In the words of Scripture, which head this page, you see the Apostle
Paul looking three ways: downward, backward, forward. Downward to
the grave,—backward to his own ministry,—forward to that great day,
the day of judgment.
I invite you this day to stand by the Apostle’s side a few
minutes, and mark the words he uses. Happy is that soul who can look
where Paul looked, and then speak as Paul spoke!
to the grave, and he does it without fear.
Hear what he says.
“I am ready to be offered.” I am like an animal brought to the place
of sacrifice, and bound with cords to the very horns of the altar.
The wine and oil have been poured on my head, according to the custom.
The last ceremonies have been gone through. Every preparation has
been made. It only remains to receive the death-blow, and then all
“The time of my departure is at hand.” I am like a ship about to
unmoor and put to sea. All on board is ready. I only wait to have
the moorings cast off that fasten me to the shore, and I shall then
set sail and begin my voyage.
Reader, these are glorious words to come from the lips of a child
of Adam like ourselves. Death is a solemn thing, and never so much
so as when we see it close at hand. The grave is a chilling, heart-sickening
place, and it is vain to pretend it has no terrors. Yet here is a mortal
can look calmly into the narrow house appointed for all living, and
say, while he stands upon the brink, “I see it all, and am not afraid.”
Let us listen to him again. He looks
to his ministerial
life, and he does it without shame. Hear what he says.
“I have fought a good fight.” There he speaks as a soldier. I have
fought that good battle with the world, the flesh, and the devil,
from which so many shrink and draw back.
“I have finished my course.” There he speaks as one who has run
for a prize. I have run the race marked out for me: I have gone over
the ground appointed for me, however rough and steep. I have not
turned aside because of difficulties, nor been discouraged by the
length of the way. I am at last in eight of the goal.
“I have kept the faith.” There he speaks as a steward. I have held
fast that glorious Gospel which was committed to my trust. I have not
mingled it with man’s traditions, nor spoiled its simplicity
by adding my own inventions, nor allowed others to adulterate it without
withstanding them to the face. “As a soldier,—a runner,—a steward,” he
seems to say, “I am not ashamed.”
Reader, that Christian is happy who, as he quits this world, can
leave such testimony behind him. A good conscience will save no man,—wash
away no sin,—not lift us one hair’s breadth toward heaven. Yet,
a good conscience will be found a pleasant visitor at our bed-side
in a dying hour. Do you remember that place in “Pilgrim’s Progress” which
describes Old Honest’s passages across the river of death? “The
river,” says Bunyan, “at that time overflowed its banks in some places;
but Mr. Honest, in his life-time, had spoken to one, Good Conscience,
to meet him there: the which he also did, and lent him his hand, and
so helped him over.” Believe me, there is a mine of truth in that
Let us hear the Apostle once more. He looks
great day of reckoning, and he does it without doubt. Mark his words.
“Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which
the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give me at that day; and not to
me only, but unto all them also that love His appearing.” A glorious
reward, he seems to say, is ready and laid up in store for me: even
that crown which is only given to the righteous. In the great day
of judgment the Lord shall give this crown to me, and to all beside
me who have loved Him as an unseen Saviour, and longed to see Him
face to face. My work on earth is over. This one thing now remains
for me to look forward to, and nothing more.
Reader, observe that the Apostle speaks without any hesitation or
distrust. He regards the crown as a sure thing: as his own already.
He declares with unfaltering confidence his firm persuasion that
the righteous Judge will give it to him. Paul was no stranger to
all the circumstances and accompaniments of that solemn day to which
he referred. The great white throne,—the assembled world,—the open books,—the revealing
of all secrets,—the listening angels,—the awful sentence,—the eternal
separation of the lost and saved,—all these were things with which
he was well acquainted. But none of these things moved him. His strong
faith overleaped them all, and only saw Jesus, his all-prevailing Advocate,
and the blood of sprinkling, and sin washed away. “A crown,” he says, “is
laid up for me.” “The Lord Himself
give it to me.” He
speaks as if he saw it all with his own eyes.
Such are the main things which these verses contain. Of most of
them I cannot pretend to speak, for space would not allow me. I shall
only try to set before you one point in the passage, and that is “the assured
hope” with which the Apostle looks forward to his own prospects in
the day of judgment.
I shall do this the more readily, because of the great importance
which I feel attaches to the subject of assurance, and the great neglect
with which, I humbly conceive, it is often treated in this day.
But I shall do it at the same time with fear and trembling. I feel
that I am treading on very difficult ground, and that it is easy
to speak rashly and unscripturally in this matter. The road
between truth and error is here especially a narrow pass, and if
I shall be enabled to do good to some without doing harm to others,
I shall be very thankful.
Reader, there are four things I wish to bring before you in speaking
of the subject of assurance, and it may clear our way if I name them
to you at once.
I. First, then, I will try to show you that
an assured hope, such
as Paul here expresses, is a true and Scriptural thing.
II. Secondly, I will make this broad concession,—that a man
never arrive at this assured hope, and yet be saved.
III. Thirdly, I will give you some reasons
why an assured
hope is exceedingly to be desired.
IV. Lastly, I will try to point out some causes
why an assured
hope is so seldom attained.
I. First, then, I will try to show you that
an assured hope is
a true and Scriptural thing.
Assurance, such as Paul expresses in the verses which head this
tract, is not a mere fancy or feeling. It is not the result of high
animal spirits, or a sanguine temperament of body. It is a positive
gift of the Holy Ghost, bestowed without reference to men’s
bodily frames or constitutions, and a gift which
ought to aim at and seek after.
The Word of God appears to me to teach that a believer may arrive
at an assured confidence with regard to his own salvation.
I would lay it down fully and broadly, that a true Christian, a
converted man, may reach that comfortable degree of faith in Christ,
that in general he shall feel entirely confident as to the pardon
and safety of his soul,—shall seldom be troubled with doubts,—seldom be distracted
with hesitation,—seldom be distressed by anxious questionings,—and,
in short, though vexed by many an inward conflict with sin, shall
look forward to death without trembling, and to judgment without
Such is my account of assurance. I will ask you to mark it well. I
say neither less nor more than I have here laid down.
Now, such a statement as this is often disputed and denied. Many cannot
see the truth of it at all.
The Church of Rome denounces assurance in the most unmeasured terms.
The Council of Trent declares roundly, that a “believer’s assurance
of the pardon of his sins is a vain and ungodly confidence;” and Cardinal
Bellarmine, the well-known champion of Romanism, calls it “a prime
error of heretics.”
The vast majority of the worldly among ourselves oppose the doctrine
of assurance. It offends and annoys them to hear of it. They do not
like others to feel comfortable and sure, because they never feel so
themselves. That they
cannot receive it is certainly no marvel.
But there are also some true believers who reject assurance, or shrink
from it as a doctrine fraught with danger. They consider it borders
on presumption. They seem to think it a proper humility never to be
confident, and to live in a certain degree of doubt. This is to be
regretted, and does much harm.
I frankly allow there are some
profess to feel a confidence for which they have no Scriptural warrant.
There always are some people who think well of themselves when God
thinks ill, just as there are some who think ill of themselves when
God thinks well. There always will be such. There never yet was a
Scriptural truth without abuses and counterfeits. God’s election,—man’s
impotence,—salvation by grace,—all are alike abused. There will be
fanatics and enthusiasts as long as the world stands. But, for all
this, assurance is a real, sober, and true thing; and God’s
children must not let themselves be driven from the use of a truth,
merely because it is abused.
My answer to all who deny the existence of real, well-grounded assurance
is simply this,—What saith the Scripture? If assurance be not there,
I have not another word to say.
But does not Job say, “I
that my Redeemer liveth,
and that He shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: and though
after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see
(Job xix. 25, 26.)
Does not David say, “Though I walk through the valley of the shadow
of death, I will fear no
evil: for Thou art with me; thy
rod and Thy staff they comfort me”? (Psalm xxiii. 4.)
Does not Isaiah say, “Thou wilt keep him in
mind is stayed on Thee, because he trusteth in Thee”? (Isaiah xxvi.
And again, “The work of righteousness shall be peace, and the effect
of righteousness quietness and
for ever.” (Isaiah
Does not Paul say to the Romans, “I am
life, nor death, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor
things present, nor things to come, not height, nor depth, nor any
other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God,
which is in Christ Jesus our Lord”? (Rom. viii. 38, 39.)
Does he not say to the Corinthians, “We
that if our
earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building
of God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens”? (2
Cor. v. 1.)
And again, “We are always
knowing that whilst
we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord.” (2 Cor.
Does he not say to Timothy, “I
whom I have believed,
and am persuaded
that He is able to keep that which I have
committed to Him”? (2 Tim. i. 12.)
And does he not speak to the Colossians of “the full assurance of
understanding” (Coloss. ii. 2), and to the Hebrews of the “full assurance
of faith,” and the “full assurance of hope”? (Heb. vi. 11; x. 22.)
Does not Peter say expressly, “Give diligence to make your calling
and election sure
”? (2 Peter i. 10.)
Does not John say, “We
that we have passed from death
unto life”? (1 John iii. 14.)
And again, “These things have I written unto you that believe on
the name of the Son of God, that ye may
know that ye have
eternal life.” (1 John v. 13.)
And again, “We
that we are of God.” (1 John v. 19.)
Reader, what shall we say to these things? I desire to speak with
all humility on any controverted point. I feel that I am only a poor
fallible child of Adam myself. But I must say, that in the passages
I have just quoted I see something far higher than the mere “hopes” and “trusts” with
which so many believers appear content in this day. I see the language
of persuasion, confidence, knowledge,—nay, I may almost say, of certainty.
And I feel, for my own part, if I may take these Scriptures in their
plain, obvious meaning, the doctrine of assurance is true.
But my answer, furthermore, to all who dislike the doctrine of assurance,
as bordering on presumption, is this: it can hardly be presumption
to tread in the steps of Peter and Paul, of Job and of John. They were
all eminently humble and lowly-minded men, if ever any were; and yet
they all speak of their own state with an assured hope. Surely this
should teach us that deep humility and strong assurance are perfectly
compatible, and that there is not any necessary connection between
spiritual confidence and pride.
