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[You should never forget what an Almighty Friend you have. How many times in this psalm are you reminded, that the LORD, even the Almighty God, is your helper and deliverer! Were he less powerful, or less vigilant, or less worthy of credit, you might well fear. But what ground can he have for fear, who has God himself for his refuge? O! learn to say with David, “ The Lord is my strength and my salvation; whom then shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” I ask not from whence your dangers or your fears arise: for, if they were a thousand times greater and better founded than they are, this one answer were sufficient to remove them all, “If God be for you, who can be against you?" Only rely on God, and you are safe. See how tenderly he chides your unbelieving fears'. If under any circumstances you are tempted to indulge an unbelieving fear, check yourselves instantly, as David did ; and say with him, “Why art thou cast down, O my soul, and why art thou disquieted within me? Hope thou in God; for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my Godł.”] i Isai. xl. 27–31.
k Ps. xlii. 11.
THANKSGIVING FOR GREAT DELIVERANCE.
Ps. cxxiv. 1–8. If it had not been the Lord who was on our
side, now may Israel say; If it had not been the Lord who was on our side, when men rose up against us : then they had swallowed us up quick, when their wrath was kindled against us: then the waters had overwhelmed us, the stream had gone over our soul : then the proud waters had gone over our soul. Blessed be the Lord, who hath not given us as a prey to their teeth. Our soul is escaped as a bird out of the snare of the fowlers : the snare is broken, and we are escaped. Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth.a
THE Psalmist, after some great deliverance either from foreign enemies or civil insurrection, records, for the instruction and encouragement of the Church in all ages, the goodness of God towards him. The precise occasion on which it was penned, is not known. Instead therefore of dwelling on historical events, which, as applied to the psalm, must be at best conjectural, we shall take occasion from the psalm to set before you, in reference to the solemnities of this day, I. Matter for devout acknowledgment
* This Psalm is with peculiar propriety read on the fifth of November. This small sketch is inserted merely as a sketch, to shew in how small a space a sermon may be contained. The Discourse that follows it was the one used on the occasion.
[To illustrate this, two things are to be considered; 1. Our danger; which, like that alluded to in the psalm itself, has been imminent b. - irresistible
2. Our deliverance; which, like that which is here celebrated, has been suddene -- and effectual --) JI. Our duty arising from it
[This is comprised in two things; 1. Gratitude. The language of all our hearts should be, “ Blessed be the Lord &'
2. Affiance. We should in all future difficulties hope and trust in God as our almighty Protector h - ---] APPLICATION
[However thankful we may be for our national mercies, we must not forget, that there is yet more abundant cause for joy on account of our deliverance from sin and Satan, death and hell, through the mediation and intercession of the Lord Jesus Christ - -- Let the greatness of our danger, and the perfection of our deliverance, be the subject of our daily contemplations, that we may trust in Jesus with our whole hearts, and praise him with our whole souls ---]
b The number of our enemies (like a flood, ver. 4, 5.) their inveteracy against us (ver. 3.) and the combination of circumstances at the time of the mutiny in the fleet, well illustrate this.
c What if God had not been so decidedly for us (mark the repetition, ver. 1, 2.) in some of our naval engagements ? If only half of our victories had terminated as much in favour of the enemy, how different would have been our state, especially when all Europe was combined against us!
d Torn in pieces (ver. 6.) and swallowed up (ver. 3—5.)
e Review the changes in the North ; and our escape is indeed like that of a bird that gets out after having been already caught in the fowler's net, ver. 7.
f Peace is established ; and the snare itself (the principles which occasioned the war) is broken. ver. 7. Written Oct. 1801. & ver. 6.
DCCXVI. GOD TO BE ACKNOWLEDGED IN OUR MERCIES. Ps. cxxiv. 148. If it had not been the Lord who was on our
side, now may Israel say; if it had not been the Lord who was on our side, when men rose up against us: then they had VOL. VI.
swallowed us up quick, when their wrath was kindled against us : then the waters had overwhelmed us, the stream had gone over our soul: then the proud waters had gone over our soul. Blessed be the Lord, who hath not given us as a prey to their teeth. Our soul is escaped as a bird out of the snare of the fowlers : the snare is broken, and we are escaped. Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth.
ON what occasion this psalm was written, we are not informed: but in the title it is ascribed to David: and no period in his history suits it better than the time of Absalom's rebellion, when, but for God's in
position, in defeating the counsel of Ahithophel, the banished monarch and his adherents must all have perished.
But as there is no period fixed, it will be needless to enter into a consideration of any circumstances as connected with the psalm, since all that we should say could rest on no better foundation than conjecture. Of course, if we apply the psalm to the circumstances of our own nation at the present time“, we shall not be understood as intimating that there was any such reference intended by the Psalmist, but merely as accommodating the general expressions of it to our own particular case: and truly we must say, that if they had originally been penned for the occasion, they could not be more suited to it than they are.
