Gambar halaman
PDF
ePub

men who are most wasteful of time, most boisterous in sounding them. selves into notice, most prolific in abuse, most crooked and crafty in · policy, the most obtrusive, the zealots of party, will ever be the unprincipled and profligate. These, first and last in the field, will not be apt to originate nominations of stern virtue and unbending integrity. Such would not be men after their heart, and materials to be warped to their purposes. An immoral “ caucus” is not the source from which are to proceed Rulers who will reprove their vices, restrain them by law, or punish them by sentence and execution. “A corrupt tree cannot bring forth good fruit." The immoral and the selfish, will ever prefer men who are likely to make and administer laws which shall not interfere with their pleasures and selfishness—who will dispose of places and influence to gratify private ends. The slaves of party are not to be expected to choose men to administer for them, who will judge and act independently, but men who have neither God, nor creed, nor will, but their party. By such, party ends are best obtained. Considering the sources whence nominations too coinmonly proceed, it would be passing strange, if offices were not filled with the immoral and profane. Were it otherwise, human nature would not be consistent with itself. Virtue may indeed be talked of— Bibles, tracts, and churches may be complimented— Policy would be beside herself if she did nothing to flatter and gain the moral and the pinus. But we have read of those, whose ** mouth speaketh great swelling words, having men's persons in admiration, because of advantage,” who yet " walk after their own ungodly

Much then as our patriotism, charity, and partiality, may cloud our vision, we shall find many in authority who are destitute of piety or morals. Yet such are not to be abandoned by hope and prayer. Conscientiously pray for all in authority. Prayer has a prevalence that may save their souls. And we should pray the more fervently, because we not only find the immoral in office, but office is apt to make and keep men immoral and unholy. Office is too frequently the pension of a party, for some party service the possessor has rendered or will render. The previous service-the conditional gift-may involve entanglements deeply prejudicial to his spiritual interests. The ardent pursuit of party schemes, or of any worldly interest, absorbs the time, and thoughts, and feelings-leaving nothing for eternity and God. The continual company and converse of men of similar spirit, confirms the evil, hardens the conscience, and by example renders the soul secure in sin. The most powerful passions, such as love of honour, wealth, or power, are awakened and cherished to dangerous strength, by continual competition, and the ceaseless guard against popular fickleness. These passions are too urgent and boisterous, to admit of his hearing the “still small voice” of conscience and the Spirit. Continual flatteries of friends, associates, expectants, and dependants, nourish his vanity; and indispose the soul to the humility of the cross. The labours and

lusts.”

66 Bear ye

anxieties of office to disappoint envy with her hundred eyes, and slander with her hundred tongues, all contribute to pre-occupy the mind, and exclude " the things which belong to his peace.” Entrenched behind the formalities of office, elevated above the voice of honest reproof and warning, he lives secure from admonition, and almost beyond the means of grace.

Thus, the awful and affecting description of a former age of Christianity, is but too true of the present, “ Ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called.” But he that is “ higher than the highest” can reach them ;

and
your prayers can reach Him.

He has directed you to “pray for all in authority.” How importunate then should you be with God, that he would stretch forth his arm for their salvation. How much do they need your prayers. Neglect to pray for them, and you neglect the last means of grace—the last hope of their salvation.

2. If those in authority” are moral and pious, your prayers may be beneficial in keeping them from deterioration and apostacy. one another's burdens," is the spirit and law of Christianity. Temptations and dangers attend every condition in life, but especially that of a ruler. Standing single and exposed, more conspicuous by elevation, he becomes naturally more alive to char eter, more anxious for public admiration. Self becomes a more constant point of attention, a stronger centre of attraction. The love of praise is in danger of increasing, and degenerating into sinful pride. He is tempted to enter into alliances, offensive and defensive, with those around him, to whom he owes, or may owe, his elevation. These are often the ungodly, and the measures concerted not likely to be pure. He must sacrifice his conscience and judgment to others.

