel;
Also, Of The Proneness Of Churches And Persons Of All Sorts
Unto Apostasy.

With Remedies and Means of Prevention.

By John Owen

Search the Scriptures — John 5:39.


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 crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.
~ Hebrews 6:4-6

The following contains an excerpt from Chapter Twelve of his work.

Chapter 12.

Inferences from the foregoing discourses — the present danger of all sorts of persons, in the prevalency of apostasy from the truth and decays in the practice of evangelical holiness.

The last part of this discourse is designed for cautions unto those who yet stand, or think they stand, with respect unto that general defection from the gospel whose causes and occasions we have thus far inquired into. And thereunto some directions may be added, to be used as preventives of its contagion.

This method are we guided unto by the apostle, who, having declared the apostasy and ruin which ensued thereon of the generality of the church of the Jews, improves the consideration of it unto the caution of others, under a present profession of the truth. “Thou wilt say then,” saith he to the Gentile believers, “The branches were broken off, that I might be grafted in. Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not high-minded, but fear: for if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee. Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off,” Romans 11:19- 22. And in another place, on an alike occasion, he speaks unto the same purpose: “Let him that thinketh he standeth, take heed lest he fall,” 1 Corinthians 10:12.

Most men are apt to suppose that the continuance of the true religion in any place depends solely on the prudence and industry of those unto whom the conduct of its outward concerns are committed. The interest of some and the duty of others, in the management of human laws and constitutions, are generally looked on as a sufficient and the only means of its preservation. And those of this persuasion think they have personally no concernment herein, but only to herd themselves in the multitude, and to take their fate, whatever it be. Such as these will despise our cautions, as those from which the reasons of their confidences and fears are most remote. But whereas the profession of religion in the community of Christians will not be preserved but by the power of it in individuals, the only root whereon it will long thrive or grow, we shall not at all concern ourselves in them by whom the directions of their duty are thought needless or useless; for after the utmost exercise of human policy, it is the wisdom that is from above which must be our stability. And if the power of truth and holiness be not preserved in the hearts and lives of particular persons, the profession of them in churches, or the pretense of them in nations (which are all that will remain), are neither acceptable unto God nor useful unto the souls of men.

Some think themselves, as for their own part, little concerned in these things. That there is such a defection from the gospel as hath been complained of they cannot deny, and they will also grant that it is desperately pernicious unto them that are overtaken thereby; therefore they suppose it not amiss that men should be warned of its danger and directed to avoid it. But this they think necessary for others, not for themselves; for as for their part, they have not the like occasions, nor are exposed unto the same temptations, with them who formerly apostatized from the gospel or are in danger now so to do. Besides, they know well enough what are their own resolutions, and that though all men should forsake either the doctrine taught in or the obedience required by the gospel, yet should their constancy be immovable! But I do not think these apprehensions sufficient to render our warnings needless. Occasions and temptations are not in our power; our greatest present freedom from them will not secure us from the assaults of the next hour. Peter foresaw not his dangers and fears when he so confidently engaged unto constancy in the profession of his Master, which yet within a few hours came upon him. And such is the subtlety of our spiritual adversaries, that sometimes we are under the power of temptation when we think ourselves most remote from it. It is beyond the compass of human reason to take at once a prospect of all the causes and means thereof, with the ways of its efficacy and prevalency. And if at any time we judge ourselves free from an hour of temptation, which comes upon the world to try them that dwell therein, which most are exercised with and many are prevailed on by, so as to be secure and regardless of the means of our preservation, of all men we are in the most danger to be ruined by it. Neither will the best of our resolutions be of any avail without the utmost of our endeavors. The great apostle thought and resolved with respect unto the person of Christ that he would neither deny him nor forsake him, and it this confidence did not betray him into his fall, yet to be sure it did not preserve him from it; and it was upon his own experience that he gave afterward that holy advice, that we should “give a reason of the hope that is in us with meekness and fear,” 1 Peter 3:14, 15, and “pass the time of our sojourning here in fear,” chap. 1:17. The highest present confidences have ever proved the most deceiving presages of future stability. Wherefore, the utmost I design in the ensuing cautions is but to excite men unto a due apprehension of their danger, that they be not surprised into that pernicious security which is the mire wherein this rush doth grow.

1. The consideration of the extent and almost universality of this apostasy may be of use unto this purpose. Ignorance, profaneness, worldly- mindedness, with sensuality of life, have obtained the most eminent catholicism in Christendom. The complaint of the prophet is not unsuited to the present state thereof: Isaiah 1:4-6, “Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evil- doers, children that are corrupters: they have forsaken the LORD, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger, they are gone away backward. The whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint. From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it; but wounds, and bruises, and putrifying sores.” Do we hear but of this or that individual person who hath apostatized from a profession of holiness, into a sensual, wicked, worldly course of life, or is turned from the faith into pernicious errors? there is no man that is wise and careful of his eternal concerns, but he will take it as a warning to examine, try, and be careful of himself; and this counsel is laid before us by the apostle, 2 Timothy 2:17-19. What, then, is required of us when we see nations, churches, multitudes of people, by one means or other, degenerated from that power of godliness which once they professed? If we hear that one or other in a city is visited with the plague, we are not altogether insensible of our own concern and danger, because we know how usual it is for the infection of that disease to spread and diffuse itself; but if the whole city be infected, and thousands fall under it every week, there is none so sottish as to need much warning of their danger. And shall we be less concerned for our immortal souls and their eternal condition than we are for these frail carcasses and their continuance for a few days in the world, which, if they escape one distemper, may yet in a few moments fall under the power of another? This spiritual “pestilence,” that hath formerly “walked in darkness,” is now a “destruction wasting at noonday.” Nations are depopulated by it and cities left desolate, as unto their interest in God and the gospel; and is it not high time to “look diligently” lest the infection reach unto us also, lest we also should “fail” and come short “of the grace of God,” and be “hardened through the deceitfulness of sin?” As, then, our bodies are of the same natural frame and constitution, as they have in them the same burnouts, the same kind of animal spirits, as are in those who are infected with the plague, whereby we are obnoxious unto the same infection with them; so there are in our souls and minds the same principles of sin and love of the world as are infected, drawn away, enticed, excited, and enraged, by outward occasions and temptations, until they have issued in apostasy. Do we think that we shall be always easily preserved, and that whilst we are careless and secure, from that torrent which hath carried away such multitudes before it? Are we in ourselves better than they, or any of them? Have we a patent for our preservation, whilst we neglect any ways, means, or diligence that the rule requireth thereunto? Doth not God show unto us, not one, but many churches and nations, saying, “Go unto those Shilohs where I some time placed my name, and see what is become of them, and what I have done unto them? Will ye go after them? have yea mind to be made like unto them? Think not to say within yourselves, ‘We have Abraham to our father; we have those outward privileges and advantages which they had not:’ for they also enjoyed the same until they had forfeited them by their apostasy.” Certainly the general prevalency of this evil proclaims such a danger as no wise man, no man that takes care of his own salvation, ought or indeed can neglect. Wherefore, as it is always with Christians, if ever it be, a time to watch, to stand on our guard, to take unto ourselves the whole armor of God, to be jealous of ourselves, to be constant and diligent in the use of all means, both private and public, for our preservation, it is now a time so to be. And if professors will not be awakened; if they will not stir up themselves with the gifts and graces which they have received; if they will please themselves that all is well with them, and is likely so to be; if they will yet immix themselves with boldness and confidence in the ways of the world; — oh that my head were a fountain of tears! oh that my soul could mourn in secret for them! seeing assuredly they will not be able to stand in that day of temptation which is come upon the face of the earth, to try them that dwell therein. The outward court is long since given to be trodden down by the Gentiles, and how soon the enemies may roar in the very sanctuaries, and set up their banners for tokens, we know not; for, —

2. The present state of this defection hath a dangerous aspect. Physicians say, “Nemo moritur in declinatione morbi,” — “No man dies in the declension of his disease;” and when a public pestilential distemper is in its wane or decay, the danger is esteemed in a great measure over. But whilst a disease is yet growing and daily spreading its contagion, whilst the bills of mortality are every week increased, they are only hardened and profligate persons whom the commonness of the judgment renders regardless and senseless of it. And it is no otherwise with the evil complained of at this day. There is almost nothing in the world that all sober men do generally agree in but this alone, that the whole world doth daily wax worse and worse. Who can give an instance of the decrease or abatement of any one sin in its love or practice? but that some are advanced to higher degrees of confidence in their perpetration than former days or ages afford us any precedent of, every one can declare. What instances have we of a spiritual recovery from any of our decays? What attempts unto that purpose are made by any, unless by such as are not of consideration, as have not advantages to enable them to effect any thing therein? The world is highly at variance about religion, managing its differences with great animosities and industry, how one way, party, and profession, may draw persons from other ways and professions. The sole business of the church of Rome is, by all manner of artifices to win over men unto their communion; that is, a subjection of their souls, consciences, and entire interests here and for eternity, to the authority of the pope. Others bestir themselves as well as they are able to keep what they have, and to rescue men from their seductions; — and although they have the advantage of the truth on their side, and for the most part the advantage of abilities in the management of their cause, yet they visibly lose ground every day; and where one is recovered from the Roman interest, many are added unto it. And there can be no reason assigned hereof, but only that the apostasy is upon its increase, this being one way of it. Half that pains would have formerly turned a whole city from Popery which will not now succeed unto the preservation of one person. But, in the meantime, both in one profession and another, all sorts of men continue regardless of gospel holiness and obedience; and whilst they quarrel about the outward form, the inward power of godliness lies neglected. Do we see things anywhere in the world upon a recovery, or any thriving design for the retrieval of holiness? The name and thing are growing more and more into contempt. What instance can be given wherein this apostasy from the gospel doth or may exert itself, — be it in atheism, be it in Popery, in hatred of and scoffing at the mysteries of evangelical truth, in worldliness, profaneness, vanity, and sensuality of life, in the coldness of love and barrenness among professors, — that is not openly in its progress? And is this a time to be secure, careless, or negligent? Are we sure that this epidemical infection shall not enter our habitations? Do we not find how it hath, one way or other, attempted us already? Can we find no decay in zeal or love among ourselves, no adherence unto the world unsuited unto our present state and condition in it, no neglect of duties, no rareness in divine visitations, no want of life and delight in spiritual communion with Christ, no hurtful growth of carnal wisdom, with all its attendants? or have we not found ourselves, one way or other, sensibly attacked by these evils? It is to be feared that those who can make no observation of any thing of this nature among themselves are somewhat sick of the Laodicean distemper. And if we will not be awakened and stilted up to a more than ordinary diligence, care, and watchfulness, at such a season as this is, it is to be feared that ere long the generality of professors will come to be in the condition of the church of Sardis, — to have a name to live, but indeed and in the sight of Christ to be dead.

3. As this apostasy is yet in its progress, so what will be its event, what it will rise unto, is altogether uncertain. God can put a stop unto it when he pleaseth, as he hath in his holy purposes fixed bounds unto it which it shall not pass; but in the meantime, being greatly provoked by the ingratitude of a wicked world, no man knows how long he may suspend those more powerful influences and more extraordinary effects of his word and Spirit which are needful unto the healing of the nations, and without which they will not be cured. I hope for better things and pray for better things; but I have no certain ground of assurance that this apostasy shall not grow until, in one instance or other of it, it swallow up all visible profession. The whole world, so far as I know (I mean these parts of it), may become papal again, or be so corrupted in their principles and profane in their lives as that it is no great matter what their profession in religion be. Two things I do know or believe, — namely, (1.) That “the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his.” His elect, that truly fear him and diligently serve him, shall be preserved from perishing eternally, and from every thing that necessarily leads thereunto. (2.) That God hath appointed a time and season wherein he will not only put a stop unto this defection from the gospel, but an end also. He will one day execute the vengeance that he hath written and recorded on the throne, power, and kingdom of the antichristian apostasy, and in one day shall the plagues of Babylon come upon her; and he will again “turn to the people a pure language, that they may all call on the name of the LORD, to serve him with one consent,” Zephaniah 3:9. He will again revive the beauty of his worship, and the glory of holiness in the earth; but, in the meantime, what things may come unto I know not. Those who pretend to a clearer inspection into future things may not do amiss strictly to examine the grounds whereon they proceed; for many have been made ashamed of their predictions, that within such or such a time the yoke of Babylon should be broken. This is all I say (and I say it only for myself), I know no assurance that can be given on infallible grounds that the apostasy which we are treating of shall not one way or other, in one instance or other, become again to be catholic, and prevail against all open, visible profession of the purity and power of gospel worship and holiness. Now, if this be not so unto others, yet unto myself it ought to be a warning how I may be thought worthy to escape, and to stand before the Son of man. And I am sure there is so much danger of it at least as to deserve the consideration of all who take care of their eternal salvation; for if things should come to such a pass, they are not many, they are but very few, who will be entirely preserved. The most will, one way or other, suffer loss; and it is not an easy thing to be found among the number of the few in such a season. Can we think that men careless in holy duties, cold in zeal, lukewarm in love, barren in good works, cleaving to the world and conformable unto it, low in their light, dubious in their state, useless in the world, fearful of trials, will be of this number? They are woefully deceived who are pleased with such apprehensions Other principles, other ways, courses, and practices, will be required in them who shall be hidden and safeguarded in that day.

4. The various ways whereby this defection prevails in the world should also warn us to stand upon our guard. Were it of one sort only, did it work only one way, or make use of one engine alone for its progress, the evil and danger of it might be the more easily either withstood or avoided; but as we have before referred it unto three general heads, — with respect unto the doctrine, the holiness, and the worship of the gospel, — so under each of them there are various ways and means whereby it is promoted. The infection from this plague is taken innumerable ways, Hebrews 12:1. Some take it in their shops or especial vocations; some in their societies, civil and ecclesiastical; some from the vanities and pleasures, some from the profits and advantages, of the world. Unbelief, the deceitfulness of sin, corrupt lusts and affections, spiritual sloth, cares about and love of riches, lie all in a readiness to give entertainment to and to embrace any opportunity, advantage, or means, whatever it be, whereby this apostasy may be admitted and take place in them. See Hebrews 3:12,13, 12:15-17. Satan, in the meantime, labors by his insinuations to corrupt our minds, to poison our lusts, and to supply them with all inveigling or provoking objects, 2 Corinthians 11:3; 1 Peter 5:8. In this state of things, look how many public temptations there are in the world, so many general ways and means are there whereby this apostasy doth prevail; and who can reckon up these temptations? Hence it is that men fall under this evil in such various ways, and unto such various degrees. Some do so by errors and “damnable heresies, denying the Lord that bought them;” some by superstition and idolatry; some by a contempt of gospel mysteries, and preferring another way of duty before evangelical obedience; some by ambition and pride of life; some by love of the world, and a neglect of duties spiritual and moral, under a deceiving profession; some by suffering carnal wisdom and some sensual lusts to devour their convictions and their efficacy; some by the uncertainty of their minds, brought to an indifferency in all things supernatural and divine; some by vain-glory and shame to be found among the scorned society of those who are truly religious; and multitudes are initiated into an irrecoverable profaneness by the vain pomps and spectacles of the age. And other ways there are, more than can be recounted, whereby this evil is propagated, and men fall under the power of it. By this means the very common air we breathe in is infected, 1 Corinthians 15:33. Snakes are in all grass whereon we tread, and scorpions under every stone. Snares are laid for us on every hand, and those (some of them) so gilded and set off, that multitudes of loose professors have taken them up and wear them as their ornaments. Those who escape one evil do every day fall into others. And how shall they escape who are encompassed with so many dangers, if they live in the neglect of any one duty or means of their preservation that God hath appointed and made useful thereunto?

