Before the days of the 501c3 church, faithful pastors would preach Election Day sermons. On the first Wednesday of June 1797, Rev. Stephen Peabody preached an Election Day sermon before the General Court of New Hampshire. His text was Exodus 18:21. “Furthermore, you shall select out of all the people able men who fear God, men of truth, those who hate dishonest gain; and you shall place these over them, as leaders of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties and of tens” (Exodus 18:21).
He explained the qualifications for a man to serve in political office. He said they must fear God. “An atheist can have no part or lot in this matter.” He argued that since an atheist believes God does not exist then God has no authority over the state. Tyranny would ultimately prevail.
He preached what Americans have forgotten. He said political candidates must be men of truth. If “men of truth” is an essential qualification for political candidates, then most of men on the ballot should remove their names.
Another qualification for political candidates, according to Pastor Peabody, is that they must hate covetousness. The pastor said, “When a good ruler is engaged in his office, his duty to the station arrests his first attention; self, has only a secondary place in his mind. When called to act in public, he leaves his private concerns behind him; they drop, till he has faithfully performed his higher engagements.” Are there any political candidates that hate covetousness?
Among his closing words were these: “Let us then cultivate virtue in ourselves – carefully avoid shading the light of reason, counteracting remonstrances of conscience, and what is recorded in God’s word. In the steady practice of every duty to God, to society, and ourselves – under the influence of caution, candour, and generosity, – we may expect the divine approbation.” I wonder if we should start preaching Election Day sermons?