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S'ms, found in it, may be properly esteemed NationalSins. 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 strictly Universal; Or, when the Occasions and Circumstances of them are so Conspicuous and Flagrant, that their Rife, 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 JeremiaFs Case, in the xxvitb Chapter of his Prophecy. This Holy Man, fixed by the Spirit ofGod 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 Duty, 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 Priejts 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 Immedi. ately Apprehended the Messenger ofGod, and said unto him, Thou shalt surely die. Upon this Occasion the Princes were assembled, and strenuous Application was made to Them, that he should be condemned to Death. But when the Prosecution was so far advanced, the Prophet Asserted his Divine Mission, and under the Direction of the Holy Spirit, made an open Declaration, that, if the Government mould decree his Death, the Ruin of the Government it self must be the inevitable Consequence of that Decree; As for me, behold I am in your hand: do with me, asseemethgood and meet unto you. But know ye sr certain, that is ye put me to death, yejhallsurely.bring innocent blood upon your selves, and upon this city, and
Z z upon upon the Inhabitants thereof. And the Princes and People, more Regardful of Religion, than the False, Soothing Priests 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 Israelites, * about the matter of Korah. For when Korah, Dathan and Abiram, and two hundred and fifty Princes of the Assembly, 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
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of so Manifest and Extraordinary a Judgment; and, for this Provocation, God Immediately sent a Plague amongst them.
To the Rule of interpreting National Sins, by the General Prevalence of them, are Reducible all those Passages in the fifth Chapter of Isaiah, and other places of Holy Scripture, where the Sins of Oppression, Perverting of Judgment, Covetousness, Bribery, Drunkenness, and Luxury, are assigned as Genuine Causes of great Tribulations falling upon the Jews. And in this Class may also be found those Corruptions of God's Holy Word, which are charged, in Different Respects, both upon the People and Prophets, and given in amongst the chief Reasons of Publick Calamity. Thus are the * People warmly accused, and Keen are the Menaces annex'd to this Accusation , This is a Rebellious People, lying Children, Children that will not hear the Law of the Lord; which say to the Seers, fee not; and to the Prophets prophesy, not unto us right Things, speak.unto us smooth
Z 3 Things, Things, prophesy Deceits. The People were so far from believing stedsastly and Acquiescing intirely, as they ought to have believed and Acquiesced in Divine Truths that they were Uneasy under the very Representations of it; and that Uneasiness grew up into an utter Aversion to it; and that Aversion became so strong in them, that they Insisted upon having it intirely Concealed from them, or at least Misrepresented to them, and Deceitfully Smooth'd over, and Adapted to their Vitiated Palates, that it might Ruffle them no more, nor give them any further Distaste or Disturbance. And the Unfaithfulness of the Prophets was equal to the Impiety of the People. For * they are in various Texts describ'd as Inexcusably Violating their Duty, and Ingratiating themselves with the State, for their own Temporal Advantage, by uttering Lies and Deceit, and by concealing Necessary Truths, and by Distorting, Colouring and Disguising, Softening,