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periences, as to the manner of my conversion. Not that there are no other good evidences of a state of grace but this. There may be other exercises of grace, besides these efficient exercises, which the saints may have in contemplation, that may be very satisfying to them, but yet this is the chief and most proper evidence. There may be several good evidences that a tree is a figtree; but the highest and most proper evidence of it is, that it actually bears figs. It is possible, that a man may have a good assurance of a state of grace, at his first conversion, before he has had opportunity to gain assurance, by this great evidence I am speaking of....If a man hears that a great treasure is offered him, in a distant place, on condition that he will prize it so much, as to be willing to leave what he possesses at home, and go a journey for it, over the rocks and mountains that are in the way, to the place where it is; it is possible the man may be well assured, that he values the treasure to the degree spoken of, as soon as the offer is made him: He may feel within him, a willingness to go for the treasure, beyond all doubt; but yet, this does not hinder but that his actual going for it, is the highest and most proper evidence of his being willing, not only to others, but to himself. But then as an evidence to himself, his outward actions, and the motions of his body in his journey, are not considered alone, exclusive of the action of his mind, and a consciousness within himself, of the thing that moves him, and the end he goes for ; otherwise his bodily motion is no evidence to him of his prizing the treasure. In such a manner is Christian practice the most proper evidence of a saving value of the pearl of great price, and treasure hid in the field.
Christian practice is the sign of signs, in this sense, that it is the great evidence, which confirms and crowns all other signs of godliness. There is no one grace of the Spirit of God, but that Christian practice is the most proper evidence of the truth of it. As it is with the members of our bodies, and all our utensils, the proper proof of the soundness and goodness of them, is in the use of them : So it is with our graces (which are given to be used in practice, as much as our hands and feet, or the tools with which we work, or the arms
with which we fight) the proper trial and proof of them is in their exercise in practice. Most of the things we use are serviceable to us, and so have their serviceableness proved, in some pressure, straining, agitation, or collision. So it is with a bow, a sword, an axe, a saw, a cord, a chain, a staff, a foot, a tooth, &c. And they that are so weak, as not to bear the strain or pressure we need to put them to, are good for nothing. So it is with all the virtues of the mind. The proper trial and proof of them, is in being exercised under those temptations and trials that God brings us under, in the course of his providence, and in being put to such service as strains hard upon the principles of nature.
Practice is the proper proof of the true and saving knowledge of God; as appears by that of the apostle already mentioned, “ hereby do we know that we know him, that we keep his commandmenis." It is in vain for us to profess that we know God, if in works we deny him. Tit. i. 16. " And if we know God, but glorify him not as God; our knowledge will only condemn us, and not save us, Rom. i. 21. The great note of that knowledge which saves and makes happy, is, that it is practical, John xiii. 17. “If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them. Job xxviii. 28. To depart from evil is understanding.”'
Holy practice is the proper evidence of repentance. When the Jews professed repentance, when they came confessing their sins, to John, preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins; he directed them to the right way of getting and cxhibiting proper evidences of the truth of their repentance, when he said to them, “ Bring forth fruits meet for repentance.” Matth. iii. 8. Which was agreeable to the practice of the Apostle Paul ; see Acts xxvi. 20. Pardon and mercy are from time to time promised to him who has this evidence of true repentance, that he forsakes his sin, Pror. xxviii. 13, and Isa. lv. 7, and many other places. • Holy practice is the proper evidence of a saving faith. It is evident that the Apostle James speaks of works, as what do eminently justify faith, or (which is the same thing) justify the professors of faith, and vindicate and manifest the
sincerity of their profession, not only to the world, but to their own consciences; as is evident by the instance he gives of Abraham, James ij. 21.... 24. And in verse 20, and 26, he speaks of the practical and working nature of faith, as the very life and soul of it ; in the same manner that the active nature and substance, which is in the body of a man, is the life and soul of that. And if so, doubtless practice is the proper evidence of the life and soul of true faith, by which it is distinguished from a dead faith. For doubtless, practice is the most proper evidence of a practical nature, and operation the most proper evidence of an operative nature.
Practice is the best evidence of a saving belief of the truth. That is spoken of as the proper evidence of the truth's being in a professing Christian, that he walks in the truth, 3 John 3. « I rejoiced greatly when the brethren came and testified of the truth that is in thee, even as thou walkest in the truth."
Practice is the most proper evidence of a true coming to Christ, and accepting of, and closing with him. A true and saving coming to Christ, is (as Christ often teaches) a coming so as to forsake all for him. And, as was observed before, to forsake all for Christ in heart, is the same thing as to have a heart actually to forsake all; but the proper evi. dence of having a heart actually to forsake all, is, indeed, actually to forsake all so far as called to it. If a prince make suit to a woman in a far country, that she would forsake her own people, and father's house, and come to him to be his bride ; the proper evidence of the compliance of her heart with the king's suit, is her actually forsaking her own people and father's house, and coming to him.... By this her compliance with the king's suit is made perfect, in the same sense that the Apostle James says, By works is faith made perfect.* Christ promises us eter
*“Our real taking of Christ appears in our actions and works, Isa. i. 19. If ye consent and obey, ye shall eat the good things of the land. That is, if ye will consent to take JEHOVAH for your Lord and King : If ye give consent, there is the first thing; but that is not enough, but if ye also obey. The consent that standeth in the joward act of the mind, the truth of it will be
nal life, on condition of our coming to him : But it is such a coming as he directed the yoimg man to, who came to inquire what he should do that he might have eternal life ; Christ bade him go and sell all that he had, and come to him, and follow him. If he had consented in bis heart to the proposal, and had therein come to Christ in his heart, the proper evidence of it would have been his doing of it; and therein his coming to Christ would have been made perfect. When Christ called Levi the publican, when sitting at the receipt of custom, and in the midst of his worldly gains; the closing of Levi's heart with this invitation of his Saviour to come to him, was manifosted, and made perfect by his actually rising up, leaving all, and following him, Luke v.37,28. Christ, and other things, are set before us together, for us practically to cleave to one, and forsake the other : In such a case, a practical cleaving to Christ is a practical acceptance of Christ; as much as a beggar's reaching out his hand and taking a gift that is offered, is his practical acceptance of the gift. Yea, that act of the soul that is in cleaving to Christ in practice is itself the most perfect coming of the soul to Christ.
Practice is the most proper evidence of trusting in Christ for salvation. The proper signification of the word trusi, according to the more ordinary use of it, both in common speech and in the holy scriptures, is the emboldening and encouragement of a person's mind, to run some venture in practice, or in something that he does on the credit of another's suficiency and faithfulness. And, therefore, the proper eridence of his trusting, is the venture he runs in what he does. He is not properly said to run any venture, in a dependence on any thing, that does nothing on that dependence, or whose practice is no otherwise than if he had no dependence. For a man to run a venture on a dependence on another, is for him to do something from that dependence by which he seems to expose himself, and which he would
scen in your obedierce, in the acts of your lives. If ye consent and obey, ye shall eat the good things of the land ; that is, you shall take of all that he hath that is convenient for you ; for then you are married to him in truth, and have an interest in all his goods." Dr, Preston's Churck's Carriage.
not do, were it not for that dependence. And, therefore, it is in complying with the difficulties, and seeming dangers of Christian practice, in a dependence on Christ's sufficiency and faithfulness to bestow eternal life, that persons are said to venture themselves upon Christ, and trust in him for happiness and life. They ciepend on such promises, as that, Matth.
“ He that loseth his life for my sake, shall find it." And so they part with all, and venture their all, in a depen. đence on Christ's sufficiency and truth. And this is the scripture notion of trusting in Christ, in the exercise of a saving faith in him. Thus Abraham, the father of believers, trusted in Christ, and by faith forsook his own country, in a reli. ance on the covenant of grace God established with him, Heb. xi. 8, 9. Thus, also “ Moses, by faith refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a scason," Heb. xi. 28, &c. So by faith, others exposed themselves to be stoned and sawn „asunder, or slain with the sword; « endured the trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, bonds and imprisonments, and wandered about in sheep skins, and goat skins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented.” And in this sense the Apostle Paul, by faith trusted in Christ, and comınitted himself to him, venturing himself, and his whole interest, in a dependence on the abil. ity and faithfulness of his Redeemer, under great persecutions, and in sufiering the loss of all things, 2 Tim. i. 12, « for the which cause I also suffer these things ; neverthelcss I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am persuaded, that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day."
If a man should have word brought him from the king of a distant island, that he intended to make him his heir, if, upon receiving the tidings, he immediately leaves his native land and friends, and all that he has in the world, to go to that country, in a dependence on what he hears, then he may be said to venture himself, and all that he has in the world upon it. But, if he only sits still, and hopes for the promised benefit, inwardly pleasing himself with the thoughts of it;