A SERMO FOR THE FOURTH OF JULY, 1824. Righteousness exalteth a nation. — Proverbs, xiv., 34. " It is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners," and his ministers are grievously away from their Master's work when they mingle in the ranks of faction, and prostitute the influence and the functions of their holy calling into auxiliaries of its mischievous purposes. They are commissioned to bear glad tidings to the poor, to preach repentance for the remission of sins, to reclaim the rebellious families of men into the acknowledgment and the exercise of that rightful allegiance unto God which they have denied, and from which they have departed ; and out of the alienation and the thankless stupidity of the natural heart, to bring an acceptable offering of willing obedience and of fervent gratitude. But the Gospel, which lays its greatest stress upon a future state of existence, is likewise concerned for our temporal interests ; and while it points to heaven as the high object of our efforts and our hopes, it makes this world the theatre of trial and of preparation. That godliness which is stamped with the worth of eternity, and which animates the soul with the assurance of everlasting life, has likewise " the promise of the life which now is." That righteousness, which, associated with peace and joy in the Holy Ghost, establishes the kingdom of heaven in the heart of the believer, sheds a benign influence over all the walks of men, gladdens a fam-


ily, blesses a neighborhood, and "exalteth a nation." And if the apostle Paul did no violence to the Gospel when he inculcated, as a religious duty, upon the subjects of despotic power, the only political right which tyranny had left them — the right of obedience, I shall not exceed the spirit of that high example by attributing the same importance to the more sacred duties and the more valuable privileges which belong to us as citizens of a free republic. I the more gladly avail myself of this yearly festival to speak upon a topic usually thought inconsistent with the sacredness of Sabbath ministrations, because I believe there is a growing and dangerous prejudice, which tends to abridge the privileges of the pulpit, and in the same degree to impair the security of our happy institutions. Our constitution of government very wisely forbids any political connection between Church and State — a connection which produces no other effect so directly as the conversion of the clergy into tyrants and hypocrites, and the degradation of the people into bigots and slaves. The opinion appears to be gaining ground among us, that this legal separation has wrought an actual divorcement between the religious and political interests of our country, and that the piety of the people has little or nothing to do with their prosperity. It is unfortunate that both the power and the right of correcting these erroneous sentiments, or of staying their fatal consequences, are fast passing out of the hands of those who could exercise them with the fairest probability of success. Every subject, connected however remotely with the politics of the day, is forbidden an approach to the pulpit, even by the most distant approximation. The most pernicious vices need only the example or the patronage of the candidates or the incumbents of ofRce, in order that public opinion may fix upon the lips of the clergy the seal of perpetual silence. Sinful excesses, which, if committed under ordinary circumstances, v/ould be thought to call most loudly for the interference of

294 THE TRUE DEFE SE A D a faithful and fearless ministry, may stalk forth with impunity through all the successive days and weeks of a pending election, may set a whole city in an uproar, may besot our age, and corrupt our youth, and prostrate the morals of our population. Should a faithful pastor dare to oppose this sweeping torrent of patronized corruption, to warn of their danger the flock committed to him by the Holy Ghost, and to bid them beware how they confide their own, and their country's, and their children's liberties to unprincipled and bloody men, his warning voice would be drowned in the din of clamorous rebuke, and his character blackened with the criminating charges of political preaching and aspiring priestcraft. So wide is the separation which public sentiment has in stituted between our religious and political interests. And how many, let me ask, of our orators, who have declaimed about liberty, and of our writers, who have published their speculations upon the subject, and of our patriots, who have labored for the public weal, have not utterly lost sight of the revealed truth, that " righteousness exalteth a nation ?" The improvement of our legal codes ; our judiciary ; our naval and military establishments ; the multiplication of schools, and newspapers, and penitentiaries, are prescribed as infallible remedies for all our political and moral disor ders, as the unfailing supports of our freedom, and as impassable barriers to despotism. It is a favorite maxim with our politicians, and they are glad when the sentiment is carried to the very ears of their constituents, that the people never do wrong except by mistake ; that, when shown the right way, they always pursue it ; that in exact proportion to their wisdom will be their virtue ; and that, when the lights of education and of knowledge shall be universally enjoyed, then will our liberties be founded upon a rock, and the permanence of our happy form of government secured against all the accidents of time.

GLORY OF A ATIO . 295 If it is not too late to question a doctrine which makes no allowance for the depravity of human nature, and which attributes to the influence of science what the Bible teaches us to expect only from the preaching of the cross, I would inquire by what reasonings and by what examples it is supported ? Was Greece free in proportion as she was learned, and did the hghts of knowledge and of liberty both shine and both go out together ? o. The days of her Demosthenes were the days of her bondage. The prince of orators himself was silenced by the cup of Harpalus, and the polished sons of Athens were at once scholars and slaves. Rome most rejoiced in the blessings of freedom when she called her consuls and dictators from the plow. It was not till after the literature of Greece and the refinements of Asia had passed through her gates, that her republican government was overthrown by the profligacy of her people and the ambition of her rulers. The Augustan age of her literature was an age of political degradation, and Virgil and Horace flourished under the patronage of a tyrant. or does the history of the world furnish a single example in support of the hypothesis on which we so confidently depend for the perfection and the preservation of our free institutions. The security of our liberty must be found in the virtue of the people, and that virtue must have its foundations in religious principle, and not in scientific endowments. And if our country shall advance in improvement, as I trust she will advance, until a thorough and eflective system of instruction shall spread its influences over the face of our whole territory, and until the advantages of useful learning shall be universally enjoyed, still may the elements of corruption and of slavery remain untouched in the bosom of our population. And if this illuminating process could be carried forward till every citizen of our republic shall be led into all the mysteries of science, and adorned with all the accomplishments of literature, and until the doctrines of Grotius, and Vattel,


and Adam Smith, and Malthus shall be as commonly and familiarly known as those of Webster's Spelling-book, without the intervention of a better and more powerful agency, we might still remain as far as ever from the object of our bright anticipations. Public sentiment w^ould indeed be refined and elevated, and public character dignified. Ribaldries and blasphemies, now uttered in doggerel, might then aspire to the stanzas of Moore and Byron. They who are now led by appetite would be then led by taste. The demagogues who now make tippling-houses and muster-fields the arena of their electioneering exploits, might then achieve their purposes in sumptuous entertainments, and tasteful gardens, and literary soirees. Science may vary the forms of vice, and fashion its developments ; it may divert the passions of a corrupted multitude from hurtful enterprises to others equally pernicious ; but to establish a people in the ways of virtue, and secure the freedom and the purity of republican institutions, it is utterly incompetent. This is an achievLiiient which demands a higher and a better agency, even the Avisdom which cometh down from above, and the righteousness which exalteth a nation. I would not speak lightly of the blessings of education, nor undervalue an interest vitally dear to our country and to the Church of God, It w^as a national calamity when, on a recent occasion, sectional jealousies were permitted to blast the noblest conception that ever honored our public councils, a proposition to make such an appropriation of the public lands as would have insured the benefits of competent instruction to our whole population. Such a liberal provision for our intellectual and moral exigencies would have commanded the admiration of the w^orld and the gratitude of posterity. Every patriot and every Christian would exult to

see schools and colleges established to the full extent of all our wants. It is of the utmost importance that the people should be well instructed ; but, unless their knowledge be


turned to a religious account, it will prove but a worthless auxiliary to public virtue. The people should be taught to read, and then they should read the Bible. 'By all the light of their acquirements, and by all the urgency of Christian motives, should they be guided into that " fear of the Lord which is the beginning of wisdom," and into that " righteousness which exalte th a nation." I can most sincerely rejoice at the honors of genius and of authorship which are accorded to our fellow-citizens ; and my best feelings are gratified at the signal triumph which our scientific and mechanical achievements have won over the prejudices of Europe. But I will not conceal a sentiment which to many will appear narrow and fanatical. I am persuaded that the establishment of a Bible Society, which circulates the Scriptures ; or the institution of a Sabbath-school, which initiates the rising generation into an acquaintance with the word of God ; or the building of a church, where the Gospel is to be faithfully preached ; or the equipment and forth-sending of a domestic missionary, ofiers brighter anticipations to the patriot's eye, and firmer securities to our dear-bought liberty, than all the glories of discovery, and all the renown of letters. Literature may shed a bright lustre upon the character of a people, and give them a name abroad ; it may mitigate the asperities of untutored nature, and refine and exalt the intercourse of society ; but the progress of godliness creates and fortifies those virtues which are the only foundation of prosperity at home. It substitutes the law of love for the law of coercion. It purifies the streams and cleanses the fountain of elective influence, and

estabhshes over all the public and private relations of man the guardianship of a heavenly superintendence. The vast extent of our territory, the thinness of its population, and the principle of representation which so thoroughly pervades our institutions, will effectually secure us against the rashness and the rage of popular assemblies, so fatal to

298 THE TRUE DEFE SE A D the ancient republics. Our people will always have time to deliberate, and will alwaj^s enjoy the means of information. But a sufficient pledge, that after deliberation they will decide honestly, and that they will be guided by the lights of knowledge into rectitude of action, can only be found in the prevalence of a righteousness which exalteth a nation. The slavery of our country, if she is ever enslaved, is more likely to begin in the corruption of the people than in the encroachments of their rulers. Any violence offered to our Constitution would be discovered by an ever-watchful vigilance, and repelled by a spontaneous resentment. But it is very possible that the forms of our government shall be maintained inviolate, and its operations be conducted with uprightness and skill, and yet the people be enthralled in all the curses of bondage, even under the protection of our boasted institutions. We may become slaves without nobles and without kings. The prevalence of vice and immorality must be repressed by preventing and avenging laws. For the enforcement of these laws, courts must be organized and offices multiplied ; soldiers must be enlisted, and sailors paid. To support such establishments, oppressive taxes and ruinous loans must be resorted to, and, for their collection and management, another devouring horde of pensioners will be created. Under such an oppression a nation can not be free. o matter what the character of its government, whether monarchical or republican, hereditary or elective, the rulers will be tyrants, and their subjects slaves. The very precau-

tions of liberty, and the enactments of protection, wdll crush the people into an intolerable bondage. Against these impending dangers, no remodeling of our government, no skillful adjustment of its departments, and no accurate balancing of its powers, can yield us security. Severer penalties and darker cells can not do it. Gibbets and penitentiaries may increase — they can not cure the evil. The Bible, and the Bible alone, reveals the only remedy;

GLORY OF A ATIO . 299 and " the foolishness of preaching" has brought to light a secret in politics which the depth and the reach of mere human sagacity have never comprehended. This single announcement of the Gospel, "We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, to give an account of the deeds done in the body," brought home to the consciences of the people with an abiding prevalence, would be a better safeguard to our liberties than all the devices of our politicians, and all the terrors of our penal codes, and all the learning of our schools. Such a doctrine, believed and cherished, would counteract every tendency to national degeneracy. It would carry the healthful influences of uprightness, and charity, and patriotism throughout the mass of our population. It would establish in every man's bosom an impartial tribunal, which corruption could not bribe nor artifice mislead. It would fix an eye of wakeful and of searching inspection upon all the performances of his public history, and all the secrecies of his private walk. In a word, it would make him a good man and a good citizen, just because it made him a good Christian. Let us suppose this moral preparation to be introduced into any given portion of our territory, so as to obtain over a majority of its inhabitants a thorough and predominant ascendency. I hazard nothing in saying that such an experiment would give you an erect, high-minded, and public- spirited people, watchful over their rulers, jealous of their liberties, and

ready to assert them. Their high regard to the commandments of God and the rights of men would be a sacred pledge of fidelity and devotion to their country. By such a community, no duelist, with his blood-stained hands — no ruffian destroyer of domestic peace and female innocence — no profligate, whose principles have been dissolved in the guilty haunts of debauchery, would ever be made the repository of public confidence. They could not breathe so pure an atmosphere. It would be the death of their expectations. The splendors of eloquence and the riches of erudition would be deemed but

