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tentionally, in the decree before the world was; which decree is executed in their fanctification apd adoption.
3. Prop. Corn-fields are carefully fenced by the 'husbandman with hedges and ditches, to preserve their fruits from beasts that would otherwise over-run and destroy them-Non minor eft virtus quam quaerere parta tueri. It is as good hufbandry to keep what we have, as to acquire more than we had.
Reddit. “My well-beloved hath a vineyard in a very fruit
ful hill, and he fenced it,” Ifa. v. 1, 2. No inheritance is better defended and secured, than the Lord's inheritance, Pfalo cxxv. 2. “ As the mountains are round about Jerusalem, so the. « Lord is round about his people.”. So careful is he for their fafety, “ that he createth upon every dwelling-place of mount “ Sion, and upon her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day, « and the shining of a flaming fire by night: for upon all “the glory shall be a defence,” Ifa. iv. 5. Not a particular faint, but is hedged about and inelosed in arms of power and Jove, Job i. 10. Thou hast made a hedge about him.” The devil fain would, but by his own confession could not, break over that hedge to touch Job, till God's permission made a gap for him : yea, he not only makes an hedge, but a wallabout them, and that of fire, Zech. ii. 5. Sets a guard of angels w.to en
camp round about them that fear him," Pfal. xxxix. 7. And will not trust them with a fingle gaard of angels neither, though their power be great, and love to the saints as great ; but watches over them himself also, Isa. xxvii. 2, 3.
Sing ye unto her, a vineyard of red wine, I the Lord do keep it, “ I will water it every moment ; left any hurt it, I will keep “ it night and day."
4. Prop. Husbandmen carry out their compoft; to fertilize their arable ground, they dung it, dress it, and keep it in heart; and in these western parts are at great charges to bring lime, and falt-water fand to quicken their thin and cold foil.
Reddit. “ Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig a « bout it, and dung it; and if it bear fruit, well, if not, cut it “ down,” Luke xiii, 8. O the rich dressing which God bestows upon his churches ! they are costly fields indeed, drest and fertilized, not only by precious ordinances and providences, but also by the sweat, yea, blood of the dispensers of them. • You Londoners (faith Mr. Lockier in Colof. p. 552.) are
trees watered choicely indeed; it is storied of the palm-tree, " that at its first transplanting into Italy, it was watered with ( wine.
I cannot say (faith he) that you have been so watered by me, I dare not; but this I can humbly and truly fay, that:
* if our choicest strength and spirits may be named instead of
water, wine ; or if the blessing which hath gone along with " these waters, at any time, hath turned them into wine, in * vigour upon your souls, then hath God by me, watered your
roots with wine.'
5. Prop. The husbandman builds his house, where he makes his purchase, dwells upon his land, and frequently visits it; he knows that such as dwell far from their lands, are not far from lofs.
Reddit. So doth God; where-ever he plants a church, there doth he fix his habitation, intending there to dwell, Psalm xlvi. 5. 6 God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved. Thus God came to dwell upon his own fee and inheritance, in Judea, Lev. xxvi. 11, 12. And I will set
tabernacle.am 56 mongst you, and will be your God, and ye shall be my
people." Which promise is again renewed to his churches of the New Testament, 2 Cor. vi. 16. And when the churches shall be in their greatest flourish, and purity, then fall there be the fullest and most glorious manifestation of the divine prefence among them, Rev. xxi. 3. “And I heard a great voice “ out of heaven, saying, bebold the tabernacle of God is with
men, and he will dwell with them, and be their God.” Hence the assemblies are called, the places of his feet-And there they "behold the beauty of the Lord,” Pfalm xxvii.
6. Prop. Husbandmen grudge not at the cost they are at for their tillage; but as they lay out vast sums upon it, so they do it chearfully.
Reddit, “ And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem, and men
of Judah, judge, I pray you, betwixt me and my vineyard; *« what could have been done more to my vineyard, that I have “ not done in it?" And as he bestows upon his heritage the choicest mercies, lo he doth it with the greatest chearfulness; for he faith, Jer. xxxii. 41. “I will rejoice over them, to do * them good, and I will plant them in this land afluredly, “ with my whole heart, and with my whole foul.” It is not the giving out of mercy (faith one) that grieveth God, but the recoiling of his mercy back again upon him by the creatures ingratitud
7. Prop. When husbandmen have been at cost and pains about their husbandry, they expect fruit from it, answerable to their pains and expences about it: “Behold (faith James) the “ husbandman waiteth for the precious fruits of the earth,"
Jam. v. 7.
Isa. v. 2.
Reddit." And he looked that it should bring forth fruit,"
This heavenly Husbandman waits for the fruits of his fields also; never did any husbandman long for the defired harveft, more than God doth for the fruits of holiness from his faints : Great are the expectations of God from his people : " And when the time of the fruit drew near, he fent his fer“ vants to the husbandmen, that they might receive the fruits « of it.”
8. Prop. Husbandmen are much delighted, to see the suc"cess of their labours, it comforts them over all their hard pains, and many weary days, to see a good increase.
Reddit. Much more is God delighted in beholding the flourishing graces of his people; it pleases him to fee his plants laden with fruit, and his valleys sing with corn, Cant. vi. 2. “ My beloved is gone down to the garden, into his beds of “ spices, to feed in the gardens, and to gather lillies.” These beds of spices (fay * expositors) are the particular churches, the companies of believers; he goes to feed in these gardens, like as men go to their gardens to make merry, or to gather fruit, Cant. iv. 16. “ He eats his pleasant fruit,” viz. His peoples holy performances, fweeter to him than any ambrosa ; thus he feeds in the gardens, and he gathers lillies when he translates good fouls into his kingdom above; “ For the Lord
taketh pleasure in his faints, and will beautify the meek with “ salvation."
