Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

communion of the body of Christ?” And chap. xii. 13. “We “ have been all made to drink into one spirit.” Give yourselves Unto prayer; open your mouths wide, and he will fill them. By these means the branches in Christ may be further nourished, grow up, and bring forth much fruit.

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 stock, which the branches grow upon; while the fruits of others are rejected of God, Gen.ji. 4, 5. " And the Lord had respect unto Abel, and to his offering: ** But unto Cain and his offering he had not respea.” 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 hiinself espies many faulos in his best performances; yet the Lord graciously receives them. There is no grace planted in the heart, but there is a weed of corruption hard by 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 exercise of every grace; in the performance of every duty: depraved nature always drops something to Nain their best works. There is still a mixture of darkness with their clearest light. Yet this does not mar cheir acceptance, Cant. vi. 10. 16 Who is the that looketh forch as the “ morning? or as the dawning?” Behold how Christ's fpouse is esteemed and accepted of her Lord, even when the looks forth as the morning. whose beauty is mixed with the blackness of the night! When the morning was looking out, as, the 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 mass 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 tremble; yet the Lord is so well pleased with it, that he employs it to carry away pardons and supplies of grace, from the throne of grace, 'and the fountain of grace. His faith was effectual, who “ cried out, and " said with tears, Lord, I believe, help thou mine unbelief," Mark ix. 24. Tho' the remains of sensual affections make the flame 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 “ fair is thy love, my filter, my spouse! The smell of their under

garments of inherent holinesi, 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 them come forward with what they have; if it were but goats hair, ie ihall not be rejected; if it were but rams skins, they fhall be kindly accepted; for they are dyed red, dipe by faith in the Mediator's blood, and so presented unto God.' A very ordinary work done in faith, and from faith, if it were but the building of a wall about the boly city, is a great work, Neb. vi. 3. If it were but the beftowing of a box of ointment on Chrift, it shall never be forgotten, Matth. xxvi.13. Even" a cup of cold water only given to one of * Christ's litile oncs, in the name of a disciple, fhall be rewarded," Matth. x. 42. Nay, nor a good word for Christ, shall drop from their mouths but it thall be registred in God's book of remembrance, Mal. ii. 16. Nor Mall a tear drop from their eyes for him, but, he will put it in his bottle, Pfal. Ivi. 8. Their will is accepted for the deed: their forrow for the want of will, for the will itlelf, 2 Cor. viii. 12. * For if there be first a willing mind, it is accept" ed according to that a man hath, and not according to that be " hath not." Their groanings, when they cannot well word their desires, are heard in heaven; the meaning of these groans is well known there, and they will be returned like the dove with an olive branch of peace in her mouth. See Rom. viii. 26, 27. Their mites are better than other mens talents. Their lisping and broken sen, tences are more pleasant to their Father in heaven, than the most fluent and flourishing speeches of those that are not in Chrift. Their voice is sweet, even when they are alhamed it should be heard ; their countenance is comely even when they blush, and draw a vail over it, Cant. ii. 14. The Mediator takes their petitions, blots out fome parts, rectifies others, and then presents them to the Father, in consequence whereof they pass in the court of heaven.

them

Every true Christian is a temple to God. If ye look for facri. fices, they are not wanting there; they offer the facrifice of praise, and they " do good; with such sacrifices God is well pleased,” Heb. xiii. 15, 16. Christ himself is the altar that sanctifies the gift, ver. 10. But what comes of the skins and dung of their facrifices? They are carried away without the camp. If we look for incense, it is there too. The graces of the Spirit are found in their hearts: and the Spirit of a crucified Chrift, fires them and puts them in exercise; likeas the fire was brought from the altar of burnt-offering, to set the incense on flame: then they mount heaven-ward, like pillars of fmoke, Cant. iii. 6. But the best of incense will leave aihes behind it: yes indeed; but as the priest took away the ashes of the incense in a golden dish, and threw them out; 1o our great High-priest takes away the ashes and refuse of all the saints services, by his mediation in their behalf.

