FAITH AND ASSURANCE
Have all the Saints of God alike a clear personal assurance? And is its possession essential to true faith? We are far from asserting this. We do indeed think that every regenerate soul must be sensible of a transformation of mind, of character and of habit. He must acknowledge that by the grace of God he is what he once was not. To what can he ascribe this change but to the second birth? But even this secret persuasion may be connected with many harassing fears and distressing doubts. The constant discovery of the hidden evil, the perpetual tendency to remove the eye from Jesus, the dark and the painful often experienced in the dealings of God, will at times prompt the believer to question the reality of his life. “With all this,” he inquires, “can I be a child of God?” And yet the most holy saints have been the most doubting and fearful saints. David, for example, who had more testimonies of God’s favour than any man, yet, as one says, he was at a loss sometimes to spell his evidences. And that holy man Rutherford remarks, “I have questioned whether or not I ever knew anything of Christianity, save the letters which make up the word.” But doubting faith is not doubtful faith. If the believer has not the faith of assurance, he may have the faith of reliance, and that will take him to heaven. All the doubts and fears that ever harassed a child of God cannot erase his name from the Lamb’s book of life, nor take him out of the heart of God, nor shut him out of glory.”Unbelief,” says Rutherford, “may, perhaps, tear the copies of the covenant which Christ hath given you, but He still keeps the original in heaven with himself. Your doubts and fears are no parts of the covenant; neither can they change Christ.” “The doubts and fears of the elect,” remarks another, “are overruled by Almighty grace to their present and eternal good; as conducing to keep us humble at God’s footstool, to endear the merits of Jesus, and to make us feel our weakness and dependence, and to render us watchful unto prayer.”
Did ever an unregenerate, lifeless soul entertain a doubt or fear of its spiritual condition? Never. Was it ever known anxiously and prayerfully to question, or to reason about, its eternal state? Never. Do I seek to strengthen your doubts? No; but I wish to strengthen your tried and doubting faith, I would tell you for your encouragement, that the minutest particle of grace hath eternal glory in it, even as the smallest seed virtually contains all that proceeds from it,Â—the blade, the ear, and the full corn in the ear. Faint not, nor be discouraged in your trial of faith. There is not a sweeter way to heaven than along the path of free grace, paved with hard trials. It was the way which He trod who was “full of grace.” Rich though He was in grace, yet see how deeply He was tried. Think not, then, that your sore trials are signs of a graceless state. O no! The most gracious saints have been the most tried saints. But rest not here. There is still richer, surer comfort for youÂ—even the fulness of grace that is in JesusÂ—grace ever flowing, and yet ever full. Disclose to Him your doubts and fears. Tell Him you desire Him above all good. Plunge into the sea of His fulness; and He who has created in your soul a thirst for grace, will assuredly and bountifully give you the grace for which you thirst.