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tried. Ye think ye have not only the leaves of a profession, but the fruits of a boly practice 100 ; but, if ye be not broken off from the old stock, and ingrafied in Christ Jesus, God accepts not, nor regards your fruits.
Here I must take occasion to rell you, there are five faults will be found, in heaven, with your best fruits. (1.) Their bitterness : “ Your clusters ar: bitter,” Deut. xxxii. 32. There
a spirit of bitterness, where with some come before the Lord, in religious duries, livi,g in malice and envy, and which some profeffors entertain againit others, because they out fhine sheni, by holiness of life ; or because they are not of their opinion or way. This, wherefoever it reigns, is a fearful symptom of an unregenerate ftate.
But I do not so much mean this, as that which is common to all the branches of the old stock, namely, the leaven of hypocrisy, Luke xii. 1. which fours and embirters every duty they perform. The wisdom that is full of good fruits, is without hypocrisy, James iii. 17. (2.) Their ill savour. Their works are abominable, for themselves are corrupt, Pfal. xiv. 1.
They all favour of the old stock, not of the new: it is the peculiar priviledge of the saints, that they unto God a sweet favour of Christ,"? 2 Cor. ii.
The unregenerate man's fruits favour not of love to Christ
, nor of the blood of Christ, nor of the incense of his intercession ; and therefore will never be accepted of. in heaven. (3.) Their unripeness. Their grape is an unripe grape, Job xv. 33. There is no influence on them from the Sun of righteousness, to bring them to perfection. They have the shape of fruit, but no more. The matter of duty is in them, but they want right principles and eads ; their works are not wrought in God, John iii. 21. Their prayers drop from their lips, before their hearts be impregnate with the vital sap of the Spirit of fupplication : their tears fall from their eyes, 'ere cheir hearts be truly foftoed; their feet turn to new paths, and their way is altered; while yet their nature is not changed. (4) Their lightness. Being weighed in the balance, they are found wanting, Dan. v. 27. For evidence whereof, you may observe, they do not humble the soul, but lift it up in pride. The good fruưs of holiness bear down the. branches they grow upon, making them to falute the ground. 1 Cor. xv. 10.“ | laboured more abundantly than they all : yet not I, but the grace of God which was, with me." But the blasted fruits of unrenewed mens performance, bang lightly on branches towering up to leaven, Judges xvii. 13. “ Now know I, that the Lord will do me good, seeing I have a Levite to my
priest." They look indeed so high, that God cannot behold them, "Wherefore have we fafted, say they, and thou feelt not ?" Ifa. lvii. 3. The more duties they do, and the better they seem to perforin them, the less are they humbled, the more they are lifted
up. This disposition of the finner is the exact reverse of what is to be found in the saint. To men, who' neither are in Christ, nor are solicitous to be found in bin, their duties are like windy bladders, wherewith they think to swim ashore to IMMANUEL's land: but these must need; break, and they consequently firk; because they take not Christ for the lifter up of their head, Plal. iii. 3. Lastly, They are not all manner of pleasant fruits, Cant vii. 13. Christ is a King must be served with variety. Where God makes the heart his garden, he plan:s it as Solomon did his, with trees of all kinds of fruits, Ecclef. ii. 5. And accordiógly it brings forth the fruit of the Spirit" in all goodness,” Eph. v. 9. But the ungodly are not so, their obedience is never universal; there is always fome one thing or other excepted. In one word, their fruits are fruits of an ill tree, that cannot be accepted in heaven.
2dly, Our natural stock is a dead stock, according to the threatning, Gen. ii. 17. “ In the day thou eatest thereof, thou fhalt surely die. Our root' now is rottenness, no marvel the blofiom go up as dust. The stroke is gone to the heart; the fap is let out, and the tree is withered. The curse of the first coverant, like a hot thunder-bolt from heaven has lighted on it, and ruined it. It is cursed, now as the fig-tree, Matth.
