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of his character as can be found in sacred history, presents him before us as uniting eminent holiness before God, with great dignity of character among men. And, as a subject, he was worth more to Hezekiah, than all the princes who stood about his throne. In times of darkness and difficulty, he knew how to help his king take courage, and “strengthen himself in the Lord his God.” When Hezekiah's pride had gone into a display of his resources to the ambassadors from Babylon, he inquired into the matter, and reproved his royal master for his good. When hypocrisy showed itself in high places, he knew how to lift his voice and say, “ Hear the word of the Lord, ye rulers of Sodom : give ear unto the law of our God, ye people of Gomorrah.” His estimate of human greatness, as in the hands of God, is peculiarly impressive, when he says to Judah and Jerusalem, “Behold, the Lord, the Lord of hosts, doth take away the mighty man, and the man of war, the judge and the prophet, the prudent and the ancient ;” predicting the disastrous changes which should befall the government and the country. Still more impressive is his picture of wicked greatness, defeated; which he drew for the king of Babylon; "How hath the oppressor ceased! the golden city ceased! The Lord hath broken the staff of the wicked, and the sceptre of the rulers.” And after a description of the relief of the oppressed, in his overthrow, he proceeds, following him beyond death, to say, “ Hell, from beneath, is moved for thee, to meet thee at thy coming : it stirreth up the dead for thee, even all the chief ones of the earth ; it hath raised up from their thrones, all the kings of the nations. All they shall speak and say unto thee, Art thou also become weak as we? art thou become like unto us? Thy pomp is brought down to the grave, and the noise of thy viols; the worm is spread under thee, and the worms cover thee.” By the sick bed of Hezekiah, he knew how to give the faithful warning, “ set thine house in order, for thou shalt die and not live,” and to “cry unto the Lord,” in earnest prayer for him. When he saw selfish pride in a ruler, he could go and say to him, " what hast thou here? and whom hast thou here, that thou hast hewed thee out a sepulchre here, as he that heweth him out a sepulchre on high, and that graveth an habitation for himself in a rock. Behold the Lord will carry thee away with a mighty captivity, and will surely lower thee,” “ drive thee from thy station,” “ pull thee down.”
While thus showing to earthly rulers who and what they were, he pointed them to another, in contrast with themselves, and said, “ Behold, a king shall reign in righteousness.
In the life and character of David, there are some instructive facts. He lived under the government of Saul, long after he was anointed king in Saul's stead ; and he lived in the exhibition of conduct and character, peculiar for a man in such circumstances. He consented to be a soldier under him in the field ; fighting his battles; hazarding his life for the success of Saul's arms. When Saul was in trouble, from “the evil spirit” sent upon him as in a state of reprobacy, David tasked his own skill as a musician, to quiet the unhappy man.
His whole conduct was of such an unexceptionable character, as to attach to himself Saul's own son in a most ardent affection ; and constrained him to say to the king, “Let not the king sin against his servant, against David; because he hath not sinned against thee, and because his works have been to thee-ward very good ; wherefore then wilt thou sin against innocent blood, to slay David without a cause?” When Saul “cast his javelin at him," repeatedly, he simply took care of his own life, without the least retaliation, or change in the loyalty of his conduct. After having repeatedly escaped with his life, from the hands of Saul, seeking his blood; and been hunted from one part of the kingdom to the other with a band of soldiers; and had repeated opportunities to take Saul's life, as being completely in his power ; he yet keeps up in his heart all his respect for him as “the Lord's anointed," against whom nothing should tempt him to lift his hand. One of the most vindictive acts in David's life, was, his causing to be put to the sword the murderer of Saul, while he rebuked him saying, “ How wast thou not afraid to stretch forth thine hand to destroy the Lord's anointed;" “thy blood be upon thy head.” And the
! whole circle of Hebrew elegy does not furnish a more beautiful specimen of tender and honorable lamentation for the dead, than that of David for Saul and Jonathan, commencing “ The beauty of Israel is slain upon thy high places; how are the mighty fallen!”
It would be interesting to go into the examination of the examples of Moses, Samuel, Nathan, Micaiah, Elijah, Elisha, Nehemiah, Ezra, Mordecai, Esther, with Jeremiah and others of the prophets; as also of many other individuals, whose
virtues, in their conduct toward rulers, are delineated with more or less particularity, in sacred history. Additional to the characteristics of those already mentioned, we can only name a few. Samuel was loyal and respectful, and even affectionate toward Saul; while by the commanding holiness of his character, and his faithful rebukes of his sins, he made Saul to tremble before him. Nathan, though he loved David, and honored his crown and sceptre; yet, if occasion required, he could draw before David's eyes the hateful picture of himself with a most bold and faithful hand, and then say to him, that he might not fail to discover the likeness, “ thou art the man.” Elijah, though he thought himself alone in all the realm of Ahab, as one who feared God; and lifted his lamentations to God from the midst of the ruins of the holy altar, and with the blood of prophets flowing around him; yet, made Ahab turn pale under his eye, and at the thunder of his denunciations. Elisha could say, whatever duty called him to say, to king Jehoram the son of Ahab, or to the unbelieving lord of Samaria, or to Benhadad king of Assyria ; and treat with both exemplary kindness, and yet with the lofty dignity of a prophet, the Assyrian general, who came to him a leper. Nehemiah and Ezra, though captives at a foreign court, knew the way into the favor of the government under which they lived, by the virtues of men of God and of prayer; and gave honor to their religion, before those who carried them captive, by their conscientious respect and deference to constituted authority ; their industry and enterprize ; their faithful regard to economy and justice in expenditures committed to them for the building of Jerusalem ; their steadfast loyalty ; their fearlessness in the
i path of duty; their devotional spirit; their respectful earnestness in petitioning for reasonable favors from the government on which they were dependent; their faithful endeavors for the reformation of abuses; and their maintenance of the laws of God, in the reproof of their violation, no matter by whom. Mordecai and Esther could with all the respect which became them, ask the protection of Ahasuerus ; and by their good conduct, make his denial of their reasonable requests out of the question ; and yet, in the commanding dignity of virtue, could make the haughty prime minister, Haman, tremble, while they laid open his perfidy to “the wrath of the king." The prophets and apostles might be brought in review before us likewise, in their intercourse with the higher powers,"
and their conduct under them; as shedding the light of a godly example; and showing that the religion which has descended from heaven, under both the Old and New Testament dispensations, is a religion which makes the best subjects; and does most by its influence for the stability of government, and the prosperity of nations.
We have reserved to this stage of our examination, the example of one, "who knew no sin." There is no precept for holy life in the Bible, but has its illustration in the life of our divine Lord and Redeemer. And when we have admired all the examples of the holiest men; we turn to the example of Christ, and find that perfection is in him alone. "Render to Cæsar the things which are Cæsar's; and unto God the things which are God's," was a great and comprehensive precept, which he gave to a collection of his enemies, who thought to tempt him to disloyalty to the existing government. He thus taught that there is an entire harmony between obedience to God, and to "the powers that be" and which are "ordained of God; " and that a Christian's obligations are discharged when both these are done, and then only. It would be interesting to contemplate our divine Redeemer as "manifested in the flesh," under the various circumstances in which he was placed while on earth; and which would show that the Sovereign of all worlds had come down from heaven, among other things, to give an example for his people, as living under the government of this world, of "whatsover things are pure, lovely, and of good report."
We would simply call attention to the fact, that when he said, "thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels," for his rescue out of the hands of power most impiously prostituted, he "committed himself unto him that judgeth righteously," and "suffered himself to be led as a lamb to the slaughter," and "as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so opened he not his mouth."
As affording farther light on this subject, and confirming some of the positions expressed or implied in the foregoing illustrations, we give a few additional passages from Scripture. "If the spirit of the ruler rise up against thee, leave not thy place; for yielding, pacifieth great offences." "Thou shalt not revile the gods, (i. e. great men,) nor curse the ruler of thy people." "Curse not the king, no, not in thy thought." The obvious intent of the term "king," in these
and many other Scriptures, is, one who rules; without reference to the precise form of government which he administers. Here let it be observed that the Christian is the last man in civil society from whose lips should be heard evil speaking respecting any man ; especially men in places of authority; and equally far from a censorious and self-wise spirit, in judging and speaking of acts of government which have been well intended, and performed with the best judgment which could be made under existing circumstances. He should be easy to be pleased. He should remember that for well intended and perhaps many wise and righteous acts, he is under obligations as a citizen. And for such as are unhappily otherwise, feelings and language becoming him are far other than those of opprobrium. Two things should be remembered by him. First, that those who administer in public affairs, are often called to act under peculiarly critical and difficult circumstances; where there is a powerful conflict of opposing interests; where the excitement of party spirit is great on both sides, and in danger of influencing the feelings of rulers, almost unconsciously to themselves; and of course where pleasing every one is out of the question; and that to be done which is according to the best judgment they can form. Second, the Christian, as well as every other private man, should remember that he is not " in the cabinet;" nor under circumstances for taking into view the whole length and breadth of a great national question. Not every good man, at home, as a private citizen, is capable of communicating to legislature or congress, governor or president, messages of counsel on measures or decisions proper to be adopted; or to transmit to the seat of government the veto of his opinion, on a matter where he happens to differ from the executive or the representative assembly. He inust place reliance on the judgment of men chosen as the legislators of his country; as devoting themselves to the examination of public subjects on the large scale ; and in the variety of lights in which they are set, by the efforts of great, though in some respects differing minds. The time may come, when he will be satisfied that they have done right. If they have not, opprobrious speaking of them and their measures will not make the matter any better. He must cherish the spirit of forbearance and forgiveness, as much respecting wrong done to the community as to himself.
“ My son, fear thou the Lord and the king; and meddle