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Chap. 1. - Heaven on Earth.

Showing that believers may in this life attain unto a well-grounded assurance of their everlasting happiness and blessedness. By the following ten arguments it will evidently appear, that believers may in this life attain unto a well-grounded assurance of their everlasting happiness and blessedness.

First, The GROUND on which the apostle Paul builds his assurance, is not any special revelation—but such a foundation as is common to all believers, as clearly appears from Rom 8:32-34, "He who did not spare his own Son—but gave him up for us all--how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died--more than that, who was raised to life--is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us."

It is clear from these words, that this blessed apostle had not that glorious assurance that he speaks of in the two last verses of this chapter [Rom 8:38-39] by immediate revelation, for he concludes it from such arguments as are general or common to all the godly; and therefore it roundly follows,

First, That believers may in this life attain unto a well-grounded assurance of their everlasting happiness and blessedness. So Hezekiah's assurance did spring from a principle which is common to all believers, 2 Kings 20:3. Consequently,

Secondly, It is the very scope and end of the Scripture to help believers to a well-grounded assurance of their everlasting happiness and blessedness. "These things," says John, "have I written unto you who believe on the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life," 1 John 5:13. These precious souls did believe, and they had eternal life, in respect of the promise of eternal life, Titus 1:2, and in respect of Christ their head, who had taken up their rooms aforehand in heaven, and who as a public person does represent all his people, Eph 2:6; and they had eternal life in respect of the beginnings of it; for what is gracebut glory begun? and what is glory but grace perfected? Grace is glory in the bud, and glory is grace at the full. Now, though they had eternal life in all these respects, yet they did not know it; though they did believe, yet they did not believe that they did believe; therefore the apostle, in those precious epistles of his, does make it his business, by variety and plenty of arguments, to help all—but especially such as are weak in the faith, to a well-grounded assurance of their eternal welfare. Surely glory is nothing else but a bright constellation of graces; happiness is nothing but the quintessence of holiness.

Assurance produces such strong consolations, as swallows up all worldly griefs. As Moses' serpent did the sorcerers' serpents, or as the fire does the fuel.

It is the very drift and design of the whole Scripture, to bring souls first to an acquaintance with Christ, and then to an acceptance of Christ, and then to build them up in a sweet assurance of their actual interest in Christ: which made Luther to say, "That he would not live in paradise, if he might, without the word—but with the word he could live in hell itself." Gregory calls the Scripture, the heart and soul of God. No histories are comparable to the histories of the Scripture for,

  1. Antiquity; 
  2. rarity; 
  3. variety; 
  4. brevity; 
  5. perspicuity; 
  6. harmony; 
  7. verity.

The word evidences truth, it unmasks falsehood; it fights against folly, it opens the God's heart of mercy, and it assures believing souls of eternal felicity. That is a precious word in Hebrews 6:18, "God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope offered to us may be greatly encouraged." God has given us his word, his oath, his seal, that our consolation may be strong, and that our salvation may be sure.

Now, what comfort can a believer have without assurance? It is the assurance of my interest in the land of Canaan, in gospel cordials, in precious promises, and in a precious Christ, which comforts and delights my soul. It is not enough to raise strong consolation in my soul, barely to know that there are mines of gold, mountains of pearl, heaps of treasures, a land flowing with milk and honey; but it is the knowledge of my personal interest in these, which raises joy in my soul. To know that there are such things, and that I have no interest in them, is rather a vexation than a consolation to me. To know that there is a feast of choicest delicacies—but not a taste for me; that there are pleasant fountains and streams—but I must perish for thirst in a wilderness; to know that there are royal robes for such and such—but I must die in my rags; to know that there is a pardon for such and such—but I must be turned off the ladder of life; to know that there is eternal glory for such and such—but I must still lie with Lazarus at Dives' door; such knowledge as this may well add to my vexation—but it will not add to my consolation.