An Eighth benefit flowing from unicn with Christ is Establishment. The Christian cánnor fall away, but mult persevere unto the end, John X. 28. “They shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck " them out of my hand.” Indeed if a branch do not knit with the

Сс 2

stock,

[ocr errors]

Mock, it will fall away when making winds arise: but the branch knit to the stock lands fast, whatever winds blows. Sometimes a stormy wind of temptation blows from hell, and tosseth the branches in Christ the true vine: but their union with him, is their security; moved they may be, but removed they never, can be. The Lord « will with the temptation also make a way to escape,” 1 Cor. x. 13

Calms are never of any continuance: there is almost always fome wind blowing; and therefore branches are rarely altogether at rest. But sometimes violent winds arise, which threaten to rend them from off their stock. Even so it is with fainis; they are daily put to it, to keep their ground against temptation: but sometimes the wind froni hell riseth so high, -.id bloweth fo furi. ously, that it makes even top-branches to {weep the ground; yet being knit to Christ their stock, they get up again, in spite of the most violent efforts of the prince of the power of the air, Psal. xciv. 18. “When I said my foot slippeth, thy mercy, O Lord, held me up. But the Christian improves by this trial; and is so far from being damaged, that he is benefited by it, in so far as it discovers whaë hold the soul has of Christ, and what hold Christ has of the soul. And look as the wind in the billows, which would blow out the cardie, blows up the fire: even so it often comes to pass that such temptations do enliven the true Christian, awakening the graces of the Spirit in bim; and, by that means, discover both the reality, and the strength of grace in him. And hence, as Luther, i hat great man of God, faith, " One Christian who hath had ex.

perience of temptation, is worth a thousand others.

Sometimes a stormy wind of trouble and perfecution from the men of the world, blows upon the vine, i. e. myftical Christ: but union with the stock is a sufficient security to the branches. In a time of the church's peace and outward prosperity, while the angels hold the wini's ihat they blow not, there are a great many branches taken up, and pui

into the stock, which never knit with it, nor live by it, though they be bound up with it, by the bonds of external ordinanceś. Now thele may stand a while on the Atock; and stand with great ease, while the calm lafts. But when once the storms arise, and the winds blow; tiey will begin to fall off, one after another and the higher the wind rileth, the greater will the number be that falls. Yea fome strong bruchs of that fort, when they fall, will, by their weight, carry others of their own kind, quite down to the earth with them; and will bruise and press down some true branches in such a manner, that they would alio ml off, were it not for their being knit to the stock; in virtue where they get up their heads again, and cannot fall off, because of that falt hold the stock has of them.' Then it is that many branches, sometime high and eminent, are found lying on the earth withered, and fit to be gathered up and cait into the fire, Matth. xüi. 6. C And when the lun was up, they were scorched; and because

. They had to root, they withered away." - John xy, 6. If a man

66 abide

Rom.

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

« abide not in me, he is caft forth as a branch, and is withered, and " men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned." But however violently the winds blow, none of the tridy ingrafted branches, that are knit with the stock, are found missing, when the ftorm is changed into a calm, John xvii. 12. “ Those that thou gay. "eft me, I have kept, and none of them is loft."

The least twig grawing in Christ shall stand it out, and sublist; when the tallet cedars growing on their own root, shall be laid Mat on the ground, vili. 35.

Who thall feparate us from the love of Chrift? “ Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or naked"ness, or peril, or sword?” See ver. 36, 37, 38, 39. However severely Israel be sifted, yet shall not the leaf grain, or as it is in the original language, a litile stone fall upon the earth, Amos ix. It is an allusion to the fifting of fiue peeble stones from among heaps of dust and fand: tho the fand and dust fall to the ground, be blown away with the wind, and trampled under foot; yet there shall not fall on the earth so much as a little stone, such is the exactness of the sieve, and care of the sifter. There is nothing more ready to fall on the Carth than a stone : yet if professors of religion be lively stones built on Christ the chief corner stone; altho' they be little stones, they shall not fall to the earth, whatever storm beat upon them. See 1 Pet. ii. 4, 596, All the good grain in the church of Christ is of this kind; they are stones in respect of solidity; and lively stones, in respect of activity. If men be folid fubftantial Christians, they will not be like chaff toffed to and fro with every wind; having so much of the liveliness that they have nothing of the stone: and if they be lively Christians, whole fpirit will stir in them, as Paul's did, “ when he saw the city wholly " given to idolatry," Acts xvii. 16. they will not ly like stones, to be turned over, hither and thither, cut and carved, according to the lufts of men ; having so much of the stone, as leaves nothing of liveliness in them.

