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For strangenels now is got between
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Upon the incurableness of some bad Grouod.
No skill cap mend the miry ground; and fure
OBSERVATION: LTHOUGH the industry and skill of the husband
man can make some ground that was useless and bad, good for tillage and pasture, and improve that which was barren; and by his cost and paios make one acre worth ten; get fuch is the nature of some rocky or miry ground, wliere the water Itands, and there is no way to cleanse it, that it can never be made fruitful. The husbandmao is fain to let it alone, as an incurable piece of walte or worthless grouod ;, and though the fun and clouds shed their influences on it, as well as upon. better
land, yet that doth not at all mend it. Nay, the more showers : it receives, the worse it proves. For these do no way fecundate or improve it; nothing thrives there, but worthless Aigs and rushes.
over by God to judicial blindness, hardness of heart, a repruoate fease, aod perpetual barrennefs; so that how excel. lent foever the means are, which they enjog, and how efficacious foever to the conversion, edification, and salvation of others; yet they fall dever do their souls good. Ezek. xlvii. 9, 11." Every thing wheresoever the river comes shall live, but “ the miry places thereof, and the marshes thereof fhall never “ be healed, but be given to falt;" (i. e.) given to an obli. nate and everlasting barreoness. Compare Deut. ix. 23. By : these waters, faith the judicious + Mr. Strong, understand the. doctrine of the gospel ; as Rev. xxi. 2. a river of water of life, clear as crystal; Hic Auvius eft uberrima doctrina Cbristi, faith Mr. Brightman. This river is the moft fruitful doctrine of Christ; yet thefe waters do not heal the miry, marshy places, (i, e.) men that live unfruitfully under ordinances, who are compared to miry, marshy places, in thrçe respects :
(1.) la miry places the water hath not free passage, but : fraads, and settles there. So it is with these barren fouls, therefore the apostle prays, that the gospel may run, and be glorified, 2 Theff. ii. l. The word is said to run, when it meets with no stop, Gum libere propagatur, when it is freely propagated, and ruos through the whole mao; when it meets with Do stop, either in the mouth of the speaker, or hearts of the hearers, as it deth ia these.
(2.) In a miry place the earth and water is mixed together ; this mixture makes mire. So when the truths of God do mix with the corruptions of men, that they either hold some truths, and yet live in their lufts; or else wheo men do make use of the truths of God to justify and plead for their fios. Or,
(3.) When, as in a miry place the longer the water stands in it, the worse it grows; fo the longer men abide onder ordiDances, the more filthy and polluted they grow : Thele are the miry places that cannot be healed, their disease is incurable, defperate.
Ochis is a fad cafe! and yet very common; many persons
* Spiritual barrenness. p. 8.
are thus given over as incorrigible, and hopeless, Res. xxii. 11. « Let him that is filthy be filthy still.” Jer. vi. 29. “Reprobate “ Glver Mall men call them, for the Lord hath rejected them." Ifa. vi. 10, 11. “Go make the heart of this people fat, their ears “ dull,” &c.
Chrift executes, by the gospel, that curse upon many souls, which he denounced agaiost the fig-tree, Matth. xxi. 19.“ Lez “no fruit grow on thee henceforth for ever; and immediately " the fig-tree withered away.” To be given op to such a condition, is a fearful judgment indeed, a curse with a witness; the sum of all plagues, miseries, and judgments, a fatal stroke at the root'isfelf. Io is a woe to have a bad heart (faith dne). but it is the depth of woe to have a heart at dever shall be made better." To be barren under the gospel, is a fore judgment, but to have
a that pertinax fterilitas, a pertinacious barredness ; this is to be twice dead, and plucked up by the root, as Jude fpeaks.
And to thew you the woful, and miserable state and plight of such men, let the following particulars be weighed.
