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of Nazareth had twice done before), and to regard Him with secret unbelief."'*

Thus, then, He came unto His own, and His own received Him not. " Neither did His brethren believe in Him." This was in the earlier stages of His Epiphany, of His manifestation as God dwelling among men.

III. But we pass on some twelve or eighteen monthsmonths fraught with tremendous issues, for in them occurred His agony and bloody sweat, His cross and passion, His precious death and burial, His glorious resurrection and ascension-and we find, that, after he had finally left this earth, the twelve Apostles went into the upper room at Jerusalem; and in the words of our second text, “ These all continued in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary, the mother of Jesus, and—His brethren.” His brethren! Whence this changed attitude ? Could crucifixion, death and burial-His utter rejection by His people, the annihilation of His claims by death, could these things convert His calculating, hesitating brethren? Yes. The path to glory in the Kingdom of Heaven is the path of suffering. Secret unostentatious well-doing ; seeking and saving the harlot, the publican, and the sinner; His meat-to do the will of Him that sent Him, and to finish His work—all this, at first despised, and not comprehended, or even misunderstood—and this cut short by a lingering death of torture and of shame, all this, when at length lit up by the resurrection, that revealing light from Heaven, and consummated by His returning at His ascension to where He was before, exalted above all blessing and praise,—this had power

* Burgon's “Plain Commentary” on the passage.

to bring His brethren, once unbelievers, to bow the knee before Him in prayer and supplication, acknowledging Him in truth, Messiah, the Prince; and to lead them to wait for His promised gift of the Holy Spirit to be sent down by Him from Heaven.

Henceforth, His brethren (cousins, no doubt, they were) are among His devoted adherents, James, the brother of the Lord, being the first Bishop of Jerusalem. It may be long before brethren can be brought to acknowledge the claims of one among them to be lord over them in intellect, in goodness, in the Spirit of God; but when that conquest is won, who more ardent supporters, who more fervent Apostles of His fame! His character has been before them from infancy; they have seen Him at play, and at work; the recesses of His character have been explored in the hours of ease, and of trial; and, if these scrutinizing, and at first unwilling witnesses, give at length their convinced, their full, their lifelong testimony to His claims, surely, we may indeed exclaim, with who needed not so long an education in belief, “Rabbi, Thou art the Son of God ; Thou art the King of Israel."

one

102

SERMON XI.

Civic Office.

BEFORE THE MAYOR AND CORPORATION OF

WOLVERHAMPTON, 1878.

ROMANS XIII. I.

66

THE POWERS THAT BE ARE ORDAINED OF GOD."

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HE authority with which we first make acquain

tance is that of our father and mother. God

causes us to come into this world, naturally, as members of a family—that family having an undisputed authority presiding over it, the authority of the parents. Their word is law to us in early life; they stand to the young child in place of God, giving us food, protecting us, arranging for us, bidding us to do this or not to do that; nature, that is, God's voice, makes

us feel

our subordination, and we do them reverence, even without the positive commandment, “Honour thy father and thy mother." This parental authority is surely ordained of God to all mankind.

But in primitive times, a father, who had an intellect above his fellows, a strong will, and a powerful frame, would exercise to the very close of life over his grandchildren, and over their wives also, and also over the servants who would gather round the family, very much the same authority which he wielded over his own sons and daughters. Hence arose the chieftain, such as Abraham. His authority, under favourable circumstances, would consolidate into that of a king: under unfavourable circumstances would be broken up and divided among his descendants, and tend to form small tribes owning little or no tie among them, such as was the case with Israel in the times of the Judges, when “there was no king in Israel, but every man did what was right in his own eyes.”

In a more developed stage of civilization we find cities founded, in which the elders acted as a council to advise upon the public policy of the city, and to see justice done, between man and man of the citizens; and these elders, in one form or another,-known in England under the title of Aldermen,--have constantly re-appeared in municipal history throughout the world.

When St. Paul wrote “the powers that be are ordained of God," the chief power lay in the Emperor of Rome--an office then filled by the iniquitous Nero; yet St. Paul

" that

does not hesitate to enjoin upon the Roman Christians obedience to that office as ordained of God—a striking proof of St. Paul's courage and singleness of mind; for many of these Roman Christians were by birth Jews, and as such, prided themselves that “they never were in bondage to any man.

You will notice he says “ The powers that be ;' are in existence;" "the Authorities de facto." In France or America, such highest authority is represented at this moment by the President of the Republic ; in Austria or Russia, by an Emperor ; in England, by the Queen. Happy, indeed, we are, that with us, at least, there is no doubt in any man's mind among us who the supreme authority is to whom we are to submit. It is not so in all countries at this time; nor was it always so in England. Time was, and some of the monuments in our Collegiate Church bear witness to it, when good men where in doubt whether they should yield obedience to Parliament or to King. St. Paul's words do not settle a vexed question like that; all he asserts is, that provided the authority be actually existing, it is to be recognised as ordained of God, and to be submitted to.

Ordained of God. In this phrase the idea of order and arrangement, as distinguished from confusion, anarchy, or the many and discordant voices of a mob, is distinctly brought forward. All God's works display method and arrangement, and it would be wonderful if society, conceivably His highest natural work, were to be left without form and void. St. Paul more than once declares that God is not the author of confusion, but of peace; and, speaking on another subject, recommends

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