Good Rulers are Fathers to Their People

An Election Sermon Preached in New England, 1748


Daniel Lewes (1685-1753) was born in Hingham, Suffolk, Massachusetts Bay in 1685. He married and had nine children. He died at Barnstable at 67. We have several extant sermons from Lewes preserved, but his 1748 election sermon is the most famous and noteworthy for our purposes. The occasion was the election of William Shirely as governor of Massachusetts. Shirely was generally thought well of during his service—first from 1741-1749 and then, 1753-1756—and was tenacious in pursuing the interests of the colony at home and abroad.

The text is Isaiah 22:21: I will dress him in your royal robes and will give him your title and your authority. And he will be a father to the people of Jerusalem and Judah.

When paternal, father language is used today in political contexts, the cries of fascism are deafening. Assertion of national interest is often met with the same. Such are our stupid times. But this language regarding the good and Christian magistrate are ubiquitous in our Protestant tradition, not to mention backed by Scriptural precedent. Of course, to employ it, you cannot be a political Marcionite, as some of our esteemed scholars functionally are, but that is a discussion for another time. Lewes was no such thing, so you will permit, if only out of historic curiosity, his invocation of the prophets for these purposes, his description of the ideal: Good Rulers are, and should be Fathers to their People.


And I will clothe him with thy Robe, and strengthen him with thy Girdle; and I will commit thy Government into his Hand, and he shall be a Father to the Inhabitants of Jerusalem, and to the House of Judah.

I need not tell any here the occasion of this anniversary solemnity; It being too well known already to make this necessary; but shall choose rather, in the words of another, spoken, not upon the same, yet on an high and great occasion [Francis Atterbury, A Sermon Preach’d before the President and Governours of the Hospitals of Bridewell and Bethlehem in Bridewell-Chapel (Aug. 16, 1694)],  to say, (partly in order to description obtain, if it may be, the candor of this august assembly; and partly, to apologize for the many defects which my hearers will doubtless discover in the present performance) That, so many eminent pens have gone before in this way, as have left it very difficult for those who come after, either to say anything which they have not said, or not to say, that much worse which they have.

Upon being informed, that our Honorable Rulers (sure I am, very unexpected to me) had ordered I should preach before them on this solemn occasion, my thoughts fixed upon the words read; which, if God shall please to afford his gracious assistance, may be profitably handled, and appear to be a word in season.

In order to the clearer understanding of them, it will be requisite to look back to the 15th verse of the chapter, where, and in the verses following, the Prophet is directed to go and deliver a sad message to Shena, to tell him, that though he made preparation for a pompous Sepulture in the Place where he then was, he should surely be violently tossed like a ball into a large country, and there die, and be succeeded in his office by one better than he, meaning Eliakim. As to Shena and Eliakim

Both of them had been Ministers of State under King Hezekiah, Shena having been his Scribe or Secretary, and Eliakim the Master of his Household. And their History (says a learned Man [Humphrey Prideaux, The Old and New Testament Connected in the History of the Jews and Neighbouring Nations (1715-1717), vol. I, p. 45]) as far as may be collected from the words of the Prophet, appears to be thus. Shena being a very wicked man was a fit person to serve the lusts and description evil Inclinations of Manasseh in the first part of his reign, and therefore was made his first Minister of State; and Eliakim, who was of a quite contrary character, was quite laid aside. But on the Revolution that happened on the coming of the army of the Assyrians, Shena was taken prisoner with his master, and carried to Babylon, and there detained in captivity to his death. And therefore Manasseh on his Repentance and return to Jerusalem, having resolved on other measures, called for Eliakim, and put the Management of all his affairs into his hands, who being a person of great wisdom, justice and piety soon re-established them upon the same Foot as they had been in the Days of Hezekiah, and so preserved them in peace and prosperity all his Time, to the great Honor of the King, and the Good of all his People, and therefore he hath the character given him of being a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and to the House of Judah.

