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little wit, by scoffing at God, and goodness, and all religion.
But did God vouchsafe such transcendent blessings either to them or us, only to be improved into the food and fuel of intemperance ? Did God keep off our enemies by sea and land, that we might compass both to satisfy our unruly appetites ? There have been rumours and fears of French armies, but they are the French fashions and the French vices that have invaded, and conquered, and spoiled our land; while every one almost makes this his sole business, employment, and glory, to do wickedly, and to fare deliciously every day: a trade which is sure to go on apace, though all others languish and decay.
Such surely are neither the persons nor practices that moved God to do such great things for us; who fills no man's coffers only to furnish him out in every new vain dress or ridiculous fashion. For, as St. Paul says, does God take care for oxen? So we may be sure, that much less does he take such care for apes and monkeys, for goats and swine; for such as are good for nothing, but either mimically to imitate their neighbours' fooleries, or to immerse themselves in all kind of lascivious and debauched living. But if these be the courses we are resolved upon, we should do well to strike this and such other festival days of public deliverance out of our rubrick, which stand there only to blush for our guilt, and upbraid us for our ingratitude.
Thus at length I have given you some account of the grounds of that loud and heavy complaint here commenced by God himself against his peculiar darling people; namely, their unworthy, unsuitable returns made to God's dealings with them; that when he endeavoured to inform and guide them with the word of his eternal truth, to endear them with his mercies, and to discipline and reclaim them with his judgments, they were so incorrigible, and even impenetrable by all these methods, that they let loose the reins to all the filth and baseness that the corruption of their nature could ingulf them in ; defying heaven with their clamorous oppressions, burdening the earth with their rapines and extortions; and lastly, abusing themselves and all the good creatures of God with their insatiable luxury and intemperance.
And now, if we think that the injured goodness of God could, after all this, satisfy itself with bare complaints, we may conclude, that it had something else to complain of besides their wickedness, even his own justice; which was too far concerned to put up such provocations, without much another kind of revenging the injuries done to his abused mercy. And therefore we have God here come to his final resolution; namely, to destroy and ruin those vile persons; which is the sad issue and consequent of the foregoing complaint, and the
Fourth and last thing proposed by us to be handled. This dreadful proceeding of God with them we have fully set down in the 5th and 6th verses : And now go to, says God; I will tell you what I will do to my vineyard: I will take away the hedge thereof, and it shall be eaten up; and I will break down the wall thereof, and it shall be trodden down; and I will lay it waste: it shall not be pruned nor digged; but there shall come up briars and thorns : I will also command the clouds, that they rain no rain upon it. In a word, he would utterly bereave
them of all their defences, and expose them to all the miseries of a defenceless condition.
Now the defences of a nation are twofold: 1. Its laws; 2. Its military force: in the destruction of both of which, history tells us how miserably the Jewish nation suffered, till at length, overpowered with continual invasions, their commonwealth and government was quite dissolved.
1. And first for their laws, (which in every government are as the sinews and nerves, binding together all the parts and members of the body politic;) the execution of them amongst the Jews was at length wholly neglected; so that they stood only to upbraid the weakness of the magistrate, and as trophies of a victorious reigning impiety, much too strong for them: which laws, had they had their full course and career, must have borne down all disorder before them, and made judgment run down like a river, and righteousness like a mighty stream. But they, by new unheard of methods of policy, set themselves only to suppress their laws, and to secure themselves by the rotten short arts of connivance, winking at the grossest disorders so long, till they had even winked themselves blind; and indulged wickedness into that bulk and height, that, overtopping authority, and scorning all control, it was itself only a law to itself.
2. And then, in the next place, this introduced a dissolution of their military power; no persons ever growing into a fitness for war under a licentious and ungoverned peace; whereupon we find them run down by every potent adversary. The Assyrians, the Egyptians, the Persians, the Grecians, and the Romans, all successively vanquished and enslaved them.
And then they found that neither their insulting over their poor brethren, their joining house to house, nor their chanting to the harp and viol, their merry meetings and profuse feastings, their gaudy dresses and damning oaths, could enable them to look an active, hardy, and resolved enemy in the face.
And now, as the walls and safeguard of a nation are its laws and military force, so upon a failure of them ensue two fatal and destructive evils.
1. A growth of sects and factions; for as soon as God had pulled up the hedge of his vineyard, we find it in the sixth verse of this chapter overrun with briars and thorns; things not only useless, but hurtful; such as, instead of refreshing or feeding the husbandman, only rend and tear his flesh; and not content only to grow, will at length aspire also to govern; it being natural to the vilest bramble to affect royalty and supremacy.
The Jewish church and nation was at length pestered with Pharisees, Sadducees, Herodians, and Essenians, all rending the unity of the church, and troubling the peace of the state, much like that rabble of sects and names nowadays amongst us, the blessed effect of the late bloody reformation ; which how they swarm, and to what a languishing condition they have brought this once flourishing kingdom, every judicious person sees, and every pious laments. And, which is the greatest mischief of all, we still take pretences of conscience for current from those, who had conspired, and rebelled against the government, murdered one king, and banished another, and to this day have not declared the least repentance for any of all those things which
they have done. But since our physicians think the best way of curing a disease is to pamper it, the Lord in mercy prepare the kingdom to suffer what he by miracle only can prevent.
2. The other mischief consequent upon God's pulling down the wall of his vineyard, was its being trodden down. It was first to be choked up by a growing evil from within, and next to be laid waste by a force from abroad. The non-execution of laws caused the first, and the failure of power occasioned the next. How deep the Jews drank of this cup has been already hinted, even till the whole nation was drunk with God's fury: and if so, could any thing prepare them for and expose them to a more dreadful fall; and yet they had experience of as great mercies from God, as ever this day produced to England; and I am confident they did not (because indeed they could not) abuse them more.
Now what rational ground we can have to presume upon greater kindness and forbearance than God vouchsafed his own vineyard, I believe it will pose any of us to tell. We have lived under a long sunshine, and God knows that it has ripened our sins apace. Nor have the judgments used by him been hitherto able to reduce us, though they have been so various, that now there remains not many more behind; but yet those which do remain are such, that, if God brings them upon us, they will indeed leave no work for any more.
In the mean time, it is surely our grand concernment to prevent the divine justice, before the last and fatal sentence goes out against us; and so, breaking off our crying national sins by a commensurate national repent