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A Sermon, Preached on Thursday, the 13th of December, 1832: being the day appointed by the Governor of the State of New York, to be observed therein as a day of public Thanksgiving to ALMIGHTY God for having removed the recent epidemic pestilence, and for the other blessings of his mercisul providence; in

St. Ann's Church, Brooklyn,



Psalm lxv. 1-"Praise waiteth for thee, O God, in Sion, and unto thee shall the vou

be performed.

It has pleased God, in making known his will to us, not to propound it in the way of dry argumentation, but to take advantage of circumstances and occasions as they have arisen: thus instructing us in a method by far the most impressive and interesting to a creature formed as man is, and making the plans of his providence subservient to the purposes of his grace.

This is exemplified in the psalm before us. The Israelites were commanded, during the continuance of the Jewish polity, to appear before the LORD at Jerusalem thrice in every year. At these divinely-appointed festivals, therefore, they left their respective villages, and, giving up for a time their worldly employments, went in companies to the holy city. In order to relieve the tedium of the way, to prepare their minds for the solemn duties in which they were to be engaged, and to make the journey itself a blessing, it was highly important that suitable services should be prepared. The Holy Spirit condescended to their aid ; he lighted up the sweet Psalmist of Israel with the fire of divine poetry; and the sacred ode from which the text is taken, is one, among several, which was sung in

VOL. III.-10

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chorus, as the favored people proceeded toward Zion, the perfection of beauty, -- and thought of the Church of which she was a figure.

I can hardly conceive any thing more affecting than the use of such language as that of our psalm under such circumstances; the villages of Palestine lest unprotected, (save by Jehovah's promised care,) while the people went to the metropolis to serve him ; the waving harvests and the romantic scenery around them -- the holy city, with all its temporal magnificence and all its elevating associations, in the distance. Surely we may well exclaim, “Happy were ye, O children of Israel, a people near unto JEHOVAH." “Blessed, O LORD, is the man whom thou choosest, and causest to approach unto thee, that he may dwell in thy courts; we shall be satisfied with the goodness of thy house, even of thy holy temple.”

And may we not, brethren, trace some analogy between the circumstances under wbich the psalm was composed, and those for which we are now convened ? As our Easter and Pentecost seem respectively correspondent to the Passover and the Feast of Weeks, so may the present occasion be thought not unlike that of Tabernacles; a festival which occurred in autumn after the ingathering of the vintage, at which the Jews expressed their gratitude to God for the mercies of the year, and illuminated their houses as a type of spiritual light and joy. You are not, indeed, as they were, beneath the burden of ceremonies ; you are not compelled to distant pilgrimages, or a prolonged abstraction of your time from the needful concerns of life. “ The liberty wherewith Christ maketh his people free" is your privilege ; but are you not hence called, if possible, to a deeper expression of thankfulness for abounding blessings? Should you not add your voice to the people of old, in saying, “Praise waiteth for thee, O God, in Zion; and unto thee shall the vow be performed !"

Two commanding points are suggested by the text.
I. A recognition of the divine mercies.
II. The effect this recognition should have on our minds.
I. We are invited to a recognition of the divine mercies.

When recalling our thoughts from the things of the world, which so constantly attract our attention and so greatly deceive our hearts, we endeavor to reflect on the mercies of God, we know not where to begin, nor where to end! If we turn our eyes to the countless worlds which the night reveals to us, or think of the myriads of creatures who every moment depend on the hand of God, well may we exclaim with the astonished and enraptured Psalmist, even in reference to the whole human race, What is man, that thou art mindful of him, or the son of man, that thou visitest bim!” (Ps. viii. 4.) Yes, brethren, we shall not deem amiss, when, contemplating the majesty of Him in whom it is a condescension to “behold the things which are in heaven and in the earth,” we suppose that the constant worship before the throne had not been interrupted, nor the glory of Jehovah's diadem been dimmed, had inan never been created, or, being created, had, like the ephemera, flitted through his short summer day of life, and lain down in oblivion ! If, then, millions upon millions of their successive generations have been so insignificant before the Almighty; if even man the righteous, man the unfallen, be of so little importance amidst the excellencies of an adoring universe; what shall we say of God's compassion to man the sinner, man the perverse, the rebel, the ingrate? — what, turning away our thoughts from the mass to the individual ; from mankind as stretched over their many countries, and divided by their many customs, to ourselves, as single pebbles, as it were, upon the vast line of shore? Do we wonder at a prophet's exclamation while dwelling upon this precise point, “Oh how precious are thy thoughts to me-ward, how great is the sum of them !” Must we not enter into the burst of rapture of an apostle, “Oh the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God !”

