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Will you be married to me? if we refuse, the Son takes it wonderfully ill. Therefore he says; "Kiss" the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish in the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little; blessed are all those that put their trust in him." So in the Hebrews, God swore, that because of infidelity, those unbelieving Jews should never enter into his rest. All the rest of the threatenings of the law were not backed with an oath, there was some secret reservation of mercy unto them upon the satisfaction of divine justice; but here there is no reservation, God hath sworn such shall never come into heaven. Look not for a third thing in God, now as a mitigation of his oath, it cannot be, he hath sworn that an unbeliever shall never enter into his rest.
These five things are the grounds of faith, even unto the worst and unworthiest persons that may be, and by all or some of them he creates faith in us, which once wrought in the heart by the spirit of God secretly, and we discerning the same, this is the witness of our spirit.
Now our spirit having viewed all these things, and the promises upon which they are grounded: thus it witnesseth, as if one should demand of a man, Are these things presented to thy view, true? Yes, will he say, true as the Gospel: then the next thing is, is all good and profitable? O yes, says he, all is very good and desirable; then the upshot is, But is this good for thee? If your soul answer now, Yes, very good to me; if then thou accept of this, and wrap and fold thyself in the promises, thou canst not wind thyself out of comfort and assurance to be in Christ Jesus; for pray, what makes up a match but the consent of two agreeing? so the consent of two parties agreeing, upon this message, makes up the match betwixt us and Christ, uniting and knitting us unto him. There are also, being now incorporated, other means to make us grow up in him, by which time discovers what manner of ingrafting we have had in him for we see four or five scions are ingrafted
Psalm 2. ver. 12.
into a stock, yet some of them may not be incorporated with the stock, but wither. So many are by the word and sacraments admitted as retainers and believers of the promises, who shrink and hold not out, because they never were throughly incorporated into Christ, but imperfectly joined unto him. But howsoever all that come to life must pass this way, if they look for sound comfort. And thus much shall suffice for the witness of our spirit in justification.
But the testimony of our spirit goes further, wherein I might show how in sanctification our spirit saith, Lord, prove me, if there be any evil in me, and lead me in the way everlasting: he loves the brethren, and desires to fearGod, as Nehemiah pleads: "Beh attentive to the prayer of thy servant, and of thy servants, who desire to fear thy name." This is the warrant that I am partaker of that inward true washing, and not of that outward only of the hog, which being kept clean and in good company will be clean, till there be an occasion offered of wallowing in the mire again. But when I find that though there were neither heaven to reward me, nor hell to punish me, if opportunity were offered, yet my heart riseth against sin, because of him who hath forbidden it; this is a sure evidence, and testifies that I am a child of God. This is for the first thing in bringing of a man in, to survey the promises belonging to justification and sanctification, wherein our spirit seeing itself to have interest, doth truly and on sound judgment witness the assurance of our salvation. Secondly, when I find Christ drawing me and changing my nature, that upon the former reasonings, view, and laying hold of Christ, making me now have supernatural thoughts and delights, (for this a man may have,) then certainly my spirit may conclude that I am blessed: for, saith the Scripture, "Blessed is the man whom thou choosest, and causest to approach unto thee." But some like dreamers do dream of this only, I know not on what grounds, but do I this waking with my whole soul? doth my spirit testify it
Nehem. chap. 1. ver. 11.
upon good grounds, why then I may rest upon it, it is as sure as may be. Thus much is the testimony of our spirit. Now it is clear how faith is wrought, briefly two ways, which the Lord useth to bring a man to the survey of those grounds upon which our spirit doth witness.
First, he works upon the understanding.
It is a strange thing to consider how this work is begun and finished? so that we may say hereof, as the Lord poseth Job, "Who hath put wisdom in the inward parts? Or who hath given understanding to the heart?" And in another place, "Where is the way where light dwelleth, and as for darkness where is the place thereof.
