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would be so too. But though the best obedience the Christian can render hath no merit in it, and he would reprobate the most distant idea of pleading it at the tribunal of justice, yet surely it hath its pleasures. Make trial of it, Christian.--You have made trial. Tell me then, you who rank among the most unfruitful of Christ's real disciples, whether you have not tasted a sweetness in holy duties, a satisfaction in aets of brotherlykindness, and a pleasure in the moderate use of worldly enjoyments, that infinitely exceeds all the boasted joys of profane and wicked men? Would you then be happy, go and bring forth fruit; do all the good you can, and give God the glory.

2. Fruitfulness affords a noble proof of a man's uprightness, and so tends indirectly as well as directly to promote his happi


With what anxiety does the sincere but timorous Christian often put the following questions to himself:-“Am I renewed by the grace of God? Have I ingenuously repented of my sins? Do I truly believe in the Lord Jesus Christ? Is there a spark of real love in my breast to the divine Saviour? And may I venture to reckon myself among the number of his disciples ?" Important questions ! Our comfort is much concerned in obtaining satisfactory answers to them. But how do we expect to have them answered? There is such a thing as God's Spirit bearing witness with our spirits, that we are the children of God a. But the asking in a right manner the testimony

of God's Spirit, implies the paying a due regard to the testimony of our own spirit. And by what evidence are we to judge of the truth or falsity of this testimony, but that which is laid down in the word of God? And what is that?- It is our bearing fruit. Herein is my Father glorified, says Christ, that ye bear much fruit, so shall ye be my disciples, or so shall ye give proof that ye are my disciples b. Hereby we know that we know him, if we keep his commandments; that is, if we aim to keep his commandments c. Again, Every one that doth righteousness is born of God d.

And now, if, from a regard to the authority of God, and a sense of our infinite obligations to his grace, we make it our aim to bring forth the fruits of holiness; though these fruits may a Rom. viii. 16. :b John xv. 8. cl John ii. 3. di John ii. 29.

not be a hundred, or sixty, but only thirty-fold; though through a combination of circumstances they may be very inconsiderable indeed; yet we possess an authentic testimony that we are the genuine disciples of Christ. And the knowledge of this tends directly to promote our peace and happiness. But what a further accession of strength does this evidence receive, from that abundance of fruitfulness which distinguishes some characters from others ! An apostle who brought forth an hundred-fold, conscious that he acted from the purest motives, and receiving the immediatè testimony of God's Spirit; could not fail of having every doubt respecting his state removed, and so enjoying a full assurance of faith. And how unspeakable must his happiness have been! Who that fears God does not envy him of the sweet peace, the abiding satisfaction, and triumphant joy he possessed?

Should not this then serve as one motive, among many others, to animate us to love obedience? And if we are so happy as to arrive at an assurance of hope, that fruitfulness which may have contributed to clear up our evidence of interest in the favour of God, will not soothe our vanity, but be humbly and thankfully acknowledged to have originated from the seasonable influence and assistance of divine grace. View the Christian then walking in the light of God's countenance, and having the joyful testimony of his own conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity he has his conversation in the world; and say,

whether he is not of all men the most happy?

3. The esteem, too, in which he is held among his fellowChristians, must contribute not a little to his comfort.

To be honoured and loved by wise and good men is a great blessing. This blessing we may covet, and if we bring forth fruit we shall enjoy it. The world' indeed, reproved by our good deeds, will hate us; slothful professors, not caring to imitate us, will disgustfully turn away their attention from us; but in the eye of those who truly fear God, we shall be the excellent of the earth. They will be fond of associating with us, and feel an attachment of heart to us like that of David to Jonathan.

Whatever in the creation is beautiful and useful, and best answers the ends of its existence, will be admired by a sensible

observer. When I go through a field covered with a golden crop, or walk in a garden laden with rich fruits, the sight pleases my eye: I praise the hand that cultivated the one, and dressed the other, and give glory to the God of nature who crowned their labours with his blessing. In like manner, when I see a Christian acting under the influence of his principles, bridling his passions, cherishing every noble and generous sentiment, copying after the example of his divine Master, going about doing good, and giving the most undisguised proofs of meekness, benevolence, and piety; O how pleasing is the sight! I stand and gaze upon him, I feel I love him, I wish to have him for my most intimate friend, I pray God to bless him, and I rejoice in the hope of spending an eternal sabbath in his company.

