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nefs, baseness, emptinefs, and total unworthiness of men; yea, of the best and holiest of men, Ifa. vi. 5.
Sign 2. The teachings of God are deeply affecting, and imprsefive teachings; they fully reach the heart of man, Hof. ii. "I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and fpeak comfortably unto her :" or, as it is in the Hebrew, I will speak to her heart. When God fheweth unto man the evil of fin, he fo convinceth the foul, that no creature-comforts have any pleasure, or fweetnefs in them; and when he sheweth unto man his righteousness, pardon, and peace in Chrift, he fo comforteth, and refrefheth the heart, that no outward afflictions have any weight, or bitternefs in them: one drop of confolation from heaven, fweetens a fea of trouble upon earth, Pfal. xciv. 19. "In the multitude of my thoughts within me, "thy comforts delight my foul."
Sign 3. The teachings of God are fanctifying and renewing teachings; they reform and change the heart, Eph. iv. 21, 22, 23. "If fo be that you have heard him, and been taught by
him, as the truth is in Jefus; that ye put off concerning "the former converfation the old man, which is corrupt, ac"cording to the deceitful lufts; and be renewed in the fpirit "of your mind," &c. See here what holiness, and purity is the effect of divine teaching! Holiness, both external and internal, negative and pofitive: holiness of every kind follows the Father's teachings all the difcoveries God makes to us of himself in Chrift have an affimilating quality, and change the foul into their own likeness, 2 Cor. iii. 18.
Sign 4. All God's teachings are practical, producing obedience. Idle notions and ufelefs fpeculations are not learned from God. As God's creating words, fo his teaching words are with effect: as when he faid, "Let there be light, and there was light;" fo when he faith to the foul, Be comforted, be humbled; it is effectually comforted, Ifa lxvi. 13. it is humbled, Job xl. 4, 5. As God hath in nature made no creature in vain, so he speaks no word in vain: every thing which men hear, or learn from the Father, is for ufe, practice, and benefit to the foul.
Sign 5. All the teachings of God are agreeable with the written word: The Spirit of God, and the word of God do never jar, John xiv. 26. "He fhall take of mine, and fhew it unto you." When God fpeaketh unto the heart of man, whether in a way of conviction, confolation, or inftruction in duty, he always either maketh ufe of the exprefs words of fcripture, or speaks to the heart in language every way confentaneous and agreeable to fcripture: So that the written word becomes the standard to
SERM. XXIII weigh, and try all divine teachings, Ifa. viii. 20. "To the law, "and to the teftimony: If they fpeak not according to this "word, it is because there is no light (or morning) in them." Whatever is difagreeing, or jarring with the fcripture, must not pafs for an inspiration of God, but a deluding sophism, and infinuation of Satan.
Sign 6. The teachings of God are very fatisfying teachings to the foul of man: The understanding faculty, like a dial, is enlightened with the beams of divine truth fhining upon it: this, no man's teachings can do: Men can only teach objectively, by propounding truth to the understanding; but they cannot enlighten the faculty itself, as God doth, 1 John v. 20. He giveth man understanding, as well as inftructions, to be understood; he opens the eyes of the understanding, as well as propoundeth the object, Eph. i. 18. And thus we may difcern and distinguilh the teachings of God, from all other teachings.
3. Ufe of exhortation.
The last use I fhall make of this point, fhall be a word of exhortation, both to them that never were yet effectually taught of God, and to them also that have heard his voice, and are come to Christ.
First, To thofe that never yet heard the voice of God speaking to their hearts; and truly this is the general cafe of most men and women, in the profeffing world: They have heard the found of the gofpel, but it hath been a confused, empty, and ineffectual found in their ears: we have heard the voice of man, but have never yet heard the voice of God. The gifts and abilities of preachers have, in a notional and mere human way, improved their understandings, and fometimes flightly touched their affections: All this is but the effect of man upon man. O that you would look for fomething which is beyond all this: fa-tisfy not yourfelves with what is merely natural, and human in ordinances; come to the word with higher ends and more fpiritual defigns, than to get fome notions of truth which you had not before, or to judge the gifts and abilities of the speaker: If God fpeak not to your hearts, all the ordinances in the world can do you no good, 1 Cor. iii. 7. Oremember what a folemn and awful thing it is to come to thofe ordinances, and attend upon that ministration, in and by which the eternal decrees of heaven are to be executed upon your fouls, which must be to you the "favour of life unto life, or of death unto death:" Wrestle with God, by prayer, for a bleffing upon the ordinances. Say,
Lord, fpeak thyfelf to my heart, let me hear thy voice, and "feel thy power in this prayer, or in this fermon : Others have
"heard thy voice, cause me to hear it: It had been much better for me if I had never heard the voice of preachers, except "I hear thy voice in them."
Secondly, Let all thofe that have heard the voice of God, and are come to Chrift in the virtue of his teachings, admire the wonderful condefcenfion of God to them. O that God should fpeak to thy foul, and be filent to others! There be many thoufands living at this day under ordinances, to whom the Lord hath not given an ear to hear, or an heart to obey, Deut. xxix. 4. "To you it is given to know the myfteries of the kingdom "of heaven, but to them it is not given," Mat. xiii. 11. And I beseech you walk as men and women that have been taught of God. When Satan and your corruptions tempt you to fin, and to walk in the ways of the carnal, and careless world; remember then that scripture, Eph. iv. 20, 21. "But ye have not fo "learned Chrift, if so be that you have heard him, and have "been taught by him, as the truth is in Jefus." To con clude, see that you be exceeding humble, and lowly in fpirit Humility qualifies you for divine teachings, Pfal. xxv. 9." The "meek he will teach;" and the more ye are taught of God, the more humble you will ftill be.
