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which cannot be fully comprehended. Hence, Heb. xi. 1. it is said to be the üsósaois of things not seen; their subfilence, though in themselves absent, yet faith gives them a present subsistence in the soul. So it knows things that pass knowledge, by mixing itself with them, ir draws out, and communicates their benefit to the soul. From all which it is evident, what in the
Third Place was proposed of faith's being only suited to be the means of this discovery, so that I shall not need farther to insist thereon.
Discovery of forgiveness in God a great supportment
to fin-intangled souls ---Particular assurance attainable.
There yet remains a brief confirmation of the position at first laid down, and thus cleared, before I come to the improvement of the words especially aimed at. I say then, this discovery of forgiveness in God, is a great supportment for a sin-intangled soul, although it hath no special persuasion of its own particular ir terest therein. Somewhat is supposed in this assertion, and somewhat affirmed.
FIRST, It is supposed, that there may be a gracious persuasion and assurance of faith, in a man, concerning his own particular interest in forgiveness. A man may, many do, believe it for themselves, so as not only to have the benefit of it, but the comfort also. Generally all the faints mentioned in scripture had this assurance, unless it were in the case of depths, distresses, and desertions, such as that in this psalm. David expresseth his confidence of the love and favour of God unto his own soul hundreds of times, Paul doth the some for himself, Gal. ii. 20. Christ loved me and gave himself JOR ME, 2 Tim. iv. 8. There is laid up FOR ME a crown of righteousness, which God the righteous judge fhall give me at that day. And that this boasting in the
Lord and his grace, was not an inclosure to himself, he shews, Rom. viii. 38, 39.
Nothing can be more vain, than what is usually pleaded to remove this sheat-anchor of the saints consolation ; namely, that no man's particular name is in the promise: It is not said, to this or that man by name, that his sins are forgiven him; but the matter is far otherwise. To think that it is necessary, that the names whereby we are known among ourselves, and are diftinguished here one from another, thould be written in the promife, that we may believe in par.icular every child of God is in the promise ; and believing makes it very legible to him. Yea, we find by experience that there is no need of argumentation in this case. The foul, by a direct act of faith, believes its own forgiveness, without making inferences, or gathering conclusions; and may do so, upon the proposition of it to be believed in the promise. But I will not digress from my work in hand; and therefore shall only observe one or two things upon the supposition laid down.
First, It is the duty of every believer, to labour after an assurance of a personal interest in forgiveness; and to be diligent in tlie cherishing and preservation of it when it is attained. The apostle exhorts us all unto it, Heb. ¥. 22. Let us draw near in full assurance of faith; that is, of our acceptance with God through forgiveness in the blood of Jesus. This he plainly difcourseth of. And this principle of our faith and confidence, he would have us to hold fast unto the end, chap. iii. 14. I: is no small evil in believers not 10 be pressing after perfection in believing and obedience. Oftimes some sinful indulgence to self, or the world, or floth, is the cause of it. Hence few come up to gospel afsurance. But yet most of our privileges, and upon the matter all our comforts, depend on this one thing. A little by the way, to encourage unto this duty, I shall desire you to consider, both whence this assurance is produced, and what it doth produce; what it is the fruit of, and what fruit it bears.
ift, It is in general the product of a more plentifull communication of the spirit than ordinary, as to a sense and participation of the choice fruits of the death of Chrift, procured for those who are justified by their acceptance of the atonement.
It flourisheth not without his sealing, witnessing, eftablishing, and shedding abroad, the love of God in our hearts. See Rom. V. 2, 3, 4, 5. And what believer ought not to long for, and press after, the enjoyment of these things. Nay, to read of these things in the gospel, not experiencing them in our own hearts, and yer to sit down quietly on this side of them, without continual pressing after them, is to despise the blood of Christ, the spirit
of grace, and the whole work of God's love. If tbere are no such things, the gospel is not true'; if there are, if we press not after them, we are despisers of the gospel
. Surely he hath not the spirit, who would not have more of him, all of him that is promised by Christ. These things are the hundred. fold that Christ hath left us in the world, to counterpoise our sorrows, troubles and loffes; and shall we be so foolish as to neglect our only abiding riches and treafures ? In particular, as it is the product of an exercised, vigorous, active faith; that our faith should be such, always in every state and condition, I fuppose it our duty to endeavour. Not only our comforts, but our obedience also depends upon it. "The more faith, that is true, and of the right kind, the more obedience. For all our obedience, is the obedience of faith.
2dly, For its own fruit, and what it producerh, they are the choicest actings of our souls towards God; as love, delight, rejoicing in the Lord, peace, joy and consolation in ourselves, readiness to do, or suffer, cheerfulness in so doing. If they grow not from this root, yet their flourishing wholly depends upon it. So that surely it is the duty of every believer to break thro' all difficulties in pressing after this particular assurance. The objections that persons raise against themselves, in this case, may be afterwards considered.
Secondly, Secondly, In ordinary dispensations of God towards us, and dealings with us, it is mostly our own negligence and sloth that we come short of this assurance. It is true it depends in a peculiar manner on the fovereignty of God; he is as absolute in giving peace to believers, as in giving grace to fingers. This takes place, and may be proposed as a relief in times of trials and difress: He createth light, and causeth darkness, as he pleafeth. But yet, considering what promises are made unto us; what encouragements are given us; what love and tenderness there is in God to receive us, I cannot but conclude, that ordinarily the cause of our coming fhort of this affurance is where I have fixed it. Aud this is the first thing that is supposed, in the foregoing assertion.
SECONDLY, It is supposed, that there is, or may be a saving perswasion or discovery of forgiveness in God, where there is no assurance of any particular interest therein; or that our own fins in particular are pardoned. This is that which hath a promise of gracious acceptance with God, and is therefore saving, Isa. I. 10. Who is among you that feareth the Lord, and obeyeth the voice of his servant, that walketh in darkness and hath no light ; let him trust in the name of the Lord, and stay upon his God. Here is the fear of the Lord and obedience, with a blessed encouragement to rest in God, and his All-lufficiency, yet no assurance, nor light, but darkness, and that walked in, or continued in for a long season. For he cannot walk in darkness, meet with nothing but darkness, without any beam or ray of light, as the words signify, who is persuaded of the love of God in the pardon of his fins. And yet the faith of such an one, and his obedience springing from it, have this gracious promise of acceptance with God. And inumerable testimonies to this purpose might be produced, and instances in great plenty. I shall only tender a little evidence unto it, in one observation concerning the nature of faith, and one more, about
the proposal of the thing to be believed, or forgiveness. Apd.
First, Faith is called, and is a cleaving unto the Lord, Deut. iv. 4. Ye that did cleave, or adhere unto the Lord; that is who did believe. Josh. xxiii. 8. cleave or adhere unto the Lord
God. The same word is used also in the new testament, Acts xi. 23. He ex borted them that with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord, or continue stedfalt in believing. It is also often exprest by trusting in the Lord, rolliog our burden, or casting our care upon him, by committing ourselves, or our ways to him. Now, all this goes no further than the foul's resignation of itself unto God, to be dealt withal by him acccording to the tenour of the covenant of grace, ratified in the blood of Christ: This à foul cannot do without a discovery of forgiveness in God, but this a soul may do, without a special assurance of his own interest therein. This faith that, thus adheres to God, that cleaves to him, will carry men to conclude, that it is their duty, and their wisdom, to give up the dispofal of their souls unto God, and to cleave and adhere unto him, as revealed in Chrift, waiting the pleasure of his will : It enables them to make Christ their choice; and still carry men to heaven fafely, though it may be at some seasons, not very comfortably.
Secondly, The revelation and discovery of forgiveness, that is made in the gospel, evidencech the fame truth. The first proposal of it, or concerning it, is not to any man, that his fins are forgiven. No, but it is only that there is redemption and forgiveness of sins in Christ. So che apostle lays it down, Acts xiii. 38, 39. Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren. that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins, and by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which they could not be justified by the law of Moses. All this may be believed, without a man's assurance of his own perfonal interest in the things mentioned. Now, where they are believed with the faith the gospel requires, that faith is faving, and the root of gospel acceptable