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text tells, that he is the Vine ; that is, He, as a Mediator, is the vine-stock, whereof believers are the branches. As the sap comes from the earth into the root and stock, and from thence is diffused into the branches ; so by Christ, as Mediator, divine life is conveyed from the fountain, unto those who are united to him by faith, John vi. 57. “ As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father; so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me.” Now Christ is Mediator, not as God only, as some have asserted; nor yet as man only, as the Papists generally hold; But he is Mediator, as God-man, Acts xx. 28. The church of God, which he hath purchased with his blood." Heb. ix. 14. Christ, who, through the eternal Spirit, offered himself, without spot, to God.” The divine and human natures have their distinct actings; yet a joint operation in this, discharging the office of a Mediator. This is illustrated by the similitude of a fiery sword, which at once cuts and burns ; cutting it burneth, and burning it cutteth ; the steel cuts, and the fire burns. Wherefore Christ, God-ian, is the stock, whereof believers are the branches; and they are united to whole Christ. They are united to him in his human nature, as being members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones, Eph. v. 30. And they are united to him in his divine nature ; for so the Apostle speaks of this union, Col. i. 27. « Christ in you, the hope of glory.” And by him they are united to the Father, and to the Holy Ghost, 1 John iv. 15. “Who. soever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God.” Faith, the bond of this union, receives whole Christ, God-man ; and so unitcs us to him as such.
Behold here, I believers, your high privilege! Ye were once branches of a degenerate stock, even as others; but ye are, bý grace, become branches of the true Vine, John xv. 1. Ye are cut out of a dead and killing stock, and ingrafted in the last Adam, who was made a quickening Spirit, 1 Cor. xv. 45. Your loss by the first Adam is made up, with great advantage, by your union with the sccond. Adam, at his best estate, was but a shrub, in comparison with Christ, the tree of life. He was but a servant; Cirist is the Son, the Heir, and Lord of all things ; the Lord from heaven. It cannot be denied, that grace was shows
· in the first covenant; but it is as far exceeded, by the grace
of the second covenant, as the twilight is by the light of the mid-day.
III. What branches are taken out of the natural stock, and grafted into this Vine?-Ans. These are the elect, and none other. They, and they only, are grafted into Christ; and, consequently, none but they are cut off from the killing stock. For them alone he intercedes, that they may be one in him and his Father, John xvii. 9, 23. Faith, the bond of this union, is given to none else ; it is the faith of God's elect, Tit. i. 1. The Lord passeth by many branches growing on the natural stock, and cuts off only here one, and there one, and grafts them into the true Vine, according as free love hath determined. Oft does he pitch upon the most unlikely branch, leaving the topboughs; passing by the mighty, and the noble, and calling the weak, base, and despised, i Cor. i. 26, 27. Yea, he. often leaves the fair and smooth, and takes the rugged and knotty. “And such were some of you; but ye are" washed," &c. I Cor. vi. 11. If ye inquire why so? We ..." find no other reason but because they were chosen in him, Eph. i. 4. « Predestinated to the adoption of children by Jesus Christ,” ver. 5. Thus are they gathered together in Christ, while the rest are left growing on their natural stock, to be afterwards bound up in bundles for the fire. Wherefore, to whomsoever the gospel may come in vain, it will have a blessed effect on God's elect, Acts xiii. 48. • As many as were ordained to eternal life, believed.” Where the Lord has much people, the gospel will hayer, much success, sooner or later. Such as are to be saved will be added to the mystical body of Christ. How the Branches are taken out of the Natural Stock, ; and ingrafted into the Supernatural Stock.
IV. I am to shew how the branches are cut off from the natural stock, the first Adam, and grafted into the true Vine, the Lord Jesus Christ. Thanks to thic Husbandman, not to the branch, that it is cut off from its natural stock, and ingrafted into a new one. The sinner, in his coming off from the first stock, is passive ; and neither can nor will come off from it of its own accord, but clings to it, till Almighty power make him to fall off, John vi. 44.« No
I thank mjest, ad
man can come unto me, except the Father, which hath sent me, draw him.” And, chap. v. 40. “ Ye will not come unto me, that ye might have life.” The ingrafted branches are God's husbandry, I Cor. iii. 9. « The planting of the Lord," Isa. Ixi. 3. The ordinary means he
s roere makes use of in this work is the ministry of the word, 1 Cor. iii. 9. « We are labourers together with God.” But the efficacy thereof is wholly from him, whatever the minister's part or piety be, ver. 7. “ Neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth ; but God that giveth the increase.” The apostle preached to the Jews, yet the body of that people remained in infidelity, Rom. x. 16. “ Who hath believed our report?” Yea, Christ himself, who spoke as never man spoke, saith concerning the success of his own ministry, « I have laboured in vain ;. I have spent my strength for nought,” Isa. xlix. The branches may be haoked by the preaching of the word; begitus but the stroke will never go through, tiil it be carried seri home on them, by an omnipotent arm. However, God's ordinary way is, “ By the foolishness of preaching, to save them that believe," I Cor. i. 21.
The cutting off of the branch from the natural stock is performed by the pruning knife of the law, in the hand of The Spirit of God, Gal. ii. 19. « For I, through the law, am dead to the law.” It is by the bond of the covenant of de storm works, as I said before, that we are knit to our natural stock; and, therefore, as a wife, unwilling to be puta omissi away, pleads and hangs by the marriage tie; so do men by the covenant of works. They hold by it, like the com man who held the ship with his hands; and when one thin, hand was cut off, held it with the other; and when both were cut off, held it with his teeth. This will appear from a distinct view of the Lord's work on men, in bringing them off from the old stock; which I now offer in these following particulars :
First, When the Spirit of the Lord comes to deal with a person, to bring him to Christ, he finds him in Laodicea's case, in a sound sleep of security, dreaming of hea. there is ven, and the favour of God, though full of sin against the hours Holy One of Israel, Rey. iii. 17. Thou knowest not that. thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and De naked." And, therefore, he darts in some beams of light rre
into the dark soul, and lets the man see he is lost, if he turn not over a new leaf, and betake himself to a new course of life. Thus by the Spirit of the Lord, acting as a spirit of bondage, there is a criminal court erected in the man's breast, where he is arraigned, accused, and condemned, for breaking the law of God, convinced of sin and judgment, John xvi. 8. And now he can no longer sleep securely in his former course of life. This is the first stroke the branch gets, in order to cutting off.
Secondly, Hereupon the man forsakes his former profane courses; his lying, swearing, Sabbath-breaking, stealing, and such like practices; though they be dear to him as right eyes, he will rather quit them than ruin his soul. The ship is like to sink ; and, therefore, he throweth his goods overboard, that he himself may not perish. And now he begins to bless himself in his heart, and look joyfully on his evidences for heaven; thinking himself a better servant to God than many others, Luke xviii. 11. * God, I thank thee, I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers,” c. But he soon gets another stroke with the axe of the law, shewing him that it is only he that doth what is written in the law who can be saved by it; and that his negative holiness is too scanty a cover from the storm of God's wrath : And thus, although his sins of commission only were heavy on him before, his sins of omission now crowd into his thoughts, attended with a train of law-curses and vengeance : And each of the ten commands discharges thunder-claps of wrath against him, for his omitting required duties.
Thirdly, Upon this he turns to a positively holy course of life. He not only is not profane, but he performs religious duties; he prays, seeks the knowledge of the prin. ciples of religion, strictly observes the Lord's day, and like Herod, does many things, and hears sermons gladly. In one word, there is a great conformity in his outward conversation to the letter of both tables of the law. And now there is so mighty a change upon the man, that his neighbours cannot miss to take notice of it. Hence he is cheerfully admitted by the godly into their society, as a praying person, and can confer with them about religious matters, yea, and about soul-exercise, which some are not acquainted with. And their good opinion of him cons.
firms his good opinion of himself. This step in religion , is fatal to many, who never get beyond it. But here the Lord reacheth the elect branch a farther stroke. Conscience flies in the man's face, for some wrong steps in his then conversation ; the neglect of some duty, or commission of some sin, which is a blot in his conversation; and then the flaming sword of the law appears again over his head; and the curse rings in his ears, for him that continueth not in all things written in the law, to do them, Gal. ii. 10.
Fourthly, On this account he is obliged to seek another Salve for his sore. He goes to God, confesseth his sin, seeks the pardon of it, promising to watch against it for the time to come ; and so finds ease, and thinks he may very well take it, seeing the scripture saith, “ If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins," 1. John i. 9. not considering that he grasps at a privilege, which is theirs only who are ingrafted into Christ, and under the covenant of grace, and which the branches, yet: growing on the old stock, cannot plead. And here some times there are formal and express vows made against such and such sins, and binding to such and such duties. Thus many go on all their days, knowing no other religion but to do duties, and to confess, and pray for pardon of that wherein they fail; promising themselves eternalhappiness, though they are utter strangers to Christ. Here many elect ones have been cast down wounded, and many re-, ka na probates have been slain ; while the wounds of neither of them have been deep enough to cut them off from their we re natural stock. But the Spirit of the Lord gives yet a deeper stroke to the branch which is to be cut off; shewing den him that, as yet he is but an outside saint; and discover ing to him the filthy lusts lodged in his heart, which he took no notice of before, Rom. vii. 9. « When the comfortait mandment came, sin revived, and I died.” Then he sees and his heart a dunghill of hellish lusts ; filled with covetous. on ness, pride, malice, filthiness, and the like. Now, as soon as the door of the chambers of imagery is thus opened to him, and he sees what they do there in the dark, his out. side religion is blown up as insufficient; and he learns a ren new lesson in religion; namely, That he is not a Jew which sou is one outwardly, Rom. ii. 28.