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GOD will trouble the Troublers of his People. A SERMON PREACHED AT POUGHKEEPSIE, in Dutchess-County, IN THE PROVINCE OF NEW-YORK. JULY 14th, 1758. Being the Day of the EXECUTION of HUGH GILLASPIE, FOR FELONY.

By the Rev. CHAUNCY GRAHAM, M. A. Minister of the Gospel in RUMBOUT.

Published at the Request of the Hearers.

Eccles. Be not wicked over much; why should'st thou die before thy Time.
Psalm. Bloody and deceitful Men shall not live out half their Days. Now consider this, ye that forget God, lest I tear you in Pieces, and there be none to deliver.

NEW-YORK: Printed and Sold by H. GAINE, at the Bible and Crown, in Hanover-Square, 1759.

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DEDICATION. To the Honourable JAMES DE LANCEY, Esq Lieutenant Governor of the Province of NEW-YORK, &c.

May it please your Honour,

I Sincerely congratulate you upon your being, by divine Goodness, called to bear such a Place in Government among your fellow Men, as gives you peculiar Advantages of being a public Blessing to this Province; and at the same Time enriched your Mind with such Endowments as qualify you for the Duties of your exalted Sta­tion, as well as dispose you to such a steady, vigorous and faith­ful Discharge of them, as proves an Encouragement to Virtue and a Terror to Evil Doers; an Instance whereof occasioned the following Discourse, which, tho' unworthy of your Honour's No­tice, yet as a Token of the Author's Gratitude, is now humbly laid at your Feet. And that your Honour may long be continued a rich public Blessing to your Country and to Mankind, by exploring and cutting off such as in Contempt of the Laws, would destroy our Peace and prevent our Prosperity; and at last enjoy the glo­rious and eternal Reward of Well-doing, is the constant Prayer of him who accounts it his Honour to subscribe himself, in all Duty and Obedience,

Your Honour's Most obsequious, and Very humble Servant, CHAUNCY GRAHAM,
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A SERMON, &c.

JOSHUA vii. 25.And Joshua said, Why hast thou troubled us? the Lord shall trouble thee this Day.

THO' we, of the present Generation, are fallen into the very Dregs of Time, wherein, if the Stewards in God's House are faithful to their divine Master, they must lift up their Voices as Trumpets, to tes­tify against the God-provoking Impieties of a pro­fessing People, and warn a sinful Generation to flee from the Wrath to come: However all their solemn Declarations may be reproached with the fashionable Epithet of Cant and Whine, and their most plain and scriptural Representations of the dreadful Consequences of Rebellion against Heaven, be esteemed harsh, ungenteel and unmannerly, by the Gay and polite Sinners of the Age; Yet if Men wou'd but seri­ously consider this Matter, without any Resentment of the Preacher's honest Plainness, only as it is represented in the sacred Cannon, it will appear that the dreadful Confusion, the amazing Horror and eternal Torments, which will be the inevitable Consequence of a Life of Impiety, inconceiv­ably exceeds the utmost Reach of their most extended Imagi­nation; enough to make the stoutest hearted Rebel, against the most high God, fall down and cry out, What must I do to be saved, from the impending Wrath of a just God, that is ready to be poured out on my guilty naked Soul, in one eternal Storm! yea, to lay his Hand upon his Mouth, and his Face in the Dust, if so be, there may be Hope.

BUT should we, for once, put even Eternity out of the Account, and only view the various Mischiefs done to human [Page 4] Society, by the daring Crimes of bold Transgressors, as well as the Miseries such bring upon themselves, even in this World; one would think that a due Consideration, even of this, might be a sufficient Restraint from gross Iniquities, to every one that has the least Degree of Benevolence, or Spark of Self-Love dwelling in his Heart. Yet, alas! such is that Tyranny which the unbridled Lusts of abandon'd Sinners, exercise over their rational Powers, that they thoughtlessly, hurry on in the full Career of sensual Gratifications; not con­sidering that Destruction and Misery is in their Way, nor once regarding the Mischief they are doing to the whole Com­munity, whereof they are Members; whilst by their Contempt of all Laws, both Divine and Human, they are really the Troublers of God's People, bringing crimson Guilt on the Land, and pulling down complicated Judgments upon the Inhabitants thereof; and when God's People are not vigilent­ly careful to bring such to suitable Punishment, their criminal Connivance, or indolent Negligence, inhances common Guilt, and brings down aggravated Wrath: Whereas, on the Con­trary, when the Powers, which are ordained of God, exert themselves to their utmost to detect and punish Evil-doers, they hereby become Ministers of God for Good to his People, remove Guilt, and prevent Judgments. Thus it was in the Case of Achan, whose Crime, Trial, Confession and Execu­tion, we have the Record of in this Chapter.

