« PreviousContinue »
body. They only are led by the Spirit of God,55 as the children of God, to live in obedience to the commands of their heavenly Father. They only have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby they cry, Abba, Father 57 or seek for intercourse with the God of heaven, as their reconciled Father, in Christ Jesus their Mediator and Redeemer. If then we would bring forth fruit unto God,58 if we would be filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ unto the glory and praise of God,59 we must be born again, we must be made new creatures in Christ Jesus, we must have new principles communicated to us by the operation of the Spirit of God upon our souls; a new heart must be given us, and a new spirit put within us from above. We are not Christians by nature; for as our Catechism tells us, we are by nature born in sin, and the children of wrath. We must therefore be washed, and sanctified, and justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God, in order that we may inherit the kingdom of God. We must have a new principle communicated to us, called by the Apostle, The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus, in order that we may be made free from the law of sin and death," under which we are held by nature, as the corrupt descendants of fallen parents and ancestors.
57 Rom. viii. 15,2. 58 Rom. vii. 4. 59 Philip.i. 11. 601 Cor. vi. 1 1.
Divine and spiritual life being thus communicated to the soul, the effect of it will appear in the conduct; for, even so, every good tree bringeth forth good fruit. Where the Spirit of God influences the heart, the fruit of the Spirit, which is in all goodness, and righteousness, and truth,1 will necessarily follow. But a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. Hence arises all the evil which abounds in the world. Wickedness prevails as the fruit of native corruption. From an evil heart proceed evil words and actions; those works of the flesh, which are manifestly such; and of which it is declared that they who do these things, who live in the allowed practice of them, shall not inherit the kingdom of God.62 A good tree cannot bring forth this evil fruit; a child of God cannot live habitually in the allowed indulgence and practice of known sin; for they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh, with its affections and lusts.62 They put off the old man with his deeds, and being renewed in the spirit of their minds, they put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. They desire to be followers or imitators of God as His beloved children, and to walk in love, that love to God and man may be the ruling principle of all their conduct. This is the effect which flows from grati
61 Eph. v. 9. 62 Gal. v. 21, 24. 63 Colos. iii. 9. 64 Eph. iv. 23, 24.
tude to the Lord Jesus Christ, who loved us, and gave Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling savour,65 through whom we have pardon of sin, and enjoy peace with God. The children of God cannot therefore take pleasure in doing that which they know to be displeasing to Him, and contrary to His holy will, as it is made known in His word; although they are painfully sensible that in many things they offend, and in all things fall short of that which is their bounden duty, and their reasonable service to Him in whom they live, and move, and have their being, and who giveth them all things richly to enjoy. They cannot live in sin, nor say, Let us sin that grace may abound. They abhor the impious thought. But they may notwithstanding be overtaken in a fault; they may be overcome by the snares and devices of their spiritual enemies, if they do not watch and pray that they enter not into temptation. And until they are recovered from the snare of the devil, by means of humiliation before God, and prayer for pardoning mercy, or in other words, by the exercise of repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ, they can have no reason to imagine themselves to be the children of God, or to have any part or lot in His great salvation.
As then a good tree cannot habitually bring
65 Ephesians v. 1,2. 66 James iii. 2. 67 Romans vi. 1. 68 Acts xx.21.
forth evil fruit, so neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. An evil, or wicked man out of the evil treasure of the heart, bringeth forth evil things.69 He loves what God has forbidden, and therefore practises it. The fear of God is not before his eyes, the love of God is not in his heart; and therefore his conduct is not conformed to the will and commandments of God. Hence arise profaneness and evil-speaking, sabbath-breaking, disobedience to parents and superiors, disloyalty, the indulgence of angry passions, murder, unchastity and adultery, dishonesty, falsehood and perjury, discontent, and coveting what does not properly or of right belong to us; evils with which the world abounds. Where these evils are manifest, it is plain that to please God cannot be the prevailing desire of the mind. These persons know not God, neither do they understand His will, nor their own best interests; therefore they walk on in darkness;70 doing the works of darkness and iniquity. They are living without God in the world." And their state is most awful; for every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Such will be the dreadful end of all the workers of iniquity. From which may the good Lord deliver us, for His mercies' sake.
Our Saviour repeats the important statement,
69 Matthew xii. 25. 70 Psalm 1xxxii. 5. 71 Ephesians ii. 12.
Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. If men are living in the practice of iniquity, in disobedience to the commandments of God, let none imagine that their hearts are better than their heads, as it is often said; but beware of being seduced to follow their evil practices, lest you should perish with them; for be assured that all who are living in sin, are in the broad way that leadeth to destruction, and unless they repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance, works corresponding with a change of heart, and a profession of godliness, they will perish everlastingly.
Such are the forcible statements with which our blessed Saviour introduced the important declaration in the text. Not every one that saith unto Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of My Father, which is in heaven. From these words we may
First, The nature of the Christian profession; and
Secondly, The character of those who alone will partake of the eternal blessedness promised to believers in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Those who profess and call themselves Christians, and who are such in reality, address Jesus Christ as their Lord and God; and they do this
72 Matthew vii. 13.
73 Acts xxvi. 20.