Sermon – Election – 1794, Massachusetts


Samuel Deane (c. 1741-1814) graduated from Harvard in 1760. He was a minister at a church in Falmouth beginning in 1764. Deane preached this election sermon on May 18, 1794 in Massachusetts before Samuel Adams (1722-1803), Signer of the Declaration of Independence, who was the Lieutenant-Governor at that time.


sermon-election-1794-massachusetts

A

SERMON,

PREACHED BEFORE

His Honour SAMUEL ADAMS, Esq.

LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR;

THE HONOURABLE THE

COUNCIL, SENATE,

AND

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

OF THE

COMMONWEALTH OF MASSACHUSETTS,
MAY 28TH, 1794.

BEING THE DAY OF
GENERAL ELECTION.

By SAMUEL DEANE, D. D.
A PASTOR OF THE FIRST CHURCH IN PORTLAND.

AN
ELECTION SERMON.

As we are convened with our civil fathers to pay our religious acknowledgments to the Deity, and to inquire in his temple, the theme for our contemplation, which I have selected from the sacred pages, is this—

PROVERBS III. 6.

IN ALL THY WAYS ACKNOWLEDGE HIM, AND HE SHALL DIRECT THY PATHS.

This respected audience will easily forgive the omission, if they should hear nothing said at this time concerning the necessity, the origin, or the nature of civil government; nor of the particular kind which is most eligible, and most conducive to the happiness of a state or nation: Things which have been often attempted on such occasions, and by those who were thought equal to the undertaking. Neither will it be so requisite to point out those qualifications which the delegated electors ought to regard in those whom they set up as rulers, as in those times when one whole branch of the legislative body were chosen by the assembled representatives, on this anniversary. Accordingly a subject is chosen which does not lead to these things; but to shew the necessity of paying a due regard to the most high God; and which contains an important encouragement to our so doing.

The words ways, and paths, in the text, are easily understood as applied to a man’s conduct in the course of his life; to that of one as much as another, whatever may be his station; so that the administration of the affairs of government is included.

If any such persons can be found, as deny, or disbelieve, the existence of the Divine Being, they are farthest of all men from complying with the duty required in the text. But it may justly be doubted whether any rational human creature has lived and died under such a delusion. The opinion can only be founded in folly. The fool hath said in his heart there is no God; and of such only it is to be expected, who are either naturally wanting in understanding, or who have greatly abused and obscured the light of reason and conscience by sin. For by the things that are made, and must have been created by him, are clearly seen, and understood, his eternal power and Godhead. The existence of things, not eternal nor self-created, must lead us to believe in one who is self-existent, without beginning, and possessed of all perfections.

But the acknowledgment of this truth, That God is, cannot be all, nor the principal thing which is required. For by this the generality of mankind are but little, if at all, distinguished one from another.

The belief of God’s governing providence over all his works is undoubtedly included; and the oral profession of this belief is not excluded. For it would be irrational to suppose that the Almighty Creator of the universe has no governing influence over the work of his own hands.

We do not deny that Omnipotence, directed by infinite wisdom, is equal to the task of making a most huge and complicated machine, which should need no direction, or support, after the original impulse, in order to answer innumerable wise ends in its creation. But that he has done this in the structure of the material universe, it is impossible to prove. Much has been discovered by philosophers, concerning the laws of matter and motion. But the most sagacious theorist could never assign any physical cause of gravitation, which probably pervades all matter, and directs its motions: But have confessed that this universal property, or affection, may be no other than a constant energy of the Supreme Being. If this is the case, or allowed to be so, the reality of a divine providence is not to be denied, or doubted. He that stands at the helm, we may say, directs the ship, and governs its motions.

