Imatges de pàgina
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them as must be highly serviceable to us with regard to our own conduct: we see every thing was ordered and directed by the will of the supreme Creator, and therefore every thing was done right; the priest exhorts, the people repent; the priest gives advice, the people at. tend to it.

It is worth our while to remark in the ensuing part of this chapter the consequences of this behaviour: we shall there find, that the moment the Israelites began to repent and amend, the Lord was gracious to them; as soon as they left their false gods, they found favour with the true; when they returned to virtue, their affairs immediately put on a more chearful aspect; the Philistines, those proud and triumphant foes, who had been the instru. ments of God's wrath, and therefore had fo easily discomfited them, when the Most High went forth with their armies, were no longer able to contend with the favourites of the Almighty. After Samuel's sacrifice and intercef fion, another battle was fought between them, when a peal of thunder ftruck the Philistines with consternation, threw their forces into confusion, and they in their turn were smitten before Ifrael.

In the remainder of this discourse I shall endeavour to point out to you the most striking fimilitude of features between the children of Israel and the inhabitants of this land, with regard to our situation and circumstances at this important period : from whence I shall draw

such

such useful inferences as may best tend to guide and direct our future conduct.

And first, then, give me leave to observe, that the most striking resemblance between the Israelites and ourselves, is in our lives. We have been, like them, a thoughtless, wicked, and ungrateful people; like them, we had been for ages, as it were, the elect of God, the favourites of the Almighty, bleft with peace, liberty and plenty, in a land flowing with milk and honey; and yet, in the midst of all, improperly forgetting the Author of these inestimable benefits. As the Israelites turned into Baalim, and Ashtaroth, and strange gods, even so have we been slaves to our own corrupt affections, neglectful of our own interests, and destroyers of our own happiness.

As we have resembled them thus nearly in our lives and manners, it was naturally to be expected that the same cause would produce the same effect, and that we should resemble them in our miseries and afflictions also.. God, though a God of mercy and longsuffering, would not thus be provoked every day, but rose at last to vindicate his own injured honour; he kindled up, therefore, against us an enemy, of whom but a few years since we had not the least fear or apprehenfion; he hardened the hearts and turned aside the affec. tions of those who were before united to us in the stricteft bonds of love and amity.

War is indisputably amongst the most dreadful evils that can afflict a nation; it is one of those scourges with which God chastises his finful and rebellious creatures; an instrument of

vengeance

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vengeance in the hands of the Almighty, wherewith he punishes the grievous fins and offences from time to time committed against him

If there be a circumstance that can render this destructive tyrant still more formidable, that can enhance his severity and double his terrors, it is doubtless that calamity in which we are ourselves at this period so unhappily involved; it is the melancholy consideration that we are opposing those with whom we have been so long and so intimately united; carrying our arms against those whom we have fo long loved, cherished, and protected; that those who were once the objects of our esteem, tenderness, and affection, are now become the mark to which are bent all our hoftile

prepa. rations.

But enough hată been already said and written on this unhappy conteft: that we can now do, and all that suits this folemn occasion, is to lament those evils which we could not fore. see, and to weep over those misfortunes which we can no longer prevent; to be sorry for those fins which brought upon us so heavy a calamity, and to endeavour, by our sincere repentance of them, to turn aside the dreadful consequences of them.

How happy might we still be, if these wounds, wide and painful as they are, could yet be healed; if yet we and they might be brought to know the things that are for our peace: but the evil spirit hath taken poffeffion of them, as it did of Saul; but they will not, like him, be foothed hy the power of harmony; they will not listen to the harp of peace or hear the

voice of the charmer, charm she never fo wisely.

Encouraged by the obstinacy of these men, and animated by their success against us, our ancient and determined foe, ever ready to take advantage of our weakness, at length threw off the mask of friendship, which she had been long forced to wear, and stood forth as our avowed enemy. But a short time elapsed, before ano. ther power, equally false and perfidious with the first, infatuated by evil counsels, contracted also an unnatural alliance with our rebellious colonies, and combined against us.

With this accumulated weight to press upon her, it is no wonder that the British empire seemed for a while to fink beneath the burthen. Oppressed on every fide, we knew not which way to turn our face. This uncertainty, and this oppression, brought on a series of unfortunate events, which had well nigh funk us in ignominy and ruin; from a powerful and res. pected, we seemed degenerated into a friend. less and despised people, a laughing-stock and derision to those who had no knowledge of

our laws.

But even this dangerous and destructive evil hath, by the gracious providence of God, been productive of benefit and advantage to us: That fatal union which took place against us abroad, hath brought on what we much stood in need of, a more domestic union at home; public danger hath begotten public fpirit; we Teem at last to be roused from our lethargy, to have shaken off the fetters of party, prejudice and faction, and to have taken up the com

mon

mon cause with some degree of true British fpirit and alacrity.

In consequence of this happy change, our plans have lately been attended with some fuccess; the justice of our cause feems, in spite of our many fins and iniquities, to have engaged the God of battles on our side: the sea, which for a while seemed to have forgotten her ancient master, begins once more to acknowledge her rightful sovereign, and Britain re-assumes her dominion over it.

Let us not, however, relapse into our former indolence, and return again to our sins, but put away our idols of pleasure and dissipation, and serve the Lord only. If his past judgments have already awakened us to a consci. ousness of our sins, let his present mercies melt us into a fincere and perfect repentance of them; let the task which was begun before, owe its perfection to a nobler motive, and be finished by gratitude. If the Lord hath been so gracious to us, how can we rebel against him? Shall we offend a God of such goodness? shall we defy a God of such power?

I repeat it, my brethren; let not any partial success bring on security, or indulgence be the mother of forgetfulness; the face of war is terrible, even when he smiles upon us; his best and most gorgeous robe is stained with blood; and even when he wears a crown it is a crown of thorns. Whilft victory waves her banners before us, we are too much delighted with the prospect, to consider how dearly they were purchased, the news of conqueft reaches to every car and

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