Interest in Christ

That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour;
~ 1 Thessalonians 4:4

I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness.
~ Romans 6:19

Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body. What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s. Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:
~ 1 Corinthians 6:18-20, 1 Corinthians 12:3, Romans 8:16

These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.
~ Hebrews 11:13

But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth:
~ 2 Thessalonians 2:13

A Treatise Of Miscellany Questions: Wherein Many Usefull Questions and Cases of Conscience are Discussed and Resolved: For the Satisfaction of Those, Who Desire Nothing More, Then to Search For and Finde Out Precious Truths, in the Controversies of These Times, by George Gillespie. 1649. The following is an excerpt from his work.

Chapter XX (Continued).

5. Argument, I shall here take notice of the concession of Theophilus Nicolaides, the Socinian in his Tractat, de Ecclesia & missione ministrorum, cap. 10. pag: 121. Although hee professeth his dissent, both from the Reformed and Romane Churches thus far, that he doeth not beleeve things drawen by consequence from Scripture to be equally necessary to salvation, as those things contained expressely in Scripture, yet he yeelddeth the things drawne by consequence to be as certaine as the the other, quantumuis, saith he, aeque certa sint quae ex sacris literis de ducuntur at{que} ea quae in illis expresse & habentur. And generally it may be observed, that even they who most cry downe consequences from Scripture, and call for expresse Scriptures, do notwithstanding, when themselves come to prove from Scripture their particular Tenents, bring no other but consequentiall prooffs. So farre is wisdome justified, not onely of her Children, but even of her Enemies. Neither is it possible that any Socinian, Erastian, &c. can disput from Scripture against a Christian, who receaveth and beleeveth the Scripture to be the word of God, but hee must needs take himself to consequentiall prooffs: for no Christian will deny what is literally and syllabically in Scripture, but all the controversies of Faith or Religion in the Christian world, were and are concerning the sense of Scripture, and consequences, drawne from Scripture.

6. Argument. If wee do not admit necessary consequences from Scripture to prove a jus divinum, wee shall deny to the great God that which is a priviledge of the little Gods or Magistrates. Take but one instance in our own age; When the Earle of Strafford was impeached for high treason, one of his defences was, that no Law of the Land had determined any of those particulars, which were proved against him to be high treason. Which defence of his was not confuted by any Law, which literally and syllabically made many of those particulars to be high treason, but by comparing together of severall Lawes, and severall matters of fact, and by drawing of necessary consequences from one thing to another, which made up against him a constructive treason. If there be a constructive or consequentiall jus humanum, there must be much more (for the considerations before mentioned) a constructive or consequentiall jus divinum.

Chapter XXI.

Of an assurance of an interest in Christ, by the marks and fruits of sanctification, and namely by love to the Brethren. Also how this agreeth with, or differeth from assurance by the Testimony of the Spirit? and whether there can bee any well grounded assurance without marks of grace.

Tis a right, a safe, a sure way to seek after, and to enjoy assurance of our interest in Christ, and in the Covenant of grace, by the marks and fruits of Sanctification. Which (before I come to the proof of it) that it may not be mistaken, but understood aright, take these three cautions; first, our best marks can contribute nothing to our justification, but onely to our consolation, cannot availe to peace with God, but to peace with our selves; gracious marks can prove our justification and peace with God, but cannot be instrumentall towards it, that is proper to faith. Faith cannot lodge in the soule alone, and without other graces, yet faith alone justifies before God. Secondly, beware that marks of grace doe not lead us from Christ, or make us looke upon our selves, as any thing at all out of Christ. Thou bearest not the root; but the root beares thee. Christ is made unto us of God, sanctification as well as righteousnesse. Thy very inherent grace and sanctification is in Christ, as light in the sunne, as water in the fountaine, as sap in the roote, as money in the treasure. ‘Tis thine onely by irradiation, effluence, diffusion, and debursement from Jesus Christ. ‘Tis Christs by propriety, thine onely by participation. ‘Tis thy Union with Christ, which conveighs the habits of grace to thy soule. ‘Tis thy communion with Christ, which stirs up, actuateth, and putteth forth those habits into holy dueties and operations. ‘Tis no acceptable duetie, no good fruit, which flowes not from the inward acting and exerciseing of grace in the soule. ‘Tis no right acting of grace in the soule, which floweth not from habituall grace, and a new nature. ‘Tis no new nature which floweth not from Christ. Thirdly, all thy markes will leave thee in the darke, if the spirit of grace do not open thine eyes, that thou mayest know the things which are freely given thee of God. Hagar could not see the well, though she was beside it, till her eyes were opened. Markes of grace are uselesse, undiscernable, and unsatisfactory, to the deserted and overclouded soule. These cautions being in our eye, that we may not separat our markes, either from the free grace of God, or from Christ, or from the spirit: I proceed to the proof of that point, which I propounded in the beginning.