It was rather matter of sorrow than joy to the men of the old world, to know that there was an ark, when they were shut out; and to the Israelites, to know that there was a brazen serpent set up, whereby others were cured, when they died with the stinging of the fiery serpents. Spira cried out, 'Christ is to me a grief, a torment, because I despised him, I rejected him, and I have no part in him.'

So how can it comfort me to know that there is peace in Christ, and pardon in Christ, and righteousness in Christ, and riches in Christ, and happiness in Christ, etc., for others—but none for me! Ah, this knowledge will rather be a hell to torment me than a ground of joy and comfort to me. But now God has in the Scripture discovered who they are that shall be eternally happy, and how they may reach to an assurance of their felicity and glory; which made Luther to say, "That he would not take all the world for one leaf of the Bible." The Bible is a Christian's magna charta, his chief evidence for heaven. Men highly prize, and carefully keep their charters, privileges, conveyances, and assurances of their lands; and shall not the saints much more highly prize, and carefully keep in the closet of their hearts, the precious word of God, which is to them instead of all assurances for their maintenance, deliverance, protection, confirmation, consolation, and eternal salvation.

Thirdly, Other believers have in an ordinary way attained to a sweet assurance of their everlasting happiness and blessedness. "We know," says the apostle, in the name of the saints, "that, if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven," 2 Cor 5:1-2. Their assurance sets them in triumph upon the throne. We have a house, a house above, a house in heaven, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. We have a house, a heavenly house, a house made by the greatest wisdom and the highest love; a house, that for honor, pleasures, riches, safety, stability, glory, and perpetuity, transcends all the royal palaces in the world. It is a house "not made with hands—but eternal in the heavens."

So the church: Solomon's Song 2:16, "My beloved is mine, and I am his." I know, says the spouse, that Jesus Christ is mine. I can with the greatest confidence and boldness affirm it: he is my head, my husband, my Lord, my Redeemer, my Justifier, my Savior; "and I am his. I am as sure that I am his, as I am sure that I live. I am his by purchase, and I am his by conquest; I am his by donation, and I am his by election; I am his by covenant, and I am his by marriage. I am wholly his; I am peculiarly his; I am universally his; I am eternally his. This I well know, and the knowledge thereof is my joy in life, and my strength and crown in death. [Eph 1:22-23; 1 Cor 1:30; 1 Cor 6:20; Psalm 110:3; John 10:29; John 15:16; Ezek 16:8; Hos 2:19-20]

So the church: Isa 63:16, "You, Lord, are our Father; from ancient times, Your name is our Redeemer." David could say, "The Lord is my portion forever," Psalm 73:25-26; and at another time he could sweetly sing it out, "I am yours, save me!" Psalm 119:94. Job could look through the darkest cloud, and see that his Redeemer lives, Job 19:25. Thomas cries out, "My Lord, and my God!" John 20:28. And Paul trumpets it out, "That nothing could separate him from the love of Christ," Rom 8:38-39; and that he had "fought a good fight, and finished his course; and that there was laid up for him a crown of righteousness," 2 Tim 4:7-8.

By what has been said, it clearly appears that other believers have obtained assurance in an ordinary way, and therefore believers now may attain to a sweet assurance of their everlasting happiness and blessedness. Certainly, God is as loving, and his affections of compassion are as strong towards believers now, as ever they were to believers of old; and it makes as much for the honor of God, the lifting up of Christ, the stopping of the mouths of the wicked, and the rejoicing of the hearts of the righteous—for God to give assurance now, as it did for God to give it then.

Fourthly, God has by promise engaged himself to assure his people of their happiness and blessedness. "The Lord will give grace and glory, and no good thing will he withhold from those who walk uprightly," Psalm 84:11. If he will withhold no good thing, then certainly he will not always withhold assurance, which is the great good thing, the only thing, the chief thing, the peculiar thing that believers seek after. So Ezek 34:30-31, "Thus shall they know that I the Lord their God am with them, and that they, even the house of Israel, are my people, says the Lord God. And you my flock, the flock of my pasture, are men, and I am your God, says the Lord God." So John 14:21,23, "He who has my commandments, and keeps them, he it is who loves me; and he who loves me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him." "If any man loves me," says Christ, "he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him." Now has the Lord spoken it, and shall it not come to pass? Men say and unsay, they eat their words as soon as they have spoken them—but will God do so? Surely not! He is faithful, who has promised, "All the promises of God in him are yes, and in him amen," 2 Cor 1:20; that is, they are stable and firm, and shall really be made good. The promises are a precious book, every leaf drops myrrh and mercy, therefore sit down and suck at these breasts, warm yourself at this fire. [Isa 64:4; 1 Cor 2:9; Psalm 21:3; Isa 65:24]

God has been always as good as his word, yes, he has sometimes been better than his word; he has ever performed, and he has over performed. He promised the children of Israel only the land of Canaan—but he gave them, besides the whole land of Canaan, two other kingdoms which he never promised, Ah! how often has God blessed us with his bounties, and has given us in such mercies as have been as far beyond our hopes as our deserts. How has God, in these days of darkness and blood, gone beyond the prayers, desires, hopes, and confidences of his people in this land, and beyond what we could read in the book of the promises.

Satan promises the best—but pays with the worst! He promises honor—and pays with disgrace; he promises pleasure—and pays with pain; he promises profit—and pays with loss; he promises life—and pays with death. But God pays as he promises, all his payments are made in pure gold; therefore take these promises wherein God has engaged himself to assure you of his love, and spread them before the Lord, and tell him that it makes as well for his honor as your comfort, for his glory as for your peace, that he should assure you of your everlasting happiness and blessedness.

Fifthly, There is in all the saints the springs of assurance, and therefore they may attain to assurance.

Precious FAITH is one spring of assurance, and this is in all the saints, though in different degrees, 2 Pet 1:1. "Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them who have obtained like precious faith with us, through the righteousness of God, and our Savior Jesus Christ." Faith in time will, of its own accord, raise and advance itself to assurance. Faith is an appropriating grace; it looks upon God, and says with David, "This God is my God forever and ever, and he shall be my guide unto the death," Psalm 48:14. It looks upon Christ, and says with the spouse, "I am my beloved's, and his desire is towards me," Song 7:10. It looks upon animmortal crown, and says with Paul, Henceforth is laid up for me a crown of glory," 2 Tim 4:8. It looks upon the righteousness of Christ, and says, "This righteousness is mine to cover me." It looks upon the mercy of Christ, and says, "This mercy is mine to pardon me." It looks upon the power of Christ, and says, "This power is mine to support me." It looks upon the wisdom of Christ, and says, "This wisdom is mine to direct me." It looks upon the blood of Christ, and says, "This blood is mine to save me," etc. I may say of faith, as Luther says of prayer: it has a kind of omnipotency in it, it is able to do all things.

As faith, so HOPE is another spring of assurance. Col 1:27, "Christ in you," says Paul, "the hope of glory." So Heb 6:19, "We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain." Hope takes fast hold upon heaven itself, upon the holy of holies. A Christian's hope is not like that of Pandora, which may fly out of the box, and bid the soul farewell, as the hope of hypocrites do; no, it is like the morning light, the least beam of it shall commence into a complete sunshine; it shall shine brighter and brighter until perfect day. The hypocrite's hope is like the morning dew, Job 8:13-14, "the hope of the godless will perish. His source of confidence is fragile; what he trusts in is a spider’s web."

