365 days with Newton

1 JULY (PREACHED ON THANKSGIVING DAY, 29 JULY 1784)

Cause for trembling

‘Rejoice with trembling.’ Psalm 2:11
SUGGESTED FURTHER READING: Hosea 11:1–11

While we rejoice let us remember the causes we still have as a nation to tremble.
(i) God has a controversy with this land. It seems indeed, with respect to a great part of the kingdom and especially of those who are in most estimation for rank, wealth or human wisdom, an undecided point whether the Lord be God, whether he be the Governor and Judge of all the earth or not. Therefore he has withdrawn his blessing. Divisions in our counsels, disappointment in our undertakings followed. But he is merciful and restores us peace. We, alas, are still hardened—the point is not yet acknowledged and there is reason to fear it must be brought to a new trial. And why should it not? Who that loves the Lord can wish that he should desert his cause, and wickedness and infidelity triumph with impunity?
(ii) The actual state of affairs at present: the accumulated burdens on the state, the violence of parties, the generally acknowledged want of public spirit. It is not necessary that we should be destroyed by earthquake, famine or pestilence. It is enough to ruin us if the Lord does not in an extraordinary manner interpose to prevent our destruction. If he leave us to ourselves, we are going, we are gone.
If you speak of the glory and honour of Great Britain as a nation among the nations, you may write Ichabod upon it—the glory is departed [1 Samuel 4:21]. But what is this? The influence of our pride and oppression will not be so severely and extensively felt abroad—nor the profligacy and luxury be so great at home. Perhaps if we were enclosed within the walls of our island, which may possibly be the case, we may become a more temperate and moral, and therefore a more happy, people. I am not sure that these are upon the whole bad times. It is the best time when the best cause prospers most. The truth, I hope, spreads. The kingdom of our God and Saviour is upon the increase.

FOR MEDITATION: This kingdom is not of this world, nor dependent upon kingdoms of the earth. It cannot be shaken. They who belong to it may rejoice, and so far as they live to their Lord, need not tremble, though the earth itself were moved and the mountains cast into the midst of the sea.

SERMON: PSALM 2:11 [3/3] [END OF AMERICAN WAR OF INDEPENDENCE]

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