Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

is a stroke which goes to 'the heart : and, by it, lis hope of getting himself more fit to come to Christ, is cut off.

Lastly, Now the time is come, when the man betwixt hope and despair, resolves to go to Christ as he is: and therefore, like a dying man stretching himself, just before his breath goes out, he rallies the broken forces of his soul; tries to believe, and in some sort lays hold on Jesus Chrift. And now the branch hangs on the old stock, by one, single tack of a natural faith, produced by the natural vigour of one's own fpirig, under a most pressing necessity, Pfal lxxxviii. 34, 35.' " When he flew them, then they fought him, and they returned and «. enquired early after God. And they remembred that God was « ktheir rock, and the high God their Redeemer.” Hof. viii. 2. ' Ifrael shall cry unto me, My God, we know thee. But the Lord minding to perfect his work, fetches yet another stroke, whereby the branch falls quite off. The Spirit of 'God convincingly discovers to the finner, his utter inability to do any thing that is good : and so he dieth, Rom. vii. 9. That voice powerfully strikes through his soul, How can ye believe? John v. 44. Thou canst no more believe, than thou canst reach up thine hand to heaven, and bring Christ down from thence. And thus at length he fees, he can neither help himself by working, nor by believing: and having no more to hang by, on the old stock, he therefore falls off, And'while he is distressed thus, seeing himself like to be swept away with the flood of God's wrath; and yet unable so much as to stretch forth a hand to lay hold of a twig of the tree of life, growing on the banks of the river, he is taken up, and ingrafted into the true Vine, the Lord Jesus Christ giving him the fpirit of faith. '

By what has been said upon this head, I design not to rack or distress tender consciences; for, tho' there are but few such, at this day, yet, God forbid I should offend any of Christ's little ones. But, alas! a dead sleep is fallen upon this generation; they will not be awakened, let us go as near the quick as we will:' and therefore, I fear there is another sort of awakening abiding this serion-proof generation, which thall make the ears of them that hear it to tingle. However, I would not have this to be looked upon as the fovereign God's ftinted method of breaking off finners from the old stuck: but this I assert as a certain truth, that all who are in Christ, have been broken off from all these several confidences; and that they who were never broken off from them, are yet in their natural stock. Nevertheless, if the house be pulled down, and the old foundation razed : it is all a case, whether it was taken down stone by stone, or whether it was ! undermined, and all fell down together.

Now it is, that the branch is ingrafted in Jesus Christ. And, as the law, in the hand of the Spirit of God, was the instrument to cut off the branch from the natural ftock, so the gospel, in the hand of the same Spirit, is the instrument used for ingrafting it in the supernatural stock, 1 John i: 3, " That which we have seen and heard, declare

as we

princis time, "n the Meme all be draws

The routen Spirit o

" we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us; and truly

our fellowlip is with the Father; and with his Son Jesus Chrift." See Ifa. Ixi. 1, 2, 3. The gospel is the silver cord let down from heaven, to draw perilling (inners to land. And, tho' the preaching of the law prepares the way of the Lord; yet it is in the word of the gospel, that Christ and a sinner meet. Now, as in the natural grafting, the branch being taken up is put into the stock ; and being put into it, takes with it ; and so they are united : even so in the Ipiritual ingrafting, Christ apprehends the finner ; and the finner being apprehended of Christ, apprehends him; and so they become one, Philip.iji. 12.

First, Christ apprehends the finner by his Spirit, and draws him to himself, Cor xii. 13. For hy one Spirit, we are all baptized into one body. The fame Spirit, which is in the Mediator himself, he com. municates to his elect in due time; never to depart from them, but to abide in them, as a principle of life. Thus, he takes hold of them, by his own Spirit put into them; and so the withered branch gets life. The soul is now in the hands of the Lord of life, and possessed by the Spirit of life: how then can it but live? The man gets a ravishing fight of Christ's excellency, in the glass of the gospel : he sees him a full, fuitable, and willing Saviour; and gets a heart to take him for, and instead of all. The spirit of faith furnisheth him with feet to come to Christ, and hands tu receive him. What by nature he could not do, by grace he can; the Holy Spirit working in him the work of faith with power. .