When Alexander went upon a hopeful expedition, he gave away his gold; and when he was asked what he kept for himself, he answered, 'the hope of greater and better things.' So a Christian will part with anything rather than with his hope; he knows that hope will keep the heart both from aching and breaking, from fainting and sinking; he knows that hope is a beam of God, a spark of glory, and that nothing shall extinguish it until the soul is filled with glory. Souls which are big in hope, will not be long without sweet assurance. God loves not to see the hoping soul go always up and down sighing and mourning for lack of a good word from heaven, for lack of possessing what it hopes in time to enjoy. Hold out hope and patience "a little longer, and he who has promised to come, will come, and will not tarry," Heb 10:37.

Again, A GOOD CONSCIENCE is another spring of assurance: 2 Cor 1:12, "For our rejoicing is this—Our conscience testifies that we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially in our relations with you, in the holiness and sincerity that are from God. We have done so not according to worldly wisdom but according to God's grace." So 1 John 3:21, "Beloved, if our heart condemns us not, then have we confidence towards God." A good conscience has sure confidence; he who has it sits, Noah-like, in the midst of all disruptions and turmoils, in sincerity and serenity, uprightness and boldness. A good conscience and a good confidence go together.

What the probationer-disciple said to our Savior, Matt 8:19, "Master, I will follow you wherever you go," that a good conscience says to the believing soul—"I will follow you from duty to duty, from ordinance to ordinance; I will stand by you, I will strengthen you, I will uphold you, I will be a comfort to you in life, and a friend to you in death; though all should leave you, yet I will never forsake you." A good conscience will look through the blackest clouds, and see a smiling God.Look! as an evil conscience is attended with the greatest fears and doubts, so a good conscience is attended with the greatest clearness and sweetness. And as there is no hell in this world compared to an evil conscience; so there is no heaven in this world compared to a good conscience. He who has a good conscience has one of the choicest springs of assurance, and it will not be long before God will whisper such a man in the ear, and say unto him, "Son, be of good cheer, your sins are forgiven!" Matt 9:2.

Again, real LOVE TO THE SAINTS is another spring of assurance, and this spring is a never-failing spring. This spring is in the weakest as well as in the strongest saints: 1 John 3:14, "We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He who loves not his brother abides in death." The apostle does not say, We think, we hope, etc., that we are translated from death to life—but "we know" that we are translated from death to life, because we love the brethren. We know certainly; we are as certain of it as we are certain that we live. Love to the brethren is not the cause of our passing from a natural state to a spiritual state, from hell to heaven—but an evidence thereof. I confess it is very sad to consider how this precious stream of love is even dried up in many.

It was accustomed to be a proverb, 'one man is a God to another;' but now it may be truly said, 'one man is a devil to another.' He who lacks love to his brethren, lacks one of the sweetest springs from whence assurance flows. A greater hell I would not wish any man, than to live and not to love the beloved of God.

Now is it not as easy a thing as it is pleasant—for a man who has several sweet springs in his garden, to sit down, draw water, and drink? John 4:14. O believing souls! there are springs, there are wells of living water not only near you—but in you; why, then, do you, with Hagar, sit down sorrowing and weeping, Gen 21:15-19, when you should be a-tasting or a drinking not only of the springs above you—but also of the springs within you? A man who has fruit in his garden may both delight his eye and refresh his spirit with tasting of it, Gal 5:22-23. Certainly we may both eye and taste the fruits of the Spirit in us, they being the first fruits of eternal life. I think none but mad souls will say that grace is that forbidden fruit that God would have us neither see nor taste. We ought not so to mind a Christ in heaven, as not to mind "Christ in us the hope of glory," Col 1:27. Christ would not have his spouse so to mind her own blackness, as to forget that she is all fair and glorious within, Song 1:5; Song 4:7, and Psalm 45:11.

