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from time to time, what fitter Example he can make, is hard to say.
Persons however will flatter themselves, that these, at the worst, are Dangers of very distant Times. And every single Sinner in the World flatters himself in just the same Manner. Yet the Consequences of their Sins do overtake Men, and may overtake Nations too, with surprizing Suddenness. And the Sentence, recorded in Scripture, is perfectly just: They of the House of Israel say, The Vision that he feeth is for many Days to come ; and be propheneth of Times that are far off. Therefore shall none of my Words be prolonged any more : but the Word which I have spoken hall be done, faith the Lord God*. And they shall know, that I am the Lord; and have not said in vain, that I would do this Evil unto them t.
Other Persons there are, who acknowledge the Prospect to be bad, and Evil perhaps impending : But the only wise Part in their Opinion is, to let Matters go as they will, and enjoy themselves as long as they can : Why should they be uneasy before the Time comes ? Now if it were certain, that nothing * Ezek. xii. 27, 28.
† Ezek. vi. 10. C3
could do good, this might be reasonable in a worldly View of Things : but where every one may contribute, both by amending himself and awakening others, to prevent Ruin; there to be indolent, is as contrary to.Humanity, as it is to Religion. And therefore the Word of God hath taken severe notice of it, as a great Crime. Ye have seen the Breaches of the City of David, that they are many :- And in that Day did the Lord God of Hofts call to Weeping, and to Mourning, and to girding with Sack-cloth : and behold Joy and Gladness, eating Flesh and drinking Wine : Let us eat and drink, for to-morrow we die. And it was revealed in mine Ears by the Lord of Hosts : Surely this Iniquity shall not be purged from you, till ye die, saith the Lord God of Hosts *
But even they, who are concerned for the Public, may yet express that Concern in a very faulty Way. Many seem to think they have fully done their Duty, as soon as they have been angry at those, whom they apprehend to have any way occafioned what is amifs ; angry, perhaps at the wrong Persons, perhaps in
* Isa. xxii. 9, 12, 13, 14.
a wrong Manner: such as only tends to increase Guilt, and hasten Mischief.
The first Complaint, generally speaking,.is of those in Authority. And undoubtedly the People have a Right to complain, wheneverthe common Concern is administred ill. But then it should be considered, that we may, through Ignorance or Prejudice, expect from Authority, either what it cannot do, or what is not fit to be done: we may expect more than is reasonable to expect from Men like ourselves, though it be fit; and even supposing them very much to blame, we may conduct ourselves * upon it so as to be equally or yet more to blame. Want of Reverence to Laws and Superiors is one of our great Evils : and all Oppofition to whatever is thought wrong, should be accompanied with the strictest Care not to augment this Evil. But our Duty requires us peculiarly to beware of raising Domestic, Uneasinesses too high, when a foreign Eenmy may take Advantage of them: and at all Times it *requires us, to preserve most religiously the Loyalty and Honour due to the supreme Power : especially now, when our present Establishment is our only human Hope of
C4 . having
having all that is valuable to us secured to ourselves, and transmitted to our Posterity.
Next to the Rulers of a Nation, its Instructors are usually the great Object of Censure : and we acknowledge there is Cause. We have not been so serious and religious, so zealous and diligent, so disinterested and humble, so mild and charitable, as we ought. The Public must have suffered by this : we have suffered by it ourselves : and, unless we repent, we have ground to expect a yet fuller Execution, than we have experienced already, of what Heaven inflicted on our Predecessors in the Jewish Nation: Therefor: have I also made you contemptible and base before all the People, according as ye have not kept my Ways *. Yet we cannot but hope, that a very considerable Part of the Accusations brought against us, would appear, upon Enquiry, to be without Foundation. But however that be, we must remind you, that Our Faults will be no Excuse for Your Transgressions : and we earnestly beg, that they who complain we do not the Good we ought, would at least not hinder, but give us Opportunity, and assist us rather, to do both Others and Themselves the Good we would.. * Mal. ii. 9.
But even they, who proceed from Complaints to Endeavours of amending Things, will fail unhappily of their End; if they trust to worldly Methods alone, and leave Religion and Virtue, the great Support and Cement of hu- ' man Society, out of their Schemes. This will be merely palliating for a little while: and doing what the Scripture, in perfect Conformity with plain Reason, hath long ago condemned, as doing nothing. Because they have seduced my People, saying, Peace, and there was no Peace; " and one built up a Wall, and others daubed it with untempered morter : Therefore, thus faith the Lord God, I will rend it with a stormy Wind, and bring it down to the Ground, so that the Foundations thereof shall be discovered : and it fhall fall, and ye shall be consumed in the midt thereof, and ye shall know that I am the Lord*. Indeed every Page of the prophetical Writings recommends itself greatly to thinking Persons, by the most forcible and convincing Expressions of the utter Inefficacy of every Expedient for public Good, that is not accompanied with true Virtue and true Piety.
These, therefore, it is our most important Interest to restore and promote : to represent : ; * Ezek. xiii. 10–14.