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Nations is laid down, Jer. xviii. 7, 8, 9, 1o. At what Instant I fall speak concerning a Nation, and concerning a Kingdom, 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 that I thought to do unto them; and at what Time I shall speak concerning a Kingdom, to build, and to plant it, if it do Evil in my Sight, that it obey not my Voice, then I will repent of the Good wherewith I said I would benefit them. It is an Observation which hath generally held in all Nations and Ages, that Righteousness exaltetb a Nation, but Sin, i. e. abounding Vice and Wickedness, is a Reproach to any People. It bringeth Disgrace and Misery upon them. Prov. xiv. 34. If we consult the History of Mankind, we shall find that it hath usually happened, that when a People have been remarkable for Justice, Temperance, Industry, and a Zeal for the public Good, they have preserved their Liberties, they have prospered in their Undertakings, and have been in high Reputation and Esteem. Nor can any Instance be brought of a Nation's being given up to exterminating Plagues and Calamities, whilft Religion, Probity, and Virtue flourished among them. But when they have degenerated from their national Virtue, when Fallhood and Perfidy, Injustice and Violence, Luxury and Debauchery, and a Diffoluteness of Manners, with a Contempt of Religion, have generally prevailed among them, they have fallen into many Calamities, they have been caft down from their Prosperity and Glory, and have been deprived of those Advantages they so much abused. God may indeed, in his great Wisdom and Patience, long bear with a sinful degenerate People. He may suffer them to enjoy great Prosperity for a while, and may pour forth many Blessings upon them, even when they are in a corrupt State. For the Methods of Providence towards Societies are generally flow though sure; and the Punishments that are inflicted upon Nations seldom come in a sudden and extraordinary Way, but are for the most part fo ordered, as to appear to be the proper Effects of their own Conduct. The Corruption usually cometh on by Degrees, and doth not become universal
And there is often a Remnant of good Men still continued among them, even in a Time of great and general Depravity, and for their Sakes Judgment may be deferred. God first usually sendeth lesser monitory Judgments upon a People, and if they are not reclaimed by these, he sheweth his Justice and Righteousness,
by sending more grievous and dreadful Calamities, and sometimes by utterly subverting their State and Polity: And it is observable, that in such Cases God is represented in Scripture as having a Respect to the Sins of former Generations as well as the present; since it is the same Nation or Body politic which still subfifteth in these different Generations; and when the Iniquities of that Body are grown up to such a Height, and have continued so long, that he doth not fee fit to bear with them any longer, the Measure of their Iniquities is faid to be full, the Time is come for executing a severe Vengeance upon them, and the Punishment falls the heavier for having been so long delayed.
It doth not at all cast a Reflection upon the Righteousness of God, that it frequently happeneth, that those whom he maketh use of for executing his Judgments upon guilty Nations, are themselves chargeable with Injustice and Cruelty, and have nothing in View but the gratifying their own Ambition, Avarice, and Lust of Power. This doth not hinder, but that those Evils and Calamities which they are the Instruments of inflicting, are just and right, as proceeding from the supreme Governor of the World. And it is usually so ordered, that they who have been Instruments in
punishing punishing others, are afterwards, at that Time which appeareth fittest to infinite Wisdom, justly punished in their Turn for their Vices, their Pride, their Violence and Injustice. Thus God threatens, that after the Allyrian, whom he calls the Rod of his Anger, had performed his whole Work upon Mount Zion, and on Jerufa'em, he would punish the Fruit of the stout Heart of the King of Asyria, and the Glory of his high Looks. Ifa. X. 5, 6, 7, 8, 12. And this was signally verified in the Event; first, in the sudden Ruin of Sennacherib's mighty Army, and afterwards in the utter Destruction of that haughty Empire, and laying waste Nineveh, the Seat of it. The same Observation holdeth concerning Babylon, which for a while triumphed over all Opposition, and erected a most potent and wide extended Monarchy, but at length paid dear for her Infolence, Oppression,
and Violence. Her Foundations are fallen (faith the Prophet Jeremiah) ber Walls are thrown down ; for it is the Vengeance of the Lord: Take Vengeance on her; as he hath done, do unto her. Jer. 1. This Vengeance began to be executed upon Babylon, by Cyrus the Founder of the Perhan Empire. And when afterwards the Persians became infamous for their Pride, Oppression, Luxury, and all manner of Diffoluteness, their Empire was, through
the righteous Judgment of God, totally fubverted by Alexander the Great. And that mighty Conqueror himself was soon after cut off in the midst of his Years and of his ambitious Projects; and his Empire was divided by furious Contenders, and at length the several Parts of it swallowed up by the Power of the Romans. This People by their Justice, Fortitude, and Temperance, theit Contempt of Luxury, and Zeal for the public Good, had risen, through the favourable Interposition of Divine Providence, from very small Beginnings, till they formed the mightiest Empire that ever was upon Earth. But when they fell from these Virtues, and became uns juft, perfidious, oppressive, and abandoned to Diffoluteness and Corruption of all Kinds, they were first, through the just Judgment of God, torn asunder by bloody intestine Wars; and afterwards deprived of their boafted Liberties by domestic Tyrants; and at length their Empire, which seemed to be so strongly establish ed, that nothing could overturn it, was subverted by an Inundation of barbarous Nations, who were the Instruments in the Hands of God for executing his Judgments upon them for the Wickedness, the Vices, the Cruelties, and Oppressions of fo many Ages.