Why I Will Not Vote the Democratic Ticket: Historical Document

Why I Will Not Vote the Democratic Ticket.

I am opposed to the Democratic Party, and I will tell you why. Every State that seceded from the United States was a Democratic State. Every ordinance of secession was drawn by a Democrat. Every man that endeavored to tear the old flag from the heaven that it enriches was a Democrat. Every enemy this great Republic has had for twenty years has been a Democrat. Every man that shot Union soldiers was a Democrat. Every man that starve union soldiers and refused them in the extremity of death a crust was Democrat. Every man that tried to destroy this nation was a Democrat. Every man that loved slavery better than liberty was a Democrat. That man that assassinated Abraham Lincoln as a Democrat. Every man that sympathized with the assassin — every man glad that the noblest President ever elected was assassinated — was a Democrat. Every man that impaired the credit fo the Union States; every man that swore we would never pay the bonds; every man that swore we would never redeem the greenbacks was a Democrat. Every man that resisted the draft was a Democrat. Every man that wept over the corpse fo slavery was a Democrat. Every man that cursed Lincoln because the issued the Proclamation of Emancipation — the grandest paper since the Declaration of Independence — every one fo them was a Democrat. Every man that wanted an uprising in the North, that wanted to released the rebel prisoners, that they might burn down the homes of Union soldiers above the heads of their wives and children, while the brave husbands, the heroic fathers, were in the front fighting for the honor of the old flag, every one of them was a Democrat. Every man that believed this glorious nation of ours is only a confederacy, every man that believed the old banner carried by our fathers through the Revolution, through the war of 1812, carried by our brothers over the plains of Mexico, carried by our brothers over the fields of the Rebellion, simply stood for a contract, simply stood for an agreement, was a Democrat. Every man who believed that any State could go out of the Union at its pleasure; every man that believed the grand fabric of the American Government could be made to crumble instantly into dust at the touch of treason was a Democrat.

Soldiers! Every scar you have got on your heroic bodies was given you by a Democrat. Every scar, every arm that is lacking, every limb that is gone, every scar is a souvenir of a Democrat.

What the Republican Party Has Not Done.

The Republicans have done some noble things–things that will be remembered as long as there is history. But there are some things they did not do.

They did not use an army to force slavery into Kansas.

They did not fire upon Fort Sumter.

They did not attempt secession.

They did not plunder the nation of its arms.

They did not inaugurate rebellion.

They did not drive American commerce from the seas.

They did not “huzza” over Union disasters.

They did not “huzza” over Rebel victories.

They did not mourn over Rebel defeats.

They did not oppose enlistments in the Union army.

They were not draft rioters.

They were not “Knights of the Golden Circle.”

They did not commit the atrocities of Libby, Belle Isle, Salisbury and Andersonville.

They did not oppose emancipation.

They were not “Ku-Klux.”

They did not commit the Butchers at Fort Pillow.

They did not commit the horrible massacre at New Orleans.

They did not murder Dixon.

They did not butcher the Chisholm family.

They did not massacre black men at Hamburg.

They did not scourge, and hang, and shoot, and murder men for opinion’s sake.

They did not organize the Louisiana white league of the South Caroline rifle clubs.

They did not drench the South with the blood of inoffensive colored men.

They did not invent the “Mississippi plan.”

They did not use tissue ballots.

They are not “moonshiners.”

They do not resist the national authority.

They did not set up their States above the nation.

They did not try to destroy the Nation’s credit.

They did not try to pauperize the American mechanic.

They have not been an impediment to national growth.

They have not been an impediment to the people’s prosperity.

Can the Democratic party and all Democrats say as much? The people can trust a party that has not done these things, but they cannot trust a party that in whole or in part did do them.


{Back}

Pandemics and Elections

COVID Outbreak

With the worldwide Coronavirus outbreak in 2020 many people have been shocked at “the unprecedented steps government leaders have taken to contain the coronavirus.”[1] Groups of people are no longer allowed to assemble, Churches have been closed, theaters and “non-essential” businesses have been shuttered—all by order of the government, whether local, state, or federal. Rushes on items like toilet paper, milk, and hand sanitizer led to nationwide shortages, and companies with production based in foreign nations have had their factories nationalized or exports restricted, compounding the issues.[2]

The economic damages from the virus were incomprehensibly immense. Since the start of forcible shutdowns of “non-essential” businesses nearly 16.8 million Americans lost their jobs either temporarily or permanently.[3] At one-point economic forecasters worried that the US GDP could drop nearly 40% in the second quarter,[4] and international financial groups predicted anywhere from a Great Recession to a Great Depression level of crisis.[5] Across the globe, 81% of workers “have had their workplace fully or partly closed.”[6]

Civil Liberties

Such events led many to wonder about the effects which this pandemic will have upon the civil liberties in America. Some have cheered the expansion of government, exclaiming that “there are no libertarians in an epidemic,”[7]  and that Americans “need efficient, talented, thriving bureaucracies.”[8] Others warn that “big government has hurt our ability to deal with this crisis.”[9] Lawmakers have seen the pandemic as an opportunity to push their policies and agendas, while media outlets hope that Americans “will not only come to rely on the policies, but begin to see them as a right.”[10]

These varying predictions, imaginations, and hopes all lead towards the underlying questions—what will America look like after this is all over? Will our political institutions even be recognizable? Can free markets survive? Will the Constitution lay shredded on the floor? Will there even be an America? What will become of this “last best hope of earth”?[11]

While only time will truly answer these questions, history provides us a way to anticipate what could happen and what Americans need to be on guard against. The Bible explains that, “there is nothing new under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9). History hold answers to the problems of the present. So let us, “remember the days of old; consider the years of many generations; ask your father, and he will show you, your elders, and they will tell you” (Deuteronomy 32:7).

Spanish Flu

It might come as a surprise, but this is not the first time America has been through such a pandemic. For all the talk of quarantines, closures, and shutdowns being unprecedented there is a remarkable amount of precedent. Perhaps the situation which most parallels our current situation is the deadly Spanish Flu outbreak of 1918-1919. Quickly spreading, deadly, and confounding to the science of the time, it eventually claimed 675,000 lives in America alone. And upwards of 50 million globally.[12]

In response to the seriousness of this new strain of flu the local and state governments across the country enacted many different guidelines and regulations to slow the spread. For example, Wisconsin approached the situation with, “one of the most comprehensive anti-influenza programs in the nation.”[13] By October of 1918 the state ordered the closure of all public institutions such as schools in accordance with the suggestion of the U.S. Surgeon General. Going on to then command localities, “to immediately close all schools, theaters, moving picture houses, other places of amusement and public gatherings for an indefinite period of time.”[14] This included churches as well. When one city refused to immediately comply the state officials threatened to “quarantine the entire town.”[15] When the hospitals ran out of beds for patients, emergency facilities were opened and large numbers of charities and volunteers filled in as nurses and sources of financial aid.[16]

Shutdowns & the Spanish Flu

From a city perspective, San Diego instituted many similar restrictions. Once confirmed cases appeared, the local government “closed all public amusements and facilities indefinitely.”[17] San Diego then authorized the police to enforce the shutdown of, “theaters, motion picture houses, churches, dance halls, swimming pools, gymnasiums, schools, bath houses, auction sales, billiard and pool halls, libraries, women’s weekly club meetings, and outdoor meetings.”[18] Masks were to be worn and instructions were issued so that people could make them at home. When cases began to decline the regulations were loosened, but thereafter another wave arrived and the health board demanded more closures.

This time, however, businesses and citizens fought back, frustrated that after five weeks of being closed by the government they were once again to shut down. Eventually, the statewide California Board of Health forcibly ordered, “a quarantine of theaters, churches, schools, and other public places and gatherings.”[19] In this second wave of government-mandated closures the order “only exempted businesses providing essential services.”[20] Schools did not reopen until the following year.[21]

Elsewhere, other places followed suit. San Antonio closed “all public gathering places, including schools, churches, and theaters,” telling stores not to hold sales and even banning jury trials and public funerals.[22] Citizens were instructed to, “avoid contact with other people as far as possible.…keep your hands clean and keep them out of your mouth.”[23] In Las Vegas they bemoaned that, “nobody knows how long it will last, but until further notice the churches, schools, clubs, and other places of public gathering will be closed.”[24]  

Likewise in Seattle they closed “places of amusement” in addition to “schools, churches, theaters, pool halls, and card rooms.”[25] Seattle is also noted for inventing and administering their own vaccine and commanding people to wear masks with police enforcement.[26] In total:

“The flu caused a six-week closure of churches, theaters, many places of business, and the University of Washington. It threatened to cripple wartime industry at a time of national emergency. It disrupted transportation and communication and taxed a medical community already depleted by conditions of war. It squelched campaign debate before the 1918 elections.…the second wave of flu further destabilized an already shaken society. The beginnings of the disillusionment that characterized the immediate postwar period might well be found in the flu epidemic and its aftermath.”[27]

Economic Ramifications

Economically, the ramifications of the closures were dramatic and damaging. In Little Rock, Arkansas, business reported that there was a 40% to 70% decrease in business, and on average those establishments suffered about $10,000 of actual loss per day during the pandemic (over $170,000 in 2020 dollars).[28] In Memphis and the across of Tennessee, mines and industrial plants struggled to maintain their workforce and even the telephone companies had to begin censoring “unnecessary” calls due to the loss of capacity.[29] Overall, “many businesses, especially those in the service and entertainment industries, suffered double-digit losses in revenue.”[30]

Clearly the Spanish flu had drastic effects upon the nation throughout its duration. From the churches, to the economy, to the election, nothing seemed to be left uninfected by the disease which had covered the country. Literally tucked in between death notices of people dying it was noted during the 1918 midterms that the, “election day passed off quietly here.”[31]

1920 Presidential Election

Harding and Coolidge

After all of this the Presidential Election of 1920 soon began to loom over the horizons. The political effects of the Spanish Flu continued to be felt all the way up to the presidential election of 1920. After a global war, deadly pandemic with strict government regulations, and an increasing level of commitment overseas, Americans seemed ready for a different direction.

On top of that, during the months leading up to the election a massive economic recession came on the back of the Armistice and the lingering worries for the Spanish Flu. The then Vice-Presidential candidate Calvin Coolidge recalled later that:

“The country was already feeling acutely the results of deflation. Business was depressed. For months following the Armistice we had persisted in a course of much extravagance and reckless buying. Wages had been paid that were not earned. The whole country, from the national government down, had been living on borrowed money. Pay day had come, and it was found our capital had been much impaired.”[32]

In response to war, globalism, pandemics, and an increasingly regulatory policy, the nation overwhelmingly elected Republicans Warren G. Harding and his Vice President Calvin Coolidge to the White House. The Harding/Coolidge ticket won by a margin of 277 electoral votes in addition to 26% of the popular vote. This clearly indicated a rejection of the progressivism championed by Woodrow Wilson and his party for so long.

In response to the recession Harding, “cut the government’s budget nearly in half between 1920 and 1922,” instituted tax cuts across the board, and saw the national debt, “reduced by one-third.”[33] When Harding died in office, Coolidge continued in that direction ensuring the booming economy of the 1920s.

A Different Outcome?

When the chains were removed from the nation the economy recovered to such a degree that the effects of the Spanish Flu were largely forgotten. But it could have been much different. In 1920 the democratic ticket consisted of James Cox for President and Franklin Delano Roosevelt for Vice President. Roosevelt’s predisposition towards widespread government involvement would become obvious during the 1930s and the New Deal legislation.

But James Cox’s views were not dissimilar to his more successful running mate. Even those in his own party recognized that Cox “thrives on campaigns” and offered no rebuttal to his acknowledged tendency of “being dictatorial.”[34] Indeed, even businessmen who supported Cox knew that his policies would be, “hostile to all our financial interests,” begrudgingly confessing that, “my financial interests must not and will not taint my political views.”[35] In short, Cox argued for the continuation of Wilson’s expansion of progressive government policies.[36]

Warren, on the other hand, ran on the platform of returning back to the basic foundations of Americanism. He explained that for all the government efforts and interventions:

“Normal thinking will help more. And normal living will have the effect of a magician’s want, paradoxical as the statement seems. The world does deeply need to get normal.…Certain fundamentals are unchangeable and everlasting.”[37]

Harding went on to observe that those who expanded the government during times of crisis, whether it be because of war or disease, are typically reluctant to return those powers back to the people:

“We have a right to assume the automatic resumption of the normal state, but power is seldom surrendered with the same willingness with which it is granted in the hour of emergency. But I think the conscience and conviction of the republic will demand the restored inheritances of the founding fathers.”[38]

In this Harding was soon proved to be correct. The American people did demand the return of their liberties and constitutional government. His election, followed by Coolidge’s leadership, steered America away from a growing government. However, such a direction did not last. The economic policies of Hoover allowed for the rise of Franklin Roosevelt who instituted the kind of sweeping action which Wilson and Cox only dreamed of.

Conclusion

As Americans today treads cautiously through a political landscape dominated by the threat of coronavirus, they would do well to remember the lessons of the Spanish Flu and the election of 1920. Similarly, in 1779, Thomas Jefferson, along with fellow signer of the Declaration George Wythe, explained that:

“Experience hath shown, that even under the best forms [of government] those entrusted with power have in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny; and it is believed the most effectual means of preventing this would be to illuminate, as far as practicable, the minds of the people at large, and more especially thereby of the experience of other ages and countries, they may be enabled to know ambition under all its shapes, and prompt to exert their natural powers to defeat its purposes.”[39]

The best way to defend America and the liberties we inherited is to learn from the past, and, “stand firm therefore, having girded their waist with the truth” (Ephesians 6:14). Otherwise, through measures sometimes imperceptible, conducted often during times of great duress, those freedoms which we ought to hold dear will be buried until a time when a new generation of patriots will rise up to retake them.

However, the American people on a whole have been vigilant throughout the centuries. If the election of 1920 is any indication, we have good reason to hope that this will continue. Let us all learn from the lessons of history, and fight the good fight, strongly finish the race, and keep always the faith.


Endnotes

[1] Kevin Daley, “California’s Stay-at-Home Order Raises Constitutional Questions,” The Washington Free Beacon (March 20, 2020), here.

[2] Gordan Chang, “Coronavirus Is Killing China’s Factories (And Creating Economic Chaos),” The National Interest (February 24, 2020), here; Keith Bradsher and Liz Alderman, “The World Needs Masks. China Makes Them, but Has Been Hoarding Them,” The New York Times (April 2, 2020), here.

[3] Jeffry Bartash, “Jobless Claims Soar 6.6. Million in Early April as Coronavirus Devastates U.S. Labor Market,” MarketWatch (April 9, 2020), here.

[4] U.S. Chamber Staff, “Quick Take: Coronavirus’ Economic Impact,” U.S. Chamber of Commerce (March 16, 2020), here.

[5] Eric Martin, “Coronavirus Economic Impact ‘Will be Severe,’ at Least as Bad as Great Recession, says IMF,” Fortune (March 23, 2020), here; “Coronavirus: Worst Economic Crisis Since 1930s Depression, IMF Says,” BBC News (April 9, 2020), here.

[6] “Coronavirus: Four Out of Five People’s Jobs Hit by Pandemic,” BBC News (April 7, 2020), here.

[7] Peter Ncholas, “There Are No Libertarians in an Epidemic,” The Atlantic (March 10, 2020), here.

[8] Nolan Smith, “Coronavirus Might Make Americans Miss Big Government,” Bloomberg Opinion (March 4, 2020), here.

[9] Michael Tanner, “Big Government Has Hurt Our Ability to Deal with This Crisis,” The National Review (March 18, 2020), here.

[10] Abdallah Fayyad, “The Pandemic Could Change How Americans View Government,” The Atlantic (March 19, 2020), here.

[11] Abraham Lincoln, Message of the President of the United States to the Two Houses of Congress at the Commencement of the Third Session of the Thirty-Seventh Congress (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1862), 23, here.

[12] “1918 Pandemic (H1N1 Virus),” Center for Disease Control and Prevention (March 20, 2019), here.

[13] Steven Burg. “Wisconsin and the Great Spanish Flu Epidemic of 1918.” The Wisconsin Magazine of History 84, no. 1 (2000): 44.

[14] Burg. “Wisconsin and the Great Spanish Flu Epidemic of 1918.” The Wisconsin Magazine of History 84, no. 1 (2000): 45.

[15] Steven Burg. “Wisconsin and the Great Spanish Flu Epidemic of 1918.” The Wisconsin Magazine of History 84, no. 1 (2000): 46.

[16] Burg. “Wisconsin and the Great Spanish Flu Epidemic of 1918.” The Wisconsin Magazine of History 84, no. 1 (2000): 48-49.

[17] Richard H. Peterson, “The Spanish Influenza Epidemic in San Diego, 1918-1919,” Southern California Quarterly 71, no. 1 (1989): 92.

[18] Peterson, “The Spanish Influenza Epidemic in San Diego, 1918-1919,” Southern California Quarterly 71, no. 1 (1989): 92.

[19] Peterson, “The Spanish Influenza Epidemic in San Diego, 1918-1919,” Southern California Quarterly 71, no. 1 (1989): 96.

[20] Richard H. Peterson, “The Spanish Influenza Epidemic in San Diego, 1918-1919,” Southern California Quarterly 71, no. 1 (1989): 96.

[21] Richard H. Peterson, “The Spanish Influenza Epidemic in San Diego, 1918-1919,” Southern California Quarterly 71, no. 1 (1989): 97.

[22] Ana Luisa Martinez-Catsam, “Desolate Streets: The Spanish Influenza in San Antonio,” The Southwestern Historical Quarterly 116, no. 3 (2013): 297.

[23] Martinez-Catsam, “Desolate Streets: The Spanish Influenza in San Antonio,” The Southwestern Historical Quarterly 116, no. 3 (2013): 297.

[24] “Las Vegas,” Albuquerque Morning Journal (October 20, 1919), 5, here.  

[25] Nancy Rockafellar, “‘In Gauze We Trust’ Public Health and Spanish Influenza on the Home Front, Seattle, 1918-1919,” The Pacific Northwest Quarterly 77, no. 3 (1986): 106.

[26] Rockafellar, “‘In Gauze We Trust’ Public Health and Spanish Influenza on the Home Front, Seattle, 1918-1919,” The Pacific Northwest Quarterly 77, no. 3 (1986): 109.

[27] Rockafellar, “‘In Gauze We Trust’ Public Health and Spanish Influenza on the Home Front, Seattle, 1918-1919,” The Pacific Northwest Quarterly 77, no. 3 (1986): 111.

[28] Thomas Garrett, Economic Effects of the 1918 Influenza Pandemic: Implications for a Modern-Day Pandemic (St. Louis: Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, 2007), 19, here.

[29] Garrett, Economic Effects of the 1918 Influenza Pandemic: Implications for a Modern-Day Pandemic (St. Louis: Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, 2007), 20, here.

[30] Garrett, Economic Effects of the 1918 Influenza Pandemic: Implications for a Modern-Day Pandemic (St. Louis: Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, 2007), 21, here.

[31] “Nisqually Valley,” The Washington Standard (November 8, 1918), 4, here.

[32] Calvin Coolidge, The Autobiography of Calvin Coolidge (New York: Cosmopolitan Book Corporation, 1929), 153, here.

[33] Thomas Woods Jr., “The Forgotten Depression of 1920,” Mises Institute (November 27, 2009), here.

[34] Charles Morris, The Progressive Democracy of James M. Cox (Indianapolis: The Bobbs-Merrill Company, 1920), 11, here.

[35] Roger Babson, Cox—The Man (New York: Brentano’s, 1920), 127, here.

[36] See, “1920 Democratic Party Platform,” The American Presidency Project (June 28, 1920), here.

[37] Warren Hardind, Rededicating America: Life ad Recent Speeches of Warren G. Harding (Indianapolis: The Bobbs-Merrill Company, 1920), 109, here.

[38] Warren Hardind, Rededicating America: Life ad Recent Speeches of Warren G. Harding (Indianapolis: The Bobbs-Merrill Company, 1920), 177, here.

[39] See, First Century of National Existence; The United States as There Were and Are (Hartford: L. Stebbins, 1875), 444, here

A Fraud-ian Slip: The Reality of Voter Fraud in the Election of 2020

As of the writing of this article, America is in the midst of perhaps the most contentious and contested presidential election in recent history. The 2020 election between Donald Trump and Joe Biden remains undecided as vote counts continue and legal battles begin. Quickly earning a position among the elections of 1800, 1825, 1876, and 2000 as one for the books, this election’s big question surrounds the novel insertion of wide spread mail-in-ballots and the increased potential for voter fraud. Last minute changes in election laws set the stage for lengthy litigation concerning whether or not such alterations were constitutional, and widespread reports of errors, irregularities, and criminal activity has rocked many people’s faith in the legitimacy of the vote.

1880s Cartoon Criticizing Democrats for Stuffing Ballot Boxes

The unfortunate reality is that from the beginning of elections there have been people who attempted, and in many cases succeeded, at buying, cheating, and stealing their way into political office. America, for all her virtues, has been no different than other places throughout history. Wherever there is a system there are those who will seek to game it through illegitimate practices. As the Scriptures explain, and the Founding Fathers repeatedly affirmed throughout their writings, “the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9).

Even back in in the colonial period of American history, election fraud was such a problem that some of the earliest laws on the books were anti-fraud legislation attempting to ensure free and fair elections. Massachusetts had passed laws as early as 1643, and by the mid-1700s at Rhode Island, New Jersey, Virginia, and other colonies had followed suit.[i] However, wherever there are rules there will be people to break them, and some early American elections were decided based on which candidate provided more “incentives,” whether it be financial or otherwise.[ii] During the Revolutionary War and shortly thereafter, the Founders attempted to secure elections by establishing many state level injunctions against illegal voting practices. The 1776 Pennsylvania constitution, for example, explicitly punished bribery while North Carolina passed anti-fraud laws in 1777.[iii] By 1784 New Hampshire barred anyone convicted of fraud ineligible for holding office.[iv]

After the ratification of the Constitution, voter fraud continued in both tried and true ways as well as new various methods. In 1816, a printed letter warns voters of “spurious and captive tickets and circulars” which struck the Federal Republican candidate for Senate off of the ticket and replacing him with the Democrat running for office.[v] The deception was discovered the day before the election and the Republican letter bemoans that “it is the object of a few who would sacrifice their party for their private interest.”[vi]

“How Copperheads Get Their Votes”

During the contentious years of the Civil War, when brother killed brother, the evils of voter fraud paled in comparison to the greater wickedness afflicting the nation. Those who were content to hold their fellow man in slavery could not be bothered by the lesser immorality of illegal voting. The 1864 election cycle witnessed fraud which parallels the modern-day issues in a surprisingly close manner. Pro-slavery Northern Democrats—nicknamed Copperheads after the venomous snake—went to great lengths attempting to unseat Abraham Lincoln. Harpers Weekly, one of the major newspapers of the day, highlighted how the Copperheads would use the names of recently deceased soldiers to vote illegally.[vii]

On top of that, the Copperheads also schemed to use the mail-in-ballots sent out to the troops as a way of illegally siphoning votes away from Lincoln. After a sting operation revealed that the pro-slavery Democrats had been forging the signatures of soldiers on blank ballots the plot was uncovered and the perpetrators thrown in prison. Despite the seriousness of the voter corruption, the Copperhead agents nevertheless joked saying, “dead or alive they would all had cast a good vote.”[viii]

After the Civil War and the enfranchisement of African Americans, Southern Democrats continued to engage in illegal voting activity such as ballot manipulation and intimidation. The end of Reconstruction as a political compromise following the contested 1876 presidential election opened the door for unchecked voter fraud and illegal election interference throughout southern states. Groups like the KKK (Ku Klux Klan) and the racist Democrats who started that group erected barriers and obstacles to prevent voting rights and transparency.[ix] Complicit in these schemes was an activist Supreme Court which in 1883 struck down all the civil rights passed by the Republican Congress during and in the years following the Civil War.[x]

“Of Course He Wants to Vote the Democrat Ticket”

With the pathway cleared for Jim Crow, poll taxes, voter intimidation, and ballot-box stuffing, the Southern political machines ensured that no one supporting racial equality would be elected under their watch. The influential Harpers Weekly once again stepped in to illustrate the coercive tactics with the political cartoon pictured which was titled “Of Course He Wants to Vote the Democrat Ticket.”[xi]

While such illegitimate elections continued apace in the South, by the early 1900s voter fraud was pervasive in rural counties with people selling their votes and politicians more than willing to buy them. For instance, in poverty-stricken Adams County, Ohio, in 1911 a judge convicted some 1,700 people for selling their votes to the highest political bidder—nearly 25% of total electorate.[xii] One of the citizens confessed to the judge, “I know it isn’t right, but this has been going on for so long that we no longer looked upon it as a crime.”[xiii] It was just the way things were.

A review of American elections in 1918 explained that during the late 19th and early 20th century, “the most common electoral fraud is bribery,” but said further that the “false counting of ballots has been an easy and common way to vitiate [invalidate] election results.”[xiv] After the rampant and unchecked fraud of the late 1800s there was a, “gradual awakening of the American people to corrupt conditions existing in their government,” and the widespread “defilement of the ballot-box.”[xv]

This certainly led to attempts to pass laws preventing politicians from stealing elections, but how can one expect the people who cheated their way into office to stop themselves from doing it again? Therefore, although certainly legislation was passed, by-in-large the political bosses continued to buy, sell, and trade elections. A notorious example happened in 1932 when long-time political boss, Senator Huey “Kingfish” Long of Louisiana, was exposed rigging votes which led to the indictment of 513 election officials in New Orleans.[xvi]

Lyndon B. Jonhson

More famously, in 1948 future president Lyndon Baines Johnson beat out his opponent in the Democrat Party primary for Senate by just 87 votes out of a total 988,295. Where did these votes come from? A specific voting location called “Ballot Box 13” which just so happened to show up and have just the number of votes he needed.[xvii] Although rumors and winks circulated for decades concerning Johnson’s unique method of “campaigning,” the suspicions were confirmed in 1977 when one of Johnson’s operatives confessed to stuffing the votes himself. “Johnson didn’t win that day. We stole it for him.”[xviii]

But certainly, this doesn’t happen today, does it? While technology has changed, regrettably human nature and fallibility hasn’t. Over the past few decades there have been many instances of clearly documented illegal activity surrounding elections—and often the technology has only made it easier than ever to rig an election.

For example, during the transition from paper ballot to electronic machines in the late 1990s and early 2000s, the number of last minute “glitches” which changed the course of an election are astonishing. The machines used by Election Systems and Software (ES&S)—one of the largest voting machine companies—stole governors’ races, flipped ballot initiatives, and caused thousands of votes to be left on the cutting room floor. Investigative journalists identified no less that fifty-six instances of these miraculous glitches occurring wherever these machines were.[xix]

Nebraska’s 1996 race for Senate witnessed the Republican candidate, Chuck Hagel, beat the Democrat governor who had led in the polls throughout the race by fifteen points.[xx] This was the first time in decades that Nebraska had sent a Republican senator to Congress. It was an upset for the ages. Who was this up-and-coming political star? Well, up until fourteen days before announcing his run for office Hagel had been the CEO of ES&S—the company whose machines would be the ones tallying the votes. And later, he managed to mask and hide his continued ownership of substantial investments in the company.[xxi] When rumors of a presidential run floated around Hagel, his old company was responsible for counting some 56% of the nation’s vote.[xxii] Unfortunately any opportunity to concretely verify fraud have long since passed as all investigations and complaints to the Senate Ethics Committee were squashed before getting off the ground.

Political Cartoon Showing the Glass Ballot Box Being the Best Way to Secure Freedom

Election Systems and Software has had to reshuffled the deck and sell off certain parts of the business, some of which were siphoned off into a new company called Dominion—but the danger remains the same. In fact, as of 2017, together ES&S and Dominion control some 81% of the national voting machines which were responsible for counting the ballots of 154,387,532 registered voters.[xxiii] Dominion has continued to expand its influence in American elections and replaced all of Georgia’s voting systems immediately prior to the 2020 presidential cycle.[xxiv]

On top of the red flags surrounding the machines themselves, comprehensive studies of the voter rolls in the 2016 and 2018 election cycles revealed troubling data which made the stage ripe for fraud.  Heading into the 2020 election cycle there were 349,773 dead people on voter rolls across the country, with over half of them being in New York, Texas, Michigan, Florida, and California.[xxv] In 2016 and 2018 there were over 14,000 proven cases of voting after death, with North Carolina leading the nation by a 4-to-1 ratio.[xxvi] Such practices still continue, and just weeks before Election Day 2020, a man was arrested in Pennsylvania for applying for a mail-in-ballot for his dead mother.[xxvii]

Audits of the previous two elections revealed at least 81,649 cases of people voting twice—something completely illegal.[xxviii] Many of these cases hinged upon the easy accessibility to unsolicited mail-in-ballots—as was the case when a Democrat mayoral candidate in Texas was arrested on 25 counts of illegally possessing ballots and 84 counts of falsifying voter applications.[xxix] Likewise, 35,000 registrant files list commercial addresses instead of residential ones—an action which led Congressman Steve Watkins (R-Kansas) to face three felony counts of potential fraud in 2020.[xxx]

Between the vulnerability of voting machines and the rancid condition of voter registration rolls, the stage is set for widespread, nearly untraceable, and possibly irreversible fraud. Whether paper or electronic, Americans are susceptible to having their elections stolen from under their noses. Even in the months prior to the presidential election in 2020, arrests and criminal convictions have happened for illegal voting activities such as the fraudulent use of absentee ballots, duplicate voting, false registrations, ballot petition fraud, and illegal “assistance” at the polls.[xxxi]

In fact, just days before the election the Democrat presidential nominee Joe Biden declared in a press conference, while seemingly reading off a script, “we have put together, I think the most extensive and inclusive voter fraud organization in the history of American politics.”[xxxii]

Many people simply laughed at such a statement. In recent years, Biden has become infamous for incoherent statements and botching speeches even while using a teleprompter. Compilations of his gaffes from just the campaign trail alone easily extend upwards of a half an hour. But now that the election has been rife with hundreds of clearly suspicious cases of “glitches” and “irregularities,” perhaps Biden was just being honest. Rather than being yet another gaffe, perhaps it was a kind of “fraud-ian” slip.

The Symbol of Liberty

Perhaps the most surprising facet of the 2020 election, however, has been the utter denial of even the possibility of voter fraud by legacy media conglomerates. These alleged investigative journalists turn a blind eye to both present evidence and historical fact when they collectively denounce “the myth of voter fraud.”[xxxiii] In fact, the same mass of media outlets which spent three years hopelessly searching for international election interference in the 2016 American election, scoff at even the mention of possible domestic election interference in 2020.

Historically, voter fraud has happened in America since its inception. That the mainstream media agencies refuse to acknowledge its existence does not alter the reality. Instead, such denial only makes them tacit accomplices in the death of the Republic. The same people who warn that democracy dies in darkness are the ones turning off the lights.

To entirely ignore or deny the existence of fraud is irresponsible, ignorant, or maliciously intentional. Everyone, no matter their political affiliation, should have an unquenchable desire for a transparent and airtight election process. Each fraudulent ballot discards someone’s legitimate vote. Every fake declaration silences someone’s real voice. Counterfeit elections devalue and debase the freedom and liberty of all Americans, ensuring nothing except the arbitrary control that the political elite may exert upon the people.

Glass Ballot Box

In the past, America turned began using glass ballot boxes (as pictured) which allowed people to see that no one was stealing the election.[xxxiv] It made the officials directly accountable to the people who were free to watch and observe their actions with full transparency. Over the years, the glass ballot box became a symbol of American freedom. A symbol now long forgotten—but one that needs to be resurrected. This is the true Cradle of Liberty—where the people are free to make their own decision, without coercion, fraud, or oppression, about who will represent them. Integrity is necessary for liberty, and the ballot boxes and voting processes of today ought to be just as transparent as the glass ones from yesteryear.

 


Endnotes

[i] The Encyclopedia Americana, s.v. “Electoral Fraud and Safeguards Against,” (New York: The Encyclopedia Americana Corporation, 1918), 10.70.

[ii] Tracy Campbell, Deliver the Vote: A History of Election Fraud, An American Political Tradition—1742-2004 (New York: Carroll & Graf Publishers, 2005), 5-7.

[iii] Tracy Campbell, Deliver the Vote: A History of Election Fraud, An American Political Tradition—1742-2004 (New York: Carroll & Graf Publishers, 2005), 9.

[iv] Tracy Campbell, Deliver the Vote: A History of Election Fraud, An American Political Tradition—1742-2004 (New York: Carroll & Graf Publishers, 2005), 9.

[v] “Election. Federal Republicans Beware!” 1816. Vote: The Machinery of Democracy (accessed November 8, 2020): https://americanhistory.si.edu/vote/paperballots.html.

[vi] “Election. Federal Republicans Beware!” 1816. Vote: The Machinery of Democracy (accessed November 8, 2020): https://americanhistory.si.edu/vote/paperballots.html.

[vii] “‘How the Copperheads Obtain their Votes,’ Thomas Nast, Harper’s Weekly, November 12, 1864, detail,” House Divided: The Civil War Research Engine at Dickinson College (accessed November 7, 2020): http://hd.housedivided.dickinson.edu/node/43183.

[viii] Josiah Benton, Voting in the Field: A Forgotten Chapter in the Civil War (Boston: Privately Printed, 1915), 164; see also, Donald Inbody, The Soldier Vote: War, Politics, and the Ballot in America (New York: Palgrave McMillian, 2016), 42.

[ix] See, for example, William Simmons, Men of Mark: Eminent, Progressive, and Rising (Cleveland: Geo. M. Rewell & Co., 1887), 348.

[x] Valeria Weaver, “The Failure of Civil Rights 1875-1883 and Its Repercussions,” The Journal of Negro History 54, no. 4 (1969): 369-370.

[xi] “‘Of Course He Wants to Vote the Democratic Ticket.’ A. B. Frost. From Harper’s Weekly, October 21, 1876,” The Newberry Digital Collections for the Classroom (accessed November 7, 2020): https://dcc.newberry.org/items/of-course-he-wants-to-vote-the-democratic-ticket.

[xii] Genevieve Gist, “Progressive Reform in a Rural Community: The Adams County Vote-Fraud Case,” The Mississippi Valley Historical Review 48, no. 1 (1961): 65.

[xiii] Genevieve Gist, “Progressive Reform in a Rural Community: The Adams County Vote-Fraud Case,” The Mississippi Valley Historical Review 48, no. 1 (1961): 71.

[xiv] The Encyclopedia Americana, s.v. “Electoral Fraud and Safeguards Against,” (New York: The Encyclopedia Americana Corporation, 1918), 10.70.

[xv] Robert Brooks, Corruption in American Politics and Life (New York: Dodd, Mead and Company, 1910), 206.

[xvi] Victoria Collier, “How to Rig an Election,” Harper’s Magazine (November 2012), accessed November 8, 2020: https://harpers.org/archive/2012/11/how-to-rig-an-election/.

[xvii] See, John Fund, Stealing Elections: How Voter Fraud Threatens Our Democracy (New York: Encounter Books, 2008), 12, 176-177; Robert Caro, The Years of Lyndon Johnson: Master of the Senate (New York: Random House Inc., 2009), 115-116.

