Front Page Titles (by Subject) 50: John Smalley, ON THE EVILS OF A WEAK GOVERNMENT - Political Sermons of the American Founding Era. Vol. 2 (1789-1805)
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50: John Smalley, ON THE EVILS OF A WEAK GOVERNMENT - Ellis Sandoz, Political Sermons of the American Founding Era. Vol. 2 (1789-1805) 
Political Sermons of the American Founding Era: 1730-1805, 2 vols, Foreword by Ellis Sandoz (2nd ed. Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 1998). Vol. 2.
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ON THE EVILS OF A WEAK GOVERNMENT
John Smalley (1734–1820). A Yale graduate in 1756, Smalley studied at first with Eleazar Wheelock and after graduation with Joseph Bellamy, both New Light ministers. Ezra Stiles (later president of Yale) was his tutor. Smalley held a pastorate for fifty years at Farmington (New Britain), Connecticut. Though regarded as a mediocre preacher, he was of first importance as a theologian of his generation, and he possessed a keen mind and a vigorous writing style. These traits are displayed in a number of publications, including forty-eight sermons published in two volumes in 1803 and 1814. He was awarded a D.D. by the College of New Jersey (Princeton) in 1800.
Smalley was at first lukewarm to the cause of independence and came under attack by those who fervently desired it, including the local Committee of the Sons of Liberty. Ezra Stiles attributed Smalley’s stance to theological rather than political reasoning, for Smalley firmly believed that the tradition of passive obedience and nonresistance in civil matters was the true biblical teaching.
The piece reprinted here was preached as the Connecticut election sermon in 1800.
And I will give children to be their princes, and babes shall rule over them. And the people shall be oppressed, every one by another, and every one by his neighbour: the child shall behave himself proudly against the ancient, and the base against the honorable.
Isaiah iii. 4, 5.
When we read and hear such threatening predictions as this; and see our judges as at the first, and our counsellors and governors as at the beginning—equally wise and good; we are ready to bless ourselves, and to say in our hearts, These things shall not come upon us. That the whole of what is here foretold, has not yet come upon us, we have certainly great reason to bless God, and to congratulate one another. But it should be remembered, that neither past mercies, nor present happy circumstances, are any security against evils to come. Surprising changes in this fallen world, have ever been frequent, and are still to be expected. Prosperity and adversity, like sunshine and storms, are wont to follow each other, almost in constant rotation. Communities, as well as individuals, that have been remarkably raised up, are often as wonderfully cast down, in the providence of God, when most exalted. “He blesseth them also,” it is said,* “so that they are multiplied greatly, and suffereth not their cattle to decrease. Again they are minished, and brought low, through oppression, affliction and sorrow.”
Of such vicissitudes, the chosen people threatened in our text, was a striking and an instructive example. This nation had long been favored, in regard to government, as well as religion, far beyond any other then on the earth. From its earliest infancy, it had been under the peculiar guardianship of heaven. “When Israel was a child,” says the most High in Hosea,† “then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt: I taught Ephraim also to go, taking them by their arms: I drew them with cords of a man, with bands of love; and I was to them as they that take off the yoke.”
They had been liberated from powerful oppressors, and cruel task-masters, by the out-stretched arm of the Almighty. They had been led like a flock, through the Red Sea, and forty years in a most perilous, howling wilderness, by the hand of Moses and Aaron. Under Joshua, their great and beloved general, they had vanquished mighty armies; and had obtained a peaceful settlement as a free and an independent people, in a land flowing with milk and honey.
Here, when they forgat God their saviour, who had done such great things for them, and so many wonderous works before their eyes, he sometimes left them to have no guide, overseer or ruler; and suffered the heathen around them, to make terrible inroads on their borders. Nevertheless, as often as they cried unto the Lord in their distresses, he raised them up judges—valiant, righteous men, to deliver them out of the hand of their enemies, and to administer justice among them. Afterwards, because of their uneasiness, and the hardness of their hearts, God gave them kings; and these, several of them, were very eminent for wisdom and virtue. Nor was their happiness, in this respect, yet at an end; for Isaiah prophesied no later than the reign of Hezekiah; one of the most amiable and best of princes.
But, from the days of their fathers, they had gone away from God’s ordinances; and now, it seems, the measure of their iniquities was almost full. A very awful decree of the holy one of Israel against them is therefore here announced. See the preceding context.
For, behold, the Lord, the Lord of hosts, doth take away from Jerusalem, and from Judah, the stay and the staff; the whole stay of bread, and the whole stay of water; the mighty man, and the man of war; the judge, and the prophet, and the prudent, and the ancient; the captain of fifty, and the honorable man, and the counsellor, and the cunning artificer, and the eloquent orator. And I will give children to be their princes, &c.
From my text, thus connected, the doctrine deducible, which will be our present subject, is this:
That to be under a weak government, is one of the greatest calamities, ever sent upon a people.
This, you observe, is here threatened together with drouth and famine in the extreme—a total want of bread and of water; as well as being bereaved of the most eminent men, in every necessary employment: and it is mentioned last, and most enlarged upon, as the consummation of misery.
But, after explaining the calamity designed, and some of the principal causes of it, I shall attend, more particularly, to the proof and illustration of this doctrine.
There are two senses, in which government is said to be weak: when it is unwise; and when it wants energy. The latter is the more extensive signification of the phrase; and it comprehends the former: this, therefore, is the sense now to be considered. By a weak government will be meant, one that wants energy; whether through the weakness of those by whom it is administered, or by any other means.
To mention, with a little enlargement, some of the most common causes of so great an evil, will not be foreign to the design of this anniversary.
1. That the government of a nation or state has not proper energy, may be the fault of its constitution. A form of government may be such, that, unless the administration of it be arbitrary, it will necessarily be weak.
To give rulers all that power, and reserve to the subjects all that liberty, which is best for the people, is a nice point; very difficult, I imagine, to be exactly hit, by the wisest of men, and men the most disinterested. There is danger of erring, undoubtedly, on either hand; of abridging freedom, as well as of limiting authority, more than is for the greatest general good—of adopting a constitution too despotic, as well as one too feeble. But when it is left to the people at large, what government they will be under, the error most to be apprehended, I believe, is on the side of the inefficiency.
The love of liberty is natural to all mankind; and even to birds, and four-footed animals, and creeping things. Of this celebrated virtue, we lost nothing by the fall of our first parents. Every one, however depraved in other respects, wishes to be free—unboundedly free; to have none above him; to be his own subject, his own governor, his own judge. And when, for obtaining the advantages of social union, individuals give up to the community, or to any constituted authorities, a power over their words and actions, their property and lives; they do it with great reluctance, and as sparingly as possible.
