« AnteriorContinuar »
* be knowledge, that hhall cease. All delh is grals, and the “ goodliness
of it as the flower of the grafs; the grafs witber “ eth, the flower fadeth, but the word of the Lord abideth “ for ever,” Ila. xl. 6, 8. Many times they leave a map before death. One kaock, if it hit right, (as one faith) may make a wile man a fool; but, to be sure, they all leave us at deatb. “ Doth got his excellency which is in him go away!" Job iv. 21. yea, then all natural excellency departs : Death Strips the foul of all those fplendid ornaments, then the rhetorical tongue is struck dumb; the nimble wit, and curious faccỹ, thall enter tain your ears with so more pleasant discourses. Nunquam jocos dabis, as Adrian said to his departing foul; but grace ascends with the foul into eternity, and there receives its perfection, and accomplishment. Gifts take their leave of the foul, as Orpha did of Naomi; but grace faith then, as Ruth, Where thou goeft I will go, and, where thou lodgeft I will lodge, and nothing hall separate thee and me. Now put all this togther, and then judge whether the apostle spoke hyperboles, when be said, “ Covet earoellly the best gifts, and yet I fhew onto you
a more excellent way,” i Cor. xii. ult. And thus you have the choiceness of these principles allo.
REFLECTIONS. The grucious
The lines are falled to me in a. pleafant soul's reflection. fective foever I am in gifts, yet blessed be
place, may the gracious foul fay: How dethe Lord, who hath fown the feeds of true grace in my heart. What though I am not famed, and honoured among men, let it suffice me that I am precious in the eyes of the Lord. Though he hath not abounded to me in gifts of nature, “ Yet “ blessed be the God and Father of my Lord Jesus Chrift, " who hath abounded to me in all fpiritual bleffings, in heaven* ly places in Chrift Jesus," Eph. i. 3. Is not a true jewel, though spurned in the dirt, more precious than a false one, though set in gold? Why art thou troubled, O my soul, for the want of thefe things which reprobates may have? and art pot rather admiridg and blelling God for those things which none, but the darlings and favourites of heaven can have? Is not an ounce of pure gold more valuable thao many pounds of gilded brass? What though the dews of Helicon descend not upon my head, if in the mean time the fweet jo fuences of Sion fall upon my
heart? O my God! how much foever others are elated by the light of their knowledge, I have cause, with humility, to adore thee for the heavenly heat with which thou haft warmed my affections.
Paase a while, my soul, upon this point : With what feed is my heart sown, and of what the deceived kiod are those things wherein I excel others? foul's reflection. Are they indeed special seeds of grace, or com mon gifts, and natural excellencies? If the latter, little cause have I to pride myself in them, were they ten thousand times more than they are. If these things be indeed the things that accompany falvation, the feed of God, the true and real work of grace, then, (1.) How comes it to pass that I never found any throws, or travailing pangs in the production of them? Ic is affirmed, and generally acknowledged, that the new creature is never brought forth without such pain and compunctions of heart, Acts ii. 37. I have indeed often felt an aking head, whilft I have read and ftudied to increafe my knowledge ? But when did I feel aa aking heart for fia? O I begin to fuspect, that it is not right. Yca, (2.) And my suspicion increases while E consider that grace is of an humbling nature, 1 Cor. xv. 10. Lord, how have I been elated by my gifts, and valued myself above what was meet? O how have i delighted in the noise of the Pharisee's trumpet ! Mat. vi. 2. No music fo sweet as that. Say, O my conscience, have I got delighted more in the theatre than the closet ? lo the praise of men, than the approbaa tion of God ? O how many evidences doft thou produce against me? Indeed these are sad fymptoms that I have shewed thee, but there is yet another, which renders thy cafe more suspicious yet, yea, that which thou can't make no rational defence against, even the ineffectualpefs of all thy gifts and knowledge to mortify any one of all thy lusts. , It is beyond all dispute, that gifts may, but grace cannot confift without mortification of fin, Gal. v. 24. Now what loft hath fallen before these excellent parts of mine? Doth got pride, paffion, covetousness, aod indeed the whole body of fin, live and thrive in me as much as ever? Lord, I yield the cause, I can defend it no longer against my confcience, which cafts and condemps me, by full proof, to be but in a wretched, cursed, lamentable fate, Dotwithstandiog all my knowledge, and flourishing gifts. O thew me a more excellent way. Lord ! that I had the fincerity of the poorest saint, though I should lose the applause of all my parts; with these I see I may go to hell, but without lome better thing oo hope of heaven,
The PO E M. GREAT difference betwixt that feed is found,
With which you fow your fev'ral plots of ground,
Sced-wheat doch far excel in dignity
CH A P. JX.
