The first distinguishing sign serves as both a mark of God’s gracious and saving work in a believer and the basis of the remaining eleven signs. The evidence of God’s saving work flows from the stamp of God’s holiness and happiness on the soul by the Holy Spirit taking up permanent residence and imparting His holy nature to us.
Spiritual people are “sanctified by the Spirit of God,” as distinguished from the “unsanctified” or “natural” man without saving grace and the indwelling Holy Spirit.  “Mockers” are “sensual, having not the Spirit” (Jude 19). “But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his” (Romans 8:9).
The Holy Spirit dwells in believers “as a principle of new nature, or as a divine supernatural spring of life and action.”  “As a seed or spring of life, [He] exerts and communicates Himself, in this His sweet and divine nature, making the soul a partaker of God’s beauty and Christ’s joy.” His life flows in us like “rivers of living water” (John 7:38-39), given to “abide” in us forever (John 14:16). By the indwelling Spirit we have fellowship with the Father and the Son. 
Believers partake of the “divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4), of God’s fullness (John 1:16; Ephesians 3:17-19), of His “spiritual beauty and happiness” and goodness.  We have been born of the Spirit (John 3:6) and are spiritually alive as Christ lives within us (Galatians 2:20, Romans 8:10). God, Himself, dwells in us (John 17: 21, 26; 1 John 4:12, 15, 16), and we are His temple (2 Corinthians 6:16).
Spiritual and natural affections both delight in the object of their love, but differ in significant ways and love different and opposing things.  The natural man can no more fathom and appreciate the object of the saint’s gracious affections “than a man without the sense of taste can conceive of the sweet taste of honey, or a man without the sense of hearing can conceive of the melody of a tune, or a man born blind can have a notion of the beauty of a rainbow.” 
Thus, “The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Corinthians 2:14). Believers have a new understanding, a new direction and love, and a new principle moving their will and affections,  while the unbeliever’s religious affections come from either the Holy Spirit’s common work on everyone, satanic deception, or the depravity of the fallen heart.
Moreover, gracious affections can be faked and people deceived to experience new, surprising, and elevated religious affections unrelated to the new spiritual sense of believers. A poor man convinced he has been made a king might experience new and unfamiliar affections, but they would still be natural. 
Many during the Awakening imagined or had visions of biblical and spiritual things.
They have had lively ideas of some external shape, and beautiful form of countenance; and this they call spiritually seeing Christ. Some have had impressed upon them ideas of a great outward light; and this they call a spiritual discovery of God’s or Christ’s glory. Some have had ideas of Christ’s hanging on the cross, and His blood running from His wounds; and this they call a spiritual sight of Christ crucified, and the way of salvation by His blood. Some have seen Him with his arms open ready to embrace them; and this they call a discovery of the sufficiency of Christ’s grace and love. Some have had lively ideas of heaven, and of Christ on His throne there, and shining ranks of saints and angels; and this they call seeing heaven opened to them. 
Some called visions that came with Scripture or Christ “speaking comfortable words to them” the “inward call of Christ, hearing the voice of Christ spiritually in their hearts, having the witness of the Spirit, and the inward testimony of the love of Christ, etc.” 
But, as unbelievers can easily imagine a tree, animal, or block of wood, so they can imagine an image of Christ, a cross, blood, or any such thing. If they can imagine words spoken in their mind, they can imagine comforting words of Scripture. And the idea of “an external brightness and glory of God is no better than the idea the wicked congregation in the wilderness had of the external glory of the Lord at Mount Sinai, when they saw it with their bodily eyes.” If seeing Christ’s life and crucifixion in person does not save, as with the crowd in the Praetorium before Pilate or lining the road to Golgotha, neither will visions of Christ in the head. Affections raised by such things are common, natural, and no better than those moved by the sight of icons. 
Moreover, the devil can plant ideas, as “in the dreams and visions of the false prophets of old, who were under the influence of lying spirits,” while the common work of the Holy Spirit can bring words to mind without bringing a new nature, such as when He used the wicked prophet Balaam (2 Peter 2:15, Jude 11).  And that impressions come with Scripture in a supernatural way does not make the impressions or resulting affections spiritual. Many were deeply moved by Scripture texts they thought came to them from God, such as “Fear not, it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom,” because they appealed to self-love and appeared to come supernaturally, but not from a “sense of the holy and glorious nature of the kingdom of heaven and the spiritual glory of that God who gives it, and of His excellent grace to sinful men, in offering and giving them this kingdom of His own good pleasure.” 