To observe the extreme reluctance of some, on such occasions—to see how strenuously they will dispute every inch of power, vested any where, which might possibly be abused, or turned against themselves; is apt to remind one of the cautious policy of certain ancient pagans, described by Jeremiah, in regard to their gods. Not only would they have gods of their own making, and made of such materials that they must needs be born, because they could not go; but, as wooden gods could fall and might happen to fall upon the makers of them, or on their children, or valuable furniture; for full security, they fastened them with nails and with hammers. “Be not afraid of them,” says the prophet; “for they cannot do evil; neither also is it in them to do good.”
Checks, unquestionably, there ought to be, on every department of a free government: But if such checks be laid upon rulers, that the ruled are under no check at all, harmless, indeed, will such rulers be; but altogether insignificant. These servants of the people, must have more power than the child, and the base, who proudly so call them; unless we would have them miserable gods, or ministers of God to us for good—their scripture titles. They must have authority to punish treasonable lies against themselves, as well as slanders against the meanest of their subjects; otherwise, who will be afraid of them? Or what protection can they afford?
2. That the government of a people is too weak, may be the fault of those betrusted with its administration. It may be owing to their weakness; or to their indolence, or slowness in doing business; or to their excessive lenity; or to their not being of a virtuous character, or not paying a due attention to the strict regularity of their own lives. These particulars, suffer me cursorily to go over.
When the rulers of a land are children; whether in understanding, or in firmness and stability of mind, we are not certainly to expect that the reins of government will be guided with discretion, and held with sufficient force. To govern well, at least in the higher and more difficult offices, considerable theoretic knowledge, some experience, and more than common natural powers, are altogether necessary. And so is that degree of courage and inflexibility, which will enable a man to maintain his post, and to persevere in what appears to him the plain path of duty; unmoved by noisy opposition—undaunted by popular clamor—undismayed by imminent danger.
To support an efficient government, rulers must likewise be men of vigilance and activity. “He that ruleth,” says an apostle,* “with diligence.” And of Jeroboam it was said,* “Solomon, seeing the young man that he was industrious, he made him ruler over all the charge of the house of Joseph.” A commonwealth, under the superintendency of indolent men, will resemble the field of the slothful which we read of, that was “all grown over with thorns; the face of it covered with nettles, and the stone wall thereof broken down.” Or, though rulers be not “slothful in business”; they may be so slow in transacting it, and in bringing any thing to a termination, as very much to lower the tone, and defeat the salutary designs, of civil government. When courts of justice are so dilatory in their decisions, and such endless evasions, and reviews, are admitted; that a man had better lose almost any debt or damage, than commence a legal process for a recovery, the protection of law must be lamentably weak.
Excessive lenity, will have a similar effect. Mercy, is indeed an amiable attribute; to pass over a transgression, is said to be the glory of a man; and being ready to forgive, is a duty much inculcated in the word of God: But in one who sustains any place of authority, whether that of a parent, or master, or civil magistrate; lenity and indulgence may be carried farther than is the glory or duty of a man; unless it be his duty and glory to have no government. Should rulers remit crimes, or pass them over without condemnation, when the public good, or righting an injured individual, requires their punishment; merciful they might be, but not as our Father in heaven is merciful.
Liberality to the poor, out of one’s own proper goods, is a capital christian virtue; but of the property of other people, judges and law-givers, may possibly be over liberal. The persons even of the poor, are not to be respected in judgment. Making provision by law, for supporting such as are unable to support themselves, is doubtless very commendable; but why those who happen to be the creditors of the poor; who have helped them much already, and suffered much by their slackness and breach of promise, should be still obliged to lose ten times more for their relief, or for the relief of their families, than others equally able, it is not easy to conceive. And should courts of law, or courts of equity, cancel the debts of men, whenever they plead a present incapacity to pay them, whether such clemency might not too much weaken government, as a security to every one in his rightful claims, may be a question. Indeed, in any case, to give an insolvent debtor a final discharge from all he owes, without the consent of his creditors, looks like giving him a licence to be an unrighteous man. For can it ever be right, or can any court under heaven make it right, for a man not to pay his promised debts, for value received, when now he has money enough, because once, the payment of them was not in the power of his hands.
Thus to exonerate of a heavy load of old debts, one deeply insolvent, is necessary, it will be said; as without this he could have no courage to commence business anew. And, no doubt, such expected exoneration, will be a mighty encouragement to extravagant adventurers, who have nothing to lose, since, by running the greatest hazards, with the slenderest chance of immense gain, they risk only the property of others. If successful, the profit is their own; if unsuccessful, the loss is their neighbour’s. But if the tendency of being thus merciful, were much better than it is; or the urgency for it far greater; would it not be doing evil that good may come. “He that ruleth over men must be just.”* The laws of truth and righteousness, are not noses of wax; to be bent any way, as will suit present convenience. It is dangerous to break down, or break over, the fixed barrier of eternal justice, on any pretence of temporary necessity.
One way more was hinted, in which those who govern, may weaken government; and that is, by being men of a vicious character; or by not paying a due attention to the strict regularity of their own lives. Indeed, “a wicked ruler” is often strong, and fierce, and active, as “a roaring lion and a ranging bear”; but rarely for the benefit of “the poor people.” He will not be eager to pluck the spoil out of the mouth of the fraudulent villain, or the violent oppressor; unless that he may get it into his own. Nor will authority, in the hands of libertine men, however it may terrify, be much revered. When the makers or judges of laws, are themselves notorious breakers of them, or of the laws of heaven, government will necessarily fall into contempt. It is also to be observed, that advancing to posts of honor, men of loose principles and morals, gives reputation to licentiousness, and stamps it as the current fashion. Their example will encourage evil doers, more than all the punishments they are likely to inflict, will be a terror to them. “The wicked walk on every side when the vilest men are exalted.”*
But rulers may be far from being the vilest men, they may be very good men; and yet, by an incautious conformity to common practices, supposed to be innocent, they may too much countenance some things which are of very hurtful tendency. Permit me to instance in one particular. “It is not for kings,” we read, “to drink wine, nor for princes strong drink.”† And certainly, it is not for the lower classes to drink so much of these as many of them do, if they regard their health, or competence, or peace. I select this instance, because it is directly pertinent to the main subject in hand. Nothing is a greater weakener of government—nothing makes the multitude more heady and high-minded—nothing raises oftener or louder, the cry of liberty and equality—nothing more emboldens and inflames that little member, which boasteth great things, and setteth on fire the whole course of nature—nothing, in a word, makes men more incapable of governing themselves, or of being governed, than strong drink. Now, if rulers drink, though not to drunkenness; not so as quite to “forget the law,” or greatly to “pervert the judgment of any”; if they only drink as much as is very universally customary, in polite circles, on great occasions; though they do not hurt themselves, they may too much sanction that which will hurt their inferiors. That divine injunction, “Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil,”‡ lies with peculiar weight on civil rulers, as well as religious teachers. They, more than others, are under obligation to lead the multitude, in whatsoever things are sober, wise and good. They, of all men, are bound in duty to abstain from all appearance of any thing, which, improved upon by bungling eager imitators, might grow into a practice pernicious to society. Nor should it be forgotten, that every deviation from rectitude of conduct, lessens the dignity, and lowers the authority of great men. “Dead flies cause the ointment of the apothecary to send forth a stinking savor: so doth a little folly, him that is in reputation for wisdom and honor.”§ But,
3. That weakness of government which is a calamity to any people, is often principally the fault of the people themselves. It may be owing to their negligence, or to their caprice and folly, in the choice of their rulers; or it may be owing to their ill-treatment of them when chosen. A government most excellent in its constitution, and most wise, just and firm, in its administration, may be enervated, or rendered inadequate, by the ungovernableness of the people: By their revilings and slanders—their haughtiness and insolence—their factions and tumults. David once said, “I am this day weak, though anointed king; and these men, the sons of Zeruiah, are too hard for me.”*
Nor must it be omitted, that, besides the immediate natural causes of a weak government, the irreligion, or general wickedness of a people, may be its procuring cause, as a judgment of heaven. “The most High ruleth in the” nations of men; “and giveth” the dominion over them, “to whomsoever he will.”† “For promotion cometh neither from the east, nor from the west, nor from the south; but God is the judge; he putteth down one, and setteth up another.”‡ When the ways of a people please the Lord—when they fear him, and work righteousness; among other blessings, he gives them good governors, under whose able and equitable administration, they lead quiet and peaceable lives. On the contrary, when they forget him, neglect his worship, and disregard his word; among other modes of punishment, he takes away their wise and faithful magistrates, and gives them weak or wicked ones in their stead; or leaves them to trample all authority under foot. This was the cause of the calamities threatened in our text and context. See the eighth verse, which concludes the paragraph. “For Jerusalem is ruined, and Judah is fallen; because their tongue and their doings are against the Lord, to provoke the eyes of his glory.”
Let us now attend, as was proposed, to the proof and illustration of the doctrine laid down: That, of all the calamities ever sent upon a people, being under a weak government, is one of the most deplorable.
It is said,§ “Woe to thee, O land, when thy king is a child.” It is also asked,* “If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?” And if we consider the matter, it may easily be seen, that the people of all characters, and not merely the righteous among them, must be in a very wretched condition, should government be overturned, or have no coercive force.
First; an exposedness to all manner of mutual injuries, without redress, is one obvious evil thence arising. The people shall be oppressed, every one by another, and every one by his neighbour.
“Surely oppression maketh a wise man mad,” is an observation of the royal preacher.† And many are the accounts in history, of oppression’s having had this effect on a multitude of men, the wise among the foolish. How often have whole nations raved and raged, like the fiercest of animals, under the operation of the hydrophobia, at only a distant apprension of this terrible evil?
I am sensible, it is the dread of oppression from government, and not of being oppressed one by another, through the want or weakness of it, that usually occasions this rage, and these ravings. The people are ten times more apt to be afraid of having heavy burdens and grievous restraints laid upon them, by the best men in power, than of any thing they might be in danger of suffering from their equals, however wicked, and however unrestrained. But what can be the reason of this? Is it because there is not really as much mischief to be feared, from individual, as from public oppression? From the oppressions of the many, as of the few? From the unrighteousness of millions, let loose, as from that of one man, or a small number of men?
This, certainly, is not the case; this cannot be the reason. When there is no law, and every one does what he thinks fit, without fear of punishment, the people, I believe, have ever been, and are ever likely to be, much more unhappy than even under a very despotic and oppressive government.
What then is the reason? Why are the people, whose voice is said to be the voice of God, so much more ready to sound and take an alarm, when threatened with the latter, than with the former of these evils? Why are they so loud and tumultuous, when their liberties are thought to be in any danger; and so quiet and easy, when government is rudely attacked, and ready to be overthrown? Why is the shock of terror so much greater and more universal, at the remotest prospect of tyranny, than at the nearest, and most evident approximation to total anarchy? There may be several reasons.
One, probably, is; when the people are oppressed by each other, their sufferings are separately felt: Whereas, oppression from the higher powers falls upon all in a body. In the former case, every one bears his own different burdens; and divided complaints, though bitter, make but a confused and feeble murmur: in the latter case, all feel or fear the same; all voices, therefore, are united in one tremendous cry.
Another reason may be; under oppression from government, often no other way of relief is seen, than popular combinations and insurrections; but when injuries are done us by individuals, because there is no government to restrain them, a remedy is always near and obvious. If every one is oppressed, every one can be an oppressor. If a man’s neighbours all bite and devour him, he can bite and devour all his neighbours. Hence, a dissolution of government, instead of being universally deprecated, appears to many, “A consummation devoutly to be wished.”
But there is another cause of the wonderful phenomenon I am accounting for, more influential perhaps with the most, than both the forementioned. It is owing to charity. A kind of charity, not the exclusive glory of modern times; but entirely peculiar to fallen creatures. A kind of charity, which covers a multitude of our own sins, from our own sight. A kind of charity which always begins, and ends, at home; though often extensive in its circuits. From this boasted charity, we are ever inclined to hope all things, and believe all things, in favour of any number, or class, or order of beings, in which we ourselves are included. Thus men, naturally think of mankind, more highly than they ought to think. Frenchmen, of the French: Britons, of the British: Americans, of the people of America: Those of every state and town, of their own state’s men and town’s men; and men of every calling, of their brethren of the same occupation, collectively considered. In like manner, the common people, think the common people exceedingly honest, harmless, and virtuous; while of those in power, though of their own choosing, and just chosen out of all the people, they have not near so favorable an opinion. That the people should have too much liberty, therefore, they are not at all afraid: that rulers will not have checks enough upon them, is all their fear.
