The Distinguishing Marks of a Work of the Spirit of God (in Modern English)

We are pleased to present an updated version of Jonathan Edward's book, The Distinguishing Marks of a Work of the Spirit of God, in updated, modern English for free that you can read online. If you'd like to support our work, please consider subscribing or purchasing a physical copy of the book on Amazon.

Book Summary

The Distinguishing Marks of a Work of the Spirit of God is a book written by Jonathan Edwards in 1741. It is a theological work that examines the signs of the Holy Spirit's presence in the world, especially during a period of Revival. We have updated this timeless piece into modernized, updated English so you can understand exactly what Edwards writes.

If you are looking for a book to better understand how Revival happens and what you should expect, look no further than this book. Jonathan Edwards' sermon, "Sinners in the Hand of an Angry God" is cited as as the sermon that started the First Great Awakening.

We recommend this book for those who want to better understand Revival and how to discern when revival is truly happening.

Jonathan Edwards (Revival)

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Throughout history, God's church has been under various dispensations, or days of grace. This includes the time of the patriarchs, the law of Moses, and the gospel of Jesus Christ, which we are currently under. This is the most blessed time, offering us unique advantages. To those of us fortunate enough to live under the gospel dispensation, Jesus' words to his disciples when he was establishing the Messiah's kingdom and the gospel was spreading can be applied: "Blessed are the eyes that see what you see, for I tell you that many prophets and kings have longed to see what you see but did not, and to hear what you hear but did not." (Luke 10:23-24).

The Mosaic dispensation was filled with symbols and figures, but it was far more advanced than what had come before. However, the gospel dispensation is so much more glorious that it outshines the glory of the legal system, like the stars disappear when the sun rises in its full strength. The most remarkable thing about the gospel is that it is the ministration of the Spirit. Under the preaching of the gospel, the Holy Spirit is poured out in greater abundance, not only in miraculous gifts as in the early days of the gospel, but also in His internal saving operations that accompany the outward ministry. This produces many conversions to Christ and gives spiritual life to those who were once dead in their sins, preparing them for eternal life. The apostle compares the Old Testament and the New, the law of Moses and the gospel of Jesus Christ, to demonstrate this.

"For the letter kills, but the Spirit brings life. If the law, written on stone tablets, was glorious enough that the Israelites could not even look at Moses' face because of its radiance, which eventually faded away, how much more glorious will the Spirit's ministry be?" (2 Cor 3:6-8).

This remarkable period of the gospel has several other names which should increase our appreciation and reverence for it. The evangelical prophet calls it "The acceptable year of the Lord" (Isaiah 61:2). This could also be interpreted as the year of favor, benevolence, or goodwill of the Lord, as it is a special time in which He displays His grace and kindness in an extraordinary way, and bestows spiritual blessings generously. Our Savior also refers to it as the regeneration (Matthew 19:28). This could refer not only to the glorious restoration of all things that is expected at the end of the Christian era, but also to the renewing work of grace in individual souls, which has been taking place since the beginning of the gospel. Compared to the former dispensations, there have been far more people who have been renewed and sanctified under the gospel. When the gospel was first established, so many people joined that it prompted the prophetic question, "Who are these who fly like a cloud, and like doves to their windows?" (Isaiah 60:8). The power of the Holy Spirit was so strong that thousands were converted after hearing one sermon.

Despite the initial outpouring of the Spirit when the gospel was first revealed to the world, a gradual withdrawal of its saving light and influences occurred. This caused the gospel to be less successful and Christianity to decline in many places. However, during the Reformation from popery, the power of divine grace accompanied the preaching of the word, leading to remarkable success in the conversion and edification of souls. This was a time when the exalted Redeemer rode forth on the white horse of the pure gospel, conquering and to conquer. Unfortunately, for a long time now, the churches of the Reformation have been in a dead and barren state. The golden showers have been withheld and the Spirit's influences have been suspended, resulting in the gospel not having any significant success. Conversions have been rare and few people have been born to God. Furthermore, Christians have not been as quickened, warmed, and refreshed under the ordinances as they have been in the past.

For many years, religion has been in a sad state in this land, with only a few places receiving a blessing from God. This is something that all spiritually aware people recognize, and it has been a source of grief for faithful ministers and devoted Christians. As a result, we have been praying every week that God would send His Spirit and revive His work. Additionally, we have been setting aside days for fasting and prayer, asking Him to "come and rain down righteousness upon us".

Now, "Look! The Lord we have been seeking has suddenly come to His temple." (Mal 3.1) The grace we are now under is unlike anything we or our ancestors have ever seen. In some cases, it is so remarkable that I don't think there has been anything like it since the Holy Spirit was poured out after Jesus ascended. It's almost like the days of the apostles have returned - there has been such a powerful display of the Spirit in the gatherings of God's people, and such a strong testimony to the gospel. I recall a remarkable passage from the late, learned Mr. Howe that I think is worth repeating here. He said, "In a time like this, when the Spirit is poured out abundantly, surely ministers will have their share. When that time comes, I believe you'll hear different kinds of sermons than you usually do now. People will be dealt with differently. It's clear, too sadly clear, that the Spirit of God has been withdrawn from us. We don't know how to speak life into people; how to reach them. Our words die in our mouths or fall flat between us and them. We even get discouraged when we speak; our lack of success makes us despondent. We don't speak as if we expect to make people serious, heavenly, mindful of God, and to live like Christians. The methods of convincing and persuading people, even those that some of us have known, have been mostly lost.  But surely, when the Spirit is poured out as expected, ministers will have their share. They will know how to speak with more compassion, more seriousness, more authority, and more persuasiveness than we can now.

We have found our day to be in line with the expectations of this great and excellent man. Several preachers have come to us, to whom God has given such a generous amount of His Spirit that we are sometimes tempted to call them Barnabas: “he was a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost, and of faith.” (Acts 11:24) They spread the gospel of God's grace from place to place with remarkable enthusiasm and dedication. The doctrines they emphasize are those of the Reformation, which caused godliness to flourish so much in the last century. The main points of their preaching are those important ones of human guilt, depravity, and powerlessness; supernatural regeneration by the Spirit of God, and free justification through faith in the righteousness of Christ; and the signs of the new birth.

The way they preach is not with persuasive words of human wisdom. Rather, they share wisdom with those who are mature (1 Cor 2:6). Their hearts are filled with a passionate love for Christ and souls, and this drives their work. God has made His ministers into active servants, like a flame of fire in His service. His word in their mouths is like a fire, and like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces (Jer 23:29). In many places where they have served, God has clearly worked with them, and confirmed the word with accompanying signs (Mar 16:20). Such a powerful presence of God in religious gatherings has not been seen since He set up His sanctuary among us. He has truly "glorified the house of His glory" (Isa 60:7).

This work is truly remarkable in its reach. It has spread across many hundreds of miles of this continent. As the Psalmist said, "He sends forth his commandment on earth; his word runs very swiftly." (Psalm 147:15) It has reached and spread to some of the most populous towns and places of business. Praise be to God, it has even reached the seats of learning in this and a neighboring colony. May the Holy Spirit continue to reside there and inspire our youth to fight the Lord's battles against the powers of darkness when they are called to serve! It is also remarkable in the number of people it has affected. Hundreds of sinners have been awakened and the question "What must I do to be saved?" has been asked in many places. I truly believe that in this city of ours, there were thousands last winter who had never felt such religious impressions before.

The work has been remarkable for the variety of people it has impacted. People of all ages have been affected, from elderly persons who have been saved from destruction to young people who have willingly submitted to the Lord. Even children have praised God, silencing their enemies. People of all ranks and backgrounds have been included, from the great and wealthy to the poor and destitute, and even those from other countries and nations. Ethiopia has even reached out, and some poor African people have been granted the freedom of God's children, regardless of their social standing.

