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souls. Thus, oftentimes, it carries them to places where they intended not to go; God having, unknown to them, some elect vessels there, who must be called by the gospel.
Thus Paul and Timothy, a sweet and lovely pair, when they were travelling through Phrygia and Galatia, were forbid to preach the Word in Asia, to which probably their minds inclined (Acts xvi. 6); and when they essayed to go into Bithynia, the Spirit suffered them not (verse 7): but a man of Macedonia-i. e. an angel in the shape or habit of a man of that country-appeared to Paul in a vision, and prayed him, saying, “Come over into Macedonia, and help us” (verse 9); and there did God open the heart of Lydia.
I knew a pious minister, now with God, who, falling in his study upon a very rousing subject, intended for his own congregation, was strongly moved, when he had finished it, to go to a rude, vile, profane people, about five miles off, and first preach it to them: after many wrestlings with himself, not being willing to quench any motion that might be supposed to come from the Spirit of God, he obeyed and went to this people, who had then no minister of their own, and few durst come among them; and there did the Lord, beyond all expectation, open a door, and several profane ones received Christ in that place, and engaged this minister to a weekly lecture among them, in which many souls were won to God.
The same holy man, at another time, being upon a journey, passed by a company of vain persons, who were wrestling upon a green near the road; and just as he came against the place, one of them had thrown his antagonist, and stood triumphing in his strength and activity. This good man rode up to them, and turning his speech to this person, told him, “Friend, I see you are a strong man, but yet let not the strong man glory in his strength: you must know that you are not to wrestle with flesh and blood, but with principalities and powers, and spiritual wickednesses : how sad will it be that Satan should at last trip up
the heels of your hope, and give you an eternal overthrow!" And after about a quarter of an hour's serious discourse upon this subject he left them, and went on his journey; but this discourse made such an impression, that the person had no rest till he opened his trouble to a godly minister, who, wisely following the work upon his soul, saw at last the blessed issue thereof in the gracious change of the person, whereof he afterwards gave the minister a joyful account. Oh! how unsearchable are the methods of Providence in this matter.
The Suicide Saved.
In the year 1673, there came into this port a ship of Poole, in her return from Virginia; in which ship was one of that place, a lusty young man, of twenty-three years of age, who was surgeon in the ship. This person in the voyage fell into a deep melancholy, which the devil greatly improved to serve his own design for the ruin of this poor man; however, it pleased the Lord to restrain him from any attempts upon his own life, until he arrived here. But shortly after his arrival, upon the Lord's day, early in the morning, being in bed with his brother, he took a knife prepared for that purpose, cut his own throat, and withal leaped out of the bed: and though the wound was deep and large, yet thinking it might not soon enough despatch his wretched life, he desperately gave himself another stab, and so lay wallowing in his own blood, till his brother awaking made a cry for help: hereupon a physician and a surgeon coming in, found the wound in his throat mortal; and all they could do at present was only to stitch it, and apply a plaster, with a design rather to enable him to speak for a little while, than with any expectation of cure; for, before that, he breathed through the wound, and his voice was inarticulate.
In this condition I found him that morning; and appreVOL. II.
hending him to be within a few minutes of eternity, I laboured to work upon his heart the sense of his condition, telling him I had but little time to do anything for him, and therefore desired him to let me know what his own apprehensions of his present condition were. He told me he hoped in God for eternal life. I replied, that I feared his hopes were ungrounded, for that the Scripture tells us, "no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him"--but this was self-murder, the grossest of all murders; and, insisting upon the aggravation and heinousness of the fact, I perceived his vain confidence began to fall, and some meltings of heart appeared in him. He then began to lament his sin and misery with many tears, and asked me if there might yet be hope for one that had destroyed himself, and shed his own blood. I replied, the sin indeed is great, but not unpardonable; and if the Lord gave him repentance unto life, and faith to apply to Jesus Christ, it should be certainly pardoned to him; and finding him unacquainted with these things, I opened to him the nature and necessity of faith and repentance, which he greedily sucked in, and with great vehemence cried to God that he would work them upon his soul, and entreated me also to pray with him and for him, that it might be so. I prayed with him, and the Lord thawed his heart exceedingly in that duty: loth he was to part with me; but the duties of the day necessitating me to leave him, I briefly summed up what was most necessary in my parting counsel to him, and took my leave, never expecting to see him more in this world. But, beyond my own and all men's expectations, he continued all that day, and panted most ardently after Jesus Christ; no discourses pleased him but Christ and faith; and in this frame I found him in the evening. He rejoiced greatly to see me again, and entreated me to continue my discourses upon these subjects; and, after all, told me—“Sir, the Lord hath given me repentance for this sin; yea, and for every other sin, I see the evil of sin now, in such a
SALVATION TO THE UTTERMOST.
