“I am not at all surprised at this strange and absonous language; it is a false and dangerous conclusion, yet such as naturally results from, and, by a kind of necessity, follows out of their other errors.” —John Flavel[1]

The doctrine of assurance has received copious attention from Reformed theologians.[2] The debates within the Reformed world on this subject have also been examined.[3] Therefore, this chapter will not simply rehash the basic issues that relate to the assurance of salvation. There is the curious fact that theologians have typically missed an important aspect of this subject, namely, the matter of Jesus’ own assurance. The manner in which Christ received assurance of his messianic calling is not unrelated to the manner in which we receive assurance of our salvation. So in assessing the basic points of contention between Reformed and antinomian theologians, we will attempt to advance the discussion in a Christological direction. We will see that the objective and subjective aspects of assurance are not only necessary, but also complementary to each other. They were for Christ, and they should be for his people.

Antinomian Assurance

Scholarly works on seventeenth-century antinomianism all give attention to the problem of assurance.[4] The antinomian reaction to orthodox Reformed views on assurance was not, of course, an isolated topic of disagreement. Antinomianism, considered in its seventeenth-century context, whether in England or New England, showed that disagreement on one vital doctrine inevitably led to disagreements on other doctrines. The nature of systematic and confessional theology made this inevitable. Because their view that God sees no sin in the elect was a core belief, the antinomians had to formulate their doctrine of assurance in accordance with it. Their rejection of the idea that God can be pleased and displeased with his people, based on their obedience or disobedience, also had implications for their doctrine of assurance. And their aversion to the necessity of good works, as well as their rejection of the orthodox view of the moral law, caused them to understand assurance of salvation in a manner that was essentially opposed to the Reformed view. One of the major issues was whether sanctification provides evidence of justification.

By and large, the antinomian theologians rejected the idea that believers may be assured of their justification by the evidence of their sanctification.[5] As noted earlier, the New England elders during the theological controversies in the 1630s rejected as “unsafe” the antinomian view that to find evidence of justification in sanctification savors of Rome. Regarding the situation in England, Stoever notes that John Eaton held to the view that sanctification was in itself repulsive to God, but nevertheless assured men of their salvation. Eaton “denied . . . that sanctification is such an evidence to the justified, who rely for their assurance solely on the persuasion that the ‘main proposition of the gospel’ is effective for them.”[6] Moreover, Stoever claims that for Tobias Crisp, “the only adequate ground of assurance is faith in Christ.”[7] At bottom, the solution to the problem of assurance was to believe in our justification more. Those who have the strongest assurance are not necessarily those who are most righteous, but those who most strongly believe they are justified. As Como notes, the criticism that emerged from antinomian pulpits and pens was that mainstream Puritans, “instead of promoting justification by faith, . . . instilled a deep dependence on legal works of sanctification. . . . The result was rampant legalism and formalism.”[8]

These claims made by antinomians were not entirely untrue. Sometimes well-known Puritan ministers did in fact preach legalistic sermons. Even Thomas Watson was guilty of this. In Heaven taken by storm (London, 1669), he explains how Christians must press into heaven with the utmost vigor, but he fails to mention the person and work of Christ. Nonetheless, the antinomians overreacted, and in so doing they committed their cardinal error of throwing out the baby with the bathwater. As will be shown, the Puritans almost always grounded assurance principally in the promises of God. And they did not see such a discord between the works of believers and God’s promises. As Joel Beeke notes, “Scholars who assert that assurance is essential to faith in Christ and that sanctification cannot forward assurance in any way are guilty . . . of separating Christ and His benefits.”[9]

