RPM, Volume 18, Number 44, October 23 to October 29, 2016

Sermons on John 17

Sermon XLIV

By Thomas Manton

And I have declared unto them thy name, and mil declare it; that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them.—John 17:26.

This is the second reason, taken from the benefits Christ had bestowed upon them. Here is his gift and his aim. In the first, what he had done, what he will do. Where—(1.) Quid, the manifestation of his Father's name; (2.) Quibus, to whom, principally to the apostles, and from them to believers; (3.) Quomodo, 'I have.' that is, by his ministry upon earth; and 'I will,' in the pouring out the Spirit, and his discourses with them after the resurrection. All that needeth explication is, What is meant by God's name? Ans. The use of names from the beginning was a distinction to separate creature from creature by their appellations. At first Adam gave names to the beasts, that their species and kinds might be distinguished, for beasts are distinguished only by their herds and kinds. But the names which men bear are individual and particular; man being an excellent creature, made for rule and commerce, and therefore is to be known not by his kind, but name. But now, what is God's name? Where there are many, there is need of names; but where there is but one, the singularity is distinction enough. But yet God hath his name, by way of distinction from creatures; so we have a negative name, removing the imperfections of the creature, and to distinguish him from those \~legomenoi\~ \~yeoi\~, gods that are so called. And his name is a jealous God: Exod. xxxiv. 14, 'For thou shalt worship no other God; for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.' And by way of notification, that we may conceive of him aright, as names are not only distinctive, but \~dhlwtika\~ \~twn\~ \~ptongmatwn\~, as Damascena So all that by which he is known or distinguished, that is his name; and so God hath many names, because one cannot enough express him. His works are a part of his name, but chiefly his word, the doctrine concerning his essence and will: Ps. cxxxviii. 2, 'Thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name;' there he hath made himself most known. In creation and providence we may read much of God, but in the bible more; and chiefly his word of promise and covenant, which is that theatre upon which his mercy and truth is discovered, which is the representation wherein God delighteth. And again, the covenant, as it is revealed in the gospel, is a chief part of his name, for his name was secret before the New Testament dispensation was set afoot: Judges xiii. 18, 'Why askest thou thus after my name, seeing it is secret?' There was little known of the Trinity, of the Son of God, the incarnation of the Son of God, &c.

First point, That one great privilege of the gospel is to know God by his right name.

1. I shall show you how God's name and title hath been often changed and altered, because he would acquaint his people with his full name by degrees: Exod. vi. 3, 'I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by the name of God Almighty, but by my name jehovah was I not known to them.' First to Ahrabam, to distinguish him from idols and false gods, El Shaddai; then 'Jehovah,' as giving being to his people, making good his promises; after, 'God of Abraham, God of Isaac, and God of Jacob,' as relating more to the covenant; then,' God that brought them out of the land of Egypt,' Exod. xx. 2; then, 'God that brought them out of the land of the north;' then,' the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ;' before that, 'the Lord our righteousness,' Jer. xxiii. 6. The Jewish church knew little of the doctrine of the Trinity, distinction of the persons, quality of the mediator. God proclaimed his name: Exod. xxxiv. 6, 7, 'The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity, and transgression and sin. But the way of pardon was not then so fully discovered. Some names God hath from everlasting, as Eternal, Infinite; some relate to the present state, as Creator, Lord, God in covenant, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

2. What the gospel especially doth discover more of God.

[1.] The distinction of the persons in the Godhead. At the baptism of Christ the whole Trinity was sensibly present; the Son in the body, the Father in the voice, and the Holy Ghost in the form of a dove. This was the mystery brought upon the stage.

[2.] The incarnation of Christ: 1 Tim. iii. 16, 'God manifest in the flesh.' The world was acquainted with this great help to piety. The Jews had a temple; here is a temple wherein the Godhead dwelleth bodily: Col. ii. 9, 'For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.'

