14 February, 2013
Spiritual Fruit - Part 3 Last One
Preached at North Street Chapel, Stamford, on September 2, 1858, by Philpot
"From Me is your fruit found." Hosea 14:8
What is this fruit then? It is faith, hope, love, godly fear, submission to God's will, tenderness of conscience, love and esteem for the brethren, self-denial, putting off the old man, putting on the new—and I might stand here until midnight and then not exhaust the catalogue. These are set forth by the Apostle Paul in the Epistle to the Galatians, where he says, "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance—against such there is no law." Here are all the fruits of the Spirit penned down by the Holy Spirit himself; but you may examine it for yourselves, and indeed compare what is in your soul with it; then you will confess how short you come of bearing that fruit—the bearing of which stamps the Christian indeed—but we shall never bear fruit to God, until we are brought to see that our fruit comes from God.
III. How this fruit is from the Lord—"from me is your fruit found." How positively and clearly is this set forth in the fifteenth and sixteenth chapters of John's Gospel, where the Lord says, "Without me you can do nothing." "As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself except it abides in the vine, no more can you except you abide in me." So you see that union with Christ is indispensable to the bringing forth of fruit; for as the sap flows out of the stem, so it is with the believing soul and Jesus—only so far as Christ flows into his soul is he able to bring forth fruit unto God. "Abide in me and I in you; as the branch cannot bear fruit of itself except it abides in the vine, no more can you except you abide in me." Then there is a being in Christ by vital union, and an abiding in him by faith, prayer, hope, and love, and a receiving grace for grace out of his fullness—so that from him is our fruit.
Now, as we begin to feel day by day our barrenness, and as our wrinkles arise in our face, we begin to see that from Jesus only is our fruit. Let us then raise our souls up out of our miserable selves, and fix our eyes upon him at the right hand of God and beg of him to communicate his grace to our souls, and send down the influence of his Spirit that will bring forth fruit in us—which is peace, praise, and honor to God. No one can bring forth fruit without a conflict with self—self checks the crop like the ivy clinging to and strangling the vine.
I have a grape-vine in the front of my house, and almost the first thing I noticed when I returned home yesterday was that every leaf was struck with mildew—in fact the whole tree has been struck, as it were, with the same withering disease. What an emblem of a poor, withered professor! There will never be a cluster either fit to be made into wine or eaten as dessert. Now, when we see what we are in ourselves we see nothing but mildew. As the grape-vine seems to have more enemies than any other fruit, because, as it is said, it cheers the heart of God and man, and we are represented in Scripture as branches of the vine, therefore we need the grace of God in order that we may overcome these enemies. Though I have not sufficient skill to cure the mildew on my vine—yet the Lord has skill to cure the mildew in our souls, for his grace can and does and will sanctify the sinner's heart.
Therefore whatever despair I might feel about having any fruit from the vine on my trellis, there shall be no mildew upon the trellis of your soul, for he can send a shower to wash off the mildew, and put forth his hand to knock off the insects that feed upon the fruit of the vine. The Lord says, "From me is your fruit found." The fruit flows forth—the spirit of thankfulness, of brokenness, and godly sorrow for sin. And yet there will be times and seasons when we sink very low, and when we feel or fear that there never was a spark of grace in our heart. But your very feeling of your unfruitfulness, is in itself a fruit. Your mourning over your unfruitfulness and your being cast down into dejection—these very things are spiritual fruit, for they are produced by the same Holy Spirit that brings forth the blossoms of faith, hope, and love.
III. There is the FINDING of this fruit. In a vine some of the richest clusters are found under the leaves. Leaf and fruit go very much together, for where there is a leaf full of mildew, you find nothing but a cluster of rotten fruit. Well, so in grace—if there be little fruit there will be a withered profession, because the 'leaf' represents the 'profession'. The world can see what you profess, and they will see the mildew spots upon it. "O," they say, "that man talks about religion—but he is just like us. You who have to deal with him know how he deals, how he can laugh and giggle like other men, and how angry he is if anything crosses him. It is only a profession—he goes to chapel, but we all know what he is."
Here is a profession with the mildew upon it. "See," they may say, "that man was drunk last night—yet he goes to church on Sundays." If the 'leaf' is so bad, what must the 'berry' be? If the man's profession is such, what must be the man himself? So if the mildew has struck the leaf you may be sure the mildew has reached the clusters.
We find that the best clusters sometimes grow on the lowest bough; so it is in grace—the humbler a man is the more fruit he will bring forth. The same sap that feeds the branch nearest the stem feeds the branch farthest off. "From me is your fruit found." Your soul may be often cast down, and you may say, "Was there ever any sinner like me?" but your complaints do not take you into the world again—you are not telling lies or joking and gossiping with your neighbors—but you are mourning and groaning that you are not bringing forth fruit unto God.
Now, the Lord may speak these words to encourage his saints—"Come out of the world. From me is your fruit found. Not from the world. Do not be carried away with the things of time and sense. Not from worldly-mindedness, not from family distress is fruit produced—but from me, out of my fullness by the communications of my grace."
If you don't get it from that source you will get it nowhere, and every branch that does not bear fruit, he hews down. So that we come to one of two things—you must either be a branch that bears fruit from Christ—from the communications of Christ's love to your soul—or else one that bears not fruit, which the Father takes away. There is no intermediate state whereby we have part from ourselves and part from Christ, for "from me," says the Lord, "is your fruit found."