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ples of our official men be without considerable influence on the morals and the political honesty of many. At other times we are called to the appointment of men who are intrusted with all our national concerns, and who, by legislating for Great Britain and her colonies, affect mightily the whole world. And is it quite immaterial what kind of men shall frame our laws, regulate our foreign as well as domestic policy, and govern our wide-spread colonies, when not only the happiness of individuals is to a great extent bound up in the institutions of their country, but an observant God treats nations according to their national character and national acts? If a nation, acting as such, by its constituted authorities, shall trample on probity, humanity, and justice, neither fearing God nor regarding man, will He that sitteth in the heavens smile still, and scatter the blessings of peace, and plenty, and prosperity-or will not his awful brow gather blackness, and his right hand be bared to strike? The one great lesson which all history teaches is, that as nations exist as such only here, it is here that the Judge of all the earth administers to them reward or punishment. With what judgment they judge they shall be judged, and with what measure they mete it shall be measured to them again. And thus whether we regard the bearing of public measures immediately on the general welfare, or mediately by securing the favour or the frown of the Great Ruler, we cannot but abhor the short-sighted policy which would hinder from interference the men who of all others are the most qualified to interfere by their love of right, and their love of truth, and by their devotedness to their heaven-descended principles. Yes, if the happiness of man in any degree depends on the laws and institutions of his country, to improve these is to benefit him; and to benefit man in every possible way, and to the highest degree in our power, is a religious duty taught us by the Great Master, who bids us love our neighbour as ourselves. Yet Christians must not be political! Let them teach that sentence of sanctimonious seeming to a prating parrot if they will, but let it not proceed henceforth from those who by their shape would seem to belong to that order of intelligent creatures who are made but a little lower than the angels, lest they should constrain us, for the sake of a correct classification, to admit the proposition that there is after all a connecting link between man and the lower animals.
Why, what can be a greater absurdity than to leave civil duties and political questions to the irreligious ? Yet is this what is really pleaded for whenever it is asserted that Christians should not touch politics. What! shall those who do not even pretend to act from a desire to please God be the fittest to manage our affairs ?-are the worldly and profane the most trustworthy, the best qualified to fill all offices ?-rather is not this to request that
enemies would garrison our towns; is it not to entrust to wolves the guardianship of the flock? Carry out the idea; if the principle be correct it will bear to be thoroughly acted on; it is this, then, that if it is advisable for Christians, because they are such, to abandon their civil duties, it is of course incumbent on all Christians; but if it is advisable for all Christians to avoid political affairs, it is advisable for them (for it is the same thing) to leave all offices and all public duties to those who are devoid of the best and only principles which will enable a man to steer a consistent and righteous course! As well say that the rich are ipso facto disqualified for being benevolent, or the wise for teaching, as say that Christians, the only men of right principles all through, are by that very christianity, which has imparted to them all their worth and excellence, prevented from employing their talents for the general good. It is just this monstrous absurdity --that religion disqualifies a man for usefulness on a large scale! Verily, the infidel will thank us for our concession, the enemies on earth of truth and justice will rejoice at our folly, and those enemies to man whose home is in outer darkness will raise a shout of triumph when they see Christians, the only men they fear, retire from active life.
In popular assemblies the presence and influence of Christians have often prevented much evil, much sin. Amid scenes of excitement the presence of men respected for their consistency and integrity, as real Christians ever will be, has frequently served as oil on the troubled waters. The sight of a man eminent for his virtues has on such occasions moderated in a moment the rancour that was displayed.
* Ac veluti magno in populo quum sæpe coorta est
The more Christians are present the less will there be of confusion and profanity, while if they stand aloof and leave all public duties to the irreligious, we must not wonder at any excess. We have known, on the eve of a contested election, committee meetings, and the whole business of the election managed almost with as much decorum as a church meeting, because Christians of deserved influence have taken the lead and given the tone, and, by their calm and dignified bearing, imposed unconsciously a restraint on more uproarious spirits. We have known men who have felt as devotional on the hustings as at a prayer-meeting, men who were thus engaged not from love of
conflict, but from love of principle; not that they enjoyed the means, but desired the end. Surely the Christian can go forth to public and it may be uncongenial duty duly prepared, his feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace : surely, while the mere politician or the party man is carried away by the excitement of the hour, the Christian citizen can preserve a sobriety of demeanour worthy him who is engaged in the performance of high duties from lofty principles: he will not be absorbed in the present and the near, but remembering the past and the future, will value the efforts of the passing hour for the bearing they shall have on coming events. Recollecting whose he is and whom he serves, and wherefore he is mixed up with uncongenial minds, he shall be, amidst the tumult and the din, like the traveller on the Andes, who raised above the lower grounds, sees the clouds roll and the lightnings flash beneath his feet, while himself at the same moment breathes an atmosphere of purity and peace. Aye, it reflects honour on religion when Christians act well the citizen. It does so in the way we have just hinted at, and it does so especially when Christians calmly, and undauntedly, and on principle stand forth the unrewarded, nay, perhaps the suffering advocates of every thing that is true, and noble, and humane. It is honourable to religion that, when any thing is proposed which shall be for good to the sons of men, though it be only temporal good, it should be said, “Oh, the pious will support this —we are confident of them; they will promptly throw all their weight into the scale where lie the interests of humanity and truth.' And when, too, the saints are found filling with honour to themselves and advantage to others, public and responsible stations, a respect is felt for religion which it is desirable to secure. We do not forget the evident pleasure with which the inspired writer gives us, in the earliest of the sacred books, the history of that admired saint who for his talents and merit was raised to be the second man in all the kingdom of Egypt. Nor is it quite obliterated from our memory, that the meekest man upon the earth, who conversed with God as a man converses with his friend, stands as the first and grandest of all political leaders, whose institutes are referred to with consummate respect by various heathen writers. And we would further refer our forgetful friends to the man after God's own heart, the sweet singer of Israel, whose melodies still delight even us political Dissenters, in the closet and in the sanctuary ; sage in council and skilful in the camp, obtaining his political wisdom even from his God, he has left an honoured name to be admired by all succeeding saints. One of the loveliest, and holiest, and noblest portraits ever drawn even by an inspired pencil, is that of Daniel, the prime minister of an extensive empire, under whose immediate superintendence were daily transacted the affairs of a hundred and twenty pro
vinces. Gaze on these nobles of an early age, and tell us whether, by their skilfulness and integrity in political affairs, they did not bring to religion a revenue of honour a thousand fold more than if, the victims of a sickly sensitiveness, they had shrunk from public duty, and passed their lives in solitude. The taunt that we are political will come only from those who fear and hate us, and from those among ourselves, the short-sighted and the feeble-minded, who forget or who perhaps never knew, that one design of Christianity is to bless all men by blending with all their pursuits and regulating all their institutions. In more respects than one are Christians the salt of the earth, and politically as well as morally it is Christians that shall regenerate the world. Nor shall the idle taunt harm us, till it has tarnished the fame of the worthies we have mentioned.
But is there no danger of losing our piety while we are thus engaged? To be sure there is. So is there danger of diminishing our spirituality when we are occupied in the shop, or the office, in the halls of philosophy or the bowers of the muses. Calicoes and currants have nothing to do with religion, any more than day-books and ledgers, or problems and poetry. The fact is, the man who is careless and indifferent about the health of his soul is certain to lose what little he has, or seems to have, even if he never breathe a political atmosphere. Do we forget that here Christians are on probation, and need to be disciplined, and that there is neither the one nor the other where there are no temptations and no difficulties? We admit that there is danger of losing that devotion of feeling, that meekness of manner, that love of prayer, and that zeal for the best cause, for which if lost nothing can compensate ; but, then, are we not altogether in a probationary state in which our principles are to be tried ? ard happy is the man that endureth temptation, (testing.) That political duties, like most others, will thoroughly test our graces is no argument against the performance of them, but only an argument for the more jealous watchfulness and fervent prayer. It must be admitted as an axiom, that whatever can be shown to be a duty must be consistent with piety-must be compatible even with the highest tone of piety. Happily the day, or rather the night, is passing away again, (we say again because our forefathers knew it not, they lived and acted in the broad noon; honoured men ! they were as much the champions of civil rights as of religious freedom,) in which religion was supposed to require a morbid shrinking from whatever is not immediately and in its own nature spiritual ; as if the indirect mode of usefulness were nothing; as if to benefit men in their temporal affairs were too mean an employ; as if religion coldly possessed nothing of human sympathy, and were too proud to condescend to the things
of time; as if it consisted in profoundly quiet abstraction and misanthropic exile, self inflicted, from the activity and energy around. Little do such gentle dreamers study the character of Joseph, of Moses, of David, and Daniel; full little do they comprehend the noble and vast design of God's religion, not remembering that solitude is to qualify for activity, and that devotion prepares, not unfits, a man for every mode of usefulness. Surely the salt of the earth is stored away as in a lumber-room miscalled an oratory, or it has lost its savour, and for all practical purposes is valueless, and the light of the world suffers most melancholy eclipse, when Christians come but occasionally from their retirement, and then, by their obtruded and offensive ignorance of worldly affairs, seem to say, We are holier than thou.
Gold hoarded benefits no man; in circulation it benefits many. Let Christians, then, by the performance of public duty give publicity to their noble principles. If a love of universal justice, if a hatred of oppression, if tender respect for conscience, if reverence for the truth distinguish us, let these principles be constantly, boldly exhibited: if jealousy for the authority of Christ as sole lawgiver to his church be our characteristic, if the sufficiency of Scripture as a rule of faith and practice be a primary article of our dearest belief, let these things be revealed clear as the sun. Do we not hold that our sentiments widely circulated, and once wrought into the public mind, would be grateful to the fevered land as the dews of heaven ; that the universal reception of our principles would bring a universal gladness, banishing for ever oppression, injustice, and wrong, removing the red blots that disfigure our criminal code, sweeping from the statute-book every relic of a barbarous age, disenthralling the free-born conscience, and emancipating religion from its shackles ? Every department of public and of private life reminds us of our duty as citizens. Suffering humanity in ten thousand forms and with len thousand voices, implores us to act the citizen; scarcely yet has died away upon the breeze, the piercing call that came to us across the wide Atlantic, from the tortured victims of slavery, that accursed vampire swollen and bloated with negro blood : and still the mangled victims of war, which is often but legalized murder, the orphans and the widows who are made by wholesale, call on Christians too, and thus we may see our duty written in the blood of the brave and the tears of the fair. Above all, religion, idly dressed in the trappings of the state, mocked as was the Saviour by a reed for a sceptre, and a thorn-wreath for a crown, when a worn out robe of faded purple was thrown around him, we say Christianity, insulted by the principle of an Establishment which denies that a sufficient, and vital, and heavenly energy is wrapped up in its very constitution, commands us to act; for