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This world's the field, and they that dwell therein
corn and hay,
Of fetter'd sinners! O the tears! the groans ! The doleful lamentations as they go Chain'd fast together to their place of woe! The world thus clear'd, as fields when harveft's in, Shall be no more a stage, for acting fin. With purifying flames it shall be burn'd, Its stately fabrics into ashes turn'd. Ceafe then, my soul, to dote on 'or admire This fplendid world, which is reserv'd for fire. Decline the company of sinners here, As thou would'st not be shackled with them there.
CH A P. XVI.
Upon the Care of Hufbandmen to provide for Winter.
Your winter store in fummer you provide :
ter; then they gather in their winter store : food and fewel for themselves, and fodder for their cattle. *** He that * gathers in fummer, is a wife fon: but he that sleeps in har“ veft, is a son that causeth shame,” Prov. X. 5. A well chosen season is the greatest advantage to any action; which, as it is feldom found in hafte, so it is often loft by delay. 'Tis a good proverb which the frugal Durch havé among them : Bonus fervatius faciet bonum bonifacium ; A good faver, will make a good benefactor. And 'tis a good proverb of our own, he that neglects the occasion, the occafion will negled him. Husbandmen know that summer will not hold all the year; neither will they truft to the hopes of a mild and favourable winter, but in season provide for the worst.
provident and thoughtful for our souls ? "Tis doubtless à fingular point of Chistian wisdom, to foresee a day of spiritual ftraits and necessities; and, during the day of grace, to make provision for it. This great gospel-truth is excellently Thadowed forth in this natural obfervation, which I fhall branch out into these feven particulars.
1. Husbandmen know there is a change and viciffitude of seasons and weather; though it be pleasant fummer weather now, yet winter will tread upon the heel of fummer : frosts, Inows, and great falls of rains muft be expected. This alternate course of seafons, in nature, is fettled by a firm law of the God of nature, to the end of the world, Gen. viii. 22." Whilft “ the earth remaineth, feed-time, and harveft, cold and heat, * winter and fummer, day and night, fhall not cease.”
And Christians know, that there are changes in the right, hand of the most High, in reference to their spiritual seafons, If there be a spring-time of the gospel, there will be also an Vol. VI.
autumn; if a day of prosperity, it will set in a night of aduer fity : “ for God hath set the one over against the other," Eccles. vii. 14. In heaven there is a day of everlasting serenity; in hell a night of perfect endless horror and darkness ; on earth, light and darkness take their turns, prosperity and adverfity, even to fouls as well as bodies, succeed each other. If there be a gospel-day, a day of grace now current, it will have its period and determination, Gen. ii. 6.
2. Common prudence and experience enable the husbandman, in the midst of summer, to foresee a winter, and provide for it before he feel it, yea, natural inítinct teaches this to the very birds of the air, and beasts of the field.
And spiritual wisdom should teach Christians to exercise their foreseeing faculties, and not suffer them to feel evil before they fear it. But, oh! the stupifying nature of lin! Though the stork in the heavens knows her appointed time, and the turtle, crane and swallow the time of their coming, yet man, whom God hath made wiser than the fowls of the air, in this, acts quite below them, Jer. viii. 7.
3. The end of God's ordaining a summer season,and sending warm and pleafast weather, is no ripen the fruits of the earth, and give the husbandman fit opportunity to gather them in.
And God's design of giving men a day of grace, is to furnish them with an opportunity for the everlasting happinefs and salvation of their fouts;, Rev. ii. 21. “ I gave her a space to re“ pent.” It is not a mere reprival of the foul, or only a delay of the execution of threatned wrath, though there be much mercy in that; but the peculiar aim of this patience and bounty of God, is to open for them a way to escape the wrath to come, “by leading them to repentance," Rom. ii. 4.
4. The husbandman doth not find all harveft-feafons alike favourable ; fometimes they have much fair weather, and meet with no hindrance in their business ; othertimes it is a catching harvest, but now and then a fair day, and then they must be nimble, or all is loft.
There is also a great difference in soul-feasons; fome have had a long and fair season of grace; a hundred and twenty years.did God wait upon the old world, in the ministry of Noah. Long did God wait on the gainsaying Israelites, Ifa. xlii. 14.
“ I have a long time held my peace;, I have been still, and “ refrained myself.” Others have a short and catching seafon, all lies upon a day, upon a nick of time, Acts xvii. 30.
