« PreviousContinue »
fered to you ; and thus alone shall you attain to holiness both in heart and life.
OF THE BENEFITS FLOWING FROM JUSTIFICATION, ADOPTION,
Rom. v. 1, 2.Therefore being justified by faith, we have
peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ. By whom also we have access by faith into this grace
wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. "HERE are three sorts of benefits belonging to the jus
tified, adopted, and sanctified. (1.) Some in this life they partake of. (2.) Some at death. (3.) Some at the resurrection. As for those in this life, we are told what they are in that question, · What are the benefits which in this life do accompany or flow from justification, adoption, and sanctification? Ans. Assurance of God's love, peace of conscience, joy in the Holy Ghost, increase of grace,
and perseverance therein to the end.' These are divided into two sorts. (1.) Some that flow from the sense of our justification, &c. (2.) Some from the being of it. Of the for: mer, the Catechism takes notice of three, viz. assurance, peace, joy. All which are held out in the text as benefits coming through justification. Here observe,
1. Justification as a spring of other benefits. It is a leading mercy, it brings many others along with it. In it guilt is removed ; and that being removed, a stream of mercies flows from heaven into the soul.
2. The benefits flowing from it.
(1.) Peace with God, or towards God; i. e, not only reconciliation with God, the cause of the quarrel being taken away; but peace of conscience, peace within, when we look towards God, arising from the sense of our justification and reconciliation. But all this is owing to Christ, who brought us into the state of reconciliation, called this grace wherein we stand.
(2.) Assurance of eternal happiness: Rejoice in hope of the glory of God; i e. in the glory of God we hope for. They are so sure of that happiness, that they rejoice in the view of
it, as if they were actually carried into it. And assurance of God's love, ver. 5.
(3.) Spiritual joy : We rejoice in hope of the glory of God; that is, We glory or joy in the Lord, upon this hope, The text evidently affords this doctrine, viz.
Doct. ' Assurance, spiritual peace, and joy, are benefits flowing from a state of justification.'
1. OF ASSURANCE.
In speaking to the first, namely, assurance, I will shew, 1. The kinds of it. II. That a child of God may have this assurance, III. The nature of it, and how a saint comes to be assured.
IV. The fruits of it, whereby it may be discerned from presumption.
V. The necessity of it.
1. Objective assurance, whereby the special love of God to a saint, and his eternal salvation, are sure in themselves, 2 Tiai. ii. 19. The foundation of God standeth sure, hav, ing this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his.' This is never wanting, whether the child of God know it or not. Though they raze foundations of hope at some times, yet God never razes his,
2. Subjective assurance, whereby a child of God is assured that God loves him with a special love, and that he shall certainly partake of eternal glory, Gal. ii. 20. Who loved me, and gave himself for me, says Paul. This is not a wavering hope, or conjecture, but an infallible certainty. This is the
assurance we treat of. II. I shall shew that a child of God may have this assurance.
1. A believer may know that he has relative grace, that he is justified and therefore shall never come into condemnation, Rom. v. 1, &c. Though he cannot ascend to heaven, and at first read his name in the book of God's decrees; yet by comparing the book of God and the book of his own soul, he may know that he is called and elected, 2 Pet. i, 10. and therefore shall certainly be saved.
2. He may be assured that he has inherent grace, that he
believes as sure as he breathes, 2 Tim. i. 12. that he has love to the Lord unfeigned, and can appeal to Omniscience on the head, John xxi. 15. as Peter did, when he said, • Thou who knowest all things, knowest that I love thee.' And believing that such are loved of God, and shall certainly persevere, for which he has the testimony of the word, he may be assured that he is the happy man.
3. It is the office of the Spirit of God to assure believers of this. He has given us the word for this end: He is given to lead his people into all truth, particularly to discover the grace of God to them, and in them, 1 Cor. ii. 12. to witness with their spirits to their adoption, Rom. viii, 16. to be a seal, which is properly to ensure an evidence, Eph. iv. 30. and an earnest, a part of the price and pledge of the whole, 2 Cor. y. 5.
Lastly, Many of the saints have attained it; as Job, chap. xix. 25. For I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth, Psal. xxii. ult. “Şurely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever,' 2 Tim. iv. 8. Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord the righteous Judge shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.' And others too, besides scripture-saints.
Ill. I shall shew the nature of this assurance, and how a saint comes to be assured. By what is said, ye may perceive that this is a work of the Spirit, in the hearts of the saints, without whose efficacy nó man can attain it. We may take it up in these three things.
