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Messiah, could it consist with the glory of God, to pour out his vengeance upon the nation, and wholly to deprive them of their distinguished advantages. But after that event, his plan no more required their pre. servation as his visible church; and so “ wrath came
upon them to the uttermost.”
There was likewise, through every age, a pious remnant in the land, to whom the promises especially belonged, and with whom the covenant was ratified. These persons prayed continually in behalf of the church and nation, according to the examples before adduced: and the honour of God required, that such prayers should be answered, and that his promises should be fulfilled to those who thus laid hold on his covenant. On all these accounts JEHOVAH “ withdrew “ his hand, and wrought for his name's sake, that it “ should not be polluted in the sight of the heathen:” otherwise the crimes of Israel were so numerous and heinous, that he would have permitted their insulting enemies to effect their destruction; nay, he would immediately by his own power have made them like unto Sodom and Gomorrah. -We proceed,
II. More particularly to consider the words of the text, as applicable to the present circumstances of these nations. And,
1. I shall take this occasion to recapitulate, in a compendious manner, what God hath wrought in our behalf, since the beginning of the present convulsions in Europe: and while the several particulars are noticed, it will, I think, appear evident to every serious
mind, that God himself hath graciously interposed in our behalf. “ If it had not been the LORD who was
on our side, now may Israel say; if it had not been " the LORD who was on our side when men rose up “ against us: then had they swallowed us up quick, “ when their wrath was kindled against us. Then the “ waters had overwhelmed us, the stream had gone
over our soul. Blessed be the Lord who hath not “given us over for a prey unto their teeth."*
It is well known, that soon after the commencement of these bloody contests, which have wasted Europe, and destroyed many millions of her inhabitants, Great Britain was especially marked out as the victim of that power, whom God has employed as his scourge among the nations. Our prosperity was envied; our wealth, commerce, and naval prowess were coveted; and bit. ter resentment for supposed injuries was avowed. Yet while the nations of Europe, with but few exceptions, have witnessed and experienced, in a most tremen. dous manner, the horrors and miseries of war; we have, during a course of years, had peace in our borders. Doubtless our excessive affluence, the fuel and incen. tive of as excessive pride and luxury, has been diminished; and many hardships have been felt by num. bers, who are entitled to our sympathy and assistance: but our cities have not been reduced to ruinous heaps by dreadful sieges; we have not seen our streets flow. ing with human blood or strewed with mangled bodies; nor have we heard the piercing groans of the
* Psalm cxxy.
wounded and dying, nor the more durable lamentations of their distressed survivors. We are most of us happily unable to form a conception of the terrors and miseries, incident to the seat of war; or of the scenes which are witnessed, when an insulting victorious ar. my prescribes scarcely any bounds to rapine, cruelty, and brutal lust. Nor have desolated fields, and the smoking ruins of towns and villages, pained our eyes, when we have had occasion to journey through the country. Oh, my brethren, nothing can give us an adequate idea of the tremendous horrors of this scourge of God! Even those, who professedly record the his. tory of battles and sieges, draw a veil over the frightful scenes, from which the imagination would other. wise turn with disgust and terror; or rather they embellish them with the false glitter of military glory, and the splendid achievements of particular warriors. But the attentive enquirer will learn enough from various facts and circumstances, to value a land of peace above all temporal good; and, if piously disposed, to bless God for such a privilege, whatever it cost, and whatever loss or burden he sustain in order to preserve it.
That hidden fire also, which unexpectedly burst forth in such tremendous convulsions on the continent, has been clearly proved to have abounded at the same period in this country: and many symptoms caused great alarms of insurrections, civil wars, revolutions, and massacres, like those which have been, in some respects, even more horrible than war itself, in a neighbouring country: while the consciousness of ingratitude for our peculiar privileges increased our apprehensions concerning the event. Yet during so many years the Lord hath preserved us; and very little indeed hath occurred in this island, to cause the shedding of human blood, either by the sword of war, or by that of the executioner. For he that “ stilleth the
rag“ing of the sea,” hath hitherto repressed the madness of the people: and great is the debt of gratitude we owe him on that account.
Whatever advantages may eventually arise from the dreadful transactions on the Continent; (for' doubtless God will over-rule them for some wise and gracious purpose;) all, who love the holy day of the Lord, the ordinances of his courts, and the liberty of attending on them without interruption, must, if properly informed, have felt great anxiety about the event. The legal abolition of the Christian sabbath, the substitution of a heathen decade, and the shutting up, wholly or in part, very many places of worship, on various political pretences, wherever the enemy hath obtained the ascendency; (when considered as connected with the most avowed infidelity and even atheism, and the determined enmity against Christianity, which distinguished many of the principal actors in those scenes,) had a very dismal aspect on our religious privileges, on the condition in this respect of our posterity, and on the interests of religion in this land, in case our enemies had prevailed in the contest. But hitherto God bath preserved us from every kind and degree of persecution, and we have full liberty to worship him according to our. consciences, at whatever time
and in whatever place we choose. While this is the case, and our Bibles, our sabbaths, and our religious privileges are continued to us: we must be shamefully carnal and ungrateful, if merely temporal difficulties or burdens induce us to refuse our tribute of thanks. giving to the Author of all our mercies.
The enemies, with whom we have sustained so long and severe a contest, have been indeed most wonderfully successful in their designs, and in many cases they have prevailed against our forces: yet they have been uniformly baffled in all their attempts against this island, and its essential dependences! Surely then the Lord hath“ wrought for his own name's sake," and has a right to our tribute of grateful praise.
At the crisis, when the fleet under Lord Howe gained a most decided victory, the state of things at home, as well as the designs of our foreign enemies, might have rendered such a victory, gained by them, of very dreadful consequence to us: for in all probabi. lity an invasion would in that case have been immedi. ately attempted, with vastly greater prospect of success than it could be at present. And we should in every instance remember, that we are called on to be thankful, not only for success and its effects, but for preservation from the consequences of defeat.
Not to dwell on the advantages derived from the victory obtained by Lord St. Vincent, which were very important; let us recollect, that on one occasion, when the enemy made an attempt to land in Ireland, the unfavourable weather and contrary winds rendered it impracticable for our fleets to pursue them, and many