Imatges de pÓgina
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that by the faith to which he attributes justification, he means not an idle faith, but a working faith, attended with works of love both toward God and our neighbour; and consequently, that the works he excludes from justification are not evangelical works, or such as are done in and proceed from faith in Christ; but only, first, works of perfect obedience, or sinless works, there being none such to be found among the sons of fallen man: or, secondly, works done in the strength of the Mosaic law, without the grace of the Gospel: or, thirdly, the works of the ceremonial law, such as circumcision, sacrifice, and the like: or, fourthly and lastly, all manner of works whatsoever, as far as they are relied on as meritorious causes of our justification or salvation: there being but one only cause of that kind, viz., the meritorious obedience and sufferings of our dear Redeemer and Saviour Jesus Christ.

Of this sort also are the discourses of St. Paul concerning the conflict between the law of the mind, and the law of sin in the members, in the same men, chap. vii. and concerning the irrespective love and hatred of Jacob and Esau, and of the obduration or hardening of Pharaoh, chap. ix. and of the bondage and redemption of the whole creation, chap. viii. 19 -22. And such also is that passage, upon which I shall found my present discourse concerning the witness of the Spirit in the faithful, chap. viii. 16. The Spirit beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God. A passage almost in every man's mouth, but rightly understood by very few, yea by too many dangerously mistaken and abused.

In handling whereof I shall endeavour, with all the plainness and clearness I can, to pursue and resolve these two inquiries :

First, How and in what manner the Spirit of God in the faithful doth bear witness with their spirits, that they are the children of God.

Secondly, What degree of hope or persuasion concerning their adoption this witness of the Spirit doth ordinarily produce in the faithful.

I. First then I am to inquire, How and in what manner the Spirit of God in the faithful doth bear witness with their spirits, that they are the children of God.

I answer, first, negatively; not by an immediate oracle, voice, or whisper within them, in express words pronouncing their pardon and acceptation with God, or saying that they are the sons of God, after the manner our Saviour told the man sick of the palsy, Son, be of good cheer ; thy sins be forgiven thee, Matt. ix. 2, or as Nathan the prophet said to David, The Lord hath put away thy sin, 2 Sam. xii. 13. This is a vain imagination, and as dangerous as it is vain, it being apt to lead some good men into despair, as not finding any such whisper within them 1; and to expose others to presumption and the delusion of the evil spirit. Such a vocal testimony of the Spirit is nowhere promised in Scripture, and therefore not to be expected by us; though it is possible God may to some persons, and in some extraordinary cases, give it. But that St. Paul means not any such vocal testimony of the Spirit is evident from hence, that this vocal testimony would be the immediate testimony of the Spirit alone, whereas the apostle speaks of a testimony of the Spirit concurring and adjoining with the testimony of our spirits, i. e. our minds or

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consciences; ovunaptupci our minds and consciences therefore have a part and share in giving this testimony; i. e. our consciences give this testimony by and with the Spirit within us. In what manner, I am to shew in the affirmative, to which I proceed.

2. Therefore affirmatively, the Spirit witnesseth that we are the sons of God. (1.) By those gracious fruits and effects which it hath wrought in us, which when we discern and perceive, we do or may from thence conclude that we are the sons of God, those fruits and effects being the sure badge and livery of his children. (2.) By enlightening our understandings, and assisting the faculties of our souls, as need requires, to discern those gracious fruits and effects which he hath wrought in us.

(1.) The first way whereby the Spirit of God witnesseth that we are the sons of God, is by the gracious fruits and effects which the Spirit hath wrought in us. The Spirit of God in person is not the immediate suggester of this conclusion, that we are the sons of God; but the Spirit in the fruits and effects of it is the medium or argument from whence we ourselves draw it. St. Paul tells us in the very same chapter, Rom. viii. 9, If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. Now how shall we know that we have the Spirit, but by the fruits of it in ourselves? And what are the fruits of the Spirit ? St. Paul describes them, Gal. v. 22, 23, The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance ; against such there is no law. Where, when among the fruits of the Spirit the apostle reckons xapà, joy, the best interpreters understand him to mean, not that joy or peace of conscience, which is the result and reward

of duty, but a joy which is itself a duty, and a duty respecting our neighbour; for of that nature are all the rest of the graces there mentioned by St. Paul. For it is immediately subjoined to love, and after it are added several other virtues, which all have reference to our neighbour; and therefore it is altogether improbable that this joy, being placed in the midst of those virtues, should respect any other than our neighbour. And then by joy, we must understand either that joy which a man takes in the good things of his neighbour, or that virtue whereby a man studies to create and cause joy to his neighbour, or to gratify and please him in all his actions, for his good and edification. But this by the way. When therefore I find these fruits of the Spirit within me, love, joy, peace, &c., I may conclude, that I am the son of God, and accepted by him; and this comfortable conclusion, though it be made by myself, yet is due to the Spirit of God, from whom all those gracious arguments of my comfort proceed; and therefore it may well be said to be attested or witnessed by the Spirit of God, in concurrence with my spirit, mind, or conscience.

Thus St. John most plainly expounds St. Paul, 1 John iv. 13, Hereby we know that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit. So that the Spirit doth not immediately tell us this, but we come to understand it by perceiving that we have the Spirit, i. e. the fruits of the Spirit in us.

Hence the Spirit of God-in Scripture is called appaßwv, God's earnest, 2 Cor. i. 22, who (that is, God) hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts. Now an earnest is pars pretii pro toto spondens, “part of a sum, given in "assurance of receiving the whole afterwards.” So the Spirit of God within us is given us by way of earnest, to assure us that in due time we shall receive from God all those other good things, and that full glory and bliss, which he hath promised us; always provided we keep our earnest, and do not throw it back to the giver, or by resisting the motions of the Spirit, provoke him to take it again from us. The fruits of the Spirit are also called oppayis, God's seal, in the same place, and likewise Ephesians i. 13, where the Ephesians are said to be sealed with that holy Spirit of promise. In which words St. Paul alludes to the custom of men, who use to set their seals upon those things which they would mark for their own. And thus the fruits of the Spirit are said to be God's seal, because by them we know ourselves to belong to God, and to be in his favour. When therefore we find that we love God above all things, and value his favour more than all the world, and that our greatest care is how we may glorify God and serve him in this life; that we love our neighbour sincerely, and are ready to do him all the good that lies in our power; that we bear no malice to any man, yea and can forgive our very enemies; that we are strictly just in all our dealings, and are ready to relieve the distressed according to our abilities; that we study mortification, and to deny our fleshly lusts, and make conscience of every thing we know to be sin; that we delight in religious exercises, especially in prayer; that we have something within us continually crying Abba, Father, and inclining us in all our wants, necessities, and distresses, to have recourse to our God by humble supplication, and to depend and trust on him for help and relief; and finally, that

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