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sented to faith. Without the exercise of faith in God in this view of himself which he has given us, there is no coming unto God. Our way to his throne is hedged up, and we can never expect either audience or acceptance. Indeed none of our fallen race would ever have dared to attempt drawing near unto God, if God had not encouraged them by the revelation of his grace. And they who have been made partakers of that grace are the only persons who can find him as their portion. . .
The same rule which is thus given to individuals, is binding upon a nation. To find acceptance for their repentance, they must receive the word of God, as true, that in Christ there is redemption through his blood; even the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace. Upon the footing of that redemption alone can they obtain the divine favour. . .
IV. The last truth suggested by the text, is that God affords to a people suffering nạtional judgments the greatest and strongest encouragements, urging them thus to return. These encouragements are, ...
g Owen, on Heb. xi, 6.
1. His willingness to receive them on their return.
Of this he has given the fullest information in different parts of his word. He is ready to forgive, and has never said to the house of Jacob, Seek ye me in vain. Indeed he stands pledged, from the nature of his covenant, to exercise mercy towards them who return to him in the appointed way. Of this willingness he furnishes us with proofs in the text, when he says, that he will return to his place till they acknowledge their offence. And also with the assurance that as he had torn, so he will heal, as he had smitten, so he will bind up. He will revive after a certain period; He will raise up, and give life. All these expressions denote God's readiness to return to, to restore, to revive those who repent..
2. The blessings consequent upon his receiving them on their repentance.
Here I avail myself of the translation of Bishop Horsley, “ We shall live in his pre“sence, and attain to knowledge. Our “ object of pursuit will be the knowledge of “ the Jehovah. His coming forth is fixed “ as the morning ; and he shall come upon
“ us as the pouring shower, as the harvest “ rain, as the rain of seed-time upm the “ earth.” He connects the last clause of the second verse with the first of the third, “ the “ attaining of knowledge with the living in “ his presence, as the effect with the cause.”
To live in God's presence is to live in the communion of his Church, receiving the instruction of the divine word, and the comfort of the sacraments. The attainment of knowledge, that is the true knowledge of God, and a right understanding of his word, is the effect of thus living in his presence. And a further effect of the attainment is, a taste and a liking for the knowledge so attained ; a desire of perpetual proficiency in it, and a voluntary pursuit of it. And no wonder; for God is known as the universal benefactor, the giver of the most general and useful benefits, and comès forth at fixed seasons, and at a season when his appearance is expected. The benefits he confers are compared to the harvest rain, the rain of seedtime. The last making the fruit to spring, and the first maturing the crop. Thus the blessings consequent upon God's receiving individuals or nations who repent, are suited
to every situation, and to every time. They more than counterbalance the evils which have resulted from their sins, and spread their influence over all the relations of society, making them sources of constant and increasing personal enjoyment and usefulness unto others.
I proceed to the application of the subject. In making this application I shall now, as I have ever endeavoured to do, bring men and measures to the test of God's own truth, and let that truth decide on their merits or demerits. The directions and instructions of God's word upon political subjects I have never shunned to state to you, nor shall I now, bitter as the spirit of party is, and widely separated as the parties are.
To both I mean to exhibit what appears to me to be the truth of Scripture, whether it affects one part of the community or another. Lend me then your candid and Christian attention, whilst I endeavour in the application to unfold our national sins, our national judgments, our national prospects, and our national duty.
I. Our national sins call for attention on this day. They are the following, viz.
1. The nature of our political constitution.
The particular part of it to which I refer, is its defect in regard to religion. That I may not be misunderstood, I think it proper to state, that the people of this country are avowedly a Christian people. This is especially the case with the inhabitants of this state. And I am the more bold to say this, because I have no less authority than the official declaration of the Supreme Court of the State. The declaration was made not long back, on a trial for blasphemy, by the Chief Justice'. “ The people of this state, in s common with the people of this country, « profess the general doctrines of Chris“ tianity as the rule of their faith and prac“ tice; and to scandalize the Author of these “ doctrines, is not only in a religious point “ of view extremely impious, but even in “ respect to the obligations due to Society, “ is a gross violation of decency and good “ order. Nor are we bound,” he adds, “ by «« any expressions in the constitution, as “ some have strangely supposed, either not * to punish at all, or to punish indicrimi“ nately, the like attacks upon the re
k Now Chancellor Kent. VOL. II.