Page images

it stands secure from outward Dangers : He mall be as the tender Grafs springing out of the Earth by clear shining after Rain. There cannot be a more lively Image of a flourishing Condition, than what is conveyed to us in these Words. The Grafs which is forced by the Heat of the Sun, before the Ground is well prepared by Rains, is weak and languid, and of a faint Complexion : but when clear shining succeeds the gentle Showers of Spring, the Field puts forth its best Strength, and is more beautifully arrayed than even Solomon in all his Glory. Such is the Splendor, such are the neverfading Glories of a Kingdom, whose Prince ruleth in the Fear of the Lord.

The Text thus explained leads us to consider,

First, The Character of a good Prince, expressed in these Words, He that ruleth aver Men must be just, ruling in the Fear of God.

Secondly, How great a Blessing a just Prince is to his People ; which is represented under the Similitudes of the rising Sun, and the flourish out of the Earth. First, then, we are to consider the Cha.. G


racter of a good Prince expressed in these Words ; 'He that ruleth over Men must be just, ruling in the Fear of God.

Justice, in the limited Notion of the Word, as it signifies a due Execution of the Law, an equal Distribution of Rewards and Punishments, to the Obedient and Disobedient, makes but a Part of the Description of a good Governor ; that which fills up the Character, is a more extensive Virtue, influencing the whole Conduct of a Reign, and denotes rather the general Habit of Virtue, than any particular Acts that flow from it. What this Virtue is, may best be una derstood by comparing it with that, which is the true Measure of it, the Fear of the Lord. And thus the Text has taught us to explain the Notion, referring us evidently to the Fear of the Lord, as to the proper Rule and Measure of that Juftice which it requires in a Ruler : He that ruleth over Men must be just; what is meant by just, the following Words inform us; Ruling in the Fear of God.

The Fear of God is in all Cases the Beginning of Wisdom, as being the true Foundation of Religion ; the Principle from which the Knowledge of our Duty, as well


as our Obligation to Obedience, is in all Instances deducible. It is à Principle which extends to all the Stations and Circumstances of human Life ; and will teach the Prince, as well how to govern, as the Subject how to obey.

Now the Fear of the Lord either means a just Sense of the Attributes of God, or else necessarily supposes it; for Fear always follows, and what is determined by the Conception we form of the Thing, or Person feared. If we join to great Power great Malice, and a settled Resolution to do Mife chief, the Obiect so clothed, strikes with Terror and Confusion, and the Result is an

, Navish Fear ; if we add to unlimited Power, as great Goodness and Benevolence, such a Being creates in our Minds, Awe and Reverence, and replenishes our Hearts with filial Fear and Veneration. To know the Difference between the Fear of a Father and of a Tyrant, we must necessarily consult our Ideas of both, by which only we can distinguish the Passions. To act therefore under the Fear of God, is one and the same Thing as to be influenced by a juft Sense of his Power, Holiness, and other divine Perfections; and to rule in the Fear

į G 2


of the Lord, is fo to govern, as being always under the Sense of his Power and Holiness, as being ever in the Presence of him, who is King of Kings, and Lord of Lords.

It is this Sense, which will make Princes become true Fathers of their People: for when they consider, that they stand in the Place of God, the common Father of Mankind; that those, who are made subject to their Power, are the Sons of him, who put the Reins of Government into their Hands ; they must needs treat their People like their Children, as conscious to themselves of executing a Father's Power; and knowing, that they should be injurious to him above them, as well as to those below them, should they use his Authority in a Way not suitable to his Character. Could a Prince abuse his Authority, to the gratifying his Luft or Passion, had he this Sense before his Eyes ? Could he think it reasonable to make the Power of God execute the corrupt Designs of a Man's Heart? In the private Affairs of Life, there is nothing leaves a fouler Stain upon a good Character, than the Abuse of a Trust, which extends perhaps only to the Guardianship of a few In. fants and a small Estate; and yet a Man that proves unjust to his Friend in so small a Concern, in neglecting the Interest of the little Family committed to his Care, is looked upon by all, as abandoned to the Sense of Honour and Virtue. The Reason of this Resentment is plain ; because every Body sees that the Father left his Friend, his Power and Authority over the Family and Estate, that he might become a Father to them in his Stead : and this is understood to carry with it such an Obligation, that an honest Man is more careful and industrious in the Concerns of others, than oft-times he is in his own. A good Prince governs with the fame Sentiments, which are ever suggested to him by the Fear of God: he considers his People, as the Family of the Almighty, over which he is placed by the Appointment of Providence; as Orphans committed to his Care, whose Prosperity and Happiness depend entirely on his Conduct: the Will of God is always the Rule by which he uses the Power of God; and in every Instance of Government, he does the very Thing which he judges God would do, were he personally to determine the Case himself: for a Prince fo instructed, seeks not his own Will, but the Will of him who fent bim.



« PreviousContinue »