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pressed in scripture! You may observe which of the suits best with your experience, formerly or presently. His children are said sometimes to meet with him, and he with them;" The Lord God of the Hebrews met with us.” They are said to abide with him, and he with them: our Lord, speaking of his Father and himself, says, “ We will come and make our abode with him : hence their language, even after desertion,“ Nevertheless I am continually with thee.” They are said to stand with him upon mount Zion. They are said to sit with him at his table; and “ When the King sits at his table their spikenard sends forth the smell thereof." They are said to sup with him; “I will come in and sup with him, and he with me.” They are said to walk with him; “ Walk humbly with thy God.” And sometimes they are said to wrestle with him; yea, and to win the day, while they hold him, and will not let him go out of their arms of faith, love, and prayer; and, “ The King is held in the galleries." —Hath he been with you, or is he with you any of these ways, and by his enlightening, quickening, strengthening, sanctifying, or comforting presence? Then, O bless him ! that as Christ was not alone, but had the Father with him ; so you are not alone, but have the Father with you, though friends or brethren have left you alone. Obless him! if, on this occasion, he hath given you an experimental confutation of the amazing extravagancies of these that are presuming to tear our commissions, and warrant for this work; and saying, upon the matter, " Where is your God ?” You have left him, and he hath left you, and you shall be left alone for us; yea, excommunicate and cast out from us : nay, but let them know we are not alone, because the Father is with us. And as an evidence of the Father's Spirit with us, as he was with Christ, let us even cry, “ Father, forgive them for they know not what they do:" Father, recover them from the error of their minds and way, their darkness and delusion : Father, return to them, and turn back their captivity as streams in the south, &c.
Well, if God hath been with you on this occasion, then take it as a token for good, that all your blessings
are blessed ; and that you are blessed in your basket and store : as a token that all your crosses are sanctified, as being the fruits and effects of covenanted love; “ Whom he loveth he chasteneth ;" as a token that all your wants are made up, though all worldly comforts should be removed ; “ He is God all-sufficient;" as a token that all your sins are pardoned ; for, be is present as a sin-pardoning God: “ Be of good cheer, thy sins are forgiven thee:" as a token also that all your prayers are accepted, as well as your persons; for, “ You are accepted in the Beloved :” and as a token that all your fears are groundless : for, he says, “ Fear not, for I am with you.”. All things therefore shall work together for your good, be they never so frightful-like; he will make the wrath of men and devils to praise him, and to profit you, because he is with you. You need fear no evil, though you were passing through the valley of the shadow of death, because he is with you. What ground of fear can you have, when he says, “ Fear not, for I am with thee; I will not leave thee ?” Yea, though you were left of all men, as Christ was, yet what he said, you have right to say, “ Yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me.”
The BELIEVER's INTERNAL WITNESS;
Or, The Certain Evidence of True Faith.*
1 JOHN v. 10. He that believeth on the Son of God, hath the witness in himself.
We have, in the beginning of this chapter, two things observable.
Ist, An exhortation to true obedience, and love of God, from its connection with the mutual love of God's
* This subject was handled in two discourses, at the celebration of the sacrament of the Lord's supper at Stirling, June 25, 1749. The first on the Saturday before, and the second on the Monday after the solemnity.
children. This exhortation is pressed with several arguments, the first is taken from the nature and office of children ; • Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ, is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat, loveth him also that is begotten of him,” ver. 1. He that loveth the father, will love the child. But how may we know, if our love toward the children of God be of the right sort? This is answered, ver. 2.
