The operations of the Spirit come with pureness and pleasure: the light in the understanding diffuses itself through all the faculties. But Satan’s influence, and that of our own hearts, as there is no light in it for the understanding, so there is no purity, peace, or pleasure for the believer; but something painful and defiling. To transgress is a hard way; an unclean and troublesome way, Prov. 13, the way in which transgressors choose to walk..
The operations of the Spirit, the influence of Satan, and the motions of our own hearts, are all at times very sudden, and something surprising; but the operations of the divine Spirit, however sudden or surprising, are always calm, pure, transforming, and humbling, referring all unto the uninterrupted word. Whereas the motions of our own hearts, and Satan’s suggestions, are always attended with something or other inconsistent with, and directly opposite to these. Oh, that those who have eyes to see, would but make use of them.
There is a failing, temporary faith with respect to the promises of God, which will not advantage them in whom it is. It is known how often the people of old professed that they did believe and that they would obey accordingly; but, saith the apostle, notwithstanding all their pretensions and professions, notwithstanding all the convictions they had of the truth of the word, and the resolutions, they had of yielding obedience, wherein their temporary faith did consist, yet they perished in their sins, because “the word was not mixed with faith in them;” that is, truly and really believed.
Now, this giving a subsistence in the mind unto the things believed, that they shall really operate and produce their immediate effects therein, of love, joy, and obedience, is that spiritual mixture and incorporation whereof we speak. And here lies the main difference between saving faith and the temporary persuasion of convinced persons. This latter gives no such subsistence unto the things believed in the minds of men, as that they should produce their proper effects therein. Those in whom it is, believe the promise, yet not so as that thereby the things promised should have such an existence in their minds as to produce in them and upon them their proper effects. It may be said of them, as it is of the law in another sense, “They have the shadow of good things to come, but not the very image of the things.”
Faith in its acting towards and on the promise is also said
to receive it. By it we receive the word; that is, it takes it into the soul
and incorporates it with itself. There is more herein than a mere assent to the
truth of what is proposed and apprehended. And sometimes we are said by it to
receive the word itself, and sometimes to receive the things themselves which
are the subject-matter of it. So are we in the first way said to” receive with
meekness the ingrafted word,” James 1: 21; to “receive the promises,” Hebrews
11: 13; “having received the word,” 1 Thessalonians 1: 6; 1 Thessalonians 2:
13. In the latter way to “receive Christ” himself, John 1: 12, and “the
atonement” made by him, Romans 5: 11; which are the principal subjects of the
gospel. And herein lies the life of faith; so that it is the proper description
of an unbeliever, that “he doth not receive the things of the Spirit of God,” 1
Corinthians 2: 14. And unbelief is the not receiving of Christ, John 1: 11.
There may be a tender made of a thing which is not received. A man may think
well of that which is tendered unto him, and yet not receive it.
Many men who live in ways which are not agreeable to the rules of God’s Word, yet are not sensible of it. And it is a difficult thing to make them so because the same lust that leads them into that evil way, blinds them in it. — Thus, if a man [lives] a way of malice or envy, the more malice or envy prevails, the more will it blind his understanding to approve of it. The more a man hates his neighbor, the more will he be disposed to think that he has just cause to hate him, and that his neighbor is hateful, and deserves to be hated, and that it is not his duty to love him. So if a man live in any way of lasciviousness, the more his impure lust prevails, the more sweet and pleasant will it make the sin appear, and so the more will he be disposed and prejudiced to think there is no evil in it.
The doctrine of the day of judgment, in which men are taught that Christ will come with glory, majesty and mighty power on the clouds of heaven to judge the quick and dead, and that all, both small and great, must stand before him to give an account, is a very awful and awakening doctrine, tending very much to rouse both saints and sinners, and excite to watchfulness and diligence that they may be ready for such a day. But this doctrine has been preached in the world now for many ages, but men see nothing of the accomplishment of it; and many that hear of it are the less moved by it, because they look upon [it] as at a great distance. They hear that there are many things yet to be accomplished in the world before the day of judgment, and they never expect to see it while they live, nor till a great while after they are dead.
Discovering the Soundness or Corruption of Men’s Hearts by the Manner in Which They Regard Indwelling Sin – From the Book, The Touchstone of Sincerity … 1698
They undoubtedly have graceless hearts who are distressed at the discovery of their sins by others, but who are not troubled on account of their guilt. Multitudes there are of this class: they are not awed by the consideration that God sees them; they are concerned chiefly that their appearance before men may be reputable; they scruple not to commit ten sins against God in order to hide one from the eyes of men.
In this lesson the conversation is continued between Faithful and Christian. Faithful recounts his interaction with Adam the First, Moses, Discontent, and then they both encounter Talkative. It includes an introduction to Jonathan Edwards on The Religious Affections, what are NOT signs that a person has holy affections.
How may a professor, who fears lest his experiences are counterfeit and not genuine graces, come to such a satisfaction concerning his state, as shall encourage his continued reception of the
From Cases of Conscience, Case 23 “How may a professor, who fears lest his experiences are counterfeit and not genuine graces, come to such a satisfaction concerning his state, as shall encourage his continued reception of the Lord’s Supper?”