" Let no fruit grow on thee, henceforth for ever. Now it is good for nothing, but io cuinber the ground, and furnish fuel for Tophet.
Let me inlarge a little here also. Every unrenewed man is a branch of a dead stock. When thou seeft, О finner, a dead stock of a tree, exhausted of all its fap, having branches on it in the same condition ; look on it as a lively representation of thy foul's state. (1.) Where the stock is dead, the branches must needs be barren. Alas! the barrenness of many professors plaioly discovers on what stock they are growing. It is easy to pretend to faith, but shew me thy faith without thy works, if thou canst, James ii. 17. A dead stock can convey no sap.to the branches, to make them bring forth fruit. The Covenant of Works was the bond of our union, with the natural stock ; but now it is become weak through the flesh; that is, through the degeneracy and depravity' of human nature, Rom. vii. 3. It is strong enough to command, and to bind heavy burdens on the
shoulders of those who are not in Chrift; but it affords no strength to bear them. The lap that was once in the root, is now gone i and the law, like a merciless creditor, apprehends Adam's heirs, saying, Pay what thou owest ;" when, alas! his effects are riot. ously spent. (3.) All pains and cost are lost on the tree, whose life is gone. In vain do men labour to get fruit on the branches when there is no sap in the root. First, the gardner's pains are lost: minifters lose their labour on the branches of the old stock, while they continue on it. Many fermons are preached to na purpose, because there is no life to give sensation. Sleeping men may be awakened, bar the dead cannot be raised without a miracle: even so the dead finner must remain so, if he be not restored to life by a miracle of grace.
SECONDLY, The influences of heaven are loft on such a tree: In vain doth the rain fall upon it: in vain is it laid open to the winter cold and frosts. The Lord of the vineyard digs about many a dead foul, but it is nor bettered. " Bruise the fool in a mortai, his folly will not depart." Tho' he meets with many crosses, yet he retains bis laits : let him be laid on a sick bed, be will there ly like a sick bealt, groaning under his pain : but not mourning for, nor turning from his fio. Let death itself (tare him in the face, he will presumptuoully maintain his hope, as if he would look the grim messenger out of countenance. Sometimes there are common operations of the divine Spirit performed on him: he is fent home with a trembling heart, and with arrows of conviction sticking in his soul : bus at length he prea! vails against these things, and turns as secure as ever. Thirdly, Summer and Winter are alike to the branches of the dead stock. When others about them are budding, blossoming, and bringing forth fruit, there is no change on them : the dead stock has no -growing time at all. Perhaps it may be difficult to know, in The Winter, what trees are dead, and what alive : but the spring plainly discovers it. There are some feasins whereia there is little life to be perceived, even among faints: yet
times of reviving come at length. But even when it the vine flourisheth, and the pomegranates bud forth,” (wien saving grace is discovering itself by its kvely actings, wheresoever it is the branches on the old stock are still withered : when the dry bones are coming together, bone to bone, amongit saints, the finner's bones are still lying about the grave's mouth. They are trees that cumber the ground, are near to be cut down: and he will cu* down-for the fire, if God in mercy prevent ir not, by cutting them off from that stock, and ingrafting them into another.
Lastly, Our natural stock is a killing stock. If the stock die, how can the branches live? If the fap be gone from the root and heart, the branches must deeds wither. "In Adam all die,” 1 Cor. xv. 22. The root died in Paradise, and all the branches in it, and with it. The root is impoisoned, thence the branches come to be infected : death is in the pot, and all that taste of the pulse, or pottage are killed.
