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PREACHED ON THE PUBLIC FAST,
THE GOVERNMENT OF PENNSYLVANIA,
MAY 21, 1756.
HARDNESS OF NIART AND NEGLECT OF GOD'S MERCIFUL VISI
TATIONS, THE CERTAIN FORERUNNERS OF MORE PUBLIC
JEREMIAH viii. V.7. Yea, the stork in the heaven knoweth her appointed times,
and the turtle and the crane and the swallow observe the time of their coming, but my people know not the judgment
of the Lord. 8. How do you say, We are wise, and the law of the Lord is
with us? Lo, certainly in vain made he it; the pen of the
scribes is vain. 9. The wise men are ashamed, they are dismayed and taken; lo,
they have rejected the word of the Lord, and what wisdom is
in them? 10. Therefore will I give their wives unto others, and their fields
to them that shall inherit them. For every one, from the least even unto the greatest, is given to covetousness; from the
prophet even unto the priest, every one dealeth falsely. 11. For they have healed the hurt of the daughter of my peo
ple slightly, saying, Peace, Peace, when there is no Peace.
WE are this day called, by the authority of government, to prostrate ourselves before the almighty God, in humble confession of our manifold offences, both public and private; to implore forgiveness, and grace for amendment; to offer up our praises and thanksgivings for our deliverance from the fury of wide-spreading earthquakes; and to be. seech him in mercy to avert those other awful judgments that now hang over us, threatening the subversion of all that is near and dear to us, as Britons and as Protestants.
Rising up to address you, on such an important occasion, it will become me to speak with the utmost freedom; and I am sure you yourselves would disapprove a timid or faint execution of this day's duty. You know the condemnation of the false priests in the text, “ who healed the hurt of the daughter of God's people slightly, and cried peace, peace, when there was no peace.” You know also that the Lord hath pronounced—“ If thou speak not to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thy hands."* You have moreover heard the fate of the prophet Jonah, who vainly imagined to flee from the face of the living God, and avoid the execution of perilous duty. The very elements fought against him; the whale of the ocean vomited him back on dry ground; and there his willing feet learned to pursue his Maker's will, and never again to wander from
The explanation of duty is a weighty charge, and it becomes those who are entrusted with it, to suit themselves to times and seasons, and to try every method of making impressions in favour of God and goodness. Sometimes the Lord condescends to ma
• Ezek. chap. iii. 18.
nifest himself in peculiar acts of mercy and loving kindness; and then the hearts of men are to be won to gratitude by rapturous views of his eternal goodness. Sometimes again, he thinks fit to visit in terror and judgment, earthquakes, pestilence, famine, sword and the like; and then his servants are to forego their usual methods of address, and assume a severe and bolder note.
I would be far from multiplying judgments, or magnifying into that class what may possibly be but the common result of the natural order of things. But, on the other hand, to deny God's particular providence, and the occasional exertions of his power in an extraordinary manner, to answer extraordinary purposes in his moral dealings with free agents, would be to exclude him from the immediate government of that world which he has made.
The history of all ages may convince us that he has often interposed to over-rule particular events, both in judgment and mercy; and to you who believe his sacred word, arguments on this head would be unnecessary. I, therefore, proceed to the main business of this discourse, and therein shall pursue the following method:
First, I shall give some account of the state of the Jewish nation, with respect to those vices which drew down the judgments denounced in the text.
Secondly, I shall give some account of our own state by way of parallel, and conclude with an application of the whole to the business of the present day.
As to the vices of the Jewish nation, they are so fully and pathetically described, in the chapters, pre
ceding that of my text, by this prophet, who was one of the most zealous of God's servants, that I cannot forbear laying a few of the verses before you. I am sure, they are too plain to stand in need of a comment.
Having, in the first chapter, published his high commission, he proceeds with a noble and exalted vehemence, in the cause of his God, to expostulate with the people for their ungrateful returns to all the divine favours. He earnestly exhorts them to repent while the door of mercy was yet open, and strives to work upon them by every possible motive. In case of their compliance, he proposes to their hopes the most alluring rewards. In case of their neglect, he alarms their fears with a prospect of the most dreadful punishments.
But let us hear himself-Standing forth as the messenger of the great Jehovah, in the midst of his people, burning for their good, and deeply labouring with the vast weight of his subject, he proceeds as follows, in the adorable name of his maker
“ Then* said the Lord unto me-Out of the north an evil shall break forth upon all the inhabitants of this land; and I will utter my judgments against them touching all their wickedness, who have forsaken me.
“ Got cry in the ears of Jerusalem, saying, Thus saith the Lord, I remember the kindness of thy youth, when thou wentest after me in the wilderness, in a land that was not sown. Israel was (then) holiness unto the Lord and the first fruits of his increase.
• Chapter 1.
And what iniquity have your fathers (or you now) found in me that you are gone far from me, neither say
where is the Lord that led us through the wilderness, through a land of deserts, in which no man dwelt? I brought you into a plentiful country, to eat the fruits thereof. But, when
But, when ye entered in, ye defiled my land, and made my heritage an abomination. And the priests said not, Where is the Lord?”
Now let me plead with you, Oh my people! Pass over “ the isles of Chittim; send unto Kedar,” and all the country round about, “ and see if there be such a thing” as this. Have these “ nations changed their gods, which yet are no gods?” But my people have been more foolish still. “ They have changed their glory for that which doth not profit. Be astonished at this, O ye heavens, and be ye horribly afraid! For my people have committed two evils. They have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewn out for themselves cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.”
Now, for these iniquities of Israel, “ The young lions have roared upon him: They have made his land waste; his cities are burnt, without inhabitant. The children of Noph and Tahapanes have broken the crown of thy head. I have smitten your children, and they have received no correction. The* showers have been withholden, and there hath been no latter rain; but thou refusedst to be ashamed. Upon every high mountain, and under every green-tree, thou hast played the harlot. And yet after all these