« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »
brance as often, and engage us to lay them to our hearts with that affectionate concern, which the weight and interest of them requires at our hands. ....Sooner or later, the most inconsiderate of us all will find, with Solomon,....that to do this effectually, is the whole duty of man.
And I cannot conclude this discourse upon his words, better, than with a short and earnest exhortation, that the solemnity of this season,....and the meditations to which it is devoted, may lead you up to the true knowledge and practice of the same point, of fearing GoD and keeping his commandments,....and convince you, as it did him, of the indispensible necessity of making that the business of a man's life, which is the chiefend of his being,....the eternal happiness and salvation of his soul.
Which may God grant, for the sake of JESUS CHRIST. Amen.
Asa: A Thanksgiving Sermon.
2. CHRO N. XV. 14.
And they sware unto the LORD with a loud voice, and with shouting, and with trumpets and with cornets.—And all the men of Judah rejoiced at the oath.
TT will be necessary to give a particular account of what was the occasion, as well as the nature, of the oath which the men of Judah sware unto the Lord ;-which will explain, not only the reasons why it became a matter of so much joy to them, but likewise admit of an application suitable to the purposes of this solemn assembly.
Abijah and Asa his son, were successive kings of Judah.-The first came to the crown at the close of a long, and, in the end, a very unsuccessful war, which had gradually wasted the strength and riches of his kingdom.
He was a prince endowed with the talents which the emergencies of his country required, and seemed born to make Judah a victorious, as well as a happy people-The conduct and great success of his arms against Jeroboam, had well established the first ;-but his kingdom, which had been so many years the seat of war, had been so waisted and bewildered, that his reign good as it was, was too short to accomplish the latter. He died, and left the work unfinished for his son. Asa succeeded, in the room of Abijah his father, with the truest notions of religion and government that could be derived either from reaSon or experience. His reason told him, that GoD should be worshipped in simplicity and singleness of heart ;-therefore he took away the altars of the strange gods, and broke down their images. His experience told him, that the most successful wars, instead of invigorating, more ge
nerally drained away the vitals of government,and, at the best, ended but in a brighter and more ostentatious kind of poverty and desolation ;therefore he laid aside his sword, and studied the arts of ruling Judah with peace. Conscience would not suffer Asa to sacrifice his subjects to private views of ambition,—and wisdom forbade he should suffer them to offer up themselves to the pretence of public ones ;-since enlargement of empire, by the destruction of its people, (the natural and only valuable source of strength and riches,) was a dishonest and miserable exchange. -And, however well the glory of a conquest might appear in the eyes of a common beholder, yet, when bought at that costly rate, a father to his country would behold the triumph which attended it, and weep as it passed by him.-Amidst all the glare and jollity of the day, the parent's eyes would fix attentively upon his child;he would discern him drooping under the weight of his attire, without strength or vigor, his former beauty and comeliness gone off :-He would behold the coat of many colors stained with blood, and cry, Alas! they have decked thee with a parent's pride, but not with a parent's care and foresight.
With such affectionate sentiments of government, and just principles of religion, Asa began his reign A reign marked out with new æras, and a succession of happier occurrences, than what had distinguished former days.
The just and gentle spirit of the prince insensibly stole into the breasts of the people.-The men of Judah turned their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning-hooks. By industry and virtuous labor, they acquired, what by spoil and rapine they might have sought after long in vain.-The traces of their late troubles soon began to wear out.-The cities, which
had become ruinous and desolate (the prey of famine and the sword) were now rebuilt, fortified and made populous.- -Peace, security, wealth and prosperity, seemed to compose the whole history of Asa's reign.-O Judah! what could then have been done more than what was done to make thy people happy?
What one blessing was withheld, that thou shouldest ever withhold thy thankfulness?
That thou didst not continually turn thy eyes towards heaven with an habitual sense of GOD'S mercies, and devoutly praise him for setting Asa over you
Were not the public blessings, and the private enjoyments which every man of Judah derived from them, such as to make the continuance of them desirable ?—and what other way was there to effect it, than to swear unto the LORD, with all your hearts and souls, to perform the covenant made with your fathers?-to secure that favor and interest with the almighty Being, without which the wisdom of this world is foolishness, and the best connected systems of human policy are speculative and airy projects, without foundation or substance. The history of their own exploits and establishment since they had become a nation, was a strong confirmation of this doctrine.
But too free and uninterrupted a possession of GOD Almighty's blessings, sometimes (though it seems strange to suppose it) even tempts men to forget him,-either from a certain depravity and ingratitude of nature, not to be wrought upon by goodness, or that they are made by it too passionately fond of the present hour, and too thoughtless of its great Author, whose kind providence brought it about.- -This seemed to have been the case with the men of Judah:- -For notwithstanding all that God had done for them, in
placing Abijah, and Asa his son, over them, and inspiring them with hearts and talents proper to retrieve the errors of the foregoing reign, and bring back peace and plenty to the dwellings of Judah ;-yet there appears no record of any solemn and religious acknowledgment to GOD for such signal favors.-The people sat down in a thankless security, each man under his vine, to eat and drink and rose up to play ;—more solicitous to enjoy their blessings, than to deserve them.
But this scene of tranquillity was not to subsist without some change;—and it seemed as if providence at length had suffered the stream to be interrupted, to make them consider whence it flowed, and how necessary it had been all along to their support. The Ethiopians, ever since the beginning of Abijah's reign, until the tenth year of Asa's, had been at peace, or at least, whatever secret enmity they bore, had made no open attacks upon the kingdom of Judah. And indeed the bad measures which Rehoboam had taken in the latter part of his reign which immediately preceded theirs, seemed to have saved the Ethiopians the trouble. For Rehoboam, though, in the former part of his reign he dealt wisely; yet when he had established his kingdom, and strengthened himself, he forsook the laws of the Lord;-he forsook the counsel which the old men, gave him, and took counsel with the young men, which were brought up with him, and stood before him. Such ill advised measures, in all probability, had given the enemies of Judah such decisive advantages over her, that they had sat down contented, and for many years enjoyed the fruits of their acquisitions. But the friendship of princes is seldom made up of better materials than those which are every day to be seen in private life,-in which, sincerity and affection are not at all considered as