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pursue that noble and blessed end for which it is designed the good of mankind. Upworthy of all their other tourishing titles are those rulers who are not chiefly ambitious to be entitled benefactors. The greatest monarch in christendom, one who by computation has fourscore millions of subjects, and whom the scripture styles, 66 The head over many countries," is in the sacred prophecies called “A vile person :” and such indeed is the character of every magistrate who does not aim to do good in the world. Rulers who make no other use of their superior station than to swagger over their neighbours, command their obsequious flatteries, enrich themselves with their spoils, and then wallow in sensual and brutal pleasures, are the basest of men. From a sense of this, the Venetians, though they allow concubines, yet never employ a tradesman whom they observe to be excessively addicted to sensual gratifications ;. esteeming such a character a mere cypher. Because a wretched world will continue averse to the kingdom of the glorious and only Saviour, and say of our Immanuel, • We will not have this man to reign over us ;" it is therefore very much put into the hands of such selfish, sensual, and wicked rulers. While the deserved curse of God remains upon an impious and iofatuated world, but few rulers will be found who will seriously and strenuously devise its good, and seek to be blessings to it. Many, alas ! there are, whose lives are not worthy of a prayer, nor their deaths of a tear. Athanasius has well answered the question, Whence is it that such worthless and wicked men get into authority ? " It is,” says he, “because the people are wicked, and must be punished with men after their own hearts.” Thus, when a Phocas was made emperor, a religious man complaining to Heaven, “Why hast thou made this man emperor
922 was apswered, * I could not find a worse.” Evil rulers are well reckoned by the historian, among the effects of divine vengeance :” they may go into the catalogue with the sword, the pestilence, and fire. One man may be worse than all three. Such bring
up the rear in the train of the “pale horse"-"the beasts of the earth."
“O our God, our God, when will thy compassions to a miserable world appear in bestowing upon it good rulers, able men, men of truth, fearing God, and bating covetousness! O that the time were come, when there shall be a ruler over men, the Just One, thy Jesus, ruling in the fear of God; he shall be as the light of the morning, when the sun riseth ; under him the mountains shall bring peace to the people, and the little bills by righteousness. Hasten it in thy good time, O Lord ! How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge, and make the kingdoms of this world, thy own, and remove them that corrupt the earth, and in a great chain bind up him who pretends that the kingdoms of the world are his, and those who are the rulers of the darkness of this world !"
All you that love God, add your amen, to hasten the coming of this day of God.
In the meantime it cannot be expressed how much good may be done by the chief magistrate of a country who will make the “ doing of good” his chief intention : witness a Constantine, a Theodosius, or a Gratian. The first of these, notwithstanding the vast cares of the empire to engage his time, yet would every day at stated hours, retire to his closet, and on his knees offer up his prayers to the God of glory. And that he might recommend this duty to the world, this admirable emperor caused his image on all his gold coins, and his pictures and statues, to be made in a praying posture, with his hands extended, and his eyes lifted up to heaven. O imperial piety ! to bea hold such a prince thus publicly espousing the cause of religion, one would think were enough to convert a world! It would be so, if it were not for the dreadful energies of one, who is become by the wrath of God, "The prince of this world! The virtuous example of such a monarch as we have just described is almost enough to reform whole nations : it carries. with it irresistible charms, by which the whole world is attracted and won upon. A prince exemplary for piety, like the sun shining in his meridian strength,
sheds the rays of heaven with a most penetrating force upon the people, “ rejoicing under his wings.” Such an instance is now uncommon ; but it will not be so in the approaching age, when the “ kings of the earth shall bring their glory and honour" into the holy city. A little piety in princes makes a glaring show; the eyes of their subjects are dazzled, and their minds ravished with it. What then would be done by a degree of piety in them, that should bear a proportion to the degree of their dignity, and if their piety were as much above that of other men as their station ? Roll on, ye ages, to bring about such admirable spectacles !
What a vast influence might such princes have on the reformation of the world, and consequently on its felicity, by dispensing preferments and employments to none but such as were recommended to them by their virtue! If good men generally were put into commissions, and none but such made commanders at sea, or on shore, what a great change for the better would the world immediately be blessed with! I will beg leave to say that it would be a most comprehensive service to a nation to get them unfettered from any test that may render honest and faithful men incapable of serving them. And I will take the liberty of saying, that displacing a few officers, on account of their vicious character, would do far more to improve the state of a depraved and afflicted nation, than a thousand proclamations against vice, not followed with such regulations.
Good laws are important engines to prevent much evil ; indeed, they reach none without doing some good to them: all, therefore, who have any concern in the legislation, should be active in promoting such laws as may prove of permanent advantage. The representatives of a people will do well to inquire, 66 What is there still defective in our laws, leaving the iniquities or the necessities of men unprovided against ?” and “What further laws may be proposed, to advance the reign of righteousness and holiness ?!! There have been laws, (and sometimes none of the best) which have rendered the names of their authors immortal : but the remembrance of “the man, who first proposed a good law,” is far more honourable than
a statute erected to his memory. But, Sirs, if your fellow men forget such an action, it will not fail of a recompense in God's remembrance, or your own. You know whose prayer it was—"Think upon me, my God, for good, according to all that I have done for this people."
Magistrates may do incredible good by countenancing worthy ministers. To settle and support such 56 men of God” in a place, is to become, I may say, the grandfathers of all the good which those men do in the place. Their consultations aod combinations with able, faithful, zealous ministers, may produce better effects than any astrologer ever foretold of the most happy conjunction. When Moses and Aaron unite to do good, what cannot they effect? Queen Elizabeth admired the happiness of Suffolk, in her progress through the country, where she observed a remarkably good understanding to subsist between virtuous magistrates and faithful ministers.
Briefly: We will observe a decorum in our proposals, and not suppose inattention or incapacity in the persons to whom we offer them. It shall only be proposed, that, since magistrates are usually men of abilities, they would sometimes retire to a serious contemplation on that generous question, "What good may I do in the world ?" and to observe what they are themselves able to invent, (assisted by the implored grace of Heaven) as part of that good which they are to perform in serving their generation,”
1 mistake if oid Theognis* had not a maxim, which ought never to be forgotten, “ when the administration of affairs is placed in the hands of men, proud of command, and devoted to their own private emolu. ment, depend upon it the people will soon become a miserable people." I propose that this maxim be carefully remembered, and this mischief avoided.
I add one thing more-- Thinkest thou this, O man that judgest, that thou shalt escape the judgment
* An ancieni Greck poet of Megara in Achaia. He flourished about 144 years B. C. A nncral work of his iş extant, containing a summary of prccepts, &c.
of God ?”! Let the judges of the people remember that God will one day bring them into judgment.* O that rulers would realize this to themselves--that they must give an account to God of the administration of their government. Sirs, the great God, before whom the greatest of you all is but a worm, will demand of you, 6. Whether you were faithful in the discharge of your office? What you did for his kingdom in your office? Whether you did what you was able that the world might be the better for you ?" If you would frequently take this subject into your consideration, it could not but stimulate you to the performance of many actions, which would be 6 no grief of heart” to you, another day. He was one of the best rulers in the world, who thus expressed himself, “What shall I do when God riseth up; and when he shall visit, what shall I answer hiin ??! Even Abubeker, the successor of Mahomet, when his people expostulated with him for walking on foot, when he reviewed his army, said, 6 I shall find my account with God for these steps.” He has less christianity than a Mahometan, who is utterly unmindful of the account he must give to God for the steps which he takes.
How prosperously did the affairs of Neo-Cæsaria proceed, when Basil, who resided there, could give this account of the governor, “He was a most exact observer of justice ; yet very courteous, obliging, and easy of access to the oppressed. He was equally at leisure to receive the rich and the poor; but all wicked men were afraid of him. He utterly abhorredi the taking of a bribe; and his design was, in brief, to raise christianity to its primitive dignity." A sahometan captain-general, whose name was Calel, once said to a Christian, “ It does not at all become men in eminent stations, to deal deceitfully, an! descend to tricks." It is a miserable thing, indeed, when Christians, in eminent stations, will do such things!
* Judex nuper eram ; jam judicor. I was but lately ir judge ; now I am at the bar.