THOMAS COKE'S ARGUMENTS FOR THE NECESSITY OF THE DIRECT WITNESS OF THE SPIRIT
Date Posted Jan. 17, 2009
  

Thomas Coke declared, "Immediately when justification takes place... God sends forth the Spirit of His Son into the pardoned heart as the Spirit of adoption; and the evidence which this Spirit brings to our hearts that we are accepted through the Beloved is the only direct witness which we know, or for which we contend" [p. 324].

Coke argued that if a man can be in the favor of God and not know it, the following errors will arise. The absence of the direct witness of the Spirit

  • leads to legalism
  • in time stifles any conviction
  • invalidates the testimony of conscience since God's Spirit bears witness with our spirit
  • leads to a false peace while he walks in darkness
  • leads to preposterous ideas of faith without evidence
  • conceals the motives from which our actions flow
  • raises the question of why a person could not also be a penitent without knowing it
  • makes reformation and regeneration the same
  • leaves perfect love with no witness
  • brands the inward witness as fanaticism

If we assume the direct witness of the Spirit is not essential to salvation and if weak and ignorant Christians do not have the direct witness

  • there will be little regard for seeking such nonessentials since they are born again based on the sincerity of their repentance
  • a conviction of unworthiness will also keep them from seeking it
  • it leaves us with no criteria by which to distinguish faith from presumption
  • it will banish experiential religion
  • it will tend to confirm backsliders in their state of apostasy
  • it subjects lives to a state of perpetual warfare
  • skepticism frequently results
  • it sets a bad example for others
  • it tends to bewilder understanding

If we assume the direct witness of the Spirit is not essential to salvation, it establishes a false foundation for reasoning

  • because it teaches me to conclude that I am in the favor of God although I do not know that I am
  • because faith may be possessed without discerned, making the knowledge of a fact precede the perception of it. Thus it directs me to believe the testimony of an evidence before I am satisfied of the existence of the evidence
  • because it makes a testimony of faith necessary to our discernment of it
  • because it blends repentance with regeneration. Thus I am saved because I have repented

Edited from A series of Letters addressed to the Methodist Connection, explaining the important doctrines of Justification by Faith, and the direct witness of the Spirit, as taught by the preachers of that body, and vindicating these doctrines from the misrepresentations and erroneous conclusion of the Rev. Melville Horne, minister of Christ Church, Macclesfield, in five letters, written by that gentleman (London: the author, 1810), pp. 274-295.


  

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