Imatges de pàgina
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is echoed by every tongue; but who, in the mean time, listens to the shrieks of the widow, or regards the cries of the orphan?

When we were last called upon by public authority to humble ourselves before God, and to call down a blessing on our arms and councils, little perhaps did we imagine that we should again be summoned together, as we now are, on the same melancholy occasion. We had formed to ourselves, no doubt, vain and fallacious hopes that the sword of war would long since have been sheathed; that there would have been no more murmuring or complaining in our streets, but that mercy and truth, righteousness and peace, would ere this have kiffed each other.

But it hath not so pleased the divine will; we are at this moment in a more dangerous condition than we were at that time. Since last we met, to humble ourselves before the Lord, a near and powerful enemy hath risen up against us, whose falsehood, perfidy, and ingratitude, cannot be sufficiently condemned; who, taking the advantage of our distressful situation, have impiously combined with our foes to ruin and destroy us.

Whence, then, it is but natural to ask, whence doth it arise that the pious vows which we then made are not fulfilled; that our prayer is thus returned into our own bosom? It is but too probable that our sins have prevented all the good effects of our past devotion; that our, crimes and follies intercepted our prayers in their passage to heaven, and would not permit them to ascend up to the throne of grace.

If ever, therefore, my brethren, there was a time when serious and sober reflection were more immediately and indispensably necessary, it is doubtless at this present most important juncture. Whatever we may vainly think of our own state, however we may be lulled by a fatal security, great and manifold are our errors, heavy and numerous are our transgressions. It is not this day's faft, however rigidly kept, not this day's penitence, however sincere, that can atone for them: universal corruption and depravity demand universal repentance and reformation: a continuance in sin, and a repetition of our follies, have brought continued and repeated misfortunes upon us, and nothing but a steady, uniform, and uninterrupted course of piety and virtue canever redeem us from them.

To that God, therefore, who maketh men to be of one mind in an house, and to that blessed Redeemer, to whom alone we must be indebted for

peace and reconcilement, let us fend up our humble petitions, that he will graciously deign to affift iis in our labour of love; that he will turn the minds of our enemies, that he will persuade the generous, asswage the angry, and foften the obdurate heart; open the eyes of the blind, inftruct the ignorant, direct the doubt. ful, and bring together the separate and disunited.

Upon the whole then, it is but too evident. that we have all sinned against the Lord; let us endeavour to make it as indisputable that we have all repented also. The sword of war

is still unsheathed, the angel of destruction is still abroad: whilst therefore the honour, the fafety, and the happiness of our country is still undeterinined, shall we be fo neglectful of her interest, fo careless of her reputation, fo indifferent about her success, as whilft she is in this situation, to wanton in sensual pleasure, give a loose to our passions, and spend our time in folly, riot, and debauchery? Should not her danger alarm our fears, chastise our joys, and awaken our attention? Doth not the present crisis seem to demand a more than ordinary caution and severity in all our words and actions.

When a nation is at peace, fhe may be in . dulged in a short transport of pleasure, her errors may then perhaps lay some claim to pardon, her follies may plead fome excuse; but when the stern brow of war frowneth upon her, when every thing that is dear and precious is at stake, when all her virtues are necessary to fupport, and all her powers to defend her; at such a time to be

gay is to be guilty, to be but careless is to be wicked; not to affift, is to oppose; and to neglect our country, is to betray her.

Let every one therefore think, that, as in the field of battle every man should behave as if on his single arm depended the victory, so here at home let every man persuade himself, that on his single virtue and repentance dependeth the reformation of a whole people. Let us then, in all humility, bow ourselves down before the God who made us; let this day's abstinence

serve but as a type or emblem of that total abstinence from fin which we purpose henceforth strictly to observe; and if we hope for public or for private happiness, let us from this hour fincerely and heartily endeavour to deserve it.

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A power went forth to for his feed. THE firft and most striking beauty that,

amongst many others, so eminently distinguishes the parables of our blessed Saviour, is that amiable simplicity which runs through every one of them: the images are all clear and familiar, the expression is plain and intelligible, the conduct regular and uniform, the comparison just, the design and moral resulting from the whole immediately visible; and amongst them there is not one which is perhaps more agreeable or more instructive than that which is now before us, wherein the greatest and most fublime truths are enforced and illuf trated by an image drawn from an humble state of life; and circumstances the most common and familiar that could possibly be imagined, Anade use of to convey the noblest and most

exalted

exalted lessons of morality. A fower went forth to fow his feed; and as he Yowed, fome fell by the way fide, and it was trodden down, and the fowls of the air devoured it: some fell upon a rock, and as soon as it was sprung up, it withered away, because it lacked moisture: and Some fell among thorns and the thorns sprung up with it, and choaked it; and others fell on good ground, and sprang up and bare fruit, an hundred fold.

Nothing can be more plain, simple or concife, than this short narrative. It may not here however, be improper to observe, that in several other of our Saviour's parables the words or circumstances preceding or subsequent to them, sufficiently pointed out the design and intention, and consequently led the hearers to the proper explanation and interpretation : but with regard to the parable before us, it doth not appear, by any previous circumstance, that those who heard were able to find out the meaning and purport of it. Our Saviour did therefore himself graciously condescend to interpret it in the following: manner: The seed, says he, is the word of God: those by the way side, are they that hear: then cometh the devil, and tak. eth away the word out of their hearts; left they should believe, and be saved: they on the rock, are they which when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away: and that which fell among thorns, are they, which when they have heard, go forth, and are choaked with cares, and riches, and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection: but that on the good ground, are they which in an honest and good heart, having heard

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