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prayer, in the darkest night that ever settled upon a nation. When it shall be felt by the Christian citizen, that the closet, the family, and the sanctuary, are not only the places to mention our individual sins, sorrows, and wants ; but also to embrace, in the circumference of our desires, the concerns of the nation at large; and when Christians forget themselves, in praying for the public weal; then will the thunders of the divine indignation begin to soften and die away, and the voice of " him that sitteth upon the throne,” be heard, speaking of freedom and peace; and the bow of his mercy be seen amidst the shower of divine blessings.
But the duties of the Christian citizen do not all lie even here. Prayer and faith are only preparations to act. God has said, “ righteousness exalteth a nation ;” “Keep therefore and do my statutes, for this is your wisdom and understanding in the sight of the nations, which shall hear all these statutes, and say, Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.” That prevalence of holiness, as constituting national character, to which the Bible calls, is not only to be asked in prayer by Christians, but promoted by their doing almost uncounted duties as citizens. A nation like ours, should know that holy men are among them, by the untiring diligence, the unflinching boldness, the conscientious faithfulness, and the hearty good will, with which Christians, as citizens, shall do every good work, and answer every obligation. God said to his people, “ seek the peace of the city whither I have caused you to be carried away captives ; and pray unto the Lord for it, for in the peace thereof shall ye have peace.”
The Christian, under such a form of government as ours, should consider himself bound in conscience to exercise his rights, as an elector, with his fellow citizens at large. That direction of God to Moses, may be properly taken as a guide to every freeman; “ Moreover, thou shalt provide out of all the people, able men, such as fear God; men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them, (i. e. the people,) to be rulers of thousands and rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties and rulers of tens.” He is to interest himself in seeking, with his fellow citizens, for men of the right qualifications for office, in all its ranks; men of talents, disinterestedness, integrity, piety; as those from whom may be expected the most upright administration of government. The religion of no man excuses him from this duty. The more consci
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entious and devout his piety, the better is he fitted to contribute his efforts, for bringing into places of trust, good men. On the day of election, he is out of his place, even in his closet, if he is thus neglecting his duties as an elector. He should pray on such days, it is true ; but he should act, also. He should go forth, and be the Christian in the elective assembly. If there be unprincipled and wicked men, seeking to carry plans which would be unfriendly to sound morals and the religion of the gospel, they should be made to know that the energy of moral principle is not to be derided, nor good men driven into corners; but that Christian principle will put itself forth to frustrate the counsels of licentiousness; and that good men will leave nothing undone, to maintain the order which is enjoined on a nation by the word of God. This should be done by the Christian, remembering that his faithfulness there, takes hold on his own peace of conscience, the happiness of his own home, the safety and honor of his country, and above all, upon the glory of his Father in heaven. Although he may have to lament, sometimes, that " the vilest men are exalted,” yet let him remember, that he is not even by these circumstances excused from doing his duty. That feeling, “ there is no hope,” is the effect of distrust towards God. Up, and be doing duty. " Has God forgotten to be gracious ?” Has God no vicegerent and the Christian no ally in the breasts of wicked men, even their own consciences? Has God ceased to be able to " make the wrath of man to praise him," and to " restrain the remainder of wrath ?" If that prophecy is to be fulfilled, that 6 kings shall be nursing fathers, and queens nursing mothers” to the interests of the kingdom of God in this world, it is to be through the instrumentality of his people. He will not work miracles, but he will make him who “ hath clean hands, to wax stronger and stronger ;” and will in his own good time, “ still the noise of the waves, the tumult of the people.”
