1 Peter 2:13-16
Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme;…
I. THE VICES OF BELIEVERS AFFORD AN ARGUMENT TO INFIDELITY. The vices of believers are not the consequences of religion, but of its abuse or neglect; the corruption of Christian manners cannot be at all compared with the enormous wickedness of the heathen nations; those excesses, which seem more peculiarly the offspring of Christianity, were the real production of ignorance and superstition. Unbelievers are not the only persons whom our misconduct may fatally mislead.
II. EVEN IN PROFESSED CHRISTIANS THERE IS A COLD OR CONTEMPTUOUS NEGLECT OF PUBLIC WORSHIP, AND OF REVEALED DOCTRINES, WHICH IS OFTEN DEFENDED ON THE SAME PRETENCE: that it does not appear that they have either of them any actual influence on the conduct of those who regard them most scrupulously. Belief in the doctrines of religion, and attendance on its solemnities, have plainly a natural tendency to awaken our sense of those duties which the Being, whom we adore, has commanded, and to quicken our pursuit of those virtues, which it is the end of revelation to promote. And though it must be acknowledged that these means, however wisely adopted, partake in the imperfection of everything relating to man, and often fail of their ends; yet is it far from being certain that they fail so frequently, or so considerably, as the objection supposes. Religious observances, it is true, cannot divest us of our natural frailty; but they certainly give us awful ideas of the moral Governor of the world, and have a peculiar tendency to encourage that serious disposition of mind which will best secure us from great or frequent excesses.
III. THE VICES OF BELIEVERS not only furnish a pretence to the infidelity of some, and the irreligion of others, but SPREAD ALSO A VERY DANGEROUS SNARE IN THE PLAINER PATHS OF MORAL VIRTUE. The force of example on the minds and manners of mankind is universally acknowledged. Interest, inclination, and duty, the laws of man, the laws of nature, and the laws of God, are in vain united to resist its progress: every principle of action is perverted by the magic influence of prevailing fashion. As therefore the consequences of our conduct on the belief and manners of those around us are thus important in themselves; as they cannot be prevented by any prudence, nor averted by the sincerest repentance; they surely form a motive to goodness, which no thinking man can overlook, and no generous man will disregard.
(James Fawcett, B. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme;