« AnteriorContinuar »
God, through faith unto falvation,' 1 Pet. i. 5. Hypocrites mag fo fall, so as to fall off, and fall into the pit, as a bucket falls into a well when the ch:'in breaks. But though the child of God
may fall, and that fo low as the water goes over his head; yet there is still a bond of union berwixt Christ and him : the chain is not broken : he will not go to the ground: he will be drawn up again, Luke xxii, 31. 12.' And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, Satan hath desired to have you, that he might lift you as wheat; but, I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not.' (2.) The falls of the saints flow from their por 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 chilt in her arms, it cannot fall to the ground: yet if the unwary child hold not by her, it may fall backwards in her arms, to its great hurt. Thùs David's fall broke!
his bones, Plal, li. 8. but did it not. 'break the bond of union betwixt Christ and him : The holy Spirit, the bond of that union, was not taken from him, ver. 11.
The last benefit I shall name, is, The special care of the husbandman, Juho`xv. 1, 2. · I am the true vine, and my Fan ther is the husbandman.--Every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.' Believers; by virtue of their union with Christ, are the objects of God's special care and providence. Myftical Christ is God's vine, other fow cieties in the world are but wild olive-trees. The men of the world are but God's out-field; the saiots are his vineyard, which he has a special property in, and a special concern for, Canta viii, 12. My vineyard, which is mine, is before me,' He that Lumbers not nor fleeps, is the keeper of it,' he does keep it left any hurt it, he will keep it night and day :' he io whose hand is the dew of heaven,' will water it every moment, lla. xxvii. 3 He dresscth and purgeth it, in order to further fruitfulnels, John xv. 2. He cuts off the luxuriant: twigs that mar the fruitfuluess of the branch. This is done, especially by the word, and by the cross of afflictions. The faints need the ministry of the word, as much as the vineyard needeth one to dress and. pruve the viness I Cor. iii. 2. "We are labourers together with: God: ye are God's husbandry, ye are God's building." - And. they need the crofs too, I Pet. i. 6.
And therefore, if we thould reckon the cross among the benefits flowing to believers from their union with Chrift, I. judge, we should not reckon it amifs. Sure I am, in their fuf forings they suffer with him, Rom. viii. 17 And tbc affurances
they have of the cross, have rather the nature of a promise, as
his-crossdaily: Yea, he must take up his holy day's cross too, Lam. ii. 22. «Thou hast called, as in a folemo day, my terrors round: about." -The church of the Jews had, of a long time, many a. plealing meeting at the temple, on folemn days, for the worship of God: but they got a folemnity of another nature, when God: called together, about the temple and city, the Chaldean army that burnt the temple, andi laid Jerusalem on heaps. And now that the church of God is yet militant in this lower région, how can it be but ihe clouds will return after the rain ? Bur the crossof Christ (which name the saints. troubles do bear) is a kindly. nâme to the believeri. It is a cross indeed: but not to-tht be... liever's graces, but to his corruptions. The hypocrite's feem. ing graces may indeed breathe out their last-on a cross, as these: of the stony ground hearers did, Mat. xiii, 67. And when the fun (of: persecution, ver, 26.)- was up, they were scorched : And because they had not root, they wiikered-away. But never did one of the real graces-in a believer die upon the cross
. yet. Nay, the candle shines brightest in the night, and the fire burns fiercelt-in intense frost : So the believer's-graces ares, ordinarily, most vigorous in a time of trouble.
There is a certain pleasure and sweetness in the cross, to them : who have their senses exercised to discern, and to find it outá . There is a certain sweetness in one's feeing himself upon his trials for heaven, and standing candidate for glory. There is a pleafure in travelling over these mountains, where the Christian can see the prints of Christ's owo feet, and the footsteps of the flock,.. who have been there before them. How.pleasant is it to a Saint
on, as there
in the exercise of grace, to fee how a good God crosseth his corrupt inclinations, and prevents his folly! How sweet is it tò behold these thieves upon the cross ! How refined a pleasure is there in observing how God draws away provision from unruly lutts, and so pincherh Dipem, that the Chriftian may gte
them governed ! Of a tru!h there is a paradise within this thorn hedge. Many, a time the people of God are in-bonds, which are never Icoled, till they be bound with cords of affliction. God takes them, 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 then, he will put in a second, a third, and so 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 cross is the happiest foot they can meet with : and well may they falute it, as David did Abigail, saying, Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, which fent thee this day to meet me,' 1 Sam. xxv. 32. Wordly things are often such a load to the Christian, that he moves but very flowly heaven: ward. God sends a wind of trouble shar 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.
