« PoprzedniaDalej »
you, as you find them in the following chapters. Read, sonlider, and apply; and the Lord make you good husbandmen for your own souls.
In the laborious husbandman you fee
ledged to be very laborious ; there is a multiplicity of business incumbent on him. The end of one work is but the beginning of another, every season of the year brings its proper work with it: sometimes you find him in his fields, dreffing, plowing, sowing, harrowing, weeding, or reaping; and sometimes in his barn, threshing or winnowing ; sometiines in his orchard, planting, graffing, or pruning, his trees; and sometimes among his cattle ; so that he hath no time to be idle. As he hath a multiplicity of business, so every part of it is full of toil, and spending labour: he eats not the bread of idleness, but earns it before he eats it; and, as it were, dips it in his own sweat, whereby it becomes the sweeter to him. Though sin brought in the husbandman's sweat, Gen. iii. 19. yet now not to sweat would increase his fin, Ezek. xvi. 49.
to the life. As the life of a husbandman, sothe life of a Chriftian is no idle nor eafy life. They that take up religion for oftentation, and not for an occupation, and those that place the bufiness of it in notions, and idle speculations, in forms, gestures, and external observances, may think, and call it so: but such as devote themselves unto it, and make religion their business, will find it no easy work, to exercise themselves to godliness. Many there are, that affect the reputation and sweet of it, who cannot endure the labour and sweat of it. If mon might be indulged to divide their heart betwixt God and the world, or to cull out the cheap and easy duties of it, and neglect the more difficult and costly ones, it were an easy thing to be a Christian : but surely to have a respect to all God's commandments, to live the life, as well as fpeak the language of a Christian ; to be holy in all manner of conversation, is not so eafy. This will be evident, by comparing the life of a Christian, with the life of a husbandman, in these five particulars; wherein it will appear, that the work of a Christian, is by much the hardest work of the two.
1. The husbandman hath much to do, many things to look after ; but the Christian more: if we respect the extenfiveness of his work, he hath a large field indeed to labour in, Psalm cxix. 96. “ Thy commandment is exceeding broad,” of a vast extent and latitude, comprizing not only a multitude of external acts and duties, and guiding the offices of the outward man about them, but also taking in every thought and motion of the inner-man within its compass.
You find in the word, a world of work cut out for Christians; there is hearing-work, praying-work, reading, meditating, and self-examining-work; it puts him also upon a constant watch over all the corruptions of his heart. Oh, what a world of work hath a Christian about him ? For of them he may say, as the historian doth of Hannibal, they are never quiet, whether conquering or conquered. How many weak, languishing graces hath he to recover, improve, and Atrengthen ? There is a weak faith, a languishing love, dull and faint desires to be quickened, and invigorated. And when all this is done, what a multitude of work do his several relations exact from him ? He hath a world of business incumbent on him, as a parent, child, husband, wife, mafler, fervant, or friend, yea, not only to friends, but enemies. And, besides all this, how many difficult things are there to be borne and suffered for Christ? And yet God. will not allow his people to the neglect of any one of them: neither can he be a Christian that hath not respect to every
command, and is not holy in all manner of conversation, Psalm cxix. 6. 2 Pet. iii. 11. every one of these duties, like the several spokes in a wheel, come to bear, in the whole round of a Chriftian's conversation : so that he hath more work upon
his hands than the husbandman.
2. The husbandman's work is confessed to be spending work, but not like the Christians. What Auguftus said of the young Roman, is verified in the true Christian, Quicquid vult, valde vult. Whatsoever he doth in religion, he doth to purpose. Under the law, God rejected the snail and the ass, Lev. xi. -30. Exod. xiii. 13. And under the gospel, he allows no fluggish, lazy profeffor, 1 Tim. v. 11, 13. Sleepy duties are utterly unsuitable to the living God; he will have the very spirits distilled and offered up to him in every duty, John iv. 24. he
substance and kernel of mercies, and will not accept from them the shells and shadows of duties; not the skin, but the inwards, and the fat that covereth the inwards, was required under the law, Exod. xxix. 30. And every facrifice under the gospel, must be sacrificium medullatum, a sacrifice full of marrow; observe the manner in which their work is to be performed.
Rom. xii. 11. In serving God, fervent in spirit, or hifling hot.
2 Pet. i. 10. In securing falvation, diligent; or doing it thoroughly, and enough.
i Tim. iv. 7. In godliness, exercising or stripping themselves; as for a race.
Luke xiii. 24. In the pursuit of happiness, striving even to
Acts xxvi. 7. In prayer, serving God instantly; or in a stretched out manner; yea, pouring out their hearts before him, Pfalm Ixii. 8. as if the body were left like a dead corps upon the knees, whilst the spirit is departed from it, and alcended to God. This is the manner of his work : judge then how much harder this work is, than to spend the sweat of the brow in manual labour.
