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cilahad fainted, unde saying or bean Chrift, thei
low, as the water goes over his head; yet there is still a bond of union betwixt Christ and him: the chain is not broken: he will not go to the ground: he will be drawn up again, Luke xxii. 31, 32. " And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, Satan bath desired to have “ you, that he may lift you as wheat; but I have prayed for thee, o that thy faith fail not.” (2.) The falls of the saints flow from their not improving their union with Christ, their not making use of him by faith, for staying or bearing them up, Pfal. xxvi. 13. “ I had fainted, unless. I had believed." While the nurse holds the child in her arms, it cannot fall to the ground: yet if the unwary child hold not by her, it may tall backwards in her arms to its great hurt. Thus David's fall broke his bones, Pfal. li. 8 bur it did not break the bond of union betwixt Christ and him: The Holy Spirit, the bond of that uvion, was not takin from him, ver. It.
The Last benefit I fall name, is, The special care of the husbandman, John xv. 1, 2. “I am the true vine, and my Facher is the 66 husbandman...-Every branch cbae beareco fruir, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit,” Believers, by virtue of their union with Christ, are the object of God's special care and providence. Mystical Christ is God's vine, other societies in the world are but wild clive trees. The inen of the world are but God's out. Keld; the faints are his vineyard, which he has a special propriety in, and a fpecial concern for, Cant. viii. 12. "My vineyard, which " is niine, is before me." He that slumbers noi, nor sleeps, is the keeper of it, he “does keep it left any biuro it, he will keep it night “and day :' he in whole hand is the dew of heaven, “ will water " it every moment," Isa. xxvii. 3. He dresleth and purgcth it, in order to further fruitfulness, John xv. 2. He cuts off the luxuriant twigs that mar the fruitfulness of the branch. This is done, espcially by the word, and by the cross of afllictions. The saints need ihe ministry of the word, as much as the vineyard needech one to dress and prone the yines, 1 Cor. jii. O. “ We are labouru ers togethers with God: ye are God's busbandry, ye are God's « building." And they need the cross too, I Pet. i. 6. .
And therefore, if we should reckon the cross amongst the benefits Mowing io believers from their union with Chrift," I judge, we should not reckon it amifs. Sure I am, in their sufferings they Suffer quith him, Rom. viii. 17. And the assurances they have of the cross, have rather the nature of a promise, as of a threatning, Pfal. Ixxxix. 30, 31, 32, 33. " If his children forsake my law, then “ will I visit their transgression with the rod, and their iniquiry “ with fripes. Nevertheless, my loving kindness will I not ut. 66 terly take from him: nor suffer thy faithfulness ro' fail." This looks like a tutor's engaging to a dying fatber, to take care of the children left upon him; and to give them both nurture and admonition, for their good. The covenant of grace does truly beat the Speurs of affliction into pruning hooks, to them that are in Chrift, Isa. xxvii. 9. “By this therefore shall the iniquity of Jacob be “ purged, and this is all the fruit to take away his fin.” Why then should we be angry with our cross? Why should we be frighted at it? The believer must take up his cross, and follow his leader, the Lord Jesus Christ. · He must take up his ilk-day's cross, Luke ix. 23. “If any man will come after me, let him deriyumself, “ and take up his cross daily." Yea, he must e ke ap bis holy-days" crofs too, Lam. ij. 22. Thou hast called, as is a folema day, my " terrers round about” The church of the Jews bad, of a long time, maný a pleasing meeting at the temple, on folemn days, for the worship of God: but they got a solemnicy of anoin:r yauire, when God called cogether, about the temple and city, the Chaldean army that burnt the temple, and laid Jerusalem on heaps. And 007, that the church of God is yet militant in this lower r gion, how can it be but the clouds will return after the rain ? But the cross of Chrifi (which name the saints troubles do bear) is a kindly name to the believer. It is a cross indeed; buť 1100 to the believer's graces, but to his corruptions. The hypocrite's seeming graces may indeed breathe out cheir last on a cross, as these of the stony.grousd hear. ers did, Matth. xiii. 6. “And when the sun (of persecution, ver. “ 26 ) was up, they were scorched: And because they had not “ root, they withered away.” But never did one of the real graces in a believer die upon the cross yer. Bay, as the candle Thines brightest in the night, and the fire burns fiercest in intense froil: So che believer's graces,are, ordinarily most vigorous in a time of trouble.