As I have already, both for the Benefit of the condemned Criminal, now before me, and also of the Public, from Joshua's Advice to Achan, Ver. 19, took Occasion to point out, and enforce this Criminal's Duty, to make a full, free and unreser­ved public Confession of his Crimes, by which he has forfeited his Life, and a faithful Discovery of all his Associates in Ini­quity: So as we are now assembled to see the Execution of a just Sentence pronounced upon him, and witness his suffering the Penalty of the Law, which he has broken, and behold him violently cut off from the Land of the Living; as being so mischevious to Community, that he deserves not to be con­tinued a Member of human Society: Allow me to suggest to you a few Things on this melancholly Occasion, from the Words of Joshua to Achan, just before his Execution. You doubtless remember Theft was the Crime for which Achan was both indicted and executed. The sad Affair stood thus: [Page 5] Upon the miraculous Reduction of Jericho, Achan, contrary to an Express divine Prohibition, Chap. vi. Ver. 18, feloni­ously takes away sundry Goods, with a Wedge of Gold, which he hid under the Earth in his Tent: Soon after Joshua sends three Thousand Men on an Expedition against Ai, but on their first Attack they fled before the Men of that Place, and returned with the Loss of Thirty-six Men. Joshua, sensible of the Cause by the Effect, that a jealous God was some way provoked, rent his Cloaths, fell upon his Face to the Earth, with the Elders of Israel, in which Posture he and they con­tinued till Even-Tide; when Joshua prays to God to discover the Reason of so shameful a Defeat. God answers his Pray­ers, shews him the Reason, gives Direction to find out the Felon, and orders what Death he shall die. Thereupon Jo­shua arises early in the Morning, and by attending the divine Direction given him, Achan is taken, whom Joshua exhorts to make a public and full Confession of his Crime; with this he readily complies; and his Confession appears true, by the stolen Goods being found in the Spot where he said he had hid them; then the Children of Israel take and bring him to the Place of Execution, where Joshua previously addresses him in the Words of my Text, both by Way of Query and awful Threatning, Why hast thou troubled us? the Lord shall trouble thee this Day; q. d. Can you possibly offer any Reason to justify your Conduct, in abusing and thus troubling the whole Camp of Israel, by provoking God to anger with them? Know assuredly, it will be repaid this Day; we are ordered to take thee from the Land of the Living, and send thee to God's dread Tribunal, to answer for all thy Crimes, nor can one Day's Reprieve be allowed thee from the Execution of that Sentence of Death thou art now under.

WHAT I design, further from the Words, is to shew:

I. How it is, that notorious Sinners trouble God's People.

II. WHAT Troubles such undergo, when God brings them to condign Punishment.

III. MAKE some suitable Improvement.

1st. I am to shew, how it is that notorious Sinners Trouble God's People. And in general: They trouble them in their whole common Course of Life. All their Schemes are con­certed and prosecuted, some Way or other, to the Damage [Page 6] and Injury of the Publick. They set up their own private and personal Interest, above that of the Community; nay, fre­quently in Opposition to it, and pursue it in such a Way, as that if they succeed, the publick Interest must necessarily sink. It is one of the first Maxims with this Sort of Vermin, that it is no Matter what Injury is done to any particular Person, or what Damage accrues to Communities, if it is but subservient to their own private Advantage, nor do they regard how shameful, sordid and vile the Methods are, in which they pursue it, if they are but successful.

BUT particularly, such trouble God's People, by ruining the Interest of the Publick. Every Body Politic, whether Kingdom, Province, Colony or Corporation, has an Interest of its own, in which all its Members are included, and hence it becomes both the Duty and Interest of every Member, in their Conduct, to pursue the Good of the Whole; and where these come in Competition, to prefer the public Weal to their own private Interest; nor can they honestly prosecute their own Profit, but in this beautiful and becoming Subordination. Such therefore, as set up their own personal Advantage, as the chief Prize they keep in their Eye, regard not what be­comes of Public, even though their own private Advantage should finally terminate in its utter Destruction. Their own Gain is the Deity they worship, let the Consequences be what they will unto others. Thus Achan, to gratify his own cove­tous Thirst after Gain, fell a pilfering among the Stuff, not regarding in the least, what malign Influence his Theft might have on the whole Congregation of Israel. Auri Sacra Fames, quid non Mortali Pectora coges!

THIS Principle acts variously in different Persons; yet the Consequences are, in a greater or less Degree, the same in all, viz. destructive to the Interests of Society; for it is only the same Principle acting in various Forms, or the Improvement of different Methods, for the Attainments of the self same End, to-wit, the building up personal, on the Ruin of public Interest. Some it inclines to the Practice of picking, pilfer­ing and stealing from their Neighbours; while others chuse to act more covertly, under some Shew of Honesty, yet car­rying on a Trade of over-reaching, cozening, cheating, ex­tortion and defrauding in their Dealings. Some not so well suited with the former base Methods of hurting the Public, [Page 7] by ruining its Members, as it were, singly, one after another; take a more expeditious Method, as they conceive, to become rich, by ruining whole Provinces and Colonies; aiming, by one fatal Stab, to let out the very Heart's Blood of Commu­nities. These Miscreants are very sensible that no civil State can subsist or flourish without Trade and Commerce, and that this can never be maintained without some fix'd and pro­per Medium; being too lazy by lawful Industry, to procure a Sufficiency of such Medium, to provide Things honest in the Sight of all Men, and ashamed to beg, they lay them­selves out in the most shameful Practice of counterfeiting the public Currency, of their own and neighbouring Govern­ments. Of this Kind are our Money-Makers, a Brood of Vipers, that are eating out the Bowels of Provinces and Co­lonies, and by their Practice rendering themselves a common Neusance, to be detested and purged out by every one, who has any Relish for the Comforts of a social Life: These care not how much they distress the State, by ruining its Trade, and cheating it out of its proper Medium, whilst they endea­vour to impose upon it, their own spurious Stuff, as if it were current Money with the Merchants; who sees not when this Cheat is artfully managed, and successfully carried on, that it increases the Medium, in Proportion to the Number of Counterfeits; and that this, with other Things, has had a direct Tendency to depreciate the public Bills of some Colo­nies to so great a Degree, as rendered them almost useless: Besides such Bills must finally perish in the Hands of some or other, who must inevitably sustain the Loss of it, and the Loss of every Member is the Loss of the Whole. Others in­fest the Traveller on the public Road, rob him of his Property, and sometimes of his Life. Others leave the Land, and com­mence Pirates by Sea, to the great Detriment of foreign Trade, and Ruin of particular Undertakers. Thus, in their several Turns, and various Methods of Iniquity, such Ene­mies of Mankind, as far as lies in their Power, ruin the pub­lic Interest, and thereby render themselves Troublers of God's People.

