So the church: Solomon’s Song 2:16, ‘My beloved is mine, and I am his.’ I know, says the spouse, that Jesus Christ is mine. I can with the greatest confidence and boldness affirm it:
he is my head,
‘and I am his. I am as sure that I am his, as I am sure that I live.
I am his by purchase,
and I am his by conquest;
I am his by donation,
and I am his by election;
I am his by covenant,
and I am his by marriage.
I am wholly his;
I am peculiarly his;
I am universally his;
I am eternally his.
This I well know, and the knowledge thereof is my joy in life, and my strength and crown in death.
Though the two disciples had Christ for their companion, yet their hearts were full of fears and doubts, whilst their eyes were held that they should not know him, Luke 24:14, 15, &c. Till a Christian’s eyes be open to see his assurance, his heart will be full of doubts and perplexities.
Though Mary Magdalene was very near to Christ, yet she stands sighing, mourning, and complaining that they had stolen away her Lord, because she did not see him, John 20:13–16.
Christians! though you may be very near and dear to Christ, yet till you come to see your assurance,
you will spend your days in doubting,
The sum of all is this, as you would be rid of your burden of cares,
your burden of fears,
and your burden of doubts,
get a well-grounded assurance of your happiness and blessedness;
but if you are in love with your burdens, then neglect but the making of your calling and election sure, and you shall certainly make sure your burdens; they shall rise with you, and walk with you, and lie down with you, till they make your lives a hell.
Thomas Brooks, The Complete Works of Thomas Brooks, “A Serious Discourse Touching a Well-Grounded Assurance”, ed. Alexander Balloch Grosart, vol. 2 (Edinburgh; London; Dublin: James Nichol; James Nisbet and Co.; G. Herbert, 1866), 400–401.
Painting: Duccio di Buoninsegna Emaus
- CHAPTER TWENTY-THREE: THE PRIVILEGES OF THE GODLY: TO KNOW ONESELF LOVED OF GOD
- Now therefore because there being so many difficulties in the ways of godliness–and those so hard to pass–and difficult enterprises are always commended by the good that follows them; it is necessary that the great privileges which belong to the godly should be explained.
- The privileges must be show so that the godly may know their own happiness and strive to enjoy it; the wicked may see what great good things they deprive themselves of; and that all men may see the Christian life may be in better valued, which now of all sorts is too much underprized and so neglected and by some contemned and scorned.
- I will omit all those benefits which are common to the godly and the wicked (although these are far more sweet and savory to the godly than to others); or, those which are proper to some of the faithful in respect of their callings. I will consider only those which the wicked have no part or portion, and yet all the faithful may possess, one as well (though not so much) as another.
- These are either such as given us in this life to be enjoyed for our encouragement, or else those which God has in store for us in the life to come.
- We May Know Ourselves to be Beloved of God
- The first and chief of them which are given us in this life is that all true Christians may know themselves to be beloved of God, and that they shall be saved. 1 John 3:1, 1 John 5:13. This may be known by better evidence than any man can have of the things he holds in this life. This is not so well know at the first, but after experience has been gathered of the unchangeable love of God toward us, our confidence is increased; yea, the longer we enjoy this privilege, the better we know it; neither can it be so lost wholly or finally.
- Objection: Some of God’s children after they have been thus persuaded have fallen to doubting again.
- Answer: True Christians are renewed in part, and therefore some are by subtlety and cunning of Satan brought to the neglect or are careless of using the means whereby faith is confirmed, and so to doubting. And there are other who do too easily give place to distrust, thereby depriving themselves of this great privilege.
- This privilege is the greater because of the unspeakable glory and everlasting joy which it brings with it, whereas other delights are but fleeting and momentary. Which greatness will easily appear if we well consider the unspeakable woe and horror of such desperate persons as feel the lack of this happiness either here, or in hell.
- The Special Blessings of Being Known by God
- After God has vouchsafed the faithful this honor, that they may know the selves to be beloved of him, and that they shall be saved hereafter; he does not them, but is always with them, and has a special care of them above others, nay, when he is angry with others. Romans 5:5; Psalm 30:6-7; Luke 13:34; Deuteronomy 32:10; 1 Timothy 4:10; Matthew 10:30; Psalm 1:3; Psalm 23;1 Samuel 2:3.
- He esteems them not only as his household servants, but as his friends, John 15:15; his sons and heirs, Romans 8:17; his precious treasure, Exodus 19:5; yes, honors them so far as he calls them and makes them kings, Exodus 19:5. All which is both certain and constant onto the faithful, but it is not so with the wicked. So that by this it appears, that the estate poor child of God, is far better the best of the ugodly; yes, better than themselves sometimes would have asked or thought of.
