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But is this a state of nature? Was this the state in which the Lord of all things placed the noblest of sublunary beings, the heir of glory and immortality, when his own hands had formed and fashioned him, and he had breathed into him the breath of life? No, surely, it is a state the most unnatural in which rational creatures, made in the image of their Creator, can be conceived to exist; a state into which, through apostasy from revealed truth, and consequent loss of all knowledge, by the just judgement of God upon them, some nations were permitted to fall, and are suffered to continue, in terrorem to others. And does a master of reason, an enlightened philosopher in an enlightened age, send us to learn the first principles of government from Floridians, Brasilians, and Cherokees, because it is said that they have no kings, but choose leaders as they want them in time of war? Though such is the force of primeval institution, such the necessity of government, and such the voice of nature concerning it, that even in America. upon its discovery, some nations, as the Mexicans and Peruvians, were found in the state of the larger governments, which arose by conquest, while others, in the form of the lesser, were subject to the chiefs of their respective clans and tribes. Savages themselves cannot live in a state of absolute equality and independence. In civilized communities, a ship cannot be navigated, a regiment cannot march, a family cannot be holden together, without a subordination established and preserved. And was all government once dissolved, and the world really reduced to that state out of which civil polity is sup
posed to have originally sprung, it would be a scene of uproar and confusion, and a field of blood, till the day of the consummation of all things.
A long and uninterrupted enjoyment of blessings, is apt to extinguish in us that gratitude towards the author of them which it ought to cherish and invigorate; and justice is the less regarded, when she maketh these her awful processions through the land, preserving peace and tranquillity in our borders, because she maketh them periodically and constantly. Far different would be our sensations at such times, had sad experience ever taught us what it was to see government unhinged, to want the protection of regal power, and the due execution of laws by those to whom that power is delegated, "for the punishment "of evil-doers, and the praise of them that do well." The course of nature often glides on unobserved, when there are no variations in it; and the sun himself shineth unnoticed, because he shineth every day. "Since the time that God did first proclaim the edicts "of his law," says the the excellent Hooker, "heaven "and earth have hearkened unto his voice, and their "labour hath been to do his will. But if nature "should intermit her course, and leave altogether, "though it were but for a while, the observation of "her own laws; if those principal and mother ele"ments, whereof all things in this lower world are "made, should lose the qualities which now they 66 have; if the frame of that heavenly arch, erected "over our heads, should loosen and dissolve itself; "if celestial spheres should forget their wonted mo
tions, and, by irregular volubility, turn themselves
any way, as it might happen; if the prince of the lights of heaven, which now, as a giant, doth run "his unwearied course, should, as it were, through 66 a languishing faintness, begin to stand, and to rest himself; if the moon should wander from her "beaten way, the times and seasons of the year " blend themselves by disordered and confused mix"ture, the winds breathe out their last gasp, the "clouds yield no rain, the earth be defeated of hea
venly influence, and her fruits pine away, as child"ren at the withered breasts of their mother, no "longer able to yield them relief; what would be
come of man himself, whom these things do all "now serve?" and how would he look back upon those benefits, for which, when they were daily poured upon him in boundless profusion, he forgot to be thankful?
While, therefore, we partake, in so eminent a degree, the benefits of civil polity, let us not be unmindful of our great Benefactor. Let these solemn occasions serve to remind us, that there is an intimate connexion between religion and government; that the latter flowed originally from the same divine source with the former, and was, at the beginning, the ordinance of the Most High; that the state of nature was a state of subordination, not one of equality and independence, in which mankind never did, nor ever can exist; that the civil magistrate is "the "minister of God to us for good;" and that to the gracious Author of every other valuable gift we are indebted for all the comforts and conveniences of society, during our passage through this turbulent
scene, to those mansions, where, as violence is no more committed, punishment is no more deserved; where eternal JUSTICE hath fixed her throne, and is for ever employed in distributing rewards to her sub
jects who have been tried and found faithful.
THE PRODIGAL SON.
LUKE, XV. 32.
It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found.
THESE words conclude the parable of the Prodigal Son; a parable, for its variety of incidents, and the affecting manner in which they are related, remarkably beautiful, even in the letter of it. A younger son, gay and thoughtless, as youth often is, grown weary of being in the house and under the direction of a kind and tender father, desires to have his fortune consigned over to him, that he may go out into the world, and manage for himself. Having obtained his request, he immediately makes use of the so much wished for liberty and independency, quits the habitation of his father, and takes his journey into a far country. Here, falling into bad company and strong temptations, he found his good resolutions presently staggered; and his old principles not being firmly fixed, and having no support, soon gave way to a set of new ones, better adapted to the times, and the fashion of the country he was now in. Loose practices were the necessary consequences of