[xviii] John Fund, Stealing Elections: How Voter Fraud Threatens Our Democracy (New York: Encounter Books, 2008), 177.

[xix] Bev Harris, Black Box Voting: Ballot Tampering in the 21st Century (Renton, WA: Talion Publishing, 2004), 4. Here.

[xx] Victoria Collier, “How to Rig an Election,” Harper’s Magazine (November 2012), accessed November 8, 2020: https://harpers.org/archive/2012/11/how-to-rig-an-election/.

[xxi] Bev Harris, Black Box Voting: Ballot Tampering in the 21st Century (Renton, WA: Talion Publishing, 2004), 27, 31. Here.

[xxii] Bev Harris, Black Box Voting: Ballot Tampering in the 21st Century (Renton, WA: Talion Publishing, 2004), 32. Here.

[xxiii] Lorin Hitt, The Business of Voting: Market Structure and Innovation in the Election Technology Industry (Philadelphia: Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, 2017), 14, 54. Here.

[xxiv] Dave Williams, “Georgia Chooses Denver Company to Install New Statewide Voting System,” Atlanta Business Chronicle (July 29, 2019), accessed November 8, 2020: https://www.bizjournals.com/atlanta/news/2019/07/29/georgia-chooses-denver-company-to-install-new.html.

[xxv] Critical Condition: American Voter Rolls Filled With Errors, Dead Voters, and Duplicate Registrations (Public Interest Legal Foundation, September 2020), 8.

[xxvi] Critical Condition: American Voter Rolls Filled With Errors, Dead Voters, and Duplicate Registrations (Public Interest Legal Foundation, September 2020), 8.

[xxvii] Carolyn Blackburn, “Man Arrested for Voter Fraud in Luzerne County,” WNEP News Station (October 21, 2020), accessed November 8, 2020: https://www.wnep.com/article/news/local/luzerne-county/man-arrested-for-voter-fraud-in-luzerne-county/523-7fc4fd2f-9105-47e7-a510-2b5ff176ab2c.

[xxviii] Critical Condition: American Voter Rolls Filled With Errors, Dead Voters, and Duplicate Registrations (Public Interest Legal Foundation, September 2020), 8.

[xxix] Matthew Impelli, “Texas Dem Mayoral Candidate Charged With Voter Fraud After Allegedly Applying for 84 Mail-in-Ballots,” Newsweek (October 13, 2020), accessed November 10, 2020: https://www.newsweek.com/texas-dem-mayoral-candidate-charged-voter-fraud-after-allegedly-applying-84-mail-ballots-1538644; Alex Samuels, “Carrollton Mayoral Candidate Arrested on Suspicion of Fraudulently Obtaining Mail-in-Ballots,” The Texas Tribune (October 8, 2020), accessed November 8, 2020: https://www.texastribune.org/2020/10/08/voting-fraud-arrest-carrollton/.

[xxx] Critical Condition: American Voter Rolls Filled With Errors, Dead Voters, and Duplicate Registrations (Public Interest Legal Foundation, September 2020), 30; Brian Lowry, “‘I Wasn’t Hiding the Ball.’ Watkins Admits Voting at Wrong Address, but Denies Intent,” The Kansas City Star (July 28, 2020), accessed November 8, 2020: https://www.kansascity.com/news/politics-government/article244541302.html.

[xxxi] See database, “Election Fraud Cases,” The Heritage Foundation (accessed November 7, 2020), https://www.heritage.org/voterfraud/search?combine=&state=All&year=2020&case_type=All&fraud_type=All; see also, Erin Anderson, “Texas Social Worker Charged With 134 Election Fraud Felonies,” Texas Scorecard (November 6, 2020), accessed November 8, 2020: https://texasscorecard.com/state/texas-social-worker-charged-with-134-election-fraud-felonies/.

[xxxii] Joseph Curl, “Biden Stumbles Through Final Days of Presidential Campaign,” The Daily Wire (November 2, 2020), accessed November 10, 2020: https://www.dailywire.com/news/biden-stumbles-way-through-final-days-of-presidential-campaign.

[xxxiii] E.g., Vera Bergengruen, “How Republicans are Selling the Myth of Rampant Voter Fraud,” Time (October 22, 2020), accessed November 7, 2020: https://time.com/5902728/voter-fraud-2020-2/; William T. Adler, “Why Widespread Voter Fraud is a Myth,” Center for Democracy & Technology (October 28, 2020), accessed November 7, 2020, https://cdt.org/insights/why-widespread-mail-in-voter-fraud-is-a-myth/; Amber McReynolds, “Let’s put the vote-by-mail “fraud” myth to rest,” The Hill (April 28, 2020), accessed November 7, 2020: https://thehill.com/opinion/campaign/494189-lets-put-the-vote-by-mail-fraud-myth-to-rest.

[xxxiv] Jennifer Nalewicki, “A Glass Ballot Box Was the Answer to Voter Fraud in the 19th Century,” Smithsonian Magazine (November 2, 2020), accessed November 10, 2020: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smithsonian-institution/glass-ballot-box-was-answer-voter-fraud-19th-century-180976171/.

Sermon – Election – 1815, Vermont


Henry Davis (1771-1852) graduated from Yale in 1796. He served as President of Middlebury College (1810-1817) and President of Hamilton College (1817-1833). This election sermon was delivered by Dr. Davis at Montpelier, VT on October 12, 1815.


sermon-election-1815-vermont

A

SERMON,

DELIVERED ON THE DAY OF GENERAL

ELECTION,

AT MONTPELIER, OCTOBER 12, 1815,

BEFORE THE HONORABLE

LEGISLATURE OF VERMONT.

BY HENRY DAVIS, D. D.
PRESIDENT OF MIDDLEBURY COLLEGE.

Published by order of the Legislature.

AN

ELECTION SERMON.

ROMANS, xiii. 4.

For he beareth not the sword in vain; for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.

At the period, when this epistle was written, Rome was sunk in gross idolatry, and her rulers were implacable enemies of the cross of Christ. The disciples of Jesus were despised and persecuted; and in many instances put to death by the most cruel and ignominious tortures.

The descendants of Abraham boasted themselves of their distinction. Because God had favoured them with peculiar privileges; had dictated to them a system of polity, both civil and religious; had anciently proclaimed himself their king; and in later times governed them by rulers of his own appointment. They arrogated to themselves exemption from the ordinances of men, and deemed it impious and degrading to submit to their authority. Many of them, after embracing Christianity, entertained still the same views and dispositions. And of the Gentiles, also, who had renounced their idols and devoted themselves to God, there were not a few, who vainly contended, that the spiritual wisdom, with which HE had endued them, was a sufficient directory for their conduct; and that they were under no obligation to render obedience to a government, which was imposed upon them by unbelieving rulers. By these means, their dangers and sufferings were increased, and the Gospel of Christ was evil spoken of.

In this chapter of his epistle, the Apostle shews them, in a manner clear and forcible, that their principles were erroneous, and their conduct reprehensible. He begins his address, by teaching them the foundation of civil government;–that it is the ordinance of God. Not indeed that it is, as to its form, of divine appointment; but that it is sanctioned by God as essential to man, both as to the security of his happiness, and to the performance of his duties; and that its obligations are sacred and universal. Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers; for there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God.

It is no matter then, what the genius or denomination of the government, or by what means established;–what the religion of the ruler, or the religion of the subject. The obligation to obedience is ever the same; for it is founded in the will of God, and the constitution of man; and is indispensable to the being of society.

But what, it will be asked, is the measure of this obedience? Or is it to be regarded as absolute and unconditional? Does the Apostle enjoin upon his Roman brethren the doctrine of non resistance, and, by this means, legalize tyranny? Does he establish a principle so abhorrent from reason and our feelings, that men are born to be slaves? That the will of the magistrate is his only law? That subjects have no method of redress under the most grinding oppression? And that to resist the encroachments of rulers is, in all circumstances, to resist the ordinance of God?

Doctrines and principles like these, are inconsistent with every enlightened sentiment of humanity, and directly repugnant both to the precepts and spirit of the Gospel. They deliver over the multitude to the caprice and ambition of a few, and bind them in chains.

That the Roman government was, at this period, immensely corrupt, and its subjects groaning under oppression, will not be questioned. But with this matter the Apostle had no concern. It was totally incompatible with the sacred objects of his mission. An interference, in the political concerns of the state, would have awakened against the disciples of Christ a most deadly jealousy and resentment. It would have provoked a spirit of universal extermination, and brought down upon them, in a manner still more dreadful, the vengeance of the civil arm.

The founder of Christianity had expressly taught his followers that his kingdom is not of this world. The great purpose of his manifestation in the flesh was, by the sacrifice of himself, to take away the sins of the world; to reveal to man his true character and condition; to increase and to enforce his motives to duty; and to make him wise unto salvation.

While the primary and ostensible object of the Apostle, in addressing the Roman brethren in the context, was to make them acquainted with their relation to civil government, and the universal obligation of obedience to it, he indirectly, yet obviously and forcibly, teaches the magistrate the nature and extent of his authority.

Having first declared that all power emanates from God; that civil government is ordained by God; and that every soul is bound to render obedience to it; he adds, For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? Do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same. For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain. For he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.

These considerations, it will be remembered, are urged by the Apostle on his brethren, as an additional argument for submission to the authority of the Roman magistrate. He does not attempt to shew them the character of the government under which they lived; but he teaches them plainly what ought to be its character. His meaning cannot be misapprehended. The government intended by him can be no other than a righteous government. A government which seeks the praise of God more than the praise of men; which aims steadily and inflexibly to protect and to encourage the obedient, and to chastise and to humble transgressors; which guards with equal care and solicitude the lives and privileges of all its subjects, and renders to everyone according to his character. No authority but such has God, who formed man for society, ordained to be exercised over him; and none but such can meet his approbation. If this be not the fact, the magistrate would be a terror to those who do well, and a praise to those who do evil.

The happiness of the people then is the sole object of civil government; the sole object for which anyone is invested with power, and for which he can exercise it; and the sole point, in which should centre, all his deliberations and all his exertions.

Such being the foundation of all civil institutions, of all legislative, judicial and executive authority, the conclusion is irresistible; that every nation has an unquestionable, a perfect right, to be governed by laws of its own making, and by rulers of its own choice; and that these laws and rulers it may change, as its circumstances may dictate.

And should those, who are appointed the guardians of its rights and the avengers of its injuries, trample upon the constitution; break over the boundaries of their authority, and wantonly sport with its privileges, they bear the sword in vain; they exonerate the subject from his obligation of allegiance to them, and arm him with an undoubted right to resist their aggressions. But whether resistance in a given case be expedient, circumstances must determine. If rights, essential to his security and happiness, are endangered, neither property, nor life, will be regarded in defence of them.

Every other foundation of civil government is a solecism of the grossest character, and will be embraced by none but tyrants and their slaves.

Standing on this elevated ground, invested with the sword of authority, as a minister of God for good to the people, and holding in his hand their destinies, highly interesting and responsible is the condition of the magistrate; and to trample upon the privileges of the citizens, or to sacrifice their happiness from motives of revenge, of avarice, or of ambition, is a sin of deep malignity, and cannot fail to provoke the vengeance of HIM, by whom kings reign, and princes decree justice.

In obedience to the voice of the supreme legislative authority of this commonwealth, I appear before them on this interesting occasion. God forbid that I should be unmindful of my duty, or profane the sacred office with which he hath honored me. To the character of a partisan, I disclaim all pretensions. As a member of the community, I feel, and I trust I ever shall feel, a deep interest in its welfare. But in the political questions, by which the public mind is agitated, and in which many great and good men, whom I have the honor to number among my friends, are at variance in opinion. I have no active concern. I stand in this consecrated place, as a minister of Christ, as bound by the covenant of God to deal plainly with my fellow sinners, whenever called to speak to them in HIS name, however elevated their condition.

For addressing this assembly on the duties of rulers, I need make no apology. For men of this character I am called to address. Would to God that what is to be delivered may be followed with his blessing; that it may prove useful to us all; but especially to those who are immediately concerned;–that it may excite them to fidelity in the important trust committed to them;–and that it may be found, when we shall all stand at the tribunal of God, that they have not born the sword in vain.

The language of the text is highly expressive and emphatical. The sword is introduced as an emblem of authority; and it implies that those who are invested with this authority are to exercise it with energy. But as ministers of God, as his vicegerents among men, they are not to lord it over his heritage.

Like the government of that GREAT and GOOD BEING in whose name they act, all their measures should be characterized by justice and tempered with mercy.

The necessity of civil government arises from our depravity. Had not man lost the uprightness, in which God created him, no civil restraints would have been necessary. Injustice and violence, wars and fightings, which proceed from his lusts and passions, would never have been heard of. The earth would never have been cursed with thorns and briars; and creation would still have smiled with the innocence and loveliness of paradise. But God, whose judgments are a mighty deep, and whose ways are past finding out, hath suffered man to fall from this elevated standing. The image of his Maker, which he once bore on his soul, hath departed from him. Sin hath entered the world, and confusion, and injustice, and violence are its consequences. To shield mankind, as far as possible, from these evils is the great end of all civil associations. And Christians who are called to bear the sword, are under sacred obligations, as ministers of God,

I. To make his word the guide of their conduct. The will of God is the only unerring rule of righteousness; and nowhere, excepting in his word, is HIS will clearly and satisfactorily revealed to us. Revelation is a transcript of the perfections and purposes of that ALMIGHTY and GLORIOUS BEING, who is the creator, the upholder, and the governor of all things.

In the word of God, and here only, are we taught the true origin, the real condition, the real character, and the high destiny of man. It is here, and nowhere else, that we are taught, with certainty, the nature of those capacities which God hath given him; that he is a being of other hopes than those of the present life; that he has interests, hereafter to be realized, whose value no calculation can reach; and that his residence on earth is the only season allotted him, for securing those interests. We here learn, that rulers, however exalted their talents and their rank, have the same infirmities, the same propensities and the same interests, as other men; that as moral beings their elevation entitles them to no prerogative; and that they are equally bound to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with God. Do unto others as you would they should do unto you, is a command of universal authority, and not less obligatory on the magistrate, than on the citizen. Saith the voice of inspiration, He that ruleth over men should be just, ruling in the fear of God.

When the righteous are in authority the people rejoice; but when the wicked bear rule, the people mourn.

Were the precepts of the Gospel universally regarded by rulers, and its spirit imbibed by them, vastly different would be the condition of mankind. It is granted, that among pagan nations, there have been men of exalted views and sentiments; men, who have postponed to their country’s good all private considerations; who have undauntedly faced danger and death, and cheerfully sacrificed their all to its honor and security. And it is not to be disputed, that in countries also, where Christianity has diffused its blessings, many have been found of a similar character; notwithstanding they denied its authority, and rejected its instructions.

But how many Alexanders, Caesars, and Caligulas, has the world witnessed, to one Titus, or Marcus Aurelius? And how many Neroes and Frederics of Prussia, to one Alfred, or to one Washington.

Infidelity is overreaching, overbearing and hard hearted. Its own aggrandizement is its only object. It wantonly sports with the dearest interests of society; and is prodigal of the blood of man, as of no value, when set in competition with its unhallowed desires.

Banish from the mind those solemn truths, with which revelation presents us, and all enquiries, respecting the future, are perplexed with doubt and uncertainty. Every tie of conscience, which should bind man to his duty, is sundered. Earth becomes the limit of his desires, and self promotion the centre of his exertions. And unless restrained by the fear of God, in proportion as his opportunities for subserving his own interest are increased, in the same proportion, is his danger also, of being given up to the control of such motives. Is the correctness of these remarks doubted? Let them be tried by the records of ages. How happens it, if this ignorance, or forgetfulness, of God and our duty, and this devotion to our own interest be not the cause, that the history of nations is little else than a history of revolutions of rimes and of cruelties?

How happens it, that the multitude have been the slaves of a few; that in obedience to the authors of these changes and sufferings, they have yielded up as a sacrifice, their peace, their fortunes, and their lives? And, indeed, for what other reason is it, that almost every family in Europe is now setting in sackcloth, and that her hills and her plains are one field of blood?

But let conscience, enlightened by revelation, perform its office; let rulers keep in view the commanding truths of the Gospel; let them remember that they are ministers of God; that they are accountable to HIM;–that they are entrusted with power, not to harass, to oppress, and to enslave; but to promote the peace, the virtue, and the happiness of their people; let them bear in mind the judgment to come, and the retributions of eternity; and they will have before them motives to duty that are always binding, always operative. Truth and righteousness become the pole-star of their actions; and the fascinations of power, the emoluments of office, the pomp of triumphs and of victories, and the splendors of crowns, and of diadems, vanish into nothing. It must be acknowledged, that God hath not, in his works, left himself without witness; that the honest enquirer, be his condition what it will, may, from this source, learn much of his duty and interest. But shall be for this reason reject the instructions of revelation? Would not the mariner justly be thought a mad man, who should throw into the deep his compass and chart, and be guided only by the signs and stars of heaven?

II. It is the duty of rulers to establish such laws and regulations, as are adapted to the genius and circumstances of the people.

To give strength, and peace, and security, to the community will be primary objects with every benevolent and enlightened legislator.

But these objects cannot be accomplished, without a knowledge of mankind, in general, and of the characters, relations, and necessities, of the governed, in particular. A fundamental truth in legislation is, that man, find him where you will, is a depraved being; and governed by motives, which often lead him to sacrifice the rights and happiness of others to his own interest. In consequence of rejecting this truth, or of not acting under the conviction of it, men of high distinction in intellect and attainments, have, when writing on the subject of laws and government, fallen far short of the expectations, which their talents had excited. Not regarding man as he really is, but assuming it, as a first principle, that he is rather what he ought to be, their systems, plausible enough in theory, have proved defective in experiment; and have soon sunk, with the authors of them, into neglect and oblivion. In every government, not cursed with tyranny, where men are left to think, and to act, for themselves, wise rulers, in all their measures, will be influenced by a reference to public opinion; and this opinion, it will be remembered, is, usually regulated by public interest.

The physical strength resides in the people; and whenever they are sensible of their power, and have opportunity to exert it, it is in vain to attempt to enforce laws upon them, however wise and salutary, which, in the view of the majority, are incompatible with their interests. I would by no means insinuate that this remark is universally true. I acknowledge that there are some honorable exceptions. I should rejoice were there more. But, as a general remark, it is fully attested by experience, and will not be questioned.

Many writers, far from being contemptible in understanding and in their acquirements, and who had spent much of their time in discussing the science of government, seemed to have imagined, that the views, the desires and the pursuits, of men, and the motives that actuate them, are, in all places, like the laws of the physical world, uniform and invariable; that a constitution adapted to the genius and circumstances of one nation, might, with equal propriety, be applied to any other; that the philosophers of Europe may form laws and regulations, for the aborigines of Asia, or of America, with the same confidence of success, as when attempting to account for the variety of their complexions, or of the climate and productions of their countries.

No principle is, in theory, more deceptive, and few have proved, in experiment, more mischievous. Although man, in every condition of society, is a being of corrupt propensities, and must be governed by restraints, yet, it is not to be forgotten, that every nation have their peculiarities; their own habits of feeling, of thinking and of acting; their own passions, their own interests, their own arts and employments; and the man, who attempts to legislate for any people, without a reference to this fact, will legislate in vain.

With a conviction of these truths, the prevention of crimes, by the establishment of salutary laws, will, in the view of every humane and intelligent government, be a primary object. But as men, abandoned of principle, will be found in every community, whom no threats will intimidate, and who cannot, by any vigilance and foresight, be effectually prevented from preying upon the innocent and defenceless; from disturbing the tranquility of the public, and endangering its security; it will ever be found necessary to restrain them by punishment. Examples must be made of transgressors, and be held up, as a terror, to those who would do evil.

With reference to this subject, the philanthropist looks, with emotions of regret, on the generations that are past. While he sees the arts and sciences improving, and the condition of man, in almost every other respect, gradually meliorating, it is with surprise, he perceives, in the methods of inflicting punishment, little improvement attempted, and little or no melioration, taking place.

The consequences of punishment, as they affect the future conduct of the offender, seem scarcely to have been regarded. Nothing appears, in general, to have been thought of, but the infliction of suffering, as an example to others; and the penalties inflicted have obviously been, in most instances, of such a character, as tend directly to make the subject of them more the servant of iniquity.

To expose the criminal in the stocks, or in the pillory, to the ridicule, the contempt, and the insults of the populace; or to punish him publicly at the post, and to send him away writhing and bleeding, from the stroke of the lash, can have little other effect, than to provoke a spirit of revenge; to destroy whatever sense of shame, or regard for character, might have been remaining; and to harden him for acts of deeper guilt. But to stigmatise him, by branding, or cropping, and to send him forth into the world, like Cain from the presence of God, with a mark set upon him, declaring to all men, that he is an outcast from society, a villain, and never to be trusted, is placing him, at once, beyond the reach of all honest employment; consequently beyond the power of reformation; and compelling him to continue in the commerce of iniquity, and to remain a curse to society.

More correct and exalted views of this subject were reserved for our times; and the improvement which it has already received is, by no means, the most inconsiderable of the improvements, in which we have so much occasion to rejoice.

The method, which has been recently adopted, by some governments, of punishing criminals by confinement and labor, is a happy alleviation of the criminal code, and promises much good. Indeed, much good has been already produced by it. Considered merely as an example, as a terror to those who do evil, it has, I apprehend, a more powerful influence, than the expedients that have been usually resorted to. To the man hardened in the career of wickedness, hardly anything is more dreadful than solitude; where there is no human being to commune with, but himself, and where his vices and his crimes, in spite of every effort to prevent it, will pass in review before him. But in regard to the reformation of the offender, and to the good of society, there is no ground for comparison, as to the consequences. Corporal punishment has little other tendency than to confirm the criminal in transgression; while confinement for a season, at least, frees the community, from his crimes and example, and furnishes some reason for hope of his being restored to it, at length, a sound and useful member. Without deliberate and serious reflection upon his life, there are no hopes of his amendment; nor is a conviction of his folly and guilt likely to prove effectual, without long habituation to industry, and to a course of regular conduct. Long established habits must be supplanted, and new ones formed, before a reformation can be regarded, as complete and permanent. Confinement and labor afford, in the best possible manner, both these means of amendment.

This method is farther recommended, by the fact, that the criminal may here be furnished, with moral and religious instruction, with which it is evidently the duty of the government to furnish him; that his motives to industry may be increased, by granting him some portion of the avails of it; and that for his good conduct, he is presented with the encouragement of going again into the world, with a useful trade, and with an amended character. Were this expedient of punishment and reform universally adopted, and faithfully executed, there would, in my opinion, be strong grounds to hope, that one prolific source of evils of a very dangerous tendency, which now infest society, would, ere long, well-nigh cease to exist. I say faithfully executed;–for there is much reason to apprehend, that it may not prove effectual, by rendering the confinement of shorter duration, than is necessary to produce a permanent change of habits.

But let not rulers forget, in their zeal for reformation, that the dungeon and the gibbet are not to be abandoned; that villains will exist, in every community, of so hardened and daring a character, that no other means will intimidate them; and that deeds of such extreme malignity will be perpetrated, as render forbearance foolishness and mercy a crime.

III. It is the duty of those, who are entrusted with the care of the state, to diffuse useful knowledge among their subjects.

“In arbitrary governments,” saith a writer, “The more ignorance, the more peace—but intelligence is the life of liberty.” We have reason to thank God, that we live in an age in which the truth of this assertion will not be controverted.

The encouragement of those arts and improvements, which are calculated to increase the means of subsistence, and to give vigor, and independence, and respectability, to the body politic, should embrace the attention of every government. But the instruction of the mass of people, in what is essential to their comfort, and to their characters also, as industrious, peaceable, and useful citizens, cannot, I conceive, be neglected, but with high criminality.

It is in vain for rulers to urge, as an excuse, that it is the duty of parents to educate their children. Parents, who are ignorant, it must be remembered, are too apt to be satisfied that their children should remain so. Not knowing by experience the blessings of education, they are, in general, willing, that they should grow up in the same want of information, in which they have grown up, and inherit the same vices and wretchedness, which they themselves have been heirs too. Little can ordinarily be expected, from the exertions of individuals, whatever be their patriotism and liberality.

Unless those, therefore, who are the constituted guardians of the public interests, shall extend a fostering hand to this subject, we have much reason to fear that a people, who are once ignorant, will, generation after generation, continue to be ignorant. What must be the consequences, experience tells us; indolence and vice, and poverty, and crimes, of the most destructive tendency. Those who know not their duty, and their interest, know not, of course, how to estimate them; and without a due estimation of them, it is not to be expected that they will pursue them. Men of this character are always exposed to the intrigues of every aspiring demagogue, and may easily be rendered the instruments of turmoil and violence. And history distinctly informs, that this class of the community, under the direction of ambitious and unprincipled leaders, have acted no inconsiderable part in the revolutions which have agitated and distressed the world.

Let no man deny, then, that it is the duty of government to assume the superintendence of a subject of such vital importance to the public; that it should require of those, who are able to do it, to educate their children; and should provide for the education of those, whose parents are not able, at the expense of the State.

IV. It is the duty of rulers to guard and to improve the morals of the people.

In governments strictly absolute, where the will of the despot is law, and physical power the only arbiter of every question, this subject will be regarded as of little value. It may, indeed, be presumed, that the corruption of morals is, sometimes, the principal basis on which such a government rests. But not so in countries that are blessed with freedom. Good morals are the life-spring of its being. They are the pillars, on which the constitution rests. Remove them, and it falls to ruin. Corrupt the citizens of any state, not bound in chains of tyranny, and confusion and anarchy ensue; and they soon become fit for nothing, but the minions of a despot, or the slaves of arbitrary power.

Every vice is, in its nature, degrading and dangerous. But the vices, which are most degrading, and most fatal to the public welfare, and which most imperiously demand the restraints of government, are drunkenness, profane swearing, and Sabbath-breaking. For to one, or to another of these, almost every other corrupt practice, or crime may be traced, as its origin.

Intoxication stupefies the intellect; blunts the moral perceptions; breaks down, or weakens the barriers between right and wrong; degrades and brutalizes the whole man; and renders him, ordinarily, a judgment to himself. It destroys the peace, the comfort, and the character of his family. It begets wrangling and hunger, and nakedness. Upon his wife, once the object of his tender affections, to whom he is bound, by the vow of his God, to furnish support, and to administer consolation, it brings disgrace, and shame, and despair. It leaves his children, the fruit of his own loins, to grow up, without discipline, without instruction and without example, to walk in his steps, and to be partakers of his end.

On the community also, its influence is not less to be dreaded. It disturbs the peace of neighbors. It produces among them quarrels, and lawsuits, and violence. Like the pestilence that walketh in darkness, it spreads around its contagion, and corrupts, by a gradual and almost imperceptible progress, numbers, who viewed themselves as proof against its influence; ‘till, at last, they yield themselves to its dominion, and become a curse to society. What are the vices and crimes, for which they are then not prepared, I dare not attempt to say.

Profane swearing, of all the vices that disgrace the human character, is the most silly, the most contemptible, and the most inexcusable. For there can be no possible temptation to it. Were it silly, and contemptible, and without excuse merely, we might bear with it. But it possesses other traits of character, and such as cannot be contemplated without deep alarm. To treat with habitual levity and irreverence the name of that infinitely GREAT and GOOD BEING, in whom we live, move and have our existence, and who is constantly shedding around us such a profusion of blessings, is sinful in the extreme, is searing to the conscience, and dangerous to the dearest interests of the community. God is infinitely amiable, and infinitely lovely; and that they love him with all their soul, with all their mind, and with all their strength, is his first command to all his intelligent creatures. It was disobedience to this command which filled heaven with disorder, and made this once peaceful and happy world a region of suffering, and the shadow of death. Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain;–and what art thou, presumptuous worm of the dust, that thou shouldst contemn his authority, insult him with mockery and challenge the vengeance of the Majesty of Heaven? Were thy imprecations answered, what would be the doom of thyself and of thy fellows?

But he swears for the want of reflection, says his apologist. No harm is intended by him; and notwithstanding this blemish in his character, he still has many virtues.—That the man habitually profane has virtues, if the Gospel be our guide, I seriously doubt. That he may still have amiable qualities, and be, in many respects, a good citizen, I shall not deny.

But what is this want of reflection? When habits are once formed, we may commit any crime for want of reflection. The high-way robber assassinates the traveler, for want of reflection. The man, who makes gold, or honor, his God, may murder his neighbor, his friend, for want of reflection. And let me add, that, for want of reflection, the wretch, who is a slave to his passions, may plunge the fatal knife into the heart of his parent, of his child, or of the wife of his bosom.

Want of reflection is, in most instances, the incipient step, in every species of transgression. And the man who can deliberately, or thoughtlessly blaspheme his God, and invoke his curses upon himself or his fellow men, has not, it is to be feared, taken barely the first, the second, nor the third step, towards perjury.

Destroy the sanctity of the juror’s oath, and where are we? What security remains for our property, our reputation, or our lives? You free men from the restraints of conscience; you let them loose upon each other to harass and to destroy; and you render the earth which we inhabit a theatre of violence.

Ye ministers of God, who bear the sword! See then that those over which you have authority, venerate the name of that GREAT and TERRIBLE BEING, from whom your authority is derived. Slumber not on your seats; regard not, with indifference, a sin which cries to heaven for vengeance, and threatens to undermine the very being of the community. And let no man, who is habitually profane, boast of his love of country. For in the words of Rush, 1 “A profane and swearing patriot is not a less absurdity, than a profane and swearing Christian.”

The Sabbath, were there no world but this, is the most salutary, the most important, of all institutions. It is the grand palladium of everything valuable among men. Without it, good morals never have existed, and never will exist. To the utility of the Christian Sabbath, even infidels, have, and almost with one voice, been constrained to bear testimony. It is an institution highly propitious, both to man and to beast. Wherever it is sacredly regarded, more labor will be performed, and more real good produced, by the same number, possessing equal strength and opportunities, than where it is devoted wholly to secular pursuits. For arguments, in support of the importance of this subject, let us appeal to universal experience; and the instructions which it gives never will deceive us.

Where do you find, in the records of ages, a society or nation, who have not known, or have not venerated, the Sabbath, that have long remained peaceful, happy, or independent?

It is granted, that princes, professing themselves Christians, have been tyrants. That the religion of Jesus, in itself, gentle, benignant, and merciful, has, frequently, in the hands of aspiring men, been made a patron of ignorance and an engine of oppression. But no instance can be named, where the Sabbath has been regarded agreeably to the design of its author, in which it has not alleviated his sufferings, and exalted the condition of man.

Go into any village or society, where this day is kept by all, from the master to the servant, holy unto the Lord—Mark the indications of providence, of industry, of thrift and of plenty, that are everywhere visible. Let the observance of the Sabbath be banished from among them. Let but the present generation have passed away;–and then visit them again, and mark the contrast.

The church of God, once neat and entire, now sinking to ruin, its doors fallen from their hinges, its walls defiled and broken, and, instead of resounding with the praises of Jehovah, echoing with the lowing of the beast, or with the voice of the swallow, presents a striking miniature of the change which has taken place.

The tavern, formerly the quiet and peaceful retreat of the traveler, has become a scene of noise, of riot, and of wrangling.

Listen to the curses and the impious oaths of children, as you walk the streets. See neighbors quarrelling, and harassing each other with lawsuits; their fences broken down, their fields overrun with weeds and briars; their habitations decaying; their foundations tumbling from beneath them; their windows filled with tattered garments and everything around them, like the language and persons of their wretched occupants, exhibiting the marks of idleness, of indigence, and of degeneracy. Shall not the magistrate then, who is placed as a guardian over the members of the State see to it that they Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy. But since the Sabbath will not be venerated, unless religion in general be encouraged and supported,

It is the duty of rulers,

V. To give encouragement and protection to all the interests of religion.

Divest the Sabbath of its sacred character; let it be viewed merely as a civil institution, and its salutary influence would be no longer felt. Banish the fear of God, and it would be regarded if regarded at all, only as a day of amusement and dissipation.

No man can view, with greater abhorrence than I do, the idea of an alliance between church and state. To make religion an engine of civil power; to enlist it in the cause of worldly policy and ambition, is a gross profanation of its character, and tends directly and powerfully to render it, instead of being the richest blessing, a source of oppressive evils to mankind. But that religion and civil government have no concern with each other, is a doctrine to which I can never subscribe. I can as readily admit that there is no connexion between honesty, temperance and veracity, and civil government.

The truth is, there is a vital connection between them; for neither, without the other, can have an existence that is worth a name.

What would be the religion of any people, if they had no civil government; or what their civil government, if they had no religion?

Let God and his providence be erased from the mind; let men cease to remember that his eye is constantly upon them; that he will one day judge the world in righteousness; that, on that occasion, their most secret thoughts, as well as their actions, will be brought to light, and everyone receive a just recompense of reward; and where would be the ground of confidence, between man and man? What security would be left for honor and veracity? What would become of the obligation of promises and oaths, on which, everything stable in life is depending?

Will it be argued, that our regard for the pubic good, that our innate sense of right and wrong, would be sufficient to constrain us to truth, to justice, and to benevolence? What is the public good? What are right and wrong, in the view of him, who hopes, or fears, noting beyond death? Whose creed is, Let us eat and drink for tomorrow we die?

Release mankind from the obligations of religion, and every ruler necessarily becomes a despot, and every citizen a slave. For nothing, in such circumstances, will awe men to obedience, but the iron arm of arbitrary power.

The importance of religious restraints, to the existence of civil government, has been felt by rulers in every age. To give veneration to their characters, and stability to their institutions, they have impiously, and not unfrequently, claimed kindred with their gods, and arrogated the honors of divinity. And never, until our own times, has the attempt been made to establish and support a government, without the belief and acknowledgement of a superintending power. What the consequences were, we have all witnessed.

Will it be asserted, that religion is a concern merely between man and his God, and that the authority of the state has no right to interfere in this concern? But is it not a concern also, between every man and his neighbor; between every husband and his wife; between every parent and his child; between every master and his servant; and between every magistrate and the citizen? What are the relations of men, in which it does not enjoin duties to be performed, and which, if its authority be regarded, it does not affect, control and regulate? Of all the subjects presented to the human mind, it is the most interesting, the most sublime, and the most awful. It is the only consideration, which sets before us motives that are always operative. Which, even in the darkness of midnight, and the secrecy of solitude, have their influence.

Establish the principle, that religion is a matter of no concern with civil government; exempt the former from the authority of the latter, and you establish a principle, which may prove fatal to the best regulated community on earth. You place within the reach of every fanatic, and of every man void of the fear of God, a dagger, with which he may stab society to its vitals.

Men, when under the influence of zeal without knowledge, may embrace any opinions, however absurd, or adopt any practices, however irrational, or however dangerous to the general good. Scarce a doctrine can be named, be its absurdity what it may, that fanatics have not embraced. For conscience sake, they have declared all civil restraints a gross imposition, a wanton violation of their inborn rights, and have forcibly resisted the authority of the state. For conscience sake, they have scattered around them fire brands, arrows and death! And verily thought they were doing God service. With a view to their salvation, the world has beheld, astonishing as it may seem, a combination of men, for the avowed purpose of murder, that they might be condemned and executed by the civil authority; absurdly believing, that if the time of their death were known to them with certainty, they should be constrained to repent. If the government of the state has no concern with religion, how are such extravagances to be checked? Conscience, whose dictates are urged in justification of their opinions and conduct, is, in the view of such men, the voice of God speaking within them. And will you, say they, insult its authority? Will you disregard the injunctions of this heavenly monitor?

