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this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still.”
Philosophers may speculate and argue as they please. They may pretend to assign merely natural causes for all these events. But let it be remembered, that GOD ACTUATES NATURE. Nature, without God, is a word either destitute of meaning, or replete with blasphemy. Jehovah accomplishes, by natural means, the wise and holy ends of his moral government. By natural means he preserves the righteous : by natural means he punishes the guilty. “Shall there be evil in a city, and the Lord hath not done it ?" But why accumulate arguments to prove that the affliction which we deplore is not a chance, but a divine appointment? Your very appearance in the sanctuary this morning, is a public testimony of your deep conviction that so this also cometh forth from Jehovah, who is terrible in his doing toward the children of men.”
Since, then, the distresses under which we have formerly smarted, and that which now afflicts some of our citizens, and threatens more, is “the doing of the Lord,” permit me
2. To“ vindicate the ways of God to man,” by showing what righteous reasons he has for dealing with us in wrath.
We need not go far to look for causes: They are within us, and around us. We will find abundant reason to justify the divine procedure, if we advert to our ingratitude, our insincerity, our pride, our obstinacy, and the prevalence of various kinds of moral evil.
It is but too evident to any one who cursorily inspects the conduct of God to us, and our conduct to him, that we have been very ungrateful.
There is no nation under heaven for which God hath done so much in so short a time, as he hath done for America. In the season of our danger, when our hope was almost as the giving up of the ghost, and we felt ourselves unable to work out our own deliverance, we supplicated his aid. Memorable, to distant ages should be the 20th of July, 1775:* when the injured millions of America, prostrate before the throne of the Eternal, poured out their complaint, and sent their cry, to him that judgeth rightly. Jehovah heard our cry. He bowed his heavens and came down. Our armies, destitute of discipline, of arms, of ammunition, of food, of clothing, fainting with hunger, and freezing with cold, he crowned with victory the most signal and decisive, He restored peace to our borders : He blessed our commerce: He opened the windows of Heaven, and poured plenty into our dwellings : He kept us from the confusion, and
* Observed throughout the continent as a day of fasting, humiliation, and prayer; and one of the most solemn days she ever saw, VOL. I.
tumult, and miseries, of civil feuds: He has preserved us, hitherto, from being involved in the broils and bloodshed of Europe. He has sweetened all these mercies by fixing us in the 'secure enjoyment of every privilege our hearts can wish: He has given us the everlasting gospel, we trust, in its purity: and has been inviting, by the allurements of his love, to the enjoyment of his rest. But where has been our gratitude ? What have we rendered to the Lord for this profusion of benefits ? Let us appeal to the most interesting, important, and solemn business in which we have been engaged since our national existence. One would imagine that no occasion of making a pointed and public acknowledgment of the divine benignity, could have presented itself so obviously, as the framing an instrument of government which, in the nature of things, must be closely allied to our happiness or our ruin. And yet that very constitution which the singular goodness of God enabled us to establish, does not so much as recognize his being !* Yes, my brethren, it is a lamentable
* While many, on various pretenses, have criminated the federal constítution, one objection has urged itself forcibly on the pious mind. That no notice whatever should be taken of that God who planteth a nation and plucketh it up at his pleasure, is an omission which no pretext whatever can palliate. Had such a momentous business been transacted by Mahometans, they would have begun, “ In the name of God.” Even the savages whom we despise, setting a better example, would have paid some homage to the
truth: a truth, at the mention of which shame should crimson our faces; that, like Jeshurun of old, we have waxed fat and kicked. Of the Rock that begat us we have been unmindful, we have forgotten his works, and the wonders that he hath showed us.
There is a connection between crimes, as well as between graces. Never will we find, either in individuals or communities, a solitary sin. In the conduct of America, particularly, there has been a most unworthy combination. Little is necessary to prove, that if we have been ungrateful, we have also been insincere.
Who does not remember the professedly penitential tears which streamed from every eye, and the groans which burst from every heart, when the hand of the Lord lay heavy upon us.
Our rulers and public men led the way to acts of solemn devotion, and invited their fellow-citizens to join together in humbling themselves under the mighty hand of God? Who proscribed, as far as
Great Spirit. But, from the constitution of the United States, it is impossible to ascertain what God we worship; or whether we own a God at all. It is a very insufficient apology to plead, that the devo. tion which political institutions offer to the Supreme Being, is, in most cases, a matter of mere form: For the hypocrisy of one man, or set of men, is surely no excuse for the infidelity of another. Should the citizens of America be as irreligious as her constitution, we will have reason to tremble, lest the Governor of the universe, who will not be treated with indignity by a people, any more than by individuals, overturn, from its foundation, the fabric we have been rearing, and crush us to atoms in the wreck.
their authority could reach, those guilty amusements and practices which provoke the Most High to pour out his fury upon a people? Who reprobated, and exhorted others to discountenance, that seminary of vice, that corrupter of moral principle, that parent of profligacy, the theatre? Who condemned games of chance, horseracing,* and other kinds of immoral behavior ?
* To some it may appear strange that games of chance, such as cards, dice, &c., were ranked among the sins of the land. The usual pretext that they are harmless pastimes, is very flimsy, and altogether inadmissible. Independently on the odious consequences, with which they are generally connected, they are much more criminal than many are inclined to allow. It may safely be affirmed that they are palpable violations of the third precept of the decalogue. What is a name? It is a distinguishing mark. What is the name of God? It is any thing by which he makes himself known. Now he makes himself known as the God of Providence; and therefore to sport with his providence, is equivalent to sporting with his divinity. But with this all games of chance are chargeable. If the providence of God extends to the fall of a sparrow, why not to the shuffle of a card, or the cast of the dice ? But the former cannot happen without a divine appointment (Mat. xii. 10.); therefore the latter cannot. We are positively assured that “the whole disposing of the lot is from the Lord." (Prov. xvi. 33.) And all games of chance are lots. On some occasions it may not only be lawful, but a duty, to refer certain cases, by religious lot, to the decision of God's tribunal. This is a mode af acknowledging his supremacy, which he has honored with his approbation, under the dispensation both of the Old Testament and the New; and which, under the former, he expressly commanded. The religious lot, then, it is plain, is an act of worship precisely of the same kind with the religious oath. Both are solemn and direct appeals to Omniscience and Omnipotence. And games of chance bear, in every particular, the same relation to the former, which profane swearing bears to the latter; whence the conclusion, however uncomfortable, is inevitable, that if profane swearing is criminal, so are games of chance; nay, that these