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now, when the witness speaks, he is delivered from these fears, and made to see the Lord's name to be JEHOVAH-JIREH, that "the Lord shall provide and see;" that the Lord is his shepherd, he shall not want. Thus you have some of these general marks of the witness that the believer hath in himself.

(This subject will be continued in the next No.)

Printed by Alfred Gadsby, 17, Bouverie Street, Fleet Street, London. E.C

100 bb. 192

OF

RALPH ERSKINE,

MINISTER OF THE GOSPEL, DUNFERMLINE, SCOTLAND.

Sermon 15.

THE BELIEVER'S INTERNAL WITNESS; OR

THE CERTAIN EVIDENCE OF TRUE FAITH.
(SERMON II. UPON THIS SUBJECT.)

"He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself."-1 JOHN V. 10.

I WOULD now offer some more particular marks, from the several ways of witnessing spoken of in the doctrinal part, how a soul may know that the Spirit, the water, and the blood have witnessed.

[1.] How may a soul know if the Spirit hath witnessed in a more immediate way, or not? It is true, every one is not capable to make trial here. It supposes that

some strong impression of adoption be made upon the heart, otherwise there is no ground to pretend to an immediate testimony; for the inquiry is, How we may know a strong opinion of our own spirits, and a delusion of Satan, from the testimony of the Spirit? In answer, then, unto the question, I say, in general, that the immediate testimony of the Spirit is self-evident, while a soul is in the actual enjoyment thereof. More particularly, I offer the following marks of the Spirit's immediate testimony.

1. These irradiations of the Spirit do carry with them such a clear demonstration of their coming from the Spirit, as puts it in some measure out of doubt, there are such sparklings of divinity in them; according to the degree of clearness in which the Spirit manifests his presence, such is the degree of the persuasion, weaker or stronger. The Spirit is appointed to this witnessing work as you see, ver. 6 of this chapter; and he is the highest witness; there can be none higher; for it is the Spirit that makes other things have a witnessing power. No grace or experience can witness without him; and he is given for this end, among others, to make the children of God to know the things that are freely given them of God. (1 Cor. ii. 10, 11, 12; 2 Cor. iii. 16, 17, 18; and 1 John ii. 27.) All which shows that the testimony No. 15. March.]

[Vol. 2.

of the Spirit hath a property to discriminate and difference itself from those flashes that come from Satan. The Spirit's inhabitation and indwelling, is appointed to be an evidence of our adoption; and this is made the rule for trial: "Ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit;" (Rom. viii. 9;) "Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost, which is in you?" (1 Cor. vi. 19.) By all which it is evident that the Spirit gives testimony to himself in his operations, so as neither Satan, nor any creature, can be the author thereof. For, though the Spirit be not discernable in his essence, but in his operations; yet, as the Spirit gives effectual conviction of sin, that the soul cannot deny its guiltiness, and that without inquiring whether the Spirit hath done this or not; so the Spirit doth work effectually in assuring and comforting the soul, though the soul doth not, till afterwards, reflect or inquire whether it was the Spirit or not; and so the essence of the Spirit may not be discernable, and yet the testimony may be sure to the soul, while the Spirit not only gives the soul such a sweet persuasion, but also discovers such invincible grounds, and undeniable demonstrations of what he witnesses, that the soul must fall down before it, and say to the Spirit, as the disciples did to Christ, "Lo, now speakest thou plainly, and speakest no proverb." (John xvi. 29.) But this will be more clear by a

2nd Mark of this immediate testimony, or witness of the Spirit, namely, that the Spirit, when he thus witnesses, makes some divine attribute to shine forth eminently in these witnessing acts; for instance, the Spirit causeth the soul to take notice of the divine wisdom that shines in the application of the promise, which is a special work of the Spirit, wherein his presence is as discernable as in any other operation. Now, the soul is made to see what wisdom shines in the time and season when the promise came with light, life, and power to them; wisdom in the suitableness of the promise to their condition; wisdom in the manner of its working; the soul finds how the heart was ravished, how Satan was defeated, how corruption was depressed thereby; and then the man cries out, "O the depth of the riches, both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!" The Spirit gives the soul also to see divine power improved for it in a glorious way, even such power as raised Christ from the dead; the exceeding greatness of his almighty power. (Eph.

