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may live; but he that will not, must blame none but himself, if he die of his disease. He that trieth, shall know by his cure and experience, that his physician is no deceiver: and he that will not, and yet complaineth that he wanteth that experimental knowledge, doth but talk like a peevish self-destroyer.
Sect. 101. II. He that yet hath not the evidence of the spirit of regeneration in himself, may yet be convinced that it is in others; and thereby may know that Christ is indeed the Saviour of the world, and no deceiver.
Even as in the aforesaid instance, he that never tried the physician himself, yet if he see thousands cured by him, may know by that that he is not a deceiver; and so may be persuaded to trust and try him himself.
Sect. 102. The way to know that others are thus regenerated, is, 1. By believing them fide humana; 2. By discerning it in the effects. h
And though it be too frequent to have presumptuous, selfconceited persons, to affirm that the Spirit of Christ hath renewed them, when it is no such matter, yet all human testimony of matters so near men, even within them, is not, therefore, incredible; but wise men will discern a credible person from an incredible. In the fore-mentioned instance, many may tell you, that they are cured by the physician, when it is not so; but will you therefore believe no one that telleth you that he is cured? Many may boast of that learning which they have not, and tell you, that they have knowledge in mathematics, or in several arts; but is no man therefore to be believed, that saith the same?
But yet I persuade no man here to take up with the bare belief of another man's word, where he seeth not enough in the effects to second it, and to persuade a reasonable man that it is true. But, as he that heareth a man that was sick profess that he is cured, may well believe him, if he see him eat, and drink, and sleep, and labour, and laugh, as the healthful used to do; so he that heareth a sober man profess with humble thanks to God that he hath changed and renewed him by his Spirit, may well believe him, if he see him live like a renewed man.
Sect. 103. Though you cannot be infallibly certain of the
↳ Non in meditatione sermonis et structura verborum, sed in rebus opere declarandis, tanquam doctrina yiva, professio nostra posita est.-Athenagor. Apol. B. P. p. 78. Yet there he complaineth that they were accused of the most odious villanies, without all show of cause.
sincerity of any one individual person but yourself, because we know not the heart; yet may you be certain that all do not dissemble.
Because there is a natural impossibility that interests, and motives, and sufficient causes should concur to lead them to it: as I said before, we are not certain of any individual woman, that she doth not dissemble love to her husband and children ; but we may be certain that all the women in the world do not, from many natural proofs which might be given.
Sect. 104. All these effects of renovation may be discerned in others. 1. You may discern that they are much grieved for their former sins. 2. That they are weary of the remnant of their corruption or infirmity. 3. That they long and labour to be delivered, and to have their cure perfected, and live in the diligent use of means to that end. 4. That they live in no sin, but smaller human frailties. 5. That all the riches in the world would not hire them deliberately and wilfully to sin, but they will rather choose to suffer what man can lay upon them. 6. That they are vile in their own eyes, because of their remaining imperfections. 7. That they do no wrong or injustice to any; or if they do wrong any, they are ready to confess it, and make them satisfaction. 8. That they love all good men with a love of complacency, and all bad men with a love of benevolence, yea, even their enemies; and instead of revenge, are ready to forgive, and to do what good they can for them and all men : and that they hate bad men in opposition to complacency, but as they hate themselves for their sins. 9. That they love all doctrines, persons, and practices, which are holy, temperate, just, and charitable. 10. That their passions at least are so far governed, that they do not carry them to swear, curse, or rail, or slander, or fight, or to do evil. 11. That their tongues are used to speak with reverence of holy and righteous things, and not to filthy ribald, railing, lying, or other wicked speech. That they suffer not their lusts to carry them to fornication, nor their appetites to drunkenness or notable excess. 13. That nothing below God himself is the principal object of their devotion; but to know him, to love him, to serve and please him, and to delight in these, is the greatest care, and desire, and endeavour of their souls. 14. That their chief hopes are of heaven, and of everlasting happiness with God, in the perfection of this sight and love. 15. That the ruling motives are fetched from God, and the life to come, which most com
mand their choice, their comforts, and their lives. 16. That in comparison with this, all worldly riches, honours, and dignities, are sordid, contemptible things in their esteem. 17. That for the hope of this, they are much supported with patience under all sufferings in the way. 18. That they value and use the things of this world, in their callings and labours, in subserviency to God and heaven, as a means to its proper end. 19. That they use their relations in the same subserviency; ruling chiefly for God, if they be superiors, and obeying chiefly for God, if they be inferiors, and that with fidelity, submission, and patience, so far as they can know his will. 20. That their care and daily business in the world is, by diligently redeeming precious time, in getting and doing what good they can, to make ready for death, and judgment, to secure their everlasting happiness, and to please their God. i
Sect. 105. All this may be discerned in others, with so great probability of their sincerity, that no charitable reason shall have cause to question it. And I repeat my testimony, that here is not a word which I have not faithfully copied out of my own heart and experience; and that I have been acquainted with multitudes, who, I verily believe, were much better than myself, and had a greater measure of all this grace.
