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and stratagem. Your armies flee before them; your wise men are confounded; none of their devices prosper; seeing they have rejected the Lord, and have not sought council of the most high.
What, then, will be the end of these things? Hear it now from that wisdom which cannot err, “Unless you repent and return and amend your ways, the soul of the Lord will utterly depart from you. He will give your wives to others, and your fields to them that shall inherit them."
Thus, my brethren, we see a striking similitude between us and the Jews in many strong and capital instances; and I am persuaded you will not think the picture exaggerated. Within the short period of one year, how many marks of God's dealing with us have we seen? Not to mention excessive droughts, earthquakes, and other omens of his wrath, the troops sent to our protection have been most miserably de. feated, and such scenes of barbarity, horror, and de. solation have ensued, as human nature shudders to recount, and history can scarce parallel!
Yet what have we profited by all this? Has it humbled us under our sins? Has it brought our ci. vil discords to an end? Or has it eradicated those ab. surd principles of government that have brought our country to the brink of ruin? On the contrary, are they not inculcated among us with more zeal and industry than ever? Have we not many who have made it their business to restrain the ardour of God's
people in their righteous causę; to tie up the hands of the king's best subjects in the hour of extremest danger, and cry “ Peace, Peace, when there is ne
Peace?” Have we not many who, like the prophet Jonah in the storm, are gone down to the fast places, to indulge themselves in inglorious rest, when the poor shattered bark that carries them along is ready to be swallowed up of every wave?
Yet I would hope that but small part of this guilt will fall to the charge of the Protestant ministry of this province. It would not become me, who am even less than the least of all God's servants, to stand forth the accuser of my brethren, on any occasion; and, on the present, I know many among them who have nobly exerted themselves in the cause of God, their king, and their country. Yet, perhaps, after all, there may be some who have been but too com. plaisant to favourite vices and opinions. If that should be the case, Oh! let them think how great their condemnation will be. For, if the guides be gone out of the way, how shall those that follow after be in the straight path? If the ministers of God's word have once learned to stoop to prejudices, or to suppress one needful truth, either through fear or favour, it is one of the worst symptoms of total degene racy, and the hopes of reformation are utterly blasted.
How different a conduct did that zealous preacher of righteousness, the author of my text, observe! Though called to his sacred office when very young, yet he was not awed by the faces of men. He scorned either to sooth them in their folly; or to burn incense on the altar of popular applause; or to sacrifice his virtue and judgment to prevailing errors. He sets out, in his first chapter, with a must fervent and enlightened spirit, declaring that he had it in charge
from the living God to speak to his people, and not to be dismayed at their faces; for that the same God who had called him to be a prophet was able to support him in the execution of his high commission, and had made him as “ a defenced city, as an iron pillar, as a brazen wall against the whole land,” and all its corruptions.
Trusting to such a mighty support (and what preacher of righteousness may not trust to it?) he determined that no temporal consideration should awe or influence him from his duty. He appeared in the midst of his people, in the most perilous times, not like some wild impostor, foaming and tearing his own flesh, but like a prophet of the Most High God, majestically composed, and awfully impressed with the whole weight of sacred and important truth. For the space of forty years, he continued a faithful messenger of his maker's will; pleading the cause of expiring righteousness and trampled virtue, among a back-sliding people, with an exalted vehemence and unremitting ardour, against far greater corruption than we have to struggle with. Ours, I trust, is not yet total like that of the Jews, for which reason 'I did not carry the similitude quite through; and, although we have many who are ready to tear our names in pieces whenever we mention the cause of our country, especially if we are zealous in pressing home the great duty of defending our inestimable rights against a Popish and Heathen enemy, yet we have also many who have laid the state of their country, and God's dealings with us, deeply to heart. Nay, I hope that even the worst of us have some virtues
to put in the balance with our vices; that there is mércy with God for us all, if we earnestly seek it of Him; and that the day of our entire desolation is not yet come! But let us remember that every neglect of his visitations is an approach towards that fatal day, and that if we continue longer hardened under the present severe chastisements of his hand, we have reason to fear that a worse thing will befal us.
It is the method of God's providence to bear long with his people, and to try all methods of reclaiming them consistent with their moral agency; such as by reproof, by example, by mercy, and by chastisement. But there is a time when his patience has had its full work, and “ *there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins.” There is a stage or crisis in the corruption of nations, beyond which it is as impossible for them to subsist, on any tolerable principles of social happiness, as for the body to move when the life and spirits are fled. It follows, then, that every neglect to improve by God's merciful visitations is an advance to this stage, and therefore a fatal symptom of approaching ruin.
To offer farther proofs of this would be needless. For if there be any meaning in all that I have laid before you; if the words of the text and the whole tenor of scripture be of any weight; if the voice of reason and the experience of ages be worthy of regard; then it is evident, past contradiction, that national vices lead to national misery. For a holy and just God must punish the flagrant abuse of his miseries; and when this abuse is by a whole people,
Heb. x. 26.
or the majority of them, the punishment may well be expected in this world, seeing in the next all the present societies of men will be disbanded. Besides this, in the very nature of things, a general corruption of the several members must lead to a dissolution of the whole body.
If we search all the annals of mankind through, we shall find that no people was ever truly great or prosperous, but by supporting a sense of Liberty, and upholding the majesty of virtue. Government cannot be maintained on any other principles than justice, truth, and sobriety. Vice is a standing rebellion against God and government, and a total subversion of all order and faith, and peace, and society among men.
Let me, then, my brethren, adjure and beseech you to improve this day of solemn humiliation before the Lord, to those pious purposes for which it was set apart. Let me call upon you, by every dear and sacred tie; by all the deliverances which God hath wrought for you; by all the inestimable blessings which
have received at his hand; by the glory and dignity of your immortal nature; by the sanctifying graces of his holy spirit; by the glorious coming of his everlasting Son from the bosom of his love; by his adorable plan of redemption and bloody cross; by the purity of his everlasting gospel and your high calling as Christians; by all that you are, and all that you hope to be; by the slender thread of life that separates you from the dark mansions of the grave; by the sound of the last trumpet that will raise you to endless life; by the sun in darkness and the moon