Before His Honor
Oliver Wolcott, Esq. L.L.D.
Lieutenant- Governor and Commander in Chief,
the Honorable the
State of Connecticut,
at Hartford, on the day of the
By John Marsh, A.M.
of the First Church in Wethersfield.
At a General Assembly of the State of Connecticut, holden
at Hartford, on the second Thursday of May, A.D. 1796.
Ordered, That the Honorable Jeremiah Wadsworth and
Ezekiel Porter Belden, Esquire, present the Thanks of the General Assembly to
the Rev. Mr. Marsh, for his Sermon delivered on the day of the General
Election, and request a copy thereof, that it may be printed. A true copy of
Record, Test, Samuel Wyllys, Sec'ry.
upon me, my God, for good, according to all that I have done for this people.
This is the language of a ruler,
who was an ardent lover of his nation. He had done much for the people over
whom he was placed, and had the satisfaction arising from a consciousness, that
he had served them from the best principles and the purest motives. He could
appeal to God, to whom he had respect in the discharge of the duties of his
office, and with comfort hope in him for that reward in his favor, which he
hath graciously encouraged all, who do well, to expect. Happy are those rulers,
who, like Nehemiah, have the interest of their people at heart, and under the
habitual influence of the fear of God, and with a prevailing regard
to his approbation, exert themselves for the promotion of their welfare! Happy
is that people that is distinguished with such rulers!
In the following discourse, I
propose, in conformity to the occasion of the present meeting, and the
ideas suggested by the passage just read, to consider the design of civil
government, and the importance of religion in those, to whom the administration
of it is committed.
First. Let us consider briefly,
the design of the institution of civil government.
This is intimated in the text to
be the benefit of the people: According to all that I have done for this
Could men have been as secure in
their lives and properties, and enjoyed equal happiness in a state of nature,
as in a state of society, civil polity would never have been erected among
them. It is unreasonable to suppose that any number of men, inhabiting any
portion of the earth, would ever have come into an agreement to relinquish
some of their natural rights as individuals, and to submit to certain laws
deriving their authority from such agreement, without a view to their greater
advantage- to the more effectual security of their most valuable rights,
liberties and privileges.
Man is formed for society. Such
are his faculties- his natural desires, inclinations and capacities,
that he would be uneasy without an intercourse with his fellow-
creatures. Such his weakness and his wants, that without their aid, he could
not exist comfortably, if he could exist at all. And such are the lusts of men,
from whence come wars and fightings, that the weaker would always be in danger
from the stronger, without the protection of laws, which numbers agree to adopt
and support, for their mutual safety and advantage.
This being the case, nothing is
more natural and reasonable, than that numbers should associate for the
defense, assistance and improvement of one another. And though, by such
association, they put themselves out of a state of natural freedom, they are
richly compensated therefore, by the numerous important benefits to be enjoyed
only in a state of civil society.
The end of the appointment of
civil rulers cannot be their own
personal honor and emolument, but the benefit of those over whom they are
placed. Rulers are made for the nation, and not the nation for rulers.
As members of society, they are to
enjoy in common with others, the advantages resulting from the social compact.
As rulers, they are entitled to an honorable support, and to all that respect
and esteem, which the dignity of their stations and the importance of their
services render fit and proper. They are not, however, to seek their
own separate interest, but the interest and welfare of the community.
These dictates of nature and
reason, the dictates of revelation strengthen and confirm. In the book of
inspiration it is expressly said of the civil ruler, "He is the minister of God
to thee for good. Rulers are not a terror to good works but to the evil. They
are God's ministers, attending continually upon this very thing.î
The benevolent author of our
existence- of our capacities and all the means of improvement and
happiness, in the directions he has given in his word, respecting the
qualifications and duties of rulers, as well as correspondent conduct of the people,
has an evident view to the good of society- that the members in general,
"may lead a quiet and peaceful life in all godliness and honesty.î
Various are the forms and
constitutions of government, which the different genius, prejudices,
circumstances, situations and customs of men, have led them to frame and adopt.
That is justly accounted the most eligible for a particular people, which
is best adapted, under their circumstances, to promote and secure the great end
for which magistracy is appointed. But no form of government can ensure
happiness to a people, unless it be well administered.
A Constitution, in many respects
defective, in the hands of an able and upright administration, may be rendered
subservient to the signal prosperity of a people. Whereas, a far more perfect
form of government, in the hands of rulers of an opposite character, will
fail of affording the citizens that protection and security, that peace and
quietness, without which they cannot but be miserable.
