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according to the multitude of his tender mercies. But, surely, there is enough, in the bitter tragedy of his sufferings, to make all persons, who venture to imitate him in his besotting sin, tremble to think of their perilous situation. The most ingenious, the most acute, and I may add, the most profane and hardened libertine, must utterly fail, in seeking, from the story of Samson, the smallest encouragement to his vices.
In the Text we see, that Sampson truly humbled himself and prayed before the Lord, in the hour of his distress. He is by no means one of the most exemplary Saints : Yet a Saint he is : So Scripture hath positively declared. And here it may not be unreasonable to ask, When do the profane libertines of the present day call upon God? Who ever hears or sees signs of their praying? Who ever hears them use the name of God at all, unless it be to profane it by swearing, or by irreverent exclamation? Such persons therefore must not compare themselves with Samson : And, let me, further, inform them, that the instances of his impurities are, probably, much fewer in number than theirs ; besides that more is expected from them, because more is given to them under the Christian dispensation. I have only to add briefly and plainly, that the heavy curse of God is at present upon them; and I exhort them to escape by repentance and belief of the truth.
2. There is also an instructive lesson against pride and vain-glory in the subject of the Text. How natural is it for dust and ashes to be proud, though nothing is more unsuitable, when we consider our helplessness and sinfulness. “ Heaps upon heaps !"
This is the same spirit with which the successful tradesman is apt to say, “My power, and the might of mine hand hath gotten me this wealth. But thou shalt remember the Lord thy God : for it is he that giveth thee power to get wealth *.” Oh! think of this, ye who have prospered in life; and see that you give God the glory. If you forget to honour him" in whose hand your breath is, and whose are all your ways t,” you will justly provoke him against you, as Belshazzar did by his pride. Think, in these trying days, how many persons, once richer and more splendid than you, are now in rags and wretchedness! Tremble to think what may be your own case.
If you ascribe, even secretly, to your own merit and industry what came from the goodness of God, you will provoke the Lord to anger, and he will make
your own helplessness and your dependance upon him.
Samson soon felt the punishment of his pride, by the intolerable thirst with which he was afflicted : and, sooner or later, all men must bow to God. Better, infinitely better, to do so in this life, that we may receive the humble Jesus, and live. But if we never learn this till we learn it with the rich man, who fared sumptuously every day, it will be, where we shall not have a drop of water to cool our tongues. Let persons of health, of strength, of riches, of gay appearance in life, who never felt poverty and want, be humbled before God. See how Samson prays in his distress : He felt his obligations to God; and called the place by a name which intimated the sense he had of the divine goodness to him. Learn to remember and glorify God in prosperity. A time may come, in this life, when in poverty and want you may bitterly res member in what wanton pride you rebelled against the Lord. Take heed of the pride of dress, of furniture, of equipage, of substance. Surely, while you are in so vain-glorious a state, you can get no good from the Lord. Pride blinds your eyes: Satan loves to have it so; and what will you do when all the things, upon which now you so much set your hearts, shall vanish away?
* Deut. vii. 17 & 18. + Dan. V. 23
3. Worldly pride is thus instructively rebuked by the case of Samson. And whosoever has indulged himself in proud contemplations on his own good management and abilities, without thankfulness to God, and without giving him glory, if, in future, he should be converted to God, must, in the nature of things, measure back his steps, in bitter repentance, and feel with pain the remembrance of all that haughty, ostentatious pleasure, in which he was sunk in the days of his ease and prosperity. But SPIRITUAL pride is also justly rebuked from the same case of Samson.
He, who without any humbling self-knowledge has deluded himself into false comfort, false peace, and false liberty, may fancy himself not only a child of God, but also a very eminent one; and may be flattered by Satan's delusions with great joys and excessive delights of a distempered imagination. Many well-disposed people, probably his superiors in the grace and faith of Christ, may much admire him, while they listen to the fluent account which he is ever ready to give of his own great attainments; and hence, it happens not unfrequently, that truly humble souls are made sad; because through the sense which they have of
weakness and corruption, they cannot exult so much in the consciousness of having made any considerable progress in the Christian life. And unless professors of religion learn more modesty, and avail themselves more of the instructions of Ministers, and of wise and experienced Christians, than many of them seem inclined to do, there appears to be no end of the false religion which is in this way encouraged.
In the mean time that observation of St. Paul is found true;
they shall proceed no further; for their folly shall be manifest to all men*.” The proud, scandalous, irregular, and irreverent conduct of these high-minded ones, at length, becomes evident to all men ; and those who once admired them are convinced that they were deceived; for a haughty spirit goes before a fall; and nothing in religion, let it look ever so fair, can stand or have a solid bottom that is not grounded on humility.
It would be happy indeed, if proud, spiritually proud, people, who have boasted of their having vanquished enemies, “ heaps upon heaps,” become sensible what poor empty creatures they really are: then they may be brought to cry to the Lord, athirst for his grace. And, let it be ever remembered to the comfort of all who seek God, that “ the Lord heareth the poor, and despiseth not his prisoners ; let the humble hear thereof and be glad.”
Of those who deal largely in spiritual pride I have little hope: advice is, usually, lost upon them: they treat with a scornful sort of pity those who would advise them for their good; for there are hardly any Teachers in the world whom they look on as capable of instructing such wise persons as they are in their own conceit. I truly fear to expose divine things to the contempt of the profane, who love to hear the description and explanation of the faults of those who profess themselves to be religious. But these, in their turn, should consider, that if they themselves have not SPIRITUAL PRIDE, they have WORLDLY PRIDE; and pride in any form, being indulged without controul, will fit a man for no society but that of Satan, who is the king of pride. However, faithfulness to the Pastoral Office has required me to set forth plainly the fault of presumptuous professors of religion; and the rather, because one cannot do it by private advice, for they are above consulting Ministers. In the mean time those sincere persons, who unhappily may have been partly seduced by this proud spirit, will reap real benefit, if they are made sensible of their fault. Let them beg of God to give them a true conviction of their wants and miseries, and the Lord, who heard Samson, will quench their thirst, and satisfy their souls with good.
2 Tim. iii. 9.
4. But is there here a poor broken-hearted spirit, athirst for God in Christ, conscious of sin, and ready to give up all for lost? Take courage, be strong, fear not.
“ The parched ground shall become a pool, and the thirsty land springs of water.” To thee Christ speaks, even to thee, and calls thee to come to him for rest. But,
6 I see no way, my steps are in the dark,” sayest thou ? « I feel nothing but bondage, helplessness, and death." This is the state to which many repenting souls are brought; and I would to God they were more frequent among us, even as I have known them to