Let it never be forgotten, that the public good is paramount to every other consideration. That no private opinions, no private interests, are to be admitted in opposition to it. Civil rulers are invested with supreme authority, for the express purpose of determining and accomplishing what is necessary to promote the peace and prosperity of the community. And shall it be aid, that these nursing fathers of the state have no control of a subject, which, in the hands of fanatics, or of men void of principle, may prove fatal even to the being of society? That it is not their duty to provide for the protection and for the support of religion, which involves in it the highest interests of man, in this life, and everything worth hoping for, in the next?

I wish to be distinctly understood on this subject. I advocate no religious establishment, by the authority of the State; the preference of no denomination of Christians;–the exclusive promotion of no society of men, be their doctrines, or their modes of worship, what they may. Let the rights of conscience, properly so called, be scrupulously, and sacredly regarded. Let every man be left to worship God, if his worship contravene not the rights of others, in the manner which his judgment shall dictate; and let no man be constrained to worship him. The public welfare demands no such partialities;–no such sacrifices;–no such constraint. Religion, as a matter of practice, has its seat in the affections; it is an exercise of the heart. Its offering, to be acceptable unto God, must be a pure, a voluntary offering—No extraneous force can excite in the soul emotions of piety, or elicit from it, the expressions of gratitude. But let the magistrate take care, that religion be respected;–that laws be enacted for the encouragement and aid of its instructors;–that every man be required, as he hath ability, to do something for the support of an object, with which his own, and the best interests of all are intimately connected;–and that the Sabbath be not profaned, by amusement, by pleasure, or by business. As minister of God for good to the people, it is his indispensible duty to do this. And the government which neglects this duty cannot fail to provoke his displeasure; and will sooner or later experience it, in the licentiousness, the factions, and the violence, which will ensue.

Will anyone, in his senses, pretend, that to be obliged to contribute to the encouragement of religion because he feels no veneration for it, or embraces not its doctrines, or to abstain from secular pursuits on the day of the Lord, is an infringement of the rights of conscience? Will anyone say, that there is anything immoral in such submission?

The man, who is, in opinion, opposed to the constitution, may, with equal propriety, refuse obedience to the authority of the state. Or the miscreant, who loves his money better than his country, or his soul—may, on pretence of religious scruples, claim exemption from the taxes, that are essential to its maintenance. Conscience hs as much concern with the latter cases, as with the former. It has, indeed, no concern with either of them.

Every member of the community, whether he worship God or not; whether he embrace the obligations of religion or not; would have a recompense, for what might reasonably be required of him, for its support. Yes, if it be of any consequence to him, that his children be virtuous and happy; that they be free from examples of profanity, of idleness, and of debauchery; that society e not harassed with broils, with riots, and with violence, and that his character, his property, and his life, be secure, he would, indeed, have an ample recompense.

VI. But of no avail will be the wisest system of policy, unless the magistrate, whose duty it is, shall vigorously, and impartially execute the laws.

The laws of the state must be vigorously executed.

Certainty of punishment, where the fear of God is wanting, is the only effectual barrier against crime. Hope of impunity strengthens temptation, and furnishes additional incentives to transgression. Let the violation of established laws be connived at, or looked upon with indifference, and there is an end to all mild and wholesome discipline. This remark is equally true of every government, from the father of the family, to the prince on the throne.

Let the regulations of the domestic circle be disregarded; let the commands of the parent cease to be enforced; and disrespect, and idleness and disorder will inevitably follow.

A constitution combining the knowledge and wisdom of ages, if this vital principle of policy were overlooked in its administration, would soon be treated with neglect and contempt.

Let those, therefore, who bear the sword, be careful that the laws be enforced—when violated, that the offender be brought to justice; that their penalties be inflicted. For if suffered to be transgressed with impunity they cease to have authority, and their threatenings are in vain.

The laws must also be impartially administered.

Government is instituted for common defence and security. Every citizen has the same claim to its care and protection. That individuals, or sects of men, whose conduct, or whose opinions, political or religious, are hostile to the principles of the constitution, and subversive of the liberties of the state, are unworthy of confidence, and are to be viewed with jealousy; is not to be denied. But so long as all render a willing submission to the laws, and advocate no measures, and embrace no sentiments, which can be deemed unconstitutional, the lives, the persons, the property, and the happiness of all, are to be regarded as sacred, and as equally sacred. In such circumstances, the exercise of favoritism, in the administration of the laws; the promotion of some, and the depression of others, from motives of prejudice, of malice, of revenge, or of personal aggrandizement, is a direct violation of the principles of distributive justice, and of the ends of civil government; and it argues a shameful destitution of that magnanimity, and expanded liberality of sentiment, which ought ever to characterize the guardians of the public weal. A practice like this, let it exist under whatever form of government it may, is tyranny. In a government, which is really, as well as professedly, republican, in its constitution and measures, it cannot fail to produce alarming consequences.

I can think of hardly a greater judgment that can be sent on any people, than the curse of weak, of timid, of partial, or of temporizing magistrates. If those, who are called to the high and responsible station of guarding, and enforcing the laws, will not execute them, with energy, with fidelity, and with impartiality, there can be no security for anything. The value of property, of every comfort, of every privilege, even of life itself, is depreciated.

Such a violation of the first principles of a righteous government, is most devoutly to be deprecated. It alienates the affections of the people from their rulers, and from the constitution; it begets jealousies, and intrigues and factions;–it emboldens the monster ice, and throws open the floodgates of licentiousness;–it shakes from their very foundations the pillars of the state;–it leads directly to all the horrors of anarchy;–and, in a word, it is the beaten road to the subversion of liberty, and to the reign of despotism.

Suffer me to remark….and I can call God to witness my sincerity….that in advancing these sentiments, I have no exclusive reference to any man, to any party of men, or to any government, in our own country. I advance them because I deem them to be truths, and momentous truths. They are, indeed, eternal truths; and the ruins of nations verify them.

Cast your eyes over the map of the world. Why have so many states and kingdoms been erased from its surface? Why prowls the savage Arab over the ruins of the proud metropolis of Assyria and of Chaldea? Why does the stupid Ottoman, or riots the effeminate Italian, on the consecrated soil, where once flourished the empire of Greece and of Rome? Famed for their arts and their arms, mighty nations trembled at their power, and submitted to their dominion. “They stood on an eminence and glory covered them.”

Though dead they still speak! Though ages since, blotted from the list of nations, their catastrophe remains a solemn and eternal memento of the truth, that, where civil officers are timid, partial, ambitious, or temporizing, in the administration of the laws, personal bravery, high attainments in science, and the ablest systems of government, cannot save a people from corruption, from licentiousness, from faction, nor from final ruin.

VII. It is the duty of rulers to exhibit to those whom they are called to govern, an example worthy their imitation.

The propensity to imitation is one of the strongest propensities of our nature. It is implanted by the God who made us deep in the human breast. It affects, in no small degree, our thoughts, our speech, and our actions. Hence the truth of the remark that “We are governed more by example than by precept.”

I readily subscribe to the doctrine of the natural, deep rooted, and malignant depravity of the heart. I must subscribe to it; for it is taught me by the exercises of my own breast, by the history of all men, and by the word of God, in a manner, which I cannot question.

But is it not to the power of example also, that vice is greatly indebted for its contagious and wide spreading influence? Even the groveling and polluted wretch, who wanders the streets taking the name of God in vain, reeling with intoxication, or imprecating damnation on himself and others, notwithstanding he may do no good, is by no means to be regarded as a blank in society. The transition, from beholding crime to the actual commission of it, is easy and natural. Vice, by becoming familiar, loses its odiousness; and practices, that were contemplated with detestation and alarm, are, by being often seen, looked upon with indifference, and adopted, not unfrequently, without remorse.

Example, by slow and imperceptible advances, transforms the temperate man into a sot, the civilized man into a savage, and makes even the dastard brave. But when aided by the respect, which is naturally entertained for a parent, for an instructor, for a ruler, or for brilliant and commanding talents, it exerts an influence that knows no calculation.—On this principle it is to be accounted for, more than any other, that families, schools, and nations, so often contract the manners and habits of their guardians;–that virtues and vices so often seem hereditary;–that the conduct of an individual of distinguished intellect and attainments, if conspicuous by his excellencies, or his crimes, is so often salutary, or pestiferous, to the community;–that the stream of corruption, at first slow and silent, in its progress, at length widens, and deepens, and swells into a torrent, bearing away the character, the hopes, and the happiness of thousands.

Of all the conditions of men, that of rulers is the most responsible, the most dignified, and the most commanding. Girded with power, as ministers of God; constituted the framers of the law; the arbiters, under its authority, of the conflicting claims of their fellow citizens; and presiding over their fortunes, their liberties and their lives, they are naturally regarded with profound emotions of deference and veneration. The elevation to which they are exalted renders all their conduct visible, and gives a force to their example, which will not be resisted. Their virtues, and their vices, diffuse their influence through the community, and stamp its character in the view of surrounding nations. That people, whom God visits with the judgment of wicked rulers, cannot long remain virtuous and happy. Regulations for the restraint or prevention of immorality, enacted by vicious magistrates is nothing better than a mockery of the solemn business of legislation. And in vain do the laws lift their voice against crimes, while those who should execute them are themselves transgressors. A government, without virtue, necessarily corrupts the people, and a people without virtue, the government. Till at length, each corrupted, and corrupting, they rush together, down the current of licentiousness, into the tempestuous ocean of misrule and anarchy.

MAY IT PLEASE YOUR EXCELLENCY…

TO be elevated to the first office, in the gift of an independent people, is a distinction, to which few can attain. It is, however, a distinction, which, by the man, who duly considers its cares, its dangers and its responsibility, will not be coveted. It is not Sir, we trust, from the views of ambition, that you have been again induced to listen to the suffrage of your fellow citizens. We have the pleasure of believing, that purer motives actuate you;–a conviction of the truth that your talents are not your own, and a readiness to employ them in the station, to which God may call you, however arduous its cares, or perplexing its difficulties. It is a truth, which ought never to be forgotten, that the higher our elevation, the greater usually are our dangers; and that the more aggravated will be our guilt, if unfaithful to our trust. But to the man, who fears God and strives to perform his duty, the most exalted condition is not without its encouragement; for if at last accepted of him, the greater will be his reward.

To instruct your Excellency, in the duties of your office, is an undertaking, in which, I have not the presumption to engage.

The best interests of a people, who have so frequently called you to rule over them cannot but be dear to you. On your exertions, in no small degree, are those interests depending.

Rising above the narrow, the embarrassing views of party prejudices and local attachments, and surveying with an expanded benevolence, a numerous and increasing community, it will, it should be expected, be the constant, the only aim of your Excellency, to promote the chief good of every class of your constituents; to give wisdom and moderation to the councils of State, and dignity and independence to the character of the commonwealth.

Elevation above our fellow men is not without its dangers. It is not in the glare of the sunshine of prosperity, that the graces, which God requires, are most apt to be cultivated. You, Sir, are not insensible to the temptations that surround you. The praise of men vanisheth with their breath; and comfortless will be the recollection of having filled the chair of State, and of having possessed, with distinction, the confidence of thousands, should you find yourself, in the end, without the approbation of God. While faithful to your country, be faithful to your God; nor neglect to seek first the approbation of Him whose favor is life, and whose loving kindness is better than life.

May your Excellency be richly endued with the wisdom which is from above. May the God of mercy grant you, in abundance, grace, peace and consolation. And when your days shall have been numbered, and your labors finished, may you hear the welcome, the transporting plaudit, Well done thou good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things; enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.

GENTLEMEN OF THE COUNCIL, AND GENTLEMEN OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES.

THE interests of your charge are of no ordinary value. It is not for yourselves, for your constituents, or for the present generation only, that you legislate, but for posterity. The influence of your deliberations will descend to future time, and numbers, yet unborn, may be blessed or cursed by them.

With you, Gentlemen, it rests, in no small degree, to determine, whether we shall enjoy the privilege of wise and salutary laws, and of an upright, steady and vigorous execution of them; whether we shall be blessed with good morals, with godliness and honesty, and generations to come be virtuous, independent and happy;–or whether our land shall be filled with vice, with intrigues, and with factions, and our children rise up and curse our memory.

Rich indeed is the inheritance left us by our fathers, which was purchased by their labors and sufferings, and preserved by their toil, their valor, and their prayers. Aggravated will be the guilt of not transmitting to posterity such a legacy unimpaired.

You are not, Gentlemen, ignorant, and it is presumed not unmindful, of the high importance of the concerns that are committed you; nor of the candor, wisdom and integrity, that are essential to a faithful and able management of them.

The period, at which you are entrusted, with the interests of the commonwealth, is portentous and eventful. The circumstances in which you are assembled are in many respects auspicious. Our improvements, in agriculture, in manufactures, in literature, and the sciences are rapidly advancing. The war in which we have been involved has, under the good providence of God, been brought to an happy issue; and to HIS name be our offering of undissembled gratitude. The soldier, released from his toils and dangers, again participates of domestic comforts. Our sea coast is no longer threatened by hostile fleets, nor our frontier settlements by invading armies.

Is not the present period, however, to the American who loves the dearest interests of his country, a period of deep solicitude? While, as a nation, we have been increasing in wealth and independence, is it to be denied, that we have rapidly increased also in vice and dissipation? Where are now to be found that hardihood of integrity, that veneration for the laws, that reverence for the magistrate, and that stern and unyielding opposition to licentiousness, which so strongly characterized our virtuous ancestors?

See the laws of God and of man, daringly violated; and the holy Sabbath openly profaned. See the minister of justice slumbering over his oath, and vice rioting with impunity; profane swearing and intemperance blighting, like the mildew, our national character, and threatening our fairest hopes.

The vengeance of God will not always slumber; and unless the friends of virtue and their country will gird themselves, rise in their might, and present a barrier to these dangers, let no man be disappointed, should our nation, ere long, be spoiled of its liberties, and our children become slaves.

It is to every good man a subject of sincere rejoicing, that the public are awaking to a sense of their danger. Something has already been done to stay the progress of these evils, and to ward off the judgments of God. By your exertions, Gentlemen, in co-operation with those of your constituents, much might be done; and our privileges and our posterity, might, it is to be hoped, yet be saved from ruin.

Will you ask me, in what manner your efforts should be employed in this concern? I will tell you Gentlemen; by enacting such laws, for the prevention, and discouragement, of vice, if such be not already enacted, as circumstances require; by appointing officers of justice, who are not afraid to do their duty; and dare not leave it undone; by leading, and aiding, in forming associations, for the reformation of morals, and showing, by your counsels and exertions, that you feel a deep and solemn interest in the subject; by proving to your neighbors, that you venerate the day of the Lord; and by exhibiting to them an example of temperance and moderation by abstaining from the use of ardent spirits in all cases, excepting when necessity demands them. The use to you may be immaterial, but the example to them may be of infinite moment.

Possessing, as is evident you do, the confidence of your fellow citizens, the effect of your exertions is not to be doubted. And tell me, Gentlemen, dare you, as Christians, or as patriots, withhold your hands from this work of reformation?

But there is an evil, to which we are exposed, and which, if possible, is still more alarming. That there are within our country, men, who owe to it their birth and education, who would cheerfully sacrifice, at the shrine of their ambition, its liberties and laws, is a truth, which, though painful to contemplate, we are constrained to acknowledge. For such men, have ever existed, in every country.

But is it possible, that the citizens of these United States are, almost without exception, hostile to their government, and enemies to the soil, which was purchased by the dangers and sufferings; which was consecrated by the blood; and in whose bosom are entombed the ashes of their fathers? If this assertion be true, degenerate indeed is our character; if it be not true, we are our own gross calumniators.

But the assertion is not, cannot, be true; and the conduct of those who make it gives the lie to it. For while the adherents of the two great political parties among us are stigmatized by each other with the epithet, enemies to their country, do they not as neighbors, treat each other with confidence, and as if, on all subjects, politics only excepted, they believed each other honest? Is it possible that a man should be just, in his domestic and his social intercourse, that in his private relations, he should conduct, in the fear of God, and yet be, in his relation to the community, totally void of principle?

And to what, is the imputation of this solecism in the human character to be attributed? The answer is at hand; to party spirit, that fiend of social order; which, emerging from the abyss of darkness, has embroiled, and weakened, and prostrated the firmest governments on earth.

Examine the records of the Legislative councils of our country, for the last twenty years. Whence happens it, let me ask you, when assembled for the solemn and commanding purpose of deliberating upon its interests, and of enacting laws and adopting measures, for the public good, that we find them, day after day, week after week, and month after month, giving precisely the same number of suffrages for the affirmative and negative of almost every question; whether of a political nature or not; whether of moment or not? Whence happens it, that when an individual among them has the independence to dissent from his party, he is immediately proscribed as a traitor to their cause, and as an enemy to his country? Whence happens it, that, with every political revolution in the Legislature, well nigh every office in their gift from the supreme judicatory down to that of the most subordinate minister of justice, must change its occupant? Is it because all the talents, all the integrity, all the patriotism in the nation belong to one party exclusively? This no man dare pretend. Is it not because both are under the influence of party prejudice; a prejudice which views every objet, in relation to itself, through a disordered medium; which literally, and perhaps honestly, puts evil for good, and good for evil; darkness for light, and light for darkness; which discovers, in its opponents, no merits, but magnifies all their failings; and sees, in its friends, no imperfection, but every excellency. If, Gentlemen, those among us, of your standing and influence, will not stop and hesitate; will not, by their wisdom, their moderation, and their forbearance, endeavor to check and to stay this torrent of persecution, where, O my BELOVED COUNTRY, where will it bear you! I criminate, exclusively, neither party. But I must say, that I believe them both guilty. Perhaps they are equally guilty. I cannot contemplate this subject, but with unutterable apprehensions.

The voice of our fathers cries to us from the dead, “In vain we toiled, in vain we fought, we bled in vain, if you our sons” have not the magnanimity to immolate your prejudices, on the altar of your country’s good. Every republic, which has existed, stands a monument before us, with lessons inscribed in blood. God himself declares that A kingdom, or nation, divided against itself cannot stand.

And remember, Gentlemen, that HE also declares, though hand join in hand, the wicked shall not go unpunished. And may we all remember, that we must one day stand at his tribunal.

AMEN.

 


Endnotes

1 Hon. Jacob Rush, Judge of the court of Common Pleas, in the state of Pennsylvania. See his charges to the grand jury. This little book should be read by every citizen.

* Originally published: Dec. 25, 2016

Sermon – Election – 1787, Massachusetts


Joseph Lyman (1749-1826) graduated from Yale in 1767 and was pastor of a church in Hatfield, MA (1772-1826). This election sermon was preached by Rev. Lyman in Boston, MA on May 30, 1787.


A
SERMON
PREACHED BEFORE
His Excellency JAMES BOWDOIN, ESQ.
GOVERNOR
His Honor THOMAS CUSHING, Esq.
Lieutenant – Governor;
the Honorable the Council, And the Honorable the Senate, And the House of Representatives,
Of the Commonwealth of
MASSACHUSETTS
May 30, 1787
Being the Day of GENERAL ELECTION
By Rev. JOSEPH LYMAN
Pastor of the Church in Hatfield
Boston:
Printed by ADAMS and NOURSE
Printers to the Honorable the General Court
N.B. The Address to His Excellency JOHN HANCOCK, Esq; Governor elect, was omitted in the delivery, as his choice and acceptance of the office, was not then declared.

AN ELECTION SERMON
ROMANS, Chap. 13: 4, first clause
For he is the Minister of God to thee for good.
It is the appropriate privilege of Christianity, to afford doctrines and precepts adapted to the circumstances of all characters of men. Other systems of morality are partial in their instructions, deficient in motives, and erroneous in the maxims of human life. But the author of our faith hath grounded our obligations upon a rational foundation, excited us to duty by suitable and efficient motives, and extended his instructions to every class of men. With equal regards he respects the wise and the noble, the uninstructed and him of low degree. To render his system the more beneficial, he has appointed ministers to explain its principles, and inculcate his saving doctrines upon men of all degrees; to vindicate and magnify his institutions before Kings, and to preach the gospel to the poor.

And this is the minister’s happiness, that he is ready furnished with instructions suited to every auditory before whom we may speak. All men need instruction, to be prompted to the discharge of their supreme obligation to God, and their relative obligations to each other: And this their common privilege that the blessed Jesus by his written word and preached gospel, provides for all a portion in due season.

The words selected for the basis of a discourse upon the present occasion, contain instruction for rulers; to point them to the origin of their power and the use they should make of it: They comprise a lesson equally useful to subjects; how to conduct themselves in relation to their rulers, and what views to entertain of their authority.

Should the Preacher conform himself to the text, and place to view the solemn importance of it, the present occasion might be richly profitable to this great assembly. May that Divine Teacher, who spake as never man spake, by the aids of his a Spirit, assist the Preacher to find out acceptable words and the words of truth and soberness; to recommend his doctrines in their purity and power to his servants, now convened to learn the law in his sanctuary.

For he is the minister of God to thee for good.
Our first enquiry is. Who is this minister of God? The context informs us, that he is the civil magistrate, called in a preceding passage, the higher powers, since the magistrate is raised in the community to a station above his brethren, and instructed with authority, to govern others, by ordaining and executing laws for the common good. That magistrates are designed by the Apostle appears from his terming them, Rulers who are not a terror to good works, but to the evil: they are appointed to support good morals and punish vice. And this part of the description agrees with the civil magistrate, He is a Revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil: and as acknowledgement of his services and dignity, he receives tribute. It is thus evident from the Apostle’s calling him the Higher Powers, the Ruler and the Revenger, that the civil magistrate is intended by the minister of God. In speaking upon this subject, four general propositions will merit our attention, viz.

    1. I. That civil authority is of divine institution.

 

    1. II. That civil authority is instituted for the good of the people in general, and for the benefit of the church of Christ in particular.

 

    1. III. What measures must the civil authority pursue to answer the end of their institutions?

 

    IV. What are the obligations of subjects to the civil authority?

1. Civil authority is of Divine institution.
He is a minister of God.

Order is Heaven’s first law. Without it the gracious designs of the Creator cannot be accomplished. He has made his creatures of various powers and degrees; rising by an easy and happy graduation, from the lowest species of animals, to the most exalted rank of heavenly intelligencies. Creatures of the same species are constituted with certain differences, by which they greatly excel each other. Men, who are said to be born in a state of equality, are yet endowed with unequal measures of strength and wisdom. And hence there is a greater variety amongst men, than amongst several species of animals. Some are qualified to teach and guide; others to be taught and led by their superiors. To affirm that in the qualifications to rule and guide, all men are equal, is to blend characters totally diverse, to confound wisdom and folly, and affability and condescension with ill-nature and pride. There have been distinctions in the world, and various degrees amongst men; while endowed with such various qualities and affections, the distinction will remain. To gainsay this distinction, is to counteract one of the principal laws of humanity. Some must be in authority; others in subordination. And happy id that people who are allowed in Providence, to look out from among their brethren persons of the best disposition, and most aptly qualified to rule over them.

That particular persons should be distinguished and exalted in society, may be argued from the methods of Providence, ever since man hath been upon earth. No people were ever able to subsist for a length of time, without forming into some kind of civil government, and setting aside those boasted equalities, with which men are born into the world. They must be subject to some common rule and authority, in order to possess any measure of happiness and security. Where there are no rulers to govern the community, all things are immediately involved in confusion and misery. The countenance of our original equality is a state of nature, and all ages have found a state of nature to be a state of war. Therefore it has pleased the common Parent of man, to lead them to a state of civil subordination , by which a part of the community are intrusted to ordain and carry into effect, laws and regulations for that whole.

That the establishment of civil government is by the counsel with wisdom of God, we are taught both from the history of his Providence, and the testimony of his inspired truth. Israel, the people of his love, were formed into a civil community, and made subordinate to established laws, to be administered by rulers appointed by rulers appointed for that purpose. And it was time of sore rebuke, when there was no magistrate in the land of sufficient authority, to put them in fear. The exaltation and degradation of rulers is the work of god, and not the production of a blind and fortuitous chance, according to the opinion of idle and infidel wits. For faith the word of enlightening truth: Promotion cometh neither from the east, nor from the west, nor from the south. But God is the Judge; he putteth down one and setteth up another. The prerogative of ordaining magistracy and civil authority belongs to our Lord Jesus Christ; this claim he assumes to himself under the name of Wisdom. “By me Kings reign and Princes decree justice. By me Princes rule, and nobles, even all the judges of the earth.” These words imply the power of God, in supporting civil authority, and also his approbation of civil magistracy, as one of the blessings of the Redeemer’s purchase. In what estimation the blessing of civil government is holden by God, may be learned from the apostolical direction to Titus, how to teach the flock of Christ.

“Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, and to obey magistrates.” So far is Christ interested in the support of civil authority, that he will acknowledge those only to his be his followers, who willingly obey rulers, and submit to their administrations.

But we need not go far for arguments: Our text is encompassed with proofs of the divine institution of civil authority. The argument in the first verse, for subjection to the higher powers, is, for there is no power but of god: the powers that be are ordained by God. The reason alleged for not opposing the power, is in the second verse. Whosoever resisteth the power resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. Thrice in this argument the Apostle stiles the magistrate, God’s minister; that is, a public servant appointed by God. He is stiled also into God’s revenger to execute wrath upon him that doth evil. And Christians must needs be subject, not only from fear and constraint, but cheerfully in discharge of a good conscience. Therefore our argument for the Divine institution of civil authority, rests upon the uniformity of Providence, in bringing mankind under government; upon he clear testimony of scripture; and upon our Lord’s repeated instructions to his disciples to yield a willing homage to rulers, even when they are neither of their faith, nor even of exemplary morals.

Not that God hath ordained any particular form of Government. This is left to the judgment of men, and the circumstance of particular countries and communities. But some government is necessary. God wills mankind to be in subordination, and that they stand to each other in the relation of rulers and subjects. He does not set up the claim of Kings, to an indefeatible and hereditary right: Such a claim is without support n scripture, and is repugnant to common sense. The leading idea of scripture is, that communities constitute certain of their brethren to rule over them: and thus constituted, they the ordinance of the Supreme Ruler.

Our argument is not, hat every power which assumes to be authority is really so; or that God would have it acknowledged as his institution. Usurpers and incurable tyrants are not the ordinance of God. Invaders are to be rejected as hostile to civil authority and subversive of government. The Apostle would show, that rulers allowed by long use, submitted to by promises of allegiance, or introduced according to the stated maxims of the community over whom they preside, are invested with power by God himself, and are to be obeyed by Christians as his ordinance; and this, however their characters may be faulty, and their administrations in many respects injudicious and reprehensible.

I proceed to prove,

II. That civil authority is instituted for the good of the people in general, and for the benefit of the church of Christ in particular.
He is the Minister of God to Thee for Good.

That God has instituted civil authority for the common good, is a full demonstration, that he utterly abhors that tyranny and oppression, which is so frequently practiced by the intolerant Rulers of the earth: His benevolence is incensed at the abuse of his gifts, and the perversion of those prayers and talents which he has bestowed upon magistrates for the happiness of his creatures. Rulers, who misapply their authority for their personal advantage, and use of force of the State, to feed their ambition and revenge, or to gratify the guilty passions of minions and favorites, at the expense of public misery, are singular objects of divine resentments, and a strange punishment is prepared for them by the righteous Avenger. No man has authority from God for partial advantage, but for the common good. And while God suffers such rulers to hold dominion among men, he utterly abhors the injustice and wickedness of their administrations; he will bring to swift destruction these haughty oppressors of the nations, and proportion his plagues to their violence, and to their fellow men. He will eventually shew his power, and makes his wrath known in their wonderful perdition.

But let none imagine, that God has no gracious purposes to answer by an iniquitous administration of civil government. Insatiable oppressors, bloody conquerors and imperial butchers, are of use in the scheme of Providence, to correct and amend the revolting tribes of men. While they make the earth to tremble, and turn fruitful fields into a desolate wilderness, they are the messengers of divine displeasure, the rod of God’s anger, and the staff of his indignation, against an hypocritical and rebellious people. If a wise and merciful administration will not correct the dissoluteness of an obdurate people, God scourges them with the stings of scorpions, with the relentless cruelty and ambition of unprincipled tyrants. Such dispensations are necessary, both to reclaim the disobedient, and as an example of retributive justice upon the incorrigible, that others may shun the rocks on which they split.

God’s judgments are full of mercy. That greatest temporal calamity which men experience, an unrighteous administration of civil power, has yet a gracious mixture of compassion, and tends to make perfect the scheme of Providence.

But a good and equal administration of government is a blessing to the community in a different sense. The enjoyments and tranquility of subjects are ae secured by the protection of rulers. To advance general happiness, to secure property, to increase true, rational liberty, and to preserve the lives of men, are the original purposes for which civil laws and magistrates are ordained by heaven. The Supreme Ruler has given to magistrates no warrant to pursue unequal or partial measures; to consult personal or family interests; nor to foster the wishes and pursuits of the cringing favorites.—The sword of the state is not committed to them for the exclusive advantage of particular societies or classes of men. To promote the general good, to cherish virtue, and to diffuse joyous prosperity through the whole community, are the ends for which God has exalted them to power. And they may pursue the interests of individuals, only in consistency with the public benefit. The design of their institution is to encourage virtue, to protect good men, to frown upon the courses of the wicked, and to repress the fraud and injustice, by which oppressors consume the faithful of the land, and devour the widow and him who hath no helper.

Our Apostle would teach the civil authority, that the great objects of their care, are to cherish virtue, and extirpate vice; to avenge public and individual wrongs; to curb the excesses of selfish avarice and ambition, and to foster that philanthropy and integrity, by which alone, nations can be built up and established. And they would do well to remember, that not only the general welfare of the community is a principal object with all rulers who pursue the end of their appointment, but that god requires of them, a constant and watchful attention to the happiness of the church of Christ; and for this plain reason, that magistrates can in no way so substantially promote the public good, as by honoring the doctrines and followers of Jesus. Whatever infidel wits may dream to the contrary, Jesus Christ is appointed by the Father to a universal kingdom. For the Father hath committed all judgment to the Son: And gave him to be head over all things to the Church. By him Kings reign, and at his pleasure he sets up and casts down all human rule and authority. And those are short sighted politicians, who pay no special regard to Christ. As the Governor of all States, he will be acknowledged Supreme, sitting in the assemblies of the mighty, and judging among the God’s: States that have heard of Christ, and his exaltation, and give him no public acknowledgments, are profanely impious against the Father and the Son, and may well fear the wrath of the Lamb. Let rulers then receive their power, as proceeding from Christ, and by solemn testimonies of respect to him and to his disciples, honor him as their Sovereign: And thus kiss the Son, lest he be angry and they perish from the way. They are ordained for the particular benefit of the Church, for the prosperity of which, all the wheels of Providence, and all the revolutions of empire, have been in motion from the morning of time. It should lie upon the minds of rulers, especially of those who make a profession, that they believe the truth of the Christian religion, to honor Christ by a true profession, and an answerable life, and by their immediate regards in all their administrations, to the prosperity and dignity of Christ’s family upon earth. This is God’s governing end in their appointment to rule, that his children may lead peaceable and quiet lives in godliness and honesty. It is a gross mistake, an affront upon the Lord of all worlds, to affirm, that civil magistrates have nothing to do for the church of Christ: Their paramount Sovereign, their civil trust, without a diligent attention to his church upon earth. As well may the minister of an earthly Prince allege that he has nothing to do for the peace and dignity of his master’s family, as civil rulers can allege that they have no concern with the church, the family of the King of Zion. The magistrates most assiduous and unwearied labors are due by his appointment to the church of God.

Our attention is called under the next head, to specify,

III. What measures the civil authority must pursue, to answer the end of their institution.
The God of Heaven, who setteth up Kings, and removeth Kings at his pleasure, gives to rulers the kingdom, strength, power, and glory, for the benefit of his people. To answer this benevolent purpose of Heaven should be the magistrates’ first employment. How this purpose may be most effectually answered is our present enquiry. And here I shall be indulged in several particulars. And

1st, to be the minister of God for good, the ruler must entrain an ardent love for his people.

Love is the main spring of every interchange of kind offices amongst men. In no case has this Divine principle a more efficacious operation, than when the ruler’s heart is inspired with a paternal affection towards his subjects. To be the father of his people, is the magistrate’s dignity: This constitutes his nearest conformity to our universal Parent: This will animate him to prosecute the common happiness, under all temptations, and in seasons of the most pressing trials and difficulties: Without this, he will faint under the perverseness and ingratitude of his people, when they oppose his labors for their good, and ill requite his faithful and painful services for national establishment and prosperity. Love animated the patience and perseverance of Moses, to plead for Israel in their numerous rebellions, and finally to pledge his own prosperity, for their salvation, when he prayed that God would spare them, altho’ to vindicate his justice, he should blot him out of his book; that is, cut him off from a name and inheritance among the tribes of the Lord, in the land of promise.

This noble affection filled David with all the agonies of distress, and the importunity of prayer, that God would spare the sheep of his flock, from the sword of the destroying Angel, which was drawn over Jerusalem. This fortified Nehemiah, to a life of denial, conflict and danger, while he built the city of his father’s sepulchers. And this will give energy to the endeavors of all magistrates for the prosperity of their brethren, and make them to esteem diligence, watchfulness, personal expense, self-denial, continual humiliation and supplication before God, but reasonable and pleasant services for the public benefit. That he may pursue their prosperity, the ruler must cultivate a tender and benevolent affection for his people. Again,

2nd, to be God’s minister for good, the ruler must learn the characters and interest of his people.

Ignorant and uninformed Statesmen, however honest in their intentions, can do very little for the happiness of the community. Their limited views create local prejudices, and subject them to the artifices of interested politicians. While a part of the community make undue advantages of their ignorant mismanagement, the body languishes and withers away for want of counsel, energy and uniformity in the civil administration. It concerns rulers, therefore, to be well acquainted with the tempers, capacities, views and interests of the citizens, in all parts of their government, that they may adapt their administration to the advantage of the whole, without material injury to individuals. Rulers unacquainted with the interests of the several professions, and the reputation and capacities of the principal characters, will make grievous mistakes in government, by confining their labors to a narrow circle, and by losing the services of the most suitable men in the community. What is more preposterous, than for rulers to exert their influence and authority, for the partial interest of the territory in their vicinity, to make the interest of one class or profession yield to the avarice and ambition of another; to be a stickler for this or that faction in the State? A ruler should have an enlarged heart, a noble, well-instructed mind; able to comprehend the characters and interests of his brethren, and disposed, with a generous impartiality and dissuasive benevolence, to speak peace to all his seed. And for this end he must study the dispositions, the employments, the weaknesses and abilities, and the substantial interests of all his subjects. This knowledge is essentially requisite to be a useful and reputable magistrate. Again,

3rd, to be a minister for good to the people, the ruler must be instructed in the political maxims and laws of the State, in which he governs.

The safety of a people, especially of a free people, depends upon a sacred adherence to the original principles of their government. When those principles are disregarded, every blessing is insecure, and the administration degenerates into an arbitrary despotism. Therefore rulers should understand the system of laws, and those forms of administration, to which the people are accustomed, and conform themselves to those original principles; then they will have a line of conduct in their office, and the people will know what to expect from them. As a general knowledge of civil policy is necessary to make an accomplished ruler, so a thorough acquaintance with their own state policy is necessary to make a tolerable one. When ignorance is in place, the people will mourn, and folly and wickedness be exalted on every side. It was an essential qualification for government in Solomon, that God had given him wisdom of heart, very much, even as the sand upon the sea-shore. WO to thee, O land, when thy King is a child. The curse of ignorant uninformed rulers is taught us by the prophet Isaiah, and I will give children to be their Princes, and babies shall rule over them: As for my people, children are their oppressors, and women rule over them: O my people, they which lead thee, cause thee to err. And faith Solomon, the Prince that wanted understanding, is also a great oppressor. But by wisdom and understanding the throne is established, and the expectations of the people are richly gratified. No man therefore, should undertake to rule amongst men, until he is fully instructed into the civil constitution and laws of the community, where he is to govern. Again,

4th, to promote the public good, rulers must be controlled in all their measures, by truth and integrity.

For wisdom without integrity, will soon degenerate into cunning and artifice, by which the interests of the community will fall a prey to those who should be their friendly protectors. A magistrate without truth and sincerity is the snare and perdition of his subjects. All power should be founded in truth, both in the attainment and the exercise of it. The lip of truth shall be established forever: but a lying tongue is for a moment. Excellent speech becometh not a fool; much less do lying lips a prince. An administration founded in truth and righteousness, will bear the test of scrutiny: and measures dictated by honesty, shall come forth approved and prosperous in the end: while the duplicity of deceitful politicians shall perish, and involve both rulers and subjects in the snares of perplexity and ruin. All men, especially all leading men, carry their measures with the most success and reputation, when they prosecute them with simple uniformity and honest sincerity. It should therefore be the first object with him who rules over men, to be just, to be true in his administrations: not having a mysterious system of delusion to deceive others into his fraudulent intentions.

To gain the confidence of their subjects, rulers must be men upon who whom they may safely depend. And without this confidence, subjects can derive very little advantage from government. Men in place, therefore, must make declarations and promises strictly just and clearly intelligible, and by adhering to them, the subject must know what to expect from authority. Rulers, to be useful, must deal fairly and honestly with the people; distribute equal justice; protect them from wrongs, and punish injuries with integrity and decision: not leave honest men the prey of fraud.

It is a sad time, when rulers are so inattentive to justice and veracity, that truth falls in the streets, and he who departs from iniquity, makes himself a prey. Good rulers make fair promises and keep them, and are exemplary in fulfilling contracts. The magistrate, who defrauds his subjects, will have a poor face to punish individuals who defraud one another. Do rulers wish to be public blessings? Then let them keep good the public faith, sustain the credit of the state, and pay punctually the public contracts. This will give energy to government, establish the influence and credit of authority, and teach the people that uprightness and veracity, by which alone the various members of society can be closely cemented. A dissembler and a cheat among individuals, is a base character; and a fraudulent administration of government, is a character as much more detestable, as the number and authority of the rulers exceed one individual. Some have acted as though a fraud or falsehood might be lost in the number of partners, or be sanctified by great and powerful names: but he who sitteth in the Heavens, will manifest their error, and prove, that lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, that they are but for a moment, that the feet of unrighteous rulers stand in slippery places; and when the good man seeth their end, he shall suddenly curse their habitation. Does the ruler wish to be useful and reputable? Let him be a true and honest man. Would he involve himself and the community in infamy and perplexity? Let him be unequal in his administrations; let his performances contradict his promises; by false weights and false measures of justice and equity, let him frame iniquity by law, and teach the Lord’s people to transgress. Again,

5th, to rule well, the magistrate must cultivate habits of industry and frugality.

Rulers have so much to do, that they have no time to lose. An indolent ruler, like the useless and unwieldy drone, devours the honey which others have gathered. He consumes the people’s tribute without earning it. The support which subjects should liberally furnish for the maintenance of government, rulers should merit by their diligent services. And while they carefully avoid avarice in withholding expenses for the public good, it concerns them to use the revenues of the State, with economy, that no part of the public treasure be applied to useless and trifling purposes. Covetousness and prodigality are both mischievous vices in rulers, and they should avoid each extreme, if they would be blessings to the people.

Indolent rulers will be other ways vicious. Idleness will cloud their minds and extinguish the nobler sensations of the soul, and the most noxious weeds will spring up in their place. By their example, habits of idleness, intemperance, dissipation, gaming, and profaneness, like some infectious contagion, will spread through all ranks of people. An enervated, poor and contemptible people will be the consequence of an indolent and dissipated administration of government. Such wicked rulers will rule over a poor, worthless people; the community will sink into effeminacy, dependence and wretchedness. It becomes the magistrate then to be a man of business, not a man of pleasure; to be attentive to his office, and painful in his exertions for the common good. Thus shall his example recommend hardiness, patience, frugality and self-denial to his subjects, and through the prevalence of these virtues, they shall be able to meet the enemy in the gate, and rise with luster among the nations. It was the maxim of a Grecian Prince, worthy to be adopted by the Christian magistrate; it ill becomes a Statesman, to sleep all night.

The virtues of industry, and well-judged frugality, are the support of republican governments, and are therefore peculiarly requisite in their civil authority, who by their example, should teach the people habits of diligence, hardiness and economy, not to consume, according to the baneful customs of our republics, in dissipation and luxury, much more than we earn by our labor and industry. Again,

6th, to answer the purpose of their institution, civil rulers must protect good citizens, and punish the wicked.

The scripture character of rulers is that they are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Power is grossly abused and perverted, when wicked citizens are fostered and protected by authority.

God has ordained rulers to avenge the wrongs of injustice and oppression, and the violence of sedition and rebellion. It is only when bad men are in authority, that vile men are exalted and screened from justice. No favor or friendship, no relation or connection with men in power, should cover the wicked from punishment. Rulers are to execute the laws: And the laws are made for the lawless and disobedient. All delays of justice, the exemption from chastisement , which corrupt citizens receive in breaking the peace and violating the ordinances of justice, is a sore malady in the State, and proves that the head is sick and the heart faint. Good magistrates, by their influence, suppress immorality, and every transgression of relative justice. God commands it, and faithful subjects have a claim upon their rulers, to be protected from fraud and oppression, to have the laws executed, their persons, and their liberty and properly protected, from the depredations of designing and unprincipled men. And the magistrate who does not endeavor to punish and reclaim, or utterly to purge from the State wicked and disobedient subjects, forgets the main design of his exaltation. And when good men are left to the fear and danger of losing their privileges and possessions, they are sadly neglected; and the God of Heaven will avenge their quarrel against such slothful and unrighteous magistrates. To let the wicked go unpunished, and the righteous live without protection, is both a contemptible weakness and a scandalous wickedness in authority. For it should be an abomination to Kings to do wickedness, and the throne is established by righteousness. Righteousness exalteth a nation, but sin is the reproach of any people. He that justifies the wicked and he that condemns the just, even they both are an abomination to the Lord. For this end rulers wait upon their work to make a clear distinction between the just and the unjust; and it is an illustrious display of benevolence, to over-whelm incorrigible offenders by the arm of power, and raise to safety and honor the faithful of the land. It is a precept grounded upon moral reasons, and consequently of perpetual obligation,– The man that will do presumptuously and will not hearken unto the Priest, which standeth there to minister before the Lord thy God, or unto the judge, even that man shall die; and thou shall put away the evil from Israel. The State must employ punishments adequate to the suppression of vice, and rewards commensurate to the encouragement of virtue and fidelity: and the ruler who permits the rod of the wicked to rest upon the lot of the righteous, is disobedient to God, and an enemy to his people. Again,

7th, Rulers, to be ministers of God for good, must be men of religion.

All Christian graces are of immediate use in the administration of government. And as rulers receive their ordination from God, he expects that as servants they honor him, and obey his Son Jesus Christ, as their liege Lord. Since religion furnishes men with those excelling gifts and good dispositions, which qualify them to govern, so they can never cultivate faith and piety with too careful an assiduity. Their success in office, and their usefulness among their subjects, depends primarily upon the Divine presence and blessing. Therefore they should be men of exemplary faith in their King and Savior, and not lean unto their own understanding. That illustrious magistrate Nehemiah thought it a most essential qualification in his brother Hananiah, to take charge over Jerusalem. Because he was a faithful man and feared God above many. Magistrates should be men of prayer, that God may dwell with them and direct their counsels. They should be accustomed to appear before God in the posture of suppliants, that he would enlighten their ignorance, and prosper their exertions. None have more need of wisdom than they; and to whom should they apply but to give to him who giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not. Would they be honored by the obedience of their subjects? Let them obtain this honor by obeying God, by lives of temperance, sobriety and a becoming gravity. Like their blessed Master, let them be meek, humble and gentle towards all men; like him, love righteousness and hate iniquity, be constant, watchful, and fervent in duty, bearing their sorrows, and relieving the distresses of their fellow men; like him go about doing good. It is incumbent upon them , to honor Christ in his institutions, setting a pattern before their brethren of family religion, resolving with the pious and valiant Joshua, that as for us and our houses, we will serve the Lord; attending uniformly upon the ordinances of public worship, hallowing God’s Sabbaths, and receiving his sanctuary, attentively waiting upon the dispensation of the gospel. From rulers we may well expect submission to all God’s commandments, and that they cherish the appointed means of diffusing Christian knowledge, and by honoring Christ’s ministers and followers, become nursing fathers of the Church. Some have thought that religion is no important part of a ruler’s character: It is true, that rulers without religion are to be obeyed. But when it is considered that they are made rulers ultimately for the good and prosperity of the Church, we must censure those for their ignorance or irreligion, who adopt a maxim so pernicious to civil society, and embarrassing to the interests of virtue and morality. Without religion, rulers have no God, unto whom thy may repair and expect his blessing upon their administration. God is not with them, and when his presence is withdrawn, darkness and perplexity will fill their paths with snares and adversity. Immoral and ungodly rulers may affect courtesy, affability, and patriotism to gain popularity; but they have no moral principle upon which the public may depend, and too often have they proved the scourge of the community, and the rod of God’s indignation against a profane or hypocritical people. Therefore we lay it down as a qualification of great moment to the State, that magistrates be men of piety, who have a governing regard to the glory of God, and a warm affection for the gospel of Christ. Such are the sentiments avowed in our form of government, which requires the great officers of government, before they enter upon their trust, to declare their belief of the Christian religion, as the religion taught from Heaven, for the happiness and salvation of lost men. Again,

8th, to influence them to a useful discharge of their trust, it is important, that rulers keep in mind their mortality and their future account before the bar of God.

I have said ye are Gods: and all of you are children of the Most High. But ye shall die like men. Like their brethren of the dust they shall go to the grave, the house appointed for all the living. To death succeeds their solemn account at the tribulation of the son of man, who will judge the secrets of men according to our gospel. The wise, the great and the mighty of the earth, will stand before the impartial judgment-seat, upon a level with the despised and indigent of their subjects. At that solemn hour when the opinions of men shall be lighter than the dust of the balance, and the flattering tongue shall be put to perpetual silence, when the judgment shall be the Lord’s and shall be administered without respects of persons, the enquiry will be, not whether we have been great in the earth, enjoyed the applauses of our fellow worms, and exercised dominion among the sons of the dust: but whether we have filled our station, kept in view our last account, and prepared matters for our acquittal at the solemn trial. Rulers should remember that their reward will be in exact proportion to their benevolence and fidelity, not according to their power and authority; and that their punishment will be alleviated by any instances of present impunity from the importance of human justice: but according to their sloth and luxury, their wantonness and ambition, their oppression and avarice, such will be their retribution from the sentence of the Lord of Saboath, who hears the groans of injured and neglected subjects, and has prepared a strange punishment for the haughty oppressors of the earth.

Were the day of retribution, which will soon overtake us all, duly realizes by magistrates, how could they fail to discharge with assiduity and care their sacred trust, and to be in earnest to become ministers of God for good, to the people? Having stated the methods, by which rulers may answer the benevolent purposes of Heaven in their appointment, it concerns us under the last general head,

IV. To point the obligations of subjects to the civil authority.
It is the prerogative of a free people to appoint men from among their brethren to rule over them. It is their duty and only security to use this prerogative with discretion and fidelity, not using their liberty before them; not by ambition and turbulent passions, disturb the quiet of society; not by tumults and sedition augment the miseries of this miserable world. Men who have not a temper of subordination, are not charitable, humble and quiet in their demeanor, are poorly qualified for heaven. Men who resist lawful authority, and are engaged in tumult and confusion, may be fit for the realms of anarchy, darkness and despotism; but without repentance they shall never behold the seats of the blessed, where everyman is content with his station. Do we wish for present security and enjoyment, for national strength and dignity? Do we wish to behold the seats of the blessed? Then we must obey magistrates.

I have finished my doctrinal observations; may I be indulged in some practical reflections, and sundry cursory observations upon the present situation of this Commonwealth, and the methods which god requires to be pursued for restoring and lengthening out our tranquility, and then conclude with addresses suited to this important occasion. As I have endeavored in the whole, so in this branch of discourse I would with to speak with the unfettered freedom of a Servant of that Prince, whose kingdom is not of this world.

This country was planted by men of singular piety, of whom the old world was not worthy. God found them a refuge from the oppression of civil and spiritual tyranny. Having planted, he protected them from the most pressing dangers. Often hath he delivered them by signs and wonders, and by an out-stretched arm. In some feeble measure our Forefathers lived worthy of the Divine care over them, and by grateful obedience acknowledged the salvations wrought for them. But their children forgot his benefits, and by irreligion and sensuality, by dissipation and luxury, by worldliness and pride, they provoked the Holy One of Israel, to threaten them with the loss of those privileges and blessings, which he had so richly bestowed, and they had so unthankfully abused.

Many have celebrated the virtues, and confidently predicted the rising glories of the American States. But while we continue our provocations, we may do well to enquire, whether these flattering panegyrists do not speak to us smooth things, and prophecy deceit? Would not the sublime prophet Isaiah address us in another stile? ”Hear O heavens, and give ear O earth! For the Lord hath spoken. I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me. Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evil doers, children that are corrupters, they have forsaken the Lord, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger, they have gone away backward. Because the Lord was wroth with his heritage, he did of late raise up adversaries unto them of their brethren. The British parliament, in support of a groundless claim, levied an unnatural war against us, and assumed without warrant to be the Highest Powers in our governments.

By the will of God, and the direction of his ordinance, our civil authority, to whom our first allegiance was due, we were called to contend for our possessions, our liberties, and our lives, even unto blood. Long and distressing was the conflict. In the confusions of war, and especially in the perplexities of such a war, in which the minds of the people were divided as to their duties of allegiance, order and government were essentially injured among us, and the spirit of subordination and loyalty, which was before habitual, was nearly lost, and for a season we were threatened with all the miseries of that people, who have no magistrate to put them in fear. But in the season of our declensions, He who remembered mercy for his people, interposed for our help, and in due time ordained peace for us. But in nothing was his grace more remarkable than in leading us out of a distempered state of partial anarchy into a state of order and government. He gave us laws and testimonies right and good, a civil constitution perhaps the most perfect in the world, which is the security of good citizens, the admiration of the wise, and the envy of tyrants: To which if we strictly adhere, we cannot in a political sense, fail of being a happy people.

Since this mercy of our God upon us, in saving us from the evils of war, and plucking us from the confusion of anarchy, we have walked unworthy of his great goodness. We sang his praises, but soon forgot his benefits. We have continued to those follies and excesses, for which he had already chastised us. While deeply involved in debt, our distempered passion for the fashions of luxurious and affluent nations plunged us into our former prodigality and unprofitable expenses. Instead of applying ourselves to discharge the claims of public and private creditors, and thus to vindicate our honor and independence, we employed the riches of our soil in purchasing the trappings of an exotic dress, and in indulging our vitiated appetites in the expensive productions of distant regions, and thus are we become the servants of foreigners, and strangers rule over us. Poor and dependent, our minds are enervated to the pursuits of a national freedom and dignity. And yet restless under the unavoidable pressure of our follies, we are little inclined to satisfy our creditors, and pay the price of our beloved dissipation. Like the prodigal, exhausted and worn down by riot, we complain of our pains and embarrassments, and idly resolve into a grievance, that poverty, from which no created power but our own can save us. Jaded by our devices, indigent through profuse living, rendered intractable by long exemption from the restraints of human and Divine laws, and proud in a licentious liberty, that fore-runner of despotism, we have become restless under necessary burdens, and with a mistaken resentment, have complained of public requisitions as the source of our sorrows and perplexities. Lavish expenses have made us poor, and a temper not duly subordinate, has turned our complaints from our own follies, against our Fathers, our best friends and benefactors. How many of us have labored to free ourselves from the necessary burdens of public and private debts, that we might obtain a wider scope for the indulgence of appetites, which it were much better to mortify?

Will the enquiry be thought immodest, when I ask, whether our wealthy and leading characters have not been first in this transgression? Of the legislators of our republican government, we might have expected effectual laws to discourage excesses, by which the citizens are so certainly degraded to a state of servility and dependence. They knew better than their constituents, the evil of such excesses. Might they not in due season, have encouraged industry, temperance and frugality, among the people; laid restrictions upon foreign luxuries, and made it as necessary as it was useful, for the people to produce the accommodations of life by their own labor, and upon their own soil. And especially might not the examples of men in power, and families of fashion and affluence, in preferring the productions of our own country, to commodities received from abroad, have produced the most salutary effects among all classes of our citizens? Such examples would have been more influential and authoritative, than a whole code of commercial regulations. This is one of our wounds: I mention it freely, since I hope in good Providence, that our rulers, our public teachers and the multitude of our brethren, will think it important to apply themselves to a radical cure of the evil. For nothing kills the noble spirit of freedom, like the state of dependence, which will ever attend the folly of spending more than we earn. Let our rulers not merely in word, but indeed, by a laudable example, be first in this matter, and teach republicans to be honest, industrious and frugal in their modes of living. Then shall substantial wealth and independence be the joyous portion, of all classes of our happy citizens.

That we have been transgressors in many moral and Christian duties, the god of judgment hath testified, in the calamities brought upon us. To punish and to reclaim us, he hath sent among us the rod of his visitation. Shall there be evil in the city, and the Lord hath not done it?

The last year, a year equally distinguished for the gifts of Providence, and for our unthankfulness and disobedience to human and Divine authority, has been fruitful in new and perplexing evils. God has suffered a spirit of insurrection and resistance of lawful authority to rise up in this Commonwealth. As a correction from him, it is a righteous testimony of his holy displeasure; as proceeding from man, perhaps an opposition to government, and a war against the community, has been seldom more wanton and unprovoked. The objects sought after, in these tumults, have been of the most faulty kind. One avowed end was to compel the Legislature into an emission of a paper currency, to be a tender in payment of all public and private contracts. A measure wholly preposterous, when the public ought to be discharging their old obligations, and not contracting a new debt by borrowing money by an emission of paper; a measure totally unjust, and as truly impolite as to administer opiates to cure a lethargy. The faultiness of such violent attempts arose also from the utter impossibility in the present state of our affairs, that the Legislature could make a promise upon their paper and keep it; that is, they could never honestly redeem the money, by saving it from a rapid depreciation, and making punctual payment. Such a measure then would have been a gross violation of commutative justice, the unwavering observance of which is enjoined upon all bodies of men under all possible circumstances. To endeavor by hostility to compel the Legislature into a measure, which they wisely thought impolitic, and knew to be palpably unjust, was a high-handed offence, and clearly proves, that multitudes were under the clouds of God’s anger, and were sadly forsaken of restraining grace.

But the design was filled with other mischiefs. It was to wrest from the Legislature the power of governing; from the tribunals of law the power of decreeing justice; and from the Executive, the essential prerogative of carrying into effect the laws of the Commonwealth. Thus were our foundations to have been destroyed. The declared intentions of the male-contents, and what they attempted by levying an impious war upon their country, was to arrest the arm of government, and seize the administration of a despotic rule into their own hands; to sap the foundations of our glorious constitution, to change its essential forms, and thus to break down the barriers of our rights, and overwhelm this great republic in dreary confusion and irretrievable ruin. Whoever has been acquainted with their complaints and their claims, and has been a witness of their proceedings, will consider this, as a charitable representation of their views and pursuits.

Blessed be the Lord god of our salvation, that in the midst of our unworthiness and provocations, he has interposed and saved us from the sword of the oppressor, and the violence of the wicked men. Ardent thanksgivings are this day due to the Father of mercies, that in the season of alarming dangers, he raised up an administration of government, who, in the faithful page of history, will be celebrated for their wisdom, their moderation and integrity.

After many outrageous and treasonable excesses, had prevailed, in several parts of the State, and the lives and estates of the guilty authors were forfeited to their country, our Chief Magistrate, at the request of the Legislature, offered a free and full pardon to all the promoters and abettors of those seditious tumults. Through an infatuated obduracy, that pardon was scornfully rejected, even under the clearest light and evidence exhibited to them, that their complaints were groundless, and that the government had been administered with great integrity. Former violences were renewed, the criminal demands of the insurgents increased, and the existence of the Commonwealth, was put to the hazard. When unmixed mercy could not reclaim bur raised to higher excesses the resistance of the offenders, authority assumed a more firm and decisive tone, and raised a military force to repel their violence: Yet great as the forbearance and compassion of the government in all their exertions to suppress the rebellion. Forgiveness was still extended to the body of the rebels; the leaders only were left to the justice of the law, and even with the leaders much lenity was used by proffering terms of pardon to many of them. The steps of our civil administration were the marks of their justice and humanity. The wisdom and decision of the Council demand our admiration and gratitude: the measures of our Chief Magistrate all denoted the firmness of his spirit, his regard for our laws, his inflexible adherence to the principles of the constitution, and his unshaken determination to protect his country, and repress the violence of wicked men. His conduct was equally distinguished for benignity and moderation, that aversion from bloodshed and that ardent wish to recover and preserve offenders, which is a shining part of the character of a good man and a Christian magistrate. He hath shewed himself the Father and Friend of his country: The minister of God for good to his people.

That worthy personage, who acted under his immediate orders in suppressing the public commotions, has added fresh laurels to his former honors, and evinced how much he deserves the appellation of the Christian Hero. The officers and men employed in this important and unwelcome service, by their firm, temperate and wise conduct, discovered that excellent spirit which ought ever to reign in the bosoms of free citizens. Ye authors and leaders of these happy operations, if we forget your services, let our right hand forget its cunning. Thou country thus saved of the Lord from the horns of the unicorn, if we do not remember thee above our chief joy, let our tongue cleave to the roof of our mouth.

Thrones of judgment are established, and the fear of violence is drive from us: and by the uninterrupted execution of our wholesome laws, we may sit quietly under our own vines and under our own fig-trees. And we may gladly hope that without connivance from men of influence, these seeds of sedition will e’er long be totally eradicated from our republic: The methods of Providence in protecting the Commonwealth and succeeding the measures of government, merit particular notice and unfeigned gratitude. The finger of God has been conspicuous in directing and prospering our public counsels. Operations dictated by wisdom and moderation, have been succeeded by remarkable interpositions of Heaven. The hearts of those in rebellion melted like wax, and they could perform no part of their enterprise; and the measures of administration were crowded with the wishes for success.

May the author of all effectual influences impress the minds of deluded citizens with a conviction of the criminality of their conduct, and of the evident hand of God, which was lifted up against them. It is but justice to observe, that the measures of government, have been conformable to the system of God’s government over a sinful world. Mercy has been freely proffered, and when despised, has been followed by a mixture of judgment and mercy. Because the Lord loved his people, he hath inclined the hearts of their rulers into such a prosperous and salutary administration. To regard these foot-steps of Providence, and pursue a similar system of administration, can scarcely fail to recover us from our confusions, and establish our public tranquility. But inattention to the finger of God, and an abuse of his healing mercies, the continuance of our rebellious and resistance of his civil ordinance, will provoke him to empty us from vessel to vessel, and for the iniquities of our land, many will be the rulers thereof, unstable as water we shall not excel. But if conscious of past ingratitude and abuse of blessings, we will turn unto him by repentance and works of righteousness, will speak the truth one to another and love as brethren; if our rulers will go before us in the duties of prayer, faith and obedience, submission to Christ, and respect to his doctrines and institutions; if they will love the people and consult their interest by integrity and goodness, study rather to do them good than to gratify their idle humors; if they will measure their administrations by the line of truth and honesty, although thousands frown,; if they will be temperate and industrious in their work, will punish the wicked and protect obedient subjects, and thus set the Lord always before their face, then shall their reputation flourish and their authority prove an unspeakable blessing to the people: God shall fill Zion with judgment and righteousness, and wisdom and knowledge shall be the stability of our times and strength of salvation: And the fear of the Lord shall be our treasure; and shall lift us high among the nations.

The time calls me to a conclusion, in suitable addresses.

Our first attention is due to our worthy Chief Magistrate, called by God and his country to the chair of government.

May it please your Excellency,

THAT happy tranquility which we enjoyed under your former administration, cannot fail to excite our congratulations, that God has so far restored your health, that you are able to accept the chief Magistracy in this Commonwealth. Appointed by God to bear the rule over your brethren, you will be pleased to accept our best wishes that your health may be adequate to the weighty burthens of your high and sacred office. Our prayer to the almighty is, that he would be the health of your countenance and your God; that he would strengthen you to eminent usefulness among the people. May divine preservation and illumination accompany your administrations that you may continue to act worthily for Christ our King, and be accepted of the multitude of your brethren. May that diffusive love which you so early manifested for your country, by placing yourself in the first rank of danger s, to repel foreign usurpation, and vindicate the privileges and laws of your country still animate you, to pursue the happiness of the community, by supporting the dignity of civil authority, the prerogatives and independence of the Supreme Executive, and the other branches of administration; by making law terrible to all invaders and usurpers of the powers of government, and by drawing aa line of distinction between faithful subjects, and those who may be so lost to virtue, as to disturb the public peace, and assail the property, the liberties and the lives of their fellow-citizens.

With pleasing anticipation, we behold your Excellency God’s minister for good, bearing the sword of the State, not as a terror to good works, but to the evil. Our eye with delight marks your path, while you lead us your children into the duties of relative of relative and Christian life, and by your example teach us, that self-denial, frugality and industry, so essential to the happiness of a free people. From your Excellency, will our Legislature expect advice in those measures, which may maintain inviolate the principles of our civil constitution against every species of encroachment; how the public good is to be pursued, honesty and integrity, diligence and application encouraged, and dissipation driven from the State; how the laws of justice may be effectually vindicated, and the seat of fraud and oppression, be removed far from us. Our expectations are from your Excellency, that liberty shall be maintained by law, and all subjects be secure in their possessions; that public faith, and national credit and dignity, be solicitously preserved.

May the institutions of literature flourish under your friendly patronage; especially may that illustrious university to which the public is so much indebted for laying the foundation of science in your Excellency, and qualifying you for such extensive services in this, and through the United States, be the object of your peculiar care, and by your powerful influence be protected in all its important rights and immunities.

We hope in the goodness of the universal Parent, that by affording you his presence and grace, he will shew, that because he loved his people, he hath therefore appointed you to rule over them. From your Excellency, the interests of piety and the Christian religion justly expect continual aid and friendly countenance. May the Angel of the Divine presence, enlighten and beautify the paths of your administration. In your days, religion, truth and peace dwell on the earth, and after you have served your generation by the will of God, may you receive the rewards of your fidelity, from the approbation of your Judge. May you here enjoy a portion, better than many sons, and late be welcomed to the presence of your Divine Savior and Judge, and from him obtain that Crown of glory which fadeth not away.

Our respects are now due to the Gentlemen who compose the Honorable the Senate, and the Honorable the House of Representatives.

Fathers of our country, and Elders of our tribes,

YOU are this day, constituted by Jesus Christ, the ordinance of God, for the god of his church, and the sacred principles of our excellent constitution: a constitution which wisdom will approve, as the national bulwark of our independence and sovereignty, the effectual protection of good citizens, the security of freedom, property and life, and our defense against the rude encroachments of anarchy and despotism. You have this day declared your belief of the Christian religion. Integrity in this profession will lead you to prize our constitution the more, since it is so friendly to morality, and the Christian faith. You have bound yourselves in the discharge of your office, to promote the common good upon gospel principles, by cultivating in your temper, and practice, those benevolent graces of Christianity, which will enable you to rule with reputation to yourselves, and advantage to the people. You have pledged yourselves to honor Christ’s institutions, to protect his servants, to discountenance all contempt of the doctrines and maxims of his holy faith. Thus from the manner of your inauguration, we may expect, that you may be nursing Fathers to the Church. It becomes a minister of that church,(and will therefore be acceptable to you) to stir up your pure minds to use the gift that is in you, for the good of the people. YOU ARE THE Ministers of God, and as such, accountable at the tribunal of the Son of Man, in the great day of dread decision. Let me exhort you as candidates for eternity, to keep in mind that solemn day, and as faithful servants, to be habitually prepared for it. And that through Divine grace, you may give up a good account at last, be entreated to regard the eye of God, which is upon you, and look to him to pardon your unworthiness, to counsel you by his unerring wisdom, and to quicken you by his truth: that he would not take his Holy Spirit from you, but by his effectual influences, guide you into the paths of uprightness. The scriptures will teach you your liableness to error; and your desire to be useful. Will excite your applications for that anointing of the Holy One, by which you will not err fatally. As Rulers, it concerns you to be men of prayer, to maintain an intercourse with Heaven, and a humble dependence upon Divine teaching and guidance. Do you wish to be honored of God in your office? You must honor him by submitting your administrations to his government, by a respect to his name, his institutions and those eternal laws of righteousness, ordained for the careful observance of all his rational subjects. With you the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and to depart from evil is understanding.– To you as their Fathers , will the people look for patterns of moral and Christian duty. You will therefore go before them in personal, in family and public religion and obedience. Care for the State will arm your zeal and fortitude against vicious and immoral practices, to frown upon gross breaches of human and divine laws. Your services will be approved of God, and useful to the community, whenever you shall punish with decision and impartiality, the lawless practices of vicious and disobedient subjects. Through your example and official exertions shall those virtues of benevolence, integrity, industry and frugality, so essential to a republican and Christian community, greatly prevail. And your testimony shall suppress the insolence of fraud and injustice, falsehood and perjury, by which the bonds of society are dissolved. May the oath of God become terrible, and all human promises and contracts be held sacred. Punctuality in Rulers to their contracts is the first step towards a general honesty in the State. Their example gives energy to laws against private fraud and injustice. You will feel the bond of that law of your Master, to owe no man anything; but according to the ability of the people, to make a punctual and satisfactory payment of public debts. You will utterly disallow all measures, which may put honest and feeble citizens into the power of griping and unprincipled oppressors; than such measures, nothing is more repugnant to that Gospel, by which you are to be judged. Every indirect method to extricate the people from embarrassments is a new load to sink them in the mire. The Fathers of our tribes will therefore cultivate public and private faith, and teach us all not to go neighbor beyond, or to defraud our neighbor.

May the good God influence our honorable Legislature, into a system of administration, which shall defend our Constitution, render venerable our laws, protect from violence the seats of Justice and the Throne of Judgment, and by a due mixture of mercy and justice, allure offenders to obedience, or by adequate penalties incapacitate them from disturbing the public tranquility. You will think nothing too much to encourage a spirit of loyalty and patriotism; and to this end you will encourage the means of grace and education. To your wisdom does it belong to discover the political measures, for promoting the good designs which have been mentioned, but I may suggest, that they should be such as are approved by the gospel of Christ.

OUR national concerns, as a confederated Republic, are serious concerns. Your deliberate counsels will be requisite to invent some remedy for our national imbecility and reproach. Unless effectual and liberal measures are soon taken, our glory and independence will vanish into air. Be entreated Fathers, to lay aside limited views and local prejudices, and to encompass the Union in exertions of your wisdom and patriotism.

THE better to answer the ends of your appointment, you will consider it highly important, in filling up the vacancies in the Legislature, and in constituting a Council for His Excellency, to choose faithful and approved men, who fear God and obey Christ above many, men of noble minds, superior to intrigue, and unfettered by faction, or independent sentiments, who abhor covetous practices, men whose circumstances are not embarrassed, and who will not fear to do the thing which is just, who love the people, and will by personal labors and self-denial, and unwearied diligence, pursue their solid and lasting advantages, and yet disdain by meanness and artifice, and by sacrificing their own judgment, to gain an empty popular applause.

A Legislature thus constituted, and what a respectable number of such amiable and worthy characters do I now behold; such a Legislature, shall in the issue enjoy the blessings of their country, while time serving politicians, shall sink in the dirt of their deserved ignominy: Such a Legislature may hope to have God with them, to prosper the work of their hands. From the faithful discharge of an earthly trust, they shall in their time and order, be received to the plaudit of their final Judge. Such is the reward which we pray that every member of our public administration, in the Executive, Legislative and Judicial department, may now deserve, and in future obtain from the mouth of him, who sits upon the Throne.

MAY we all repent, and do our first works, that God may be in the midst of us. That he may sit in the assembly of our Rulers, is the devout supplication of all, who hope in his mercy, and wish well to this Commonwealth.

BLESSED art thou O land, hen thy King is the Son of nobles, and thy Princes eat in due season. Happy is that people, that is in such a case; yea happy is that people, whose God is the Lord.

Thus with sincerity, and as well as I was able, have I spoken unto you the Lord’s message. May the effectual co-operations of the Blessed Spirit, render the truths which have been delivered, useful to this whole Assembly, and by the consequent fruits may it appear, that in very deed God has been among us. And when we shall severally stand in the great congregation of the assembled universe, by a precious holy life, may we be prepared to be found of our Judge in peace.

AMEN

Sermon – Election – 1779, Massachusetts


Samuel Stillman (1737-1807) was ordained in Charleston, SC in 1759 and later moved to New England. He was one of the first Trustees of Brown University, and was elected to the Federal Convention in 1788. The following election sermon was preached by Rev. Stillman in Boston on May 26, 1779.


A
SERMON
PREACHED BEFORE THE
HONORABLE COUNCIL
AND THE HONORABLE
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
OF THE
STATE
OF
MASSACHUSETTS – BAY
IN NEW–ENGLAND AT BOSTON
MAY 26, 1779
BEING THE ANNIVERSARY FOR THE ELECTION OF THE HONORABLE COUNCIL
By SAMUEL STILLMAN, A.M.
Pastor of the First Baptist Church in Boston
BOSTON, NEW-ENGLAND
Printed by T. and J. FLEET, in Cornhill, and J. GILL, in Court-Street
MDCCLXXIX
State of Massachusetts-Bay,
In the House of Representatives,
May 26, 1779

On motion Ordered, that the Honorable General Warren, Mr. Thaxter and Mr. Davis of Boston, be a Committee to return Thanks of this House to the Rev. Mr. Stillman, for his Sermon delivered this Day before the two Houses, and to request a Copy of the same for the Press.

Extract from the Minutes,
Samuel Freeman, Clerk.

AN ELECTION SERMON
Matt. 22: 21
—Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar, the things that are Caesar’s: and unto God, the things that are God’s.
The Pharisees, who, in appearance, were the strictest religious sect among the Jews, observing the growing reputation of the Son of God, and finding that he had eclipsed their glory, took counsel how they might entangle him in his talk. A conduct this that is repugnant to every principle of genuine religion. But those men, who are determined upon their own aggrandizement, are seldom scrupulous about the means of obtaining it. Hence these ambitious religionists sent out to him their disciples, with the Herodians, men fit for their purpose, saying, in the language of hypocrisy and insult, Master, we know thou art true, and teaches the way of God in truth, neither cares thou for any man: for thou regardest not the person of men. Tell us therefore, what thinkest thou? Is it lawful to give tribute unto Caesar, or not?

The Jews entertained an extreme aversion to the Gentiles, and could not be brought to submit to a heathen magistrate but with great reluctance, and through absolute necessity.

These Pharisees therefore, judging of our blessed Lord by their own sentiments and feelings, supposed that by this question, they should extort something from him derogatory to Caesar’s honor; or that would subject him to an impeachment as an enemy to the Roman government. But he taketh the wise in their own craftiness—Shew me, said he, the tribune money, and they brought him a penny. And he saith unto them, whose is this image and superscription? They say unto him Caesar’s. Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar, the things that are Caesar’s: and unto God the things that are God’s.—upon their being thus defeated in their infamous attempt, they marveled, and went their way to report to their masters their humiliating disappointment: for Christ had said nothing in his reply to them, which Caesar himself would not approve.

It is a matter of very little consequence to us on this occasion, which of the Caesar’s was on the throne at the time referred to in the text; because the duties here inculcated are not affected by this circumstance. The people were taught by Christ to render such obedience to Caesar, or to the civil magistrate, as would be consistent with the natural and the civil rights of men, and the obligations they were under to the eternal God. It is unreasonable to suppose that he meant to inculcate any other subjection than this. Besides, his address is properly guarded. “Render therefore to Caesar, the things that are Caesar’s.” That is, those things which he may lawfully claim. What these were our Lord does not ascertain. Nor is it necessary that we should, as they relate to Caesar and his subjects. I shall therefore proceed to apply this sacred passage to ourselves in our present situation, by considering,

    I. What those duties are which the people owe to the civil magistrate.
    II. The duties of the magistrate to the people. And then,
    III. Endeavor to draw the line between the things that belong to Caesar, and those things that belong to God.

I. We are first to enquire what those duties are which the people owe to the civil magistrate?

I apprehend that this question implies another, which is previously necessary to be determined, viz. How came the men whom we call magistrates, with any power at all over the people? Were they born to govern? Have they a higher original than other men? Or, do they claim the sovereignty jure divino?

The time has been when the divine right of kings founded from the pulpit and the press; and when the sacred name of religion was brought in, to sanctify the most horrid systems of despotism and cruelty.—but blessed be God, we live in a more happy era, in which the great principles of liberty are better understood. With us it is a first and a fundamental principle that God made all men equal.

“Nothing is more evident, says a great writer, than the creatures of the same species and rank, promiscuously born to all the same advantages of nature, and the use of the same faculties, should also be equal one amongst another without subordination or subjection, unless the Lord and master of them all should, by any manifest declaration of his will, set one above another, and confer on him, by an evident and clear appointment, an undoubted right to dominion and sovereignty.”1

Until such a declaration of the divine will shall be produced, we ought firmly to maintain the natural equality of all men.

And as they are equal, so they are likewise in a state of entire freedom. Whatever they possess is their own; to be disposed of solely agreeable to their own will. None have a right to claim any part of their property, to disturb them in their possessions, or demand subjection in any degree whatever, while they act consistent with the law of nature. He who attempts to do either, is a usurper, puts himself into a state of war, and may be opposed as a common highwayman.

If we admit the truth of these principles, we come by an easy transition to the foundation of civil society, viz.: The consent of the people. For if all men are equal by nature, it must depend entirely upon themselves, whether they will continue in their natural condition, or exchange it for a state of civil government. Consequently the sovereignty resides originally in the people.

As their leaving a state of nature for a state of civil society, is a matter of their own choice, so they are equally free to adopt that form of government which appears to them the most eligible, or the best calculated to promote the happiness of themselves and of their posterity.

Which is the best form of civil government? Is a question of the first magnitude to any people; and particularly to us, who have lately considered this weighty matter; and who expect, at some future period, finally to determine it.—May that God by whom all human events are controlled, inspire my fellow-citizens with that wisdom that shall be profitable to direct!

From the premises, the following is a natural conclusion—that the authority of the civil magistrate is, under God, derived from the people.

In order therefore to determine with accuracy, what the powers of the civil magistrate are, and also the duties that the people owe him, we must have recourse to the constitution; by which, in all good governments, the authority of the former, and the rights of the latter are determined with precision.

That it should be so, is a dictate of common sense. For upon a supposition of the contrary, how shall rulers of subjects determine their respective obligations?

From hence arises, in my view, the indispensable necessity of a Bill of Rights, drawn up in the most explicit language, previously to the ratification of a constitution of government; which should contain its fundamental principles. And which no person in the state, however dignified, should dare to violate but at his peril.

As we are at present without a fixed form of government, I shall treat the subject rather according to my wishes, than the present state of things. For the constitution ought at least to have a general existence in idea, before the reciprocal duties of magistrates and people can be ascertained.

Some of those principles which, I apprehend, may be called fundamental, have been mentioned; to which I beg leave to subjoin, that the great end for which men enter into a state of civil society, is their own advantage.

That civil rulers, as they derive their authority from the people, so they are accountable to them for the use they make of it—That elections ought to be free and frequent—That representation should be as equal as possible—That as all men are equal by nature, so when they enter a state of civil government, they are entitled precisely to the same rights and privileges’ or to an equal degree of political happiness–

That some of the natural rights of mankind are unalienable, and subject to no control but that of the Deity. Such are the SACRED RIGHTS of CONSCIENCE. Which in a state of nature, and of civil society are exactly the same. They can neither be parted with nor controlled, by any human authority whatever.

Attempts of this kind have been repeatedly made by an ambitious clergy, assisted by rulers of despotic principles. The consequence of which has been, that crowds of the best members of society have been reduced to this dreadful alternative, either to offend God and violate the dictates of their own minds, or to die at a stake.

That the right of trial by jury ought to be perpetual—That no man’s property can, of right, be taken from him without his consent, given either in person, or by his representative—That no laws are obligatory on the people, but those that have obtained a like consent. Nor are such laws of any force, if, proceeding from a corrupt majority of the legislature, they are incompatible with the fundamental principles of the government, and tend to subvert it.

“All human things have an end, says a sensible writer, the state we are speaking of (meaning Great – Britain) will lose its liberty, will perish. Have not Rome, Sparta and Carthage perished? It will perish when the legislative power shall be more corrupt than the executive.”2

Let us cast our eye to the land of our fathers, to the kingdom from whence we descended, and we shall find that she now totters on the brink of a most dangerous precipice. And that she hath been brought into her present deplorable situation by a venal majority.

Some of that people foresaw their catastrophe approaching with hasty strides; they petitioned and remonstrated. And several excellent things were published in vindication of their constitution and their injured rights: but all was in vain.

The very men who were appointed the guardians and conservators of the rights of the people, have dismembered the Empire; and by repeated acts of injustice and oppression, have forced from the bottom of their parent country, millions of Americans, who might have been drawn by a hair, but were not to be driven by all the thunder of Britain.

A few soft words would have fixed them in her interest, and have turned away that wrath which her cruel conduct had enkindled. The sameness of religion, of language and of manners, together with interest , that powerful motive, and a recollection of kind offices which had long prevailed, would have held America in closest friendship with Great – Britain, had she not “governed too much.”

It can afford the inhabitants of that once happy country, no consolation in their present threatening condition, that it hath been brought on with all the formality of law. Rather this circumstance adds to the calamity, seeing the men who should have saved them, have betrayed them.

Where is now the boasted freedom of the British government? Bribery and corruption seem nearly to have accomplished the prediction of the great Montesquieu. Nor is such an event to be wondered at, while we reflect on the inequality3 of their representation, and the base methods that are used in their elections of members of the House of Commons, together with the length of time they are suffered to continue in their places.

“If they are chosen for a long term, by a part only of the state; and if during that term they are subject to no control from their constituents; the very idea of liberty will be lost, and the power of choosing in constituents becomes nothing but a power lodged in a few, to choose, at certain periods, a body of Masters for themselves and for the rest of the community. And if a state is so sunk that the body of its representatives are elected by a handful of the meanest persons in it, whose votes are always paid for;4 and if also there is a higher will on which even these mock representatives themselves depend, and that directs their voices: In these circumstances, it will be an abuse of language to say that the state possesses liberty.”—this appears to be a just description of the present state of the country, from which we descended.

Such an instance affords us many important lessons; and calls upon us to guard as much as possible, in our beginning, against the corruption of human nature. We should leave nothing to human virtue that can be provided for by law or the constitution. The more we trust in the hands of any man, the more we try his virtue, which, at some fatal hour, may yield to a temptation; and the people discover their error, when it is too late to prevent the mischief.

Upon the truth of the principles advanced, I observe, that the authority of the magistrate is derived from the people by consent—that it is limited and subordinate—and that so long as he exercises the power with which he is vested, according to the original compact, the people owe him reverence, obedience and support.

INSPIRATION teaches us to give honor to whom honor, fear to whom fear.

When any men are taken from the common rank of citizens, and are entrusted with the powers of government, they are by that act ennobled. Their election implies their personal merit, and is a public declaration of it. For it is taken for granted, that the people have been influenced in their choice by worthiness of character, and not by family-connections, or other base motives. They are entitled to a certain degree of respect from their constituents; who, while they pay due reverence, will feel it reflected upon themselves, because they bear their commission. Both interest and duty oblige them to reverence the powers that be. It is their duty in consequence of their own appointment. And their interest, because of the good of the community depends much upon it. For as far as any of the citizens unjustly depreciate the merits of rulers, so far they lessen the energy of government, and put it out of their power to promote the public good.

With reverence to the person of the magistrate, we connect obedience to his authority: Such obedience as is compatible with the principles already laid down. The term government implies this subordination, which is essential to its very existence.

When therefore any persons rise in opposition to such authority, they are guilty of a most daring offence against the State; because, as far as it prevails, it tends to destroy the social compact, and to introduce confusion and every evil work. Consequently,

It is the duty of the people to support the magistrate, in the due execution of the laws, against such, and all other offenders. To choose men to office, and not to support them in the execution of it, it is too great an absurdity, one would think, to find any abettors.

THERE is also a pecuniary support which the magistrate hath a right to receive from his constituents. It is most reasonable that those persons whose time and abilities are devoted to the service of their country, should be amply provided for while they are thus engaged. The compensation should be adequate to the services they render the State. Let it be sufficient, but not redundant.

While speaking of that support which the servants of government are entitled to, I beg leave to mention those brave men of every rank, who compose our army. They have stepped forth in the hour of danger, have exchanged domestic ease and happiness for the hardships of the camp—have repeatedly; and many of them have bled in the cause of their country. Of their importance no man can be ignorant.

With deference to this venerable assembly, I am constrained to observe, that our first attention is due to them; because under God, they have been, now are, and we trust will be our defense. For them let us make the most ample provision, and rest assured of their most vigorous exertions, to defend and save their country.

But, it is time to pass to the

II. CONSIDERATION of the duties of the magistrate to the people.

As a free government is founded in compact, the parties concerned in it are consequently are laid under mutual obligations. These, it hath been said, are determined by the constitution. If so, it follows, that the rulers of the people ought to make themselves thoroughly acquainted with it, together with the different laws of the State. Therefore, they should be men of leisure and abilities, whether they are called to act in a legislative or executive department.

It is taken for granted, that the rulers of the people, will not forget the source of their power, nor the design of their appointment to office—that they have no authority but what they derived from the people: who, from a confidence in them, that reflects great honor on them, have put it into their hands, with this sole view,–that they might thereby promote the good of the community.

Whether this great end is accomplished by the exercise of the authority of civil rulers, the people are to judge; with whom the powers of government originate, and who must know the end for which they entrusted them in the hands of any of their fellow-citizens. This right of judging of their conduct, implies, that it lies with them either to censure or approve it.

These considerations are happily calculated to prevent the abuse of power, which has already happened in repeated instances. And of which there ever will be danger, while mankind remain in their present state of corruption.

A SPIRIT of ambition, which is natural to man, tends to tyranny; and an undue attachment to personal interest, may issue in fraud; or in an accumulation of offices, which in their own nature are incompatible with each other; and which no man, let his abilities be what they may, can discharge with honor to himself, and advantage to his country.

A FAITHFUL ruler will consider himself as a trustee of the public, and that he is accountable both to God and to the people for his behavior in his office. He will therefore be very careful not to involve himself in more public business, than he can perform with fidelity.

It would have a happy tendency to render the duty of the magistrate easy and successful, were he to cultivate an intimate acquaintance, with the genius and tempers of the people over whom he presides. By such an acquisition, if prudent, he would be capable of pursuing a mode of conduct that would not fail of gaining him the affections and confidence of his subjects. The importance of which is self-evident.

He who ruleth over men, says David, must be just ruling in the fear of God. In his exalted station, he should go before the people as an example of every moral virtue; and as a hearty friend of that constitution of government ha hath sworn to protect. To the meanest of the people he should act the part of a political father, by securing to them the full enjoyment of life, liberty and property. To him they are to look that justice is not delayed, nor the laws executed with partiality. But that all those who united in clothing him with the authority of the magistrate, may uninterruptedly enjoy that equal liberty, for the security of which they entered into a state of civil society. Thus will he be as the light of the morning when the sun rises, even a morning without clouds.

There are many things that belong to this part of the subject. Such as: that the people have a right to expect that the honorable their rulers, will by all lawful means in their power encourage agriculture and commerce—endeavor to suppress vice and immorality5 –lend all necessary assistance to our schools and college; it being a matter of high political importance, that knowledge should be diffused through the State, amongst all ranks of men. The propagation of literature is connected with the security of freedom. Ignorance in politics as well as in religion is fatal in its tendency.

These subjects have been often considered with great ability and address, on these anniversaries. Therefore I forebear to enlarge on them, and reserve the remainder of my time for the consideration of a point of peculiar delicacy, and of the greatest importance to the happiness of my country, viz:

III. To attempt to draw the line between the things that belong to Caesar, and those things that belong to God.

To this enquiry I am naturally led by the text. Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s: and unto God the things that are God’s. It is most evident in this passage, that there are some things which Caesar or the magistrate, cannot of right demand, nor the people yield. The address has its limits. To determine what these are was never more necessary to the people of these UNITED STATES, than it is at present. We are engaged in a most important contest; not for powers, but FREEDOM. We mean not to change our masters, but to secure to ourselves, and to generations yet unborn, the perpetual enjoyment of civil and religious liberty, in their fullest extent.

It becomes us therefore to settle this most weighty matter in our different forms of government, in such a manner, that no occasion may be left in the future, for the violation of the all-important rights of conscience.

“I esteem it,” says the justly celebrated Mr. Locke, “above all things, necessary to distinguish exactly the business of civil government from that of religion, and to settle the just bounds that lie between the one and the other. If this be not done, there can be no end put to the controversies that will be always arising between those that have, or at least pretend to have, on the one side, a concernment for the interest of men’s souls, and on the other side, a care of the common wealth.

“The common wealth seems to me to be a society of men constituted only for the procuring, preserving, and advancing their own civil interests.”

“CIVIL interests I call life, liberty and health—and the possession of outward things, such as money, lands, houses, furniture, and the like.”

“Now that the whole jurisdiction of the magistrate reaches only to these civil concernments, and that all civil power, right and dominion, is bounded and confined to the only care of promoting these things; and that it neither cannot ought in any manner to be extended to the salvation of souls, these following considerations seem to me abundantly to demonstrate:”

“First because the care of souls is not committed to the civil magistrate any more than to other men. It is not committed to him, I say, by God, because it appears not that God has ever given any such authority to one man over another, as to compel anyone to his religion. Nor can any such power be vested in the magistrate by the content of the people; because no man can so far abandon the care of his own salvation, as blindly to leave it to the choice of any other, whether prince of subject, to prescribe to him what faith or worship he shall embrace. For no man can, if he would conform his faith to the dictates of another. All the life and power of true religion consists in the inward and full persuasion of the mind; and faith is not faith without believing.”

“In the second place, the care of souls cannot belong to the civil magistrate, because his power consists only in outward force; but true and saving religion consists in the inward persuasion of the mind, without which nothing can be acceptable to God. And such is the nature of the understanding, that it cannot be compelled to anything by outward force.”

“In the third place, the care of the salvation of men’s souls, cannot belong to the civil magistrate; because, though the rigor of laws and the force of penalties were capable to convince and change men’s minds, yet would not that help at all to the salvation of their souls. For, there being but one truth, one way to Heaven; what hope is there that more men would be led into it, if they had no other rule to follow but the religion of the court, and were put under the necessity to quit the light of their own reason, to oppose the dictates of their own consciences, and blindly resign up themselves to the will of their own governors, and to the religion to which either ignorance, ambition or superstition had chanced to establish in the countries where they were born? In the variety and contradiction of opinions in religion, wherein the princes of the world are as much divided as in their secular interests, the narrow way would be much straitened; one country alone would be in the right, and all the rest of the world put under an obligation of following their princes in the ways that led to destruction: and what heights the absurdity, and very ill suits he the notion of a Deity, men would owe their eternal happiness or misery to the places of their nativity.”

“These considerations, to admit many others that might have been urged to the same purpose, seem to me sufficient to conclude that all the power of civil government relates only to men’s civil interests, is confined to the care of the things of this world, and hath nothing to do with the world to come.”6

These sentiments, I humbly conceive, do honor to their author, and discover a true greatness and liberality of mind; and are calculated properly to limit the power of civil rulers, and to secure to every man the inestimable right of private judgment.

They are also perfectly agreeable to a fundamental principle of government, which we universally admit. We say that the power of the civil magistrate is derived from the people. If so, it follows that he can neither have more, nor any other kind of power than they had to give.

The Power which the people commit into the hands of the magistrate is wholly confined to the things of this world. Other power than this they have not. They have not the least authority over the consciences of one another, nor over their own consciences so as to alienate them, or subject them to the control of the civil magistrate in matters of religion, in which every man is personally interested; and concerning which every man ought to be fully persuaded in his own mind, and to follow it’s dictates at all hazards, because he is to account for himself at the judgment seat of Christ.

Seeing then that the people have no power that they can commit into the hands of the magistrate, but that which relates to the good of civil society, it follows that the magistrate can have no other, because he derives his authority from the people. Such as the power of the people is, such must be the power of the magistrate.

To these observations I beg leave to add, that the kingdom of Christ is not of this world. By his kingdom we mean his church, which is altogether spiritual. Its origin, government and preservation are entirely of him, who hath upon his vesture and upon his thigh written, KING OF KINGS, and LORD OF LORDS.

The doctrines that we are to believe, the duties that we are to perform, the officers who are to serve in this kingdom, and the laws by which all the subjects are to be governed, we become acquainted with according to the oracles of God, which are the Christians infallible directory: to which he is bound to yield obedience, at the risqué of his reputation and life.

They who enter into this kingdom do it voluntarily, with a design of promoting their spiritual interests. Civil affairs they resign to the care of the magistrate, but the salvation of their souls they seek in the kingdom of Christ.

This kingdom does not in any respects interfere with civil government; rather tends to promote its peace and happiness, because its subjects are taught to obey magistracy, and to lead peaceable and quiet lives in all godliness and honesty.

The subjects of the kingdom of Christ claim no exemption from the just authority of the magistrate, by virtue of their relation to it. Rather they yield a ready and cheerful obedience, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake. And should any of them violate the laws of the state, they are to be punished as other men.

They exercise no secular power; they inflict no temporal penalties upon the persons of one another. All their punishments are spiritual. Their weapons are not carnal, but mighty through God. They use no other force than that of reason and argument to reclaim delinquents; nor are such persons to be punished for continuing incorrigible, in any other way than by rebuke, or exclusion.

They pretend not to exercise their spiritual authority over any persons, who have not joined themselves to them of their own accord. What have I to do, says Paul, to judge them also who are without? Do ye not judge them who are within?

The subjects of this kingdom are bound by no laws in matters of religion, but such as they receive from Christ, who is the only lawgiver and head of his church. All human laws in this respect are inadmissible, as being necessary, and as implying a gross reflection on our Lord Jesus Christ, as though he was either unable, or unwilling to provide for his own interest in the world. Nor shall he stand by an idle spectator, of the many encroachments that have been made on his sacred prerogative, by the powers of the world.

Should the most dignified civil ruler become a member of his church, or a subject of his spiritual kingdom, he cannot carry the least degree of his civil power into it. In the church he is as any other member of it, entitled to the same spiritual privileges, and bound by the same laws. The authority he has derived from the state can by no means be extended to the kingdom of Christ, because Christ is the only source of that power that is to be exercised in it.

It is readily acknowledged, that the intrinsic excellence and beneficial effects of true religion are such that every man who is favored with the Christian revelation, ought to befriend it. It has the promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come. And there are many ways in which the civil magistrate may encourage religion, in a perfect agreement with the nature of the kingdom of Christ, and the rights of conscience.

As a man he is personally interested in it. His everlasting salvation is at stake. Therefore he should search the scriptures for himself, and follow them wherever they lead him. This right he hath in common with every other citizen.

As the head of a family he should act as a priest in his own house, by endeavoring to bring up his children in the nurture, and admonitions of the Lord.

As a magistrate he should be as a nursing father to the church of Christ, by protecting all the peaceable members of it from injury on account of religion; and by securing to them the uninterrupted enjoyment of equal religious liberty. The authority by which he acts he derives alike from all the people, consequently he should exercise that authority equally for the benefit of all, without any respect to their different religious principles. They have an undoubted right to demand it.

Union in the state is of absolute necessity to its happiness. This the magistrate will study to promote. And this he may reasonably expect upon the plan proposed, of a just and equal treatment of all the citizens.

For although Christians may contend amongst themselves about their religious differences, they will all unite to promote the good of the community, because it is their interest, so long as they all enjoy the blessings of a free, and equal administration of government.

On the other hand, if the magistrate destroys the equality of the subjects of the state on account of religion, he violates a fundamental principle of a free government, establishes separate interests in it, and lays a foundation for disaffection to rulers, and endless quarrels among the people.

Happy are the inhabitants of that common wealth, in which every man sits under his vine and fig tree, having none to make him afraid—in which they are protected, but none established!

Permit me on this occasion to introduce the words of the Rev. Dr. Chauncy, whose age and experience add weight to his sentiments. “We are,” says this gentleman, “in principle against all civil establishments in religion.—we desire not, and suppose we have no right to desire, the interposition of the state to establish our sentiments in religion, or the manner in which we would express them—It does not indeed appear to us, that God has entrusted the state with a right to make religious establishments.” And after observing, that if one state has this right, all states have the same right, he adds, “And as they must severally be supposed to exert this authority in establishments conformable to their own sentiments in religion; what can the consequence be, but infinite damage to the cause of God and true religion? And such in fact has been the consequence of these establishments in all ages, and in all places. What absurdities in sentiment, and ridiculous follies, not to say gross immoralities, in practice, have not been established by the civil power in some or other of the nations of the world?7

To which I take the liberty to add the following passage of a very ingenious author.8“The moment any religion becomes national, or established, its purity must certainly be lost, because it is impossible to keep it unconnected with men’s interests; and if connected, it must inevitably be perverted by them.—Again, that very order of men, who are maintained to support its interests, will sacrifice them to their own.—By degrees knaves will join them, fools believe them, and cowards be afraid of them; and having gained so considerable a part of the world to their interests, they will erect an independent dominion among themselves, dangerous to the liberties of mankind; and representing all those who oppose their tyranny, as God’s enemies, teach it to be meritorious in his fight to persecute them in this world, and damn them in another. Hence must arise Hierarchies, Inquisitions and Popery; for popery is but the consummation of that tyranny which every religious system in the hands of men is in perpetual pursuit of.”

It is well known to this respectable assembly that Christianity flourished remarkably for the space of three hundred years after he ascension of Christ, amidst the hottest and most bloody persecutions, and when the powers of the world were against it; and began to decline immediately upon its being made a legal establishment by Constantine, the first Christian emperor, who heaped upon it his ill-judged favors, and introduced a train of evils which he had not designed.

The preachers of this divine religion were no sooner taken into the favor of the prince, and their sentiments established by law, than they began to quarrel who should be the greatest; and anathematized one another.—Everyman who has read the history of the four first general councils, is fully satisfied of the truth of these remarks.

Seeing then, Christianity made its way in the beginning, when the powers of the world were against it, let us cheerfully leave it to the force of its own evidence, and to the care of its adorable author; while we strictly attend to all those means, which he hath instituted for the propagation of it. The ministers of Christ are particularly called upon to preach the word, to be instant in season, out of season, to teach the people publicly, and from house to house; always encouraging themselves with that gracious promise, Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.

Upon the whole, I think it is plain, as well as a very important truth, that the church of Christ and a common-wealth are essentially different. The one is a religious society, of which Christ is the sole head, and which he gathers out of the world, in common, by the dispensation of his gospel, governs by his laws in all matters of religion, a complete code of which we have in the sacred scriptures; and preserves it by his power.

The other is civil society, originating with the people, and designed to promote their temporal interests: Which is governed by men, whose authority is derived from their fellow-citizens, and confined to the affairs of this world.

In this view of the matter, the line appears to be fairly drawn, between the things that belong to Caesar, and the things that belong to God. The magistrate is to govern the state, and Christ to govern the church. The former will find business enough in the complex affairs of government, to employ all his time and abilities. The latter is infinitely sufficient to manage his own kingdom without foreign aid.

Thus have I considered the important principles of civil and religious liberty, according to that ability which God hath given; and with a freedom that becomes a citizen, when called upon, at a most critical period, to address the Rulers of a free people: whose patriotic minds, it is taken for granted, would at once despise the language of adulation.

In order to complete a system of government, and to be consistent with ourselves, it appears to me that we ought to banish from among us that cruel practice, which has long prevailed, of reducing to a state of slavery for life, the free-born Africans.9

The Deity hath bestowed upon them and us the same natural rights as men; and hath assigned to them apart of the globe for their residence. But mankind, urged by those passions which debase the human mind, have pursued them to their native country; and by fomenting wars among them, that they might secure the prisoners, or employing villains to decoy the unwary, have filled their ships with the unfortunate captives; dragged them from their tenderest connections, and transported them to different parts of the earth, to be hewers of wood, and drawers of water, till death shall end their painful captivity.

To reconcile this nefarious traffic with reason, humanity, religion, or the principles of a free government, in my view, requires an uncommon address.

Should we make the case our own, and act agreeable to that excellent rule of our blessed Lord, whatever ye would that men should do to you, do ye to them likewise, the abolition of this disgraceful practice would take place.

Nor can I conceive that we shall act a consistent part, till we brand this species of tyranny with perpetual infamy. Shall we hold the sword in one hand to defend our just rights as men; and grasp chains with the other to enslave the inhabitants of Africa? Forbid it heaven!—Forbid it all the free-born sons of this western world!–

May the year of jubilee soon arrive, when Africa shall cast a look of gratitude to these happy regions, for the TOTAL EMANCIPATION of HER SONS!–

This matter, among others, deserves the serious attention of our Honorable rulers, in whom their fellow-citizens have reposed uncommon confidence, which is apparent in calling them forth to public service at such a difficult period as this; which undoubtedly calls for the united exertions of the greatest abilities.

The voice of the people is, as mentioned before, and the importance of the matter justifies the repetition of it; I say, the voice of the people is, that government should pay their first attention to war. If we should, it may prove greatly injurious to the freedom and glory of the RISING EMPIRE.

But it is not for me to attempt to specify the weighty affairs, which during the course of the present year, and particularly of the present session, are likely to come before the Honorable Gentlemen, who have this day called us to the place of public worship. God grant unto them that wisdom that is from above!

While transacting public business, may they remember that Jehovah standeth in the congregation of the mighty; and judgeth among the gods. Under the influence of this solemn consideration, may the elections of this day be conducted. This being the case, every elector, before he gives his vote for any person to sit in Council, will take pains to satisfy himself, whether he possesses the qualifications that are necessary for so exalted a station: Such as wisdom, virtue, firmness, and an unfeigned love of his country. Tried friends deserve the preference: An experience of whose capacity and fidelity in times past, recommends them as worthy of present confidence.

To the direction of unerring wisdom we commit both branches of the Honorable Court; heartily wishing that they may conduct themselves in every respect, as those who are to be accountable to God the judge of all. Thus will they enjoy the testimony of conscience, and may expect to be accepted of the multitude of their brethren.

In fine, seeing the body of Christians, however divided into sects and parties, “are entitled precisely to the same rights,” it becomes them to rest contented with that equal condition, nor to wish for pre-eminence. Rather they should rejoice to see all men as free, and as happy as themselves.

They should study to imbibe more of the spirit of their divine Master, to love as brethren, and to preserve the unity of the spirit in the bonds of peace. In the present state of ignorance and prejudice they cannot expect to see eye to eye. There will be a variety of opinions and modes of worship among the disciples of the same Lord; men equally honest, pious, and sensible, while they remain in this world of imperfection. Let them therefore be faithful to their respective principles, and kind and forbearing towards one another. Their chief study should be to advance the cause of morality and religion in the world; and by their good works to glorify their father who is in heaven.

They are subject to the civil magistrate, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake; and to pray for all who are in authority, that under them they may lead a quiet and peaceable life in godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God. To whom be glory forever.


1 Locke.
2 Montesquieu.
3 In Great-Britain, consisting of near six million inhabitants, 5723 persons, most of them of the lowest of the people, elect one half of the House of commons; and 364 votes choose a ninth part. This may be seen distinctly made out in the Political Disquisitions, Vol.1. Book 2. Ch. 4—Dr. Price.
4 They who buy their places will sell the people, for they mean to make something by the bargain.
5 Had this sentence been duly attended to at the time the sermon was delivered, the following objection, which some of my friends have made, viz. “That upon the principles contained in the sermon, the civil magistrate ought not to exercise his authority to suppress acts of immorality;” I say, had what is said above been properly observed, this objection had been superseded. Immoral actions properly come under the cognizance of civil rulers, who are the guardians of the peace of society. But then I beg leave to observe in the words of bishop Warburton,” That the magistrate punishes no bad actions, as sins or offences against God, but only as crimes injurious to, or having a malignant influence in society.” In this view of the matter he keeps within the line of his own department.
6 Locke on Toleration, P.35, 36, 37.
7 Appeal to the public answered, P. 152, 153.
8 Free inquiry into the nature and origin of evil.
9 Congress early in the controversy with Great-Britain, protested against the slave-trade in the following resolve:
Secondly. We will neither import nor purchase any slaves imported after the first day of December next; and will neither be concerned in it ourselves, nor will we hire our vessels, nor sell our commodities or manufactures to those who are concerned in it.

Sermon – Election – 1812, Vermont

 

sermon-election-1812-vermontIsaac Beall was born in 1751. In 1801, he rose to the pastorship of the First Baptist Church in Pawlet, Vermont, after serving for ten years as an elder. Beall pastored the church for thirty years until its dissolution in 1831 – he died in 1833. In this election sermon preached before the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and Legislature, Pastor Beall uses Proverbs 29:2 as his principle text. He emphasizes the critical importance of selecting righteous rulers with which to entrust the power of civil government; and defines “righteous” in this context as men of natural ability, sound judgment, good hearts, well-instructed minds, integrity and prudence. He adds that laws must be righteous, mild, and few, and there must be a “sacred regard to the original principles” the government was founded upon. Beall also mentions that not only must rulers be virtuous but so must the great body of the people because “a virtuous people cannot be enslaved.” He concludes by directly addressing Vermont’s elected officials, challenging them to “make righteousness the basis” of their public service.


A
Sermon
Delivered Before
His Excellency Jonas Galusha, Esq.
Governor;
His Honor Paul Brigham, Esq.
Lieut. Governor,
The Honorable Council,
and
The House of Representatives,
of the
State of Vermont,
at
Montpelier,
on the
Day of General Election,
Oct. 8,1812

By Isaac Beall, Pastor of the Baptist Church of Christ in Pawlet.

Proverbs 29:2
When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice: but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn.

Civil government is one of those blessing which a kind of God has seen fit to bestow upon the lapsed family of Adam. In this present imperfect state, a people could not long remain happy, without a civil government: to remain in such a state of anarchy would be to remain in a state of perpetual war. To prevent such a dire calamity, God instituted this ordinance. Rom. 13.

But as important as civil government is to the happiness of man; yet, like all other gifts of providence its blessing can never be enjoyed, but through a just and wise administration. God has ordained summer and winter, seedtime and harvest; but should we neglect our relative duties, we should neither be fed nor clothed.

Though God has ordained civil government for the good of man, he has not instituted any particular mode or form of government; but this he has left to human wisdom, according to the different circumstances, customs and habits of different nations.

A good and well-adapted constitution is to be preferred; nevertheless, a defective constitution, wisely administered, would be productive of greater good to the community, than a good constitution in the hands of unrighteous administrators.

There may be such ignorance, neglect of injustice in the rulers on the one hand; and such want of attention and submission (not to say opposition) among the ruled on the other hand, as to render civil government rather a curse than a blessing.

That civil power and authority might be vested in such men, under whose administration the people might be rendered happy, seems to be the leading idea in the passage read for consideration.

In adverting to this subject, I shall endeavor to give a short description of those rulers, under whose administration the people rejoice. Secondly, reverse the subject. Thirdly, a short improvement of the whole. Then close with customary addresses.

Agreeably to the proposed method, our attention is called,

I. To the character of those rulers, under whose administration will rejoice.

Righteousness is the only qualification of a civil ruler mentioned by the inspired penman in our text. There are some who strenuously contend that a person must be made righteous by the imputation of the righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ; or which is the same thing, he must be possessed of Christianity, or he is not suitably qualified for civil office. Should this be granted, in order to be confident, another thing must be granted (viz.) that is the only necessary qualification: for when the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice. That religion would be of great utility to a civil ruler will be granted; but that this is the only, or even an essential qualification, cannot be so easily admitted. For according to this sentiment, any man giving good evidence that he is a Christian, however weak his intellect, might with safety be elected governor of the state or president of the nation. A sentiment so weak and glaringly inconsistent as to need no refutation.

It remains therefore, to be ascertained what that righteousness is which is a characteristic of a good ruler.

As civil government is alluded to in the text, it is just and reasonable to conclude that the righteousness there spoken of is a political righteousness, that is, a righteous administration of the government with which they are entrusted. To which several things are necessary. As

1. They must be men of good natural abilities, men of penetrating mind and sound judgment. For should there be a defect in their intellect (however otherwise qualified) they would never be able to look through the intricate affairs of state; or attain to a consistent scheme of administration, which the good and safety of the public calls for. Therefore, men of weak minds should never be chosen into office by the freemen; and in case of election, they ought not to accept: for though they may be men who possess honest dispositions of mind, yet the great affairs of state, exceeding their natural abilities, renders it utterly impossible for them to administer the government in righteousness. In such a case, it would be more honorable in a man to decline, than to accept of a place in civil government.

