Monday Club Sermons
Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work,…
The civic virtues planted and fostered by Christianity are a theme interesting and profitable for study. One of the credentials of its Divine origin is its usefulness for this world. Finding mankind individually and socially disordered, and full of painful suffering in consequence, it is an antiseptic, arresting deadly processes, a balm, full of gentle healing, and a tonic which strengthens every manly purpose, and enters integrally into all true life of the state. It first purifies and exalts, then it directs, though using only moral forces.
I. CHRISTIANS MUST BE LOYAL SUBJECTS TO GOVERNMENT, READY FOR EVERY GOOD WORK. They must be often reminded of the obedience due to principalities, powers, and magistrates. The essential excellence and authority of human law can best be understood and appreciated by those who know the worth and heed the claims of the Divine. They know that the fabric of society is in some true sense a Divine institution. But, you say, government is corrupt, and God cannot be the author of political corruption. Very true, but the whole idea and framework of government is not corrupt. There is a sum of truth underlying the simple fact of government which is entitled to respect. Abuses should be keenly recognised, but remedies should be sought for them not by angry assault or disgusted contempt or sullen neglect. In healing the body politic, the laws of life must be respected, and employed as patiently and intelligently as when the physical body is to be healed. The practical side of Christianity in such teaching is specially timely and important today. Monetary values, domestic peace and security, time-honoured institutions, received ideas and principles, are assailed by influences and methods before which the wise, the good, and the strong well may stand somewhat in dread, if not in awe. What shall save the fairest portions of earth from such refluent waves of barbarism? The gospel is the only complete remedy. Bayonets and grapeshot may quell a temporary demonstration; but the only effectual cure is in that respect for government which Paul learned of Jesus Christ, and which Christian experience alone can fully understand. Then faithful reconstruction is possible by methods constructive, not destructive, in a spirit reverent to the essential dignity and claims of government. The Christian is not unmindful of the ills of the world, nor is he careless about their remedy. He is a man of affairs. He neither ignores nor scorns nor idly dreams about the ravages of sin wherever manifest. He deliberately and boldly grapples with them, but he uses methods which respect the laws of life and healing, laws written in the nature of things and the will of God. He knows meekness is compatible with manliness. The meek man thrusts no one aside, frowns not upon the humblest, but lives in abiding consciousness of the wants, powers, and claims of others. When this is the spirit of the world, there will be no more riots, forcible levies, assassinations; and it is only by cultivating this and kindred virtue, in the spirit of the gospel, that the world's peace will be secured.
II. WHAT ARE THE MOTIVES AND CONSIDERATIONS UPON WHICH THE APOSTLE RESTS THESE URGENT INSTRUCTIONS? Not, as we might have expected, because such walk and conversation were useful and becoming, but he points (vers. 3-7) to the sad degradation of their own past lives, full of the opposites of all Christian virtues — foolishness, disobedience, lustful pleasures, malice, envy, and hatreds. From these they have just escaped; they must pity the moral ruin which stains and disables those yet blinded. He adduces a yet stronger consideration — their difference is all a pure gift, through "the kindness and love of God our Saviour." Out of such experience, all the more because it is exalted and refined, Paul admonishes to the most practical and assiduous performance of Christian duty under the general name of "good works." In these instructions to Titus, Paul was in full sympathy with the gospel in our Lord's time, in all time. Let us note the practical workings of Christianity for the individual and the state.
1. Christianity is the only source and safeguard of lasting patriotism. Patriotism is more than aroused sensibility, or quickened emotions, however worthy. There must be loyalty to principles, and those principles take root in the teachings of Him who valued humanity not by its degradation, but by its possibilities, who revealed the law of self-sacrifice, and who enforced all his precepts by a corresponding life of voluntary humiliation and unfailing service.
2. Organised and efficient philanthropy is unknown apart from Christianity. Man is not by nature wholly regardless of the sufferings and wants of his fellow men; but sinful practices soon blunt and disable humane promptings.
3. Christianity promotes harmony, and the best conditions of growth in society and the state. Intelligence is also an incident to the prevalence of the gospel; and before it, the dark vagaries of demagogues and fanatics appear in their repulsive deformity. Patience and forbearance with those who oppose themselves are essential conditions of prosperous life in all circles from the neighbourhood to the republic. These virtues are permanently active only when inspired by Christian benevolence. "Charity suffereth long and is kind." In short, Christian doctrines and institutions are the foundation of all public utilities and perpetuity.
(Monday Club Sermons.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work,