Sidor som bilder

felt the scourge of their iniquities to dishearten them from doing evil. -

And yet neither the one or the other seemed ever able to make them either the wiser or better ;-neither God's blessings, nor his corrections could ever soften them;-they still continued a thankless, unthinking people, who profited by no lessons, neither were to be won with mercies, nor terrified with punishments,—but on every succeeding trials and occasions, extremely disposed against God, to go astray and act wickedly.

In the words of the text, the prophet's heart overflows with sorrow, upon his reflexion of this unworthy part of their character ;-—and the manner of his application to God, is so exprefsive of his humble sense of it,—and there is something in the words so full of tendernessand shame for them upon that score,-as bespeaks the most paternal, as well as pastoral concern for them -And he said,- my God, I am ashamed, —and blush to lift up my face to thee, my God.-No doubt, the holy man was confounded io look back upon that long series of so many of God's undeserved mercies to them, of which

they had made so bad and ungrateful a ufe:

-he considered, that they had all the motives that could lay restraints either upon a considerate or a reasonable people; - that God had not only created, upheld, and favoured them with all advantages in common with the rest of their fellow creatures,-but had been particularly kind to them;—that when they were in the house of bondage, in the most hopeless condition,--he had heard their cry, and took compassion upon their affictions, and by a chain of great and mighty deliverances, had set them free from the yoke of oppression.—The prophet, no doubt, reflected at the same time, that besides this instance of God's goodness in first favouring their miraculous escape,-a series of successes not to be accounted for from second causes, and the natural course of events, had crowned their heads in so remarkable a manner, as to afford an evident proof, not only of God's general concern, but of his particular providence and attachment to them above all people:-in the wilderness he led them like sheep, and kept them as the apple of his eye ;-he suffered no

man to do them wrong,—but reproved even kings for their fake ;-—that when they entered into the promised land, no force was able to stand before them;—when in poffeffion,-no army was ever able to drive them out;-that nations greater and mightier than they, were thrust forth from before them ;—that, in a word, all nature for a time was driven backwards by the hands of God, to serve them, and that even the sun itself had stood still in the midst of heaven, to secure their victories;that when all these mercies were cast away upon them,-and no principle of gratitude or interest could make them an obedient people, -God had tried by misfortunes to bring them back;—that when instructions, warnings, invitations, miracles, prophets and holy guides had no effect,--he at last fuffered them to reap the wages of their folly, by letting them fall again into the same state of bondage in Babylon, from whence he had first raised them. -Here it is that Ezra pours out his confession. -It was no small aggravation to Ezra's concern, to find that even this last trial had no good effect upon their conduct ;—that all the alternatives of promises and threats, comforts and afflictions, instead of making them grow the better,-made them apparently grow the worse:-how could he intercede for them, but with shame and forrow;--and say, as in the text, O my God, I am ashamed and blush to lift up my face to thee,—for our iniquities are increafed over our heads,-and our trespass is grown up unto the heavens ;-since the days of our fathers have we been in a great trespass unto this day.

Thus much for the prophet's humble confefsion to God for the Jews, for which he had but too just a foundation given by them;and I know not how I can make better use of the words, as the occafion of the day led me to the choice of them,—than by a serious application of the same sad confession, in regard to ourselves.

Our fathers, like those of the Jews in Ezra's time,-no doubt have done amiss, and greatly provoked God by their violence;—but if our own iniquities, like theirs, are increased over our heads ;-if since the days of our fathers we have been in great trespass ourselves unto this day,'tis fit this day we should be put in mind of it;—nor can the time and occasion be better employed, than in hearing with patience the reproofs which such a parallel will lead me to give.

It must be acknowleged, there is no nation which had ever so many extraordinary reasons and supernatural motives to become thankful and virtuous as the Jews had ;-yet, at the fame time, there is no one which has not sufficient; (and setting aside at present the confideration of a future state as a reward for being so)—there is no nation under heaven, which, besides the daily blessings of God's providence to them, but have received sufficient blessings and mercies at the hands of God to engage their best services, and the warmest returns of gratitude they can pay:-there has been a time, may be, when they have been delivered from some grievous calamity,—from the rage of pestilence or famine,-from the edge and fury of the sword,—from the fate and fall of kingdoms round them;—they may have been preserved by providential discoveries, and plots, - and designs against the well-being of their

« FöregåendeFortsätt »