I will also leave in the midst of thee, an amicted and poor people, and they fhall trust in the name of the Lord." It was an observe of an heathen moralist, That'no history makes mention of any man, who hath been made better by riches.? I doubt if our modern histories can supply the defect of ancient histories in this point. But sure Lam, many have been the wolfe, of riches; thousands have been hugged io death, in the embraces of a smiling worid; and many good men have got wounds from 'outward prosperity, that behoved to be cured by the cross. I remember to bave read of one, who baving an imposthume in his breast, had in vain used the help of physicians: but being wounded with a sword, the impofthume broke ; and his life was saved by that accident, which threatned immediate death. Often have spiritual impofthumes gathered in the breasts of God's people, in time of our ward prosperity, and been thus broken and discussed by the cross. It is kindly for believers to be healed by stripes ; although they are usually so weak as to cry out for féar, at the fight 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 shall now conclude, addresling myself in a few words, first
1. To you that are faints, I say,
and holy obedience. Beware of estrangement betwixt Christ and your fools. If it has gut in already, (which seems to be the cale of many in this day,) endeavour to get it removed. There are multitudes in the world, that night Chrift, though ye Mould not flight him: many have turned their backs on him, that sometimes looked fair for heaven. The warm fun of outward peace, and prosperity, has caused some cast their cloak of religion from them, who held it falt when the wind of trouble was blowing upon them : and will ye also go away?' John vi. 67. The greatest ingratitude is ftamped on your Bighting of communion with Christ, Jer. ii. 31,' Have I been a wilderness unto Ifrael; a land of darkness; Wherefore say my people, We are lords, we will come no more unto thee?' Oh! beloved, Is this your kindness to your friend? It is unbecom ng any wife, to light converse with her husband, but her especially who was taken from a prison or a dunghill, as ye wire, by our Lørd?. But remember, I pray you, this is a very ill-chosen time to live at a distance from God: it is a time in which divine providence frowns upon the land we live ins; the clouds of wrath are gathering, and are thick above our heads! It is not a time for you. to be out of your chambers, Ifa. Xxvi. 20. They that now are walking most closely with God, may have enough ado to land when the trial comes; how hard will it be for others ther, who are like to be surprised with troubles, when guilt is lying on their consciences unremoved. To be awaked out of a found fleep, and calt into a raging fea, as Jovah was, wil be a fearful trial. To feel trouble before we fee it coming, to be part hope before we have any fear, is a very fad case. Wherefore, break down your idols of jealousy, mortify these lusts, these irregular apperites and desires, that have stolen away your hearts, and left
you, like Samson, without his hair, and say, ' I will go return to my first husband; for th:n it was better with me, than now,' Hof, ii. 7.
Secondly, Walk as becomes those that are united to Cirist. Evidence your union with him, by- walking as he also walked;' 1 Joha ii. 6. If ye be brought from under the power of dark.
ness, let your light thine before men. Shine as lights in the world, holding forth the word of life,' as the lanthorn holds the candle, which being in it, hines through it, Philip. ii. 15. 16. Now that ye profefs Christ to be in you, let his image shine 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 jhat is married, careth how she may please her husband.' Go you and do likewise : " Walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing,' Col. i. 10. This is the grear business of life ; you must please him, though it should displease all the world. What he hates, must be hate. ful to you, because he hates it. Whateverlusts come in fuit of your hearts, deny them, 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 cboice to make, it is made already; and you must not dishonour your Head. A man takes care of his feet, for that, if he catch cold there, it fies up to his head. "Shall I lhen take the members of Christ, and make them the members of an harlot? God forbid,' says the apostle, i Cor. vi. 15. Wilt thou take that heart of thine, which is Christ's dwelling place, and lodge his enemies there? Wilt thou take that body which is his temple, and defle it by using the members thereuf, as the instruments of Gin ?
2. Be careful to bring forth fruit, and much fruit. The branch well laden with fruit, is the glory of the vine, and of the hulbandman too, John xv. 8. • Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit, so Mall ye be my disciples."- A barren tree stands fafer in a wood, than an orchard: And branches in Christ that bring not forth fruit, will be taken away and cast into the fire.
2. Be heavenly minded, and maintain a holy contempt of the world. Ye are united to Christ, he is your Head and Husband, and is in heaven; therefore your hearts should be there. also, Col. jii. 10 • If ye then be rifen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ fitreth at the right hand of God.' Let the serpeni's feed go on their belly, and eat the dust of this earth: but let the members of Christ be ashamed to bow down and feed with them.
4. Live and act dependently; depending by faith on Jesus Christ. That which grows on its own root, is a tree, not a branch : It is of the nature of a branch, to depend on the lock for all, and to derive all its fap from thence. Depend on him