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them, how you shall clothe them ; when sick, how you shall heal them, and yet have no concern for your immortal soul. This was the case with the rich man in the gospel, he was anxious, but it was for the world. Perish not like him. Your soul is in danger, and will perish, unless you attend to its everlasting concerns. While it is called to day; hear his voice, that your soul may live.
'A FAMINE OF THE WORD. risini
AMOS, viii. 11.
Behold the days come, saith the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord.
The prophet Amos lived in a time, when the kingdoms of Israel and Judah enjoyed great religious priv. ileges, and when they were exceedingly undervalued and abused. The prophet Isaiah lived about the same time; a man whose mind was more enlightened in the things of Christ's kingdom than any other prophet. How plainly does he speak concerning the birth, the life and sufferings of Christ? The ministry of such men was a peculiar privilege, which should have excited the gratitude of a whole people ; because they were placed under advantages of becoming a wise and happy people. The people of Israel were distinguish. ed above every other nation, in having committed to them the oracles of God, and by the mission of the
prophets, who spake to them in the name of the Lord. Spiritual barrenness in them was a sin attended with peculiar aggravations. It is one of the most reasonable things, “that where much is given, much should be required.” And it is reasonable and proper, “that the kingdom of God should be taken from a people, who undervalue and abuse it, and given to a people who will bring forth its fruit.”
How plain is it, that, in the divine estimation, the word of God, the ministry of reconciliation is a peculiar favour, and that the abuse of it is a sin, which God will not long tolerate? When the Sabbaths of God become a weariness, and his ordinances are neglected and despised; when his prophets, and messengers are persecuted and rejected, as they were in the days of Amos, we may be sure, such a people will not long be indulged with their spiritual privileges.
A famine of the word is threatened in the text, as , being not only of the nature of a judgment, but the
greatest of a temporal nature, which could be inflicted on a people. There cannot be a greater 'evil inflicted on a rebellious child, than to leave him to himself, to gratify him in his unreasonable desires, and to deprive him of the advantages which he has abused. So in the text, God threatens to punish the neglect and abuse of his word, by taking it away. It had been given as one of the greatest privileges, and therefore God considers the deprivation of it, as the greatest judgment. Our text therefore implies .
I. That God considers the ministration of þis word the greatest privilege to a people.
II. That he therefore considers the removal of gospel privileges from a people as the heaviest judgment.
III. That the neglect and mişimprovement of the word and ordinances of God will be attended with their removal..
1. God considers the ministration of his word, the greatest privilege to a people. There are perhaps but few who have any considerable acquaintance with the scriptures, and who give their assent to their divine authority, who will deny them to be a privilege. God always taught the people of Israel to consider themselves distinguished from all other nations, by having his word and ordinances among them. And it is evident that pious men among them did consider their nation greatly distinguished by their peculiar privileges. But the things, they were taught to consider as privileges, and which pious men did so consider, resulted to them from divine revelation. Their advantages above the heathen about them, consisted in the institutions, both moral and ceremonial, which they received from God. The single institution of the Sabbath was to that people a privilege of inestimable worth; as it gave all classes an opportunity of hearing the law of God read and inculcated upon them. In this connexion, hear the words of Moses to this nation. “Did ever people hear the voice of God speaking out of the midst of the fire, as thou hast heard and live; or hath God assayed to go and take him a nation from the midst of another nation, by temptations, by signs and by wonders, according to all that the Lord thy God did for you in Egypt before thine eyes ? Unto thee it was showed, that thou mightest know that the Lord, he is God.: Out of heaven he made thee to hear his voice that he might instruct thee.” That people were distinguished from others by divine institutions. only, Unto them “pertained the adoption, the giving of the law and the promises, the glory and the covenants." The Apostle, in answer to this inquiry, “What advantage then hath the Jew," above other nations ? answers, “Much every way, chiefly because y unto them were committed the oracles of God. From these and other passages, it appears, that God considers his word not merely as a privilege, but the greatest, a people can enjoy. It was on this account, that Christ represents “ Capernaum, Chorazin and Bethsaida as exalted unto heaven.” And why God taught Israel to consider his word, as a peculiar privilege, and why we are bound to treat it as such, will appear from the following remarks,
1. In the divine 'word we have the character of God revealed to us. Need I say, how much concerned men are to know the character and designs of him, on whom they now depend, and from whom, they are to receive their final sentence of retribution. Has the character, I might say, even the being of God been known, without divine revelation? Let the condition of the heathen world in all ages be received as an answer to this inquiry, Creation is a display of God; but how little knowledge have mankind derived from this display ? Such is the natural blindness of the