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powerful call on you to say with gratitude, “ Hitherto hath the LORD helped us.”

But it behoves us also to inquire, in what manner we have received the blessings of a gracious providence, and what returns we have made for them? Alas, we have generally the utmost reason to confess our ungrateful forgetfulness of our Benefactor ; our disposition to abuse or idolize his gifts, to undervalue them because not answerable to our exorbitant desires, to ascribe our safety and success to our own prudence and good conduct, or to spend our abundance in gratifying our carnal passions! This subject therefore, if investigated with care, may probably convince us that we have great cause to admire the Lord's goodness, in preserving us from ourselves, and the consequences of our own vices and follies. If we had been left without restraint, we might, either directly or by excesses, have long since proved our own murderers: we might have been hurried on, by violent passion or resentment, or in prosecution of some favourite project, to murder others, or have provoked them to murder us. We might in various ways have exposed ourselves to the sword of human vengeance : and it is indeed wonderful that God hath born with our rebellion and perverseness, and hath not cut us off in the midst of our sins. “ It is of the Lord's “ mercies that we are not consumed, because his

compassions fail not.” We are infinitely indebted to his patience and long-suffering. He spared, protected, and provided for many of us, during a number of years, when we neither asked

him to do it, nor thanked him for his kindness. While multitudes were perishing around us, and several of our companions in ungodliness were cut off ; while we sinned on amidst repeated warnings and narrow escapes ; our offended God would neither destroy us, nor permit, others to do it: nay, he prevented the fatal effects of our own madness and folly, and overruled many instances of it for our good. Thus he gave us space for repentance: his providential dealings with us had a tendency to excite our attention, and lead us to consider our ways: and every true penitent will perceive that they were actually designed to effect the most gracious purposes. We have been spared by the forbearance of our God, that we might be saved by his mercy !

2. God hath hitherto helped believers by his special grace.

Ages before we were brought into existence, he foresaw our wants and miseries, as the descendents of fallen Adam ; “ by whom sin entered into the “ world, and death by sin :” and in infinite mercy he had made “all things ready” for our salvation, in the person and redemption of his beloved Son. In due season he blessed the land, which was destined to be our residence, with the light of the gospel ; and by a variety of wonderful interpositions he hath continued to it that light, while it hath been extinguished or greatly obscured in other lands. When we found our lot cast in a country thus distinguished; we had, perhaps for a long time, no disposition to attend to the word of salvation ; but lived, carelessly or by choice, in Egyptian darkness on the very verge of Goshen. At length we were brought to hear the gospel, by events and circumstances in which we had no willing concurrence, or at least no intention of inquiring the way of life. Many have said, “ I will go “ into such a city, and continue there a year, and “ buy, and sell, and get gain :" or, ‘I will go,

and 'take my fill of pleasure and diversion with my ' friends and companions :' but they have been disappointed of their aim ; and in the very place of their purposed indulgence, gain, or preferment, have been induced to hear the word of God, and been made partakers of blessings inestimably precious. Thus the case of Saul, who went to seek the asses, but found them not, yet met with Samuel, and was anointed king of Israel, has been far exceeded. Secular inducements have led others to remove to places favoured with the faithful preaching of God's word, without the least intention of regarding it: but, after a while, curiosity, or persuasion, or some other motive, induced them to give it a hearing, and thus they were made wise unto eternal life, Some, having resided a long time in a situation where little regard was paid to religion, were at length excited to resist, with all their influence, the introduction of another kind of preaching, and were much chagrined at not being able to carry the point: yet afterwards attachment to a customary place of worship, or some motive of conveniency, brought them to hear the new doctrine, even the doctrine of " Christ “ crucified ;” and at length a total change in their views, dispositions, and conduct has filled them with admiring gratitude, and dictated most fervent

praises to the Lord. Nay, in some instances, a man’s gross misconduct has proved the occasion of bringing him to hear the word of life to the salvation of his soul! Thus Onesimus, dishonestly leaving his master Philemon, fled to Rome, where the ministry of Paul was blessed to his conversion ; and he became, as it is generally supposed, an able pastor of the Christian church: and thus, I trust, several, whose vices were the cause of their seeking admission into this hospital,' have here been brought to repentance, faith in Christ, and newness of life ; and will admire to all eternity the manifold wisdom and inexpressible mercy of God to them, in this gracious dispensation.

In these, and numberless other ways, the Lord is “ found of them that sought him not, and made “ manifest to them that inquired not after him.”2 And the hints now offered may assist the serious Christian, in recollecting the peculiar means, by which God first“ opened his eyes, and turned him “from darkness to light, and from the power of “Satan to God.”

We should however observe, that numbers have been favoured with the same means, who never obtained the same blessing. It occurs therefore to inquire, " Who made thee to differ from another.” Some of us are conscious that, when we first heard or read the doctrine of Christ, which now is “ all

our salvation and all our desire,” we treated it, not merely with indifference, but with decided contempt and aversion. Nay, we opposed and reasoned against it with all our ability, calumniat

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ing or ridiculing those who held it. We can remember how strenuously we endeavoured to silence our convictions, and to answer the arguments which almost prevailed over our prejudices : how we tried to quiet our minds, either by reflecting on our supposed virtue; by growing more punctual in a task of religion; or by listening to our own self-complacency and the flattery of our friends, in respect of the imagined superiority of our talents. When baffled on these grounds, we can recollect how we attempted to elude the conviction, by listening to disadvantageous reports concerning those reputedly enthusiastical teachers, who maintained the humiliating doctrines of grace; and, by charging their principles, on some occasions with tending to licentiousness, on others, by blaming them as too precise and rigorous in their requirements and example! Nay, perhaps some present, when all these methods failed, have tried to forget the whole in the hurry of business, a succession of company and dissipation, an excess of riot, or even a close application to study. Indeed it would not be wonderful, if some individuals should be conscious that, after all other attempts to quiet their consciences, they have had recourse to an antinomian or enthusiastical abuse of the gospel, as the last and most desperate expedient for keeping upon good terms with themselves, without parting with their worldly idols.

Not one of these ways of eluding conviction can be mentioned, which has not been tried by one or another; not one of these snares in which some of us have not been successively entangled : yet in every one of them numbers are finally given up to

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