This beam, of selfish liberality of sentiment, it may be impossible for us to cast wholly out of our eye: But that, round the edges of it, we may get some glimpse of real human nature; I know of no better way than to look upon mankind one by one; or in circles not including ourselves. Let us then think of other nations; other states; other towns, and neighbourhoods; or of particular persons among our nearest neighbours. In this separate view, let us search and look; let us impartially examine characters. Where do we find a great predominance of the innocent inoffensive people? Where do we find a nation, or state, or town, or society, except our own, so very virtuous? Where do we find many individuals, besides ourselves, so just and true, temperate and chaste, meek and merciful; so free from coveteousness, pride, envy, revenge, and every unfriendly passion, that we could live safely among them, were they at full liberty from all the restraints of law and government?
Indeed, how great an alteration this would make, in the apparent characters of most men, it is difficult to conceive, without the trial. A very partial trial of it, for a short time, some of us have once seen; when it was made lawful to discharge pecuniary obligations, at the rate of a tenth, a twentieth, and even a fiftieth, of the real value justly due. We then had a convincing evidence, that the external justice of our common honest people, is owing to the expected compulsion of civil law, much more than to uprightness of heart, or feelings of conscience, or any dread of a higher tribunal. From this specimen, and from the sacred story of the behaviour of the men of Benjamin, relative to the Levite from mount Ephraim, when “there was no king in Israel; and every one did that which was right in his own eyes”; we may have some faint idea of the horrid scenes of unrighteousness, lewdness and cruelty, that would every where be acted, were it not for the fear of temporal punishment. From all that we have read of the destruction of mankind by one another, when ever they are at liberty; and from recent indisputable information of the shocking state of things, where government has been overturned; we may well believe that the scripture accounts of the depravity of men, are no exaggeration. Not even the following: “Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips; whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness; their feet are swift to shed blood. Destruction and misery are in their ways, and the way of peace have they not known.”*
But if this be a true portrait of fallen men, when left to themselves, how much are we indebted to the restraint laid upon them, for the little peace we enjoy? And may we not well be convinced, that all the terror of the civil sword, in the most faithful and skilful hands, will not be more than enough to restrain from iniquity, such a race of beings, so that they may dwell together, not in unity, as brethren, but with any tolerable safety? Especially if, as is added to finish the above picture, “There is no fear of God before their eyes”? And that this last trait, is still a part of the character of many, is abundantly evident, both from their avowed principles and open practices. Now this being the case, that while the hearts of men are fully set in them to do evil, they have no fear of the God of heaven to restrain them; were it not for the dread of gods on earth, our civil rulers, what security should we have, for our names, or property, or lives? If we had no other evil to apprehend, from weakness of government, than only this, of lying open to all manner of mutual oppressions, slander, frauds and violences; it would, even then, be evidently one of the greatest calamities that could befal a people.
But a second evil, some what distinct, and worthy of some notice, is suggested in our text: No one in a subordinate station would keep his proper place, or treat his superiors with suitable respect. The child shall behave himself proudly against the ancient, and the base against the honorable.
Solomon says, “There is an evil which I have seen under the sun, as an error that proceedeth from the ruler: Folly is set in great dignity, and the rich in low place. I have seen servants riding upon horses, and princes walking as servants upon the earth.”† When authority fails, or is obstructed, at the fountain head, its remotest streams must, in a little time, run low. If parents will not obey magistrates, children will be disobedient to parents; if masters refuse subjection to the higher powers, their servants and apprentices will soon pay as little regard to their injunctions. Thus this evil proceedeth from the ruler; or from his not being able to rule. And a serious evil it certainly is. By superiors, in every degree, it will soon be very sensibly felt. They will have none to fear them, none to honor them, none over whom they can have any command. Inferiors, of the very lowest grade, may exult, for a while, in such æras of freedom; and think them glorious times. But even to these—to the child and the base, this turning of things upside down, generally proves fatal in the end. Being under no control, they spend their time in idleness; waste their substance, if they have any, in riotous living; have recourse to pilfering, gambling, and every hazardous expedient, to support their extravagances, and by various foolish and hurtful practices, soon plunge themselves into irrecoverable wretchedness and ruin.
There is yet a third capital evil, arising from too weak a government, which, though not mentioned in our text, should be briefly noticed, when treating of this subject at large. A community in such a situation, will be able to make little defence against a foreign enemy. Like the people of Laish, who had no magistrate in the land to put them to shame in any thing; they will be an easy prey to any handful of enterprising invaders. No resources can be drawn forth—no navies furnished—no armies raised and supplied—no fortifications erected and garrisoned, without energy in government. What Solomon says of a man that has no rule over his own spirit, holds equally true of an ungoverned nation: it “is as a city that is broken down, and without walls.”
The doctrine, I conceive, needs no farther illustration or proof. It only remains, that I endeavor to point out some useful inferences from it, applicable to our own times, and to the present occasion.
1. The holy scriptures may hence be vindicated, in their being so much on the side of government; and no more favorable to the insurrection of inferiors.
On these topics, it must be acknowledged, the spirit of the gospel, as well as of the old testament, is somewhat different from the spirit that worketh in the children of disobedience, among whom we have all had our conversation. Our Saviour “went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil”; but under the political oppressions of the Jews, his countrymen, he seemed not much to sympathize with them. When it hurt their consciences to pay tribute to a foreign power, and they asked him whether it were lawful; his answer was, “Render to Caesar, the things that are Caesar’s, and to God, the things that are God’s.” He constantly preached peace, meekness, humility and submission. His apostles in like manner, taught children to obey and honor their parents: and servants to be “subject to their own masters, with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward.” And, instead of animating their numerous proselytes, at Crete, at Rome, and all over the world, to rise in arms against these rulers of the earth who were their unrighteous and unmerciful persecutors; they would have them “put in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates”:* they exhorted them to “submit themselves to every ordinance of man, for the Lord’s sake”;† and told them, “Whosoever resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God; and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.”‡
At this distance of time, and after so many revolutions, such passages as these may seem hard sayings, to some good soldiers, even of Jesus Christ. No wonder that the inculcators of so much poverty of spirit, should be rejected with scorn, and treated with scurrility, in this “age of reason.” We are not to wonder, were there no other cause, that infidelity should exceedingly increase, in these times of “illumination.”
To the spiritually minded Christian, however, it will readily occur, in favour of the author and finisher of our faith, and his first ministers, that the great object they had in view, was to save the souls of men; and that, teaching them to be meek and lowly in heart, poor in spirit, and contented in whatsoever state they were, was better adapted to this design; than filling the heads of inferiors with exalted notions of the equal “rights of man”; inflaming their hearts with pride and angry passions; and throwing families into envying and strife, and nations into the convulsions of civil war; till every one can be as free as the freest, and as high as the highest.
