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en ch in him."Amcipi of grs the vine.hall return;
6 They that dwell under his shadow shall return: they shall revive "as the corn, and grow as the vine.". In the worst of times, the faints have a principl of growth in them, 1 John iii..9. His feed remaineih in him. And therefore after decays they revive again: namely when the winter is over, and the Sun of righleoufness returns to them with his warm influences. Mud thrown into a pool may ly there at éale ; but if it be caft into a fountain, the spring will at length work it out, and run clear as formerly. Secondly, Christians may mistake their growth, and that iwo ways. (1:) By judging of their cafe according to their present feeling. They observe themselves, and cannot perceive themselves to be growing: but there is no reason thence to conclude they are not growing, Mark iv. 27. “ The feed ^ fprings and grows up, he knoweth not how.” Should one fix his eye ever so ftedfastly, on the sun running his race, or on a growing tree ; he would not perceive the sun moving, or the tree growing: but, if he compare the tree as it now is, with what it was some years ago; and consider the place in the heavens, where the sun was in the morning; he will certainly perceive the tree has grown, and the sun has moved. In like manner may the Christian know, whether he be in a growing or declining state, by comparing his present with his former condition, (2) Chriftians inay mistake their case, by measur. ing their growth by the advances of the top only, not of the root, Though a man be not growing taller, he may be growing stronger. If a tree be taking with the ground, fixing itself in the earth, and spreading out its roots; it is certainly growing, although it be nothing taller than formerly. So, albeit a Christian may want the sweet confolation and flashes of affection, which sometimes he has had ; yet if he be growing in humility, self-denial, and sense of needy depend. ence on Jesus Christ, he is a growing Christian, Hof. xiv. 5. “ I will ( be as the dew unto Ifrael, he mall cast forth his roots as Lebanon."
Queft.“ Boc do hypocrites grow at all? And if so, how shall we distinguish betwixt their growth, and true Christian growth?” Anf. To the firit part of the question, hypocrites do grow The turès have their growth, as well as the wheat: and the feed that fell among thorns didįpring up, Luke viii. 7. only it did bring no fruit to perfection, ver. 14 Yea, a true Christian may have a false growth. James and John seemed to grow in the grace of holy zeal, when their fpirits grew fo hot in the cause of Christ, that they would have fired whole villages, for not receiving their Lord and Master, Luke ix. 54. “ They laid,
“Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down fron heaven, : « to consume them, even as Elias did?” But it was indeed no such
thing; and therefore he turned and rebuked them, ver. 55. “ and " said, Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of.” To the
second part of the question, it is answered, that there is a peculiar - beauty in true Christian growth, distinguilhing it from all false growth: it is universal, regular, proportionable. It is a “ growing up to him in all things, which is the head,”. Eph. iv. 15. The growing
- Christian grows proportionably, in all the parts of the new man.
Under the kindly influences of “ the Sun of righteousnefs, believers * « grow up as calves in the stall, Mal. iv. 2. Ye would think it a monstruous growth, in these creatures, if ye saw their heads grow, and not their bodies, or if ye faw one leg grow, and another not : if all the parts do not grow proportionably. Ay, but such is the growth of many, in religion. They grow like rickety children, who have a big head, but a llender body : they get more knowledge into their heads, but no more holinefs into their hearts and livés : Tirey grow very hot outwardly, but very cold inwardly; like men in a fit of the ague. They are more taken up about the externals of religion, than formerly ; yet as great strangers to the power of godliness as ever. If a garden is watered with the hand, some of the plants will readily get much, some little, and lone no water at all, and therefore fome wither, while ochers are coming forward: but after a fhower from the clouds, ail com * forward together. In like manner all the graces of the Spirit grow proportionably, by the special influences of divine grace. The branches ingrafted in Chrift, growing aright, do grow in all the feveral ways of growth at once. They grow inward, growing into Chrift, (Eph. iv. 15.). uniting more closely with him and cleaving more firmly to him, as the head of influences, which is the spring of all other true Christian-growth. They grow outward, in good works in their life and conversation. They not only, with Naphtali, give goodly words ; but like Jofeph, they are fruitful boughs. They grow upward in heavenly-mindedness, and contempt of the world, for their conversation is in heuven Philip. iii. 20. And finally, they grow downward in humility and self-lothing. The branches of the largest growth in Chrift, are in their own eyes, less than the least of all saints, Eph. ii. 8. The chief of liners, i Tim i 15. i More brutish than any min, Prov. xxx, 2. They see, they can do nothing, no not so much as to think any thing, as of themflves, 2 Cor üi 5. that they deferve nothing, being not worthy of the least of all the
" mercies shewed unto them," Gen. xxxii, 10. and that they are - nothing, 2 Cor. xii: 2 ;
A Sixth benefit is Fruitfulness. The branch ingrafted into Christ, is not barren, but brings forth fruit, John xv. 5. * He that abideth « in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit." For chat very end are fouls married to Christ, that they inay bring forth "fruit untu God,” Rom. vii 4. They may be branches in Chrilt,
by proffion, but not by real implantation, that are barren branches. En Whosoever are united to Chrift, bring forth the fruits of go pela
obedience and true holiness. Faith is always followed with good works, The believer is not only come out of the grave of his natural state ; bue he has put off his grave clothes, nainely, reigning lusts. “ in the * which he walked sometime,” like a ghost: being dead while he
lived in them, Col iii 7,8. For Chriit has said of hiin as of Lazarus, "" Loofe hira, and let him go." And now that he has put on Chrift;
turn than thehes of
brings fore fame bringes that they praycles in Cheries: XV, 1,2,12m the altare me creation not yet perfere are were a communion of the body of Chrift?” And chap. xii. 12. “We " have been all made to drink into one spirit." Give yourselves Unto prayer; open your mouths wide, and he will fill chem. By these means the branches in Christ may be further nourished, grow up, and bring forth much fruit.
