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SINCE there be so many people living under the ordinances, pretending, without ground, to a special interest in Christ, and to his favor and salvation, as is clear, “Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name, and in thy name have cast out devils, and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you ; depart from me, ye thut work iniquity..? “ Afterwards came also the other virgins, saying. Lord, Lord, open to us. But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not." « Strive to enter in at the strait gate ; for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able." And since many, who have good ground of claim to Christ are not esablished in the confidence of his favour, but remain in the dark, without comfort, hesitating concerning the reality of godliness in themselves, and speaking little to the commendation of religion to others, especially in the time of their straits, I shall speak a little to two things of the greatest concernment : The one as, How a person shall know if he hath a true and special interest in Christ, and whether he doth lay just claim to God's favour and salvation? The other is, In case a person full short in the foresaid trial, what course he shall take for making sure God's friendship and salvation to himself?
QUESTION.... How shall a Man know if he hath a true and Special Interest in Christ, and whether he hath, or may lay claim justly to, God's favor and salvation ?
A MAN'S INTEREST IN CHRIST MAY BE KNOWN.'
It is a matter of the highest importance, and is to be de
termined by Scripture.
EFORE we speak directly to the question, we shall premise some things, to make way for the answer.
First, That a man's interest in Christ, or his gracious state, may be known, and that with more certainty than people do conjecture; yea, and the knowledge of it may be more easily attained unto than many do imagine for not only hath the Lord commanded men to know their interest in him, as a thing attainable, " Examine yourselves whether ye be in the faith," "Give diligence to make your calling and election sure ;" but many of the saints have attained unto the clear persuasion of their interest in Christ, and in God as their own God. How often do they call him their God and their portion ? and how persuaded is Paul “ that nothing can separate him from the love of God?” Therefore the knowledge of a man's gracious state is attainable.
And this knowledge of it, which may be attained, is no fancy and bare conceit, but it is most sure; “ Doubtless thou art our Father," faith the prophet, in the name of the church. It is clear thus : 47.) That can be no fancy, but a very sure knowledge, which doth yield to a rational man comfort in most real ftraits : but fo doth this ; 6 When the people spake of stoning David, he encouraged himself in the Lord his God." He faith there, “ he will not be afraid of ten thousands that rise against him.” Compare these words with that pfalm, 6 But thou, O Lord, art a fhield for me : my glory, and the lifter up of mine head.” “ The Lord is my light, and my falvation, whom shall I fear ? the Lord is the strength of my life, of whom shall I be afraid ? Tho' an host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear : though war should rise against me, in this will I be confident.” (2.) That is a fure knowledge of a thing which maketh a wise merchant sell all he hath that he may keep it fure ; that maketh a man forego children, lands, life, and suffer the spoiling of all joyfully : but so doth this. (3.) That must be a fure and certain knowledge, and no fancy, whereupon a man voluntarily and freely doth adventure his soul when he is stepping into eternity, with this word in his mouth, “ This is all my desire :” but such a knowledge is this.
And again, not only may a godly man come to the sure knowledge of his gracious state, but it is more easily attainable than many do apprehend : for supposing, what shall be afterwards proved, that a man may know the gracious work of God's Spirit in himself; if he will but argue rationally from thence, he shall be forced to conclude his interest in Christ, unless he deny clear Scripture truths. I shall only make use of one here, because we are to ipeak more directly to this afterwards. A godly man may argue thus, Whosoever receiveth Christ are juftly reputed the children of God, “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the fons of God;" but I have received Christ all the ways
hich the word there can import; for I please the de
vice of salvation by Chrift; I agree to the terms; I welcome the offer of Christ in all his offices, as a King to rule over me, a Priest to offer and intercede for me, a Prophet to teach me ; I lay out my heart for him and towards him, resting on him as I am able. What elfe can be meant by the word RECEIVING ? Therefore may I say, and conclude plainly and warrantably, I am just.. ly to reckon myself God's child according to the aforefaid Scripture, which cannot fail.
The Second thing to be premised is, That a man be favingly in covenant with God is a matter of the highest importance ;
“ It is his life;" and yet very few have or feek after a faving interest in the covenant, and many foolishly think they have such a thing without any folid ground : “ Few find, or walk, in the narrow way.”— This should alarm people to be serious about the matter, since it is of so great consequence to be -in Chrift, and since there be but few that may lay just claim to him ; and yet many do foolishly fancy an interest in him, who are deceived by a false confidence, as the foolish virgins do.
The Third thing to be premised is, Men must resolve to be determined by Scripture in this matter of their interest in Chrift. The Spirit speaking in the Scripture is judge of all controversies : “ To the law and to the teftimony ; if they fpeak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them ;" and of this also, whether a man be favingly in covenant with God or not.Therefore do not mock God whilft you seem to fearch after fuch a thing. If we prove from Scripture, which is the uncontroverted rule, that you are gracious, and have stricken covenant savingly with God, then resolve to grant fo much, and to acquiefce in'it : and if the contrary appear, let there be a determination of the controverly, else you do but mock the Lord, and fo * your bands shall be made ftrong ;" for 6 a jot of his word cannot fail :" Therefore seek eye-falve from Christ to judge of things according as the word of God shall difcover them to be.