« PreviousContinue »
tional Debt, [Original.]
II. The Rev. W. L. Bowles's Answer to Lord Byron's Letter on the
Country, with Draft of
IV. Capt. Broughton's Letter to the Board of Agriculture. [Original.]
VI. Cornaro's Rules for attaining Long Life, and correcting a bad
and Campbell at the shrine of Pope.
2 SAMUEL xxiii. 3, 4.
He that ruleth over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God;
and he shall be as the light of the morning when the sun riseth, as a morning without clouds.
These, we are informed by the sacred historian, were the last words of David ; and if this declaration of the duty, the nature, and the benefits of Civil Government had been only the dying sentiments of a great Monarch, descending to the grave “full of days, and riches, and honor,” and forming his judgment from the experience of a reign of forty years, it might have merited the serious consideration of every Prince and People.
But these are words of still higher authority; they are not merely the declaration of an experienced King, but the testimony of an inspired Prophet; for thus sublimely is this passage introduced :
“ David the son of Jesse said ; and the man who was raised up on high, the anointed of the God of Jacob, and the sweet Psalmist of Israel said ; the Spirit of the Lord spake by me, and his word was in my tongue. The God of Israel said, the Rock of Israel spake to me. He that ruleth over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God; and he shall be as the light of the morning when the sun riseth, as a morning without clouds."
These maxims, then, demand your attention, as the words of Him who cannot be mistaken, of Him by whom the wisest must submit to be taught, and whom the most powerful must be content to obey
And to what, indeed, can your attention be more properly directed, than to these political truths of Revelation, on this great Solemnity, which has for its purpose, at once, to inspire the Subject with reverence for the authority and person of the Sovereign, and to impress on the Sovereign his obligations of duty to his People; to enforce the performance of that duty by the sanctions of Religion, and to call down upon the frail Institutions of human policy the blessing of Almighty God.
That maxims which assert either the duties or the benefits of Civil Government, would, at all times, require to be inculcated, may be inferred from the very constitution of the mind. The common pride of our nature has a tendency to excite in the bulk of mankind an impatience of inferiority and control; whilst, on the other hand, there is danger, lest he who is exalted above the rest of his fellow-creatures on earth, should forget his own dependence upon God, should forget that he also has
a Master in Heaven, with whom “there is no respect of persons.” Thus will be produced disloyalty on the part of the Subject, and oppression on the part of the Sovereign, and both be rendered incapable of enjoying those reciprocal blessings which flow from the mutual attachment and confidence of the Prince and the People.
The history of the world affords ample proofs in support of this assertion; the records of every nation exhibit the alternate predominance of tyranny and faction. The spirit of innovation has burst the ties of allegiance under the mildest governments, has proceeded to redress imaginary grievances with bloodshed, and has not stopped in its frantic career till it has subverted the foundations of society, and thrown down the fences by which innocence is protected, and property secured and tyranny, if it has not spread such wide wasting desolation, has made more frequent inroads on the happiness of men, and practised on their patience every mode of exaction which rapacity could devise, and every species of persecution which cruelty could inflict.
Nor are these domestic crimes the only calamities which the injustice of Rulers has brought upon mankind. How much innocent blood cries aloud from every corner of the earth against the destructive ambition of Princes; how large a proportion of those wars which have ravaged the world, is to be imputed to the vain-glorious wickedness of Individuals, exalted in power, abusing their sacred trust.
Thus lamentably has the maxim been disregarded by Rulers, that “He who ruleth over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God ;” and thus fatally has it been forgotten by nations, that a just Ruler is to his People, “as the light of the morning when the sun riseth, as a morning without clouds."
: Let both these truths then be diligently considered, and let it be examined,
1st, What are the principles which constitute good government; and,
2dly, What are the effects which it produces.
The great general principle of good government is universal Justice ; justice between Nation and Nation; justice between Man and Man ; justice between the Sovereign and the People.
The laws of political justice which should regulate the intercourse of Nations, have been so little regarded by those who have directed the Councils of powerful kingdoms, that a reader of history might almost imagine that there was one code of morality for nations, and another for individuals. In the transactions of States with each other, the most crooked arts of circumvention have been practised under the name of policy, and the most enor. mous violence of usurpation, when confirmed by conquest, has been dignified with the character of Patriotism.
But a just Ruler will remember, that the principles of equity are exactly the same in public, as in private concerns. Between those acts of injustice which affect Individuals, and those which are often committed against Communities, what difference is there, except in the extent of the injury, and, consequently, the magnitude of the guilt ?
The duty of administering justice, without partiality, between man and man, is delegated, for the most part, to subordinate Judges, and requires therefore no more than a summary notice in the present enquiry. Still, the delegation of that trust is the act of the Sovereign himself; and the greatest importance must attach to the choice of those who are to represent his authority.
This, indeed, may, in some sense, be considered as the last division of justice which I have mentioned-the justice which a Sovereign owes to his People ; and which makes it his duty to place able and conscientious men in stations of trust and power ; for “ when the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice.”
No nation can ever be happy at home, or respected abroad, unless its councils and laws are administered by the prudent and the honest, by the moral and the religious : and though virtue and piety have higher rewards than it is in the power of man to bestow, yet is it the most essential service which a Sovereign can render to a State, to encourage morality and religion by a marked and uniform preference in the distribution of dignity and power. If, indeed, those who surround the Throne, and ought to reflect its lustre, if those whose station makes them at once objects of envy and imitation, if such men are worthless or wicked, the influence of their example will extend itself in every direction, and