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Our fathers understood not thy wonders in Egypt; they remembered not the multitude of thy mercies; out provoked him at the sea, even at the Red sea.
PROVIDENCE, in all its parts and methods of acting, seems to carry on this great design, not to leave itself without witness in the world. And for this cause it gives greater or less manifestations of its superintendency over affairs here below, those especially relating to the church, according to the proportion of the church’s exigencies and occasions. Which when they are so great and arduous, that they seem even to call out for help from Heaven, and to exceed all possibility of redress but by the interposal of a miracle, why then miracles come in season, and shall be shewn, as being the rarities and reserves of Heaven, designed to recover upon men’s hearts a belief of that Providence that the constant, uninterrupted course of natural causes is apt to obscure and to render the less observable.
But in no passage since the creation did Omnipotence ever so eminently make bare its arms and shew itself, as it did in those stupendous proceedings in Egypt, following miracle with miracle, till at length, even in spite of power, and malice, and obstinacy itself, it brought out the armies of Israel free and victorious 188from amidst the iron-grinding jaws of a long, a cruel, and unsupportable bondage and subjection.
And that the world may see that the hand of divine power is not yet shortened, nor the bowels of divine goodness straitened, but that God is as able and ready to save his church as ever; succeeding ages have not been wholly without some declarations of it, in several transcendent and miraculous instances of help and deliverance; when once the straitness and vast difficulty of affairs has baffled and laughed at all assistances of created power, and so made the omnipotent author of the deliverance visible and conspicuous.
And amongst these supernatural instances of temporal mercy, vouchsafed to mankind in these latter ages of the world, there is none certainly superior, if any parallel, to that glorious masterpiece of Providence, to the commemoration of which we are called by this day’s solemnity. For if ever the miracles of Egypt were reacted, it has been upon the scene of England; which stands, as it were, a copy and a lasting transcript both of the bondage and the deliverance. Both church and state were under the yoke and lash of remorseless tyrants and taskmasters. Tyrants resolved to have bound the bonds of their captivity for ever, and never to have let them go: nor was there any hope or likelihood of it, till God himself undertook the business, and plagued the nation, by shaking the threatening sword of a civil war over it, that had so lately turned all into blood; by blasting it with the hail and stones of several insulting governments, then as changeable as the weather; also pestering the land with the frogs of this sect, and the lice of that, and the locusts of another: likewise 189confounding our English Egyptians with the thick darkness of faction and ignorance; and lastly, snatching away that firstborn of tyranny, perjury, and rebellion, and blowing him out of the world, as he did the locusts out of Egypt; till at length breaches and divisions amongst themselves, like the dividing of the Red sea and the parting of the mighty waters, both swallowed up them, and became as a wall of brass on both hands to our king and his loyal, exiled subjects, to convey them safe into a possession of those rights, which, both by the gift of God and the laws of men, were so undoubtedly their own.
Thus we have seen some resemblance between the transactions of Providence with Israel and with ourselves. We have seen how like we are to them for their miraculous deliverances; and, which is the worst, though perhaps the nearest part of the resemblance, it will appear also presently, how like we are to them for their miraculous ingratitude.
In the text we have these three things observable.
I. The unworthy and ungrateful deportment of the Israelites towards God upon a most signal mercy and deliverance: they provoked him.
II. The aggravation of this unworthy deportment from the nature and circumstance of the deliverance: they provoked him at the sea, even at the Red sea.
III. and lastly, The cause of this misbehaviour and unworthy deportment, which was their not under standing the designs of mercy in the several instances of it: they understood not thy wonders in Egypt.
I. And first for the first of these, the Israelites’ ungrateful and unworthy deportment towards God: they provoked him.
To provoke, is an expression setting forth a peculiar 190 and more than ordinary degree of misbehaviour; and seems to import an insolent, daring resolution to offend. A resolution not contented with one single stroke of disobedience, but such a one as multiplies and repeats the action, till the offence greatens and rises into an affront; and as it relates to God, so I conceive it strikes at him in a threefold respect.
1st, Of his power. 2dly, Of his goodness. 3dly, Of his patience.
1st, And first it rises up against the power and prerogative of God. It is, as it were, an assault upon God sitting upon his throne, a snatching at his sceptre, and a defiance of his very royalty and supremacy. He that provokes God, does in a manner dare him to strike, and to revenge the injury and invasion upon his honour. He considers not the weight of God’s almighty arm, and the edge of his sword, the swiftness and poison of his arrows, but puffs at all, and looks the terrors of sin-revenging justice in the face. The Israelites could not sin against God, after those miracles in Egypt, without a signal provocation of that power that they had so late and so convincing an experience of: a power, that could have crushed an Israelite as easily as an Egyptian; and given as terrible an instance of its consuming force upon false friends, as upon professed enemies; in the sight of God perhaps the less sort of offenders of the two.
