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S E R M ONS
" Are there not with you, even with you, sins against the LORD your God?"
2 Chr. xxviii. 10.
ISAIAH, V. 4.
What could have been done more to my vineyard,
that I have not done in it? Wherefore when I looked, that it should bring forth grapes, brought it forth wild grapes ?
My brethren, let none of us forget, that humiliation before God for our sins, as individuals and as a nation, constitutes the great business of this day. We should not have the least reason to doubt of the divine protection against the assaults of all our enemies; did not our manifold offences against God render us deeply deserving of his righteous indignation. Instead, therefore, of calling your attention to party-questions, which generally lead men to "fast for strife and debate,” I would attempt to assist your meditations on
Preached on the fast day, April 19, 1793, at the Lock chapel.
such subjects, as are connected with the great design of our assembling at this time.
The Old Testament is peculiarly useful, in teaching us the grand principles, according to which the Lord dealeth with nations, as such. Individuals will exist in another world, and “after death is “ the judgment:" so that no exact retribution is awarded to them in this life, for “ the wicked are “ reserved to the day of judgment to be punished:” but collective bodies will have no future subsistence; and, therefore, a recompence is here appointed to them. To ascertain the method of Providence, in this respect, we must mark a very great difference between nations favoured with the light of revelation and the ordinances of God, and those that are destitute of them. “ Where much “ is given, much will be required;" and the same degree of impiety and vice, when found in those peculiarly favoured with the means of instruction, is vastly more criminal, and tends to fill
the measure of iniquity much more rapidly, than when found in places destitute of such advantages.
In the passage of Scripture, from which the text is selected, God, by his prophet, in a most beautiful parable manifests his peculiar care and favour towards Israel, especially in respect of religious advantages: “ He had given to them bis statutes “and ordinances; he had not dealt so with any “nation; neither had the heathen the knowledge “ of his laws.” And, as the advantage of a para
ble principally consists in shewing, as in a mirrour, the real state of the case, divested of men's own concern in it; so the Lord appealed to “ the "inhabitants of Jerusalem, and the men of Judah, “ to decide betwixt bim and his vineyard, and to " determine, whether any thing could have been “done in it, which had not been done?” Why then did it bear only wild or poisonous grapes, when good grapes might have been expected from it? A similar appeal will at length be made to every man; and though now self-love warps the judgment, yet the Lord will at last condemn mone, who will not be constrained to condemn themselves, and to justify him in their condemnation.
Israel being thus brought in guilty, the Lord next proceeds to denounce sentence against the nation; declaring, that he would “take away the " hedge thereof, and it should be eaten up; and “ break down the walls thereof, and it should be "trodden down; that he would lay it waste; that " it should not be pruned or digged, but that there "should come up briars and thorns; and that he "would also command the clouds, that they should “rain no rain upon it.” The sentence, here pronounced, was not executed till about two hundred years afterwards: for Hezekiah, with Isaiah and other prophets, and afterwards Josiah and a pious remnant, by their labours and prayers prevailed, for “the lengthening of their tranquillity;” but at