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A HYMN OF THANKSGIVING FOR THE KING'S HAPPY RECOVERY.
Man can seldom prize the blessings
Truth and liberty were nourished,
V. Lord ! to thee, the great Physician, We our hearts and voices raise ! Thou didst answer our petition, Now accept our humble praise ! Bless our King, Almighty Saviour! May he long the sceptre wield, For our good and with thy favour, Thou his Wisdom, Strength, and Shield.
THE IMMINENT DANGER AND ONLY SURE RESOURCE OF THIS NATION;
PREACHED IN THE PARISH CHURCH OF ST. MARY WOOLNOTH,
ON FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 28, 1794.
THE DAY APPOINTED FOR A GENERAL PAST..
Who can tell if God will turn and repent, and turn away from his fierce anger,
perish not.-Jonah iii. 9. How great is the power of God over the “ At what instant I shall speak concerning a hearts of men! Nineveh was the capital of a nation, and concerning a kingdom to destroy powerful empire. The inhabitants were hea- it; if that nation against whom I have prothens. The many prophets who, during a nounced, turn from their evil, I will repent long series of years, had spoken in the name of the evil that I thought to do unto them." of the Lord to his professed people of Judah The Lord God speaks to us by his word, in and Israel, had spoken almost in vain. The plain and popular language. He condescends. messengers were often mocked, and their to our feeble apprehensions. God cannot remessage despised. The inhabitants of Nine- pent, he is of one mind, who can turn him! veh, it is probable, had never seen a true Numb. xxiii, 19; Job xxiii. 13. Yet when prophet till Jonah was sent to them. If they afflictive providences lead men to a sense of had reasoned on his prediction, they might their sins, to an acknowledgement of their have thought it very improbable, that a great demerits, and excite a spirit of humiliation city, the head of a great kingdom, and in a repentance and prayer, he often mercifully time of peace, could be in danger of an over-changes his dispensations, and averts from throw within forty days. But it is said, in verse them the impending evil. Such was the ef5, “They believed God." The awful denun- fect of Jonah's message to the Ninevites. ciation made a general, a universal impres. The people humbled themselves, and repension. The king arose from his throne, laid ted of their wickedness; and God suspendeuł. aside his robes, covered himself with sack- the execution of the sentence which he had cloth, and sat in ashes. A sudden cessation, pronounced against them. of business and of pleasure, took place; he My brethren, may we not fear, that: the proclaimed a strict fast; the rigour of which men of Nineveh will rise up in judgment was extended even to the cattle. His sub-i against us, (Matt. xii. 41,) and condemn us, jects readily complied, and unanimously con- if we do not imitate their example, and huncurred in crying for mercy, though they ble ourselves before God? They repented at had no encouragement but à peradventure: the preaching of Jonah, and immediately, on: “Who can tell if God will turn and repent, their first hearing him: and they sought for and turn away from his fierce anger, that mercy upon a peradventure, when they could we perish not.?"
say no more than, Who can tell, whether It appears from this, and other passages of there may be the least room to hope for it, scripture, that the most express declarations after what the prophet has so solemnly deof God's displeasure against sinners, still af- clared ? ford ground and room for repentance. Thus God does not speak to us by the audible in the prophecy of Ezekiel; (chap. xxxiii. 14, voice of an inspired prophet, nor is it neces 1):) “When I say unto the wicked, Thou sary. We know, or may know from his. shalt surely die ; if he turn from his sin, and written word, that it shall be well with the. do that which is lawful and right, he shall / righteous, and ill with the wicked, Is. vi. 10, surely live, he shall not die:” and again, in 11. The appearance of an angel from heaver. the prophecy of Jeremiah, (chap. xviii. 7, 8,) I could add nothing to the certainty of the de
clarations he has already put into our hands. , and we have reason to fear it may burst upon He has likewise raised up, and perpetuated us. But I would be thankful for the appointa succession of his ministers, to enforce the ment of this day; for I should think the proswarnings he has given us in the scripture ; pect dark indeed, if I did not rely on the to remind us of our sins, and the sure and Lord's gracious attention to the united praydreadful consequences, if we persist in them. ers of those who fear and trust him, and who Nor are we left at an uncertainty as to the know it is equally easy to hiin either to save event, if we hunbly confess them, and im- for to destroy, by many or by few, 1 Sam. plore forgiveness, in the way which he has xiv. 6. Our fleets and armies may be well prescribed. The gaspel, the glorious gospel appointed and well commanded ; but without of the blessed God, is preached unto us. his blessing upon our councils and enterJesus Christ, as crucified, is set forth among prises, they will be unable to defend us. He us, Gal. iii. 1. His blood cleanseth from all can take wisdom from the wise, and courage sin;(1 John i. 7;) and they who believe in from the bold, in the moment when they are him are freed from condemnation, and coin most needful. He can disable our forces by pletely justified, Rom. viii. l; Acts xiii. 39. sickness or dissension. And by his mighty They have also free access to a throne of wind, he can dash our ships to pieces against grace, and like Israeli they have power by the rocks, against each other, or sink them prayer to prevail with God and with man, as lead in the mighty waters. Who is he Gen. xxxii. 29. And shall it be said of any that saith, and it cometh to pass, if the Lord of us, that the Lord gave us space to repent, commandeth not ? Lam. iii. 37. and invited us to repentance, and we repented Our Lord and Saviour, when speaking of not ? Rev. ii. 21. May his mercy forbid it! the eighteen upon whom the tower of Siloam
He now speaks to us by his providence. fell and slew them, said to the Jews, “Think Ilis judgments are abroad in the earth; and ye that these men were singers above all it behoves us to learn righteousness. His that dwelt in Jerusalem, because they sufhand is lifted up, and if any are so careless, fered such things? I tell you, Nay: but exor obstinate, that they will not see, yet sooner cept you repent ye shall all likewise perish,” or later, they must, they shall see, Isa. xxvi. Luke xiii. 4. May the application of these 9, 11. The great God has a controversy words sink deeply into our hearts! It will with the potsherds of the earth. The point not become us to say, .either to God or man, to be decided between him, and many abroad, that we have indeed sinned, but there are and, I fear, too many at home is, whether greater sinners than ourselves. It is true he be the governor of the earth or not? His the French Convention, and many others who own people, to whom his name and glory are are infatuated by the same spirit, have exdear, will hold all inferior concernments in ceeded the ordinary standard of human imsubordination to this. If there be no other piety and cruelty. But I hope there are mulalternative, misery and havoc must spread, titudes in that nation, who, though they are men must perish by millions, yea, the frame overawed by the oppressors, and dare not of nature must be dissolved, rather than God speak their sentiments, yet are mourning in be dishonoured and defied with impunity. secrecy and silence for the abominations But he will surely plead and gain his own which they cannot prevent. But the French cause; and either in a way of judgment or have not sinned against such advantages as of mercy all men shall know, that he is the we possess. They were long the slaves of an Lord. I believe there is no expression in the bitrary power; and the dupes of superstition, Old Testament so frequently repeated as and of late they have been the dupes of madthis, Ye, or They shall know that I am the men, assuming the name of philosophers. Lord, “Hath he said it, and shall he not | We, on the contrary, were born and educated make it good ?" Ezekiel passim.
in a land distinguished from all the nations of The rivers of human blood, and all the ca- the earth by the eminent degree in which lamities and horror which overspread a great we enjoy civil and religious liberty, and the part of the continent, the distant report of light of gospel truth. These privileges exwhich is sufficient to make our ears tingle, ceedingly aggravate our sins; and no just are all to be ascribed to this cause. God is comparison, in this respect, can be formed not acknowledged, yea, in some places, he between us and other nations, until we can has been formally disowned and renounced. find a people who have been equally favoured, Therefore men are left to themselves, their and for an equal space of time, by the provifurious passions are unchained, and they are dence of God, and have likewise equalled usgiven up, without restraint, to the way of in disobedience and ingratitude. their own hearts. A more dreadful judg The most dreadful enormities committed ment than this cannot be inflicted on this in France, are no more than specimens of side of hell.
what human depravily is capable, when cirAnd though we are still favoured with cumstances admit of its full exertion, and peace at home, the dreadful storm is at no when the usual boundaries and restrictions great distance; it seems moving our way, I necessary to the peace and welfare of civila
society are judicially removed. The influ- | concerning men or measures, the second ence of daring infidelity and profligate exan- causes, or immediate instruments of our caple, aided by the peculiar state of their public lamities. The evil of sin contrasted with the affairs, have broken, in many instances, the holiness and glory of God, will engross our strongest ties of social and relative life, and thoughts. And we shall ascribe all the trouextinguished the common feelings of hu- bles we either feel or fear, to our own sins, manity.
and the sins of those among whom we dwell. Yet the unhappy French, though our in 1. Let us first look at home. I am a man of veterate enemies, are not the proper objects unclean lips. I am a sinner. This confession of our hatred or our scorn, but rather of our suits us all, and is readily made by all who pity. They know not what they do. Let know themselves. A person approaching us pray for them. Who can tell but God, to London froin the neighbouring hills, usually whom all things are possible, and whose sees it obscured by a cloud of smoke. This mercies are higher than the heavens, may cloud is the aggregate of the smoke, to which give them also repentance? And let us pray every house furnishes its respective quota. for ourselves, that we may be instructed and it is no unfit emblem of the sin and the warned by their history ; for by nature, we misery which abound in this great metropoare no better than they.
lis. The Lord said of the Amorites, at a I. But it is time to attend more immedi- certain period, Their iniquity is not yet full: ately to our own concerns. The professed (Gen. xv. 16;) I hope the measure of our purpose of or meeting to-day, is to humble iniquity is not yet full; but it is filling every ourselves before Almighty God, and to send day, and we are all daily contributing to fill up our prayers and supplications to the Di- it. 'True believers, though by grace delivered vine Majesty, for obtaining pardon of our from the reigning power of sin, (Rom. vi. 14,) sins, and for a verting these heavy judgments are still sinners. In many things we offend which our manifold provocations have most all, in thought, Ford, and deed. We are justly deserved, and imploring his blessing now called upon to humble ourselves before and assistance on the arms of his Majesty by God, for the sins of our ignorance, and for sea and land, and for restoring and perpetu- the more aggravated sins we have committed ating peace, safety, and prosperity to himself against light, and experience—for those pere and to his kingdoms.* | hope these expres- sonal sins, the record of which is only known sions accord with the language and desire to God and our own consciences—tor the deof our hearts.
fects and defilements of our best services And now-O for a glance of what Isaiah for our great and manifold failures in the saw, and has described, in chap. vi.! () that discharge of our relative duties, as parents, we, by the power of that faith which is the children, husbands, wives, nasters, or serevidence of things unseen, could behold the vants, and as members of the community. glory of the Lord filling this house; that we Our dulness in the ways of God, our alertness could realize the presence, and the attitude in the pursuit of our own will and way; our of their attendant angels! They cover their indifference to what concerns his glory, comfaces and their feet with their wings, as pared with the quickness of our apprehenoverpowered by the beams of his majesty, sions when our own temporal interests are and conscious, if not of defilement like us, affected,—are so many proofs of our ingratiyet of unavoidable inability as creatures, to tude and depravity. The sins of the Lord's render him the whole of that praise and own people are so many, and so heightened homage which are justly due to him. O that by the consideration of his known goodness, by faith, we could enter into the spirit of that if he was to enter into judgment with their ascription, Holy, holy, holy is the Lord them only, they could offer no other plea of Hosts, the whole earth is filled with his than that which he has mercifully provided glory! If we were all thus affected, as the for them; “If thou, Lord, shouldst mark prophet was, surely each one for himself iniquity, O Lord, who could stand ? but there would adopt the prophet's language. Or if is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayst be a comfortable hope in the gospel prevented feared,” Ps. cxxx. 3, 4. us from crying out, Wo is me, I am undone! 2. It is easy to declaim against the wicked-we should at least say (the Hebrew word ness of the times. But only they who are might be so rendered,) I am silenced, I am duly affected with the multitude and magnistruck dumb! I am overwhelmed with con- tude of their own sins, can be competent fusion and shame ; for I am a man of unclean judges of what the prophet meant, or felt, lips myself, and I dwell in the midst of a when he said, I dwell in the midst of a peopeople of unclean lips, for mine eyes have ple of unclean lips. We ought to be no less seen the King, the Lord of hosts.
concerned (though in a different manner) for If we have a degree of this impression, we the sins of those among whom we dwell, than shall not be at leisure to perplex ourselves for our own. We shall be so, if with the eyes
of our mind, we behold the King, the Lord * Title-page of the appointed form of prayer. of hosts; because his glory, which should be
the dearest object to our hearts, is dishon-, who reject, despise, or dishonour it, I fear oured by them.
