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side over its deliberations ? Who could collect its
votes ? Who could enrol its decisions ? Who could
enforce its decrees ?" The history of mankind, the
records of six thousand years, do not furnish a soli-
tary instance of a people coming out of a state of na-
ture to form a compact of society, and to establish
an order of government ; and then to submit them-
selves and their posterity to the government which
they had thus established. A social compact formed
by men in a state of nature, or in a savage state, is
such a palpable absurdity, that it can only be deemed
the fiction of a distempered brain, or the illusion
of a disordered imagination. It supposes that men
are best able to achieve that, which requires most
wisdom and experience, when they have the least ;



or, in other words, it supposes that what sages can
scarcely effect, savages can easily perform.

In the assertion of a social compact are two as-
sumptions : first, that the will of the majority
binds the minority ; and, secondly, that the act of
the fathers binds their children. But these assump-
tions of rights the right of the many to bind the
few, and the right of the parent to bind the child,
do in fact beg the question in dispute. For these
two assumed rights are rights not of a state of na-
ture, but of a state of society ; out of a state of so-
ciety these rights could not be known. A social
compact, therefore, in a state of nature, is not merely
an absurdity, but an impossibility.

The original state of man was not a state of equa-
lity, but of subordination. The god of republican
idolatry, the figment of revolutionary infidelity,
the pretension of licentious liberality ; that is, the
social compact of savage nature, or the free con-
sent of ungoverned millions, can neither in fact,
nor in record, anywhere be discovered. But,
while in no era of time, and in no quarter of the
world, is the dimmest trace of a social compact to be
discovered ; in every era of time, and in every
quarter of the world, kingly government is to be

Without the interposition of a power superior to
human, a system of social policy, or national go-
vernment, calculated to answer its end, could neither
be devised nor supported. The great but simple
principles of government are not the product of


human speculation, but the gift of divine revelation.
The form of government, though not divinely pre-
scribed, yet, from the first, was unquestionably
kingly. Between religion and government the con-
nexion from the first was most intimate and strong
both flowed from the same source, and that source
was divine.

2. Government is a divine ordinance. Civil so-
ciety, which ever implies government, is the condi-
tion to which God originally destined man. THE


When God created man at first, He gave him
laws for the government of himself and his house ;
and hence is the origin of all government. Again :
after the deluge, when mankind were reduced to a
single family, Noah received new laws from God,
and became the lord and king of his household.
When his descendants greatly multiplied, and their
original abodes were found too narrow for their mul-
titudes, they would, under different leaders, seek
for a new residence ; and still under their leaders
would establish various colonies in distant climes.
Thus, in the lapse of ages, would the whole earth by
the three sons of Noah be overspread. The descend-
ants of Japhet chiefly overspread Europe ; the off-
spring of Shem chiefly peopled Asia ; the posterity
of Ham colonized Africa. The first government of
these new colonies, or infant nations, would doubtless
be patriarchal or regal. " For to fathers within their

* Etymological inquiries into the names of Noah's descend-
ants confirm this account of the aborigines of nations.

Y 2


own families, God gave a supreme power. Hence
throughout the whole world, from its very begin-
ning, all men have ever been taken as lawful lords
and kings in their own houses." And the founders
of new colonies would also, in their new settlements,
from the first, ever be taken as lawful lords and
kings in their own tribes. In the days of Abraham,
fifty years after the death of Noah, there was a king
in Egypt ; and there had then been a long succession
of kings. About the same time there were in Canaan
nine kings at once. Nimrod, the grandson of Ham,
the second son of Noah, a mighty one, a warrior
and a conqueror, founded the kingdom of Babylon.
This kingdom, in process of time, became the first
universal empire ; but, growing too great to support
its own weight, it was subverted by the Persians ;
the Persian empire was subverted in its turn by the
Grecians, as the Grecian empire was by the
Romans. Out of the Roman empire, when broken
to pieces, arose the present kingdoms, our kingdom
among them, which now subsist in the world. The
governments, therefore, now in the world, have
arisen, not from a previous state of no-govern-
ment, falsely called a state of nature, but clearly
from that original government under which God
brought the first generations of men. Kingly go-
vernment is derived from patriarchal ; patriarchal
from paternal ; and paternal from God. Subjection
to government, therefore, proceeds not merely from
the principle of common honesty, which binds a man
to his own engagements ; nor yet merely from the


