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vation of the servants of God. Wicked men have no liking to this subject; as if they expected no good to themselves from the attention of Heaven. Good men have no greater support in this world: they love to think and discourse upon it; and they celebrate the mercies they have received. Jacob, in his blessing, addresses himself to the God which had fed him all his life long unto that day, and to the angel which had redeemed him from all evil. St. Paul, looking back upon the persecutions and afflictions of his life, had a certain knowledge, that out of them all the Lord had delivered him. And the same knowledge will be more or less in every Christian, who reflects upon the occurrences of his life past. He may not be able to say, as the Apostle did, once was I stoned; thrice I suffered shipwreck; a night and a day I have been in the deep: but, if his eyes are open, and he speaks the truth, he may say in other words," at "such a place, and at such a time, was I preserved, "when my fortune, my comfort, my health, my life,

my soul were in danger: many perils have I seen, " from which nothing but the hand of God could save "me; many more there must have been, perhaps worse and greater, which I could not see: but out of them all, the Lord delivered me, and I am alive at "this day to praise him."

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Without a firm belief of God's preventing and directing power, good men would not know how to live; and they see that for want of it, many are lost. He that has lived long enough to observe how many dangers there are in the world, of which he has no foresight, and thinks there is nothing to preserve him, but that chance, by which others seem to be destroyed, is in a miserable con

dition; and I would not be in the like for all the world. When it is found that health is uncertain, and pleasure deceitful; that there are evils, which wealth cannot remove: nor wisdom provide against, and when with all this there is no sense of God's Providence correcting our sins and bringing good out of evil; then only disappointment becomes intolerable, and men send themselves out of the world in despair.

As the navigator, who has sailed round the world, and is arrived in safety at his own dwelling, delights to survey the dangers of the voyage, with his many deliverances from storms and shipwreck: and as the Israelites, when conducted to the land of Canaan, discoursed together on the miracles God had wrought in Egypt, with the perils of the wilderness, their various encampments, the victories they had obtained, and the cities they had destroyed; and repeated the wondrous narrative to their children, listening around them; so we may suppose, it will constitute a part of the blessedness of heaven, to look back upon the vicissitudes of this mortal life; and that the saints will delight for endless ages, in comparing the trials they underwent, the dangers they escaped, and the mercies they received in this their pilgrimage; adding thereto the greater wonders of their walk through the valley of the shadow of death, their resurrection, ascension, and glorification, which are yet to come; all of which will furnish matter for such songs, and be celebrated with such sounds, as no ear hath yet heard, nor can it enter into the heart of man to conceive.

In some passages of the Revelation, we have a slight prospect of this scene, with a foretaste of this heavenly

entertainment. "I saw, (saith the beloved disciple)


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as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire, and them "that had gotten the victory stand on the sea of glass, having the harps of God. And they sing "the song of Moses the servant of God, and of the "Lamb, saying, Great and marvellous are thy works, "Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, "thou King of Saints." Rev. xv. 2, 3.





BEFORE We consider rightly, it may be imagined that the words of Solomon in this place give encouragement to sin; as if sin were favoured by the righteous, while it is mocked at by fools. But the words have another meaning, and that a very instructive one: they teach us, that fools, those inconsiderate people who are without a proper sense of religion, mock at sin as a matter of ridicule; while the righteous have compassion upon sinners, as upon persons under the greatest misfortune in this world. He only can mock at sin, who knows nothing of the danger and misery that attends it. Laughter is, generally speaking, a sign of ignorance: it is the lowest faculty of a rational being, and the great instrument which weak people employ upon all occasions. They laugh at godliness, because they see no reason for it; they laugh at seriousness, because their own thoughts are vain and shallow; they laugh at misery, because they are without the tender feelings of humanity; they laugh at sin, because they do not consider the dreadful effects of it; they laugh at what is great and sacred, because they are attached to little and profane objects. Much laughter is, therefore, the symptom of a bad heart, or a mean understanding; and hath always been so reputed. The righteous man, who knows God, and the world, and himself,

and considers things as they are, finds no pleasure in mockery; especially, when sin is the object of it. The ruin of an immortal soul; the displeasure of Almighty God; the terrors of everlasting judgment; all of which are inseparable from the consideration of sin, are so serious, that they check the mirth of a righteous man, and dispose him to sentiments of soberness and compassion. Instead of mocking at the sin, he is afflicted for the sinner; he makes every charitable allowance for him, and is ready to do every thing in his power to deliver him from the effects of his own folly.

On this occasion, we have the fool appearing to us under his worst character, and the righteous under his best. The fool is never so much a fool, as when he becomes censorious, and mocks at sin: the righteous is never so respectable in his righteousness, as when he is favourable and compassionate to sinners. You will readily guess at the reason, why I have chosen to set these things before you at this time*. My desire is to lead you to the proper use which ought to be made of the example we have before us this day in the church; and to stop the mouths of those (if there be any such) who may forget their Christian profession so far, as to mock at the offence, when they ought to be grieved for the offender. I hope very few of those who are here present will be tempted to trespass in this way. They who are sensible of their own sins, and intend to repent of them, will be too wise to mock, either at the sin, or the repentance, of others: and they who, perhaps, at present do not resolve to amend, may yet have sense enough to condemn

March 17, 1777, when this sermon was preached, two young women, by their own choice, did public penance in the church, at Pluckley in Kent.

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