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3. Their having a Spirit, even the Spirit of God dwelling in them, which the world have not, Rom. viii. 9. Jude 19. When Lazarus's fpirit entered again into his body, he was separated from the congregation of the dead; and when a dead finner gets the Spirit of Christ breathed into him, he is separated from the world, as much as the living from the dead.
4. Lastly, Their having a difpofition, frame, bent, and cast of heart and soul, opposite to that of the world; so that they are as much separated from the world, as enemies are one from another, Gen. iii. 15. Hence they are in their great designs, affections, courfe and manner of life, non-conformists, and opposites to the world : as opposite as Caleb and Joshua were to their unbelieving countrymen, Numb.
From this doctrine, we may learn the following things.
1. This speaks the dignity of believers. They are the truly honourable ones, as being of God; they are the excellent of the earth. What avails it that men can boast of their honourable extra&t in the world, while it still remains true, that they are of their father the devil ? The beggar on the dunghill being of God, is more honourable than the wicked king fitting on his throne, attended with all the majefty of a kingdom.
2. It fpeaks the privilege of believers. Every one will care and provide for his own : be fure God will then take special concern about believers, Matth. vi. 31, 32. Therefore take no thought, saying, What Mall we eat? or what fəall we drink? or wherewithal foall we be clothed (For after all these things do the Gentiles feek) for your beavenly Father knoweth tbat
ye bave need of all these things. But many such, ye may fay, are sorrily provided for. Anf. Ye are too hasty in such a judgment, Heb. xi. 16. God is not afbamed to be called their God; for be hath pre
pared pared for them a city. Every one will protect his own too; God will then protect believers, and he will
avenge all their quarrels. There is never an unkindness done to them, but he will refent it, as yę will fee from Christ's procedure with the wicked at the last day, Matth. XXV... There is not a hard word spoken to them, nor a wrong look given them, but he will cause their enemies pay for it.
3. It speaks the duty of believers. Carry yourselves as becomes your dignity and privilege, as those that are of God. Trust him with all your concerns, in all your straits ; walk tenderly before him, remembering that your follies reflect dishonour on him ye belong to; and that ye are to evidence your being of God, by your steering another course than the world lying in wickedness.
4. Lastly, It shews the self deceivery of unbelievers, pretenders to a saying interest in God, while in the mean time they are lying together with the world in wickedness. How can they be of God, who are not separated from the world, but walking according to the course thereof, in the lust of the flesh, the luft of the eyes, and the pride of life.
But I proceed to the second doctrine from the text.
Doct. II. Peoples being of God, and separated from the world.lying in wickedness, is what may
be known by themselves. We know that we are of God, says the apostle. There is a people in the world, yet not of the world, but separated from it; and they may see that they are such.
In treating this subject, I shall shew,
1. What knowledge may be had of this. <II. Make some practical improvement.
I. I am to thew what knowledge may be had of this, That one is of God, and separated from the world lying in wickedness.
There are three ways of coming to the knowledge of a thing
grace; may be
1. By our senses, as we know fire to be hot, and ice to be cold. But this matter cannot be known that way. The grace of God, and the spiritual privileges of believers, are not the objedts of sense. Indeed, if separation from the world were just a feparating from one party and joining with another in church. society; we might know it by sense; but it is not fo.
2. By extraordinary revelation, vifions, voices, or impreslions. Such things have been, as in Abraham's cafe, Gen. xvii. 1, 2. But that dispensation is ceased, the canon of the scripture being completed, and we referred to it, as unto a more sure word of prophecy, 2 Pet. i. 19. It was never common to all, though all are required to know this, ver. 10. Affus Tance then of one's being in a state of attained without extraordinary revelation.
3. By rational evidence, as seeing a house, we know it has been built by some one ; seeing the world, we know that it has been created of God; because they could not make themselves. So men may know themselves to be of God, by giving diligence to make their calling and ele£tion sure, 2 Pet. i.
Two things concur here. ift, Spiritual discerning, a spiritual fight, taste, or feeling of the things of God, in ourselves or others, I Cor. ii. 14. It is the total want of this in fome, that makes them deceive themselves; they have no spiritual discerning, to distinguish between God's people and the world ; so they are like men in the dark, that know not where they are, nor whither they are going. And the weakness of this discern
many of God's people, robs them of the comfort they might have.
2dly; Spiritual reasoning on fcripture grounds, *1 John v. 13. Thefe things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that
have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God. The word is the rule, which pronounces of mens state in the
general; by spiritual discerning believers fee in them. selves or others, those things concerning which the scripture pronounces; and by spiritual reasoning they come to know by these means that they are of God, and separated from the world lying in wickedness. Now, by way of rational evidence, one may know this of a two-fold object.
1. Of others. One may know that others are of God, and separated from the world, discerning the image of God shining forth in them, and hence gathering that they are of God, and not of the world. So the apoftle in the text speaks of others as well as himself.
There is a spiritual discerning in that case, as Barnabas saw the grace of God in the converts at Antioch, Acts xi. 23. And this knowledge is fupposed in the command of loving one another, given to God's people ; for how can men love others as of God, if they cannot know them to be fo?
2. Of themselves. A true believer may know himself to belong to God, and not to the world. So this apostle says in the text, We know that we are of God. There are such marks of diftinction betwixt the two societies fixed in the word, that, by fpiritual discerning and reafoning, one that is of God may be satisfied, that he is really of God, and needs not be always in the dark in that point.
But betwixt that knowledge concerning one's felf and others, there is this remarkable difference.
If, In the case of others, we can have, by rational evidence, only a judgment of charity, not of certainty, without extraordinary revelation, such as Ananias had with respect to Paul, Acts ix. Is. This is found. ed upon probable appearance of the grace of God in them, which yet may be but an appearance. Hence the best of men may be deceived in their opinion of others, as Philip was with Simon Magus. The devil's goats may be taken for Christ's sheep, by very dif. cerning Christians. Of this I would say, (1.) We should not be rash in giving or refusing that judgment, but hold pace with the appearance or non-appearance of the grace of God in them. We are bid to beware of men; for we are told all men are liars : and many a fair outside there is, where there is a foul infide, that a little trial discovers ; therefore we ought not to have the persons of any in admiration. On the other side, the grace of God may dwell with much drofs; therefore we are to beware left we trample the jewel under foot, because it lies in a dunghill.
(2.) The love bestowed on hypocrites is not all bft, and therefore it is safeft erring on the charitable fide. A man may love Christ in a hypocrite ; not that Chrift dwells in any such, but that what we befow on any for Christ's fake, whether they really deferve it or not, will not lofe its reward, Mark ix. 41. And by the rule of charity, we are obliged to put the beft construction on our neighbour's Itate and way that they can reasonably bear, I Cor. xii. 7. had better judge ten hypocrites fincere, for that may be duty, than one fincere person a hypocrite, for that must always be fin.
(3.) Let us carry our judgment of others no far. ther than that of charity, and not pretend to a certainty, which is not competent to us in that case, but to God only. He alone is the searcher of hearts, without the knowledge of which an absolute certainty cannot be attained. Keeping within our own bounds, the deceit discovered in the world would brangle us the less, as being not inconsistent with the judgment that we forined.
2dly, In our own case, we may have by rational evidence a judgment of certainty, without extraordinary revelation. We may in an ordinary way, if we really belong to God, be infallibly affured of it.
The reason of the difference is plain; we see the open actions and carriages of others, but we cannot know the secret springs of them, the principles, ends, and manner of them, upon which the main stress lies ;