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the land in which we live, similar to that we bear to our parents or children: we are therefore peculiarly bound to pray for its peace and welfare; as even the captive Jews were commanded to pray for the peace of the country in which they had peace. We have re. ceived and still enjoy manifold advantages, temporal and spiritual, in this our favoured land; and we or our descendants shall probably participate the future prosperity or adversity, the blessings or calamities, that await the nation. Our personal transgressions form no small part of that guilt". which calls for divine judg. ments on the land: and our lukewarmness and inconsistent conduct, as Christians, have helped to provoke God, to deprive us of our religious privileges. It would therefore be a foolish hypocrisy in us, on this day of fasting and humiliation, to arraign the conduct of other men, and excuse our own.
On these and many other accounts, it is our undeniable duty" to lift up our prayer for the remnant " that is left.” There is still a remnant among us of real believers; there is still ground for hope in the LORD's mercy;
" the effectual fervent prayer of a “righteous man availeth much;" the most eminent believers who prayed with signal success, were men of like passions with us: even Isaiah once cried out, “ Woe is me I am undone, I am a man of unclean “ lips;" yet
his prayers were most effectually answer. ed. It is likewise undeniable, that our enemies, like Sennacherib, want to subvert our holy religion, as well as our temporal prosperity: and this suggests
powerful plea in lifting up our prayer for national de liverance.
But it is confidently asserted by numbers, that prayers, offered on such occasions, are the dictates of re. venge, ambition, or avarice. If avowed infidels alone held such language, it would not excite our sürprize: but it is indeed most astonishing, that men, pretending to believe the Bible, should condemn a practice approved and commanded in every part of the sacred volume! Let us, however, examine how Hezekiah prayed:-"O LORD of Hosts, God of Israel, who “ dwellest between the cherubim, (that is, above the “ mercy-seat,) thou art the God, even thou alone, of “ all the kingdoms of the earth; thou hast made hea. “ ven and earth. Incline thine ear, O Lord, and hear;
open thine eyes, O LORD, and see; and hear all the “ words of Sennacherib, who hath sent to reproach the u living God. Of a truth, Lord, the kings of Assy. " ria have laid waste all the nations and their countries: " and have cast their gods into the fire; for they were "no gods, but the work of men's hand, wood and “ stone; therefore they have destroyed them. Now, " therefore, O LORD our God, save us from his hand " that all the kings of the earth may know that thou “ art the LORD, even thou only.'* Nothing can be more plain, than that zeal for the honour of God and the interests of true religion, principally dictated this prayer. The Lord indeed answered it, “ by terrible 4s things in righteousness:" but Hezekiah had only
Is. xxxvii. 15—20.
asked deliverance for his people, not destruction on his enemies; and his expanded charity made him ear. nestly desire that all the kings of the earth might know the difference between the true God and worthless idols, and that they might diffuse that knowledge among their subjects.
I would not knowingly offer one prayer on this occasion, which could not be answered consistently with our enemies enjoying peace, security, liberty, good government, and the blessings of true religion; but we may pray that the LORD would . abate their pride, as. suage
their malice, and confound their devices,' (that is, their devices against the peace of other lands, or the Christian religion,) in entire consistency with these friendly dispositions towards them: for such things would conduce to their advantage, as well as our own. We may not ask the LORD to aggrandize or enrich our nation, that she may reign over all countries, or engross all the commerce of the world: but surely we may pray that famine, pestilence, hostile invasions, and evil discords may be averted; that there may be employment and food for the poor, peace iq our bor. ders, and the continuance of our civil and religious liberties. Above all we should pray for the peace, purity, and enlargement of the church; that it may please the LORD to illuminate all the ministers of religion, * with true knowledge and understanding of his word, * that both by their preaching and living, they may set * it forth and shew it accordingly,' that “ labourers
may be sent forth into the harvest;” “ that the Spi"rit of God may lift up a standard” against the tor
rent of infidelity, impiety, and vice, that inundates the land; and that all ranks and orders of men may be en. dued with wisdom and grace, to serve God and their generation faithfully and successfully. Such prayers as these may be branched out into a variety of particu. lars, without indulging sinful passions, or violating the law of love. And if we pray in faith, depending on the LORD alone, and not on an arm of flesh; and duly considering his almighty power and abundant mercy as fully adequate to all our necessities and difficulties; we may yet hope that he may be intreated for the land, and prolong our tranquillity.
But without personal repentance we cannot offer such supplications as these. It therefore behoves every one of us to consider our ways, to examine our hearts, humbly to confess our sins, to seek forgiveness, and to pray for grace that we may henceforth walk before God in newness of life. If any persons have hitherto continued impenitent and unbelieving; they should on this occasion set about the great concerns of their im. mortal souls, with peculiar diligence and earnestness, Otherwise, whether the LORD spare the land or not, he will not spare them. “ Woe be to the wicked! it " shall be ill with him, for the reward of his hands "shall be given him."*
Even real Christians, at such a time as this, are called upon to review their lives, and renew their hu. miliation for all their past sins, as a part of the guilt
* Is. iji. II,
accumulated by the land. They should especially consider their conduct as professors of the gospel, and enquire in what particulars they have dishonoured their profession, misled or weakened their brethren, or given occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blas. pleme. We ought also to examine what fruit hath been produced by the solemnities, professions, instructions, and prayers of the last season of fasting and humiliation. We should ask ourselves whether we have really acted consistently with them, and been more fruitful, zealous, and conscientious than before? Thus we shall be prepared to plead with him as his children and friends, in the manner that Abraham, Moses, Joshua, Samuel, Jehoshaphat, and others of old did; and prevailing with him we shall prevail with man also.
But we must likewise remember, that we are bound to use our influence and improve our talents, by every exertion, to promote the cause, and obtain the bles. sings, for which we pray; both in our families and pri. vate circles, and in more publick stations. Thus we should seek, as well as pray for, the peace of the community, the prosperity of the church, the reformation of manners, and removal of every occasion or encouragement given to vice and impiety. If indeed we are decidedly for the Lord, and determined to follow him fully, without regard to men or dread of consequences; our conduct will have a considerable effect: for the example, endeavours, and prayers of his faithful people are the means by which our national