And can the sins of any nation in the world more affront God, in the grand attribute of his power, than the sins of ours; which has given such flaming, illustrious experiments of itself, as have dazzled our eyes and astonished our hearts! For have we not seen a flourishing state and a glorious church broke in pieces, and as it were extinguished in a moment? 191and a prince, as great as good, torn out of his throne, stripped of his power, and at length disastrously cut oft by the hand of violence? And dare we now sin against that power that has thus shewn us how easily it can confound and overturn all the glories of worldly grandeur? and which, after all this, has, by a miraculous exertion of itself, called up a buried church and state from the grave, and given them a stupendous resurrection from the confusion and rubbish of a long and woful desolation: and this by bringing back the banished son of a murdered father, even over the heads of his enemies armed and potent, and rather amazed than conquered into their former allegiance. A work so big with miracle and wonder, so apparently above, nay even against the common methods of human acting, that were there no other argument to prove a Providence, this one passage alone were sufficient; and that such an one as carries in it the force and brightness of a demonstration.
2dly, Provoking God imports an abuse of his goodness. God, as he is clothed with power, is the proper object of our fear; but as he displays his goodness, of our love. By one he would command, by the other he would win and (as it were) court our obedience. And an affront to his goodness, his tenderness, and his mercy, as much exceeds an affront of his power, as a wound at the heart transcends a blow on the hand. For when God shall shew miracles of mercy, step out of the common road of providence, commanding the host of heaven, the globe of the earth, and the whole system of nature out of its course, to serve a design of goodness upon a people, as he did upon the Israelites; was 192not a provocation, after such obliging passages, infinitely base and insufferable, and a degree of ingratitude, higher than the heavens it struck at, and deeper than the sea that they passed through?
3dly, Provoking God imports an affront upon his longsuffering and his patience. The movings of nature, in the breasts of all mankind, tell us how keenly, how regretfully, every man resents the abuse of his love; how hardly any prince, but one, can put up an offence against his acts of mercy; and how much more affrontive it is to despise mercy ruling by the golden sceptre of pardon, than by the iron rod of a penal law. But now patience is a further and an higher advance of mercy; it is mercy drawn out at length; mercy wrestling with baseness, and striving, if possible, even to weary and outdo ingratitude: and therefore a sin against this is the highest pitch, the utmost improvement, and, as I may so speak, the ne plus ultra of provocation. For when patience shall come to be tired, and even out of breath with pardoning, let all the invention of mankind find something further, either upon which an offender may cast his hope, or against which he can commit a sin. But it was God’s patience that the ungrateful Israelites sinned against; for they even plied and pursued him with sin upon sin, one offence following and thronging upon the neck of another, the last account still rising highest, and swelling bigger, till the treasuries of grace and pardon were so far drained and exhausted, that they provoked God to swear, and what is more, to swear in his wrath, and with a full purpose of revenge, that they should never enter into his rest.
And thus I have given you the threefold dimension 193of the provocation that the Israelites passed upon God; and it is to be feared, that our sins have been cast into the same mould, they do so exactly resemble them in all their proportions; for we are as deep in arrears to Heaven, and have as large a sum of abused goodness and patience to account for, as ever they had; and so much greater is our account than theirs could be, that we had the advantage of their example to have forewarned us.
II. I proceed now to the second thing proposed from the text; which is, the aggravation of the Israelites unworthy deportment towards their almighty deliverer, set forth in these words: they provoked him at the sea. even at the Red sea.
The extraordinary emphasis of which expression, in the repeated use of the same words, shews what a particular and severe observation God passed upon their behaviour. The baseness and ingratitude of which he casts in their teeth, by confronting it with the eminent obligation laid upon them, by the glorious deliverance he vouchsafed them; a deliverance heightened and ennobled with these four qualifications.
1st, Its greatness. 2dly, Its unexpectedness, 3dly, Its seasonableness. 4thly, Its undeservedness.
Of each of which in their order.
