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Moses, at a much earlier period, gave them a pre-eminent blessedness. "Happy art thou, O Israel! who is like unto thee, O people, saved by the Lord, the shield of thy help, and who is the sword of thy excellency! and thine enemies shall be found liars unto thee, and thou shalt tread upon their high places."
Abraham lived in Ur of the Chaldeans. God, in his sovereign grace, "called him to his foot," and commanded him to depart from his own country and his father's house, in search of a place which he should afterwards receive for an inheritance. He told him he should be the ancestor of a nation, numerous as the stars of heaven, and that one of his posterity should finally bless all the families of the earth. He multiplied and increased him. With Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise, he was a stranger and a pilgrim upon earth. "When they were but a few men in number; yea, very few, and strangers in it; when they went from one nation to another, from one kingdom to another people: he suffered no man to do them wrong; yea, he reproved kings for their sakes; saying, Touch not mine anointed, and do my prophets no harm."
Their deliverance from the land of Egypt and the house of bondage is well known. He brought them forth with a strong hand and an outstretched arm. Creatures of every rank espoused their cause, and punished their enemies. When in jeopardy from their pursuers, the sea opened, and they passed through, as on dry ground, which the Egyptians assaying to do, were drowned. Then they sang his praise. And the deliverance was the food of their faith, and hope, long afterwards. "Thou didst divide the sea by thy strength; thou breakedst the heads of the dragons in the waters. Thou breakedst the head of Leviathan in pieces, and gavest him to be meat to the people inhabiting the wilderness."
Forty years wandered they in the desert. They knew not their way—he was their guide. They were exposed to dangers—he was their defence. They had no supplies— he rained down manna; the rocks poured out water; and their clothes waxed not old upon them. Had they unwholesome damps by night! The pillar of cloud became a fire and absorbed them. Were they open by day to the heat of a burning sky? The pillar of fire became a cloud and diffused an immense shade over them. Thus "the sun did not smite them by day, nor the moon by night" By-and-by Jordan rolled back its streams, and they took possession of a land, where were wells which they digged not, houses which they builded not, vineyards which they planted not: a land flowing with milk and honey; wherein there was no scarceness; and upon which the Lord's eye was from the beginning even to the end of the year. 2 A 16*
But they had unspeakably greater advantages than all these. What says David? "He showeth his word unto Jacob, his statutes and his judgments unto Israel . He hath not dealt so with any nation: and as for his judgments, they have not known them." What says Paul ?" Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises; whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever."
And has he not done great things for us? —It is not foolish partiality, but truth that compels us to say, "The lines are fallen to us in pleasant places; yea, we have a goodly heritage." O England!" blessed of the Lord be thy land, for the precious things of heaven, for the dew, and for the deep that coucheth beneath. And for the precious fruits brought forth by the sun, and for the precious thmgs put forth by the moon. And for the chief things of the ancient mountains, and for the precious things of the lasting hills. And for the precious things of the earth, and fulness thereof; and for the good will of Him that dwelt in the bush." Have we not a land of woods and rivers, of fields and of meadows, " of wheat and of barley?" Are not "our oxen strong to labour;" and do not "our sheep bring forth thousands, and ten thousands in our streets?" Are we not placed in a climate whose temperature equally secures us from scorching heat and intolerable cold t What advantages do we possess as an island! In consequence of this, we have been preserved from invasion; and our country has not been made a field of slaughter. What do we know of war? We have only witnessed its remote preparations and eflects. We have not heard the "confused noise of warriors," nor seen "garments rolled in blood." Nor have our nurses, terrified at the sound of battle, fled with our infants and lamed our Mephibosheths for life. Commerce has filled our rivers with ships, and poured the produce of the four quarters of the globe upon our tables. We have a constitution which displays the sober, improved, tried wisdom of ages. We have laws, distinguished by their justice, their mildness, their impartiality. The poor are equally protected with the rich; and character and talents can rise to eminence from the cottage, as well as from the mansion. Humanity and benevolence have distinguished the national character; and around us rise institutions of charity to embrace the sons and daughters of every kind of wretchedness.