By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments.” Then is our love to our neighbour true, when it arises from our love to God, and is founded thereupon; for here he makes love to God, the fulfilling of the whole law : and this is the second argument for the love of God, namely, from the facility and possibility thereof; 6. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments; and his commandments are not grievous,” ver. 3. The love of God is very possible to the children of God, seeing his commandments are not grievous, namely to believers; for, to be a believer, and a child of God, are one and the same thing here. Now, to the believer the commands of God are not grievous, because by faith, he fulfills the law in Christ bis Head; and because, by faith, he is regenerate; and, by virtue of his regeneration, hath the love of God and his neighbour begun in him, and a new obedience according to all the precepts of the law. It is true, the commands are grievous to the regenerate, in so far as they are yet flesh; but not so far as they are renewed, or as to the sanctified part: therefore the apostle explains and amplifies this, ver. 4. “ For whatsoever is born of God, overcometh the world : and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith,” Why is it that the commands of God are not grievous to God's children ? Because, though the reigning lusts of these that want faith, make the commands of God grievous to them ; yet the children of God have that faith that conquers and overcomes all worldly lusts. Their faith hath influence on the mortification of the old man, and the vivification of the new man; and so upon the purification of the heart. This is the principal way of faith's overcoming the world, namely, by its subduing and conquering worldly lusts, whereby others are captivated. This victory over the world, he more particularly ascribes to believing, ver. 5. " Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?” Why, do not devils believe this? Yea, but they do not apply it to themselves.; they cannot believe that the Son of God came for them: but true faith is applicatory and appropriating; applying and appropri- . ating even the filiation and sonship of Christ : leading the man to believe that he is God's adopted son, upon the account of Christ who is his natural Son. But now,
2dly, We have the confirmation of Christ's being the Messiah, from verse 6,7,8. Having shewed the excellency of faith, and that it consisted in a believing that Christ was the Son of God; now he comes to confirm this foundation of faith, that Christ is indeed the Son of God; “ This is he that came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ,” &c. The typical administration of old was partly by water and legal washing; partly by blood or bloody sacrifices. Now, Christ came to fulfil both these types. By working regeneration, he performs that which the legal washings represented: and by purchasing redemption and reconeiliation with the price of his blood, he performs that which the blood of the sacrifices of old, adumbrate and point forth. And hereupon the apostle leads us to the testimony of the Spirit, which believers have within them, and so comes more directly to treat of the witnesses of Christ being the Son of God, particularly the witnesses in heaven, and the witnesses on earth.
1. The witnesses in heaven are three, ver. 7. “ For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost; and these three are one.” How eminently did these three witness Christ's, Sonship when he was baptized! The Father from heaven with an audible voice, saying, “ This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." The Son present in our nature which he had assumed.” The Holy Ghost visibly appearing in the shape of a dove, and resting on him. And
And many other ways do these three
mang VOL IX.
witnesses attest Christ's Sonship; as in the word : in the miracles of Christ ; in the ministry of the gospel : but, in whatever way, these three are one; not only one in essence, but one in will and consent; they agree in their testimony.
3. The witnesses on earth are three; the Spirit, the water, and the blood. Where by the Spirit we are to understand the effusion of the Holy Ghost, and his own immediate manifestation. . By the water we are to understand regeneration and sanctification, represented by the old washing and cleansing with water. And by the blood we are to understand redemption and sanctification, through the blood of Christ. These give their testimony to this truth, and witness that Christ is the Son of God: and they are said to do it on earth, even in all believers.
Now, having adduced all these witnesses, he shews them all to be divine witnesses; and the refusal thereof to be extremely dangerous, for thereby we make God a liar. However, the ninth verse refers especially to the seventh, concerning the witnesses in heaven; “ If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater ; for, this is the witness of God, which he hath testified of his Son." But ver. 10. where our text lies, hath a reference especially to the eighth, concerning the witness on earth : “ He that believeth on the Son of God, hath the witness in himself.” The three on earth bear witness in the court of the believer's breast.
In the words of the text you have the believer described, or his faith accounted for, and unfolded, in these four things.
(1.) The act of it: it is called a believing, namely, upon the authority of God testifying and declaring what he should believe. This believing is called a receiving of Christ ; To as many as received him, to them gave he power (or privilege] to become the sons of God, even to them that believe in his name,” John i. 12. It is a receiving Christ, and receiving the testimony concerning him; setting to the seal that God is true.