falvation." Men's fins may bring that on the creatures, which they will not foon get removed. Learn here to beware of kindling the fire by provoking God! It is easier to keep the fword of vengeance in the fheath, than to get it fheathed again when once drawn. It is dangerous to depend on the praying for mercy on a death-bed, delaying all till then, for then wrath may be gone out, not to be quenched.

(3.) It is dangerous to be concerned with thofe with whom God hath a controverfy; thus, all that belonged to Achan perifhed with him: Jofh vii. 24. 25. "And Jofhua, and all Ifrael with him, took Achan, the fon of Zerah, and the filver, and the garment, and the wedge of gold, and his fons, and his daughters, and his oxen, and his affes, and his fheep, and his tent, and all that he had; and they brought them unto the valley of Achor. And Joshua faid, Why haft thou troubled us? the Lord fhall trouble thee this day. And all Israel stoned him with ftones, and burned them with fire, after they had ftoned them with ftones." Had these oxen and affes been another's than Achan's, they had not perished in the manner they did. Thus the poor creatures lament their relation to finful men; and many fmart fore upon the occafion of the controverfy God has with them with whom they are nearly connected. A companion of fools fhall be destroyed. Even thofe God has a kindness for may fmart full forely for the fake of others; fee 1 Kings, xiv. 10.-13--Another leffon is,

(4.) That fin is a heavy burden, which none are able to bear up under. O firs! what think ye of fin, that makes the very earth to groan under it this day? Ifa. xxiv. 20. "The earth fhall reel to and fro like a drunkard, and fhall be removed like a cottage, and the tranfgrefion thereof shall


be heavy upon it, and it fhall fall, and not rife again." Ye walk for the prefent full lightly under it, but the weight of it, ere long, will be felt by the moft ftupid finner; a dreadful weight! that makes the whole creation groan. Are not the bands of guilt strong and ftrait, that thus gird up the heaven and earth, and bind down the creatures, that they cannot get up their head? It is an offence to an infinite God, no wonder it doth lay an infinite weight on the offender.-We are inftructed,

(5.) That God is a jealous and juft God, who will not fuffer fin to go unpunished. Deceive not yourselves with mifapprehenfions of God, like the wicked, who, as in Pfal. 1. 21. think him altogether fuch an one as themfelves; for as fweet as fin may be in the mouth, it will be bitter in the belly: Job. xx. 12.-14. "Though wickedness be sweet in his mouth, though he hide it under his tongue; though he fpare it, and forfake it not, but keep it still within his mouth :---Yet his meat in his bowels is turned,' it is the gall of afps within him." Therefore, Exod. xxiii. 21. "Beware of him, and obey his voice, provoke him not; for he will not pardon your tranfgreffions." He is true to his word, and it cannot fail. He will reverfe the order of nature, turn the heavens to brafs, and the earth to iron, rather than one word of his fall to the ground. -We may also learn,

(6.) That the creatures are ever weak pillars to lean to. You have need of fomething else to bear your weight, the weight of your comfort, much more of your happiness, for they are not able. There is a vanity that they are under, by reason of which they cannot reach that end: Ecclef. i. 2. "All is vanity." They that have not fomething elfe to lean to, may foon have nothing to


look to at all. O what a pitiful idol is the clay god of the world!-We may farther learn,

(7.) That God is a fovereign King, against whom there is no rifing up. How can finners think to escape with their fins, when the whole creation fmart for their fakes? Can we think that the innocent creatures fhould fuffer, and we go free? Can there be an out-braving him, who makes the earth and heavens groan under his hand? or a fleeing from him, from whom the whole creation cannot make their escape?—We are instructed farther,

(8.) That the fervice of the creatures to finful man, is an impofition on them: Rom. viii. 20. "For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly." Man falling from God, loft the right he had to them. But yet they are kept in his service, which they grudge, and therefore they groan.Hence it comes to pass, that these fervants fometimes becoming mafters, hurt him, and dispatch him. The least creature, having a commission for fuch a fervice, proves too hard for him, fuch as a ftone in fruit, or a hair in milk.-I only add,

