Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

boly, acceptable to God. Whereunto thou hast already attained, hold fast, by reaching forth unto those things which are besos fore.; until the God of peace make... thee" perfeet in every good work, working in thee that which is well pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever! Amen.

[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

ITSELF

SPIRIT,

THE SPIRIT

BEARETH WITNESS WITH OUR 1 DI

THAT WE ARE THE- CHILDREN OF GOD. Diri syisiner 1. How many vain men, not understanding

what they 11 spake, neither whereof they affirmed, have wrested this scripture, to the great loss, if not the destruction, of their souls? How many have mistaken the voice of their own imagination, for this witness of the Spirit of God? And thence idly presumed, they were the children of God, while they were doing the works of the devil & These are truly and properly Enthusiasts; and indeed in the worst sense of the word. But with what difficulty are they convinced thercof? Especially, if they have drank deep into that spirit of error. All en. deavours to bring them to the knowledge of themselves, they will then accoụnt fighting against God. And that vehemence and impetuosity of spirit, which they call contending earnestly for the faith, sets them so far above all the usual methods of conviction, that we may well say, With men it is impossible.

2. Who can then be surprised, if many reasonable men, seeing the dreadful effects of this delusion, and

labouring

[ocr errors]

labouring to keep at the utmost distance from it, should sometimes, lean toward another extreme ?

-If they are not forward to believe any who speak of having this witness, concerning which others have so grievously erred? If they are almost ready, to set all down for enthusiasts, who use the expressions which have been so terribly abused, Yea, if they should question, whether the witness or testimony here spoken of, be the privilige of ordinary Chris tians, and not rather, one of those extraordinary gifts, which they.suppose belonged only to the apostolic age.

3. But is there any necessity laid upon us, of running either into one extreme or the other? May we not steer a middle course ? Keep a sufficient distance from that spirit of error and enthusiasm, without denying the gift of God, and giving up the great privilege of his children Surely we may. In order thereto, let us consider, in the presence and fear of God,

First, What is this witness or testimony of our spirit? What is the testisnorzy of God's Spirit? And how does he bear witness with our Spirit, that we are the children of God?

Secondly, How is this joint testimony of God's Spirit and our own; clearly and solidly distinguished, from the presumption of a natural mind; and from the delusion of the devil ? :: 1.1. Let us first consider, what is the witness or testimony of oux 7 spirit. But here I cannot bụt desire all those who are for swallowing up the testimony of the Spirit of God, in the rational testimony of our own spirit, to observe, that in this text the apostle is so far from speaking of the testimony of our own spirit only, that it may be questioned, whether he speaks of it at all? Whether he does not speak, only of the testimony of God's Spirit ?. It does not appear, but the original text may be fairly understood thus ; The apostle had just said, in the preceding verse, Ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father! and immedi. ately subjoins Αυτο το πνευμα (some copies read το αυτο πνευμα) συμμαρίωρει το σγευμαθε ημων, οτι εσμεν τεκέν Θεε. Which may be translated, The same spirit beareth witness to our spirit, that we are the children of God (the preposition duonly denoting, that he witnesses this at the same time that he enables us to cry, Abba, Father!) But I contend not ; seeing so many other texts, with the experience of all real Christians, sufficiently eyince, that there

[ocr errors]

is,

is, in every believer, both the testimony of God's Spirit, and the testimony of his own, that he is a child of God."

2. With regard to the latter, the foundation thereof is laid in those numerous texts of scripture, which describe the marks of the children of God, and that so plain, that he which runneth may read them. These are also collected together, and placed in the strongest light, by many both ancient and modern writers. If any need farther light, he may receive it by attending on the ministry of God's word; by meditating thereon-before God in secret, and by conversing with those who have the knowledge of his ways. And by the reason or understanding that God has given 'him (which religion was designed not to extinguish, but to perfect ; accordiog to that of the apostle, & Brethren, be not children in understanding; in malice (or wickedness) be ye children; but in understanding be ye men;" 1 Cor. xiv. 20.) Every man applying those scriptural marks to himself, may know, whether he is a child of God. Thus if he know, first, as many as are led by the Spirit of God, into all holy tempers and actions, they are the sons of God (for which he has the infallible assurance of holy writ ;) secondly, I am thus led by the Spirit of God: he may, easily conclude, therefore, I am a son of God.

