First of all, then, I urge that petitions, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgiving be offered for everyone--
I. THE PARAMOUNT DUTY OF PUBLIC PRAYER. "I exhort therefore, first of all, that petitions, prayers, supplications, thanksgivings, be made for all men."
1. The leading place given to prayer in this series of instructions respecting the administration of the Church, proves its pre-eminent importance. It is the breath of vital godliness.
(1) God promises to hear public prayer (2 Chronicles 7:14-16);
(2) Christ sanctifies it by his presence (Matthew 18:20);
(3) the saints delight in it (Psalm 42:4);
(4) they are to be exhorted to the exercise of it (Hebrews 10:25);
(5) it is not to be conducted in an unknown tongue (1 Corinthians 14:14-16).
2. The variety of terms in which it is here described implies the diversity of circumstances in which God's people are placed.
(1) "Petitions." This term expresses the sense of insufficiency and need, and may be a special form of a particular prayer.
(2) "Prayers." This is prayer in general, as representing the spirit of devotion.
(3) "Supplications." This signifies a closer dealing with God, a more childlike confidence in prayer.
(4) "Thanksgivings." This suggests that element which ought never to be absent from our supplications - gratitude for past mercies.
II. FOR WHOM ARE WE TO PRAY? "For all men."
1. It would not be acceptable prayer if we were to pray only for ourselves. It is not Christ-like to look down with a sense of superiority upon the mass of men as sunk in perdition.
2. We are bound to love all men, and therefore to pray for their welfare. Much of our happiness depends upon our identifying ourselves lovingly with others.
III. PRAYERS ARE SPECIALLY TO BE MADE FOR KINGS AND ALL IN HIGH PLACE. "For kings and for all in high place."
1. Such persons pre-eminently need our prayers.
(1) They wield great power for good or evil;
(2) they are exposed to many dangers;
(3) they are liable to greater temptations than other men.
2. God has power to influence their public action.
(1) The hearts of kings are in his hands;
(2) he sets them up and he removes them (Daniel 2:21);
(3) he can establish their throne in righteousness and justice (Proverbs 16:12).
3. Kings can do much to promote the well-being of the Church of God. "That we may pass a quiet and tranquil life in all godliness and gravity." We should pray for kings, because they can promote our outward peace and our inward tranquility, by restraining the bad and encouraging the good. Kings can thus protect us in the exercise of our religion and in the practice of godliness. Wicked kings can expose the godly to cruel risks, and expose their gravity to unseemly perils.
4. The duty of praying for kings is not affected by the consideration that they are pagans, or oppressors, or persecutors.
(1) Christians will pray the more earnestly for them that God will change their hearts. All the kings were pagans in the days of the apostle, and many of them persecutors.
(2) It was specially necessary to enjoin prayer for kings upon Christian communities, consisting largely of Jews who had an intense longing to throw off the Roman yoke. It is a curious fact that it was the cessation of prayer by the Jews on behalf of the Roman emperor that led to the final war four years after this injunction was given by the apostle. It may have been owing to his injunction that the Christians were not involved in the disasters of that fatal rebellion. - T.C.
I exhort, therefore, that, first of all, supplications.
I. THE DUTY OF PRAYER FOR OTHERS, AND MORE ESPECIALLY FOR PERSONS IN AUTHORITY, Intercessory prayer is here stated to be a duty; for when the apostle says "I exhort," he speaks by Divine command. If we recognize the authority of revelation, we must admit the act of intercession for others to be an act in precise conformity with the revealed will of God. But there are two results of the most beneficial kind which necessarily arise from intercessory prayer.
1. In every case in which we implore God on behalf of others, we recognize Him as the source of power, authority, mercy and grace. The address we make to Him implies our conviction that He is the Preserver and the Benefactor from whom all succour is derived.
2. But prayer forgathers is, besides this, an act of charity. We cannot voluntarily exercise this duty but in the spirit of charity. Prayer for others implies, by its very act, our participation in their wants, our sympathy in their sorrows, our general interest in their welfare.
II. But the nature and importance of this duty will be rendered more evident as we consider THE DESIGN FOR WHICH PRAYER FOR OTHERS IS TO BE OFFERED — "that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty." There are two ways in which public prayer may be supposed to be the direct channel of benefit to the community.
1. In the first place, there is nothing which so tends to allay irritation, to excite compassion, to restrain envy and revenge, to calm the turbulent passions of every kind, as social prayer. Were large bodies of men honestly and frequently united in prayer to God for a blessing upon the community; were they to connect earthly government with God's kind purposes to the world of social order and of mutual good will, these united prayers would be found to be the strongest cement of the various parts of the social fabric, by bringing out before the minds of all the highest and the noblest motives by which intelligent beings, and at the same time capable of affection, can be influenced. Imagine the rich unfeignedly imploring God's blessing upon the poor — and where could be found room for the exercise of injustice and oppression? Imagine the poor praying for the rich — and where would be found room for the exercise of envy, of violence, of revenge, and of robbery? Imagine the rich praying for the rich — and where would be room for the display of rivalry, contention, and selfish ambition? Imagine the poor praying for the poor — how much kindness and mutual affection would be immediately drawn out into active operation! Imagine those in authority imploring God for a blessing on every measure they undertake, and upon all their national policy — and where would be any scope for individual and selfish aggrandizement? where would be any disunion of the interests of the ruler and the ruled? Or imagine the minds of the community united in prayer for those whom God has set over them — and where would be the wish for riot, for outrage, for insubordination, or violence?
