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THE GLORY OF A NATION.
PROVERBS XIV. 34.
Righteousness exalteth a nation.
SIN extends its influence over all the relations of life. It injures social enjoyment, domestic felicity, and national glory. By it a child is made to display the grossest ingratitude to his father; variance is produced between man and man, kindred of the same family; and a people are degraded to the character of rebels against their Sovereign. And yet sin prevails every where throughout our world. "The Lord looked down "from heaven upon the children of men, to "see if there were any that did understand " and seek God. They are all gone aside. They are altogether become filthy: there "is none that doeth good; no, not one"."
a Ps. xiv. 2, 3.
To this general corruption of mankind, the miseries of individuals, of families, and of nations are owing. The chief good, the true interest of each of these, is to be found only in the victory of truth over error, of holiness over sin. To assist men in gaining such a victory, and thus acquiring their chief good, we have "a sure word of prophecy," by which we can discriminate the one from the other in the first instance, and in the last, find the object which we desire. We have, moreover, men especially commissioned to declare from this word, in the name of the Lord, that it shall be well with the righteous, but ill with the wicked. And as the word which they are commanded to explain and defend, extends its directions so far as sin has extended its contaminations and injuries, they are under the most solemn obligations to apply this word to the various relations of life. Under the full impression of this truth, the text has been selected as suitable to this occasion.
We are assembled according to the recommendation of the General Assembly of our Church, to offer up "special prayer to the
b 2 Pet. i. 19. c Isai. iii. 10, 11 d Nov 14, 1811.
"Great Head of the Church, that he would
grant a plentiful effusion of his Spirit upon "our churches, and upon our country; that " he would accompany with his blessing his "word and ordinances where they are en
joyed; that he would raise up and send "forth a sufficient number of able and faith"ful ministers, to supply those destitute re
gions which are famishing for want of the "bread of life; and that he would prosper "all endeavours to extend the knowledge "and blessings of the Gospel to the Heathen " and the Jews, and fill the world with the glory of God." Unless it can be proved that these various objects are of importance to our families and to our country, as well as to ourselves individually, a grand motive to the observance of a day like this will be wanting. We utterly reject the principle, however fashionable, that the Church and State have no connexion. Believing that the latter needs the aid of the former, we cheerfully engage in the exercises of the day, because we know that if God answers our prayers for Zion, he will remember our nation and bless us. Your attention is there
e The Resolution of the General Assembly.
fore solicited to the following topics of dis
I. An explanation of the words "righteous"ness" and " exalteth," which are used in the text.
II. An illustration of the manner in which righteousness exalteth a nation."
III. The proofs which history affords of the truth, that "righteousness exalteth a na❝tion."
IV. An application of the subject suited to the present occasion.
May He who is the hearer of prayer meet with us and bless us, that his glory and the welfare of our country, the place of our "fathers' sepulchres," may be promoted.
I. The words" righteousness" and "ex"alteth," which are used in the text, require explanation.
1. Righteousness signifies, according to its primitive idea, full weight or measure. We are thus necessarily referred to a beam from which balances are suspended to ascertain weights, and a rule of proportion by which
e Neh. ii. 3.
f See Bate's Hebrea Critica, and Parkhurst's Heb. Lex. on the words and пps; and also Schleusner's Lex. on the word dixaloovyn.
measures are regulated. When the word is applied to men, we readily perceive that by it is meant such a conformity to some law which they are bound to obey, as answers all its demands. As human laws possess no authority any further than they agree with the law of God, it follows that we can in no other way be righteous, than by obeying that law. What then saith it? "Thou shalt love "the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and "with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. "This is the first and great commandment. "And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt "love thy neighbour as thyself. On these "two commandments hang all the law and "the prophets"." This is the only standard of right and wrong for intelligent creatures, in all the relations which they sustain, both towards each other and God. Conformity to this standard, in the discharge of the duties of these relations, constitutes them righteous. Hence we find, not only that they who comply with the great command of God in the Gospel", to believe on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, are righteous; but it is said, "He that speaketh truth sheweth forth right
g Mat. xxii. 37-40. h 1 John iii. 23. i Rom. iii. 22.