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Galatia, but forbad them to preach the word in Alia, Acts xvi, 6. “ And when they essayed to go into Bithynia, the spirit fuf« fered them not," v. 7. But a map of Macedonia appears to Paul io a vision, aod prayed him, saying, “ Come over to Ma“ cedonia and help us," v. 9. Thus you see how the mystical, as well as the natural clouds are moved according to divine counsel; and though ministers are not now disposed to their respective places, in such an extraordinary way, yet there is still a special hand of the spirit guiding their motions, which is feea partly io qualifying them for such a people, and partly in drawing out their hearts to elect and call them, and inclining their hearts to accept the call.

3. There is a great deal of difference in the showers of raia that fall upon the earth. Sometimes you have ab hasty Mower, which makes the ways float, and the streets run, but it is gone presently, the earth hath but little benefit by it; and sometimes you have a sweet, gentle, soaking rain, that moderately foaks to the root, and refrelhes the earth abundantly. This is called the small rain, and the former, the great rain of his strength, Job xxxvii. 6. So it is in thefe fpiritual showers, the effects of some fermons (like a sudden spout of rain) are very trao fent, that touch the heart a little for the prefent, by way of conviction or comfort, but it fieets away immediately, Jam. i. 23. At other times the gospel, like a fettled moderate rain, soaks to the root, to the very heart. So did that sweet Mower which fell, Acts ii. 37. It searched the root, it weot to the heart; the influences of it ale sometimes abiding, and do much longer, remain in, and refresh the heart, than the rain doth the carth. There be effects left in some hearts, by fome fermons and duties, that will never out of it as long as they live. "I will never “ forget thy precepts, for by them thou haft quickned me,” Psal. cxix. 93

4. The rain is most beneficial to the earth, when there come fweet, warm fun-blasts with it, or after it. This the scripture calls “ a clear shining after rain," 2 Sam. xxiii. 4. by which the feminal virtue of the earth is drawn forth, and then the herbs, flowers, and corn sprout abundantly. So it is with gospela showers, when the fun of righteoufoefs opens upon poor fouts under the word, darting down the beams of grace and love up. on them, whilst they are attending on it, (just as you sometimes see a sweet shower fall while the luo shines out). O how comfortable is this ! and effectual to melt the heart! And as the warm raio is most refreshing, fo when the word comes warınly',

from the melting affections of the preacher, who imparts act only the gospel, but his own foul with it, Thel. i. 8. this doth abundantly more good than that which drops coldly from the lips of the unaffected speaker.

5. Showers of rain do exceedingly refresh the earth, as a man is refreshed by a draught of water, when his fpirits are even {pent. O how welcome is a shower to the thirsty ground ! Hence the little bills are faid to rejoice on every fide, yea lo thout for joy, and sing when a shower comes, Plal Ixv. 12, 13 But never were showers of rain fo sweetly refreshing to the thirsty earth, as gospel-fhowers are to gracious bearts, Col. iv. 8. they comfort their very hearts. What joy was there is Samaria, when the gospel came to that place ? Acts viü. 8. It revives the soul, it is mel in ore, melos in aure, jubilum in corde, honey in the mouth, melody in the ear, and a very jubilee in the heart.

6. Raio is necessary at feed-time, to make ready the earıh to Teceive the feed, Plal. Ixv. 9, 10. “Thou vifteft the earth, and *** watereft it; thou greatly iorichest it with the river of God, “ which is full of water ; thou preparest them corn, when thou “ haft fo provided for it; thou waterest the ridges thereof a“ bundantly, thou settleft the furrows thereof, thou makelt it " soft with showers, thou blessert the springing thereof." And this the scripture calls the former rain. And as this is necessary about feed-time, so the latter rain is as needful about earingtime, to disclose the ear, and to bring it to perfection; both these are great blessings to the earth, and conduce to a pieptiful harvest, Joel ii, 23, 24.“ Be glad then ye children of Sion, “ and rejoice in the Lord your God, for he hath given you “ the former raio moderately, and he will cause to come “ down for you the rain, the former and the latter rain in the “ first mooth, and the floors shall be full of wheat, and the “ fats all overflow with wine and oil.” Thus the gospel hath a double use and benefit also. It is necessary as the former rain at feed-time, it causes the firit spring of grace in the heart, Psal. xix. 7. And there could be in an ordinary way) po spring of grace without it, Prov. xxix. 18, And as this former raio is necessary to cause the first spriag of grace, fo allo it bath the use of the latter raia to ripen those precious fruits of the spirit in the souls of believers, Eph. iv. 11, 12, 13. “ He gave fome “ apostles, and some proplaets, and some evangelists, and some “ pastors and teachers, for the perfecting of the saints, for " the work of the ministry, for the cdifying of the body of * Chrift, till we all come in the unity of the faith, and the

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koowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, unto the

mealure of the Atature of the fulaess of Chrilt." Were all the elect converted unto God, yet ftill there would be a geceflity of a gospel-ministry.

7. After a great glut of rain, usually there comes a drought; it is a common country proverb, Wet and dry, pay one another. Aod truly when a people are glutted with a fuloess of golpelmercies, it is usual with God to shut up and restrain the gospelclouds, that, for a time at least, there be no dews upon them, and thereby teach them to prize their defpiled (becaule common) mercies at an higher rate. For as a good man once said, mercies are best kaowa by the back, and most prized when most wanted.