Sixthly, 

The Holy Spirit exhorts us "to give all diligence to make our calling and election sure" 2 Pet 1:10, and presses us to look to the obtaining of a "full assurance." Therefore believers may attain unto an assurance of their everlasting happiness and blessedness: "Therefore brethren," says the apostle, "give diligence to make your calling and election sure; for if you do these things, you shall never fall." The Greek word translated "give diligence" signifies two things: (1.) All possible haste and speed; (2.) All manner of seriousness and intention in doing. Make it your main business, your chief study, your greatest care, to "make your calling and election sure," says the apostle. When this is done, your all is done. Until this is done, there is nothing done. And to show the necessity, utility, excellency, and possibility of assurance, the apostle says it is the one thing necessary; it is of an internal and eternal concern to make firm and sure work for your souls.

Assurance is a jewel of that worth, a pearl of that price, that he who will have it must work, and sweat, and weep, and wait to obtain it. He must not only use diligence—but he must use all diligence; not only dig—but he must dig deep, before he can come to this golden mine. Assurance is that "white stone," that "new name," that hidden manna, which none can obtain but such as labor for it as for life. Assurance is such precious gold, that a man must win it before he can wear it. Win gold, and wear gold, is the language both of heaven and earth.

The riches, honors, languages, and favors of this world cannot be obtained without much trouble and effort, without rising early and going to bed late; and do you think that assurance, which is more worth than heaven and earth, can be obtained by cold, lazy, heartless services? [Psalm 127:1-2; Luke 5:6; Prov 14:23] If you do, you do but deceive your own souls. There are five things that God will never sell at a cheap rate: Christ, truth, his honor, heaven, and assurance. He who will have these must pay a good price for them, or go forever without them.

And as Peter exhorts you to "give all diligence to make your calling and election sure," so Paul presses you to look to the obtaining of full assurance, which does clearly evidence that there is a possibility of attaining unto a full assurance of our happiness and blessedness in this life. And "we desire," says the apostle, "that everyone of you do show the same diligence, to the full assurance of hope unto the end, that you be not slothful—but followers of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises," Heb 6:11-12. We must not only strive after assurance—but we must strive and show all diligence to the attaining of that rich and full assurance which will scatter all fears and doubts, which will make a soul patient in waiting, courageous in doing, and cheerful in suffering, and which will make a heaven in a man's heart on this side heaven, and make him go singing into paradise, despite all of life's calamities and miseries.

And certainly it can never stand with the holiness, righteousness, faithfulness, and goodness of God, to put his people upon making their calling and election sure, and upon obtaining full assurance, if there were not a possibility of obtaining a full and well-grounded assurance of their happiness and blessedness in this life; and therefore it does undeniably follow that they may attain unto a blessed assurance of their felicity and glory while they are in this valley of misery. The contrary opinion will make a man's life a hell here, though he should escape a hell hereafter.

Seventhly, The Lord has, in much mercy and love, propounded in his word the ways and means whereby believers may obtain a well-grounded assurance of their everlasting happiness and blessedness; and therefore it may be obtained. Take three scriptures to evidence this.

The first is in 2 Pet 1:13. If you turn to the words, you shall find that the Lord does not only press them to "give all diligence to make their calling and election sure;" but he shows them plainly the way and means whereby this may be done, namely, by adding "to your faith virtue, and to virtue knowledge," etc.

The second scripture is that 1 Cor 11:28, "But let a man examine himself; and so let eat of that bread, and drink of that cup." By examination the soul comes to see what right it has to Christ and all the precious things of his house; and believingly to eat so of that bread of life, that heavenly manna, as that it may live forever.

The third scripture is that 2 Cor 13:5, "Examine yourselves whether you be in the faith; prove yourselves; know you not your own selves how that Christ is in you, except you be reprobates?" or unapproved, or rejected. By a serious examination of a man's own estate, he may know whether he has faith or not, whether he is Christ's spouse or the devil's strumpet, whether there be a work of grace upon his heart or not. And certainly it cannot stand with the glorious wisdom, unspotted righteousness; and transcendent holiness of God, to put men upon the use of such and such means in order to the obtaining of such and such an end, if that end could not be obtained by the use of the means prescribed, Exod 15:11, "Lord, who is like You among the gods? Who is like You, glorious in holiness, revered with praises, performing wonders?"

Man, who has but a spark of that wisdom, righteousness, and holiness which is in God, will not not labor to use of such or such means for the obtaining of health, wealth, or the like—unless there is a proper tendency in the use of those means prescribed to reach such ends. [cf. Job 38:6,18,21,33] And will God, who is wisdom, righteousness, and holiness in the abstract? Surely not! God is one infinite perfection in himself—which is eminently and virtually all perfections of the creatures; and therefore it is impossible that God should act below the creature, which he should do if he would put the creature upon the use of those means that would not reach the ends for which the means were used.

Thus you see clearly by this seventh argument that believers may in this life attain to a well-grounded assurance of their everlasting happiness and blessedness.

Eighthly, It was the principal end of Christ's institution of the sacrament of the Supper that he might assure them of his love, and that he might seal up to them the forgiveness of their sins, the acceptance of their persons, and the salvation of their souls, Matt 26:27-28. The nature of a seal is to make things sure and firm among men; so the supper of the Lord is Christ's broad seal, it is Christ's privy-seal, whereby he seals and assures his people that they are happy here, that they shall be more happy hereafter, that they are everlastingly chosen and beloved of God, that his heart is set upon them, that their names are written in the book of life, that there is laid up for them a crown of righteousness, and that nothing shall be able to separate them from him who is their light, their life, their crown, their all in all. [Dan 6:8; Matt 27:66; 2 Tim 4:8; Col 3:11]

In this sacrament Christ comes forth and shows his love, his heart, his affections, his blood—that his children may no longer say, Does the Lord Jesus love us? does he delight in us? etc.; but that they may say with the spouse, "I am my beloved's, and his desire is towards me," Song 7:10. The Hebrew word signifies, 'His desirous affection is towards me, as the wife's greatest affection is towards her dear husband.'

Many precious Christians there are who have lain long under fears and doubts, sighing and mourning; who have run from minister to minister, and from one duty to another, etc., and yet could never be persuaded of the love of Christ to their poor souls; but still their fears and doubts have followed them, until they have waited upon the Lord in this glorious ordinance, by which the Lord has assured them of the remission of their sins, and the salvation of their souls. In this ordinance God has given them manna to eat, and a white stone, and new name, which no man knows but he who receives it, Rev 2:17. Tell me, you precious, believing souls, whether you have not found God in this ordinance often whispering of you in the ear, saying, "Sons and daughters, be of good cheer, your sins are forgiven!" Matt 9:2. I know you have.

Those scriptures that do expressly require saints to be abundant and constant in rejoicing and in praising of God, to have always harps in their hands, and hallelujahs in their mouths, do clearly evidence that believers may attain to a well-grounded assurance in this life. How can they rejoice and glory in God, that do not know whether he will be an everlasting friend—or an everlasting enemy to them, whether he will always breathe out love—or wrath upon them? How can they but hang their harps on the willows, who do not know but that they may live in a strange land, Psalm 137:2; yes, in a land of darkness all their days? How can they be cheerful or thankful, who do not know but that they may at last hear that heartbreaking, that conscience-wounding, that soul-slaying sentence, "Depart from me, you cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels!" Matt 25:41.

Now, there is no duty in the whole book of God that is more frequently and abundantly pressed upon believers than this of joy and rejoicing, of praise and thanksgiving, as all know who know anything of the Scripture: 1 Thess 5:16, "Rejoice evermore." God would not have his children always a-putting finger in the eye. Ah, Christians! remember what Christ has done for you, and what he is still a-doing for you in heaven, and what he will do for you to all eternity—and you will not be able to spend your days in whining and mourning. It would be an endless business to cite every scripture wherein this duty is enjoined. It is a duty that is much pressed in both Testaments, and as little practiced by all whimpering Christians.

