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signs of the times: and the deeper their conviction, that the Lord might justly give us up into the hands of our enraged enemies. On whatever side we turn our eyes, we must witness such atrocious crimes, as tend to dismay our hearts, more than all the menaces of our haughty assailants: and we can find nothing suited to relieve our terrors, except we advert to the remnant of real Christians scattered through the land. In subordination to the Lord's infinite mercies, our hope of preservation rests on this company, and on their supplications and exertions: and this consideration leads us anxiously to enquire, What can be done to stir up this whole remnant, to attend as with one soul, regardless of party-distinctions, to the alarming signs and important duties of the times and what individual or collective efforts may be made, to increase the number of those who are indeed the cha. riots and horsemen of the nation?
Some ministers in the metropolis, having frequently conferred together on this subject, at length deliberately entered into a consultation on the best methods of accomplishing these desirable ends, in their several situations, and by their combined endeavours. It was very obvious, that prayer for the church and nation was peculiarly seasonable and obligatory; and we unanimously determined, that, by the help of God, we would ourselves attend to it, in the closet, in the family, and on every proper occasion; and that we would earnestly recommend the same to our several congregations; exhorting them to join their supplications for the land, and to those of their brethren, on every day,
but especially to make this topick a prominent part of their devotions on the Lord's-day-evening, both in their families and in private.
These considerations, however, did not rest here; but produced a general conviction, that the present emergency called us and our people to other duties likewise, and that it would be very useful for us particularly to examine the subject. This appeared the more seasonable, when we reflected, that numbers, aware of the evil of political discussions from the pulpit, and of rendering religious ordinances subservient to the gratification of men's passions and prejudices; are ready to conclude that we have nothing to do with the state of publick affairs, or, in other words, that, in this respect we have actually no duties at all! while others seem to take it for granted, that no one, who differs from them in political sentiment, can possibly be influenced by religious principles.
It was therefore agreed among a few friends, that a sermon should be preached weekly, on the usual lecture-Jay and hour, in our several churches and chapels by rotation, on the signs and duties of the times, by some other of the company than the stated pastor; and that other ministers of the established church should be invited to join us, by giving their pulpits, and employing their labours, in the same cause.
This was begun about a year ago, and is still continued with considerable encouragement; and as we greatly desire to unite our brethren, throughout the land, in similar measures; we have at length determined to publish an account of our designs; both in order to excite attention, to prevent misapprehension, to obviate prejudice, and to stimulate others to imitate us, as far as our conduct is judged to accord with the principles of sacred Scripture.
We would therefore propose our sentiments on the following subjects to the candid attention of pious Christians, however distinguished, in every part of Great Britain.
I. The duty of intercession for the nation and for
the church, in seasons of danger and distress. II. The nature and special objects of those prayers,
which may be supposed availing on such occasions.
III. The prevalency of acceptable prayer, accor
ding to the Scriptures.
IV. And lastly, The other duties which are in
cumbent on us, along with our prayers, in the
present emergency. I. The duty of intercession for the nation and for the church, in seasons of danger and distress.
If we could conceive a number of Christians so cir. cumstanced, that the welfare of the nation, in which they resided, had not the least discoverable connexion with the interests of religion, it would yet, according to the Scriptures, be their duty to pray for the peace of the land, more especially if they were protected and enjoyed peace in it. The captive Jews at Babylon were grievously oppressed by their haughty conquerors, and exposed to persecution on account of their religion:
but as it was the will of God they should sojourn there for a season, they were required, not only to“ seek “the peace of the city,” by submission to the rulers in all things lawful, and by a quiet and inoffensive de. portment; but also, to
pray to the Lord for it:"* and the false prophets, who inculcated contrary principles, were severely rebuked. Surely then it must be incumbent on us, who enjoy as much liberty and as many privileges, as perhaps any nation ever did for a length of time, to seek and pray for the peace and protection of our country!
It may perhaps be objected, that when the seventy years of captivity were about to expire, and Cyrus, the predicted deliverer of the Jews, approached Babylon; it could not be their duty to pray for the success of Belshazzar against him. We may, however, derive instruction from the very silence of Scripture: for it is no where intimated that the Jews were directed to alter their conduct on this emergency, or that they actually did alter it. The more intelligent indeed must have been sensible, that a revolution was at hand: but the Lord seemed to say, "Be still and know that I am God:” “ Stand still, and ye shall see the salvation of God.” They were not called to take any active part in those transactions: and the truly pious remnant among them would doubtless pray particularly for the restoration of Jerusalem, with the temple and its sacred worship, and for the deliverance of the nation from captivity: and
• Jer. xxis. 7.
probably in other respects they would be more general, as leaving the Lord to accomplish his word in that manner which seemed good in his sight.
It may however, be further observed, that no people can possibly know themselves to be in exactly similar. circumstances. The fulfilment of prophecies is not at present so distinctly marked by notes of time and place, as to enable the most discerning to know precisely when any great event may be expected. Nor have we a prophetical name given us, by which we may discover any distinguished instrument in the work, as the ,Jews might know Cyrus with his army of Medes and Persians. It is therefore most evidently the duty of every christian, wherever situated, to pray for the peace of the land according to the general tenour of Scripture; and against the horrors of invasion, carnage,
and desolation. The Lord indeed may see good to grant the spirit of such requests, in a manner that does not accord to the letter of them: as when we intercede for the health or life of a beloved relative, the prayer may be accepted, and answered in the best manner, while the special object is not granted. And in both cases we may afterwards discern and adore the wisdom, faithfulness, and love of God in the very dispensation, from which we had previously shrunk with dread and aversion. · If indeed the present events be intended to pre. pare the way for the destruction of the Roman Antichrist, we are still incompetent to determine what de. gree of devastation must attend that great catastrophe,