The following election sermon was preached by Charles Boardman in New Haven, CT on May 5, 1830.
STATE OF CONNECTICUT,
MAY 5, 1830.
BY CHARLES A. BOARDMAN,
Pastor of the Third Congregational Church in New-Haven.
At a General Assembly of the State of Connecticut, holden at New-Haven in said State, on the first Wednesday of May, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and thirty,
Resolved, That the Hon. William W. Boardman of the Senate, and Joseph N. Clarke, Esq. of the House of Representatives, be a committee to wait upon the Re. Mr. Boardman, and to present to him the thanks of this Assembly for the Sermon delivered before them on Wednesday last, and to request a copy of the same for publication.
A true copy of record,
THOMAS DAY, Secretary.
“And Moses’ father-in-law said unto him, The thing that thou doest is not good. Thou wilt surely wear away, both thou and this people that is with thee: for this thing is too heavy for thee; thou art not able to perform it thyself alone. Hearken now unto my voice, I will give thee counsel, and God shall be with thee: Be thou for the people to God-ward, that thou mayest bring the causes unto God: and thou shalt teach them ordinances and laws, and shalt shew them the way wherein they must walk, and the work that they must do. Moreover, thou shalt provide out of all the people, able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them to be rulers of thousands, and rulers of hundreds, and rulers of tens: and let them judge the people at all seasons: and it shall be, that every great matter they shall bring unto thee; but every small matter they shall judge: so shall it be easier for thyself, and they shall bear the burden with thee. If thou shalt do this thing, and God command thee so, then thou shalt be able to endure, and all this people shall also go to their place in peace.”
The charge committed to Moses at the Exodus, was of great magnitude. He was leading an infant nation, and that the nation upon which the Most High had set his name, out from the grasp of oppression, to the possession of privileges and immunities which would one day manifest to the world, that “they were the seed of the blessed of the Lord, and their offspring with them.” He was to give them laws, adjudicate in all their controversies, and bring them, an united people, into the possession of their promised inheritance. Qualified for the high trust, as he was, both by the excellencies of his mind, and the advantages of a finished education at the Egyptian court, he found himself sinking under the responsibilities and embarrassments of his office, and would doubtless have fallen an early victim to his devotion to the interests committed to his hands, had it not been for the timely suggestion of his father-in-law. This suggestion contains a condensed exhibition of the duties of rulers, and their embarrassments. It was adopted by Moses, approved by God, and produced the happiest results. It is my object to present these topics of thought, in their order. I therefore notice,
I. The general duties of rulers.
Government is obviously an ordinance of God, having for its object the happiness of men. The duties of rulers, therefore, all lie in the creation and appropriate application of the means of advancing and securing this object; involving,
1. The perspicuous definition of the rights and duties of the people; and their protection in the enjoyment of their rights and privileges. Insecurity, oppression and misery, must inevitably result from the neglect, on the part of rulers, of either of these branches of duty. Law must define and protect right, or government inevitably becomes the most powerful engine of corruption and wretchedness to the people. Accordingly, the plan suggested to Moses in the text, and approved of God, embraced distinctly this principle. “And thou shalt teach them ordinances and laws, and shalt show them the way wherein they must walk, and the work that they must do.”
2. It is the duty of rulers, to provide for the education of the people, and to encourage and promote the universal diffusion of knowledge.
Although knowledge is not the “righteousness which exalteth a nation,” it is essential to the production of that righteousness, and to the existence and perpetuity of elevated national character, and happiness. It is true that a nation may become voluptuous in the midst of the glory of its intellectual renown, because a learned aristocracy may exist in the midst of general stupidity, and intellectual debasement; and because, moral depravity may, and, unresisted, will, pervert and prostitute privilege to selfish and vicious gratification. But ignorance is neither “the mother of devotion,” nor security against universal licentiousness. On the contrary, general ignorance constitutes the foundation on which every despotism on earth rests, and opposes one of the most effectual barriers to the progress of holiness and sound morality. Despots so understand this subject, and when they would enslave, the avenues to intellectual improvement are cautiously closed against the mass of the people, and opened only to the favored few; and then “truth falls in the streets, and equity cannot enter.” In this country, where the people are the original depositaries of power, nothing can be more idle, than to expect that any system of legislation can result in the happiness of the people, and the elevation of national character, which overlooks the wide diffusion of knowledge. The resources of a state can never be developed and applied to the augmentation of human happiness, while the mass of the people are shut out from the means of an education, so ample at least, as to qualify them for, and create in them more or less of a taste for reading, and thorough discussion in the different departments of practical writing. There must be therefore, schools and literary institutions of all that diversity of character, and in such numbers, as to place the amount of education just alluded to, within the reach of the great body of the people; or the splendid experiment which we are making of the ability of men to govern themselves, and thus to promote their own happiness, will result not only in our own undoing, but in the disappointment of the hopes of half the world, and the increased rigor of all existing despotisms.
