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of Me land: A consideration that may well ani. mate christian ministers and rulers.
Improvement. 1. Civil government has been greatly perverted from its original design and institution. Men in places of public trust, have been more solicitous to gratify their ambitious views, than faithfully to discharge their important trust in serving God and their generation. They have too commonly employed their power on the side of Satan, and against the cause of Christ. The grand object of trust has been too much kept out of view.
2. If we have had a just exhibition of the subject, every appearance of the prosperity of Zion is very animating, both in a religious and civil view.
Civil government, when aiding religion, will be one of the greatest blessings of a temporal nature ; and vice and weakness will hide their heads. Civil government, thus conducted, will sweeten society; it will be accompanied with industry and temper ance, which will ensure a competence of temporal good. Peace and unanimity will harmonize our public councils: Wars and tunults come to an end, and Christ gloriously extend to us his reign and kingdom.-And who knows but that Christ is. now over-turning and preparing things for such a glorious day? It is a happy omen, that revivals of religion have been frequent of late. All who wish well to church or state, have abundant motives to pray for the coming and kingdom of Christ. There are, in view of the important designs of government, as explained, motives to endeavor, where there is an opportunity, by a faithful discharge of duty, to render essential service to Christ, and promote a cause which every friend of Zion has near his heart. I shall close with a brief address. to the Honorable Gentlemen, whom we consider
as the guardians of our liberties, and in whom we have placed the highest confidence and trust.
In the first place, I would beg the freedom of a few words of address to His Excellency, our Governor, Deputy-Governor, and the Honorable Gentlemen who compose the Council.
Honored Sirs, You have long been exercised in the dangers and burthens of a bloody and destroying war.
I may now congratulate you on the return of peace and the establishment of our Independence. Relieved of your burthens, you are indulged with greater leisure to attend to the true principles and design of civil government. You are called to the helmin-alicentious age, and in the infancy of government in this State. You are called to extend government to those who have lived under different forms, and have entertained very different sen. timents on the subject. Of course, you cannot expect to avoid the censure of many of your constituents. You are called to take the helm, when many vices, pernicious to civil society, are predominant, and the public interest requires the most wise and vigorous exertions. The task which devolves on you, I am sensible, is arduous. But you are called to the helin of government, at a time, in which you have an opportunity to render essential service to God and your country.. You will keep in view, the grand end of your trust, which is, to be a terror to evil-doers, to bear down vice, to endeavor to banish fraud, indolence, intemperance and the contempt of sacred institutions, remembering that the time is coming, and we hope, not far distant, when the Almighty will bring down every high look that exalteth itself against the knowledge of himself, however digrified in station. You are but the servants of Christ, and therefore, are to consider that you are to act
with ultimate reference to his kingdom. Some would suppose, that as Christ's kingdom is distinct, civil rulers have nothing to do in suppress. ing immorality, and especially, the profanation of the Sabbath : But it is their business to discountenance vice in general. In order to do this, so far as you are called to appoint men to office, you will see to it, that you can answer your trust to God, in appointing men who are enemies to vice. To set up men to suppress vice, who are themselves. vicious, is, I will use the freedom to say, an unfaithful desertion of trust. Many of the laws of the State which relate to the suppression of vice, are trampled under foot. It is high time that some vigorous efforts were made against prevailing iniquity. Let it be remembered, that righteousness exalteth a nation, but sin is the reproach of any people. Let it be your care, so far as you are ena trusted with power, to ward off the curse from this people. May the Father of Lights assist and die rect you. May you have the great satisfaction of seeing your endeavors owned and blessed; and after having long served God and your generation, may you have the peaceful reflection in death, that you are about to resign a life, long devoted to the ser. vice of God and your country, and be conveyed by angels to the regions of peace and felicity above.
I shall next address myself to the House of Representatives.
Honored Gentlement, We have reposed in you the highest confidence and trust, as the representatives of a free people. You are called, at an early and most important period, to act in a legislative capacity. You have heard something on the subject of the ultimate end of civil government, that you are to rule in subordination to the kingdom of Christ, and to render
yourselves a terror to evil-doers, a praise and encouragement to them that do well. Your diligent attention and vigerous exertions are loudly called for, at such a day as this ; a day of general corrup. tion of manners and prevalence of vice : And in order to this, your own examples will have vast influence, both in your private and public capacity. As you would expect your laws should be revered, you are, by your own practices, to treat them as of importance. As you would bear down injustice and fraud, let your laws be founded in perfect equity. If you should make laws, which in their iniuenee and operation, should do injustice, and deprive the citizen of his right, it might seem like encouraging fraud, and patronizing iniquity.May the Father of Lights direct your measures, and enable you to establish laws and rules of government in consistency with the rights of a free people, and with the dictates of God's word. May you be nursing fathers to the Redeemer's kingdom. May you live to enjoy the satisfaction that you have rendered eminent service to God and his kingdom, and the State which you are called to govern : And in some late period, yet distant, come to the grave with the peaceful reflection, that you have faithfully discharged your important trust, filled up a life of usefulness to mankind, and at last, receive the approbation of your Judge, come ye blessed of
my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you before the foundation of the world."
I shall close with a word to the congregation in general.
Friends and Fellow-Citizens, The trust which we have assigned to our civil fathers is arduous. Many measures often appear unwise, merely through ignorance and inattention. Freedom of censuring men in public life, is a vice
complained of and condemned by the word of God. We need to take heed, lest we come under the censure of those, mentioned by the Apostle Jude, who despise dominion, speak evil of dignities and of the things which they know not. We are under solemn obligations to God and our ru. lers, to submit to that authority with which we have invested them, not only for wrath but also for conscience sake. Be subject to the higher powers. He that resisteth the
power, resisteth the ordinance of God, and shall receive to himself damnation. The business of civil government is of vast importance. Our happiness, as a State, greatly depends on a thorough, faithful exercise of it. In this way, eminent service may be rendered to the church of Goil. Let us then endeay. or to strengthen the hands of our rulers, and, agreeably to the exhortation, pray for all in authority, and for the farther revival and spread of religion, till kings and rulers shall actually become nursing fathers.
JAMES IV. 3.
Ye ask and receive not, because ye ask amiss.
THE exercise of prayer is essential to the christian life and enjoyments, and is the very vital part of religion. The chapter containing the text seems to be particularly addressed by James to the Jews, in a view of the trials which were com