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those rights. Not only under monarchical and despotic, but even republican governments, those entrusted with the execution of the laws may be corrupt and venal, and, by their partial or sordid dispensation of justice, fail to extend protection to the people. In these circumstances the people are made to mourn. There is ground for apprehension that those who occupy the chief places of power, are, for the most part, men of aspiring ambition or covetous of gain; who are less solicitous for the welfare of the community, than for their own aggrandizement. They study the politics of party rather than the code of morals; they are more intent on place, than on the principles which confer dignity on official station. How much more honourable for themselves, and beneficial to the community, if a pure sense of justice dictated every official act, and their high aim was to "rule in the fear of God." If in the civil compact, the people are required to render encouragement, support, and obedience to their rulers, they, in turn, have a right to expect protection of property and person, and security in their religious worship. A good government will protect both classes of rights.
If a ruler be selfish and ignorant; if he be venal; if, in judgment, he have respect to persons rather than principles; if he be influenced by falsehood or flattery; if he tolerate the wicked and suffer crime to go unpunished; then it must be, as it always has been, even before the days of Solomon, that the people will be oppressed, and the prosperity of the nation retarded, if, indeed, its existence be not endangered.
It is a high privilege, my soul, to have thy lot cast in a land of gospel light and liberty, and "to sit under
thine own vine and fig tree, there being none to make afraid." Religious liberty is an inestimable privilege, and so is the right of worshipping God according to the dictates of an enlightened conscience. To secure and perpetuate such rights, let thy constant prayer to God be, that the rulers of the land may be men after "God's own heart," who shall rule in righteousness, and in full view of the account which they are to render to the Judge of all the world.
dom be unto thy soul; when thou hast found it, then there shall be a reward, and thy expectation shall not be cut off.
Hear counsel, and receive instruction, that thou mayest be wise in the latter end.
Apply thine heart unto instruction, and thine ears to the words of knowledge.
Buy the truth, and sell it not; also wisdom and instruction, and understanding.
My son, give me thine heart, and let thine eyes observe my ways.
The wise in heart will receive commandments: but a prating fool shall fall.
Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be yet wiser: teach a just man, and he will increase in learning.
FOOLS hate instruction. This is their characteristic. However ennobling the acquisition of knowledge; whatever sources of intellectual and spiritual enjoyment it may open up; or however salutary it may prove, it has no charms for them, and no influence in arousing them to exertion.
Docility, on the other hand, as it implies a willingness to be taught, is the evidence of a better state of mind and heart. Neither human nor divine knowledge is to be acquired, unless there be a disposition to sub
mit to instruction, and a patient and persevering application of the faculties with which the mind is endowed. Difficulties are to be encountered and overcome by resolute determination, and the toils of study are to be endured, before the treasures of knowledge can be acquired. In matters of human science, no one can expect to become learned, but by patient study; and the sphere of knowledge is to be enlarged only by gradual accessions. It is equally true, although in this case not so generally understood, that a knowledge of spiritual things is not to be acquired by intuition or inspiration, but by the blessing of God as the reward of the diligent.
There must first be an humble and teachable disposition, and then a sedulous use of the means which the providence of God has placed within our reach. The intelligence of a Christian must bear some proportion to his assiduity. He must "apply his heart," hear God, "watching daily at his gates," "love instruction," "search the Scriptures," and withal seek for heavenly illumination, before he can attain to a just self-acquaintance, extract the precious ore from the inexhaustible mines of the written word, and acquire that excellency of wisdom, which consists in the saving knowledge of the true God, and of Jesus Christ whom he has sent.
Thus, my soul, thy Creator and Benefactor, instead of leaving thee in impenetrable darkness and ruin, has caused the true light to shine, by which thy pathway to heaven may be clearly discerned. Sensible of thy ignorance, and willing to be taught, apply thyself to instruction, and with a docile spirit sit at the feet of Jesus and learn from his lips. He can disperse the
clouds which overshadow thy understanding, remove the film which obscures thy vision, and make thee wise unto salvation. Listen to his gracious word, attend on his ordinances, follow the dictates of his Spirit, and in heart commune with him constantly, and then shall thy path be like that of the just, which "shineth more and more unto the perfect day."