So averse were the New England antinomians to the idea that good works are evidence of being justified that the New England elders had to condemn the idea that believers know they belong to Christ, not because they mortify the misdeeds of the flesh, but because they do not mortify them, and instead believe that Christ crucified their lusts for them. Rutherford refers to this precise issue in New England and sums up the various ways of stating that position as “to be rich in works of sanctification is to be poor in grace.”[10] John Saltmarsh gives a typically antinomian view of assurance in Free Grace. He is an example of how the radical substitution of Christ in all areas of the Christian life has deleterious consequences for the doctrine of assurance. Saltmarsh writes: “Christ has believed perfectly, . . . repented perfectly, . . . obeyed perfectly, [and] mortified sin perfectly.”[11] Thus, with regard to assurance, we must “believe more truth of our own graces than we can see or feel . . . so we are to believe our repentance true in him, who hath repented for us.”[12]When this view is understood in relation to assurance, Saltmarsh affirms that a Christian must “see everything in himself as nothing, and himself everything in Christ. . . . All other assurances are rotten conclusions from the Word; and such things as true legal Teachers have invented.”[13] More than that, the Christian who looks to his habitual graces, such as repentance, love, and obedience, and not to the blood of Christ, “must needs believe weakly and uncomfortably.”[14]Again, this is a classic example of the either-or fallacy. As far as Reformed theologians were concerned, to look at habitual graces as a ground (not the ground) for assurance of salvation was not necessarily anthropocentric, but could in fact be Christocentric (Eph. 3:17–19).

The debate between the antinomians and the orthodox Reformed over whether a man may evidence his justification by his sanctification was complex. The issue, as Samuel Rutherford states, is whether we may evidence to ourselves, in our own conscience, our justification by our sanctification.[15] Formally speaking, faith evidences justification. The debate is not whether sanctification formally evidences justification; that is, “Love and works of sanctification do not so evidence justification; as if justification were the object of good works.”[16] Reformed theologians did not make sanctification a cause of justification; rather, sanctification inseparably follows justification.

In relation to this point, as noted in chapter 4, the manner in which we speak of justification as the “cause” of sanctification must be carefully understood, especially given its significance for the doctrine of assurance. The antinomians gave a priority to justification that went far beyond what Scripture teaches. That had a number of consequences, to the point that justification essentially swallowed up sanctification. In light of this, we cannot deny that our experience of having been justified will assist our sanctification. The fact that the sentence has been passed provides a great motivation for our sanctification and great assurance of our salvation (Rom. 5:1). The existential experience of the believer does not always match up with the order of salvation. Union with Christ is the ground of both justification and sanctification, and Christ is the meritorious cause of both. Just as sanctification does not cause justification, so justification does not cause sanctification, understood in terms of the order of salvation. Sanctification would be utterly impossible, apart from having been justified. But that does not mean that justification, as an applied benefit, can cause another applied benefit. Rather, the peace that we have with God because of our justification enables us to live out the sanctified life as a child of God.

Furthermore, Anthony Burgess, while vigorously opposing the antinomians, nevertheless suggested that the doctrine of justification, unlike any other, inclines God’s people to increased humility and self-emptiness, “for by this we are taught even in the highest degree of our sanctification, to look out of ourselves for a better righteousness.”[17] Thus, in the matter of assurance, the truth of Christ’s imputed righteousness is essential to Christian living, according to Reformed theologians such as Burgess.

Orthodox Response

A summary of the orthodox view on assurance may be found in chapter 18 of the Westminster Confession of Faith. It is an excellent summary of how British Reformed theologians understood the difficult doctrine of assurance. In the first section of this chapter, the Confession notes that those who “truly believe in the Lord Jesus, and love him in sincerity, endeavouring to walk in all good conscience before him, may in this life be certainly assured that they are in the state of grace.” These words require some analysis and unpacking. Following the outline of questions provided by Joel Beeke,[18] there are a number of areas in the doctrine of assurance where the Puritans recognized the need to be specific. The first question considers whether the seed of assurance is embedded in faith. Faith and full assurance of faith are not strictly synonymous. Our faith does not save; only Christ saves, who is the object of faith. Of course, there is always some degree of assurance in faith, but the main issue is whether full assurance is of the essence of faith.[19] As Beeke notes, “They differentiate between the faith of adherence to Christ and the faith of assurance (or evidence) in Christ, whereby the believer knows that Christ has died specifically for him.”[20] The Westminster divines, by noting that infallible assurance does not belong to the essence of faith (18.3), affirm the distinction between adherence and assurance.

The primary foundation for assurance is provided by the promises of salvation. As WCF 18.2 says, the certainty of assurance is “an infallible assurance of faith founded upon the divine truth of the promises of salvation.” The Savoy Declaration of Faith and Order (1658) rewords this sentence by adding “founded on the blood and righteousness of Christ, revealed in the gospel,” which is more explicitly Christocentric than the Westminster Confession. If God makes a promise, it is yes and amen in Christ (2 Cor. 1:20). One of the “mainstream Puritans” who opposed antinomianism was Thomas Goodwin. He, perhaps more than any other English Reformed divine, gave copious attention to the doctrine of assurance.[21] He discusses a problem that afflicts so many Christians, namely, that they separate Christ’s benefits from his person. Christians are in no position to love Christ’s work without first loving his person. There is a priority of Christ’s person over his work. Thus, Goodwin argues that “whensoever we would go down into our own hearts, and take a view of our graces, let us be sure first to look wholly out of ourselves unto Christ, as our justification, and close with [him] immediately.”[22] Goodwin was not alone. The idea that the Puritans “botched” the doctrine of assurance by giving sanctification a priority over God’s promises is untrue, and is a claim typically made by those who have not done the requisite reading to be in a position to make such a claim. Goodwin opposed antinomian theology while at the same time giving a priority to the person of Christ as the immediate ground for our assurance. To be sure, the antinomians attempted to do that, but only by excising other means of assurance.

The Westminster Confession’s teaching on assurance does not simply end with the promises of God as the only ground for assurance. The both-and principle is affirmed, with the idea that God’s promises and inward evidences of grace are not opposed to each other (see WCF 18.2, “the inward evidence of those graces unto which these promises are made”). A practical syllogism establishes this point:

Major Premise: Those who keep God’s commandments love Christ.

Minor Premise: By the grace of God, I keep God’s commandments.

Conclusion: I love Christ.

Or consider how Theodore Beza puts it:

Qu. But how does a person know if he has faith, or not?

By good works.[23]

The practical syllogism, however offensive to some, fits perfectly with the teaching on good works in WCF 16.2, where we read: “These good works, done in obedience to God’s commandments, are the fruits and evidences of a true and lively faith: and by them believers manifest their thankfulness, [and] strengthen their assurance” (emphasis added).[24] In dealing with this point, Rutherford states that God has promised to cause his people to walk in his commandments. “So all the peace we can collect, for our comfort, from holy walking is resolved on a promise of free-grace, and the duty as performed by the grace of the covenant, may and does lead us to the promise and no wise from Christ but to Christ.”[25]

Besides the practical syllogism, the Westminster Confession also affirms what has been called a “mystical syllogism.” Beeke sets forth a type of mystical syllogism:

Major Premise: According to Scripture, only those who possess saving faith will so experience the Spirit’s confirmation of inward grace and godliness that self decreases and Christ increases.

Minor Premise: I cannot deny that by the grace of God I experience the Spirit’s testimony confirming inward grace and godliness such that self decreases and Christ increases.

Conclusion: I am a partaker of saving faith.[26]

This type of reasoning is also present in the Westminster Confession (18.2), where assurance is grounded in the promises of God and “the inward evidence of those graces unto which these promises are made, the testimony of the Spirit of adoption witnessing with our spirits that we are the children of God.” Thus, Beeke is surely correct to argue that the “best resolution of the objective-subjective tension in assurance is that both owe everything to Christ, receive all from Him, and end with all in Him. In Christ, objective promises and subjective experience are complementary.”[27] Christ is not only for us (i.e., objective), but also in us, the hope of glory (i.e., subjective). In connection with this, Richard Muller makes a number of important observations regarding Beza’s doctrine of assurance. He particularly contends that Beza, like Calvin, “did anchor assurance in Christ and, specifically, in union with Christ. Arguably the basic point made by Calvin and shared by Beza was that the basis for personal assurance is not Christ standing extra nos in the sufficiency of his saving work, but rather personal or subjective recognition of the effects of Christ and his work in the believer as the basis for assurance.”[28] Thus, a focus on good works as a ground for assurance of faith does not necessarily turn the believer away from Christ. Good works may enable the believer to subjectively focus on the work of Christ in him or her. Subjective assurance necessarily takes place in the life of the believer because Christ’s work is not only objective, but also subjective. Indeed, as we are about to see, even Christ’s own assurance was both objective and subjective, with both complementing each other in the most perfect way.