2. But a second method in which prayer will powerfully act upon a nation is through the direct blessings which God, the righteous and the Almighty Governor, will certainly bestow. It is evident that God designs to bestow these blessings through this very channel. How easily can He send healthful seasons and external peace! How easily can He enlighten the minds, and prompt the measures of those by whom the affairs of the State are administered!
1. The constituent parts of this important duty. The several parts of public worship are comprehended in the text, in what the apostle denominates "supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks." By supplications we understand the deprecation of those calamities to which we are exposed in common with all men. The apostle next speaks of "prayers" — by which we understand petitions — which it is our privilege to present to the throne of the heavenly grace, through Jesus Christ, for the supply of our various wants. The apostle, in connection with prayer, speaks of "intercessions" — that is, prayer — for others; those petitions which we are called to offer for all sorts and conditions of men, according to their several necessities. To supplications, prayers, and intercessions, the apostle adds "giving of thanks," as an expression of our gratitude for all the benefits vouchsafed to us by the great Author of our being.
2. The extent of our Christian obligations in regard to this duty. The apostle teaches us that in our acts of public devotion we are "to pray for all men." Here is nothing partial, exclusive, or sectarian. But we are not only taught to pray for all men in general, but for our rulers in particular, whether supreme or subordinate. And as it is the Lord "that giveth salvation unto kings," to Him we ought to pray on their behalf, that He may bless them in their royal persons, families, and government. The honour, welfare, and happiness of nations depend much on the wisdom, piety, and government of those who reign. But in praying for all that are in authority, we should not only pray for kings and for ministers, but also for magistrates, who may either be a great blessing or a great curse. It becomes us to pray, from a consideration of the importance of their office.
3. The order in which this is presented by the holy apostle. "I exhort, therefore, that, first of all, supplications and prayers be made for all men." This is not a secondary duty, a thing merely optional; no; it is a duty of paramount importance, which ought to take the precedency of every other in the public assemblies of the Church of God. The prayers of the people of God are more to be depended on than all the strength of our fleets or armies.
II. THE ARGUMENTS BY WHICH THIS IMPORTANT DUTY IS ENFORCED.
1. That as professing Christians we may give no just cause of offence to the government under which we live; "that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty"; that we may be preserved "from all sedition, privy conspiracy, and rebellion"; so live as the gospel may not be blamed; but that we who, by the principles of our Divine religion, are taught to abhor everything that would be injurious to others, conduct ourselves so as to prove that we are the friends of all and the enemies of none. If the State be not in safety, the subjects cannot be secure; self-preservation, therefore, ought to lead men to pray for the government under which they live. The psalmist, a true patriot, inspired with the love of his country, a holy zeal for the glory of God, and an ardent desire for the prosperity of both Church and State, says, when speaking of the people of God, "I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the Lord. Our feet shall stand within thy gates, O Jerusalem. For my brethren and companions' sakes, I will now say, Peace be within thee. Because of the house of the Lord our God, I will seek thy good." Let us, then, cultivate the spirit of true loyalty, patriotism, and religion, as that which is best calculated to promote our individual interest, the Church's good, and the commonwealth of the nation.
2. That we may secure the Divine approbation of our conduct, which is done by sincerely, faithfully, and affectionately praying for all men; "for this is good and acceptable in the sight of God and our Saviour," and therefore has the highest possible sanction. It is not said that it is good and acceptable in the sight of God to speak evil of dignitaries, by railing against those who are higher in rank, power, or authority than ourselves, whether in Church or State. The evil is prohibited; "it is written, thou shalt not speak evil of the ruler of thy people"; and, therefore, to indulge in it were a crime in the sight of God, as well as contrary to the rules of that society by which many of us profess to be governed, which says, that "We shall neither speak evil of magistrates nor of ministers." It is not said that it is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour to treat the office of rightful governors with contempt.
3. That the will of God, in reference to the salvation of our guilty race, may be accomplished. If we ask, what is the will of God our Saviour concerning the human race? we are taught to believe that it is gracious and merciful. He "would have all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth." Many have been saved in answer to prayer; and we, have good reason to believe that more would if we had prayed more.
III. THE INFERENCES which may be deduced from the subject.
1. That we are not good subjects unless we pray for all our constituted authorities. In early times, the members of the Jewish Church were called to pray for heathen princes, even for those who carried them away captive into Babylon, "unto the God of heaven, for the life of the king and of his sons," and in obedience to the command of God Himself, by the prophet Jeremiah, as a means of securing their own interests "that ye may be increased therein and not diminished; seek the peace of the city whither I have caused you to be carried away captives, and pray unto the Lord for it; for in the peace thereof shall ye have peace."
2. If we are not praying subjects, we are not good Christians; for all good Christians are men of prayer, and no Christian can be satisfied with merely praying for himself, his family, or the Church of God.
3. We conclude, from the nature of this duty, that if we are not good Christians we shall never yield a conscientious obedience to the apostolic exhortation recorded in our text.