2d. By bringing Distress on the Public; and this they do in sundry Respects; as,

BY bringing divine Judgments on God's People. God declares, that because of swearing, the Land mourns. In Hos. [Page 8] iv. 1, 2, 3, God declares, He had a Controversy with the Land, because there was no Truth, nor Mercy, nor Knowledge of God in the Land. By swearing, and lying, and killing, and stealing, and committing Adultery, they breake out, and Blood toucheth Blood; therefore shall the Land mourn, and every one that dwelleth therein, shall languish, &c.

BUT why need I multiply Quotations of this Kind from the Scriptures, the Instance in our Text may be sufficient. Here in our Context, we have the Army of Israel fleeing be­fore the Men of Ai, on the Account of Achan's Villany, as the God of Armies himself testifies, Ver. 11, 12, of our Con­text; Israel hath sinned, and they have also transgressed my Cove­nant, which I commanded them; for they have even taken of the accursed Thing, and have also stolen and dissembled, and they have put it among their Stuff. Therefore the Children of Israel could not stand before their Enemies, because they were accursed, neither will I be with you any more, except ye destroy the accursed from among you. God, the Judge of all the Earth, expressly charges the whole Camp with Guilt, and pronounces it ac­cursed for the Sin of one Man: Well might Solomon say, One Sinner destroyeth much Good, when the Sin of one Man be­comes so distressing to all Israel.

A LIKE Case we have, Numb. xxv. Chapter, where the Plague was sent into the Camp, for the Sin of Zimri and Cozbi, and by their Death it was stay'd. Again,

THEY often troubled God's People to find them out, and bring them to deserved Punishment. The Body of a People may feel the distressing Effects of Wickedness committed amongst them, and yet for some Time not be able to disco­ver the Actors; they feel themselves smitten, and greviously wounded in their Interests, but cannot discern the Hand that strikes them; and so, sometimes in order to prevent their own Ruin, they are obliged to take a great deal of Pains, use various Methods, and be at much Cost, to find out those Troublers of their Peace, and Destroyers of their Prosperity. How much Pains did Joshua take, to explore the true Cause of the Mischief that befel the Army? None knew the Cause of the sad Defeat, therefore the whole Congregation of all the Tribes of Israel must be assembled, a Lot must he cast for every Tribe, then thro' every Family of the taken Tribe, and lastly thro' every Person of the discovered Family, Man [Page 9] by Man, till at last Achan is taken. Such Evil-doers exert all their devilish Craft and Cunning, to secret themselves and Crimes, that they may keep out of the Hand of Justice, and multiply Transgression with Impunity, and so often cre­ate much Trouble and Expence to the Publick, as well as to the Persons particularly injured by them, to find them out, and cut them off.

THEY occasion also great Trouble and Distress to the Minds of God's People: Tho' Sinners make light of the blackest Crimes, yet they appear awfully aggravated to such as love and fear God. It is a distressing Thing to every such Soul, to think that God is publickly dishonoured by the bold Transgressions of his Law amongst them, and that heavy Guilt lies upon the Land of their Habitation; hence their Hearts tremble for Fear of God, and they are afraid of his Judg­ments. The Man after God's own Heart, to see others vio­late the Precepts, and trample on the Authority of the great God, was most deeply affected, when he cries out, Psalm cxix. cxxxvi, Rivers of Water run down mine Eyes, because they kept not thy Law. So Psalm cxxxix. 21, Am I not griev­ed with those that rise up against thee? Grieved for the Con­tempt cast on thine Authority, and the eternal Destruction brought upon themselves by their Rebellions against thee. I come to say,

2d. WHAT Trouble such undergo, when divine Justice seizes them, and brings them to that Punishment which is the proper Demerit of their Crimes.

HERE I must own myself non-plussed, to paint to you, my Hearers, the Shocks, the Racks, the Horrors of a condem­ned Malefactor (if he has any Sense at all of his Guilt) just ready to feel the full Weight of his deserved Punishment, from the Hand of that God who will render to every one according to their Works. When he comes to the Day of his Execution, sees the Instruments of Death prepared, to send him to an unknown World of Spirits, and waft him to the dreadful flaming Tribunal of the great JEHOVAH: My very Soul is ready to sink under the Burthen of the Thoughts, to consider how deep Remorse for all his former Crimes, settles on his awakened Conscience, and the never dying Worm begins to prey upon his very Heart-Strings. O what Horror must [Page 10] he feel, if in an impenitent State, at the Approach of Death! What dismal Clouds must hang over his Mind! What Per­plexity and Anguish fill his shuddering Soul! when the fatal Period comes, and not one Hour nor Moment's Reprieve can be granted, but die he must! Die as a Malefactor, unpi­tied by Heaven and Earth, if impenitent. Yet all this is nothing to the Pre-apprehensions of an eternal Existence, if unpardoned, where nothing but Indignation and Wrath, Tribulation and Anguish, awaits them in a Dungeon, infinitely darker than that from whence he was bro't forth to Execu­tion; even Blackness of Darkness for ever. Could we hear the Soliloquy of a condemned Malefactor, might we not rea­sonably expect it would be groaned out in such mournful Language as this, accented with the most Heart-rending Sighs! ‘Alas! my trembling Soul, what a Shudder seized thee when the awful Sentence of Death, the accursed Death to hang on a Tree, made both my Ears to tingle! Now I know the certain determined Hour of my Death, and every Moment hastens it on: O! the awful Hour, when I must be hung up, a Spectacle to Angels and Men, between Heaven and Earth, because unworthy of both. How scandalously shameful the Death! and yet how just, when I reflect on a Life spent in such open Hostility against the God that made me, and the Villanies I have perpetrated, so injuri­rious to the public Weal of my fellow Men; by which I have forfeited my Life into the Hand of civil Justice, and now must die unpitied, unlamented! But O! my Soul, all this would be nothing, yea less than nothing, did not Death plunge thee into a new World, set thee in a new State, where thou must meet with a new, and perhaps dreadful Reward for thy Crimes. And now behold the awful Day is come, look my Soul, my Coffin stands before me, view the Crouds assembled to see the just Sentence ex­ecuted upon me, and now but one Hour or two to make my Peace with Heaven, and do the Business of my whole Life in, which has hitherto been neglected, and in a few Minutes more O! my guilty trembling Soul, thou art to make thine Appearance before the Judgment-Seat of the dread Majesty of Heaven and Earth, and all thy Crimes will meet thee before that Bar, and thou must give an Ac­count [Page 11] of all the Deeds done in the Body, and receive ac­cording to that which thou hast done; and therefore hast Reason to fear a Sentence infinitely more tremendous than that which condemned me to Death here, even, Depart thou cursed into Everlasting Fire, prepared for the Devil and his Angels.