Christ’s Assurance

As noted above, the topic of Christ’s own personal assurance does not receive much, if any, attention in discussions of assurance. Obviously, Christ’s assurance and our assurance are not strictly the same. He is the Savior; we are the saved. But that does not mean that there are not parallels that help us in framing a biblically coherent doctrine of assurance.

Christ trusted in the promises of God (Isa. 49:1–7); he was, as Goodwin claims, “the highest instance of believing that ever was.”[29] As the faithful, obedient servant of the Lord, Jesus looked to many promises made to him by the Father. From the gift of the Spirit to the inheritance of the nations to the name that is above every name, Christ received assurance from his Father that the promises made to him would one day (after his resurrection) be his. Not only that, but Christ was obedient, and his obedience would naturally have assured him of his messianic calling as the second Adam. Whether reading as a young man the third servant song in Isaiah (50:4–9) or daily committing himself to the Father (Ps. 31:5), which culminated at his death (Luke 23:46), Christ was assured of his special task because of inward graces. Indeed, as John writes in his gospel, Jesus kept his Father’s commandments, and so abode in his love (15:10). In addition, Christ would have had a healthy fear of the Lord, knowing that if he shrank back just once, his Father would not have been pleased with him (Heb. 10:38). Assurance, for Christ, was not simply looking to the promises, but also looking to the inward graces communicated to his human nature by the Holy Spirit.

More than that, returning to the objective side, Christ received assurance at his baptism and at the Transfiguration (Mark 1:9–11; 9:2–8). The Father assured Jesus that he was God’s Son, and was well pleasing to him. But Christ would also have received assurance that he was God’s Son in the subjective realm as he prayed. Surely what is true of believers, namely, that the Spirit enables us to cry “Abba, Father” (Rom. 8:15–16), is true of the man who was endowed with the Spirit above measure (John 3:34). It was as natural for Jesus to cry “Father” during his times of prayer—indeed, the course of his life, even right before his death, shows this to be true—as it was for him to breathe. In addition, there can be little doubt that every time that Christ prayed, he was assured of his special relationship with his Father in heaven. As Sinclair Ferguson notes, the Spirit of sonship and assurance bore witness with Christ’s spirit that he was the Messiah: “The Spirit thus seals and confirms the bond of love and trust between the Father and the incarnate Son.”[30]

Believers are commanded to look to Christ for their assurance, and rightly so. If the foregoing has any merit, we may be assured of our salvation, not only because of the beauty and excellence of his person and work, but also by looking to his life as a pattern of how we may likewise be assured of our eternal destiny. To the degree that we look to Christ for us and in us, including his example to us in his earthly sojourn, we will find ourselves not only assured that we are the children of God, but also convinced that the objective-subjective approach to assurance is more Christ-centered than perhaps initially thought.

