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dressed to the magistrates of Massachu- / which had actually commenced, and setts. No relaxation of the policy of bore an alarming aspect to all the inMassachusetts towards him was pro- fant settlements. duced by this communication, though he In 1651, Williams was deputed to was permitted to land and to proceed to visit London again. On his return he Providence. There he was greeted by brought a letter from Sir Henry Vane, a voluntary expression of the attach- inviting the planters to a closer union ment and gratitude of its inhabitants. with each other. This letter, aided by They met him at Seekonk, with four- the urgent and constant solicitations of teen canoes, and carried him across the Williams, finally restored peace and river.
union to the colony, which, during his Soon after this event he had oppor- absence had been rent by many divisions. tunity to interpose beneficially in behalf He was several times, both before and of the colonists. He had a principal after this, elected to the office of presihand in putting an end to the war be- dent or governor of this colony,“ by tween the Narragansets and Mohegans, the free votes of the freemen.”
THE BLESSING OF THE CONGREGATIONS.
A SERMON DELIVERED BY THE LATE REV. ANDREW FULLER, AT MAZE POND,
MAY 19, 1799.
“Bless ye God in the congregations, cven the Lord, from the fountain of Israel. There is little Benjamin with their ruler, the princes of Judah and their council, the princes of Zebulan, and the princes of Naphtali. Thy God hath commanded thy strength : strengthen, O God, that which thou hast wrought for us.”—Psalm lxviii. 26-28.
It is very probable, from the first thousands of Levites, and others who verse of this psalm, that it was sung at might join with them. the removal of the ark, since, according What are called in the 24th verse to the account we have in Numbers x. “the goings of God in the sanctuary," 35, those were the words that were seem to describe the solemn exercises pronounced upon the removal of the of religious worship. “I have seen thy sacred chest. “Let God arise, and let goings, O God, even the goings of my his enemies be scattered ; let them also God in the sanctuary.” The Psalmist that hate him fice before him."
goes on to describe with what joy the In the time of David, after Jerusalem worship was intermixed and then adds, was chosen and fixed upon by divine in a way of joyful congratulation or appointment as the place where God rather, perhaps, in a way of exultation, would put his name, David, with great “Bless ye God in the congregations, devotion, and Israel with him, went in even the Lord, from the fountain of search of the ark of the covenant; they Israel.” There is little Benjamin makheard of it at Ephrata, and they found ing a part of the assembly, and there it in the fields of the wood, and they are the princes of Zebulun, and the carried and placed it in the holy place princes of Naphtali, there they are, all in the city of David, and I imagine uniting in the solemn exercise of divine that this psalm was sung, perhaps, as worship. they passed along, hy thousands and We may consider the passage as a
“* Bless ye
beautiful representation of the worship confines of the Holy Land. Zebulun of God. Let us attempt a little to ex- and Naphtali were the tribes that were plain and then to apply it.
situate upon the northern confines toWe may first offer a few explanatory wards Tyre and Sidon, Judah and remarks.
God in the con- Benjamin in the southern; so that to gregations." The congregations of say there are Benjamin, and Judah, Israel were of two kinds, they were the and Zebulun, and Naphtali, was, in less and the greater. By the former I effect, to say, there is all Israel, from mean the stated worship every sabbath the fountain head of Israel even to the day. It was the common practice of remotest streams. It must needs be a the Israelites to worship God one day very pleasant sight to David, that pious in seven, and that in the later ages in prince, to see all the tribes of God, who places called by the name of syna- had at times been embroiled in civil gogues. Besides this, they had their contentions and keen animosities, all extraordinary congregations, namely, assembled round the altar of God, and three times a year. All the tribes of mingling together their praises to him. Israel went up to the testimony of Remark, fourthly, that these tribes Israel; there they formed one great which are particularly named Benjacongregation. David may, probably, min, Judah, Zebulun, and Naphtali, refer to these different congregations of had each some circumstances pertaining Israel, when he says, “ Bless ye God in to them which rendered their assemthe congregations;" whether in the less bling together in the solemn worship or in the greater, let God be the object of God very interesting. With regard whom you bless and praise.
to Benjamin he is described as a little We may remark, secondly, that all tribe — “little Benjamin.” You have Israel is enjoined thus to worship God, not forgotten the reason of that appel“ Bless ye God from the fountain of lation being given to him. You reIsrael.” I suppose the meaning is from member the tragical story recorded in the fountain head to the remotest and the last chapter of the Judges, when most distant stream. From the first to there had like to have been a tribe the last ; from Dan, as we should say, lacking in Israel. You remember that to Beersheba. Their business in all Benjamin, by wickedly adhering to the was to bless God, who had eminently conduct of the inhabitants of Gibeah, blessed them. Oh! it is a happy sight, plunged themselves into a war with when we see all the Israel of God unit- their brethren, and, though successful ing together in one society to show in their first attacks, yet were ultimately forth his praise.
