Jonathan Mayhew.

A discourse on Rev. XV. 3d, 4th. Occasioned by the earthquakes in November, 1755. Delivered in the West-meeting-house, Boston, Thursday, December 18 .. online

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Online LibraryJonathan MayhewA discourse on Rev. XV. 3d, 4th. Occasioned by the earthquakes in November, 1755. Delivered in the West-meeting-house, Boston, Thursday, December 18 .. → online text (page 1 of 5)
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LL_li . ^^y^.UA



Dr. Mayhew^s


On Xev. XV. t 4*

Occafioned by the


In November 1755.




Oil Rev, XV. 3^' V^.
Occadoncd by the EARTHQUAKES

In November 1755.

Delivered in the Weft-Meeting-Houfe,

Bofion^ ThiiiTday 'December 18, following.
In iive Parts, with an Introduction.

Parti, of tl)e Grcatncfs of"^ T Part IV. Of our Obligation to

God's \\^orks. C 3 fear, glorify and worihip

Part II. Of their man-cllous \ / Him.

and unfcarchablc Nature. - >. ^

Part III. Of the moral Per- / ^ Part V. Praaical Refleaion*

fcdions and Government of r ) upon the Subje<5t, relative

God. J I to the Occafion.

By yonathan Mayhew^ D. D.

Pallor of the AVeft Church in Bojlotu

They Jliall fpeak of the Glory of thy Kingdom, and talk of
thy Po^ver : To make knavon to the Sons of Men His
mighty Afb, and the glorious Majejiy of His Kingdom.

Psalm CXLV.

B S T N: N. E.

Printed by Edes & Gill, and Sold at their Office,
next to the Prifon in Queen-Street ; and by K.
T>raper, in Newbury-Streety


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- Advertifement-

ON'E or two whole Para-^
graphs^ and the Parts of
fever al others^ omitted in
delivering the enfuing Difcourfe^
for want of T'ime^ are inferted
in this Publication in their pro-^
per Places^ without any Mark
of DiJiinBion.

The Introduction-

My Brethren,

TH \T part of God*s holy word, upon which
my Dilcourfe at this time will be grounded,
is in the X Vth Chapter of the Revelation of St. John,
the 3d and ^th Verfes.

— G R E AT and marvellous are thy
works^ Lord God Ahnighty \ juft
arxi true are thy ways^ thou King
of Saints ! WHO pall not fear
theey OLord^ and glorify thy
name I for thou only art holy : For
all nations pall come and ivorpip
bejore thee ; for thy judgments
are made manife/i,

THE uncommon and alarming occurrences of
divine providence, which wc have experi-
enced in the late Earthquakes, feem to
demand a very particular and uncommon
Jioticc. And altho* I have not, till now, invited you
into the houfc of God, for that purpofc ; yet you»
My Brethren of this focioty, are my witnefles, that I
have not let thefe providential vifiutions pafs wholly



unregarded hitherto ; but^ more than once, taken cc-
cafion to fpeak of them ; and improved them as an
argument to inforce that praftical rehgionand holincfj
of hfe, which is doubtlefs the moral end and defigii
of them. So that many things which might have
properly been faid upon the occafion, have already
been faid in this place : Which raufl: be my apology
with thofe who may not hear, in this difcourfc, fomc
things which they might, perhaps, expeft in it. For
I am not fond of repetitions, efpecially upon a rubje(n:
which fuggefts fuch a great variety of reficclicns, as
renders it quite needlefs to ufe any ; and in difcour-
fing upon which, it is, indeed, much more difficult to
contra£l and ftipprefs, than it is to enlarge.

A.KD now we are aflcmbled together, out of the
common, flated courfe, to contemplate, and religi-
oufly to improve, thefe mighty and wonderful works
of God, I know of no pafiage of fcripture, fitter for
the bafis of a difcourfc upon fuch an occafion, than
that which was juft now read to you. This will na-
turally lead us from particular inftanccs and manifef-
tations of God's power, to a more enlarged contem-
plarion of his mighty deeds ; and the glory and ma-
jefiy of that kingdom, which " ruleth over all."

