Imagens das páginas

"Yes." To defraud the revenue in any way, therefore, is a sin against God and man, disgraceful in any one—disgraceful especially in a Christian. *

In conclusion, we are required of God to support the honour and the authority of our rulers by praying for them. There is much dependent upon them. There is not an individual in the land but is deeply and personally interested in their ability, fidelity, and worth. It is of the utmost importance that they be just, wise, selfdenying, lovers of their country, and lovers of God. But who can give wisdom? Who can give talents to fit men for great undertakings? Who can make men faithful and good? God only can supply these necessary qualifications. Therefore we are taught to pray unceasingly for all men, and especially "for kings, and for all that are in authority."

[ocr errors][merged small]

'The God of Israel said, The Rock of Israel spate to me, He that ruleth over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God." —2 Samuel xxiii. 3.

SOCIETY cannot exist without government; ^ and its existence is happy or unhappy according as the government under which it is placed is good or bad. All depends upon the faithfulness with which the' duties both of the rulers and of the ruled are discharged. The best of rulers cannot make a rebellious people happy; and a people generally inclined to peace and order, cannot fail to have their happiness greatly marred by unprincipled rulers. Honourable conduct on both sides is required in order that the nation may maintain its ground, and rise to higher and higher degrees of prosperity. What, then, is the character on the part of rulers, whether supreme or subordinate, which entitles them to the full measure of that honour which we are commanded to render them, and which makes them powerful agents in promoting the nation's prosperity?

They ought to rule in the fear of God. They ought never to forget that they are themselves under authority, and that in proportion to the faithfulness of their obedience to God, whose servants they are, may they look for obedience from those over whom they are appointed to preside. The power they wield is not their own. "There is no power but of God." They are intrusted with the exercise of it, and shall certainly be called to give an account of the manner in which they have fulfilled their trust. The best subjects will be the best rulers. The most God-fearing will have the strongest claim to be feared and honoured. The voice of heaven upon this subject is,—" He that ruleth over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God."

This implies that rulers are required to make the will of God the guide not only of their private life, but also of their public government. It is not easy to see how men who in their


hearts and in their homes are forgetful of God, can duly respect Him in their places as governors of the realm. It is equally difficult to see how men who as private persons are truly godly, can knowingly do anything contrary to God's will when they take their places in their official chairs. All ought to claim and to exercise due liberty; but none in any position or in any circumstances are at liberty to disregard the requirements or to transgress the limits of the divine law.

To say that religion has nothing to do with civil government is the doctrine of atheism. If there is a God, religion has to do with everything. In as far as we have the means of knowing Him, we ought to seek to know Him; and in as far as He has revealed His will, we ought diligently to learn it for our guidance in all the relationships of life in which we are placed. We deny Him when we consent to occupy a position in which we are forbidden to honour Him; and we should equally deny Him were we to aid in exalting to a seat of authority over us one whose avowed sentiments were contrary to the statutes of Heaven.

If it is the duty of all to inquire what the will of the Lord is, it is the duty of rulers especially. Much depends upon the faithfulness in this respect of even the humblest and least influential; and the farther men rise in authority, the more bound are they to be diligent in studying and in fulfilling the requirements of the Most High, because their duties are more numerous and their influence more extensive. Long before there was a king in Israel—while that people were yet wanderers in the wilderness— the Lord of all anticipated the time when, in the land to which He was leading them, a king should be appointed over them; and among the regulations which He laid down for the guidance of the person so exalted He said: "It shall be, when he sitteth upon the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write him a copy of this law in a book, out of that which is before the priests the Levites: and it shall be with him, and he shall read therein all the days of his life: that he may learn to fear the Lord his God, to keep all the words of this law and these statutes, to do them: that his heart be not lifted up above his brethren, and that he turn not aside from the commandment, to the right hand or to the left: to the end that he may prolong his days in his kingdom, he, and his children, in the midst of Israel" (Deut. xvii.

« AnteriorContinuar »