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ministry, he often heard the gracious words that proceeded oue of his mouth; he was day and night is his company, yet never the better; and why? Because he was the fan of perdition, that is, a man appointed to destruction and wrath.
(6) Aod lahly, To add no more. It is such a stroke of God upon the souls of men, as immediately fore-runs hell and damnation, Heb. vi. 8.“ But that which beareth thorns and “ briars is rejected, and is nigh unto curfing, whofe end is to “ be buror." So that look as lome faiors, in this world, have had a prelibation or foretaste of heaven, which the scripture calls the earnest of the spirit ; fo this is a precurlor of hell, a Gign of wrath at the door. We may say of it, as it is said of the pale horle in the Revelation, that hell follows it. “ If a man abide
pot in me, (faith Christ, John xv. 6) he is caft forth as a “ braoch, and withered;" which is the very late of thefe barren, curled souls. Aod what follows? Why, faith be, men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are buracd. Lo, this is the vengeance which the gospel executes upon this barren ground.
1. Well then, bleffed be God that made The fencere foul's seflection.
me feel the saving power of the gospel. O, let God be exalted for cver for this
Mercy! that how defective foever I am in common gifts, though I have a dull understanding, a leaking memory, a ftammering tongue; get I have felt, and do feel the power of the gofpel upon my heart. I bless thee (my God) that although I labour under ma. ay spiritual iofirmities, yet I am not lick of this iocurable difease. I have given thee indeed juht cause to iofict and execute this dreadful curse upoa me allo, but thou hast dot dealt with me after my deserts, but according to the riches of thy mercy. Some little fruit I bring forth, and what it is, is by virtue of my union with Jesus Chrift, Rom. vii. 4. And this hath more in it as to my comfort, than all the glittering gifts and splendid performances of the most glorious hypocrite can yield to him: if I might have my choice (faith one) i would chase and prefer the molt despicable and fordid work of a rustic Christian, be. fore all the victories of Alexander, and triumphs of Caefar. Blessed therefore be the Lord, who haib abounded unto me in alt spiritual blessings, in beavenly pluces in Christ Jefus,
I cannot remember a fermou as another can, but blessed be God that I am able to favour it, aod feel it ; that I have an heart to love, and a will to obey all that God discovers to be my duty.
2. O, then how little cause have I to make my The formal boalt of ordinances, and glory in my external priprofeflor's
vileges, who never bear spiritual fruit uader reflection.
them? If I well consider my condition, there is matter of trembling, and not of glorying in these things. It may be while I have been glorying in them, and lifting up my fecure heart upon them, the Lord hath been secretly blasting my soul uoder them, and infeasibly executing this horrible curse by them. Shall I boalt, with Capernaum, that I am lifted up to heaven, fince I may, with her, at last be cast down to hell? And if so, Lord, what a hell will my hell be! It will be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah thaa for me. It drew tears from the eyes of Christ, when he was looking upon serufalem, under the fame consideration that I doubt I have caufe to look upon my owo foul, Luke xix. 41.“ He wept over it, " saying, if thou hadît known, even thou, at least in this thy " day, the things which belong to thy peace, but now they " are hid from thine eyes.” So long have I been a hearer, a professor of the gospel, so many years I have enjoyed its distioguishing ordinances, but have they not been all dry and empty things to me; hath got the spirit of formality acted me in them? Have not self-ends and worldly respects lain at the bottom of any best duties? Have not my discourses, in communion with faints, been trade words, speaking what I have learót, but aot telt? Sad is my condition now, but it would be desperate and it recoverable, shouldst thou execute this curse upon me.
3; And what may I think of my condition ? The less fruit. Lord, I ackoowledge my unprofitableness, une ful Christian's der the means, bath been Thameful; and this reflection. hath made my condition doubtful. I have oftea
trembled for fear, left my rout bad been blasted by such a curse; but if so, wheoce is this trembling? Whence these fears and forrows about it? Doth such fruit grow in that foil which thou hast curfed? I am told but now, that on whom this judgment falls, to them thou givest an heart that cannot repent. Lord, I bless thee for these evidences of freedom from the curfe; for the fruits of fear, forrow, and holy jealousy. * The laws of men spare for the fruits fake, and wilt thou not spare me also, my God, if there be found in me a blessing in the bud, Ifa. Ixv. 8.