But, leaving things eternal out of the question; according to the subject to which we have now been attending, if the preachers and penmen of the New-Testament had aimed only to promote the temporal happiness, of only the lower classes of mankind, they would have done wisely in writing and preaching, on the duties of subordination, exactly as they did. Never can there be peace on earth, or any safety among men, while children are allowed to rise up against their parents, servants against their masters, and subjects against their civil rulers, whenever they think differently from them, or dislike their government. Thus to make the child, the governor of his governors, and the base, the judge of his judges, is the certain way to endless confusion, in all human societies.
2. If the doctrine insisted on be true, it follows, that a ready submission to all those burdens which are necessary for the support of good government, and for national defence, is the wisdom, as well as duty of any people.
The apostle to the Romans, having said, “The powers that be are ordained of God”; having observed that the benevolent end of their ordination was the good of the people; and, on these grounds, having enjoined subjection to them, he adds; “For this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God’s ministers, attending continually upon this very thing.”
Public expenses are apt to appear to many, excessively high: but, perhaps, they do not well consider the real occasion there is for great expenditures, in a nation or state of any magnitude.
In order to the support of good government, many rulers, of high and low degree, are absolutely necessary. And it is necessary that those who occupy the higher offices, should be men of superior knowledge, and uncommon natural abilities: such knowledge as is not easily acquired, and such abilities as might procure them a plentiful income in other occupations. If the bramble, or the shrub oak, were adequate to rule over the trees, a cheap government might be expected; but if the vine, the fig-tree, and the olive-tree, must be promoted; we are not to think that these will leave their rich fruits; their sweetness, and fatness, without a suitable compensation. Besides, rulers of high rank, must be at no inconsiderable expense, to support the proper dignity of their stations. It is also to be taken into the account, that the duties of those who rule well, and attend continually upon this very thing, are not only exceedingly laborious, but that some parts of the essential services they have to render must be very disagreeable; if they have any compassionate sensibility. The execution of deserved vengeance, is said to be God’s strange work; as being, in itself, most opposite to one whose nature is love, and who delighteth in mercy. And, doubtless, that punishment of evil doers, for which earthly rulers are appointed, and which the public good requires, must be really painful to the feelings of humanity; more painful, in many cases, than the amputation of limbs, and other high operations in surgery, for which, on that account, as well as because of the superior skill and great care requisite, an ample fee to the operator is thought reasonable. Moreover; those who stand in elevated stations, are the marks of obloquy, and exposed to many dangers, much more than men on the level ground of private life. All these things well weighed, the equitable reward of governors, and the necessary cost of supporting good government, must be no inconsiderable burden on the people.
In order to national defence, against hostilities from abroad, still heavier expenses are often indispensible. In perilous times, there must be armies and fleets, forts and garrisons. At the first out set, more especially, when all these things are to be new-created, to a people unused to such vast expenditures, they will naturally appear enormous; and very easily may a popular clamor be raised against them. It is possible, indeed, that more may be laid out in these ways, many times, than the public exigences require; but of this, few of the complainers are competent to judge. A nation that has an extended coast, and an extensive commerce to defend, had better be at immense charges for the security of these, than lie open to those spoliations and invasions, to which, without arming, when all the world is at war, they might inevitably be exposed.
To provide both for the internal and external safety of a numerous people, the burdens laid upon them must often be heavy. These are evils to be lamented; but in the present state of mankind, they are necessary for the prevention of far greater evils; and should therefore be submitted to, without murmuring.
3. The preceding observations may suggest to us, some peculiar advantages of a republican form of government.*
Under every form, there must be orders and degrees; some must bear rule, and others be subject to tribute. Under every form, there will be duties, imposts, excises, and perhaps direct taxation. All forms of government, however, are not equal. Much advantage hath the republican, many ways.
One advantage is, that the people may always have good rulers, unless it be their own fault. Under a monarchy, or an aristocracy, let the body of the people be ever so virtuous, and ever so vigilant, they may have children for their princes, and babes to rule over them. When power is hereditary, in kings or nobles, not only is there a risk of having the highest seats of government filled by minors; but, if this should not happen, the hazard is great, that those who inherit the first offices of government, will frequently be men of not much knowledge, or of not much virtue. But in elective governments, where the people at large are the electors, and especially where the elections are frequent, they may always have wise and faithful men in all places of authority; if such are to be found, and if such they choose.
It may next be observed; that in republican governments, there is the least occasion for illegal associations, or popular tumults, to obtain a redress of grievances. If there be any mal-administration, or any fault in the constitution, a remedy is provided, without disturbing the public peace.
Another advantage must not be forgotten, which is very great: under this free form of government, the interests of rulers and subjects are so blended—so the same, that the former cannot oppress the latter, without equally oppressing themselves. In an absolute monarchy, the king; and in an aristocracy, the nobles, may “bind heavy burdens, and lay them on men’s shoulders,” without being obliged to “touch them themselves with one of their fingers”: but in democracies, the highest magistrates are subject to the same laws, the same duties, the same taxes, which they impose upon others. At least, those who this year bear rule, the next election may be under law, under tribute. This is a great security against their decreeing unrighteous decrees, and writing grievous things.
Lastly; representative rulers feel themselves so dependent on the people, for their continuance in office, that they are not likely to grow haughty and unreasonably over-bearing, as those naturally will, who have no such dependence.
These are some of the peculiar advantages of a republican government. But then, it is to be well remembered, that the best things may become the worst for us, by being abused. To render democratic governments stable and happy, it is highly necessary that the people should be wise, virtuous, peaceable, and easily governed. For want of these requisites, republics have often been, like “man that is born of a woman, of few days, and full of trouble.”
4. In the more particular application of our subject, we are naturally led to a view and conviction, of our own mercies, and privileges, and prospects, and duties.
That the past mercies of heaven towards this country, have been singularly great, every pious observer will be ready devoutly to acknowledge. I have reference, chiefly, to political mercies; or those which relate to civil liberty and government. Hardly another instance can be found, I believe, in all history, of a people’s enjoying both these blessings jointly, in so high a degree, for so great a length of time, as they have been enjoyed by several of these united states; and by this state, in particular. The people of Connecticut, from the beginning, have invariably chosen their chief magistrates, and general assembly; and they have had a succession of good governors far beyond the common lot of mankind. Our “officers have been peace, and our exactors righteousness,” with as few exceptions, perhaps, as ever were known in any part of the world.
