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For strangesels oow is got between
Na skill cap mend the miry ground; and sure
OBSERVATION LTHOUGH the industry and skill of the hufband
man can make fome ground that was useless and bad, good for tillage and pasture, and improve that which was barrea; and by his cost and paios make one acre worth ten; yet fuch is the nature of some rocky or miry ground, where the water Stands, and there is no way to cleanse it, that it can never be made fruitful. The husbandman is faio to let it alone, as an incurable piece of walte or worthless ground;, and though the fun and clouds shed their influences on it, as well as upon bettee
land, yet that doth not at all mend it. Nay, the more showers :
over by God to judicial blindness, hardoels of heart, a
(1.) la miry places the water hath not free passage, but fraods, and settles there. So it is with these barren fouls, therefore the apostle prays, that the gospel may rua, and be glori. fied, 2 Thef. ii. i. The word is said to run, when it meets with no stop, Gum libere propagatur, when it is freely propagated, and runs through the whole man; when it meets with on stop, either in the mouth of the speaker, or hearts of the hearers, as it deth in these.
(2.) In a miry place the earth and water is mixed together ; this mixture makes mire. So when the truths of God do mix with the corruptions of men, that they either hold fome truths, and get live in their lusts; or else whep men do make use of the truths of God to justify and plead for their fios. Or,
(3.) When, as in a miry place the longer the water stands in it, the worse it grows ; so the longer men abide under ordinances, the more filthy and polluted they grow : There are the miry places that cannot be healed, their disease is incurable, desperate.
O this is a sad case! and yet very common; many persons
Spiritual barrenness. p. 8.
are thus given over as incorrigible, and hopeless, Res. xxii. 11. « Let him that is filthy be filthy ftill." Jer. vi. 29.“ Reprobate " filver (hall men call them, for the Lord hath rejected them.” Ifa. vi. 10, 11. “Go make the heart of this people fat, their ears “ dull,” doc.
Christ executes, by the gofpel, that curse upon many fouls, which he denounced agaiost the fig-tree, Matth. xxi. 19.“ Let
grow on thee henceforth for ever; and immediately “. the fig-tree withered away." To be given up to such a condition, is a fearful judgment indeed, a curse with a witness; the. fum of all plagues, mileries, and judgments, a fatal stroke at the root itself." Io is a woe to have a bad heart (faith dne) but it is. the depth of woe to have a heart that never shall be made better.' To be barren under the gospel, is a sore judgment, but to have that pertinax fterilitas, a pertinacious barrenness; this is to be twice dead, and plucked up by the root, as Jude fpeaks.
And to thew you the woful, and miserable state and plight of such men, let the following particulars be weighed.
(io) It is a stroke at the foul itself, an inward. Spiritual judg. meat; and by how much the more inward and spiritual any judgment is, by so much the more dreadful and lamentable. As Toul-mercies are the best of mercies, fo foul-judgments are, the faddelt of all judgments. If it were but a temporal stroke upon the body, the loss of an eye, an ear, a haod, a foot, though in itself it would be a considerable loss, yet in were nothing to this. Omnia Deus dedit duplicia, faith Chryfoftom, fpeak. ing of bodily members; God bath given men double members, two eyes, if one be lost, the other supplies its wants; two hands, two ears, two feet, that the failing of one may be supplied by the help of the other ; animam vero unam, but one foul; if that perish, there is not another to supply its lofs. “The foul, faith a
* heathen, is the man, that which is fees, is not the “ man." The apostle calls the body a vile body, Phil, iii. 21.' and so it is, compared with the soul; and Daniel calls it the Sheath, which is but a contemptible thing to the sword which isi in it. O it were far better that many bodies perish, than one soul; that every member were made the seat and subject of the most exquisite torture, than such a judgment hould fall upon the soul,
(2.) It is the feverest stroke God can ioflict upon the foul in this life, to give it up to barreopess; because it cuts off all hopes, frustrates all means, nothing can be a blessing to him.
If one comes from the dead, if angels should descend from heaven to preach to him, there is no hope of him. If God shut up a man, who can open? Job xii. 14. As there was none found in heaven or earth that could open the feals of that book, Rev.' * 5. to. is there no. opening by the hand of the most able and! Akiitul miniftry, those feals of hardness, blindoels and unbelief, thus impressed upon the spirit. Whom justice lo locks up, Mercy will never let out. This is that which maks up the ana. thema: Maranatha, 1 Cor. xvi. 22. which is the dreadfullelt curse in all the book of God, accurfed till the Lord come.