There is a certain pleasure and sweetness in the cross, to them who have their fenres exercised to discern, and to find it out. There is a. certain fiveetness in one's feeing himself upon his trials for heaven, and standing candidate for, glory. There is a pleasure in travelling over these mountains, where the Christian can see the prints of Christ's own feet, and the foot-steps of ihe flock, who have been there before him. How pleasant is it to a saint, in the exercise of grace, to see how a good God crofleth his corrupţ inclinations, and prevents his folly! How sweet is it to behold there thieves upon the cross! How resined a pleasure is there in observing how God draws aivay provision from unruly lusts, and so pinchetli then, that the Christiani may get them governed! Of a truth, there is a paradise within this thorn-hedge. Many a time the people of God are io bonds; which are never Tooled, till they be bound with cords of affliction. God takes thein, and throws them into a fiery furnace, that burns off their bonds; and then like the three children, Dan. iii. 25. they are loose, walking in the midst of the fire. God gives his children a potion, with one bitter ingredient: If that will not work upon them, he will put in a second, a third, and so on, as there is need, that they may work together, for their good, Rom. viii. 28. With cross-winds he haftens them to the harbour. They are often found in such ways, as that the cref is the
happiest foot they can meet with : and well may they falute it, ás David did Abigail, saying, “ Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, which « fent thee thię day to meet me," Sam. xxv. 32. Worldly things are often such a load to the Christian, that he moves but very slowly 'heaven-ward God sends a wind of trouble, that blows the burden off the man's back: and then he walks more speedily on his way; after God hath drawn fome gilded earth from him, that was drawing his heart away from God, Zeph. iii. 12. “ I will also leave in the midit " of thee, an afflicted and poor people, and they shall trust in the
nane of the Lord.” It was an observe of an heathen moralist, “ That no history makes mention of any man, who hath been made 26 better by riches." I doubt if our modern histories can supply the defect of ancient histories in this point. But sure I am, many have been the worse of riches : thousands have been hugged to death, in the embraces of a siniling world; and many good men have got wounds from outward prosperity, that beloved to be cured by the cross. I remember to have read of one, who having an imposthume in his breast, had in vain used the help of plıysicians: but being wound. ed with a sword, the imposthume broke; and his life was saved by that accident, which threatned immediate death. Often have spiritual impofthumnes gathered in the breasts of God's people, in the time of outward prosperity, and been thus broken and disculfed by the cross. It is kindly for believers to be healed by stripes; although they are usually fo weak as to cry out for fear, at the sight of the pruning-hook, as if it were the destroying ax: and to think the Lord is coming to kill them, when he is indeed coming to cure them.
I thall now conclude, addressing myself in a few words, first to fuints, and next to finners..
I. To you that are faints, I say,
First, Strive to obtain and keep up actual communion and fellowship with Jesus Christ; that is, to be still deriving fresh fupplies of grace, from the fountati thereof, in 'him, by faith; and making suitable returns of them, in the exercise of grace and holy obedience. Beware of estrangement betwixt Christ and your souls. If it has got in already, (which seems to be the case of many in this day,) endeavour to get it removed. There are multitudes in the world that slight Christ, though ye should not sight him : many have turned their backs on him, that sometimes looked fair for heaven. The warm sun of outward peace and prosperity has caused some cast their cloak of religion from them, who Held it fast when the wind of trouble was blowing upon them: and will je also go away? John vi. 67. The greatest ingrátitude is Itampt on your flighting of communion with Christ, Jer. ii. 31. “ Have I been a wilderness unito Israel; a land of darkness? Where. " fore say my people, We are lords, we will come no more unto “ thee?!! Oh! beloved, “ Is this your kindness to your friend?” It is unbecoming any wife to, flight converse with her husband, but her especially who was taken from a prison or a dunghill, as ye were,
by our Lord. But remember, I pray you, this is a very ill-chosen
Secondly, Walk'as becomes those that are united to Christ. Evidence your union with him by walking as he also walked, i John ii. 6. If ye be brought from under the power of darkness, let your light Shine before men. “ Shine as lights in the world, holding forth the " word of life," as the lanthorn holds the candle, which being in it, shines through it, Philip. ii. 15, 16. Now that ye profefs Christ to be in you, let his image sine forth in your conversation, and remember the business of your lives is to prove by practical arguments what ye profess.