3. The happiness of men as the object of government, makes it the duty of rulers to resist vice, and protect, and give scope to the institutions of religion.
Vice contains in itself the elements of disease and death. Unresisted, it produces the same certain suffering and ruin upon a State, which it inflicts upon its individual votaries. And against its encroachments, in all the forms in which it is tangible to legislative enactment and judicial fidelity, the law must lift up its voice and its penalty. For there is a contagion in vice, and such a wide spread predisposition in men to its contamination, that, without the resistance, and purifying influence of prohibitory enactment, it is resistless and overwhelming. I am not unaware of the power of a sound and healthful public opinion to resist evil. I know that a public opinion, formed under the light and sanctifying influence of the gospel, and modeled by its morality and pervading the mass of the community, can, and will do a thousand fold more to repress and exterminate vice, than all that the civil magistrate can do, by the mere force of law. But it is to be remembered, that such a public opinion does not now exist, and cannot be made to exist, and cannot be made to exist, without the influence of law to create and sustain it. The operation of the laws for the suppression of vice, and the protection of morals, adopted by the Pilgrim Fathers of New-England, has done more than all other causes combined, (with the exception of the gospel of God,) to produce the morality which has been her praise and glory all abroad; and to this hour, we are more indebted to this influence for what remains of healthful public opinion, than to any other cause, the gospel only excepted. True, some of these laws threw strong bands upon the arms of the ungodly; but most of them were the very cords by which the Lord Jesus would bind men to his throne, and an inheritance of light: and it becomes the descendants of this noble race of men, to see to it, that in removing those parts of their scheme of government, which change of circumstances has rendered useless or obnoxious, that they do not “break the bands of Christ asunder, and cast away his cords from us.” For it is vain to expect, that a public opinion which shall resist the encroachment of vice, will long survive the withdrawal of legislative and judicial resistance of the evil. Because, there is a large class of immoralities, and these the most deadly in their influence and ultimate results, to the countenance of which, legislative influence is virtually extended, by failing to array against them the power of law. In this class may be ranked, gaming in all its forms, Sabbath breaking, profanity, and intemperance. Now, had no law existed against these vices, could a public opinion have been formed, which would render the enactment and execution of such statutes now practicable? And what would be the immediate and certain result upon public opinion, of the present repeal of these statutes? Annihilate the protection which legislation has given to the Sabbath, or relax the frown which it has fixed on drunkenness, difficult as that vice is of legal detection, and you have given a governmental influence to corruption, under which a public sentiment would speedily be formed, which would laugh at the impotency of all law, and render useless all the machinery of civil government.
Still, however, the direct resistance of immorality by law, is not all that is needed, to secure the people against influence, or produce the greatest amount of elevation of character and happiness. It will be too late to expect deliverance from corruption and ruin, when the religion of the Bible; the religion which transforms the character of man, and stamps him with the living image of God, has lost its hold upon the hearts and consciences of men. For, then come down upon the land, not infidelity merely, nor heathenism even, but atheism, and the judgments from on high, which are necessary to convince the world that “there is a God in Israel.” And that day of calamity will come, when the gospel and its institutions, and the appropriate means of giving it effect, are prevented from exerting their proper influence. It is from the gospel, therefore, that that strong, redeeming and purifying influence is to come, which must give elevation and stability to the public morality, and dignity and happiness to the nation. But to accomplish these objects, the gospel must have “free course.” With its appropriate institutions, and the means of every character necessary to its application to the “business and bosoms” of the entire community, it must go forth unrestrained by the frown of legislative enactment or example, and unencumbered by legislative favoritism to particular sects. In other words, let the gospel and its institutions be properly upheld by the rulers of the people;–so upheld as never to encroach upon the rights of conscience; never to invade denominational privilege; never to compel men to assume the badge of discipleship, as a test of official qualification; but so upheld by the example of those in high places, and by their adoption of appropriate measures, as to protect the Sabbath from profanation, give unrestrained efficacy to the gospel in the hands of an enlightened and efficient ministry,–room and privilege to charitable and benevolent associations to do their work, and for the church of God to accomplish her high and holy enterprise, under the blessing of the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; and from the mightiness and all pervading nature of this cause, we may expect the perpetuity of our free institutions, the steady advance of national prosperity, and individual elevation and blessedness, and God will look down upon the land with favor, and lay it over with the manifestations of his presence and glory.
