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could remember and rely on His gracious words. Believing in Him as the Saviour who “had power on earth to forgive sins,” they could feel an unshaken and an unshakeable assurance that they were indeed forgiven. What is the nature of the testimony that we may receive, and which shall be at all equivalent to theirs ? To say that we can have no such assurance would be to assert that those sinners were better off than we can be. It would also deny the perpetuity of the Saviour's work. It would be to declare that these blessed and comforting words of the Lord have no meaning for us, and no reference to us. We dare not say this. All His words “are spirit and are life," applying equally

· to all in similar spiritual states. They form promises and consolations which may be realized by all.

The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple(Ps. xix. 7). None who receive the Lord can be excluded from receiving an evidence from the Lord that they are accepted of Him. Although this evidence may be different in different persons, divinely

, adapted to the mental character and to the habits of thought and feeling possessed by each man or woman, yet it should be sufficient for each, and satisfactory to each. This evidence may be considered under two heads, “the witness of the Spirit," and the “ answer of a good conscience toward God.”

1. The witness of the Spirit.

The Saviour promised, If any man will do His will he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God." The knowledge here spoken of must mean more than a reasonable conviction of the truth produced by unanswerable arguments. Such a conviction might be produced in the mind even prior to its obeying the will of God. The knowledge must, therefore, be of a higher and an interior kind. The best illustration of this kind of knowledge is our consciousness that we live, and that we

Our consciousness of life is above argument and beyond argument. We know that we are alive, that we think, that we feel. We never need to pile up proof so as to convince ourselves of our own exist

We also become conscious that we are sinners. This is more than a mere intellectual persuasion or conviction, wrought in our minds by dint of argument. In like manner we can become conscious of spiritual life, light, and peace. Just as the soul feels conscious of natural life, so it may and must become conscious of spiritual life. As we can become conscious of mental pain, perplexity, doubt, distress, so we can become conscious of spiritual peace, joy, intelligence, certainty, and confidence. When we love our friends we are conscious of our


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love. Nothing could persuade us that we do not love them. Not only do we feel the love, but we are consciously aware that we feel it. To have a feeling of which we are not conscious is impossible, for we must be conscious of the feeling if we feel it. This evidence of feeling is the highest and most internal evidence which we can have. It is the proof to us that we live, and it lies at the base of every other proof. The knowledge of the doctrine which will be attained by obeying the will of God, therefore, is an internal conviction, a conscious certainty of the truth.

Hence Paul, describing this inward testimony of spiritual life, says, As many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye huve received the spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit that we are the children of God(Rom. viii. 14-16). This, again, plainly refers to our inward consciousness of having received spiritual life, of our being spiritually alive. It points to the opening in man of a new consciousnessconsciousness of new states, new thoughts, new feelings, new desires and inclinations. This new consciousness proves to us, beyond the reach of argument or of doubt, that we are made new creatures in Christ Jesus our Lord. It may become just as deep and just as clear to us as our previous consciousness of existence, of joy and pain, of love and aversion, of intelligence and darkness, of our previous condition of sinfulness and of distress because of sin.

Hence, again, the Divine process of regeneration is described as a fact of which we can know with certainty. The Lord says,

He that heareth my word, and believeth on Him that sent me hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation ; but is PASSED from death unto life (John vi. 24). This is not merely a promise which is to be fulfilled in the future : it describes a present change, and also implies a present consciousness of that change. He “HATH everlasting life; ” he “JS PASSED from death unto life.” Everlasting life means more than that its possessors shall live for ever. The phrase “everlasting life,” or “eternal life,” denotes a life of a certain character or quality. It is equivalent to the phrase “spiritual life.” It is called eternal and everlasting, because it comes from the Lord who is the ETERNAL, and is used in contradistinction from our merely natural life, which is “of the earth, earthy." As we are conscious of our natural life, so we must become conscious of spiritual life. As our consciousness of our natural life, with its joys, pains, anxieties, and vicissitudes, is the supreme proof

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to us that we do live naturally, so our consciousness of our spiritual life, with its joys, sorrows, anxieties, and changes of state, will be the supreme proof to us that we are spiritually made alive.

Hence, likewise, the Divine process of regeneration is described as a quickening. Nou, if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His. If the spirit of Him that raised up Jesus dwell in you, He that raised up Christ from the dead shall also QUICKEN your mortal budies by His Spirit that dwelleth in you(Rom. viii. 9, 11). So, again, the same Apostle writes to the Ephesian Church, “ And you hath He QUICKENED,