Or, if we confine the retrospect, within the compass of the last five and twenty years; and extend it to the whole union, how wonderful have been the salvations granted us! In this period, we have passed through the Red Sea of a revolutionary war; in which our then friends and coadjutors, assaying to follow us, as most who ever attempted it before us, have been drowned. Here, quite contrary to what usually happens, on such occasions, we had guides eminent for prudence, stability, coolness, and unconquerable perseverance. And one, super-eminent for all those; by the integrity of whose heart, and the skilfulness of whose hands, we were led like a flock, in safety, far surpassing all rational expectation. We have also passed, afterwards, thro the howling wilderness of an almost national anarchy: where were pits, and scorpions, and fiery flying serpents. Here again, our great men, with the greatest of all at their head, in a general convention, formed and recommended our present admirable constitution. And our wisest counsellors and most eloquent orators, in every state, straining every nerve, procured its adoption; whereby we were saved, when on the brink of dissolution. That such men were raised up, and put forward, in these times of need; and their way made prosperous; was certainly “the Lord’s doing, and ought to be marvellous in our eyes.” In either of these perils, “it was of the Lord’s mercies that we were not consumed.”
And as past mercies, so our present privileges, are singular, and such as deserve a very grateful acknowledgment. While many other nations are suffering the ravages of a most furious war, still likely to be carried on with redoubled rage; we enjoy the inestimable blessings of peace. While most other nations are under the dominion of hereditary kings and nobles, such as they happen to be born and educated, whether virtuous or vicious, wise men or fools; we have rulers from the highest to the lowest, of our own election. While one other nation, great and highly civilized, after swimming in seas of blood for eight years, and after nearly as many revolutions, in a violent contest for liberty and equality, has at last, nothing more of either than the empty name, we possess the reality of both, as far as is consistent with any order or safety.
Our national expenses are necessarily great: but the burden of them is laid, as much as possible, on those most able to bear it; among whom, the imposers, being of the richer class, have taken a large proportion on themselves. In the nation, and in this state, the policy of government, certainly, is not to “grind the face of the poor.” The mildness and gentleness of our administration, it appears to me, is generally very great; and, in regard to its wisdom and firmness, considering the times, I think it deserving of much applause. Respecting rulers, certainly our condition, hitherto, is far different from that described and threatened in our text.
Such have been our mercies; such are our privileges. What then are our prospects? Not altogether fair and promising, after all. As in the blessings of heaven, and the abuse of these blessings, there is a striking resemblance between us, and the land of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem, at the time of this prophecy, to which we have been attending; so, in the sequel, it is possible there may be a similitude. Our mountain is not yet so strong, that we have reason, from any quarter, to say in our prosperity, we shall never be moved.
Some may flatter themselves, that, although other republics have frequently been tumultuous, and of short continuance; ours will be peaceful and permanent, because of the greater knowledge and virtue of the people.
It is true, in this part of the union at least, “We know that we all have knowledge.” But, I doubt, we have more of the “knowledge which puffeth up,” than of that knowledge which promises “stability of times.” It is true, we have the light of the gospel; and were we disposed to be guided by this light, we need not fear the fate of ancient republics, that were bewildered in pagan darkness. But, in matters relative to government and subordination; too many choose to take their instructions from heathen philosophy, rather than from the oracles of God. And as the knowledge, so the virtue, of even this happy country, exceedingly wants to be Christianized. It is true, our “charity aboundeth”: but I am afraid we have not much of that charity which is “the bond of perfectness, or the bond of peace.”
Perhaps some good people are ready to think, we may safely “trust in God; who hath delivered, and doth deliver, that he will yet deliver us.” And had we rendered according to the benefits done us, indeed, we might thus securely trust. But has this been the case? On the contrary, have we not sinned more and more, since the almost miraculous deliverances granted us? Has not the worship of God been neglected; his day and name been prophaned, his laws transgressed, and his gospel despised and rejected, of late years, more than ever? Have not infidelity, and all manner of loose principles, and immoral practices, abounded in all parts of the land, since the revolution, and our happy independence, more than at any former period? Shall we then “lean upon the Lord, and say, Is not the Lord among us? no evil can come upon us”?* Or shall we think, “Because we are innocent, surely his anger shall turn from us”? His ancient covenant people thus leaned, and thus said, in times of their greatest degeneracy; but what were the answers of God to them?† “You only have I known, of all the families of the earth; therefore will I punish you for all your iniquities.” And, “shall I not visit for these things? shall not my soul be avenged on such a nation as this?”
When we read such solemn divine admonitions as these, and consider our own ways and doings, can we confidently expect the continued smiles and protection of the holy governor of the world? Instead of this, may not our flesh well tremble for fear of him? Have we not reason to be afraid of his avenging judgments?
And has he not already begun to testify his righteous displeasure against us, in some terrible instances? For several years past, our capital towns and cities have been sorely visited with a wasting pestilence; little, if at all known before, in these parts. And now, very lately, a most awful breach has been made upon us; and of the very same kind threatened in our context to Jerusalem and Judah. For, behold, the Lord, the Lord of hosts, hath taken away from America, the stay and the staff: the mighty man, and the man of war. The judge, and the prudent, and the ancient: The captain of all our armies, and our most honorable man. All these, in one; by a sudden and surprising stroke, hath the Lord taken away. The man who “fought for us, and adventured his life for, and delivered us.” The man who gave system to our distracted affairs; united our broken confederacy; and long guided our difficult course, between the whirlpools of European wars. The man, but for whom, very possibly, we should now have been wretched, conquered, rebel colonies; instead of triumphant, free, independent states; and but for whom, afterwards, we might have been as a roap of sand, instead of a strong united nation: The man to whom we are thus indebted—on whom we were thus dependent, is no more.
What farther public calamities the sudden decease of this great Saviour of his country may portend, God only knows. We have reason to apprehend, that as he was ever prosperous in life, so his death, for him, was favorably timed; that he was taken out of the way of evils to come; great evils coming on a land most dear to him; which he could only have seen, to his inexpressible sorrow of heart, without being able to prevent. This lesson, however, we are plainly and most impressively taught, by a providence which has clothed a continent in mourning; that Gods on earth must die like men.* That “no man hath power over the spirit, to retain the spirit; neither hath he power in the day of death; and there is no discharge in that war.” We have many great and good men, yet spared to us; nor are we without one, at the head of our national government, who, I presume, has the high veneration of the best judges, and their cordial prayers that he may long live; and long fill the important station which he now possesses. But his breath is in his nostrils; and so is the breath of every other man, most accounted of; in the nation, or in the state. Nor is natural death, the only way whereby our remaining firm pillars, may be removed.
