Men call themselves the nation when they sin in a body, and think that the nation, being a name, has nothing to answer for, and may do what it will; that its acts are only the "course of events," and necessary, as the motion of the earth. They do very rash acts, without the fear of God before their eyes, making large and bold changes (whether allowably or not, is not here the question; their plain fault being that they do not ask themselves whether or not it is allowable,-the question does not enter their minds); I say they make large changes,-they endanger God's holy religion,-they encourage scoffers and deceivers. Then, perhaps, they see they have gone too far, and they change their course; perhaps try to reverse what they have done. Now the thought never crosses them that any one has any thing to repent of; or, if they are determined to put the blame on the nation, that the nation has any thing to repent of. Accordingly, persons who hail the return of any portion of the nation to a sounder state of mind, never hint or seem to feel that a national sin has been committed, that Almighty God has books in which are set down the events of every year and day, books which will be opened at the Day of Judgment, and men judged out of them.
--Blessed John Henry Newman, "Chastisement and Mercy, " Parochial and Plain Sermons, Vol.4