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violent perverting of judgment and justice in a province, marvel not at the matter ; for Ile that is higher than the highest, regardeth—and there be higher than they.” It were well for mankind, if the corruption and chastisement of rulers were confined to themselves, and their sins sank with them to the grave ; but there are two modes in which their sins reach us—by corruption and by punishment.
They prepare us for divine judgments, by their corrupting influence. “ Jeroboam, the son of Nebat, made Israel to sin," is the record God hath given eighteen times of that wicked ruler. The sins of such, have a virulence of contagion found no where else. The very principle of submission and regard for authority, implanted in nature, as the foundation of government, gives sin an influence with the people. Their superiors have weighed and discarded the claims of God—the people acquiesce and imitate. Rather than think for themselves, they ask, “ have any of the rulers believed on him ?" If they have not, this is enough to make those beneath continue in their sins. Theglare of honour-the robes of office—the pomp, the gayety, the brilliancy of their lives is such, that sin, in rulers, loses its deformity --sin in them is mere foible, frolic, spirit-it is even enviable. Rulers give the taste and fashion of the age. If by them, sin becomes a fashion, it is sure of diffusion :a tendency to imitate superiors, in evil-doing, is one of the strongest principles in man. Who need wonder, then, that sin, when descending from those in authority, should flow wide and polluting through the land ?
There are many in society, who are decently moral, not from principle, but from the constraint of shame and law; they long to riot in sin, and but for these restraints, would “work all uncleanness, with greediness.” But if those who wield the terrors of the law “ have made a covenant with death, and with hell are at agreement,” and patronize, instead of punishing transgression-if they lend the honours of their station, to annihilate all shame,—then no impediment is leftthe highway of vice is laid open--the rulers have blown the trumpet'tis the Jubilee of sinners-every profligate rushes from his retreat, and the general shout is heard, “ the Lord shall not see, neither shall the God of Jacob regard it!”- virtue is abashed-all is left to ruin, and to God. Then it is too late for prayer. The voice from the Holiest is,
Come, my people, enter thou into thy chambers, and shut thy doors about thee--hide thyself, as it were, for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast; for, behold, the Lord cometh out of his place, to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity.”
Who does not witness the confirmation of these tendencies in the history of Jeroboam, Baasha, Ahab, Louis XIV. of France, or Charles of England ? God alone can sustain the influence of moral restraint, or give the ruler “ over to a reprobate mind.” God alone can confine the evil to its fountain, or let it work its corrupting and fatal way through every portion of society. Who, then, that dreads the contagion of wickedness in high places, and knows the only remedy, can be negligent in “praying for all in authority.”
But corruption of society is not the only result of the sins of those in authority ;- they bring calamity from God upon the land. The Bible is the only safe guide, to determine the plan of God's moral government. In the pages of his word, nothing is more manifest, than that God visits on a people the crimes of their rulers. It is taught there, not by an obscure and passing hint-not by mere inference-but by direct and awful assurance-by the whole tissue of scripture history-not the history of God's peculiar and covenant people alone, but of those who were
strangers to the covenant of promise.” Lest you should suppose this plan of providence restricted to the Jews, look to Egyptdegraded, disordered, impoverished, sitting in darkness that might be felt, weeping over the dead bodies of her first born children, because her king and nobles had “hardened themselves against the Lord.” Why that mighty host, horse and rider, dead upon the shore ? They died in loyalty to king and country, but their Leader had sinned against the Lord of Hosts. Look to Assyria, Persia, Syria, Greece, or Romethe lesson is the same ; the transgressions of the ruler have been visited on the heads of the people, terrily fulfilling that declaration of the Most High—“ When the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn."
