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God. And if that was the case, O but it was illtimed! Song, v. 1. 2. Ye have flipt a precious season, ye know not if ever it may return. Review, therefore, your carriage and way at this occafion; awaken timeously, and repent, else you may come to get an awakening stroke from the Lord, which may go very deep: 1 Cor. xi. 30. o For this cause many are weak and fickly among you, and many fleep.”-Learn to bless God, be thankful, and walk worthy of your privilege, you who have had the distinguishing mercy of communion with God. To whom much is given, much also shall be required. Did he bring you into his banqueting-house? Then follow on in the way of holiness, as strengthened by what you have experienced. Let not his grace bestowed on you be in vain.--Here a question may be proposed, How niay a person know whether he had communion with God or not? Ans. Communion with God confifts in the Lord's vouchsafing the influences of his grace

to the soul, and the soul's returning them again in the exercise of grace. There are many marks of grace. I offer you two distinguishing ones from the text.

Mark 1. The soul's giving itself wholly to the Lord, without exception of any thing, and standing to it: Whofe I am. People may give their hand, tongue, many things of theirs to the Lord, but none but these who have communion with him, will honestly give themselves wholly, without exception of one luft, or one cross, to him; and being deliberate, they stand to it. This is an evidence that the Lord has given himself to them, and they have received him by faith; for man's heart will never give their all to the Lord, till it receive better. Mark 2. Has religion now become your business? Whom I serve. Have ye truly renounced the service of the devil, and of lusts, taken on the yoke of Christ in all its parts, making religion no more a by-hand work, to serve yourselves of it, but your chief work, your continual work, to ferve the Lord in it? If you have had these, you have had communion with God; if not, you have not had it.-To this fome may reply, But, alas ! I have not had what I would wish to have been at.

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In answer to this, consider what is remarkable here : There were others who were the Lord's, besides Paul, in this ship; Luke, at least, whom, though the Lord left not without communion with himself in that dark hour, yet Paul only had the vision of the angel. You will accordingly observe, that every faipt is not admitted to the same degree of communion with God, fome enjoy more than others. All the disciples were not taken up to the mount of transfiguration, but only three of them. John was the beloved disciple, though Jesus loved them all, except the son of perdition. Some may be brought farther forward at one time, others at another time. be full to the brim, when the enjoyments of others are very scanty. There is no reason to complain here ; for,

(1.) Ordinarily God proportions his people's prefent lifting up to their former down-casting : Ifa. xl. 4. “ Every valley shall be exalted.” Some need more communion with God in the way of conviction and humiliation, others in the way comfort ; but the heaviest heart, and the most humbled fpirit, needs the greatest outletting of comfortable manifeftations. And if God speak most comfortably to those who most need it, it is unjust to complain. (2.) The greatest privilege is ordinarily followed D d 2

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with the greatest piece of work, 1 Kings, xix. 7. God has hard pieces of service to put into some people's hands beyond others. Paul must appear before Cæsar for the defence of the gospel, and therefore stood in most need of this manifestation to comfort and fortify him:

(3.) The backs of God's people are ordinarily strengthened in proportion to their burdens; and therefore the more liberal feast that a saint gets, he may expect the greater trial. If we compare the life of Ifaac and Jacob, you will observe, that the latter had the greatest enjoyments of God; but so also had he the greatest trials of the two.

As a suitable improvement of what has now been observed, let us, who have had communion with God in any measure, however small, not overlook the mercy, but thankfully entertain it. There is real communion with God in these two things. (1.) In longing desires after Christ: Psal. xxvi.

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soul have I desired thee in the night, yea, with my spirit within me will I seek thee early.When the soul is touched with a defire of him above all persons and things, longing for the enjoyment of him as their portion, longing for his blood to sprinkle them, and his Spirit to sanctify them, it is an evidence of the Lord's difcovering himself in some measure to that soul.There is real communion with God, (2.) In real love to him, well-pleasedness with his covenant : Matth. xi. 6. “ And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me." There can be no true love to Christ, which is not produced by his love to the soul : 1 John, iv. 19. “ We love him, because he first loved us. And no heart will be truly satisfied with the covenant, with the tenor, benefits, and duties of it, but that which, by the influences of the Spirit, is framed in conformity

to

to it: “ Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power," Pfal. cx. 3. If this has been your attainment, then cherish the spark. Quench not the Spirit. Satan will endeavour to rob you of it; but if it be tenderly watched and preserved, the Spirit will break out into a flame : Hof. vi. 3. “ Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the Lord.”- Let those who have had a more than ordinary meeting with God, and have been filled with confolation,

admire God's mercy towards them, and prepare themselves for trials and temptations, which will try their strength. God's children are Luffered to eat no idle bread. Watch, therefore, and pray, that ye enter not into temptation. Carefully cherish and preserve what God has done for you, and improve it to your progress in fanctification. This is the true way to keep your candle fhining.-Let us attend,

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III. To the posture of the Angel. He stood, he did not fit down, because he was not to stay. This was an extraordinary visit to Paul, he was not to look for this as his ordinary entertainment from heaven. Extraordinary manifestations are what we cannot expect to be continued, without interruption, while we are here. God will have a difference betwixt heaven and earth. two summers are not to be looked for in one year, so a lasting heaven of comfort upon earth will not be found. Though the Lord may sometimes feed his people with strong sensible manifeftations in this world, this is not their ordinary. They must for the most part live by faith, without extraordinary manifestations : 2 Cor. v. 7. “ For we walk by faith, not by sight.” Let Chriftians then lay their account with a struggling and

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wrestling life, with the clouds returning after the rain. For we are as those who travel by night, with the light of the moon, which sometimes shines clear, at other times hides her head under a cloud : Psal. xxx. 7. “ Thou didst hide thy face, and I was troubled.” -We are,

IV. To consider the time of this manifestation : This night. It was a sad night in that ship, all hopes of being saved were lost, and then the Lord appeared to help.--This may lead us to observe, that when things are brought to an extremity, this is a special opportunity which the Lord takes to appear for those that are his. This is the promife: Deut. xxxii. 36. “ For the Lord will judge his people, and repent himself for his servants, when he fees that their power is gone, and there is none shut up or left.” And agreeable to this has been the experience of the saints in many cases. Thus, as to the church of God in Egypt; their bondage was most hard, before the Lord delivered them. The reafons why the Lord does this are many.--Among others,

1. By this the hand of God appears most eminent in the deliverance. The more desperate that the cafe be, the love of God in thinking upon his people, his wisdom in contriving their deliverance, his power in bringing it to pass, appear the more conspicuous : Ifa. xxxiii, 10. “Now will I rise, faith the Lord ; now will I be exalted, now will I lift up myself.” He has the greater revenue of glory, by curing the disease when past all hope. Another reason is,

2. That it brings the greater advantage to the faints : John, xi. 15. “And I am glad for your fakes that I was not there, to the intent you may believe.” For hereby their eyes are opened to see

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