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DUTY OF CHRISTIAN FREEMEN TO ELECT
DELIVERED ON THE FOURTH OF JULY, 1827,
IN THE SEVENTI PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH, IN PHILADELPHIA :
EZRA STILES ELY, D. D.
PASTOR OF THE TOTRD PRESBYTERIAX CHURCH IN TIAT OITT:
WITH AN APPENDIX,
DESIGNED TO VINDICATE THE LIBERTY OF CHRISTIANS,
AND OF THE AMERICAN SUNDAY SCHOOL UNION.
PRINTED BY WILLIAM F. GEDDES.
THE FOLLOWING PAGES
ARE RESPECTFULLY INSCRIBED TO THOSE MEMBERS OF THE
SENATE OF THE STATE OF PENNSYLVANIA, WIO,
IN FEBRUARY, 1828,
BY REFUSING TO GRANT AN ACT OF INCORPORATION TO
THE AMERICAN SUNDAY SCHOOL UNION."
Extracts from the Sermon having been submitted to your Honourable Branch of the Legislature, your attention is
solicited to the Discourse itself,
BY THE AUTHOR
Psalm II. 10-12. “Be wise now therefore, O ye kings: be instructed, ye judges of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling: Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way; when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.”
This Psalm represents the Lord Jesus Christ as the rightful sovereign of all lands. The nations may rage, and the people imagine vain things; the kings and other rulers of the earth may take counsel and perseveringly oppose the Lord and his anointed, saying, “Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us,” for we neither feel, nor will regard, the obligations imposed by christianity; but it is all fruitless rebellion, for “ He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision.”
He will exercise his government over them, with, or without their consent; and if they are refractory, “then shall he speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure. Yet have I set my King upon my holy hill of Zion. I will declare the decree: the Lord hath said unto me, Thou art my son; this day have I begotten thee. Ask of me, and I shall give the heathen," i. e. all the nations, “ for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for a possession. Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces, like a potter's vessel.”
On this exhibition of Messiah's reign over all the inhabitants of the earth, whether Jews or Gentiles, the exhortation and benediction of our text are founded. Let all princes, kings, judges, and rulers of every description, says the Psalmist, be exhorted to be wise for themselves and their people; let them learn true wisdom; and act in conformity with their duty and privilege in serving the Lord with filial fear and reverential joy. Let them render
to the Son of God, in their private character and public stations, that submission of the heart, and homage of their lives, which he claims, “lest he be angry and they perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little." The benediction follows: “Blessed are all they," whether nations or individuals; whether public rulers or private citizens,
“that put their trust in him ;" who is the Saviour of sinners and Governor among the nations.
Yes, “happy is that people that is in such a case : yea, happy is that people whose God is the Lord.”
We have assembled, fellow citizens, on the anniversary of our Nation's birth day, in a rational and religious manner, to celebrate our independence of all foreign domination, and the goodness of God in making us a free and happy people. On what subject can I, on the present occasion, insist with more propriety, than on the duty of all the rulers and citizens of these United States in the exercise and enjoyment of all their political rights, to honour the Lord Jesus Christ.
Let it then be distinctly stated and fearlessly maintained IN THE FIRST PLACE, that every member of this christian nation, from the highest to the lowest, ought to serve the Lord with fear, and yield his sincere homage to the Son of God. Every ruler should be an avowed and a sincere friend of Christianity. He should know and believe the doctrines of our holy religion, and act in conformity with its precepts. This he ought to do; because as a man he is required to serve the Lord; and as a public ruler he is called upon by divine authority to “ kiss the Son." The commandment contained in Proverbs iji. 6. “ in all thy ways acknowledge him,” includes public as well as private ways, and political no less than domestic ways. It is addressed equally to the man who rules, and to the person who is subject to authority. If we may not disown our God and Saviour in any situation, it will follow that we are to own him in every situation. Infinite wisdom has taught us, that he who ruleth over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God. No Christian can gainsay this decision. Let all then admit, that our civil rulers ought to act a religious part in all the relations which they sustain. Indeed, they ought pre-eminently to commit their way unto the Lord that he may
rect their steps; delight themselves in him, and wait patiently for him; because by their example, if good, they can do more good than private, less known citizens; and if evil, more harm. Their official station is a talent entrusted to them for usefulness, for which they must give account to their Maker. They are like a city set on a hill, which cannot be hid; and it is a fact indisputable, that wickedness in high places does more harm than in obscurity.
would guard; however, against misunderstanding and misrepresentation, when I state, that all our rulers ought in their official stations to serve the Lord Jesus Christ.
I do not wish any religious test to be prescribed by constitution, and proposed to a man on his acceptance of any public trust. Neither can any intelligent friend of his country and of true religion desire the establishment of any one religious sect by civil law. Let the religion of the Bible rest on that everlasting rock, and on those spiritual laws, on which Jehovah has founded his kingdom: let Christianity by the spirit of Christ in her members support herself: let Church and State be for ever distinct : but, still, let the doctrines and precepts of Christ govern all men, in all their relations and employments. If a ruler is not a Christian he ought to be one, in this land of evangelical light, without delay; and he ought, being a follower of Jesus, to honour him even as he honours the FATHER. In this land of religious freedom, what should hinder a civil magistrate from believing the gospel, and professing faith in Christ, any more than any other man? If the Chief Magistrate of a nation may be an irreligious man, with impunity, who may not? It seems to be generally granted, that our political leaders in the national and state governments ought not to be notoriously profane, drunken, abandoned men in their moral conduct; but if they may not be injurious to themselves and their fellow men, who shall give them permission to contemn God? If they ought to be just towards men, ought they not also to abstain from robbing God, and to render unto him that honour which is his due ?
Our rulers, like any other members of the community, who are under law to God as rational beings, and under law to Christ, since they have the light of divine revelation, ought to search the scriptures, assent to the truth, profess