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66 FOOLISHNESS IS BOUND IN THE HEART OF A CHILD."
PROV. xxü. 15.
Yes, and such a foolishness" as constitutes sin; for, be it remembered, that the terms " fool" and "foolishness" are employed in holy writ to convey a meaning far more solemn and emphatic than is now generally attached to them. The "fool" is, in fact, one who wilfully disobeys or denies the authority of God; and "foolishness” means that innate self-will, and propensity to, and delight in disobedience to the divine commands, which we find in the heart of every unrenewed child of Adam. Hence, it is one of the great and gracious works of the Holy Spirit, in regenerating mankind, to supplant this “ foolishness," and to make them wise unto salvation, by a heart-purifying faith in Jesus Christ, a faith which works by love, and constrains to a willing and unreserved obedience. Thus does the rod of divine correction and mercy drive it out; and no sooner is this ork ccomplished, than the subject of so necessary and mo
mentous a transformation, stands forth a wonder unto many, and still more, a wonder unto himself! From an elevation in mental and spiritual attainments, he now looks back on all the way the Lord hath led him, and sees how, through all the days of his childhood and youth, of his manhood and old age, this “folly maintained its hold on his heart; and now he feels, beyond the power
of words to express, that nothing short of infinite mercy and goodness preserved him from a thousand destructions of body and of soul, into which “this foolishness" was continually hurrying him. Through all, which recollection can now bring forward of his own conduct, he sees cause for humiliation and confession of sin; through all his review of the Divine proceedings towards him in past times, he can discover nothing but unmerited compassion, and unbounded goodness and mercy. If ever one poor soul needed and received the kind offices of those angels who are the Lord's ministering servants unto the heirs of salvation, he feels assured that he himself has been that individual, and still continues to be so. There are, however, some events to which his recollections will turn with more than ordinary feeling of interest; because, in them the superintending providence of God will be more distinctly seen than in others. Such were two that occurred before I embarked on the rude and dangerous ocean; the first to which I shall allude took place when I was quite a lad.
From my earliest days I had felt a strong partiality for the water, for boisterous sports, and exploits with gunpowder, and, in short, for deeds of thoughtless mischief and dangerous enterprize. In these things I
reaped my harvest of what headstrong boys term happiness; and in these pursuits my life was so frequently brought to the very edge of destruction, that, in the retrospect, I am truly astonished at the unwearied and ever watchful care of that God whose hand I then saw not, and whose goodness and mercy were alike unfelt and unknown. It was in the evening of a fine summer day, when an elderly matron aunt, who at that time was superintending the affairs of our family in the absence of that kind and beloved mother whom we had lately followed to the grave, invited myself and a younger brother to walk out for the enjoyment of the air. had no rivers in our part of the country, our only bathing places were two large sheets of water, or ponds, in the fields. Our excursion that evening led into an inclosure, whose distant extremity bordered on the largest of these two favourite places; the temptation was a powerful one, and my heart yielded so readily, that in defiance of threats and invitations, I ran off, and, although none of my companions or any individual were there, I stript and entered the water. I could not swim; but I seldom had visited these places of amusement without going chin-deep into them, a thing I had often done in this very water, but then it had always been on the opposite side. My thoughtlessness and blindness to danger took for granted, that as I hitherto had received no harm, I should encounter none for the time to come. And of one serious fact I was then entirely ignorant, and there was none present to inform me, namely, that a few years ago the pond had been laid dry, and a great deepening made on this side by
digging gravel. As may aunt and brother had been unable to retain me with them, they proceeded to walk across the field, and arrived at the margin of the water just in time to hear me cry out for help, and to see me go down. The truth is, I had but for a short time enjoyed the fruits of my "foolishness," before I stumbled into the deep gravel pits, and was quickly out of sight. What the feelings of the standers by were I cannot realizo; but I have, at this hour, a tolerable recollection of my own convulsive struggles, of the state of suffocation I endured, of the general confusion, as well as of the few distinct thoughts which preyed on the mind, though I cannot convey the import of these recollections to another person; nor need any one regret his inability to realize them. I can only say, that what I then felt and feared, have, on many subsequent occasions, much increased the agonies of my mind while commiserating others whom I have seen struggling, sinking, and dying in the briny deep, without being able to afford them any assistance. As far as my observations have gone,
that persons in deep water, under circumstances any way similar to mine, do generally, in the convulsive struggles of suffocation, come to the surface two or three times, never oftener, and frequently not so often. In my struggling, after first going down, I rose for a few seconds, and then sunk, and rose again; and again I went down, and once more I appeared at the surface ! During this short and awful period, my brother, who was naturally timid and irresolute, seemed to be inspired with a new nature and wisdom beyond his age, and
former self; so that, instead of being paralyzed or fran. tic with what quite overpowered my aunt, he flew to that part of the bank nearest to which I had last appeared, and holding on with one hand by some branches of a dwarf tree, he threw his body, as far as possible, over the pond, if peradventure I might come up again within his reach. Scarcely had he thus taken his stand, than I came, for the third time, to the surface, and, unconscious of his situation, I threw my arm involuntarily, and at full stretch, in a direct line towards his, which was already extended to its full length; by this means he was just enabled to grasp my wrist, to drag my head above water, and eventually to get me on dry ground, in a state of as much exhaustion as was possible to sustain, with the preservation of the senses and recollection. Thus did a kind and gracious Providence snatch me from a watery grave in my very youth, and make it evident to every reflecting believer in holy writ, that it was His work. I have never thought of this event for many years past, without seeing the finger of God in all its parts. The conduct of my brother on this occasion was altogether above himself; and then, had I not come up where I actually did, and thrown out the arm exactly where I involuntarily extended it, I must have gone down, and in a few seconds more have rested my poor perishing frame on the deep gravel bottom, in all the quietude of death ; while the soul, un-taught and uninterested in that Holy Name whereby alone man can be saved, would have returned unto God who gave it, to give an account of all the deeds done in the body.