There is fuch an elevation and dignity, fuch a di-
vine energy and pathos, in this pafiage of fcripture, as
can hardly fail to raife and fix the attention of every
one. However, if any thing farther fliould be necef-
fary to this end, it Vv'ill be found in the great occafion
upon which, the glorious place where, and the



bleflcJ Ones by whom,thc words arc fappofcd to liavr
been originally uttered. I fiiall, therefore, juft re-
mind you of thcfe things, before I proceed to a parti-
cular confideration of the paflage itfclf.

St. yohn the Divine, being in the Spirit, and rapt.
m the vifions of God into future times, had a reprc-
fentation made to him of the woes and plagues, and
the final deflru^lion, which were to come upon thofc
of the grand apoftacy from the pure faith and woriliip
of the Gofpcl ; upon that antichriftian power which is
emblematically dcfcribcd by " a woman araycd in
"purple, and fcarlet colour, and decked with gold,
" and precious flones and pearls ; " — and having
t' upon her forehead a name written, Mystery
" Babylon the great, the mother of harlots,

" AND abominations OF THE EARTH." * Thc pla^UCS

which St. John in his vifion, or rather vifions, favt
coming upon great Babylon, (whatever is intended
hereby) were fucceffive ; and arifing one above ano-
ther in greatncfs and terror, till at length " there
" were voices, and thunders and lightnings,'* as he
exprcfTes it ; and "a great Earthquake, fuch
" a one as was not fince men were n|X)n the earth, fb
'' mighty an Earthquake and fo great. And thc great
" city was divided into three parts ; and the cities of
" the nations fell ; " [i. e. of the nations which had
" drank of the wine of the wrath of her fornication,"
chap. XIV. ver. 8.] " and great Babylon came in
*' remembrance before God, to give unto her the
" cup of the wine of the ficrccncfs of his wrath." •*

* Rev. 17. 4, 5. ^ Chap. XVI. vcr. x8, 19.


It feems to have been at this dividing of the great
city into three parts by an Earthquake , attended, <x
immediately followed by a mighty fire ; and not at
her final overthrow, that St. yohn faw the " kings of
" the earth who had committed fornication with her ;"
the *' n>ei;chants who were made rich by her ;'' and
*' every fhip-maHer, and all the company in ihips," — -
*' {landing afar off, for fear of her torment, weeping
" and wailing, and faying, Alas 1 alas ! that great
** city**— for in one hour fo great riches is come to
*' nought**! — and "crying when they faw the fmoke
** of her burning, faying, What city is like unto this
" great city ! And they cafl duft upon their heads,
" weeping and wailing, and faying, Alas! alas ! that
'* great city, wherein were made lich all that had
** fhips in the fea — Rejoice over her, thou heaven, and
" ye holy apoftles and prophets ; for God hath aven-
*' ged you on ber !'* ^ I fay,it feems not to be her final
deflrutStion, at which thefe lamentations of fome, and
exultations of others, are made ; that being tobe effeftcd
by another,and (lill greater earthquake. And this her
utter ruin was accordingly reprefented to St. John
immediately after, by the following exprefllve emblem-
" And a mighty angel," fa\s he, " took a flone like
*' a great mill-flone, and cafl it into the fea, faying^
" THUS, with violence, fhall that great city Ba-
" by Ion be thrown down, and fhall be found no
" MORE AT ALL. And the voice of harpers and
** muficians, and of pipers, and of trumpeters, fhall

' Chap. XVIII. ver 3, 1 5—20.


" be heard no more at all in thee — and the light of
" a candle fiiall fliine no more at all in thee ; and
" the voice of the bridegroom and of the bride Iliall
" be heard no more at all in thee : for thy mer-
*' chants were the great men of the earth ; for by
" thy forcerics were all nations deceived." * This
is plainly her final overthrow and deftruftion. But
who, or what is meant by Babylon ^he great, the wo-
man arayed in purple and fcarlet, and ftyled the mo-
ther of harlots and abominations of the earth ; who
or what, I fay, is intended hereby, I lliall leave every
one to conjeflurc ; only juft obfcrving, that St. jfohn
tells us, ilie fitteth on " feven hills ;" that fhe " reign-
" eth over the kings of the earth ;*' and that " in
*' her was found the blood of prophets, and of faints,
''- and of all that were llain upon the earth."