1st, And first for the greatness of the deliverance. Very great surely it must needs have been, comparing the contemptible weakness of the persons delivered, with the strength and terror of the enemy from whom they were delivered. What were a company of poor oppressed bricklayers, inured to servitude as to an inheritance, for four hundred years successively, and consequently whose very 194soul and spirit was even lost in clay and rubbish, and made poor, and low, and grovelling by the disciplines of a long captivity. How were these able to have looked Pharaoh and his armies in the face, who had so long trembled under the frown and lash of the meanest of his taskmasters! What could their trowels have done against the Egyptian swords; their aprons against the others’ armour and artillery! They could be confident of nothing, but of sinking under the inequality of the encounter.
And could there be a greater deliverance than thus to fetch a lamb out of the jaws of the lion, to wrest weakness out of the hands of power, and the captive from the clutches of the strong! This was the case of the Israelites.
And surely we shall find that it was our own too. For could there be a greater disproportion than there was between us and our oppressing enemies? Were they not, even in the very day of our deliverance, as strong, as mighty, and well armed as ever? Were their hands at all weakened, that they could not strike, or their swords blunted, that they could not wound? Naturally speaking, I am sure they were not: but whether their hearts were for the present changed by an immediate impression from heaven, or their hands overruled by the art and conduct of that great restorer of his country; certain it is, they were like men in amaze, and not able to act the habitual villainy of their principles and dispositions. So that we saw our king returning to his own triumphantly, at the head of that army by which he had been driven and kept out; an army with their swords in their hands, and, for the most part, with their old principles in their 195hearts. And had not this deliverance all the marks of greatness and prodigy, that (he it spoke with reverence) almightiness itself could stamp upon it? Search the annals of story, run over all the records of antiquity, and give it a parallel, if you can. It could he none but the Almighty’s doing, and therefore ought to be marvellous in our eyes. It carried its author in its front, and every circumstance of the transaction was noted with the traces and signatures of a divine power and contrivance. It was too great for the measures of any finite, created agents.
2dly, A second property of the deliverance vouchsafed to the Israelites at the Red sea, was its unexpectedness. Their wits failed them to contrive an escape, as well as their power to make good a resistance. The enemy was behind, and the sea before them; that is, death both faced them and pursued them too: and could they expect, that either the hardened heart of a Pharaoh should relent, and bid them return, or the devouring element forget its cruelty, and turn their sanctuary to protect them?
It is true, indeed, that if any people in the world might have expected such miraculous countermands upon nature, they were the Israelites, to whom custom and frequency had made miracles so familiar, as even to offer them to their expectation. Yet we know they were far from inferring their future preservation from their former deliverance, and that the God of their fathers would act as miraculously in one, as he had done in the other; and thereupon we read these worthy expostulations of their infidelity, striking directly indeed at Moses, but tacitly reflecting upon God himself: Exod. xiv. 11, 12, Because 196there were no graves in Egypt, hast thou taken us away to die in the wilderness? wherefore hast thou dealt thus with us, to carry us out of Egypt? Did we not say to thee in Egypt, Let us alone, that we may serve the Egyptians? for it had been better for us to serve the Egyptians, than that we should die in the wilderness. Death was their belief, death their fear, nothing but death their expectation. But now how welcome, how sweet, and even transporting must such a deliverance needs be, as steps in between a great mischief and a great fear; as disappoints and confutes the terror of a man’s expectations, and (as I may so say) baffles him according to his heart’s desire? For the expectation and hope of a good fulfilled, is not so pleasing as the expectation and fear of a great evil defeated. It does not affect the mind with so sensible, so quick, and so exalting a delight. The reason of which is, because enjoyment in this state of mortality does not so much gratify, as misery does afflict us; and consequently nature more desires to be delivered from one, than to be possessed of the other. If ever there is a picture of silver, to set forth an apple of gold, it is when the mercy of the deliverance is set forth and enhanced by the precedent fears and despairs of him that is delivered: for can any delight be greater, than for a man to set his foot upon the neck of that enemy, by whom but three minutes before he expected certainly to die? To behold that sea opening itself as a bosom to embrace, which he could not expect to be any other than a grave to swallow and consume? With these circumstances of endearment did God deliver the Israelites.197
And with the very same did he advance the mercy of our deliverance: for it was a thing so much beyond men’s expectation, before the doing of it, that they could scarce believe it when it was done; the astonishing strangeness of the thing made men almost question the reports of their own eyes and ears, and disbelieve the information of their very senses, so that we might in that day have took up those emphatical words of the prophet David: Lord, when thou didst turn the captivity of thy people, then were we like unto those that dream. The matter and subject of our joy was so strange and unlikely, that, like men in a dream, we seemed to enjoy it rather by the flattering representations of fancy, than to possess it by any reality of fruition.
For so improbable was it, a little before it happened, that foreign princes and nations began to lay aside all hope of the king’s restoration; and our next neighbours, together with their hope’s of that, began to give over also their respects to his person, banishing him out of their territories, without any consideration of his near alliance of blood, and (which ought to have been the warmest argument in the breast of kings) the distress of majesty by such an act of inhospital barbarity, as before was unheard of, and perhaps never practised but by themselves. And as for affairs here at home, factions and animosities grew higher and higher, clashing indeed amongst themselves, but unanimously conspiring against the royal interest. Nay, and did not the wonted fidelity and courage of many begin to warp and decline, while they were willing to buy a settlement under any usurped government, with 198the price of their allegiance to the right and lawful: so that the title of the just heir was looked upon as forlorn and desperate, and the restitution of it exploded as a thing impracticable; and that by many virtuoso’s who now enjoy so much under it, that they forget what formerly they deserved from it. And so far did things then seem to settle upon another bottom, that as the Israelites said, Let us alone, that we may serve the Egyptians; so all parties, but the royal and episcopal, were recognising and courting the new puny protector, and adoring that rising ignis fatuus as the Persians do the sun, comparing him (forsooth) to a peaceable Solomon, succeeding in the throne of his warlike father David; and there is no doubt, but the father was just as like David for his piety, as the son was like Solomon for his wisdom; much at one.
But so little did their covenant put them in mind of their king, that his highness’s most loyal and obedient subjects, especially of the schismatical preaching order, desired no change, nor ever thought of any, till the ministerial maintenance (so much as remained of it) began to reel and totter, and be made a prey to those whom they themselves had preached into such principles, as would in the issue have certainly devoured them.
And as these persons desired no change, so the hearts even of the loyal and the faithful began to fail, and scarce to expect any; at least in such a manner as it came to pass. For who could have believed, that so many parties, whom both their guilt and interest had made so inveterate against their prince, could ever have fallen down at the feet of offended majesty, but in the field? That those whose 199blood boiled so high against him, could ever have been brought to receive him, keeping the same blood still in their veins? None could have expected any other restoration of his majesty but by dint of sword, by the battle of the warrior, with confuted noise, and garments rolled in blood; or, in a word, that he should return any other way, than by which he was driven out. Let this, therefore, be the second commending property of our deliverance, that while it met with our desires, it transcended our expectations.
3dly, The third commending property of the Israelites’ deliverance was the eminent seasonableness of it. God delivered them at that very nick of time, when they were but one remove, one hair’s breadth from destruction. One hour’s delay might have made the deliverance for ever impossible. So that it was a mercy in season, and therefore in its prime. The hand of the enemy was already lift up, and then it could not be long before the blow. But God, that interposes between the purpose and the action, even then when it is ripest for it, and immediately passing into it, diverted the enemy’s rage, and took from him the power of revenge almost in the very midst of the opportunity. A rescue from death, though but threatening at a distance, is a mercy; but to rescue from it when it hovers over a man, and is even grasping him in his talons, is the most endearing circumstance of mercy.
And now, if we pass from the Israelites to ourselves, (as very easily and naturally we may,) we know how seasonably the day of our temporal redemption sprang in upon us. Our long-dying liberty seemed then taking its last gasp, and God 200knows what mischiefs were then hatching in the breasts of those tyrants. For that the furnace was heating, might be known by the sparks that flew out. A massacre was often spoke of and urged, and, it is like, not far from being intended; the ministry and the law were then professedly struck at; new oaths of abjuration invented and imposed, to ensnare the nation; and, if it were possible, to plunge it deeper in perjury than it was before. Religion was so unhinged, both as to the discipline and doctrine of Christianity, that there was nothing certain but change, nothing constant but variety; till, having run the round of all other alterations, they were passing into direct atheism, and casting off that Deity, whom, having so notoriously disobeyed, it was their concernment also to deny. In a word, the nation was then involved in an universal confusion; its government, its laws, its religion, were then following their prince into banishment, and resolved not to return till he did.