Psalm 32:11, "Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice, you righteous; and shout for joy, all you who are upright in heart." Psalm 33:1, "Rejoice in the Lord, O you righteous; for praise is lovely for the upright." 'The word notes a fair and lovely grace, for which a thing is to be liked and desired.' Ainsworth.

Christians, are not your mercies greater than your miseries? Yes! Are your greatest sufferings comparable to the least spark of grace or beam of glory revealed in you or to you? No! Will not one hour's being in the bosom of Christ recompense you for all your trouble and travail? Yes. Why, then, do you spend more time in sighing than in rejoicing; and why do you, by your not rejoicing, sadden those precious hearts that God would not have saddened, and gladden those graceless hearts that God would not have gladdened? Their joy lasts forever, whose object of joy remains forever.

A beautiful face is at all times pleasing to the eye—but then especially when there is joy manifested in the countenance. Joy in the face puts a new beauty, and makes that which before was beautiful, to be exceeding beautiful. It puts a luster and glory upon beauty; so does joy in the face, heart, and life of a Christian, cast a general splendor and glory upon him, and the ways of God wherein he walks. The joy of the Lord is not only the strength—but also the beauty and glory of Christians, Neh 8:10.

Joy and rejoicing is a consequence and effect of assurance, as many believers by experience find; and therefore, without all question, believers may attain unto a well-grounded assurance of their everlasting happiness, else it would be impossible that they should "rejoice evermore;" so that by this argument, as by the former, it clearly appears that believers may in this life be assured of their eternal well being. Katherine Brettergh, under the power of assurance, cries out, "Oh the joys, the joys, the inconceivable joys my heart is filled with!"

Tenthly, The tenth and last argument, to prove that believers may in this life attain to a well-grounded assurance, is this, That God would never have made such a broad difference in the Scripture between the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent, between the righteous and the wicked, between saints and sinners, between sons and slaves, sheep and goats, between lions and lambs, between wheat and chaff, light and darkness, etc., if it were impossible for men to know which of these two estates they are in. [Gen 3:15; Ezek 18:19, seq.; Matt 25:1, seq.; Matt 3:12; 2 Cor 6:14] Therefore they may know whether they are in a state of life or in a state of death, in a state of misery or in a state of felicity, in a state of wrath or in a state of love, Matt 13:1, seq.

Oh! it is much below the grace of God, it is repugnant to the wisdom of God, to make such a wide difference between his own children and Satan's, John 8:44, if it were not possible for every child to know his own father. "You shall call me my father." Isa 63:16, "Doubtless You are our Father, even though Abraham does not know us and Israel doesn’t recognize us. You, Lord, are our Father; from ancient times, Your name is our Redeemer." The saints' motto is, 'No father is like our Father!' The weakest saint can say, "Abba, Father!" Rom 8:15; the Lord will not leave his children comfortless, or as orphans, or fatherless children, as it is in the Greek. God has no child so young—but can more or less call him Father. Though the salvation of believers does not depend upon their knowledge of God to be their father, yet their consolation does; therefore the Lord will not be only a father to Israel—but he will make Israel know that he is his father: Jer 3:4, "Will you not from this time cry unto me, My Father, you are the guide of my youth?" We say he is a wise child, who knows his father; such wise ones believers are.

By these ten arguments it does evidently appear, that believers may in this life attain unto a well-grounded assurance of their everlasting happiness and blessedness. I shall apply this a little, and then close up this chapter.

USE. This precious truth thus proved, looks sourly upon all those who affirm that believers cannot in this life attain unto a certain well-grounded assurance of their everlasting happiness and blessedness—as papists and Arminians: all know that their writings and teachings, are in arms against this Christ-exalting, and soul-cheering doctrine of assurance. "I know no such thing as assurance of heaven in this life," says Grevinchovius the Arminian. Assurance is a pearl that they trample under feet; it is a beam of heaven that has so much light, brightness, and shining glory in it, that their bleary eyes cannot behold it.