Secondly, The Sinner, thus apprehended, apprehends Chriít by .. faith, and so takes with the blessed stock, Eph. iii. 17. That Christ may dwell in your heurts by faith. The foul that before tried many ways of escape, but all in vain, doch now look again, with the eye of faith, which proves the healing look. As Aaron's rod, laid up in the taber. nacle, budded, and brought forth buds, Numb. xvii. 8. So the dead branch apprehended by the Lord of life, put into, and hound up with, the glorious quickning Block, by the Spirit of life, buds forth in actual believing on- Jesus Christ, whereby this union is completed. We having the same spirit of faith-a-believe, 2 Cor. iv. 13. Thus the stock and the graft are united, Christ and the Christian are married: faith being the foul's consent to the spiritual marriage covenant, which, as it is pro.! pored in the gospel to mankind finners indefinitely, so it is demonItrated, attested, and brought home, to the man in particular, by the Holy Spirit: and so he, being joined to the Lord, is one Spirit with him. , Hereby a believer lives in and for Christ, and Christ lives in, and for the believer, Gal. ii. 20. I am crucified with Chrift:. Neverthelefs, live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me. Hor. ü 3. Thou shalt not be, for another man, so will I also be for thee. The bonds then of this. blessed union are, the Spirit on Christ's part, and faith on the believer's part.

Now,

Now, both the fouls and bodies of believers are united to Christ. He that is joined to the Lord is one spirit, i Cor. vi 17. 'The very bodies of believers have this honour put upon them, that they are the temples of the holy Ghaft, ver. 19. And the members of Christ, ver. 15. When they fleep in the duft, they steep in Jesus, i Theff. iv. 14. And it is in virtue of this union, they shall be raised up out of the dust again, Rom. viii. II He shall quicken your mortal bodies, by his Spirit that dwelleth in you. In token of this mystical union, the church of believers is called by the name of her head and husband, 1 Cor. xii 12. For as the body is one, and hath many members, --fo alfo is Chrift. USE From what is said, we may draw these following inferences:

1. The preaching of the law is most necessary. He that would ingraft, must needs use the snedding knife. Sinners, have many shifts to keep them froin Chrift; many things by which they keep their hold of the natural Atock: therefore, they have need to be closely pursued, and hunted out of their sculking holes, and refuge of lies.

2. Yet, it is the gospel that crowns the work: the law mukes nothing perfect. The law lays open the wound, but it is the gospel that heals. The law strips a man, wounds him, and leaves him half-dead: the gofpel binds up his wounds, pouring in wine and oil, to heal them. By the law we are broken off: but, it is by the gospel we are taken up, and implanted in Christ.

3. If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his, Rom. vii 9. We are cold of a monster in nature, having two bodies differently animated, as appeared from contrary affections at one and the same time, but so united, that they were served with the selffame legs Even so, however men may cleave to Chritt, call them. felves of the holy city, and stay themselves upon the God of Israel, Isa. xlvii. 2. And they may be bound up as branches in him, John xv. 2. by the outward ties of sacraments: yet, if the Spirii that dwells in Christ, dwell not in them, they are not one with hiin. There is a great difference betwixt adhesion and ingrafding. The ivy clasps and twists itself about the oak; bur it is not one with it, for it still grows on its own root: so, to allude to Ifa.iv. 1. many professors take holdt of Christ, and eat their own'bread, and wear their own apparel, only they are called by his name. They stay themselves upon hiin, boc grow upon their own root: they take him to support their hopes, but Their delights are elsewhere."

4. The union betwixt Christ and his mystical members. is firm and indissoluble Were it so that the believer only apprehended Christ, but Christ apprehended not him; we could promise little on the stabi. lity of such an union; it might quickly be dissolved: but, as the believer apprehends Christ by faith; fo Christ apprehends him by his Spirit, and none fall pluck him ou: of his hond Did the child only keep hold of the nurse, it might at length weary and let go its hold, and fo fall away: but if the have her arms about the child, it is in 110 hazard of falling away, even though it be not actually holden by her:Aa .

fo,

by the outwear not in them, they, and ingraf ing: in it, for it still er

[ocr errors]

eed bound up all I know if you consider ay his Spirit, her

fo, whatever sinful imtermissions may happen in the exercise of faith, yet the union remains sure, by reason of the constant indwelling of the Spirit. Blefled Jesus! All his faints are in thy hond, Deut. xxxii. 3. Ii is observed by some, that the word Abba, is the same, whether you read it forward or backward! whatever the believer's case be, the Lord is still to him Abba, Father.

Lastly, They have an unfure hold of Christ, whom he has not apprehended by his Spirit. There are many half-marriages here, where the soul apprehends Christ, but is not apprehended of him, * Hence many fall away, and never rise again they let go their hold of Chrift; and when that is gone, all is gone. These are the branches in Christ, that bear not fruit, which the husband-man takсth away, John xv. 2. Quest. How can that be? Ani These branches are set. in the stock, by a profeffion, or an unsound hypocritical faith; they are bound up with it, in the external use of the sacraments: but the stock and they are never knit; therefore they cannot bear fruit. And they need not be cut off, nor broken off; they are by the husband. man only taken away, or, (as the word primarily signifies) lifted up; and so taken away, because there is nothing to hold them : they are indeed bound up with the stock; but they have never united with it.