If these observations be just,
what a post of importance is that of the civil magistrate! His elevated
station, as it is a station of honor, is also one of labor and high
responsibility; and it will be no further honorable to him, than as he fills it
with dignity, and usefulness to the public.
The care of those things which
respect the welfare of a great people requires the close and unintermitted
attention of the civil ruler. To attend to their situation with regard to other
powers- to provide for their defense against foreign invasion and
internal sedition- to secure those advantages that may justly be derived
from an intercourse with other nations- to attend to the internal state
of the commonwealth- to its finances- to its agriculture- commerce- manufactures- morals- learning and
religion; to make such alteration in the laws, or such new ones, as the varying
circumstances of the country, state, towns and corporations, may render
expedient, and take effectual care to have them executed, is a most laborious and
difficult employment. Such a variety of great, interesting and complicated
business cannot be properly performed but by men of superior ability, knowledge
and wisdom, firmness and integrity.
They who are called to sustain the
weight of government, and to manage the great affairs of the state and nation,
need the united influence of every argument and motive, adapted to strengthen
and invigorate the human mind, and to encourage and animate them in their
Secondly, I proceed to consider
the importance of religion in the civil ruler. Think upon me, my God, for
This request, in connection with
what it is grounded upon in the latter part of the
text, implies, that Nehemiah had acted under the influence of
religion, in his public character- that the great things he had done for
the people over whom he ruled, were the fruit of a pious regard to God, and a
firm belief in his promises.
Religion is of high importance in
a ruler, as an incentive to fidelity, in the discharge of the duties of his
station- as it will lead him to seek the direction and assistance of
Heaven- as it will afford him the best support under the burdens of
his office, and cause him, by his precepts and example, to do much for the
promotion of piety and virtue among the people.
Great abilities, through indolence
and a love of ease, may lie useless in a ruler. The community will derive
little or no benefit from them, unless he is possessed of a principle
sufficiently active to bring them into operation, and sufficiently virtuous to
direct their operation for the public good.
As superior talents in an exalted
station render a man capable of doing signal service for the community, so they
render him capable of doing as signal mischief.
Nothing, like a principle of religion deeply imbibed in the heart, can
secure him from the one, or prompt him to the other.
Other and lower principles, it
must be confessed, have influenced, and may influence, men to do many
beneficial deeds for their nation, and greatly promote their quietness and
But these principles- such
as honor, ambition, a natural benevolence of temper, or a desire of the
continued enjoyment of the emolument of a public office, are too
contracted to reach many cases, with which the happiness of society is
intimately and essentially connected, and have not that force requisite to
produce an even, steady and consistent course of action.
The ruler, who is not under the
prevailing influence of the fear and love of God, and that love of mankind
which is an inseparable concomitant of the love of God, is always in
danger of betraying his trust, and involving the community in misery and ruin.
Temptations to do wrong, when they make a vigorous assault upon him (and none
are more exposed to temptations, than those, who are in elevated stations)
will be likely to meet with a feeble, if any resistance. He will not be
deterred from a measure however injurious it may be to individuals, or
destructive in its tendency to the interest of his country, when, by going into
it, he call gratify his avarice, or save himself from present infamy, and
preserve the favor of a majority of his constituents.
Such may frequently be the
situation of things, that the civil ruler cannot, in conformity to the dictates
of an enlightened understanding, and a benevolent heart, pursue such conduct,
as will greatly conduce to the advantage of the community, without exposing
himself to certain reproach, and hazarding the loss of his official existence.
But he, and he only, who,
regarding the praise of God more than the praise of men, is solicitously
concerned to approve himself to that glorious being, who standeth in the
congregation of the mighty and judgeth among the Gods, is to be depended
on in all seasons. In seasons the most trying nothing can warp him from his
duty. Having accepted an important trust, he is deeply concerned to discharge
it with all fidelity. He feels himself accountable to God, whose eye is
continually upon him. The fear of man, which bringeth a snare, is swallowed up
by the greater fear of that great and terrible being, with whom are all the
possible causes, of life and death- of happiness and misery.
Charmed with the character of the
Deity who is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity, and cannot look on sin,
whose goodness is his glory, be has an ardent desire to imitate it. In his
official, as well as private capacity, he will feel an aversion to every thing
immoral- every thing impure, unjust, oppressive and cruel- every
thing that tends to the hurt of the public, or individuals. He will feel a
disposition to promote, to his utmost, the comfort, the peace and
happiness of all men, with whom he has to do.
