Excerpt for The Battle of Lexington: A Sermon and Eyewitness Narrative by , available in its entirety at Smashwords


THE BATTLE OF LEXINGTON

A Sermon & Eyewitness Narrative

by Pastor Jonas Clark


Original Title:

The Fate of Blood-thirsty Oppressors, and

GOD’s Tender Care of His Distressed People, 1776

Including poems


Paul Revere‘s Ride, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Lexington, Oliver Wendell Holmes

Lexington, John Greenleaf Whittier

Concord Hymn, Ralph Waldo Emerson


Republished by

© 2007 by Nordskog Publishing Inc.

Second Printing, August 2010

Third Printing, August 2013

Fourth Printing, July 2015


Published 2017 by Nordskog Publishing Inc. at Smashwords

E-Book ISBN: 978-0-9824929-7-0

Library of Congress Control Number: 2007935667


Theological Editor: Rev. Christopher Hoops

Cover Design by Forge Toro—a composite of two nineteenth-century

engravings of Revolutionary War scenes.

Editing & Book Design: Desta Garrett


Copyediting: Kimberley Winters

E-Book Conversion: Michelle Shelfer, benediction.biz


Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture quotations are from:

Holy Bible, The King James Authorized Version

Text has been kept as true to Pastor Clark’s original as possible.


All Rights Reserved

No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means—electronic, mechanical,

photocopy, recording, or otherwise—without prior written permission.


For information:

NORDSKOG PUBLISHING, INC.

4562 Westinghouse Street, Suite E

Ventura, California 93003, USA

1-805-642-2070 • 1-805-276-5129

NordskogPublishing.com


MEMBER

Christian Small Publishers Association


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Table of Contents

The Rev. Christopher Hoops

Introduction: The Battle of Lexington

Publisher’s Selection: Background of Pastor Jonas Clark

Facsimile: The Original Title Page

Sermon—Preached April 19, 1776

The Battle of Lexington—An Eyewitness Narrative of That Day

Endnotes

Appendix

Paul Revere’s Ride

Lexington, by Oliver Wendell Holmes

Lexington, by John Greenleaf Whittier

Concord Hymn, by Ralph Waldo Emerson

Invitation from the Publisher

Other Quality Books from Nordskog Publishing


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The Rev. Christopher Hoops

Founding Theology Editor, Nordskog Publishing

(1950-2008)


As a student at San Bernardino Bible College, Chris Hoops began making missionary field trips to the Navajo and Hopi reservations, partnering with local missionaries. After graduation he was asked to teach Old Testament history and minor prophets at his alma mater (1976–1980).

In 1979, Hoops co-founded the Inland Christian Center Academy and served as principal and administrator. In 1980, he moved to Arizona for one year to help missionary friends teach Bible and theology to Navajo and Hopi students.

From 1981–1984 Hoops traveled around the country, lecturing on the need for home schooling, for teaching America’s Christian History, and for recovering the contribution of Christianity to Western civilization. These activities led to his founding of American Heritage Christian Church (Camarillo, California), where from 1984–1991, he continued to hold seminars and conferences on those topics.

In 1994, Hoops founded Christ Reformed Church (Colville, Washington) and in 1999 he founded Emanuel Presbyterian Church of Colville and led them into joining the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. In 2001 Hoops moved back to California and took a position at Monte Vista Christian School (Watsonville), teaching Bible to middle and high school students.

He and his wife, Gail, raised three children (a daughter and two sons) and then adopted three daughters in Roseville. Rev. Hoops was a leader in the Reformed Christian faith, founding Biblical-theological editor for Nordskog Publishing, and was first on the waiting list for his second liver transplant when the Lord took him home.



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Introduction

The Battle of Lexington


Have you ever wondered who fired the “shot heard ’round the world” that fateful morning of April 19, 1775? Who were those brave men who stood against the best-trained army in the world? The following is Jonas Clark’s Sermon on the one-year anniversary, and his eyewitness narrative of those events.

