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- of fo Manifest and Extraordinary a Judg
ment; and, for this Provocation, God Im5 mediately sent a Plague amongst them.
To the Rule of interpreting National - Sins, by the General Prevalence of them, 3. are Reducible all those Passages in the
fifth Chapter of Isaiah, and other places of Holy Scripture, where the Sins of Oppresion, 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 bear the Law of the Lord; which say to the Seers, see not; and to the Prophets prophesy. not unto us right Things, Speak unto us fmooth
* Ifa. xxx. 8, &c. ' . . Z 3
Things, prophesy Deceits. The People were so far from believing stedfastly and Acquiescing intirely, as they ought to have believed and Acquiesced in Divine Truth, 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 Infifted 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,
. * Comp. Jer. V. 31. Ch. xiv. 14, 15, 16, 17. xxiii. 14, . 15, 66. xxvii. 9, 18, xxviii. Ezek. xxii. 25-28.
Smoothing and Defacing the Word of God, just as the People would have them. So closely were the People and the Prophets combined in Provoking God's Indignation against them, by putting the Highest Indignity and Contempt upon the Excellency and Authority of Divine Truth.
Under the last Rule of Interpreting National Wickedness, which relates to the Approbation or Connivence of the Government, may be brought a Signal Instance out of the Fifth Chapter of Jeremiab; wherein we find Miseries denounced against the Jews, under these Emphatical expressions; Shall I not visit for these things? faith the Lord: and shall not my Soul be avenged on such a Nation as this? And ’tis a Principal Article in the Previous charge drawn against them, a Principal Reason of the Visitation and Vengeance thus denounced, that they assembled themselves by Troops in the Harlots Houses. And can there be a
stronger Evidence than is here given, • that a Kingdom, wherein the Spirit of
Piety and Virtue is sunk so wretchedly : .. Z 4
Low, that it can Patiently suffer the great Fences of Modesty to be Publickly thrown down, and Debauchery to make a: Notorious Inrode into Troops and full Assemblies, is the Just Object of Divine Vengeance, and must either be Reformed, or expect to be Destroy
I shall add but One instance more, for the Proof and Illustration of the First Propofition; but 'tis an Instance, wherein all the Rules of Measuring and Determining National Wickedness do seem to Center and Unite. And this Flaming Instance is the Condemnation and Crucifixion of our Blessed Saviour; concerning which 'tis to be observed, that as No Nation ever was, or can be Guilty of Wickedness Equal to it, so no Na-' tion ever Fell under the Weight of Calamities, equal to Those which were the Consequence of it, * Great tribulation, such as was not, since the beginning of the World to this Time; no, nor ever shall be.
To the Consideration of the Terrible Effects, which National Wickedness brings • * Matt. xxiv. 21.
upon the Community, may be added the consideration of Those, which are derived from the same Fountain upon the Prince himself. And these are observable under the · II. Proposition implied in the Text, namely, That the Wickedness of a People is a Just cause of the Sufferings of their Prince.
The Destruction, here denounced against the King, bears no Manner of Relation to his own Personal Qualities or Demeanour; but is represented as the Pure Effect, under God's Judgment, of Wickedness prevailing among the People. And the Reasons of such a Divine Dispensation are not so Obscure and Abstruse, but that they may Easily be recollected and set in a clear Light; nor are the Principal ones fo many, but that they may be brought within a very Narrow Compass of Illustration. And a much Narrower Compass still would be sufficient to contain all Instances of this Dispensation, which are recorded in the History of the Jews. For, notwithstanding their Wonderful and Un