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after their kind, for the hand of God is hcavy upon them : Hor. iv. 3. “ Therefore shall the land mourn, and every one that dwelleth therein shall languish ; with the beasts of the field, and with the fowls of heaven, yea, the fishes of the sea shall be taken away.”
(5.) The flocks groan, for God has locked up their pasture : Joel, i. 18. “ How do the beasts groan ? the herds of cattle are perplexed, because they have no pasture ; yea, the flocks of sheep are made desolate." They are fruitful creatures, but God threatens to pluck up the tree with its fruit;-harmless, yet they fadly suffer for the fins of men, their owners ;-useful creatures, and because of their singular usefulness, a singular weight of the stroke lies on them. They cannot help themselves, and men cannot help them; so they groan and cry unto the Lord : Joel, i. 20. « The beasts of the field cry also unto thee: for the rivers of water are dried up, and the fire hath devoured the pastures of the wilderness."
(6.) The heavens groan, Deut. xxviii. 23. (quoted already), for God has laid them under arrest. They have been long crying that their influences are bound up, but God has not yet heard them : Hor. ii. 21. " And it shall come to pass in that day, I will hear the heavens, and they shall hear the earth.” The machine of the world, in some sort, has long stood; because God has holden still the heavens, the main spring ; but the heavens cannot help the earth, nor the earth the grass, nor the grass the beasts of the field, till God lee meet.
2. We may learn, that when the whole creation groans for man's fake, it is no wonder God make man himself to groan heavily. It has been a groaning time through Scotland now for a long D 2
rime, and these groans are not over yet.
God grant they be not but beginning !
(1.) The nation is groaning under the weight of two armies, which, whether friends or foes, must needs be heavy to a poor land, that has enough ado to maintain itfelf. Befides, that as the world is now distempered by the corruptions of men, it is morally impossible but that violence, rapines, and other disorders, will fall out in such a cafe, which fome heavily feel, however eafy others may live, and that whether the armies be for or against us. It is groaning under a most caufelefs rebellion, raised by men of a perverse, malignant, Antichristian spirit, who, to get a limb of Antichrift on the throne, and to ruin religion, have made all this disagreeable work. Hence the nation groans under a drawn sword, deeply bathed in blood, and thirsting for more. The blood of many
has been shed in the field like water, many precious souls sent to eternity in a moment, in the hurry of war, and the carcafes of men laid like dung in the open field ; parents left childless, children fatherless, and their mothers widows, while the lives of many others are made to them more bitter than death. Into what a wretched cafe have many of the nobility and gentry of Scotland brought themfelves! which, though it be the just judgement of God upon them, for which we are to praise him, yet it makes the nation groan, as the cutting off a gangrened member is painful to the whole body. Thus David lamented over Saul, 2 Sam. i. 17. The northern parts of the nation have been long groaning, who have had many months of that oppression, of which the southern parts have had but a few days, and yet made fo great anoutcry. Some groaning there, because their houses arv made unpleafant to them; fome, because they and
their families are scattered; some groaning because they are harassed; others, because they are foli
(2.) The church is groaning for the weight of the Lord's anger gone out against her. Our mother is in mourning, and the gates of Zion lament. She groans under the weight of these mischievous decrees laid on in the latter end of the last reign, not yet removed, by which she is greatly opprefled, - under our own unchristian divisions, by which she is rent into many pieces ;-under the just withdrawing of her Lord, by which she is become heartless. Many congregations of the land are groaning under the want of gospel-ordinances, the weight of filent Sabbaths. Her serious ministers and members are groaning, while they behold, on every hand, matter of lamentation and woe. Nay, she is groaning this day, to see the great red dragon standing before her to swallow her up. A linib of Antichrist set up for a king, to be a captain, to lead back the nation to Egypt, and to give the kingdom, if he had it at his will, to the Romih beast that supports the whore. Her members are in no good case to give a draught of their blood to the scarlet-coloured whore, and therefore in hazard to drink the cup of the wine of her fornication, if she had once access to put it to them.
Thus the church and nation are groaning together. No sort of persons, from the throne to the dung-hill, are exempted. Our only rightful and lawful Sovereign, our Protestant King, whom God, by an admirable step of favourable providence, brought seasonably to the throne, groáns for the unnatural rebellion raised against him. The nobles and gentry, who used to escape other strokes, smart under the confusions in the land by that means. Ministers have a load of many weights to
groan under this day; and to all the rest, not a few of them are threatened with suffering for a cause which their fouls abhor as much as any in the nation. People of all forts groan; the husbandman, because the earth, being as iron, will not allow his labouring ; and the store-masters, because of the particular distress of the beasts of the field.
3. This lets us see what is the cause of all this groaning. Is there not a cause ? Yes; men's sins are the cause of all the distress on the creatures, and on themselves. We have procured all our miseries with our own hands. All ranks in the land have gone out of course, and therefore the very creation is put out of its course : Isa. xxiv. 20. «« The earth shall reel to and fro like a drunkard, and shall be removed like a cottage, and the tranfgreflion thereof shall be heavy upon it, and it shall fall, and not rise again.”:- The Lord is contending
(1.) Because that the fins of our fathers have not been fufficiently mourned over by the generasion. National perjury and bloodshed are crying fins that are making the land to mourn this day. Without controversy, God is fulfilling that fcripture in our eyes this day, Lev. xxvi. 25.
" And I will bring a sword upon you, that shall avenge the quarrel of my covenant; and when you are gathered together within your cities, I will send the peftilence among you, and ye
shall be delivered into the hand of the enemy."
God is making inquisition for the blood of the slain witnesses of Je
and it will be a wonder if, before the quarrel be ended, God make not the lives of hundreds of others
go for one of theirs. I have sometimes thought, O! why has God made choice of poor Scotland, to be the field of blood? Are there not fins against God in the neighbouring land, as well
as amongst us?' But I have been filenced by this consideration, Scotland was the place where the witnesses were flain, in a special manner, in the fate times : « True and righteous are thy judgements, O Lord !”—The Lord is contending with us,
(2.) Because of the atheism and contempt of God in the land. Matters were come to that pafs under the light of the gospel, that all religion was laughed at by many; fo that there was a necessity that God, by some new argument, fhould prove the truth of his being, which he has already done, to the cost of many that were deeply engaged in these atheistical ways. May God bear it home on their consciences, that at least they may get their precious souls for a prey !--The Lord is contending
( 3 ) Becaufe of the horrid profanity of the generation : Hof. iv. 1.--3. “ Hear the word of the Lord, ye children of Israel ; for the Lord hath a controversy with the inhabitants of the land, because there is no truth, nor mercy, nor knowledge of God, in the land. By swearing, and lying, and killing, and stealing, and committing adultery, they break out, and blood toucheth blood. Therefore fhall the land mourn, and every one that dwelleth therein shall languifh, with the beasts of the field, and with the fowls of heaven ; yea, the (fishes of the sea also shall be taken away." How many are there up and down the land, that glory in their shame, and take a pleasure to affront the God that made them by their profane courfes. Can these things efcape a mark of God's difpleasure? It has broken in like a food, and gone through the land ; so that they are indeeď but rare persons who have not entertained one branch or another of it; either they are fwearers, or liars,