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Verily the people of a country are responsible before God for the acts of tbeir government, be that government kingly or democratic-one of absolute one man power, or one emanating from the people.
These lessons of history are only valuable to us, as we apply the instruction they impart to governing and ordering of our own lives as Christians and Christian citizens. If we glance at them only curiously, in the same spirit with which an antiquarian regards some fossil of the past, we shall fail to make over to ourselves any benefit which God designs shall result to us from the study of this history. We must apply these principles in our own lives ; we must make them active whenever occasion presents itself, or when. cver duty calls us to advance or defend them; we must profit by them, and not suffer ourselves either to fall into the place of the Egyptian's as tyrants, nor into the doubting, halting and stumbling spirit of the poor degraded and enslaved Israelites.
In our own country we are especially called upon to remember this great truth. Here every man has a voice in the selection of those who bear rulo, and the principle that the people are respon. sible for the acts of the government can more readily be understood. It will not do to say that you will not have anything to do with the selection of these rulers. You must have something to do with it; you cannot escape the responsibility-it rests upon you, and if you refuse to meet it, you simply make yourself a party to any wrong which may be committed, because you did not, as much as in you lieth, strive to prevent it.
The selection of those who are to make and execute the laws of our country, if left in the hands of corrupt and dishonest men, by your indifference or failure to discharge your responsibility as a Christian citizen, you know will result in wrong doing and evil, and upon your head will rest the penalty, just as well and rightfully as upon those who plotted the mischief and wrought the wrong. You dare not pload ignorance. It is your business to make yourself acquainted with the governmental policy of the country, with what is proposed to be done, what reforms are needed, what laws are just or unjust, and to decide for or against every measure, as God gives you wisdom, and then so to labor and to act as to aid in securing what you believe to be right and proper in the sight of God and in accordance with His will and word. Only in this way can you faithfully discharge the fearful responsi. bility, which rests upon you as a Christian citizen. Only in this way can you serve God in any sense as a responsible part of the great whole of a nation.
There is no hereafter for a nation. It cannot, in the very nature of things, exist in the world to come, and hence all its acts receive their reward or punishment in this world. If an individual sins, he may hide his guilt from his fellow men and go through life unpunished; he may die and bury the secret of his guilt with him in the grave, but in the world to come he will receive his punishment. So is it with the just. It is not always, nor yet often, that honesty
and holiness meet with their proper reward in this life; it is reserved for them in all its fullness for eternity. But with a nation it is not 80. Here in this world, where its life begins and ends, it will re. ceive the reward for its good and the punishment for its evil deeds, and in these rewards or punishments every citizen will be more or less involved. Is a nation blessed? The blessing falls upon the just and the unjust. Is a nation cursed ? Every citizen must bear his portion. We do not mean by this, that God bas pot power to interpose for the protection of bis own people in a special manner, when it pleases Him so to do, but we do mean that these interpositions must be special, not general in their character and effects, and that as a rule every citizen in times of national calamity and distress bears, in some manner, his porportion of the general punishment and sorrow. This fact, aside from the absolute duty of man to serve God without the hope of reward or the fear of punishment, should be an additional incentive to every Christian citizen to make use of his talents and privileges to secure the enactment of righteous laws and the election of faithful and Christian men to enforce and maintain them.
From this portion of Bible bistory we learn another fact worthy of notice. It is this: God uses the nations of the world for the promotion of His glory. “He maketh the wrath of man to praise Him," and so rules and governs among the nations that His king. dom is continually coming more and more in the earth. So long as a nation is not guilty of some great wrong against God's law; so long as it serves His purposes and makes its life advance His glory, it will not be overthrown. All the powers of the earth may array themselves against it; legion on legion of armed men may march against it; bolt after bolt may be hurled at its life, yet God will preserve it from all its enemies. We have many forcible ex. amples of this in the history of the Jewish nation. Time and again were they cast down and given over to the dominion of their enemies because of tbeir evil deeds, and often were they preserved from their foes, whilst they stood in right relations to God, even when the power of their assailants seemed to be irresistible. It may be urged that this nation is not a fair example in proof of this general truth, inasmuch as they were God's peculiar people and He dealt with them differently from any other people. But, since the advent of our Blessed Saviour, Jehovab is no longer the God of the Jews only, but even as the gates of Heaven were flung wide open for bumanity in Christ our Lord, so has God become the God of all nations that will serve Him, and will extend to such His preserving and protecting care just as He did under the old dispens&tion to the Jewish nation. In Christ the line of separation between the Jews and the rest of the nations of the earth was broken down, and the road is now open and free for any people to walk in the way of God's will and to have Him for their King.
The most striking illustration of this truth, next to the one just cited, that presents itself to our mind at this time, is that of Switzer. lapd. A little nation bordering on some of the mightiest of the earth, often defying their power in defence of its rights and liberties, it has been maintained in its integrity by the power of the Lord for centuries, against all the assaults of its enemies. The foot of the oppressor never long pressed its free soil. Soon deliverance is at hand for them and they are kept in the enjoyment of their freedom.
Has this not been for some great purpose ? Was it mere chance, or the bravery of its people that has kept Switzerland so long free? Let the life and labor of the beroic Zwingle answer. Let the life of the stern reformer Calvin answer. Let the great reformatory movements of the sixteenth century, the mighty powers which have swept from its mountains over the whole of Europe, across the broad Atlantic and even to the distant isles of the sca; let these answer the question, whether God preserved the life of Switzerland for some great purpose, or whether it was mere chance and nation. al bravery that secured this end.
God is not a God of chance, but works in history, according to a fixed and settled purpose, and towards a determined end, and so long as a nation subserves His righteous purpose and moves towards the accomplishment of His will, He will see tbat it is maintained and preserved. If a people set themselves over against God's will, if they persist in the commission of wrong, and will not learn wisdom either from God's word or the history of the past, God will most assuredly give them over to destruction, and suffer them to fall before their enemies.
The fact, that God works in history and uses the nations for the promotion of His glory, is proven also by the general condition of the world at the tiine of Christ's advent. Almost all the nations of world at that time were under the dominion of the Roman power and were governed by its deputies after the manner that characterized the Roman rule, which rarely sought to destroy nationali. ty in any conquered people, but allowed the people the enjoyment of all their peculiar religious customs, so long as their customs did not interfere with the payment of the tribute and taxes which were always extorted from them. This general government, this massing of the world into one great empire, prepared the way for the ready spread of the Gospel, and afterwards when the power of the Roman Emperors was brought to bear against Christianity in the way of persecutions, the very fact that this power was almost world-wide and that their edicts were published throughout the entire empire, brought to the notice of all the people the religion they sought to destroy, and spread the knowledge of Christ in a much shorter time than would have been possible, had the world been governed by many rulers and divided into many and independent countries. And was all this the result of chance? Was this great world preparation for the advent of Christ mere accident? Far from it. It was in fulfillment of that great plan, which from the beginning God had devised for the salvation of men, and just as He worked before the coming of Christ towards that end, so is His power still active in the world, directing and controlling every
event of history, so that all things may work for the ultimate triumph of the kingdom of His dear Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.
BY THE WILD SEA SHORE.
Alone I walked by the wild sea shore,
Here, on the face of their native soil
The trains have come, and the rites begin-
And thus each day, by the pine's dark shade,
Over the narrow neck of land,
And still in the future the sea shall flow,
The snowy sands on the storm-winds drift
As I turned from the scene with a saddened heart,
And a time worn truth I had oft heard told,
And I saw as I went on my lonely way,
And trembling stand on eternity's shore.
CHOICE OF A PROFESSION.- Whatever profession, though in itself not directly unlawful, yet leads men needlessly into many and strong templations to sin, will always, if possible, and if he is not under any pressing necessity, be avoided by a man who is sincerely desirous to do all things to the glory of God. Every innocent profession may equally and indifferently be chosen by any good man; but yet, even in that choice, his main and ultimate end will be the exercise of right and truth; and the mutual, comfortable support of men in justice, faithfulness and charity, profit, power, credit, repu. tation, and the like, may very innocently and very justly be aimed at by men ir any business or employment whatsoever. But these things must alwaye be desired with a due subordination to the interests of virtue, which is the glory of God, and the only true and final happiness of men. Whoever, in the great lines and main course of his life, aims merely or principally at worldly and temporal ends, in the attainments of those ends, he has his reward. Dr. Samuel Clarke.