principle of political honesty, which binds a man to
the engagements of his ancestors; but from the
principle of conscientious obedience to the will of
God. The sublime end for which government is
established is the welfare of mankind ; and all ex-
perience has shown that this end has been, in the
main, attained. The good resulting from govern-
ment is perpetual and universal : the evil flowing
from the abuse of power is temporary and partial.
The worst government which the world ever wit-
nessed, the most terrific tyranny which ever afflicted
mankind, is not so evil nor so terrific as anarchy, or
no government; in which every man is a tyrant,
and every tyrant does that which is right in his own
eyes. From God, we repeat, all government pro-
ceeds ; and no king ever reigned, however he might
use or abuse his power, who did not reign by divine
appointment. The reason which the apostle gives for
subjection to the powers that be, is, because these
powers are the ordinance of God. Resistance
against His ordinance, is resistance against God
Himself. " Let every soul be subject to the higher
powers. For there is no power but of God : the
powers that be are ordained of God." The word
" higher" means sovereign ; and the word " powers"
signifies " persons bearing power." " Let every soul
be subject to sovereign powers," to persons bearing
sovereign power. "Whoever, therefore, resists the
power, resists the ordinance of God :" whoever
resists a government providentially established, resists
that God, who, as the guide of eternal providence, is


the Author of civil government. On the whole,
monarchy, or government by kings, is unquestion-
ably not only the most ancient government, but a
divine policy. Right government is divine policy
incorporated with true religion. Submission to
right government is a principal part of that duty
which every man owes to his God.

3. The constitution of this country is a right
government ; it is, we repeat, true religion incorpo-
rated with divine policy.

(1.) It is the government of King, lords, and com-
mons : of an hereditary sovereign, of an independent
house of peers, and of an elected house of commons,
or the representatives of the people. It combines
the distinct forms of all the governments which ever
existed ; of monarchy, aristocracy, and democracy ;
and it combines them so wonderfully, that it excludes
the evils of each form, and includes the excellencies
of all. Besides, our constitution " contains within
itself the means of remedying, without national dis-
order, the imperfections in its frame, which expe-
rience may discover ; and of correcting the abuses,
which time or corruption may introduce."*

Further : the whole government of king, lords,
and commons, is under the omnipotent control of
the law ; for in our wonderful constitution, the law is,
in a civil sense, omnipotent.

The peculiar safeguard or glory of the British
constitution is that the legislative power the power
of enacting and repealing laws is distributed among
* Gisborne.


king, lords, and commons ; while the executive
power the power of executing the laws is concen-
trated in the king alone. This distribution of the
legislative power, and this concentration of the
power executive, is the master-wheel, or the main-
spring of the British constitution. While, therefore,
each house of parliament is intensely jealous lest the
other house should possess any part of the execu-
tive power ; both houses are equally jealous that the
executive power should remain entire in the hands
of the king. While each of the three orders, ani-
mated by the strongest principles of human nature,
self-preservation and self-interest, has the power to
prevent the enactment or repeal of any law, which
enactment or repeal it deems injurious to itself, all
the three orders cannot agree to enact or repeal any
law but when the enactment or repeal would be
beneficial to them all. Thus while each order re-
strains the others from doing wrong, all unite in doing
right. In other words, while each restrains the others
from violating the constitution, all unite to compel
all to preserve it inviolate.

By two provisions the constitution restrains the
sovereign from exceeding his prerogative, and con-
strains him to fulfil his engagements. The one pro-
vision is the partition of the legislative power, just
mentioned : the other is the responsibility of the
confidential ministers of the crown. By the first, the
two houses of parliament can prevent the royal pre-
rogative from exceeding its constitutional bounds :
by the second, those ministers, who might be will-


ing to become the instruments of despotism, are
deterred by the dangers which attend the attempt.

Reprobating, as we do, the doctrine of the first
formation of government out of anarchy by general
consent, or social compact, we yet gladly admit
that the king of this country is under the obligation
of an express contract with his people. This con-
tract is drawn out at length in the bill of rights, and
acts of settlement, and is summarily expressed in
the coronation oath : that solemn oath which will
this day, in the presence of his people, be adminis-
tered to the sovereign of these realms. By the

D >

terms of this contract, as the measure of their power,
and as the rule of their conduct, our kings, in the
exercise of their sovereignty, are religiously bound
to their people, and to their God.

(2.) For in our government, divine policy is in-
corporated with true religion. " Christianity," says
Blackstone, " is part of the laws of England." True
religion is the life and soul of our constitution : the
king confessedly reigns by the grace of God ; and at
his coronation solemnly swears, not only to govern
his people according to the statutes of parliament,
and the customs of the realm ; but to the utmost of
his power, to maintain the laws of God, the true
profession of the gospel, and the Protestant reformed
religion established by law. The people are parties
in this oath. The people not only tacitly promise to
submit to the king while he observes his oath, but
tacitly promise themselves to maintain the laws of
God, the true profession of the gospel, and the Pro-


testant reformed religion as by law established.
What is meant by the laws of God, the true profes-
sion of the gospel, and the Protestant reformed reli-
gion, in the coronation oath, there can be no doubt :
they are the laws of God as revealed in the Bible,
and the true profession of the Gospel, and the Pro-
testant reformed religion, as maintained by the
Church of England. In our constitution, in our
right government, therefore, church and state, true
religion, and divine policy, are not merely joined or
allied, but they are incorporated, they are one. The
true religion, which the king of England swears to
maintain, is the religion contained in the Holy Scrip-
tures, in the Articles, Homilies, and Liturgy, of our
scriptural and Protestant church. The Bible and
the Prayer-book are enshrined in the glorious
fabric of our constitution. They are incorporated in
the sublimest act of the legislature. They are the
holiest part of the law of the land. So completely
is the Church of England incorporated with the state,
so entirely are they one, that the abolition of the
church would be the dissolution of the constitution.

Such is the British constitution ! Its origin is di-
vine ; its basis is religion ; its rule is law ; its end is
the welfare of the subject. " It allows to the people
all the benefits of freedom, which consist with kingly
sway ; it grants to the king all the prerogatives of
royalty, which consist with the freedom of the peo-
ple." It secures to all every blessing of civil poli-
ty ; it offers to all every blessing of true religion.
It is a constitution which every wise man will ad-
mire, which every honest man will approve, and for


whose continuance every good man will pray. It is
the only constitution in the records of time, which
has attained the perfection of civil government. It
is the noblest production of human wisdom ; and
including, as it does, true religion, it is the best gift
of God to mankind ! Such, I repeat, is the free
constitution of the British monarchy : "so wisely
contrived, so strongly raised, so highly finished by
the experience of ages, and by the religion of
God ; so wonderfully preserved by providence ;
and so deserving to be preserved for ever ! In
the preservation of this constitution every Briton
is interested ; and the peasant is as much interested
as the king. Its preservation is a duty, which
we owe to ourselves, who have happily enjoyed
it ; to our ancestors, who transmitted it down ; and
to our posterity, who will claim at our hands this,
the best birthright, and the noblest inheritance of
mankind." *

Having noticed the nature of right government,
we proceed to consider,


" My son, fear thou the Lord and the king ; and
meddle not with them that are given to change."