Brethren, behold the majesty and love of the Almighty. The glorious sun lights up the world; a thousand rivers feel his sway, a thousand valleys own his influence ; birds of every wing, beasts of differing form and babit ; insects, from the dull drone to the beautiful king-fly, rejoice in his beams. He shines perfectly for all, nor less perfectly for the minutest particle of inert matter : - so is it with our God; his glory covers the heavens; the earth is full of his praise. Ten thousand times ten thousand ministering spirits breathe the atmosphere of his love, or repose beneath the shade of his power; but, with all this circle of dependants, he looks in tenderness and care upon the lowliest child of Adam; yes, he shines as perfectly for him, as if there were no other creature in heaven or in earth! Oh, most amazing power of our God! How it baffles our thoughts ! how it teaches us our littleness ! how would it burden our mind were it not that the whole is a mystery of grace !

To touch, in a few words, on some particulars. Do we consider (that which is, indeed, too often treated as a light thing by the ungodly) our creation ? How great the power and goodness of God here displayed! We are, because God hath so willed. The very notion of creation implies extrinsic agency. We could no more have formed our bodies or given to our minds their various faculties, than a particle of matter could speak itself into being, or, joining with others, could acquire spontaneously organic formation. God was disposed to create a people for himself, to raise a generation on whom he might bestow eternal felicity; and, therefore, behold him attempering the dull clay, modelling the lamp of humanity, and taking a living coal from the altar of his self-existent fire to light it withal! “ Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid thine hand upon me; I will praise thee, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvellous are thy works, and that my soul knoweth right well: my substance was not hid from thee when I was made in secret; thine eyes did see my substance yet being imperfect, and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them."

And then, as to preservation, — the mercy of being kept day by day, and moment by moment; what is this but a continual creation? Yes, just as without the centripetal and centrifugal forces impressed on and continued to the heavenly bodies, only by the divine volition, universal nature would be disorganized,

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so without the constant care, the tender assiduity of our God, this continual remodelling, so to speak, our frames, we should once again seek our nothingness ; "there would be but a step between us and death.” Hear, therefore, the Prophet instructing us: “Hast thou not known, hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary?” Attend to the inspired David, addressing him as the “Shepherd of Israel, who neither slumbereth nor sleepeth,” and in gratefully adoring strains acknowledging him as “about his path, and about his bed, and spying out all his ways.

But in these things, we do but begin to trace the mercy of our heavenly Father; “Lo! these are parts of bis ways, but how small a portion is heard of him !" Had it been the design of the ALMIGHTY to create and preserve us, still, how, by a different economy, without our baving the least power to alter the arrangement, might he have made life a weary burden; and especially, as sinners, what reason might there have seemed for his doing so ? He might, as Dr. Paley says, " have formed our senses to be as many sores and pains to us, as they are now instruments of gratification and enjoyment; or have placed us amidst objects so ill suited to our perceptions, as to have continually offended us, instead of ministering to our refreshment and delight. He might have made, for example, every thing we tasted, bitter; every thing we saw, loathsome; every thing we touched, a sting ; every scent, distressing; and every sound, a discord." How, then, does the benevolence of God shine forth in the present distribution of his providence; how is man, even sinful man, taught, that “ He is good, and doeth good continually.” Even the most afflicted, if his mental vision be not dimmed by sin,) must perceive the goodness, as well as the wisdom of our heavenly Father's arrangements, and confess that the Almighty's dealings with him are different indeed from his deserts. But as to the majority of the human family, or, as to any individual, if the whole of his life (and not especial passages of sorrow) be considered, how certainly have mercies exceeded griefs, or at least, how much must we trace it to our own fault

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