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The term righteousness, is of vague import. It is applied both to God and man. Either the justice or the mercy of God is his righteousness. The Lord Jesus Christ is our righteousness, when we receive him by faith, as our Saviour. The just and benevolent deeds of men, are also their righteousness; and when those principal virtues are generally practised in a nation, they constitute the righteousness of that nation.

Hence some understand the author of the text to say, "Righteousness exalteth a nation; and the beneficence of nations is their expiation." There cannot be a more pleasing or a more just observation. According as nations exercise mercy, compassion and justice towards others, they will obtain the favor and protection of God.

It is agreeable to consider the expression in this view, in an age, when, however defective we may be in the estimation of severer moralists, there can be no doubt, that the high virtues of benevolence and humanity shine forth among us, with a distinguished lustre. For which we may hope, the God of compassion will still look with a favorable eye upon our land, protecting us with his mighty arm, and blessing us with his fatherly kindness.


Righteousness is taken in a larger sense, for an exact conformity of heart and life, to the will of God made known, either through the medium of his works, or written word. Those who are favored with the latter, are not at liberty to make the former the standard of their righteousness; since the volume of reve lation carries our views farther than the volume of na ture, and is a more perfect rule of duty.


The righteousness required in revelation, is of two kinds-the first relates to God, the second to our neighbor. The first branch of this righteousness,

subdivides itself into what we are to believe concerning God and a future state, and what actions we are to perform towards Him as our Lord and Saviour, We are required to trust in him, with an entire confidence, love him with all the heart, worship him in spirit and in truth; and glorify him in our bodies and spirits which are his.

The second branch of this righteousness, consists in that upright moral conduct, which we are bound to observe towards one another, in this world.

This requires, that we consider the relations we hold to our fellow creatures, and that we carefully ob serve the duties required by these relations. Render therefore to all their dues; tribute to whom tribute is due, custom to whom custom, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor, and that not for wrath, but for conscience sake. The same rule of righteousness requires also, that rulers be just, ruling in the fear of God, that they love mercy and hate covetousness. It teaches the relation and duties between ministers and their congregations, parents and children, masters and servants, and between neighbor and neighbor. It goes farther still, and requires a universal exercise of justice and benevolence, and that we conduct toward all mankind as we would that others should conduct toward us.

Christian morality is a very different thing from heathen morality; not only as the standard is more

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elevated, but also, as it is enforced by additional authority and motives.

That righteousness which exalteth a nation, must be a national righteousness; and to constitute a national righteousness, this must be the character of the government, or of the body of the people, or of both. Indeed, there is such a connection between the government and the people of every nation, especially where the government is elective, that it is difficult to consider, how either can possess an exclusive righteousnes. That righteousness therefore, which exalteth a nation, must be common to the government and the people. But righteousness is found in different degrees, whether we consider individuals or nations. There is an infancy, a manhood and maturity, in this science. Righteousness is so connected with, and dependant on knowledge, that it can never extend beyond it. There is need of higher attainments in this divine science; and this should kindle in our hearts a desire to know more of the character and attributes of God, of the nature and wants of our fellow creatures, and the means of pleasing him and serving them. There is a close connection between righteousness and prosperity. We have seen this exemplified in numerous individual cases, and it is just as true of nations as of individuals. It is not meant, that a righteous nation, any more than a righteous individual, will always be in prosperity; that it will never feel affliction from God, pr the rod of a foreign oppressor. God may have motives for dealing with nations, in this respect, as with individuals. But when he does so, he will ab

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ways overrule the evil, for the good of the afflicted or oppressed nation. Afflictions are intended, not only to reclaim the vicious, but to preserve the virtuous, and make them more virtuous. This is true of nations; and therefore, it is universally true, that righteousness exalteth a nation, that it has a direct tendency to promote its internal peace, prosperity and glory; while unrighteousness has a direct tendency to dishonor and ruin. The progress either way, may be swifter or slower; but it is sure. The proposition therefore, which I would illustrate at present, is this, Righteousness has a tendency to promote the prosperity of a nation.

1. Righteousness will strengthen the bonds of society, and diminish the danger of revolution and anarchy. Government was made for a state of society, and without government, society cannot exist. Were mankind as innocent as the first man, when he came out of the hand of his Creator, it is probable, that human government would not be useless; but in the present state of society, even when society is the most virtuous, government is indispensable. Human governments secure advantages, in proportion to the goodness of their constitutions, and the justness of their administrations. In a good government, there should be a separation of the legislative and judiciary power; and a division of the legislative into, at least, two chambers. These are essential provisions. "This last, although not new in itself, yet seems to be new, in its application to governments wholly popular. The Grecian Republies knew nothing of it; and in


Rome, the checks and balances of legislative power, such as it was, lay between the people and the senate. Indeed, few things are more difficult than to ascer tain accurately, the true nature and constitution of the Roman commonwealth. The relative power of the senate and the people, the consuls and the tribunes, appears not to have been, at all times the same, nor at any time, accurately defined or strictly obeyed."*

It seems to have been reserved for the people of this country, successfully to divide representation into chambers; and to establish the necessary checks in governments, altogether elective. Our government is really and practically a free government. It origin. ates with the people, and rests solely on their will. It has been thought, that a government so constructed, would not be able to act with sufficient energy, in times of great emergency. Such times we have had, since the organization of our government, and have had no cause to be dissatisfied. Indeed, every thing in this country, is favorable to, and requires such a form of government, as that which we have adopted. The great equality in the distribution of property, the state of general intelligence, the habits of the people, and above all, I trust I may say, the general state of morals, not only require, but are favorable to the continuance of our excellent form of government.

Although it is sufficiently evident, that, to render any form of government desirable, it must be founded on property and interest; for otherwise, the people will sit uneasy under it, and will take the first oppor* D. Webster's Discourse at Plymouth.

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