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qualities have some mere natural men and women! what à winning affability, humble condescension, meekness, righteoulness, ingenuous tenderness, and sweetness of nature! As it was (hyperbolically enough) faid of one, In bac homine, non peccavit Adem; Adam never finned in this man; meaning that he excelled the generality of Adam's children in sweetness of temper and natural endowments. What curious phantasies, nimble wits, folid judgments, tenacious memories, rare e locution, &c. are to be tound among mere natural men! by which chey are allifted in discoursing, praying, preaching and writing to the admiration of such as know them. But that which is highly esteemed of men, is abomination to God, Luke xvi. 15. k finds no acceptance with him, because it springs from that cursed root of nature, and is not the production of his own fpirit.
4. If such a ftock were removed into a better foil, and graffed with a better kind, it might bring forth fruit pleasant and grateful to the husbandman; and if fuch persons (before de. scribed) were but regenerated and changed in their spirits and principles, what excellent and useful perfons would they bę in the church of God? And then their fruits would be sweet and acceptable to him. One observes of Tertullian, Origen, and Jerom, that they came into Canaan laden with Egyptian gold, (i. e.) they came into the church full of excellent human learning, which did Christ much service.
5. When the husbandman cuts down his woods or hedges, he cuts down these crab stocks with the rest, because he values them not any more than the thorns and brambles among which they grow; and as little will God regard or spare these natural branches, how much foever they are laden with such fruit. 'The threatning is universal, John iii. 3. “Except you be rege$6 nerate, and born again, you cannot enter into the kingdom
of heaven." And again, Heb. xii. 14. “Without holiness, < no man (be his natural gifts never fo excellent)-fhall fec « God.” Imbellifhed nature, is nature still ; # That which is « born of the flesh, is but flesh," however it be set off with advantage to the eye of man.
1. To what purpose then do I glory in my A reflection for
natural accomplishments ? Though I have a an accomplished
better nature than some others have, yet it is naturalist.
a cursed nature still. These sweet qualities and excellent gifts, do only hide, but not kill the corruption of nature. I am but a rotten post gilded over, and all my dye
ries but hedge-fruit, which God makes no account of. O cutting thought that the unlearned thall rise and take heaven, when I with all my excellent gists fhall descend into hell. Heaven was not made for scholars, as such, but for believers; as one faid, when they comforted him upon his death-bed, that he was a knowing man, a doctor of divinity: O faid he, I shall not appear before God as a doctor, but as a man; I shall stand upon a level with the most illiterate in the day of judgment. What doth it avail me that I have a nimble wit, whild I have none to do myself good? Will my judge be charmed with a rhetorical tongue? Things will not be carried in that world as they are in this. If I could, with Berengarius, discourse de omni fcibile, of every thing that is knowable; or with Solomon, unravel nature from the cedar to the hylop, what would this advantage me, as long as I am ignorant of Chrift, and the mystery of regeneration ? My head hath often aked with study, but when did my heart ake for fin? Methinks, O my soul ! thou trimmest up thyself in these natural ornaments, to appear before God, much as that delicate Agag did, when he was to come before Samuel, and fondly conceits that these things will procure favour, or (at least) pity from him ; but yet think not, for all that, the bitterness of death is past : Say not within thyself, will God cast such a one as I into hell? Shall a man of such parts be damned ? Alas! justice will kew thee to pieces, as Sanuel did that spruce king, and not abate thee the least for these things; many thousand branches of nature, as fair and fruitful as thyself, are now blazing in hell, because not transplanted by regeneration into Chrift, and if he spared not them, neither will he spare thee.
2. I am a poor despised shrub, which have no beauty at all in me, and yet such a one
A reflection form kath the Lord chosen to transplant into Christo believer.
a true, but weak whilft he left many fragrant branches standing on their native stoek, to be fuel of his wratli to all eternity ! O grace! for ever to be admiredi! Ah! what cause bave I to be thankful to free grace, and for ever to walk, humbly with my God! the Lord hath therefoșe chofen an unlikely, sugged, unpolished creature as I am, that pride may for ever be hid from mine eyes, and that I may ever glory in his presence, 1 Cor. i. 29. I now have the advantage of a better root and soil than a ny carnal perfon hath ; it will therefore be a greater shame to me, and a reproach to the root that bears me, if I should be outstripped and excelled by them: yet, Lord, how often do I find it fo? I fee some of them neck and patient, whilft I am
rough and furly; generous and noble, whilft I am base and penurious. Truly such a branch as I am, is no honour to the root that bears it.
