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no blind appetites to agitate and disorder us, we might then possess much with little danger a vessel deeply laden may Hoat in a calm sea, and
consist with the safety of a virtuous person : but when the winds blow, and the waves arise, and there is a bottomless gulph underneath ready to swallow us up, the meanest understanding must be convinced, that abundance is not to be coveted. Suppose à ship to be laden with the treasures of the Indies ; suppose her to be painted and gilded, and carved * with all possible elegance; of what use is all this, when she is going to be cast away with her own weight? Then the plain empty vessel, which goes light over the waves, and will convey her passengers safe into the port, is rather to be chosen. Look at the
great and the wealthy of this world, and see how often they are tossed about with storm and passion, beyond the lot of other men ; the slaves of pride, avarice, and ambition; to the torment of their lives and the hazard of their souls. They that will be rich, saith the Apostle, fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown, men in destruction and perdition. This is too often the fatal effect of their abundance. Therefore,
* Nil pictis timidus navita puppibus
let not the rich, who are in such perils, despise the humble but safer condition of the not him, that is laden with the possessions of life, boast himself against those why possess little or nothing. We are embarked on a dangerous ocean ; and the great question with us all is no other than this, What shall we do to be saved ? One method is, to lighten the vessel, so far as it is necessary; to throw aside every weight that may endanger our salvation; and to cast out even the wheat itself into the sea, if it shall please God to make that a condition of our deliverance; that so we may escape out of this troublesome world naked and unprovided to the heavenly shore.
6. There is another wonderful passage in this account of St. Paul's shipwreck, the last on which I shall at present offer my observations ; this is the counsel of the soldiers to kill the prisoners, lest any of them should swim out and escape. As St. Paul himself, being a prisoner, must have fallen a sacrifice in this barbarous execution, we have here a striking instance of the insensibility and brutality of the human mind, when it is neither polished by learning, nor rectified and softened by a knowledge of God. How strange is it, that these soldiers have neither the gratitude nor the compassion
to start at the consequence of their bloody proposal ; for the sake of St. Paul, to whom they were indebted, not only for admonition and instruction, but also for their lives. His prayers for them all, which, without doubt, his piety would offer daily and hourly in a time of such distress, received this answer by an angel, “ Lo, * God hath given thee all them that sail with " thee.” As to the soldiers, he had preserved their lives in a more especial manner, by detecting the treachery of the shipmen, and preventing their escape. When men have been fellow-sufferers (and such were all on board this vessel) it naturally endears them to one another. So many days and nights as they had been exercised with such imminent danger, and had despaired of life together, it would rather be expected, that they should congratulate each other on their common deliverance. But there are some hard minds, which are never to be wrought upon : such men would have stained their swords with the blood of their deliverer. After this example, surely no minister of Jesus Christ ought to be surprized, as if some new thing had happened to him, if after all his en, deavours he finds some of those among whom he has exercised his ministry repay all his kindness with indifference: nay, if they should even oppose him, and hate him, and rise up in arms against him, for an attention to their welfale, and a desire of promoting their reformation and improvement. Vice, wherever it is found, has an interest against the ministers of the gospel; it therefore always was disobedient, contradictory, ungrateful and unmerciful; and such we must expect to find it at this day. What? are we greater than St. Paul ? No, we are not to be named with him ; our powers in the ministry are nothing when compared with his : it must therefore follow most certainly, that where he could make no impression, we shall make none: the same sort of persons who would have killed him, will
neglect and despise us; and such there will be, more or less in all places; persons of no breeding, of no feeling; who having not God himself in all their thoughts, have no regard to any thing, or any person that belongs to him ; who, if you were to save their lives, could never be won over to any decency or respect. Men are as different from men, as men from brutes; and the gift of God's grace, or the want of it, makes all the difference.
My dear brethren, when we consider these things, our duty, as deducible from the whole, ik, to be thankful to God for the labours, and
sufferings, and example of St. Paul, by whose preaching we Gentiles have been brought to the knowledge of the Gospel: and if we should be called upon to suffer contradiction, or reproach, or shipwreck, for the truth's sake, the same God that delivered him, can own and deliver us in all dangers and adversities : he that rescued his apostle from the fury of the waves, and the cruelty of unthinking heathen soldiers, can deliver all those who are engaged in the same undertakings, and bring them safe from a tempestuous sea of trouble in this world to his heavenly land ; there to reign in
there to reign in peace with apostles and martyrs, under the captain of their salvation, Jesus Christ our Lord.