In language of inspiration, God is said to uphold all things by the word of his power; and without him, it is asserted, that not even a sparrow dies. How much more then must the noblest of his visible creatures, and their affairs, be under his direction? Those creatures of God which are fitted to act morally, from motive and choice, are evidently under his governing influence. This appears from his imposing systems of laws to regulate their conduct; from his promises and threatenings, of rewards to the obedient, and punishments to the rebellious; from the promised assistances of his Holy Spirit, and the ministration of the celestial angels to the heirs of salvation. By the divine agency, either directly or through his instruments, the meek are guided in judgment; and even the hearts of kings, however stubborn, are turned by the Monarch of the universe, as the rivers of water.

And if individual persons are under the divine guidance, the same is surly the case of states and communities, which are composed of individuals. These are equally fit subjects of the divine government, and would be equally unhappy in the want of it. Accordingly we are assured in holy writ, that the kingdom is the Lord’s, and that he is the Governor among the nations. With good reason then do his servants believe in his governing providence, as exercised in this inferior world.

Prayer is also a fit acknowledgment of the Deity. Men should so depend upon the divine influence, and be so affected with a persuasion of it, as to apply to him for guidance, in all their important affairs and transactions. In all thy ways acknowledge him. This will be followed the divine direction in other parts of the sacred volume; and the laudable examples of the devoted servants of God, both in ancient and modern times.

And this seeking to God for direction is not only the duty and privilege of the common people, but more especially of those who are called to guide the state, and administer the great affairs of the public. For these men act not only for themselves, but for the whole community. So that errors in their conduct may be most extensively hurtful and pernicious. And questions come before them in the course of their business, not only of great weight and importance, but often very complicated and perplexed. And as the conscience of a good ruler will now allow him to act and determine by guess, or at random; how great need has he, not only of exerting his own best abilities, but of supplicating the friendly aid of one, in whom are boundless treasures of wisdom and knowledge, and who cannot err in judgment? Every pious ruler is convinced of his need of assistance from on high; and will gladly make use of his privilege to repair to the throne of grace for this favor, in the arduous affairs of government. Moses affords such an example to human governors. He was wont to apply to God for direction, in guiding his refractory people. And Solomon, when a choice of divine favors was offered him, supplicated for wisdom and understanding, to enable him to manage the affairs of his government.

I trust I am not speaking to those who will say in their hearts, What profit shall we have, if we pray unto him? The duty of prayer is not only enjoined repeatedly in the oracles of God; but clearly dictated by the light of nature, as appears from the conduct of the heathen mariners with Jonah. There cannot be a more reasonable service. But for our assurance of gracious answers to our prayers, we are mostly, if not wholly, beholden to divine revelation. By this we learn that God is nigh unto all that call upon him, or invoke him with sincerity; and that, if we implore his aid in cases of difficulty, he will direct our paths.

Though the intention and use of prayer cannot be to inform the omniscient Being of our wants, nor to alter the purposes of our unchangeable benefactor, there is still a connection between asking and receiving his favors. And this devout exercise will happily serve to keep up in our minds a sense of his agency, and of our wants and dependence; and prepare us for the right reception and improvement of what he bestows.

There are many ways in which he can give us assistance and direction, besides doing it by the immediate agency of his Spirit. And his power of doing the latter none will dare to dispute. The almighty agent, who created the human soul, has a more near and immediate access to it than any creature can have; so that he can excite in men such ideas, and lead them into such trains of thought, as shall influence their actions in perfect consistency with their moral agency, an accountableness for their conduct.

But a practical acknowledgment of the Deity includes, also, a profound submission to his authority over us, and a voluntary obedience to his commandments. What will it avail for men to profess that he has in his hands, by right, and in fact, the government of the world, if they oppose their wills and actions to his infinite authority? Or, of what account will be their belief of his existence, so long as they allow themselves to live in practical atheism? It is a very bad character, given of some who profess to know God, that in their works they deny him, being abominable and disobedient, and to every good work reprobate.

This practical acknowledgment of God is the highest interest, and the unquestionable duty of all men. And all the wise and good rejoice in the divine commandments; accounting the service of God as better than freedom; and take delight in conforming themselves to their knowledge of his will, as it is conducive to his honor, and to the restoration and felicity of their lapsed nature. But the impenitent and disobedient disrelish the divine government, placing the most of their happiness in secular and licentious, immoral, and ungodly conduct: And, regardless of the divine forewarnings and threatenings, rush headlong in the way to perdition.

From the doctrines contained in the subject, civil rulers may be led to observe something of the nature of their duty towards God. As men, they are on the same footing as others; equally bound to the acknowledgment of the Deity, in all the ways that are dictated by reason and revelation. They should also remember that, as they are ministers of God, and his representatives, it is of high importance that they be followers of him in all his moral perfections and actions, as far as their ability extends; especially in their conduct towards men. Otherwise they will be unfit to be considered as earthly Gods. They are set in conspicuous places; and have it in their power to be extensively beneficial to mankind, by their pious and virtuous examples. They should not only submit themselves, in all their conduct, to the divine commandments, but exhibit in their lives bright patterns of submission to the good laws of men. If private Christians are sacredly bound to show forth the virtues of him who has called them, and to shine as lights in the world; much more is it requisite in men who are vested with civil authority. For their good examples will be far more influential on mankind, than the examples of those in the lower walks of life. Mankind are ambitious of imitating the conduct of their superiors. And as the talent is given to magistrates, in this way to be public benefactors, they should consider that they must be answerable to the supreme governor, if they are found guilty of the non-improvement of it. For they must be viewed as disregarding the divine authority, unless they comply with this duty; and may justly expect the fate of the unprofitable servant.

They must enact no laws but such as have the public welfare for their object: For God invests them with no authority, but to do good.

But if, instead of practically acknowledging the divine authority over them, they take advantage from their promotion to affront and provoke him, by oppressing the people, or neglecting to serve them; and by wicked examples encourage immorality and ungodliness; what account will they be able to give of themselves to their master in heaven?

Possession of the public power is attended with some peculiar temptations. It enables men, in some cases, to commit wickedness with impunity. Those who hold the reins of government can defraud the innocent of their just dues, and establish iniquity by laws. They can secure to themselves the emoluments of their office, without performing its duties according to the intention, and just expectation of their electors. They have opportunity to influence in the appointment of unfit persons to serve in the judicial and executive departments of government; and to keep out those of better characters, for the sake of bribes, the prospect of advantages to themselves or families, or through prejudice and party spirit. That those who are drawn aside from the path of duty by such sinister motives are unfit for the high employment of legislation, and guiding the affairs of a State, cannot be disputed. Instead of approving themselves as the ministers of God for the good of the people, they may be considered as emissaries of Satan, and scourges of the public. Such men do not acknowledge the divine Being. They are de4stitute of religious reverence towards him; and the language of their conduct is, that they will not have him to reign over them.

Also, the duty of rulers to mankind, and in particular to those who vest them with authority, is deducible from the subject. If they have a due regard to the Deity, they will make use of their power and authority as he requires, no otherwise than to promote the happiness of society. The latter cannot but flow from the former; and where the latter is not, a religious regard to the Deity has no place. For an Apostle of Christ has well said, If a man love not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?

Philanthropy is a Christian virtue of essential importance; and in men of public character it is indispensably requisite to their answering the designs of their appointment. Patriotism is the branch of it which should be a striking trait in their character. The worthy magistrate will therefore bear it in mind that he is put into office to promote the welfare of the community, and of that particular part of which he is strictly a member. This is not only the great design of God, but of man, in his appointment. No free people are supposed to elect a ruler for any different purpose. He will therefore endeavor, in all his official conduct, to promote the public welfare. As a legislator he will give his vote for the enacting of no laws, and the annexing of no sanctions, but such as he is convinced will be conducive to the good of the public, let who will be in favor of them. For though he ought to weigh with candor all that may be said against his opinion, after all he must act according to the dictates of his own reason and conscience. He is principally answerable to God, and to the vicegerent of God in his own bosom.

And as a friend to society, such a ruler will think it of importance to prevent, as far as may be, the intricacy and obscurity in the language of laws, which may render them perplexing and ensnaring to the common people.