9. Prop. The husbandman is exceedingly grieved, when he fees the hopes of a good crop disappointed, and his fields prove barren, or blafted.
Reddit. So the Lord expresses his grief for, and anger against his people, when they bring forth no fruits, or wild fruits, worse than none, Hosea ix. 16. “ Ephraim is smitten, “ their root is dried up.” Christ was exceedingly displeased with the fig-tree, and cursed it for its barrenness ; it grieves him to the heart when his servants return to him with fuch complaints as thefe, “We have laboured in vain, we have spent
our strength for nought."
10. Prop. Husbandmen employ many labourers to work in their fields, there is need of many hands for such a multiplicity of business.
Reddit. God hath diversity of workmen also in the churches,
* Christ is fed when he fees the graces of his people; he gathers lillies when he translates any good soul out of this life, Trap.ion be place.
whom he fends forth to labour in his fpiritual fields, Eph. iv. 12. “ He gave fome apostles, some prophets, and some evangea « tists; and some pastors and teachers, for the perfecting of “ the faints, for the work of the ministry," Amos iii. 7. I have sent [ny fervants] the prophets. It is usual with the apostles to place this title of a servant among their honourary titles, tho' a profane mouth once called it, probrofum artificium, a fordid artifice. Christ hath ftampt a great deal of dignity upon his minifters, in retaining them for the nearest service to himfelf, 1 Cor. iv. 1. « Let a man fo account of us, as the mini« fters of Chrift;" they are workers together with God: The husbandman works in the field among his labourers, and the great God disdaineth not to work in, and with his poor ser vants, in the work of the ministry.
11. Prop. The work about which husbandmen employ their fervants in the field, is toilsome and spending, you see they -come home at night as weary as they can draw their legs after them.
Reddit. Bat God's workmen have a much harder task than they; hence are they fet forth in fcripture by the laborious ox, 1 Cor. ix. 9. Rev. iv. 7. Some derive the word daxoros, deacon, from xoves, which fignifies duft, to fhew the laboriousness of their employment, laboaring till even choaked with duft and sweat. "Tis faid of Epaphroditus, Phil. ii. 13. “ That for the « work of Christ he was fick, and nigh unto death; not re“ garding his life, to supply their lack of service.” The apofle's expression, Col. i. ult. is very emphatical, “ whereunto 6 I also labour, striving, according to his working ; which “ worketh in me mightily.” The word difois apsvo, fignifies such spending labour as puts a man into an agony; and blesfed is that servant, whom his Lord, when he cometh, fhall find so doing.
12. Prop. The immediate end of the husbandman's labour, and his servants labour, is for the improvement of his land, to make it more flourishing and fruitful.
Reddit. The scope and end of the ministry is for thechurch's benefit and advantage. They must not lord it over God's heritage, as if the church were for them, and not they for the church; nor serve themselves of it, but be the church's fervants for Jefus fake, 2 Cor. iv. 6. The power they have received being for edification, and not for destruction, 2 Cor. x. 8. Christ hath given them to the churches; their gifts, their time, their strength, and all their ministerial talents, are not their own, but the church's stock and treasure.
13. Prop. The workmen that labour in the Gelds are accorintable for their work to him that employed them.
Reddit. Church-officers are also accountable to God for all the souls committed to them. They arę stewards of the myl teries of God, 1 Cor. iv. 1. and stewards are accountable. “We 56 watch for your souls (faith the apostle) as they that must give
an account,” Heb. xiii. 7. If these servants be unfaithful in their work and trust, the blood of fouls shall be required at their hands, Ezek. iii, 17, 18. which are fulmina, non verba, (faith Erasmus) thunderbolts, rather than words. The guilt of blood is the greatest guilt ; and of all blood, the blood of souls.
14. Prop. Those that spend their time and strength all their days, in manuring and plowing the fields, do maintain them. selves and their families by their labours; their hands are suffi. cient for themselves and theirs.
Reddit, « Even fo hath God ordained, that they which « preach the gospel, should live of the gospel,” i Cor. ix. 14, “ The workman is worthy of his meat," Mat. X. 10. fad thing, if those who break the bread of life to fouls, should be suffered to want bread themselves. God would not have the inouth of an ox muzzled that treads out the corn, but have liberty to eat as well as work: Yet if any pretender to the ministry be like the heifer that loves to tread out the corn, (i. e.) cares to do no work, but such as brings in present pay; he therein fufficiently discovers his beast-like disposition. Ministers must be faithful in their master's work, and if men do not, God will reward them. For “ he is not unrighteous to forget their * work, and labour of love," Heb. vi. 10.
15. Prop. It is a great trouble to husbandmen in a busy time, to be put off from their labours by stormy weather, which drives them out of the fields, and makes them let all lie, till it clear up again ; yet, mean while, they are not idle, but employ themselves in home-work.
Reddit. Even so in God's husbandry, it is an unspeakable affliction to God's workmen to be rendered useless and unserviceable to the churches, by those storms of trouble, which drive them from their public ministerial work, With what a heavy heart did Paul go off from his work at Ephesus, Acts xx. It spends a minister to preach, but more to be filent. 'Tis a loud speaking judgment, when God shall say to them as to Ezekiel, si Son of man, I will make thy tongue cleave to the roof of thy “i mouth, and thou shalt be dumb," Ezek. iii. 26. Such filencing providences, speaking thundring language to gracious hearts ; yet, even then, the keepers of the yineyard have a pri