First, It may bee aboundantly proved from these Texts, Psal: 17. 3. and 119. 6. 2 Cor: 1. 12. 1 John 1. 6, 7. and 2. 3. and 3. 9, 10, 14.

Secondly, our passing from the state of nature and wrath, into the state of grace, and to bee in Christ, is compared in Scripture to such things as are most decernable, and perceptible by their proper markes. ‘Tis called a passing from death to life, from darknesse to light, from being farre off, to be near, &c. all which things are known by manifest and certaine evidences. The spirit of grace is compared to fire, water, winde, which are known by sensible signes. Conversion is a returning of one who had turned away, and is not returning discernable by certaine tokens? The new creature is a good tree, and is not a good tree known by good fruits, Matth. 7. 17, 18.

Thirdly, both in Philosophy and Divinity; yea, in common sense ’tis allowed to reason from the effects to the causes, here is burning, therefore here is fire; here is the blossoming of trees and flowers, therefore it is spring, and the Sunne is turning again in his course; here is perfect day light therefore the Sunne is risen; here is good fruit growing, therefore here is a good tree. ‘Tis a consequence no lesse sure and infallible, here is unfeigned love to the brethen, therefore here is regeneration; here are spirituall motions, affections, desires, acts and operations, therefore here is spirituall life.

Fourthly, the markes of grace have so much evidence in them, as formeth in others of the Saints and servants of God, a well grounded judgement; yea, perswasion of charity, that those in whom they behold these markes, are in the state of grace and regeneration. If they could see into the hearts of others, to bee sure of the sincerity and soundnesse of their graces, they could have a judgement of certainty concerning them. But this they cannot, for who knowes the things of a man, save the spirit of a man which is in him. Sure a Saint may know more of himselfe then another Saint can know of him, for hee is conscious to the sincerity of his owne heart in in those things, whereof another Saint sees but the outside. And unlesse one will say, that a Saint can know no more of himself by marks, then another Saint can know of him by the same markes, it must needs be yeelded that, a Saint may certainly and assuredly know himselfe by the marks of grace which are in him.

Fifthly, without a tryall by markes, wee cannot distinguish between a well grounded and an ill grounded assurance, between a true and a false peace, between the consolation of the Spirit of God, and a delusion. How many times doth a soule take Sathan for Samuell; and how shall the soul in such a case be undeceived without a tryall by markes? But it may bee objected that this remedy may prove, and doth often prove no remedy; for may not Sathan deceive the soule in the way of markes, as well as without it? Can hee not deceive the soule syllogistically by false reasonings, as well as positively by false suggestions? I answer, no doubt he can, and often doth, yet the mistaking of marks may be rectified in the Children of God: Wisdome is justified of her children; but the rejecting and slighting of all markes cannot bee rectified, but is a certain and unavoidable snare to the soule. If marks of grace become snares to the Reprobate, that proves nothing against the use of markes. The word of God is a snare and a gin to the Reprobate, that they may goe and fall backward, and bee broken and snared and taken: yet the word is in it self the power of God to salvation. So, the way of markes is a sure and safe way in it selfe, and to every well informed conscience: When any conscience through errour or presumption mistakes the marke, that is the fault of the person, not of the way of markes, and the personall errour may be helped by personall light and Information, if the partie wil receave it. Whereas to make no tryall by markes, and to trust an inward testimony, under the notion of the holy Ghosts testimony, when it is without the least evidence of any true gracious marke, this way (of its own nature, and intrinsecally, or in it self is) a deluding and insnaring of the conscience.

But it may be asked, and ’tis a question worthie to bee looked into, (though I must confesse I have not read it, nor heard it handled before) how doth this assurance by marks agree with, or differ from assurance by the testimony of the holy Ghost? May the soule have assurance either way, or must there be a concurrence of both (for I suppose they are not one and the same thing) to make up the assurance?