1. The Spirit shining on his own word, particularly the promises, in the Bible, the child of God firmly believes them, Heb. yi. 11, 12. The Lord has testified in his word, that such and such persons, for instance, that love him, Prov. viii. 17. are universal in obedience ; are poor in spirit, Matt
. v. 3. are beloved of him, and shall certainly be saved. The Spirit says in effect, by the light he gives the believer into the divine authority of that word, This is my word. And as such the child of God is firmly persuaded of the certainty of it, as if a voice from the throne of God would make these promises and declarations. This is the ground work of assurance.
2. The Spirit shining on his own work of grace in the be, liever's heart, the believer discerns it, i Cor. ii. 12. The Spirit of God clears up to the man the truth of grace in him; lets him see that he, for instance, loves God, &c. and so says in effect, This is my work. Hence he is enabled to conclude assuredly, that the Lord loves him, he shall not be ashamed, and that the kingdom of God is his. This assurance is stronger or weaker according to the degree of light that shines upon the work of grace in the heart to discover it,
3. Lastly, The Spirit of the Lord sometimes gives a joint testimony with the spirits of the saints, to the truth of that conclusion, Rom. viii, 16, that they are the children of God. The testiinony of the believer's own spirit is weak in itself, and Satan can find many ways to invalidate it; therefore the Spirit witnesses to them the truth of the conclusion, whereby they are raised to a full persuasion of it.
IV. I shall shew the fruit of this assurance, whereby it may be discerned from presumption.
1. It inflames the soul with love to the Lord. As one flame begets another, so the assurance of God's love to us will add new vigour to our love to the Lord, 1 John iv. 19. Luke vii. 47. He sits in the warm sunshine, that cannot fail to melt the heart, who sits under evidence of the Lord's love.
2. It is humbling, Gal. ii. 20. None so vile in their own eyes as those who are lifted up in the manifestations of the Lord's love to them, Gen. xviii. 27. 2 Sam. vii. 18. 2 Cor. xii. 4. and 11. compared. Delusion puffs up, but true assurance humbles.
3. It makes one tender in heart and life, and is a most powerful motive to sanctification, 2 Cor. vii. 1. It is followed with great care to please God in all things, and watchful ness against every sin. While the empty traveller walks at random, fearing nothing, because he has nothing to lose, he that has precious things about him looks well to himself, Cant. iii. 5. One may be persuaded, that the confidence which makes not one tender in his duty to God and man, is presumption.
4. Establishment in the good ways of the Lord, 2 Pet. i. 10. Faith is the provisor of all other graces, it brings in oil into the lamp; and the more evidence it has, it can do its office the better. A doubting Christian will be a staggering and weak Christian ; as the soldier who has little hopes of the victory will readily be faint-hearted, while he that is assured is strengthened and established.
5. Lastly, It fills a man with contempt of the world, Gal. vi. 14. If ye gaze on the shining sun, for a while after ye will scarcely discern the beauty of the earth. And one's solacing himself in contemplation of heaven as his, will sink the value of the world with him.
V. I shall shew the necessity of assurance.
1. It is not necessary to the being of a Christian. One may have true faith, and yet want full assurance, Isa. I. 10. One may go to heaven in a mist, not knowing whither he is going. We read of some, Heb. ii. 15, who through fear of death are all their life time subject to bondage. Our salvation depends on our state, not our knowledge of it.
2. It is necessary to the well-being of a Christian, and therefore we are commanded to seek it, 2 Pet. i. 10, Give diligence to make your calling and election sure.' There are none who can live so comfortably for themselves, as the assured Christian, and none are so useful for God as they. It fits a man either to live or die ; while others are unfit to live, because of the weakness of grace in a throng of trials and temptations, and unfit to die for want of evidence of grace.
Hence it follows, that assurance may be lost ; and they that sometimes have this light, may fall into darkness. And it is careless walking that puts it out, especially sinning over the belly of light, whereby the Spirit is grieved, and withdraws his light, Eph. iv. 29, 30. But if it be lost that way, and darkness come on, it will readily be dreadful darkness; the higher they have been lifted up, the lower readily they are laid, Psal. li. 8,
Inf. 1. Unjustified and unsanctified persons can have no true assurance of the Lord's love to them. They may have a false confidence, a delusive hope of heaven ; but no assurance, for that is peculiar to the justified.
Inf. 2. Doubts and fears are no friends to holiness of heart and life. It is little faith that breeds them in the hearts of the people of God, Matth. xiv. 31. And little faith will always make little holiness.
Inf. 3. Lastly, Christians may thank themselves for the uncomfortable lives they lead. What sovereignty may do, we know not: but surely it is sloth and unbelief that the want of assurance is ordinarily owing to. Stir up yourselves then