« AnteriorContinuar »
upon earth as described in the following, and striking manner by Isaiah, will commence in our world: “The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf, and the young lion, and fatling together, and a little child shall lead them. And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice den. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain, for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover
And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek: and his rest shall be glorious.” Isa. 11. 6—10. “The nations, and people shall beat their swords into plough shares; and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift sword against nation; neither shall they learn war any more.” Isa. 2. 4. When the great reformation takes place amongst christians, in the performance of their religious,fand political duties when they become one, the world will begin to believe in the Redeemer, and his glorious reign will become universal.
In governments like those of America, in which the people are the source of power, and which is delegated by election for short periods to their public functionaries, a very awful responsibility is devolved upon the christian part of the community in the exercise of their elective franchise. Every representative for whom they vote to fill any office, represents them, not only in the eyes of the nation, according to the social compact, but also in the eyes of God, and the angels of heaven. All the peculiarities of character by which he is distinguished, whether of profanity or blasphemy; intemperance, or debauchery; false honour, or pride; political intrigue, or treachery; projects of ambition, or selfaggrandizement; whether advanced by secret corruption, or overt acts of treason; or, on the other hand, if distinguished by doing justice, loving mercy, and walking humbly before God, having an eye to his honour, and glory, and the real happiness of the people; I say, whether distinguished by one or the other of these peculiarities of character, it is reflected back upon them who are his constituents; his àctings, and doings are their own by representation; and the curses or blessings correspondent with this diversity of character, and conduct, must be felt by all. There is but one way right, and all the rest are wrong. “The wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits; but the wisdom which descendeth not from above is earthly, sensual, and devlish. James 5. 15. 17. Fools despise wisdom_her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace. She is the tree of life to them that lay hold upon her; and happy is every one that retaineth her. The Lord by wisdom hath founded the earth; by understanding hath he established the heavens. The curse of the Lord is in the house of the wicked, but he blesseth the habitation of the just. Surely he scorneth the scorner;' but he giveth grace unto the lowly. The wise shall inherit glory; but shame shall be the promotion of fools.” It is in consequence of the wisdom in which God hath founded the earth, that any other conduct, amongst men or nations, than that which is dictated by the word of his council, as the rule of their duty, leadeth to iniquity, and incurreth his chastisements. This proceeds from the connection which exists between causes, and effects in religion, governments, &c. How absurd, and inconsistent, then, is it, for a christian people to appoint days of fasting, humiliation, &c., and to pray to God to give wisdom to their counsellors, &c. &c. and at their elections, to make no distinction between those who believe in God, and acknowledge his authority, and the truth of his word; and those who, by their words, and deeds, say there is no God; that the scriptures are not true, or that the duties, and relations of men, and nations, are not ascertained by his revelations in them? The prayers, and devotions of men, under such circumstances, are they, concerning which, God hath said, “When ye spread forth your hands I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers I will not hear.” Isa. 1. 15. His commands are, “Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil; learn to do well." ibid. 16. "If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land: but if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it." ibid. 19-20. The mediatorial governor of the world, who spake as man never spake, said, "A good tree bringeth not forth corrupt fruit; neither doth a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Of thorns men do not gather figs, nor of a bramble bush gathereth they grapes. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. Either make the tree good, and his fruit good; or else make the tree corrupt, and his fruit corrupt.” These truths are not less divine, and unexceptionable, when applied to the administrations of government, and to public functionaries, than to the professors of the christian religion, as such. How absurd would it be, to expect, by the prayers of the christain world, to make figs grow upon thorns, or grapes upon bramble bushes? Make the tree good, and his fruit good. “Faith without works is dead; for as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead." James 2. 20. 26-If devotion, fasting, &c. do not inspire christians with a sense of their duties, &c. in their political, as well as their religious relations, and prompt them to their performance, they are not authorised by God to hope for the smiles, and blessings of heaven. Rulers, and counsellors who reject the word of God and its divine authority will not by the prayers of his worshippers be inspired by the wisdom of his councils; for “the entrance of his word giveth light; it giveth understanding to the simple.” It was by reason of this truth that Solomon said "This wisdom have I seen also under the sun, and it seemed great unto me: there was a little city, and fermen within it; and thicre came a great king against it, and beseiged it, and built great bulwarks against it. Now there was found in it a poor wise man, and he by his wisdom delivered the city. Then, said I, wisdom is better than strength. Wisdom is better than weapons of war; but one sinner destroyeth much good.” Eccles. 9. How often do we see men of extraordinary powers of mind in public stations, so much devoted to their own popularity, and exclusively attentive to those things which promote it, both in their public, and private conduct, as to demonstrate that the true, and abiding interests of the country have but little or no place in their minds. It can not be otherwise; for, unless the invi. sible relations, and dependancies of man are realized, passion, vanity, ambition, &c. must of necessity be the governing principles. The truths of the gospel believed, afford the oily true, and effectual cure for these things. For a moment view the present threatning aspect of these United States--their union is endangered, which if consummated, must prove the most ruinous of allevents, to thousands of unsuspecting, andinnocent persons. Trace this evil to its source, and it will be found to originate in the passions, pride, selfconceit, vanity, or ambition, &c. of a few men, who, in opposition to each other, are struggling for office, or are actuated by unworthy competition; who, in order to be pre-eminently distinguished, use violent, and angry recrimination, and opprobrious epithets. When they turn their faces to their constituents, they expect (and, alas! too often meet with them) high sounding plaudits. The people, becoming warmed by the same kind of strange fire, are urged on to great extremes, political bickerings, and animosities. Party spirit, and angry violence, always spring from this source; and without the controuling influence of christianity, it cannot be otherwise where there are great intellectual powers, or restless spirits. They, without the equipoising influence of those views, considerations, and motives, which are ascertained to the mind by the revelations of God, are as irregular, rapid, and violent in their operations, as the motion of a watch, or clock, without a balance wheel, or a pendulun. The truth of these remarks may be easily apprehended, by ab. stracting in the mind all the ideas, and opinions; all the fears, and hopes; and all the mental exercises, which arise from religious considerations, habits, manners, and customs. Destroy the Sabbath, and all the christian ordinances; and release the public mind from every restraint which is imposed upon it by revealed religion, and a free government could not possibly exist. It is apparent to every observant, and reflecting mind, that, in proportion to the existence of religious truths in the minds of inen, and as they operate
upon public opinion in forming the morals of a state or na. tion, so is the capacity of that people for the enjoyment of a free government in a state of peace, tranquility, and happiness, and the certainty of its preservation. And, on the contrary, as a people recede from true religion, and absolve themselves from its restraints, so do they approach licentiousness, and anarchy; which are the never-failing precursors of violence, usurpation, and despotism. Our memorable, and unparalleled Washington, who had been on the public theatre for near half a century, and whose intrinsic excellencies, as a great, and good man, will ever be placed in the superlative degree, as long as worth, and greatness are esteemed--this GREATEST of the sons of America; who knew, by actual experience, and observation, the springs of human action, and the absolute necessity of divine truth, solemnly, and conscientiously regarded by the statesmen, and people, in order to give stability, and to secure the continuance of a free government, made the following observations in his great political legacy, his Farewell Address to the people of the United States:
“Of all the dispositions, and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism, who should labour to subvert these great pillars of human happiness—these firmest props of the duties of men and citi- · zens. The mere politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them. A volume could not trace all their connexions with private and public felicity. Let it simply be asked, where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths, which are the instruments of investi. gation in courts of justice? And let us with caution indulge the supposition, that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principles.
“It is substantially true; that virtue or morality is a ne. cessary spring of popular government. The rule indeed extends with more or less force to every species of free