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of them! Can we justly promise ourselves, that because we have fucceeded hitherto, in spite of all our fins and provocations, we ihall succeed always ? or reft secure, that the mercies we have received, great as they are, were meant only as carnests and pledges of ftill greater, which are to follow?
Thus indeed we feem to think, and thus the prefent happy prospect of our affairs, humanly fpeaking, may feem to promise. And yet the sudden and surprifing turns, we ourselves have felt or seen, should not, methinks, suffer us too forwardly to admit such thoughts, which may indeed (if God thould be tempted from thence to rebuke our vanity) contribute to blast the fairest hopes, but can be of no use towards rendering them effectual. Too great a confidence in sucu cefs is the likelieft way to prevent it; because it hinders us from exerting our strength to the utmost, and making the best use of the advantages which we enjoy. It renders us indulgent to our lusts and vices, careless of approving and recommending ourselves to God by religious duties, and, iby that means, fecuring the continuance of his goodness to us.
It is like the conceit about abfolute (election to eternal life ; which some enthusiasts entertaining, bave been thereby made more remifs in the practice of those virtues which alone could secure their title to heaven.
Let us then lay aside these “ vain and finful o imaginations," left the consequence of them should be, in our case, what it was in king David's, «God did hide liis face, and he was « troubled.” VOL. II.
III. This is the Third point, to which I pro. pofed to speak. But 'tis an unwelcome talk, a subject which I care not much to infift on; and which, after all, I trust in God, we may not be concerned in : Because it is (I am sure) still in our power to secure to ourselves an interest in the divine mercies that are yet to come, and to lengthen the courte of our present prosperity ; if we do but in good earnest betake ourselves to the use of those means which are prescribed in the text, Humiliation and prayer.
“ Then cried I unto “ Thee, O Lord, and gat me to my God right “ humbly."
IV. These are the duties, which we profess, on this folemn day, to perform. If with a true Christian lowliness of heart, and a devout fervency of soul we perform them, we shall find, that they will turn to a greater account to us, than all the warlike preparations in which we truft, than the alliances of our potent friends, or even the fears of our disheartened enemies; that “ they will fight for us better than a mighty “ Thield, and strong spear.” If we do indeed humble ourselves before God this day, not merely by the outward solemnities of a fast, but by afflicting our fuls (as well as bodies) for our fins, by emptying our hearts of all those vain and swelling thoughts, which prosperity hath infused into them ; by acknowledging ourselves unworthy of the least of God's mercies, at the same time that we enjoy the greatest; by afcribing to Him, all the glory of what is past, and by renouncing all
reliance on the arm of flesh for the future ; by deploring the mighty guilt of our transgressions, and renewing fincere vows of obedience : If, I fay, we do in this manner fanctify the present fast, if we “ seek unto God thus betimes, and “ make our supplication to the Almighty ; surely “ he will now awake for us, and make the habi« tation of our righteousness prosperous ;” and, “ though our beginning hath not been (mall, yet « our latter end shall greatly increase," Job viii. 6.7. No fight is so pleasing to God, no service is fu acceptable to him, as the public humiliations of a thankful people, in the midst of their successes and victories. Mighty is the efficacy of fuch folemn intercessions, even to avert judgments that are already denounced (as appears from the case of the Ninevites ) how much more available then must they be, to secure the continuance of blessings, and to confirm and establish the
profperity which God hath already given us?
Lactantius and St. Auftın are not afraid to confirm by their fuffrage the observation made by the heathen writers *, that the flourishing estate of the Roman empire was owing to the religious disposition of that people; by which they ascribed all their successes to the heavenly powers they worshipped, and still advanced in their regard for religion, as they advanced in greatness. Diis Te minorem quod geris, imperas ; faid a Roman to his country-men, at that point of time, when their affairs were most prosperous : It was because they carried themselves with a due sub
million to the Gods; that mankind was made subject to them. Hath the revelation of the gofpel of Ghrist inade any change in the methods of God's dealing with kingdoms and nations? If not-and the reverente, which these heathens expressed towards their falfe deities, was so highly rewarded, may not We Christians, when we thus offer up our devotions to the true God, expect also a bleiling upon them? We certainly may; if they come not from the lips, but the heart i from an heart filled with a grateful fenfe of mercies received, and firmly resolved to do every thing in its power toward deserving new ones: From an heart, so affected as good David's was (not when he said, “In my prosperity I shall “ never be moved;" but) when he had learnt to secure and increase his profperity, by an humble behaviour towards God and a dutiful reliance on his providence; and did, under thefe convictions, compose the following hymn, to be ufed (as it thould feem) in the public fervice of the church, on some folemn day of humiliation." Lord” (faith he)"iny heart is not haughty, nor mine eyes lofty,
s neither do I exercise iny felf in great matters, or “ in things too high for me, Pfal. cxxxi. 1. As mighty things as thou haft done for me, I have not been exalted, either in heart, or look, on that account; or have busied myself in searching out the secret reasons of thy distributing profpesity and adversity in such a manner as beft plear eth thee. “Surely I have behaved and quieted “ myfelf, as a child that is weaned of his mother;" I have imitated the humble, modeft, and tractable temper of the infuni-state ; " Yea, my foul is
“ even as a weaned child,” it is as resigned to thy guidance, as entirely dependent on thy care and goodness. Upon which it very naturally follows
Let Israel” (that is, every Izraelite indeed, who can thus truly say of himself) " trust in the “Lord, from henceforth, and for ever !” for there can be no surer way to success, than by disclaiming all confidence in ourselves, and referring the events of things to God with an implicit affiance
Come on then, let as many of us, as have not been tempted by our prosperity to entertain vain thoughts, or are now resolved to dismiss them, bow our felves before God,"both publicly and privately, imploring the continuance of his blessings on that righteous cause wherein we are engaged, and on those, who by their counsels, courage, or conduct uphold and strengthen it; especially on our most gracious QUEEN, whose exemplary piety and virtues are its greatest ornament and advantage, its chief support and stay : who, as the hath the fucceffes of David, so hath received them with the same religious humility he did ; and hath, by that means, we trust, laid a foundation for more; which (if our vices hinder not) he in due time will bestow, who regardeth the lowliness of his handmaiden, but scattereth the proud in the imagia nation of the hearts : Who putteth down the mighty from his feat ; but hath exalted (and will exalt) the humble and meek.
To him Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, he ascribed
all dominion and praise, row, and for evermore. Amen!