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their familiarity with God place them! They are his friends, and favourites of heaven. They have an intercourse with the far country. Their hearts are above. They are still in the wilderness. They cannot expect beaven by the way. Trials are necessary. They exercise grace and prove it to be genuine, They increase it, and meeten the Christian for glory, Indeed the saints should believe!
Sinners care for none of these things. Their necessities are great, but they will not ask. They are strangers to God. They hate prayer. If they attempt it, it is only in a cold, formal way, infinitely removed from proving. They know not the value of the blessing, nor the veracity of the promise. They are far from God. If they continue, and will not prove him; he will thrust them still farther, and say, Depart from me Oh sinners, begin, and pray, and prove,
MÁLACHI III. 16.
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.
THE Lord lives. He is Sion's steady friend. Whoever may be against the Church, he is always on her side. If matters prosper, it is owing to his kindness and care. Even when provoked, he is loath to depart. In times of the greatest declension, his affectionate language is, “ How shall I give thee up, Ephraim? how shall I deliver thee, Israel? How shall I make thee as Admah? how shall I set thee as Zeboimi? mine heart is turned within me, my repentings are kindled together.” When provoked to inflict judgment he does it with reluctance. He ardently desires a revival. He uses every mean to produce it. He warns his people of their danger, directs them to the path of duty, and promises the blessing. He wants to be importuned that it may be actually bestowed. He promises that nothing shall obstruct Divine communication, or prevent the bless
ing. Rather than it should be withheld, he promises to open the windows of heaven and pour it out.
Having discussed the previous parts of this text, we now come to that important branch, where God promises to pour out the blessing. While the Lord's blessing is always infinitely excellent in itself, it may convey different ideas, and contains articles in some respects distinct, as it is promised to, or bestowed upon, an individual, or a Church and people. In the words before us, it evidently respected the Church as a collective body, but included something to every individual saint.
IV. We go on to speak of God's promising to pour out the blessing. In considering this important part of the subject, we shall endeavour to explain the blessing, the metaphor of pouring it out, and God's opening the windows of heaven that it may be communicated till there be not room to receive.
Concerning the blessing here promised we shall make the following observations.
1. It includes a removing the curse with its causes and effects. The Lord had cursed them with a curse, even that whole nation. There was, no doubt, at that time a good number of real saints among the Jews; but the greater part were sinners. Corruption and declension were almost universal, and the . Lord was angry with them as a collective body. He called them to bring the tithes into his house, and promised to bless them--that is, he would remove
The curse of God in Scripture most frequently denotes the great sentence of condemnation, under which all the children of Adam equally are, as they come into this world; but sometimes it means a par ticular judgment inflicted on account of some great transgression. In this last sense, sometimes whole nations, and at other times individual offenders, fall under the curse. The greatest part of the Jewish Church were still in their natural state, and so under the curse in the first sense; and the most, if not the whole, were under it in the second. On account of withholding the tithes, they were under present tokens of the Lord's anger. Strictly speaking, real saints cannot be under the curse; but they may have a deep hand in the transgression, and provoke the Lord with their inventions; they may be instrumental in drawing down judgments, and be sbarers along with others in the common calamity. When God promised the blessing, it meant that he would wholly remove the curse in the last sense, and, as to many of them, the great sentence of condemnation. When the blessing should be conferred, many would be converted, and all of them delivered from the
present heavy judgment.
He would also remove the causes of the immediate stroke inflicted on them. These were the sins mentioned in this chapter. He would remove these in respect of guilt, by laying them on the great scapegoat, and bringing many of those who were guilty to consent to this deed, and improve the remedy. He would also put a stop to the prevalence of the sins complained of. The revival of religion would issue