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1 IN NEW YORK CITY, JULY 19, 1863, 




Hanover Street Presbyterian Churcli, 



He is the minister of God to thee for good."— Romans xiii : 4. 






AViLMiNGTON, July 23, 18R3. 
Dear Sir : 

Havinp^ heard witli cjreat interest, your Sermon on 
Sunday morning last, and believing that the views set forth will 
materially aid in the establishment of a correct public opinion 
upon a point so vitally important in the present position of our 
national affairs as that treated of, we respectfully request a copy 
for publication. 

With the highest regard, 

Yours most truly, 

J. V. McLEAR, 
JAS. L. DeVOU, Jr. 
To Rkv. Wm. Aikman. 

Messrs. Tuos. C. Alrich John B. Porter, J. F Vaughan, M. D., 
J. P McLear, Samuel McClary, Jr., Samuel Floyd, 
J. L. DeVou, Jr., 

Gentlemen : 

Your approval of my 
Sermon is, I assure you, very gratifying to me. Hoping with 
you, that its publication may possibly help the great cause of 
our Country which we all have so much at heart, I cheerfully put 
the manuscript in your hands. 

. Yours, with high esteem, 


Wilmington, July 2), 1F(J3. 


Tlie teacliings of the Gospel are intended to touch a man 
at every point. They are designed to reach all human re- 
lations. They instruct men in regard not only to personal 
duty to God, but, as a part of that, their duty to the family, 
the neighborhood, the nation and the world. Nothing lies 
beyond their sphere. The Gospel is intended to go with a 
)nan not simply into his place of prayer, but into his counting 
room and his workshop. 

In this wide sweep had the Bible not treated of a man's 
civil and political relations, had it given no directions how to 
regulate his conduct as a citizen, the ommission would have 
been marked and noticible. While so much is dependent 
upon these civil relations, when all his personal and domestic, 
nay, even all his religious comfort and prosperity are so in- 
woven with his political condition, it would have been strange 
had he no clear instruction in regard to the Government 
under which he lived. 

But the Gospel is complete, nothing is wanting. We find 
the duties of citizenship, a man's relations to the Govern- 
ment over him, accurately defined and clearly exhibited. I 
ask your thoughts to a consideration of these teachings as 
they are given in Romans 13 : 1 — 5. 

"Let every soul be subject to 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 unto themselves dam- 
nation. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the 
*»vil. Wilt thou not then be afraid of the jjower ? Do that which 
is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same : for he is the 
minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is 
evil, be afraid, for he bearetli not the sword in vain : for he is the 
minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth 
evil. Wherefore ye must needs bo subject not only for wrath, 
but also for conscience sake." 


We have here 1st, An EiMPHATIC command^ and 2cl^ 
Reasons given for it. 

I. The Command. ^^ Let every soul he subject to the 
higher powers.''^ What were these "higher powers" 
is explained in the clause which almost immediately follows. 
^' The powers that he/' or the existing authorities, the 
magistracy under which you live. This magistracy was 
the Roman government now administered by Claudius Nero. 
What Nero was I need not stop to say, His very name has 
been ever since the synonym of all that is malignantly base 
and cruelly despotic. He came to the imperial throne after 
Tiberius, Caligula and Claudius with all their abominations 
and crimes had occupied it. The command has from that 
fact an additional interest and significance. 

You will notice the peculiarity of the Apostle's language, 
*'the existing authorities.'' There was danger that Nero's 
administration of the imperial power, by reason of the turpi- 
tude and wickedness of the man, might be not only hated 
and despised, but opposed and trampled upon. Paul divinely 
inspired would guard his readers against this. Whatever 
Nero or his ministers might be, after all he was the execu- 
tive officer, the embodied power of the government. 

Here I am almost afraid to use the language which most 
naturally, readily and accurately expresses the idea, lest I 
shall be thought to employ it with a sinister and covert 
purpose. Yet how can you bring out the truth contained 
here in any other way than this? — The Apostle here enjoins 
upon his readers to reverence and ohey the Executive offi. 
cers ivho were then administering the Roman Government. 
In this choice of language it seems to me, he had a con- 
scious intention. He did not handle the words carelessly, 
but most accurately and with sharp definition. He 
meant to express a thought of very great practical im- 
portance, an importance which has by the majestic and awful 
events of to-day become profound to us. 

