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Let me suppose
the question asked by the great God at myself in particular, what answer should I give? Would it not certainly be this ? Lord, I broke covenant with thee in Adam, voluntarily threw off thy yoke and service for that of Satan, by eating of the forbidden fruit, which thou dischargedst
me to touch, or taste, under the awful penalty of death, Gen. ii. 17. and iii. 3., and thereby fell from rectitude, having lost thy image, which is the reason of my degeneracy, and being crooked and thwart to thy divine and righteous law. But glory to God in the highest; though man did thus degenerate, and become the plant of a strange vine, in and through the covenant of grace, entered into betwixt God the Father, and God the Son, in the name of the elect from all eternity, he is again set right: the effects of which all-gracious covenant were, that God the Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, in the fulness of time came from heaven to earth, not to condemn the world, as our guilty fears might well have suggested, but to fulfil the covenant of works, which man had basely violated, by yielding a perfect obedience to the divine law, and undergoing the penalty which was denounced against man, in case of his disobedience, and to deliver those for whom he became surety, from going down to the pit : In and through whose obedience and all-atoning death, fallen men are not only delivered from the condemnatory sentence of a broken law, but also restored again to the favour and friendship of “ in heaven,” Matth. vii. 16. John xv. 4, 5, 14. Matth. vii. 21.
Now, if I find these marks in myself, it is well, but if not, lest I share the fate of that barren fig-tree, mentioned in scripture, let me fly to Christ Jesus by faith, receiving and resting upon him alone for salvation, as he is offered to me in the gospel ; that so being united to him who is the true vine, I may bring forth fruit that shall be well pleasing to God, and comfortable to myself.
I observe several trees so skilfully pruned that not a sucker from the roots, nor a superfluous branch, nor withered bough on them, is to be seen, either to mar their beauty, or retard their growth, while many others I see stand neglected, having not only various suckers springing from their roots, but also covered over with branches which prove pernicious to both their comeliness and growth, and draw off the sap which otherwise would nourish, lengthen, and strengthen their trunks. Just so it is with respect to men; the Great Husbandman purgeth some from the love of the world, by chastening them