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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 cheer, thy sios are forgiven ; thy faith hath made thee whole.”
g." But how may one, who has the real witnesss 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 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 sbines 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 inarmer of distinguishing this, from a human or angelie 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 bow he knew this, who is able to explain? Perhaps neither inan 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 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 ny 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 voice 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 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 cannot 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 meeknesss, 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 mayst thou say, Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift! Thanks be unto God, who giveth me to know in whom I have believed; whơ bath sent forth the Spirit of his Søn, 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 bim 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 wbat manner of love the Father bath given thee, that thou shouldst be called a child of God : cleanse thyself from all filthiness of flesh and spirit, perfe&ting bolinesss 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 SPIRIT ITSELF BEARETH WITNESS WITH OUR
SPIRIT, THAT WE ARE THE CHILDREN OF GOD,
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 chil. dren 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 wrote 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 doubted, but these were occasioned, at least in great measure, by the crude, una scriptural, irrational explication of others, who knew not what they spake, nor whereof they affirined,
4. It more nearly concerns the Methodists, so called, clearly to understand, explain, and defend this doctrine, No. III. R
because it is one grand part of the testimony, which God has given them to bear to all mankind, It is by his peculiar blessing upon them in searching the scriptures, confirmed by the experience of his children, that this great evangelical truth has been recovered, which had been for many years well night lost and forgiåtten.
II. 1. But what is the witness of the Spirit? The original word Mastupia, may be rendered 'either (as it is in several places) the witness, or less anbiguously the testimony, or the record: so it is rendered in our' translation, i John v. 11. This is the record (the testimony, the sum of what
that God hath given unto us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. The testimony now under consideration is given by the Spirit of God, to and with our spirit. He is the person testifying. What he testifies to us is, that we are the children of God? The immediate result of this testimony is, the fruit of the Spirit ; namely, love, joy, peace ;" long-suffering, genblemoss, goodness. And without these, the testimony itself cannot continue. For it is inevitably destroyed, not only by the commission of any odtward sin; or the omission of known duty, but by giving way to any inward sin : in a word, by whatever grieves the Holy Spirit of God.
2. I observed, many years ago, !!. 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 Spirit of God works in his Children. But perhaps one might say (desiring
any who are taught of God, to correct, soften, or strengthen the expression) By the testimony of the Spirit, I mean an inward impression of the soul, whereby the Spirit of God immediately and directly witnesses to my spirit, that I am a child of God, that Jesus Christ bath loved ıne, and given himself for me. That all my sins are blotted out, and I, even I, am reconciled to God.?'
3. After twenty years further consideration, I see no cause to retract any part of this. Neither do I conceive how any of these expressions may be altered, so as to make them more intelligible. I can only add, that if any of the children of God will point out any other ex