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on the verge of heaven, repeat old Simeon's song, and then look on children, and on children's children, following in the same path to the Mount Zion above ; where fathers hold forth the word of life by a holy example, before their families ; and mothers enforce the lesson by all the sweetness of female piety ; where the young are strong to do good, and find their pleasures in the fulfilment of their duty ; and where lisping infancy is taught to sing hosannas to the Son of David. O, what a scene of loveliness! Here are the charities of domestic, and the kindness of social life. Here peace descends like the dew of Hermon : and love, like the holy oil, which consecrated God's high priest, diffuses its blessedness through the whole society. Here are heard the inspiring notes of hope, and the higher strains of heavenly joy Nor need we wonder ; for heaven is here begun on earth. Now contrast this scene, with the ignorance, the tyranny, the licentiousness, the cruelty, the debasement, the brutality of heathenism !_Well ; it is the object of the missionary enterprise, to shed light into all those dark habitations of cruelty ; to pour through those sinks of sin the purifying waters of salvation ; to awaken love in the hearts of the cruel, and hope in the bosoms of the wretched; to give the bread of life to the perishing, and salvation to the lost. And must this work of love, in this land of light, have to encounter the fierce and steady opposition of determined enemies !-Father forgive them, for they know not what they do!
But the work must be done—and it will be done. God has said it. The church has heard his voice; and is girding on her armour of heasenly proof; and is going forth in the name and spirit of her Redeemer ; and the Lord goes before her. Every mountain shall be levelled, and every valley shall be exalted ; the crooked places shall be made straight, and the rough places smooth ; and all flesh shall see the salvation of God : and all kindreds and tribes of men on earth, and the ransomed in heaven, the four living creatures, and the four and twenty elders, and the cherubim' and seraphim, that stand in presence of the divine glory, in strains,
" Loud as from numbers without number, sweet
As from blest voices, uttering joy," shall celebrate the everlasting triumphs of Truth and Love.
ON PRAYING FOR ALL IN AUTHORITY. 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 bead a quiet and peaceable life, in all godliness and honesty.
PRAYER, however natural and familiar, depends for its right performe ance and hope of prevalence with God, on a revelation from himself. Without such instruction, we should not have known either how, or when, or where, or for what to pray-we should not have known whether prayer was at all acceptable, or if accepted, to what degree it would avail. How can a child of nature know, that God, in the highest heavens, encircled with celestial society, engaged in celestial employments, will regard his prayer? How shall he know that even God can help him, and that fate is not stronger than any power above? If he believe that God can help him—how shall he know in what way the government of the universe is distributed, and blessings obtained ? Shall he consult the experience and usages of nations ? They have worshipped a thousand different gods, in many thousand different forms. Shall he avail himself of the genius and wisdom of poets and philosophers to relieve his anxieties? Some reply, that the gods exercise no control over events below-that their attention is confined to heaven and heavenly things. Others, that their administration extends indeed to earth, but only to its mightier concerns. Socrates and Pythagoras tell him, it is not safe to pray for any particular thing, because no man knows what is good for him. Others tell him, he should not pray at all, but silently leave all to the divine disposal. Thus is the child of nature more and more bewildered the farther he explores-involved in doubts, s or cut off from all sympathy, and hope, and comfort. “We know not what we should pray for as we ought.” We need divine instruction : and we have it --clear, ample, and comforting—in the Sacred Scriptures. 56 Ask and ye shall receive.” Nor need we “ ask amiss.” How thankful, then, should we be for the instruction we have receivel how careful to improve each divine direction. In the text before usi, is distirici
light on one object of prayer--an object which involves the interests of ourselves and our children--of our country, and the church of God. We would, therefore, invite you to a serious consideration of THE DUTY AND PRIVILEGE OF PRAYING “FOR ALL IN AUTHORITY.” We shall consider this much neglected duty,
I. AS A MATTER OF DIVINE STATUTE ;
First, The Divine Statute. “] exhort, that first of all, supplications, (i. e. deprecations of impending judgments.) prayers, (petitions for temporal and spiritual good things,) intercessions, (addresses to God, that he would defend and support the faithful, or convert and save their enemies,) giving of thanks, (grateful ascriptions for mercies conferred,) be made in reference to all men-for kings, and for all that are in authority, (clothed with office, legislative, executive, judicial, civil or military.)
It may be surmised, that the statute was local and temporary-adapted to the Jewish character, and the former condition of Christianity. It is true, that the Jews were characterized by an intolerable national pride, and ever bore the yoke of subjection to a heathen master, with peculiar restlessness and aversion ; and that their final refusal to offer at the temple, the customary sacrifices in behalf of the Roman emperor, was the signal of insurrection, revolt, and war, which ended in the destruction of temple and nation. It is also true; that the Gospel was first preached to Jews—the first Christian church was mainly composed of Jews—the first ambassadors of Christ were Jews-and all Christians, of whatever nation, resembled Jews, in worshipping an omnipresent Spirit, and opposing the polytheism and idolatry of Rome in all its forms. And the most learned Roman historians of those ages appear ignorant of the broad distinction between Christian and Jew. It may be admitted that Christians, as they were liable o be involved in the suspicions and odium attached to the Jews, had need of peculiar caution, to make it manifest, that they possessed another-a meek and benevolent spirit. The change that Christianity was about to make in the religion of the Roman empire, and the persecution Christianity was about to sustain on this account, as well as for its holy and uncompromising spirit, rendered it necessary, that a sect "every where spoken against,” should manifest a loyal and benevolent disposition, in “ praying for kings and for all in authority.” But all these considerations only show, that the precept was peculiarly necessary in those times; and not, that it was unnecessary in all others. Many Christian precepts and duties, ever binding and important, are more especially so, under peculiar circumstances, as often as these may occur. But there are features in the statute which show it to liave been originally designed for general and permanent authority. It was given to Timothy, who was invested with power to " set in orders the things of the Church, and display its
appropriate character. It is introduced among general principles-laws of universal and permanent application-has its place in the lasting records of the church. It is announced in a manner which conveys most impressively its pre-eminent importance—“I exhort,” urge, “ first of all.” The prayer it enjoins is leisurely detailed in all its variety—“ sup plications, prayers, intercessions, giving of thanks.” The duty is proposed first in general terms, involving an extent surely not temporary and local. -- for all men ;”—then, emphatically and restrictively—“ for kings and for all in authority.” It is accompanied with motives, surely not local and tempor ry—“ that we,” the church, “ 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.”
Further, the duty is not novel, and was never understood by the aneient Christian church, to be local and temporary. The Jews in their Babylonian bondage were directed of God to “ seek the peace of the city whither I have caused you to be carried away captives, and to pray unto the Lord for it; for in the peace thereof shall ye have peace.” This practice of prayer for their actual sovereigns, whether Persian, Egyptian, or Roman, was continued till the last fatal revolt which“ took away their place and nation.” The ancient Christians felt this law, contained in our text, to be constantly and universally binding; and therefore ever scrupulously “prayed for all in authority,” whether Pagan, Arian, or Christian. The custom is mentioned by Polycarp, Justin Martyr, Tertullian, Cyprian, Dionysius of Alexandria, Origen, Athenagoras, and Lactantius. It is found in all the ancient Liturgies. The early apologists refer to it as a proof of Christian submission and loyalty—“ We continually,” say they, " pour forth supplications and prayers, for driving away your enemies, procuring rain, and either for removing or moderating your calamities; and we pray instantly and incessantly day and night, for your peace and safety-appeasing God and rendering him propitious unto you.” Against the charge of Celsus, one of the earliest and bitterest enemies of the Christian faith, that Christians were wanting in their duty to the Emperor—they refer to their prayers for an answer. The practice has been specially approved and adopted by some modern churches, and incorporated in their forms : but we fear the duty is too much neglected by Christians generally, both in their public and private devotions.
Though, it were sufficient, that we discover no reason in the statute, to prove it temporary in its intention--that it accords with the spirit of Christian and divine benevolence--and was constantly obeyed in the ancient church, as a preccpt of lasting and universal obligation-yet it may serve to deepen our sense of the importance of the duty if we consider in detail
II. ITS BENEFICIAL OPERATION.
There can be no stronger appeal to the conscience than “ thus saith the Lord”—than any clear manifestation of his will. All religion consists in recognising his authority and glory--submitting to a duty because it is His will, and not simply because it is a decision of our reason. Reason is essential to religion, in detern:ining the evidence that God has willed, and the exact meaning of his will. But to perform a duty, merely because it is reasonable and beneficial, without à reference to the authority of God, is performing no act of loyalty-it may be sacrificing to our own pride and selfishness. The authority of the divine statute should be most solemnly regarded. But as our God, to manifest more impressively, the perfection of his nature and government, has seen fit to point out the reason and benefit of his laws, it becomes us to contemplate these references. They enable us to determine more anquestionably the moral and perpetual nature of a statute ; and every reason thus presented in God's law, becomes a new expression of his will-a new introduction of his authority, and a new obligation to obedience.
In contemplating, by the light of sacred scripture, the duty proposed in our text, we shall find it forcibly recommended to our regard, by the benefits it is calculated to afford to the ruler ; to the suppliant himself : and to the world around him.
First ; To the Ruler.
1. If those who are in authority, are not pious, prayer for them may bring about their conversion and salvation. This seems to be suggested in the connected passage, “who will have all men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth," as an object of desire to a Christian. Whether he is influenced by the spirit of the second great commandment, “thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself-or by a regard for the glory of the grace of God, nothing comes with a stronger recommendation to his heart, than that which has any tendency to " save a soul from death.” Benevolence and divine law alike constrain him. At any expense, at any hazard, he perseveringly seeks it. Prayer for rulers may result in their salvation. He finds that the Father of mercies has said, “ the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” He finds that when of old, a man sick of a palsy was brought by others, and laid at the feet of Jesus, he, seeing their faith, said to the sick of the palsy, “thy sins be forgiven thee." The Christian therefore will benevolently “ pray for all in authority,”. though they be sinners.
In the exercise of the most impartial judgment, according to that test which has been furnished by our blessed Lord, “ by their fruits ye shall know them,” the Christian will discover many “in authority,” to be utterly destitute of even decent morals, to say nothing of religion. This will naturally be the case, while the majority of men are ungodly: or the moral are negligent in the exercise of their influence. The