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"will be like a branch, cut off and feparated SERM. "from the root." XIV.
Without me is the fame as feparated from me. In the margin of fome of our Bibles the phrafe is rendred fevered from me. Which is the meaning of the expreffion: though the literal rendring may be, without me, or out of me.
Ver. 6. If a man abide not in me, he is caft out as a branch, and is withered: and men gather them, and caft them into the fire, and they are burned. "If you caft off your regard "for me, and for the truth and fimplicity of cc my doctrine; you ; you will refemble a branch,
feparated from the root: which foon wi"thers, and becomes fit for nothing, but to be "burned. So you, not bringing forth fruits "of true holineffe, or bearing nothing to perfection, will be worthlefs and contemptible.".
Which is agreeable to what is faid in another Gospel, under a different fimilitude. Ye are the falt of the earth. But if the falt Matt. have loft it's favour, wherewith fhall it be falted? It is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be troden under foot of men.
He that abideth in me, and I in him, the Same bringeth forth fruit. For without me ye can do nothing.
The general meaning is: "Whereas by a clofe adherence to me, and my words,
you may excell in virtue, and perfevere therein if you fhould forfake me, or "abate in your refpect for me and my doc"trine; you will do nothing confiderable, "and may become deftitute of all true "worth."
I fhall now endeavor, farther to illustrate this text in fome propofitions: and then add two or three remarks by way of application.
I. The propofitions for illuftrating the text are these.
Prop. 1. Our Lord does not here intend to fay, that without the knowledge of him and his religion, no man can ever do any thing that is good, or right, or virtuous, and acceptable in the fight of God.
Indeed it is hard to think, that rational and intelligent beings fhould be deftitute of all power to do that which is good. It is
not reasonable to fuppofe, that God fhould SERM. form any intelligent beings deftitute of fuch XIV.
or that he should fuffer them to fall into fuch incapacity, whilft they are in a state of trial, and their everlafting interests are depending. And there are many things in Scripture, either faid occafionally, or on fet purpose, from which we can conclude men to have this power.
Says St. Paul to the Romans: For when Rom. ii. the Gentils, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law; thefe baving not the law, are a law unto themselves. Which fhew the work of the law writen in their hearts: their confcience also bearing witnesse, ... either accufing, or elfe excufing them. They difcerned fome things to be good and right, others wrong and evil. When they did the one, they were well fatisfied with themselves: When the other, their confcience accufed them of evil. That textfeems manifeftly to teach, that Heathens had knowledge of things praife-worthie, and otherwife and that they had power to choose the one, and decline the other,
It is true, the Apoftle fays in the fame epif- iii. 19. tle, that all the world was become guilty before.
SERM. God. The meaning of which appears to be, XIV. that there was a great degeneracie in the world, both amongst Jews and Gentils : that there was great need of the gospel, to reclaim and reform men: and that there are none perfectly righteous, and free from all fin. Wherefore all ftand in need of the pardoning mercie of God. But he does not fay, I apprehend, of every, individual among Jews and Gentils, who had not the knowledge of Chrift and his gospel, that there were none fincerely good and virtuous: none, who had that righteousneffe, and integrity, which a good, and gracious, and holy God will accept, and reward.
There are in the Gofpels inftances of per-. fons, not within the pales of the Jewish church, who gave proofs of a good difpofition, and were commended, and accepted by the Lord Jefus. In like manner, it is not impoffible, but that ftill fome, not acquainted with the Chriftian religion, may do what is good and virtuous.
A Roman Centurion, quartered in one of the cities of Galilee, fent to Jefus, faying: Matt. viii. Lord, my fervant lieth at home fick of the palfe, grievously tormented. But when Jefus was
coming toward him, recollecting that it had SERM. not been usual for Jews to converfe with XIV. him, and perfuaded of the great power of Christ, he fends him a fecond message, faying: Lord, I am not worthie, that thou shouldft come under my roof. Speak the word only; and my fervant shall be healed.... When Jefus heard it, he marvelled, and said to them that followed: I have not found fo great faith, no, not in Ifrael.
The woman of Canaan is another remark- Matt. xv. able inftance. She cried, faying: Have mercie on me, o Lord, thou fon of David. He anfwered: I am not fent, but unto the loft sheep of the boufe of Ifrael. But at length, her importunity was fo great, and the truth of her faith fo manifeft, that our Lord faid to her: O woman, great is thy faith. Be it unto thee even as thou wilt.
Cornelius, after our Lord's afcenfion, is another Gentil, without the limits of the Jewish church, who performed commendably. There was, fays St. Luke, a certain Acts x. man in Cefarea, called Cornelius, a Centurion of the band, called the Italian band: a devout man, and one that feared God, with all his bouse:" who gave much alms to the people, and U 4 pray