« AnteriorContinuar »
size and design to make you so: and I could not think on a more probable mean to accomplish this honest design, than what I have here used. Methinks it should be a pleasure to you, when you come weary out of the fields from plow, or any other labour to sit down in the evening, and read that chapter which concerns that particular business, and refresh your souls, even from that which hath wearied your bodies. Were your hearts but heavenly, and more time allowed for spiritual husbandry, your inward comforts would be much more, and your outward gains not a jot less; for if the success of all your civil labours and employments depend upon the pleasure and will of God, (as all that are not atheists do acknowledge) then, certainly, your business can succeed never the worse for your endeavours to* please him, upon whose pleasure it so entirely depends. I have many times lifted up my heart to heaven, whilst these papers were under my hand, for a special bk-fling to accompany them, when they should be in yours. If the Lord accomplish my desires by them upon your fouls you (shall enjoy two heavens, one here, and another hereafter. Would not that be sweet? The historian tells us, that Aititrus Serarius was lowing corn in the field, when Q. Cincinnatus came, to him bare-headed with letters from the senate, signifying, that he was chosen to the dictatorship. I hope the Lord will so bless and succeed these la'boiars, that many of you will be called from holding the plow on earth, to wear the crown of glory in heaven; which is the sincere desire of
Your hearty well-wisher,
The AUTHOR to the READER,
COME you, whose list'ning ears do even itch
Tis so indeed; thou wouldst not go thy way - "V
Like one that's disappointed, and ib fling . ;;
The book aside. I thought 't was some such thing.
Time was when country Christians did afford
More hours and pains about God's holy word:
Witness the man who did most gladly pay
For some few leaves his whole care-load of hay.
And time shall be, when heavenly truth that warms
The heart, shall be preferr'd before your farms;
When holiness, as sacred scripture tells,
Shall be engraven on the horse's bells.
Lord, hasten on those much desired times,
And, to that purpose, bless those rural rhymes.
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I Cor. iii. o. Ye are God's Husbandry.
r I *HE scope and design of the following chapters, being the fpi
I ritual improvement of husbandry, it will be necessary, by way otproem, to acquaint the reader with the foundation, and general rules of this art in the scriptures, thereby to procure greater respect unto, and prevent prejudices against composures of this kind.
To this end, I shall entertain the reader a little while upon what this scripture affords, which will give a fair introduction to the following discourse. s
The apostle's scope in the context being to check and repress the vain glory and emulation of the Corinthians, who, instead of thankfulness for, and an humble and diligent improvement of the excellent bleflings of the ministry, turned all into vain ostentation and emulation, one preferring Paul, and another Apollos; in the mean time depriving themselves of the choice bleflings they might have received from them both.
To cure this growing mischief in the churches, he checks their vanity, and discovers the evil of such practices by several arguments, amongst which this is one,
Ye are Gad's Husbandry, q. d.
What are ye, but a field or plot of ground, to be manured and cultivated for God? And what are Paul, Apollos, and Cephas, but so many workmen and labourers, employed by God, the great Husbandman, to plant and water you all?
If, then, you shall glory in some, and despise others, you take the ready way to deprive yourselves of the benefits and mercies you might receive from the joint ministry of them all. God hath used me to plant you, and Apollos to water you; you are obliged to bless him far the ministry of both, and it will be your sin if you despise either. If the workmen be discouraged in their labours, it is the field that loses and suffers by it; so the words are a similitude, serving to illustrate the relation,
1. Which the churches have to God.
2. Which God's ministers have to the churches.
1. The relation betwixt God and them is like that of an husbandman to his ground or tillage. The Greek word signifies God's *arable, or that plot of ground which God manures, by the ministry of pastors and teachers.
2. It serves to illustrate the relation that the ministers of Christ sustain to the churches, which is like that of the husbandman's servants to him and his fields; which excellent notion carries in it the perpetual necessity of a gospel ministry. (For what fruit can be expected, where there are none to till the ground ?) As also the diligence, accountablenefs, and rewards which these labourers are to give to, and receive from God, the great Husbandman. All runs into this,
That the life and employment of an husbandman, excellently shadows forth the relation betwixt God and his church, and the relative duties betwixt its ministers and members. Or more briefly thus:
The church is God's husbandry, about which his ministers are employed.
I fliall not here observe my usual method, (intending no more but a preface to the following discourse) but only open the particulars wherein the resemblance consists; and then draw some Corollaries from the whole. The first I shall dispatch in these twenty particulars following:
I. Prop. The husoandman purchases his fields, and gives a valuable consideration for them, Jer. xxxii. 9, 10.
Rcddtt. So hath God purchased his church with a full valuable price, even the precious blood of his own Son, Acts xx. 28. "Feed "the church of God which he hath purchased, or acquired with his « own blood." -O dear-bought inheritance! how much doth this bespeak its worth! Or rather, the high esteem God hath of it, to pay down blood, and such blood for it; never was any inheritance bought at such a rate: every particular elect person, and none but such are comprehended in this purchase; the rest still remain in the devil's right. Sin made a forfeiture of all to justice, upon which Satan entered, and took possession, and, as the strong man armed, still keeps it in them, Luke xi. 21. but upon payment of this sum to justice, the elect (who only are intended in this purchase) pats over into God's right and property, and now are neither Satan's, Actsxxvi. 18. nor their own, 1 Cor. vi. 19. but the Lord's peculiar, 1 Pet. ii. 6. And to (hew how much they are his own, you have two pojfejfives in one verse. Cant, viii, 12. "My vineyard, which is none, is before «' me, mine, which is mine."