(1.) It is a stroke at the foul itself, an inward spiritual judg. meat; and by how much the more inward and spiritual any judgment is, by so much the more dreadful and lamentable. As Toul-mercies are the best of mercies, fo foul-judgments are the faddelt of all judgments. If it were but a temporal stroke upon the body, the loss of an eye, an ear, a haod, a foot, though in itself it would be a considerable loss, yet in were nothing to this. Omnia Deus dedit duplicia, faith Chryfoftom, speakeing of bodily members; God bath given men double members, two eyes, if one be loft, the other fupplies its wants; two hands, two ears, two feet, that the failing of one may be fupplied: by the help of the other ; animam vero unan, but one foul ; if that perish, there is not another to supply its loss. “The foul, "faith a * heathen, is the man, that which is feen, is not the “ man." The apostle calls the body a vile body, Phil, iii. 21. and so it is, compared with the soul; and Daniel calls it the Sheath, which is but a contemptible thing to the sword which is in it. O it were far better that inany bodies perish, than one soul; that every member were made the seat and subject of the most exquisite torture, than such a judgment fhould fall upon the foul.
(2.) It is the feverest stroke God can inflict upon the foul in this life, to give it up to barreoness ; because it cuts off all hopes, frustrates all means, nothing can be a blessing to him.
If one comes from the dead, if angels should defcend from heaven to preach to him, there is no hope of him. If God shut up a man, who can open? Job xii. 14. As there was none found in heaven or earth that could open the seals of that book, Rev. 5. 5. to. is there no opening by the hand of the niort able and skiltul miniftry, those feals of hardness, blindoels and uobelief, thus impressed upon the fpirit. Whom justice lo locks up, mercy will never let out. This is that which maks up the una. themai Maranatha; 1 Cor. xvi. 22. which is the dreadfulle 1 curse in all the book of God, accurfed till the Lord come.
(3.) It is the most indiscernible Iroke to themselves that can be, and by that fo much the more desperate. Hence there is faid to be poured out upon them the spirit of llumber, Ifa. xxix. 10.« The Lord hath poured out upon you the spirit of • deep sleep, and hath clofed your eyes.” Montanus renders is, The Lord hath mingled upon you the spirit of deep sleep. And so it is an allusion to a loporiferous medicine minglied, and made up of opium, and such-like stupefactive ingredients, which caits a man into Such a deep. Sleep, that do what you will to him, be teels, he knows it not. " Make their eyes heavy and " their ears dult; left they should see, and hear, and be con“ verted,” Ifa. vi. 9, 10. This is the heart that cannot repent, which is fpoken of, Rom. ii. 5. For men are not feosible at all of this judgment, they do not in the least fufpect it, and that is their milery. Though they be cursed trees, which shall never bear any fruit to life, yet many times they bear abundance of other fair and plealant fruits to the eye, excellent gifts, and rare endowments; and these deceive and updo them. Mat. vii. 22.“ We have prophesied ip thy name;” this makes the wound desperate, that there is no finding of it, no prope to search it.
(4.) It is a stroke that cuts off from the soul all the comfort: and sweetness of religion. A man may pray, hear, and coofer, but all those duties are dry stalks to him, which yield ao meat, no folid substantial nutriment; some common touches upon the affections he may sometimes find in doty, the melting voice or rhetoric of the preacher may perhaps strike his natural affictions, as another tragical story pathetically delivered may do ; but to have any real communion with God in ordinances, ang discoveries or views of the beauty of the Lord in them, that he cannot have; for these are the special effects and operations of the spirit, which are always restrained.
God hath said to fuch, as he did to them, Gen. vi. 3. " Spirit shall no longer. Atrive with them;” and then what fwecie
dels is there in ordinances ? What is the word, separated from
(5.) It is fuch a stroke upon the spirit of man, as is a fearful fign of his eternal reprobation. It is true, we cannot positively lay of a man in this life, he is a reprobate, one that God will Qever few mercy to; but get there are come probable marks of it upon some men in this world, and they are of a trembling confideration wherever they appear; of which this is one of the faddeft, 2 Cor. iv. 3.“ If our gospel be hid, it is “ hid to those that are lost, in whom the God of this world " hath blinded the miods of them that believe not ; left the “ light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of • God, should shine unto them.” So Acts xii. 48.
As many as were ordained uato eternal life believed. Ye believe
not, because ye are not of my sheep,” John X. 26. And agaio, Matth. xii. 11." To you it is given to know the mysteries “ of the kingdom, but to them it is not gived." There cannot be a more dreadful character of a person marked out for wrath, than to continue under the ordioances, as the rocks and miry places do under the natural iofluences of heaven. What blolled opportunities had Judas? He was under Christ's ova