Prince Messiah’s Claims to Dominion Over All Governments: and the Disregard of his Authority by the United States, in the Federal Constitution.
FORMER PASTOR OF THE REFORMED PRESBYTERIAN CONGREGATION OF ALBANY, NOW PROFESSOR OF THEOLOGY IN THE SEMINARY OF THE REFORMED PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH IN CINCINNATI
"Until the Messiah the Prince, shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks."—Daniel.
"Jesus Christ—Prince of the kings of the earth."—John.
First published in
Packard, Hoffman and White,
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CORNER OF FOURTH & WALNUT STREETS.
THE BIBLE CLAIMS OF MESSIAH TO AUTHORITY OVER ALL GOVERNMENTS
The Lord Jesus Christ exercises, as Mediator, the offices of prophet, priest and King. The church bore ample testimony to his prophetic office, in the early ages of Christianity, in the writings of the Fathers, in their suffering to the death for holding the truth of the Bible, to be a revelation from heaven.
To the doctrine of his priestly office, his servants bore witness in the 16th century, when justification through faith, without the works of the law, was taught and illustrated. The conflict then was between the heresies of the Papists respecting pardon by indulgences, penances, pilgrimages and purity, on the one side; and the meritorious offering of the son of God for sinners on the other. Then was the second great article of the church’s creed settled. For the truth of the priesthood of Christ, many thousand of saints laid down their lives, not counting them dear. The witnesses must finish their testimony, by bearing witness, and dying to seal it, for the princely honor and glory of him who "is Lord of lords, and Prince of the kings of the earth." To the headship of the Mediator over the church as her only Lord, in opposition to that of the Pope or of any earthly potentate, our Fathers in Great Britain, nobly bore testimony in the pulpit, by the press, on the scaffold, at the stake of the martyr, and in the field of battle at Airsmoss and Bothwell Bridge.
By the arguments which have been conducted in Europe and America against the despotic governments of the former, and the infidel regime of the latter, the church has been asserting the claims of her glorious Lord, to the homage of the commonwealths of the nations. Tyrants are yet on their thrones, and unholy republics refuse to acknowledge Him as "Lord of all."
The saints know this, mourn over it, and continue to plead with the nations, that Messiah’s claims may no longer be set aside. To this topic, the following pages are consecrated. O Lord Jesus, by thy word and Spirit aid the writer, that he may ably, faithfully and successfully plead for the glory of thy kingdom that ruleth over all!
The doctrine which we affirm is briefly and perspicuously summed up in the following text: Phil. 2:9-11. "God also hath highly exalted him and given him a name which is above every name; that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth: and that every tongue should confess that Jesus is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." Jesus is a Mediatorial title, the God-man Redeemer is Jesus: "Thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins," Matt. 1:21. In this character only he can be exalted: for as God he is naturally and essentially, "over all and blessed forever." Rom. 9:5. "Being in the form of God, he thought it no robbery to be equal with God." Phil. 2:6. By him as efficient all things were created. John. 1:3. "He upholds all things by the word of his power." Heb. 1:3. Therefore as creating and sustaining all thing he is in right of his Godhead, "the blessed and only potentate." 1 Tim. 6:15.
The princely authority of Messiah, to which we refer in this essay, is what divines call his "economical government," and not that which is denominated his "essential kingdom."
I. ITS ORIGIN. We know of but two classes of intelligent creatures—men and angels—who constituted the two branches (as Dr. Owen calls them) of the providential kingdom of Jehovah. Both of these states of God’s general government, became disordered, by acts of open rebellion. "Angels who kept not their first estate" [Jude 6] erected the standard of revolt, and man joined them in their opposition to God’s dominion. Out of this disordered providential empire, the Lord had determined to form, under one head, a consolidated and permanent kingdom. Christ Jesus, his Eternal Son, is made the head of this commonwealth of Israel. For this purpose he was set up from everlasting:—"That in the dispensation of the fullness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth, even in him:" Eph. 1:10.
As this kingdom is placed under Christ, so power is delegated to him, in the character of Mediator, that he may collect together, and educate the citizens of this great commonwealth of Israel. Hence, the kingdom does not originate in the essential Lordship of the Son of God, but in the decree of the Father appointing him as his "Servant whom I upholds." Isa. 42:1. To which the Holy Ghost refers., when speaking by David. Ps. 2:6-7. "I have set my king, &c.—I will declare the decree."
The common conscience of heathen, as well as Christian nations, approves of personal and social subjection to the government of God. But it is only in the conscience, enlightened by the gospel, that the dominion of Jehovah, as God-man, is recognized, and that the refusal of persons and nations to obey him, is condemned. In the Bible alone, the doctrine of his Mediatorial investiture with universal Lordship, is revealed. It is the act of God the Father, that invests him with the authority over all things. "Thou madest him to have dominion over the work of thy hands; Thou hast put all things under his feet." Ps. 8:6. The person here addressed is God the Father; and the person spoken of is the Son as Mediator; as we learn from its application to him in the New Testament. "For he hath put all things under his feet. But when he saith, all things are put under him, it is manifest that he is excepted who did put all things under him." 1 Cor. 15:27. The only exception is; the person of the Father. The apostle Paul, by the Holy Spirit, Heb. 2:6-8, applies the text in Psalm 8, to Jesus. "But one in a certain place testified, saying, Thou crownest him with glory and honour, and didst set him over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet. For in that he put all in subjection under him, he left nothing that is not put under him—but we see Jesus, &c."
In human nature, he was formally inaugurated "Lord of all" at his ascension from Mount Olivet, forty days after his resurrection. "Who" (Jesus) "sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high." This had been predicted ages before. "He," Christ, "shall bruise thy head." Gen. 3:15. "Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lifted up, ye everlasting doors, and the King of Glory shall come in." Ps. 24:7. Angels ascended with him in his triumphant entrance into the third heavens; "and when the Ancient of days did sit, whose garment was white as snow and the hair of his head like the pure wool—thousand thousands ministered unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him." [Dan. 7:9,10.] These are the mighty and glorious angelic thrones. Lord Jesus, how great is the glory of thy kingdom!
At his induction to the throne of the universe, he received an unction of joy from the Holy Spirit. "Therefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows." [Ps. 45:7.] Then it was that he received gifts for men, that God the Lord might dwell among them. [Ps. 68:18.] The Father reigns by him, and the Holy Spirit in him, over the whole moral empire of the Godhead.
The book of the divine decrees, of the law, and of the covenant of grace was put into his hand, at his formal and solemn investiture with the dominion of all creation. "I beheld, and lo, in the midst of the throne stood a Lamb as it had been slain, and he came and took the book out of the right hand of him that sat on the throne." Rev. 5:6-7. Thus the whole administration of the kingdom of providence—the application of the Lord’s law to every moral subject, and the dispensation of the blessings of the new covenant to all the redeemed, were entrusted to Prince Messiah.
II. Jesus Christ is well qualified for the administration of his kingdom, vast, complicated and glorious.
1. He is wise. "Christ is the wisdom of God." 1 Cor. 1:24. "I wisdom dwell with prudence, and find out knowledge of witty inventions. By me kings reign." Prov. 8:12. The knowledge of Christ is infinite—"In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge." Col. 2:3.
2. He is righteous. "The sceptre of thy kingdom is a right sceptre." "The righteous Lord loveth judgment." "Justice and judgment are the habitation of thy throne." Psal. 89:14. The person to whom the church here speaks, is Messiah, the Lord of Hosts.
3. He is gracious. Jesus says, "My delights were with the sons of men." Prov. 8:31. He manifests his benevolence in the arrangements of the material and moral universe, which he has created, for imparting enjoyment to the numerous ranks of sentient beings. In providence, too, he sends rain and fruitful seasons. But his having delighted from the beginning, ere ever the earth was, in the sons of men, not withstanding their debasement by sin, is benevolence ineffable. "The King of Israel is a merciful King." When he devoted himself in the covenant, to die as a ransom for our sins, it was with delight. "While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." Rom. 5:8. A king ought to be merciful. Our king is infinite in his compassion. His loving kindness is expatiated on all parts of his dominions, except the realms of eternal darkness.
4. He is omnipotent. "Unto us a child is born, and unto us a Son is given, and the government shall be upon his shoulders; and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, the mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace, there shall be no end; upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice, from henceforth, even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this." Isa. 9:6-7. This is Prince Messiah, who is the "Mighty God," while he is a "child born, and son given." "The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord—he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth."—Isa. 11:2-4. He is strong in wisdom and knowledge. "And wisdom and knowledge shall be the stability of thy times, and strength of salvation." Isa. 33:6. He is strong in righteousness and truth. "And righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins," Isa. 11:5.
All the wisdom of the sagest kings—all the righteousness of just princes—all the benevolence of the most gracious monarchs, and all the prowess of the most mighty captains have emanated from Prince Messiah, "by whom kings reign, and princes decree justice, even all the nobles of the earth." [Prov. 8:16.]
How foolish, how insane are rebel kings and kingdoms! Be astonished ye heavens. "The kings of the earth set themselves and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord, and against his anointed, saying, let us break their bonds asunder, and cast away their cords from us. He that sits in heaven shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision." Ps. 2:2-4.
III. As he is qualified to reign, so he very gloriously administers the kingdom, in bringing to pass the counsels of the Godhead. The administration is such as becomes the infinitely excellent Prince.
1. He dispenses to the redeemed of the Lord, the blessings of the covenant of grace, in all their fullness both here and hereafter. "He shall come down like rain on the mown grass, as showers that water the earth." Ps. 72:6. This he does when, by the power of the Holy Ghost, he regenerates the sinner, creating him anew in Christ Jesus, and by the nurture which, in progressive holiness, he imparts to those graces which adorn the beloved of Jehovah. "The Lord will give grace and glory. No good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly." These gifts, at his ascension, he received, that he might bestow them on the people of his love and choice, in the administration of his special kingdom. By his word and spirit he governs a people made willing in the day of his power.
2. He protects his Saints. They are in themselves feeble and exposed to fierce and most malevolent foes. He keeps them as the apple of his eye, and enclosed them in the shade of his Almighty, paternal wings. "He shall redeem their soul from deceit and violence, and precious shall their blood be in his sight." Ps. 72:14. Of the church, which is represented as the place of his rest, it is affirmed:—"His bed, which is Solomon’s; threescore valiant men are about it, of the valiant of Israel. They all hold swords, being expert in war; every man hath his sword upon his thigh, because of the fear in the night." Song. 3:7-8. "Thy neck," says Christ to the church, "is like the tower of David, builded for an armoury, whereon there hand a thousand bucklers, all shields of mighty men." [Song. 4:4.] Ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands of holy Angels, great in might, and expert in war, are at the command of Prince Messiah, and exercise their guardian care in defending the followers of the Lamb. The mountains around them are full of horsemen and chariots of fire.
3. He makes all the material and intellectual operations of the universe, subserve the good of his chosen. Minerals, plants, and brute animals are made for the use of man. "All sheep and oxen, beasts of the field, fowls of the air, and fish of the sea, were given him." Ps. 8:7-8. The sun, moon and stars, while they may minister to the enjoyment of countless hosts of other happy beings, are all made for man. "God set them in the firmament of heaven to give light upon the earth." Gen. 1:17. Messiah, being made head over all things, to his body the church, governs their movements, so as to make them "work together for good to them that love God." Rom. 8:28.
Empires are raised up and decline under his providential control. The armies of Rome formed those military highways in which the gospel traveled to the remotest nations. British navies, armies, and merchants, have penetrated to the most distant Indies sent thither, under the controlling power of Prince Messiah, that the Bible Society might be furnished with facilities, for the circulation of the scriptures among the people of Borneo and New Holland. He who is Lord of all quickens the march of the sciences, in application to the arts, that the gospel may soon, in all its purity, travel on the wings of the wind over the whole earth. "Who are these that fly as a cloud and as doves to their windows?" Isa. 60:8.
4. He crushes hostile thrones. The principalities and powers of hell are dragged at his chariot wheels. "He has been manifested that he may destroy the works of the devil." 1 John 3:8. The old serpent, the devil and Satan, carries on his operations in this world, chiefly through the agency of ungodly men, in whom he reigns. The wicked are in a state of enmity with God, and with the sons of God. "The carnal mind is enmity against God." [Rom. 8:7.] "Because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you." John 15:19.
When Christ is appointed by the Father to the mediatory throne, he is endowed with authority to reduce the rebel hosts into subjection. "The Lord shall send the rod of thy strength out of Zion; rule thou in the midst of thine enemies. The Lord that sits at thy right hand, shall strike through kings in the day of his wrath. He shall judge among the heathen; he shall fill the places with the dead bodies; he shall wound the heads over many countries." Ps. 110:2,5,6. The destruction of kings and the desolations of kingdoms, by revolution, war, pestilence, and famine, are the effects of the wrath of the Lamb. This Psalm refers to the Messiah; for the Apostle Heb. 1:13. applies the latter clause of the 1st verse to the Son of God, as Mediator—"Who by himself, purged our sins, and sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high." "Sit thou on my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool." [Ps. 110:1.]
John in the Apocalypse, [Rev.] 17:14., after describing the modern despotisms of Europe, under the very appropriate imagery of ten horns of a beast, adds, "These shall make war with the Lamb," (Jesus the Mediator,) "and the Lamb shall overcome them; for he is King of kings and Lord of lords." How vain to say, "who is able to make war with the beast?" Rev. 13:4. The Lamb can effectually; and the opposition of his saints to the thrones of iniquity is not, as some say, Lilliputian efforts. They will overcome "by the word of their testimony." [Rev. 12:11.]
IV. Messiah is made "head over all things to the church, which is his body." [Eph. 1:22,23.] The church is his peculiar treasure, which he hath redeemed to himself by his own precious blood. It is his special kingdom, "which is not of this world." "I have set my king upon my holy hill of Zion." Ps. 2:6.
1. All the members of the church profess their allegiance to him in Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. They bind themselves to obedience, by the most solemn oaths of allegiance. "They lifted up their voice to God with one accord and said, Lord, thou art God, who hast made heaven and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is." Acts. 4:24. "And the four and twenty elders", and the four living creatures, fell down and worshipped God, crying, Amen." Rev. 19:4. "And the armies that were in heaven followed him." Rev. 19:14.
2. Those who by the word and Spirit of the Lord are born again, belong to this special kingdom, and render to the Messiah the homage of their hearts. By faith they receive him as their Lord whom they love and adore; by faith they are united to him as their spiritual head; by faith they become possessed of his righteousness, "which is unto all and upon all them that believe;" and by faith they partake of the spiritual blessings of the special kingdom of the Prince of peace. "For through him, we both have access, by one Spirit unto the Father. Now therefore, ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God." Eph. 2:18,19. Therefore, all true believers love him, honor him, and seek the glory of his kingdom. His willing subjects are thus distinguished from the ungodly, who are regardless of the glory of his Majesty, and who in the tenor of their thoughts and deportment say, "we will not have this man to reign over us." [Luke. 19:14.]
3. By his Spirit he animates with a living energy of gospel holiness, his body the church. He infuses his own spirit into the commonwealth of Israel, which becomes instinct with the life of godliness, and adorned with the garniture of heaven. "We all come in the unity of faith and of the knowledge of the son of God unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ—that we may grow up unto him in all things, who is the head, even Christ." Eph. 4:13,15. "The king’s daughter is all glorious within, her clothing is of wrought gold." Ps. 45:13. "How goodly are thy tents, O Jacob! and thy tabernacles, O Israel! As the valleys, they are spread forth, as gardens by the river’s side; as the trees of lign-aloes which the Lord hath planted, and as cedar trees beside the waters." Num. 24:5-6. "Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God hath shined." Ps. 50:2. "Beautiful for situation is Mount Zion, the joy of the whole earth." Ps. 48:2.
4. As her only Head, he endows the church with the system of gospel truth—a glorious system, where the mightiest minds employ their noblest powers, in surveying with ineffable delight, the fields of divine knowledge. The topics embraced in this depository of heavenly science are, the glories of the Godhead, as revealed in "the only begotten of the Father, full of Grace and truth"—the eternal counsels of Jehovah respecting the creation, organization and garniture of the moral and physical universe; and more especially respecting the redemption of lost sinners, by the blood of his own Son—the providential administration of his kingdom—the actual application of the blood of Jesus, by the Holy Spirit—and the blessedness of redeemed men, in communion with their God, and in the fellowship of holy angels in realms of immortality. O my soul, what enrapturing themes! Blessed Jesus, what a treasure of gospel truth, thou hast committed to our care! "The house of God which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth." 1 Tim. 3: 15. "He showeth his word unto Jacob, his statutes and his judgments unto Israel. He hath not dealt so with any" other "nation." [Ps. 147:19,20.]
5. The laws by which she is governed, and by which the inhabitants of the world, in all the relations of human life, are bound to walk, he hath committed to the church as their depository. For they are recorded in the Holy Scriptures. "The law shall go forth out of Zion, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem." "Hear O heavens and give ear, O earth, for the Lord hath spoken." Isa. 1:2. This law, the judges of the earth shall obey when God brings on them heavy afflictions. Then they will prefer the laws of the God of heaven to the counter laws which have been enacted by unholy legislators. "When their judges are overthrown in stony places, they shall hear my words: for they are sweet." Ps. 141:6. He judges the nations to compel them to hear the Lord Jesus—"And in the earthquake, there were slain of men, seven thousand: and the remnant were affrighted and gave glory to the God of heaven," by rendering obedience to the laws that are given to Israel. Rev. 11:13.
6. Messiah endows the church with holy ordinances, for the edification of her citizens. In prayer, praise, reading and preaching the word, sacraments, fasts, and ecclesiastical covenants, she possesses all the institutions necessary for the application of his doctrines, and laws in the regeneration of the sinner, and the sanctification of the people of the Lord.
7. The form of her government is by divine appointment. The Lord Jesus is the author, as he reigns on the hill of Zion. He erects the throne of the house of David. Her government unites all the energies and despatch of monarchy, and the safety of the republican or representative system, with all the wisdom and wholesome vigor of an aristocracy. The people elect all their officers, who derive their authority from Christ the head, by ordination; and there is no rotation in office. The king of Zion has endowed the commonwealth of Israel with a form of government which embraces all that is good, in the three distinct schemes of civil policy, without defects of any of them. "Jerusalem is builded as a city, that is compact together. For there are set thrones of judgment, the thrones of the house of David." Ps. 122:3,5. "And round about the throne were four and twenty seats and upon the seats I saw four and twenty elders sitting, clothed in white raiment; and they had on their heads crowns of gold. And round about the throne, were four beasts full of eyes before and behind." Rev. 4:4,6. The energy of the government of the "holy nation," is well tested. It has been exercised over a poor, and exceedingly diversified people; yet it has preserved the nation unbroken for a long succession of ages. Though factions have arisen within, and foes have waged war without; though in the midst of hostile empires, and attacked by mighty hosts, yet she has not been crushed. The greatest monarchies have been wrecked around her, while she rises in fresh glories, from every conflict. It is true, that the "Lord is in Zion, great and high above all people;" and he is so, by the spiritual and moral energies which his spirit imparts to that infinitely wise and efficacious ecclesiastical polity, instituted for the preservation of "his peculiar people."
8. He furnishes his church with officers, whom he creates, educates, and endows with the qualifications requisite for the performance of all the governmental functions. "He gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists ; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ." Eph. 3:11,12. Though men may err, in their exercise of the right of suffrage, and in their appointments to office, yet Prince Messiah never errs. What is good for the church, the Lord gives her. "By the weak things of the world, he confounds the things that are mighty; and by the things that are not, brings to nought the things that are." Priests, Levites, apostles, evangelists, prophets, overseers, elders, deacons—officers extraordinary and stated—all exercise their ministerial duties, under his authority, controlled by his power, and guided by his word and Spirit.
9. All these he binds together by the great social pledge which the whole church, as a collective body, gives in her oath of allegiance to him. "Because he is thy Lord, worship thou him." The church is, from her very organization, a covenant society. For this reason she is called "the bride, the Lamb’s wife." In the Song of Songs, Christ calls her his spouse, referring to the marriage vows, by which she dedicates herself to him in covenant as her husband. "Thy Maker is thy husband—the Lord of Hosts is his name." This is the fair jewel with which the prophet says, that the Lord adorns the forehead of Israel. The church’s covenants are her glory, for they in the most solemn manner, consummate the connection which exists between the church and her king. "I, the Lord, will be their God, and my servant David," i.e., Christ, "a Prince among them, I, the Lord, have spoken it. And I will make with them a covenant of peace." Ezek. 34:24,25. This covenant of peace, is the national compact of the commonwealth of Israel. It is the formal bond of connection between Messiah, the Prince of peace, and his kingdom of peace, over which he reigns forever. His subjects are made willing, in the day of his almighty grace.
Wherever this covenant is disregarded, there the dominion of Prince Messiah is lightly esteemed, religion is in a low state, and Christian morals are relaxed.
V. The ordinance of magistracy is subjected to Prince Messiah. For:—
1. All things are proved to be under his mediatorial authority, and therefore civil government. As God the Father alone is excepted, (1 Cor. 15:27,) political sovereignties are within the precincts of his dominion.
2. It is expressly affirmed that he is the Lord of civil rulers. "Jesus Christ is Prince of the Kings of the earth." The name, Jesus, signifies Saviour; and Christ, anointed. As Messiah, the Saviour, he is king over earthly potentates. Besides, the text quoted from Rev. 1:2 introduces him, as endowed with authority over the civil powers, of whose overthrow by this Prince; John, in the Apocalypse gives the prospective history.
In the exaltation of our Lord over all civil power, an ancient prediction is fulfilled. "I will make him my first born, higher than the kings of the earth." Ps. 89:27. "And there was given him a kingdom, that all nations should serve him." Dan. 7:14. All this refers to the civil dominion with which Emmanuel, in our nature, is endowed, at his ascension, by formal investiture.
3. The attributes of rulers, by which they are qualified to perform their official functions, and their authority to reign, are immediately from the Spirit of Messiah. "By me kings reign, and princes decree justice. By me princes rule and nobles, even all the judges of the earth." Prov. 8:15,16.
4. He exercises authority over Kings, as their Lord.
He gave Moses his commission, to reign in Jeshuran as king. For this purpose, he appeared to him in the burning bush, and delegated to him the power to govern the people of Israel.
It was he who overthrew Pharaoh and all his hosts in the Red Sea.
For Christ was the angel that dwelt in the pillar of the cloud by day, and in the pillar of fire by night. When the cloud removed to the rear of the hosts of Israel, Messiah the Prince looked out of the cloud on the hosts of Pharaoh, and troubled them.
