« הקודםהמשך »
one word, their fruits, are fruits of an ill tree, that cannot be accepted in beaven:
2dly, Our natural flock is a dead stock, according to the threat. .. Ring, Gen. ii. 17. in the day thou eateft thereof, thou shalt surely die. Our root now is rottenness, no marvel t'he blossom go up as duit. ' The stroke is gone to the heart; the fap is let out, and the tree is withered. The curse of the first covenant, like a hot thunderbolt from heaven has lighted on it, and ruined it. It is cursed now as the fig-tree, Match. xxi. 19. Let no fruit grow on thee, henceforth for ever. Now it is good for nothing, but to cumber the ground, and furnish fuel for Tophet.
Let me colarge a little here also. Every unrenewed man is a branch of a dead stock. When thou seeft, 0 sinnet, 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 mult needs be! barren. Alas! che barrenness of many professors plainly discovers on what stock they are growing. Ii is easy to pretend to faith, y but shew me chy faith without thy works, if thou canst, James ii. 17, (2) A dead stock can convey no sap to the branches, to make chem bring forch fruit. The covenant of works was the bond of our y 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 bied heavy burdens on the shoulders of those who are not in Chrift; but it affords no strength to bear them. The fap that was once in the root, is now gone: and the law, like a merciless creditor, apprehends" Adam's heirs, saying, Pay what thou oweft; when, alas! his effects are riotously spent (3.) All pains and cost are loft on the cree, 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 gardiner's pains are lost: ministers lose their labour on the branches of the old Itock, while they continue in it. Many fermons are
preached to no purpose; because there is no life to give sensation. - Sleeping men may be awakened; but the dead cannot be raised Ek without a miracle: even so, the dead sinner must remain fo, if he be not restored to life, by a miracle of grace. i
Secondly, The influences of heaven are left 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 not bettered. Bruise the food in a mortar, his folly will not depart. Tho' he meets with many crofles, yet. he retains his lutts; let him be laid on a lick-bed, he will there ly like a sick bealt, groaning under his pain; but not mourning for, nor curning from his lin, Let death itself ftare him in the facc; he will prelumpiuously mainta's his hope, as if he would look the grim messenger out of countenance. Sometimes there are common operations of the divine Spirit performed on bim: he is sent home
with a trembling heart ; and with arrows of conviction sticking in his soul; but at length he prevails againit these things, and turns as securc as ever. Thirdly, Suinmer and winter are alike to the branches of the dead Nock. 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 are alive; but the spring plainly discovers it. There are some seasons, wherein there is little life to be perceived, even among Tainos; yet times of reviving come at length. But even when the vine flourisheth, and the pomegranates bud forth (when saving grace is discovering itself, by its lively a&ings, wheresoever it is) the branches on clie old stock are till withered: when the dry "bones are coming together, bone to bone, amongst saints; the finners bones are still lying about the grave's mouth. They are trees that cumber the ground, are near to be cut down: and will be cut down for the fire, if God in mercy prevent it noe by cutting them off from that stock, and ingrafting them into another.
