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ceive of the evils and miseries inseparable. When the apostle Paul wrote to the former, from this traffic, which, I apprehend, not and when our Lord indited his epistles to the from hearsay, but from my own observation, latter, most of them were in a prosperous are equal in atrocity, and perhaps superior state. If there ever was a time when the in number, in the course of a single year, to commendations given to them were applicaany or all the worst actions which have been ble to professors of the gospel in our land, I known in France since the commencement fear we can hardly claim them at present. of their revolution. There is a cry of blood Can it be justly said of us, that our faith and against us; a cry accumulated by the acces- love are every where spoken of, and that we sion of fresh victims, of thousands, of scores are examples to all that believe?
That our of thousands, I had almost said of hundreds works, and service, and faith, and patience, of thousands, from year to year.
are known, and the last to be more than the It is but a brief and faint outline I have at first ? Rom. i. 8; 1 Thess. i. 7; Rev. ii. 19. tempted to give of the present state of this Or rather, may it not be said of too many, nation, in the sight of Almighty God, and of that while they profess to believe in God, in the sins for which we are this day assembled works they deny him? Titus i. 16.—That to humble ourselves before him.
they are neither hot nor cold— That they II. Have we not therefore cause to say, have a name to live, and are dead—That with the Ninevites, Who can tell ?-Is it not they have at least forgotten their first love? a peradventure? Is there more than a possi- Rev. iii. 1, 15; ii. 4. When these defects bility, that we may yet obtain mercy ? and declensions began to prevail in the first
If our sins are no less numerous, no less of churches, the Lord admonished and warned a scarlet dye, than those of other nations, and them; but instead of watching and repentexceedingly aggravated beyond theirs, by ing, they gradually became more and more being committed against clearer light, and remiss. At length their glory departed, and the distinguished advantages we have long their candlesticks were removed out of their enjoyed: if we have not only transgressed the places. Many regions which once rejoiced laws of God in common with others, but in the light of the gospel, have been long daringly trampled upon the gracious tenders overspread with Mahomedan darkness; and of his forgiveness, which he has long con- the inhabitants are wretched, ignorant slaves. tinued to propose to us, with a frequency and Let us not trust in outward privileges, nor energy almost peculiar to ourselves: if all rest in a form of godliness destitute of the the day long he has stretched out his hands power. It will be in vain to say, The temple to a disobedient and gainsaying people, (Rom. of the Lord, the temple of the Lord are we, X. 21,) and, hitherto, almost in vain: if nei. (Jer. vii. 4,) if the Lord of the temple should ther the tokens of his displeasure, nor the depart from us. When the Israelites were declarations of his love, have made a suita- afraid of the Philistines, they carried the ble impression upon our minds,—who can ark of the Lord with them to battle. But tell if he will yet be entreated ? May we God disappointed their vain confidence. He not fear, lest he should say, My Spirit shall delivered the ark of his glory into the hands strive with thern no more: They are joined of their enemies; (1 Sam. iv. 5, 11;) to to their idols, let them alone: Hosea, iv. 17. teach them, and to teach us, that formal hyWhen you spread forth your hands, I will pocritical worshippers have no good ground hide my face from you; when you make many to hope for his protection. prayers, I will not bear? Isa. i. 15.
Alas! then, who can tell ?-Appearances Where are now the mighty empires, which are very dark at present. Besides what we were once thought rooted and established as may expect or fear from the rage and madthe everlasting mountains ? They have dis- ness of our foreign enemies, we have much appeared like the mists upon the mountain- to apprehend at home. A spirit of discord tops. Nothing of them remains but their has gone forth. Jeshurun has waxed fat, names. They perished, and their memorials and kicked, Deut. xxxiii. 15. Many Britons have almost perished with them, Ps. ix. 6. seem weary of liberty, peace, and order. The patience of God bore with them for a Our happy constitution, our mild government, time, and until the purposes for which he our many privileges, admired by other naraised them up were answered; but when tions, are despised and depreciated amongst the masure of their iniquity was full, they ourselves: and that not only by the thoughtpassed away, and were dispersed, like foam less and licentious, by those who, having upon the waters. What security have we little to lose, may promise themselves a posfrom such a catastrophe? Or what could sibility of gain, in a time of disturbance and we answer, if God should put that question confusion; but they are abetted and instigated lo us, “ Shall not I visit for these things ?) by persons of sense, character, and even of Shall not my soul be avenged on such a na- religion. I should be quite at a loss to account tion as this?" Jer. v. 9.
for this, if I did not consider it as a token of Where are now the churches which once the Lord's displeasure. When he withdraws flourished in Greece, and in the Lesser Asia ? | his blessing, no union can long subsist.