First, God enlightens the understanding with the thunderings of the law, when he shews a man such a sight as he could not have believed, and convinceth them in general, that his estate is not good, that without mercy hell attends him; this is a flash of lightning from Mount Sinai. Secondly, comes a thunder clap, laying all down, laying flat the will and affections, dejecting a man; so that this first secret work of faith is a captivating of the understanding, will and affections. Now the act both of the understanding and the will is set forth in this case: "These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, were persuaded of them, and embraced them." In this Scripture is set down the two hands and arms of faith. First, believing Christ out of sight. Secondly, laying hold and embracing the promises. They in the old Testament did not receive Christ in the flesh, and so are said to look afar off: as the apostle speaks: "Whom having not seen ye love, in whom though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice." But the apostle adds they were persuaded of the promises, and embraced them. This is the work of the Spirit upon the understanding, convincing the soul of sin, shewing there is a remedy, telling the soul all is marvellous true that God
i Job, chap. 38. ver. 37.
1 Pet. chap. 1. ver. 8.
Hebr. chap. 11. ver. 13.
hath revealed in his word; and then drawing to this conclusion, Christ came to save sinners, whereof I am chief; therefore he came to save me.
Yet all this while the will may be stubborn and rebellious, and the affections disordered; therefore here comes in the second arm of faith, not only being persuaded of the word as a word of truth, but as a good promise of good things to me: so that here is another degree of the working of the Spirit to compel the will and affections, so sweetly grace having removed that perverseness and disorder which governed them before. Now this gentle enforcing and often beating upon the will again and again what the understanding hath rightly conceived, this at last works upon the will, and moves it; for we see the wickedest man in the world lays hold on the worst things as good and profitable unto him: so when the best thing is presented to the will as the best thing, and the necessity thereof urged by dangers ensuing inevitably if I will not, then it apprehends that, and says of it, as Peter at the transfiguration; "It is good for us to be here, and let us build tabernacles." Hence you see what faith is in this working, an act of the understanding forcing in that way of conviction which we mentioned, the will and affections. And thus when the understanding is captivated, and the will brought to be willing, then the first act of faith is past. From whence we proceed to the second, which is the running to the city of refuge, the application and believing of the promises, and so to the apprehending of Christ, surveying of the promises belonging to justification and sanctification, and bringing them home to the soul, from whence comes the witness of our spirit.
Before we come yet to speak of God's Spirit witnessing with our spirit, because betwixt this work there may be many times, and is, an interposing trial, ere the Spirit of God witness with our spirit, we will first touch that. When our spirit hath thus witnessed in justification and sanctification, God may now write bitter things against me, seem to cast me off, and wound me with the wounds of an enemy, remove the sense of the light of his countenance
from me; what then is to be done? why, yet I will trust in him though he kill me, sure I am: "I have loved and esteemed the words of his mouth more than mine appointed food," as Job speaks; I have laid hold of Christ Jesus by the promises, and believe them: I have desired, and do desire to fear him, and yield obedience to all his commandments: if I must needs die, I will yet wait on him and die at his feet. Look, here is the strength of faith, Christ had faith without feeling, when he cried out, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" When sense is marvellous low, then faith is at the strongest. Here we must walk and live by faith, we shall have sense and sight enough in another world. The apostle tells us, "Now we walk by faith, and not by sight, and by faith we stand." As we may see a pattern of the woman of Canaanm. First she was repulsed as a stranger, yet she goes on, then she was called a dog, she might now have been discouraged so as to have given over her suit; but see this is the nature of faith, to pick comfort out of discouragements; to see out of a very small hole those things which raise and bring consolation: she catches at this quickly, Am I a dog? why yet it is well, for the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master's table. Thus faith grew stronger in her, and when this trial was past, Christ says unto her, "O woman," not O dog, now, thy faith, be it unto thee even as thou wilt." have I done with the testimony of our spirit.
Then from our believing of God in general, believing and applying the promises, and valorous trustings of God, and restings upon God, taking him at his word, comes the testimony of "God's Spirit witnessing with our spirit that we are the children of God."
great is And thus
I say, this being done, and God having let us see what his strength in us is, he will not let us stand long in this uncomfortable state, but will come again and speak peace to us, that we may live in his sight, as if he should say, What, hast thou believed me so on my bare word? Hast
m Matth. chap. 15. ver. 22.