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end I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit ; and herein is my Father glorified. Before men, we have an indisputable right to exercise the dictate of conscience; but, we must at the same time religiously observe, that we are not to create our own opinions, nor follow the dictate of our own spirits, but to take all from Christ, see that every sentiment and every temper bears the impressive image of the Lord Jesus.
5. THE LIFE OF THE VINE SECURES THE LIFE OF THE BRANCHES, Christ is, indeed, the true and living vine. Because I live, ye shall live also. Your life is hid with Christ in God. He that believeth in me shall not die eternally. Were it possible for the stem to fail, or the root to decay, the branches must inevitably perish. Or, were it possible that the branch could be severed from the vine, death would be equally certain. Neither of these can take place, for Jesus ever lives; the union between his Godhead and manhood, together with the nature of that endless life he received on his resurrection from the dead, announce to us a Redeemer that liveth, the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever ; the fountain of life, ever full, and ever flowing for the felicity of his people! Nor can the people of the Lord be separated from Jesus; he hath declared, None shall pluck them out of my hand; no weapon formed against them shall prosper, to separate them as branches from the living vine. The wisdom, power, grace, and love of Jehovah, formed the union between the branches and the vine; the same attributes are engaged to preserve it; and this union shall issue to the praise and the glory of God for ever! This makes christianity worth possessing. If the foundations were destroyed, what could the righteous do? Thanks be to God for such a permanent
basis for our hope of immortality, and for a source of evangelical life, by which we may be meetned to enjoy him for ever more!
The great question now to be determined by us is, Are we branches of this living vine? A profession of christianity without an union with Jesus will be of no avail. The branch cannot bear fruit except it abide in the vine ; it is unprofitable, and only fit for fuel; neither can you bear the fruit of holiness, the end of which is everlasting life, except ye abide in Jesus. Let us tremble at the idea of being found false and dead branches! Be incessant in prayer with Jesus for his Spirit to teach you your interest in him, and to give you to live on the influence of his grace. Those who are persuaded of their interest, have a source of great gratitude and joy! It is wholly owing to this gracious union you have ever tasted the sweets of redemption, and amidst the events of your life, are preserved unto this day. Plead for more of the virtue of the vine to render you still more fruitful, and in a little while you shall experience a union with Jesus in glory for ever!
AFFLICTIONS FATHERLY CHASTISEMENTS.
DEUT. viii. 5.. Thou shalt consider in thine heart, that as a man chasa teneth his son, 80 the Lord thy God chasteneth thee.
Adictions do not come alone,
A voice attends the rod;
SIN hath strowed the path of man with numberless sorrows. This is the lot of every class, and in every department of life. To afford consolation to sufferers was one design of ancient philosophers in drawing their pens. But, it must be confessed; the sacred WRITINGS afford us the most ample information of the causes, va. riety, and intention of human sufferings; and, at the same time, open those sources of consolation which have been found adequate to support us under the most extreme distresses. We are taught from our text to consider the dispensation of God to us under our calamities, as a necessary argument for resignation and relief; and I am persuaded, when we can duly ascertain the relation and the conduct of God to us, we cannot but submit to his wise disposal in all the events of time. It is therefore presumed, that a discourse on the principle from which God afflicts his people, with the nature, necessity, and advantages of considering it, may not be unacceptable.
1. Let us examine the principle on which God acts towards his people in the afflictive dispensations of his providence. Not as a judge towards a condemned criminal. True, all the Lord's people are sinners; they are by nature children of wrath, even as others; but it is. equally true that Jesus their Redeemer hath answered every demand of the law against them in his own person; and they stand completely justified in his righteous-, ness, and pardoned in his blood; so that there is no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus. This truth is of the highest importance for you to know; there is, therefore, no wrath in God's chastisement of his people, not a single grain is put into the cup of their affliction, for God is fully satisfied in the obedience of his Son, and can never be said to require double satisfaction; besides, were he to give any man the just wages of one sin, it: would be death, and inevitably sink him down in black despair. The words of our text, therefore, correspond with the general current of the Bible, to teach us that the principle on which God afflicts his people is not judicial, but parental. As a man chasteneth, not his ENEMIES, nor his SLAVES, but his son. Let the afflict-ed man first make good his title and interest as a child of God, and new light will appear upon all the · dispensations of Providence towards him; he will then be convinced that all things, however afflictive, do even in the present time, as well as in future, work together for his good. It cannot be otherwise. The Father hath loved such with an everlasting love, secured his salvation by union of interest in his Son Jesus, promised all needful and sufficient grace, and prepared mansions above for him, where no sin nor sorrow shall invade, If a son then and heir, heir of God, and joint heir with Jesus
Christ; can God deal in wrath with such ? Impossible. And so far from God's having exchanged the rod of his wrath for the rod of chastisement being an argument to lead to licentiousness, it will humble the heart, and lead to obedience. Learn, therefore, to make the necessary distinction between vindictive wrath and fatherly chastisement.--I shall add two or three other reflections upon this parental principle mentioned in the text, and on which all the dealings of God to his people are founded: for what person, or what family, though at present exempt from sufferings, may not, ere they are aware, be enveloped in calamity, and need the utmost consolation from the hand of God and man!
As a prudent, affectionate father chastiseth his son', not for wanton pleasure, nor malice in his own heart, but for folly in the child; so God never afflicts willingly the children of men; and, a needs be is always to be discovered in his parental chastisements. Although the sufferings of God's people are not penal; that is, that there is no wrath in them, and that the cup which the Saviour puts into their hand is very different from that which he drank for their sake; yet the procuring cause is sin. Moses, for the sin of his lips, was denied an entrance into Canaan. David, for the sin of his heart, procured an abiding sword in his house. Jonah, for his disobedience, was cast into the sea. And Peter, for denying his Master, was bathed in tears. Yet the chastisement of God to each of those persons was in love, purposely designed as medicinal, and evidently in the issue promoted their good. A wise parent, both as to his judgment and his feelings, can accurately distinguish between his child and his fault; and while he chastises from an hatred his folly and disobedience, he has the most sensible emotions of lova