Lastly, Our natural stock is a killing tock. If the lock dle, how can the branches live? If the fap be gone from the root and heart, tbe branches must needs wither. In Adam all die, i Cor. xv. 22. The root died in Paradise; and all the branches in it, and with it. The root is inpoisoned, thence the branches come to be infected: death is in the pot; and all that taste of the pulse, or potrage are killed. . Know then, chat every natural man is a branch of a killing stock. Our natural root not only gives is not life, but it has a killing power reaching all the branches thereof. There are four chings, which the first Adam conveys to all his branches; and they are abihing in, and lying on, such of them as are not ingrafted to Chrift. Fift, A corrupe nature. He ligned, and his nature was thereby corrupted or depraved; and this corruption is conveyed to all bis polierity. H: was infected, and the contagion spread itself over al: bis leed. Secondly, Guilt, that is an obligation to punishment, R !, V 21. Bron: man sin entered into the world, and death by fi: and death pulled upon all men, for that all have finned. The threatwings 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; che (word of vengeance hangs over their heads, to cut them down. Thirdly, This killing stock transmits the curse into the branches. The itock, as the fock. (for I speak noc of Adam in his personal and private capacity) being curled; fo are the branches, Gal. iii. 10. For as many as are of the works of the lunu, are under the curse. This curle atfects the whole man, and all that bclongs to lum, every thing he poefles; and worketh bree ways. (1. As poison, infedting: thus their bleffings are cursed, Mal ii. 2. Whatever the igau enjoys, it can do hm 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 frivour of death unto death, to him, 1 2 Cor. ii. 16. His feening attainments in religion are cursed to
him: bis knowledge serve's but to'puff him up, and his duties to keep.bim back from Chrilt. (2.) It workeih 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 worm at the root, consumiug them by degrees. Thus the curse pursued Saul, till it wormed him out of all his enjoyments, and out of the very thew he had of religion. Sometimes they decay like the fat of lambs, and melt away as the snow in a fun-fhine (2.) It acterh as a lion rampant, tol. v. 14 I will be unto Ephraim us a lion. The Lord rains on them frares fire and brimstone, and an horrible tempest, in such a manner, thao chey are hurried away with the streamn. He teareth their enjoya ments from them in his wrath, pursuech them with rerrors, rents their souls from their bodies, and throws the deadned branch into the fire. Thus the curse devours like fire, which none can quench. Lasly, This killing stock transmits death to the branches upon it. Adam took the poisonous cup, apd drunk it off: this occafioned , death to himself and us. We came into the world spiritually dead, thereby obnoxious co eternal death, and absolutely liable to temporal deach. This root is to us like the Scythian river, which,', They say, brings forth little bladders every day, out of which come. certain imall flies, which are bred in the morning, winged at noon, and dead at night: a very lively emblem of our mortal state.
Now, Sirs, is it not absolurely necessary 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 still branches of the degenerate, dead and killing stock? But, alas! among the many questions coffed anong us, few are taken up about there," Whether am I broken * off from the old stock, or not. Whether am I ingrafted in " Chrift, or not?" Ah! 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 Itran. : gers to experimental religion? I fear, if God do not, in mercy, timeoufly undermine the religion of many of us, and let us see we. have none at all;: our root will be found rorcennels, and our blossom go up as dust, in a dying hour. Therefore, let us look to our ftate, that we be not found fools in our latter end..
11. Let us now view she fupernatural stockin which the branches, cut off from the natural stock, are ingrafted. Jesus Christ is fome. times 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 he is called a root, Ifa. xi. 10. we have both together, Rev.xxii, 16. I am the root, and the off-spring of David: 'David's rost, as. God; and his off-spring, as man. The text tells, that he is the Ving: i. e. he, as Mediator, is the vine-stock, whereof believers
rated by the this discharginhare their diltinbaut spot i
are the branches. ' As the sap comes from the earth into the root and stock, and from thence is diffused into the branches; so by Christ, as Mediator, diviac life is conveyed froin the fountain unto these who are united to him by faith, John vi 57 As the living Father hath fout me, and I live by the Father: fo he that eateth me, even he shall live by me. Now Christ is Mediatur, not as God only, as fone have alerted : nor yet as man only, as the Papifts gene. rally hold: but he is Mediator as God-man, Acts xx. 28 The church of God, which he bath purchased with his blood. Heb. ix 14. Christ, who, through the eternal Spirit, offered himself without spot to Cod. The divine and human natures have'their distinct adings, yet a joint operation in this, discharging the office of a Mediator. This is illustrated by the fimilitude of a fiery sword, which at once cuts and burns: cutting it burneth, and burniug it cuireth; the
feel cuts, and the fire burns. Whercfore Christ, God-man, is the ~ stock, whereof believers are the branches; and they are united to .
