[ocr errors]

met with but little disturbance, and judged it more politick to let us alone. Now if this was the case; the testimony of those who avow themselves enemies to our doctrines and proceedings, is a hopeful proof that our cause is getting ground, and our success so great as to excite some alarm and disquietude. They publickly aver, that the number of those who call them'selves evangelical ministers is rapidly increasing in 'the church.' We trust that it is so, and rejoice in their testimony. They indeed predict many bad consequences; and are ready to exclaim, with the Jews of old, “Men of Israel, help." But so long, as the ministers of the established church adhere simply to her doctrines and liturgy; act consistently with their character and engagements; are exemplary in their lives, and labour diligently in their several places: we are confident that our rulers, in church and state, know better than to regard the clamours of such men, however vehement and reiterated they may be. Our part, however, is," to study to be quiet, and mind our own "business;" to rejoice if the cause of Christ prospers in the world; and to leave it to him to protect us against persecution, or to support us under it.

These are the principal, though not the only grounds, on which many seem to hesitate, as to the cause which we now have to rejoice and give thanks: and I trust it has been shewn, that they ought by no means to interrupt our gratitude and damp our ardour.

When national benefits are received, it must be expected, that men will very generally be affected, as

they suppose their own interests to be concerned; so that numbers, who rejoice, do it for selfish reasons, and not from regard to the publick good. And, they who are not habitually influenced by religious principles, will express their satisfaction in a worldly manner. These things we must observe, and in one sense regret: but, except excess or other crimes are committed, we should not be too severe in animadverting upon them; for this tends rather to prejudice than to conciliate men's minds. They, however, who have sought the blessings of peace and plenty, by fervent prayer and supplication, should make their acknowledgment to that God, who has "inclined his ear unto them," by the voice of praise and thanksgiving, both in publick, in their families, and their social intercourse. This should distinguish every thing festive, which they admit of on the occasion; and be accompanied with proportionable liberality to the poor and needy, that their hearts also may rejoice. And, while the people of God 'shew forth his praises from a heart unfeignedly thankful, not only with their lips, but in their lives, by giving themselves up to his service, and by walking before him in holiness and righteousness all their, days;' they should consider what additional ability and advantages peace may afford afford them of promoting the cause of Christianity at large, in every part of the world. Many opportunities will, no doubt, be given of doing this, when peace shall be established; and numbers will have increasing ability for availing themselves of such openings. We should then daily ask ourselves, "What shall I render to the LORD for all



"his benefits?" and we shall best shew our gratitude, by employing that time and property in works of piety and charity, which others waste in self-indulgence, of devote to avarice.

We proceed now,

III. To consider the concluding resolution, "There"fore will I call upon thee, as long as I live." It is, I suppose, understood that this is the closing sermon, on' The signs and duties of the present times;' and that the Society is now dissolved. It has indeed been urged, that there is as much need of the society and its efforts as ever: for if, after God has so graciously delivered us, in answer to the prayers of his people; we, as a nation, go on in accumulating guilt, and ungratefully abusing his goodness; the present deliverance can only be considered as a reprieve, and the vengeance of heaven will fall proportionably heavier in the event. There is besides, great danger, lest the prosperity, that accompanies peace, should still more deeply corrupt us; and even increase the lukewarm and wordly spirit, which, alas! is already too prevalent among those who seem to be religious. Now, as far as this observation relates to the necessity of persevering in prayer, and every zealous exertion, it is perfectly just, and highly important: but if applied to the continuance of this Society, it appears inconclusive. The society originated in a general conviction, that the times were extraordinary, and required extraordinary exertions: and we considered ourselves as justified in this measure by the publick opinion. Yet we live in a day, when all

[ocr errors]

private associations are regarded with a jealous eye: and in some respects justly; for many very pernicious designs have been cloaked with fair pretences. Even this Society, though our avowed and real motives and objects were absolutely the same, and undeniably harmless and useful; and though we trust our whole conduct has been consistent with those avowed motives and objects; has not escaped some degree of censure and suspicion. We formed ourselves into a Society, during an alarming crisis, in order to promote a spirit of prayer for the land, and all orders of men in it; to counteract the progress of infidelity, impiety, and vice; and to use our influence to maintain subordination and quiet subjection to our lawful governors. Blessed be God, that awful crisis is now past; the immediate necessity for such a society ceases; should we continue it, our conduct might be misunderstood; and should a new occasion arise, by discontinuing it at present, we should be able to resume it, on this or a similar plan, with greater advantage, and without giving occasion against us to those who seek occasion.

But though these periodical sermons now close, and the Society is no more; as individual ministers, in our several congregations, and occasionally in each other's; we shall still exhort you, my brethren, to attend to the same important duties, which we have thus inculcated; and especially to continue in prayer and supplication for the land, and for the church of God: and we hope that both hearers and ministers will abound yet more and more. We have no less reason to do this, and we have additional encouragement." God hath

"inclined his ear to us; therefore will we call on him "as long as we live."

Even natural feelings will dictate a kind of prayer in seasons of great distress or alarm: but when the danger and anguish are over, and prosperity induces security, the same persons say in their conduct, "We ❝are lords, we will come no more unto thee." But the grace of God teaches those who possess it, to pray at all times. "Be careful for nothing; but in every “ thing by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, "let your requests be made known unto God.” Mingle, then, thanksgivings with your prayers in trouble; unite prayers and supplications with your joyful praises in prosperity. "Pray without ceasing, in every thing give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ "Jesus concerning you."



In all times of tribulation, in all times of our wealth,-good Lord, deliver us.' National, as well as private success has its peculiar dangers. "When thy riches increase, and thy silver and gold is mul"tiplied; then beware lest thy heart be lifted up, and "thou forget the LORD thy God." Oh! attend to this caution, my affluent brethren; and pray without ceasing to be preserved in your perilous circumstances: and pray every one of you, for yourselves and each other, and all your fellow-christians, and the land; that prosperity may not prove still more fatal to us, than even the late calamitous war. Pray especially, that we may experience and exemplify what we read of in the sacred history: "Then had the churches rest and

were edified: and walking in the fear of the Lord,

« VorigeDoorgaan »