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let us not imagine this impossible. Let us not act, as if we thought, what it is certain none of us can think, that God hath no weapon but the sword, by which he can chastise us. Those arrows of his righteous displeasure which he is discharging against our cattle, such as in some instances have been a forerunner to the most terrible of all temporal judgments, a pestilence among men, may sensibly teach us the contrary.--Nor can we imagine, that if he chose to make the sword the instrument of his justice, he has no other bands to wield it, than those from which it now seems to be falling. Nay, even these falling hands can he strengthen. His almighty breath can in a moment blow up the dying embers into a flame, which shall spread from our cities to our villages, and consume our houses, our palaces, and our churches. It is very observable, that when Jerusalem was just going to be destroyed, first by the Chaldeans, and several ages afterwards by the Romans, that a few months before the fatal blaw came, the hostile armies which were encamped against the city, on a sudden rased the siege, and removed to some distance; which afforded a short triumph to the wretched inhabitants *. But alas, soon did they return with redoubled terror, and execute the divine judgments upon them, with a severity hardly to be equalled in the history of any other country, Let Britain hear and tremble ; lest after having shared with Jerusalem in the rich blessings it received and abused, we also share with it in a proportionable vengeance.
But whether that vengeance fall upon us as a kingdom, or not, (4.) We may be assured, that to have alienated ourselves from
the service of God, after having received such and so many deliverances, will be to each particular person matter of dreadful account before the tribunal of God at last.
Remember it, Sirs, the day is near; that awful important day, that will call you to the divine bar: And are not many of you every hour liable to be called thither, with the guilt of all your sins upon your heads ? Alas, how many have passed into eternity since this rebellion broke out, even of those who have not been exposed to the ravages of war, and the terrors of the sword! How many, that but a few weeks ago were as inquisitive after news, and as impatient to hear the event as we have been suddenly cut off in the midst of all the tumult and agitation of their various passions; and found perhaps, that, important as the affair was about the issue of which they were so solicitous,
*See Jer, Xxxvii. 5,
-10. and Joseph. Bell. Jud. Lib. ii. cap. 19. [al. 24.]$. 67,
there was another of infinitely greater moment to them, which they neglected; and neglected to their eternal ruin !
We all know, that we must shortly be among the dead. And surely when we have that solemn interview with our Judge, he will remember through what a scene we have passed; and will distinctly attend to every circumstance, in his conduct towards us. And how justly may he expostulate with us, at least by the voice of our own conscience, in some such language as this?
What could I have done more for you, than I did? What methods did I not try upon you? By my kind providence you were born in a land, for its civil and religious privileges the glory of all lands. You grew up from your infancy in a profound peace, and only heard by a distant report of the calamities, with which other nations were exercised. On you I tried gentler methods, Sending to you all my servants, rising up early and sending them, with messages of the most evident importance; but ye would not hear*. You still continued Settled on your leest: And therefore, after long forbearance, I for a little while changed the dealings of my providence. I shook my rod over you: I permitted an enemy to invade you, and eyil to rise up against you at home: And after long insensibility, you saw your danger extreme. But while it was pressing, you were too busy to mind religion. It was judged employment enough, to prepare for your security against the violence of man; whereas my displeasure was not apprehended, nor any serious measures taken to provide against it. I bore all this; and by a sudden turn in my providence I delivered, and established you again: And you did indeed take some notice of it. You enquired into the circumstance; you talked of it for a while, as a remarkable story : But it proved a mere amusement. Your hearts were not struck; you Returned not unto me: No man repented of his wickedness, so as seriously to say, what have I done 1? Therefore were you justly given up as incorrigible. I had reason to say, Why should ye be stricken any more? ye will revolt more and more . Wonder not therefore, that you are now given up to destruction, after having been wbus solicited and alarmed, thus rescued and intreated again, in vain."
May divine grace preserve you from that dreadful sentence, which must succeed to such a remonstrance! May it inspire us all with better sentiments; that we may not only learn, what these insufferable disorders must, I think, teach the most stupid, to be sensible of the blessings we enjoy under his majesty's happy administration, and most loyally to exert ourselves to the ut-, most in its defence: But may we also learn, to submit ourselves most constantly to the government of God! May we all be engaged to Search our ways and our hearts *, that we may correct every thing that is amiss, and may act more worthy the signal blessings we continue to enjoy, and the gracious providence by which we are re-established in them!
* Jer, süi. 25, 26.
Jer, viii, 6.
+ Zeph. i. 12.
| Isa. i. 5.
I shall conclude, with one more general reflection and inference; which will ever be seasonable, and which most directly suits the text in its primary design, as uttered at the birth of John the forerunner of our Lord.
How incomparably great are our obligations to God, for that
deliverance which he hath granted us by his Son; and how great will our guilt and condemnation be, if we do not improve it aright!
The utmost rage of human enemies can only Kill the body t; but those spiritual enemies from whom Christ delivers us, are aiming at the everlasting destruction of the soul. By him God hath condescended to give us the most complete rule, and the most amiable example, of a pious, holy, and righteous life; inforced by every motive that can strike the most active of our passions. The stupid disregard of it which so generally prevails, is, next to the mad opposition which men of corrupt minds are making to it, the basest and most provoking ingratitude to the divine Being. And the just displeasure of God against it will be irresistibly demonstrated, when he, whom men will not now receive as a deliverer, shall be Revealed in flaming fire, taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not his gospel 1.
But I hope, many of us have been engaged by divine grace to comply with its design, and have the testimony of our consciences that we are walking before God in holiness and righte
Let such of us be animated to go on cheerfully in our way. Let Our souls magnify the Lord, and our spirits rejoice in God our Saviour f, persisting in his service, till we arrive at that world, where our disposition to it, and our happiness in it, shall meet with no interruption or allay ; even at those peaceful and blissful regions, where no name of an enemy shall be heard but in songs of triumph; and where the utter destruction of the last of enemies, shall furnish out matter for those songs.
* Lam. iii. 40.
+ Mat. x. 28.
| 2 Thess. i. 7, 8.
$ Luke i. 46, 47.
I add the Hymn which was sung after Sermon, as what may naturally and
plainly express those devout sentiments, which will, I hope, rise in the mind of every attentive reader.