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didst not travail with child: for more is the children of the desolate than the married wife, saith the Lord. Enlarge the place of thy tent, and let them stretch forth the curtains of thine habitations; spare not, lengthen thy cords, and strengthen then thy stakes. For thou shalt break forth on the right-hand, and on the left; and thy seed shall inherit the Gentiles, and make the desolate cities inhabited."
4. It points out that the blessing is under the direction of an infinitely wise God. In however great quantity or variety the blessing may be poured out, still it is by God himself; and it must and will fall where he inclines it. When he opens the natural clouds, the rain falls upon one city and not on another; and so it is, when he comes down as showers upon the mown grass, or as the former and latter rain. He can water a fleece, when all around is dry; or keep the fleece dry, when all around is wet. This proclaims comfort to the poor believer, who is ready to apprehend that he is unnoticed or forgotten. If his fleece is dry now, it will be watered in the Lord's time. It likewise secures the election of grace The Lord knows them that are his. Wherever they are, he will seek them out, and water them with the blessing. No enemy or event can hinder this, more than they can prevent the falling of the rain. At certain times, and from sinful or selfish views, many have wished that the natural rain might not fall; but they never attempted to prevent it. Every method which hell and earth can devise has been tried to obstruct the blessing. The united efforts of deceit and violence have been often employed to prevent
the means of grace from reaching certain places, or being fixed in them. When settled, every attempt has been used to mar the success, and defeat the end. Sometimes the deepest plots have been laid and the strongest exertions made to remove the candlestick out of its place. But sooner shall the drops falling from the clouds be kept from reaching the earth, than the Lord's blessing from reaching those for whom it was designed. The Christian's enemies have all joined in the closest combination to prevent him from enjoying the blessing. Sin tries to separate between him and his God; but all his iniquities shall pass away as a thick cloud. In the same wicked cause Satan makes continued and cruel exertions; but the God of peace shall bruise Satan, and rebuke the devourer. The world too uses every alluring art and terrifying method to prevent him from seeking or receiving the blessing; but more and mightier are they that are with him, than all who can be against him; and he shall be blessed. The most crafty counsels of his enemies shall be defeated, and their most vigorous efforts rendered abortive. Like the natural, the spiritual rain shall fall irresistibly; and the Lord's people shall be watered.
5. This manner of expression has a respect to the Holy Spirit. We have a proof of this, Isai. xliv. 3, "I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods on the dry ground: I will pour my Spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring: and they shall spring up as among the grass, as willows by the water courses." The term pouring out does not
respect the person of the Holy Spirit, as his precious influences. He himself is given absolutely to every saint, and dwells in his heart; but his influences are poured out in various measures. This is intimated, Titus iii. 4-6, " But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour towards man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us by the washing of regeneration, and the renewing of the Holy Ghost; which he shed on us abundantly, through Jesus Christ our Saviour." His quickening and sanctifying, his strengthening and comforting influences are frequently mentioned in Scripture as having qualities and effects corresponding to water and rain. They drop down upon the dry parched ground of the human heart, and make it fruitful in all good works.
In fine, it intimates that the blessing is free. They must be strangers to themselves who think they either deserve the natural rain, or can do any thing to procure it. Though it falls down upon us, it is always without any merit or exertion of ours. The spiritual rain is still more undeserved. If we should never enjoy it till we deserve it, we would suffer an eternal drought. These showers tarry not for man nor wait for the sons of men. The first blessing is preventing; and every succeeding one is free and undeserved. We do much to provoke the Lord to withhold the blessing; but nothing to deserve it.
That the blessing may be poured out, God promises to open the windows of heaven. This expression is significant, forcible, and emphatic
This phrase is seldom used in Scripture, but when mentioned, the occasion is most memorable. It is first used in Gen. vii. 11, where God opened the windows of heaven to pour out his wrath and indignation on the old world, and the rain was so violent, and of such continuance, that not a living creature escaped, except the few who were in the ark. Were we to contrast with this, God's opening the windows of heaven to pour out a blessing, it would open a field for the most pleasing and profitable considerations. We have another account of the windows of heaven in 2 Kings vii. 1, 2, where Elisha prophesied that plenty was just at hand, but a great man said, "Behold, if the Lord would make windows in heaven, might this thing be?" The reply to Elisha was in the language of unbelief, and plainly intimated that such a thing was most unlikely, and altogether impossible without a miracle, and even in a miraculous way most improbable. With its ingenuity, faith should take the weapon of Satan and unbelief, and employ it against themselves. Speaking of opening the windows of heaven to pour out a blessing, with an allusion to this passage, affords these precious truths :that the Lord can and will bless, when to carnal and reason it seems wholly impossible: that rather than the Lord will not bless his people, he ́will act as a wonder-working God, and perform miracles of mercy: and that when God has said he will bless, faith may safely rely upon his word, and expect the blessing in spite of every obstacle.
As the windows of heaven literally mean the clouds-the vehicles of rain; spiritually they mean
the prophecies and promises which are the vehicles of Divine influences. When God promises to open the windows of heaven, and pour blessings on the New Testament church, he particularly means that to them should be accomplished the Old Testament prophecies and promises. When these were given, they were in a great measure sealed and locked up; but in New Testament times, they are all set open and pour out their precious contents. Of old, the church had only the shadow; now she has the substance. Spiritual blessings in their progress may be
mpared to the waters which issued out from under the threshold of the sanctuary, Ezek. xlvii. 1-6. At first they were to the ankles; afterwards to the loins; and at last they became waters to swim in, a river that could not be passed over. Of old, the windows of heaven might be compared to a cloud like a man's hand; now, and especially in the latter day glory, they become so great as to cover the heaven. Then the Lord, as it were, sprinkled his blessings only on a few in the land of Judea; now he opens the windows of heaven and pours them out plentifully and extensively. To the New Testament belongs the accomplishment of the beautiful prophecy, Hos. i. 10, 11, "Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be as the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured, nor numbered, and it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people, there it shall be said unto them, Ye are the sons of the living God. Then shall the children of Judah, and the children of Israel, be gathered together, and appoint themselves one head,