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THE FRUITS OF THE SPIRIT, THE SAME WITH MORAL VIRTUES.
For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, and righteousness, and truth.—Ephes. v. 9.
I HAVE formerly, upon occasion of this festival solemnity,1111 Preached on Whit-Sunday, 1690. discoursed on divers sorts of arguments relating to the Holy Spirit of God: as, concerning the1212 See Sermon CXCVI. p. 377. of the present volume. miraculous powers and gifts of the Holy Ghost, conferred upon the apostles in a visible manner, when they were assembled together upon this day of Pentecost, to qualify and enable them for the more speedy and effectual planting and propagating of the Christian religion in the world; which is the argument more peculiarly proper to this day.
I have likewise1313 See Sermon CXCIX. and CC. p. 432, and 448. of the present vol. discoursed to you concerning the sanctifying power and virtue of the Holy Spirit of God, which is common to all Christians, and to all ages of the Christian church; as also concerning the blessed fruit and effect of God’s Holy Spirit, conferred upon Christians in baptism, and which does continually dwell and reside in all those who do sincerely perform, and make good their baptismal vow, to assist and enable them to all the purposes of holiness and obedience, and to work and increase in us all those graces and virtues which are here in the text, said to be the fruit of the Holy 466Spirit of God: “For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, and righteousness, and truth.” The connexion of which words with the apostle’s foregoing discourse, is briefly this. At the 17th verse of the former chapter, the apostle gives a solemn charge to the Christians, at Ephesus, who were newly converted from heathenism to Christianity, to be careful that their conversation be answerable to that holy religion which they now made profession of, and that as they had quitted the religion and rites of paganism, so likewise that they would abandon the vices and evil practices of it; that the world might see that they had made as great a change in their minds and manners, as in their religion. “This, I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye hence forth walk not as other gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: who, having lost the sense of good and evil, have given themselves over to all filthiness and brutish lusts.” And then, at the 20th verse he tells them, that the Christian religion requires another sort of conversation: “But ye have not so learned Christ; if so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus: that ye put off, concerning the former conversation, the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; and be renewed in the spirit of your mind: and that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness;” or, the holiness of truth.
And then he cautions them against several sorts of vices which they had formerly lived in, and recommends the contrary virtues to their practice; 467and as an argument thereto, he puts them again in mind of the change which they had made at the 8th verse of this chapter; “For ye were some times darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord.” The condition they were in, whilst they were heathens, he calls darkness; by which metaphor he represents that dismal state of ignorance and wickedness in which they formerly were; “but now are ye light in the Lord.” Being admitted into the Christian religion by baptism, they were enlightened by the Spirit of God. For so the apostle to the Hebrews describes baptism by illumination, and being made partakers of the Holy Ghost. (Heb. vi. 4.) “They that were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift;” which he explains in the next words, by being “made partakers of the Holy Ghost,” because that is conferred in baptism.
“But now are ye light in the Lord, walk there fore as children of the light;” that is, do nothing unbecoming that state, into which, by the solemn profession of Christianity in baptism, ye are entered; or, as it follows a little after the text, “Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness; walk as children of the light, as becomes those who are enlightened and sanctified by the Holy Spirit of God, whereof ye were made partakers in baptism; for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, and righteousness, and truth.”
“For the fruit of the Spirit.” Some copies have it, ὁ γαρ καρπὸς του φῶτος, “for the fruit of light,” that is, of the illumination of the Holy Ghost, which Christians are made partakers of in baptism, “is in all goodness, and righteousness, and truth,” which will make no difference in the sense.
I shall briefly explain the importance of these 468three words, “goodness, and righteousness, and truth;” and then proceed to make some observations from the text.
