RPM, Volume 13, Number 27, July 3 to July 9, 2011

Heaven on Earth




By Thomas Brooks

Chapter 7

A serious discourse concerning a well-grounded assurance.

Assurance has amazing transforming powers.
It changes iron to gold, ignominies to crowns,
and all sufferings to delights!



  • Introduction
  • Chapter 1
  • Chapter 2
  • Chapter 3
  • Chapter 4
  • Chapter 5
  • Chapter 6
  • Chapter 7
  • Chapter 8

CHAPTER 7

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 18:2.

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 them.

(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 soul.

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 testimony.

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 monsters.

(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 Christ.

(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 word.

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 truths.

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.



This article is provided as a ministry of Third Millennium Ministries (Thirdmill). If you have a question about this article, please email our Theological Editor.

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