This election sermon was preached by Rev. William Rowland in New Hampshire on June 8, 1809.
DELIVERED BEFORE THE
HONORABLE GENERAL COURT
STATE OF NEW-HAMPSHIRE,
HOLDEN AT CONCORD,
JUNE 8, 1809.
BY WILLIAM F. ROWLAND,
PASTOR OF THE FIRST CHURCH IN EXETER.
In the House of Representatives, June 8, 1809.
VOTED, That Messrs. Ham, Edwards, and Goodall, with such as the Senate may join, be a committee to return thanks to the Rev. Mr. Rowland for his ingenious and patriotic Discourse delivered before the General Court this day, and request of him a copy for the press; and that said committee procure five hundred printed copies of the same, and lay the same before this House as soon as may be.
Sent up for concurrence.
GEO. B. UPHAM, Speaker.
In Senate, June 8, 1809.
Read and concurred….Mr. Adams joined.
ABIEL FOSTER, Clerk.
GALATIANS V. 14.
For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.
THE law of God is holy, just, and good. To entertain right ideas of this law is necessary to give us right ideas of God. To imagine this a mere ceremonial observance; or, to lessen its requirements, explain away its spirituality, and make it consist in external forms, is to detract from its dignity, and cast contempt on the authority by which it was enacted.
Erroneous sentiments in religion lead to a correspondent practice. The morals of the heathen partook of the imagined nature of their gods: where revenge was a prominent feature, they cultivated this temper; where lasciviousness, they gave themselves up to impurity. What vices soever they imagined applicable to the deity they worshipped, they eagerly embraced and practiced.
There are those in Christian lands, who, tho’ they profess to be guided by the word of God, explain it to suit their fancies, or comport with their selfish views.
The apostle is here instructing his brethren into the nature of Christian liberty; cautioning them against the abuse of it to gratify their sinful passions; exhorting them to become mutual helps, to cherish a pure affection, and to be ready at all times to perform offices of beneficence.
Here he introduces the passage, which has now been read..For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.
In attending to this subject, we will consider,
I. That the divine law is fulfilled by the exercise of Christian love.
II. The dangerous tendency of a contrary disposition.
III. The dangerous tendency of a contrary disposition.
I. That the divine law is fulfilled by the exercise of Christian love.
To explain this point, it will be essential to contemplate the nature and extent of this affection. It is an affection of the mind, divested of those partial and interested feelings, which lead men to seek their own good without regard to others. It embraces our fellow men as brethren of the same common family. As we love ourselves, so should we love them; as we tenderly regard our own happiness, so should we regard theirs; as we would avoid whatever would be injurious to our own name, our persons, our interest, our peace and felicity in this and a future world, so should we, with equal sedulity, guard against everything that would, in either respect, tend to the injury of others. Whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them. This is an infallible rule, applicable at all times, and in all circumstances. Our blessed Savior expressly enjoined this affection; and stiled it a new commandment, because, under the Gospel, it is more fully and particularly explained, than it was under the ancient economy. Treating of this important subject, how plain and forcible is his language! Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy: but I say unto you, love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; for if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? Do not even the publicans the same? Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect. In respect to the extent of this affection, we observe, that it is so widely and so generally diffused, as to embrace the universe.
But how does the exercise of Christian affection fulfill the law? The whole Decalogue our Savior comprises in two commands…Love to God and our neighbor; because there is nothing commanded but what may be comprised in them. The apostle brings all into one, and says, Love is the fulfilling of the law. And the whole is included by our Savior, when he says, All the law is fulfilled in love. The whole of religion is often represented by one Christian virtue; because one branch of duty cannot be regarded without a love to the whole. If we truly love our neighbor as ourselves, in obedience to the command of God, we cannot fail to love him who gave the command; and thus the law is fulfilled. But, if any love not his brother, whom he hath seen, how can he love God, whom he hath not seen? To love our particular friends and relatives, from whom we receive, or expect, kindness, is only to love ourselves.
II. The influence of this temper on individuals and on society.
Of all the systems of religion which have been devised, and the laws of the wisest legislators, none like this was ever calculated to render society happy. False systems of religion, invented by interested men, have breathed a spirit of revenge and cruelty. The various codes of civil laws which men have enacted, could look no farther than to an outward obedience. But the system of inspired truth enjoins the purest morals, and forbids every malevolent disposition. It breathes love and good will to men. Conformity to this sacred rule, will make the most perfect society. The spirit of love, which it enjoins, carried into effect, will subdue all the rough and turbulent passions, and make earth resemble heaven in concord, harmony, and order.
The influence of this temper on individuals, families, and society, is highly important.
On individuals it has a salutary effect. Those who are influenced by this, will be much engaged in devising means for the relief of the indigent and oppressed, in silencing the tongue of slander, and extinguishing the flames of contention. Amiable in their lives, gentle in their manners, benevolent in their dispositions, they labor for a general diffusion of happiness. The influence of example extends far and wide. As one sinner destroys much good, so one good man prevents much evil. His exemplary deportment is a constant reproof to the wicked, and restraint from those enormities, into which they would otherwise be hurried. Thus shall we be led to the industrious pursuits of our appropriate business; and society, so far from groaning under the burdens which we impose, will rejoice in us as her ornaments of grace, and pillars of support. When the members, that compose the body politic, are duly solicitous to discharge the duties which appertain to their various and respective spheres; when they are not infatuated with any unsuitable desires of preferment, or of advantage over others; when they are meekly content to fill the circle of duty marked for them, and are anxious only to secure the plaudit of their God, then society is filled with order, peace, and happiness.
On families its influence is no less happy. It excites in all the members a mutual affection. Each feels an equal interest in the other, and in the whole, as in his own, and will indulge no partial feelings. As in the human body, when one member suffers, all the members suffer; and when one rejoices, all rejoice; so in a family where its members are all thus influenced, there can be no enjoyments, or sorrows, in which all do not partake. Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! As the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion: for there the Lord commanded the blessing, even life forever more.
This principle will have a benign influence on society. It is indeed its cementing bond. Without this, the strong foundations of the earth give way, and all the tottering superstructure falls into dust and ruin.
Without religion, no society of men can exist and be happy. This remark, founded on reason and revelation, is confirmed by the experience of ages. All nations have had recourse to religion of some kind or form, to support their civil institutions, to give efficacy to their laws, and to induce obedience from those for whom laws are enacted. Remove the restraints, which this lays on the passions and lusts of men, and no rulers, how wise and virtuous soever, will be able to execute the laws, or administer the affairs of government. On rulers its influence is important. It will induce them to study the things which will best comport with the general good. Considering themselves as guardians of the lives, interests, and happiness, of the people, not clothed with authority to sport with their liberties, they will not seek their own aggrandizement; but, as the ministers of God, they will rule for him, and be just and righteous in their administrations. Judgment will be their robe and diadem. The laws which they enact, will be just; and they will be mercifully executed. Disinterested in their public conduct, they will not suffer themselves to be governed by personal favor, nor prejudice, nor private advantage. Truth and integrity will possess their hearts; affection and tenderness will guide their ways.
The civil ruler stands connected with the people under his authority, as a father to a family, and should govern with impartiality. He pities those who err; but uses the rod of coercion with firmness. He is a terror to evil doers and a praise to them that do well. His example also will be such as will conduce to the public good. He who is governed by no principle of virtue, will be regardless of his conduct; and a vicious ruler is a curse to a community. The fountain being impure, the streams will partake of its pollution. Prone to evil, as degenerate men are, they eagerly embrace the vices of those who move in elevated spheres; and the wisest laws, with the evil examples of those who make and those who execute them, will be unavailing. The Most High will vindicate the dignity of his word. Those who honor him, he will honor; and no one honors him who lightly esteems his laws and institutions.
The history of God’s people in former ages, and the experience of the pious in this age, concur in testifying to the truth of this declaration. Indeed the elevation of virtuous and holy men only is an honorable elevation; but the elevation of unprincipled and infidel characters is that shame which shall be the promotion of fools. The customary expressions of honor, are obvious contradictions to their true character. Their infidelity and their sins prove them to be a satire. In the moments of sober reflection, if to characters of this description there be any seasons which may be properly so designated, they will feel them to be such.
The thinking part of the community possess too much wisdom to respect them in their hearts. They may have dignities conferred on them, I mean names of honor, and offices of authority and confidence; but cannot expect to be esteemed by the valuable part of society.
Religion alone entitles to the honor that is truly worthy of the desire of a rational mind. Every other claim to elevation must fail for want of support.
The Most High is the source of all true dignity; and everything that is worthy the name, must be derived from him. How then can there be any propriety in raising men to honor and authority, and thus assimilating them to him, when they are so totally unlike him in wisdom, benevolence, and holiness? It is interdicted not only by reason and sound policy, but also by the unerring standard of truth.
