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DOCTRINE I. The Spirit of Christ abiding in the children of light, produces agreeable fruit in their hearts and lives.
DOCTRINE II. Goodness, righteousness, and truth, are the fruits of the children of light, produced in them by the Spirit of Christ. DOCTRINE III. True Christian fruitfulness is universal. Α word to each of these.
DOCTRINE I. The Spirit of Christ abiding in the children of light, produces agreeable fruit in their hearts and lives; even fruit suitable to his own nature, and their gracious state. For confirmation of this consider,
1. The Spirit is an active bond of union betwixt Christ and the children of light, these that are in him. By this Spirit, an empty creature is united to a full Christ; and by the same made partaker of his fulness, to their bringing forth fruit in him. "The Spirit shall glorify me," saith Christ, "for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you." Hence we read "of the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ." It is by the soul's feeding on Christ that it lives, and whosoever feed on him, shall live by him, a life of holiness, as well as comfort. "He that eateth me," saith Jesus, (6 even he shall live by me." Meanwhile, our Lord tells us, that this life is by the participation of his Spirit. It is the Spirit that quickeneth.
2. Consider the end for which the Spirit is given to these that are his. It is in a special manner for their sanctification, Ezek. xxxvi. 26, 27; so that all who are chosen of God to everlasting life, are sanctified by the Spirit. "For they are chosen to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit, and belief of the truth." It is his work to conform them more and more unto the image of Christ, and he effects it accordingly. "For they are changed into the same image, from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord." And the same Spirit being in them which is in Jesus Christ, cannot fail to make them like him in their bearing the fruits of holiness; even as in Ezekiel's vision, when the living creatures were lifted up from the earth, the wheels were lifted up also, for the spirit of the living creatures was in the wheels.
3. The several designations given to the Holy Spirit evince this. He is called the Holy Spirit, not only because he is holy himself; but chiefly, because he makes them holy in whom he dwells. He is the Spirit of grace; for he implants it, preserves it, excites, strengthens it, and at length perfects it. He is the Spirit of life who mortifies the old man, and quickens the new. He is the water that purges away the filth of sin, and makes the soul fruitful. He VOL. IV.
is even a fountain of living water springing up in the soul. He is the fire that burns up corruption, and inflames the heart with the love of God. And, to add no more, he is the wind from heaven, making the spices in Christ's garden to flow out.
USE. 1. Of information. This lets us see, that in vain are the pretences to the Spirit and a gracious state, in those who bring not forth the fruits of holiness in their hearts and lives. The trees of righteousness bring forth holy fruits. "If God be our Father, where is our honour of him; if our Master, where is our fear of him." If the Spirit of Christ be in us, where are our love, joy, peace, for these are the fruit of the Spirit.
2. Those who are so far from the fruits of holiness, that their profane lives are filled with the fruits of wickedness, have not the Spirit, but are in darkness, Gal. v. 19. To what purpose do men pretend faith in Christ, while they go on in a course of sin, and will not part with their lusts. They that are Christ's, have Christ's Spirit; and that Spirit will give quite a new turn to their hearts and lives.
USE 2. Of exhortation. Unholy sinners, as ever you would be holy, labour to get Christ's Spirit in you, to dwell in you, and act in you.
MOTIVE 1. Without the Spirit you are undone for ever; for without the Spirit, without Christ; for if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. Without Christ, without God, and without hope. The dead corpse may be kept a while; but when there is no hope of the return of life to it, it is buried in a grave. So, without the Spirit, you may be through the patience of God spared a while; but the end will be, to be cast into the pit, and buried out of God's sight.
MOTIVE 2. If you get the Spirit, you are made up for ever. When the Spirit comes, life comes that shall never fail, John iv. 14. He will unite you to Christ, quicken, enlighten, and sanctify you. He will give you grace, actuate and increase it, and change you from glory to glory.
DIRECTION. Pray earnestly for the Spirit. Your heavenly Father shall give the holy Spirit to them that ask him. Look and wait for the Spirit in all ordinances. "Blessed are they that sow beside all waters." They that would have the wind blow on them, go out into the open air; though they cannot raise it, they go where it blows. Give up yourselves to the Spirit; say, "Turn me, and I shall be turned; for thou art the Lord my God." Lay down yourselves at his feet, to be enlightened, quickened, and sanctified. Cherish the least spark; it may increase into a flame.
2. Children of light, as you would abound in the fruits of holiness, take heed how you entertain the Spirit. Resist him not, but fall in with him in his operation. Quench not the Spirit. Beware of casting water on the holy fire, by sinning against light, or by indulging in sensuality. Withdraw not fuel from it, by neglecting the motions of the Spirit. Smother it not, by not giving vent to the motions and operations of the Spirit within you.
DOCTRINE II. Goodness, righteousness, and truth, are fruits of the Spirit in the children of light, produced in them by the Holy Spirit of Christ. For the confirmation of this, I shall only briefly observe,
1. That God is good, righteous, and true; and they are partakers of the divine nature, 2 Pet. i. 4; and so, as children, they resemble God their Father.
2. That God has been in a special and gracious manner, good, righteous, and true to them. As to the point of righteousness, that Scripture may be noted, "He is just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness," namely, for the merits of Christ. And it is the nature of God's dispensations of saving grace, to impress the same dispositions on the happy subjects of them. They are changed into the same image, from glory to glory.