" Because thou servedst not the Lord thy 10, 11;) so, with equal ease, he can still the God, with joyfulness, and with gladness of madness of the people, Ps. Ixv. 7. heart, for the abundance of all things; there You do well to mourn for the sins and fore shalt thou serve thine enemies, whom miseries of those who know him not. But if the Lord shall send against thee, in hunger, you make him your fear and your dread, he and in thirst, and in nakedness and in the will be a sanctuary to you, and keep your want of all things," Deut. xxviii. 47, 48. hearts in peace, though the earth be removed These words of Moses to rebellious Israel and the mountains cast into the midst of the emphatically describe the former and the pre-sea, Is. viii. 13, 14. Ps. xlvi. 2. sent state of many of the French nation, 2. Your part and mine, is to watch and who have been despoiled, insulted, and glad pray. Let us pray for ourselves, that we if they could escape (great numbers could may be found waiting, with our loins girded not so escape) with the loss of their all, and up, and our lamps burning, (Mark xiii. 35; at the peril of their lives, to a more hospita- xiv. 38,) that we may be prepared to meet ble shore. May their sufferings remind us of his will in every event. Let us pray for the our deserts! Who can tell if the Lord may peace of Jerusalem, for his church, which is yet be merciful unto us, and exempt us from dear to him, as the pupil of his eye, for the similar calamities !
spread of his gospel, and the extension of III. But though we have much cause to his kingdom, till his great name be known mourn for our sins, and humbly to deprecate and adored from the rising to the setting of deserved judgments, let us not despond. The the sun, and the whole earth shall be filled Lord our God is a merciful God! Who can with his glory, Mal. i. 11. Many splendid tell but he may repent, and turn from the prophecies are yet unfulfilled: and he is fierceness of his anger, that we perish not? now bringing forward their accomplishment. If the professed business of this day be not Light would undoubtedly arise out of this confined to a day, but if, by his blessing it darkness. Let us earnestly pray for a blessmay produce repentance not to be repented ing from on high, upon our beloved King and of, then I am warranted to tell you, from his his family, upon the counsels of governmeni word, that there is yet hope. You that trem- and parliament, and upon all subordinate auble for the ark, for the cause of God, whose thority in church and state—that we may eyes affect your hearts, who grieve for sin, lead quiet and peaceable lives in all godli. and for the miseries which sin has multiplied ness and honesty, that religion and good order upon the earth, take courage. Let the hearts may be established, and iniquity be put to of the wicked shake, like the leaves of the shame and silence. Thus we may hope to trees when agitated by a storm; (Isa. vii. 2;) be secured, by the sure, though secret mark but be not you like them. The Lord God is of divine protection, Ezek. ix. 4. The Lord your refuge and strength, your resting place, will be our shield, though many should suffer and your hiding place; under the shadow of or fall around us. The very hairs of our his wings you shall be safe, Ps. xlvi. 1; xc. heads are numbered, Matt. x. 30. Or if, for 1; cxix. 114.
the manifestation of our faith, and the power 1. He who loved you, and died for your of his grace, he should permit us to share in sins, is the Lord of glory. All power in hea- common calamities, we may rely upon him ven and in earth is committed unto him, to afford us strength according to our day, Matt. xxviii. 18. The Lord reigneth, let Deut. xxxiii. 25. He is always near to his the earth be never so unquiet. Ps. xcix. 1. people, a very present help in the time of All creatures are instruments of his will. trouble; and he can make the season of their The wrath of man, so far as it is permitted greatest tribulations, the season of their to act, shall praise him, shall be made sub- sweetest consolations, 2 Cor. i. 5. servient to the accomplishment of his great 3. And let us pray in faith. Let us res designs; and the remainder of that wrath, member what great things the Lord has done all their projected violence, which does not in answer to prayer. When sin had given coincide with his wise and comprehensive Sennacherib rapid success in his invasion of plan, he will restrain, Ps. lxxvi. 10. In vain Judah, he did not know that he was no 'more They rage, and fret, and threaten. They act than an axe or a saw in the hand of God, Isa. vinder a secret commission, and can do no x. 15; xxxvii. 14—36. He ascribed his vicmore than he permits them. If they attempt tories to his own prowess, and thought himit, he has a hook and a bridle in their mouths, self equally sure of Jerusalem. But Heze2 Kings xix. 28. When the enemies would kiah defeated him upon his knees. He spread come in like a flood, he can lift up a standard his blasphemous letter before the Lord in the ngainst them, Is. lix. 19. As he has set temple, and prayed, and the Assyrian army bounds and bars to the tempestuous sea, be- melied away like snow. When Peter was vond which it cannot pass, saying, Hitherto shut up, and chained in prison, the chains shalt thou come and no farther, and here fell from his hands, the locks and bolts gave shall thy proud waves be stayed; (Job xxxviii. I way, and the iron gate opened, while the
church was united in earnest prayer for his selves true friends to your country, by bea:deliverance, Acts xii. 5—13.
ing your testimony, and exerting your iuAnd as we have heard, so have we seen. fluence against sin, the procuring cause of God has signally answered the prayers of his all our sorrows, and, by standing in the people, in our own time. Much prayer, both breach, and pleading with God for mercy, in public and private, was offered for our be- behalf of yourselves, and of the nation. If loved King, during his late illness; and how ten persons, thus disposed, had been found wonderful, how sudden, how seasonable was even in Sodom, it would have escaped de. his recovery! Surely this was the finger of struction, Gen. xviii. 32. God! When he thus removed our apprehen IV. There may be some persons in this sions, we were like them that dream, Psalm assembly, who are little concerned for their cxxvi. 1.
own sins, and are of course incapable of I believe prayer was no less efficacious, to taking a proper part in the service of the wards the end of the year 1792. I know day. Yet I am glad that you are here; I many people treated the idea of danger at pity you, I warn you. If you should live to that time as chimerical, because the Lord see a time of public distress, what will you was pleased to avert it. But I hope we have do? To whom will you look, or whither will not quite forgotten the language we heard, you flee for help? All that is dear to you and the persons we daily met with in the may be torn from you, or you from it.-Or, street, the many daring cabals which were if it please God to prolong our tranquillity, held in this city, and the threatenings which you are liable to many heavy calamities in were written in large characters upon the private life. And if you should be exempted walls of our houses, at almost every corner. from these; death is inevitable, and may be But the hearts of men were turned like the near. My heart wishes you the possession tide in the critical moment. Then I think of those principles which would support you the interposition of the Lord was evident! in all the changes of life, and make your dyThen we had a repeated proof that he hears ing pillow comfortable. Are you unwilling and answers prayer!
to be happy? or can you be happy too soon? The present likewise is a very important Many persons are now looking upon you. crisis. All that is dear to us as men, as Bri- who once were as you are now. And I doubt tons, as Christians, is threatened. Our ene- not, they are praying that you may be as they Inies are inveterate and enraged. Our sins now are. Try to pray for yourself; our God testify against us. But if we humble our- is assuredly in the midst of us. His gracious selves before God, forsake our sins, and unite ear is attentive to every supplicant. Seek in supplications for mercy, who can tell but him while he is to be found. Jesus died for he may be entreated to give us that help sinners, and he has said, Him that cometh to which it would be in vain to expect from me I will in nowise cast out, John vi. 37. man? yea, we have encouragement to hope He is likewise the author of that faith, by that he will be for us, (Rom. viii. 31,) and which alone you can come rightly to him. then none can prevail against us. But with- If you ask it of him, he will give it you; if out his blessing our most powerful efforts, you seek it in the means of his appointment, and best concerted undertakings cannot suc- you shall assuredly find, Matt. vii. 7. If ceed.
you refuse this, there remaineth no other saYou, who have access to the throne of crifice for sin, Heb. x. 22, 27. If you are grace, whose hearts are concerned for the not saved by faith in his blood, you are lost glory of God, and who lament not only the for ever.
O kiss the Son, lest he be angry. temporal calamities attendant upon war, but and you perish from the way, if his wrath the many thousands of souls who are yearly be kindled, yea but a little. Blessed are precipitated by it into an eternal, unchange - all they that put their trust in him, Psalm able state,-you, I trust, will show your ii. 12.
MOTIVES TO HUMILIATION AND PRAJSE;
PREACHED IN THE PARISH CHURCH OF ST. MARY WOOLNOTH,
ON TUESDAY, DECEMBER 19, 1797.
THE DAY OF GENERAL THANKSGIVING TO ALMIGHTY GOD FOR OUR LATE NAVAL VICTORIES.
How shall I give thee up, Ephraim ? How shall I deliver thee, Israel? How shall I make
thee as Admah? How shall I set thee as Zeboim? My heart is turned within me, my repentings are kindled together. I will not execute the fierceness of mine anger, I will not return to destroy Ephraim; for I am God, and not man, the Holy One in the midst of thee.-Hosea xi. 8, 9.
The most High God, in the revelation of overthrew the cities in the plain of Jericho, his will to men, adapts his language to the Sodom and Gomorrah, Admah and Zeboim, weakness of our conceptions. Heavenly Deut. xxix. 23. But Mercy interposed, pleadtruths are represented by images taken from ed for a respite, and prevailed. 0 Ephraim, earthly things, John iii. 12. The metaphors o Israel, justice calls aloud for vengeance, of eyes and hands are used in the scriptures but how shall I, how can I give thee up? to raise our thoughts to some due apprehen- No, I cannot, I will not, my heart is turned sion of his infinite knowledge, his omnipre- within me, my repentings are kindled. sence, and his almighty power, 1 Pet. iii. 12; Two reasons are assigned, in his pathetic Ps. Ixxxix. 13. He is likewise spoken of, as expostulation, why he would still exercise deliberating, repenting, rejoicing, and griev- long-suffering towards those who so justly ing; yet we are sure that passions like those deserved to perish : 1. I am God, and not of which we are conscious in ourselves, can- man. The patience of man, or of any mere not in strict propriety be ascribed to the holy creature, would have been overcome long and blessed God. No attentive and serious ago by the perverseness of Israel; but he mind can be misled by this figurative analo- who made them, and he only, was able to gy. We learn from the same scriptures of bear with them still. 2. I am the Holy One truth, that God is sovereign ; that with him in the midst of thee. In that dark and dethere is no variableness, nor shadow of turn- generate day, when the bulk of the nation ing, (James i. 17,) that his counsel shall was in a state of revolt and rebellion, there stand, and he will do all his pleasure, (Is. were a hidden remnant who feared and worxlvi. 10;) and that all his works are perfect- shipped the Lord, and who mourned for the ly known to him, from the beginning of the abominations which they could not prevent, world, Acts xv. 18. The more familiar modes Ezek. ix. 4, 6. Of these the Lord was mindof expression are designed to teach us, not ful, and for the sake of these, deserved judgwhat he is in himself, but how it becomes us ments were suspended from falling upon the sinful creatures to be affected towards him. rest.
Thus, though the purpose of God concern The people of Israel were for a time in a ing Israel was fixed and unalterable, yet, to state of hard bondage, and were severely opimpress us with a sense of his inflexible dis-pressed in Egypt. The Lord brought them pleasure against sin, and at the same time to out from thence with a mighty hand, and a leave open the door of hope and encourage- stretched-out arm. He afterwards drowned ment for penitent sinners, we read of a de- Pharaoh and his host in the Red Sea; but he bate, as it were, between his justice and his led Israel safely through the deep as upon mercy. Justice demanded that Israel should dry land. In the barren wilderness he fed be given up, delivered up to vengeance, to them with manna, and brought them water such a destruction as that by which God out of the rock. In the pathless wilderness VOL. II. 31
he guided them, by a cloud in the day, and But can we read the history of Israel, by a fire in the night. He fought their bat- without remarking lot strongly it resembles tles, subdued their enemies, and put them in our own? Have we not been equally distinpossession of the land be had promised to guished from the nations around us, by spitheir forefathers. They were a people whom ritual and temporal blessings, and by our the Most High selected for himself, as his gross misimprovement of them? We are peculiar treasure, Ps. cxxxv. 4. He was assembled this day to join in public thankstheir God and their King. They were the givings for public mercies, but we have great only people who were at that time favoured cause for public humiliation likewise. We with the knowledge of the true God, and have much reason to rejoice in the goodness how to worship him acceptably. He gave of the Lord; but we have reason to temper them his laws and ordinances. He resided our joy with trembling (Ps. ii. 11,) when we among them, and honoured them with a visi- compare the state of things around us, with ble token of his presence in the tabernacle, that of Ephraim and Judah in the days of the and afterwards in the temple. They were prophet Hosea. likewise under an especial care of his provi While too many persons lose their time dence. The fruitfulness of their land did and temper in political and party disputes. not depend upon the climate, but the early and refer all the calamities we either feel or and the latter rain returned regularly at the fear to instruments and second causes, let us stated seasons, by his appointment; and acknowledge that the Lord God omnipotent when, in obedience to his commands, all their reigneth! Rev. xix. 6. Let us consider sin males froin the most distant parts went up as the procuring cause of all our troubles. three times in a year to Jerusalem, and left Let us recognize his hand in them, and contheir borders destitute of human defence, God fess that, in all the distress he has brought so impressed the surrounding nations with upon us, he has not dealt with us as our iniawe, that, though hostile in their dispositions, quities deserve. May our hearts be suitably they never availed themselves of that seem- affected, while I attempt a brief sketch of the ingly favourable opportunity for invading abounding evils and abominations prevalent them, Exod. xxxiv. 24. Under the reign of amongst us, which might justly provoke the Solomon, they enjoyed peace, plenty, pros- Lord to sweep this land, so long the land of perity, and wealth, in a degree till then un- peace and liberty, with the besom of destrucknown among the nations of the earth. tion! and then we shall be prepared to praise
What returns did Israel make to the Lord him for those merciful and signal interposifor all these benefits? The history of their tions of his providence, which afford us some conduct is little more than the recital of a ground to hope, that, notwithstanding all our long series of ungrateful murmurings, diso- provocations, he will not yet give us up. bedience, and rebellion. They resisted his!' I. Offences of the same kind may be will, broke his commandments, mingled with heightened and aggravated by circumstances. the heathen, and learned their ways. They Thus an insult offered to a benefactor, a parepeatedly forsook the Lord God of their rent, or a king, is deemed more grievous than fathers, worshipped dumb idols, and practised if the person offended was in all respects an all the abominations of the nations which the equal." In this sense, I fear the sins of Great Lord had cast out before them. Their sins Britain are of a deeper dye than those of any often brought calamities upon them. The nation in Europe ; because they are commitLord gave them up unto the hands of their ted against greater advantages and privileges enemies; they suffered by the sword, by pes- than any other people have enjoyed. May tilence and by tamine. When he slew them, not the Lord appeal to ourselves, as to Israel then they sought him; and when they sought of old, What could have been done more to him, he was entreated of thein, Ps. lxxviii. my vineyard, that I have not done? Is. v. 4. 34. He delivered them out of their afflic- After the black night of Popish darkness, in tions; but they soon forgot his goodness, and which Christendom had been for ages in returned to their evil ways. He sent many volved, Wickliff, the morning-star and har. of his servants in succession, to admonish binger of the Reformation, arose in our bosand warn them; but they despised his words, ders. From his time, we have been favoured they mocked his messengers, and misused his with a succession of preachers of the gospel prophets, 2 Chron. xxxvi. 16.
and of witnesses to its truth and power. Not Can we wonder, if justice demanded the a few of these sealed their profession with utter extirpation and ruin of a people so their blood ; and a much greater number highly favoured, so well instructed, so often suffered in the same cause, by fines, stripes chastised and delivered, and yet so incorrigi- banishment, and imprisonment. But since bly ungrateful, daring, and obstinate! Is it the Revolution, and especially since the acnot rather wonderful to hear the Lord ex- cession of King George I. to the throne, the pressiny a reluctance to execute the sentence spirit of persecution has been greatly reso justly deserved, and saying of such a peo- pressed and chained up. We are not now ple, llow shall I give thee up?
called to resist unto blood. Nor is there any