WHEN a condemned Malefactor, on the very Verge of Eternity, thus views himself, and speaks to his own Soul, who can stretch a Thought comprehensive of his Trouble and Dis­tress! He looks back, and sees nothing but an ill-spent Life; forward, and sees Destruction and Misery just before him; upwards, and sees an angry God, ready to frown him away for ever; inwards, and feels nothing but an accusing Consci­ence loaded with the Guilt of blackest Crimes; around him, and sees nothing but Shame and Confusion, and for ought he knows, the Devils ready to drag his departing Soul, when driven out of his Body, down to the Nethermost Sides of the Pit, where his Worm shall never die, and his Fire never be quenched; but the Smoak of his Burning must ascend for ever and ever. O! the inexpressible Trouble! the incon­ceiveable Distress that presses the Malefactor, when God brings him to Punishment!—I now proceed,

3d. To endeavour a proper Improvement of this awful Subject, and sorrowful Occasion.

ARE egregious Sinners by their atrocious Crimes, Trou­blers of God's People? then,

1st INFER. Such as vigorously exert themselves to bring such Villains to Punishment, must be esteemed by the Public, cordial Friends to its truest Interest: We all feel the good Effects of Vigilency and Zeal in the civil Magistrate, to ex­ecute the penal Laws against the Disturbers of our Peace, and Hinderers of our public Prosperity. It is well known, that for a Number of Years past, a Banditti of thieving money­making Vermin, from almost all Parts, have taken Shelter amongst us; and had not effectual Measures been vigorously pursued, they might, by this Time, almost ruined the trading Interests of this and the neighbouring Governments; but, by the Vigilence and Care, the Pains and Industry of his Ho­nour our Lieutenant Governor, who has with Zeal, improv'd both his Authority and Influence, to bring such Wretches [Page 12] under the Execution of the Penal-Laws, the Designs of those Enemies to the State, have been frustrated, and his Honour merits that most endearing Character of a Patriot to his Coun­try, and stands justly entitled to our most grateful Acknow­ledgments. May he long enjoy the Honour, and feel the Pleasure of doing good, and never put up the Sword of civil Justice until he has hew'd to Pieces that whole Knot of Re­bels; brought their black and horrid Schemes to light, and the Authors and Abetters to the deserved Reward of their Villanies. The Honourable Judges of our Supreme Court of Judicature, in this Province, as well as the Worshipful Judges of the Sessions, in this County, together with the other Officers of our Court; have very distinguishingly ex­erted themselves, to break up that hellish Club, and prevent further Mischief to the Public, from that Quarter; and merit our sincerest Thanks for their singular Service herein, done to the Public, and wherein every Man of us may feel our Share. Here I would just beg Leave to wish them Success in this Affair, for the future, not doubting from their past Conduct, but that they will still exert themselves so as to prove a Terror to such evil Doers, and root such a Sink of Villians out of the Province; which will be an unspeakable Service done to the Public, transmit their Names with Ho­nour to Posterity, and gain them highest Esteem from all honest Men, who have a true Regard to the public Interest, and rejoice in its flourishing Prosperity.

2d INFER. When wicked Men by their Crimes, become insupportable to the State, it is a Piece of public Service done to Mankind, for the civil Authority, to cut them off; hereby they become Ministers of God for the People's Good, nor can they become otherwise a Terror to Evil-Doers; to acquit the Guilty is as much an Abomination in the Sight of God, as to condemn the Innocent. The cutting of a Wart or a Wen from the Body, does not only free it from that troublesome and deforming Excrescence, which to the Loss of the whole, drew off so much Nutrition to maintain its useless and troublesome Bulk; but it may prevent the Growth of many more, that would in Proportion, rob the Body of proper Nourishment. The public Punishment of a Malefactor, is not meerly to restrain him, but that it may [Page 13] terrify other Workers of Iniquity, that they may hear and fear, and do no more so wickedly. All suitable Care and Pains should be taken by the civil Magistracy to reform Offenders, and to spare all that are like to be reformed, and become whole­some Members of Society; but such as render themselves unsufferable, must be treated as a gangreened Limb, which must be amputated, rather than the whole Body perish. If we have a proper Temper of Mind, we cannot but feel Pity and Compassion moving in our Hearts, to the very worst of the human Species, when we see them suffering for their own criminal Follies: Yet a Regard to distributive Justice and the public Good, should dispose us to approve the Sentence, and bear a solemn Testimony to its Execution. Achan, by his Wickedness, had become a sinking Burthen, such as all Israel could not stand under; his Theft was too weighty for the whole Army, and therefore, as soon as his Crime was disco­covered, they readily gave him up to Death, the happy Consequence of which was, that God turned away the Fierc­ness of his Anger from Israel, and then they could not only stand in Battle, but put their Enemies to Flight. And this, my Hearers, would no doubt be our happy Case, were there no Achans to be Trublers of our Israel. Therefore,

