30 JUNE (PREACHED ON THANKSGIVING DAY, 29 JULY 1784)
A great and underserved mercy
‘Rejoice with trembling.’ Psalm 2:11
SUGGESTED FURTHER READING: Isaiah 2:1–5
Rejoice that during the war we were favoured with peace at home. I have nothing to say either of the grounds of the war or the terms of the peace in a political view. I believe sin kindled the war and mercy gave us peace. But that when we were gradually drawn into a war with so many formidable powers, we should be preserved in peace, guarded by the providence of God, and that no attempts should be permitted to be formed, or at least to succeed against these kingdoms, is, in my view, a great and undeserved mercy. Especially as the effects of the war, so far as we felt them or suffered by them abroad, had no visible influence to bring us to humiliation and repentance, but rather, as a nation, the increase of dissipation and wickedness and contempt of God kept pace with the increase of our distresses and dangers. We count it a successful war when the enemy’s fleets and armies are destroyed and when islands and provinces are added to our dominion. But no increase of riches or domain can make war properly successful. No conquest can be worth the lives that are sacrificed to obtain them. All the wealth of both the Indies would be a poor equivalent for the havoc and slaughter of the last war. It will be found so at last. Let us rejoice then that this horrid evil is suspended. Nor is it a prevention of the loss of lives only. The death of one person often deeply affects many persons. The parent has perhaps lost a child, by the same stroke a child is deprived of a parent, the wife becomes a widow. The griefs, the woes, the pressures, that have been brought upon individuals and families by the late war, cannot be fully conceived. If there are any hearts so hard and unfeeling as to rejoice in public calamity, if their private wealth is increased by it, yet I hope we can sincerely rejoice that God has sheathed the devouring sword and made wars cease to the ends of the earth.
FOR MEDITATION: Rejoice that we are still favoured with religious liberty and gospel light. God has not taken his mercy and truth from us. He is still carrying on his work, increasing the number of faithful ministers and, thereby, as we hope, adding to the number of his people and of those for whose sakes we are preserved from utter desolation.
SERMON: PSALM 2:11 [2/3] [END OF AMERICAN WAR OF INDEPENDENCE]