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God's word, and tracing them up to God, their first cause, is sweet employment for a spiritual mind, and keeps it from wandering after vanity. “ Whoso is wise and will observe these things, even they shall understand the loving kindness of the Lord.” It is laid as a reproach upon Israel, that they soon forgat his works; and those who consider not the operation of his hands, he will destroy them, and not build them up, Psal. xxviii. 5. A watchful eye on the hand of God is a great enemy to unbelief: even Thomas himself, though he gave the testimony of ten men the lie, yet he credited what he saw; yea, even the murderers of the Saviour, when they saw the whole frame of nature convulsed, said, “ Truly this was the Son of God!"
David, upon a proper reflection of the hand of God appearing so visible on him, was brought to confess that goodness and mercy had followed him all his days; and good old Jacob, on his death-bed, owned that God had fed him all his life long, and redeemed him from all evil.
Trials and difficulties have a tendency to lead us into this heavenly art of watchfulness. In deep poverty, the kind providence of God appears; in persecutions, his judgments on the wicked shew
themselves; and in soul distresses, his supporting, sin-subduing, and soul-comforting, grace is made manifest. Thus the poor widow, in her poverty, sees the spring of kind Providence in her cruse of oil; David, in his soul's deep distress, found God's wonderful grace bringing him out of the pit, and establishing his feet on the Rock; and persecuted Israel, at the Red sea, saw destruction ride in triumph.
A Christian is not in his right element if his eye is taken from the hand, or handy-works, of God. If a person in distress has no eye to God, he has work enough to bear up under it; and that soul, who
eyes him not in prosperity, robs him of his daily tribute of praise, and goes the readiest way to close the bountiful hand of his Maker, by burying his mercies in oblivion. Unwatchfulness, ingratitude, and covetousness, are enough to entail a curse upon all our temporal mercies; and he that boasts of his wisdom, prudence, and industry, is said to sacrifice to his own net, and burn incense to his own drag, Hab. i. 16. This is not acting like a Christian, but like the king of Babylon, who walked in his palace, boasting of his majesty, honour, and buildings, till the thundering voice of God knocked him from his pinna
cle, and levelled him with the brute creation, till seven years rolled over his head; and, when he was brought to his senses, he owned that the Most High ruled.
I must confess I have too frequently, to Gods: dishonour, and my own soul's discomfort, been off my watch tower; but the few observations that I have made of his providence have loudly proclaimed his tender and parental care both for me and my family; and the judgments which I have seen a just God inflict on his enemies have as loudly proclaimed his discriminating grace and terrible majesty; while my own weaknesses and imperfections have deeply instructed me in his long forbearance, mercy, faithfulness, and unchangeable love in Christ Jesus.
The present subject is not a very pleasing one; but perhaps God may own it to the encouragement of his tried children, or to caution an enemy of Christ. I intend treating only of those judgments of God which I have known him to inflict on persecutors, who have opposed the ministry that I have received, and who am the most unworthy instrument he ever made use of in his vineyard; “ but by the grace of God I am what I am.”
If my reader be an opposer of the Gospel, God may bless it as a caution; and, if a Christian indeed, mercy may appear the sweeter. sing then of mercy and judgment: but mercy stands first; therefore we must sing of mercy in the highest key.
I should not have sent this awful account of God's judgments abroad into the world, if the word of God had forbidden it. But, when God raised
Pharaoh as a butt for his vengeance, it was that his sovereign name, in the administration of judgment and mercy, might be proclaimed throughout the earth. And indeed the Acts of the Apostles abound with accounts of God's judgments. Nor should I have hinted at the names of the persons on whom these judgments fell, had not the scripture informed me of Pashur, Ananias, Sceva the Jew, Sapphira, Herod, Elymas the sorcerer, &c. all distinguished both by their actions and names. Therefore we ought to behold the works of God, in order that we may declare amongst the people his doings; and to say, with pious Job,“ that which is with the Almighty will I not conceal.” God may bless this awful account to some poor soul who is at war with his Maker; if so, I shall have my reward. May the Lord,