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ON A FINE FLEET.
Spithead, May 23, 1758.
WHAT means this splendid fleet, this expensive navy? No doubt, to deal destruction to our foes, and ride triumphant over the sea. Had the world been peopled in some parts from the planets, we should not wonder much to see fierce contests between the old inhabitants and the new. But the matter is not so, for we have all one father, and are all of one blood. Not very many ages ago, the contending monarchs lay in one loins, and slept in one womb ; and all mankind arg brethren. Whence are empires filled with anarchy, kingdoms with rebellion, families with terror and tears, while the brother butchers the brother, the son the father, the husband the wife, and the person that is driven into despair, rises in rebellion against his own life? It is because we are all in a state of rebellion against God. What a shame is it for men to massacre one another, or depopulate whole nations, for a few furlongs of earth, which, in a few years, hence, their eyes shall see in flames; an agonising sight to their ambition !
We think much of nation rising against nation, but, since Adam turned rebel, the whole universe is up in arms against Heaven, a few humble supplicants in all ages excepted, who, having made peace through the King's Son, are again received into favour; but what are they to the many millions that are under the commạnd of the god of this world, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience! What pity
see at this standard the sovereign and the swain, the
statesman and the general, the soidier and the husbandman, the merchant and the mariner, the master and the servant ; yea, and woman who, in other wars, tarry at home ! Moreover, besides this general insurrection against Heaven, there is a war in the breast of all believers, some of the old principles of rebellion rising up against the laws of their rightful Lord and King: “A law in our members warring against the law of our mind, and bringing us into captivity to the law of sin ;" however, grace shall at last prevail.
This is the army of Gog and Magog, which covers the face of the whole earth, and makes war with the Lamb; whom the Lamb shall overcome, for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings. There is a day of slaughter coming, when the sword of his justice shall be drunken with the blood of his enemies; when those who would not have him to reign over them in the spirituality of his government, shall be slain before his face, and cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, which is the second death.
Would the princes of the earth submit to the Prince of peace, soon should their beat they swords into plough-shares, and their spears into pruning-hooks, and every man sit under his vine, and under his figtree. Were they more careful to extend the Christian religion, than to extend their conquest and commerce, more to grow in grace than in riches, and to improve more for eternity than time, how would our world be Hephzibah, and our earth Beulah, and the general contention between crowned heads and their subjects, through every land, be, who could liye most like angels, and love most like seraphim!
SET sail, thou venturous rover, and let thy daring keel cut the dividing billow, and plow the briny deep. But whither art thou bound? To cruize on a tempestuous ocean, or dash against inhospitable shores.Well, my soul, remember that thou also hast set sail, and art rapidly carried down the stream of time, to the ocean of eternity. I should consider under what latitude, and to what point I am steering; if under the latitude of the new birth, and a lively faith, I shall at last drop anchor at the haven of bliss ; but if under the latitude of a natural state and unbelief, I shall be driven, by divine indignation, on the rocks of everlasting ruin, and tossed a deplorable wreck on the floods of wrath.
How ignorant is the heathen world of a future state ! But, since the Son of God is come, and has taught us all the mysteries of the spiritual navigation, we launch at once into the depth of ages, and, in our exalted views, leaving land on every side, we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen ; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.
Why should I fear, or be dismayed; for shall I not have a prosperous voyage, and a pleasant landing, since Christ is both my pilot and my pole? since his Spirit is promised to lead and guide me into all truth ; since the scriptures are my compass, a light to my feet, and a lamp to my path ; since hope is my anchor, cast within the vail; faith my telescope, that gives ne views of the world to come ; self-examination my sounding line, to know what depth of water I am in, to try myself, whether I be in the faith or not; and my log-book a Christian diary, that I may tell them that fear God, what he hath done for my soul; and since all the heavenly graces are like the extended sails, one sail being unfurled after another, first faith, which is to the soul as the main-sail to a ship, and adding to faith, virtue; and to virtue, knowledge ; and to knowledge, temperance; and to temperance, patience ; and to patience, godliness, and to godliness, brotherly-kindness; and to brotherly-kindness, charity, Were I once in such a happy state, my next petition would be " Awake, O north wind ! and blow, thou south;" fill my extended canvass, and carry me to glory.
TIME TO BE REDEEMED.
Spithead, May 24, 1758. NOW I learn that time is precious, though misspent, though despised. I begin to set an higher value on that which is ever valuable, than I was wont to do ; but, ah! I begin to resolve when golden opportunities are past; and lost forever! God has been kind in giving me time, which I have not been cautious in spending, in improving; but, alas! blanks are not the worst, for I have not only trifled away, slept away, but sinned away, time. And, O! what great things are to be done in this little inch of time. God will have none of his servants idle; we must trade with bis talents here, and the profit shall be ours hereafter. We must work out our own salvation with fear and trembling, encouraged by this, that God works all our works in us. Thus, to speak, not like the proud le. galist, but, like the laborious Christian, we must scale the walls of heaven (for holy violence is allowed) and take it by force. We must combat principalities and powers, and crucify the flesh, with the affections and lusts. I must stand upon my watch, keep a sharp look-out on all my foes, on the least sin, cut off hours which I have too often spent in (shall I call it) sinful sleep and guard against trifling amusements, and superfluous visits ; not that visits and recreations are simply sinful, but the excess therein. I must carefully attend to my time as it passes, for with grief I see that I cannot recal time when past. I have much work on my hand; I have to bear witness to the excellency of religion, and against sinners ;' my backslidings to bewail, my failings to annend, my conversation daily to inspect, my accounts to settle for the day of judgment (O to be found in Jesus in that day !) my treasure to lay up in heaven, my affections to set on things above, my sins to mortify, my graces to strengthen, death to prepare for, eternity to improve for, my salvation to secure, God to live to, and the Lord Jesus daily to put on. Now, say if such an one has reason to be idle, or to trifle time away?