(3.) It is the most indiscernible stroke to themselves that can be, and by that fo much the more desperate. Hence there is said to be poured out upon them the spirit of flumber, Ifa. xxix. 10.« The Lord hath poured out upon you the spirit of • deep deep, and hath closed your eyes." Montanus renders it, The Lord hath mingled upon you the spirit of deep sleep. And so it is as allusion to a loporiferous medicine mingled, and made up of opium, and such-like ftupefactive ingredients, which caits a man joto luch a deep. Sleep, that do what you will to him, be teels, he knows it not. “ Make their eyes, heavy and " their ears dull; left they should fee, and hear, and be con“ verted," Ifa. vi. 9, 10. This is the heart that caonot repent, which is fpoken of, Rom. ii. 5. For meo are not fensible at all of this judgment, they do not in the least suspect it, and that is their milery. Though they bc cursed trees, which shall never bear any fruit to life, yet many times they bear abundance of other fair and plealant fruits to the eye, excellent gifts, and rare endowments; and these deceive and updo them. Mat. vii. 22.“ We have prophesied in thy oame;" this makes the wound desperate, that there is no finding of it, no prope to search it.
(4.) It is a stroke that cuts off from the soul all the comfort and sweetness of religion. A man may pray, hear, and coofer, bur all those duties are dry stalks to him, which yield so meat, no folid substantial nutriment; some common touches upon the affectioas, he may sometimes find in duty, the melting voice or rhetoric of the preacher may perhaps ftrike his natural affections, as another tragical story pathetically delivered may do ; but to have any real communion with God in ordinances, ang discoveries or views of the beauty of the Lord in them, that he cannot have; for these are the special effects and operations of the fpirit, which are always restrained.
God hath said to fuch, as he did to them, Gen. vi. 3.
Dess is there in ordinances ? What is the word, separated from the Spirit, but a dead letter? It is the Spirit that quickcas, 2 Cor. iii. 2. Frieod, thou must koow that the gospel works not like a natural cause upoo those that hear it; if so, the ef.: fect would always follow, unless miraculoudy lopt and hiod.' red; but it works like a moral instituted cause, whose efficacy and success depends upou the arbitrary concurrence of the Spi. rit with ir. " The wind blows where it lifteth, fo is every one " that is bore of the Spirit,” Joha üi. 8.“ Of his owo will
begat he us by the word of truth." Ordinances are as the pool of Bethelda, which had its healing virtue only when the angel moved the waters; but the Spirit never moves saviogly upon the waters of ordinances, for the healing of their fouls, how many years foever they lie by then, though others feel a. divine power in them, yet they shall not. As the men that travelled with Paul, when Christ appeared to him from heaven, they saw the light, but heard oot the voice which he heard to salvation : So it is with these, they see the minifters, hear the words, which are words of salvation to others, but not fo to them. Conceraing these miserable fouls, we may figh, and 1ay to Christ, as Martha did concerning her brother Lazarus : Lord, it thou hadft been here, in this fermon, or in this prayer, this soul had oot remained dead. But here is the woe that lies upon him, God is departed from the means, and none can help him.
(5.) It is such a stroke upon the spirit of man, as is a fearful fign of his eternal reprobation. It is true, we cannot positively lay of a man in this life, he is a reprobate, one that God will never new mercy to; but get there are some probable marks of it upoo fome men in this world, and they are of a trembling confideration wherever they appear; of which this. is one of the faddeft, 2 Cor. iv. 3.“ If our gospel be hid, it is “ hid to those that are lost, ia whom the God of this world " hath blinded the minds of them that believe not ; left the “ light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of • God, should shine unto them.” So Acts xii. 48. “ As ma
ny as were ordained unto eternal life believed. Ye believe
not, because ye are oot of my sheep,” John X. 26. And aguio, Matth. xiii. 11. "To you it is given to know the mysteries “.of the kingdom, but to them it is not gived." There cannot be a more dreadful character of a person marked out for wrath, than to continue under the ordioaoces, as the rocks and miro places do under the natural iofluences of heaven. What blefied opportunities kad Judas? He was under Christ's ova