صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

come upon the Gentiles, that we might receive the promife of the Spirit through faith." And, verfe 2. "Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?" Faith takes hold of the Spirit; it takes hold of the water; it takes hold of the blood: it takes in the witnefs; and fo the believer hath the witnefs in himself.

[ocr errors]

4. Believers have the witnefs in themselves, because God hath promifed this witnefs to attend believing.See a fweet promise of it, John vii. 37, 38. "He that believeth on me, as the fcripture hath faid, out of his belly fhall flow rivers of living water," &c. See this water further fpoken of, John iv. 14. "The water that I fhall give him, fhall be in him a well of water fpringing up to everlasting life;" that is, even the Spirit witnefling by water, or fanctification.

5. He that believeth hath the witnefs in himself, because outward witneffes cannot clear him with any comfortable evidence; and the Lord wills that believers fhould have ftrong confolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope fet before them: but now, no means, no ordinances, no inftruments, can clear, or comfortably atteft his intereft in Chrift, his fonship, or reconciliation, unless the Spirit of Chrift witness within him. The white of a wall, can as foon make day, as minifters, or outward means, can give comfort or clearness to a believer, unless the Spirit of the Lord concur with the mean, and witnefs in the man's bofom, either by himself, or by water, or by blood.

6. He that believeth hath the witnefs in himself, because true faith hath many falfe witneffes to rife up against it. The devil is a falfe witnefs, that many times. fuggefts to the poor believer, faying, Thou haft no part nor lot in Chrift; thou haft no inheritance in the Son of Jeffe and, indeed, his faith would faint and fail, if he had not a witnefs in himfelf to declare the contrary.-The wicked world are fometimes falfe witneffes, that accufe the believer of being a vain pretender; that he is nothing but a hypocrite: but having a witness in himfelf, it makes him ealy. His carnal reafon is another


falfe witnefs: "Why, fays carnal reafon, do you be"lieve that God will have mercy on the like of you? "Do you think that all the fweet promifes of the cove"nant will be made out to you? Do you think that "fuch a privilege as an intereft in God and Chrift belongs to you?" Many fuch falfe witneffes rife up against faith; and therefore the believer needs to have this true witnefs within, that faith may be able to hold up its head. He that believeth bath the witness in him


Self. I come now,

VI. To the fixth and laft thing of the general method, viz. The application; which we fhall effay in an ufe of information, trial, and exhortation.

The firft ufe may be of information. Is it fo, That He that believeth bath the witness in himself? Hence fee,

1. That though faith alone juftifies, yet juftifying faith is not alone; it hath its witness with it, even the witness of the Spirit, the water, and the blood; namely, manifeft fanctification, as well as juftification. This removes the reproach that Papifts and ignorant Proteftants call upon the doctrine of faith, and justification, thereby alone, as if thus we were enemies to holinefs and fanctification: but, though faith alone justify, yet juftifying faith is not alone; it hath the witness with it, and particularly the witnefs of the water; that is, the fanctifying graces, fruits, and operations of the Spirit.

2. Hence fee how falfe pretenders to faith may be unmasked and difcovered: if none but he that truly believes on the Son of God, hath the witness in himself, then the faith that hath no fuch witness is but a falle faith. Never conclude that you have true faith, unlefs you find, or at leaft, have found the witnefs within you giving teftimony thereto. If you know nothing more or lefs of this witnefs, then it is plain you know nothing of true faith for, it is exprefly faid of all believers, weak or ftrong, He that believeth on the Son of God, bath the witnefs in himself. What have you to say, man, woman? If you were upon your death-bed, and


we should ask you, as we have done at fome, if ever you have been made to believe on the Son of God? Yes, fay you but then we afk what evidence you can give of your faith? Can you produce your witness. to atteft? Can you bring forth the rings, the bracelet, and fignet, the pledges and pawns of his love? Alas! that many people in that cafe, either they can fay nothing to the purpose; and all that fome can fay, is much worfe than if they could fay nothing, while they were never brought out of their lying refuges, but go down to the grave with a lye in their right-hand.

3. Hence fee, what is the true matter of a believer's confidence and affurance: why, they have the witness in themselves; and whenever the witnefs fpeaks, then they not only believe, but believe and are fure; not only that he is Chrift, the Son of the living God, but that he is their Lord and their God. And thus the man's affurance is not built upon a wavering foundation though he may waver himfelf, yet the foundation ftands fure; it is built upon the teftimony of God, or God's witneffes and deponents within him, which cannot atteft a lye.

