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it is already begun, and thou shalt never tread on the earth again, never more return to time after death; and if thou carriest not something with thee, thou must suffer irreparable loss for ever, as there is no oil to be bought (this the foolish virgins shall find) in the other world; no grace to be found, nor pardon to be expected (this all impenitent sinners shall experience) on the other side of the grave. Death cuts down the tree as it stands, which falls as it grows, and as it falls must lie for ever. Why then, O blinded Papists! prayers and masses for the dead? To as good purpose apply medicines to dead bodies to bring them to life again, as use prayers for departed souls to bring them to salvation. It is now that we must improve for eternity, where our vast and highest concerns lie.
If this ship should go out to cruise for three months in the main ocean without bread or beer, wood or water, or any other provisions, would not all concerned in her be chargeable with consummate folly, as the whole crew must inevitably pe rish with hunger? But of greater madness am I possessed, if my soul go out to the boundless ocean of eternity without an interest in Christ, who is the tree of life that feeds the higher house, and river of life that waters all the paradise of God.
According to the length of our voyage must be the quantity of provisions taken aboard; and indeed nothing less than a whole God, in all his fulness and perfections, an all-sufficient Saviour, in all his offices and relations, and the Holy Ghost, in all his divine influences and consolations, can be a proper provision for my soul through a whole eternity.
COMFORT AND TERROR IN ONE CONSIDERATION.
Portland Roads, Dec. 19. 1758.
WHEN the affairs of war, and protection of our trade, call for a change of climates, and hurry us from the chilling North to the burning South, it may afford comfort to the pious soul to reflect, that the God on whom he built his hopes here, is also there, to answer all the expectations of his faith. But it may strike terror into the profligate wretch, to think that the God against whom he sinned here, is also there to punish his iniquity. Then I see, that the omnipresence of God may be a panacea, an universal cure, to the anxiety of my soul every where; for God may call his own people from their own home, their friends, their country, but he will never cast them from his protection, his presence, himself. Then, though I leave my friends and acquaintance, and go to the remotest Indies, or most distant parts of the world, still the same God that here manifests himself so gracious and so kind, is the same God that governs under the whole heaven, and there can manifest himself in his wonted tender mercy, and former lovingkindness. Whither can I go from him who is every where? This is my comfort. And whither wilt thou, O sinner! fly from him who is every where? Let this be thy terror. For the God that dwells between the cherubims of a gospel-dispensation, sits also on the floods; and he that rules in Jacob, rules also unto the ends of the earth. Moreever, when I leave this world to go unto the world
unknown, then the same God (for he inhabits eternity, who measures the moments of my time) whom I served here, shall receive me there. This is the excellency of the Christian religion, that we, as it were, begin eternity in time, and join in our adorations with the sons of day, with the hosts of heaven. Deluded nations of old trusted in gods that could not go, but must needs be borne by their demented votaries; but the true God, who is an everlasting King, has been the God of his chosen people in all places of the world, and in all ages, yea, before the world began; hence says Moses, "Thou hast been our dwelling-place in all generations, before thou hadst brought forth the mountains ;" and when time is gone, and ages finished, he will be their dwelling-place, who is from everlasting to everlasting God. Then happy I, if I have an abiding relation and sure interest in him who is every where present, as to his essence; and inhabits eternity, as to his duration. Time past and to come only respects us, for with God it ever was, is, and will be, one eternal now.
Every way I look, there is safety: Dwell I at home, he is there; go I abroad, he is there; live I in this world, he holds it in his hand, and sees under the whole heaven; die I, and go out of the world, he is there filling all, and in all. Now, O sinner! stand still, and see thy misery. Thou sinnest against God, and how shalt thou escape? Thou mayest injure a fellow-creature, and, by going into some distant part of the world, elude law, and laugh at justice: and if thou diest, thou art out of the reach of the pursuer here to all intents and purposes; but go whither thou wilt, thou art still in his power, still in his presence, whom thou hast offended. Then mind, that he whom thou
hast made thine enemy all thy life long, wilt at last be thy judge, and supreme tormentor, whose breath shall kindle the burning stream. Sinners
and saints may have common comforts, and common crosses; but one thought on eternity spreads horror through the soul of the one, while it diffuses consolation in the breast of the other.
ON BEING IN HOT CLIMATES A FEW DAYS.
Under sail for Gibraltar, Feb. 2. 1758.
How few days sailing from the temperate zone, can chill us in the freezing north, or scorch us in the burning south! Of the last we had experience, while inclement winter receded from the plowing keel, and smiling summer approached the expanded sail! This short and sudden change suggests an interesting thought to my mind, that at the hour of death, in a shorter time than this, the soul shall either be placed in that degree of distance 3 from God where eternal winter blows terrible, with all the angry storms and tempests of vindictive wrath; or (may I use the expression?) under line of union and communion with the
the very Most High, where the Sun of righteousness shall shine from his cloudless meridian, and pour down assimilating glory in every beam. This stupendous thought I cannot, I dare not pursue, but, falling off in silence, give way to deep meditation.
AN HIGH WIND PREFERABLE TO A CALM.
Under sail, Feb. 15. 1759.
AMONG the wonders of navigation this is one, that through opposing waves which dash on every side, and amidst winds so strong that they seem rather a tempest than a moderate gale, the ship should her voyage with more expedition, and reach her port sooner, than in a profound calm. Indeed, he that never had his foot on salt water before, and adventures only on the glassy surface to take his pleasure, will bless the serenity, and congratulate the calm; but the spirited sailor, who minds his business, and has other climes in view, will rather wish a brisk gale to waft him to the distant shore, than to roll about in a dead calm till his vessel be eaten with worms, or grow rotten in the water, and perish.
Even so, Christian, it fares with thee. Believe it, the best weather does not make the best voyage heavenward. It is better for thee to proceed on thy course through the rolling waves of affliction, attended by the ruffling winds of adversity, than to be becalmed by affluence, ease, and prosperity. The one, through seeming difficulty and threatened danger, shall at last let thee arrive at thy desired haven, while the other detains thee to thy eternal ruin. God, that sits as King on the swelling flood, rules also all the afflictions of his people. Though sometimes they complain, "All thy waves and thy billows are gone over me," yet not one can attack them but by his permission, nor swell be