And thus you fee, that no man can come to Christ without the application of the law, and the teachings of the Father which being confidered, may be very ufeful to convince us, (which indeed is the defign of it) that among the multitudes of men and women, living under the ordinances of God, and the general profeffion of religion, there are but few, very few to be found, who have effectually received the Lord Jefus Chrift by faving faith.
And now, reader, I fuppofe by this time thou art defirous to know by what figns and evidences thy union with Chrift by faith may be cleared up, and made evident to thee; and how that great question, whether thou haft yet effectually applied Chrift to thy foul, or no, may be clearly decided; which brings me to the third general use of the whole, viz.
The examination of our intereft in Chrift, by 1. The donation of the Spirit, from 1 John iii. 24. 2. The new creation, from 2 Cor. v. '17.
3. The mortification of fin, from Gal. v. 24.
4. The imitation of Chrift, from 1 John ii. 6.
Of each of these trials of our intereft in Chrift I fhall speak in their order: And, first, of the donation of the Spirit.
Of the Manner, and Importance of the SPIRIT'S Indwelling.
1 JOHN iii. 24.
And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us.
HE apoftle in this chapter is engaged in a very trying dif courfe; his fcope is to difcriminate the fpirits, and states of fincere believers, from merely nominal, and pretended Chriftians; which he attempts not to do by any thing that is exter nal, but by the internal effects and operations of the Spirit of God upon their hearts. His enquiry is not into thofe things which men profefs, or about the duties which they perform, but about the frames, and tempers of their hearts, and the principles by which they are acted in religion. According to this teft, he puts believers upon the fearch and study of their own hearts; calls them to reflect upon the effects and operations of the Spirit of God, wrought within their own fouls, affuring them, that these gracious effects, and fruits of the Spirit in their hearts, will be a folid evidence unto them of their union with Jefus Chrift, amounting to much more than a general, conjectural ground of hope, under which it is poffible there may fu beffe falfum, lurk a dangerous and fatal mistake: But the graci ous effects of the Spirit of God within them, are a foundation upon which they may build the certainty, and affurance of their union with Chrift: Hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us. In which words we have three things to confider, viz.
1. The thing to be tried, our union with Chrift.
3. The certainty of the trial this way: Hereby we know. Firft, The thing to be tried; which is indeed the greateft and weightiest matter that can be brought to trial in this world, or in that to come, namely our union with Chrift, expreffed here by his abiding in us; a phrafe clearly expreffing the difference betwixt thole that, by profeffion and common eftimation, pafs for Christians among men, tho' they have no other union with Chrift, but by an external adhefion to him in the external duties of religion, and thofe whofe union with Chrift is real, vital and permanent, by the indwelling of the Spirit of Chrift in their
fouls John xv. 5, 6. opens the force, and importance of this phrafe, "I am the vine, ye are the branches; he that abideth in me, and I in him, the fame bringeth forth much-fruit: If. -66 a man abide not in me, he is caft forth as a branch, and is “withered.” The thing then to be tried, is, whether we ftand in Chrift as dead branches in a living ftock, which are only bound to it by external ligatures, or bonds, that hold them for a while together; or whether our fouls have a vital union, and coalition with Chrift, by the participation of the living fap of that bleffed Root.
Secondly, The trial of this union, which is by the giving of the Spirit to us: The Spirit of Chrift is the very bond of union betwixt him and our fouls. I mean not that the very person of the Spirit dwelleth in us, imparting his effential properties to us; it were a rude blafphemy so to speak; but his faving influences are communicated to us in the way of fanctifying operati ons; as the fun is faid to come into the house, when his beams and comforting influence come there. Nor yet must we think that the graces, or influences of the Spirit abide in us in the felf-fame meafure, and manner as they do in Christ; " for God
giveth not the Spirit to him by measure;" in him all fulness dwells. He is anointed with the Spirit above his fellows; but there are measures and proportions of grace differently commu nicated to believers by the fame Spirit; and these communicated graces, and real operations of the Spirit of grace in our hearts, do undoubtedly prove the reality of our union with Chrift; as the communication of the felf-fame vital juice, or fap of the ftock, to the branch whereby it lives, and brings forth fruit of the fame kind, certainly proves it to be a real part, or a member of the fame tree.
Thirdly, Which brings us to the third thing; namely, the certainty of the trial this way, rura veronoμev, in this, or by this we know: We fo know, that we cannot be deceived. To clear this, let us confider two things in grace, viz,
1. Somewhat conftitutive, } of its being.
2. Somewhat manifeftative,
There is fomething in grace which is effential, and conftitutive of its being; and fomewhat that flows from grace, and is manifeftative of fuch a being: We cannot immediately, and intuitively difcern the effence of grace, as it is in its fimple nature. So God only difcerns it, who is the author of it; but we may difcern it mediately and fecondarily, by the effects and operations of it, Could we fee the fimple effence of grace, or intuiVOL. II. L11