V. Those Without Christ
There may be some persons in this assembly who are little concerned for their own sins, and are, of course, incapable of taking a proper part in the service of the day. Yet I am glad that you are here; I pity you, I warn you. If you should live to see a time of public distress, what will you do? To whom will you look, or to where will you flee for help? All that is dear to you may be torn from you, or you from it. Or, if it please God to prolong our tranquility, you are liable to many heavy calamities in private life. And if you should be exempted from these, death is inevitable, and may be near. My heart wishes you the possession of those principles which would support you in all the changes of life, and make your dying pillow comfortable. Are you unwilling to be happy? Or can you be happy too soon?
You who have access to the throne of grace, whose hearts are concerned for the glory of God, and who lament not only the temporal calamities attendant upon war, but the many thousands of souls who are yearly precipitated by it into an eternal, unchangeable state—you, I trust, will show yourselves true friends to your country by bearing your testimony and exerting your influence against sin, the procuring cause of all our sorrows; and by standing in the breach, and pleading with God for mercy, in behalf of yourselves and the nation. If ten persons, thus disposed, had been found even in Sodom, it would have escaped destruction!
2. What we must do
Your part and mine is to watch and pray. Let us pray for ourselves, that we may be found waiting, with our loins girded up, and our lamps burning, that we may be prepared to meet His will in every event. Let us pray for the peace of Jerusalem, for His church, which is dear to Him as the pupil of His eye, for the spread of His Gospel and the extension of His kingdom, till His great name be known and adored from the rising to the setting of the sun, and the whole earth shall be filled with His glory.
Many splendid prophecies are yet unfulfilled, and He is now bringing forward their accomplishment. Light will undoubtedly arise out of this darkness. Let us earnestly pray for a blessing from on high, upon our rulers, upon the counsels of government, and upon all subordinate authority in church and state—that we may lead quiet and peaceable lives in all godliness and honesty, that religion and good order may be established, and iniquity be put to shame and silence. Thus we may hope to be secured, by the sure though secret mark of divine protection.
The Lord will be our shield, though many should suffer or fall around us. The very hairs of our heads are numbered. Or if, for the manifestation of our faith and the power of His grace, He should permit us to share in common calamities, we may rely upon Him to afford us strength according to our day. He is always near to His people, a very present help in the time of trouble; and He can make the season of their greatest tribulations into the season of their sweetest consolations.
“Because thou servedst not the LORD thy God with joyfulness, and with gladness of heart, for the abundance of all things; therefore shalt thou serve thine enemies which the LORD shall send against thee, in hunger, and in thirst, and in nakedness, and in want of all things” (Deu 28:47-48). These words of Moses to rebellious Israel emphatically describe the former and the present state of many nations who have been spoiled, insulted, and glad if they could escape (great numbers could not so escape) with the loss of their all, and at the peril of their lives, to a more hospitable shore. May their sufferings remind us of our deserts! Who can tell if the Lord may yet be merciful unto us, and exempt us from similar calamities!
IV. Our Only Sure Resource
But though we have much cause to mourn for our sins, and humbly to deprecate deserved judgments, let us not despond. The Lord our God is a merciful God! Who can tell but He may repent, and turn from the fierceness of His anger, that we perish not. If the professed business of this day be not confined to a day, but if, by His blessing, it may produce repentance not to be repented of, then I am warranted to tell you from His Word that there is yet hope. You that tremble for the ark and the cause of God, whose eyes affect your hearts, who grieve for sin and for the miseries which sin has multiplied upon the earth—take courage! Let the hearts of the wicked shake like the leaves of the trees when agitated by a storm; but be not you like them. The Lord God is your refuge and strength, your resting place, and your hiding place; under the shadow of His wings you shall be safe (Psa 46:1; 119:114; 36:7).