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vate vineyard of their own to look after, they have much home work, when no out-work.
16. Prop. There is a vaft difference betwixt those fields which have been well husbanded, and dressed by a skilful and diligent husbandman; and those that have been long out of husbandry. How fragrant is the one? How dry and barren the other? when you pass by a field well dressed and fenced, every thing prosperous, and in exquisite order, you may know, without farther enquiry, that a good husbandman lives there.
Reddit. Thus ftands the cafe betwixt those places which God hath blessed with a faithful painful ministry, and such as have none, or worse than none : for as the husbandman's coft and pains appear in the verdant, and fragrant hue of his fields; fo a minifter's pains and diligence are (ordinarily) seen in the hea. venly lives, and flourishing graces of the people. The churches of Corinth and Theffalonica, where Paul, and other holy inftruments, spent much of their time and pains, became famous and flourishing churches, 2 Cor. ix. 2. A special blessing comes along with a godly minister, to the place where special providence assigns him. Such places, like Gideon's fleece, have the dew of heaven lying on them, whilst others round about are dry and barren.
17. Prop. The husbandman is not discouraged, though the feed' lie long under the clods; he knows it will spring up at laft, and reward him, or those that come after him, for their pains and patience in waiting for it.
Reddit. Ministers should not be presently discouraged in their work, because they see but little or no appearance of all the feed they have fown among the people. The “servant 66 of the Lord' must be patient towards all, waiting if at any « time God will give them repentance,” 2 Tim. ii. 24, 25. And if it never spring up in his time, it may after his death ; and if so, he shall not fail of his reward, John iv. 36, 37.
And he that reapeth, receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit “ unto life eternal, that both he that loweth, and he that reap“ eth, may rejoice together; and herein is that saying true, one « foweth, and another reapeth.” Though ministers die, yet their words live; yea, their words take hold of men when they are in the dust, Zech. i. 6.
18. Prop. Husbandmen find low grounds, and valleys, most fertile; hills, how lofry foever they overtop the lower grounds, yet answer not the husbandman's pains, as the valleys do : these are best watered and secured from the scorching heat of the fun.
Reddit. Experience shews us, that the humbleft faints ar moft fruitful under the gospel; “ These are they that receiv “ with meekness the ingraffed word,” Jam. i. 21. whose in Buences abide in them, as the rain doth in the low valleys Happy is that minifter, whose lot falls in such a pleasant val. ley. “Blessed are they that low befide all such waters, that « send forth thither the feet of the ox and the ass,” Ifa. xxxii. 20. among these valleys run the pleasant springs, and purling brooks, which fertilize the neighbouring ground. Heavenly ordinances there, leave fruitful influences.
19. Prop. The first crop is usually the best, and the longer the husbandman tills his ground, the less it produces; after a few years its vigour and strength is spent. Reddit
. The first entertainment of the gospel is commonly the best ; and what good is done by the ministry is often done at its first entrance. New things are pretty, and very taking. “ John at first was to the Jews a burning and shining light, " and they were willing, [for a season] to rejoice in his light, John v. 35. Paul was highly valued among the Galatians at first; such was their zeal, that they could have plucked out their eyes, and have given them to him; but how quickly did this full tide ebb again? For he complains, Gal. iv, 15: " Where then is the blessedness ye spake of?"
20. Prop. Lastly, When fields prove barren, and will not quit the husbandman's coft, nor answer the feed he fows in them, he plucks up the hedges, and lays it waste.
Reddit. So when churches grow formal, and fruitless, the Lord removes his gospel-presence from them, plucks up the hedge of his protection from about them, and lays them open, as waste ground, to be over-run by their enemies. Jer. vii
. 124, “ Go to Shiloh, and see what I did unto it." What is become of those once famous and flourishing churches of Alią? Are they not laid waste, and trodden down by infidels? And now go to, faith the great Husbandınan, “ I will tell you what I << will do to my vineyard; I will pull up the hedge thereof, « and it shall be laid waste," Ifa. v. 5.
Thus you fee the allegory opened in its particulars : from the whole, I shall present you with these five ensuing corollaries.
The first Corollary: How great then are the dignities and privileges of the chur: ches of Jesus Christ whom he hath appropriated to himself, above all the people of the earth, to be his peculiar in heritance? The Test of the world is a waste wilderness; all other places, how
pleasant foever, in respect of their natural amenity and delights, are truly enough called the dark places of the earth ; dismal, folitary, cells, where Ziim and lim, Bitterns, Cormorants, and every doleful creature dwells. But the church is the paradise of the earth, a garden inclosed, Cant. iv. 12. in whose hedges the gospel birds chirp and ling melodiously, Cant. ii. 12. Its beds are beds of spices, Cant. vi. 2. and betwixt its pleasant banks, a cryftal river of living water runs, Rev. xxii. 1. the ftreams whereof make glad the city of God, in the midst whereof the Lord himself delights to walk. O Sion, with what pleasures dost thou abound? If Bernard was fo ravished with the delights of his monastery, because of its green banks, and shady bowers, and herbs, and trees, and various objects to feed his eyes, and fragrant smells, and sweet and various tunes of birds, together with the opportunities of devout contemplation, that he cried out admiringly, Lord! what delight dof thou provide, even for the poor! How much more should we be ravished with Sion's glory? For, beautiful for situation is mount Zion. Of whom it may much more truly be said, what chronicler of our own once said of England, That it is the fortunate island, the paradise of pleasure, the garden of God, whose valleys are like Eden, whose hills are as Lebanon, whose springs are as Pisgah, whose rivers are as Jordan, whose wall is the ocean, and whose defence is the Lord Jehovah. Happy art thou, O Israel; who is like unto thee? Who can count the privileges wherewith Christ hath invested his churches ? O let it never seem a light thing in our eyes,
within his blefled inclosure. How sweet a promise is that, Exod. xix. 5. « Ye shall be to me a peculiar treasure, above all people ; for all the earth is mine.”