In the repealing of laws, he must be actuated by the same conscientious and benevolent principles. And there may be as real occasions for unmaking old, as for making new laws and regulations. By means of changes in the circumstances of a community, those which were once good and necessary may become unfit and inexpedient. And if antiquated and useless laws, or even any which cannot be put into execution, are suffered to stand unrepealed, it may be questioned whether they do not operate to the weakening of the hands of government; or lead subjects to disobey the best laws with hopes of impunity.

The worthy magistrate will be so tender of the public welfare, that he will be careful to inform himself of the true characters of candidates for subordinate offices, knowing that vicious and ungodly men ought never, unless in cases of necessity, to be entrusted with power; lest they should so abuse it as to bring scandal upon government, and mischief upon the people. And being acquainted with their characters, he will not countenance their being put into places of honor or trust; nor will he connive at the continuance of such persons in office. The subordinate officers which Moses was advised to constitute, were not only to be able men, capable of performing the duties of their station, but such as feared God, and were men of truth, hating covetousness.

Good rulers will be actuated by such a care for the happiness of the community, that they will use their wisdom to explore ways and means to alleviate the public burdens, and the hardships which chance to fall upon individuals, or on particular orders of men; impose no burdens without real necessity, for the support of government, for the defense of the State, or the increase of public happiness on the whole. And they will study to call for such contributions only, as can be made in the most easy, peaceable and imperceptible manner.

It may be expected of them that they be encouragers and supporters of the means of education, by good laws, and by such establishments and endowments as appear fit and needful. Especially this will be done by intelligent republican rulers; as on it depend the peace, prosperity, and perpetuity of the State. How easily might an ignorant people be excited by an eloquent demagogue to rebel against such a government, and introduce anarchy, confusion and ruin? How unqualified are such a people to elect able rulers, and such as are fit to be entrusted with authority? They will set up men who are like themselves, through partiality, or ignorance, or from the necessity of the case. And when the blind have blind leaders, all will be confounded together.

It may be said, to the honor of our constitution of government, that civil rulers are happily restrained by it from the abuse of power; and in particular, from interfering with the rights of conscience; prevent their being interrupted in the exercise of their religion; and enable Christian societies to raise contributions among themselves, to serve religious purposes. And if, with political views, they may enforce the support of schools for the instruction of youth, why not that of meetings for the instruction of grown up children in religion and morality, so far as they shall judge it needful to promote the welfare of society? Why not oblige a dishonest person to attend these meetings, of the denomination he prefers, if it were only to prevent his invading the property of his Christian neighbors, while they are at the place of public worship? And why not constrain the profane person to do the same, in hope that he may learn to be afraid of perjury, the practice of which vice would be pernicious to a community, as it would render good government impracticable. All that is indisputably beneficial to society, and consistent with the rights of individuals, is within their line. And good instructions in piety and morality are so evidently of this fort, that they have been adopted by the most applauded of ancient governments.

We rejoice with our honored rulers this day, in the peace, independence, and prosperity of our State and Nation. And we look back with pleasure, and devout gratitude to the Supreme Ruler of events, on the snares which we have escaped. The Lord was on our side, when men rose up against us. As by Moses he delivered his chosen people from Egyptian bondage; so he raised up a leader to our forces, of like wisdom and patriotic zeal, whose name will be equally known to future generations.

Ought we not to be the more sensibly affected with our deliverance, and the obtainment and security of our rights, when we consider with what amazing difficulties a great and powerful nation, in alliance with us, have been struggling, to obtain and secure the same rights, and a free government, of which we are in the peaceable possession? May all their wise designs, and laudable endeavors, be crowned with happy success; and those individuals among them, and nations around them, who have unrighteously opposed their design of reforming their national government, be convinced of the evil of their conduct. Are the governors of that afflicted nation charged with cruelty, on account of the multitude of capital punishments? The blame of this should partly fall on their wicked invaders, whose bloody onsets and insidious intrigues, have encouraged many to engage in insurrections, treasons and rebellions, by which they forfeit their lives. What degrees of lenity might have been exercised towards offenders, consistently with the safety of the State, perhaps it is very difficult for us at this distance to determine. Whilst, as true republicans we cannot but approve their glorious design, we may say they have probably fallen into great errors, in their zealous pursuit of it. Nor is it to be expected that their powers will be in the best manner directed, till they more devoutly acknowledge the government of him who is over all. It was right to reject an absurd species of Christianity; and it is hoped that a better one will be soon adopted.