3. That the holy law is a law of goodness, righteousness, and truth. This law is written on their hearts, Heb. viii. 10.
Lastly, That wickedness, unrighteousness, and lies, are the works of the devil, and the works of the flesh; to which the fruits produced by the Spirit in the new man are directly contrary.
USE 1. This writes death on the foreheads of three sorts of persons: 1. Wicked, ungodly, and ungracious men, who are far from goodness, remaining in the evil state and disposition in which they were born; in whose mind, will, and affections, the evil of sin yet reigns; and are neither graciously good in nor to themselves, nor others. That is an evidence that the good Spirit of God has never yet entered into that heart to dwell there. Alas! will some say, I see much evil, all evil in my heart, but goodness is far from me. ANSWER. It is a piece of gracious goodness for one to see the evil of his own heart; but yet there is a pearl of goodness in the saints, amidst a dunghill of evil. God owns it for goodness though it be so, and it is folly in thee to deny it.
2. Unrighteous men, who are unjust in their dealings with men, who are given to fraud, cheating, and tricking, if they can gain thereby; and can go over the belly of conscience and common justice, to advance their worldly interest. This is an evidence that the
world is your God and portion; that there is no fear of God before your eyes; that you are children of darkness and not of light. Let me tell you, where you win a penny by it, you lose a talent; the gain is the price of blood, of thy soul.
3. Those who make no conscience of truth. Children in whom there is no truth, are not children of light. Such are hypocrites and dissemblers with God, who pretend fair, but whose heart is not upright with the Lord; who, under the cloak of a profession of religion, indulge themselves in sin, in some living reigning lust or other. Ah! whom do you mock. Be not deceived, God is not mocked. Such, like the false mother, divide the child; by a holy profession, and an unholy practice. So shall their doom be to be cut asunder, and have their portion with hypocrites. Such are liars, who make no conscience of speaking truth; especially such as lie in defence of an unholy life, which is a most common sin; there being everywhere agents of the devil, who have abundance of vain words to bestow in defence of these things. These are of their father the devil, and with him they must lodge for evermore, Rev. xxi. 8.
USE 2. Of exhortation. Let us,
1. Study goodness. To be good, pleasing, and acceptable in the sight of God, and of men also, so far as we may in God's way; namely, by meeknesss, gentleness, readiness to do good; and for this cause, let us hate sin as the greatest evil. Let us all endeavour to be beneficial to mankind, as we have access; to embrace all occasions offered for the advancing of the temporal, but especially the spiritual good of others. Let no man say, Am I my brother's keeper? Nor of the ruin of others, What is that to us? And let us abridge ourselves of our liberty, even in lawful things, to that very end, that we destroy not those for whom Christ died.
2. Be strictly just in all our dealings with men. Moral honesty is not the whole of religion, but it is such a necessary part of it, as the want of it will declare a man a stranger to real godliness, profess what he will, Psal. xv. 1—3.
Lastly, Let us study truth and cleave to it. Truth and sincerity of heart before the Lord; the doctrine of truth, and truth in all our words.
DOCTRINE III. True Christian fruitfulness is universal. On this I have not time to enlarge.
USE. By this we may try our state, and whether our fruit be the fruit of the Holy Spirit in us or not. True fruit is universal, Col. i. 10; Psal. cxix. 6. There is a perfection of parts in the fruit of the Spirit in believers, though not of degrees. They do sincerely
aim at all, and endeavour all the parts of goodness and holiness, though in none of them they attain to legal perfection. Hypocrites are ever partial in their fruits, pretended to be fruits, and never aim at universal obedience of heart and life. Amen.
Eyemouth, July 12, 1706.-Monday after the Sacrament.
CHRIST THE LIFE OF THE BELIEVER.
PHILIPPIANS i. 21,
For me to live is Christ.
In a day of converting grace, in Christ's marriage-day, there is a glorious transmigration of souls betwixt Christ and believers. Christ loves the believer, and the believer loves Christ. The believer has Christ's heart, Song iv. 9, "Thou hast ravished my heart, my sister, my spouse." Some render it, "Thou hast knit my heart to thine;" as if they had no more two hearts, but one. The Septuagint renders it, unhearts me. And Christ has the believer's heart. "Whom have I in the heaven but thee; and there is none in all the earth that I desire besides thee." The believer desires nothing beside him, nothing like him, nothing after him. As the lady at Cyrus' feast, who said she saw none but her husband. Christ lives in the believer, Gal. v. 20. Christ is his life, Col. iii. 4. Alas! that there should be so many Christless Christians, who never have discovered the beauty of this plant of renown. Paul was none of these, as appears in these words, wherein we are to consider,
1. The sum of Paul's practice : "To me to live is Christ." Some render it, "for Christ is gain to me in life and in death;" as if the sense were, whether I live or die, Christ is always my gain. But this is a force upon the text which, in the original, runs word for word, as in our translation. The words bear another sense. The phrase, indeed, is something unusual; but love burning in the heart to Christ, is not easily satisfied with expression. When Hezekiah is wondering at the Lord's love, he says, "thou hast in love to my soul delivered it from the pit of corruption :" or, thou hast loved my soul from the pit. When David was intent on prayer, he tells us, but, "I prayer," Psal. cix. 4. When on peace, "I peace," Psal. cxx. 7. Now Christ is all to the believer, "To me to live is Christ."