Multifaceted, Christocentric Assurance

Just as Christ’s assurance was multifaceted, so the believer will also experience assurance of salvation in many different ways. The promises of God, which are many (literally hundreds), assure Christians that, for example, nothing can separate them from the love of God (Rom. 8:31–39). The promises of God require, moreover, that his people look to the person and work of Christ. Some Christians lack assurance because they have an inadequate understanding of Christology. Not only that, but a failure to understand and love God’s attributes, such as his wisdom, immutability, power, and goodness, will also lead to a lack of assurance. These attributes, which are all harmonious with one another, so that, for example, his immutability is his goodness, and vice versa, should provide Christians with the assurance that God’s love for them cannot change because God cannot change. On the subjective side, obeying God’s commandments (1 John 2:3–6), which necessarily includes loving God and his people (1 John 3:11–24), cannot but aid a believer in the quest for full assurance. To deny this would be to overthrow the Christian religion. Connected with that, Christians who pray receive the Spirit of adoption, which enables them to cry—as Christ cried out on the cross (Matt. 27:50, where the same Greek word, krazein, is used)—“Abba! Father!” (Rom. 8:15–16). Christians who struggle with their lack of faith should also be reminded that their struggle with unbelief is a sign of belief (Mark 9:24). It may seem obvious to most, but unbelievers do not struggle with unbelief; Christians do, however, because they are concerned that their faith wavers. Moreover, the point should be made that our worship experience should incorporate all that has been said about how to attain assurance. Specifically, Christians should sing, not only good hymns, but especially the Psalms, for in singing many of the psalms you are left with little doubt whose side you are on!

There is another important aspect of assurance that is rarely touched upon by pastors and theologians. The person of Christ, in his heavenly ministry as our sympathetic high priest (Heb. 4:14–15), has much value to the Christian who seeks assurance of salvation. The incarnation of the Son of God enabled God to be compassionate and merciful in a manner that would have been impossible had the Son not assumed a human nature. As Thomas Goodwin remarks, “His taking our nature at first clothed with frailties, and living in this world as we, this has forever fitted his heart by experience to be in our very hearts and bosoms; and not only or barely to know the distress . . . but experimentally remembering the like in himself once.”[31] Because the Son has a true human nature, he had affections and experiences that were proper to that nature in the context in which he lived. He also remembers those experiences, even now in his exalted state in heaven (Heb. 5:7–10). But because Christ is exalted, having received the gift of the Spirit in the greatest measure possible for a human being, the fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, etc.) in his human nature are greater in heaven than they were on earth. These truths about Christ’s person in heaven are invaluable for the believer. As Goodwin notes, our sins “move him to pity more than to anger.”[32] Goodwin continues:

The object of pity is one in misery whom we love; and the greater the misery is, the more is the pity when the party is beloved. Now of all miseries, sin is the greatest. . . . And [Christ], loving your persons, and hating only the sin, his hatred shall all fall, and that only upon the sin, to free you of it by its ruin and destruction, but his bowels shall be the more drawn out to you; and this as much when you lie under sin as under any other affliction.[33]

Christians live with the ugly reality of their sin on a daily basis. In fact, in some respects, our sin is worse than the sins of unbelievers, for we have greater knowledge and greater powers to resist.[34] But believers must know, based on Christ’s office as priest in his exalted state, that Jesus feels more pity than anger toward us as sinners.

There are a number of “ordinary means” in which believers may gain infallible assurance of faith (WCF 18.3). God’s objective promises should always be uppermost in our minds, for without them the subjective elements of assurance would be impossible. But there is the real danger of making these two elements enemies, when in fact they are friends because Christ and his benefits are friends. All of this shows that the Christian life is complex. Calls to trust God, who justifies the wicked, are essential to the pastoral ministry, but if that is all that preachers speak about with regard to assurance, then they are preaching like antinomians. And, I would say, they are pastorally insensitive to the fact that God is gracious and has given his people many means by which they may have the infallible assurance of salvation, which God and Christ desire for all their people. More than that, preachers have a duty to preach the whole Christ. So many stop at his death, and remind their people that Christ uttered the words, “It is finished,” but the better way is to preach not only Christ’s death and resurrection, but also his intercessory work as our merciful high priest. Again, the antinomian error is one of failing to do justice to the totality of Christ’s person and work. It is, above all, a Christological error.


Reformed and antinomian theologians have significantly different views regarding assurance. However, the question of assurance spills over into Christology. Christology, including Christ’s own experience as God’s servant on earth, has much to teach us about the multifaceted nature of assurance. Besides that, Christ’s own role as a merciful high priest gives believers abundant reason to believe that Christ is even more merciful to his bride while he is in heaven than when he was on earth. These Christological truths are often completely missed by pastors with antinomian tendencies. In their desire to exalt Christ, they often fail to do just that. Antinomian preaching in the past and today often fails to extol the grace of the gospel extensively enough. They diminish the power of the gospel and vitiate the glory of Christ in large measure.

