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The Duties and Graces of the Christian Woman:

hope, has exchanged dignity on earth for blessings in Heaven,

SERMON IX.

SERMON IX.

The Good Fruit of the Uncorrupt Tree.

Luke 6. 43 and part 44.

For a good tree bringeth not forth corrupt fruit, neither doth a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit ; for every tree is known by its own frait.

THE

HE Christian religion bringing the re

pentant sinner to reconciliation with God, and raising him from the death of sin to a new life of righteousness, was given to improve the moral state of man. Its precepts, its doctrines, its truths, elevate and enlarge our conceptions of the Divine excellence, and as they inspire ardour in the cause, impart ability for the practice, of virtue. In the Gospel we have the plainest rules of right conduct, with every persuasive and encouragement to

righteousness

The Good Fruit of the Uncorrupt Tree.

righteousness that man can need, or Heaven can condescend to offer.

Now, since it was a design of the Christian dispensation to reform mankind, and to induce a better obedience to the commands of God and since it contains a full exposition of those commands, prescribing every aid, and affording every incitement necessary to execute them ; it follows that he, whose actions do not exhibit an obedience to the will of God uniform and steady; he, who does not lead a' pure, righteous, and holy life, is not a faithful believer in the Gospel, is not a sincere disciple of Christ— Whatever be his professions, as the fruits of his faith are corrupt, the tree is also corrupt. For

every tree is known by its fruit, A good tree bringeth not forth corrupt fruit. We may easily be deceived by names and denominations.-Opinions and doctrines may

be fanciful or fallacious.-Forms and observances are only shews of religion, which may belong to hypocrisy, as well as to sincerity. But it cannot happen, in the nature of things, that men should gather figs from a thorn; or that of a bramble bush they should gather grapes.

The

The Good Fruit of the Uạcorrupt Treę.

The test of a true christian is a pious and holy life regulated in obedience to the will of God for the benefit of man.

In order to prove this, it is my design in the present discourse to shew

First -- That the Christian dispensation bringing life and immortality to light was given to improve the moral lives of men, and to direct them in obedience to the will of God.

Secondly - That it offers ' every necessary encouragement, inducement, and assistance to a holy and righteous life.

That the Christian dispensation in bringing life and immortality to light was intended to form mapkind in righteousness here, to prepare and qualify them for eternal happiness, is a truth so plain, that it would seem to need po proof; and yet the opinions and practices of many me bers of the Christian community require it to be insisted upon and defended. Men persuade thémselves that in certain cases where sin is countenanced by the multitude, and the temptations to it are strong, God will

not

The Good Fruit of the Uncorrupt Tree.

not inflict punishment. That hateful and hardened offenders will, and ought to be punished, they are willing to allow ; but they think pardon should be extended to particular sins, in peculiar circumstances. These sins and circumstances they seldom fail to consider their own; so that, by this principle of exception, the virtues would one by one be all taken out of the Christian covenant, and every vice would have a claim to impunity. Others

suppose that they shall be saved by modes and professions of faith, for forms and ceremonies ; that Christianity is more an instrument of salvation, than a cause or incitement of a holy life. Some have their plea in the infirmities of humanity, which preventing us from serving God in perfection, they imagine that, for the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ, He will pardon even habitual, hardened, and unforsaken sins, provided the sinner have what they account faith in the Gospel, and pay the obedience of external worship.

Now, let us see whether these principles of exception be at all tenable.

As

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