[3.] The attributes of God are more amply declared. Every excellency of God hath its proper theatre where it is seen. In the gospel all are discovered, but chiefly mercy, justice, and truth. His power and his wisdom are seen in the world, but more in the gospel; the heavens do not declare half so much of the glory of God as the word and doctrine which Christ brought out of the Father's bosom: 1 Cor. i. 24, 'Christ the wisdom of God, and the power of God.' There is truth: 2 Cor. i. 20, 'For all the promises of God in him are Yea, and in him Amen.' The greatest assurance of his faithfulness was his sending Christ; that which we expect is nothing so difficult to believe as the incarnation of the Son of God; his second coming is not so unlikely as his first; if he came to suffer, and to purchase, he will come to reign. His wisdom in joining God and man together in the person of Christ, justice and mercy together, comfort and duty together in the covenant of grace; two natures, two attributes. God loseth no honour, [Pg. 133] man wanteth no encouragement God showeth his justice: Rom. iii. 26, 'To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness, that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.' While the sacrifices continued, God only showed patience and forbearance; his holiness and hatred of sin, by laying it on Christ, punishing it in Christ; his wrath, the most dreadful sight of God's wrath is upon Golgotha; God spared not his Son. But his grace, that was on the top: Titus iii. 4, 'But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour towards man appeared.' This is the attribute that beareth sway in the gospel. Mercy is in office ever since the fall; there was not so much kindness to man discovered in innocency; God did good to a good man, there was no mercy to enemies then; there man was made after God's image, here God is made after our image and likeness. Mercy and grace comes now to show itself to the world.

Use, Let us admire and study more the name of God in the gospel. The first letter of Christ's name is Wonderful. He is a mystery that is worthy our contemplation. The angels have known more of God since Christ was revealed: Eph. iii. 10, 'To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God.' Let it take up your thoughts, set your minds awork: Heb. iii. 1, 'Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the apostle and high priest of our profession, Jesus Christ.' There cannot be a more affective, humbling and heart-changing consideration.

Second point, That none can discover this name of God but Christ, none authoritatively, none perfectly.

1. None authoritatively can fix his name by which he shall be known among the creatures. The imposition of names implieth superiority; the less is named of the greater. Adam had this favour to name the beasts, as having authority over them: Gen. ii. 19,20, 'And out of the ground the Lord formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air, and brought them to Adam to see what he would call them, and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof. And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field.' Now God is over all, there is no higher to name him, therefore he nameth himself. Jesus Christ, who is the very image of God, he cometh and declareth his name: 'My name is in him,' Exod. xxiii. 21. He is God, and therefore authoritatively fixeth the name of God, establisheth the gospel as the rule and direction of the church.

2. None can so perfectly discover him. Our hearts are too narrow to conceive of God, and our tongues too weak to express him: Prov. xxx. 4, 'What is his name? and what is his Son's name? if thou canst tell.' Who knoweth his pedigree exactly? Who knoweth his being? Who hath been in his bosom to discover him, so as Christ hath done? We must have a borrowed light to see him.

Use 1. Sit down with this revelation which Christ hath left in the church; there is enough to instruct faith, though not to satisfy curiosity. In things not revealed, a simple nescience is better than a bold inquiry; there is enough for service and adoration. Let not reason prescribe to faith. He were not God if he were not incomprehensible. [Pg. 134] Should worms make their own apprehension the measure of divine truth? It is not so, because I cannot understand it; by a candle in the night, I cannot see it, therefore it is not. Some things are to be received from divine testimony, though we cannot fully conceive of them. Let us bless God for the word, and take heed unto it as to a light shining in a dark place. It is God's mercy that Christ came from heaven with a commission to discover so much to us. It is a ray of the face of God in Christ Here, is God's heart discovered to us, and our hearts to ourselves.

Use 2. When you consult with the gospel, make use of Christ. He is to discover his Father's name; he taught the gospel, not only on earth, but in heaven: 'I have declared thy name, and will declare it.' Non loquendum de Deo sine lumine. There is no saving knowledge of God from ourselves. Christ is called \~Logov\~, the interpreter of his Father's mind. It is dangerous to set upon the knowledge of the mystery of the gospel in the strength of our own gifts and parts, to rest merely on the study of books and human helps. The gospel is God's riddle, which none but himself can expound. Beg the Spirit of revelation; you cannot have a knowledge of it without a revelation from Christ We do not improve Christ's prophetical office so much as we should: we think he must pacify our consciences, subdue our affections; but we do not look after knowledge, but think to get it by our own industry.

