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when many others, that hear the same word, believe not; this makes the difference. But then,
4. Another evidence of the Spirit's immediate 'tes. timony, is, that the soul is enabled, at such a time, to discern many of its former experiences. The Lord had manifested himself to Jacob at Bethel, Genesis xxxviii.
0.-15.; and for a long time we read of little intercourse betwixt God and him, at least no such signal manifestations of his glory to him as he had met with at Bethel : he had been serving Laban for twenty years ; during all which time there is no word of Bethel; but when the Lord returned to him, calling him to return to the land of his kindred, when he came back to give him a new testimony of his love, be remembered him of his former loving-kindness, saying, “I am the God of Bethel, where thou anointedst the pillar, and vowedst the vow unto me," Gen. xiii. 13. The believer may have very rich experiences of what the Lord hath done for him in former times; but yet the sense thereof may be much obliterate, and worn out, that he may be left to desperate conclusions, as Psalm lxxvii. 7,8,9. 6 Will the Lord cast off for ever? and will he be favourable no more? Is his mercy clean gone for ever? doth his promise fail for evermore? Hath God forgotten to be gracious ? Hath he in anger shut up his tender mercies?" . But when the Spirit's testimony is again renewed, then he chides himself, saying, ver. 10,--13. “ This is mine infirmity : I will remember the years of the right hand of the Most High: I will remember the work of the Lord : surely I will remember his wonders of old : I will meditate of all thy works, and talk of all thy doings.—Thy way, O God, is in the sanctuary.” The Spirit's breathing, and testifyng in the believer, makes his old experience new to him again ; and gives him a new feast upon an old meal, and surprises him with his love, grace, faithfulness, and constancy therein : he sees that " He is God, and changes not ; and therefore the childern of Jacob are not consumed,” Mal. iii. 6.
5. The witnessing of the Spirit carries a glorious transformation into the image of the word. Many have had flashes of joy in the reception of the word, Luke viii. 13. yea, have been raised to great hope and triuinphing joy, Job viii. 13. “ The hypocrite's hope shall perish.Chap. xx. 5. The triumphing of the wicked is short, and the joy of the hypocrite for a moment.Chap. xxvii. &. What is the hope of the hypocrite, though he hath gained, when God taketh away his soul?" But here, I say, these witnessings of the Spirit cause glorious transformations into the image of the word. Delusions do not imprint the word upon the heart, so as to change it; but these witnessings of the Spirit transform the soul into the image of the word, according to the promise of writing the word into the beart, Jer. xxxi. 33. Heb. viii. 10. Some dispositions, principles, and inclinations are wrought within, that have a lively resemblance in them unto the word, 2 Cor. iii. 18. The working of the Spirit in hypocrites is like the smell of an apothecary's shop, which one that passes by, receives, though he never carry any of these odoriferous things along with him ; but the witnessing of the Spirit, in the true believer, is by imparting the thing to the soul which is witnessed thereto, and making the man really to possess it ; so that if a man could see the soul of a true child of God, he would see engraven upon it, mercy, peace, love, righteousness, life, joy ; yea, and Christ himself.
6. The witnessing of the Spirit hath powerful operations in the heart towards the attainment of spiritual gospel ends there. The hearing of heaven and happiness is taking, even with carnal hearts. Many, with the young man in the gospel, may be inquisitive about eternal life, have desires after it, and be sorrowful at the thoughts of missing it; and these imply some taste of the heavenly gift, and the good word of God, Heb. v. 5, 6. A man may be elevated with raptures of joy upon a supposed interest in heaven : like Haman, he may think, Whom will the Lord honour but myself ? But yet, with the young man in the gospel, he may mind earthly things more than Christ, or eternal life. Like a physician, who hath prepared a comfortable potion for the health of a friend; he may give to others a taste of it, to let them know how sweet it is : but not such a taste as to have any operation in the stomach; so the Lord may let some carnal men discern some goodness in Christ, and eternal life; but these tastes do not make them partakers of the refreshing power thereof; they may have great reformation and profession ; but no such operation as to cause their hearts to mount up Christ-ward, and place their satisfaction in him alone. But the witnessing of the Spirit makes the soul to cry out, Song v. 10. “My Beloved is white and ruddy, the chiefest among ten thousand." The soul, at such a tine, cannot but reckon Christ the top of its glory; and carnal delights will have no relish with the man.
O! shall I be drunk with the sweet cups of worldly delights! Is not the wine of Christ's cellar better? O! "Whither shall I go? thou hast the words of eternal life."
