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" good; when they fast, I will not hear their cry; and " when they offer burnt offerings and an oblation, I * will not accept them: but I will consume them by "the sword, and by the famine, and by the pesti“ lence!" “ Though Moses and Samuel stood before him, yet his mind could not be towards that peo"ple.” In the lesson appointed for this morning-service, * and in the chapter which precedes it, we find that Jehoshaphat having, with great zeal, diligence, and prudence, endeavoured to revive true religion, and effect reformation in his kingdom, was invaded by a vast army of the Moabites and Ammonites, with their confederates. In this emergency he proclaimed a fast, and with great fervency he aided the devotions of his people; and then led them forth to meet the enemy, with pious exhortations and songs of praise. The event was such as might have been expected: the assailants were destroyed by an extraordinary divine interposition, and the people of God were enriched by the invasion. But the prophecy of Jeremiah (and the chapter before us in particular,) gives us a different view of the same subject: and by comparing them together we may learn, that various circumstances require consideration, before we can determine whether God will or will not answer the prayers of his most eminent servants, for a guilty nation. It is probable that our land is neither in so good a state, in respect of vital godliness, as Judah was in the days of Jehoshaphat; for yet so degenerate as that nation in the time of Je
# 2 Chron. xix. 120.
remiah: we should, therefore, beware of forming too sanguine expectations of success from the one example, and of foreboding approaching desolations from the other.
In order to obtain more distinct views of this inter. esting subject, both in respect of our situation and duty, I shall apply the text to these nations and to the present occasion, in the following manner;
I. Endeavour to shew, that “our iniquities do “ indeed testify against us;"
II. Enquire what light the Scriptures afford us, by which we may judge, whether “the LORD, “ for his name's sake,” will hear our prayers for deliverance.
III. Consider what we are encouraged to expect from him, should he be graciously pleased to interpose in our favour: and,
IV. State the duties to which we ought peculiarly to attend, as means of obtaining the blessings for which we pray.
1. “Our iniquities do indeed testify against us." This may be applied to the nation, and to each of us individually: and it is doubtless true, in respect of both. Had the prophet been asked, in what particu. lars the iniquities of his people testified against them? He would, we may suppose, have recalled to their minds the abject state of their progenitors in Egypt; the manifold interpositions of God in their behalf; and
all his special favours, temporal and spiritual, to the nation, through successive ages to that very day: he would then have enumerated the multiplied evidences, which stood on record, of their ingratitude, rebellion, idolatry, atheistical forgetfulness of God; impiety, hy. pocrisy, licentiousness, iniquity, oppression, murder, and contemptuous cruelty to the servants of the LORD; with the multiplied enormities perpetrated by their princes, priests, and prophets, from age to age. * He would have proved that this load of national guilt, so long accumulating, had been exceedingly increased by the unprecedented criminality of that generation; that they had now filled up the measure of their iniquities; that the calamities, which they dreaded or experienced, were justly merited by them; that they suffered far less than they deserved; and that the only hope which re. mained for them, arose from the plenteous and everlasting mercy of their offended God.
And may not Britain be considered as the Israel of modern ages? Favoured above other nations by a kind Providence, with plenty, liberty, exemption from the dire ravages of war, and with every temporal blessing; ; we have long enjoyed, and, by many signal interpositions of heaven in our behalf, still enjoy the most distinguished advantages for becoming a wise and religious people. “What could have been done more to?? this part of “ the vineyard, that the Lord hath nat " done in it? And what have been our returns for such peculiar benefits? “O foolish people and unwise, " do you thus requite the Lord?"- Not to mention the accumulating wickedness of preceding years; is not every species of infidelity, impiety, contempt of revelation, or perversion of it, diffused rapidly through the land? Are not solemn oaths and the most sacred obligations, profanely trified with, and violated without scruple or remorse? Do not all ranks and orders of men concur in treating the name, the ordinances, the day, and the word of God, with contemptuous disregard? Do not all kinds of licentiousness and dissipation increase on every side? Is not our extensive and prosperous commerce marked, not only with avarice, fraud, and various oppressions, but with scenes of cruelty which will never be fully known, till “ the earth 6 shall disclose her blood, and shall no more cover her “ slain?" Have not these vices and impieties peryaded every order of men, however exalted or sacred? And do they not sufficiently “testify against us?” - The LORD would then be righteous, should he command the sword to pass through the land, or bring upon us the most terrible judgments that our alarmed minds can apprehend: and if he spare us, it will not be for our deserts, but "for his name's sake;" though a partial comparison of our national character with that of a people who never enjoyed the tenth part of our advantages, may deceive multitudes into a contrary opinion.
* Ezek. XX
But what is the character of each person, now assembled, that we should venture to intercede with the LORD in behalf of our guilty land? Do not our per sonal iniquitjes also testify against us? Who that kpot
the holiness of God and the spirituality of his law, can answer this question in the negative? Let us review our past lives from the beginning: and, considering every advantage of birth, education, and circumstances, as an additional obligation to the service of our Creator and Benefactor; let us compare, with serious recollection, our first thoughts, words, and actions, with his most reasonable commandments: let us proceed in this manner, as it were from stage to stage of our journey, to the present day; and let us contrast the goodness of God to us, with our ungrateful forgetfulness and neglect of him and his service - Have not we, as well as others in this guilty land, often spent the Lord's day in dissipation, festive indulgence, worldly pursuits, or criminal excesses? Have none of us violated sacramental engagements, or irreverently trifled with solemn oaths? Have we not, in many instances, taken the sacred name of God in vain? Have we not neglected and despised his ordinances, or attended upon them in a formal and hypocritical manner? Do not our mis-spent time, our abused or unimproved talents, our vain and corrupt discourse, and our aversion to pious and edifying company and conversation, bear witness against us? If we have been preserved from more flagrant immorality; can we recollect no instances in which we dishonoured, despised, or defrauded parents or superiors? or in which we infused loose principles into the minds of our companions? Have we not given way, times without number, to pride, excessive anger, or revenge, envy, calumny, deceit, or intemperate indulgence? Have we