The Bible ever contemplates the ruler as the head, representative, and agent of the people, and identified with them. If such be the estimation and treatment of rulers in hereditary, what must we expect in elective governments ? Here the people give, not a tacit and implied, but an open and actual consent to the men that are over them. Here the people single them out, set them up, clothe them with office, and bid them act by the authority, and in the “ name of the people.” Has our God “ ceased to rule over the nations ?”' Should this age and land of light be a reason for greater clemency ? Were the examples of his dealing with former nations not “ written for our admonition ?”! Ah! my brethren, living as we do, under the sceptre of Him who is “ the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever,”: we must calculate to be dealt with, as a people, on the principle, that “God is no respecter of persons.' We have his decision in a case very similar to our own,
“You only have I known of all the families of the earth ; therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities." I would say then to this nation, Reckon not yourselves secure by the perfection of your constitution and laws, or by your capacity of putting down one, and setting up another. Rely not on the extent, fertility, resources, and intelligence of your country. Trust not to the broad ocean that separates you from the calamities of Europe. Confide not in the piety of your fathers, or the learning and valour of their sons. The Ruler of nations has an arm
“ Though thou exalt thyself as the eagle, and though thou set thy nest among the stars, thence will I bring thee down, saith
to reach you.
the Lord.” He can visit your land with drought or mildew-cankerworm or hail-whirlwind or earthquake-pestilence or death. not your trust in man, nor your confidence in princes.” God can bring to nought the counsels of the wise -“ give you a king in his anger, or take him away in his wrath.” He can leave the body politic to become diseased in every member, and disastrous in every movement. Perjury may fill your courts - and fraud, your corporations. Your public agents may be prodigal, and your earnings go as a tax for their vices : your elections may become scenes of riot and violence, from which the peaceful and virtuous will retire. The most unprincipled may become the masters of your destiny ; crimes may multiply ; party may war with party, section with section, till the whole land is filled with change, confusion, sedition, and blood! God can, as he has done, embroil you in the politics and contentions of Europe, and from the ocean roll the tempest of his indignation, over your shores, and valleys, and mountains. If yourselves survive the storm, how many thousands of your friends and neighbours will have sunk for ever beneath it? How long the labours and heavy taxes to repair its wastes? Of this be sure, He that is a wonderful in counsel,” is at no loss for instruments of judgment. While man is depraved, there ever will be combustibles enough in the midst of you to kindle a fire that shall consume your sins, and your confidence, and leave your country but “ a name.
Let us then fix deeply in our minds, that principle of the divine government, that the sins of rulers have a connexion with national calamities.
pray for all in authority,” that they may be kept from transgression, and the land saved from participating in their corruption and punishment. Let us pray, while yet there is hope-before their crimes shall have reached a height, to render judgments sure ; when prayers may avail nothing for the land. “ Though Noah, Daniel, and Job were in it, as I live, saith the Lord God, they shall deliver neither son nor daughter; they shall but deliver their own souls.” Then the only answer yielded to your prayers, may be, “ for the elect's sake, those days shall be shortened."
3. Praying " for all in authority,” will contribute to preserve you from sinning against them; while it will render your subordination more easy and appropriate. The law of the Lord, while it binds the ruler, and pronounces judgment against his crimes, demands from the subject, respectful language, sentiment, and action. Those for whom is " reserved the blackness of darkness for ever,” are described
murmurers, complainers," who “ despise dominion, and speak evil of dignities.” The Christian not only “ fears God,” but “honours the king.” This honour he pays " for conscience sake,” considering government as “ ordained of God.” He will not“ curse a ruler of the people." But his conscientious regard for those who are in authority, does not degenerate into unconditional submission. God is supreme. He there
