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these alone are the food of his soul, though through necessity he is obliged in part to care for the things of this life.
When this bird is observed to fly near the earth in pursuit of insects, it is accounted a sign of dark and rainy weather, but, on the contrary, when pursuing them high in the air, it is an indication of settled and clear. Just so, when a believer beginneth to set his affections on the things of the earth, and delighteth in carnal enjoyments; it is a token that heavy clouds of darkness, and showers of afflictions and crosses, will inevitably ensue; whereas, on the other hand, when he setteth his affections on things above, not on things on the earth, Col. iii. 2, it evidenceth to himself, and all who know his frame, that his sky is clear, and shall brighten more and more, till at length he shall enjoy a perfect serenity above.
The swallow seems to delight in the society of
man, by its building and hatching about his habitation, on the chimnies of houses, and often in churches. For this last privilege,
the royal Psalmist, when in a state of exile from the public ordinances, seemed to envy this bird in being allowed to rear its nest, and hatch about or near the altar of the Lord, saying, “ How amiable are thy tabernacles, - O Lord of hosts ! my soul longeth, yea,
even fainteth, for the courts of the Lord; my heart and
flesh crieth out for the “ living God. Yea, the sparrow hath found
an house, and the swallow a nest for her“ self, where she may lay her young ; even “ thine altars, O Lord of hosts, my king and
my God.” Psalm, lxxxiv. 1---3. But, blessed be the Lord, we of this land, in this age,
have no reason to envy the swallow in this, for' we have perfect liberty to wait upon God in his ordinances, even publicly in his house of prayer, there being none externally to make us afraid.
Such was not the case with many of our fathers; yet, alas ! we, their children, make but an ill improvement of these privileges, for we either too often neglect the public worship of God altogether, or go to the ordinances to rear up a shelter for ourselves, even that of our own righteousness, which is no better than the mud and straw with which the swallow buildş her nest, and which is easily swept down ; valuing ourselves upon our punctuality in attending the ordinances, and observing the letter of the law; and so in our nest of performances hatch self-conceit, imagining we are good Christians, and all shall be well with us. But such a fabric will only deceive those who trust therein, and both they and it shall be swept away at last.
It is only they who build on the rock Christ, and take shelter alone in his righteousness, that shall be saved. Every true believer therefore goeth to the ordinances, not so much for the institutions themselves, as in them to meet and hold communion with the God of ordinances.
The swallow, it is said, by means of the herb.celandine, or swallow-wort, opens the eyes of her young ones, and brings them to sight : However this be, Othat parents among men would use the means which God hath put in their power, for opening the spiritual eyes of their tender offspring to see their lost and undone state by nature, and that there is no salvation any where else but in Christ; and would pray
often to him to anoint their young eyes with eye-salve, that they may
Rev. iii. 18. The want of this care among parents is no doubt the reason of so many blind, ignorant youths in our day.
The swallow teaches her young ones to take food in the air in this manner: While they are playing near where the dam is hawking for flies, and the latter has caught a mouthful, by a signal given by the parent, the young one and she advance towards each other, and meet at an angle, when the old one imparts what it has taken, into the mouth of its offspring, which, all the time it is receiving, utters a small twittering note of gratitude.
O that parents of the human kind, would learn from this instance what duty they owe to their tender progeny, even that of accustoming them early to attend on the public erdinances of the gospel, by bringing them to
the house of God to get spiritual food for their souls, and taking pains to impart unto them Christian knowledge. For such a blessing children ought to utter songs of gratitude to God, and to bless him for such parents,
The swallow, too, acts as an excubitor for several other small birds, and when it spies the hawk approaching, sounds the alarm; then presently all the others that are near, collect in a body, and give battle to their common enemy, by rising up high in the air, and coming down with force on their foe: this they do again and again, till he is beaten far from their place of residence. Just so should ministers of the gospel, those watchmen which are set on the walls of Jerusalem, Isa. lxii. 6, do, when they observe the people in danger of being destroyed with respect to their spiritual interest, whether by innovations in religion, the spread of error, the infringement of their sacred privileges, or in any
other way whatever; then it is they ought to put the trumpet to their mouths and sound an alarm, Hos. viii. 1. Joel, ii. 1, even warn the people, so that their blood may not