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cancel that Title by their Wickedness and Folly. They are juft in the Cafe of disobedient, incorrigible Children, who were born Heirs to a good Eftate; but through their manifold Miscarriages and Undutifulness have fo provoked their Parent, that he at laft thinks fit to difinherit them, and cut them off from that which Nature and his fatherly Kindness first defigned them to.
Thus far I have purfued the first Notion I gave of the Witnefs of the Spirit, that which is general and publick, and concerns the whole Body of Chriftians; and it is in this Senfe that fome of the most learned Expofitors do understand this Text. But yet for all that, upon a more ftrict Confideration of the Apostle's Design in this Chapter, and of what goes before, and what follows after my Text; I am very inclinable to think that St. Paul in thefe Words does more principally intend (or at least that he hath a particular Refpect unto) that latter Notion I gave of the Witnefs of the Spirit.. I mean, that private Teftimony which the Holy Spirit of God gives to the Minds of particular Chriftians, that they are in the Favour of God, and fhall be rewarded with our Lord Jefus at the laft Day. He doth not exclude the publick miraculous Teftimony which the Holy Spirit in thofe Days gave to the Chriftian Caufe; but he seems to take in alfo another Teftimony of the Spirit, by which every Chriftian then
might, and all Chriftians, to the End of the World, may conclude that they in particular were, and are the Elect of God, and fhall certainly one Day be glorified with our Lord Jefus Chrift. This is that which I called the private Witness of the Spirit, and which only concerns particular Perfons; and of this I come now to treat in the fecond Place.
II. If it be ask'd, what this private Witnefs of the Spirit is, to the Minds of particular Perfons, that they are the Children of God, or wherein it doth confift, I answer very briefly, as far as we can gather from the Apostle's Difcourfe, both in this Place, and in others of his Epiftles, it consists in this, viz. In the Holy Ghoft's dwelling in the Hearts of particular Chriftians, and enabling them to mortify their Lufts, and to lead an holy Life, in all Sobriety, Righteousness and Godliness. Now this Indwelling of the Spirit, and these Fruits thereof, where-ever they are found, are to those that have them a Seal of the Spirit of God upon their Souls, whereby they are Eph.4. 30. fealed to the Day of Redemption, as the Apoftle expreffes it. They are an Earneft, or 2 Cor. 1. a Pledge of their future Happiness, as the 2 Cor.5.5. fame Apoftle in other Places calls them.Ephef. 1. Laftly, they are a Testimony or Evidence 13, 14. to their Spirits, that they are the true Sons of God, and shall be glorified with Jefus
Chrift in another World; which is the
Now, that this is the true Meaning of the Spirit's witneffing with our Spirit that we are the Children of God, fo far as that Witness concerns particular Perfons, will appear evidently from what goes before in this Chapter. The main Defign that the Apoftle is purfuing, is, to encourage and animate the Chriftians of his Time, against the Sufferings and Perfecutions they were likely to meet with in this World, upor account of their Religion; and this he doth chiefly from the Confideration of the great Rewards that were laid up for them in the other World. And to this purpofe he tells Rom. 8. them in the tenth Verfe, If Chrift be in you, the Body is indeed dead, becaufe of Sin; but the Spirit is Life, because of Righteoufnefs: That is, Your Body is indeed obnoxious to all forts of outward Calamities, and even to Death itfelf, which is entailed upon the Sons of Adam, upon Account of Sin: But yet the Spirit of Chrift, which he hath given to dwell in you, will procure you a glorious Life in another World, upon Account of that inward fpiritual Righteoufnefs which he worketh in you. This is the Senfe of that Verfe. But because what he here faith, is very shortly expreffed, and fo might be obfcure, he explains himself fufficiently in the next Verse. If, fays he, the Spirit of him that raised up
up Fefus from the Dead, dwell in you, be
Apoftle, ye have received the Spirit of Adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father; viz. Ye are now in a gracious Difpenfation, in a filial State, where ye may chearfully call God, Abba; which, being interpreted, is, Father; and, as his Children, not doubt of receiving an Inheritance from him in the World to come. And then come in the Rom. 8. Words of my Text: The Spirit itself beareth Witness with our Spirit, that we are the .17. Children of God. And if Children, then Heirs, Heirs of God, and Joint-Heirs with Chrift, if fo be that we Juffer with him, that we may also be glorified together. The plain Senfe of which Words, if we make them to cohere with all that went before, cannot appear to be other than this; viz. That that Spirit which dwelt in Chrift, now dwelling in Chriftians; that Spirit which raised up Jefus, now raifing up his Members from the Death of Sin, to a Life of Righteoufnefs, is a Witnefs to all those in whom he doth thus dwell; to all thofe who are thus led by him; is a ftrong Evidence to their Minds that they are the Sons of God, and the Brethren of Chrift, and confequently that they fhall be Sharers of his Inheritance, and be glorified with Him; if fo be they do patiently and conftantly endure the Sufferings they are called out to for his Caufe, as he did before them.
This, as I take it, is the full Senfe of this Text. And now, I hope, I may have