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which is not according to God's own word will not so impress the heart, will not be so watered by the dew of heaven, as to bring forth where it is sown the proper fruits of the Spirit, "longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, meekness, temperance." In nature, the produce depends upon the parent tree: men do not gather grapes where thorns have been planted, or figs where thistles have grown up and so it is also in the field of grace; every good tree bringeth forth good fruit: faithful teachers of sound doctrine effect that purpose which God designed, when He sent forth His messengers to preach the gospel in the world. They become the instruments through which men are "redeemed from iniquity," and made "a peculiar people, zealous of good works." Every teacher that does not exhibit that character in himself, and study to produce it in others, is a false teacher. Every doctrine which does not tend to promote individual righteousness and holiness, is false doctrine.
St. Paul, for example, complains of Hymenæus and Philetus, who "concerning the truth had erred, saying that the resurrection was passed already; and overthrown the faith of some.' He complains also of false brethren who troubled the Galatians, and perverted the gospel of Christ; taught them that the sacrifice once offered upon the cross was not a full, perfect, and sufficient propitiation for the sins of all men, and
'Gal. v. 23.
2 Tim. ii. 17. 7 Gal. i. 7; iv. 12.
would not avail for salvation, unless they were circumcised, and conformed to the law of Moses. St. John, again, warns his disciples against false prophets who had gone out into the world, denying that Jesus Christ had come in the flesh i. e. denying that the Son of God had really taken on himself the nature of man. If we try these teachers by their fruits, we see plainly that none of them could build up their hearers in that true faith of the gospel, to which is annexed the promise of eternal life.
To say "that the resurrection is passed already," is to overthrow the basis of our Christian faith to take from men their hope in the season of trial, and their defence against temptation. "Then is our faith vain, and they that are fallen asleep in Christ are perished."
If, as the Judaizing teachers affirmed, rites and ordinances can procure the forgiveness of sins, then is the work of Christ dishonoured, his sacrifice made of none effect: to hold this is to "fall from grace," and seek to be "justified by the law."
And, again, unless we believe Jesus did really "come in the flesh," taking from his human mother the nature of man, there can be no right understanding of the scheme of redemption; the deliverer from sin bearing its punishment in the nature of the sinner; "wounded for our transgressions, and bruised for our iniquities;" "the Lord laying on Him the iniquity of all:" that as 1 Gal. v. 4. 8 1 John iv. 1, 3.1 Cor. xv. 14—18.
"in one man, Adam, all died, even so in Christ," the second Adam, should "all be made alive."2
The work of such teachers "would not abide in the day that shall try every man's work, of what sort it is:" it would show its own unsoundness, by the unsoundness of the fruits which grow from it: and every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit, is hewn down, and cast into the fire. A man does not plant a tree, but for the purpose of obtaining fruit: and if no good fruit appear, he loses his labour, and says to the husbandman; "Lo, these three years I come to this fig-tree, seeking fruit, and find none: cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground!" So with the prophets. If their doctrine do not bear the fruits of righteousness, lead to "those good works which God hath ordained that we should walk in them," it comes from a corrupt stock, not of the Lord's planting; and though the tree may be suffered for a while to disfigure His earthly vineyard, it can have no place in His everlasting kingdom.
Therefore believe not every spirit, but try the spirits, "whether they be of God." Ye shall know them by their fruits. "For when they speak great words of vanity, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through much wantonness, those that were clean escaped from them that live in error. Whilst they promise liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption."
THE TRUE FOUNDATION.
MATT. vii. 24-29.
24. "Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock :
25. "And the rain 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.
26. "And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand:
27. "And the rains descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it."
THE similitude in this passage is every way exact. Men build a house, looking to future time. And they look to future time, when they "take the yoke of Christ" upon them. They are in life, nay, in health, and in strength; but they look to the time of weakness, and of age, and of death, and of judgment; and against that season they lay a foundation and provide a refuge.
Neither is it enough, to lay a slight and inadequate foundation, and build what they may design to be a refuge. The man is called wise, who builds on a sure foundation, and lays it on a rock. Will a builder say, that because it is calm weather, or low water when he builds, he will neglect his foundation, and place his house
on the sandy shore? For a while indeed it might stand; just as while a man is well, or prosperous, or busy, he may feel no alarm, be sensible of no danger, and find no want of a just title to religious confidence. But the house which stood secure while all was calm, rocks and totters when the storms arise. All within is hurry, confusion, and alarm. So it is with the man who heareth these sayings and doeth them not who has named the name of Christ, and said unto Him, Lord, Lord, but has not made the gospel his rule of life, nor been zealous to do the will of his Father which is in heaven. Such nominal religion is a sandy foundation, which will neither stand in the hour of death, nor in the day of judgment. It will not stand in the hour of death: for a man will feel reminded then of what he had before forgotten, that "without holiness no man can see the Lord;" that the Saviour condemned those who "called Him Master and Lord," and "did not the things which He said." Neither will it stand in the day of judgment: for Christ has Himself declared, that He will reply to such as trusted in their Church to save them, and in their Christian name to save them, and showed no other signs of being in his faith:-I never knew you, ye that work iniquity.
Here then is a sufficient reason why we should never be satisfied, as though we "had already attained, either either were already perfect;" but
1 John xiii. 13.