« السابقةمتابعة »
ticularly to discover the grace of God to them, and in them, I Cor. ii. 12. to witnefs with their spirits to their adoption, Rom. viii. 16. to be a feal, which is properly to enfure an evidence, Eph. iv. 30. and an earneft, a part of the price and pledge of the whole, 2 Cor. v. 5.
Lastly, Many of the faints have attained it; as Job, chap. xix. 25. For I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth. Pfal, xxiii. ult. Surely goodness and mercy fall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever. 2 Tim, iv. 8. Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord the righ. teous judge hall give me at that day and not to me only, but unto all them alfo that love his appearing. And others too Leides fcriptúre-faints.
III. I fhall fhew the nature of this affurance, and how a faint comes to be affured. By what is faid ye may perceive that this is a work of the Spirit, in the hearts of the faints, without whofe efficacy no man can attain it. We We may take it up in thefe three things.
1. The Spirit fhining on his own word, particularly the promises, in the Bible, the child of God firmly believes them, Heb. vi. 11. 12. The Lord has teftified in his word, that fuch and such persons, for inftance, that love him, Prov. viii. 17. are univerfal in obedience, are poor in fpirit, Matth. v. 3. are beloved of him, and fhall certainly be faved. The Spirit fays in effect, by the light he gives the believer into the divine authority of that word, This is my word, And as fuch the child of God is firmly perfuaded of the certainty of it, as if a voice from the throne of God would make thefe promifes and declarations. This is the ground-work of affurance.
2. The Spirit fhining on his own work of grace in the believer's heart, the believer difcerns it, 1 Cor. ii, 12. The Spirit of God clears up to the man the truth
of grace in him; lets him fee that he, for instance, loves God, &c. and fo fays in effect, This is my work, Hence he is enabled to conclude affuredly, that the Lord loves him, he fhall not be ashamed, and that the kingdom of God is his. This affurance is ftronger or weaker according to the degree of light that thines upon the work of grace in the heart to difcover it.
3. Laftly, The Spirit of the Lord fometimes gives à joint teftimony with the fpirits of the faints, to the truth of that conclufion, Rom. viii. 16. that they are the children of God. The teftimony of the believer's own fpirit is weak in itself, and Satan can find many ways to invalidate it; therefore the Spirit witneffes to them the truth of the conclufion, whereby they are raised to a full persuasion of it.
IV. I fhall fhew the fruit of this affurance, where. by it may be difcerned from prefumption.
1. It inflames the foul with love to the Lord. As one flame begets another, fo the affurance of God's love to us will add new vigour to our love to the Lord, John iv. 19. Luke vii. 47. He fits in the warm funfhine, that cannot fail to melt the heart, who fits under evidence of the Lord's love.
2. It is humbling, Gal. ii. 20. None fo vile in their own eyes as thofe who are lifted up in the manifeftations of the Lord's love to them, Gen. xviii. 27. 2 Sam. vii. 18. 2 Cor. xii. 4. & 11. compared. Delufion puffs up, but true affurance humbles.
3. It makes one tender in heart and life, and is a moft powerful motive to fanctification, 2 Cor. vii. 1. It is followed with great care to please God in all things, and watchfulness against every fin. While the empty traveller walks at random, fearing nothing becaufe he has nothing to lofe; he that has precious things about him, looks well to himfelf, Cant. iii. 5. One may be perfuaded, that the confidence which makes not one tender in his duty to God and man, prefumption.
4. Eftablishment in the good ways of the Lord, 2 Pet. i. 10. Faith is the provifor of all other graces, it brings in oil into the lamp; and the more evidence it has, it can do its office the better A doubting Chriftian will be a ftaggering and weak Chriftian; as the foldier who has little hopes of the victory will readily be faint-hearted, while he that is affured is ftrengthened and established.
5. Lastly, It fills a man with contempt of the world, Gal. vi. 14. If ye gaze on the fhining fun, for a while after ye will fcarcely difcern the beauty of the earth. And one's folacing himfelt in contemplation of heaven as his, will fink the value of the world with him.