Capernaum, though a little mean fishing town, was said to be "exalted unto heaven"' —and the reason was—because our Lord and Saviour had honoured it with his presence, and had preached in it the kingdom of God.
From the moment the Gospel enters a country, the importance of it commences in the eye of angels; and then—then it is said— "Arise, shme, for thy light is come; and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee." And when it withdraws from a place, "Ichaboi" may be written upon the walls—"The glory is departed." At a very early period this inestimable blessing reached our highly favoured isle. And while it has been withdrawn from countries once blessed with the same privilege, it has been continued to us, notwithstandmg all our unworthiness and provocation. Popery had- irtdeed obscured the glory of the Gospel, locked up the Scriptures in an unknown language,and sacrificed thousands of victims to superstitious rage. But the Reformation gave us the Bible; and said. Read, and live? And the glorious Revolution fixing liberty on a firm and legal basis, said, Assemble together; Preach and hear; Worship God according to the dictates of your own consciences, and "he that toucheth you toucheth the apple of mine eye!" Thus ever since we have sat under our own vine and fig-tree, and none have made us afraid. We have filled our sanctuaries; we have enjoyed our Sabbaths; and though he has given us the bread of adversity snd the water of aflliction, yet has he not removed our teachers into a corner, but " our eyes behold our teachers, and our ears hear a voice behind us, saying—This is the way, walk ye in it, when we turn aside to the right hand or to the left."
Ah! think of the want of all this!
"But blessed are your eyes, for they see; and your ears, for they hear: for verily I say unto you, that many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them."
And to secure all these civil and religious advantages—how often has he made our cause bis own! How seasonably and signally has he interposed to save us from the designs of our enemies! When brought low, he has helped us: "at even-tide it has been light"
Can we be insensible to all this!—If there were any ingenuousness in us, this motive alone would be sufficient
But fear has its use—and it is necessary to tell you not only that you are bound by gratitude—but interest "If ye shall still do wickedly, ye shall be destroyed, both you and your king." This is dreadful.—Think of a king you love, as well as honour, and "whose life is a lesson to the land he sways" —-driven from his throne. Think of liberty exchanged for slavery. Think of property rapaciously plundered, or devoured by tyranni
than yourselves no security from brutal passions. Think of the temples of God burnt up, or converted to other purposes. Think —But let us not pursue this lamentable tram of reflection—but consider a few remarks, tending both to illustrate and confirm the danger of a wicked kingdom, and then to inquire after the state of our own.
And First If there be a moral governor of the universe, sin must provoke nim. A righteous God must love righteousness; a holy God, holiness; a God of order, order; and a God of benevolence, benevolence: and accordingly he must abhor all that is opposite to these. And hence it is said, that "God is angry with the wicked every day; the wicked shall not stand in his sight: he hateth all workers of iniquity." And this is essential to every lovely and reverential view we can take of God. For who could adore a beinj who professed to govern the world, and (offered the wicked to go on with impunity!
Second. If sin provoke God, he is able to punish it He is the Lord of hosts, the l.ord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle. All the elements are his. Every creature obeys his nod, from an archangel to a worm. How idle is it, in a case like this— to talk of armies and navies, and allianceshow absurd is it to compare force with force. and to say, after flattering calculations, "Oh! the enemy cannot come!" He cannot come unless God send him; but he can come easily enough if he should. Is any thing too bard for the Lord—when he would either ahow mercy or execute wrath?
Third. Bodies of men are punishable in this world only. In eternity there are no families, churches, nations. If therefore • country is to be destroyed, it is tried and condemned and executed here. When we see an individual sinner prospering in the world, and not immediately punished—our faith is not staggered; for we "know that Ilia day is coming." But if a wicked people were allowed to escape—we should be confounded—we should ask, "Where is the God of judgment?" For in this case, they arc not punished now. And they cannot be punished hereafter.
Fourth. There is a tendency in the »ery nature of sin to injure and rum a country. It violates all the duties of relative life. » destroys subordination. It relaxes the ties which bind mankind together, and makes them selfish and mean. It renders men enemies to each other.—Social welfare cannot survive the death of morals and virtueFifth. God's dealings with guilty nations are confirmed by his word, and indeed by all history. He has invariably punished them in due time. Witness the state of Nineveh, Babylon, and others. Thus the Moo O
cal exaction. Think of your private dwell- Samuel addressed put his declaration to the ings aflording those who are dearer to you | trial—and found it true. A succession of
severe judgments befel them—till at last wrath came upon them to the uttermost, and '' the Romans came and took away both their place and nation."
Finally, to enable us to draw the conclusion, he often—he always—gives previous intimation of his displeasure—so that were not men blind and deaf they must see and hear his coming. When you see the body wasting away by disease, and every complaint growmg more inveterate, you suspect that death will be the consequence—it is already begun. "When the fig-tree, and all the trees, put forth leaves, we know that summer is nigh." Our Saviour said unto the people, " When ye see a cloud rise out of the west, straightway ye say, There cometh a shower; and so it is. And when ye see the south wind blow, ye say, There will be heat; and it cometh to pass. Ye hypocrites, can ye discern the face of the sky and of the earth; but how is it that ye do not discern this time?" And how is it that we do not perceive that God is angry with us— that he is contending with us ?—Are none of his forerunners arrived ?—Has he not more than spoken ?—Has he not smitten us—and more than once? And if lighter judgments do not reform, will not heavier ones destroy! The consequence is infallible. "If ye still do wickedly, ye shall be consumed, both you and your king."
But you ask—Have We any cause to fear this?—I answer, just in proportion to the degree of our sin. Now there are two ways by which we may judge of our national guilt The first is to enumerate the sins which reign predominant among us. To do this would not only be shocking, but endless. For what vice can be named that is not constantly committed through the land !—The other method is to lay down criterions, by which we may estimate the prevalency and the aggravations of sin in a country. And what test has ever been devised that is not alarming when applied to ourselves?
Divines have told us—That if God has favoured a nation with the revelation of his will, their sins are aggravated by means of this light—For " where much is given, much will be required; and he that knew his Lord's will, and did it not, shall be beaten with many stripes." Thus a heathen country, committing the very same sins with a country enlightened with the Gospel, is far less criminal. Thus, a country overspread with superstition, where the Bible is scarcely known, and its contents can be only viewed through a depraved and disfiguring medium—such a country, committing the very same sins, would be far less guilty than a country favoured with a purer worship, and where evangelical instruction is open to all. And does not this apply to us?
They have told us, That when God has dis
tinguished a people by singular instances of his favour, that people will be proportionably criminal, unless they distinguish themselves by their devotedness to him. Thus God from tune to time aggravated the sins of the Jews. "He made him ride on the high places of the earth, that he might eat the increase of the fields; and he made him to suck honey out of the rock, and oil out of the flinty rock; butter of kinc, and milk of sheep, with fat of lambs, and rams of the breed of Bashan, and goats, with the fat of kidneys of wheat; and thou didst drink the pure blood of the grape. But Jeshurun waxed fat and kicked: thou art waxen fat, thou artgrown thick, thou art covered with fatness; then he forsook God which made him, and lightly esteemed the Rock of his salvation. Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth: for the Lord hath spoken, I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me." And is not this our cose?
They have told us, That when a nation is under the corrections of the Almighty, they are eminently sinful if they disregard die tokens of his wrath, and go on careless and insensible. Hence, says Isaiah, "In that day did the Lord God of hosts call to weeping and to mourning, and to baldness, and to girding with sackcloth; and behold, joy and gladness, slaying oxen, and killing sheep, eating flesh, and drinking wine: let us eat and drink; for to-morrow we shall die. And it was revealed in mine ears by the Lord of hosts, surely this iniquity shall not be purged from you till ye die, saith the Lord God of hosts." In like manner, says Jeremiah," Thou hast stricken them, but they have not grieved; thou host consumed them, but they have refused to receive correction: they nave made their faces harder than a rock; they have refused to return."—And what impressions have his judgments made upon us? Have they restrained us from any of our pride and luxury? Have they reduced the number of worldly amusements; or chilled the ardour of dissipation 1 If a stranger were to come among us and observe our manners, would he think we were in any distress, or had received any unfavourable omens?"