light as I never saw it before. Oh! I loathe myself; I am a vile creature in my own eyes; I do also believe; ‘Lord, help my unbelief.' I am heartily willing to take Christ upon His own terms. One thing only troubles me; I doubt this bloody sin will not be pardoned. Will Jesus Christ," said he, "apply His blood to me, that have shed my own blood?” I told him, Christ shed His blood even for them that with wicked hands had shed the blood of Christ; and that was a deeper sin than his. "Well,” saith he, “I will cast myself upon Christ; let Him do by me what He will.” And so I parted with him that niglit.
Next morning, the wounds were to be opened; and then, the opinion of the surgeons was, he would immediately expire. But so it was, that both the deep wounds healed; and the more dangerous wound sin had made upon his soul was, I trust, effectually healed also. I spent many hours with him, in that sickness; and, after his return home, received this account from Mr Samuel Hardy, a minister in that town, part whereof I shall transcribe :
“ DEAR SIR,—I was much troubled at the sad providence in your town, but did much rejoice that he fell into such hands for his body and soul. You have taken much pains with him, and, I hope, to good purpose. I think, if ever a great and thorough work were done in such a way, it is now; and if never the like, I am persuaded now it is. Never grow weary of good works. One such instance is, methinks, enough to make
abound in the work of the Lord all your days,” &c. Oh, how unsearchable are the ways of Providence in leading men to Christ ! Let none be encouraged by this to sin, that grace may abound. These are rare and singular instances of the mercy of God, and such as no presumptuous sinner can expect to find. It is only recited here to the honour of Providence, which works for the recovery of sinners in ways that we understand not. Oh,what a fetch hath Providence beyond our understandings !
The Penice Glass. Nor can we here forget that miraculous work of Providence, in a time of great extremity, which was wrought for that good gentlewoman, Mrs Honeywood—and is somewhere mentioned by the same author [Mr Bolton)-who, under a deep and sad desertion, refused and put off all comfort, seeming to despair utterly of the grace and mercy of God. A worthy minister being one day with her, and reasoning against her desperate conclusions, she took a Venice glass from the table, and said, "Sir, I am as sure to be damned as this glass is to be broken," and therewith threw it forcibly to the ground; but, to the astonishment of both, the glass remained whole and sound : which the minister taking up with admiration, rebuked her presumption, shewing her what a wonder Providence had wrought for her satisfaction, and it greatly altered the temper of her mind. “Oh, how unsearchable are His ways ! and His paths past finding out! Lo, these are parts of His ways; but how small a portion do we know of Him!”
Upon the Harvest Season.
[Mr Flavel's immediate charge was a seafaring population, and into the dangers and excitements of the deep he entered with something of a sailor's enthusiasm.
Nor are there many books so well adapted for Sunday reading on ship-board as his “New Compass for Seamen ; or, Navigation Spiritualised," with the appended discourses. He confesses that he was more at home afloat than in the fields; but, in order to extend his usefulness, he took pains to acquaint himself with agricultural processes, and has embodied the result in “Husbandry Spiritualised; or, The Heavenly Use of Earthly Things." And a wonderfully successful and charming book he has made it. Like Flavel, our late dear, and ever-memorable friend,