« IndietroContinua »
"name, though they follow not with us;" but "endeavour to keep the unity of the Spirit in "the bond of peace ;" " to love as brethren all that "are born of God," and pray that " mercy and "grace may be with all those who love the Lord "Jesus in sincerity."—We are commanded to "lift up holy hands" without wrath or doubting: and the union of all true Christians, on these solemn occasions, resembles that of an army composed of several nations and distinct battalions; if they forget their personal and national disputes, and vie with each other in courage and zeal for the common cause; they are formidable and effective: but if any malignant influence prevail on them to turn their arms against each other, their strength is annihilated, and the enemy triumphs. In short, "the fruits of righteousness are sown in peace of "those that make peace; the wrath of man work"eth not the righteousness of God ;" and " bless"ed are the peace-makers for they shall be called "the children of God." May he then vouchsafe to pour out upon his church the Spirit of illumination and holy love; that all his people may be of" one mind and judgment, and love one another, with a pure heart fervently! May all Christians "follow after peace," especially with each other £ and seek the peace of the church, in which her beauty, her strength, and her prosperity do greatly consist!
From this view of our national situation, and personal duty, we may infer that the true Christian alone can he a real patriot. Others may promote the temporal interests of a nation, with great ability and success, and may be accounted excellent members of the community: but they daily increase the aggregate of the national guilt, by their own conduct, and the effects of their influence, converse, and example; while they use no means to avert the wrath of God from us.—To pray continually for their rulers and fellow-citizens, is a debt which they owe them: but they habitually refuse to discharge it. They perhaps censure publick measures, and lament publick calamities; yet neither beseech God to give wisdom to those who are in authority, nor to prosper their undertakings: and if the nation be preserved from impending danger, not by fleets and armies, or by human policy and valour, but by the out-stretched arm of the Almighty ; they must allow that, so far from having contributed to this deliverance; they have counteracted the endeavours of those who implore the mercy of God in our behalf.
The sacred oracles, on such occasions especially, call upon impenitent sinners "to submit "themselves to God ;"—" to cleanse their hands
and purify their hearts; to be afflicted and "mourn, and weep ;—and to humble themselves
"under the mighty hand of the Lord.'" Thus they should join the national humiliation with personal repentance and conversion, "that their "sins may he hlotted out:" or else " the wrath of "God will abide on them ;" even if it be turned away from our guilty land.
We may also observe that the language of the text is equally applicable to the case of individuals, as to that of the community: and the trem* bling penitent, who has nothing to say in his own behalf, will never be rejected when he humbly beseeches the Lord, "for his name's sake," and for the honour of his mercy and grace in Jesus Christ; to pardon all his numerous and heinous sins, to subdue his iniquities, and to save his soul.
To those who seriously engage in the important duties of this day, with true repentance and living faith, according to the instructions of the Holy Scriptures, I would speak in the most encouraging and animating language. "Blessed "are ye, that mourn now; for ye shall laugh and "sing:" "Fear none of those things, that may "come" upon the land, or upon you : "the Lord "will be your Refuge and Comforter in every "trouble;" "he will hide you in the secret of "his presence from the strife of tongues;" "and "seal you in the forehead before the destroying
"angels are allowed to execute their com"mission."' Soon will the troublesome but transient dream of life be over; then shall you enter into that blessed place, where sorrow, sin, and discord shall never find admission, but light, love, and joy shall be perfected for evermore. "Therefore my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, "unmoveable, always abounding in the work of "the Lord; forasmuch as ye know that your la"hour is not in vain in the Lord."
ISAIAH, ix. 13*.
/'or the people turneth not unto him that smiteth them ; neither do they seek the Lord of Hosts.
X He Lord sent a word unto Jacob, and it "hath lighted upon Israel:" Jehovah had denounced judgments on the nation descended from the patriarchs ; which had begun to be accomplished on the kingdom of Israel, by the kings of Syria and Assyria: yet the people disregarded these tokens of his displeasure. "And all the people "shall know, even Ephraim and the inhabitants of "Samaria, that say in the pride and stoutness of "heart; The bricks are fallen down, but we will "build with hewn stones; the sycamores are cut "down, but we will change them into cedars.— "Therefore the Lord shall set up the adversaries "of Rezin against him, and join his enemies
1 Preached on tie ninth of March, 1796, being a day of fasting and humiliation.