" There is a reverential respect due to civil go-
vernors solely on account of their office, and this re-
spect we are never permitted either to withhold or to
violate." The apostles strikingly subjoin to the duty

* Blackstone.


of " fearing God," the duty of " honouring the king :"
and they emphatically inculcate submission to civil
rulers, not so much from a fear of their power, as from
a reverence to their office. "Apart from the personal
character of rulers, the apostles enjoin respect to go-
vernment, as government, " as an ordinance of God,"
essential not only to the welfare, but to the very
existence of society." " All power is of Almighty
God ; all government is of divine origin ; and
civil government is the most visible and striking
part of God's government of the world." For civil
government affords a representation, faint, indeed,
and inadequate, but still a representation of the
government of God over all the earth !* And in
this view, how noble and salutary and just are the
sentiments of the apostles ! " Let every soul be
subject to the higher powers ; for there is no power
but of God ; the powers that be are ordained of
God ; whosoever, therefore, resisteth the power, re-
sisteth the ordinance of God, and they that resist
shall receive to themselves damnation. For rulers
are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt
thou then not be afraid of the power? Do that which
is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same. For
he is the minister of God to thee for good. Where-
fore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath
but for conscience sake."

" My son, therefore, fear thou the Lord and the
king ; and meddle not with them that are given to
change." " The fear of the Lord" includes the
* Bishop Butler. Robert Hall.


whole of true and practical religion ; and the fear of
the king implies the whole of right civil govern-
ment. " Those who are given to change," are
those persons who are lovers of change in govern-
ments ; innovators and disturbers, levellers and
revolutionists. " My son, maintain true religion,
and lawful government; and have nothing to do
with lovers of change in states or kingdoms ! Have
nothing to do with innovators or levellers, with
disturbers or revolutionists ! To maintain true reli-
gion, we must first practise it ourselves, and then
labour that all within our influence may practise it.
By repentance towards God, and by forsaking all
sin, by faith in Christ Jesus and by holiness of life,
we must show that we are regenerated and sancti-
fied by the Holy Spirit, and thus recommend and
adorn the true religion. To maintain right govern-
ment, " we must submit ourselves to the king as
supreme, and to his rulers, as sent by him ;" we must
submit to them as bearing his authority and as act-
ing in his name. We must ourselves support the
supreme governor, and strive that all around us may
support him : we must ourselves conscientiously
obey the laws of the land, and honestly endeavour
that all around us may obey them. Believing that
our own government is right or scriptural govern-
ment, an incorporation of divine policy with true
religion, we must not only entirely avoid all lovers
of change, all innovators, and revolutionists ; but
we must utterly denounce their infidel principles,
and utterly oppose their revolutionary designs. But,


especially at the time when, under the specious
name of reformers, revolutionists are planning the
subversion of kingdoms, it is needful to speak in
terms, which cannot be misunderstood. " My son,
fear thou the Lord and the king ; and meddle not
with them that are given to change."

Englishmen ! Christians! " Fear God! Support
the true religion, the true profession of the Gos-
pel of Christ, the Protestant reformed religion es-
tablished in this land ! Support, as your king this
day swears to support, the scriptural and Protestant
Church of England. For if the altar shakes, the
throne will tremble ! if the church falls, the state
cannot stand !

Englishmen ! Christians ! " Honour the king /"
Support the limited, but free monarchy of England.
Support the mixed government of king, lords, and
commons ; and take especial care that nothing dis-
turb the partition of the legislative power among
the three branches of the state, nor the concentra-
tion of the executive power in the hand of the king.

Englishmen ! Christians ! " Meddle not with them
that are given to change" Have no intercourse
with lovers of change in governments. For these
lovers of change are neither lovers of their country,
nor of their kind ; but only lovers of themselves, who
by revolution design to ruin the kingdom, and then
to enrich themselves out of its ruins !

