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“ Having, therefore, these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God."

SERMON IV.

JOHN XV. 4, 5.

66 As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine, no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine ; ye are the branches."

Nothing was more common with our Saviour, in his public discourses, than to make allusions to the natural world. The harmonious dependance which is there displayed is well calculated to illustrate and enforce the mutual relations subsisting in the moral world. For truth is ever consistent with itself, to whatever department of being its principles be applied.

Perhaps there never was a more happy figure of this description than that which is contained in the portion of Scripture of which our text forms a part. In this, our Lord compares his Father to a husbandman, himself to a vine, and his followers to its branches. As a vine depends upon the care of the husbandman for its support, so did he upon the Father ; for he was a teacher sent from God, from whom he had received the immeasurable influence of the divine Spirit. And, as the branches are entirely nourished by the vine, so is the life of the Christian to be altogether directed and maintained by the principles of the Gospel of Christ. And as,

in the time of vintage, the husbandman reaps the fruit of his superintending care, so, in the general harvest of the universe, at the awful consummation of all things, shall we, as the creatures of his power, and the subjects of his moral government, have to account to God for all our conduct.

Thus might this eloquent metaphor of our Lord be so extended, as to bring into view, at once, the first principles and everlasting consequences of the responsibility of our moral nature. It is not, however, my object, in the present discourse, to discuss a subject of such vast extent. I would

I would simply, my hearers, confine your attention to one important point expressed in our text; upon which all our pious hopes in time, and the future glories of

eternity to which we aspire, must turn. It is contained in these words of our Saviour, 66 As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.”

That I may be able the more usefully to illustrate this subject, so interesting to every Christian, I propose, in the first place, to attempt to shew what is necessary to enable us to abide, using the phraseology of the text, in the Lord Jesus Christ : And, secondly, advert to some of those fruits, which Christians are to bear, by thus abiding in the Lord.

I. By a transfer of the word abide from material agency to moral operation, we are to understand by it, as used in this portion of Scripture, an adherence to the doctrine of our Lord, as taught in his everlasting Gospel. In this, the principles of eternal truth are unfolded, for our instruction, our government, and our future salvation. By a conformity to which only, can we be said to abide in Jesus Christ, or bear those fruits which are required of all his followers.

1. In order thus to abide in the Lord Jesus, I apprehend the first pre-requisite to be knowledge ; knowledge of his official character, and of the principles of his Religion. By which I do not mean a mere recollection of historical events ; or that acquaintance which the mind may possess from the frequent recapitulation of circumstances : but such a knowledge as the first followers of our Lord manifested when they exclaimed, “ We have found him, of whom Moses and the Prophets wrote.” For without a conviction of the divine authority of Jesus Christ, and of the purity of his character and doctrine ; unless we receive him as the long-predicted Messiah, filled with the energies, and clothed with the authority of the Spirit of Truth ; unless our knowledge be something more than a mere admission of historical facts; what will it avail ? Such a knowledge we have of Mahommed: but does this unite us unto him ? Such. a knowledge we have of the Jewish ceremonies : but does it dispose us to abide in them? Such a knowledge we may indeed have of Jesus Christ : but how barren and fruitless would it be Such is the knowledge of the merely nominal Christian. Such is the knowledge of the cold-hearted formalist. A knowledge which by no means exalts the soul; or which brings into exercise one moral principle of our nature. A knowledge to which the generous effusions of charity are strange; and

with which the sublime emotions of devotion have no connection.

But that knowledge which forms a constituent part of our union with Christ; which is necessary, with other qualifications, to enable us to abide in him ; is ever immediately preceded by a sense of the want of such knowledge ; and is ever immediately followed by a peculiar relish and enjoyment of it. Such was the case with the first disciples of our Lord. They were looking with heaviness of soul and anxious expectation, for him of whom Moses and the Prophets had written ; and no sooner were they convinced that Jesus was he, than, forsaking their pursuits, they followed him. Thus with the Christian in the present day. He feels the want of heavenly instruction. His mental darkness is irradiated by the light of the Gospel ; and his soul rejoices in the knowledge of divine truth. This is the knowledge which can make us wise unto salvation. This is the wisdom, whose beginning is the fear of God.

2. Such knowledge of our Saviour and his Gospel, is ever accompanied by love. Love, therefore, to his character and his doctrine, of which latter the former was a practical and perfect exemplification, constitutes another

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