an observation which I make with reluctance and unfeigned sorrow.

Our peculiar mercies have been numerous and invaluable, for a long course of years : but our prosperity seemed at its height, just before the American war ; when our iniquities provoked the LORD to smite us. During the calamities attending on that unhappy contest, we were called upon to observe one season of fasting, humiliation, and prayer after another. On these occasions, while numbers employed themselves in political discussions and party-disputes; there were also many ministers from the pulpit, and some from the press, who endeavoured to observe the Lord's command to the prophet, “Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy “voice like a trumpet, and shew my people their “transgression, and the house of Jacob their “sins.” They alleged, that the nation had been intoxicated with prosperity ; was become arrogant and insolent; and had forgotten the LORD, ascribing their success to their own wisdom and prowess, and depending on themselves for its continuance. They shewed, that negligence and lukewarmness in religion had introduced various antiscriptural deviations from the gospel, which gaining ground among the superior orders; and even the professed ministers of Christ, had opened the door to scepticism and infidelity, which were making rapid progress in the nation. They lamented, that impiety, contempt of God's word, profanation of his holy day in a variety of ways, perjuries multiplied and connived at beyond all former examples ; venality among all orders of the community ; and shameless prevarication in solemn subscriptions, sacred engagements, and sacramental tests, were notoriously common. They affirmed that systems of fraud, oppression, and cruelty, especially in foreign parts; unprecedented luxury and dissipation among the higher orders in society; and licentiousness among their inferiors, even beyond theordinary measures found in pagan or papal countries, together with many other crying iniquities, had provoked the Lord to contend with us. This representation was accompanied with earnest calls to repentance, and exhortations to every one to use his influence in attempting reformation, and promoting the cause of truth, piety, justice, and mercy, in his own sphere, and according to the duties of his station. Yet those warnings and admonitions, repeated from year to year, produced no sensible effects: the same evils continued and increased; and the services of the fast day seemed generally and willingly forgotten, as soon as they were finished.

i Is, lviii. 1.

We were, however, at length brought into a very alarming situation : yet the Lord, in answer to the prayers of the pious remnant in the land, remembered us in mercy: the storm was rebuked, and a flattering calm succeeded.

But alas, instead of making suitable returns for such mercies; every one of those evils which had been scripturally proved to be the causes of the Lord's controversy, still contaminated the land: and all the protests and warnings of ministers and Christians were ridiculed as visionary, enthusiastical, and superstitious. The event, as nen supposed, contradicted their forebodings, and increasing prosperity succeeded to the alarm. Yet, while the nation was thus saying “ Peace and safety,” a dark cloud began again to threaten a most tremendous storm. The violent and extraordinary changes which took place on the continent, and and the spirit manifested by numbers at home, combined to excite most serious apprehensions. After a time this deplorable and eventful war broke out: and though our distresses have not hitherto been worthy to be compared with those calamities which many dreaded; yet they have certainly been very great, and none can say in what manner they will terminate.

Immediately, the same means of averting the divine indignation was resorted to: days of fasting and prayer have repeatedly been observed ; and similar warnings and exhortations have been urged from the pulpit and the press. This is now the fourth time we have complied with the royal proclamation: and many zealous efforts have been made to awaken men to a sense both of our situation and our duty.' But what effects have been witnessed: Who almost can be found, that maniVOL. II.


fests a more humble, spiritual, zealous, and conscientious disposition, in consequence of these ordinances? The few instances of this kind, which doubtless have occurred, are scarcely visible in the great mass of those, who outwardly observe the day and then think no more about it. Many who are supposed to concur in its appointment, openly refuse to attend on any of its duties; and this gives others an occasion of representing the observance as a political device, and of turning the whole into profane ridicule!

Some fast, or pretend to "fast, for strife and de

bate, and to smite with the fist of wickedness :" and while they revile, others pay court to, their superiors; and thus they make a day of fasting and prayer an opportunity of seeking favour, either from the populace or from the magistrate ! In short, the very observance of so important and solemn an occasion, as it is too generally conducted, may be considered as an accession to our national sins: and the spirit discovered by numbers, even of those who in other respects seem to be religious, creates an alarm, lest the proper remedy for our maladies should hasten the death of the enfeebled patient.

In the mean time the inost daring and blasphemous infidelity, scarcely distinguishable from atheism, is zealously propagated, and greedily imbibed by a deluded populace and the rising generation : while almost every effort to counteract its progress is marked with feebleness; nay, too often

with treachery, the defenders of the outworks betraying the citadel into the hands of the besiegers ! -Impiety, profanation of the sabbath, perjury, venality, dissipation, and licentiousness, are rapidly increasing. An unruly spirit disdaining subordination threaten's to level all distinctions in society; while alas! few of those, who are thus distinguisha ed, take proper and decided nicthods of counteracting its inroads, or softening the odium, envy, and contempt, from which it springs! The various species of vice and profaneness, lieretofore protested against, are permitted to exist and gather strength; while little is so much as attempted in removing occasions and encouragements to them. Yea that horrid monster, the slave-trade, is still sanctioned by the British legislature, and conducted by merchants professing to be the disciples of Him, who said “Whatsoever ye would “ that men should do unto you, do ye even so “ unto them.” These are notorious facts, and demonstrate that notwithstanding all appearances, “The people turneth not to him that smiteth “ them, neither do they seek the LORD of Hosts.” And though the present scarcity seems to have given a temporay check to the excessive luxury that prevailed, and to have called forth a very commendable spirit of humanity to the indigent: yet other symptoms prove this to be merely a partial and occasional effort; and we may still

say, that with comparatively a very few exceptions,

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