i. 18, 19.) The child of God sometimes feels a divine power in the application of the promise, presenting thereof to the heart; but perhaps cannot tell who is the agent, whether Satan or the Spirit; and therefore the apostle in that place speaks by way of question, with three remarkable whats: "That ye may know what is the hope of his calling; what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints; and what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe;" importing that it may be known to be indeed the Spirit's power by its actings; for the Spirit's power is exerted in overcoming the heart, and powerfully persuading it to accept of the promise. The soul sees its own insufficiency to make the application, which now it hath felt, and an aversion thereto; yea, was ready, with Sarah, to laugh at the promise, and to say with those, "If God should make windows in heaven, can such a thing be done?" (2 Kings vii. 2.) And yet now it was not able to withstand the sweet power that did draw it that way. The Spirit's power is thus exerted in overcoming the heart, and overcoming Satan, and discovering his subtileties. Again, the Spirit causeth the soul to observe the divine faithfulness that shines herein: "Mercy shall be built up for ever." (Ps. lxxxix. 2.) And then it follows, "Thy faithfulness shalt thou establish in the very heavens." After the Lord hath promised so and so to the soul, the soul faints and gives over hope; yet the Lord returns to the man, throws the promised mercy into his lap, and so discovers his faithfulness. O, how is the soul then taken up with the Lord's truth and veracity! "Faithful is he that promised, who also will do it." Again, the Spirit convinces the soul of the divine goodness when he thus comes and makes application of the promise: "O how great is thy goodness, which thou hast laid up for them that fear thee !" &c. (Ps. xxxi. 19, 21.) The man is swallowed up with admiration. The Spirit causes the man to see how ready he was to say God had neglected him; yet, nevertheless, now he sees that God hath dealt graciously and marvellously, and nothing can make him deny divine love at the time. It would, therefore, seem needless to ask this question, By what evidence we may know the Spirit's immediate testimony? Because thus it is also self-evident to such as actually enjoy the same; but yet because after the Spirit may suspend his operations, and then the soul may question it; and because some have strong opinions, that they enjoy this immediate

testimony, when yet they are under a delusion; therefore,

3. Another evidence of the Spirit's more immediate testimony is, the eminent acts of faith upon the promise, drawn out thereby. If the soul hath assurance, faith hath a hand in it, (Heb. x. 22,) and lives upon Christ in the promise for it: "O my God, I trust in thee." (Ps. xxv. 2.) When the soul hath a sight of its propriety in God, and interest in Christ, this puts it upon renewed actings of faith. If it can say, "My God," it cannot but say, with holy boldness, "I trust in thee." Delusions rather hinder the actings of faith.

QUEST. When is a word, or promise, received by faith? and so, When does faith discover a testimony to be no delusion?

ANSW. (1.) When the heart is commanded by a persuasion of divine love, by the word, as an act of obedience to the Lord. Not barely when there is a word given in, but when the Spirit over-awes the soul with the majesty that comes along therewith to yield subjection: "The Lord will command his loving-kindness." (Ps. xlii. 8.) "The Lord commands the blessing." (Ps. cxxxiii. 3.) The Spirit commands faith to own the loving-kindness of the Lord. It is not every one that hath a persuasion that Christ is his that doth enjoy the immediate witness of the Spirit; for Balaam said, "My God," (Num. xxii. 18,) and yet had no interest in God. Thus Satan raises false confidences in many profane wretches, and backs them with Scripture; such as that, that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners; that God wills not the death of the sinner; and their own spirits conclude that they are the sinners whom he will save. But unless such Scriptures, or rather the Spirit in them, have commanded their hearts to a persuasion, out of respect to the Lord, they are not to be regarded as the Spirit's testimony.

(2.) Then does faith evidence a testimony of the Spirit to be no delusion, when the sinful objections that swarmed in the soul are suppressed. If the soul hath faith upon Christ in any promise, then it is pained and afflicted with the sense of its former unbelief. (Ps. xlii. 5, 8.) Delusions do stupify men, that they do not seek for a satisfactory deliverance from objections; but the Spirit, like the sun causes such mists of darkness to fly away, and puts abun-, dance in the mouth to answer Satan in all.

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