Our limits permit us to remark upon but one topic more. It is, that the Christian live for the conversion of his countrymen to God. We have had occasion to quote that text, “ righteousness exalteth a nation." Let the meaning of this righteousness be understood. It is not simply for a nation to be in reputation for virtue, or external morality. Righteousness in a nation, is the same as in any devout and holy man, “pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father.” We have the name of a “ Christian nation,” not because we are a nation of Christians; but because that we have some religion among us, and are not a nation of atheists, heathens, or Mohammedans; because that there applies to us the declaration of God to his prophet concerning Israel, that he had “reserved unto himself seven thousand men who had not bowed the knee to the image of Baal ; " because there is a restraining influence on the people at large, from the possession of the word of God, and to some extent the preaching of it, keeping us from absolute national licentiousness. But how far short all this is, of the requisitions of the Ruler of the world, and of that which should be our safety, honor, and prosperity, let the Christian citizen well consider. That to which God calls us as a nation, is, to a receiving, and acting upon, these holy principles of life and conduct, which are at the foundation of all that is righteous in his sight—that we become a nation of Christians. It must cease to be the fact, that the overwhelming majority of the people have “no fear of God before their eyes”—that the great proportion of the hearers of the gospel be the neglecters of the gospel-that the largest portion of our country be without the ministry and ordinances of the religion of the gospel-that the laws of God be forgotten and trampled upon by the multitude, and by numbers of our great menthat vice deforms and pollutes millions—and there go on, as heretofore, such fearful “ treasuring up of wrath against the day of wrath.” We must “cease to do evil, and learn to do well,” not in a few outward matters of propriety and reputation among men, but in the whole inward frame of the spirit, and outward habits of life, as in the sight of a holy God; and this, not a few thousands of us, but twelve millions. We talk, and pray, and labor, respecting “ the conversion of the world ;” and it is well. But we must talk, and pray, and labor, respecting the conversion of this yet not half Christianized nation. The end of national existence and prosperity, is not for itself; any more than the end for which man was created, was to consider for a few years “what shall we eat, and what shall we drink; and wherewithal shall we be clothed,” and then to drop into nothingness. It is “ to glorify God : " and herein will be its truest blessedness, the accomplishment of the legitimate object of its existence. Could the shining of the millennial glory be poured for one hour upon us, and our true national
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interests be contemplated in its light, by the “ wise men,” and “ the mighty men,” who now suppose that they almost “ see the end from the beginning;” we would predict their sitting down in the dust before God, with the humble acknowledgment, “we are of yesterday and know nothing." There is not yet faith in millions of us to believe that which “ the Lord from heaven” has told us of the grand secret of all national policy, that “righteousness exalteth a nation.” And we repeat the idea, that a grand obstacle in the way of our true national interests is, living “ without God in the world”unconversion.
The Christian's great duties, then, as a citizen, lie in the range of holiness toward God, for himself, and the promotion of that holiness in his fellow men around him. “What shall we do that we may work the works of God ? " what to make the influence of our example more persuasive and commanding upon the thoughtless and unbelieving, the self-wise and those who forget God? what to bring all classes and conditions of our fellow men acquainted with the “ truth as it is in Christ Jesus,” with their duties as hastening to the final judgment seat; with their true interests as immortal beings; their dangers as transgressors against God; their encouragements as those for whom have been bought with “ the blood of the everlasting covenant,” the offers of pardon and peace with God, and the hope of blessedness in eternity ? And these inquiries are all answered in the moment of their being put ; yea, they have been anticipated, long since, in the voice of God's word and providence, and by the Saviour himself, in the hour in which he ascended to the right hand of God, leaving a command, well following that wonderful and glorious work which he had just finished, and which marks out the Christian's duty to the land of his birth and privileges, as well as to the rest of the world which lieth in wickedness.” And every call of Christian benevolence in this age, gives emphasis to the divine instructions to the Christian citizen on his duties to his country. Worldly men may look with incredulity, perhaps with scorn, or what is worse, with jealousy and hatred, upon the movements of Christians in their associations of benevolence; and like the Samaritan scoffer, as he looked upon the rebuilding of Jerusalem, may say, “what do these feeble Jews ? will they fortify themselves ? will they sacrifice? will they make an end in a day ?” And the response may come from multitudes of a kindred spirit, “ Even that which they build, if a fox go up, he shall even break down their stone wall.” It is now too late for such sneers to take effect, even upon discerning and honest worldly men; and on the Christian, who is living in any proper measure to God, they are things which more excite his compassion than his anger. For he sees the time approaching, in which God will decide the question, Who has been the best friend of his country? He who has “cast off fear and restrained prayer," and lived to himself and to his own and the final destruction of his fellow men ; or he whose heart has been filled with love to God and good will to men ; and whose life has been spent in the promotion of the “godliness which is in Christ Jesus ? "
“Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter : fear God and keep his commandments; for this is the whole duty of man." Think not that your duties as a Christian, and your duties in relation to the civil government under which you live, do not belong together, or that they are separable. They are inseparable. So far as you omit either, you sin against God. Take the broad and noble view of this subject which you certainly will find the record of God gives, the more you study it. A few pages like the preceding can give you but a glimpse of it. You must habitually take it into that secret place where God pours in such light as he never grants to shine in the study of the wisest politician, who knows not what humble, fervent, effectual prayer is. You need not ask a seat in the councils of your State, nor of the nation, nor the highest office in the gift of the people, in order that you may do most good. Go forth from your closet, day by day, to shed around you the steady and increasing light of a Christian example, in every sphere of duty, in every relation of life, in all your transactions with men. “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do,” for the moral and spiritual benefit of immortal men around you,“ do it with thy might." Labor for the conversion of men. For the conversion of a sinner is an addition to the number of good citizens, and to the amount of that righteousness in a nation which is pleasing in God's holy sight. At home, abroad, in private life, in public, in a narrow sphere of influence, or a wide one, be the Christian. Enter with all your heart into plans of Christian benevolence. If you are poor, you can at least " cast in two mites,” to help on the movements of benevolence which are struggling to bless our country and the world. If