The PO E M.
Which to markind God hath ordain'd to be
CH A P. II.
the season of the year, he carries them, with the tools that are necessary for that work, to the tree or stock he intends to ingraff, and having cut off the top of the limb in some fmooth part, he cleaves it with his knife or chissel a little beGde the pith, knocks in his wedge to keep it open, then (hav. ing prepared the graff) he carefully
sets it into the cleft, joining the inner side of the barks of graff and stock together (there being the main current of the fap) then pulls out his wedge, binds both together (as in barking) and clays it up, to defend the tender graff and wounded stock from the injuries of the fun and rain.
These tender cyons quickly take hold of the stock, and have ing immediate coalition with it, drink in its sap, concoct it into their own nourishment, thrive better, and bear more and better fruits than ever they would have done upon
their natural root; yea, the smallest bud, being carefully inoculated and bound close to the stock, will, in short time, become a flourishing and fruitful limb.
foul's union with Christ by faith ; and indeed there is nothing in nature that shadows forth this great gospel-mystery like it : It is a thousand pities that any who are employed am bout, or are but spectators of such an action, should terminate their thoughts (as too many do) in that natural object, and not raise up their hearts to these heavenly meditations, which it so fairly offers them.
1. When a twig is to be ingraffed, or a bud inoculated, it is first cut off by a keen knife from the tree on which it naturally grew.
And when the Lord intends to graff a foul into Christ, the first work about it, is cutting work, Acts ii. 37. their hearts were cut by conviction, and deep compunction; no cyon is in.
graffed without cutting, no foul united with Christ, without a cutting sense of sin and misery, John'xvi. 8, 9.
2. When the tender shoot is cut off from the tree, there are, ordinarily, many more left behind upon the same tree, ás promising and vigorous as that which is taken ; but it pleaseth the husbandman to chuse this, and leave them.
Even so it is in the removing or transplanting of a fouł by conversion; it leaves many bebind it in the state of nature, as likely and promifing as itself; but so it pleaseth God to take this foul, and leave many others; yea, often such as grew upon the same root; I mean, the inmediate parent, Mal. i. 2. “Was “ not Efau Jacob's brother? faith the Lord: yet I loved Ja« cob, and I hated Efau.”
3. When the graffs are cut off, in order to this work, it is a critical season with them : if they lie too long before they are ingraffed, or take not with the ftoek, they die, and are never more to be recovered; they may ftand in the ftock a while, but are no part of the tree.
So when fouls are under a work of conviction, it is a critical time with them ; many a one have F known then to miscarry, and never recovered again.: they have indeed for a time stood like dead graffs in the stoek, by an external dead-hearted profeflion, but never came to any thing; and as such dead graffs, either fall off from the stock, or moulder away upon it ; fo do these, 1 John ii. 19.
4. The husbandman, when he hath eut off graffs, or tender buds, makes all the convenient speed He can to close them with the stock; the sooner that's done, the better ; they get no good by remaining as they are. And truly it concerns the servants of the Lord, who are imployed in this work of ingraffing-fouls into Christ, to make all the haste they can to bring the convicted finner to a closure with Christ. As soon as ever the tremþling jailor cried, “What shall I do to be saved ?” Paul and Silas immediately direct him to Christ, Aets xvi. 30, 31. They do not say, it is too soon for thee to act faith on Chrift, thou art, not yet humbled enough, but “ believe in the Lord Jesus: « Christ, and thou shalt be saved."
5. There must be an incision made in the stock before any bud can be inoculated; or the stock must be cut and cleaved, before the cyon can be ingraffed ; according to that in the poeta
Venerit infitio, fac ramum ramus ad optet ; i.e.)
To graffs no living sap the stocks impart,
Unless you wound and cut them near the heart: Such an incifion, i wound, was made upon Chrift, in ore!