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Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people."
When Moses began his farewell address to the children of Israel, recounting the goodness and the mercies of the Lord towards them, rehearsing the statutes and the judgments which God had delivered unto them to keep, he especially used this argument, he appealed to their patriotism, he appealed to their national and loyal feelings, as a strong and prevailing motive to the keeping of the commandments of the Lord. Keep, therefore, and do them," were Moses' words of counsel: "for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the nations which shall hear all these statutes, and say, Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people." So likewise, the valiant and illustrious Joshua, when, after a splendid course of victory, he was "going the way of all the earth," "called for all Israel,
Deut. iv. 6.
and especially recommended to them, earnestly entreated them, to fear the Lord, and serve him in sincerity and in truth," because on such their obedience depended the continuing favour, the blessing of God upon them as a nation. "It shall come to pass," said this noble captain, “that as all good things are come upon you, which the Lord your God promised you: so shall the Lord bring upon you all evil things, until he have destroyed you from off this good land which the Lord your God hath given you when ye have trangressed the covenant of the Lord your God. Take good heed, therefore, unto yourselves, that ye love the Lord your God."
And true and adapted to the times as were these exhortations when originally delivered, they are no less true and worthy to be had in remembrance now by a christian people.
The importance, indeed, and the value
of such a precept as we read in our text, cannot be gainsayed or denied by a people professing Christianity, for it stands on the everlasting truth of the sacred word of God most holy! It is found in the same volume of inspiration wherein we read"Honour all men: love the brotherhood: fear God: honour the king."6 "Render to all their dues: tribute, to whom tribute is due; custom, to whom custom; fear, to whom fear; honour, to whom honour."7 If, my brethren, we fulfil not these and such like precepts, we comply not with, we neglect the commandments of God. And among what people soever a general neglect of such orderly and social conduct prevails, there requires not much foresight to pronounce that a people thus lawless and rude will never be distinguished or advanced in renown among the nations of the earth. Thus are our civil obligations, thus are our earthly duties, and the obedience we owe to God, intimately con
6 1 Peter ii. 17.
Rom. xiii. 7.
nected together; and the impudent despiser of the moral and social precepts of the Bible has no more right to be called a lover of his country, than he who takes part with her open enemies. Every man, indeed, who has the prosperity of his country at heart, should very seriously consider the importance and truth of our text, "Righteousness exalteth a nation."
Thanks be to God! there is yet found among us as a nation that degree of attention to the claims which religion has upon our time and thoughts, as declares, that as a nation we deny not the superintending providence of God, that we are neither so proud, nor so reckless, as not to desire the blessing of God upon our public actions.
Fitting is it, my brethren, that the subjects of the British empire should ever devoutly acknowledge and seek after the favour and protection of that great and holy Being, the Lord Almighty, "whose kingdom ruleth over all;" "by
whom kings reign, and princes decree justice;" and to whom belongeth" the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty: for (such was the pious and thankful acknowledgment of David) all that is in the heavens and in the earth is thine; thine is the kingdom, O Lord, and thou art exalted as the head over all. Both riches and honour come of thee, and thou reignest over all; and in thine hand is power and might; and in thine hand it is to make great, and to give strength unto all."
Doubtless, my brethren, this acknowledgment, this proper feeling and conviction of God's pervading power and superintending providence, are the impelling motives which induce our rulers and commanders to call in the aid of religion, to call for the sacrifice of prayer, when the spirit of loyalty, of devotion to our king and country, may naturally be supposed to be more immediately stirring within
8 1 Chron. xxix. 11, 12.