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obstinately live and perish in your barren state, unfruitful and dead to every good word and work. May God shew you, since argument cannot, your sinfulness and guilt. O that his blessed Spirit would now let you see your own hearts, that there may be raised in them a strong crying for grace. And if he does bring you to desire it, the love of our blessed God, who has it to give, cannot withold it: he will bless and enrich you to such a degree, that you shall bring forth fruits of increase. This is the ' Third doctrinal point in the text. The streams of divine grace were therefore sent into the wilderness, that its nature might be changed, and might bring forth fruits of increase. And into whatever heart grace enters, it makes an entire change and reformation. A wilderness improved into a regular and beautiful garden is not so great a change: for grace makes the man a new creature. The dead faculties of his soul revive the barren grow and shoot forth—the understanding bears the Fairest blossoms, and the will and affections ripen and perfect the sweetest fruit. Under the genial influence of grace the whole man is like a tree planted by the water side, always green and flourishing, that will bring forth its fruit in due season. And whatever fruit is brought to maturity, by the mild and gentle operation of this divine agent, will be acceptable to God the Father. Good works put forth and perfected by grace, are well pleasing to him. When grace has changed our barren hearts and reformed them, by justifying us through the merit of our Lord Jesus Christ, then are we enabled to proceed in the work of sanctification ; but not before because an unjust person cannot bring forth justifying fruit, no more than a corrupt tree can bring forth good fruit. Our persons must be just and right before our works can be, and the scripture is positive, that we are created in Christ Jesus unto good works. Good works belong to a new creation, and before we can do them we must be created anew-We must become new creatures
offe open ait if any mat all grour' Lord of self escabide inside the
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in Christ Jesus, and be grafted into him by the living principle of grace, and draw our nourishment from him as much as a branch does from its stock, before we can bear the fruit of any one good work. This is scripture. This is the doctrine of our church. And whatever some proud self-righteous Pharisees may fancy, this is the doctrine of philosophy and nature. We have sensible demonstration of it. Take a branch off from the stock on which it grew, and let it lie in the open air, what will it produce ? You see it withers and dies. If any man be cut off from Christ, the stock upon which we must all grow, or perish for ever, what will he produce ? Hear our Lord's judgment. “ As “ the branch cannot bear fruit of itself except it abide “ in the vine, no more can ye, except ye abide in me. “ I am the vine, ye are the branches. He that abideth “ in me and I in him, the same bringeth forth much “ fruit: for without me ye can do nothing." This is the determination of our infallible God, and if you refuse to submit to it, after it has been confirmed by our church, and indeed by the whole Christian church, and by matter of fact, and sensible demonstration, if all this evidence cannot convince you, what will you object to the experience of all living Christians, who declare with one voice—“ Not unto us, O Lord, not unto “us, but unto thy free grace be all the praise.” This is the language of every true believer, who confesses, that he cannot so much as think a good thought without the influence of the holy Spirit: for it is he who worketh in us both to will and to do. If this still cannot convince you, may that grace which you oppose work upon your hearts, and convince you effectually; may the giver of all grace shew you your barrenness without it, and dispose you to seek, until you find a thorough change and reformation; and then you will join your grateful hearts with ours, in returning praise and thanks to our God, who has so blessed us with his grace, as to enable us to bring forth fruits of increase :
And this is the fourth and last remark, which belongs to believers, who know by happy experience the truth of the scripture, which we have been considering : for the love of our Lord Jesus Christ has brought them out of the wilderness, changed their barrenness by his grace, planted them in his church, watered them with the dew of heaven, and enriched them with all the sweet fruits of an holy life. In you, my Christian brethren, this scripture is fulfilled. And therefore you cannot but be thankful. To our dearest Redeemer you offer up your praises with joy and delight. When you consider what wonders Jesus hath done for your salvation, you cannot be silent in his praise; but big with a lively sense of the numerous and eternal blessings of his free grace, you speak of him with the highest strains of gratitude, and yet you find you cannot put forth all his praise. You are unable to declare in words, what your hearts feel, and therefore you let your lives speak forth his praise, as well as your lips. O may his blessed Spirit keep you always in this thankful temper! and may our gracious and most adorable Jesus increase daily the number of the thankful ! may his grace change and reform the wilderness of sinners' hearts, that the good seed of the word may be sown in them, and they may grow and flourish in the vineyard of the Lord's church, there bringing forth abundantly the fruits of increase! O almighty Saviour, if there be any in this congregation still in the wilderness, now bring them out of it; now water their hearts with the plentiful streams of thy grace, and grant, most loving God, that some-O if it be but one soul, may be added this day to thy little flock, that finding thy blessing and thy power present among us, we may go on multiplying exceedingly, until the earth be full of the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, as the waters cover the sea: and may all redound to the glory of God the Father, and to the honour of the eternal Spirit, the Trinity in unity, whom we worship and adore now and for ever. Amen. SERMON VIII.
