Full Title: The Political Advantages of Godliness. A Sermon, preached before His Excellency the Governor, and the Honorable Legilsature of the State of Connecticut, convened at Hartford on the Anniversary Election, May 11, 1797. By Isaac Lewis. Hartford: Printed by Hudson & Goodwin, 1797.
I. TIMOTHY IV. 8.
—GODLINESS is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.
IN all situations and conditions of life, true religion is of the first importance. It is the solace of those, who are placed in the vale of poverty and afflictions; the sweetener of all the unambitious enjoyments, of the middle walks of private life; and the highest ornament to the persons, and characters of the rich, the honorable, and the great. Without it, no man can be either truly, or lastingly happy. Were this divine guest to be banished from the society of men, this world would become but the abode of folly and wretchedness; and man, with all his boasted reason and superiority, inferior, in point of real enjoyment, to the herds who graze the fields.
The sentiments of St. Paul on this subject, are clearly expressed in our text and context. After cautioning Timothy to avoid perplexing himself and others, with the fabulous traditions of the Jews, and their endless genealogies, and exhorting him, like the athleticks in the Grecian games, to exert his uttermost labor and diligence, in pursuing and promoting the doctines and duties of true piety, as an argument to enforce the whole, he introduces the words of our text. Godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.
These motives to godliness, though first addressed to Tomothy, apply with equal force and propriety to all men, of ever age and condition. The import of the text is briefly this, “Godliness is every way advantageous. Whoever shall experience the power of it, will thence derive a rich harvest of gain. Beside the crown of immortal glory, which it infallibly secures to its possessor, it will produce the highest satisfaction, of which the human mind is capable, in the present state of existence. Its advantages are eminent in all stations, and situations, and in the prosecution of every business, proper to engage the attention of mankind.”
If then godliness have promises of good to be enjoyed in this life, as well as in that which is to come, if it be profitable unto all things, we may doubtless with safety conclude, that effectual aid may be derived from it, in the admiistration of civil goverment; and that, if generally and faithfully practised, it would most essentially contribute toward obtaining for, and securing to a community, all the important ends of this institution.
To illustrate this observation, is the proposed object of the present discourse. Preparatory to which, a concise view of the nature of godliness, and of the ends of civil government will first be taken.
Godliness is a term used in two senses; the one limited, and the other more general. In its limited sense, it includes only the duties of piety toward God. In its general sense, it comprises all the duties prescribed by the chrisitian religion; those which we owe to our fellow-men, and to ourselves, as well as those which we owe to God. The apostle, in our text, uses the term in its most general sense, as appears from the extensive benefits, which, he assures us, will flow from a faithful practice of its various duties. These duties cannot now be minutely detailed. It may however be proper to observe in general, that they may be divided into four classes, the duties we owe to God, to Christ, to our fellow-men, and to ourselves. . . .