The second Corollary, Hence it follows, That spiritual barrenness is a great reproach and shame to Christians. Shall God's husbandry, which is planted, watered, fenced, filled with favours and mercies, be like the barren heath in the desart ? Surely it should be said of every soul that grows here, as the historian faith of Spain, that there is nihil infructuosum, nihil fterile ; nothing barren, or unfruitful in it. God's vineyard is planted in a very fruitful hill. Ila. v. 1. “ And surely they that are planted in the house of " the Lord, should flourish in the courts of our God; they " should bring forth fruit, even in old age, to thew that God
that we grow
" is upright," Pial. xcii. 13, 14. “ They are created in Chrift “ Jesus unto good works, which God hath ordained they " should walk in,” Eph. ii. 10. “ They are married unto “ Christ, that they might bring forth fruit to God," Rom. vii. 4. An empty branch is a dithonour to the root that bears it, a barren field to the husbandman that owns it ; God cannot endure that in his fields, which he suffers in the wilderness.
The third Corollary. If the church be God's husbandry, then there is such a special, gracious presence of the Lord in his churches, as is not to be found in all the world beside. Where may you expect to find the husbandman, but in his own fields There lies his business, and there he delights to be. And where may we exped to find God, but in the assemblies of his faints? “He “ walks among the golden candlesticks,” Rev. ii. 1. I will walk among you, (faith he) and be your God, 2 Cor. vi. 16. Upon this account the church is called Jehovah Shammah, the Lord is there, Ezek. xlviii. ult. You may fee the footiteps of God in the creatures, but the face of God is only to be seen in his ordinances. Hence, Psal. xxvii. 4. “ David longed for “ the temple, that he might see the beauty of the Lord.” Now what is beauty, but a symmetry and proportion of parts? In the works of creation, you see one attribute manifested in one thing, and another in another thing: but in the sanctuary you may jee beauty, even in all the attributes of God difplayed there: And, indeed, we find in Scripture fach astonishing expressions about the visions of God in his church, that in reading them, a man can see little difference betwixt it and lieaven; for as the church is called heaveit, Mat. xxv. I. so it's description is like that of heaven. Heb. xii. 22, 23. - You are come to the hea
venly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels," GC. And Rev. xxii. 4. “They shall see his face, and his name " shall be written in their foreheads." And ver. 6. The saints are represented “ standing nearer to the throne of God, than the “ angels themselves.” Hence also crdinances are called galIeries, in which both faints and angels' walk; beholding the glory of him that fits upon the throne. Zech. iii. 7. “ If you << will keep my ways, I will gixe you galleries 'to walk in, among them that stand by.
The fourth Corollary. If the church be God's husbandry, then those that be employed in ministerial work ought to be men of great judgment, and experience in font-affairs; for these are the labourers whoni God, the mystical Husbandman, employs, and intrufts about
his spiritual husbandry. Should husbandmen employ ignorant persons, that neither understand the rules, ncr proper seafons of husbandry; how much would such workmen damnify and prejudice him? He will not employ such to weed his fields, as know not wheat from tares; or to prune his trees, that think midsummer as fit for that work as December: much less will God. He qualifies all that he sends, with wisdom for their work. “ His workmen approve themselves workmen indeed, such as “ need not be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth," 2 Tim. ii. 15. As Bezaleel was furnished with wisdom, before he was employed in tabernacle-work; so Christ instructs his servants, with skill and insight, before they are employed in ministerial work. He gives them a mouth and wisdom, Luke xxi.
15 endues them with power from on high; as Christ was filled abundantly with the Spirit for his work, fo, according to proportion, are those that are sent by him. John xx. 21, 22.
Father hath sent me, so send I you.” . And as for those that run before they are sent, and understand not the mysteries of the gospel; I shall say no more of them but this; “ Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do."
The fifth Corollary. To conclude, If the church be God's husbandry, that is, if husbandry have so many resemblances of God's works about the church in it; then how inexcusable is the ignorance of husbandmen in the things of God, who, besides the word of the gospel, have the teaching of the creatures; and can hardly turn their hands to any part of their work, but the Spirit hints one spiritual use or other from it to their souls? How do the Scrip. tures abound with parables, and lively similitudes taken from husbandry ? From the field, the feed, the plow, the barn, from threshing and winnowing; fimilitudes also from planting, graffing, and pruning of trees; and not a few from the ordering of cattle. So that to what business soever you turn your lands, in any part of your calling, still God meets you with one heavenly instruction or other. But alas ! How few are able to improve their civil employments to such excellent ends! Thefc things are but briefly hinted in the Scriptures, and those hints scattered up and down, that they know not where to find them ; and if they could, yet would it be difficult fo to methodize them, as it is neceffary they should be, in order to their due improvement by meditation.
And therefore I judged it necessary to collect and prepare them for their use; and in this manner to present them 10