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or such like ; and there is no reforming of them. The word cannot do it.-The Lord is contending,
(4.) Because of our abuse of mercies, and God's good creatures. We have had long peace, and God has wrought wonders for our deliverance. But we were surfeited with peace ere the war
The good creatures of God prospering and thriving, were but fuel to our lusts, and so snares to lead us away from God, that it is no wonder they get a stroke, like idols of jealousy, wherewith God has been provoked. - The Lord is contending,
(5.) Because of that woful security and unconcernedness for the public
cause of God and of religion which prevails. God is a jealous God, and when he is going out against a land, he calls all the inhabitants thereof to fear and to tremble; and he cannot endure indifference when his cause is at stake. This provokes him to blast people's private concerns : Haggai, ii. 14.-17.
« Then answered Haggai, and said, So is this people, and fo is this nation, before me, faith the Lord, and so is every work of their hands, and that which they offer there is unclean. And now, I pray you, consider from this day and upward, from before a stone was laid upon a stone in the temple of the Lord. Since those days were, when one came to an heap of twenty measures, there were but ten : when one came to the press-fat, for to draw out fifty vessels out of the press, there were but twenty. I smote you with blasting, and with mildew and hail, in all the labours of your hands, yet ye turned not to me, faith the Lord.” This woeful selfifhness has prevailed in an amazing manner amonir '!S. Little were we concerned with the dift:efscs which many others of the nation were unindifferent were we as to what way public
matters should go, as if we had been set here to be idle spectators of the reelings of the nation. But we fee God has many arrows in his quiver, and will even have us to groan with the rest. And if people go lightly under the burden of the public, he will give them a burden of their own to bear. God knows, your distress by this storm has lain near my heart, as I bear a part in all your afflictions; but feeing, with grief of heart, your prevailing temper to be such, that I could not call you together to wrestle for the public caufe, I could not have confidence before the Lord to do it upon an inferior cause, though in itfelf a very weighty one.
The Lord is contending with us,
(6.) Because of the contempt of the gofpel, and unfruitfulness under the means of
This makes a land to groan, and the creatures in it to bear a fhare.
4. Let the groans of the creatures ftir us up to repenting groans before the Lord. Shall we be groaning under trouble, and the creatures groaning for our fakes, and yet not groan for fin, which is the cause of all ? For the Lord's fake, firs, be pliable to the word, and do not think yourfelves above warnings, but receive convictions from the word, and be humbled under the hand of God, and take a look of your ways, and repent, and reform yourselves and your families. Wrath is gone out from the Lord against the land and us. Let us try to quench it ere it go farther, left it break out like fire, that none can quench it. Let us be concerned for the public caute, and take a lift of Zion's burden this day. Be not indifferent in the cause of a Proteftant king, and a Popish pretender. Ye have had fair warning to prepare to meet the Lord, and God followed the closing of our sermons on that subject hard at the heels with the stroke.
He is angry
And if this do us no good, take heed it come not next from the stall to the hall, and men and women be as fore straitened as the poor dumb creatures are this day.
5. Let us come here, and learn various other lessons. We know the book of the creation is an instructive book; every day we may have a lesson from them, from the highest, Pfal. viii. 3. 4. to the lowest, Prov. vi. 6. 7. 8. namely, from the heavens to the ant. But in such a day as this we may learn more from them than ordinary; now they speak much and loud to us. God makes them gro. thus for our instruction, as he cursed the fig-tree, for a lesson of faith to his difciples; and flew the cattle of Egypt, to make the owners fee what they might expect. The creatures grown out these lessons to us : (1.) That God is
angry with the land, has a controversy with our mother, and he is angry with the creatures, for they smart under it. We may fay, as in Hab. iii. 8. “ Was the Lord displeased against the rivers ? was thine anger against the rivers ? was thy wrath against the sea ? that 'thou didit ride upon thine horses, and thy chariots of salvation.” Sure if it is so, it is for our fakes, and therefore he is angry much more with us. Look now through the whole creation, above, under, and about us, and we will fee the characters of the Lord's anger. It is true, these things have natural causes, but God guides the fe. And this lesson we may take for a certain evidence of our fin; see fermon on Joel, i. 18.- Another leflon is,
(2.) That it is not easy to get the flame or wrath quenched when once it is kindled. We may say this day, as in Pfal. Ixv. 5. “ By terrible things in righteousness wilt thou answer us, O God of our
salvation." Men's fins may bring that on the creatures, which they will not foon get removed. Learn here to beware of kindling the fire by provoking God! It is easier to keep the sword of vengeance in the sheath, than to get it fheathed again when once drawn. It is dangerous to depend on the praying for mercy on a death-bed, delaying all till then, for then wrath may be gone out, not to be quenched.
(3.) It is dangerous to be concerned with those with whom God hath a controversy; thus, all that belonged to Achan perished with him : Joth vii. 24. 25. “ And Joshua, and all Israel with him, took Achan, the son of Zerah, and the silver, and the garment, and the wedge of gold, and his sons, and his daughters, and his oxen, and his asses, and his sheep, and his tent, and all that he had ; and they brought them unto the valley of Achor. And Joshua faid, Why haft thou troubled us ? the Lord fhall trouble thee this day. And all Israel stoned him with stones, and burned them with fire, after they had stoned them with stones.” Had these oxen and afles been another's than Achan's, they had not perished in the manner they did. Thus the poor creatures lament their relation to finful men; and
upon the occasion of the controversy God has with them with whom they are nearly connected. A companion of fools shall be destroyed. Even those God has a kindness for may smart full forely for the sake of others; see i Kings, xiv. 10.-13.
Another lesson is, (4.) That fin is a heavy burden, which none are able to bear up under. O firs! what think
ye of fin, that makes the very earth to groan under it this day? Ifa. xxiv. 20. “ The earth shall reel to and fro like a drunkard, and shall be removed like a cottage, and the transgre.Tion thereof Mall
be heavy upon it, and it shall fall, and not rise again." Ye walk for the present full lightly under it, but the weight of it, ere long, will be felt by the most stupid finner ; a dreadful weight ! that makes the whole creation groan. Are not the bands of guilt strong and strait, that thus gird up the heaven and earth, and bind down the creatures, that they cannot get up their head ? It is an offence to an infinite God, no wonder it doth lay an infinite weight on the offender.-We are instructed,
(5.) That God is a jealous and juft God, who will not suffer fin to go unpunished. Deceive not yourselves with misapprehensions of God, like the wicked, who, as in Pfal. I. 21. think him altogether such an one as themselves; for as fweet as fin may be in the mouth, it will be bitter in the belly : Job. xx. 12.-14. “ Though wickedness be sweet in his mouth, though he hide it under his tongue ; though he spare it, and forfake it not, but keep it still within his mouth :Yet his meat in his bowels is turned, it is the gall of asps within him.” Therefore, Exod. xxiii. 21. *« Beware of him, and obey his voice, provoke him not ; for he will not pardon your transgreffions.” He is true to his word, and it cannot fail. He will reverse the order of nature, turn the heavens to brafs, and the earth to iron, rather than one word of his fall to the ground. We may also learn,
(6.) That the creatures are ever weak pillars to lean to. You have need of something else to bear your weight, the weight of your comfort, much more of your happiness, for they are not able. There is a vanity that they are under, by reason of which they cannot reach that end : Eccles. i. 2. “ All is vanity.” They that have not fomething elfe to lean to, may foon have nothing to