None other but Jonas Clark could give such an accounting, for he was the pastor of those “embattled farmers” who stood their ground. Clark is herein giving an honest and accurate accounting of the Battle of Lexington. He is also giving testimony of the events of April 19 and answers the great question, “Who fired the first shot?”

There was no better-prepared place to inaugurate the first battle of the War for Independence than the little village of Lexington. For Pastor Clark “discussed from the pulpit the great questions at issue, and that powerful voice thundered forth the principles of personal, civil, and religious liberty, and the right of resistance, in tones as earnest and effective as it had the doctrines of salvation by the cross.” (J. T. Headley, Heroes of Liberty: Chaplains and Clergy of the American Revolution, 1861, 21.) “It was to the congregation, educated by such a man, that Providence allowed to be entrusted the momentous events of April 19, events which were to decide the fate of a continent—that of civil liberty the world over.” (Headley, 23)

Today, the Battle of Lexington is little spoken of, for as a nation we have forgotten our history. We have neglected the heroes of our freedom and liberty. But there was a time when this day was remembered and odes were written to commemorate the occasion. Paul Revere’s Ride and the Concord Hymn are two examples. (See Appendix.)

Our history books no longer tell the true story of Lexington, so we must.

America is perishing for the need of preachers who apply God’s holy Word to every area of life, including personal, civil, and religious liberty. The Church needs more pastors like Jonas Clark, a preacher who taught the great doctrines of salvation in Christ alone and the Biblical right to resistance, which gave his congregation courage to stand in the face of great odds. The Battle of Lexington should inspire every man, in all stations of life, to stand and make a difference.

The Rev. Christopher Hoops, Roseville, California



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Publisher’s Selection

Background of Pastor Jonas Clark

1755–1805


Colonial Militia Minuteman


The Rev. William Ware, Cambridge, MA, in the Annals of the American Pulpit, August 10, 1850, provided insights into the background of Rev. Jonas Clark. I have selected what I feel our readers should know concerning the unique and gifted pastor who was providentially set in Lexington for just such a time as this—the incidents which occurred on the green at Lexington that eventful day which led to the Declaration of Independence and the founding of a nation, one nation under God.

Jonas Clark was born on Christmas day, marking his life in obedience to Jesus Christ. He had six sons and six daughters, all but four living at the time of his death. Four of his daughters married clergymen.

Rev. Clark graduated from Cambridge in 1752 and was ordained in Lexington three years later. In addition to being a fulltime clergyman, he was an industrious, hard-working farmer as well. He cultivated sixty acres of land, which he still owned at the end of his life.

As the pastor of the church at Lexington, he typically gave four sermons a week, written out and orally presented—nearly 2200 sermons in his lifetime. His preaching was vigorous in style, animated in manner, instructive in matter, and delivered with uncommon energy and zeal, with an agreeable and powerful voice. His sermons were rarely less than an hour, often more, and in theological opinions he was considered amongst the Trinitarians and Calvinists.

The spirit and temper of his life were just what the Gospel was designed to produce. He was a Christian in the highest and best sense of the term, shown to be such by a long and exemplary life and a faithful practice of the virtues he had preached to others. He was considered a patriot of the most ardent and decided character.

And at Lexington, he witnessed the first outbreak of the War for Independence. The Rev. William Ware wrote a little less than a hundred years later:

It can be regarded only as a singularly happy circumstance that, as Lexington was to be the place where resistance to the power of England was first to occur, and the great act of a declaration of war first to be made by the act of the people in the blood to be there shed, making the place forever famous in history, the minister of Lexington should have been a man of the principles, character, courage, and energy of Mr. Clark. It can be regarded he was eminently a man produced by the times—more than equal to them; rather a guide and leader. All his previous life, his preaching, his intercourse and conversation among his people had been but a continued and most effectual preparation for the noble stand taken by his people on the morning of the 19th of April, 1775. The militia on the Common that morning were the same who filled the pews of the meetinghouse on the Sunday morning before, and the same who hung upon the rear of the retreating enemy in the forenoon and throughout the day. They were only carrying the preaching of many previous years into practice.

