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not common, or necessary to all; nay, if I prove that the former without them, are a sufficient testimony within us, of the truth of Christ's doctrine. Concerning this controversy, I refer the learned reader to what is already fully written of it, by Rob. Baronius in Apodix. Cont. Turnebull.' against Spalatensis, and by Amyraldus in “Thes. Salmuriens.' in the disputation of Scripture, and the Spirit's testimony. And, withal, I mention not here the Spirit itself the efficient, as dwelling in us, distinct from
, his works, because it is not the rd Maplupar that is here said to be in ourselves ; but the ti uaplupia ; not the testis, but the testimonium; though the English word 'witness' signify either; and though I know that other places of Scripture speak of the Spirit himself within us.
You see then the chief difficulty in the text explained, What, it is to have the testimony or record in ourselves.
Quest. But have all believers this testimony within themselves, or some only?
Answ. All : but not all in one degree; nor all in the same sort, as some have had it. The spirit of sanctification is common to all true believers ; but so is not the spirit of miracles, or extraordinary gifts, though this also was ordinary in the first age of the christian church.
Quest. Is it only believers that have this witness in thema selves :
Answ. Not only true and sound believers, but also hypocrites, unsound and half-believers had the spirit of miracles in the first age, which was a testimony within them ; but only true and sound believers have the spirit of sanctification : and I think it was only such sound believers that had the promise of the Spirit for extraordinary gifts and miracles; and that all other had it, above and beyond promise, as to any promise made to themselves; but yet as the fulfilling of a promise to the church, and to some that might receive the benefit of them. But it is of no great moment, especially to our present business, which way this last is determined.
The reasons why God will have “ All true believers to have the testimony of their christian religion in themselves,” are these, among others, so far, as we may presume to give a reason of God's will, from the thing :
Reas. 1. It was God's will in revealing Christ to the world, VOL. XX.
that his revelation should be a means of the restoration, and perfect felicity of his chosen ones; which it could not be at a distance, nor without being entertained into the inwards of their souls. For it was the soul that was wounded, and it is the soul that must have the cure, to which end, the application of the plaster is necessary. That light which shall illuminate a dark understanding, must be received into that understanding itself. That life which quickeneth, must be in the substance, which is quickened by it. If an external revelation or testimony of Christ, had been a fit means of itself, to recover men's souls, though they never received it, then might the Gospel save all alike, even the haters and despisers of it, as well as its truest friends ; which is an unreasonable conceit; nay, what is it to be healed and recovered from our blindness, by the Gospel, but to be ourselves informed, convinced, and enlightened by it? and what is that, but to have received this testimony in ourselves ? To be happy, is to be made perfect in ourselves, and in that perfection to enjoy God, our end; and our perfection lieth in the image of God upon us, which partly consisteth in knowledge; (Col.iii.10); and in a clear reception, and discerning of his truth. It is not a light, or felicity, which is barely reported to us, that solaceth and satisfieth the soul of man, but a light and felicity, which he partaketh of himself.
Reas. 2. It is the nature of God's real possessed gifts, to manifest both themselves and their proper causes, to the soul that possesseth them ; according to their degrees, and freedom of operation. Though sometimes, through darkness, delusion, and the stirrings of the contrary corruptions within us, we may be brought to overlook them, and doubt of their truth. Light hath a self-discovering property, to them that can see, and life is a testimony of its own existence, to the person that hath it; and so are the particular actions of life : and as grace is the testimony or discoverer of itself, so also of its cause. It beareth God's name in the face or nature of it: it is his own image, and therefore may discover much of him to the soul that beareth this image. The effects of the Spirit and doctrine of Christ, do show what that Spirit and doctrine are. If it make men holy, it is itself more holy.
Reas, 3. It is the order of God's works, that every foregoing part doth tend to the promoting of that which is to follow; as the revelation of Christ is the means of our believing, so our believing is a means of our fuller sanctification, and so far, of
our receiving the Spirit: as in the first age it was a means of their receiving the spirit of miracles and wonders : and that spirit and holiness is again a means of our increased belief; even by testifying objectively to us the verity of the promise, which we find thus fulfilled in ourselves; and therefore God will have us to have the witness in ourselves.
Reas. 4. It is God's purpose, in possessing his people with his Spirit, to make them the living monuments of his truth and goodness, that they may bear upon them his image and superscription; and as he is honoured by the truth and purity which is found in his laws, so will he be by the like excellencies that are found in his saints. They shall also be everlastingly employed in his praises, which must proceed from a heart that is filled with the lively sense of his goodness, and from a clear understanding of that for which they praise him, and therefore they must have the witness in themselves.
