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TRANQUILLITY AMIDST WARS AND RUMOURS
[Preached March 9th 1797, the day of the National Fast in Scotland. ]
And ye Mall hear of wars and rumours of wars :
see that ye be not troubled.
“RETURN, O Lord! how long! and let “it repent thee concerning thy servants. O " fatisfy us early with thy mercy; that we “ rejoice and be glad all our days. Make 6 us glad according to the days wherein thou " hast afflicted us, and the years wherein we “ have seen evil.” In this strain of expostulation and prayer, we began the solemn service of this day. With us, I am persuaded, in the closet, in the family, in the congregation, thousands of thousands have joined, and are joining, in deploring the ravages of war; and in earnest fupplications to God, M m 2
for the speedy restoration of the blessings of peace. The desolations of the earth, (perhaps with much propriety I may use the words of our LORD,)“ the abomination of * defolation," and of the prophet to which he refers, “ the overspreading of abomina" tions that make desolate ;' have caused many with us to exclaim, in the words of Teremiah, " Righteous art thou, O LORD. “ when we plead with thee: yet let us talk “ with thee of thy judgments: Why doth “ the way of the wicked prosper? wherefore “ are all they happy that deal very treacher“ously? Thou hast planted them, yea they e have taken root : they grow, yea they “ bring forth fruit."
YEAR after year, we have assembled together, as a nation, and as a church, confessing our sinfulness, under the chastening rod; fupplicating the mercy of Heaven, imploring the blessing of God on the councils and arms of our Sovereign; and the restoration of peace, on safe, honourable and lasting conditions : yet the awful visitation of Heaven continues : the judgments of God are abroad in the earth ; fears and alarms, confusion
and distress respecting our safety and enjoyments, spread over our own country. The enemy has dared to threaten us with invasion : attempts have been made, hitherto indeed providentially defeated, to land troops on our coasts. But for the storms, a considerable force had been landed at Bantry Bay in Ireland: but for the spirit and activity of the inhabitants, much mischief might have been perpetrated by those who landed in Wales. “ His anger is not turned away, “ his hand is stretched out still !" we may complain in the words of the prophet: Wars and their devastations are renewed : Battles and victories, the most prosperous, the most fplendid, afflict us. Can there be glorious atchievements in fight, and success and triumph, without blood and death, and human wretchedness ? The rod is still lifted up: it chastises the nations: it chastises us. “Hear “ the rod,” says the prophet, " and him who “ hath appointed it.” The men of wisdom hear his voice. By his judgments, God calls us to “ consider our ways :" to return to God, and to duty. The call of Heaven is echoed by the proclamation of our Sovereign. Mixing loyalty to our King with
piety to our God, we are assembled this day; and have united in confessions, fupplications, intercessions.
Godly sorrow and contrition distinguish the acceptable fast. Humiliation and mourning are expressed and felt, in its exercises. The great objects of setting this day apart, and of our thus assembling together, are forwarded and obtained, if sinners are awakened to a serious consideration of their sinfulness. Are there any here who are stout-hearted and far from righteousness? Any who have not bethought themselves, have not remembered God their Maker, the source of all their enjoyments, the Lord and Judge of all ? Any who are convicted of hating the Father, because they hate the Son, and neglect and despise his great falvation ? Any who shew they are enemies to God in their minds, by their wicked works ? Any who deny not ungodliness and worldly lufts; who do not live foberly, righteously and godly in the world ? JVith all affection and earnestness, we beseech you to bethink yourselves: examine yourselves: consider your ways: mourn and be in bitterness for your sins, and their
aggravations. We entreat you to remember his power is omnipotent, whom you make your enemy: his knowledge, whose laivs you have broken in thought, word and action, is perfect: his laws are holy, just and good : he hath not left himself without a witness, in any age of the world, manifesting his wrath against all unrighteousness: He speaks to us by his Son from heaven: Jesus is “ the “ image of the invisible God,” the beloved of the Father: opposition to his Gospel, to his kingdom and government, is the most heinous and daring wickedness : depravity, ingratitude, perversity, the most enormous and provoking, are theirs who will not have him to reign over them: If that Rock, under whose shadow the exhausted traveller rests and is safe, falls upon us, it will grind us to powder.
In the history of the world and of the church, we learn that God hath awfully manifested his displeasure against the workers of iniquity; against individuals, against societies, against sinners in general: but, the most awful and affecting manifestation of human guilt is, The mediation of that blessed