Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

6

them; for he is the Spirit of life, and makes them live unto

n righteousness, Ezek. xxxvi. 27. ' And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in ny statutes. These that have been planted together with Christ, in the likeness of his death, shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection,' Rom. vi. 5. At Christ's refurrection, when his foul was re-united with his body, every member of that blessed body was enabled again to perform the actions of life : so, the foul being influenced by the fanétifying Spirit of Chrift, is enabled more and more to perform all the actions of spiritual life. And as the whole of the law, and not some scraps of it only, is written on the holy heart; so believers are enabled to transcribe that law in their converfarion, And altho' they caònot write one line of it without blots ; yet God, for Christ's fake, accepts of the performances, in point of fan&tification : they being disciples to his own son, and led by his own Spirit.

This fanctifying Spirit, communicated by the Lord Jesus to his niêmbers, is the spiritual nourishment the branches have from the Stock in:o which they are ingrafted; whereby the life of grace, given them in regeneration, is preserved; cootinued and actuated. It is the nourishment whereby the new creature liv. eth and is nourished up towards perfection. Spirirual life needs to be fed, and must have supply of nourishment : and believers derive the same from Christ their head, whom the Father has constituted the head of influences to all his members, Col. ii. 19. . And nọt holding the head, from wwh all the body, by joints and bands, bave pourishment miniftred, are fupplied,' &c. Now, this fupply, is the fupply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ,' Phil. i. 196

i The faints feed richly, earing Christ's Aeth, and drinking his Blood, for their fpiritual nourishment: yet our Lord himself flachech us, thal It is the Spirit thát quickneth: even that Spirit who dwells in that bleffed body, -john vi. 63. The hųman nature is united to the divine nature, in the person of the Son, and fo (hke the bonlin Zechariah's candlestick, Zech. iv.) lies at the fountain-head, as the glorious means of conveyance of influences, from the fountain of the Deity; and receives not the Spirit by measure, but never hath a fulness of the Spirit, by reafun of that perfonal union. Hence, believers being united to the Mảo Chrilt, (as the seven Jamps to the bowl, by their seven pipes, Zech. ij. 2.) - his flesh is, to them meat indeed, and his blood drink indeed: for, feeding on that blessed budy, i. e. efa feétually applying Chrift to their fouls by faith,) they partake ore and more of that Spirit, who dwelleth therein, to their

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

a

fpiritual aourishment. The holiness of God could nerer adnie of an immediate 'union with the finful creature ; nor (consequently) an immediare communion with it: get, the creature coulu not live the life of grace, without communion with the fountain of life: Therefore, that the honour of God's holiness, and the salvation of Gioners, might jointly be provided for ; the second person of the glorious Trinity, took, into a perfooal union with himself, a figless human nature ; thacfo his holy, barnlefs, and undefiled bumanity, migbtimmediately receive a fuloess: of the Spirit, of which he might communicate to his members, by his divine power and efficacy. And like as, if there were a tree,, having its root in the earth, and its branches reaching to heaven; the vast distance betwixt the root and the branches would not interrupt the communication betwixt them. What though the parts of mystical Christ, (viz. the head and the members, are not contiguous, as joined together in the way

of a corporal union? The union is not therefore the less real and effectual. Yea, our Lord himself shews us, that a' beit we should eat his' Ach, in a corporal, and carnal manner, yet, it woald profit nothing, John.vi. 63. we would, out be one whit holier thereby. But the members of Christ on earth, are united to their head in heaven, by the invisible bond of the self-fame: Spirit dwelling in both : in him as the head, and in them as the members, even as the wheels in Ezekiel's vision, were not con, tiguous to the living creatures, yet were united to them, by an invisible bond of one fpirit in both; so that when the living: creatures went, the wheels went by that; and when the living ereatures were lift up from the earth, the wheels were lift ap, Ezek. i. 19. For,' says the Prophet, the spirit of the living creature was in the wheels,' ver. 20...

Hence, we may see the difference betwixt true fanctification, and that shadow of it, which is to be found amongst some strict -profeffors of Christianity, who yet are not true Christians, are pot regenerate by the Spirit of Christ, and is of the same kind, with what has appeared in many fobar heashenso. True fancia fication is the result of the souls union with the holy Jefus, the first and immediate receptacle of the sanctifying Spirit; out of whose fulness his members dos by virtue of their union with him receive fan&tifying influence. The other is the mere product of the man's own spirit, whichig whatever it has, or seems to have of the matter of true holidefs, yet does not arise from the supera natural principles, nor to the high aims and ends, thereof:. for, as it.comes from felf, so it runs out into the dead sea of self again ;

U 3

[ocr errors]

and

and-lies as void of true holiness, as nature doth of grace.

They who have this bastard holiness, are like common boat-men, who serve themselves with their own oars: whereas, the ship bound for Immanuel's land, sails by the blowings of the divine Spirit, Ilow is it possible ibere should be true fanctification without Chrift? Can there be true sanctification, without partaking of the Spirit of bolinefs? Can we partake of that Spirit, but by Jesus Christ, the way, the truth, and the life?' The falling dew Thall foon make its way through the flinty rock, as in. fuences of

grace fhall come from God:o finners, in no other way, but through him whom the Father has constituted the head of influences, Col. i. 15. For it pleased the Father, that in him should all fulnefs dwell: and, chap. ii. 19. “And not holding the head, from which all the body, by joints and bands, having nourishment miniftred, and kvit together, increaseth with the increase of God. Hence fee how it comes to pafs, that many

away, from their secming fanctification, and never tecover : It is because they are not branches truly knir tu the true vine. Meanwhile, others recover from tbeir decays; becaufe of their union with the life giving stock, by the quickning Spirit, 1 John ii. 19. They went out from us, but They were not of us: for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us."

