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dressed as the vine: for as every branch that beareth not fruit is taken away, so should every fruitless member be cut off from the church: according to which figure St. Paul speaks-I would they were even cut off that trouble you : lest the rotten branches, by remaining upon the tree, should make it perish down to the root. Every branch, that beareth fruit, the Father purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. To him that hath, more is given ; more grace and divine knowledge is bestowed upon him, that' his fruit
may be thereby increased, cleansed and perfected : for, adds our blessed Saviour, ye are clean, through the word which I have spoken unto you.
From these parallel places of holy Scripture we may understand, that if the vine is the mystical body of Christ; its tender grapes, like the green-figs, will denote the early fruits to be put forth by the church upon its first reception to the christian faith. The good smell ascribed to them, denotes their acceptance with God; who is delighted with every good work brought forth in Christ, and will, for his sake only, impute it to us for our eternal justification.
XIX. Every Christian, who considers these things, should enquire, how far this mystical description of the privileges to which we are admitted under the gospel is fulfilled in his own heart; whether he is sensible of these great blessings, and thankful to God for calling him to this state of salvation.
XX. Let him reflect in the first place, whether he hath rightly understood the terrors of the law of Moses, and those denunciations of wrath, which were published against all transgressors at mount Sinai : for these will continue in force against himself, unless he can find deliverance and safety in that man whom God hath appointed as a refuge from storm and from rain. He becomes a refuge to us by means of his church, his word, and his sacraments: so that if we fail not to take due advantage of these, we may then be assured (upon the best grounds) that our winter is past, the rain over and gone : for there is no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus: who are found in him, not having their own righteousness which is of the law, but the righteousness which is of God by faith.
XXI. It is also his duty to be very careful, that the roots of Christian Graces, which cc 3
God hath planted in his heart, be cherished and improved every day. No ill weeds must be suffered to prevail so far as to defile and overpower the conscience; nor any thorns and briars of worldly cares choak the word of God, and render it unfruitful. His garden must not lie without order or culture, like that of of the sluggard, lest God, in just judgment, should withhold the dew of his grace, and forbid the true light to shine any more upon it for ever.
XXII. When he imitates the cheerfulness of the birds in singing psalms and spiritual songs of thanksgiving to the Father of lights ; he should make proper distinctions, and consider which will agree best with the state of his own heart, the melody of a saint, or the sighs and lamentations of a sinner. If his conscience should inform him, that he can have no just title to reckon himself among the number of the just, or rather of the justified; it will not well become such an one to be thankful. It must indeed argue a monstrous degree of carelessness or assurance, for å man to be forward in praising and magnifying the name of God, on account of that mighty salvation, in which he himself is not like to have any share. Let him,
391 therefore, who singeth in the church, sing with the spirit and with the understanding, and upon the grounds of Faith, Hope, Charity, and a good Conscience : without which, how loud soever his voice may sound here below, it will never be heard in the choir of saints and angels above.
XXIII. In his conversation with men, he should be meek, gentle, merciful, and compassionate; conforming himself to the spirit and temper of the dove. If there is continual clamor, railing, wrath, and evil-speaking in a family, it is a sign that the gospel of peace hath not been received in it. It is either not there, or it is without its influence; and it is hard to say, which of these cases is the worst; If any man hath not the spirit of Christ, he is none of his: and certainly he is without the spirit, if he is without its fruit.
In his private conferences with God and his own heart, his devotion should partake much of resignation, humiliation, and all the softer expressions of contrition, like to the mournings of the turtle; rather than of heat, zeal, anger, and indignation, even allowing sin itself to be the object of these emotions. сс 4
XXIV. All men being sinners by nature, the fruits of repentance are to be brought forth by all. Every believer, when called to the gospel, is made a branch of that figtree, which is to bear the fruits of repentance; and Christ, to whom all things are naked, and open, will be coming from time to time seeking fruit on this fig-tree. If God receiveth from us only the service of the lips, this may be taken as a sign that the tree hath some leaves upon it; and thus far the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees extended. But unless the righteousness of a Christian shall exceed theirs, he must expect to be cut down, as they were, and suffered no longer to encumber the ground of the sacred vineyard.
XXV. The last thing suggested to us is the necessity of communion with Jesus Christ, as the only root of spiritual life and perfection: concerning which, it is our duty to guard against all the incroachments of natural religion, falsely so called; not attributing to human nature any independent principle either of wisdom or sanctification. For as surely as the vine-branch can have no powers independent of the root, so surely cannot the Christian think, act, or live, as such, but so far