3. Agreeable to this are all those plain declarations of St. John in his first epistle; ** Hereby we know, that we do know him, if we keep his commandments, chap. it. ver. 3. Whoso keepeth his word, in him, verily, is the love of God perfected; hereby we know, that we are in him," that we are indeed the children of God, ver. 5. “If ye know that he is righteous, ye know that every one that doth righteousness is born of him, (ver. 29.) We know, that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren, (chap it. ver. 4.) Hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him, fver. 18.) Namely, because we love one another, not in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth. Hereby know we, that wedwell in him, because he hath given uis of his (lo:ing) Spirit (chap. iv. 13. And hereby we know that he abideth in tis, by the (obedient) Spirit which he hath given us," chap. iii. 24. - 4. It is highly probable, there never were any children of God, from the beginning of the world unto this day,

who

G

who were farther advanced in the grace of God, and the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ, than the apostle John at the time when he wrote these words, and the Fathers in Christ to whom he wrote. Notwithstanding which, it is evident, both the apostle himself, and all those pillars in God's temple, were very far from despising these marks of their being the children of God: and that they applied them to their own souls, for the confirmation of their faith. Yet all this is no other than rational evidence; the , witness of our spirit, our reason or understanding. It all resolves into this; those who have these marks, they are the children of God. But we have these marks; therefore, we are children of God.

5. But how does it appear, that we have these marks? This is a question which still remains. How does it appear, that we do love God and our neighbour? And that we keep his commandments ? Observe, that the meaning of the question is, How does it appear to ourselves! (not to others.) I would ask him then that proposes this ques tion, How does it appear to you, that you are alive? And that you are now in ease and not in pain? Are you not immediately conscious of it? By the same immediate consciousness you well knew, if your soul is alive to God : if you are saved from the pain of proud wrath, and have the ease of a meek and quiet spirit. By the same means you cannot bụt perceive, if you love, rejoice, and delight in God. By the same, you must be directly assured, if you love your neighbour as yourself; if you are kindly affectioned to all mankind, and full of gentleness and long-suffering. And with regard to the outward mark of the children of God, which is (according to St. John) the keeping his commandments, you undoubtedly know in your own breast, if, by the grace of God, it belongs to you. Your conscience informs you from day to day, if you do not take the name of God within your lips, unless with seriousness and devotion, with reverence and godly fear if you remember the sabbath day to keep it holy : if you honour your father and mother: if you do to all as you , would they should do unto you : if you possess your body in sanctification and honour; and if whether you eae or drink, you are temperate therein, and do all to the glory of God.

6. Now 6. Now this is properly the testimony of our own spirit; even the testimony of our conscience, that God hath given us to be holy of heart, and holy in outward conversation. It is a consciousness of our having received, in and by the spirit of adoption, the tempers mentioned in the word of God, as belonging to his adopted children ; even, a loving heart toward God and toward all mankind, hanging with child-like confidence on God our Father, desiring nothing but him, casting all our cares upon him, and embracing every child of man, with earnest, tender affection : A consciousness that we are inwardly conformed by the Spirit of God to the image of his Son, and that we walk before him in justice, mercy, and truth; doing the things which are pleasing in his sight. - 7. But what is that testimony of God's Spirit, which is super-added to, and conjoined with this ? How does hé "bear witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God.” It is hard to find words in the language of men, to explain the deep things of God. Indeed there are none that will adequately express, what the children of God expefience. But perhaps one might say (desiring any who are taught of God, to correct, or soften, or strengthen the expression) the testimony of the Spirit, is an inward impression on the Soul, whereby the Spirit of God directly “ witnesses to my spirit that I am a child of God," that Jésus Christ hath loved me, and given himself for me ; that all my sins are blotted out, and I, even I, am reconciled to God.

8. That this testimony of the Spirit of God must needs, in the very nature of things, be antecedent to the testimony of our own spirit, may appear from this single consideration. We must be holy of heart and holy in life, before we can be conscious that we are so ; before we can have the testimony of our spirit, that we are inwardly and outwardly holy. But we must love God, before we can be holy at all; this being the root of all holiness. Now we cannot love God, till we know he loves us. “ We love him, because he first loved us.” And we cannot know his pardoning love to us, till his Spirit witnesses it to our spirit.Since therefore this testimony of his Spirit must precede the love of God and all holiness, of consequence it must precede our inward consciousness thereof, or, the testimony of our spirit concerning them.

9. Then,

« AnteriorContinuar »