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INSTRUCTIONS FROM THE COMMUNICATIONS OF THE WICKED.
Spithead, July 12. 1758.
SURE, if ever grace dwelt in my soul, if ever I was among the saints, I have been to blame that had nothing to utter in commendation of religion, nothing to say in honour of God; or if I dropt a word or two, that I drew it not out into a discourse, and dwelt not longer on the theme; but if ever Providence permit me to breathe again in the fragrant air of converse with the godly, I think I shall be more open-hearted than ever I have been. Forgive me, Heaven; forgive me, saints; forgive me, sinners, who knows what good a good word might have done some of you? forgive me, my own conscience; and as I cannot excuse myself for time past, for opportunities lost, let me be more watchful in all time coming.
I am instructed to this by the open profanity of the wicked. They are not ashamed to speak and talk in a strain which we would think the fiends of hell could not go beyond. They expose their se cret sins in a manner which might make ordinary sinners blush. How soon they reveal their wickedness to one another, and let it be known to what society they belong, by baseness in the extreme! and shall you, O saint! and I, when we shall meet, not let it be known that we are heirs of the same promise, soldiers under the same colours, combatants in the same cause, servants of the same Lord, disciples of the same master, and expect. ants of the same glory? It is true, religion is a
secret thing; its duties are to be performed in the closet, not in the street, and He who sees in secret will at the last day reward us openly. Again, we who bear the Christian name chuse to be silent too often on serious matters, lest at any time, by gross outbreaking, we become a scandal to religion; or those who have not the root of the matter in them scandalise us for our religion. But as these wicked ones are under no restraint in their profanity, shall we, who make so high a profession, be altogether silent on serious subjects? They avow their god, who is the god of this world; and shall we not avouch the Lord for our God? They are of their father the devil, and do his works; and shall we not walk in the name of the Lord our God for ever and ever? Is not our Master more honourable, our service more noble, our encouragement more powerful, our reward more certain, our associates more eligible, and our delights and pleasures more permanent and divine, than all the wicked can boast of? Why, then, not talk to one another of the excellencies of our great Lord, his kindness to his servants, what befals us in our pilgrimage, the surprising providences of our life, and the outlettings of his love to our souls? "Come, hear, all ye that fear God, and I will tell you what he hath done for my soul," said the psalmist; and have we nothing to tell, no words wherewith we may comfort one another? Yea, we should speak in commendation of religion to all; for whoever mock, still wisdom is justified of her children; and scoff who will, we ought to do our duty. Then, in my present situation, all my communings must be with mine own heart; I must talk with myself, but must be silent to others;
yet I may make my prayer to the God of my life, express my trouble to him, and pour out my complaint before him, pleading, that as the years are full of evil, and the days of grief, so he may com fort me.
SORROW FOR SIN A SIGN OF GRACE.
Spithead, July 13. 1758.
SURELY I am not so zealous for the God of hea ven as I ought to be. Had I this day received an affront, or had any spit in my face, would not the affront go to bed with me, sleep and wake with me, yea, disturb me of my sleep? Where is, then, my zeal for God, that I can quietly go to rest, and with an easy mind, when I see and know sinners avowedly wound the glory of God, spit in the face of Divine Majesty, daringly break all thy commandments, think thy precepts are a jest, trample on thy reproof, laugh at thy threatenings, brave thy thunders, and defy thy wrath? While their practice is so cursed, should my spirit be so unconcerned? Should the loyal subject be quiet and still when he knows a plot of rebellion is forming against his king, by whom he is maintained, yea, beloved? Then, what shall I say of these obdurate sinners? I complain against them to thee; I hate their conduct, I lament their infatuation, and deplore their case. The day is conscious of their crimes, the night attests their debauches. I deplore and protest against all their oaths and profanity, their obscenity and vileness, their Sabbath
breaking, and all their other abominations. They fly from thee in the day of thy grace, and shall be punished with everlasting destruction from thee, and the glory of thy power, in the day of judgement. May thy honour never be less valued by me, nor I less grieved for the wounding thereof, that so many value it so little. May sin never become less odious to me by being committed before me; and let my sorrow for sin in others testify my innocence, and that I have no delight therein, while my soul shall mourn in secret places for them who hate holiness and love death.
ON HEARING A RUMOUR OF PEACE.
Spithead, July 19. 1758.
WITH what a chearful countenance did the greater part appear to hear the report of peace! These poor fellows, some of whom were impressed to the field, some to the fleet, now worn out with war, and long absent from their nearest relations, and their dearest friends, exult at the very thoughts of peace, and feel an inward satisfaction that refreshes every power. How, then, O my soul! who art engaged in a more cruel war, carried on by more bloody foes, pursued without intermission, with all the rage of the roaring lion, the cunning of the old serpent, and vigilance of the pit, the issue of which is of much greater moment than the struggles for empire, or the strife of kings; how shouldst thou rejoice at that eter.
nal peace which shall take place when all thy foes shall fall before thee, and death, the last enemy, shall be destroyed for ever! Then thou shalt not only quit the field with safety and honour, but come off more than conqueror through him that loved thee!
Are men so fond to quit the martial plain, and taste the sweets of peace! What madness then by sin to rise in rebellion against Heaven, and maintain a war against God, to run on the thick bosses of his buckler, and defy Omnipotence himself, who can crush worlds with a frown, and punish the most stubborn offenders!
How pleasant for the man that has been often in danger and death, who has long heard the sound of the trumpet, the alarm of war, who has been covered with wounds and blood, and been daily beset by cruel blood-thirsty foes, to dwell in peace, and walk at safety, to heighten his present happiness by the remembrance of his past danger, as sured that he shall never more be in a state of war, but spend his days in peace and quiet. Even so, the soul that has been often in danger from spiri tual death, has long heard the sound of Sinai's trumpets, the curses of the fiery law, and war denounced from Jehovah's throne, has not only been sore buffeted and wounded, but accounted itself free among the dead, being daily beset by sin and its outbreakings, Satan and his temptations; how sweet for such a soul to be filled with peace and joy in believing, to have the intimation of pardoned sin, and acceptance through the Beloved; and, instead of storms and tempests from Sinal, to have the blessing out of Zion; in a word, to have the full assurance of unchangeable love, and endless felicity, and that, in a little, all the enemies