“To hold great power, and places of confidential trust, is a state of temptation, which every man cannot resist; and those who are wise will not accept a call to public service, until by examination, they find in their hearts fixed principles of fidelity. A bad man may seek elevation, but it is only a good man who cn bear it: and, it is not always attended with honor, for this depends on the principles and conduct of the person who is raised.” 1
Piety towards God and benevolence towards men, should be exhibited in the whole deportment of rulers; and their support and power of directing, should co-operate with their disinterested and energetic exercise of office, in discouraging and abashing all wickedness, and in advancing the cause of truth, peace, and righteousness.
Rulers should therefore be, in the language of a justly celebrated father, “examples of piety, justice, sobriety, zeal for the glory of God, his day, house, and ordinances. A ruler is sometimes called a seal or signet, and possibly one reason may be, that whatever is engraven on them will leave its impression on their people, and therefore rulers had need take care that they bear the signet of undissembled holiness, that the impression on those under them may be holy. Superiors, by their example, give laws to men; their virtuous actions may do more to reform a vicious age, than all other methods. The good lives of such, carry authority and sovereignty in them.
“On the other hand, the evil examples of rulers weaken the hands of government, and spread a deadly infection, that wasteth at noon day. Their evil lives are a public invitation to others to follow them; and are as authentic passports to all manner of iniquity. And it is not to be wondered, if magistrates are rulers of Sodom, that those under their conduct will be people of Gomorrah.” 2
Rulers are ministers of God, and, therefore, should be nursing fathers to the church. In order to this they must feel an interest in Zion’s prosperity. If they do not, they are dangerous to the liberties and prosperity of the people. Influenced by selfish considerations, they will seek the subversion instead of the peace of the church.
The idea, that the opposers of religion will seek the true interests of the community, is a wild chimera, and a most dangerous error. They have no principle to guide them, no integrity of heart to direct them, no rule of duty, and no sense of the account which they must render to God, or just impression of a day of judgment. Would any entrust their private concerns in such hands with that confidence, which they would feel in those, whose actions are regulated by the word of God? And will they commit the dearest interests of their country, its liberties and religious institutions, to those who have no sense of their accountability, and are uninfluenced by the retributions of an eternal state? The ruler, who is duly influenced by a love to his neighbour, will rule in the fear of God; will feel the cares of his people, and their interests will be all his own. A regard to the benevolent principle, which the text inculcates, will make good subjects, as well as good rulers. They will be submissive to good and wholesome regulations, easily restrained from evil, and from choice, and a sense of duty, not from servile dread, obey those who are placed over them in the Lord. They will render to all their dues, tribute to whom tribute, custom to whom custom, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor; and they will owe no man anything, but to love one another. This will harmonize the feelings of people, subdue that contentious spirit which so often disturbs the peace of society, and prevent those partial feelings, which excite men to seek their own, without regarding the welfare of others. They will be ready to every good work—every office of kindness and generosity; to administer to each other’s necessity; to dwell together in unity; to study the things which make for peace, and the things whereby one may edify another. Thus men become imitators of Christ, whose nature is benevolence, and who is emphatically the Prince of Peace.
Were every heart thus expanded with benevolence, it would give the greatest security to the State. It would be a far better defense than walls and bulwarks; and, like a phalanx, impenetrable by the assaults of the most formidable enemies, would strike them with terror and dismay. This would strengthen the nerves of civil government, give firmness to her councils, and energy to her laws. Under its influence, men would dwell secure; the cry of oppression and violence would no more be heard; but mutual good-will, and a friendly interchange of kind offices, would enliven every circle of domestic enjoyment.
We proposed to make some remarks,
III. On the dangerous tendency of a contrary disposition.
A spirit of discord, and party rage, in a society, state, or nation, carries with it the most deadly evil. It endangers their rights and liberties, civil and religious. Where contention is, there is every evil work. Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand.
This malignant spirit, in its principles and influence, is directly the reverse of that benevolence of which we have been speaking. It is the stain and reproach of a people. It blasts every blessing within the sphere of its influence, destroys public confidence, weakens the sinews of government, invites rapacity, injustice, violence, and bloodshed. It calls into operation those passions which disturb the peace of all around them. Under its influence, men are displeased with every passing occurrence, and with all with whom they have any concern. Uneasy under the restraints of religion, they vent their displeasure against those who minister in holy things; they foment discord in society; labor to break its sacred bond of union, and excite jealousies against those who wield the sword of justice.
The conflicting passions excite a constant tumult within, break out with impetuous fury, and bear away the dearest blessings in their progress.
