A LETTER First written and sent by Io. FORBES, Pastour of the English Church at MIDDELBVRGH, vnto certen of the companie of Marchands Adventu­rers at STOADE, at their earnest desire, for resolving this Question: How a Christian man may discerne the testimonie of Gods spirit, from the testimonie of his owne spirit, in witnessing his Adoption.

And now againe renewed and enlarged by the Authour, at the desire of divers good Christians▪ for the comfort of their troubled cōsciences▪ and published by those of his flocke, to whom he did dedicate it for the publike vse of the Church.

Thy Rod and thy Staffe they comfort me,

Psal. 23. 4.

AT MIDDELBVRGH, Printed by Richard Schilders, 1616.

To Mr Edw. Bennet, Mr. Iohn Turner, and Mr Ed. Kay, the Authour wisheth increase of all Spirituall blessing in Christ.

RECEYVE (beloved in the Lord) a cer­ten Letter, which above eight yeeres ago, I first did write at the desire of Mr Io. Scharpuls, now with God, and others of the companie then at Stoade, & now againe have revewed and some­what enlarged the same, vpon oc­casion of the trouble of cōscience wherein I did perceyve manie good Christians to bee cast for [Page] want of sufficiēt light in the same question which is heere handled, desiring to minister some com­fort vnto them, if it shall please God to blesse this my endeavour, in that measure of light which he hath given me: vse it, and if yee finde any fruit in it, impart it to such as have need. The spirit of comfort and true peace bee with you to the end. Iuli 20. 1616.

Yours in the Lord Io. Forbes.

A short Discourse, shewing how a Christian may discerne the testimonie of Gods spirit from the testimonie of his owne spirit, in wit­nessing his Adop­tion.

‘The same spirit beareth witnesse also togi­ther with our spirit, that wee are the sonnes of God,’Rom. 8. 16.

BELOVED in the Lord, you desired by your Letter at my de­parture frō Stoad, that I would re­solve you, in that saying of the Apostle to the Rom. chap. 8. The spirit of God beareth witnes with our spirits, that we are the sonnes of God. [Page 6] How a man may know when that spirit, doth beare witnes also with our spirit. The occasion moving you to inquire this, being mini­stred by some speech vttered by me in preaching: sayinge it was not enough for a man, that his own spirit do beare witnes alone.

First, I will shewe you the oc­casion wherefore I did say so: and next, I will doe my best to satisfie your question, as the Lord hath given me to vnderstand.

It is most certaine, that a mans owne heart (being a thing, as saith Ieremie, Chap. 17. deceitfull above all things) will oft times deceyve man him self, and yeeld him a false Te­stimonie of him selfe, as also of his actions and estate. Is it not said of the Angell of the Church of Lao­dicea: that he said of him self: I am ritch & increased with goods, Reve. 3. 17▪ & have need of nothing. This doubtles was [Page 7] his owne testimonie of him selfe. But what doeth the spirit of God witnes of him: Thou art wretched, and miserable, and poore, and blind, & naked. And moreover doth affirme that this Angell did not know he was so.

Doth not Christ also teach vs in the Gospell,Luke. 18. that there bee some whose hartes deceyve them, ma­king them trust in themselves that they are iust, and yet are not, and cleares it by the example of the Pharisee, giving thankes vnto God, That he was not as other men, extorti­oner, vniust, &c. who notwithstan­ding is accompted of God vniust. And to be short, in this point the Lord Iesus sheweth vs that many men at his second comming, shall be miserably deceived by the foo­lish testimonie of their own harts: some being confident because of the outward fellowship and fami­liaritie [Page 8] they have had with Christ, both in Word & Sacraments, and therefore pleading thus:Luc. 13. 22▪ We have eaten and dronke in thy presence, and thou has taught in our streetes, shall neverthelesse receyve this answer: I tell you, I know you not whence you are, depart from me. Others also v­pon the confidence of giftes be­stowed vpon them by Christ for the good of his Church, pleading with him and saying:Mat. 7. 22. Lord, Lord, have we not by thy Name prophecied, and by thy Name cast out Divels, and by thy Name done many great works? shall receyve the same answere.

Heereby it is evident, that the testimonie of a mans owne heart being alone may be deceitfull, evē when it is builded vpō profession and outward participation of the holy things of GOD. Yea even when it is builded vpon some rare speciall giftes of the holy ghost, [Page 9] which although they bee necessa­rie for the body or Church in ge­nerall, yet are not requisit in every member to salvation, such as is the gift of Prophecying, &c. and there­fore may both be wanting with­out preiudice, and also had with­out enioying of salvation.

Thus have wee reason not to trust our Adoption and certaintie of our salvation, to the naked te­stimonie of our owne hearts, least we be found like the foolish Vir­gines. It is true, the testimonie of our owne hearts is needfull heere­vnto, because sayeth the Apostle, If our heartes condempne vs, 1 Ioh. 3. 20▪ God is greater then our heartes: and if our hearts condempne vs not, then have we boldnes towards God. But it must not be alone, for so it shal never be sure, but having the spirit witnes­sing with it, then it is sure.

[Page 10] Now yet before I speake of the discerning of the spirites testimo­nie, I must forewarne you of this one thing, to wit, that there bee many effectes of the spirit in the Saints oft times, which at the first the Saintes know not to bee from the spirit, and that both in their first calling, and after they be cal­led▪ and therefore wee must not measure the working of the spirit in vs by our discerning, neyther must we iudge our selves destitute of the spirit, albeit wee doe not discerne the effectes wrought in vs, to bee from the spirit: for the Saints will feele strange effectes wrought in their mindes, which they will neither knowe whence they come, nor wherevnto they tend. This is verified by Iesus Christ him self, speaking of the ve­rie working of the spirit in our spi­rituall [Page 11] birth, whereby we are made the children of God, comparinge it to the winde: The winde (saieth he) bloweth where it listeth, Io. 3. 8. and thou hearest the sound thereof, but can not tell whence it commeth, nor whether it goeth: so is every mā (saith Christ) that is borne of the spirit.

This shall not seeme strange to vs if we marke what is saide of the Disciples at Ephesus, who were baptized as appeareth by Apollos, Acts. 19. 2 and yet they confesse to Paul that they had not so much as heard whether there were an H. ghost. It may bee also very apparantlie thought, that Peter when hee did witnesse of Christ, that he was the Christ the Sonne of the living God, Mat. 16. 16▪ did not knowe that testimonie to have bene from the spirit of God, and therefore Christ (to teach him that that testimonie was not the testimonie of his owne heart, [Page 12] but by the spirit of God) did tell him that flesh and bloud had not reveyled that to him, but his Fa­ther that is in heaven.

This I speake not to make men carelesse in trying whether they have the spirit or no, but to com­fort weake Christians, who al­though they have the livelie ef­fectes of the spirit, yet have not come so farre as to bee able to dis­cerne them to be from the spirit, as sometimes they will bee taught to vnderstande, and can not tell how at the first, and to repent, and can not tell how, and to reioyce, and can not tell how, and to love God and his Saints, and can not tell how, and to beleeve, and can­not tell how, which all notwith­standing are the proper workes of the spirit.

Neither speake I this to shunne the answering of your question [Page 13] touching the discerning of the spi­rites testimonie, which I pray the Lord to teach vs all, seeing there can indeed no solide ioy possesse our mindes, till we feele the spirit of Adoption sealing vp the cer­taintie of our electiō in our harts: for if we bee sonnes (as saieth the Apostle) the Lord hath sent forth the spirit of his sonne in our heartes, Galat 4. 6. which crieth Abba, Rom. 8. 10 Father: and therefore if any mā hath not the spirit of Christ, the same is not his.

Seeing then it is even by the spi­rit which he hath givē vs, that we know our selves to bee the sonnes of God, and that God as our Fa­ther abydeth in vs,1 Ioh. 3. 24. as saieth Iohn: It is a most necessarie studie, and most commendable in a Christi­an, to trie if he hath the spirit.

Now therefore to come to your question, I will speake of it in all sobrietie accordinge to that mea­sure [Page 14] of faith which the Lord hath given me.

First in generall, it shall not bee amisse to know what is the Testi­monie of the spirit.

Secondly, after what maner the spirit doth give testimonie.

And lastly, we shall cleerlie see how to discerne it from the testi­monie of our owne spirit.