It would not be beyond the truth to assert that there was no person at that time and in that vicinity—not only no clergyman but no other person of whatever calling or profession, who took a firmer stand for the liberties of the country, or was more ready to perform the duties and endure the sacrifices of a patriot, than the minister of Lexington.

When the struggle actually commenced, the people were ready for it, thoroughly acquainted with the reasons on which the duty of resistance was founded, and prepared to discharge the duty at every hazard. No population within the compass of the Colonies were better prepared for the events of the 19th of April, than the people of Lexington; no people to whom the events of that day could more safely have been entrusted; none more worthy of the duties that fell to their lot; or who better deserved the honours which have followed the faithful performance of them. No single individual probably did so much to educate the people up to that point of intelligence, firmness, and courage, as their honoured and beloved pastor.

It was a heavy day to the pastor, who, on the retreat of the British, visiting the grounds directly under the windows of his church, found eight of his beloved parishioners lying dead, and many others wounded. Of the transactions of that morning and day, Jonas Clark drew up a narrative, included as part of his anniversary sermon, which we have republished in this book.

Gerald Christian Nordskog, Publisher



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Facsimile: The Original Title Page


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SERMON

The Fate of Blood-Thirsty Oppressors, and GOD’s

Tender Care of His Distressed People.

A

SERMON,

Preached at Lexington,

April 19, 1776


To commemorate the MURDER, BLOODSHED and

Commencement of Hostilities, between Great-Britain

and America, in that Town, by a Brigade of Troops of

George III, under Command of Lieutenant-Colonel

SMITH, on the Nineteenth of April, 1775.


TO WHICH IS ADDED,


A Brief NARRATIVE of the principal

Transactions of that Day.


BY JONAS CLARK, A.M.

Pastor of the Church in Lexington

(1730–1805)


Those Things doth the LORD hate:—A proud Look, a lying

Tongue, and Hands that shed innocent Blood. Prov. 6:16–17


MASSACHUSETTS-STATE: Boston;

PRINTED BY POWARS AND WILLIS

1776


A SERMON

The Fate of Blood-Thirsty Oppressors, and GOD’s

Tender Care of His Distressed People.


Joel 3:19, 20 & 21


EGYPT shall be a desolation, and EDOM shall be a desolate wilderness, for the violence against the children of Judah, because they have shed INNOCENT BLOOD in their land. But Judah shall dwell forever, and Jerusalem from generation to generation. For I will cleanse their blood that I have not cleansed; for the LORD dwelleth in Zion.

NEXT to the acknowledgement of the existence of a Deity, there is no one principle of greater importance in religion than a realizing belief of the Divine government and providence as superintending the affairs of the universe and intimately concerned in whatever happens to mankind, both as nations and kingdoms, and as individuals.

Deeply to be impressed with a sense of the divine providence, to realize that GOD is Governor among the nations, that His government is wise and just, and that all our times and changes are in His hands and at His disposal, will have the happiest tendency to excite the most grateful acknowledgements of His goodness in prosperity, the most cordial resignation to His paternal discipline in adversity, and the most placid composure and equanimity of mind in all the changing scenes of life. Inspired with this divine principle, we shall contemplate, with grateful wonder and delight, the goodness of God in prosperous events, and devoutly acknowledge and adore His sovereign hand in days of darkness and perplexity, and when the greatest difficulties press. This will be a source of comfort and support under private afflictions and trials, and this shall encourage our hope in God and trust in His name, under public calamities and judgments. Yea, however dark and mysterious the ways of providence may appear, yet nothing shall overwhelm the mind or destroy the trust and hope of those that realize the government of Heaven, that realize that an all-wise God is seated on the throne, and that all things are well-appointed for his chosen people—for them that fear Him.

This principle and these sentiments therefore, being of so great use and importance in religion under the various dispensations of providence, one great design of the present discourse is to rouse and excite us to a religious acknowledgement of the hand of God in those distressing scenes of MURDER, BLOODSHED and WAR, we are met to commemorate upon this solemn occasion.

