Assurance Of Salvation: The Insights Of Anthony Burgess -- By: Joel R. Beeke

Journal: Puritan Reformed Journal
Volume: PRJ 06:2 (Jul 2014)
Article: Assurance Of Salvation: The Insights Of Anthony Burgess
Author: Joel R. Beeke


Assurance Of Salvation: The Insights Of Anthony Burgess

Joel R. Beeke

And

Paul Smalley

Anthony Burgess (d. 1664) served as a fellow (instructor) at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, before becoming the vicar at Sutton Coldfield, Warwickshire, in 1635. During the Civil War, he took refuge in Coventry and then was summoned to serve in the Westminster Assembly. After the war, in 1647, he returned to Sutton Coldfield where he served until being expelled in 1662 by the Act of Uniformity. A gifted and godly scholar, he wrote major treatises on Christ’s prayer in John 17, 1 original sin, justification by faith alone, and the goodness and functions of the law of God.2 Burgess’s books were not reprinted in the nineteenth century; thus he is not as well known today as other Puritans such as John Owen. The following article is adapted from his masterpiece on assurance and conversion, Spiritual Refining.3

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Paul commands us, “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?” (2 Cor. 13:5).

It is a responsibility of great importance for the people of God to be assured that there is a true and saving work of grace in them, so as

to distinguish them from hypocrites. There are certain signs of grace by which a man may discern what he is.

This involves a practical and experiential knowledge, which is much more than mere head knowledge. There is a great difference between hearing that honey is sweet, and tasting it. This is what the Bible often means by “knowing” something—experiential knowledge, not mere knowledge in the brain.

We need a practical, experiential, and well-tested knowledge of our spiritual condition. That is clear for several reasons. First, Christ our Savior pressed this point upon those who heard His sermons. Consider His parables on the sower and the soils (Matt. 13:1-9, 18-23), the ten virgins (Matt. 25:1-13), and the two builders (Matt. 7:24-27). Second, it is easy to make a mistake on this matter, given our tendency to deceive ourselves and have false confidence (Rom. 2:17). Third, it is very dangerous...

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