And surely, now it grew high time for the English nation to think of recovering itself from some of that infamy and loud reproach, that the spilling of innocent royal blood, and the profane invasion of all that was sacred or civil had brought upon it, in the opinion of all the nations round about, that stood as spectators and detesters of those religious barbarities, those villainies cloaked and sanctified with the name of reformation. Time it was also for God to shew himself, upon the account of our exiled, distressed sovereign, lest the taunts and triumphs of a too long successful villainy might have took away either the hearts of his subjects, that they would not, or their abilities, that they could not have ministered 201to the necessities of his royal person. For, for ought we know, had the rod of usurpation lain any longer upon us, the fountains of relief had been quite stopped both at home and abroad, and the heir and lord of three flourishing kingdoms have wanted bread, and the common supplies of human life: for to hear, (as we may from some,) to how low an ebb the barbarous tyranny of his enemies had sometimes brought him, might even melt the hardest of our hearts, till they ran out at our eyes: but I shall for bear the rehearsal of such stories so full of tragedy, that they must needs spread a cloud upon the joys and festivities of this blessed day. And 1 would not willingly contradict my subject, and make an unseasonable discourse upon so seasonable a deliverance.
4thly, The fourth and last crowning property of the deliverance vouchsafed by God to the Israelites, was its absolute undeservedness. The entire cause of it was the divine goodness, but none of theirs. And therefore, Moses knowing the innate arrogance and pride of that insolent, as well as undeserving people, most particularly cautions them against such flattering thoughts: Think not, says he to them, that God has done these great things for thee, for any righteousness of thine; for thou art a stiff-necked people, Deut. ix. 6 . And again, in verse 24, You hare been rebellious against the Lord, from the day that I knew you. So that, if there was any merit in obstinacy, any worth in ingratitude, then indeed their claim stood full and high, and of all other people upon earth they were the most meritorious.
And now, bating these good qualifications, can we allege any thing more for our deserving the deliverance 202here acknowledged by us, than the ungrateful and rebellious Israelites could plead for theirs? Did we so well improve ourselves under God’s judgments, as to be fit for such a mercy? We saw a civil war reaping down thousands and ten thousands of our countrymen; but has it cut off so much as one of our public sins? Have not our vices grown under the sword, like trees under the pruning-hook, gathering thence only a greater luxuriance and fertility? Have we mourned and humbled ourselves, according to the greatness of the occasion? And if, peradventure, any of us have mourned, has it not been more for the effects of the war, than for the causes of it? for the ruin and the waste that it has brought upon our families and estates, rather than for the crying sins that first blew the trumpet, and drew the fatal sword to revenge God’s quarrel upon us in the field?
Even self-love might fill the eyes with tears, and cover the back with sackcloth, for the untimely loss of a father, an husband, or a brother; but how many of us wept or sighed to see majesty trampled upon, religion abused, or the sacred houses of God profaned? No; these things were but little settled in most men’s thoughts; they scarce sighed or groaned for any thing but for taxes and impositions. All which considered, we were so far from meriting such an incomparable deliverance, that had God treated us according to our merits, we had never been delivered.
We have now seen the four several properties that commended and gave a value to the deliverance of the Israelites; every one of which contributed to inflame their account, and to stamp their ungrateful, 203provoking behaviour with an higher aggravation. And we have seen also the parallel between their deliverance and our own so exactly made out, that there is not one of these properties failing in it: for our deliverance was altogether as great, as unexpected, as seasonable, and as undeserved, as theirs could be: it might vie with it in every particular.
And if that charge can be now made good against us, that the text draws up against them, of provoking God; surely our guilt must be as great as our deliverance, and every way equal the vast measures of theirs. It cannot be pleasing to rip up old sores, even to those who desire to cure them. But whether the preacher does it, or no, our ingratitude will lay open and proclaim itself. Ingratitude, I say, the crying, crimson sin of this delivered nation: a sin of an universal comprehension, and (as I may so speak) the generalissimo of sins, having an influence upon all the particular sins and irregularities of our practice. And if we ask, in what the nation has been so ungrateful, it is a question best answered by another: In what has it not?
We have been harassed by a long civil war; and by a peace, under several sorts of usurpers, worse than a war. We have seen a general confusion, of all ranks and degrees: and as if the floodgates of popular insolence had been opened, we have seen an inundation breaking in upon all, and subverting every thing above it; even from the king to the meanest gentleman; from him that commanded three kingdoms, to him that had the command but of one servant: and with the confusion of order and degree, we have seen the same also in point of property; no man was able to call any thing his own, 204but slavery. The honour went first, and the estate stayed not long behind. This is a summary account of the mischiefs we then groaned under.