- Those who are thus cared for of God, receive grace from him to live according to his will, that at death they may enter into his glory. For he teaches them to be fruitful in good life, but also to avoid foul offenses.
- As for the first, that is, a holy life whereunto God enables him by his own power, it is a great prerogative in that they need not account Christian life cumbersome, unsavory, heavy, tedious, as many do, but an easy yoke, a light burden, a pleasant race. This is in the Scripture called blessedness. Psalm 1, 84:2; Luke 111:4.
- Many indeed are, even good people, who in great part go without this privilege; but the cause is that they draw not by faith daily strength from Jesus Christ to subdue their lusts, but trust either to their own strength or and other means, until being frustrated of their desire, they either fallen to great vexation, or else plain security and looseness.
- For the remedy whereof, they must labor to be steadfast in faith, not yielding onto distrust, to learn to know that God who has taken care of his, will not leave them in their infirmities, but according to his all sufficient power, will succor and deliver them. Which if they once believe (as God requires we should) then shall they see themselves mightily stayed at upheld unto they be set at great liberty, and that it was the devil before held them in fear and bondage.
- Objection: we dare not believe that God will give us such grace, except first we first overcome our special corruptions.
- Answer: We have no strength of any such work, but we must obtain it by faith which is also commanded us. John 3:23. And until we do so, we shall be kept from our right by the craft of Satan.
 Privileges which are unique to particular stations of life or particular occupations.
The previous post in this series may be found here: https://memoirandremains.wordpress.com/2014/06/11/paul-baynes-brief-directions-unto-a-godly-life-chapter-23/
To M.B., One of his flock who had felt deserted in soul
Peterhead, February 7, 1843.
Here is a model of pastoral advice and counsel to one who feels a loss of assurance of one’s salvation. While not the only possible cause for a loss of assurance, persistence in some sin will cause a believer to suffer a lack of assurance (for a further discussion of this issue, see, https://memoirandremains.wordpress.com/2011/10/21/a-cherished-sin-can-damage-assurance/). Note how M’Cheyne begins with kindness and sympathy. Even as Paul wrote kindly to the Corinthians despite their manifest sins (1 Corinthians 1:1-13), M’Cheyne writes to his “friend.” He weeps with one who weeps (Romans 12:15b). When a Christian has moved from rebellion in sin to sorrow for sin, when one has shown to be weak and fainthearted, the wise counselor will match encouragement and help for the weak and faint-hearted (1 Thessalonians 5:14) (If this had been sometime earlier in the progress of the sin, perhaps M’Cheyne would have been required to admonish this friend.).
—I was very happy to hear from you. I grieve to hear of your sorrow; but Job’s sorrow was deeper, and David’s also, in Ps. 42. If you cannot say, “I found Him whom my soul loveth,” is it not sweet that you can say, “I am sick of love”—He is my beloved still, though He has withdrawn himself and is gone for a time? Seek into the cause of your declension. See that it be not some Achan in your bosom,—some idol set up in the corner of your heart. See that it be not some allowed sin,—an unlawful attachment that is drawing you away from the bleeding side of Jesus, and bringing a cloud between you and that bright Sun of Righteousness. When you find out the cause, confess it and bewail it in the ear of a listening God. Tell Him all; keep nothing back. If you cannot find out the cause, ask Him to tell it you. Get it washed in the blood of Jesus. Then get it subdued.—Micah 7:19. None but the Lord Jesus can either pardon or subdue. Remember not to rest in a state of desertion. “I will rise now and go about the city.” And yet do not think that you have some great thing to do before regaining peace with God. The work on which peace is given has all been done by Jesus for us. “The word is nigh thee.” Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.
The sunshine is always sweeter after we have been in the shade; so will you find Jesus in returning to Him. True, it is better never to wander; but when you have wandered, the sooner you return the happier you will be. “I will go and return to my first husband, for then it was better with me than now.” Hos. 2:7.
Do not delay, but humble yourself under his mighty hand, and He will exalt you in due season.
I have been speaking to-night in this place to a large and attentive audience on Zech. 9:9. May you be enabled to apply it. Remember me to Mrs K——, and also to all your fellow-servants whom I know and love in the truth. Tell N—— C—— to make sure that she is in Christ, and not to take man’s word for it. Tell E—— L—— to abide in Jesus; and tell her brother to take care lest he be a rotten branch of the true vine. Tell W—— J—— to be faithful unto death.
I have no greater joy than to know that my children walk in the truth.—
I am, your loving pastor, etc.
Robert Murray M’Cheyne