II. My second topic of thought is, the embarrassments of rulers. These arise,
1. From the magnitude and complicated nature of the interests committed to their hands.
Amazing interests are involved in the development and application of the intellectual resources of a State. These interests mingle in, and go to form the elements of action, in every department of life, and to an indefinite, but wide extent, modify and control the character and destiny of the State. A particular direction given to education, once bound Europe to the papal throne, and enslaved the minds of three fourths of Christendom, for ages. Under the same influence, France was prepared for the infidelity, and contempt of authority, which overthrew the throne of the monarch, and demolished the altars of God; riveted the chains of her despotism, and in connexion with the awakened wrath of heaven, sent her sons to fatten with their blood the soil of every country of Europe.
Interests of similar magnitude are involved in the development and application of the industry of a State. These too are found spreading themselves over the formation of individual character, and giving to public morality its complexion and its influence. Let the laws of a State and their administration be such, as to hold out but a doubtful security to the rewards of patient general industry, or so foster the spirit of adventure and speculation, as to produce an impression upon the yeomanry of the land, more or less extensively, that adventure is preferable to labor; or that the public scorn attaches to their circumstances or employment, and a mighty spirit, at war with the regular and healthful operations of commerce, is raised up to allure both the young and the old to recklessness and ruin, and to fill the land with idleness and crime.
Of still greater consequence are the interests involved in the morality and religion of a State. These are to give direction to all its physical and intellectual resources; to array against order, hope, and heaven, the intellectual prowess;–the wealth;–the distinction of public favor, and the passions of the State: or, to sanctify them all to the purpose of blessing men and glorifying God. Beside; these are the moving power of all influences;–always operating, always producing results of some specific character, good or evil, which far distant generations are to inherit, and which reach, in a great multitude of instances, into eternity;–to the judgment, and away;–forever,–beyond it.
All these amazing interests, complicated as they are, are committed to the care of rulers. And when it is recollected what tremendous consequences are to follow the neglect, mismanagement or abuse of them, and how easily they may all be sacrificed; how gentle a touch of almost any of the springs which regulate them, may give a wrong direction to the movements of the whole machinery of government, and result in wasting and desolation in time, and woe eternal beyond the grave,–a sober man might well tremble at the thought of assuming even a share in the control of such interests: and such a man must feel embarrassed by the magnitude and intricacy of the work cast upon his hands. For where shall he begin? Shall it be with that class of interests which respect the development of the intellectual resources of the State? By pursuing it under false lights, or with a disproportioned ardor, he may push his favorite object beyond the point of safety, or give it a false, and perhaps fatal direction, and then, he may have touched some hidden “cord of woe,” that, in the language of another, “may vibrate, long after his head is laid in the dust.” What shall he do? Remain himself inactive, in hope to throw the labor and responsibility upon others? That, were to assume a more tremendous responsibility still, that of neglecting interests which suffer as fatally from neglect as from abuse. What shall we do? Follow the mere dictates of his own feelings, without exploring consequences? That, is to abuse public confidence, pervert justice, and trifle, it may be, with everlasting interests, and just before him, is God in judgment on his present conduct!
2. Another source of embarrassment to rulers is, in the nature and power of existing influences, adverse to the advancement of the great interests of the nation.
The very means of becoming great and happy, which God has put into our hands, are capable of a perversion to produce deep and extensive national corruption. Our free institutions may be made the means of corrupting the hearts and the morals of the great mass of the community. Our learning, turned to the advancement of ungodliness, with the power of a free press to give it application and expansion;–our wealth, and the influence of station, either not employed on the side of God and his salvation, or devoted to the cause of irreligion; and our means of reaching the public mind with a pure and vigorous morality, either neglected, or thrown away, would as certainly corrupt the nation, extensively and vitally, as is the connexion between causes and their appropriate effects. From these means of national greatness, there have already come forth powerful opposing influences.
The press is, to an unhappy extent, exerting this influence. While it is true that many, perhaps a majority of the presses of our country, are devoted to the cause of good order, and morality, it is neither to be denied nor concealed, that many of them are exerting their influence in an opposite direction. Some of them, presuming on either the good nature of the community, or the prostration of public principle, unblushingly avow their hostility to the Bible, and evangelical influence in every form, and Bible morality as protected by the existing laws of the land: while others, more insidiously indeed, but with still more effect, are directing their energies to the same great but dreadful object. Now although it be true, that the influence thus exerted to corrupt and destroy, is to a very considerable extent counteracted by the opposing power of a more elevated press, it is both absurd and wicked, to believe and expect that this corrupting influence will produce no destructive results. Neither the entire mass of the community, nor all that portion of it whose influence is most commanding, has reached that point of moral elevation, and quick and delicate moral sensibility, which, as from the touch of pollution, recoils instinctively from all contact with licentiousness, and throws back upon the propagators of its doctrines, the frown and the scorn which neither pride, nor passion, nor the offer of popular favor, nor the endurance of invective, can relax. It is presumption to suppose it. Presses are already scattering over the face of the nation, infidel, irreligious, and atheistical tracts and periodicals; and, they are supported, and are rearing up a generation “of strange children, whose mouth speaketh vanity; and their right hand is a right hand of falsehood,” and whose influence, through the whole extent of its range, is to sweep away “the foundations of many generations.”
Extended, organized resistance to benevolent efforts and institutions, constitutes a powerful opposing cause of national greatness and happiness. That this resistance exists, will not be questioned; nor, that it exists under the form of organized, voluntary associations. It aims to check and retard the progress, if not subvert the foundations of those societies, whose object it is to diffuse more widely the light of the gospel, and to give augmented power to its influence all over the nation, and throughout the globe. And while this resistance to these institutions thus continues, it carries over its hostility to that great standing defence of national morality and blessedness, the Sabbath of the Lord, and pleads at the bar of the national councils for its prostitution by the power of civil enactment. And more than this;–while the godly of every name are pleading for the preserving and sanctifying influence of this holy day, and weeping over the sins of the land, there comes down a voice from high places, rebuking their solicitations with the insidious charge of ecclesiastical ambition, and gravely preaching to them the duty of pious living. All this is not, and cannot be ineffectual. It will, to a greater or less extent, retard the advancement of the public morality, and weaken the only influence, which is infallibly adapted to secure the nation against the corruption and curse of voluptuousness.
Another opposing influence of national elevation and happiness, is found, in the causes in operation to produce diminished patriotism, and disunion.
Some of these causes have just been stated. For, whatever tends to corrupt the public morals, and impair the sense of religious obligation, and weaken the influence of the gospel and its institutions upon the public mind, becomes in the same proportion, a cause of diminishing that love of country, which, fixing its strongest attachments and sympathies on the real and abiding and great interests of that country, imparts to them a paramount importance and value, and draws around them a nation’s prayers, and treasures, and bosoms, and blood, and pours them all down when the perpetuity of these interests demand the sacrifice. Such a patriotism, not only imparts loftiness to a nation’s glory, and invincibility to its defences, but makes its government strong, and the work of legislation both easy and efficient. And in proportion as it is diminished, the opposing causes of the nation’s greatness are multiplied. And that there are causes beside those which have been named, in operation to produce this diminution, there is little reason to doubt.
The strong, and increasing love of money, indicated by the spirit of adventure and speculation, and the reluctance with which, in many sections of the land, it is granted for purposes of public utility and improvement; as it is a selfish affection, is incompatible with that lofty patriotism which renders the work of government easy and effectual.
The luxury, which is steadily advancing in the land, is infallibly connected with an effeminacy and corruption, at war with the advancement of all the great interests of the nation, and is silently, but steadily and surely diminishing both the number of truly patriotic men, and the power of patriotic principles.
The ambition of civil distinction, is operating to diminish the amount of sterling patriotism, and to produce division and strife. There is an ambition, which fixes first on extensive usefulness, as its object, and brings the whole man under the steady influence of a mental and moral discipline, that produces qualifications of an high order for the duties of every responsible station. In such an ambition, there is a magnanimity and a promise of good, which balance its power to do evil, and give its energies a happy direction and influence. That, is an ambition that waits, but not in hypocrisy nor guile, for the public favor; which follows the perceived development of official qualifications, not seizes on that favor by art or intrigue, and in the fullness of self-complacent confidence proclaims, “Come see my zeal (not indeed for the Lord, but) for the people!” And “Oh that I were made a judge in the land!” But there is an ambition of this latter kind abroad; and when it shall have spread itself over so broad a surface, and taken such a deep root, that the legislation of the land shall be exercised principally with reference to provisions of place and favor, and the government itself shall become one great laboratory of office, with its public functionaries sworn to the superintendence of the manufacture; “and the people” shall “love to have it so;” then there will have come up over the land, in the length and breadth of it, a spirit dark and foul;–a spirit of selfishness and insubordination; a spirit of party strife and bitter crimination; a spirit changeful as the wind, yet to patriotism, public health and peace, deadly as the Samoom, and resistless as death. And there is in the very circumstances, which contemplated in one aspect, hold out a brilliant promise to the stability of our institutions and the peace and prosperity of the land, an opportunity for the widely extended operations of this spirit, and perhaps a tendency to quicken the development of its fearful energies. While unlike all other civilized nations, were are separated by oceans from the intrigue and corruption of foreign courts; and our liability to disastrous alliances with them, is diminished by the breadth of the line, and the nature of the barrier of separation; from this very circumstance, we are destitute of one powerfully united influence, which their contiguity puts into their possession, viz: the external pressure of foreign, but contiguous jealousy, rivalry, and arms. This compressing influence from without, adapted as it is, to throw upon party strife and wild ambition the resisting power of a near, perceived, and common danger, and thus to present to all minds the necessity of preserving, as an interest which comprehends almost all others, a common union, we have not. The consequence is, that while there is no pressure from without, to awe the recklessness of unprincipled ambition, and dissolve the power of faction the moment it oversteps the bounds of public safety, the existence even in embryo of this spirit of ambition, within the nation, constitutes a pressure from the centre of unity, tending to the widest extremes of anarchy and ruin. This circumstance unbinds the arm of the wicked political aspirant, and invites the exercise of all the arts of intrigue and corruption, by the augmented hope of success which it proffers; and the thought of what some master spirits of this character might speedily accomplish, is terrible.
Now let these opposing causes of national elevation and blessedness go into complete and successful operation; let the irreligious portion of our public press go on to minister to a depravity which derides the Bible and its God; let the resistance to benevolent exertions become successful, and sweep away the Sabbath, and either annihilate the power of the gospel, or confine its energies to the present limits of its influence; let the love of money, and the luxury, and the ambition of civil distinction, which are already visible, become more and more general, and clamorous, and powerful, till virtuous patriotism is dead, and the spirit of faction and disunion has risen up in its might, and nothing of Bible religion or Bible morality is left to rebuke and resist it; and soon will corruption and spiritual wickedness go up into high places, and the Sabbath will be gone; and infidel judges will swear fidelity on the book which they believe a lie; and perjury, unrebuked, will occupy the stand of the witness, and the box of the juror; and shame will lose her blush; and all that is fair, and lovely, and of good report, in this delightful heritage, will rot under one vast and universal gangrene; and then comes the end, and the light that has gladdened half the world is extinguished forever. God opens the grave for a great nation, and into it, it sinks, without promise or hope of a resurrection.
This is the result of the unrestrained operation of these causes; and can the ruler who remembers his or his fellow men, and who would neither neglect nor abuse the interests committed to his hands, contemplate the existence of these causes, even in their incipient state, and the result to which they tend, and feel no embarrassment in the discharge of his duties? When he recollects that God has made him “his minister, for good,” and sees how far these causes of ruin lie from the reach of direct penal enactment; how the penalty, or censorship which would silence one licentious press, would lay a similar injunction upon all the presses in the land, and turn back the whole nation to barbarism and death; and how the punishment of resistance to benevolent effort must fall with equal effect upon that effort itself; and yet how surely evil influences, unresisted, go on to the production of evil—must he not stagger under the weight of his responsibilities and embarrassments, rather than amuse himself with the titles which he wears.
The view we have taken, discloses,
1. The temerity of those who covet political elevation, merely for the distinction it confers. God has instituted civil government, for immeasurably higher purposes, than those of decking its ministers with a few perishing names of honor, and furnishing them with stations of dignified repose. To official stations, he has bound by cords which never an be broken, duties and responsibilities which can never be dissolved; duties, and interests, and embarrassments, and results, both of action and inaction, which, could they be spread out in a clear and strong light before the eye, in all their magnitude, and intricacy, and relations, would be seen to create a demand on the intellect and heart, mighty enough for an angel to sustain. And yet, there are those, who, looking only on the outside of government, and fascinated with both the sound and glitter of titles, and in love with power, covet earnestly, and seek laboriously, the dignity of station, not for the purpose of benefiting their fellow men; not to enter into the labors of benevolence, and justice, but to become ministers of power, and enjoy the greetings of distinction in the market-place. They may not wish to deceive the people, nor pervert their privileges, nor abuse their interests; nothing may be farther from their deliberate intention. But they think little, how easily a deceived heart may turn man aside from duty and safety; and little of the responsibilities which attach themselves to the object of their pursuit. But let these look at the duties and embarrassments which are bound to official station; let them remember that to the hands of rulers are committed interests too great for a feeble mind to grasp, and influences too powerful for a corrupt heart wisely and happily to direct; and this too, under embarrassments that darken the path of the great, and burden the hands of the mighty; let them think what a dark record “spiritual wickedness in high places” makes for the judgment day to read, and what a fearful retribution is to follow oppression and misrule, down through eternity; and then let them judge whether wisdom or rashness guides the desire of their hearts.
The view we have taken,
2. Rebukes the spirit of violent and indiscriminate censure of rulers.
While the nature and value of the interests entrusted to the control of the rulers of a free people, demand that the characters of the men who are to assume this control should be well understood, and therefore fairly and honorably canvassed; yet no necessity for calumny, and personal abuse, and indiscriminate vituperation exists. Corruption only can create such a necessity. Yet the existence of parties, and the comparative violence which the fear or mortification of defeat on the one hand, and the hope or fruition of success on the other, excite and perpetuate, create upon the whole community a liability to the indulgence of a spirit of censure towards rulers, incompatible alike with justice, candor, gratitude, the requisitions of the Bible, and the best interests of the State. This liability too, is probably increased, to no inconsiderable extent by the general neglect of an enlightened and fair comparison of the duties, with the unavoidable and appalling embarrassments of rulers. From this neglect, often results the indulgence of unreasonable expectations, which, of course, are ungratified, and which occasion fault-finding, where justice would demand content, and hostility, where benevolence would require co-operation. But let this comparison be fairly made, and we shall see the wisdom of the statute of Israel, “Thou shalt not speak evil of the ruler of thy people,” and repress that spirit of vituperation and abuse even, which is already undermining the influence of authority, and withdrawing from the race of virtuous and honorable distinction, many of the men whose services might bless the land, but whose consciousness of integrity, and self-respect, will not allow them to brook the thanklessness and censure which, to so unhappy an extent, become the reward of public fidelity. Let it be remembered, that there are difficulties connected with the most conscientious and faithful discharge of public duty, which baffle the energies of the mightiest and the best of men, and that what may seem political error, when contemplated under one aspect, and in one class of relations, may, under another aspect, and different relations, appear political virtue “seven times tried.”
The view we have taken, suggests,
3. The importance of personal piety to rulers.
The duty which God requires at their hands, is the advancement of the public interests which involve and affect the happiness of their fellow men. Their influence is therefore necessarily felt in all the departments of life, and reaches in its consequences (it may be) over successive generations in time, and onward, through eternity. In the discharge of this duty, however, they find themselves continually in contact with real, practical, and amazing difficulties, any one of which, either wrongly met, or willfully neglected, may produce not only increased wickedness here, but the eternal ruin of deathless spirits. But their individual responsibility to God is not a “jot nor tittle” diminished by the embarrassments which cluster about their path. Let them, in regardlessness of God, trifle with those interests, or wickedly pervert them to the advancement of their own selfish advantage, and rule but to make gain of the people; and the execrations of an abused nation follow them to the grave:–And there—God,–an offended God, meets them, to fulfill the oath which he sware, “If I whet my glittering sword, and mine hand take hold on judgment, I will render vengeance to mine enemies, and will reward them that hate me!” And if men ever need an open intercourse with heaven; if they ever need such an alliance to eternal wisdom, as to derive from it continual accessions to their own; if they ever need such an interest in the blood of atonement, as shall secure the pardon of their sins, and the protection and salvation of God, it is when, clothed with the authority, they assume the responsibilities of rulers of the people. And let all our rulers thus ally themselves to the eternal throne, and they will carry up the temporal interests of the people they are set to govern, to a participation in the safety and blessedness of that alliance, and God will pour out the treasures of his goodness upon the land, and cheer it with the manifestations of his goodness and glory.
* Originally published: Dec. 24, 2016.