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“ Ye shall not fast (says our text), to make your “ voice be heard on high. Is it such a Fast that I “ have chosen-a day for a man to afflict his soul; “ to bow down his head as a bulrush, and to spread " sackcloth and ashes under him? Wilt thou call “ this a Fast, an acceptable day unto the Lord?" No, implies the prophet in his answer, the Fast which the Almighty has chosen is far different.

“ It is to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo “ the heavy burdens, to let the oppressed go free, " and to break every yoke? It is to deal thy bread to “ the hungry, and to bring the poor outcast to thine “ house when thou seest the naked, to cover him, " and not to hide thyself from thine own flesh.”

Thus, we see that, even in an Old Testament Fast, all outward observances and ceremonies" afflicting the Flesh, bowing the head as a bulrush, wallowing in ashes,” and the like, were only so far of any value before God, as they were the Fruits of the Spirit, the genuine mark of Hearts loathing iniquity; striving to loose the strong bands of wickedness; ceasing from evil; learning to do well; and calling forth the soul in all actions of mercy, loving kindness, and true benevolence. This is the genuine Fast, the unfeigned Humiliation of soul, required by the Prophet! And our Saviour himself confirms the doctrine; telling us that our Fasting should not be like that of the Hypocrites; consisting only in sad countenances, and disfigured faces; but in godly sincerity, not regarding the applause of men; but fasting in the secrecy of heart, considering ourselves only as in His presence “who seeing in secret will reward openly all those who come to Him with souls thus sincerely penitent.

Thus far in general, concerning the nature of a True Fast; and I doubt not many Sermons will this day be delivered, in order to lead to such sincerity of Fasting, by displaying to men the terrors of the Almighty; and the punishments wherewith He now threatens and visits us for past sins, and the neglect of His manifold goodness to us as a people. And much might be said on this subject-But, as I hinted before, I would chuse to lead you farther, and into a field of higher fruits.

Your fears, I trust, are sufficiently alarmed. You have, I hope, turned your thoughts to Almighty God. You have beheld His hand lifted up over this prostrate and afflicted land-afflicted with the worst of evils—the demon of discord and civil distractionYou are all ready to cry out—" who will shew us any good? Lord have mercy upon us, and deliver usWe repent of our sins, and seek Thy grace for re. formation and amendment."

I would, therefore, cherish these good disposi. tions; and what may, peradventure, have begun through Fear, I would ripen into maturity by the more cheering beams of Love. Instead of increasing your afflictions, I would convey a dawn of comfort to your souls; rather striving to woo and to win you to Religion and Happiness, from a consideration of what God hath promised to the Virtuous, than of what He hath denounced against the Wicked, both through Time and in Eternity.

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It hath always been a favourite theme with me, in my public addresses, to dwell much upon those Prophecies, and portions of holy Scripture, which predict that, God's own government, in the hearts of men through the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the Grace of his Holy Spirit, shall be extended, among those that “ sit in darkness and the shadow of death, even to the remotest ends of this habitable world;" and that although God's gracious purposes may be counter-worked and stayed long, by the unworthiness of the instrument which he hath chosen-perverse Man-yet they cannot, finally, be frustrated!

I would now pursue this subject, and impress this strong hope, that notwithstanding the darkness that now hangs over us, the Lord (as the Prophet elsewhere expresses it) offers himself as “an everlasting Light to us”—that if we will obey His call, and follow where His divine Providence points our glorious way, our days of Mourning shall yet be turned into Joy. “ We shall yet become a righteous

people and inherit the land forever, as a branch of “ His planting, in which He may be glorified—that a “ little one among us shall become a thousand, and

a small one a strong nation, and that He, the Lord, " will hasten it in his time*."

This ravishing hope, my Brethren, if duly cherished, will lead us, better than a thousand arguments founded in Fear, to improve the design of our present meeting, by a view of our own situation in this country, the designs for which God appears to have

• Isaiah, Ix. 22.

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planted us in it, and the part which it is our duty to act in this day of trial; so as neither to counteract our promised bliss by licentious Impatience, nor forfeit our hopes of it by unmanly Fears.

If we turn our thoughts to the ways of Provi. dence, as recorded in history, profane as well as sacred, and consider the fate of Christian empires how they have been alternately blessed with the enjoyment of Gospel-light, Liberty and Happiness, alternately lifted up and cast down, according to their due use, or corrupt abuse, of these blessings; if we mark their progress through the old world; and impartially examine the prophecies which relate to their gradual extension to the remotest habitations of the Gentiles; we shall find rays of Hope darting in upon us, which may yet help to cheer us, amidst all the gloom that now broods over us.

Like the Sun, these mighty blessings (Gospellight, Liberty and Happiness) have still pursued their western course, since the birth of Christianity, till, in meridian splendour, they reached the utmost verge, the ultima Thule, of the old world; where they long illuminated the favoured land from which we sprung. And, while they shone in noon-tide glory there, their cheering rays extended with our ancestors across the vast Atlantic, dispelling the long, long, night of darkness in which these American regions lay involved; and opening upon Us a radiant Morn, which

gave the joyous earnest of a future resplendent day. That Morn is now overcast; but our Sun, we trust, only hides his head from us for a time, and is not commanded, by an unappeasable Providence, to

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revert from his destined course, and measure back his former way.

If we make a due improvement of the present visitations of Heaven, the clouds will speedily disperse; our Sun will break forth with renewed vigour, and these “ ends of the earth shall yet see the salvation of God.”

In this view of things, my Brethren, and on this solemn day, set apart for humiliation of soul, godly sorrow, serious meditation and sincere repentance; fixt, as it were, in the very midst of the great Drama, which the Almighty, by his own ways and means, is carrying on to Perfection; let us make a deep pause; and, turning our reflections both backward and forward, and more especially upward to Him, let us deal honestly with ourselves, and impartially consider the part we are called to act.

It is more than probable that the chief concern of the greatest part of us this day—the sentiment uppermost in our hearts-relates to our temporal salvation. This is not blameable, but only in the degree of our concern. Our temporal distressassembled ushere, and has prostrated us at our Maker's feet; when, probably, had Prosperity surrounded us, we should have been forgetful of Him, and spending the precious moments in Vanity, and things of no Spiritual Profit.

Of this principle I will avail myself, therefore, in the first place. Would you be thought Patriots indeed? Do you profess yourselves, in good earnest, ready to sacrifice your blood and treasure for the temporal safety of your country? Have you lifted up your voices to God in fervent supplications, that he would

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