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The Miseries of War.

The Miseries of War.

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Jer. iv. 19. My honels, my bowels ! I am pnwed at my very
heart ; my heart maketh a noise in me : I cannot hold my
peace, because thou hast heard, my soul, the sound of the
trumpet, the alarm of war.

Jer. iv. 19. My honels, my bowels ! I am pnwed at my very
heart ; my heart maketh a noise in me : I cannot hold my
peace, because thou hast heard, my soul, the sound of the
trumpet, the alarm of war.

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Published by: GLENN DALE PEASE on Jun 24, 2014
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Jer. iv. 19. My honels, my bowels ! I am pnwed at my very
heart ; my heart maketh a noise in me : I cannot hold my
peace, because thou hast heard, my soul, the sound of the
trumpet, the alarm of war.
THE propriety of setting apart days for national
humiliation is questioned by none, except those who
despise all religion, or those whose extravagant prin-
ciples of liberty lead them to set at nought all human
authorities. The most pious of the Jewish kings
endeavoured to unite their subjects in prayer and
supplication, as the best means of averting the judg-
ments which they either felt or feared : and even
heathen monarchs have resorted to it, as that which
their own consciences taught them was the most
likely way to obtain favour with the Most High.
We have reason to be thankful that this nation is
now called in the most solemn manner to humble
itself before God, and to implore help from him
under its present difficulties : and happy would it be
for us, if the people at large laid to heart, as they
ought, the calamities which we suffer, or the sins
which have brought them upon us !
In the words before us, we may see what ought
to be our feelings on this occasion, and what our
L What
26 JEREMIAH, IV. 19. [551.
I. What should be our feelings —
That we may estimate aright the feelings which a
state of warfare requires, let us view it,
1 . As a calamity endured — •
[Those who are at a distance from the scene of war, and
hear of it only by l)attles gained or lost, are apt to overlook the
miseries of their fellow-creatures, and to think of nothing but the
general effect which the events may have on their national ag-
grandizement. But if we would form a correct judgment of this
matter, let us endeavour to realize the horrors of war. Let us
think of a hostile army now in our neighbourhood, and marching to
attack the very place wherein we live. How would fear seize hold
upon us, and " all faces gather blackness!" Read the menacing
descriptions given of an advancing army by the prophets Ezekiel**
and Joel*^ : think, from the first tidings of their approach, till you
behold them just; ready to spread desolation and slaughter all
around them ; think, I say, what your feelings would be : does
the prophet exaggerate, when he compares them to the pangs of
a woman travailing with her first-born child*^? See your dearest
relatives weltering in their blood ; your houses spoiled ; the ob-
jects of your tenderest affection treated with the most shocking
indignities ; and you yourselves driven, without food, without
raiment, to wander in the open fields, till your exhausted nature
sinks under its accumulated woes. Well may we tremble at the
bare possibility of such events. Reflect then on a whole kingdom
thus desolated ; the hostile armies carrying fire and sword through
all the towns and villages of a populous country; " A fire de-
voureth before them ; and behind them a flame burneth : the
land is as the garden of Eden before them, and behind them a
desolate wilderness : yea, and nothing doth escape them:" What
a day of darkness and of gloominess" must that be to the people
visited with such awful calamities'^ ! Say then. Brethren, what
your feelings should be at this time ! What if these scenes have
not been acted before our eyes ; are they the less to be deplored ?
And who can tell how soon they may be brought home to our own
doors? We intreat you then to lay these things to heart, and no
longer to indulge a stupid insensibility to the calamities of war.]
2. As a judgment inflicted —
[War is one of God's " four sore judgments," wherewith he
visiueth a guilty land. It is he who giveth the sword a charge
against this or that country % and " says, Sword, pass through
the land^" And as he stirred up enemies against Solomon*^,
on purpose to "avenge the quarrel of his covenant'^, so it is
» Ezek. xxi. 8 — 17. ''Joelii. 4 — 11. •"• ver. 29, 31.
•^ Joel ii. 1 — 3. * Jer. xlvii. 6, 7. ' lizek. xiv. 17^
e 1 Kin. xi. Q, 14, 23, 26. *' Lev. xxvi. 25. .
on account of sin that he is now laying upon us his chastising
rod' or can we doubt but that lis anger has waxed
hot against us, when the judgnients inflii-ted for our sins are
so various and of so long continuance. See in what terms he
describes his anger against his people of old''! and consider whe-
ther, when its effects are so visible on us, it be not high time for
us to tremble. Yes surely, the projjhet's direction is exactly such
