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THE SAME SUBJECT CONTINUED *.
Rom. viii. 22. For we know that the whole creation
groaneth, and travaileth in pain together until now.
Aving considered in what respects the crea
tion, or creatures, are said to groan, and what distresses the creatures so much that they groan, we now proceed to inquire,
III. How, and by what right, can the harmless creatures be made to groan for our fakes? They have not linned. True, these poor sheep, what have they done?-Here I observe,
1. That there is sovereignty in this groaning. The creatures are all his own, and it is lawful for
him * This Sermon was delivered on a Fast-day, appointed by the Presbytery of which the Author was a member, on occasion of a severe threatening form which then prevailed.-In this discourse, and through the whole of this subject, the Author has evidently a reference to the unnatural rebellion which was then raging, and appears deeply affected with the state of the church and nation w that period.
him to do with his own what he will, Matth. xx. 15. Solomon tells us, Eccles. viii.
« Where the word of a king is, there is power, (Heb. dominion), and who may say unto him, What doest thou ?” God is the great store-master, to whom all the flocks and herds in the world belong : “ The cattle upon a thousand hills are his,”. Pfal. 1. 10. He has given you the use of them, but has reserved the absolute property to himself. You have them in kain, and that is ill paid ; therefore no wonder he take them out of your hand, and dispose of them in another way, whereby he may get the use of them, that is, glory to himself.-i observe,
2. That the creatures are liable to this groaning, because of their relation to finful man, who has a subordinate, limited, providential intereft in them; and that by the fame justice that the whole which a malcfactor has, smarts with him; as it was in the case of Achan, and all that he had, Jolh. vii. 24. The sun is a light to him, therefore it is overclouded; it nourishes his ground, therefore its influences are restrained. The ground feeds his flocks and herds, therefore it is inhibited. They furnish him with necessaries, conveniences, and profits, therefore they suffer. They ítand in a nearer relation to him than other creatures ; they were made the same day, and of the fame earth, and live in the same element with him, and therefore they smart forest, because they are nearest to him, They are nearer, and therefore it is harder with them than with fishes and fowls, which were of the water, and live, the one in the water, the other in the air.--I observe,
3. That the creatures groan because of their usefulness to him, by the time riglit that, in' war,
one takes from his
be of use to that enemy in the war. None scruple to take every thing from an enemy, that so he may be disabled, and yield. Now, God is angry, and carrying on a war with us, which we began ; and to oblige us to yield, he falls on the creatures that are useful to us. Pharaoh will not let Israel
and the cattle, and the very trees and water of Egypt, smart. They kill, swear, lie, steal, commit adultery: Hof. iv. 3. “ Therefore shall the land mourn, and every one that dwelleth therein shall languish, with the beafts of the field, and with the fowls of heaven ; yea, the fishes of the sea also shall be ta
Men are very indifferent about the interest of God, and if they get their own interest seen to, are little concerned as to any thing else ; and therefore God blasts their prospects; as you may see, by consulting Haggai, i. 4.-11.-I observe,
4. That the creatures groan, by the same right one takes a sword from a man wherewith he is running at him. The creatures are idols of jealoufy often to provoke God, and therefore he Itrikes them down. Often, and most juftly, does God punish finners in that wherein they have sinned, so as they may read their sin in their punishment, as in Eli's case, and in Isaac's, Gen. xxv. 28. and xxvi. 35. The farm, and the care about it, often keeps people from the marriage-fupper of the King's Son, Matth. xxii. 5. The Gadarenes, for their liking of swine better than a Saviour, had their wretched idols drowned in the sea.- I observe,
5. That the creatures groan by the same right one takes back his loan, when he gets no thanks for it, but, on the contrary, it is improved against himself : Hof. ii. 8.9. “ For she did not know that
I gave her corn, and wine, and oil, and multiplied her silver and gold, which they prepared for Baal. Therefore will I return, and take away my corn in the time thereof, and my wine in the season thereof, and will recover my wool and my slax given to cover her nakedness.”
Alas! though we are always in God's common, for every thing we have, we are not thankful, we do not remember our holding, but facrifice to our own net. And God's favours with respect to the creatures, though they make people more wealthy, they make them not more holy.
Lastly, I observe, That the creatures groan by the same right a prince levies a fine on a mail, when he might take his life. It is a mercy God deals not with ourselves, as with the creatures for our fake : Sam. iii. 22. “ It is of the Lord's mer. cies that we are not consumed, because his compaffions faił not.” True, men feel the stroke; and good reason, for God makes the creatures groan for that very end, that we may feel it. But we feel only at ihe second hand, though it is we only that are guilty. The bands lying on the earth might have lain on us, and we pinched as fore for our food as the beasts of the field for theirs ; that as our flocks are forced to go to another part of the country, leaving our own hills desolate, so our houfes might have been desolate, families feattered, and sent through the country begging bread. They have had more than
of us, who yet have been brought to such trying circumstances.--It only remains,
IV. THAT wé make some improvement of this doctrine.
1. In an use of information. Let us notice this scripture fulfilled in our days, in this day, and VOL. II.
that in a remarkable manner. There is a mourn: ful concert which the creatures have been making in our ears now for many weeks together, for which we are this day called to fast and humble ourselves.- Hear the groans of the creatures :
(1.) The earth is groaning under us, Deut. xxviii. 23 “ And thy heaven that is over thy head shall be brafs, and the earth that is under thee shall be iron.” God has laid a weight on it, and bound it fo ftrait, that it can get no breathing, there is no perspiration; it can get up nothing. It is run together as lead does after it is melted ; Job, xxxviii. 38. “ When the duft groweth into hardness, and the clods cleave fast together.” Hebrew, “ God has pitched it up, or pitched it all over with frost, as one would do a vessel to keep in the liquor, when they have in view to prevent others drawing from it.”
(2.) The waters groan, for there is a weight on them: Job, xxxviii. 30.
« The waters are hid as with a stone, and the face of the deep is frozen.” Men's sins have taken hold of them, and turned them into dry land : Psal. cvii. 33. “ He turneth rivers into a wilderness, and the water-springs into dry ground.” Verse 34. “ A fruitful field into barrenness, for the wickedness of them that dwell therein." We have bridges of God's making, but these are no more figns of God's favour, than the turning of sea into dry land was to Pharaoh, for it proved his destruction.
(3.) The wild beasts of the field groan for lack of food. They that take the range of the mountains for pasture, are forced into the valleys, and this strait brings them near the dwellings of men, which otherwise they would shun, Hof. iv. 3.
(4.) The fowls of the air groan, and are hard put to it, to make shift for their lives, and they mourn