The passage before us, it is humbly conceived, is well-suited to confirm our faith, to excite our trust and encourage our hope under such awful dispensations, as it points out the method of God’s government and the course of His providence towards the enemies and oppressors of His people, and the fate of those that shed innocent blood; and at the same time, represents His peculiar care of His church and chosen and the assurance they have when under oppression, of restoration and establishment, and that God himself will plead their cause and both cleanse and avenge their innocent blood. Egypt shall be a desolation and Edom shall be a desolate wilderness, for the violence against the children of Judah, because they have shed INNOCENT BLOOD in their land. But Judah shall dwell forever, and Jerusalem from generation to generation. For I will cleanse their blood, that I have not cleansed; for the LORD dwelleth in Zion.”

It is not necessary to enquire as to the immediate occasion or literal fulfillment of the prophecy before us with respect to the particular nations or kingdoms here mentioned. It is sufficient to our present purpose to observe that Egypt was early noted in scripture history for oppressing God’s people and causing them to serve with cruel bondage. Edom also is mentioned as guilty of violence towards them and expressing a most embittered hatred and revenge against them; and from the expressions in the text, it is natural to suppose that there had been some, if not many, instances of their shedding innocent blood in their land. (Joel 3:19–21; see also Psalm 137:7) Israel, God’s chosen people had often suffered violence from both these states: so that we have good reason to suppose that both Egypt and Edom, in the language of scripture prophecy, in the text and other passages, may intend not Egypt or Edom only, but (proverbially) in a more general sense, enemies, persecutors or oppressors of God’s people, who violated their rights and liberties, religious and civil, and by the sword of persecution or oppression shed innocent blood in their land.

Prophecies, especially those that are or may be of general use to the people of God, are but seldom literal, either in prediction or fulfillment. They are rather of use to foreshow great and interesting events as taking place in the world in such time and manner, and upon such persons, societies, nations, or kingdoms as shall display the justice and equity of divine government and the peculiar care which Heaven takes of the church and people of God for their correction, instruction, preservation or establishment. Agreeably, St. Paul speaks strongly for this method of explaining and improving scripture prophecies, where he says expressly that “no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.” (2 Peter 1:20) It is therefore rational to suppose that, though prophecies may have special or immediate reference to particular persons, societies, nations or kingdoms and to events in which they may be immediately interested, yet they may be fitly considered as having a further and more important interpretation, which may be of general use for the direction and edification of God’s church and people in all ages to the end. In this general sense, therefore, you will permit me to consider the prophecy in the passage before us: and thus understood, it is easy to see several things suggested in it worthy of our most serious attention and religious improvement upon such an occasion as this.

In the first place, it is admitted that for wise purposes, a just God may permit powerful enemies or oppressors to injure, do violence unto and distress His people, and to carry their measures of violence and oppression to such lengths among them, as to strike at their life and “shed innocent blood in their land.”

As God is the Sovereign of the world and exercises His government for the glory of His name in the good of the whole, so He hath a paternal concern for the special benefit and improvement of His church and people. All creatures are His servants; and God accomplisheth His designs and carries His counsels to effect by what means and instruments He pleases. It is with Him alone, “Who is wonderful in counsel and excellent in working,” to bring good out of evil. When God designs the reproof and correction of His people, He can exercise this holy discipline in various ways and by various means as shall best answer the purposes of His government. This holy discipline is accordingly exercised, sometimes by the immediate hand of providence: as in wasting sickness, parching drought, awful and desolating earthquakes or other judgments which are immediately from God Himself. Or this may be done more immediately by the instrumentality of His creatures; and even the wicked and those that love the wages of unrighteousness, that delight in oppression, waste and spoil or thirst for innocent blood, may be improved as the rod in His hand to correct or punish the sins of His people. With this view, the oppressor is permitted to injure, insult, oppress and lay waste in a land, and to carry his measures to the shedding of innocent blood. With the same design does a sovereign God give the enemy a commission in war, with fire and sword, to distress and destroy.

