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!
And let us pray in faith. Let us remember what great things the Lord has done in answer to prayer. When sin had given Sennacherib rapid success in his invasion of Judah, he did not know that he was no more than an ax or a saw in the hand of God. He ascribed his victories to his own prowess, and thought himself equally sure of Jerusalem, but Hezekiah defeated him upon his knees. He spread his blasphemous letter before the Lord in the temple, and prayed, and the Assyrian army melted away like snow. When Peter was shut up and chained in prison, the chains fell from his hands, the locks and bolts gave way, and the iron gate opened, while the church was united in earnest prayer for his deliverance.
The present is a very important crisis. All that is dear to us as men, as Christians, is threatened. Our enemies are inveterate and enraged. Our sins testify against us. But if we humble ourselves before God, forsake our sins, and unite in supplications for mercy, who can tell, but He may be entreated to give us that help which it would be in vain to expect from man. Yea, we have encouragement to hope that He will be for us, and then none can prevail against us. But without His blessing, our most powerful efforts and best concerted undertaking cannot succeed.
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.