Now it is to be obferved, that when St. yohn faw
the " feven angels having the feven lad plagues ''"
to pour out upon the earth, and particularly upon Ba-
bylon, he had alfo a vifion of that glorious region
where thofe wei'e, " that had gotten the vi61:ory over
" the beaft, and over his image, and over his mark,
" and over the number of his name — having the harps
" of GOD." " And diofe bleded and happy pcrfons
it was, diat he heard " figging this fong of Moses
" the fervant of GOD, and the fong of the Lamb,
'' faying, Great and marvellous arc thy works, Lord
" GOD Almighty !" &c.

B This

• Ver. 21, 22, 23. •• Chap. XV. vcr. t. ^ Vcr. 3.


This is the anthem of the blcfTcd, in thofe glori-
ous manfions, with reference to the great events of
which St. yohn (peaks ; while they anticipate the
final overthrow of that power which " exalts itfelf
" above all that is called God, anel that is woriliipped."
And thefe circumflances being taken into confidcra-
tion, they cannot but give an additional folemnity and
dignity to this paflage of fcripture, in which there is
fuch a native fabiimity and grandeur, as cannot bnt
ftrike, warm, and elevate the minds of all, except the
groily abandoned, or naturally-flupid.

To imagine that we, poor fbjourners on earth, and
inhabitants of clay, can, with a proper ardor, and an
equally elevated devotion, bear a part in this fong of
praifc and triumph, were, indeed, great vanity andpre-
fiimption : But yet, not fo much as to liften to It, and
try to join the chorus, were certainly unbecoming our
profeffion and charadler as chriflians : For by becom.
ing truly fuch, "we claim a kindred with the bleflcd
above ; and are, in a fort, of one fbciety with them ;
being the adopted children of Him,of whom the " whole
'' family in heaven and earth is named." In the flrong
and cmphatical language of fcripture, we are not
only " fellow-citizens with the faints, and of the
^' houiliold of God", here on earth ; but we are
^' come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the

" living God, the heavenly Jerufalem" :

" and to the general affembly and church of the
" firft-born which are written in heaven" ; and
not only ' ' to the fpirits of juft men made per-

" made


'* fefTt", but '' to an innumerable compivny of
'' angels" ; and not only to an innumerable com-
pany of angels, but " to Jcfus the Mediater of the
'•' new covenant"; and not only to Jefiis the Media-
tor of the new covenant, but " to God the Judge of
" all". '' If we are truly the difciplcs of Chrift, we
are now united by faith, by love, temper and affec-
tion,notonly with faints, angels,and arch-angels above,
but with our glorified Redeemer ; and God himfelf
dwellcth in us, and wc in God *>.

Let us, therefore, bearing in mind the honourable
kindred, and glorious relation, which we boafl to the
inhabitants of Slon that is above, *' draw near with a true
" heart, in full alTurance of faith"; even as *' feeing
" him who is invifible'*; and in his immutable vera-
city beholding and anticipating the great events rc-
prefented in thefe vifions of St. yohn ; Let us, I fay,
now draw nx:ar in full alTurance of faith, faying,
*' Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God
" almighty ! juft and true are thy ways, thou King
"-' of faints ! Who Ihall not fear thee, and glorify thy
*' name 1 for thou only art holy : For all nations
" fliall come and worfhip before thee ; for thy judg-
■' ments arc made manifeft!"

However, it is not my defign at prefent, to con-
fider thefe words with a particular view to the origi-
nal defign of them, as they arc found in the vifions
of St. yohn : Had this been my intention, I fhould
have been more cxaft and critical in pointing out to
B 2 you

' Hcb. xii. 22, 23, 24. '^ 1 Joh. 15.


you the order and feries, and the diflin£l parts of
thefc vifions ; which is now ncedlefs : Becaufe I in-
tend to confider the padage as if it were independent,
liaving no connection with any thing preceeding or
following. And being taken in this light, it will, I
fuppofe, naturally enough lead us to fuch contem-
plations upon God, his works and attributes ; and to
fiich praftical refle£lions as will perfe£Hy coincide
with the prcfent occafion, and our defign in coniing
to woriliip and bow down before the Lord our Maker
at this time. For it naturally leads us, in the

FIRST place, to confider the greatnefs of God's
works ; which proclaim liis omnipotence. And

SECONDLY, their wonderfulnefs, and infcruta-

biiity. Which two particulars are obvioufly fug-

gefled by the former part of the paflage : " Great
'' and marvellous are thy works, LordGodv/^/w/^/'/)' P^

THIRDLY, the moral perfections of God, in
the exercife of which he governs the univerfe —
** yuji and true are thy ways, thou King of Saints —
'' thou only art holy — thy judgments are made ma-
'^ nifeft".

FOURTHLY, The obligations lying upon all

men to fear, glorify, and woriliip him — " Who Ihall

*' not y^^r thee, O Lord, ^md. glorify thy name —

" all nations ihall come and zvorflnp before thee."


LASTLY, It will lead us to fome practical re-
HcClions upon thofc great and marvellous works of


Of the Great?iefs^ 8cc. 13

God, to make a religious improvement ofwliich, wc
are now aflemblcd together.

I SHALL be the fhorter in the fpcculative, do^ri-
nal part of my difcourfe, that I may have the more
time for what I imagine will be more ufefui ; I
mean, the practical. And as I would hope there are
none prefent, but what are prefent with a good in-
tention, I iliould be forry if any of my hearers
Ihould go away without being the better for what
they hear. Accordingly, tho' I will endeavour to
remember that men have heads, as well as hearts and
confciences ; yet I iliall aim rather at fpeakingto the
Litter, than to the former.


Of the Greatnefs of God's Works.

LET us then, in die firfl place, confidcr the great-
nefs of God's works ; which proclaim his om-
nipotence. *■' Great-— arc thy works, Lord God ^^i-
'* m'^jhiy P'' — It is to beobfervcd, that there are no
powers in what wc comnionly call natural, fecondary
caufes, but what are, to fay the lealt, originally de-
rived from the firft ; and no real agency in any that
are wholly material. A^fivity or agency, properly
fjpeaking, belongs only to mind or fpirit ; and all
thofe powers ami operations which in common lan-
guage arc afcribed to natural bodies, arc really ef-
fects and operations of the fupremc, original caufc.


14 ^f t^^ Greatvefs

So that all the works which we behold, arc, flriftlv
ipcaking, God's works ; excepting thofe which are
wrought by mcH, and other finite, intelligent beings.
And even thefc latter arc, in one (enfe, God's works;
becaufe, though human agency, and the agency of
other fabordinate intelligences, is not to be wholly
excluded and fet afide ; yet the aftive powers of thefc
beings are both derived from, and upheld by Hira,
to whom " power" emphatically " belongeth" "" :
And alfo becaufe all thefe fubordinate agents, in all
their operations, are under the controul and dominion
of the Almighty ; and employed by Him to fulfil
his purpofes and plcafure. So that all the works
which we behold are, in a large fenfe, and in the lan-
guage of fcripture, the doings and works of God.
And accordingly the works of God, in the fcripture
phrafeology, comprehend thofe of creation, of nature
and providence ; and whatever God does as the Lord
and Governoi of the world, v.hofe kingdom ruleth
over all.

And now, how manifold, and how great are theie
works 1 Whether we turn our eyes to the great and
wide fea, or to the dry land ; to the earth beneath us,
or to the heavens above us, ilill we behold the mighty
works of God. The ocean, which is fhut up within
limits which it cannot tranfgrefs, but when God gives
it a difpenfation for fo doing ; and wherein are thing§
*' innumerable both fmall and great beads ;" this is,
furely, a great and afloniiliing work. And how mighty


• Pfalm kii. ii.