In such public calamities, it is true it often comes to pass that, as individuals, the innocent are involved and suffer with the guilty and sometimes the innocent alone. But however unjust or cruel the oppressor and those who thirst for blood may be in contriving and carrying into execution their wicked, oppressive, or bloody designs, they are no other than instruments in providence and the rod in the hand of the great Governor of the world for the reproof and correction of His people. These things happen not by accident or chance, but by the direction or permission of that God who is righteous in all His ways and holy in all His works. When Israel sinned and did evil in the sight of the LORD, it is said, “the anger of the LORD was hot against Israel, and He delivered them into the hands of spoilers that spoiled them, and He sold them into the hands of their enemies round about, and they were greatly distressed.” (Judges 2:14–15) Hence also the Assyrian King is expressly called “the rod of GOD’s anger,” for the correction of His people. (Isaiah 10:5) And thus Egypt and Edom in the prophecy before us, in committing violence upon the children of Judah, and in shedding of innocent blood in their land, are held up to view as the rod in GOD’s hand for the correction, reproof and instruction of His people. Agreeably, this is the language of a just and faithful GOD in such dispensations: “ hear ye the rod, and who hath appointed it.” (Micah 6:9)

It matters not, therefore, who are the immediate instruments of violence and oppression, or by whose hands the blood of innocent persons is shed or their substance wasted and habitations destroyed; nor yet from what motives or views such acts of oppression and cruelty are perpetrated with respect to the religious improvement that GOD expects us, or any people, to make of such heavy dispensations. ’Tis GOD and His hand—’tis GOD and His providence which we are first of all concerned to notice, acknowledge and improve. However unjust our sufferings may be from man, yet when we realize the hand of GOD, the great and wise Governor of the world as concerned herein, silence and submission is our indispensable duty, and no murmur or complaint ought ever to be heard, but with reverence and humility it becomes us to bow before the LORD and, adoring His sovereignty, ascribe righteousness to our GOD. Neither the insults of oppressors nor the flames of our once delightful habitations, nor even the innocent blood of our brethren slain, should move to a murmuring word or an angry thought against GOD, His government, or providence. “Shall we receive good at the hand of GOD, and shall we not receive evil?” (Job 2:10) And “shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?” (Genesis 18:25) The more grievously we are smitten, the more deeply we are affected, the more carefully should we endeavour to realize our dependence upon GOD, the more religiously acknowledge His hand and the more earnestly return to Him that smites. This is the lesson of instruction, which GOD expects we should learn by such bitter dispensations, and this the improvement He looks for in us and His people in order to [receive] the restoration of His favor and our redemption from enemies and oppressors who threaten to lay waste and destroy. May these things, then, be deeply impressed on each of our hearts. But I pass—

Secondly, to observe the fate of oppressors and the sentence of heaven against those that do violence to GOD’s people and shed innocent blood in their land. Egypt shall be a desolation, and Edom shall be a desolate wilderness, for the violence against the children of Judah, because they have shed innocent blood in their land.

However just it may be in GOD to correct His people, and whatever right is ascribed to Him of improving the wicked, as the rod in His hand to correct, or the sword to punish them, yet this alters not the nature of their oppressive designs, neither does it abate their guilt or alleviate their crime in these measures of injustice, violence or cruelty by which the people of GOD are distressed.

Thus GOD speaks of the Assyrian king, a prince noted in history for his avarice and ambition, cruelty and oppression, (and in him, of the Assyrian state, whose character was included in that of its king) saying, “O Assyrian, the rod of mine anger and the staff in their hand is mine indignation. I will send him to an hypocritical nation; and to the people of my wrath will I give him a charge to take the spoil and to take the prey, and to tread them down like the mire of the streets. Howbeit, he meaneth not so, neither doth his heart think so, but it is in his heart to destroy. Wherefore it shall come to pass, that when the LORD hath performed His whole work upon mount Zion and on Jerusalem, I will punish the fruit of the stout heart of the king of Assyria and the glory of his high looks.” (Isaiah 10:5–8, 11–12) And so it came to pass: For this power that with such a mighty hand, and for so long a time, oppressed GOD’s people and other nations, in GOD’s due time, felt the weight of the iron yoke and received double for all the injustice, oppression and cruelty it had exercised towards others.