3d INFER. The great Reason of the sore and distressing Judgments we are under, is the open and aggravated Breaches of the divine Laws, that are found in the midst of us. It must be confessed, that for Years past we have been under the Frowns of Heaven, manifested in a long Series of divine Judgments, one after another, some in a lighter, and others in a heavier Degree, on this Land. Now as God delights in Mercy, and Judgment is his strange Work, so he declares that he does not grieve or afflict the Children of Men willingly; there­fore we must determine the procuring Cause is in ourselves, and that our Ways have not pleased the Lord; and when we search and try our Ways, will not gross, open and scandalous Sins appear to have the greatest Influence, in pulling down divine Judgments upon us; do we not find God threatning his ancient People, in a most emphatical Manner, for such bold and daring Crimes, the Cry of which reached the very Heavens, Jer. v. 7, 8, &c. Where God points out their Sins, and more than once concludes with this awful Inquiry, [Page 14] Shall I not visit for these Things, saith the Lord; and shall not my Soul be avenged of such a Nation as this. Here he lays open and charges upon them, their Idolatry and Uncleanness, their Hypocrisy and Injustice, their Incorrigibleness and Ob­stinacy, their Departures from God, and Defiance of him, their Violence and Oppression, their Sabbath-breaking and Prophaneness, and an horrid and unnatural Combination of some to ruin the whole Nation: Therefore the Judgments they are threatned with, are extremely distressing, and very terrible. A foreign Enemy shall be let loose against them, who should set Guards upon them, so that if they staid in the City they must die by the Famine; and if they came forth they must die by the Sword; and thus they should have no where left to look for Safety, no Place to run for Shelter, nor any Power to trust in for Deliverance: And the Reason of all this fore Distress was, because their Transgressions were many, and their Backslidings encreased. Nay, their Enemies were to as­cend their Walls, destroy their Fortifications, remove their Bat­tlements, carry them into Captivity, and with-hold Good Things from them.—May not this teach us, that it is our Land-defil­ing Sins, our Uncleanness, Intemperance, Profaneness, our Violations of God's Sabbaths, our Polution of God's Sactu­ary, our Contempt of his Word, Ordinances and Ministry; our Theft, Forgery and Perjury, that have brought divine Judgments upon us, while we have had on the one Side, a barbarous and Blood-thirsty People, of a strange Language, let loose against our Frontiers, who shew no Pity, and scarcely give any Quarters; and on the other Hand, we have had a Nation not more powerful than treacherous; as innured to Fatigues, as they are expert in the Arts of War, permitted to enter our Limits, take our Fortresses, demolish our strong Holds, and lead many of our Inhabitants away captive, into a Land of graven Images, where they die unpitied, or live friendless or forlorn, till some kind Providence open a Door for their Deliverance. O! It is our Sins, my Hearers, that cause all these Troubles. We have procured these Things to ourselves; our own Wickedness corrects us; our Backslidings re­prove us. These our Distresses clearly point out to us, present Duty, even to repent and reform; let us then, search and try our Ways, and turn to God, with our whole Hearts. Let [Page 15] every one of us in our respective Places and Capacities im­prove all our Power, Influence, and Advantages, to promote an universal Reformation; especially, let the Civil Authority bestir themselves, to suppress Wickedness and Villany, by a strict Execution of the penal Laws, so as to put all Iniquity out of Countenance, and bear down the most fashionable Sins of the Times, with Resolution, Fortitude and Steadi­ness. And, for your Excitement, here the blessed Encou­ragement God gives to faithful Magistrates, in Jeremiah v. 1. Run ye too and fro thro' the Streets of Jerusalem, and see now and know, and seek in the broad Places thereof, if ye can find a Man, if there be any that executeth Judgment, that seeketh the Truth, and I will pardon it. A very noble Motive indeed, to every civil Officer, to make it his great Care and Business to execute the Laws upon Transgressors; search out and punish Iniquity: And surely happy the People who are in such a Case, who are blest with such, to bear Rule over them, as by Faithfulness in their Places, terrify and chase away evil Doers, and so avert divine Judgments from the Land.

4th INFER. How little soever great Sinners think of it, while they are troubling God's People by their horrid Crimes, they are all the while pulling down complicated Sorrows and Troubles on themselves; and they shall, by their own sad Experience feel, that all these Things shall be Bitterness in the End. Whilst Sinners are in their full Career of Rebellion against Heaven, living in Wantonness and Lux­ury, Idleness and Theft, Prophaneness and Perjury, rolling Sin as a sweet Morsel under their Tongue; they think no­thing of a reckoning Day approaching, or what Sin must cost them in the End. But, alas! alas! when divine Justice seizes them, and gives them up Prisoners to the Hands of the Civil Magistrate, to cut them off from the Face of the Earth, then Sin appears with another Prospect; before, they saw nothing but its painted Face, but now they see and feel its Scorpion's Tail, stinging them to Death! Now all the Honey turns into the Gall of Asps. The Distress that will then unavoi­dably seize them, from a View of the Vileness of their Lives, the scandalous Shamefulness of their Deaths, the Change of their State, and if they are in any suitable Measure convinced of the Greatness and Aggravations of their Guilt, and the [Page 16] Dreadfulness of that Wrath which they have been treasuring up to themselves, by their Sins; then, what Racks of Consci­ence! what Shudders of Soul! what Sinkings of Heart! what bitter Remorse! whilst they review their Lives, and then look forward into a boundless Eternity, where they expect to feel themselves in the Hands of a living, and an angry God, whose Wrath burns to the lowest Hell; from whose Presence, and the Glory of whose Power, they expect to perish with everlasting Destruction, and be plunged into the bottomless Gulph of perfect Horror, and eternal Despair!

