HEAVEN ON EARTH
Thomas Brooks, 1667
Showing the difference between a true and
a counterfeit assurance; between sound assurance and presumption.
(1.) The first difference. A
sound and well-grounded assurance is attended with a deep admiration of
God's transcendent love and favor to the soul, in the Lord Jesus.
The assured soul is often a-breathing it out thus: "Ah, Lord! who am
I, what am I, that you should give into my bosom, the white stone of
forgiveness; when the world has given into their bosoms only the
black stone of condemnation? Rev 2:17. Lord! what mercy is this, that
you should give me assurance, give me water out of the rock, and feed me
with manna from heaven; when, many of your dearest ones spend their days in
sighing, mourning and complaining for lack of assurance. Lord! what manner
of love is this, that you should set me upon your knee, embrace me in your
arms, lodge me in your bosom, and kiss me with the sweet kisses of your
blessed mouth, with those kisses which are better than wine, yes, better
than life; when many are even weary of their lives because they lack what I
enjoy? Psalm 63:3. Ah, Lord! by what name shall I call this mercy, this
assurance that you have given me? It being a mercy which fits me to do
duties, to bear crosses, and to improve mercies; which fits me to speak
sweetly, to judge righteously, to give liberally, to act seriously, to
suffer cheerfully, and to walk humbly. I cannot," says the assured soul,
"but sing it out with Moses—Who is like unto you, O Lord, among the gods?
Who is like you, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders?
Exod 15:2. And with the apostle, Oh, the height, the depth, the length and
breadth of the love of Christ, which passes knowledge!" Eph 3:18-19.
"If the queen of Sheba," says the assured soul, "was so
swallowed up in a deep admiration of Solomon's wisdom, greatness, goodness,
excellency and glory, that she could not but admiringly breathe it thus
out—Happy are your men, happy are these your servants, who stand continually
before you, and that hear your wisdom," 1 Kings 10:8, Oh then, how should
that blessed assurance that I have of the love of God, of my saving interest
in God, of my union and communion with God, of my blessedness here and my
eternal happiness hereafter, work me to a deep and serious, to a real and
perpetual, admiration of God!"
Assurance of Christ's love made Jerome admiringly to say,
"O my Savior, did you die for love of me alone, a death more dolorous than
death—but to me a death more lovely than life itself! I cannot live, love
you, and be longer from you!"
[2.] The second difference. Secondly,
A well-grounded assurance always begets in the soul
an earnest and an impatient longing after a further, a clearer, and fuller
enjoyment of God and Christ. Psalm 63:1, "O God, you are my
God"—here is assurance; well, what follows?—"early will I seek
you. My soul thirsts for you; my flesh longs for you in a dry
and thirsty land, where there is no water." David, though in a wilderness,
seeks not for bread or water or protection—but for more of God.
Holy and heavenly privileges are the food by which
assurance is cherished and maintained. The assured soul cries out, "I desire
to be depart, and to be with Christ!" Phil 1:23; and, "Make haste, my
beloved!" Song 8:14; and, "Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly!" Rev 22:17. "O
Lord Jesus," says the assured soul, "you are my light, you are my life, you
are my love, you are my joy, you are my crown, you are my heaven, you are my
all. I cannot but long to see that beautiful face which was spit upon for my
sins, and that glorious head which was crowned with thorns for my
transgressions. I long to be with you in paradise, to see the glory of your
Jerusalem above, to drink of those rivers of pleasures that are at your
right hand, to taste of all the delicacies of your kingdom, and to be
acquainted with those secrets and mysteries which have been hidden from all
ages, and to be swallowed up in the full enjoyment of your blessed self!"
Eph 3:5; Col 1:26. The assured soul's motto is, "O my God! when shall I be
with you, when shall I be with you?"
[3.] The third difference. Thirdly,
A well-grounded assurance is usually strongly assaulted by Satan on all
sides. "The devil marches well armed, and in mighty array," says
Luther. Satan is such a mighty enemy to joy and peace, to the salvation and
consolation, of the saints, that he cannot but make use of all his devices
and stratagems to baffle and amuse, to disturb and disquiet, the peace and
rest of their souls. No sooner had Jesus Christ heard that lovely voice from
heaven, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased," Matt 3:17 and
Matt 4:1-2, etc.—but he is desperately assaulted by Satan in the wilderness.
No sooner was Paul dropped out of heaven, after he had seen such visions of
glory that was unutterable—but he was presently assaulted and buffeted by
Satan, 2 Cor 2:12.
Stand up, stand up, assured Christians, and tell me
whether you have not found the blast of the terrible one to be as a mighty
storm. Since the Lord said unto you, "Be of good cheer, your sins are
forgiven," have not you found Satan to play the part both of the lion and
the wolf, of the serpent and the fox? And all to weaken your assurance, and
to work you to question the truth of your assurance, and to cast water upon
your assurance, and to take off the freshness and sweetness, the beauty and
glory, of your assurance; I know you have. I truly think that they have very
much cause to question the truth of their assurance, who know not what it is
to have their assurance assaulted strongly by Satan.
Satan's malice, envy, and enmity is such against God's
honor and glory, and your comfort and felicity, that he cannot but be very
studious and industrious to make use of all traps, snares, methods, and
ways, whereby he may shake the pillars of your faith, and weaken and
overthrow your assurance. Pirates, you know, do most fiercely assault those
ships and vessels that are most richly laden; so does Satan assault those
precious souls who have attained to the riches of full assurance. Satan is
that old serpent, as John speaks, Rev 12:9. He is as old as the world, and
is grown very cunning by experience, he being a spirit of greater than five
thousand years' existence.
Assurance makes a paradise in believers' souls—and this
makes Satan to roar and rage. Assurance fits a man to do God the greatest
service and Satan the greatest disservice—and this makes him angry against
the soul. Assurance makes a saint to be too hard for Satan with all weapons.
Assurance makes a saint to lead that "strong man" captive, to spoil him of
all his hurting power, to bind him in chains, and to triumph over him; and
this makes his hell a great deal hotter, Rom 8:32-39. And therefore never
wonder at Satan's assaulting your assurance—but expect it and look for it.
Luther cries out, "I am attacked by all the world without, and within by the
devil and all his demons."
The jailor is quiet when his prisoner is in bolts—but if
he escapes then he pursues him with haste and fury. So long as the soul is
in bolts and bondage under Satan, Satan is quiet and is not so apt to molest
and vex it; but when once a soul is made free, and assured of his freedom by
Christ, John 8:36, then says Satan, as once Pharaoh did, "I will chase them,
catch up with them, and destroy them. I will divide the plunder, avenging
myself against them. I will unsheath my sword; my power will destroy them,"
Exod 15:9. The experience of all assured saints does abundantly confirm
this. Israel going into Egypt had no enemies, no opposition—but
traveling into Canaan they were never free.
[4.] The fourth difference. Fourthly,
A well grounded-assurance makes a man as bold as a
lion; it makes him valiant and gallant for Christ and his cause, in the face
of all dangers and deaths. The number of opposers makes the
Christian's conquest the more illustrious. After the Holy Spirit had fallen
upon the apostles, and had assured them of their internal and eternal
happiness, oh! how bold, how undaunted, how resolute were they in the face
of all oppositions, afflictions, and persecutions! as you may see from the
book of Acts. So assurance had this operation upon David's heart:
Psalm 23:4,6 compared, "Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the
days of my life." Well, David—but how does this assurance of yours operate?
Why, says he "Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I
will fear no evil." So Moses, having an assurance of the
"recompense of reward," he fears not the wrath of the king, "for he endured,
as seeing him who is invisible," Heb 11:26-27. So in Heb 10:34, "You
joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that
you yourselves had better and lasting possessions." Oh, that knowledge, that
assurance that they had in their own hearts of enjoying in heaven a better
and a more enduring substance, made them bear cheerfully and gallantly the
confiscation of their worldly goods. The archers—the world, the flesh, and
the devil—shoot mightily at a soul under assurance, yet assurance will make
a man to break a bow of steel, to trample down strength, and to triumph over
all oppositions and afflictions.
Colonus the Dutch martyr called to the judge who had
sentenced him to death, and asked him to lay his hand upon his heart, and
asked him whose heart did most fastest—his or the judge's. Assurance will
make a man do this, and much more for Christ and his cause.
[5.] The fifth difference. Fifthly,
A well-grounded assurance of a man's own eternal happiness and
blessedness, will make him very studious and laborious to make others happy.
Psalm 66:16, "Come and hear, all you who fear God, and I will
tell you what he has done for my soul." I will acquaint you with the soul
blessings, with the soul favors, which God has crowned me with. I was
darkness—but he has made me light; I was unrighteousness—but he has made me
righteous; I was deformed—but he has made me complete; I was full of sores,
and spots, and blemishes—but he has washed me, and made me all fair, without
spot or wrinkle. I have found the lack of assurance, I now see the worth of
assurance; I have long sought assurance, and now I find the sweetness of
assurance. Ah! it is such a pearl of price, it is such a beam of God, it is
such a spark of glory, which makes my soul a rich amends for all its
waiting, weeping, and wrestling. [Eph 5:8; 1 Cor 1:30; Col 2:10; Isa 1:6;
Eph 5:26-27; Song 4:7]
So, when it pleased God to call Paul by his grace,
and to reveal Christ in him and to him, ah! how does he labor, as for life,
to bring others to an acquaintance with Christ, and to an acceptance of
Christ, and to an assurance of everlasting happiness and blessedness by
Christ! After Paul had been in paradise, he makes it his all, to bring
others to paradise, 2 Cor 12. So the spouse in the Canticles, having
assurance of her interest in Christ, how does she labor, by all holy and
heavenly rhetoric and logic, by all the strains of love and sweetness, to
draw the daughters of Jerusalem to a sight of Christ! Song 5:10-16, and Song
6:1, etc. When a beam of divine light and love had shined upon Andrew,
he labors to draw his brother Simon to the fountain of all light and love,
John 1:40-42. And when Philip had but a cast of Christ's countenance,
his pulse beats, and his heart calls upon Nathanael to come and share with
him in that loving-kindness which was better than life, John 1:43-47.
The constant cry of souls under the power of assurance
is, "Come, taste and see how good the Lord is," Psalm 34:8. Ah, sinners,
sinners! "his ways are ways of pleasantness, and all his paths are peace,"
Prov 3:17; his "commands are not grievous," 1 John 5:3—but joyous; "his yoke
is easy, and his burden is light," Matt 11:30; not only for keeping—but also
"in keeping of his commands there is great reward," Psalm 19:11. Assurance
will strongly put men upon winning of others by counsel, by example, by
prayer, and by communicating their spiritual experiences to them. Assurance
will furnish a man with will, skill, and experience to confute all those
false reports that vain men frequently cast upon the Lord and his ways. It
will make a man proclaim to the world "that one day in the Lord's courts is
better than a thousand years elsewhere," Psalm 84:10; that there are more
glorious joys, more pure comforts, more abiding peace, more royal contents,
more celestial delights, in one day's walking with God, in one hour's
communion with God, etc., than is to be found in all things below God.
And by these and such like ways, souls under the power of
a well-grounded assurance do endeavor to make others happy with themselves.
A soul under assurance is unwilling to go to heaven without company. He is
often a-crying out, "Father, bless this soul too, and crown that soul too:
let us to heaven together, let us be made happy together."
[6.] The sixth difference. Sixthly,
A well-grounded assurance of God's love, and of a man's everlasting
happiness and blessedness, will exceedingly arm and strengthen him against
all wickedness and sin. Ezek 16:60-63. No man loathes sin, and
himself for sin, as such a man; no man wars and watches against sin more
than such a man; no man sighs and mourns, bleeds and complains, under the
sense of sinful motions and sinful operations more than such a man, Luke
7:44,50. Every stirring of sin makes a man who is under the power of
assurance to cry out, "O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from
this body of death?" Rom 7:22-25. Psalm 85:8, "I will hear what God the Lord
will speak; for he will speak peace unto his people, and to his saints: and
let them not turn again to folly," or, as the Hebrew will bear, "And they
shall not return to folly." God's speaking peace to his people fences and
fortifies them against folly and vanity.
The assurance that Joseph had of his master's love armed
him against the lascivious assaults of his lustful mistress; and will not
divine love, which is stronger than death, do this and more? Song 8:6-7.
Assurance makes a man say to his sins, as he to his idols, "Get you hence,
for what have I any more to do with idols!" So says the assured soul, "Away
pride, away passion, away worldly-mindedness, away uncleanness, away
uncharitableness, etc., for what have I any more to do with you!" Assurance
makes the soul speak to sin as David speaks to sinners: Psalm 119:115,
"Depart from me, you workers of iniquity; for I will keep the commandments
of my God:" so says the assured soul, "Depart from me, O my lusts, for I
have tasted of the love of God, and I have given up myself wholly and only
to God, and I cannot but keep the commandments of my God!"
The Jewish Rabbis report, that the same night that Israel
departed out of Egypt towards Canaan, all the idols and idolatrous temples
in Egypt, by lightning and earthquakes, were broken down. So when Christ and
assurance comes to be set up in the soul, all the idols of Satan and a man's
own heart are cast down, and cast out as an abomination. Sound assurance
puts a man upon "purifying himself, even as Christ is pure," 1 John 3:2-3.
The assured Christian knows, that it is dangerous to sin against light, that
it is more dangerous to sin against love, that it is most dangerous to sin
against love revealed and manifested to the soul. To sin under assurance, is
to sin against the great mercies of God, it is to sin against the highest
hopes of glory; and this will certainly provoke God to be angry. God may
well say to such a Christian, "Is this your kindness to your best friend?"
1 Kings 11:9, "And the Lord was angry with Solomon,
because his heart was turned from the Lord God of Israel, who had appeared
to him twice." To sin under assurance, is to sin in paradise; it is to sin
under the flaming sword, it is to sin in the suburbs of heaven, it is to run
the hazard of losing that favor "which is better than life," of that "joy
which is unspeakable and full of glory," and of that "peace which passes
understanding." To sin under assurance, is to cast reproach upon Christ, to
grieve the Spirit, to wound conscience, to weaken your graces, to blur your
evidences, to usher in calamities, to embitter your mercies, and to provoke
the tempter to tempt you.
Truly, that assurance is but presumption, which allows
men to play with sin, to be bold with sin, to make light of sin, to walk on
in ways of sin. Such assurance will never bring a man to heaven, it will
never keep him from dropping into hell, yes, it will double his damnation,
and make him the most miserable among all damned, wretched, forlorn spirits.
Ah, Lord! from such false hopes deliver my soul; and give me more and more
of that divine hope which makes sin to be more hateful than hell; and which
makes the soul to be more careful to avoid the one, than it is fearful of
falling into the other. This made Anselm say that he had rather be thrust
into hell without sin, than go into heaven with sin.
[7.] The seventh difference. Seventhly,
A well-grounded assurance is always attended with
three fair handmaids, or with three sweet companions.
(1.) The first handmaid. The first is
LOVE. Oh! the assurance of divine favor
does mightily inflame a man's love to Christ. Mary Magdalene loved much;
Christ's love to her drew out her love very much to himself, Luke 7.
Assurance makes the soul sing it out with that sweet singer of Israel, "I
will dearly love you, O Lord, my strength," the Hebrew signifies—to love
intimately and dearly, as a tender mother loves the fruit of her womb. Psalm
Lovers know not how to keep silence; lovers of Christ are
full of gracious expressions. Love is the attractive loadstone of love. It
is impossible for a soul not to love Christ—who knows he is beloved of
Christ. Christ's love constrains the soul to love, not by force—but
loving necessity. A believer cannot find the heart of Christ to be
beating towards him—but his heart will strongly beat towards Christ. Divine
love is like a rod of myrtle, which, as Pliny reports, makes the traveler
who carries it in his hand, that he shall never be faint, weary of walking,
or loving. Love overpowers all else. Love is the diadem; none but the queen
must wear it. Love is the wedding garment; none but the spouse can fit it.
Love is a loadstone to draw, as well as a fire to warm. He who does not love
Christ, was never assured of the love of Christ.
(2.) The second handmaid, or companion which attends a
well-grounded assurance, is HUMILITY.
David, under assurance, cries out, I am a worm and no man!" The Hebrew
word which is here rendered worm, signifies a very little worm,
which a man can hardly see or perceive. Psalm 22:6. Abraham, under
assurance, cries out, that he is but "dust and ashes!" Jacob, under
assurance, cries out, "I am not worthy of all the faithfulness and unfailing
love you have shown to me!" Job, under assurance, "abhors himself in
dust and ashes!" Moses had the honor and the happiness to speak with
God "face to face;" he was very much in God's favor; and yet a more humble
soul, the earth did never bear. "Now Moses was a very humble man, more
humble than anyone else on the face of the earth." Numbers 12:3. The great
apostle Paul, under all the revelations and glorious manifestations
of God to him, counts himself "less than the least of all saints," Eph 3:8.
That is mere presumption, that is a delusion of the devil, and no sound
assurance, which puffs and swells the souls of men with pride; which makes
men prize themselves above others, above the value which God has put upon
(3.) The third handmaid or companion which attends
assurance, is holy JOY. Ah! this
assurance causes the strong waters of consolation to overflow the soul.
Assurance raises the strongest joy in the soul: Luke 1:46-47, and Mary said,
"My soul does magnify the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my
Savior." When a man comes to be assured that God is his Savior, presently
his spirit rejoices in God. This truth is held forth by three parables in
that of Luke 15, and also in 1 Pet 1:8-9, "Though you have not seen him, you
love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are
filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy (to dance and leap for joy),
for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls."
They have heaven's happiness beforehand. Oh the joy, the joy, the
inexpressible joy which attends a well-grounded assurance! Assurance raises
a paradise of delight in the soul. A Christian, under the power of
assurance, works all his works in Christ. In Christ, therefore, and in him
alone, he rejoices.
[8.] The eighth difference. Eighthly, and lastly,
A well-grounded assurance sometimes springs from
the testimony and witness of the Spirit of God. The Spirit
sometimes witnesses to a believer's spirit, that he is born of God, that he
is beloved of God, that he has union and communion with God, and that he
shall reign forever with God: Rom 8:26, "The Spirit himself bears witness
with our spirits, that we are the children of God." The Spirit himself
witnesses not only the gifts and graces of the Spirit—but the Spirit itself
witnesses together with our own spirit, that we are the children of God.
Sometimes the saints have two witnesses joining their testimonies together
to confirm and establish them in these blessed and glorious truths, that
they are the sons of God and heirs of glory; and this is their honor as well
as their comfort, that the blessed Spirit should bear witness at the bar of
their consciences that they are the sons of God: 1 Cor 2:12, "We have not
received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may
understand what God has freely given us;" that is, that we may know our
election, effectual calling, justification, sanctification, and
glorification. A man may receive many things that are freely given of
God—and yet not know them until the Spirit comes and makes them known to the
QUESTION. But you may say to me,
How shall we know the whispering of the Holy Spirit—from the hissing of the
old serpent? How shall we know the report, the witness, and
testimony of the Spirit of Christ—from that report, witness, and testimony
that the old serpent deludes and deceives many by, in these days wherein he
mostly appears in his angelic robes? "For Satan himself is transformed into
an angel of light." 2 Corinthians 11:14.
ANSWER. I answer, you may know the whispering of the
Spirit from the hissing of the old serpent, etc., by these following things,
which I desire that you would seriously consider, as you prize the peace and
settlement, the satisfaction, consolation, and salvation of your own souls.
(1.) The first difference. First,
The Spirit of Christ does not witness by any outward voice, as
God did from heaven of Christ, Matt 3:17; nor by an angel, as to the Virgin
Mary, Luke 1:30-34; but by an inward, secret,
glorious, and unspeakable way, he bids believers be of good
cheer, their sins are forgiven, as Christ said to the palsied man in the
Gospel, Matt 9:2. And this truth is to be solemnly minded against those poor
deceived and deluded souls in these days, who would make others believe that
they have had such and such glorious things made known by an outward,
audible voice from heaven. It is much to be feared that they never found the
inward, the sweet, the secret, the powerful testimony and report of the
Spirit of Christ—who boast, and brag, and rest so much upon such fanatical
In 1 Kings 19:11-13, you read of "a great and powerful
wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord,
but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake,
but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire,
but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle
whisper," and the Lord spoke to Elijah in that gentle whisper. Ah,
Christians! the Spirit of the Lord makes not a great noise—but he comes in a
gentle whisper, and makes a soft and secret report to the soul, that it is
beloved, that it is pardoned, and that it shall be forever glorified.
(2.) The second difference. Secondly,
The testimony and witness of the Spirit of Christ,
is only gained and enjoyed in holy and heavenly ways, as you may
clearly see by comparing these Scriptures together. [Acts 10:4; Dan 9:20-22;
Isa 64:5; Acts 10:44, etc.] The Spirit of the Lord is a Holy Spirit,
and he cannot, he will not make any report of the love of the Father to the
soul, outside of a way of holiness. Truly, all those glorious reports that
many boast they have met with in sinful ways, in wretched and ungodly ways,
are from the hissing of the old serpent, and not from the whisperings of the
Spirit of grace. I think it is little less than blasphemy for any to affirm,
that the blessed Spirit of Christ makes reports of the love and favor of God
to people walking in ways of wickedness and sin. Yet this age has many such
(3.) The third difference. Thirdly,
The testimony and witness of the Spirit of Christ, is a clear, a full, a
satisfying testimony and witness, John 14:17; 1 John 3:24. The
soul sits down under the home-reports of the Spirit, and says, 'Lord, it is
enough!' The soul being full, sits down and sweetly sings it out: "My
beloved is mine, and I am his. I am my well-beloved's, and his desire is
towards me," Song 2:16, and Song 7:10. "The Lord is my portion and the lot
of my inheritance," Psalm 16:5. "I have none in heaven but you, neither are
there any on earth which I desire in comparison of you," Psalm 73:25.
"Henceforth is laid up for me a crown of righteousness," 2 Tim 4:8. "Make
haste, my beloved," etc., Song 8:14.
Such power, majesty, and glory, attends the glorious
testimony of the Spirit of Christ—as scatters all clouds, as resolves all
doubts, as answers all objections, as silences the wrangling soul, etc. If
the testimony of the Spirit of Christ were not a full, satisfying testimony,
it could never fill the soul with such joy as is "unspeakable and full of
glory," and with "such peace as passes understanding." If the testimony were
not satisfactory, the soul would still be under fears and doubts, the heart
would still be a-wrangling and quarreling, "I may perish, and I may be
undone, I may have the door of mercy shut against me!" etc.
If you bring news to a condemned person that the king has
pardoned him, and that he will receive him to favor, and confer such and
such dignity upon him—yet this does not quiet him nor satisfy him, until he
knows for sure, that it is the king's act. Until he is satisfied in that, he
cannot say it is enough, he cannot be cheerful, he cannot be delightful,
etc. But when he is satisfied that it is the king's act, that the king has
certainly done this and that for him, then he is satisfied, and then sighing
and mourning flies away, and then he rejoices with joy unspeakable. So it is
with a believing soul under the testimony and witness of the spirit of
(4.) The fourth difference. Fourthly, Though the Spirit
is a witnessing Spirit, yet he does not always
witness to believers their adoption, their interest in Christ,
etc. There is a mighty difference between the working of the
Spirit—and the witness of the Spirit. There are oftentimes many
glorious and efficacious works of the Spirit, as faith, love,
repentance, holiness, etc., where there is not the witness of the
Spirit, Isa 50:10. David at that very time had the Spirit, and many sweet
workings of the Spirit in him and upon him—when he had by sin lost the
witness and testimony of the Spirit, Psalm 51:10-12.
Though the Spirit of the Lord is a witnessing and a
sealing Spirit, yet he does not always witness and seal up the love
and favor of the Father to believers' souls, as you may see by these
scriptures, [Job 23:8-9; 1 John 5:13; Psalm 88; Psalm 77; Mic 7:8-9; Isa
8:17] and as the experience of many precious Christians can abundantly
evidence. All believers do not see alike need of this testimony, they
do not all alike prize this testimony, they do not all alike
observe it and improve it; and therefore, it is no wonder if the
Spirit be a witnessing Spirit to some and not to others.
