Item of the Day: A Sermon Preached Before His Excellency Francis Bernard (1766)

Full Title: A Serman Preached Before His Excellency Francis Bernard, Esq; Governor and Commander in Chief, The Honourable His Majesty’s Council, And the Honourable House of Representatives, of the Province of the Massachusetts-Bay in New-England, May 28th. 1766. Being the Anniversay for the Election of His Majesty’s Council for said Province. By Edward Barnard . . . Boston: Printed by Richard Draper, Printer to the Governor and Council; and by Samuel Draper, at their Printing-Office in Newbury Street, MDCCLXVI.

An ELECTION SERMON.

NEHEMIAH V. 19.

THINK upon me, my God, for good, according to all that I have done for this people.

AN aquaintance with the history of past ages will lead us to observe, that a common method of the exaltation of a people, hath been by a succession of men of eminent ablitites and influence. A great genius appears at their head, and forms a general scheme of institutions and laws. This being adopted, active spirits follow, who carry it into execution, and the community swiftly ascends to the height of prosperity.

EVEN Israel taken under the peculiar tutelage of Jehovah thus arose to a flourishing state. Moses, by divine direction, gave them the rudiments of civil and ecclesiastical polity. Joshua, by the same influence, led them over Jordan, and fixed them in the destin’d inheritance.

IN a way somewhat similar may we well suppose a people emerging from the depths of distress to regain their national character, Patriots, perhaps of different qualities, exert themselves in turn, agreable [sic] to their circumstances, ’till they make a respectable figure as in the former period of their existence.

AN illustration of this we have in the case of Judah restored to Palestine and the rights and privileges of their fathers, after residence in a strange land, and subjection to a foreign yoke, for seventy years.

DURING so long a term, when public offices of religion could not be regularly performed, when they were conversant with the superstitions of Gentilism, and the manners of masters upon whom they were entireley dependant, it is scarce possible but that the knowledge of divine truth must be greatly lost, the ardor of devoiton cool’d with many, their spirits broken, and generous public temper well night extinguished.

LET us view these exiles going to a desolate country, and a capital in ruins, with intention to possess and improve their ancient patrimony, rebuild their city, set up the worship of God upon the Hebrew ritual, and settle the civil administration to advantage; at the same time despis’d and hated by their neighbours, and retarded as much as possible in every salutary projection.

THESE things considered, nothing can be clearer than the vast importance that they should have wise men for pilots to direct them, men of goodness and intrepidity, to animate them to every arduous undertaking.

ACCORDINGLY a gracious God not only favored them with his prophets to instruct and support them, but rulers to lead and protect them, and forward the enterprises to which they were called —first Zerubbabel and Joshua, under whom the temple was built, and altar for daily sacrifice; then Ezra a scribe well instructed to the kingdom of heaven, who restored the scripture to its primitive purity, and dissov’d those interdicted alliances which weakened their attachment to their religion and country.

BUT Jerusalem yet laid defenceless, enormities in part remained.

THE full accomplishment of the merciful intention of heaven toward that afflicted people was reserved for Nehemiah.

THIS man held a lucrative post in a cour the center of the wealth and glory of Asia, and had an intricate access to the mightiest monarch then living. But surrounded with affluence and honor, he mourned for Zion. His countenance betrayed a troubled sould to his master, who understanding the cause, gave him liberty of absence for a term, invested him with a public character in Jedea, and sent mandatory letters to his officers bordering thereupon to assist him.

HIS arrival to Jerusalem was like the light of the mroning which dissipates the incumbent gloom, and invigorates nature. Every heart was revived, every hand employed. Present with them the walls went up and the city filled with inhabitants. By his incessant care and labours grievances were redressed, and all things regulated in such a manner as to render them easy and happy.

THIS is the lover of his nation, whose words I have read. Think upon me, my God, for good, according to all that I have done for this people.

 LANGUAGE this consonant to the principes of reason and revelation. Natural religion dictates tha Tod is good, and a lvoer of righteousness. The sacrifical services of the temple as insituted for particular cases, or pointing to the promised Saviour, while they imply’d guilt, gave assurance that it was consistent with the rectoral holiness of God to have respect to imperfect virtue. Nothing therfore is here expressed but what is agreable to a justness of tho’t, to a due humility of mind. . . .

 

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Filed under 1760's, Colonial America, Massachusetts, New England, Posted by Caroline Fuchs, Religion, Sermons

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