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any gross immoralities are observable in their conduct, they will wound religion like a two-edged sword; as their hearers, by a perverseness and inconsistency very natural to the licentious and profane, will look upon it as a sanction at once for despising their persons, and imitating their vices. Ministers of all denominations claim our prayers on these heads : and peculiarly those of established churches; where, as the temporal emoluments are generally greatest, there is of course more to invite unworthy persons to offer themselves to the ministry.-Nor ought we to forget, in our prayers at such seasons, those wise, learned, and pious men, whom our governors may from time to time think fit to raise to the most exalted stations among the clergy, and to invest with a dignity and authority, which though no part of their ministerial office, is capable of being improved to great advantage. It is devoutly to be wished, that they may use their great influence and power, to exclude those that are unworthy, from that important trust, as persons whom they cannot suppose to be called by the Holy Ghost to take it upon them; and that they may preside over the doctrine and be. haviour of those committed to their care, in such a manner, as may render both, most edifying to those who attend their instruction. By these pious and zealous endeavours an establishment will flourish, and separate interests decrease. But what folly and iniquity were it, so much as secretly to wish, that one limb might grow by the distemper of the body, or one coast be enriched by the wreck of the public navy!
Once more, let us on the principles on which I am now in. sisting, earnestly pray for those, who bave the care of educating youth intended for public stations. Let us pray for all the universities of Great Britain, and for more private academies and schools; which according to the manner in which they are regulated, will either be the blessing, or the calamity of our coun. try. May those, that are so trained up for one important employment or another, and especially those intended for the ministry of Christ's church, be formed to extensive knowledge, and above all, to the knowledge of the gospel! May they be regulated by proper discipline, that habits of virtue may be formed, as well as principles of science and truth imbibed! May those, to whom God has committed the high and laborious, though honourable, charge of presiding over such societies, ever remember how much they have to answer for, to God, and to their country! May they cultivate these plantations with that assiduity; may they watch over them with that caution; and I will add, may they weed them with that prudence and resolu.
s, and a gard of future which in due bitants!- An
tion, which in concurrence with those influences from above, on which all depends, may render them like a field which the Lord has blessed, and a garden which he continually cares for! There may the rising hopes of future generations flourish, and those plants be reared and spread, which in due time may beautify our land, and refresh and nourish its inhabitants !- And may God so guard our religious and civil liberties from generation to generation, that in this respect, as well as the other, the inhabitants of our favoured island May sit every man under his vine, and under his fig-tree, and have none to make him afraid*. May not the study and the arts of peace, among us at least, be interrupted by the noise of war; may not our ears hear the tumult of battle, nor our eyes see the miserable spectacles it produces ! Only by report, may we learn the success of our feets, and our armies abroad; till we at length hear, that the contention ends in a safe and honourable peace!
And let it not be misinterpreted, as unworthy a British and a christian heart, to add, let us pray for our enemies; for that haughty nation, which despises our prayers, and has treated us with so much injustice and contempt. May they be sensible of the injury they have done us, and of the affront they have, by every act of injustice and cruelty, offered to the Majesty of heaven, the Father of nations, and the Guardian of men; whose penetrating eye sees through the frauds which may cover trea. ties, and before whose tribunal those criminals must be arraigned, who are too great, or too distant, for the reach of human justice! May Spain have no reason to glory in those vain refuges, to which the idolatrous principles of their unhappy church teach them to fly! May they be disposed to give, and we to receive, all reasonable satisfaction! And oh that, if it were the will of God, their eyes might be opened to see the delusions of popery, which they support in all its darkness, and rigour, and terror! Oh that they might be so happy, as to understand the guilt of those murders, which they are committing in the injured name of the most merciful Jesus! May their princes, and their priests, see how much it is for their own interest on the whole, whatever the principles of carnal policy may dictate, to divest themselves of those spoils of innocence, and ornaments of superstition, which, gaudy as they seem, may mark them out as the objects of divine vengeance! The day will assuredly come, when The ery of the souls under the altar shall be heard t; and there is hardly a nation under heaven, that has more reason to dread it,
* Mic. iv. 4.
+ Rev, vi. 9, 10.
than that with which we are now contending : for none have been more eager, and none more resolute and inexorable, in treading out the first sparks of truth, when it began to kindle among them, and in adding the blood of the martyrs to all their other pollutions*
In what rigour that diabolical engine of mischief, the inquisition, is still established among them, you need not be told; but though its foundations are laid deep as hell, the hand of God can overthrow them. He can shake, the firmest arches of the dungeon, and lay open all that laboured artificial darkness to the full lustre of truth and the gospel. May he hasten that happy time, when he will do it; that day, when the all-uniting religion of the blessed Jesus shall exert its genuine influence, and cement the divided kingdoms, that now call themselves his church, in holy friendship and fraternal affection! that happy day, when instead of preparing the instruments, and studying the arts of destruction, They shall beat their swords into plow-shares, and their spears into pruning-hooks ; when nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any moret; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the seas! Amen.
