Let every soul be subject to the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.…
(election sermon): —
1. Government is a Divine institution for the preservation of society and the happiness of mankind. As to the substance,"the powers that be are ordained of God"; as to the form, they are left to the decision of each country and age, and are"ordinances of man"; but whether under the name of monarchy, aristocracy, or democracy, governments equally claim reverence as the depositaries of authority and the conservators of order.
2. In the duties enumerated in the previous chapter there is this — "He that ruleth (let him do it) with diligence." By the British constitution the people are the ultimate despositaries of power. "Every ordinance of man" which is to be obeyed "for the Lord's sake" is such as the people, by their representatives, make it. Every elector is, therefore, in some measure responsible for the framing of those ordinances, and should therefore labour "with diligence" that they be in accordance with truth and justice, for the good of men and the glory of God.
3. There cannot be a greater mistake than that on becoming Christians we escape from our obligations as citizens. Religion was designed to train us for heaven, not by unfitting us for the duties of earth, but by enabling us to perform them rightly. Religion would be an injury to the world if it withdrew the best men from it. True piety is nurtured and developed, not by avoiding any portion of our duties as men, but by diligently performing them.
4. Politics is the science and practice of legislation for the public good. Rightly to be political is the same thing as to promote the welfare of the people and the peace of the world. Christianity does indeed condemn the bitterness, the factious spirit, the selfish ambition which have too often disgraced political life; but Christianity, instead of, on this account, excusing its votaries from their duties as citizens, calls upon them all the more to sanctify politics by the nobler aspirations and purer motives of religious faith. What, then, is the duty of a Christian elector?
I. TO ASCERTAIN WHO AMONGST THE CANDIDATES ARE, ON THE WHOLE, MOST SUITED FOR THE OFFICE OF REPRESENTATIVE. Not wealth, rank, personal friendship, nor any favour received or hoped for, should determine his choice, but fitness, both by character and opinions, to promote the public good.
II. TO GIVE EFFECT TO HIS CONVICTION BY ENDEAVOURING TO BRING HIS FELLOW-ELECTORS TO THE SAME OPINION WITH HIMSELF. But in so doing he will avoid all unfairness in speech and conduct. As an employer, as a customer, it will never occur to him to urge his appeal. His only weapon will be rational persuasion. He will never become a mere partisan. Firmly holding his own opinions, he will do nothing opposed to the meekness and gentleness of Christ.
III. So quietly and seriously, but promptly and resolutely, TENDER HIS VOTE. He will not allow personal convenience, indolence, or fear to prevent the discharge of his duty to his country, and the exercise of that solemn function as one of "God's ministers" to which he has been "ordained," but the opportunity for which so seldom occurs. Conclusion: Let all of us, then, do our duty to our God and our country.
(Newman Hall, D.D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: 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.