“I am the vine you are the branches.” John 15:5
I am now to show HOW the branches are cut off from the natural stock, the first Adam, and grafted into the true vine, the Lord Jesus Christ. Thanks to the Farmer, not to the branch, which is cut off from its natural stock, and grafted into a new one. The sinner, in his coming off from the first stock, is passive, and neither can nor will come off from it of his own accord—but clings to it, until almighty power makes him to fall off, John 5:40, “You will not come to me, that you might have life.” The engrafted branches are “God’s husbandry,” 1 Cor. 3:9 The ordinary means he makes use of, in this work, is the ministry of the word, 1 Cor. 3:9, “We are laborers together with God.” But the efficacy thereof is wholly from him, whatever the minister’s parts or piety is, ver. 7, “Neither is he who plants anything, neither he who waters; but God that gives the increase.” The apostles preached to the Jews—yet the body of that people remained in infidelity, Romans 10:16, “Who has believed our report?” Yes, Christ himself, who spoke as never man spoke, says concerning the success of his own ministry, “I have labored in vain, I have spent my strength for nothing,” Isaiah 49:4. The branches may be hacked by the preaching of the word; but the stroke will never go through—until it is carried home by the omnipotent arm. However, God’s ordinary way is, “by the foolishness of preaching to save those who believe,” 1 Cor. 1:21.
The cutting of the branch from the natural stock, is performed by the pruning knife of the law, in the hand of the Spirit of God, Gal. 2:19, “For I, through the law, am dead to the law.” It is by the bond of the covenant of works, as I said before, that we are knit to our natural stock: therefore, as a wife, unwilling to be put away, pleads and hangs by the marriage tie; so do men by the covenant of works. They hold by it, like the man who held the ship with his hands; and when one hand was cut off, held it with the other; and when both were cut off, held it with his teeth.
When the Spirit of the Lord comes to deal with a person, to bring him to Christ, he finds him in Laodicea’s case, in a sound sleep of security, dreaming of heaven and the favor of God, though full of sin against the Holy One of Israel, Rev. 3:17, “You don’t know, that you are wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.” Therefore, he darts in some beams of light into the dark soul; and lets the man see that he is a lost man, if he does not become a new man, and betake himself to a new course of life. Thus, by the Spirit of the Lord, acting as a spirit of bondage, there is a criminal court erected in the man’s bosom; where he is arraigned, accused, and condemned for breaking the law of God, “convicted of sin and judgment,” John 16:8. And now he can no longer sleep securely in his former course of life. This is the first stroke which the branch gets, in order to cutting off. Thomas Boston