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the fatal hook in their jaws, and thus they are led captive by him at his will.
And is Satan so subtil and industrious to entice fouls to sin ? Doth he thus cast out his golden baits, and allure fouls with pleasure to their ruin? Then how doth it behove thee, O my soul, to be jealous and wary! how strict a guard should I set upon every lense! Ah, let me not so much regard how fin comes towards me in the temptation, as how it goes off at last. The day in which Sodom was destroyed, began with a pleasant sun-fliine, but ended in fire and brimstone. I may promise myself much content in the satisfaction of my lusts: But O how certainly will it end in my ruin? Ahab doubtless promised himself much content in the vineyard of Naboth, but his blood paid for it in the portion of Jezreel. The harlot's bed was perfumed, to entice the simple young man, Prov. vii. 17. But those chambers of delight proved the chambers of death, and her house the way to hell. Ah! with what a smiling face doth sin come on towards me in its temptations? how doth it tickle the carnal fancy, and please the deceived heart P But what a dreadful catastrophe and upshot hath it) The delight is quickly gone j but the guilt thereof remains to amaze and terrify the foul with ghastly forms, and dreadful representations of the wrath of God. As sin hath its delights attending it to enter and fallen it, se it hath its horrors and stings to torment and wound: And as certainly as I fee those go before it to make a way, so certainly shall I find these follow after, and tread upon its heels. No sooner is the conscience awakened, but all those delights vanish as a nightvision, or as a dream when one awakes; and then I shall cry, here is the hook, but where is the bait? Here is the guilt and horror, but where the delight that I was promised? And I, whither shall I now gor Ah, my deceitful lusts! you have enticed and left me in the midst of all miseries.
THERE'S skill in fishing, that the devil knows;
O think on this! when you cast in the hook,
Doth trading fail, and voyages prove bad?
THERE are many fad complaints abroad (and, I think, not without cause) that trade fails, nothing turns to account. And though all countries are open and free for traffic, a general peace with all nations, yet there seems to be a dearth, a secret curse upon trading. You run from country to country, and come losers home. Men cau hardly render a reason of it; few hit the right cause of this judgment.
That prosperity and success in trade are from the blessing of God, I suppose few are so atheistical, as once to deny or question. The devil himself acknowledges it, Jobi. 10. "Thou hast blessed the work "of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land." It is not in the power of any man to get riches, Deut. viii. 18. "Thou shalt "remember the Lord thy God, for it is he that giveth thee power to "get wealth." It is his blessing that makes good men rich, and his permiffion that makes wicked men rich. That maxim came from hell, ®htisque fortune suœ saber.• Every man is the contriver of his own condition. Certainly, " The good of man is not in his own "hand," Job xxi. 16. " Promotion cometh not from the east nor "the west," Psalm lxxvi. 6, 7.
This being acknowledged, it is evident that in all disappointments, and want of success in our callings, we ought not to stick in second causes, but to look higher, even to the hand and disposal of God: For whose it is to give the blessing, his also it is to with-hold it. And this is as clear in scripture, as the other: It is the Lord that takes away the fishes of the sea, Hos. iv. 3. Zeph. i. 3. "It is he that «' curscth our blessings," Mai. ii. 3.
This God doth as a punishment for sin, and the abuse of mercies; and therefore in such cases we ought not to rest in general complaints l°i or of one another, but search what those sins are that provoke the Lord toinflict such judgments.
And here I must request your patience, to bear a plain, and close word of conviction. My brethren, I am persuaded these are, the sins, among many others, that provoke the Lord to blast all your employments.
i. Our undertaking designs without prayer. Alas! how few of us begin with God! interest him in our dealings, and ask counsel and direction at his mouth. Prayer is that which sanctifies all employments and enjoyments, I Tim. iv. 5. The very heathen could fay, A Jove principium. They must begin with God. O that we had more prayers, and fewer oaths!
2. Injustice and fraud in our dealings. A sin to which merchants are prone, as appears by that expression, Hof. xii. 7. This is that which will blast all your enjoyments.
3. An over-earnest endeavour after the world. Men make this their business, they will be rich: and hence it is, they are not only unmerciful to themselves, in wearying and wasting their own spirits with carking cares, but to such also as they employ; neither regarding the fouls or bodies of men: scarce afibrding them the liberty of the Lord's day, (as has been too common in our Newfoundland employments, or if they have it, yet they are so worn out with incessant labours, that that precious time is spent either in fleep or idlenessIt is no wonder God gives you more rest than you would have, since that day of rest hath been no better improved. This over-doing hath not been the least cause of our undoing.
Lastly, Our abuse of prosperity, when God gave it, making God's mercies the food and fuel of our lusts. When we had affluence and confluence of outward blessings, "this made us kick against God," as, Deut. xxxiii. 15. " forget God," Deut. iv. 14. yea, grow proud of our strength and riches, Ezek. xvi. 13. and Jer. ii. 31. Ah! how few of us in the days of our prosperity, behaved ourselves as good Jehofhaphat did? 2 Chron. xvii. 5, 6. " He had silver and gold in abun"dance, and his heart was lifted up in the way of God's command"ments;" not in pride and insolence.