To thote days the word of the Lord was precious, there was

no open vision," i Sam, iji. 1. It is with spiritual as with temporal food, flighted when plenteous, but if a famine once come, then every bit of bread is precious. Jerusalem remem. bered in the days of her afflictions, and of her mifery, all her pleasaot things that she had in the days of old, Lam. i. 7. It is both a final and dangerous thing to waptonize with gofpelmercies, and despise the plainest (if faithful) ministers of the gofpel. The time may come when you may be glad of the plainelt fermon, from the mouth of the meanest ambassador of Christ,

8. To conclude, The prayers of saints are the keys that open and shut the natural clouds, and cause them either to give out, or with-hold their influences, Jam. V. 17, 18." Elias was a man “ subject to like pallions, as we are, and he prayed earnestly " that it might not raio, and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and fix months; and he prayed again, “ and the heavens gave rain, and the earth brought forth her “ fruit.” God hath subjected the works of his hands to the prayers of his faints, Isa. xlv. II.

Prayer is also the golden key which opens thefe myslical gorpel-clouds, and dissolves them into sweet gracious howers. God will have the whole work of the ministry carried on by the prayers of his people; they first obtain their minifters by prayer, Luke X. 2. “ Pray ye the Lord of the harvest, to send forth la“ bourers into the vineyard.” It is by the help of prayer that they are carried on, and enabled to exercise their miniftry: They may tell their people as a great general once told his foldiers, That he flew upon their wings.' “ Pray for me, (faith “ the great apostle) that utterance may be given me, that I may “ open my mouth boldly, to make koowo the mysteries of the

golpel," Eph. vi, 19. Yea, by the faints prayers it is, that

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ministers obtain the fuccess and fruits of their labours, 2 Thelt iii. 1. "Finally, brethren, pray for us, that 'the word of the “ Lord may have free course, and be glorified even as it is wich you." And thus you have the metaphor opened. Now, O! that these truths might come down in (wect showers upon che hearts both of ministers and people, in the following reflections.

REFLECTIONS. Three refletions

1. Am I then a cloud? And is my doctrine

as rain to water the Lord's inheritance? And for gospel mini

yet do I think it much to be toffed up and Jers.

down by the furious winds and storms of persecution ? Do not I see the clouds above me in continual mo. tions and agitations? And shall I dream of a fixed, fettled state? No ; false teachers, who are clouds without rain, are more likely to enjoy that thao 1. Which of all the prophets have not been tossed and hurried worse than I? Aets vii. 52. He that will not let men alone to be quiet in their lusts, must expect but little quiet from men in this life. But it is enough, Lord, that a rest remaineth for thy servant; let me be fo wile to secure a rest to come, and not so vain to expect it on earth.

2. And, that I might Audy those instructing clouds, from which, as from the bottles of heaven, God pours down refreshing showers to quench and satisfy the thirsty earth! In this may I resemble them, and come amongst the people of the Lord, "in " the fuloess of the blelling of the gospel of Christ,” Rom.xv. 29. Olet not those thirsty fouls that wait for me as for the rain, Job xxix. 23. "return like the troops of Tema, alhamed, with their “ heads covered,” Job vi. 19. O that my lips might refresh many! Let me never be like those empty clouds, which deceive the hopes of thirsty souls; but let my doctrine descend as the rain, and distil as the dew, and let that plot of thine inheritance which thou hast alligoed to me, be as a field which the Lord hath blessed.

3. Once more, lift up thine eyes to the clouds, and behold, to how great an height the sup hath mounted them, for by reason of their sublimity it is, that they are called the clouds of heaven, Matth. xxiv. 30. Lord, let me be a cloud of heaven too: Let

my heart and conversation be both there! Who is more ad. vantaged for an heavenly life than I ? heavenly truths are the subjects of my daily study, and shall earthly things be the ob. jects of my daily delights and loves ? God forbid that ever my earthly conversation should contradict and shame my heavenly calling and profeflion, Shine forth thou glorious fua of righ

Three reflec

ans.

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teousness, and my heart shall quickly be attracted and mounted above these visible clouds, yea, and above the aspectable heavens.

1. Is the gospel rain, and are its ministers clouds ? Wo is nie then, that my habitation tions for priis upon the mountaios of Gilboa, where there vate Christie are no dews! Ah sad lot, that I should be like Gideon's dry fleece, whilft the ground round

For those that about me is wet with the dew of heaven; O thou that commandeft the clouds above, and want a gospel

ministry. openeft the windows of heaven, remember, and refresh this parched wilderness, wherein I live, with showers of grace, that we may not be as the heath in the defart, which teeth not when good cometh, nor iohabit the parched places of the wilderness. 2.0 Lord, thou hast caufed the heavens above

For those that me to be black with clouds, thou openeft the celestial cafements

from above, and daily fendelt enjoy a gospeldown showers of gofpel-bleslings : 0 that I might

miniftry. be as the parched earth under them! Not for barrennefs, bat for thirstinefs. Let me fay, “ My foul loogeth, yea, even faipfa “ eth for the courts of the Lord :" that I might there fec the beauty of the Lord. Doth the spungy earth fo greedily fuck up the Thowers, and open as many mouths as there are clefts in it, to receive what the clouds dispense? And shall those precious foul-enriching fhowers fleet away unprofitably from me! If so, then, 3. What an account have I to make for all

For unprofit those gospel-blessings that I have enjoyed; for

table bearers.
all those gospel-dews and showers wherewith I
have been watered! Should I be found fruitless at last, it will
fare better with the barren and uncultivated wilderness than
with me; more tolerable for lodians and Barbarians that never
heard the gofpel, than for me that have been so affiduously and
plenteously watered by it. Lord! What a difference wilt thou
put in the great day, betwixt simple and pertinacious barren-
ness? Surely, if my root be not rottenness, fuch heavenly
waterings and influences as these will make it sprout forth into
fruits of obedience.

The PO E M.
*HE vegetables here below depend

Upoo those treasures which the heavens do spend
Most bounceously upon them; to preserve
Their being and their beauty. This may serve

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