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THE BELIEVER'S INTERNAL WITNESS; Or, The Certain Evidence of True Faith. *

I JOHN V. 10.

He that believeth on the Son of God, bath the witness in

WE

bimfelf.

E have, in the beginning of this chapter, two things obfervable.

ift, An exhortation to true obedience, and love of God, from its connection with the mutual love of God's children. This exhortation is preffed with feveral arguments, the first is taken from the nature and office of children; "Whofoever believeth that Jefus is the Chrift, is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat, loveth him alfo that is begotten of him," ver. 1. He that loveth the father, will love the child. But how may we know, if our love toward the children of God be of the right fort? This is answered, ver. 2. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments." Then is our love to our neighbour true, when it arifes from our love to God, and is founded thereupon; for, here he makes love

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* This fubject was handled in two difcourfes, at the celebration of the facrament of the Lord's fupper at Stirling, June 25. 1749. The first on the Saturday before, and the fecond on the Monday after the folemnity.

to

to God, the fulfilling of the whole law: and this is the fecond argument for the love of God, namely, from the facility and poffibility thereof; "For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments; and his commandments are not grievous," ver. 3. The love of God is very poffible to the children of God, feeing his com mandments are not grievous, namely, to believers; for, to be a believer, and a child of God, are one and the fame thing here. Now, to the believer the commands of God are not grievous, becaufe, by faith, he fulfills the law in Chrift his Head; and becaufe, by faith, he is regenerate; and, by virtue of his regeneration, hath the love of God and his neighbour begun in him, and a new obedience according to all the precepts of the law. It is true, the commands are grievous to the regenerate, in fo far as they are yet flesh; but not fo far as they are renewed, or as to the fanctified part: therefore the apoftle explains and amplifies this, ver. 4." For whatsoever is born of God, overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith." Why is it that the commands of God are not grievous to God's children? Becaufe, though the reigning lufts of these that want faith, make the commands of God grievous to them; yet the children of God have that faith that conquers and overcomes all worldly lufts. Their faith hath influence on the mortification of the old man, and the vivification of the new man; and fo upon ther purification of the heart. This is the principal way of faith's overcoming the world, namely, by its fubduing and conquering worldly lufts, whereby others are captivated. This victory over the world, he more particularly afcribes to believing, ver. 5. "Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jefus is the Son of God?" Why, do not devils believe this? Yea, but they do not apply it to themfelves; they cannot believe that the Son of God came for them but true faith is applicatory and appropri ating; applying and appropriating even the filiation and fonfhip of Chrift: leading the man to believe that he is God's adopted fon, upon the account of Chrift who is his natural Son. But now,

adly, We

2dly, We have the confirmation of Chrift's being the Meffiah, from verfe 6, 7, 8. Having fhewed the excellency of faith, and that it confified in a believing that Chrift was the Son of God; now he comes to confirm this foundation of faith, that Chrift is indeed the Son of God; "This is he that came by water and blood, even Jefus Chrift," &c. The typical adminiftration of old was partly by water and legal washing; partly by blood or bloody facrifices. Now, Chrift came to fulfil both thefe types. By working regeneration, he performs that which the legal wafhings reprefented; and by purchafing redemption and reconciliation with the price of his blood, he performs that which the blood of the facrifices of old, adumbrate and point forth. And hereupon the apoftle leads us to the tel timony of the Spirit, which believers have within them, and fo comes more directly to treat of the witneffes of Chrift being the Son of God, particularly the witneffes in heaven, and the witneffes on earth.

"For

1. The witneffes in heaven, are three, ver. 7. there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghoft; and these three are one." How eminently did thefe three witnefs Chrift's Sonfhip when he was baptized! The Father from heaven with an audible voice, faying, "This is my beloved Sonin whom I am well-pleafed." The Son prefent in our nature which he had affumed. The Holy Ghoft vifibly appearing in the fhape of a dove, and refting on him. And many other ways do these three witneffes atteft Chrift's Sonship; as in the word; in the miracles of Chrift; in the miniftry of the gospel: but, in whatever way, thefe three are one; not only one in effence, but one in will and confent; they agree in their teftimony.

