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judges far more promising than we were, " in time "of temptation have fallen away;" or " they have been "choked with cares, and riches, and the lusts of "other things, and have brought no fruit to perfection." Some have evidently returned to "their

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wallowing in the mire, and their last state is worse "than the first." Others have been "carried about "with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, "and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to "deceive." Thus they have proved "unstable in all "their ways," have become the zealous propagators of some pestilential heresy, or have "turned aside to "vain jangling." Many have grown lukewarm in the grand essentials of religion, and proportionably fierce and contentious in supporting certain dogmas, by which some parts of the truth are pushed to antiscriptural extremes. In short, in a course of years, if we have accurately observed the affairs of the church, we have witnessed and lamented many astonishing changes, suited to excite our gratitude to God, who "hath hitherto helped us," and guided us at a distance from those rocks, quick-sands, and whirl-pools, which have proved fatal to numbers.

Our own experience likewise may help us to form a proper judgment of the divine goodness, in thus far protecting and upholding us. If we have for any length of time “ fought the good fight of faith," we must have a consciousness, that in many instances we were "cast down, but not destroyed." Our enemy has been sometimes ready to rejoice over us as actually vanquished. Outward circumstances gave force to our innate depravity, and our customary or easily

besetting sins: the tempter was permitted" to sift us "as wheat;""we had the sentence of death in our

selves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in "God that raiseth the dead." Perhaps temptation prevailed against us; and a guilty conscience united with an unbelieving despondency to bring us into deep waters. The insults of enemies, or the censures of friends, perhaps concurred with divine rebukes and corrections, to dismay our hearts. Yet amidst all, we determined, even from the belly of hell, to look unto the Lord, and to cry unto him, "O LORD, "I beseech thee, deliver my soul!" We waited on “him, and he heard our prayer; he brought us out "of the horrible pit, out of the miry clay; he set our "feet upon a rock, and established our goings: and "he hath put a new song into our mouth, even praise 66 unto our God. *" Thus "he delivered us from so

great a death, and in him we trust that he will yet "deliver us." Even if our conflicts have not been so severe, if we have not been thus baffled and shamed, we know to whom we owe our preservation: and we have had so many humiliating proofs of our own perverseness, weakness, negligence, and relapses into idolatrous attachments and various evils; that we cannot but look upon our escapes as marvellous, and sometimes stand amazed, that we have not been left to renounce or disgrace the gospel! Every year, month, week, or even day, during which we have been preserved, and every declension from which we

Ps. xl. 1-3. cxvi. 1-8. cxxx.

† 2 Cor. i. 9, 10.

have been recovered, is an addition to obligations al ready great beyond all computation.

Indeed a general view of our situation in this evi world must increase our conviction, that the Lord alone hath kept us, or can keep us, from evil. The countless dangers of our path; the course of the world, with its maxims, fashions, examples, and allurements; the influence of fear, hope, affection, and even gratitude to men, upon our religious conduct; our natural strong desire of honour, friendship, ease, wealth, or indulgence; our aversion to censure, reproach, contempt, and poverty; and the various ways, in which these propensities may be addressed to turn us aside from the direct path, suggest many interesting reflections to the serious mind. The infectious examples even of some zealous preachers and professors of evangelical truth, and the worldly spirit sanctioned by them: with the snares, which are laid in all our employments, connexions, and comforts; in solitude and company, and even in religious duties : the number, power, subtlety, and unwearied malice of our enemies the powers of darkness: the fallibility of our judgment, the scantiness of our knowledge, the weakness of our purposes, and the deceitfulness and desperate wickedness of our hearts; all remind us, how greatly we are indebted to the Lord, who hath hitherto helped us. It is indeed a marvellous mercy, if we can say, "Having obtained help of "God, we continue to this day;" and have neither made a shipwreck of our faith, nor brought a scandal upon the gospel; but still desire with purpose of heart to cleave unto the Lord.

Much more might profitably be added did time permit, concerning the continued kindness we have received: in the friends raised up for us; and the way in which our heavenly Father hath made up our losses, extricated us out of difficulties, moderated our temptations, renewed our comforts, revived our hopes and earnestness, prolonged our days, and afforded us means of grace and opportunities of usefulness. These, and many more subjects may be thought of, in our private meditations, while we endeavour to enter on another year, with thankfully acknowledging that "Hitherto the Lord hath helped us."

II. Then we enquire what is meant by "Setting up an Eben-ezer," according to the common, and not improper, use of the expression.

The nature of the case, and the example before us, concur in proving, that it implies a disposition to give God the glory of all the blessings we have received. We do not ascribe the favourable difference between our situations, prospects, or character, and those of other men, to our own wisdom, management, or exertions; but to that God, 'from whom all holy de'sires, all good counsels, and all just works do pro'ceed.' We pretend not to have merited the divine protection, guidance, and blessings; but feel that all was given us as creatures, without our deserving any thing and that every good thing bestowed on us as sinners, is contrary to our deserts. We ascribe none of our deliverances or successes to chance, necessity, or second causes: but trace them all to the great First Cause; to him "who doeth all things after the counsel of his own will." Samuel gave not the honour of

Israel's preservation to any of the servants of God, who had been raised up from the days of Moses, nor did he take it to himself; but ascribed it to the Lord alone. "Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but “ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man? I have planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. So then, neither is "he that planted any thing, neither he that watereth; "but God that giveth the increase.*" To set up an Eben-ezer therefore implies a disposition to say, in praise as well as in prayer, “Not unto us, O LORD, “not unto us, but unto thy name give glory, for thy mercy and for thy truth's sake :†" and to ascribe all our blessings to the everlasting love of the Father, to the atonement and mediation of the Son, and to the sanctification of the Holy Spirit.

It implies also an open acknowledgment of our obligations to the Lord; a confession of our own unworthiness; and an endeavour, by all proper means, to perpetuate the memory of his great goodness towards us, in our families, and among all with whom we are connected. An open profession of the truth with a consistent example and conversation, attendance on the ordinances of God, diligence in the instruction of children and domesticks, and the improvement of our several talents to promote true religion, constitute such an avowal of our obligations to the Lord. These things tend to diffuse the knowledge of his abundant kindness, and to preserve the remembrance of it, for the encouragement of our brethren, and an induce.

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