My answer, furthermore, is, that many have attained to such an assured
hope as our text expresses, even in modern times. I will not concede
for a moment that it was a peculiar privilege confined to the Apostolic
day. There have been, in our own land, many believers who have appeared
to walk in almost uninterrupted fellowship with the Father and the
Son,—who have seemed to enjoy an almost unceasing sense of the light
of God’s reconciled countenance shining down upon them, and have
left their experience on record. I could mention well-known names,
if space permitted. The thing has been, and is,—and that is enough.
My answer, lastly, is, it cannot be wrong to feel confidently in
a matter where God speaks unconditionally,—to believe decidedly when
God promises decidedly,—to have a sure persuasion of pardon and peace
when we rest on the word and oath of Him that never changes. It is
an utter mistake to suppose that the believer who feels assurance
is resting on anything he sees in himself. He simply leans on the
Mediator of the New Covenant, and the Scripture of truth. He believes
the Lord Jesus means what He says, and
takes Him at His Word.
after all, is no more than a fall-grown faith;
faith that grasps Christ’s promise with both hands,—a faith that
argues like the good centurion, if the Lord “speak the word only,” I
am healed. Wherefore, then, should I doubt? (Matt. viii. 8.)
Reader, you may be sure that Paul was the last man in the world
to build his assurance on anything of his own. He who could write
himself down “chief of sinners” (1 Tim. i. 15) had a deep sense of his own
guilt and corruption. But then he had a still deeper sense of the length
and breadth of Christ’s righteousness imputed to him.—He, who
would cry, “O wretched man that I am” (Rom. vii. 24), had a clear view
of the fountain of evil within his heart. But then he had a still clearer
view of that other Fountain which can remove “all sin and uncleanness.” —He,
who thought himself “less than the least of all saints” (Ephes. iii.
8), had a lively and abiding feeling of his own weakness. But he had
a still livelier feeling that Christ’s promise, “My sheep shall
never perish” (John x. 28), could not be broken—Paul knew, if ever
man did, that he was a poor, frail bark, floating on a stormy ocean.
He saw, if any did, the rolling waves and roaring tempest by which
he was surrounded. But then he looked away from self to Jesus, and
was not afraid. He remembered that anchor within the veil, which is
both “sure and steadfast.” He remembered the word, and work, and constant
intercession of Him that loved him and gave Himself for him. And this
it was, and nothing else, that enabled him to say so boldly, “A crown
is laid up for me, and the Lord shall give it to me”; and to conclude
so surely, “The Lord will preserve me: I shall never be confounded.”
I may not dwell longer on this part of the subject. I think you
will allow I have shown ground for the assertion I made,—that assurance
is a true thing.
II. I pass on to the second thing I spoke of. I said, a
may never arrive at this assured hope, which Paul expresses, and
yet be saved.
I grant this most freely. I do not dispute it for a moment. I would
not desire to make one contrite heart sad that God has not made sad,
or to discourage one fainting child of God, or to leave the impression
that men have no part or lot in Christ, except they feel assurance.
A person may have saving faith in Christ, and yet never enjoy an
assured hope, like the Apostle Paul. To believe and have a glimmering
hope of acceptance is one thing; to have joy and peace in our believing,
and abound in hope, is quite another. All God’s children
have faith; not all have assurance. I think this ought never to
I know some great and good men have held a different opinion. I believe
that many excellent ministers of the Gospel, at whose feet I would
gladly sit, do not allow the distinction I have stated. But I desire
to call no man master. I dread as much as any one the idea of healing
the wounds of conscience slightly; but I should think any other view
than that I have given a most uncomfortable Gospel to preach, and one
very likely to keep souls back a long time from the gate of life.
I do not shrink from saying, that by grace a man may have sufficient
faith to flee to Christ; sufficient faith really to lay hold on
Him, really to trust in Him,—really to be a child of God, really
to be saved; and yet to his last day be never free from much anxiety,
doubt, and fear.
“A letter,” says an old writer, “may be written, which is not sealed;
so grace may be written in the heart, yet the Spirit may not set
the seal of assurance to it.”
A child may be born heir to a great fortune, and yet never be aware
of his riches; live childish,—die childish, and never know the
greatness of his possessions.
And so also a man may be a babe in Christ’s family; think
as a babe, speak as a babe; and though saved, never enjoy a lively
hope, or know the real privileges of his inheritance.
Reader, do not mistake my meaning, while you hear me dwell strongly
on assurance. Do not do me the injustice to say, I told you none
were saved except such as could say with Paul, “I know and am persuaded,—there
is a crown laid up for me.” I do not say so. I tell you nothing of
Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ a man
have, beyond all
question, if he is to be saved. I know no other way of access to the
Father. I see no intimation of mercy, excepting through Christ. A man
his sins and lost estate,—must come to Jesus for pardon and salvation,—must
rest his hope on Him, and on Him alone. But if he only has faith
to do this, however weak and feeble that faith may be, I will engage,
from Scripture warrants, he shall not miss heaven.
Never, never let us curtail the freeness of the glorious Gospel, or
clip its fair proportions. Never let us make the gate more strait and
the way more narrow than pride and love of sin have made it already.
The Lord Jesus is very pitiful, and of tender mercy. He does not regard
of faith, but the
not measure its degree, but its truth. He will not break any bruised
reed, nor quench any smoking flax. He will never let it be said that
any perished at the foot of the cross. “Him that cometh unto Me,” He says, “I
will in no wise cast out.” (John vi. 37.)
Yes, reader: though a man’s faith be no bigger than a grain
of mustard seed, if it only brings him to Christ, and enables him to
touch the hem of His garment, he shall be saved,—saved as surely as
the oldest saint in paradise; saved as completely and eternally as
Peter, or John, or Paul. There are degrees in our sanctification. In
our justification there are none. What is written, is written, and
shall never fail: “Whosoever believeth on Him,”—not whosoever has a
strong and mighty faith,—”Whosoever
on Him shall
not be ashamed.” (Rom. x. 11.)
But all this time, I would have you take notice, the poor soul may
have no full assurance of his pardon and acceptance with God. He
may be troubled with fear upon fear, and doubt upon doubt. He may
have many a question, and many an anxiety,—many a struggle, and many a misgiving,—clouds
and darkness,—storm and tempest to the very end.
I will engage, I repeat, that bare simple faith in Christ shall save
a man, though he may never attain to assurance; but I will not engage
it shall bring him to heaven with strong and abounding consolations.
I will engage it shall land him safe in harbour; but I will not engage
he shall enter that harbour in full sail, confident and rejoicing.
I shall not be surprised if he reaches his desired haven weather-beaten
and tempest-tossed, scarcely realizing his own safety, till he opens
his eyes in glory.
Reader, I believe it is of great importance to keep in view this distinction
between faith and assurance. It explains things which an inquirer in
religion sometimes finds it hard to understand.
Faith, let us remember, is the root, and assurance is the flower.
Doubtless you can never have the flower without the root; but it is
no less certain you may have the root and not the flower.
Faith is that poor trembling woman who came behind Jesus in the
press and touched the hem of His garment. (Mark v. 27.) Assurance
is Stephen standing calmly in the midst of his murderers, and saying, “I see the
heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.” (Acts
Faith is the penitent thief, crying, “Lord, remember me.” (Luke xxiii.
42.) Assurance is Job, sitting in the dust, covered with sores, and
saying, “I know that my Redeemer liveth.” (Job xix. 25.) “Though He
slay me, yet will I trust in Him.” (Job xiii. 15.)
Faith is Peter’s drowning cry, as he began to sink “Lord, save
me.” (Matt. xiv. 30.) Assurance is that same Peter declaring before
the Council in after-times, “This is the stone which was set at nought
of you builders, which is become the head of the corner. Neither is
there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven
given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts iv. 11, 12.)
Faith is the anxious, trembling voice, “Lord, I believe: help Thou
mine unbelief.” (Mark ix. 24.) Assurance is the confident challenge, “Who
shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect? Who is he that
condemneth?” (Rom. viii. 33, 34.) Faith is Saul praying in the house
of Judas at Damascus, sorrowful, blind, and alone. (Acts ix. 11.) Assurance
is Paul, the aged prisoner, looking calmly into the grave, and saying, “I
know whom I have believed. There is a crown laid up for me.” (2 Tim.
i. 12; iv. 8.)
life . How great the blessing! Who can tell the
gulf between life and death? And yet life may be weak, sickly, unhealthy,
painful, trying, anxious, worn, burdensome, joyless, smileless to the
very end. Assurance is more than life.
It is health, strength,
power, vigour, activity, energy, manliness, beauty.
Reader, it is not a question of saved or not saved that lies before
us, but of privilege or no privilege.—It is not a question of peace
or no peace, but of great peace or little peace.—It is not a question
between the wanderers of this world and the school of Christ: it is
one that belongs only to the school;—it is between the first form
and the last.
He that has faith does
Happy should I be, if I thought
all readers of this tract had it. Blessed, thrice blessed are they
that believe. They are safe. They are washed. They are justified.
They are beyond the power of hell. Satan, with all his malice, shall
never pluck them out of Christ’s hand.
But be that has assurance does
—sees more, feels
more, knows more, enjoys more, has more days like those spoken of in
Deuteronomy: even “the days of heaven upon the earth.” (Deut. xi.
III. I pass on to the third thing of which I spoke. I will give you
reasons why an assured hope is exceedingly to be desired.
I ask your attention to this point especially. I heartily wish that
assurance was more sought after than it is. Too many among those who
believe begin doubting and go on doubting, live doubting and die doubting,
and go to heaven in a kind of mist.
It will ill become me to speak in a slighting way of “hopes” and “trusts.” But
I fear many of us sit down content with them, and go no farther. I
should like to see fewer “peradventurers” in the Lord’s family,
and more who could say, “I know and am persuaded.” Oh, that all believers
would covet the best gifts, and not be content with less! Many miss
the full tide of blessedness the Gospel was meant to convey. Many keep
themselves in a low and starved condition of soul, while their Lord
is saying, “Eat and drink abundantly, O beloved. Ask and receive, that
your joy may be full.” (Cant. v. 1. John xvi. 24.)
