« PreviousContinue »
ON BEING ENABLED TO RESIST A TEMPTATION,
London, April 17, 1758.
GRACE to help in time of need is the gift of God to the child of grace, and the greatest blessing we can receive from heaven in a state exposed to temptations from every quarter.
All within me desires to bless thy holy name, that when the temptation was near, thou wast not far off; and that, as it was consistent with thy divine wisdom to permit me to be tempted to sin, it was also consistent with thy grace and goodness to strengthen and deliver me when I was tempted. As my finite wis. dom cannot prevent, by timeous foresight, my being overtaken with temptations, so my feeble powers cannot resist when overtaken. I have thy providence, therefore, to magnify, that I am not overtaken with more temptations than I am ; and thy grace to adore, that I am not overcome with every temptation that I am overtaken with.
Human na ore (and in me more so than in many) is like a pile of dry and prepared wood for fuel, and temptation is like a spark of fire cast into it; then it must be power divine that hinders all from going into a blaze. O kind compassion ! O tender mercy! 0 glorious good will! I am nothing; hence I shall think humbly of myself, but highly of thy grace.
What a thorny path is human life ! How is it strewed with snares, gins, and traps, for head and feet, for heart and hands. If I lift up my head in pride, I fall into the condemnation of the devil. If I look not well to my goings, I am cast into a net by my own feet, and walk ypon a snare. Vanity is ready to fill my heart, and wickedness my hands. Not an organ of my body, but satan has his battery played against it; for my ear, the instruction that causeth to err; for my sighi, the lust of the eye; and for my touch, the handling of the things that perish. He turns desire into covetousness, care into anxiety, fear into despair ; would run down tope, miscall faith, and cast the soul loose of both. Seeing, then, that I am thus beset with snares on every side, from every hand, O that on my soul, my one precious stone, there may be seven eyes, and a protection round about me better than horses and chariots of fire.
Two lessens I am taught, which, through grace, I never shall forget: 1. To be diffident of myself; 2. To be confident in God, strong in his grace, and to boast in him all the day long. Let the sanctity of my after life, shew the sincerity of my gratitude. And may I mind with joy, that thy name, as to my sweet experience I have found, is a “present help in time of trouble."
THE PROMISES A DIVINE TREASURE.
London, April 19, 1758.
ONCE, with the unthinking world, I esteemed the poor miserable, and called, if not the proud, yet the rich happy ; but now, since I glanced the volumes of revelation, I am of another mind.
If we compare poor and rich in scripture account, we easily see a mighty odds; for while a threatening is dropt here and there against the one, to the other pertain the precious pro
mises. • Woe to you that are rich, for ye have received your consolation.” “Go, now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you.” Thus riches, though not a curse in themselves, yet, to depraved and corrupt nature, yield so many opportunities, set so many baits to sin, that it is a sacred and friendly admonition, “ Labour not to be rich." Were we only to inspect the lives and deaths of the righteous, it might make us welcome poverty that defends us, by depriving us of so many opportunities to destroy ourselves; but when we see the surprising expressions of paternal care that Heaven has replenished the oracles of truth with, we can do no less than account the poor the happy ones; for such is the merсу of God, that when a man is in misery, then he becomes the object of his mercy.
Now, to show that the promises of God are not bare expressions of good will, let his providential conduct be surveyed, as recorded in the word of truth, and that in a few instances.
Hagar, an Egyptian, Sarah's handmaid, flees from the face of her unfriendly mistress ; flees to whom she knows not, whither she cannot tell. She sits down by a well of water in the wilderness, no doubt overcome with sorrow. But then the angel of the Lord accosts her; tells her that the Lord had heard her affliction ; speaks comfort to her, and makes her a promise, under a grateful sense of all which she calls the name of the Lord, that thus prevented her with unexpected kindness, “ Thou, God, seest me." Again, the same Hagar is plunged into a new scene of distress. Her care and confusion are augmented, as she is not now alone in her perplexity, but has her son, her only son with her, the object of her fondest affection, and the hope of her infirm old age. The bottle is spent, and
the stripling, for thirst, the worst of all deaths, must die. Her melting bowels being unable to behold the agony of his last moments, she lays him down under a shrub, to screen him from the sultry heat, and goes away from him. Yet maternal care will not let her go too far away; so she sits down over against him, and fixes her eyes on the melancholy spot. And now her grief cannot be contained, as before, in agitating thoughts, but bursts out in briny tears : She lifts up her voice aloud, and weeps. Well, the God that saw her before, sees her still. The voice of the lad, who no doubt mingled his tears and complaints with his mother's, is heard ; and Hagar's eyes are opened to see a fountain, at which she fills the bottle, gives him drink, and he revives again.
It may not be amiss to name a few more instances of providential care ; as, Lot's rescue by Abraham, when he and all he had were taken captive; and afterwards his miraculous deliverance out of Sodom :-Jacob's preservation from angry Laban, when pursued and overtaken by him; and his still more amazing deliverance from Esau's rooted revenge, which is con-. verted into congratulations, tears, and embraces:--The astonishing history of Joseph, through all its unparalleled scenes: The deliverance of the children of Israel, when their bondage was grown insupportable, leading them through the Red Sea, while their pursuers perished in the waters ; feeding them in the wilderness with manna from heaven, and keeping their clothes from waxing old. And how many times, in the book of Judges, even when his people had sinned against him, did he show mercy to them in their extremity of misery? The accounts of Naomi, Ruth, and Hannah, show how the mercy of God takes place in all the cir
cumstances of the afflicted. The memorable passage of the ark of God in the Philistines' land ; Jonathan's victory over the Philistines ; the death of giant Goliah, who had defied the armies of Israel, by the hand of David, who afterwards has a beautiful chain of deliverances from a persecuting Saul, andin his old age from the rebellion of his unnatural son; the protection of the seven and thirty worthies, amidst the dangers they were exposed to ; Elijah fed by ravens, creatures that live on carrion, and yet they bring bread and flesh to the man of God twice a day! the widow's barrel of meal, and cruise of oil, blessed so as not to waste by using; Elijah's forty days journey in the strength of one meal; small armies defeating great hosts; armies supplied with water in a miraculous way; the barren woman made to bear; the dead restored to life again ; poison prevented from doing mischief, and food aug. mented; the three children preserved in the fire, and Daniel in the lion's den; all manner of diseases cured by Christ, and his servants, the prophets and apostles; the lepers cleansed, the blind made to see, the deaf to hear, the dumb to sing, and the lame to leap; the deliverance of the disciples on the lake, of Peter, when "sinking, and afterwards when kept in prison, a destined sacrifice to cruelty and rage ; Paul's escape when watched in Damascus, and when laid fast in the stocks with Silas, in the inner prison ; when shipwrecked, and when the viper fastened on his hand :-These are some instances that the promises of God have been made out to his people in their adyersities. And let those, on the one hand, who have no changes, and therefore fear not God, know, that they have neither part nor lot in these promises. But on the other hand, Let him know that suffers under the greatest load of hop that he has a right to the greatest number