For answere whereunto, I shall first of all distinguish a twofold certainty, even in reference to the minde of man, or in his conscience, (for I speak not heare ertitudine entis, but mentis) the one may be called , when the conscience is in tuto, may be secure; needeth not feare and be troubled. The Graecians have used the word , when they were speaking of giving security and assurance by safe conducts, or by pledges, or by sureties, or the like. The other is , a full perswasion, when the soule doth not onely stirre a right and safe course, and needeth not feare danger, but saile, before the winde, and with all it’s sailes full. So there is answerably a double uncertainty, the one may be called, when a man is in himselfe perplexed and difficulted, and not without cause, having no grounds of assurance; when a man doth doubt and hesitate concerning a conclusion, because hee hath no reasons or arguments to prove it, when a man is in a wildernesse where he can have no way, or shut up where hee can have no safe escaping. The other is , which is a doubting that ariseth not from want of arguments, or from the inextricable difficultie of the grounds, but from a disease of the minde, which makes it suspend or retaine it’s assent, even when it hath sufficient grounds upon which it may be assured. Now ’tis the evidence of signes or markes of grace, which giveth that first kinde of certainty, and removeth that first kinde of uncertainty: But ’tis the testimony of the Spirit of the Lord, which giveth the second kinde of certainty, and removeth the second kinde of uncertainty. Take a simile two or three for illustration. The Scripture is known to bee indeed the word of God, by the beames of divine auctority which it hath in it selfe, and by certaine distinguishing Characters, which doe infallibly prove it to be the word of God, such as the heavenlynesse of the matter; the Majesty of the style, the irresistible power over the conscience; the generall scope, to a base man, and to exalt God, nothing driven at but Gods glory and mans salvation; The extraordinary holinesse of the Penmen of the holy Ghost, without any respect to particular interests of their owne, or of others of their nearest relations, (which is manifest by their writings) the supernaturall mysteries revealed therein, which could never have entered inthe reason of men, the marvailous consent of all parts and passages (though written by diverse and severall Penmen) even where there is some appearance of difference; the fulfilling of prophesies, the miracles wrought by Christ, by the Prophets and Apostles; the conservation of the Scripture against the malice of Sathan, and fury of persecuters. These and the like are characters and markes, which evidence the Scriptures to be the word of God; yet all these cannot beget in the soule a full perswasion of faith, that the Scriptures are the word; this perswasion is from the holy Ghost in our hearts. And it hath been the common resolution of Protestant writers (though now called in question by the Scepticks of this age) that these arguments and infallible characters in the Scripture it selfe, which most certainly prove it to be the word of God, cannot produce a certainty of perswasion in our hearts, but this is done by the Spirit of God within us, according to these Scriptures, 1 Cor: 2. 10, 11, 14, 15. 1 Thes: 1. 5. 1 Iohn 2. 27. and 5. 6, 7, 8, 10. Ioh: 6. 45.

In like manner, a Scholler or a young disputant may argue and dispute (be it in Philosophie or Divinity) upon very right and sure principles, yet perdventure, not without great feare and doubting in his own thoughts, till he be put out of that feare, by the approbation and testimony of his learned Master who presideth in the dispute. The evidence of good markes while it is opened unto us, may make our hearts to burne within us, as those Disciples said, which were going to Emmaus, but yet our eyes are held (as it was with them) that wee doe not know Christ in us, or talking with us, untill our eyes be opened by the Spirit. No doubt they had much light breaking in upon their understandings, while Christ expounded unto them the Scriptures by the way, and this light was with life and heat in their hearts: But after they knew Christ in breaking of bread, then, and not till then, came the fulnesse of perswasion, and then they could say, The Lord is risen indeed. Luke 24. 15, 16, 30, 31, 32, 34. Our inward evidence of graces or use of signes may bring the Children to the birth (I mean in point of assurance) but ’tis the evidence of the Spirit of God, which giveth strength to come forth. Without this evidence of the Spirit of God, the soule doth but grope after a full assurance, as it were in the dark; but when the holy Ghost commeth to do the office of a Comforter, then there is light and liberty.

Our assurance of justification, adoption, grace and salvation, is virtually in a syllogisticall way: Whoever beleeves on the Sonne of God, shall not perish, but have life everlasting. But I beleeve on the Sonne of God. Therefore, &c. Whoever judge themselves shall not be judged of the Lord. But I judge my self. Therefore, &c. Whoever loveth the Brethren, hath passed from death to life. But I love the Brethren. Therefore, &c. In these or the like proofes, ’tis the Spirit of grace which gives us the right understanding, and firme beliefe of the proposition. As for the assumption which hath in it the evidence of graces, ’tis made good by a twofold testimony, the testimony of our consciences, 2 Cor: 1. 12. 1 Iohn. 3 19. 20, 21. and the testimonie of the Spirit it selfe, bearing witnesse together with our consciences. And although both propositions be made good, yet we are so slow of heart to beleeve, that we cannot without the speciall help of the Comforter the holy Ghost, freely, boldly, joyfully, and with a firme perswasion, inferre the conclusion as a most certain truth. So that in the businesse of assurance and full perswasion, the evidence of graces, and the testimony of the Spirit are two concurrent couses or helps, both of them necessary without the evidence of graces, ’tis not a safe nor a well grounded assurance, without the testimony of the Spirit, tis not a plerophory or full assurance. There were two evidences of purchase in use among the Jewes, one sealed, another open, Ier: 32. 11. Which custome Hierome saith, was continued till his time. The evidence of the Spirit is like that which was sealed; the evidence of markes, like that which was open. Therefore let no man divide the things which God hath joyned together. See them joyned in three Texts of Scripture, Rom: 8. 16. neither our spirit alone, nor the spirit of the Lord alone beareth witnesse that we are the Children of God; but both these together beare witnesse of this thing. The spirit it self beareth witnesse with our spirit, 1 Cor: 2. 10. 12. we read, that the spirit revealeth unto us, and makes us to know the things which are freely given to us of God. But withall vers: 13. there is a comparing spirituall things with spirituall, and so among other things compared together, there is a comparing of spirituall markes, with a spirituall state, of spirituall fruit, with a spirituall tree, &c. 1 John 5. 6. the spirits witnessing, is joyned with the witnessing of the water and blood, that is with the evidence of grace, the evidence of justification, and a pacified conscience sprinkled with the blood of Christ: and purged from the guilt of sinne, also the evidence of sanctification and a pure conscience, purged from the inherent filth and staine of corruption; the former of these is the testimony of the blood; the latter is the testimony of the water, and both these not enough (as to the point of assurance) without the testimony of the spirit, nor it enough without them.

