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bing God: they were obstinate, and refused to take with the charge, and instead of performing the duties enjoined, said, Wherein shall we return, and wherein have we robbed God? This prophet not only describes what the church then was, but foretells what she would be at other periods. Therefore, at any time, when these or such sins prevail, a gracious Lord speaks to Zion in the words of the text, Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.

This text viewed in its connexion contains these things:

A judgment from God, viz. great outward scarcity bordering on famine. This was produced partly by the season, and chiefly by the caterpillar and cankerworm devouring the fruits of the ground. This judgment was God's voice, and proclaimed that he was angry. It was a loud language to the people. By it God punished them for the sins specified; accordingly in ver. 9 it is said, Ye are cursed with a curse, even this whole nation.

It contains the procuring cause of this judgment,— they robbed God of the tithes. They learned in experience that keeping back God's part did not enrich them. Withholding more than is meet, espeeially from God, tendeth to poverty. On the other hand, if we honour the Lord with our substance, our barns shall be filled with plenty, and our presses burst with new wine. In opposition to this conduct

the Jews still kept back God's part. They grudged it, and thought that what he got was lost to themselves.

In the text too there is the way to get matters bettered, and the judgment removed; God's curse taken away, and his blessing restored.-Bring ye all the tithes into my house. These were God's property, and were chiefly designed for two purposes,-that the priests and Levites might be maintained, and the poor supplied. The Levites had no portion in the division of Canaan.. The Lord was their portion. They attended daily at the altar, and God appointed that they should live by it. The poor were also to be supplied. The tithes for these uses were to be separated, and carried up to Jerusalem, particularly every third year, and the owners, along with the Levites, and the poor, were to eat. Thus it is said, Deut. xiv. 28, 29, "At the end of three years thou shalt bring forth all the tithe of thine increase the same year, and shalt lay it up within thy gates. And the Levite, (because he hath no part nor inheritance with thee) and the stranger, and the fatherless, and the widow, which are within thy gates, shall come, and shall eat and be satisfied; that the Lord thy God may bless thee in all the work of thine hand which thou doest." See also chap. xii. 5, 6, 7, 11, 12,-they were to pay them all, and withhold none. They were to do this before the plenty should be enjoyed, as a proof that they could trust God, and believe his word before they saw the accomplishment, as the way in which they were to expect plenty. and as giving a decided preference to God's house.

In fine, the text contains the encouragement. God calls them to prove and try him about the blessing. This without doubt amounts to a promise. The path of duty is pointed out, and the success graciously secured. While there is great encouragement in God's promise, this is heightened by the abundance of the blessing," that there shall not be room enough to receive it." Perhaps the words in the original imply, that God could give no more, as well as they receive no more; and may very naturally be explained, that God will give a perpetual, everlasting, and most abundant blessing. As God expressed his kindness to the Old Testament Church in blessings of a more visible nature, this had a primary respect to great abundance of corn, wine, and oil; his blessing on the land that flowed with milk and honey. So much did these outward things depend on his blessing, that Zion sung, "He turneth the wilderness into a standing water, and dry ground into water-springs."

Such is the literal and primary sense. But matters of vastly more importance are included. That the mere paying of tithes was not all is evident, because the Old Testament dispensation was near an end; or rather the prophecy respected the period after Christ's incarnation. Besides, tithes might, and often were, punctually paid, and God, instead of being pleased, greatly offended. He says, Psal. 1. 8, “I will not reprove thee for thy sacrifices, or thy burntofferings." Much depends on the manner of performing duty, and the end. "Offer unto God thanksgiving; and pay thy vows unto the Most High."

As the Old Testament dispensation was typical, and a shadow of good things; we must drop the sha dow, and attend to the substance. In New Testament language, bringing all the tithes signifies having respect to all God's precepts, aiming at the performance of every duty, and especially prizing and supporting the Gospel and its ordinances. By the blessing of plenty is meant the corn that makes the young men cheerful, and that new wine which exhilarates the maids.

It is universally agreed that the devourer in the following verse signifies a great spiritual enemy; deliverance from him, a great spiritual blessing; and that the fruits of the ground are to be taken in a spiritual sense. This verse also, under figurative language, sets before us great spiritual blessings. If we could only see, we would find it a bright cloud with the sound of abundance of rain. If we could attain to the spiritual exercise here pointed out, the blessing would certainly become matter of experience and enjoyment. In fine, if one person attain this exercise, though ten thousand should neglect it, the blessing will be his. Faithful is he that hath promised, and God has not said to any, Seek me in vain. We shall endeavour in explaining these words,

I. To open up the import of the text.

II. Show what it is to bring all the tithes into God's house.

III. Illustrate the exercise of proving God.

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IV. Speak of God's opening the windows of heaven and pouring out the blessing.

I. It is first proposed to take notice of some truths implied in the text.

In this, and many other passages of Scripture, Zion is called God's house. He says, That there may be meat in mine house. It is so called in allusion to the temple. There is much propriety in this designation. God has founded it. It is the place of his peculiar residence, and he says, Here will I dwell. In Zion he converses with his people, as the Father of the family. There he is worshipped, and communicates mercy; there he receives petitions, and bestows his grace. It is an emblem of the Church above, and the entrance to it; and the same term is applied to both. Christ says of heaven, In my Father's house are many mansions.

1. This text implies that this house is supported by the activity of the Head and the members. If either of these be deficient, there is a great want. If the members fail, the tithes are wanting; and if, through provocation, the Head fail, the blessing is withheld. In every period, the Church has been supported by the activity of both. The members have supported her by their activity and the performance of duty; and the Head by powerful efficacy and the blessing. It is impossible to mention what both of these have done, and still do.

The members love and attend. They love the habitation of God's house, and prefer a day in his

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