(A. Bell.)I. ON THE OBJECT OF GOVERNMENT. I leave it to men of another taste and profession to enter minutely into the inferior objects of government, as well as into the means by which those objects may be obtained; and, keeping within the boundary of the text, shall observe that government is intended to promote security, happiness, piety, and religious influence. It has often been stated that a large portion of all codes of law, as of all history, is a proof of human depravity. Men have fallen from God; and, corrupted in their social propensities, they envy, injure, and destroy each other. All communities, therefore, have found it necessary to agree to some restraint, and to lodge in some hands a controlling power; the individual is to be blended with the general good, that the general may return individual advantage. Security, then, is one great object of government. And it is the glory of government to hold the shield over all — to defend the poor, the fatherless, and the widow, as well as the men of might, and the great, and the noble. Now, though under God, men's personal and social happiness greatly depends on their own industry and carefulness, yet has it some connection with the government under which we live. There are numerous ways in which religion and piety may be aided by the men who are in authority, and especially by kings becoming nursing fathers, and their queens nursing mothers. The word we render honesty is of rather questionable meaning; some translate it "gravity"; its general import is to behave decorously and worthily. As connected with godliness, it implies a desire that Christians may be allowed to conduct religious worship, and the whole of their profession, in a way suitable to religion itself; and that, being delivered from the evils of persecution, they may be exempt from temptation to act inconsistently with their high vocation. The gravity and dignity here mentioned convey, however, to me the idea of Christian influence — influence of character, of benevolent exertion.
II. THE BEST WAY OF SECURING THIS OBJECT. There are numerous ways in which some good may be done, and in which, therefore, it is our duty to act. Home, and its immediate vicinity, and the nearest relations, are the great sphere of our influence; and here the Christian must act in promoting the morals, the intelligence, and the spirituality of all around him. The Christian, too, has political privileges; and in votes, and in petitions, and in every peaceful and constitutional way, it is his duty to act for the public good in the fear of the Lord. The laws, too, must be supported in their majesty by all — even by the humblest in society; as, without the countenance of the many, the few who have to enforce them, however elevated their rank and unbroken their integrity, will be too feeble, and the object of government will not be obtained. Nor must it be forgotten that well-directed charity is a most efficient way of promoting the security and happiness, as well as the godliness, of the community. The way, however, of securing this object marked out in the text is prayer. I attach importance to prayer, for the following reasons: —
1. God generally deals with nations according to their moral character and piety. From the times in which the Assyrian, the Persian, the Grecian, the Roman Powers were punished, to the days of revolutionary and sanguinary France, Providence has preached this awful doctrine. Hear Isaiah: "If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land."
2. That a nation's morals and piety will be in the degree of its prayerfulness.
3. I urge prayer, because the hearts of kings, and of nobles, and of senators — of all in authority — are at the disposal of Him who hears His people when they call. He can turn the counsel of Ahithophel into foolishness; He bringeth to nothing the devices of the wise; He inspired Solomon with wisdom; by Him kings reign and princes decree righteousness.
III. OUR PRESENT INDUCEMENT TO SEEK THIS OBJECT IN THIS WAY ESPECIALLY.
1. You will see the necessity of prayer for the nation when I remind you of the hazard which always attends measures which have not been tried.
2. You will see the necessity of prayer for the nation when I remind you of the important business which its parliament has to transact.
3. The delicate position of the nations, and our connection with them, will further show the need of grace to enlighten all who take a lead in our public affairs.
4. There is another reason why, at this time, we should be earnest in prayer of a more religious kind — viz., the near approach of the latter-day glory in the Church.
(J. K. Foster.)
I. INTERCESSION FOR OTHERS MAY BE CONSIDERED AS THE MEANS OF EXCITING BENEVOLENT AFFECTIONS IN OURSELVES. Ask me, What is the glory of an angel above a devil? I answer, It is the spirit of love which animates the one, of which the other is destitute. It is not the absence of external splendour, it is not the suffering and misery, it is the want of benevolence, by which a fallen spirit is degraded, and which makes him odious. Ask me, What is the peculiar glory of the gospel above every other religion? I reply, It is the spirit of love which breathes in it. The providence of God seems purposely to have placed the Christian in a scene where the exercise of love is needed, and his benevolent affections continually called forth; where wants and miseries present themselves on every side amongst his fellow-creatures and his friends. What can he do for them? His own means are insufficient to relieve them; but he can pray; he can implore God to supply what he cannot do. Have you a dear relation sick or afflicted? Are you indebted to a generous benefactor to whom you cannot repay the debt of gratitude? O what a just and noble return may you render him by your prayers!
II. Intercession for others will also produce the spirit of love in those for whom we pray. Love creates love. You cannot meet your friend after your heart has been engaged in fervent supplication for him, without expressing that genuine tenderness which will produce a reciprocal regard in him. Intercession enlarges the exercise of friendship: it opens a new source of love. Let not a Christian say, I am forsaken — I meet with no acts of kindness. Has he then no Christian friends? Let him think of them as interceding for him. Intercession for our friends refines our friendship and redeems it from those debasing feelings by which the attachments of worldly men are so often degraded.
III. THE THIRD ADVANTAGE ON INTERCESSION FOE OUR FRIENDS CONSISTS IN ITS EXCITING OUR LOVE TOWARDS GOD. This is its direct influence. Can you go to the Father of Mercies day by day imploring blessings upon all you love? can you diversify these petitions, adapting them to the various necessities, sorrows, and circumstances of your friends? and do you not exclaim, How infinite the riches, how boundless the power, how vast the bounty of the Being I address? He is the Giver of all good things to my children, to my friend, to my neighbour, to my country, to the whole world, to the universe!
IV. THE LAST ADVANTAGE WHICH I SHALL MENTION IN INTERCESSION FOR OUR FRIENDS IS THAT IT IS THE DIRECT MEANS OF PROMOTING THEIR WELFARE. Why, when He intends to bless, may He not do so through the medium of prayer and intercession? Can anything be more consonant to the general analogy and constitution of the world? Even the great benefits of redemption are conveyed to us through the intercession of the Redeemer. What an example did He exhibit of the performance of this duty!
