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GREAT BRITAIN'S PRESENT JOYS AND HOPES ;
IN TWO SERMONS,
PREACHED IN CHESTER.
THE FORMER ON THE NATIONAL THANKSGIVING DAY, DECEMBER 31, 1706. THE LATTER THE
DAY FOLLOWING, BEING NEW-YEAR'S DAY.
the land of our nativity; in the peace whereof we Psalm Ixv. 11.
have our share; and in the praises whereof we are Thou crownest the year with thy goodness.
unworthy of the name of Englishmen, if we do not
cheerfully bear our part. And how can we sum up AMONG other feasts of the Lord, which the Jewish our acknowledgments of God's favours to our nation, church was appointed to observe, (and many annual in more proper words than those of my text, Thou feasts they had for one fast,) one is called, The feast crownest the year with thy goodness. Common proof in-gathering at the end of the years according to vidence crowns every year with the goodness of God; the civil computation of their year. The feast we but special providences crown some years more than are, this day, solemnizing with joy, in communion others with it. with all the religious assemblies of our land, being I. Every year is crowned with God's goodness. appointed by authority on the last day of the year, We of this land have as much reason to say so as according to the vulgar reckoning, may be looked any other people; for, like Canaan, it is a land which upon as our feast of in-gathering: in it we appear the eyes of the Lord our God are always upon, from before the Lord, in whom all our joys must terminate, the beginning of the year even unto the end of the and to whom all our trophies must be consecrated. year. He who appoints the bounds of men's habiRemember therefore the law of those feasts, that tations, has appointed very well for us: The lines are none must appear before the Lord empty: if our fallen to us in such pleasant places, as forbid us to hearts be here empty, what will it avail us that our envy the situation of any of our neighbours, or of congregation is full? It is the soul that appears any nation under heaven. before God: if that be empty of holy joy in God, As we have daily mercies to give thanks for, in and holy concern for the welfare of the public, which the close of every day; so we have yearly mercies ought to fill us on such occasions, it is but the to give thanks for, in the close of every year, even carcass and shell, without the life and kernel, of a the blessings of “ Heaven above,” and the “ Earth Thanksgiving-day.
beneath ;" for both which we are indebted to him Let this feast at the end of the year be kept to who made heaven and earth, and continues the ordithe honour of that God who is the Alpha and Omega, nances of both for the benefit and comfort of that the First and the Last; both the spring, and the mean, unworthy creature,-man. centre, of all our glories. As we must begin every
1. The annual revolutions of the heavenly bodies, day and year with him, so with him we must end and the benefit we receive by their light and influboth. For of him, and through him, and to him are ences, in the several seasons of the year. Summer
and winter crown the year; God made both, and Praise is waiting for God this day in our English both for the service of men,—as well as night and Zion, and to him must the vow be performed ;5 day. The shadows of the evening are not more the vow of thanksgiving to God for his mercies to acceptable to the weary labourer, than the winter
* Exod. xxiii. 16.
Ps. Ixv. I.
« Deut. xi. 12.
d Pg. lxxiv. 16.
e Job vii. 2.
quarters of refreshment are to fatigued armies; and even after a plentiful harvest we might come short then the spring, that time when kings go forth to of, if when we bring it home God did blow upon it." war,' is as welcome to the bold and faithful soldier, In these things God does good to all, and gives them as the morning is to the honest and industrious witnesses of his being and providence, his power husbandman, who then goes forth to bis work and and bounty, sending rain from heaven and fruitful to his labour.&
seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness." And he who made summer and winter, has made And these witnesses to us, will be witnesses against both very easy and comfortable to our land. So very us, if we serve not the Lord our God with joyfulness temperate is our climate, and so well secured from and gladness of heart, in the abundance of the good both extremes, that the inconveniences neither of things he gives us; but make those things the food the heat in summer, nor of the cold in winter, are and fuel of our lusts, which were given us to be oil intolerable, nor such obstructions to business and to the wheels of our obedience. intercourse as they are in some other countries, Let us thank God for all the blessings of this kind, no farther north than Russia, nor south than Spain. with which every year of our lives has been crownSo that if our land produce not such furs as the north ed; and let not the commonness of them lower their does, and such silks as the south, we ought not to value with us, nor lessen our grateful sense of God's complain: nature did not provide them, because goodness to us in them; nor because they have been it had better provided that we should not need bitherto constant, let us therefore imagine that they them. We can bid both summer and winter wel come of course, or that to-morrow must needs be as come; each are beautiful in their season, and neither this day, and much more abundant: but let the are a terror to us. May the happy temper of our praise of all those blessings which we enjoy by the climate be infused into our minds, and our modera- constant course of nature, be given to the God of tion be known unto all men!
nature; to him let us own our obligations for what God's covenant with Noah and his sons, by which is past, and on him let us own our dependence for the seasons of the year were re-settled after the in the future, lest we provoke him to take away our corn terruption of the deluge, is the crown and glory of in the season thereof. every year: and the constant and regular succession II. Some years are, in a special manner, crowned of summer and winter, seed-time and harvest,h in with the goodness of God more than other years ; performance of that promise, is an encouragement to Thou wilt bless the crown of the year with thy goodness, our faith in the covenant of grace, which is establish- so the Seventy read it. This year, in which by exed firmly as those ordinances of heaven!'
traordinary instances, not to be paralleled in the - 2. The annual fruits and products of the earth, events of former years, thou hast made known thy grass for the cattle, and herbs for the service of men, goodness; things which the former years expected with these the earth is every year enriched for nise; not, and which the following years cannot forget, as well as beautified and adorned for show. The and will reap the benefit of. This year, which thou harvest is the crown of every year, and the great hast made—to excel other years, and to out-shine influence of God's goodness to an evil and unthank- them in the historian's apnals as much as crowned ful world. And so kind and bountiful is the hand of heads transcend common persons—by reviving the providence herein, that we are supplied not only work in the midst of the years, when we were ready with necessary food, for the support of nature, and to ask, Where are all the wonders which our fathers the holding of our souls in life ; but with a great told us of ?p And to speak of the years of the right hand variety of pleasant things for ornament and delight. of the Most High,9 as what we have heard and read Our soul is as happy as our climate, and like that of, and what our fathers have told us of, but which of Asher, yields royal dainties.'
we expected not to see in our time. Though all years are not alike plentiful, yet Every year was crowned with God's goodness, but through the wise disposal of Providence, that great not so as the sixth year was, when God made the house-keeper of the universe—one year serves to earth to bring forth fruit three years,' which were to help out another, and so to bring in another; so that live upon the products of that. Every year was when we gather much, it proves there is not much not a year of release, much less a year of jubilee. over, and when little, there is no great lack. Or, The great God never does any thing mean or little ; one country supplies another; so that the extremi even the common works of nature, and the common ties of famine have never sent us from our Canaan course of providence, give proofs of the infinite to sojourn in any Egypt for bread, but either we power and goodness of the Creator and Director of have had it among us, or have been able to fetch it. the universe: but sometimes the arm of Omnipo
It is from the goodness of God that we have our tence is in a special manner made bare, and the yearly corn, and out of that our daily bread, which treasures of divine bounty opened, in which, though
God never out-does himself, (as men are sometimes of Jacob, where the princes of our people are gathersaid to do upon extraordinary occasions,) he out-ed together, even the people of the God of Abraham.* does what he used to do, that he may awaken a stu- And we trust it shall please the Lord better than pid and unthinking world, to see the goings of our hecatombs of drink-offerings and sacrifices. God, our King, in his sanctuary, and may proclaim In this plain and short acknowledgment, let us himself glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, work- therefore all join with thankful hearts, Lord, thou ing wonders.