The civil ruler, who is under the
united influence of this disposition and the various powerful
arguments and motives of religion, arguments and motives that respect both
the present and the eternal world, will be a benefactor indeed to his
nation. He will not fail to attend to the duties of his station. He will take
due pains to inform himself what is right and fit to be done, in every case
that comes under consideration. He will not be backward to decide upon
it, according to the dictates of his conscience, however such decision may
expose him to infamy and reproach. His fortitude and independence of spirit
will be in some good proportion to the strength and vigor of his faith, in the
great objects of religion. With him it is a very small thing that he
should be judged of man's judgment. He that judgeth him is the Lord.
In seasons of darkness and
perplexity, when it is not easy to know what ought to be done, the ruler, who
is a man of religion, will be under superior advantages for forming a
right judgment. In a humble sense of his dependence on God who is the
father of lights, he will repair to him for all needed illumination. Encouraged
by that direction and declaration in his word, "If any of you lack wisdom, let
him ask of God, who giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it
shall be given him,î he waits upon him in hope of a gracious answer.
The most able men know by
experience, that the human mind is not possessed of a principle of
inerrability, but that it is liable to mistake and err- that in things
which relate to goverment, they frequently want wisdom. The ruler, who
seeks it of God, surely, is more likely to determine wisely in difficult cases,
than he, who refuses to apply to him for direction and assistance. It is easy
for that being, who formed the mind of man with all its powers and faculties,
and has the most intimate access to it, secretly and imperceptibly to influence
its operations, direct and assist its enquiries, and lead it into such
views, as will essentially affect its determinations, without the least
infringement of its moral liberty. Those, therefore, who trust so far in
their own wisdom, as to neglect all application to Him for counsel and
direction, act very irrationally, and are in danger, through the just
resentment of Heaven, of having their boasted wisdom turned into foolishness.
Religion, in civil rulers, is of
high importance, in respect to the influence they have, in forming the
religious and moral character of the people. The character of the rulers of
Israel marked the state of religion in that nation. A similar influence may be
looked for, from the disposition and conduct of the rulers of every other
people. It is an observation of Solomon, who was distinguished above all others
for his wisdom, If a ruler hearken to lies, all his servants are wicked.
Experience evinces, that there is
a peculiar propensity in persons in the lower walks of life, to imitate those,
who are in places of eminence and dignity. When
this propensity, by means of the corrupt practices of great men, is led to co- operate with another, which is natural to all, I mean an inclination to
do evil, what an inundation of wickedness is to be expected?
The ruler, who allow himself in
prophaning the name of God- in treating the institutions of religion
with neglect, irreverence and contempt- in violating the laws of righteousness,
sobriety, chastity and temperance, though he should be active in framing and
enacting laws, for encouraging piety and virtue, and for discountenancing
and suppressing vice and irreligion, takes the most effectual method to defeat
the good tendency of such laws, and spread corruption far and wide.
He only who enforceth his precepts
by his example, whether he be the head of a private family, or the ruler
of a larger society, can rationally expect that his precepts will be much regarded.
Religion will be likely to flourish, or decline, among a people, according as
it is treated by men in conspicuous places. Their elevated station gives a
luster to their example, which will not fail to produce a great and extensive
effect. What regard then, ought to be had to the moral and religious character
of persons, who are candidates for any important office, by those to whom it
belongs to elect them!
The civil ruler, who is a man of
piety and virtue, sensible that he cannot be a good ruler, any further than he
is a benefactor to the people, will consult and pursue their true
interest, by every just and reasonable method in his power. Knowing by
experience, the salutary effect of religion upon his own temper and conduct,
convinced of the necessity of it in order to the happiness of others, viewing
in a strong point of light, the benign aspect of the Christian religion,
on the liberty and order, the peace and prosperity of the community, he will
ever be ready to recommend it, and use the whole of his influence to encourage
its profession and practice. The good ruler will cheerfully give his assent to
laws calculated to promote the education of youth in virtue and knowledge, and
the training them up for public usefulness in the Church and State; and which
will most effectually provide for the support of public worship and
instruction, and are friendly to the general diffusion of knowledge and true
religion. Nothing will discourage him from adopting and persevering in
such measures as appear to him, on mature deliberation, necessary, and the best
adapted to encourage and promote righteousness, which exalteth a nation, and
discountenance sin which is a reproach to any people. What satisfaction
must the ruler of this character, who has been instrumental of great good to
his people, have in reflecting on his past conduct, and the happy fruit of his
But, should his faithful services
for the public, his tried patriotism, his inflexible regard to the
interest of his country be forgotten- should he be neglected, and
treated with infamy, by those of whom he has deserved well, what a source of
comfort will he have in the testimony of his own conscience to his integrity?
And, with what pleasure, may he look forward to that day, when the secret
motives of his conduct shall be laid open and applauded, with all his worthy
deeds, by the Judge of all, in the, presence of the whole world?
Though he is deeply sensible of
his many imperfections, and that had he done all that was required of him, he
would have been an unprofitable servant, having done no more than was his
duty to do, yet, possessed of a character, formed thro' the influence of the
divine word and spirit, a character, to which the promise of eternal life thro'
Jesus Christ, is made by the infinitely glorious and faithful God, he may
well rejoice in hope of all that glory and felicity, with which the righteous
shall be remunerated in the world to come.
But, should the faithful ruler
receive no disagreeable treatment from those whose peace and prosperity lie
near his heart- should his services meet the approbation, and be
rewarded with the grateful acknowledgements, of the multitude of his fellow
citizens, yet there is a trying season approaching, from which none are exempted,
even of those among men, who are stiled Gods. It is a declaration of scripture,
which the experience of all past ages has verified, "I said ye are Gods; but ye
shall die like men.î In the near prospect of his dissolution, what comfort must
it afford the pious ruler to be able to say, "Remember, O Lord, how I have
walked before thee in truth, and with a perfect heart, and have done that which
is good in thy sight.î
This State, blessed be God, has
been distinguished with rulers of this character, who in seasons that try
souls, have exhibited the most undoubted evidence of their firm and unshaken
attachment to the cause of truth and righteousness- of liberty, order
and religion. They have exerted their great talents in the cause of their
endangered country, and have not been afraid openly to assert the rights of
man; and as openly to oppose that spirit of
intrigue and levellism, which threatened all the evils of anarchy and
The present signal prosperity,
with which we are distinguished from all other nations, is owing, under God, to
the vigilance, the care, the exertions, of wise and faithful rulers.
May we never want a sufficient
number of citizens worthy to be entrusted with the administration of
government; and may the people never be so blind and inattentive to their own
interest, as to be duped by the artifices of designing men, into the
bestowment of their suffrages on persons of a bad, or suspicious character.
Through the smiles of divine
providence, the people of this State have had another opportunity of giving
their suffrages for those, who are to compose the two branches of the legislature,
and the supreme executive. And the joyful anniversary is returned, when we
behold most of the heads of the tribes of our Israel come together into
this city of their solemnities, and assembled in the house of the Lord, to give
thanks unto his name, and supplicate his presence and blessing.
But it is no small degree, in
which the joy of the day is lessened, by the absence of the late Chief
Magistrate. We have been wont, with pleasure and satisfaction, to behold him at
the head of the legislature, on this anniversary solemnity: But we shall see
his face no more.
The Sovereign Disposer of all
things has seen fit, in his holy providence, to remove him from our world, and
to put a final period to his services for this people, by whom he was
deservedly held in high estimation.
By his public profession of
religion, for may years, his steady attendance on the institutions of
Christianity, and his exemplary good conversation, Governor Huntington made it
manifest to all, that he was not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ.
The various important public
stations into which he was successively chosen, he sustained with dignity, and
displayed such ability, prudence and integrity in the discharge of them, as met
with great acceptance from the multitude of his brethren.
The important services he rendered
this State and country, during the scenes of danger and distress, through which
we passed, whilst contending with a powerful nation for our just rights
and liberties, ought not to be forgotten. His name will be transmitted with
honor to posterity, enrolled among the names of those Illustrious
Patriots, who dared to sign that instrument, which sealed the independence of United
The remarkable unanimity, with
which his late Excellency was re-chosen, from year to year, to fill the
chair, exhibits an evidence, not only of the general approbation, but of the
wisdom and equity of his administration.
The satisfaction resulting from
the continued approbation and acceptance of his services, by his fellow
citizens, however great, must have been a small thing with him, in the near
view of his departure, compared with the joy arising from the testimony of his
conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom,
but by the grace of God, he had discharged the duties of the several
relations in which he had been placed.
The voice of God in the death of
the Governor, and in the more recent death of the Secretary of the State, a
Gentleman respectable for his abilities- his usefulness in the long
continued exercise of his office, and for his exemplary Christian faith and
virtue, demands the attention of the Public.
When rulers, of such a character,
are taken away, especially, in times of growing infidelity and corruption, the
people have great reason to mourn, not for them, but for themselves and their
children; and may well exclaim, "Help Lord, for the godly man ceaseth; for
the faithful fail from among the children of men.î
May surviving rulers and officers
of every grade, be deeply impressed with a sense of the high importance of
approving themselves to God, in the whole of their conduct. May they lay it to
heart, that though they are called gods, and are said to be children of the
most High, yet the time is approaching with great celerity, when they shall die
The Lieutenant Governor, on whom
the chief command devolved in consequence of the demise of his late Excellency,
we trust, is no stranger to the joy and satisfaction, arising from a
consciousness of a prevailing and habitual regard to God, in the discharge of
the duties of public, as well as private life.
May his Honor, whose great talents
have been employed many years, in various important public stations, continue,
under the invigorating influence of the great principles of religion,
to exert all his abilities, as God shall give him opportunity, for the good of
this State and Nation, and of mankind.
Should he be placed in the first
chair of dignity and power in the State, may he be supported under the
increased weight of government, and, with are enlarged sphere of usefulness, be
happy in doing proportionably greater service for God and his people.
Through the remaining vicissitudes
of life, may he have the protecting, cheering and supporting presence of
God and his Savior- in the solemn hour of death, comfort and fortitude,
and be crowned with superior glory in the world to come.
May the Honorable General Assembly
be favored with the presence, guidance and blessing of the Sovereign Ruler of
the world. To him they are accountable for their conduct in their public, as
well as private capacity.
The power with which they are
clothed, is given them, both by God and man, to be employed for the good
of the community. This, therefore, they will ever keep in view in all their
deliberations and decisions.
It is justly expected of them,
that they as upon a large scale. While they take effectual care that no
injustice be done to any citizen, they will be concerned not to sacrifice the
good of the State, or Nation, to the honor, ease or emolument of
individuals. They will take heed how they are influenced by local advantages,
or personal attachments.
Laws that will do equal justice,
afford equal protection, and secure equal advantages to all, and the bestowment
of offices upon men the best qualified, the people have a right to expect from
those, whom they entrust with the power of legislation, and of making civil and
In all their proceedings, it is
reasonably expected, that they act with the same integrity, virtue and
honor, as becometh men and Christians in private life.
Deeply impressed with the
importance of religion and virtue to the welfare of a community, you will
suffer me, Honored Fathers, to beseech and exhort you, not to fail to do every
thing in your power, to cause them to flourish among the people, whose greatest
and best prosperity you are under every obligation to seek.
"Magistrates may probably do more
by their example, than in any other way, and, perhaps, more than any other
men,' to promote the practice of piety and virtue among a people. Happy are
those rulers, who, by the united influence of their authority and example,
are instrumental of spreading religion and virtue through the community,
over which they are placed:- happy, in rendering their government
easy and pleasant to themselves, and to the people:- happy, in the
reflection upon the great good they have been instrumental in doing for them:- happy, in an approving conscience, that gives them confidence towards
God, the Judge of all:- And supremely happy will they be, who in the
great day shall be found faithful; for they shall be rewarded with a crown of
glory, that fadeth not away. While those, who, regardless of the true
interest of the people, have "corrupted them by their example, shall be covered
with shame and confusion, and sentenced to that place of blackness and
darkness, where there is weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth!î
The pastors of the churches, who
have the spirit of their station, and feel the power of that benevolent
religion, which they preach to others, will be deeply concerned for the
welfare of the community, and ready to exert themselves, to their utmost, in
their proper spheres, that the great end of civil government may be attained.
Though not sharers in the administration, they have an important influence on
the object of government. In laboring to promote the spiritual and eternal
interest of mankind, which is the immediate object of the institution of the evangelical
ministry, they co- operate with the civil
Magistrate in promoting their temporal interest. The wise and benevolent
Governor of the world, in the appointment of magistracy and the priesthood, has
expressed a tender regard to the happiness of men, and is pleased to make use
of both conjointly, for accomplishing the purposes of his good pleasure. He led
his ancient people like a flock, by the hand of Moses and Aaron.
Christian pastors are workers
together, not only with the civil Magistrate, but with the great God himself,
for the good of their fellow men. How noble is their work! What inducements
have they to be diligent, active and zealous in it! The honor of God and Christ,
their dear Redeemer, the peace, comfort and happiness of their brethren of
the human race, in this world, and their eternal welfare, in that which is to
come, together with their own salvation, conspire to engage them to fidelity.
Let us, my respected Fathers and
Brethren, be excited to take heed to the ministry, which we have received, that
we fulfill it.
Sensible of the aid we derive from
the civil ruler in our work, may we be ready to encourage him in his, by
our prayers; and by inculcating on the people of our respective charges, both
by our preaching and example, all that respect and obedience to magistracy,
which our holy religion requires.
The citizens in general of every
class, have abundant reason for thankfulness to God, for the blessings of a
free, mild, and yet energetic government, with which the inhabitants of these
United States are distinguished. May all be concerned to make such
improvement of them as shall ensure their continuance.
We glory in the possession of
constitutions of government of our own choosing, and in the privilege of
electing our own rulers. Should we not continue to be a free and happy people,
the fault will be our own.
Should we abuse our liberties, by
voting into public office, men, who are enemies
to the peace and prosperity of the country, or who might easily be bought by
those who are so: Or should we refuse to support the constituted authorities,
in well concerted measures for promoting and securing the public good, we
should justly deserve all the evils of anarchy, confusion and war, which would
be the natural consequence of our folly and wickedness.
It is our honor and happiness,
that we have at the head of the general government, a Character, who is held in
the highest veneration abroad, and from whom, it has not been in the power
of faction, to withdraw the confidence of the citizens of United America.
The many and great things which,
under God, he has done for this people, have deservedly endeared his name
to his country.
As our General, he has fought our
battles, and procured for us peace and independence, with all their train of
As President of the United States,
he has fought our wealth and prosperity, in the continuance of peace, and
improvement of the great natural, civil and religious advantages with which our
country is distinguished. He has delivered us, without effusion of blood, from
a threatening insurrection- and saved us from foreign war, with all its
expense and- horrors, with which we were menaced.- And of late,
he has given us higher evidence, if possible,- than any he ever before
had an opportunity to give, of his firm patriotism- unshaken attachment
to the interest of the people, and worthiness to be entrusted with their most
valuable deposit, by protecting, preserving and defending their constitution,
against a most artful, daring, and alarming attempt to encroach upon, and
subvert it. "The archers have shot at him and hated him: But his bow has abode
in strength, and the arms of his hands were made strong by the hands of the
mighty God of Jacob.î
Under the auspices of his
presidency, "our country,î highly favored by Heaven, "has enjoyed general
tranquility, while many of the nations of Europe, with their American
dependencies, have been involved in a contest unusually bloody, exhausting and
calamitous- Our agriculture, commerce and manufactures have prospered
beyond former example:- and our population has advanced with a
celerity exceeding the most sanguine calculationsî- And by treaties with
the several powers, "between whom and the United States controversies have
subsistedî- treaties, for carrying which into effect the necessary
provisions have been made (though not until the public mind was greatly
agitated and offended by the delay) "a firm and precious foundation appears to
be laid, for accelerating, maturing and establishing, the prosperity of our
country- a country that exhibits a spectacle of national happiness never
surpassed, if ever before equaled.
May all the enemies of the public
peace and prosperity- and of this Benefactor of our nation, be clothed
with shame. But may God think upon him for good, according to all that he hath
done for this people.
Whilst we rejoice in the blessings
of external peace and prosperity- and are ready to felicitate ourselves,
and one another, on the fair prospect of their continuance, presented by the
removal of the dark cloud that so lately menaced our tranquility.- May
we remember that these blessings, however estimable in themselves, derive their
principal value from the more favorable opportunity, they afford us, for
attending to those things, which relate to our spiritual and everlasting peace
This world is but the beginning of our existence. It
bears no proportion to the eternal duration, for which we are formed. It is,
however, an important part of our existence, as on our conduct here, our
condition hereafter has a settled and unalterable dependence. He, who created
us, and, therefore, has an indisputable right to be out judge, has declared in
his word, that "he will render to every man according to his deeds:- to
them, who, by patient continuance in well doing, seek for glory, and
honor, and immortality; eternal life; But unto them that are contentious, and
do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness; indignation and wrath;
tribulation and anguish upon every man that doth evil.î
The time is fast approaching, when
death will put a period to our state of trial, and seal up our accounts to the
judgment of the great day; when, "we must all appear before the judgments seat
of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to
that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.î
In all our affairs, civil, secular
and religious, may we act with a wise reference to that day, when an end shall
be put to all civil distinctions- when all earthly kingdoms, states and
empires shall be no more:- when Christ who is King in Zion, after he has
judged and passed sentence on all men, of every rank and denomination, according
to their behavior in the body, shall deliver up the mediatorial kingdom to God,
even the Father, that God may be all in all.