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Merchants lay out their stock, feamen their pains,
Cis this (faith one) or that; but I say no;
In feas the greater fish the less de jour :
OBSERV A TI O N.
beasts of prey on the land. Our seamen tell us, how the devouring whales, sharks, dolphins, and other fishes, fol-low the caplein, and other fmaller fish, and devour multitudes of them. It is frequent with us, in our own seas, to find feveral smaller fishes in the bellies of the greater ones, yea,
I have often heard seamen fay, that the poor little fry, when pursued, are fo fensible of the danger, that they have sometimes seer multitudes of them cast themselves upon the shore, and perish there, to avoid the danger of being devoured by them.
APPLICATION. Thus cruel, merciless, and oppreflive, are wicked men, whose tender mercies are cruelty," Prov xxii. 10. We fee the like cruelty in our extortioners, and over-reaching sharks albore, who grind the faces of the poor, and regard not the cries of the fatherless and widows, but fill their houfes with the gain of oppression. These are, by the holy Ghoft, compared to the fishes of the sea, Hab. i. 13, 14. This is a crying sin, yea, it sends up a loud cry to heaven for vengeance, Exod.
xxii. 23. “ If thou afflict the widow and the fatherlefs, and they
cry unto me, I will surely hear their cry.” And ver. 27. « I will hear his cry, for I am gracious.” Nay, God will not only hear their cry, but avenge their quarrel. That is a remarkable text, i Thef. iv. 6. “ That no man go beyond " and defraud his brother in any matter, because that the Lord “ is the Cavenger] of all such.” This word * avenger, is but once more used in the New Testament, Rom. xiii. 4. and there it is applied to the civil magistrate, who is to see execution done upon offenders. But now this is a sin that sometimes may be out of the reach of man's justice, and therefore God hiinself will be their avenger. You may over-power the poor in this world, and it may be they cannot contend with you ať man's bar, therefore God will bring it before his bar.
Believe it, firs, it is a sin fo provoking to God, that he will not let it escape without severe punishment, sooner or later. The prophet Habbakuk, chap. 1. ver. 13. wondered how the holy God could forbear such till the general day of reckoning, , and that he did not take exemplary vengeance on them in this life. “ Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canft “ not look upon iniquity: wherefore then lookeft thou upon « them that deal treacherously, and holdelt thy tongue when " the wicked devoureth the man that is more righteous than « he?" And Prov. xxiii. 10, 11. “Enter not into the fields of " the fatherless,” (i. e.) of the poor and helpless. But why is it more dangerous violently to invade their right, than another's ? The reafon is added, " for their redeemer is mighty, and he « shall.plead their cause with thee.” It may be they are not able to retain a council to plead their cause here;, therefore God will plead their cause for them.
REFLECTION. Turn in upon thyself (O my foul) and consider, haft thou not been guilty of this crying fin? Have I not (when a fervant) over-reached and defrauded others, and filled my master's house with violence and deceit ? and so brought myself ander that dreadful threatning, Zeph. i. 9. Or since I came to trade and deal upon mine own accounts, have not the balances of deceit been in my hand; I have it may be) kept many in my service and employment'; have not I used their labours without reward, and so am under that woe? Jer. xxii. 13. or not given them wages proportionable to their work ? Ifa. Iviji. 3. or by bad payment, and unjust deductions and allowances, de
frauded them of a part of their due ? Mal. iii. 5. or at least delayed payment, out of a covetous disposition to gain by it; whilst their neceflicies in the mean time cried aloud for it; and fo finned against God's express commands, Deut. xxiv. 14, 15. Lev. xix. 30. or have I not persecuted such as God hath fmitten? Pfalm lxix. 26. and rigorously exacted the utmost of my due, though the hand of God hath gone out against them, breaking their estates? O my soul, examine thyself upon these particulars : rest not quiet, until this guilt be removed by the application of the blood of sprinkling. Hath not the Lord said, Jam. ii. 13. “ That they shall have judgment without mercy, 56 that have shewed no mercy? And is it not a fearful thing “ to fall into the hands of the living God, who hath said, He « will take vengeance for these things ?'”
The POE M.
Evouring whales, and rav'nous sharks, do follow
The lefser fry, at one gulp do swallow
In storms to spread much sail endangers all :
to furl up the fails, and lie a hull, when not able to bear a knor of fail, or else to lie a try, or feud before the wind and seas. It is no time then to hoift up the top and top-gallant, and Thow their bravery.
APPLICATION. When the judgments of God are abroad in the earth, it is no time then to make mirth, Ezek. xxi. 10. “ Should we “ (then) make mirth? It contemneth the rod of my son as e“ very tree.” (i.e.) As if it were a common rod, and ordinary affiction: whereas the rod of my son is not such as may be had of every tree; but it is an iron rod to such as despise it, Psalm ii. 9. O it is a provoking evil, and commonly God feverely punishes it. Of all persons such fpeed worst in the common calamity. Amos vi. 1. “Woe to them that are at ease « in Sion, that are not grieved for thie' affliction of Joseph," as ver. 6. It may be (as one observes upon the text) they did not laugh at him, or break jefts upon him ; bat they did not condole witlt him. And what fall be their punishment! fee verfe 7. “ Therefore now shall they go captive with the firft “ that go captive:” God will begio with them first. Solomon tells us, Ecclef. iij. 4. “There is a time to weep, and a
« “ time to laugh ; a time to mourn, and a time to dance :* « Only (as master Trap notes upon the text we must not in• vert the order, but weep with men, that we may laugh with • angels. To be merry and frolic in a day of tribulation, is to disturb the order of seasons. That is a terrible text, Ifa. xxii. 12. which should make the hearts of such as are guilty in this kind to tremble : “ In that lay did the Lord of hofts call “ to mourning, and to girding with fackloth ; and behold, joy “ and gladness, flaying oxen, killing sheep, drinking wine," "c. Well, what is the ifsue of this ? “ Surely, this iniquity s shall not be purged from you till ye die." O dreadful word? surely (my brethren) sympathy is a debt we owe to Christ mystical. Whatever our conftitution, condition, or perfonal inmunities be, yet when God calls for mourning, we must
bear and obey that call. David was a king, an expert musician, a man of a fanguine, and chearful constitution; yet who more Sensible of the evil of those times than he? Rivers of water ran down his eyes at the consideration of them. Melancthon was so affected with the miseries of the church in his days, that he seemed to take little or no notice of the death of his child, whom he entirely loved. At such a time we may “ say “ of laughter, thou art mad, and of mirth, what doth it."
O der God's angry dispensations. How many of the precious fans and daughters of Sion, lie in tears abroad, while I have been “nourishing my heart, as in a day of laughter? The “ voice of God hath cried to the city, and men of understandso ing have heard its voice," Micah vi. .. But I have been deaf to that cry. How loth (my God) have I been to urge my sensual heart to acts of forrow and mourning! Thou haft bid me weep with them that weep, but my vain heart cannot comply with such commands. Ak, Lord! If I mourn not with Sion, neither shall I rejoice with her.
O, were mine eyes opened, and my heart sensible and tender, I might see cause enough to melt into tears ! and like that Christian Niobe, Luke vii. 38. to lie weeping at the feet of Christ. Lord, what stupidity is this! shall slaugh, when thou art angry, and thy children weeping and trembling? Then I may justly fear, lest “ when they shall sing for joy of heart, I « shall howl for vexation of spirit,” Ifa. Ixv. 13, 14. Surely, O my soul ! such laughter will be tarned into mourning, either here or hereafter.
Is like a mourning-cloak with silver-lace.