WHAT IS IT THAT SAVES A SOUL? INWARD AND OUTWARD FRUITS
Thus they bring forth: 1. Inward fruit. Of these the first is conversion, which consists in a change of heart, a change of affections, a change of feelings, a turning from formality to spirituality; from free-will to free-grace, from self-righteousness to self-abhorrence, from hypocrisy to honesty, from self-justification to self-condemnation, from profession to power.
The second is godly fear, which realises Godís heart-searching presence, trembles at His frown, dreads His displeasure, is afraid of His judgments, feels His chastening hand, and seeks above all things His favour and the light of His countenance.
The third is humility, which springs from a knowledge of God and a knowledge of oneís self, and consists in a spiritual acquaintance with the deceit and wickedness of the heart, in esteeming others better than ourselves, in feeling how little grace and real religion we possess, in confessions to God and man of our vileness, in sitting at Jesusí feet to be taught by Him, in taking the lowest room amongst the children of God, in being a babe in helplessness, weakness, foolishness and nothingness.
A fourth inward fruit is godly sorrow, which springs from a view of a suffering Saviour, and manifests itself by hatred of self, abhorrence of sin, groaning over our backslidings, grief of soul for being so often entangled by our lusts and passions, and is accompanied by softness, meltings of heart, flowings of love to the Redeemer and of indignation against ourselves, and earnest desires never to sin more.
A fifth fruit is hope, which springs up out of despair, and is raised up in the soul by a spiritual discovery of the compassion, the mercy, the forbearance, the lovingkindness, and the pity of the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort. This opens the heart in prayer, melts down its sullen obstinacy, enlarges its narrow, selfish, jealous, contracted views of God, holds it fast as a sure and steadfast anchor amidst storms and tempests, and encourages it to wait at mercyís door till full deliverance comes.
A sixth fruit is love, which consists in love to God, on account of His tender mercies, loving-kindness and forbearance in the midst of, and in spite of, all our crookedness, obstinacy, perverseness and dreadful wickedness: in love to Christ as a Saviour, so suitable to our miserable condition as filthy, polluted, justly damned wretches; in love to the exercised, harassed, and tempted children of God, as fellow-sufferers and fellow-heirs; in love to the ministers of Christ, as messengers with a message to our guilty souls, as interpreters of our experience, as stewards of heavenly mysteries and discoverers of the secrets of our hearts 1Cor 14:25; in love to the truth of God, which makes us free; to the word of God, which has entered our hearts; and to the promises of God, which have from time to time encouraged us. These are only a few of the inward fruits which the doctrines of grace, spiritually received into the soul, invariably produce.
But besides these there are, secondly, outward fruits. Such are: separation from a profane world and separation from a professing world; honesty and boldness in the cause of truth; liberality to the poor and needy of Godís family: general consistency of life and conversation, abhorrence of all the tricks of trade, lies of business, and frauds of commerce; hatred of flattery, given or received: in a word. a life agreeable to the precepts and ordinances of the gospel.
Such are the fruits, inward and outward, which are produced by the doctrines of grace when applied to the soul by the blessed Spirit. God being the only fountain of life, grace and fruitfullness, the soul that is brought into His blessed presence, to walk with Him, to have communion with Him, and to enjoy access unto Him, derives, for the time, from this holy nearness, faint marks of resemblance unto Him.
And thus, eternal election revealed to the soul, personal redemption applied to the heart, imputed righteousness sealed upon the conscience, and never-failing faithfulness manifested within, so far from leading to licentiousness, are the only truths which will produce real fruit. And, on the contrary, all self-denial, outward sanctification, mortification of the flesh, long prayers, and all the good works of the Arminian catalogue, are nothing but counterfeits and imitations of the fruits of the Spirit, and will therefore leave their deluded owners to the just vengeance of Him who is a consuming fire.