nearly blotted out from under heaven. Remark in the third place, that not You will remember that there were only were all the tribes enjoined to only a few hundreds of them left, and bless God, but all the tribes were sup- that all Israel wept over their brother posed to be present on this solemn Benjamin, fearing lest there should be occasion. “There is little Benjamin a tribe lacking in Israel. From that with their ruler, the princes of Judah day forward there was great propriety and their council, the princes of Zebu- when speaking of that tribe in giving lun, and the princes of Naphtali.” It it the name of little Benjamin. But, is probable that these four tribes are oh! what joy must it afford to the named by way of selection,-a part put heart of David to look at that little for the whole, and that with great tribe, which was the other day nearly reason, inasmuch as they inhabited the extinct, and to say, “ There is little Benjamin with their ruler." Still he the people which sat in darkness saw stands in his place with the rest round great light.” It was in that dark part the altar of God. Oh, what a lovely of the nation our Lord Jesus Christ sight!
spent the earlier period of his life. Another circumstance that attached IIence, also, the common language used to these tribes which are mentioned was in the time of Jesus Christ,“ Can any this, -Judah and Benjamin had within good thing come out of Nazareth ?” a very few years been embroiled in a These Galileans were treated with scorn, civil war.
You know the house of Saul with contempt, as being the most ignopertained to Benjamin, and the house rant, uncultivated sort of people, that of David to Judah, and they were were to be found amongst all the tribes scarcely emerged from the calamities of of Israel-a people under great disadthat civil war when this song was sung, vantages, a people encompassed with and when this solemn assembly of all darkness, and who sat in the region of the tribes was convened. Now think the shadow of death; but, notwithwhat the heart of pious David must standing this, it is recorded that they feel in seeing his own tribe Judah, and were there engaged in the solemn worthe tribe of Benjamin with their rulers, ship of God, making a part of the forgetting their animosities, burying all tribes of Israel when they presented their revenge, and holding one united themselves before the Lord. Real assembly around the altar of God. godliness unites the learned and the With what affection David speaks even rude, the polite Greek and the unof that tribe that had waged war polished barbarian. There is Judah against him,—“There is little Benjamin with his princes with all their digniwith their ruler, and the princes of ties, and there are Zebulun and NaphJudah and their council," forgetting all tali, notwithstanding all the disadvantheir animosities, and embracing one tages arising from their darkness and another with brotherly love. Oh, my their ignorance. Blessed be God, the brethren! if anything will make a worship established in his word makes people forget their enmities, it is true no distinction, it embraces in one holy religion, it is the religion of the gospel, and happy society all classes and disthat will furnish a grave in which to tinctions of men ; it embraces in one bury all our bitterest animosities and society the rich and the poor, the strifes, and will bind all hearts toge- learned and the ignorant, and this ther in the tenderest ties of brotherly consideration sweetens public worship. love!
I pass on to remark, fifthly, they are But, further, with respect to Zebulun taught to ascribe all strength to God, and Naphtali, there is something pecu- " Thy God hath commanded thy liar in reference to them, they being strength.” Probably this may refer to situate at a great distance from the their national strength which greatly seat of empire and the seat of religion, consisted in union. Since the civil were sunk, in a great degree, into bar- wars in the early part of David's reign barism and ignorance. We know that had subsided, and all the tribes had it was so at different periods with those united as one man, and had anointed distant tribes; hence these expressions, David king in Hebron, from that time both in the Old and the New Testament, they were greatly strengthened as a “ The land of Zebulun and the land of people. God had so ordained it; David Naphtalim, by the way of the sea be- did not ascribe it to the superiority of yond Jordan, Galilee of the gentiles, his own prowess, he did not ascribe it
to his own fortune in war, he did not true religion brought to unite in love. ascribe it to any mere human means, We are also furnished with a lesson of but to God who commanded it, as if he grateful acknowledgment for the merhad said, It is he that has given us cies already received,—“Thy God hath one heart and one spirit; it is he that commanded thy strength;" and of has defended us against our surround- earnest importunity for mercios still ing enemics, and what we have of needed, “Strengthen, O God, that which brotherly love, and spiritual union, thou hast wrought for us." and true religion, of that righteousness Let us review these topics. which is the strength and glory of a In the first place, in all our assemnation, what we have of this, it is thy blies together to worship God, let our God, O Israel, that has commanded or worship be the expression of a grateful that has produced it, and give him the heart. Can you conceive of a more glory.
delightful employment than to meet Finally, to these acknowledgments he with your brethren, the friends of your adds a prayer which he offers up, in common Lord, to bless his name? This which the people were invited to join is our proper work as Christians; I with him, “Strengthen, O God, that might say it is our proper work as men, which thou hast wrought for us.” God for man is the only inhabitant of this had wrought much for them-they world capable of blessing God; all the were considered as strong, but yet they works of God praise him, all things were not so strong but that they needed that exist in the globe offer up a tribute the renewing of their strength ; no of praise to him that supports them ; people, no community, no church, no but man is the only being that underindividual is so strong, as not to need stands what IIe is. Bless ye God then, prayer being added to praise-as not ye high priests of God's creation, preto need the supplication to be continu- sent the offering of the world to God; ally put up, "Strengthen, O God, that sing ye praises with understanding. which thou hast wrought for us." But seeing that man has apostatized
These few remarks may suflice by from God, that thereby God has lost his way of exposition. I proceed, secondly, just revenue of glory, and that no to apply the subject.
one possesses a heart to bless his name Methinks, my brethren, the ideas but he who is renewed by the Spirit of that are here suggested furnish us with God, let it be our employment, our a delightful model Christian wor- delight, “ Bless ye God in the congregaship. Oh! that it may be said of our tions," pour forth a grateful heart in assemblies, as it is said of this solemn all our assemblies; bless him not only assembly, “There is little Benjamin,” for the common mercies of life, not and so on. There is every one in his only for the means of grace, bless him place. Particularly we are here fur- for the hope of eternal life, and, what nished with a lesson or with lessons of is still more, for his unspeakable giftgratitude in all our assemblies, “ Bless the gift of his only begotten Son. ye God in the congregations." We are Never let there be a meeting together, furnished with a lesson of diligence in never let there be an assembly, but all our assemblies,—let every one be there shall be some grateful expresthere. We are furnished with a lesson sion of love and thanks to him that of unity, brotherly love, brotherly for- died for us and rose again. “Bless ye giveness, when we see that tribes which God in the congregations ;" praise is had hitherto been discordant were by comely for the upright, all his creatures praise him, but his saints must bless ruler, excelled Zebulun and Naphtali in him. Israel had reason to bless God, their knowledge, perhaps, it may be and great reason, but how much more said that Zebulun and Naphtali equally reason, my dear friends, has the Chris- excelled Judah and Benjamin in their tian ! God seems to be particularly diligence. “There is little Benjamin," delighted with the offering of blessing
and it would have been a shame if he and praise,—“Whoso offereth praise," had not been there for the house of said he, “glorifies me.”
God was in his own tribe, he lived, as it Beware that in your assemblings to- were, next door to the temple. There gether you come not with a murmur-is Judah and his council, and it was to ing, fretful spirit. Is it not the case, be expected that he should be there, that many of us come to the house of for it was also next door to Judah's God with our thoughts greatly occupied tribe, but when it is said there is Zebuabout disappointments, difficulties, lun, and there is Naphtali, tribes who troubles, disagreeable circumstances in had to travel, perhaps, two hundred the world, and there sit, and muse, miles and back three times a yea and pore over them? Is it to bless making not less than twelve hundred God in the congregation that such have miles in the year, and yet they were come ? No. If he has taken away, there equally with those that lived next as in the case of Job, our herds or our door; is not this, I ask, to the honour flocks, and what more, if he has even of those tribes ? It must have been a cut off our offspring, if we have been lovely sight to conceive that all the bereaved of our children, and stripped distinct tribes were going up to the naked, still let us bless God in the house of God, to the testimony of congregation, saying, with the holy Israel ; a lovely sight to see them going man, “ The Lord gave and the Lord from strength to strength, or from hath taken away, blessed be the name company to company, the inhabitants of the Lord.” The tears of a mourner of the most distant towns forming their in God's house were considered as de company, and then the next, and thus filing his altars. Let us mourn and accumulating their company from hunmourn deeply for sin, but tears of dis- dreds to thousands, and from thousands content, and fretfulness, and unthank- to millions, till at last they all arrived fulness, defile the altar of God still. before God in Zion. And how delightEnter not into his sanctuary loaded and ful it is to see how God blessed the encumbered with such thoughts as Israelites in these journeys, and prothese, but “ bless ye God in the congre- vided for them. The rain, also, filled gation.”
the pools, and thus they were furnished But, secondly, we are here furnished with a supply. It was in one of these with a lesson of diligence in worship. large companies that our Lord's parents Those who neglect the public worship travelled three days on their return to of God in consequence of trifling diffi- their own country without missing their culties, show that their hearts are not son, on account of the vast largeness of interested, and when such persons do the company. How pleasant, how at times attend it is not to be expected cheering, to see these distant tribes that they shall profit. One cannot there ! nay, I had almost said, how prohelp being delighted at seeing the dis- voking. I do not know how it is in the tant tribes all meeting together for the city, but in the country we have someworship of God, and, methinks, if Judah times to remark that those who have to and his princes, and Benjamin with his travel ten or twelve miles to a place of