Pride and humility. — The great difference between the maxims of the world and the doctrines of the gospel, is, that human opinions spring from pride, and tend to foster it; whereas the doctrines of the gospel teach humility, and self-abasement. The maxims of the world serve to encourage self dependence in men, inducing them to rely on their own strength and resources for success, in business or policy, without seeking aid from the Almighty source of power. The gospel inculcates the opposite doctrine; it teaches that “God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace to the humble.” It serves to make men humble, and to rely wholly on God for success, not only in spiritual concerns, but in the ordinary occupations of this world. In the pagan world, bravery and human efforts are everything; and God is nothing. In the christian system, human strength is nothing, and God is everything. In a christian country then, all government should be founded on Christian principles or should be directed to support them; and to such a system God will give success. All governments of a different kind will produce, as they have ever produced, innumerable evils while they last, and will ultimately sink into corruption and be ruined. All history is a tissue of facts confirming these observations.
The Bible. — As the will of God is our only rule of action, and that will, can be fully known only from revelation, the Bible must be considered as the great source of all the truths by which men are to be guided in government, as well as in all social transactions. Other books, if in accordance with the Bible, may be read with advantage. But a large proportion of the books which fill our libraries have little or no bearing on the sound principles of morals and religion. They serve only for amusement, and occupy time in reading that might be more usefully employed. The first and most important duty of man is to furnish his mind with correct notions respecting God, his laws, and human duty; and then to exert his faculties, and direct his knowledge to the benevolent design of making others wiser and better. It was for these purposes, the revelation of God was given to men; revelations preserved in the Bible, the instrument of all reformation in morals and religion.
Dignity of man, — The dignity of man, in the view of the world, consists in elevation of rank in society, superior intelligence, and high minded notions of honor. These are qualities which make men respected in society, and are of real value to the possessor. But these qualities may be and often are united, in the same character, with the foulest vices. There is another species of dignity which consists in the abhorrence of every vice, and in aiming at the excellence which has a resemblance to the divine perfections. God is the only perfect being, the only model of all excellence; and no man can be possessed of true dignity of character, without purity of heart, and a divine principle which elevates the affections above the love of that which God abhors and forbids. “Whatever God forbids is degrading, however fashionable it may be, and however esteemed among men. It is our first duty to seek the honor that comes from God.
Consistency of the scriptures, — The doctrines and precepts recorded in the scriptures all tend to the same point, that of displaying the character of God, and exalting the character of man by bringing it to a conformity with that of God. All vice and crime, whatever God forbids, tends to stain and lower human character; whatever God requires, love, justice, charity, benevolence, and all kindred virtues, tend to elevate human character. All vice and crime tend to annoy and diminish happiness; religion, pure morals and all the virtuous affections tend to produce or increase happiness. As in the physical world, God has made everything in the best manner to accommodate the human race, and everything is adapted to that end; so in the moral world, everything ordained by God is adapted to promote intellectual and religious improvement, and secure to men the greatest happiness of which they are susceptible in their present state of existence.
Men co-workers with God, — God has not placed men upon the earth to live in idleness. He has made a soil to produce vegetables, but he has left men to sow, and plant and dress the fields. He has created trees, and stones, and clay, but he has not built houses; the materials are made, but men are to prepare and use them. He has furnished the earth and the sea with animals, but he has left it to men to take, to tame, to feed and to manage such as his wants require. He has deposited water, and coal and other minerals in the earth, where they lie safe without incommoding men; but he has left mankind to dig for them, and prepare them for use.
So in the moral system, God has given powers and faculties to man, and laws to govern him; but he has left men to cultivate their own faculties, and apply them to the discovery of truth, to the invention of useful arts, and to improvement in government, morals, and religion. As in the natural world, the earth, if uncultivated, produces weeds and noxious plants ; so in morals and religion, the minds of men, if left without culture, produce whatever is evil, noxious to society, offensive to God and pernicious to human happiness.
The christian religion exalts the intellect and perfects the human character, — The principal object of religion is to correct the heart and purify it from whatever is wrong and inconsistent with the enjoyment of God. But the sublime views of God and of his works, which the scriptures exhibit, have a wonderful effect in strengthening the intellect and expanding its powers. What a sublime description of the omnipresence and omniscience of God, is given in the hundred and thirty ninth psalm? The sacred writers labor for words to express the character and perfections of God. They transport us to an extent in which we are lost in the vastness of their conceptions.
Equally effectual are the scriptures in refining our ideas, by representations of the purity and holiness of God. The more we know of God, the more just will be our conceptions of what is ennobling in our own conduct; and every step we take in imitating his perfections is an advance in elevation of character. This purity of mind, and this elevation and expansion of intellect are the beginnings of that ever increasing holiness, and that boundless enlargement of knowledge which are to complete the character and the felicity of the children of God, in, another world.
Genuine religion. — We must be careful to distinguish the real religion taught by Christ and his apostles, from those systems which interested men have established. We find the true religion of Christ in the Bible only. It is a scheme wonderfully simple, the principles of which are all comprehended in two short phrases, love to God, and love to men. Supreme love to God, the source and model of all excellence, is the foundation of the whole system of Christianity; and from this principle in the heart flow all the benevolent affections and exercises, which constitute practical piety. The person who loves God supremely, will reverence his character and laws, and will extend his benevolent affections and charities to all his creatures. From this source will proceed love to man, and the careful performance of all moral and social duties.See also: Non Revisionist Politically Incorrect History of Jesus Christ by Johannes von Müller 1832 Christianity and the Founding of the United States Advice to Young People from Noah Webster Father of American Education Divine Heredity