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are ways of pleasantness, and all his paths are peace.” And although the way to the kingdom was strait and narrow, yet there are hills and vallies therein as well as plains, until we get through the gate of glory : there shall we know no more sorrow, nor pain; but shall praise and glorify God and the Lamb forever,
“ Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's cloathing; but inwardly they are ravening wolves." Verse 15.
“ Ye, shall know them by their fruits; do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?” Verse 16.
“Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit ; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.” Verse
“A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.” Verse 18.
“Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit, is hewn down, and cast into the fire." Verse 19.
“ Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.” Verse 20.
The great Shepherd and Bishop of Souls shews the care which he takes of his sheep, and forewarns them to be careful of false prophets, and deceivers; who though they may clothe themselves with words like the true ones, yet inwardly they would destroy all who do not join with, or receive them ; and they are for biting the poor harmless sheep of Christ, and if they could, or it were in their power, would devour them, their minds being in the ravening nature.
But our holy, and all-wise Bishop, that we might be preserved from them, tells us how we may infallibly know them ; saying, “ Ye shall know them by their fruits, giving us to understand the reasonableness of his doctrine and assertion of knowing them by their fruits. gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles,” says Christ? Surely no. That is altogether unnatural, as well as unreasonable and impossible. In the grape there is a sweet and pleasant nourishment, those fruits being cordial and wholesome; but it is bad meddling with thistles and thorns, they being generally very unprofitable to man
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kind, and hurt the good seed wherever they grow among it. Well, where must we go for the grapes and the figs? To be sure we must go to the vine, and the fig. tree : Christ is the body of this vine, and his people are the branches, who bring forth such fruit (according to the divine life or sap which they receive) as he taught
, and teaches to his followers. So that if men's words be like the words of angels, if they have never so great parts and endowments; yet if their fruit be evil, if they live in sin, and do iniquity, and bring forth the fruits of malice and rage, or devouring persecution, they then are none of Christ's sheep, though they may have their cloathing: “For every good tree bringeth forth good fruit ; and a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.” So if the fruit be evil, the tree is certainly corrupt.
Our Lord elsewere saith, “Make the tree good, and the fruit will be good also: and to be made truly good (since we are all corrupt by nature, and in the fall), we must be cut off from that nature, and grafted into Christ, who said, “ I am the vine, and ye are the branches ;" and then our lives and fruits will be changed. And then, “A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, nor can a cor. rupt tree bring forth good fruit: and every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit, is hewn down and cast into the fire.” It would be very unnatural, and a mere prod. igy, for one tree to hew down another, and cast it into the fire, as they are natural trees: but that ax (which John speaks of) will be laid to the roots of the corrupt tites, and will hew them down, and they will be cast into the fire, as Christ speaks. This is not a destroying the bodies of men that Christ speaks of, but an inward work in the soul, shewing the powerful nature of the dispensation of the gospel of Christ, which is not material cutting, or burning with material fire, or sword: but Christ's word is a fire and sword to cut down and burn up the evil nature in man.
The apostle confirms this doctrine of his master thus, “ He that doth righteousness is righteous, but he that sinneth is of the devil." The apostle is plain and full, as is Christ, who repeats his doctrine over again, with, “Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.”
herrer Not every one that saith unto me, Lord ! Lord! shall
, 2 It is not our profession that will give us admittance th sa po heaven, nor a name of religion, nor religious per. her me'mances, if we love sin and unrighteousness, nor our Saying, preaching, hearing, reading, or discoursing of,
hare arguing for Christ, if we do the works of satan; for fruit?re are many who may go farther than this, and yet not crive admittance into the kingdom of God...our blessed
yrd Jesus, as is plainly manifest in the next verse.
“Many will say unto me in that day, Lord, Lord, have forth
not prophesied in thy name, and in thy name have st out devils, and in thy name have done many wonuit.
rful works." Verse 22.