fore renders to Cæsar only the things that are Cæsar's—but to God, the things that are God's. In this country, there are peculiar temptations to disrespect and insubordination. Here, the ruler comes not forward, with all the venerableness of hereditary honours, seating himself in authority, with scarce an exercise of public will. Elections are frequent, and we hardly recognise the change they make. Yesterday, the ruler was himself a subject among us-to-day he is “minister of God.” Our Press, too, is free and licentious, and the ruler comes to his seat covered with party scandal, scarce an object of respect. He was elevated, perhaps, against your will, and seems therefore, to have no title to your honour. No sooner has he attained his official station, than party rallies after defeat, and organizes more desperately, to displace him. He is envied, hated, watched, embarrassed, misinterpreted, vilified, and yet, all this time, he is, by the providence of God, ruler of the people. Christians, also, have their political connexions, interests, influence, choice. They are insensibly involved in the conversation, plans, and feelings of their acquaintances around them. They feel improperly-speak unadvisedly-and often lend themselves to a service, inconsistent with that scriptural and salutary respect due to “all in authority.” But, let your feelings be sincerely and constantly drawn forth in prayer to God in behalf of all rulers, and you will find yourselves more sensible of your improprieties-more on your guard against the temptations around you ; your submission will be more conscientious, cheerful, and exemplary; and you will, as subjects, " adorn the doctrine of God
Saviour.” 4. Praying for all in authority, will render you more punctual, uniform, and conscientious in the exercise of your elective franchise. In this country and age of light, there is less danger from the incapacity than the sins of rulers. In the political creed of Christians the declaration, that “righteousness exalteth a nation, but sin is the reproach of any people,” is second only to that fundamental article, “ the Most High ruleth among the nations." When the Christian knows the injury to public morals from wickedness in high places—when he knows the purpose of God to visit the iniquities of rulers on the people, when he knows the ordinance of God respecting rulers, that they were constituted to be “ministers of God for good,” a “terror to evil doers”when he knows that God hath assured us, “ the wicked walk on every side when the vilest men are exalted,”-it is strange that he should ever, either by remissness or partiality, contribute to exalt men who have “ fear of God before their eyes”—who deny the authority of His law, and will not administer for God-men who by example and principles, strengthen the bands of wickedness, and by despising God's moral government, throw themselves and the community out of God's favour, Such a Christian, acts with less sagacity and conscience, than the heam then who appointed Joseph over the land, because “the Spirit of God was in him." He discards the injunction, which Moses, “ who was faithfu
in all God's house," obeyed Provide out of all the people, able men, such as fear God." He forgets that the God of Israel hath said, “ He that ruleth over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God.” Inconsistent man! the bustle of party has obliterated from his mind, all but the principles and plans of his party, and he thoughtlessly " follows the multitude to do evil.”
But when, after the choice of, perhaps, some rebel against God, the Christian who has neglected or abused his privilege of voting, retires to pray for him—then, in the calm of devotion, in the presence of God, who spake the Bible, who seeth in secret, and searcheth the heart, conscience, if any be left, will rally-he feels his inconsistency and presumption-he refused to be governed by the wisdom of God, and now he has come to ask the grace of God. The “holy hands” he lifts up in prayer, have, perhaps, lifted to power an open violator of God's law. He has come to pray, perhaps, for the atheist, the idolater of this world, the denier of the Lord that bought him, the profane swearer, of whom God hath already said, “ I will not hold him guiltless.” Or he has come to pray, perhaps, for the man who robs God of his holy day, to whom God hath said, "I will kindle a fire in the gates, and it shall devour the palaces.” Or he may have come to pray for the duellist, knowing while he prays, that " the voice of a brother's blood crieth unto God from the ground.” He may have come to pray for the man who habitually "neigheth at his neighbour's door," when Heaven has already declared, " Whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.” He may have come to ask God's blessing on the fraudulent man, the gambler, the political libeller, when God hath already uttered the eternal truth, “I hate every worker of iniquity, and they that despise me shall be lightly esteemed.” He cannot but feel embarrassed. To confess the sins of the ruler, is a poor comment on his vote. To disregard them, a poor comment on his own piety. The hope of acceptance with God is doubtful, and he finds, with shame, that he may not expect the spirit of prayer, at the expense of Christian consistency. To prevent such shame and inconsistency, then, be habitual in “prayer for all in authority.”
But there is one other aspect in which we wish you to contemplate this duty.
Its beneficial operation on society at large.
1. And first,“ Prayer for all in authority,” has a endency to moderate the spirit and rancour of party. Every good has its attendant evil. Offices here are numerous and open to all. The candidates are our acquaintances and friends, and in their interests, wishes, and schemes, we are perpetually involved.
As elections are with the people, they will be constantly assailed. Reading is universal.
Inflammatory pieces come with every mail-occupy every corner and every company. Men, too vain for quiet, too idle for labour, and hungry for office, every where abound. Hoping to live by the ferments of society, their lives