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are fuch Horrid Monuments of God's Indignation against Popular Impurity, that, furely, the most Intrepid, or the most Lethargick Man alive, cannot tum his Eyes towards them, without Shivering and Shrinking under the very First appearance of them. And, left the Peculiar, Aggravating, Monstrous Circumftance of that Sin, in those wretched Pea ple, should be groundlessly esteemed the Only Cause of the Dangers and Deftru&tion proceeding from it; the Holy Spirit hath given us Plain and Ample Testimo nies, that when the Sin; though not attended with That Circumstance, prevails Epidemically, 'tis Fatal and Destructive to the Publick; A remarkable Instance whereof I shall have occasion of mentioning Below.
Indeed 'tis not to be doubted, but that, after all the Bulwarks, which are, or can be raised in the Defence of Virtue, there may be, under any Government, a great many vicious Perfons, who can find means of creeping through the most Compacted Bounds and Restraints put upon them, and of managing some
E Heinous Offences, so Dextrously and SucF! cessfully, as to steal on, Uninterrupted
and Undiscover’d, to the Accomplish
ment of their own Perdition; And yet, e in the Judgment of God, They may not er perhaps be found of Weight enough, to
Sink the Community, together with Them3 felves. For it seems Evident, from the I Holy Scripture, that National Guilt, and
the Consequent Obnoxiousness to Nati
onal Punishment, can only Then be justly LP assign’d and Imputed to a People, Either, * when there are such Varieties and Com
plications of Wickedness in it, that the Omniscient God, who at once Distinctly knows the Qualities and Conditions of every Individual Person, does look upon the Kingdom as Immersed in a State of Universal Depravity, such as the Holy Spirit represents in the First Chapter of Isaiah: Where 'tis said of the Jews, Ah Sinful Nation, a People laden with iniquity; the whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint: from the sole of the foot even unto the head, there is no foundness in it; but wounds and bruises and putrifying fores; Or, when Particular
Sins, found in it, may be properly esteemed National Sins. And Then may Particular Sins be accounted National, and therefore the Causes of National Misery, Either, when they have the Direct Sanction of Publick Authority; Or, when They are Unanimously espoused and embraced by the Society, though they have no Formal Sanction from Publick Authority; Or, when the Contagion and Prevalence of Them amongst the People is become General, though not striály Universal; Or, when the Occasions and Circumstances of them are so Conspicuous and Flagrant, that their Rise, or Progress, or Continuance may be properly imputed to the Concurrence, or Approbation, or Connivence of the State. • Under the First of these Observations may be ranged the Description and the Decision of Jeremiah's Case, in the xxvith Chapter of his Prophecy. This Holy Man, fixed by the Spirit of God in an Elevation of Soul, far above the Reach or Influence of all Worldly Hopes and Fears, being Faithful to God, and Faithful to his Country, in the Discharge of his Du
ty, ty, Honestly and Plainly denounced, as God required him, that if his Country would not be obedient, it must be A Curse, and Desolate without Inhabitant; Whereupon, the People and the Priests and the Prophets took so Unjust and Unhappy a Turn of Thought, were so Incensed by this Message from Heaven, instead of being Obsequious to it, that they Immediately Apprehended the Messenger of God,
and said unto him, Thou shalt surely die. 5 Upon this Occasion the Princes were af
sembled, and strenuous Application was o made to Them, that he should be consi demned to Death. But when the Prose* cution was so far advanced, the Prophet C! Asserted his Divine Mission, and under 3 the Direction of the Holy Spirit, made an 0 open Declaration, that, if the Governmayment should decree his Death, the Ruin e of the Government it felf must be the 1 inevitable Consequence of that Decree; D As for me, behold I am in your hand: do late with me, as seemeth good and meet unto you.
But know ye for certain, that if ye put me e to death, gje shall surely.bring innocent blood kes upon your selves, and upon this city, and
upon the Inhabitants thereof. And the Princes and People, more Regardful of Religion, than the False, Soothing Prieji and Prophets, acquitted Jeremiah, and ! saved the Community from the Imputation of National Guilt, and the Infliction of National Punishment.
To the Next of these Rules of Interpreting National Sins may be Reduced that Memorable Instance of Murmuring which prevailed amongst the Ifraelites, * about the matter of Korah. For when Korah, Dathan and Abiram, and two hundied and fifty Princes of the Asembly, famous in the congregation, men of Renown, had most Insolently Opposed and Violated God's Positive Institutions of Sacred Things, and not only Perished in the Attempt, but Perished under the most Astonishing Circumstances of Death; This Great Event was so far from making Useful and Lasting Impressions upon the People, that, the very Next day, they adventured to Joyn, with Universal consent, in Expressing an Angry Resentment
* Numb. xvi.