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ROM. vi. 22.

Ye have your fruit unto holiness.


RUE religion wherever it prevails, infufes a certain vital heat or energy into the foul, which fails not to produce fome sub

ftantial effects in a man's temper and conduct. It is however to be feared, that toda




many mistake the unhallowed flame of mere natural paffion, for this living principle of divine grace. Their imagination is pleased, and their affections warmed; and fo they instantly conclude themselves men of religion. But alas! the genuine spirit of those truths for which they profefs fo high a regard, is overlooked and forgot: and their zeal, like a flaming meteor, having for a while drawn the attention and wonder of all around them, fuddenly expires in perpetual darkness and oblivion. Or if their pretenfions to religion do not thus quickly vanish and die away; perhaps other confequences follow, which are ftill more fatal and dangerous. When the tumult of their paffions is fomewhat fubfided, and they are preffed with the utility and importance of real holiness; they begin coolly to perfuade themselves, that a profeffion of the gospel may confist with their lufts. Until at length it becomes a fettled point with them, that they may be allowed to fin horrid impiety! because they are not under the law but under grace.

Such kind of perfons there were in the primitive times; and this their unnatural abuse of the gospel the apostle exposes at large in this context. Nor is it a little remarkable,


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that the manner in which he combats the false reasoning of these men, while it sets their perverseness and ingratitude in the most ftriking light, furnishes a strong prefumptive evidence in favor of the doctrine of grace. Shall we fin because we are not under the law, but under grace'? As if he had said, "The "conftitution of the gofpel is fuch, that "it may seem at first view as if it counte"nanced fin. Men of corrupt minds may "turn the grace of God, fo amazingly difplayed in the free pardon and juftification "of a finner, into licentiousness. But be "affured this is not the spirit, the tendency "of that doctrine, which you have been "taught; nor will it admit of any fuch "conclufion. So far from it, that this very "confideration of your not being under "the law but under grace, is a reason why "fin fhould not have dominion over you." Nor does the apoftle content himself with this general reasoning upon the matter; but appeals to the religious affections of their hearts, in fupport of his argument. They had felt the powerful influence of the gofpel, to move them to obedience; and fo had approved themselves real Christians, men of found and genuine religion. Whereas ye

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were the fervants of fin, ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you; and fo being made free from fin, ye became the fervants of righteousness. And then reminding them of the miferable fruits of that obedience they had formerly rendered to fin, even shame and death, he tells them in the text, the cafe was now happily altered; for being delivered from the dominion of fin, and become fervants to God, they had their fruit unto boliness, and the end everlasting life.

The metaphorical phrafe of having fruit or bearing fruit, when applied to the actions of men, evidently fuppofes a certain principle from whence those actions proceed, and which gives them their true and proper denomination in the fight of God. Now as in the general, there will be a correfpondence or fimilarity between the one and the other; fo the course or tenor of a person's life, is reprefented in fcripture, as the best index of the state of his mind. Upon this maxim our Saviour reasons, when he would guard us against wicked and designing men, who under a pretence of extraordinary piety and goodness, attempt to deceive and miflead us. By their fruits ye shall know them. * Ver. 17, *18.


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