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here to transcribe and recommend, viz. “ Then they that feared the Lord, spake often one to another, and the Lord hearkened and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the Lord, and that thought upon his name. And they shall be mine, saith the Lord of Hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels, and I will spare them as a man spareth his own son that serveth him. Then shall ye return and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God, and him that serv. eth him not." Mal. iii. 16, 17, 18.
In which scripture we may observe how great and glorious a reward is promised to those who sanctify the name of the Lord; the consideration of which must needs raise their love and admiration, and add to their present delight in such holy thoughts.
But, on the contrary, it is to be feared, that evil thinkers and actors, when the divine spirit and light would inspire them with good thoughts, or convince them of their sins, endeavour to stifle or overcome such thoughts or motions, as would awaken them to righteousness, or restrain them from sin; and strive by their natural wit, to reason the good spirit out of their souls; at the same time opening their hearts to the evil spirit and his suggestions, which they hug, to their own de. struction. But indeed to judge rightly of these things, if a man have ever so much natural wit, and strength of reason, it must be sanctified through his faithful subjection to the divine will, and raised by divine inspiration; which as far surpasses human reason as heaven is above the earth. May our men of bright natural thought think clearly and seriously of this. This is evident in the case of the great apostle Paul, who was educated at the feet of. Gamaliel, in the perfect manner of the law, yet, by all his knowledge, could not justly distinguish concerning religion, but was a persecutor of the church of Christ, but when his knowledge and spirit came to be' sanctified by the grace and spirit of our Lord Jesus Christ, then, and not till then, he became of great and good use to his Maker and mankind. Then his reason
and religion became spiritual, “ who had not conferred
with flesh and blood, but had been obedient to the heav. i enly vision.” Gal. i. 16. And he says, “ If in this life
only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most miserable." 1 Cor. xv. 19. So that his hope and expectation (as of all faithful believers) must have been of
another life, and the kingdom of God hereafter: "For E here (says he) we have no continuing city, but seek : one to come.” Heb. xii. 14. And though the condition
of such, in this life, be often exposed to much perse. cution and trouble for their faith's sake, towards the name of God, and testimony against this world, and the evil spirit ruling therein ; yet, blessed be the Most High, he gives them strength, and the assurance of his favour, whereby they endure to the end, as well as that he refreshes them with his outward blessings and comforts ; so that they may well say with his ancient servant Job, “Shall we receive good at the hand of the Lord, and not evil?" Job. ii. 10. Thus afflictions have been indeed usually called, but they often, in the hand of God, are means of redeeming the soul, and raising up many excellent virtues, when they are rightly submitted to.
But to return. I would inquire what subject we can possibly choose so worthy of our meditation, or from whence so great a benefit can redound both to spirit and body? The fear and thoughts of Almighty God, which are inspired by his grace, sanctifying our hearts, thereby render us more fit to receive his favours both to spirit and body, which he multiplies according to his wisdom and good pleasure; and all our faculties and passions be. ing redeemed and governed by the spirit of faith, we shall possess and enjoy all things in a more regular and excellent manner. But who is there that hath not been so great a partaker of the many blessings, with which the infinite Creator filleth the world, and in an especial manner encompasseth mankind, as not to be thereby obliged to a continual acknowledgment thereof, and remembrance of the great and bountiful Author? The state therefore of the wicked and rebellious, is stigmatized in holy scripture, with this character, in particular, that “God is not in all their thoughts." Psalm x. 4. And indeed for this came his judgement upon the old world of the ungod. ly, who cannot be supposed ever to have thought of the adorable Lord, since every imagination and thought of their hearts were only evil continually, as the Almighty himself hath complained. Gen. vi. 5.