of God's Works » i ^

and powerful is that Being who made, and wlio lias
fixed bounds to it,fliy!ng, "Hitherto flialt thon come,
" and no farther ; and here fliall thy proud waves be
'*^ ftaycd :" that Being, who holds the waters of it
in the " hollow of his hand ;" and whom its winds
and furges obey ? that Being, upon whom all its nu-
merous inhabitants wait, that he may " give them
" their meat in due feafon ;" which are troubled
when he only " hidcth his face/* and die when he
^' takcth their breath r"

The dryland is not Icfs full of his great works and
wonders. Confidcr the beads of the forefts, and the
cattle upon a thoufand hills : Confider the huge,
bulky animals, and the places where they range -
the wide extended plains, and the '^ evcrlafting moun-
" tains'* Vv'ith their fummits above the clouds ; the
mighty volcanos in different parts of the world, whence
rivers of liquid fire flow for miles into the ocean,like
thofe of water from other mountains, as though they
were going to contend for that place which God
*" founded" for the other clement : Confider the
concufTion of an Earthquake, when half a continent
with its neighbouring iflands, and their jflirrounding
fca?, are at once fhaken ; as though the land and wa-
ter v/bich God once feparated, were again to be
mixed and confounded together : Confider thefe
works of God, 1 fay, and tell mc if they arc not
great !

Consider nc>(; the air and atmofphcre with which
the whole earih is furrounded, and in which it is in-

1 6 Of the Great mfs

folded a5 in a garment : Confldcr the numerous peo-
ple, the winged inhabitants thereof, the fowls of lica_
ven, which God daily feeds ; and licnrcth wlien
they cry "" unto him, though we undcrriand not their
language: Confider the whirlwind snd tlie tcmpcfl,
when God '■' bows the lieavens, and comes down,
*' and darknefs is under his feet ;" when he " rides
** upon a cherub and does fly/' yea when he " flies
" upon the wings of the wind ;'* wlien he " makes
*' darknefs his fecrct place, his pavilion round about
" him, where dark waters are, and thick clouds of
" the Ikies" ; when again, " at the briglitnefs that is
*' before him, his thick clouds pafs, hail-flones and
■*' coals of fire ;" when the Lord alfo '' thunders,
" and the Highefl: gives his voice :" — yea, when he
*' fends out his arrows, and fcatters the [guilty, af-
*■' frighted] nations ; andflioots out his lightnings and
" difcomfits them :" '' Confider the returns of day
and night, when we are alternately enlivened and
cheered by the light, and covered with gloom and
and darknefs : Confider the annually-returning fea-
fbns, when God alternately reneweth the face of
the earth, and binds the fields and rivers in icy
bands : Confider thefe works of God, I fay, andtlien
pronounce, whether they are great or not ! " But lo,
*' thefe are [but] parts of his ways ; and how little a

** portion is heard of him !*' *"


a Job xxxviii. 41 . and Pfalm cxlviii. 9. "^ Pfalm xvlii. 9 — i^.
This paflage of fcripture feems plainly to refer to the plagues of
Egypt, and to what happened at the Red Sea.

•^ Job xxvi. 14.

Of God's Wor%s. 17

And if thefe works of God, which have now been
hinted at, arc great, and proclaim an all-powerful
Being ; what do thofc innumerable worlds do, which
we behold revolving about us in fuch an admirable
prdc- ! Who made thofe two great lights, the one
of which rules by day, and the other by night ? Who
made theflars alfo ? Who, thofe numerous, immenfe
glpbcs, compared to fome of which, our earth is but
as an atom, and our ocean as a drop of the bucket ?
Whofe breath gave them all being ? Whofe hand
gives them their motions ? Who direfts their courfcs ?
Who makes them know their proper places and dif-
tances, ^ as not to joftle, and wrack world on world ?
Whofe hand conflantly maintains their order, and fuf-
tains them in being ? When you confidcr thefe things,

furely you cannot avoid exclaiming, — " Great ■

are thy works, Lord God Almighty 1'* '' For [| ve-
rily] the invilible things of him from the creation
of the world are clearly fecn, being underdood by
the things that are made, even his eternal power
and Godhead." »
But die works of God may come under another*
and a mixed confideration, if I may (b exprefs it ; I
mean, as they are the doings of Him who is the righ-
teous fc Sovereign of the world, as well as the Crea-
C tor

' Rom. i. 20.

