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"The dwellers in the vales and on the rocks
Glorious things are spoken of thee! O Zion, thou city of our God.
Further. This specific toil of all who labor for the immortal welfare of others, shall cease for ever when the number of the elect is accomplished: the dusty and tedious process of thrashing is not needed in our garners; and it is in hope of this remoter happiness, that he that plougheth and he that thrasheth-engage in their respective labors; they shall rejoice together.
Let it ever be remembered, that though the word of God is the ordinary thrashing instrument, yet it is not the only one, for there is a variety of implements used for this purpose: "For the fitches are "not thrashed with a thrashing instrument, neither "is a cart-wheel turned about upon the cummin; "but the fitches are beaten out with a staff, and the "cummin with a rod:"* so where the word fails
* Isaiah, xxviii. 27.
of producing the desired effect, he will try the flail of adversity, by this therefore shall the iniquity of Jacob be purged, and this is all the fruit to take away sin.
Enquire what effects have resulted in your case from the preaching of the word. Has it separated your affections from sin and the world? Has it occasioned you to come out from among the foes of Christ, however amiable and polished in their manners, or insinuating in their address, and be separate and not even to touch the unclean thing? Or must these effects be produced by heavy and protracted sufferings? When bound by the fetters of affliction you will remember your faults and be penitent; you will then retreat from worldly associations, at least in your desires and preferences; you will then be separated from your sins, as the grain is separated from the chaff by the flail. There is a deversity of operations, but the same spirit.
"And God sent an angel unto Jerusalem to de
stroy it; and as he was destroying, the Lord be"held, and he repented him of the evil, and said to "the angel that destroyed, It is enough, stay now "thine hand. And the angel of the Lord stood by "the thrashing-floor of Ornan the Jebusite. And "David lifted up his eyes, and saw the angel of the "Lord stand between the earth and the heaven,
"having a drawn sword in his hand stretched out "over Jerusalem: then David and the elders of “Israel, who were clothed in sackcloth, fell upon "their faces. And David said unto God, Is it not "I that commanded the people to be numbered? "even I it is that have sinned, and done evil in"deed; but as for these sheep, what have they "done? Let thine hand, I pray thee, O Lord my “God, be on me, and on my father's house; but not "on thy people, that they should be plagued. Then "the angel of the Lord commanded Gad to say to "David, that David should go up, and set up an "altar unto the Lord in the thrashing-floor of "Ornan the Jebusite."*
It was not without some mystic meaning that the plague which afflicted Israel was to be stayed by an altar reared at the express command of God, by the penitent patriarch, on a thrashing-floor.
This is plain to him that understandeth, and right to them that find knowledge.
* 1 Chronicles, xxi. 15-18.
AMOS, ix. 9.
For, lo, I will command, and I will sift the house of Israel among all nations, like as corn is sifted in a sieve, yet shall not the least grain fall upon the earth.
THE winnowing of corn was effected in various ways, at the times, and in the countries, where the Holy Scriptures were written.
Sometimes by the mere operation of the wind blowing through the barns where it was thrashed; when the worthless chaff was separated and dispersed; which similitude well expresses the character and condition of the ungodly, who are like the chaff which the wind driveth away.*
*Psalms, i. 4.
As the wind is so uncertain both as to the quarter from whence it blows, and the degree of effect it may produce, the shovel was early used by agriculturists, which wooden instrument taking up the grain from the floor, and being moved to the wind, as is now usual when a sample is wanted, the husks were readily separated from the weightier seed,*
The sieve and fan however, were very soon invented and brought into use, and were found most effectually to answer the purpose, therefore our blessed Lord who introduced the better dispensation of mercy, and whose death and intercession' secure to the church rich and spiritual influences, which promote its general purity, is said to have his fan in his hand, with which he will thoroughly purge his floor.†
In the present day, amongst us, machines save much manual toil, and speedily, and more effectually answer the end proposed. But let none vaunt themselves on possessing superior wisdom to the ancients. The sin of weak minds is not to think former days better than these; their language is, "We are the people and wisdom shall die with us.'
*The oxen likewise, and the young asses that ear the ground, shall eat clean provender which hath been winnowed with the shovel and with the fan.-Isaiah, xxx. 24.
+ Matthew, iii. 12.