Counsel

Our National Sins

"And it came to pass, when King Hezekiah heard it, that he rent his clothes, and covered himself with sackcloth, and went into the house of the Lord. " - Isaiah 37: 1.

I have no design, in the selection of these words, to intimate that there is a parallel between Jerusalem and our own Commonwealth in relation to the Covenant of God. I am far from believing that we alone, of all the people of the earth, are possessed of the true religion, and far from encouraging the narrow and exclusive spirit which, with the ancient hypocrites denounced by the Prophet, can complacently exclaim, the temple of the Lord, are we. Such arrogance and bigotry are utterly inconsistent with the penitential confessions which this day has been set apart to evoke. We are here, not like the Pharisee, to boast of our own righteousness, and to thank God that we are not like other men; but we are here like the poor publican, to smite upon our breasts, and to say, God be merciful to us, sinners. My design, in the choice of these words, is to illustrate the spirit and temper with which a Christian people should deport themselves in times of public calamity and distress. Jerusalem was in great straits. The whole country had been ravaged by a proud and insolent foe. The Sacred City remained as the last hold of the State, and a large army lay encamped before its walls. Ruin seemed to be inevitable. It was a day of trouble, and of rebuke, and of blasphemy. The children had come to the birth, and there was not strength to bring forth. In the extremity of the danger, the sovereign betakes himself to God. Renouncing all human confidence, and all human alliance, he rent his clothes, and covered himself with sackcloth, and went into the house of the Lord.