« PreviousContinue »
collect in a body, and give battle to their common enemy, by rising up high in the air, and coming down with force on their foe: this they do again and again, till he is beat far from their place of residence. Just so should ministers of the gospel, those watchmen which are set on the walls of Jerusalem, Isa. lxii. 6. do, when they observe the people in danger of being destroyed with respect to their spiritual interest, whether by innovations in religion, the spread of error, the infringement of their sacred privileges, or in any other
whatever ; then it is they ought to put the trumpet to their mouths and sound an alarm, Hos. viii. 1. Joel ii. 1. even warn the people, so that their blood may not be required at their hands, Ezek. xxxiii. 3.-6. and also do what in them lies to arm and strengthen them against such spiritual enemies, collecting, as it were, all their force together, rising up to heaven in prayer, and using the weapons of their warfare, which are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds ; casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ : and
having in a readiness to revenge all disobedi ence, when their obedience is fulfilled, 2 Cor. X. 4---6. and thus beat and banish such errors, innovations, and corruptions, whether in doctrine, worship, or discipline, away from the church of Christ.
This bird is said to be most alert in time of thunder, when sulphurous clouds are impending. In like manner should all true believers be most active in fleeing to God by prayer, in humbling themselves, and in performing the other duties of a Christian life, when the Lord's judgments are abroad in the earth, and heavy clouds of his displeasure hang over a guilty land.
When the Lord's voice of judgments crieth to a city, country-side, or nation at large, those alone are the men of wisdom that see his name, hearkening to the rod, and Him who hath appointed it, Mic. vi. 9. well knowing that sin is the procuring cause of all evil ; and it is not for nought when God lifteth up his hand to punish a nation, or people ; for he doth not afflict willingly, nor grieve the children of men, Lam. iii. 33.
Whether therefore his judgments be on nations, families, or individuals, they ought to have this effect, to make all who are concerned learn righteousness.
It is an awful circumstance, and a sign of great depravity, when they still remain careless : at such stupidity the prophet seemeth to have been deeply affected, when he crieth out, “ Lord, when thy hand is lifted up they s will not see: but they shall see.” Isa. xxvi. 11. So they that will not see the Lord's hand
mercy, shall in a way of judgment.
in a way
It was when Jonah thundered in the ears of the Ninevites, " Yet forty days, and Niso neveh shall be overthrown," that the inhabitants thereof “ believed God, and pro“ claimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from “ the greatest of them even to the least of “ them : for word came unto the king of Ni“ neveh : and he arose from his throne, and “ he laid his robe from him, and covered him " with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. And he “ caused it to be proclaimed and published * through Nineveh (by the decree of the king \ and his nobles) saying, Let neither man
“ nor beast, herd nor flock, taste any thing : “ let them not feed nor drink water : but let " man and beast be covered with sackcloth, “ and cry mightily unto God; yea, let them “ turn every one from his evil
and from " the violence that is in their hands. Who “ can tell if God will turn, and repent, and “ turn away from his fierce anger, that we “perish not? And God saw their works, so that they turned from their evil way; and “ God repented of the evil that he said he “ would do unto them; and he did it not," Jonah iii. 4. to the end.
We see what a blessed effect such humi, ļiation had; and shall heathens put Christians to shame? Shall we in this land, in the year 1801, when the Lord is thundering or ver our guilty heads in his awful judgments, by war abroad, tumults and famine at home, with disorders in the state, and divisions in the church, such as never were known in the annals of Britain, not humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God, and cry mightily unto him, that he would avert the judgments, which, like dismal clouds, pot only gather thicker and thicker, but are begun to pour down vengeance on our land?
These judgments, or similar, we may well expect (according to the experience of other nations, recorded both in sacred and profane history,) shall continue on our island, till they either make us turn unto him that smiteth us, or destroy us from being a nation altogether.
Let none think they are innocent in bringing down these heavy judgments with which this kingdom is at present afflicted ; for every one of us as individuals, of all ranks, have had a high hand in procuring those evils in which we are involved by our sins and iniquities.
that we would all then nationally and personally humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God, and turn unto him who smiteth us, that iniquity may not be our ruin, Ezek. xviii. 30. However others do, may
I be complying with that sweet invitation,
Come, my people, enter thou into thy chambers, and shut thy doors about thee : hide thyself as it were for a little moment,