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Hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before
him. 1 John iii. 19. The evidence of our assurance of eternal happiness, is that which every
soul that makes any serious reflections in matters of religion, pants after: it is therefore necessary to know upon what foundation this blessed evidence is built, and from what principles it arises; and those, I think, are chiefly faith, love, and obedience; since no man can have this assurance who does not feel in himself the principle of obedience ; nor can he have obedience without the principle of love, nor love with out the principle of faith; for it is a notorious contradiction to imagine that any one can be assured of God Almighty's pardon, without obeying him; of his favour, without loving him ; or of the eternal enjoyment of him, without a firm and steadfast belief in him. But here many mistake the nature of these things: true belief in God represents him to the mind as infinite in glory, and power, and wisdom, and goodness, and in all perfections; with such charms, such beauty, such loveliness, as to captivate and ravish the affections of the soul, and smite it with a divine love; true love reigns triumphant in the soul, engrosses all its affections, strips other objects of their charms; nay, makes them appear vile and contemptible, in comparison with the supreme good : true obedience strives to please God, to resemble him, to render itself acceptable to him, and ardently desires the enjoyment of him. Faith only gives me peace with God; It surely shows itself by love, But if my faith be true,
And kind obedience too.
He that shalt endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. Matt. xxiv. 13.
Behold, I come quickly: hold that which thou hast, that no man take thy crown. Rev iii. 11.
Wherefore, let him that thinketh he standeth, take heed lest he fall. 1 Cor. x. 12. He that stands in faith, and by nature is of a cheerful temper, must
not magnify the measure of his own faith, nor undervalue that of weaker souls, for such conduct would declare that he is even now fallen into pride. and a contempt of his brother; therefore, however fast we may seem to stand, let us be wary and watchful. We are never so near a fåll as when we grow self-confident. He who knows the nature and power of temptations, will not discourage the weak, nor insist too much upon particular enjoyments and sensible assurances, which are not the constant witness and marks of faith. The Holy Spirit himself is the earnest and seal of adoption ; who is to be known, not only by this joy, but by all his other fruits and operations. To trust too much upon feeling, disturbs our peace as soon as it is gone: but to rely on the word of God, preserves a settled assurance. Jesu, shall I never be
Settled peace I then shall find, Firmly grounded upon thee?
When I am renew'd in mind. Strong in faith I seem this hour; Stript the next of all my pow'r.
Grant that ev'ry moment, I
May believe and feel thee nigh; Plant, and root, aud fix in me,
Steadfastly behold thy face, All the mind that was in thee;
'Stablish'd with abiding grace!
If any man have not the Spirit of Christ (but the spirit of this world) he is
none of his. Rom. viii. 9. See also ver. 7, 8, 14. For not only gross wickedness, but even a carnal mind, and “ the
friendship of this world, is enmity against God.” James iv. 4.; Phil. iii. 18, 19. But how do I know that I have the Spirit of Christ? Answer. I have prayed for him earnestly; this cannot be in vain. Luke xi. 13. He works also hatred and sorrow of sin; rebukes, comforts, and drives me to Christ and to prayer. This is his abiding witness, built upon the word of God, which no man of this world can have, but even the weakest believer enjoys.
Holy, true, and righteous Lord,
I seek to know and do thy will; Be mindful of thy gracious word,
And stamp me with thy Spirit's seal. My conscience purge from ev'ry blot,
My idols all be cast aside;
Rebuke each vain and sinful thought,
And crucify both self and pride.
Spirit of health, and love, and pow'r :
That inbred sin may reign no more !
Whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundantly.
Matt. xiii. 12. For the water that I shall give him, shall be in him a well
of water, springing up into everlasting life. John iv. 14. Of the remarkable increase of the kingdom of God, even from the
least beginning, see also Matt. xii. 31-33; and that beautiful figure, Ezek. xlvii. 1-12. This well being opened, it highly concerns us to draw living water out of it daily by fervent prayer, and then it will-spring up freely. But, reader, if you begin to be slothful, and distracted with worldly cares, not abiding closely with Christ, nòr calling diligently on him, your spirit will soon be dried up, and you will scarcely be able, with anxious groans, to draw a single drop from this well. Therefore, take heed to your spirit, and if you
your own comfort and God's glory, keep near the well's mouth, and be drawing its water continually by prayer, and drinking it sweetly by faith. Glory to God that walks the sky, But ah! how soon my joys decay !
And sends his blessings through; How soon my sins arise, That tells his saints of joys on high,
And snatch the heav'nly scene uway And gives a taste below.
From these lamenting eyes ! Cheerful I feast on heav'nly fruit, When shall the time, dear Jesus, when And drink the pleasures down,
The shining day appear,
And guilt, and darkness here?
Cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness, there shall be weeping and
gnashing of teeth. Matt. xxv. 30. Look at this man to whom his Lord had given one talent: he could not
bear the thought of using his talent according to the will of him from whom he had it, and, therefore, he chose to make himself happier in a way of his own. “ Lord,” said he,“ I know thee, that thou art a hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strewed," &c, But his lord having convicted him out of his own mouth, dispatched him with this sentence,“ Cast the unprofitable servant into outer darkness," &c, Here you see liow happy this man made himself, by not acting wholly according to his lord's will. It was, according to his own account, a happiness of murmuring and discontent; “ I knew thee,” says he,“ that thou wast a hard man :" it was a happiness of fears and apprehensions ; “ I was," says he,“ afraid :" it was a happiness of vain labours and fruitless travels; “ 1 went," said he,“ and hid thy talent:" and after having been awhile the sport of foolish passions, tormenting fears, and fruitless labours, he is re: warded with darkness, eternal weeping, and gnashing of teeth. Look at the man with his five talents :-“Lord, thou gavest me five talents; behold, I have gained besides them, five talents more,” &c. Here you see a man wholly intent on improving his talents; he hath no uneasy passions, murmurings, vain fears, and fruitless labours, like the other, but his work prospers in his hand; his happiness increases upon him, the blessing of five becomes the blessing of ten talents; and he is received with a “Well done, good and faithful servant, enter thou into the joy of thy lord.” With careful hand may I employ
my profit, but my faith, The talents God has giv’n;
Must bring my soul to Heav'n.