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S E R M O N
His Exc. SIR FRANCIS BERNARD, BARONET,
His HONOR THOMAS HUTCHINSON, ESQUIRE,
THE HON. HIS MAJESTY'S COUNCIL,
AND THE HON. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
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.
BY JASON HAVEN, A. M.
PASTOR OF THE FIRST CHURCH IN DEDHAM.
BOSTON, N. E.:
PRINTED BY RICHARD DRAPER, PRINTER TO HIS EXCELLENCY THE
GOVERNOR, AND THE HONORABLE HIS MAJESTY'S COUNCIL.
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.
Psalm lxxv. 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 people, And 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