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matter out of God's hands, and himself to “devour the adversaries."
7. Once more. The Scriptures teach, “this is the love of God," the sure mark thereof, “ that we keep his commandments," i John y. 3. And our Lord himself saith, " he that keepeth my commandments, he it is that loveth me," John xiv. 21. Love rejoices to obey; to do in every point, whatever is acceptable to the Beloved. A true lover of God hastens to do his Will on earth as it is done in heaven. But is this the character of the presumptuous pretender to the love of God: Nay, but his love gives him a liberty to disobey, to break, not keep, the commandments of God. Perhaps, when he was in fear of the wrath of God, he did labour to do his will. But now looking on himself as
not under the Law," he thinks he is no longer obliged to observe it. He is therefore less zealous of good works, less careful to abstain from evil; less watchful over his own heart; less jealous over his tongue. He is less earnest to deny himself, and to take up his cross daily. In a word, the whole form of his life is changed, since he has fancied himself to be at liberty. He is no longer « exercising bimself unto godliness ; wrestling not only with flesh and blood, but with principalities and powers, enduring hardships, agonizing to enter in at the strait gate." No; he has found an easier way to heaven; a broad, smooth, flowery path ; in wbich he can say to his soul, “Soul, take thy ease; eat, drink, and be merry.” It follows with undeniable evidence, that he has not the true testimony of his own spirit. He cannot be conscious of having those marks which he hath not; that lowliness, meekness, and obedience. Nor yet can the Spirit of the God of Truth bear witness to a lie; or testify that he is a child of God, when he is manifestly a child of the devil. - 8. Discover thyself, thou poor self-deceiver! Thou who art confident of being a child of God, thou who sayest, “I have the witness in myself," and therefore defiest all thy enemies. Thou art weighed in the balance and found wanting; even in the Balance of the Sanctuary. The Word of the Lord hath tried thy soul, and proved thee to be reprobate silver. Thou art not lowly of heart: therefore thou hast not received the Spirit of Jesus into this day. Thou art not gentle and meek; therefore thy joy is nothing worth: it is not joy in the Lord. Thou dost not keep his commandments; therefore thou lovest him not, neither art thou partaker of the Holy Ghost. It is consequently, as certain and as evident, as the Oracles of God can make it, his Spirit doth not bear witness with thy spirit, that thou art a child of God. O cry unto him that the scales may fall off thine eyes, that thou mayest know thyself as thou art known; that thou mayest receive the sentence of death in thyself, till thou hear the voice that raises the dead, saying, “ Be of good eheer: thy sins are forgiven; thy faith bath made thee whole.”
9. “But how may one who has the real witness in himself distinguish it from presumption ?" How, I pray, do you distinguish day from night? How do you distinguish light from darkness ? Or, the light of a star, or a glimmering taper, from the light of the noon-day sun? Is there not an inherent, obvious, essential difference between the one and the other? And do you not immediately and directly perceive that difference, provided your senses are rightly disposed? In like manner, there is an inherent, essential difference, between spiritual light, and spiritual darkness : and between the light wherewith the Sun of Righteousness shines upon our heart, and that glimmering light, which arises only from “ sparks of our own kindling.” And this difference also is immediately and directly perceived, if our spiritual senses are rightly disposed.
10. To require a more minute and philosophical account of the manner whereby we distinguish these, and of the Criteria, or intrinsic marks, whereby we know the voice of God, is to make a demand which can never be answered ; no, not by one who has the deepest knowledge of God. Suppose, when Paul answered before Agrippa, the wise Roman had said, “ Thou talkest of hearing the voice of the Son of God. How dost thou know, it was his voice? By
what Criteria, what intrinsic marks, dost thou know the voice of God? Explain to me, the manner of distinguishing this, from a human or angelic voice?" Can you believe, the Apostle himself would have once attempted to answer so idle a demand? And yet, doubtless, the moment he heard that voice, he knew it was the voice of God. But how he knew this, who is able to explain? Perhaps, neither man nor angel.