In generall, the whole word of God is the testimonie of the spirit. For whatsoever is therein contay­ned, the spirit doeth witnes it, and nothing els doeth the spirit wit­nes, but that which is contayned in the word: therefore is the word of God called his Testimon.Psal. 19. The testimonie of the Lord is sure. And a­gaine: God established a Testimonie in Iacob. Psal. 79. And oft times in the 119. Psalme, the Lords wordes are cal­led his Testimonies, because everie sentence of the word, is a testimo­nie [Page 15] of Gods will: Therefore is it that the Prophet commands vs to goe to the Lawe and to the Testi­monie. Esa. 8. For nothing can we know of Gods minde towards vs, except we hearken what the spirit speakes in his worde. and therefore, Christ willeth vs to search the Scriptures,Ioh. 5. 39. because they witnes of him. So, whatsoever the worde doeth per­swade our hearts touching GOD and his love in Christ, that is the Testimonie of the spirit: and ther­fore when hearing the worde of God, our hearts receyves anie as­surance or perswasion of redemp­tion, remission of sinnes, &c. that same is and must be the spirits te­stimonie. As for example, whē by the word a man is made to knowe Christ to be the Lord, the Redee­mer, &c. doubtlesse that is a testi­monie of Gods spirit, by the word witnessing to the heart that trueth [Page 16] and causing the heart to beleve it. But heere wee must carefully take heede, that our hearts bee not de­ceyved touching that which you most disire to know, that is, touch­ing our Adoption, by mistaking the spirits testimonie. For eschew­ing this danger we have to vnder­stande that the spirit by the worde perswades two maner of wayes, to wit, generallie and speciallie, ge­nerallie when that which is revey­led out of the worde is generally beleeved as Gods truth: speciallie when it is speciallie beleeved. The generall is no warrant of adoptiō. For in that sort the very Divells beleeve and tremble,Iam. 2. 19. saieth Iames: a reprobate may beleeve generally all to be true which is in the word of God, and yet never have anie testimonie of the spirit, of his par­ticular adoption, hee may beleeve that Christ is a Saviour of sinners, [Page 17] and yet not beleeve that hee is a Saviour vnto him: he may beleeve that God in Christ will forgive sinners: and yet no wayes have assurance of the remission of his owne sinnes: yea hee may bee a Preacher, and be witnes of all the promises of God in Christ to o­thers, & yet have no parte in them him selfe. Therefore leaving this generall testimonie of the spirit, I come to the speciall testimonie, which wee must discerne before our Adoption bee sealed to vs. And in discerning this, there is also great wisedome required: for therein also may a man be de­ceyved. For there is some sort of speciall testificatiō that witnesseth not adoption. For vnderstanding hereof, we must consider that the spirits testimonie in speciall maner is of two sortes.

[Page 18] The first is, when hee witnesses and reveiles grace particularlie to a man, but imprints not the thing reveiled in the heart, neither seales it in his soule.

The second is, when not onely he reveyles and witnesses the pro­mises in speciall manner to a man, but also writeth them in his heart, and seales them in his soule. Now to make this more plaine, we must consider what are the wordes of Gods covenant in Christ with the elect. After these dayes (saieth the Lord) I will put my Lawes in their minde, Ier. 31. Heb. 8. and in their heart I will write them. If we waye these wordes a­right, we shall see that which I have spoken, cleere. GOD in gi­ving his Lawe spake to his people, and by his spirit witnessed his will to them: but this word which was spoken, was not written in their hearts, but in tables of stone: ther­fore [Page 19] the Iewes did not abyde in that covenant. The peculiar pro­mise of God to the elect in Christ is,Hebr. 8. 9. that he shall write his wordes in their hearts. When thē the Lords spirit, witnesseth, & in witnessing writes the thing witnessed, in the heart, it is an assurance of Gods effectuall speaking: but when hee witnesses to the heart, & yet writes not that testimonie in the heart, it is no testimonie of adoption. To make this plaine: it is certaine, there can be no true faith in the heart, where the worde of GOD abydeth not. Christ shewes this in the fift chap. of Iohn, Ioh. 5. 38. speakinge to the Iewes, His worde (sayeth hee) have ye not abyding in you, because yee beleeve not in him whom he hath sent: declaring that the abyding of the worde in man, and beleeving, doe still accōpanie one the other. And if we will consider his speech in [Page 20] the sixt chap. of Iohn, wee shall see that the cause why his worde did not abyde in them,Ioh. 6. 45. was, because they were not taught of God, that is, they had not hard nor learned of the Father, according to his promise, I will put my lawes in their minde; and in their heart will I write them: therefore it is that Moses speakinge of the estate of the chosen children of God vn­der grace, saith, that this cōmande­ment which I command thee this day (meaning thereby the worde of the Father) is not hid from thee, neither is it farre from thee, Deut. 30. 12. it is not in the heaven, that thou shouldest say, who shall goe vp for vs to heaven, and bring it vs, and cause vs to heare it, that we may do it: neither is it beyond the sea, that thou shouldest say, who shall goe over the sea for vs, and bring it vs and cause vs to heare it, that wee may doe it: but the word is very neare vn­to [Page 21] thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart for to doe it. Rom. 10. 68. The Apostle ex­pounds the same to the Rom. and shewes that this is the word of the Father which they did preach. For this is the promise of God to his Church vnder the Gospell, by the mouth of his Prophet:Esay. 54. 13. All thy chil­dren shalbe taught of the Lord: and this is the Lords teaching, evē the writing of his word in the hart by his spirit.Ioh. 8. 30. Of the first sort of this speciall receyving the word, you may read in Iohn: it is said of the Iewes, many beleeved in Christ, & yet these same doth Christ declare to be the servants of sinne, & childrē of the divel, & murtherers. and in the 37. verse he shewes why they were such, because his word had no place in thē: therefore doth he warn thē in the 31. ver. that if they did cōtinue in his word, they were verily his discipl. teaching thereby [Page 22] that it is not the receyving of his word simplie, that maketh vs dis­ciples: but the abydiug in it, which none can doe that hath it not written in their heart by the spirit. Of the second sorte of the speciall receyving the word, you may read in the 17. chap. of Iohn, in the wordes of Christ concer­ning his Disciples: I have given them the wordes which thou gavest mee, Ioh 17. 8. & they have receyved them, &c. Of both these sortes of receyving the spirites testimonie, you may read in the Gospell of Saint Math. in the Parable of the Sower, the one is like the ground which re­ceyveth seed,Mat. 13. 18. but yeeldeth no fruit againe: the other is like the ground which receiveth the seed, and bringeth forth fruit in aboun­dance: because God the Father is the Husbande man thereof: as Christ sayeth in the 15. chapter of [Page 23] Iohn. But you may aske, how I can call this sorte of witnessinge which is fruitlesse, to be the spirits testimonie? Remēber I pray you what the Apostle saieth to the Co­rinthians, No man can call Iesus Lord but by the H. ghost.1 Cor. 12. 3. Where­by it is plaine that there is no pos­sibilitie in man of receyving or ac­knowledging any part of that my­sterie of godlynes, without the spi­rits working. And yet, albeit this be the worke of the spirit, yet doth it not prove him in whom it is, to be the childe of God. For Christ saieth plainly,Mat. 7. 21. Not every one that call me Lord, Lorde, shall enter into the kingdome of heaven.

And because this same effect in the verie reprobate,1 Cor. 2. 14. is the work of the spirit (for the naturall man can not perceyve the things of the spi­rit) therefore are the very repro­bate thus illuminate after this ma­ner [Page 24] said, to have bene made parta­kers of the H. ghost,Heb. 6. 4. not that ever that spirit of Adoptiō, which God sendes foorth in the heartes of his sonnes to seale them vnto the day of redemption, was ever sent into their hearts. But because even that light & tast of heavēly things whi­che they received, was by the wor­king of the H. ghost: although he never did give thē ful possession of them by imprinting them in their harts, & sealing thē in their soules. For that which Christ saith to his discip. (whē he promiseth to send thē the spirit of truth) remayneth still true, that the world can not re­ceive him,Ioh. 14. 17 because it seeth him not neither knoweth him: & therfore wee may iustly say, that they who receive this tast of Christ & of the good word of god, do not discern the spirit to worke these thinges, because they neither see him nor know him, neither cā they receive [Page 25] him, but are like vnto natural men, who albeit they have their being,Act. 17. 28▪ & life, & moving in God, yet still remain without God in this world.Ephe. 2. 12. But it may thē be demanded how it is that they are said to bee made partakers of the H. ghost? and what difference is there betwixt them & the elect in the participatiō of the spirit? To vnderstand this, we must remember that ther must be a cer­tain participatiō of the spirit wher­soever any effect of the spirit is foūd in whatsoever measure or maner. But we are to mark a differēce both of measure & maner. For as a mā that hath an excellent piece of wine to sel, wil give to al that com, so much as is sufficiēt to make thē knowe the tast of it, yet he giveth not to every one such a quātitie as is sufficiēt to bring nourishment & refreshment to their bodyes & spi­rits. And as a phisicion that hath prepared a comfortable potiō for [Page 26] the health of a beloved patient, he will give to others a little of it to make them apprehende the taste of it: but not so, as to have anie strength to make anie operation in their stomacke: for that quantitie hee gives onely to the patient for whose health it is prepared.

