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SERMON

PREACHED BEFORE

HIS EXC. SIR FRANCIS BERNARD, BARONET,

GOVERNOR;

HIS HONOR THOMAS HUTCHINSON, ESQUIRE,

LIEUTENANT-GOVERNOR;

THE HON. HIS MAJESTY'S COUNCIL,

AND THE HON. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,

OF THE

PROVINCE OF THE MASSACHUSETTS BAY,

IN NEW ENGLAND, MAY 31, 1769.

BEING THE ANNIVERSARY OF THE ELECTION OF HIS MAJESTY'S
COUNCIL FOR SAID PROVINCE.

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PRINTED BY RICHARD DRAPER, PRINTER TO HIS EXCELLENCY THE GOVERNOR, AND THE HONORABLE HIS MAJESTY'S COUNCIL.

1769.

AT a Council held at the Council-chamber in Boston, on Thursday, the first day of June, 1769,-present His Excellency the Governor in Council,

Advised and Ordered, That the thanks of the Governor and Council be given to the Rev. Mr. Jason Haven, for his Sermon preached yesterday, being the day appointed by the Royal Charter for the Election of Counsellors for the Province: and that Royall Tyler and Samuel Dexter, Esqrs. wait on him with the thanks of the Governor and Council accordingly, and in their name desire of him a copy of his said Sermon for the press.

A. OLIVER, Secretary.

SERMON.

PSALM 1XXV. 6, 7.

"For promotion cometh neither from the east, nor from the west, nor from the south but God is the judge; he putteth down one, and setteth up another."

By the light of reason and nature, we are led to believe in, and adore God, not only as the maker, but also as the governor of all things. In the same way we may be satisfied that it is agreeable to the divine will, that civil government be established among men, on principles equitable in themselves, and conducive to the common good. But in these points, revelation comes in to the assistance of reason, and shows them to us in a clearer light than we could see them without its aid. This is done by many passages of sacred Scripture, and by that which I have now read in particular; which, without a critical examination of its connection, or any labored comment on it, may lead us to consider-God's approbation of civil government-His agency in putting men into, and removing them from places of power-What views persons should have in seeking and accepting a part in governmentWhat rules should be observed in introducing men into officeHow those that are promoted should behave towards the peopleAnd how the people should behave towards them. The two former of these heads of discourse lie plainly in the words of my text; the others are natural inferences from them.

The first thing to be considered, is God's approbation of civil government among mankind. This might be argued from the dispositions and capacities which he hath implanted in human nature. By these, men are adapted to society, and inclined to associate together; and by associating, the happiness of each individual may be greatly improved.

By forming into civil society, men do indeed give up some of their natural rights; but it is in prospect of a rich compensation, in the better security of the rest, and in the enjoyment of several additional ones, that flow from the constitution of government, which they establish. Individuals agreeing in certain methods, in which their united force and strength shall be employed for mutual defence and security, is a general idea of civil government. These methods of defence being lawful and right in themselves, must be agreeable to the will of God "who loveth righteousness:" They must please Him who is "a God of order and not of confusion;" as they tend to prevent "confusion and every evil work," which otherwise would prevail, without restraint, among such imperfect

creatures as we are.

The state of things in our world, is evidently such as to render civil government necessary: But for this, life, liberty, and property would be exposed to fatal invasion. The lusts of men, from whence come wars and fightings, would not be under sufficient restraint. Their conduct would be like that complained of in Israel, when they had no king: "Every one did that which was right in his own eyes." Judges xvii. 6. Men would resemble the fishes in the sea, the greater devouring the less. This state of things as fully determines the will of God, who delights in the happiness of his creatures, in favor of civil government, as it could have been done by an express revelation. The voice of reason, in this case, is the voice of God.

But the will of God, as to this thing, is not only deducible from these reasonings: his word of revelation declares it." The powers that be, are " expressly said to be "ordained of God." Civil rulers are called "the ministers of God." And "he that resisteth them," is said to "resist the ordinance of God." Rom. xiii. 1, 2, 4.

But though God's approbation of civil government is so evident; yet he hath not seen fit to point out any particular form of it, in which all men are obliged to unite. This is left as a matter of free choice and agreement. Men have a natural right to determine for themselves, in what way, and by whom they will be governed. The notion of a divine indefeasible right to govern, vested in particular persons, or families, is wholly without foundation; and is, I think, as generally exploded at this day, by men of sober minds, as that of uninterrupted succession in ecclesiastical office, from the apostles of Christ, in order to the validity of Christian administrations.

"The most impartial disquisitions of this matter," saith an anonymous writer, "founded on the common sense and practice of mankind, have long ago convinced the wise and unprejudiced, that no individual, however nobly born, has a right over the

person or property of another, except only from mutual compact, entered into for general benefit; the conditions of which, are as obligatory on the governing, as on the governed parties. No man, in the nature of things, is any way superior or inferior to his fellow-citizens, but on such conditions, as they are supposed to have mutually consented to. It is only to prevent the confusion which riches, interest, or ambition might create, among persons equally qualified, that the sovereignty hath been settled in particular families. It is in regard only to conveniency, that the succession should remain uninterrupted, as long as it can be consistent with the good of the whole. But where this is infringed, dispensed with, superseded, the obligation is cancelled. The people are free, and may either choose a new form of government, or put their old, into other hands."

All nations have not chosen the same form of government : Nor can we determine that any one would be best for all. The different genius, temper and situation of nations and countries, may make different constitutions of civil policy eligible, as different temperaments in human bodies, and the different climates in which they are placed, require different methods of regimen.

The theocracy of the Jews doth not disprove this natural liberty of choice. That was no doubt a signal favor to that people, while it continued; and it was ungrateful in them to be so soon weary of it. Other nations were left to their liberty, to choose such a form of government, as they might think would best answer the end of all government, the public welfare; whether that of monarchy, aristocracy, or democracy; or a mixture of these. It is a mixture of these that our nation hath fixed upon : And this we are ready to think the happiest that can be. We may possibly be prejudiced in favor of it, because it is our own. Indeed we have less reason to think we are, since we have so many testimonies of strangers to its excellency. Besides these testimonies, we have had such proofs of its goodness, as are most convictive, those of experience. By it, "we have enjoyed great quietness, and important favors have been done to our nation."

In this form of government, power and privilege are happily united. They are wrought into its foundation, so that they cannot be separated, but by pulling down the pillars of it. Magistrates cannot exercise their power, without maintaining the rights and privileges of the people: And people cannot enjoy their rights and privileges, without asserting and supporting the power of magistrates. We have reason to be thankful to the great Founder of civil government, that under his influence, our nation hath agreed in this constitution, which hath already contributed so much to its happiness; and the important blessings of which, we hope, will flow down to the latest posterity.

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