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their eyes against the avenues of alarm; they on Judah and Israel, and those he has sent on harden their hearts against calamities by the us. We exhort you to sensibility concerning mere dint of reason, or rather by the mere in the visitations of Providence: four ministers of stinct of nature; because if seriously regarded, the God of vengeance address you with a voice some efforts would be required to avert the vi- more loud and pathetic than mine. These misitation.
nisters are, the tempests; the murrain; the But whether God afflict us in love, or strike plague; and the spirit of indifference. in wrath; whether he afflict us for instruction, The first minister of the God of vengeance is or chasten us for correction, our first duty un- the tempest. Estimate, if you are able, the deder the rod is to acknowledge the equity of his vastations made by the tempest during the last hand.
ten years; the districts they have ravaged; the Does he afflict us for the exercise of our re- vessels they have wrecked; the inundations they signation and our patience? To correspond with have occasioned; and the towns they have laid his design, we must acknowledge the equity of under water. Would you not have thought his hand. We must each say, It is true, my that the earth was about to return to its original fortune fluctuates, my credit is injured, and my chaos; that the sea had broke the bounds preprospects are frustrated; but it is the great Dis- scribed by the Creator; and that the earth had poser of all events who has assorted my lot; it ceased to be “balanced on its poles" Job is my Lord and Ruler. O God, "thy will be xxxviii. 6. done, and not mine. I was dumb, and opened The second minister of the God of vengeance, not my mouth, because it was thy doing,” Matt. exciting alarm, is the mortality of our cattle. xxvi. 39; Ps. xxxix. 9.
The mere approaches of this calamity filled us Does he afflict us in order to put our love to with terror, and became the sole subjects of conthe proof? To correspond with his design, we versation. Your sovereign appointed public must acknowledge the equity of his hand. We prayers and solemn humiliations, to avert the must learn to say, "I think that God has made scourge. Your preachers made extraordinary us a spectacle to the world, to angels, and to efforts, entreating you to enter into the design men. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, of God, who had sent it upon us. But to what we are of all men most miserable.” O God may not men become accustomed? We some" though thou slay me, yet will I trust in thee,” times wonder how they can enjoy the least rei Cor. iv. 9; xv. 19; Job xiii. 15.
pose in places where the earth often quakes; Does he afflict us in order to detach us from where its dreadful jaws open; where a black vothe world To correspond with his design, we lume of smoke obscures the light of heaven; must acknowledge the equity of his hand. It where mountains of flame, from subterranean is requisite that ihis son should die, who con caverns, rise to the highest clouds, and descend stitutes the sole enjoyment of our life; it is re- in liquid rivers on houses, and on whole towns. quisite that we should feel the anguish of the Let us seek in ourselves the solution of a diffidisease to which we are exposed; it is requisite culty suggested by the insensibility of others. this health should fail, without which the asso- We are capable of accustoming ourselves to any ciation of every pleasure is insipid and obtrusive, thing. Were we to judge of the impressions that we may learn to place our happiness in the future judgments would produce by the effects world to come, and not establish our hopes in produced by those God has already sent, we this valley of tears.
should harden our hearts against both pestilence Does he afflict us to make manifest the enor- and famine; we should attend concerts, though mity of vice? To correspond with his design, the streets were thronged with the groans of we must acknowledge the equity of his hand. dying men, and join the public games in preWe must acknowledge the horrors of the ob- sence of the destroying angel sent to extermijects our passions had painted with such be- nate the nation. guiling tints. Amid the anguish consequent on The third minister of God's vengeance, excrimes, we must put the question to ourselves citing us to sensibility, is the plague, which rawhich St. Paul put to the Romans; “What vages a neighbouring kingdom. Your provinces fruits had you then in those things, whereof you do not subsist of themselves; they have an intiare now ashamed? For the end of those things mate relation with all the states of Europe. is death.” Sensibility of the strokes God has And such is the nature of their constitution, already inflicted by his rod, was the first dis- that they not only suffer from the prosperity, position of mind which Micah in his day, re- but even from the adversity, of their eneinies. quired of the Jews.