* I doubt pot but many of my readers will know, that I here refer to what happened in Spain quickly after the reformation; which we learn particularly from Paramus, an inquisitor, and another popish writer of note, as quoted by Dr. Geddes, in the first volume of bis inestimable Tracts, page 447, & seq. viz. That the Spanish divines sent by the emperor Charles the Fifth, and his son Philip the Second, into Germany, England and Flanders, to convert the protestants in those parts to the Roman faith, were themselves converted from popery; and as they were persous of great learning and piety, returned into their native country full of zeal for its reformation; but were immediately seized by the merciless inquisition, and together with many illustrious converts, which were the first fruits of their ministry, were cruelly sacrificed on scaffolds, and at the stake. Dr. Geddes has preserved an account of some of the glorious leaders in that army of martyrs, which, short and inte complete as it is, deserves an attentive perusal. + Isa. ii. 4.
Isą. xi. 9.
SERMON III. REFLECTIONS ON THE CONDUCT OF DIVINE PROVIDENCE In the series and conclusion of the late War with France and Spain, preached
at Northampton, April 25, 1749, being the Day appointed for a General Thanksgiving.
Psalm cvii. 43.-Whosa is wise, and will observe these things, even they shall
understand the loving-kindness of the Lord.
A s almost all the nations of the earth have, from their first plantation upon it, had some forms of religion among them, though alas those forms have been too generally erroneous and superstitious, it is observable, they have had recourse to their sacred solemnities, when they have been passing from peace to war, or from war to peace. Among some of the most cele. brated of the ancients, war was proclaimed by the ministers of religion, and military expeditions were opened by devout processions and public sacrifices; whereby they seemed to appeal to their deities as witnesses of the justice of their cause, and professedly to put themselves under their protection *. And when the strife of war has ceased, pacific treaties have generally been confirmed by the sanction of mutual oaths ; and the festivities which have accompanied the conclusion of them, hare crowded the temples with worshippers, as well as the streets and houses with tokens of rejoicing. Well then may such customs prevail in christian states, where our dependance on divine providence is known to such advantage ; and most suitable is it to a Sovereign, who esteems it his honour to be called the “ Defender of the Faith,” after having so often called us together to sup. plicate the divine blessing on his arms, thus to assemble us this day to return our thanks to the great disposer of all events, for the success with which he has crowned our negotiations of peace. And surely our cheerful compliance is the more evidently reasonable, as all the successes of the war abroad, glori. ous as some of them have indeed been, were so balanced by events of a different nature, that our governors, who sing not “ te Deum” in vain, did not think it convenient to appoint one day of general thanksgiving on the account of them.
* I am persuaded, that the 149th Psalın is an ode of this kind, that was sung, when David's army was marching out to war against the remnant of the devoted nations, and first went up in solemn procession to the house of God, there as it were to consecrate the arms he put into their hands. The beds referred to, ver. 5. on which they were to sing aloud, were probably the couches on which they lay at the banquet attending their sacrifices; which gives a noble sense to a passage, on any other interpretation hardly intelligible,
As we well know divine providence to be concerned even in the minutest affairs of the animal or vegetable creation, we must certainly on the most obvious principles, acknowledge its interposition where large communities of men are in question: With relation to these it is peculiarly said, I form the light, and create darkness; I make peace, and create evil ; I the Lord do all these things *. And as a careful attention to providence is always our duty and interest, it will especially appear so in proportion to the importance of the events it produces and directs. To such reflections therefore I would this day invite you, and I know not how to do it better than in the words of the text; which are the more suitable, as the vicissitudes to which they immediately relate are evidently of a public nature; circumstances, whereby men were on the one hand blessed with prosperity and plenty, or on the other hand Diminished and brought low, through oppression, affliction, and sorrow t, by such revolutions as did not only affect numbers of private persons, but Poured contempt upon princes, and caused those that had once been distinguished, perhaps in cities, provinces, or armies, to wander forlorn in the tractless wilderness I. All these things are supposed under a moral government and superintendancy, which should at length cause The righteous to rejoice, and iniquity, how loudly soever it had for a while triumphed and insulted, to stop its mouth $, confounded and ashamed. And then it is added, whoso is wise, he will observe these things, so observe them, as to see the secret hand of God in them, even where the train of events is most natural : And they, who attend to them in this light, shall understand the loving-kindness of the Lord to them that fear him, which shall emerge gloriously out of every cloud that might seem for a while to darken it. Thus the psalm ends: And the prophecy of Hosea concludes with a passage exactly parallel to this, in which my text seems to be quoted and paraphrased : Who is wise and he shall understand these things ? Prudent, and he shall know them? For the ways of the Lord are right, and the just shall walk in them ; but the transgressors shall fall therein ll.
Perinit me then solemnly to call you this day, to make a serious pause, and to employ that recess from other business