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very much in his own strength) to turn from sin to godliness. When he does this, provided it be really godliness and not half godliness that he aspires after, he will find much difficulty, and will be sensible of a strange unwillingness in his own mind to pursue the path which his judgment tells him it is his own interest as much as
his duty to pursue. He will then discover something of the meaning of those texts of Scripture which speak of "another law in the members warring against the law of the mind," and of evil being present with him who would do good. He will more than suspect that the strong declarations of man's natural corruption, with which the Bible abounds, are indeed most true in their full extent, and that if he would repent and turn to God, he must humbly ask for strength from above. Thus he will learn to pray; and if he have grace to pray, he will assuredly receive an answer to his prayers. God will send his Holy Spirit to renew him in the spirit of his mind. Most likely he will not understand God's dealings with him at the time; nor will there ever be any rule given him by which he is to distinguish the work of the Spirit from the operations of his own mind. But, upon reflection, he will be conscious that a great change hath taken place in his views, disposition, and affections: He will be conscious that he does not
now see in worldly things that importance which he used to see in them, that he does not feel that anxiety about them which he used to feel. He will be sensible that Christ and his gospel, of which he once heard with much indifference, are now his delight and his confidence; that anchor of his soul, sure and stedfast, which he must not, will not, part with for all that the world can offer him. He will be sensible that he now sets a value upon God's ordinances, and feels a pleasure in them very different from that slavish formality with which he was wont to attend upon them. He will be sensible that he fears, hates, and loathes sin, and thirsts and hungers after righteousness, as he did not formerly. His conscience will testify that he does not allow himself in the commission of any known sin, and that where he does slip, through surprise, though it be but a little, he is more grieved and angry with himself than he would have been in time past, on account of a much greater sin. So he sees that there is a change, and he well remembers that in order that this change might be progressively for the better, he has been obliged all along to wait upon God for strength; and that he has grown in godliness just in proportion to the fixedness of his reliance. When he has intermitted in his determination to seek the Lord, he has faltered and often fallen.
But with the spirit of supplication his vigour hath returned. Does the disputer of this world think that he can persuade this man that holy Scripture is a forgery? that he can make him believe that Christ hath not died, that he hath not risen again, that He is not even now at God's right hand, that He doth not make intercession for us? that He hath not led captivity captive, hath not received gifts for men; yea, for the rebellious also, that the Lord God may dwell among them? them? If he does think so, he is much mistaken. This man hath his answer ready. "With meekness and fear" he can reply to any one who asketh him a reason of the hope that is in him. Why does he believe the Scriptures? Can he answer all the cavils and objections which infidels have brought against them? Very probably he cannot. But he hath good cause to be assured that they are but cavils; for he hath a witness in himself which tells him so. Did he behold the miracles? No; neither would it greatly add to his confidence if he could behold them. For he hath more to say. He hath experienced and felt the miracle ;-the great miracle of religion wrought by grace-the resurrection from the death of sin to the life of righteousness. God promiseth his holy Spirit to them that ask him; he hath asked, and he hath received. knows, for he hath tasted, that the Lord is good.
He hath been led, by a way which once he knew not, into peace and godliness, but now he can look back and see how every step of that way is exactly laid down in Scripture; therefore he believes the Scripture. He rejoiceth in the hope of the glory of God, and his joy no man taketh from him.
And now, I say, if a man be possessed of this inward witness to the truth of Christianity, he is a blessed and happy man.
In the first place, as I have shown already, he hath an immovable ground of confidence. He is not liable to be shaken by cavils and objections. You cannot reason a man out of his belief, who believes the gospel method of salvation to be the true method; for this most satisfactory of all reasons, because he hath found salvation in it.
Secondly: From the nature of the case it is plain, that this inward witness will bear testimony, to a man's great comfort, to much more than I have already stated. When Jesus inquired of the two blind men who had entreated him to open their eyes, "Believe ye that I am able to do this?" and then, touching their eyes, added, according to your faith be it unto you;" the miracle wrought in their behalf must have assured them not only of our Lord's power and * Matt. ix. 28, 29.
good will, but also of the reality of their own faith. For had they not believed, they would not have been made to see. In like manner, and for the same reason, if any man be converted by the gospel, he hath a witness in himself, not only that the gospel is true, but that he is himself a true believer in that true gospel. Of this he will at least have a joyful hope; and the holy Spirit of God, bearing witness with his spirit, will turn that hope into a comfortable assurance, certifying him that he is a child of God, and if so, a joint heir with Christ.
Again: He that is sure that the gospel is true, because he hath been converted by it from sin to godliness, hath this further happiness, that he may be instrumental to the eternal happiness of many among his brethren. Where men have considerate minds and common candour, the evident conversion of a profligate sinner to a sober, righteous, and godly life, by the preaching of a crucified Saviour, will at least cause them to inquire what mighty doctrine is this by which so mighty a change is wrought. "Indeed it is very frequently in this way that the fame of Jesus and the honour of the gospel do spread abroad in this evil world; and if every one who professes the genuine doctrines of religion were but thus evidently dispossessed of sinful passions,