The Robe and Girdle mentioned in the text, are Ensigns of Authority. The Former very peculiar to Princes and Magistrates, hence it is said concerning the King of Israel, and Jehosophat the King of Judah, that they sat each on his Throne, having put on their Robes [1 Kings 22:10]—Purple was anciently the Color of the Garment or Robe worn by the Chief Ruler among the Romans: So that to send any one the Purple was in Effect to declare him Emperor. The Latter, viz., the Girdle, is likewise a Mark of Distinction; the Word signifies Strength, as well as description a Girdle, because a Girdle causeth Strength. A good Ruler is the Strength, the Girdle of his People. For by his wise and just Administration, an enfeebled State will be cherished and invigorated, confirmed and united, as a Girdle or Belt doth bind and strengthen the Loins of him that wears it.

It follows,

And I will commit thy Government into his Hand. Civil Government is not an accidental Thing, which Men have hit upon by Chance, but is of Divine Institution; By Me Kings reign [Proverbs 8:15]. The Powers that be, are ordained of God, says the Apostle [Romans 13:1]. And this Ordination is so necessary that Public Communities cannot subsist without it. Anarchy unavoidably tends to Confusion and Ruin. When there was no King in Israel, ’tis said every Man did that which was right in his own Eyes [Judges 17:6]. And when this comes to be the Case, a worse State of Things can hardly be imagined.

Whereas, When the Civil Magistrate is to those under his Inspection, what Eliakim is told here in the Text, he should be to the Inhabitants of Jerusalem, and to the House of Judah, viz., A Father, there will be more than a saint Image of the happy Times that were in Solomon’s Reign, when it is said, Judah and Israel dwell safely, every Man under his Vine, and under his Fig-Tree [1 Kings 4:25]. The Appellation here fixed upon Eliakim is a fit Title for a good Governor. And therefore, you may be sure, that in the Progress of this Discourse I shall not forget it.

What has been said upon the Words under Consideration, opens the Way for these Two Observations, which I shall offer from them,

Observation I. That there are outward Marks of Distinction and Honor, and Ensigns of Authority, which especially belong to the Civil Magistrate.

Observation II. That Good Rulers are and should be Fathers to their People.

I shall handle both these Points with as much Brevity as I can conveniently; supposing that the Elections to be made this Day of His Majesty’s Council, will not admit of a long Discourse from the Pulpit.

Observation I.

That there are outward Marks of Distinction and Honor, and Ensigns of Authority which especially belong to the Civil Magistrate.

Notice is here taken of the Robe, Girdle, or Belt, and elsewhere [Job 29:14] of the Diadem; all which, as also Crowns, Scepters, Gold Chains, &c. are Emblems of Honor and Authority; and therefore, Princes and Potentates, have by the unanimous Vote of Mankind, had these Marks of Respect conferred upon them. All Ages have been content, that those who govern them should be distinguished from the Vulgar, and make a more splendid Appearance upon all Occasions than a Peasant. And if they do not, they are apt to be looked upon with Contempt.

History makes report of a very famous King, who coming to Egypt, a mighty Concourse of people flocked from all Parts to see him, but when they found him without any State, an old man in a mean Habit, they went away Laughing, none regarding him.

But not to enlarge here; I shall proceed to offer a few Reasons, why those who are advanced to Places of Power (as Civil Rulers are) should be distinguished from others, by external marks of Grandeur. And they are these that follow,


To be a Motive to Rulers to excite them to Vigilance and Care for the Good and Welfare of those, on whose Account they have a just Title to those Ensigns of Authority. A Ruler is not preferred to that Dignity only to give him Leisure to be slothful and indolent, put in order to inspire him with Resolutions of acting in his exalted Station agreeable to it: So that the Honors done to him ought, and should be so many Monitors to him, to lay out himself with so much the greater Diligence and Fidelity in serving the Public.