Nowe they who tasted of this wine or potion, can discerne the goodnesse of it, albeit they never did drinke it, nor ever be partakers of the refreshing power of it.

So is it with the Lorde in his dispensation: he vseth sometimes onely to give a naked sight and knowledge of Christ, and his mer­cie in him, to men: and this I cal­led before a generall perswasion of the spirit, when men are made to know Christ in generall, but with­out all sense of feelinge of him.

Somtimes the spirit comes nearer, and touches the heart with Christ [Page 27] and with the powers of the world to come, even so farre, as the heart receiveth a tast of the love of God, & of the mercies of God in Christ, in such sorte, that they receive the word incontinentlie with ioy:Math. 13. 20. as saith Christ. The spirit havinge in that measure testified the worde to them, as is sufficient to make them to taste the sweetnes of it: albeeit hee never fill their heart with it, nor imprint it in their mindes, that they may finde the power of it vnto life. The last de­gree of the spirites witnessinge, is, when not onely he touches the lippes with grace to make the tast of it felt: but when hee poures in the love of God, and all the graces reveyled in the worde, and shedds them abroad in the heart: as saith the Apostle to the Romans,Rom. 5. 5. and so makes the heart to enioy, re­ceyve and possesse the promise by [Page 28] printing it therein. So that the working and witnessing of the spi­rit, in the wicked, is like the smell of an Apothecaris shop: which one that passeth by, receyveth, al­though hee never carrie anie of these odoriferous things with him But the witnessing of the spirit, to the elect, is by imparting the thing witnessed to the soule, & making it reallie to possesse it. So that if a man could see the soule of a true child of God, he should see ingra­ven in it, mercie, peace, love, righ­teousnes, life, ioy, and Christ him­selfe. all the promises of God in Christ, being written therein, by the spirit, according to the cove­nant of God. Conforme to this, doth the Apostle speake of the spirits witnessing to the hearts of the Corinthians, when hee saieth, yee are manifest to bee the Epistle of [Page 29] Christ, ministred by vs, and writ­ten, not with inck, but with the spi­rite of the livinge GOD: not in Tables of stone, but in fleshly tables of the heart.

Nowe therefore wee come to speake of this witnessinge of the spirit which is proper to the elect: And to the ende wee may cleere­lie discerne, the testimonie of the spirit, which witnesseth with our spirits, that we are the sonnes of GOD: wee must yet more deepelie marke and consider this testimonie.

The worke of the spirit in as­suring vs of Adoption, is twoo­folde.

The firste, for distinction, wee shall call this first writinge of the worde reveyled, in our hearts, and so makinge vs to beleeve in God,Eph. 1. 13. as our God and Father in Christ.

[Page 30] The second, is our sealling, af­ter we have beleeved. That it is so, ye may see in the wordes of the Apostle to the Ephesians. In whom also (sayes he) ye have trusted after that yee heard the word of trueth,Eph. 1. 13. even the Gospell of your salvation, wherein also after yee beleeved, yee were sealed with the holy spirit of promise.

Marke first this worke of the spirit, in causing vs to beleeve in God, by the effectuall revelation of the worde: next, marke that other worke of the spirit, after we have beleeved, in sealing vs. The first of these two, although it bee felt by vs, yet at the first, wee can not discerne it to be the worke of the spirit, till afterward. For, be­fore we be made spirituall, we can discerne nothing of the spirit: be­cause the things of the spirit are spiritually discerned.1 Cor. 2. But when we receyve the spirit which is of [Page 31] God, then are we able to knowe the things which are given to vs of God. Therefore that testimonie whereof the Apostle speaketh to the Rom. which witnesseth with our spirits: is to be vnderstood of the seconde worke of the spirit, which is our sealing.

That we may vnderstande this aright, we must consider that there is something that cōmeth in in vs betwixt the first worke of the spi­rit and the second. And that is the testimonie of our owne spirit, bea­ring witnes, that we are the sonnes of God. For when God by his spi­rit, hath imprinted in our heartes, the word of promise, then begins our hearts to say, we are the chil­dren of God: being perswaded by the spirit, secretlie insinuating the worde in our hearts to beleeve,Psal. 116. 10. & beleeving to speak:1 Cor. 4. 13. according as it is said, I beleved & therfore did speak.

[Page 32] Now it might seeme there nee­ded no more. but let vs remember what Christ saith to Peter, Luc. 22. 31. Simon, Simon, behold Sathan hath desired to sift you as wheat, but I have prayed for thee that thy faith faile not. So wee have need that our heartes be esta­blished in that worke of the spirit, otherwayes we should bee in dan­ger to make shipwracke of faith & of a good conscience: which is no­thing els but this testimonie of our owne hearts. Therefore doth the Church pray in the Psalme:Psal. 68. 28. Establish O God that which thou hast wrought in vs. And the Apostle, af­ter hee hath given thankes vnto God for the Thessalonians effec­tuall calling, he prayes to GOD, That hee who had given them this good hope through grace, would also e­stablish them in everie word and good worke. Therefore is it that our God, for stablishing vs in faith, & [Page 33] in the assurance of our Adoption, seales vs by the holy spirit of pro­mise. This is manifest out of the former place to the Ephes. where he saieth, That after they beleeved, they were sealed with the holy spirit of promise. This same doth the Apo­stle to the Gallat. confirme, when hee sheweth that Christ was sent to this ende,Gal. 4. 6. to redeeme vs: That we might receyve the Adoption of the sonnes: and then he addeth, and be­cause yee are sonnes, GOD hath sent foorth the spirit of his sonne into your hearts, that crieth Abba, Father. And that this sealing of vs, by sendinge forth the spirit of Adoptiō in our hearts, is the meane whereby God establisheth vs, it is manifest by the Apostle to the Corinthians.2 Cor. 1. 21. For when first hee hath shewed, that it is God which establisheth, saying, It is God which establisheth vs with you in Christ: then addeth [Page 34] he the meane whereby God did stablish them, saying: and hath an­ointed vs, who hath also sealed vs, and hath given the earnest of the spirit in our hearts. Which three sayings are all one thing in substance. There­fore doeth Iohn, from this anoin­ting, confirme and assure these to whom he did write, against the fearing to fall away: but (saith he) The anointing which yee receyved of him, 1 Ioh. 2. 27. dwelleth in you: and as it taught you, yee shall abide in him. And the Apostle to the Corinthians taketh the Argument of his confidence from this,2 Cor. 5. 5. that God hath given vs the earnest of the spirit. And the same Apostle from this giving of vs the spirit of libertie which crieth Ab­ba Father, proveth vs to bee the sonnes of God in that eight chap. to the Romanes.Rom 8. 15▪ 16. Whereby it is plaine, that by these three, the self­same thing is meant: albeit divers­lie [Page 35] expressed: accordinge to the three sortes of confirmation, the one by anointing, so were Kings, Priestes and Prophetes confirmed in their calling: the other by an earnest, which is a cōfirmation of the bargaine, and of the payement of the full somme:Dan. 6. [...]. and the last, by sealing, which in all writes, con­tractes, and obligations, is a con­firmation of all therein contey­ned and promised. Accordinge to which, amongst the Persians, whatsoever was sealed with the Kinges Ring, could not bee changed nor revoked. Therefore, whomsoever God seales vnto life, as his child: he is made most sure of eternall life. For this cause is it, that in the Revelatiō,Revel. 7. 3 God first will have his childrē sealed before the enemies can have power to execute their malice,Ma. 16. 18 and of these thus sealed, it is, that Christ saieth, that the gates [Page 36] of hell shall not prevayle against them. And that they shall never perish, nei­ther shall any plucke them out of his hande. Ioh. 10. 28

Now, this same sending foorth of the spirit of Adoption in our hearts, is our sealinge. Therefore saieth the Apost. to the Ephesians, ye were sealed with the holy spirit of promise. And this same is also our anointing, poured out vpon vs, as that oyle on Aaron: Ioel 2. 28. therefore are we saide to have this annointing from him which is holy,Act. 2. 17. and that it teacheth vs,1 Ioh. 2. 2. and that it is true, & not lying: according to that whi­che is said by Christ of the spirit: I will pray the Father, Io. 14. & he will give you another comforter, that hee may a­byde with you for ever, even the spirit of trueth, he shall teach you all things; And the same also is our earnest:2 Cor. 5. 5 therefore it is called the earnest of the spirit: and also the first fruites [Page 37] of the spirit. So by the same spirit, as by oyle, as by earnest, as by a seale, doth God stablish our harts, in that which they doe witnes to vs, touching our Adoption. And that doth the Apostle signifie whē he saieth,Rom. 8. 16. the same spirit beareth wit­nes with our spirits, that wee are the sonnes of God.

Marke then the order of Gods working. First he speakes the word of trueth to the heart, and in spea­king, writes it in the heart: heere­vpon the heart is made to beleeve that which it hath heard & recey­ved, from the spirit: and when it beleeves, it speakes, and the thing it speakes, is that same, which is engravē in it, by the spirit: to wit, that God is his God, and hee his child. For never can the hart of a man speak one word of mercie to him, nor of Adoption, till the spi­rit of God have spoken first mer­cie [Page 38] to it. Nowe when the spirit of man hath spoken, and given testi­monie to him, of his election, he [...] the Lord for establishing the heart in this, and confirming man in the testimonie of his heart, he addeth his spirit: and by the testimonie thereof, seales this promise in the heart, and makes Adoption and eternall life, most certaine and sure to the soule, that he dare be bold with the Apostle to say,Rō. 8. 33. Who shall lay any thing to my charge? who shall condempne me? who shall seperate mee from the love of Christ: I am per­swaded that neither death nor life, nor anguish, &c. shall bee able to seperate me from the love of God which is in Iesus Christ my Lord.

And that we may yet more evi­dentlie see the necessitie of this te­stimonie of Gods spirit: we are to consider that albeit our own harts have in them a power to witnes [Page 39] vnto vs what wee are both by na­ture and by grace, yet the testimo­nie of our heartes touching our e­state by grace, is not so fullie and confidentlie to bee reposed vpon and trusted, as the testimonie ther­of touching our estate by nature. For wee may assuredly trust our hearts and cōsciences,Deut. 27. 21. when vpon anie guiltines they condemne vs, seeing hee is cursed who abydes not in everie jo [...] of the Law to ful­fil it:Gal. 3. 10. & he that trāsgresseth one cō ­mandment, Iam. 2. 10. is guiltie of all: but we are not always to give absolut cre­dit to our consciences, when vpon conceit of innocēcie they iustifie vs. For although our consciences accuse vs of nothing, yet thereby we are not iustified, as is plaine by the saying of the Apost. touching himself 1. Cor. 4. 4. the reason here­of is, because our consciences doe not so cleerlie see our estate which [Page 40] is from God, neither can they of them selves so truely iudge of it, as they may do of their estate by na­ture, when they are illuminate by God: for then they are made to know and cleerly to see that in vs there is no goodnes, and therefore ther is iust reason why they should condempne vs. And we are verily to beleeve our harts vpō this sight and knowledge condempning vs. but on the other part, although we see the minde of God towards vs in Christ, yet wee can not so throughly apprehende his promi­ses vpon any sight we receive, that we dar trust our felicitie absolutly to the testimonie of our owne hearts. First, because our heartes may be deceyved, as is evident by scripture, that many shall bee. Se­condly, because wee may mistake the working of God in vs, and lay hold on a wrong ground. Third­lie, [Page 41] because our heartes are more prone to speake good nor evill of our selves, even when they have neuer so small occsion to doe so, and when they have much more occasion to do the contrarie. And lastlie, because all men are lyars, & onely God is true, and therfore we must never give so much credit to our consciences, speaking good of vs, as when they speake evill: spe­ciallie when the question is of be­ing the sonnes of God, or not: so that even when they witnes that we are the sonnes of God, wee are not to rest herevpon except God, who only knoweth whom he hath chosen, doe by his spirit confirme the testimonie of our spirit. For we may much more surely trust our heartes in that which is in our selves and from our selves, then in that which is neither from our sel­ves nor in our selves, but is the free [Page 42] gift of God in Christ. Therefore that we should not bee deceyved by our deceitful harts, God secoū ­deth our owne testimonie tou­ching his taking of vs for his chil­dren, by his spirit, witnessinge the same: even as by his owne mouth cōfirming our adoptiō. For by the mouth of two or three witnes­ses shal everie word be stablished.

Thus I have shewen you what is the spirits testimonie, & in what manner he gives it, and how ne­cessarie it is. Now I come to that which you desired to know: that is, how wee discerne the testimo­nie of the spirit which seales our Adoption from the testimonie of our owne spirit. For knowledge of this, First, let vs consider, that there be three things, whereby wee dis­cerne our Election and Adoption from the spirit of God. The first is his presence with vs. The se­cond [Page 43] is his worke in vs. The third is his voyce vnto vs.

Touching the first: the verie presence of the spirit of Adoptiō, is a witnesse of our Adoption. For the spirit is the earnest of the in­heritance of God, as wee have shewen before: therefore whoso­ever hath the spirit, the verie ha­ving of him, is a sure testimonie to that man, that he is the sonne of God: For he that hath the spirit of Christ, Rom. 8. 9. he is Christes: as by the con­trarie, hee that hath not the spirit of Christ, is not Christes. Now the ha­ving of the spirit is discerned by the other two, that is, by the work, and by the voyce: therefore those two are chiefly to be considered: first his worke in vs, which must go before his voyce: I meane this voyce which seales Adoptiō: For otherwayes his voyce alwayes go­eth before his worke: for it is by [Page 44] the worde, that hee worketh, all things in vs.

For vnderstanding of this work and voyce of the spirit which sea­leth adoption, marke the wordes of the Apostle in that same eight chap. of the Rom, touchinge the spirit, Yee have not receyved (sayeth he) the spirit of bondage to feare a­gaine, Rom. 8. 15▪ but yee have receyved the spirit of Adoption, whereby wee crye, Abba Father. Heere Adoption (vnder which is vnderstood libertie) is opponed to bondage, as the effect of the spirit. Next, the voyce follow­ing heerevpon, is manifest in the wordes following: (whereby wee crye, Abba, Father). Which crye, more plainly is saide by the Apo­stle to the Galathians, to bee the crie of the spirit, saying: and because yee are sonnes, Gal. 4. 6. God hath sent forth the spirit of his sonne in your harts which cryeth Abba, Father. And therefore [Page 45] is it that the Apostle to the Romans saieth, that the same spirit beareth witnesse with our spirit, that we are the children of God. What then is this worke of the spirit in vs, that wit­nesseth Adoption? This speciall worke, is, libertie, or freedome: ac­companied ever with peace, bold­nes, confidence, and reioycing. This is plaine by these places of scripture. First, the Apostle to the Corinthians, speaking of this first great effect of the spirit,2. Cor. 3. 17. saith: Now the Lord is the spirit, and where the spirit of the Lord is, there is libertie: and of the peace that accōpanies this libertie,Eph. 2. 13. the Apostle speakes plainlie to the Ephesians, where, after he hath shewē, that by Christ we are delivered from the Law of commandements & hatred, that thereby did lye vpon vs, and hath spoken of the peace followinge therevpon, hee proves this peace [Page 46] by these wordes: for through him wee both haue an entrance vnto the Father by one spirit. Eph. 2. 18 Therefore the same Apostle to the Romans, sayeth,Rom. 5. 1. That being iustified by faith, wee have peace towardes God. Of this boldnes and confidence, the A­postle speakes to the Ephesians, saying:Eph. 3. 12 By whom wee have boldnes and accesse with confidence by faith in him. Therefore is it that the Apostle to the Romans, sayeth: That wee have not receyved the spirit of bondage vnto feare, but the spirit that is without feare, that is, of bold­nes and confidence. Touching re­ioycing, the Apostle Peter spea­keth, 1 Pet. 1. 8. saying: In whom beleeving, yee reioyce with ioye vnspeakeable and glorious. The same also affirmeth the Apostle to the Rom. saying & we reioyce vnder the hope of the glorie of God, Rom. 5. 2. neither so onely, but wee reioyce also in tribulations, and he addes the [Page 47] reason, because the love of God is shed abroad in our heartes by the holy ghost which is given vnto vs. This I call the speciall working of the spirit, for sealing our Adoption: because these effectes cannot possiblie bee in vs, except the spirit of adoption worke them. and therefore who­soever hath them, hee hath an vn­doubted testimonie of his adopti­on, from the verie spirit of adop­tion. For this libertie, and effectes of it, are not the worke of a mans owne hart: but the work of Gods spirit, in the heart: making it free, & causing it to reioyce, & making it cōfident towards God, that this may be cleere, we have to consider the estate of man, first, in ignorāce and blindnes, before he knewe ei­ther God, or him selfe. Secondly, his estate vnder the Lawe. And lastlie, his estate vnder grace tho­rough the Gospell.

[Page 48] In the two former cases, there is nothing in mans heart, but blind­nes, or the spirit of bondage, vnto feare: yea even in the verie elect, before they receyve this spirit of Adoption and grace, by the Go­spell.

In man by nature, as he is borne, there is nothinge but blindnes, I say nothing, not that I exclude bondage: for in both the first two estates of man, blindnes and bon­dage doe accompanie each other: but in the first estate, blindnes so reigneth, that bondage is not per­ceyved nor felt. In the second, al­though blindnes be so farre taken away, as man see and feele his bō ­dage: yet it is not so taken away, that it hide not from him his li­bertie and freedome. Therefore in the first he is the slave of blindnes and darknesse: because the power thereof is predominant in him: [Page 49] holding him in ignorāce of God, of him selfe, of sinne, and of true righteousnes. Therefore doth the scripture say,Rom. 3. 11 There is none that vn­derstandeth, there is none that seeketh God. And the Apost. to the Ephe­sians, shewing the naturall estate of man,Eph. 2. 12. declareth that he is with­out Christ, an aliant from the com­mon wealth of Israel, a stranger from the covenant of promise, without hope, and without God in the worlde. And therefore speakinge of the vaine conversation of men naturall, hee sheweth the causes of it to be this, because they have their vnderstanding darkened, Ep. 4. 8. beeing strangers from the life of God, through the ignorāre that is in them. And most cleerlie in the fift chapter,Cha. 5. 8. for ye were once darknes, meaning by nature: and therefore they who are effectuallie called to grace, are in that same place saide, to be light in the Lord. And by the [Page 50] Apostle Peter, 1. Pet. 2. 9. are said, to be called of God out of darknes to his marveylous light. 1. Thes. 5. 5. And to the Thessalonians, they that are called, are saide, to be of the day and of the light. And they which are not called, are saide, to be of the night, and of darknes. And the Apostle to the Colossians (wil­ling to shewe the force of darknes in holding men in bondage) ex­presses their calling by GOD, in these wordes:Colos. 1. 13. who hath drawen vs out vnder the power of darknes. So it is manifest, that in our estate naturall, wherein (as saith the Apostle to the Galathians) wee knowe not God. Gal. 4. 8. darknes hath power and do­minion over vs in such sorte, that we have no libertie of minde, nor body, to serve God: the minde being kept in ignorance of God, of righteousnes and of sinne. And so consequentlie, man in this e­state, is without feare. Not be­cause [Page 51] he is not in danger, but be­cause hee seeth not his danger. Therefore also may he bee secure, because he is senselesse: but confi­dent hee can not be, because hee hath no knowledge. It is true, men in this case are commonly most peart in sinne, and bolde in wickednesse, against GOD: be­cause they know neither him, nor them selves. And therefore, oft tymes, as foolish flyes, they rush vpon the candle: or blinde horses doe runne against the wall: but bolde and confident in him, they can not be, who knowes him not in Christ. Therefore doth the A­postle declare that the cause why such men give themselves to wan­tonnesse, Eph. 4. 19. is, because they have no feeling.

Now in the second estate, vn­der the Lawe, we are further from libertie, and the remaynant bles­sings [Page 52] of the spirit of Adoptiō. For albeit that some light arise in the heart, by the Lawe: as the know­ledge of sinne (conforme to that of the Apostle,Rom. 7. 7 I knew not sinne but by the Law) yet this light, doeth only reveyle to man his bondage: but doth not remove nor remedie it: because that was impossible to the Lawe, in as much as it was weak because of the flesh, as saieth the same Apostle.Rom. 8. 3. Therefore this light of the Lawe, although it bee necessa­rie, yet it is comfortlesse. For it shewes first to man,Rō. 7. 14. that he is solde vnder sinne, Gal. 3. 10. and that no good dwel­leth in him. Rō. 7. 10. Heerevpon, it reveiles vnto him, that hee is vnder the curse of God, and so that hee is dead. Wherevpon it comes to passe, that God therein is so terri­ble to man, that hee cannot abyde him, nor heare him, but is com­pelled to runne from him: as is [Page 53] cleere by the 12. chapt. of the He­brues, verse 19. 20. 21. compared with Exod. chapt. 20. verse 18. 19. 20. 21. Thus our former blindnes, is turned into bondage, and the fruit of blindnes, that is securitie: is turned in the fruit of bondage, which is feare. Therefore the mi­nisterie of the Lawe, is called, the ministerie of death and condemp­natiō. 2 Cor. 3. And in the first act of Gods calling, the spirit that speaketh in the Lawe, and is given by the mi­nisterie of the Lawe, is called the spirit of bondage, vnto feare. Be­cause the sight and knowledge of our selves, and of God, which the spirit gives vs by the Lawe,Rom. 8. 15 workes these effectes. And therefore by that name is distinguished, from the spirit of Adoption, which is given by the Gospell. and this will the Apostle signifie to the Gala­thians, when he (comparinge the [Page 54] two Testaments to the two, by whom Abraham begot Ismael & Isaack) doeth shewe,Gal. 4. 24. that the one, which is from Mount Sinai, doeth beget vnto bondage.

This being the estate of man, both by nature and by the Lawe: it is manifest, that these effectes of the spirit, which witnesse adopti­on, are not in man, neither by na­ture, neither by the Lawe. But when the free spirit of the Lorde commeth, then commeth libertie to the heart. And this spirit of the Lord (otherwayes called the spi­rit of promise) comes to vs by the preaching of faith, and not of the workes of the Lawe: as witnesseth the Apostle to the Galathians,Gal. 3. 2. and 14. and the historie of the Actes of the A­postles.Act. 10. 44.

Nowe then, when the man, (who first by nature, was vnder blindnes: and next, by the Lawe, [Page 55] was vnder sinne and death, kept in bondage and feare) findes him selfe, first delivered frō that blind­nes and ignorance of minde: and next, from that bondage of sinne and death: and so consequentlie frō his feare, which was wrought in him by his bondage, then may he knowe, that the spirit of adop­tion, grace, and libertie, hath spo­ken to his heart, and hath taken possession of it: because he findes, that promise accōplished in him, whereof Zacharias speaketh, in the Gospell, according to Luke: to wit; that God would grant to vs, that we being delivered out of the handes of our enemies, Luk. 1. 74 should serve him with­out feare, all the dayes of our life, in holynes and righteousnes before him. For this was the ende of Christes death, sayeth the Apostle to the Hebrewes, to witt, that hee might deliver all them, Heb. 2. 15 who for feare of [Page 56] death, Heb. 2. 15 were all their life tyme subiect to bondage. Thus therefore, the mā, who can discerne in his hearte, which once was filled with the spirit of bondage vnto feare, the ioyfull libertie of the sonnes of God: whereby hee that was the bondman and seruant of sinne, by the Lawe, is now by the Gospell, made the free man of Christ, (the bandes of iniquitie being broken) and so freed, both from the guil­tines, and also from the power of sinne: (being iustified by faith in Iesus Christ, and having grace, in the superabondance thereof; reig­ning through righteousnes vnto eternall life through Iesus Christ our Lord:Rom. 5. 1. and 21. even in the soule, wher­in sinne in the aboūdance thereof, had reigned through vnrighteous­nes vnto death): this mā I say, may easilie discerne, the spirit, witnes­sing his adoption, by this his liber­tie [Page 57] from the slauerie of sinne First in his iustification, next in his san­ctification: and so consequentlie from the feare of death following thereon. In place whereof, suc­ceeds, a ioye vnspeakeable & glo­rious: the hart iustified, reioycing in the hope of the glorie of God. For this cause is it,Pet. 1. 8. that the Apo­stle Peter, willeth vs by ioyning ver­tue to our faith, Rom. 5. 2. and to vertue know­ledge, and to knowledge temperance, 2 Pet. 1. 10 &c. to make our calling and elec­tion sure. Because our sanctificati­on (being the worke of the spirit of adoption) is a sure seale of our election. And therefore doeth the Apostle Peter give this reason of his threatning and rebuke against Simon Magus, to wit, that albeit he was baptised, yet the Apostle did see, that he was in the gale of bit­ternesse, and in the band of ini­quitie: wherein, Simon being still [Page 58] captive, could have no assurance of adoption: albeit hee had out­wardly embraced the Gospell: and therefore is said, to have be­leeved. And because this worke, is the great worke of Christ, in the elect, and chief ende of his com­ming: Therefore doeth the Pro­phet Esaie describe the worke of his comming, and effect of the spirit of the Lord in him, in these wordes:Esa. 61. 1. The spirit of the Lorde is vpon mee, the Lord hath annointed me, that I should preach the Gospell to the poore: that I should heale the bro­ken hearted: that I should preach de­liverie to the captives, and receyvinge of sight to the blinde: that I should set at libertie them that are brused, and that I should preach the acceptable yeare of the Lord: to appoint vnto them that murne in Zion, and to give vnto them beautie for ashes, the oyle of ioye for mourning, the garmentes of [Page 59] gladnes for the spirit of heavines, that they might be called trees of righteous­nes, the planting of the Lord. Which Prophesie, Christ sheweth to bee fulfilled by him selfe in the Go­spell accordinge to Luc. in the which it is manifest, that the work of the spirit,Luk. 4. 18. in preaching the Go­spell, is, to worke knowledge and libertie, in making vs trees of righ­teousnes, planted by God: and by libertie, to worke ioye and glad­nes, in place of mourning & hea­vines.

Therefore is it by good reason, that the Apostle forbiddes vs, to let sinne reigne in our mortall bodies, Rom. 6. 12 that we should obey it in the lustes ther­of: in respect wee are made free from sinne, in Christ: and are made the servants of God: having our fruit in holines. And also bid­deth vs reioyce alwayes in the Lord: Phil. 4. 4. for there is no condempnation to vs, [Page 60] that are in Christ, Rom. 8. 1. 2. seeing we are freed from the lawe of sinne and death, by the lawe of the spirit of life which is in Christ Iesus. This is then that great effect of the spirit of Adoption, in our heartes, whereby, as by a most sure testimonie, wee discerne, the spirit sealing our Adoption. Be­cause this spirit of adoptiō, which is given vs by the preaching of the Gospell, takes away, both these miseries: to witt, the blindnes, wherein we are by nature, & next the bondage, reveiled by the law, and feare caused thereby.

Havinge thus spoken, of the worke of the spirit, it followeth that we consider the voyce of the spirit.

This voyce of the spirit, is of two sortes. The first is, when the spirit within vs, speaketh to God for vs. The second is, whē the spi­rit in vs, speaketh from God vnto [Page 61] vs. The voice of the spirit to God, is, when we by the spirit, call vpon God as our Father. And this voice of the spirit, is not only an evidēce that we have the spirit, but also a witnes of our Adoption: making manifest vnto vs, that the spirit hath wrought in vs, that worke of libertie, whereof we have alreadie spoken.

Touching the first, it is mani­fest, in that, without the spirit, we can not pray vnto God: as testi­fieth the Apostle to the Romans, Rom. 8. 26 saying: The spirit also helpeth our in­firmities: for wee knowe not what to pray as we cought: but the spirit it self, maketh request for vs with sighes that can not be expressed. Conforme to this also doth the same Apostle say in that same place, Rom. 8. 23 Wee also who have the first fruites of the spirit, even wee doe sigh in our selves, waitinge for the Adoption.

[Page 62] And this is cleerly confirmed by the words of the Prophet Zacha­rie: Zacha. 12. 10. In that day, sayeth the Lord, I will poure vpon the house of David, and vpon the inhabitanes of Ierusalem, the spirit of grace and of compassion, and they shall looke vpon me whō they have pearched, and they shall lament for him, &c. The veritie of this point may be shewed by the nature of prayer: in which first it is requi­red, that it be made vnto God. Se­condly, that it bee made in the Name of Christ. Thirdly, that it be made accordinge to the will of God.

Concerning the first, it cannot be without the spirit: because we have no entrance nor accesse to God in Christ, but by the spirit. This is manifest by the Apostle, saying:Eph. 2▪ 18. For through him, wee both have accesse to tbe Father, by one spi­rit. Secondly, we can not pray in [Page 63] the Name of Christ, except wee acknowledge God his Father, and in him our Father: which we can never doe, except we be taught by the spirit. For (as saieth the Apo­stle) The spirit beareth witnesse with our spirit, Rom. 8. 16. that we are the sonnes of God. Thirdly, no prayer can bee made accordinge to the will of God, but by the spirit: because, None knoweth the mynde of God, 1 Cor. 2 1 [...] but the spirit of GOD. Rom. 8. 27. According to which the same Apostle sayeth: That he that searceth the heartes, kno­weth what is the meaning of the spirit. For hee maketh intercession for the Saincts, according to the will of God. By all these it is plaine, that none can pray which have not the spi­rit. For the babling of hypocrits, is no prayer: seeing it proceedes not from the spirit. And this is to be vnderstoode of all manner of prayer. For all manner of prayer, [Page 64] be it confession, petition, suppli­cation, or giving of thankes, must still be by the spirit. According to the saying of the Apostle. And pray alway in all maner of prayer and supplication in the spirit. Ephe. 6. 18.

Moreover, this voyce of the spirit is the witnesse of our adopti­on: and of the worke of our free­dome in Christ. Which is evident by the Apostle, First, in that hee sayeth, That by this spirit we crye Ab­ba Father. And the same Apostle, to witnesse the same trueth, sayeth in another place: Because yee are sonnes, God hath sent foorth the spirit of his sonne into your heartes, Gal. 4. 6. crying Abba Father. Which crie of the spirit can not bee in vs, vntill first we be the sonnes of God: seeing this crye contayneth in it, a plaine profession of our Adoption, while the spirit in vs, doth call vpō God, as our Father: and maketh vs call [Page 65] vpon him, as our Father.

Secondly, this is manifest by the description, which the Apostle setteth downe, of the spirit, where­by we crye Abba Father:Rom. 8. 15 That it is not the spirit of bondage vnto feare, but the spirit of adoption. Which by the contrarie, may be vnderstood, to comprehend freedome and li­bertie. According to the saying of of the Apostle,2 Cor. 3. 17. Where the spirit of the Lord is, there is libertie For they who live in darknesse, and in the bandes of iniquitie, not yet made partakers of the ioyfull libertie of the sonnes of God, can never with boldnes approch to the throne of grace, to call vpon GOD as their Father Heerevpon it is that the Scriptures absolutely conclude,Ioel. 2. 32. That whosoever shall call vpon the Name of the Lord shall be saved. Rom. 10. 13.

Because no man can call vpō God, vntill hee beleeve, that God is his [Page 66] God, and he his sonne in Christ: according to the saying of the A­postle, Rom. 10. How shall they call vpon him, in whom they have not beleeved? This sheweth plainlie, that the spi­rites crie, or our callinge vpon God by the spirit, as out Father, is a sure testimonie of our Adop­tion, and seale of our effectuall calling. Therefore, vnder the cal­ling vpon the Name of the Lord, is oft set downe, the true and in­fallible description of Gods chil­dren: as namelie, to the Corin­thians, Vnto the Church of GOD which is at Corinth, 1. Cor. 1. 2 with all that call vpon the Name of the Lord IESVS Christ in every place. And the same Apostle sheweth, that the foun­dation of God which remayneth sure (that is, the election of God) hath this seale, Let every one that calleth vpon the Name of the Lord, 2. Tim. 2. [...]. 19. de­part from iniquitie. Declaring plainlie, [Page 67] that to call vpon the Name of the Lord, is as much as to be one of Gods elect children: which in that same place is made mani­fest, 2. Tim. 2. 22. by this other sentence, Follow after righteousnes faith, love and peace with them that call vpon the Name of the Lord with pure hearts.

Thus wee are to take our cal­ling or cryinge on the Name of the Lorde, with boldnes, in that confidence, and assruance which faith bringeth, for a sure testimo­nie of the spirit of Adoption, pos­sessing our heartes, and so of our Adoption.

The other voyce of the spirit, to wit, when the spirit speaketh from God to vs, is likewise a most so­lide, firme, and infallible testimo­nie of our Adoption. And this sorte of voyce, is that whereof the Prophet speaketh,Esay. 30. 21. And thine eare shall heare the voyce of one behinde [Page 68] thee, saying: This is the way, &c. Of the same doeth the Lord speake in another place, saying: I will allure hir and bring hir in the wildernes, Hos. 2. 14 and speake kindly vnto hir. Which pla­ces, are not onely to bee refer­red, to the Lords speaking to his Church, in the externall ministe­rie of his word: but are speciallie to be vnderstoode, of the inwarde working of God in the heart, by his spirit. Of which sorte of voyce David speaketh, when hee sayeth to the Lord,Psal. 51. 8. Let mee heare ioye and gladnesse, that the bones which thou hast broken, may reioyce. And this sorte of voyce is three folde, for it consisteth eyther in Gods teach­ing, or in his confirminge of that which he teacheth: or then in his conforting of his children in their afflictions. Of the first, that is his teaching voyce, wee have spoken before.