11. To come yet closer. Suppose God were now to speak to any soul, “ Thy 'sins are forgiven thee.” He must be willing that soul should know his voice; otherwise he would speak in vain. And he is able to effect this; for, whenever he wills, to do is present with him. And he does effect it. That soul is absolutely assured, “ This voice is the voice of God.” But yet he who hath that witness in himself, cannot explain it to one who hath it not: nor indeed is it to be expected that he should. Were there any natural medium to prove, or natural method to explain the things of God, to unexperienced men; then the natural man might discern and know the things of the Spirit of God. But this is utterly contrary to the assertion of the Apostle, that “ he cannot know them, because they are spiritually discerned ;" even by spiritual senses, which the natural man hath not.
12. “ But how shall I know that my spiritual senses are rightly disposed " This also is a question of vast importance. For, if a man mistake in this, he may run on in endless error and delusion. “And how am I assured, that this is not my case: and that I do not mistake the yoice of the Spirit?” Even by the testimony of your own spirit;" by “the answer of a good conscience toward God.” By the fruits which he hath wrought in your spirit, you shall know the “ testimony of the Spirit of God.”. Hereby you shall know, that you are in no delusion, that you have not deceived your own soul. The immediate fruits of the Spirit, ruling in the heart, are “ love, joy, peace; bowels of mercies, humbleness of mind, meekness, gentleness, long-suffering." And the outward fruits are, The doing good to all men; the doing no evil to any; and the walking in the VOL. VII.
light; a zealous, uniform obedience to all the commandments of God.
13. By the same fruits shall you distinguish this voice of God, from any delusion of the devil. That proud spirit can'not humble thee before God. He neither can nor would soften thy heart, and melt it first into earnest mourning after God, and then into filial love. It is not the adversary of God and man, that enables thee to love thy neighbour; or to put on meekness, gentleness, patience, temperance, and the whole armour of God. He is not divided against himself, or a destroyer of sin, his own work. No; it is none but the Son of God who cometh “ to destroy the works of the devil.” As surely therefore as holiness is of God, and as sin is the work of the devil, so surely the witness thou hast in thyself is not of Satan, but of God.
14. Well then mayest thou say, “ Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift! Thanks be unto God, who giveth me to know in whom I have believed: who hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into my heart, crying, Abba, Father,' and even now bearing witness with my spirit, that I am a child of God!” And see, that not only thy lips, but thy life shew forth his praise. He hath marked thee for his own; glorify him then in thy body and thy spirit which are his. Beloved, if thou hast this hope in thyself, purify thyself as he is pure. While thou beholdest what manner of love the Father hath given thee, that thou shouldst be called a child of God; cleanse thyself “ from all filthiness of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God:” and let all thy thoughts, words, and works be a spiritual sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God through Christ Jesus !.
THE WITNESS OF THE SPIRIT.
ROMANS viii. 16.
“ The Spirit itself beareth witness with our Spirit, that we
are the Children of God.”
1. NONE who believe the Scriptures to be the Word of God, can doubt the importance of such a truth as this : a truth revealed therein, not-once only, not obscurely, not incidentally, but frequently, and that in express terms; but solemnly and of set purpose, as denoting one of the peculiar privileges of the children of God.
2. And it is the more necessary to explain and defend this truth, because there is a danger on the right hand and on the left. If we deny it, there is a danger lest our religion degenerate into mere formality: lest, “ having a form of godliness,” we neglect, if not “ deny the power of it.” If we allow it, but do not understand what we allow, we are liable to run into all the wildness of enthusiasm. It is therefore needful, in the highest degree, to guard those who fear God from both these dangers, by a scriptural and rational illustration and confirmation of this momentous truth.
3. It may seem, something of this kind is the more needful, because so little has been written on the subject with any clearness : unless some discourses on the wrong side of the question, which explain it quite away. And it cannot be