Sect. 106. If any shall say, that men superstitiously appoint themselves unnecessary tasks, and forbid themselves many lawful things, and then call this by the name of holiness: I answer, that many indeed do so, but it is no such that I am speaking of let reason judge, whether in this or any of the foregoing descriptions of holiness, there be any such thing at all contained.
Sect. 107. He that will be able to discern this Spirit of God in others, must necessarily observe these reasonable conditions: 1. Choose not those that are notoriously no Christians, to judge of Christianity by—a drunkard, fornicator, voluptuous, carnal, worldly, proud, or selfish person, calling himself a Christian, is certainly but a hypocrite; and shall Christianity be judged of by a lying hypocrite? 2. As you must choose such to try by, as are
i Spiritus sanctus conceditur ad usum, ad miraculum, ad salutem, ad auxilium, ad solatium, ad fervorem. Ad usum vitæ, bonis et malis communia bona tribuens: ad miraculum in signis et prodigiis. Ad salutem, cum toto corde revertitur ad Deum. Ad auxilium cum in omni colluctatione adjuvat infirmitatem nostram : ad solatium cum testimonium perhibet spiritui nostro, quod filii Dei sumus: ad fervorem, cum in cordibus perfectorum vehementius spirans validum ignem charitatis accendit.-Bern. Serm. 15. Penticost.
truly serious in their religion, so you must be intimate and familiar with them, and not strangers, that see them as afar off, for they make no vain ostentation of their piety. And how can they discern the divine motions of their souls, that only see them in common conversation? 3. You must not judge of them by the revilings of ignorant, ungodly men: 4. Nor by the reproach of selfish men, that are moved only by some interest of their own 5. Nor by the words of faction, civil or religious, which judgeth of all men according to the interest of their sect, or cause and party: 6. Nor by your own partial interest, which will make you judge of men, not as they are indeed; and towards God, but as they either answer or cross your interests and desires: 7. Nor must you judge of all by some that prove hypocrites, who once seemed sincere: 8. Nor must you judge of a man by some particular fall or failing, which is contrary to the bent of his heart and life, and is his greatest sorrow: 9. Nor must you come with a forestalled and malicious mind, hating that holiness yourself which you inquire after; for malice is blind, and a constant false interpreter, and a slanderer. 10. You must know what holiness and honesty is, before you can well judge of them.
These conditions are all so reasonable and just, that he that liveth among religious, honest men, and will stand at a distance, unacquainted with their lives, and maliciously revile them, upon the seduction of false reports, or of interest, either his own interest, or the interest of a faction, and will say, 'I see no such honest and renewed persons, but a company of self-conceited hypocrites: this man's confirmed infidelity and damnation, is the just punishment of his wilful blindness, partiality, and malice, which made him false to God, to truth, and to his own soul.
Sect. 108. It is not some, but all true Christians, that ever were, or are in the world, who have within them this witness or evidence of the spirit of regeneration.*
As I have before said, Christ will own no others: "If any man have not the spirit of Christ, the same is none of his. If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away, behold all things are become new. He that forsaketh not all that he hath, cannot be my disciple." (Rom. viii. 4-9; 2 Cor. v. 17; Luke xiv. 26, 33). "They that are Christ's, have
k Inseperabilis est bona vita à fide quæ per dilectionem operatur, imò vero ea ipsa est bona vita.-Aug. de Fid. et Oper. c.23.
crucified the flesh, with its affections and lusts." (Gal. v. 24). Indeed the church visible, which is but the congregate societies of professed Christians, hath many in it that have none of this spirit or grace; but such are only Christians equivocally, and not in the primary, proper sense: "There are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost, and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness on earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood; and these three agree in one. If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater for this is the witness of God, which he hath testified of his Son. He that believeth on the Son of God, hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God, hath made him a liar, because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son." (1 John v. 7-10.)
Sect. 109. The more any one is a Christian in degree, the more he hath of this witness of the sanctifying Spirit in himself, and the more holy he is.
Sect. 110. The nearer any philosopher or others are like to Christians, the nearer they come to this renewed image of God.1
Sect. 111. As this image of God, the holiness of the soul, is the very end and work of a true Saviour, so the true effecting of it on all true Christians, is actually their begun salvation; and therefore the standing, infallible witness of Christ, which should confound unbelief in all that are indeed his own.
This, which I spake of in the foregoing chapter, is a testimony in every holy soul, which the gates of hell shall not prevail against. He that undertaketh to cure all of the plague, or stone, or gout, or fever, that will take his medicines, and be ruled by him, is certainly no deceiver, if he do that which he undertaketh. He that undertaketh to teach all men arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, music, &c., who will come and learn of him, is certainly no deceiver if he do it. What is it that Jesus Christ hath undertaken? think of that, and then tell me whether he be a deceiver. He never undertook to make his disciples kings, or lords, or rich, or honourable in the world; nor yet to make them the best logicians, orators, astronomers, mathematicians, physicians, musicians, &c., but to make them the best men to renew them to the love of God in holiness, and thereby to save them from their sins, and give them repentance
1 See what I cited before of Socrates and his converts.
m Nulla in discendo mora est, ubi spiritus sanctus doctor adest.-Beda in Luc.