1. Ye know the character of a wife, « She that is married, careth how she may please her husband.” Go you and do likewise: “ walk “ worthy of the Lord, unto all pleasing,” Col. í. 10. This is the great business of life: you must please hiin, though it should displease all the world. What he hates must be hateful to you, because he hates it. Whatever lusts come in fuit of your hearts, deny then, seeing “ the grace of God has appeared, teaching so to do:" and you are, joined to the Lord. Let him be a covering to your eyes for you have not your choice to makė, it is made already; and you must not dishonour your Head. A man takes care of his feet, for that, if he catch hold there, it flies up to his head. “ Shall I then take the “ members of Christ, and make them the members of an harlot? God
" forbid,” says the Apostle, 2 Cor. vi. 15. Wilt thou take that.. :heart of thine, which is Chriít's dwelling-place, and lodge his enemies
there? Wilt thou take that body, which is his temple, and defile iť,
by using the members thereof, as the instruinents of fin? ! 2. Be careful to bring forth fruit, and much fruit. The branch well
Jaden with fruit, is the glory of the vine, and of the husbandman tom, John xv. 8. “ Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear inuch fruit, " so thall ye be my disciples." A barren tree stands fefer in a wood,
than an orchard: And branches in Christ that bring not 'forth fruit, 21. will be taken away and cast into the fire. ,.
laden with Te Herein is my Fatha barren tree to
3. Be heavenly-minded and maintain a holy contempt of the world. Ye are united to Christ, he is your !!ead and Husband, and is in heaven : Wherefore your hearts Mould be there also, Col. iii. 1; “ If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, " where Christ siteeth at the right hand of God ” Let the serpent's feed go on their belly, and eat the dust of this earth: but let the members of Chriít be ashamed to bow down and feed with them.
4. Live and act dependently, depending by faith on Jetus Christ. That which grows on its own root, is a tree, not a branch. It is of the nature of ? branch, to depend on the stock for all, and to derive all its fap from thence. Depend on him for life, light, strength, and all spiritual benefits, Gal. ii. 20. “ I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in “ 'me: and the life which I now live in the fiefh, I live by the faith “ of the Son of God." For this cause, in the mystical union, strength is united to weakness, life to death, and heaven to earth; that weakness, death and earth, may mount up on borrowed wings Depend on him for temporal benefits also, Matth. vi. 2. “ Give us this day sól our daily bread.” If we have trusted him with our eternal concerns, let us be alhamed to distrus him in the master of our provision in the world.
Lasily, Be of a meek difpofition, and an uniting temper with the fellow members of Christ's body, as being united to the mcek Jefus,che blessed centre of union. There is a prophecy, to this purpore concerning the kingdom of Christ, Ifa. ij. 6. 6. The wolf 66 fhall dwell with the lamb; and the leopard shall ly down with
the kid.” It is an allugion to the beants in Noah's ark. Tbe. beasts of prey, that were wont to kill and devour others, when once they came into the ark, lay down in peace with chem: the lamb was in no hazard by the wolf there; nor the kid by the leopard.. There was a beautiful accomplishment of it in the primitive church, Acts iv. 32. “ And the multitude of them that believed, were of one heart, and of one foul.” And this prevails in all members of Christ, according to the measure of the grace of God in them. Man is born naked, he conies naked into this world, as if God de signed him for the picture of peace and surely when he is born again he comes not into the new world of grace, with claws to tear, a sword to wound, and a fire in his hand to burn up his fel. low-members in Christ, because they cannot fee with his light. Oh! it is sad to see Christ's lillies as thorns in one another's sides : Christ's lambs devouring one another like lions, and God's diamonds cutting one another: yet it must be remembred, that sin is, no proper cement for the niembers of Christ, tho' Herod and Pon, tius Pilate may be made friends that way. The apostle's rule is plain, Heb. xii. 14. “ Follow peace with all men, and holiness.” To follow peace no further than our humour, credit, and fuchi like things will allow is, 'cis too short: to pursue it further than holiness, that is, conformity to the divine will allows us, is too far.