Assurance is glory in the bud, it is the suburbs of paradise, it is a cluster of the land of promise, it is a spark of God, it is the joy and crown of a Christian; the greater is their impiety and folly who deny assurance, who cry down assurance under any names or notions whatever. They are rather tormenters than comforters who say, 'poor souls may know that there is a crown of righteousness—but they must not presume to know that they themselves shall have the honor to wear that crown; and that makes God like King Xerxes, who crowned his helmsman in the morning, and beheaded him in the evening of the same day.

Arminians are not ashamed to say, that God may crown a man one hour, and uncrown him in the next; they blush not to say that a man may be happy and miserable, under love and under wrath, an heir of heaven and a firebrand of hell, a child of light and a child of darkness—and all in an hour. Oh what miserable comforters are these! What is this but to torment the weary soul? to dispirit the wounded spirit, and to make them most sad whom God would have most glad? Ah! how sad is it for men to affirm, that wounded spirits may know "that the Sun of righteousness has healing in his wings," Mal 4:2; but they cannot be assured that they shall be healed. The hungry soul may know that there is bread enough in his Father's house—but cannot know that he shall taste of that bread, Luke 15:17. The naked soul may know that Christ has robes of righteousness to cover all spots, sores, defects, and deformities of it—but may not presume to know that Christ will put these royal robes upon it, Rev 3:18. The impoverished soul may know that there be unsearchable riches in Christ—but cannot be assured that ever it shall partake of those riches, Eph 3:8. All that these men allow poor souls, is guesses and conjectures that it may be well with them. They will not allow souls to say with Thomas, "My Lord, and my God," John 20:18; nor with Job to say, "My Redeemer lives," Job 19:25; nor with the church, "I am my beloved's, and his desire is towards me," Song 7:10. And so they leave souls in a cloudy, questioning, doubting, hovering condition, hanging, like Mahomet's tomb at Mecca, between two loadstones; or like Erasmus, as the papists paint him, hanging between heaven and hell. They make the poor soul a terror to itself.

What more uncomfortable doctrine than this? What more soul-disquieting, and soul-unsettling doctrine than this? You are this moment in a state of spiritual life—you may the next moment be in a state of spiritual death; you are now gracious—you may the next hour be graceless; you are now in the promised land—yet you may die in the wilderness; you are today a habitation for God—you may tomorrow be a synagogue of Satan; you have today received the white stone of absolution—you may tomorrow receive the black stone of condemnation; you are now in your Savior's arms—you may tomorrow be in Satan's paws; you are now Christ's freeman—you may tomorrow be Satan's bondman; you are now a vessel of honor—you may suddenly become a vessel of wrath; you are now greatly beloved, you may soon be as greatly loathed; this day your name is fairly written in the book of life—tomorrow the book may be crossed out, and your name blotted out forever. This is the Arminians' doctrine, and if this be not to keep souls in a doubting and trembling, and shivering condition, what is it?

Well, Christians, remember this is your happiness and blessedness, that "none can pluck you out of your Father's hand," John 10:29; that you are "kept," as in a garrison, or as with a guard, "by the power of God through faith unto salvation," 1 Pet 1:5. "That the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but the kindness of the Lord shall not depart from you, neither shall the covenant of peace be removed, says the Lord that has mercy on you," Isa 54:10. "That Christ ever lives to make intercession for you," Heb 7:25; and that men and devils are as able, and shall as soon, make a world, dethrone God, pluck the sun out of the firmament, and Christ out of the bosom of the Father—as they shall pluck a believer out of the everlasting arms of Christ, or rob him of one of his precious jewels! Deut 33:26-27.

I shall close up this chapter with an excellent saying of Luther: "The whole Scripture," says he, "Both principally aim at this thing, that we should not doubt—but that we should hope, that we should trust, that we should believe, that God is a merciful, a bountiful, a gracious, and a patient God to his people."

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