He appeared as captain of the Lord’s hosts, to Joshua, on the banks of Jordan, to lead the people of Israel against the seven nations of Canaan. He overthrew great kings, and gave, for inheritance, their land to his chosen people. The drawn sword which he had in his hand, is an emblem of that borne by the civil magistrate—"He beareth not the sword in vain." Rom. 13:4.
He gave the ten commandments. For Messiah is in his holy place, as he was in Mount Sinai, when he uttered the ten commandments that bind kings.
He will judge, at the last day, all earthly potentates; for "the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all (pasan—πασαν,) judgment to the Son." John. 5:22. To him who wlll judge them, they are now made subject.
5. The ordinance of Magistracy, originating from God the Father, is committed to the mediatorial administration, for the good of the nations. "No man," says Christ, "cometh unto the Father, but by me." John. 14:6. No President, or Governor can come to the Father acceptably, but by Christ. God, angry with sinful nations, will not allow them to come to him, with acceptance, but in and through the Mediator. He is the trustee and dispenser of Jehovah’s munificence to the sons of men. Does a holy God impart blessings to men, by the divinely instituted ordinance of civil government, it is through Messiah the Prince. The very fact, that "the sun is made to rise, and the rains to descend on the just and on the unjust," [Matt. 5:45,] is demonstrative evidence that Jesus reigns over the nations.
6. It displays the glory of the Godhead.—"He is made Lord of all, to the glory of God the Father." When nations refuse to honor him, it is a dishonor done to the Lord Jehovah, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
All these considerations demonstrate to every man who believes and understands the word of God, that the civil government of the nations is subjected to the Lordship of Messiah, "the Prince of the Kings of the earth." [Rev. 1:5.]
VI. Nations are bound, in the constitutions of their governments, to recognize formally the authority of the Mediator as their King.
1. It is the duty of all individuals who compose a nation, to obey Christ.—Therefore, the collective body should expressly acknowledge Immanuel as Sovereign Lord. This recognition ought to be embodied in the fundamental law of the empire. When every person in the commonwealth "is under law to Christ," the whole nation, in its convention representing all, is bound by the law of God, to do homage to him "who is Lord of all." "All the parts are equal to the whole." As then, when acting apart, every man owes allegiance to Christ, so, when acting together, they cannot nationally be freed from their obligation to "the King of kings." "And it shall come to pass, that every soul that will not hear him, shall be destroyed from among his people." Acts 3:23. "Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man, for the Lord’s sake." 1 Pet. 2:13. Man, who is subject to Christ, ordains civil government, by the will of the majority, in the name of the Lord. And this is the formal reason of the willing submission, or obedience. It is for the Lord Christ’s sake, from whom the people derive their right to frame the government, by whom the moral laws of the empire are enacted, whose honor and glory are to be promoted, and for whose sake alone that allegiance is due to this ordinance of man.
2. We know that Christ does not say to kings, "your subjects must obey me, but I exempt you from all obligation to honor me." On the other hand, God the Father, says: "Be wise now, O ye kings, be instructed O ye judges of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice will trembling. Kiss ye the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way when his anger is kindled but a little." Ps. 2:10-12.
3. When rulers refuse to hear, so will the people, generally.—"On each side walk the wicked, when vile men are high in place." [Ps. 12:8.] When the king who occupied the throne of Israel was an idolater, the people followed him. Hence, it is not in the nature of human society, that when the government dishonors the crown of Emmanuel, the people will walk according to his law.
4. They are bound to legislate according to his law.—"The Lord spake unto Joshua saying, this book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth: but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein, for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success." Josh. 1:1-8. Joshua was a civil ruler. "No scripture is of private interpretation." "Now all these things are written for our admonition." 1 Cor. 10:11.
5. His honor must be promoted by excluding his open enemies from office. "When the wicked beareth rule the people mourn." Prov. 29:2. Because the Messiah chastises them for exalting the foes of his church, and law. To permit atheists, deists, Jews, pagans, profane men, heretics, such as are the blasphemers of Messiah’s Godhead, and papists, who are gross idolaters, to occupy places of honor and power, as legislators, judges & etc. is to offer a direct insult to the holy Jesus. They do not, they will not, they cannot "kiss the Son," according to the Father’s command. To elevate such men is direct opposition to the King of kings. "Cursed be the deceiver, who hath in his flock a male, and voweth and sacrificeth unto the Lord a corrupt thing." Mal. 1:14. "He that ruleth over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God." 2 Sam. 23:3.
6. The civil rulers of the nations are bound to be nursing fathers to the church. The ungodly and profane, will cry out "Church and State!" Many weak, and timid, and misinformed professors [i.e., professing Christians], are alarmed by their profane banter. It is true, too, "that fools always run to extremes." Men have seen the evils which have resulted from making the church an engine of profane state policy. They have witnessed, with pain, the despots of the earth using the aid of an idolatrous or faithless priesthood, for the purpose of enslaving the nations, and of enriching themselves with "the spoils" of oppressed humanity. From all this they have inferred, that the church of God is not to be known as an object of favor in the kingdoms of the world. All associations of business, labour, and literature must be nurtured; but the church left utterly neglected. Christ makes "all things work together for good to them that love God, and are the called according to his purpose." He made the magistracy of the Hebrew commonwealth subservient to the good of his spiritual kingdom. The church is as worthy an object of national favour, as she was in the days of David or Hezekiah. Christ has promised that the church shall again be nursed by kings. "Kings shall be thy nursing fathers, and their queens thy nursing mothers. We have his promise that the church "shall suck the breasts of kings." Isa. 60:16.
7. They should pledge themselves to do this by solemn oath, vow and covenant. "Vow to the Lord, thy God and pay." So did Israel vow to Messiah, and many a time with joy unspeakable and full of glory, did they renew their pledge. Thus did our fathers vow, when they entered into the national covenant of Scotland , and when they engaged themselves, with holy solemnity, to Messiah, the Prince, in the solemn league and covenant of the kingdom , when a great, learned, and reformed empire, animated by the Holy Spirit, did covenant to do homage to him by whom kings reign, and princes decree justice. They obeyed the command, uttered ages before, by the prophet Isaiah, 49:1; "Listen, O isles, to me and hearken ye people from far."
Prince Messiah, then, is appointed to rule as Mediator over the whole of Jehovah’s dominions; he is well qualified for the kingly office; he administers the kingdom in power and righteousness; he makes the kingdom of Providence to subserve the interest of the church; for the good of Zion, the lordship of the nations is subjected to him, and all the nations commanded, by the high and holy authority of the eternal, to acknowledge him, formally, as "Lord of all to the glory of God the Father."
AN EXAMINATION OF THE CONSTITUTION AND GOVERNMENT OF THE UNITED STATES, RELATIVE TO MESSIAH’S CLAIMS.
The interests of personal morality, social order, and Christianity—all that respects the improvement and comfort of our race, in this life; all that prepares for immortal glory, are intimately connected with the form, the principle, and the administration of civil government. One of the great advantages derived from the reading of history, is the instruction received, relative to the moral influence which different forms, and diversified administrations of magistracy, have on the citizens. Until within about half a century, it was usual for writers and the mass of the people to applaud the government under which they lived, as the best in the world. Since the American revolution, the spirit of the age, in the old world, has tended to depreciate the existing forms and administrations of civil policy. This popular sentiment acquires strength every year. It convulses the continent of Europe, and has brought the British empire to the commencement of a concussion, that bids fair soon to shake the whole moral world.
On this side of the Atlantic, the people having established, by their representatives, a federal constitution, have relapsed into the ancient temper of the nations—adulation of the form of government, which they organized. This is self adulation. The political machinery has wrought tolerably well, for nearly fifty years, as far as relates to the mere personal liberty of the whites, the security of property, the increase of wealth, and the encouragement of enterprise.
We may hope that the question is settled, that a civilized and Christian people can institute, and administer by representatives of their own free choice, a government, that secures personal rights. But it is very possible, that a more enlightened age will not think all the eulogies well merited which are now so liberally bestowed on our political institutions. That by the blessing of God, the condition of our country is much better than that of any other nation in Christendom, must be admitted by all who are tolerably acquainted with the condition of the old world.
There may be very great prosperity in the accumulation of property; in the cultivation of intellect, and in all the means of sensual gratification; and yet the morals of the people grow worse. This is demonstrated by the state of the Hebrew commonwealth in the latter part of the reign of Solomon; by the condition of Chaldea, when overrun, and its capital sacked by Cyrus; by the aspect of morals at Rome, in the age of Cicero; and by the prosperity of the Roman empire, during the reign of Theodosius. Their opulence and refinement were carried to the highest pitch, while their morals were debased. Their prosperity was their ruin; because, being vicious, they abused their blessings.
That civil governments may produce their happiest effects, they must be both well constituted, and well administered. The lack of either the one or the other, produces a desecration of public morals which must result in national calamity.—The kingdom of Israel had the very best possible constitution; for the wisdom of Jehovah framed it, and yet, being for sometime badly administered under the influence of Solomon’s strange wives, the young nobility, and of course, the commons became corrupted. This led to the rupture of the commonwealth, soon after the death of Solomon.
The commonwealth of Rome was never so well administered as during the reign of Theodosius, deservedly named the Great and Good. But the constitution was bad—the very worst, perhaps, that ever cursed the world. It was essentially despotic. Theodosius was hardly cold in the grave, when it was crushed nearly into ruins, by the attacks of rude, savage hordes from the north. England is just now, perhaps, well administered by Earl Grey and Lord Brougham. Her wealth and learning fill the whole world with wonder. But the British constitution is essentially vicious. By its theory, the people derive all their rights from the king; and not the king his authority from the people. The vice is radical—the disease deadly. The people cannot secure their own place, but by an appalling revolution, which is on the march with deliberate step and awful majesty. Messiah, the Prince, must be honored—the Church protected, and the rights of the people secured by the constitution; and the government must be administered by men good and true, or national morals degenerate, and the public weal suffers.
In examining the government of the United States, two topics of inquiry merit attention:—
The moral aspect of the constitution: and
The moral character of its administration.
1. The moral aspect of the constitution.—The complexion of the United States Constitution in this respect, strongly resembles that of all the twenty-four state constitutions.
Were that remarkable instrument to be viewed in the mere light of a business transaction, and not as a political sovereignty, perhaps all, and more than all that has been uttered in its praise, might be admitted. But it claims to be a true and proper civil magistracy. Some, indeed, have affected to regard it merely in the light of a business-association—a partnership in trade, a mere treaty. The object of some, who, (honestly, perhaps,) say they view it in that light—is nullification—the elevation of the state sovereignties, over the general government. The object of others is, to flatter the occupants of power, by apologizing in this way for the dishonor done Israel’s God, by refusing to recognize his claims on this land. The former are misguided politicians, the latter culpable ecclesiastics. "And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth." Rev. 12:4. "Let him that readeth understand."
That this constitution claims to found a true and proper political sovereignty, appears from the following reasons:
1. The Convention was called and convened for the express purpose of forming a national government, instead of the old confederacy. Under the old Articles of Confederation, Congress could legislate for states only, and not for individual persons. In that respect it resembled the confederation of the Seven United Provinces [The Netherlands], and that of the Swiss cantons.—This had been found inadequate. The act of Congress, recommending the call of the convention, has these words:—"Whereas experience hath evinced, that there are defects in the present confederation; as a mean to remedy which, several of the states, and particularly the state of New York, by express instructions to their delegates in Congress, have suggested a convention for the purposes expressed in the following resolution; and such convention appearing to be the most probable means of establishing in these states, a firm national government."
"Resolved, That in the opinion of Congress, it is expedient that a convention of delegates be held—for the express purpose of revising the articles of confederation—and reporting such alterations and provisions therein, as shall, when agreed to in Congress, and confirmed by the several states, render the federal constitution adequate to the exigencies of government, and the preservation of the union." From all this, Mr. Madison argues, Federalist, No. XL, p. 211, that the convention assembled in order "to form a national government."
2. The three great departments of a true and proper government enter into the organization of the federal power—the legislative, the judiciary and the executive.
3. By the Constitution, the people and the States by their ratification as States, transferred to the federal magistracy, all true and distinctive attributes of nationality. "No state shall enter into any treaty—coin money," &c. "No state shall, without consent of Congress, lay any imports," &c. U.S. Con., Art. I, sec. VIII, X. Congress is vested with power to lay taxes, borrow and coin money, regulate commerce with foreign nations, establish a uniform rule of naturalization, secure copyrights, punish piracies and felonies, make war, raise armies, maintain a navy, and exercise exclusive legislation over such domains as are properly national. They have the power of life and death, which cannot be claimed without governmental authority.
4. Hence the people, and all writers speak of the United States as the nation. No one ever says the nation of Pennsylvania—the nation of New York, &c.
5. All the best standard writers treat of it as a real government. Madison, Hamilton, and Jay, wrote The Federalist, to convince the people, that the convention were justifiable in framing, and that the condition of the commonwealth require what the convention had framed—"a firm national government." Chancellor Kent, in his elaborate commentaries, affirms that the United States government "is endowed with all the principal attributes of a true and proper political sovereignty."
Now, if it is true, that civil governments are bound to acknowledge "the Lord and his Christ," and the United States have not done so, it will not avail to set up the defence that the federal constitution is a mere treaty. This apology was, indeed, made some years ago, by a writer in Pennsylvania, in reply to a very learned essay entitled "The Sons of Oil," by the Rev. Dr. [Samuel B.] Wylie, professor of languages in the Pennsylvania University. He might as well have plead, that because the twelve tribes were confederated together under one government, they were, on that account, not bound, as a confederated nation, to acknowledge Him that dwelt between the cherubim. The government of this nation may be and shall be tested, in relation to its moral attributes, by the claims of Prince Messiah upon the political sovereignty, whatever unfaithful panders of the rulers of the darkness of this world, may say to the contrary. The claims of the Lord of all, cannot be set aside by subtle distinctions of state rights, and national jurisdiction. The United States are in the dominion of the King of kings, and they ought to have politically honored Him, whom they have nationally dishonored both in theory and in practice. These topics are worthy of the most sober investigation; that if great national sins have been committed, we may know them, acknowledge them, in deep humiliation before God—pray for their pardon through the covenant mercies of the God of Israel, and reform them, that wrath come not upon us to the uttermost.
Profane men, and those that are "at ease in Zion," will no doubt call what is about to be uttered, "fault finding," by way of reproach, as they speak of the reproofs by one of the most distinguished of the Lord’s ministers: "Oh! it is a Jeremiad." The only reply which sneers like this deserve, is:—"Mock not lest thy bands be made strong," and "he that being often reproved, hardeneth his neck, shall be suddenly destroyed, and that without remedy." The nation has sinned.
I. In the theory of the government.
1. Atheists, Deists, Jews, Pagans, and profane men, of the most abandoned manners, are as eligible to office by the United States Constitution, as men fearing God and hating covetousness. Its words are:—"No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States." U.S. Con., Art. VI, sec. III. God’s law is:—"Elect able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness." Ex. 18:21. "He that ruleth over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God." 2 Sam. 23:3. This command of Jehovah prescribes, at least, Three Religious Tests, in these words.
1. "Fearers of God"—those who worship him. How shall we know that any man fears God, unless he makes a profession of his faith in Christ?
2. "Men of truth"—such as are sound in the faith, not mere professors of religion—for the Pagan professes to fear God; but one who receives the true gospel of God.
3. "Hating covetousness"—"just men" in their dealings—men who perform the duties enjoined in the second table of the law—not profane swearers, Sabbath breakers, card players, and libertines. This is common sense too. What can be more absurd than to set over a nation as rulers, men who hate, men of lies, and lovers of covetousness. The Constitution, in effect, says to Prince Messiah, your command is, that your friends shall be entrusted with power; but it shall not be done. Your enemies are as competent to bear rule, as your friends.
2. There is no recognition of the law of God, in the instrument which gives the nation its national organization. The law of God is not named, and there is not any allusion to such a law, so far as the writer has perceived, except in two instances. The one is in these words:—"I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States." Art. II. Sec. I., Specification VIII. Here there is an allusion to the Third Commandment or at least to the declaration, "An oath for confirmation is an end of all strife." [Heb. 6:16.] It is pleasant to a lover of the Lord's law to find even this remote allusion. But was it intended to honor the law of the Lord, as recorded in the Holy Scriptures? However agreeable to the benevolent heart to think so, we are constrained to think not. The affirmation will pass for the oath. Many infidels swear oaths in courts, without intending to admit the truth of the Scriptures, or to honor Messiah. Infidels were known at the time when the Constitution was framed, to swear oaths of office, and to swear as witnesses. Heathens are known to have sworn very solemnly by Jove, Hercules, &c. The mere swearing is not at all distinctive of Paganism, Mahometanism, or of Christianity.
The other instance occurs, Art. I, Sec. VII, specification II. "If any bill shall not be returned by the President within ten days (Sundays excepted) after it shall have been presented," &c. This implies that governmental business may be omitted on the Sabbath. The Constitution would not compel the President to spend the Sabbath in examining bills. He may, if he chooses, have that day for devotion. As a matter of fact, such was the influence of Christianity in the nation, that congressional, judiciary, and executive proceedings were suspended on the Lord’s day. The Constitution did not enjoin its violation by the executive. But its binding force is not affirmed even by fair implication. The suspension of the legislative business, the closing of the federal courts, and the President’s not issuing proclamations, on the first day of the week, with the hiring of a chaplain by Congress, do not altogether amount to a recognition of the law of God, much less of the Christian religion. Thousands of professed deists, men who regard the Bible as a fabrication of priestcraft, do close their shops and offices on the Sabbath, hire preachers, and go to church on that holy day, without at all intending to pledge themselves to Christianity. The mention of Sunday in this connection, is a mere accommodation to popular sentiment.
It is indeed, astonishing, that in a Christian commonwealth, where the great majority of the citizens were attached to some Protestant church, a constitution of government could have been framed, with only two very remote and indirect allusions merely to the law and Bible of God. The fact demonstrates, how very careful the framers were to avoid every word, that might be construed into a declaration of respect to the statutes of Jehovah.
That the national functionaries have so understood it all along, appears from the reports made by Col. Johnston, both in the Senate and in the House of Representatives; and from the fact that Congress made the doctrine of the reports, national principles; for they, on the reasons assigned, refused to stop the mail. The essence of both these reports is, that the Law of God does not bind the government of the United States, and that to admit the obligation of the statutes of Jehovah, would be (horresco referens) a monstrous evil. Truly, Messiah is a merciful Prince.
3. The "King of Kings and Lord of lords" is not acknowledged by the remotest allusion, to the claims of his holy government. Hence the nation says:—"We will not have this man to reign over us." [Lk. 19:14.] A fundamental theory, or a maxim on which the convention proceeded, rendered such an acknowledgment impossible. The maxim is this—"all men, whatever may be their religious or irreligious tenets, have an equal right to participate in the civil privileges of the commonwealth." There were infidels in the convention—at present, it is sufficient to mention Dr. Franklin and Mr. Madison. Had there been any act of homage to Messiah, Lord of all, it would have excluded every infidel, Jew and Pagan, from all those offices, to which an oath to the constitution was annexed.
To have honored Christ, would have introduced a religious test. The utter exclusion of any moral qualifications or test, rendered it impossible to acknowledge either Messiah the King, or the Christian religion, without self-contradiction. As the right to reign and the duty of obedience are correlates, it is certainly true, since Messiah is the Prince of the kings of the earth, that the national constitution is sinful in refusing this allegiance.
However infidels may "rage, and imagine a vain thing," they that love the Saviour of sinners, and wish to honor the Son of God who died to save them, will mourn over the dishonor which has been done to their Lord and King, by this nation.
4. The constitution positively declares that nothing shall be done by the government for the advancement of the Christian religion. "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion." Amendments, Art. I. The words are not Congress shall not establish any religion; but "no law respecting the establishment of religion." Whatever has any respect to religion, or tends to give it stability, is prohibited by this article. Any act of homage to Almighty God is religion. Any law that would encourage or countenance act of homage to Jehovah, would tend to the establishment of religion. Here, then, is an institution which some men say is an ordinance of God, but which does solemnly disclaim the doctrine of being ordained by him; and which formally proclaims that it will not do any thing to promote the glory of his holy name. What should we say of the ambassador of a nation who would publicly announce his intention to do no act for promoting the honor of those whom he represents? We have the promise of our God, that in New Testament times it shall be otherwise: "Kings shall be thy nursing fathers, and their Queens their nursing mothers; they shall bow down to thee, with their face toward the earth, and lick up the dust of thy feet." On the theory of the United States Constitution, this cannot take place.
Why treat thus all religion? Why disfranchise, by a solemn act the church of the living God? Is the benevolent, pure, holy, heaven born religion of Emmanuel, hostile to the happiness of the republic? Shall commerce, agriculture, the arts, literature—all the other lawful pursuits, be countenanced, fostered, protected, and established on as permanent a basis, as possible and the true religion be put under the ban of the empire? But they say, let religion alone. Do they, however, adopt the laissez nous faire, in relation to manufactures and trade? No. We cherish all, but respecting the advancement of religion, Congress shall never do any thing. When the child is born, were the father and mother to say, laissez l'infant faire—leave the babe to itself—would that lie to act as a nursing father and mother? Surely no. There must be a far different kind of constitution among the nations, when the promise is fulfilled, that "Kings shall be nursing fathers." God Almighty says, in the text quoted above, that civil rulers shall nurse the church—the Constitution says they shall not. Which is right? "Ah! sinful nation, laden with iniquity." God spares thee for the sake of his redeemed, that his moral subjects on earth may be, by the gospel of his Son, reclaimed from sin and rebellion—that on the earth, through his own holy religion, he may expatiate the glories of redemption. The Constitution says religion shall be discountenanced by the Congress of the United States.
5. There is no acknowledgment of Almighty God, nor any, even the most remote, token of national subjection to Jehovah, the Creator. It is believed, that there never existed, previous to this constitution, any national deed like this, since the creation of the world. A nation having no God! In vain shall we search the annals of pagan Greece and Rome, of modern Asia, Africa, pagan America, and the isles of the sea—they have all worshipped some God. The United States have none. But here let us pause over this astounding fact. Was it a mere omission? Did the convention that framed the constitution forget to name the living God? Was this an omission in some moment of national frenzy, when the nation forgot God? That, indeed, were a great sin. God says, "the nations that forget God, shall be turned into hell." [Ps. 9:17.] It was not, however, a thoughtless act, an undesigned omission. It was a deliberate deed, whereby God was rejected; and in the true atheistical spirit of the whole instrument, and of course, done with intent to declare national independence of the Lord of hosts. We have seen that the Convention was convened to correct what was thought to be improper in the old Articles of Confederation. These Articles were ratified on July 9th, 1778. The enacting clause has these words:—"And whereas, it hath pleased the great Governor of the world, to incline the hearts of the legislatures, we respectively represent in Congress, to approve of the said articles of confederation know ye, that we entirely ratify," &c. Here the formal reason of the ratification is, that the great Governor of the world inclined the hearts of the state legislatures to adopt the instrument. This did acknowledge Jehovah. Deists could unite, and Deists did unite in this deed; for there was no recognition of Messiah. Among the Deists, who subscribed these articles, we find Thomas McKean and Doct. Franklin. It was a radical defect in that deed, that the Lord Jesus was not recognized as Sovereign of the United States. It was a perilous period of our history, and perhaps even Deists had some faint knowledge of the nation's need of the divine aid.
When, on the 17th of December, 1787, nine years, three months and eight days after the ratification of the old Articles, the present United States Constitution was adopted; there is no allusion to "the Great Governor of the Universe." Can any man believe, that the name of the Lord God was thus expunged, without agreement by learned men, who examined every thing? No. But we have evidence that God was formally and solemnly rejected. "Franklin," it is said, by men who had an opportunity of knowing, "proposed in the convention, the introduction, into the Constitution, of an article professing submission to the Lord, and he was overruled." (Sermons on the Late War, by the Rev. Dr. [Alexander] McLeod, of New York, pp. 56,57. See the Manuscript Minutes of the Convention.) Doct. Franklin was notoriously a Deist, and those who overruled his motion, must have been worse than Deists—even Atheists. Can any man doubt that they were "without God," or Atheists? Who, of them all, gave any decisive evidence of their being Christians, except William Few? I do not speak certainly. But a biography of the members of that convention, as to their fearing God, would not, it is believed, add much to the moral honor of our country.
When the country was plainly in peril, and the arm of Jehovah perceived to be necessary for our defence, then the God of creation was acknowledged. But when he had conducted our armies to victory, and set our country free from the oppression of foreign despotism—then with a blackness of ingratitude, and an atheistical impiety, his name was erased from the fundamental law of the empire. There was still another aggravation of this national sin. After, as is affirmed, I think, on good authority, the Convention had been some days in session, and was rent by the most violent passions, with little, perhaps no prospect of success in forming a constitution, it was proposed by Franklin, and resolved to open the sessions by prayer to God. The business, from the adoption of that measure, proceeded with some degree of harmony. After such a demonstration of the presence and mercy of the Lord, was it not enough, (as Doct. [John Mitchell] Mason, of New York, said in another case,) "to make the Devil blush," that they proceeded deliberately to blot his name from the constitution?
Of the convention, in this and not a few other transactions, it may be said, in Scripture style, "They did not that which was right in the sight of the Lord."
6. Millions of men are held in bondage, under the most solemn sanction of the United States Constitution. Slaves had been introduced into the colony of Virginia, by a Dutch slave trader, many years before the commencement of the Revolution. The planters of the southern colonies, had formed the habit of executing their labor by slaves. Many, indeed a great majority of the people of the northern and middle states, were always adverse to Negro slavery. The members of the convention from the north were opposed, generally, to the slave trade. Yet some of the Boston and Rhode Island merchants had embarked a large capital in this traffic. The members from the south refused to accede to the formation of a permanent bond of union, unless their right both to hold slaves and to import them, was guaranteed by the constitution. Perhaps no topic excited in the convention a deeper interest than this one. Notwithstanding all that had been taught in the Declaration of Independence, all the treasure that had been expended, and all the blood that had been shed in the cause of freedom, yet the convention did guarantee the right of importing slaves, from the time of the adoption of the constitution until the 1st of January, 1808—a period of twenty years, three months, and thirteen days. I am thus particular, for every one of these days and even the hours must be accounted for to Messiah the Prince, "who came to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound."
The constitution says:—"The migration, or importation of such persons as any of the states now existing shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by Congress prior to the year 1808." Art. I, Sec. IV, Specification I. The Convention blushed to name the Negro slaves and the slave trade, and used a circumlocution, as if a figure of speech would conceal that iniquity for which conscience was chiding them, when the article was penned and ratified. It will not avail to say, that the deed was merely passing it by. It was much more. The slave ships, with cargoes of African slaves, were as much under the protection of the American stars and stripes, as the flannel of Britain, or the bar iron of Sweden. It was a national slave trade.
As this species of property was acquired, under the sanction of the constitution, so it is retained under a solemn national guaranty. The United States are the slave holders, as well as the several states, and the individual masters. "Direct taxes," says the constitution, "shall be apportioned among the several states, according to their respective numbers, which shall be determined, by adding to the whole number of free persons, three-fifths of all other persons." U. S. Con. Art. 1. Sec. II. Specification II. These "other persons" are slaves, an abominable term, which they were as before ashamed to employ, while they sanctioned the evil. These slaves are then taxable property, by the letter and spirit of the constitution. So the article is expounded by Federalist, written by Messrs. Hamilton, Jay, and Madison, and by all writers on the national jurisprudence, who are quoted as the best authority. "The federal constitution, therefore decides, with great propriety, on the case of our slaves, when it views them in the mixed character of persons and property." Imported under the protection of the American flag, and secured to their owners by the plighted faith of the nation, as property, they are now held by the nation, as a part of its wealth; "when," to use the words of Mr. Jay in The Federalist, "a tariff of contribution is to be adjusted." Fed. No. LV, p. 296.
This doctrine is more distinctly laid down in other parts of the Constitution. "The United States shall protect each of them (the states) against domestic violence." Art. IV, Sec. IV. "Domestic violence" is a phrase, which, in this connection can neither be misunderstood, nor explained away. Since the slaves are taxed as the property of the nation, the constitution pledges the power of the U. States to sustain the master against any violent measures that the slave may employ to recover his freedom.
Again, "No person held to service or labor, in one state, under the laws thereof; escaping into another, shall, in consequence of any law or regulation therein, be discharged from such service or labor, but shall be delivered up on claim of the party to whom such service or labor may be due." U. S. Con., Art. I., Sec. IV. If the slave escapes from the state where he is enslaved, to another, where there are no slaves; that other is bound by the Constitution to deliver him up to the master who claims him.
Slavery indeed, is made one of the pillars of the government. "Representatives shall be apportioned among the several states, according to their respective numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole number of free persons, three-fifths of all other persons." Hence, the holding of Africans in bondage, is made one of the pillars, on which the fabric of American freedom is made to rest; thus committing the twofold evil of making slavery essential to the constitution, and of violating the holy and benign doctrine of representation, which is the palladium of religious and civil liberty.
That slave property is guaranteed by the constitution, has been solemnly decided by the representatives of the nation, in many legislative acts. After protracted argument, in Congress, on the question of admitting Missouri, with her slave holding constitution, into the Union, it was decided in favor of her admission, on the ground that slaves are held under constitutional guaranty.
Congress has passed many laws, on the subject of slavery. By one act, the United States courts are vested with jurisdiction, in questions arising under the slave trade. By another, the mode is prescribed in which runaway-slaves shall be reclaimed and restored to their masters in the non-slave-holding states. By the several acts of Congress, fixing the ratio for representation, the doctrine and the practice of slavery are recognized (See Gorden’s and Brown’s Digests of the laws of the United States.). Many laws passed for the government of Louisiana, Alabama, and Mississippi, before they became states; all of the Floridas, and District of Columbia, now under territorial regime, respect slaves.
In all the territories, the United States government is the slave-holder; for the political sovereignty of the territory, is vested in no intermediate authority. All the slave laws of the District of Columbia are enacted by the federal legislature. No jurist in the nation has ever presumed to maintain, however adverse many of them are to slavery, that these legislative acts of Congress are unconstitutional.
In addition to all this mass of evidence, it may be added, that numerous cases have been, and are every year decided in the courts, in applying these acts; and every judge holds himself bound, by his oath of office, to apply the laws against the African slave, whenever any question arises, on the right of tenure between him and his master.
The late insurrection of the slaves in North Carolina and Virginia, has been quelled by the United States troops, ordered out by the President, as executor of the laws of the United States. So then, we have; 1st, the convention that framed the Constitution, embodying slavery in several parts of the fundamental law of the commonwealth. 2. The federal legislature enacting laws, under the provisions of the constitution. 3. The judiciary applying the law in adjudications of slave questions. 4. The chief executive magistrate enforcing slavery by the army of the United States.
Slavery is interwoven with the whole web and texture of the federal government. All this is in direct opposition to the 4th amendment to the constitution, which provides, that:—
"No person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law." By what "due process of law" has the African been deprived of his liberty? Was it a "due process of law" to make war on the unoffending tribes of Africa, waste and destroy whole populous nations, and seize, bind in chains, and sell to the southern planters, a shipload of MEN? In 1830, there were in the United States 2,010,575 Africans, deprived of their liberty, by no other process of law, than that of wasting and destroying countries; and of binding and selling the unoffending children of poverty.
The United States legislature has passed sentence on their own doings. By a law passed since 1808, the slave trade is declared to be piracy.
In the whole annals of legislation, where shall we find any thing analogous to this? After prosecuting this trade nationally, for twenty years, three months, and thirteen days, Congress declares the doings of slave traders piracy; though they had traded under the protection of the national flag. What are we to infer, respecting him who holds property which he acknowledges to have been acquired by piracy? But there has been no national acknowledgment of the sin against God and man—no asking of pardon from God—no restitution. It is not wonderful that the United States Senator from Rhode Island, who had amassed a large estate by trading in slaves, always voted in the negative on the passage of the piracy bill through the Senate. We may well believe, that he saw before his mind’s eye, the pirate’s gibbet.
On the subject of the evil thus sanctioned by the highest human authority in this nation, Mr. Jefferson, in his Notes on Virginia, pp. 240-1, makes the following, among other very impressive observations:—"The whole commerce, between master and slave, is a perpetual exercise of the most boisterous passions, the most unremitting despotism on the one part, and degrading submission on the other."—"The man must be a prodigy who can retain his manners and morals, undepraved by such circumstances."—"Can the liberties of a nation be thought secure, when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are the gift of God?"—"That they are to be violated but with his wrath?" The following sentiment, though a thousand times quoted, will bear to be many times yet repeated:—"Indeed, I tremble for my country, when I reflect that God is just; and that his justice cannot sleep forever; that considering numbers, nature and natural means only, a revolution of the wheel of fortune, an exchange of situation is among probable events: that it may become probable by supernatural interference. The Almighty has no attribute which can take part with us in such a contest."—"With what execration should the statesman be loaded, who permitting one half the citizens thus to trample on the rights of the other, transforms those into despots, and these into enemies, destroys the morals of the one part, and the amor patriae of the other?" Twelve states do all this now, solemnly, deliberately, and under the forms of law. The convention that framed the National Constitution have done this. The United States Congress, Senate, and Executive, have been doing this, for more than forty-four years. They have thus dishonored Messiah the Prince, who is the friend of liberty; for he came to "proclaim Liberty to the captive, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound."
These moral evils embodied in the doctrines of the fundamental law of the empire, have produced practical results, over which every true disciple of Christ, and Christian patriot, will mourn.
1st. Ungodly men have occupied, and do now occupy, many of the official stations, in the government. The clause of the Constitution, barring all moral qualifications, has not been a dead letter. There have been seven Presidents of the United States—and of each of them it may be said, as Jehovah says of the kings of Israel, after the revolt of the ten tribes, "He did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord."
Washington was raised up, in the providence of God, like Cyrus of Persia, and qualified for great achievements.—He was an able captain, and an instrument of much temporal good, as a statesman. Few, if any, prominent men, in any nation, have been endowed by the common gifts of the Spirit, with more ennobling qualities than the first President of this nation. His fame fills the civilized world. It is to the honor of the Protestant Religion, that this country produced such a man. What was Bolivar compared with Washington? All this praise may be awarded to one who, like the amiable young man in the gospel, "went away from Jesus sorrowful, because he had great possessions."
There is no satisfactory evidence that Washington was a professor of the Christian religion, or even a speculative believer in its divinity, before he retired from public life. In no state paper, in no private letter, in no conversation, is he known to have declared himself a believer in the Holy Scriptures, as the word of God. General eulogy, by a Weems, or a Ramsey, will not satisfy an enlightened enquirer. The faith of the real believer in the word of God, is a principle so powerfully operative, that you cannot conceal "its light under a bushel." "It works by love." "Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaketh." Is it probable that he was a true believer in Jesus Christ and his Bible, when in times so trying, and in a Christian nation, he wrote thousands of letters, and yet never uttered a word, from which it can be fairly inferred that he was a believer? Who ever questioned whether Theodosius or Charlemagne believed the Bible? "He that is not against us is for us." And it is as true, that he who is not for us, is against us.
Washington did pray, it is said, in secret, on his knees, during the battle of Brandywine. That may be true, and yet, like Thomas Paine, who is known to have prayed, he may have been an unbeliever. Is it probable that he would have attended balls, theatres; and the card table, had he been a disciple of Christ? Rousseau, an avowed infidel, has said more in honor of Christ, than is known to have been uttered by Washington. He was a slave holder, which was doing "evil in the sight of the Lord." His Sabbaths were not spent as the "fearers of the Lord" enjoy that holy day. His death, as recorded by Dr. Ramsey, is much more like a Heathen Philosopher’s, than like that of a Saint of God.
He was President of the convention, that voted the name of the living God out of the Constitution. His influence was great among the members of that body. Had he taken part with Dr. Franklin, in the attempt to have an acknowledgment of God inserted in the Constitution, they could hardly have failed of success. The conviction forces itself upon us, that that act of national impiety, was done with the approbation of Washington. It is to his everlasting dishonor, that he is not known to have opposed that insult offered to the Lord God, who had made him so great and successful a captain.
While President, in Philadelphia, his habit was to arise and leave the church, when the Sacrament of the Supper was dispensed. After the Rev. Dr. Abercrombie had preached a faithful sermon against the evil example thus set by the President of the United States; Gen. Washington remarked, that he would not set such an example for the future; and from that time, he did not attend church on the Sabbath, in which the Lord’s Supper was dispensed.
When the several classes of citizens, were addressing Washington, on his retirement from office, the clergy, who doubted his Christianity, resolved to frame an address, so that he could not evade, in his reply, an expression of his faith, if he were really a believer. He did, however, evade it, and the impression left on the mind of one of the clergy, at least, was that he was a Deist.
Mr. Jefferson, affirms that Washington was a Deist. To be ashamed of Christ, which no one can reasonably doubt he was, is infidel. He did not set an example of godliness, before the nation, over which in the Providence of God, he was made President.
The Cabinet which Gen. Washington chose, indicates that he was not a fearer of the Lord. Mr. Hamilton, his Secretary of the Treasury, was an unchaste man, and died by a duel. Mr. Jefferson, his Secretary of State, was an avowed infidel, who mocked at every thing sacred. You know men by their society. Among the members of the first Cabinet of the Federal Executive, vital godliness would have been mocked at as fanaticism. Which of the heads of departments prayed in his family daily? Which of them sanctified the Lord’s day, by abstaining from worldly conversation, company, and business? The practical piety of the Bible, as exhibited in [Thomas] Boston’s Fourfold State, [Jonathan] Edwards on [Religious] Affections, and [Alexander] McLeod on True Godliness, had she been introduced to the inmates of Washington’s Palace, would have been derided as a fanatic.
Washington was succeeded by Mr. John Adams, a lawyer of some distinction, who wrote and published an elaborate work on the Federal Constitution. He is the only President of the United States who has, in a public document, so far as the writer recollects, acknowledged Jesus Christ. In his proclamation of a fast, he invites the nation to seek the favor of heaven, "through the Redeemer."
He sealed his Unitarianism, at the communion table of Dr. Joseph Priestly, the Socinian, in Philadelphia, while he was Secretary of State. He had been a constant hearer and admirer of Priestly, for some time before he ratified, at his Sacrament, the rejection of Messiah’s Godhead.
Mr. Jefferson, the successor of Mr. Adams, was an avowed infidel, and notoriously addicted to immorality. To the common decency of Washington’s or Adams’ moral deportment, he had no pretensions. His Notes on Virginia contain very satisfactory evidence, that the author, when he composed that work, was an enemy to revealed religion, and a virulent foe to the Church of God. Had the people of the United States known the immorality of his private life, and the scorn with which he treated the religion of Jesus; it is surely impossible that he could have been elected to the first office in their gift.
Mr. Jefferson’s successor, Mr. Madison, was educated by godly parents, with a view to the Ministry of reconciliation. He commenced the study of Theology, under the care of Dr. Witherspoon, President of Princeton College, where he attended a prayer meeting of the pious youth of that Seminary, who were preparing for the Holy Ministry.
When he returned from Princeton to his fathers house in Virginia, Mr. Jefferson was a young village lawyer, who had attracted the notice of the neighborhood, by his regular business habits, in collecting debts, drawing indentures, &c.
Madison, to the grief of his parents, abandoned the study of Theology, and entered the office of the infidel and libertine Jefferson, as a student of law. Though Mr. Madison has pledged himself neither in public nor private, to the belief of Christianity, yet he is not known to have employed his influence, like Jefferson, in attempts to abolish the Christian Faith. The value of a religious education is strikingly illustrated the private character of James Madison. Jefferson probably made him a deist, and yet his moral deportment, as it regards the second table of the law, has been respectable. All the influence of the infidel creed, and the profligacy of morals about court, have not been of sufficient force to demolish utterly the fabric of a religious education. For the honor of the country, we may hope that he will not contrive to die on the 4th of July.
Mr. Monroe lived and died like a second rate Athenian Philosopher.
Mr. John Q. Adams and Gen. Jackson are yet in public life. Compare their characters with those of Hezekiah and Josiah, "fearers of the Lord" who reigned over Israel, and there will be little difficulty in estimating the amount of holiness which they practice in the fear of the Lord. No Federal Cabinet, since the first formed, has given any more evidence of the fear of the Lord, than did that of Washington.
Some state governors have been professors of the Christian religion. But in too many instances, the state Cabinet has resembled, in irreligion, that of the Federal Government.
There have been seven governors of Pennsylvania, and the same number of New York. Their characters have been generally analogous to those of the Presidents. One in Pennsylvania, and two in New York, are believed to have been possessors of religion. The heads of departments in the federal government, have been with very few exceptions, destitute of all pretensions to the character of fearers of the Lord. In the session of Congress 1829-30, no more than seven out of three hundred and nine members of Congress could be prevailed on to meet and pray together. The Patron of this city [Albany, NY], whose character as an exemplary Christian is well known, informs the writer of these pages, that when he was in Congress the number of praying members was greater; so that there is an increasing degeneracy.
So unusual is practical religion among public men, that to many it would seem ridiculous, for a Governor to pray in his family evening and morning. Can anything have a more malign influence on the cause of vital godliness than that statesmen, and officers of the Army and Navy, who are avowedly irreligious, and even profane swearers, card players, Sabbath breakers and libertines are the constant themes of eulogy? The collision of the factions, indeed, begins to render public men objects of distrust. If we believe one half of what the public journals assert, respecting the baseness of the leading politicians—if but a little of all that is uttered by such men as Berrien, Branch, Ingham, &c. respecting their compeers is true, there is a most scandalous degradation of moral principle among those who should be emphatically "the fearers of the Lord"—the exemplars of religion, and the conservators of social virtue. Every patriot, who knows how low the state of morals is at the seat of the general government, blushes for his country; while the genuine disciple of Christ, "sighs and cries for all the abominations that be done," (Ezek. 9:4) in the City of Washington, and at the capitals of the several states.
How rare are such statesmen as the exemplary Governor Vroom of New Jersey! the late Governor Crafts, and the present Governor Palmer of Vermont! Such Statesmen shine as bright lights amidst the surrounding darkness. They are not ashamed in the private walks of life, nor in public documents, to acknowledge themselves the disciples of Christ Jesus and the subjects of Messiah the Prince.
2. The Unitarian heresy through the influence of Mr. Adams, has prevailed extensively in New England; and Deism in the southern states, through that of Mr. Jefferson.
When Mr. Adams was elected to the Presidency, there was not one of the Congregational ministers of the New England states known to be a Unitarian. By the connexion of Mr. Adams with Dr. Priestly, the books of Arians and Socinians, were placed in the University of Boston. That the President patronized these heresies, was enough to recommend them to multitudes of thoughtless young men. Harvard University in Boston, with very ample revenues, supports more than twenty professors, who are all Unitarian. It has the command of a printing press, which diffuses Unitarian literature over the whole nation. The counters of the bookstores in Boston groan with heretical publications. The majority of the general court, or legislature of the state of Massachusetts, is believed to have been for several years Unitarian. The officiating chaplains have been Unitarian. We have no statistics of the Unitarian clergy; for they are connected with the Congregational convention of the State of Massachusetts; and found in the associations of the New England states; but we cannot estimate too high their number by setting it down at two hundred.—They are rapidly increasing.
It is no fancy, no idle imagination, to trace this great declension of the Puritan churches of Boston and its vicinity, to the malign influence of a Socinian President. Jeroboam set up calves at Dan and Bethel, and his idolatry continued, until the dispersion of the ten tribes. The New England heretics "have not departed From the sin of Jeroboam, the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin."
Deism prevailed long, and still prevails in the southern states. As the luxuriant opulence of Boston, derived from her trade with the Indies, prepared her for the reception of Unitarianism; so the demoralizing influence of slavery in the south, paved the way for the spread of Deism from the populace by Mr. Jefferson.
His Notes on Virginia, and the conversations, which a President of his talents and popularity held with his special friends, could not fail to corrupt the southern people. His gross blasphemies which he prepared for posthumous publication, and which his grandson, Mr. Randolph, has published in his life, were retailed from year to year, during his whole life, after his return from France. The power and reputation of the President operated as a premium for embracing infidelity.
It is true that of late years the name of Unitarianism, has been worn as a mask by the infidels of the south. But Deism lives and flourishes under the shade of Jefferson’s name.
3. Other heresies and errors increase in all parts of the nation, producing violent strifes and fierce passions, even in the bosoms of the several denominations of Christians. Those who hold the ancient and pure truths of the gospel, and desire to apply them faithfully as their fathers have done, are reproached as bigots, by those who have adopted more convenient creeds, for the purpose of flattering the depravity of human nature, and of paying court to the ungodly great.
4. The morals of the citizens are becoming more and more corrupt. Boston is nearly as immoral as ancient Tyre was. How are the mighty fallen! The writer of these pages, in the year 1815, in traveling from Albany to Boston, and from Boston to New-Haven, does not recollect to have seen one person in a state of intoxication, nor to have heard more than two or three profane expressions.
In 1821, only six years afterwards, making a tour through New England, from Hartford to Northampton, thence to Boston, and through Rhode Island and Connecticut, he believes that he heard profane swearing, and saw indications of intemperance at every public house, where he called.
The Sabbath is very grossly and scandalously violated in all parts of the United States. It is true, the federal and state legislatures, and the courts of justice, do yet adjourn, on the Lord’s holy day. But how do the officers of the government spend their Sabbaths? Which of them reads the Holy Scriptures, "spending the whole time in the public and private exercises of religion?" [Westminster Confession of Faith, XXI, 8]. The transportation of the mails, the opening of the post-offices, and the diffusion of political and other secular intelligence, profane the Sabbath, and corrupt the public mind. The bustle of steamboats and canal navigation, and traveling by stages and railroad cars, have nearly divested the Lord’s day of the appearance of holiness. Few, very few, hesitate to travel by steamboats and canal packets on Sabbath. Not a few professors of religion, and—O shame!—some ministers of the gospel, with shameless front, travel on the Lord’s day for mere secular objects. But we must not wonder, however much we regret, that those professing Christians who flatter vile men high in places, will copy their example in trampling under foot the holy day, which has been consecrated by the authority of God to religion. During less than fifty years that this government has been in operation, the sin of drunkenness has prevailed and increased, to an extent that has filled with alarm all good men.
To arrest these and other evils, great efforts are made by the friends of Christian morality. Much has been done to instruct the public in relation to the claims of the Sabbath, and other institutions of heaven, upon all classes of the citizens. They have not, however, done much more than to stay a little the progress of irreligion.
5. To support all the immoralities embodied in the United States, and other Constitutions, those who enter on nearly all civil offices, and the Professors in many literary institutions, in Pennsylvania, particularly, take solemn oaths. Where is the man, who believing as perhaps nearly all the citizens of the northern states do, Negro slavery to be a moral evil, would lift up his hand and swear to recognize, and support, and aid men in the commission of this sin? If the nation is chargeable with guilt in this matter, the sin surely rests on all who bind themselves by oaths to support those Constitutions, in which the evil is embodied. The oath comprehends the evil, as well as the good in the instrument.—The moral evils entering into the principles of the fundamental law of the commonwealth, ramify through nearly all the political transactions of the nation.—Thousands commit this sin without a moments reflection. Some, indeed, do reflect, and say, there are immoralities in the Constitution, but it makes provision for its own amendment; therefore, I swear to the evils, intending to procure their reform. But what is this? The thing sworn to is a sin. May anyone swear to support sin for one moment? This is doing "evil that good may come,"—"whose damnation," says God, "is just." Rom. 3:8. Let all the fearers of the Lord, all who love to honor the Lord Jehovah and his holy law—all who honor and adore Prince Messiah, reflect on the fearful fact, that nearly all the men who enter on the discharge of their official functions, are qualified for those public offices, by swearing an oath that involves what is contrary to the law of God, the rights of man, and the honor and glory of Him who is King of kings and Lord of lords.
The extent of this evil is not a little changed by the consideration that the people who elect them to office choose them as their representatives, to swear in the name of their constituents, these immoral oaths. It is a maxim of law, "quod facit per alium, facit per se." He that does any act by his delegate, is accountable for the act as his own. The spectacle, then, is presented of a whole nation, at their annual election, choosing men to swear as their representatives, to an instrument that involves moral evils.
6. The trial by jury is converted into an instrument of oppression. The jury was instituted as the sanctuary of liberty, as a barrier against the encroachments of despotism on the rights and liberties of the subject. How changed in all the slaveholding states from its original institution! The Africans are men. Slaveholders may bluster, the friends of oppression may, and men who seek the suffrages and political adhesion of slaveholders, may banter; but the Africans are men. Before God and the universe, their right to protection by every legal barrier, is as good as that of any British subject, or American citizen ever was. But the trial by jury, instead of being the guardian of human liberty, has become an engine of oppression. It has become the shambles of the south, where human flesh is transferred, and the commercial transactions in the souls and bodies of men, are recorded and ratified under the forms of law. Never was there a more shameful or wanton perversion of a noble institution. Every juror in the slaveholding states, when impaneled, swears to legalize the property in human flesh and blood. He binds himself to make the payment of a bond, in slave property, a legal payment.
7. Idolatries and blasphemous heresies are chartered, and corrupt the citizens under the sanction of public law.
8. Persecution.—It has commonly been said that this nation is not chargeable, as the despotisms of Europe are, with the sin of persecuting the saints of the Most High. Of direct persecution it never was guilty, until within the last year.
Two Missionaries are now imprisoned, at hard labor, among the basest of criminals, in the Penitentiary, at Milledgeville, Georgia. The pretence, indeed, is, as it always has been, that they opposed the government of the country.
They were employed to preach the gospel to the Indians in Georgia. The legislature of that state, desirous to possess themselves of the lands of the Indians, have been making encroachments on their territories, and employing means calculated to force them to sell out their lands and migrate to the westward. The labors of the missionaries, it was thought, tended to increase their attachment to their native soil. The state legislature passed an act, declaring that every white man within the territories of the Indian tribes, should be removed, who would not swear an Oath of Allegiance to the state government of Georgia. In order to terrify the Missionaries, an armed force was sent to the Missionary Station:—the Missionaries were dragged by violence from their field of labor. Mr. Worcester, one of them, was a Postmaster under the United States; on this ground, the judge before whom he was brought, dismissed him. But application was made to the Postmaster General, Mr. Worcester was dismissed from office, and he, with Mr. Butler, was ordered to swear an oath to the Constitution of Georgia, which embodies slavery in several of its provisions. The Missionaries refused to swear the oath, on various grounds, among which one was, that the government of Georgia had no right to demand of them the oath, as they were citizens of the United States. This is certainly safe ground. For their refusal to swear an oath which they plead was against their conscientious sense of duty, they have been condemned to the Penitentiary, for the space of four years, where they are now suffering, among infamous felons. With this act of persecution, both the government of Georgia and the National Government, are chargeable. It is evident that the government of the United States removed the Missionary from office, in order thereby to deliver him over to the Georgia persecutors.
It is somewhat to be feared, that the government will make still further encroachments on the liberties of the church, assailing one denomination after another, under the notion, that all will not unite in defence of one member. In this they will err.
Men cry out, "Church and State," through pretence that they fear persecution. But in the sufferings of the Georgia Missionaries, we have the whole evil—persecution—which men profess to dread, in the senseless clamor about Church and State.
Of the land which has thus dishonored God, Messiah the Prince says, as he did to Israel, by Isaiah the Prophet:—"Hear, O heavens, and hear, O earth; I have nourished and brought up children, but they have rebelled against me. Ah! sinful nation, people laden with iniquity!"
Some one, perhaps, may say, these are evils, but why exhibit them? Is it not more pleasant to dwell on all that is good, in the institutions of the land? Undoubtedly it is; but how shall we be reminded of the necessity of being humbled before God, for these sins—of seeking pardon for national transgressions, through the blood of that Redeemer, who has been dishonored; and of reforming the evils which debase so many, and provoke the wrath of Almighty God, unless "the voice be lifted up like a trumpet, to cry aloud and not to spare?"
After all, there is no reason to be dispirited in view of these evils. "The Lord is in Zion, great and high above all people." Prince Messiah whose covenant, entered into by our fathers, this land has violated, whose crown it has trampled in the dust, and whose church it has despised, and whose enemies it has honored, has an arm that is full of power; and he will plead his own cause. He will subdue the people to allegiance; "for the rod of his strength goeth forth out of Zion." "The King’s heart is in his hand, and he turneth it as the rivers of water, whithersoever he will."
Of all the nations of the world, none has partaken more amply of the Divine bounty, than these United States. The sins of the nation are, indeed, aggravated, but the Divine goodness has not been withdrawn from us. Though when "God cometh out of his place to punish terribly the inhabitants of the earth," we shall not escape the rod of chastisement, yet we may hope that the visitation will be in mercy. "The remnant shall be affrighted, and give glory to, God." In this commonwealth, the exercise of government, by the representatives of the people, has given security to liberty and property; and has been productive of great national prosperity. This principle of governing by the will of the majority, is not, indeed, sufficient to make a magistracy the ordinance of God, or to secure for it the divine approbation. The government of the ten tribes of Israel, after their revolt from the house of David, when Jeroboam was elected President by a majority of the people, was not the ordinance of God. For God himself says of this deed of that people: "They have set up kings, but not by me; they have made princes, and I knew it not." Hosea 8:4. They had neither the divine warrant nor approbation, for what they did in the constitution of their government; and yet it was the doing of all the people. That throne "decreed iniquity by a law," in setting up the calves at Dan and Bethel; therefore, "God had no fellowship with it." Ps. 94:20. The government by the majority was good in principle; but the multitude did evil. On the success of this principle of self-government, by the representatives of the people, depend the liberties of the nations. To wrest this right from the hands of the despots of the earth, the people of the old world are putting forth, in various forms, their energies. It is this conflict between liberty and despotism, that convulses the civilized nations of Europe, with revolutionary movements. The example of these states is exhibited, in God’s providence, to the whole world, that the friends of liberty and man, may be animated to perseverance. This encourages the hope that Messiah, the depository of the mercies of the Godhead, will not abandon our land for its many sins, and that he will dispense to us pardon, though be will take vengeance on our sinful deeds.
Besides, there is some reason to believe, that the people were not so bad as a few practical atheists, into whose hands the management of the national affairs fell, immediately after the revolution. These men voted God out of the Constitution, and discarded all moral qualifications for office. But the people, pending the election of Mr. Jefferson to the office of President, adopted a test. The opponents of that gentleman, insisted that he was an infidel, and therefore not to be honored with the highest office in the gift of the people. His friends admitted the doctrine that a deist ought not to be President; but denied the charge against Mr. Jefferson. His Notes on Virginia, are essentially deistical. But comparatively few had read them. The people, many thousands of Christians, did not believe the charge, and thinking it a slander of his political enemies, they voted for him. Had the people known his malevolent opposition to the Bible, truth, church and worship, of God as it is now known, the writer believes that he never would have been President of the United States. That very contest rendered Deism forever unpopular in this nation.
Many people of the middle, western, southern, and perhaps in the northern states objected to Mr. J. Q. Adams being President, on the ground that he was reputed to be a Unitarian.
With what vehement, but honest zeal, was it plead by many distinguished men, that General Jackson ought to be considered disqualified for the office of President, because he was chargeable with dueling, and profane swearing. His friends did not plead that he never had been guilty of these immoralities, nor that a duelist or profane swearer is a fit person to be the first magistrate of the United States. But they affirmed that he had repented and reformed. How often has it been reiterated that Mr. Clay’s fondness for the card table, &c., &c., unfits him for the presidential chair?
Within a few years, a political party has arisen within this state, and has extended steadily for some years its numbers and power, by an appeal to the moral sense of this nation, on the necessity of moral qualifications for civil office. This is the distinctive feature of Anti-Masonry. It asserts that any man, who swears and holds himself bound by the impious and cruel oaths of the Masonic Order, is thereby disqualified for civil office. They appeal to the very same general principle, that was invoked in the presidential canvass preceding Mr. Jefferson’s election, and assented to by all parties, that immorality in principle or practice, disqualifies for office. It is said by some to be a very narrow basis, on which to erect a Party. The people do not think so. One hundred thousand voters in the state of New York, a majority of the state of Vermont, and monthly increasing thousands in other states, enroll themselves among Anti-Masons.—Anti-Masonry employs more than one hundred and fifty printing presses, issues annually many thousands of volumes, and has enlisted the best talents of the nation. The common moral sense of the community will act on the principle, that immoral oaths unfit those who swear them for being the public conservators of social order. With such a basis, with so many presses, with such advocates as a Maynard, a Spencer, a Rush, a Wilt, and a Granger, its course is evidently onward. What is perhaps somewhat unusual, its zeal increases with its numbers. Whatever some may intend, the great body of the people who constitute this party, are determined that the rulers of this nation shall be moral men—and they will, in this matter, prevail; for Heaven is on their side. The effects of the discussion of this interesting topic must be salutary.
We are encouraged too, to persevere in efforts to accomplish a reform of the national sins, which provoke Heaven's anger, by another feature in the aspect of the times. The Holy Scriptures are diffused through all ranks in society while the multiplication of schools, and the increasing interest in education, adds every month to the number of those who can read the Bible. Soon, it may be hoped, there will not be a family in the land without a Bible, and a member of the household qualified to read its pages. Every leaf of that blessed book teaches the claims of Messiah, the Prince; and sheds light on the duty of the citizens. Bible classes are multiplied; and old and young are learning to know more and more of the Scriptures. The public mind will soon become so enlightened by the Word and Spirit of the Lord, that the atheist and the deist shall be no longer able to sustain their power, which is as much supported by moral darkness, as the thrones of tyrants are, by the ignorance of their subjects.
Let no reader of these pages, then, be discouraged. The wicked may be great in power, and spread like the green bay tree—some professed friends of Prince Messiah, but real panders of power, may flatter the unholy, the impious great, to the perdition of both—some men, righteous by profession, "may stretch forth their hand to iniquity"—some may prove recreant to the testimony of Jesus; but after all, "the rod of the wicked shall not rest on the lot of the righteous."
Lord Jesus, "Thy kingdom come."—Amen.
 The machinery works badly in some of its operations. The United States has had a surplus revenue, averaging about $8,000,000 annually, for fifteen years. The revenues of New York, Pennsylvania, and of some other large States, falls very far short of the expenditures.
It may be said that these States making improvements; and it is true.—But if the government absorbs the profits of family labor, as is the case in Europe, to such an amount, as to make it impossible for farmers to cultivate their farms without running into debt, the governmental machinery works ill.
But we leave the calculation of the results from these aberrations, to the Rushes, Spencars, and McLanes of the commonwealth. [back]
Not the dragon, but his tail, here in the west. [back]
 Mr. Jefferson maintained that the federal power is a real political sovereignty. In a letter to Mr. Madison, dated Paris, 20th August, 1787, he says:—"I like the organization of the government into legislative, judiciary, and executive. I like the power given to the legislature to levy taxes; for that reason solely, I approve of the greater house being chosen by the people." This is sound doctrine. But he immediately adds what I think as insult to the good sense of the people of the United States:—"I think a house so chosen," (i.e., by the people) "will be very ill qualified to legislate for the Union, for foreign nations," &c.—This is anti-republican. Jefferson’s Works, vol. II, p. 273.
The taxing power, of which Mr. Jefferson speaks, is a distinctive attribute of political sovereignty. "There went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed." Luke 2:1. When Joseph and Mary enrolled their names in Bethlehem, "because they were of the house and lineage of David;" "The sceptre departed from Judah." Gen. 49:10. [back]
 The people of the United States do understand the United States Constitution as vesting the slaveholding power in the federal government. Since the text was written, the President, at the request of the ladies of New Bern, has stationed a body of United States troops in that place, to protect them against their domestics. He violates, indeed, in this act, the Constitution, Art. IV, Sec. IV. The protection "against domestic violence," by the national army, is only at the application of the legislature, or of the state executive, "when the legislature cannot be convened." Were it otherwise, the United States troops might be employed to protect the tobacco field, and kitchen. President Jackson sends troops at the application of the ladies. Still, it illustrates the popular sentiment.
The people of Pennsylvania have petitioned Congress to abolish slavery in the District of Columbia. Mr. Adams, in presenting the petition, takes it for granted, that the supreme slaveholding power is vested in Congress. He is against the petitioners, as he says, though entrusted by them with the cause of humanity. Somewhat strange for a northern man. [back]
 In the House of Representatives of this State, at the election of chaplains, a motion was made to dispense with prayer. In the discussion, Mr. Myers, a Jewish representative from New York, took an active part against prayer.—This was in character, as all the chaplains pray in the name of Jesus of Nazareth, whom his fathers crucified, and whom he rejects as an impostor. Yet, for a Jew to oppose prayer, as offered up in the legislature of a Christian country, was an act of discourtesy to the Christian people whom he represents, that we would scarcely have expected from a gentleman of the bar, who has been called "a learned and honorable Israelite."
Mr. Granger, the late Anti-Masonic candidate for Governor, made an able speech in favor of legislative prayer. Twenty-seven members voted against prayer to the God of Heaven, in the Assembly! Are they disciples of Thomas Paine?
"Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together against the Lord and against his Anointed, saying, Let us break their bands asunder and cast their cords from us. He that sits in heaven shall laugh. The Lord shall have them in derision." Psalm 2:1-4. [back]
 Jefferson says, (Vol. IV, p. 572) "February 1, 1800,—Dr. Rush tells me, that he had it from Asa Green, that when the Clergy addressed Gen. Washington, on his departure from the government, it was observed in their consultation, that he never on any occasion, said a word to the public that showed a belief in the Christian religion, and they thought they should so pen their address, as to force him at length to declare publicly whether he was a Christian or not. They did so. However, he observed, the old fox was too cunning for them. He answered every article of their address particularly, except that, which he passed over without notice. Rush observes, he never did say a word on the subject in any of his public papers, except in his valedictory address to the Governors of the states, when he resigned his commission in the army, wherein he speaks of "the benign influences of the Christian religion."
"I know," continues Jefferson, "that Gouverneur Morris, who pretended to be in his secrets, and believed himself so to be, has often told me that general Washington believed no more of that system than he did himself."
Since the above was written, the author has heard some facts respecting Washington’s last days at Mount Vernon, which give reason to hope, that he became, at least a speculative believer in revealed religion, after he withdrew from the cares of empire, and found time for investigation and devotion. We are sure the first President did not acknowledge Prince Messiah. Dr. Abercrombie said to, the writer—"Sir, General Washington was a Deist." [back]
 Priestly’s Life, vol, ii, p. 260. Mr Adams continued in office but four years, and Dr. Priestly was the chief instrument of preventing his re-election.—Willson on Atonement, pp.146-150. [back]
 The government being sinful in theory, commenced, Mr. Jefferson affirms, with corruption in practice. "I returned," said he, in his Ana. (Jeff. Works, vol. IV, p. 446). "from that Mission (to France) in the year of the new government; having landed in Virginia, in December, 1789, and proceeded to New York, in March, 1790, to enter on the office of Secretary of State. Here I certainly found a state of things which, of all I ever contemplated, I least expected. Hamilton’s financial system had been passed. It had two objects: 1. As a puzzle, to exclude popular understanding; 2. As a machine for the corruption of the Legislature: for he avowed the opinion, that man could be governed by one of two motives only, force or interest; force, he observed, in this country, was out of the question, and the interest therefore of the members must be laid hold of to keep the Legislature in unison with the executive. And with grief and shame it must be acknowledged that his machine was not without effect; that even in this, the birth of our government, some members were sordid enough to bend their duty to their interests, and to look after personal, rather than public good."
"It is well known that during the war, the greatest difficulty we encountered, was the want of money or means to pay our soldiers who fought, or our farmers, manufacturers and merchants, who furnished the necessary supplies of food and clothing for them. After the expedient of paper money had exhausted itself, certificates of debt were given to the individual creditors, with assurances of payment, so soon as the United States should be able. But the distresses of these people often obliged them to part with them for the half, the fifth, and even the tenth of their value; and speculators had made a trade of cozening them free from the holders, by the most fraudulent practices, and persuasions that they would never be paid. In the bill for finding and paying these, Hamilton made no differences between the original holders, and the fraudulent purchasers of this paper. Great and just repugnance arose at putting these two classes of creditors on the same footing, and great exertions were used to pay the former the full value, and to the latter, the price only which they had paid with interest. But this would have prevented the game which was to be played, and for which the minds of greedy members were already tutored and prepared. When the trial of strength, on these several efforts, had indicated the form in which the bill would finally pass, this being known within doors sooner than without, and especially, than to those who were in distant parts of the Union, the base scramble began. Couriers and relays of horses by land, and swift sailing pilot boats by sea, were flying in all directions. Active partners and agents were associated and employed in every state, town and country neighborhood, and this paper was bought up at five shillings, and even as low as two shillings in the pound, before the holder knew that Congress had all ready for its redemption at par. Immense sums were thus filched from the poor and ignorant, and fortunes accumulated by those who had themselves been poor enough before.—Men thus enriched by the dexterity of a leader, would follow, of course, the chief who was leading them to fortune, and become the zealous instruments of all his enterprises."
Is there any probability that there was less sin in the administration, when it was committed to the hands of Mr. Jefferson? Had we the secrets of his Cabinet, as he has given those of Washington, what might we expect? A man that speaks as he does of Jesus Christ, and the Apostle of the Gentiles, must have administered the government corruptly.
After speaking of the doctrines of Christ with some respect, he says, (Jeff. Works, vol. IV, p. 326); "There are, I acknowledge, passages not free from objection, that we may, with probability, ascribe to Jesus himself. His object was the reformation of some articles, in the religion of the Jews, as taught by Moses. That sect had presented for the object of their worship, a being of terrific character, cruel, vindictive, capricious and unjust." These are the blasphemies which the popular political idol of the day, utters against the God of Israel.
Of the New Testament writers, he says, (same page):—"We find in the writings of his biographers, a ground of vulgar ignorance, of things impossible, of superstitions, fanaticisms, and fabrications." Of the apostle of the Gentiles, he says, Vol. IV, p.321; "Paul was the great Coryphaeus, and first corrupter of the doctrine of Jesus."
The same kind of venom dictated his portrait of all the American Ministers of the Gospel. "The serious enemies" of learning "are the priests of the different religious sects, to whose spell on the human mind, its improvement is ominous. Hostile as these sects are, in every other point, they unite: in maintaining their mystical theogeny." So he calls Christianity. He adds; "The Presbyterian Clergy are loudest; the most intolerant of all sects; tyrannical and ambitious; ready at the word of the lawgiver, if such a word could be obtained, to put the torch to the pile, and kindle the flames, in which their oracle, Calvin, consumed the poor Servetus."
What sentiments for a President of the United States to utter, respecting ten thousand professional men, and by consequence, respecting more than 9,000,000 people who support them, by voluntary contribution! This is the liberality and charity of Deism. In these posthumous, atrabilious effusions of a president of the nation, we have the real light in which the Church of God and her Ministry are viewed, by the infidel rulers of the land. Such are the statesmen who adore Jefferson, and would banish prayer out of the Legislatures. We have just learned, that in the General Court or Legislature of Massachusetts, now in session in Boston, the Fanny Wright folks have made a movement consentaneous to that of their anti-prayer fraternity, in the legislature of this State. They have failed.
We have reason to thank God, that the Church still lives, and grows, and enlightens more and more, the moral sense of the community. Temperance Societies, Sabbath Unions, and Bible institutions evince, that the hostility of Thomas Jefferson, like that of his prototype Thomas Paine, has wasted its strength in vain attacks on "the bulwarks and high towers" of the city of the living God, "Salvation hath God appointed for wall and bulwarks." [back]
 This heresy denies the Divinity of the Saviour; the Doctrine of the Holy Trinity, and the atonement for sin by Jesus Christ. [back]