5. Consider that there is an apostasy which is irrecoverable, and it will end in eternal ruin. This is that which we are taught in this context, according unto the exposition before given of it. No man in this world can be, by the rule of the gospel, in an unsalvable condition, — that is, be concluded under an unavoidable destruction by any known rule of the revealed will of God, — unless it be an apostate. There are also several sorts and degrees of apostasy that may have several causes and effects, and so various events. Great surprisals, strong temptations, negligence in watching against the deceitfulness of sin, may produce temporary abnegations of Christ and the gospel, woful declensions from the due observation of his commands, with wandering into foolish opinions, and yet persons may be recovered from them all, and brought by repentance unto salvation. Signal instances of this grace and patience in God might be given. And this is sufficient to render the despair of them causeless who are ever awakened in this world (in) time enough to endeavor a deliverance from any sin, or course of sinning, provoking and destructive; for when any man is by any means called to have any thing to do with God about his eternal concernments, God doth not allow him to be the absolutely sovereign judge of himself, which would usurp his prerogative and put the sinner in the place of God. He that despairs says, “I am in the stead of God to myself in this matter. There is neither goodness, nor grace, nor mercy fu him, but what I can comprehend.” And this evil God hath obviated in signal instances of the recovery of great apostates. But yet withal there is, as we have showed, an apostasy that is irrecoverable; and hereof God permits many examples in this world, to put an awe not only on bold and presumptuous, but also on careless and negligent sinners: for whereas our apostle cloth expressly twice mind the Hebrews of this severity of God against apostates, in this place and in chap. 10:26,27, in the one he doth it with respect unto unprofitableness under the means of grace, and in the other with respect unto a negligence in attending unto the administration of gospel ordinances. Now, whereas any men may be overtaken with the beginning of decays and declensions from the holiness and worship of the gospel, all which have a tendency in their own nature unto this irrecoverable apostasy, ought they not to be continually jealous over themselves, lest they should pass the bouunds God hath fixed unto his patience and grace? Ought we not to be careful about every sin or omission of duty that hath a tendency unto this doleful issue? For this very end, that we may be warned to take heed of the beginning of apostasy, doth the apostle in this place declare the end of it. The reader may, if he please (to help him herein), consult our discourses on chap. 4:3. It is not an easy task to stop a course in backsliding when once it is entered into. And I shall close this warning with naming two directions unto this purpose: — (1.) Take heed of a course in any sin. Though every sin cloth not immediately tend unto final apostasy, yet a course in any sin continued doth so. (2.) Take heed of touching on such especial sins as have a peculiar tendency thereunto; and of what nature they are hath been declared.

6. Our last consideration of this kind shall be taken from the nature and guilt of this sin, wherever it be found, with the severity of God against it; and we may look upon it as it is total, such as that supposed by the apostle, Hebrews 6:4-6. The exposition we have given of the words will warrant us to conclude that total apostasy from the gospel once professed is a greater sin, and of a more heinous nature, than that of the Jews in crucifying the Lord Christ in the days of his flesh. This was sufficiently proved in the exposition of the words. It remains only that we do briefly inquire what doth concur unto such a total apostasy, whereby the truth of the exposition and the necessity of the warnings given will be made yet more evident. And though I shall speak with especial respect unto total apostasy from all profession, yet are the things that shall be spoken to be found, in their degree and measure, in all those who are guilty of that partial defection which we have described. There are, therefore, always found in this great offense the things ensuing: —

(1.) The loss of all taste of any goodness or excellency in the gospel, in the truth or state of its profession and worship. There is no man who hath ever made a profession of the gospel in earnest, beyond pretense and custom, but he hath found some kind of taste, relish, or sweetness, in the things of it. They “taste of the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come.” Either in the things themselves, or in the manner of their dispensation, or of the duties of worship enjoined therein, they have found somewhat that hath given their minds and consciences some satisfaction. A man cannot go into a pleasant garden in the spring but he will smell some savor from the flowers, though he gather not one of them. A man cannot take meat savory and well condited into his mouth but he will taste the relish of it, though he have no mind nor appetite to eat it; nor can any man walk in the sun but he will have some impressions from its heat. It is so, it can be no otherwise, with them who live under the preaching of the gospel and make profession of its doctrine. More or less it will insinuate itself into their minds with a taste of its excellency and goodness. This in the case considered is lost in the first place; and generally it comes to pass by a love of sin and the pleasures of the world. When this hath filled and possessed the soul, all its senses grow dead unto spiritual things, it hath no faculty or ability to taste any relish in them, yea, it loathes and abhors them as contrary to what it hath immersed itself in or given up itself unto. This usually is lost in the first place. Such persons find nothing any longer in Christ or the gospel for which they should either delight in them or desire them. And it seems to be thus with so many in the world who once gave hopes of better things, that the consideration of it is dreadful.

(2.) This is quickly followed with a loss of all prevading evidence and conviction of the truth of the very doctrine of the gospel. This conviction all are supposed to have who profess it, and all really have it who profess it in any sincerity. Why else do they make profession of it, if they assent not unto its truth upon its conviction and evidence? for we speak not at all of them whose profession hath no other principle or foundation but custom or education. Others build their persuasion upon grounds and evidences prevalent to obtain their assent unto the truth against temptations and objections. This apostates lose in the next place. The truth remains what it was, and so do the arguments and evidences of it; but they have no longer any force upon or authority in their minds. It may be they do not presently renounce the gospel as a lie or “a cunningly-devised fable;” they may let the notions of it lie loose in their minds for a season neglected and unregarded, but give them no part of that entertainment which is due unto acknowledged truths of that nature, nor do they receive any impressions from its authority. And when men have lost these, they have lost their assent to the truth of the gospel upon its proper evidence, and are directly unbelievers; and this on every occasion will issue in a formal renunciation of the truth of the whole. And when men arrive unto this posture in their minds, they will discover themselves, as by a conversation wholly regardless of the precepts of Christ, so also by light, irreverent expressions concerning the Scripture; which, where they have freedom, will be poured out from the abundance of their hearts. This step towards total apostasy will follow that foregoing. When once men have lost all taste and relish of the goodness and excellency of the word of God on their hearts and affections, they will not long retain any prevalent evidence of its truth in their minds. Hence, —

(3.) A contempt of the things promised in the gospel doth ensue. The promises of the gospel do indeed contain those things wherein the evident blessedness and happiness of our nature doth consist. Such are serenity of mind in this world, and eternal felicity in the enjoyment of God. These, for the substance of them, mankind cannot despise until they grow atheistically brutish; but they may, and many do so, in the manner and on the terms of their proposal and declaration by the promises of the gospel. That this enjoyment of God, wherein everlasting happiness consisteth, must be in and through Jesus Christ alone; that the way of attaining thereunto, and the only means of present peace and serenity of mind, is by faith and obedience in and unto him, — this they despise and contemn. This naturally follows on the former; for all expectation of good by and from the promises of the gospel depends on the evidence that we have of the truth thereof, and when that is lost, these will be despised. Now, herein consisteth one of the greatest aggravations of this sin; for whereas men cannot but desire the things (for the substance of them) which are promised in the gospel, as those wherein their blessedness doth consist, they will, out of hatred to Jesus Christ, reject and despise them, and eternally deprive their souls of them, rather than accept of them in and through him. They will rather never have any interest in God than have it by Christ. This rejection, therefore, of the promises of the gospel, as those which either as to the matter of them are not to be desired, or as to the truth of them not to be trusted, is the most provoking sin. No greater reproach can possibly be cast on Jesus Christ, as that which leaveth him the honor neither of his truth nor power, neither of which the Jews could in the least impeach when they took away his life. And, —

(4.) They choose some other way or means in the place and stead of Christ and the gospel, for the ends which they once sought after by them. So did those persons who fell off to Judaism. They looked for that in the law and ceremonies which they could not find in the gospel. And of these there are two sorts: — (1.) Such as retain their first end in general, but reject the gospel from being a sufficient means for attaining it; (2.) Some that renounce the whole end itself, and seek for satisfaction other ways.