ASSURANCE OF LIFE ETERNAL
What is assurance?
It is a new conversion, it will make a man differ from himself in what he was before in that manner almost as conversion doth before he was converted. There is a new edition of all a man’s graces.
Assurance is the fruit that grows out of the root of faith.
Assurance is glory in the bud, it is the suburbs of paradise.
Faith is our seal; assurance of faith is God’s seal.
I am wholly His; I am peculiarly His; I am universally His; I am eternally His.
Can I have eternal life and not know it?
A child of God may have the Kingdom of grace in his heart, yet not know it. The cup was in Benjamin’s sack, though he did not know it was there.
As an infant hath life before he knoweth it, and as he hath misapprehensions of himself, and most other things for certain years together; yet it will not follow that, therefore, he hath no life or reason.
Assurance is a fruit that grows out of the root of faith; the fruits in Winter appear not upon the tree. Because I see not a flourishing top, shall I deny the existence and sappiness of the root? Mary, when she wept at Christ’s feet, had no assurance of His love, yet Christ sends her away with the encomium of her faith, acted before the comfort dropped from His lips.
We have peace with God as soon as we believe, but not always with ourselves. The pardon may be past the prince’s hand and seal, and yet not put into the prisoner’s hand.
Assurance is not of the essence of a Christian. It is required to the bene esse (the well–being), to the comfortable and joyful being of a Christian, but it is not required to the esse , to the being of a Christian. A man may be a true believer, and yet would give all the world, were it in his power, to know that he is a believer. To have grace, and to be sure that we have grace, is glory upon the throne, it is heaven on this side of heaven.
None have assurance at all times. As in a walk that is shaded with trees and chequered with light and shadow, some tracks and paths in it are dark and others are sunshine. Such is usually the life of the most assured Christian.
Does assurance remain when comforts are gone?
Take heed thou thinkest not grace decays because thy comfort withdraws.... Did ever faith triumph more in our Saviour crying “My God, my God!” Here faith was at its meridian when it was midnight in respect of joy.
A man’s assurance may be as good, as true, when he lies on the earth with a sense of sin, as when he is carried up to the third heaven with a sense of love and foretaste of glory.
Sense of sin may be often great, and more felt than grace; yet not be more than grace. A man feels the ache of his finger more sensibly than the health of his whole body; yet he knows that the ache of a finger is nothing so much as the health of the whole body.
God dwells as glorious in a saint when he is in the dark, as when he is in light, for darkness is His secret place, and His pavilion round about Him are dark waters.
Great comforts do, indeed, bear witness to the truth of thy grace, but not to the degree of it; the weak child is oftener in the lap than the strong one.
It is natural to the soul to rest upon everything below Christ; to rest upon creatures, to rest upon graces, to rest upon duties, to rest upon divine manifestations, to rest upon celestial consolation , to rest upon gracious evidences, and to rest upon sweet assurances. Now the Lord, to cure His people of this weakness, and to bring them to live wholly and solely upon Jesus Christ, denies comfort, and denies assurance, etc., and for a time leaves His children of light to walk in darkness. Christians, this you are always to remember, that though the enjoyment of assurance makes most for your consolation, yet the living purely upon Christ in the absence of assurance, makes most for Christ’s exaltation. He is happy that believes upon seeing, upon feeling, but thrice happy are those souls that believe when they do not see; that love when they do not know that they are beloved; and that in the want of all comfort and assurance, can live upon Christ as their only all. He that hath learned this holy art, cannot be miserable; he that is ignorant of this art cannot be happy.
The Christian must trust in a withdrawing God.
Steps to awareness:
He that wants assurance of the truth of his grace, and the comfort of assurance, must not stand still and say, “I am so doubtful and uncomfortable that I have no mind to duty,” but ply his duty, and exercise his grace, till he find his doubts and discomforts to vanish.
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 in a sweet assurance of their actual interest in Christ.