The debate between the two parties was never, as Rutherford notes, “touching the first assurance of justification”; it was axiomatic to Reformed theology that believers are first assured of their justification by faith, not by good works.[35]However, that does not mean, of course, that good works play no role in assurance. The antinomians could not give a role to good works in assurance, other than to say that they are frequently dangerous signs, because of their denial of conditions in the covenant of grace, their view that Christ repented, believed, etc., for his people, and their view that God sees no sin in his people. In doing this, they went too far. But Reformed theologians were sensitive to the dangers of their own “qualifications.” Nonetheless, that did not stop them from affirming that good works are a lawful means for attaining assurance. As Flavel says in his response to this particular antinomian error,

I will further grant, That the eye of a Christian may be too intently fixed upon his own gracious qualifications; and being wholly taken up in the reflex acts of faith, may too much neglect the direct acts of faith upon Christ, to the great detriment of his soul.

But all this notwithstanding, The examination of our justification by our sanctification, is not only a lawful, and possible, but a very excellent and necessary work and duty. It is the course that Christians have taken in all ages, and that which God has abundantly blessed to the joy and encouragement of their souls.[36]

The truth is, to the degree that a person fixes his or her eyes upon Christ, he or she will burst forth with gospel obedience. And obedience, if it is gospel obedience, cannot help but draw us back to Christ in faith, hope, and love. For this reason, the objective and subjective aspects of the Christian life are complementary and necessary. Indeed, by looking inward, Christians may trace the hand of God in their lives and return in thanksgiving and praise. To say “Just look to Christ” does not mean that we should not look inward, for Christ dwells in our hearts by faith (Eph. 3:17).

Mark Jones is the author of Antinomianism: Reformed Theology’s Unwelcome Guest?.

Mark Jones (PhD, Leiden University) is Senior Minister at Faith Vancouver Presbyterian Church (PCA) and Research Associate at the University of the Free State in Bloemfontein, South Africa. He has written and edited several books and most recently coauthored A Puritan Theology: Doctrine for Life.

[1] John Flavel, The Works of the Rev. Mr. John Flavel (1820; repr., Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1997), 3:590.

[2] See the massive bibliography in Joel R. Beeke, The Quest for Full Assurance: The Legacy of Calvin and His Successors (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1999), 311–79.

[3] See Michael S. Horton, “Thomas Goodwin and the Puritan Doctrine of Assurance: Continuity and Discontinuity in the Reformed Tradition, 1600–1680” (PhD diss., Wycliffe Hall, Oxford, and Coventry University, 1995); Joel R. Beeke, “The Assurance Debate: Six Key Questions,” in Drawn into Controversie: Reformed Theological Diversity and Debates within Seventeenth-Century British Puritanism, ed. Michael A. G. Haykin and Mark Jones (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2011), 263–83.

[4] See Theodore Dwight Bozeman, The Precisianist Strain: Disciplinary Religion and Antinomian Backlash in Puritanism to 1638 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2004), passim; David Como, Blown by the Spirit:Puritanism and the Emergence of an Antinomian Underground in Pre-Civil-War England (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2004), passim; William K. Stoever, “A Faire and Easie Way to Heaven”: Covenant Theology and Antinomianism in Early Massachusetts (Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 1978), passim.

[5] See Flavel, Works, 3:557, 589–91.

[6] Stoever, “A Faire and Easie Way,” 141.

[7] Ibid., 146.

[8] Como, Blown by the Spirit, 136–37.

[9] Joel R. Beeke and Mark Jones, A Puritan Theology: Doctrine for Life (Grand Rapids: Reformation Heritage Books, 2012), 593.

[10] Samuel Rutherford, A survey of the spirituall antichrist (London, 1647), 2:91.

[11] John Saltmarsh, Free Grace (London, 1645), 84.

[12] Ibid., 84–85.

[13] Ibid., 85.

[14] Ibid., 86.

[15] Samuel Rutherford, Christ dying and drawing sinners to himself (London, 1647), 108.

[16] Ibid.

[17] Anthony Burgess, The True Doctrine of Justification Asserted and Vindicated, from the Errours of Papists, Arminians, Socinians, and more especially Antinomians, 2nd ed. (London: Tho. Underhil, 1651), 149.

[18] See Beeke, “The Assurance Debate: Six Key Questions,” 265–83.

[19] The connection between faith and assurance is wonderfully described in the Canons of Dort (V.9): “Believers themselves can and do become assured in accordance with the measure of their faith. By this faith they firmly believe that they are and always will remain true and living members of the church, and that they have the forgiveness of sins and eternal life.”

[20] Beeke, “The Assurance Debate: Six Key Questions,” 266.

[21] See Thomas Goodwin, The Works of Thomas Goodwin, D.D. (1861–66; repr., Grand Rapids: Reformation Heritage Books, 2006), vols. 4 and 8.

[22] Ibid., 4:4.

[23] Cited in Richard A. Muller, Calvin and the Reformed Tradition: On the Work of Christ and the Order of Salvation(Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2012), 258.

[24] See also Heidelberg Catechism, Q. & A 86 (Lord’s Day 32), “… so that we may be assured of our faith by its fruits.”

[25] Samuel Rutherford, The Tryal and Triumph of Faith (London, 1645), 183.

[26] Beeke, “The Assurance Debate: Six Key Questions,” 274.

[27] Ibid., 276.

[28] Muller, Calvin and the Reformed Tradition, 267.

[29] Goodwin, Works, 4:9. Goodwin also comments, “Christ thus trusted God upon his single bond; but we, for our assurance, have both Christ and God bound to us.” Ibid.

[30] Sinclair B. Ferguson, The Holy Spirit (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1996), 47.

[31] Goodwin, Works, 4:141.

[32] Ibid., 4:149. James Durham rightly says that many Christians are ignorant of the value of Christ’s intercession. Taking a view similar to Goodwin’s, he writes: “We will find that this intercession and sympathy is not broken off and made less because of the believer’s sin; but is in some respect the more stirred and provoked, because this sympathy flows from the relation that is between Head and members, which sin does not cut off; and it is as with a tender natural parent, who cannot but be affected with the child’s straits, even though he has shamefully brought them on himself; yes, his very failings do touch and affect: so our high Priest’s sympathy, is not only in crosses, but it is to have pity on the ignorant, and compassion on these that are out of the way, Heb. 5. And thus the very sin of a believer affected Him so, that He cannot but sympathize and be provoked to sympathize with him. O what a wonder is this, the more sin, the more sympathy! which ought to make believers humble, and yet exceedingly to comfort them under a sinful condition.” A Commentarie upon the Book of the Revelation (Amsterdam, 1660), 411.

[33] Goodwin, Works, 4:149.

[34] Johannes Maccovius also points out that unbelievers sin more seriously insofar as they “rush into sin with great desire, [but] believers with a broken will; . . . the faithful feel sadness about their committed sins, unbelievers are pleased by them.” Scholastic Discourse: Johannes Maccovius (1588–1644) on Theological and Philosophical Distinctions and Rules (Apeldoorn: Instituut voor Reformatieonderzoek, 2009), 193.

[35] Rutherford, Christ dying and drawing sinners, 110.

[36] Flavel, Works, 3:590. Reformed divines typically speak of a “double act of faith.” The direct act of faith refers to the person’s act of relying upon the promises of God in Christ. The reflex act of faith enables the person to look at a subjective work (e.g., love for neighbor) and thereby gain assurance. As Flavel notes elsewhere, “The soul has not only power to project, but a power also to reflect upon its own actions; not only to put forth a direct act of faith upon Jesus Christ, but to judge and discern that act also.” Ibid., 2:330.