Mr. Prentice's Election SERMON▪ May 28th. 1735.


Pure and undefiled Religion, the highest Obligation, and truest Glory of CIVIL RULERS.

A SERMON Delivered at Boston, In the Audience OF The Great and General Court or ASSEMBLY of the Province of the Massachusetts-Bay in New Englan [...], May 28th. 1735.

Being the Anniversary for the Election of His Majesty's COUNCIL for the Province.

By John Prentice, A. [...]. Pastor of the Church in Lancaster.

BOSTON: Printed by S. KNEEL [...]ND, Printer to the Honourable House of Representatives for D. HENCHMAN in Corn hill. MDCCXXXV.


ORdered, That John Chandler, Esq; and Capt. Ephraim Wilder, give the Thanks of the House to the Reverend Mr. John Prentice of Lan­ [...]ster, for his Sermon preached yesterday before t [...] General Court, and desire a Copy for the Pr [...].

J. Quincy, Speaker.
[Page 1]

An Election SERMON.

II. CHRON. xvii. 3, 4, 5, & part of the 6th. ver.
And the Lord was with Jehoshaphat, because be walked in the first ways of his father David, and sought not unto Baalim.
But sought to the Lord God of his father, and walked in his commandments, and not after the doings of Israel:
Therefore the Lord stablished the kingdom in his hand, and all Judah brought to Jehoshaphat presents, and he had riches and honour in abundance.
And his heart was lift up in the ways of the Lord.

THE great God that formed all things, and that preserveth them all, is Lord of all. He hath prepared his throne in the heavens, and his king­dom ruleth over all. He doth ac­cording to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth. He is the most high, that ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whom­soever he will. The inspired Psalmist informs [Page 2] us, That 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, Psal. 75. 6, 7. Asa king of Judah being put down by death, Jehoshaphat his son is set up, and succeedeth him in the throne; this we may see in the close of the foregoing chapter, and in the first verse of the chapter before us. As it was with the priests of old, concerning whom we are told in Heb. 7. 23. And they truly were many priests, because they were not suffered to continue by reason of death; So it is respecting civil rulers of what denominati­on soever: they have their predecessors and their successors. Jehoshaphat had three that went before him, and fifteen that followed after him in the king­dom of Judah. In the history of him, there are se­veral things worthy our notice & observation. The first thing we have an account of upon his accession to the throne in his father's stead is, His strengthening himself against Israel, ver. 1. against the king and people of Israel: Thus wise and prudent was he. He did not live securely and in a defenceless posture, and so as to become an easie prey to those that should at any time come out against him. But he took care to be in a posture of defence, and to main­tain his own dominions. He placed forces in all the fenced cities of Judah, and set garrisons in the land of Judah, and in the cities of Ephraim, which Asa his father had taken, as in ver. 2. Now follows the words of my text, in which we have Jehoshaphat's piety acknowleged and declared, or his religious reign spoken of to his praise. Also the Lord's re­warding the same several ways. But more parti­cularly in these words we may observe,

1. Jehoshaphat's PIETY. He was a man of true piety, of pure and undefiled religion. This cha­racter don't belong to all that sit upon Thrones, and [Page 3] that sway the Scepter; neither have we the like ac­count given of all the other Kings of Judah. All that rule over men are not men of religion; but He was. We are told ver. 3. He walked in the first ways of his father David. David was a man after God's own heart, 1 Sam. 13. 14. It is spoken of him to his singular honour after his death, that his heart was perfect with the Lord his God. And that he did that which was right in the eyes of the Lord, and turned not aside from any thing that he commanded him all the days of his life, save only in the matter of Uriah the Hittite, Kings 15. 3, 5. David's ways (in the ge­neral) we find highly commended in the scriptures, and set up as a standard. See 2 King. 14. 3. 16. 2. 18. 3. Not David but Asa, was the father of Jehoshaphat. So that instead of he walked in the first ways of his father David, it seems most proper to read thus; He walked in the ways of David, and his father's first ways. Asa's first ways were more exemplary, than those towards the latter end of his time; as may be seen in the history of him in the three foregoing chapters. Jehoshaphat followed David and his father Asa, wherein they followed God. He did not imi­tate his father in what was amiss in him, towards the close of his life. ‘'Tis good to be cautious (says one)* in following the best men, lest we step aside after them.’ Tho' it be commendable to walk in the way of good men, and keep the paths of the righteous; to imitate them in their goodness; yet it is not so to imitate them in their failings and imperfections.

