"The God of nations, looking forth upon our happy land this day, may be conceived as breathing the benevolent desire once expressed in behalf of his ancient people, 'O that there were such an heart in them, that they would fear me, and keep all my commandments always, that it might be well with them and with their children forever.'"
The State has a religious character. Nations derive their existence as such from God. The State is of divine institution. It enjoys and exercises divine prerogatives. It is hence under duty to God; it has herein a religious character.
I do not propose to argue the question of the nature of civil government. I will not undertake to show that the theory of a social compact—the theory that all just powers of government are derived from the people, who voluntarily yield them up and consent to their exercise—that this theory is false. Enough for me—enough for you, I presume,—that it is unscriptural and infidel. Enough for us that the Scriptures say, "The powers that be are ordained of God," and the civil ruler is "the minister of God." I do not deny,—the Scriptures do not deny—the distinction between things civil and things religious. The Christian does not demand that the State shall be a theocracy. The State and the Church has each its appropriate end and sphere. The prime end of the State is the dispensing of justice, the protecting of its citizens, and the securing by agriculture and commerce and the arts, and by the intelligence and virtue of its citizens, of the general welfare. The prime end of the Church, so far as man is concerned, is the promotion of his spiritual and eternal good, through the agency of the Scriptures of revealed truth. The sphere of the one is the affairs of this life,—that of the other, the affairs of the life to come. Yet the State and the Church are not wholly separated and absolutely independent; and neither is independent of God.
Again: Man in his entirety, is a religious being, and must carry his religion with him into all his relations. He is a religious citizen; so that not only is government instituted by God and to be administered in his name, and is therefore religious, but being administered by men and upon men, who themselves are under responsibility to God, it is therefore again religious.
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