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of the fruits thereof, having brought from the brook Eschol a cluster of grapes, also of the pomegranates, and of the figs, Num. xiii. 23. In like manner, those who go to the ordinances of the gospel, in order to get a faith's view of the heavenly Canaan, will not return without tasting some of its fruits : for by the brook of divine ordinances grow continually a large cluster of gospel promises ; grapes, pomegranates, and figs of consolation, for the refreshing, comforting, and strengthening, of all true believers ; of which precious fruits they may freely take, and eat, without
money and without price, Isa. lv. 1. Nay, not only freely eat themselves, but even invite others, saying with the Psalmist, “O
taste, and see that the Lord is good.” Ps. xxxiv. 8. . And this is one distinguishing mark of all who have tasted that the Lord is gracious, they would have others also to taste of his goodness.
This brook likewise putteth me in mind of that out of which the stripling David chose the five smooth stones with which he went against the giant of the Philistines, and who, by only using one of them, prevailed over that blustering defier of Israel, 1 Sam. xvii. 40.---49. Just so every believer, though but a stripling, weak and insufficient of himself to combat against Satan, the world, and the flesh, in the brook of gospel ordinances findeth five smooth stones; namely, saving faith in the merits of Christ, love to God, repentance unto life, a sight of his own emptiness, and a view of the fulness of Christ, by means of all which he prevaileth against, and finally overcometh, those mighty giants.
May I then examine myself, whether I have ever found these smooth stones in the brook of divine ordinances; and if I have ever used them with the sling of divine grace against my spiritual foes, and what success I have had in the attempt. Thus examining myself, through grace, I may come to know how. I have profited by gospel ordinances; whether I have wrestled against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places, Eph. vi. 12.; and whether, like Paul, I have fought the good fight, 2 Tim. iv. 7.
YONDER rustic, just come to angle in the brook, is preparing his rod, and running out his line. Now he views attentively the atmosphere, and anon considers the appearance of the liquid element; pauses a little, and selects from his hooks the fly which he judges best, and having put all in order, artfully throws the line, and raising his hand, gently leads the impostor, where the stream curls round the stone, by the cavity of the brow, or the prominent osier root: the unwary trout observes the deceitful fly, and is tempted from its covert. As if cautious of the danger, at first it springs at a little dis: tance, but the temptation being renewed, it can withstand the force of appetite no longer, but greedily leaps close, and desperate takes the death ; plunging down to the bottom, it sharply feels the dreadful mistake; distracted with the crooked impostor in its mouth, it rushes impétuously down the current, bending the pliant rod, crossing and recrossing the stream, struggling hard to get rid of its unhappy morsel; but all in vain. At length, exhausted, it is slowly dragged, plashing feebly, to the flowery bank.