Furthermore, We are told in ver. 3. And sought not unto Baalim. And in ver. 4. But sought to the Lord God of his father, & walked in his commandments, [Page 4] and not after the doings of Israel. He complyed with that command in Matt. 4. 10. Thou shalt worship the thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. He was not chargeable with idol worship; with worshipping hea­thenish or false Gods. It is said of him, That he sought not unto Baalim. We read frequently of Baal and Baalim in the scripture. Baal signifies Lord; and Baalim is plural, and signifies Lords. The false Gods of the adjoyning nations, tho' they were diverse, yet Baal was a name common to most of them. Now these he abhorred, he paid no religious homage and adoration to them. He did not acknowledge these, or own any dependance on them. He did not make his addresses to these, but prayed to and worshipped the portion of Jacob, who is not like them. He sought to the Lord God of his father; he worshipped and served the living and true God. He walked in his commandments, and not after the doings of Israel. We are told in Judges 2. 11. And the children of Israel did evil in the fight of the Lord, and served Baalim, and they forsook the Lord God of their fathers, which brought them out of the land of Egypt and followed other gods, of the gods of the people that were round about them, and bowed themselves unto them, and pro­voked the Lord to anger. They worshipped the golden calves which Jeroboam made and set up, 1 Kings 12. 28, 29, 30. But now Jehoshaphat did not disregard the commandments of God as Israel did, nor do after their doings: No; he worshipped the true God ac­cording to his own institution. He reverenced the divine law, and endeavoured to make others con­form to it: He reformed the worship of God; he took away the high places, and groves out of Judah, where they worship'd their idols; as in the latter part of the 6th. ver.

Once more it is said in the 6th ver. That his heart was lift up in the ways of the Lord. His religion was real; He was sincere and hearty in his obedi­ence. [Page 5] His heart was inlarged in the service of God. Psal. 119. 32. He was encouraged by the favour of God, the respect and affection of his people, in the service of God. He was vigorous & active therein; fervent in spirit serving the Lord. His heart was lifted up above discouragements and difficulties in the way of his duty. He was courageous and reso­lute in the ways of the Lord. Thus did king Jehoshaphat's piety shine. In the words before us we may observe.

2. God's rewarding him for his piety. God will not only gloriously reward his faithful servants in the world to come, (Rev. 2. 10) but he is pleased to encourage them in his service, and graciously re­ward them here. The Psalmist faith concerning the commandments or righteous judgments of God, in Psal. 19. 11. In keeping of them there is great reward.

It is said concerning Jehoshaphat in the text, That the Lord was with him because be walked &c. ver. 3. and then in ver. 5. Therefore the Lord stablished the kingdom in his hand, and all Judah brought to Jeho­shaphat presents, and he had riches and honour in abun­dance. Jehoshaphat was happy in the favour of God, and his gracious presence with him: God did not rend the kingdom from him, but stablished it in his hand. He interested him in the affecti­ons of his people: they gave him presents in token of their respect and subjection to him. He had riches and honour in abundance. Now tho' these things prove a snare to some, yet they did not to him. They were not improved by him, as fewel to the fire of his lusts, but as oyl to the wheels of his obedience, as we are assured in the last words of the text: And his heart was lifted up in the ways of the Lord.

[Page 6] The subject is evidently copious, and the words would admit of much more to be spoken from them, than the time will now allow of. I shall therefore mention only some things which are to be gathered from these words.

And the first Observation or Doctrine from them shall be this, viz.

DOCT. I. That it is to be spoken to the honour of some civil rulers, that they are truly religious; that they worship and serve the true and living God only, and walk in the ways of their pious predecessors, and imitate them in those things wherein they have been exemplary.

Here are three Heads, or Propositions, which I shall say something to distinctly.

PROP. I. There are some among men, that, ac­cording to divine institution and appointment, are civil rulers.

PROP. II. Some of these, are truly religious; they worship and serve the true and living God only, and walk in the ways of their pious pre­decessors, and imitate them in those things wherein they have been exemplary.

PROP. III and lastly. This is to the praise and honour of these civil rulers of whom it is to be spoken.

Something briefly to each of these in their order.

PROP. I. There are some among men, that accord­ing to divine institution and appointment are civil rulers.

[Page 7] Jehoshaphat was such a civil ruler: He was king of Judah. David also, spoken of in the text. And Asa the father of Jehoshaphat whom the text hath some reference to. These, and many others we have an account of in the sacred scriptures, were civil rulers among their people.

God the supream ruler, hath for wise and good ends appointed civil government among men. Ru­lers and ruled are distinctions of his making: This we may see in Rom. [...]3. begin. Civil government is burdensome: this is too great a burden to lie upon the shoulders of one man. It is needful therefore that more than one, be concerned and employed in it. Agreeable to this are the words of Moses unto Israel, in Deut. 1. 9. I am not able to bear you my self alone. And in the 12 and 13 verses, How can I my self alone bear your cumbrance and your burden &c.: Take ye wise men &c, and I will make them rulers over you. There are rulers of diverse denominations. We read of the King as supream, and of Governors as sent by him, 1 Pet. 2 13, 14. Of Counsellors, of Judges, and the like. According to the differing forms of government among men, so there are per­sons of differing denominations in the state, each of which have differing business assigned them, which it concerns them faithfully to attend. This is so plain, that I shall say no more here, for the con­firmation of this Proposition, but shall proceed to consider the second.

PROP. II. Some of these are truly religious; they worship and serve the true and living God only, and walk in the ways of their pious pre­decessors, and imitate them in those things wherein they have been exemplary.

