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have no occasion to apply elsewhere; for I shall never refuse, except when your good requires it; and allow me this, that I exceed you in wisdom and experience.—Such an address would be conclusive: and though we must not presume to apply the whole absolutely to God; yet surely the case admits of a sober application of this language to the subject before us: “ Therefore will I call “upon thee, as long as I live.”
Applying these thoughts to our present subject; we remember, that, when peace is made between contending nations, it is common for the military spirit to abate, and the national force to be reduced. A standing army in times of peace would be too expensive, and also dangerous to our liberty. Instead of recruiting our troops, many are disbanded. This might prove dangerous, but that, alas! peace seldom takes place, till all parties are so unable to continue the exertions, that all are alike disposed to lessen the expences and publick burdens: and thus the proportion still remains nearly the same.
But the case is vastly different, as to that warfare, in which, as Christians, we are and must be engaged. The powers of darkness, and their abettors of every description, will keep up, and if possible, increase, their forces, and persevere in their opposition to the cause of Christ and his holy religion. Yet on the other hand, we should, and may, without national expence, danger, or
impropriety, keep up our standing army of those who, by their constant prayers and exertions, endeavour to avert the wrath of God from a guilty land: and we inay use all proper means of recruiting it by new accessions. Here, especially, our safety lies. It has been shewn, what an improvement would have been made in Sodom, if twenty persons like Abraham had been raised up in that city. Let us then remember, that the increase of such characters is the grand security for our land. And let no peace or prosperity cause us to lose sight of this grand object, the maintaining and improving the religious principle, and adding to the number of pious people, in the nation. This alone can secure us against future contingences. It is not only, or principally, from avowed infidelity, that we are endangered. The able commanders of the opposing army, know, that it will equally answer their purpose, to bring in superstition and popery, enthusiasm and antinomian licentiousness, or pharisaical self-confidence, or dead and notional orthodoxy, or evangelical lukewarmness and formality. We are in danger on every side. May we watch and be sober!
Indeed our chief danger arises from relax-, ing our vigilance. Let then all, in their families, circles, and congregations, consider what ineans can be used, to promote the growth of genuine Christianity, which is the best preservative against every species of impiety and false religion.
But especially, my Christian brethren, let us make it a matter of conscience, to offer up our daily prayers, in our families and closets, both for the temporal and the religious interests of our beloved country. Let us pray, that every faithful minister of Christ may, not only be successful in bringing sinners to repentance and the knowledge of salvation, but be instrumental also in raising up others to preach the “ glorious gospel of God “our Saviour :” that every Christian may both adorn his profession, and bring others to attend to the word of truth: that all those who are placed as instructors of youth in colleges, and who fear God themselves, may be succeeded in communicating religious principles to the minds of their pupils: and that all pious persons who in any way educate young persons, may be blessed in their endeavours to form their minds to genuine faith and piety. Thus, the salt being cast into the fountains, we may hope that the barren land will be healed; and that ministers of religion, and even ministers of state, senators, magistrates, and persons in every line of life, may be brought forth to serve God and promote evangelical piety by their example, influence, and exertions. Let us pray also, that all pious parents, and heads of families, may be assisted and prospered in attempting to train up their children in the service of God and the knowledge of Christ. —Let us beseech God, according to our excellent liturgy, to
'bless our gracious king, and all his royal family; 'to endue them with his Holy Spirit, to enrich
them with his heavenly grace,' and guide them in his faith, fear, and love; to help them in all things to seek his honour and glory, and to bring them to his heavenly kingdom.—Let us pray without ceasing for all the ministers of religion in Christendom, that they may be “illuminated in the 'true knowledge of the Scriptures, and both by • their life and doctrine, set them forth and shew • them accordingly.'-—' And that all who call themselves Christians, may be led into the way of truth, and hold the faith in unity of the Spirit, in the bond of peace, and in righteousness of life: that all churches may be rendered more exactly conformable to Scripture, in doctrine, worship, discipline, and practice, and more united with each other: that so we may all soon come to worship our God with one heart and with one mouth.— We should indeed pray for all sorts and conditions of men, in the land and on the earth: but, especially, present circumstances most imperiously call upon us to "beseech the Lord of the “harvest to send forth labourers into his harvest.” Many openings are made by Providence, for propagating Christianity; a spirit of zealous exertion is excited; and British wealth, liberality, and piety, (in numbers I trust,) are adequate to any expences in this cause: but alas ! the men are wanting. Oh then unite in prayer, that labourers may be sent forth into the harvest.
Many other topicks might be insisted on: and especially we should pray for success to all pious attempts, and support, comfort, and assistance to all concerned in them. But I must desist. The field is large; the subjects for prayer are many and important. Do you not, my brethren, see the propriety of taking encouragement from past answers to call on God as long as you live?
But while I am addressing you, as a congregation of true Christians, who united in the earnest supplications which have received so remarkable an answer; probably there may be some whose consciences testify that they do not belong to this company. You have perhaps bowed the knee in publick or in social prayer; but without entering into the spirit of these services. You may have had a form of private religion : but it has been cold and unmeaning. In short, you are conscious, that hitherto you have been strangers to genuine repentance, to a life of faith in the Son of God, to spiritual religion, and newness of life. Let me beg of you then to recollect, that though you may share in publick mercies and deliverances, in consequence of the prayers offered by others; you cannot escape the wrath of God, or obtain eternal salvation, unless you yourselves “ seek the LORD while he may be found, and call “ on him while he is near.” And consider, without eternal salvation, how little all else will profit the possessor.