Page images
PDF
EPUB

seed royal, was patronized by Jehoiada the high-priest, who concealed and educated him in the temple, for the space of six years, and afterwards established him in the lawful throne of his fathers. And it is recorded of him, that when he came to his kingdom, he did that which was right in the sight of the Lord, all his days, that Jehoiada the priest instructed him. It is, therefore, pleasing to the Lord, that the civil magistrate should attend to the spiritual instruction of his faithful and legitimate priest.

Here, also, we have an account of that orderly controul which, in things circumstantial, the civil magistrate may lawfully exercise over the priesthood, for the good of the church.

The sons of the wicked Athaliah having broken up the house of God, and bestowed its holy vessels upon Baalim, Jehoram commands the priests and Levites to collect money for the necessary repairs of the temple, and to superintend its application. And when he observed that the work

proceeded slowly, he called these spiritual officers to account, and concerted a plan

with the high-priest, to enforce the execu. tion of his orders. This, also, was right in the sight of the Lord : and hence it

appears to be the province, and the sacred duty, of the civil magistrate to interpose his authority in things circumstantial, for the wellbeing of the church. Thus, the mutual connection between church and state is sanctioned and approved by the word of God.

It is, however, recorded as a blemish in the government of this prince, that the high places—the schismatical and idolatrous altars -were not taken away: the people still sacrificed and burnt incense in the high places. And when the alliance between the state and the true church was dissolved; when Jehoiada was dead, and his successors disregarded ; this seed of discord enlarged itself into an impious and fatal apostacy. The king and his princes left the house of the Lord God of their fathers, and served groves and idols; and wrath came upon Judah and Jerusalem for their trespass. (2 Chron. xxiv. 18.) Jehoash put to death the son of his great benefactor, for reminding him of his transgression : nor did he himself escape the judgment of God.

His enemies prevailed against him, and laid the land desolate; and he was slain in his bed, by a conspiracy of those servants whom he had countenanced in their idolatry. From this history we learn, that the co-operation of the civil and spiritual powers, each in his lawful capacity, in support of true religion, is well pleasing in the sight of God; and that a departure from this mutual duty is the subject of divine wrath, and the cause of public calamity. This unfortunate prince not only contemned the religion of his fathers, but also the sacred and personal engagement under which he ascended the throne: for Jehoiada made a covenant between the Lord, and the king, and the people, that they should be the Lord's people. He went farther: he took care not to set up a sole arbitrary lord over God's heritage, nor to leave the rights of the sovereignty vague and undefined-he made a covenant between the king and the people. We are not warranted to conclude, that, in this act, the high-priest exceeded his commission : for it is recorded of him, that he did good in

Israel, both toward God, and toward his house.

The co-operation in the sacred cause, which is thus sanctioned by the approbation of the word of God, was not to be superseded in the prosperous ages of Christianity. It is of these times that Isaiah declares to the church, Kings shall be thy nursing fathers, and their queens thy nursing mothers. (Isaiah, xlix. 23.)

There may, indeed, be a community of nominal Christians, which acknowledges no bond of union between civil and spiritual government. Such a state may, for a short period, maintain a tumultuous and disorderly cxistence, whilst the magistrate preténds to hold an even balance between God and Belial*, and each of the citizens professes whatever is right in his own eyes, and gives it the name of Christianity : but we are now speaking of the thing itselt, not of spiritual libertinism.

It is not easy to conceive a disunion and

* By the use of this name, I intend nothing more than to describe, in general, that spirit which promotes division and disorder.

want of mutual co-operation between the civil and spiritual powers, in a state where the governors and the governed are equally members of the undivided church of Christ. In this church, all the subordinate ranks are commanded - 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. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. (Rom. xiii. 1, 2.) They are put in mind, to be subject to principalities and powers, and to obey magistrates. (Tit. iii. 1.) They are again charged-Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man, for the Lord's sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; or to governors, as unto them that are sent by him, for the punishment of evil-doers, and for the praise of them that do well. (1 Pet. į. 13, 14.) Here the submission of the people-of the general body of the church-is secured to the governing powers of the state, lawfully constituted and in the lawful erer. cise of their respective authority.

If the prince, the magistrates, and the legislative body, be infidel or heretical, a

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »