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my mind, from a review of the present state of religion, as it hath struck my observation. But I desire in the very moment of enquiry concerning these things, to exercise a greater jealousy over my own heart in searching for an answer to them, than over any other man's. Happy will it be for the best interests of the gospel, if my fears are all unfounded. . But of one thing I am confident; the heart that is most free from the charge will be least displeased with the accusation. And he who hath the smallest reason to shrink from the search, will rather be thankful, than feel resentment from such touchstones of character,
In times so critical to the interests of vital religion, and amidst such awful departures from the faith as we are daily called upon to behold, it becomes a very anxious enquiry in the breast of the humbleIs there no method under divine grace by which the believer may arrive to a well-grounded assurance concerning the great truths of the gospel? Is it not possible for him to be so firmly settled in those great truths, as that he shall not only be ready “to give answer to every one that asketh him a reason of the hope that is in him," but to find the comfort of it in his own mind, "that his faith doth not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God ? »
To this enquiry I answer, Yes, blessed be God, there is. An infallible method is discovered, at once to secure from the possibility of apostacy, and to afford comfort and satisfaction to the believer's own mind, concerning the great truths of God; namely, from the Spirit's work in the heart; by the sweet influences of which he may find “joy and peace in believing, and abound in hope through the power
of the Holy Ghost."
The investigation of this subject, as a subject at all times truly interesting in itself, but eminently so in
the present period, is to form the substance of this little tract. And I the rather insist upon
its importance on this occasion, and as such, venture to call the attention of the churches to it, as decisive to the point in question, from the authority of an apostle. He hath determined this sacred work of the Spirit to be the great security against all the heresies of the. latter day. His language upon this occasion is, indeed remarkable. “Little children, (says he,) it is the last time. And as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time.” And as if the apostle had foreseen, and directly pointed to that very species of apostacy which so peculiarly marks the present day, he adds; “They went out from us, but they were not of us : for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us : but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.” And then be subjoins, what appears to me, I confess, to be unanswerably conclusive on the subject of the Spirit's work in the heart : “ But
have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things.”
Brethren! may all congregations of the faithful throughout the earth be always under this rich anointing, “to hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches. And may the God of all
the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory, by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered awhile, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you. To Him be glory in the church of Christ Jesus, throughout all ages, world without end." Amen.
READER! the design of this little book, is (in the divine hand) to bring you acquainted with what of all concerns upon earth it behoves you most to know; namely, with the nature and certainty of those things which respect your present and everlasting welfare. To be perfectly satisfied, in your own mind, of the great truths of the gospel ; and to be as perfectly convinced of having a personal interest in all the blessings of the gospel; these cannot but form an object of the first concern, in the breast of every serious person. And that man must be lost indeed to all that is really valuable in life, who can be indifferent to matters so highly interesting.
In the gracious work of the Holy Ghost, those precious evidences are alone to be found. And that every truly regenerated believer in Christ hath those evidences, in his own experience, is what I not only affirm, from the authority of the Holy Word, (whatever reproaches it may bring upon me from the carnal, and ungodly world) but I venture to believe also, that the facts themselves are so fully and circumstantially proved to the believer's own experience, in the daily occurrences of his life who is made the happy partaker of such unspeakable mercy, that they require nothing more than the suitable attention of the mind, in order to ascertain their reality.
Holy and Eternal Spirit! descend with all thy precious inAuences, upon this feeble attempt, to make manifest thy gracious work upon the heart. - Direct the hand that writes ; and enlighten the eye that reads; and as it is thou alone, who causest the light to shine out of darkness, do thou shine in upon the heart, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God, in the face of Jesus Christ.
THE SPIRIT'S WORK IN THE HEART,
If there be a single point of the gospel insisted upon with greater emphasis than another, it is certainly that part of it, which, by tracing redemption's work up to the Fountain Head, leads the believer to discover that all the streams flowing from it issue from the joint mercy of the sacred Three in One, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. For the same Scriptures, which reveal to us the mysterious nature of the existence of the persons in the unity of the GODHEAD, do as expressly assign to each his particular and distinct office in the economy of human redemption.
To God the Father are peculiarly ascribed those gracious acts which result from his everlasting love, of contriving, forming, appointing, and perfecting the glorious scheme of salvation. Hence the gift of the Lord Jesus to his people, and his people to him, are said to be in an especial manner his act. He is therefore peculiarly distinguished in every part of the divine word, and we are taught to look up to him, under this affectionate and endearing character of the Father. Not only because all the tendencies of his love are directed in a fatherly way, but also, because every mercy is of his begetting. It is not enough to say that he bestows them : but he is the Father of them; and as such, he is called “the Father of mercies; and the God of all grace.”
I stay not to bring proofs of this doctrine from the word of God; for the truth itself is too plain to require it. And it would be to go over the whole volume in enumeration, if every testimony were produced. The apostle, in a verse or two, hath summed it up
in his comprehensive manner, when he says: “All things are of God, who hath reconciled us unto himself by Jesus Christ. For of Him, and through Him, and to Him, are all things; to whom be glory, for ever!” Amen.
In like manner, to God the Son there is as peculiarly ascribed, and in a way perfectly distinguished, either from the person of the Father, or of the Holy Ghost,) certain relations of character, into which he hath most graciously condescended to put himself; and certain acts, arising out of that relationship, which he hath as graciously condescended to perform, for the redemption of his people. He it was, who, in the ancient council of peace, between the persons of the GODHEAD, entered into covenant-engagements, when he was set up in this character of Redeemer, from everlasting. He it was, and neitherthe Father northe Holy Ghost, who by virtue of those engagements did, in
in what is called “the fulness of time,” assume our nature and tabernacle among us. And it was he, who, as the Representative and Surety of poor fallen man, did in his own sacred person fulfil all righteousness, and by the one offering of himself, once offered upon the cross, for ever perfect them who are sanctified.”
And it is a point ever to be remembered, and kept in view, in the recollection of the personal ministry of the Redeemer, that it is Jesus, the ever blessed, ever precious Jesus, who, by the assumption of humanity, hath taken our nature, and brought his people into such an unity, or oneness with himself, that they are“ members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.”
Reader! how very