In the next place let us take a tryall of this way of assurance, so far as concerneth the evidence of graces, so much opposed by the Antinomians. Let us take that notable evidence, 1 Iohn 3. 14. And now heare the Antinomian Objections against this assurance, from the evidence of love to the Brethren.

‘Tis objected, that a soule must be exceedingly puzled with this marke of love to the brethren, before it can clear the case that it belongs to Christ, for if you will try your selfe by this marke, you must know first what it is to love the brethren, secondly, that they are the brethren whom you love. The nature of love is described, 1 Cor: 13. 4, 5, 6, 7. Charity, (or love) suffereth long, and is kinde: Charity envieth not▪ Charity vaunteth not it selfe: is not puffed up, doeth not behave it selfe unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evill, rejoyceth not in iniquity, but rejoyceth in the truth: beareth all things, beleeveth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Come now, and bring your hearts to these particulars in your examination.. Is there no envying in mee at all towards the Brethren? Is there no thinking evill of any of the Brethren? Is there no seeking my selfe, or my owne good in my love to them? Is there a bearing all things for their sakes? Is there no being puffed up, or vaunting above the brethren? Is there no thinking better of my selfe, then of them?—So that a soul must attaine to a mighty high measure of sanctification and victory over a mans self, before it can reach to this to say, I love the Brethren. But suppose you finde all this love in your selves, doe you know they are the brethren you love; you know the brother-hood consciences in being united unto Christ, that is an invisible thing, none can know it but God onely; no man can say, such a one is a brother. And if you say, though I am not certaine that he is a Brother, yet I love him under the notion of a brother: to this it is replyed: Take all the Sects in the world, they will love their owne Sects as Brethren: And after a description of the Antinomians, ’tis added, These are the Brethren; do you love these men? Oh, there are many that goe by signes and markes, that cannot endure the Brethren, they goe with them under the name of Libertines. I have now the objection before me, as full and strong as one of the best gifted Antinomians of this age could make it. For answer whereunto I will demonstrate these three things. 1. That this objection destroyes as much and more, their own exposition of this Text in 1 Joh. 3. 14 That the Antinomian way of removing scruples and doubts of conscience, and setling a soule in peace and assurance, is a most inextricable Labyrinth, and layeth knots faster upon the conscience, in stead of loosing them. 3. That this way of assurance by the marke of love to the brethren, is a sure and safe way, and hath no such inextricablenesse in it, as is here objected.

First I say, their objection militateth as strongly, yea much more strongly against their own interpretation of my Text: For the same Antinomian in that same Sermon, and others of that way understand the scope of this Text to be for comforting the brethren against the difesteem the world had of them; the world hates them, vers: 13. But we know (saith he) that we are translated from death to life, because we love the brethren; that is, whatever the world judgeth of us, we perceive and know one another by this mark, that we love the Brethren. In short, they say, this seemes rather to be a marke how my brother may know me, then that by which I should know my self. Which interpretation, how ill grounded it is, and how inconsistent with vers. 18, 19, 20, 21. who seeth not? Only I now observe that they cast down what themselves build: For if I cannot know my self by the inside of love, much lesse can my brother know me by the out side of love: and if I cannot have any solid or safe comfort from this, that I love the Brethren; how much lesse can this comfort me that others judge me to be a lover of the brethren? And how do I know them to be the brethren who judge so of me? For (by their rule) no man can say such a one is a brother, so that they do but tye themselves with their own knots, and must therefore either quite their sense of the Text and take ours, or else hold that this text hath no comfort at all in it, which yet is most full of comfort, and sweet as the honey and the honey combe.

But secondly will you see these men falling yet more foully in the ditch they have digged for others? While they object so much against a believers examining or assuring his conscience by fruits of sanctification, sincerity of heart, hatred of sin, respect to all the commandements, love to the Brethren; while they tell us that none of these can be sure evidences to the soule, and while they pretend to shew other soule satisfying evidences, which can resolve, quiet, comfort, and assure the conscience, they do but more and more lead the soule into a labyrinth, and make the spirits of men to wander from mountain to hill, and to forget their resting place. I might here take notice of the six remedies against doubting, which one of them offereth, as an antidote and preservative against all objections whatsoever, yet all the six put together cannot resolve nor clear the conscience in the point of a personall or particular interest in Christ; I heare much (will the perplexed soule say) of the nature of faith, of free justification, of the things sealed in Baptisme, &c. But oh I cannot see that I have any interest for my part in these things. Not to insist upon these six remedies, which are indeed most insufficient as to this point, my present work shall be, to speak unto those personall and particular evidences of an interest in Christ, which are held foorth by their chief writers. Do but observe their way, and you shall see that either they fall in at last into our way of gracious marks and qualifications, or otherwise leave the Conscience much more perplexed and unsatisfied, then they found it. They tell us of two evidences, a revealing evidence, and a receiving evidence: that by the spirits testimony, this by faith. The revealing evidence of interest in the priviledges of Christ, which will put an end to all objections, is the voice of the Spirit of God to a mans own spirit. This is the great evidence indeed and the evidence which at last doth determine the question, and put an end to all objections. Well: But doth the Spirit of God give testimony to the soule, any otherwise then according to the word of God? No, saith the same writer, by no means, for it is most certainly true, (saith he) that every voice in man speaking peace, being contrary to the word of grace, that voice is not the voice of the spirit of the Lord,—it is the voice of the spirit of delusion. Immediatly he moves this doubt, But how shall I know that this voice, though it be according to the word of grace, is indeed the voice of the spirit of the Lord, and be satisfied that it is so. He might have moved this doubt, which is greater, how shall I know that this voice or this testimony doth indeed speak according to the word, or whether it speak contrary to the word, & so be the voice of the spirit of delusion. Peradventure he had found it difficult, and even impossible to answer this doubt, without making use of and having recourse unto the way of signes or marks, such as the word holds foorth: And this agreeth to that twofold joint witnessing, Rom: 8. 16. the spirit of God is not simply , a witnesse, but , qui simul testimonium dicit, he bears witness not only to, but with our spirit, that is, with our conscience, So that if the witnesse of our Conscience be blank and can testifie nothing of sincerity, hatred of sin, love to the Brethren, or the like, then the spirit of God witnesseth no peace nor comfort to that soul, and the voice which speaketh peace to a person who hath no gracious mark or qualification in him, doth not speak according to the word, but contrary to the word, and is therefore a spirit of Delusion. I shall not contend about the precedence or order between these two Testimonies in the soul, so that we hold them together, and do not separat them in our assuring or comforting of our hearts before God. And here I must take notice of another Passage, where he whose principles I now examine saith, I do not determine peremptorily, that a man cannot by way of evidence receive any comfort from his sanctification, which he thus cleareth.

The spirit of the Lord must first reveal the gracious minde of the Lord to our spirits, and give to us Faith to receive that Testimony of the Spirit, and to sit down as satisfied with his Testimony before ever any work of Sanctification can possibly give any evidence; But when the Testimony of the Spirit of the Lord is received by Faith, and the soule sits down satisfied with that Testimony of the Lord, then also all the gifts of God’s Spirit do bear witnesse together with the Spirit of the Lord, and the Faith of a Believer. Surely such a Testimony or voice in the soul, as the soul sits down satisfied with before ever any work of sanctification can possibly give any evidence, is not an evidence according to the word, but contrary to the word, and therefore not the revealing evidence of the spirit of God, so that in this I must needs dissent from him, for he casts the soule upon a most dangerous precipice, neither is the danger helped, but rather increased by that posteriour evidence, or after comfort of sanctification, which he speaks of, for the soule being before set down satisfied with the Testimony of the spirit of the Lord, and Faith receiving that Testimony (so he supposeth) it cannot now examin whether its sanctification be sound or not sound, whether its graces be common or speciall, seeming or real: It implyes a contradiction if I say that I am assured by the evidence of the spirit of God, and by the evidence of Faith that I am in Christ, and in Covenant with God, and that notwithstanding I sit down satisfied with this assurance, yet I am not sure of the soundnesse of my Sanctification. Therefore to put the soule upon a looking after the evidence of graces, and the comfort of sanctification, when the soule is before hand fully assured and satisfied against all objections and doubtings, is not onely to lay no weight at all upon these marks of Sanctification, in the point of resolving or clearing the Conscience, but it is much worse then so, it is a confirming or strengthning of the Soule in such a Testimony or assurance, as it hath setled upon contrary to the Scripture. And here is a great difference between these Antinomian principles and ours: We hold the assurance or evidence of marks to be privative, they yeeld no more but that it is at most cumulative to the evidence of the Spirit of God and of Faith. For my part I dare not think otherwise, but that person is deluded who thinks himsef fully assured of his interest in Christ by the voice of the Spirit of the Lord, and by the evidence of Faith, when in the mean time his Conscience cannot beare him witnesse of the least mark of true grace or Sanctification in him. And I must needs hold that whatsoever voice in man speaking peace to him, is antecedaneus unto, and separated or disjoyned from all or any evidence of the marks of true (although very imperfect) Sanctification, is not the voice of the Spirit of the Lord, neither speaketh according, but contrary to the written Word of God.

I heartily yeeld that the Spirit of the Lord is a Spirit of Revelation, and it is by the Spirit of God, that we know the things which are freely given us of God, so that without the Comforter, the Holy Ghost himself bearing witnesse with our Spirit, all our marks cannot give us a plerophory or comfortable assurance. But this I say, that which we have seen described by the Antinomians as the Testimony of the Spirit of the Lord is a very unsafe and unsure evidence, and speaks beside, yea contrary to the written Word. The Word speaks no peace to the wicked, to the ungodly, to hypocrits, to morall Christians, to the presumptuous, to the self-confident, to the unmortified carnall professours, to temporary believers. Christ and his benefits are indeed offered and held foorth unto all that are in the Church, and all cal’d upon to come unto Christ, that they may have life in him, and whoever cometh shall not be cast out, this is certain: but yet the Word speaks no peace nor assurance, save to the humble and contrite, to those that tremble at his word, to those that are convinced of sin, to those that do not regard iniquity in their hearts; but hate sin with sincere hatred; to those that believe on the Son of God, that love the Brethren, &c. Now therefore the Spirit of the Lord which speaks not to the soul, but according to the word of grace (as is confessed) doth not speak comfort or assurance to any others, but these only. And if a man would know certainly whether the voice or Testimony which speaks to his Spirit be a delusion or not, he must to the Law and to the Testimony, and search whether it speak according to this Word. Tis granted to us that if the voice which speaks peace in man be not according to the written word of God, it is not the Spirit of the Lord. But withall tis cautiously declined by these men, that the voice which speaks in the soul be tryed by the written word. They tell us, it is not the Word that maks us believe the Spirit, But it is the Spirit that makes us give credit to the Word: That it is only the Spirit of God that can truely satisfie the spirit of a man, that it is his own testimony; and not the spirit of Delusion. That as, in all Arts and Sciences there are some Principles—beyond which there must be no inquiry, so also in divine things.—Is there any thing in the world of better credit, or that may rather be believed with men then the Spirit himself? Nay can any believe, but by this Spirit? If not, then nothing else is able satisfyingly to bear witnesse to the Spirit, but it self. This is as if we should receive the Testimony of the Spirit upon the credit of some other thing.

Whereunto I answer first, Tis to be remembred, The question is not whether the Word of the Lord can satisfie or pacifie a sinners conscience without the Spirit; for we say plainly that as the best marks of grace, so the richest and sweetest promises and comforts of the word cannot make the soule sit down satisfied, till the spirit of the Lord himself speak peace and comfort within us. Whence it was that after Nathan had said to David in the name of the Lord, The Lord hath put away thy sin, thou shalt not die, yet even then David prayed, Make me to hear joy and gladnesse, that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice. Restore unto me the joy of thy Salvation and uphold me with thy free Spirit. Psal. 51, 8: 12. with 2 Sam. 12: 13: But tis another thing which is here in question, for clearing whereof, observe that the efficient cause, or revealing evidence which maks us believe and be assured is one thing: The objectum fomale fidei or that for which we believe and are assured, is another thing. In humane sciences a Teacher is necessary to a young Student, yet the Student doth not believe the conclusions because his Teacher teacheth him so, but because these conclusions follow necessarily from the known and received principles of the Sciences, and although he had never understood either the principles or the conclusions, without the help of a Teacher, yet he were an ill scholler who cannot give an accompt of his knowledge from demonstration, but only from this that he was taught so. In seeking a legall assurance or security we consult our Lawyers, who peradventure will give us light aud knowledge of that which we little imagined: yet a man cannot build a wel grounded assurance, nor be secure because of the Testimony of Lawyers, but because of the deeds themselves, Charters, Contracts or the like. So we cannot be assured of our interest in Christ, without the work of the holy Ghost, and his revealing evidence in our hearts; yet the ground and reason of our assurance, or that for which we are assured, is not his act of revealing, but the truth of the thing itself which he doth reveal unto us from the word of God. Secondly, this is not to receive the Testimony of the Spirit upon the credit of some other thing, for the Spirit that speaketh in the Word, is not another thing from the Spirit that speaketh in our hearts, and saith, we are the Children of God, when we receive the Testimony or evidence in our hearts, upon the credit of the Word, we receive it upon the Holy Ghosts own credit, comparing spirituall things with spirituall, as the Apostle saith. The holy Scripture is called a more sure word then that voice of God which came from heaven concerning his welbeloved Sonne, 2 Pet. 1. 17, 18, 19. and so by parity of Reason, if not a fortiori, the written word of God, is surer then any voice which can speak in the soule of a man, and an inward Testimony may sooner deceive us, then the written word can, which being so, we may and ought to try the voice which speaks in the soule by the voice of the Lord which speaks in the Scripture. If it agree not, then we have not losed, but have made a right discovery and found out a depth of Sathan, and so gained by the tryall. If it do agree, so likewise we are gainers, being confirmed in the assurance, not upon the Testimony of another, but upon the surest and best known Testimony of the holy Ghost himself. Thirdly, if these things be not admitted, and if the Antinomian argument which now I speak to, stand good, then it shall be easie for any deluded person to repell the most searching convictions which can be offered to him from Scripture, for he shal still think with himself, (though unhumbled and unregenerat) it is the voice of the spirit of the Lord, which speaks peace to my soule, and this voice I know is according to the word, because I am assured by the same spirit that it is indeed according to the Word, and other evidence I will not look after, because I am to receive the Testimony of the Spirit upon his own credit, and not upon the credit of some other thing: The voice of the spirit which speaks in my soul is that, beyond which there must be no inquiry. I ask now, how shall the Antinomians convince such a one from Scriptur? Nay how can they choose but (according to their principles) confirme him in his delusory, imaginary assurance? Fourthly, the very same Antinomian Author, who speaks of the Testimony of the spirit of God in the soul, as that beyond which there must be no inquirie; and which puts an end to all objections, even he himself doth by and by tell us of aliquid ultra, and puts the soul upon a further inquiry, (which as I said before) shal either resolve into our way of assurance by marks, or otherwise leave the soul overclouded, & more in the dark then at the beginning. And so I come to his secōd evidence, which he cals the receiving evidēce.

Though the spirit of the Lord (saith he) doe reveal the minde of the Lord to men, yet they are not fully resolved concerning this mind of the Lord to their own spirits, till by Faith they do receive it—Now till men do receive this Testimony and believe it, they are never resolved; but when men do receive it and believe it, that it is a true Testimony, then they sit down satisfied. Again, Faith is an evidence as it doth take possession of that which the spirit of the Lord reveals, and manifests and gives to a person.—The spirit indeed makes the title good, but faith maks good the entry and possession, and so clears the title to us, though good in it self before:—Is there a voice behind thee, or within thee, saying particularly to thee in thy self, thy sins are forgiven thee? Doest thou see this voice agree with the word of Grace?—If thou doest receive the Testimony of the Spirit according to that word. If thou doest indeed receive it, here is thy evidence. Thereafter he moves this objection. But you will say, if there be not fruits of faith following, that faith is a dead faith, and therefore there must be something to evidence with it. For answer whereunto, first he rejects this as a great indignity to Faith, If faith be not able of it self to give Testimony, or must not be credited, when it doth give Testimony, except something will come and testifie for it, to give credit unto it. Next he answereth thus, that which hath the whole essence of faith, is not a dead, but a living faith: Now the whole essence of faith is nothing else but the Eccho of the heart answering the foregoing voice of the spirit, and word of Grace, thy sins are forgiven thee saith the spirit and word of Grace, my sins are forgiven me, saith Faith. If therefore the Eccho to the voice of Spirit and word of Grace, be the essence, nay be the whole essence of believing, this is certain, where there is receiving or beleiving, there cannot be a dead faith.