[Page 8] Tho' all the kings of Judah were not truly reli­gious, yet Jehoshaphat was so [...]; as appears from the text and some other accounts given us of him in the chapter in which my text is, and in the 18, 19, & 20 chapters of this book. He walked in the ways of David, and in the first ways of his father Asa: He sought [...]t to Baalim, but sought to the Lord God of his father, and walked in his commandments, and not after the doings of Israel; his heart was li [...]t up in the ways of the Lord. He was a good king; he abhorred idols, and did not worship false gods as others, both ruler and ruled did. No; he worshipped the true God, and attended his institu­tions: He walked in his commandments: He yielded obedience, sincere, universal, and persevering obe­dience to God most high. Indeed he had his fail­ings and infirmities, as all good men have, yet his heart was engaged and enlarged in the service of God, and he reverenced the divine law in its lati­tude; he ruled in the fear of God, and endeavour­ed a compliance with his duty in his exalted sta­tion. He imitated his pious predecessors wherein they were exemplary to him. And as he was religi­ous himself, so he took measures to make his peo­ple so. He took care to root out idolatry from among them. He took away the high places and groves out of Judah, ver. 6. He sent his princes and with them levites and priests to teach in the cities of Judah; to teach the people in the truth and their duty. And these taught the people, as you may see in the 7, 8, & 9 verses of the chapter before us. Again we are told, that he brought the people back unto the Lord God of their fathers, that he set Judges in the land, and gave them a solemn charge to judge between man and man righteously, and in the fear of the Lord; to administer justice im­partially and faithfully, as we may see in chap. 19. Thus religious was he in his reign over Judah.

[Page 9] And as it was thus with him, so it is with some others that rule over men▪ they are found as they should be, just, and ruling in the fear of God, 2 Sam. 23. 3. David was a good ruler: His ways are spoken of in the general as a pattern; as hath been already hinted. He was a worshipper of the true God; he was a man of prayer; he sought God's favour with his whole heart; he walked in his command­ments; he did that which was right in the eyes of the Lord, and turned not aside from any thing that he commanded him, all the days of his life, save only in the matter of Uriah the Hittite: fore-cited 1 Kings 15. 5. But tho' some civil rulers are good, yet others are wicked, Prov. 28. 15. Some are rulers of Sodom, Isa. 1. 10. Some are charged with idolatry; they don't acknowlege the true God, neither are they obedient to him. It is some only in civil au­thority that may be said conscientiously to conform to the precepts of God, and to the examples that they have had for their imitation; and those that have done thus are worthy of applause and com­mendation; which makes my way to the last Proposition.

PROP. III. This is to the praise and honour of those civil rulers of whom it is to be spoken.

Religion cordially embraced, and discovered in the life, reflects honour upon those who enter upon a religious course, and continue evidently therein. To this purpose we may read in Prov. 4. 89. Exalt her and she shall promote thee, she shall bring thee to honour, when thou dost embrace her; she shall give to thine head an ornament of grace, a crown of glory shall she deliver thee. Such as honour God, he will honour, whilst they that despise him shall be lightly esteemed. Virtue and piety are dignifying where­ever they are conspicuous. Men are wont to praise [Page 10] others when they do well. We are assured in Prov. 14. 34. That righteousness exalteth a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people. Such as have the fear of God in their hearts, governing and influencing their lives, are esteemed and honoured by them that know their worth. The righteous is more excellent than his neighbour: and the religious man esteems him so, and doth him honour. The good man is spoken of in Psal. 15. 4. as one, In whose eyes a vile person is contemned, but be honours them that fear the Lord. Yea religion and virtue awe the ungod­ly, and oblige them to pay respect thereto, and to reverence such as appear just & holy. Mar. 6. 20. For Herod feared John, knowing him to be a just man and an holy.

This adds to the greatness of those that are in civil authority, and that set in the highest seat of it. This increaseth the glory of the throne, and the honour of him that sits upon it. This that is spoken of Jehoshaphat king of Judah in the text, is spoken to his praise: The account here is dig­nifying and honourable. And sure it is, when this comes into the character of any in civil rule among men, it is enobling, and serves to increase the worth of such, and to render them the more ho­nourable in the sight of the people. But I shall proceed no further in the confirmation of the Doctrine, but shall now make some improvement of it, before I proceed to a second Observation.

USE I. What we have heard tells us, That when the reverse of this is to be truly said of any in civil authority, it is very reproachful and disho­nourable.

If religion when found in the powers that be, adds much to their greatness and honour, it [Page 11] follows that where this is evidently wanting in those in civil authority, it is reproachful, and tends very much to the dishonour of such. Irreligion, a contempt of God and his laws, appearing in such, invites contempt from all thoughtful observers. How reproachful are those words in Isai. 1. 10.—Ye rulers of Sodom—What a shame is it when great men think the service of the true and great God below them, and so refuse to engage in it? And when they bow down to idols, and humble themselves? as some such are said to do, Isai. 2. 9. How re­proachful is it to any, and especially to rulers, who are obliged in their exalted station to be ex­emplary to those of an inferiour rank, to have it said of them, Having a form of godliness, but denying the power of it? How dishonourable is it to that civil Ruler to whom it may be truly said, as the prophet Elisha did to Ahab, Thou hast sold thy self to work evil in the sight of the Lord? 1 Kings 21. 20.

