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wherein I live with showers of grace, that we may not be as the heath in the desart, which seeth not when good cometh, nor inhabit the parched places of the wilderness. For those that
2. O Lord, thou hast caused the heavens above
me to be black with clouds, thou openest the celesenjoy a gospel
" tial casements from above, and daily fendest down minigy showers of gospel-blessings : 0 that I might be as the parched earth under them ! Not for barrenness, but for thirstipess. Let me say, “ My loul longeth, yea, even fainteth for the & courts of the Lord :" that I might there see the beauty of the Lord. Doth the spungy earth so greedily suck up the showers, and open as many mouths as there are clefts in it, to receive what the clouds dispense ? And shall those precious foul-enriching fhowers fleet away unprofitably from me? If so, then,
5. What an account have I to make for all those For unprofitable
gospel-blessings that I have enjoyed; for all those bearers.
gospel-dews and showers wherewith I have been watered! Should I be found fruitless at last, it will fare better with the barren and uncultivated wilderness than with me; more tolerable for Indians and Barbarians that never heard the gospel, than for me that have been so afliduously and plentifully watered by it. Lord ! what a difference wilt thou put in the great day, betwixt fimple and pertinacious barreness ? Surely, if my root be not rottenness, such heavenly waterings and influences as these will make it sprout forth into fruits of obedience.
Upon those treasures which the heavens do spend
Which God ordains in nature, to draw forth
Upon a Dearth through want of Rain.
OBSERVATION. Tis defervedly accounted a sad judgment, when God shuts up I the heavens over our heads, and makes the earth as brass under our feet, Deut. xxviii. 23. Then the husbandmen are called to mourning, Joel i. 11. All the fields do languilh, and the bellowing cattle are pined with thirst. Such a sad state the prophet rhetorically describes, Jer. xiv. 3, 4, 5, 6. « The nobles have sent 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 con" founded, and covered their heads, because the ground is chapt; « for there was no rain in the earth; the plowmen were ashamed, " they covered their heads; yea, the hind also calved in the field, " and forsook it, because there was no grass; and the wild asses did “ fand in the high places : They snuffed up the wind like dragons ; " their eyes failed because there was no grass."
And that which makes the want of rain so terrible a judgment, is the famine of bread, which necessarily follows these extraordinary droughts, and is one of the forest temporal judgments which God indicts upon the world.
APPLICATION. A ND, truly as much caufe have they to weep and tremble orer
A whose fouls God shuts up the spiritual clouds of the gospel, and thereby sends a spiritual famine upon their souls. Such a judga ment the Lord threatens in Amos viii. 11. “ Behold the day is come, “ faith the Lord, that I will fend a femine in the land, not a famine re of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the word of the ki Lord.” The meaning is, I will send a more fearful judgment than that of the famine of bread; for this particle [not] is not 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, Ila. 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 briers and thorns; 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 Thut up the spiritual clouds, removing or filencing his ministers, sensible Chriftians have ever been deeply affected with it, and reckoned it a most tremendous judgment. Thus the Christians of Antioch, when Chrysostom their minister 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 affected with his lofs; and among the rest, an old man in the congregation fell into a bitter pafsion, and cried out, Aude pater, et tecum trinitatem ipfam ejice ; i. e. Go, Father, if you dare, and take away the whole trinity with you; meaning, 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 ? Acts xx. 37, 38. He had been a cloud of blessings 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 presence among the Jews) was taken, “ All the city cried out," i Sam, iv. 13. Oh the loss of a gospel-ministry is an inestimable lofs, not to be repaired but by its own return, or by heaven! Mr Greenham tells us, that in the tinies of popith persecution, when godly minifters were haled away from their flocks to martyrdom, the poor Christians would meet them in the way to the prisons, or stake, with their little ones in their arms, and throwing themselves at their feet, would thus bespeak them, · What shall be our estate, now you are gone to martyrdom? Who • shall instruct thele poor babes? Who shall ease our afflicted con• sciences ? Who shall lead us in the way of life ? Recompense unto s them, O Lord, as they have deserved, who are the causes of this : < Lord give them fad hearts. Quis talia fando, temperet a lachrymis ?
• It is better for us to want the light of the sun, than the teaching of Chrysostom.
