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sings. Thus low did a righteous GOD bring us for iniquity; yet blessed be his name, in wrath he remembered mercy.
4. Then observe, "that he regarded our affliction "when he heard our cry." Though he hath not restored us to our pristine prosperity, perhaps never may; yet hath he done great things for us in answer to our prayers.-We cried unto the LORD in our distress. We remember when in our national difficulties, from year to year, at the appointment of our governors, we met together to observe a solemn day of fasting, humiliation, and prayer; the old and scriptural way of seeking help of GoD in publick calamities. Doubtless multitudes grossly prevaricated with GoD in this matter, who must one day be called to account for their hypocrisy. On such occasions, I apprehend, it always has been so; never was any whole nation yet sincerely and truly penitent for sin, whatever they may hereafter be. Nevertheless, there was a publick honour put upon Gon and religion all over the land on those days: GoD was justified by us in bringing calamities upon us; we acknowledged that we deserved to be given over into the hands of our enemies: we disclaimed all confidence in an arm of flesh, craved help of GOD, deprecated his vengeance, implored his mercy, the continuance of our national privileges, and the restoration of the blessings of peace. Now impudence in sinning is one-symptom of ripeness for destruction. When a nation declares its sin, like Sodom, Sodom's doom approaches. But publick condemnation of our.
selves, and publick justification of GoD in his severest judgments upon us, accompanied by publick and general supplications to him for undeserved help, seemed to indicate that though our measure of iniquity is large, it is not yet full. He who prolonged his patience toward Ahab, on account of his external humiliation, prolongs his patience towards us, in part on the same account. But now if we relapse, and grow more daring in our wickedness, the measure will soon be full, and there will be no remedy. May GoD avert this awful, this impending doom!
There were, however, on those days, I trust, many tens of thousands of real christians, unanimous, sincere and earnest, in this important business. All are not "men of understanding in the times to know what "Israel ought to do;" and all need exciting, instructing and assisting in their duty. A fast proclaimed sounded the alarm; many ministers resounded it from their pulpits; christians were awakened to consider the publick circumstances, with their duty to GoD and their country, and excited and reminded to perform it. Great numbers in publick assemblies, in private families, in secret retirements, were sincerely confessing and bewailing their own sins; sighing and mourning for the abominations of the land; and pleading with GOD for pardon, protection, deliverance, and peace. Many, we may hope, through GoD's blessing on the labours of his ministers, were on those days brought to true repentance; and as true penitents, both then and afterwards joined sincerely in the general cry. Now if but two real disciples of CHRIST agree toge
ther on earth, touching any thing they shall ask of GoD, through the intercession of JESUS, it shall be done for them: how much more when such multitudes, with one consent, both on those days and at other times, sought deliverance and peace in earnest prayer, might we expect a gracious answer! Universal wickedness is another symptom, that a nation is ripe for destruction, when the LORD looketh for some to make intercession, and there are few, or none; but when many present themselves, unanimous and cordial in this blessed work, though he bring that nation low, he will not yet give it up.
For these reasons, I consider it my duty to bless GOD for putting such a thing into the heart of our sovereign, (for "the king's heart is in the hand of the "LORD,") and I consider it as every christian's duty to observe such seasons with all earnestness. We may easily overvalue external religion, if we trust to it, and are proud of it: but it is possible to undervalue it; and we actually do so, if we do not immensely prefer it to open irreligion.
We are now assembled to return publick thanks for the mercies we then sought in publick prayers; and it seemed therefore proper to have at this season, a peculiar eye to those. It suffices, however, for my purpose, that we cried unto the LORD, and he heard us, whensoever our prayers were made.
For, I. In the very critical time, he gave importan success to our arms. Had the event of the sea-figh between our fleet, under admiral Rodney, and th
combined fleets, been as decisive in their favour as it was in ours; and had the Spaniards carried their point. at Gibraltar, instead of being so severely repulsed by general Eliott, the consequences might have been fatal. At best, our present low estate must have been much lower, if our existence as an independent kingdom had been preserved; if our civil and religious liberties had not been wrenched from us, or our happy island desolated by the horrors of war, and deluged with the blood of its inhabitants.
Let admirals and generals have their proper honour and reward: far be it from me to depreciate their characters, or envy their emoluments: they are worthy of them all from us, for whose security they expose themselves to danger. But let us not give them the glory which belongs to GOD. He inspires courage, he gives wisdom, he determines victory. Shall we not then render him our warmest thanksgivings for these seasonable and signal interpositions, in answer to the prayers we poured out in the day of our distress? Remember, my brethren, your anxiety, your apprehensions, your despondency, at that time; and ask your hearts, whether you have not cause for thankfulness? And whether you have been thankful? At that stage of the war, we were evidently not struggling for dominion, but for national security and equitable peace; which consideration disposes me more cheerfully to praise the LORD for thus answering our requests. And I think heaven and earth will condemn our ingratitude, if we do not as unanimously join in thanksgiving, as we did in supplication.
II. In consequence of these and other successes, peace was at length concluded. But what sort of a peace? some are ready to answer. Such a peace as is much better than such a war. When we consider our nationalguilt, our national circumstances, our confederated foes, and exhausted finances, we must surely acknowledge that God hath done better by us, than either we deserved, or once expected; and this calls for grateful praise.-But some will say 'tis so humiliating a peace, I cannot be satisfied with it, nor feel thankful for it. 'Tis true, God hath brought us low for our iniquity, both in respect of the extent of our dominions, and our national wealth and consequence; but if we be brought no lower, perhaps this very circumstance calls for thankfulness. Bad as the state of religion and morals is amongst us, had our wealth and honour increased, as it had done for some years past, probably matters had even now been much worse. Pride, ungodliness, sensuality, and luxury, had increased with increasing wealth and power, and probably would have increased. Had it been so, our destruction had advanced with hastier steps. Perhaps our being brought low, and deprived in part of that provision we had made for our lusts, is the very means of prolonging our state and delaying our ruin. And shall a christian murmur at this? Shall he refuse to be thankful for peace, and liberty, and security, because he doth not roll in wealth, nor is exalted in honour as heretofore? But to be more particular;
1. We are bound to thank God for putting a stop