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4. How long they have sung to the melancholy tune: “Until now." They began at Adam's fall, and they have groaned over since, and travailed on till the apostles' days, but they had not done with it then. Nay, they have groaned and travailed till now in our days, long five thousand seven hundred years, and yet their burden is not off their backs, nor have they get got their sorrows cast out. And how long it may be to their delivery, we know not. But one thing we know, it will never be till the world end by the general conflagration, when the new heavens and the new earth may rise, like the phenix, out of their own ashes.—We have,
Lastly, The auditory that listens to the mournful concert: We, “ We know," &c. “ We believers, we serious Christians, hear and certainly know the mournful ditty." Can the shepherd who is sent to notice the sheep, not observo when they make their moan for lack of their food, especially when the whole flock is crying together? Were all the men of a city groaning of their wounds, and all the women travailing in pains together, that person must be deaf that would not hear the sound, and he must have an heart of adamant that would not be affected. Bnt the whole creation, above us and about us, are groaning and travailing together, and that for our sakes; yet a sinful generation has no ears to hear, no heart to be affected with it, and with sin which is the cause. But serious Christians, awake to it, cannot miss to hear, and their ears affect their hearts. You will observe, that they hear it distinctly, not confusedly, as we apprehend sometimes we hear a thing, which we are not sure whether it be a real voice, or only an illusion of the fancy. We know, says the apostle, we are sure, it is no fancy. Some creatures have a voice that every body can hear. But there is no creature so mate, but a serious Christian, whose senses are exercised, can discern its voice. David could hear the silent heavens, day and night, and also know their meaning, Psalm xix. 1, 2; and verse 3, " There is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard.” O that we could hear their voice this day! and that their groans and cries might pierce our hearts for sin.
This subject is highly important.-There is contained in it the three following doctrines, which in their order we propose to consider.
Doct. I. That the whole creation, made for the use of man, groans under the sin of man.
Doct. II. That the creatures' pains, under the sin of man, aro travailing pains, sore indeed, but hopeful, they will in due season be delivered from them.
Doct. III. That the whole creation makes a mournful concert in the ears of serious Christians, by their groans under man's sin.
We begin with
Doct. I. That the whole creation made for the use groaneth under the sin of man.
What is to be offered on this doctrine shall be comprehended under the three following heads of discourse.
I. In what respects the creation, or creatures are said to groan; for many of them, as the earth, &c. are properly incapable of groaning.
II. What distresses the creatures so much, that they groan? What has man's sin done to them, to make them groan under it?
III. Now, and by what right, can the harmless creatures be made to groan for our sake? They have not sinned. True, these poor sheep what have they done?
IV. I shall add a practical improvement of the subject.
I am, then, to shew in what respects the creation, or the creatures are said to groan, for many of them, as the earth, &c. are properly incapable of groaning.--Here I observe,
1. That the sensible part of the creation really groans, each after its kind : 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.” The beasts, the birds, all that can groan, do groan. And these may be admitted as the mouth of the rest; they groan out their own misery, and the misery of their mate-fellows, that are in the same condemnation with them, while they stand about, as it were, looking on, like a company of foreigners, one of whom only being capable of speaking our language, speaks for the rest.
2. The whole creation appears in a mournful mood and groaning posture. The sun, the eye of the world, has often a veil drawn over it for many days; and he with the rest of the lights of heaven are covered with blackness, like mourners. The earth, trees and plants upon it, lay aside their ornaments, and every head among them is bald ; because man, whom they were appointed to serve, is slain by the great murderer, the devil; therefore all his servants are gono into mourning
3. The whole creation, if they could, would groan, for they have good reason, as we will see afterwards. As our Lord says, Luke x. 40, "If these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out.” The pressure they are under would make them groan, if they had sense or reason to understand it. It is God's goodness to man that his sense of hearing is not more quick than it is, otherwise he could never have rest, there being always some noise
in the world. And it is well for man that the creatures cannot represent their misery as it deserves, otherwise they would deafen him with their complaints, and make him continually uneasy with their groans.
4. The Spirit of God is grieved, and groaneth (so to speak) in the creatures. God is every where present, quickening, influencing, preserving, and governing all the creatures, according to their several natures : Acts xvii. 25, " Seeing he giveth to all, life, and breath, and all things :" Heb. i. 3,“ Upholding all things by the word of his power.” The sun cannot shine without him; nor the earth produce its fruits, nor its fruits be serviceable to man, without him. Whatever is profitable or pleasant in the creatures, is but some drops of the divine goodness distilled into them, for his glory and man's good, Hence it is evident, that the abuse done to the creatures riseth to God himself. As if a mother having suitably sweetened the meat to a child, he should, after all, throw it away, his doing so is a wrong to her as well as the abused creature. Therefore, the abusing of God's works is forbidden in the third commandment, under the notion of taking God's name in vain. For the creature's goodness is in effect God's goodness : “For there is none good but one, that is, God,” Matth. xix. 17. And therefore (with
. reverence be it spoken) God groans from the creatures against sinners: Amos ii. 13, "Behold, (says God), I am pressed under you, as a cart is pressed that is full of sheaves.” And as the Lord from heaven cried to Saul, Acts ix. 4, “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me ?" so, if men had ears, to hear, the drunkard, for instance, might hear God, from the creature, saying, “ Man, why abusest thou me ?" &c.
