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« and the comfort of the Holy Ghost, were multipli" ed."*
Continued prosperity, however, is by no means to be expected in this vale of tears: and, as in life we should daily prepare for death; so in peace and comfort we should be habitually ready for trouble and confict. The resolution of the text, therefore, while it fairly admits of the use which has been just made of it, especially implies, that having been answered in the late day of distress, we should in every future danger and difficulty, call upon the LORD, even as long as we live.
Wordly men have a great variety of expedients, to which they have recourse, according to the suggestions of political wisdom, or worldly discretion: but the Christian, acting in his proper character, has but one expedient. He may indeed, either in publick or private life, attend to proper measures subordinately: but his grand resort is, that of Jacob, when he wrestled with God and prevailed; that of David, when in his trouble he called on the LORD and he heard him; that of Hezekiah, when he and the prophet Isaiah “ lifted up their prayer
for the remnant that was left.” We have an omnipotent Father and Friend, who is infinite. ly kind and faithful: and whatever means we use, our grand concern is to prevail with him by prayer, and then we shall also prevail with man.
We read that Asa sought the Lord in extreme
danger, and was mercifully delivered: but afterwards, when he was alarmed by another enemy, he hired the assistance of an idolatrous prince, and tempted him to break his league with the king of Israel, by giving him the consecrated treasures of the temple. How absurd was this conduct! He was rebuked for it, and in consequence died under a cloud, and left his character in obscurity. But David determined to “ call on the “LORD as long as he lived:” and Hezekiah, it may be supposed, did the same, when he had received so astonishing a deliverance, in answer to prayer, from the power and rage of Sennacherib. After such a signal interposition of his almighty Friend, it must have been very strange indeed, if he ever betook himself to another refuge.
But the answers, vouchsafed to our supplications, not only encourage our renewed and persevering prayers; they even demand them. When we bless our God for answering us, we make an occasional acknowledg. ment of his condescending and compassionate love: but while we continue, on every emergency to call upon him, we make a constant and permanent return of gratitude and becoming confidence. It is true, this consideration implies, that “the LORD's ways are not as “ our ways, nor his thoughts as our thoughts; for as “ the heavens are higher than the earth; so are his ways “ higher than our ways, and his thoughts higher than
our thoughts." But this is the very circumstance, which most honours his adorable name. If we apply to any supposed friend, during urgent distress, and meet with a repulse; we are afterwards disheartened of his power,
from again having recourse to him: and if we repeatedly have been assisted, we grow ashamed of being so exceedingly troublesome and encroaching. Neither of these difficulties, however, take place in our communion with the infinite God. He is always ' more * ready to hear than we are to pray:' and the number, and largeness, and perseverance of our requests, are peculiarly pleasing to him, and honourable to the riches
grace, his liberality, and compassion. He counts himself glorified by our constant and renewed applications; and is offended, when we do not“ make
our requests known unto him."
Suppose a father, possessed of immense wealth, high in dignity, and eminent for liberality, had a son, whom he had educated with a wise union of affection and authority. He had never denied him any reasonable request; he had readily forgiven many faults into which his child had been betrayed; and he had anticipated and exceeded many of his wishes. Should this son, when in any difficulty, go to inferior persons to beg their assistance; would it not be a degradation of himself, and a dishonour to his parent? Might no: his father thus expostulate with him, “Did I ever refuse you any thing proper for you? Was I ever wanting in love and consideration? Am I not sufficiently rich? Why then disgrace yourself and me, by seeking help from others, who will either think I want affection or power to help you? Make me your friend; and you will have no occasion to apply elsewhere; for I shall never refuse, except when your good requires it; and allow me this, that I exceed you in wisdom and expe.
rience.'--Such an address would be conclusive: and though we must not presume to apply the whole abso. lutely to God; yet surely the case admits of a sober application of this language to the subject before us: “ Therefore will I call upon thee, as long as I live.”
Applying these thoughts to our present subject; we remember, that, when peace is made between contending nations, it is common for the military spirit to abate, and the national force to be reduced. A standing army in times of peace would be too expensive, and also dangerous to our liberty. Instead of recruiting our troops, many are disbanded. This might prove dan. gerous, but that, alas! peace seldom takes place, till all parties are so unable to continue the exertions, that all are alike disposed to lessen the expences and publick burdens: and thus the proportion still remains nearly the same.
But the case is vastly different, as to that warfare, in which, as Christians, we are and must be engaged. The powers of darkness, and their abettors of every description, will keep up, and if possible, increase, their forces, and persevere in their opposition to the cause of Christ and his holy religion. Yet on the other hand, we should, and may, without national expence, danger, or impropriety, keep up our standing army of those who, by their constant prayers and exertions, endeavour to avert the wrath of God from a guilty land: and we may use all proper means of recruiting it by new accessions. Here especially, our safety lies. It has been shewn, what an improvement would have been made in Sodom, if twenty persons like Abraham had been raised up in that city. Let us then remember, that the increase of such characters is the grand security for our land. And let no peace or prosperity cause us to lose sight of this grand object, the maintaining and improving the religious principle, and adding to the number of pious people, in the nation. This alone can secure us against future contingences. It is not only, or principally, from avowed infidelity, that we are endangered. The able commanders of the opposing army, know, that it will equally answer their purpose, to bring in superstition and popery, enthusiasm and antinomian licentiousness, or pharisaical self-confidence, or dead and notional orthodoxy, or evangelical lukewarmness and formality. We are in danger on every side. May we watch and be sober!
Indeed our chief danger arises from relaxing our vigilance. Let then all, in their families, circles, and congregations, consider what means can be used, to promote the growth of genuine Christianity, which is the best preservative against every species of impiety and false religion.
But especially, my Christian brethren, let us make it a matter of conscience, to offer up our daily prayers, in our families and closets, both for the temporal and the religious interests of our beloved country. Let us pray, that every faithful minister of Christ may, not only be successful in bringing sinners to repentance and the knowledge of salvation, but be instrumental also in raising up others to preach the “glorious gos“ pel of God our Saviour:” that every Christian may both adorn his profession, and bring others to attend