Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

lie even nauseates the book of God, and the bread of heaven; and the life of faith is in great danger. But the case is not desperate, while there is breath enough left to call in, by prayer, the great Physician of spirits. The most inveterate malady gives place to his efficacious medicines; appetite revives, health returns, and the believer is reinstated in the vigour and beauty of holiness. Let all who have been thus “healed, and saved from destruction," either of body or soul, “acknowledge to Jehovah his mercy, and his wonders wrought for the children of Adam : let them sacrifice the sacrifices of thanksgiving, and declare his works with rejoicing."

23. They that go down to the sea in ships; that do business in great waters: 24. These see the works of the LORD, and his wonders in the deep. 25. For he conmandeth, and raiseth the stormy wind, which lifteth up the waves thereof. 26. They mount up to heaven, they go down again to the depths, their soul is melted because of trouble. 27. They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, and are at their wit's end; Heb. all their wisdom, or, skill, is swallowed up. 28. Then they cry unto the Lord in their trouble, and he bringeth them out of their distresses. 29. He maketh the storm a calm, 80 that the waves thereof are still. 30. Then are they glad because they be quiet; 80 he bringeth them unto their desired haven. 31. O that men would praise the Lord for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men! 32. Let them exalt him also in the congregation of the people, and praise him in the assembly of the elders.

The fourth similitude chosen to portray the dangers of our present state, and the goodness of God displayed in our salvation, is taken from that signal instance of the divine power and providence, the preservation of mariners in a storm at sea. The description which the Psalmist has given us of such an event, admits of no comment. Experience alone can illustrate its beauty, evince its truth, and point out the propriety of the circumstances, which are selected to furnish us with a full and complete idea of the whole. Few of us, indeed, are ever likely to be in that terrible situation. But then we cannot help reflecting, that there is a ship, in which we are all embarked; there is a troubled sea, on which we all sail; there are storms, by which we are all frequently overtaken; and there is a haven, which we all desire to behold, and to enter. For the church is a ship; the world is a sea; temptations, persecutions, and afflictions, are the waves of it; the prince of the power of the air is the stormy wind which raises them; and heaven is the only port of rest and security. Often during the voyage, for our punishment, or our trial, God permits us to be thus assaulted. The succession and the violence of our trouble, the elevations and depressions of mind and fortune, the uncertainty of our counsels, and our utter inability to help ourselves, are finely represented, by the multitude and impetuosity of the waves, the tossing and agitations of the vessel, the confusion, terror, and distress among the sailors.

In both cases, prayer is the proper effect, and the only remedy left. With the carnestness of affrighted mariners, who will then be

[ocr errors]

devout, though they never were so before, we should “cry unto the Lord Jesus in our trouble ;" we should, as it were, awake him, like the disciples, with repetitions of, “ Lord, save us, we perish!" Then will he arise, and rebuke the authors of our tribulation, saying unto them, “Peace, be still;" and they shall hear and obey his voice. " He will make the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof shall be still;" and at length he will bring us in peace, joy, and gladness, to our desired haven, there to exalt him in the congregation of his chosen, and praise him in the great assembly of saints and angels. This is the consummation so devoutly wished and requested by the church for all her children, at the time of their baptism, that they, “ being delivered from God's wrath, may be received into the ark of Christ's church; and, being steadfast in faith, joyful through hope, and rooted in charity, may so pass the waves of this troublesome world, that finally they may come to the land of everlasting life.” Thus we see there is no spiritual evil, out of which God is not both able and willing to deliver us, when we call upon him. Are we ignorant of the way to the heavenly city? He will guide and conduct us thither. Are we bound with the chains of sin and death? He will loose and deliver us. Are our minds diseased and languid? He will heal and invigorate them. Are we in danger of being overwhelmed by the troubles of the world? He will preserve us in the midst of them, until he bid them cease.

Of his power and inclination to do these things for our souls, he has given assurance to all men, by those pledges of his love, the benefits and blessings

conferred on the bodies of his people, in leading them through the wilderness to Canaan ; in rescuing them so often from the miseries of captivity ; in healing their diseases; and in saving those of them who did business in great waters, from the perils of the sea. Certainly the mind of man cannot have a nobler subject for meditation in this world, than the wonders of Providence, considered as representing the mercies of redemption.

33. He turneth the rivers into a wilderness, and the water springs into dry ground. 34. A fruitful land into barrenness, for the wickedness of them that dwell therein. 35. He turneth the wilderness into a standing water, and dry ground into water springs ; 36. And there he maketh the hungry to dwell, that they may prepare a city for habitation ; 37. And sow the fields, and plant vineyards, which may yield fruits of increase. 38. He blesseth them also, 80 that they are multiplied greatly, and suffereth not their cattle to decrease.

In this latter part of the Psalm, the prophet farther exemplifies the power, the justice, and the goodness of God: his power, in being able to change the very nature of things; his justice and his goodness, in so doing, either to punish the rebellious, or to reward the obedient. A well watered and fertile country shall, for the sins of its inhabitants, be converted into a dry and barren one. The plain of Jordan, which, before the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah, was

16 well watered every where, like the garden of Jehovah,” has, since that overthrow, been a land of salt and sulphur, and perpetual sterility. Nay, even the once

fruitful Palestine itself, that flowed with milk and honey, is at this day a region of such utter desolation, that the very possibility of its ever having sufficed to maintain the people who formerly possessed it, is now called in question. And, indeed, while the rain of heaven shall continue to be in the hand of God, how easy it is for him, by withholding it during a few months, to blast all the most promising hopes of man; and, instead of plenty, joy, and health, to visit him with famine, pestilence, and death! On the other hand, when the ways of a people please him, he can rid them of these dreadful guests; the rain shall descend from above, the springs shall rise from beneath, the earth shall yield her increase, the cattle shall feed in large pastures, the seasons shall be kindly, the air salutary, and the smiling face of nature shall attest the loving kindness of the Lord. Thus, in the dispensations of grace, has he dealt with Jews and Gentiles. The synagogue of the former, once rich in faith, watered with the benedictions of heaven, fruitful in prophets and saints, adorned with the services of religion, and the presence of Jehovah, has been, since the murder of the Son of God, cursed with infidelity, parched like the withered tops of the mountains of Gilboah, barren and desolate as the land of their ancient residence, whose naked rocks seem to declare to all the world the hard-heartedness and unprofitableness of its old possessors. When the fruitful field thus became a forest, the wilderness, at the same time, became a fruitful field. A church was planted in the Gentile world, and the “ Spirit was

« ForrigeFortsæt »