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And yet this is not done: The Oppressions and Insults of base and barbarous Wretches are often not prevented : And the Good are not only assaulted from that Quarter, but sometimes from Sorrows and Dangers, that speak a more immediate Hand of God. Such was the Tempest in the Text ; Such are many Troubles and Disasters in Human Life ; And, as in That Christ was aseep, so in These, God seems to take little or no notice, of his Suffering Servants. For the reconciling all which, with a Just and Holy, a Wise and Watchful Providence, I beg it may be considered in the
II. Second Place ; That, though the Best Men, and the Best Actions, are not secured from Sufferings and Dangers ; yet are those Sufferings and Dangers always directed to the Good of the Parties concerned ; and ordained by Providence, for wise Reasons, and excellent Purposes. Of These Many may be unknown to Us; and of Those that are, or may be known, Some are without the compass of my present Design. For this reaches no farther, than to our Adversities, in proportion to the Case of the Disciples here: and consequently, to such Reasons and Ends alone, as suit with those, whereby we may reasonably gather our Blessed Lord induced, to suffer the Coming of this Distress
1. One of these Reasons seems to have been the Bringing them to a modest and humble Opinion of themselves. Mention is frequently made of their failing in this Point : And their exceeding Forwardness, to give themselves the Preference, not only above the rest of the World, but also before one another. Now the Honour of retaining to, and an intimate Friendship and Acquaintance with their Divine Master, The partaking in his Privacies, and being there let into the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven, were Privileges, exceeding valuable in them
selves ; likely to draw upon them the Respects of Others, and not less so, to beget in Themselves pleasing Imaginations of somewhat more than ordinary, that should dispose our Lord thus to distinguish, and as it were cull out them, from the rest of Mankind. Now, what could be more proper to refute these Notions, and prevent their mischievous Consequences ; than putting those supposed Excellencies to the Touch, and convincing them, by such an Experiment, how little they were removed above common Men, how far from answering the glorious Idea, which they had formed of their mighty Proficiency, and, yet untried, Virtue?
Thus we have reason to believe good Men in general dealt with, whose Prosperity is but too prone to turn God's Blessings into Poyson ; and taint the Virtue they have, with fond and lofty Conceits of their own Merit. And it is, no doubt, an Instance of the Wisdom and Goodness of Providence, to shew such to themselves : To instruct them by Sufferings and Dangers ; and seemingly to neglect and forsake them for a while ; that they may feel their own Weakness, when the Enemy attacks them. Such sensible Proofs soon teach them, that, how great soever they may represent themselves to themselves, and whatever imaginary Fights and Triumphs they may act over in their own Fancies, yet in truth that Strength, which faints in the Day of Adversity, is but, can be but small ; and That, which resists and conquers in such a Day, is not their own, but His, whose Grace enables them to stand, and gets it self Glory of their Infirmities and Temptations. Which leads me to,
2. A second Reason for Christ's permitting the Difficulty upon
his Disciples ; Even, that they might hereby attain to just Apprehensions of his Power and Goodness, and higher degrees of Faith and Trust in Him. No Body need be told, how quick a Sense we have, where our own Persons or Interests are touched; and what deep Impressions those Dangers and Deliverances make, which, when our Brethren only are concerned, are entertained but coldly. Thus the prefent Terror and Distress would not fail to affect the Disciples more tenderly, and to have a more vigorous and lasting Influence ; than our Lord's Cleansing Lepers, giving Sight to the Blind, healing the Sick at a distance, raising the Dead with a Word, or any the most amazing Instances upon Others, of which they were only Spectators.
And so we may say in general, that AMictions are of use even to Good Men, for refreshing their Memories, rouzing their Thoughts, and settling Affiance in the Almighty. For, though such Persons apply themselves, more than Common Men do, to weigh the several Dispensations of Providence, and make some Profit of whatever is remarkable in the Fortunes of Others ; Yet even thus Good Men will still be Men; and, while they are so, they will not be able to consider fuch Events, with equal Warmth and Affection, as when the like shall happen to themselves.
And, as this Expedient is of Advantage to us ; from the difference of Concern for other People, in comparison of our Selves ; so is it likewise, with regard to each Man's private Affairs, considered singly and apart. For it is very visible, that nothing, which does not make some great Change in Our Atfairs, affects us strongly, or sticks long by us. The same good Providence contrives our Preservation from, and our Escapes out of, Danger. But, notwthstanding, nothing is more evident, than that constant Health and Safety do by no means move our Spirits, and awaken our Sense and Praise of the Divine Goodness, like a Recovery from Sickness just despaired of, or a Rescue from some common and imminent Ruin.
They, who judge rightly, will discern the hand of God in both : But Few attend to this in ordinary Cases; and They, who do carry their Thoughts so far, feel their Passions more powerfully wrought upon to acknowledge, and be thankful for it, in the One Case, than the Other. So that it is good for us, even in this respect, to be sometimes in trouble ; for, did we not feel Smart and Danger, we should never know the Pleasure of Ease and Deliverance. And it may be faid with great truth, that much of the Sweets of Life would be lost, were there no mixture of Bitter and Dittasteful, to heighten their Relish, and recommend them to us.
3. Thirdly, The Providence of God might intend, by the Danger in my Text, as it certainly does by the Tryals of other Good People, to exercise these Disciples, and train them up to a Constancy and Perfection in Virtue. These were the Persons, upon whom the weight of establishing the Gospel was to lie. This they were to effect, in despight of Indignities and Reproaches, Malice and unrelenting Barbarity, Oppositions on every fide, and Persecutions in every place. Fit then it was, to inure these Champions betimes ; to shew them Death in its most frightful Form; and at the same time make them fenfible, that he who could quiet the Rage of the Seas, could not want Power to subdue the Madness of the People.
Every Good Man, it must be allowed, is not designed for such vast and hazardous Undertakings ; but every Man hath a Poft appointed him by God, and the Character of a Christian to maintain. And Few arrive to any uncommon Excellencies in this Station, except Such, as make their way up to them, through Sufferings. Hence’tis, we commonly call AMictions Tryals, because they are the Test of a Man's Virtue, and discover what he really is. These are the very proof, which the Devil desired to bring Job's Integrity to. They have effects, in some measure, like high Winds, and Thunder in the Air ; or like the Fermentation of Humours in Bodies : for, as Health and Wholsoniness could not be preserved without These, so is the Soul confirmed by some Returns of violent Agitation, that awaken and exert its Powers, in Sufferings and Difficulties. And what degree of these is necessary, the great Physician of Souls best knows; and therefore our Care must be, to submit to His Prescriptions. Thus much, however, we may see plainly ; that, the more familiar these things are made to us, the more will that Terror and Surprise wear off, which difables our first Encounters, from all that Steadiness and Decency, that becomes us. And how subject to such Confternations, very Good Men are, nay be gathered from my Second General Head.
II. The Behaviour of these Disciples under their present Danger. The 25th Verse tells us, they came to Jesus and awoke him; and herein, no doubt, they are our Examples. They teach us, whither to flee in the Necessity of our Affairs, and the Anguish of our Souls ; that Christ is a sure Refuge, our only Support, when Humane Remedies fail ; and if he be asleep, that is, if we be not answered at the first Call, not to give over, or grow weary of Praying ; but to exalt
our Voices, and double our Importunity, till we receive such Help in Time of need, as his infinite Wisdom sees expedient for us. Thus far, I say, the Disciples did their own Duty, and have directed Us in Ours. But somewhat else, 'tis evident, there was, wherein they failed, and for which they are reproved at the 26th Verse. He faith unto them, Why are ye sofearful, Oye of little Faith? or, as another Evangelist expresses it, How is it that ye have no Faith? Mark iv. 40. and St. Luke, Where is your