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the destruction of Antichrift, I have mentioned fome conjectures and calculations about the time of his fall : though I think none should be too bold or peremptory in fixing the precise time, but all ought to wait patiently until God's set time shall come. All may now perceive Antichrist visibly risen and discovered. Nay, we have seen him arrived at his pomp and height about 1500 years after Christ. Since that time the Lord hath begun to waste and consume him, by the revival of religion and learning in the world. As his rise was gradual, so shall his consumption be. He hath now been labouring under a deadly consumption above these 200 years past. The wound given him is deep and mortal; so whatever pains be taken sometimes to heal it, all shall be in vain: For, as Christ must increase, fo Antichrist must decrease, and be quite ruined at length, as is shewed in the following Discourses. May all the lovers of Christ pray fervently, and look out for that blessed and joyful time.
BALM OF GILEAD,
A DISEASED LAND
Jer. viii. 20, 21, 22. The barvest is pas, the summer is ended, and we are not saved. For the hurt of the daughter of my people am I huri, I am black: Afonishment hath taken hold of me. Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no pbysician there? Why sben is not the bealth of the daughter of my people recovered?
N the preceding part of this chapter we have reprebring upon a sinful people, and the consternation the whole land should be in upon the alarm thereof. The fins of Judah were come to a great height, whereby God was provoked to let loose the Chaldeans against them. The prophet was himself an eye witness of the oppression and desolation of his country and the church of God by the Chaldean army; and he foresaw ftill greater judgments and calamities coming upon them, whereby both he and the serious people of the land were greatly affected, and put to lament their case before the Lord. Among other things, they iament the disappointment of their expectation of healing and deliverance from distress, ver. 15, « We looked for peace, but no good came, and for a time of health, and behold trouble.” They sometimes had hopeful and promising seasons, when they expected relief; but after all their waiting they were disappointed; these likely times of healing were lost. Hence they are put to say, “ The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved." Summer and harvest are proper seasons of action, opportunities for armies to take the field, to subdue enemies, and bring about deliverance for an oppressed people : The winter that follows is not a fit season for action. It is fad when likely reasons, for saving a people from temporal enemies and grievances, are loit ; but it is yet fadder for them to lose hopeful and promising seasons for saving of their souls. The loss of such harvest or summer-days for our souls is the greatest ground of lamentation. The prophet being deeply sensible of his peoples loss and calamitous condition, he is grievously diftressed for them, ver. 21. “ For the hurt of the daughter of my people am I hurt, I am black,” &c. The daughter of my people is a common Hebraism ufed in scripture, and it fignifies the body of the people of Judah, which was God's visible church upon earth; their hurt and distress did affect the holy man in the most tender manner, and drew forth his fympathy with them. Upon this account, faith he, “I am black," I have lost my wonted colour, my face is turned blackish, or I go in black, as mourners do. I am astonished and troubled the more that I see no appearance of relief for them in their distress, their cafe seems to be hopeless and incurable. Upon which he puts the question, ver. 22. “ Is there no balm in Gia lead? Is there no physician there? Why then," &c. Is there no balm for the distressed church, no physician for a diseased land? It is generally thought the question doth not import any despair or denial of help, but rather the contrary, as if he had said, Is there no balm ? Is there not a Physician? Yes, there is. The incurableness of their disease is not owing to the want of balm, or of a Physician in the land, but to them. felves and their unbelief. There was a susficient remedy in God, and in the Messiah, for all their grievances, had they accepted and applied the fame. Hence he adds that pertinent question, “ Why then is not the health of the daughter of my people recovered " q. d. What is the cause, then, or to whom is it to be imputed, that the church or people of Judah do ftill lie in a dying cafe? surely not to the balm nor to the phyfician, but to their own folly and obstinacy.
Queft. What is here meant by the balm of Gilead ?
Ans. The land of Gilead, on the other side Jordan, was a part of the country of Israel, where that plant grew, which afforded a most precious balın for healing, when it was pierced ; which was a rare and valuable commodity that other countries did traffick for with the land of Israel, Jer. xlvi 11. Ezek. xxvii. 17. Au we see in Gen. xxxvii. 25. the Ishmaelites that bought Jofeph, carried balm from Gilead into Egypt. Naturalists fay, this talm was a juice or oil that run from a certain low fhrub, when its bark was cut, that grew especially about Jericho, in the land of Gilead, and was of great value, as having a sovereign virtue to cleanse foul fores, heal deep wounds, help the eye. fight, cure the stings of serpents, yea, it was a sort of catholicon that cured almost all diseases. This balm we may look upon as a fit type to represent Christ's blood, which is an excel. lent balm and catholicon for all diseases of the foul : For God's dispensations to the Israelites were generally designed as types and figns of spiritual things under the New Testament times, according to 1 Cor. x 11. “ All these things happened unto them for ensamples.” Orig. TUPOI, for types.” And, among the reft, this balni of Gilead was typical and instructive to the virtue of the Meffiah's blood; for feeing God vouchfafed this balm to Israel only, and made other nations beholden to them for it, it teacheth us that the balm for healing fouls is only in the church of God, and Christ is the true antitype of this balm ; for in Judah's land only was Christ known, there they had his blood daily typified to them in the facrifices, and its virtue Yet forth.
Again, the Physician of Gilead is next mentioned, because physicians use to abound where there is plenty of good medicines. The Balm and Physicians in Gilead are figuratively brought in here to point out the plenty of good means of health that were still in Israel, for recovering them from their languishing confumption, if they had made a right ufe of them. As they had God himself, and the Messiah and his Spirit which he had promised to them, to look to for relief; so they had plenty of under means and physicians appointed them. They had God's law, the temple, the ordinances, the altar, and facrifices. They had also the printces, the priefts, and prophets, whose business it was to redress grievances, reform the nation, and apply to heaven for help So that if the health of the church and nation was not restored, it was not for want of balm, or a physician; nay, God had plentifully provided excellent means and remedies for their cure : And if their disease be deadly, or their wound incurable, it must be owing to themselves, and to their del perate wilfulness or incorrigibleness in fin, and to their refusing to submit to the Physician's directions and method of cure.
The words being thus opened up, give ground for the following heads of doctrine.
I. The case of those is very lamentable, who lose their harvest and summer days of grace.
IL Every gracious spirit is a public spirit, and will lay to heart the calamitous case of the church or country whereof he is a member.
III. However defperate the difeafes of those within the church may feem to be, yet if they die of them, it will be owing to themselves, seeing they have such an able Physician, and excellent balm to look to for healing.
It is the last of these doctrines, I mainly intend to hand and inlift upon ; wherefore I shall the more briefly touch the two first as introductory to it.
I. Doct. The case of those is very lamentable who lose their harvest and fummer days of grace: or their most hopeful and likely seasons of salvation,