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needle) were powerfully and effectually drawn; and they became one with Jesus.
The graft is bound round with an external bandage; so there can be no state here in which outward means can be dispensed with. The Lord could do without them; but we are commanded to be in the constant use of them. The law of union within; may be, yea, will be, effectual, where it really takes place; but the outward obligations are enjoined and blessed by the Lord. The lawless professor must have a stock of self-wisdom, self-importance, and self-righteousness; but a sense of our extreme poverty will endear the all-sufficiency of him who is all in all.
The real branch in the true vine is one with him in judgment, their views are alike; one in desire, the same objects are fixed on: they are one in will; “Not my will, but thine be done,” said Christ; and so says the Christian. Christ was truly, essentially, and habitually perfect in his judgment, desire, and will; but his followers are only so in part. They feel their deficiencies, and are humbled, that in all things they come short of his glory.
5. The immediate effect of union is communication, the imparting a Divine influence. The root sends its sap through the body into all the branches, to every twig, bud, leaf, and blossom; it gives also flavor, richness, and perfection to the fruit. This vital union is the sprirg of our new estate, the winter being past, the buds are put forth; they are holy and good desires, the longings of the soul after Christ and his salvation. "God will bless the springing thereof;* the bud he will watch, guard, cherish, and bring forward; and its blossom shall appear in all the encouragement of a holy hope; and, in due time, the fruits of faith, love, and obedience, in all their variety, will be found to the praise and glory of God. Then, like the wonderful rod of Moses, this fruitful bough will be ever budding, blooming, and bearing fruit; graces will be ever forming new buds, they will be bringing forward blossoms, and the blossoms shall not fail to give fruit in their
“ By their fruit ye shail know them.” They bring forth the fruits of the Spirit;f the fruits of righteousness;ł the fruits of holiness. These scriptures express the universality of that devotedness to the will of God which is exemplified on the hearts, lips, and lives of those who are united to the living, life-giving, and true Vine. “Joseph is a fruitful bough, even a fruitful bough by a well, whose branches run over the wall."
THE PEELED BOUGH.
Wooburn, Bucks. SIR, My Fruitful Bough has passed under more than an autumnal change
since my last communication. “The summer is over and gone;" and my once flourishing Bough is lamenting, “I am made white, I am peeled, I have no fruit, or blossom, or bud, or bark,” yet
“He hath laid my vine waste, and barked my fig-tree; he hath made it clean bare, and cast it away; the branches.
* Isa. sliv. 3. God's blessing on our buds. See the old Bibles. It may apply as well to our grace, as to our offspring.
+ Gal. y. 22. * James iii. 13. $ Rom. vi. 22.
thereof are made white." This is a figurative representation of the afflicted state of the Jewish church; and may serve to exemplify the experience of tried Christians. The engrafted brand became a fruitful bough; but now it bewails its peeled condition. There are seasons when believers have an affecting sense of their own emptiness, poverty, and inability. It is needful that they should feel that they are nothing, have nothing, deserve nothing, and that they can do nothing, but only as they are in, and aided by the Lord Jesus Christ. These feelings endear the Savior to them.
Some of the most advanced in grace have been sadly peeled and left bare, according to their own account of themselves. It is truly an affliction to a sincere mind to feel its fruitless state. One of the holy prophets, when he heard the songs and high praises of others, “Glory to the righteous," himself exclaimed, “My leanness, my leanness!” Another laments, “Wo is me, for I am as when they have gathered the summer-fruits, as the grape-gleanings of the vintage. There is no cluster to eat. My soul desired the first ripe fruit.”+ But, alas! it fails. “When I would do good, evil is present; and when I expect comfort, it is afar off. O wretched man that I am!" is often the cry of those who are taught the truth as it is in Jesus. Seek, expect, and find all you want in the fulness of Him who filleth all in all.
Self-dependence is a great prevention to a flourishing condition. The withdrawn branch cannot receive the sap from the root; the communications cease, comforts decline, graces wither and decay. An independ* Joel i. 7.
† Mich. vii. 1. # Rom. vii. 21, 22. VOL. III. 11
ent branch will be only fit for fuel.* Indulgence of sią will hinder our advancement; it is like a worm at the root of the plant, which will cause it to fade and die. The neglect of means is often punished with darkness of mind, death on our frames, and the want of comfortable evidence of our being put among the children.
Another cause of distress, is our trusting to and feeding on our comforts, in preferring the streams to the fountain, regarding the incomes of our inheritance more than our title. This was David's case: “Thou madest my mountain so strong, that it cannot be moved. Thou hidest thy face, and I was troubled.” At one time, he could realize the ruin of all his foes: at another, he feared his own overthrow. Our experience must be ever thus fluctuating while we trust on any thing but "oaths, promises, and blood.”
When we survey the magnitude and multitude of our privileges, see our little in.provement, and observe the prosperous condition of others, their firm faith, strong hope, ardent love, growing zeal, enduring patience, amiable uniformity of carriage, we are ready to say, “I am as the barren fig-tree.” How great is the mercy that spares me! Why does not the Lord say, « Let no fruit grow on thee henceforward forever?"'$
The mind sometimes adverts to the singular acts of grace in the experience of Scripture saints. These are recorded in the eleventh of the Hebrews. It tries its own state by these as standards, and is discouraged. W should recollect, that to have the extent of their graces, we should be exactly in-their trials. If we have the needful grace for the day, either to do or suf
* John xv. 6. † Isaiah lix. 2. * Isaiah xlviii. 18. Matt. xxi. 19.
fer, let us not complain. Look forward in hope; and, as good Mr. Newton says, “Leave the packet of tomorrow unopened till to-morrow comes. Sufficient for the day is the evil thereof."
Satan may be permitted to prevail. “The wild boar out of the wood doth waste it, and the wild beast of the field doth devour it."* If the devil is permitted to succeed, he makes the bough very bare. - In reality, as in David's case; and as to sensible evidence, in Job's. He seemed stripped of all, both in body and mind but, in due season, he flourished again.f The enemy is watchful for every favorable opportunity, and diligent to improve it, to distress those whom he cannot destroy. “The God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly."
1. Get it well settled in your experience, that Christ and you are one. If this be not clear, there is not any thing that can go on comfortably: you will droop the wing in your flight towards heaven, your hopes will sink, and your prospects will darken. If you have felt your need of him, have given up yourself to him, received him as the God-man in his person, work, atonement, authority, and offices, adhere to this in renewed exercises; prove it by believing; plead it in the lower court of Conscience, and in the higher court of Heaven; ply it against Law, Justice, Sin, Satan, and Sense. Thus live on the Christ of your comforts, and not on the comforts of your Christ; “for man shall not live on bread alone; but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God, doth man live.”'S 2. Let it be a fixed principle, that you have no in*Psalm lxxx. 13. tJob xlii. 12. #Rom. xvi. 20, SMat. iv. 4.