The union of our States seems to be settled on an immoveable basis; and our rapid increase promises to give us national consequence and respectability. We foresee nothing to prevent it, under the wise conduct of a supreme executive in whom all hearts are united; nor so long as the spirit of mutual condescension is cultivated among the States. The national constitution, so generally approved, may be viewed as a band of that lasting union, which cannot be too zealously cultivated. That saying should not be forgotten, By uniting we stand, by dividing we fall.

This respectable State, in particular, has reason to rejoice in the enjoyment of its rights, and of a happy republican government. Our constitution does honor to its framers; approaches so near to perfection; and has hitherto so well answered the wise purposes of its formation, that it can hardly be thought advisable to put ourselves to the expense and trouble of a revisal. It would be very uncertain whether any real amendment would, on the whole, be obtained.

With pleasure we behold a respectable delegation from the various parts of this extensive Commonwealth, for the purpose of transacting the important public business of the present year. May these chosen patriots be actuated by a noble zeal to promote the public welfare, and may heaven vouchsafe to direct all their steps. May they act in the fear of God, as they are accountable to him for their conduct. For though, on account of their station, they are considered as children of the most high, they shall die like other men; and after death is the judgment.

And here we cannot refrain from condolence with our political fathers on a melancholy event, which has taken place since our last anniversary election; the removal of that distinguished person, and illustrious republican, who has so long sat, and with so much dignity, in the chief seat of government. May his uniform and inextinguishable love of his country, and attachment to the rights of mankind; and not less his regard for the institutions of religion, and friendship to the teachers of it, be remembered, and emulated by those who shall hereafter be called to fill his important station. Long will his philanthropy, generosity and munificence, be had in remembrance. Especially will the numerous partakers of his bounty rise up and call his memory blessed.

We rejoice to see his venerable compatriot now in the place of first magistrate; a gentleman of well known, and long approved ability and virtue; who early took an active part towards the accomplishment of our happy revolution. May the supreme Governor take him into his holy keeping: And, as he will not fail to acknowledge God, so may he be favored with all needful divine direction, in the duties of his arduous office. Having always deserved well of the public, he will experience the most agreeable reward, by having his power of doing good increased. May his life and usefulness be protracted, that he may long rejoice in the gladness of our nation. And in the closing scene may his peaceful conscience anticipate that joyful plaudit, which all the faithful shall receive from the great Judge of the world.

The respected, and much honored gentlemen, who are elected to form the two branches of the legislature, have received a recent testimony of the confidence of the people in their integrity and abilities, which we trust will not be abused nor disappointed. As you are vested with the power of the state, and constituted guardians of its precious rights, your God, your consciences, and your sacred oaths, oblige you to use your best endeavors to promote the political good of this people. Your betrustment is great, and part of your work may be very difficult, at this eventful era, when our affairs are so much embarrassed by means of the war that rages in Europe, and the depredations in the West Indies, by which we greatly suffer. If you find that you need wisdom, you are to ask it of him who is the fountain of it, and answers the prayers of all who acknowledge him aright. In the elections of this day may you be under a divine guidance, and in all the business of your sessions through the year.

Persuaded of the purity of your intentions, the preacher will not presume to be your dictator, in a line that is our of his profession: But would humbly recommend to your paternal attention a few things, which to him appear to be of some political importance.

