Of the Assurance of Grace and Salvation.
Chapter 18, Paragraph 4.
“True Believers may have the assurance of their Salvation divers ways shaken, diminished, and intermitted; as by negligence in preserving of it, by falling into some special Sin, which woundeth the Conscience and grieveth the Spirit; by some sudden or vehement temptation,…”
Canticles (Song of Solomon) 5:2,3,6
Psalm 116:11; 77:7,8, 31:22
Assurance of salvation is not something that, once obtained, remains vibrant throughout the course of the believer’s life. Certain circumstances can cause it to wane. Three such circumstances are: neglecting its preservation, falling into a especially conscience-pricking sin, and by an extremely passionate temptation. At such times assurance is naturally frail.
How does a believer neglect the preservation of her assurance? By neglecting to make her calling and election sure. Ignore the means of grace provided, refuse to avail yourself of what God has given to enlarge your heart in joy and thankfulness to Him, and confidence in your salvation will wane.
Certain sins cause great anguish of the conscience. While all sin is horrible, there are sins that are especially heartbreaking. They also grieve the Spirit, the same Spirit that works repentance in us. When a conscience is crushed and the Spirit grieved, assurance of salvation is low.
Temptation is not sin. However, it can come upon you so strongly and suddenly that any confidence carried is knocked out of you. This is not temptation that we face daily, but as Sam Waldron writes in his commentary on the Confession,
…the authors of the Confession apparently intend us to think here…of an overwhelming trial or solicitation to evil which for a time so shakes the believer’s emotional frame that he questions his assurance.
These are all ways a believer can diminish her assurance. Thankfully, that assurance, although brought low, will not be quenched. May we pray for strength to persevere no matter the state of our assurance.
Questions to Consider
- What should a Christian do when her assurance is low?