2. In order to a righteous administration of government, rulers must not only have good heads, but they must have good hearts. They should possess a large portion of philanthropy, an ardent love for their people. Love is the mainspring of every interchange of kind offices among men. In no case has this divine principle a more efficacious operation than when a ruler’s heart is inspired with a paternal affection towards his subjects. To be the father of his people is the magistrate’s dignity. This constitutes his nearest conformity to our universal Parent. This will stimulate rulers to pursue the common happiness under the greatest difficulties and most pressing trials. It was this that animated a Moses, inspired a David, and fortified a Nehemiah under the most alarming trials, perplexities, and dangers, while managing the great affairs of state. And this will give energy to the exertions of our rulers for the prosperity and happiness of their brethren; and make them esteem the most assiduous painful labors but reasonable and pleasant services for the public good. That they may administer in righteousness, civil rulers must possess a kind and benevolent affection for their people.

3. In order to a righteous administration, rulers must be men of knowledge. Ignorant and uninformed statesmen, however strong their heads or affectionate their hearts, can do but very little for the good and happiness of the community. Their limited views will create local prejudices and subject them to the artifices of interested politicians. While part of the community take undue advantages of their ignorant mismanagement of the affairs of state, the body languished and dwindles away for want of counsel and energy in their administration. It is a matter of great importance that rulers become acquainted with the tempers, capacities, views and interests of the citizens in every part of the government by confining their labors to a small circle; and by losing the services of the best qualified men in the state. What is more preposterous than for rulers to exert their authority and influence for the partial interest of the territory in their own vicinity and to make the interest of one party in the community give way to the avarice and ambition of another party. Rulers should have enlarged hearts and well instructed minds, capable of comprehending the characters and interests of the citizens; and with a generous impartiality to seek the good of the whole.

But this is not all the knowledge which is necessary and essential to a righteous and faithful ruler.

But, 4thly they must be well instructed in the political maxims and laws of the state in which they are to govern. The safety of a republic depends much upon a sacred regard to the original principles of their government. When those principles are disregarded, every right and privilege is endangered; and the administration degenerates into tyranny and oppression. It was a peculiar qualification in Solomon for civil government that God gave him a wise and understanding heart. Rulers should understand the system of laws and those forms of administration to which the people are accustomed; and conform themselves to the original principles of their government: this will form such a line of conduct in their administration, that the people may know what to expect from them. Thus, by wisdom and understanding the government is established, the expectations of this community answered, and their hearts made to rejoice.

5thly in order to a good administration of government, rulers must be controlled in all their measures, by truth and integrity. For wisdom without integrity will soon degenerate into cunning and artifice; by which the interest of the community will fall to prey to those who should be their protectors. A magistrate devoid of truth and sincerity is the snare and perdition of his subjects. All power, therefore, should be founded in truth, both in the attainment and exercise of it. The lip of truth shall be established forever: but a lying tongue is but for a moment. Excellent speech becometh not a fool, much less do lying lips a prince.

An administration founded in truth and righteousness will bear the test of scrutiny and prove advantageous in the end: while the duplicity of deceitful politicians will involve both rulers and ruled in perplexity and general ruin. All leading men ought to adopt righteous measures and prosecute them with simple uniformity and honest sincerity. It should be the first object of them who rule over men, to be just, to be true in their administration; not having a mysterious system of delusion, to deceive others into their fraudulent intentions.

In order to gain the confidence of the people and cause them to rejoice in their administration, rulers must be men upon whom they may safely depend. Without this confidence, subjects can derive very little happiness or advantage from civil government.

6thly Prudence is another trait in the character of a righteous ruler: necessary at all times; but of infinite importance in our present circumstances. Knowing that a kingdom divided against itself cannot stand, their councils will be pacific and their measures conciliatory, being the most likely way to preserve and cement the general union. The advice of Joseph to his brethren, is very suitable at this time, and claims the particular attention of those who are at the head of our public affairs: see that ye fall not out by the way. Happy would it be for the community should their rulers, supreme and subordinate, be directed by the maxims of prudence and discretion in the things of our political peace.

The light of nature and scripture condemn such a confidence in God, and hinders the prudent and industrious use of means for safety. At the same time, the success of the most opposite means and best-concerted measures always supposes the divine concurrence. Jehovah has all times and all hearts in his hand, and can so influence our public councils as to strengthen and perpetuate the union, even as he bowed the hearts of all the men of Judah to David, as the heart of one man.

As in a good constitution of government there is no absolute power but that of the laws, a reverential regard to the divine approbation will have a mighty influence in making and execution such as are prudent and salutary. The great ruler of the universe has not imposed his laws upon men, merely as a test of their obedience; but as lessons to prevent their ruin and teach them how to be happy. A model which eternalizes the benignity of those human laws which are suggested by preventive prudence: a standard of benevolence from which subordinate legislators should never deviate. Acting in character as the ministers of God, for good to the people, they will esteem it more eligible to prevent crimes than to punish them.

It being the great end of government to secure the civil happiness of the community, it is necessary and proper that the laws by which they consent to be governed should be as few, clear, and easy in their application as possible. For laws when needlessly multiplied become a vexatious and intolerable burden.

The laws of Jehovah being a transcript of perfect rectitude, there can be no reasonable objection raised against their being executed. In like manner, human laws ought to be as righteous and mild as to interest the community in their punctual execution, and in no instance fail of being enforced. It is necessary to civil happiness that government be supported and respected. But this will not be the case if good laws are evaded with impunity. What has a greater tendency to weaken the authority of a state than to continue laws in existence, which the powers that be cannot or care not to execute? The scripture character of rulers is that they are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Power is grossly abused and perverted when wicked citizens are fostered and protected by authority. God has ordained rulers to avenge the wrongs of injustice and oppression, and the violation of sedition and rebellion. No favor or friendship, no relation or connection with men in power, should secure the wicked from punishment. Righteous magistrates will, by the sword of justice, suppress immorality and every transgression of relative justice. God commands it, and faithful subjects have a claim upon their rulers to be protected from fraud and oppression: to have the laws executed, their persons their liberty, and their property protected from the depredations of lawless and unprincipled men.

Such an administration as this would afford abundant matter of rejoicing among the citizens, as it would protect their persons and property, secure their rights and privileges; and would render them formidable to the nations of the earth.

Having thus described those righteous rulers, both as it respects their qualifications and administrations, which are calculated to lead the community to happiness; I proceed

II. To contrast the subject.

If people have reason to rejoice when they receive a just, righteous, and prudent administration from the hands of their rulers, by which their independence, rights, persons, property and character and secured; they cannot forbear to mourn and weep when they observe in their rulers a reverse of this excellent character.

Nothing occasions more grief to a people than to find their rulers so devoid of all sense of justice, equity and prudence, as to frame the most pernicious laws, which in their operation have been productive of infinite mischiefs and the people enjoined under severe penalties to enforce them; and which, with tolerable discernment, might have been easily foreseen. Should, therefore, a people have the extreme misfortune to have rulers of such a description, they could expect nothing from them but such an administration as would be the occasion of perpetual sorrow and mourning as long as it should continue.

And hence originates that dishonor and contempt in which the rulers of a people are sometimes holden by their subjects. When a people despise their magistrates, contemn their government, profane the ordinance of God, and insult the ministers of state, we are ready to consider that sometimes such conduct may be the effect ignorance or unrighteousness in the administrators. That rulers should frame laws notoriously unjust, deprive good citizens of their just rights, and subject them to severe penalties, for no cause but to gratify their own evil passions, is such a direct violation of the law of God and rights of men as must fill every sensible heart with grief and horror.

The people have equal cause to mourn when ignorant and unrighteous men are preferred by their rulers and distinguished by their special favors. In times of such degeneracy, wicked and designing men obtain promotion; and sometimes such persons are entrusted with the more important concerns of the public who never possessed ability and economy enough to manage their own. Hence the public are deprived of the abilities of such who are persons of the best understanding and judgment. When the wicked are exalted, the righteous are hidden. Flatterers and parasites are the men who find favor with a wicked administration; but such as are just and honest, are slighted and rejected. Those who are lost to all sense of virtue, duty or moral obligation, will use their power to the worst of purposes, and thereby debase their characters in the estimation of the people who feel themselves truly miserable under their oppressive administration. They cannot but mourn when they anticipate the event of such unrighteous measures, and the sad consequences which must be produced.

But why need I consume time in attempting to prove that which is self-evident?

I have finished my doctrinal observations: and hasten to some practical reflection. As I have in the former, so in this part of the discourse, I wish to speak with that unfettered freedom, which becomes a servant of God.

From our subject collectively, we learn first that the rights and privileges, the liberty and happiness; yea, and the lives also, of the great body of the people, are, under God, entrusted in the hands of their rulers. A weighty charge!

As a stimulus to the important, I had almost said, infinite trust reposed in them, rulers should constantly call to mind their own mortality and accountability to that God whose ministers they are.

I have said ye are gods; and all of you are children of the Most High. But ye shall die like men. Like all other men, they shall descend to the grave, the house appointed for all the living. To death, succeeds their solemn account at the tribunal of Jesus Christ, who is appointed the decisive judge of all men: before his impartial judgment seat, the rulers and judges of the earth will stand upon a level with their meanest subjects. In that solemn moment, when the opinions of men will be lighter than vanity, the flattering tongue shall be put to everlasting silence, when judgment shall be administered without respect of persons, the inquiry will not be whether they have been rulers and judges in the earth and exercised authority over the sons of the dust; but whether they have filled their stations, kept in view their last account, and prepared matters for their acquittal in that solemn trial: in order to this, it will not be sufficient merely to plead that they have been righteous in their administration of civil government; but that they also, by faith, have become interested in the justifying righteousness of the Son of God.

Were this day of retribution, which will soon commence, duly considered by magistrates, how could they fail to discharge with diligence and care, their sacred trust; and to be in earnest to become ministers of God, for good to the people? And how could they be willing to remain ignorant of the religion of Jesus Christ; which could afford them so much assistance in the faithful discharging the duties of their office; and the only thing by which they can be acquitted when they stand before their final judge?

2. That as a faithful discharge of that trust which is reposed in civil rulers is the just due of the citizens; even so all good fidelity and reasonable subjection is due from the people to their rulers. This is the requirement of God, let every soul be subject unto the higher powers: for the powers that be are ordained of God. Whoever, therefore, resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates. Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake; whether it be to the king as supreme; or unto governors, as unto them who are sent by him for the punishment of evil doers, and for the praise of them who do well. For so is the will of God, that with well doing, ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men. If such submission is required to a kingly government, how much to a republican government?

The obedience we owe to magistrates essentially differs from the obedience we owe to God. Our obedience to God ought to be free and implicit; resulting from a sense of the rectitude of his precepts. But such obedience to human laws is not always required; for sometimes we may doubt of the fitness, yea, of the equity of them. For considering civil rulers as imperfect, and liable to err, though it be highly proper and necessary, considering ourselves members of society, that we conform our actions to their laws; yet it is not always our duty to believe that their laws are most salutary, because human laws may sometimes be otherwise. But our social obligations require us to be subject to laws, which we think very inconvenient, provided they are not sinful in themselves. It were happy if subjects would not employ themselves too much in disputing the policy and prudence of their rulers and the propriety of their laws: He who is ever ready on all occasions to impeach the conduct of rulers, and reproach their administration, and dispute the wisdom and propriety of their laws, obstructs their usefulness, weakens their influence, and doeth all in his power to bring government into contempt and to plunge the state into confusion and disorder: and thereby expose himself to the just resentment of that God, whose ministers they are.

Civil government is of divine institution: and our minds are impressed at first view with the necessity of it. Every one must feel and acknowledge the propriety and utility of that subordination in society which is required in the divine constitution.

Subjection to laws being the first duty of every citizen, it ought and will be cheerfully yielded by every good subject, though in some cases it may be thought that the laws are not the best calculated for the interest of the community. Every individual cannot be thought to be able to determine with certainty on a subject of such importance. But it must be his duty to preserve in his obedience till either the rulers are convinced that their measures ought to be changed; or the citizens in a constitutional way shall change the administrators. May I be indulged here just to observe that it is possible for the people to have such an undue influence even upon righteous rulers as to procure such measures as would prove very mischievous in their operation. But this ought not to be palmed upon our rulers; but we ought in such cases to act the part of honest men, reprobate our own conduct, and in future keep within our own province. There is not a greater evil which can befall a community than to be divided into sects and parties respecting their civil policy. The consequences (if continued in) are fatal to our civil rights and privileges, our peace and independence; and it is this which causes our present situation to wear such a gloomy and threatening aspect!

May I be indulged in intruding on your patience just to add that virtue and integrity in the great body of the people are as necessary to our political happiness and prosperity as it is in those in authority. Whenever we are tempted to complain and to entertain jealousies, lest our rulers should enslave us, destroy our liberties and happiness, let us console ourselves with this idea that a virtuous people cannot be enslaved; and that it would be utterly impossible for rulers to involve the community in any great difficulty should there not be a large portion on unrighteous and evil men to aid them in their base and evil designs: and should a people be so lost to all sense of virtue and interest, and so regardless of their obligations to God, and each other, as to willfully expose themselves to such fatal evils, the folly would be their own.

That our rulers may be ministers of God to us for good, it is our duty to implore the presence of God with them, his spirit to aid and assist them; and his blessing to crown their administration with success: and on our part to demean ourselves as good subjects; and remove all the embarrassments which may render it very difficult, it not totally impossible, for them to manage the great affairs of government in equal justice.

Happy America. If those who govern are inspired with wisdom and benevolence, prudence and integrity for the public safety: and the governed, with worthy and good affections, for the civil and religious institutions of their country: we shall then unite in pursuing the things of our peace: society will be improved, our understandings will be enlarged, our morals refined, and the interests of time, will not interfere with those of eternity. Happy is that people that is in such a case: yea, happy is that people, whose God is the Lord.

It is time that I hasten to a conclusion in suitable addresses. Our first attention is due to our worthy chief magistrate, called of God and the people to the chair of government.

May it please your Excellency, — God in his wise providence hath conferred a signal honor upon you, in repeatedly placing you in the highest seat of government, and entrusting you with so important a part of the management of our public concerns. It cannot, honored sir, but excite in your breast the most pleasing emotion of mind to find your character thus revered and your person holden in such a high estimation by so numerous and respectable a people as compose this state; and to see the evidence which it exhibits that your former administration has been, in some measure, agreeable to that mentioned on our text, which is a source of general joy.

With pleasing anticipation, we behold your excellency, God’s minister for good, bearing the sword of the state, not as a terror to good works, but to the evil. Our eye with delight marks your path, while you lead us your children into the duties of relative and Christian life: and by your example teach us that self-denial, frugality and industry so essential to the happiness of a free people. And however gloomy and difficult the day in which you preside, your administration, being of the description above, you may look for and expect all needed aid from him by whom kings reign and princes decree justice. An uncommon degree of knowledge, prudence and wisdom in a governor is necessary in such an important critical day as the present; to steer the helm of government with discretion, reconcile contending parties, and protecting the rights and privileges of the people, and giving satisfaction to the citizens. Our expectations from your excellency are that liberty shall be maintained by law and all citizens be secure in their possessions: that public faith and dignity be preserved. May the institutions of literature flourish under your friendly patronage; especially may the illustrious university of Vermont be the object of your peculiar care and by your salutary influence be protected in all it’s important rights and immunities.

As your excellency’s character stands high in the estimation of this people, it gives you a great advantage and should be no less a motive with you to study and invariably pursue their best interest. In seeking the common good and welfare of your people, you will secure your interest in their affections and live in their hearts: which must afford the highest satisfaction to a righteous magistrate. We hope in the goodness of the universal Parent, that by affording you his presence and grace, he will show that because he loved this people He hath therefore appointed you to rule over them.

May the angel of divine presence enlighten and beautify the paths of your administration. In your days, religion, truth and peace dwell on the earth: and when filled with days, and replete with grace, you shall be discharged from further services here, that you may share the glories of the heavenly world will be the unceasing prayers of the righteous and the good.

Our respects are now due to his honor the lieutenant governor, the honorable council and house of representatives.

Fathers of our state and elders of our tribes, –The sovereign powers of this state vested in you by the united voice of the freemen, give high importance to your character and entitle you to their respect and confidence. And that you may not disappoint their most sanguine expectations, you will make righteousness the basis of your administration and rule of all your proceedings.

We do not ask you to assign us articles of Christian faith, to establish religion by law, enact statutes for the collection of our salaries, or to become the bulwark of the religion we profess; but that you maintain the laws of the state and the sacred principles of our excellent constitution: a constitution which will prove a bulwark of our independence and sovereignty, a sure protection of all good citizens; the security of freedom, property and life; and a defense against the rude encroachments of anarchy and despotism. May a kind God influence you in to a system of administration which shall defend our constitution, render venerable our laws, protect from violence the seats of justice, and the thrones of judgment.

Our national concerns as a confederated republic are serious concerns. Unless some speedy and effectual measures are invented and pursued, ICHABOD will be written upon our nation. Be entreated, venerable fathers, to lay aside limited views and local prejudices and encompass the Union in the exertions of your patriotism. A considerable advantage may be obtained toward answering the end of you appointment,by electing such men into office (which comes within your province) as are men fearing God, men of virtuous minds, superior to intrigues, whose circumstances are not embarrassed, and who love the people and will perseveringly seek their happiness.

A legislature thus constituted, and what a large number of such worthy characters do I now behold! Such a legislature will rejoice the hearts of their citizens, and shall, in the issue, enjoy the blessings of their country while wicked politicians shall sink into their deserved ignominy.

However, respected fathers, it is not my province to dictate to you any measure of a civil or political nature; your wisdom and good sense do not require this of me. We being sensible that your work is difficult, and that you have an arduous task, to cure all the disorders of the political body, restore harmony and peace, and to unite the jarring interests of parties, and fix them to one common center, do heartily commend you to God who is able to furnish you with all needed wisdom and prudence.

Respected rulers, you cannot be insensible that He who has dignified you above your brethren, has limited your powers by his holy word. You are not authorized to obey the dictates of an arbitrary will; but to act agreeably to the revealed will of God. Look then on the copy which is before you: and as God’s vicegerents on earth, take you directions from his work and imbibe his spirit: acknowledge him in all your ways, and he will direct your paths. And as a reward for your services, may you be honored as the political saviors of this people, and meet their cordial approbation; And from the faithful discharge of an earthly trust, may you in due time be received into the joy of your Lord, with a well done good and faithful servants. Such is the reward, which we pray, every member of our public administration may now deserve and in future obtain from the Judge of all.

Will this grave and venerable audience indulge me a few words in a general address,–

Respected brethren and fellow citizens, — Distinguishing have been the favors of Divine Providence, by which we have become a great and established nation: but little inferior to those by which Israel of old were brought from bondage in Egypt and planted in the fat land of Palestine. Surprising, I had almost said miraculous, has been the chain of events which has marked our emancipation from the iron yoke of bondage and oppression, and raised us to the important rank of power and independence among the nations of the earth: established us under a federal constitution and republican form of government: we sit in the assemblies of our rulers; rulers of our own election, and judges appointed from among our brethren. Under such a government, we enjoy all necessary freedom and liberty, rights and privileges, both civil and religious.

But though civil liberty and freedom are so desirable blessings; and though it is our duty in all lawful ways to strive to support and maintain them, yet it is of infinitely greater importance that we should be delivered, by God’s special grace, from the bondage of guilt and the slavery of sin and satan, and called effectually to the spiritual freedom of the children of God. Little reason shall we have to boast of liberty and freedom, or to bless ourselves on the account of our external privileges, if we are the ignominious servants of corruption. This spiritual liberty Christ hath obtained for all his true disciples; and it can no otherwise be enjoyed by any of us, than by taking his yoke upon us, and learning of him; and continuing in his word. Then shall we know the truth, and the truth shall make us free indeed. It is the true Christian alone who is the Lord’s freeman and a citizen of the New-Jerusalem. An honor and privilege to which we cannot maintain our claim unless we realize our profession of Christianity by serving the Lord Christ with all good fidelity and serve one another in love. Be this the object of our greatest care and attention: we may then with hope and earnest expectation wait for the day of our complete redemption. At length the grand jubilee will be proclaimed by the archangel’s trumpet, which will call the heirs of God to the perfect liberty of his everlasting kingdom and glory, and to that inheritance which is incorruptible and that fadeth not away.

To this exalted felicity, God grant, that we may all be brought in due time, through Jesus Christ our Lord. AMEN.

Sermon – Election – 1812, New Hampshire


This election sermon was preached by Rev. Moses Bradford in New Hampshire on June 4, 1812.


sermon-election-1812-new-hampshire

A

SERMON,

DELIVERED AT CONCORD,

BEFORE

HIS EXCELLENCY THE GOVERNOR,

THE HONORABLE COUNCIL,

AND BOTH

BRANCHES OF THE LEGISLATURE

OF THE

STATE OF NEW HAMPSHIRE,

JUNE 4TH, A. D. 1812.

BY MOSES BRADFORD, A. M.
PASTOR OF THE CHURCH IN FRANCESTOWN.

STATE OF NEW HAMPSHIRE.

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
JUNE 4, 1812.

VOTED, That Messrs, Folsom, Pickering, and Johnson, with such as the Senate may appoint, be a Committee to wait on the Rev. Mr. BRADFORD, and present him with the thanks of the Legislature for his ingenious Discourse delivered before His Excellency the Governor, the Honorable Council, and both branches of the Legislature, and request a copy for the press.

Sent up for concurrence.
CLEMENT STORER, Speaker.

IN SENATE….the same day.
READ and concurred. Mr. Ham joined.
H. B. CHASE, Clerk.

 

ELECTION SERMON.

1 TIMOTHY i, 15.

This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ
Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.

THE soul of man is immortal. It is a candidate for eternal happiness, or endless misery. The loss of final happiness must be the greatest evil man can sustain. The attainment of perpetual felicity must be the greatest good man can enjoy. Holiness leads to the latter, and sin to the former. The sinner may ruin, but cannot save himself. Human invention has devised various plans to avoid final evil, and to obtain final good. But these plans have not been more amusing, than delusive. Paganism early possessed a considerable portion of mankind, has had its devotees in all ages, and still holds its empire over the minds of the largest part of the inhabitants of our globe. The Jews, as a nation, have long since rejected Christ, and still persevere in their rejection of Christianity. The Mohammedan and papal delusions, (those horrid defections from pure Christianity) the one in the East, the other in the West, have attracted the attention and engaged the affections of an immense number of mankind, for a long series of ages; and their influence still continues to affect a large mass of the race of man. Ancient Deism and more modern Catholicism, and even Atheism, have, in their turn, suggested their several expedients, to quiet the consciences and to sooth the minds of men respecting their final state. But, of these things, we may say, (to use the language of Job,) “Miserable comforters are ye all.” The Pagan knows not Christ. The Jew denies that Jesus is the Christ. The Mohammedan prefers his prophet to Him. The papist mixes his religion with numberless superstitions of human origin. The Deist laughs at all Revelation, Old or New, and substitutes his reason in its place. The admirer of modern Catholicism proclaims his indifference to all theory in religion, and rests his hopes on a few scraps of fashionable morality. And the Atheist gravely tells you, “There is no GOD.” “So they wrap it up.”

In the midst of this diversity of opinion, which at once displays the folly and subtlety of human beings, our text speaks a sentiment highly pleasing to the humble penitent. The writer of this inspired passage, once felt as great inveteracy to the truth expressed in it, as any we have referred to in the preceding remarks. He esteemed Christ an imposter. He verily thought he ought to do many things against the name of Christ, which things he did. He breathed out threatnings. He hurled men and women to prison, and compelled them to blaspheme. He persecuted the Church of GOD. He thought he could not do too much to suppress the religion of Jesus. His zeal was great. He willingly became the agent and assistant of the high priest of the Jews, in attempting the extirpation of Christianity. Having obtained a commission, and being furnished with suitable aid for this purpose, he pursued his intentions in persecuting it even unto strange cities. And while approaching his object, and just ready to grasp his prey, he was arrested by an invisible and irresistible power. Listen to his words in his address to king Agrippa, on this subject…”At mid-day, O King, I saw in the way a light from heaven, above the brightness of the sun, shining round about me, and them which journeyed with me. And when we were all fallen to the earth, I heard a voice speaking unto me, and saying in the Hebrew tongue, Saul, Saul, why persecutes thou me! It is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. And I said, Who art thou, Lord? And he said I am Jesus, whom thou persecutes. But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness, both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in which I will appear unto thee; delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee, to open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto GOD, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.

“Whereupon, O King Agrippa, I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision: but shewed, first unto them of Damascus and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to GOD, and do works meet for repentance.—Witnessing both to small and great, saying none other things, than those which the prophets and Moses did say should come; that Christ should suffer and that he should be the first that should rise from the dead, and should shew light unto the people and to the Gentiles.”

Thus we have a brief account of Saul’s arrest, conviction, conversion, and appointment to the apostleship; also a short summary of his doctrine.

These things afford an irrefutable argument in favor of the truth of Christianity. This is the “glorious Gospel of the blessed GOD,” “that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, even the chief.” “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation.” Thousands of Jews and millions of Gentiles have already felt its power, and submitted to its laws. And countless millions of both Jews and Gentiles will hereafter reap its golden harvests in the eternal state. Then let us spend a few moments in surveying its truths.

I. The first truth in this doctrine, which we notice is, That man is a sinner. However humbling this doctrine may be to the natural pride of the human heart, its truth is confirmed by the universal history of man. The sacred and profane historian, each in his way, equally establishes this solemn truth. Every nation, in every age, has exhibited indubitable evidence of the depravity of man. “His sin is written as with the point of a diamond; it is engraved as with a pen of iron in a rock.” It is impressed in indelible characters on the tablets of the human heart; and like the laws of Draco, drawn in human blood, in the scenery of this world. Sin is the transgression of law. Law implies a legislator. The great law, violated by man, is the law of GOD. This law is the moral law, therefore of perpetual obligation. It is holy, just, and good. Its legislator is GOD:–A being of infinite perfection, of boundless attribute, of the most exalted dignity, and consummate glory. To violate his law must be the most aggravated crime. It is insulting the Majesty of heaven and earth. It is trampling on the highest authority. Hence the exceeding sinfulness of sin may be seen; and hence its infinite ill desert may be inferred. And as sin consists radically, in the moral temper of the human heart, and not in the mere external action of human life: and as all men of every description, in their natural state, have hearts similar, in their moral temper; and as the moral temper of the human heart constitutes the moral character of man in the sight of him, who looketh on the heart; we may see the reason, why GOD declares, that all men are sinners. “For the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked. Who can know it?” And if all men are sinners, then all men need a Savior. For no future obedience can make atonement for past sins. And as the amount of human guilt is infinite; and the law demands perfect obedience and its obligation is perpetual, so nothing short of infinite merit can atone for man’s sin. For nothing short of perfect righteousness can satisfy the demands of the perfect law of GOD; and the law must be satisfied, both in its penalty and requisition; and sinful man is incapable of performing either, and having opportunity to be happy; therefore he needs a Savior who is able to fulfill all the demands of the law.

II. These reflections naturally lead us, in the next place, to consider the character of Christ Jesus, who is represented in our text as having come into the world to save sinners. He is, undoubtedly, equal to the arduous undertaking; otherwise he would prove himself to be an imposter. But to effect the salvation of sinners, he must be able to magnify the law of Jehovah, and make it honorable. He must perfectly obey its precepts, and satisfy its penalty—He must have a righteousness, which may be the end of the law to everyone who believeth; and an atonement, which will satisfy for the sins which are past; so, that God may be just, and the justifier of the ungodly, who believeth in Jesus. But no finite being, man or angel, or super-angelic being, who is a mere creature, (and all are such but the Eternal) has such a righteousness and atonement as are necessary for the salvation of sinners; for such beings can perform nothing more than their duty, or they can only fulfill the law for themselves, consequently can do nothing for others. The Savior, then, must be more than man, more than angel, more than any super-angelic creature. He must be Divine. He must be real GOD, as well as perfect man. He must be God and man united. Two natures, but one person. He must be man, that he may obey and suffer. He must be GOD, that his obedience and suffering may have infinite worth and merit. He must be man, to exhibit a perfect example of all human virtues. He must be GOD, to hold the reins of universal government, and be able to subdue all things unto himself, to execute his will in heaven, and accomplish his pleasure on earth. And such is Christ Jesus, the anointed Savior. He was typified in his official character by the anointed prophet, by the anointed priest, and by the anointed king, in the ancient church. A prophet to teach, a priest to atone, and a king to rule, is he. Though he is the seed of the woman, the seed of Abraham, the Shiloh of Jacob, the prophet of Moses, the angel of the covenant, the captain of the Lord’s host, the child given, and son born to the church, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; yet he is the Creator of the world, the Governor of the universe, the Wonderful Counselor, the mighty GOD, the everlasting Father, the Prince of peace, the Holy One of Israel, whose goings were of old even from everlasting. The names of GOD are his, the attributes of GOD are his, the works of GOD are his, and the worship of GOD is his. He is GOD over all blessed forever. Man adores him as GOD. Angels worship him as GOD. The cherubim and seraphim proclaim his holiness as GOD. The Holy Spirit beareth witness of him as GOD, and the Father addresses him as GOD. Hear his awful and impressive address—“For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son? And again, When he bringeth the first begotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of GOD worship him. And of the angels he saith, Who maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire. But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O GOD, is forever and ever; a scepter of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom: Thou hast loved righteousness and hated iniquity, therefore, O GOD, thy GOD hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows. And thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thy hands: They shall perish, but Thou remainest; and they shall wax old as doth a garment; and as a vesture shalt Thou fold them up, and they shall be changed! But Thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail. But to which of the angels said He at any time, Sit on my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool.”

Thus, we see, he is mighty to save, even to the uttermost, all who come unto him. “He hath all power in heaven, and on earth. All the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden in him. In him dwelleth all the fullness of the God-head bodily. He that hath seen me, said he, hath seen the Father; for I am in the Father, and the Father in me. I and my Father are One.”

III. We now proceed to consider what he hath done to save sinners, even the chief. And

1. He has contracted with the Father to make an atonement for the sin of mankind. This stipulation was among the transactions of eternity. Foreseeing, in the counsels of GOD, the apostacy of man, he saw an opening for a gracious interposition. He readily offers himself, and his offer is as readily accepted. Hear what he says on this subject: “Wherefore, when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me: In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure: Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me) to do thy will, O GOD.”

2. In the fullness of time he came into the world, by becoming incarnate. He took not on him the nature of angels, but he took on him the seed of Abraham. He assumes the office of a Mediator between the Father and sinners. In this character he fulfills the office of a prophet, of a priest, and of a king.

3. As a prophet, he gives men a Revelation of his will, to cure him of his errors, and teach him the knowledge of his duty. “The spirit of prophecy is the testimony of Jesus.” “All scripture is given by inspiration of GOD, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness; that the man of GOD may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” Again, the Apostle saith, “The grace of GOD, that bringeth salvation, hath appeared to all men, teaching us, that denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should lie soberly, righteously, and godlily in this present world; looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great GOD and our Savior Jesus Christ: Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.”

4. Christ Jesus has set his followers a perfect example of all moral and humane virtues. He was pious and devout towards his heavenly Father; he was benevolent to mankind. He was tender and compassionate to his friends; though his righteous indignation was moved at the hardness of his enemies’ hearts, yet he prayed that their sins might be forgiven. “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.” He lamented the obstinacy of the wicked, and sympathized with the afflicted mourners. He rejoiced at the accomplishments of his Father’s good pleasure, and wept at the tomb of Lazarus.

5. Christ Jesus, in his mediatorial character, has exhibited a perfect righteousness, perfect in thought, feeling, word, and action. He was a Lamb without spot or blemish. On his character there was no blot nor stain. He was humble, meek, and lowly in heart. He was just, holy, and good; longsuffering, patient, and kind. His character was complete and perfect. He was the “end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believeth.”

6. Christ Jesus has made a complete atonement for the sin of man. This was his chief work, for which all others were preparatory. He hath magnified the law and made it honorable; he has vindicated the character of his Father, and supported the divine government; so that “GOD can be just and the justifier of him who believeth in Jesus.” “Whom GOD hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins, that are past, through the forbearance of GOD.” “By him,” saith the Apostle, “we have received the atonement; in due time Christ died for the ungodly; while we were sinners Christ died for us; when we were enemies, we were reconciled to GOD by the death of his Son.” Who by the grace of GOD hath tasted death for every man; who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time. “If one died for all, then were all dead, and he died for all.” “And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: And he is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” These passages, and many others of the same import, plainly and fully declare the complete atonement of Christ for man’s sin. “Behold the Lamb of GOD, who taketh away the sin of the world!” “Is not this the Christ, the Savior, who should come into the world?”

7. Christ has made intercession for all, whom his Father hath given him in the covenant of redemption. He still intercedes. For these he prays, that they may be kept from the evil of the world, through the name of the Father; that they might be sanctified through the truth; and that they may be with him, where he is, and behold his glory, which the Father had given him. For the Father loved the Son before the foundation of the world.

IV. We may now proceed to consider from what Christ Jesus saves sinners.

1. He saves sinners from their errors, delusions, superstitions, follies, and irreligion. These things he effects by a declaration of divine truth, by the exhibition of correct examples, by the institution of true religion, by the display of real wisdom, and by the force of the most powerful motives.

2. He saves sinners from the dominion of sin. This he accomplishes by the powerful agency of the Holy Spirit, in his gracious operations, by restraining, awakening, and convincing sinners; by regenerating, sanctifying, and justifying those, who are subjects of his gracious influence. “Quench not the Spirit, resist not the Holy Ghost, and grieve not the Spirit of GOD,” lest he leave thee to “hardness of heart, and blindness of mind, to treasure up wrath against the day of wrath and the revelation of the righteous judgment of GOD.”

3. He saves sinners from future and eternal punishment. This he does by delivering them from the sentence of the divine law. “There is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus;” by pardoning their sins, through the redemption which is in Jesus; by completing the work of grace in them; by openly acknowledging them in the day of Judgment, and by giving them eternal life. “He,” saith Paul, “will render to every man according to his deeds. To them who, by patient continuance in well doing, seek for glory, and honor, and immortality, eternal life: But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish upon every soul of man that doth evil: of the Jew First, and also of the Gentile: but glory, honor, and peace to every man that worketh good; to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile: For there is no respect of persons with GOD. In the day when GOD shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my Gospel.”

4. He saves sinners by confirming them in perpetual holiness in the future state. They shall sin no more. They shall be pure, perfect, and complete in holiness. They shall be entirely conformed to the moral image of Christ. Who is the image of the invisible GOD. No temptation shall ever draw them aside from duty. The fire of love will never be extinguished; but kindle and glow and burn forever.

5. He saves sinners by establishing them in a state of perfect and continual happiness. The people of GOD, in this life, suffer many evils, as other men; but in the future life, all tears shall be wiped from their eyes. There shall be no more crying, nor pain, nor death. All these shall have passed from the people of GOD. And joy, and peace, and honor, and glory, and immortality, and endless felicity, shall be their happy portion from the hand of their glorious Redeemer.

V. Having expounded at some length the leading doctrine of our text, we shall now shew on what conditions, on the part of sinners, Christ Jesus saves them.

1. He saves sinners from final ruin on the condition of genuine and evangelical repentance. The prophets preached repentance; Christ Jesus preached repentance; and he sent his apostles and ministers “to preach, that men should repent and turn to GOD, and do works meet for repentance, that they might receive the forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Christ.” GOD commands all men everywhere to repent, wherever the Gospel is preached. Christ says, notwithstanding all which he has done to save sinners, “Except ye repent, ye shall all perish.”So that without repentance no adult can be saved.

2. He requires of sinners, that they should heartily believe, or cordially accept the Gospel. “He that believeth shall be saved,” says Christ Jesus. Paul preached faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. When the trembling and convinced jailor said to the imprisoned Apostles, “What shall I do to be saved?” their answer was, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shall be saved and thy house.” “For without faith, it is impossible to please God.” For He requires all who come unto Him to believe, that “He is, and that He is the rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” On the contrary, the unbeliever is “condemned already, and the wrath of GOD abideth of him.” And continuing in this condition, “he shall not see life; but hall be damned.”

VI. We not proceed to consider the Apostle’s declaration concerning the Gospel, that “It is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation.”

1. We are not required to believe that which is not true, nor to believe the truth without evidence. We may therefore presume, that the Gospel rests on the most convincing and satisfactory evidence of its truth and credibility.

No writer of note, ancient or modern, has pretended to deny the authenticity and genuineness of the books of the sacred Scriptures; or that the books of the Old and New Testament were, in general, written by the persons whose names they bear. Admitting those facts, and that they were honest men, we see not but they were as competent to write the history of their own times, and to testify to the transactions of which they were eye witnesses, as other historians, either ancient or modern. That there were such writings as the Old Testament, the Hebrew nation will testify, who still possess it in its original purity and language. Christians of all ages and nations, since the era of Christ, as well as those of the present period, have had possession of the New Testament.

2. Numerous miraculous interpositions of Divine Providence, in attestation of the truths and doctrines of the sacred Scriptures, and especially of the Gospel, are recorded by these holy penmen. These were of a salutary or stupendous nature, indicative of divine goodness, as well as declarative of omnipotence. And, in the whole, they constitute an impressive and awful confirmation of divine truth. They are the broad seal of Heaven set to revelation, obvious to the senses and consciences of all men, who saw or experienced their effects, whether beneficial or destructive. These miracles were not beyond the power of the Deity to perform. They were appropriate to the exigencies in which they were accomplished, and were more forcible than a thousand arguments, to evince the truth, and enforce conviction on the consciences of men. Even the most bitter enemies of Moses and Christ did not pretend to deny the reality of their miracles, which are attributed to them in the Scriptures, but only attempted to invalidate their force, and prevent their effects on the minds of men. Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses for awhile, but at length they yielded to superior and irresistible power, and acknowledged the finger of GOD. So the Jews, at first, imputed the miracles of Christ to Belzebub; but when they saw Lazarus alive, whom, after being four days in the grave, Jesus raised from the dead, they said, “What do we, for this man doeth many miracles,” and felt the importance of exerting themselves to prevent all men going after him. So neither Celsus nor Julian dared to deny the reality of Christ’s miracles, but attempted to evade their influence, and to account for them on other principles, besides the omnipotence of the Deity. But what honest mind does not perceive the fallacy of the reasoning of these ancient and modern deists and infidels. Admitting their mode of argument to be correct; to be consistent, they must refuse their assent to all history, and deny the testimony of their own senses. But granting that miracles were wrought by the Divine power, then GOD has spoken, and the Gospel is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation.

3. Again, the Scriptures contain a vast series of prophecies, some of which have already been fulfilled, others are now accomplishing, and all will be accomplished in due time. As miracles afforded a convincing and satisfactory evidence of the truth of the Gospel to the candid, in ancient days, so the fulfillment of prophecy presents an irrefragable proof of the divinity of the sacred Scriptures to every honest inquirer after truth. And would every men of science exercise the same candor and dispassion in his investigation of evangelical truth, as he does in his inquiries after scientific truth and historic fact, he would find the history of Christ better attested than that of Socrates, the history of Moses better supported than that of Solon or Lycurgus, which none pretend to doubt. He would find, in the sacred Scriptures, independent of its divine origin, says a late celebrated writer, “more sublimity and beauty, more pure morality, more important history, and finer strains of poetry, and eloquence, than can be collected from all other books, in whatever age or language they may have been composed.”

4. But what further recommends the Gospel peculiarly to mankind is, its adaptation to human necessity. It is just such a method of salvation as man wants. It amply provides for all his necessities. Is he poor? The Gospel enriches him. Is he thirsty? It gives him to drink the water of life. Is he hungry? It offers him the bread of eternal life. Is he naked? It clothes him with the garment of righteousness and salvation. Is he wounded? It heals him with the balm of Gilead. Is he sick? It restores him to health. Is he dead? It raises him to eternal felicity. “Christ Jesus is made” unto all, who believe in him, “wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption.”

Omitting the complimental addresses, usual on similar occasions, not from any disrespect to our rulers, but from a disapprobation of the practice, we advance to make a few inferences from the preceding discourse; and these must be short.

1. Our subject teaches us the immense value of the souls of men. Among all the objects of this lower creation nothing has the impress of immortality, but the soul of man. “Man,” says an elegant divine, “a creature of yesterday, frail as the tender grass, is made for immortality. The lamp which the Lord hath lighted up in his breast, will burn forever. The mind will be ever vigorous and active. No labor can exhaust it. No length of ages can waste its energy. No accumulation of guilt, or pressure of suffering, can destroy its activity. Such a mind, destined to exist and act forever, destined to the bliss of heaven or the pains of hell, lives in every human being; in the savage as in the citizen; in the Heathen as in the Christian; in the Hindoo, the Chinese and the Hottentot as in the polished European or independent American.” Its salvation has been the subject of divine contemplation from eternity. The plan was settled before the creation of the Universe. To accomplish it, the worlds were made. For the same important end, they are upheld and governed. All things are subordinated to this grand purpose. For this end, Christ Jesus came into the world, taught, labored and suffered, died on the cross, and rose again from the dead. For this the scriptures were given, and the Spirit sent.

2. We infer, that it is the duty of all men to seek their own salvation and that of others. “What shall it profit a man, to gain the whole world and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” Christ has set an immense price on the souls of men, and has displayed infinite benevolence in providing for their salvation. “Can any Christian be a stranger to the enlarged views, the benevolent desires and pleasing designs of the glorious Redeemer?” “Does not every pious man resemble Christian love to the souls of men? And can he be satisfied with anything short of all that infinite love designs? The Christian feels for his fellow men. He considers their temporal interests, and promotes them; their temporal wants and sufferings, and relieves them. “But when their spiritual interest is before him; (declares an eloquent and pious writer)—when the value of their souls, and the prospect, which the gospel opens, of immortal happiness in the world to come; his bowels of compassion are moved; his tenderest affections are kindled; pure and heavenly love warms his soul. He longs for the eternal felicity of kindred and friends, of his country and the world. His heart’s desire and prayer to God is, that all men,” in the reach of mercy, “may be saved; that all human beings may forsake their evil ways and turn to the Lord; that his kingdom may come, and his will be done on the earth as it is done in heaven, “that his way may be known on the earth and his saving health among all nations.” With this holy affection reigning in his heart, the fervent devoted Christian presents himself a living sacrifice unto God; and counts it a privilege to do and suffer anything for the advancement of His cause. He is ready to endure all things for the elect’s sake, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory.” “In this state of mind no difficulty discourages; no danger alarms. He is steady to his purpose, as resolute, active and patient in pursuit as the restless miser or ambitious conqueror. And as their desire of wealth and of conquest is insatiable and unbounded; so is his desire for the diffusion of Christian knowledge and happiness. Every degree of success attending the dispensation of the Gospel, even a single instance of conversion among the weakest and meanest of mankind, yields him the purest pleasure. But this pleasure only increases desire. His enjoyment of the good already attained urges him on to the pursuit of more. The progressive enlargement of the kingdom of Christ will constantly enlarge the benevolence of his heart. While there is a nation or tribe under heaven not subdued to Christ, the enlightened, fervent Christian cannot rest. His unalterable object is, that the knowledge of the Lord may fill the earth. His heart beats high for the conversion of the world. This, my dear brethren, is the true spirit of our holy religion. This is the affection which glows in every new-born soul. This is the principle which governs and animates the Church of Christ.” “In the name of him,” therefore, “who died on Calvary, we call upon you, O Christian, to labor for the salvation of beings who will never die. Of what consideration is their nation, climate, color, language, government, education and manners? Here all distinctions vanish. Learned and ignorant, refined and rude, honorable and base, are all on a level in point of accountableness to God, and immortality of soul. Rise, then, above all the distinctions which misguide our judgments and our hearts, and seek the salvation of this great family of immortals.”

3. Our subject teaches the abundant fullness, which God has provided for the salvation of immortal and precious souls. What could infinite wisdom devise, infinite goodness prompt, or infinite power do more, than they have done, or will do, to effectuate the salvation of man? The treasure of heaven is given; the bowels of divine mercy are displayed; the foundation is strong and broad, such as infinite wisdom and goodness would have it. There are the best means of instruction, a perfect righteousness, a complete atonement; all things are ready. The conditions are moderate and reasonable; the offer is generous and free; the motives are powerful and animating. This great salvation is sufficient for all men; for Asiatics and Africans; for Europeans and Americans; for men of every grade and rank; for Magistrates, Legislators and People. It is sufficient for the poor and the rich, bond and free; and for teachers and those who are taught. And all stand in need, perishing need, of it. Millions unnumbered have accepted, and yet there is no room.

4. Our subject teaches that there is safety in no other but Christ Jesus. Has he come into the world to save sinners? Then no other can save them; all others are thieves and robbers, who have been before or since Christ, who have pretended to be saviors; and those, who have trusted in them, have perished. Is there any other name given under heaven, or among men, by which men can be saved? Is it not time for us to look out for safety; and cursed is he, that trusts in an arm of flesh. Where shall we go but to God, to the Savior? He fainteth not, nor doth he grow weary; he has everlasting strength. He is able to save to the uttermost all that come to God by him. “When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongue faileth for thirst; I the Lord will hear them; I, the GOD of Israel, will not forsake them.”

5. If there is safety in no other but Christ, how important is it, that the Gospel be published to all the world. This was the command of Christ, to “preach the Gospel to every creature,” to “disciple all nations.” This command expresses the benevolence of Jesus, and displays the infinitude of his love. It is not confined to the apostles and primitive ministers; it is limited to no age nor nation. Its obligation binds Christians “always, even to the end of the world.” The motives, which excited the Apostles to preach the Gospel to all nations, have not lost their energy; they remain in full force. Their salvation is as necessary, as important, and as easily effected.” It is the duty of ministers to preach; of others to help. The Messiah is given to be a light to the Gentiles. They must hear the glad tidings. “But how can they hear without a preacher? And how can they preach except they be sent?” Ministers must preach, and other Christians must encourage, send and support them in this great and benevolent work.

6. Finally, if there is salvation in no other but Christ Jesus; how important is it, that all of every rank, high and low, should comply with the terms of the Gospel, while they have the offer? Now is the accepted time, now is the day of salvation, for the present generation; but the opportunity may soon be past. We live in an age of revolutions and wonders. Sudden changes are passing on the nations and kingdoms of the world. Nation has risen against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. Every crown, almost, has been overturned; every scepter broken; every throne shaken or demolished; every government revolutionized. God has arisen to punish the nations, and to pour out the cup of his indignation on the inhabitants of the earth. What wars, and rumors of wars! What desolations and devastations by land and sea! What unusual tempests and seasons! What earthquakes and pestilential diseases in divers places! What fearful apprehensions and forebodings of evil! What jeopardy of life, liberty and property! Is it not important, then, that we secure the best interests of our immortal souls? But this can be done only by our becoming Christians. Let our hearts, then, be Christian; let our lives be Christian; let our sentiments be Christian: let our rulers of every grade be Christians; let our teachers be Christians; let all the people be Christians. Let our laws promote Christianity, and our influence encourage it, and our interest support it. And may the Almighty and Eternal GOD Christianize the whole world.

AMEN.

Sermon – Election – 1812, Connecticut


Moses Welch (1754-1824) graduated from Yale in 1772. He made saltpeter with Samuel Nott for the American army’s powder supply during the Revolution. Welch was pastor of a church in Mansfield, CT (1784-1824). This election sermon was preached by him in Hartford, CT on May 14, 1812.


sermon-election-1812-connecticut

AN EXCELLENT SPIRIT FORMS THE CHARACTER OF A GOOD RULER:

ILLUSTRATED

IN A

SERMON

PREACHED BEFORE THE

HONOURABLE GENERAL ASSEMBLY

OF THE

STATE OF CONNECTICUT,

AT THE

ANNIVERSARY ELECTION,

IN THE CITY OF HARTFORD, MAY 14, 1812.

BY MOSES C. WELCH, D. D.
PASTOR OF THE CHURCH IN NORTH-MANSFIELD

At a General Assembly of the State of Connecticut, holden at Hartford in said State, on the second Thursday of May, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and twelve.

ORDERED, That the Honourable Calvin Goddard, and Mr. Roger Waldo, present the thanks of this Assembly to the Rev. Moses C. Welch, D. D. for his sermon, preached at the Anniversary Election on the 14th day of May instant, and request a copy thereof that it may be printed.

A true copy of record,
Examined by
THOMAS DAY, Secretary.

ELECTION SERMON.

DANIEL vi. 3.

Then this Daniel was preferred above the presidents and princes, because an excellent spirit was in him; and the King thought to set him over the whole realm.

DURING the Babylonish captivity, Belshazzar, a descendant and successor of Nebuchadnezzar, commanded that Daniel should be clothed in scarlet, with a chain of gold about his neck, and be proclaimed the third ruler in the kingdom. This honor was conferred on him because he interpreted the hand writing upon the wall of the palace, which pointed out the king’s overthrow, and that the kingdom should be transferred to the Medes and Persians.

When Darius the Median came to the throne, he appointed over the kingdom an hundred and twenty princes to superintend the public concerns. Three presidents were appointed over this number of princes; one of whom was considered as possessing supereminent talents, and was clothed with superior authority. This honor was conferred on Daniel. Though one of the children of the captivity, and a despised Jew, he was honored as prime minister of state, and chief magistrate under the grand monarch of the Medo-Persian empire. He was thus honored because an excellent spirit was in him.

Daniel in his natural state was like other men. Aside from special grace, and the supernatural agency of the divine Spirit, he was, like other men, “far from righteousness,” a stranger to God, and totally destitute of moral goodness. But as God prepares men for the post he designs they shall occupy, so Daniel was eminently qualified for his dignified station. He was furnished with natural and acquired talents, well suited to the elevated rank to which the providence of God raised him. Possessing an excellent spirit, he was appointed to the highest office within the king’s power to bestow upon him.

It will not, it is presumed, on this very interesting occasion, appear either improper or untimely, to consider, and bring into view, some things implied in the excellent spirit of Daniel; and then to offer a few reasons why this rendered his promotion to office highly suitable.

I. I am to consider some things implied in the excellent spirit that was in Daniel.

It is obvious, in the first place, that he was a man of great natural wisdom and understanding.

From the history of Daniel it is exceedingly evident that he had a strong, discerning mind, and an uncommonly sound judgment. The God of nature formed him for public life, and designed he should fill important stations, in a civil capacity, as well as in the church. He furnished him, therefore, with such a cast of mind, and all that natural discernment, and strength of judgment, suited to the station to which he was appointed in the divine plan.

Men are sometimes put into office who have not the requisite talents. Such men are an injury to the public interest, and their administration brings a blot upon themselves. The hand and providence of God, however, must be acknowledged in the exaltation of such men. The Lord has the same right to punish a people by a bad ruler, as by a tempest, an earthquake, or a pestilence. And this is often done in the course of his righteous government over the nations. He dealeth in this manner, “that the living may know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will, and setteth up over it the basest of men.” 1 But when God designs a man shall act well in a high station he always gives him the necessary qualifications. Hence Daniel was liberally furnished with talents well suited to the dignified station he was to fill, in the empire under Darius. The Lord gave him strong powers of mind, equal, or superior, to any in that age of the world. No man among the captive Jews, nor among all the subjects of the Medo-Persian monarch, could be found, in the estimation of Darius, equal to Daniel.

We may further observe, that, with a strong mind, and sound judgment, Daniel possessed extensive information.

He probably enjoyed the means of cultivating and improving his natural talents, in early life, to a degree superior to his cotemporaries in general. We may rationally conclude he went into Babylon with a greater stock of information than was common to the youth of that age and nation. Hence we find his name first on the list of those who were noticed by the officer of Nebuchadnezzar, when seeking for the most able and promising young men to stand before the king. And he was designated, with three others, as the most suitable to learn the Chaldean language, and be instructed in all the science of that country. 2 Devoted to study, and instructed by the most able teachers, at the end of three years they were presented to the king, and were found, in all matters of wisdom and understanding, ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers in the realm. 3

God can, if he please, give men, in an extraordinary manner, as much knowledge as the human mind is capable of receiving. But it is usual to obtain it by a regular course of study. Though Daniel had the extraordinary teachings of the holy Spirit, yet he gained a fund of knowledge by those means which he enjoyed, under the ablest instructors. In this way he was possessed of uncommon, extensive, and most useful information. He had an excellent spirit of wisdom and knowledge.

He possessed, moreover, in a true sense, the fear of God. Persons are said to fear God who are totally destitute of religion. Even the fallen spirits of darkness, who are doomed to everlasting woe “believe and tremble.” 4 Wicked men often tremble in view of that ceaseless torment which will be the portion of the ungodly. Believing that such characters must “drink of the wine of the wrath of God,” 5 they fear and tremble. They fear the justice of God while they hate his character. But the excellent spirit of Daniel produced a fear different both in its nature and effects. As a friend of God, and having an heart warmed with divine love, he feared to dishonor his name, wound his cause, or, in any sense, offend him. He feared God as a dutiful and affectionate child fears a kind, indulgent father. The honor of Jehovah lay near his heart, and a sincere affection for his amiable and most excellent character, influenced him in the various actions of life. The divine law was beautiful in his view, and it was the desire of his whole soul to obey it in all its demands. He had an excellent spirit of the love and fear of God.

This excellent spirit consisted, also, in a sacred regard to the public institutions of religion.

We may conclude, without any doubt, that a man so completely under the influence of love to God, will pay a sacred regard to those public religious institutions which are established by divine authority. Such a man, whether in public or private life, will, unquestionably, regard the Sabbath as a divine institution. He will not, on the Sabbath, pursue any secular business, nor indulge himself in the pleasures and common amusements of life. As the Sabbath is holy by the authority of God, and consecrated to spiritual concerns, so he will lay aside all his secular business, and observe the day with that decent attention and solemn reverence which the nature of the institution requires. From a view of the character of Daniel we conclude, without any doubt, that he observed the Sabbath as a day to be devoted to God, and consecrated to the concerns of the soul.

The excellent spirit of this public officer would induce him, also, to attend the social worship of God on the Sabbath. From the remotest ages, to which our information extends, God’s people have, universally practiced religious worship, in a social manner, on the Sabbath. This practice has been sanctioned as well by Jesus the founder of Christianity, as by the most worthy part of mankind from the earliest ages of time. And may we suppose it was neglected by Daniel? Did he think it beneath his dignity to meet with God’s people for worship? Did he view the social duties of religion unworthy of the notice of rulers, and beneath the dignity of men in high life? Alas! “great men are not always wise!” But this great man was wise both for time and eternity. He never looked down upon the social worship of Jehovah, nor treated the public institutions of religion with a sarcastic sneer. He was, indeed, greatly delighted in the worship of God, and thought himself highly honored when admitted to intimate communion with the most High. He never, in his own view, appeared in a more dignified attitude than when bowing, with fellow saints, before the sacred altar, and offering a solemn sacrifice to God.

Again: The excellent spirit of Daniel induced him to perform, statedly, the duties of private devotion. Such is human depravity that men often observe the public institutions of religion from bad motives. And they as often swim with the tide. When the current of public opinion is in favor of divine institutions, they will treat religion with decency, externally regard the Sabbath, and attend the social worship of God; especially when abroad on public business, though total strangers to piety of heart. Such men, for the most part, entirely neglect the exercises of private devotion. The religious duties of the family and closet, by men of the world, are not considered of any great importance. Strangers to piety have no intercourse with heaven. Though in peculiar distress, or under the pressure of some alarming providence, they may for a season maintain a form of private devotion, they do not hold out. It soon becomes a burdensome business, and the language of the heart is, “What profit shall we have if we pray unto him?” God has no share in their affections, and is not, with any sense of obligation, in all their thoughts.

Daniel was a different character. He was, eminently, a man of prayer. A friend to God, and enraptured by intercourse with heaven, he performed the duties of private devotion from a principle of real affection for the object of worship, and a cordial delight in duty. His enemies knew his character. They agreed, with one voice, that no accusation could be supported against him except in things “concerning the law of his God.” With this view of Daniel they persuaded the king to pass a royal statute that whosoever should ask a petition of any God, or man, save of the king, for thirty days, should be case into the den of lions. But did Daniel regard the prohibition? Did the awful penalty appal him? He feared the Lord. He knew his God, and not man was to be worshipped and obeyed. He could not be deterred from the service of God by the most powerful opposition; even by these awfully terrific threats. He persevered in a religious course, and statedly performed his devotional duties, in the very face of this regal mandate, and the enmity of those numerous and watchful sycophants of the Persian court. An excellent spirit was in him.

Further: He was a man of a courageous, intrepid spirit.

True courage consists in feeling a sense of danger, and at the same time possessing a steady, unshaken mind. The man of true courage is cool and collected in the midst of danger. When compassed with the most pressing difficulties, with liberty, and even life at hazard, he keeps his eye on the duties of his post, and steadily follows the calls of providence.

This courage may be constitutional, the offspring of a natural fortitude of mind; or it may spring from a firm reliance on God, and a religious confidence in his divine protection. Daniel, unquestionably, had both. Can we doubt this when we see him, with the full prospect of being cast into the den of the most terrible of all beasts, opposing the king’s decree, and upon his knees before God in prayer, three times a day? The natural and religions fortitude of Daniel prepared him to meet, with a steady mind, all the clamors of his enemies, with their malicious attacks upon his reputation and life. He was thus enabled to prosecute the duties of his post, and render honor to his God, even at the risk of life itself. What an excellent trait this in the character of a public officer? How peculiarly needed in the evil day of turmoil and confusion? When the reputation of the faithful servant of the public is maliciously assailed, and his character stabbed by the venomous tongue of slander, what so necessary and useful as the fortitude, the wisdom, the piety of Daniel?

I may not forget to observe that “an excellent spirit was in him,” as he had an ardent desire to promote the general good. He did not seek the good of a single friend, or a few favored individuals, to the exclusion of all the rest of the community. Nor did he aim at the interest of one particular nation, to the injury of others. A man of Daniel’s natural talents and religious attainments would not, so far, deviate from the rules of benevolence and good policy.

Iniquity will never be transformed to righteousness by royal authority; nor the nature of benevolence and selfishness assimilated by the power of rulers. Crowned heads and dignified officers, who are, often, no better than royal cut-throats, and exalted robbers, get to themselves great renown by those deeds which would send a private individual to the state prison for life, or consign him to the hand of the executioner.

What some consider as true patriotism is the very essence of selfishness. Individuals have rights which may never be infringed for the benefit of other individuals. Towns and states have rights peculiar to them as such, and these may not be invaded. There are, also, national as well as individual rights, which are to be sacredly regarded. It is wrong in the nature of things, and therefore a moral evil, to invade the rights of one nation for the benefit of another. A nation of untutored savages are no more to be molested in their natural rights, than a people in the highest state of civilization.

True patriotism is consistent with perfect benevolence. It, therefore, supposes desiring the good of our own country consistently, and in connection, with the interests of other nations. This is true patriotism. And this grows out of that piety which consists in supreme affection for God, and a cordial regard for our fellow sinners; which aims at the glory of Jehovah, and the increase of happiness in the rational system. This is the spirit which rulers ought to possess, however diverse from many exalted characters in this fallen world. And this, it is presumed, is the “excellent spirit” that was in Daniel. Sincerely aiming at the general good, he endeavoured to form his principles of government, and to calculate the rules of his administration, upon the perfect scale of, what we now call, Christian benevolence.

To do to others as we would that they should do to us is a perfect rule, and it is as binding on nations as individuals. This is that righteousness which dignifies and exalteth a nation; while the contrary is a part of that debasing sin which is a reproach to any people. Such as make war and shed blood either to gratify human passions, or to extend empire, imitate the Alexanders, the Neroes, the Napoleons of this ungodly world, more than those benevolent rulers who possess the “excellent spirit” of Daniel.

I am now.

II. To offer some reasons why this excellent spirit of Daniel rendered his promotion to office highly suitable.

Of the many reasons which might be offered we will notice the following.

In the first place, a man of such a spirit would be likely to honor his post.

A public station is honorable; and it is important for the good of men that it be held in high repute. The character and conduct of public officers either raise or sink the post, in point of respectability, in the public estimation. Should judges and counselors of state mix with the common herd of low characters; or the representatives of a free people join indiscriminately with the vicious and profane, how it would disgrace their station! Should the chief magistrate of the state, or the first ruler of the nation, take abandoned sinners to his bosom, deride the gospel of Jesus, speak contemptuously of the son of God, and revel in a black catalogue of crimes, how debasing to the office!

But a different course does honor to a public post. When men in office act with a dignified deportment, manifesting a disposition to honor God, and promote the religion of the Bible, it does honor to them as rulers, and adds dignity and respectability to the office. When to this they join such a line of conduct as promotes the good of men, and increases the happiness of those over whom they rule; they appear well in view of the virtuous part of the community, and command the respect, even of the disorderly and profane. It is said of Epaminondas, the Grecial philosopher and general, that he had scarcely any vice, and almost every virtue to distinguish him from the rest of mankind. And that he so behaved himself in exalted stations, as did more honor to dignities than dignities to him. 6

Such a ruler was Daniel. His enemies hated him, and sought his destruction, not because there was anything bad in his administration or character, but because they possessed the rancorous feelings of disappointed ambition. Daniel was raised above them. He possessed the highest confidence of the king, who placed him first among all his officers. And he so discharged the duties of his elevated station as to answer the raised expectations of Darius. He was so wise, just and good in his administration, that his bitter enemies could support no accusation against him. His conduct, both in a civil and religious view, was so upright, noble and dignified, as to do great honor to the station in which he was placed.

His appointment to office was highly suitable, also, because his character insured fidelity to the public interest.

Men are influenced by various motives to act well in office. A man may aim at the public interest merely on selfish principles. So long as it will secure his own popularity, and promote his private interest he will act well for the public. But in this case there is no bond by which he is holden to perseverance in the path of righteousness. The moment the tables are turned his course is changed. Let him only feel safe as to public opinion, or have an opportunity of making his own private fortune, and the public interest is sacrificed at a blow. Such a man will, to-day, be a warm republican, blazon with zeal for universal freedom and the rights of man, swearing eternal enmity to kings and crowned heads. Tomorrow, he will throw off the mask, grasp at power, become an emperor, reign as a despot, and struggle to bring all nations to his feet.

The man of an excellent spirit is possessed of more noble views, and influenced by vastly different motives. He is, continually, under the influence by vastly different motives. He is, continually, under the influence of a solemn view of accountability. Sensible of the divine omniscience, he believes that all his secret designs, as well as public actions, are open to the view of God. He knows the day is fast approaching when God will bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing. He looks to the solemn period when rulers and subjects will stand on a level at the bar of Jehovah, and receive the reward of their deeds. In view of that solemn day, and awful process, he acts in public and private life; and, as a friend to God and man, performs faithfully, the duties of his station. To secure fidelity to the public interest, faithful men who fear God and hate covetousness, are to be appointed to office. As Daniel was eminently such a character, so his promotion was highly proper.

Further. It was so because it would promote the public good.

When men of an excellent spirit hold the reins of government, the people are generally prosperous and happy. The sacred and profane history of the world will confirm this position. What nation has not prospered under the government of wise and godly men? This was the case with Israel, most evidently, for a number of centuries. Whenever God designed their prosperity, he gave them wise and good men to rule over them. And he often punished them by the administration of some abandoned wretch; some vicious, unfeeling, impious tyrant. How happy were God’s ancient covenant people under the administration of Solomon, Josiah, Hezekiah, Asa, and Nehemiah, with a long catalogue of excellent characters? And how different the picture with the dark shades drawn from the reign of Ahab, Manasseh, Jeroboam, and a group of wretches that brought misery and distress on the land and people of God!—If we come nearer home we cannot avoid calling to mind the unexampled prosperity of our own country, under the administration of the most able statesman, and wise ruler that has lived for ages. Future generations, from the page of history, will contrast the happy state of united America, under the guidance of the immortal Washington, with our present deranged, distracted, disgraced condition. Yea, what man, with the facts before him, will not, by irresistible conviction, be compelled to acknowledge the beneficial effects of electing able and wise men to the first offices, in this state?

Connecticut has moved on regularly for more than a century and an half, 7 and been, in a singular manner, prosperous and happy. We have had a succession of rulers, first in office, who by profession and external deportment, have feared God, and reverenced his institutions. Under their wise administration the state has prospered. No nation of men, nor can any state in the union, boast of so great prosperity and happiness for such a course of years. And we, equally, out-vie all other people in the number and extent of our privileges, both of a civil and religious nature. In the means of education, and the general diffusion of information, with the equal enjoyment of liberty among all ranks of people, we exceed what falls to the share of any spot on the globe. In these respects we stand unrivalled in the annals of time. And to what can this be ascribed but the blessing of God upon the labors, and faithful services, of a long list of able, wise, godly men that have ruled over this state? From the venerable and pious Haynes 8 down to the late excellent, beloved and much lamented Trumbull, the powers of government have been exercised to general satisfaction, and, almost, without a stain. Yea, delicacy will forbid me to name, on this occasion, one of later date, who for wisdom, piety, firmness and integrity, is not exceeded by his predecessors. 9 Strangers to the delusive arts of intrigue and duplicity, which under a cloud of mystery envelope public measures in total darkness; they have neither needed the aid of “secret service money,” nor lavished thousands of the public treasure upon worthless tools to accomplish arty designs, or bring about selfish ends. Open sincerity and honorable frankness, the striking characteristics of an “excellent spirit,” like the resplendent gens in the breast-plate of the Jewish high priest, have given a sparkling lustre to the counsels of Connecticut.

When we call to mind the worthies who have guided the public affairs of this state, we may, confidently and affectionately, recognize their administration to have been “as the light of the morning when the sun riseth, even a morning without clouds.”

Once more. It was highly suitable Daniel should be appointed to office because it would promote the moral interest of the community.

The moral good of a person, or people, is as much more important than their civil or political interest, as eternity exceeds time. Time is short. The period for enjoying good, or suffering evil here, is but momentary. In this life we are fitted for a never ending existence; and men are greatly influenced in their feelings about moral things by the conduct of others. The influence of example is exceedingly great; especially the example of men high in office. Rulers may do much to encourage morality and religion in society. If the public officer be virtuous, fear God, and sacredly regard divine institutions;–if he be a man of prayer, and eminent for practical godliness, he does not bear the sword in vain. He is a terror to evil doers, and encourages men to do well. The benefit of his administration, in a moral view, is incalculable.

The religious feelings and conduct of Daniel had a surprising and extensive influence. He persisted in worshipping the true God in the face of a most powerful opposition; and this opened the door to a train of wonderful events.

He was cast into the den of lions, and miraculously preserved. The king was greatly affected with his wonderful deliverance, and made a decree that, throughout all his empire, men should everywhere fear and tremble before the God of Daniel. How amazing was the influence of one godly ruler! It extended through the vast dominions of the Persian monarch. Was it not then highly suitable such a man should be exalted?

In the improvement of the subject we are led to remark, in the first place, that the rulers of states and nations ought to be governed, in their administration, by Christian benevolence.

Would rulers and potentates of the earth calculate their principles of government upon this perfect scale, making “righteousness the girdle of their loins, and faithfulness the girdle of their reins,” war and shedding blood would universally come to an end. In this way we are to expect the introduction of that happy state of the world, so much the subject of prophecy. We are looking for the reign of righteousness and peace on earth. The scriptures point out an approaching period when, in the figurative language of prophecy, “The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf, and the young lion, and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them.” When the “root of Jesse shall stand as an ensign of the people, and his rest shall be glorious,” wars will come to an end, the world be filled with the knowledge and love of God, and the peaceful reign of Christ extend over the whole earth.

This happy state of the world will not supersede the necessity of rulers. There is subordination among the glorious inhabitants of heaven; and this will exist in the most perfect state of society on earth. God will, probably, introduce this happy state of the world by inclining the people, universally, to promote godly men to office. Such characters will make Christian benevolence the rule of their administration, and so peace will prevail through the world. In this way kings will become nursing fathers, and queens nursing mothers. At that period demagogues and tyrants will either be converted to the feelings of the humble followers of Jesus, or be sent to that place where there will be full scope for their selfish, turbulent, aspiring dispositions, under their prime leader, the first apostate, to all eternity.

2. The subject leads to remark that the public interest is greatly endangered by the promotion of bad men. It is an aphorism of eternal truth that “The wicked walk on every side, when the vilest men are exalted. 10 Under the administration of unprincipled, vicious men, the enemies of God will hold up their heads, and become bold in sin. Having the countenance of great names they feel easy in crimes that debase human nature, and expose them to the wrath of God forever. Man has a natural inclination to sin, and is, in many instances, deterred from it only by the dread of public odium. Let this dread be removed by the example of great men in office, and iniquity is committed with greediness. It is almost as fatal to the morals of a country as to establish iniquity by law. There have been attempts to persuade the good citizens of this country that incorrect moral sentiments, or vicious characters, are no bar to the first offices. It has been said with great assurance, and as much impudence, that sentiment and moral character form no part of the qualities of a civil ruler;–that a man may be a wise statesman, and a good ruler, who worships any God, or no God. This idea, the child of Satan, by the infamous prostitute impiety, has too far obtained credit, and the evil is now visible. Infidelity is countenanced, iniquity hath increased, the accursed demon of discord stalks, in triumph, through the land, and our country is driven to her wits end. The morals of a country cannot be endangered by anything more than the promotion of unprincipled and vicious men. A nation of infidels, never did, never can, prosper.

It is of incalculable importance to guard the principles, and secure the morals of our youth. Were the system of education suited to the feelings of such as wish to encourage infidelity and licentiousness, a few revolving seasons would produce a total change in the moral complexion of this state. Too much caution cannot be used to guard the rising hope of our land against those demoralizing principles that have buried in ruins the liberties of other countries. The fairest portion of Europe is now held up, as a beacon, to warn us of our danger. If we are ever caught, completely in the vortex, we shall be hurried down into the great deep of political and moral wretchedness; for we shall then have men to rule over us who have the “teeth of a lion, and the cheek-teeth of a great lion!”

When the sentiment becomes general that infidels and debauchees are as good characters to rule over men as virtuous believers in Jesus, we may bid farewell to liberty, and our highly valued privileges. We may then cry, with tears of lamentation, O Connecticut, hadst thou known, even thou, in this thy day, the things that belong unto thy prosperity! But now they are hid from thine eyes! For an Ichabod will, certainly, be inscribed upon the fair inheritance transmitted by our worthy, departed ancestors. Of such rulers every good and well informed citizen will say, O my soul, come not thou into their secrets; unto their assembly, mine honor, be not thou united!

3. The subject presents a serious idea respecting the subordinate civil officers of the state. Is it not vastly important that men of an excellent spirit should fill those offices? Much depends, let the speaker modestly observe, upon the execution of the salutary laws of the state. If no notice be taken of the open violation of law it sinks the dignity of authority, detracts from the importance and solemnity of an oath, and paralyzes the arm of government. We depend on the ministers of justice not only to protect us in the quiet enjoyment of our civil rights, but to encourage the moral interest of the state. And how can this be done while the penal statutes are not put in force? Solomon pertinently observes, “Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily; therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil. 11

As a mark of public indignation, and a terror to men, certain crimes are to be corrected by force of law. By this criminals may be reformed, and their families saved from wretchedness and woe. Were the laws against tipling houses and drunkenness rigidly executed, how many miserable wretches might be saved from perdition; how many wives from unspeakable distress; and what great numbers of miserable children from hunger and rags?—Was every instance of open profanity punished to the extent of law, our ears would not, so often, be offended by the sacrilegious abuse of the awful name of Jehovah.—Were exertions made by the united force of the civil powers to suppress the growing violation of God’s holy day, we should not, every Sabbath, be disturbed by the noise of travelling, on common business, or for the purpose of amusement. Yea, we should not, as is common, see men laboring in the field, on the Lord’s day. Let the speaker unite his feeble voice, with the loud cry of many, from various parts of our land, for some vigorous exertions to check the growing evil. Let not practical godliness, by consent of authority, be driven from our country. Oh, let not our children be taught to forget the Sabbath, when we are in the dust! The correction of these evils depends much on the fidelity of the ministers of justice.

Let me, furthermore, observe with great deference to the constituted authorities of the State, that legislators have, in our subject, a noble pattern for imitation.

Daniel was elevated to office “because an excellent spirit was in him.” The character of that man of God affords to the chief magistrate, and legislative authority of every grade, a most excellent example. They are to seek the public good by enacting salutary laws, and appointing faithful men to execute them. While they guard and support our literary institutions, encourage the means of education for children, and take effectual measures to suppress vice, and secure the morals of the rising generation; they are eminently promoting the political and moral interest of the state. By a cordial affection for the founder of Christianity, with an open defence, and practical support of his holy religion, they become the “ministers of God for good unto the people.” Like Daniel they love the true God, and like him will risk everything for his honor.—This may excite the opposition of turbulent spirits, and produce vollies of slander from them that have “not known the way of peace.” If the whole force of a numerous herd of evil counselors was brought into action against such an “excellent spirit” as Daniel, can faithful men escape? The loud “hosanna to the son of David,” sounding from the multitude, when Jesus entered Jerusalem, was soon changed to the cry of “away with him from the earth—let him be crucified.” The shafts of malice have ever been thrown at the faithful. But they rarely make a deep wound. The great mind looks down with a dignified indifference, and says with an Apostle, None of these things move me. Under the trials of this kind there is nothing will so animate and support the faithful servants of the public as a consciousness of integrity towards God, and fidelity to the public interest. Neither cast down by the obloquy of invidious tongues, nor elated by the praises of flattering sycophants, they may enjoy the sweets of a peaceful conscience, and joyfully expect the final approbation of a merciful God. While such a course will render them eminently useful, it will give them peace in the hour of serious reflection, console them at the approach of dissolution, insure them acquittance at the final judgment, and exalt them to the state of “kings and priests unto God and the Lamb.”

Relying on the candor and patience of this respectable assembly, I observe further, that the ministers of religion are seriously reminded of the obligation to fidelity in the duties of their office. Influenced by the “excellent spirit” of Daniel we are to aim at the honor of God, and the good of our fellow men. To answer these important ends we are to enforce the doctrines of the cross, and persuade men to become reconciled to God. It is a high commendation of the religion we preach, that such as cordially embrace it become good members of society. The best citizens in every country, where the banner of the cross has been displayed, are those who cordially embrace the religion of Jesus. This holy religion transforms the prowling wolf to an inoffensive lamb, and changes the ravening leopard to a gentle kid.—Wherever Christianity has prevailed it has always ameliorated the state of society. The most barbarous and savage customs have been exchanged for the peaceful habits of piety and love. Instead of the barbarity of the untutored savage we find the kind hospitality of the good Samaritan. While this wipes away the scandal of the cross, it highly commends the religion of the lowly Jesus. And it shows the excellency and importance of those institutions for spreading the knowledge of Christianity, and the dissemination of the word of God, which the faithful ministers of the gospel in all Christian countries encourage and support. How benevolent, how godlike, to put the word of life into the hands of the poor, and extend the religion of Christ even to foreign climes! And how animating the idea that the “sun of righteousness” is about to arise upon the heathen world, “with healing in his wings,” and with divine light overspread the dark regions of the globe! The morning star has actually risen. Light springs up in the east, and the long expected day is ushering in. Many of our fellow-servants begin to “run to and fro” to carry the glad tidings of salvation to the perishing heathen. Christian knowledge is overspreading the pagan world, and multitudes are bowing to Jesus in those places that have been eminently “the habitations of cruelty.”

Instead of disturbers of the public peace, then, and “those that have turned the world upside down,” 12 as the enemies of the cross invidiously represent us, we are the highly favored instruments of great good to our fellow sinners. The sum of our teaching is that men must fear God, love Jesus and one another, obey rulers, and seek the good of civil society. While, therefore, we are teaching men to be good citizens, we are leading them to comfort and peace on earth, and eternal blessedness in heaven. This may support us under all the burdens of the way. We shall reap in due time if we faint not.

This anniversary points us to the close of our ministry. How short the period since we were assembled in this house on a similar occasion! We are borne, imperceptibly, down the stream of life. How many of our fellow-citizens who were here one year ago will be here no more! The end of our labors approaches with unabating—yea, I had almost said, with increased rapidity. The death of five of our fellow-servants the year past, calls us to keep in mind the account we must render of our stewardship. 13 They have finished their course, and are gone, we hope, from long and eminent usefulness, to the rewards of the faithful. A loud call this to increased fidelity in the service of our master. And to this there are many and powerful motives. The honor of the glorious Redeemer—the good of civil society—the salvation of immortal souls, and a bright crown of glory to ourselves:–These are motives to diligence and fidelity in the work assigned us. Though briars and thorns may be in our path, yet if we run well we shall obtain the prize. The devil may possibly cast some of us into prison, and we may have tribulation ten days, yet “He that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks,” hath said, “Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.” 14

Finally. The citizens, at large, may draw instruction from our subject. If such be the character of a good ruler, and so important the benefits of his administration, then a wise people will feel their dependence upon God for good rulers. And in electing to office they will be influenced by the fear of God, and a regard to the public interest. By a wise election of good and faithful men to the first offices, we have been, hitherto, preserved. We hold an elevated rank in point of privileges, and have abundant cause of gratitude that we have our judges as at the first, and our counselors as at the beginning. That Connecticut may never be destitute of men of ‘an excellent spirit,’ to fill the first offices, will be the devout wish and the earnest prayer of every wise and virtuous citizen.

While the good people of the state are sensible of their invaluable privileges, may they have wisdom and firmness to defend them. May they, above all, and first of all, choose the fear of God, cordially embracing the gospel of his Son. While such a course will afford them the best security for the continuance of their civil rights, it will present a safe barrier against the terrors of death, and prepare them for the beatific joys of saints and angels above.

Ere long, my fellow-citizens, we shall be, either suffering those horrors which are the certain consequences of immoral sentiments and corrupt manners; or, joyfully, reaping the rewards of a life devoted to God, and the good of men. Such as view these things in the light of revelation, seriously anticipate the awful solemnities of the period when God our Saviour will come down to judge the world. In the grand assembly that will stand before the son of man we, of this congregation, shall not be indifferent spectators. We shall feel an interest in the transactions of that day vast as the infinite value of the soul; solemn as eternity! The once despised man of Nazareth, arrayed in the awful glory of the supreme God, will address those who have received the atonement by faith, and humbly served him here, with a “Come ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” But such as have despised his truth, and rejected the offers of life, he will doom to the regions of darkness and interminable despair.

Let us then, my fellow sinners, feel the force of these interesting realities, knowing that Now is the accepted time; behold now is the day of salvation! And when the Lord Jesus shall give to every man according as his work hath been, may we, through his abounding grace, have a seat among the shining ranks in glory, and celebrate the praises of God our Saviour, forever and ever.

Amen.

 


Endnotes

1. Dan. iv.17.

2. Dan. i. 3, 4, 5, 6.

3. Dan. i. 20.

4. James ii. 19.

5. Rev. xiv. 10.

6. Goldsmith’s history of Greece, Vol. 2. P. 10.

7. The first constitution of government for Connecticut, was agreed on, and adopted, by all the free planters, convened at Hartford, Jan. 14, 1639. Trumbull’s Hist. of Con. P. 95.

8. Governor Haynes was elected on the second Thursday in April, A.D. 1639. Trumbull’s Hist. of Con.

9. When this discourse was penned, the writer could not foresee that the worthy character alluded to in this paragraph would be present, otherwise his delicacy might not have been put to the severe test which the delivery of it may have occasioned. It was also confidently expected that the present excellent chief magistrate, for whom the writer has a high respect, would be at the head of the assembly, which is the only reason for not particularly naming governor Griswold in the list of the first political luminaries of Connecticut.

10. Psalm xii 8.

11. Ecclesiastes viii. 11.

12. Acts xvii. 6.

13. Rev. Noah Williston, of West-Haven, AEtat. 85.; Rev. Joel Bordwell, of Kent, AEtat. 80.; Rev. Cyprian Strong, D. D. of Chatham, AEtat. 67; Rev. John Gurley, of Exeter, in Lebanon, AEtat. 64.; Rev. David Huntington, of Lyme, AEtat 70.

14. Rev. ii. 10.

Sermon – Election – 1811, New Hampshire


This election sermon was preached by Rev. Thomas Beede in New Hampshire on June 6, 1811.


sermon-election-1811-new-hampshire

A

SERMON,

PREACHED AT CONCORD,

BEFORE

HIS EXCELLENCY THE GOVERNOR,

THE HONORABLE COUNCIL,

SENATE, AND

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

OF THE

STATE OF NEW HAMPSHIRE,

JUNE 6, 1811.

BY THOMAS BEEDE, A. M.
PASTOR OF THE CHURCH IN WILTON.

STATE OF NEW HAMPSHIRE.

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
JUNE 6. 1811.

VOTED, That Messrs. MORRIL, WILSON and HARRIS, with such as the Senate may join, be a Committee to wait upon the Rev. THOMAS BEEDE, and present him with the thanks of the Legislature for the ingenious and patriotic discourse this day delivered before His Excellency the Governor, the Honorable the Council, and both branches of the Legislature, and request a copy for the press; and make report.

Sent up for concurrence.
CLEMENT STORER, Speaker

IN SENATE – SAME DAY
READ and concurred. Mr. HAM joined.
P. C. FARNUM, Assistant Clerk.

SERMON.

JOHN VII. 48.

HAVE ANY OF THE RULERS OR OF THE PHARISEES BELIEVED ON HIM?

The manner of this question evidently implies a negative answer, and is expressive of that pride and prejudice which marked the characters of distinguished men in the days of our Saviour. At this time the rulers, Pharisees and scribes arrogated to themselves the sole right of judgment and conscience. Their opinion must be held up as the standard of truth, and if the lower class of people differed from them in construing the law, they were deemed accursed.

When the words of the text were uttered, the Jewish nation had just been engaged in the solemnities of the feast of tabernacles. In the great and last day of that feast, as their custom was, they had been praying with increased earnestness for the coming of the promised Messiah. The priests had poured out their wonted libations upon the altar, and the people had chanted the cheering lay of the prophet, “with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation.” 1 Isa. xii. 3. While these things were doing midst, and opened declared himself to be the Messiah, for whom they prayed, and with a loud voice stood and cried, “If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink.” At these words there was a division among the people. Some, from the extraordinary things they saw and heard, believed him to be the prophet, the forerunner of Christ. Others, from a consideration of the miracles he wrought, were ready to conclude, that he was the Christ himself. A third party objected on account of the place of his birth. As he came from the town of Galilee, they, without making due inquiry, supposed this was the place of his nativity : whereas they knew according to the prophecy of Micah, (v. 2) that the true Messiah was to proceed from Bethlehem Ephratah, where David dwelt; so there were diverse opinions among the people concerning him. In the mean time the chief priests and Pharisees, remaining obstinately fixed in unbelief, dispatched officers to take him by force, and bring him before them. But the officers, when they came to him, where so melted at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth, that they had not courage enough to lay upon him the hands of violence; so they returned without him; and, when interrogated in regard to their conduct by those who sent them, they made no vain excuses to justify themselves, but frankly confessed the truth; “Never man spake like this man.” “Then answered them the Pharisees, are ye also deceived? Have any of the rulers, or the Pharisees believed on him? But his people who knoweth not the law are cursed.”

How pitifully were these vain mortals puffed up with the pride of earthly distinction! Because they were Pharisees, i. e. separated as the word imports; because they fasted often, and made long ostentatious prayers, their persons must be had in admiration, as men of superior wisdom and sanctity. Because they made broad their phylacteries, or parchments (on which were written several passages of the law) and enlarged the borders of their garments as badges of distinction, they must be hailed as the only true judges of religion, and the sovereign dictators of faith and worship.

A further consideration of Christ’s principal opposers the reasons of their opposition, together with a few of some of the most prominent features of the religion he taught, will now follow.

The miracles of Jesus had been wrought openly in testimony of his divine authority; the scripture prophecies were fulfilled in him; he was born in Bethlehem of Judea, the very place designated by the prophet; and those who candidly listened to his instructions were “astonished at his doctrine, for he taught as one that had authority and not as the scribes.” But these circumstances had no weight on the minds of the Jewish leaders.

The benevolent Jesus preached the gospel to the poor, and the common people heard him gladly; but the chief priests, Pharisees and rulers, on most occasions, used all their authority and influence to destroy both him and his religion; and whenever they failed to put their malicious intentions into effect, it was because they “feared the people.” – If, toward the close of the Saviour’s sufferings, the common people took a leading part and appeared foremost in the persecution – if they cried out “Away with him, away with him, crucify him, crucify him,” it was because their minds were infatuated by the evil insinuations of a corrupt authority.

The same observation will hold true in regard to other nations as well as Jews. It may be seen in the history of the church, that for centuries after the Jewish polity was overthrown, the religion of Jesus found its most violent and successful opposers among characters of distinction – among the priests, rulers, and philosophers of pagan nations. These were the principalities and powers, which the holy confessors and martyrs of old had to encounter and from whose cruel hands they received the most rigorous and painful punishments.

In modern times the rage of religious persecution has abated. The ferocious passions in this respect are in some degree softened. Men do not trouble themselves now a days so much about religion, as they do about riches and honor. But still Christianity has its opposers, though the mode of opposition is altered. It is now opposed by sophistry, wit, ridicule, and by the sarcastic sneers of men who value themselves for learning, rank and influence in the world; and sometimes also by a tactic denial of the world; and sometimes also by a tactic denial of the faith where men brand the doctrine and institutions of Christ with infamy, by passing them over in silent contempt.

Will any ask a reason for such conduct? It is easily given. Men are naturally proud and selfish, and while the heart remains unsanctified, human promotion serves to nourish and strengthen these roots of bitterness. This being the case, the meek and lowly appearance of the “Son of man” disappoints their expectations, and the purity of his doctrine but ill accords with their feelings. They find nothing in the Christian system, calculated to flatter their pride, or gratify their avaricious desires; but “the axe is laid at the root of the tree;” everything that exalteth itself with vain glory is cut down; every sordid affection is designated for destruction. Another reason is, their “deeds are evil,” and Christianity brings them to light and demands repentance. They therefore hate that light which “maketh manifest,” which discovers the hidden things of darkness, and obliges them to acknowledge they have been in the wrong.

It is no wonder that such a proud and wicked ruler, as Herod should be exasperated, when a holy man preached a doctrine, which pointed particularly at him, and exposed the vileness of his incestuous connection. It is no wonder that the self righteous Pharisees should be provoked, when, contrary to all their preconceived opinions, a man of no worldly rank or distinction preached a doctrine, which unfolded their price, hypocrisy, and oppression, and tended to destroy that influence among the people, which they had unjustly gained. It is no wonder that men of worldly wisdom everywhere, especially those who are vainly puffed up on account of their abilities acquirements or stations, should be opposed to that religion, which, morally speaking, reduces them to a level with other men; which requires them to “forsake all and follow Christ;” which requires “faith that works by love,” and expressly declares, “Except a man be born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Such doctrine is killing to human pride, and the exalted heart, which is ever blinded with prejudice and grown to the world will resist it and avoid the evidence, which may be brought in its support.

These are the true reasons, we believe for the opposition, which has been maintained against the Christian religion ever since it was first preached. That it has been treated and rejected as “a cunningly devised fable,” is not owing to any deficiency of evidence to prove its divine original; but it is because men, whose “hearts are waxed gross, whose ears are dull of hearing, and whose eyes are closed against the truth,” have refused to give the offered evidence a diligent and careful examination. – Those who believe not, therefore, “in the name of the only begotten Son of god are condemned already; and this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light left his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest that they are wrought in God.” John iii. 18, 21.

Let us now proceed to a view of Christianity with regard to the doctrine it inculcates; and in this view what shall we find to condemn? It is not contradictory to reason, however it may rise above it. In a revealed religion there may be some things beyond our weak comprehension; things which we cannot account for in this imperfect state. And this is no more strange in the volume of revelation, than in the volume of nature. If a philosopher cannot tell why one body attracts another; if he cannot tell why the magnetic fluid circulates, or why the needle of a compass proves true to its pole; he will not say that his reason is contradicted, because it is out-done. He will have no cause to deny the proposition, because he is obliged to resolve it into the mighty power of God.

So the Christian believer, if he cannot investigate the cause of moral evil, or let why it was infused into this world; if he cannot fully explain the doctrine of the Trinity, or tell why God should have sinners through the sufferings of his Son, will not say that these doctrines are contradictory to reason, though every faculty of our reason, when employed upon them, be confounded. Our not being able, therefore, to comprehend what, in its own nature is mysterious, is the thing and the contradiction of reason is another, entirely different.

But, in regard to the practical doctrine of the gospel, it is not enveloped in mystery. It is reduced to a level with the meanest capacity, so that he who “runs may read,” and know his duty and perceive the reasonable ness of it.

Will not reason itself allow, that creatures, who are dependent on their Creator for existence and happiness, do rightfully owe him their supreme affection, and most cheerful service? Will it not allow, that the “royal law,” “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself,” is fit and right that it is every way adapted to our social capacity, and as such ought to be regarded? And these two things contain a summary of Christ’s moral precepts.

But it will be asked, if reason teaches such good doctrine, what need of revelation? Why did the Son of God humble himself to visit the world, and introduce a system of religion, when the world by the wisdom of its own reason could have done just as well without it? In answer to such questions, it should be observed, that unassisted reason, however perfect, should be observed, that unassisted reason however perfect, never invented such doctrine; it came by revelation, and all that reason has to do in the case is to approve of it, when brought from heaven to men and its purity and fitness are rendered visible by divine teaching.

Reason is the gift of God. It elevates man above the brute, and when rightly direction, constitutes the glory of his nature. It is, therefore, not to be despised, nor in the smallest degree depreciated. But by reason alone, though mankind are naturally prone to some kind of religion, they have never been able to invent or compose a religious system either consistent in itself, or adapted to the circumstances of fallen human nature. Among the wisest of the heathen nations, where reason had all the assistance of the arts and sciences it is notorious, that their religion was filled with the grossest superstition, impurity and folly. It was not calculated to make them wiser or better, but rather to debase the noblest faculties of the soul, and increase the depravity of the heart. Systems of religion, which absurdly acknowledge a multiplicity of deities, admitted human victims for sacrifice, ascribed the vilest lusts, as attributes of some of their principal gods; which required worship to birds, beasts and creeping thing, as well as to silver and gold and wood, the molten and carved works of men’s hands, were among the miserable establishments of the heathens, who by their wisdom knew not God, and had nothing but reason and philosophy, or the light of nature for their light.

It is true indeed that some individuals among the heathens were more correct in their notions about virtue and religion; they were more correct in their ideas of God and the great duty of man; and, could they have reduced their principles to general practice, they might have done good in reforming the world. But it was the misfortune of these wise moralists to be unable to carry anything into general effect. If they had any thing in their systems, which favored of pure divinity or morality we have substantial reason to believe that they were indebted to revelation for it, through the medium of tradition. 2 But unaccompanied with the powerful influences of the Holy Spirit, with all their wisdom, philosophy and tradition, they were unable to convert a single town or village, much less to reform the whole world. If the writings of the heathens were correct in some things; yet they were ever found deficient in matters of the greatest importance. With all the light they had, they were in darkness in regard to the forgiveness of sin, the resurrection of the dead, and the life everlasting. Some of them hoped for these things, but they had nothing to make them certain.

It was reserved for the religion of Christ, accompanied with the outpouring of God’s spirit to convince the world of sin, of righteousness and of judgment;” – to proclaim “liberty to captives, the recovering of sight to the blind,” and to give substantial “rest to the weary and heavy laden.” I t was reserved for the religion of Christ to open “a fountain for the guilty and unclean to wash in,” and to make it certain that the dead shall be raised from their slumber; that this “mortal shall put on immortality;” that “this corruptible shall put on incorruption;” that “death shall be swallowed up of victory;” that “the wicked shall depart accursed into everlasting punishment;” and that “the righteous with songs and joy shall go away into life eternal.”

When the Lord Jesus came to our world, he found the nations in darkness. Even the house of Israel, to whom were committed the oracles of God, had erred and strayed like lost sheep. Through the unfaithfulness of their teachers and rulers they had received the “commandments of men” for the doctrine of heaven; and the law of God was “made of none effect through their traditions.” The gentiles also, “who did not like to retain God in their knowledge,” were in still greater darkness, being given up to “a reprobate mind and filled with all unrighteousness.” Verily darkness had covered the earth and thick darkness the people, but the sun of righteousness arose with healing in his beams” to give light and joy and peace, to the whole earth. And nothing but an “evil heart of unbelief” has prevented the complete accomplishment of his glorious design.

The gospel of Jesus Christ, wherever preached in its purity, is as “a light shining in a dark place.” It is calculated to inform the understanding and amend the heart; to give us r5ight views of the character of Deity, and of our duty to him, and one another. It proclaims “glory to god in the highest peace on earth, and good will toward men.” It is not unfriendly to right reason, or found philosophy, but encourages both. It gives to reason direction and to philosophy an object. It reproaches only that knowledge, which “puffeth up;” but the knowledge, which is tempered with the edifying grace of charity, it always cultivates and cherishes. Whatever increases true wisdom, or aids the cause of justice and philanthropy; whatever renders men industrious, honest and amiable; whatever produces “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance;” whatever promotes the true dignity of human nature and fortifies the heart for every trial in this life, and directs the immortal soul to abodes of eternal rest in heaven, belongs to the province of Christianity.

It now remains to make some observat6ions and address suited to the subject and the occasion.

1. We may observe, that true believers in Christ have advantage every way. They have a perfect system of moral government, and a sure foundation of their hope; and in every condition of life, whether prosperous or adverse, their faith affords them direction and comfort. If in this world they are poor; yet they have a confident hope that they are “right toward God;” that they have “treasure in heaven,” “a good foundation against the time to come;” that they shall soon be in possession of “an inheritance, incorruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth not away.” If they are blest with riches, they know how to use and distribute them to the glory of God, and the benefit of society. The gospel of Christ, which they have adopted by faith as a rule of life, instructs them how to “make friends of the mammon of unrighteousness, who will receive them into everlasting habitations.” If they are promoted to the splendor of earthly dignity they know the hand of providence is in it; and in this condition, that it becomes their duty to cause “their light to shine before others, so that others seeing their good works may glorify their Father in heaven,” by imitating a pious and virtuous example. And, when the glare of earthly grandeur is about to be lost in the obscurity of the grave, they have a well grounded expectation that they shall be made “kings and priests to God;” that they shall receive “a crown of righteousness,” and shine, as stars, forever in the kingdom of glory. If they are oppressed with affliction, they are not forsaken. They have then a reconciled Father, an Almighty Friend, to whom they may safely and successfully open their hearts. He hears the afflicted when they pray. His grace is ever sufficient for all those who put their trust in him, and call on him in the day of troubled. Even if they be deprived of all earthly distinction and comfort, and obliged to drag out their lives in servitude and wretchedness, yet they have this for their consolation, that the great and faithful shepherd, in whom they believe and trust, “knows his sheep, calls them by name;” that “none is able to pluck them out of his hand;” that he will “raise them up at the last day,” and present them with all the liberties and privileges of the sons of God. And in the mean time they comfort themselves with the belief that the angels of God, as ministering spirits, do attend them by day and by night, as they do all the heirs of salvation. Though they be servants of the lowest grade, yet they are consoled with the assurance, that they are more royally attended than the mightiest of ungodly men.” Whereas, on the other hand, those, who oppose “an evil heart of unbelief” to the doctrine of the gospel, do evidently deprive themselves of the best directions and solaces in this world; and, by renouncing the name of Jesus, the only name given under heaven among men, whereby they can be saved, they cut themselves off from all hope, except a presumptive hope, of happiness in a future state.

2. In adopting the gospel of Christ, as a rule of life, there is safety. It can do no man any injury to “live soberly, righteously and godly” according to gospel rules, even if what we deem “the grace of God in Christ Jesus,” should eventually prove all delusion. To “render honor to whom honor is due;” to “follow peace with all men and holiness;” to “deal justly, love mercy and walk humbly with the Lord our God;” to “lead quiet and peaceable lives in all godliness and honesty;” to “love the Lord our God with all our heart” and to “love our neighbor as ourselves,” can never abridge our happiness in this world, but will greatly promote it.

3. It is the part of good policy to encourage the Christian faith. Human laws, let them be ever so perfect, can be executed only on conviction of actual transgression, but cannot reach the heart; they cannot alter the dispositions of men, or sanctify their affections. Such is the subtlety of worldly wisdom, that the lawless and disobedient will find frequent opportunities to elude the vigilance of the magistrate, and practice according to the corrupt “desires of the flesh and of the mind” with impunity. But the principles of Christianity, implanted in the heart, bow the will, change the desires, and purify the dispositions of men. The true believer in Christ knows, that he is religiously about to respect human authority, because it is of divine appointment; that he must “submit to every (reasonable and consistent) ordinance of man, for the Lord’s sake; whether it be to the king as supreme, or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evil doers, and for the praise of them that do well.” He knows also that he must not “speak evil of dignities;” that he must “bridle the tongue,” and “keep the whole body in subjection.” He knows that the gospel renders him accountable to the Judge of all the earth, for the opinions he forms and the thoughts he cherishes as well as for the practice he exhibits. He is sensible that there is One, who seeth in secret, who will reward openly; that he is answerable to God for what can not be punished by human laws – for pride, self conceit, envy, malice, covetousness, and the like. These mischievous passions affections, before they are made visible by overt acts, are not punishable by human laws; but the law of Christ takes notice of them. He, who has “all power in heaven and earth,” knows the hearts of men and will deal with them according to their prevailing desires and intentions. The believer, belong convinced of this, uses all diligence to govern himself accordingly.

In order, therefore, to make men virtuous citizens; to render them peaceable and obedient subjects, they should be encouraged, by all suitable means, to become the subjects of that regenerating faith, which produces “a new creature;” which molds and fashions the whole soul according to “that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”

4. We observe, that it is eminently the duty of civil rulers and distinguished characters to encourage the Christian faith; because they have the most influence. They are placed in a situation, where they can do more good, or more injury to the community than any others; and their rank and influence should be engaged on the side of virtue; should ever be employed in consulting and promoting the public welfare.

The history of the Jews renders it certain, that the prosperity and adversity, which that nation alternately experienced, were in proportion to the virtue and vice of its rulers and leading men. When these “feared God and wrought righteousness,” they influenced the generality of the people, at least, to do well, and prepared them for a blessing; and, on the contrary when these distinguished persons cast off all religious restraints, they influenced the people to do wickedly, and thereby fitted them for desolating judgments. We are particularly assured that the last dreadful calamities, which befell that devoted nation, happened in consequence of willfully rejecting the Christian religion, and murdering its founder. When “by wicked hands they crucified the Lord of glory,” they sealed their own destruction. They nailed their exalted privileges to the same accursed tree, on which their Messiah was executed, and thus prepared themselves for utter dispersion and alienation.

By such examples the “ministers of God for good” should be instructed, and admonished of their duty. They should remember, that the Christian faith is the best support of their own authority, and the only sure foundation of the public virtue and welfare. If it be said that he work of religion is the Lord’s that “he works in men both to will and to do of his own good pleasure;” yet it should be remembered, though he work in them, he never the less works by them, as his instruments; and “to whom much is given much will be required.” Blessed are they, therefore, who, under a sense of duty, cheerfully cooperate with the “Lord of lords and King of kings” in promoting the great and benevolent designs of his providence.

But, it will be asked, by what methods civil rulers shall encourage the religion of Christ? Shall they officiously interfere in matters of conscience, and in their zeal for the faith, become the persecutors of their subjects? Or shall they bring forward measures for the benefit of a particular sect, which will prove oppressive to other peaceable worshippers, who have an equal right to their religious opinions? By no means. We contend not for intolerance, persecution, or oppression. But we would have all in authority express a practical regard for the Christian faith and worship. In their public deliberations, let them piously “ask wisdom of God, who giveth to all liberally, and upbraideth none.” In the laws they enact for the government of the people, let them not only manifest a sacred regard to justice, but let justice itself be tempered with gospel benevolence. In their appointments to subordinate offices, let them lay aside all party views and party feelings, and, “with conscience toward God,” consider their favors on men of undoubted piety, ability, and integrity. And, in their more private walks, let them demonstrate to those about them, that they have a sincere attachments to the Christian faith, by “walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.” By such methods they will act in character, as magistrates, and discharge their duty, as Christians. And while they are a “terror to evil doers,” by the influence of a holy example, they will become “a praise, and encouragement to them, who do well.”

The occasion on which we have assembled, suggests the propriety of a more particular application of our discourse to the respective branches of the Legislature, and the people present.

His Excellency the Governor, after receiving our affectionate salutations, will please to indulge us in a few words expressive of our solicitous concern for his usefulness and happiness.

While you continue in office, Sir, (and, if Providence should smile upon the choice of the people, we trust you will continue in office, at least, during the present year) you are placed in situation of distinguished importance. Many thousands of people fix their eyes on you, as their political father. It is in your power to do them much good, or much injury, according to the measures you may take. We hope, therefore, that the considerations, which have been suggested, relative to the advantage, safety, policy and duty of a practical faith in the religion of Christ, will make a suitable impression on your mind.

A due regard to the principles of the gospel will not only guide you in judgment, but add stability and firmness to your labors and exertions for the public good. And, while it renders you a rich blessing to the people, it will afford peace and satisfaction to your own mind, such peace and satisfaction as you will frequently need. As long as there is evil in the world, the very best of rulers will sometimes meet with ingratitude and abuse; but if you have “faith in a good conscience,” you have inward comfort, which none can take away. The high and mighty Ruler of the universe, from whom you have derive authority to govern, is “the rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” If you aim at fidelity in his service, he will approve the purity of you motives. Though the world condemn, he will justify; and, for your sake, will grant a blessing on the community. We presume not to dictate you in regard to the particular measures you may see fit to adopt, but we steadfastly hope and pray, that you will maintain the faith, you have embraced, “without wavering;” that in all your official conduct you will “hold fast your integrity,” as a Christian ruler; and, by the energy of your own example, you will promote and encourage the gospel of peace among all those, who are subject to your authority.

The members of the honorable Council Senate and House of Representatives will, it is hoped, feel interested in being the subjects of that faith, which hath subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, and turned to slight the armies of aliens. We hail you, legislators, as the guardians of your rights and privileges. And, if guided by those principles of rectitude, which our holy religion establishes, you undertake the management of our public concerns, we shall have no apprehensions of disappointment in the issue.

In regard to the qualifications of civil rulers, good natural and acquired abilities are undoubtedly requisite; they should have penetration and judgment, should have skill to discern and ability to execute. But these qualifications alone are not sufficient to make good rulers. A tyrant may have the best of natural ability improved by all that art can contrive, and still be unfit to be entrusted with the affairs of government; because his object is not to promote the happiness of his subjects, but his own pleasure and aggrandizement. The principles of the religion of Christ, which are embraced by faith in his name, added to knowledge, skill and judgment, are indispensably necessary to the characters of those, who bear rule.

The most civilized nations of the world have nominally declared in favor of the Christian religion. And, no doubt, there are some good Christians among them, who like the “salt of the earth,” scattered through the great mass, keep the rest from putrefying. But where do we find a vein of pure Christianity running throughout the whole political conduct of the same civilized and powerful nations?

When nations trample on the rights of others or lay unjust burdens upon any part of their subjects; when they tax them without representation, or consent, and assume the right to “control them in all cases whatever” contrary to their will, can it be said, that such administration, though carried on by those who have professed the faith corresponds to the justice and benevolence of the gospel?

Or, when an ambitious conqueror usurps a throne, puts a crown upon his own head, establishes a military despotism, and hurls firebrands, arrows and death into all nations, who oppose his universal sway, or who will not tamely become his co-adjustors at his imperial command; can it be said that such a sovereign, let his profession be what it will, has learned the principles, which govern his conduct in the school of Christ?

We hope, gentlemen, by the evil examples of other rulers, both ancient and modern, you will receive lessons of admonition; and, as the representatives of an important section of this Christian republic, you will do honor to the Christian faith by conscienciously consulting the precious interests of your constituents. Beware of pride, beware of covetousness. Let the glory you seek, be the glory of God, and the riches you most anxiously desire, be the riches of his grace. Ever study to please Him, by whom “actions are weighed;” and bear it in your minds, that the religion of Christ, which has been despised by Jewish and pagan pride; which for many ages has borne the sarcastic sneers of mocking infidels, is to be the rule of your public, as well as private conduct; and by your example, is to be recommended to the people of this State, as the only sure guide to virtue and happiness here, and glory, honor and immortality in heaven.

May we now ask this assembly at large, Have ye believed on the Son of God? If so, then “add to your faith virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness and charity. Render honor to whom honor is due. Be of one mind; live in peace, and the God of peace will bless you.” But, if you willfully reject the only appointed methods of grace and salvation, forever and ever” and “hath all power in heaven and in earth.” “If ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins.”

 


Endnotes

1. See an Introduction to the reading of the Holy Scriptures, by Messrs. Beausobre and L’Enfant. Camb. 1779.

2. “Those few pagan philosophers, who believed in one Infinite Mind, borrowed this sentiment, by their own acknowledgment, from eastern tradition. Indeed they could not derive it from artumentation; for whenever they reason from visible effects they always infer a plurality of causes. Whenever they speak of providence, or of religious worship, they refer the one and the other to a multiplicity of gods. If their own wisdom could not fully direct and establish them in the first principle of natural religions; much less could it assure divine pardon and succor, and future everlasting happiness, to conscious guilt and depravity, or even to sincere but defective virtue.”
See Dr. Tappan’s two Sermons on the Beauty and Benefits of the Christian Church, delivered at Plymouth, 1800.