And to let you see there is sufficient ground for this forrow, when God restrains the influences of the gospel, solemnly 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 Ephesus, 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 soul, 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, Į 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 unregenerate fouls are left, after the gospel is removed from them. What will become of these? Or by whom shall they be gathered ? It made the bowels of Christ gern within him, when he looked upon the scattered multitude that had no thepherd, Matth. ix. 36. What an easy conquest doth the devil now make of them! How fast doth hell fill in such times ! Poor souls being driven thither in droves, and none to rescue them? Matthew Paris tells us, that in the year 1073, when preaching was fupprefled at Rome, letters were then framed as coming from hell, wherein the devil gave them thanks for the multitude of souls they had fent to him that year. But truly we need not talk of letters from hell, we are told from heaven, how deplorable the condition of such poor souls is ; See Prov. xxviii. 19. Hof. iv. 6. Or,
3. The judgment will get appear very heavy, if you consider the loss which God's own people sustain by the removal of the gospel; for therein they lose, (1.) Their chief glory, Rom. iii. 2. The principal thing in which the peculiar glory of Israel consisted was this, « Tbat unto them were committed the oracles of God.” On that account it was called the glorious land, Dan. xi. 16. This made them greater than all the nations round about them, Deut. iv. 7, 8. (2.) By losing the ordinances they lose their quickenings, comforts, and soul-refreshments; for all these are sweet streams from the gospel-fountain, Psalm cxix. 50. 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 safety. This is their hedge, their wall of protection, Isa. v. 5. Walls and hedges (saith Musculus in loc.) are the ordinances of God, which served both ad separationem et munitionem, to distinguish and to defend them. When God plucks up this hedge, and breaks down this wall, all mischiefs break in upon us presently, 2 Chron. xv. 3, 4, 5, 6, “ Now for a long season Ifrael hath been without the true God " and without a teaching prieft, and without law. And in " those times there was no peace to him that went out, nor to bim
or that came in, but great vexations were upon all the inhabitants of " the countries, and nation was destroyed of nation, and city of 6 city; for God did vex them with all adversity." How long did Jerufalem remaia after that voice was heard in the temple, Aligremus hinc ?? Let us be gone. (4.) With the gospel, we lose our temporal enjoyments and creature-comforts. Thefe usually come and go with the gospel. When God had once written Lo-an mi upon Ifrael, the next news was this, “ I will recover my wcol and my flax,” Hofea ii. 9. (5.) And, lastly, to come up to the very case in hand, they lose with it their spiritual food and foul-fubfiftence, for the gospel is their feast of fat tinings, Ila. xxv. 6. their fpiritual wells, Ifa. xii. 3. a dole diftributed among the Lord's poor, Rom. i. 11. In a word, it is as the rain and dews of heaven, as hath been thewed, which being restrained, a spiritual famine neceflarily follows, a famine, of all the most terrible. Now to thew you ihe analogy between this and a temporal tanine, that therein you may see what cause you have to be deeply afiected with it, take it in these fix folowing 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 fuperfluous rarities may fail, and yet men may subsist comfortably. As long as people have breaŭ and water, they will not familh ; but take away bread once, and the spirit of man faileth. Upon this account bread is call. ed a staff, Pfal. cv, 16. because what a fiaff is to an aged and feeble man, that bread is to che faint and fecbie spirits, which even so lean upon it. And look, what bread is to the natural spirits, that, and more than that, the word is to gracious fpirits, Job xxiii. 12. “I have " esteemed the words of thy mouth more than my necefiary food." If once God break this itaif, 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 no bread is to be had, or that which is, yields no nutriment. (For a famine may as well be occasioned by God's taking away panis vitrimentum, the nourishing virtue of bread, that it hall fignify no more, as to the end of bread, than a chip, Hug. i. 6. as by taking away painein nutrieritem, bread itielf, Isa. iii. 1.) And so it is in a fpiritual famine, which is occafioned, either by God's removing all ile ordinances, and making vifion utterly to tail; or else, though there be preaching, prayer, and other ordinances left, ( at least the names and thadows of them) yet the presence of God is not with them. There is no marrow in the bone, no milk in the breast; and so, as to foul-fublistence, it is all one, as if ihere were no such things.
3. In a corporeal famine, mean and coarse things become fweet and pleasant. Famine raises the price and esteem of them. That which before you would have thrown to your dogs, now goes down pleasantly with yourselves. To the hungry foul every bitter thing is