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may estimate the prevalency and the aggravations of sin in a country. And what test has ever been devised, that is not alarming when applied to ourselves?
Divines have told us, that if God has favoured a nation with a revelation of his will, their sins are aggravated by means of this light: for "where much is given, much will be required; and he that knew his Lord's will, and did it not, shall be beaten with many stripes." Thus, a heathen country, committing the very same sins with a country enlightened with the gospel, is far less criminal. Thus, a country overspread with superstition, where the Bible is scarcely known, and its contents can only be viewed through a depraved and disfiguring medium-such a country, committing the very same sins, would be far less guilty than a country favoured with a pure worship, and where evangelical instruction is open to all. And does not this apply to us?
-They have told us, that when God has distinguished a people by singular instances of his favour, that people will be proportionably criminal, unless they distinguish themselves by their devotedness to him. Thus, God from time to time aggravated the sins of the Jews. "He made him ride on the high places of the earth; that he might eat the increase of the fields: and he made him to suck honey out of the rock, and oil out of the flinty rock; butter of kine, and milk of sheep with fat of lambs, and rams of the breed of Bashan, and goats, with the fat of kidneys of wheat: and thou didst drink the pure blood of the grape. But Jeshuron waxed fat, and kicked: thou art waxen fat, thou art grown thick, thou art covered with fatness: then he forsook God who made him, and
lightly esteemed the rock of his salvation. Hear, O heavens! and give ear, O earth! for the Lord hath spoken: I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me. And is not this our case?
They have told us, that when a nation is under the corrections of the Almighty, they are eminently sinful, if they disregard the tokens of his wrath, and go on careless and insensible. Hence, says Isaiah, "In that day did the Lord God of hosts call to weeping and to mourning, and to baldness, and to girding with sackcloth; and behold joy and gladness, slaying oxen, and killing sheep, eating flesh, and drinking wine: let us eat and drink: for to-morrow we shall die. And it was revealed in mine ears by the Lord of hosts, Surely this iniquity shall not be purged from you, till ye die, saith the Lord God of hosts." In like manner, says Jeremiah. "Thou hast stricken them, but they have not grieved; thou hast consumed them, but they have refused to receive correction: they have made their faces harder than a rock; they have refused to return."—And what impressions have his judgments made upon us? Have they restrained us from any of our pride and luxury? Have they reduced the number of worldly amusements; or chilled the ardour of dissipation? If a stranger were to come among us, and observe our manners, would he think we were in any distress, or had received any unfavourable omens?
They tell us to mention no more-that shamefulness in sinning is a sure proof of general corruption. And where is the man among us who is not more afraid of a threadbare coat, than of a dishonest action? To fail in business, and de
fraud innocent sufferers of their lawful property, is no longer scandalous; never excites a blush. Impurity is gloried in-and a young man, in most companies, who should profess himself virtuous, would be the subject of ridicule. Muchevery thing, depends upon the character of females. See how many of the barriers of virtue they have permitted to be removed! Behold the experiments which fashion has tried upon their reserve, their decency, their purity-See how they have adorned themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety!
If such tests prove the degree of national guilt -our guilt is great; and if sin destroy kingdoms -I say we have reason to fear.
It is not, indeed, for us to determine when the iniquity of a nation is full; and it seems that God sometimes prolongs the duration of a country for some providential purposes-They may be instruments, in his hand, of mercy or of wrath. But such a destiny does not hinder their final ruin. Though they are his instruments, they are not his favourites. He may use them, and still punish them.
There is one thing of which we hear very much, and many seem to consider it as a counterpoise to all our fears-viz.-that there are so many good people among us. Blessed be God this is true; and they certainly afford us encouragement. Ten righteous men would have saved Sodom. And God says of the Jews, "I sought for a man among them that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found none. Therefore have I poured out mine indignation upon them, I have consumed them with the fire of my
wrath; their own way have I recompensed upon their heads, saith the Lord God." Let us therefore rejoice in this encouragement-but let us rejoice with trembling. Let us remember that it is a hopeful circumstance-but that it does not absolutely ensure the salvation of a country. Let us recollect that there was a time when God used the following language to Jeremiah and Ezekiel concerning the Jews: "Therefore, pray not thou for this people, neither lift up cry nor prayer for them, neither make intercession to me: for I will not hear thee.-Then said the Lord unto me, Pray not for this people for their good.-Though Moses and Samuel stood before me, yet my mind could not be toward this people: cast them out of my sight, and let them go forth.-Though these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job were in it, they should deliver but their own souls by their righteousness, saith the Lord God." What learn we from all this, but that there are cases in the history of nations-when the divine forbearance is exhausted, and when the cries of the righteous will avail no more than those of the wicked?Were there not in Judea some of the best men that ever lived, when the Babylonians invaded and conquered them? Have there not been pious people in every Christian country when destroyed? Does God love his followers now better than formerly, when he suffered them to share in a thousand public calamities?-while he punishes his enemies, may he not correct his friends? Or cannot he indemnify them? or hide them? or deliver them? He must fulfil his word to his servants, upon which he has caused them to hope-but he is also engaged to render vengeance to his adversaries he will not clear the guilty.
"What, then, would you have us despair?" I would-if ye be resolved still to do wickedly. If we are not brought to national repentance, I would wish every individual to expect that we shall be destroyed, both we and our king. "At what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to build and to plant; if it do evil in my sight, that it obey not my voice, then I will repent of the good wherewith I said I would benefit them."
But the reverse is true. "At what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, and to pull down, and to destroy it; if that nation against whom I have pronounced, turn from their evil, I will repent of the evil that I thought to do unto them." Blessed be God for this welcome intelligence. For by this he assures us (and the scripture cannot be broken) that not only innocence and righteousness will save a country-but also repentance and reformation. O that our country may be led to make trial of this encouraging truth! Let us search and try our ways, and turn again unto the Lord. Let us "seek him while he may be found, and call upon him while he is near; for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil."
We learn, therefore, who is the worst enemy of his country-the sinner; and who is the best friend-the Christian. "By the blessing of the upright the city is exalted; but it is overthrown by the mouth of the wicked."
Let us all, therefore, seek after divine grace to renew our own souls, and to sanctify our own lives; and do all in our power to promote godliness around us. Let us endeavour to hinder all the sin we can