If practicable, it seems desirable that something may be done towards putting into full execution the law respecting schools; that the rising generation may become possessed of those advantages, which were anxiously desired by the framers of it, and which cannot but be thought important by an enlightened republic. And whether some harmless alteration might not render the law more easy to be enforced, is submitted to your wise consideration.

Our civil fathers will also consider whether the means of defense ought not to be more attended to, than they have hitherto been; as we know not what alarms may come, nor what enemy may next be disposed to invade us – whether military skill should not be more assiduously cultivated – and the militia kept on the most respectable footing, that we may not be wholly unready to repeal an invasion. And whether, in our present aspect of affairs, encouragement should not be afforded to the general government, not only for protecting our navigation and commerce from piratical depredations; but for the speedy erection of forts and batteries on our exposed maritime borders. A little delay, with respect to the last of these objects, may lead to tragical and distressing scenes. What other nation is contented with so defenseless a coast?

Frugality, industry and economy are to be considered as excellent virtues in the inhabitants of any State. For without these no country arrives at opulence; nor without their continuance, will depopulation and wretchedness be prevented, much more are they needful in a young country, with low finances, and which has yet done so little towards providing for the public safety and defense, these virtues are evangelical, as well as political, and essential parts of that righteousness which exalts a nation. The want of them would effectually prevent our growing into that respectability, which we have been fondly anticipating in expectation. But why, in the name of reason, will we keep ourselves low, by eagerly importing and purchasing the trifling manufactures of distant nations? Possibly our political guardians, without the enaction of sumptuary laws, may devise some means to check the rage for foreign superfluities, which is complained of by many as too prevalent, and of a pernicious tendency.

In subserviency to such a design, might not several new manufactories be erected, and fostered by the hand of government, to supply the people, not only with necessary things, but with some that are elegant and ornamental? The natural consequence would be, preventing much of our wealth from taking wing, and flying to the transatlantic regions.

The government in time past has done honor to itself, by their kindness and assistance to the university in this vicinity. You will consider what further help it may need, to continue and increase its importance, and usefulness to the public. 1 And not content, that the central part only of this extensive government should be so well furnished with the means of a liberal education; you cannot be so partial, but that you will be disposed to establish and endow similar seats of learning in the remote parts; that so the inhabitants may not be in danger of losing their republican virtues through lack of knowledge. If the western has been thus favored, why should not the oriental be attended to? Though, while the settlers are mostly emigrants from the older parts of the Commonwealth, a few men of erudition may happen to be found among them; what prospects can we have concerning the next and future generations? The need of erudition seems greater in a region bordering on provinces of Britain, where principles of kingly government prevail; that the corruption and defection of the people may be effectually, and forever prevented.

It is presumed that you need not be reminded to consult the honor and credit of government, by a punctual fulfillment of all the obligations the State is under; and render to all what they have a just right to expect. The speaker dares not affront you so much as to suggest a suspicion that you will take advantage of your high authority to practice iniquity. Christian rulers are not disposed to injure the enemies of the State; how much les its friends and supporters, its servants and defenders? For they will consider that contracts are as much binding in the sight of God, upon States and corporate bodies, as upon individuals; and that no fraudulent Machiavellian policy may be expected to prosper.

The address now turns to my fellow citizens of every rank, who are here assembled. As we wish and pray for the continuance and increase of public prosperity, it is incumbent on us that, regarding the divine authority, we do all in our power to strengthen the hands of the government we are providentially under. It is not enough that we elect wise and faithful men, to conduct the affairs of the public. It becomes us to pay a sacred regard to the laws; so as neither to violate them ourselves, nor encourage others in doing it. Those who offend against the public authority should be rebuked and punished, that others may not dare to follow their example. And no improper fear of being persecuted as informers should deter any from causing offenders against our good government to be detected. If no zeal nor courage were wanting, in giving assistance to the civil power, government would discover its full energy, and happy effects; and comparatively few would be molested in the enjoyment of their rights. It is not the want of good laws, so much as the want of virtue in the subjects to give them force, that occasions our hearing of so many grievances, contentions, and injuries.

That the good laws of the land may be duly regarded, magistrates should be revered and honored. As they are vested with the power, they should be considered as possessors of the dignity and majesty of the State. But, by refusing them due honor, the people dishonor themselves, and contribute to bring the community into contempt.

Complainers and fault-finders, who vent their gall against public characters and measures, should always be discountenanced by every friend to the Republic. For persons should not be hasty in concluding that their rulers have erred in any instance. They should rather consider that the collected wisdom of the State or Nation, and the superior advantages for information, possessed by political assemblies, render it probable that their decisions are more wise and fit than the opinions even of an enlightened individual. But, as all men are liable to err, if our rulers are found to do so, none but peaceable and respectful methods should be used to convince them. As an ecclesiastical elder should be entreated as a parent; so should our political fathers.

Disaffection to government often arises from a sordidly avaricious temper; which makes men backward to pay tribute, according to their ability and the exigencies of the State. How unreasonable and shameful are such a temper and conduct! Is it fit that we should expect to receive for nothing the unspeakable benefits of good government, the security of our liberties, persons and fortunes? Can we wish our rulers to spend their time and attention in the public service, without an adequate reward? Or can we be ready to indulge suspicions that they are too forward to lay burdens upon us, when we know that they themselves bear their proportion of them, according to their several abilities? For so happy is our situation since the revolution, that our rulers, in most cases, cannot oppress us without hurting themselves.

Let us see that we always make the wisest possible use of the power of appointing our own rulers, which the good providence of God has given us; imploring his direction in these matters; and endeavor in all possible ways to advance the public welfare. For by so doing we should remember that we promote our own happiness. All the members partake of the health of the body, political, as well as natural. And that we may not fail of being good subjects, it should be considered that we ought to obey our rulers from a principle of duty to our Almighty Sovereign. For good rulers are ordained by him; and by resisting them we shall oppose the ordinance of God, and expose ourselves to his wrath. It is therefore our duty, our interest, and wisdom, to resolve that we will submit to their laws, that so we may lead quiet and peaceable lives, while we persevere in all godliness and honesty: For this is good, and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior.

Nothing indeed can do more towards the support of government, than the practice of religion and virtue. Were mankind perfect in these things, human government and laws would be rendered useless. So that the more they are practiced, the more easily government will be administered; and the more happy will be the condition of society. Let us then resolve, that, by the help of God, we will thus become benefactors to the public. If this were done by the generality, a blessed reformation would be effected. The blessing of heaven would be upon us, and better times would be experienced than have ever yet been known. Expensive vices would give place to fruitful industry. Rulers and ruled, teachers and private Christians, and all corporations instituted to serve the community, would exert themselves to increase the public happiness. The arts and sciences would flourish, as genius and learning would be encouraged. Agriculture and commerce would be more productive of support and wealth. Manufactures would increase, and arrive to the greatest perfection. The fame of our increasing wealth and happiness would draw multitudes of emigrants from other quarters of the globe, to assist in our improvements, and to participate in our prosperity. Our peace and happiness would exhibit no faint picture of the predicted millennial state, or be the dawn and introduction of it.

Finally. May persons of all denominations be induced, from evangelical motives, to the religious acknowledgment of the Deity, and the practice of universal holiness. Thus, being guided by divine counsel, shall we secure to ourselves his approbation and acceptance, through the Redeemer; which are of infinitely greater consequence to us, than all our terrestrial enjoyments. The fashion of this world is swiftly passing away. All human governments will soon be terminated, and gone forever. The rapid wheels of time are driving us on to our most important state of existence; in which all the godly and virtuous shall live in greater felicity than it is possible at present for us to conceive; a happiness answerable to the desires and capacities of our souls, without alloy, and without end.

 


Endnotes

1. By means of the taking down of one of the buildings, that seat of learning has not been sufficient, for several years past, to lodge all the students. Expense in education is thus increased; and a number of them at present are put to many inconveniences of a remote lodging; where they lose the benefit of the immediate inspection of the governors.

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