« 上一頁繼續 »
we had daily prayers in this room for the Divine protection. Our prayers were heard, and they were graciously answered. All of us who were engaged in the struggle must have observed frequent instances of a superintending Providence in our favor. To that kind Providence we owe this happy opportunity of consulting in peace on the means of establishing our future national felicity. And have we now forgotten that powerful Friend? Or do we imagine we no longer need his assistance? I have lived a long time; and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth, that God governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without his aid?
“We have been assured in the sacred writings that, except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it.'
“I firmly believe this; and I believe also that without his concurring aid we shall succeed in this political building no better than the builders of Babel; we shall be divided by our little, partial, local ailments; our prophets will be confounded, and we shall become a reproach and a byword down to future ages.
“And what is worse, mankind may hereafter, from this unfortunate instance, despair of establishing government by human wisdom, and leave it to chance, war, and conquest. I therefore beg leave to move that hereafter prayers, imploring the assistance of Heaven and its blessing on our deliberations, be held in this Assembly every morning before we proceed to business, and that one or more of the clergy of this city be requested to officiate in that service.”
The only notice by Dr. Franklin of the negative result of his motion was that of simple astonishment, thus: “The Convention, except three or four persons, THOUGHT PRAYERS UNNECESSARY!” What the Congress of the nation had refused to God, they would not yield at the petition of their foremost legislator.
We have just now passed the centennial anniversary of the adoption of the Constitution without prayer; and in less than another century four hundred millions of immortal beings will be under its rule, if it please God to spare such a people as a nation.
Are we fit for the government of a single generation of immortal beings, if we deliberately reject God's divine law and providential lessons? We may well read and apply the poet Wordsworth's sonnet on the obligations of civil to religious liberty:
“What came from Heaven, to Heaven by nature clings ;
And if dissevered thence, its course is short."
It is a great gain when, in aid of our own investigations, we can bring to the illustration of the Scriptures not merely the notes and discoveries of profound theological inquirers, such as Hooker, Butler, Howe, Edwards, Chalmers, but also the example, experience, and conclusions of such men as Niebuhr and Franklin. So the witnesses and vouchers for God's Word, and the providential demonstrations of its truth, are multiplying, as by compound interest, through every age.
The difficulty of self-government has in every age been admitted. It is the climax of all virtue. The subduing of our own will to God's will is perfection. It is never gained but by divine grace. Self-government is the submission of all things to God; obedience in all things to his loving will, as made known to us in his Word, and in the example of Christ; — the life and rule of the Son of God Incarnate.
But if so difficult, so impossible, for a man without the grace of God, how much more difficult and impossible for a nation! There never was, never will be, never can be, a nation self governed, without the enthronement and acknowledgment of God's will and word as the supreme rule and guide of the State conscience; in the use of all its just powers as a conscience towards God, not man, for the highest good of the whole people.
Governments derive their just powers, under God the Creator, through the consent of the people; as being themselves governed supremely by Him and for Him. But the governed are rational beings, accountable to God for all their privileges, rights, and powers, and for all the uses they make of them.
The governed are, first of all, in consenting to the formation and support of their own government, responsible to God for every article in its Constitution, and bound to act in all things from a conscience towards God, for the good of all their fellow-creatures. Can a nation ever govern righteously without the same individual and united regard to God's will, - a will which begins with the divine eternal affirmation, ALL SOULS ARE MINE? “Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me, even this whole nation. From the children have ye taken away my glory forever. My God will cast them away, because they did not hearken unto him; and they shall be wanderers among the nations.” Compare the Prophets Hosea, Micah, Malachi.
THE CHILD THE FATHER OF THE MAN.
The child the father of the man?
Oh, who can such a riddle scan? Mysterious law! Creation's plan!
Unquestioned truth, from age to age,
For generations yet unknown
Life's autumn from the spring foreshown,
The child the father of the man?
Then let the parents teach their child,
From earliest cradle, all they can
The Babe the Model of the Man ?
Commissioned by the Will of God! Amazing Gift! Mysterious plan!
To send the Parent's image down,
The law of an unchanging soul!
Nor alienate the dread control;
From youth to age, the seed its kind, So sure its product to fulfil,
The sight, the sense, the thought, the mind!
Of the first kiss, or curse, or frown,
Oh, knew we its resistless power!
Such as I am, such thou shalt be,
For good or ill, forever known,
Thyself forever on the throne,