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2. This heavenly Husbandman waits for the fruits of his fields also; never did any husbandman long for the desired harvest, more than God doth for the fruits of holiness from his faints : Great are the expectations of God from his people : “ And when the time of the fruit « drew near, he sent his fervants to the husbandmen, that they might « receive the fruits of it.”
8. Prop. Husbandmen are much delighted, to see the success of their labours; it comforts them over all their hard pains, and many weary days to see a good increase.
Reddit. Much more is God delighted in beholding the flourishing graces of his people ; it pleases him to see his plants laden with fruit; and his valleys sing with corn, Cant. vi. 2. “ My beloved is gone « down to the garden, into his beds of spices, to feed in the gardens, « and to gather lilies.” These beds of spices (say * expoators) are the particular churches, the companies of believers; he goes to feed in these gardens, like as men go to their gardens to make merry, or to gather fruit, Cant. iv. 16. « He eats his pleasant fruit,” viz. His people's holy performances, sweeter to him than any ambrofia; thus he feeds in the gardens, and he gathers lilies when he translates good souls into his kingdom above ; « For the Lord taketh pleafure « in his faints, and will beautify the meek with falvation.”
9. Prop. The husbandman is exceedingly grieved when he sees the hopes of a good crop disappointed, and his fields prove barren, or blasted.
Reddit. So the Lord expresses his grief for, and anger against his people, when they bring forth no fruits, or wild fruits, worse than none, Hofea ix. 16. “Ephraim is smitten, their root is dried up." Christ was exceedingly displeased with the fig-tree, and curled it for its barrenness; it grieves him to the heart when his servants return to him with such complaints as these, “ We have laboured in “ vain, we have spent our strength for nought."
10. Prop. Husbandmen employ many labourers to work in their fields, there is need of many hands for such a multiplicity of bufinals.
Reddit. God hath diversity of workmen also in the churches whom he sends forth to labour in his spiritual fields, Eph. iv. 12. “ He gave « fome apostles, some prophets, and some evangelists, and some « pastors and teachers, for the perfecting of the saints, for the work « of the miniftry,” Amos iii. 7. I have sent (my fervants] the prophets. It is usual with the apostles to place this title of a servant among their honourary titles, though a profane mouth once called it, probrosum artificium, a sordid artifice. Chrift hath stampt a great deal of dignity upon his ministers, in retaining them for the nearest service to himfelf, Cor. iv. I. “ Let a man fo account of us, as the ministers of " Chrift;" they are workers together with God: The husbandman works in the field among his labourers, and the great God disdaineth not to work in, and with his poor servants, in the work of the ministry.
* Chrift is fed when he sees the graces of his people ; he gathers lilies when he translates any good soul out of this life. Trap. on be place.
11. Prop. The work about which husbandmen employ their servants in the field, is toilfome and spending, you see they come home at night as weary as they can draw their legs after them.
Reddit. But God's workmen have a much harder task than they; hence are they set forth in scripture by the laborious ox, 1 Cor. ix. 9. Rev. iv. 7. Some derive the word deoxoros, deacon from xonis; which fignifies duít, to shew the laboriousness of their employment, labouring till even choaked with dust and sweat. It is said of Epaphrofitus, Phil. ii. 13. “ That for the work of Christ he was fick, and
nigh unto death ; not regarding his life, to supply their lack of
service." The apostle's expreßion, Col. i. ult, is very emphatical, “ Whereunto I also labour, striving, according to his working, “ which worketh in me mightily.” The word ayonu 3 wu.avos, fignifies such spending labour as puts a man into an agony; and blessed is that fervant, whom his Lord, when he cometh, shall find so doing.
12. Prop. The immediate end of the husbandman's labour, and his servants labour is for the improvement of his land, to make it more flourishing and fruitful.
Reddit. The scope and end of the ministry is for the church's benefit and advantage. They must not lord it over God's heritage, as
if the church were for them, and not they for the church; nor serve · themselves of it, but be the church's servants for Jesus fake, 2 Cor.
iv. 6. The power they have received being for edification, and not for destruction, 2 Cor. x. 8. Christ hath given them to the churches; their gifts, their time, their strength, and all their ministerial talents, are not their own, but the church's stock and treasure.
13. Prop. The workmen that labour in the fields are accountable for their work to him that employed them.
Reddit. Church-officers are also accountable to God for all the souls committed to them. They are stewards of the mysteries of God, I Cor. iv. 1. and stewards are accountable. “ We watch for your souls, (faith the apostle) as they that must " give an account,” Heb. xiii. 7. If these servants be unfaithful in their work and trust, the blood of fouls shall be required at their hands, Ezek. ii. 17, 18. which are fulmina, non verba, (faith Erasmus) thunderbolts, rather than words. The guilt of blood is the greatest guilt; and of all blood, the blood of souls.
14. Prop. Those that spend their time and strength all their days, in manuring and plowing in the fields, do maintain themselves and their families by their labours; their hands are sufficient for themselves and theirs.
Reddit. « Even so hath God ordained, that they which preach the " gospel, should live by the gospel,” i Cor. ix. 14. « The work.
nelie and advance for them. House
" man is worthy of his meat,” Mat X. 10. It is a sad thing, if those who break the bread of life to souls, should be suffered to want bread themselves. God would not have the mouth of an ox muzzled that treads out the corn, but have liberty to eat as well as work. Yet if any pretender to the ministry be like the heifer, that loves to tread out the corn, i.e. cares to do no work, but such as brings in present pay; he therein fufficiently discovers his beast-like disposition. Ministers must be faithful in their Master's work, and if men do not, God will reward them. For “ he is not unrighteous to forget their “ work, and labour of love,” Heb. vi. 10.
15. Prop. It is a great trouble to husbandmen in a busy time, to be put off from their labours by stormy weather, which drives them out of the fields, and makes them let all lie, till it clear up again ; yet, mean while, they are not idle, but employ themselves in homework.
Reddit. Even so in God's husbandry, it is an unspeakable affliction to God's workmen to be rendered useless and unferviceable to the churches, by those storms of trouble, which drive them from their public ministerial work. With what a heavy heart did Paul go off from his work at Ephesus, Acts xx. It spends a minifter to preach, but more to be filent. It is a loud speaking judgment, when God shall say to them as to Ezekiel, “ Son of man, I will n:ake thy " tongue cleave to the roof of thy mouth, and thou shalt be dumb,” Ezek. iii. 26. Such filencing providences, speak thundering language to gracious hearts; yet, even then, the keepers of the vineyard have a private vineyard of their own to look after, they have much home-work, when no out-work.
16. Prop. There is a vast difference betwixt those fields which have been well husbanded, and dressed by a fkilful and diligent hufbandman; and those that have been long out of husbandry. How fragrant is the one? How dry and barren the other? When you pals by a field well drefied and fenced, every thing prosperous, and in cxquilite order, you may know, without farther enquiry, that a good husbandman lives there.
Reddit. Thus stands the case betwixt those places which God hath bleffed with a faithful, painful ministry, and such as have none, or worse than none : for as the husbandman's cost and pains appear in the verdant and fragrant hue of his fields; fo a ministers pains and diligence are (ordinarily fecn in the heavenly lives, and flourishing graces of the people. The churches of Corinth and Theffalonica, where Paul and other holy instruments ípent much of their time and rains, became famous and flourishing churches, 2 Cor. ix. 2. A fpecial blefiing comes along with a godly minister, to the place where special providence assigns him. Such places, like Gideon's fleece, have the dew of heaven lying on them, whilst others round about are dry and barren.
17. Prop. The husbandman is not discouraged, though the feed
lie long under the clods; he knows it will spring up at the last, and reward him, or those that come after him, for their pains and patience in waiting for it.
Reddit. Ministers should not be presently discouraged in their work, because they see but little or no appearance of all the feed they bave sown among the people. The “servant of the Lord must be « patient towards all, waiting if at any time God will give them re" pentance," 2 Tim. ii. 24, 25. And if it never spring up in his time, it may after his death ; and if so, he shall not fail of his re- ^ ward, John iv. 36, 37. “ And he that reapeth, receiveth wages, " and gathereth fruit unto life eternal, that both he that soweth, and « be that reapeth, may rejoice together; and herein is that saying e true, one soweth, and another reapeth.” Though ministers die, yet their words live; yea, their words take hold of men when they are in the dust, Zech. i. 6.
18. Prop. Husbandmen find low grounds and vallies, most fertile; hills, how lofty foever they overtop the lower grounds, yet answer not the husbandman's pains as the vallies do : these are best watered and secured from the scorching heat of the sun.