V. LET US LEARN WHO HAS BEEN OUR TRUEST FRIEND, TO WHOM WE HAVE BEEN MOST INDEBTED. Think often of Him who has laboured the most for your welfare, who has most watched over your soul, and prayed the most effectually for you. Think of Him who now liveth to make intercession for you. That Friend is Christ.
(J. Venn.)Methodist, were walking in Speaker Foster's grounds one day, when Barber, who was instant in season and out of season, asked the gardener to engage in prayer. They both knelt down, and Barber was praying aloud, when Lord Cornwallis and Speaker Foster, who were out walking, heard voices, drew near, and listened. Among the requests made to God were appeals for assistance to the Government, who were placed in such trying circumstances, and that God would bless and direct the counsels of the Lord-Lieutenant — Lord Cornwallis. Barber in his prayer breathed the deepest loyal devotion, and concluded by imploring a blessing upon the Methodists, and that they should be saved from the devil and Squire Ruxton of Ardee. "Who is this squire?" asked Lord Cornwallis, and Mr. Foster replied that he was a neighbouring squire, who persecuted the Methodists. "And what does this praying mean?" asked Lord Cornwallis. "Oh," replied Mr. Foster, "this gardener of mine is one of those Methodist fellows, and I must dismiss him." "You will do no such thing," said the other. "Did you hear how he prayed for me, for the Council, for the King, and for the Government? Indeed, these Methodists must be a loyal people; and as for Squire Ruxton, just take my compliments to him, and tell him that I think these Methodists are very good people, and that he must leave them alone." That prayer of poor Barber's put a stop to the worst persecution ever endured in that neighbourhood, and, while passes were required of others, free permission was given to the Methodist preacher to go where he liked and do what he liked.I. WE OUGHT TO PRAY FOR THOSE WHO ARE IN AUTHORITY MORE FREQUENTLY AND EARNESTLY THAN FOR OTHER MEN, BECAUSE THEY MORE THAN OTHER MEN NEED OUR PRAYERS. In other words, they need a more than ordinary share of that wisdom and grace which God alone can bestow; and which He seldom or never bestows, except in answer to prayer.
1. This is evident from the fact that they have a more than ordinary share of duties to perform. All the duties which God requires of other men, considered as sinful, immortal, and accountable creatures, He requires of rulers. It is incumbent on them, as it is on other men, to possess personal religion; to exercise repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; to love and fear and serve their Creator; and to prepare for death and judgment. In addition to the various personal duties of a moral and religious nature which are required of them as men, they have many official duties which are peculiar to themselves — duties which it is by no means easy to perform in a manner acceptable to God and approved of men.
2. They are appointed and they are required to be ministers of God for good to those over whom they are placed. There is no power but of God; the powers that be are ordained of God. Since, then, legislators, rulers, and magistrates are the ministers and vicegerents of God for good, they are sacredly bound to imitate Him whom they represent; to be such on earth as He is in heaven; to fake care of His rights and see that they are not trampled upon with impunity; to be a terror to evil-doers and a praise and encouragement to such as do well.
3. As the influence of their example must be great, it is their indispensable duty to take care that this influence be ever exerted in favour of truth and goodness; and to remember that they are like a city set upon a hill which cannot be hid. Now consider a moment how exceedingly difficult it must be for a weak, short-sighted, imperfect creature like man to perform these various duties in a proper manner, and how large a share of prudence and wisdom and firmness and goodness is necessary to enable him to do it. Surely, then, they who are called to perform such duties in a peculiar manner need our prayers.
II. THOSE WHO ARE INVESTED WITH AUTHORITY NEED MORE THAN OTHER MEN OUR PRAYERS, BECAUSE THEY ARE EXPOSED MORE THAN OTHER MEN TO TEMPTATION AND DANGER. While they have a more than ordinary share of duties to perform, they are urged by temptations more than ordinarily numerous and powerful to neglect their duty. They have, for instance, peculiarly strong temptations to neglect those personal, private duties which God requires of them as men, as immortal and accountable creatures; and a performance of which is indispensably necessary to their salvation. They are exposed to the innumerable temptations and dangers which ever attend prosperity. How powerfully, then, must they be tempted to irreligion, to pride, to ambition, to every form of what the Scriptures call worldly-mindedness? It can scarcely be necessary to add that persons who are exposed to temptations so numerous and powerful need our prayers.
III. This will appear still more evident if we consider that, SHOULD THOSE WHO ARE CLOTHED WITH AUTHORITY YIELD TO THESE TEMPTATIONS AND NEGLECT EITHER THEIR PERSONAL OR OFFICIAL DUTIES, THE CONSEQUENCES WILL TO THEE BE PECULIARLY DREADFUL. They will, like Jeroboam, make their people to sin. We are informed by an inspired writer that one sinner destroyeth much good. This remark is true of every sinner, but it is most emphatically true of sinners who are placed in authority.
IV. We ought to pray with peculiar earnestness for all who are in authority, BECAUSE OUR OWN INTEREST AND THE GREAT INTERESTS OF THE COMMUNITY REQUIRE IT. This motive the apostle urges in our text. Pray, says he, for all in authority, that we may lead quiet and peaceable lives in all godliness and honesty. These expressions plainly intimate that if we wish to enjoy peace and quiet — if we wish godliness and honesty, or, in other words, religion and morality, to prevail among us, we must pray for our rulers. Farther, the peace and prosperity of a nation evidently depend much upon the measures which its rulers adopt in their intercourse with other nations. Once more, the peace and prosperity of a nation depends entirely on securing the favour of God.
