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age. With the sea before them, and the exasperated Egyptians behind, and the high mountains circling them on either side, they seemed completely enclosed as in a trap. Yet this very dilemma proved but the preparation for their signal deliverance, and the no less signal overthrow of their infatuated pursuers. “That sea, which became a new and living way consecrated for the tribes of the Lord, was to prove the bed of death to Pharaoh and his hosts.'1
Again, how desperate was the condition of the Jews in the time of Esther. The sentence for their utter extermination had gone forth. Every thing was arranged; the day fixed, and to all appearance they were as dead men. But in the very crisis of their peril JEHOVAH interposed, and caused the destruction, intended for them, to reverberate upon the heads of their enemies. In like manner may the same Lord also deliver us, for his mercy endureth for ever. There are junctures, openings, opportunities in the worst circumstances of a country, that, if but properly seized and improved, may lead to its deliverance. And oh ! did we only avail ourselves of the present breathing-time, were Christians and the more virtuous portion of the community but true to their God and themselves, far as we have rushed toward the precipice of ruin, our eventual fall might yet be averted. The Lord is ever extremely reluctant to discard a nation that has once been in covenant with him, as our's has been. He hates putting away. Thus Daniel pleaded with him as a most prevailing consideration, “O LORD, hear; O LORD, forgive; O LORD, hearken and do; defer not, for thine own sake, O my God: for thy city and thy people are called by thy name."i And upon similar grounds did Moses and Asapho intercede with God for the same nation. Yea, how doth the Lord himself lament and yearn over Israel, saying in the very sweetest accents of mercy, “How shall I give thee up, Ephraim ? How shall I deliver thee Israel? how shall I make thee as Admah ? how shall I set thee as Zeboim ? (two of the devoted cities of the plain.) Mine heart is turned within me, repentings are kindled together.” 3 And so may the same gracious Being, ever slow to puvish, be debating with himself concerning us, and sayingHow shall I give thee up, Britain ? How shall I deliver thee, Ireland ? Mine heart is turned within me, my repentings are kindled together. I will not execute the fierceness of mine anger, I will not destroy Britain ; for I am God and not man ; the Holy One in the midst of thee. Oh, that it
1 MORRISON'S 'Key to the First Four Books of Moses.'
may indeed be so !
But let us recollect, God generally works through buman instrumentality. Therefore, as we love our country, as we would have a lengthening of our tranquillity, as we would have peace and happiness, truth and justice, religion and piety, established among us for all generations, let us do our utmost, by our example, our exertions, our contributions, to advance the cause of evangelical illumination throughout the empire. Let us be constantly planning for God: considering how we may most profitably employ our time, strength, and all our talents. And while we this do, let our prayer be that of the prophet, “O LORD, revive thy work in the midst of the years, in the midst of the years make known; in wrath remember mercy.”ı
i Daniel ix. 19.
2 See Psalm lxxix.
3 Hosea xi. 8, 9.
I conclude this Lecture with the following appropriate and impressive remarks of the late illustrious Mr. WILBERFORCE.
• We bear upon us but too plainly the marks of a declining empire. Who can say, but that the Governor of the universe, who declares himself to be a God who hears the prayers of his servants, may, in answer to their intercessions, for a while avert our ruin, and continue to us the fulness of those temporal blessings, which in such abundant measure we have hitherto enjoyed ? Men of the world, indeed, however they may admit the natural operation of natural causes, and may therefore confess the effects of religion and morality in promoting the well-being of the community, may yet, according to their humour, with a smile of complacent pity, or a sneer of supercilious contempt, read of the service which real Christians may render to their country, by
1 Habakkuk iii. 2.
conciliating the favour, and calling down the blessing of Providence. It may appear in their eyes an instance of the same superstitious weakness, as that which prompts the terrified inhabitant of Sicily to bring forth the image of his tutelar saint, in order to stop the destructive ravages of Etna. however, sure, if we believe the Scripture, that God will be disposed to favour the nation to which his servants belong; and that, in fact, such as they have often been the unknown and unhonoured instruments of drawing down on their country the blessings of safety and prosperity.
But it would be an instance in myself of that very false shame, which I have condemned in others, if I were not boldly to avow my firm persuasion, that to the decline of religion and morality our national difficulties must, both directly and indirectly, be chiefly ascribed ; and that my only solid hopes for the well-being of my country depend not so much on her fleets and armies, not so much on the wisdom of her rulers, or the spirit of her people, as on the persuasion, that she still contains many, who, in a degenerate age love and obey the Gospel of Christ; on the humble trust that the intercession of these may still be prevalent; that for the sake of these, Heaven may still look upon us with an eye of favour. 1
1 See View of Practical Christianity. Ch. VI. Sect IV.
THE BELIEVER'S PRIVILEGE.
“ But let all those that put their trust in thee rejoice : let them ever
shout for joy, because thou defendest them.”—Psalm v. 11.
WHILE Christians act in accordance with the directions of the inspired word, - while they live in the practice of habitual penitence and faith,-exert themselves for the glory of CHRIST, and cultivate a habit of prayer and intercession, it is their high privilege to rest and repose their minds on Him, with the most imperturbable security. “ For the eyes of the LORD are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers; but the face of the LORD is against them that do evil. And who is he that will harm
be followers of that which is good ? But and if ye suffer for righteousness' sake, happy are ye; and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled, but sanctify the Lord God in
• Behave towards him continually with that reverence, with that dutiful and obedient regard, which his unrivalled perfections and glories demand.'?
A proper, filial fear of God will annihilate the
your hearts.” 1
I i Peter iii. 12-15.
2 Dr, DODDRIDGE's Expositor.