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us in our distresses, than thousands of gold and silver. “Unless thou hadst been our delight, we should have perished in our affliction.”
No wonder Job "esteemed thee more than his necessary food.” No wonder David " chose thee as his heritage for ever;" and found thee “to be the rejoicing of his heart.” No wonder the noble army of martyrs parted with their estates, and with their blood, rather than with thee. May we value thee as our richest jewel; may we love thee as our dearest good; may we consult thee as our surest counsellor; may we follow thee as our safest rule!
And O, thou eternal Jehovah! “Send out thy light and thy truth: let them lead me: let them bring me unto thy holy hill, and to thy tabernacles. Then will I go unto the altar of God, unto God, my exceeding joy; yea, upon the harp will I praise thee, O God, my God."
SIN RUINS A KINGDOM.
(FOR A FAST DAY.) Only fear the Lord, and serve him in truth, with all your
heart: for consider how great things he has done for you. But, if ye shall still do wickedly, ye shall be consumed, both ye and your king.-1 Sam. xii. 24, 25.
Such was the language of Samuel to the Jews. The words have a peculiar force in them; and it arises from the wisdom of the address. How could he have given them a better representation of their duty? And how could he have more powerfully recommended it?
He requires of them nothing superstitious; no. thing merely ritual, and ceremonious; nothing only external, and temporary; but, the exercise of piety, flowing from the fear of God, and accompanied with sincerity and fervour in serving him: this is all: “Only fear the Lord, and serve him in truth, with all your heart: for consider how great things God hath done for you.” This he enforces by two motives. The one drawn from gratitude, and the other from interest. He has been your friend; he can be your enemy. He has done great things for you; and he can do great things against you. Consider this-"Consider how great things he has done for you. But if ye shall still do wickedly, ye shall be consumed, both ye and your king."
Already I hope you have dropped Judea, and fixed
your attention on your own country. The words could never have been more applicable to the Jews, than they are to us.
And hence we have been led to choose them on this solemn occasion, when we are called to assemble together, to acknowledge our sins, and to implore the di
To render the scripture useful, we must consider persons in former ages as specimens of human nature in general; and the dispensations of providence towards them as holding forth the unchangeable perfections of Jehovah. Thus, individuals, families, churches, and nations, become exemplary; and, by their welfare, or ruin, encourage our hope, or awaken our fear.
Among all the nations of the earth, there is no one to which we can so properly refer as to the Jews: not only because their history is true, and events are traced up to their proper causes; but because there is a greater correspondence between.
them and us, than between us and any other people. They only, of all the nations of antiquity, worshipped the same God with us. They only, like us, were under the reign of grace, as well as of providence, and enjoyed religious and spiritual privileges, blended with civil and natural. Let us attend to this.
1. Samuel tells them, that “ the Lord had done great things for them.” David could not review their history without admiration. “And what one nation in the earth is like thy people, even like Israel, whom God went to redeem for a people to himself; and to make him a name, and to do for you great things, and terrible, for thy land before thy people, which thou redeemedst to thee from Egypt, from the nations, and their gods?” Moses, at a much earlier period, declared them pre-eminently blessed. "Happy art thou, O Israel: who is like unto thee, 0 people, saved by the Lord, the shield of thy help, and who is the sword of thy excellency! and thine enemies shall be found liars unto thee, and thou shalt tread upon their high places."
Abraham lived in Ur of the Chaldees. God, in his sovereign grace, called him to his foot; and commanded him to depart from his own country, and his father's house, in search' of a place which he should afterwards receive for an inheritance. He told him he should be the ancestor of a nation numerous as the stars of heaven, and that one of his posterity should finally bless all the families of the earth. He multiplied and increased him. With Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise, he was a stranger and a pilgrim upon the earth.
6. When they were but a few men in number: yea, very
few, and strangers in it: when they went from one nation to another; from one kingdom to another people; he suffered no man to do them wrong; yea, he reproved kings for their sakes; saying, Touch not mine anointed, and do my prophets no harm."
Their deliverance from the land of Egypt, and the house of bondage, is well known. He brought them forth with a strong hand, and an outstretched arm. Creatures of every rank espoused their cause, and punished their enemies. When in jeopardy from their pursuers, the sea opened, and they passed through as on dry ground, which the Egyptians essaying to do, were drowned. Then they sang his praise. And the deliverance was the food of their faith and hope long afterwards: “Thou didst divide the sea by thy strength; thou brakest the heads of the dragons in the waters. Thou brakest the head of leviathan in pieces, and gavest him to be meat to the people inhabiting the wilderness.”
Forty years wandered they in the desert. They knew not their way-he was their guide. They were exposed to dangers-he was their defence: they had no supplies-he rained down manna, the rocks poured out water, their clothes waxed not old. Had they unwholesome damps by night? the pillar of cloud became a fire, and absorbed them. Were they open by day to the heat of a burning sky? the pillar of fire became a cloud, and diffused an immense shade over them. Thus the sun did not smite them by day, nor the moon by night.
By and by Jordan rolled back its streams, and they took possession of “a land, where were wells which they digged not, houses which they builded not, vineyards which they planted not: a land flowing with milk and honey; wherein there was no scarceness: and upon which the Lord's eye was from the beginning, even to the end of the year.”
But they had unspeakably greater advantages than all these. What says David? “He showeth his word unto Jacob, his statutes and his judgments unto Israel. He hath not dealt so with any nation; and, as for his judgments, they have not known them.” What says Paul? “Who are Israelites: to whom pertained the adoption, and the glory, and the covenant, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises: whose are the fathers, and of whom, as concerning the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen.'
And has he not done great things for us? It is not foolish partiality, but truth that compels us to say, “The lines are fallen to us in pleasant places; yea, we have a goodly heritage." O England! * Blessed of the Lord be thy land; for the precious things of heaven, for the dew, and for the deep that croucheth beneath. And for the precious fruits brought forth by the sun, and for the precious things put forth by the moon. And for ihe chief things of the ancient mountains, and for the precious things of the lasting hills; and for the precious things of the earth, and fulness thereof, and for the good will of Him that dwelt in the bush." Have we not a land of woods and rivers, of fields, and of meadows, “of wheat and of barley?” Are not “our oxen strong to labour?" and do not “our sheep bring forth thousands and ten thousands in our streets?” Are we not placed in a climate, whose temperature equally secures us