Englishmen ! Christians ! As prayer for our coun-
try is our duty as Christians ; so submission to go-
vernment is a proof of our Christianity. " I exhort


you, therefore, as zealous Christians, that ye make
prayers for all men ; for kings and for all in autho-
rity, that we may lead quiet and peaceable lives in all
godliness and honesty !" And, finally, I exhort you
as British Christians, " to submit yourselves to every
ordinance of man for the Lord's sake; whether it be
to the king as supreme, or unto governors, as to
them that are sent by him, for the punishment of
evil doers, and for praise of them that do well. As
free, and not using your liberty for a cloke of mali-
ciousness, but as the servants of God. Honour all
men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour
the king." (1 Pet. ii. 13, 14, 16, 17, 18.)



[Preached on New Year's Day.~\

ECCLES. iii. 15.
God requireth that which is past.

MAN is a creature of large capacity, " looking
afore and after." By the faculty of reason he can
truly reflect and wisely anticipate. But though he
can, by reason, look backwards on things past, and
forwards to things future ; yet is he, by nature,
most affected by things present. How soon do
things past cease to affect our minds ! How little
do things future influence our conduct ! How
entirely do things present engross our thoughts !
How little do we meditate on death and judg-
ment ! How soon do we forget former resolutions
and departed friends ! So completely do the
things of the present moment engage our hearts,
that the future is unheeded, and the past is for-


gotten. How easily does the morning of a new
year obliterate the memory of the year just past !
But though we may forget the past, God does not
forget it. For " God requireth that which is past."
The word " require," signifies to take account of, or
to seek ; and to recall, or to restore* The text will,
therefore, lead us to notice how God restores and
requires that which is past.
We are to notice how,


A portion of time is just terminated ; another
portion of time is just commenced. Within a few
hours an old year has ended, and a new year has
begun its course. God will restore in the new year
that which is past in the old. The coming year will
be, in every respect but one, a picture of the old.
" God will restore that which is past."

1 . In the commencing year, God will restore the
lights of heaven. The same celestial orbs will rise
and set ; the sun will rise, and give us light in the
morning ; he will set, and leave us in darkness at
night ; the moon will fill her horns, will wax and
wane, through her monthly orbit, and through every
month in the year ; the stars will bespangle, as with
drops of burning gold, every nightly firmament,
and disappear at the dawn of day. " Thus saith
the Lord ; I give the sun for a light by day, and the

* " To seek, to require, to restore. Deus instaurat, quod
abiit. God requires that which is followed after by things suc-
ceeding." Parkhurst.


moon and the stars for a light by night ; and these
ordinances shall not depart from before me, saith the
Lord ; the Lord of hosts is my name." For, " I will
not break my covenant, that there shall not be day
and night in their season." (Jer. xxxi. 35, 36 ; and
xxxiii. 2025.)

But though these heavenly bodies will be this year
restored, we this year may be removed. This year
the moon may pour her paly light into our sick and
dying chamber. The sun may shine brightly on our
coffin ; the stars twinkle nightly on our grave.

2. In the coming year, God will restore the suc-
cessive seasons. The same seasons, in the same order,
will as regularly succeed each other as they have
done for four thousand years. Smiling spring, and
bright summer, and yellow autumn, and chilling,
cheerless winter, will fill the coming year. " For
thus saith the Lord, While the earth remaineth,
seed time and harvest, cold and heat, winter and
summer, shall not cease." (Gen. viii. 22.)

But though the spring will return with smiles, it
may smile on us in pain and agony. Though
summer will return with sultry heats, it may return
with sultry heat when we are shivering in disease,
or cold in death. Though autumn will return with
varied foliage and golden fruits, our eyes may never
see that foliage nor those fruits, but may then be
closed to all things " here below." Though winter
will return with his coldest blasts, we may then have
felt the colder blast of death, and be laid in the
colder winter of the grave.

VOL. i. z


3. In the coming year, God will restore the
course of nature, and renew the face of the earth.
The green herbage will again clothe the ground ;
the gay flowers will again beautify the fields ; the

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Online LibraryJohn CawoodSermons (Volume 1) → online text (page 20 of 27)