Good nature, learning, wit, and other shining talents have heir attractions; but a man of the character I am describing, though of inferior mental abilities, is far more amiable in the eye

of him whose senses are exercised to discern good and evil, than the most exalted genius that is destitute of the fear of God. There is no comparison between them. Angels hail the former, but despise the latter. These are held in detestation by God the Judge of all those are greatly beloved by him ; for their bosoms are the temples of the Holy Ghost.-Once more,

4. How glorious will be the rewards which the fruitful Christian will receive, at the hands of the great Husbandman, on the day of harvest !

That day is approaching. Mark the perfect man, behold the upright, for the end of that man is peace a. Going down to death like a shock of corn fully ripe, the precious grain shall lie secure in the bosom of the earth; angels shall keep their vigils about it; while the immortal spirit, acquiring its highest degree of perfection, shall join the company of the blessed above. These will hail the stranger, with loud acclamations of joy, to the mansions prepared for its residence in heaven; and these too, unused to censure and detraction, will applaud his works that follow him thither with heartfelt approbation and delight. Yea, the blessed Jesus himself, whose word was the seed whencé all this fruit sprung, and whose Spirit gave life and energy to it; will say, Well done, good and faithful servant; enter thou

Psal. xxxvii. 37.

into the joy of thy Lord a. Nor is this all: At the day of the resurrection, the body, whose members had been instruments of righteousness unto God b, shall be changed and fashioned like unto the glorious body of Christ, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things to himself c. And thus, united to a pure and spiritual body, the Christian, amidst an infinite multitude of others who had heard the word, and kept it, and brought forth the fruits of it, shall be acknowledged, approved, and applauded by the sentence of Christ his righteous Judge, pronounced in the presence of the whole world. So'shall he and they be caught up with the ascending Saviour to the abodes of bliss above, and there be for ever with the Lord.

And now, all these things laid together, how great is the blessedness of the fruitful Christian! What remains then, but that we take fire at these considerations, and resolve, in a humble dependance on divine grace, that we will endeavour to outdo each other in love and good works! Has our divine Master redeemed us with his precious blood, obtained the Holy Spirit to renew and sanctify us, blessed us with the means of before us his own perfect example, and given us such exceeding great and precious promises ? And shall we content ourselves, after all this expense he has been at for our good, with making him the return of a few cold heartless services, for the promoting his honour and interest in the world ? No, Christian. Such conduct would be most ungrateful and disingenuous. Let me beseech you then, my beloved brethren, to be steadfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord; forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord d. the word of the kingdom is the seed whence fruitfulness is to be expected, let us receive it with meekness, remembering that it is able to save our souls e. And let our Saviour's own exhortation, with the explanation and improvement of which we shall close these discourses, have its due weight with us all,—Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.

grace, set

And as

c Phil. ii. 21,

a Matt. xxv. 21.
d I Cor. xv. 58.

6 Rom. vi. 13.
e James i. 21,


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Matt. X111. 9.-Who hath ears to hear, let him hear. In such manner does our Saviour close the Parable of the Sower, exhorting his hearers with great earnestness and affection a, to weigh well and consider what he had said. The same phrase occurs in other parts of Scripture b; and was well adapted, as here used by our Lord, to convey the following ideas to the minds of the people--that the discourse he had been delivering was parabolical—that the truth veiled under the parable was most important--that their seriously considering it was absolutely necessary to their profiting by it—and that they were not to complain it was unintelligible, for that, if they were not benefited by his instructions, the fault would be in the perverseness of their wills, rather than in any defect in their natural or mental powers. Let us briefly elucidate these remarks, before we proceed to the main point in view, which is the explaining and enforcing the great duty of considering the word preached.

1. Our Lord evidently meant, by the language of the text, to remind his hearers, that it was an apologue, fable, or parable he had been delivering.

This mode of instruction obtained much in ancient times and eastern countries, as we have had occasion to observe before; and it was usual too, either at the beginning or close of the discourse, to intimate as much to the audience. So that our Saviour's audience would have been inexcusable, had they gone away pretending, that all he had been doing was to give them a lecture in husbandry, or to amuse them with an idle tale of sowing and reaping, matters they well enough understood be

A TAUTU neywe sowieso Luke introduces the text, chap. viii. 8.-which words Dr. Doddridge thus paraphrases, “ When he had said these things, he cried out with a louder voice than before,&c. 6 Matt. xi. 15. xiii. 43.-Rev. ii. 7, 11, 17, 29. iji. 6, 13, 22. xiii. 9.

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