he personates hinn (fo to speak) as a beggar, in borrowed robes, represents a king on the stage, " walking as he also walked” Now " the fruit of the Spirit in him is in all goodness.” Eph v 9 The fruits of holiness will be found in the hearts, lips, and lives of those who are united to Christ. The hidden man of the heart, is not only a temple built for God, and consecrated to him; but used and employed for him ; where love, fear, trust, and all the other parts of unseen religion are exercised Phil iii 3 “ For we are of the circumcision, s which worship God in the Spirit " The heart is no more the devil's common, where thoughts go free; for there even vain thoughts are hated, Pfal cxix 123 But it is God's inclosure, hedged about as a garden from him, Cant. iv 16. It is true, there are weeds of corruption there, because the ground is not yet perfectly, healed: but the man, in the day of his new creation, is set to dress it, and keep it. A live-coal' from the altar has touched his lips, and they are purified, Pfal. xv 1,2, 3. '". Lord, who fall abide in thy tabernacle? Who * Thall dwell in thy holy hill? He that speakech the truth in his heart. “ He that backbiteth not with his tongue nor taketh up a reproach " against his neighbour” There may be indeed a smooth tongue where there is a false heart. The voice may be Jacob's, while the hands are Eluu's. But, “ If any man among you seem to be religious, “ and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's *«« religion is vain," James i. 26,'. The power of godliness will rule over the tongue, though a world of iniquity. If one be a Galilean, his speech will bewray him, he'll not speak the language of Amdod, but the language of Canaan. He will neither be dumb in religion ; nor will his tongue walk at random, seeing to the double guard nature hath given the tongue, grace hath added a third: The fruits of holiness will be found in his outward converfition, for he hath clean hands, as well as a pure heart, Pfal. xxiv. 4. He is a godiy man, and religiously discharges the duties of the filt table of the law : he is a righteous man, and honestly performs the duties of the second table. In his conversation he is a good Christian, and a good neighbour too. He carries it towards God, as if men's eyes were upon him; and to. wards men, as believing God's eye to be upon hin. These things which God hath joined, in his law, he dare not, in his practice, put afundera
Thus the branches of Christ are full of good fruits. And those fruits are a cluster, of vital a&tions, wherevt Jelus Chrill is the principle and end: the principle: for he lives in them, and the life they to live, is by the faich of the Son of God,” Gal. i. 20. The end, for they live to hiin, and to them to live is Chrift, Philip j.-21. The duties of religion are in the world, like fatherless chiidren, in rags : some will not take thin in, because chey never loved them nor their Father: some cake them in, because chey may be serviceable to them: but the saints take thein in for theis Father's lake; that is, for Christ's sake; and they are lovely in their eyes, because they are like him. O! whence is the new life of the saints ! furely
it cruld never lave been hammered out of the natural powers of their souls, by the united force of all created power. In ciernal barrenness should their womb have been thut up; but that being married to Christ they 6 bring forth fruit unto God.' Rom. vii. 4.
