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them to such as are thus humbled, and filling their hearts with joy and gladness.
When this change takes place, and we are adopted into the family of God, then the Spirit of truth graciously witnesses our adoption. He “beareth witness with our spirit that we are the children of God," and by imparting righteousness, peace, and joy, to our souls, becomes the blessed seal of the precious promises of God, and an earnest of our everlasting inheritance.
But still there are “ things that are reproved” remaining in us, which must be removed, for it is not the Lord's usual method to renew us fully “ in the spirit of our inind” immediately on our reconciliation with him, because, probably we are not then sufficiently sensible of the nature or necessity of so great a benefit, and it is not his way to impart blessings till we feel our need of them; he soon, however, by his light makes manifest the evil propensities of our nature, and points us to the most excellent manner of glorifying his holy name, by directing our hearts into his perfect love. “God is love, and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him; and herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment, because as he is so are we in this world."
St. Paul, writing to the Ephesians, says expressly, “ And you hath he quickened who were dead in trespasses and sins ;” and yet he exhorts them not only to avoid gross immoralities, but also to “ put off the old man,” the corrupt principles and deceitful desires of their hearts; and to “put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness,” that they might be filled with the Spirit.
As the Holy Spirit thus convinces us of sin, he also, when it has taken place, bears testimony to the purification of our souls. “We (says the apostle) have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God, that we may Know the things that are freely given us of God," 1 Cor. ii. 2, 10. Now, sanctification being one of these things, how
shall we know that we have received it, if the Spirit of wisdom do not reveal it to us, or, in other words, testify to the truth of what is wrought in our souls ? St. John fully confirms this, when he says, “ He that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in God, and God in him; and hereby we know that he abideth in us by the Spirit which he hath giren us.” Does not all this evidently prove how clear and express the testimony of the Spirit is to his own work in our souls ? For my part, I cannot see how such a change can take place, and such an union subsist between believers and their Living Head, without an inward testimony from above, that they and their works are pleasing and acceptable to God.
Should it be asked, Does this witness immediately follow the purification of the soul? It may be answered, Sometimes it does; but not always. Where it does not, there ought to be a continual expectation till it be received. Where it is not given, the first trial or temptation which damps their joy will probably cause them to question the reality of what is actually wrought in their hearts; and, by throwing them into a state of unbelief, and robbing them of this grace, bring on a great indifferency afterwards to this instantaneous deliverance, and incline them to inactivity in the service of God, and to heart-backsliding. It is the aim of Satan to cut off our expectation of greater attainments, and he strikes the deepest in times of discouragement.
To make this still plainer, I would speak of this witness as implying both act and habit. There are times in which the witness is so strong and clear, as to afford the fullest assurance that they are brought into this glorious liberty : and this is followed by an unusual overflowing of love, joy, and gratitude. The soul sinks into the lowest self-abasement, wonders at the wisdom and goodness of God, and longs, as it were, for a thousand hearts and tongues, that it may de vote them all to him. The feelings of the soul, at such seasons, cannot well be described. It is a rejoicing with joy
unspeakable, and full of glory;" an earnest and foretaste of heaven; a blessedness which no man knoweth, save he that receiveth it.
This is what I would call the act, or direct witness of the Spirit; the other is habitual in such as are established, and always attended with its proper fruit, although in great trials it may be so clouded for a time as not to appear, and is the same as the other continued, only in a less degree.
Believers in this state, except in particular conflicts, are obliged to look for the fruit of holiness, as much as at the witness, for their satisfaction; because, as in many other instances, what is habitual is not so striking as what is new and uncommon. Some who have doubted the truth of this, by grieving the Spirit, have felt the reality of what they once enjoyed by the loss of it. I should be sorry for any one ever to try such a painful experiment. The advice that I would give on this subject is,
Live much in the spirit of importunate prayer, and get the inner man renewed every day, through the power of God: this will bring much clearer testimonies from the Iloly Spi. rit, and much greater happiness to the mind. And never attempt to separate the witness of entire sanctification from the fruit of it; that is, we should so live, that we may always be possessed of both; for God hath joined them together, and they should not be put asunder. The more obedient we are to our present light, the clearer will be the witness; and the clearer the witness, the more we shall be encouraged to proceed in the "work of faith," the patience of hope, and the labour of love."
