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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 u shall be ill with him, for the reward of his hands u 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. ii. 11,
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. pheme. 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
character must be improved, and our privileges continued to us.
Let such as profess to “turn unto him that smit"eth” them, take care they do not rest in notions, forms, or external reformation; without true conversion, repentance, faith, and holiness. The prophet took notice of persons answering this description, when he said, “ They return but not to the Most High.”* And nothing more effectually prevents the conversion of sinners, than a mistaken idea that they are already converted.
Charity to the poor and afflicted is likewise an es. sential concomitant of acceptable fasting and humiliation: “Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and " that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thine " house? When thou seest the naked that thou cover " biin, and that thou hide not thyself from thine own “flesh? Then shall thy light break forth as the morn"ing,—then shalt thou call, and the LORD shall an. “swer.-If thou draw out thy soul to the hungry, “ and satisfy the afflicted soul: then shall thy light rise " in obscurity, and thy darkness shall be as the noon. “ day.”f
Finally, my brethren, if you thus return to the LORD, and seek his face, I am sent to you with encouraging words. “Let the heart of those rejoice " that seek the LORD.” “ Say ye to the righteous, " that it shall be well with him; for they shall eat the " fruit of their doings.”_" In the time of famine
• Hos. yii. 16.
$ Is. Iyiii. 7--12.
" they shall have enough."-" Though the fig-tree “ should not blossom,” and every resource should fail, “ yet they may rejoice in the LORD, and joy in *6 the God of their salvation." Be not therefore “ afraid of evil tidings; let your heart be fixed trusting el in the LORD." If “ you hear of wars and rumours “ of wars, see that ye be not troubled.” Should a de. luge come, the LORD will prepare you an ark, in which you may be secure and comfortable: and he will say to you, “ Come, my people, enter thou into " thy chambers, and shut thy doors about thee; hide • thyself, as it were for a little moment, until the in“ dignation be over-past. For behold, the LORD " cometh out of his place to punish the inhabitants of " the earth for their iniquity. The earth also shall disso cover her blood, and shall no more cover her slain."*
• Is. xxvi. 20, 21.