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to all the miseries of time, to all the tornients of hell. Again, sometimes Heaven is pleased to permit a person to fall into gross outbreakings, that thereby he may be led to see the corruption of his nature, and to bewail the spring from which such deadly streams proceed. Thus the psalmist confesses, that he, as well as all mankind, was conceived in sin, and born in iniquity. And whereever saving grace is displayed in subduing sin, there also the guilt of original sin is forgiven, and its filth taken away.
It is very remarkable, that God refines his own people, not only by afflictions, judgements, and mercies, but by. sins; thus sometimes the air is purified by a thunderstorm: Hence, says God by the prophet Ezekiel, xiv. 9. & 11. "If a prophet be deceived, I have deceived that prophet, and the people that seek to him are also deceived, and they shall bear the punishment of their iniquity." Now, for what end is a prophet permitted to speak lies, and the people to seek to a lying prophet? That they might go no more astray, pollute his holy name no more, but that he might be their God, and they might be his people. Thus, Peter's pride and self-confidence is so cured by his denial of Christ, that when Jesus, after his resurrection, puts to him a kindly question, "Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me ?" he dares not say, as formerly, O Lord, my love is such that I can die for thee, but humbly appeals to himself, "Thou knowest, that I love thee." Our Lord repeats the question, and he returns the same answer; but a third time puts him to pain, Does my Lord distrust my love? doth he suspect its sincerity? It is true, alas! I have denied him, and he knows me better than I do myself; but my heart, conscious of sincerity,
appeals to his omnisciency, "Thou that knowest all things, knowest that I love thee."
Moreover, the daily experience of the saints will attest, that all their lifetime they hate and abhor that sin most by which they have most dishonoured God, and wounded their own souls. Alas! what daily cause have I to mourn over my depravity, whose life is blackened with daily outbreakings from this fountain that defiles! Hence so many vain thoughts, and low apprehensions of the holiness and majesty of God; hence so many trifling delights; hence such an eager pursuit of perishing pleasures and polluted joys, which, on a narrow survey, and serious thought, I must throw all
But, such is the wonderful method of Him, whose ways are past finding out, that he saves by casting away, brings through hell to heaven; and, by one sin breaking out, makes the soul hate and abhor, fight and watch against all sin, and have daily recourse to the blood of sprinkling, and to the Spirit of all grace for divine assistance.
THE COMPANY OF THE WICKED.
Spithead, July 8. 1758.
WHEN for our continual company we have the wicked, we cannot but continue our lamentation, and repeat our complaint, "Woe is me that I sojourn in Mesech, and dwell in the tents of Kedar." When I have considered the carnal men, who know
nothing of the power of religion, and the abandoned wretches, who have not even the appearance of religion, how should I esteem the company of saints here below, and the communion of the glorious hosts above! When the day of my dissolution comes, how shall I be transported to find myself among an assembly of sanctified ones, where religion in its purity is their eternal theme! Not an idle word among all the amazing multitude, nor one vain thought among the vast concourse! Their society is improving, and their conversation shall comfort for ever. No doubt but the wickedness of the present world will to the saints sweeten the sanctity of the world to come; and their own corruption, from which they cannot wholly rid themselves now, dignify that noble change, when corruption shall put on incorruption, and mortality be swallowed up of life; so will their imperfect graces aggrandise their perfection in glory. What, then, shall be my happiness, when my fellow-saints shall be spotless flames of love, and I adore with them in the unity of the Spirit, in the bond of perfect and perpetual peace! when the moving of their tongues in the praises of my dearest Lord shall assuage all my former grief, and charm my ravished ear! when every soul shall attempt the loudest song, and highest encomium on our best Beloved! and when among the adoring throng, not one sinner, which are now so numerous, nay not one hypocrite, shall stand! O how shall we speak to one another of Him who is altogether lovely! and being transformed into his likeness, how amiable and agreeable shall we be to one another! For, like lines in a circle pointing to the centre, the nearer to which they come, the nearer to others they approach, till running into the centre, they
unite in one another: Just so, dwelling in Christ, we shall be united to one another in love. Then I shall not only be free from my wicked company, but from every thing in my soul that can disquiet or give pain. No pollution from without, no corruption within, but all is perfect sanctity. Q triumphant state of perfect liberty! where my companions shall not, as now, drive me from God, but, as it were, draw me to the very throne : "Come, let us worship the Lord; I will go also.” The forethought of that happy state shall comfort me till the days of my mourning be ended.
ON AWAKING AT MIDNIGHT.
Now the silent night spreads its shadows on all, and calms the uneasy crew, who are locked fast in sleep, except those who are on duty; and never are they less offensive to God or men, than when in slumbers.
In a little, the busy world shall be awaked to pursue the affairs of life; but the greater part, in respect of spiritual things, are fast asleep, yea, chained among the dead; hence says the apostle, "Awake, thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light."
Amidst the blackest gloom that dwells on midnight with respect to the natural eye, the soul is at no loss to view immaterial beings by the eye of her understanding, and to behold her supreme good by the eye of faith. Yea, a day dwells within the soul that is enlightened from above,
even while shades of darkness surround the body; and this day is much more beautiful than the brightest sunshine to the naked eye.
Though, through ignorance, I thought that all had been darkness in the universe till the sun was kindled up, yet I see that even then all was bright, unbounded, and eternal day; because God is light, and in him is no darkness, and he filleth all in all. But when God was pleased to bespangle a little track, a foot-breadth or two of space, with various globes, and on some of them to form creatures with bodily organs, who needed a material medium to judge of sensible objects, in this respect "darkness was on the face of the deep;" for their com fort he created the light; and from the light he formed the sun, to illuminate the body; being still himself the infinitely more glorious Light of the mind; so that, whenever he is pleased to display himself in a special manner, the sun is darkened at his presence, as befel Paul when favoured with the heavenly vision. Now, had all been created spirits, like the angels, there had been no need for natural light, for the Father of spirits is to them the Fountain of light; and sometimes they have brought such a brightness with them from the throne of glory, (like Moses when he came down from the mount of God), such a blaze of light spreading round about, as has amazed the astonished spectators. Thus, neither the natural darkness of the night, nor the thick darkness of sorrow, affliction, and woe, nor the pitchy darkness of death, shall spread a shade over those who have his presence, diffusing serenest noon in their souls wherever they go; as, on the other hand, the fallen angels, cast out of his favourable presence, are kept in chains of darkness, though allowed to