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that bear witnes on earth. Now, if the Spirit should not be a distinct witness from the water and blood. then there would not be three. The water and blood are not sufficient of themselves to witness : but the Spirit witnessing by water, is but one witness; and the Spirit witnessing by the blood, is but one witness; and therefore, if the Spirit had not a distinct way of wit. nessing from its concurrence with these, there would be but two not three witnesses. The Spirit witnesses with the blood and water; but beside, he hath a distinct way : enlarging the soul with the joy of God's salvation, in a more immediate
way. 4. It is evident from the experience of the saints. Many of them have been brought to assurance in this immediate way: and not merely by reflection upon marks, and signs, and qualifications within, which is the Spirit's witnessing by water, or sanctification. It is true, that light that is darted in into the soul, doth discover grace, insomuch, that when the Spirit doth suspend his operations, the remembrance of the graces, that were then acted, may confirm and evidence to the soul, that it was really the Spirit himself that was witnessing within the man.
2dly, Another witness is the Water : that is, sancti. fication, which was, under the law, typified by washing : and it is called the washing of regeneration, Titus iii. 5. Now, that the Spirit doth witness in the believer by water, or by sanctification, is evident,
1. Because it is expressly here called a witness; and there.could not be three, if this were not one.
2. Because it is reckoned amongst the peculiar favours that believers receive from Christ, that be is made of God unto them sanctification, 1 Cor. i. 30.
3. Because there is a necessary connexion betwixt it and salvation : “ We are chosen to salvation, through sanctification of the Spirit,” says the apostle, 2 Thess. ii. 13. therefore they are said also to have inheritance amongst them that are sanctified by faith, Acts xxvi. 18. Whatever hath salvation coupled with it, being discovered, must needs have a witnessing power with it. And yet sanctification cannot witness our interest
in Christ, without the Spirit irradiating and shining on - us, and upon his own work, because this water is many
times muddy, through the stirring and prevailing of corruption.
3dly, The third witness is the Blood ; that is, the blood of Christ, by which we have redemption, remission, and justification. The blood of Christ, and the righteousness of Christ, are all one; therefore we are said to be justified by the righteousness of God, and also by the blood of Christ, Rom. v. 9. 18. Now, that this blood is a witness, is evident,
1. Because it is here called a witness, and that disticnt from the Spirit and the water.
2. Because this blood and righteousness of Christ is the ground of our boldness and confidence; " Having boldness to enter into the holiest of all by the blood of Jesus,” Heb. x. 19.
3. Because the application of this blood of Christ is by faith, which makes it witnessing blood; for, the blood cannot witness unless it be appropriated and applied : now, it is the office of faith to make that general proposition of Christ's shedding his blood, for the redemption and reconciliation of sinners, to be of a particular advantage to the soul : for, God is the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus. Thus “ He that be. lieveth hath the witness in himself.” Now, the blood seems to be a clearer evidence than that of the water, which many times is so muddy that its testimony cannot well be perceived : for, though a man, that hath no sanctification at all, which is the witness of water, cannot have the witness of the Spirit or the blood : yet sanctification may ly dark, and yet the Spirit and the blood may witness within him; as in a dark day, a man may conclude the sun is up, though he cannot see it; so a man, acting faith on the blood of Christ, may conclude his sanctity, though he cannot see his own sancti. fication: and the not drawing this conclusion, is the occasion of many fears, doubts, and disquietments in the souls of believers.
III. What doth the witness, that the believer hath within him, depone and attest? For, we may speak of the 'se three as one, because they agree in one, as it is ver. 8.
We reply to this in general. This threefold witness that the believer hath within him, doth testify, that Christ is the Son of God, which is the general scope of the preceding part of the chapter ; they testify that he is the true Messiah, the only Saviour, whom God the Father had sealed and authorized to be our Redeemer ; that God hath given us eternal life, and this life is in his son. More particularly,
1. The witness that the believer hath within himself doth testify and depone, that the believer hath an union to, and interest in Christ : that “ He is in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ,” ver. 20.
Perhaps you may say, How shall I know if I be in Christ, cr have an interest in him?