They tell us—to mention no more—That shamelessness in sinning is a sure proof of general corruption. And where is the man among us who is not more afraid of a threadbare coat, than of a dishonest action? To fail in business, and defraud innocent sufferers of their lawful property, is no longer scandalous; never excites a blush. Impurity is gloried in—and a young man, in most companies, who should profess himself virtuous, would be turned into ridicule! Much—every thing depends upon the character of females. See how many of the barriers of virtue they have permitted to be removed! Behold the experiments which fashion has tried upon
their reserve, their decency, their purity— See how they have adorned themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety!
If such tests prove the degree of national guilt—our guilt is great; and if sin destroys kingdoms—1 say, we have reason to fear.
It is not indeed for us to determine when the iniquity of a nation is full: and it seems that God sometimes prolongs the duration of a country for some providential purposes. They may be instruments in his hand of mercy or of wrath. But such a destiny does not hinder their final rum. Though they are his instruments, they are not his favourites. He may use them and still punish them.
There is one thing of which we hear very much, and many seem to consider it as a counterpoise to all our fears, that there are so many good people among us. Blessed be God this is true, and thev certainly aflord us encouragement Ten righteous men would have saved Sodom. And God says of the Jews, "I sought for a man among them that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found none. Therefore have I poured out mine, indignation upon them. I have consumed ttiem with the fire of my wrath; their own way have I recompensed upon their heads, saith the Lord God." Let us therefore rejoice in this encouragement But let us rejoice with trembling. Let us remember that it is a hopeful circumstance— but that it does not absolutely insure the salvation of a country. Let us recollect that there was a time when God used the following language to Jeremiah and Ezekiel concerning the Jews: "Therefore pray not thou for this people, neither lift up cry nor prayer for them, neither make intercession to me: for I will not hear thee. Then said the Lord unto me, Pray not for this people for their good. Though Moses and Samuel stood before me, yet my mind could not be toward this people: cast them out of my sight, and let them go forth. Though these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job were in it, they should deliver but their own souls by their righttmusness, saith the Lord God." What learn we from all this!—That there are cases in the history of nations—when the Divine forbearance is exhausted, and then the cries of the righteous will avail no more than those of the wicked. Were there not in Judea some of the best men that ever lived when the Babylonians invaded and conquered them? Have there not been pious people in every Christian country when destroyed? Does God love his followers now better than formerly, when he suflered them to share in a thousand public calamities!—While he punishes his enemies, may he not correct his friends! Or cannot he indemnify them? Or hide them? Or deliver them? He must
fulfil his word to his servants upon which he has caused them to hope—but he is also engaged to render vengeance to his adversaries—" he will not spare the guilty."
"What then, would you have us despair?" I would—J/" we are resolved still to do wickedly. If we are not brought to national repentance, I would wish every individual to expect that we shall be destroyed, hoth we and our king. "At what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to build and to plant it; if it do evil in my sight, that it obey not my voice, then will I repent of the good wherewith I said I would benefit them."
But the reverse is true. "At what instanl I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, and to pull down, and to destroy it; if that nation against whom I have pronounced turn from their evil, I will repent of the evil that I thought to do unto them." Blessed be God for this welcome intelligence. For by this he assures us—and the Scripture cannot be broken—that not only innocence and righteousness will save s country—but also repentance and reformation. Oh that our country may be led to make trial of this encouraging truth! Mi; we search and try our ways, and turn again unto the Lord. May we seek him while he may be found, and call upon him while he B near—" for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil."
We learn therefore who is the worst enetiT of his country—the sinner; and who is the best friend—Me Christian. "By the Hosing of the upright, the city is exalted; but it is overthrown by the mouth of the wicked!"
