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the Reach of it, tho' 'tis only the Centre or Whirlpool itself, that actually sinks and swallows them up. But to all this it may still be objected, that our wise Legislature seem to have had other Sentiments of this Matter ; because 'tis said in the Act for appointing the Thirtieth of January, that The fanatick Rage of a few miscreants ftand's charged by our Adversaries to the whole Nation. To which I answer, that the Parliament could judge' only of the outward Axt, and that by this only Strangers and Foreigners ought to judge, and be determined likewise : And this was the Act only of a few. But who knows the Extent of it's Guilt, where it begins or where it ends, what previous and subsequent Facts may be comprehended under it, and how many Consciences have been defiled or affected by it? These are Things 'known only to God, and which the Laws and Judgments of Men, can never fully reach or penetrate. And yet if we consider the Strictness and Rigour of the Gofpel of Christ in this Respect, which brings secret Hatred, and open opprobrious Language, within the Reach of the Sin of Murdert, we can't but fear that the Fact of this Day, was of a much more extensive Guilt, than is commonly supposed. But
+ Matth. v. 21, 22,
1 John iii. 15.
however that be, and allowing that this was not a national Act, yet, for ought that appears to the contrary, it may truly and properly be called a national Sin, with respect to the Persons offending, as well as the Person suffering ; which is all that I endeavour to prove.
And this obliges to a national Humiliation, as it subjects all, without Exception, to the Visitation and Vengeance of the Almighty; so that tho' we are really or personally innocent, we ought to humble ourselves before God, and to act the Part of publick Penitents. For in this case, we are to consider ourselves not as single Persons, but as Part of a Societythat has incurred the Divine Displeasure, and so are equally liable to the same Inconveniencies, Dangers, and Sufferings, with the other Parts; as all that fail in the same Vessel, run the same Hazard. Suppose then that they were but few to whom the Bloodguiltiness of this Day can strictly be imputed; yet there are Instances more than enough in Scripture, of God's punishing_or threatening a whole People or Nation for the Sins of a very few, and sometimes only of single Persons. For to begin with the Instance in the Text, was not the Ship’s Crew in Danger of perishing, for the Perverseness and Disobedience only of Jonab? And so likewise in the Days of Joshua, when Achan the Son
of Carmi had committed a Trespass in the accursed Thing, the Army of the Israelites could no longer stand before their Enemies, till they had humbled themselves by fasting and Prayer, and removed the accursed Thing, and punished the Transgreffor *: : Upon this God was reconciled to them, and made them again victorious over their Enemies. So likewise in the Days of King David, God sent a Famine upon the Land for some particular Crime, and when they enquired for what Cause it was sent, the Anfwer was, It is for Saul and for his bloody House, because he flew the Gibeonites + : And after the Sons of Saul were put to death for this, the Anger of the Lord was pacified, and this Judgment removed. So again, when David himself had linned in numbering the People, God sent a Pestilence upon them to lessen their Number; and this Lessening would have been much greater, if he had not immediately, by the Direction of an Angel, built an Altar and offered Sacrifice : Then was God appeased, and the Plague was stayed II. Once more; That heinous Wickedness of the Men of Gibeah, in relation to the Levite's Concubine, was punished by God in a most exemplary Manner, by cutting off almost one whole Tribe from Israel, the
+ 2 Sam. xxi. 1.
|| Ibid. xxiv.
Tribe of Benjamin, for conniving at and not punishing the Offenders, when required by their Brethren so to do f. And that which still comes nearer to the
present Cafe, the Day on which Gedaliab the Son of Abikam was murdered, whom the King of Babylon had made Governor over the Remnant of the Israelites that were left in the Land of Yudea, after he had carried the rest away captive to Babylon ; this Day, I say, was afterwards religiously observed for many Years with Fasting and Humiliation, and was called the Fast of the seventh Month. Nor do we want the Examples of Heathens in this Case, or with respect to the Obligation of humbling ourselves, as particularly of the Mariners in the Text, who, when they cast Jonah into the Sea, at his Desire, but against their own Will, implored the Divine Clemency, and prayed God that he would not lay upon them the Guilt of innocent Blood. Thus does God send us to the Heathens to learn Instruction in this point, and lets us see, by their Example, how far the Light of Nature, when left to itself, would direct Men in such Cases. And are not all these Instances sufficient to convince our Dif senting Brethren of their Obligation in this Respect ? Especially if they consider, as they
ought, that their Forefathers might have no small Share in the Guilt of this Day, as they all along fided with those that opposed the King. And tho' afterwards some of them repented, when it was too late to stop the fatal Blow, and protested and remonstrated against taking away the King's Life; yet neither just after his Death, nor at any other Time ever since, have they, by any publick or folemn Act of Humiliation, testified their Abhorrence of that execrable Fact, or prayed God that the Guilt of that innocent Blood might not be laid to their Charge. I wish they would seriously consider this, for their own Sake, and for the Nation's Sake. 'Tis to no Purpose for them to say, that they cannot think themselves obliged to lament a Sin, that was committed so
since God has so peremptorily declared, that he will visit the Sins of the Fathers upon the Children to the third and fourth Generation : And therefore a Sin committed an hundred Years ago, is the very fame in his Sight, as one that was committed but yesterday, if not repented of and atoned for. Were there Grounds for any Doubt or Scruple in this Matter, God himself has taken Care to remove all such, by giving very plain and positive Directions in something of a like Cafe. If one be found pain in the Land which the Lord thy God giveth thee to possess it, lying in the Field, and it be not known who hath Nain