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overthrow as a Spirit of bondage again, what before he had built as a Spirit of adoption.
And the third must therefore needs follow; that is, he overthroweth the testimony of his servants; for they have said, that now we receive the Spirit of bondage again to fear no more; that is, after that we, by the Holy Ghost, are enabled to call God, Father, Father.
Ans. 2. This is evident, also, because the covenant abideth in which the soul is now interested, and is everlasting; not upon the supposition of my obedience, but upon the unchangeable purpose of God, and the efficacy of the obedience of Christ, whose blood also hath confirmed it. It is "ordered in all things, and sure," said David; "for this," added he, " is all my salvation," 2 Sam. xxiii. 5.
The covenant, then, is everlasting in itself, being established upon so good a foundation, and therefore standeth in itself everlastingly bent for the good of those that are involved in it. Hear the tenor of the covenant, and God's attesting of the truth thereof. "This is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people: and they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest. For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more," Heb. viii. 10— 12. Now, if God will do thus unto those that he hath comprised in his everlasting covenant of grace, then he will remember their sins no more; that is, unto condemnation; for so it is, that he doth forget them: then cannot the Holy Ghost, who also is one with the Father and the Son, come to us again, even after we are possessed with these glorious fruits of this covenant, as a Spirit of bondage, to put us in fear of damnation.
Ans. 3. The Spirit of God, after it is come to me as a Spirit of adoption, can come to me no more as a Spirit of bondage, to put me in fear, that is, with my first fear; because, by that faith that he, even he himself, hath wrought in me, to believe and call God, Father, Father, I am united to Christ, and stand no more in my own sins or performances; but in his glorious righteousness before him, and before his Father; and he will not cast away a member of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. Nor will the Spirit of God come as a Spirit of bondage, to put me into a grounded fear of damnation, that standeth complete before God in the righteousness of Christ; for that is an apparent contradiction.
Quest. But may he not come again as a Spirit of bondage, to put me into my first fears for my good?
Ans. The text saith the contrary; "For we have not received the Spirit of bondage again to fear." Nor is God put to it for want of wisdom, to say and unsay, do and undo, or else he cannot do good. When we are sons, and have received the adoption of children, he doth not use to send the Spirit after that to tell us we are slaves and heirs of damnation, that we are without Christ, without the promise, without grace, and without God in the world; and yet this he must do, if the Spirit comes to us after we have received him as a Spirit of adoption, and put us, as a Spirit of bondage, in fear as before.
Quest. But by what spirit is it, then, that I am brought again into fears, even into the fears of damnation, and so into bondage?
Ans. By the spirit of the devil, who always labours to frustrate the faith, and hope, and comfort of the godly.
Quest. How doth that appear?
Ans. By the groundlessness of such fears—by the unseasonableness of them—and by the effects of them.
By the groundlessness of such fears. The ground is removed; for a grounded fear of damnation is this; I am yet in my sins, in a state of nature, under the law, without faith, and so under the wrath of God. This, I say, is the ground of the fear of damnation, the true ground to fear it; but now, the man that we are talking of, is one that hath the ground of this fear taken away, by the testimony and seal of the Spirit of adoption: he is said to be justified; and has, for the truth of this his condition, received the evidence of the Spirit of adoption, and hath been thereby enabled to call God, Father, Father. Now, he that hath received this, has the ground of the fear of damnation taken from him; therefore his fear, I say, being without ground, is false, and so no work of the Spirit of God.
By the unseasonableness of them. This spirit always comes too late. It comes after the Spirit of adoption is come. Satan is always too soon, or too late. If he would have men believe they are children, he would have them believe it while they are slaves, slaves to him and their lusts. If he would have them believe they are slaves, it is when they are sons, and have received the Spirit of adoption, and the testimony, by that, of their sonship before. And this evil is rooted even in his nature; he is a liar, and the father of it, John viii. 44; and his lies are not more known to saints than in this, that he labours always to contradict the work and order of the Spirit of truth.
It also appears by the effects of such fears. For there is a great deal of difference betwixt the natural effects of these fears, which are wrought indeed by the Spirit of bondage, and those which are wrought by this spirit of the devil afterwards.
The one, to wit, the fears that are wrought by the Spirit of bondage, causeth us to confess the truth, that we are Christless, graceless, faithless, and so at present, that is, while he is so working, in a sinful and damnable case; but the spirit of the devil, when he comes, which is after the Spirit of adoption is come, he causeth us to make a lie, that is to say, we are Christless, graceless, and faithless. Now, this I say is wholly, and in all the parts of it, a lie, and he is the father of it.
Besides the direct tendency of the fear that the Spirit of God, as a Spirit of bondage, worketh in the soul, is to cause us to come repenting home to God by Jesus Christ; but these latter fears tend directly to make a man, (he having first denied the work of God, as he will, if he falleth in with these fears,) to run quite away from God, and from his grace to him in Christ, as will evidently appear if thou givest but a plain and honest answer to these following questions.
Quest. 1. Do not these fears make thee question, whether there was ever a work of grace wrought in thy soul?
Ans. Yes, verily, that they do.
Quest. 2. Do not these fears make thee question, whether ever thy first fears were wrought by the Holy Spirit of God?
Arts. Yes, verily, that they do. Quest. 3. Do not these fears make thee question, whether ever thou hast had indeed any true comfort from the word and Spirit of God?
Ans. Yes, verily, that they do.
Quest. 4. Dost thou not find intermixed with these fears, plain assertions that thy first comforts were either from thy fancy, or from the devil, and a fruit of his delusions P
Ann. Yes, verily, that I do.
Quest. 5. Do not these fears weaken thy heart in prayer?
Ans. Yes, that they do.
Quest. 6. Do not these fears keep thee back from laying hold of the promise of salvation by Jesus Christ?
Ans. Yes; for I think if I were deceived before, if I were comforted by a spirit of delusion before; why may it not be so again: so I am afraid to take hold of the promise.
Quest. 1. Do not these fears tend to the hardening of thy heart, and to the making of thee desperate?
Ans. Yes, verily, that they do.
Quest. 8. Do not these fears hinder thee from profiting in hearing or reading of the word?
Ans. Yes, verily, for still whatever I hear or read, I think nothing that is good belongs to me.
Quest. 9. Do not these fears tend to the stirring up of blasphemies in thy heart against God?
Ans. Yes, to the almost distracting of me.
Quest. 10. Do not these fears make thee sometimes think, that it is in vain for thee to wait upon the Lord any longer?
Ans. Yes, verily; and I have many times almost come to this conclusion, that I will read, pray,