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while others, like Jonah, (ch. i. 5) are asleep on the verge of destruction, and insensible of any evil that is near them. Intoxicated with the pleasures, riches, and honours of the world, they resemble one who, in a state of inebriation, has sunk into a fatal repose, while his house is on fire and all his property consuming around him. Or we may compare the generality of mankind to a sick patient in the delirium which fever produces, or to a wounded man after a mortification has taken place in his body. They are unconscious of their danger, and therefore employ no means for avoiding it. Let us inquire whether we be awakened to a sense of our situation-whether the feverish delirium of moral disease be removed-whether the gangrene which the inflammation of sin had produced in our souls be stopped, so that we are restored to sensibility. Know, O man, that if thou art not filled with apprehension of peril on every side, thy case is bad indeed; because thou wilt not seek for safety where it is only to be found.
But what are those « things that may hurt “ us?” Though in number incalculable, they may all be reduced under one head, sin. We have nothing to apprehend but what arises from and by the instrumentality of sin. This parentevil transformed angels into devils, and kindled the flames of hell. This swept the world at the deluge with the besom of destruction. This burned up the cities of the plain. This introduced death, with all its antecedents and consequents, into this once happy scene of innocence, immortality, and bliss. This torments our bodies with dire diseases, inflicting tortures on every part; and this terrifies our souls with
dismal forebodings of futurity. This opens the bottomless pit, and exposes us to the wrath of God. In short, this is the true Pandora's box, from which, on its being opened in paradise by the guilty hands of our first parents, all manner of evil issued, all the ills to which flesh is heir. If therefore we are in danger of contracting guilt and pollution by the commission of sin, our danger is imminent indeed. Let the conscious mind determine whether we are thus exposed, or not. All our afflictions, the miseries to which we are subject, and the fears by which we are harrassed, owe their poignancy, yea, their very existence, to sin.
Now as nothing but sin can hurt us, and as sin must prove hurtful to us if its access to our hearts and its influence over us be not checked, let us consider what is the extent of our danger therefrom. But instead of asking what those things are which may hurt us, we may rather inquire, what is there that may not hurt us? When we contemplate the depravity of our nature, which, like a diseased stomach, turns its food into poison, or, like a mud-pool, defiles whatever comes into contact with it; when we consider that we are surrounded by invisible enemies, subtle and powerful, who are constantly watching for opportunities of effecting our ruin; and that the world is uninterruptedly presenting objects to our attention, which are calculated to attract our notice, and injure our souls by betraying us into sin,--what is there that may not hurt us? May we not consider every individual*thing with which we are conversant, as a source of danger? So great is the depravity of our hearts, that we are exposed to danger both in our worldly and in our religious
pursuits. The church as well as the scene of our worldly business—the sabbath as well as the days allotted for our secular concerns—the closet as well as the exchange—the Lord's table as well as the social board-are places and occasions of danger. For wherever we are, whatever we do, we carry our fallen hearts with us, to which Satan has easy access.
How often, like the fisherman whose bait is seized by a torpedo, have we unexpectedly incurred injury, while engaged in the pursuit of lawful objects, and even of spiritual advantage!
Are we aware of our multifarious and complex danger? The question affords a criterion of our state. Those whom God keeps, he first awak, ens and alarms, that they may appreciate duly the value of preservation. Like Elisha's servant, (2 Kings vi. 15, &c.) they are first caused to discern the host of foes by which they are surrounded, and to cry out, Alas, how shall we
do," before the voice of consolation is heard, saying, “ Fear not, for they that be with us, “ are more than they that be with them;" before " the horses of fire, and the chariots of *“ fire,” which are provided for their defence, are discovered to them. Reader, are you sensible of your danger, or not?
In the petition of our collect we acknowledge further our inability to keep ourselves from the varied perils to which we are exposed. For the spirit of prayer for Divine conservation arises from a conviction of our own weakness. Without this the adoption of our collect would be gross hypocrisy. Now an enlightened sinner has in himself demonstrative proofs of bis own depravity and consequent weakness, and of the power of his spiritual enemies, He has found
by frequent trial, that his heart is prone to evil in every shape, and is therefore without any power to resist its assaults. He knows that, if there was no devil to tempt him to the commis. sion of sin, he should destroy himself by the spontaneous emanations of his own fallen bosom, unless the grace of God repressed and dried them up. And how much more certain is his destruction without the aid of Divine grace, since his “ adversary the devil, like a roaring “ lion, goeth about continually seeking whom “ he may devour;" of whose infernal plots against himself every believer has daily and hourly evidence! In the apostacy of the angels, and of our first parents; in the falls of eminent saints, such as David and Peter; on the pillars of salt which apostate professors present to his view in every stage of his pilgrimage; in the warnings and threatenings of Scripture, and even in its promises, he discerns incontestable proof of his own danger and imbecility, and reads these solemn admonitions: “ Let him that “ thinketh he standeth, take heed lest he fall :" “ Be not high-minded, but fear:" “ Watch and pray,
that ye enter not into temptation." The Christian depends therefore on “ the “ bountiful goodness” of an “ almighty and “ most merciful God." He trusts in Him, not only for righteousness but also for strength. (Is. Ixv. 24.) He cordially renounces all selfsufficiency, not only with a view to justification, but also with a view to sanctification and conservation. A Christian is a child of grace, a momentary pensioner on the « bountiful good“ ness" of an “ Almighty and most merciful" Father. This found him a destitute orphan; this took pity on him; this has hitherto fed,
clothed, instructed, and protected him; and he is still as poor and helpless in himself as he was the first moment that God had compassion on him. (See Ezek. xvi. 1-15.) The life of God in the soul of man, like the vegetable life of an exotic brought hither from the East or West Indies, must be continually sheltered from the inclemency of this frigid clime, and supplied with supernatural warmth, or it must die. Exposure to a single blast would shrivel and destroy it. Sinner, do you feel this dependance? and is your life a life of faith on Divine care and superintendance?
Our collect expresses an earnest desire of Divine interference for our preservation, discovering the importance which is attached to the blessing implored by the awakened mind. It is not a thing of small value which is exposed to danger. It is not a mere trifle about which the believer's fears are excited. No: it is his soul which is at stake-that immortal principle which is the masterpiece of God's creating hand, for which the precious blood of Christ was shed, and which is destined to happiness or misery world without end, according to its state on its departure from the body. His soul being exposed to imminent danger, it is no wonder that the penitent sinner is earnest in his supplications for preservation, and that our church teaches him to express himself with fervor on the subject, adding vigour by her language to the tone of his devotion. We read in antient history that Cresus, king of Lydia, had a son who was born dumb, and continued destitute of the faculty of speech till a very remarkable circumstance was the occasion of calling it into action. On the day in which Sardis was taken