I. Goodness. And what that is, the apostle takes it for granted that every body knows; he does not go about to define or explain it, but appeals to every man’s mind and conscience, to tell him what it is. It is not any thing that is disputed and controverted among men, which some call good, and others evil; but that which mankind is agreed in, and which is universally approved by the light of nature, by heathens, as well as Christians; it is that which is substantially good, and that which is unquestionably so. It is not a zeal for indifferent things, about the ritual and ceremonial part of religion, the external circumstances of it, much nicety and scrupulousness about things of no moment and consideration, such as was the pharisees tithing of mint, anise, and cummin; disputes about meats and drinks, and the observation of days, and the like: but a pursuit of the weightier things of the law, a care of the great duties of religion, and those things wherein the kingdom of God consists; the practice of the great virtues of conversation, which are apt to recommend us to the general approbation of men, to gain their good-will, and to take off exasperations, and to calm and sweeten the spirits and tempers of men towards us; and they must likewise be things unquestionably good, and against which there is no exception, such as will justify and bear themselves out in the general opinion of mankind.
I know very well that goodness, in the strict notion of it, does signify a ready inclination of mind to benefit and help others all that we can, as we have opportunity. And this is the particular virtue 469of alms-giving, or, as we commonly call it, charity; which is so often recommended to us under the notion of doing good. (Gal. vi. 10.) “As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men.” And, (1 Tim. vi. 17, 18.) “Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not high-minded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy; that they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate.”
But there is a larger notion of goodness more frequently used in the New Testament, which comprehends and takes in all those virtues of conversation, which are universally, and by the light of nature, owned to be such, and the practice whereof is apt to recommend us to the love and esteem of all men; as, on the contrary, the neglect of them is apt to bring religion under a great scandal and censure: such are obedience to our superiors and governors, and a conscientious care to discharge all those duties which the several relations wherein we stand to others do call for from us.
Obedience to governors is recommended to us under the notion of goodness, or well-doing. (1 Pet. ii. 13-15.) “Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake, whether it be to the king as supreme, or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him, for the punishment of evil-doers, and for the praise of them that do well. For so is the will of God, that with well-doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men.” So, likewise, praying for those that are in authority: (1 Tim. ii. 1-3.) “I exhort, therefore, that first of all supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; for kings, and 470for all that are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour.”
In like manner, a conscientious discharge of the duties which other relations require is recommended to us under the notion of goodness, and that which is a special grace and ornament to religion: (1 Tim. v. 4.) “Let them learn first to shew piety at home, and to requite their parents, for that is good and acceptable before God.” And (Tit. ii. 9, 10.) the apostle exhorts servants to be obedient to their masters; that, by this instance of goodness, as well as others, they may bring credit and reputation to religion; “Exhort servants to be obedient unto their own masters, and to please them well in all things; not answering again, not purloining, but shewing all good fidelity, that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things.”
More particularly, the several virtues of conversation are frequently instanced in, as branches of goodness, as unity, peaceableness, courtesy, compassion, and good-will towards all men. The practice of these things the apostle calls the following of that which is good: (Rom. xii. 9, 10, &c.) “Let love be without dissimulation; abhor that which is evil, cleave to that which is good. Be kindly affectioned one towards another. Bless them which persecute you: bless and curse not. Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep. Be of the same mind one towards another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits. Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as 471much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.” So, likewise, the apostle (1 Thess. v. 15.) instanceth in abstaining from revenge, as an eminent piece of goodness: “See that none render evil for evil unto any man: but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves and to all men.” And, St. Peter also gives much the same instances of goodness, that St. Paul hath done: (1 Pet. iii. 8, 9, &c.) “Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another; love as brethren: be pitiful, be courteous; not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing, but contrariwise, blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing. For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile: let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it. And who is he that will harm you, if ye be followers of that which is good?” that is, if ye practise goodness in the instances I have mentioned.
You see, then, what goodness is, by the instances which the Scripture gives of it; obedience to our superiors and governors, and a conscientious care of the duties of our several relations; sincere love and charity, compassion, humility, peace and unity, ab staining from wrath and revenge, and rendering good for evil; these are unquestionable instances of goodness, and pass for current among all mankind, are on all hands agreed to be good, and have an universal approbation among all parties and professions, how wide soever their differences may be in other matters.472
These are the things which are in Scripture more peculiarly called good, because they are so in themselves, and in their own nature, and not merely because they are commanded, as the rites and ceremonies of the Jewish religion were, which are there fore called by God himself, in the prophet, “statutes that were not good;” (Ezek. xx. 25.) “Wherefore I gave them statutes that were not good;” that is, I gave them laws concerning several things, which had no intrinsical goodness in them. But moral duties, because of the essential and eternal goodness of them, are eminently called good; as in that known passage of the prophet, (Micah vi. 8.) “He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?”
The other two fruits of the Spirit which are added in the text, “righteousness and truth,” which respect likewise our conversation with men, more especially in the way of commerce, are rather parts or branches of goodness, than really distinct from it; but they are two considerable virtues, and there fore the apostle thought fit to instance particularly in them, after he had mentioned goodness; which is, indeed, the general name, that comprehends all virtues in it.
“The fruit of the Spirit is righteousness;” which signifies justice in our dealings and actions with others; and truth, which is justice in our words; for he that speaks as he thinks, and performs and makes good what he promiseth, is said to be just to his word. And all these, “goodness, and righteousness, and truth,” and whatever particular virtues are comprehended under them, though they be truly 473and properly moral virtues, yet are said to be “fruits of the Spirit.”
From the words thus explained, I shall make these four observations, which I shall speak as briefly to as I can:
First, That “the fruits of the Spirit” are plain and sensible effects, appearing in the disposition and lives of men.
Secondly, That these “fruits of the Spirit,” here mentioned, are of an eternal and immutable nature, and of perpetual and indispensable obligation.
Thirdly, That moral virtues are the graces and “fruits of the Spirit.”
Fourthly, That, therefore, they are by no means to be slighted as low and mean attainments in religion, but are to be looked upon and esteemed as a main and substantial part of Christianity.
First, That the “fruits of the Spirit” are real and sensible effects, appearing in the dispositions and lives of men. The apostle here speaks of what is visible in the lives and conversations of men; for he exhorts Christians to “walk as children of the light:” now walking is a metaphor which signifies the outward conversation and actions of men. “Walk as children of the light. For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, and righteousness, and truth;” that is, if a man be endued with the Spirit, it will discover itself by these visible fruits and effects. What the apostle says of the “works of the flesh,” (Gal. v. 19.) “The works of the flesh are manifest,” plainly to be seen in the lives and conversations of men, is equally true of the “fruits of the Spirit,” that they also are visible and manifest; so that by these men make a judgment of their condition, whether they be true Christians, and 474the Spirit of God dwell in them, or not; viz. by the temper and disposition of our minds, manifestly appearing in our lives and actions, by the practice of those real virtues which are the proper and genuine fruits of the Holy Spirit of God. For religion is not an invisible thing, consisting in mere belief, in height of speculation, and niceties of opinion, or in abstruseness of mystery. The Scripture does not place it in things remote from the sight and observation of men, but in real and visible effects; such as may be plainly discerned, and even felt, in the conversation of men; not in abstracted notions, but in substantial virtues, and in a sensible power and efficacy upon the lives of men, in all the in stances of piety and virtue, of holy and excellent actions. This our Saviour requires of his disciples; that the virtue and holiness of their lives should be so visible and conspicuous, that all men may behold it, and give testimony to it, and glorify God upon that account: (Matt. v. 16.) “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” Not that men should make any ostentation of religion, as the pharisees did of their devotion and alms, which our Saviour censures very severely; but there is a great difference between an affected and vain glorious show of piety and virtue, and the real and substantial effects of them in a good life, which as they cannot, so they ought not to be hid; nay, on the contrary, men ought, as St. James exhorts, (James iii. 13.) to “shew out of a good conversation their works with meekness of wisdom;” that is, in a wise manner, not with pride and ostentation, but with meekness and humility, the great ornament of all Christian graces and virtues. I proceed to the475
Second observation; namely, that these “fruits of the Spirit,” here mentioned, “goodness, and righteousness, and truth,” are of an eternal and immutable nature, and of perpetual and indispensable obligation. The notions of good and evil, of just and unjust, of truth and fidelity, and of falsehood and perfidiousness, in our words and actions; I say, these notions are born with us, and imprinted in our natures; are so fixed and determined in the very frame of our minds and understandings, that as they need not be explained, so they can never be changed and altered. The difference of good and evil is naturally known, and the notions of righteousness, and goodness, and truth, are fixed antecedently to any Divine revelation, which supposeth the nature of them to be known, and therefore, doth not go about to define and explain them to us; and supposeth, likewise, the obligation of them, being branches of the law of nature, and essential parts of that religion which is born with us, and “written upon our hearts,” and makes us “a law to ourselves.” And, therefore, the Christian religion doth only declare these duties more plainly, and press them more earnestly upon us, and enforce the obligation of them by more powerful arguments and considerations, grounded upon clearer discoveries of the grace and mercy of God to mankind, and of the rewards and punishments of another world: but these duties are in their nature still the same; and the Christian religion is so far from releasing us from the obligation of them, that it hath very much heightened it, and bound them the faster upon us. I pass on to the
Third observation from these words; namely, That moral virtues are the graces and “fruits of the 476Spirit.” For the three particulars here mentioned by the apostle are no other but the chief heads and instances of moral duties, “goodness, and righteousness, and truth.” What are these but moral virtues? and yet it is certain, that they are also Christian graces, because they are here expressly said to be “the fruits of the Spirit.”
And they are called moral virtues, because they are such duties as are not enjoined by any positive law, (which is not obligatory from the nature and reason of the thing commanded, but merely from the command;) but are of natural and eternal obligation, and such as we had been bound to the observance of them, from the immutable goodness and reason of them, though God had never made any external revelation of his will concerning them. Though it cannot be denied, but that, by the means of external revelation, we have a more clear and certain knowledge of them, and more powerful motives to the practice of them. So that grace and virtue are but two names that signify the same thing. Virtue signifies the absolute nature and goodness of these things; grace denotes the cause and principle by which these virtues are wrought and produced, and are preserved and increased in us; namely, by the free gift of God’s Holy Spirit to us; for which reason, these graces and virtues of goodness, and righteousness, and truth, which are here mentioned in the text, are said to be “the fruits of the Spirit.” I come now to the
Fourth and last observation from the text; namely, That since these very things which are called moral virtues, are in their nature the very same with the graces and “fruits of the Spirit,” therefore they are by no means to be slighted as low and mean attainments 477in religion, but to be looked upon and esteemed as a main and substantial part of Christianity. They are called “the fruits of the Spirit;” that is, the natural and genuine effect of that Divine power and influence upon the hearts and lives of men, which accompanies the Christian religion; or the happy effects of the Christian religion wrought in men, by the immediate operation and assistance of the Holy Spirit of God, which is conferred upon all Christians in their baptism, and does continually dwell and reside in them, if by wilful sins they do not grieve him, and drive him away, and provoke him to withdraw himself from them.
I do not say, that these virtues are all religion, and all that is necessary to make a man a complete Christian, and good man. For there must be knowledge to direct us in our duty; there must be faith, or a hearty assent to the revelation of the gospel (especially concerning the forgiveness of our sins, and of our justification and acceptance with God, for the sake of the meritorious sufferings of our blessed Saviour), to be the root and principle of all religious actions; there must be piety and devotion towards God, and the constant practice and exercise of religious duties in public and private; such as prayer, hearing and reading the word of God, frequent and reverent receiving of the holy sacrament, which are the best and most effectual means in the world to make men good, because they are appointed by God, and attended with his blessing to that end: I say, there must be all these, because they are the principles and means of religion, which are always supposed as necessary to that which is the end. Now the 478great end of religion, that which Christianity mainly designs to work and perfect in us, are those graces and virtues which are called “the fruits of the Spirit;” such as those mentioned in the text, “goodness, and righteousness, and truth.”
And this will be evident to any one that will attentively consider what the Scripture says of them; and more especially, how our Saviour and his apostles do every where recommend them to our consideration and practice; (Micah vi. 8.) “He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?” It is to these qualities and dispositions of goodness, and righteousness, and the like virtues, that our Saviour promises blessedness. These St. Peter calls a Divine or God-like nature; (2 Pet. i. 4, 5.) speaking of the knowledge of the gospel, “Whereby (says he) are given to us exceeding great and precious promises, that by these ye might be partakers of the Divine nature;” and thereupon he exhorts that Christians should “give all diligence to make their calling and election sure,” by adding to the faith of the gospel, the several graces and virtues of a good life; these being that Divine nature which the gospel designs to make us partakers of.
To speak a little more particularly of the three virtues here mentioned, goodness, righteousness, and truth. These are every where frequently commended and enjoined in the New Testament. Goodness, whether we consider it as it imports charity in general, and our love of one another, our Saviour makes it the great badge and mark of a Christian. “Hereby (says he) shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye love one another.” St. Paul calls 479it “the fulfilling of the law, and the end of the commandment, τέλος τῆς παραγγελίας, the great end and design of the gospel, is charity.” St. John riseth yet higher, and speaks of it as the very nature and essence of God himself, and that by which we are, as it were, united to him. “God is love, and he that dwelleth in love, dwelleth in God, and God in him,” Or whether we consider goodness, under the notion of compassion and beneficence, a readiness to pity and relieve, and benefit others according to our ability and opportunities. This the Scripture celebrates as a thing highly acceptable to God. (Heb. xiii. 16.) “But to do good, and to communicate, forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well-pleased.” And St. James instanceth in it as one of the most signal testimonies of true piety: (James i. 27.) “Pure religion, and undefiled, before God and the Father is this; to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction.” And (chap. iii. 17.) he makes it a mark and character of the Divine and heavenly wisdom; “The wisdom which is from above, is full of mercy and good works.”
And then for righteousness, of which truth and fidelity in our intercourse with men is a considerable part, St. Paul instanceth in it, in the first place, as a principal thing, wherein “the kingdom of God doth consist:” (Rom. xiv. 17.) “The kingdom of God doth not consist in meats and drinks;” that is, the power and efficacy of the Christian religion, or the gospel (which is frequently, in the New Testament, called the kingdom of God), doth not consist in zeal about indifferent things: but in the substantial virtues of a good life, “in righteousness and peace.”
You see by all this, at what a rate the Scripture magnifies these virtues, as the great things of religion, 480the end of the gospel, and that wherein our Christianity does mainly consist. The consideration whereof would make a man stand amazed, to think how these virtues should ever fall into so much contempt among those who call themselves Christians, and do every day read the Bible; and come to be accounted but low and pitiful things, in comparison of I know not what fancies and conceits, wherein some are pleased to place religion. For what can the best religion that ever was in the world (which Christianity certainly is) be better placed in, than in these and the like virtues? all which are so excellent in their nature and use, and have so direct a tendency both to the happiness of particular persons singly considered, and of human society; and several of them, especially those instanced in in the text, goodness, and righteousness, and truth, are the very nature and perfection of God himself.
And what more worthy to be “the fruits of the Holy Spirit of God,” and the effects of a Divine power and influence working upon the minds of men, than such qualities and dispositions as render us so like to God, and do so nearly resemble the highest excellencies and perfections of the Divine nature? And therefore our Saviour useth this as an argument to persuade us to be good, and merciful, and patient; because these qualities are so near a resemblance and imitation of the Divine perfection, the nearest that creatures are capable of. (Matt. v. 48.) “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.”
And thus I have dispatched the four observations from the text; that “the fruits of the Spirit” are plain and sensible effects, appearing in the dispositions 481and lives of men; that they are of an eternal and immutable nature, and of perpetual and in dispensable obligation; and though they be moral virtues, yet they are likewise “the fruits of the Spirit;” and are by no means to be slighted and undervalued, as low and mean attainments in religion.
All that now remains is, to make some inferences from what has been discoursed on this text.
