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may be terminated; the wicked devices of such as per. sist in mischief be finally disappointed; and the bles. sings with which thou hast long favoured us, be ex. tended to them, and to all other nations; till genuine liberty and peace, as the effects of pure christianity, may fill the earth, and bless the whole world of man. kind! These prayers we present before thee, in sole dependence on the merits and mediation of thy Son JESUS CHRIST.
Now to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, three Persons in one mysterious Deity, be ascribed all glory, praise, and adoration, for evermore, Amen.
JEREMIAH XIV. 7.
Lord, though our iniquities testify against us, do
thou it for thy name's sake.
THE prophet Jeremiah performed his mournful of. fice, at that crisis when Judah had filled up the measure of his iniquities, and was ripe for national judg. ments. Having pathetically described, in the preceding verses, a terrible drought with which the land was visited; he broke out in the abrupt and fervent prayer contained in the text; “O LORD, though our iniqui. " ties testify against us, do thou it for thy name's “ sake!” adding, “ our backslidings are many, we “ have sinned against thee.” The Lord had before intimated that he would not grant the prophet's supplications for the land;* and, on this occasion also, he answered, “ Pray not unto me for this people for
" good; when they fast, I will not hear their cry; and “ when they offer burnt offerings and an oblation, I " will not accept them: but I will consume them by “the sword, and by the famine, and by the pesti
lence!" « Though Moses and Samuel stood before “ him, yet his mind could not be towards that peo. "ple.” In the lesson appointed for this morning-service, * and in the chapter which precedes it, we find that Jehoshaphat having, with great zeal, diligence, and prudence, endeavoured to revive true religion, and effect reformation in his kingdom, tas invaded by a vast army of the Moabites and Ammonites, with their confederates. In this emergency he proclaimed a fasta and with great fervency he aided the devotions of his people; and then led them forth to meet the enemy, with pious exhortations and songs of praise. The event was such as might have been expected: the assailants were destroyed by an extraordinary divine interposition, and the people of God were enriched by the invasion.--But the prophecy of Jeremiah (and the chap. ter before us in particular,) gives us a different view of the same subject: and by comparing them together we may learn, that various circumstances require consideration, before we can determine whether Godwill or will not answer the prayers of his most eminent servants, for a guilty nation. --It is probable that our land is neither in so good a state, in respect of vital godliness, as Judah was in the days of Jehoshaphat; nor yet so degenerate as that nation in the time of Je
remiah: we should, therefore, beware of forming too sanguine expectations of success from the one example, and of foreboding approaching desolations from the other.
In order to obtain more distinct views of this inter. esting subject, both in respect of our situation and duty, I shall apply the text to these nations and to the present occasion, in the following manner;
I. Endeavour to shew, that “our iniquities do “ indeed testify against us;"
II. Enquire what light the Scriptures afford us, by which we may judge, whether " the LORD, “ for his name's sake,” will hear our prayers for deliverance,
III. Consider what we are encouraged to expect from him, should he be graciously pleased to interpose in our favour: and,
IV. State the duties to which we ought peculiarly to attend, as means of obtaining the bles. sings for which we pray.
1. “Our iniquities do indeed testify against us.” This may be applied to the nation, and to each of us individually: and it is doubtless true, in respect of both. Had the prophet been asked, in what particulars the iniquities of his people testified against them? He would, we may suppose, have recalled to their minds the abject state of their progenitors in Egypt; the manifold interpositions of God in their behalf; and
all his special favours, temporal and spiritual, to the nation, through successive ages to that very day: he would then have enumerated the multiplied evidences,
which stood on record, of their ingratitude, rebellion, = idolatry, atheistical forgetfulness of God; impiety, hy.
pocrisy, licentiousness, iniquity, oppression, murder, and contemptuous cruelty to the servants of the LORD; with the multiplied enormities perpetrated by their princes, priests, and prophets, from age to age. * He would have proved that this load of national guilt, so long accumulating, had been exceedingly increased by the unprecedented criminality of that generation; that they had now filled up the measure of their iniquities; that the calamities, which they dreaded or experienced, were justly merited by them; that they suffered far less than they deserved; and that the only hope which re. mained for them, arose from the plenteous and everlasting mercy of their offended God.
And may not Britain be considered as the Israel of modern ages? Favoured above other nations by a kind Providence, with plenty, liberty, exemption from the dire ravages of war, and with every temporal blessing; we have long enjoyed, and, by many signal interpositions of heaven in our behalf, still enjoy the most distinguished advantages for becoming a wise and religious people. “What could have been done more to?? this part of " the vineyard, that the LORD hath nat “done in it?” And what have been our returns for such peculiar benefits? “O foolish people and unwise,
* Ezek. xx