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LECT. do we see, who have no greater diversion, Se than to impose upon the innocent, and ter
tify people with vain fears, or mock at them when they are betrayed into real dangers.
The wise man, considering how fools make a mock at sin; how outrageous men are in their mirth, how perverse in their ways, how corrupt and irrational in their pleasures, pronounces upon them in plain terms; the heart of the fons of men is full of evil, yea madness is in their heart while they live, and after that they go to the dead. * (Ratione expulfà, sensuq. religionis amoto, quæ immanitas, quæ feritas, quæ dementia non illico exoritur ?) of without true religion to sober them and bring them to a right mind, men are in fact as much out of the way as lunatics; and worse in one respect, that they are still accountable as free agents for that reason which vice has extinguished. The man who does not see and consider that he is come into this world to be saved by Jesus * Monita & præcepta Christiana, p. 104. Eccles. ix. 3:
Chrift, is an ideot to all intents and pur- LECT. poses in the sight of God. If he is upon his defence against the power of the gofpel, and puts it from him with those words of the demoniac, “ Why art thou come to torment us?” he is a madman of the first class, to whom the poor lunatic, with a sceptre of straw, is an hopeful character.
Miserable is the condition of men under temptation or possession from evil spirits : but the power of grace fets us free from their terrors, with those comfortable words, Who is he that all harm you if ye be followers of that which is good? As a pledge to assure us of which, our Saviour gave to his apostles an evident superiority over the powers of darkness : Behold I give you power to tread on serpents and score pions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing Mall by any means hurt you.* Who is this enemy? The enemy of Christians is the devil; and such poisonous vermin as ferpents and scorpions are the em
* Luke x. 19. . . T
LECT. blems of him and his children. A mira.
culous power over these creatures which hurt the body, was an outward assurance to the world, that he who wounds, the soul shall have no power to hurt a Christian. When the viper fastened on the hand of Paul, he shook him off into the fire from whence he came: and thither, into the element prepared for him, shall the devil be shaken off by the faith of those whom he assaults.
Another great miracle, and the last I shall take notice of, is that of our Saviour stilling the raging of the sea, and delivering his disciples in a storm. We, like them, are embarked with Christ in the ark of his church, and are subject to many dangers and terrors upon the waves of this troublesome world. So long as we are in the world, we shall be exposed to the cares and troubles of this mortal life. Sometimes the elevations of pride and ambition lift us up toward the heaven; at other times disappointment and despair oppress us, and the deep threatens to swallow us
up: while the Saviour in whom we have LECT. trusted seems to sleep, as if he were leaving us to perish in the storm. But the prayer of faith will at last awake him : we are therefore to trust in the worst of times, that he who rebuked the winds and the sea, when his disciples cried out, Lord fave us, we perish, will after the fame example fave us when we pray to him; that he will lefsen our cares, and quiet our passions, and restore us to peace, so that there shall be a great calm : the winds shall drop, the sun shall shine out, and there Thall be peace of conscience, which is the greatest calm in this world.
Thus it appears that all the miracles of Christ have a figurative acceptation. From them we learn all the distempers of our souls, and where we are to apply for the cure of them.
To open this subject. still farther, I desire you will observe what a curious opposition there is between the miracles of Christ, and the workings of Satan. As T 2
LECT. the power of Christ was exercised in such
works of salvation as were proper to his character as the Saviour of Souls; so there is a surprising agreement between the outward works of the devil on the persons of men, and his inward works upon their minds ; insomuch that his character, as a destroyer, is not less evident in the scripture, than that of Jesus Christ as a Saviour. From fome opportunities fatan had of Thewing his power, we see how it is exercised. When some strolling Jews took upon them to deliver one that was poffeffed, the man, in whom the evil spirit was, leapt upon them, as a lion would leap upon his prey, and they fled out of that house naked and wounded. He who here strips men, and tears off their clothes, is the same that left Adam naked in paradise; whọ delights still to repeat the same act, or even to see the shadow of it in nakedness and wretchedness: therefore the poor demoniac, who resided among the tombs, ware no clothes.*
* Luke viji. 27.