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oaths; do not therefore for fear or favour of men perjure yourselves, i. e. damn your own souls. The office of a church warden, to which he is sworn, is not so difficult as some men make it; an honest man may easily discharge it; for it is only to be honest, and present matters according to the best of his skill and knowledge.









T. PETER hath long ago observed, that in the

Epistles of his brother apostle St. Paul, there are some dvovónta, things hard to be understood; which the ignorant and unlearned did in his time (as indeed there are some such that still do so in our time) wrest to their own destruction, 2 Pet. iii. 16. And he seems in that place, if it be heedfully considered, to have a special respect to St. Paul's Epistle to the Romans, which indeed hath more of those dvovónta, or difficult passages, than any other of his Epistles. Such is his discourse of justification by faith without works, which runs throughout the Epistle, which was abused even in the apostolic age to a dangerous kind of solifidianism by the Gnostic heretics; against whose perverse interpretation St. James afterwards wrote his Epistle as an antidote.

And indeed St. Paul himself expounds himself in another Epistle very plainly to the same purpose, viz. Gal. v. 6. In Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but faith which worketh by love. From whence it is evident, that by the faith to which he attributes justification, he means not an idle faith, but a working faith, attended with works of love both toward God and our neighbour; and consequently, that the works he excludes from justification are not evangelical works, or such as are done in and proceed from faith in Christ; but only, first, works of perfect obedience, or sinless works, there being none such to be found among the sons of fallen man: or, secondly, works done in the strength of the Mosaic law, without the grace of the Gospel: or, thirdly, the works of the ceremonial law, such as circumcision, sacrifice, and the like: or, fourthly and lastly, all manner of works whatsoever, as far as they are relied on as meritorious causes of our justification or salvation: there being but one only cause of that kind, viz., the meritorious obedience and sufferings of our dear Redeemer and Saviour Jesus Christ.

Of this sort also are the discourses of St. Paul concerning the conflict between the law of the mind, and the law of sin in the members, in the same men, chap. vii. and concerning the irrespective love and hatred of Jacob and Esau, and of the obduration or hardening of Pharaoh, chap. ix. and of the bondage and redemption of the whole creation, chap. viii. 19 -22. And such also is that passage, upon which I shall found my present discourse concerning the witness of the Spirit in the faithful, chap. viij. 16. The Spirit beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God.

almost in every man's mouth, but rightly understood by very few, yea by too many dangerously mistaken and abused.

In handling whereof I shall endeavour, with all

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the plainness and clearness I can, to pursue and resolve these two inquiries :

First, How and in what manner the Spirit of God in the faithful doth bear witness with their spirits, that they are the children of God.

Secondly, What degree of hope or persuasion concerning their adoption this witness of the Spirit doth ordinarily produce in the faithful.

I. First then I am to inquire, How and in what manner the Spirit of God in the faithful doth bear witness with their spirits, that they are the children of God.

I answer, first, negatively; not by an immediate oracle, voice, or whisper within them, in express words pronouncing their pardon and acceptation with God, or saying that they are the sons of God, after the manner our Saviour told the man sick of the palsy, Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee, Matt. ix. 2, or as Nathan the prophet said to David, The Lord hath put away thy sin, 2 Sam. xii. 13. This is a vain imagination, and as dangerous as it is vain, it being apt to lead some good men into despair, as not finding any such whisper within them; and to expose others to presumption and the delusion of the evil spirit. Such a vocal testimony of the Spirit is nowhere promised in Scripture, and therefore not to be expected by us, though it is possible God may to some persons, and in some extraordinary cases, give it. But that St. Paul means not any such vocal testimony of the Spirit is evident from hence, that this vocal testimony would be the immediate testimony of the Spirit alone, whereas the apostle speaks of a testimony of the Spirit concurring and adjoining with the testimony of our spirits, i. e. our minds or

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consciences; ovumaptupee our minds and consciences therefore have a part and share in giving this testimony; i. e. our consciences give this testimony by and with the Spirit within us. In what manner, I am to shew in the affirmative, to which I proceed.

2. Therefore affirmatively, the Spirit witnesseth that we are the sons of God. (1.) By those gra

cious fruits and effects which it hath wrought in us, , which when we discern and perceive, we do or may from thence conclude that we are the sons of God, those fruits and effects being the sure badge and livery of his children. (2.) By enlightening our understandings, and assisting the faculties of our souls, as need requires, to discern those gracious fruits and effects which he hath wrought in us.

(1.) The first way whereby the Spirit of God witnesseth that we are the sons of God, is by the gracious fruits and effects which the Spirit hath wrought

The Spirit of God in person is not the immediate suggester of this conclusion, that we are the sons of God; but the Spirit in the fruits and effects of it is the medium or argument from whence we ourselves draw it. St. Paul tells us in the very same chapter, Rom. viii. 9, If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. Now how shall we know that we have the Spirit, but by the fruits of it in ourselves? And what are the fruits of the Spirit ? St. Paul describes them, Gal. v. 22, 23, The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance; against such there is no law. Where, when among the fruits of the Spirit the apostle reckons xapà, joy, the best interpreters understand him to mean, not that joy or peace of conscience, which is the result and reward

in us.

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