In this and many other circumstances with which history abounds, it is easy to see the fate of the enemies of GOD’s people and oppressors of mankind. But we need not go from the text for satisfaction in this matter. In the words of the prophecy before us, we have the sentence of heaven against the oppressors of GOD’s people and the doom of those common enemies of mankind pronounced, and the reason thereof assigned in the clearest terms. Egypt shall be a desolation, Edom shall be a desolate wilderness, for the violence against the children of Judah, because they have shed innocent blood in their land.

The LORD is a GOD that loveth righteousness and hateth inequity, in whatever shape or character it appears. Injustice, oppression and violence (much less the shedding of innocent blood) shall not pass unnoticed by the just Governor of the world. Sooner or later, a just recompence will be made upon such workers of iniquity. Yea, though hand join in hand in measures of oppression and violence against GOD’s people, and though their avarice, ambition and lawless thirst for power and domination may carry them on ’till their steps shall be marked with innocent blood, yet certain it is they shall not finally go unpunished. For a time indeed, and but for a time, such workers of unrighteousness, such destroyers of mankind may practice and prosper, but “vengeance slow is vengeance sure.” Their ways are marked before GOD. Their punishment and destruction are sealed in His presence, and the time is hastening when destruction without remedy shall be their portion.

The truth of these sentiments hath often been verified in providence, and the proudest princes and the most powerful states have been taught by severe, by fatal experience, that desolation from the LORD awaits the impiety of those who do violence to His people and “shed innocent blood in their land.”

Here then we may see the light in which that people or nation are to be considered that walk in the ways of oppression and that thirst for and shed innocent blood. Here we may also see the ruin to which they are hastening, the awful judgments that await them, and the great reason they have to fear the sentence of heaven denounced against them in the prophecy before us and its literal fulfillment upon them; which naturally leads in the last place—

Thirdly, to observe in the prophecy before us, the peculiar care God takes of His Church and people, and the assurance they have, even when actually suffering violence and under the cruel hand of oppression, of redemption, restoration and establishment; and that GOD himself will plead their cause, and both cleanse and avenge their innocent blood. Nothing can be more directly expressive of this sentiment or a firmer ground of assurance for the confirmation of the faith and hope of GOD’s chosen people in the belief of it, than the promise and prophecy concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the text. While Egypt and Edom—while the enemies and oppressors of God’s people—are doomed to that desolation they so justly deserve, the strongest assurances are given “that Judah shall dwell forever, and Jerusalem from generation to generation. For I, saith God, will cleanse their blood that I have not cleansed: For the LORD dwelleth in Zion.” The words are plain and need no comment. They speak the language of scripture, fact and experience for the confirmation of the faith and hope of God’s Church and chosen, in days of perplexity and darkness and when actually under the injustice, violence and cruelty of inveterate enemies or bloodthirsty oppressors.

Here are two things for the inducement and confirmation of the faith and hope of God’s church and people in such times of darkness and distress, which are well worth serious notice and attention.

First, God’s word and promise in which He assures His people that, notwithstanding the violence of their enemy against them and the distress and sorrow their oppressors may have caused them by shedding innocent blood among them, they shall never avail to overthrow or destroy them; but assuredly His people shall be redeemed, and restored and established as His church and people in a flourishing state.

