Изображения страниц

are the branches. As the sap comes from the earth into the root and stock, and from thence is diffured into the branches; so by Chrift, as Mediator, divinc life is conveyed from the fountain unto there who are united to him by faith, John vi 57 As the living Father hath fent me, and I live by the Father : fo he that eateth me, even he shall live by me. Now Christ is Mediatur, not as God only, as fone have alerted : nor yet as man only, as the Papifts gene. rally hold: but he is Mediator as God-man, Acts xx. 28 The church of God, which he bath purchased with his blood. Heb ix 14. Chrift, who, through the eternal Spirit, offered himself without spot to Cod. The divine and human natures have'their distinct actings, yet a joint operation in this, discharging the office of a Mediator. This is illustrated by the similitude of a fiery sword, which at once cuts and burns : cutting it burneth, and burniug it cucceth; che Neel cuts, and the fire burns. Whercfore Christ, God-man, is the Itock, whereof believers are the branches; and they are united to whole Christ. They are united to him in his human nature, as bo. ing mombers of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones, Eph. v. 30. and they are united to him in his divine nature; for so the Apostle fpeaks of this union, Col.i. 27. Cbrift, in you, the hope of glory. And by him they are united to the Father, and to the Holy Ghost, 1 John iv.'15. Whosoever sball confess that Jefus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God. Faith, the bond of (bis union, receives whole Chrift, God-man: and so upites us to him as such. · Behold here, I believers, your bigb privilege. Ye were once. branches of a degenerate stock, even as others: but years, by grace, become branches of the true Vine, John xv. I. Ye are cut out of a dead and killing stock; and ingrafted in the last Adam,' who was made a quickning Spirit, 1 Cor. xv. 45. Your loss by the first Adam is made up, with great advantage, by your union with the second. Adam, at his belt estate, was but a shrub, in coinparison with Christ the tree of life. He was but a servant, Christ is the Son, the Heir, and Lord of all things, the Lord from heaven. It cannot be denied, that grace was shown in the first covenant: but it is as far exceeded by the grace of the second covenant, as the twilight' is, by the light of the mid-day. i ;

III. What branches are taken out of the natural rock, and grafted into this Vine? And These are the elect, and none other. They, and they only, are grafted into Christ; and consequently none but they are cut off from the killing stock. for them alone he interceeds, that they may be one in him, and his father, John xvii. 9, 23. Faith, the bond of this union, is given to none else: it is the faith of God's elect, Tit. i. r. The Lord passed by many branches growing on the natural stock, and cuts off only here one, and there one, and grafts them into the true Vine, according as frec love liath determined. Oft does he pitch upon the most unlikely branch, leaving the top-boughs ; ‘paling by the mighty, and the


noble, and calling the weak, base, and despised, 1 Cor i. 26,27. Yes, ke often leaves the fair and smooth, and takes the rugged and knotty, and such were some of you, but ye are wajed, &c. 1 Cor. vi 11. If ye enquire, why so? We find no other reason but because they were chosen in him, Eph.i.4. Predestinated to the adoption of children, hy Jesus Christ, ver. 5. Thus are chey gathered cogether in Christ: while the rest are left growing on their natural stock, to be aftera' wards bound up in bundles for the fire. Wherefore, to whomsoever the gospel may come in vain, it will have a blest effect on God's elect, Acts xiii. 48. As many as were ordained to eternal life, believed! Where the Lord has much people, the gospel will have much success, tooner or latcerSuch as are to be saved, will be added to the mystical body of Christ.

[ocr errors]

How the branches are taken out of the natural Stock, and ingrafted

into the supernatural Stock. IV. I am, to fhew how the branches are cut off from the natural stock, the first Adam, and grafted into the true Vine, che Lord Jesus Christ. Thanks co the husbandman, not to the branch, thae. it is cut off from its natural stock, and ingrafted into a new one. The finner, in his coming off from the first stock, is paffive; and neither can nor will come off from it of his own accord; buc clings to it, till almighty power make him to fall off, John vi. 44. No man can come unto me, except the Father which hath fent me, draw bim. And chap. v. 40. Ye will not come to me, that ye might have life. The ingrafted branches are God's husbandry, i Cor. iii. The plunting of the Lord, Ifa.lxi. 3. The ordinary means he makes use of in this work, is the ministry of the word, I Cor. iii 9 We are labourers together with God. But the efficacy thereof is wholly from him, whatever the minister's part or piecy be, ver. 7. Neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watersth: but God that givetle the increase. The Apostle preached to the Jews, yet the body of that people remained in infidelity, Rom. x. 16. Who hath believed our report? Yea, Christ himself, who spoke as never man spoke, saith concerning the success of his own ministry, I have laboured in vain, I have spent my strength for nought, Ila. xlix. The branches may be hacked by the preaching of the word: but the stroke will never go through, till it be carried home on them, by an omnipo

rent arm. However God's ordinary way is, by the foolifonefs of 1. preaching to save them that believe, i Cor. i. 21.

The cutting off of the branch from the natural stock, is performed by the prunning knife of the law, in the hand of the Spirit of God, Gal. ii. 19. For 1, through the law, am dead to the law. It is by the bond of the covenant of works, as I said before, that we are knit to our natural stock: and therefore, as a wife, unwilling to be put away, pleads and hangs by the marriage tie; lo do men by the

covenant of works. They hold by it, like the man who held the fhip with his hands; and when one hand was cut off, held it with the other; and when both were cut off, held it with his teeth. This will appear from a distiract view of the Lord's work on men, in bring. ing them off from the old stock; which I now offer in these following particulars.

First, When the Spirit of the Lord comes to deal with a person, to bring him to Christ; he finds him in Laodicea's cafe, in a found sleep of security, dreaming of heaven, and the favour of God, thofull of sin against the holy One of Ifrael. Rev. iii. 17. Thou knoweft nos that thou art

wreiched, and miserable, and poor, and bind, and naked. And therefore - he darts in some beams of light into the dark foul; and lets the man

see he is a lot man, if he titrn not over a new leaf, and betake himself to a new course of life. Thus by the Spirit of the Lord, acting as a Jpirit of bondage, there is a criminal court erected in the man's breaft; where he is arraigned, accused, and condemned for breaking the law of God, convinced of lin and judgment, John xvi. 8. And now he can no longer sleep securely in his former course of life. This is the first struke the branch gets, in order to cutting oif. ii a

Secondly, Hereupon the man forsakes his for:ner profane courses ; his lying, swearing, Sabbath-breaking, stealing, and such like practices, though they be dear to him as right eyes, he will rather quit them, that ruin his soul. The ship is like to fink, and therefore he throwech his goods over-board, that he himself may not perish. And now he begins to bless himself in his heart, and look joyfully on his evidences for heaven; thinking himself a better fervant to God than many others, Luke xviii. II. God!, I thank the I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, &c. But he soon gets another stroke with the ax of the law, sewing him that it is only he that doth what is written in the law, who can be saved by it; and that his negative holiness is too scanty a cover from the itorm of God's wrath. And thes, although his fins of commission only were heavy on him before: his fins of omiffion now crowd into his thoughts, attended with a train of law-curses and' vengeance. And each of the ten commands discharges thunder-claps of wrath against him, for his omitting re. quired duties,

Thirdiy, Upon this he turns to a positively holy course of life. He not only is not profane, but he perforins religious duries: he prays, seeks the knowledge of the principles of religion, strictly observes the Lord's day, and, like Herod, does many things, and hears lermonsi glody. In one word, there is a great conformity in his outward conversation, to the letter of both tables of the law. And now there is a mighty change upon the man, that his neighbours cannot miss to take notice of. Hence he is cheerfully admitted by the godly into their society, as a praying person, and can confer wich thein about religious matters, yea, and about foul-exercise, which some are not acquainted with. And their good opinion of him confirms his good

[ocr errors]

opinion of himself. This step in religion is fatal to many, who never get beyond it. But here the Lord reacheth the elect-branch a farther Itroke. Conscience flies in the man's face, for Tomé wrong steps in his conversation: the neglect of some duty, or commission of fome fin, which is a blot in his conversation: and then the flaming sword of the law appears again over his head :' and the curfe rings in his ears, for curfed is he that continueth not in all things written in the laws

to do them, Gal. iii. 10. : Fourthly, On this account he is obliged to seek another salve for

his fore. He goes to God, confesseth his fin; seeks the pardon of it, promising to watch against it for the time to come; and to finds

case, and thinks he may very well take it, seeing the scripture faith, "If we confefs our fins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our fins,

