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selves, then, of the peace of God in this life, and of a participation of his glory after death." God grant you this grace Amen.
THE HARMONY OF RELIGION AND
PROVERBS xiv. 34.
Righteousness exaltetb a Nation,
To propose maxims of civil polity in a religious affembly, to propose maxims of religion. in a political affembly, are two things, which feem alike senseless and imprudent. The chriftian is fo often distinguished from the statesman, that, it would seem, they were opposite characters. We have been lately taught to believe, that Jesus Christy by giving us an idea of a fo. ciety more noble than any we can form upon earth, hath forbidden us to prevent the miseries of this state, and to endeavor to procure the glo. ry of it.. It hath been faid, that kingdoms and fates cannot be elevated without violating the laws of equity, and infringing the rights of the church.
How general foever this odious notion may have been, hardly any one hath appeared openly to avow it till of late. The impudence of pleading for it was reserved for our age, for a chrif. tian admitted into your provinces, cherished in your bofom, and, O shame of our churches ! appearing among protestant refugees, as the devil formerly presented bimself before the Lord among the angels of God.*
We propose to-day, my brethren, to endeavor to unravel the fophisms of this author, to thew
you Voyez Bayle, Continuat. des penfees divers. Tom. ii. pag..598.
you the agreement of religion with civil polity, and to establish this proposition, .that as there is nothing in religion to counteract the delign of a wise system of civil polity, fo there is nothing in a wise system of civil government to counteract the delign of the christian religion. I: was the wisest of all kings, who taught us this lesson. He speaks of the exaltation of a nation, and this is the end of civil poli:y. He speaks of righteousness, and this is the design of religion, or rother, this is religion'itfelf. He affirms, that the latter is the foundation of the former, and this is the agreement of religion with civil gova ernment. It is righteousness, faith he, it is righteousness, that exaltetb a nation.
This proposition of Solomon needs both explication and proof ; and this discourse is in. tended to furnish both.
In our first part we will flate the question, fix the sense of these terms,righteousness, exaltation; we will set aside the various falle fenses, which occasioned the opinion that we intend to oppose; and by these means we will preclude such objeco tions as may be made against our doctrine.
In the fecond part, we will alledge Come arguments in favour of the proposition contained in the text when properly explained, and to prove that rigbteousness exalteth a nation.
This nation is exalted, my brethren : but, al. low me to say, it is not by its righteousness. We have not therefore chosen this text to create an opportunity of making encomiums on you : but we treat of the subject in order to fix your attention on the proper means of preserving and augmenting your elevation. Happy if our desiga meet with success! Happy if we contribute, though not according to the extent of our wishes, yes according to the utmost of our ability, to the glory of this fate!
1. We just now. insinuated, that the false glofies put upon the maxim of the wise man were: the principal causes of our backwardness to ad mit the truth of it. 1: is, therefore, important to itate the question clearly.
1. When we affirm that righteousness and religion in general, (for it would be easy to prove tbat the word righteousness in the text is to be taken in this vague sense) I say, when we affirm that religion exaltet b « nation, we do not mean fucb a religion as many imagine. We ingen ously acknowledge, and would to God the whole worla acknowledged ! that neither the religion of a cruel man, nor the religion of a fuperftitions person, nor the religion of an enthusiast, can exalt a nation.
How can the religion of a cruel man exalt a nation? The religion of such men is too well known for the peace of Europe. Such as these, under pretence of devotion, cut a free course for their black and inflexible passions. These arm themselves with the civil sword to destroy all, who doubt the truth of their fyftems; they put violence in the place of demonstration, and endeavor to establish the gospel, as if it were the Koran of Mohammed, by force and constraint. These characters, as I just now said, are too well known for the peace of Europe. Even now, while I speak, I behold many, who have suffered under fuch cruelty, and have opposed the strongeft argument againit it. No, my brethren, this is not the religion'tha:: exalteth. a nation. Such a religion depopulates itates, ruins commerce, and is a nevér-tailing: source of civil wars and intestine, commotions." The religion, of which we peak, is a kind, patient, gentle religion ; a religion, the grand character of which is forbearance, benevolevce, and fraternal love; a religion inimicak to error and herefy : but which, however, pities the errone
ous and the heretic ; a religios, which exerts itself to eradicate false dočts .es : but which leaves.cach at liberty to adm the truth ; a religion, which hath no other sword than the sword of the Spirit, nor any other weapon than that of the word.
How can the religion of a superstitious man exalt a nation ? It makes devotion degenerate into idleness, it increaseth the number of eccle. fiaftics, and to renders many members useless to fociety. It wastes, in pretendedly pious foundacions, immense fums, which might have contributed to the advancement of arts and sciences. It generates scruples in the minds of statesmen, and so restrains the exercise of those fine facul. ties, which God created for the good of the ftate. It puts the cafuist in the place of the prince, and the prince in the place of the cafvift, the casuist on the throne, and the prince in confeflion at his feet. No, my brethren, this is not the religion, of which we speak. The religion, of which we fpeak, is opposite to superstition. It is just and solid, requiring us to “ render unto Cæfar the things that are Cæsar's, and onto God the things that are God's," Matt. xii. 17. It prescribes bounds to sovereigns : but it requires cafuifts also to know their place.
How can the religion of an enthusiast contribute to the exaltation of a natior ? The soul of an enthusiast is always agitated with visions and reveries. He incessantly thrusts himself into the company of the great, in order to inspire them with his own spirit, and to breathe into them the soul of enthusiasm. He endeavors to animate governors, called to watch over a state, and to conduct the people to national happiness, with his wild schemes. He is always talking of extirpating the reformation, and thundering excommunications against those, who do not en. ter into his extravagant projects; his anathemas