« ForrigeFortsæt »
getfulness of God; their inattention to his Providence, and neglect of amendment; continuing hardened in their iniquity amidst his various judgments and visitations, intended in mercy and long suffering, to lead them to reformation. The Prophecies of their Prophets are they not all to the like purpose? either filled with denunciations of judgments upon their apostacy from God; promises of forgiveness upon their repentance and amendment; or threatening of total ruin and destruction, unless they turned from the evil of their ways, to do that which is lawful and right!
Many and various were the judgments inflicted on this people by the hand of Providence, for the punishment of their transgressions; but the four sorest, in extreme cases, when they became wholly hardened in their iniquity, was "the Sword and the Famine, and the noisome Beast (to infest a desolate land) and. the Pestilence, to cut off from it (by one dreadful visitation) both man and beast.”*
The first mentioned of those four sore judgments, the Sword, hath been sent upon us, not only by the great nation, from which our fathers and many of ourselves originated, but many a time likewise by the savage of the wilderness round us. Nor is it foreign to our purpose, on this solemn day, to contemplate the possibility, and even probability, of a Sword against us, from another great nation; once gratefully caressed, and never ungratefully offended, by us as a people.
* Ezek. xiv, 21.
Under Divine Providence, smiling upon the councils of our nation, supported by the union, valour and magnanimity of our citizens, our Liberty and Independence have been asserted against the great nation first mentioned, and by them explicitly acknowledged, as finally and fully established.
The depredations of the savages, our neighbours, we trust also, will speedily be restrained and terminated by the like valour of our citizens; and a permanent union, and interchange of all the good offices of humanity and civil life, be established on all our borders, between us and them, and our children and their children, to the latest times.
Whether the great nation last mentioned, hath in truth meditated any measures, inimical to our liberty and independence, it would be wrong to pronounce absolutely in this sacred place. But we are justified in declaring our apprehensions and fears on this head; encouraged and invited, as that nation hath been, to the attempt, by the wild principles and restless conduct of their partizans here, impatient of all rule and authority, always seeking innovations, and never content long with any frame of government.
The second and third of the sore evils, by which the Jews were sometimes punished, namely, the Famine and the noisome Beast, and Blast on the herbage and fruits of the earth, promotive of Famine; the Almighty, (by his blessing on the labours and industry of our husbandmen and yeomanry, throughout a land of various and fertile soil, happily given us to possess) has been graciously pleased, hitherto, to spare us from-except sometimes by a slight visita
tion, as a memento that our dependence is on Him, and ought not to be considered as in the strength of our own arm, or our best labour alone, without his help and blessing.
The fourth and last sore evil, the Pestilence, (to cut off from our land, by one dreadful visitation, both man and every living creature) hath, indeed, within the space of a few years past, been permitted, or ordained, by Providence to visit our metropolis, and some others of the great towns and cities of the United States; but, in the present year, with a degree of severity and extensive calamity never experienced before. Blessed be God, its rage is now graciously stayed; leaving us, indeed, in copious tears, to the memory of departed friends and relatives-And, oh! let not those tears be too soon dried up, without deep meditation, and serious improvement of the warnings given us. Let us not be like the Jews in our text, viz: "When God slew them, they came together on some solemn day (as we have done this day) to make a pause in their worldy concerns-in the career of their folly; and to remember and confess, that God was their rock, and the high God their Redeemer. For all this was only mock-worship." They flattered Him with their mouth, and they lied unto Him with their tongues; for their heart was not right with Him, neither did they continue stedfast in his covenant, but turned back and tempted him, forgetting all his former mercies and deliverances; for which he cast: upon them the fierceness of his anger in judgments of various kinds."
These judgments (as we suggested before) had been repeatedly predicted to them, by their prophets and preachers of righteousness; but they would not believe, nor even hardly hear! Thus they are told in Leviticus,*" If If ye walk contrary unto me, and will not hearken unto me, I will bring seven times more plagues upon you according to your sins. I will send wild beasts among you which shall rob you of your children, and destroy your cattle, and make you few in number, and your high ways shall be desolateI will bring a sword upon you, that shall avenge the quarrel of my covenant; and when you are gathered together within your cities, I will send the pestilence among you, and ye shall be delivered into the hand of the enemy."
Sometimes, however, they listened to these and the like threatenings, and were reformed for a while; and at other times they neglected them, and became more hardened in their iniquity. An example of their conduct in each way shall be sufficient, instead of many that might be given from their history.
And first-"When the prophet Azariah† came. in the spirit of the Lord, to king Asa, and said, Hear me Asa, and all Judah and Benjamin! The Lord is with you while you be with Him-and if you seek Him, He will be found of you; but if you forsake Him, He will forsake you-Be strong, therefore, and let not your hands be weakened, for you shall be rewarded, &c.—The good king Asa listened to the words of the prophet-He took courage, and put away
Lev. chap. xxvi. 21-24.
† 2 Chron, chap. xv.
the abominable idols, and renewed the altar of the Lord; and he gathered together all Judah and Benjamin, and the strangers with them, out of Ephraim, and Menasseh and Simeon, and they entered into a covenant to seek the Lord God of their fathers, with all their heart and with all their soul; and that whosoever would not seek the Lord God of Israel, should be put to death, whether small or great, Man or Woman."
"And they sware unto the Lord with a loud, voice, and with shouting and with trumpets and with cornets-and all Judah rejoiced at the oath; for they had sworn with all their heart, and sought Him with their whole desire, and He was found of them."And so sincere was the good king Asa in adhering to this oath himself, and enforcing obedience to it among his people, that he spared not his own mother when she refused to depart from her idolatry, but removed her from being queen, and cut down her'idol which she had made and set up in a grove, and stamped and burned it at Brook Kedron; "for which holy zeal and the keeping of their oath, the Lord rewarded him and his people-and there was no more war unto the five and thirtieth year of the reign of Asa."
But come we now to give an example on the contrary side, when the people refused or neglected to be amended by the judgments of the Almighty. Thus when Zechariah came to them in the spirit of the Lord, and said unto them*, "Thus saith the Lord, Why transgress ye the commandments of the Lord
2. Chron. xxiv. 20.