Quest. How shall I know if i am apprehended of Christ? Ans. You may be satisfied in this inquiry, if you consider and apply these two things.

First, When Christ apprehends a man by his Spirit, he is so drawn, that he comes away to Christ with his whole heart: for true believing is believing with all the heart, Acts viii. 37. Our Lord's followers are like these who followed Saul at first, men whore hearts God has touched, 1 Sam. *. 26. When the Spirit pours in overcoming grace, they pour out their hearts like water before him, Pfal. lxii. 8. They flow unto him, like a river, Isa. ii. 2. Al nations Mall flow unto it: namely, to the mountain of the Lord's house. It denotes not only the abundance of converts; but the disposition of their souls, in coming to Christ: they come heartily and freely, as drawn with loving kindness, Jer. xxxi. 3. Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power, Pfal.cx. 3. i. e. free, ready, open-hearted, giving themselves to thee as free-will offerings. When the bridegroom has the bride's heart, it is a right marriage : but some give their hand to Christ, who give him not their heart. They that are only driven to Christ by terror, will surely leave him again, when that terror is gone. Terror may break a heart of stone ; but the pieces into which it is broken, still continue to be ftone : the terrors cannot soften it into a heart of flesh Yet terrori may begin the work, which love crowns : The strong wind, the earth. quake, and the fire going before : the still fmall voice, in which the Lord is, may come after them. When the blessed Jesus is seeking sinners to match with him, they are bold and perverse, they will not speak with him, till he hath wounded them, made them captives, and bound them with the cords of death. When this is done, then it is that he makes love to them, and wins their hearts. The Lord tells

thesi. 3. They are open. Horidegroothand to

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

us, Hof. ii. 16-20. That his chosen Ifrael shall be married unto

himself. But, how will the bride's consent be won? Why, in the 2 hrft place, he will bring her into the wilderness, as he did the people, c when he brought them out of Egypt, ver. 14. There the will be

hardly dealt with, scorched with thirst, and bitten with serpents; and 1. then he will speak 'comfortably to her, or, as the expression is, he will

speak upon her heart. The finner is first driven; and then drown to Te Christ. It is with the soul, as with Noah's dove; she was forced back

again to the ark, because she could find nothing else to rest upon: but when she did return, she would have rested on the our-side of it, if Noah had not put forth bis hand, and pulled her in, Gen. viii. 2. The Lord fends the avenger of blood in pursuit of the criminal; and he, with a sad heart, leaves his own city; and, with tears in his eyes, parts with his old acquaintance, because he dare not stay with them: and he flees for his life to the city of refuge. This is not at all his choice, it is forced work; neceffity has no law. But, when he comes to the gates, and sees the beauty of the place, the excellency and loveliness of it charms him; and then he enters it with heart and goodwill, saying, This is my rest, and here I will stay; and, as one said in another case, I had perished unless I had perisheit.

Secondly, When Christ apprehends a soul, the heart is disengaged from, and turned against, fin. As in cutting off the branch from the old stock, the great idol felf is brought down, the man is powerfully' taught to deny himself: fo, in the apprehending of the finner by his Spirit, that union is dissolved, which was betwixt the man and his Tufts, while he was in the flesh, as the Apostle expresses it, Rom. viii. 5.

his heart is loosed from them, though formerly as dear to him, as the 10 meinbers of his body; as his eyes, legs, or arms; and, instead of

taking plealure in them as some time he did; he longs to be rid of
them. When the Lord Jesus comes to a soul, in the day of convert-
ing grace; he finds it like Jerusalem, in the day of her nativity, (Ezek.
xvi. 4.) with its navel not cut, drawing its fulsome nourishment and
satisfaction from its lufts: but, he cuts off this communication, that he
way set the soul on the breasts of his own confolations, and give it rest
in himself. And thus the Lord wounds the head and heart of fin,
and the soul comes to him, saying, " Surely our fathers have inherited
“lies, vanity, and things wherein there are no profit,” Jer. xvi. 19.

w had pengerelt, anden he enter the exceswhen he all his

Of the Benefits flowing to true believers, from their unian with Christ.

V. And lastly, I come to speak of the benefits flowing to true believers from their union with Christ. The chief of the particular benefits believers have by it, are justification, peace, adoption, sanctifi

cation, growth in grace, fruitfulness in good works, acceptance of these and good works, establithment in a state of grace, fupport and a special cibe conduct of providence about them. As for cominunion with Cirist, it is such a benefit, as being the immediate consequent of union with him, Аа2

con

[ocr errors]
« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »