Government the pillar of the earth. A sermon preached at the lecture in Boston, before His Excellency Jonathan Belcher, Esq; captain general and commander in chief, &c. August 13th 1730. / By Benjamin Colman. ; [Two lines from Isaiah]

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Government the pillar of the earth. A sermon preached at the lecture in Boston, before His Excellency Jonathan Belcher, Esq; captain general and commander in chief, &c. August 13th 1730. / By Benjamin Colman. ; [Two lines from Isaiah]
Colman, Benjamin, 1673-1747.
Boston, in New-England: :: Printed for T. Hancock, at the Bible and Three Crowns near the town-dock.,

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Belcher, Jonathan, 1682-1757.
Sermons -- 1730.
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"Government the pillar of the earth. A sermon preached at the lecture in Boston, before His Excellency Jonathan Belcher, Esq; captain general and commander in chief, &c. August 13th 1730. / By Benjamin Colman. ; [Two lines from Isaiah]." In the digital collection Evans Early American Imprint Collection. University of Michigan Library Digital Collections. Accessed July 24, 2024.


DOCT. THE Great GOD has made the Go|vernments and Rulers of the Earth it's Pillars, and has set the World upon them.

  • 1. The Governments and Rulers of the Earth are it's Pillars.
  • 2. These Pillars of the Earth are the LORD's.
  • 3. He has set the World upon them.
I. The Governments and Rulers of the Earth are it's Pillars.

The Pillar is a Part of great Use and Honour in the Building: So is Magistracy in the World. One Style in Scripture for it is, Foundations and Corner-stones. Where we read of the Chief* 1.1 of the People, in the Hebrew it is the Corners. We read also of the‖ 1.2 Foun|dations of the Earth being out of Course. The mea|ning is, the Government of it was so. Kings bear up and support the Inferior Pillars of Government, and a righteous Administration restores a dissolving State: Psal. lxxv. 3. The Earth and all the Inhabitants thereof are dissolved: I bear up the 'Pillars of it.

In like manner, Wise and faithful Ministers are Pil|lars in the Church: Which is built on the Prophets and Apostles, JESUS CHRIST being the chief Corner|stone, Eph. ii. 20. The Prophet Jeremiah was made by GOD an Iron Pillar: And of Peter, James and John we read, that they seemed to be Pillars: Gal. ii. 9. They were deservedly so reputed, and truly so in the Church of CHRIST. Famous are the LORD's Words

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to Peter, Matth. xvi. 18. Thou art PETER, and on this Rock will I build my Church. And when John had the Vision of the New-Jerusalem, descending out of Heaven from GOD, it is said that the Wall of the City had twelve Foundations, and in them the Names of the twelve Apostles of the Lamb.

Now the Design and Use of Pillars in a Building is one of these two, or both together: 1. For Strength to uphold it, or 2. For Beauty to adorn it.

1. The Governments and Rulers of the Earth are its Pillars in respect of Strength to uphold and sup|port the Virtue, Order and Peace of it. Pillars should be made strong, and commonly are so; of Stone and Marble, Iron and Brass. And it had need be a strong Rod to be a Sceptre to Rule, Ezek. xix. 14. Magis|trates need be strong, for Government is a great Weight; and it is laid upon their Shoulders. Moses felt the Weight and said, I am not able to bear this People alone.

2. The Governments and Rulers of the Earth are it's Pillars for Ornament, to adorn it. Pillars in a fine Buil|ding are made as beautiful as may be; They are plan'd and polish'd, wrought and carv'd with much Art and Cost, painted and gilded, for Sight▪ as well as Use. As the Legs are to a Body, comely in it's goings: Such are Pillars in a stately Structure for Beauty to the Eye. It is the allusion of the Spouse, recounting the Beauties of her BELOVED, Cant. v. 15. His Legs are as Pillars of Marble, set upon Sockets of fine Gold. A bold and elegant Comparison, becoming the Pen of Solomon, who had built the Temple of GOD with all it's Pillars. They represented the Strength of CHRIST and his Stability, to bear the Weight of the Govern|ment laid upon Him; and also the Magnificence of the Goings of GOD our King in the Sanctuary: Like|wise the Steadiness of the Divine Administration. So Those in power and Magistracy are to be supposed, Men adorn'd with superior Gifts, Powers and Beauties of Mind: Men that adorn the World wherein they Live, and the Offices which they sustain. And then their

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Office adorns them also, and sets them in conspicuous Places, where what is great and good in them is seen of all.—To be sure, Government and Magistracy adorn the World as well as preserve it.

1. Magistrates uphold and adorn the World, as Pillars do a Fabrick, by employing their superior Wis|dom and Knowledge, Skill and Prudence, Discretion and Judgment for the publick Good. These Accom|plishments are to be supposed in the Civil Order, and they render 'em the Pillars of the Earth.

