with gladness and singleness of heart, praising God." Thus it was with the Ethiopian Eunuch, when, upon receiving the testimony of Philip, and being baptized into the faith of it, he went on his way rejoicing." Thus it was with the Philippian jailor, when his trembling spirit was set at rest by the apostle's answer to his eager inquiry, "What

must I do to be saved?" Whenever he understood the reply," Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house"-he "rejoiced, believing in God with all his house." Thus, too, it was with the believers at Thessalonica, when they "received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost." And if it was thus of old, in the beginning of the gospel, can any good reason be assigned why it should not be so now? The gospel is the same; the character, and condition, and exigencies of sinners are the same; the adaptation of the one to the other is the same;-why then should not the effects be the same? the same in kind, the same in immediateness?—I do not, by any means, deny that, in many cases, the sinner's mind does continue for a time under painful and distracting convictions and fears. But this is not owing to any thing in the gospel; nor is it consistent with its own proper nature and tendency. To trace these fears to their causes is not my present object. I only say that the gospel itself is good tidings; and that good tidings, from their very nature, must be fitted, when understood and believed, to inspire, not fear, but hope, not sorrow, but gladness. "The law worketh wrath." It convicts of sin, and agitates the soul with well-founded terrors. The gospel proclaims peace:-" I create the fruit of the

*Acts ii. 37.; 41, 42. 46, 47.
Acts xvi. 30-34.

Acts viii. 35-39.
1 Thess. i. 6.

lips -Peace, peace, to him that is far off, and to him that is near"-to Gentile as well as to Jew:-and it must be owing to some remaining misapprehension of its nature, and of the gracious purpose of Him whose message it is, if immediate peace is not derived from it. That which is "written, so full of simplicity, is, of itself, quite sufficient to introduce immediate joy into every spiritually enlightened and believing mind.

Let it not be alleged, that when I speak of our "knowing that we have eternal life," as being founded in something written, this is to affirm all evidence of personal salvation to be outward, or extraneous to the sinner's own mind. This were a strange misapprehension. The truth is, there is none of the evidence outward; nor, in the nature of things, can it be. It must all, of necessity, be connected with consciousness; which, of course, is inward. But what I insist upon is this-that the consciousness must have a respect to, and a correspondence with, something written. If it be a consciousness of believing, the faith of which the sinner is conscious must be the faith of what is written

of the divine testimony:-if it be the consciousness of any of the effects of faith, it must still accord with what is written with the representation of these effects given in the word. But to enter on this, would be to anticipate the next branch of my subject.

2. The second of the three views of eternal life, is that which consists in spiritual character.

There has often appeared to me, on the subject of which I am now treating, by far too much of a disposition to dwell on the former view of our having eternal life-on the way, I mean, in which we are to know that we are pardoned, or justified. There is a natural propensity in our minds to think of this as the chief part of salvation; and it is the

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same as the propensity to desire deliverance from punishment or suffering rather than from sin, from physical rather than from moral evil; and the manner in which the subject has at times been treated, has seemed to me calculated to give countenance and encouragement to this propensity. But in the scriptures, the two appear inseparable-life as to pardoned state, and life as to spiritual character. have already said, that, whenever a sinner knows and believes the simple testimony of free mercy through the blood and righteousness of Jesus, he has, in the testimony itself, and in the universality and freeness of its assurances to all who believe in it, a ground given him by the God of truth himself, for immediate and full confidence ;-and he, therefore, who would frown upon him for immediately trusting, and immediately rejoicing in a sense of God's forgiveness, would frown upon him for that which it is God's very intention, in setting the gospel before him, that he should do, and which, as we have seen, is exemplified in many recorded instances in his own word. But, true as this is, it is not less true, nor less important, that, whenever a sinner believes, with a right understanding of it, the testimony of God, that change of heart takes place, in the production of which the truth is the instrument, and the Holy Spirit the efficient agent-and of which the necessity is so strongly affirmed by the Saviour himself, to Nicodemus" Verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." This, as we have formerly seen, is the commencement of a spiritual life; which is, in truth, the eternal life begun, that is to be perfected in heaven. If, then, we are right in this, does it not become a matter of fair, and legitimate, and necessary inquiry-How is the possession of this life to be known? Is there any thing "written" by which we are to ascertain it? and, if

there be, what is it? It must be very manifest, that when John says "These things have I writtenthat ye may know that ye have eternal life"-the meaning is, not merely that they might have confidence, but that they might have such a confidence as is legitimate and well-grounded. To know that they have eternal life, is to know it on grounds that are in accordance with what is written. Their own knowledge of themselves must agree with God's knowledge of them. It must rest on the principles of his word. It must be no delusion, but just and true. The apostle would never wish for them any thing else than this.

If the question, then, be-How is the possession of this spiritual life to be known? surely there can be no other answer to it but one. How, in the nature of things, can it be known otherwise than by its own appropriate symptoms and indications? How is the possession of animal life known? To the individual himself it is known by certain sensations, and certain powers of motion and action. To others it is known by the pulsation of the heart and arteries, by respiration, and by the various indications of remaining sensibility and power. Now, the life of the soul has its appropriate indications, as well as the life of the body; and by these, of course, it must be known. Where, then, are these to be found, and what are they? They must be sought in the word. If they exist at all, they must be found among the "things that are written." It is true that a great deal must lie in consciousness. But here, as before, the consciousness must have some standard to which it corresponds:-it must be the consciousness of something; and this something must be something written. It must be a consciousness of those distinguishing properties and symptoms of the spiritual life, which are specified by the Holy Spirit in the divine word. I confess

myself unable to imagine any other way by which the possession of spiritual life can in any case be "known."


In Rom. viii. 16. the Apostle Paul says, “ The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit that we are the children of God." I quote the words, because, when rightly understood, they contain an important general principle on this part of my subject on the nature of the evidence, I mean, by which the possession of the spiritual life is to be known. "The whole of the preceding context is practical. The evidence there of our being · in Christ,' is our walking not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.' Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die; but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father."* Filial obedience, and filial confidence, are thus connected. The Spirit of God dwells in believers. This indwelling spirit is the earnest of their inheritance-the evidence of their adoption, and of the soundness of their hopes. How, then, is this evidence brought out? How is the possession of this earnest known? Such questions amount to much the same thing with- What are the indications and proofs of a man's having the Spirit? And the answer to this, in general terms, is plain-they are the effects resulting from his residence and operation in the soul; or what are called by the same writer the fruits of the Spirit.' The case appears, in the general principle of it, to

Rom. viii. 12-15.

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