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1. Because it is here called a witness, and that diftinct 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 Jefus,” Heb. x. 19.
3. Because the application of this blood of Christ is by faith, which makes it witneffing 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 redemp-, tion and reconciliation of finners, to be of a particular advantage to the foul: for, God is the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus. Thus “ He that believeth 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 teftimony cannot well be perceived: for, though a man, that hath no fanctification at all, which is the witness of water, cannot have the witness of the Spirit or the blood; yet fanctification may ly dark, and yet the Spirit and the blood may witness within hiin: as in a dark day, a man may conclude the fun is up, though he cannot see it; fo a man, acting faith on the blood of Christ, may conclude his fanétity, though he cannot see his own fanctification: 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 these 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 hath fealed and authorized to be our Redeemer: that God hath given us 'eternal life, and this life is in his Son. More particularly,
“ I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other crea. ture, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jefus 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 Re. deemer liveth, and tho' after his skin, worms destroy this body, yet in his flesh shall he fee 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 tho' the Lord should hide his face, yet he will return with everlasting kindness; yea, that tho' he fall he shall arise; and tho' he fic 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, thro' faith unto salvation; that the God of
peace will bruise Satan under his feet; that he shall overcome thro' the blood of the Lamb; that when he shall appear he shall be like him, for he shall see him as he is; that tho' he walk thro' the valley of the shadow of death, yet he needs fear no evil, for his rod and his staff thall comfort him; that he shall come to Zion with songs, and with everlasting joy upon his head; that he shall ob. tain joy and gladness, and sorrow and fighing shall flee away.—These, and many such things of the like nature, doth the witness attest and depone, when it speaks : but though the believer hath the witness in himself, yet this witness doth not always speak within him ; but when it speaks, its de position and testimony make one or other of these things as clear as day.light to the believer. A waff of the Spirit's teftimony, either by himself, or by the water and blood, is sufficient to affure him of all this. I come now,
IV. To the fourth thing, namely, The QUALITIES of this witness which the believer hath within himself. What sort of a witness is it?
1. It is a credible witness that the believer hath in himself, that cannot go about to deceive us. rit cannot deceive; for, the Spirit is truth, ver. 6.; he is the God of truth; one God with the Father and Son. The water cannot deceive ; for fanctification is the very image of God, and holiness cannot lye. The blood cannot deceive ; for, it is the precious blood of Christ, as of a Lamb without blemish, and without spot. Besides, that water and blood do not witness without the Spirit, which makes the witness of undoubted credibi. lity; yea, there was never such a credible witness in the world, as the believer hath within him..
2. It is a competent witness. As the witness the believer hath cannot deceive, neither can it be deceived. Other witnesses may be, and have been deceived, either when he witnesses inmediately, or by the water and blood. People may deceive themselves with a vain confidence, and false afsurance, because their blind mind, and erring consciences may be deceived ; but the believer, that hath this witness in himself, may be sure that as his witness cannot be deceived, so he may depend upon the testimony thereof, because it is truth, and no lye is of the truth, : John ii. 21,--27. The fame anointing teaching all things, and is truth, and is no lye, &c.
3. It is a true and faithful witness. This is plain from what is said. If it be a credible witness, that will not deceive; and a competent witnels, that cannot be deceived; then it is a true and faithful witness.--This is a title that is given to Christ; and it may be given to his witnefles also, that witness for him : the three that bear record on earth witness truly for him, as well as the Three that bear record in heaven. The witness that the believer hath in himself is steady, will not say and gainsay; it will not attest the truth, and then re. tract. It is true, the believer himself may draw back ; when the light of the Spirit is gone, he may be ready to throw all the witnesses depositions away, saying,
Alas! I thought I had feen God in such a way, and heard his voice, and felt his love ; but now I fear I was mistaken : But the witness itself will not retract; for, whenever the Spirit shines on his own work again, then he attests the same thing again, and makes the foul that remembered God, and was troubled, now to remember again the years of the right-hand of the moft High.
4. It is a concurring witness that the believer hath in himself. The Spirit witnesseth together with the water and the blood; and “ These three agree in one:” and, you know, "By the mouth of two or three witnesses every word fhall be established.” It is true, the Spirit may witness by water, or by graces and experiences, when he does not witness by his own immediatè testimony ; and, perhaps, may witness by his own immediate testimony, when his witnefs by blood and water is not so clear : but yet, as these three may witness conjun&tly all at once ; fo, though they witness severally, yet, whenever any of them witness, they concur in attesting the same thing: the one never witnesses the contrary of what the other witneffed.
5. It is an evident and clear witness that the believer hath in himself, it is not dark, but clear; therefore called tbe witness, by way of eminency and evidence. It is true, the witnessing of the Spirit admits of degrees ; as the operations of the Spirit are at one time more pow. erful and manifest than at another; fo may the foul's persuafion of its adoption by it be, which is one of the great things that I told you the witness doth depone. At one time he acts so powerfully, as that all fears and doubts are banished; at another time it may not be fo clear, but much overclouded, and yet accompanied with feite degrees of persuasion that Christ is theirs, even though faith be weak. A rich man's window may be wider than a poor man's, and so the fun may make his house the more light, that the things within it may be the better difcerned; but the poor man may really enjoy the beams of the fun, and see what is in his house : fo the poorest, the weakest believer may know the Spirit hath fhined into his heart, as well as others,
that enjoy brighter beams than he hath been acquainted with.
6. It is an internal witness; he hath the witness in himself. You will say, In what court doth this witness depone? Why, it is even in the court of consci. ence; he hath the witness in himself: and he still hath the witness in himself, though the witness be not ftill actually deponing in that court: see 2 Cor. i. 12. The believer may not only fay with Job, “ My witness is in heaven, and my record is on high ;” but also, my witness is on earth, and my record is in my botom. He hath the witness in him felf.
V. The next thing was the REASONS why it is that the believer hath the witness in himself? Why doth true faith carry its witnefs along with it? It doth fo for the following reafons.
1. To distinguish it from false faith, which hath no fuch witness. The Spirit of God will not give witnels to a lye. False and delusory faith is a lye ; and none bear witness to it but the devil, who is the father of lies. Some will say, “ God forbid, but we believe in " the Son of God; we never made a scruple about be“ lieving that.” Well, we may tell such persons, that they are deceiving themfelves : but they will not believe us as long as the devil is confirming them in their lye. But herein true faith is distinguished from false; the man hath the witness in himself.
2. True faith hath the witness to demonstrate it to be true faith, and to put honour on this workmanship of God. God's work must have God's witness; and this is the mark and feal that God puts upon the forehead of all the followers of the Lamb. This mark distinguishes it from false faith, and demonstrates it to be true faith : God appends his feal to his own grace of faith: “ In whom, after ye believed, ye were sealed with the holy Spirit of promise,” Eph. i. 13. 3
True believers have the witness in themselves, because true faith receives the witness; this is the office of faith, Gal.ij.14." That the blefiing of Abrahain might