And then, secondly, to leave no doubt upon their minds as to the fulfillment of this blessed promise, a gracious God condescends to explain Himself in the clearest terms possible, and to satisfy them that nothing should fail of all that He had promised, He assures them that He would take the work into His own hands and see to the accomplishment of it Himself; that thus it might appear to them and to the world of mankind, that the Lord was with them and dwelt in the midst of them. “Judah shall dwell forever and Jerusalem from generation to generation: For I will cleanse their blood, that I have not cleansed; for the Lord dwelleth in Zion,”—words well suited to cheer and comfort the sinking spirits of God’s afflicted, oppressed people, and words which might rouse the faith and give a spring to the hope of the most feeble and faint-hearted among God’s people in the depth of distress. For “God is not a man that He should lie, nor the son of man that He should repent.” (Numbers 23:19; see also 1 Samuel 15:29) “Hath He promised, and shall He not perform? Hath He spoken, and shall He not bring it to pass?”

Blood is said to be cleansed, or avenged, when justice hath taken place and the murderer is punished. God may be said to cleanse the innocent blood which may have been shed among his people by the sword of oppressors or enemies, when in providence He undertakes for them, avenges their blood upon them that slew them, and reduces them to reason or ruin.

The sword is an appeal to heaven when, therefore, the arms of a people are eventually successful, or by the immediate interposition of providence their enemies and oppressors are subdued or destroyed. When a people are reinstated in peace, upon equitable terms, and established in the enjoyment of all their just rights and liberties, both civil and sacred, then may it be said that the Lord hath cleansed their innocent blood, and then will it be manifestly evident that their God is with them and dwelleth in the midst of them.

Now, of this, God hath given His people the strongest assurances in the prophecy before us, and these assurances are confirmed by the word of God to His people through the sacred scriptures. So that, though for their sins and the multitude of their transgressions, a righteous God may justly afflict and correct His people by the hand of oppressors and permit their most important rights to be violated, their substance destroyed, their habitations to be laid waste, or even the innocent blood of their brethren to be wantonly shed in their land, yet still He is their God in the midst of them and will readily appear for their help when they return from their evil ways, acknowledge His hand and implore His mercy and assistance. This holy discipline is no more than what God hath given His people to expect as a reproof of their declensions and as a means of bringing them to a sense of their dependence upon Him. Such dispensations are so far from being an evidence that God hath forsaken His people, given them up, or forgotten to be gracious, that they are rather to be considered as demonstrations of His paternal care and faithfulness towards them. Agreeably, in His covenant with His servant David and His house, this method of conduct is expressly stipulated as a token of His special care and faithfulness and of the remembrance of the covenant He had made. “If his children forsake my law and walk not in my judgments: Then will I visit their transgression with the rod and their iniquity with stripes. Nevertheless, my loving-kindness will I not utterly take from him, nor suffer my faithfulness to fail. My covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing that is gone out of my lips.” (Psalm 89:30–34)

In such visitations, God evidently intends the best good of His people; not their destruction but their reformation. And if they see His hand, humble themselves under it and seek him aright, God will not fail to remember His covenant and His promises for them and, in His due time, appear in His power and glory for their relief. Yea, the bowels of His mercy will be moved at their distresses, and His language will be the same as unto His people of old when under the Egyptian yoke they were caused to serve with cruel bondage. “I have seen, I have seen the affliction of my people which is in Egypt, and have heard their groaning, and am come down to deliver them.” (Acts 7:34) And to encourage His saints and people to trust on His name and hope in His mercy, a gracious God hath most explicitly promised them His presence, direction and assistance in all their distresses, be they ever so numerous, ever so great. His language is merciful, condescending and endearing—especially when by the prophet Isaiah he says to his afflicted people—“When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire thou shalt not be burnt; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee. For I am the LORD Thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour.” (Isaiah 43:2–3a) From these passages of sacred writ it appears that as God in infinite wisdom sees fit to exercise His people with trials and afflictions, and sometimes to call them to pass through the depths of adversity, so he hath provided for their support and given them the greatest reason to hope for His presence and assistance and the strongest assurances that they shall be carried through all and, in the end, rejoice in God, as the Holy One of Israel, their SAVIOUR. In short, nothing can be more expressive of God’s care of His people in distress and of the solid ground they have to hope for redemption and salvation, in His way and time, which are always the best.


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