And if this discourse be true, then the want of these virtues mentioned in the text, and the reigning of the contrary vices in us, is a clear and undeniable evidence, notwithstanding all our fair professions and pretences, that we are not true Christians. For if we do not bring forth “the fruits of the Spirit,” we have not the Spirit of Christ; and then St. Paul hath determined our case, that “if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.” If these Christian graces and virtues mentioned in the text, goodness, and righteousness, and truth, do not shine forth in our lives and conversations, it is plain, according to the apostle’s reasoning in this and other texts, that we are not “children of the light,” because we do not “walk as children of the light,” as those that are enlightened by the Spirit of God: for “the fruit of the Spirit,” or “the fruit of light,” as some copies have it, “is in all goodness, and righteousness, and truth.” And if these fruits be not found in us, it is a plain evidence that we do not “walk in the Spirit,” that we are not led and “guided by the Spirit of God;” for “the fruits of the Spirit,” as well as “the works of the flesh,” are manifest, sufficiently plain and visible, in the conversations of men; and according as we fulfil the lusts of the one, or bring forth the fruits of the other, we may certainly judge whether we have the Spirit of Christ 482or not; that is, whether we be true Christians, or do only usurp a name, and take a title to ourselves, which does not of right belong to us. We need not to trouble and puzzle ourselves with a great many doubtful and obscure marks, to find out by them what our state and condition is, and whether we be the children of God or not; if we have a mind to know it, we may soon bring the matter to an issue, by looking into our own hearts and lives, whether “the fruits of the Spirit” be there, “in all goodness, and righteousness, and truth,” and in all those virtues which are elsewhere mentioned as “fruits of the Spirit.” These are plain and sensible things, and if these virtues be in us, they cannot be hid from ourselves or others, but will shine forth in our lives and conversations, in all our words and actions. Goodness is soon seen, it hath a native beauty and brightness in it, which draws the eyes of men towards it: and it discovers itself by its effects, which are perceived and felt in those upon whom it is exercised. Righteousness, and truth, are likewise very sensible to ourselves and others; and so are the contrary dispositions and practices. No man does an unjust thing, but his conscience tells him he does so; no man speaks contrary to truth, or breaks his word and promise, but he is guilty to himself of so doing. And thus I might instance in all other virtues and vices. If we will but look into ourselves, and observe our own actions, we may easily discern, whether we be malicious and envious, cruel and hard-hearted, censorious and uncharitable; or good, and kind, and merciful, and ready to forgive; whether we make conscience of our word or not; or whether we do to others, as we would have them do to us. Nothing 483is more easy to be known than it is, which of these qualities does possess and rule our hearts, and govern and bear sway in our lives. And if we can know this, we know whether we have the “fruits of the Spirit” or not; “for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, and righteousness, and truth.” And by these fruits of the Spirit, or the want of them (which are both very discernible), we may know what our state and condition is, whether we have the Spirit of God, and be true and sincere Christians. A great many men tire themselves in an endless inquiry, concerning the good estate of their souls towards God; whether they be the children of God, and whether they have the Spirit of God or not, and are trying themselves all their lives, by obscure and uncertain marks, which will never bring the matter to any clear issue, but leave them still in the dark and in doubt, concerning their own sincerity, and the integrity of their hearts towards God; and how can it be otherwise, since they have been so often told by unskilful men, that they cannot know their own hearts, and consequently can never be assured of their own integrity and sincerity? This, I must confess, is but an ill sign of sincerity, when we find it so hard a matter to discern it in ourselves. Job found it clearly in himself, and was very confidently assured of it: (Job xxvii. 5, 6.) “Till I die, (says he) I will not remove my integrity from me: my righteousness I hold fast, and will not let it go.” But if a man can not know his own heart, and whether he have integrity or not; how shall he know either when he parts with it, or when he holds it fast? the apostle, in the text, gives us a sure mark whereby we may 484know when we have the Spirit of God—by the sensible fruits and effects of it.
I will conclude all with the apostle’s exhortation: (Phil. iv. 8.) “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report: if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” Think of them and regard them as principal parts of your duty, and particular instances of that universal goodness which Christianity teacheth and requires, as the proper and genuine effects of that “grace of God which hath appeared to all men, and brings salvation;” that is, of the gospel. And if the doctrine of the gospel do not produce these blessed fruits and effects in the hearts and lives of those who profess the Christian religion; then, as the apostle to the Hebrews reasons, “how shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which was at first spoken by the Lord, and after wards confirmed by them that heard him; God also bearing them witness, both with wonders, and signs, and divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will?”485
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