Trust in experience and the seemingly supernatural way visions and Scripture texts came to mind, apart from saving faith, deceived many during the Awakening. When comforting promises followed fear of God’s judgment, they saw this as conversion, trusting the experience and way they came as “the foundation of their faith, and hope, and comfort.” But the Holy Spirit gives no assurance of salvation without saving faith. “Whatever spirit applies the promises of the covenant to a person who has not first believed, as being already his, must be a lying spirit, and that faith which is first built on such an application of promises is built upon a lie.”  God’s eternal blessings and comfort come only by faith in Christ, by a new view, understanding, and love of His infinite excellence, sufficiency, grace, and promises. 
As the king’s seal bears His image and communicates His special favor and privilege to others, according to his royal authority, so does the seal of the Spirit.  And unlike visions or revelations of facts to the mind, the seal of the Spirit is unknown to unbelievers. “The seal of the great King of heaven and earth enstamped on the heart is something high and holy in its own nature, some excellent communication from the infinite fountain of divine beauty and glory.” 
The seal constitutes the down payment of new life, a pledge of payment in full, not in “extraordinary gifts,” but in the “beginning of glory” and “eternal life in the soul.” The seal forms “His vital indwelling in the heart, exerting and communicating Himself there in His own proper, holy, or divine nature…the sum total of the inheritance that Christ purchased for the elect.”  By Him “saints have all their light, life, holiness, beauty, and joy in heaven,” as well as “all light, life, holiness, beauty and comfort on earth; but only communicated in less measure.” 
Some professing believers misinterpreted the “witness of the Spirit” as a voice or suggestion to the mind that God favors them, establishing false assurance and a worthless basis for salvation. Witness, however, means evidence, as in Christ’s works giving witness to Him as the Messiah and that God the Father sent Him (John 10:25, 5:36), miracles giving witness to God’s Word (Hebrews 2:4, Acts 14:3), and rains and fruitful seasons giving witness to God’s goodness (Acts 14:17). 
Thus, the seal of the Spirit, as God’s holy image stamped on the soul, imparting His nature and crying to God as Abba or Daddy—gives witness or evidence that we are His child. 
For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God (Romans 8:14-16).
The Spirit witnesses by “dwelling in us, and leading us, as a spirit of adoption, or spirit of a child, disposing us to behave towards God as to a father…. And what is that but the spirit of love?”  “The spirit of bondage works by fear for the slave fears the rod: but love cries, Abba Father; it disposes us to go to God, and behave ourselves towards God as children; and it gives us clear evidence of our union to God as His children, and so casts out fear.”  Moreover, “Love, the bond of union, is seen intuitively: the saint sees and feels plainly the union between his soul and God; it is so strong and lively that he cannot doubt of it. And hence he is assured that he is a child.” 
But, to reduce this high and holy gift to a voice or suggestion in the mind—something unbelievers can experience—denigrates it, promotes trust in verbal revelation apart from Scripture, and leads people to trust experience for assurance of salvation apart from saving faith in Christ.
The first distinguishing sign of a true work of God is the stamp of God’s holiness, happiness, and love in the soul by the permanent indwelling of the Holy Spirit, animating the will and moving the affections to childlike love of the beauty and excellence of God as revealed in Scripture—the fruit of saving faith in Christ. Satan and deceived hearts may outwardly imitate this new life in Christ, but can never duplicate or experience the lofty and holy image of God’s holiness, happiness, and love in the soul. The nature of this divine work will be examined further as we consider sign two, the excellence of God and divine things as the ground of gracious affections.
 BT, 124-5; Yale, 197-8.
 BT, 127; Yale, 200.
 BT, 129; Yale, 201.
 BT, 130-1; Yale, 203.
 BT, 136; Yale, 208-9.
 BT, 135; Yale, 207-8.
 BT, 134; Yale, 206.
 BT, 137; Yale, 209-10.
 BT, 139; Yale, 211-2.
 BT, 140; Yale, 212.
 BT, 141-2; Yale, 213-4.
 BT, 143-4; Yale, 215-6.
 BT, 148-9; Yale, 221.
 BT, 149-50; Yale, 221-2.
 BT, 153; Yale, 225.
 BT, 158-9; Yale, 230-1.
 BT, 159; Yale, 231.
 BT, 161-2; Yale, 236.
 BT, 162; Yale, 236-7.
 BT, 159; Yale, 231.
 BT, 160; Yale, 232.
 BT, 163; Yale, 237.
 BT, 163-4; Yale, 238.
 BT, 164; Yale, 239.
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