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bound to conform with absolute exactness: not generally and loosely only, but with respect to every jot and tittle. The personal conduct of the ruler is prescribed by the same laws, which direct that of his fellow-citizens. These laws, also, it is his duty faithfully and scrupulously to obey : a duty enforced by higher obligations, than those, which respect men in general; because he is fairly supposed to understand more perfectly the duty and importance of obeying ; and because in violating law, his evil example will weaken the government, and prompt others to the same violation, more than that of any private individual. The ruler, who violates the laws of the land, and yet attempts to compel, or persuade, others to obey them, labours, with the Da. naides, to fill with water a tub full of holes.

Concerning the king, whom God foresaw the Israelites would one day elect to govern them, Moses, by his direction, says to Israel, It shall be, when he sitteth upon the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write him a copy of this law in a book, out of that which is before the priests, the Levites; and it shall be with him ; and he shall 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 These statutes, to do them : that his heart be not listed up above his brethren; and that he turn not aside from the commandment to the right hand or to the left. Deut. xvii. 19, 20.

5. A Ruler ought to be a man of Piety.

That a ruler is bound to sustain this character by all the obligations, which are incumbent on other men, will not be questioned. I intend something more. A ruler is under peculiar obli. gations to sustain this character, beside those, which are common to other men. As a private citizen, he was under all the common obligations to sustain this character. As a ruler, he is under new ones. His duties are become more important, and arduous; and demand, in an eminent degree, the blessing of God to enable him to perform them aright. He has greater means of doing good put into his hands, and needs, in a péculiar degree, the divine assistance, to enable him to use them. If he should be left to unwise, or wicked, measures; they will be far more mischievous to his countrymen, than any thing, which he could formerly have done, when he was a private citizen.


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His personal conduct, also, cannot fail to be much more beneficial, or much more noxious, to his country, than if he had not been invested with a public character.

In accordance with these observations, the Scriptures inform us, that the rulers of Israel and Judah were eminent blessings, or eminent curses, to the people, over which they presided. David, Jehosaphat, Hezekiah, and Josiah, are remarkable examples of the glorious influence, which a ruler may possess, towards reforming a nation, and rendering it happy. Jeroboam and Ahab are terrible proofs of the power, which a ruler may exert, to change a nation into a horde of profligates. What magistrate,

, except such as Ahab and Jeroboam, would not covet the character, and influence, of the four first of these princes? What man of common sobriety would not shrink with horror from the thought of resembling the two last? But the four first were men of exemplary piety: while the two last were impious beyond example.

At the same time, God usually blesses a nation for the sake of pious rulers: whereas an impious one cannot fail to become a

But all blessings are given in answer to prayer. Ask, and ye shall receive, is the only promise of good to man; involving the condition, without which, it is never promised. If rulers, then, would obtain blessings either for themselves, or their people; they, like all other men, must pray for them. But the sacrifice of the wicked, and of wicked rulers as well as of other wicked men, is an abomination to the Lord: while the prayer of the upright is his delight. Which of these men ought we here to suppose, that God will answer, and bless ?

6. A Ruler is bound to become a blessing by his Example.

The character of a good Ruler is forcibly, and perfectly, described by St. Paul, when he styles him a Minister of God, for good unto his people. This is his whole business; and, while

. he pursues it, he is acting in his only proper character. To form this character, every thing which I have mentioned, contributes, as an essential part. But every thing, which has been said, except what was observed concerning his personal obedience to the laws of the land, and his piety, respects his official duties. The observation, now to be illustrated, respects his


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conduct, as a man. As a man, he is peculiarly required to be an example of all the Christian virtues. Whatever he does, others will do, because he does it : and many more will imitate him, than if he were a private person. The weight of power, and the splendour of office, give to the example of the ruler, especially in an elevated station, an authority, a persuasiveness, a charm, which fascinates multitudes. If his example be virtuous; it will greatly discountenance, and check, vice; and greatly encourage, diffuse, and strengthen, virtue. If vicious; it will become pestilential; and spread contagion, decay, and death, through all around him. No man can be so great a blessing, or so great a curse, in this respect, as a ruler : and the example of every man in high office will invariably be either a public curse, or a public blessing. Jeroboam and Ahab were incomprehensible curses to the Israelites, through every succeeding age of their national existence. What man of conmon sense, in such an alternative, can balance a moment concerning the choice, which he shall make?

7. Every ruler, vested with the appointment of subordinate officers, is under indispensable obligations to select men of the very same character, which has been already described.

Moreover thou shalt provide, said Jethro to Moses, out of all the people, able men; such as feur God; men of truth; hating codetousness ; and place such over them, to be rulers of thousands, and rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens; and let them judge the people at all seasons. Judges and officers, said Moses to the Israelites, shalt thou make thee in all thy gates, which the Lord thy God giveth thee throughout thy tribes; and they shall judge the people with just judgment. Thou shalt not wrest judgment; thou shalt not respect persons ; neither take a gift; for a gift doth blind the eyes of the wise, and pervert the words of the righteous. Him, says David, speaking of this very subject, him, that hath an high look, and a proud heart, I will not suffer. Mine eyes shall be ipon the faithful of the land ; that they may dwell with me; he that walketh in a perfect way, he shall serve me.

He that worketh deceit shall not dwell within my house ; he that telleth lies shall not larry in my sight. These passages need no comVol. IV.


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ment. The voice of God has here determined this point in a manner, which cannot be misunderstood.

With this decision exactly accords that of Experience and that of Common sense. Subordinate officers are eyes, and ears, and hands, and feet, to their superiors in office. They are the means of furnishing them with the most necessary information ; that of the wants, circumstances, dangers, and sufferings, of the nation ; that of the real influence of governmental measures, whether beneficial or mischievous ; and, generally, all that, on which future regulations ought to be grounded. They are the immediate means of executing every law, and carrying into effect every measure of administration. Their own conduct, example, and influence, reach every neighbourhood, every fireside. Nations have almost always suffered incomparably more from a multitude of little tyrants, than from a single great one; and have been immensely more corrupted by a host of evil examples, than by a solitary pattern of wickedness, however great and splendid. In vain will the wisest, most upright, and most benevolent, ruler labour to promote public happiness; if he commits the administration of his measures to profligates and villains. It is, however, to be remembered, that a ruler will of course appoint to subordinate offices men, whose character corresponds with his own. A wise and good ruler, so far as his information extends, will choose none but wise and good men, to aid him in the business of governing. A bad ruler will find none, but bad assistants, convenient for his purposes.

8. 4 Ruler is under the highest obligations to be industrious.

Industry is the duty of all men, and pre-eminently that of a ruler. The various, complicated, and arduous business of governing demands the full exertion of all the talents, and the full employment of all the time, allotted to man. Persons in high offices, particularly, are bound to improve their talents by every well directed effort. They are under indispensable obligations to gain, so far as is in their power, the most enlarged, and exact, information of their official duties, and the best modes of discharging them; of the interests of the people, and country, over which they preside; of the means, by which their rights may bc


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most effectually secured; of the dangers, either at home, or abroad, to which they are exposed, and of the ways, in which those dangers may be averted; of the best means of private safety, and national defence; and, in a word, of all those measures, by which may be insured the safety, peace, good order, and universal happiness, of the nation.

On this information ought to be founded a course of unremitted industry in effectuating, by the most useful measures, all these great and good purposes. A weak and ignorant ruler may deserve pity: a lazy one can only merit abhorrence. Both are, of course, public nuisances. When God was about to punish the Jews, in a terrible manner, for their sins, he announced the alarming judgment in this remarkable prediction : Behold the LORD, the LORD of hosts, doth take away from Jerusalem, and from Judah, the stay and the staff ; the whole stay of bread, and the whole stay of water; the mighty man, and the man of war; the judge, and the prophet, and the prudent, and the ancient; the captain of fifty, and the honourable man, and the counsellor, and the cunning artificer, and the eloquent orator. And I will give children to be their princes; and babes shall rule over them. And the people shall be oppressed, every one by another, and every one by his neighbour. The child shall behade himself proudly against the ancient, and the base against the honourable. In the view of God, therefore, the loss of wise and able rulers, and the government of weak and foolish ones, such as indolent men in office always are, are both terrible judgments upon a nation, and severe inflictions of the divine vengeance upon guilt of no common dye.

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