crownest the year—This year with thy goodness. ObSome expositors apply the year, here said to be serve, crowned with God's goodness, to the year of gospel 1. God and his providence must be owned in all grace, in which redemption was purchased for, and the blessings of the year. Whatever has been or is published to, a poor captive world, which is called, our honour, our joy, our hope, comes from God's The acceptable year of the Lord. That was indeed hand, and he must have the praise of it. We are the year of God's goodness, when the kindness and very unthinking and unwise if we know not, and love of God our Saviour toward men appeared so very unjust and ungrateful if we own not, that God clear, so bright; that was indeed a crowned year, gives us our corn, our wine, our oils, our victories, not to mention the crowns of common years, the our wealth, our peace, our all: Who knoweth not in fruitful fields and flowery meads. Even the glory of all these that the hand of the Lord hath wrought this ?* that year in which Israel was brought out of Egypt, whatever it is we glory in : Let him that glories, thereand received the law from God's mouth, all the fore, glory in the Lord.a glory which crowned the top of Sinai's mount, was
It is fit instruments should have their due praise ; not to be compared with the glory of the everlasting and the sense the nation has expressed of its obligagospel, that glory which excelleth, that crown of tions to those whom God has honoured in the public glory, which fadeth not away.
service, is a very good indication. It was a sign But the occasion of the day leads me to apply the that Israel remembered not the Lord their God, when text to those fruits and gifts of the divine goodness, they showed not kindness to the house of Gideon ;b with which our land has been crowned this year past, but we must lift up our cyes above the hills, as high which the house of peers in their address have call as heaven, for from thence cometh our help, and ed, " A WONDERFUL YEAR;" and therefore we may our salvation. It is not from our own sword or bow, take leave to call it so, who must form our ideas of but from God's right hand and his arm, that our public affairs very much by the sentiments of those, kingdom is great, our power victorious, and our glory who are better acquainted than we can be with the bright; and therefore to him must the kingdom, the particular motions of them, and have a clearer in- power, and the glory, be ascribed. Praise ye the sight into their secret springs and tendencies than it Lord for the avenging of Israel ; for without him it is fit for us to pretend to. I know present things never had been done, how willingly soever the people are apt to affect us most, and will allow for that; re offered themselves.d membering many a thing, which we called a great We believe there is a Providence that governs the and mighty thing when it was in the doing, but it world, and rules in all the affairs of it; and good afterwards dwindled, and looked very little : but not men have the comfort of it every day. Even a heaundervaluing what God has wrought for us formerly, then could say, Ουκ εσι ζην εν τω κοσμω κενω θεων και as if there had never been the like before, nor pre KEYW #povolas—There were no living in this world withjudging what may yet be in the womb of a kind pro- out God and his providence. If Providence be our vidence, as if we were never to expect the like support in the day of our distress, let Providence again, but only giving it its due weight, and what have our praise in the day of our triumph. It we think it will hold to, it cannot be denied, but watches us particularly, let us watch it filially; and that God bas of late done great things for us ;' so since every creature is that to us that God makes it they say among the heathen, and shall not we say it to be, let our thanks pass through the instruments among ourselves?
to the great Author of all our salvation. Blessed be God for the many testimonies borne 2. The goodness of God must in a particular manthis day, by better hearts and better tongues than ner be acknowledged, as that in which all our mine, to the glory of God's goodness; but into the springs are, and from which all our streams fow. great treasury of the nation's offering, into which we must take notice, not only of bis wisdom and the great men cast in of their abundance, we are power in effecting things great and admirable in here out of our poverty to cast in our mite: and the themselves, but his goodness and mercy in doing righteous acts of the Lord must be rehearsed at the that which is happy and advantageous for us; and places of drawing water," which were the rendezvous make that the burthen of all our songs, For he is of the meaner sort of people, as well as in the palaces good, and his mercy endureth for ever ; a short song, . Ps. Ixviii. 24. + Exod. xv. II.
y Hos, ii. 8. Ps. xxvi. 2, 3. w Judg. v. 11.
b Judg viii, 34, 35.
d Judg. v 2.
a 1 Cor. i. 31.
u Luke iv. 19.
z Job xii. 9.
c Ps, cxxi. I.
but highly honoured, when it was upon the singing | in name, and in honour, this might be the fruit of it, of these words, that the glory of the Lord took pos- that (as it follows there) we might be a holy people to session of Solomon's temple.e
the Lord our God;" that while our forces, and those When we consider what an unworthy people we of our allies, are triumphing over the common enemy are, how ungrateful we have been for God's former of Europe abroad, giving us occasion for one thanksfavours, and what unsuitable returns we have made, giving-day after another, virtue and serious godliness we have reason to admire God's goodness, above all might triumph-over vice and profaneness, impiety his attributes, in the repetition and progress of his and immorality, those common enemies of mankind blessings; for he is good to the evil and unthankful. -at home; that the pious proclamation of our graIf England's God and Saviour had not been a God cious queen, and her other endeavours for the supof infinite mercy, God and not man, in pardoning pression of vice, and the support of religion, may sin, we had been ruined long since: but his good not be frustrated ; that all our other glories may be ness is his glory, and it is ours; in it, the power of made substantial, and may be established-to us, the Lord is great, according as he hath spoken.' and those that shall come after us, by that righteous
Acts of justice to the church's enemies are acts of ness which exalteth a nation; and may not be goodness to her friends. When he that is mighty withered by sin, which is a reproach to any people, doth great things, and scatters the proud in the imagi- especially to ours. nation of their hearts, it is in remembrance of his Two crowns are at this day the honour of our mercy,—and his mercy therein is on them that fear English nation, and for both we are highly indebted him from generation to generation. O that men to the divine goodness: The imperial crown of would therefore praise the Lord for his goodness! government at home; and the triumphal crown of Lord, thou art good, and dost good, and thou, there- victory abroad. fore, dost good, because thou art good, not for any [1.] The imperial crown of government at home is merit of ours, but for the honour of thy own mercy. our honour and joy, and that by which we have a
3. These blessings which flow from the goodness great deal of reason to value ourselves, and for of God have crowned this year; he in them has which we have no less reason to be thankful to God, crowned it. That word shall lead us into the detail who because he loved our land,' and his thoughts of those favours, which we are this day to take concerning us were thoughts of good, and not of notice of, with thankfulness, to the glory of God. A evil, to give us an expected end," set such a governcrown signifies three things, and each will be of use ment over us. to us. (1.) It dignifies and adorns. (2.) It surrounds Which of all the crowns of Europe can pretend and encloses. And, (3.) It finishes and completes. to outshine the English diadem at this day, which is And accordingly this year has been dignified, sur as the sun when it goes forth in its strength? The rounded, and finished with the blessings of God's flowers of our crown are not-like his on the other goodness.
side of the water, who would be called the king of (1.) God hath dignified this year with his good-glory-gathered out of the spoils of ruined rights
A crown denotes honour. Heaven itself, and liberties of the subjects, nor stained, like his, which is perfect holiness in everlasting honour, is with righteous blood. The jewels of our crown are often represented by a crown; a crown of glory not got by fraud and rapine from injured neighwhich fadeth not away: and a year of honour this bours; not, like his, seized by an unrighteous war, has been to our land; the children that shall be born and a deceitful peace, in a bold and impudent will call it so.
defiance of all that is honourable, just, and sacred : Surely the English nation never looked greater, no, the flowers and jewels of our crown are its own nor made a better figure, among the nations than it against all the world ; none of all our neighbours does at this day. Never did it appear more for- has any demand upon us. Mercy and truth are the midable to its enemies, nor more acceptable to its splendour of our crown, and justice and righteousfriends; never were the eyes of Europe more upon ness the never-failing supporters of our throne. The its counsels; never was its alliance more courted globe and sceptre, that is, the wealth and power, of and valued, nor its influences upon all its confede- the English sovereign, are both equitable beyond rates more powerful and benign; never was English dispute,—whó, therefore, may justly assume that conduct and English courage more admired, nor motto, and abide by it, Je mien tiendrai“I will hold our English Jerusalem more a praise in the earth. my own. Would to God our goodness grew in proportion to our How happy, how very happy, is the constitution of greatness ; (and that would be both the advancement our government! such as effectually secures both and security of our greatness ;) and that when God, the just prerogatives of the prince, and the just proas he promised Israel, makes us high in praise, and perties of the subject; so that no good prince can