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dam, and while he is repairing breaches in it, and strengthening every part of it, a mighty flood comes down, overturns his work, and drives all away before it, as well what was newly laid, as what was laid before. Read Rom. vii. 8, 9, 10, 13. This is a stroke which goes to the heart; and by it his hope of getting himself more fit to come to Christ is cut off.
Lastly, Now the time is come, when the man, betwixt hope and despair, resolves to go to Christ as he is; and, therefore, like a dying man stretching himself, just before his breath goes out, he rallies the broken forces of his
tries to believe, and, in some sort, lays hold on Jesus Christ. And now the branch hangs on the old stock, by one single tack of a natural faith, produced by the natural vigour of one's own spirit, under a most pressing neces. sity, Psal. lxxviii. 34, 35. “ When he slew them, then they sought him ; and they returned and enquired early after God. And they remembered that God was their rock, and the high God their redeemer.” Hos. viii. 2. “ Israel shall cry unto me, My God, we know thee.” But the Lord minding to perfect his work, fetches yet another stroke, whereby the branch falls quite off. The Spirit of God convincingly discovers to the sinner his utter inability to do any thing that is good; and so he dieth, Rom. vii. 9. That voice powerfully strikes through his soul, “ How can ye believe ?" John v. 44. Thou canst no more believe, than thou canst reach up thine hand to heaven, and þring Christ down from thence. And thus, at length, he sees he can neither help himself, by working nor believe ing; and having no more to hang by, on the old stock, he therefore falls off. And while he is thus distressed, seeing himself like to be swept away with the flood of God's wrath ; and yet unable so much as to stretch forth a hand, to lay hold of a twig of the tree of life, growing on the banks of the river, he is taken up and ingrafted into the true Vine, the Lord Jesus Christ giving him the Spirit of faith,
By what has been said on this head, I désign not to rack or distress tender consciences ; for though there are but few such, at this day, yet God forbid I should offend any of Christ's little ones. But, alas ! a dead sleep is fallen upon this generation; they will not be awakened, let us
go as near the quick as we will; and, therefore, I fear there is another sort of awakening abiding this sermorproof generation, which shall make the ears of them that hear it 'to tingle. However, I would not have this to be looked upon as the sovereign God's stinted method of breaking off sinners from the old stock ; but this I assert, as a certain truth, that all who are in Christ have been broken off from all these several confidences; and that they who were never broken off from them are yet in their natural stock. Nevertheless, if the house be pulled down, and the old foundation razed, it is all one, whether it was taken down stone by stone, or undermined, and all fell down together.
Now it is, that the branch is ingrafted in Jesus Christ. And, as the law, in the hand of the Spirit of God, was the instrument to cut off the branch from the natural stock, so the gospel, in the hand of the same Spirit, is the instrument used for ingrafting it into the supernatural stock, 1 John i. 3. “That which we have seen and heard, declare we unto you ; that .ye also may have fellowship with us: And truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son, Jesus Christ.” See Isaiah Ixi. 1, 2, 3. The gospel is a silver cord let down from heaven, to draw perishing sinners to land. And, though the preaching of the law prepares the way of the Lord, yet it is in the word of the gospel that Christ and a sinner meet. Now, as in the natural grafting, the branch being taken up, is put into the stock, and being put into it, takes with it; and so they are united ; even so in the spiritual ingrafting, Christ apprehends the sinner; and the sinner being apprehended of Christ, apprehends him; and so they become one, Phil. iii. 12.
First, Christ apprehends the sinner by his Spirit, and draws him to himself, 1 Cor. xii. 13. « For by one Spirit, we are all baptized into one body.” The same Spirit which is in the Mediator himself, he communicates to his elect in due time; never to depart from them, but to abide in them, as a principle of life. Thus he takes hold of them, by his own Spirit put into them; and so the withered branch gets life. The soul is now in the hands of the Lord of life, and possessed by the Spirit of file ; how then can it but live? The man gets a ravishing sight of Christ's excellency, in the glass of the gospel : He sees him à full, suitable, and willing Saviour; and gets a heart to take him for, and instead of all. The Spirit of faith furnisheth him with feet to come to Christ, and hands to receive him. What by nature he could not do, by grace he can; the Holy Spirit working in him the work of faith with power.
Secondly, The sinner thus apprehended, apprehends Christ by faith, and so takes with the blessed stock, Eph. ji. 17. “ That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith." The soul that before tried many ways of escape, but all in vain, doth now look again, with the eye of faith, which proves the healing look. As Aaron's rod, laid up in the tabernacle, budded and brought forth buds, (Num. xvü. 8.) so the dead branch, apprehended by the Lord of life, put into, and bound up with, the glorious quickening stock, by the Spirit of life, buds forth in actual believing on Jesus Christ, whereby this union is completed : “ We having the same spirit of faith-believe," 2 Cor. iv. 13. Thus the stock and the graft are united, Christ and the Christian are married ; faith being the soul's consent to the spiritual marriage-covenant, which, as it is proposed in the gospel to mankind sinners indefinitely, so it is demonstrated, at.. tested, and brought home, to the man in particular, by the Holy Spirit, and so he, being joined to the Lord, is one spirit with him. Hereby a believer lives in and for Christ, and Christ lives in and for the believer, Gal. ii. 20. 6 I am crucified with Christ. Nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me." Hos. iii. 3. “ Thou shalt not be for another man, so will I also be for thee.” The bonds then of this blessing union are, the Spirit on Christ's part, and faith on the believer's part.