[2.] How may a soul know if he hath the witness of blood : or, if the Spirit witness in him by blood ? For this is the other witness the believer hath in himself, namely, the blood of Christ applied for his justification. How may this be known ?
1. The Spirit's witnessing by blood may be known by the application of the blood of Christ, in the promise, by faith. We are not to think there is any application of material blood; but the gospel discovers that the blood of Christ, which was shed, was intended for the justification and redemption of sinners. Now, the application of this blood is by faith, Rom. iii. 25. And therefore, it must be by a prornise ; for, faith must have a divine word to build upon ; so that if the promise be yours, then the blood of Christ is yours in the several uses thereof; and that ought to satisfy the believer; for there is an inseparable connexion betwixt the blood, and the covenant of promise; therefore it is called the blood of the covenant. Now, “ With the heart man believeth unto righteousness ;" that is, faith carrieth a' man out of himself to find a righteousness in another, which availeth to justification : and that faith is cordial; Christ owns not that faith where the heart is wanting, John ii. 23, 24, 25. Acts viii. 13. 21.
2. The witness of the blood may be known by the man's preferring that blood before all other things; or that righteousness before all other things else: “ Yea, doubtless I count all things but loss, for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord : that I may be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that, which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith,” Phil. iii. 8, 9. Is thy thirst un. quenchable for this blood ? Can nothing give thy heart and conscience contentmeut but this blood ? The excellent uses and ends of this blood should raise our estimation of it: it is useful for justification and salvation, Rom, v. 9. 18. and for obtaining communion with God; it is useful for reconciliation, Col. i. 20. Rom. v. 1. God will become a friend, open his bosom, reveal his secrets, express his love to these that obtain interest in this blood; it is useful for obtaining liberty for near approaches to God, Eph. ii. 13. “ We are made nigh by the blood of Christ," Heb. x. 10. Sweet intercourse is obtained this way.
3. The witness of blood may be known by the renunciation of whatsoever stands in competition with the blood of Christ, in these uses and ends which it serves for. The believer hath no confidence in the flesh, or his own righteousness. A believer may, through want of sufficient illumination, or through violent temptation, rest on some particular duty ; but his in ward bent is against it. Many acknowledge that they could never have yielded perfect obedience to the law, and that they would bave been under the curse, if Christ had not taken away the rigorous exaction of the law; and now they build their confidence upon Christ, in conjunction with their own acting, their praying, hearing, reading, offering no wrong to their neighbour, loving and serving God, and the like; but if you look for justification by any one work, and Christ together, you will have no advantage by Christ, Galatians v. 2, 3; 4. and are debtors to the whole law. Neither faith nor works can be the least particle of that righteousness which God hath promised salvation to; because the two ways of faith and works are incompatible one with another, and so admit of no mixture, Gal. iii. 12. - The law is not of faith ;" that is, let no man think to mix them together : for the law presents to God a man's own righteousness, “ He that doth them, shall live in them ;" but faith receives Christ's righteousness, and presents this to God; in the way of works, a man is to fulfil this righteousness himself; in the way of faith, it is fulfilled to him by his Surety, Jesus Christ; and he is made partaker of it by receiving it, Rom v. 17, 18, 19. 21. Heb. ix. 15. Gal. iii. 12, 13. If salvation were of works, then the reward should be of debt, but not of grace; either of which are contrary to Rom. iv. 4. Salvation is a debt to Christ; but only free grace, and the satisfaction of Christ, can make it a debt to us.
4. The witness of blood may be known by the efficaciousness of that blood. What power and efficacy have you found it having upon your heart? Have you found it sprinkling from an evil conscience ? Heb. ix. 19. 22. xii
. 24. Have you found your heart secured against the roarings of the law, and temptations of Satan, by opposing the blood of Christ thereto, and found a spiritual peace and tranquillity established by this blood ? In a word, have you accepted of the blood of Christ, for the uses and ends it serves for, as recorded in the word, and made freely to choose it for these ends ? Many are like him that has a gangrene, there is no way to save his life but by sawing off some member of his body; if the man submit to this, it is with abundance of unwillingness, not freely : so many may see an absolute necessity of the blood of Christ; they may choose it with reluctance: but the believer is made to choose it freely; and the heart is set upon it, and made to see that there cannot be a better or a sweeter way of salvation than by Christ and his blood. A man may come to God as a Creator, and cry for mercy, and yet never have it; he may plead a promise, and that with importunity, and the most natural sincerity, and yet miss salvation, if he take it not as in Christ; for God hath made no promise but in Christ, Eph. iii. 6. 2 Cor. i. 20. Not one covenant mercy but must pass through his hand to the soul. So