Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Signs and Infallible Notes of Our Election

Addressing the subject of assurance in The Christian Warfare, Puritan John Downame lists a series of ten "signes and infallible notes of our election" (pp. 235-248), which I have transcribed below in modern English spelling.

The first sign is an earnest desire after the means of our salvation, and a conscionable endeavour in using them after we enjoy them. For the end and the means are never separated in God's decree, and therefore those that carefully use the means may be assured that they shall attain unto the end.

The second sign of those that are elected, is the spirit of supplication, when as they can pour forth their souls in fervent and effectual prayer unto the Lord, confessing their sins, and imploring his grace and mercy: for this is a notable fruit of God's spirit working in us, which we cannot by any natural means attain unto; for of ourselves we know not what to pray as we ought, but the spirit helpeth our infirmities, and maketh request for us with sighs which cannot be expressed, as it is Rom. 8.26.

The third sign of those who are elected and adopted to be the children of God, is, when as their hearts are somewhat weaned from the world, and seated in heaven minding the things that are above; and when their tongues being set a work by the heart, do gladly entertain godly and religious conferences; for there as the treasure is, ther will the heart be also, and with whatsoever the heart is affected, the tongue is delighted. Now that these holy meditations and religious discourses are signs of the child of God, hereby it plainly appeareth, in that they cannot possibly proceed from our corrupt nature, to which they are irksome and tedious, but from the spirit of God dwelling in us, and guiding and directing us in our thoughts and words; and whosoever are thus led with the spirit of God, they are the sons of God, as it is Rom. 8.14.

The fourth sign of the child of God who is elected to salvation, is, when he seeth his sins and imperfections, and truly repenteth of them, that is, bewaileth those which are past, and endeavoureth to forsake them in the time to come.

The fifth sign of the child of God elected to salvation, is, when as feeling his own misery and wretchedness, he earnestly desireth and even as it were hungereth and thirsteth after Christ's righteousness, looking for life and salvation in him alone; for such as these our Saviour Christ calleth unto him: John 7.37. If any man thirst let him come unto me and drink; and to such he promiseth everlasting happiness. Rev. 21.6. I will give to him that is athirst, of the well of the water of life freely, of which whosoever drinketh shall never be more athirst, but it shall be in him a well of water springing up unto everlasting life.

The sixth sign of the child of God, is the inward combat which they feel, between the flesh and the spirit, whereby on the one side they drawn unto sin, and on the other side incited unto holy obedience; now delighted in the law of God, and yet soon after led captive unto sin; one while rowing against the tide of their carnal affections, and another while carried down the stream, by reason of their weakness, and the strength of their in-bred corruption.

The seventh sign of the child of God is new obedience, when as he applieth his heart to the keeping of God's commandments, desiring and endeavouring to serve the Lord in holiness and newness of life; for if any man keepeth God's word, in him is the love of God perfect in deed, and hereby we know that are in him, as it is 1 John 2.5. And whosoever abideth in him sinneth not, whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither hath known him, as it is chap. 3. ver. 6. So ver. 10. In this are the children of God known and the children of the devil, whosoever doth not righteousness is not of God, &c. So that our new obedience is a sign of the child of God, and the neglect thereof a mark of the child of darkness. But we are not to understand this of that exact obedience which is required in the Law; for thereby none living can have any assurance of their election and salvation, but rather of reprobation and damnation; but it is to be understood of an evangelical obedience, which consisteth in an holy desire and earnest endeavour of keeping all God's commandments; with which the children of God are so wholly possessed, that after their true conversion it is impossible that they should fall into any known sin, with full consent of will with their whole hearts. And this is the obedience which the Gospel requireth, and of which the Apostle speaketh, and thus we never sin but keep all God's commandments, namely, in respect of our desire and earnest endeavour. This is that righteousness which is accepted, as though it were perfect before God, who spareth us as a man spareth his son whom he tenderly loveth, as he professeth Mal. 3.17. and therefore measureth our obedience not according to our actions, but according to our affections, and accepteth the will for the deed, as before I have showed.

The eighth sign of the child of God, is the love of our brethren in obedience to God's commandment; when as a man loves entirely a Christian, because he is a Christian, and ingrafted into the same body of Christ whereof he is a member: for as it is impossible that one member of the body should not love, cherish, and defend another, because they are quickened by the same soul and governed by the same head; so it is not possible but that one true Christian should love, cherish, and defend another, because they are quickened by the same spirit, and ruled by the same head Jesus Christ. And this is made a mark of God's child by the Apostle John, 1 John 3.14. We know that we are translated from death to life, because we love the brethren: as the want of this love is a sure note of the child of wrath, for as it followeth in the same verse, he that loveth not his brother abideth in death.

The ninth sign of the child of God elected to salvation, is, the love of God's true Ministers and ambassadors, not only because they are Christians, but also because they are sent of God to execute these holy functions, for the gathering together of God's elect.

The last sign of God's child elected to salvation, which I will speak of, is their earnest desire that our Saviour Christ should come to judgment: whence proceedeth that pathetical prayer, Come Lord Jesus come quickly, Rev. 22.20; and that prayer which our Saviour hath taught all the faithful to pray daily, let thy kingdom come, Matt. 6.10. Now that this is a note of those that are elected to salvation, it appeareth plainly 2 Tim. 4.8. where the Apostle saith that a crown of righteousness is laid up for all those that love his appearing. And Rom. 8.23, he telleth us, that those who have the first fruits of the spirit, do even sigh in themselves, waiting for the adoption even the redemption of their body, when as their corruption shall put on incorruption, and the mortal body immortality, as he speaketh 1 Cor. 15.53.

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