« AnteriorContinuar »
and a gift to preach it, and to do miracles. Yea, they may have all knowledge, and understand all mysteries, and speak with the tongue both of men and angels, and yet be nothing in God's account. Paul adds,
“ And [taste] the powers of the world to come.” If by the powers of the world to come be meant the gospel, they taste a joy and a delight in it; and if by the powers of the world to come be meant the power of working miracles, as is most likely, then many have had this. “Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name; and in thy name cast out devils; and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you; depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” In which they tasted joy, zeal, and delight; which always lift such men up with pride, till they fall into the condemnation of the devil. And so it follows,
“ If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance.” And what is to hinder their falling away, seeing the things that accompany salvation are not in them? And seeing, also, that.
“ They crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.” In their apostasy they shew themselves to be of the same spirit as the Jews, who crucified Jesus through envy, and tried to put him to shame by a crown of thorns and a mock sceptre; and they deal with his cause, and his body mystical, as they did with
Christ personal. And such hypocrites, when their reprobation is made manifest to themselves and others, are the most desperate enemies to Christ and his people. Paul goes on to touch upon God's husbandry.
“For the earth, which drinketh in the rain that cometh oft upon it, and bringeth forth herbs meet for them by whom it is dressed, receiveth blessing from God.” Here is the good ground, the honest and good heart, upon which Christ comes down as showers upon the mown grass, and as rain that waters the earth: this doth not wither for want of moisture, but it brings forth herbs, Prov. xxvii. 25, meet for the Trinity, by whom it is dressed. This, says Paul,
Receives blessing from God. This soil is blessed of God, and cannot wither, nor fall away, nor be cursed, nor be burnt, as the other barren soil is. As it follows:
But that which beareth thorns and briers is. rejected." These are the thorny-ground hearers, in whom, Christ says, the word that they tasted is choked by riches, wordly cares, and the lust of other things, Mark iv. 19. But God's elect are not briers and thorns, but fir-trees and myrtles. “ Instead of the thorn shall come up the fir-tree, and instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree, (and these shall neither be cursed nor burnt,] and it shall be to the Lord for a name, for an everlasting sigo, that shall not be cut off,” Isaiah lv. 13.
But that which beareth briers and thorns is rejected. It is a full and an undoubted evidence of their reprobation. “ Reprobate silver shall inen call them, because the Lord hath rejected them." By which it is easy to see that Paul says nothing of these hypocrites but what Moses and the prophets have said. God says, men shall call them reprobates, for the Lord hath rejected them; and Paul says, that which beareth briers and thorns is rejected : and adds,
" And is nigh unto cursing; whose end is to be burned.” Some people pervert this passage of holy writ, and say that this hypocrite, in his great accomplishments, is a real child of God; and that it is impossible for him to fall away. But I say it is impossible for him to stand. For, let him have what gifts he may, they must all be taken from him in the year of jubilee, or in the gospel day, Ezek. xlvi. 16, 17. He that hath not grace, but a gift, it shall be taken away, even that which he hath, Mark iv. 25.
They are nigh unto cursing. They are under the curse of the law, and never were delivered from it, but they are nigh unto it: nigh unto the execution of God's most dreadful curse, which they are ripening apace for, and are nigh unto, by crucifying the Son of God afresh, and by their being reprobates, not elect souls; rejected, not chosen in Christ; nigh unto cursing; never blessed with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.
Whose end is to be burned. Whose decreed end is to be burned, body and soul, in hell fire; they being rejected, or reprobated, of God. And if this is the state of a child of God, then wo be to such a child! Any body is welcome to take up the pen and prove me a liar, and make my speech nothing worth, if they can. I have not a single doubt but God will enable me to defend it; and, if God spare my life, I will defend it. Prophecy abounds with the destruction of these briers and thorns. Read Isaiah ix. 18. x. 17. xxvii. 4. xxxii. 13. These hypocrites went far enough beyond Mr. Vessey: but these accomplished hypocrites, described by Paul, are no other than the house in the Saviour's parable, which Satan deserted till it was empty, swept, and garnished, and then he repossessed it; till the last state of that man was worse than the first. Peter's dog that returned to his vomit belongs to the same select band, whose last end was worse than the beginning. But Paul goes on,
“ But, beloved, we are persuaded better things of you, and things that accompany salvation, though we thus speak. For God is not unrighteous, to forget your work and labour of love which ye have shewed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister.” Here Paul harps upon the bond of the covenant; the better things that accompany salvation are the work and labour of love: this is charity, which Paul calls the more excellent way; and without which, let a man have what gifts he may, he is nothing. In short, a man must be regenerated, born again, and renewed, before he can have any real appetite or relish for those spiritual things that accompany salvation. It is the new-born babe, and not the unregenerate, that desires the sincere milk, or comforting nourishment, of the word of God. Hypocrites may covet and relish spiritual gifts, because of the double honour that attends a good minister of Jesus: and many covet them for filthy lucre, and others because they are too idle to work for their bread. Yea, many of the basest characters have coveted this highest station, who were never' worthy of the lowest room. Simon Magus offered large money for the power of being a minister of the Spirit; or of communicating the Holy Ghost to whomsoever he would, by the laying on of his hands; who, at the same time, was in the gall of bitterness, and in the bonds of iniquity, Acts viii. 23. But not so the soul that God has formed for himself. The new man has a spiritual palate, a spiritual appetite, and a spiritual belly, John vii. 38. He tastes and sees that the Lord is good; “ Blessed is the man that trusteth in him," Psalm xxxiv. 8. Here is a man blessed of God; and, if so, his soul is blessed with eternal life, for that is God's blessing; as it is written, Upon mount Zion hath God commanded the blessing, even life for evermore, Psalm cxxxiii. 3. This man trusts, or believes, in the Lord; and he tastes and sees that the Lord is