To make sense and feeling the judges of our spiritual conditions, what is it but to make ourselves happy and miserable, righteous and unrighteous, saved and damned in one day, ay, in one hour.... What is this but to toss the soul to and fro, and to expose it to a labyrinth of fears and scruples? What is this but to cast a reproach upon Christ, to gratify Satan, and to keep yourselves upon the rack? Well, doubting souls, the counsel that I shall give you is this, be much in believing, and make only the Scripture the judge of your condition; maintain the judgement of the Word against the judgement of sense and feeling.... If you resolve to make sense and feeling the judge of your conditions, you must resolve to live in fears, and lie down in tears.
If a physician that feels not what you feel, shall yet, upon your speeches and other evidences, tell you that he is confident your disease is not mortal, nor containeth any cause of fear, you may rationally be much encouraged by his judgement.... (your faithful pastor) is able to pass a far sounder judgement of your life or death than yourselves can do, for all your feeling; for he knows better what those symptoms signify....
Whenever God pardons sin, He subdues it (Mic. 7:19). Then is the condemning power of sin taken away, when the commanding power of it is taken away. If a malefactor be in prison, how shall he know that his prince hath pardoned him? If a jailer come and knock off his chains and fetters, and lets him out of prison, then he may know he is pardoned; so, how shall we know God hath pardoned us? If the fetters of sin be broken off, and we walk at liberty in the ways of God, this is a blessed sign we are pardoned.
Motion is the most perfect discoverer of life. He that can stir his limbs, is surely not dead. The feet of the soul are the affections. Hast thou not found in thyself a hate and detestation of that sin whereinto thou hast been miscarried? Hast thou not found in thyself a true grief of heart, for thy wretched indisposition to all good things? Without a true life of grace, these things could never have been.
Another sure mark of sensible faith and comfort, is this; that they that have tasted of it, CAN NEVER BE SATISFIED, but still hunger and labour for more.
I have sought but not found?
It may be you have been more earnest and vehement for assurance, and the effects of it, viz., joy, comfort, and peace, than you have been for grace and holiness, for communion with God, and conformity to God. It may be your requests for assurance have been full of life and spirits, when your requests for grace and holiness, for communion with God, and conformity to God, have been lifeless and spiritless. If so, no wonder that assurance is denied you. Assurance makes most for your comfort, but holiness makes most for God’s honour. Man’s holiness is now his greatest happiness, and in heaven man’s greatest happiness will be his perfect holiness.
By–products of assurance:
The being in a state of grace will yield a man a heaven hereafter, but the seeing of himself in this estate will yield him both a heaven here and a heaven hereafter; it will render him doubly blest, blest in heaven. and blest in his own conscience.
Assurance of better things makes the soul sing care away, as that martyr said, “My soul is turned to her rest; I have taken a sweet nap in Christ’s lap, and therefore I will now sing care away, and will be careless according to my name.”
If a loving bears is without fear of the day of judgement, he is without fear of falling away.
A soul under assurance is unwilling to go to heaven without company.
There is a reward not only in keeping, but also for keeping of His commands, Ps. 19:11. Joseph, for his thirteen years’ imprisonment, had the honour to reign fourscore years like a king; David, for his seven years’ banishment, had a glorious reign of forty years’ continuance; Daniel, for his lying a few hours among the lions, is made chief president over a hundred and twenty princes.... Ah! doubting souls, pray hard, work hard for assurance, the pay will answer the pains.
The assured Christian is more motion than notion, more work than word, more life than lip, more hand than tongue.
Assurance and comforts are desirable, but fruitfulness is absolutely necessary.... The end why the Lord offers us comfort and assurance of His love, is to make us cheerful in His service, and to encourage us in His work, and engage our hearts in it thoroughly.
Assurance made David divinely fearless, and divinely careless.
The greatest thing that we can desire, next to the glory of God, is our own salvation, and the sweetest thing we can desire is the assurance of our salvation. All saints shall enjoy a heaven when they leave this earth; some saints enjoy a heaven while they are here on earth.
Assurance will assist us in all duties: it will arm us against all temptations; it will answer all objections; it will sustain us in all conditions....
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