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travagancies as these; nor will I pay so bad a compliment, either to your understandings, or your feelings, as to suppose you capable of listening to them. When your first terrifying alarm was over, and gave place to sober and cool reflection, to what did this naturally lead your thoughts? Did it not immediately direct them to the great Governor of the world? Were not your eyes and your hands (I may safely add your hearts too) almost involuntarily raised up to him, as having just given a most awful display of his almighty power? Let the sceptic, if he pleases, call this superstition. A name, I hope, will not frighten you, especially one so much abused and misapplied as this has lately been. If you part with every thing which such persons are pleased to call superstition, you will very soon be eased, not only of all superstition, but of all religion too, for with them these are synonymous terms. Trust then (for you safely may) to the first movements of your hearts on this occasion. They were the sentiments of nature. They are worth a thousand metaphysical subtilties, and are confirmed by reason, Scripture, and experience. .:12.
What the immediate causes of earthquakes are, I shall not here stay to inquire. Notwithstanding several plausible and ingenious theories concerning them, these disorders of our globe, like many diseases of our bodies, do still, in a great measure, remain among the mysteries of nature, and that for a very obvious reason; because we can neither look into the bowels of the earth, nor of the human frame. But whatever these causes may be, they must still be referred to the great First Cause and Author of all. Those laws of nature, as they are called, which he has himself established, must be still under his overruling influence and control: and could they be for one moment interrupted, or suspended, without his knowledge or permission, he would be no longer the sovereign of the universe. Even those things which appear to us the most contingent and fortuitous, and which we therefore call accidents, are all under the direction of Supreme Intelligence. “ The lot is cast into the lap, but the whole disposing thereof is of the Lord *." : Nor is this all; as he is not only the pre
server • Prov. xvi. 33.
server of the material, but the governor also of the moral world, it is highly reasonable to suppose, that he may render the former subservient to the great purposes of the latter; and since he evidently designed the regular course and order of nature for the support and comfort of man, we seem authorized to conclude that he will apply its irregularities and disorders to his punishment, correction, and admonition. This idea of his moral administration is abundantly confirmed by Scripture. It represents him as exercising a supreme and uncontrolled dominion over all the several parts of the material system, and making use of them as ministers to execute his will. The sun, the moon, and all the other celestial bodies, have their stations appointed, and their motions regulated by him*. “He makes the former and the latter rains to descend, and His clouds to drop fatness on the earth p." “ He shuts up the sea with doors, and says, Hitherto shalt thou come, but no further, and here shall thy proud waves be stayed t.” “The thunder is his voice, and the lightning he dispatches as his messenger to the ends of the earth*.” The sword, the pestilence, and famine, are all instruments of his displeasure t. “ Fire and hail, snow and vapours, wind and storm, fulfil his word I.” All these things he “ causes to come, whether for correction or for mercy ş.” And “when these judgments of his are in the earth,” we are expressly told, that he expects “ the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness ||.” Surely then such convulsions of the globe as you have felt, must be amongst the means he makes use of for the same important purposes; and he, without whose knowledge not, a sparrow falls to the grounds, will not suffer “ those pillars of the earth, which he himself bears up,” to be shaken **, and the inhabitants of it to be filled with terror and consternation, but for great and weighty reasons.
thunder * See Deut. iv. 19. Ps. civ. 19. + Jer. v. 24. Ps. Ixv. 11. † Job xxxviii. 8. 11.
Let me not however be understood to infer from hence, that, because the earthquake was
principally * Job. xxxvii. 5. 3. Is. xxvi. 9. + 2 Sam. xxiv. 13.
Matt. x. 29. . Ps. cxlviii. 8.
** Ps. lxxv, 3. 9 Job xxxviii. 13.
principally felt in your towns and neighbourhood, you are therefore more wicked than the rest of your countrymen ; such a conclusion would be equally rash and unchristian. We are told, that even those “ upon whom the tower in Siloam fell*,” were not sinners above all others. But we are all of us, God knows, sinners great enough to stand in need of frequent warnings and corrections; and whether your present situation may not peculiarly require such dreadful monitors as you have lately had, it behoves you very seriously to consider. By the flourishing state of your trade and manufactures, you have for many years been advancing rapidly in wealth and population. Your towns are every day growing in size and splendour; many of the higher ranks among you live in no small degree of opulence; their inferiors, in ease and plenty, What the usual fruits of such affluence as this are, is but too well known. Intemperance and licentiousness of manners, a wanton and foolish extravagance in dress, in equipage, in houses, in furniture, in entertainments; a passion for luxurious indulgences and frivolous amuse
ments: . • Luke xiii. 4.