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From Florence, filks; from Spain, fruit, falfron, Lacks;
APPLICATION Thus hath God distributed the more rich and precious gifts and graces of bis Spirit among his people: fomo excelliog id õne grace, some in another, though every grace, in some degree; be in them all ; even as in nature, though there be all the faculties in all, yet some faculties are io fome more lively and vigo. rous than in others; some have a more vigorons eyć, others a more ready eat, others a more voluble toogue; fo it is in fpirituals. Abraham excelled in faith, Job in patience, fobio in love. These were their peculiar excelleocies. All the elect vefsels are not of Ode quantity; yet even thofe that excel others in some particular grace, tome fort in other respects of those they lo excelled in the former, aod may be much improved by converse with such as in some respects are much below them. The folid, wife, and judicious Christian' may want that livelipels of affections, and tenderness of heart, that appears in the weak; and one that excels in gifts and utterance, may learn humility from the very babes in Chrift,
And one principal reason of this differçot distribution is to maiotain fellowship among them all, 1 Cor. xii. 21. “The head “ canoot fay to the feet, I have no need of you.” As in a fapily where there is much bufiacfs to be done, even the little children bear a part, accordiog to their strength, Jer. vii. 18, " The children gather wood, the fathers kindle the fire, the « women knead the dough.” So in the family of Christ, the weakeft Chriftian is forviceable to the strong.
There be precious treasures in these earthen veffels, for which we should trade by motúal communion. The preciousness of the treasure, should draw out our defires and endeavours after it; and the consideratioa of the brittlepefs of thofe vessels in which they are kept, should caufe us to be the more expeditious
o our trading with them, and make the quicker returns. For when those vessels (I mean bodies of the täiots), are broken by, death, there is no more to be gotten out of them. That trea. fure of grace, which made them such profitable, pleasant, and desirable companions on earth, then ascends with them into hea. ver, where every grace receives its adolescence and perfection:
and then, though they be ten thoufand times more excelledt and delightful than ever ihey were on earth, yet we can have ag more communion with them, cill we come to glory oorselves. Now therefore it behoves us to be enriching ourselves by communication of what God hath dropt into us, and improvement of them, as ope well notes * We should do by faiars, as we use to do by some choice book lept us for a few days, we thould fix in our memories, or transcribe all the choice notions we mect with in it, that they may be our awn' when the book is called for, and we can have it no longer by as.
REFLECTION. Lord, tow, short do I come of my duty in communicating to or receiving good by others ! My soul is either empty and bare ren, or if there be any trealure in it, yet iç is but as a treasure locked up in fome chest, whole key is loft, when it should be opened for the ole of others. Ah Lord! I have loped greatly, pot ooly by vain words, but Gaful silence. I have been of little use in the world.
How litèle also have 1 gætten by communion with others ? Some, it may be, that are of my owo lize, or judgmeot, or that I am otherwise obliged to, I can delight to converse with : but, O, where is that largeness of heart, and general delight I fhould have to, and in all thy people? How many of my old dear ac. quaintance are now in heaven, whole tongues were as choice fet, ver, while they were here, Prov. X. 20. And blefled souls! how communicatiye were they of what thou gavelt ihem? O what an improvement had I made of my talent this way, bad I beca diligent! Lord pardon my aeglect of those iweet and blesed advantages. O let all my delight be iq thy faints, who are the excellent of the earth. Let me never go out of their company, without 20 heart more warmed, quickened, and cnlarged, thao when I came amongst them.
The POE M.
His bopnty, that each one must pay a tribute
* Mr. Gurnal.
And end of God, who doth difpenfe and give
с к л Р. XI.
ocean, yet abide firm and immovable from age to age. The impetuous waves dalh against them with great violence, but canoot remove them out of their place. And although fome: times they wash over them, and make them to disappear, yet there they remain fixed and impregoable.