3. The husbandman finds his work as he left it, he can begin one day where he left the other ; but it is not so with the Christian, a bad heart, and a busy devil, disorder and spoil his work every day. The Christian finds riot his heart in the morning, as he left it at night; and even when he is about his work, how many
set-backs doth he meet with? Satan stands at his righthand (the working hand) to resist him, Zech. iii. 1. when he would do good, evil (the evil of his own heart and nature) is persent with him.
4. The husbandman hath some reiting-days, when he throws aside all his work, and takes his recreation; but the Christian hath no resting-day, till his dying-day ; and then he shall restfrom his labours. Religion allows no idle day, “but requires « him to be always abounding in the work of the Lord,” 1 Cor. xv. 18. When one duty is done, another calls for him; the Lord's day is a day of rest to the husbandman, but no day in the week so laborious to the Christian. O it is a spending day to him. When he hath gathered in the crop of one duty, he is not to fit down satisfied therewith, or fay as that rich worldling did, Luke xii. 19. “ Soul, take thine ease, thou haft “ goods laid up for many years ;” but muft to plow again, and count it well if the vintage reach to the feed-time, Levit. xxvi. 5. I mean, if the strength, influence, and comfort of one duty, hold out to another duty; and that it may be fo, and there be no room left for idleness, God hath appointed ejaculatory prayer, to fill up the intervals, betwixt stated and the more folemn duties. These are to keep in the fire, which kindled - the morning sacrifice, to kindle the evening facrifice. When can the Christian sit down and fay, Now all my work is ended, I have nothing to do without doors, or within ?
Lastly, There is a time when the labour of the husbandman is ended; old age and weakness takes him off from all employment; they can look only upon their labourers, but cannot do a ftroke of work themselves ; they can tell you what they did in their younger years, but now (say they) we must leave it to younger people: we cannot be young always; but the Christian is never fuperannuated as to the work of religion ; yea, the longer he lives, the more his master expects froin him. When he is full of days, God expects he should be full of fruits, Pfal xcii. 14..“ They shall bring forth fruit in old age, they shall be fat s and flourishing."
REFLECTIONS. 1. How hard have I laboured for the meat that perisheth? Prevented the dawning of The worlding's the day, and laboured as in the very fire, and reflection. yet is the Christian's work harder than mine? Surely, then, I never yet understood the work of Christianity. Alas, my sleepy prayers, and formal duties, even all that ever I performed in my life, never cost me that pains, that one hour at plow hath done. I have either wholly neglected, or, at belt, so lazily performed religious duties, that I may truly fay, I offer to God what cost me nothing. Wo is me, poor
wretch! How is the judgment of Korah fpiritually executed upon me?
The earth opened her mouth, and swallowed up his body; it hath opened its mouth and swallowed up my heart, my tin and all my affections. How far am I from the kingdom God!
2. And how little better is my case, w The formaliff's have indeed profeffed religion, but nev reflection. made it my business? Will an empt
(though splendid) profession save me? How many brave ships have perished in the storms, notwithstanding their fine names, the prosperous, the success, the happy return. A fine name could not protect them from the rocks, nor will it fave me from hell. I have done by religion, as I should have done by the world; prayed, as if I prayed not; and heard, as if I heard not. I have given to God but the shadow of duty, and can never expect from him a real reward. The reflections of a
3. How unlike a Christian dost thou, Nothful Christian.
also, O my soul, go about thy work;
though upright in the main, yet how little zeal and activity doft thou express in thy duties? awake love and zeal, seest thou not the toil and pains men take for the world? How do they prevent the dawning of the day? And labour as in the very fire till night; and all this for a trifle! Should not every drop of sweat which I see trickle from their brows, fetch (as it were) a drop of blood from my heart? who am thus convinced and reproved of shameful laziness, by their indefatigable diligence. "Do they pant after the dust of the earth? Amos ii. 7. And shall I not pant after God, Psal. xlii. 1. Ah, my soul, it was not wont to be so with thee in the days of my first profession. Should I have had no more communion with God in duties then, it would have broken my heart: I should have been weary of my life. Is this a time for one to ftand idle, who stands at the door of 'eternity? What, now flack-handed, when so near to my everlasting rest, Rom. xiii. 11. or haft thou found the work of God so unpleafant to thee? Prov. iii. 17. or the trade of godliness so unprofitable ? Psal. xix. 12. Or knowest thou not, that millions now in hell perished for want of serious diligence in religion, Luke xiï. 34. nor doth my diligence for God, answer to that which Christ hath done and suffered, to purchase my happiness : or to the preparations he hath made in heaven for me? Or dost thou forget that thy master's eye is always upon thee, whilst thou art lazying and loitering? Or would the damned live at this rate as I do, if their day of grace might be recalled ? For shame, my soul, for shame! rouze up thyself, and fall to thy work,