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on my soul; and though my heart hath been an unkindly foil, which hath kept it back, and much hindered its growth, yet, blessed be the Lord, it still grows on, though by flow degrees ; and from the springing of the seed, and shooting forth of those gracious habits, I may conclude an approaching harvest : Now is my salvation nearer than when I believed ; every day I come nearer to my salvation, Rom. xiii. 11.
O that every day I were more active for the God of my salvation! Grow on, my soul, and add to thy faith virtue, to thy virtue knowledge, &c. Grow on from faith to faith ; keep thyfelf under the ripening influences of heavenly ordinances : The faster thou growest in grace, the fooner thou shalt be reaped down in mercy, and bound up in the bundle of life, i Sam. xv. 29. I have not yet attained the measure and proportion of grace aflignet to me, neither am I already perfect, but am reaching forth to the things before me, and presling towards the mark for the prize of my heavenly calling, Phil. iii. 12, 13. O mercy to be admired! that' I who lately had one foot in hell, stand now with one foot in heaven !
2. But the case is far different with me; whilst others are ripening apace for heaven,
The reflection of the I am withering; many a foul plowed up by decaying Christian. conviction, and sown by fanctification long after me, hath quite overtopped and outgrown me; my sweet and early blossoms are nipped and blown off my bright morning overcast and clouded : had I kept on, according to the rate of my first growth, I had either now been in heaven, or at least in the suburbs of it on earth ; but my graces wither and languish, my heart contracts and cools to heavenly things ; the fun and rain of ordinances and providences improve not my graces : how sad therefore is the state of my soul ! 3. Thy cafe, O declining faint, is sad, but
The reflection of not like mine : thine is but a temporary remiffion of the acts of grace, which is recoverable ; but
hardening finner. I am judicially hardening, and “ treasuring up to myself wrath a"gainst the day of wrath,” Rom. ii. 5. Time was when I had some tender sense of fin, when I could mourn and grieve for it ; now I have none at all: my heart is grown stupid and sottilb. Time was when I had some conscientious care of duty, when my heart would Imite me for the neglect of it; but now none at all
. Wretched soul! what wilt thou do? Thou art gone far, indeed, a few steps further will put thee beyond hope: hitherto I stand in the field; the long-suffering God doth yet spare me; yea, spare me, wbile he hath cut down many of my companions in fin round about me. What doth this admirable patience, this long-suffering, drawn out to a wonder, speak concerning me! doth it not tell me, that the Lord is not willing I should perish, but rather come to repentance ? 2 Pet. iii. 9. And what argument is like his pity and patience, to lead a foul to repentance ? Rom. ii. 4. O that I may not frustrate
at last the end of a long-suffering God, lest he proportion the degree of his wrath, according to the length of his patience !
With scythes and sickles to reap down and mow.
CH AP. XVII.
Upon the Care of Husbandmen to provide for Winter.
Your winter store in fummer you provide :
Then they gather in their winter store ; food and fuel for themselves, and fodder for their cattle. “He that gathers in fum“ mer is a wise fon : but he that sleeps in harvest is a son that « causeth shame,” Prov. X. 5. A well chofen season is the greatest advantage to any action ; which, as it is seldom found in halte, so it is often lost by delay. It is a good proverb which the frugal Dutch have among them :-Bonus fervatius faciet bonum bonifacium :-A good saver will make a good benefactor. And it is a good proverb of our own, He that neglects the occasion, the occasion will neglect him, Husbandmen know that summer will not hold all the year ; neither will they trust to the hopes of a mild and favourable winter, but in seafon provide for the worst.
vident and thoughtful for our souls ? It is doubtless a singular point of Christian wisdom to foresee a day of spiritual straits and necessities; and, during the day of grace, to make provision for it. This great gospel-truth is excellently thadowed forth in this natural observation, which I shall branch out into these seven particulars.
1. Husbandmen know there is a change and vicissitude of leasons and weather; though it be pleasant fummer weather now, yet winter will tread upon the heel of summer : frosts, snows, and great falls of rain must be expected. This alternate course of seasons, in nature, is settled by a firm law of the God of nature to the end of the world, Gen. viii. 22. “ Whilst the earth remaineth, feed-time and harvelt, “ cold and heat, winter and summer, day and night, shall not « cease.”
And Christians know, that there are changes in the right-hand of the Most High, in reference to their spiritual seasons. If there be a fpring-time of the gospel, there will be allo an autumn ; if a day of prosperity, it will set in a night of adversity : “ for God hath fet " the one over against the other," Ecclef. vii. 14. In heaven there is a day of everlasting serenity; in hell a night of perfect endless horror and darkness, on earth, light and darkness take their turns, prosperity and adversity, even to souls as well as bodies, succeed each other. If there be a gospel-day, a day of grace now current, it will
have its period and determination, Gen. iii. 6.
2. Common prudence and experience enable the husbandman, in the midit of summer, to foresee a winter, and provide for it before he feel it ; yea, natural instinct teaches this to the very birds of the air, and beasts of the field.
And spiritual wisdom thould teach Chriftians to exercise their foreseeing faculties, and not fuffer them to feel evil before they fear it. But, oh! the Itupifying nature of tin! Though the stork in the heavens knows her appointed time, and the turtle, crane, and swallow the time of their coming, yet man, whom God hath made wiser than the fowls of the air, in this acts quite below them, Jer. viii. 7.
3. The end of God's crdaining a summer fyaton, and finding warm and pleasant weather, is to ripen the fruits of the earth, and give the husbandman fit opportunity to gather them in.
And God's delign of giving men a day of grace, is to furnish them with an opportunity for the everlasting happiness and falvation of their souls ; Rev. ii. 21. “ I gave her space to repent.” It is not a mere reprival of the foul, or only a delay of the execution of threatened wrath, though there be much mercy in that; but the peculiar aim of this patience and bounty of God is to open for them a way to escape the wrath to come, by « leading them to repentance," Rom. ii. 4.
4. The husbandman doth not find all harvest-seasons alike favourable ; sometimes they have much fair weather, and meet with no hindrance in their business; other times it is a catching harvest, but now and then a fair day, and then they must be nimble, or all is loft.
There is also a great difference in foul-feasons; fome have had a long and fair season of grace; a hundred and twenty years did God wait upon the bid world, in the ministry of Noah. Long did God wait on the gainsaying Ifraelites, Ifa. alij. 14. “I have a long time “ held my peace ; I have been itill, and r-frained myfelf.” Others have a short and catching feafon, all lies upon a day, upon a nick of time, Aets xvii. 30.
5. A proper 1eafon neglected and loft is irrecoverable. Many thirgs in husbandry must be done in their fealin, or cannot be done at all for that year: if he plow not, and fow not in the proper season, he loses the harvest of that year.
It is even to as to fpiritual-seasons: Christ neglected, and grace despised, in the feasor: when God offers them, are irrecoverably lott, Prov. i. 28. “ Then (ibat is when the season is over) “ they shall “ call upon me, but I will not hear." Ch! there is a great deal of time in a thort opportunity; that may be done, or prevented, in an bour rightly aimed, which cannot be dore, or prevented, in a man's lite-iine afterwards. There was one resolved to kiil Julius Cæfar such a day: the night before a friend sent hini a letter to acquainit him with it: but he being at fupper, and busy in discourse, faid, 10-morrow is a new day; and indeed it was dies novilima, his latt day to Lin. Whence it became a proverb in Greece, To-morrow is a new day. Our glass runs in heaven, and we cannot fee how much or little of the land of God's patience is yet to run down ; but this is certain, when that glass is run, there is nothing to be done for our souls, Luke xix. 42. “ O that thou hadít known, at least, in this thy day, " the things that belong to thy peace; but now they are hid from
6. Those husbandmen that are careful and laborious in the summer, have the comfort and benefit of it in winter: he that then provides fuel, thall fit warm in his habitation, when others blow their fingers. He that provides food for his family, and fodder for his cattle, in the harvest, Thall eat the fruit of it, and enjoy the comfort of his labours, when others shall be exposed to shifts and straits, And he that provides for eternity, and lays up for his soul a good foundation against the time to come, shall eat when others are hungry, and fing when others bowl, Ifa. Ixv. 13. A day of death will come, and that will be a day of straits to all negligent souls; but then the diligent Chriftian fhall enjoy the peace and comfort that shall flow in upon his heart, from his holy care and fincere diligence in duties ; as 2 Cor. i. 12. “This is our rejoicing, the testimony of our conscience, that in “ fincerity and godly fimplicity, we have had our conversation in this “ world.” So Hezekiah, 2 King; xx. 3. “Remember now, O “ Lord, how I have walked before thee in truth, and with a perfect “ heart.” A day of judgment will come, and then foolish virgins, who neglected the season of getting oil in their lamps, will be put to their shifts; then they come to the wise, and fay, Give us of your oil, Matth. xxv. 8, 9. but they have none to spare, and the season of buying is then over.
7. No wise husbandman will neglect a fit opportunity of gathering in his hay and corn, upon a, prcfumption of much fair weather to come: he will not fay, The weather is settled, and I need not trouble myself; though my corn and hay be fit for the house, yet I may get it in another time as well as now
And no wife Christian will lose a present season for his foul, upon the hopes of much more time, yet to come ; but will rather say, Now is my time, and I know not what will be hereafter : hereafter I may wish to see one of the days of the Son of man, and not see it, Luke xvii. 22. It is sad to hear how cunning some men are to dispute themselves out of heaven, as if the devil had hired them to plead against their own souls ; sometimes urging the example of those that were called at the eleventh hour, Mat. XX. 6. and sometimes that of the penitent thief: but, oh! to how little purpose is the former pleaded ? they that were called at the eleventh hour were never called before, as there have been ; no man had hired, that is, called or invited them to Christ; and for the thief (as Mr Fenner rightly observes) it was a fingular and extraordinary example. It was done when Christ hanged on the cross, and was to be inaugurated; then