APPLICATION This is a lively emblem of the condition of the church, a. midit all dangers and oppositions wherewith it is encountered and allaulted in this world. These metaphorical waves roar and beat with violence agaioft it, but with as little success as the sea agaiost the rocks, Matth. xvi. 18. “ Upon this rock will I build “ my church, and the [gates] of hell shall not prevail against “ it." The gates of hell, are the power and policy of hell ; for it is conceived to be an allusive speech to the gates of the Jews, wherein their ammunition for war was lodged, which also were the seats of judicature, there fat the judges; bot get these gates of hell shall not prevail. Nay, this rock is not only ia. viacible, in the midft of their violence, but also breaks all chac dala against it, Zech. xii. 3. " In that day I will make Jerolae tem a burdensome stone for all people; all that burden them
felves with it, shall be cut in pieces, though all the people of
the earth be gathered together agaioft ir." An allufion to one that effays to roul fome great stone against the hill, which at Jalt returns upon him, and crushes him to pieces.
And the reason why it is thus firm and impregnable, is not from itself; for alas, lo considered, it is weak, and obnoxious to ruio; but from the almighty power of God, which guards and preserves it day and night, Palm xlvi 5, 6. "God is in the * midit of her, the fhall not be moved: God fhall help her, " and that right early." Vatab. Dum afpicit mone. When the morning appears. Which notes (faith Calvin) God's asiduous and constant help and succour, which is extended in all dangers, as constantly as the fun arises. And this affiduous faccour to his people, and their great fecurity thereby, is set forth in the Scriptures by a pleasant variety of metaphors and emblems, Zech, ii. 5.“ 1, saith the Lord, will be a wall of fire round av “ bout it.” Some think this phrase alludes to the cherubims, that kept the way of the tree of life with flaming Swords : others, to the fiery chariots round about Dathan, where Elifa was; bur mort think it to be an allwgon to an antient custom of travellers in the desarts; who, to prevent the asfaults of wild beasts in the night, made a circular fire rouod about them, which was as a wall to them. Thus will God be to his people a wall of fire, which none can scale. So Exod. iii. 3, 4, 5. we have an excellent emblem of the church's low and dangerous condition, and admirable prefervation. You have here both a marvel and a mystery. The marvel was to fee a bush all on fire, and yet pot coolomed. The myftery is this, the bush represented the fad condition of the church in Egypt; the fire famiog upon it, the grievous affiliations, troubles, and bondage it was in there; the remaining of the bush unconsumed, the frange and admi. rable preservation of the church in those troubles. It lived there as the three poble Jews, untouched in the midst of a bure. ing fiery furuace: aod the angel of the Lord, in a flame of fire, in the midst of the bụfh, was nothing else but the Lord Jesus Chrift, powerfully aod' gracioufly present with his people, amidst all their dangers and sufferings. The Lord is exceeding tender over them, and jealous for them, as that expression imports, Zech. ii. 8. “ He that coucheth you, toucheth the apple of " mine ege.” He that ftrikes at them, strikes at the face of God; and at the moft excellent part of the face, the eye, and at the most tender and precious part of the eye, the apple of the eye. And yet, as a leasacd modern obferves, this peo
ple, of whom he uses this tender and dear expression, stere none of the best of Ifrael ocither ; but the residue that Itaid behiod in Babylon, when their brethren were gone to rebạild the temple, and yet over there, he is as tender as a pan is ovet
REFLECTION And is the security of the church so great! and its preserva: tion fo admirable, amidst all forms aod tempests! eben why art thou so prone and fubject to defpond, O my soul, in the day of Sion's trouble? Sen Gible thon waft, and oughtest to be; but DO reason to hang down the head through discouragement; much tefs to forsake Zion in ner uittrels, for foar of being ruised with her.
What David fpake to 'Abiathar, 1 Sam. *xii. 13. that may Zion speak to all her sons and daughters io all their diftreffes : " Though he that feeketh thy life, feeketh miac alfo; yet with s me fhalt thou be in fafeguard.” God hath entailed great faf vation and deliverances upon Zion; and blessed are all her friends and favourers; the Rock of Ages is its defence. Feat not, therefore, O my foul, though the hills be removed out of their place, and caft into the midst of the sea. O let my faith triumph, and my heart rejoice upon this grouod of comfort fee the same rocks' now, and in the same place and condition they were many years ago. Though they have codured many ftorms, yet there they abide; and fo fhallZion, when the proud waves have fpeat their fury and rage against it.
May represent the church ; or, if you please,