they are very few. Too many hate it with I think this nation may be considered as the a bitter hatred, and exert all their influence Israel of the New Testament, both with re- to oppose and suppress it. The great docspect of his goodness to us, and our perverse trines of the Reformation are treated with returns to him.—He has been pleased to se contempt; and both they who preach, and lect us, as a peculiar people, and to show they who espouse them, are considered as amongst us, such instances of his protection, visionaries or hypocrites, knaves or fools. his favour, his grace, and his patience, as can- | The gospel of God is shunned as a pestilence, not be paralleled in the annals of any other or complained of as a burden, almost wherenation.
ever it is known. We have no certain account when the Wisdom is indeed justified of all her chilname of Jesus the Saviour was first known dren, Luke vii. 35. The gospel is the power in this island; it was probably at an early of God to the salvation of them that believe, period of the Christian æra. But we do Rom. i. 16. It recalls them from error, from know, that after the long dark night of wickedness, and from misery, guides their superstition and ignorance which covered feet into the ways of peace, and teaches them Christendom for many ages, the dawn of re- to live soberly; righteously, and godly in turning gospel light was first seen amongst the world, Titus ii. 12. But in the number us. From the time of Wickliff, the morning- of those who profess to receive it, there are star of the Reformation, the true gospel has too many who confirm and increase the prebeen known, preached, received, and per- judices of those who speak against what they petuated to this day. There have been times know not.—Alas! what extravagant opinwhen they who loved this gospel have suf- ions, what fierce dissensions, what loose confered for it. They were preserved faithful, versations, what open offences, may be found in defiance of stripes, fines, imprisonment, amongst many who would be thought profesand death itself. But those times are past. sors of that gospel which only breathes the We enjoy not only light, but liberty, and the spirit of holiness, love, and peace ! rights of conscience and private judgment, What then must be the state of those who in a degree till of late unknown.
avowedly live without God in the world? I We have likewise been long favoured with need not enlarge upon this painful subject, peace, though often principals in wars, which which forces itself upon the mind, if we only have been very calamitous, both to our ene- walk the streets, or look into the newspapers. mies, and to the nations which have taken It is not necessary to inform my hearers that part in our affairs. Our intestine broils at infidelity,licentiousness, perjury, profaneness. different times have contributed to form and the neglect and contempt of God's sabbaths, establish our present happy constitution. We and worship, abound. The laws of God, and breathe the air of civil liberty. Our insular the laws of the land, so far as their object is sitnation, and naval force, by the blessing of to enforce the observance of his commands, God, have preserved us from foreign inva- are openly and customarily violated in every sions; and when such have been attempted, rank of life. In a day when the Lord of the winds and seas have often fought our hosts calls to weeping and mourning, thoughtbattles. Our wide-spreading and flourish- less security, dissipation, and riot, are the ing commerce has raised us to a pitch of characteristics of our national spirit, Is. xxii. opulence, which excites the admiration and 12, 13. The loss of public spirit, and that envy of other nations.-Great Britain and impatience of subordination, so generally obIreland appear but as small spots upon a servable, so widely diffused, which are the globe or map; but our interests and influence consequences of our sins against God, are, in extend, in every direction, to the uttermost themselves, moral causes sufficient to ruin parts of the earth.
the nation, unless his mercy interposes in our Will not the Lord's words to Israel apply behalf. with equal propriety to us? What could have I should be inexcusable, considering the been done to my vineyard, that I have not share I have formerly had in thai unhappy done? Wherefore, when I looked for grapes, business, if, upon this occasion, I should omit brought it forth wild grapes? Isa. v. 4. to mention the African slave-trade. I do not
How is the blessed gospel improved among rank this amongst our national sins; because us? This would be a heavy day to me, if I I hope and believe, a very great majority of did not believe, and know, that there are the nation, earnestly long for its suppression. those among our various denominations, who Bat, hitherto, petty and partial interests preprize and adorn it. If these could be all as- vail against the voice of justice, humanity, sembled in one place, I hope they would be and truth. This enormity, however, is not found a very considerable number: and for sufficiently laid to heart. If you are justly their sakes, and in answer to their prayers, I shocked by what you hear of the cruelties humbly 'trust that mercy will still be aforded practised in France, you would perhaps be to us. But co:npared with the multitudes shocked much more, if you could fully con