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"them sacrifice the sacrifice of thanksgiv"ing, and declare his works with rejoicing.”
III. Let us consider the concluding resolu
tion: “ Therefore will I call upon him as “ long as I live.”
I. Let us consider the fact. God hath inclined his ear unto us; he has beard and answered our prayers.
It would take me far from my design, should I enter particularly on the nature and effects of those publick convulsions, which during the late years, like a political earthquake, have shaken all Europe. The consequences of the first disturbances were such as exceeded conception; the possible effects defied the powers of calculation ; no man could conceive how, or where, or when, the wide spreading desolations would terminate; 110 man, after a time, could consider his property, his liberty, his family, his very life, secure. The baleful effects of infidel principles, and principles of insubordination and anarchy, menaced awfully the destruction of our holy religion. We could not but mourn over the miseries and destruction of our fellow-creatures in other lands : but we also could not but tremble for ourselves. One year after another the storin gathered force, and the danger became more formidable. Our fears perhaps exceeded our dangers. Even such as had
not been used to tremble, at least not greatly to tremble, at the word of God, began to take the alarm : and it became the general sentiment, that the times called for peculiar exertion and decided measures; nay, for humiliation before God and united prayer.
No doubt, before publick affairs wore so threatening an aspect, numbers, in all parts of the land, had secretly, and in their families and social intercourse, poured out their supplications for our beloved country and king, for our constitution, for our holy religion : but still it appeared to some of us, that the times called for more avowed and united efforts in this and in other respects. When conversing together on the aspect of publick affairs, we remembered those words, “ The Lord's “ voice crieth unto the city, and the man of wis“dom shall see thy name : Hear ye the rod “ and who hath appointed it.” We saw or supposed we saw, “his hand lifted up." We considered all creatures and second causes as ordered by him, who permits, limits, over-rules, and works by all, his own wise, righteous, and inerciful purposes. We said, “ Because of thy wrath are we troubled; " for our secret sins are in the light of thy coun“ tenance.” We were deeply affected by contrasting our national privileges with our national character; the sins of the land and of the church; the infidelity, impiety, profligacy, and cruel iniquity, which prevailed, in some awful instances still sanctioned by professedly Christian legis
lators. These things alarmed us far more than the power and success of our enemies; and we seriously enquired, • What can we do, in such circumstances, more than we now do, to stem the torrent, and to turn away the wrath of God from our guilty land?' We had before considered it as our bounden duty to remember, in our daily prayers, the perilous state of the church and nation, and to exhort our congregations to do the same; but still we doubted, as ministers of Christ, whether something did not remain for us to attempt.
While thus reflecting and conversing on these subjects from time to time, with no small anxiety; not only did the aunual proclamation of our king, appointing a day of fasting, humiliation, and prayer, convince is still more, that the LORD God called us to peculiar duties, in this emergency; but our superiors in the church gave unequivocal intimations, that they were of the same opinion: and it was evident from many declarations, that almost every serious person thought something beyond common efforts ought to be attempted.
At this crisis, the Society, which is this day dissolved, was first formed : a small number of clergymen in the metropolis, in the habits of friendly unrestricted intercourse on such subjects, entered into a resolution to assist each other, in endeavouring to stir up their congregations. 1st. To personal self-examination, repentance, and religious dili
. gence. 2dly. To use their influence in checking
the progress of infidelity, impiety, and vice; and promoting scriptural christianity, in their families and among their connexions. 3dly. To pray constantly for the nation, and for the church of God that is among us; and also, as connected with these ends, to strengthen, as far as our little influence would extend, the hands of our governours; and to exhort the people to “ fear God and ho“nour the king, and not to meddle with those who “ are given to change.”
But, while we confined our exhortations to our own people, it occurred to us, that we might be considered merely as delivering a private opinion, which would be but little regarded : in order therefore to impress the minds of our several congregations more deeply, with the conviction that we were entirely agreed in our opinion on the signs
and duties of the times;' we formed the plan of preaching on the subject at stated seasons for each other. This has been continued for a considerable time; and by private addresses and some publications, we have endeavoured to stir up our brethren, both in London and through the land, to join with us in these exertions; especially in constant united prayer for our country, and for the church of God.
It is not easy for us to estimate the degree of success, which hath attended our endeavours : but we may fairly assume, that in consequence,
numbers have prayed more frequently, more particularly, and more fervently, than they would have done; and that there has been more concert in prayer, than there might otherwise have been. At the same time we remember that our Lord has said, “Where two agree on earth as touching “any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done “ for them of my Father which is in heaven.” It may also be assumed, that some farther accessions have been made to the number and seriousness of those, “who sigh and mourn for the abominations " that prevail ;” and who, in various ways, exert themselves to stem the torrent of impiety, and to turn away the indignation of the Lord from our guilty land.
Let us also recollect, that by whatever means or instruments we are preserved, it is God who hath preserved us; and that “he delighteth in the "prayer of the upright:” and then we shall be prepared, (without undervaluing the services of men, however employed,) to adopt the language of the text, “ The Lord hath inclined his ear unto “us."
Surely it is in answer to the prayers of God's servants, that, while almost every country in Europe, has been made the seat of war, deluged with blood, and exposed to dreadful devastations by fire and sword; we have had peace in our borders. Our established government, our civil constitution, (rendered more valuable than ever to