USE. II. See we hence, One motive to those in civil authority, to be truly religious; and worship and serve the only true and living God, and walk in the ways of their pious predecessors, and imitate them in those things wherein they were exemplary.

This will render them honourable, and occasion their being spoken in the praise of. I don't say that this is the only motive, or the main inducement to this; neither should rulers or others do what they do in religion, like the Scribes and Pharisees to be seen of men, and look no higher. But yet both rulers and others should improve the consideration of it, to excite them to be truly religious, inasmuch as this is one argument which the holy Ghost in the scriptures makes mention of, to stir men up to a compliance with their duty. It is needful that such [Page 12] be truly religious, in order to their own safety and happiness: It is needful in order to their be­ing publick blessings, in order to their doing of the duties of their several stations, and in order to their being serviceable by their example. The ex­amples that are set by those in civil authority, are wont to be influential on those over whom they are. See for this Jer. 44. 17. Evil examples set by those in civil authority, are like to be follow­ed by many. On the other hand, when rulers are remarkably religious, this hath a noble tenden­cy to make their people so, to restrain them from vice, and form them to virtue. These and other considerations there are to move those in civil authority to be religious. And this which is men­tioned in the doctrine, is not unworthy the consi­deration of such. Honour is indeed due to such, and it should be given unto them. Fear God, honour the king, 1 Pet. 2. 17. Now the more religious they are, the more honourable they are, and the more likely to have respect paid them, and honour done them by others.

And now, having been (beyond my expectation) desired to stand in this desk at this time, and to speak to this numerous audience on this occasi­on; it will not (I conclude) be look'd upon as im­proper for me to apply my self to several orders of men among us, some of which are here present before the Lord.

And the subject I have been upon, leads me to address my self in the first place to our civil rulers of one denomination and another. And will all these be perswaded, vigorously to endeavour to be of the number of those civil rulers, of whom it may be truly spoken to their honour as in the doctrine? to abhor idolatry and false worship, [Page 13] and to honour the true God, is the way to be honoured by him; to despise him is the way to be lightly esteemed: Thus we are told in 1 Sam. 2. 30. For them that honour me I will honour, and they that despise me shall be lightly esteemed. To be truly reli­gious, to walk in all the commandments and ordi­nances of the Lord blameless, and to imitate pious predecessors wherein they were exemplary; among many other advantages of it, this is one, namely, It is the way to be honourably and respectfully mentioned and spoken of. Now since this cha­racter is so honourable, let all our civil rulers be ambitious to have it justly given of them.

And inasmuch as the honourable person menti­oned in my text, was chief in the government of Judah, and since by the favour of God and the King, Your Excellency is chief in the government of this Province, it will not be offensive, but rather ac­ceptable, I presume, to have this royal pattern recommended to you, for your imitation.

The laws of God, the rules of religion are all holy just and good; they are admirably suited to advance the glory of God the great law-giver, and the interest of men, both high and low, rich and poor, bond and free, both singly and collectively considered: conformity to them are therefore highly reasonable.

There is nothing that doth more dignify even the chief ruler of a people, than unaffected piety, and undisguised religion; than a due acknowlege­ment of the true God, and a giving to him the glory that is due unto his name; than for such to discover a just abhorrence of prophaness and un­scriptural worship, a due respect to all God's commandments, and a conscientious and preserving [Page 14] obedience to them. What more commendable than for such to walk in the ways of David, and to imitate pious predecessors in those things wherein they have been exemplary? And we trust that it will be your Excellency's ambition to brighten your character in this way, yet more and more.

There are also, some other things besides those spoken of in the words of my text, in the reign of this pious king, that have been already hinted, that are worthy your consideration and imitation. As now: His concern and care to have his people well taught and instructed; as in the 7, 8, and 9 verses of the chapter: and to have them also pro­tected and defended; as may be seen in the latter end of the chapter.

Again, he was exemplary in his concern for the reformation of his people, and his bringing them back unto the Lord God of their fathers, from whom they had gone astray.

Again, he took care that controversies that arose among them might be rightly decided, and that justice might be done among them, and that with ease to his subjects. He set judges in the land throughout all the cities of Judah, city by city; and these he solemnly charged &c. These things are to be seen in the 19th chapter. And may your care, Excellent Sir, appear on all occasions, and your au­thority and influence be discovered from time to time about these things, and all others belonging to your exalted station, the tendency of which, may be to the honour of God and the king, the promoting of religion, the reformation, peace and prosperity of this people, your own peace and com­fort both living & dying, and a blessed memory after death.

[Page 15] And now in the next place I might say, that the Doctrine before us, is improvable by those concerned in the Election of this day, for their di­rection in the choice of Councillors. If it be so much to the honour of civil rulers to be truly re­ligious, it is plain that no little respect is to be had to mens religious character in the choice of them into places of government. If men are not truly religious, little great or good is to be ex­pected from them; if men don't fear God, they are not like duly to regard men. Indeed a good inclination and disposition is not the only needful qualification of a Councellor, but in order to a man's being an honourable Councellor, as was Joseph of Arima­thea, he must be a man of knowlege & understanding, of wisdom, prudence, courage and resolution, of truth, steadiness, loyalty and the like. Due care should be taken, not to introduce unqualified or irreligi­ous persons into so great a trust, but such whom you have reason to hope will act up to their dig­nity, and steadily prosecute all proper measures conducive to the honour of God and the King, to bring us back to the God of our fathers, to further religion and virtue among us, the welfare and prosperity of this people. This is reasonably expected from you; and your unanimity herein will be honourable, and discover you to be fathers to your Country, and under a becoming concern for the publick good.

I may now proceed to apply my self to my re­verend fathers and brethren in the ministry, to stir up their pure minds by way of remembrance: You know, that it concerns us, above all men, to be truly religious, that when we have preached unto others, we our selves may not be cast-aways; our interest, our honour, oblige us to be so. What man so contemptible as an irreligious minister▪ [Page 16] one evidently so? Such a one is odious to God, and the world. Such wound religion greatly, they encourage and embolden sinners in their evil ways; they shame and grieve the saints, highly offend God, and bring men to abhor the offering of the Lord. These were the sad fruits of the sin of the sons of Eli, 1 Sam. 2. 17. The guilt of such, and the danger they are in, are very great: Such build up and strengthen the kingdom of darkness instead of battering of it down, as they are by their office obliged to do. Our business is especially with the souls of men, and with theirs peculiarly that are committed to our care, and we should willingly spend and be spent for them. Our work is to pro­mote the spiritual and eternal interest of men; therefore to use our earnest and unwearied endea­vours to make them truly religious. Are we not the lights of the world, and the salt of the earth? Should we not instruct men in the truth as it is in Jesus? We are to preach the word; what we de­liver to our people should be that which we have first received of the Lord; yea we must not shun declaring the whole counsel of God. We should be afraid of being found blind guides; therefore should give our selves to reading, meditation and prayer, that our minds may be stored with right appre­hensions of things, that so these may be commu­nicated to our hearers for their advantage. False and dangerous doctrines are what are carefully to be avoided by us. Moreover it concerns us to know how to behave our selves in the house of God, to improve our talents, our seasons and opportu­nities to further the good of the precious souls that are committed to our care. We should magnify our office, and give none occasion to despise us; we should give no offence in any thing, that the mi­nistry be not blamed. It concerns us to be exam­ples to the believer, in word, in conversation, in [Page 17] charity, in faith, in purity. In the whole of our work we must have an eye to the glory of God, the good of souls; and lay out our selves for the conversion of sinners, and the edification of saints.

And should we not remember, that we are set for the defence of the Gospel, and that we are oblig'd to be valiant for the truth? And is there not occasion to bear in mind that charge, and should we not care­fully comply with it, Lay hands suddenly on no man? We should not rashly introduce into the ministry, the ignorant, the erroneous, the immoral, & the imprudent.

Moreover, Should we not be men of prayer? much, earnest, and persevering therein: Not only for our selves, but others also; and particularly for our ci­vivil Rulers, however denominated or distinguished. For Kings and for all that are in authority, that we may lead quiet and peaceable lives in all godliness and honesty. Are we not obliged to put our people in mind, to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, yea to be ready to every good work? Our obligation to this we may see in Tit. 3. 1. Should we not excite them to render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's?

In fine, it concerns us to take heed to the ministry that we have received in the Lord that we fulfill it, The time of some of us, is almost at an end, of all of us, is shortning continually, and after death is the judgment. It concerns us therefore to be diligent, industrious and faithful in our Lord's business, in ex­pectation of his coming, and as ever we would have it said unto us by him, Well done good and faithful servants, enter ye into the joy of your Lord.

I shall now apply my self briefly and more gene­rally, to the People of this Land; and so finish this Doctrine.

