« PreviousContinue »
desire of them that fear him ; at evening time it shall be light, Lam. iii. 25. Psal. xxxiii. 18. Psal. cvii. 9. 1 Chron. xxviii. 9. Jer. xxix. 13, 14. Matt. vii. 7. Psal. cxlý. 19. Zech. xiv. 7. “ Thou hast ravished my heart with one of “thy eyes, with one chain of thy neck," saith Christ, Cant. iv. 9. But on the contrary, when sinners have not the smallest hope, nor the least desire, of seeing and being blest with his beams again, after having been once enlightened by him, and tasted of the powers of the world to come, Heb. vi. 4, 5, 6, it is a certain sign to them that their day of grace is ended. In this twilight of mercy as it were, which is protracted to them for a time, they indulge their lusts with freedom, and the wild beasts of error and corruption walk through their souls without restraint, and make a prey of any good that was there remaining; till at length they are enveloped in the horrible darkness of eternal night, misery, and woe.
YONDER rustic swain, somewhat aged, driving his lusty team out to plough, calleth to my remembrance Adam driven from the garden, and sent to till the ground, which was cursed for his sake.; and happy had it been for his hapless posterity had that been all ; but alas ! by his rebellion he and they were all laid under the eternal wrath and curse of God, which rendered their hearts more hard and barren even than the ground.
This man is now got to his labour, and a painful one it is, but there is no help for it, bread cannot be obtained without it; man was to eat bread in the sweat of his face until he returned unto the ground, for out of it was he taken, Gen. iii. 19.
By this man's appearance, I judge he is only a servant to some neighbouring husbandman, but a very faithful one : what pains he is taking in breaking the stubborn glebe! now he lets the plough lightly in, making the furrow shallow, because the soil requires it ; again he sets her deeper, because the soil will bear it. So the law of God, as a servant to the great Husbandman, is faithful to his trust, in dealing with hardened sinners : in some, as it were, it plougheth by means of the word, with a less sharp coulter of conviction, and lighter sock of contrition than in others, according as the great Husbandman in his infinite wisdom hath seen it necessary.
This ploughman, I observe, is very attentive that he miss none of the ground, but till it all as he goes along. So the law, in ploughing the fallow ground of a sinner's heart, breaketh it all up, not the smallest green bank of self-consequence is left unturned over.
* I perceive this man with his plough turns up large quantities of filthy noxious i weeds, and poisonous roots, which before lay undis
covered in the heart of the earth. In like manner, the law by its ploughing turneth up large quantities of vile weeds of corruption, and bitter roots of sin, that lay deep hid in the sinner's heart before, which till then he could never properly discover, but now he seeth them all clearly, and they are truly loathsome to his view ; whereas he thought himself “rich, and encreased with goods, “having need of nothing;” now he knoweth himself to be only " wretched, and miserable, "and poor, and blind, and naked,”. Rev. iii. 17. all filthy and obnoxious to divine wrath.
This heath in its uncultivated state, was good for nothing but casting for fuel : the wild fowls hatched in it; there the poisonous adder and snake lay basking themselves in the sun, without being disturbed, while the wild beasts pastured upon it at their pleasure; thus it was unfit to bear corn for the master's use; but now that the plough has entered, it is a favourable sign, the owner designs it for that good purpose. In like manner, before the fallow ground of the sinner's heart began to be cultivated, it was good for nothing but to be cast into eternal fire, to manifest the justice of God: wild blasphemous sinful thoughts were hatched in it; there the old serpent, as it were, lay basking himself, and the wild beasts of error and corruption ranged with freedom ; in this state it was wholly unfit for being sown with the good seed, and bringing forth fruit unto eternal life; but when once the law hath begun to break it up by ploughing, as it were, therein, it is a favourable symptom that the great Husbandman meaneth to cultivate it thoroughly, and that it shall “become as a “ field which the Lord will bless." Gen. xxvii. 27. :
This ground, being now tilled, wears a very different aspect from what it did but a little ago; then it was all one firm fair turf; now, through ploughing and cross-ploughing, it is ' quite mashed, confused, and black, and nothing in it can give pleasure to the eye. Just so that heart where the law hath been working, formeth a very opposite prospect in a man's eye to. what it formerly did; then it was all one whole, hard, uncultivated lump, and nothing in it that