PSALM CVII. 39, 40, 41. Again they are minished and brought low, through
oppression, affliction, and sorrow. He poureth contempt upon princes, and causeth them to wander in the wilderness where there is no way. Yet setteth he the poor on high from affliction, and maketh him fa
milies, like a flock. W E left the redeemed of the Lord in the most flourishing situation. After they had been brought out of the wilderness, and delivered from the pit, and healed of their infirmities, and saved from the storms of vice, they were placed under the tender care of their most loving Redeemer. And upon the rejection of the Jewish church, he sent into the wilderness the abundant streams of his grace, and there he planted the Gentile church, watering it with his good Spirit, and cherishing it with the genial warmth of the light of life: by whose influence it grew and spread, and was so enriched and blessed, that it multiplied exceedingly, and became like a well cultivated and fertile country, where they sow their lands and plant vineyards, which yield them fruits of increase, some an hundred fold, some sixty fold, and some thirty fold. And this experience of their Redeemer's love is certainly sufficient to make every one of them thankful, and to excite in their hearts the warmest sentiments of praise and gratis tude.
In the words which I have read we have a new mo. tive for thankfulness, taken from the decline and decay of the Christian church. Its fruitfulness is now turned into barrenness. The same country which you saw before adorned with the sweetest blossoms, bringing forth the richest fruits, and covered all over with plenty, is now degenerated again into a wilderness. Nothing grows in it but thorns and thistles, the fruits of the curse. This is a melancholy change of the church, and it should move us greatly to see it fall back again into the same desolate and wretched state, from which it had been raised. But it has been the invariable rule of the Redeemer's providence. He waters the church with his grace, and blesses it with the light of his fruitful rays so long as men will receive their kind influence. But when they reject them, either by refusing to make any use of them, or by perverting them to a wrong use, then he withholds his blessings. He withdraws his grace and the light of his countenance, upon which, the same darkness and deadness ensue in the church, as would be in the world, if the sun were to withdraw his comfortable light and heat, and to arise no more with his reviving beams upon the earth. Thus he turned the fruitful land of the Jewish church into a wilderness for the wickedness of them who dwelled therein. And, he transferred their fruitfulness to the wilderness of the Gentiles. And again he turns our fruitful country into a wilderness for the wickedness of them, who dwell in it. He began to fulfil this scripture by removing the grace and light of the gospel from the seven churches in Asia, and he has left us in his treatment of them a terrible example of his just vengeance upon every wicked infidel church. And he has since taken vengeance upon several other churches. When they refused to walk by the light of his gospel, he then removed the candlestick from them: and deprived of his light, they could produce nothing but the works of darkness, and would certainly be sentenced to that outward darkness, where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth for ever. Our church has long refused to walk by the light of the gospel; God grant our candlestick may not be entirely removed ! we do indeed deserve it. Our crying national sins, and our open insolent infidelity call aloud for judgment. 0! what mercy must dwell in his breast, who hears daily multitudes of traitors plotting the destruction of his divinity, and yet