[Page 18] And what I have to offer shall be in a way of Counsel or Exhortation. O endeavour to become a reformed and truly religious People. To be truly re­ligious is not only the duty of civil Rulers, and the honour of those of them that are so; but it is incum­bent on those that are under them, and will be an honour to such as comply with it. The exhortation is not needless. It is undeniable that we need to be reformed. There is evidently much that is irregu­lar among us, and the dispensations of God in his Providence towards us bespeak this. Let us then amend our ways and doings that have not been right; and endeavour to become a truly religious People. Our fathers came into this Land on a reli­gious account. See we then to it, that we are not regardless of that (even pure and undefiled religion) which they were so concerned about, and were at such charge, and underwent so many difficulties and hardships, that they might enjoy. Verily our being a truly religious People will be pleasing to God, and for his honour and glory: It will be also honoura­ble to us. But if we are still a sinful People▪ this will be reproachful to us. According to that in Prov. 14. 34. forementioned. Righteousness exalteth a na­tion, but sin is a reproach to any people. Religion is our life, Deut 32. 47. and the revival of it will be our glory. This will engage the gracious presence of God with us, and will be rewarded with the smiles of God upon us. He will be with us if we are with him, 2 Chron. 15. 2. This will render us formida­ble to those round about us. We read in the 10th. ver. of our context, And the fear of the Lord fell upon all the kingdoms of the lands that were round about Judah, so that they made no war with Jehoshaphat. But if we will not be reformed by what God hath done to reclaim us, and will yet walk contrary to him, may we not expect that he will yet walk con­trary to us, and punish us yet seven times for our sins? [Page 19] According to that in Lev. 26. 23, 24. Yea if men carry irreligiously, will they not expose themselves to punishments from men? Civil rulers will be ob­liged to take notice of them, and to bear testimony against their evil conduct. To this purpose we may read in Rom. 13. 4. But if thou do that which is evil be afraid, for he beareth not the sword in vain, for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him th [...] doeth evil.

Let this People then endeavour to see and be con­vinced of the necessity and advantage of this; and the disadvantage of a non-compliance with this Ex­hortation; and endeavour a due improvement of di­vine ordinances and providences, to further the same. And let us humbly, earnestly, and perseveringly im­plore the plentiful effusions of the Spirit of grace, which are needful in order hereunto. Let every one take care of himself respecting these things, and consider how he is obliged in his place and relations to further them in others, and see to it that he doth not neglect his duty.

May we return unfeignedly to God from whom we have departed! Know and serve the God of our fathers with a perfect heart and a willing mind! And may we follow the good examples we have for our imitation upon record in the holy scriptures, and those of our predecessors in this Land! Yea let our ambition to be truly religious be excited by those shining paterns of piety and religion, which are yet (thro' grace) to be observed among us.

And I may add, Let none remain under deep secu­rity in their sins, & unconcerned about being truly reli­gious, whilst there are so many in several Towns disco­vering their great concern about the state of their souls, and are asking that all-concerning Question, What must I do to be saved?

[Page 20] But, this is all I shall say under the first Doctrine. The time will allow of but little more than mention­ing those that are yet to be spoken to.

DOCT. II. When those in civil authority are truly religious, God is won't to be with them, and to establish them in their authority.

When civil rulers are truly religious, when they duly acknowlege God, and pay those regards to him that are due to him from them; when they walk in his commandments, & imitate those that have done so be­fore them; when they put honour upon his governing authority, by a hearty universal & persevering obedi­ence to his perceptive will: God is won't graciously to reward their fidelity; signally to own & bless them. Was it not thus with Jehoshaphat? And the Lord was with Jehoshaphat because &c. therefore the Lord stablished the kingdom in his hand. The Lord was with him. This is a comprehensive expression; and denotes the gracious and favourable presence of God with him, and so is in­clusive of all that is good and desireable here. The Lord be with you! is a very extensive wish; abundance of good is comprehended in it. We read frequently of God's being with men both singly & collectively considered. Now this is an excellent prayer when made for others, and it is a very desireable assertion where we find it concerning any; as we do here in the text. If God be with men in the sense of the text, he is also for them? And if God be for them, who can be against them. If God be graciously and favoura­bly present with men, they are in the way to be protected, supported, guided, directed, assisted, quick­ned, encouraged & comforted: they are in the way to be blessed, and made blessings. Pious civil rulers, are won't to have God with them. Hear ye me Asa, the Lord is with you whilst you are with him, 2 Chron. 15. 2. forementioned. Such we find frequently spo­ken [Page 21] of as thus favoured of God. Wo [...]ul are the con­sequences of God's departing from or forsaking of men; and of those in civil authority: But very desireable is the condition of those with whom God is. And that he is won't to be with such as I have been speaking of, we may read further in what is said concerning that good King Hezekiah, in 2 King. 18. 7. And the Lord was with him, and be prospered whithersoever he went forth. And as God is wont to be with such, or to be gracious to them many ways, so he is wont particularly to establish them in their authority. Those that are stablished strengthn'd and settled in religion & virtue, and that walk in God's command­ments, he is wont to confirm and continue in their exalted stations. Thus it was with Jehoshaphat. Therefore the Lord stablished the kingdom in his band. ‘They stand firm (faith Mr. Henry) who have the presence of God with them.’ Such are not wont presently to be put down when set up by God. In­deed those are unfit and unworthy to rule over men, who are not willing that God should rule over them; and those are sometimes rejected by God. Such as are irreligious and disobedient, God in his Providence rends the kingdom from, and don't suffer them long to rule. See the words of Samuel to Saul, 1 Sam▪ 15. 23, & 28.—Because thou hast rejected the word of the Lord, the Lord hath also rejected thee from being king. And Samuel said unto him, the Lord hath rent the kingdom of Israel from thee this day, and hath gi­ven it to a neighbour of thine that is better than thou. Indeed, it is God's dominion only that is Everlasting. Civil rulers, the highest and best of them, must not always continue by reason of death. And such as serve their generation according to the will of God, as David that religious king did, must like him fall asleep. They must die, and be removed from their places of dignity and publick trust. Act. 13. 36. For David after he had served his own generation by [Page 22] the will of God, fell on sleep, and was laid unto his fathers, and saw corruption. These, tho' called Gods, yet are but men, they are mortal, as well as other men. Psal. 82. 6, 7. I have said, ye are gods, and all of you are children of the most high. But ye shall die like men, and fall like one of the princes. But notwithstanding this, such as stand in awe of God, and of his law, and conscienciously comply with it, and endeavour to answer the just expectati­ons of God and men; such as do their duty consi­dered as rulers of this and that order and dignity; such are wont to stand firm and unmoved; they are not wont presently to be put down from their seats. Such as are obedient to God, and faithful to the cause of God, and the interest of his people; such as don't misuse their power, betray their trust, nor sa­crifice the publick to a private interest, but put on, and wear righteousness as their Garments; as are a refuge for the oppressed, and a terror to the evil doer; these are wont to be established in their authority.