5th INFER. When Sinners, by their heinous and daring Crimes, have forseited their Lives into the Hand of civil Jus­tice, they have none to blame for it, but themselves. They cannot reasonably plead Ignorance of the Law; but know, that he who does such and such Things, is worthy of Death; yet they venture on the Crime, and commit the Fact in the Face both of the Law, and of Conscience, knowing that it is for their Lives. Who can they blame? Not the Law; for it is just and good: Not their own Ignorance, but their horrid Presumption; for they know, that the Murderer, the Thief, the House-breaker, the Robber, the Counterfeiter, if convicted, must die. Not the Jury that finds them guilty, for they are un­der solemn Oath to do so, upon sufficient Evidence, and may not do otherwise. Not the Judge who condemns them, for he is obliged in general to give Sentence according to the Jury's Verdict. Not the Governor, because he does not reprieve them, for he is under no Obligations to give them back that Life, which they have already forfeited to the Publick; and it might in its Consequences, be very injurious to the Public, to spare that Life, which has already been justly forfeited; so that the Blame lies wholly at the Malefactor's own Door, and his Blood will be found upon his own Head. But I shall now conclude with a few brief Addresses on this solemn Occasion. And,

1st, I would address the Criminal ready to be executed.—Poor Malefactor! my Compassions are moved, and my Bowels yern towards you.—I am now to make my last Address to you, in the Name of my divine Master, in Behalf of your precious Soul, just before you step into the World of Spirits, to make your most solemn Appearance before the great and dreadful God. You are to go from hence to the Place of Execution, [Page 17] and if you are yet an Impenitent and out of Christ, how shock­ing must the gloomy Prospect be! It is a great thing to die, and enter into Eternity; but to die in such a Manner, and under such Circumstances, must have something in it peculiarly dread­ful. Let me then urge and press it upon you, with the ten­derest Compassion, and yet with utmost Earnestness, as you love your own never-dying Soul, to think closely of the dreadful Scene now opening upon you. Think how you will appear before a God of inflexible Justice, that will by no Means clear the Guilty. What, O! what have you, poor Criminal, to re­commend you to his Love and Favour?

Since your Condemnation, I have shewn you what Confes­sion you ought to make for your abuse to the Public; also how you ought to repent, and cry to God with all your Might, if perhaps the Wickedness of your Heart and Life may be for­given you, and Mercy extended to your immortal Soul, thro' Jesus the only Saviour; that he would renew you by the pow­erful Influence of his holy Spirit, justify you by the perfect Righteousness of Jesus Christ, and yet meeten and prepare you for eternal Felicity▪ I also told you that the Gospel conditi­on of Life, is Faith in the Son of God; which I endeavour'd also, in the clearest Manner I cou'd, to explain to you. Now poor Man, your Conscience knows what Improvement you have made of my Advice and Instructions. Whether you have incessantly sent up your earnest Cries to Heaven for renewing Grace; and whether God has enabled you, from a deep and affecting Conviction of your own Vileness and Wretchedness, Guilt and Misery, and an effectual Discovery of the Sufficien­cy, and Willingness of Jesus Christ; and the Beauty, Excel­lency, and Safety of the Gospel Way of Salvation by him, as has prevailed with you to comply with the Terms, and ven­ture your eternal Interest into his Hands, as knowing he is able to keep that which is committed unto him. If you have not accepted the free and gracious Offer, you are yet in the Gall of Bitterness, and under the Bonds of Iniquity, exposed to the Wrath and Vengeance of that God, who, out of Christ, will be a consuming Fire to Workers of Iniquity. Nothing▪ poor Heart! will save you, but an Interest in Jesus Christ. You must be justified, cleansed, and sanctified, in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and by the Spirit of God. O! then, fly, fly [Page 18] to the Arms of divine Mercy, and lay hold on the Scepter of Grace. Repent of all your Sins, for except you repent, you shall surely perish; pursue a Disposition to forgive your Ene­mies, and hartily ask Forgiveness of those you have injured and wronged. But remember this, you can never do this ac­ceptable to God, without Faith in Jesus Christ; nor is Faith a meer speculative View of Truth, or a rational Conviction that gains only a general Assent. Human Nature has entirely warp'd off from God, and Sinners must turn to him sincerely and unreservedly, or they cannot be happy. Hence God bids us look to him, come to him, trust in him, &c. all which Scripture Phrases intimate, that the Mind must upon a Disco­very of his Power and Ability, Love and Grace in Jesus Christ, turn to him, centre in him, rely upon him, and make choice of him, as its only Portion, and delight in its Choice, and so love him supremely, with all its Heart; from hence will natural­ly flow Grief for Sin, Hatred to Sin, Aversion from all Sin, as being what it is, and a steady vigorous Endeavour after new Obedience, with a free Desire frankly to forgive Mankind, as the Penitent desires to be forgiven of God. This is the Substance of what every Child of Adam must feel, in Order to partake in the great Salvation by Jesus Christ. Consider then, whether you have really complied with the Terms of the Gospel, and thus accepted the Grace of God, as one poor and wretched, miserable, blind and naked; morally uncapable of saving or relieving yourself, and in this View, have you cast yourself at the Foot of divine Sovreignty, owning the Sentence of God's holy Law to be just, and resolved all your Hopes of Help and Salvation, into the meer self-moving Mercy of God in Jesus Christ. Assure yourself, that you must be cloathed with the perfect Righte­ousness of the Lord Jesus, or you can never make a comfort­able Appearance before a righteous God; for tho' God de­clares he can be just, and yet the Justifier of such as believe in Jesus, Rom. iii. 26; yet he cannot, consistent with his governing Perfections, save one Soul out of Christ. It is a vain Thing therefore, for any to fling themselves on divine Mer­cy, without a Regard unto Justice, or a Reliance on the com­pleat Satisfaction that Christ hath made; for tho' God be infinitely merciful, yet he is equally just, and all his glorious [Page 19] Attributes are equally dear to him, and must therefore per­fectly harmonize in the Sinner's Salvation: He will never raise the Honours of one, on the Ruins of another, but here whilst Mercy is abundantly magnified, Justice is gloriously display'd. O! therefore, accept of the Gospel-Offer of a Saviour, come to him as one weary and heavy laden with Sin, under a pres­sing Sense of your Guilt, and your perishing need of Help, and surrender yourself into his Hands, for here is the only Door of Hope, out of which there is no Salvation.