Use. If all true believers, having the Spirit of Christ, have the witness of the truth of the Gospel in themselves, we may hence be informed, how great an advantage such true believers have, above all other men in the world, for the resisting and overcoming of temptations to infidelity, and for a clearer discerning, and faster holding of the truth of the christian doctrine. Among others, you may observe the difference in these particulars following.
1. Unbelievers have a testimony indeed without them, but it is but without them, and therefore not so near at hand for their use; but believers have it engraven on their very hearts, and as near to them as the very motions and inclinations of their own souls.
2. Unbelievers, therefore, have but an external light and object, without an inward light, or eye to discern them; for this, which is the witness within, is also the power of discerning the testimony, which is without. But the sound believer hath this visive power, and the light within to fit him to receive that from without. Like will to like. You may easier draw water to water, and by a place where water is before, than to or by the dry ground. You may more easily kindle fire, where fire is before, than where is none. The first degrees dispose to the reception of more. There is something in the eye that hath a nearer likeness and connaturality to the light without us, proceeding from the sun, than the hands or feet, or other parts have, or else the eye would see no more than they. And there is something in a holy, believing soul, which is thus kin to the truth of the Gospel, which is without us, and therefore doth fit the soul to entertain it. 3. The true believer, therefore, hath a double testimony; one
a without, and one within : but the unbeliever hath but the single external testimony alone.
4. The witness within us, is more sensible and affecting. That which lieth as near us as our own hearts, is liker to work more effectually and deeply, than that which is at a greater distance.
5. The witness within us is still at hand, when the temptation comes : such Christians do carry their armour about them. They live still in arms. Whenever the tempter assaulteth them to stagger at God's promises, through unbelief, they have arguments in their own hearts to answer the temptation : so that they are not likely to be found unprovided, as other men are. Men's Bibles
may be out of the way; their teachers may be out of the way; their memories may fail them, if they trusted only to these. The reasons which one day a little moved them, may be forgotten the next day; or they may forget where the chief strength of them lieth; or they may receive them with greater prejudice or disadvantage, as being staggered or perplexed with what is said or suggested to the contrary. But the settled, habituate testimony within us, is not so much liable to changes; though, I know, that through temptations and distempers of soul, this also may sometime be much obscured. But yet hath a great advantage of the other.
6. The witness within us is a permanent witness. It will go with us, which way soever we go ; it will accompany us through all straits and difficulties to the end : but the external testimony may be taken from us. Men may take from us our Bibles, our teachers, and our friends; or they may imprison us, where we cannot enjoy them : but they cannot take from us the Spirit of Christ.
Consider, therefore, I beseech you, Christians, first, how great a mercy it is, that you have received ; secondly, and how you ought to improve this mercy ?
1. And first, it may easily appear to you to be a very great mercy, if you do but consider these things following:
First, consider what it is that this testimony doth witness within you. It is the doctrine of your redemption and deliverance, by the Son of God, and of your future glorification in the fulfilling of his promises. If the happy news of man's recovery by a Mediator, should not have been true, then were we all still in our sin, and our faith and hope were but vain and delusory. “If Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain; yea, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God, that he raised up Christ; whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not: for if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised; and if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain ; ye are yet in your sins: then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ, are perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable: but now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the first-fruits of them that slept.” (1 Cor. 14, 16, 17.) What hope or consolation have we, but what depends upon the truth of the Gospel. If these glad tidings should fail us, all fails us. What else doth give us assurance of a future felicity? And without that, how wretched and despicable a creature is man; and how low and base are all the transactions and passages of his life, if they be not ennobled by their respects unto that end! Even the blindest infidel that denieth the truth of the Gospel, methinks, should easily confess the goodness of its promised happiness; and therefore see
; cause to wish that it were true, unless, as he hath brought himself under its terrors.
You see, then, it is the best news that ever came to the ears of man, that is attested to you by the witness within you : it is that which may cause you to live in hope, and peace, and joy ; and to die in hope, and peace, and joy, while you believingly look to a blessed immortality, and upon your resurrection, as secured in the resurrection of Christ, and his promise of yours. Other men may confess that the truth of this is desirable; but you have the truth of it witnessed in your own hearts : to carry about with you such a witness, is to carry about the matter of continual joy. The same Spirit which is your sanctifier is your comforter, at least, by maintaining in you the grounds and