You do but gratify Satan and wrong your own souls, when
you argue that certainly you have not the Spirit, because he is not
always a witnessing and a sealing Spirit to your souls. Though it be the
office of the Spirit to witness, yet it is not his office always to
witness to believers their happiness and blessedness. The Spirit may act one
way and at one time of the soul—yet he does not act similarly at other ways
and times. Sometimes the Spirit works upon the understanding, sometimes upon
the will, sometimes upon the affections, sometimes upon faith, sometimes
upon fear, sometimes upon love, sometimes upon humility, etc. Our hearts are
the Spirit's harps. If a man should always plucking one string in an
instrument, he would never play various tunes, he would never make pleasant
music; no more would the Spirit, if he should be always a-doing one thing in
the soul. Therefore he acts variously. Sometimes he will show himself a
quickening Spirit, sometimes an enlightening Spirit, sometimes a rejoicing
Spirit, sometimes a sealing Spirit, and always a supporting Spirit, etc.
(5.) The fifth difference. Fifthly,
The testimony and witness of the Spirit is a sure testimony, a sure
witness. The Spirit is truth itself; he is the great searcher of
the deep things of God. The Spirit of the Lord is the discoverer, the
confuter, and destroyer of all false spirits. [Titus 1:2; John 14:17; 1 Cor
2:10; 1 John 4:1-5] The Spirit is above all possibility of being deceived.
He is omnipotent, he is omniscient, he is omnipresent, he is one of the
cabinet-council of heaven; he lies and lives in the bosom of the Father—and
can call them all by name upon whom the Father has set his heart—and
therefore his testimony must needs be true. It is a surer testimony than if
a man should hear a voice from heaven pronouncing him to be happy and
blessed. You may safely and securely lay the weight of your souls upon this
testimony; it never has, it never will deceive any that has leaned upon it.
This testimony will be a rock that will bear up a soul, when other false
testimonies will be but "a reed of Egypt," which will deceive the soul,
which will undo the soul; as I am afraid many in this deluding age have
found by sad experience.
(6.) The sixth difference. Sixthly,
The testimony of God's Spirit is always accompanied with the testimony of
our own. These may be distinguished—but they can never be
separated. I do not say that the testimony of our spirits is always
accompanied with the testimony of the Spirit. No; for a believer has often
the single testimony of his own spirit, when he lacks the testimony of the
Spirit of Christ, and the single testimony of his own conscience will afford
him much courage and comfort, 2 Cor 1:12: Yes, it will make a paradise of
delight in his soul, etc.
When the Spirit of God gives his witness to a man, his
own spirit also gives witness. Look! as face answers to face, so does the
witness of a believer's spirit answer to the witness of the Spirit of
Christ. Rom 8:16, "The Spirit witnesses together with our spirits, that we
he the sons of God." Now, if our own consciences do not testify first, that
we are sons and heirs, the Spirit does not testify; for the Spirit bears
witness together with our spirits. John is very express in 1 John 3:21, "but
if our hearts condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God. But if our
hearts condemn us, God is greater than our hearts, and knows all things." 1
John 5:8-12, and "There are three who bear witness in earth—the Spirit, and
the water, and the blood, and these three agree in one." By the Spirit
we may understand the Holy Spirit, by whose strength we lay hold on
Christ and all his benefits. By water we may understand our
regeneration, our sanctification; and by blood we may understand the
blood and righteousness of Christ, which is imputed and applied by faith to
us. "And these three agree in one," that is, they do all three of one accord
testify the same thing.
(7.) The seventh difference. Seventhly,
The witness of the Spirit is ever according to the
word. There is a sweet harmony between God's inward and the
outward testimony—between the Spirit of God and the word of God. The
scriptures were all inspired by the Spirit, 2 Pet 1:20-21; and therefore the
Spirit cannot contradict himself—which he would do, if he would give to the
conscience any testimony contrary to the testimony of the word. It is
blasphemy to make the inner testimony of the Spirit, to contradict the
testimony of his written word. The Spirit has revealed his whole mind in the
word, and he will not give a contrary testimony to what he has given in the
The word says that those who are born again; that those
who are new creatures, that those who believe and repent—shall be saved. "If
you are born again, if you are a new creature, if you believe and repent—you
shall be saved," says the Spirit. The Spirit never justifies where the word
condemns, the Spirit never approves where the word disapproves, the Spirit
never blesses where the word curses. In the Old Testament all revelations
were to be examined by the word, Deut 13:1-4. Isa 8:20, "To the law and to
the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there
is no light in them." We are not only blind—but lame too; therefore the
Spirit shall lead us to the knowledge and practice of all necessary saving
So in John 16:13, "But when he, the Spirit of truth,
comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he
will speak only what he hears." Here the Holy Spirit is brought in as some
messenger or ambassador who only relates things faithfully according to what
he has been commissioned to speak. Such people as look and lean upon the
hissing of the old serpent, may have a testimony that they are happy,
against the testimony of the word; but wherever the Spirit of Christ gives
in his testimony, it is still according to the word. Look! the testimony of
the Spirit answers exactly to the testimony of the word.
(8.) The eighth difference. Eighthly,
The witness of the Spirit is a holy witness, a holy
testimony. Nothing can come from the Holy Spirit but that which
is holy—that which is effectually holy. Nothing makes the heart more
in the love, study, practice, and growth of holiness, than the glorious
testimony of the Holy Spirit. And the more clear and full the Spirit's
testimony is, the more holy and gracious it will make the soul. Nothing puts
such golden engagements upon the soul to holiness—as the Spirit sealing a
man up to the day of redemption—as the Spirit speaking and sealing peace,
love, and pardon to the soul, Psalm 85:8; 1 Cor 15:31; 2 Cor 5:14. Nothing
makes a man more careful to please Christ, more fearful to offend Christ,
more studious to exalt Christ, and more circumspect to walk with Christ,
than this testimony of the Spirit of Christ.
Truly, that is not the blessed whispering of Christ's
Spirit—but the hissing of the old serpent—which makes men bold with sin,
which makes men dally with sin, which makes man a servant to sin, which
breeds a contempt or neglect of holy duties, or a carelessness in walking
with God. And from those hissings of the old serpent, O Lord, deliver my
soul, and the souls of all those who put their trust in you!
(9.) The ninth difference. Ninthly and lastly,
Assurance is a jewel, a pearl of that price, that
God only bestows it upon renewed hearts. The Spirit never sets
his seal upon any—but upon those who Christ has first printed his
image upon. God gives to none the white stone of forgiveness, Rev
2:17—but to those from whom he has taken the heart of stone; Ezek 36:25-27.
Christ never tells a man that his name is written in the book of life, until
he has breathed into him spiritual life, Luke 10:20. Christ never says,
'Son, be of good cheer, your sin is pardoned,' until he has first said, 'Be
healed, be cleansed!' Luke 5:18-20. Christ never gives a man a new
name—until he has made them new creatures, Isa 56:5; 2 Cor 5:17. Christ
makes the slaves of Satan into his sons—before we cry 'Abba, Father!' Rom
8:15. Christ makes enemies into his friends—before he will make us of his
court or counsel, Eph 2:13-20.
Christ will never hang a pearl in a swine's snout; nor
put new wine into old bottles; nor his royal robes upon a leprous back; nor
his golden chain around a dead man's neck; nor his glistening crown upon
traitor's head! The Spirit never sets his seal upon any—but upon those who
Christ has first set as a seal upon his heart, Eph 1:13; Song 8:6. The
Spirit only bears witness to such as hate sin as Christ hates it, and who
love righteousness as Christ loves it, who hate sin more than hell, and who
love truth more than life, Psalm 45:7. A soul sealed by the Spirit will pull
out right eyes, and cut off right hands, for Christ; such souls will part
with a Benjamin, and offer up an Isaac, for Christ. This is a
serious warning against those deceived and deluded souls, who remain yet in
their blood, and who wallow in their sins—and yet boast and brag of the seal
and of the witness and testimony of the Spirit.
And thus I have showed you the difference between the
whisperings of the Spirit and the hissing of the old serpent; between a true
assurance and a false one.