Reddit. Experience thews us, that the humbleft saints are most fruitful under the gospel; “ These are they that receive with meek" ness the engraffed word," James i. 21. whose influences abide in them, as the rain doth in the low vallies. Happy' is that minister, whose lot falls in such a pleasant valley. « Blessed are they that fow “ beside all such waters, that send forth thither the feet of the ox " and the ass,” Ifa. xxxii. 20. among these vallies run the pleasant springs and purling brooks, which fertilize the neighbouring ground. Heavenly ordinances there, leave frui ful influences.
19. Prop. The first crop is usually the best, and the longer the husandman tills his ground, the less it produces ; after a few years its vigour and strength is spent.
Reddit. The first entertainment of the gospel is commonly the bert; and what good is done by the ministry is often done at its first entrance. New things are pretty, and very taking. « John at first " was to the Jews a burning and thining light, and they were willing “ [for a season] to rejoice in his light,” John v. 35. Paul was highly valued among the Galatians at first; such was their zeal, that they could have plucked out their eyes, and have given them to him; but how quickly did this full tide ebb again ? For he complains, Gal. iv. 15. « Where then is the blessedness ye spake of ?”
20. Prop. Lastly, When fields prove barren, and will not quit the husbandman's coft, nor answer the feed he rows in them, he plucks up the hedges, and lavs it waste.
Reddit. So when churches grow formal and fruitless, the Lord removes his gospel-presence from them, plucks up the hedge of his protection from about them, and lays them open as waste ground, to be over-run by their enemies. Jer. vii, 12. “ Go to Shiloh, and see
« what I did unto it.” What is become of those once famous and flourishing churches of Asia ? Are they not laid waste, and trodden down by infidels? And now go to, faith the great Husbandman, « I will tell you what I will do to my vineyard ; I will pull up the " hedge thereof, and it shall be laid waste," Isa. v. 5.
Thus you fee the allegory opened in its particulars: from the whole, I shall present you with these five ensuing corollaries.
The firft Corollary.' How great then are the dignities and privileges of the churches of Je fus Christ whom he hath appropriated to himself, above all the people of the tarth, to be his peculiar inheritance? The rest of the world is a waste wilderness; all other places, how pleasant foever, in respect of their natural amenity and delights, are truly enough called the dark places of the earth; difinal, folitary cells, where Ziim and lim, Bitterns, Cormorants, and every doleful creature dwells. But the church is the paradise of the earth, a garden inclosed, Cant. iv. 12. in whose hedges the gospel birds chirp and sing melodiously, Cant. ii. 12. Its beds are beds of spices, Cant. vi. 2. and betwixt its pleasant banks, a crystal river of living water runs, Rev. xxii. 1. the streams whereof make glad the city of God, in the midst whereof the Lord himself delights to walk. O Zion, with what pleasures doth thou abound? If Bernard was so ravished with the delights of his monaftry, because of its green banks, and shady bowers, and herbs, and trees, and various objects to feed his eyes, and fragrant smells, and sweet and various tunes of birds, together with the opportunities of devout contemplation, that he cried out admiringly, Lord! what delight doft thou provide, even for the poor? How much more should we be ravished with Zion's glory? For, beautiful for situation is mount Zion of whom it may inuch more truly be said, what a *chronicler of our own once said of England, That it is the fortunate island, the paradise of pleasure, the garden of God, whose vallies are like Eden, whose hills are as Lebanon, whole springs are as Pisgah, whose rivers are as Jordan, whose will is the ocean, and whose defence is the Lord Jehovah. Happy art thou, O Ifrael; who is like unto thee? Who can count the privileges wherewith Christ hath invested his churches? O let it never seem a light thing in our eyes, that we grow within his blefied inclosure. How sweet a promile is that, Exod. xix. 5. “ Ye « shall be to me a peculiar treasure, above all people ; for all the « earth is mine.”
The fecond Corollary. Hence it follows, That fpiritual barrennefs is a great reproach and lbame to Christians. Shall God's husbandry, which is planted, wan tered, fenced, filled with favours and mercies, be like the barren heath in the delart ? Surely it ihould be said of every foul that grows here, as the historian faith of Spain, that there is nihil infructuojums
* Speed's Chronicle.