« AnteriorContinuar »
and they shall come up out of the land: for great shall be the day of Jezreel." And also, chap. ii. 23, "I will have mercy upon her that had not obtained mercy and I will say to them which were not my people, Thou art my people; and they shall say, Thou art my God."
The idea of opening the windows of heaven to pour out the blessing intimates that the Lord will bless in the appointed way. Naturally, the way to remove famine is to open the clouds and send rain. At the end of a great famine, recorded 1 Kings xviii. 41, Elijah prayed and it rained. When our heavens over our heads are made brass, and the earth that is under us as iron, famine must ensue; but when the rain comes, in the language of Hosea, the heaven hears the earth, and the earth Jezreel. It is exactly so with spiritual blessings. The Lord makes his people feel their need, and cry to him. He hears from heaven, pours out the blessing, and produces spiritual plenty.
The manner of expression points out the heavenly origin of spiritual blessings. They come from above. A man can receive nothing except it be given him from above. No blessing can reach us without the appointment and gift of God. Salvation is wholly of grace. God alone can open the windows of heaven, and he only can open our shut hearts. He removes every obstacle in the way of the blessing, both on his part and ours.
In fine, we cannot think of the windows of heaven being opened without recollecting God's cheerfulness in pouring out the blessing. He opens these windows
as a proof that his heart is not shut, that he is rich in mercy, and delights to give. This promise proves that his bowels yearn to his people, and that he is loath to give up with them. Opening these windows, he pours out blessings that there shall not be room enough to receive. He removes all their ills, and supplies all their wants. He defends them against all attacks, and supports them in every trial. He will make all who plead his promise, and prove him, happy without interruption or end! We shall now subjoin a few inferences.
1. This subject points out the nature and effects of sin. It pours contempt upon God's authority, and neglects the duties enjoined by him. While highly dishonouring to God, it is hurtful to the sinner, draws down judgments, and, if persisted in, will land him in hell. Here it brought on a famine, and provoked God to withhold the blessing. The sins of believers cannot be less provoking, but are often more heinous. God's jealousy burns hottest near his altar. Though he forgives the iniquities of his people, he takes vengeance of their inventions. God has many ways of pleading a controversy with his own people, with which the world is unacquainted. He takes away his Spirit, and hides his face. He frowns in his providential dispensations. As the saints by their provocations have a great hand in drawing down judgments, they often suffer signally in the common calamity. The most favoured saints at this time felt the severity of famine, as well as the most careless sinners.
2. It points out the nature and design of the judgments inflicted on a professing people. They are chastisements and punishments for past sins. They are calculated to bring sin to remembrance, without which none can be suitably exercised about their former iniquities. Judgments have a gracious design as to futurity. They are intended to turn men from the evil of their ways, and reclaim them. Their language is, Turn you at my reproof. They are always mixed with mercy, and these on whom they are inflicted may say, we will sing of mercy and judgment." In general they are an evidence that God has not said concerning a people, "Let them alone." They are often heaviest where God has the greatest design of grace. This is implied in his address to Israel, Amos iii. 2, "You only have I known of all the families of the earth; therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities." They are designed in a particular manner as warnings to fly from the wrath to come, and should be viewed as coming from God with this inscription, "I hate sin, and must punish it; I have borne long, and your cup is full: my patience is abused, and I must strike the stroke: if temporal judgments are so grievous, what must future wrath be! Be warned, and fly from it: now consider this, ye that forget God, lest I tear you in pieces, and there be none to deliver."
3. Proper work and exercise under tokens of the Lord's anger. We should perform duty, and pay the tithes. Prosperity without the performance of duty is cursed; and these calamities and afflictions which do not bring us back to duty are unsanctified. With
off his sloth, and exert himself to prevent them. Often is the sinner warned that the storm of Divine wrath hangs over his head, and that it will burst forth in the most tremendous peals at death. He is repeatedly told that now is the accepted time, and day of salvation. The example of others, labouring after the meat which endures to everlasting life, is set before him. He is often put in mind of the importance of eternity, and that it is a most intolerable thing to dwell with everlasting burnings. In some degree he allows the force of such arguments, and has some conviction in his own mind of the propriety of them; but if they have any effect at all, it is only such as leaves him still in the same situation.
4. He looks upon those, who reprove his present course, and advise the contrary, as his worst enemies; or at least as officious intruders disturbing his peace. We have just said, that often he partly allows the propriety of what they say, gives a tacit consent, or does not openly contradict them; but whatever he says, he entertains a secret aversion, and despises them in his heart. Though, perhaps, he does not tell it, the effect of all their reasoning, instead of amendment, is irritation. He finds them disturbing, and trying to break, his present repose. They force his mind the vexing thoughts of future straits, and plague him by pointing out his present duty. How descriptive is all this of the spiritual sluggard! He feels a strong aversion to every method used to break the snare, and bring him to thoughtfulness about eternity. Sometimes the assiduity and entreaties of his nearest friends have so provoked him,
that, breaking over the ties of natural affection, he has left them to see them no more, and exposed himself to many hardships to get rid of their troublesome advice and tormenting reproof. Public ordinances faithfully dispensed have often proved so pungent to his heart as to make him desert them. He found he could not attend and sleep too. They stript him of all his excuses, till at last he said of them as Ahab of Micaiah, "I hate him, for he doth not prophesy good concerning me but evil." Nay more, the holy law of God itself irritates his heart, and "sin taking occasion by the commandment works in him all manner of concupiscence." The restraint which the holy law of God lays upon corrupt nature makes it more passionate and rebellious. This does not arise from any evil design or tendency in the law itself, but from the desperate wickedness of the human heart. As a full and complete proof of his reckoning those his greatest enemies who do all they can to reclaim him, he flies to persons of the same cast with himself, and tells them all the difficulties he apprehends he has been exposed to from those, who would force their own gloomy sentiments on others, and turn the world upside down. His heart feels vast complacency in opening itself to one of a similar character, and it seems to alleviate his misery. They strengthen one another's hands, try to stifle every conviction, and resolve to sleep on, and allow no one whatever to disturb them. They open their hearts to one another concerning the sweetness of repose, and the difficulty of always poring on death, hell, and other forbidding objects of the same nature. They even begin