Page images
PDF
EPUB

bours, this will be a poor withering gourd that will never shelter you from the wrath of God: the publican that smote upon his breast, and cried, “ God be merci. ful to me a sinner," went home justified more than the Pharisee, that could say, he was not as other men, no extortioner, unjust man, or adulterer, but fasted twice a-week, and, “ I give tithes of all that I possess,” Luke xviii. 8-13. Some set themselves under the tree of legal righteousness, their good works and good frames joined with Christ's righteousness, which they think reasonable, seeing they do not offer to join with it their sins nor their evil works, but their righteousness; nothing but what the law of God requires, and the gospel of Christ calls for ; but there is no other shadow but Christ and his righteousness : for, “ If righteousness come by the law, (in part or in whole,) Christ died in vain," Gal. ii. 21.Some trust to the tree of their own feigned faith : we read of a faith unfeigned; but many have but a feigned faith: they say they trust in God, and believe in Christ; and these are but feigned words, and words of course: and they but sit down under the shadow of their feigned faith, not under the shadow of the apple-tree. Some trust to the tree of rude repentance: when they commit a sin, they run away to God, and say, “I have committed this; Lord, pardon me, • and I shall never do it again.” Many lean much to this tree; but, as Judas repented and cast away his idol silver, and said, “ I have betrayed innocent blood," and yet perished; so will these that trust to any other shadow, but that of the apple-tree; “ They walk but in the sparks of their own kiudling, and will ly down in sorrow," Isa. I. 11.

But these only. are wise and happy that sit down no where else but under the shadow of the apple-tree by faith; for, here is the fruit to be reaped, namely, justification ; being justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law, Gal. ii. 19. Sanctification : we read of them that are sanctified by faith that is in Christ Jesus, Acts xxvi. 18. Adoption flows from this; “We are the children of God by faith;" and, “ To them that believe he gave power to become the children of God,"

John i. 12. Fellowship with God flows from this; for, Christ is said to dwell in the heart by faith, Eph. iii. 17. Here is the door of communion with God in grace and in glory.

6. Hence see, that faith is a composing grace; it is a sitting down under Christ's shadow, under the covert of his blood, under the shadow of his righteousness. And we may try our faith by this improvement it makes of Christ amidst all outward or inward scorchings, whether by outward afflictions or inward tossings, from the apprehension of God's wrath, and assaults with the fiery darts of Satan's temptations. It views Christ as a complete shadow and the sovereigu cure of all, and makes use of him for that end ; and in this usemaking of him just interposes Christ between us and wrath, and between us and whatsoever is troublesome and burdensome to us; this faith is just a man's quieting himself upon this ground; casting anchor here when tossed with tempests and not comforted, saying, " Why art thou discouraged, O my soul ? and why art thou disquieted within mc? Hope thou in God, for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God, Psal. xlii. 11. Return to thy rest O my soul; for the Lord hath dealt bountifully with thee," Psal. cxvi. 7.

7. Hence see, that as the exercise of faith is a pleasant and delightful exercise : so there is not only pleasure and composure of soul in this employment, of taking the benefit of the apple-tree for a shadow, but also sweetness and satisfaction in sharing of the fruits that grow upon that tree; here they eat and feed upon his fruits, that are exceeding sweet to their spiritual taste and experience. What fruit of his ? His words, his works, his manifestations, his communications.

(1.) His words are sweet; hence David cries, “ How sweet are thy words to my taste! sweeter than honey to my mouth,” Psal. cxix. 103. The Jews confessed that “ Never man spake like this man;" and Peter says, 66 Thou hast the words of eternal life.”

(2.) His works are sweet; his incarnation, death, resurrection, and all the fruits of them; his ascension in our nature, leading captivity captive, and giving gifts unto men; his sitting at the right hand of the Majesty on high, in our nature; making continual intercession for his people; his presence in time of trouble, his protection in time of danger, and all the works of his Me. diatorship.

(3.) His manifestations and communications are all sweet. How deliciously entertained is the believing soul, when he manifests himself to him, in another way than he does unto the world, and communicates of his grace, mercy, and loving.kindness unto him.

8. Hence see the duty of all sinners and believers both. It is the duty of sinners to come to the Saviour : if they would have a screen and shadow between them and the wrath of God; they are to come to Christ as the apple-tree, and sit down under his shadow. It is the duty of believers, that have been wandering from their resting place, to return to their rest, and take their seat again under his shadow. As Moses, being a type of Christ, stood in the gap to hold off the wrath of God, Psal. cvi. 23.: so Christ the Mediator of the new covenant stands betwixt us and the heat of God's wrath, and of the wrath of men and devils. O come under the shadow of this apple-tree. " Their sorrows shall be multiplied that hasten after other gods," and that run to other trees for shade and shelter, but comforts shall be multiplied on them that come to this apple-tree, and sit down under the shadow thereof. Christ is the apple-tree, and he is able to help you; “ A man shall be a hiding-place from the storm, a covert from the tempest, as rivers of water in a dry place, and as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land.” Here the weary shall have rest; the seorched shall have shelter; and the faint shall have fruit. As he is able, so he is willing to give all comers welcome entertainment; " Him that cometh, I will in no wise cast out:" Nay, I will be so far from casting him out, that it will never enter into my mind; “I will in no wise cast him out.” Our Lord hath a commission to receive all comers, and to loose all the prisoners of hope , " The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; for he hath appointed me to proclaim liberty to the captives, and to open the prison-doors to them that are bound, to preach good tidings to the meek,” Isa. Ixi. 1. How heartily does he invite you to come! " On the great day of the feast, Jesus stood, and cried, if any man thirsteth, let him come to me and drink; if any man hunger, let him come to me and eat." Wherefore are we sent out to you, but to bring you to the apple-tree.

Permit me next to address myself to you by way of advice. Let me advise you,

1. To be sensible of your great need of this shadow. If any here present be insensible of their need, there are three hands I would send you to for your conviction.

(1.) One is to the law : for, " By the law is the knowledge of sin;" hear what the law says to you, “ Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things written in the book of the law to do them, Gal. iii. 10. That every mouth may be stopped, and all the world . become guilty before the Lord, Rom. iii. 19. When the command thus comes, sin will revive, and you will die,” Rom. vii. 9.

(2.) Go to the Spirit of God, and hear what the Spirit says; “ When he is come he will convince the world of sin : Of sin because they believe not on me,” John xvi. 8, 9. As the law shews that you are unrighteous, so the Spirit shews you are an unbeliever : the Spirit, by the law, shews your malady, and by the law and gospel both, shews your aversion from the remedy.

(3.) You are to hear what conscience says; when the law condemns you as a transgressor of the law, and the Spirit convinces you of sin, because you believe not the gospel; then the proper work of conscience is to pass the condemnatory sentence against you, and to pronounce it in your bosom, making you to say, I am the man, I am the woman that 'hath violated the law of God, and vilified the gospel of God. But when you are convinced, you must not rest here; for,

2. O esteem highly of the apple-tree, and the shadow thereof. How will a scorched, sun-burnt man desire a shadow! and what would a fainting man give for sweet VOL. IX.

T

fruit ? Such is to be had under the shadow of Christ's righteousness. This is the manner and order of the Spirit's work : having convinced of sin, he convinces next of righteousness; he brings first to the fiery law, and then to the fair apple-tree. Let your esteem of him be attended with desire after him and delight in him. I told you the words may read, • I delighted, and sat down ;' it supposes some heart-panting after him, as the hart panteth after the water-brooks, Psal. xlii. 1.

3. O! will you go to the apple-tree. You should not only be sensible of your lost state and condition, and not only desire to be at him, and highly prize and esteem him; but just go to him. How can you sit down under his shadow, if you go not to him? That is, being sensible of your need of Christ, and assured of the worth of Christ, you turn your face towards him, and your back upon every thing opposite to him; to turn your back upon all the trees of the wood, upon all created confidences wherein you was ready to trust, and to go only to the apple-tree for relief.

4. When you come to the apple-tree, then sit down under the shadow thereof; and what is this?. It is just sit down ;,and,

1. Interpose Christ between you and all things that annoy you: put him between you and all fears; between you and all temptations; between you and all hazards; between you and every scorching sun.

(2.) Sit down and stay with Christ, and never part with him, depart who will; let your language be with Ruth, “ Intreat me not to leave, or to return from following after thee; for whither thou goest, I will go; where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God,” Ruth'i. 16. It is remarkable, Christ says to his disciples, “ Will you also go away?”. No says Peter : “ Whither shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life?”

(3.) Sit down and quiet yourself in Christ. The poor spouse of Christ was wandering and restless; she can get no rest without or within doors: she goes bither and thither : she met with the watchmen, and then with

« PreviousContinue »