And if we consider the spirit that now worketh, well may we be apprehensive of unhappy changes; and of all the evils threatened in our text. Some of these, we already experience. Though God hath not given children to be our princes, nor many bad men, we hope, to rule over us; yet the people are oppressed one by another, in a degree, I believe, beyond what has been usual heretofore. And certainly it is a remarkable day, for the child’s behaving himself proudly against the ancient, and the base against the honorable. Nor is this to be wondered at. Of such scenes as we have lately passed through, it is the natural consequence. In revolutionary times, all expressions of respect are wont to be laid aside, or the application of them reversed. The great lessons inculcated on youth, instead of modesty, dutifulness and subordination; are boldness, self-sufficiency, and self-importance. Children, too young to read the bible, or to be taught their catechism, are mounted on the stage, to act the orator, the patriot and politician: while the parents, the aged and the wise, sit or stand around in low place, wonder and applaud. Brutus and Cassius (not Jesus nor Paul, Peter nor John), are the great models and instructors, of the rising generation of Christians. Such things as these, we have seen; and the effects of them, we still sadly feel. Habits of subordination, always painful to human pride; when once effaced, or much weakened, are not easily restored. On the other hand, habits of haughtiness and disobedience, always congenial to the human heart; when once imbibed, naturally increase to more ungovernableness. One point of freedom gained, another is struggled for with the greater ardor. Licentiousness, like the grave, never says, “It is enough.”
In this state, though not near so free as some, great liberties are enjoyed. We have liberty to do every thing that we ought; and a great many things that we ought not. In matters of religion, our liberties are almost unbounded. We may sell, buy and read, what books we please: the best, or the most atheistical and blasphemous. We may worship what god we choose: a just God, or one who has no justice for men to fear. Every creature, has equal liberty to preach the gospel: and to preach what gospel he thinks proper. Those who persuade men by the terrors of the Lord, to stand in awe, and not sin; and those who embolden men in all manner of iniquity, by assurances of no wrath to come, have equal encouragement. Any people may make the firmest legal contract for the support of what minister they will; and any number, or all of them, may break it when they will. In civil matters, our liberty is a little more circumscribed; yet, in these, we have a good deal of elbow-room, to do wrong, as well as right. We may honor all men, or defame the most dignified and worthy characters. We may speak the truth, or assert and propagate falsehoods. Men may fulfil their promises, or not fulfil them; pay their debts, or never pay them, without any restraint, or much danger of compulsion. All these liberties, and a thousand others, if not explicitly by law allowed; are taken, very freely by many, in their worst latitude; and taken with impunity, in a multitude of instances.
Yet, with all this, numbers among ourselves, and much greater numbers in the freer states, it is said, are not satisfied; but are striving, by calumnies, and by intrigues, for new revolutions still further to weaken government. That some men might wish to have their own hands and tongues at greater liberty, provided their neighbours and enemies could be kept fast bound, may easily be conceived: but how any man, on the least sober reflection, should be willing that all others should be under less restraint than they now are, appears almost inconceivable. One would have thought, that the tragedy so long exhibited on the great European theatre of confusion, and especially the last scene; must have opened the eyes of the most blind; and obliged them to see, that overturning and overturning, with a view to break all bonds of society asunder, is not the way to public happiness, or personal safety. Nevertheless, this seems not to have been the case. A majority of the people, however, it may be presumed, are convinced, that our greatest immediate danger, is of having too little government, not too little liberty.
Nor are our duties, if we have this conviction, hard to be understood. Were we in earnest disposed, to stand in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way? And would we walk therein, rest might be found; and the threatened evils now spoken of, be prevented.
If we would not have the child behave himself proudly against the ancient, and the base against the honorable, greater attention should be paid to the schooling and government of the rising generation. Some attempt towards a reform in this matter has already been made, under the auspices of the general assembly: and, as far as I have had opportunity to observe, it has been attended with encouraging effects. It is necessary that those just weaned from the breast, should have line upon line, and precept upon precept; and it is of importance what those lines and precepts are. Little ones should be learnt their letters, at least; if not a few lines of the New-Testament, before they are learnt to be Grecian and Roman orators and patriots. They should be learnt a little modesty, and a little manners, before they are learnt to govern the nation. They should be made good children, before we attempt to make them great men.
If our legislators would prevent our being oppressed every one by another, the old and good way is, to have a code of laws, as short and plain as possible, and suitably inforced. Obsolete laws; and laws the only tendency of which is to evade, or needlessly delay, the operation of justice; I should think, ought to be repealed. And certainly great care should be taken, by the appointment of capable and faithful judiciary and informing officers, that the laws unrepealed be duly executed.
If our judges of courts, would keep us from oppressing, or being oppressed, they should cause “judgment to run down as waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream.” They should see that the old complaint in Isaiah;* “Judgment is turned away backward, and justice standeth afar off; truth is fallen in the street, and equity cannot enter,” be not applicable to ourselves. They should see, if possible, that their judgment seats be not environed with so high piles of voluminous fortifications, and such numerous garrisons, armed at all points, and able to defend any thing, that right can hardly be obtained, in the plainest cause, without a siege, as long, and as costly, as the siege of Troy.
If the freemen—the fountain of power, would strengthen government, or guard against its being farther weakened; they should be very punctual in attending their legal meetings, and very careful for whom they give in their suffrages, as members of Assembly, or of Congress. They should see that they do not vote for weak men, however honest; nor for vicious men, however capable; nor for intriguing men, who are crowding themselves forward, by every popular artifice: who understand perfectly all the duties and faults of their superiors, but see no beam in their own eye, and never mind their own business. Men of real abilities, are generally unassuming and self-diffident. Men sensible of the difficulties and responsibility of important posts of trust, are generally backward to undertake them. Men restless where they are, and troublesome to those above them, are generally haughty and overbearing, if advanced to higher stations. Nor should the freemen be too much given to change; unless they mean to weaken government. Bad men, if in office, cannot be too soon turned out; but those who have ruled well, ought not to be dropped, merely that every man may have his turn; nor merely to show the great power of the people, and to keep their servants, who govern them, more in fear of them.
