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tion, as a memento that our dependence is on Him, and ought not to be considered as in the strength of our own arm, or our best labour alone, without his help and blessing.
The fourth and last sore evil, the Pestilence, (to cut off from our land, by one dreadful visitation, both man and every living creature) hath, indeed, within the space of a few years past, been permitted, or ordained, by Providence to visit our metropolis, and some others of the great towns and cities of the United States; but, in the present year, with a degree of severity and extensive calamity never experienced before. Blessed be God, its rage is now graciously stayed; leaving us, indeed, in copious tears, to the memory of departed friends and relatives—And, oh! let not those tears be too soon dried up, without deep meditation, and serious improvement of the warnings given us. Let us not be like the Jews in our text, viz: “ When God slew them, they came together on some solemn day (as we have done this day) to make a pause in their worldy concerns in the career of their folly; and to remember and confess, that God was their rock, and the high God their Redeemer. For all this was only mock-worship.” They flattered Him with their mouth, and they lied unto Him with their tongues; for their heart was not right with Him, neither did they continue stedfast in his covenant, but turned back and tempted him, forgetting all his former mercies and deliverances; for which he cast upon them the fierceness of his anger in judgments of various kinds."
These judgments (as we suggested before) had been repeatedly predicted to them, by their prophets and preachers of righteousness; but they would not believe, nor éven hardly hear! Thus they are told in Leviticus,* “ If ye walk contrary unto me, and will not hearken unto me, I will bring seven times more plagues upon you according to your sins. I will send wild beasts among you which shall rob you of your children, and destroy your cattle, and make you few in number, and your high ways shall be desolateI will bring a sword upon you, that shall avenge the quarrel of my covenant; and when you are gathered together within your cities, I will send the pestilence among you, and ye shall be delivered into the hand of the enemy.”
Sometimes, however, they listened to these and the like threatenings, and were reformed for a while; and at other times they neglected them, and became more hardened in their iniquity. An example of their conduct in each way shall be sufficient, instead of many that might be given from their history.
And first--" When the prophet Azariaht came in the spirit of the Lord, to king Asa, and said, Hear me Asa, and all Judah and Benjamin! The Lord is with you while you be with Him and if you seek Him, He will be found of you; but if you forsake Him, He will forsake you-Be strong, therefore, and let not your hands be weakened, for you shall be rewarded, &c.—The good king Asa listened to the words of the prophet-He took courage, and put away
† ? Chron. chap. x.
• Lev. chap. xxvi. 21-25.
the abominable idols, and renewed the altar of the Lord; and he gathered together all Judah and Benjamin, and the strangers with them, out of Ephraim, and Menasseh and Simeon, and they entered into a covenant to seek the Lord God of their fathers, with all their heart and with all their soul; and that whosoever would not seek the Lord God of Israel, should be put to death, whether small or great, Man or Woman.”
“ And they sware unto the Lord with a loud, voice, and with shouting and with trumpets and with cornets—and all Judah rejoiced at the oath; for they had sworn with all their heart, and sought Him with their whole desire, and He was found of them.”And so sincere was the good king Asa in adhering to this oath himself, and enforcing obedience to it among his people, that he spared not his own mother when she refused to depart from her idolatry, but removed her from being queen, and cut down her idol which she had made and set up in a grove, and stamped and burned it at Brook Kedron; " for which holy zeal and the keeping of their oath, the Lord rewarded him and his people—and there was no more war unto the five and thirtieth year of the reign of Asa.”
But come we now to give an example on the contrary side, when the people refused or neglected to be amended by the judgments of the Almighty. Thus when Zechariah came to them in the spirit of the Lord, and said unto them*, “Thus saith the Lord, Why transgress ye the commandments of the Lord
• 2. Chron. xxiv. 30.
that ye cannot prosper? Because ye have forsaken the Lord, He hath also forsaken you;” they could not bear this severe rebuke of the prophet. “ They conspired against him, and stoned him with stones to death (at the commandment of their wicked King Joash), in the court of the house of the Lord.” And thus, this wicked king Joash, added ingratitude to murder; for although he had been indebted to Jehoiada, the father of Zechariah, for the stability of his throne from his infancy, by doing that which was right in the sight of the Lord, according to the advice of Jehoiada, the priest, all the days of his life; yet, after his death, he remembered not the kindness which Jehoiada the father had done to him, but slew his son Zechariah; and when he died, he said the Lord look upon it, and require it; and so the Lord did, and avenged the inno. cent blood! For it came to pass at the end of the year, that the host of Syria came up against Joash to Judah and Jerusalem; and although the Syrians were but a small company, the Lord delivered a very great host into their hand; and thus executed judgment against Joash and his people, because they had forsaken the Lord God of their fathers, and had slain his prophet Zechariah, even in the holy place, dedicated to his worship and honour!“ And when the Syrians de. parted from Joash, they left him in great diseases—the hand of God was upon him-his own servants conspired against him for the blood of Zechariah, the son of Jehoiada the priest; and they slew him on his bed, and he died—but they buried him not in the sepulchres of their kings.”
What history ancient or modern, can exhibit a narration, so concise and dignified, so marked with authentic testimony of the special interposition of God, in his wise Providence, to punish whole nations, Rulers as well as People, even in this world, for the chastisement of their sins, and for their reformation and amendment?
More from sacred history is here unnecessary. What has been already stated gives the fullest sanction to this day's solemnity, and leads us directly to our main business and duty upon the great occasion; namely, the most serious consideration, and meditation upon our own ways and works; and the improvement which, as a Christian people, it becomes , us to make, of our deliverance from the late awful calamity, with which it pleased Almighty God, in his sovereign wisdom, to afflict this city, and its vi. cinity.
The means of improvement pointed out and recommended by public authority*, and sanctioned by
the voice and word of God, are—" The acknow: ·ledgment of his divine power and goodness, in the
deepest humiliation and abasement of soul: the sin. cerest confession of our manifold sins and transgressions of our duty; contrition and sorrow for the ne. glect and forgetfulness of God's former mercies; earnest repentance and supplications for forgiveness, joined to sincere purposes and stedfast resolutions of future amendment and obedience to his holy will and laws."
* See an abstract of the Proclamation, p. 77.