Immagini della pagina
PDF
ePub

reflecting persons, by comparison with its boasted rivals,) are preserved to us. No revolution, 10 civil bloodshed, no convulsions, have here taken place. Our sabbaths, our churches, our religious establishments, our toleration, are continued. Few, very few comparatively, have lost their lives, in this dreadful struggle, by the sword of justice; (a wonderful proof of the mild and equitable spirit of our constitution!) Our commerce and manufactures, the support of the poor, and the resources of the publick, as well as the wealth of individuals, are not materially injured; nay, in many cases, are unimpaired and improved. We have had scarcity, urgent scarcity: but astonishing supplies from abroad have been vouchsafed, till Providence has favoured us with a harvest plentiful almost beyond example. At length, peace is made, as well as plenty, in good measure, restored; and pleasing prospects open to our view.-Can we remember our prayers, during many years, often accompanied with distressing alarms and sorrows; and then refuse to say, “Verily God hath heard us?” Are not these deliverances and mercies answers to our prayers?

You have often heard, and will no doubt again hear, the particular instances in which a kind and · bountiful Providence has interposed in our behalf: but I shall only offer two hints on this subject. It is not likely that truly pious Christians generally unițe in prayer, for the aggrandisement of their

own country, and the destruction of their enemies: though they are often accused of it. They would wish, if possible, to prevent the efiision of human blood, and the calamities of their fellow-creatures; but they pray to be defended from invasions and desolations; they pray for the peace of the land in which they enjoy peace; and a blessing on the persons and measures of their rulers, who protect them in the enjoyment of their civil and religious privileges; and they pray for the preservation of those valued privileges, to themselves, their fellow-subjects, and posterity to remote generations. At the same time, however unavoidable and just any war may be, it cannot be reasonably expected, but that human passions will mingle in the prosecution of it; and that motives of ambition, rapacity, resentment, or worldly policy, will dictate some measures; and so, carry men beyond what is necessary for self-defence. Now, my brethren, I would particularly call your attention to this circumstance, in the history of the late war. Every measure, without exception, either more of less immediately connected with our own defence, has been wonderfully successful: but several which had for their object rather the annoyance of our enemies, than our own preservation, though planned in consummate policy, viewed with most sanguine expectation, and conducted withi ability and fortitude, have proved unavoidably unpros: perous: and, in thus dealing with us, has noç

[ocr errors]

War.

God, as it were, said, 'I answer the prayers of my people, which they offer according to my will, and protect the land; but further than this I do not give success ??

Again, could we about fifteen months ago have foreseen the present state of publick affairs, should we not have considered it, as a wonderful answer to our supplications? The prospect was then very gloomy. Our allies had left us, (perhaps unavoidably,) to sustain alone the apparently unequal contest: the powers of the north combined to deprive us of our naval superiority: even our rulers evidently were not without apprehensions that an invasion would be attempted: a scarcity approximating to famine, pressed upon us: it became doubtful whether supplies from abroad could be procured, to sustain the people till harvest; and what that harvest would be, who could tell? Urged by such distresses, what might not have been feared from the suffering multitudes? what advantages might not the disaffected at home, as well as our foreign enemies, have obtained? No doubt the more we were pressed and alarmed, the greater earnestness in prayer was excited. "Man's extremity is God's opportunity.' These clouds are all now dispersed! A plentiful harvest has supplied our wants. Our successes and negotiations have quelled the northern storm: peace is made with France: my tongue cannot do justice to the change which in little more than

a year has taken place. I can only stand astonished, and call on you, my brethren, saying, - Oh magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt * his name together!"

[ocr errors]

pan

II. I proceed to shew the acknowledgement, which we are called on to make, to that God » who hath inclined his ear to us,” and “ an“swered us in the day of our distress."

And here I shall digress a little to advert to several topicks, which I hear advanced; not indeed with a design to shew, that we ought not to be thankful; but yet suited to damp the spirit of grateful joy, which I wish to feel and excite with unabated fervour.

Many entertain an opinion, that a very large proportion of the distresses, to which the lower orders especially, in the time of the late pressure, were exposed, was owing to the wickedness of different descriptions of men; and this damps the ardour of their joy and gratitude for deliverance. That human nature is depraved and selfish, we who believe the gospel must maintain: and that selfislı men have always taken the advantage of publick difficulties to enrich themselves, though by increasing the distresses of others, cannot be doubted: Yet it is very questionable, whether this have taken place in the late pressure more than usual, or in the way that multitudes have supposed, But, however that may be, let us leave the culprits to the justice of man; and if that fail, to the tribunal of God: one thing is indisputable; that the Lord hath heard the prayers of his worshippers, and in a considerable degree alleviated our pressure; and without considering what our fellow creatures have done, or are doing, let us, my friends, thank God for what He hath done. “ Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all “his benefits.”

Again, some augur from the aspect of things, and from the character and situation of those with whom we have made peace, that it will not be permanent; and this interferes with their grateful joy.--But, my brethren, if God hath, after a tremendous storm, brought us safe to a commodious anchorage, in answer to our prayers; let us trust him, that in answer to our future prayers, he will prevent further storms, or carry us safely through them. “We had, (says the apostle,) the sentence “ of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in “ourselves, but in him that raised the dead: wha “ hath delivered us,--and doth deliver us--and in " him we trust that he will yet deliver us.”

Experience will warrant us to place some measure of dependence, under God, in the vigilance and firmness of our rulers: but if they were far less worthy of our confidence, he, who hath heard our prayers, hath a right to our acknowledgments for the past, and our affiance for the time to come, We have been taught by late events to expect

ca

[ocr errors]
« IndietroContinua »