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and employ our leisure, in acts of solemn worship and grateful praises: and instead of expensive feasts for the wealthy; we shall abound in hospitality and kindness to the poor, and be glad to contribute to promote the cause, for which the Son of God became incarnate.
The sensual and ungodly mirth of vast multitudes, at this festival, is madness. They abound in the works of the devil, because the Son of God was manifested to destroy them! when the very event thus commemorated will increase the weight of their condemnation, unless they can be persuaded to follow the apostle's counsel; "Cleanse "your hands, ye sinners, and purify your hearts, "ye double-minded; be afflicted, and mourn, and "weep; let your laughter be turned into mourn"ing, and your joy into heaviness. Humble "yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall "lift you up."'
But "let the heart of those rejoice that seek the "Lord." Let the poor in spirit, the weeping penitent take encouragement, from the astonishing instance of the Lord's good-will to sinful men, this day commemorated. And let all, that have tasted this grace, and can rejoice in the love of God our Saviour, remember that they are subjects to the Prince of peace; that they may be animated, to
■ Jam. iv. 7—10.
Voi. II. D
pray for universal peace, and by all suitable means, to follow after peace, to seek the peace of the church, and the peace of the world; and "by "well doing to put to silence the ignorance of "foolish men."
1 SAMUEL, Vli. 12.
Then Samuel took a stone, and set it between Mizpeh and Shen, and called the name of it Ebenezer, saying, Hitherto hath the Lord helped Us.
Faoiithe calling of Abraham to the time of Samuel, the Lord had shewn peculiar favours of inestimable value to his chosen people. Especially "He shewed his word unto Jacob, his statutes "and his judgments unto Israel: he dealt not so "with any nation, and as for his judgments they "had not known them.1" But they had always manifested a perverse and ungrateful disposition, and were continually provoking him with their idolatries and rebellions.—" Therefore was the "wrath of the Lord kindled against his people, "insomuch that he abhorred his own inheritance: "and he gave them into the hand of the heathen j
* Preached January 1, 1796. *Ps. cxlvii. 19, 20.
"and they that hated them ruled over them. Their "enemies also oppressed them, and they were "brought in subjection under their hand. Many "times did he deliver them; but they provoked "him by their counsel, and were brought low for "their iniquity. Nevertheless he regarded their "affliction, when he heard their cry."'
Hophni and Phinehas, the priests, the sons of Eli, had by their wickedness caused a most deplorable prevalence of impiety among the people: this provoked God to deliver them into the hands of the Philistines, who triumphantly carried off the ark of the covenant, which had been presumptuously brought into the field of battle. For the Lord was able to vindicate his own glory, and to honour that symbol of his gracious presence even among his avowed enemies, without countenancing the vain confidence of his hypocritical worshippers. The Philistines were soon constrained to restore the ark; but while it was neglected in Israel, they retained their superiority. During the space of twenty years, Samuel, who at the beginning of these troubles was very young, seems to have laboured with zealous and unwearied diligence, in bringing the people to repentance, and reviving true religion. At the end of this time it is said, "All the house of Israel law mented after the Lord." The narrative of
the subsequent reformation is indeed very brief j yet there is reason to conclude, that it was one of the most signal revivals of vital godliness, that stands upon record : for "the children of Israel "did put away Baalim and Ashtaroth, and served * the Lord only."
A general assembly being convened at Mizpeh, where Samuel was publickly owned as judge of Israel: while they were earnestly seeking the Lord with fasting, prayer, and other religious observances; the Philistines, jealous of their proceedings, marched directly to attack them. But, in answer to the earnest prayers of Samuel and the people, these formidable enemies were entirely defeated. And on this memorable occasion, "Samuel took "a stone, and set it between Mizpeh and Shen, "and called the name of it Eben-ezer, saying, "Hitherto hath the Lord helped us." He set up a monument of God's kindness to Israel, (not of Israel's triumph over the Philistines ;) to perpetuate the memory of his gracious interposition in their behalf, and to declare their gratitude, to future generations.
The history of Israel maybe considered as God's experimental trial of human nature. The experiments of the Chemist on an ounce of gold or mercury, when properly repeated and established, authorize general conclusions concerning the properties of all the gold or mercury in the world. Thus the dealings of the Lord with Israel, as a