(E. Payson.)I. In the first place, with respect to THE DUTY ITSELF.
1. The nature of it stands very distinctly expressed and announced in the text. Observe, however, that you are not to suppose from this, that kings, princes and senators, and "all that are in authority," are always to be considered as ungodly, unconverted men; not, it may be, a part of God's Church themselves.
2. As to the external circumstances, in which the duty is contemplated as being discharged, I would just remark that the apostle is giving direction to Timothy for regulating the actings and order of the Church as a society; and is, therefore, in the text, more especially contemplating the Church as such.
3. The internal feeling and state of mind with which the duty is to be discharged. There is emphatically demanded from us, in this duty, earnestness and warmth, sincerity and faith. Try to call into exercise a calm, resolute, honest sentiment of hearty faith in this agency which you exercise.
4. And consider, again, that in relation to this duty, every heart and every lip has its importance. It is the sum and amount of faith in the mass of the people, which is represented in the Scripture as prevailing with God.
II. TO MENTION SOME CONSIDERATIONS, WHICH SHOULD BE FELT TO ENFORCE AND URGE UPON US ITS DISCHARGE.
1. In the first place, to go to the highest at once, we have the Divine command as it stands in the text, and as that text is corroborated and sustained by other passages of the Divine Word. The will of God is the supreme source of moral obligation.
2. A consideration enforcing the discharge of this duty on Christians arises from the fact, that the possession of any power whatever involves an obligation to its proper and efficient employment. If, therefore, it be true that Christian men are contemplated as having the privilege of offering intercession for others, if they are possessed of this amazing power of presenting supplications which shall actually exercise a real agency with God and a beneficial influence upon man, the very possession of that power, that spiritual function, involves an obligation to its conscientious exercise.
3. But we go on to observe that there are these special considerations. You may put them to yourselves in some such way as this. The important position and aspect which these parties sustain in relation to God's government of the world. For kings and rulers, and men in authority, are represented as God's ministers. Because of this, we are called upon, both for their sake and our own, to commend them to God, that they may indeed be His ministers, by intelligently falling in with His will, and seeking voluntarily to accomplish His purposes.
4. Another consideration is the influence which the character, conduct, and determinations of those in authority must have upon the rest of mankind for evil or for good.
5. Another consideration which specially commends. persons in authority to the intercessions of God's Church, is the view which Christians may perhaps feel themselves compelled to take of their condition and character. It may be, that Christians may be compelled to feel that a king is necessarily surrounded by circumstances dangerous to his religion, perilous to his soul. It may be, that Christians may think that the circumstances connected with distinguished rank are unfavourable to the proper exercise and culture of those principles and sentiments, which it becomes man as a sinner to entertain, and therefore to that state of mind which is a necessary preparation for the reception of the Gospel of God. It may be, that Christians may sometimes be compelled to think that persons in these high stations are not surrounded by the best, the most enlightened and scriptural, spiritual guides.
III. CONCLUDING OBSERVATIONS. I think this subject should be felt to present to us the primitive Church in an interesting aspect, and in various ways to illustrate the greatness of our religion. This little society of Christian men — despised, persecuted, contemned — they had prayers for their persecutors; they had love for them. Let me observe, that the important Christian duty which I have been enforcing upon you tonight, must not be made a substitute for all other duties, which as Christian Englishmen you are called to perform. By being Christians, you ceased not to be citizens; as citizens, all your political duties remain the same; the only thing is, that you are to discharge them under religious motives, and with a conscientious desire in them to be "accepted of God," whether or not you are approved of men.
(T. Binney.)I. THE APOSTLE EXHORTETH CHRISTIANS TO "PRAY FOR KINGS" WITH ALL SORTS OF PRAYER; with δεήσεις, or "deprecations," for averting evils from them; with προσευχαὶ, or "petitions," for obtaining good things to them; with ἐντεύξεις, or "occasional intercessions," for needful gifts and graces to be collated on them.
1. Common charity should dispose us to pray for kings.
2. To impress which consideration, we may reflect that commonly we have only this way granted us of exercising our charity toward princes; they being situated aloft above the reach of private beneficence.
3. We are bound to pray for kings out of charity to the public; because their good is a general good, and the communities of men (both Church and State) are greatly concerned in the blessings by prayer derived on them. The prosperity of a prince is inseparable from the prosperity of his people; they ever partaking of his fortunes, and thriving or suffering with him. For as when the sun shineth brightly, there is a clear day, and fair weather over the world; so when a prince is not overclouded with adversity or disastrous occurrences, the public state must be serene, and a pleasant state of things will appear. Then is the ship in a good condition when, the pilot in open sea, with full sails and a brisk gale, cheerfully steereth on toward his designed port. Especially the piety and goodness of a prince is of vast consequence, and yieldeth infinite benefit to his country. So, for instance, how did piety flourish in the times of David, who loved, favoured, and practised it! and what abundance of prosperity did attend it! What showers of blessings (what peace, what wealth, what credit and glory) did God then pour down on Israel! How did the goodness of that prince transmit favours and mercies on his country till a long time after his decease! How often did God profess "for His servant David's sake" to preserve Judah from destruction; so that even in the days of Hezekiah, when the king of Assyria did invade that country, God by the mouth of Isaiah declared, "I will defend this city to save it for Mine own sake, and for My servant David's sake." We may indeed observe that, according to the representation of things in Holy Scripture, there is a kind of moral connection, or a communication of merit and guilt, between prince and people; so that mutually each of them is rewarded for the virtues, each is punished for the vices of the other.
4. Wherefore consequently our own interest and charity to ourselves should dispose us to pray for our prince. We being nearly concerned in his welfare, as parts of the public, and as enjoying many private advantages thereby; we cannot but partake of His good, we cannot but suffer with him. We cannot live quietly if our prince is disturbed; we cannot live happily if he be unfortunate; we can hardly live virtuously if Divine grace do not incline him to favour us therein, or at least restrain him from hindering us.
5. Let us consider that subjects are obliged in gratitude and ingenuity, yea in equity and justice, to pray for their princes. They are most nearly related to us, and allied by the most sacred bands; being constituted by God, in his own room, the parents and guardians of their country. To their industry and vigilancy under God we owe the fair administration of justice, the protection of right and innocence, the preservation of order and peace, the encouragement of goodness, and correction of wickedness.
6. Whereas we are by Divine command frequently enjoined to fear and reverence, to honour, to obey kings; we should look on prayer for them as a principal branch, and the neglect thereof as a notable breach of those duties.
7. The praying for princes is a service peculiarly honourable, and very acceptable to God; which He will interpret as a great respect done to Himself; for that thereby we honour His image and character in them, yielding in His presence this special respect to them as His representatives.
8. Let us consider that whereas wisdom, guiding our piety and charity, will especially incline us to place our devotion there where it will be most needful and useful; we therefore chiefly must pray for kings because they do most need our prayers.
II. THE OTHER (THANKSGIVING) I SHALL BUT TOUCH, AND NEED NOT PERHAPS TO DO MORE. For —
1. As to general inducements, they are the same, or very like to those which are for prayer; it being plain that whatever we are concerned to pray for, when we want it, that we are bound to thank God for, when He vouchsafeth to bestow it.
2. As for particular motives, suiting the present occasion, you cannot be ignorant or insensible of the grand benefits by the Divine goodness bestowed on our king, and on ourselves, which this day we are bound with all grateful acknowledgment to commemorate.
(I. Barrow.)I. It recommends a great duty to us, the duty of MAKING SUPPLICATIONS, PRAYERS, AND INTERCESSIONS, AND OF GIVING THANKS FOR KINGS, AND ALL THAT ARE IN AUTHORITY. II. FOR THIS IS GOOD AND ACCEPTABLE IN THE SIGHT OF GOD OUR SAVIOUR.
1. Our applications to God in behalf of the princes and rulers of this world are highly reasonable, as they are proper expressions of our good-will to mankind, whose fate is in their hands, and whose welfare in great measure depends upon their actions and conduct.
2. As the virtues and vices of those who govern, operate on all inferior ranks of men in the way of natural causes, so have they another and a more extraordinary effect; inasmuch as God doth often take occasion to reward or punish a people, not only by the means of good or ill princes, but even for the sake of them.
3. The cares of empire are great, and the burthen which lies upon the shoulders of princes very weighty; and on this account, therefore, they challenge, because they particularly want our prayers, that they may "have an understanding heart to discern between good and bad, and to go out and in before a great people." With what difficulties is their administration often clogged by the perverseness, folly, or wickedness of those they govern! How hard a thing do they find it to inform themselves truly of the state of affairs; where fraud and flattery surround and take such pains to mislead them!
4. That the providence of God doth, in a very particular manner, interpose towards swaying the will and affections, directing, or overruling the intentions of those who sit at the helm; for the king's heart is in the hand of God, as the rivers of waters; He turneth it whithersoever He listeth (Proverbs 21:1). He gives a bent to it this way or that, which it takes as certainly and easily as a stream is derived into the channels, which the hand of the workman prepares for it. These prayers are never so becomingly and forcibly addressed to God as in the great congregation. Blessings of a public nature and influence require as public and solemn acknowledgments; and the proper way of obtaining mercies, which affect many, is by pouring out the joint requests of many in behalf of them; for in the spiritual, as well as the carnal warfare, numbers are most likely to prevail.
III. I proceed to consider THE SPECIAL MOTIVE THERE PROPOSED, TO QUICKEN US INTO THE EXERCISE OF IT, that so we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. I shall briefly show in what respects the devotions recommended by the apostle contribute to this end; and how far, therefore, our own ease, advantage, and happiness are concerned in paying them. And —
1. They have a plain tendency this way, as they are a prevailing argument with God so to dispose and incline the minds of princes that they may study to promote the quiet, good, and prosperity of their kingdoms.
2. Such prayers facilitate our leading a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty; inasmuch as they express, in the most significant manner, our love, and zeal, and reverence towards the persons of princes; and by such instances of duty invite them to make us suitable returns. They effectually prevent those jealousies, which men clothed with sovereign power are too apt to entertain of their inferiors, and promote that good understanding between them, which is the common interest, and should be the common aim of both, and wherein the security and happiness of all well-ordered states chiefly consist.
3. A quiet and peaceable life is the fruit of these public devotions, as we ourselves derive from thence a spirit of meekness, submission, and respect to our superiors, and are led into an habitual love and practice of those mild graces and virtues which we, at such times, solemnly exercise and pray God to inspire us with; and which, when generally practised, make crowns sit easy on the heads of princes, and render them and their subjects equally a blessing to each other.