1. Let us remember, then, for one thing, that assurance is to be desired,
because of the present comfort and peace it affords.
Doubts and fears have power to spoil much of the happiness of a
true believer in Christ. Uncertainty and suspense are bad enough
in any condition,—in the matter of our health, our property, our families,
our affections, our earthly callings,—but never so bad as in the affairs
of our souls. And so long as a believer cannot get beyond “I hope” and “I
trust,” he manifestly feels a degree of uncertainty about his spiritual
state. The very words imply as much. He says, “I hope,” because he
dares not say, “I know.”
Now assurance goes far to set a child of God free from this painful
kind of bondage, and thus ministers mightily to his comfort. It
enables him to feel that the great business of life is a settled
business, the great debt a paid debt, the great disease a healed
disease, and the great work a finished work; and all other business,
diseases, debts, and works, are then by comparison small. In this
way assurance makes him patient in tribulation, calm under bereavements,
unmoved in sorrow, not afraid of evil tidings; in every condition
content, for it gives him a FIXEDNESS of heart. It sweetens his bitter
cups, it lessens the burden of his crosses, it smoothes the rough
places over which he travels, and it lightens the valley of the shadow
of death. It makes him always feel that he has something solid beneath
his feet, and something firm under his hands,—a sure friend by the
way, and a sure home at the end.
Assurance will help a man to bear poverty and loss. It will teach
him to say, “I know that I have in heaven a better and more enduring
substance. Silver and gold have I none, but grace and glory are mine,
and these can never make themselves wings and flee away. Though the
fig tree shall not blossom, yet I will rejoice in the Lord.” (Habak.
iii. 17, 18.)
Assurance will support a child of God under the heaviest bereavements,
and assist him to feel “It is well.” An assured soul will say, “Though
beloved ones are taken from me, yet Jesus is the same, and is alive
for evermore. Though my house be not as flesh and blood could wish,
yet I have an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things and sure.” (2
Kings iv. 26; Heb. xiii. 8; 2 Sam. xxiii. 5.)
Assurance will enable a man to praise God, and be thankful, even in
a prison, like Paul and Silas at Philippi. It can give a believer songs
even in the darkest night, and joy when all things seem going against
him. (Job ii. 10; Psalm xlii. 8.)
Assurance will enable a man to sleep with the full prospect of death
on the morrow, like Peter in Herod’s dungeon. It will teach him
to say, “I will both lay me down in peace and sleep, for thou, Lord,
only makest me to dwell in safety.” (Psalm iv. 8.)
Assurance can make a man rejoice to suffer shame for Christ’s
sake, as the Apostles did. It will remind him that he may “rejoice
and be exceeding glad “ (Matt. v. 12), and that there is in heaven
an exceeding weight of glory that shall make amends for all. (2 Cor.
Assurance will enable a believer to meet a violent and painful death
without fear, as Stephen did in the beginning of Christ’s Church,
and as Cranmer, Ridley, Latimer, and Taylor did in our own land. It
will bring to his heart the texts, “Be not afraid of them which kill
the body, and after that have no more that they can do.” (Luke xii.
4.) “Lord Jesus receive my spirit.” (Acts vii. 59.)
Assurance will support a man in pain and sickness, make all his
bed, smooth down his dying pillow. It will enable him to say, “If my earthly
house fail, I have a building of God.” (2 Cor. v. 1.) “I desire to
depart and be with Christ.” (Phil. i. 23.) “My flesh and my heart
may fail, but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for
(Psalm lxxiii. 26.)
Reader, the comfort assurance can give in the hour of death is a point
of great importance. Believe me, you will never think assurance so
precious as when your turn comes to die.
In that awful hour, there are few believers who do not find out
the value and privilege of an “assured hope,” whatever they may have thought
about it during their lives. General “hopes” and “trusts” are all very
well to live upon, while the sun shines, and the body is strong: but
when you come to die, you will want to be able to say, “I
Believe me, Jordan is a cold stream, and we have to cross it alone.
No earthly friend can help us. The last enemy, even death, is a strong
foe. When our souls are departing there is no cordial like the strong
wine of assurance.
There is a beautiful expression in the Prayer-book service for the
Visitation of the Sick: “The Almighty Lord, who is a most strong
tower to all them that put their trust in Him, be now and evermore
thy defence, and make thee know
feel that there
is none other name under heaven, through whom thou mayest receive
health and salvation, but only the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
The compilers of that service showed great wisdom there. They saw
that when the eyes grow dim, and the heart grows faint, and the spirit
is on the eve of departing, there must then be
Christ has done for us, or else there cannot be perfect peace.
2. Let us remember, for another thing, that assurance is to be desired,
because it tends to make a Christian an active working Christian.
None, generally speaking, do so much for Christ on earth as those
who enjoy the fullest confidence of a free entrance into heaven. That
sounds wonderful, I
dare say, but it is true.
A believer who lacks an assured hope will spend much of his time in
inward searchings of heart about his own state. Like a nervous, hypochondriacal
person, he will be full of his own ailments, his own doubtings and
questionings, his own conflicts and corruptions. In short, you will
often find he is so taken up with this internal warfare that he has
little leisure for other things, little time to work for God.
Now a believer, who has, like Paul, an assured hope, is free from
these harassing distractions. He does not vex his soul with doubts
about his own pardon and acceptance. He looks at the everlasting covenant
sealed with blood, at the finished work and never-broken word of his
Lord and Saviour, and therefore counts his salvation a
thing. And thus he is able to give an undivided attention to the
work of the Lord, and so in the long run to do more.
Take, for an illustration of this, two English emigrants, and suppose
them set down side by side in New Zealand or Australia. Give each
of them a piece of land to clear and cultivate. Let the portions
allotted to them be the same both in quantity and quality. Secure
that land to them by every needful legal instrument; let it be conveyed
as freehold to them and theirs for ever; let the conveyance be publicly
registered, and the property made sure to them by every deed and
security that man’s ingenuity can devise.
Suppose, then, that one of them shall set to work to bring his land
into cultivation, and labour at it day after day without intermission
Suppose, in the meanwhile, that the other shall be continually leaving
his work, and going repeatedly to the public registry to ask whether
the land really is his own,—whether there is not some mistake,—whether,
after all, there is not some flaw in the legal instruments which
conveyed it to him.
The one shall never doubt his title, but just work diligently on.
The other shall hardly ever feel sure of his title, and spend half
his time in going to Sydney, or Melbourne, or Auckland with needless
inquiries about it.
Which, now, of these two men will have made most progress in a year’s
time? Who will have done the most for his land, got the greatest
breadth of soil under tillage, have the best crops to show, be altogether
the most prosperous?
Reader, you know as well as I do. I need not supply an answer. There
can only be one reply. Undivided attention will always attain the greatest
It is much the same in the matter of our title to “mansions in the
skies.” None will do so much for the Lord who bought him as the believer
who sees his title clear, and is not distracted by unbelieving hesitations.
The joy of the Lord will be that man’s strength. “Restore unto
me,” says David, “the joy of Thy salvation;
then will I
teach transgressors Thy ways.” (Psalm li. 12.)
Never were there such working Christians as the Apostles. They seemed
to live to labour. Christ’s work was truly their meat and drink.
They counted not their lives dear to themselves. They spent and were
spent. They laid down ease, health, and worldly comfort, at the foot
of the cross. And one grand cause of this, I believe, was their assured
hope. They were men who could say, “We
know that we are
of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness.” (1 John v. 19.)
3. Let us remember, for another thing, that assurance is to be desired,
because it tends to make a Christian a decided Christian.
Indecision and doubt about our own state in God’s sight is
a grievous one, and the mother of many evils. It often produces a
wavering and unstable walk in following the Lord. Assurance helps
to cut many a knot, and to make the path of Christian duty clear
Many, of whom we feel hopes that they are God’s children, and
have true grace, however weak, are continually perplexed with doubts
on points of practice. “Should we do such and such a thing? Shall we
give up this family custom? Ought we to go into that company? How shall
we draw the line about visiting? What is to be the measure of our dressing
and our entertainments? Are we never, under any circumstances, to dance,
never to touch a card, never to attend parties of pleasure?” These
are a kind of questions which seem to give them constant trouble.
And often, very often, the simple root of their perplexity is, that
they do not feel assured they are themselves children of God. They
have not yet settled the point, which side of the gate they are on.
They do not know whether they are inside the ark or not.
That a child of God ought to act in a certain decided way they quite
feel, but the grand question is, “Are they children of God themselves?” If
they only felt they were so, they would go straightforward, and take
a decided line. But not feeling sure about it, their conscience is
forever hesitating and coming to a dead lock. The devil whispers, “Perhaps,
after all, you are only a hypocrite: what right have you to take a
decided course? Wait till you are really a Christian.” And this whisper
too often turns the scale, and leads on to some miserable compromise,
or wretched conformity to the world.
Reader, I believe you have here one chief reason why so many in
this day are inconsistent, trimming, unsatisfactory, and half-hearted
in their conduct about the world. Their faith fails. They feel no
assurance that they are Christ’s, and so feel a hesitancy about breaking
with the world. They shrink from laying aside all the ways of the old
man, because they are not quite confident they have put on the new.
Depend on it, one secret cause of halting between two opinions is want
of assurance. When people can say decidedly, “The Lord He is the God,” their
course becomes very clear. (1 Kings xviii. 39.)
4. Let us remember, finally, that assurance is to be desired, because
tends to make the holiest Christians.
This, too, sounds wonderful and strange, and yet it is true. It
is one of the paradoxes of the Gospel, contrary, at first sight,
to reason and common sense, and yet it to a fact. Cardinal Bellarmine
was seldom more wide of the truth than when he said, “Assurance tends to carelessness
and sloth.” He that is freely forgiven by Christ will always do much
for Christ’s glory, and he that enjoys the fullest assurance
of this forgiveness will ordinarily keep up the closest walk with God.
It is a faithful saying in 1 John iii. 3: “He that hath this hope in
Him purifieth himself even as He is pure.” A hope that does not purify
is a mockery, a delusion, and a snare.