I pass now to some brief Improvement of this Doctrine.

USE. I. What we have heard looks favourably upon that people whose rulers are truly religious.

Those persons that are truly religious, don't de­sire to be so alone, but are desirous that others should be so also. The honour of God, and the good of others, is what they are concerned for, and they are disposed to comply with the divine will which is conducive hereto. Civil rulers that are truly religi­ous, are disposed to set good examples before their people, and to attend the divine will, in their res­pective stations, which is so adapted to promote the interests of men: They are inclined to smile upon the vertuous, and to praise and encourage those that do [Page 23] well, and to be a terror to evil doers. And if God is won't to be with such, and to establish them in their authority, this gives to those that are under them an hopeful prospect that such will be great and lasting blessings to them.

USE. II. This Doctrine teaches us the great encou­ragement those in civil authority, have to be truly religi­ous; to respect all the commandments of God, and to attend conscienciously what is incumbent on them in their differing places in the Government that they are set in.

But this shall suffice for the second Doctrine. I proceed now to a third.

DOCT. III. That some in the civil Government, thro' the favour of God, and manifest respect & obedience of the people, have riches and honour in abundance.

This I think is fairly to be gathered from the fifth verse. And all Judah brought to Jehoshaphat presents, and he had riches and honour in abundance. Jehosha­phat was happy in the favour of God, in his signally owning and blessing of him; as hath been already observed from those words, And the Lord was with Jehoshaphat: And those, Therefore the Lord stablished the kingdom in his hand. The favour of God to­wards him is here also to be observed, in the interest that he gave him in the affections of his people, and in the obedience that they yielded to him as God's minister to them for good: both they & others did him abundant honour, and thro' the over-ruling Providence of God, he had riches as well as honour in abundance. We are told that all Judah brought to Jehoshaphat presents ‘In acknowledgment of his [Page 24] sending preachers among them*.’ ‘As subjects in those times and places used to do to their Kings, as a token of their respect & subjection to them It is said of Saul, That they despised him, and brought him no presents. But of Solomon it is said, 1 King. 10. 25. And they brought every man his pre­sent, vessels of silver and vessels of gold &c. And concerning Hezekiah we are told, in 2 Chron. 32. 23. And many brought gifts unto the Lord to Jerusalem, and presents to Hezekiah king of Judah, so that he was magnified in the sight of all nations from thenceforth. Some rulers are highly esteemed by their people, and their respect is manifested, both in word and action, in all the customary ways of discovering of it. Respect and honour are due to those in civil autho­rity, and are to be given them for the sake of their office; and it is likely to be greatly increased by the due execution of it, and in this, they are to be obeyed, and, are wont to have great honour done them by their people, by their subjection to them herein. Yea, some there are, whom God is pleased to reward not only with abundant honour, but with riches also in abundance. Tribute is due to such, and a good Government is wont to be honourably sup­ported. It is highly reasonable that good rulers in the state, such as make a business of discharging what God and men justly expect from them in their respective places, that attend continually upon this very thing, should be well rewarded by the publick for their good services. Rom. 13. 6. For for this cause pay you tribute, for they are God's ministers, at­tending continually upon this very thing. A small mat­ter is not sufficient to support the dignity of their posts. And God sometimes remarkably rewards the piety and fidelity of some in civil authority with [Page 25] great riches. An instance of this we have in the text. All that I shall add here is this, that it is worthy of our serious observation, what is spoken of wisdom, or religion in the purity and power of it, Prov. 3. 16. Length of days is in her right hand: and in her left hand riches and honour.

All the Improvement that I shall make of this Observation shall be in this one Inference.

