Immagini della pagina
PDF
ePub

the same causes render them proportionably proné to impatience, and backward to the sweet duty of praise and thanksgiving. Hence it arises, that it is more difficult to prevail with men in general, to unite cordially in this most reasonable service, than perhaps in any other: and unfeigned gratitude to God, in some measure proportioned to his unmerited inestimable benefits, is almost, if not absolutely, the most uncommon attainment in the world. But the due consideration of the evil and desert of sin; of our own exceeding sinfulness; of the miseries which a just and merciful God is pleased to inflict on our fallen race in this world, and to threaten in another; on the riches of redeeming love, and the sufferings of the divine Saviour; on the privileges and prospects of the real christian, and his infinite obligations to the God of his salvation, which are daily and hourly · accumulating; and on the blessed inheritance reserved for him in heaven, after the light and momentary afflictions of this present world: These reflections, I say, are suited to counteract our propensity to ingratitude, to 'repress our murmurs, and to make us fervent in thankfulness, when otherwise we might repine in proud and suilen discontent.

We should likewise, my brethren, consider how the view which we have taken of the subject, suggests the most powerful motives and encouragements to persevering importunity in prayer.

m

Yet it is to be feared, that many, who, in the crisis of danger and alarm, felt the propriety of joining in this important service, are grown slack in wrestling with God for the land, even in consequence of having apparently begun to prevail! But is not this most unreasonable as well as ungrateful? Surely the language of the Psalmist. contains the proper sentiment on this occasion; “I love the LORD, because he hath heard my “ voice, and my supplication ; because he hath “inclined his ear unto me; therefore will I call upon him as long as I live.'” And the words of the apostle form our proper instruction; “ Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with "thanksgiving. Let us then, my brethren, not only persist, in publick, in our families, and our closets, (daily, but more copiously if we have opportunity, on the Lord's day,) to beseech God to spare our guilty land, and to avert the calamities that still threaten us: but let us also take courage to hope and pray for still more abundant and important blessings; for “the effectual fervent prayer of a "righteous man availeth much;” and, “ if two " of you,(of Christ's true disciples,)“ shall agree "on earth, as touching any thing that they shall "ask; it shall be done for them of my Father “ which is in heaven.3"

It may, perhaps, be useful here to remark, that Isaiah, whose prayer availed so much against the 'Ps. cxvi. 1,2. ? 2 Col. iv. 2. 3 Matt. xviii. 19, 20,

power of the proud blaspheming Sennacherib; when he saw the glory of Israel's God and witnessed the adorations of the exalted Seraphim, cried out “ Woe is me! for I am undone, for I am “a man of unclean lips:” and that before Job was honoured to be the appointed and accepted intercessor for his friends, he was brought to say, " I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes." Let none then from conscious and lamented unwor. thiness yield to discouragement in praying for the land, or in expecting a gracious answer to their feeble supplications.' One soldier indeed can do little towards resisting an invading army; but if every soldier, on that pretence, should desert his post, the land would be left defenceless: in like manner every Christian, who on this or any other ground, refuses to join his prayers in this emer. gency, deserts his post; and did all his brethren imitate the example, our land would be left exposed and defenceless indeed.

While some persuade themselves that the ob. structions to a safe and desirable peace are few and small; others seem to think, that they are, and must for a long time continue, absolutely insurmountable. But, whatever they may be; if the whole company of Christians in Britain could be induced to unite in fervent prayer for this most desirable blessing, in behalf of this land and of the harassed nations on the continent; I am per. suaded we should soon be called upon to join in

thanksgivings for peace. If we wrestle and prevail with God, as Jacob did, we shall also prevail with men. llow effectually did Nehemiah's ejaculation, “O LORD give me favour in the sight of “ this man,” avail to the restoration of the almost hopeless state of Jerusalem and Judah! "When “ a man's ways please the LORD, he maketh his “ enemies to be at peace with him;" and we have ground from our success hitherto, to expect confidently, that he will hear our supplications in this respect also, and dispose the hearts of our enemies cordially, to desire peace; or place those in authority who are desirous of it; or by some other means remove every obstacle, though to us it appear an immoveable mountain. And it would, Į own, give me far greater satisfaction to have the prayers of the church of God in Britain considered, as the means of restoring peace to the nations, than as availing for the most brilliant victories. Nay, I feel no hesitation in adding, that I should unspeakably more rejoice, if God would dispose and assist us to pray, and answer our prayers, for poor, oppressed, and almost desolated France, and send to its inhabitants the blessings of peace, 'true rational liberty, good government, and the gospel of salvation; than to see her prostrate at the feet of Britain, supplicating peace on the most humiliating terms.

But let us not stop even here, my brethren: Let us also take cncouragement from past success,

nore ta

[ocr errors]

to pray more earnestly and constantly, that “the “Spirit may be poured out upon us from on high:” that all the ministers of religion, however distinguished, may .. be illuminated with the true • knowledge and understanding of the holy word

of God, and both by their life and doctrine set it 'forth and shew it accordingly:''that all who are

called Christians may be led into the way of *truth, and hold the faith, in unity of spirit, in • the bond of peace, and in righteousness of life:' that purity in doctrine and practice may adorn every part of the Christian church; and that every thing, which breaks its harmony, deforms its beauty, or weakens the energy of its testimony to the truth, may be removed: that labourers and faithful stewards of God's mysteries may be sent forth and multiplied: that an effectual stand may be made against infidelity, impiety, and every species of Antichristianity: that heavenly wisdom and grace, with every blessing, temporal and spiritual, may be abundantly conferred on our gracious Sovereign, and every branch of the royal family; on our nobles, counsellors, ministers of state, senators, magistrates, and all yho possess power and influence; and that each person, in his vocation and ministry, may glorify God, and serve his generation, faithfully and effectually. Let us be very particular, frequent, and importunate in supplications to this effect; remembering, from time to time, all the different orders and

« IndietroContinua »