A Fifth benefit is Growth in Grace. Having nourishment miniftred, they increase with the increase of God, Col. ii. 19. * The righteous fhall fourish like the palm-tree, he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon,' Pfal. xcii. 12. Grace is of a growing, niature : in the way to Zion, they go from strength to ftrength. Though the holy man be at first a liule child in grace, yet ac length he becames a young man, a father, 1 John ii. 13. Thos be does but creep in the way to heaven fonetimes; yet after-wards, he walks, he runs, he mounts up with wings as eagles,' Ifa. xl. 31. If a branch grafted into a ftock, never grows, it is a plain evidence of its not having knit with the stock..

Bue fonte may perhaps fày, ' If all 11 de Christians be growing: bnes, what shall be laid of these,, who instead of growing aregoing back ? 1 answers Tirft There is a great diference be-tween the Chriftian's growing fimply, and his growing at aldi times. All rue Christians do grow, but do not say, they grow at all times, A tree that has life and nourishment, grows : to its perfeétion, yet it is not always growing :: ir grows not in, be winter, Chriftians also have their winters, wherein the in Ruenges of grace, necessary for growth, are ceased, Cant. 1. 2.

a

6

[ocr errors]

" I fleep.' It is by faith, the believer derives gracious influence from Jesus Christ ; like as cach lamp in the candiestick received oil from the bowl, biy the pipe guing betwixt them, Zech. iv, 2. Now, if that pipe be- ftope, if the saints faith ly dormant and unactive; then all the reft of the graces will become cim, and seem ready to be extinguished. In; confequence whereof, depraved nature will gather Strength, and become active. What then will become of the foul? Why, there is ftill one fure ground of hope. The faint's faith is not as the hypocrite's, like a pipe jaid thort of the fountain, whereby there can be no conveyance : it still remains a bond of union bitwixt Chrift and the foul ; and therefore, becaufe Christ lives; the believer thall live also,'. John xiv.-19. The Lord Jesus purs in iiis hand by the hole of the door, and clears the means of conveyance : and then influences for growth flow, and the believer's graces look fresh and green again, Hof. xiv, 7. “ l'hey that dwell under his shadow, Ahall return : they shall revive as the corn, and grow as the vind.' In the worst of times, the faines have a principle of growih in them, 1 John iij. De' His feed remaineth io him.' And therefore after decays, they revive again : namely, when the winter is over, and the Sun of righteousness returns to them with his warm ir:fluences. Mud thrown into a pool, may ly there at ease ; but if it be cast into a fountain, the spring will at length work it out, and run clear as formerly. Secondly, Christians may miftake their growth, and that two ways. (1.) By judging of their cafe according to their present feeling., They observe theinselves, and cannot perceive themselves ia 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 nat how.' Should one fix his eyes ever so steadfastly an the fun ruoning his race, or on a growing tree; he would Bot perceive the suo moving, or the iree growing:: but, if he compare the tree as it now is, with what is was some years ago; and consider the place in the heavens, where the sun was in the morning; he will certainly perctive the tree has grown, and the fun has mored. lo like manner may the Christian know, whether he be in a growing or declining state, by comparing his present with bis former condition. (2.) Christians may mitake their cafe, by measuring their growth by the advances of the kop only, not: of the roots. Though a man be not growing uller, he may be growing Aronger.. If a tree be taking with the ground, fixing itself in the earth, and fpreading out its roots; it is certainly growing, although it be nothing taller than

for

a

Το

formerly. So, albeit a Christian. may want the sweet confolation and fathes of affection, which sometimes he has had; yet if he be growing in humility, felf-denial, and a sense of needy dependence on Julus Chrift, he is a grosing Chriftian, Hof. xiv. 5. • I will be as the dew unto Israel, he shall cast forth his roots. as Lebanon.'

Queft. · But do hypocrites grow at all? And if so, how shall we diuinguilh bei wixi their growth, and true Chriftian growth? Anf. To the first part of the question, 'hypocrites do grow. The tares have alreir growth, as well as the wheat : and the seed that fell among thorns did spring up,' Luke siii. 7. only it did bring no fruit to perfection, ver. 14. Yea, a true Christian day have a falfe growth. James and lobo. seemed to grow in the geace of holy zeal, when their spirits grew so hot in the cause of Christ, that they would have fired whole villages, for not receiving their Lord and Master, Luke ix. 54. They faid, Lord, wilt thou that we comniand fire to come down from heaven, to confume them, even as Elias did ? But it was indeed no fuch thing : and therefore he turned and rebuked them, ver. 55 and said, “Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of.? the second part of the question, it is answered, that there is ai. peculiar beauty in true Christian growth, distinguishing it from all falfe growth: it is univerfal, 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 righteousness, believers grow up as calves in the stall,' Mal. iv. 2. Ye would think it a monstrous growth, in these crea. tures, if ye saw their heads grow, and not their bodies faw one leg grow, and another not: if all the parts, dodot grow proportionably. Ay, bur such is the growth of many in reli. gion. They grow like rickery childreo, who have a big head, but a slender body: they get more knowledge in their heads but no more holiness in their hearts and lives :. They 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 ftrangers to the power of godlioefs as ever. If a garden is watered with the hand, fome of the plants will readily get much, some little, and fumé no: water at all ; and therefore fome, wither, while others ate coming forward: but after a shower from the clouds, all come fora ward together. In like manner, all the graces of the Spirit, **0w proportionably, by the fpecial influences of divide grace.

The

[ocr errors]

a

; or if

ye:

a

a

« AnteriorContinuar »