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Secondly, I shall inquire, with as much tenderness as regard to truth will permit, how the case stands with respect to the time and place in which our lot is cast; and if it shall appear that ill-boding symptoms of approaching danger are to be found among us in a very high degree, I shall endeavour, in the
Third place, To lay before you a few of the genuine symptoms and proper effects of the gracious temper I mean to recommend ; —and then conclude the subject with some practical improvement.
First, If it shall be asked, When, or upon what occasions, the exercise of godly forrow for sin is in a peculiar manner seasonable? I answer,
When transgressors are ery numerous ; when the body of a people is corrupted, so that, in the language of the Prophet Isaiah, is the whole head is sick, and the whole heart “ js faint,” then all who fear God are loudly : called upon to figli and to cry for the abominations that are done in the midst of the land. If one Achan troubled the whole camp of
Israel, Ifrael, what must a multitude of finners do? If the disciples of our Lord were exceeding furrowful when their Mafter told them that there was one traitor in their company, how afflicting must it be to a true lover of God, to behold the wicked so multiplied, that in comparison of them, the godly are only a small remnant, a very « little flock," that can scarcely be discerned ?
The call becomes still more pressing, when tranfgressors are not only numerous, but likewise bold and impudent; sinning, as Abfalom did, “ before all Ifrael, and in the“ fight of the sun.” This is a fatal presage of approaching vengeance; for God will not always tolerate such infolent contempt of his authority. Judgement may be fufpended, while vice skulks in darkness, as alhamed of the light ; but when it appears in broad day, when sinners proclaim their fins as Sodom, and hide them not, then they may be said " to strengthen themselves against " the Almighty, and to run upon the thick “ bofles of his bucklers :” and it is not to be supposed that such infolent defiance can long escape without some open and awful
rebuke. At such a time, then, mourning must be peculiarly seasonable.
Especially when finners are not only.numerous and impudent, but likewise guilty of those grosser abominations which in former ages have been followed with the most tremendous judgements. It is trve, indeed, that “ the wrath of God is revealed from “ heaven against all unrighteousness and a ungodliness of men ;” nevertheless there are some particular instances of ungodliness and unrighteoufness, which God hath marked out, and distinguished from others, as the objects of his greatest abhorrence; and with respect to which he hath said more explicitly, both in his word and by his providence, that he will not suffer them to pass unpunished. I cannot pretend to give you a minute detail of these. Only, if you read the Scriptures, you will find, that profane fwearing, perjury, contempt of the Sabbath, theft, murder, and adultery, are all of this kind. The Prophet Zechariah beheld a flying roll of curses, twenty cubits in length, and ten in breadth, which had a commiffion to enter into the house of the thief, and
into the house of him that sweareth falsely by the name of God, there to remain till it had utterly consumed it, with the timber thereof, and the stones thereof. “By swear“ ing, and lying, and killing," faith the Prophet Hofea, “ by stealing and commite “ ting adultery, they break out, and blood « toucheth blood. Therefore shall the land « mourn, and every one that dwelleth there" in shall languish, with the beasts of the ic field, and with the fowls of heaven; yea, " the fishes of the sea also shall be taken " away.” And how highly God resents the profanation of his Sabbath, appears from the reproof and exposulation of good Nehemiah, which is recorded, Neh. xiii. 17, 18., * Then I contended with the nobles of “ Judah, and said unto them, What evil 66. thing is this that ye do, and profane the « Sabbath-day? Did not your fathers thus, " and did not God bring all this evil upon “ us, and upon this city ? yet ye bring “ more wrath upon Ifrael by profaning the “ Sabbath.” When therefore the same fins are frequent and open among any people, B 4
that must surely be a season for grief and lamentation. And still more,
When the persons that commit them are resolute and incorrigible. “ He that being 6. often reproved, hardeneth his neck, fhall “ suddenly be destroyed, and that without “ remedy.”—“ Because I have purged thee,” faith God by the Prophet Ezekiel, " and “ thou wast not purged, thou shalt not be “ purged from thy filthiness any more, till “ I have caused my fury to rest upon thee. " I the Lord hath spoken it, it shall come to “ pass, and I will do it; I will not go back, “ neither will I fpare, neither will I repent; “ according to thy ways, and according to “ thy doings, shall they judge thee, faith “ the Lord God.” When the wicked are forewarned of their sin and danger ; when, by the preaching of the word, their duty is plainly and faithfully set before them ; when they are exhorted by others, and rebuked by their own consciences; when they are smitten with such rods as bear the most legible signature of their crimes ; or when, in a milder way, they are admonished and warned by the punishments inflicted