John i.9. not considering that he grasps at a privilege, which is theirs only who are ingrafted into Christ, and under the covenant of grace; and which the branches yet growing on the old stock cannot plead. And here sonetimes there are formal and exprefs vows made against such and such fins, and binding to fuch and such duties. Thus, many go on all their days; knowing no other religion but to do duties, and to corifess, and pray for pardon of that wherein they fail ; pro. mising themselves eternal inappiness, though they are utter strangers to Christ. Here mány elect ones have been cast down wounded, and many reprobates have been Nain; while the wounds of neither of them have been deep enough, to cut them off from their natural stock. But the Spirit of the Lord gives yet a deeper stroke to the branch which is to be cut off ; Thewing him, that, as yet, he is but an out.fide faint ; and discovering to him the filthy lusts lodged in his heart, which he took no notice of before, Rom vii. 9. When the commandment came, sin revived, and I died. Then he sees his heart a dung-hill of hellish lufts; filled with covetousness, pride, malice, filthiness, and the like. Now, as soon as the door of the chambers of his imagery is thus opened to him, and he sees what they do there in the dark, his out-fide religion is blown up as insufficient; and he learnis a new lesson in religion ;

nanely, that he is not a few which is one outwardly, Rom. ii. 28. : Fifthly, Upon this he goes further, even to in-side religion ; sets

to work more vigorously than ever, mourns over the evils of his heart, and strives to bear down the weeds he finds growing in that neglected garden. He labours to curb his pride and passion; and to banish fpeculative impurities ; prays more fervently, hears attentively, and {trives to get his heart affected in every religious duty he performs; and thus he comes to think trimself not only an outside, but an inside Christian. Wonder not ate this : for there is nothing in it beyond the power of nature, or what oye may attain to under a vigorous influence of the covenant of works. Therefore another yer deeper stroke is reached. The law chargeth-home on the man's conscience; thal he was a transgreffor from the womb ; that he caide into che world a guilty creature: and that, in the time of his ignorance, and

[ocr errors]




even since his eyes were opened, he has been guilty of many actual sins, either altogether overlooked by him, or not fufficiently mourned over: (For spiritual sores, not healed by the blood of Christ, but skinned over fome other way, are easily ruffled, and as soon break out again.) And therefore the law takes him by the throat, saying, Pay what thou owest. · Sixthly, Then the finner says in his heart, Have patience with me, and I wi!l pay thee all: and so falls to work to pacify an offended God, and to atone for these sins. He renews his repentance, fuch as it is ; bears patiently the afflictions laid upon him ; yea, he afflicts

himfelf, denies himself the use of his lawful comforts, fighs deeply, , mourns bitterly, cries with tears for a pardon, till he hath wrought up

his heart to a conceit of having obtained it ; having thus done penánce for what is past, and resolving to be a good servant to God, and to hold on in outward and inward obedience, for the time to come. But the stroke must go nearer the heart yet, ere the branch fall off. The Lord discovers to him, in the glass of the law, how he sinneth in all he does, even when he does the best he can; and therefore the dreadful sound returns to his ears, Gal. iii. 10. Curfed is every one that continueth not in all things, &c. When ye fafted and mourned, faith the Lord, Did ye at all fast unto me, even to me? Will muddy water make clean clothes? Will you satisfy for one sin with another? Did not your thoughts wander in such a duty? Were not your affec tions flat in another? Did not your heart give a whorish look to fuch an idol? And did it not rise in a fit of impatience under such an affliction? Should I accept this of your hands? Curfed be the deceiver, which sacrificeth to the Lord a corrupt thing, Mal. i. 13, 14. And thus he becomes so far broke off, that he sees he is not able to satisfy the demands of the law.

Seventhly, Hence, like a broken man, who finds he is not able to pay all his debts, he goes about to compound with his creditor. And being in pursuit of eafe and comfort, he does what he can to fulfil the law; and wherein he fails, he looks that God will accept the will for the deed. Thus doing his duty, and having a will to do better, he. cheats himself in a persuasion of the goodness of his state; and hereby thousands are ruined But the elect get another stroke, which looseth their hold in this case. The doctrine of the law is born in on their consciences; demonstrating to them, that exact and perfect obedience is required by it, under pain of the curse; and that it is doing, and not wishing to do, which will avail. Wishing to do better will not answer the law's demands: and therefore the curse sounds again, Cursed is every one that continueth not-to do them; that is, actually tu do them. In vain is wishing then. :

Eighthly, Being broken off from hopes of compounding with the law, he falls a-borrowing. He sees that all he can do to obey the law, and all his desires to be, and to do better, will not save his soul : tlerefore lie goes to Christ, intreating, that his righteousness may'.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »