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Judgment to come; are very expressively S E R M. termed, the Fruits of the Spirit; the na-^J^ tural Produce of a Mind rightly instructed in the Doctrines of Truth, and directed and influenced in all its- Actings, by a just Sense of what is Right in itself and Acceptable to God. Gal. v. 22. The Fruit o/' the Spirit, is Love, Joy, Peace, Long-suffering, Gentleness, Goodness, Faith, Meekness, Temperance. And They who by a virtuous course of Life in their whole converfation, and in every part of their Behaviour in the World, show that their Religion is not an empty Notion, or external Form of Godliness, a mere Denomination of a Sect or Party; but a real Principle and Ground of Action, a real Rule and Guide of life and manners; are by the Apostle described under This character, that they bring forth Fruit unto God; having their Fruit unto Holiness, and the End everlasting Life, Rom. vi. 22. vii. 4. The Figure, is the very same with That made use of in the Text: Evert . Tree is known by his own Fruit; for of Tfxrns men do not gather Figs, nor of a Bramble-bujh gather they Grapes. And the literal sense of it is explained by our 1 Saviour
Se Km.Saviour himself in the very next words t following, ver. 45. A good man, out of the good Treasure of his Heart, bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man, out of the evil treasure of his Heart, bringeth forth that which is evil: For of theabundance of the Heart, bis Mouth fpeaketh. Now according to "This explication, 'tis evident that, whether by this figurative phrase, every Tree, we understand the Person himself who acts, or the Principles from which his Actions flow; the Sense is, either way, one and the same. By the Actions of a man's Life, by the whole Course and Tenour of his Behaviour in the World, and by no other distinction whatsoever, can be ascertained the True Character of any Person, and the Real Goodness or Badness of his Principles. External Names and Denominations, either of Things or Persons, are all deceitful. Pretences to Opinions and DoUrines, may be all fallacious. Forms and Observances of all kinds may be hypocritical. Any thing may be called by Any Name, and Any thing may appear under. Any Shape. But never can it happen in Any cafe, that of Thorns men mould gather
ther Figs, or that of a Bramble-bush they Serm. should gather Grapes. Never can it hap- VI. pen in Any case, that men of corrupt Principles and vitious Lives, can really, have any True Religion; or that Any True Religion, any Doclrine that is from God, mould be the Parent of any Vice or of any Folly, of any Absurdity, of any Cruelty, of any Pride, Tyranny, or Contentiousness, or of any thing mischievous among men. The Acknowledgment and the rational Worship of God who ruleth over AU j The Universal Love and Goodwill of All men towards All, in which our Lord declares all the Law and the Prophets, and all the Goft>el too, to be summarily contained; The Sobriety, Holiness, and Virtuous Living, which the Religion of Christ requires in Those, who expect a Judgment to come, and who (according to his Promise) look for new Heavens and a new Earth, wherein dwelleth Righteousness: These things can no more possibly be the real productive Cause of any thing hurtful to Mankind, than a Vine can bring forth any other Fruit than Grapes, or a Fig-tree than Figs or than Sheep (according to another of our Lord's Voj.. Ut K simili
S E R M. similitudes) can juAly be charged with v*- the Rapine committed by Wohes in Sheeps-clothing. There is no Principle in Nature of more certain and necessary truths, . of more evident Clearness, of more universal Extent and Usefulness than This. And for This reason our Saviour, upon so many occasions, and in numerous Places of the Golpel, repeats this Maxim, and makes perpetual Allusions to it. Thus Matt. vii. 15. Beware of false Prophets, which come to you in Sheeps-clothing, but inwardly they are ravening Wolves: Ye Jhall knew them by their Fruits: Do men gather Grapes of Thorns, or Figs of Thistles? A good Tree cajjnot bring forth evil Fruit, iicither can a corrupt Tree bring forth good Fruit: Every Tree that bringeth not forth good Fruit is hewn down and cast into the Fire: Or, as he elsewhere expresses himself concerning the hypocritical Pharisees; Matt. xv. 13. Every Plant, which my heavenly Father had not planted, shall be rooted up. Again, Matt. xii. 33, 34. Concerning the fame hypocrites, when, under a pretense of Zeal for Religion, they blasphemed both the DcBrine and the Works of the Holy Ghost; 0 Generation ration of Vipers, lays he, how can ye, be-SvR M. ing Evil, speak Good things? Either make VIthe Tree good, and his Fruit good; or elseU^r** make the Tree corrupt, and his Fruit corrupt; For the Tree is known by his Fruit: That is; Either forbear these wicked and unrighteous Practices, or pretend not to make Profession of Religion at all. To mention but One place more: Job. xv. 1. 1 am the true Vine, faith our Lord, arid my Father is the Husbandman. Every Branch in me that beareth not Fruit, he taketh away % and every Branch that beareth Fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more Fruit. The Meaning is: The Belief of the Doctrine of Christ, and of a Judgment to come, is the Foundation, the Root or Principle of all Christian Virtues: Every man therefore who calls himself a Christian, and yet lives not in the Practice of Christian Virtue; is rejected of God, as a Dead Branch; as having no participation in That Vital Principle which alone unites him to Christ here, and entitles him to a Share in his Kingdom hereafter.