Wisdom is both Strength and Beauty, a Defence and Ornament. So Solomon shines among Kings, for the Wisdom of GOD was in Him. GOD gave him Wis|dom and Knowledge exceeding much, and Largeness of Heart even as the Sand upon the Sea-shore. Angels excel in Strength, and Rulers should be wise as the Angels of GOD. The Government is laid on CHRIST because in Him are hid all the Treasures of Wisdom and Knowledge. He is the Wisdom of GOD and the Power of GOD. As GOD at first founded the Earth by his Wisdom, and by his Understanding established the Heavens; so by the Communication of Wisdom and Understanding to some, He preserves the Order and Happiness of Others on it. What is said of a House is true of a State, "Thro' Wisdom it is builded, and by Understanding it is established, and by Know|ledge shall the Chambers be filled with all precious and pleasant Riches: A wise Man is strong, yea a Man of Knowledge increaseth Strength* 1.3.

But then, Is the Pillar for Ornament? What is more beautiful than Knowledge and Wisdom? What more adorns a Man, a Place, a Country? The Queen of Sheba came far to hear the Wisdom of Solomon, and Huram was as much struck as she was: 2 Chron. ii. 12. Blessed be the LORD GOD of Israel, who hath given to David the King a wise Son, endued

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with Prudence and Understanding, who may build a House for the LORD, and an House for the King|dom.

2. Integrity, Uprightness, Faithfulness added to Knowledge and Wisdom, makes Men strong and beau|tiful Pillars, whether in Church or State. Every Man is ready to pretend to a Competency of Wisdom, and as ready to proclaim his own Goodness; but a faithful Man who can find? Prov. xx. 6. He is a rare and beau|teous Spectacle, as Moses, Joshua, Samuel, Jehojada, Hezekiah and Nehemiah, in their Times, and to the End of Time. All that rule over Men should be like to These, just Men Ruling in the Fear of the LORD; and then they are to the World as the Light and Rain, without which the Earth must perish. As Dark|ness vanishes before the Light, so a King that sitteth upon the Throne of Judgment scattereth away all Evil with his Eyes. DAVID, that Pillar of Israel, came into the Government with that noble Purpose and Re|solution, Psal. lxxv. 3. When I shall receive the Con|gregation, I will judge uprightly. So he fed Them in the Integrity of his Heart, and led them by the Skil|fulness of his Hands. GOD's Righteousness and Faith|fulness, Justice and Judgment, are the Foundation of His everlasting Government, the Habitation of His Throne. See the Pillars of the Divine Government, Psal. xxxvi. 5, 6. Thy Faithfulness reacheth to the Clouds, thy Righteousness is as the great Mountains. Nor can the Kingdoms and Provinces on the Earth stand, but on the like Basis of a just and righteous Humane Government. Psal. lxxii. 3. The Mountains shall bring Peace to the People, and the little Hills by Righteousness.

Both the Superior and Inferior Magistrates shall minister abundantly to the Stability and Tranquility of the State.

3. A publick and enlarged Spirit for the common Weal and a single Regard thereunto, without suffering our selves to be misled by private and selfish Views: This renders Men Pillars to the World, in the Places wherein Providence sets 'em. And so,

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4. A Spirit of Peace and Love, Meekness and Hu|mility, Candour and Gentleness; whereby Persons are ready to unite their Counsels, and act in Concert with one another; paying a just Deference one to another and preferring one another in Honour; glad to receive Light from any one, and well pleased to reflect it from them; all pursuing one End, as the many Pillars in a great House stand quietly near to one another, and all help to bear it up: This Spirit of Power, and of Love, and of a sound Mind, render men strong and beautiful Pillars of the Earth. But if the Peace of GOD rule not in Mens Hearts; if their Passions shake 'em and they clash with one another; the House tot|ters, the high Arches above cleave asunder, and the Roof falls in; as when Sampson bow'd the Pillars of Dagons House, and buried the lewd assembly in one vast Ruine.

5. A Pillar implies Fortitude and Patience; Reso|lution, Firmness and Strength of Mind, under Weight and Burden: Not to be soon shaken in Mind, nor moved away from what is right and just; but giving our Reason in the Meekness of Wisdom, and hearing the Reasons of others in the same Spirit of Meekness, to form an impartial Judgment, and abide by it; But yet with Submission to the publick Judgment and De|termination. The unstable are as Water, and more fitly likened to the Waves of the Sea, then to a Pillar on Shore. And the irresolute, discouraged and sinking Mind is at best but a Pillar built upon the Sand; which falls when the Wind blows and the Storm beats upon it, because of its weak Foundation.

There is a Passive Courage, ever necessary in an ac|complish'd Ruler, as much it may be as an Active. The Pillar stands regardless thro' the Weather beat on it, or tho' Dirt be cast on it. True it will wear under the Injuries of Time, but it looks still great, and stands while it wears away. The wise, the meek & strong Moses stood as many Shocks, as ever Man did from an impatient, murmuring, ungrateful People.

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But this for the first Head; The Governments and Rulers of the Earth are its Pillars.

II. These Pillars of the Earth are the LORD's.

The Earth is the LORD's and the Fulness there|of; the World and they that dwell therein. All are GOD's rightful Propriety & Dominion. The Shields of the Earth belong to Him. These are the same with the Pillars of it.

1. The LORD makes these Pillars, forms fashions 'em, polishes and adorns 'em. He gifts, qualifies and fur|nishes all whom He calls out to public Service. He makes the more plain and rough, and He orders the carved Work and Gilding in his House. He, the Fa|ther of Light & Glory, gives Men their natural Powers and Excellencies; and all their acquired Gifts are from Him. He looketh upon all the Inhabitants of the Earth, He fashioneth their Hearts alike, He conside|reth all their Works. In the Hearts of all that are wise-hearted He putteth Wisdom. Both Wisdom and Might are His: Counsel is His and sound Wisdom; He is Understanding, He is Strength; by Him Kings rule and Princes decree Judgment‖ 1.4. He gave to David Integrity, and to Solomon Wisdom; and both were Pillars of His framing.

2. Both the Order & the Persons are of the LORD's ordering, constituting and appointing. Civil Govern|ment is of Divine Institution, and GOD commissions and entrusts with the Administration whom He pleases. The great King of the World has order'd a Govern|ment in it, and He raises up Governours, supream and subordinate. There is no Power but of GOD; the Powers that be are ordained of Him. He puts the Scepter into the Hand, and the Spirit of Government into the Heart.

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3. The Pillars are the LORD's, for He disposes of them as he pleases; places and fixes them where He will; rears 'em when He sees fit; and when He will removes, or takes 'em down: Or if He has no Pleasure in them, breaks 'em to pieces and throws 'em away. He removeth Kings, and setteth up Kings: For 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: He leadeth Counsellors away spoiled & maketh the Judges fools: He looseth the Bond of Kings, and girdeth their Loins with a Girdle: He leadeth Princes away spoiled, and overthroweth the Mighty* 1.5.

Thus the Sovereign GOD forms the Pillars of the Earth, prepares 'em, sets 'em up, ordains the Places and Times of their standing; takes 'em down and puts others in their Room. He calls and uses whom He will, inclines and spirits how He will, and improves to what Degree He will. They are His therefore, and His is the Greatness and the Glory and the Majesty! And to Him it must be ascribed both by the Persons endowed and raised by Him, and by Others interested in Them: 1 Chron. xxix. 12, 13. Both Riches and Honour come of Thee, and in thy Hand is Power and Might, and in thy Hand it is to make Great; and to give Strength unto all: Now therefore, our GOD, we praise Thee, and bless thy Name for ever and ever.

But to do the utmost Honour to the Civil Order among Men, and to give yet greater Glory to GOD, let us come to the third and last Part of our Text.

III. GOD hath set the World upon the Govern|ments and Rulers, whom He has made the Pillars of it.

The natural World is in the Hand of GOD, and is upheld in it's Being and Order by his Power. The moral World is most upon his Heart, and govern'd in a Way and Manner suted to the Nature and present

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State of Man. And as He governs the Spirits of Men when He pleases by immediate Impressions on them; so as more proper to the present Order and Happiness of Mankind, He has appointed the Govern|ment of Men to be by Men. So the Peace, Tranqui|lity and Flourishing of Places are made to depend on the Wisdom and Fidelity of their Rulers, in the good Administration of the Government. While the utmost Misery and Confusion befals those Places where the Go|vernment is ill administred. The Reason is given in the Text, "GOD has set the World on this Foot; it can't stand on any other Bottom. 'The Virtue and Religion of a People, their Riches and Trade, their Power, Honour and Reputation; and the Favour of GOD toward them, with his Blessing on them; do greatly depend on the pious, righteous and faithful Go|vernment which they are under.

GOD hath set: As well in the Nature of Things, as in his Word. Government is not a Creature of Man's Lust and Will, but of Divine Constitution, and from a Necessity in the Nature of things. The very Being and Weal of Society depends thereon.

Government was not in the Original of it assumed or usurped by any one Man. For Instance, Not by Lamech before the Flood, nor by Nimrod after it. In|deed the Spirit of Tyranny, and the Lust of Dominion, seem to have began in them; but Order & Rule was before them. Mankind naturally went into That, and These were the Men who made the first Breaches on it; the One being of the Race of Cain, the other of Ham; who have had some of their Likeness in every Place, and thro' all Generations; that would turn the World upside down, and overthrow the Foundations which GOD has laid.

In a word, Magistracy, like the other Ordinances of Heaven, stands by the Power and Blessing of GOD; who effectually owns it and works by it, establishes the Earth and it abideth. He has graven it deep in he Hearts of Men, even as the Desire of Happiness and

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Self-preservation. He has as much ordained, that while the Earth remaineth Civil Order and Government shall not cease; as He had sworn that Seed Time and Har|vest, Cold and Heat, Summer and Winter, Day and Night, shall not. Both the One and the Other e|qually continue to the World's End, absolutely ne|cessary to the Life, Comfort and Welfare of Mankind.


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