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under such delusions; yet we find cause to bless God for such a testimony to his truth. Without it we should lose one great evidence of our holy faith. They are for witnesses also. And from age to age as they arise, the Lord speaks to them as to those of old, "Behold ye despisers, and wonder, and perish, for I work a work in your days, a work which ye shall in no wise believe, though a man declare it unto you," Isa. xxix. 14. Habak i. 5. Acts xiii. 41.
But we must not stop here. The Lord condescends to call into court his witnesses also, in addition to his own testimony of himself. "Bring forth the blind people that have eyes, and the deaf that have ears. Ye are my witnesses, saith the Lord, and my servant whom I have chosen." That Christ, as Christ Mediator, is both the chosen servant and witness of Jehovah, is too plain to need observation. Indeed it is one of his most precious names; "the amen, the faithful and true witness," Rev. ii. 14. But on this branch of the subject the limits of a penny tract will not admit for me to enlarge. My present province is to speak of the Lord's people as the Lord's witnesses. And here much remains to be said. For although in the first face of things it should seem self-evident, that such only can bear testimony for God, who have received testimony from God; yet it may he proper for the better apprehension of the subject, first to remark who are not witnesses for God before we examine those that be.
And here without going over much ground in the enquiry, it is obvious at one view, that they can be no witnesses for God who are ignorant of God. For as it is said concerning Israel of old, "all are not Israel that are of Israel;" so now, all are not christians which are called christians. Thousands are reputedly so for no other reason but because they were born under the meridian of christianity. And had the same persons
been born in Turkey, from the same principle they would have been born Turks. Such things constitute no real character. It is not the birth of nature, but of grace, not a natural but a spiritual birth, which makes the christian. Christ himself in five words hath decidedly shewn this when he said, "Ye must be born again!" John iii. 7.
It were enough to excite a smile if the subject was not too serious for laughter, to behold the seeming zeal with which numbers in the present day are hastening to convert others, many of whom, it is to be feared, were never converted themselves; and to hear the indignation expressed by many against infidels, who, as far as relates to any saving work of grace wrought upon their own souls, are no less infidels under a different bearing. All such christians are christians only by system. Their creed is derived from their fathers, and is either the effect of habit or of education. Such men act upon similar principles to what is related in history of one of the emperors of Morocco, who said in compliment to our ambassador, that if he had now to choose his religion, he certainly would be a christian; but, (he added) every man ought to live and die in the religion of his ancestors.'
I stay not to combat such notions. Indeed I have nothing to do with them. It is too plain to need a comment. None of this description can be witnesses for God, unless it be indeed as in proof of that scripture, "God hath given them the spirit of slumber," Rom. xi. 8. Isa. vi. 9. For being strangers to God, strangers to themselves, and to the plague of their own heart; having never received any manifestation from God, or communion with God; the utmost extent of their testimony, (if they attempted to give any) could be no more than hearsay account, borrowed from another man's knowledge, and not their own. And this in fact is none at all; and not unlike the knowledge our
little children frame to themselves of the world, from the questions and answers of their school books, or from the dissecting of maps, and putting them together again. So that whether men of this complexion: write for or against the great truths of God; whether one sends forth what he calls the age of reason,' to combat revelation; or another offers an apology for the bible,' when no apology except for himself is wanted on the subject; and a third class, who never felt any evidence of the saving grace of Christ upon their own hearts, gather what they call evidences for christianity,' for the supposed benefit of others, where none are wanted, all are equally dark and ignorant of all spiritual knowledge; their views are derived wholly from nature, and end in the same. And as (according to their own principles of philosophy) nothing can rise above its level; so the word of God would have told them, could they have understood it, that what begins in man will never lead to God. One verse of scripture silenceth the whole. "The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto him; neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned," 1 Cor. ii, 14.
But if all such be not witnesses for God, the question is who are? And this, the Lord himself answers, namely, the blind, to whom the Lord hath given spiritual sight, and the deaf, whose ears the Lord hath spiritually unstopped; that is, you, reader, even you, " if so be ye have tasted the Lord is gracious," 1 Pet. ii. 3. The faith of God's elect differs both in cause and effect from all the learning of the world. It is not natural, but spiritual; not learnt by human teaching, but divine; not merited, but given. It is at once the simplest in its effects, and yet the greatest in its cause, of all other principles whatever. As to its cause, the same power which was necessary to raise Christ from the dead, is as necessary to raise sinners which are by nature" dead in tres
passes and sins." And as to its effects, all its consequences are sure. For when the object of divine love is quickened into the new and spiritual life in Christ, it is as natural for him to live upon God, and to God, and with God by faith, as it is for the new-born child in nature to breathe, and move, and do the actions of animal life. Let the reader ask himself the question, whether such an act of saving grace hath passed upon his soul; which is, in other words, whether the Spirit witnesseth with his spirit that he is born of God." Rom. viii. 16.
Ye children of God, ye that have received his testimony, and can and do set to his seal that God is true, be strong in the Lord, and in the word of his grace, who is able to build you up, and give you "an inheritance among all them that are sanctified." And while the Lord is manifesting to you of his love, do you bear witness to his faithfulness; this will be a most effectual method to put to silence the ignorance of foolish men. And nothing will counteract the awful rebuke and blasphemy of the present God-dishonouring, Christdespising, Holy Ghost disowning generation more, than when a child of God, through the work of the Spirit, is living day by day in the personal knowledge of, and fellowship with the Father, and his Son Jesus Christ. Here it is that the true witness for God is discoverable; for it is not the man that talks of God, but he that walks with God; not the mere professor, but the possessor of godliness. Carnal men may, and carnal men will, read of the love of God in the scriptures, and even converse of it one with another; and many also there are that know nothing of Christ personally, who notwithstanding will profess to believe in Christ, and to trust in the blood and righteousness of Christ for salvation. But while men of this complexion take all their creed on trust, the child of God, when regenerated by the Holy Ghost, knows and enjoys both as
living principles in his heart, he daily tastes and sees that the Lord is gracious," because the love of God is shed abroad in his heart by the Holy Ghost," Rom. v. 5. And that love of God diffused over his soul, acts like some rich sweetener, as honey in milk, or spices in wine, which renders the whole most blessed in soul enjoyment. In like manner, the blood of Christ is so graciously sprinkled by the same divine power over this-man's conscience, that it becomes what the Holy Ghost calls," speaking blood;" (Heb. xiii. 24.) for it speaks to God in the sinner's heart of the glorious Person and all-sufficient blood of Christ to cleanse from all sin; and it speaks from God of God's faithfulness in his covenant promises to forgive all sin. And it is of such witnesses God speaks, when he saith, " Ye are my witnesses, saith the Lord.”
And let all the little ones, and the weak ones of Christ's regenerated family, who can, and do bear tes timony to the word of his grace in knowing and feeling the plague of their own heart, and the preciousness and all-sufficiency of the Lord Jesus Christ; let them not be dismayed from the weakness of their faith, or the slenderness of their attainments in the divine life; you are no less witnesses for God on this account, for in respect to your attainments, whether they are small or great, whether weak or strong, those things make no alteration as to your spiritual state before God. Being made a "partaker of the divine nature in Christ," you are, to all intents and purposes, a witness for Christ. 2 Pet. i. 4.
The safety of God's little ones doth not ebb and flow according to the tide of what they feel, but what Christ is. He that is taught of God the Spirit his own nothingness, and Christ's all-sufficiency, is as truly a witness of these grand things, as an apostle or patriarch. And like the man we read of in the gospel, who was born blind, and whose eyes the Lord opened,