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One of these prisoners mutters and complains, is peevish and displeased at the sentence of his superior, but it avails him nothing; just so, to repine at affiction, and complain on Providence, is the mark of an unsanctified heart, and cannot shorten our trials, or alleviate our troubles, but must sharpen our sorrows and heighten our sufferings.
But another of them enjoys himself in his confinement, is cheerful and composed, knowing that a very short time shall restore him to liberty ; even so, the saint, amidst his afflictions, can be happy and serene, knowing that the period is not far distant that shall translate him into the glorious liberty of the sons of God. Paul and Silas could sing praises in a prison, because when God giveth quietness, none can cause trouble.
In a word, what are all the people in the ship, but prisoners, whether they approve or disapprove the expression ? Even so, what is the body but a clog, what the whole world but a confinement to heirs of immor. tality, and expectants of heaven? In this we earnestly groan for the better state, and long to be unclothed, not that we would peevishly drop our existence, be turned out of house and home, but only change our prison for a palace, and this corruption put on incorruption, and this mortal put on immortality, and we walk at perfect liberty through everlasting day!
THE PROPHET'S DESCRIPTION OF THE WICKED.
HOW just,how adequate, how expressive the divine description, “ The wicked are like the troubled ocean, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast forth mire and dirt !" When the tides have teemed their wrecks on the inmost shores, and in the ebb have left the smoothed sand, all looks gay, and one would think the bottom of the ocean is swept, and washed of all its wrecks and weeds; but the next tide proves my conjecture false, and spreads a fresh proof of my deception on the shore : Just so it is with the wicked ; when I think they might have emptied themselves of oaths, imprecations, and filthy communications,accomplished their wickedness, brought forth all their vileness, and wearied themselves in committing sin, yet, without intermission, they proceed from evil to worse.
As there is a continual growth of weeds, and accession of other wrecks, every tide, therefore, spues out mire and dirt; so, out of the evil treasure of the heart, evil things continually proceed. "But the civilized sinner has nothing to boast; for, though his words may not be so vile as those of abandoned wretches, yet, as they pour from the carpal mind, and the carnal mind being enmity against God, can produce nothing pleasing in his sight, so they are vile before God: Therefore, though not so disagreeable in a sober ear, as the profane swearer, obscene talker, or unprofitable jester, yet, not coming from a sanctified heart, are accounted sin in his eve, who is purity itself, and with a pleasant countenance beholdeth the upright.
Sometimes the raging seas ebb, and leave their shores clean and comely, but, all of a sudden, they return with fresh defilement, and scatter over them mire and dirt. Even so have I seen some persons, by a temporary repentance,appear to forsake their former courses, and to lead a new life, but, all of a sudden, like a spring-tide, their wickedness breaks out with greater violence than ever, and the last state of that man is worse than the first.
As nothing less than the voice of the Almighty can calm the restless ocean, and say to the raging sea, Peace, be still; so nothing less than infinite power (let not mortals presume, let not sinners despair) can convert transgressors, and make their hearts precious as a spring shut up, pleasant as a fountain sealed.
ON THE PATIENCE OF GOD WITH SINNERS.
Off France, June 27, 1758. VERILY thou art God, that thus bearest with the wickedness of men, though of purer eyes than to behold iniquity. Did our superior officers meet with equal disobedience to their mandates, the same irreverence, contumely and reproach to their very face, from these abandoned wretches, would they put up therewith ? No; death, or some dreadful punishment, would suddenly be inflicted on the daring transgres
God will be glorified in the bright display of all his divine perfections, and the desperate madness of sinners against the heavens, and their blasphemous talk against the most High, cannot prevail with him to change his purpose, and punish them before the time appointed, because he is God : Nor shall their miseries and bemoaning, their anguish and their intreaties, make him spare them a moment longer, when the appointed day comes, or mitigate their torments, because he is God. A thousand years are with God but as one day, seeing all eternity is his immoveable NOW. Now, what are the few unhappy years of a thoughtless desperado's life, but as a few moments to a criminal betwixt his sentence and execution ? So God will fill up the measure of his patience; and if they fill up the measure of their sin, in the time of God's patience, his justice shall fill up the measure of their punishment in the day that his thundering right hand shall cast the strength of his fury and fiery indignation on them for ever. He is silent now in the day of his long-suffering, and they will not hear the voice of his goodness; but he will loudly accost them in the day of his anger, and they shall hear the thunders of his wrath. God, by his longsuffering, has a double work on the wheel, his wrath to shew, and his power to make known on the vessels of wrath, thereby fitted to destruction ; and the riches of his glory, to make known on the vessels of mercy, who are thus prepared for glory. Let the sinner acknowledge the patience of God, and be led to repentance; and the saint adore the patience of God, and be encouraged to perseverance; and may God be glorified in all his divine perfections.
ON THE EXCELLENCY OF THE CHRISTIAN RELIGION
ABOVE THE JEWISH, WITH RESPECT TO A TRAVEL
of France, June 28, 1758.
THE Jewish religion consisted in a noble and emblematical assemblage of rites and ceremonies, which, though glorious, was to give place to that religion which could boast of a triumphant majesty, a supereminent glory, and a permanent duration. That was attended with external pomp and grandeur, the beauty of this lies in its simplicity and spirituality.
How uncomfortable were my situation here, if I could not approach the altar that sanctifies the gift without being seen, praise God without the highsounding cymbal, psaltery, or harp, and offer up to God my sacrifice in mine own breasi! if I could not be sprinkled with the blood of cleansing, without the high-priest using all the round of ceremonies ! if I could not repent, and be accounted clean, without external washings, and if I behoved to look towards Je. rusalem, in my aderations ! But, as a Christian, I may pray every where, and, even in the midst of the unclean, may offer up my sacrifice of mental praise ; yea, to God who sees in secret, and knows the heart, I may pray in secret; or, when that is denied, I may in my own heart pour out to him my supplication, and, in the midst of confusion, may meditate on his glory and goodness. And, as I may thus freely come lo him, wherever I am, so he whose fire of old came down, and consumed the sacrifice on the altar, in mercy can come to me, and kindle a flame of love in my