And a merciful Providence was pleased to deliver us from every one of them. For we have had a peace at home, a peace, enabling us to make war abroad; and this under a prince of an undoubted title, and an unparalleled goodness: a prince, representing God, not only in point of majesty by vicegerency, as all princes do, but eminently, and beyond example, in that his beloved attribute that must save the world, his pardoning mercy: which he has imitated so far, even towards his bitterest enemies, that he has pardoned more and greater offences, than they themselves could, with any face or modesty, have expected.
But how has this goodness been answered? Have not pardons been followed with plots? the blessings of peace and settlement been entertained with murmurings, repinings, and reflections upon his government, not to say, upon his person also, under whose shadow they enjoy all this? Have those who have been restored to the privileges of their birthright and nobility, behaved themselves with that gratitude to him, that, under God, is the fountain of honour? And have they pursued those courses that must give a lustre to titles, and ennoble nobility itself? Have those that have been restored to their estates, stretched out their hands, and opened their bowels to their indigent fellow-sufferers, who served the same master, and whose fortunes fell sacrifices to the same cause; who fought with them, or rather for them: but have not these been rather neglected and scorned for their poverty, the effect of their fidelity; 205and, at length, been even ground to powder, by that which was designed for their relief? I am afraid, if we come to be arraigned with these questions, we must be forced to plead guilty to them all.
Having thus despatched the two first things proposed from the text, to wit, the Israelites unworthy and ungrateful behaviour towards God, upon a great deliverance, together with the aggravation of it; as also shewn how much their case has been made ours, in both respects; I proceed now to the third and last thing proposed from the words, namely, the cause of this unworthy behaviour, which was their not understanding the designs of mercy in the several instances of it: they understood not thy wonders in Egypt. Now in every wonderful passage of Providence, two things are to be considered; first, the author, by whom; second, the end for which it is done: neither of which were understood by the Israelites, as they ought to have been.
1st, And first for the author of it. It is more than probable, that many of the Israelites ascribed most of those wonders to the skill of Moses transcending that of the Egyptian magicians, or to his working by the assistance of an higher and more potent spirit than that which assisted them. Or in case they did believe them to have been the effects of a divine power, yet they did not inure their minds seriously to consider it, so as to have a standing awe of that power imprinted upon their hearts by such a consideration: and he that considers great and concerning matters superficially, in the language of the scripture, does not understand them.
Now I believe this will be found to have been most particularly the sin of this nation: for how 206many, who think atheism a piece of ingenuity, ascribe the whole passage of the king’s restoration to chance and accident, or to this man’s prudence, or that man’s miscarriage; not considering how impossible it was for any human contrivance to lay a train of so many causes, so many accidents, so exactly, and to make so many opposite interests and cross circumstances fall into a direct and perfect subserviency to the composing this one grand work: a work so incomparably great, that to adjudge the entire accomplishment of it to any creature under heaven, would be to rob God of the honour of one of his greatest actions, and to take the crown off from Providence, and to set it upon the head of human counsels. And then, no wonder if ingratitude for a blessing follows, where the author of it is neither understood nor acknowledged.
2dly, The other, and the chief thing to be considered in every wonderful deliverance, is the intent and end of it. Which surely is not, that men should forget it as soon as it is done, or turn it into wantonness, and make it minister to the excesses of pride, luxury, and intemperance. God neither dried up the sea, to bring the Israelites into a land flowing with milk and honey, that they might debauch, revel, and surfeit upon that mercy: nor did he, by a miracle as great, reinstate a company of poor, distressed exiles in the possession of their native country, that they should live at that rate of vanity and superfluity, that the world nowadays cries out upon them for. God did not work wonders to clothe and feed a few worthless parasites with the riches of a kingdom, to fill their cups with the blood of orphans and the tears of the widows. God did not intend 207that so universal a blessing, big enough for us all, should ho diverted under-ground, into the obscure, narrow channel of a few private purses; leaving so many loyal, suffering, undone persons, to sigh and mourn over their destitute condition, in the day of a public joy. God did not restore us to scoff at religion, and to malign his church, as if the nation and the government might stand well enough without a church, but not without plays. No; surely, this was not the intent of this miraculous deliverance, whatsoever has been made the event of it. The voice of God in it calls us to humility, to industry, to temperance, to public-mindedness, to great and generous actions, for the good both of church and state. And if, instead of these, we resolve to spit in the face of mercy, by still pursuing a vain, luxurious, profane course of life, we shall find, that he who rules in the kingdoms of men, and appoints over them whomsoever he will, can turn the stream of our happiness, and destroy us after he has done us so much good.
To whom be rendered and ascribed, as is most due, all praise, might, majesty, and dominion, both now and for evermore. Amen.208
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