3. The witneffes on earth are three; the Spirit, the water, and the blood. Where by the Spirit we are to understand the effufion of the Holy Ghoft, and his own immediate manifeftation. By the water we are to understand regeneration and fan&tification, reprefented by the old washing and cleanfing with water. And by the blood we are to understand redemption and fanctification

fication, through the blood of Chrift. Thefe give their testimony to this truth, and witness that Chrift is the Son of God: and they are faid to do it on earth, even in all believers.

Now, having adduced all thefe witneffes, he fhews them all to be divine witneffes; and the refufal thereof to be extremely dangerous, for thereby we make God a liar. However, the ninth verfe refers efpecially to the feventh, concerning the witneffes in heaven; "If we re. ceive the witnefs of men, the witnefs of God is greater: for, this is the witness of God, which he hath teftified of his Son." But ver. 10. where our text lies, hath a reference especially to the eighth, concerning the witness on earth; He that believeth on the Son of God, bath the witnefs in bimfelf. The three on earth bear witnefs in the court of the believer's breaft.

In the words of the text you have the believer def cribed, or his faith accounted for, and unfolded, in these four things.

(1.) The act of it; it is called a believing, namely, upon the authority of God teftifying and declaring what he fhould believe. This believing is called a receiving of Chrift; "To as many as received him, to them gave he power, [or privilege,] to become the fons of God, even to them that believe in his name," John i. 12. It is a receiving Chrift, and receiving the teftimony concerning him; fetting to the feal that God is true.

(2.) The object of this faith: it is a believing on the Son of God. This object of faith is fully illuftrated in the following verfe, namely, "This is the record of God, that he hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son." True faith then hath the revelation of Chrift as the only begotten, and eternal Son of God, and Saviour of the world, for its object. This is God's record and teftimony, that Chrift is his Son and our Saviour; that he is our falvation and eternal life, by God's appointment and conftitution. But,

(3.) We have the evidence of it: He that believeth, hath the witness thereof. By the witnefs here, I conceive, we are to understand what we have in the eight verfe, and in the clofe of the fixth. It is the Spirit

that

that beareth witnefs, because the Spirit is truth. The Spirit, together with the water and blocd, is the witnefs on earth, and within believers, which concurs with the witneffes in heaven, and agrees with them in witneffing the fame thing, namely, that Chrift is the Son of God, and the true Meffias. This is the end and defign of all these witneffes in general. But the fpecial end and defign of this internal witnefs to particular fouls is, their own adoption, filiation, and falvation, through this Meffiah. This is exprefly declared to be the end, ver. 13. "That ye may know, that ye have eternal life."

(4.) You have the fubject of it: He hath the witness in himfelf. He that believeth the witnefs and teftimony of God, teftifying his Son to be our life and falvation, he hath the witnefs in himself, in his own heart, in his own foul. He finds and feels him as the Author of faith within him. It is not a fluctuating opinion, but an internal teftimony; and internal fenfation of what God teftifies and fpeaks, namely, peace and falvation, in and thro' his Son Jefus Chrift. He that believeth in Chrift hath the Spirit of Chrift, of whom Chrift hath faid,

He fhall teftify of me," John xv. 26. And again, "He fhall glorify me; for, he fhall receive of mine, and fhew it unto you," John xvi. 14. He teftifies in the man alfo by water and blood. He therefore, that believeth, hath a fufficient efficacious witnefs in himself, and needs not feek it elsewhere.

What is further neceffary for explaining this fubject, will come in under the profecution of the following doctrine.

OBSERV. That true faith carries its own evidence, or witnefs, along with it.

See for illuftration of this, befides the text, the follow-ing fcriptures: Eph. i. 13. "After ye believed, ye were fealed with the Holy Spirit of promife-Rom. viii. 16. "The Spirit alfo beareth witnefs, with our fpirits, that we are the fons of God." I think it was this evidence the apoftle's faith carried along with it, when he said, 2 Tim. i. 12. "I know in whom I have believed."

And

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