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of feelings, and modes of thinking conformed to those of the majority of his countrymen, will be to sin against God.
Our nation has been prospered since its erection into a republic, beyond all former example ; and is standing “ a spectacle to the world,” and one which they have admired. Every man wishes the continuance of this prosperity. And we are looking around and within for the reasons to warrant our confidence. It is to be feared still, that we are looking upward too little. Here then we find it needful to employ with the Christian the language of caution, derived from the Bible.
We must take heed of sinning against God, by confidence in men for national safety and prosperity, in which we leave God out of sight. The sanguine patriot, the ingenious and philosophizing politician, the ambitious partizan, and the national scheme-builder, may speculate, conjecture, dream, and predict great things. But the Christian must go, and counsel others to go, to him and to his word, who is “Governor among the nations; ” whose wisdom and often his holy indignation mock the proud policy and plans of the great men of the earth. He has said, “ Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches; but let him that glorieth, glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the Lord which exercise loving-kindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth; for in these things I delight, saith the Lord.” If the Christian will be much in his closet, with the “ King of kings ;” and, by the light of the divine word, seek for that which will certainly afford security and prosperity, he need not ask admission to hear the discussions of a cabinet composed of the wisest rulers who could be collected from all nations, in order that he may be relieved from solicitude. Let him remember, also, that which is written, “ Wo unto them that go down to Egypt for help ; and stay on horses, and trust in chariots, because they are many, and in horsemen because they are very strong; but they look not unto the Holy One of Israel, neither seek the Lord.” The whole system of mere human reliances, is, by this and other warnings of the Bible, swept away, as “the small dust of the balance." It was needful that the Sovereign of the universe should thus write nothingness upon the things “seen and temporal” on which the spirit of unbelief inclines man to rely. To name some of these, that we may guard ourselves against sinful dependence on them :
We look at our local situation, and our military defences; and are inclined to think that we w dwell in the clefts of the rock," that “our habitation is high,” that we cannot be reached by foreign power to our hurt; and we ask, " who shall bring us down to the ground ?” But God said to Edom, who thought thus—and we must take heed lest we give him occasion to say it to us" the pride of thine heart hath deceived thee. Though thou exalt thyself as the eagle,” and “set thy nest among the stars ; thence will I bring thee down.” What became of ancient Tyre? And how many times has apprehension spread itself through the modern Tyre, the “ sea-girt isle,” lest it should fall a prey ? Or suppose munitions of defence could keep us from eternal danger, what shall defend us against the enemies of our peace and prosperity, which may spring up among our own selves?
If we talk of our internal natural advantages and resources, and of our improvements, multiplying population, increasing wealth, and busy, bustling, all-grasping enterprize; yet, does history furnish the instance in which these have imparted national safety and permanence? Have there been no nations in which these have been rendered useless, to this end; from that total paralization of national strength which irreligion and profligacy produce.
We talk of our republican form of government, as a reliance. Do we remember that we are making an experiment, which has never yet succeeded, since the world stood; and that therefore we must conduct this experiment “with fear and trembling," and with faith in God alone? The elements of destruction are in existence among us; and unless God, of his infinite mercy, keep these elements under his control, they will work our destruction as fearfully as they ever have done that of any other nation.
We look to our great men, and to this or that system of policy invented and conducted by them, in the exercise of powerful talent and deep sagacity. But when a nation, in their pride, forget their dependence on God, and rely on the wisdom of fallible mortals ; does God never “ make the judges fools,” and “the wise men mad;" “pour contempt upon princes, and lead them away spoiled. And in the
collisions of ambition, pride, and party interests, does he never cause “the mighty man to stumble against the mighty, and both to fall, together?” “Cease ye from man,” says God to his people.
We talk of our institutions of learning, and of the intelligence and mental elevation of the people, as preservatives. Did learning save Greece, or Rome; or France, in her days of fearful preparation for that moral earthquake which shook the civilized world ? Has there never been exhibited the spectacle of a nation of mighty but unsanctified minds, working with awful efficiency a nation's ruin?
Wise alliances are sometimes judged an auxiliary to national prosperity and safety. But when God has been dishonored by confidence in this and other like means, instead of simple trust in himself, does he never, in holy indignation, convert a national alliance into a chain of slavery, or into a political cable, by which one sinking nation shall pull down another along with it to destruction ?
We talk of the safety which may come in the triumph of one party rather than another; and through one administration rather than another. But in punishment of the civil contentions and animosities in which a nation moves forward to its ballot-boxes, may not a righteous God “overthrow our judges in stony places,” or give us rulers who “want understanding ;" "oppressors ;” “ like wolves, ravening the prey, to shed blood and to destroy souls, to get dishonest gain?"