In families, those small societies united by firm compact, how dreadful are its effects! The views of its members clash! Instead of servant, cordial affection, bitterness, wrath, malevolence: Instead of seeking the general good, each is making separate interest, and is unfeeling to the wants of the other.
Rulers of this description are consulting their own private emolument and family aggrandizement, instead of the public good. They do not rule for God; but for themselves…are haughty, imperious, looking down with supercilious contempt on those who move in the humble walks of life. One sets up against another, each forms a party to himself, and attempts, by every possible mean, to raise himself on the ruin of others. To carry into execution his plans, he inflames the passions of men; and hence the community is kept in a constant ferment!
When a nation is composed of many such members, the effect is such as might well be expected. They will bite and devour one another, until they are consumed one of another. This contentious spirit destroys the social bond, by which the members are connected, and often ends in the destruction of one, or the other, and sometimes of both of the contending parties. In small societies its effects are awful; in larger, they are similar, but carry with them more dreadful destruction.
The strength of a nation, under God, depends on its union. By weakening the sinews of government, countenancing injustice, violence, and party rage, it becomes enfeebled, distracted, convulsed in every nerve, and the symptoms of death are visible. In such a state of things, what security can there be of property, or even of life?
A nation divided against itself, is exposed to the intrigue of its enemies, and to fall an easy prey to the first assailants. Look into the history of former nations, and learn the cause of their downfall. The ancient republic of Rome, for a time, flourished, the seat of learning, the fountain of riches, the mistress of the world; but, divided in sentiment, torn by faction and contending parties, she fell a prey to their rapacity, and the lives and liberties of the citizens became subject to the will of a tyrant. United she stood, but divided, she fell from her former glory!
The Jews, by internal faction, were reduced to the Roman yoke. This has eminently been the case with republics in our day….with Holland, Switzerland, Geneva. It was the policy of their enemy to divide their councils, to blow up the flame of contention among the people; and thus they became an easy prey to his conquering arm.
Our own country has been threatened with destruction. We have been involved in dangers from our foreign relations; but much more from our divided and distracted state among ourselves. Our principal danger resulted from our disunion and our want of Christian love.
The rules of our duty are plain; and their reasonableness and benevolence are attested by the consciences of men. The supreme moral Governor of the universe, in the revelation of his will, which is given to men, requires that they be holy; that they resemble him in his moral character; and without this assimilation, they have no part nor lot in the felicity prepared for them that love him.
God, the giver of every good and perfect gift, is likewise the guardian of our rights, and of those of all his creatures; and his dreadful anger is excited by every invasion of them, either by superior strength, or subtle artifice and intrigue.
To disbelieve or even to doubt of the truth of religion, is unfriendly to patriotism; it checks, it extinguishes all benevolent sentiments in the human heart, damps all the ardor of the soul, chills the bosom, and paralizes the nerves of the body politic.
When the greatest affairs of the State are committed to those in all whose thoughts the supreme Governor has no place, they must be managed in a manner that can yield no satisfaction to its enlightened citizens; but in a manner that cannot fail to fill them with mourning and tears. Can it be reasonably expected, that those of this description will feel disposed cordially to relinquish their pursuits, yield to another’s judgment their designs, and sacrifice their personal advantage to promote the welfare of the community? To require this of them would be taking away their gods. Their private interest is the ultimate object of their desire and pursuit. What, will they relinquish their supreme good? Ah, how impotent is reason, and how quickly are all its bonds loosed and dissolved, when those of religion are broken, and unable to subdue the wills and restrain the tumultuous and riotous passions of men! If there be, who can felicitate themselves in a state, in which they are without God, and without Christ, in the world, and therefore without any good hope through grace, we have reason to think that they have already a foretaste of that torpor, that mental stupidity, on which they calculate as the ultimate allotment of men!
What security will be found to soothe and tranquilize the bosom of the governed, when no bond is fixed on those to whom they have committed the most sacred earthly betrustment? What will ensure the right exercise of the authority reposed in them? What, besides religion, will give magistracy the confidence of those who have put the power in their hands? Is there anything else which can induce the various classes in society to embark in the cause of patriotism? Is there anything else that can make constitutions of civil polity, and the administration of the laws, a real advantage to the community; or that can ensure to the rulers of the people a support of their power? What other prop has ever been found sufficient, so to maintain the authority of those in office, as to enable them to exercise it in that manner, which is essential in order to effect its beneficial objects?