Are these the sins that blast our blessings, and wither our mercies? O then let me cease to wonder it is no better, and rather admire that it is no worse with me; that my neglect of prayer, injustice in dealings, earthly-mindedness, and abuse of former mercies, have not provoked God to strip me naked of all my enjoyments. Let me humbly accept from the Lord the punishment of my iniquities, and lay my hand upon my mouth. And O that these disappointments might convince me of the creature's vanity, and cause me to drive on another trade for heaven! then shall I adore thy wisdom in rending from me those idolized enjoyments. Ah, Lord ! When I had them, my heart was a perpetual drudge to them: how did I then forget God, neglect my duty, and not mind my eternal concernments*! Oh, if these had not perished, in all probability I had perished. My God, let my soul prosper, and then a small portion of these things shall afford me more comfort than ever I had in their greatest abundance. ** A little that a righteous man hath, is better than the riches of ma"ny wicked," Psal. xxxvii. 16.
THERE'S great complaint abroad that trading's bad,
In fear the greaterJt/h the less devour:
So some men crush all those within their power.
'HERE are fishes of prey in the sea, as well as birds and beasts of , prey on the land. Our seamen tell us, how the devouring whales, (sharks, dolphins, and other fishes, follow the caplein, and other smaller fish, and devour multitudes of them. It is frequent with us in our own seas to find several smaller fishes in the bellies of the greater ones; yea, I have often heard seamen fay, that the poor little fry, when pursued, are so sensible of the danger, that they have sometimes seen multitudes of them cast themselves upon the shore, and perish there to avoid the danger of being devoured by them.
Thus cruel, merciless, and oppressive are wicked men, whose "ten"der mercies are cruelty," Prov. xxii. loo We see the like cruelty in our extortioners, and over-reaching sharks ashore, who grind the faces of the poor, and regard not the cries of the fatherless and wi« dows, but fill their houses with the gain of oppression. These are, by the Holy Ghost compared to the fishes of the sea, Hab. i. 13, 14. This is a crying sin, yea, it sends up a loud cry to heaven for vengeance, Exod. xxii. 23. "If thou afflict the widow and the father"less, and they cry unto me, I will surely hear their cry." And ver. 27. "I will hear his cry, for I am gracious." Nay, God will not only hear their cry, but avenge their quarrel. That is a remarkable text, 1 Thes. iv. 6. "That no man go beyond and defraud his bro"ther in any matter, because that the Lord is the [avenger] of all "such." This word * avenger, is but once more used in the New Testament, Rom. xiii. 4. and there it is applied to the civil magistrate, who is to fee execution done upon offenders. But now this is a sin that sometimes may be out of the reach of man's justice, and therefore God himself will be their avenger. You may over-power the poor in this world, and it may be they cannot contend with you at man's bar, therefore God will bring it before his bar.
Believe it, firs, it is a sin so provoking to God, that he will not let it escape without severe punishment, sooner or later. The prophet Habakkuk, chap. i. ver. 13. wondered how the holy God could forbear such till the general day of reckoning, and that he did not take exemplary vengeance on them in this life. "Thou art of purer eyes "than to behold evil, and canst not look upon iniquity: wherefore *' then lookest thou upon them that deal treacherously, and holdest "thy tongue when the wicked devoureth the man that is more righ"teous than he?" And Prov. xxiii. 10, 11. "Enter not into the "fields of the fatherless," i. e. of the poor and helpless. But why is it more dangerous violently to invade their right, than another's.' The reason is added, "for their Redeemer is mighty, and he shall "plead their cause with thee." It may be they are not able to retain a counsel to plead their cause here; therefore God will plead their cause for them.
Turn in upon thyself (O my soul) and consider, hast thou not been guilty of this crying sin? Have I not (when a servant) over-reached and defrauded others, and tilled my master's house with violence and deceit ? and so brought myself under that dreadful threatening, Zeph. i. 9. Or since I came to trade and deal upon mine own account, have not the balances of deceit been in my hand; I have/it may be) kept many in my service and employment -, have not I used their labours without reward, and so am under that woe? Jer. xxii. 13. or not given them wages proportionable to their work? Isa. lviii. 3. or by bad payment and unjust deductions and allowances, defrauded them of a part of their due? Mai. iii. 5. or at least delayed payment, out of a covetous disposition to gain by it; whilst their necessities in the mean time cried aloud for it; and so sinned against God's express commands, Deut. xxiv. 14, 15. Lev. Mx. 30. or have I not persecuted such as God hath smitten? Psalm. Ixix. 26 and rigorously exacted the utmost of my due, though the hand of God hath gone out