If you ask me, How your nourishment, growth and fruitfulness nay be forwarded? I offer these few advices. (1.) Make sure work, as to your knitting with the stock, by faith, unfeigned; and beware of, hypocrify: a branch that is not found at the heart, will certainly wither. The crees of the Lord's planting are trees of righteousness, Ifa. Ixi. 3. So when ochers fade, chey bring forth fruit. Hypocrisy is a direale in the vitals of religion, which will consume all at lengih, It is a leak in the thip, chat will certainly sink it. Sincerity of grace will make it lalling, be it never fo weak: as cie smallest twig, that is found at the heart, will draw nourishment from the stock, and grow, while the greatest bough that is rorren, can never recover, because it receives no nouriffimeni. (2) Labour to be stedfast in the truths and way of God. An unfectled and wavering judgment is a great enemy to Christian growth and fruitfulness, as the Apos, tle ceaches, Eph. iv. 14, 15. 6 That we henceforth be no more “ children, tofled to and fro, and carried about with every wind " of doctrine. But speaking the truth' in love, may grow up unto " him in all things, which is the head, even Christ,” Arolling ftone gathers no fog, and a wavering judgment makes a fruitless life. Though a tree be never so found, yet hoy can it grow, or be fruitful if ye be (till removing it out of one soil into another? (3.) Endeavour to cut off the fuckers, as gardeners do that their trees may chrive. There are unmortified luits. There!ore 6 mor“ tify your menibers that are upon the earth,” Col. ill. 5. When the Israelites got meat to their lufts, they got leanness to their fouls. She chat has many hungry children about her hand, and must be lill putting into their mouths, will have much ado to get a bie put into her own. They must refuse the craving of inordinate affeciions, who would have their souls to prosper. Lastly, Iimprove, for these ends, the ordinances of God. The courts of our God are the place, where the trees of righteousness flourish, Pfalm xcii. 13. The waters of the sanctuary are the means appointed of God, to cause his people grow as willows by the water courses. Therefore drink in with " desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby, i Per, ii. 2. Come to these wells of salvation : 100 co look at them only, but to draw water out of them. The sacrament of the Lord's fupper is in a special manner appointed for thele en is.. It is not only a folemn puplick profeffion, and a seal of our union and communion with Chrift; but it is a means of most intimate communion with him; and strengthens our union with him, our faith, love, repentance, and other graces, 1 Cor. x 26. "The 4 cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the « blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the
A feventh benfit is, The acceptance of their fruits of holiness be. fore the Lord. Though they be very imperfect they are accepted, because they favour of Christ the blessed Rock, which the branches grow upon; while the fruits of others are rejected of God, Gen.ii. 4, 5. 66 And the Lord had respect unto Abel, and to his offering: 6 But unto Cain and bis offering he had not respect." Compare Heb. xi. 3. "By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent 66 sacrifice than Cain.” Ohow defective. are the saints duties in the eye of the law! The believer himself espies many faults in his belt performances; yet the Lord graciously receives them. There is no grace planted in the heart, but there is a weed of corruption hard bv its side, while the saints are in this lower world. Their very sincerity is not without mixture of diffimulation or hypocrify, Gal. ii. 13. Hence there are defects in the cxercise of every grace; in the performance of every duty: depraved nature always drops something to stain their beit works. There is still a mixture of darkness with their clearest light. Yet this does not mar their acceptance, Cant, vi. 10. “Who is she chat looketh forth as the “ morning? or as the dawning?" Behold how Christ's spouse is esteemed and accepted of her Lord, even when He looks forth a's the morning. whose beauty is inixed with the blackness of the night! When the morning was looking out, as,che word is, Judges xix. 26, i. e. in the dawning of the day, as we read it. So the very dawning of grace, and good-will to Christ, grace peeping out from under a mals of darkness in believers, is pleasant and acceptable to him, as the break of day is to the weary traveller. Though che remains of unbelief make their hand of faith to make and cremble; yet the Lord is so'well pleased with it, that he employs it to carry a way pardons and supplies of grace, from the throne of grace, 'and the fountain of grace. His faith was effectual, who " cried out, and 65 raid with tears, Lord, I believe, help thou mine unbelief,” Mark ix. 24. Tho' the remains of sensual affections make the fame of their love weak and smoaky; he turns his eyes from the smoak, and beholds the flame, how fair it is, Cant. iv. 10. " How 66 fair is thy love, my filter, my spouse! The smell of their under
garments of inherent holinefi, ás imperfect as it is, is like the smell « of Lebanon,” ver. 11, and that because they are covered with their elder brother's clothes, which make the sons of God to « smell as a field which the Lord hath blessed." Their good works are accepted: their cups of cold water given to a disciple, in the name of a disciple, shall not want a reward, Tho' they cannot offer for the tabernacle, gold silver, and brass, and onyx-stone, let