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we and our friends have been faulty in: and perhaps we should most of us find, it hath been a great deal too much.
But it is not mutual good temper alone, that our case requires; but mutual assistance and encouragement, to be given with spirit by each of us, according to his ability, and the nature of his station, to all around him: by ranking ourselves openly on the side we are of; joining our counsels, contributing our money, hazarding our persons, if need require it; by instructing, undeceiving, exciting, fortifying, as many others as we can. That part would be indifferent, part timorous, and all resist weakly, was the great thing that the adversaries of the government promised themselves, and its friends were apprehensive of. God be thanked, both of them in some degree have seen their mistake. Let us go on to complete the conviction, by a daily increase of resolute activity. Strengthen ye the weak hands, and confirm the feeble knees: say to them that are of a fearful heart, Be strong, fear not *.
One thing more, to be mentioned under this head, is, that if the present endeavour to ruin us should increase, though it were considerably, the public expence necessary to defend us, we are surely neither to wonder, nor to murmur at it; but bear with cheerfulness what may be inconvenient, in order to prevent what must be ruinous; and consider well, that were this design to take place, we should probably pay much more to foreigners, as a reward for enslaving us, than now to our own governors, as the means of keeping us free.
But human means alone, human prudence and strength, be it ever so great, is no sufficient ground
*Isaiah xxxv. 3, 4.
of confidence. For the Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will *. We must never forget therefore,
III. An humble dependance on Heaven for the event of all. And the Lord do that which seemeth him good.
What it will seem good to him to do with us, when we consider our national wickedness and ingratitude to him, it must be acknowledged we have great cause to fear. He hath blessed these nations beyond most, if not any other part of the world: and we have turned all his blessings into occasions of sin. He hath given us wealth; and we have applied it to the wicked purposes of dissoluteness and luxury. He hath given us liberty; and we have abused it to the bitterest hatred and the grossest licentiousness. He hath given us true religion; and we have slighted and scorned it; cast off the worship of God, received the mercies of his providence without thankfulness, and the threatenings of it without humility: nay, ridiculed the obligations even of probity and moral virtue, till we have scarce principle enough left to be concerned for any thing, but present pleasure and present interest. Our abhorrence of popery is gone: our zeal against slavery is degenerated into faction: our zeal for the government into private selfishness. We daily accuse one another of these things: we never think of reforming ourselves. And what can be, in a rational view, the probable consequence, in a religious one the just punishment, of such behaviour, but that which the divine wisdom has so clearly foretold? For that they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the Lord; they would none of my counsel, and despised my reproof; therefore shall they
* Dan. iv. 17.
eat of the fruit of their own way, and be filled with their own devices *.
It is by slow and silent, but it is by effectual methods, that God shews himself the governor of the world. Princes that neglect to support his authority, shall find their own decay with it. Subordinate rulers, that trust to other than virtuous arts of government, shall find they have leaned on a broken reed. And nations that indulge profaneness and profligateness, shall experience them to bring on confusion and ruin. Escaping it in one shape for once is nothing: in that, or some other, it must fall upon them, if they continue such as they are. And were ever so great ruin to fall upon us now, what would it be more than Samuel's prediction verified? If ye shall still do wickedly, ye shall be consumed, both ye and your king †. And what could we say, but acknowledge before God, with the penitent Jews in Nehemiah, Thou art just in all that is brought upon us: for thou hast done right, but we have done wickedly neither have our kings, our princes, our priests, nor our fathers (would to God there were not the most cause of all to add, nor we ourselves) kept thy law ‡.
Considering our case in this light then, we have small reason to be of good courage. And yet, considering the divine mercies, we are far from having any reason to despond, if we have any heart to repent. The cause we are engaged in, is that of right and truth, and God's own honour. Defending it valiantly, is performing one part of our duty to him: and deserting it, would be filling up at once the measure of our iniquities to the utmost. Wicked as we have been, and are, yet if we will but, at least in this our
Prov. i. 29, 30, 31.
† 1 Sam. xii. 25.
Neh. ix. 33, 34.
day, know the things that belong to our peace*, there is still abundant room to trust in his gracious protection, that we have so often experienced: and, provided we can but now bring our hearts in earnest to fear God, we have no need to fear man. What hath hitherto happened, is indeed more than enough to awaken us from that supineness, which it is astonishing we should have indulged so long; but not at all to make us doubtful concerning the event, were there only any prospect, that we should render ourselves fit objects of our Maker's favour. For the sake of a few good, there may be mercy in store for the rest. The more of us become so, the greater is the hope. And would but this national alarm produce, what undoubtedly Heaven hath designed it for, a national reformation; we might boldly say to our enemies, in the words of holy writ: Associate yourselves, O ye people, and ye shall be broken in pieces: take counsel together, and it shall come to nought: speak the word, and it shall not stand: for God is with us. Sanctify therefore the Lord of hosts, and let him be your fear, and let him be your dread, and he shall be for a sanctuary. For God will save Sion, and will build the cities of Judah. The posterity also of his saints shall inherit it; and they that love his name shall dwell therein. Their children shall continue, and their seed shall be established before him §.
* Luke xix. 42.
Psalm Ixix. 35, 36.
Isa. viii. 9, 10. 13, 14.
§ Psalm cii. 8.
PREACHED IN 1745.
PHIL. iv. 6, 7.
Be careful for nothing: but in every thing by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God.
And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds, through Christ Jesus.
DANGERS are so constant, and sufferings so frequent in human life, that behaving properly under the apprehensions and experience of them, constitutes a very considerable part of our business here. But when Providence permits a peculiar degree of either to be our lot, it calls us peculiarly to think, what methods will best preserve us from them, or carry us through them. Now these are of two sorts: worldly prudence, and religious wisdom. The precepts of the former it is not the business of this place to deliver; but to limit and perfect them by the dictates of the latter: that we may neither endeavour to secure ourselves by acting wrong, nor doubt of support in acting right. We are apt to look on religion, very injuriously, as only prescribing disagreeable duties; whereas it suggests the kindest advice, and superadds the most comfortable promises : which cannot be done more completely, in the great