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willingly; and therefore he will be sure to bring them low for their iniquity, that he may lead them to repent
3. Then, I observe, that God hath brought these nations low for their iniquity, by the late calamitous, war. Let those, who look no higher than instruments, dispute about the authors of our troubles: you and I, my fellow-christians, should acknowledge GoD's justice them, and blame our own sins. Many times GOD hath delivered us. No nation hath ever been more entirely delivered, or repeatedly preserved by the providence of GOD from tyranny and despotism, than Britain. No nation hath been indulged with greater prosperity, or with such long-continued exemptions from famines, pestilences, earthquakes, or the sword of war ravaging our fields. We have been highly favoured with religious light, and liberty: the opportunity, and full freedom of learning and doing the will of GoD, and rejoicing in his salvation. GoD's persevering kindness to Israel has been renewed in his kindness to our land: and, alas! we have re-acted their provocations; so that none but an infidel can be at a loss for the origin of our calamities. "We have provoked "GOD by our counsel, and are brought low for our
iniquity." Compare the charges GOD's prophets brought against Israel, with the conduct and character of these nations. If Israel exceeded Britain in gross idolatry, Britain hath exceeded Israel in daring infidelity, and atheism; in perjury, profaneness, and blasVOL. II. 3 B
phemy; in contempt of God's word, neglect of his ordinances, violation of his sabbaths; and at least hath equalled Israel's ingratitude and hypocrisy. Including the whole of our appendages, I fear we have immensely out-done them in shedding innocent blood, in oppressing the poor, the fatherless, and the widow; and in every species of detestable injustice, prompted by insatiable avarice, and protected from human vengeance, (as it is greatly suspected) by shameless bribery and venality.* In pride, adultery, luxury, and all debauchery, their guilt bears, I apprehend, no proportion to ours.
But national guilt is only the accumulation of the sins of individuals: the measure fills fast, whilst every one contributes his large proportion: as a nation we all have need to mourn over the whole; but each one should especially be humbled for his own sins. Calling then our attention from objects more distant, let us examine our own hearts and lives. What say your consciences, my brethren? Have you not helped to bring the nation low by iniquity? Have you not provoked God by your ungodliness and unrighteousness? Have you not forgotten GOD, been ungrateful for his
* An eminent speaker in the house of commons observed, that God had punished us with the loss of one continent for the oppression exercised on the other. I fear for this, and other horrid scenes of wickedness, God hath much worse punishments in store for us; except national reformation and national justice executed on the culprits, prevent.
mercies, profaned his sabbaths, slighted his ordinances, trampled on his law, despised or abused his gospel? Judge yourselves, brethren, that ye be not judged of the LORD. Personal repentance and humiliation before God, on account of our sins, as a part of our national guilt, and earnest prayers in that behalf, is a debt we owe our country, which may suffer in part for our offences, though we as individuals may be pardoned in respect of eternal punishment, God pardoned Mannasseh, yet would not pardon Jerusalem the innocent blood which he had shed.
For our sins then, GOD hath brought us low: by a concurrence of counsels and events, we were engaged in a ruinous war with our American colonies. Our ancient enemies triumphed, hoping the time of our downfal was come, and expecting to share the spoil: four powerful nations in confederacy fought against us; no one was found cordial in friendship, or prompt in bringing assistance. They practised, and prospered; our enterprizes were unsuccessful, our projects disconcerted, our hearts discouraged; the disasters of war wasted our soldiers, enormous expences drained off our riches; debts accumulated, taxes increased; our resources were nearly exhausted, commerce was discouraged, manufactures languished; many of the wealthy were impoverished, the poor were greatly distressed; our consequence was diminished, intestine discord prevailed; invasions were threatened and dreaded; there was no prospect of peace on tolerable terms; the most fatal effects were apprehended to our civil and religious liberties, those best of earthly bles
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 Gon 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: Gon 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