[Page 69] For God by his spirit, speakes to vs, when inwardlie he openeth our heartes, and maketh vs heare his word of grace, and to vnder­stande it, & to receyve it. Of this worke Christ speaketh, when hee sayeth:Io. 14. 26. But the Comforter which is the holy spirit, whom the Father will sende in my Name, hee shall teach you all things. Secondly, God is said to speake vnto vs, by his spirit, when hee confirmeth to vs, the thinge which he hath spoken: and of this wee have also spoken in generall. And of this kinde of voyce spea­keth the Apostle in that place to the Romanes,Rō. 8. 15. sayinge: The same spirit heareth witnesse with our spirit, that wee are the sonnes of God. Of this confirmation, the same Apostle, speaketh to the Corinht. whē he saieth,1. Cor. 1. 6 As the testimonie of Iesus Christ was confirmed in you. Which wordes shewe the cleere evidence [Page 70] of that two fould testimonie of the spirit, whereof wee did speake before: The one, when God wri­teth his word in our hearts: which heere is vnderstood by the testi­monie of Christ. The other, when he seales that which hee hath spo­ken, and in speaking hath written in our heartes: and that is here vn­derstood, by the cōfirming of the testimonie of Iesus in vs. And for this work of cōfirmation, the spirit is called the earnest & seale of God

And as God by his spirit sealeth and confirmeth all the promises in Christ, and also all what hee him­selfe hath wrought in vs accor­ding to the promise. So among o­ther things, he specially cōfirmeth our Adoption, whē the spirit bea­reth witnesse to vs, that we are the sonnes of God. After that first he hath effectuallie called vs by tea­ching vs and working faith in our [Page 71] hearts, and also hath made our hearts (now beleeving) speake to vs that we are sonnes.

Thirdly, God is said to speake vnto vs by his spirit, whē he com­forted vs in our troubles: remo­ving by his spirit, the anguish and grief of our hearts, & restoring vs to our wonted ioyes in him again. Of which voyce of the spirit, Da­vid speaketh whē he prayeth, Make me heare ioy and gladnesse. Psal. 51. 8. 12. And a [...]aine, Restore me to the ioye of thy sal­vation, and establish mee with thy free spirit. For this worke the spirit is called the Comforter.

Nowe wee come to the last point: which is the principal thing which yee demaund: and that is, Howe wee shall discerne this Te­stimonie of the Lords spirit, from the testimonie of our owne spirit. And this is to bee done, eyther in the time of peace, or trouble: al­though [Page 72] it is more difficile in pros­peritie, to distinguish them.

There is two voyces of the spi­rit, as we have saide, which both witnesse our Adoption. The first, when the spirit in vs, speakes to God.

This testimonie of the spirit, is discerned three wayes: The first thing whereby we discerne, it is the great heavines of heart and sorrowe which the conscience of sinne breedeth in vs, whē (as saith the Prophet) God having poured vpon vs the spirit of grace and cō ­passion, Wee looke vppon him whom we have pea [...]sed, Zach. 12. 10. and lament for him, as men mourne for their onely begot­ten sonne: and are sorrie for him, as men are for their first begotten childe. Of this nature was the mourning of Peter, after his deniall, when (as sayeth the holy scripture) hee went out, and weeped bitterlie: and be­cause [Page 73] this is a sure [...]oken of saving grace, therefore they that mourne are compted blessed. This mourning hath alwayes ioyned with it an hunger & thirst for righteous­nes. For ther can be no true mour­ning for sinne, where there is no desire of righteousnes. And be­cause this is the proper effect of the spirit of grace in all and everie one of those who receyve him. Therefore doeth the Lord by his Prophet declare what shall be the worke of the spirit of grace and compassion in that day whē God shall poure him out vpon his chil­dren, sayinge:Math. 26. 75. Then shall there bee great mourning at Ierusalem: like as the lamentation of Adadrimmon in the valey of Megiddon, Math. 5. 4▪ &c. In which place mourning is attributed to everie familie,Zach. 12. 11. to everie state, and everie person, and that apart by them selves, to shewe that it is a [Page 74] common effect wrought by the spirit in all Gods children, & that vnfainedly.

The second thing whereby we discerne this testimonie of the spi­rit, is the earnest longing with ve­hement grones and sighes in our selves for to be with Christ.

Of this voyce of the spirit the Apostle speaketh, when he sayeth, Wee also who have the first fruite of the spirit, Rom. 8. 23 even wee sigh in our selves, wayting for the adoption. And in an other place to the same effect hee sayeth, That wee sigh, desiring to bee clothed vpon with our house which is from heaven. 2. Cor. 5. 2 For certainly, the na­turall disposition of a man, can ne­ver bring forth this stronge desire of heaven, neither yet could the renewed heart, beeing yet burde­ned with infirmitie and love of this life, have so strong a desire of removing from it, of it selfe, if the [Page 75] spirit did not worke it: and there­fore the Apostle attributes these sighes for righteousnes & heaven, to the spirit: and doth shewe vs, that the spirit (in these cryes and sighes) helpeth our infirmities. Rom. 8. 26

Thirdly, this testimonie of the spirit is discerned, by the cōfident requestes and petitions it maketh to God in vs, in the full assurance of faith, without doubting: when with boldnes, wee drawe neare vnto the Throne of grace, crying vpon God,Phil. 4. 6. Abba Father: and in all things making our petitions mani­fest to God, as sayeth the Apostle. For this confident boldnes of the heart, towardes God, still accom­panied with reverence and feare, cannot be in the heart, except the spirit did worke it. For the bold­nes of a blind heart, wanteth both assurance of Gods love, and reve­rence of his maiestie.

[Page 76] But leaving this, wee come to the discerning of the other voyce, which more properly is called the testimonie of the spirit: speciallie in that place to the Romans. And that is, when God in vs, speaketh by his spirit vnto vs.

This testimonie is to be discer­ned, from the testimonie of our hearte, three manner of wayes. First, in our first beleevinge. Se­condly, after wee have beleeved. Thirdly, in the eclipses of our faith, and in our troubles.

In our first beleeving, wee may discerne the testimonie of Gods spirit, from our owne, touchinge our Adoption: because our first beleeving, is ever by the testimo­nie of the spirit, and not by the te­stimonie of our owne heart. For our heart can never beare witnes to vs, that wee are the sonnes of God, vntill first our heartes have [Page 77] beleeved, that wee are his sonnes. and this our hearts can not do, ex­cept the spirit, have first wrought this faith, by the worde, in our hearts. Therefore, my first beliefe and assurace of my Adoption, is alwayes the testimonie of the spi­rit of God, and my owne hearts te­stimonie, must still followe vpon this: so that in mans hearte, the voyce that maketh it first cōceyve Gods love, and beleeve it, is the spirits testimonie: which, when the heart of man hath receyved, then it speaketh. For till it beleeve, it can not speake: according as it is written:Psal. 116. 10. I have beleeved, and therefore I have spoken. 2. Cor. 4. 13. Thus then is this testimonie first discerned: when I discerne, the voyce of the spirit, which I beleeve, from the voyce of my spirit, now beleving, and bearing witnes to me, of that, which first, the spirit of God did [Page 78] witnes to it.

Secondlie, after we have belee­ved, wee may also discerne the te­stimonie of Gods spirit, from the testimonie of our owne spirit, by a plaine contrarie order. For in the former, the spirites testimonie did goe before, the testimonie of our spirit: but heere, it followeth after it: and is the confirmation of it. So that, when after wee have beleeved the spirit, speakinge the word vnto vs, and after that belee­ving, wee have spoken with our owne spirit: if then wee heare a new voyce, cōfirming that which we beleeved, and which our spi­rit did speake: that cōfirming, sea­ling, and stablishing voyce, is the testimonie of Gods spirit. Thus wee must learne to discerne, be­twixt our beleeving, and the con­firmation of our belief: and so shal wee know, the testimonie of Gods [Page 79] spirit, from the testimonie of our owne spirit. Therefore still the ho­lie Scriptures of God, distinguish betwixt the worke of God, in ma­king vs receyve the testimonie of his spirit, and his worke, in confir­ming in vs, that testimonie nowe receyved. And also teacheth vs, to knowe the testimonie of our own spirit (which commeth in betwixt these two) to bee different, from them both. Accordinge to this working of God, the Saincts pray, Stablish O God, Psal. 68. 28▪ that which thou hast wrought in vs.

To speake more plainly of this point, there is a three folde voyce in the heart that hath the testimo­nie of Iesus confirmed in it. The first is the voyce of God by his spi­rit in the worde speaking vnto our hearts, and perswading them to beleeve that the promise belon­geth vnto vs.

[Page 80] The second voyce is the voyce of our hearts receyving the word wherby it speaketh that which the spirit hath perswaded, and this in effect is nothing but the very faith of the heart now actually working in vs. Whereas the first was the worke of the spirit working this faith in vs: so that in this first act we are patients, in the other we are agentes: in the first we are spoken too by the spirit of God, in the se­conde, our owne heartes speaketh in vs. The third voice is the voyce of Gods spirit following the voyce of our hearts ratifying it: and this is nothing els but the confirmati­on of our faith. So wee may see that the Lord performeth twoo workes in vs for our comfort: the first is, the working of faith & be­liefe: the other is the confirmati­on of the faith, which he him selfe did work. But before his last work, [Page 81] our hearts having faith wrought in them, doe worke by it, or wee with our hearts worke: and this is nothing but beleeving with the heart, or the hearts beleevinge. Wherevpon followeth the sealing of vs in that which it beleeveth, that is, in the testimonie which the beleeving heart giveth of him in whom it is.

Thirdlie, we discerne this testi­monie of the spirit, in our trouble: when we find any cōfort, or peace wrought in our hearts, when they are troubled: or anie ioye, vpon the assurance of Gods love. If wee finde a quiet calmnesse of minde, with patience, meeknes, and re­ioycing in tribulation, vpon anie sight or knowledge of our Adop­tion: all these are the vndoubted testimonies of the spirit: who shedding abroad the love of God [Page 82] in our hearts, maketh vs to reioyce in affliction: as the Apost. speaketh of the Hebrues,Heb. 10. and ye suffered with gladnes the spoyling of your goods, knowing in your selves that yee have in heaven a better, and an enduring substance. And touching the Apo­stles, Act. 5. 41. it is saide, They departed reioy­cing that they were compted worthie to suffer for his Name. That this ioy, is the work of the spirit, vpon the testimonie of Gods love, is mani­fest by the Apost. to the Romans, where shewing the cause, why we reioyce in afflictions, sayth, Because of the love of God which is shed ab­road in our heartes, by the holy spirit which is given vs. According to this grounde it is, that the Saints are brought in, wayting what God will speake to them in trouble: as namely in the Psalme 85. vers. 8. I will hearken what the Lord will say, [Page 83] concerning mee: for hee shall speake peace vnto his people, and to his saints. And the Prophet Habacuk in like manner is brought in saying thus: I will stande vpon my watch, and set mee vpon the Towre, and will looke and see what hee will say vnto mee. Thus whē God speaketh peace to the Saincts in affliction, and quie­teth their thoughtes, and maketh them heare ioye and gladnes, that is the testimonie of the spirit of the Lord, who is our onely Com­forter. For as sayeth the Prophet David,Psal. 73. 25. My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart. And therefore Moses prayeth: O satisfie vs with thy mercie, so shall wee reioyce and be glad all our dayes, Psal. 90. 14. 15. com­fort vs againe, &c. We may hold it for a most certaine trueth, that our patient enduring of grievous tri­alls ioyfully, the constant peace [Page 84] of God in our hearts, in the tyme when wee endure the enimitie of the world: the cōsolations, where­with we are comforted, in all our afflictions, are vndoubted testimo­nies of our Adoption, proceeding all from Gods spirit.

But all this is most cleerlie dis­cerned, when the testimonie of Gods spirit, and the testimonie of our spirit, are seperate the one frō the other: & when they are found to speake one against the other: and to give two contrarie testimo­nies. For while these two goe to­gether, and are not severed or dis­agreeing: it is oft tymes hard to discerne the one from the other. But if we can finde them seperate, so that the one faile vs, and the o­ther vphold vs, then may they cleerly bee discerned. And this commeth to passe, eyther when [Page 85] God vpon the carnall presumpti­on of our hearts, suffereth vs to fall in some dangerous triall. or then, when God him selfe see­meth to become our enemie: so that the heart hath to wrestle with GOD him selfe, vnder the sense of his wrath, all former fee­ling of his mercie then ceasing.

Of the first, wee have example in Peter, whose heart saide vnto him, that no danger could make him forsake Christ the Lorde, to make him know, that this was not the testimonie of Gods spirit: but a carnall confidence of his owne heart, suffered him to be tried, and in the triall to fall: and so to finde, it was but his owne carnall heart, that did beare witnes to him. God oft tymes for this cause tryeth his owne children: to make them discerne, betwixt the confidence [Page 86] and assurance which their owne hearts giveth them, and that con­fidence and comfort which the spirit of God worketh in them: that they may not trust in them selves, or in their owne hearts, but in the living God. This the Apo­stle witnesseth to the Corinthians, saying:2 Cor. 1. 9 He maekth vs to receyve the sentence of death in our selves, because we should not trust in our selves but in God which raiseth the dead.

Of the second, wee have exam­ple in David and Iob. And this discerning of the spirits testimo­nie is two folde, one is by the voyce of the spirit in vs, vnto God, when our hearts speake the con­trarie. The other is, by the voyce of the spirit vnto vs, whē our own hearts saith otherwayes.

Of the first David is an exam­ple: who in his prosperitie saide, [Page 87] hee should never bee moved: Psal. 31. 2. Yet when God did hyde his face, his heart fayled him: and he saide in his haste, I am cast out of thy sight. and yet hee presently addeth these wordes: neverthelesse thou heardest the voyce of my prayer. Heere wee may perceyve Davids owne heart, saying, hee was cast out of Gods sight: but yet the spirit of GOD, maketh request vnto God for him, and maketh him pray to God in faith, as not reiected of God: and the Lord did heare him. This him selfe sheweth plainlie, in an other place,Psal. 116. 10. when he sayeth: I beleeved, and therefore I spake: but I was sore troubled, I saide in my haste, All men are liers. At this time, David com­passed with the snares of death, & holden by the griefes of the grave, finding trouble and heavines, de­clares the estate of his owne heart: [Page 88] that it said, that all men are liers: and therefore he gathers this con­clusion, that albeit his owne heart did say, that Gods promise should not bee accomplished: yet doubt­lesse he behoved to have faith: be­cause he prayed. For except hee had beleeved, he had not spoken. And what can bee more cleere, to let vs see, Gods spirit bearing wit­nesse, that God hath not forsaken vs, when our owne hearts say the contrarie. Then when by witnes­sing this, the spirit causeth vs, a­gainst the distrust of our owne hearts, to pray to God: evē above hope, yet vnder hope, trusting in the Lord, as did Abraham. If we examine our selves, what hath bene the estate of our hearts, in the like (or at least in our greatest temptations) wee shall finde, that many tymes, when our harts hath [Page 89] spoken no comfort vnto vs: yet the spirit of God, hath drawen sighes and cries to God, out of our hearts: which also our God hath heard most graciouslie. These cries are testimonies of the spirit, witnessing to vs, that wee are the sonnes of God: when as they pro­ceed from vs, our hearts saying the contrarie.

Of the second kinde of the spi­rits voyce, in speaking from God vnto vs: wee have likewise exam­ple in David, when his owne heart said vnto God,Psal. 42. Why hast thou for­gotten me? Behold an other voyce speakinge vnto his heart in that same tyme, Why art thou vexed O my soule, and why art thou so disquie­ted within mee? O put thy trust in God, for I will yet give him thankes, he is my helpe and my God. Heere the heart speaking no comfort, but [Page 90] being wholy discouraged, and cast downe: the spirit of God in that same heart, speaketh to the heart, and comforteth it, with this, that God was his God. Nowe, that these consolations are the worke and testimonie of Gods spirit, it appeareth by that reason, which David giveth, when hee boasteth in strong cōfidence, that although hee should walke through the va­ley of the shadowe of death, yet would hee feare none evill, say­ing: Psal. 23. For thou art with mee, thy rod and thy staffe they comfort mee. By these wordes declaring, that the experiēce he had of the comfort, which Gods spirit did minister vn­to him, in his most desperate trou­bles past, even then when his owne spirit did faile him, was the ground of al his cōfidence against all future trialls.

[Page 91] Wee have an example also of this in Iob. Who when his owne heart reasoned, that God had hid his face from him, and taken him for his enemie: yet hee saith, Al­though hee slaye mee, yet will I trust in him, hee shalbe my salvation. Heere two different speeces in one heart: the one from the spirit of Iob: the other from the spirit of the Lord in Iob. The one, perswading that God was his salvation, when the other saide, God had hid his face from him.

Thus if wee would cleerlie dis­cerne, the testimonie of Gods spi­rit, from the testimonie of our owne spirit, let vs beholde our sel­ves, when God tryeth vs, rather then when he maketh our moun­taine to stande stronge. or when hee doeth wrestle with vs him­selfe, as he did with Iacob: and in [Page 92] seeminge to fight against vs, yet doeth sustaine vs, by his owne strength in vs, when our strength faileth vs.

Thus I have as distinctlie as I could, and therefore somewhat more largelie, then an epistle per­haps requireth, given you such sa­tisfaction to your question, as it hath pleased the Lorde to grant me light. If you finde any com­fort thereby, you shall thank God for it: And what is wanting in it, for your full satisfaction in this matter, the Lord shall supplie it by his owne spirit: or by that suffici­encie of grace, which hee hath gi­ven vnto others his servants, whō he shall raise vp to write more ful­lie of this matter: for the edificati­on of his Saints, in this and all o­ther thinges, I pray the Lord to [Page 93] give you and vs all, his everlasting peace through Christ IESVS our Saviour, reveyling more and more the mysterie of godlinesse in your hearts, and makinge you abound in all knowledge with faith, feeling, and ioy of the holy Ghost. The grace of the Lord IESVS bee with you, and all the Brethren, AMEN.

Io. Forbes.

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