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ed it, was turning it to other purposes. It was made instrumental in punishing the Jews for their idolatry; detaining them under a long and miserable captivity, till they were cured of their inclination to idols: and when this end was answered, and the Jews were to be replaced in their own land, the power of this great kingdom departed from it in one night. Ae soon as the sentence was passed, it was executed on the profane Belshazzar; and the particulars of this catastrophe are preserved by a celebrated heathen historian. Cyrus, to whom the kingdom was transferred, used his authority soon afterwards for the rebuilding of the temple of Jerusalemn, and the restoration of the Jewish economy.
When God was about to send the Christian religion into the world, which was to be spread into every part of it, the Roman empire increased to its utmost grandeur, and the form of it was changed from republican to monarchical, amongst a people, who by education, natural temper and principle, were the most averse to monarchy of any upon earth. The country of Judea, the stage on which the Gospel was to make its first appearance, was become a Roman province, governed by Roman magistrates, and subject to Roman laws and customs : whence it came to pass, that our Saviour, Jesus Christ, suffered death upon a cross, after the Roman manner; his preachers were sent about the world, over which the Roman jurisdiction was extended; and the Gospel at length became the established religion of the empire, by virtue of the imperial edicts, in opposition to all the power and interest of paganism. When these things were accomplished, and the designs of Providence were answered, this mighty empire was broken into smaller independent kingdoms, and the name of it is now nearly lost in the world.
The Roman power answered another remarkable purpose in the hand of God, for the punishment of the Jews under their last and great apostasy. They betrayed and crucified their Saviour, lest the Romans should come and take away their place and nation; maliciously exclaiming, that they had no king but Cæsar : therefore, these very Romans were the people appointed of God to drive them out of their land; the power of Cæsar, to whom they had given the preference, was turned against them; and they who had sold their Saviour were, themselves, sold into captivity and bondage; thirty of them, as history saith, for one piece of silver.
Their rejection of the Gospel, and the consequent judgment of God upon them, are thus represented in one of the parables of Christ -They took his servants, and entreated them spitefully, and slew them : but when the king heard thereof he was wrath ; and he sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burnt up their city. When the Jews had filled up the measure of their sins, the Roman armies were sent out by the Divine direction, to inflict the vengeance due to them. Their city was burned, their temple levelled with the ground: their land is now possessed by aliens and infidels ; themselves are wandering about the world, without airy home, and their backs are bowed down under the burthens they carry upon them; they are mixed with all nations, but incorporated with none; they sojourn with all people, yet still differ from all, in their customs, and even in their looks; they are marked out, like Cain, as vagabonds and murderers, and are miraculously preserved for a lesson to all that behold them : so that
a man can hardly took upon a Jew without exclaiming ---Thou persuadese me to be a Christian. Slay them not, said the prophet, lest my people jorget it, but scatter them abroad: for thence it will be understood in all succeeding ages, that God is terrible in his judgments; that none can forsake him, without being los: to themselves; and that obedience to his law can alone secure his protection to any other nation.
The Jews are held forth as the most striking examįles of national sin, and national punishment; but they are not singular: other nations have had their share, when their pride and wickedness have provoked the divine displeasure: and some would grow wise, in time, from the example of others, unless it were found to be true, by fatal experience, that men become infatuated in their understandings, when they are devoted to destruction.
If the history of this kingdom were to be written, with all the truth and impartiality of inspiration, and effects compared justly with their causes; we should see how God, at sundry times, and in divers manners, hath interposed to visit us; sometimes raising us to honour, in the sight of those that are round about us, and indulging us with the blessings of peace and plenty; at other times giving us up to be devoured among ourselves, when a spirit of faction and disobedience has been let loose, to set us at variance, and make us a scourge to one another. When a sense of past evils shall have lost its effect upon us, then the same turbulent spirit will again prevail, to undermine our greatness, and render us weak and contemptible in the sight of the nations that are round about us.
Upon the whole, so manifest is the power of God
in the creation and direction of the natural world; so remarkable the interposition of his providence in the revolutions of kingdoms; that he who cannot thence infer the necessity of fearing him, and the wisdom of being subject to him, has neither the faith of a Christian, nor the understanding of a man. And now, if to the foregoing considerations we add this, the last and greatest of all; that the same God who visits us here in this life, is to judge us in another; all other fear will resolve itself into the fear of him; according to that precept of our blessed Saviour, I will forewarn you whom you shall fear : fear him, which, after he hath killed, hath power to cast into hell ; yea, I say unto you, fear him. But then you are to understand with all this, that our religion is not intended to make life melancholy and miserable, but rather to make us happier by making us wiser, and to keep us in safety by bringing us nearer unto God. It teaches the necessity of a reasonable fear; the wisdom of a voluntary subjection; a fear which brings security, and a subjection which leads to liberty.
If, after what I have said, there should be any here present, who have not the fear of God, and will not be persuaded to it; I must warn them of one thing, which perhaps they have not considered. I give them to know, then, that no man born into this world can live without fear. If he does not fear God, he shall not escape fearless, as he thinks ; for he shall certainly fear something else. The fear of God would do him good, and make him happy: but if he does not fear God, he shall fall into some other fear, which will do him no good at all, but haunt him like an evil spirit, to make his enjoyments worthless, and his life miserable.
You are to observe, then, that he who does not fear God, shall fear death. When God is banished from the mind, the hope of immortality goes with him, and the fear of death prevails: and death being an enemy whom no man can cheat, or conquer, or avoid; the mind that is apprehensive of him falls under a sort of bondage, for which the whole world has no remedy
When a man does not fear God, he is possessed with a servile fear of the world; he becomes the slave of fashion, in his mind, his body, and his inorals: he dreads nothing so much as to be thought little and insignificant, by those who give laws to the fashionable part of society. Ile looks up to the opinion of the world with all that anxious reverence with which a Christian looks to the word of God. How
do we meet with, who are miserable, unless they are seen where the world is, and go where the world goes! How many renounce their judgment, or conceal it, and that with respect to the greatest subjects, if it contradicts the current of the day!
You are to consider farther, that he who does not fear God shall fear poverty. The fear of God gives a man the hope of an inheritance in another world; therefore he is easy if he has but little property in this. But where this world is all a man hath, and all he is to expect, he will fly from poverty with the loss of his conscience, and at the hazard of his soul, if he is in the higher class of life: if he is a profligate of the lowest order, he will expose himself daily to the iron hand of justice, for the sake of some stolen possession, and all his enjoyments are embittered with the terrors of the halter and the gibbet.
All cases are not equally bad: yet I may venture to pronounce, that although many do not entirely