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And now, all this is ultimately owing to the Supreme Governor of the Universe, who has been pleased to bless our nation with peace.
We have more than once been threatened with internal convulsions and foreign invasions. But through the blessing of God upon the wise, prudent, and pacific measures of our political father, we have happily maintained peace on all sides round about us; while other nations have been groaning under the complicated miseries of war. We stand surrounded and distinguished by the blessings of Heaven. God has crowned the closing year with his goodness, and plentifully supplied us with the bounties of his providence. We are become numerous as the sand which is by the sea in multitude. A pleasing prospect lies before us. We see our friends, our neighbors, and our countrymen, eating, and drinking, and making merry. The voice of peace, of health, and of plenty, is heard from Dan even to Beersheba; from one end of our land to the other. Never perhaps had we more occasion of gratitude to our sovereign and kind Benefactor, than on this present auspicious anniversary. We have abundant reason to call upon our souls and all that is within us to bless and praise the Lord for all his goodness and wonderful works to our peaceful and prosperous nation. And here two very serious and weighty considerations naturally occur, to press upon our minds the duty of gratitude for our national peace.
First, If we are ungrateful for this distinguishing favor of God, we shall justly provoke him to destroy our prosperity and chastise our ingratitude, by the hand of our enemies. This was the method which he took to punish his own peculiar people, for murmuring and complaining under the happy and peaceful reign of Solomon. As soon as that great, and wise, and prudent prince was laid in his tomb, the state of his kingdom was suddenly and totally changed. The horrors of war succeeded the blessings of peace. The infatuated people placed Jeroboam the son of Nebat upon the throne of Israel, who corrupted and divided the nation, and finally involved them in the most unnatural and bloody war that they, or any other people ever experienced. In one day, and in one battle, five hundred thousand Israelites were slain by the hands of their brethren. In the same severe and exemplary manner, God is able to punish us, if we are ungrateful for our national prosperity. Though we are this day rejoicing in universal peace and security, yet, before another such joyful anniversary returns, we may hear the noise of warriors, and behold the distressing sight of garments rolled in blood. I would not, however, suggest that there is a probability of such a sudden transition from peace to war. But this we know to be true, there
is a dark cloud arising, which spreads a gloom over all our promising prospects. The nations of Europe are in arms, and some of them wish to disturb our peaceful and prosperous state of neutrality. And should we be unthankful to God for his distinguishing favors, and despise the hand of his justice, we may reasonably expect that blood and violence will be the fruit of our ingratitude and folly.
Besides, we ought to consider, in the second place, that nothing but sincere gratitude to the Author of all our mercies
us against the destructive influence of national prosperity. The bounties of Providence naturally tend to destroy an ungrateful people. Pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness, proved the ruin of the ungrateful inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah. National prosperity gradually brought on the declension and overthrow of the most renowned nations of antiquity. And before God had put his people in possession of the land of promise, he solemnly cautioned them against the dangers of peace and prosperity. “ Beware lest when thou hast eaten and art full, and hast built goodly houses and dwelt therein; and when thy herds and thy flocks multiply, and thy silver and thy gold is multiplied, and all that thou hast is multiplied; then thine heart be lifted up, and thou forget the Lord thy God, and say in thine heart, My power, and the might of mine hand, hath gotten me this wealth. If thou do at all forget the Lord thy God, I testify against you this day, that ye shall surely perish.” But notwithstanding this seasonable and solemn admonition to gratitude, the peace and prosperity of Israel from time to time corrupted their morals, destroyed their religion, and exposed them to the severest marks of the divine displeasure. Human nature is still the same; and national power and wealth may have the same fatal influence upon us, that they have had upon other nations of the earth. Let us therefore maintain a deep and habitual sense of the great and distinguishing goodness of God towards our rising and flourishing republic, that it may be a lengthening out of our public peace and tranquillity. May these seri. ous and interesting motives to gratitude deeply affect all our hearts, and excite us to give unto God the glory which is due to his name, for our national prosperity. Amen.
PRAYER FOR THE DEFEAT OF THOSE WHO ATTEMPT
TO SUBVERT GOOD GOVERNMENT.
NATIONAL FAST, MAY 9, 1798.
AND David said, O Lord, I pray thee, turn the counsel of Ahithophel into
foolishness. - 2 SAMUEL, XV. 31.
