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means that produced it. The Jewish nation was always the same ; always a stiff-necked nation ; always inimical to truth, and infatuated with falshood; always averse to reproof, and thirst for the blood of its prophets. What the Jews were in the times of the prophets, that they were in the times of Jesus Christ and his apostles; they were full as barbarous to Jesus Christ as to Zachariah the son of Barachiah.
A time must come in which divine justice ought to prevent the fatal consequences of a longer forbearance ; a time in which the whole world must be convinced that God's toleration of sinners is no approbation of sin; a time when general vengeance must justify Providence by rendering to all the due rewards of their deeds. Such a time was at hand when Jesus Christ spoke to the Jews; and foreseeing the miseries that would overwhelm Judea, he told them that God would require an account, not only of the blood of all the prophets, which they had spilt, but of all the murders that had been committed on earth from the death of Abel to the slaughter of Zachariah.
Thus it was with the Amorites; and thus it will be with your provinces, if you avail yourselves of the crimes of your predecessors, if you extenuate the guilt, if you imitate the practice, if you fill up the measure of their iniquities. Then divine justice, collecting into one point of vengeance all the crimes of the nation, will inflict punishments proportional to the time that was granted to avert them. Thus we have sufficiently proved the justice of this æconomy.
III. Let us remark the terrors that accompany this dispensation. But where can we find expressions sufficiently sad, or images sufficiently shocking and gloomy, to describe those terrible times. The soul of Moses dissolved in considering them;
by thy wrath we are troubled ; thou hast set our iniquities before thee, our secret sins in the light of thy countenance, Psal. xc. 7, 8. Every thing that assuageth the anger of the Judge of the world is useless here. The exercise of prayer, that exercise, which sinners have sometimes used with success to the suspending of the anger of God, to the holding of his avenging arm, and to the disarming of him of his vindictive rod, that exercise hath lost all its efficacy and power; God covereth himself with a cloud that prayer cannot pass through, Lam. iii. 44. The intercession of venerable men, who have sometimes stood in the breach, and turned away his wrath, cannot be admitted now; though Moses and Samuel stood before God, yet his mind could not be toward this people, Jer. xv. 1. Those sanctuaries, which have been consecrated to divine worship, and which have so often afforded refuges in times of danger, have lost their noble privilege, and are themselves involved in the direful calamity; The Lord casteth off his altar, abhorreth his sanctuary, giveth up into the hand of his enemy the walls of his palaces, and they make a noise in the house of the Lord as in the day of a solemn feast, Lament. ii. 7. The cries of children, which have sometimes melted down the hearts of the most inflexible, those cries cannot now excite the mercy of God, the innocent creatures themselves fall victims to his displeasure; the sucklings swoon in the streets of the city, they say to their mothers, where is corn and wine, ver. 12. The hands of pitiful women seethe their own children, they are their meat in the destruction of the daughter of my people, chap. iv. 10. The treasures of grace, which have been so often opened to sinners, and from which they have derived converting power, in order to free them from the executions of justice, these treasures are now quite exhausted; God saith, I will command the clouds that they rain no rain upon my vineyard, Isa. v. 6. Go, make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes ; lest they see with their eyes, and heur with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed, chap. vi. 9, 10. O God! thou consuming fire! Deut. iv. 24. O God, to whom vengeance belongeth, Psal. xciv. 1. how fearful a thing it is to fall into thy hands ! Heb. X. 31. How dreadful are thy footsteps, when, in the cool fierceness of thine indignation, thou comest to fall upon a sinner! The blood of all the prophets, which was shed from the foundation of the world, shall be required of this generation : from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zacharias : verily I say unto you, it shall be required of this generation.
IV. To conclude. We have proved that there is a fatal period, in which God will unite the sins of a nation in one point of vengeance, and will proportion the punishments, which he useth to exterminate them, to the length of time that he had granted for preventing them. And from this principle, which will be the ground of our exhortations in the close of this discourse, I infer, that as there is a particular repentance imposed on every member of society, so there is a national repentance, which regards all who compose a nation. The repentance of an individual doth not consist in merely asking pardon for his sins, and in endeavoring to correct the bad habits he hath formed; but it requires also that the sinner should go back to his first years, remember, as far as he can, the sins that defiled his youth, lament every period of his existence, which, having been signalized by some divine favor, was also signalized by some marks of
ingratitude; it requireth, him to say, under a sorrowful sense of having offended a kind and tender God, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me, Psal. li. 5. O Lord, remember not the sins of my youth, Psal. xxv. 7. Wilt thou break a leaf driven to and fro? Wilt thou pursue the dry stubble ? thou makest me to possess the iniquities of my youth ! Job xiii. 25, 26. In like manner the repentance of a nation doth not consist in a bare attention to present disorders, and to the luxury that now cry to the judge of the world for vengeance : but it requireth us to go back to the times of our ancestors, and examine whether we be now enjoying the wages of their unrighteousness, and whether, while we flatter ourselves with the opinion that we have not committed their vices, we be not now relishing productions of them. Without this we shall be responsible for the very vices which they committed, though time hath almost blotted out the remembrance of them; and the justice of God threateneth to involve us in the same punishments: The blood of all the prophets, which was shed from the foundation of the world, shall be required of this generation : from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zacharias ; verily
I say unto you, it shall be required of this generation.
Dreadful thought! my brethren. A thought that may very justly disturb that shameful security, into which our nation is sunk. I tremble, when I think of some disorders, which my eyes have seen during the course of my ministry among you. I do not mean the sins of individuals, which would fill a long and very mortifying list: I mean public sins, committed in the face of the sun; maxims, received, in a manner, by church and state, and which loudly cry to heaven for vengeance against this republic. In these degenerate times, I have seen immorality and infidelity authorized by a connivance at scandalous books, which are intended to destroy the distinctions of vice and virtue, and to make the difference between just and unjust appear a mere chimera. In these degenerate days, I have seen the oppressed church cry in vain for succor for her children, while the reformation of the church was sacrificing to the policy of the state. In this degenerate age, I have seen solemn days insolently profaned by those, whom worldly decency alone ought to have engaged to observe them. In these days of depravity, I have seen hatred and discord lodge among us, and labor in the untoward work of reciprocal ruin. In these wretched times, I have seen the spirit of intolerance unchained with all its rage, and the very men, who incessantly exclaim against the persecutions that have affected themselves, turn persecutors of others : so that, at the close of a religious exercise, men, who ought to have remembered what they had heard, and to have applied it to themselves, have been known to exercise their ingenuity in finding heresy in the sermon, in communicating the same wicked industry to their families, and to their children, and, under pretence of religion, in preventing all the good effects that religious discourses might have produced. In this degenerate age . . . . . .
But this shameful list is already too long.' Doth this nation repent of its past sins? Doth it lament the crimes of its ancestors ? Alas! far from repenting of our past sins, far from lamenting the crimes of our ancestors, doth not the least attention perceive new and more shocking excesses ? The wretched age, in which Providence hath placed us, doth it not seem to have taken that for its model, against which God displayed his vengeance, as we