“ And then I will profess to them, I know ye not ; part from me, ye workers of iniquity.” Verse 23. So that professing Christ's own name, and prophesy. therein, without working the works of God, will not
Nay, though they may cast out devils, which indeed a great work, and here is not orly one devil in the sinlar number, but devils in the plural. They say they ve cast out devils, and truly there are many devils in or mortals sometimes, as was said by them to Christ; Our name is Legion, for we are many.” There are the 1.1 vils of pride, covetousness, drunkenness, whoredom, aeft, envy, murder, lying, swearing, hypocrisy, cheating, backbiting, &c. and abundance more, which cannot ea
y be named; and though it may be said, and that truly,
at all these proceed from the devil, who is an evil irit; yet it may also be said, that there are many evil atvirits ; and if all these evil spirits are cast out of man, nd others of an evil nature enter him again, his last state
worse than his beginning; as Christ speaks about the rong man armed, who kept the house till a stronger chan he came, who, when he came, spoiled his goods and ispossessed him, but coming again found the house Ir heart) swept and garnished: swept from many immor. . sities, and garnished with self-righteousness, and carnal security; and the man off his watch and not at home with hrist, who is stronger than satan: he then re-enters, and
seven worse spirits with him. So that we had need to
fe be on pur watch, and keep near to Christ, lest after all our experience, and wondrous works, our last state be worse than our beginning, and we shut out of the king. dom in the end. For these say, that they have done many wonderful works in Christ's name: so that we may work miraculous things, and be sensible of wonderful power and strength from Christ; and yet, without per: severing in the way of holiness and self-denial, may fall short of heaven. Wherefore it is bad, and of dangerous consequence, to live in sin and iniquity; or to lean towards it, so as to plead for it, or believe we cannot live without it while in this world. For if we live and die in it, we may justly (according to the above doctrine of Christ) expect that he will say unto us in the great day; “Depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”
“Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, who built his house upon a rock.” Verse 24.
“ And the rains descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house, and it fell not; for it was founded upon a rock.” Verse 25.
Oh! what abundance of excellent sayings, and doc trine, what holy precepts has Christ here recommended to the professors of his name, and to them who believe in him and the Almighty Father and Maker of heaven and earth. Surely we are greatly beholden to our Lord Jesus Christ for those plain divine sayings. But to commend them only is but little, or to read them, or hear them : the keeping and the doing of them is the main thing ; the thing that is needful ; and to press tice of them, Jesus has made this apt comparison.
lst. “He who hears them, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man. And indeed it is great wisdom to keep them (that is, to practise them) and as great folly to live contrary to them, and plead against them.
2d. “Who built his house upon a rock.” This rock is Christ, the rock of ages, and his holy spirit
, or Holy Ghost, as Christ said to Peter, when Christ was revealed to him : - Flesh and blood hath not revealed this unto thee, but my Father who is in heaven :" "Thou ant
ter,” (or a stone or rock): thou art a man, though thy me signifies a rock, and as thy name signifies a rock,
“On this rock will I build my church,” (that is on the irit of the heavenly Father, who revealed Christ to Pe. +) and the church of Christ so built, “the gates of hell inot prevail against it.” And Peter was one who heard
se sayings, and did them, when he had received the */ a5ly Ghost, or spirit; for which every true believer aight to pray continually, until he receive it; through 1 help of which he may, without doubt, keep those holy Tvings. For of ourselves, without it, we cannot do any er tryd good, either in speaking, thinking, or acting. Fri3d. “And the rain descended, and the floods came, o did the winds blew, and beat upon the house, and it fell st; because it was founded upon a rock.” inco If rain from above be poured out in wrath on man, Steie sin and iniquity, and floods of persecution, or the windy words of men come upon this house, it will stand: er sickness and death itself, and many other storms, that d the may meet with here, in this low world, should beat barainst our building, we being built upon the Father, (3)n, and Holy Spirit, shall surely stand them all out, and le through all, if we observe to hear or read Christ's syings, and to practise the same; then they are on the neck, and shall not fall for that reason.
" And every one who heareth these sayings of mine, id doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, ho built his house upon the sand.” Verse 26.
“ And the rains descended, and the floods came, and dide winds blew, and beat upon that house, and it fell ; w great was the fall of it.” Verse 27.
If we read or hear these sayings, or doctrine of Christ, id do not dwell in the life of it, nor practise the same, were better we knew it not. For as our Saviour saith, He who knoweth his master's will, and doth it not, hall be beaten with many stripes.” And doubtless it is reat folly to be sensible of Christ's holy will and docine, and not to do it: if we profess christianity, and to uild our profession on Christ, and yet not observe to eep his sayings, the foundation of our building will be ut very loose and sandy; and when those rains, and