^ The reader is defined to obferve, though God's moral pcr-
fciflions and government, properly come under the THIRD
head of difcourfc propofed ; yet it is in this mixed, complex
fenfe, that liis works are fpoken of as " great and marvellous,"

1 8 Of the Greatnefs

tor of It, and the Lord of nature. In which refpe^l
they are alfo greit and illuflrious ; and equally fo,
perhaps,whether wc confider the works ofGod's righ,
teous leverity, or his works of mercy and goodnefs.

God's works of judgment, which have been abroad,
aj^d made mainfeft in the earth, from one generati-
on to another, may judly be termed great. Was not
that, one fuch work, for example, when God ruined
fire and brimdonc out of heaven, and confumed thofe
wicked cities, Sodom and Gomorrha ; aiid when the
ground on which they flood, was funk, doubtlcfs by
art earthquake, to a ftanding naufeous pool, as at this
day ? Was not that another fuch work, when ne fent
his Angel, and by him, dcflroyed in one night, fuch
a vaft i.Tultitude in the Adyrian camp ? Was not that
another, when he deflroyed Pharaoh and his mighty
holt in tlie rci^ fea ? — tliat fame Pharaoh, whom he
*' raifed up, for to ihew in him his power, and that
'' his name might be declared throughout all the
" eardi ? " * How many miglity works, of a fimilar
nature to thefe, has God wrought ? and what defola-
tion has he made in the earth, in a way of judgment,
fiiice the foundations thereof were laid by him !


in ths tcxi. Tlie words have plainly refpeft to the afts and
doings of Cod, confidered in a twofold light ; as he is the
Lord of uaiverfa] nature, and the jufl Ruler aud Jcidge of Men.
Upon which account it was thought proper to confider their
greatnefs in this light, by way of anticipation, before the mo-
rality of the divine government comes, incouife, to be di/tindlly
fpoken of.
' Exod \t., i6.

Of God's TVoi'k. 19

But how great, more efpccially, was that work of
God, when the ftoiintaiiis of the great deep were
broken up P when the waters arofc above the tops
of the tailed mountains ^ and the flood of his anger
came '' upon the world of the ungodly, an^ fwept
** them all away 1'*

But God's works of goodnefs and kindnefs are no^
Icis great and illuftrions, from age to age, than thofe
of his jaft fc verity. The prefervation of Lot, whofe
righteous foul was grieved with tlie filthy convcrfati-
on of the wicked ; and the prefervation of Noah, a
preacher of righteoufnefs, with his family, in the ark,
from whom the depopulated world was re-pcopled
after the deluge ; thefc, I fay, were great works of
kindnefs and mercy. And was not that another fuch,
when he led hischofen people like a flock out of E-
gypt, dire*fi:ing tlieir march by a cloud by day, and a
pillar of fire by night ; till, at his command, the fea
retired, and rofe as a wall on cither fide of them, to
let them pafs ? Was not that another work of great
kindnefs to his chofen people, though attended with
terror to them, when he gave them his laws and fla-
tutcs at Sinai ? when the mountain trembled and qua-
ked ; *^ and all the people faw the thundcriiags, and
" the lightnings, and the noife of the trumpet, and
" the mountain fmoaking ; and — removed, and flood
" afar off?" * But to arife flill higher ; if the giving
of the law by Mofes his fcrvant, and by the mini-
C 2 (Iration

• Exod. XX, 18.

20 Of the Greatnefs

ftratlonof angels, was u great work of God's kind-
ncfs ; how much greater is that of his giving the gof-
pel of peace to the world, by his Son Jesus Christ,
who is '' made fo much better than the angels, as he

hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent
'' name than they"? Is not the redemption of this
fiiiful, apoflate world, the work of God ? or is it
not emphatically a great one ? Without controverfy,
great is this work of God, this myftery of godlinefs,

1 3 4 5

Online LibraryJonathan MayhewA discourse on Rev. XV. 3d, 4th. Occasioned by the earthquakes in November, 1755. Delivered in the West-meeting-house, Boston, Thursday, December 18 .. → online text (page 1 of 5)