4. Hence fee, that the believer's doubts, and fears, and jealoufies are inexcufable and unwarrantable; for, he hath the witnefs in himfelf: and his unbelieving doubts do nothing but give the lye to God's witness that is in him. Indeed, the clamours of unbelief may fometimes drown the voice of this witnefs, when it is not fpeaking audibly; and the Spirit, who is the principal witness, being fometimes grieved, may ceafe to depone; but if the witnefs hath attefted your intereft in Chrift, your fonfhip, your peace with God, O beware of fuch unbelieving jealoufies as tend to deny what the witnefs hath declared; for, this is to bear falfe witness against God: if you be left utterly in the dark, rather fufpend your judgment, and fay nothing, than to fay otherwife than the witnefs hath faid; delay your own verdict till once your witnefs fpeak again : and while it is filent, fay not, that either its depofition was false, dark, or fallacious; that it was a fancy or delufion speak not an ill word of your witnefs, left


you thereby reproach God. When matters are at the worit with you, rather fpeak for God than against him. Your fears and doubts are no religion, but fo many lies against the witness.

5. Hence fee, what it is that may fupport a child of God amidst trials that he meets with in the world. He may be tried before several bars. He may be tried at the bar of providence; one affliction on the back of another may try what metal he is of, and put him to all the corners of the fadle, as we speak. He may be tried at the bar of God's law; it may examine and weigh him in its balance, to fee what weight he bears, what conformity he hath to its precepts. He may be

tried at the bar of confcience, and there accufed of innumerable imperfections. He may be tried at the devil's. bar, and there he may be winnowed and fifted as wheat. He may be tried at the bar of men, and brought before governors and kings for Chrift's fake, falfely accufed. Well, whatever bars he be fet before, the witness within him is ready to appear at the bar with him: and whenever it speaks, it will bear him out, and bear him up, and anfwer all that can be faid against him, with one word; If God be for me, who fhall be against me? It is God that juftifieth me, who is he that fhall condemn me?" One word of this witnefs will answer a thousand accufations: the fecret teftimony thereof will bear up the foul under a world of difficulties. See Prov. xiv. 14. "A good man fhall be fatisfied from himself."

6. Hence fee, what a lonely, defolate flate an unbe." liever is in. If he that believeth hath the witnefs in himself, then he that believeth not hath no fuch witnels. An unbeliever wants a good bofom friend a be-" liever hath. He that wants this witness in himself, wants good company within doors. There is no better company in the world than this witnefs that the believer hath. But the unbeliever is defolate and deftitute in this refpect: he hath no fuch company; yea, he hath the quite contrary, he hath the devil and an ill confcience within him: he may have an erring conscience, that may atteft a lye unto him and deceive him, to which the devil may concur, by keeping all quiet within;

within; for, "While the firong man keeps the houfe, the goods are at peace:" or he may have a feared confcience, that may atteft nothing good nor bad, being ftupified, and feared as with a hot iron.

The Second Ufe may be for Examination. If he that believeth hath the witnefs in himfelf, then try if you be believers indeed; or, if you can produce the witnesses of your faith. This inquiry is neceffary to give fatiffaction to the doubting, by differencing the teftimony of the Spirit from the delufions of Satan, and the fingle teftimony of our own fpirits; and neceffary to confirm and establish thefe that enjoy this privilege of the witnefs within them. For your trial then, I would, 1. Offer fome general marks of these that enjoy the true witnefs within them. 2. Some more particular marks of the witneffing of the Spirit, the water, and the blood. Ift, In general, I would offer you thefe marks of a person that enjoys the witness in himself, upon his believing in the Son of God.

[ocr errors]

1. This witnefs fills the foul with a high and inexpreffible admiration of the love of God, in bringing it into the number of his children: Behold! what manner of love the Father hath beflowed on us, that we fhould be called the fons of God!" 1 John iii. 1. The foul fees God's wonderful love of good-will in the contrivance of its adoption and falvation; and fees that it would have non pluft all the creatures; and fo admires that ever God fo loved the world. The man admires God's love of compaffion towards it, in the many ftrivings with it, while it was in a natural condition. He admires his love of delight which is difcovered: Othat ever he should take pleafure in fuch a worm! And fo alfo admires his infinite condefcenfion that ever he looked upon fuch an unworthy wretch. He admires and wonders at the glory and excellency of the things which he is by the witnefs affured of: does he find the cleanfing virtue of the blood of Chrift? O then, he fees an extraordinary glory and excellency in this blood and, righteousness of Chrift; he prized it before, but


« السابقةمتابعة »