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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 than that of 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 into the ground, for out of it was he taken, Gen. ii. 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; some, 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 balk of self-confidence is left unturned
I perceive this man with his plough turns up large quantities of filthy noxious weeds, and poisonous roots, which before lay un
discovered 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 mi
serable, and poor, and blind, and naked,” Rev. iii. 17i, 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, now being tilled, wears a very different aspect to 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 the man's eye to what it formerly did ; then it was all one whole, hard, uncultivated lump, and nothing in it that gave much disgust to the sinner himself; but now since that fallow ground hath been broken
soil turned up,
by the law, all mangled, and, as it were, torn in pieces, and the proper it appeareth full of confusion and deceit, loathsome and black as hell.
While attending this plough, I observe a kind of low groaning, formed betwixt the oppressed plough, and the harness of the team as it turns up the earth. In like manner, while the law is ploughing and turning up the corrupt natural soil of the sinner's heart, how doth he groan ! longing to be delivered from the grieving yoke.
But though this barren heath which I now behold, be all ploughed and cross-tilled, yetif it be not sown and further cultivated, the weeds and poisonous plants will again take faster root, and grow more numerous than before, and it will in a very short time return to its former uncultivated state. So though the fallow ground of a sinner's heart have been broken up by the law, and the vile weeds of corruption, and bitter poisonous roots of sin turned
up and loosened, yet if it be not sown with the good seed, and farther cultivated by the Holy Ghost, those weeds and poisonous bitter roots will take faster hold of the ac