V. I fhall fhew the neceffity of afsurance.
1. It is not neceffary to the being of a Chriftian. One may have true faith, and yet want full affurance, 1.1. 10. One may go to heaven in a mift, not knowIf. l. ing whither he is going. We read of fome, Heb. ii. 15. who through fear of death are all their life-time fubject to bondage. Our falvation depends on our state, not our knowledge of it.
2. It is neceffary to the well-being of a Chriftian, and therefore we are commanded to seek it, 2 Pet i. Give diligence to make your calling and election fure, There are none who can live fo comfortably for themfelves, as the affured Christian, and none are so useful for God as they. It fits a man either to live or die; while others are unfit to live, because of the weakness of grace in a throng of trials and temptations, and unfit to die for want of evidence of grace.
Hence it follows, that affurance may be loft; and they that fometimes have this light, may fall into darkness. And it is careless walking that puts it out, efpecially finning over the belly of light, whereby the Spirit is grieved, and withdraws his light, Eph. iv. 29. 3. But if it be loft that way, and darkne's come on, it will readily be dreadful darkness; the higher
they have been lifted up, the lower readily they are laid, Pfal. li. 8.
Inf. 1. Unjuftified and unfanctified perfons can have no true affurance of the Lord's love to them. They may have a falfe confidence, a delufive hope of heayen; but no affurance, for that is peculiar to the juftified.
2. Doubts and fears are no friends to holiness of heart and life. It is little faith that breeds them in the hearts of the people of God, Matth. xiv. 31. And little faith will always make little holiness.
3. Lastly, Chriftians may thank themfelves for the uncomfortable lives they lead. What fovereignty may do, we know not: but furely it is floth and unbelief that the want of affurance is ordinarily owing to. Stir up yourselves then to feek it. Be frequent in felf-examination, cry to the Lord for the witnefs of his Spirit. Believe the word, and be habitually tender in your walk, if ever ye would have affurance, Pfal. v. ult.
II. Of Peace of Confcience.
PEACE of Confcience is a benefit flowing from juflification.
Here I fhall fhew,
I. What peace of confcience is.
II. The excellency of it.
III. How it is obtained.
IV. How it is maintained.
V. How it is diftinguished from false peace.
I. I am to fhew what peace of confcience is. It is a bleffed inward calmnefs and confolation arifing from the purging of the confcience from guilt before the Lord. In which defcription obferve thefe two things.
1. The fubject of this peace. It is a purged conicience, Heb. ix. 14. Peace and purity go together, and make a good confcience, 1 Tim. i. 5.
which is joined with impurity, in an unpurged confcience, is but carnal fecurity, peace in a dream, which will end in a fearful furprise. Now there are two things neceffary to the purging of confcience.
(1.) Removal of guilt, in pardon thereof, which brings the finner into a state of peace with God, Pfal. xxxii. 1. Guilt felt or unfelt, is a band on the foul binding it over to God's wrath; it is a difease in the confcience, which will make it a fick conscience at length. But a pardon takes away guilt, looses the band, removes the deadly force of the difeafe, and lays a foundation for carrying off the fickness, If. xxxiii. ult.
(2.) Removal of the confcience of guilt, in the fenfe of pardon, Heb. x. 2. Though a malefactor's pardon be paffed the feals, and he is fecured from death, yet till he know it, he cannot have peace. So the pardoned finner, who knows not his mercy, though he has peace with God, yet wants peace of confcience, Pfal. li. 8. So the confcience is purged, when the fting of felt guilt is drawn out of it.
2. The parts of this peace. These are two.
(1.) An inward calm of the foul, and quietness of the mind, wherein it is not difturbed with the fears of God's wrath, nor frighted with the judgements which its fins do in themielves deferve, Prov. i. 33. A troubled confcience is full of fears, of terrible fore-· bodings, and fo torments, 1 John iv. 18. When peace enters the confcience, the mift clears up, the fears are fcattered, and the confcience has a ferenity and quiet within itself.
(2.) Confolation and comfort of heart, 2 Cor. i. 12. If. lvii. 19. Peace of confcience is not a mere negative, or indisturbance, which floth and negligence of foulmatters may procure to the unpardoned: but it is an active chearfulness of fpirit, in the foul's looking up towards God, and reflecting how matters ftand be tixt heaven and it, Col. iii. 15.
Conceive the whole thus. Sin entering into the