The most uneducated and foolish people in the world, those with little knowledge, have been made "wise unto salvation" (2 Tim 3:15) and taught heavenly truths that have been hidden from the wise and prudent. Some of the most knowledgeable among us have had those things revealed to them by the Father in heaven, which cannot be taught by humans. Some of these people had adopted modern beliefs and only had a polite religion, but their prejudices were conquered, their carnal reasonings were overcome, and their understanding was made to accept gospel mysteries. They now accept "the truth as it is in Jesus" (Eph 4:21) and their faith no longer "stands in the wisdom of man, but in the power of God" (1 Cor 2:5). Even the most disorderly have become more orderly and serious. The formerly frivolous have become solemn. Some of the worst sinners have become saints: drunkards have become temperate; fornicators and adulterers are now chaste; swearers and profane persons have learned to fear God; and carnal worldlings have been made to "seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness" (Mat 6:33). Even those who mocked and scoffed at this work and its instruments have been affected by its power. Some of these people, who had gone to hear the preacher, wondering "What will this babbler say?" (Act 17:18), were unable to resist the power and the Spirit with which he spoke. They trembled under the word and left weeping, later clinging to the preacher. Even Dionysius the Areopagite did this with Paul (Act 17:34). I have heard of many similar stories. The virtuous and civil have been convinced that morality is not enough for life, so they seek the new birth and a vital union to Jesus Christ through faith. The formal professor has been awakened from their dead formalities, brought under the power of godliness, taken away from their false rests, and made to rely on the Mediator's righteousness alone. At the same time, many of God's children have been greatly encouraged and refreshed. They have been woken from their sleeping frames, and are motivated to "make their calling and election sure" (2 Pet 1:10). They have had precious, reviving, and sealing times. The divine influence has been widespread and general in this glorious season.

One more thing is worth noting, and that is the consistency of the work. From the reports I have received in letters and conversations with ministers and others who live in different parts of the country where this work is taking place, it is the same work that is being done in one place as in another. The way the Spirit works on people's minds is the same as it usually is, though with some variations in the circumstances. And the particular manifestations that have accompanied this work, which are not so common at other times, are also much the same. Many people have raised objections against this work because of this. But even though conversion is the same work wherever it is done, it still seems reasonable to suppose that during an extraordinary season in which God is pleased to carry out His grace in a more visible and glorious way, in a way that He wants the world to take notice of, there may be some particular aspects of conversion that are not common at other times - when true conversions are still taking place - or when some of the circumstances surrounding the work may be taken to an unusual degree and intensity. If it were not like this, then the Lord's work would not be so widely discussed and God would not receive so much glory from it. Nor would the work itself be likely to spread so quickly; for God has evidently made use of examples and conversations to carry it out.

And as for the results of this work (which we have been asked to wait for so often), praise be to God! So far as there has been time to observe, they seem to be lasting. I don't mean to say that none have lost their convictions, or that there are no cases of hypocrisy and apostasy. Scripture and experience tell us to expect these at such a time. It's a source of surprise and gratitude to me that there haven't been more. But I mean that a great number of those who have been awakened are still striving to "enter through the narrow gate" (Matthew 7:13). Most of those who were thought to be converted continue to show signs of being new creations and seem to cling to the Lord with their whole heart. It's true that a new atmosphere has been created in this town, though many factors make it less noticeable here than in smaller, more remote places. Many things that are not appropriate for the gospel profession have been improved to some degree. Taverns, dancing schools, and those meetings which have been called assemblies, which have always been hostile to true piety, are visited much less. Many have changed their clothing and appearance to look more like followers of the humble Jesus. It's been both astonishing and pleasing to see that some younger people, especially of the gender that is most fond of such frivolities, have put away their "finery of ornaments" (Isaiah 3:18) as a sign of their pursuit of the inner glories of "the King's daughter" (Psalm 45:13). Religion is now much more of a topic of conversation in people's homes than I have ever known it to be. The doctrines of grace are embraced and appreciated. Private religious meetings have multiplied greatly. Public gatherings (especially lectures) are much better attended, and our listeners are more attentive and serious than ever. There is an extraordinary hunger for "the sincere milk of the word" (1 Peter 2:2).

It has been over a year since evening lectures began in this town. Now, there are two every Tuesday and Friday night. The largest houses are filled with people who seem to have come to listen and learn, so that their souls may be nourished. People now prefer to spend an evening in God's presence rather than anywhere else. There is also a great demand for private meetings with ministers. We are kept busy and often have more people than we can talk to individually. I have written this in detail so that those who are far away and who read this can understand the current state of religion here.

Now, what should we attribute this work to? To say it's the devil's doing, as some do, is like the foolish woman who destroyed her own house. Our Savior taught us to think differently in such cases. He said, "A kingdom divided against itself cannot stand. If Satan is fighting against himself, how can his kingdom stand?"

Some people have preconceived notions about this work and others criticize and insult it. But this doesn't make it any less of a work of God. It would be missing a key sign of its divine origin if the spirit of the world and the spirit of God weren't in opposition. It's no surprise that Satan is so angry and shows his anger in those he has influence over when his kingdom is being threatened and his followers are leaving in droves, if not thousands. I'm sure some of the prejudice is due to a lack of knowledge and misinformation. Others may be offended because they haven't experienced anything like this work in themselves. If that's the case, they need to start over and build a new foundation. This is something people don't want to do. Others may not like the work because it supports principles they haven't accepted yet and they have a hard time letting go of their prejudices. It's clear these fruits don't come from Arminian ground. I hope no one dislikes the work because they weren't part of it. If we truly love Jesus, we should be happy to see Him grow, even if it means we have to shrink. If someone is determined to reject this work, criticize it, and oppose it, they must be left to God's mercy to save them. If they had the chance to be properly informed, I'm sure they would have been disbelievers and opponents of Jesus' miracles and mission if they had lived during His time. The malice some of them have shown is close to unforgivable. They should be careful not to commit the sin that leads to death (1 John 5:16). We should all heed the warning: "Because they do not regard the works of the Lord, nor the operation of his hands, He shall destroy them, and not build them up." (Ps 28:5)

If anyone is open to being convinced and has an open mind to learning about this work, I'm pleased to offer them these sheets. They will find in them the "distinguishing marks" of a work from God, as they are found in the Bible, applied to the unusual experience that many people in this land have had. Here, the matter is tested against the infallible standard of the Bible and is weighed with great care and fairness in the balance of the sanctuary.

A performance of this kind is timely and essential. I am grateful to God for inspiring this servant of His to take it on and for graciously aiding him in it. The Reverend Author is known to be "a scribe instructed for the kingdom of heaven" (Mat 13.52). The place where he has been called to exercise his ministry has been renowned for experiential religion; he has had the chance to witness this work in many places where it has been powerfully present, and to converse with many who have experienced it. These experiences make him especially qualified for this task. His arguments in favor of the work are strongly based on Scripture, reason, and experience. I believe that any fair and wise reader will agree that he writes without any fanatical or partisan spirit. He acknowledges the use of human learning, recommends a methodical way of preaching that is the result of both study and prayer, and encourages charity in judging others. He also warns against any potential flaws or hindrances to the work. I am sure many will be thankful for this publication. Those who already had positive thoughts about this work will be further encouraged, and the doubting may be convinced and satisfied. However, if there are still those who cannot see the signs of a divine hand in the work, I hope they will be persuaded to withhold their criticism and cease their opposition, lest they "even be found to fight against God" (Act 5.39).

