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To Mhadow forth a heavenly mystery,
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up the heavens over our heads, and makes the earth as brass under our feet, Deut. xxvii. 23. Then the husbandmen are
called to mouroing, Joel i. 11. All the fields do languish, and the bellowing cattle are pined with thirst. Such a tad state the prophet rhetorically describes, Jer. xiv. 3, 4, 5, 6 “The nobles
have fent their little ones to the waters; they came to the “ pits and found no water ; they returned with their vessels " empty; they were ashamed and confounded, and covered “ their heads, because the ground is chapt; for there was no " rain in the earth; the plowmen were alhamed, they covered " their heads; yea, the hind also calved in the field, and for. “ fouk it, because there was no grass ; and the wild asses did “ stand in the high places : They fouffed up the wind like “ dragons; their eyes failed, because there was no grass.”
And that which makes the want of raio fo terrible a judg. ment, is the famine of bread, which necessarily follows there extraordinary, droughts, and is one of the forest temporal judgments which God inflicts upon the world.
over whose fouls God thats up the spiritual clouds of the gospel, and thereby fends a spiritual famine upon their souls. Such a judgment the Lord threatens in Amos viii. 11. “Be“ hold the day is come, faith the Lord, that I will send a famine " in the land, pot a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but " of hearing the word of the Lord." The meaning is, I will send a giore fearful judgmeat than that of the famiae of bread; for this particle (not] is aot exclusive but excesive ; implying, that a famine of bread is nothing, or but a light judgment compared with the famine of the word. Parallel to which is that text, Hla. v. 6. “I will lay it waste (faith God of the fruitless church ;) " it shall not be pruned nor digged; but there shall come up “ briars and thoras; I will also command the clouds that they “ rain not upon it.” And we find both in human and sacred histories, that when God hath shut up the spiritual clouds, removing or filencing his minifters, lensible Christians have ever been deeply affected with it, and reckoned it a most tremenduous judgment. Thus the Christians of Antioch, when Chrysostom their mioilter was banished, * they judged it better to lose the fun out of the firmament, than lose that, their minister. And when Nazianzen was taking his leave of Conftantinople, as he was preaching his farewel jermon, the people were exceedingly af
It is better for us to want the light of the sun, than the teaching of Chryfoftomus. VOL. VI.
fected with his lofs; and among the rest, an old man in the congregation fell into a bitter pallion, and cried out, Aude pater, et tecum trinitatem ipsam ejice : (i.e.) Go, Father, if you dare, and take away the whole irinity with you; meaning, that God would not say when he was gone. How did the Christians of Antioch also weep and lament, when Paul was taking his farewel of them ? A&ts xx. 37, 38. He had been a cloud of blesfings to that place, but now they must expect no more showers from him. Oh ! they knew not how to give up such a minister! when the ark of God (which was the symbol of the Divine prefence among the Jews) was taken, “All the city cried out," } Sam. iv. 13. Oh the loss of a gospel-miniftry is an igestimable lofs, not to be repaired but by its own return, or by heaven! Mr. Greenham tells us, that in the times of popish perfecution, when godly minifters were haled away from their focks to martyrdom, the poor Christians would meet them in the way to the prisons, or Nake, with their little ones in their arms, and throwing themselves at their feet, would thus bespeak them, . What
Mall be our eftate, now you are gone to martyrdom? Who • Niall instruct these poor babes? Who shall ease our afflicted • consciences ? Who fhall lead us in the way of life? Recon
peace upto them, O Lord, as they have deferved, who are the • causes of this : Lord' give them sad hearts.' Quis talia fando, temperet a lachrymis ? And to let you fee there is fufficient ground for this forrow, when God' refrains the influences of the gospel, folemnly consider the following particulars.
1. That it is a dreadful token of God's great anger against that people from whom he removes the gospel. The anger of God was fearfully incensed against the church of Ephefus, when he did but threaten to come against her, and remove the candlestick out of its place, Rev. ii. 5. It is a stroke at the foul, a blow at the root; usually the last, and therefore the worst of judgments. There is a pedigree of judgments ; first, Gomer bears Jezreel; next, Lo-ruhama, uod at last brings forth Lo-ammi, Hofea i. 4, 6; 8, 9.
2. There is cause of mourning, if you consider the deplorable estate in which all the upregenerate fouls are left, after the gofpel is removed from them. What will become of thele? Or by whom shall they be gathered ? It made the bowels of Christ
yearo within him, wheo he looked upon the scattered multitude that had no Mepherd. Matth. ix. 36. What an easy conquest dosh the devil now make of them? How fast doth hell fill in such times ? Poor fouls being driven thither in droves, and none to rescue them! Matthew Paris tells us, that
in the year 1073, when preaching was fuppressed at Rome, letters were then framed as coming from hell; wherein the devil gaye tbem thanks for the multitude of souls they had feot to him that year. But truly we need not talk of letters from hell, we are told from heavca, how deplorable the condition of such poor souls is ; See Prov. xxviii. 19. Hof. iv. 6.
3. The judgment will get appear very heavy, if you conder che lols which God's own people sustain by the removal of the gospel; for therein they lole 410) Their chief glory, Rom. iii
. 2. The principal thing in which the peculiar glory of Israel coolsted was this, " That unto them were committed " the oracles of God.” Do that account it was called the glorious laod, Dan. xi. 16. This made them greater than all the Rations round about them, Deat. iv. 7, 8. (2.) By losing the ordinances they lose their quickeniogs, comforts, and soul-refreshments; for all these are sweet streams from the golpclfountain, Psalm cxix. 5o. Col. iv. 8. No wonder then to hear the people of God complain of dead hearts when the gospel is removed. (3.) In the loss of the gospel they lose their defence and fafety. This is their bedge, their wall of protection, Ifa. v. 5. Walls and hedges (faith Musculus in loc.) are the ordi. pances of God, which ferved both ad separationem et munitionem, to distinguish and to defend them. When God plucks op this hedge, and breaks down this wall, all mischiefs break in upon us prefently, 2 Chron. XV. 3, 4, 5, 6. “ Now for a long s seafoa Israel hath been without the true God, and without a
teaching priest, aod without law.And in those times Be there was oo peace to him that went out, nor to him that came ia, but
all the inhabitants of " the countries, and pation was destroyed of pation, and city “ of city; for God did vex them with all adverfiry.” How loog did Jerusalem remain after that voice was heard in the temple, Migremus hinc? Let us be gone? (4.) With the gofpel, we lose our temporal enjoyments and creature-comforts. These usually come and go with the gospel. When God had once written Lo-ammi upon Israel, the acxt news was this, “I “ will recover my wool and my fax,” Hosea ii. 9. (5.) And, Jastly, to come up to the very case in haad, they lole with it their spiritual food and soul-lubafteoce, for the gospel is their feast of fat things, Isa. xxv. 6. their (piritual wells, Isa. xii. 3. a dose distributed among the Lord's poor, Rom. i. 11. lo a word, it is as the rain and dews of heaven, as hath been shewed, which being restrained, a spiritual famiae neceffarily follows, a famine, of all, the most terrible. Now to thew you the analogy between this apd a temporal famine, that therein you may lee what caute you have to be deeply affected with it, take it in these fix following particulars.
great vexations were upon
1. A famine caused by the tailing of bread, or that which is in the stead, and bath the use of bread. Daiaties and fuperRuous rarities may fail, and yet men may tubfiit comfortably : As long as people have bread aod water, they will not famih ; but take away bread once, and the spirit of man faileth. Upon this account bread is called a Itaff, Plalm cv. 16 because what a ftaff is to an aged and feeble man, that bread is to the faint and feeble fpirits, which even fo do lean upon it. And look what bread is to the natural fpirits, that; and more than that, the word is to gracious spirits, Job xxiii. 12. “ I have esteemed the “ words of thy mouth, more than my necessary food." I once God breaks this ftaff, the inner man, that hidden man of the heart, will quickly begin to fail and faulter.
2. It is not every degree of fcarcity of bread that presently makes a famine, but a general failing of it; when do bread is to be had, or that which is, yields ao nutriment.
For a famine may as well be occasioned by God's taking away panis nutrimen. tum, the nourishing vertue of bread, that it shall Gigoify no more, as to the end of bread, than a chip, Hag. i. 6. As by taking away panem nutrientem, bread itself, Ira, iji. 1. And to it is in a fpiritual famioe, which is occafioned, either by God's remove ing all the ordinances, and making vision utterly to fail; or else, though there be preaching, prayer, and other ordinances left (at least the names and snadows of them) yet the presence of God is oor with them. There is no marrow in the bone, no milk in the breast; and so, as to a foul-fubfiftcoce, it is all one, as if there were no such things.
3. In a corporeal famine, mean and coarse things become sweet and pleasant : Famine raises the price and esteem of them. That which before you would have throwo to your dogs, now goes down pleasaotly with your felves. To the hungry soul every bitter thiog is sweet, Prov. xxvii. 7. It is the Dutch
7 proverb, and a very true one, hunger is the best cook*.
In time of famine coarselt fare contents, • The barking stoınach straios do complements.' It is storied of Artaxerxes Memor, that when he was flying before his enemies, he fed hungrily upon barley-bread, and faid, Cujusmodi voluptatis hactenus inexpertus fuit! O what
Jujunus ftomachus raro vulgaria temnit.