Though God condescended to frame a civil constitution for his own people, and to take the administration of it into his own hands; yet they soon became weary of his immediate superintendency, and requested him to grant them a king, that they might be like the nations round about them. In righteous displeasure, he granted their request, and anointed Saul to reign over them, who proved a severe scourge for their ingratitude and folly. But Saul's successor was a man after his own heart, whom he chose and appointed in mercy to
Accordingly we read, “He chose David his servant, and took him from the sheep-folds, from following the ewes great with young, and brought him to feed Jacob his people, and Israel his inheritance. So he fed them according integrity of his heart; and guided them by the skilfulness of his hands.” At this time the people of God certainly enjoyed a government wisely constructed and faithfully administered; and yet they were guilty of the ingratitude and presumption of forming a conspiracy against it. This conspiracy was concerted, and carried on, by the art and intrigue of one of the king's own sons. Absalom, who had a graceful appearance, and an insinuating address, stole away the hearts of the people from David his father. Having detached their affections from their rightful and faithful sovereign, he despatched emissaries into all parts of the nation, to prepare them for a general revolt.
And the better to succeed in usurping the throne of Israel, he sent for Ahithophel his father's counsellor; and having gained him over to his party, it is said, “ The conspiracy was strong; for the people increased continually with Absalom." All this was done before the king had the least intimation of the traitor's design. At length, “ There came a messenger to David, saying, the hearts of the men of Israel are after Absalom. And David said unto all his servants that were with him at Jerusalem, Arise and let us flee: for we shall not else escape
from Absalom : make speed to depart, lest he overtake us suddenly, and bring evil upon us, and smite the city with the edge of the sword.” Agreeably to this resolution, David with his family and friends, together with the Levites, immediately left the city; and amidst the cries and lamentations of multitudes, passed over the brook Kidron. There they made a stand, and consulted together upon the most proper measures to be pursued, in order to save themselves and the kingdom from ruin. Having come to a determination, they moved forward, with slow and solemn step, toward mount Olivet, “ weeping as they went up.” In this distressing hour, “ One told David, saying, Ahithophel is among the conspirators. And David said, Ö Lord, I pray thee, turn the counsel of Ahithophel into foolish
This was the most pious and pertinent petition that could have flowed from the heart and lips of David, on such an occasion. His own situation, and the situation of his kingdom, called aloud for the peculiar interposition of the Deity, to defeat the malignant counsels of the enemies of good government. Hence every one will naturally draw this just conclusion,
That it is proper for a people, under a good government, to pray that God would defeat the designs of those who are aiming to subvert it.
To illustrate this subject, I shall,
II. Inquire who may be said to be aiming to subvert such a government. And
III. Show the propriety of praying that the designs of such persons may be defeated.
I. I am briefly to describe a good government.
Some suppose that one form of government is as good as another, provided it be equally well administered. If this opinion could be admitted, all observations upon this head would be entirely superseded. But there is no foundation to imagine that the goodness or badness of any government depends solely upon its administration. It must be allowed, that the ultimate design of civil government is to restrain the VOL. II.
corruptions of human nature. And since human nature is the same at all times and in all places, the same form of government which is best for one nation is best for all nations, if they would only agree to adopt it. Hence politicians may arrive at as great perfection in the art of government as in any other art which is founded on the principles of human nature. As all mankind are naturally selfish, so it is necessary that every individual in every civil community should be constrained to act in consistency with the general good of the whole. That form of government, therefore, which is the best calculated to promote the general good of the people, is absolutely perfect in its kind. Were a set of rulers to frame a constitution to suit themselves, they would be apt to frame it so as to promote their own interest, in opposition to the interest of the people. Were a particular people to frame a constitution to suit themselves, they would be apt to frame it so as to promote their own interest, in opposition to the interest of the rulers. But were a number of enlightened and judicious statesmen to frame a constitution, in which they were never to be personally interested, they would aim to combine the interests of high and low, of rich and poor, of rulers and subjects; that is, they would mean to promote the general good of the whole community. This is the supreme and ultimate end, which ought to be proposed in every constitution of government. But since a government so constructed will necessarily cross the private interests of all individuals, it is farther necessary that it should provide for its own support, independently of the people. Just so far as any civil constitution allows the people to assist or control their rulers; just so far it is weak, deficient, and contains the seeds of its own dissolution. For while the people are making laws, they are lawless; and while they are advising or directing their rulers, they cease to be ruled. A civil constitution ought to resemble a good time-piece. A good clock, for instance, will constantly and regularly move of itself, if it be only wound up, from day to day, or from week to week. So a good constitution will support itself, without requiring any thing more of the people, than barely their setting it in motion, and choosing their own rulers, at a prescribed time, and in a prescribed manner. After a government is duly constructed, adopted, and organized, it must stand perpetually, unless it be subverted, either by the tyranny of the rulers, or the rebellion of the subjects, or the violence of foreign enemies. For it is absurd to suppose that any good constitution of government should make provision for its own destruction. It is the great design of a constitution to draw a circle around both rulers and people, and to fix the bounds within which both may law