Indeed, you cannot know unless this three-fold witness attest it: without them you cannot know it; but any one of them will discover it. If you have either the Spirit's immediate testimony; or the witness of water, in sanctification; or the witness of blood, in justification, you may thence conclude, as if you heard it by an audible voice from heaven; yea, and much more surely, than by any voice from men or angels, that Christ is yours, and ye are Christ's ! in regard, none of these witnesses can depone any thing but matter of fact: therefore, when the witness speaks, the man cail say, My beloved is mine, and I am his: I am my Beloved's and my Beloved is mine," Song ii. 16. and vi. 3.
2. This witness that the believer hath in himself doth attest and depone, that he is a child of God; for, “The Spirit witnesseth with our spirits that we are the sons of God, Rom. viii. 36. We are the children of God by faith, Gal. iii. 26. And to as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God,” John i. 12. Now, the witness within doth declare this, because it witnesseth that the man is a believer that hath received Christ: for, by the bye, it witnesseth that his faith is no fancy, or delusion, but the work of God; a. faith of God's operation, which once he had not, and
now he hath, which no man could effectuate but the power
and grace of God; and therefore the witness gives the man a persuasion, that as all that receive and believe in Christ, have authority to become the children of God; so, he in particular, thus believing and receiving him, is a child of God.
3. This witness that the believer hath within him, doth attest and depone, that he is freed from condemnation, and reconciled to God; for, “There is no condemnation to them that are in Christ, Rom. viii. 1. He that believeth on him, is not condemned,” John iii. 18. Christ was condemned, that the believer might not be condemned. Nay, instead of condemnation, the deposition of the witness declares, that he is absolved for ever from condemnation, and hath peace with God; for, “ We have peace, through the blood of his cross;" and, “ Being justified by faith, we have peace with God."
4. The witness that the believer hath within, doth depone, that he shall be saved eternally; that he hath eternal life in Christ: see ver. 13. of this chapter; “He that hath the Son, hath life; He that believeth shall be saved.” Salvation and eternal life is attested by the deposition of the witness within ; for, according to the clearness of the testimony, that the witness gives, such is the believer's assurance of eternal life. See 2 Cor.
v. 1. Job xix. 25. It was by virtue of this witness speaking in Paul, that he was able to say, “I have fought the good fight, I have kept the faith; henceforth there is laid up for me a crown which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give unto me,” 2 Tim. iv. 7.
5. The witness that the believer hath within him does testify and depone that nothing can be laid to his charge, Rom. viii. 33. “ Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifies." The witness depones, that justice can lay nothing to his charge, because Christ hath cleared off justice to the full: it depones, that the law can lay nothing to his charge, because Christ hath stopped its mouth with a perfect obedience : it depones, that Satan can lay nothing to his charge, because Christ hath bruised the head of the serpent, and judged the prince of this world : it depones, that conscience can lay nothing justly to his charge ; for, when the conscience is sprinkled with the blood of Christ, which is a concurring witness, here all its accusations fall to the ground. If God be for a man, who can be against him?
6. The witness that the believer hath within him, does sometimes depone and attest, that the union betwixt Christ and him is inseparable and indissolvable ; that neither death nor devils shall part Christ and him ; • 1 am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor an. gels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor'things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord,” Rom. viii. 38, 39. The witness doth attest that his market is made for ever, that he shall be for ever with the Lord ; that his Redeemer liveth, and though after his skin, worms destroy this body, yet in his Hesh shall he see God; that this corruption shall put on incorruption; and that death shall be swallowed up in victory.
In a word, the witnesses do sometimes depone, that all things shall work together for his good; that though the Lord should hide his face, yet he will return with everlasting kindness; yea, that though he fall he shall arise; and though he sit in darkness, the Lord will be a light to him; that his grace shall be sufficient for him; that the lines are fallen to him in pleasant places, and that he hath a goodly heritage; that this God is his God for ever and ever, and will be his guide even unto death; that he will never leave him, nor forsake him, but keep him by his power, through faith unto salvation; that the God of peace will bruise Satan under his feet; that he shall overcome through the blood of the Lamb; that when he shall appear he shall be like him, for he shall see him as he is; that though he walk through the valley of the shadow of death, yet he needs fear no evil, for his rod and his staff shall comfort him; that he shall come to Zion with songs, and with everlasting joy upon his head; that he shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.These, and many such things of the like nature, doth