« AnteriorContinuar »
alarm, and awakens the rage both of devils and men against him. Hence Paul and Barnabas acquainted those new converts, Acts xiv. 22. “ That through much tribulation they must enter in" to the kingdom of God.” And we find the state of the church, in this world, set out (Ifa. liv. 11.) by the fimilitude of a distreffed ship at sea : “ thou afflicted (and toffed] with “ tempefts, and not comforted.” [Tosled) as Jonah's ship was ; for the same word is their used, Jonah i. 11, 13. as a vessel at fea, formed, and violently driven wi hout rudder, maft, fail, or tacklings. Nor are we to expect freedom from those troubles, until harboured in heaven ; fee 2 Theil. i. 7. Q what large
j catalogues of experiences do the saints carry to heaven with them, for their various exercises, dangers, trials, and marvellous preservations and deliverances out of all! and yet all these troubles without, are nothing to those within them; froth temptations, corruptions, defertions, by passion and compassion : Besides their own, there comes daily, upon then the troubles of others; many rivulets fall into this channel and brim, yea, often overflow the banks. Pfalm xxxiv. 19. “ Many are the “ aflictions of the righteous."
REFLECTION : Hence should the graceless heart thus reflect upon itfelf, O my soul ! into what a sea of troubles art thou lanched forth! and what a sad cafe art thou in! full of trouble, and full of fin ; and these do mutually produce each other. And that which is the most dreadful consideration of all, is, that I cannot see the end of them. As for the saints, they suffer in the world, as well as I ; but it is but for a while, i Pet. v. 1o. and then they suffer no more, 2 Thes. i. 7.
« But all tears “ fhall be wiped away from their eyes," Rev. vii. 17. But my troubles look with a long visage, ah ! they are but the begining of sorrows, but a parboiling before I be roafted in the flames of God's eternal wrath. If I continue as I am, I shall
I but deceive myself, if I conclude I shall be happy in the other world, because I have met with so much forrow in this : For I read, Jude, ver, 7. that the iuhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah, though consumed to ashes, witb all their estates and Telations, (a forer temporal judgment than ever yet befel me) do, notwithstanding that, continue still in “everlasting chains, “ under darkness, in which they are referred unto the judgment “ of the great day." These troubles of the faints are sanctified to them, but mine are fruits of the curse. They have spiritual confolations to balance them, which flow into their fouls in
the same height, and degree, as troubles do upon their bodies, 2 Cor. i. 5. But I am a stranger to their comforts, and « intera meddle not with their joys," Prov. xiv. 10. If their hearts be surcharged with trouble; they have a God to go to; and when they have opened their cause before him, they are eased, return with comfort, and their « countenance is no more “ fad,” i Sam. i. 18. When their belly is as bottles, full of new wine, they can give it vent by pouring out of their souls into their Father's bolom : but I have no interest in, nor acquaintance with this God, nor can I pray unto him
in the Spirit. My griefs are shut up like fire in my boson., which preys upon my spirit. This is my forrow, and I alone must bear it. O my soul, look round about theel what a miserable cafe art thou in? Rest no longer satisfied in it, but look out for a Christ also. What though I am a vile, unworthy wretch ? he promiseth to love freely, Hof. xiv. 4. and invites such as are heavy laden to him, Mat. xi. 28.
Hence also should the gracious foul reflect sweetly upon itself after this manner: And is the world so full of ļouble? 0. my soul! what cause hast thou to stand admiring at the indul. gence and goodness of God to thee? Thou haft hitherto had a smooth paffage, comparatively to what others have had. How hath divine wisdom ordered my condition, and caft my lot? Have I been chastifed with whips ? others with scorpions. Have I had no peace without? some have neither had peace without nor within, but terrors round about. Or have I felt trouble in my flesh and spirit at once ? yet have they not been extreme, either for time or measure. And hath 'the world been a Sodom, an Egypt to thee? Why then dost thou thus linger in it, and þanker after it? Why do I not long to be gone, and Gogh more heartily for deliverance? Why are the thoughts of my Lord's coming no sweeter to me, and the day pf my full deliverance no more panted for ? And why am I no more careful to maintain peace within, since there is so much trouble without ? Is not thiş it that puts weight into all outward troubles, and makes them finking, that they fall upon me when my spirit is dark, or wounded ?
The P OEM.
With troubles round about?
To keep these troubles out.
eyes ; For in their conscience their beft treasure lies.
See you be tender of your inward peace,
CHA P. II.
ly measurable, yet not to be founded by man. It compatieth about the whole earth, which, in the account of Geo.' graphers, is twenty-one thousand and fix hundred miles in compass ; yet the ocean environs it on every side, Psalm civ. 35. and Job xi. 9. Suitable to which is that of the poet. *
“ He spread the seas, which then he did command,
And for its depth, who can discover it? The sea in Scripture is called the deep, Job xxxviii. 30. the great deep, Gen. vii. 11. the gathering together of the waters into one place, Gen. i. 9. If the vafteit mountain were cast into it, it would appear no more than the head of a pin in a tụn of water.
APPLICATION. This, in a lively manner, shadows forth the infinite and incomprehensible mercy of our God, whose mercy is said to be over all his works, Pfal. cxlv. 9. In how
sweet notions is the mercy of God represented to us in the Scripture? He is faid to be plenteous, Pfalm ciii. 8. abundant, 1 Pet. i. 3. rich in mercy, Ephef. ii. 4. then, that his mercies are unsearchable, Ephef. iii. 8. “ High as the heavens above the earth,"
* Tum freta diffudit rapidisque tumefcere ventis
Fufit, & ambitae circumdure littora terrae.
Plalm. X. 4. which are so high and vast, that the whole earth is but a small point to them; yea, they are not only compar. ed to the heavens, but, to come home to the metaphor, to the depths of the sea, Mic. vii. 19. which can swallow up mountains, as well as mole-hills; and in this fea God hath drowned fins of a dreadful height and aggravation, even, scarlet, crimson, (i, e) deep-dyed with many intensive aggravations, Ifa... 18. In this sea was the fin of Manafseh drowned, and of what magnitude that was, may be seen, 2 Chron. xxxjii. 3. yea, in this ocean of mercy,
did the Lord drown and cover the fins of Paul, though a blasphemer, a persecutor, injurious, 1 Tim. i. 13. “None (saith Augustine) more fierce than Paul among “ the perfecutors, and therefore none greater among finners :" To which himself willingly subscribes, 1 Tim. i. 55. yet par doned. How hath mercy rode in triumph, and been glorified upon the vileft of men! How hath it stopped the flanderous mouths of men and devils ! It hath yearned upon “Fornicators, “ idolaters, adulterers, thieves, covetous, drunkards, revilers, 5 éxtortioners;" to such have the sceptre of mercy been stretched forth, upon their unfeigned repentance and submission, 1 Cor. vi. 9. What doth the Spirit of God aim at, in such a large accumulation of names of mercy? but to convince poor finners of the abundant fulness and riches of it, if they will but submit to the terms on which it is tendered to them.
In the vaftness of the ocean, we have also a lively emblem of eternity. Who can comprehend or measure the ocean, but God? And who can comprehend eternity, but he that is said to inhabit it? Ifa. lvii. 15. Though shallow rivers may be drained and dried up, yet the ocean cannot. And tho' these transitory days, months, and years will at last expire and determine; yet eternity shall not. 0! it is a long word! and amazing matter! what is eternity, but a constant permanency of persons and things, in one and the same state and condition for ever; putting them beyond all possibility of change? The heathens were wont to shadow it by a circle, or a fuake twisted round. It will be to all of us, either a perpetual day or night, which will not be measured by watches, hours, minutes. And as it cannot be measured, so neither can it ever be diminished. hen thousands of years are gone, there is not a minute less
Gerhard and Drexelius do both illustrate it by this kricu limilitude : Suppose a bird were to come once in a thoviand years to some vast mountain of sand, and carry away ja ber bili one fand in a thousand years; O what a vast tiine wowd it be, e'er that immortal bird, after that rate, fhould carry
of the mountain ! and yet in time, this might be done. For there would be still fome diminution; bur in eternity there can be none. There be three things in time, which are not competent to eternity: In time there is a succession, one generation, year, and day pafseth, and another comes; but eternity is a fixed (now.] In time there is a diminution and wafting, the more is paft, the less is to come. But it is not fo in eternity. In time there is an alteration of condition and states : A man may be poor to-day, and rich to-morrow; fickly and diseated this week, and well the next; now in contempt, and anon in honour: But no changes pafs upon us in eternity. As the tree falls at death and judgnient, fo it lies for ever. If in heaven, there thou art a pillar, and shalt
forth no more, Rev. iii. 12. If in hell, no redemption thence, but the smoak of their torments afcendeth for ever and ever, Rev. xix. 3.
REFLECTION. And is the mercy of God like the great deeps, an ocean that none can fathom? What unspeakable comfort is this to me? may the pardoned foul fay. Did Ifrael fing a song, when the Lord had overwhelmed their corporeal enemies in the seas? And shall not I break forth into his praises, who hath drowned all my fins in the depth of mercy ? O my foul, blefs thou the Lord, and let bis high praises ever be in thy mouth. Mayeft thou not say, that he hath gone to as high an extent and degree of mercy in pardoning thee, as ever he did in any ? Omy God, who is like unto thee! that pardöneth iniquity, transgrel.. fion and fin. What mercy, but the mercy of a God, could cover fuch abominations as mine?
But O! what terrible reflections will conscience make from hence, upon all defpifers of mercy, when the finner's eyes coine to be opened too late for mercy, to do them good! We have heard indeed, that the king of heaven was a merciful king, but we would make no addrefs to him, whilft that fceptre was stretched out. We heard of balm in Gilead, and a physician there, that was able and willing to cure all our wounds, but we would not commit ourselves to him. We read, that the arms of Chrift were open to embrace and receive us, but we would not. C unparalleled folly! O foul-destroging madness! Now the womb of mercy is fhut up, and Thall bring forth no more mercies to me for ever. Now the gates of grace are fhut, and no cries can open them.
Mercy acted its part, and is gone off the stage; and now justice enters the scene, and will be glorified for ever upon me. How often did I liear the bowels of compassion founding in