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If the principles to which we have so briefly adverted be just, they are also general in their character, and applicable in every realm and every age. It is of the nature of truth to be always the same, and of justice to be suitable to universal society. Theories or supposed expediency must be held fallacious, when they seem to interfere with, or invalidate, claims so sacred and unquestionable. Civil government, however modified, is but an arrangement for the benefit of mankind; is so much the more beneficial as it is well and wisely administered, and can only claim the suffrage of the intelligent, and the obedience and support of all the community, as it is characterised by integrity and justice. Christianity professes to bring a blessing to all men, and predicts the period when all nations shall call the Redeemer blessed. In his reign, mercy and truth are described as meeting together, righteousness and peace embracing each other. The progress of this religion is certain, and cannot be absolutely impeded by any subordinate agency. It is armed with a power, and endued with an energy, which have already borne down the hostility of wily and confederate adversaries--gone through, and prevailed over, the confusion and obstruction of anarchy, or of despotism. Well-ordered civil government has been made subservient, but has never operated as a primary, or even necessary, element in the wonders of Christian achievement. Times of commotion, persecution, and cruelty, have often been rendered the season of greatest triumph
UNEQUAL GOVERNMENT INJURIOUS.
for Divine truth: the wrath of man has been made to praise God; and he has restrained the remainder of that wrath. Yet this majestic independence and sovereign omnipotence of Divine truth have afforded no palliation for the interference of unsound principles, or the exercise of injustice in civil affairs; and while the Christian church can march on in her way, whether aided by the organisation of civil society or not, when her Founder receives that honour to which he is entitled in the community of men, then just principles in government, equity between man and man, will be recognised—liberal and benevolent measures will be pursued-social intercourse will be improved-truth shall spring out of the earth, and righteousness look down from heaven. There is no nation or age, kindred or tribe, from which the development of just principles should be withheld; nor is there any crisis of political expediency that will either sanction, or render it ultimately beneficial, to act on the maxim condemned by an apostle, “Let us do evil, that good may come.” No danger to which personally we may be exposed, no timid apprehensions of a feeble minority, no galling recollection of social injustice, no idea of retributive revenge, no preventive caution against anticipated superiority, can either warrant or compensate a violation of righteous principle, or an abandonment of equal and general justice, in the intercourse of men.
If our views and distinctions of civil society, and of the Christian's position and duty as a member of the community, be founded on the principles of eternal justice and truth, and are congenial with the avowed spirit and design of Christianity, it will follow that any attempt to subvert or resist their application in municipal or national government, will be prejudicial to the character and interests of society and religion,—that which disorganises the scheme will prevent the certain and practical operation of the whole apparatus. When the basis of all order and social confidence is undermined, not only is the frame-work of the social constitution rendered insecure, and the purposes of its arrangement frustrated, but power which had been created and yielded up, and influence and office which had been conceded for mutual benefit, become the means of tyrannical oppression, injustice, and individual suffering and persecution. Reciprocal confidence is withdrawn, internal discord and personal jealousies embitter society; the resources of the community are fruitlessly wasted, the energies of the nation enfeebled, their enterprise and ardour employed for division and controversy,—the strong rods are broken, the cords are loosened, — there is no banner for the people, and the ruler beareth the sword in vain. If religion, under such circumstances, has been at all recognised, its sanctions have been desecrated or defied, its ordinances polluted, its character defamed, its authority and obligations perverted,—and instead of being the righteousness which exalteth a nation, it has become in truth an accuser of the guilty, to confront whose charges, or escape whose censures, men must either harden themselves in crime, or cloak their designs by hypocrisy and cant. The habitual dishonour thus done to religion, besides weakening its influence, and bringing obloquy on its name, must necessarily incur the judicial and retributive displeasure of God. In civil matters, the cause of decay or derangement may not be discovered by state physicians and political advisers. Minor abuses may lead to greater evils; the impetus may gradually be accelerated, and the danger aggravated, till they appear remediless,-unrestrained injuries will surely accumulate, till a calamitous and complicated malady pervade the whole body-politic, and the vices become so desperate, as to withstand all attempts at relief; and so far as the character of religion is seemingly involved, and its interests are pleaded as the apology, that which should be the anti
CONSEQUENCES OF MISGOVERNMENT.
dote, will prove a bane and curse to society; the first wrong, or incipient injustice, will not alone be charged to the system to which its existence is ascribed, but every successive affliction, every supposed injury, every individual hardship, will be traced to the same detested source; every motive that is corrupt, and every reproach which brings dishonour, will be heaped on that which should be held sacred, and esteemed the blessing of heaven to man.
Where we find social intercourse disturbed - civil government weakened and distracted —its operations unpopular and injurious — the people alienated from their rulers--the interests of religion depressed, and its cause impeded—the cultivation and enlargement of the human mind retarded — and, it may be, philosophy in her purest character neglected, or used only as a handmaid of sordid avarice and blind bigotry—we may anticipate, with some confidence, that the principles which we have endeavoured to discriminate and express in the preceding observations, have been violated and disrcgarded; for such are the evils which originate in the abuse of a just and wise economy. There is something characteristic of a wilful and wanton sacrifice of righteous principles of legislation and government, in the systematic and persevering abuse which continued to be heaped on political economy, and the liberal and enlightened men who laboured to disseminate philosophical and correct views on the subjects of parliamentary, municipal, and judicial reforms. These martyrs for scientific and abstract truth, for political justice, and cheap government, have the pleasure of having witnessed an extensive revolution in popular opinion. Their discussions and labours have not been in vain; but they have only served as pioneers for a nobler cause--they have paved the way for more important changes-their place is now filled, and they have been succeeded by re
formers in ecclesiastical polity, whose exertions must embrace subjects of higher and more permanent interest. Religious and eternal concerns must now be regarded.
The varied forms of religion which have been baptised by the name of " Christianity," are as heterogeneous and contrary as are truth and falsehood, light and darkness, and as incongruous as are the characters and habits of the nations to whom the designation has been applied, or the climates to which its geographical limits and lines of demarcation have been extended. It is well for the religion of that blessed Name, that a primitive and undisfigured image of it is retained in its own hallowed shrine, upon which no axe or hammer, or graver's tool, has been lifted to fashion or adorn it; clothed in the vestments of heavenly purity, and the majesty of divine light, we may behold in the ark of our covenant—the New Testamentthat true messenger of God's mercy. But had the world been deprived of this invaluable representation of the mystery of godliness, then the court, the councils, and the breviary of papal Rome, with all the incoherent superstition of her worship, all the assumption and authority of her clergy, and all the secularity and tyranny of her spiritual dominion, might have been mistaken. Then the pomp and splendour, the lordly revenues, the liturgy, the canons and the communion, the graduated hierarchy, the domination and monopolising spirit of English prelacy, her sacerdotal and episcopal dignitaries, her spiritual lordships and ecclesiastical barons, her canonical laws and courts spiritual and ecclesiastical, her cathedral wealth and diocesan officials, her state pageantry, her national communion and power in high places—all being called Christian, might have warranted the conclusion, that the kingdom of Christ is of this world; that to promote his kingdom, his servants fight, and his subjects are not lovers of the truth. But for this mild, benignant, and instructive image of a Saviour's love, this pure, bene