4. To conclude, what a serious reflection The gospel 'fhould this occasion in every dispeaser of the
* The Roman laws defer punishing a woman with child. Cbryft.
gospel? How should he lay when he goes to preacher's repreach the gospel, I am going to preach that flections. word, which is to be a favour of life or death to these fouls ; upon how many of my poor hearers may the curse of perpetual barreness be executed this day! Ohow should such a thought melt his heart in to compassion over them, and make him beg hard, and plead earnestly with God for a better issue of the gospel than this upon thema
The PO E M. YOU
OU that besides your pleasant fruitful fields,
Have useless bogs, and rocky ground, that yields
Think when you view them, why the Lord hath chose
For means are fruitless when the Lord doth curse.
Even so the dews of grace, that fweetly fall,
Are to obdurate rocks, fruitless and vaja.
With your own souls; and let it make you
'Upon the plowing of Corn-land.
The plowman guides his plow with care and skill :
OBSERV A TI O N. IT requires not only strength, but much fkill and judgment,
to manage and guide the plow. The Hebrew word Un) which we tanslate to plow, fignifies to be intent, as ao artificer is about some curious piece of work. The plow must neithes go too fhallow, nor too deep in the earth; it must not indent the ground, by making crooked furrows, nor leap, and make baulks in good ground; but be guided as to a just depth of earth, so to cast the furrow is a straight line, that the floor or surface of the field may be made plain, as it is Ifa. xxxviii. 2 5. And hence that expression, Luke ix. 62.“ He that puts his “ hand to the plow, and looks back, is not fit for the kingdom " of heaven." The meaning is, that as he that plows must have his eyes always forward, to guide and direct his hand in casing the turrows straight and even ; (for his hand will be quickly out when his eye is off;) fo he that heartily resolves for heaven, must addict himself wholly and intently, to the busiDess of religion, and not have his mind entangled with the things of this world, which he hath left behind him ; whereby it appears, that the right management of the plow requires as much skill as strength.
APPLICATION. THIS obfervation in nature, ferves excellently to hadow
forth this propofition in divinity ; that the work of the Spirit in convincing and humbliog the heart of a sinner, is a work wherein much of the wisdom, as well as power of God; is discovered. The work of repentance, and saving contritis on, is set forth in fcripture by this metaphor of plowing *, Jer.
* Glofius Rhet. Sacra, p. 300.
17.3. Hof. x. 12: “ Plow up your fallow ground;" that is, be convinced, humbled, and broken-hearted for fin. And the refemblance betwixt both these works, appears in the following particulars.
(1.) It is a hard and difficult work to plow, it is reckoned one of the painfullest manual labours; it is also a very hard thing to conviece aod humble the heart of a secure, stout, and proud finger, induiate io wickedness. What Luther faith of a dejected foul, “ That it is as easy to raise the dead, as to comfort such
a one. The fame I may fay of the secure, confident fioner ; it is as easy to rend the rocks, as to work faving contrition upon such a heart, Citius ex pumice aquam ; all the meltiog language, and earnest intreaties of the gospel, cappot urge such a heart to shed a tear : Therefore it is called a heart of stone, Ezek. xxxvi. 26. a firm rock, Amos vi. 12." Shall horles ruo upon the rock? " Will one plow there with oxen?" Yet when the Lord comes in the power of his Spirit, these rocks' do rend, and yield to the power of the word.
(2.) The plow pierces deep into the bofom of the earth, makes (as it were) a deep galh, or wouod, in the heart of it. So doth the Spirit upon the hearts of sinners, he pierces their very souls by conviction. Acts ii. 37. " When they heard this “ they were pricked, (or * pierced point blank) to the heart. “ Then the word divides the foul and spirit,” Heb. iv. 12. It comes upon the conscience with such piercing dilemmas, and tilts the sword of conviction so deep into their fouls, that there is no stanching the blood, no healing this wound, till Christ himself come, and undertake the cure. Haeret lateri lethalis arurido ; this barbed arrow cannot be pulled out of their hearts by any, but the hand that shot it in. Discourse with such a foul about his troubles, and he will tell you, that all the forrows that ever he had in this world, loss of estate, health, chil. dren, or whatever elfe, are but fea-bitings to this; this swal. lows
up all other troubles. See how that Christian Niobe, Luke vii. 38. is dissolved into tears ; " Now deep calleth unto deep
at the noise of his water-spouts, when the waves and billows " of God go over the soul.” Spiritual forrows are deep waters, io which the stoutest, and most magnanimous foul would luk and drown, did not Jesus Christ, by a fecret and supporting haod, hold it up, and preserve it.
(3.) The plow reods the earth in parts and pieces, which before was united, and makes those parts hang loose, which for
Katewyncav punctim cedo, pungendo penetro,