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or how far the shock must be felt. We may therefore very consistently beseech the Lord; to terminate those awful judgments, which have for several years convulsed Europe; and to silence the blasphemies of infidels and atheists, that their detestable tenets may not permanently succeed to the idolatrous superstitions and delusions of popery. But especially we should with all earnestness present our supplications to almighty God, intreating him to avert these tremendous calamities from our native country: for whatever be the crimes of Britain, it can scarcely be supposed, we are so infected with the leaven of papal antichristianity, that nothing but revolutions and massacres can extirpate it. On the contrary, there seems a ground of hope, that in this respect we shall be exempted from the more desolating judgments, which we have reason to think will attend those predicted events: especially if with one consent we beseech God to "pour out upon us his spirit from
on high;" that our faith, worship, and character, may better accord to our advantages and profession.
But whatever may be the designs of Providence, we must not neglect any duty; for the commands of God, (not his decrees, predictions, or dispensations,) are the rule of our conduct. Now it is his command, that" supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving "of thanks, be made for all men; for kings and for all "that are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life, in all godliness and honesty."* As this was the duty of Christians, when living under
* Tim. ii. 1, 2.
pagan persecuting emperors; when the prosperity of the government might have been considered as inimical to the peace of the church; we may doubtless conclude that it must be the duty of every inhabitant of Great Britain.
But if a passenger be bound to pray for the safety of the vessel in which he sails, and for all those on board; he certainly ought to redouble his fervency and importunity during a tremendous storm, or when the ship is in imminent danger of being wrecked. This is not the time for idle disputes, concerning the previous conduct of the master, the pilot, or the seamen; for this, in such an emergency, would be little' short of madness, especially in persons unskilled in navigation. The circumstances of the vessel demand imperiously that all who are capable of labouring, should labour, and that all who can pray, should arise and "call upon God; if so be God may think upon them, "that they may not perish."* In a similar situation, Paul, during his voyage to Rome as a prisoner, prayed and prevailed; and the Lord "gave him all that sailed "with him." Yet Paul not only imagined, but was sure, that the persons concerned had acted improperly; and, by rejecting salutary advice, had involved themselves and the whole company in the most extreme danger.
If then our country is indeed threatened with invasion by a fierce and indignant foe, who has already spread devastation through a vast part of Europe, and
* Jon. i. 6.
is at present attempting to convulse both Asia, Africa, and America: if we have had, and still have, reason to dread domestick insurrections: if our sister-kingdom has been rendered a scene of bloodshed and confusion, and is in danger of still more dire calamities, whilst its vicinity may well increase our alarm, as well as excite our sympathy: if we have been preserved beyond expectation, by most extraordinary providential interpositions in our favour: if besieged, plundered, or burning cities and towns; deserted and desolated fields and villages; slaughtered or violated relatives; assassinations, massacres, and scenes, the distant report of which has chilled our hearts and made our ears to tingle, are to be deprecated; if any thing in our constitution, laws, liberties, national independence, peace, and prosperity, be worth preservation: and if there be any thing dreadful in the murder, imprisonment, or banishment of all those in the land, who have on any account, been distinguished characters; in the riot, plunder, and atrocities attending publick convulsions; or in the ruin of our commerce and manufactures: we may then confidently maintain, that we are bound by every obligation to unite our ceaseless prayers in behalf of our country. For whatever may be pretended or argued, as far as human foresight can reach, it is indubitable that all these calamities and many others, await us, in case our enemies should prevail, in this tremendous contest.
But if prayer for the land be our undeniable duty, surely few words may suffice to convince every pious person that it is incumbent on us to unite in supplica
tion for "the church of God which is among us." We would not so far forget ourselves, as to launch out in invective against our enemies; but who can help seeing; that could they accomplish their avowed purposes, they would not only overturn our national establishment, but likewise abolish our sabbaths, and adopt measures subversive of Christianity itselt? On former occasions, Britons, in pleading for the land, have been accustomed to consider the protestant interest as the cause of God, and as endangered by the machinations and assaults of papal powers: but is vital christianity at this time less exposed from the efforts of our present enraged enemies? "Let no man," brethren, "de"ceive you with vain words:" not only our outward advantages, but our religion itself is at stake; and it therefore behoves us to beseech the Lord, that he would, in these troublesome times, "build the walls," and secure the peace "of Jerusalem." Surely no situation, no peculiarity of sentiment, no distinction of any sort, should indispose any pious person, in these circumstances of extreme danger, to join the prayers of his brethren for those interests, which ought to be dearer to us, than property, or liberty, or life itself.
We should therefore, beyond all dispute, in publick, and social, and private worship, continually and fervently beseech the Lord, not to permit his cause in our land to be run down, his sabbaths to be abolished, his sanctuaries profaned, his ministers silenced or banished, his ordinances inhibited or restricted, or his word sunk into neglect and contempt., He might most justly permit all these evils, attended by other dread
ful calamities, to come upon us; and he could easily render his gospel triumphant in other places, should this favoured land be left in total darkness: but we may beseech him to "work for his own name's sake, that "it should not be polluted among the heathen."This, however, leads us to consider,
II. The nature and special objects of those prayers, which may be supposed availing on such occasions.
"The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man "availeth much."* But of our whole fallen race, "There is none righteous, no not one," except by the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by the grace of the gospel.
We ought not indeed to undervalue the publick honour put on God and religion, by the observance of days set apart for fasting and prayer, through the whole nation: yet we must maintain, that the remnant of penitent believers are the only persons, whose intercessions for the land can properly be considered as effectual and prevailing: and their prayers should not be restricted to any season, but ascend incessantly before the throne of grace. Provided this were indeed the case, though we must lament, that so few in comparison attend in a suitable manner on these occasional services, yet we need not be discouraged. Alas! this has always, in great measure, been the case, even in times of peculiar reformation; as we shall readily perceive, by comparing the records of the most pious kings of
* Jam. v. 16.