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I was sure, before I had purposely considered the particulars, that the Lord had been very kind to us, and had an undoubted claim upon us for cordial thanksgiving. Under this persuasion, I rejoiced that at length a day of thanksgiving was appointed. Improving the occasion, I meditated on the following subject for the edification of my own congrega. tion, respecting the duty of the day. In preaching, the case appeared to me so pluin and uncontrovertible, and I afterwards found it was so convincing to many or most present, that I concluded it might answer some good end, if made publick. It indeed contains nothing to recommend it but plain truths in plain language, originally preached to plain people, and now published for the benefit of such. I have endeavoured not to offend the political principles of any man; and I hope no moderate man of • any party will be offended. I would give as little
offence as possible on such an occasion to any religious party: but if any expression has escaped me, which may have had that tendency, I hope it will not prejudice a real Christian against the other part. If the Lord be pleased to bless the publication, and to employ it as an instrument of his glory, in exciting true Christians of every denominution to abound more in praise and prayer, I shall have then an ample recompence.
PSALM cải. 43, 44.
Many times did he deliver them, but they provoked
him with their counsel, and were brought low for their iniquity. Nevertheless, he regarded their affliction, when he heard their cry.
The knowledge of God and of ourselves, is beyond all comparison, the most important kind of knowledge: and this is especially communicated to us in the word of God; which is indeed a history of God and of man, discovering to us the nature and perfections of God, and the real character of man. This is done in the plainest and simplest manner by historical relations of the Lord's conduct towards man in numerous instances, and under a vast variety of circumstances; and on the other hand, of man's conduct towards God, under a like variety of circunıstances. The result of the whole is this; it appears that God is ever disposed, by his own essential excellency, to açt with consummate wisdom, justice, holiness,
patience, mercy, and truth; and is therefore worthy of all that love and honour which he demands: that on the other hand, man is ever disposed to rebellion, ingratitude, obstinacy, and enmity; is therefore of a very base and odious character, and justly deserving of the abomination and indignation of a holy God.
This trial of mankind was especially made in his dealings with Israel, who being descended from pious ancestors, “planted wholly a right seed,” were an unexceptionable specimen of human nature. We have the abstract of it in this psalm, which begins and ends with, “Praise ye the Lord,” and contains a history of his persevering kindness to Israel, and Israel's persevering ingratitude to him. The same scene, in some measure, is acted over again in every age of the world, in every nation under heaven, in every man's own experience, Had we a history, equally impartial and faithful of any other people, or any single person, in proportion as that people, or individual, was favoured of God with the favour he shewed to Israel, the base ingratitude of human nature would equally appear; and in proportion would the loveliness of God, and the odiousness of man be illustrated. And he who has best learned to love and admire God, to loathe and abhor himself, and can most sincerely adopt the words of holy Job, “ I have “ heard of thee with the hearing of the ear, but “now mine eye secth thee; wherefore I abhor
"myself, and repent in dust and ashes;” is the greatest proficient in true religion.
The substance of this instructive psalm is compressed in the words that I have read to you; "Ma6. ny times did he deliver them, but they provoked “him with their counsel, and were brought low “ for their iniquity. Nevertheless, he regarded “ their affliction, when he heard their cry.” The historical part of the Old Testament is the best illustration of the words, as spoken of Israel. But as God and his law,' and his measures of government and providence, are the same from generation to generation, and as human nature is the same also, I trust you will easily perceive the propriety of improving them for our edification on the present occasion.
After many former deliverances, the people of Israel were brought low for their iniquity. Nations are brought low, when their numbers are greatly reduced by pestilences, famines, or other desolating judgments: when the inhabitants are detained in captivity, or sold into slavery: when successful armies of hostile invaders spread terror and carnage through the land : and when civil discord excites them to murder one another by unnatural war. A nation is brought low, when, being deprived of the invaluable privilege of a free government, according to equitable laws impar
'I mean his moral law; the eternal rule of right and wrong, of sin and holiness.
tially executed, it groans under the yoke of tyranny: while the covetousness or caprice, the ambition or cruelty, the revenge or jealousy of one, or a few, kcep millions in perpetual alarm, and expose them to continued oppression and persecution. A nation is brought low, when its wealth is diminished, its resources exhausted, its expences increased, its commerce and trade ruined ; its poor deprived of employment, burdened with taxes, and left to the fatal necessity of starving, begging, or stealing; and its wealthy traders reduced to indigence and bankruptcy.
In these, and many other respects, nations once flourishing are brought low, they lose the blessings which they enjoyed at home, and the consequence which they possessed abroad, and dwindle into insignificance, dependence and wretchedness.
This premised, I observe,
1. That nations are thus brought low for iniquity, by the righteous judgment of God, whom they have provoked by their counsels. Let philosophers and politicians search out the secondary causes of the prosperity and decline of empires; it is allowed they have advanced many things ingenious, rational. and instructive, on the subject: but it is our concern to learn what the word of God contains for our instruction and direction in the duty of the day : to this let us confine our attention.--Angels sinned, and by sin were brought