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THE DUTY OF PRAYING FOR GOVERNORS.
I TIMOTHY II. 1, 2.
I exhort that, first of all, fupplications, prayers, in
tercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men ; for kings, and for all that are in autbority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life, in all godliness and bonesty.
N exhortation from an Apostle al- disc.
ways merits attention; but more especially, when he himself assures us, that the subject of it is not of an inferior or secondary nature. " I exhort that, first of “ all” - The person exhorting is St. Paul, the duty to which he exhorts is a capital and leading article. It is the duty of inter
DISC. cession to be made by all men for all men,
to manifest the love we bear for one another, as members of Him, who, at the right hand of God, ever liveth to make intercefsion for the whole race of mankind. Our prayers are united with his, and by him offered to the Father; his merits, like the cloud of sweet incense from the altar, afcending with them, to render them effectual. Effectual, in some manner, they must be, when rightly made ; otherwise, we should not have been exhorted to make them. The falutary influence produced on our own minds by a performance of the duty, has been sometimes assigned as the only reason for it's being enjoined. That influence is great and falutary indeed, seeing it is impossible we should long bear ill will to those, whom in our prayers we beseech God to blefs with
every kind of blessing in time and eternity. It is an excellent method, therefore, of softening the temper, and inducing a mild, merciful, and forgiving disposition in the person intereeding. But to say that no benefit accrue's to the perfon or perfons for whom inter
Cession is made, what is it but to contradict disc. the whole tenor of Scripture, which shews us in so many instances the regard vouchsafed by Heaven to the prayers of men, and the favours granted in consequence of them. It is necessary for us to settle ourselves firmly in the belief of this point, because no man will persevere in doing that which he
apprehends himself to do to no purpose. As tó the manner in which the divine Being orders and adjusts his various dispensations, we can no more comprehend it, than a fly on one of the columns of the building in which we are now assembled, can comprehend the magnificence of the whole, or the proportion of the several parts. He will certainly perform that which he has promised: how he will perform it, is a confideration which belongs to him, and not to us. Proceed we therefore to the immediate subject of the day, namely, the duty of making intercession for kings, and for all that are in authority. The reasons on which this duty is founded shall be considered, as they respect God; as they respect those
DISC. who govern; and as they respect those who
I. As they respect God, it would indeed be sufficient, that he has enjoined the duty, even though we could affign no other reason. There is no danger lest He should be too absolute. Whenever he commands, we have nothing to do, but to obey; and we shall always find our account in it. " This” says the Apostle in the words immediately following the words of the text-" This “ is good and acceptable in the fight of “ God our Saviour;" of God who is our Saviour, of, of our Saviour who is God ; for it holds either way. But what are we, finful men, thy unworthy servants, O Lord, that we should be sufficient to do any thing that is good and acceptable in thy sight? What are we, if, when thou art graciously pleased to say so, we should either refuse or neglect to do it?
But there is a very obvious reason why this is deemed good and acceptable in the
fight of God our Saviour. It is an acknow: DISC. legement of his providence, his power, and his goodness : of his providence, as superintending and directing the affairs of men ; of his power, as being able to protect, preserve, and prosper those for whom our prayers are preferred; and of his goodness, as being willing so to protect, to preserve, and to prosper them. What the act of interceffion thus implies, is expressed, with woniderful sublimity, in the daily collect for the king, when we style God, “our “ Lord and heavenly Father, high and
mighty, King of kings, Lord of lords, “ the only ruler of princes, who does from « his throne behold all the dwellers upon “ earth;" and therefore “ beseech him with « his favour to behold our most gracious
sovereign lord,” who reigns over us. This is a noble confession of the unlimited extent, the undoubted fuperiority, of divine Providence; a powerful argument for confidence that we shall obtain the petitions we ask; and as powerful an argument against impeding the fuccess of our prayers, by