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I gave her corn, and wine, and oil, and multiplied her filver and gold, which they prepared for Baal. Therefore will I return, and take away my corn in the time thereof, and my wine in the feason thereof, and will recover my wool and my flax given to cover her nakednefs." Alas! though we are always in God's common, for every thing we have, we are not thankful, we do not remember our holding, but facrifice to our own net. And God's favours with refpect to the creatures, though they make people more wealthy, they make them not more holy.
Laftly, I obferve, That the creatures groan by the fame right a prince levies a fine on a man, when he might take his life. It is a mercy God deals not with ourfelves, as with the creatures for our fake: Lam. iii. 22. " It is of the Lord's mercies that we are not confumed, because his compaffions fail not." True, men feel the ftroke; and good reason, for God makes the creatures groan for that very end, that we may feel it. But we feel only at the fecond hand, though it is we only that are guilty. The bands lying The bands lying on the earth might have lain on us, and we pinched as fore for our food as the beafts of the field for theirs ; that as our flocks are forced to go to another part of the country, leaving our own hills defolate, fo our houfes might have been defolate, families feattered, and fent through the country begging bread. They have had more than any of us, who yet have been brought to such trying circumftances. It only remains,
IV. THAT we make fome improvement of this doctrine.
1. In an use of information. Let us notice this fcripture fulfilled in our days, in this day, and VOL. II.
that in a remarkable manner. There is a mourn ful concert which the creatures have been making in our ears now for many weeks together, for which we are this day called to fast and humble ourselves.-Hear the groans of the creatures :
(1.) The earth is groaning under us, Deut. xxviii. 23. "And thy heaven that is over thy head shall be brass, and the earth that is under thee shall be iron.” God has laid a weight on it, and bound it so strait, that it can get no breathing, there is no perfpiration; it can get up nothing. It is run together as lead does after it is melted; Job, xxxviii. 38. "When the duft groweth into hardness, and the clods cleave fast together." Hebrew, "God has pitched it up, or pitched it all over with froft, as one would do a veffel to keep in the liquor, when they have in view to prevent others drawing from it."
(2.) The waters groan, for there is a weight on them Job, xxxviii. 30. "The waters are hid as with a stone, and the face of the deep is frozen.” Men's fins have taken hold of them, and turned them into dry land: Pfal. cvii. 33. "He turneth rivers into a wilderness, and the water-fprings into dry ground." Verse 34. "A fruitful field into barrennefs, for the wickedness of them that dwell therein." We have bridges of God's making, but these are no more figns of God's favour, than the turning of fea into dry land was to Pharaoh, for it proved his deftruction.
(3.) The wild beafts of the field groan for lack of food. They that take the range of the mountains for pasture, are forced into the valleys, and this ftrait brings them near the dwellings of men, which otherwise they would fhun, Hof. iv. 3.
(4.) The fowls of the air groan, and are hard put to it, to make shift for their lives, and they mourn
after their kind, for the hand of God is heavy upon them: Hof. iv. 3. "Therefore fhall the land mourn, and every one that dwelleth therein shall languifh; with the beafts of the field, and with the fowls of heaven; yea, the fishes of the fea fhall be taken away.”
(5.) The flocks groan, for God has locked up their pafture: Joel, i. 18. "How do the beaft's groan? the herds of cattle are perplexed, because they have no pasture; yea, the flocks of theep are made defolate." They are fruitful creatures, but God threatens to pluck up the tree with its fruit;-harmless, yet they fadly fuffer for the fins of men, their owners ;-useful creatures, and because of their fingular usefulness, a fingular weight of the ftroke lies on them. They cannot help themselves, and men cannot help them; fo they groan and cry unto the Lord: Joel, i. 20. "The beafts of the field cry also unto thee: for the rivers of water are dried up, and the fire hath devoured the pastures of the wilderness."
(6.) The heavens groan, Deut. xxviii. 23. (quoted already), for God has laid them under arreft. They have been long crying that their influences are bound up, but God has not yet heard them: Hof. ii. 21. "And it fhall come to pass in that day, I will hear the heavens, and they fhall hear the earth." The machine of the world, in fome fort, has long ftood; becaufe God has holden ftill the heavens, the main spring; but the heavens cannot help the earth, nor the earth the grafs, nor the grafs the beafts of the field, till God lee meet.
2. We may learn, that when the whole creation groans for man's fake, it is no wonder God make man himself to groan heavily. It has been a groaning time through Scotland now for a long D 2
time, and thefe groans are not over yet. God grant they be not but beginning!
(1.) The nation is groaning under the weight of two armies, which, whether friends or foes, muft needs be heavy to a poor land, that has enough ado to maintain itfelf. Besides, that as the world is now distempered by the corruptions of men, it is morally impoffible but that violence, rapines, and other diforders, will fall out in fuch a cafe, which fome heavily feel, however eafy others may live, and that whether the armies be for or against us. It is groaning under a moft caufeless rebellion, raifed by men of a perverse, malignant, Antichriftian spirit, who, to get a limb of Antichrift on the throne, and to ruin religion, have made all this difagreeable work. Hence the nation groans under a drawn fword, deeply bathed in blood, and thirfting for more. The blood of has been fhed in the field like water, many many precious fouls fent to eternity in a moment, in the hurry of war, and the carcafes of men laid like dung in the open field; parents left childless, children fatherless, and their mothers widows, while the lives of many others are made to them more bitter than death. Into what a wretched cafe have many of the nobility and gentry of Scotland brought themfelves which, though it be the juft judgement of God upon them, for which we are to praise him, yet it makes the nation groan, as the cutting off a gangrened member is painful to the whole body. Thus David lamented over Saul, 2 Sam. i. 17. The northern parts of the nation have been long groaning, who have had many months of that oppreffion, of which the fouthern parts have had but a few days, and yet made fo great an outcry. Some groaning there, because their houfes are made unpleasant to them; fome, because they and
their families are scattered; fome groaning because they are haraffed; others, because they are folitary, &c.
(2.) The church is groaning for the weight of the Lord's anger gone out against her. Our mother is in mourning, and the gates of Zion lament. She groans under the weight of these mischievous decrees laid on in the latter end of the last reign, not yet removed, by which she is greatly oppreffed, -under our own unchristian divifions, by which she is rent into many pieces ;-under the just with-. drawing of her Lord, by which she is become heartlefs. Many congregations of the land are groaning under the want of gofpel-ordinances, the weight of filent Sabbaths. Her ferious ministers and members are groaning, while they behold, on every hand, matter of lamentation and woe. Nay, the is groaning this day, to fee the great red dragon ftanding before her to swallow her up. A limb of Antichrift fet up for a king, to be a captain, to lead back the nation to Egypt, and to give the kingdom, if he had it at his will, to the Romish beaft that fupports the whore. Her members are in no good cafe to give a draught of their blood to the fcarlet-coloured whore, and therefore in hazard to drink the cup of the wine of her fornication, if she had once access to put it to them.
Thus the church and nation are groaning together. No fort of perfons, from the throne to the dung-hill, are exempted. Our only rightful and lawful Sovereign, our Proteftant King, whom God, by an admirable step of favourable providence, brought seasonably to the throne, groans for the unnatural rebellion raised against him. The nobles and gentry, who used to escape other strokes, fmart under the confufions in the land by that means. Minifters have a load of many weights to groan