The ministers of the gospel, are thought to have no concern with the temporal happiness of mankind: doubtless, the good way for them, whether the old way or not, is to confine themselves very much to their spiritual vocation. Doubtless their principal business is, to save the souls of those who hear them. But in order to [do] this, they must warn all, of that “wrath of God which is revealed from heaven, against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men.” They must “convert sinners from the error of their ways,” or they cannot “save their souls from death.” They must teach their converts to “observe all things whatsoever Christ hath commanded,” by himself or his apostles; or they cannot make them “meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light.” And among these instructions, teaching them to “obey those who have the rule over them, and to be cautious how they speak evil of dignities, must not be omitted. Ministers must not “shun to declare all the counsel of God,” both to rulers and subjects, if they would be “pure from the blood of all men.” In a word, they must do what in them lies to make all their hearers good Christians; for without this they can never get them to heaven; and they need do no more, to make them peaceable and orderly members of society on earth. Thus far, and in this manner, Aaron may still support the hand of Moses, in ministering to the temporal good of men, even in a consistency with the modern line of separation drawn between them.
Lastly; all, of every order, if they would do their part to prevent all the evils threatened in our text and context, from coming upon us, as the righteous judgments of heaven, must see that their tongues and their doings are not against the Lord. Never can we rationally hope that God will be at peace with us, unless we treat his laws and ordinances with greater attention and respect. Unless we cease to do evil, and learn to do well; unless some check be put to those loose principles, and licentious practices, which have over-flowed all our cities, and towns, and villages.
The old paths, then, and the good way, to which we must return, and in which we must walk, would we find rest, are plain before us.
But, it is to be feared, the voice of a majority may now be, as it was in the days of Jeremiah: We will not walk therein. Both from the signs of the times, and from several predictions of scripture, I think the probability is, that things are not about to alter for the better, but for the worse. Mankind seem yet combining, and “taking counsel together, against the Lord, and against his annointed, saying, Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us”; and God seems remarkably leaving them to strong delusions, to believe strange lies. He seems determined to let them go on, and try the boasted experiment of liberty and revolutions, to the uttermost: designing, it may be supposed, to have a more convictive discovery exhibited, than has ever yet been given, of the madness in the heart of the sons of men, before the general regeneration of the world. The unclean spirits, predicted to come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet, as represented in the vision of John; appear evidently to have gone forth over all the earth, and to have been exceedingly busy and successful, in raising and training up their forces for the battle of that great day of God Almighty;* which, according to the common calculation of expositors, is now only commencing. Whether we turn our eyes to the word of prophecy, or to the aspects of providence, we have reason to be very apprehensive, that “this darkness” is yet for a while, to “cover the earth, and gross darkness the people,”† in a greater and greater degree, before the expected reign of light and truth, righteousness and peace.
Nevertheless, let not good men despond: not let them relax their exertions to repel, as long and as extensively as they can, the prevalence of error, irreligion and wretchedness. Mightier is he that is with them, than all that are against them. When it is asked in the eleventh psalm: “If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?” the answer is short, but very emphatical and abundantly sufficient: “The Lord is in his holy temple; the Lord’s throne is in heaven. Elsewhere, the psalmist, adoring the power and wisdom of the most High, says, “Surely the wrath of man shall praise thee; the remainder of the wrath shalt thou restrain.”* It is often said, “Christ is able to support his own church and ministers, without the aid of human laws.” This is doubtless true, it is also true, that Christ is able to take care of his church, and to bring the many sons given him to glory, without any ministers at all. And equally true is it, that God is able to govern the nations, without the help of earthly rulers. But, from these premises, the consequence will not follow, without hard drawing, that men may innocently and safely neglect exerting the power they have, for the support, either of good government, or of uncorrupted Christianity. “Those that walk in pride, God is able to abase”; but is there therefore nothing hazardous, nor wrong, in thus walking? A curse was once denounced, on them who “came not to the help of the Lord, against the mighty[”]; though the Lord helped himself, without their assistance. But the foregoing truths, however they may have been perverted to the countenancing of human negligence in the cause of God or Christ, are matter of just consolation to the pious and good, when they walk in darkness and have no light: when they see little probability that their utmost efforts for the support of order, or of undefiled religion, will have any effect.
There will always be some, and some that ought to be leaders and teachers, whose policy it is, to turn with the times; to swim with the tide, and swing with the vibrating pendulum of popular opinion. Who will trim their way to seek love; and “become all things to all men, if by all means they may save” themselves. But a steadfast adherence to truth and duty, however great the apparent danger, is the only way of real safety. He who thus “loses his life, shall save it”; and he shall lose his life who would save it, by deserting his post, or hiding himself under refuges of falsehood, when evil is foreseen. “The fearful and unbelieving, shall have their part” at last, in the same lake with bolder transgressors. “The fear of man bringeth a snare; but whoso putteth his trust in the Lord shall be safe.”* For the encouragement of good men, in perilous times, and particularly of good rulers, it is written: “He that walketh righteously, and speaketh uprightly; he that despiseth the gain of oppressions, that shaketh his hands from holding of bribes, that stoppeth his ears from hearing of blood, and shutteth his eyes from seeing evil; he shall dwell on high; his place of defence shall be the munitions of rocks: bread shall be given him, his waters shall be sure.”† On these grounds is the exhortation in Isaiah, a few chapters after our text,‡ with which I shall conclude. “Say ye not, A confederacy, to all them to whom this people shall say, A confederacy: neither fear ye their fear, nor be afraid. Sanctify the Lord of hosts himself; and let him be your fear, and let Him be your dread.”
[* ]Psalm cvii. 38, 39.
[† ]Chap. xi. 1–4.
[* ]Rom. xii. 8.
[* ]1 Kings XI, 28.
[* ]2 Sam. xxiii. 3.
[* ]Psalm xii. 8.
[† ]Prov. xxxi. 4.
[‡ ]Exod. xxiii. 2.
[§ ]Eccl. x. 1.
[* ]2 Sam. iii. 39.
[† ]Dan. iv. 32.
[‡ ]Psal. lxxv. 6, 7.
[§ ]Eccl. x. 16.
[* ]Psal. xi. 3.
[† ]Eccl. vii. 7.
[* ]Rom. iii. 13–17.
[† ]Ecc. x. 5, 6, 7.
[* ]Tit. iii. 1.
[† ]1 Pet, ii, 13.
[‡ ]Rom. xiii. 2.
[* ]This inference was passed over in the delivery.
[* ]Micah iii. 11. Jer. ii. 35.
[† ]Amos iii. 2. Jer. v. 9.
[* ]Psal. lxxxii. 6, 7. Eccl. viii. 8.
[* ]Chap. lix. 14.
[* ]Rev. xvi. 13, 14.
[† ]Isa. lx. 2.
[* ]Psal. lxxvi. 10.
[* ]Prov. xxix. 25.
[† ]Isa. xxxiii. 15, 16.
[‡ ]Chap. viii. 12, 13.