I still have more to say, but I must restrain myself or I will go beyond the scope of this preface. I must apologize to both the reader and the publishers for how long I have already gone on. I can't help but express my wish that those who have been involved in this work in any way would pass on their accounts to the Reverend Author of this discourse, so that he can compile them into a narrative. It would be like the conversions at Northampton that were published a few years ago, so that the world can learn about this incredible event from its beginning, progress, and various details. This would be a great honor to the Holy Spirit, whose work and office has been so unfairly treated in the Christian world. It would be a clear testament to the divinity of a disregarded gospel and could have a positive effect on other places where the news of this amazing work would spread. I think it would be one of the most beneficial pieces of church history that the people of God have been blessed with. It might even come close to the Acts of the Apostles in its content, and no other history in the world can compare to that. There we can see something as remarkable as in the book of Genesis, and a new kind of creation seems to be revealed. But I must stop here. I will only add my prayer that the Author of this discourse may continue to be a bright light in the golden candlestick where Christ has placed him, and from there spread his light throughout these provinces. May the divine Spirit, whose cause is championed here, accompany this and the other valuable publications of his servant with his powerful influence. May they promote the Redeemer's cause, serve the purpose of true religion, and bring the Author joy in the present and a crown in the future.

Boston, November 20th, 1741.

W. Cooper

Chapter 1: The Signs of a Work of the True Spirit

“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” - 1 John 4.1

In the early days of the Church, there was an extraordinary outpouring of the Spirit of God, both in terms of His extraordinary gifts and His ordinary work in convincing, converting, enlightening, and sanctifying people. Unfortunately, the devil was also busy mimicking the Spirit's work, making it necessary for the Church to have clear rules to distinguish the true from the false. This is the purpose of 1 John 4, where the Apostle provides the Church with marks of the true Spirit that can be easily understood and applied. It is remarkable that this chapter is not more widely discussed today. The apostle deliberately attempts to provide the church of God with clear and secure signs of the true Spirit that are suitable for our use and practice. To ensure that the topic is adequately discussed, he emphasizes it throughout the chapter. It is remarkable that this is not more widely acknowledged today, when there is such a strong influence on people's minds and so many different opinions about it, and so much discussion about the work of the Spirit.

The apostle's words on this topic start with a reference to the Spirit's presence as a sign of being connected to Christ. "Whoever keeps his commandments lives in Him, and He in them; and we know that He lives in us because of the Spirit He has given us." (1 John 3:24) From this, we can assume that the apostle's goal is not only to provide ways to tell the true Spirit from the false in terms of prophecy and miracles, but also to show how the Spirit works in the lives of believers to bring them closer to Christ and help them grow in Him. This is further evidenced by the examples he provides, which we will look at later.

The words of the text are an introduction to this discussion about the ways to tell the difference between a true and false spirit. Before the apostle gives these signs, he encourages Christians to not be too trusting and to not accept every convincing appearance as the work of a true spirit. "Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see if they are from God." (1 John 4:1). This is because many false prophets have gone out into the world. These false prophets not only claim to have the Spirit of God in their extraordinary gifts of inspiration, but also to be the great friends and favorites of heaven, to be exceptionally holy people, and to have much of the ordinary saving and sanctifying influences of the Spirit of God in their hearts. Therefore, we should take these words as a guide to examine and test their claims to the Spirit of God in both these respects.

Therefore, my goal right now is to demonstrate the true, certain, and distinguishing signs of a work of the Spirit of God, so that we can make a safe judgement about any operation we experience ourselves or observe in others. I should point out that we should use the Scriptures as our guide in such matters. This is the great and permanent rule that God has given to His church, to help them with the important matters of their souls; it is an infallible and sufficient rule. There are certainly enough signs given to guide the church of God in this crucial task of judging spirits, without which it would be vulnerable to terrible deception, and be taken advantage of, tricked, and consumed by its enemies, with no way to stop it. We don't need to be afraid to trust these rules. Undoubtedly, the Spirit who wrote the Scriptures knew how to give us good rules to distinguish His operations from all that is falsely claimed to be from Him. And this, as I mentioned before, the Spirit of God has done intentionally, and has done it more specifically and thoroughly than anywhere else. So, in my current discussion, I won't look anywhere else for rules or marks to test spirits, but will stay within the boundaries of what I find in this chapter.

Before I discuss these particular signs, I want to first point out what are not signs of the Spirit of God.

Chapter 2: Criteria to Avoid When Evaluating a Work of the Spirit

Negative signs; or; What are not the criteria by which we can judge a work, and more importantly, what are not indications that a work is not from the Spirit of God?

1. The work is unique and remarkable.

It's impossible to draw any definite conclusions from this. We can't judge something just because it's different from what the church is used to. God has done extraordinary things before and He can do them again. He has done new and unexpected things that have surprised both people and angels.

And because God has acted in this way in the past, we have no reason to think that He won't continue to do so. The prophecies of Scripture give us reason to believe that God has plans that have yet to be seen. We cannot assume that something is not from the Holy Spirit just because it is different from what we are used to, as the Spirit is sovereign in His operations and we cannot know the variety of ways He may choose to work within the boundaries of His own rules. We should not limit God where He has not limited Himself. Therefore, it is not reasonable to conclude that a work is not from the Holy Spirit just because of the extraordinary degree of influence it has. If it is accompanied by an extraordinary conviction of the severity of sin, an uncommon sense of the misery of a Christless life, extraordinary views of the certainty and glory of divine things, and powerful emotions of fear, sorrow, desire, love, or joy, or if the change is sudden and the work is carried out quickly with many people, including many young people, and does not contradict Scripture, then these are not arguments against it being from the Holy Spirit. In fact, the more extraordinary the degree of influence, the more it conforms to the rule, and its conformity is more evident. When things are in small degrees, it is not always easy to tell if they are in line with the rule. People tend to be suspicious of things that are unfamiliar, especially older people who have never seen or heard of something like this before. But if it is a good argument that a work is not from the Spirit of God because it is unusual, then it was the same in the days of the apostles. The work of the Spirit then was carried out in a way that was completely new, with more visible and remarkable power than ever before. There had never been such a sudden change in so many people, with such swift progress and vast extent of the work. The Jews were amazed by the great unusualness of the work and couldn't believe it was from God, thinking those affected had lost their minds.

We can infer from scripture prophecy that when the last and greatest outpouring of the Spirit of God comes in the latter ages of the world, the manner of the work will be extraordinary, unlike anything we have ever seen before. As Isaiah 66:8 says, "Who has heard such a thing? Who has seen such things? Shall the earth be made to bring forth in one day? Shall a nation be born at once? For as soon as Zion travailed, she brought forth her children." We can reasonably expect that the extraordinary manner of the work will be in line with the extraordinary events and the remarkable transformation of the world that God will bring about.

2. It has physical or emotional impacts.

We cannot judge a work by the physical effects it has on people, such as tears, trembling, groans, loud outcries, or the loss of bodily strength. The Scripture does not provide us with a rule to determine whether someone is under the influence of the true Spirit based on these physical effects. Nor can we conclude that someone is not under the influence of the Spirit of God because of these outward appearances. This is because there is no rule in Scripture that either explicitly or implicitly excludes such effects on the body, nor does reason. We can understand how a true and proper sense of things can have such extraordinary effects on the body, like taking away bodily strength or throwing the body into great agonies, when we consider the nature of divine and eternal things, the nature of man, and the laws of the union between soul and body.

None of us can deny that the misery of hell is undoubtedly so terrible and eternity so vast that if someone were to have a full understanding of it, it would be too much for their fragile body to handle - especially if they saw themselves in great danger of it and had no assurance of being saved from it, not even for a single day or hour. It's no surprise that when people have a deep understanding of this incredibly awful thing and also have a clear view of their own wickedness and God's wrath, they feel like their destruction is imminent. We know that when someone is in danger of a terrible disaster that they are exposed to, they are likely to think that it is coming at any moment.

When people are filled with fear, as in times of war, they are so scared that even the slightest sound can make them jump, expecting the enemy to appear at any moment. If we imagine someone standing over a deep pit filled with fierce, blazing flames, hanging by a thread that they know is too weak to support their weight, and they know that many have been in this situation before and most of them have fallen and perished, what distress they would feel! They would be ready to think that the thread is breaking and that this very minute they will be swallowed up in the flames. How much more so for those who see themselves in this manner, hanging over an infinitely more dreadful pit, or held over it in the hand of an exceedingly angry God! No wonder that the wrath of God, when it is even slightly revealed to the soul, overwhelms human strength.

It's understandable why a true appreciation of the Lord Jesus Christ and His amazing love for us, along with the spiritual joy and love that comes with it, can be so overwhelming that it surpasses our physical strength. We all know that no one can see God and live, and that our current state can't handle the full extent of the glory and love of Christ that the saints experience in heaven. So it's not surprising that God sometimes gives us a glimpse of heaven that can weaken us physically. It's not strange that the Queen of Sheba fainted and lost her strength when she saw the glory of Solomon, and it's even less strange that the Church, which was once far away in a state of sin and misery, would faint when she sees the glory of Christ, who is the antitype of Solomon. This will be especially true in the prosperous, peaceful, and glorious kingdom that He will establish in the world in its later days.

Some people object to these extraordinary displays, saying that we don't have any examples of them recorded in the New Testament during the extraordinary outpourings of the Spirit. If this were true, I don't see how it would be a valid objection, as long as neither reason nor Scripture forbid such things - especially when considering what was discussed earlier. I'm not aware of any explicit mention in the New Testament of anyone weeping, groaning, or sighing out of fear of hell or a sense of God's anger. But would anyone be so foolish as to conclude from this that if these things appear in someone, their convictions are not from the Spirit of God? The reason why we don't draw this conclusion is because these can be easily explained by what we know about human nature and what the Bible tells us in general about the nature of eternal things and the nature of God's Spirit's convictions. So there's no need to say anything specific about these external, circumstantial effects. We don't expect to find explicit Scripture for every external, incidental manifestation of the inner workings of the mind. Even if these circumstances aren't specifically mentioned in Scripture, there's still good reason to believe that it couldn't have been any other way in those days.

And there is also reason to believe that such a powerful outpouring of the Spirit had some more extraordinary effects on people's bodies. The jailer in particular appears to have been an example of this, when he came trembling and fell down before Paul and Silas in utter distress and amazement. His falling down at that time doesn't seem to have been an act of supplication or to address Paul and Silas humbly, as he didn't say anything to them then. Instead, he first brought them out and then asked, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" (Act 16:29-30). His falling down appears to have been caused by the same thing as his trembling. The psalmist gives an account of his loud cries and how his body weakened under the weight of his conscience and the guilt of his sins. "When I kept silent, my bones grew old, through my roaring all day long; for day and night Your hand was heavy upon me. My moisture is turned into the drought of summer." (Ps. 32:3-4).

We can certainly make the argument that conviction of sin can lead to such an effect in some cases. If we assume that the psalmist's words are progressive, then it would not make sense for him to express something that would be impossible to achieve. In Matthew 14:26, we read that when the disciples saw Jesus coming to them in the storm, they were so afraid that they cried out. So why should it be strange that people would cry out in fear when they see God as a terrifying enemy and fear being swallowed up in eternal misery? The bride in the Song of Songs often speaks of being overwhelmed by the love of Christ, to the point of being physically weak and faint. In Song of Songs 2:5, she says, "Feed me with raisin cakes and comfort me with apples, for I am lovesick." And in chapter 5:8, she says, "I charge you, O you daughters of Jerusalem, if you find my Beloved, that you tell him I am lovesick." From this, we can conclude that such an effect can arise from such a cause in the lives of the saints in some cases, and that it will sometimes be seen in the church of Christ.

It is a weak argument to suggest that the fervor of believers has a strong impact on their bodies. The fact that Quakers used to tremble is not proof that Saul, later known as Paul, and the jailer did not shake from genuine feelings of conscience. In fact, all such objections based on physical effects, whether large or small, appear to be extremely trivial. Those who make such claims are in the dark, not knowing what basis they are operating on or how to judge. The source and course of events must be considered, and the nature of the operations and emotions must be investigated and evaluated according to the teachings of God's Word, not by gut reactions or emotional feelings.

3. It causes a lot of commotion regarding religion.

It is not a valid argument to say that an operation on people's minds is not the work of the Spirit of God just because it causes a lot of religious fervor. True religion is not like the Pharisees', which was showy and sought to be seen by people for their approval. But human nature is such that it is impossible for there to be a great concern, strong affection, and general enthusiasm among a people without causing a noticeable, visible, and open disturbance and change among them. It is not a valid argument to say that people's minds are not under the influence of God's Spirit just because they are greatly moved. After all, spiritual and eternal things are so great and of such infinite importance that it would be absurd if people were not deeply affected by them.

And surely it is no argument that they are not moved by the Spirit of God, if they are affected by these things to some degree, as they should be, or in a way that reflects their importance. Has there ever been a time since the world began when a group of people were deeply moved by something without making a lot of noise or commotion? Human nature just doesn't work that way.

Indeed, Christ says, "The kingdom of God does not come with observation." Luke 17:20. That is, it won't be something that is outwardly visible; it won't be like earthly kingdoms, set up with grandeur in a particular place. As Christ explains himself in the following words, "Nor will they say, 'Look here!' or 'Look there!' For behold, the kingdom of God is within you." This doesn't mean that the kingdom of God will be set up in the world without a noticeable effect - a great change in the state of things that will astound the world. This is even foretold in Scripture and is expressed by Christ himself in this same passage: "For as the lightning that flashes out of one part under heaven, shines to another part under heaven, so also the Son of Man will be in His day." Luke 17:24. This is to distinguish Christ's coming to set up His kingdom from the coming of false Christs, which He tells us will be done in a private manner in the deserts and in secret chambers. In contrast, this event of setting up the kingdom of God would be open and public, in the sight of the whole world with clear manifestation - like lightning that cannot be hidden, but glares in everyone's eyes and shines from one side of heaven to the other. When Christ's kingdom came with the remarkable pouring out of the Spirit in the apostles' days, it caused a great stir everywhere. There was a mighty opposition in Jerusalem due to the great effusion of the Spirit, and the same in Samaria, Antioch, Ephesus, Corinth, and other places. The affair filled the world with noise and caused some to say of the apostles that they had "turned the world upside down" (Acts 17:6).

4. Great impressions are made on the mind.

It is clear that an operation on the minds of a people cannot be attributed to the Spirit of God simply because many of those affected have strong impressions on their imaginations. Just because someone has many impressions on their imagination does not mean that they have nothing else. It is understandable that this would be the case when a large number of people are intensely thinking and feeling about invisible things. It would be strange if this were not the case. Our nature is such that we cannot think of invisible things without some degree of imagination. I challenge anyone, even those with the greatest minds, to think of God, Christ, or the afterlife without having some kind of imaginary ideas accompanying their thoughts. The more engaged the mind is and the more intense the contemplation and emotion, the more vivid and powerful the imaginary ideas will be - especially when accompanied by surprise. This is especially true when the mental view is new and captures the emotions, such as fear or joy, and when the state and views of the mind change suddenly from one extreme to another, such as from something extremely frightening to something extremely delightful. It is not surprising that many people do not make a clear distinction between what is imaginary and what is intellectual and spiritual, or that they place too much emphasis on the imaginary part when describing their experiences - especially those with less understanding and discernment.

God has blessed us with the gift of imagination, and it seems to be part of our nature to use it when thinking about spiritual and intangible things. I believe this faculty can be beneficial to the other faculties of the mind, as long as it is used properly. However, if the imagination is too strong and the other faculties too weak, it can overpower and disrupt them. I have seen many examples of God using this faculty for divine purposes, especially with those who are less knowledgeable. It seems like God is accommodating to their situation and communicating with them in the same way He did with His church in its infancy, through symbols and physical representations. I don't think this is an unreasonable assumption. Those who often work with souls in spiritual matters should consider if their experience confirms this.

It is clear that a work does not necessarily have to be of the Spirit of God for some of its subjects to experience a kind of ecstasy, in which they are taken beyond themselves and their minds are filled with strong and pleasant imaginings, as if they were taken up to heaven and saw glorious sights. I am aware of some such cases. I do not think it is necessary to involve the devil in explaining these phenomena, nor to assume that they are of the same nature as the visions of the prophets or St. Paul's rapture into paradise. All that needs to be taken into account is human nature under intense exercises and emotions. I have already shown that it is possible to explain why people, under a true sense of the glorious and wonderful greatness and excellence of divine things, and soul-stirring views of the beauty and love of Christ, could have their strength of nature overwhelmed.

It's not surprising that among those who are overwhelmed by strong emotions, there are some with particular constitutions that have their imaginations affected in the same way. It's no wonder that when their thoughts are so focused and their affections so strong, the rest of their body is weakened and they feel like they're about to collapse. It's not a surprise that in such a state, the brain - which is especially sensitive to intense contemplation and mental exertion - is affected in such a way that its strength and energy is diverted and it can no longer process the impressions from our external senses, and instead is filled with pleasant and delightful images that match the current state of the mind. Some people misinterpret these experiences and give them too much weight, believing them to be prophetic visions or divine revelations. However, I have seen cases where this was not the case. I do believe, however, that these experiences can be from the Spirit of God, in the sense that the extraordinary frame of mind and the strong sense of divine things that cause them are from His Spirit. As long as the mind remains in its holy frame and retains a divine sense of spiritual things, even in its rapture, this holy frame and sense is from the Spirit of God, even if the accompanying imaginations are just incidental. As a result, these imaginations are usually confused, improper, and false.

5. One method used is setting an example or following someone else's lead.

It is not a sign that a work is not from the Spirit of God if example is used to accomplish it. It would not be a valid argument to say that an effect is not from God simply because means were used to produce it. We know that God often uses means to carry out His work in the world, so it is no more an argument against the divinity of an effect if means are used than if any other means were used. The Bible encourages us to be influenced by the good examples of others and to set good examples for others to follow. Passages such as Matthew 5:16, 1 Peter 3:1, 1 Timothy 4:12, Titus 2:7, 2 Corinthians 8:1-7, Hebrews 6:12, Philippians 3:17, 1 Corinthians 4:16, 11:1, 2 Thessalonians 3:9, and 1 Thessalonians 1:7 all demonstrate that example is one of God's means. Therefore, it is not a valid argument to say that a work is not of God just because His own means are used to effect it.

It is a Scriptural and reasonable way to carry out God's work by setting an example. It does not mean that people are not influenced by reason just because they are influenced by example. This way of people presenting truth to each other has the potential to enlighten minds and convince reason. It is clear that words can be used to convey our ideas to others, but actions can often do it more effectively and completely.

There is a language in actions that can be much clearer and more convincing than words. It is not an argument against the goodness of the effect that people are greatly affected by seeing others in such a way, even if the impression is made without hearing them say a single word. In such a case, their behavior alone can be enough to convey their minds to others and to show them their sense of things more than words ever could. If someone were to witness another in extreme physical pain, they would gain a much clearer understanding and more convincing evidence of what they were going through from their actions than from the unaffected and indifferent description of someone who had not experienced it. Similarly, one could gain a greater idea of anything that is excellent and very delightful from the behavior of someone who is actually enjoying it than from the dull narration of someone who is inexperienced and insensitive.

I believe it is clear that the effects on people's minds are rational, since not only those who are not knowledgeable or experienced are affected by example, but also those who pride themselves on their rational thinking. They are more likely to be swayed by reason presented in this way than almost any other. It is true that the religious feelings of many who are moved by this, such as hearing the word preached, may be fleeting, as Christ described the stony-ground hearers. However, the emotions of some who are affected by example are lasting and can lead to salvation.

Throughout history, there has always been a driving force behind remarkable spiritual awakenings and revivals of religion. This was certainly the case during the Reformation, and in the days of the Apostles in Jerusalem, Samaria, Ephesus, and beyond, as is evident from the accounts in the Acts of the Apostles. Just as one person was inspired by another in those days, one city or town was influenced by the example of another.

"So that you would be an example to all believers in Macedonia and Achaia. Your faith in God has been heard of far and wide, not just in Macedonia and Achaia, but everywhere." (1 Thess 1:7-8)

It is not a valid argument against using examples to carry out God's work that the Bible speaks of the Word as the main means. The Word of God is the primary way in which other means are made effective. Even the sacraments have no effect without the Word. This is how examples become effective. Anything visible to the eye is meaningless and useless without the Word of God to teach and guide the mind. It is the Word of God that is presented and applied through example, just as the Word of the Lord was proclaimed to other cities in Macedonia and Achaia through the example of those in Thessalonica who believed.

It appears that Scripture provides several ways to signify that using this example should be a great way to spread the church of God. One example is Ruth's decision to follow Naomi out of Moab and into Israel, vowing to stay with her and accept Naomi's people and God as her own. Ruth, who was the ancestor of both David and Christ, is seen as a great representation of the church, which is why her story is included in the Bible. Her leaving Moab and its gods to put her trust in the God of Israel is a representation of the conversion of not only the Gentile church, but of every sinner who is naturally an outsider. In their conversion, they forget their own people and home and become a part of the saints and a true Israelite.

The same thing appears to be indicated in the impact that the example of the spouse, when she was lovesick, had on the “daughters of Jerusalem,” that is, visible Christians. They were first stirred by seeing the spouse in such an extraordinary state, and then were converted. This can be seen in Song of Songs 5:8-9 and 6.:1. This is certainly one way that “the Spirit and the bride say, Come” (Revelation 22:17) – that is, the Spirit in the Bride. It is prophesied that this method would be used extensively in the last great outpouring of the Spirit, and that it would bring about the glorious day of the church, which is often mentioned in Scripture.

"People from one city will go to another, saying, 'Let's go and pray to the Lord and seek his help. I'm coming too.' Many people and powerful nations will come to Jerusalem to seek the Lord and pray to him. This is what the Lord of Hosts says: In those days, ten people from every language group will take hold of a Jew's clothing and say, We want to go with you, because we've heard that God is with you." (Zec 8:21-23)

6. It is accompanied by reckless and irresponsible behavior.

It is not a sign that a work is not from the Spirit of God if many of its subjects act imprudently and irresponsibly. We must remember that God's Spirit is poured out to make people holy, not to make them politicians. It is not surprising that in a diverse group of people, including the wise and unwise, young and old, and those with different natural abilities, there are many who act without thought. It takes a great deal of wisdom, strength, and steadiness of mind to conduct oneself properly in the face of strong emotions, whether they be temporal or spiritual. A thousand imprudences do not mean that a work is not of the Spirit of God, but if there are many things that go against the rules of God's word, then that is a different story. This can be explained by the weakness of human nature and the darkness and corruption still present in those who have been touched by God's Spirit and have a real passion for Him.