But instead of the returns of faith and love, how sad 2 consideration is it, that there should among men be found any so vile and foolish, as even to deny the divine existence, and the effects of his infinite power in the external creation, and to affirm that all things have come by nature, without God, or any supernatural power; which evil tenet, some have endeavoured to justify and support by natural reason: (“ Wherein the name thereof may indeed be abused; but reason itself, which concludes nothing without evidence, can never declare in favour of a proposition, for which, not only none can appear, but against which the whole world is full of it. But let this be disposed for the judgement of reason. When therefore it is said, that all things have come by nature ; if thereby we are to understand that natural things are severally self productive, this will be disproved by daily experi. ence; for we may observe, that they depend one upon another, and upon various causes for production and subsistence, without which neither, in a state of nature, could possibly be. But if it be meant of the universal system of natural things collectively, this will less be al. lowed of many, than of any particular of them; because that would destroy the nature of a self-productive pow. er, which cannot be limited from being infinite, and therefore can be but one: one infinite supreme nature therefore only can have self-existed and must have been the supernatural author and power, by whom all other beings have existed : which refutes the above error, and rationally proves and establishes the great truth in the question.”)
And this the christian religion teaches in the greatest perfection, that the Creator of all things is God, an infinite eternal Spirit, who filleth all things ; who having been pleased to manifest his eternal power and godhead
in the visible frame of the universe, beareth witness of himself therein, by his providence and judgements; and in every soul of man by his inward inspirations ; especially the sincere believer, in whom his spirit dwells and operates.
Oh! that men therefore would lift up their minds and open their hearts to him, when by his holy spirit he reproves
them for sin, and brings a damp upon their spirits for evil; from which they would, perhaps, if they could, run, or divert themselves from the sense -of it: but, alas! there is no fleeing from his presence, who is every where ; nor avoiding his judgement, whose kingdom comprehends all things : (but wo especially is to them with whom his spirit ceases striving.) Holy David certainly was very sensible of this, when he wrote that admirable description of the Divine Omnipresence, “ Whither shall I go from thy spirit, or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up to heaven, thou art there : If I make my bed in hell, behold thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.
If I say, surely the darkness shall cover me, even the night shall be light about me, yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day : the darkness and the light are both alike to thee." Psalm, cxxxix. 7th to 12th. With these apprehensions of the infinite power and presence of the Almighty, I shall pass to the relation promised in the titlepage, which may here be properly inserted.
My author was Jonathan Dickenson, merchant in Philadelphia, who was present with the young men, whom this extraordinary providence befell, at Port-Roy. al, in Jamaica : he gave me the following account. Two ingenious young men, (who were lately arrived at Jamaica, from London) discoursing about earthquakes, asserted that all things came by nature : and so argued thereupon, that it brought terror upon the company,
who were many, at dinner, in an upper room. That s whilst this lasted, (to the great astonishment of all pres. ent) the earth began to move and tremble, which most of them to flight in such haste, that they rz almost over another, some down stairs, others le over the balcony. But my author said, he considera that there was no running from Divine Provident
, a that the same hand which moved the earth, was alk: preserve him ; in which he trusted, and was presas (And not only then, but at other times, especially am the savages of Florida, as his book of “God's part ing providence,” &c. signally evinceth.) Thus continued with the young men in the same room, terrible to relate, and my heart and hand tremble writing thereof) the mighty hand of an offenders struck these young men with death, and they fellow and never rose any more, being in all appearance e pared for so sudden a change. And how many a gay, witty young people have been suddenly seen away by death, though perhaps not so immediately, o so extraordinary a manner, seems worthy of refect: The author of this account added, that he took up young men, and laid one of them upon a bed, and other upon a couch : but that they never spake aga 1 ter their blasphemy against God, and his works. which I think it very natural, as well as necessary to * mark, that this was indeed an eminent instance di just judgement of Gud against such as deny his mund: ful power and providence in the creation ; with this rible circumstance, that these unhappy persons were off in the midst of their ungodly discourse, and com reasoning, without so much time afforded them as ask pardon, and crave mercy of a provoked Lowhich is very dreadful to consider; and I especially ommend it to the serious reflection of all such as 25 the name of free-thinkers, (as they are commonly tinguished) that they may no longer (under such a po tence) abuse their understanding with a latitude of Fr fane and evil thinking: who, as they must be sent that they have not conferred the excellent faculty of r. son upon themselves, so they may as certainly concu that they never received it to exclude his existence, pay