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To lhadow forth a heavenly mystery,
CH A P. X.
OBSERVATION. defervedly accounted a fad judgmentwhen God luts up the heavens over our heads, and makes the earth as brass under our feet, Deut. xxvüi. 23. Then the hufbandmen 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 foued po 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, becaule there was no grass.”
Aad that which makes the want of rain fu terrible a judg. ment, is the famine of bread, which necessarily follows thele extraordioary, droughts, and is one of the forest temporal judg. ments which God in fiets 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 io Amos visi. 11, “Be“ hold the day is come, faith the Lord, that I will send a famine " in the land, not 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 judgmeot than that of the famiae of bread ; for this particle (not] is not exclufive but exceffive; 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, Ila. v.6." I will lay it waste (faith God of the fruitless church ;) " it hall not be pruned nor digged; but there shall come up “ briars and thorns; I will also command the clouds, that they “ rain pot upon it.” And we find both in human and sacred histories, that when God hath shut up the spiritual clouds, removing or filencing his ministers, sensible Christians have ever been deeply affected with it, and reckoned it a most tremenduous judgment. Thus the Christians of Antioch, when Chryfoftom 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 Constantinople, as he was preaching his farewel fermon, 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 loss; and among the rest, an old man in the congregation fell into a bitter paflion, and cried out, Aude pater, et tecum trinitatem ipsam ejice : (i.e.) Go, Father, if you dare, and take away the whole trinity with you; mcaping, that God would not stay 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 blerfings to that place, but now they must expect no more howers from him. Oh ! they knew not how to give up such a minister! when the ark of Göd (which was the fymbol of the Divine prefence among the Jews) was taken, “All the city cried out," ! Sam. iv. 13. Oh the loss of a gospel-mioiftry is an inestimable lofs, aot 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 flocks to martyrdom, the poor Christians would meet them in the way to the prisops, or Nake, with their little ones in their arms, and throw. ing 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 shall lead us in the way of life? Recom. pence unto them, O Lord, as they have deferved, who are the • causes of this: Lord' give them fad hearts.' Quis talia fando, temperet a luchrymis ? And to let you see there is fufficient ground for this forrow, when God' reftrains the influences of the gospel, folemnly consider the following particulars.
1. That it is a dreadful token of God's great avger against that people from whom he removes the gospel. The anger of God was fearfully incenfed against tħe church of Ephesus, when he did but threated 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 worft of judgments. There is a pedigree of judgments; first, Gomer bears Jezreel; next, Lo-ruhama, and at laft 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 udregenerate 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, when he looked upon the scattered multitude that had no thepherd. Matth. ix. 36. What an easy conquest dosh the devil now make of them? How fast doth hell fill in such times ? Poor souls being driven thither in droves, and done to rescue them! Matthew Paris tells us, that
is 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 leot to him that year. But truly we need not ralk of letters from hell, we are told from heavco, how deplorable the condition of such poor fouls is ; See Prov. xxviii. 19. Haf. iv, 6. Or,
3. The judgment will get appear very heavy, if you conGider the lols which God's own people sustain by the removal of the gospel; for therein they lole (1.0.) Their chief glory, Rom. iii. 2. The principal thing in which the peculiar glory of Israel con Gifted was this, " That unto them were committed “ che oracles of God.” On that account it was called the glorious land, Dan. xi. 16. This made them greater than all the Bativas round about them, Deat. iv. 7, 8. (2.) By losing the ordinances they lose their quickcoings, comforts, and foul-refreshments; for all these are sweet Areams from the gospelfountain, 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.) Io the loss of the gospel they lose their defence 2ad safety. This is their bedge, their wall of protection, lfa. v. 5. Walls and hedges (faith Mufculus in loc.) are the ordi. pances of God, which served both ad separationem et munitionem, to distinguish and to defend them. When God plucks op this hedge, aod breaks down this wall, all mischiefs break in upon us prefeatly, 2 Chron. xv. 3, 4, 5, 6. “ Now for a long « seafon Israel hath been without the true God, and without a “ teaching priest, and without law.And in those times " there was ao peace to him that went out, por to him that came ia, but
all the inhabitants of " the countries, and pation was destroyed of nation, and city “ of city; for God did vex them with all adverfiry." How long 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 poce written Lo-ammi upon Israel, the oext news was this, 1 “ will recover my wool and my fax," Hosea ii. 9. (5.) Aod, Jastly, to come up to the very case in hand, they lole with it their spiritual food and foul-lubaftence, for the gospel is their feast of fat things, Isa. xxv. 6. their (piritual wells, Ifa. xii. 3. a dose distributed among the Lord's poor, Rom. i. 11. In a word, it is as the rain and dews of heaven, as hath been shewed, which being restrained, a spiritual famine neceffarily follows,
a famine, of all, the most terrible. Now to thew you the analogy between this and a temporal famine, that therein you may see what caute you have to be deeply affected with it, take it in these fix following particulars.
1. A famine caused by the failing of bread, or that which is in the stead, and hath the use of bread. Dainties and superfluous rarities may fajl, and yet men may tublilt comfortably : As long as people have bread and water, they will not famith; 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 staff is to an aged and feeble man, that bread is to the faint and feeble spirits, 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 neceffary food.” It 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 scarcity 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 Mall figoify no more, as to the end of bread, than a chip, Hag. i. 6. As by taking away panem nutrientem, bread itself, Isa. ii. 1. Add 10 it is in a spiritual famine, which is occafioned, either by God's remove ing all the ordinances, and making vision utterly to fail; or elfe, though there be preaching, prayer, and other ordinances left (at least the names and (nadows of them) yet the presence of God is oor with them. There is no marrow in the bone, po milk in the breast; and so, as to a foul-fubfistence, 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 pleasantly with yourselves. To the hungry foul every bitter thing is sweet, Prov. xxvii. 7. It is the Dutch proverb, and a very true one, hunger is the best cook*.
In time of famine coarselt fare contents, • The barking stomach ftrains no complements.' It is storied of Artaxerxes Memor, that when he was Aging before his enemies, he fed hungrily upon barley-bread, and faid, Cujusmodi voluptatis hactenus inexpertus fuit! what
Jujunus ftomachus raro vulgaria temnit.