as we are now called to follow^: and, if we refuse to follow it,
we may well expect that our judgments will be multiplied, till
they have wrought either our humiliation or destruction™. We
must be stupid indeed if we do not see reason to '^ cry, when he
is so binding us ;" and to " humble ourselves under his mighty
hand," when he is so correcting us,]
But it will be to little purpose to ascertain what
our feelings should be, if we do not also consider,
II. What should be our conduct-
Let us make this inquiry, in reference,
1. To Ministers —
[The prophet tells us what was his conduct, to which indeed
he was irresistibly impelled; " I cannot hold my peace." Mi-
nisters are watchmen, appointed by God himself to warn the
people against his impending judgments. And while it is their
duty to " weep between the porch and the altar," and to in-
tercede with God to spare his heritage", and to "give him no
rest" till he vouchsafe mercy to the land°, it is also their duty
to "lift up their voice as a trumpet, and to shew the house of
Israel their sins." They must " cry aloud, and not spare p."
Let us not be thought harsh, if we execute our commission with
fidelity and earnestness. You yourselves would be the first to
condemn a sentinel who did not give you timely notice of an ad-
vancing enemy : and you will condemn us also in the eternal
world, if by " prophesying smooth things" we contribute to your
ruin. We must then speak, whether you will hear or whether
you w'ill forbear ;" and must warn you, that nothing but present
and eternal misery can be expected, whilst you continue impe-
nitent in your sins*) ]
2. To the people —
[Though the text does not particularly specify your duty, the
context does, and warns you tliat an attention to it is the only
means of quenching that wrath which is now flaming against you.
The advice given you by the prophet may be comprised in three
particulars: Get your obdurate hearts softened Put away
'' ver. 1 7, 18, 22, '' Deut. xxxii. 23 — 25. ' ver. 8.
" Lev. xxvi. 2/, 28. ; " Joel ii. 17. " Isai, Ixii, 6, 7.
¦*' Isai. Iviii. i, "^ Luke xiii. 3, 5.- '
28 JEREMIAH, IV. 19. [551.
the evils which have provoked God's displeasure against you
and, Get your hearts thoroughly renewed and sanctified
by divine grace'"
We accuse not all as manifesting the same obduracy, or as
loaded with the same degrees of guilt ; but if all would search
into their own hearts, they might find much impenitence and un-
belief to mourn over, and much vvorldliness and carnality to put
away : even those who make a profession of religion, if they
would examine themselves closely as in the presence of God,
might find many evil tempers and dispositions, which obstruct the
efficacy of their prayers, and fearfully augment our national guilt.
But if we turn not from our wickedness, it is in vain to hope
that God will turn from his fiery indignation ]
1. The careless —
[This comprehends the great bulk of mankind. Whatever
calamities are endured by others, they feel nothing, anv farther
than it immediately affects thems^elves. " When Gcd's hand
is lifted up, they will not see ;" " nor when his judgments
are in the eaith, will they learn righteousness." But such
indifference is most offensive to God : and they who indulge
it are most likely to become signal monuments of the Divine
displeasure ^ ]
1. The self-confident —
[They who see not the hand of God against them are ever
leaning on an arm of flesh : if they have failed in ever so many
efforts, they still look no higher than to their own exertions for
success. What their views are*, and what the declarations of
God respecting them", may be seen in the prophecies of Isaiah.
O that we may not thus provoke God to jealousy, and bring
accumulated curses on our own heads, when we should be labour-
ing by prayer and supplication to avert them" ! ]
3. The mourners —
[We hope there are some who possess a measure of Jeremiah's
patriotism and piety, and who understand by experience his excla-
mations in the text, " My bowels, my bowels ! I am pained at
my very heart." Would to God that we could see such a spirit
universally prevailing ! There would be no doubt then of a happy
termination of our troubles. Such persons indeed are too gene-
rally considered as gloomy enthusiasts: but they are the best
friends of their country : thev are the people who " stand in the
gap j" they are the few righteous, for whose sake our Sodom has
' ver. 3, 4, 14. It will be easy to enlarge on the three points in
reference to the words of the Prophet.
• SeeAmos vi. 3 — 7. Zepb.i. 4, 6, 12, 13 — 18.
* Isai. ix. 8 — 10. ° ib. ver. 11— 1 7. " Jer. xvii. 5—8.
not long since been destroyed. Go on, Beloved, like ehemiah,
Daniel, and other holy men, bewailing your own sins, and the
sins of this whole nation : and then, if you should not be bo happv
as to see your efforts successful in relation to the kingdom at
large, you may be assured that your labour will not be lost as it
respects your own souls : your prayer shall return into your own
bosom; and your tears be had in remembrance before Gody.]
^ Ezek. ix. 4.

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