Third point, Christ doth not convey all knowledge, or the full notice of God's name at once. The knowledge that is originally in Christ is not communicated to us but by degrees, that it may increase more, like the good householder, that brought out the best at last: John i. 50, 'Because I said unto thee, I saw thee under the fig-tree, believest thou? thou shalt see greater things than these.' Partly to keep up our dependence and respect, lest a satiety grow upon us. When there is no more use of a thing, then we contemn it Man is a creature that is led by hope rather than by memory. Still God keepeth the best till last; there is a perpetual use of Christ's prophetical office, that he may declare more. Partly to conform us to himself and to the church: 'Christ increased in wisdom and stature.' &c., Luke ii. 40, 52. His human capacity was enlarged by degrees. The church grew by degrees. There was a nonage; then it was 'the seed of the woman;' afterwards, 'in thy seed,' &c.; to 'Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.' Then it was told what tribe, 'The sceptre shall not depart from Judah,' Gen. xlix. 10; afterwards of what family, to David; that 'a virgin shall conceive, and shall bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel,' Isa vii. 14. At last, 'Behold the Lamb of God,' John i. 29. Partly that he might suit his dispensations to our capacity. God will not violate the course of nature. Our life is hidden in Christ. You do not teach university learning to a boy; Christ dealeth with us as we are capable, according to our receptivity: 'We are made meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light,' Col. i. 12.

Use 1. Comfort against present defects. Though you are ignorant of some mysteries of religion, do not despond; Christ doth not give you all at once. There is a double comfort; God will accept our weakness, and we have a head in whom is all fulness. As our life is [Pg. 135] hidden in Christ, so is our wisdom hidden. In the text you see Christ hath undertaken for our growth; we have a teacher that will carry us on from one degree of knowledge to another. Therefore let us not be discouraged, though we know little, and our parts be weak and insufficient

Use 2. It presseth us to grow in knowledge: 2 Peter in. 18, 'But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ' There is more to be learned. Do not say, I know as much as they can tell me; we never know so much but we may know more; there is no stint to knowledge. If there be a measure of grace beyond which we cannot pass, the apostle would not say,' Grow in grace and knowledge.' Therefore be conscionable and careful in the use of means. We must not rest in our low and imperfect measures, nor always keep to our A, B, C. We must grow till we come to heaven, and then there will be no more growing. A formal man is where he was (as a picture), doth not increase in stature. The way to keep what we have is to increase our store. Gifts that lie idle and inactive suffer loss and decay; an active nature, such as man's, must either grow worse or better. It is an ill sign when we are contented with a little. Light groweth to the perfection of glory; our reward is increased in the other world: Col. iii. 16, 'Let the word of God dwell in yon richly in all wisdom.' It is the worst of poverty to have a poor understanding. Grace is multiplied through knowledge: 2 Peter i. 2, 'Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord.'

Fourth point, Christ maketh one mercy to be the pledge of another. I have declared, and I will declare. He is never weary of well-doing; his love is infinite, and cannot be wearied, and his grace is infinite, and cannot be spent Men waste by giving, their drop is soon spent; but the oftener we come to God, the more welcome we are. Our faith is sooner tired than God's bounty, for he doth not waste by giving. I AM, is God's name; he is where he was at first, he is never at a loss; what he hath done, he can do, and will do: God's providence is new and fresh every morning: 'God is one,' Gal. iii. 21; he is always like himself. The creatures soon spend their allowance, but he is where he was at first. But it chiefly holdeth good in spiritual mercies; the least drop of saving grace is an immortal seed; it will grow, it will increase; it is a spark that cannot be quenched, it is the pledge of more grace. Therefore where Christ hath begun to work for thee in some sparks of saving grace and knowledge, he will go on in his work; where he is the Alpha, he will be the Omega; where he is an author, he will be a finisher: Heb. xii. 2, 'Looking unto Jesus, who is the author and finisher of our faith.' The apostle would have us confident of this: Phil. i. 6, 'Being confident of this very thing, that he that hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Christ.' God's first work is an earnest, and God will not lose his earnest; it is the very first-fruits of the Spirit, and he gives it as a pledge of more grace to follow.

