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Vol. II. can we have good Ground to hope that
they will be prevalent and effectual ; but if we Adt thus, if we heartily forsake our Sins, and zealously endeavour to extirpate Wickedness in others, or at least, give a check to the growth of it, we may assure our felves that God will be reconcild to us, and consequently whatever becomes of our Temporal Interest and Tranquillity, we shall secure our Eternal one.
It is true indeed we cannot always upon Prayer and Repentance, promise our felves that God will either remove or abate Temporal Evils, the Words of my Text are, if so be God will think upon us, that we perish not. And this is as good Divinity from the Mouth of a Christian as a Pagan: St. Peter him
self would go no further for thus he exA&s viii. horts Simon Magus, Repent therefore of this
thy Wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine Heart may be forgiven thee. It is but a perhaps, if Repentance and Prayer could free him from those
Temporal Punishments which St. Peter vor, 20. denounced against him before, Thy Money
perish with thee.
But this ought not to discourage us, for besides that our Repentance will secure our Eternal Welfare as I mention'd
before, National Repentance and Prayer Ser. X. will certainly in the first place prevent our Ruin, tho' not our Amiction; God may chastise but he will never destroy a Penitent Nation. For this we have God's own word. At what instant I shall speak Jer. xviii. concerning a Nation and concerning a King-7,8. dom to pluck up, and to pull down, and to destroy it : If that Nation against whom I have pronounced, turn from their Evil
, i will repent of the Evil I thought to do unto them. And we have a notable Instance in the Prophet Jonah of God's making good this his Word. God had commilfion’d him to go to Nineveh, that great populous, and wealthy, but sinful, Čity, and proclaim in the Streets thereof, yet Forty Days and Nineveh shall be overthrown; nevertheless God spar'd it upon their Humiliation and Repentance, upon their Prayer and Reformation, tho' the Denunciation seem'd very particular and peremptory, and the Prophet thought his Honour concern'd in the Execution of it.
2dly, It is probable that upon a National Humiliation and Repentance, God will not only alleviate, but take off our Sufferings; nay that he will crown our Counsels and our Forces with Success and Victory, and bless us with a lasting Peace and flourishing Prosperity. I say
Vol. II, it is probable, because when we hear the
Rod and who has appointed it, we have anMic.vi 9. swer'd the end of God, and there is no longer need of Chastisement, and fo
gracious is God, thiat he delights more in shewing Mercy than in punishing, in doing Good than in inflicting Evil: But this when we have done all, we must leave to the Wisdom and Goodness of God, who alone is able to judge whether greater or longer Sufferings be necessary to compleat our Cure; whether we be fit for a great and fudden Change; and whether it be Honourable for him and Safe for us. If
any one object, you seem to insinuate that a National Reformation is necessary for our Safety, and if so our Condition is desperate, for this is scarcely to be hop'd for: I answer, a National Guilt and National Calamity call for a Natio nal Repentance; this is the surest way to our Deliverance, but God is infinitely Good and Gracious, he is often prevaild upon by the Prayer and appeas'd by the Repentance of a few; it is very rare'that his Sentence upon a Nation is fo fix’d, that the Intercession of Noah, Daniel, and Job cannot reverse it. However this be, let us do our Duty, and then whatever Influence this may have upon the Pub
lick, we shall certainly deliver our orn Ser. X. Souls.
I have done with the things propounded, and will conclude with a very brief Exhortation. My Brethren, this is the acceptable time, this is the Day of Salvation; Mercy and Deliverance are yet tender'd us, God yet waits to be gracious to us. Ah ! let us not harden our Hearts, nor persist in our Sins; but let us search and try our Ways, and turn again unto the Lord, Let us humble our selves and cry earnestly unto God, and he will have Mercy upon us. There was a time when the Prophet calld Jerusalem to Repentance in such Words as these. The Ax is laid unto the Root of the Tree; therefore every Tree Matt iii.se which bringeth not forth good Fruit is hewn down, and cast into the Fire : But they hearden'd their Hearts, and stop'd their Ears and wou'd not hear, and therefore a very few Years had not passed, hefore the Message of God was alter'd, and our Saviour wept over Jerusalem, and bewaild in passionate Words that Ruin which both Mercies and Judgments had strove in vain to prevent. If thou hadst kuown, even thou, at least in this thij Day, Luke xix, the things which belong unto thy Peace! But 42. now they are hid from thine Eyes. And may this never be our Cafe! But I must say if P 3
Vol. II. this Nation of ours be lost, we must not
charge its Destruction upon God, but upon our felves. God may make Hea
ven and Earth Judges, Hear, 0 Heavens, Isa. i. 2: and give ear, O`Earth; he may appeal to
all the World concerning us, as he doth in the Prophet concerning Jerusalem ;
What could have been done more to my VineIla. V. 4. yard, that I have not done in it ? What
shall God do unto a People whom no Mercies, no Judgments can allure or awaken? But I hope better things; I hope we shali beseige Heaven this Day with fo many Prayers and Tears, with that Contrition and Charity, that God will hear us, and guide our Counsels, and march before our Armies. I hope the Ministers of God this Day will meet with the Success which Jonah did, when he publish'd the Threats of God against Nineveh, then will God foon disperse all our Fears, and turn our Storms into a Calm, and his Chastisements into Blessings.