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VI. Deduce an inference or twu.
I. I am to shew the kinds of assurance. They are two.
1. Objective assurance, whereby the special love of God to a faint, and his eternal salvation, are sure in themselves, 2 Tim. ji. 19. The foundation of God flandeth fure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. This is never wanting, whether the child of God know it or not. Though they rafe foundations of hope at fome tiines, yet God never rases his.
2. Subjective aflurance, 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. Wijo 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.
ll. I shall hew that a child of God may have this aflurance.
1. A believer may know that he has relative grace, that he is juftifed, and therefore thall never come into condenination, Rom. v, 1. dc. Though he can. not afcend to heaven, and at first band 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 thall certainly be saved.
2. He may be affured that he has inherent grace, that he believes as sure as he breathes, 2 Tim. i. 12.; that lie has love to the Lord unfeigoed, and can appeal to Omniscience on the head, John xxi. 15. as Peter did, when he faid, Thou who knowejt all things, knowest that I love thee. And believing that such are loved of God, and shall certainly perfevere, for which le bas the testimony of the word, he may be assured that he is the happy man.
5. It is the oflice of the Spirit of God to affure believers of this. He has given us the word for this end: He is given to lead his people into all truch, para ticularly to discover the grace of God to them, and in them, i Cor. ii. 12. to witness with their fpirits 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. v. 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. xxiii. ult. Surely goodness and mercy Mall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for evere 2 Tim, iv, 8. Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord the righ. teous judge shall give me at that day : and not to me only, iut unto all them also that love his appearing. And óthers too tclides fcripture-faints.
III. I shall shew the nature of this assurance, and how a faiat comes to be assured. By what is faid ye Inay perceive that this is a work of the Spirit, in the hearts of the faints, without whose efficacy no 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. vi. 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 fpirit, Matth. v. 3. are beloved of him, and fhall certainly be saved. The Spirit says in effect, by the light he gives the belieyer 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 yoice froni 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 believer's heart, the believer difcerns it, i Cor. ii. 12. The Spirit of God clears up to the man the truth
of grace in him ; lets him fee that he, for instance, loves God, &c. and fo fieys in effect, This is my work, Hence he is enabled to conclude assuredly, that the Lord loves him, he fhall not be ashamed, and that the kingdom of God is his. This assurance is stronger or weaker according to the degree of light that thines upon the work of grace in the heart to discover it.
3. Lastly, The Spirit of the Lord sometimes gives à joint teftimony with the spirits of the saints, to the truth of that conclusion, Rom. viii. 16. that they are the children of God. The testimony of the believer's own spiric 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, where: by it may be discerned from presumption.
1. It inflames the foul with love to the Lord. As one ilame 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 fits in the warm sunshine, that cannot fail to melt the heart, who fits 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. & 11. compared. Delu. fion puffs up, but true aflurance humblés
. 3. It makes one tender in heart and life, and is a most powerful motive to sanctification, 2 Cor. vii. l. It is followed with great care to please God in all things, and watchfulness against every sin. While the empty traveller walks at random, tearing 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 map is prefumption.
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, Gál. vi. 14. If ye gaze on the shining fun, for a while after ye will scarcely discern the beauty of the earth. And one's folacing himself in contempla. tion 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 aflurance, III. 10. One may go to heaven in a inift, not knowing whither he is going. We read of fome, Heb. ii. 15. who through fear of death are all their life.time fub. ject ta bondage. Our falvation depends on our state, not our knowledge of it.
2. It is necessary to the well-being of a Christian, and therefore we are cominanded to seek it, 2 Pet i. 10. Give diligence to make your calling and election furc, There are none who can live so comfortably for them. selves, 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 allurançe 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, 39. 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 heayen; but no assurance, for that is peculiar to the justified.
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.
3. Lastly, Christians may thank theinselves 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 to seek it. Be frequent in felf.examination, cry to the Lord for the witness of his Spirit. Believe the word, and be habitually tender in your walk, if ever ye would have assurance, Psal. v. ult.
II. Of Peace of Conscience. PEACE of Conscience is a benefit flowing from jufii
1. I am to shew what peace of conscience is. It is a blessed inward calmness and consolation arising from the purging of the conscience from guilt before the Lord. In which defcription observe these two things.
1. The subject of this peace. It is a purged conicience, Heb. ix. 14. Peace and purity go together, and make a good conscience, 1 Tim, i. s. That peace