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that “ there are some branches in hiin which bear not fruit, and those he taketh away; and others which bear fruit, and those he purgeth that they may bring forth morek." Those only are the branches, which he desires to own.
And thus to belong unto Christ is that only which maketh us naòs wepicúrios, and eis wepitoinois, 'A purchased, a peculiar people unto him.' And there are several ways of evi. dencing it. I will only name two or three, and most in the text. First, We must know that Christ is a morning star, a sun of righteousness; and so ever comes to the soul with self-evidencing properties. Unto him belongeth that royal prerogative, to write • Teste Meipso' in the hearts of men, to be himself the witness to his own acts, purchases, and covenants. Therefore his Spirit came in tongues of fire, and in a mighty wind, all which have several ways of manifesting themselves, and stand not in need of any borrowing or foreign confirmations. If Christ then be in the heart, he will discover himself.
His Spirit is the original of grace and strength, as concupiscence is of sin. It is a seed in the heart, which will spring up and show itself. And, therefore, as lust doth take the first advantage of the faint and imperfect stirrings of the reasonable soul in little infants, to evidence itself in pride, folly, stubbornness, and other childish sins; so the Spirit of grace in the heart cannot lie dead, but will work, and move, and, as a Spirit of burning, by the light, heat,--purging, comforting, inflaming, combating virtue which is in it, make the soul which was barren, and settled on the lees, and unacquainted with any such motions before, stand amazed at its own alteration, and say with Rebekah, “ If it be so, why am I thus ?” Externals may be imitated by art; but no man can paint the soul or the life, or the sense and inotion of the creature. Now Christ and his Spirit are the internal forms, and active principles in a Christian man; “ Christ liveth in us ;-When Christ who is our life, shall appear,” &c. Therefore impossible it is, that any hypocrite should counterfeit, and by consequence obscure those intimate and vital workings of his grace in the soul, whereby he evidenceth himself thereunto. It is true, a man that feareth the Lord, may walk in darkness, and be in such discomforts, as he shall see no light; and yet even in that condition, Christ doth not want properties to evidence
k John xv. 2.
himself, in tenderness of conscience, fear of sin, striving of spirit with God, closeness of heart, and constant recourse to him in his Word, and the like; only the soul is shut up and overclouded that it cannot discern him. The Spirit of Christ is a seal,' a witness,' an earnest', an handsel, a first-fruit of that fulness which is promised hereafter. It is Christ's own Spirit; and therefore fashioneth the hearts of those in whom it is, unto his heavenly image, to long for more comprehension of him, for more conformity unto him, for more intimacy and communion with him, for more grace, wisdom, and strength from him; it turneth the bent and course of the soul from that earthly and sensual end unto which it wrought it before; as a good branch, having been ingrafted into a wild stock, converteth the sap of a crab into pleasant fruit.
Again ; If a man be one of Christ's people, then there hath a day of power passed over him, the sword of the Spirit hath entered into him ; he hath been conquered by the rod of Christ's strength; he hath felt John's axe laid to the root of his conscience, and hath been persuaded by the terror of the Lord; for the coming of Christ is with shaking : the conscience hath felt a mighty operation in the Word, though to other men it hath passed over like empty breath ; for the Word “worketh effectually in those that believe,” and bringeth about the purposes for which it was sent. To those that are called, it is the power of God.'
Again; Where Christ comes, he comes with beauty and holiness :' those who lay in their blood and pollutions, before, bare and naked, are made exceedingly beautiful, and renowned for their beauty,“ perfect through the comeliness which he puts upon them o.” He comes unto the soul with beauty and precious oil, and garments of praise,—that is, with comfort, joy, peace, healing, to present the church a holy church, without spot or wrinkle to his Father.
Lastly, Where Christ cometh, he cometh with the womb of the morning, with much light to acquaint the soul with his truth and promises ; and with much fruitfulness, making the heart, which was barren before, to flow with rivers of living
m 1 Cor. i. 22.
n Ezek. xvi. 9, 14.