5. A proper season neglected, and loft, is irrecoverable. Mar ny things in hulbandry must be done in their season, or caunec be done at all for that year : if he plow not, and fow not, in the proper season, he loses the harvest of that year.
It is even so as to spiritual-seasons : Christ neglected, and grace despised, in the season when God offers them, are irrecoverably loft, Prov.i. 28. “Then (that is when the season is over) they
shall call upon me, but I will not hear." Oh! there is a great deal of time in a short opportunity; that may be done, or prevented, in an hour rightly timed, which cannot be done, or prevented, in a man's life-time afterwards. There was one refolved to kill Julius Cæsar such a day : the night before a friend sent him a letter to acquaint him with it: but he being at supper, and busy in discourse, said, to-morrow is a new day; and indeed it was dies noviffima, his last day to him. Whence it became a proverb in Greece, To-morrow is a new day. Our glass runs in heaven, and we cannot see how much or little of the fand of God's patience is yet to run down; but this is certain, when that glass' is run, there is nothing to be done for our souls, Luke xix. 42. “O that thou hadft known, at least, “ in this thy day, the things that belong to thy peace ; but
now they are hid from thine eyes.”
6. Those husbandmen that are careful and laborious in the summer, have the comfort and benefit of it in winter : he that then provides fewel, shall fit warm in his habitation, when thers blow their fingers. He that provides food for his family, and fodder for his cattle, in the harvest, shall eat the fruit of it, and enjoy the comfort of his labours, when others shall be exposed to shifts and straits. And he that provides for eternity, and lays up for his soul a good foundation against the time to come, shall eat when others are hungry, and sing when others how!, Ifa. Ixv. 13. A day of death will come, and that will be a day of straits to all negligent fouls; but then the diligent Christian shall enjoy the peace and comfort that shall flow in upon his heart, from his holy care and fincere diligence in duties; as 2 Cor. i. 12. “This is our rejoicing, the tefie “ mony of our conscience, that in fincerity and godly fimpli. city, we have had our conversation in this world.”
So Hezekiah, 2 Kings xx. 3. “Remember now, O Lord, how I « þave walked before thee in truth, and with a perfect heart." A day of judgment will come, and then foolish virgins, who neglected the season of getting oil in their lamps, will be put to their shifts ; then they come to the wise, and say, Give us of
your oil, Matth. xxv. 8, 9. but they have none to spare, and the season of buying is then over.
7. No wife husbandman will neglect a fit opportunity of gas thering in his hay, and corn, upon a presumption of much fair weather to come: he will not say, The weather is fertled, and I need not trouble myself; though my corn and hay be fic for the house, yet I may get it in another time as well as now.
And no wise Christian will lose a present season for his foul, upon the hopes of much more time, yet to comie; but will rather say, Now is my times and I know not what will be hereafter : hereafter. I may with to fee one of the days of the Son of man, and not see it, Luke, xvii. 22. It is lad to hear how cunning some men are to dispute themselves out of heaven, as if the devil had hired them to plead against their QWA fouls; sometimes urging the example of those that were called at the eleventh hour, Mat. XX. 6. and sometimes that of the penitent thief: but, oh! to how little purpose is the former pleadod ? they that were called at the eleventh hour were never called before, as thefe have been; no man had hired, that is, cal led or invited them to Christ; and for the thief (as Mr. Fenner rightly observes). it was a fingular and extraordinary example It was done when Christ hanged on the croso, and was to be inaugurated; then kings manifest
: sucha bounty, and pardon such crimes as are never pardoned afterwards. Besides, God was then in a way of working miracles; then he rent the rocks, opened the graves, raised the dead, and converted this thief; but God is now out of that way.
REFLECTION. The careless foul's the world: with what care and providence
1. I have indeed been a good husband for reflection
have I looked out for myself and family, to provide food to nourish them, and cloaths to defend them ar gainst the afperities of winter? mean while; neglecting to make provifion for eternity, or take care for my soul,
foul, O destitute foul ! how much have I flighted and undervalued thee? I have taken more care for an horse, or an ox, than for thee: a well stored barns, but an empty foul. Will it not shortly be with me, as with that careless mother, who, when her house was on fire, busily beftirred herself to save the goods, but forgot the child (though it were faved by another hand)? and then minding her child, ran up and down like one distracted, wringing her hands, and crying, O my child! my child! I have saved my goods, and lost my child! Such will be the case of thee my soul, Matth. xvi. 26. Befides, how easy will my conviction be at the bar of Christ ? Will not my providence and care for the things of this life, leave me fpeechless and self