_ 5th Pastoral Letter. - What God has done, and the returns made (Isaiah 5:4). - Edinburgh, February 27, 1839.

O all of you, my dear flock, who are washed and sanctified and justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God, your pastor again wishes grace, mercy, and peace.

This is now the fifth time I am permitted by God to write to you. If you are not wearied, it is pleasant and refreshing to me. I wish to be like Epaphras (Colossians 4:12): "Always labouring fervently for you in prayer, that you may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God." When I am hindered by God from labouring for you in any other way, it is my heart's joy to labour for you thus. When Dr. Scott of Greenock, a good and holy minister, was laid aside by old age from preaching for some years before his death, he used to say, "I can do nothing for my people now but pray for them, and sometimes I feel that I can do that." This is what I also love to feel. Often I am like Amelia Geddie, who lived in the time of the Covenanters, and of whom I used to tell you. The great part of my time is taken up with bringing my heart into tune for prayer; but when the blessed Spirit does help my infirmities, it is my greatest joy to lay myself and you, my flock, in His hand, and to pray that God may yet make "the vine to flourish, and the pomegranate to bud."

If you turn to Isaiah 5:4, you will find these affecting words: "What could have been done more to My vineyard, that I have not done in it? wherefore, when I looked that it should bring forth grapes, brought it forth wild grapes? "

Consider these words, my dear people, and may the Spirit breathe over them that they may savingly impress your souls. These words are God's pathetic lamentation over His ancient people, when He thought of all that He had done for them, and of the sad return which they made to Him. We have come into the place of Israel; the natural branches of the good olive-tree have been broken off, and we have been grafted in. All the advantages God gave to Israel are now enjoyed by us; and ah! has not God occasion to take up the same lamentation over us, that we have brought forth only wild grapes? I would wish every one of you seriously to consider what more God could have done to save your soul that He has not done. But ah! consider again whether you have borne grapes, or only wild grapes.

First, Consider how much God has done to save your souls. He has provided a great Saviour, and a great salvation. He did not give man or angel, but the Creator of all, to be the Substitute of sinners. His blood is precious blood. His righteousness is the righteousness of God; and now "to him that worketh not, but believeth on Him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted to Him for righteousness "(Romans 4:5). Most precious word! Give up your toil, self-justifying soul. You have gone from mountain to hill; you have forgotten your resting-place; change your plan: work not, but believe on Him that justifieth the ungodly. Believe the record that God hath given concerning His Son. A glorious, all-perfect, all-divine Surety is laid down at your feet. He is within your reach,—He is nigh thee; take Him and live; refuse Him and perish! "What could have been done more for My vineyard, that I have not done in it? "

Second, Again, consider the ordinances God has given you. He has made you into a vineyard. Scotland is the likest of all lands to God's ancient Israel. How wonderfully has God planted and maintained godly ministers in His land, from the time of Knox to the present day! He has divided the whole land into parishes; even on the barren hills of our country He has planted the choicest vine. Hundreds of godly labourers He has sent to gather out the stones of it. God has done this for you also. He has built a tower in the midst of you. Have you not seen His own hand fencing you round,—building a gospel tower in the midst of you, and a gospel vine-press therein? And has He not sent me among you, who am less than the least of all the members of Christ, and yet "determined not to know anything among you save Jesus Christ and Him crucified "? Has not the Spirit of God been sometimes present in our sanctuary? Have not some hearts been filled there with gladness more than in the time that their corn and wine increased? Have not some hearts tasted there the "love that is better than wine?" "What could have been done more for My vineyard, that I have not done in it?" Now let me ask, what fruit have we borne, —grapes or wild grapes? Ah, I fear the most can show nothing but wild grapes! If God looks down upon us as a parish, what does He see? Are there not still a thousand souls utter strangers to the house of God? How many does His holy eye now rest upon who are seldom in the house of prayer, —who neglect it in the forenoon! How many who frequent the tavern on the Sabbath day! Oh, why do they bring forth wild grapes If God looks upon you as families, what does He see? How many prayerless families! How often, as I passed your windows, late at eve or at early dawn, have I listened for the melody of psalms, and listened all in vain! God also has listened, but still in vain. How many careless parents does His pure eye see among you, who will one day, if you turn not, meet your neglected children in an eternal hell! How many undutiful children! How many unfaithful servants! Ah! why such a vineyard of wild grapes? If God looks on you as individual souls, how many does He see that were never awakened to real concern about your souls! How many that never shed a tear for your perishing souls! How many that were never driven to pray! How many that know not what it is to bend the knee! How many that have no up-taking of Christ, and are yet cold-hearted and at ease! How many does God know among you that have never laid hold of the only sure covenant! How many that have no "peace in believing," and yet cry, "Peace, peace; when there is no peace"! (Jeremiah 8:11). How many does God see among you who have no change of heart and life, who are given up to the sins of the flesh and of the mind! and yet you "bless yourself in your heart, saying, I shall have peace, though I walk in the imagination of my heart, to add drunkenness to thirst "( Deuteronomy 22:19). Ah! why do you thus bring forth wild grapes? "Your vine is of the vine of Sodom, and of the fields of Gomorrah: your grapes are grapes of gall, your clusters are bitter" (Deuteronomy 32:32). Ah! remember you will blame yourselves to all eternity for your own undoing. God washes His hands of your destruction. What could have been done more for you that God has not done? I take you all to record this day, if I should never speak to you again, that I am pure from the blood of you all. Oh, barren fig-trees, planted in God's vineyard, the Lord has been digging at your roots; and if ye bear fruit, well; if not, then ye shall be cut down. (Luke 13:6-9.)
Now I turn for a moment to you who are God's children. I am persuaded better things of you, my dearly beloved, and things that accompany salvation, though I thus speak. Yet what need is there, in these trying times, to search your heart and life, and ask, What fruit does God find in me?

