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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 deposition and testimony make one or other of these things as clear as day-light to the believer. A waff of the Spirit's testimony, either by bimself, or by the water and blood, is sufficient to assure him of all this. I come now,
IV. To the fourth thing, namely, The QUALITIES of this witness which the believer bath with himseif. 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. The Spirit 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 sanctification 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 credibility; 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 immediately, or by the water and blood. People may deceive themselves with a vain confidence, and false assurance, because their blind mind, and erring consciences may be deceived; but the believer, that hath this. wtness 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, 1 John ii. 21.-27. The same anointing teaching all things, and is truth, and is no lye, &c. And so,
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 witness, 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 witnesses 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 retract. 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 seen God in such a way, and heard his voice, and felt his love; but now I fear 1 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 soul that remembered God, and was troubled, now to remember again the years of the right-hand of the most High.
4. It is a concurring witness that the believer hatb 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 shall be established." It is true, the Spirit may witness by water, or by graces and experiences, when he does not witness by his own immediate testimony; and, perhaps, may witness by his own immediate testimony, when his witness by blood and water is not so clear: but yet, as these three may witness conjunctly all at once ; so, 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 witnessed.
5. It is an evident and clear witness that the believer hath in himself, it is not dark, but clear; therefore called the 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 powerful and manifest than at another; so may the soul's persuasion 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 so clear, but much overclouded, and yet accom
panied with some 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 sun may make his house the more light, that the things within it may be the better discerned: but the poor man may really enjoy the beams of the sun, 'and see what is in his house : so the poorest, the weakest believer may know the Spirit bath shined 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 conscience; he hath the witness in himself; and he still hath the witness in himself, though the witness be not still actually deponing in that court: see 2 Cor. i. 12. The believer may not only say with Job, “ My witness is in heaven, and my record is on high;" but also, my
wit. ness is on earth, and my record is in my bosom. He hath the witness in himself.
V. The next thing was the REASONS why it is that the believer hath the witness in himself? Why doth true faith carry its witness along with it? It doth so for the following reasons,
1. To distinguish it from false faith, which hath no such witness. The Spirit of God will not give witness 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 themselves: 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 seal 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
trưe faith : God appends his seal to his own grace of faith : “In whom, after ye believed, ye were sealed with the holy Spirit of promise,” Epb. i. 13.
3. True believers have the witness in themselves, because true faith receives the witness; this is the of fice of faith, Gal. jii 14. “That the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.” And, verse 2. “ Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?" Faith takes hold of the Spirit; it takes hold of the water; it takes bold of the blood; it takes in the witness; and so the believer hath the witness in himself.
4. Believers have the witness in themselves, because God hath promised this witness to attend believing. See a sweet promise of it, John iv. 37, 38.“ He that believeth on me. as the scripture hath said, out of his. belly shall flow rivers of living water," &c. See this water further spoken of, John iv. 14. “ The water that I shall give him, shall be in him a well of water springing up to everlasting life;" that is, even the Spirit witnessing by water, or sanctification.
5. He that believeth hath the witness in himself, because outward witnesses cannot clear him with any comfortable evidence; and the Lord wills that believers should have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before them: but now, no means, no ordinances, no instruments, can clear, or comfortably attest his interest in Christ, his sonship, or reconciliation, unless the Spirit of Christ witness within him. The white of a wall, can as soon make day, as ministers, or outward means, can give comfort or clearness to a believer, unless the Spirit of the Lord coneur with the mean, and witness in the man's bosoin, either by himself, or by water, or by blood.
6. He that believeth hath the witness in himself, be. cause true faith hath many false witnesses to rise up against it. The devil is a false witness, that many times suggests to the poor believer, saying, Thou hast po part nor lot in Christ; thou hast no inheritance in the
Son of Jesse : and, indeed, his faith would faint and fail, if he had not a witness in himself to declare the contrary.- The wicked world are sometimes false witnesses, that accuse the believer of being a vain pretender ; that he is nothing but a hypocrite; but having a witness in himself, it makes him easy. His carnal reason is another false witness : “ Why, says carnal reason, do you
believe that God will have mercy on the like of “ you? Do you think that all the sweet promises of “ the covenant will be made out to you?
? Do “ think that such a privilege as an interest in God and Christ belongs to you ?" Many such false witnesses rise up against faith ; and therefore the believer needs to have this true witness within, that faith may be able to hold up its head. “He that believeth hath the wit. ness in himself.” I come now,
VI. To the sixth and last thing of the general method, viz. The application; which we shalì essay use of information, trial, and exhortation.
The first use may be of information. Is it so, That • He that believeth hath the witness in himself ?” Hence see,
1. That though faith alone.justifies, yet justifying faith is not alone: it hath its witness with it, even the witness of the Spirit, the water, and the blood : namely, manifest sanctification, as well as justification. This removes the reproach that Papists and ignorant Pro. testants cast upon the doctrine of faith, and justification, thereby alone, as if thus we were enemies to holiness and sanctification : but, though faith alone justify, yet justifying faith is not alone : it hath the witness with it, and particularly the witness of the water; that is, the sanctifying graces, fruits, and operations of the Spirit.
2. Hence see how false pretenders to faith may be unmasked and discovered: if none but he that truly believes on the Son of God, hath the witness in him. self, then the faith that hath no such witness is but a false faith. Never conclude that you have true faith, unless you find, or at least have found the witness within you giving testimony thereto. If you know nothing VOL. IX.