« ElőzőTovább »
approve of my righteousness. I know that Hagar would sometimes be domineering and high, even in Sarah's house, and against her; but this she is not to be suffered to do, nay, though Sarah herself be barren: wherefore serve it also as Sarah served her, and expel her out from thy house. My meaning is, when this law with its'thundering threatenings doth attempt to lay hold on thy conscience, shut it out with a promise of grace; cry, The inn is took up already; the Lord Jesus is here entertained, and here is no room for the law. Indeed if it will be content with being my informer, and so lovingly leave off to judge me, I will be content, it shall be in my sight, I will also delight therein ; but otherwise, I being now made upright without it, and that too with that righteousness which this law speaks well of and approveth; I may not, will not, cannot, dare not, make it my Saviour and judge, nor suffer it to set up its government in my conscience; for by so doing I fall from grace, and Christ Jesus doth profit me nothing.
7. Thus, therefore, the soul that is married to him that is raised up from the dead, both may and ought to deal with this law of God; yea, it doth greatly dishonour its Lord, and refuse its gospel-privileges, if it at any time otherwise doth, whatever it seeth or feels. The law hath power over the wife so long as her husband liveth, but if her husband be dead she is freed from that law; so that she is not an adultress, though she be married to another man. Indeed so long as thou art alive to sin, and to the righteousness which is of the law, so long thou hast them for thy husband, and they must reign over thee: But when once they are become dead unto thee, as they then most certainly will, when thou closest with the Lord Jesus Christ; then I say, thy former husbands have no more to meddle with thee, thou art freed from their law. Set the case, a woman be cast into prison for a debt of hundreds
of pounds, if after this she marry, yea, though while she is in the goaler's hand, in the same day that she is joined to her husband, her debt is all become his; yea, and the law also, that arrested and imprisoned this woman, as freely tells her, Go, she is freed, saith Paul, from that, and so saith the law of this land. The sum, then, of what hath been said, is this: the christian hath now nothing to do with the law, as it thundereth and burneth on Sinai, or as it bindeth the conscience to wrath and the displeasure of God for sin ; for from its thus appearing it is freed by faith in Christ. Yet it is to have regard thereto, and is to count it holy, just, and good, which that it may do, it is always, whenever it seeth or regards it, to remember, that he, who giveth it to us, is merciful, gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, &c.
Shewing that the day of Grace may be past with him long before
his life is ended; the signs also by which such miserable mor-
TO THE READER,
HAVE written to thee now about the barren fig-tree, or how
it will fare with the fruitless professor that standeth in the vineyard of God.
Of what complexion thou art, I cannot certainly divine; but the parable tells us, that the curnber-ground dust be cut down,
A cumber-ground professor, is not only a provocation to God, a stumbling-block to the world, and a blemish to religion, but a snare to his own soul also. Though his excellency mount up to the heavens, and his head reach unto the clouds, yet he shall perish for ever, like his own dung; they that have seen him shall say, Where is he!" Job xx. 6.
Now they count it pleasure to riot in the day-time, 2 Pet. ii. 13, 14. But what will they do when the axe is fetched out ?
The tree whose fruit withereth, is reckoned a tree without fruit, a tree twice dead, one that must be plucked up by the roots, Jude 12.
O thou cumber-ground, God expects fruit, God will come seeking fruit shortly.
My exhortation therefore is to professors that they look to it, that they take heed.
The barren fig-tree in the vineyard, and the bramble in the wood, are both prepared for the fire.
Profession is not a covert to hide froin the eye of God; nor will it palliate the revengeful threatening of his justice ; he will command to cut it down shortly.*
The church, and a profession, are the best of places for the upright, but the worst in the world for the cumber-ground: He must be cast, as profane, out of the mount of God: cast, I say, over the wall of the vineyard, there to wither; thence to be gathered and burned. It had been better for them that they had not known the way of righteousness, 2 Pet. ii. 21. And yet if they had not, they had been damned; but it is better to go to hell without, than in, or from under a profession, These shall receive greater damnation, Luke xx. 47.
If thou be a professor, read and tremble; if thou be profane, do so likewise. For if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and sinners appear? Cumber ground, take heed of the axe : Barren fig-tree, beware of the fire.
But I will keep thee no longer out of the book; Christ Jesus, the dresser of the vineyard take care of thee, dig about thee, and dung thee, that thou mayest bear fruit, that when the Lord of the vineyard cometh with his axe to seek for fruit, or pronounce the sentence of damnation on the barren fig-tree, thou mayest escape that judg. ment. - The cumber-ground must to the wood pile, and thence to the fire. Farewell.
Grace be with all them that love our Lord Jesus in sincerity. Amen.
God expects suitable and proportionable fruit from a people, according to the time of their standing in his vineyard, and the cost, culture, and pains he has bestowed upon them.
5. There is also untimely fruit : “ Even as a fig-tree asteth her untimely figs," Rev. vi. 13. Fruit out of eason, and so no fruit to God's liking.
There are two sorts of professors subject to bring forth intimely fruit: 1. They that bring forth fruit too soon: 4. They that bring forth fruit too late.
(1.) They that bring forth too soon. They are such s at present receive the word with joy; and anon, beore they have root downward, they thrust forth upwards; but not having root, when the sun ariseth, they are mitten, and miserably die without fruit. These profesors are those light and inconsiderate ones that think nohing but peace will attend the gospel; and so anon reoice at the tidings, without foreseeing the evil : Wherepre, when the evil comes, being unarmed, and so not ble to stand any longer, they die, and are withered, and ring forth no fruit : “ He that received the seed in tony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and non with joy receiveth it: Yet hath he not root in himelf, but dureth for a while ; for when tribulation or versecution ariseth because of the word, by and by they re offended, Matth. xii. 20. 21. There is in Isa. 'xviii. 4. mention made of some, “ whose glorious leauty shall be a fading flower,” because it is fruit before
Both these are untimely fruit. (2.) They also bring forth untimely fruit, that stay ill the season is over, God will have his fruit in his seaon; I say, he will receive them of such men as shall ender them to him in their seasons, Matth. xxi. 41. Che missing of the season is dangerous ; staying till the loor is shut is dangerous, Matth. xxv. 10, 11. Many here be that come not till the flood of God's anger is aised, and too deep for them to wade through: “Surey in the floods of great waters, they shall not come nigh into him," Psal. xxxii. 6. Esau's (afterwards) is fearol: “ For ye know how that afterward when he would lave inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he pund no place of repentance, though he sought it careully with tears,” Heb. xii. 16, 17.