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those who were inflicting a sudden death upon him, “Lord, lay not this sin to their charge.”
The Lord himself rejoiced with them that do rejoice, when he performed his first miracle on the festive occasion of a marriage.” And when he sympathised with the lamentation of those whom he loved, at the grave of Lazarus, he has shown us how to weepwith those who weep." And certainly the example of Him, who “when he was rich, for our sakes became poor;” who “came not to be ministered unto, but to minister"— his example may teach all to disregard high things, to condescend to men of low estate, not to cherish lofty conceits of themselves.
For so, and so only, will “the same mind be in them, that was in Christ Jesus.” This is the secret source from which such dispositions are derived. It is only as bearing his yoke, who was “meek and lowly in heart:” as imitating him, who must ever be “about his Father's business:” as “seeking first the kingdom of God,” and having the affections there: as following his steps, who “loved us and gave himself for us:” it is only thus, that we can be kindly affectioned one to another : or diligent in the business of our stations: or patient in tribulation : or liberal in bounty: or gentle and forgiving: or so minded towards all men, as those who love their neighbour as themselves.
Such, moreover, is the world in which this character is to be maintained, that opposition, ill-treatment, must be expected, and provided for. Instructions are given on this head also. 17. Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. 18. If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. 19. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine: I will repay, saith the Lord. 20. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. 21. Be not overcome with evil, but overcome evil with good.
8 Acts vii. 60. 9 John ii. 1–1 1. * John xi. 33–35. 2 Phil. ii. 5.
By precepts like these the natural disposition is restrained, which injured pride excites to hatred and revenge. “Instead of the thorn comes up the fir tree, and instead of the briar comes up the myrtle tree;” instead of violence and enmity, gentleness and peaceableness prevail. What the natural disposition prompts, was shown by David in the case of Nabal. He had been refused the aid which he had a right to claim, and resolved to avenge himself.” “So, and more also,” (he vowed,) “do God unto the enemies of David, if I leave aught that pertain to Nabal by the morning.” Thus he was overcome of evil. He was afterwards brought to a better mind; learnt not to recompense evil for evil; and said to Abigail his counsellor, “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, which sent thee this day to meet me: and blessed be thy advice, and blessed be thou, which hast kept me this day from coming to shed blood, and from avenging myself with mine own hand.”
* See Is. lv. 13. * 1 Sam. xxv.2—35.
The lesson was not lost upon him. Pursued by Saul with three thousand chosen men, David and his captain Abishai, “came upon the people by night:* and behold, Saul lay sleeping within the tent, and his spear stuck in the ground at his bolster. Then said Abishai to David, God hath delivered thine enemy into thine hand this day: now therefore let me smite him, I pray thee, with the spear even to the earth. And David said to Abishai, Destroy him not :—As the Lord liveth, the Lord shall smite him; or his day shall come to die; or he shall descend into battle, and perish.”
Here he ocercame evil with good; and acted on the maxim, Avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine: I will repay, saith the Lord." “Say not thou, I will recompense evil: but wait on the Lord, and he shall save thee.” So doing, if thine enemy still persecute thee, as Saul still persecuted David, thou shall heap coals of fire upon his head.” Thine enemy makes his case more heinous, if having received good for evil, he still remains an enemy. “The Lord will reward him according to his works.” But thou hast “delivered thy soul,” in striving, as far as lieth in thee, to live peaceably with all men."
* I Sam. xxvi. 2–11. " Deut. xxxii. 35–43; Ps. xciv. 1. 7 Taken, together with the preceding precept, from Proverbs
xxv. 21, 22. See Scott's remarks on this passage. 8 2 Tim. iv. 14.
LECTURE XXXVI. OBEDIENCE TO CIVIL GOVERNMENT ENJOINED.
ROMANs xiii. 1–7.
1. 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.
Our Lord had said to his disciples, (Matt. xxiii. 10.) “Be not ye called masters; for one is your master, even Christ.” These words might be so misinterpreted, as if they were exempt from submission to lawful and constituted authorities. It was not unlikely that they should be so misinterpreted. The Jewish nation had always been proud of their freedom. They boasted, “We be Abraham's children, and were never in bondage to any man,”—long after it had ceased to be true, and when they had forfeited through disobedience the protection of their heavenly King. Many amongst them treated it as an intolerable grievance, that they should be forced to pay tribute to Caesar.” Others, too, might be led by their natural temper to resist all earthly power, and pretend that it was their duty or their privilege, to “stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ had made them free.”
St. Paul corrects this error. It is the will of God that men should be under authority. The powers
! John viii. 33. * Matt. xxii. 17. 3 Gal. v. 1.
that be are ordained of God. It is the appointment of his providence, in conformity to which the world is governed. The child is under the authority of its parent. The servant is in subjection to his master: the family to its head : the wife to her husband. And so in civil concerns, and the affairs of a nation. All cannot govern; still less can all remain ungoverned, to follow their own ways. Some must have authority for the benefit of the whole. Therefore the powers that be are ordained of God. In one sense, no doubt, they are “the ordinance of man,” as St. Peter calls them:" individually they are appointed, not as Saul by God himself to be king of Israel, but by man for his own convenience' sake, and according to the usage of the country: Solomon reigns, because he is the son of David; Caesar rules, because the people consent to obey him; and Festus or Felix rule, because Caesar commits the government into their hands: still it is God's ordinance that there should be kings and governors, and that they who are kings and governors should be obeyed.
2. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God; and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.
They that resist, shall justly lie under condemnation, both from God and man. Man will condemn them as disobedient subjects; and God will not defend them, though professing to be his servants, if they oppose the earthly government which he has ordained.
Yet we find the apostles, (Acts v. 29) when for
* 1 Pet. ii. 13.