Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

those who are highly esteemed of men, are generally content to live and die. Nay, but God hath prepared better things for thee, if thou follow on till thou attain. Thou art not called to fear and tremble, like Devils, but to rejoice and love, like the Angels of God. "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength." Thou shalt "rejoice evermore;" thou shalt "pray without ceasing; " thou shalt "in every thing give thanks." Thou shalt do the will of God on earth as it is done in heaven. O prove thou "what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God." Now present thyself "a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God." "Whereunto thou hast already attained, hold fast," by reaching forth unto those thiugs which are before; until " the God of peace make thcc perfect 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][ocr errors]

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 Testimony 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 onr spirit. But here I cannot but 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 iu 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 immediately subjoins, Auto To irvtuixx (some copies read, To Ovto <mivy.a.} av/ufucgrvgEi r<i> mevfj^ri V>i/my, on Eg/meii Texva ©£«; which may be translated, "The same Spirit beareth witness to our spirit, that we are the children of God." (The preposition Jw only 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 evince, that there 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 lias given him, which religion was designed not to extinguish, but to perfect;—according 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 will easily conclude,—therefore I am a son of God.

3. Agreeable to this arc 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. ii. 3.) "Whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know wc 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 doeth righteousness is born of him." (ver. 29.) "Wc know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren." (Chap. iii. 11.) "Hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him ; " (ver. 19;) namely, because we " love one another, not in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth." "Hereby know we that we dwell in him, because he hath given us of his [loving] Spirit." (Chap. iv. 13.) And, "Hereby we know that he abideth in us 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 were farther advanced in the grace of God, and the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ, than the Aposlle 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 are children of God: Hut we have these marks : Therefore wc are children of God.

5. Hut how does it appear, that wc have these marks? This is a question which still remains. How does it appear, that we do love God and our neighbour, and that wc keep his commandments? Observe, that the meaning of the qucstion is, How does it appear to ourselves? (not to others.) I would ask him, then, that proposes this question, How does it appear to you, that you arc 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 will know 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 but 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 longsuffering. 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 Sabbathday 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 eat or drink, you are temperate therein, and do all to the glory of God.

6. Now this is properly the testimony of our own spirit j even the testimony of our own 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 care upon him, and embracing every child of man with earnest; tender affection; so as to be ready to lay down our life for our brother, as Christ laid down his life for us :—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 he "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

« AnteriorContinuar »