'That the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them.' In the whole verse Christ showeth what he had done, what he would do, and with what aim. His end was twofold—to [Pg. 136] make way for application of God's love and his own presence as a vital principle in their hearts; God's love and union with himself. I snail speak now of the first. Whence

Observe, that one great end why God's name is manifested in the gospel is that his love may be in us.

First, I shall inquire what it is to have his love in us. I shall give you several observations upon the phrase.

1. Observe, 'That the love,' &c. He doth not say, that they may have pardon, sanctification, or grace, or comfort in them, but love in them. Obs. God's love in Christ is the ground of all other favours and graces whatsoever. The spring of all is love, and the conveyance is by union, which containeth two truths:

[1.] That all the goodness that is in us cometh from the love of God m Christ. We are loved into holiness, loved into pardon, loved into grace: Isa. xxxviii. 17, 'Thou hast in love to my soul delivered it from the pit of corruption.' or thou hast loved me from the pit He loved his church, and sanctified it: Eph. v. 25, 26, 'Christ loved the church, and gave himself for it, that he might sanctify and cleanse it it with the washing of water by the word; Rev. i. 5, 'To him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood.' Our holiness is not the cause of love, but the fruit and effect of it. There can be no other reason for anything we receive. So 2 Thee. ii. 16, 'Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God, even our Father, who hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting consolation, and good hope through grace,' Ac. There was no other cause, there could be no other cause; not necessity of nature, moral rule, or any former merit and kindness. Not necessity of nature; God hath always the same love; not bound by any external law and rule; who can prescribe to him? Not by any merit or debt, because of the eternity of his love, antecedent to all acts of the creature. There should be no other reason for the honour and majesty of God and our comfort

[2.] That we have not only the blessings and benefits, but the love itself: 1 John iii. 1, 'Behold what manner of love is this that the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God! Not showed us, but bestowed upon us. We have blessings from his heart, as well as his hand; by his blessings in us, his love is in us; we may gather thence that we are beloved of God, and no benefit is to be valued unless God's love be in it What good will the possession of all things do us if we have not God himself? The love is more to be valued than the gift, whatever it be. God giveth this love to none but special friends; he giveth his outward love to enemies. He accepteth not our duties unless our hearts be in them, and our love be in them; so we should not be satisfied till we can see love in the blessings that we receive from God, that they come from his heart as well as his hand. There are chastisements in love, and blessings given in anger, salted with a curse.

2. Observe, 'That the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them.' He had before said, 'Thou hast loved them as thou hast loved me;' now, 'Let this love be in them.' The love of God is sometimes said to be in Christ, sometimes in us. Sometimes in Christ: Rom. viii. 39, 'Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature shall be [Pg. 137] able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.' Sometimes in us: 1 John iv. 9, 'In this was manifested the love of Christ towards us,' \~h\~ \~agaph\~ \~tou\~ \~Cristou\~ \~en\~ \~hmin\~, 'because that God sent his only-begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.' We are the objects, and Christ is the ground. To make it sure, it is in Christ; and to make it sweet and comfortable, it is in us. God doth not love us in ourselves out of Christ; there would be no ground and reason for his love, but in Christ; and there is no eternal cause and reason why he should love us.

3. Observe, there is a love of God towards us, and a love of God in us. So Zanchy citing this text His love erga nos, towards us, is from all eternity; his love in nobis, in us, is in time. These differ; there was a love of God towards us, so he loved us in Christ before the foundation of the world, though we knew it not, felt it not. But now this love beginneth to be in us, when we receive the effects of it, and God breaketh open the sealed fountain: 1 John iv. 16, 'And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us.' And therefore it must be distinguished. God's love from everlasting was in purpose and decree, not actual: Rom. ix. 11, 'That the purpose of God according to election might stand.' So Eph. i. 11, 'Being predestinated according to the purpose of him that worketh all things after the counsel of his will.' We are loved from eternity, but not justified from eternity. Certainly the elect are in a different condition before and after calling: 1 Cor. vi. 11, 'Such were some of you, but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.' Secret things belong to God, but revealed things to us. Whatever thoughts God hath towards us, yet we know it not till his love be in us. We are to judge of our estates according to the law. It is true God is resolved not to prosecute his right against a sinner that is elect, but he is not actually acquitted from the sentence of the law till he actually believeth. We are not qualified to receive a legal discharge from the condemnation of the law till we be actually in Christ: Rom. viii. 1, 'There is no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus.' And whatever God's purposes may be towards us, we cannot but look upon ourselves as under a sentence of condemnation, and 'children of wrath,' Eph. ii. 3; that is the misery of our present estate. Before we know God as a Father in Christ, the love of God is towards us, but not in us.

4. Observe again, God's love is in us two ways—in the effects, and in the sense and feeling. These must be also distinguished; for God's love may be in us in regard of the effects, when it is not in us in regard of sense and feeling. It is in us in the effects of it at conversion, as soon as we begin to live in Christ Where Christ liveth and dwelleth in us by faith, the love of Christ is there too. His love may be in us in the sense and feeling when we have the assurance of it: Rom. v. 5, 'The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost, which he hath given to us,' that they may feel it in their hearts, that God loved them in Christ. There is the work of the Spirit, and the witness of the Spirit; both are intended in that expression; chiefly the latter, such a sense of God's love as stirreth up joy, and thankfulness, and hope. The precious ointment gave no savour while it was [Pg. 138] shut up in a box, till it was poured out; so God's lore, while it is kept secret, it yieldeth no reviving fragrancy. These two differ, for many have the effects of God's love, but not the sense; and the effects of love do always abide, for it is an immortal seed; but the sense of love is flitting and changeable. Nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ, yet the love of God in Christ is often beclouded, overcast, and interrupted; and some have more effects, though less sense; the most shining years are not always the most fruitful; a man may have greater increase of grace though less comfort Observe, for your comfort, that Christ prayeth for both; he hath prayed not only for grace, but for assurance, that we may feel ourselves beloved by the Father. The Lord delighteth not only to love us, but to assure us of his love. It is no comfort to a blind man to hear of a glorious sun or brave shows; he cannot see them. God would not leave us in the dark, but give us an experience of his love.

Secondly, How this ariseth from the manifestation of God's name in the gospel

1. The knowledge of God is a means to kindle our respects to God.

2. To convey the influence of his grace to us.

1. It is a means to kindle our respects to God; as trust: Ps. ix. 10, 'They that know thy name will put their trust in thee.' Men are ignorant of God's goodness, mercy, and truth, and therefore they make so little use of him. Usually fears are in the night; doubts come from ignorance of the tenor of the gospel. If we did believe those things to be true which are revealed concerning his mercy and love to sinners, we should trust in him. Fire once kindled would burst out of itself into a flame; so did we once savingly know God's name, there would be more trust and confidence in God: lea. 1.10, 'Who is among you that feareth the Lord, that obeyeth the voice of his servant, that walketh in darkness, and hath no light? let him trust in the name of the Lord, and stay upon his God.' We are overwhelmed with difficulties and straits, for want of studying God's name. So also for love: Cant i 3, 'Thy name is as ointment poured forth, therefore do the virgins love thee.' Ignoti nuUa cupido. Love springeth from knowledge. In the beams of the sun there is a mixture of warmth and light. We know not the gift of God, and therefore our bowels are not troubled. Did we but see him as he is, it would set us all on fire.

2. It is the means to convey all the influences of grace to us: 2 Peter i. 2, 'Grace and peace be multiplied unto you, through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord.' God worketh upon us as rational creatures, agreeably to an intelligent nature, and so nothing can be wrought unless knowledge go before. A house, the more the windows stand open the more it is filled with light; so the more knowledge, the more is the capacity of the soul enlarged to receive comfort and grace. Guilty nature is full of fears, more presagious of evil than of good, and therefore it must have clear grounds of comfort and hope. But you will say, How comes it to pass that persons of great knowledge want comfort, and have no sense of God's love? I answer—It is not the light of parts, but of the Spirit: 'I have declared.' &c. It is God's prerogative to settle the conscience: 'I create the fruit of [Pg. 139] the lips; peace, peace,' &c., Isa. lvii. 19. The gospel is a sovereign plaster, but God maketh it work. Our own thoughts do nothing, unless God put in with them.

Use 1. It informeth us of a double duty.

1. To study God's name. It would settle the conscience to meditate upon those declarations which Christ hath made of his will. Deep thoughts fasten things upon the Spirit, and musing maketh the fire to burn. How hath God declared himself? We may trust him upon his word: Ps. civ. 34, 'My meditation of him shall be sweet; I will be glad in the Lord.' We should oftener find sweetness if we did oftener meditate of God. It is sweet thus to enlarge our thoughts upon the promises and comforts of the gospel.

2. To apply it. When God's name is proclaimed and made known to thee, urge thy own soul with it: Rom. viii. 31,.' What shall we say to these things?' Job v. 27, 'Lo this, we have searched it, so it is, hear it, and Know thon it for thy good.' This is Christ's aim, that knowledge should beget love in them. Knowledge without application doth no good; we must take out our share. The riches of God's goodness are laid open to us for this end and purpose, that we may feel what is expressed: 'We have known and believed the love that God hath to us,' 1 John iv. 16. It is no presumption; it is the great end why the gospel was written. Wicked men are too forward and presumptuous of God's love; they continue their ungodly courses, do those things which offend him, and yet are persuaded that God loveth them. God's children pray against their sins, and fight against their sins, and yet after all cannot be persuaded of it. There is a fear of presumption, and a fear of security. (1.) A fear of presumption; as some say, I am not worthy; it is as if you should say, I am too poor to ask or receive an alms, too filthy to be washed: say not so, for this is the way to make you worthy. (2.) Of security; this is to say, If I take the physic, I shall be sick; whereas it is not by applying Christ that we are endangered, but by an insensibleness of our misery. If thou feelest thy misery, there is no danger of security; it is not everything will satisfy a sensible sinner, not every slight comfort.

Use 2. Examination, whether you have gotten benefit by the gospel. Is God's love in you? Have you any fruits or feeling of his love? Can you say God loveth you? All God's children cannot feel his love; but have you the fruits of his love? The feeling of his love is to be improved immediately to thankfulness, and the fruits of his love are to be improved by spiritual discourse to confidence. The present argument will afford us ground of search and inquiry.

1. Things without us are excluded, they can be no evidence or argument of God's love. It is love in them. It is the common error of the world to be led with false evidences. Many think God loveth them, because he spareth them, and followeth them with long-suffering and patience, and maketh them thrive in the world, and blesseth them with the increase and fatness of an outward portion. Ay! but love and hatred cannot be known by the things that are without us; it must be something within us must discover it, Eccles. ix. 2. All things come alike to all. Some are fatted to destruction, and condemned to worldly felicity, God will give them enough, Jer. xvii 13. [Pg. 140] 'All that forsake thee, shall be ashamed; and they that depart from me shall be written in the earth, because they have forsaken the Lord, the fountain of living waters.' Worldly happiness may be God's curse; they shall be written in the earth, they shall have happiness here, that have none hereafter. On the other hand, there are some whose names are written in heaven; and though they have little of outward comforts, yet that is matter of joy: Luke ix. 20, 'Bather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven.' We must have a better evidence than things without us before we can see our names in those eternal records, and be assured that God loves us. When God only gives things without yon, it is a sign yon are only hired servants. You have your reward, and are satisfied; and when yon die, your best days are at an end; there is no inheritance kept for yon; as Abraham gave Ishmael and the rest of the sons of the concubines gifts and portions, but he reserved the inheritance for Isaac. This is so far from an evidence of love, that it is rather a sign of hatred, if your hearts are herewith satisfied. Nay, as it excludes and cuts off all outward things, so it cute off all outward profession, as baptism and hearing of the word; for where the heart is not washed, baptism is but the monument of your unfaithfulness and breach of vows. And so for hearing of the word, it is but like Uriah's letters; he thought they contained matter of preferment, but when opened, they contained matter of danger, for he was to be set in the fore-front of the battle to be destroyed. So when you think to come to God with these pleasing excuses, it is matter of condemnation, because yon have heard so much, and profited nothing. Here is no evidence without yon of the love of God.

