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judgment in the one than in the other: all is drowned with noise, and lost in the confusion of a storm. And herein we may view the difference between the power of government and the power of the people : for the power of government is ordained of God, and supported by his providence, to still that storm, and prevent that confusion, which the power of the people raises. The one is the only remedy against the other. The one is the gift of God to a nation that serveth him; the other is his curse upon the disobedient who are departed from him. And as there is not a sight more agreeable to the goodness of God, and the sense of all wise and good men, than a nation well appointed under good laws, and strict authority, and unanimous in exerting their strength under their lawful leader, for their common defence against their enemies: so is there not a spectacle upon earth more desirable to the devil, than the dissolution of law and authority, and the breaking of national power by the mercenary jarrings and contentions of opposite interests and factions. The disobedience which arises from civil dissention is a mother sin, which brings forth a brood of vipers. Where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work. And that this shall prevail more and more, and rise to a tremendous height in the last times, so as to unsettle the world, and keep men in a miserable state of fear and suspense, is not only to be expected from what the scripture hath intimated, but from the state and temper of the world in this respect; which it behoves us impartially to consider.
When the Reformation took place in Europe, many tares were sown among the good grain of that time; and one of the most pernicious was the claim of what is called liberty; a very good word, when taken iu a
good sense; but used of old as a cloak of maliciousness, and always most affected by those who were themselves the servants of corruption. The thing recommended at first was religious liberty; and the notion stole into the hearts of men, because it seemed to be a necessary remedy against the odious abuses and en. croachments of the church of Rome. However, even in this sense, fearful were the effects of it, when fanatics took it up, and acted in virtue of it, as their own wild imaginations directed; which is abundantly confirmed by the history of the Anabaptists in Germany, and such like people. But of late years, men have taken another monstrous stride ; and, from asserting religious liberty, against the Pope, have gone on to claim a natural liberty, against all kings and rulers; with an equality of right in every man that is born to power and property. This they never could do as Christians, or men of common sense ; so they have assumed the new name of philosophers; under which they set up a new religion of their own, with doctrines opposite in every article to those of Christianity.
The learning which is called classical is necessary to scholars, and hath many eminent uses; but the vain affectation of it is always dangerous. This it is which hath induced many amongst us to emulate the furious spirit which prevailed in heathen patriots; and to admire that most which was worst amongst them. They have little to say of the peace and splendour of the Augustan age, when men of greatest genius were loyalists; of the greatness of the empire under Trajan; its conversion under Constantine; its order and jurisprudence under Justinian: but their favourites are the savage Brutus, the sneaking Vale
rius, the perfidious assassins of the great Cæsar; and
; such like saints of the true republican spirit.
The times of this world have shewn to us three sorts of people professing religion. 1. The believers and followers of God's revealed worship. 9. The
2. practitioners of heathen idolatry. 3. The wise men of Nature, whose doctrines are many, and whose worship (if any) is from themselves. Of these three, the last are undoubtedly the worst. The Heathens, when they fell into idolatry, retained many traditionary notions, which were still near to the truth, and had some of its effects in civil society. But these last are utterly contrary to God and man; and their-opinions will consequently produce more absurdity, and extravagance, and violence, than was ever seen in the world before. Their favourite doctrines seem to be these: that where government is concerned, man is born with a right to think and act as he pleases; that all authority in others is a dangerous imposition upon ourselves; and that the property of others belongs equally to us, if we can get it.
, we can get it. To all which, there is not a thief in the precincts of the metropolis, who will not readily subscribe, and who, consequently, will not contribute his influence, and give his personal attendance, when a standard shall invite him, and give him an opportunity of putting his principles in practice.
We have all heard what terrible effects the false principles of the last century produced in this kingdom; and we have had a fearful specimen of the like, of very late years; which, with the blessing of Providence, and an exertion of the still remaining power of government, lasted but a few days.
In the British colonies of America, subjects who
were peaceable, happy, wealthy and prosperous, changed on a sudden into discontented insurgents. A wild spirit of independence prevailed; and, by the just judgment of God upon a profligate mother, and untutored children, succeeded; for a fatal precedent and encouragement to other wicked, discontented people. Much sooner than we could have expected hath the contagion spread itself to a neighbouring country; and wliat is very striking, and hath been generally noticed, the same person whom they employed against the peace of this government, is the leader in their own disturbances. Their situation, by all true accounts, hath been dreadful and lamentable; as that of every nation must be under the like circumstances. While the laws are in force, a man's house is his castle; and his life, and fortune, and character, are secured to him: but when a lawless multitude is afloat, the best members of society are at the mercy of the worst. Every man is a convict, when his enemy is his accuser, judge, and executioner. There are no rays of mercy from a throne to save the head of the unhappy victim from being made a spectacle upon a pole; no lawful force to protect his stores from being plundered, his lands laid waste, his buildings burned and demolished.
Now, when we hear these things, what are we to think of them? We have teachers at home, who are glad of what hath happened; who inform us, that
, these are the efforts of freedom; that murders and massacres are among the sacrifices proper to such an occasion; i, e. due to the idol of liberty, that Moloch which must be worshipped with human sacrifices; and that they hope to see the same incendiary spirit extend itself to other peaceable countries of Europe: in other words, they hope to see distress of nations with
perplexity; encouraging the sea to rage, and the waves to roar and toss themselves, and exceed the just bounds which God hath appointed. If these evils should spread, and the like infatuation should prevail in other nations, the whole habitable world would be a theatre of desolation, a field of blood. The evils arising from such experiments are endless; the gogd to be expected from them is of a very equivocal nature; and the method of obtaining it is very unpromising. If the philosophical politician, from what we know of him already, were to model nations to his own wish, the world would be in a very vain, ignorant, corrupt, and, in many respects, a very miserable state. If all the jewels of imperial authority were thrown into the fire, nothing better than a calf would come out of it.
Popular tumult and division were the curse of the heathen world for many ages, when false liberty was become the object. The apostle St. Paul describes them full of envy, murder, and debate*: which was certainly the case with the republics of Rome and Athens. They were troubled with that proud restless jealousy of power, which threw them into perpetual convulsions. To the abolition of kingly government they gave the specious name of liberty, and pronounced a state free, if it had no king : not considering that the many may be tyrants as well as a single person, and that nothing can make a people free but the exercise of such a power as restrains them from making a prey of one onother. When the Romans put down their kings, they laid the foundation of a much greater and more extensive tyranny: and the celebrated orator of Rome, a professed admirer of republican government, lived to see such effects of
Rom. i. 29.