1. Civil government was appointed by God to regulate the affairs of men. Israel of old receive laws, both of the civil and religious nature, from the great legislator of the universe. This is evident to all who are acquainted with sacred or profane history. He removeth Kings, and seteth up judges, Daniel 2:21. Thou shalt in any wise set him king over thee whom the Lord thy God shall choose, Deuteronomy 17:15. St. Paul, to enforce obedience to magistracy, points to the origin of civil power, Romans 13: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whoever, therefore, resiteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God. For he is the minister of God to thee for good. Every appointment of the Diety is favorable to religion and conducive thereto, as there is no other object worthy [of such] divine attention; to suppose otherwise would be and highest reflection on the character of God.
2. When we consider the obvious and for which civil government was instituted, it is easy to see that it is designed to support virtue. To suppress vice and immorality — to defend men’ s lives, religion and properties, are the essential constituents of a good government.
The wickedness of the human heart is so great, that it needs every restraint. To oppose the impetuous torrent of iniquity; dehumanize the soul, and to conduct men in the way of Felicity, are objects to which the laws of God and those which are commonly called the laws of men to mutually point. Without allies an interest are defended, how can we practice piety? Human laws, as well as divine, due in a sense respect the heart. The criminal is punished for his enormities, by the hand of the civil magistrate, because they are considered a showing from about heart. To say that an institution tends to maintain order, justice, and the rights of men, or that it is favorable to religion, or expression synonymous. Although the government of the commonwealth has a particular and a more immediate respect to the temporal interest of men, yet there is a higher object which they stand related, and that renders them important.
3. Further light will be cast on the subject by attending to the qualifications and work of the civil magistrate, as given in the word of God, from which we derive the institution. The character acquired in any possession, what wants to determine the end and design of it. 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. II Samuel 23:3. The character of a statesman is drawn by the pen of unerring wisdom, Deuteronomy 17. And it shall be a citizen upon the throne of his kingdom, they shall write him a copy of his law and a book, out of that which is before the priests, the Levites. And it shall be with him, and he show read therein all the days of his life: that he may learn to fear the Lord his God, to keep all the words of this law, and the statutes, to do them: that his heart be not lifted up above his brother in, and that he turned not to right hand or to the left.
The Hebrews have recorded thus, when the king sitteth upon the throne of his kingdom, he is to write him the book of the Law himself, beside the one which is left him by his father, etc. If his father has left him not, or if that it be lost, he is to write him two books of the law, the one is to reserve in his house, for so he is commanded. The other is not to depart from before him. If he thought the war, it goeth with him; if he sit in judgment, it shall be with him, etc.” Maimonides treatment of Kings. See Ainsworth’s annotation.
This book contained what is commonly called the law of Moses, giving directions about civil and religious affairs: this shows that the lawyer should concern himself with the sacred oracles, and that his profession is favorable to religion. St. Paul further informs us, that rulers are not a terror to good work, 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. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, or avenger to execute wrath, upon him that doeth evil. Romans 13. The design of civil government is in the best manner answered when Kings are nursing fathers, and queens nursing mothers the church of God, Isaiah 49:23.
4. Were we to compare those countries and places where wholesome laws exist, and are executed, with those that are without them, we shall find the contrast raking. Where there are no laws, no subordination, their licentiousness and barbarity hold their empire, and like a malignant fever diffuse their baneful influence without restraint. Everyone that is acquainted with sacred or other histories, knows the propriety of that remark, were we to advert to our own experience, we have the clearest conviction. Is it not the case in general, the contempt of the good laws of the land, and impiety are inseparable companions?
We have recent demonstration, that civil authority is in some sense, the basis of religion, and have too much reason to adopt the language in the text, If the foundations be destroyed, what shall the righteous do? It is far from my intention to appear in the habit of the partisan, or to stimulate dissension on an occasion like this, what point you to the unprecedented conduct of a foreign power, as witness to the truth of the conduct under consideration. To exaggerate matters I have no inclination, nor to wound the tender feelings of humanity by tedious detail of French enormities. To pursue their lawless ravages would be to trace the cool exploits of a bloodthirsty Hannibal, or merciless strides of an imperious Alexander. Near 20 villages in Germany have become a sacrifice to the vengeance of a more than savage army. Switzerland, Geneva, (the latter, a place remarkable for their religion and good order) have fallen victim to their cruelties. The soothing words, liberty and equality, were so dear to us, but we were hoping that true Republicanism was their object, and were almost the whole weight into the wretched embraces; but they leave not the least traces of it behind them. It is evidently the design to exterminate order in religion out of the universe, banquet on stolen property, give rules to the world, and so become the tyrants of the Earth.
“Ecclesiastics of every description, and particularly the professors of both sexes,” says a late German writer, “seem to be the chief objects of Republic when malevolence, immorality and cruelty; and which the soldiers were led on and encouraged by their officers.” That an abolition of religion as an object of the French insanity is to evident to be disputed; hence it is that they are inimical to civil authority, as they view it favorable to morality. We cannot mistake them, when we consider the contempt of the Holy Scriptures, their atheistic cold decisions, and they’re more than beastly conduct. Libertinism and Republicanism is most certainly their object. It is an inquiry worthy of attention, with a few years Revolution in France has not done more toward promoting infidelity, DSM, and all manner of was such as this, that half a century before. The near connection of religion with wholesome laws, or civil authority, is doubtless an extensible reason why the latter is so much the object of resentment. The contempt that these states have met with from the French Directory in their not receiving our envoys: their insolent in a Norma’s demands on our property — they’re blind and deceitful intrigues — their lawless deprivations of our commerce at sea, are sufficient to show that it is not peace, liberty and good order they are after, but to make himself sole arbiters of the world. Many have been caressed with the fascinating yell, Long live the republican! And open their gates to the French army, but have too late found their tender mercies to be cruelty, and themselves in the hands of the plundering banditti [bandits]. What outrages have been committed on the persons of old and young! Wives and daughters abused in the presence of their husbands and parents. Those in sacred orders, notwithstanding their age, illness and profession, derived from their beds, their houses pillaged, and they have been the chief objects of spite and detestation. Let many villages of Swabia in Germany witness to the truth of this observation. Such are the side effects of no law, no order, no religion; and if the foundations be destroyed, what shall the righteous do?