2. Things within are excluded. There are some moral inclinations, mere instincts of nature, which God hath left in men out of his common bounty and pity to human society: Rom. ii. 14, 15, 'For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves, which show the work of the law written in their hearts.' These moral inclinations, by which we avoid gross sins, are not an evidence of God's love Again, there are gifts for the use of the body. Hypocrites may have a great share in them. Achitophel and Saul had excellent gifts; but this is not an evidence of God's love. How did God love Christ? Herein was a great evidence of God's love to Christ; he loved him, and 'gave the Spirit to him without measure,' John iii. 33, 34. So we know his love by his Spirit, that he hath given to us to witness our justification, and to work our sanctification. The gift of the Spirit we may know by his witness, and by his work.

1. His witness. Hast thou a full testimony of thy adoption? Rom. viii. 16, 'The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirits that we are the children of God.' It is such a certainty as ariseth from gospel grounds, working joy and peace, stirring up to thankfulness and love to God, which yon have in God's way, by praying, reading, hearing, meditating. I confess there is something lower, that may be called the witness of the Spirit There are expressions and impressions. Have you not some secret impressions of confidence and liberty in prayer, and resolutions to wait upon God? Doth he not stir you up to cry, [Pg. 141] Abba Father, put you upon often calling upon God, and waiting upon God? There is something in your heart that carries you to God. These impressions are a kind of witness and testimony of the Spirit, though you have not those actual testimonies of God's favour.

2. His work. Have you the work of the Spirit? What is that? The work of the Spirit is to sanctify and cleanse: Eph. v. 25, 26, 'Christ loved the church, and gave himself for it, that he might sanctify and cleanse it' It is the greatest sign of God's anger and wrath that can be to live and die under the power of sin, not to be sanctified, not to be cleansed, not to be washed from sin. And therefore are you sanctified, cleansed, and washed? Rev. i. 5, 'To him that loved us. and washed us from our sins in his blood.' Is there any care of obedience stirred up in your hearts? The Spirit will cause us to grow in obedience: John xiv. 23, 'If a man love me, he will keep my words, and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.'

3. There is one thing more in the expression, 'that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them,' and that is, If God love thee, thou canst not but love him again: 1 John iv. 16, 'For we have known, and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love, and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.' If thou lovest God, his people, his ordinances, and delightest in communion with him, his love is in thee. These are the fruits and effects of it

Use 3. To press us to labour after the sense of his love. We should go to heaven as comfortably and as richly as we can; not only creep thither, but labour after 'an abundant entrance,' 2 Peter i. 12. Though it is not always our sin to want it, yet it is our duty to strive after this sense of God's love in us. The sense of God's love, it is the flame of faith: Gal. ii. 20, 'I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me; and the life which I live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.' It is the ground of our love to him again: 1 John iv. 19, 'We love him, because he first loved us.' The more full and direct the beams are cast upon any solid body, the stronger the reflection. It is the life of joy which enlargeth our hearts in thankfulness. It is our stay in afflictions, and our strength in duties, especially in prayer. How can we call God Father, unless in custom and hypocrisy, except we have some sense of our adoption? Therefore labour after the sense of his love, that it may be in you.

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