In the pride of our hearts we listen to foreign praises of our free institutions, and to the spirit-stirring declamation of political predictors among ourselves.
But has God never forbidden national as well as individual pride ; and punished nations, which have “hearkened to observers of times, and unto diviners ;” by sending the judgments of his hand instead of the fulfillment of their political prophecies?
No-seeking to such reliances as these, is national distrust of God. The Christian who loves his country, should dread, as the forerunner of divine judgments, such habits of thinking and feeling. He should take most jealous care of his own heart, lest he sin thus himself. And amidst the “noise of the waves,” and “the tumult of the people,” who are making their unbelieving boasts, he should lift his voice; not once only, not twice, nor thrice, but unceasingly, in warning against such sins. It is a part of that flood of iniquity coming in, respecting which, he should be alarmed,
and seek to alarm other men, before it sweeps away all that is fair, and overwhelms us in destruction.
There is still another point of caution, to which the attention of the Christian, as a citizen, should be anxiously directed. It is the sin of political “ biting and devouring one another,” which goes on with such system, steadiness, violence and animosity. Men prosessing to be Christians, have been partakers, deeply, in this sin. It is high time that they repent of it, and put it away; and get themselves ready to say, with “clean hands, and pure hearts,” to other men of our country, “Sirs, ye are brethren; why do ye these things?" It is truly one of the blackest blots upon our character, as a free and independent nation, that it has been our habit, almost ever since our national existence commenced, to carry on with one another a war of
presses ; and it is no thanks to us that it has not been a war of still more deadly weapons. We are a vast family of freemen, true ; but God has seen it, and other nations of the earth have known it, that we have been a very quarrelsome one. While other nations of the world have been fighting for their liberties, with powder and shot, we have been disgracing the liberty we have enjoyed; and putting arguments against liberty itself, into the mouths of its enemies, in other quarters of the globe. Thus the motto upon our standards, “ E pluribus unum," has been converted into a solemn satire on our real state of feeling towards one another. And the grievousness of all this consists, deeply, in the fact that men professing to be Christians, have been concerned in fostering this ungodly spirit of contention. We speak of that which every man who has eyes and ears has seen and heard, of a long time. Our halls of legislation have resounded with the angry eloquence of men abusing one another; and with insinuations ungentlemanly, and accusations bitter, of mer under the influence of party spirit. And then the public journals have trumpeted these things from one end of the country to the other, to set the constituents of these official wranglers, into the same kind of heat and contention with them. Take up a newspaper, and you discover, in a very few moments, some ill-natured paragraph, betraying the fact that it is the mere speaking-trumpet of a party. So conmonly is this the case, that scarce a commercial or political paper is to be found in the whole country, from which can be obtained a fair-minded and really credible account of many political transactions; and which does not contain a heavy infusion of political vitriol. Irritating insinuation, slanderous falsehood, bitter accusation, and “ blistering wit,” seem, in such journals, to be the only things in which men can deal with one another. It is also difficult, if not impossible, to learn the real character of a candidate for office, of whatever party ; for, according to the high praises of the party whose man he is, he is almost an angel; and, according to the representations of the opposing party, he is “possessed with a devil.” Step into a political meeting, and there is a petulant scramble between two or three parties, who, seemingly, care more about votes, than concerning the virtues of candidates. Stand by the door, at a public dinner, when wine has begun to quicken the passions of men, and see how the honey of adulation is poured out upon some men, and the chalice, overflowing with the gall of political bitterness, is dispatched away to be poured upon the head of some absent political opponent. As election approaches, it might be supposed, to hear speeches, and read in the journals the notes of warning and malediction from each contending party, that the destruction of all that is fair, and the blasting of all that is lovely, would be consequent upon the triumph of the other party.
This state of things is productive of various unhappy consequences. It abridges the enjoyment of our blessings as freemen. It keeps up a feverish excitement in the community, unfavorable to every interest, social, moral and religious. It alienates members of the same church from one another. It keeps alive a spirit of mutual distrust and apprehension. It makes men of different political sentiments foolishly boast of themselves and their friends, as though “they were the people, and wisdom would die with them ;” and as though integrity and safe government were to be expected from the one party alone, and the other were a gang
political desperadoes, who would turn the nation“ upside down,” could they have the handling of it. It demands assent to the doctrine, that an existing administration “can do no wrong ;” and denounces dissent in opinion from acts of government, as rebellion. A thousand things are seen through the spectacles of party. An existing administration is extolled to the stars, by one set of men; and denounced almost without measure, by another. Points of moral obligation, in which the national character and the honor of the