watered, and warmed with the dews and influences of
heaver, or do fruit can be expected. If God do not open to you his good treafure, the heavens to give raio unto the land in its feason, and blefs all the work of your hands, as it is Dept. xxviii. 12. the earth cpoot yield her jocrease. The order and dependence of oatural causes in the production of fruit, is excellently described, Hof. ii. 21, 22. “ I will hear the heavens, " and they shall hear the earth ; and the earth shall hear the “ coro, and wine, and oil, and they shall hear Jezreel.” Jezreel must have cora, and wine, and oil, or they cannot live ; they cannot have it unless the earth bring it forth; the earth cannot bring it forth without the heavens; the heavens cannot yield a' drop onless God hear them, that is, unlock and open them.
Nature, and natural causes, are nothing elfe but the order • jo whicl God works. This fome heatheos, by the light of nature, acknowledged, and theretore wheo they went to plow in the morging, they did lay one hand upon the plow (to speak their own part to be painfulaels) and held up the other haod to Ceres, the goddess of coro, to show that their expectation of pleoty was from their supposed deity t. I fear many Christians lay both hands to the plow, and feldom lift up heart, or hand to God, when about that work. There was an husbandman (faith | Mr. Smith) that always sowed good seed, but Dever had good corn; at last a neighbour came to him, and said, I will tell you what'probably may be the cause of it ; it may be (faid he) you do not steep your feed: No, truly, said the other, por did I ever hear that leed must be steeped. Yes, surely, Said his neighbour, and I will tell you how; it must be steeped in prayer. When the party heard this, he thanked him for his counsel, reformed his fault, and had as good corn as aoy man: wbatsoever.' Surely it is not the husbandman's, but God's steeps, that drop fatness. Alma mater terra, the earth indeed is a fruitful mother, but the raiu which fecundates, and fertilizes it, hath no other Father but God, Job xxxviii. 28.
APPLICATION. s impossible it is (in an ordinary way) for fouls to be
made fruitful id grace and holiness, without the dews and influences of ordinances, and the blessing of God upon them, as for the earth to yield her fruit without the natural
Natura nihil aliud eft quam divinorum operum ordo. Bereprius. + Weem's Cerem. Law.
Smith's Edex Dove. VOL, VI.
influebces of heaven; for look, what dews, showers, and clear shiniogs after rain are to the fields, that the word and ordinagces of God are to the souls of men. “ My doctrine shall drop
as the rain, my speech shall distil as the dew, as the imall raio
upon the tender herb, and as the showers apon the grass,” Deut. xxxii. 2." For as the rain cometh dowo, and the snow “ from heaven, and watereth the carth, and maketh it bring " forth and bud; so shall my word be that goeth forth of my 4 mouth," Ifa. Iv. 10, 11. And as the doctrine of the gospel is. rain, fo gospel-ministers are the clouds in which those heavenly vapours are bound up: the resemblance lies in the following particulars.
1. The rain comes from heaven, Acts xiv. 17. “He gave “ us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons," &c. The doctrine of the golpel is also of an heavenly extraction and descent, they are heavenly truths which are brought to you in earthen vessels, things that were hid in God, and come from his bofom, Eph. iii. 8, 9. What Nicodemus faid of Chrilt is, in a proportion, true of every faithful dispepler of the gospel, “ Thou art
a teacher come from God,” John iii. 2. You are not to look upon the truths which ministers deliver, as the mere effects and fruits of their inventions and parts, they are but the conduits through which those celestial waters are conveyed to you. It is all heavenly, the officers are from heaven, Eph. iv. 12. their doctrine from heaven, Eph iü. 8, 9. the efficacy and succels of it from heaven, 1 Cor. ii. 3." What I received of the " Lord (laith Paul) that have I delivered unto you," i Cor. xi. 23. The fame may every gospel-mioister say too. That is the first :
And then, (2dly.) The rain falls by divine direction and appointment: "He causes it to rain upon one city, and not upon "! another,”. Amos iv. 7. You shall often see a cloud dissolve and spend itself upon one place, when there is not a drop witbio a few miles of it. Thus is the gospel feat to shed its rich influ. ences upon one place, and not upon another; it pours down showers of blemings, upon one town or parish, whilft others are dry like the ground which lay near to Gideon's wet Acece. "To you is the word of this salvation fent,” Acts xiii. 26, Sent; it comes not by chance, but by commision and appointment, and it is seat to you by special direction. Ministers can do more go whither they please, than the failing, clouds can move against the wind. Paul and Timothy, two fruitful clouds (that fent down many sweet refreshing showers upon every place whither they came) the Lord sent them through Phrygia and