Now behold him at a losse, all resolves into this issue, no assurance by the Testimony of the spirit and word of grace, unlesse this testimony be received by faith, no entry and possession, no clearing of the title to the soule, no resolution or satisfaction to the conscience till it beleive. But then while the soule examines it self, whether it have a true lively faith, or only a dead faith, he dare not admit the tryall of faith by the fruits of it, as if it were an indignity to the tree to be knowen by the fruit, or to the fire to be knowen by the heat. Faith purifieth the heart, saith the Scripture. Faith workes by love. Faith shewes it self by works. This Antinomian durst not adventure upon this tryall by the Scripture markes of faith: yea, to avoid this, he runnes into a great and dangerous errour, that the whole essence of faith is nothing else, but the Eccho of the heart answering the voice of the spirit, and saying, my sinnes are forgiven me, as if there were no faith where there is no assurance of the forgivenesse of sinnes, and as if faith were quite lost, as often and as long as the soule cannot say with assurance, my sinnes are forgiven me. Again, may there not bee a false Eccho in the heart: may not a temporary beleever who receaves the word of grace with joy, say within himself, my sinnes are forgiven me? Where is the clearing of the conscience now? Is it in that last word, where there is receaving or beleeving, there cannot be a dead faith? But how shall I know that there is indeed a receving and beleving? The essence of faith is the receaving of Christ in the word of grace, and resting upon him for righteousnesse and life. Now another Antinomian tells us, that to receave Christ and his benefites truely, doth necessarily include in it these foure particular points. 1, To know our lost state by the least sinne, our misery without Christ, and what need we have of him. 2. To see the excellency and worth of Christ and his benefites. 3. A taking and having of Christ and his benefites to ones owne self in particular. 4. To be filled with great joy and thankfull zeal. If these things be so, then I am sure, many doe imagine they have receaved Christ and his benefites by faith, who have not truely and really receaved him: so that the (soul searching it self in this point, whether have I any more then a dead faith, or a counterfeit faith?) dare not acquiesce nor sit down satisfied with that resolution, where there is receaving or beleeving, there cannot be a dead faith. For the soule must still enquire, whether is my receaving or beleeving true, reall, sound, lively, and such as cannot agree to a dead faith? The same Author whom I last cited, where he putteth a difference between a counterfeit faith, and a true faith, he saith, that the counterfeit faith neither reneweth nor changeth the heart, it maketh not a new man; but leaveth him in the vanity of his former opinion and conversation. Whence, that he who wil throughly & rightly examine himself in this particular, have I true faith, yea or no? Must needs (before he have a solid resolution) be put upon this further inquiry, is there any heart-renewing or heartchanging work in me? or am I still in the vanity of my former opinion and conversation, yea or no?

I shall now after all this, appeall to any tender conscience which is sadly and seriously searching it self, whether it be in the faith, whether Christ be in the soul and the soul in Christ, let any poor wearied soul which is longing and seeking after rest, refreshment, ease, peace comfort and assurance, judge and say whether it can possibly, or dare sit down satisfied with the Antinomian way of assurance, before largely declared, which yet hath been held foorth by those of that stamp, as the only way to satisfie and assure the conscience, and to put an end to all objections. I begin to hear as it were sounding in mine ears the sad lamentation of a poor soule which hath gone along with their way of comfort, and assurance, and hath followed it to the utmost, as far as it will go.

Oh (saith the soul) I have applyed my self to search and find out, and to be clearly resolved in this great and tender point, whether I bee in Christ or not? whether I have passed from death to life, from the state of nature into the state of grace, or not? whether I be acquit from the curse and condemnation of the Law, and my sins pardoned, or not? when, O when shall I be truly, clearly, and certainly resolved in this thing? Tis as darknesse and death to me, to be unresolved and unsatisfied in it. I refused to be comforted without this comfort…go to now and prove & see this Antinomian way, and when I had proved it, I communed with mine own heart, and my spirit made diligent search. Then said I of it, thou art madnesse and folly. Their doctrine pretendeth to drop as the honey comb, yet at the last it byteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an Adder, I find their words at first to be soft as oyle and butter, yet I find them at last as swords and spears to my perplexed heart. I am forbidden to try my spirituall condition, or to seek after assurance of my interest in Christ, by any mark or fruit of sanctification, be it sincerity of heart, hatred of sin, love to the Brethren, or be what it will be: I am told it is unsafe and dangerous for me to adventure upon any such marks; I do not mean as causes, conditions, or any way instrumentall in my justification, (for in that consideration I have ever disclaimed my graces) nay I do not mean of any comfort or assurance by my sanctification, otherwise then as it flowes from Christ, who is made unto me of God sanctification als well as righteousnes. But I am told by these Antinomians, that even in the point of consolation and assurance, tis not safe for me to reason and conclud from the fruit to the tree, from the light to the sun, from the heat to the fire, from the effect to the cause, I love the brethren with true and unfeigned love, therefore I have passed from death to life. They say, I dare not, I cannot have any true comfort or assurance grounded upon this or any such mark. They promised me a shorter, an easier, a surer, a sweeter way to come by the assurance which I so much long after. They put me upon the revealing evidence or Testimony of the holy Ghost, which I know indeed to be so necessary, that without it, all my marks will leave me in the dark. But as they open and explain it unto me, I must not try by the written word, whether the voice or Testimony that speaks in my heart, be indeed the voice of the Spirit of the Lord, yet they themselves tell me that every voice in man which speaketh peace to him, and speaketh not according to the word of grace, is a spirit of delusion.

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