Spread all your Sins, of every Kind, before God; those Sins that are against God only, confess to God alone; those against Man, must be acknowledged to Man. And it will be your Interest, poor Man, who are just entering into a fix'd Estate for a whole Eternity, whose precious Soul my Heart pities; your Interest it is, I say, as well as Duty, to repent of every Sin: Repentance with any Reserve, will be fatal, one Sin unrepented of, will bring certain Damnation, banish from God's Life-giving Presence, and sink you into that Lake that burns for ever and ever, which is the second Death. Now should this be your dreadful Portion (which may infinite Mer­cy prevent) consider seriously, before it be too late, you can­not charge God with Severity, nor complain of him as unkind; then you will be convinced, sadly convinced, that he gave you Means, but you would not use them; he gave you Laws, but you wou'd not obey them; Calls, but you wou'd not hearken to them; Threatnings, but you contemned them; Mercies, but you abused them; Judgments, but you defy'd them. O poor Creature! Remember, if you perish, the Fault is your own. God will be just when he speaks, and clear when he judges. O! what a glorious Reward have you often rejected? What rich Mercy have you all along despised? What Patience and Long-suffering have you abused? Must not all your Destruction then be of your own procuring, your­self being Judge? God has not fail'd on his Part, he has al­lowed you a State of Probation, provided a Saviour for the chief of Sinners, given you his Gospel, sent you his Ministers, repeated his Calls, lengthen'd out his Patience to this Hour, and done all that could be done in these Regards; but you have held fast Wickedness and Deceit, and refused to turn. Now it is come to the eleventh Hour with you, and even [Page 20] Part of that is spent; if you are yet out of Christ, the glori­ous and only Ark of Safety, your Case is most extremely dan­gerous, as your Time is just spent; having but an Hour or Two more to live, and perhaps the great Work of a whole Life, for which you were sent into the World, all to do, in these few remaining Moments, or you undone for ever.

O! bethink yourself, poor Man! for God's Sake, bethink yourself, where you are going, and to whom you must betake yourself in this Hour of Darkness and Distress. Remember Christ is ready to save the chief of Sinners, even at the eleventh Hour: He saved a Malefactor when just expiring; follow the Example of that poor Thief on the Cross, and apply to Jesus Christ as he did, and who knows but you may find the like Acceptance. Christ is still the same, his Love and Pity, his Willingness and Readiness, his Grace and Sufficiency, still the same as ever; and he is near to you, for he possesses your Reins, and is perfectly acquainted with all your Wants, Mise­ries and Distresses; and he alone is able to save you from the Wrath to come.

Time urges me to finish, yet I know not how to leave you, and at the same Time at a Loss what farther Motives to use with you. My very Heart aches for your precious Soul, and I would gladly be the Instrument of saving it from eternal De­struction. Your only Safety I must again tell you, is in Jesus Christ; but with what Arguments shall I prevail with you to accept of his Grace, and be happy for ever! you are at Va­rience with the World, as a Criminal, and perhaps with Hea­ven also as a Sinner. O distressing State! Fly, O fly, from the Wrath to come, and lay hold on offered Mercy in Jesus Christ; cry to him, pour out your Soul before him; plead the Riches and Freedom of his Grace: Tell him he has en­couraged you to plead by former displays of his Mercy; he has pitied other Sinners, great Sinners, when in utmost Dis­tress, and bro't to the last Extremity; and beg that he would extend the same divine Compassion to your precious and im­mortal Soul, and not leave you now to perish in your Iniqui­ties, after you have lived so long in a Land of Light, under the greatest Advantages; and venture your naked, guilty and polluted Soul into his Hand, trusting to his Merits, relying on his Grace, and prostrate at his Foot; if you perish, resolve to [Page 21] perish there. Now, to conclude, what shall I, what can I say more to you▪ poor wretched Man? I can only beg and beseech you, for Christ's Sake, to be reconciled to God. Spend the very few remaining Moments of Life, in reallizing that cer­tain Death, that is just before you; and that Eternity you must this Day enter into; and cry to God with every Breath you have yet to draw, to have Mercy upon your immortal Soul; wash it in the Blood of Christ, which cleanses from all Sin; give Faith unfeigned, and Repentence never to be re­pented of. And I pray sovereign rich Mercy may yet pluck you as a Brand, out of the Burning; give you a just and af­fecting Sense of your Guilt and Vileness; convince you tho­roughly of your undone State, and lead you to Jesus Christ; accept you thro' his Righteousness, cleanse you in his Blood, renew and sanctify you by his Grace; and that tho' now you are to die as a Criminal on Earth, by the Hand of civil Justice, yet he wou'd compassionately receive you to Glory, and make you a singular Monument of his free and sovereign Grace, to all Eternity. Amen.

