“I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit:“ John 15:5.
Now the time is come, when the man, between hope and despair, resolves to go to Christ as he is; and therefore, like a dying man, stretching himself just before his breath goes out, he rallies the broken forces of his soul, tries to believe, and in some sort lays hold on Jesus Christ. And now the branch hangs on the old stock by one single tack of a natural faith, produced by the natural vigor of one’s own spirit, under a most pressing necessity, Psalm 78:34, “When he slew them, then they sought him, and they returned and inquired early after God.” But the Lord, never failing to perfect his work, fetches yet another stroke, whereby the branch falls quite off. The Spirit of God convincingly discovers to the sinner his utter inability to do anything that is good, and so he dies, Romans 7:9. That voice powerfully strikes through his soul, “How can you believe?” John 5:44. You can no more believe, than you can reach up your hand to heaven, and bring Christ down from thence. Thus at length he sees, that he can neither help himself by working, nor by believing; and having no more to hang by on the old stock, he therefore falls off. While he is distressed thus, seeing himself likely to be swept away with the flood of God’s wrath, and yet unable so much as to stretch forth a hand to lay hold of a twig of the tree of life, growing on the bank of the river, he is taken up, and engrafted in the true vine, the Lord Jesus Christ giving him the Spirit of faith.
By what has been said upon this head, I design not to rack or distress tender consciences; for though there are but few such at this day—yet God forbid that I should offend any of Christ’s little ones. But, alas! a dead sleep is fallen upon this generation, they will not be awakened, let us go ever so near to the quick: therefore, I fear that there is another sort of awakening abiding this sermon-proof generation, which shall make the ears of those who hear it tingle. However, I would not have this to be looked upon as the sovereign God’s stinted method of breaking off sinners from the old stock. But this I maintain as a certain truth, that all who are in Christ have been broken off from all these several confidences; and that they who were never broken off from them, are yet in their natural stock. Nevertheless, if the house be pulled down, and the old foundation razed, it is much the same whether it was taken down stone by stone, or whether it was undermined, and all fell down together.
Now it is that the branch is engrafted in Jesus Christ. And as the law, in the hand of the Spirit of God, was the instrument to cut of the branch from the natural stock; so the Gospel, in the hand of the same Spirit, is the instrument used for engrafting it into the supernatural stock, 1 John 1:3; “And truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.” The Gospel is the silver cord let down from heaven, to draw perishing sinners to land. And though the preaching of the law prepares the way of the Lord; yet it is in the word of the Gospel that Christ and a sinner meet. In the spiritual engrafting, Christ apprehends the sinner, and the sinner, being apprehended of Christ, apprehends him, and so they become one. Thomas Boston