1 Ephes. i. 14. 1 John iv. 13. o Isai. Ixi. 3.
water P, to bring forth fruit 9 more and more, and to abound in the works of the Lord. These are the particular evidences of our belonging to Christ in the text, and by these we must examine ourselves:--Do I find in
soul the new name of the Lord Jesus written, that I am not only in title, but in truth, a Christian ? Do I find the secret nature and figure of Christ fashioned in me, swaying my heart to the love and obedience of his holy ways? Do I hear the voice, and feel the hand and judicature of his blessed Spirit within me, leading me in a new course, ordering mine inner man, sentencing and crucifying mine earthly members ? Am I a serious and earnest enemy to my original lusts and closest corruptions? Do I feel the workings and kindlings of them in mine heart with much pain and mourning, with much humiliation for them, and deprecation against them? Is Christ my centre? Do I find in mine heart a willingness to be with him, as well here in his word, ways, promises, directions, comforts; yea, in his reproaches and persecutions, as hereafter in his glory? Is it the greatest business of my life, to make myself more like him, to walk as he also walketh, to be as he was in this world, to purify myself even as he is pure ? Hath the terror of his wrath persuaded me, and shaken my conscience out of its carnal security, and made me look about for a refuge from the wrath to come,-and esteem more beautiful than the morning brightness, the feet of those who bring glad tidings of deliverance and peace? Hath his gospel an effectual seminal virtue within me, to new form my nature and life daily unto his heavenly image ? Is it an ingrafted word which mingleth with my conscience, and hideth itself in my heart, actuating, determining, moderating, and overruling it to its own way? Am I cleansed from my filthiness, careful to keep myself chaste, comely, beautiful, a fit spouse for the fairest of ten thousand ? Do I rejoice in his light, walking as a child of light, living as an heir of light, going on, like the sun, unto the perfect day, labouring to abound always in the work of the Lord ? Then I may have good assurance that I belong unto Christ. And if so, that will be a seminary of much comfort to my soul.
P John vii, 38. xv. 2. Cant. iv. 2.
9 Isai. xxxii. 15. Rom. vii. 4.
For first, If we are Christ's, then he careth for us ;' for propriety is the ground of care.
“ He that is a bireling," saith our Saviour," "and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep,” &c. “ Because he is a hireling, he careth not for the sheep. But I am the good Shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine;" therefore I am careful of them. He watcheth over us, he searcheth and seeketh us out in our stragglings, and feedeth us. This is the principal argument we have to believe, that God will look upon us for good, notwithstanding our manifold provocations, because he is pleased to own us, and to take us as his own peculiar people. Though the church be full of ruins, yet because it is his own house, he will repair it; though it be black as well as comely, yet because it is his own spouse, he will pity and cherish it ; though it bring forth wild grapes, and be indeed meet for no work, yet because it is his own vine“, planted by his own right hand, and made strong for himself, he will be therefore careful to fence and prune it.* This is the only argument we have to prevail with God in prayer, that in Christ we call him · Father;' we present ourselves before him as his own ;' we make mention of no other Lord or name over us; and there. fore he cannot deny us the things which are good for us.
Secondly, If we are Christ's, then he will certainly 'purge us,' and make the members suitable to the head. “I swear unto thee, and entered into covenant with thee, saith the Lord, and thou becamest mine;" and immediately it follows, “ Then washed I thee with water, yea, I thoroughly washed away thy blood from thee?.”-“Every branch in me that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.”—“ He purifieth to himself a peculiar people.b”. If we be his ' peculiar people,' and set apart for himself (as the prophet Davido speaks), he will undoubtedly purify us, that we may be honourable vessels, sanctified and meet for the Master's use, and prepared unto every good work. He will furnish us with all such supplies of the Spirit of grace, ,
• Joh. x. 12, 13, 14. Eze. xxxiv. 11, 15. Heb. iii. 5, 6. Ezek. xvi. 8.9. xv. 5. u Psal. lxxx. 15. * Isai. Ixiii. 8, 19. y Isai. xxvi, 13. Ezek xvi. 8, 9. John xv. 2, b Tit. xxi, 14. Psal. iy. 3. d 2 Tim. ii. 21.
as the condition of that place in his body requires, in the which he hath set us. Grace and glory will he give, and no good thing will he withhold from those who walk uprightly. Our propriety to Christ giveth us right unto all good things: “ All is yours, and you are Christ's.”
Thirdly, If we are Christ's, then he will spare us. This was the argument which the priest was to use between the porch and the altare ; “ Spare thy people, O Lord, and give not thine heritage to reproach.—Then will the Lord be jealous for his land, and pity his people. — They shall be mine, saith the Lord, in the day that I make up my jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him. 8”—Of my servant, to whom I give wages for the merit of his work, not out of love or grace, I expect a service proportionable to the pay he receives : but, in my child, I reward not the dignity of the work, but only the willingness, the loving and obedient disposition of the heart: and therefore I pass over those failings and weaknesses which discover themselves for want of skill or strength, and not of love, praising the endeavours, and pardoning the miscarriages. Thus doth the Lord deal with his children.
Fourthly, If we be Christ's, he will pray for us " ; " I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me, for they are thine ; and all mine are thine, and thine are mine,” &c. so that we shall be sure to have help in all times of need, because we know that the Father heareth his Son always'; and those things which, in much fear, weakness, and ignorance, we ask for ourselves, if it be according to God's will, and by the dictate and mouth of the Spirit in our heart, Christ himself in his intercession demandeth for us the same things. And this is the ground of that confidence which we have in him, that if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us, and we have the petitions that we desire of him. For as the world hateth us, because it hateth him first, so the Father loveth and heareth us, because he loveth and heareth him first.
Fifthly, If we be Christ's, then he will teach us, and commune with us, and reveal himself unto us, and lead us
• Joel ji. 17, 18. Exod. xxxii. 12. Num. xiv. 13. f Isai. Ixiv. 9. ui. 17. b John xvii. 9, 10. i John Xi. 42. kl John . 14.