Our God's house is a great house, wherein are not only " vessels of "gold, but also of earth,” 2 Tim. ii. 20. Both these are apt to contract filthiness; and therefore, when God brings trouble upon the church, he hath an eye to both. As for the vesels of gold, they are not destroyed, but purged by a fiery trial in the furnace of affliction, as gold-smiths purge their gold, Ifa. Í. 25. “ And I will turn my hand

upon thee, and purely purge away thy drofs." But destruction is to the vessels of earth : they ihall be broken in shivers, as a potter's vessel

, ver. 28. " And the destruction (or breaking) of the trans"gressors, and of the finners, thall be together." It seems to be an allulion to that law, for breaking the vessels of earth, when unclean; while veliels of wood, and contequently vessels of gold were only to be rinsed, Lev. xv. 12.

A Ninth benefit is support. If thou be a branch ingrafted in Christ, the root beareth thee. The believer leans on Christ', as a weak woman in a journey, leaning upon her beloved husband, Cant. viii. 5. He

Stays

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

stays himself upon him, as a feeble old man stays himself on his staff,

Ifa 1. 10. He rolls himself on him, as one rolls a burden he is not able to walk under, off his own back, upon another who is able to bear it, Pfal. xxii. 8. Marg. There are many weights to hang upon, and press down the branches in Christ the true Vine! But ye know, whatever weights hang on branches, the stock bears all; it bears the branch and the weight that is upon it too.

ift, Christ supports believers in him, under a weight of outward troubles. That is a large prrmise, Ifa. xliii. 2." When thou passeft

through the waters, I will be with thee : and through the rivers, " they hall not overflow thee." See how David was supported under a heavy load, i Sam. xxx. 6. His city Ziklag was burnt, his wives were taken captives, his men spoke of stoning him; nothing was left him but his God and his faith; but by his faith he encouraged himself in his God. The Lord comes and lays his cross on his people's shoulders ; it presseth them down; they are like to sink under it, and therefore cry, Master, save us, we perish :” but he supports them under their burden; he bears then up, and they bear their cross. Thus the Christian having a weight of outward troubles upon him, goes lightly under his burden, having withal the “ everlasting arms

underneath him.". The Christian has a spring of comfort, which he cannot lore; and therefore never wants something to support him. If one have all his riches in money, robbers may take these away; and then what has he more? But though the landed man be robbed of his money, yet his lands remain for his support. They that build their comfort on worldly goods, may quickly be comfortless: but they that are united to Christ, thall find comfort when all the streams of worldly enjoyments are dried up, Job vi. 13. “Is not my help in * me? And is wisdom driven quite from me?q.d. Though my substance is gone ; though my servants, my children, my health, and foundness of body, are all gone ; ýet my grace is not gone too. Tho' the Sabeans have driven away my oxen and asses, and the Chaldeans have driven away camels'; they have not driven away my faith and my hope too: these are yet in me, they are not driven from me; fo that by them I can fetch comfort from heaven, when I can have none from earth.

2dly, Christ supports his people under a weight of inward troubles and discouragements. Many times." heart and fielh fail them,” but ther, “ God is the strength of their heart," Pfal. lxxiii. 26. They may have a weight of guilt pressing them. This is a load that will make their back to stoop, and the spirits to sink: but he takes it off, and puts a pardon in their hand, while they cast their burden over upon him. Christ takes the soul, as one marries a widow, under a burden of debt; and so when the creditors come to Christ's spouse, fhe carries them to her husband, confesseth the debt, declares the is not able to pay, and lays all over upon him. The Christian sometimes, through carelessness, loseth his discharge; he cannot find it,

how

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »