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had quite worn out the impressions of his yoke, and blessings began to multiply upon his hands, he might draw this curious conclusion :-That there was no being who was the author and bestower of them,mbut that it was their own arm, and the mightiness of Israelitish strength, which had put them, and kept them, in possession of so much happiness.
O Moses,-How would thy meek and patient spirit have been put to the torture by such a return ! If a propensity towards superstition in the Israelites did once betray thee into such an excess of anger, that thou threwest the two tables out of thy hands, which God had wrote, and carelessly hazardedst the whole treasure of the world, with what indignation and honest anguish wouldst thou have heard the scoffings of those who denied the hand which brought them forth, and said,—Who is God, that we should obey his voice !-- with what force and vivacity wouldst thou have reproached them with the history of their own nation that if too free an enjoy. ment of God's blessings had made them forget to look backwards, it was necessary to remind them, that their forefathers were Pharaoh's bondsmen in Egypt, without prospect of deliverance : that the chains of their captivity had been fixed and rivetted ,by a succession of four hundred and thirty years, without the interruption of one struggle for their liberty : that after the expiration of that hopeless period, when no natural means favoured the event, they were snatched, almost against their own wills, out of the hands of their oppressors, and led through an ocean of dangers, to the possession of a land of plenty : that this change in their affairs, was not the produce of chance or fortune,
nor was it projected or executed by any achieve. ment or plan of human device, which might soon again be defeated by superior strength or policy from without, or from force of accidents from within ; from change of circumstances, humours, and passions of men, all which generally had a sway in the rise and fall of kingdoms--but that all was brought about by the power and goodness of God, who saw and pitied the afflictions of a distressed people, and, by a chain of great and mighty deliverances, set them free from the yoke of oppression.
That since that miraculous escape, a series of . successes not to be accounted for by second causes and the natural course of events, had demonstrated not only God's providence in general, but his par. ticular providence and attachment to them ;--that nations greater and mightier than they, were driv. en out before them, and their lands given to them for an everlasting possession.
This was what they should teach their children, and their children's children after them. Happy generations, for whom so joyful a lesson was prepar. ed! happy indeed ! had ye at all times known to have made the use of it which Moses .continually exhorted, of drawing nigh unto God with all your hearts, who had been so nigh unto you."
And here let us drop the argument as it respects the Jews, and for a moment turn it towards our.. selves : the present occasion, and the recollection which is natural upon it, of the many other parts of this complicated blessing vouchsafed to us, since we became a nation, making it hard to desist from such an application.
I begin with the first in order of time, as well as
the greatest of national deliverances,our deliverance from darkness and idolatry, by the conveyance of the light which christianitybrought with it into Britain, so early as in the lifetime of the apostles themselves, or at furthest, not many years after their death.
Though this might seem a blessing conveyed and offered to us in common with other parts of the world, yet when you reflect upon this as a remote corner of the earth in respect of Judea —its situation and inaccessibleness as an island,—the little that was then known of navigation, or carried on of commerce, the large tract of land which to this day remains unhallowed with the name of Christ, and almost in the neighbourhood of where the first glad tidings of him were sounded,
one cannot but adore the goodness of God, and remark a more particular providence in its conveyance and establishment here, than amongst other nations upon the con. tinent--where, though the oppositions from error and prejudice were equal, it had not these natural impediments to encounter.
Historians and statesmen, who generally search every where for the causes of events but in the pleasure of Him who disposes of them, may make different reflections upon this. They may consider it as a matter incidental, brought to pass by the fortuitous ambition, success, and settlement of the Romans here ; it appearing that in Claudius's reign, when christianity began to get footing in Rome, near eighty thousand of that city and people were fixed in this island : as this made a free communication betwixt the two places, the way for the gospel was in course open, and its transition from the one to the other,
natural and easy to be accounted for, and yet ney. ertheless, providential. God often suffers us to pursue the devices of our hearts, whilst he turns the course of them, like the rivers of waters, to bountiful purposes. Thus, he might make that pursuit of glory inherent in the Romans, the engine to advance his own, and establish it here : he might make the wickedness of the earth to work his own righteousness, by suffering them to wander a while beyond their proper bounds, till his purposes were fulfilled, and “then put his hook into their nostrils," and lead those wild beasts of prey back again into their own land.
Next to this blessing of the light of the Gospel, we must not forget that by which it was preserved from the danger of being totally smothered and extinguished, by that vast swarm of barbarous nations which came down upon us from the north, and shook the whole world, like a tempest ; changing names and customs, and language and government, and almost the very face of nature, wherever they fixed. That our religion should be preserved at all, when every thing else seemed to perish which was capable of change ;-or, that it should not be hurt under that mighty weight of ruins, beyond the recovery of its former beauty and strength, the whole can be ascribed to no cause so likely as this, That the same power of God which sent it forth, was present to support it; when the whole frame of other things gave way.
Next in degree to this mercy of preserving Christianity from an utter extinction, we must reckon that of being enabled to preserve and free it from corruptions, which the rust of time, the abuses of
men, and the natural tendency of all things to degeneracy which are trusted to them, had from time to time introduced into it.
Since the day in which this reformation was begun, by how many strange and critical turns has it been perfected and handed down, if not entirely
without spot or wrinkle,”—at least, without great blotches or marks of anility!
Even the blow which was suffered to fall upon it shortly after, in that period where our history looks so unlike herself (stain'd, Mary, by thee, and disfigured by blood)—can one reflect upon it, without adoring the providence of God, which so speedily snatched the sword of persecution out of her hand, —making her reign as short as it was merciless!
If God then made us, as he did the Israelites, suck honey out of the rock, and oil out of the flinty rock, how much more signal was his mercy in giving them to us without money, without price, in those good days which followed, when a long and a wise reign was as necessary to build up our church, as a short one was before, to save it from ruins ! -The blessing was necessary,
and it was granted :
God having multiplied the years of that renowned princess to an uncommon number, giving her time, as well as a heart, to fix a wavering persecuted people, and settle them upon such a foundation as must make them happy :-the touchstone by which they are to be tried whom God has entrusted with the care of kingdoms.
Blessed be thy glorious name forever and ever, in making that test so much easier for the British than other princes of this earth ; whose subjects,