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tions will shew you the people of other countries but now procuring or defending at no trifling expense of blood and tears, those civil and religious liberties in which your own land has so long and so securely rejoiced. If, then, you value these blessings according to their real worth, and if, as you are most bounden, you refer them to that hand from which (whether you are disposed to grant it or not) they really do all proceed, should not your grateful hearts beat responsive to my text when it bids you “ Take good heed unto yourselves, that ye love the Lord your God!"
And will not your hope in reference to the continuance, and your fear in reference to the discontinuance, of national blessings speak a language precisely similar to that which gratitude has just prompted you to utter? Men, I know, there are, who, in speculating on the destinies of kingdoms, overlook that intimate and eternal relation of cause and effect, which the Scriptures reveal as subsisting between human sin and human suffering : such persons naturally argue that the past is, as it were, a type of the future; that the fate of the most prosperous and powerful nations of antiquity must, sooner or later, be the fate of the most prosperous and powerful nations of modern times; and consequently, that though our land be now the strong-hold of liberty and the emporium of commerce, those evil days are inevitably coming when her children shall bow beneath a foreign yoke, and her ruined cities scarcely serve to tell what was once the extent of her wealth and grandeur. There are several reasons why I cannot yield an assent to this cheerless doctrine; I shall, however, adduce only one of those reasons, because all the rest depend more or less upon that one;
because that one is, I conceive, conclusive in itself, and because, owing to its nature and source, it is peculiarly suitable to the sacred purpose for which we are now assembled : it is this, that the plain declaration of the Almighty himself opposes the gloomy foreboding to which I have alluded. Listen, then, to the declaration in question ; Thus saith the Lord God, « Thein that honour me I will honour, and they that despise me shall be lightly esteemed."* These words are few and simple, and yet, my brethren, I believe in my conscience that they throw more light upon the causes of the overthrow of empires than do all the treatises of all the historians who have written without a due regard to the unerring truths of the divine word. The royal and inspired author of the Book of Proverbs affirms that “ righteousness exalteth a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people ;^'+ and whosoever has learnt duly to contrast the beauty of holiness with the deformity of ungodliness, the moral superiority of the one with the moral degradation of the other, will at once admit the correctness of Solomon's assertion: that assertion, however, is not only agreed to as true by the enlightened mind, with respect to the different natural characters of righteousness and of sin, but it is proved to be correct by actual experience, with regard to the different natural consequences of righteousness and of sin, for to such effect is the testimony of all history, sacred and profane. Surely, then, we may apply to the case of nations no less than to that of individuals, those words of the Christian Apostle, which are so plain, so reasonable, and so true, that parents and heads of families would do well to repeat them with their own lips and to teach their children
* 1 Sam. ii. 30. + Prov. xiv. 34.
and servants to repeat them each night as they lay their heads upon the pillow, “Godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come.”*
But, further, when we call to mind the great spiritual privileges which the Almighty has bestowed upon us, and remember that the Lord has promised to prosper with his blessing the use of those means which he has himself appointed for turning men “from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God,”+ may we not confidently anticipate the progressive increase in our land of that "righteousness which exalteth a nation.” We profess and call ourselves Christians: the enlightened doctrines of the reformation are secured to us at once by the sanctions of the law and the affections of a vast majority of the people: in our established church we “ hold fast the form of sound words "I and “ earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the Saints."'s 'To this end we preach “ Jesus Christ, and him crucified,”|| showing how he “is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth,"T and how, through him, both Jews and Gentiles “have access by one Spirit unto the Father.”** We teach the members of our communion that “ having a form of godliness” they must take heed unto themselves lest they be "denying the power thereof,”++ and that as “God is a Spirit, they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.” It In compliance with the divine injunction, we preach this Gospel to the poor, and enable them to bring • 1 Tim. iv. 8. + Acts xvi. 18. | 2 Tim. i. 13 Jude 3. || 1 Cor. ii. 2.
9 Rom. x. 4. ** Ephes. ii. 18. tt 2 Tim. iii. 5. # Jobo iv. 24.
up their children in the “ nurture and admonition of the Lord;"* and it is upon this fact, viz. the great exertions every where making for the religious education and general improvement of all classes, that I chiefly rely (under divine Providence) for the continuance amongst us of the religion of Jesus Christ in its spirituality and scriptural simplicity, and with all its accompanying benefits. Every year is adding to the number of persons who are able to “ search the Scriptures daily whether those things be so”+ as the ministers of the Gospel affirm them to be, and thus by degrees shall all men ainongst us know the Lord, “ from the least of them unto the greatest of them.”! I might here, moreover, enumerate a variety of associations whose grand object it is to promote the glory of God by furthering, both at home and abroad, the deliverance of- man from the penalty and from the power of sin; but enough has, I trust, been already said to show, that, through the divine goodness, we are indeed most amply blessed with the means of becoming ourselves, and of rendering others “ wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus,”'s and that if we continue, by the diligent and devout employment of those means, to honour the Lord our God, then there is no cause to doubt that the Lord our God will honour us, by preserving to us those civil and religious institutions, whence, humanly speaking, our national pre-eminence proceeds. But whilst, my brethren, we rejoice in this cheering, and I trust I may add, this reasonable view of the future, let us “ rejoice with trembling,” || lest, through forgetting and dishonouring our divine Benefactor, we condemn ourselves to the removal of our blessings civil and religious. Let us remember the great * Ephes. vi. 4. + Acts xvii. 11. | Jer. xxxi. 34. § 2 Timn. iii. 15. || Psa. ii. 11.
responsibility which attaches to the possession of those blessings; a responsibility demanding our most earnest exertions for the general welfare, and especially for the spiritual improvement, not merely of our fellow countrymen and fellow subjects (for that indeed most particularly), but, when our widely extended commercial relations are considered, of our fellow creatures throughout the whole world. Let us call to mind that assurance of the Son of God, which is as just as it is plain, “ Unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required;"'* and seeing that many nations which professed and called themselves Christians, through “ holding of superstitious vanities”+ on the one hand, and through “an evil heart of unbelief”I on the other, have been doomed to drink deeply of “ the vials of the wrath of God,"'ş let our hope and our fear, in reference to the future, alike exclaim, “ Take good heed therefore unto yourselves, that ye love the Lord your God!”
Now it must be clear to all of you that a godly nation is made up of an indefinite number of godly families, and that a godly family consists of a greater or less number of godly individuals; as, then, there cannot be a godly nation without a certain number of godly families, nor a godly family without a certain number of godly individuals, the arguments which I have brought forward in pressing for a due compliance with the exhortation of the text, are not more applicable to all of us, when taken collectively as a people, than they are to each of us, when standing separately as a person. This fact, though little thought of, is an interesting and important one, and if properly considered ought to
• Luke xii. 48. + Psalm xxxi. 7. [ Heb. iii. 12. $ Rev. xvi. 1.