None are so likely to maintain a watchful guard over hearts and
lives as those who know the comfort of living in near communion with
God. They feel their privilege, and will fear losing it. They will
dread falling from their high estate, and marring their own comforts,
by bringing clouds between themselves and Christ. He that goes on
a journey with little money about him takes little thought of danger,
and cares little how late he travels. He, on the contrary, that carries
gold and jewels will be a cautious traveller. He will look well to
his roads, his house, and his company, and run no risks. The fixed
stars are those that tremble most. The man that most fully enjoys
the light of God’s
reconciled countenance, will be a man tremblingly afraid of losing
its blessed consolations, and jealously fearful of doing anything
to grieve the Holy Ghost.
Reader, I commend these four points to your serious consideration.
Would you like to feel the everlasting arms around you, and to hear
the voice of Jesus daily drawing nigh to your soul, and saying, “I
am thy salvation”?—Would you like to be a useful labourer in the vineyard
in your day and generation?—Would you be known of all men as a bold,
firm, decided, single-eyed, uncompromising follower of Christ?—Would
you be eminently spiritually-minded and holy?—I doubt not some readers
will say, “These are the very things our hearts desire. We long for
them. We pant after them: but they seem far from us.”
Now, has it never struck you that your neglect of assurance may
possibly be the main secret of all you failures,—that the low measure
of faith which satisfies you may be the cause of your low degree
of peace? Can you think it a strange thing that your graces are faint
and languishing, when faith, the root and mother of them all, is
allowed to remain feeble and weak?
Take my advice this day. Seek an increase of faith. Seek an assured
hope of salvation like the Apostle Paul’s. Seek to obtain a simple,
childlike confidence in God’s promises. Seek to be able to say
with Paul, “I know whom I have believed: I am persuaded that He is
mine, and I am His.”
You have very likely tried other ways and methods and completely
failed. Change your plan. Go upon another tack. Lay aside your doubts.
Lean more entirely on the Lord’s arm. Begin with implicit trusting.
Cast aside your faithless backwardness to take the Lord at His
word. Come and roll yourself, your soul, and your sins upon your
gracious Saviour. Begin with simple believing, and all other things
shall soon be added to you.
IV. I come now to the last thing of which I spoke. I promised to point
out to you some probable causes why an assured hope is so seldom
attained. I will do it very shortly.
This is a very serious question, and ought to raise in all great
searchings of heart. Few, certainly, of Christ’s people seem
to reach up to this blessed spirit of assurance. Many comparatively
believe, but few are persuaded. Many comparatively have saving faith,
but few that glorious confidence which shines forth in the language
of St. Paul. That such is the case, I think we must all allow.
Now, why is this so?—Why is a thing which two Apostles have strongly
enjoined us to seek after, a thing of which few believers have
any experimental knowledge? Why is an assured hope so rare?
I desire to offer a few suggestions on this point, with all humility.
I know that many have never attained assurance, at whose feet I would
gladly sit both in earth and heaven.
the Lord sees
something in the natural temperament of some of His children, which
makes assurance not good for them.
in order to be
kept in spiritual health, they need to be kept very low. God only knows.
Still, after every allowance, I fear there are many believers without
an assured hope, whose case may too often be explained by causes such
1. One most common cause, I suspect, is a
defective view of the
doctrine of justification.
I am inclined to think that justification and sanctification are
insensibly confused together in the minds of many believers. They
receive the Gospel truth,—that there must be something done IN US, as well as something
done FOR US, if we are true members of Christ; and so far they are
right. But, then, without being aware of it, perhaps, they seem to
imbibe the idea that their justification is, in some degree, affected
by something within themselves. They do not clearly see that Christ’s
work, not their own work,—either in whole or in part, either directly
or indirectly,—is the alone ground of our acceptance with God; that
justification is a thing entirely without us, for which nothing whatever
is needful on our part but simple faith,—and that the weakest believer
is as fully and completely justified as the strongest.
Many appear to forget that we are saved and justified as sinners,
and only sinners; and that we never can attain to anything higher,
if we live to the age of Methuselah.
sinners doubtless we must be,—but sinners, sinners,
sinners, always to the very last. They do not seem to comprehend that
there is a wide difference between our justification and our sanctification.
Our justification is a perfect finished work, and admits of no degrees.
Our sanctification is imperfect and incomplete, and will be to the
last hour of our life. They appear to expect that a believer may at
some period of his life be in a measure free from corruption, and attain
to a kind of inward perfection. And not finding this angelic state
of things in their own hearts, they at once conclude there must be
something very wrong in their state. And so they go mourning all their
days,—oppressed with fears that they have no part or lot in Christ,
and refusing to be comforted.
Reader, consider this point well. If any believing soul desires
assurance, and has not got it, let him ask himself, first of all,
if he is quite sure he is sound in the faith, if his loins are thoroughly “girt about
with truth,” and his eyes thoroughly clear in the matter of justification.
He must know what it is simply to believe before he can expect to
Believe me, the old Galatian heresy is the most fertile source of
error, both in doctrine and in practice. Seek clearer views of Christ,
and what Christ has done for you. Happy is the man who really understands
justification by faith without the deeds of the law.
2. Another common cause of the absence of assurance is,
about growth in grace.
I suspect many true believers hold dangerous and unscriptural views
on this point: I do not of course mean intentionally, but they do
hold them. Many appear to me to think that once converted, they have
little more to attend to, and that a state of salvation is a kind
of easy chair, in which they may just sit still, lie back, and be
happy. They seem to fancy that grace is given them that they may
enjoy it, and they forget that it is given, like a talent, to be
used, employed, and improved. Such persons lose sight of the many
direct injunctions “to
increase,—to grow,—to abound more and more,—to add to our faith,” and
the like; and in this little-doing condition, this sitting-still
state of mind, I never marvel that they miss assurance.
I believe it ought to be our continual aim and desire to go forward;
and our watchword at the beginning of every year should be, “More and
more” (1 Thess. iv. 1): more knowledge,—more faith,—more obedience,—more
love. If we have brought forth thirty-fold, we should seek to bring
forth sixty, and if we have brought forth sixty, we should strive
to bring forth a hundred. The will of the Lord is our sanctification,
and it ought to be our will too. (Matt. xiii. 23; 1 Thess. iv. 3.)
One thing, at all events, we may depend upon,—there is an inseparable
connection between diligence and assurance. “Give
Peter, “to make your calling and election sure.” (2 Peter i. 10.) “We
desire,” says Paul, “that every one of you do show the same
the full assurance of hope unto the end.” (Heb. vi. 11.) “The soul
of the diligent,”
says Solomon, “shall be made fat.” (Prov.
xiii. 4.) There is much truth in the old maxim of the Puritans: “Faith
of adherence comes by hearing, but faith of assurance comes not without
Reader, mark my words. Are you one of those who desires assurance,
but have not got it? You will never get it without diligence, however
much you may desire it. There are no gains without pains in spiritual
things, any more than in temporal. “The soul of the sluggard desireth
and hath nothing.” (Prov. xiii. 4.)
3. Another common cause of a want of assurance is,
walk in life.
With grief and sorrow I feel constrained to say, I fear nothing in
this day more frequently prevents men attaining an assured hope than
this. The stream of professing Christianity is far wider than it formerly
was, and I am afraid we must admit, at the same time, it is much less
Inconsistency of life is utterly destructive of peace of conscience.
The two things are incompatible. They cannot and they will not go together.
If you will have your besetting sins, and cannot make up your minds
to give them up; if you will shrink from cutting off the right hand
and plucking out the right eye, when occasion requires it, I will engage
you will have no assurance.
A vacillating walk,—a backwardness to take a bold and decided line,—a
readiness to conform to the world, a hesitating witness for Christ,—a
lingering tone of religion,—all these make up a sure receipt for
bringing a blight upon the garden of your soul.
It is vain to suppose you will feel assured and persuaded of your
own pardon and acceptance with God, unless you count
commandments concerning all
things to be right, and hate
every sin, whether great or small. (Psalm cxix. 128.) One Achan allowed
in the camp of your heart will weaken your hands, and lay your consolations
low in the dust. You must be daily sowing to the Spirit, if you are
to reap the witness of the Spirit. You will not find and feel that
all the Lord’s ways are ways of pleasantness, unless you labour
in all your ways to please the Lord.
I bless God our salvation in no wise depends on our own works. By
grace we are saved,—not by works of righteousness,—through faith,—without
the deeds of the law. But I never would have any believer for a moment
forget that our SENSE of salvation depends much on the manner of
our living. Inconsistency will dim your eyes, and bring clouds between
you and the sun .
The sun is the same behind the clouds, but
you will not be able to see its brightness or enjoy its warmth, and
your soul will be gloomy and cold. It is in the path of well doing
that the day-spring of assurance will visit you, and shine down upon
“The secret of the Lord,” says David, “is with them that fear Him,
and He will show them His covenant.” (Psalm xxv. 14.)
“To him that ordereth his conversation aright will I shew the salvation
of God.” (Psalm l. 23.)
“Great peace have they which love Thy law, and nothing shall offend
them.” (Psalm cxix. 165.)
“If we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship
one with another.” (1 John i. 7.)
“Let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in
truth. And hereby we know
that we are of the truth, and
shall assure our hearts before Him.” (1 John iii. 18, 19.)
“Hereby we do
know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments.” (1
John ii. 3.)
Paul was a man who exercised himself to have always a conscience
void of offence toward God and toward man. (Acts xxiv. 16.) He could
say with boldness, “I have fought the good fight, I have kept the faith.” I
do not wonder that the Lord enabled him to add with confidence, “Henceforth
there is a crown laid up for me, and the Lord shall give it me at
Reader, if any believer in the Lord Jesus desires assurance, and
has not got it, let him think over this point also. Let him look
at his own heart, look at his own conscience, look at his own life,
look at his own ways, look at his own home. And perhaps when he has
done that, he will be able to say, “There is a
I have no assured hope.”
I leave the three matters I have just mentioned to your own private
consideration. I am sure they are worth examining. May you examine
them honestly. And may the Lord give you understanding in all things.
