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THANKSGIVING ON THE VICTORY OF TRAFALGAR.
PSALM CXVIII. 27.
God is the Lord, which hath shewed us light: bind the sacrifice
with cords, even unto the horns of the altar.
NOTHING is more abhorred, of God or man, than ingratitude:-nothing more acceptable, nothing more expected, after the imparting of any benefit, than gratitude. Gratitude implies sensibility, generosity, and a feeling of obligation.
This and the two preceeding Psalms are full of expressions of gratitude; and no doubt relate to some signal deliverance or prosperity, which God had afforded. I will praise thee, says the Psalmist; for thou hast heard me, and art become my salvation. The stone, which the builders refused, is become the head-stone of the corner. This is the Lord's doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes. God is the Lord, which hath shewed us light: bind the sacrifice with cords, even unto the horns of the altar.
Light is put for deliverance and prosperity; in contradistinction to the use of the word darkness,
which signifies affliction. God is the Lord, which hath shewed us light—some signal deliverance. Bind ye the sacrifice with cords, even unto the horns of the altar: Every acknowledgment was termed a sacrifice; some of thanksgiving, some of expiation. Bring a sacrifice, an offering : God has done it. Bring such a number of them, as a learned man reads it, that they shall reach even to the horns of the altar. The sentiment is evident. It is as if he had said, God alone hath wrought this deliverance for us : let us yield the strongest expression of our gratitude on the occasion.”
From the words of the text thus explained, I shall raise this doctrinal proposition, and apply it to the present occasion :
SPECIAL DELIVERANCES DEMAND SPECIAL AC
I. Let us consider SPECIAL DELIVERANCES.
Is there any one present, who needs information or conviction, with regard to the special deliverances lately received by this nation? There is scarcely a man among you, who could not detail them better than myself: for, living in the world, in business and in public affairs, you hear and know more than a recluse like myself can possibly do,
I would ask you then, on the knowledge which
you have of what has lately passed with respect to this country, Can you find any language that more meets the case than that which the Psalmist employs throughout this Psalm? For instance They compassed me about, like bees: they are quenched, as the fire of thorns. Thou hast thrust sore at me, that I might fall : but the Lord helped
The Lord is my strength and song, and is become my salvation. The voice of rejoicing and salvation is in the tabernacles of the righteous: the right-hand of the Lord doeth valiantly : the righthand of the Lord is exalted : the right-hand of the Lord doeth valiantly. I shall not die, but live; and declare the works of the Lord. The Lord hath chastened me sore, but he hath not given me over unto death.--God is the Lord, who hath shewed us light: bind the sacrifice with cords, even unto the horns of the altar. Bring every expression of your acknowledgment on such an occasion.
If any person present should question the greatness of the victory which we commemorate this day, or the merit of the departed victor, I would send him from this pulpit to learn of a seaman. I would bid him read LordCollingwood's Dispatches, where the true state of the case is displayed; and displayed in a language of such intelligence and evangelical simplicity and signification, that nothing can be added to it.
Yet while most men among us acknowledge this, they have not perhaps sufficiently regarded the particular state of things which enhance the importance of the victory. They may not have observed, for instance, the peculiarity of the time; when the men of might, of other nations, do not seem to have found their hands: yet, in respect to us, it is as if the Almighty should say, How shall I give thee up, Ephraim? How shall I deliver thee, Israel? How shall I make thee as Admah? How shall I set thee as Zeboim ? I will say concerning thine enemies, Hitherto shalt thou come, but no further. Consider the peculiar circumstance of a calm afforded on the occasion, just before the storm which followed the battle came on; as if the waters were bid to stand still, that the victory might be obtained. Consider the disproportion in numbers, both of men and guns; which was so great, that, if the Lord had not been on our side, notwithstanding the prowess of our sailors, they must have swallowed us up. Consider, that, while so many of our enemies' ships were lost in the subsequent storm, not a single British ship perished. Consider, that hereby an additional defence is added to our country, and drawn nearer round us; now no longer necessary for a blockade: and this at a time when we were threatened with all that an enraged enemy could effect against us. Consider, too, the letter which God put it into the heart of our admiral to send. Behold the answer, also, to prayer: while we were praying that God would disappoint the devices of our enemies, and
give victory to our fleets and armies, the victory was gained.
These considerations, without going further into the detail, will oblige us to say, God is the Lord, who hath shewed us light. Our national deliverance is great and marvellous : but I must remind you, my Dear Hearers, that, if we do not speak the words of the text with a still higher reference, our view will be defective. The word of God is vast and comprehensive in its views: where it sets out with national deliverances, it ends in a reference to eternal concerns.
The victory we speak of is doubtless a great and singular one': but, let me remind you that all you can say of it is, that it is a victory: you cannot say that it is the victory. What if, at a stroke, the whole power of France had been annihilated : what if the policy and falsehood and tyranny of that nation had been swept away at a blow: What then? you reply, “ This would have been indeed a victory!" yet not the victory. For, let me ask again, What if, after all the conquests that could be possibly obtained on earth, our grand enemies, Sin, Satan, and the World remain unsubdued in our hearts ---what if, after all our conquests, we ourselves are found captives, enemies to God, and fighting against one who must prevail :--what if the victors had been sent after the vanquished, and lodged in chains of darkness VOL. II.