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kindness and charity, devotion and piety, concord and unity, with all other virtues, would so flourish among us, that they would form the stability of our times, and make the Church of Christ a praise in the earth."
As it is by the will of God, that kings reign and princes decree justice, St. Paul gives this charge to Timothy: "I exhort therefore that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men."
It is our duty then to pray for all, without any distinction of character; for foes as well as friends, for the turbulent as well as for the peaceable, for distant nations, as well as for our own land. He then adds, and, "for kings and for all that are in authority;" giving this substantial reason for the performance of this duty: "that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life, in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour, who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth."
While the ruling power was Pagan and persecuting, he gave this admonition to the Christians at Rome: "Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist, shall receive to themselves damnation. Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience' sake. Render therefore to all their dues; tribute to whom tribute is due, custom to
whom custom, fear to whom fear, honour to whom honour."
With equal force he inculcates on the Corinthians the duty of contentment in the station in which God had placed them. This admonition is the more striking, as the word rendered servant, in our version, signifies a slave: "Let every man abide in the same calling, wherein he was called. Art thou called being a slave? Care not for it: but if thou mayest be made free use, it rather. For he that is called in the Lord, being a slave, is the Lord's free man: brethren, let every man wherein he is called, therein abide with God."
What a disregard is here manifested to outward worldly distinctions, so opposite to the spirit which actuates professing Christians in general.
To Timothy he also writes: "Let as many servants as are under the yoke, count their own masters worthy of all honour, that the name of God and his doctrine be not blasphemed. And they that have believing masters, let them not despise them because they are brethren; but rather do them service, because they are faithful and beloved, partakers of the benefit."
The Apostle considered it of such importance to the peace of society, and so accordant with the spirit of the Gospel, not to render its professors dissatisfied with their civil stations, that he adds: "These things teach and exhort. If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness, he is proud, knowing nothing.-From such with
draw thyself." So advised Solomon: "my son, fear thou the Lord, and the king; and meddle not with them that are given to change."
Writing under the immediate inspiration of the Holy Ghost, St. Peter strongly enforced the duty of subjection to the existing powers, on the Christians who were scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia :-" Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake; whether it be to the king as supreme, or unto the governors as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evil-doers, and for the praise of them that do well. For so is the will of God, that with well-doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men. Honour all men, love the brotherhood; fear God, honour the king." And then, in his second Epistle he cautions believers against such as were presumptuous, self-willed, despising government, and not afraid to speak evil of dignities.
"It is the corruption and misery of man's nature" as Archbishop Leighton observes, "that be doth not know, and can hardly be persuaded to learn, either how to command aright, or how to obey; and no doubt many of those that can see and blame the injustice of others in authority, would be more guilty that way themselves, if they had the same power. It is the pride and self-love of our nature that begets disobedience in inferiors, and violence and injustice in superiors; that depraved humour, that ties to every kind of government a propension to a particular disease; that makes royalty easily degenerate into tyranny, and
the government of nobles into faction, and popular government into confusion. As civil authority and subjection to it, is the institution of God; so the peaceable correspondence of those two, just government and due obedience, is the especial gift of God's own hand, and a prime blessing to states and kingdoms. And the troubling and interruption of their course is one of the highest public judgments, by which the Lord punishes oftentimes the other sins both of rulers and people. And whatsoever be the cause, and on which side soever be the justice of the cause, it cannot be looked upon but as a heavy plague and the fruit of many and great provocations, when kings and their people, that should be a mutual blessing and honour to each other, are turned into scourges one to another, or into a devouring fire, as it is in the parable, Judges ix. 20. Fire going forth from Abimelech to devour the men of Shechem, and fire from Shechem to devour Abimelech."
May the God of Britain preserve our nation from so awful a catastrophe, by uniting the hearts of all, as the heart of one man, in holy obedience to himself, in loyal attachment to our king, and in brotherly love to one another.
It may be asked: did not St. Paul violate his own precepts when he so awfully denounced the high-priest? If the circumstances of the case be considered, it will be found, that he was not aware that Ananias, then sitting in judgment, was the legally appointed high-priest.
Ananias was acting contrary to the law, in commanding the Apostle to be smitten before he was
found guilty. St. Paul, who knew his hypocritical character, under the influence of a prophetic spirit, pronounced his doom: "God shall smite thee,
thou whited wall."
On being informed that he was the acting highpriest, he instantly declared his reverence for the office, saying: "I wist not, brethren, that he was the high-priest, for it is written: Thou shalt not speak evil of the ruler of thy people."
Hence it is evident, that he would not thus have spoken, had he known that Ananias was at that time the officiating high-priest in Jesusalem.*
The genius of the Gospel is love and unity. These fruits of the Spirit were the subjects of our
*The following historical fact will serve to elucidate the Apostle's conduct. Soon after the holding of the first council at Jerusalem, Ananias was deprived of the highpriest's office for certain acts of violence, and sent to Rome, whence he was afterwards released, and returned to Jerusalem. Between the death of Jonathan, who succeeded him, and was murdered by Felix, and the highpriesthood of Ishmael, who was invested with that office by Agrippa, an interval elapsed in which this dignity was vacant. This was the precise time when St. Paul was apprehended; and the Sanhedrim, being destitute of a president, Ananias undertook to discharge that office. It is probable that Paul was ignorant of this circum
With respect to Paul's denunciation, God did smite Ananias in a remarkable manner; for about forty-five years after this, after his house had been reduced to ashes, in a tumult raised by his own son, he was besieged and taken in the royal palace; where, having attempted in vain to hide himself, he was dragged out and slain.
"Verily, there is a reward for the righteous; verily, he is a God that judgeth in the earth."