300 THE TRUE DEFE SE A D worthless substitutes for the nobler attributes of a sober head and an honest heart. Upright principles and an unblemished character would be the indispensable qualifications of successful candidates for office ; nor would a virtuous people ever exalt to the high places of power those examples of splendid depravity which provoke the righteous judgments of Heaven, and corrupt the ingenuous and aspiring youth of our land with the winning blandishments of a tolerated and an honored profligacy. Would to God that what I am compelled to offer in the forms of hypothesis were the history of our country — that our citizens might be persuaded, at length, that the firmest supports of their liberty must be found in their own virtue and godliness ; and that while, with conscious pride, they are contemplating our growing navy and gallant army, our fortresses and our canals, our polished scholars and skillful statesmen, our agriculture, and commerce, and manufactures, as the certain tokens of national safety and prosperity, they might be brought to look into their own lives and their own hearts for surer testimony and more infallible conclusions. If this wish shall never be gratified, and if the sentiments I have uttered shall be thought a shallow artifice to magnify my office, or the vain hallucinations of a devotee rather than solid, practical principles, v/hich can bear the scrutiny

of reason and the test of experiment, I will yet rejoice that our country has produced at least one great man who has been their advocate — a name most honored and most worthy of honor on every recurrence of this glorious festival. or can it be said that he found and adopted, in the closet and in the schools, a doctrine which a better acquaintance with human affairs would have led him to reject ; for he guided our destinies through many sore and bloody conflicts, and through many disastrous campaigns, to safety and independence. He presided at the birth of our Constitution, and in the midst of opposing factions, his wisdom and influence gave it estab-

GLORY OF A ATIO . 301 lishment and success. o man better understood the value of victories and of warlike preparation. one labored more zealously or more successfully to promote the common welfare by protecting law^s, upright tribunals, and public education ; but the achievements of war and of policy he esteemed insufficient guaranties for our liberties, and whether he resigned the sword, or accepted the executive chair, or withdrew himself from the proffered honors of a grateful country, his language was gratitude to God, and his paternal admonition to the revering millions who hung upon his words was obedience to God's commandments. And amid that infidel forgetfulness of God which breathes through our public documents, and speaks in the messages and addresses of our rulers, it is cheering to the heart to find one illustrious exception. One man, who outstripped them all in the powers of his mind as far as he did by the splendor of his victories — whose political opinions, and foreign and domestic policy, have been permanently adopted by the voice of a united people, pointed to the religion of the cross as the dearest hope of our country and firmest security of its happy institutions. Would you be the children of the Father of his Country ? Would you be true patriots, the benefactors of a nation ? You may not become such by being noisy, and important, and

bustling at an election ; nor by declaiming upon liberty in the market ; nor b}^ shouting the praises of a favorite candidate amid the fumes of intemperance and the clamors of a mob. If you would become a true patriot, become a true Christian. Do to others as you would have them do unto you ; love your neighbor as yourself ; live soberly, and righteously, and godly in this evil world. Pray to the Father for a high and a holy influence, which shall subjugate your passions, exalt your affections, and purify your heart. Teach your children to love God, and they will love their counti}'' ; to keep his commandments, and they will prove obedient citizens. Thus may the humblest and the poorest of you all.

302 THE TRUE DEFE SE A D GLORY, ETC. in the noiseless obscurity of his own private walk, more effectually promote the public welfare, than the vicious and infidel statesman, whose influence may guide the nation, and the fame of whose eloquence may be echoed by the wild solitudes of its remotest frontiers. Oh, if our people were animated with such a spirit, and our nation exalted with such a righteousness, what a spectacle would this glorious jubilee exhibit to the admiring gaze of earth and of heaven ! Ten millions of freemen, hastening with eager rivalry to Jehovah's courts, which their feet have trod with weekly joy, and from around the holy altars, where mercy had often regarded their penitence, and sealed forgiveness of sins, and imparted the Holy Ghost, speeding the sacrifice of a hearty and a common thanksgiving, acceptable unto God through Jesus Christ I The victories and deliverances of two bloody wars, and the blessings of forty years of prosperity and peace ; the luxuries of commerce and the abundance of husbandry ; the spread of the Gospel and the increase of learning ; new cities and states, and the comforts of their happy population ; all the glories of freedom, in which every man reigns the undisputed lord of his own habitation, and walks abroad the prince of his own possessions : all of

these should pious recollection bring to swell the chorus of a nation's festival, and enrich the offering of a nation's gratitude.



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