whole Christ. They are united to him in his human nature, as bo. ing members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones, Eph. v. 30. and they are united to him in his divine nature; for so the Apostle speaks of this union, Col.i. 27. Cbrift, in you, the hope of glory. And by him they are united to the Father, and to the Holy Ghoft, 1 John iv. 15. Whofoever fball confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God. Faich, the bond of this union, receives whole Chrift, God-man: and so upites us to him as such. · Behold here, I believers, your bigle privilege. Ye were once branches of a degenerate stock, even as others: but years by grace, become branches of the true Vine, John XV. I. Ye are cut out of a dead and killing Stoek; and ingrafted in the last Adam, who was made a quickning Spirit, 1 Cor. xv. 45. Your loss by the first Adam is made up, with great advantage, by your union with the second. Adam, at his best estate, was but a shrub, in comparison with Christ the tree of life. He was but a servant, Christ is the Son, the Heir, and Lord of all things, the Lord from heaven. It cannot be denied, that grace was down in the first covenanı: but it is as far exceeded by the grace of the second covenant, as the twilight' is, by the light of the mid-day. ' ' ;
III. What branches are taken out of the natural rock, and grafced into this Vine ? Anf These are the elect, and none other. They, and they only, are grafted into Chrift; and consequently none but they are cut off from the killing stock. For them alone he interceeds, that they may be one in him, and his father, John xvii: 9, 23. Faith, the bond of this union, is given to none else: it is the faith of God's clect, Tit. i. 1. The Lord passed by many branches growing on the natural stock, and cuts off only here one, and there one, and grafts them into the true Vine, according as free love hath determined. Oft does be pitch upon the most unlikely branch, leaving the top-boughs; paffing by the mighty, and the
noble, and calling the weak, base, and despised, i Cor i. 26, 27. Yea, he often leaves the fair and smooth, and takes the rugged and knotty, and such were some of you, but ye are wajned, &c. I Cor. yi 11. If ye enquiré, why so? We find no other reason but because they were chosen in him, Eph. i.4. Predestinated to the adoption of children, by Jesus Christ, ver. 5. Thus are chey gathered together in Christ: while the rest are left growing on their natural stock, to be after.' wards bound up in bundles for the fire. Wherefore, to whomsoever the gospel may come in vain, it will have a blest effect on God's elect, Acts xiii. 48. As many as were ordained to eternal life, believed! Where the Lord has much people, the gospel will have much success, Tooner or latcer. Such as are to be saved, will be added to the mystical body of Christ.
How the branches are taken out of the natural Stock, and ingrafted
into the supernatural Stock. ..
IV. I am, to few how the branches are cut off from the natural stock, the firti Adam, and grafted into the true Vine, the Lord Jesus Christ. Thanks to the husbandman, not to the branch, tha it is cut off frein its natural flock, and ingrafted into a new one. The finner, in his coming off from the first stock, is passive; and neither can nor will come off from it of his own accord; buc clings to it, till almighty power make him to fall off, John vi. 44. No man can come unto me, except the Father which hath sent me, draw bin. And chap. v. 40. Ye will not come to me, that ye might have life. The ingrafted branches are God's husbandry, i Cor. iii. 9. The planting of the Lord, Isa. Ixi. 3. The ordinary means he makes use of in this work, is the ministry of the word, 1 Cor. iii 9 We are labourers together with God. But the efficacy thereof is wholly from him, whatever the minister's part or piecy be, ver. 7. Neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth: but God that givetlo the increase. The Apostle preached to the Jews, yet the body of that people remained in infidelity, Rom. x. 16. Who hath believed our report? Yea, Christ bimself, who spoke as never man spoke, faith concerning the success of his own ministry, I have laboured in vain, I have spent my strength for nought, Ila. xlix. The branches may be hacked by the preaching of the word: but the stroke will never go through, till it be carried home on them, by an omniporent arm. However God's ordinary way is, by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe, i Cor. i. 21.
The cutting off of the branch from the natural stock, is performed by the prunning knife of the law, in the hand of the Spirit of God, Gal. ii. 19. For 1, through the law, am dead to the law. It is by the bond of the covenant of works, as I said before, that we are knit to our natural stock; and therefore, as a wife, unwilling to be put away, pleads and hangs by the marriage tie; so do inen by the
tencer go throue by the preength for noen mini