« PreviousContinue »
i Such, my brethren, have been the manifold blessings, political and religious, of the present reign. Let us now inquire what return we have made as a christian people for these benefits.
· Notwithstanding the increased attention to religion which hath been noticed, it is certain that a large part of this nation lives in a total neglect of God, and of his worship. Even in the higher ranks of society an example of sinfulness hath been given, which hath an alarming aspect. Our legislators have themselves contemned and violated the laws! The honour hitherto attached to the character of men high in office, appears from causes which are but too evident, to be fast declining. This is an unfavourable prognostic for the nation. And it becomes the duty of all good men, in official situations, whether in Church or
state, to endeavour promptly to remedy the evil.
For the instruction and admonition of those who may be disposed to think lightly of this subject, we shall state to them what befel the people of Israel, soon after their Jubilee, in the days of Solomon. In less than thirty years, the kingdom was in a convulsion. And this judgment was sent expressly because of the sin of the prince, and because of the effect of his corrupt example on the people. First came REBELLION ; and then succeeded invasion. Ten parts of the kingdom, out of twelve, revolted, and withdrew their allegiance from their sovereign ; and, after a long period of intestine calamity, there was a successful invasion by a foreign enemy. The mighty king of Assyria appeared with an overwhelming host; and, after many menaces on his part, and many repulses by their patriotic vigour, he, at length, overcame them, and led them away captive. Thus ended the glory of Israel.
From this history, written for our admonition, we learn, that the existing glory or greatness of a nation, however transcendent, is no security against a sudden and irreversible subjugation. And if God was pleased thus to visit the sin of his peculiar people, how can we reasonably hope to escape their punishment, if we imitate them in their transgressions ? Perhaps we also, in these latter days, may, in a certain sense, be considered as his chosen people, raised up and supported to execute his divine purposes on earth. Be it so; yet it may be his will, if we cherish a spirit of disobedience to his laws, that we should be purified from our sin, by passing through the fire, and by enduring calamities, similar to those which
afflicted and oppressed the kingdom of Israel.
Let us rejoice, then, on this day, for God's unbounded mercies to this land ; but because of the iniquity which aboundeth, let us “ rejoice with trembling.” This is a day of gladness, when we consider what Providence hath done for us, in exalting the empire to its present height of greatness, power, and prosperity. It is a day of JUBILEE, when we reflect on the event which we celebrate ; on the virtues of the Sovereign ; on his length of days; and on the benefits derived to the nation from his bright example, during the period of a long and arduous reign.
- But this is a day of Reproach, when we think of what we have done against God; when we consider the neglect of his holy word, and the almost total abolition of his worship, in many families in this kingdom. And this is also a day of mourning and humiliation, when we survey the calamities of war, and the ravages of disease ; and remember the many thousands of our countrymen who have perished, during the present year, on the shores of the enemy.
Let this nation, therefore, as soon as she hath lifted up the voice of thanksgiving for all her unmerited blessings, extend her arms as a suppliant, and intreat the Divine forgiveness for her sin. If we would now enter into a holy resolution to serve the Lord; to keep his sabbaths, to repair, at the appointed season, to his holy temples, and to observe his holy worship; THEN might we expect a continuance of his most gracious favour, and a prolongation of those mercies which we have been so solemnly