2. I would beg leave to address the civil Authority, here present, on this awful Occasion.

Gentlemen, tho' I have in some Measure anticipated what I designed for the Matter of this Address; Yet,

Allow me to remind you, that your Work, is not in itself, greater or more arduous, than it is necessary and important to the Public. You are to be Ministers of God, for the Good of his People; in the pursuit of which noble End, you must be a Terror to Evil-doers, and a Praise to such as do Well. The executive Power of penal Laws is put into your Hands; you wear the Sword of civil Justice, which is the Sword of the Lord; let it not rust in the Scabbard, or be worn in vain, but ever keep it drawn in the Cause of God, and the Public.

Suffer me therefore, with that Authority, Freedom, and Faithfulness, that becomes a Minister of Christ; with that Pathos and Solemnity that the Importance of the Matter calls for, and yet with all that dutiful Respect to you, as Fathers in the State, to whom Honour is justly due, even upon the Foot of divine Institution and Precept, to exhort and beseech you, to put our wholesome Laws in the strictest Execution, against the open Contemners and Violaters of them. Let the [Page 22] prophane Swearer, Sabbath Breaker, the beastly Drunkard, and the covetous Thief, feel the Weight of the Law, whilst they Smart under your Rod. These, my Honoured Fathers, these are Crimes not only most flagicious in themselves, but pregnant of many others; fill Heaven with Indignation, and pull down the awfull and desolating Judgments of God upon the Land: Against these, and such like Transgressions, there­fore enter into a sacred Combination▪ among yourselves, and employ all your Power, Influence and Authority to bear them down as with a strong Hand; and whilst, on the one Hand, you with a becoming Vigilence, and due Severity, search out and punish Immorality, Wickedness, Debauchery and Pro­faneness; be sure you neglect not to encourage Regularity, Virtue and Piety, on the other. In this Way you may expect a divine Blessing on your civil Administrations, be honoured as Instruments of a general Reformation, in a loose and de­generate Age, and merit the Character of being the Chariots of our Israel, and the Horse-Men thereof; and to your abundant Satisfaction, see Peace and good Order flourish in your Day.

3. To conclude, I would address myself to this numerous and crouded Auditory, convened on this mournful Occasion. O Sirs! what more awful than the Errand we are come upon this Day, to see one of our poor fellow Men, and fellow Sin­ners, receive the just Recompence of his Crimes. Now, what can be thought of more dreadful than Sin, that furnishes us with the rueful Spectacle we are assembled to view! Behold then in the poor contemned Criminal, as in a Glass, the vile, shameful and debasing Nature of Sin, to how low a State it may bring you, and then leave you exposed to public Shame and Disgrace, helpless and forlorn: And let this sad Warning excite every one of you, my Hearers, to flee from all Sin; without Delay to reform, repent and turn to God, through Jesus the only Mediator, that so Iniquity may not be your Ruin. Here I would particularly urge you to beware of com­mitting any known Sin, do not sin against the Light and Dictates of your own Consciences; this is to sin wilfully, and so to sin presumptuously, and we find no Sacrifices were ap­pointed, under the Law, for the presumptuous Sinner. Sin­ners do not usually begin with the most flagrant Crimes, but [Page 23] they proceed from less to greater, and so their Progression, is from bad to worse. Persons at first perhaps learn to lie, then to swear prophanely, then to disobey their Parents, then to break God's Sabbaths, and despise his Messengers; from thence they proceed to pilfer and steal, then to Burglary, and it may be, Murder. Beware then of the least Sin, as that which, by swift Degrees will draw you on to blacker Crimes, till it bring full Destruction upon you. Every Sin, how little soever it may appear in your Eye, is an Evil of infinite Deme­rit, and exposes to the Curse of the Law, and the Wrath of the Law-giver, both in this Life and that which is to come; and if unrepented of, will assuredly bring eternal Ruin. La­bour therefore every one of you more and more, to get a just Sense of the Soul-damning Nature of Sin. And, O! strive Day and Night, after an Interest in Christ, whose Blood can cleanse you from all Sin; whose Righteousness can cover your Nakedness, whose Grace can renew, sanctify, and meeten you for his Kingdom above. Then you will be safe in him, and tho' you Sin, you will have an Advocate with the Father, Christ Jesus the Righteous; and he that has begun a good Work in you, will carry it on to the Day of compleat Redemp­tion; then his Grace will be your Sufficiency against every Temptation, and his Spirit your Guide into all Truth, and Conducter in the pleasant Ways of Wisdom, and peaceful Pathes of Virtue, afford you the Testimony of a good Con­science for your Rejoicing in the Hour of Death, when you resign up your Breath, and under the Conduct of Guardian Angels take wing, and soar above all created Rounds, to the blessed Regions of immortal Peace and Felicity, and place you in the happyfying Presence of the glorious God, where is Fullness of Joy, and give you an honourable Seat at his Right-Hand, where are Pleasures for ever more; where you shall ascribe Glory and Honour, and Blessing and Praise to him that sitteth on the Throne, and to the Lamb, who loved you and washed you from your Sins in his own Blood, and made you Kings and Priests unto God for ever and ever. To whom belongs the Kingdom, the Power and the Glory, World without End. AMEN.

FINIS.

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