Know then, that every natural man is a branch of a killing stock. Our natural root not only gives us noc life, but it has a killing power reaching all the branches thereof. There are four things, which the first Adama conveys to all his branches; and they are abiding in, and lying on, such of them as are not ingrafted to Chrift. First, A corrupt nature : He finned, and his nature was thereby corrupted or depraved; and this corruption is conveyed to all his posterity : He was infected, and the contagion fpread itself over all his feed. Secondly, Guilt, that is an obligation to punishment, Rom. v. 21. " By one man
fin entered into the world, and death by fin: end fo death palled ** upon all men, for that all have finned." The threatnings of the law, as cords of death, are twisted about the branches of the old stock, to draw them over the hedge into the fire ; And, till they be cut off from this stock, by the pruning knife, the sword of vengeance hangs over their heads, to cut them down. T'hirdly, This killing stock transmits the curse into the branches : The stock, as the stock, (for 1 speak not of Adam in his personal and private capacity,) being.cursed; , so are the branches, Gal. ii. 18, " For as many as are of the works of the law, are under the curse." This curse affects the whole man, and all that belongs to him, every thing he poffesses; and worketh three ways. (1.) As poison infecting : thus their “ blessings are cursed;” Mal. ii. 2.
Whatever the man enjoys, it can do him no good, but evil ; being thus impoisoned by the curse. His prosperity in the world " destroys him," Prov. i. 32. The ministry of the Gospel is " a favour of death unto death,” to him, 2 Cor. ii. 16. His seeming attainments in religioni are cursed to him: his knowledge ferves bus to puff him up, and bis duries to keep him back from Chrift. (2.) It worketh as a moth, consuming and wasting by little and little, Hof. v. 12. “Therefore will I be unto Ephraim as a moth." There is a woim at the root, confuming them by degrees; Thus the curse pursued Saul, till it wormed him out of all his enjoyments, and out of the very
shew he had of religion : Sometinies they decay like the fat of lambs: and melt away as the snow in a fan-shine. (2.) It acteth as a
lion rampant,'' Hos. v. 14. “ I will be unto Ephraim as a lion," The Lord " rains on them snares, fire and brimstone, and an horrible tempeft,” in such a manner, that they are hurried away with the stream. He teareth their enjoyments from them in His wraih, pursueth them with terrors, rents their fouls from their bodies, and throws the deadned branch into the fire. Thus the curse devours like fire, which none can quench. Laftly, This killing stock transmits death to the branches upon it : Adam took the poisonous cup and drank it off : this occafioned death to liimself and us : We came into the world spiritually dead, thereby obnoxious to eternal death, and absolutely liable to temporal death; This root is to us like the Scythian river, which, they fay, brings forth little bladders every day, out of which come certain small flies, which are bred in the morning, winged at noon, and dead at nighit: a very lively emblem of our mortal state,
Now, firs, is it not absolutely neceffary to be broken off from this our natural stock? What will our fair leaves of a profession, or our fruits of duties avail, if we be stili ù:anches of ihe degenerate, dead and killing stock? But, alas ! amung the many quellions tofed among us, few are taken up about these, Whether am I broken off from the old stock, or not? Whether am I ingrafted in Christ, or not? Ab! wherefore all this waste! Why is there so much noise about religion amongst many, who can give no good account of their having laid a good foundation, being mere strangers 10 experimental religion? I fear, if God do not in mercy, tinieously undermine the religion of
of us, and let us see we have none at all; our root will be found rottennefs, and our bloffom go up as duit, in a dying hour: Therefore let us look to our state, that we be not found fools in our latter end.
II. Let us now view the fupernatural stock, in which the branches, cut off from the daturul stock, are ingrafted. Jesus Christ is sometimes called 'the Branch, Zech. ii. 8. So he is, in respect of his human nature; being a branch, and the top branch of the house of David. Sometimes.be is called . Root,' Isa. xi. 18. We have both together, Rev. xxii, 16." I am the root and the off spring of David.” David's root as God, and his offspring as man: The text tells, that he is the Vine, " i. e. he, as a Mediator, is the Vine-Stock, whereof believers are the branches. As the sap comes from the earıh into the root and stock, and from thence is diffused in the branches : fo by Christ, as
Mea, diator, divine life is conveyred from the fountain, unto these who