1. At the commencement of my journey, I must take a
passage-boat; and how noble the contrivance, thus to be wafted from shore to
shore! Let me see divine wisdom shining in the devices of men.
Here I find old and young, male and female, men of
different stations and various employments; and in the safety of the vessel
we are all equally interested. This is a picture of human society.
The sea is a stormy element; the winds roar, the waves
rage, and some of the passengers are both fearful and very sick, though
others are cheerful and courageous. Thus is our voyage through human life;
tempests attack us, various afflictions rage around us, and inward grief and
vexation make us sick at the very heart. But some have a more pleasant
passage through life, and others, by a steady faith in God, remain tranquil
and serene. We meet other passage-boats and with the same wind we pass them,
and reach opposite shores; so saints and sinners; whether prosperity or
adversity fill their sails, steer for opposite shores.
2. I find, in some parts on the shore a scarcity of good
fresh water; and yet an ocean of water swells them. So, some men, in the
midst of all abundance, never taste of true joy, or solid consolation. And
the whole creation, to an immortal soul, will prove but like salt water to a
thirsty man, never able to allay his thirst, or ease his grief.
But the inhabitants having other conveniences, put up
with this; and, alas! shall not we often put up with greater losses for
trifles? How many sit still under erroneous preachers, rather than forego
the least convenience to hear an evangelical minister?
3. Traveling along the coast, I come among some very
sinking sands, which makes my journey both painful and tedious. But, when I
reach the sands that are often washed with the sea, I walk with ease and
delight. So it is safer and sweeter to walk in an afflicted lot, that is
often washed with the briny wave of adversity, than in the wealth and ease
of the worldling.
4. I find cloth soaked in the sea, to prepare for
whitening, and left to be covered by the waves, and so secured, that when
the sea retires, the owners find all safe. Even so, afflictions and trials
shall prepare the saints for glory; and though, in their own eyes, and in
the eyes of others, they may seem drowned in distress, and cry out, "All
your waves and your billows are gone over me," yet well does the heavenly
Owner know how to preserve, in the midst of great waters, his own people,
and at last to deliver out of all trouble, and present them faultless before
his presence with exceeding joy!
5. It is now tide of ebb, and, though the waves roll with
fury, and threaten to recover what they have lost, still they retire, until
all the shore is left dry. So, O saint! so, O soul! shall it be with your
corruptions; they may rage and threaten to return—but still they shall lose
ground, until they shall never more be seen. Though corruptions should seem
as strong as ever, yet the time of their continuance is daily growing
shorter. This may be comfort to many a poor soul, that, though sin should
rage ever so fiercely, still it is but the last efforts—the desperate
struggles of a wounded, dying enemy.
But the tide of flood calls to mind the melancholy case
of sinners; for, though the waves seem often to recoil and relinquish what
they had gained, still every following billow advances further than the
former, until the briny surge possesses all the shore; so, whatever checks
of conscience, and partial reformations may take place, still the wicked
proceed from evil to worse, until the soul is drowned in sin, and lost in
6. What abundant variety of all things does the sea
produce! The ground that lies along the coast is enriched with sea-weeds,
and is very fertile. Our tables are supplied from the deeps; and sometimes,
when the crop has failed, the ocean has poured in its plenty and supplied
the poor. Such is the divine goodness. His bounty is an ocean that supplies
all our needs, and still overflows. From him come all our comforts, from him
our blessings flow; and still they overflow! He gives grace, and he will
give glory. He gives himself—and that is all in all.
7. Fields enriched with every grain, and verdant pastures
stored with flocks and herds, are not far off. But my ordained path is to
walk along a rocky, barren shore. Many a traveler has gone this way, and a
new road is not to be made for my fancy and pleasure. So must every person,
and so must I, walk in that very path Providence has appointed me, however
rugged, however afflicting it may prove! It is the way, and no other, that
will lead to our better country—to our Father's house. To be running every
now and then in quest of a more pleasant way, will only add to my toil, and
lengthen my journey. Just so, to fret under affliction, and to be
discontented with our condition, may make us more miserable, and add a sharp
edge to our anguish—but can do us no good. It is comfort, though the road is
rugged—that leads me to the house of my friend. Just so—if I arrive at last
at my heavenly Father's house, who is a friend who sticks closer than a
brother—I ought to put up with every trouble and inconvenience along the
8. I have walked a good way all alone—but I have had
company for some miles. But such such company, that I welcome my solitude
again. Let this be a caution to be slow in choosing companions; and how
happy they who have agreeable, godly companions, along the crooked road of
life, whose pious dialogues will brighten the day, shorten the way, and
cheer each other to their journey's end.
9. Sands that were lately covered with the tide, are now,
by a strong wind—blown in my face; a sudden change indeed! And how soon do
people, who had once been in deep affliction—turn vain and frothy! Our
natural vanity and levity is so great, that none but the Searcher of hearts
can know it.
10. I find a man sitting in something like a centry-box,
and take him for a criminal. But how surprised, on inquiry, to find that he
is a kind of judge, and determines disputes on shore. More surprised shall
thousands be at the great day, to see the saints, who have been held as
criminals, and as such have been banished, beheaded, and burnt—sit as judges
of the world, and of angels.
11. I find doves dwelling securely in the rocks; the
ocean foams before them, the tempests roar around them—but they are safe at
home; and, on their nimble wings, fly where they will. Just so, safe are the
saints who dwell in the Rock Christ, in the rock of ages! And on the wing of
faith they fly from all surrounding ills, to the heavenly rest, the land of
promise, and paradise of bliss!
12. A light shower falls from heaven, and falls on the
salt sea with the same abundance that it does on the fruitful field, or
pasture-ground. Just so—to how many has the gospel been preached that have
never believed the heavenly report? Among thorns, by the wayside, and on
stony ground, has the good seed been sown, which came to nothing. But Heaven
will be sovereign in his kindness to all, and sinners inexcusable who perish
in their unbelief.
13. Innumerable creatures sport in the sea, and a variety
of fowl fly along the shore. There is an element for every creature, and
every creature loves and lives in its element. Then, am I an expectant of
heaven, and a candidate for glory—and yet will I wallow in earthly things?
If born from above, I should find delight in spiritual things, and desire to
14. When come in sight of, and not far distant from the
house to which I am going, a little rivulet presents itself, through which I
must go to reach my destiny. I learn there is a bridge for foot-passengers,
(but neither for horses nor carriages,) built by some friendly hand over the
stream. But many a traveler knows nothing of this bridge, and so must take
the stream, whatever may ensue. This reminds me of death, which stands
between me and my Father's house, and presents itself at the end of my
journey. However terrible it may appear, the hope of communion with God may
make me leap through all dangers! Christ, indeed, has built a bridge for his
chosen to pass over. But over this bridge we can carry neither honors, nor
riches, nor relations—but, stripped of all, must walk alone, under the
conduct of our heavenly Guide. But, alas! how few know of this bridge, how
few find it—and how many perish in the stream!
15. At last I reach the dear house for which I undertook
my journey, and find a hearty reception from all my kind and much esteemed
friends. So at last shall all the saints arrive at the house of the living
God, and be blessed with the society of saints and angels, and ravished with
communion with God and the Lamb. When arrived at this state of everlasting
rest, I shall forget the dangers of my journey, and the troubles of my
earthly lot. I shall be filled with unspeakable joy in his presence, and
feasted with the glorious pleasures of his house forever!
However happy here on earth, a short time must finish my
visit, and I must leave this world. But the bliss above is everlasting. I
shall never leave the society of saints and angels. I shall never go out of
his temple. I shall never rise from his banquet! I shall never depart from
his throne! I shall never cease to behold his glory, nor be silent in his
praise! My whole soul, in every ravished power, shall be full of God, and be
wholly satisfied with God forever!