(9.) That the creatures are wearied of the world lying in wickedness, and would fain have it brought to an end: Rom. viii. 19. "For the earneft expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the fons of God." There is a happy day for the restitution of all things; they are longing for that day, when this world, that fink of fin, that stage of vanity, and scene of mifery, shall be taken down; and the wicked shall have poured out upon them, the deserved curfe, with all its effects, centering in themselves, without burdening others with it in any measure.-I come now,

2. To an use of exhortation. The groans of the creatures are exciting, ftirring up groans. So VOL. II.


many of them as are about us this day, so many preachers have we to provoke us to the duty we profefs to be engaged in. They cry to us,

(1.) Humble yourselves under the hand of God. He has laid them low, and fhall not we lie low before him, fince for our fake they are cast down. The noify waters are now filent as a stone under his hand, the lofty mountains have laid afide their ornaments, and every thing mourns after its kind. Come down, then, from your pride and obftinacy; yield yourselves to the God that made you, lie low in the dust, and join iffue with the rest of the creation. They cry,

(2.) Repent, repent; for he is a God that will not be mocked, and though he long forbear, he will be avenged on impenitent finners at last. He has been long pleading with us to let our fins go, and he is faying now, as to Pharaoh, Exod. ix. 2. 3. "For if you refuse to let them go, and wilt

hold them ftill; behold, the hand of the Lord is upon thy cattle which is in the field, upon the horses, upon the affes, upon the camels, upon the oxen, and upon the fheep; there fhall be a very grievous murrain." Harden not your hearts to keep fast the bane of ftrife betwixt God and you, left it fare with you as it did with Pharaoh, on whose person God's hand fell heavy at last.—They cry,

(3.) Pray, pray. When the heathen mariners were at their prayers in a storm at sea, it was a fhame for Jonah to be fleeping, Jon. i. 4. The creatures, as they can, are crying to the Lord; shall we be more brutish than they, and be filent at fuch a time? We have been praying in the congregation; it would be a promifing thing, and no more but duty, if families and particular persons were fafting and praying: Zech. xii. 12. "And the

the land shall mourn, every family apart." There is much work in families otherwife, to take care of them. O! then, will you not do that which is fo needful for yourselves and them? I exhort you,

(4.) To reform, for the fake of these you would not involve in ruin with yourselves. For, Ecclef. ix. 18. "Wisdom is better than weapons of war; but one finner destroyeth much good." We fee how the poor creatures are ruined in this way. But it is not them only: Achan troubled the camp of Ifrael. God has threatened to purfue his quarrel to the third and fourth generations. If one in the family be seized with the plague, it is enough to carry away the whole.-Be exhorted,

(5.) To endeavour to reform others, for your own fakes. The fire in your neighbour's houfe may come to burn down yours, if you do not help to quench it. It is thought that Achan's fons perished with him, because they concealed and laboured not to put away their father's fin.

(6.) Seek to find your comfort and happiness only in the enjoyment of God and Chrift. Then in the time of famine you may rejoice in the God of falvation, like the prophet Habakkuk, chap. iii. 17. It is a fad matter we should again be fo ready to trust the deceiving world, and to lean again to that broken reed that hath so often failed us, and pierced through our hand. Seek it in God, where it can never fail, in the everlasting covenant, that will be a portion of which ye may always be fure.

(7) Fear God, and ftand in awe of him. As the fight of the drawn fword makes him in some measure afraid that wields it, so the fight of God's judgements fhould fill us with the dread of his majefty: Pfal. cxix. 120. "My flesh trembleth for fear of thee; and I am afraid of thy judgement." When the sea was raging, and Jonah awaked, he

E 2


« ForrigeFortsett »