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particular, in all that relates to his own official conduct, and in whatever affects the rights of others. On every principle he is bound to shew this deference to the laws;- from his love of justice, of rational liberty, and of the peace and prosperity of his country. He ought, therefore, to be well acquainted with the constitution and laws of the realm.

To the king of Israel it was enjoined : “ It shall be, when he sitteth upon the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write a copy of this law in a book, and it shall be with him ; and he shall read therein all the days of his life ; that he may learn to fear the Lord his God, to keep all the words of this law, and these statutes to do them ; that his heart be not lifted up above his brethren ; and that he turn not aside from the commandment to the right hand or to the left *.”

V. A ruler is bound to exhibit a good example. As a man, he ought in his own conduct to be blameless; to be a pattern in his obedience to the laws of

; God and of man; and to lead others by the silent but powerful influence of his virtues to honour God, and to keep his commandments. He should be regular in the observance of his duties to God, in revering his name and ordinances, in remembering and sanctifying the sabbath, and, generally, in practising the things that are true, and just, and honest, and lovely, and of good report, if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise. He will, in this way, render his elevation a public blessing, the means of checking vice, and of encouraging and diffusing virtue. His eyes shall be upon the faithful of the land, that

* Deut. xvii. 19, 20.

they may dwell with him; he that walketh in a perfect way shall serve him: he that worketh deceit shall not be in his house: he that telleth lies shall not tarry in his sight.

There is not a greater earthly blessing than pious and just rulers, nor any for which the people have greater cause to be thankful. When God denounced judgments against Israel he threatened them with the removal of such rulers from all the departments of the government. 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 honourable man, and the counsellor, and the cunning artificer, and the eloquent orator. 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*.”

When we reflect on all that good rulers may be instrumental in accomplishing,—not merely in averting the numerous evils which affect the liberty, the property, and the life of man,—but in the blessings which they communicate, the privileges which they guard, the institutions for promoting the education, comfort, safety, usefulness, religion, and morals, of unborn millions, which they patronize, we cannot but regard the judgment here denounced as one of the very heaviest that can fall on mankind.

* Isa. iii. 1-5.




We cannot impress too deeply on our mind a sense of the great importance of a faithful discharge of our obligations to the government under which we live, and which we are bound by so many ties to support and defend. These obligations are numerous; and the Scripture by enforcing them by all the sanctions of religion, strengthens greatly the bands of civil society.

I. Christianity inculcates on subjects the duty of obedience to their rulers. To this I have already adverted, and only again recur to it for the purpose of making a very few additional observations. This duty is enforced by far higher motives, and on much surer grounds, by Divine Revelation, than it is possible for unaided reason to suggest. It commands its disciples to regard the existing authorities, with. out any inquiry as to their origin, as appointed by God; and to give them the prompt and universal obedience due to Him whose will they express, and whose benevolent designs they are intended to promote. It represents governors as the servants of God, and exercising, in the discharge of their office, a power delegated to them by the Sovereign Ruler of all things.

Thus, obedience to magistrates is enjoined by the authority of God ;-an authority which must influence

the conscience, and secure to the ordinances of civil government a faithful observance. A provision is made for the order and stability of society, by making disobedience to lawful authority a sin equal in aggravation to a trespass of the law of God. Christianity binds subjects to obedience by far greater penalties than it is in the power of magistrates to inflict-by the pains of God's displeasure ; and reminds them ou an approaching day, in which they must answer at his tribunal for this part of their conduct.

II. The particular duties which we owe to our rulers, and the manner in which these duties ought to be performed, are specified in the Scriptures. In our obedience to civil magistrates we are there required to have God, his authority, and glory, constantly in view; and to consider them as entitled to our subjection, not because they have greater power than we, but because they are the officers of the King Eternal, and rule by his commission. Unless we view them in this light we wrong him whose servants they are,-just as much as we should wrong the monarch to whose representative we did not render due honour.

Subjects are not at liberty, on account of the vices of their rulers, to forget the dignity and authority of their office. Nor are they in the slightest degree, in consequence of these personal sins, exempted from obedience. Nor are they, on any principle of christian duty allowed to speak evil of them, or to bring railing accusations against them. While they may cautiously and modestly exercise their judgment on the public conduct of their rulers, they are to speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, shewing all meekness unto all men. The example of our Lord and Master is in this as in all other respects to be imitated; who when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously. Nor are we at liberty, according to the Christian law, even to wish evil in our thoughts to our governors, under a mistaken impression as to the utility of their measures. “ Curse not the king, no not in thy thoughts; for a bird of the air shall carry the voice, and that which hath wings shall tell the matter *.”

They are enjoined to pray constantly and heartily for their rulers. This duty, I fear, we are apt to discharge as a form,-as a customary petition, which it would be indecent to omit. In what a different light does its importance appear by the language in which it is enforced. I exhort,” says the Apostle Paul, “ that first of all, supplications, prayers, and intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men ; for kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour.” The disposition of mind required in presenting such supplications before the throne of grace is not less favourable to our own happiness, than it is to the peace and harniony of society.

We owe our rulers gratitude for the blessings which, under Providence, we enjoy by their government. I am satisfied that the spirit of Christianity requires us to cherish this kind and grateful feeling towards the


* Proverbs.

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