Now, both the souls and bodies of believers are united to Christ : « He that is joined to the Lord is one spirit," i Cor. vi. 17. The very bodies of believers have this honour put upon them, that they are the temples of the Holy Ghost, ver. 19. And the members of Christ, ver. 15. When they sleep in the dust, they sleep in Jesus, 1 Thes. iv. 14. And it is in virtue of this union, they shall be raised up out of the dust again, Rom. viü. 11. “ He shall quicken your mortal bodies, by his Spirit, that dwelleth in you.” In token of this mystical union, the church of believers is called
by the name of her Head and Husband, 1 Cor. xii. 12. « For as the body is one, and hath many members,—so also is Christ.”
Use. From what is said, we may draw these following Inferences.
1. The preaching of the law is most necessary. He that would ingraft must needs use the snedding knife. Sinners have many shifts to keep them from Christ; many things by which they keep their hold of the natural stock; there. fore, they have need to be closely pursued, and hunted out of their sculking holes, and refuge of lies.
2. Yet, it is the gospel that crowns the work; the law makes nothing perfect. The law lays open the wound, but it is the gospel that heals. The law strips a man, wounds him, and leaves him half dead: The gospel binds
his wounds, pouring in wine and oil, to heal them. By the law we are broken off; but, it is by the gospel we are taken up, and implanted in Christ.
3. “ If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his,” Rom. vii. 9. We are told of a monster in nature, having two bodies differently animated, as appeared from contrary affections at one and the same time; but so united, that they were served with the self-same legs. Even so, however men may cleave to Christ, call themselves of the holy city, and stay themselves upon the God of Israel, Fsa. xlvii. 2. and they may be bound
up as branch es in him, John xv. 2. by the outward ties of sacraments; yet, if the Spirit that dwells in Christ dwell not in them, they are not one with him. There is a great difference betwixt adhesion and ingrafting. The ivy clasps and twists itself about the oak, but it is not one with it, for it still
grows on its own root; so, to allude to Isaiah iv. 1. many professors take hold of Christ, and eat their own bread, and wear their own apparel, only they are called by his name. They stay themselves upon him, but grow upon their own root ; they take him to support their hopes, but their delights are elsewhere.
4. The union betwixt Christ and his mystical members is firm and indissolvable. Were it so that the believer on ly apprehended Christ, but Christ apprehended not him; we could promise little on the stability of such an union ; it might quickly be dissolved : But as the believer appre
hends Christ by faith, so Christ apprehends him by his Spirit, and none shall pluck him out of his hand. Did the child only keep hold of the nurse, it might at length weary and let go its hold, and so fall away; but if she have her arms about the child, it is in no hazard of falling away, even though it be not actually holden by her: So, whatever sinful intermissions may hapnen in the exercise of faith, yet the union remains sure, by reason of the con. stant indwelling of the Spirit. Blessed Jesus ! all his saints are in thy hand, Deut. xxxiii. 3. It is observed by some, that the word Abba is the
read it forward or backward. Whatever the believer's case be, the Lord is still to him, Abba, Father.
Lastly, They have an unsure hold of Christ, whom he has not apprehended by his Spirit. There are many halfmarriages here, where the soul apprehends Christ, but is not apprehended of him. Hence many fall away, and never rise again ; they let go their hold of Christ; and when that is gone, all is gone. These are the branches in Christ, that bear not fruit, which the husbandman taketh away, John xv. 2.-Quest. How can that be ?
-Ans. These branches are set in the stock, by a profession, or an unsound hypocritical faith; they are bound up with it, in the external use of the sacraments; but the stock and they are never knit ; therefore, they cannot bear fruit. And they need not be cut off, nor broken off ; they are by the husbandman only taken away, or (as the word primarily signifies) lifted up'; and so taken away, because there is nothing to hold them. They are indeed bound up
with the stock; but they have never united with it.
Quest. How shall I know if I am'apprehended of Christ?
, he is so drawn, that he comes away to Christ with his whole heart; for true believing is believing with all the heart, Acts viii. 37. Our Lord's followers are like those who followed Saul at first, men whose hearts God has touched, 1 Sam. X. 26. When the Spirit pours overcoming grace, they pour out their hearts like water before him, Psal. Ixü. 8. They fow unto him like a river, Isa. ii. 2. “ All nations shall now unto it;".