But what do I say? from their enemies! The If you ask what those strokes were with which people whom God has now visited with this God afflicted the Israelites, it is not easy to give awful scourge, are not our enemies; they are you satisfaction. The correctest researches of our allies; they are our brethren; they are our chronology do not mark the exact period in fellow-countrymen. The people on whom God which Micah delivered the words of my text. has laid his hand in so terrible a manner, is the We know only that he exercised his ministry kingdom which gave some of us birth, and under three kings, under Jotham, under Abaz, which still contains persons to whom we are under Hezekiah; and that under each of these united by the tenderest ties. Every stroke this kings, God afflicted the kingdom of Judah, and kingdom receives, recoils on ourselves, and it of Israel with severe strokes.—And the solem- cannot fall without involving us in its ruins. nities of the present day excuse me from the The fourth minister of the God of vengeance, laws, binding to a commentator, of illustrating which calls for consideration, is the spirit of a text in all the original views of the author. slumber. It would seem that God had desigWe must neither divert our feelings nor divide nated our own hands to be our own ruin. It our attention, between the calamities God sent I would seem that he had given a demon from
the depths of hell a commission like that granted transient satisfaction; but a state of violence to the spirit mentioned in the first Book of cannot be permanent. Each passion offers vioKings. "The Lord said, who shall persuade lence to some faculty of the soul, to which that Ahab that he may go up and fall at Ramoth- faculty is abandoned. The happiness procured Gilead? And there came forth a spirit, and said, I by the passions is founded on mistake: the moI will persuade him. And the Lord said, Yea, ment the soul recovers recollection, the happithou shalt persuade him, and prevail,” xxii. 20. ness occasioned by error is dissipated. The 22. Yea, a spirit who has sworn the overthrow happiness ascribed to avarice is grounded on of our families, the ruin of our arts and manu- the same mistake: it is couched in this princifactures, the destruction of our commerce, and ple, that gold and silver are the true riches: the loss of our credit, this spirit has fascinated and the moment that the soul which establishus all. He seizes the great and the small, the ed its happiness on a false principle becomes court and the city. But I abridge my intentions enlightened; the moment it investigates the on this subject; I yield to the reasons which for- numerous cases in which riches are not only bid my extending to farther detail. To feel the useless, but destructive, it loses the happiness strokes of God's hand, is most assuredly the first founded on mistake. We may reason in the duty he requires. Hear ye the rod, and who same manner concerning the other passions. hath appointed it.”
There is then in the soul of every man a harII. This rod requires us, secondly, to trace mony between happiness and virtue, misery the causes and the origin of our calamities. and crime. Micah wished the Jews to comprehend that 2. This harmony is equally found in the the miseries under which they groaned were a great circles of national society. I am not consequence of their crimes. We would wish wholly unacquainted with the maxims which you to form the same judgment of yours. But a false polity would advance on the subject. I here the subject has its difficulties. Under a am not ignorant of what Hobbes, Machiavel, pretence of entering into the spirit of humilia- and their disciples, ancient and modern, bave tion, there is danger of our falling into the said. And I frankly confess, that I feel the puerilities of superstition. Few subjects are force of the difficulties opposed to this general more fertile in erroneous conclusions than this thesis, of the happiness of nations being insepasubject. Temporal prosperity and adversity rable from their innocence. But notwithstandare very equivocal marks of the favour and dis- ing all the difficulties of which the thesis is pleasure of God. If some men are so wilfully susceptible, I think myself able to maintain, blind as not to see that a particular dispensa- and prove, that all public happiness founded tion of Providence is productive of certain pun- on crime, is like the happiness of the individual ishments, there are others who fancy that they just described. It is a state of violence, which every where see a particular providence. The cannot be permanent. From the sources of commonest occurrences, however closely con- those same vices on which a criminal polity nected with secondary causes, seem to them would found the happiness of the state, prothe result of an extraordinary counsel in him ceeds a long train of calamities which are eviwho holds the helm of the world. The slight- dently productive of total ruin. est adversity they regard as a stroke of his an Without encumbering ourselves with these gry arm. Generally speaking, we should al. discussions, without reviving this controversy, ways recollect that the conduct of Providence the better to keep in view the grand objects is involved in clouds and darkness. We should of the day, I affirm, that the calamilies under form the criterion of our guilt or innocence not which we groan are the necessary consequence by the exterior prosperity or adversity sent of of our crimes; and in such sort, that though God, but by our obedience or disobedience to there were no God of vengeance who holds the his word; and we should habituate ourselves to helm of the universe, no judge ready to exesee, without surprise in this world, the wicked cute justice, our degeneracy into every vice prosperous, and the righteous afflicted.
would suffice to involve our country in misery. But notwithstanding the obscurity in which Under what evils do we now groan? Is it it has pleased God to involve bis ways, there because our name is less respected? Is it beare cases, in which we cannot without impiety cause our credit is less established? Is it berefiise assent, that adversity is increased by cause our armies are less formidable? Is it becrimes. It is peculiarly apparent in two cases: cause our union is less compact But whence first, when there is a natural connexion between do these calamities proceed? Are they the the crimes you have comunitted, and the ca- mysteries of "a God, who hideth himself?" lamities we suffer: the second is, when the great Are they strokes inflicted by an invisible hand? calamities immediately follow the perpetration Or are they the natural effects and consequenof enorinous crimes. Let us explain: ces of our crimes? Does it require miracles to
First, we cannot doubt that punishment is a produce them? If so, miracles would be requiconsequence of crime, when there is an essen site to prevent them. Men of genius, protial tie between the crime we have committed, found statesmen, you who send us to our books, and the calamity we suffer. One of the finest and to the dust of our closets, when we talk proofs of the holiness of the God, to whom all of Providence, and of plagues inflicted by an creatures owe their preservation and being, is avenging God, I summon your speculation and derived from the harmony he has placed be- superior information to this one point; "our tween happiness and virtue. Trace this bar- destruction is of ourselves:” and the Judge of mony in the circles of society, and in private the universe has no need to punish our crimes life.' 1. In private life. An enlightened mind but by our crimes. can find no solid happiness but in the exercise I have said, in the second place, that great of virtue. The passions may indeed excite a I calamities following great crimes, ought to be
regarded as their punishment. And shall we , with which we are struck, is to develop their refuse, in this day of humiliation, ascribing to consequences and connexions. Some calamithis awful cause the strokes with which we are ties are less formidable in themselves than in afflicted? Cast your eyes for a moment on the the awful consequences they produce. There nature of the crimes which reproach these pro- are “deeps which call unto deeps at the noise vinces. All nations have their vices, and vices of God's water-spouts,” Ps. xlii. 8; and to sum in which they resemble one another; all nations up all in one word, there are calamities whose afford the justest cause for reprehension. Read distinguished characteristic is to be the forethe various books of morality; consult the ser runners of calamities still more terrible. Such mons delivered among the most enlightened was the character of those inflicted on the kingnations, and you will every where see that the dom of Judah and of Israel in Micah's time, as great are proud, the poor impatient, the aged is awfully proved by the ruin of both. covetous, the young voluptuous, and so of Is this the idea we should form of the plagues every class. Meanwhile all sorts of vice have with which we are struck? Never was question not a resemblance. Weigh a passage in Deu- more serious and interesting, my brethren; and, teronomy in which you will tind a distinction at the same tiine, never was question more delibetween sin and sin, and a distinction worthy cate and difficult. Do not fear, that forgetting of peculiar regard. “Their spot,” says Moses, the limits with which it has pleased God to “is not the spot of the children of God,” xxxii. circumscribe our knowledge, we are about with 5. There is then a spot of the children of God, a profane hand to raise the veil which conceals and a spot which is not of his children. There futurity, and pronounce with temerity awful are infirmities found among a people dear to predictions on the destiny of these provinces. God, and there are defects incompatible with We shall merely mark the signs by which the his people. To receive the sacrament of the prophet would have the ancient people to unEucharist, but not with all the veneration re- derstand, that the plagues God had already inquired by so august a mystery; to celebrate flicted were but harbingers of those about to days of humiliation, but not with all the deep follow. Supply by your own reflections, the repentance we should bring to these solemni- cautious silence we shall observe on this subties; these are great spots; but they are spots ject: examine attentively what connexion may common to the children of God. To fall, exist between calamities we now suffer, and however, as the ancient Israelites, whose eyes those which made the ancient Jews expect a were still struck with the miracles wrought on total overthrow. And those signs of an imtheir leaving Egypt; "to change the glory of pending calamity are less alarming in themGod into the similitude of an ox that eateth selves, than the dispositions of the people on grass; and to raise a profane shout. These be whom they are inflicted. thy gods, O Israel, which have brought thee 1. One calamity is the forerunner of a greatup out of the land of Egypt," is a spot, but er, when the people whom God afflicts have not “the spot of the children of God,'' Exod. recourse to second causes instead of the first xxxii. 8.
cause; and when they seek the redress of their Now, my brethren, can you cast your eyes calamilies in political resources, and not in reon these provinces, without recognising a num- ligion. This is the portrait which Isaiah gives ber of sins of the latter class. In some fami- of Sennacherib's firsi expedition against Judea. lies, the education of youth is so astonishingly The prophet recites it in the twenty-second neglected, that we see parents training up their chapter of his book. “He discovered the co-. children for the first offices of the republic, for vering of Judah, and thou didst look in that offices which decide the honour, the fortune, day to the armour of the house of the forest. and the lives of men, without so much as initi- | Ye have seen also the breaches of the city of ating them into the sciences, essentially requi. David, that they are many: and ye gathered sile for the adequate discharge of professional together the waters of the lower pool. And duties. Profaneness is so prevalent, and indif- ye have numbered the house of Jerusalem, and ference for the homage we pay to God is so ihe houses have ye broken down to fortify the awful, that we see people passing whole years wall. Ye made also a ditch between the two without ever entering our sanctuaries; me- walls, for the water of the old pool; but ye chanics publicly follow their labour on the sab-have not looked unto the Maker thereof, neibath; women in the polished circles of society ther have ye had respect unto him that fachoose the hour of our worship to pay their shioned it long ago. And in that day did the visits, and expose card-tables, if I may so speak, Lord God of Hosts call to weeping and to in the sight of our altars. Infidelity is so rife, mourning, and to plucking of the hair, and to that the presses groan with works to immorta- girding with sackcloth. And behold, joy and lize blasphemies against the being of God, and gladness, slaying oxen and killing sheep, eating to sap the foundation of public morals. How flesh, and drinking wine: let us eat and drink easy would it be to swell this catalogue! My for to-morrow we shall die. And it was rebrethren, on a subject so awful, let us not de- vealed in mine ears by the Lord of Hosts, sureceive ourselves; these are not the spols of the ly this iniquity shall not be purged from you." children of God; they are the very crimes It belongs to you to make the application of which bring upon nations, the malediction of this passage; it belongs to you to inquire what God, and which soon or late occasion their to- resemblance our present conduct may have to tal overthrow.
that of the Jews in a similar situation. WheIII. To feel the calamities under which we ther it is to the first cause you have had renow groan, and to trace their origin is not course for the removal of your calamities, or enough: we must anticipate the future: the whether you have solely adhered to second third sort of regard required for the strokes I causes? whether it is the maxims of religion
you have consulted, or the maxims of policy? | this is a subject already decided rather than a whether it is a barrier you have pretended io question of investigation. put to the war, to the pestilence, and famine; 4. Not wishful to multiply remarks, but to or whether you have put one to injustice, to comprise the whole in a single thought, one hatred, to fornication, and to fraud, the causes plague is the forerunner of greater plagues of those calamities!
when it fails in producing the reformation of 2. One calamity is the forerunner of great those manners it was sent to chastise. Weigh er calamities, when instead of humiliation on those awful words in the twenty-sixth chapter the reception of the warnings God sends by of Leviticus. “If ye will not hearken unto his servants, we turn those warnings into con- me, but walk contrary unto me; then I will tempt. By this sign, the author of the second walk contrary also unto you in fury; and I, Book of Chronicles wished the Jews to under- even I, will chastise you seven times for your stand that their impiety had attained its height. sins.” The force of these words depends on “The Lord God of their fathers sent unto those which proceed. We there find a gradathem by his messengers, rising up betimes and tion of calamities whose highest period extends sending; because he had compassion on his to the total destruction of the people against people: but they mocked the messengers of whom they were denounced. "If you will God; they despised his word, and misused his not hearken," Moses had said in behalf of prophets, until the wrath of the Lord arose God, verse 14, “I will even appoint over you against his people, so that there was no re- terror, the consumption, and the burning ague, medy,” xxxvii. 15, 16.
that shall consume the eyes, and cause sorrow My brethren, it is your duty to inquire how of heart. And I will set my face against you, far you are affected by this doctrine. It is and ye shall be slain before your enemies: your duty to examine whether your present they that hate you shall reign over you, and desolating calamities are characterized as har- ye shall fee when none pursueth you." Imbingers of greater evils. Do you discover a mediately he adds, “ If ye will not for all this teachable disposition towards the messengers hearken," and these words occur at the eighof God who would open your eyes to see the teenth verse, “ If ye will not yet for all this effects of his indignation; or, do you revolt hearken unto me, then will I punish you seven against their word? Do you love to be re- times more for your sins. And I will break proved and corrected, or do you resemble the the pride of your power; and I will make your incorrigible man of whom the prophel says, heaven as iron, and your earth as brass. And " thou hatest instruction," Ps. 1. 17. What a if ye walk contrary to me, I will bring seven humiliating subject, my brethren, what an aw- times more plagues upon you according to ful touchstone of our misery!
your sins. And I will send the wild beast 3. One calamity is the forerunner of great- against you, and they shall rob you of your er calamities, when the anguish it excites pro- children, and make you few in number, and ceeds more from the loss of our perishable your highways shall be desolate." Then he riches than from sentiments of the insults of denounces a new train of calamities, after fered to God. This sign, the prophet Hosea which the words I have cited immediately folgave to the inhabitants of Samaria, " Though low. “ If ye will not be reformed by all these I have redeemed them,” says he, speaking for things, but will walk contrary unto me, then God," they have not cried unto me with their will I also walk contrary unto you in fury, and heart, when they howled upon their beds.” will punish you yet seven times for your sins. It was for corn and wine, that they cut them- And ye shall eat the flesh of your sons, and selves when they assembled together; or as the flesh of your daughters. And I will demight be better rendered, when they assem- stroy your high places, and cut down your bled for devotion.* Examine again, or rather images, and cast your carcase upon the carcacensure a subject which presents the mind with ses of your idols. And I will make your cities a question less for inquiry than for the admis- waste, and bring your sanctuary unto desolasion of a fact already decided. We would in- tion.” terrupt our business; we would suspend our Make, my brethren, the most serious reflecpleasures; we would shed our tears; we would tions on these words of God to his ancient celebrate fasts on the recollection of our people. If in the strictest sense, they are incrimes, provided we could be assured that applicable to you, it is because your present caGod would remit the punishment We“cut lamities require less than sevenfold more to efourselves; we assemble to-day for wine and fectuate your total extermination. Do I exag. wheat;” because commerce is obstructed; be- gerate the subject Are your sea-banks able cause our repose is interrupted in defiance of lo sustain sevenfold greater shocks than they precaution; because the thunderbolts fallen on have already received? Are your cattle able the beads of our neighbours threaten us, and to sustain sevenfold heavier strokes? Is your our friends, our brethren, and our children; or commerce able to sustain a sevenfold greater is it because that those paternal regards of depression: Is there then so wide a distance God are obscured, which should constitute our between your present calamities, and your highest felicity, and all our joys? I say again, total ruin:
IV. Let us proceed to other subjects. Hi* The original word is so translated in the French bi- therto, my dear brethren, we have endeavourbles, Ps. Ivi. 7; lix. 4. The French version, in regard to ed to open your eyes, and fix then steadfastly the former phrase, They cut themselves, seems to harmoon dark and afflictive objects; we have solicinize better with the scope of the passage than the English ted your attention but for bitter reproaches, strengthened their arms, meaning their wounded arms. and terrific menaces. We have sought the way
to your hearts, but to excite terror and alarm. | ter's house; see him mar, and form his vessels The close of this day's devotion shall be more anew, giving them a form according to his conformable to prayers we offer for you, to the pleasure.” Behold, as the clay is in the potgoodness of the God we worship, and to the ter's hand, so are ye in my hand, O house of character of our ministry. We will no longer Israel. At what instant I shall speak concernopen your eyes but to fix them on objects of ing a nation, and concerning a kingdom to consolation; we will no longer solicit your at- pluck up, and pull down, and to destroy it; if tention to hear predictions of misery: we will that nation against whom I have pronounced, seek access to your hearts solely to augment turn from their evil, I will repent of the evil your peace and consolation. “Hear the rod, that I thought to do unto them.” The founand who hath appointed it;” and amid the dation of these hopes is stronger than all that whole of your calamities, know what are your we can ask. resources, and what are your hopes. This is In particular, we found our hope on the love our fourth part.
which God has uniformly cherished for this One of the most notorious crimes of which republic. Has not God established it by a sea nation can be guilty when Heaven calls ries of miracles, and has he not preserved it them to repentance, is that charged on the by a series of miracles still greater? Has he Jews in Jeremiah's time. The circumstance not at all times surrounded it as with a wall of is remarkable. It occurs in the sixteenth fire, and been himself the buckler on the most chapter of this prophet's revelations. His pressing occasions. Has he not inverted the mission was on the eve of their approaching laws of nature, and of the elements for its ruin: its object was to save by fear the men defence? whom a long course of prosperity could not We found our hopes on the abundant merinstruct. He discharged those high duties cies with which God has loaded us during the with the firmness and magnanimity which the time of visitation. With the one band he grandeur of God was calculated to inspire, abases, with the other he exalts. With the one whose minister he had the glory to be. “Be- hand he brings the pestilence to our gates, and cause your fathers have forsaken me," he said with the other be obstructs it from entering; in the name of the Lord, “and have walked from desolating our cities, and attacking our after other gods, and have served them, and persons. have worshipped before them; and because ye We found our hope on the resources he has have done worse than your fathers, therefore still left the state to recover, and to re-estabwill I cast you out of this land, into a land lish itself in all the extent of its glory and which neither ye, nor your fathers know," prosperity. We found our hopes also on the ver. 11-13.
solemnities of this day; on the abundance of Lest the apprehension of ruin without re tears which will be shed in the presence of source should drive them to despair, God God, on the many prayers which will be offerinade to Jeremiah a farther communication; heed to heaven, and on the numerous purposes honoured him with a vision saying, “ Arise, of conversion, which will be formed. Frusand go down to the potter's house, and there trate not these hopes by a superficial devotion, I will cause thee to hear my words.” The by forgetfulness of promises, and violation of prophet obeyed; he went to the potter's house; vows. Your happiness
in your own hands. the workman was busy at the wheel. He “Return ye now every one from his evil way, formed a vase, which was marred in his hand; and amend your doings.” Here is the law, he inade it anew, and gave it a form according here is the condition. This law is general; this to his pleasure. This emblem God explained condition concerns you all. to the prophet, saying, Go, and speak these Yes, this law concerns you; this condition is words to the house of Israel. "O house of imposed on all. High and mighty lords: it is Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter required of you this day to lay a new foundasaith the Lord. Behold as the clay is in the tion for the security of this people: Return ye polter's hand, so are ye in my hand, 0 house then, my lords, from your evil ways and be of Israel. At what instant I shall speak con i converted. In vain shall you have proclaimed cerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom a fast, if you set not the fairest example of deto pluck up, and to pull down, and to destroy cency in its celebration. In vain shall you it: if that nation against whom I have pro- have commanded pastors to preach against the nounced, turn from their evil, I will repent of corruption which predominates among us, if the evil that I thought to do unto them. Re- you lend not an arm to suppress it; if you sufturn ye now every one from his evil way, and fer profaneness and infidelity to lift their head amend your ways.” What effects might not with impunity; if you suffer the laws of chasthis mission have produced? But the incorri- tity to be violated in the face of the sun, and gible depravity of the people was proof against houses of infamy to be open as those of temthis additional overture of grace; those abomi- ples consecrated to the glory of God; if you nable men, deriving arguments of obduracy suffer public routs and sports to subsist in all even from the desperate situation of their na- their fury; if you abandon the reins to mamtion, replied to the prophet, “ There is no hope, mon, to establish its maxims, and communiwe will walk after our own devices, and we cate its poison, if possible, to all our towns and will every one do the imagination of his evil provinces. Have compassion, then, on the caneart,” xviii. 1-12.
lamities of our country. Be impressed with Revolting at those awful dispositions, we its sighs. Place her under the immediate proare, my brethren, invested with the same com- tection of Almighty God. May he deign, in mission as Jeremiah. God has said to us as clothing you with his grandeur and power, to well as to this prophet, “Go down to the pot-I clothe you also with holiness and equity. May