Learn we from hence, How greatly some civil ru­lers are obliged to lay out themselves in their respective places, for the glory of God, and the good of his people. If it be as hath been said, this Inference is just and natural. But this makes my way to the last Doctrine.

DOCT. IV. and last. That some in civil authority, who have riches and honour in abundance, have their hearts lift up in the ways of the Lord.

This honourable account is to be given of some such, but not of all. ‘Riches and honour in abun­dance, proves to many an hindrance in the ways of the Lord, an occasion of pride, security and sensua­lity, but it had a quite contrary effect upon Jehosha­phat. This abundance was oyl to the wheels of his obedience; and the more he had of the wealth of this world, the more was his heart lifted up in the ways of the Lord. He brought his heart to his work, and lift up his heart in it. He never thought he could do enough for God. He was lively and affectionate in his religion, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord. He was bold and resolute in the ways of God, and went on with courage. His heart was lift­ed up above all discouragements and difficulties that were in the way of his duty

[Page 26] Indeed we make nothing of our religion and the service of God, if we don't make heart-work of it, if we don't heartily engage in it. And some there are in civil authority, who are devoted to God's fear, and that may say with the royal Psalmist, as in Psal. 16. 2. O my soul, thou hast said unto the Lord, Thou art my Lord. Psal. 116. 16. O Lord truly I am thy servant. They consider the multitude and great­ness of divine favours and benefits to them, and are desirous to know what they shall do in a way of re­turn to God for them all: Their enquiry is that in ver. 12. of the just now mentioned Psalm, What shall I render to the Lord for all his benefits towards me? They see themselves obliged to do what they can for God, who hath done so much for them; they are encouraged, and their hearts are enlarged in the service of God. They are inclined to God's testi­monies, and they are the more resolved by divine grace and help to be rich towards God, and to bring what glory they can to the name of God, who hath put such honour upon them, and given them riches and honour in abundance. They endeavour from hence to be the better Christians, and the better Ru­lers. But this shall suffice here.

And now, from what hath been said,

1. We may see what the Lord of all, the God of all grace, and the giver of every good gift, doth for some of the children of men. He sets some above others. Some he advances to posts of honour and service. He is with and establisheth them in their authority; he gives them riches and honour in abundance, and an heart to honour and serve him, with the more readiness, resolution and chearfulness. He fortifies some against the temptations of a prosperous state and exalted condition in the world, and makes them shining patterns and examples to others. How ad­mirable [Page 27] is this grace of God, and how worthy a thankful acknowlegement is this from the receivers of such grace, and the observers of the same?

2. This Doctrine teacheth civil rulers what their ambition should be; even to be truly engaged in the service of God, and to have their hearts lift up in the ways of the Lord; how they should improve the distinguishing favours of God to them, the riches and honour that in his providence he grants them, even to the enlarging their hearts in running the way of his commandments. Those in civil authority should be ambitious of writing after this fair copy. God justly expects no small revenue of glory from such whom he hath so obliged. He is surely a critical observer of such. Psal. 82. 1. God standeth in the congregation of the mighty; he judgeth among the gods. And such must e're long be called away out of the world to give up their account to him: And happy they who when they have a prospect of death and judgment as night unto them, are able to look backward with comfort and satis­faction, and forward with joy: Who are able with king Hezekiah to say, as in 2 Kin. 20. 3. I beseech thee, O Lord, remember now how I have walked before thee in truth, and with a perfect heart, and have done that which is good in thy sight.

Thus have I said something from, and (I hope) agreable to, the words of my text, after my poor, imperfect manner.

So many of my reverend fathers and brethren have gone before me in this service, that there is but little room left to offer any thing proper to the pre­sent occasion without repetition at least of the same thing. I have therefore omitted many things that I might have mentioned; and shall add no more but an earnest address to this whole People, both rulers and ruled.

[Page 28] Let us all be deeply sensible, and thoroughly con­vinced of the necessity and utility of our being truly religious, and on the other hand, of the evil, dan­ger, manifest unprofitableness, and manifold disad­vantages of our being irreligious, or only formalists in religion; and let us be concerned to have our hearts sound in God's statutes. Let our aim and endeavour be, to be really, personally, and relative­ly good. Let us not seek unto Baalim, but let us know and acknowlege, worship and obey, the living and true God, the God of our fathers, with a per­fect heart and a willing mind; and walk in all his commandments and ordinances blameless. Let us imitate CHRIST our great pattern, walk in the ways of pious Predecessors, and imitate the graces and vertues of the Saints and People of God upon re­cord in the sacred pages, and of our forefathers in this Land. If we do thus, may we not hope, to have God with us, as he was with our fathers, and that he will not leave us nor forsake us, but establish us an holy people to himself? If we return to the Al­mighty, shall we not be built up, and have the Lord our God nigh unto us in all that we call upon him for? I conclude with that in Psal. 85. 9. 12. Surely his salvation is nigh to them that fear him, that glory may dwell in our land. Yea the Lord shall give that which is good, and our land shall yield her in­crease.


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