Above all things, those should beware of doubting who have received the blessing. If they should give way, they will be in danger of entering into temptation. On the other hand, should they be called to bear a public testimony for God, they should not be afraid or ashamed to de. clare what he has done for them, and they will ever find, that the clearer they witness for him, the clearer he will witness in them. Such an explicit confession will greatly increase their faith, prove a blessing to others, and promote the glory of our Almighty Saviour. Should they withhold their testimony, they will find it exceedingly difficult to retain the blessing, for the Lord does not intend such light to be hid under a busbel.
The effects or fruits of this salvation are by the apostle said to be love, joy, peace, long-suffering, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance; in a word, every christian grace and temper, matured and evangelically perfected after the Divine will. O blessed state! May we all abound therein, walking and living in the Spirit, that “bis will may be done by us on earth as it is in heaven.”
Such are my views of this matter. This I conceive to be the manner of the Spirit's general working on the minds of believers. Some may be led in a way different from this, for there are “diversities of operations,” yet all tends to one point-a meetness for heaven; for it is the same God that worketh all in all.
When by the grace of God, we have surrendered up ourselves to him, to do his will, and seek his glory in all things, we must not conclude that our warfare is accomplished and our victory complete; for we shall still meet with exercises for our faith and patience, be they ever so strong. We have this consolation, however, in the midst of all, that there is no necessity laid upon us to sin and fall in these conflicts; only let us keep ourselves in the love of God,” and guard against the irregularity of our own will, that is, let us take care not to be betrayed by yielding to any forbidden degree of self-pleasing, self-seeking, self-exaltation, or self-indulgence, and then who will be able to harm us, or divert us from our purpose: A few cautions may be useful.
Do not set this state of grace too high.-It is to be feared that some set it too low, and consequently discover those werknesses which are rather proofs of weak and defective faith than what this state supposes; but on the other hand, there are many who set it far too high, to the great discou. ragement of those who are desirous of being all that God requires. The apostle informs us that here “we know but in part;” and if our knowledge, as our own experience must assure us, is of a very limited nature, we must be liable, in the same proportion, to various weaknesses and mistakes; and hence, however pure our intention is, we have always need of coming to the blood of sprinkling for pardon and purity. And while we act thus our sun will not withdraw it. self; but we shall walk in the light of our God, and the blood of Jesus Christ, bis Son, shall cleanse us from all sin.
It is set too high when we are expected on entering upon it to have as much holiness as forbids any increase. We may
become holier and holier, till we are called to appear before God, or in other words, may keep increasing in con« formity to the Divine will to the end of life. Nor should those who have but newly attained look at the more established christian with any other view than to follow bis steps, that they may obtain the same grace, and like him abide faithful to the Lord in all things. Such are comparatively only in an infant state, and are to proceed in the Divine life till they attain to all the mind that was in Christ. If they do not attend to this, they may think too meanly of their blessings; and, what is worse, will be in danger of entering into severe conflicts with the powers of darkness. Let all such, therefore, be thankful for what the Lord has done, and wait at the throne of grace till they are endued with greater power from on high, and receive stronger and clear. er testimonies from the eternal Spirit of the great work he has wrought in them.
It is set too high when it is made to exclude any of the natural affections--fear, for instance. It is said indeed that “ perfect love casteth out fear; and he that feareth is not made perfect in love.” This, however, can never intend that every kind of fear should be bänished from the heart of the christian, since he is required to “stand in awe and sin not;" to be in the fear of the Lord all the day long; and to