See here, I. The misery of the people that want a settled ministry: Where there is no vision, no prophet to expound the law, no priest or Levite to teach the good knowledge of the Lord, no means of grace, the word of the Lord is scarce, there is no open vision (1 Sam. 3:1), where it is so the people perish; the word has many significations, any of which will apply here. 1. The people are made naked, stripped of their ornaments and so exposed to shame, stripped of their armour and so exposed to danger. How bare does a place look without Bibles and ministers, and what an easy prey is it to the enemy of souls! 2. The people rebel, not only against God, but against their prince; good preaching would make people good subjects, but, for want of it, they are turbulent and factious, and despise dominions, because they know no better. 3. The people are idle, or they play, as the scholars are apt to do when the master is absent; they do nothing to any good purpose, but stand all the day idle, and sporting in the market-place, for want of instruction what to do and how to do it. 4. They are scattered as sheep having no shepherd, for want of the masters of assemblies to call them and keep them together, Mark 6:34. They are scattered from God and their duty by apostasies, from one another by divisions; God is provoked to scatter them by his judgments, 2 Chron. 15:3, 5. 5. They perish; they are destroyed for lack of knowledge, Hos. 4:6. See what reason we have to be thankful to God for the plenty of open vision which we enjoy.
II. The felicity of a people that have not only a settled, but a successful ministry among them, the people that hear and keep the law, among whom religion is uppermost; happy are such a people and every particular person among them. It is not having the law, but obeying it, and living up to it, that will entitle us to blessedness.
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