What fruit of self-abasement is there in you? Have you found out the evil of your connection with the first Adam? (Romans 5:19). Do you know the plagues of your own heart? (1 Kings 8:38); the hell of corruption that is there? (Jeremiah 17:9). Do you feel you have never lived one moment to His glory? (Romans 3:25). Do you feel that to all eternity you never can be justified by anything in yourself? (Revelation 7:14).

Consider, again, what fruit there is of believing in you. Have you really and fully uptaken Christ as the gospel lays Him down? (John 5:12). Do you cleave to Him as a sinner? (1 Timothy 1:15). Do you count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Him? (Matthew 9:9). Do you feel the glory of His person? (Revelation 1:17); His finished work? (Hebrews 9:26); His offices? (1 Corinthians 1:30). Does He shine like the sun into your soul? (Malachi 4:2). Is your heart ravished with His beauty? (Canticles 5:16).

Again, what fruit is there in you of crying after holiness? Is this the one thing you do? (Philippians 3:13). Do you spend your life in cries from deliverance from this body of sin and death? (Romans 7:24). Ah! I fear there is little of this. The most of God's people are contented to be saved from the hell that is without. They are not so anxious to be saved from the hell that is within. I fear there is little feeling of your need of the indwelling Spirit. I fear you do not know "The exceeding greatness of His power" to us-ward who believe. I fear many of you are strangers to the visits of the Comforter. God has reason to complain of you, "Wherefore should they bring forth wild grapes? "

Again, what fruit is there of actual likeness to God in you? Do you love to be much with God?—"to climb up near to God (Genesis 5:22)—to love, and long, and plead, and wrestle, and stretch after Him?" [28] Are you weaned from the world? (Psalm 131.) from its praise, from its hatred, from its scorn? Do you give yourselves clean away to God (2 Corinthians 8:5) and all that is yours? Are you willing that your will should be lost in His great will? Do you throw yourselves into the arms of God for time and for eternity? Oh, search your hearts and try them! ask God to do it for you, and "to lead you in the way everlasting"! (Psalm 139:23-24).

I am deeply afraid that many of us may be like the fig-tree by the wayside, on which the hungry Saviour expected to find fruit, and He found none. Ah 1 we have been an ungrateful vine, minister and people! What more could God have done for us? Sunshine and shade, rain and wind, have all been given us; goodness and severity have both been tried with us; yet what has been returned to Him? Whether have the curses or the praises been louder rising from our parish to heaven? Whether does our parish more resemble the garden of the Lord, or the howling wilderness? Whether is there more of the perpetual incense of believing prayer, or the "smoke in God's nose" of hypocrisy and broken sacraments?

I write not these things to shame you, but as my "beloved sons I warn you." If there be some anion, you, and some there are, who are growing up like the lily, casting forth their roots like Lebanon, and bearing fruit with patience, remember "the Lord loveth the righteous." He that telleth the number of the stars taketh pleasure in you. "The Lord taketh pleasure in His people; He will beautify the meek with salvation." Keep yourselves in the love of God. Go carefully through all the steps of your effectual calling a second time.

The Lord give you daily faith. Seek to have a large heart. Pray for me, that a door of utterance may be opened to me. Remember my bonds. Pray that I may utterly renounce myself, that I may be willing to do and to suffer all His will up to the latest breath.

May you all obtain mercy of the Lord now, and in that day to which we are hastening. The grace of the Lord Jesus be with your spirits. Amen.

[28] See Brainerd's Diary, Part ii. April 4.
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