Society, which relinquishes some rights, and elevates to authority and trust, some of its members, to secure to all their lives, liberties, and fortunes, and promote the common good, will claim the right to resume that authority and trust, when they think they do not derive from this source the good which they contemplated.
If the ties which bind society be acknowledged, I would ask in what manner the beneficial objects of authoritative institutions are to be sought and acquired? In what manner are disputes to be decided, contentions settled, and individuals shielded from reciprocal attack? What credit is to be given to the testimony of those who have no fear of God before their eyes? With men of such principles, no oath can be of any advantage.
Without reverence for the being and perfections of Jehovah, the proceedings of all legal processes must be attended with extreme difficulty, and succeeded by dissatisfaction. What a multitude of habits are opposed to the good of society, which however are not cognizable by the civil institutions! The most enormous sins are frequently practiced in so concealed a manner, that they are not perceived: and such are the numbers and force of the offenders, that they will not be afraid of the power which is impotent to punish and coerce.
On the ground of infidelity, men can repose no confidence in each other. The weak become the victims of the strong, and the artless a prey to the subtle.
The subject naturally applies itself to rulers, ministers, and people.
1. To Rulers…The legislators and chief officers of the State, who are this day gathered before the Lord in his courts, will permit me, without fear of offence, to discharge my duty in the application of this subject to them.
May it please your Excellency, 3
The language of adulation we presume would be as disgusting to the Christian magistrate to receive, as it would be improper for the Christian minister to offer. We have no reason to doubt, it is the first of your Excellency’s wishes to render certain the divine approbation. Feeling your dependence on God, and acting for his glory, you will most assuredly secure the protection of his providence, and the supports and encouragements of his grace, which alone are adequate to the cares and burdens of office.
You need to feel the influence of religion, peculiarly as your duties are greater, and your trials are more severe, on account of the elevated situation which you occupy.
You are favored with an opportunity to do much for God, his cause, and kingdom, in the world, and to promote the welfare of society; and, in the consciousness of thus acting, you will enjoy much more than it is in our power to bestow. And when the distinctions which obtain in the present state shall all be done away, you will enjoy immortal honor and glory.
You, Honorable Councillors, Senators, and Representatives of the State, will naturally feel an interest in the subject. To you it suggests the importance of exercising this benevolence in your own breasts, and diffusing its salutary influence to all around you.
In your important and dignified stations, this virtue will shine with a pleasing and brilliant lustre. Under its benign influence, you will rule for God, and study to promote the spiritual as well as temporal interest of the people. Ye are gods, and as such should imitate the moral perfections of God, imitate his government, which is righteousness, justice, and benevolence. But, remember, though you are gods, you must die like men! The grave levels all distinctions, and brings all to their final account. Influenced by these considerations, you will discharge with fidelity the duties of your several stations; you will encourage religion, and respect its holy doctrines, laws, and institutions. The most successful attack which the enemies of Christianity can make on religion, is by discouraging its institutions, and causing them to be neglected.
If the public dispensation of the divine word and ordinances were neglected, men would fall into gross ignorance of God, and holy things; and the light of the Gospel would be succeeded by the midnight darkness of paganism or infidelity.
I am well aware, that, in the opinion of some, civil government has no concern with religion. I know also that religion will stand without the aid of civil government, and even with all the opposition it can raise; but civil government cannot stand without the aid of religion. And is it not for the interest of magistrates to give all the support in their power to the institutions of that religion, which is essential to their political existence? The preaching of the Gospel lays the most powerful restraint on the passions of men. It humanizes and renders them social and submissive to good regulations.
They have no right to bind the consciences, which ought to be left free and unrestrained.
Magistrates, like others, are accountable to God for the discharge of their official trust; and are equally concerned to approve themselves to God, that they may receive the final rewards of the just. They are interested in the peace and prosperity of the people; and is it possible, that they can be prosperous and happy, when the Gospel has lost its influence, and the passions of men are without restraint?
Influenced by the benevolent principles which have been recommended, Legislators, you will do all in your power to encourage the University, and other literary institutions in this State. You need not be informed of the importance of doing this. Attention to literary institutions is essential to the good instruction of the young, the order of society, and the transmission to posterity of the invaluable blessings of civil and religious liberty, as a fair and unimpaired inheritance. If this be wanting, error and ignorance will abound; and rudeness of manners will rob them of all the blessings, and unfit them for the duties and enjoyments of the social state.
Remember, they will soon be the conductors of the affairs of our country. O, suffer them not to grow up in ignorance and licentiousness, for want of the proper means of instruction, and the restraints of government. Above all, remember, that they are candidates for eternity, and that, under God, you are to be instruments of their happiness, or misery forever! You will not only enact wise and good laws, but see that they be enforced. In this way you will be a terror to evil doers, and a praise to them that do well. In this way you will manifest a benevolent regard for their immortal interests, and for the peace and prosperity of the community.
In these your laudable undertakings, we bid you God speed. May the presence of Almighty God be with you in your councils, his smiles be upon all your deliberations, and his future approbation your crown of glory.
2. The Ministers of religion will feel the importance of living under the influence of this benevolent principle. This should be conspicuous in our lives, and in all our public labors. If we have imbibed the spirit of the Gospel, it is this which has induced us to a voluntary abandonment of the riches and honors of the world; and to take up with a scanty subsistence for our unremitted labors. It is this, which induces us to spend and be spent in the service of our people, for their spiritual profiting; to meet, undaunted, the frowns and reproaches of the enemies of our religion, and patiently bear, when those, whose good we seek, repay our love with hatred. Animated by this noble spirit, let us go on in the work of the Lord. By our meekness, gentleness, and benevolence, we shall bear down everything which opposes our progress. Should we be called to suffer in the cause of truth, let us remember we have a glorious pattern set before us in the Gospel; and that it is enough, that the disciples be as their Lord. Let us preach and pray with zeal, engagedness, and fervor, in season and out of season; and reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with all long-suffering and doctrine.
Our work is solemn and important, our responsibility great, and if we be faithful to our trust, our reward will be glorious! If we be instruments of diffusing the benign influence of our holy religion, we shall do much to strengthen the hands of our civil fathers, to avert the threatening judgments of Heaven, and advance the real prosperity of our land. We shall administer spiritual consolation to those who are its proper subjects, save their souls from death, and receive the approbation of our Judge.
3. People of every class, imbibe the spirit of the meek and benevolent Jesus. This will be your highest interest, and your greatest glory. It will give you peace within, which passeth all understanding. Acquaint now yourselves with God, and be at peace. Believe on the Son of God, devote yourselves entirely to him, and his love will constrain you to lay aside all wrath, and malice, and evil speaking, and to cultivate love and good-will to all men. Avoid a contentious spirit, the fatal rock on which many have been dashed; the worm at the root of every social and civil blessing.
We have reason to tremble that iniquity abounds, and the love of many waxes cold. How many are there, who profane the name of God; who flight and contemn his ordinances; who violate his laws, and neglect the worship of his sanctuary! How many who are found wanting in that love which is the fulfilling of the law; who are covenant-breakers, unjust, unmerciful! For these things, cometh the wrath of God on the children of disobedience. How has our nation been torn and rent with intestine division! Discord has stalked through our land, and threatened to spread desolation and ruin over our fair inheritance!
Let us all strive to cultivate peace and mutual good will. Guard against party spirit. It is political frenzy. Look to the merit of your candidates; select from among your brethren the most wise and discreet to fill the seats of government; and then see that you fill the sphere and duty assigned you, and be always ready to attend to the calls and exigencies of the public. Train those who are committed to your care in the way in which they should go; teach them to reverence our holy religion; guard them against the poisonous writings of infidels; restrain them from all profanation of the name, the day, the law, and institutions, of Jehovah; and impress their minds with their need of a vital union to Christ. They are soon to stand in your places, and to take the lead in the civil and religious interests of our land. How important is it that they be guided right. It is of infinite moment that their minds be enriched with correct and confirmed principles of religion; and that they be governed by its sacred dictates in all their conduct.
Finally, if all were governed by the principles, which have been suggested, how happy would be the state of society! There would be no violence, nor oppression, nor complaining in our streets. This earth would be a striking resemblance of Heaven, where nothing will ever enter that defileth or worketh abomination, or maketh a lie. But whatever may be the state of society in general, in this sinful world, those, who are conformed to the blessed and adorable Jesus in their temper and practice, will enjoy the richest consolations! It will be well with them amidst all the trials of life. With them it will be well amidst the revolutions of nations! with them it will be well in the trying hour of death! And when earth shall be convulsed, the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the Heavens shall be wrapped together like a scroll, and all shall be gathered before the judgment seat of Christ, they shall receive the remunerations of the blessed.
1. Dr. Strong’s Election Sermon. (Return)
2. Pemberton. (Return)
3. This address was delivered to Governor Langdon, being still in the Chair. (Return)