“ Evil communications corrupt good manners.” His piety begins to be an awkward singularity ; he lives on the breath of the people ; he more and more worships them ; seeks to be popular rather than pious ; and gradually forgets and f;. kes God. The bustle of official business, fashionable entertainments, and party interests, leave him little composure or leisure for reflection and religion.

The pious assor ciates of private life are far away. The Holy Spirit is “ grieved,” and withdraws. Should the “ form of godliness” remain, “ the power" is gone : he may

have a name that he liveth, but is dead!” How many have lost religion in their elevation! Chrysostom remarked, that the preservation of the three Hebrews unpolluted, in the court of Babylon, was a greater miracle than preserving them unconsumed in the l'ery furnace. Has, then, your Christian benevolence any anxiety in the hazards that attend the souls of those who are in high places ?-would you sustain their purity and abate the force of temptation ?-would you have them

in

grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ ?"_" pray for all in authority"--remember them always in your prayers.

grow

3. Prayer for all in authority is beneficial to them, since it tends to make their administration more wise and comfortable. It is a principle in our holy religion, that each one should “ seek not his own,” but another's good. An office is a place of care, not of ease. Every heart loves sympathy, and he who toils faithfully, deserves it. IIow consoling must it be to the faithful public servant, amid his labours and perplexities, to know that he has the sympathy and the prayers of the good. In those seasons when his judgment is embarrassed, and “ wisdom from above” is requisite ; when the time-serving confidant is treacherous, and advises only to betray ; when administration is encumbered with unreasonable opposition ; when integrity must proclaim war with the selfishness, the prejudice, and passions of men ; when unavoidable calamity has brought upon the officer the reproach of incompetency; when every mouth of party and enmity is open--how soothing to reflect, that other mouths are kindly opened in prayer for blessings from abovethat "he who seeth in secret,” the God of all wisdom and consolation, is fervently supplicated in behalf of the embarrassed and anxious ruler. Who, that has the benevolence of a Christian, can withhold his prayers ?

4. Praying for all in authority, is calculated to impress them with a stronger sense of moral character and accountability to God. Did the ruler know himself to be habitually contemplated by the pious, whether they offered up

their prayers in the closet, in the family, in the conference, or in the church ; did he find himself thus connected with the whole morality of the country, thought of as the hope or the fear of the virtuous, tested by the word and character of God, his sins confessed and their punishment deprecated in the presence of God, his virtues the subject of sacred thanksgiving, and his temptations, of anxiety and supplication-one vould think this, if any thing, would have a tendency to awaken the stupid to thoughtfulness, the conscientious to greater vigilance, and the profligate to restraint and decency. One would hope that, in such circumstances, every ruler who was not already among those left of God to." believe a lie, that they might be damned,” because they “ had pleasure in unrighteousness”--that every ruler who was not among those whom the Bible describes as “ past feeling,” would seriously think of God and of himself ; would ponder the path of his feet, and pursue a course that would bear the scrutiny of the sanctuary, as well as of the marketplace. None but those “who glory in their shame, would readily outrage all the moral feelings of the land, when they knew that the public estimate of character would not be made in the partialities of party, but the impartiality and solemnity of those who are standing before the great white throne of God and the Lamb. If then, “those in authority" should seem to be indifferent as to all conduct which party does not denounce, let us solemnly ask ourselves, whether, as Christian patriots, we have not been awfully and shamefully indifferent about the favour of the Most High towards them?

1 TIMOTHY, 11. 1, 2.--I exhort, therefore, that, first of all, supplica

tions, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men ;-for kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life, in all godliness and honesty.

Having, in the preceding discourse, contemplated the duty of praying for all in authority,” as a matter of Divine Statute, and as beneficial in its influence upon Rulers ; we are now to consider the benefits which a proper discharge of this duty would bring to Christians themselves ; and to society at large.

1. And the first benefit to Christians we would mention is, that through their “prayers for all in authority,” God may grant the privilege of leading quiet and peaceable lives, in all godliness and honesty.This is a benefit proposed and warranted by the law of God we are considering. In some countries, the ecclesiastical system is so interwoven with the civil, that a king and parliament may, by constitution, interfere with the doctrines and discipline of the church. We remember the vexations and confusion which have sprung from such interference, and are apt to imagine ourselves constitutionally guarded from the fear of evil. But even here, neither the church nor Christians are safe. Christians are yet a minority. That salutary restraint which piety generally imposes on the wicked, may be taken away. The majority may be left to prejudices and passions destructive of our peace and welfare. Infidelity may come in like a flood. Our rulers may rejoice in the torrent, and like the leaders of revolutionary France, direct its rage against the altar. Christains, and all that Christians love, may be swept away in wild and bloody confusion.

But should not professed infidelity again revive its “ reign of terror," irreligion may do enough to fill the church with “ mourning, lamentation, and woe.” Infatuation may possess our rulers. Charters of religious institutions may be denied or broken by our legislatures. Ecclesiastical censures and discipline may be dealt with by courts of justice, as libellous and criminal. Public business, trade, and all the machinery of government, may be united in violating holy time and holy institutions. Civil and political meetings may adjourn to the Sabbath. Postoffices, exchanges, and shops, may be thrown open, under plea of“ liberty of conscience,” and commerce and amusement be allowed to triumph over the “ Lord's day.” The drum may be beaten at our church doors, troops marched and reviewed, salutes given and returned, because government patronizes no sect, and national honour and convenience are supreme-till, in the perfection of political philosophy, the Sabbath may be accounted literally no day in law.” In a thousand modes hesides these, may the sacred feelings of the church be disturbed, and

the influence of her ordinances destroyed. We are too much accustomed to look for danger and oppression to the church, only from arbitrary kings. We forget that the people may be arbitrary and oppressive, and the officers that represent them, but creatures to please their constituents and execute all their follies. This is our danger-not the thunder that breaks upon our heads from thrones above us— - but the volcano that burns, and heaves, and ruins from below. It becomes us, then, to pray fervently, that our legislators may not sell their oath and conscience for a party or a vote, nor strike from our code check after check, till nothing is left for veneration and restraint ; that our rulers may not prostitute the dignity and influence of office to the interests and corruption of an unthinking mob; but that they may be men of independent principle and conduct, who will conscientiously legislate, or faithfully execute what the law enjoins--men who will “well and truly” try the cause of the poor and the oppressed-men whose whole talent and influence shall be on the side of public knowledge and morals—in a word, that they may be, what God intended them, “ ministers of God to thee for good,” “ who bear not the sword in vain,” but are “ a terror to evil doers, and a praise to those that do well.” For these things God must be supplicated ; and the blessing will rest upon us. Our hope is not in vain. “ By him kings reign, and princes decree justice.” “The king's heart is in the hand of the Lord, as the rivers of water; and he turneth it whithersoever he will.” It is his prerogative to give success or defeat to the plans of the wicked. “ The Lord bringeth the counsel of the heathen to nought: he maketh the devices of the people of none effect.” Let us, then, cast ourselves beneath the shield of the Almighty for protection, whether from the vexations and oppressions of rulers or of people. And that the blessings foretold by the prophets may be realized in our day, “ when kings shall be nursing fathers, and queens nursing mothers” of the church, let us

pray for all in authority ;" for God hath said, “I will also make thy officers peace, and thine exactors righteousness.” Thus may the church quietly and prosperously pursue her work of subduing the world to the obedience of faith. 2. As a second henefit that may result to Christians from their

prayers, the judgments of God for the sins of rulers, may be averted or mitigated. The sins of rulers have a notoriety and impudence, which seem publicly to challenge the moral government of God, and claim prompt attention and retribution. And if ever there is glory to God in the administration of his justice on earth, it is when it smites and humbles the proud transgressor, who is too elevated for odium, and too strong for human punishment. The sceptered sinner, may, for a season, exult in vanity and crime—the flatterer may cry out “the voice of a God," but wretch !-thy God loathes thee-beneath thy robes of silver, the worm shall smite thee !* “ If thou seest the oppression of the poor, and

ever «

[ocr errors]

Sce Acts xii. 23.

« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »