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They get this knowledge, also, by the teaching of the Spirit, with the word. "God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit; for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God." He lets in a light from heaven into the mysteries, and opens the eyes of believers to see the wondrous things. And no advantages of human art can make up the want of this teaching. "Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him." the saints enjoy this teaching. "For it is written," saith our Saviour, "in the prophets, and they shall be all taught of God. Every man, therefore, that hath heard and learned of the Father, cometh unto me." They obtain this knowledge, also, by experience. "O taste and see," says David, "that the Lord is good; blessed is the man that trusteth in him." An unfelt religion, is the religion of them that are without, whose sound principles are like fire painted on a wall; as far from any sanctifying efficacy on their lives, or from burning up their corruptions, as that painted fire is from burning the house on which it is. But the religion of the saints is a felt, experimental religion. They feel the power of its mysteries upon their own souls, and therefore adhere to them, in spite of carnal reasonings against them, for it is difficult to dispute men out of their senses. "I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ," says Paul, for it is the power of God unto salvation, to every one that believeth."
USE 1. Come and see, is the only proper way to be satisfied as to the reality and excellency of religion. Philip gave this advice to Nathaniel, and, by following it, he was soon brought to say to Jesus, "thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel.” Enter yourselves subjects of this kingdom by believing, and you shall know the mystery of it. "If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself." Would you have the privilege of subjects, before you be subjects? Or would you know a mystery, before you give yourselves up to be taught? It is the commendation of religion that none disparage it but those who have no experience of it; none condemn it, but those whose blind eyes never saw the merits of the cause. So the day will come that they will retract, at least when there is no remedy.
2. No king treats his subjects so advantageously, so honourably, as Christ doth his. The devil keeps his subjects in darkness, and darkness is the main pillar of his kingdom. Without that, the works of darkness would appear loathsome. Christ brings his suljects into light. He makes them wise and knowing, however other
wise simple. Kings of the earth will not impart the secrets of their government to their subjects, if it is not to very few. But the Prince of the kings of the earth makes all his subjects acquainted with the mysteries of the kingdom. We proceed,
IV. To shew that it is the misery of those without the kingdom of Christ that they know not the mystery of it, more than a parable which they do not understand. Here consider,
1. Who these are, that are without. All unbelievers are such, who have never opened their hearts to receive Christ by faith. The Jews called the Gentiles by this name. But our Lord teaches that
it belongs to unbelieving Jews, as well as Gentiles; and so to unbelieving Christians as well as heathens. Though they are in the church they are not of it, and so are reckoned without; being out of God's family, out of his covenant, and out of the body of Christ.
2. What is it they do not know? The text says, all these things; namely, all that concerns the mystery of the kingdom; the shell, the outward appearance of it is excepted. They know nothing of the other parts of it. All is to them under a vail. Christ the King of it is a vailed Christ to them. They know him not. The gospel, the sceptre of the kingdom, is a hidden gospel to them. the light and life of the kingdom, is an unknown Spirit to them. "He is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him." The ten commands in the hands of the Mediator, the laws of the kingdom, are unknown to them in their spirituality, Matth. chap. v. The covenant of grace, the instrument of government in the kingdom, is an unknown instrument to them, Psal. xxv. 14. The mysteries of faith, privilege, practice, and providence, remain all under a vail to them. Let us inquire,
3. How it is they know it not. Though they know the words in which that kingdom is revealed, they know not the thing itself. As a man hearing a parable in his mother tongue, understands the grammatical sense of the words, yet does not perceive the thing itself, wrapt up in the parable. So is it here. "The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto him; neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned." They are to them like a lecture of philosophy, in a learned language, to a schoolboy.
They know it not by the teaching of the Spirit. "They are sensual, having not the Spirit." They are strangers to supernatural illumination, and the highest source of their knowledge is flesh and blood, improved by external objective revelation; being strangers to the subjective revelation, the opening the eyes of the mind, Deut. xxix. 4.
They know it not by experience; and so they know no more of religion than one doth of honey or vinegar, how sweet or how sour they are, who may have heard of them, but never tasted the one or the other.
USE 1. Here see the source of the dreadful inundation of atheism, deism, and contempt of revealed religion; the source of the flood of irreligion, immorality, and profanity, overflowing all its banks this day. These wretched men are without, and though they have no eyes to see the mystery of the kingdom, they have pride and selfconceit to think that they see through it. Their impetuous lusts need such a shelter, and they know that if there be that reality in religion which they would not wish, they are undone for ever. So they neither come into the kernel of religion, nor desire to come; but break their teeth on the shell which they cannot open.
2. I exhort all to study the mystery of the kingdom of Christ. Religion is another thing than either the profane multitude, or common crowd of professors take it to be. Strive earnestly to get into the spirit of it now, and to feel its life and power upon your souls. It will be no comfort when in hell, with your eyes open, to say, that you never thought that it had been such a hidden thing. You have clear and strong testimony afforded you from the word of God, and the experience of the saints, that there is a reality in religion; and that the possession and practice of it are absolutely necessary to your happiness. "For except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God;" "and without holiness, no man shall see the Lord." Trifle no longer, then, with this great and important conGive yourselves with earnestness, diligence, and perseverance, to the use of all the appointed means by which the necessary and happy change may be produced in your souls. Pray fervently that "he who at first commanded the light to shine out of darkness, may himself shine into your hearts," by his word and Spirit; "to give you the light of the knowledge of his glory in the face of Jesus, and thus make you his willing people in the day of his power." Amen.
Exercise and Addition.-Selkirk, before the Presbytery.
THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT.
EPHESIANS V. 9,
For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, and righteousness, and truth.
LIGHT, in religion, without heat and warmth, is so unlike heaven, that it will issue in utter darkness, where there is a scorching heat without light. True spiritual light, is like John Baptist, a burning and a shining light. When the Spirit was poured out after the ascension of Christ, for the enlightening of a dark world, Acts ii. 3, "there appeared cloven tongues as of fire." For, as upon the confounding of tongues at Babel, darkness came upon the world, the holy language being left but with a few, and corruption of manners came in like a flood upon that darkness; so when the remedy for this was given in Zion, there appeared cloven tongues, an emblem of the gift of tongues, by which light was to be restored to the dark world. And these tongues were of fire, because of the dross and corruption of the world, to be burnt up by them; light and purity returning together. Thus the saving influences of the Spirit are together enlightening and sanctifying: "Walk as children of the light; for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, and righteousness, and truth." That these words are parenthetical, appears from that, the words of the 10th verse are so constructed with the 8th, that they make one sentence with it; our text being interposed, as in the midst of a running sentence. Walk as children of light. Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord. For the fruit of the Spirit, &c.
The scope of the text is to shew that there is a necessary connection betwixt a gracious state and a holy life; which are so joined by the appointment of God, and the nature of the things, that they cannot be put asunder. It is true, many do so yoke together a splendid profession and an unholy life, as if they had found out the secret of conjoining light and darkness, Christ and Belial, hid from all saints. But our text confounds that mystery of iniquity, shewing that whoever are light in respect of their state, will be so also in respect of their conversation. "For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, and righteousness, and truth." For clearing the sense of these words, let us consider,
I. The connection.
II. The words themselves.
III. Raise, and illustrate the doctrines contained in the text. According then to this customary method, in discourses of this kind, I am,
I. To consider the connection of the text with the preceding words, in the particle for. Some think the particle yap, to be put for de, as if it were merely a note of transition, as it is sometimes used, as in Luke xii. 58; aud read, "Now the fruit of the Spirit," &c.; but to this I do not accede. It is a rule of interpreting Scripture, worthy to be written in letters of gold, namely, that we are never, without necessity, to depart from the proper and literal signification of words. And although an eager sticking to the literal signification of words, where a real necessity of taking them improperly and figuratively is sufficiently intimated by the Scripture itself, has been of fatal consequence in divinity, yet I nothing doubt, but men's taking to themselves a liberty of receding from the proper signification of words, without necessity, has, in several cases, cast a veil over the true sense of Scripture, and brought in upon the text what may be the true sense of, instead of bringing forth out of it, what must be so.
Now there is no necessity here for taking this particle merely for a note of transition. For, is to be taken casually. Though the apostle doth not here teach distinctly and directly, how, but, wherefore, we are to walk as children of the light; yet, by the by, he may, and really doth teach how we shall walk so, namely, by bringing forth the fruit of the Spirit, which is the reason alleged for taking it transitively.
We take it then casually, as our own and other translators for the most part do, and this is its most frequent signification; and so the words are a reason for something going before. He had shewn both the condition and the duty of the Ephesians, and inferred the latter from the former, and in the text gives the reason of the consequence. May not we walk as others, might they say, though we be light in the Lord? No, says the apostle, you cannot; for if you be light in the Lord, you shall certainly shine, and give light in your conversation. For the fruit of the Spirit, abiding and acting on all the children of light, is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth.
But here, vain men, who, to exalt free will, trample on free grace, may cavil and say, If there be such a necessary connection betwixt being light in the Lord, and walking as children of the light, in all goodness, &c., then to what purpose are exhortations to the duty of