who were dead in trespasses and sins. God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us, even when ue were dead in sins, hath QUICKENED us together with Christ” (Eph. ii. 1, 4,5). Those who are naturally quickened are naturally alive. They are conscious of their existence. The difference between “the quick" and “the dead" is to be found in the consciousness of the quick, and the unconsciousness of the dead. So also correspondingly, those who have been spiritually quickened are spiritually made alive. They are, in like manner, conscious of their spiritual existence. They are the spiritually "quick” as contradistinguished from the spiritually “dead," those “dead in trespasses and sins." All men have degrees in their capacity of receiving life from the Lord :-a celestial degree, a spiritual degree, and a natural degree. Between the natural and the spiritual degree of capacity exists the rational faculty. The natural degree is opened in all men. It is the plane into which flows life from the Lord. All men live as to this natural degree of life. The rational faculty is likewise opened in all men, to a greater or less extent. It is the plane of our consciousness. We are conscious of our natural life, of its pains and pleasures, of its affections and desires, of its appetites and aspirations, because our rational faculty is opened and adjoined to the natural degree of our souls. The spiritual degree of our life is closed when we are born, but it can be opened within us by the Lord. It can be quickened," so that spiritual love, joy, peace, tranquillity, aspiration, trust, and hope may flow down thence into our rational faculty, and thus we may become rationally conscious of the spiritual life which we have received from the Lord. Our plane of consciousness continues to be the rational mind, for it is in that mind, or principle, or faculty, that we consciously feel, think and desire. We there become conscious of our life, whatever its degree or quality. When we accept and believe divine truths, begin to love them, and seek to make them live in our lives and conduct, we open our rational mind upwards to the Lord, and

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the Lord opens the spiritual degree of our souls; He quickens it with life from Himself. This new life flows into our rational plane of conscions feeling and thought. We not only live spiritually, but we rationally know that we are spiritually alive. This consciousness of spiritual life is the witness of the Spirit to our spirits, enabling us

Abba, Father.It is the supreme proof to us that we are adopted into the family of God. It convinces us, beyond all doubt, and beyond all question, that being children we are heirs, heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ;" that is, with the Humanity which God assumed and glorified with His own glory. Then,if so be that we suffer” with Christ, we shall “ be also glorified together" with Him. Like as the human nature of Jesus Christ was successively opened, and glorified with the Divine inflowing life of the Eternal Jehovah, until in Him now dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily," so likewise we may receive spiritual life and celestial life from the Lord, become conscious of its presence and activity, and know of a surety that we are the sons and daughters of God. It is to this assurance that the prophet alludes, “and the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness, quietness und assurance. for ever" (Isa. xxxii. 17).

We may characterize this, the higher testimony and ground of assurance, the direct witness of the Spirit. There is also a subordinate and an indirect testimony which all true Christians may receive. It furnishes an additional and confirmatory evidence to those already conscious of spiritual life. It also supplies a means of testing the reality of that consciousness. It likewise affords a ground of assurance to those who have not yet attained that deep and abiding consciousness.

2. This secondary evidence is described by the Apostle Peter as the answer of a good conscience toward God(1 Pet. iii. 21).

This assurance arises from an examination of our own souls, into our motives, purposes, and ways of life, to see whether or not we “have always a conscience void of offence toward God and toward men(Acts xxiv. 16).

This is the witness of the conscience. When the accusers of the woman taken in adultery heard the words of the Saviour they were “convicted of their consciences and went out." Those to whom the guidance of the Commandments has not been afforded, the Apostle teaches

us, have still the light which shineth on all; they may become a law unto themselves, which show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another” (Rom. ii. 15). To


such a testimony of conscience Paul appealed, when he said, “I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Spirit(Rom. ix. 1). To the same tribunal he again appeals, For our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, we have had our conversation in the world(2 Cor. i. 12). Hence also the Apostle instructed Timothy, “ Nou, the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned" (1 Tim. i. 5); whom likewise he recommends to war a good warfare, holding faith and a good conscience" (v. 19). A bishop also is to hold the mystery of faith in a pure conscience" (1 Tim. iii. 9). The wicked are described as having their conscience seared as with a hot iron (1 Tim. iv. 2).

Man's conscience is that faculty by which he measures the moral rightness or wrongness of what he feels, says, or does. Its judgments are ever in accordance with the light which the man has; with what he really believes to be true and right. It is capable of being instructed; or its monitions may be so habitually disregarded as to cease altogether to approve or reprove. A Christian conscience is this faculty as instructed by those mural and spiritual precepts of the Word, which show how we ought to feel, act, and speak. A good conscience, a pure conscience, or the answer of a good conscience, is a conscience which acquits us as being “void of offence toward God and toward man." When we survey our lives, and feel that we have kept the commandments of God, that we have walked before Him blameless, we have such an answer of a good conscience. When we examine our motives, and are sure that they are continually prompting us to the doing of right according to our knowledge, to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly before God, our conscience bears testimony that we are accepted of God. We are no longer condemned by the tribunal which God has set up in our souls; and then the Lord's words to the accused woman apply

Neither do I condemn thee: go and sin no more." Man's conscience is the penman which is continually writing down praise or blame in his book of life, his inner memory of all that he says or does. Its accusations and its approvals furnish us with a test by which to try, and according to which we must judge ourselves. It is spoken of by the apostle John as the heart." If our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God(1 John iii. 21). Our confidence that we are the children of God, and accepted of Him, must ever be in the same proportion as our hearts or consciences do not con

to us,

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