1. And now, in closing this important inquiry, let me speak first
to those readers who have not given themselves to the Lord, who have
not yet come out from the world, chosen the good part, and followed
I ask you, then, to learn from this subject
the privileges and
comforts of a true Christian.
I would not have you judge of the Lord Jesus Christ by His people.
The best of servants can give you but a faint idea of that glorious
Master. Neither would I have you judge of the privileges of His kingdom
by the measure of comfort to which many of His people attain. Alas,
we are most of us poor creatures! We come short, very short, of the
blessedness we might enjoy. But, depend upon it, there are glorious
things in the city of our God, which they who have an assured hope
taste, even in their life-time. There are lengths and breadths of
peace and consolation there, which it has not entered into your heart
to conceive. There is bread enough and to spare in our Father’s
house, though many of us certainly eat but little of it, and continue
weak. But the fault must not be laid to our Master’s charge:
it is all our own.
And, after all, the weakest child of God has a mine of comforts within
him, of which you know nothing. You see the conflicts and tossings
of the surface of his heart, but you see not the pearls of great price
which are hidden in the depths below. The feeblest member of Christ
would not change conditions with you. The believer who possesses the
least assurance is far better off than you are. He has a hope, however
faint, but you have none at all. He has a portion that will never be
taken from him, a Saviour that will never forsake him, a treasure that
fadeth not away, however little he may realize it all at present. But,
as for you, if you die as you are, your expectations will all perish.
Oh, that you were wise! Oh, that you understood these things! Oh, that
you would consider your latter end!
I feel deeply for you in these latter days of the world, if I ever
did. I feel deeply for those whose treasure is all on earth, and
whose hopes are all on this side the grave. Yes: when I see old kingdoms
and dynasties shaking to the very foundation,—when I see, as we all
saw a few years ago, kings, and princes, and rich men, and great men
fleeing for their lives, and scarce knowing where to hide their heads,—when
I see property dependent on public confidence melting like snow in
spring, and public stocks and funds losing their value,—when I see
these things I feel deeply for those who have no better portion than
this world can give them, and no place in that kingdom that cannot
Take advice of a minister of Christ this very day. Seek durable
treasure that cannot be taken from you,—a city which hath lasting
foundations. Do as the Apostle Paul did. Give yourself to the Lord
Jesus Christ, and seek that incorruptible crown He is ready to bestow.
Take His yoke upon you, and learn of Him. Come away from a world
which will never really satisfy you, and from sin which will bite
like a serpent if you cling to it, at last. Come to the Lord Jesus
as lowly sinners, and He will receive you, pardon you, give you His
renewing Spirit, fill you with peace. This shall give you more real
comfort than the world has ever done. There is a gulf in your heart
which nothing but the peace of Christ can fill. Enter in and share
our privileges. Come with us, and sit down by our side.
2. Lastly, let me turn to all believers who read these pages, and
speak to them a few words of brotherly counsel.
The main thing that I urge upon you is this,—
have not got an assured hope of your own acceptance in Christ, resolve
this day to seek it. Labour for it. Strive after it. Pray
for it. Give the Lord no rest till you “know whom you have believed.”
I feel, indeed, that the small amount of assurance in this day,
among those who are reckoned God’s children, is a shame and a reproach. “It
is a thing to be heavily bewailed,” says old Traill, “that many Christians
have lived twenty or forty years since Christ called them by His
grace, yet doubting
in their life.” Let us call to mind the earnest “desire” Paul
expresses, that “every one” of the Hebrews should seek after full assurance
and let us endeavour, by God’s blessing, to roll this reproach
away. (Heb. vi. 11.)
Believing reader, do you really mean to say that you have no desire
to exchange hope for confidence, trust for persuasion, uncertainty
for knowledge? Because weak faith will save you, will you therefore
rest content with it? Because assurance is not essential to your entrance
into heaven, will you therefore be satisfied without it upon earth?
Alas, this is not a healthy state of soul to be in; this is not the
mind of the Apostolic day! Arise at once, and go forward. Stick not
at the foundations of religion: go on to perfection. Be not content
with a day of small things. Never despise it in others, but never be
content with it yourselves.
Believe me, believe me, assurance is worth the seeking. You forsake
your own mercies when you rest content without it. The things I speak
are for your peace. If it is good to be sure in earthly things, how
much better is it to be sure in heavenly things. Your salvation is
a fixed and certain thing. God knows it. Why should not you seek
to know it too? There is nothing unscriptural in this. Paul never
saw the book of life, and yet Paul says, “I know, and am persuaded.”
Make it, then, your daily prayer that you may have an increase of
faith. According to your faith will be your peace. Cultivate that
blessed root more, and sooner or later, by God’s blessing,
you may hope to have the flower, You may not, perhaps, attain to
full assurance all at once. It is good sometimes to be kept waiting.
We do not value things which we get without trouble. But though it
tarry, wait for it. Seek on, and expect to find.
There is one thing, however, of which I would not have you ignorant:
must not be surprised if you have occasional doubts
have got assurance. You must not forget you are on earth, and not
yet in heaven. You are still in the body, and have indwelling sin:
the flesh will lust against the spirit to the very end. The leprosy
will never be out of the walls of the old house till death takes
it down. And there is a devil, too, and a strong devil: a devil who
tempted the Lord Jesus, and gave Peter a fall; and he will take care
you know it. Some doubts there always will be. He that never doubts
has nothing to lose. He that never fears possesses nothing truly
valuable. He that is never jealous knows little of deep love. But
be not discouraged: you shall be more than conquerors through Him
that loved you.
Finally, do not forget that assurance is a thing that
may be lost
for a season, even by the brightest Christians, unless they
Assurance is a most delicate plant. It needs daily, hourly watching,
watering, tending, cherishing. So watch and pray the more when you
have got it. As Rutherford says, “Make much of assurance.” Be always
upon your guard. When Christian slept, in Pilgrim’s Progress,
he lost his certificate. Keep that in mind.
David lost assurance for many months by falling into transgression.
Peter lost it when he denied his Lord. Each found it again, undoubtedly,
but not till after bitter tears. Spiritual darkness comes on horseback,
and goes away on foot. It is upon us before we know that it is
coming. It leaves us slowly, gradually, and not till after many days.
It is easy to run down hill. It is hard work to climb up. So remember
my caution,—when you have the joy of the Lord, watch and pray.
Above all, grieve not the Spirit. Quench not the Spirit. Vex not the
Spirit. Drive Him not to a distance, by tampering with small bad habits
and little sins. Little jarrings between husbands and wives make unhappy
homes, and petty inconsistencies, known and allowed, will bring in
a strangeness between you and the Spirit.
Hear the conclusion of the whole matter.
The man who walks with God in Christ most closely will generally be
kept in the greatest peace.
The believer who follows the Lord most fully will ordinarily enjoy
the most assured hope, and have the clearest persuasion of his own
 “Full assurance that Christ hath delivered Paul from
condemnation, yea, so full and real as produceth thanksgiving and
triumphing in Christ, may and doth consist with complaints and outcries
of a wretched condition for the indwelling of the body of sin” —Rutherford’s
Triumph of Faith. 1645.
 “We do not vindicate every vain pretender to ‘the
Witness of the Spirit;’ we are aware that there are those in
whose professions of religion we can see nothing but their forwardness
and confidence to recommend them. But let us not reject any doctrine
of revelation through an over-anxious fear of consequences.”— Robinson’s
“True assurance is
built upon a Scripture basis: presumption hath no Scripture to show
for its warrant; it is like a will without seal and witnesses, which
is null and void in law. Presumption wants both the witness of the
Word and the seal of the Spirit. Assurance always keeps the heart
in a lowly posture; but presumption is bred of pride. Feathers fly
up, but gold descends; he who hath this golden assurance, his heart
descends in humility.”— Watson’s Body of Divinity. 1650.
“Presumption is joined with looseness of life; persuasion
with a tender conscience: this dares sin because it is sure, this dares
not for fear of losing assurance. Persuasion will not sin, because
it cost her Saviour so dear; presumption will sin, because grace
cloth abound. Humility is the way to heaven. They that are proudly
secure of their going to heaven, do not so often come thither as
they that are afraid of going to hell.”—Adams on Second Epistle
of Peter. 1633.
 “They are quite mistaken that think faith and humility
are inconsistent; they not only agree well together, but they cannot
 “To be assured of our salvation,” Augustine saith, “is
no arrogant stoutness; it is our faith. It is no pride; it is devotion.
It is no presumption; it is God’s promise.”— Bishop Jewell’s
Defence of the Apology. 1570.
“If the ground of our assurance rested in and on ourselves,
it might justly be called presumption; but the Lord and the power
of His might being the ground thereof, they either know not what
is the might of His power, or else too lightly esteem it, who account
assured confidence thereon presumption.”— Gouge’s Whole
Armour of God. 1647.
“Upon what ground is this certainty built? Surely not
upon anything that is in us. Our assurance of perseverance is grounded
wholly upon God. If we look upon ourselves, we see cause of fear
and doubting; but if we look up to God, we shall find cause enough
for assurance.” —Hildersam on John iv. 1632.
“Our hope is not hung upon such an untwisted thread
as, “I imagine so,” or “It is likely;” but the cable, the strong
rope of our fastened anchor, is the oath and promise of Him who is
eternal verity. Our salvation is fastened with God’s own hand,
and Christ’s own strength, to the strong stake of God’s
unchangeable nature.”— Rutherford’s Letters. 1637.
 “Never did a believer in Jesus Christ die or drown
in his voyage to heaven. They will all be found safe and sound with
the Lamb on mount Zion. Christ loseth none of them; yea, nothing
of them. (John vi. 39.) Not a bone of a believer is to be seen in
the field of battle. They are all more than conquerors through Him
that loved them.” (Rom. viii.
 Extracts from English divines, showing that there
is a difference between faith and assurance,—that a believer may
be justified and accepted with God, and yet not enjoy a comfortable
knowledge and persuasion of his own safety,—and that the weakest
faith in Christ, if it be true, will save a man as surely as the
1. “Is it not necessary to justification to be assured
that my sins are pardoned, and that I am justified? No: that is
no act of faith as it justifieth, but an effect and fruit that
followeth after justification.
“It is one thing for a man to have his salvation
certain, another thing to be certain that it is certain.
“Even as a man fallen into a river, and like to be
drowned, as he is carried down with the flood, espies the bough
of a tree hanging over the river, which he catcheth at, and clings
unto with all his might to save him, and seeing no other way of
succour but that, ventures his life upon it. This man, so soon
as he has fastened on this bough, is in a safe condition, though
all troubles, fears, and terrors are not presently out of his mind,
until he comes to himself, and sees himself quite out of danger.
Then he is sure he is safe, but he was safe before he was sure.
Even so it is with a believer. Faith is but the espying of Christ
as the only means to save, and the reaching out of the heart to
lay hold upon Him. God hath spoke the word, and made the promise
to His Son: I believe Him to be the only Saviour, and remit my
soul to Him to be saved by His mediation. So soon as the soul can
do this, God imputeth the righteousness of His Son unto it, and
it is actually justified in the court of heaven, though it is not
presently quieted and pacified in the court of conscience. That
is done afterwards: in some sooner, in some later, and by the fruits
and effects of justification .”—Archbishop Usher’s “Body
of Divinity.” 1670.
2. “There are those who doubt, because they doubt
and multiply distrust upon itself, concluding that they have no
faith, because they find so much and so frequent doubting within
them. But this is a great mistake. Some doubtings there may be,
where there is even much faith; and a little faith there may be,
where there is much doubting.
“Our Saviour requires, and delights in a strong,
firm believing on Him, though the least and weakest He rejects
not.”— Archbishop Leighton’s Lectures on the first nine
chapters of St. Matthew’s Gospel. 1670.
3. “The mercy of God is greater than all the sins
in the world. But we sometimes are in such a case, that we think
we have no faith at all; or if we have any, it is very feeble and
weak. And, therefore, these are two things; to have faith, and
to have the feeling of faith. For some men would fain have the
feeling of faith, but they cannot attain unto it; and yet they
must not despair, but go forward in calling upon God, and it will
come at the length: God will open their hearts, and let them feel
His goodness.”— Bishop Latimer’s Sermons. 1552.
4. “I know, thou sayest, that Jesus Christ came into
the world to save sinners: and that ‘Whosoever believeth in Him
shall not perish, but have eternal life.’ (John iii. 15.)
Neither can I know but that, in a sense of my own ‘sinful condition,
I do cast myself in some measure upon my Saviour, and lay some
hold upon His all-sufficient redemption: but, alas, my apprehensions
of Him are so feeble, as that they can afford no sound comfort
to my soul!
“Courage, my son. Were it that thou lookest to be
justified, and saved by the power of the very act of thy faith,
thou hadst reason to be disheartened with the conscience of the
weakness thereof; but now that the virtue and efficacy of this
happy work is in the object apprehended by thee, which is the infinite
merits and mercy of thy God and Saviour, which cannot be abated
by thine infirmities, thou hast cause to take heart to thyself,
and cheerfully to expect His salvation.
“Understand thy case aright. Here is a double hand,
that helps us up toward heaven. Our hand of faith lays hold upon
our Saviour; our Saviour’s hand of mercy and plenteous redemption
lays hold on us. Our hold of Him is feeble and easily loosed; His
hold of us is strong and irresistible.
“If work were stood upon, a strength of hand were
necessary; but now that only taking and receiving of a precious
gift is required, why may not a weak hand do that as well as a
strong? As well, though not as forcibly.”— Bishop Hall’s “Balm
of Gilead.” 1650.
5. “Many formerly, and those of the highest remark
and eminency, have placed true faith in no lower degree than assurance,
or the secure persuasion of the pardon of their sins, the acceptation
of their persons, and their future salvation.
“But this, as it is very sad and uncomfortable for
thousands of doubting and deserted souls, concluding all those
to fall short of grace who fall short of certainty, so hath it
given the Papists too great advantage.
“Faith is not assurance. But this doth sometimes
crown and reward a strong, vigorous, and heroic faith; the Spirit
of God breaking in upon the soul with an evidencing light, and
scattering all that darkness, and those fears and doubts which
before beclouded it.”— Bishop Hopkins on the Covenants. 1680.
6. “If any persons abroad have thought that a special
and full persuasion of the pardon of their sin was of the essence
of faith, let them answer for it. Our divines at home generally
are of another judgment. Bishop Davenant and Bishop Prideaux, and
others, have shown the great difference between recumbence and
assurance, and they all do account and call assurance a daughter,
fruit, and consequent of faith. And the late learned Arrowsmith
tells us, that God seldom bestows assurance upon believers till
they are grown in grace: for, says he, there is the same difference
between faith of recumbence and faith of assurance, as is between
reason and learning. Reason is the foundation of learning; so,
as there can be no learning if reason be wanting (as in beasts),
in like manner there can be no assurance where there is no faith
of adherence. Again: as reason well exercised in the study of arts
and sciences arises to learning, so faith, being well exercised
on its proper object and by its proper fruits, arises to assurance.
Further, as by negligence, non-attendance, or some violent disease,
learning may be lost, while reason doth abide; so, by temptation,
or by spiritual sloth, assurance may be lost, while saving faith
may abide. Lastly, as all men have reason, but all men are not
learned; so all regenerate persons have faith to comply savingly
with the gospel method of salvation, but all true believers have
not assurance.”— Sermon by B. Fairclough, Fellow of Emmanuel
College, Cambridge, in the Morning Exercises, preached at Southwark. 1660.
7. “Weak faith may fail in the applying,
or in the apprehension and appropriating of Christ’s benefits
to a man’s own self. This is to be seen in ordinary experience.
For many a man there is of humble and contrite heart, that serveth
God in spirit and truth, yet is not able to say, without great
doubtings and waverings, I know and am fully assured that my sins
are pardoned. Now shall we say that all such are without faith?
“This weak faith will as truly apprehend God’s
merciful promises for the pardon of sin as strong faith, though
not so soundly. Even as a man with a palsied hand can stretch it
out as well to receive a gift at the hand of a king as he that
is more sound, though it may be not so firmly and steadfastly.”— Exposition
of the Creed, by William Perkins, Minister of Christ in the University
of Cambridge. 1612.
8. “A want of assurance is not unbelief. Drooping
spirits may be believers. There is a manifest distinction made
between faith in Christ and the comfort of that faith,—between
believing to eternal life and knowing we have eternal life. There
is a difference between a child’s having a right to an estate
and his full knowledge of the title.
“The character of faith may be written in the heart,
as letters engraven upon a seal, yet filled with so much dust as
not to be distinguished. The dust hinders the reading of the letters,
yet doth not raze them out.”— Discourses by Stephen Charnock,
of Emmanuel College, Cambridge. 1680.
9. “This certainty of our salvation, spoken of by
Paul, rehearsed by Peter, and mentioned by David (Psalm iv. 7),
is that special fruit of faith which breedeth spiritual joy, and
inward peace which passeth all understanding. True it is, all God’s
children have it not. One thing is the tree, and another thing
is the fruit of the tree: one thing is faith, and another thing
is the fruit of faith. And that remnant of God’s elect which
feel the want of this faith have, notwithstanding, faith.” —Sermons
by Richard Greenham, Minister and Preacher of the Word of God. 1612.
10. “You that can clear this to your own hearts that
you have faith, though it be weak, be not discouraged, be not troubled.
Consider that the smallest degree of faith is true, is saving faith
as well as the greatest. A spark of fire is as true fire as any
is in the element of fire. A drop of water is as true water as
any is in the ocean. So the least grain of faith is as true faith,
and as saving as the greatest faith in the world.
“The least bud draws sap from the root as well as
the greatest bough. So the weakest measure of faith doth as truly
ingraft thee into Christ, and by that draw life from Christ, as
well as the strongest. The weakest faith hath communion with the
merits and blood of Christ as well as the strongest.
“The least faith marries the soul to Christ. The
weakest faith hath as equal a share in God’s love as the
strongest. We are beloved in Christ, and the least measure of faith
makes us members of Christ. The least faith hath equal right to
the promises as the strongest. And, therefore, let not our souls
be discouraged for weakness.”— Nature and Royalties of Faith,
by Samuel Bolton, D.D., of Christ’s College, Cambridge. 1657
11. “A man may be in the favour of God, in the state
of grace, a justified man before God, and yet want the sensible
assurance of his salvation, and of the favour of God in Christ.
“A man may have saving grace in him, and not perceive
it himself; a man may have true justifying faith in him, and not
have the use and operation of it, so far as to work in him a comfortable
assurance of his reconciliation with God. Nay, I will say more:
a man may be in the state of grace, and have true justifying faith
in him, and yet be so far from sensible assurance of it in himself,
as in his own sense and feeling he may seem to be assured of the
contrary. Job was certainly in this case when he cried unto God, ‘Wherefore
bidest Thou Thy face, and boldest me for Thine enemy?’ (Job
“The weakest faith will justify. If thou canst receive
Christ and rest upon Rim, even with the weakest faith, it will
serve thy turn.—Take heed thou think not it is the strength of
thy faith that justifieth thee. No, no: it is Christ and His perfect
righteousness which thy faith receiveth and resteth upon that doth
it. He that hath the feeblest and weakest hand may receive an alms,
and apply a sovereign plaster to his wound, as well as he that
hath the strongest, and receive as much good by it too.” —Lectures
upon the fifty-first Psalm, preached at Ashby-de-la-Zouch, by Arthur
Hildersam, Minister of Jesus Christ. 1642.
12. “There are some who are true believers and yet
weak in faith. They do indeed receive Christ and free grace, but
it is with a shaking hand. They have, as divines say, the faith
of adherence: they will stick to Christ, as theirs; but they want
the faith of evidence,—they cannot see themselves as His. They
are believers, but of little faith. They hope that Christ will
not cast them off, but are not sure that He will take them up.”— Sips of
Sweetness, or Consolation for Weak Believers, by John Durant, Preacher
in Canterbury Cathedral. 1649.
13. “The act of faith is to apply Christ to the soul;
and this the weakest faith can do as well as the strongest, if
it be true. A child can hold a staff as well, though not so strongly,
as a man. The prisoner through a hole sees the sun, though not
so perfectly as they in the open air. They that saw the brazen
serpent, though a great way off, yet were healed.
“The least faith is as precious to the believer’s
soul as Peter’s or Paul’s faith was to themselves,
for it lays hold upon Christ and brings eternal salvation.”—An Exposition
of the Second Epistle General of Peter, by the Rev Thomas Adams,
Rector of St. Gregory’s, London. 1633.
14. “Many of God’s dear children for a long
time may remain very doubtful as to their present and eternal condition,
and know not what to conclude, whether they shall be damned, or
whether they shall be saved. There are believers of several growths
in the Church of God,— fathers, young men, children, and
babes; and as in most families there are more babes and children
than grown men, so in the Church of God there are more weak, doubting
Christians than strong ones, grown up to a full assurance. A babe
may be born, and yet not know it; so a man may be born again, and
yet not be sure of it.
“We make a difference betwixt saving faith, as such,
and a full persuasion of the heart. Some of those that shall be
saved may not be certain that they shall be saved; for the promise
is made to the grace of faith, and not to the evidence of it, to
faith as true, and not to faith as strong. They may be sure of
heaven, and yet in their own sense not assured of heaven.” —Sermons
by Rev. Thomas Doolittle, of Pembroke Hall, Cambridge, and sometime
Rector of St. Alphage, London, in the Morning Exercises, at Cripplegate. 1661.
15. “I find not salvation put upon the strength of
faith, but the truth of faith; not upon the brightest degree, but
upon any degree of faith. It is not said, If you have such a degree
of faith you shall be justified and saved; but simply believing
is required. The lowest degree of true faith wilt do it; as Romans
x. 9: ‘If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and
shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the
dead, thou shalt be saved.’ The thief upon the cross had
not attained to such high degrees of faith: he by one act, and
that of a weak faith, was justified and saved. (Luke xxiii. 42.)” —Exposition
of t he Prophet Ezekiel, by William Greenhill, Rector
of Stepney, London, and Chaplain to the Dukes of York and Gloucester. 1650.
16. “Weak faith is true faith,—as precious, though
not so great, as strong faith,—the same Holy Ghost the Author,
the same Gospel the instrument.
“If it never proves great, yet weak faith shall save,
for it interests us in Christ, and makes Him and all His benefits
ours. For it is not the strength of our faith that saves, but truth
of our faith; nor weakness of our faith that condemns, but the
want of faith,—for the least faith layeth ‘hold on Christ, and
so will save us. Neither are we saved by the worth or quantity
of our faith, but by Christ, who is laid hold on by a weak faith
as well as a strong. Just as a weak hand that can put meat into
the mouth, shall feed and nourish the body as well as if it were
a strong hand; seeing the body is not nourished by the strength
of the hand, but by the goodness of the meat.”— The Doctrine
of Faith, by John Rogers, Preacher of God’s Word at Dedham,
in Essex. 1634.
17. “Though your grace be never so weak, yet if ye
have truth of grace, you have as great a share in the righteousness
of Christ for your justification as the strong Christian hath.
You have as much of Christ imputed to you as any other.” —Sermons
by William Bridge, formerly Fellow of Emmanuel College, Cambridge,
and Pastor of the Church of Christ, in Great Yarmouth. 1648.
18. “It is confessed weak faith hath as much peace
with God, through Christ, as another hath by strong faith, but
not so much bosom peace.
“Weak faith will as surely land the Christian in
heaven as strong faith, for it is impossible the least dram of
true grace should perish, being all incorruptible seed; but the
weak, doubting Christian is not like to have so pleasant a voyage
thither as another with strong faith. Though all in the ship come
safe to shore, yet he that is all the way sea-sick hath not so
comfortable a voyage as he that is strong and healthful.”— The
Christian in complete Armour, by William Gurnall, sometime Minister
at Lavenham, Suffolk. 1680.
19. “A man may have true grace that hath not the
assurance of the love and favour of God, or the remission of his
sins, and salvation of his soul. A man may be God’s, and
yet he not know it; his estate may be good, and yet he not see
it; he may be in a safe condition, when he is not in a comfortable
position. All may be well with him in the court of glory, when
he would give a thousand worlds that all were but well in the court
“Assurance is requisite to the well-being of a Christian,
but not to the being; it is requisite to the consolation of a Christian,
but not to the salvation of a Christian; it is requisite to the
well-being of grace, but not to the mere being of grace. Though
a man cannot be saved without faith, yet he may be saved without
assurance. God hath in sunny places of the Scripture declared that
without faith there is no salvation; but God hath not in any one
place of Scripture declared that without assurance there is no
salvation.”— Heaven on Earth, by Thomas Brooks, Preacher of
the Gospel at St. Margaret’s, Fish Street Hill, London. 1654
20. “We must distinguish between weakness of faith
and nullity. A weak faith is true. The bruised reed is but weak,
yet it is such as Christ will not break. Though thy faith be but
weak, yet be not discouraged. A weak faith may receive a strong
Christ: a weak hand can tie the knot in marriage as well as a strong;
a weak eye might have seen the brazen serpent. The promise is not
made to strong faith, but to true. The promise doth not say, Whosoever
hath a giant faith that can remove mountains, that can stop the
mouth of lions, shall be saved; but whosoever believes, be his
faith never so small.
“You may have the water of the Spirit poured on you
in sanctification, though not the oil of gladness in assurance;
there may be faith of adherence, and not of evidence; there may
be life in the root where there is no fruit in the branches, and
faith in the heart where no fruit of assurance.”— A Body of
Divinity, by Thomas Watson, formerly Minister of St. Stephen’s,
Walbrook, London. 1660.
21. “There is a weak faith, which yet is true; and
although it be weak, yet, because it is true, it shall not be rejected
“Faith is not created perfect at the first, as Adam
was, but is like a man in the ordinary course of nature, who is
first an infant, then a child, then a youth, then a man.
“Some utterly reject all weak ones, and tax all weakness
in faith with hypocrisy. Certainly these are either proud or cruel
“Some comfort and establish those who are weak, saying, ‘Be
quiet: thou hast faith and grace enough and art good enough; thou
needest no more, neither must thou be too righteous.’ (Eccles.
vii. 16.) These are soft, but not safe, cushions; these are fawning
flatterers, and not faithful friends.
“Some comfort and exhort, saying, ‘Be of good cheer:
He who hath begun a good work will also finish it in you; therefore
pray that His grace may abound in you; yea, do not sit still, but
go forward, and march on in the way of the Lord.’ (Heb. vi.
1.) Now this is the safest and best course.” —Questions, Observations,
etc., upon the Gospel according to St. Matthew, by Richard Ward,
sometime Student at Cambridge, and Preacher of the Gospel in London. 1640.
22. “Be not discouraged if it doth not yet appear
to you that you were given by the Father to the Son. It may be,
though you do not see it. Many of the given do not for a long time
know it; yea, I see no great danger in saying that not a few of
the given to the Son may be in darkness, and doubts and fears about
it, till the last and brightest day declares it, and till the last
sentence proclaims it.
“If therefore any of you be in the dark about your
own election, be not discouraged; it may be, though you do not
know it.” —Sermon on the Lord’s Prayer, by Robert Traill,
Minister of the Gospel in London, and sometime at Cranbrook Kent. 1690.
23. “Some rob themselves of their own comfort by
placing saving faith in full assurance. Faith, and sense of faith,
are two distinct and separable mercies; you may have truly received
Christ, and not receive the knowledge or assurance of it. Some
there be that say, ‘Thou art our God,’ of whom God never
said, You are my people; these have no authority to be called the
sons of God: others there are, of whom God saith, ‘These are my
people,’ yet they dare not call God ‘their God;’ these
have authority to be called the Sons of God, yet know it not. They
have received Christ, that is their safety; but they have not yet
received the knowledge and assurance of it, that is their trouble.…The
father owns his child in the cradle, who yet knows him not to he
his father.”— Method of grace, by John Flavel, Minister of
the Gospel at Dartmouth, Devon. 1680.
24. “The faith necessary and sufficient for our salvation
is not assurance. Its tendency, doubtless, is to produce that lively
expectation of the Divine favour which will issue in a full confidence.
But the confidence is not itself the faith of which we speak, nor
is it necessarily included in it: nay, it is a totally distinct
“Assurance will generally accompany a high degree
of faith. But there are sincere persons who are endued with only
small measures of grace, or in whom the exercise of that grace
may be greatly obstructed. When such defects or hindrances prevail,
many fears and distresses may be expected to arise.”— The Christian
System, by the Rev. Thomas Robinson, Vicar of St. Mary’s,
25. “Assurance is not essential to the being of faith.
It is a strong faith; but we read likewise of a weak faith, little
faith, faith like a grain of mustard seed. True saving faith in
Jesus Christ is only distinguishable by its different degrees;
but in every degree, and in every subject, it is universally of
the same kind.”— Sermons, by the Rev. John Newton, sometime
Vicar of Olney, and Rector of St. Mary’s. Woolnoth, London.
26. “There is no reason why weak believers should
conclude against themselves. Weak faith unites as really with Christ
as strong faith,—as the least bud in the vine is drawing sap and
life from the root, no less than the strongest branch. Weak believers
therefore have abundant cause to be thankful; and while they reach
after growth in grace, ought not to overlook what they have already
received.”— Letter of Rev. Henry Venn. 1784.
27. “Salvation, and the joy of salvation, are not
always contemporaneous; the latter does not always accompany the
former in present experience.
“A sick man may be under a process of recovery and
yet be in doubt concerning the restoration of his health. Pain
and weakness may cause him to hesitate. A child may be heir to
his estate or kingdom, and yet derive no joy from the prospect
of his future inheritance. He may be unable to trace his genealogy,
or to read his title deeds, and the testament of his father; or
with a capacity of reading them he may be unable to understand
their import, and his guardian may for a time deem it right to
suffer him to remain in ignorance. But his ignorance does not affect
the validity of his title.
“Personal assurance of salvation is not necessarily
connected with faith. They are not essentially the same. Every
believer might indeed infer, from the effect produced
in his own heart, his own safety and privileges; but many who truly
believe are unskilful in the word of righteousness, and fail of
drawing the conclusion from Scriptural premises which they would
be justified in drawing”— Lectures on the Fifty-first Psalm,
by the Rev. Thomas Biddulph, Minister of St. James’s, Bristol. 1830.
 “He that believeth on Jesus shall never be confounded.
Never was any; neither shall you, if you believe. It was a great
word of faith spoken by a dying man, who had been converted in a
singular way, betwixt his condemnation and execution: his last words
were these, spoken with a mighty shout,—‘Never man perished with
his face towards Christ Jesus.’—Traill.
 “The greatest thing that we can desire, next to the
glory of God, is our own salvation; and, the sweetest thing we can
desire is the assurance of our salvation. In this life we cannot
get higher than to be assured of that which in the next life is to
be enjoyed. All saints shall enjoy a heaven when they leave this
earth; some saints enjoy a heaven while they are here on earth.”—
 “It was a saying of Bishop Latimer to Ridley, “When
I live in a settled and steadfast assurance about the state of my
soul, methinks then I am as bold as a lion. I can laugh at all trouble:
no affliction daunts me. But when I am eclipsed in my comforts, I
am of so fearful a spirit, that I could run into a very mouse-hole.”— Quoted
by Christopher Love. 1653.
‘‘Assurance will assist us in all duties; it will arm
us against all temptations; it will answer all objections; it will
sustain us in all conditions into which the saddest of times can
bring us. ‘If God be for us, who can be against us?’— Bishop
Reynolds on Hosea xiv. 1642.
“We cannot come amiss to him that hath assurance: God
is his. Hath he lost a friend?—His Father lives. Hath he lost an
only child? God hath given him His only Son. Hath he scarcity of
bread?—God hath given him the finest of the wheat, the bread of life.—Are
his comforts gone?—he hath a Comforter. Doth he meet with storms?—he
knows where to put in for harbour.—God is his portion, and heaven
is his haven.”— Thomas Watson. 1662.
 These were John Bradford’s words in prison,
shortly before his execution. “I have no request to make. If Queen
Mary gives me my life, I will thank her; if she will banish me, I
will thank her; if she will burn me, I will thank her; if she will
condemn me to perpetual imprisonment, I will thank her.”
This was Rutherford’s experience, when banished
to Aberdeen. “How blind are my adversaries, who sent me to a banqueting
house, and not to a prison or a place of exile.” “My prison is a
palace to me, and Christ’s banqueting house.”— Letters.
 These were the last words of Hugh Mackail on the
scaffold at Edinburgh, 1666. “Now I begin my intercourse with God,
which shall never be broken off. Farewell, father and mother, friends
and relations; farewell, the world and all its delights; farewell,
meat and drinks; farewell, sun, moon, and stars. Welcome, God and
Father; welcome, sweet Lord Jesus, the Mediator of the new covenant;
welcome, blessed Spirit of grace and God of all consolation; welcome,
glory; welcome, eternal life; welcome, death. O Lord, into Thy hands
I commit my spirit; for Thou hast redeemed my soul, O Lord God of
 These were Rutherford’s words on his death
bed. “O that all my brethren did know what a Master I have served,
and what I have this day! I shall sleep in Christ, and when I awake,
I shall be satisfied with his likeness.” 1661.
These were Baxter’s words on his death bed. “I
bless God I have a well-grounded assurance of my eternal happiness,
and great peace and comfort within.” Towards the close he was asked
how he did? The answer was, “Almost well.” 1691.
 The least degree of faith takes away the sting of
death, because it takes away guilt; but the full assurance of faith
breaks the very teeth and jaws of death, by taking away the fear
and dread of it.” —Fairclough’s Sermon in the Morning Exercises.
 “Assurance would make us active and lively in God’s
service; it would excite prayer, quicken obedience. Faith would make
us walk, but assurance would make us run; we should think we could
never do enough for God. Assurance would be as wings to the bird,
as weights to the clock, to set all the wheels of obedience a-running.” —Thomas
“Assurance will make a man fervent, constant, and abundant
in the work of the Lord. When the assured Christian hath done one
work, he is calling out for another. What is next, Lord, says the
assured soul: what is next? An assured Christian will put his hand
to any work, he will put his neck in any yoke for Christ; he never
thinks he hath done enough, he always thinks he hath done too little,
and when he hath done all he can, he sits down, saying, I am an unprofitable
servant.” — Thomas Brooks.
 “The true assurance of salvation, which the Spirit
of God hath wrought in any heart, hath that force to restrain a man
from looseness of life, and to knit his heart in love and obedience
to God, as nothing else hath in all the world. It is certainly either
the want of faith and assurance of God’s love, or a false and
carnal assurance of it, that is the true cause of all the licentiousness
that reigns in the world.” —Hildersam on 51st Psalm.
“None walk so evenly with God as they who are assured
of the love of God. Faith is the mother of obedience, and sureness
of trust makes way for strictness of life. When men are loose from
Christ, they are loose in point of duty, and their floating belief
is soon discovered in their inconstancy and unevenness of walking.
We do not with alacrity engage in that of the success of which we
are doubtful: and therefore when we know not whether God will accept
us or not, when we are off and on in point of trust, we are just
so in the course of our lives, and serve God by fits and starts.
It is the slander of the world to think assurance an idle doctrine.” —Manton’s
Exposition of James. 1660.
“Who is more obliged, or who feels the obligation to
observance more cogently,—the son who knows his near relation, and
knows his father loves him, or the servant that hath great reason
to doubt it? Fear is a weak and impotent principle in comparison
of love. Terrors may awaken; love enlivens. Terrors may ‘almost persuade;’ love
over-persuades. Sure am I that a believer’s knowledge that
his Beloved is his, and he is his Beloved’s (Cant. vi. 3),
is found by experience to lay the most strong and cogent obligations
upon him to loyalty and faithfulness to the Lord Jesus. For as to
him that believes Christ is precious (1 Peter ii. 7), so to him that
knows he believes Christ is so much the more precious, even the ‘chiefest
of ten thousand.’” (Cant. v. l0)— Fairclough’s Sermon
in Morning Exercises. 1660.
“Is it necessary that men should be kept in continual
dread of damnation, in order to render them circumspect and ensure
their attention to duty? Will not the well-grounded expectation of
heaven prove far more efficacious? Love is the noblest and strongest
principle of obedience: nor can it be but that a sense of God’s
love to us will increase our desire to please Him.”—
 “That which breeds so much perplexity is, that we
would invert God’s order. ‘If I knew,’ say some, ‘that
the promise belonged to me, and Christ was a Saviour to me, I could
believe:’ that is to say, I would first see, and then believe.
But the true method is just the contrary: ‘I had fainted,’ says
David, ‘unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord.’ He
believed it first, and saw it afterwards.” —Archbishop Leighton.
“It is a weak and ignorant, but common, thought of
Christians, that they ought not to look for heaven, nor trust Christ
for eternal glory, till they be well advanced in holiness and meetness
for it. But as the first sanctification of our natures flows from
our faith and trust in Christ for acceptance, so our further
sanctification and meetness for glory flows from the renewed and
repeated exercise of faith on Him .”
 The Westminster Confession of Faith gives an admirable
account of justification. “Those whom God effectually calleth, He
also freely justifieth; not by infusing righteousness into them,
but by pardoning their sins, and by accounting and accepting their
persons as righteous; not for any thing wrought in them or done by
them, but for Christ’s sake alone; not by imputing faith itself,
the act of believing, or any other Evangelical obedience, to them,
as their righteousness: but by imputing the obedience and righteousness
of Christ unto them, they receiving and resting on Him and His righteousness
 “Whose fault is it that thy interest in Christ is
not put out of question? Were Christians more in self-examination,
more close in walking with God; and if they had more near communion
with God, and were more in acting of faith, this shameful darkness
and doubting would quickly vanish.”— Traill
“A lazy Christian shall always want four things: viz.,
comfort, content, confidence, and assurance. God hath made a separation
between joy and idleness, between assurance and laziness, and therefore
it is impossible for thee to bring these together, that God hath
put so far asunder.”— Thomas Brooks.
“Are you in depths and doubts, staggering and uncertain,
not knowing what is your condition, nor whether you have any interest
in the forgiveness that is of God? Are you tossed up and down between
hopes and fears, and want peace consolation, and establishment? Why
lie you upon your faces? Get up: watch, pray, fast, meditate, offer
violence to your lusts and corruptions; fear not, startle not at
their crying to be spared; press unto the throne of grace by prayer,
supplications, importunities, restless requests: this is the way
to take the kingdom of God. These things are not peace, are not assurance; but
they are part of the means God hath appointed for the attainment
of them.”— Owen on the 130th Psalm.
thou have thy hope strong?—Then keep thy conscience pure. Thou canst
not defile one without weakening the other. The godly person that
is loose and careless in his holy walking will soon find his hope
languishing. All sin disposeth the soul that tampers with it to trembling
fears and shakings of heart.” —Gurnall.
“One great and too common cause of distress is the
secret maintaining some known sin. It puts out the eye of the soul,
or dimmeth it and stupefies it, that it can neither see nor feel
its own condition. But especially it provoketh God to withdraw Himself,
His comforts, and the assistance of His Spirit.”— Baxter’s
“The stars which have least circuit are nearest the
pole; and men whose hearts are least entangled with the world are
always nearest to God, and to the assurance of His favour. Worldly
Christians, remember this. You and the world must part, or else assurance
and your souls will never meet.”—
 “They are doubly
miserable that have neither Heaven nor earth, temporals nor eternals,
made sure to them in changing times.”
 “None have assurance at all times. As in a walk
that is shaded with trees and checkered with light and shadow, some
tracks and paths in it are dark, and others are sunshine: such is
usually the life of the most assured Christian.”
“It is very suspicious that that person is a hypocrite
that is always in the same frame, let him pretend it to
be never so good.” —Traill.