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Minds of Chriftians then, it is ftill a good Witnefs to us now. If they, from what they faw, might reafonably be convinced that the Chriftian Religion was the Way to Heaven; we, from what we read of thofe Things, and the Certainty we have of the Truth of them (in all the Ways that a Thing done long ago may be made certain to us), we fay, we have the fame Reason to be convinced that Chriftianity is the Way to Heaven ftill.
If it be faid, that Evidence of Senfe is of greater Force than Evidence of Report, let it come from what Hands it will; I anfwer, I grant it to be fo: But yet what we want of the Spirit's Witness, by reafon of our not being prefent when thofe Things were done, is abundantly made up by the Spirit's Witness in our Days, to the Truth of Chrift's Promises, which they, who lived then, had not the Benefit of. As for inftance, the Fulfilling of our Saviour's Promises, Time after Time; the strange Success and speedy Propagation of Chrift's Religion throughout the World; the miraculous Prefervation of it in the World; the Deftruction of the Devil's Empire, where-ever the Christian Faith got Footing; with a great many other Things, not now feasonable to be infifted on; fo that, taking thefe Things together, the Fulness of the Evidence we have for the Truth of the Matters of Fact, wrought by the Spirit in the ancient Times, for the B 4 Confir
Confirmation of Chrift's Doctrine, and the new Arguments that the fame Spirit hath given us fince; we, at this Day, have as much Reason to fay with St. Paul, as any in those Days had, The Spirit it felf beareth witness with our Spirit, that we are the Children of God: That we Chriftians, in Contradiftinction to Men of all other Religions, are the very People of God, and Heirs of eternal Life, if we do not forfeit our Title to it by a loofe and wicked Life.
Two or three practical Inferences I defire to draw from this Point, before I proceed any further.
1. It ought to be Matter of unfpeakable Comfort and Rejoicing to us, that we have fuch an infallible Witness as the Spirit of God, to bear Teftimony to our Minds, that we are in a right and fure Way to eternal Happiness that we wander not in the dark, uncertain what Courfe to fteer, and uncertain what will become of us hereafter: (as they, who are without Chrift, muft needs be) but have all the Affurance that honeft Men need, or wife Men can reasonably defire; that by believing and practising our Religion we fhall undoubtedly arrive at Immortality. O what a lively Senfe ought we to have of this ineftimable Bleffing! How deeply ought we to be affected with it! How heartily ought we to praise God for it! We fhould never in our Devotions
leave this unmentioned. We should perpetually acknowledge in the most grateful Manner, the infinite Obligations that God hath put upon us, in difpofing us into fo happy a Country as this of ours is, where we have the Privileges of a Chriftian Education, and enjoy fo plentifully the certain Means of obtaining eternal Glory.
2. The Spirit's bearing Witnefs to our Minds thus effectually, that we are the Children of God, fhould be an Argument to us above all others, that we should never depart from our Chriftian Profeffion; but that we fhould hold it to our Lives End, without wavering; nay and be zealous for it: For where can we have eternal Life but in the Faith of Jesus Christ? And to what People in the World hath the Holy Spirit fet his Seal that they are God's People, but to the Society of the Christian Church? This Confideration should inspire us all with an invincible Refolution to maintain our Faith against all Opposition; It fhould fortify our Minds against all the Scoffs and Railleries we can meet with from prophane, Atheistical Men in the Profeffion of it. It should comfort and relieve us under all the Difficulties, or hard Circumftances that we can be expofed to upon the account thereof. And lastly, it should animate us with fuch a Conftancy, in adhering to this Faith, that we should rather chufe
chufe to quit our Lives, than to depart
3. We are always to remember, that when the Spirit gave his Witnefs to the Christians that they were the Children of God, it was to the Chriftians, as profeffing the true Faith of Chrift: to the Christians, as profeffing that Faith which was deliver'd by our Lord Jefus, and preach'd by his Apoftles to the World, and afterwards by the fame Apostles, or Apoftolical Men, put into Writing, and conveyed down to us in the Scriptures of the New Teftament: And therefore it infinitely concerns us to hold ftedfaftly that Faith which Chrift thus deliver'd, and the Apoftles preach'd, and the Scriptures contain, (as God be thank'd that, and no other, is the Faith which our Church holds forth) and by no Means to add to it, or detract from it. So long as we believe and profefs Chriftianity, as it was taught in the Apoftolical Times, fo long we are fure the Spirit beareth Witness to us, that we are the Children of God. But if we take up, or receive any other Faith, from whatfoever Quarter, or under whatfoever fpecious Name it comes recommended; any Faith that is contradictory to, or inconfiftent with that of the first Ages; any Faith that may be called another Faith Jude v. 3.from that which is Scriptural, and was once delivered to the Saints; then we can no longer
longer warrant that the Spirit of God fhall bear Witness with our Spirits that we are the Children of God.
4. But laftly, tho' it be here faid of all Chriftians in general, that the Spirit bears Witness to them that they are the Children of God, yet it is to be remember'd that no Benefit will hereby accrue to any particular Perfon that profeffeth Chriftianity, if he does not lead his Life according to the Precepts of it. And therefore it mightily concerns us all, to adorn our Profeffion by a holy Life: To take Care left that a Promife Heb. 4. 1. being made unto us of entring into God's Reft, we should fall fhort thereof, through a careless, fenfual ungodly Life. It is true that all Men are by Baptifm made the Children of God, and Heirs of everlafting Life: But yet, no Man fhall actually inherit that everlasting Life, but he, who through the Rom. 8. Spirit mortifies the Deeds of the Body, and 13. lives righteously, foberly and godly in this Tit. 2. 12. World. If it be faid, how can this be, that any of those to whom the Spirit witnesseth that they are the Children of God, fhould prove the Children of the Devil? The Anfwer is easy; that whatever they may prove in the Event, yet by their Chriftianity they are the Children of God, and have a Right and Title to the Inheritance of Chriftians: But if they depart from the Rules of their Religion, they forfeit that Right, and they