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CHAP. XXVIII.

Storms make discov'ry of the pilo'ts skill :
God's wisdom in afiitrion triumphs fill.

I

OBSERVATION.
N fair weather, when there is fea-room enough, then every

common person can guide the ship; the pilot may then lie au wn, and take his rest; but in great storms, and stress of weather, or when near the dangerous shore, then the most skilful pilot is put to it; then he shews the utmost of his art and fkill, and yet sometimes all is too little. They are (as the scripture speaks) at their wits end, know not what to do more; but are forced to commit all to the

mercy of God, and the feas.

APPLICATION. In the storms and tempests of affliction and trouble, there are the most evident and full discoveries of the wisdom and power of our God : it is indeed continually active for his people in all conditions, Isa. xxvii. 3. “ Lest any hurt it, I will keep it night " and day.” Psal. cxxi. 4. “ He that keepeth Israel neither 36 flumbereth nor fleepeth.” His people's dangers are without intermiflion, therefore his preservations are fo too. But now, when they come into the strait of affliction, and deadly dangers, which threacen like rocks on every side ; now the wifdom of their God rides triumphantly and visibly upon the waves of that stormy sea: and this infinite wisdom is then especially discovered in these particulars :

1. In leaving them still somewhat in the lieu and room of those comforts that they are deprived of; so that they see God doth exchange their comforts, and that for the better; and this fupports them. So John xiv. 1, 2, 3. Christ's bodily presence is removed, but the Spirit was sent in the room of it, which was better.

2. In doubling their strength, as he doubles their burdens. It is observed that the faints have many times very strong and sweet consolation, a little before their greatest trials: and this is so ordinary, that commonly when they have had their extraordinary consolations from God, they have then looked for fome eminent trial. The Lord appeared to Abraham, and sealed the covenant to him, and then put him upon

that

great trial of his faith. So the disciples, Luke xxiv. 49. it was comVOL. VI.

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manded them that they “ should tarry in Jerusalem, till they “ were endowed with power from on high.” The Lord knew what a hard providence they were like to have, and what great oppositions and difficulties they must encounter, in publishing the everlasting gospel to the world ; and therefore fifft prepares and endows them with power from on high, viz. with eminent measures of the gifts and graces of the Spirit, as faith, patience, felf-denial, ce. So Paul had farft his revelations, then his buffetings.

3. In coming i fo opportunely in the time of their great diftress, with relief and comfort, 1 Pet. iv. 14. “ Then the

Spirit of glory and of God refteth on them.” As that martyr cried out to his friend Austin, at the very stake, He is come, he is come.

4. In appointing and ordering the several kinds of afflictions to several faints; and alloring to every one,

that very

af fliction, and no other, which is most faitable to his condition: which afflictions, like fo many potions of phyfie, are prepared for that very malignant humour that predominates molt in them. Peter's fin was: felf-confidence, God permits him to fall by denying Chrift; which doubtless was fanctified to his good in that particular. Hezekiah's fin was vain-glory; therefore spoilers are sent to take away his treafures.

5. In the duration of their troubles, tlrey Thall not ly always upon them, Pfalm cxxv. 3. Our God is a God of judg. ment, Ifa. xxx. 18. Knows the due time of removing it, and is therein punctual to a day, Rev. ii. 10

REFLECTION. If the wisdom of God do thus triumph, and glorify itself int the distresses of the faints, thei why thould I fear in the day of evil ? Pfalm xlix. 4. Why doth my heart faint at the forenight and apprehension of approaching trouble ? Fear none of those things that thou fhalt fuffer, O my soul; if thy God will thus be with thee in the fire and water, thou canst not perish. Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, yet let me fear no evil, whilst

my

God is thus with ine. Creatures cannot do what they please, his wisdom limits and over-rules them all, to gracious and sweet ends. If my God caft me into the furnace, to melt and try me, yet I shall not be consumed there ; for he will fit by the furnace himself all the while I any in it, and curiously pry into it, obferving when it hath done its work, and then will presently withdraw the fire. O my soul, bless and adore this God of wisdom ! who himself will see the

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ordering of all thine afflictions, and not trust it in the hands
of men or angels.

The PO E M.
Hough tost in greatest storms, I'll never fear,

If Christ will lit at th' helm to guide and steer:
Storms are the triumph of his skill and art;
He cannot close his eves, nor change his heart.
Wisdom and power

ride
upon

the waves,
And in the greatest danger helps and faves.
From dangers it by dangers doth deliver,
And wounds the devil out of his own quiver ;
It countermines his plots, and so doth spoil,
And make his engines on himself recoil.
It blunts the politician's rettlefs tool,
And makes Ahitophel the verieft fool,
It shews us how our reason us milled,
And if he had not, we had perished.
Lord, to thy wisdom I will give the reins,
And not with cares perplex and brains.

CH A P,

XXIX.

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Things in the bottom are unseen : no eye
Can trace God's paths, which in the deeps do lie.

OBSERVATION.
HE ocean is so deep, that no eye can discover what lies

in the bottom thereof. We use to say, proverbially, of a thing that is irrecoverably lost, it is as good it were cast into the sea. What lies there, lies obscure from all eyes, but the

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eye of God.

APPLICATION. Thus are the judgments of God, and the ways of his provi. dence, profound and unsearchable, Pfal. xxxvi. 6. “ Thy righs teousness is like the great mountains, thy judgments are a

great deep;" (i.e.) his providences are fecret, obfcure, and unfathomable ; but even then, and in those providences, his righteousness stands up like the great mountains, visible and apparent to every eye. Though the faints cannot see the one, yet they can clearly discern the other, Jer. xii. #. Jeremiah was at a stand; fo was Job in the like case, Job xii. 7. So was Afaph, Pfal. lxxiii. and Habbakuk, chap. i. 3. These wheels of providence are dreadful for their height, Ezek. i. 18. There be deep mysteries of providence, as well as of faith. It may be said of some of them, as of Paul's epiftles, That they are hard to be understood, darkness and clouds are round about the throne of God: no man can say what will be the particular issue and event of some of his dispensations. Luther seemed to hear God say to him, when he was importunate to know his n.ind in fome particular providence, Deus fum non fequax : I am a God not to be traced. Some providences, like Hebrew letters must be read backward, Psal. xcii. 7. Some providences pofe men of the greatest parts and graces. “His way is in the fea, his “paths in the great waters, and his foot-steps are not known,” Pfal. lxxvii. 19. Who can trace foot-steps in the bottom of the sea ? “ The angels,” Ezek. i. “ have their hands under their “ wings.” The hand is either, symbolrim roboris, The symbol of strength; or instrumentatum operationis, The instrument of action : where these hands are put forth, they work effectually, yea, but very secretly, they are hid under their wings. There be some of God's works that are such fecrets, as that they may not be enquired into; they are to be believed and adored, but not pryed into, Rom. xi. 33. Others that may be enquired af, ter, but yet are so profound, that few can understand them, Psal. cxi. 2. “ The works of the Lord are great; fought out of “ all those that have pleasure therein.” When we come to hea. ven, then all those mysteries, as well in the works as in the word of God, will lie open to our view.

REFLECTION. O then, why is my heart disquieted, because it cannot sometimes discern the

way

of the Lord, and see the connection and dependance on his providential dispensations ? Why art thou şo perplexed, O my soul, at the confufions and disorders that are in the world ! I know that goodness and wisdom fits at the ftern; and though the vefsel of the church be tofled and distrefsed in storms of trouble, yet it shall not perish: Is it not enough for me, that God hath condefcended fo far, for my fatisfaction, as to fhew me plainly the ultimate and general iffue of all these mysterious providences, Eph. i. 22. Rom. viii, 28. unless I be able to take the height of every particular, fhall I presunie to call the God of heaven to account ? Must he ren• der a reason of his ways, and give an account of his matters to such a worm as I am? Be silent (O my foul) before the Lord, subscribe to his wisdom, and fubmit to his will, whatfoever he doth. However it be, yet God is good to Israel ; the event will manifest it to be all over a design of love. I know not how to reconcile them to each other, or many of them

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eye.

to the promise ; yet are they all harmonious betwixt themfelves, and the certain means of accomplishing the promises. O what a favour is this, that in the midst of the greatest confusions in the world, God hath given such abundant security to his people, that it shall be well with them ? Amos ix. 8. Ecclef. viii. 12.

The POEM.
ORD! how stupendous, deep, and wonderful,

Are all thy draughts of providence? So full
Of puzzling intricacies, that they lie
Beyond the ken of any mortal
A wheel within a wheel's the scripture notion,
And all those wheels transverse, and cross in motion.
All creatures serve it in their place ; yet so,
As thousands of them know not what they do.
At this or that, their aim they do direct;
But neither this, nor that, is the effect :
But something else they do not understand,
Which fets all politicians at a stand,
Deep counsels, at the birth, this hand doth break,
And deeper things performeth by the weak.
Men are, like horses, fet at ev'ry stage,
For providence to ride from age to age;
Which, like a poft, spurs on, and makes them run
From stage, to stage, until their journey's done ;
Then take a fresh : but they the bus'ness know,
No more than horses the post-letters do.
Yet tho' it's work be not conceal'd from fight,
"Twill be a glorious piece, when brought to light.

CHA P. XXX.

Millions of men are funk into the main ;
But it shall not those dead always retain,

WH

OBSERVATION.
THAT multitudes of men hath the sea devoured! thou:

sands have made their graves in it. What numbers of men have been ingulfed together in sea-fights, or forms, or inundations, whereby whole towns have been swallowed up ! certainly the dead which are there, are innumerable.

APPLICATION. But though the sea has received so many thousand bodies of men into its devouring throat, yet it is not the absolute lord,

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