We have a remarkable example in the New Testament of a people who experienced a great outpouring of the Spirit in the apostles' days, yet still had imprudences and great irregularities - the church at Corinth. This church is renowned in the New Testament for being blessed with abundant measures of the Spirit of God, both in His ordinary influences in converting sinners and in His extraordinary and miraculous gifts. However, they had many imprudences, great and sinful irregularities, and strange confusion at the Lord's Supper and in the exercise of church discipline. Additionally, their behavior during other parts of public worship was inappropriate, and they argued fiercely about their teachers - even while exercising their extraordinary gifts of prophecy, speaking in tongues, and the like, which were inspired by the Spirit of God.

If we observe some people who are important to the work making careless and even sinful decisions, it does not mean that the work is not of God. Even the apostle Peter, who was a great, holy, and inspired apostle and one of the main people responsible for establishing the Christian church, made a great and sinful mistake while he was doing this work. This is what the apostle Paul refers to here.

"When Peter arrived in Antioch, I confronted him directly because he was in the wrong. Before certain people from James arrived, he would eat with the Gentiles, but when they came, he pulled away and isolated himself, scared of those who were circumcised. The other Jews followed his lead, so much so that even Barnabas was taken in by their deception." (Gal 2:11-13)

If a prominent leader of the Christian church - one of the most important figures who are the very foundations on which, next to Christ, the entire church is said to be built - committed such a mistake, is it any surprise if other lesser figures, who don't have the same extraordinary guidance of the divine Spirit as he did, make mistakes too?

It's not evidence that something isn't from God if many of the people involved in it make presumptions about others' spiritual state. This could be because they've accepted incorrect ideas about how to judge someone's faith, or because they don't understand how the Spirit works, or because they don't take into account the imperfections of believers. It could also be because they don't recognize their own spiritual blindness and pride, which can be hidden in the guise of something else.

If we accept that even the most devout people can still be blind to their own faults and be mistaken in their judgement of others' hypocrisy, then it's not surprising that they can make mistakes like this. It's just as easy, and in some cases even easier, to explain why the faults of good people can sometimes go unnoticed in this way, than in most other ways. Unfortunately, it is a sad truth that many holy people have been wrong in this regard.

Lack of enthusiasm in religion is abhorrent, and zeal is an admirable quality; however, above all other Christian virtues, this zeal must be carefully monitored and examined. For it is something that is easily tainted by corruption - particularly pride and human emotion - without being noticed. It is noteworthy that whenever there is a great reformation that leads to a revival of zeal in the church of God, it is often accompanied by some form of irregularity and an excessive severity. For example, in the time of the apostles, there was a lot of zeal concerning clean and unclean foods, which caused Christians to be at odds with each other, both sides condemning and criticizing each other as if they were not true Christians. The apostle, however, had compassion for both sides, as they were motivated by a spirit of true piety. He said, "Whoever eats, eats to the Lord, and gives thanks to God; and whoever does not eat, does so to the Lord, and gives thanks to God." (Rom 14:6) Similarly, in the church of Corinth, they had fallen into the habit of praising some ministers and criticizing others, and they were puffed up against each other. Nevertheless, these things were not a sign that the work of God was not being carried out wonderfully.

After this, when religion was still flourishing and a spirit of holiness and zeal was present in the Christian church, some Christians took their zeal too far and were too harsh in their exercise of church discipline towards those who had done wrong. In some cases, they would not accept them back into their charity and communion, no matter how humble and repentant they seemed. During the reign of Constantine the Great, the zeal of Christians against heathenism even led to persecution. Similarly, during the Reformation, zeal was often expressed in an inappropriate severity and even persecution, even among some of the most prominent reformers, such as Calvin. During this time of flourishing religion, many were guilty of harshly criticizing those who had different opinions on matters of divinity.

7. It is tainted with mistakes in judgement or delusions of Satan.

It is not an argument against the Spirit of God being at work that there are errors in judgment and some delusions of Satan mixed in. We should not expect the Spirit of God to be given in the same way as it was to the apostles, to infallibly guide them in Christian doctrine. Even if there are many delusions of Satan present at the same time as a great religious concern, it does not mean that the work is not of God, just as it was not an argument in Egypt that there were no true miracles of God because Jannes and Jambres were performing false miracles. It is possible for the same person to be influenced by the Spirit of God and yet be led astray by the delusions of Satan. This is not a paradox, as it is true of many real saints in this state, where grace and corruption coexist in the same person and the kingdom of God and the kingdom of the devil remain together for a while in the same heart. Many godly people have been exposed to delusions by placing too much weight on impulses and impressions as if they were immediate revelations from God, to signify something that is to come or to direct them in what to do.

8. Some who initially respond to the message eventually drift away.

If some people, who were thought to be influenced by the Spirit, fall away into serious errors or immoral behavior, it doesn't mean that the work of the Spirit of God is not genuine. The fact that there are some counterfeits doesn't mean that nothing is true. This is something that is expected during a time of reform. If we look at church history, we will find that no great revival of religion has ever taken place without such occurrences. In the time of the apostles, these instances were countless. Some fell away into serious heresies, others into immoral behavior, even though they seemed to be influenced by the Spirit - and were accepted among those who were truly so, as their brothers and companions - and were not suspected until they left them (1 John 2:18-19). Some of these were teachers and officers, and prominent people in the Christian church - those whom God had endowed with miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit, as it is described in the beginning of Hebrews 6. An example of this was Judas. He was one of the twelve apostles, and had been united to and closely associated with a group of truly devoted disciples for a long time - without being discovered or suspected, until he revealed himself through his immoral behavior.

Jesus treated him as if he were a true disciple, sending him out to preach the gospel and equipping him with miraculous gifts of the Spirit. Although Jesus knew him, He did not act as an omniscient Judge and searcher of hearts. Instead, He acted as a minister of the visible church, not rejecting him until Judas revealed himself through his scandalous behavior. This serves as an example to guides and rulers of the visible church, not to take it upon themselves to act as a searcher of hearts, but to be guided by what is visible and open. There were some apostates who were thought to be full of the grace of God's Spirit, such as Nicolas, one of the seven deacons. He was chosen for his office out of the multitude of Christians (Acts 6:3, 5) because he was seen as a man full of the Holy Ghost. Unfortunately, he later fell away and became the head of a sect of heretics, called the sect of the Nicolaitans. (Rev 2:6 and 15)

In the time of the Reformation from Catholicism, it was remarkable how many people seemed to join the reformers, only to later fall away into the most ridiculous and abhorrent practices. It is especially noteworthy that during times of spiritual revival, many who initially seemed to be part of it ended up embracing strange and extreme beliefs, and claiming to have achieved a high level of spirituality and perfection while condemning others as carnal. This was the case with the Gnostics in the time of the apostles, and with various sects during the Reformation. Anthony Burgess wrote about this in his book "Spiritual Refinings", Part I, Sermon 23, page 132: "The first great reformers and instruments of God encountered a difficult challenge, not only from formalists and traditional Catholics, but also from those who thought they were more enlightened than the reformers. Thus, those who adhered to the Scripture and judged revelations by it were called Literists and Vowelists, as they were familiar with the words and vowels of the Scripture, but had nothing of the Spirit of God. Wherever the true gospel was preached to replace Catholicism, these kinds of opinions quickly appeared, like weeds among the wheat. This caused great divisions and made the Reformation look bad to the world, as if it had been the sun that had brought out all the worms and snakes. Consequently, they criticized Luther and said he had only brought a carnal gospel."

For a while, some of the leaders of those wild enthusiasts were highly respected by the first reformers and held in high regard. This was also the case in England during the time of King Charles I, the Interregnum, and Oliver Cromwell when there was a great revival of religion. Similarly, in New England during its most pious days, these kinds of occurrences were common. Therefore, the devil's sowing of tares is not an indication that the Spirit of God is not actively working.

9. Ministers are advocating for the importance of following God's holy law, emphasizing the consequences of not doing so.

It is no argument that a work cannot be from the Spirit of God if it is promoted by ministers who emphasize the terrors of God's holy law with great passion and sincerity. If there is a hell of such horrific and everlasting torment as is commonly believed, and if many people are in great danger of ending up there, and if most people in Christian countries actually do end up there due to a lack of understanding of its severity and a lack of taking the necessary precautions to avoid it, then why wouldn't it be appropriate for those who are responsible for the souls of others to take great pains to make people aware of it? Why shouldn't they be told as much of the truth as possible? If I am in danger of going to hell, I would be grateful to know as much as I can about the horror of it. If I am prone to neglecting the necessary steps to avoid it, then the person who does me the greatest kindness will be the one who presents me with the truth of the situation and describes my misery and danger in the most vivid way.

I appeal to everyone, can't you imagine what you would do if you were faced with a great temporal calamity? If you were a head of a family and saw one of your children in a house on fire, in imminent danger of being consumed by the flames, yet seemingly unaware of the danger and neglecting to escape after you called out to them repeatedly, would you just speak of the danger in a cold and indifferent manner? Wouldn't you cry out and call earnestly to the child, emphasizing the danger they were in and their own foolishness in delaying, doing so in the most vivid way possible? If you just spoke to them in a cold manner, like you would in an ordinary conversation about unimportant matters, wouldn't those around you think you had lost your mind? This isn't how people act when faced with a serious situation that requires their utmost attention and haste. They don't just speak of the danger and warn others in a cold and indifferent way. Nature teaches us differently. If we, who have the care of souls, knew what hell was, had seen the state of the damned, or had become aware of how dreadful their situation was in any other way, and at the same time knew that most people go there, and saw that our hearers were not aware of their danger, it would be impossible for us to not earnestly set before them the dreadfulness of that misery and their great exposure to it, and even cry out to them.

When ministers preach about hell and urge sinners to stay away from it, but do so in a detached manner - even though they may say in words that it is unimaginably awful - they are not being consistent. As I mentioned before, actions speak louder than words. If a preacher's words suggest that the sinner's situation is unimaginably dire, but his behavior and way of speaking contradict it - indicating that the preacher does not truly believe this - he is undermining his own goal. In such a case, the language of his actions is much more powerful than the literal meaning of his words. I am not saying that the law should be the only thing preached: ministers can preach other things too. The gospel should be preached as well as the law; and the law should be preached to make way for the gospel, and so that it can be preached more effectively. The primary job of ministers is to preach the gospel: "Christ is the end of the law for righteousness" (Rom 10:4). Therefore, a minister would be making a mistake if he were to focus so much on the terrors of the law that he forgets about his Lord and fails to preach the gospel. Nevertheless, the law should be emphasized; and the preaching of the gospel is likely to be fruitless without it.

And certainly such earnestness and affection in speaking is admirable, as befits the gravity and importance of the topic. Not that there isn't such a thing as an inappropriate boisterousness in a preacher, something that goes beyond what is natural for the subject, and where the content and delivery do not match. Some people say it is unreasonable to scare people into heaven; however, I think it is reasonable to try to scare people away from hell. They are standing on the edge and about to fall in, yet they are oblivious to the danger. Isn't it reasonable to frighten someone out of a burning house? The word 'frighten' is usually used to describe sudden, unfounded fear or baseless shock. But it is clear that a justified fear, for which there is good cause, should not be condemned under any such description.

Chapter 3: Evidence from Scripture of the Work of the Holy Spirit

What are the distinguishing signs that a work is from the Spirit of God?

Having demonstrated, in some cases, what are not indications that a work done among a people is not a work of the Spirit of God, I will now move on, as proposed, to positively show what are the sure, distinguishing scriptural signs and marks of a work of the Spirit of God. With these, we can assess any operation that we find in ourselves or that we see among a people without fear of being misguided. As I said before, I will limit myself to the marks given to us by the apostle in the chapter containing my text (1 John 4), where this matter is particularly addressed and more clearly and fully than anywhere else in the Bible. As I discuss these marks, I will follow the order in which I find them in the chapter.

1. It increases their admiration and respect for Jesus Christ.

When an operation increases people's respect for Jesus, who was born of the Virgin and crucified outside the gates of Jerusalem, and it seems to confirm and strengthen their belief in the truth of the gospel about him being the Son of God and the Savior of mankind, it is a sure sign that it is from the Spirit of God. The apostle gives us this sign in 1 John 4:2-3: "By this you can know the Spirit of God: every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God."

This implies a confession not only that there was such a person who appeared in Palestine, and did and suffered those things that are recorded about him, but that he was Christ, i.e. the Son of God, anointed to be Lord and Savior, as the name Jesus Christ implies. That this much is implied in the apostle's meaning is confirmed by the 15th verse, where the apostle is still on the same subject of signs of the true Spirit; "Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwells in him, and he in God." It is to be noted that the word "confess" as it is often used in the New Testament, signifies more than just acknowledging. It implies affirming and confirming something through testimony, and declaring it with a show of respect and affection. This is seen in Matthew 10:32: "Whoever therefore confesses me before men, him will I confess also before my Father who is in heaven." Romans 15:9: "I will confess to you among the Gentiles, and sing unto your name." And Philippians 2:11: "That every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." This is the force of the expression as the apostle John uses it in the cited place, which is further confirmed in the next chapter: "Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God; and everyone who loves Him who begot, also loves him who is begotten of Him." (1 John 5:1) This is echoed in the apostle Paul's parallel passage, where the same rule is given to distinguish the true Spirit from all counterfeits: "Therefore I make known to you that no one speaking by the Spirit of God calls Jesus accursed (or will show an ill or low esteem of Him); and no one can say Jesus is Lord, except by the Holy Ghost." (1 Corinthians 12:3).

If we can see that the spirit at work among a people is leading them to Christ and helping them to believe in the history of Jesus as the Son of God, sent to save sinners, and that he is the only Savior they need, and that it is causing them to have higher and more honorable thoughts of Him and inclining their affections towards Him, then it is a sure sign that it is the true and right Spirit. We may not be able to determine if this conviction and affection is enough to be saving faith, but it is a good sign.

The words of the apostle are quite remarkable. The Spirit gives testimony to the person of Jesus, who appeared in the flesh, and not to any other Christ or any mystical, fantastical Christ such as "the light within". The spirit of the Quakers exalts this while diminishing their esteem and dependence on an outward Christ or Jesus as he came in the flesh, leading them away from Him. However, the spirit that gives testimony for Jesus and leads to Him can be none other than the Spirit of God.

The devil has an intense and unyielding animosity towards Christ, especially in his role as the savior of mankind. The devil loathes the story and teachings of Christ's redemption; he would never encourage people to have more respect for Him, nor to take His instructions and commands more seriously. The Spirit that leads people to the seed of the woman is not the spirit of the serpent, which has such an irreconcilable hatred for Him. He who increases people's admiration for the magnificent Michael, the prince of angels, is not the spirit of the dragon that is at war with him.

2. It works against the desires of Satan by discouraging sin.

When the spirit that is at work goes against the interests of Satan's kingdom, which is all about promoting and establishing sin and indulging in worldly desires, this is a sure sign that it is a genuine, not a false spirit. We can see this in the fourth and fifth verses: "You are from God, little children, and have conquered them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. They are from the world, so they speak from the world's perspective, and the world listens to them." (1 John 4:4-5) Here we have a clear contrast: it is obvious that the apostle is still comparing those who are influenced by the two different kinds of spirits, the true and the false, and showing the difference. The one is from God and overcomes the spirit of the world; the other is from the world and speaks and savors the things of the world. Here the spirit of the devil is referred to as "the one who is in the world." Christ said, "My kingdom is not of this world." (John 18:36) But it is different with Satan's kingdom; he is "the god of this world." (2 Corinthians 4:4) We can understand what the apostle means by the world, or "the things that are of the world," from his own words in the second chapter of this epistle, verses fifteen and sixteen: "Do not love the world or the things that are in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world - the desires of the flesh, the desires of the eyes, and the pride of life - is not from the Father, but is from the world." (1 John 2:15-16) So, by the world, the apostle is clearly referring to everything that has to do with the interests of sin, and it includes all the corruptions and desires of people, and all the activities and objects by which they are gratified.

We can confidently conclude from what the apostle said that the spirit that is present among a people will reduce their admiration for worldly pleasures, profits, and honors, and take away their desire to pursue them. Instead, it will encourage them to be deeply concerned about their future and the eternal joy that the gospel promises. It will lead them to earnestly seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness (Matthew 6:33). Furthermore, this spirit will convince them of the severity of sin, the guilt it brings, and the suffering it causes. This must be the Spirit of God.

It is not reasonable to think that Satan would encourage people to recognize their sins and stir up their conscience. Doing so would not help him achieve his goals. Instead, it is in his best interest to keep people's conscience quiet and asleep. If the conscience is active and alert in someone's soul, it would interfere with the devil's plans and cause him trouble. Would the devil, when he is trying to lead people into sin, begin by making them aware of the seriousness of sin and the need to be saved from it? Would he make them more cautious and vigilant in recognizing what is sinful and avoiding it in the future? What kind of sense does it make to suggest that the Spirit that works in this way is the spirit of the devil?

Some may argue that the devil can use an awakened conscience to deceive people into thinking they have experienced a saving work of the Spirit of God, while they are still in the gall of bitterness. However, it is actually the opposite: the more aware a person's conscience is, the less likely they are to be deceived. A conscience that is sensitive to the severity of sin and the magnitude of their own guilt is unlikely to be satisfied with anything but a genuine healing. Someone who has been deeply disturbed by their own peril and wretchedness is not easily fooled into believing they are safe without any solid evidence. Awakening the conscience and making it aware of the wickedness of sin does not promote sin, but instead creates an opportunity for sin and Satan to be eliminated.

Therefore, this is a strong argument that the Spirit that works in this way cannot be the spirit of the devil, since Christ Himself pointed out that Satan would not cast out Satan in Matthew 12:25-26. The Pharisees thought that the Spirit by which He worked was the spirit of the devil. But if we see people becoming aware of the severity of sin, of God's displeasure towards it, and of their own wretchedness due to sin, and if they are earnestly seeking salvation and help from God, using the means He has provided, then we can be sure it is from the Spirit of God, regardless of the physical effects it has on them - even if it causes them to cry out, shriek, faint, or even go into convulsions or move their blood and spirits in any other way.

The power of God's Spirit is even more clearly seen when people turn away from the world, detach themselves from the things they desire, and stop chasing worldly pleasures. This is because they recognize the greatness of divine things and have a deep longing for the spiritual joys of another world, which are promised in the gospel.

3. It encourages people to have a greater appreciation for the Holy Scriptures.

The Spirit that leads people to have a greater respect for the Holy Scriptures and strengthens their faith in their truth and divinity is certainly the Spirit of God. The Apostle gives us this rule in 1 John 4:6: “We are from God; whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood.” We are from God; that is, the Apostles were sent by God and given the task of teaching the world and delivering the doctrines and instructions that should be their guide. This argument applies to all who are from God, meaning all those whom God has appointed and inspired to give His Church its rule of faith and practice - all the prophets and Apostles whose teachings God has made the foundation of His Church (Ephesians 2:20). The Devil would never try to make people have respect for the divine word that God has given as the great and permanent rule for the direction of His Church in all religious matters and all matters concerning their souls in all ages. A spirit of deception will not lead people to seek guidance from God. “To the law and to the testimony” is never the cry of those evil spirits that have no light in them; it is God’s own direction to expose their deceptions.

“And when they say to you, ‘Seek those who have familiar spirits, and wizards who peep and mutter,’ shouldn’t a people seek their God? Should the living seek the dead? To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” (Isa 8:19-20)

The devil does not say the same thing as Abraham did: “They have Moses and the prophets, let them listen to them.” (Luke 16:29) Nor does he say the same thing as the voice from heaven said about Christ, “Listen to him” (Luke 9:35). Would the spirit of error, in an attempt to deceive people, encourage them to have a high regard for the infallible rule and be very familiar with it? Would the prince of darkness, in order to further his kingdom of darkness, lead people to the sun? The devil has always had a deep-seated hatred for the holy book, the Bible. He has done everything in his power to extinguish its light and draw people away from it. He knows that it is this light that will eventually bring down his kingdom of darkness. For many years, he has seen its power to thwart his plans and frustrate his schemes; it is his constant nemesis. It is the main weapon that Michael uses in his war against him; it is the sword of the Spirit that pierces him and conquers him. It is that great and strong sword that is mentioned in Revelation 19:15, which proceeds from the mouth of the one who sat on the horse, and with which he strikes his enemies. Every verse is like a dart that torments the old serpent. He has felt its sting countless times. Therefore, he is against the Bible and hates every word in it. We can be sure that he will never try to raise someone’s esteem or affection for it. We can see that it is common among enthusiasts to devalue this written rule and set up the “light within” or some other rule above it.

4. It is a spirit of truth, which convicts them of the gospel truth.

Another way to judge spirits is to look at the terms used to describe the opposing spirits in the last line of the sixth verse: "The spirit of truth, and the spirit of error." These words show the two opposite characters, first of the Spirit of God, and then of other spirits that imitate His actions. Therefore, if by observing the way a spirit works among a group of people, we see that it works as a spirit of truth, leading people to truth and convincing them of what is true, then we can safely conclude that it is a good and true spirit. For example, if we notice that the spirit at work is making people more aware than they used to be, that there is a God who is powerful and hates sin; that life is short and unpredictable; that there is another world; that we have immortal souls and will be held accountable to God; that we are naturally and actively sinful; that we are powerless to help ourselves; and that this spirit confirms other truths that are in line with sound doctrine - then the spirit that works in this way is a spirit of truth. It reveals reality as it is. It brings people to the light. Whatever makes truth known is light, as the apostle Paul said: “For everything that is exposed and revealed by the light becomes visible, for it is light that makes everything visible.” (Ephesians 5:13) Therefore, we can conclude that it is not a spirit of darkness that is revealing and making truth known.

Christ tells us that Satan is a liar and the father of lies, and his kingdom is a kingdom of darkness. It is only supported and promoted by darkness and falsehood. Satan has all his power of control through darkness. Therefore, we read of the power of darkness in Luke 22:53 and Colossians 1:13. Devils are referred to as "the rulers of the darkness of this world" (Ephesians 6:12). Whatever brings us out of darkness and into the light, reveals the truth to us and does us a kindness. If I am made aware of the truth, I should immediately thank God for it without questioning how I got it.

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