Reformed Baptist Fellowship

Election Year

In Reformed Baptist Fellowship on March 25, 2016 at 10:14 am

voted

Exodus 18:21a Moreover thou shalt provide out of all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them…

The fear of God, in scripture, does not mean a slavish, superstitious dread of a cruel Being; but a reverence that arises from habitually considering God’s glorious perfection and providence; his moral rule of the world, love of holiness and hatred of vice. He sees every thought and action of his creatures, and will punish the impenitent and reward the virtuous. The fear of offending him produces obedience to his laws, together with hope in his mercy and love due One so amiable in character…Without this fear, a man is unworthy of any trust or confidence. No principle so promotes this regard for virtue, as the fear of God. A man may follow virtue when he faces no strong temptation to the contrary. But when temporal infamy and misery are a certain consequence of practicing virtue, and temporal honor and happiness the consequence of forsaking it, will [he] adhere to his duty without regard for God, as his ruler and judge? Will he sacrifice all for the sake of virtue, when he has no expectation of reward beyond the grave? Will he embrace reproach, poverty and death to do what is right? With no fear of God this ought not to be expected…

Men invested with civil power are much more exposed to temptations to violate their duty than other men: They have more opportunities of committing injuries; and may do so with less fear of present punishment; they need every possible restraint to keep them from abusing their power….

A holy life comprised of the fear of God, has a powerful tendency to ennoble the mind and beget an abhorrence of everything cruel and base; to inspire a magnanimity and fortitude of spirit that will prevail through the greatest dangers and difficulties; refine and purify the heart, disengage it from the vanities of the world, and beget good will and benevolence – the brightest part of a virtuous character. Contemplating daily the perfections of the Deity naturally will lift the affections and fix them upon divine things, make us love and seek to imitate the moral character of God; and weaken the lusts so apt to draw men aside and entice them to sin…

Circumstances often occur to leaders, which call for greater wisdom than they possess, though they may be very able men. In such cases we are directed to look up to God, the inexhaustible source of wisdom. God may give us a more just views and lead us to wiser decisions, than we would otherwise have made… There is little reason to think that this light and direction will be given to men who have no fear of God. Though they lack wisdom, they will not ask it of God, “who giveth to all men liberally and upbraideth not.” Without divine counsel, their conduct will be wrong and ill-judged, calculated in many instances, not for good, but harm, even destruction.

It is important for their happiness that religion and virtue prevail among a people. Government should use its influence to promote them. Rulers should encourage the people both by their example and authority… Without such, there is danger that the people will forget God and abandon themselves to immorality. God has made religion and virtue necessary to the happiness of human society. It is the duty of the civil magistrate to promote them.

Taking this care for religion appears so plain and important a duty, that a government that wholly neglects it, would be guilty of base ingratitude and a daring affront to heaven. By such conduct they, in effect, adopt the language of the profane fatalists mentioned by Job, who “say unto God, depart from us; for we desire not the knowledge of thy ways. What is the Almighty that we should serve him! And what profit shall we have if we pray unto him?”

Faith in the gospel of Christ should be considered an important qualification for civil rulers. Impious, immoral men at the head of government, with authority to appoint subordinate officers, will choose men of their own character, and so spread corruption and much injury to society.

From a 1780 political sermon by Dr. Simeon Howard, successor to Rev. Jonathan Mayhew at Old West Church in Boston, edited.

Submitted by Max Donner

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