Let us all therefore seek after divine pace to renew our own souls, and to sanctify our own lives; and do all in our power to promote godliness around us. Let us endeavour to hinder all the sin we can—in our families ami neighbourhood—by prayer, by example, bj influence. As much sin as we hinder, so much misery and danger shall we prevent
Let us prize those institutions which are favourable to the morality and sanctificatiai of mankind. Especially let us value the Gospel. It is the grand, and the only <f fectual means of " teaching men to deny ill ungodliness and worldly lusts, and to live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present world:"
We are called upon to confess and towul our national wickedness, and on such an occasion ns this we should feel ourselves to be parts of one great whole. But no man will ever be properly affected with the sinsnl others till he is impressed with his o** Here then our concern is to begin. We are individually to look backward—and inquire, "What have I done ?"—and to look forwardand ask, " Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?" We find the builders, in Nehemiah, "labouring every one over against his own house." And it is a plain but an expressive image, of an old writer—" that the best way to have a clean street is for every one to sweep before his own door."
Let us therefore personally " cease to do evil, and learn to do well." Let us fear the Lord and serve him. Let us mourn and weep for the abominations that are done in the land—and if we are not the repairers of the breach, the restorers of paths to dwell in—let us remember, it shall be well with us. If we suffer with others, we shall not suffer like them. And we shall soon reach Immanuel's land, where the din of war will be heard no more?
And oh! remember, if your country should be saved, and you as an individual continue impenitent—you—you will be certainly destroyed! And what is any national calamity to " everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and the glory of his power!"
THE SAVIOUR COMFORTING HIS DISCIPLES.
(AFTER A FUNERAL.)
fn my Father s house are many mansions; if it were not so, Itoould have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come. again, and receive you unto myself; that .where I am, there ye may be also.—John liv.2, 3.
Never man spake like this man! Grace was poured into his lips! And in him were accomplished in the highest sense the words of the prophet—"He hath given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary."
Having assembled with his disciples in an upper room, and administered to them the memorials of his death—he announced his approaching departure. Sorrow filled their hearts. Perhaps they expressed it in words; perhaps it was visible in their countenances. However this may be—he perceived it, and raid, " Let not your heart be troubled."
But what can bear them up under such a loesl—We grieve when we lose a good man, a friend, a common benefactor. But they were to lose their Lord and Saviour, their teacher, the resolver of their doubts, their comforter in every affliction. How then would he relieve them? What is the remedy he applies ?—It is faith!—The discoveries of faith are the best support under the evils of sense. "I had fainted," says David, "unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living."—" Ye believe in God," says our Saviour, "believe also in
me." But what would he have them believe? You have heard—" In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you : and if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also."
Let us consider the various particulars of this intelligence; and the certainty of the whole.
I. The Declaration Of Our Saviour Contains Every Thing That Can Feed The Contemplation, And Enliven The Hope Of The Christian.
In describing heaven, he calls it his "Father's house"—as much as to say, I am only going home. Now he is not ashamed to call his people brethren. "Behold," says he, after his resurrection, "behold, I ascend to my Father and your Father, and to my God and your God." Heaven therefore is their home also. The world knoweth them not— it knew him not They are only strangers and pilgrims on earth. They take many a weary step; and often meet with rough usage and trying weather. But when tempted to complain, they are prevented by the reflection that this is not their home—better entertainment awaits them at their journey's end— heaven will make amends for all . Dr. Rowland Taylor, when drawing near the tower of Hodley, in Suffolk, where he had been a minister, and was now going to be a martyr— being asked how he did—answered, "Never better; for now I know that I am almost at home!"—And looking over the meadow between him and the place where he was to be immediately burnt, he said, "Only two stiles more to get over, and I am at my Father's house." And when the venerable Mr. Mede was asked how he did, replied, "I am going home as fast as I can, as every honest man ought to do when his day's work is over; and I bless God I have a good home to go to."
Yes—a good home indeed! Think of a building of God and for him; think of an edifice in which he resides; and which is worthy of his infinite Majesty!—We have seen splendid palaces. We have read of others, the magnificence of which seems to exceed belief. The Scripture tells us that Solomon's palace was the wonder of the earth; and that when the queen of Sheba had surveyed it, "there remained no more spirit in her." But what is all this to heaven! "The palace of the great King." No man could see it and live. But all this is your home—it is your "Father's house."
Our Lord tell s us that in this house there "are many mansions." No inconsiderable number will be required. For if it be asked, are there few that shall be saved?—taking them all, eventually and collectively, we answer, No. The Captain of our salvation is