* The faithful (or believers) are called God's husbandry, (yturyfyr, gforgne) because God cultivates them as land by means of spiritual teachers (or pallors) Rn.
.2 Prop. Husbandmen divide and separate their own lands from other men's, they have their land-marks and boundaries, by which property is preserved, Deut. xxvii. 17. Prov. xxii. 28.
'Reddit. So are the people of God wonderfully separated and distinguished from all the people of the earth. Psal. iv. 3. "The Lord "hath set apart him that is godly for himself. And the Lord knoweth "who are his," 2 Tim. ii. 1 y. It is a special act of grace, to be inclosed by God out of the waste howling wilderness of the world, Deut. xxxiii. 16. This did God intentionally, in the decree before the world was •, which decree is executed in their sanctification and adoption.
3. Prop. Corn-fields are carefully fenced by the husbandman with hedges and ditches, to preserve their fruits from beasts that would
otherwise over-run and destroy them Non minor ejl virtus quant
qwtrere parta tueri It is as good husbandry to keep what we have, as to acquire more than we had.
Reddit. "My well-beloved hath a vineyard in a very fruitful hill, and he fenced it," Isa. v. 1,2. No inheritance is better defended and secured, than the Lord's inheritance, Psal. exxv. 2. " As the «' mountains are round about Jerusalem, so the Lord is round about (< his people." So careful is he for their safety 'that he createth "upon every dwelling-place of mount Sion, and upon her assem«« blies, a cloud and smoke by day, and the shining of a flaming fire "by night: for upon all the glory shall be a defence," Isa. iv. e. Not a particular saint, but is hedged about and inclosed in arms of power and love, Job i. 10. "Thou hast made a hedge about him," The devil fain would, but by his own confection could not break over the hedge to touch Job, till God's permission made a gap for him: yea, he not only made an hedge, but a wall about them, and that ot fire, Zech. ii. 5. Sets a guard of angels "to encamp round "about them that fear him," Pa. xxxiv. 7. And will not trust them with a single guard of angels neither, though their power be great, and love to the saints as great; but watches over them himself also, Isa. xxvii. 2, 3. "Sing ye unto her, a vineyard of red wine, *' I the Lord do keep it, I will water it every moment; lest any "hurt it, I will keep it night and day."
4. Prop. Husbandmen carry out their compost to fertilize their arable ground, they dung it, dress it, and keep it in heart; and in these western parts are at great charges to bring lime, and salt-water-sand to quicken their thin and cold soil.
Reddit. «« Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it, "and dung it; and if it bear fruit, well, if not, cut it down," Luke xiii. 8. O the rich dressing which God bestows upon his churches f they are costly fields indeed, dress'd and fertilized, not only by precious ordinances and providences, but also by the sweat, yea, blood of the dispensers of them. *' You Londoners (faith Mr Lockier in "Colors. p. 552.) are trees watered choicely indeed; it is storied of "the palm-tree, that at its first transplanting into Italy, it was wa"tered with wine. I cannot fay (faith he) that you have been so "watered by me, I dare not -, but this I can humbly and truly fay, "that if our choicest strength and spirits may be named instead of *• water, wine; or if the bleffing which hath gone along with these "waters, at any time, hath turned them into wine, in vigour upon "your fouls, then hath God by me, watered your roots with wine.'
5. Prop. The husbandman builds his house, where he makes his purchase, dwells upon his land, and frequently visits it; he knows that such as dwell far from their lands, are not far from loss.
Reddit. So doth God; wherever he plants a church, there doth he fix his habitation, intending there to dwell, Psalm xlvi. 5. " God "is in the midst of her," (he shall not be moved. Thus God came to dwell upon his own fee and inheritance, in Judea, Lev. xxvi. 11, 12. "And I will set my tabernacle amongst you, and will be your "God, and ye shall be my people." Which promise is again renewed to his churches of the New Testament, 2 Cor. vi. 16. And when the churches (hall be in their greatest flourish and purity, then shall there be the fullest and most glorious manifestation of the divine presence among them; Rev. xxi. 3. "And I heard a great voice out «' of heaven, saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and "he will dwell with them, and be their God." Hence the assemblies are called, the places of his feet And there they " behold
"the beauty of the Lord," Psalm xxvii.
6. Prop Husbandmen grudge not at the cost they are at for their tillage; but as they lay out vast sums upon it, so they do it cheerfully.
Reddit. "And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem, and men of Ju"dah, judge, I pray you, betwixt me and my vineyard; what could "have been done more to my vineyard, that I have not done in it? And as he bestows upon his heritage the choicest mercies, so he doth it with the greatest cheerfulness; for he faith, Jer. xxxii. 41. " I "will rejoice over them to do them good; and I will plant them in "this land assuredly, with my whole heart, and with my whole ** foul." It is not the giving out of mercy (faith one) that grieveth God, but the recoiling of his mercy back again upon him by the creature's ingratitude.
7. Prop. When husbandmen have been at cost and pains about their husbandry, they expect fruit from it, answerable to their pains and expences about it: "Behold ((aid James) the husbandman waiteth "for the precious fruits of the earth," Jam. v. 7.
Reddit. "And he looked that it should bring forth fruit," Isa. v. Vol. V. D