« AnteriorContinuar »
ASSURANCE OF SALVATION,
ISAIAH xii. 2.
Assure my conscience of her part
In the Redeemer's blood;
That I am born of God,
IF it be admitted that God hath wrought a salvation for sinners, then, it is as certainly consistent with his goodness to confer an assurance of that blessing, as it is necessary for their comfort to enjoy it. In our family discourses we are by no means disposed to controversy; else we might reply to those who inquire, Is assurance essential to faith? If it be essential to salvation? or, Whether a person may not go safely to heaven without such assurance ? All that I shall say is, if I entrust a man of veracity with my property, shall I not possess a degree of assurance of its safety ? Much more so, if I trust a God of never-failing faithfulness with the eternal concerns of my soul! The principal intent of this discourse is to show, that assurance is to be attained, and is very highly essential to the comfort of a Christian; and also, to attempt the encouragement of those who, by temptation and fear, hesitate to say, Behold! God is my
ASSURANCE, in scripture, is spoken of in three ways. Of the full assurance of understanding ; because the mind is clearly instructed in the great things of the Gos
pel. Of the full assurance of faith, because faith produces its own evidence in those who have it. Of the full assurance of hope, because hope is an anchor to the soul, both sure and steadfast, and entereth into that within the veil. But our present intention is to speak not of the degree, but simply of the assurance of salvation, let that degree be as small as it may. I shall show you, that God hath promised an assurance of salvation—that many have left their testimony of having enjoyed it-explain to you the ways by which it is produced and cherished--and in what manner, it will prove its.genuine nature. .
1. God hath promised, that his people shall know and be assured of their personal interest in his salvation. In various parts of the Scripture God hath disclosed the counsels of his heart, and the riches of his grace, in bringing his people into an assurance of their relation to him, in this most comprehensive and decisive declaration: I will be their God, and they shall be my people. This, if there were no other, is a sufficient warrant for the exercise of faith to produce an assurance of reconciliation and union with God. But the Lord hath granted us other promises of experiencing an interest in him. They shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord. I will even betroth thee unto me in faithfulness, and thou shalt know the Lord. I will say, It is my people, and they shall say, The Lord is my God. Thou shalt know that I the Lord am thy Saviour, and thy Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob. The work of righteousness shall be peace, and the effect of righteousness, quietness and assurance for ever. These are a few of the many unequivocal promises of God, that his people should possess the know
ledge and assurance of their interest in lim as the God of their salvation, and their everlasting portion.
2. I shall now recite a few testimonies whereby you may perceive that God is faithful to his promise, and that many have actually enjoyed an assurance of their salvation. JoB said, I know that my Redeemer liveth. DAVID, The Lord is my light and my salvation. Isaiah, Behold, God is my salvation. PAUL, We have redemfition through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, accord. ing to the riches of his grace. John, We know that we are of God. Each of these testimonies are founded in knowledge and experience; and whoever reads the history of those persons, must be convinced how operative such an assurance was upon their hearts and lives. Perhaps you are disposed not to admit such honoured saints into the present case, presuming they were characters more abundantly favoured of God than we now have any reason to expect. True, God gave them great gifts, and qualified them for departments in life, in which they should display the riches of his glory; but in themselves they were sinners in common with others. JOB said, Behold, I am vile; and Paul acknowledged himself the chief of sinners. The same Father, the same Saviour, and the same Grace, were in common for them, and equally so for us. In gifts, talents, and usefulness, there is a very great diversity ; but I presume that as there is one Lord, and one faith; so all the children of God are alike interested in the same grace, and entitled to the same promise. This certainly opens a very great source of encouragement to you who are depressed by unbelief, and incapable of enjoying an assurance of your personal şalyation. I therefore proceed,
3. To show you how it is that God creates an assurance of salvation in the breasts of his people. This is produced, efficiently, by the Holy SPIRIT, who enlightens the mind to perceive the completeness and ability of Christ, to save to the uttermost all that come to God by lim-gives faith to embrace the promise of salvation, and then sheds abroad the love of God in the heart, thereby producing pardon, peace, and joy. On this very account the influence of the Spirit is compared to a seal. The Ephesians, after they heard the Gospel of their sale vation, and had believed, they were sealed with the HoLr SPIRIT of promise, unto the day of redemption. Remember, the Spirit of promise and the word of promise are inseparably connected in producing assurances of salvation. The promise is the grant and pledge of God to you, and the Spirit strengthens your faith, to draw the blessing of the promise from the inexhaustible fulness of Jesus the Saviour. This is God's method, and of course the only way in which you may expect assurance of your personal salvation. Plead, therefore, for this divine agent to enlighten your mind, and to seal your heart; and for your encouragement, the Saviour hath declared, God giveth his Spirit to them that ask him. The first three verses of the twelfth chapter of Isaiah are an epi. tome of the experience of all who obtain an assurance that God is their salvation.
I promised not only to show you the way in which assurance of salvation is created in the mind, but also in what ways it may be cherished. Be constant and fervent in secret prayer, and you will soon say with David, It is good for me to draw near to God. Look more frequently at Jesus in the fulness of his grace, and the completeness of his righteousness, and trust less to your own heart.
Study the truth of God in his word, with aspirations to God for the Spirit of truth to enrich you, and you will know the meaning of the Saviour's promise, the truth shall make you free. Often compare your former stateof ignorance, course of sin, and disrelish of the Gospel with your present feelings, desires, and hope in Christ; and by that means you will perceive God hath done that for you in your salvation, which you could not have performed for yourself, with the united aid of men and Angels. Consider some of those great deliverances from temptation, and supports under sufferings, which God hath already performed for you, and it will cherish your assurance of his present and future care of you. In the practice of these and many other such things as might be named, you will most assuredly grow in grace. Remember, for your consolation, that Nichodemus, who went to Jesus by night, eventually grew so strong in faith, that in the face of day, he could boldly go and beg the crucified body of his Lord, when the rest of the disciples retired with dismay.
4. I shall now show you the influence which an assura ance of salvation will have upon your heart and life, provided it be from God. It is to be lamented there are many professors of religion who are extremely bold and assuming concerning their professed interest in Christ; but with all their confidence, they disregard the practice of holiness in their lives. While this is to be lamented as a source of delusion to them, it forms a very rugged stumbling.block to those who are sincere and weak in the faith. I pray God to open the eyes of all such before it be too late ; for, if the light which is in them be dark ness, how great is that darkness 3 Permit me, therefore, to inform you; the higher you are in the knowledge and