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the innumerable deliverances of an unknown God, must at times be a soul-humbling consideration to thee, and is a confirmation of that wonderful passage; “Preserved in Christ Jesus, and called.” However, I will be bold to say, that thou hast been more roughly handled on shore than ever thou wert at sea; no captain, that ever thou sailedst with, ever treated thee with that cruelty that thou hast experienced from the buffetings of thy old master, the devil; all the lashes of the cat were but flea-bites, when compared to the chastisements and scourges of God; nor any dangers at sea so perilous as that of hovering upon the brink of the bottomless pit, with a guilty conscience, and under the curse of God: I know thou wilt agree with me in this. What pains, what patience, what long suffering and long-forbearance, what watchfulness and tender care, does the Almighty exercise in behalf of poor crawling worms of the dust, who are such enemies to him, such infamous rebels against him But his decree is sure, his eternal love is fixt, and the price of our redemption is paid, and we must be brought to know it, to feel it, and to enjoy it, that we may be melted, purified, and humbled, and that our God may be glorified. It is true, had all these thy sufferings been in defence of the gospel, it had been an honour, and thou wouldest have borne, even on thy back, the marks of the Lord Jesus; but, alas, thou wast buffeted for thy faults; but even this hath worked for good, for we have had our fill of this vain and miserable world, and, whatever opportunity we may have to return, I believe we shall never desire to go back. Worldly prosperity is seldom a furtherance of the good work within; if it was, God would not keep the generality of his people so poor as he does: a state of absolute dependance on him is best for us, though proud nature doth not like to submit to it. It makes us industrious, watchful, and furnishes us with many petitions at the throne of grace; it makes his mercies sweet, and excites gratitude for the least favour; and, while the Almighty causes his goodness to pass before us, we see our signs, and many tokens for good, which encourage faith, and cause us to abound in hope; and, as he hath promised us every needful supply, and hath put temporal as well as spiritual blessings into his covenant and in his promise, and hath appointed Christ heir of all things pertaining to this life and to that which is to come, our portion is safest in his hand, and he shall choose our inheritance for us: he hath not intended to give us our good things in this life, he hath provided some better thing for us, a treasure in the heavens, where no moth corrupts, where no thief approaches; therefore, “Having food and raiment, be therewith contert; for we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.” Be not entangled with acquaintances, nor suf. fer thyself to be brought into bondage by any one that makes a profession of religion, let him be who he may. There are but few, comparatively speaking, who know either law or gospel in the power of them; they know neither the goodness nor the severity of God; they can neither sing of mercy nor of judgment. It hath often been a grief to me to see a young believer, just verged out of darkness, running after every one he can find that makes a profession: one robs him, another wounds him, another stumbles him. If such were to be still and quiet, keep themselves to themselves, and observe the Lord's work with them, and what passes between their own souls and him, pay attention to his voice and watch his visitations, compare spiritual things with spiritual, his word with his work, and give all diligence to make their calling and election sure, we should not have so many halting and doubting believers as we have; but they let the best opportunity slip, and then the time comes, when they desire to see one of the days of the Son of Man, and they shall not see it. Such simple souls are often ensuared by the worst of hypocrites, they look up to one who appears to have great light, and they see with his eyes, and go by his light, and what he says is sure to be gospel; another appears to be all faith and fervour, and they rest upon his arm; by and by this shining light falls into error, and the supposed strong believer discovers nothing but rash presumption; and then
their right eyes must be plucked out, and their right hands cut off: and how halt and maimed does such a poor soul feel himself to be; how is he staggered and stumbled; how enfeebled and discouraged is he, and how strongly do his natural affections bias him. Thus poor David fared when Ahithophel, his counsellor and companion, was given up to Satan; and Paul, when Alexander and Demas turned their backs upon him; but God never forsook them. And truly our fellowship is with the Father and the Son Christ Jesus, who will be with us through evil report and good report, and to hoary hairs and old age will he carry us. O that we may walk humbly with him! walk with him in peace and equity, and he shall shine upon our path, direct our steps, and pluck our feet out of every net. There is none like the God of Jeshurun, who rideth upon the heavens in our help, and in his excellency on the skies. The eternal God is our refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms; he shall thrust out every enemy from before us, and shall say, Destroy them. To his protection I commit thee, and under his shadow may thy trust be, till every calamity be overpast. Amen and amen, says thy willing ser
vant in Christ Jesus, W. H. S. S.
JLETTER XV. .
l)car brother in the faith, and companion in travail :
meekness, submission, and resignation to the will
of God, be ever with thee, through Jesus Christ our Lord.
A chosen vessel, an elected brother, is born for adversity; chosen in the furnace, and ordained to afflictions. It is given in our behalf, not only to believe in Christ, but also to suffer for his name, Phil. i. 49; hence we are commanded to look to him that maketh the seven stars and Orion, and turneth the shadow of death into the morning. This shadow of death very much resembles the substance; the sting of death is severely felt, the ministration of death is set home upon the heart, the awful sentence passes, and the soul sinks under it, the execution of it is both felt and feared, and the worst part, the pains of hell and eternal death, are imagined, which are attended with as much terror and torment as if real. But it is but the shadow, not the substance; it is the dark valley, not the bottomless pit. The Spirit of life quickens the soul, creates a thirst for Jesus, dictates prayer, opens the word of truth to the soul, and allures it to hope and expectation;