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he provided means for them to fill up their measure, declared they should never find him, and promised them the damnation of hell. And we know that all doctrinal lies, and all liars, must be buried, sooner or later; therefore any body may preach the funeral of a system of falsehood, if they do but stick close to the truth. I shall abide by my text; and I hope my reader will well weigh the subject,
Thy faithful servant in the gospel,
Winchefter Row, Paddington,
March 14, 1791.
betake themselves to the King of Zion, who becomes the Captain of salvation over them. And, just as churlish Nabal railed on David, calling him the son of Jesse, so this vile person, this churl in my text, rails at Zion's King; he speaks villany, and utters error against him. And as Nabal, by refusing sustenance to David and his troops, endeavoured to starve them all together; so these vile ones refuse to submit to, or honour, the King of Zion : they bring no presents to him; they neither feed Christ, by ascribing glory to him, nor his members themselves with the word of truth, but aim at starving them both; or, as my text says, they utter error against the Lord, to make empty the soul of the hungry, and to cause the drink of the thirsty to fail: they rob Christ of his glory, and his people of their bread. A churl, literally, is an unpolished countryman; and so the churl in my text is unpolished, unrenewed by grace, a countryman; not of the heavenly country, not a citizen of Zion. He is in the flesh, not in the Spirit. No scholar: he is not taught of God; he is destitute of divine tuition, which is true learning and polite literature in the best sense. The churl is a selfish niggard. And so is the churl in my text. He is self-willed, and a cursed child. Self is his god; self is his righteousness, his first cause, and last end. He is born of the flesh, and ends in the flesh. He loves himself above God; and seeks the honour for himself that is due to God, and to him only. He sets up his wisdom
above the word of God, by uttering error against him. He enthrones himself in the consciences of poor weak people, which is the sole prerogative of God; and speaks villany, and practises hypocrisy, to do it. And he claims the honour and praise of the people, which is due to none but the Most High; and makes use, as my text says, of evil instruments, to get it.
As Nabal was in the holy land, and among God's professing Israel, so this Nabal is in the professing world. And as Nabal is called a son of Belial, so this false teacher is called, in God's word, a child of the devil, and a minister of Satan. “Nabal is his name, and folly is with him ;” and he is as drunk with the wine of spiritual fornication, as Nabal, of old, was with liquor : and such vile persons shall die as insensibly in their errors, as he died stupid in his drunkenness.
This churl shall not be palmed with the name bountiful. God has not given him a bountiful heart, nor a bountiful eye. His heart is deceitful; he practises hypocrisy. His eye is evil, it is set against the Lord, and against the poor; and though he crouches and humbles himself, it is that the poor may fall by his strong ones, by the devils that help him; for he seeks to destroy the poor with lying words, with doctrines of devils, even when the needy speaketh right. He hates the Lord, and the poor in spirit; he has nothing for these; no honour for God, nor food for his people; his bounty never reaches to the poor and needy.
Nabal's feasts were for his drunken companions ; so this churl triumphs with them, made drunk with error. His food was prepared for his shearers; so this churl hates all but those who aim to starve the Lord's flock, and to strip his sheep of their beautiful clothing, the everlasting righteousness of Jesus imputed to them, and which is upon all the Lord's saints, and which this churl knows, and it makes him desperate. He shall not be called bountiful: his soul has not returned to its rest, nor has God dealt bountifully with him; he has not committed to his trust the true riches, the treasures of grace, the precious promises, the benefits of the cross, and the glorious truths of the gospel. The doctrines of God are not put into liis earthen vessel, therefore he cannot have perfect charity. He has not received the gift; therefore he cannot minister the same, as a good steward of the manifold grace of God. A man that utters error against the Lord, who makes empty the soul of the hungry, and seeks to destroy the poor with lying words, shall not be called bountiful. A churl, Nabal, a son of Belial, or a child of folly, are his proper names, and by these he shall be called.
This leads me to consider my third head, which is to shew
That a vile person is to be known by his vile doctrine. “ The vile person will speak villany." My text does not describe this vile person by any outward, atrocious crimes, such as open profanity
or immorality; the devil would be divided against himself, if this was the case; the unclean spirit goes out here; he is described and called a vile person, from his speaking villany; and a churl, by his being in the flesh, trusting in himself, and being a self-seeker. His heart is said to work iniquity, which is to be concluded from his practising hypocrisy; and that which describes his soul, and completes his character, is his uttering error against the Lord; by which he makes empty the soul of the hungry, causes the drink of the thirsty to fail, and aims to destroy the poor with lying words. Hence it appears, that a good man is to be known by the good things which proceed out of the good treasure of his heart; as the evil man, out of the evil treasure of his heart, is said to bring forth evil things : which the Lord's question confirms, “ How can ye, being evil, speak good things ?” And, indeed, if the heart be made good by grace, the conversation and life must be good also; for a good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, nor can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Hence it appears, that a gracious heart is to be known by gracious words, which minister grace; a good heart, by the good and wholesome truths of the Spirit; a true heart, by the words of truth and soberness; and a sound heart, by sound doctrine and sound speech, that cannot be condemned. A spiritual man is to be known by his being a minister of the Spirit, by whom God communicates the Spirit of grace to others, which is