I believe the high Dignity Joseph was raised to in Egypt, was a considerable Incentive to him to be very active in promoting the Welfare of that Kingdom. For after the Account that is given of the Marks of Respect Pharaoh put upon him, by placing him next to himself in Authority, and giving him his Ring from off his Finger, clothing him with sine Linnen, and putting a gold chain about his Neck; I say, after all this, it is said, that Joseph went out over all the Land of Egypt [Gen. 41:41-45]. He forthwith applied himself to the Duties belonging to his Station, and did not content himself at Home in the enjoyment of the Honors conferred upon him, but by his Diligence and Activity in his Office, let the King who had thus advanced him see, that his Favors were not misplaced.

Indeed, Civil Rulers have much better, stronger and higher Motives to be public Benefactors than any External Honors, that are done them, can be; such as their being in a Capacity more extensively to serve their Generation, than those who move in a lower Sphere; and the high Reward that shall be given them in Heaven, if they do it religiously. But still outward Marks of Respect and Honor have their use and influence to this Purpose.


The public Honors paid to Civil Rulers are partly designed for the Safeguard and Security of their Persons. If Rulers behave in their Office suitable to the Dignity of it, and discharge with a laudable Fidelity the Trust reposed in them, the State ought to be more than a little concerned to preserve and protect them. Men in high Stations are sometimes exposed to the Rage of unthinking People, and maligned by envenomed Tongues, while at the same Time they are endeavoring faithfully to serve the Public; Is it a small Thing that thou hast brought us up out of a Land that floweth with Milk and Honey, to kill us in this Wilderness, except thou make thy self altogether a Prince over us?—Wilt thou put out the Eyes of these Men? We will not come up, o is Language that the meekest Man on Earth, and one of the best Rulers, was treated with, by an obliged, though ungrateful People. And it were well, if nothing of this Spirit were now to be found in the World, The Civil Ruler being the Guardian of the public Quiet; appointed to restrain Violence,—and to preserve that Order and Peace which preserves the World: It is apparent, on these, and many other Accounts, what Hazards a good Magistrate runs; and therefore the Retinue of State which belongs to him, is such as may, at the same Time, be his Ornament and Defense.


Lastly, External Marks of Honor are likewise appropriated to Rulers, in order to promote in those under their Authority a proper Esteem and Regard for them. Not that it is to be supposed any are so weak as to be influenced to behave dutifully towards Rulers, and treat them with Reverence merely on the Account of the outward Splendor, annexed to their Office, but that this may be some Inducement to People to shew them that Respect and pay that Deference to them which is justly due to their Character.

None then should envy the civil Ruler those Marks of Honor which the Oracles of God entitle him to, and the Wisdom of Nations hath thought it proper he should enjoy: Since such valuable Ends as we have heard may be served hereby.

II Observation.

That Good Rulers are, and should be Fathers to their People.

‘Twas my Purpose chiefly to have insisted upon this, but the Time, I perceive, will not admit of much here; and therefore shall content myself as briefly as I can,

1. To shew, Wherein Civil Rulers should be Fathers to their People.

2. What Obligation they are under to be so.

1. I am to shew; Wherein Civil Rulers should be Fathers to their People.

This is an Appellation given in the Scripture to Persons clothed with Public Authority. Hence Kings are called nursing Fathers; and Naaman’s Servant addressed him in the same Stile of Respect and Reverence, who was a great Man with his Master (the King of Syria) and Honorable [2 Kings 5:1-13],  My Father, if the Prophet had had thee do some great Thing, &c. And ’tis related of Augustus (who perhaps was one of the best and wisest of all the Roman Emperors, before the Christian Religion was publicly countenanced in that State,) that when the People offered him the Title of Lord, he refused it, and thought the Title of Pater Patria more honorable [Thomas Hearne, Ductor Historicus: or, A Short System of Universal History (1714)], as indeed it was.

Now there are several Ways wherein Civil Rulers, (who are Political Fathers) may, and should manifest their paternal Regards to those who are under their Authority,

a. By their Love to them.

The Love of natural Parents to their Children is exceeding great: Can a Woman forget her sucking Child [Isaiah 49:15]? Intimating that it is a very unlikely Thing, and next to an Impossibility, David wished he might have died instead of his Son Absalom; Would God, says he, I had died for thee [2 Samuel 18:33].

And shall no Footsteps of paternal Affection be found in those who are political Fathers? Since both are styled Fathers, may it not be justly expected, that there should be something similar in them? Certainly, civil Rulers may be looked upon rather as Tyrants than Fathers, if they be not cordial Lovers of those whom they rule over: God be gracious to thee my Son, said Joseph to his Brother Benjamin [Genesis 43:29]. Which, perhaps, was spoken rather as Superiors were wont to do to those below them than because he was his near Relation; though it may include both. If the former be only meant, then it shews great Regard, Love and Affection, civil Rulers ought to have for those who are Subject to their Authority.

The Truth is, if political Fathers have no real Affection for their People, ’tis not probable that there will be any mutual Confidence between them. They will always be jealous one of the other; and the One will be apt to rule as Tyrants, and the Other to obey as Slaves; because they cannot help it.

So that it is necessary, in order to answer the Ends of civil Government, that Rulers should behave towards their People, with the Tenderness and Affection of Fathers. So did Nehemiah, David, and Jehoshaphat, and divers others in the first Chair of Government, which are found on Scripture Record.

And in the same Way, it is still the Wisdom and Duty of civil Fathers to conduct themselves towards their People: And if they do so indeed, doubtless they will find their Account in it, sooner or later.

b. Civil Rulers should shew themselves Fathers to their People, by protecting them to the utmost of their Power.

This they should do both in Times of War and Peace.

(1) In a Time of War.

In such a World as this is, there is no living without War; though the Consequents of it are commonly very dreadful; every Battle of the Warrior being with confused Noise, and Garments rolled in Blood [Isaiah 9:5].

Therefore, civil Rulers (as Fathers of their People) should do all they can, to preserve them from so great Calamity; as natural Parents, we may well suppose, would, to save their Children from Destruction. Hence ’tis their Duty to make seasonable Provision for their Safety; and this they may do, not only by using all proper Means to preserve them from the Miseries of War; but likewise, by making, in Times of Peace, suitable Preparation for their Defense, in Case a War should happen. ‘Twas prudent Advice King Asa gave his People, and well becoming a Father of his Country, let us build these Cities, and make about them Walls, and Towers, Gates and Bars, while the Land is yet before us [2 Chronicles 14:7].

(2) Political Fathers should be careful to promote the outward Prosperity of their People in Times of Peace.

How much of the Spirit of a true Patriot breathed forth in these Words, which proceeded from royal Lips; and how much of the Tenderness and Affection of a Father did they discover towards his People? And David spoke unto the Lord, when he saw the Angel that smote the People, and said, Lo, I have sinned, and I have done wickedly, but these Sheep, what have they done? Let thine Hand, I pray thee, be against me, and against my Father’s House y. As a tender Parent will hazard his own Life to save his Child’s, so this good King had the Welfare of his Subjects so much at Heart, that he was even willing to redeem their Lives with the Loss of his own: These Sheep, what have they done? Let thine Hand, I pray thee, be against me.

Civil Fathers, it may be, never act more becoming their Character, than when they manifest a true Concern for their People’s Prosperity, and how they may most effectually promote it.

And here allow me to say, that a necessary Step to this Purpose, is to provide good Laws, and to take due Care that they be well executed; Laws that encourage Industry, and are designedly calculated to put Marks of Disgrace upon the Idle and Lazy; that Children born of needy Parents, be put out to Trades, and brought up in honest Callings: Hereby the Public, in all Probability, will, not only be eased of a Bill of Charge, but reap the Benefit of their diligent Labors. That good Order, and seasonable Hours be kept in Houses of public Entertainment; and Intemperance (the growing Iniquity of the present Age) be suppressed, if possible. Especially, that the Lord’s Day be religiously observed, and kept as a Day of holy Rest.

