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expressive of the fertility of those converts in whom the grace of God shall visibly shine forth, and the effects produced in them shall be beauty and comeliness. As corn, when revived by rain and sun, is glorious to the eye, and is a most striking display of the power of God, and his goodness to us his creatures. So the revival of the church, in the return of multitudes which had been scattered from her, will be a most acceptable sight. They shall revive as the corn, which flourishes and grows the better, and is the more acceptable in our view, after a long and hard winter. And thus having given you the best account of this part of my subject I could, I proceed to the next proposed head of the same, which is this ;
III. To shew and set forth the growth of these converts, thus returned to the church; who, being received into it, and protected by it, and being hereby under the shadow of the same, are revived as the corn, and grow as the vine: or, as it is in the margin, blossom. They shall blossom, or grow as the vine. It is an absolute promise. No part of it depends on these persons, yet it is all to be fulfilled in them. That you may not lose the connexion, I will again recite the whole verse. They that dwell under his shadow shall return; they shall revive as the corn, and blossom, and grow as the vine : the scent, or memorial, thereof, shall be as the wine of Lebanon. I have put
the whole verse together, yet the latter clause will be reserved for the last head of this sermon, Our present words are these: and grow as the vine. The former words, They shall revive as the corn, are significant of the revival of those poor outcasts, who, by virtue of their personal and eternal union to Christ, although they had backslidden from him, and were scattered from his church, yet, they being in a day of his power brought back again to his fold, had found safety and protection in the glorious church of Jesus, where his true gospel was preached, and his own ordinances rightly observed ; and he in them set forth, in his overwhelming sorrows, death, burial, and resurrection; and the manner of his crucifixion, death, and the everlasting efficacy of his oblation, solemnly recorded. There could not be a return to such a church, but it must be attended with some blessed effects; and what could these be, but a revival of their faith and spiritual frames? And how could this be better expressed, than by the figure of corn, which, remaining in the ground and dying under the clod for a season, springs up and bears much fruit? This must be followed with growth. Our Lord's description of it is this: The earth bringeth forth fruit of itself; first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear. Mark iv. 28. Let this then be attended upto. We have in the words before us a very regular account of the Lord's goodness and work on the souls of these returning outcasts to the Lord. They dwell in the church, having, under the powerful influences of divine grace returned thither. They, under the shadow of the church, by the Holy Spirit's influences put forth in their souls, in the use and observance of his holy ordinances, revive as the corn doth, under the influence of the agency of the material heaveus, fire, light, and air. This revivification makes way for their spiritual invigoration and growth ; and this is thus expressed, They shall grow as the vine. In the margin, we have the word blossom. Christ styles himself the true vine. The church is compared in the Scriptures of the Old Testament to a vine. Wine is the blood of the grape. This is said to cheer the heart of God and man. See Judges ix. 13. The vine is a fruitful tree ; it brings forth, and bears fruit in abundance. The cluster of grapes which the spies brought from Eshcol, was carried on a staff between two of them. See Numb. xiii. 23. The vine bears leaves, blossoms, and fruit. The persons spoken of in the words before us, are said to grow as the vine, which grows so as for its branches to extend,and to be greatly enlarged. Its blossoms are white, and yield a sweet smell. Both this plant and its fruit are very pleasing to the eye. The growth of the returned and escaped of Israel, is expressed by their blossoming, or growing as the vine. It hath no support of its own. It must be planted, and pruned, and propped. The wood of the vine is good for nothing but the fire, if it be barren. Some of the best vines in the land of Judea, and vineyards,
at Engedi, otherwise called HazazonTamar; it lay about thirty-seven miles south-east of Jerusalem, and at Baal-hamon which, it may be, was not far from it. The wines of Helbon, near Damascus, and of Lebanon, where the vines had a fine sun, were reckoned most excellent. For a proof of this see Ezekiel xxvii. 18, and Hosea xiv. 7, which is the verse we are now upon, and is expressed in these words, the scent thereof shall be as the wine of Lebanon. The church, as the vineyard of the Lord of Hosts, is his peculiar care and charge: he says, I the Lord do keep it; I will water it every moment: test any hurt it, I will keep it night and day. Isa. xxvii. 3. The redeemed of the Lord being gathered from the east and from the west, from the north and from the south; out of all countries whither they have been driven in the cloudy and dark day, and brought back to the great Shepherd and Bishop of their souls, and brought into his true church, and made partakers of the spiritual blessings, benefits, and privileges of the same. They shall revive as the corn, and grow, or blossom, as the vine. They shall greatly increase in the gifts and graces of the Holy Ghost. And this brings me to the last particular of our text, which is,
IV. The spiritual fragrancy of those who thug return to the Lord, which is thus expressed : The scent, or memorial, (for so it is in the margin), shall be as the wine of Lebanon. They that dwell under his shadow shall return: they shall revive as the corn, and grow, or blossom, as the vine: the scent, or memorial thereof shall be as the wine of Lebanon. Thus we have the church of Christ, in her open, visible state, in which she will then shine forth in all her gifts and graces. And this as watered with the gracious influences of the word, which will most abundantly refresh, revive, and re-invigorate her; together with the shine of Christ her heavenly Sun, who will warm and refresh her; so that she will be as the garden of the Lord ; and joy and gladness shall be found in her, throughout all her members ; thanksgiving and the voice of melody. So that the scent of the ransomed of the Lord, thus returned back to him, and revived and restored through his omnipotent, all-healing, and recovering grace, shall be acceptable to his divine majesty. And the knowledge of him and his doctrine shall be always pleasing and acceptable unto them. It shall be like excellent wine, to refresh and exhilarate them. It shall fill their mouths with laughter, and their tongues with singing; and God in Christ shall most freely and fully manifest himself to the whole church of his beloved ones. They shall be as a memorial unto.