IV. PRESS ON CHRISTIANS THIS DUTY.
1. The princes for whom the apostle pleads were infidels, without Christ, aliens from His commonwealth and strangers from the covenants of His promise (Ephesians 2:12); and such also they were, by the permission of God, to continue for three hundred years after the coming of our Saviour, that so His gospel might not owe its first establishment, in any degree, to the secular powers, but might spread and fix itself everywhere without their help and against their will, and manifest to all the world its Divine original by the miraculous manner in which it should be propagated. If then the tribute of supplications and thanksgivings was due to those heathen princes, is it not much more due to those who are Christians, who are ingrafted as principal members into that mystical body, of which Jesus Christ is the head?
2. That the Roman emperors, for whom the apostle here directs that prayers should be made, were usurpers and tyrants, who acquired dominion by invading the liberties of a free people, and were arbitrary and lawless in the exercise of it. Their will and pleasure was the sole standard of justice; fear was the foundation of their government, and their throne was upheld only by the legions which surrounded it. Even for such rulers the first Christians were exhorted to supplicate and give thanks. How much more reasonably and cheerfully do we, who are met here this day, now offer up that sacrifice for a Queen, who wears the crown of her forefathers, to which she is entitled by blood, and which was placed on her royal head, not only with the free consent but with the universal joy and acclamations of her subjects.
3. Those who governed the world at or near the time of St. Paul's writing this epistle, had no personal merits or virtues to recommend them to the prayers of the faithful. Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius, and Nero, under whom the Christian faith was disseminated, and for all whom, we may presume, the faithful equally made their supplications were not only bad princes but bad men, infamous for their lust, cruelty, and other vices; but they were in authority, and that gave them a right to be mentioned in the sacred offices of the Church. How different from their case is ours, whose eyes behold on the throne a Queen who deserves to sit there, as well by her virtue as by her birth.
4. The emperors of Rome, for whom the primitive Christians were obliged to pray and to give thanks, were their avowed enemies and persecutors, who did what they could to hinder the establishment of the Church of Christ, and to suppress those very assemblies wherein these devotions were offered up to God in their behalf. Whereas she, for whom we now adore and bless the good providence of God, is, by her office and by her inclination the defender and friend, the patroness and nursing-mother of His Church established among us.
(F. Atterbury, D. D.)
1. A habit of praying for others, keeps our minds on a higher plane than does always thinking about our own selves. Praying for others increases in you those compassions and kindnesses toward men which society needs in every part. There is yet much rude and savage nature left among men. There is much of the forest and the wilderness left in society. We speak of them as "the mass," "the rabble," or "the common people." We think of them as we do of flocks of birds, without individualizing them; without specializing their wants, and temptations, and trials; without bringing ourselves into personal relations with them. They are mere animated facts before us. It is a bad thing for men to live, and grow up, and call themselves Christians, and form the habit of looking at the great mass of men and seeing nothing in them but their physical constitution and external relations. And the habit of praying for men brings back the manhood to your thought, and sympathy, and heart in such a way as to lead you to imagine their history, and to feel for them with a true-hearted interest. As we look at men without individualizing them, we are apt to think of them as so many forces without attributes. We see them working, delving, earning, achieving. They are to us very much like rains, like winds, like laws of nature. And the sight is a bad one because it hardens the heart. It is dangerous to look upon the weak side of men. Anything is dangerous to your manhood which takes your sympathy away from your fellow-men, and makes your heart hard toward them. What we need is to have such sympathy with men that every day we shall carry their cases before God, and look at their vulgarities in the light of God's pity, and not in the light of our own contempt and cynical criticism.
2. The habit of praying for men tends, also, to increase our patience and our tender helpfulness towards them, and prepares us for just thoughts concerning them. There is many a man who would not smite his neighbour with his fist, but who smites him unmercifully with his thoughts. There is many a man who would not pierce a fellow man with an instrument in his hand for all the world, but who does not hesitate to pierce him and wound him to the very quick with his thoughts. In the court-room of our own secret souls, we condemn men unheard. We argue their case, and they have no chance to make plea in return. And if we are Christian men, we shall see to it that that inside, silent hall of judgment, the soul, is regulated according to the most scrupulous honour, and conscience, and manhood, and sympathy.Nor do I know of any other way in which this can be so well done as by the habit of praying for others. Having, then, considered the duty, more particularly, of praying for all men, let us specialize.
1. We naturally pray for our children first. We remember them in our family prayer. And how much better it is, in praying for them, to follow out the line of their disposition, and, as it were, to bathe our affection for them in the heavenly atmosphere! How much more beautiful they will be to us!
2. Then I think we ought to pray for our associates and our friends, not in the general way alone. General good wishes are not without their use; but special prayers are needful. I do not think that we sufficiently search out and know our friends. We are to pray for all that are despised. It is wholesome that from day to day we should send our mercies out, as it were. It is wholesome that we should have something to compare our lot with. As sweet is better to our taste when we have taken something sour, so joy is better for having the touch of sorrow near to it.
3. We are to pray for all those who are in peril and distress; for all those who are shut up in various ways. Prayer for such people keeps alive pity. It deepens humanity.
4. Then we are to pray for our enemies. That duty is made special. It is made one of the fundamental evidences of the relationship of God Himself. Once more.
5. We cannot fulfil the spirit nor the letter of this command if we pray only for our own sect.
(H. W. Beecher.)
(A. Plummer, D. D.)I. GOVERNMENT IS OF GOD. It has its germ and root in the fatherly relationship. The early patriarch was monarch of his own house, lord of his own castle and flocks, and of the keeper thereof.
