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stance that must be noticed ; the produce will be examined, and if it is good fruit, it will be praised and imitated, it will excite the wonder and admiration of all beholders. It is remarkable that the rulers and elders of Israel expressed astonishment when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men; they marvelled, and took knowledge of them, “ that they had been with Jesus.” Thus it will be with all who are in any way connected with a mere professor of the gospel ; as soon as such an one begins to bring forth fruit, they will take knowledge of him, that he has been with Jesus. It will be no disgrace to be thus noticed, for Christ is no longer a man of sorrows; suffering contumely, and reproach, as was the case when Peter and John boldly professed his name.
On the contrary, “ it will be an honour to appear, as one new born, and nourished there.”
It is well, because bearing fruit at last will shew that the soul is not destined to destruction :
“ Every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire." We readily admit that no one in his senses would carelessly expose himself to perdition, and yet it is difficult to think ourselves obnoxious to eternal wrath ; because it is so natural for every one to entertain a good opinion of himself, and to conclude that he is everything which God requires him to be. How frequently do we hear it said, “ I am honest and just to all men, I pay every one his own, I do my duty, &c., and therefore hope to be saved.” Alas, is this bearing fruit? is this the right kind of fruit? is this good evidence of a title to salvation ?
“ Not by works of righteousness that we have done, but according to his mercy he saveth us, by the washing of regeneration, and the renewing of the Holy Ghost.”
The last remark I make is, on the justice of the final sentence. “ If it bear fruit, well ; and if not, then after that thou shalt cut it down." To have placed a tree upon the ground, without having planted it, or watered it, or pruned it, would not have been acting with common prudence and care; but to have expected fruit from a tree so situated would have been madness. On the contrary, having planted, watered, pruned, dug about it, and given it manure, it would be but reasonable to look for some return as a recompence for cost and labour. Now when God brings an individual whom he has endowed with reason under the sound of the gospel, and thereby makes him acquainted with his lost and undone condition, while he remains in a state of sin; and at the same time holds out his sceptre of love towards him, declaring himself to be a God ready to pardon, and not willing that any should perish ; and also makes him acquainted with the way, the only way, in which salvation can be effected, if that man does not embrace the promised pardon in the appointed way, can it be supposed that he has any one but himself to blame? And when at the same time the threatenings of a broken law are announced, can it be thought unjust that those threatenings are executed ? Reader, be sure that if you do not bring forth the fruits of repentance and faith, after having been made acquainted with the necessity thereof,--if, after line upon line, and precept upon precept, have been given you—if, after the word of God has been faithfully declared unto you, you reject the counsel of God against yourself, there remains nothing but “a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.” “He who despised Moses' law, died without mercy under two or three witnesses. Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye,
shall he be thought worthy who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace ?” If, after having had the privilege of hearing the gospel, you refuse to enter into covenant with a merciful and gracious High Priest, and will not come unto him that you may be washed from your pollutions, you will eternally be made to feel the justice of your final sentence.
6 Then said he unto the dresser of his vineyard, Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none; cut it down, why cumbereth it the ground? And he answering, said unto him, Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it, and dung it, and if it bear fruit, well; and if not, then after that thou shalt cut it down."
We may learn the awful consequences of making a barren profession. When a barren tree is cut down, it is for fuel ; when a barren soul is launched into eternity, it is to suffer the pains of everlasting burnings; “where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.”
Reader, you and I ought to consider how much fruit our Lord is entitled to from each of us. We have been digged about, and manured; the dews of heaven have descended upon us ; the Sun of righteousness has shone with healing in his beams. I have endeavoured to warn, and to invite you; you have been taught the way
of salvation, and the things that accompany salvation ; you have been lured towards the narrow way that leads to life, you have been cautioned to shun the road that terminates in death. On one hand a crown of glory has been placed before you, on the other hand the torments of the damned have been
opened to your view ; everything that sincerity could devise, has been done to cause you to bring forth fruit; and under these circumstances I charge you to nquire of yourself whether or not you have brought forth fruit in proportion to the culture, of whatever kind, that has been bestowed upon you.
It would be well also to be very scrupulous in examining the fruit that you do bring forth, whether or not it is of the right sort; whether or not it is good fruit. It is very easy to deceive yourself; you may be making a visible profession of adherence to the Lord Jesus Christ; you may be sacramentally implanted in him, and yet not be a member of his body ; but, “ by their fruits shall ye know them.” Moral discipline, a regular and formal attendance on the ordinances of his house, works of charity not performed from pure and disinterested love to the Redeemer, are not fruits of righteousness. And it will be well if you will take the trouble to examine all your doings, making the word of God your standard of comparison.
It will be well to bear in mind the importance of bringing forth fruit before the season is ended; before the day of grace is closed by death : “ If not, then after that thou shalt cut it down." Let this
be commenced with new resolutions, for if you persevere in the ways of sin, God can cut you off from the means of grace, or he can withdraw his restraining grace, and send you strong delusions; he can put the mark of damnation upon your forehead, ready for the fires of hell, before he cuts you down by death. Bear fruit, and let it be good ; bring forth much fruit, that there may be no uncertainty whether or not you are a barren tree.
A LADY strictly attached to the observance of the church of England informed me that the reason assigned for keeping Lent is, that “ Our Saviour fasted forty days, and we are told it is our duty to follow his example ;” and with this vague and undefined notion she, in common with others of her denomination, “keeps Lent."
The passage of scripture on which this observance is founded is the following: “ Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterwards an hungered.” During this period he was miraculously supported, and there needs no argument to prove it. Christ's miraculous deeds are not recorded in scripture for our imitation; otherwise why not follow his example in healing the sick, and the blind, and the lame? for we are as able to do these cures as we are to fast forty days and forty nights. Our Saviour fasted but once in his lifetime for forty days and forty nights; papists mock the observance every year; they call it keeping Lent, but it is only pretending to do it. Keeping Lent is a relic of popery, and church of England people think it a desirable farce to imitate. But if the example of Christ