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beginning to sink.-By some signal interposition of Gods' providence, they may have rescued their liberties, and all was dear to them, from the jaws of some tyrant ;-or may have preserved their religion pure and uncorrupted, when all other comforts failed them.-If other countries have reason to be thankful to God for any one of these mercies, much more has this of ours,—which, at one time or other, has received them all ;-insomuch, that our history, for this last hundred years, has scarce been any thing but the history of our deliverances and God's blessings ;-and these in so complicated a chain, such as were scarce ever vouchsafed to any people besides, except the Jews ;-and, with regard to them, though inferior in the stupendous manner of their working, yet no way so--in the extensive good. ness of their effects, and the infinite benevolence and power which must have wrought them for us.
Here then let us stop to look back a moment, and inquire what great effects all this has had upon our sins, and how far worthy we have lived of what we have received.
A stranger, when he heard that this island had been so favoured by Heaven, so happy in our laws and religion,-s0 Aourishing in our trade,-and so blessed in our situation, and so visibly protected in all of them by Providence,-- would conclude, that our morals had kept pace with these blessings; and would expect that, as we were the most favoured by God Almighty, we must be the most virtuous and religious people upon earth.
Would to God there was any other reason to incline one to such a belief!--would to God that the appearance of religion was more frequent! for that would necessarily imply the reality of it somewhere, and most probably in the greatest and most respectable characters of the nation.-Such was the situation of this country, till a licentious king introduced a licentious age.-The court of Charles the Second first brake in upon, and, I fear, has almost demolished the out works of religion, of modesty, and of sober manners ;-so that, instead of any real marks of religion amongst us, you see thousands who are tired with carrying the mask of it, and have thrown it aside as a useless incumbrance.
But this licentiousness, he'll say, may be chiefly owing to a long course of prosperity, which is apt to corrupt mens minds.--God has since tried you with afflictions ;--you have had lately a bloody and expensive war ;-God has sent, moreover, a pestilence amongst your cattle, which has cut off the “ stock from the fold, and left no herd in the stalls :" -besides, you have just felt two dreadful shocks in your metropolis, of a most terrifying nature ;which, if God's providence had not checked and restrained within some bounds, might have overthrown your capital, and your kingdom with it.
Surely, he'll say,-all these warnings must have awakened the consciences of the most unthinking part
you, and forced the inhabitants of your land, from such admonitions, to llave Icarned righteous. ness.-I own, this is the natural effect, and, one would hope, should always be the improvement from such calamities ;-for we often find, that numbers of people, who in their prosperity seemed to forget God, do yet remember him in the days of trouble and distress ;-yet, consider this nationally, -WC see no such effect from it, as, in fact, one would expect from speculation.
For instance :-With all the devastation and bloodshed which the war has occasioned,--how many converts has it made either to yirtue or frugali. ty ?- The pestilence amongst our cattle, though it has distressed, and utterly undone so many thousands—yet what one visible alteration has it made in the course of our lives?
And though, one would imagine, that the necessary drains of taxes for the one, and the loss of rent and property from the othershould, in some nieasure, have withdrawn the means of gratifying our passions as we have dones--yet what appearance is there amongst us that it is so ?--what one fashiona. ble folly or extravagance has been checked ?--Are not the same expenses of equipage, and furniture, and dress--the same order of diversions, perpetually returning, and as great luxury and epicurism of entertainments, as in the most prosperous condition ?--So that, “ though the head is sick, and the 66 whole heart is faint,” we all affect to look well in the face, either as if nothing had happened, or we wcre ashamed to acknowledge the force and natural effects of the chastisements of God. -And if, from the effects which war and pestilence have had,-we may form a judgment of the moral effects which this last terror is likely to produce,- it is to be feared, however we might be startled at first,--that the impressions will scarce last longer than the instantaneous shock which occasioned them :-and I make no doubt should a man have courage to declare his opinion,” That he believed it was an in
dication of God's anger upon a corrupt generaītion,'--that it would be great odds but he would be pitied for his weakness, or openly laughed at for his superstition.-Or if, after such a declaration, he was thought worth setting right in his mistake-he would be informed,--that religion had nothing to do in explications of this kind :that all such violent vibrations of the earth were owing to subterraneous caverns falling down of themselves, or being blown up by nitrous and sulphureous vapours rarified by heat ;--and that it was idle to bring in the Deity to untie the knot, when it came to be resolved easily into natural causes.-Vain unthinking mortals !-as if natural causes were any thing else in the hands of God but instruments which he can turn to work the purposes of his will, either to reward or punish, as seems fitting to his infinite wisdom.
Thus no man repenteth him of his wickedness, saying,—What have I done ?- but every one turneth to his course, as a horse rusheth into the battle. -To conclude :---However we may under-rate it now, it is a maxim of eternal truth, which both reasonings and all accounts from history confirm,--that the wickedness and corruption of a people will sooner or later always bring on temporal mischiefs and calamities :-and can it be otherwise for a vi. tious nation not only carries the seeds of destruction within, from the natural workings and course of things-but it lays itself open to the whole force and injury of accidents from without ;--and I do venture to say,--there never was a nation or people fallen into troubles or decay,--but one might justly leave the same remark upon them which the sacred historian makes in the text, upon the misfortunes of the Israelites.--" for so it was,--that they had " sinned against the Lord their God.”
Let us, therefore, constantly bear in mind that conclusion of the sacred writer --which I shall give you in his own beautiful and awful language :-
6 But the Lord, who brought you up out of the “ land of Egypt, with great power and a stretch'd « out arm, him shall ye fear, and him shall ye wor« ship, and to him shall ye do sacrifice.-And the « statutes, and thə ordinances, and the command“ments he wrote for you, ye shall observe to do for
evermore.-The Lord your God ye shall fear ; 66 and he shall deliver you out of thę hand of all your " enemies."
Now to God the Father, &c.
END OF VOLUME V.