Two things then we would lead you to consider: I. The great deliverances which we are now met to
celebrate During this long and bloody war, several occasions have arisen wherein we have experienced the most signal deliverance. We will call your attention to a few: we have been saved, almost by miracle, from, 1. The revolutionary principles
[In our own nation, as well as on the continent, there was a general outcry about liberty and equality; and multitudes in every rank of life united their efforts to overthrow the Constitution of this country, and to establish a democracy in the land. Even pious people in vast numbers were carried away by the delusive idea of ameliorating the condition of the lower
ů Oct. 1814.
classes of society, and lent their aid to others who aimed at nothing less than the utter subversion of the Government. But through the energy of our king, and of those who administered his government, God in his infinite mercy preserved us : and we have lived to see the day when almost all who were so deluded have seen their error, and been led to regard the constitution of this country as the most perfect of any upon earth.] 2. The mutiny of the fleet
[Time was, when the dissatisfaction so industriously cherished and diffused by traitors within our own bosom, and spread, by means of corresponding committees, over the whole land, had reached even that class of men who in all former ages had been the boast and glory of their country, the sailors in our fleet. Many of these broke forth into open mutiny, and threatened to carry our ships, which were the bulwark of the nation, to the ports of our enemies. Such a blow as that would have destroyed us utterly: but the same kind Providence which had watched over us on so many other occasions, interposed to rescue us from the impending calamity, and to restore amongst our fleet that union and energy which have rendered it triumphant in every quarter of the globe.] 3. The threatened invasion
[What immense preparations were made by our enemies to invade us, and what little preparation there was on our part to oppose them, cannot have escaped from our remembrance. True it is, that we were powerful by sea; and that consideration it was which kept the enemy in check: but had not their forces been called off to other encounters, there can be no doubt but that they would have attempted to invade us ; and, if they had succeeded in landing only two thirds of the forces which they might have brought against us, there can be no doubt but that they would have seized and plundered the metropolis, and spread desolation and misery over the whole country. We all know what destruction they threatened us with b; and, could they have once overrun our country, they would have reduced us to such a state of subjection as Israel experienced, when the Philistines suffered them not even to retain a workman in their land, who should be able to fabricate arms for their defence. Not a dock, or a naval architect, would have been left in our land.] 4. The overthrow of the Russian empire
[Already had the whole of Europe been combined against us, and we were constrained to array ourselves against their united force. But the insatiable ambition of our great enemy raised up opposition at last from amongst his own allies, and gave us an opportunity of engaging him in a foreign land, b" Delenda est Carthago!" was their universal cry.
instead of having to contend with him on our own soil. Still however we must have fallen before him, had not his insupportable despotism goaded to resistance the Russian monarch. But at one time, even that event also appeared to have prepared for us a more complete destruction. But God suffered the proud oppressor madly to protract his stay amongst the ruins of Moscow, till a retreat became extremely difficult. Hence arose defeat: the severity of the climate, and the extraordinary energy of the Russian armies, soon dissipated the forces of our enemy; and enabled many who had been compelled to fight under his banners, to turn their arms against him, and to seek the recovery of their former independence. Yet, after all, if the last great battle had not been decided in favour of the allied armies, our enemy might still have retrieved his former losses, and again forged chains for the whole civilized world. But the time was come for God to have mercy on us; and he has had mercy beyond all that could possibly have been expected : he has trodden down the oppressor, as the mire in the streets; and has restored peace amongst all the contending nations, even such a peace as the world never saw before; a peace cemented by universal harmony and love.]
Let us then, instead of contemplating our mercies only, proceed to consider, II. The duty of acknowledging God in them
In the psalm before us, all the success is ascribed to God alone : God's gracious agency is acknowledged to have been the sole cause of Israel's preservation"; for this his name is humbly and gratefully adoreda; and he is declared to be henceforth the only hope of his people. In like manner should we acknowledge him in all the mercies which we now celebrate: for,
1. They do all in reality proceed from him
[We are by no means disposed to withhold our tribute of praise from those who have been the instruments of our deliverance. Those who have been at the helm of our affairs have certainly laid their plans with consummate wisdom ; and our forces both by sea and land have carried them into execution with extraordinary energy. But still, without the Divine blessing their united efforts, however great, would have failed. It is God alone who inspired them either with wisdom or courage; and he alone who gave success to their endeavours. We are assured that even the ploughman and the thresher derive all their skill from him?; how much more then the governors of nations, and the conductors of fleets and armies! The c ver. 1, 2.
6. e ver. 8. f Isai. xxviii. 26–29.