Lastly, Serious Christians groan in behalf of the creatures. Man was made to be the mouth of the creatures, to speak out what they could not: for which cause God gave him a tongue and speech, therefore called his glory. When sin entered, man's mouth was closed in that respect. When grace comes into the soul, the Lord says, “ Ephphatha,” that is, " be opened,” Mark vii. 34. So man becomes the mouth of the creation again, Psalm xix. 1. Thus believers, seeing the reason the creatures have to groan, groan out their case for them, acknowledging, before God and the world, the misery and hard case they are brought into by man's sin.
II. We come now to inquire, what distresses the creatores so much, that they groan? What has man's sin done to them, to make them groan under it?
Why, truly, they got a large share of the curse to bear for man's sake : Gen. iii. 17,“ Cursed," said God to Adam, " is the ground
for thy sake.” The curse coming upon man is also felt upon the earth. Wherefore, but because of its relation to man? It bears him, and feeds him. And if so, that curse would spread to the visible heavens that cover him, and afford him light, and that nourish the earth which nourishes him. If this be not enough, remember they are all to go to the fire together at length; and surely that makes it. So thus man's sin, as brimstone, is scattered on his habitation: 2 Pet. iii. 10, “ But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat : the earth also, and the works that are therein, shall be burnt up.” Verse 11," Seeing then, all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought we to be, in all holy conversation and godliness ?"
This curse has subjected the creature to vanity. It has squeezed much of the fat out of it that was put into it at the creation; and from a full ear has brought it to an empty husk. And it is thereby also in bondage to corruption. It is made a stage of sin, a scene of misery, and liable to destruction as such. But to come to particulars.
1. The whole creation, by man's sin, has fallen far short of its beneficial and nutritive quality, in comparison of what it originally was at its creation. Man has not that benefit of the creatures for which they were appointed at first. While he stood, such sap and nourishment was in them, that could have afforded him all things for necessity, convenience, and delight, without toil. But sin gave them such a shock, that much of that sap is shaken out of them, and 80 man must now wring hard to get but a very little nourishment from them. This makes so much barrenness in the earth, which so meanly rewards all the toil of the husbandman. It brings forth thorns and thistles plentifully, under the influence of that curse, while it makes a very sober increase otherwise. And what is the procuring cause of all this but sin ? Psalm cvii. 34, “ He turneth a fruitful land into barrenness, for the wickedness of them that dwell therein." We see how it is bound up, that the beasts of the field cannot get their food. And if the influences of the heavens were not restrained, it would not be so ; the earth would not be iron, if the beavens were not brass. Under this vanity the whole creation groaneth.
2. The whole creation, by man's sin, has come far short of its ultimate end, the honour and glory of God. God's revenue of glory from the creature is mightily diminished by the sin of man. The whole creation was made to be a book, wherein man might read the name of God; a stringed instrument, by which men were to praise him; a looking-glass, in which to behold his glory. But, alas! sin has drawn a veil over our eyes. Men may say they are unlearned, and cannot read more than what may make the.n inexcusable : “ For the invisible things of God, from the creation of the world, are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse," Rom. i. 20. The book is as it were sealed. They have lost the art of praising; hence the instrument is hung by, being to little purpose in the possession of such persons. They care not for belolding his glory, therefore the looking-glass is overlooked, and very little use is made of it. Under this vanity they groan also.
3. The nature of the whole creation is in some sort altered. When God looked on his creatures, he saw that they were very good, Gen. i. 31. And that is a sad alteration that makes them groan. Sin has cast the whole creation into a feverish disorder. There is an evil which accompanies them now, that they long to be rid of. Man complains and groans onder the evil of the creatures, and they complain and groan under him. The transgression of man is beavy on the earth, and the case of the earth bound up from his service is heavy upon him. Where is the creature that has no evil about it now? The sun sometimes scorches man, and burns up the fruits of the ground; at other times his absence makes the earth as iron, that he cannot stand before the cold. The air often sickens and kills him. The distempered winds often sink him in the sea, out of the earth, where he is to get his meat, sometimes he meets with poisonous herbs. What is the cause of all this? Impute it not to the creatures as they came from the creating hand of God, but to the fall of man, whom nothing could have hurt, had he stood in his integrity.
4. The creature has fallen into the hands of God's enemies, and is forced to serve them. When man stood, all the creatures were at his beck, and were ready to come to him at his call. But when he left God, all the creatures would havo left him, the sun would have sbined no more on him, the air would have refused his breathing in it, the earth would not have fed nor carried him more, if God had not subjected them anew to him; Rom. viii. 20, “For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope." We see how far some of them have gone in renouncing their service to him, Job xxxix. 7, 8.. And ver. 9, “ Will the unicorn be willing to serve thee, or abide by thy crib?" And they would all have left their service, as a faithful
? servant will leave his master, when he goes out in rebellion against