II. GOVERNMENT AS OF GOD IS TO BE OBEYED. Conscience, which binds us by direct ties to the throne of God, must, of course, always be obeyed.
III. GOVERNMENT AS OF GOD IS TO OCCUPY A FOREMOST PLACE IN OUR PETITIONS. First of all — too often, indeed, it is last of all, and sometimes seldom at all.
IV. GOVERNMENT BLESSED BY GOD WILL THUS ENSURE THE WEAL OF MAN.
(W. M. Statham.)
I. THE VARIETY OF PRAYER is indicated by the use of these differing phrases, " supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks." We may think of these phrases separately in order to get a clearer notion of the meaning of each; but one shades off into another; and you can no more exactly define each than you can say of the colours of a sea at sunset, "the blue begins just here, and the glow of crimson and the sheen of the gold just there." The more you pray the more you will discover the variety of soul-utterances to God; the calm contemplation; the agonizing supplication; the childlike talk with the heavenly. Father; and the seraphic praisefulness. These are only known through experience. When the untaught, unmusical lad takes up a violin, it is as much as he can do to produce one steady tone, but in the trained hands of the accomplished musician that same instrument wails, and pleads, and sings. Much more varied are the utterances of the human soul, when a full answer is given to the prayer of the disciples, "Lord, teach us to pray."
II. THE SUBJECTS OF PRAYER specially referred to in this passage are not the necessities of the saints themselves, but the wants of other men, and especially of all those who had authority and who exercised influence over society. Listen to what says in his apology respecting the practice of these early Christians. "We Christians, looking up to heaven with outspread hands, because they are free from stain; with uncovered heads, because there is nothing to make us blush; without a prompter, because we pray from our hearts; do intercede for all emperors, that their lives may be prolonged, their government be secured to them, that their families may be preserved in safety, their senates faithful to them, their armies brave, the people honest, and the whole empire at peace, and for whatever other things are desired by the people or the Caesar." If that was the custom under heathen rule, how much more is it our duty under a Christian government! Therefore let us pray that our national affairs may be guided with wisdom; that amidst the tortuous channels of foreign policy, where so many cross currents and hidden rocks abound, the ship of state may be firmly anal safely steered; that questions likely to provoke anger and suspicion may be settled on fair principles of justice; and that in all home legislation inequalities and injustices of every kind may be swept away, the needs of a chronic pauperism met, temptations to drunkenness and profligacy lessened where they cannot be removed; and thus" God, even our own God, 'will bless us, and all the ends of the earth shall fear Him." We may fairly widen the application of these words still further. Some of our truest "kings" are uncrowned. A man who directs and rules the thought of a nation has more power than one who gives expression to it; and we have seen instances in which a man has lost far more than he has gained by exchanging the position of an editor for that of a legislator.
III. THE ISSUE OF SUCH PRAYERS is thus described — "That we may lead a quiet and peaceable life, in all godliness and honesty," or rather "in all godliness and gravity," as those who are not perturbed by earthly strifes, but see in the state of society around them the germs of the righteousness and peace which are of heaven.
IV. THE ACCEPTABILITY OF SUCH PRAYERS in the sight of God is expressly asserted.
(A. Rowland, LL. B.)
(H. W. Sheppard.)
PeopleAdam, Eve, Paul, Timothy
TopicsBehalf, Desire, Entreaties, Exhort, Giving, Givings, Intercession, Intercessions, Offered, Petitions, Praise, Prayers, Requests, Supplications, Thanks, Thanksgiving, Thanksgivings, Urge
Outline1. Instruction to pray and give thanks.
9. How women should be attired.
12. They are not permitted to teach.
15. They shall be saved if they continue in faith.
Dictionary of Bible Themes1 Timothy 2:1
7414 priesthood, NT
8456 obedience, to authorities
5003 human race, and God
5005 human race, and redemption
LibraryWhere and How to Pray
'I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands without wrath and doubting.'--1 TIM. ii. 8. The context shows that this is part of the Apostle's directory for public worship, and that, therefore, the terms of the first clause are to be taken somewhat restrictedly. They teach the duty of the male members of the Church to take public, audible part in its worship. Everywhere, therefore, must here properly be taken in the restricted signification of 'every place of Christian assembly.' …
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture
Salvation by Knowing the Truth
Seventeenth Day for Kings and Rulers
Fifth Sunday after Epiphany
"Now the End of the Commandment is Charity Out of a Pure Heart, and a Good Conscience, and Faith Unfeigned. "
We Shall not be Curious in the Ranking of the Duties in which Christian Love...
The First Lie.
Believe and be Saved
Introduction to Expositio Fidei.
The Substance of Some Discourse had Between the Clerk of the Peace and Myself; when He came to Admonish Me, According to the Tenor of that Law, by which I was in Prison.
And not Without Just Cause a Doubt is Raised...
An Admonition to them who Come to visit the Sick.
Extent of Atonement.
The Fifth Commandment
The Great Slaughters and Sacrilege that were in Jerusalem.
Thoughts Upon Striving to Enter at the Strait Gate.
A Plain Description of the Essence and Attributes of God, Out of the Holy Scripture, So Far as Every Christian must Competently Know, and Necessarily Believe, that Will be Saves.
An Essay on the Scriptural Doctrine of Immortality.
According to which principle or hypothesis all the objections against the universality of Christ's death are easily solved
The Prophet Jonah.
The Preacher as an Apostle.
The Christian Prayer
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