In a Word, that All Immoralities, of what Kind soever be discountenanced and punished.

And while I am speaking of these Things, I cannot pass over in Silence, the late excellent ACT made concerning profane Cursing and Swearing; for which, I doubt not, all good Men are very thankful, and bless God, that he was pleased to put it into the Hearts of our honorable Rulers to make such a noble and heroic Stand against so prevailing an Iniquity.

And to encourage (if need be) our civil Fathers in their future Endeavors to reform the Lives and Manners of this People; I would further say, that the Act referred to, hath been thought (by those who are most likely to know) to have given a considerable Check to that bold Transgression. It were to be wished that something like it had been also, or may be invented, more effectually to suppress Drunkenness; a Sin which threatens Ruin to this Land.

c. Civil Rulers, as Fathers of their People, should use much Prudence in exercising their Authority.

It is said, concerning David, that he behaved himself wisely—and he was acceptable in the Sight of all the People, and also in the Sight of Saul’s Servants y, The whole Court, it seems, admired him for his discreet Conduct: And in such a Society, to behave so as to be universally applauded, is no common Thing.

For Want of prudent Management, Rehoboam lost the greater Part of his Subjects. Had he given them good Words, and followed the sage Advice offered him by his grave Counsellors, the unhappy Separation that ensued, might (humanely speaking) have been prevented:

But his Conduct was such, even when his all, in a Manner (as to his Regal Authority) lay at Stake, that the worst of his Enemies could not wish him to act more foolishly than he did.

It was said by the old Men, who had been of his Father’s Council, if thou wilt be a Servant unto this People this Day, and speak good Words to them, then they will be thy Servants forever z. But he had not the Wisdom to take their Advice, and thereupon great Confusion followed. See here, how requisite Prudence, and wise Conduct is in Civil Rulers.

d. and Lastly, Civil Rulers should manifest their Paternal Care of their People, by setting before them a good Example.

‘Tis not easy to imagine what a mighty Influence a pious Ruler’s Example is apt to have upon those who are under his Authority. Children, we see, have a strong Propensity to approve and practice what is done by their Parents: And the Case is much the same with Respect to Civil Fathers; The Example of the King being a Maxim that most seem willing to conform unto.

Therefore, it must needs have a great Tendency to promote the best Interests of a People when their political Fathers are Persons of eminent Piety, and bright Examples of pure and undefiled Religion.

The Prophet Elisha would have had no Regard to the distressed Host of Israel, and those that were with them, had it not been for the Respect he bore to King Jehosaphat on the account of his great Piety; And Elisha said unto the King of Israel, What have I to do with thee?—Surely were it not that I regard the Presence of Jehosaphat, the King of Judah, I would not look toward thee, nor see thee.

If a People see their Rulers to be loose or profane, they will either despise them, or be too ready to imitate their bad Example; and thus, their Leaders will cause them to err [Isaiah 9:16].

2. Having shewed in a few Particulars, Wherein Civil Rulers should be Fathers to their People: I come in the [second] place, as was proposed, to mention the Obligations they are under to be so.

And I shall Name only Two at present,

a. The great Trust committed to Civil Rulers ought to be a strong Inducement to them to exert their Authority, in all proper Ways, for the Good of their People, and to carry as Fathers to them.

Natural Fathers look upon their offspring to be an important Charge (as indeed it is) and therefore are willing to run all Hazards to preserve them, and to promote their Welfare.

And the like Concern (in some Degree) ought Civil Fathers to have for their Poople.

Thus, they should carefully consult their Interest in all Respects; advise them in the best Manner they can, and upon all difficult Emergencies appear in the Gap for their Relief. Hear how Job (who doubtless had been a Man in Authority) speaks concerning himself, I delivered (says he) the Poor that cried, the Fatherless, and him that had none to help him. The Blessing of him that was ready to perish came upon me; and I caused the Widows Heart to sing for Joy. I was Eyes to the Blind, and Feet was I to the Lame: I was a Father to the Poor, and the Cause which I knew not, I searched out: And I brake the Jaws of the Wicked, and plucked the Spoil out of his Teeth [Job 29:12-17]

Thus, to do is the surest Course Civil Rulers can take to secure to themselves the amiable Character of true Patriots. And indeed, for this very End and Purpose were they appointed, and not to lord it over their Interiors.

And upon the Account of the great Trust reposed in Political Fathers, and the heavy Burden they sustain, those who are subject to their Government, ought to look on themselves as bound in Duty and Conscience to pray earnestly to God for them [1 Timothy 2:1-2].

As for his Direction and Assistance, in the Discharge of their high Office, so likewise for his powerful Grace to preserve them from Sin and Evil, in the midst of those manifold Temptations to which they are continually exposed, in Appearance much beyond other Men, from the Height of that Condition, and he Extent of their Power, — and from the officious Servility of Parasites and Flatterers,, who sooth them in their Faults, and humor them in their Passions, and comply with their corrupt and vicious Inclinations, and are always ready at hand, and forward Instruments to execute their Commands, and to serve their Lusts and Vices.

b. If Rulers do not behave as Fathers towards their People, there is Danger of their losing the Honor, Esteem and Reverence, which otherwise they might justly expect to receive from them.

The Subject’s Love is the Prime’s strongest Citadel. If Rulers are tyrannical and cruel in their Government, they must look for no cheerful, but only a forced Submission to be paid them. If those under Authority perceive their Rulers have no paternal Concern for them, they will be apt to have but little Affection for their Civil Fathers; which must needs be productive of great Confusion and Disorder in the Body Politic: One will be jealous of the other; and when Power is visibly abused Submission will be found an hard Task.

That Parent who governs his Children with a prudent Lenity or Gentleness, and appears to be deeply concerned for their Welfare on all Accounts, takes the surest Course to entitle himself to their sincere Respect, and to be truly honored by them. Whereas he that is rigorous and always treats them in a churlish imperious Manner, is only slavishly feared, but not cordially loved.

And the Case is much the same as to Political Fathers: If by them the People enjoy great Quietness, and very worthy Deeds are done unto them, by their Providence, they probably will accept of it always, with all Thankfulness. Sure I am, they would be liable to severe Censures if they did not. But if nothing but Frowns and Rebukes, haughty and imperious Carriage be to be expected, no wonder if such Rulers soon lose the Hearts of their People. But Beloved, I hope better Things of you, our Civil Fathers, though I thus speak.

But there is one Thing that I must by no Means omit the mentioning of, and that is, to recommend a Public Spirit, which is so much wanting in this Land; and which is equally necessary to be found not only in Rulers, but the People also, in order to our becoming a prosperous and flourishing State. A learned Man, whose Words I have had Occasion to cite before, says,

‘ Twas the Temper of the Romans to do and receive all they could for the Interest of the Commonwealth, without taking or reserving any Thing to themselves, but the Honor of serving it to the utmost of their Power; and as long as this Temper lasted, they prospered in all their Undertakings; but afterwards, when this Public Spirit became turned all into Self-Interest, and none served the Public but to serve themselves, by plundering it, every Thing then went backward with them as fast as it had gone forward with them before, till they were soon after swallowed up, first in Tyranny, and afterwards in Ruin.

Thus he.

And elsewhere g the same Person says,

And so it must happen with all other States and Kingdoms, when the Public Interest is sacrificed to that of private Men, and the Offices and Employments of the State are desired only to gratify the Ambition, and glut the Avarice of them that can get into them.

If this be thought an Excursion, I hope it may prove no un-useful one, and so I leave it without further enlarging upon it.

Thus, I have done with the Observations raised from the Text, and shall now proceed the application.


In which ’tis my Purpose to be very brief.

Use I.

Hence how great a Mercy ought a People to account it, when God gives such to rule over them who are concerned to promote their best Interests, and desirous to shew them all the Affection and Tenderness of kind Fathers. And such a Mercy our Nation and Land enjoy in his present Majesty, our Rightful and most Gracious Sovereign King George II. who, we trust, esteems it a greater Honor to be the Common Father of his Loyal Subjects, than to wear the Imperial Crown of Great Britain.

And such, we hope, His Excellency our Commander in Chief, and all our Civil Rulers will be to this Province. And if they are indeed so, and we do not accordingly Esteem and Honor and Support them, let everybody call us ungrateful, and they cannot call us worse, or say any Thing of us that is more to our Discredit.

‘Tis justly to be looked upon as an high Favor when Rulers are ambitious of arriving to the Character of being Fathers to their People. All Things in the State will then probably be carried on with much Ease and Unanimity; Rulers will not grasp after more Power than properly belongs to them, nor the People be under a Temptation to wish it less than it is.

And thus, there will be an admirable Harmony between Rulers and Ruled, which is the Beauty and Glory of all Communities both civil and sacred.

Use II.

Are Rulers Civil Fathers? Then ’tis our Duty to honor them as such; and not with a curious or (which is much worse) a malicious Eye, to pry into their Failings (which none are without) and magnify them beyond what they really are. Those of lower Rank know little of the Cares and Burden of Govern|ment.

Whatever ambitious and inconsiderate Men may think (says one) wise Men do certainly know and find by Experience, that to discharge all the Parts of a good Governor is a very difficult and troublesome Province. Inferior Magistrates (as he goes on) find Care and Trouble enough, in that small Share and Part of it which they sustain; and if so, then certainly the Care and Concernment of the whole must needs be a heavy Burden indeed.

Therefore, instead of Murmuring and Railing at our Civil Fathers, we ought to pity and pray for them, to reverence and honor them; and as much as we can to encourage them in their faithful Endeavors to serve the Public, as they did Ezra; Arise, for this Matter belonged unto thee, We also will be with thee: Be of good Courage and do it i And to put Marks of great Respect upon them, when they are seen to have the Public Good much at Heart, and to be true Friends to Religion, and the Interest of Christ’s Kingdom.

Use III.

Lastly, let what we have heard be a persuasive Motive to our Civil Rulers to be indeed Fathers to the People of this Province.

And here in the first Place, Duty obliges me to address myself to Your Excellency, our chief civil Father under the King.

I have no Design nor Inclination to flatter Your Excellency, and if I had, I suppose you are as much above it, as I am sure it is beneath an honest Mind to attempt it.

Nor would I be unmannerly in my Address to a civil Father in the first Chair of Government. If I may be so happy as to avoid both these Extremes, and yet be faithful, I shall reach the Point I aim at.

Suffer me then, Excellent Sir, with all suitable Respect to say, That as You are entrusted by our common Father, the King, with the Government of the People of this Province (dear, I hope, To God) so ’tis their general Expectation, I believe, that Your Excellency would please to consider, how great an Opportunity is hereby put into your Hands to be a Father to us all; not only by consulting our temporal Interest; but, which is of much greater Importance, by promoting pure and undefiled Religion among us.

Those who have been your Predecessors, in your present exalted Station, have done worthily, and greatly in their Day; and ’tis, I doubt not, the unanimous Wish of this People, that You may excel them All.

And now need I put Your Excellency in Mind, how much it will induce to your own Ease and Quiet, in your Government, to countenance and encourage Vertue and Religion among your People, as well as to be a bright Example of the same Yourself! For (as a great and wise Man says)

How can it be expected, from that Man, who dares affront and despise God himself, that he should have any hearty Reverence for his Deputies and Vicegerents?

Need I use Importunity with Your Excellency, to improve your Interest in the Court of Great Britain, as there shall be Occasion, on Behalf of this Province.

Your Excellency’s past Solicitations for us, have shewn You to be a true Patriot, and may You ever be so.

Or, Need I bespeak your paternal Care for the School of the Prophets, which is the Glory of New England.

Your Excellency knows too well the Advantage of a liberal Education to discourage Learning, and therefore, ’tis hoped, you will continue to be a kind Patron to that learned Body. The Governors and Heads of that Society are at present, and may they ever be, Persons of Prudence, Piety and good Literature; and while they are such, there is no good Ruler but will think it his Duty to be a Father to them.

As to inferior Schools, I need not (indeed I cannot) say more than has been already urged upon that Head, by others who have gone before me.

To close then my Address to Your Excellency; May God by his Grace, enable You to serve Your Generation, in the high Station you are, according to his Will; May you be able to appeal to Him in your last Moments, in the same Manner that the excellent Cyrus did,

Thou knowest (said he then) That I have been a Lover of Mankind, and now that I am leaving this World, I hope to find that Mercy from thee, which I have shewed to others.

The hearty Prayer of all good Men for Your Excellency, I doubt not is, that you may at last sleep in Jesus, and your Rest in him be glorious.

I now turn myself to the honorable His Majesty’s Council, and the Gentlemen of the honorable House of Representatives;

To the Former, (by whose Appointment, in Conjunction with his Excellency’s, I stand here to Day) I would humbly suggest, that the very Title you wear, His Majesty’s Council! should be a powerful Motive to engage you to consult, according to the best of your Skill and Judgment, the Affairs of the Province, and all the valuable Interests of it; and to give the wisest Advice you are able, under our present difficult and perplexed Circumstances. Let your Counsel have no Mixture, no Alloy of selfish Views, but mainly aim at the Good of the Public. We have been almost undone by the Prevalence of a private, self-seeking Spirit; may it no more be found among us: Especially, may you, who are civil Fathers, excel in public Spiritedness, and teach us all by your Example, to be ambitious of the same excellent Character.

To the Gentlemen who represent the Province, I would only say; do you need to be put in Mind, how great a Trust is reposed in you by your Constituents; and what an Influence the Choice of Counselors to be made this Day (chiefly by yourselves) may have upon the Government?

Let not then the Business of the Day seem as a light Matter or trifling Concern to any of you. Remember that your Trust is great (as I intimated but now) and that both God and Man expect you discharge it faithfully.

There is one Thing, though it may seem a little out of the Way to mention it here, yet in as much as it is so great a Frown of Providence upon us all, and so much damps our public Joy this Day, I can’t but name it, and that is the Destruction of our State-House by Fire, which we may still behold lying all in Ruins. May we be duly affected therewith, and bewail the burning which the Lord hath kindled.

To proceed,

As to those who are in the Ministry: ‘Tis needless now to take up the Time in an Address to them, since that will be particularly done Tomorrow by a much abler Hand.

To the People in general, I have only this comprehensive Word to offer, Be dutiful and obedient to your Civil Fathers, and at Peace among yourselves. Forget not the Words of our blessed Savior, Every Kingdom divided against itself is brought to Desolation; and every City or House divided against itself shall not stand.

No Republic ever excelled Rome in profound Polity. But notwithstanding this, She carried in her own Breast the Cause of her Ruin, in the perpetual Jealousy of the People against the Senate, or rather of the Plebeians against the Patritii.

O then let all Jealousy between Rulers and Ruled be laid aside, and extinguished forever.

To conclude, The Lord our God be with us, as he was with our Fathers, Let Him not leave us, nor forsake us. — And the Lord maintain the Cause of his People at all Times, as the Matter shall require. Amen.


Image: An Allegory of The Tudor Succession, Lucas De Heere (1572).

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Daniel Lewes (1685-1753) was born in Hingham, Suffolk, Massachusetts Bay Colony. The father of nine children, he died in Barnstable where he pastored.

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