There is a subtile distinction attempted at this time 
and among this people between the Administration and 


the Government itself, and men seek to veil their disloyal- 
ty and treason, by the plea that while they reverence and 
obey the one, they may repudiate and dishonor the other. 
Let me ask you to consider this notion in the atmosphere of 
this scripture. What was that ''power" existing then and 
which the Apostle thus commanded his Roman readers to 
obey ? Shall we say it was the Government ? We shall say 
well. But let us attentively consider what we mean by 
our words. What is that thing which we call government!:' 
What was it then, that Roman Government ? Po we mean 
the laws beginning with the Twelve Tables and floating in the 
edicts of kings, consuls and emperors, and not made a code 
for five centuries after Paul was writing? What and where 
were they ? Lying inscribed on brazen tablets, written on 
parchment rolls, stored away in caj.itol and temple, was it 
these which he meant by ''the powers that be," mute, dead 
words that they were ? Was it the.-e that they should "be 
afraid" of, was it these that were "a terror," was it these that 
gave "praise," was it these that "beareth not the sword in 
vain ?" No I think not. These "powers that be" were 
something more real and tangible and living than these. 
These all were but laws, rules by which "the power" was 
regulated and ordered ; "the power" was something different 
fiir from them. Had you asked what it was, the Apostle 
would have pointed you to the magistrate passing your door 
in Rome with lictors going before bearing the fasces, the 
axe with its helve wrapped in the bundle of rods, the present 
symbol of the power which was ever near at hand to execute 
the law's command; he would have called your attention to 
the steady tramp of a century as it marched to its post, or 
to the gleam of helmet and spear, as the legions wound round 
yonder hill toward the Capitol to leave their offering before 
they passed to a distant province ; or more than all he would 
have pointed you to the palace of the Caesars and spoken of 
the one man that there was the embodied power of the Em- 
pire, at whose will it moved or stayed. Here was that 


'^ power ^^ -whicli was to be reverenced and obeyed — not in- 
tangible and unseen laws, but power administrating them. 
It was, in a single sentence, The Eoman government under 
the administration of Nero. 

But I shall not have brought before you fully the Apostle's 
tbought till I have fixed your attention more minutely upon 
the peculiar and varying form of his language. "With the 
one underlying idea in mind he speaks at first of the "powers 
that he," and then as if he would make the thought more 
specific he calls them '' rulers/' and then immediately as if he 
would give a centralizing word he speaks of "the power;" 
and finally as if he would not only make it concrete but give 
life and personality to it, he says, " For he is the minis- 
ter of God to thee/' The poor deception in terms re- 
specting government and administration when considered 
as an object of obedience flees before the pointed accuracy 
of the Apostle's words. 

Having, as I hope, gotten the meaning of the command, 
we are ready to consider 

II. The REASONS on which it is based. These arc 
1. The existing administration of the Government is 
GocVs appointment. " The powers that be are ordained of 
God/' Civil government not only but the magistrates who 
administer it have their places under the over-ruling will of 
God, they are the ordering of His providence. All human 
events are God's. Most of all, in a matter which bears so 
mightily upon the well being of human society must God's 
band be concerned. From this fact the reason follows im- 
mediately : 

2. All attempts to destroy the existing administration are 
Hows aimed at an appointmeni of God, " Whosoever re- 
sisteth the power resisteth the ordinance of God." If" the 
power," the existing administrator was the appointment of 
God, then any attack upon it became not merely a crime 
against man, but rose higher, towering into a crime against 
the majesty of Heaven. 


3. A third reason is given — Tlte individual who thus sets 
liimself agaimt the existing government laijs himself cpen tj 
Just condemnation. '' They that resist shall receive to them- 
selves damnation " or judgment. They could have no right 
to comphiin of injustice or the exertion of arbitrary power. 
The thought is immediately enlarged, as the writer goes on 
to show that any suffering or loss that might fall upon a 
man under such circumstances was the result of his own con- 
duct in placing himself where the stroke of avenging power 
would certainly fall. No iLan need fear this ''power " ex- 
cept one who by wrong-doing made himself its foe. '■ For 
rulers ai-e not a terror to good works, but to the evil.'' The 
good citizen was safe, *'Do good and thou shalt have praise 
of the same." 

4. Another reason is — The existing power is for the 
iccV. h'Jng of socidj, and for that very end, is the punisher 
of bad men : " For he is the minister of God to thee for 
good — a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth 
evil.'"' In different forms the thought is brought out that 
government was for the good of those who obeyed it. He 
looked over the Roman Empire and saw a majestic and be- 
nign power everywhere present. It covered the known 
world with a sway so almost omnipresent that it was said in 
those days that a criminal need not even attempt to escape 
its vengeance, simply because it was physically impossible to 
go where it was not. He might take, as it were, the wings 
of the morning and fly to the uttermost part of the sea, but 
there its frown should reach him, its swift behest hastening 
over roads that in their remains to-day attest the power that 
made them, would lay its hand upon the panting fugitive, 
Paul looks over this great scene, and he saw everywhere 
order, prosperity, wealth, safety for person and property. 
Enormous crimes might be in Eome, maladministration 
might be in provinces, yet beyond and above all, quiet, 
repose and happiness reigned ; cities teemed with busy 
crowds, and boys and girls played in the streets ; villas lay 



nestling in silent vallies, while harvests slept in the sun- 
shine ; palaces lined the shores of bays, artisans plyed their 
trades, travellers passed with their treasures from one end 
of the empire to another in safety ; Jew and Greek alike 
with Roman, men of all name were sate and might be pros- 
perous. Paul saw all this and recognized it as the result 
of a regulated power, a power doing good to an obedient sub- 
ject. Gathering up all that he had said he now adds in a 
comprehensive sentence, ^' Wherefore ye must needs be sub- 
ject not only for wrath but also for conscience sake," that is, 
the dictates of a wise prudence as well as a conscientious 
regard for duty will lead you to be loyal and obedient to the 
magistracy whose authority is over you. Safety and happi- 
ness depended on it, indeed, but a high regard for law aa 
from God, for this administration of government as His or- 
dinance and His plan for the welfare of human society would 
lead them to make that obedience a part of their religion. 

We need not wonder that teachings so exalted, calm, 
wise, should have done good to the Christian Church. 
Suppose that contrary doctrines should have prevailed, that 
low, partisan, bigoted views should have led christians to be 
perpetually questioning the legitimacy of the government 
and because it was badly or wickedly administered had led 
them to hurl themselves against the power of Home ; how 
long would it have been before they would have been swept 
away? But no, the instructions of the Gospel made them 
lavv' abiding men j no revolt such as Jews were evermore fo- 
menting brought them into collision with Roman power, 
they endured in time of persecution and trial, always true 
to principle and right, but patient and loyal. So they be- 
came the tried and veteran soldiers of Ptome, they made her 
conquering legions, and by and by the Church came into 
possession of all Rome's power. The result reaching over 
centuries we sec to day in the spreading growth of the church 
of God, a vindication of the benignity and the wisdom of 
i^postOiic teaching. 


I have selected this passage of God's word because it 
seems to me that perhaps never were we more called upon to 
lay its divine lessons so well to heart. 

There are several points of vital interest bearing upon the 
present movements and sentiments of this people. We have 
reached a spot when we ought to look most carefully at the 
teachings of the Bible. An honest study and consideration 
of it will brush away a cloud of sophistries which darken 
and bewilder the mind, and bring out into vivid light some 
truths which the prejudices and excitements of the hour 
labour to obscure. 

Hold up, for instance, that almost universally accepted 
distinction which is made between Government and the 
Administration of Government; a distinction invented by 
designing men to hide and cover up their treason and accept- 
ed too unsuspectingly by man}^ of the loyal who would give 
their lives for their country. 

Let me ask you, to what do we here to-day owe the qui- 
etude and repose that we enjoy ? How is it that we are as- 
sembled so peacefully in God's house ? why are our homes so 
full of comfort? whence comes the protection which we 
have enjoyed ? why have you so reaped the reward of your 
industry ? why have you enjoyed all that has made your lives 
so safe and so happy ? You answer me, and answer me 
right, because law has reigned supreme, because a great and 
strong government has protected us in all these things. 
You know too well, the terrific events of the last week have 
burned it upon the brain of this people, what is the value of 
order begotten and supported by law. But suppose I press 
the question still further and ask how is it that law has 
reigned? Tv'hat indeed do you mean when you use this lan- 
guage, what do you mean by law being supreme ? What can 
you mean but that power has acted according to wholesome 
law, that there has been a power which has protected, guard- 
ed you so well that violence and crime have not dared even 
to raise their head ? What, I press you, what could laws 


written never so fairly and printed in never so many ponder- 
ous volumes, have done to shield your firesides or make safe 
your gains ? There has been power over you. Whence has 
come this power? There has been some loill at work, some 
executive in all this. Whence, what has it been ? I reply 
and you echo in the words of the scripture of to-day, '-the 
powers that be,'' "the power" ^*he who has been a minister to 
thee for good/' or using almost the word of the scripture, the 
existing administration of this government. I know that 
this sounds strangely and possibly it startles some of my 
hearers, but I know not how we can escape the inexorable 
conclusion. If the ^-powers that be," if the successive admin- 
istrators of the mighty power of this government have not 
done us all the good under God which this people have ever 
had, then I know not where to look or what to answer. 
Abstractions, empty, and deceptive phrases, words have not 
done it. Power has been here. Power wielded by men, 
men have been executives of power. It has been so all 
along our history. It is so to-day. 

In that old Roman time it wos Nero, tyrant and wretch 
that he was, who was the representative, the embodiment of 
the power of Rome, and whatever of wrong and crime he may 
have been guilty of, and Paul knew it all well enough, yet 
the peace, the order and the happiness that reigned over the 
world, might be traced up to that existing administration of 
power which he was exercising. The benefits were so great 
and counterbalancing, that he could well pass all else by and 
demand from every Christian reverence and honor, and 
say with divine authority, "Render therefore to all their due, 
tribute to whom tribute is due, custom to whom custom, 
fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor." And this is the 
lesson of this hour to all men in this land. Whatever w^e 
may think of men or of measures or of policy, yet after all 
the truth returns upon us that we owe our present sta- 
bility, OUR comfort, our repose to the power of this 



WHOM God has placed over tjs ; and bringing the 
thouglit to its last analysis, TO the chief ^magistrate of 
THIS NATION. In this I am as far as possible from flattery or 
adulation. I am simply coming up to the point to which 
the plainest reasoning conducts nie and the word of God 
directs. Evils, wrongs, mistakes, wickedness may be com- 
mitted, yet after all, the good which blesses us to-day, what- 
ever that may be, under God comes from the administration 
of the power of this people. 

Taking our stand on this word T remark again, you can 
measure and estimate the comlact of tJwse uJio assail the 
Government as it is now administered in this land. You 
and I may not be pleased with it all, you and I may wish it 
were better, but at present it is all the government 
WE have. They talk of overthrowing the administration, 
but it is the '• power that is,'' it is the present ordinance of 
God, the only minister of God to us for good. All such 
plottings, all such wishes are, if this word be true, a high 
crime against God as well as against man. 

We have been taught during this week that has just gone 
what these teachings do legitimately reach after. Those 
scenes of horror from which humanity turns sickening awa}^, 
and which hang a cloud of enduring shame over the great 
city of this nation, a city I have been proud to call my birth- 
place, are the true and proper result of the talk of men who 
have adopted the fallacy which I have been combatting. 
These secret plotters, who go whisp3ring round, who have 
never one honest word of S3'mpathy for the government in 
its death struggle with treason, who secretly exult in its 
disasters, who grow silent when loyal men exult in victories, 
whose countenances are lit up with smiles when loyal hearts 
are sad, who poison the minds of the ignorant with insinua- 
tions and accusations against the government, these are the 
men who invite j^ou to this dance of death and this banquet 
of blood. The mob fiercer and bloodier than beasts of prey, 
in comparison with whose relentless cruelty the tiger's rage is 


lamb-like mildness, is the true child of these deadly foes of 
your country and mine. They walk among loyal men, their 
homes and their persons and their wealth are overshadowed by 
the power they stab, they lay up their stores, they rejoice in 
their increasing riches, the creation of good government that 
is over them, while they go .softly about with the venom of 
the silent viper under their fangs. The burning of a home 
over the heads of a thousand orphans, the murder of unre- 
sisting men, the hanging of ghastly corpses to the lamp-post 
while slow fires consume the mutilated body, striking down 
the officer of the law, trampling out the very form of humanity, 
laughing with demoniac joy at the death struggle of the 
form they have dragged over the pavement, dashing back 
the poor bruised head that faintly in its unutterable agony 
tries to rise, these and horrors that pen refuses to record and 
imagination grows sick at, all these are what those who hero 
and elsewhere are secretly opposing and plotting against this 
government would have come upon us. They are co-laborers 
with their brethren in that guilty and bloodstained metropo- 
lis. My soul come not thou into their secret. Would that 
we could say with a divine charity, " Father forgive them 
they know not what they do." The awful days of this 
week in New York do tell them what. But will they heed 
the teach ino> ? 


The discussion of this Scripture teaches, if I mistake not, 
another lesson. The nece ssiff/ of prompt and vigorous meas- 
ures against all those ivho at sic-h a time as this set them- 
selves in word against the government. Talk you of infring- 
ing the liberty of speech ? There is a time when men must 
not speak. The Alpine company following tremblingly and 
in dreadful silence their guide under an overhanging ava- 
lanche which a breath will bring in hurtling ruin upon them, 
will brook no word from even careless lips; that is not a time 
for free speech. It was words, only words that brought all 
this late murder and arson, that carnival of death, as dread- 
ful and horridly fantastic as history tells of. 


But were there no such results, how shall one find 
words to express his deep indignation at the utter baseness of 
the man who can receive all the favors which a good govern- 
ment gives him, who can enjoy his home, his propert}^, simply 
because the arm of its executive protects and shields him, 
and at the same time be doing all in his power secretly to 
weaken and destroy it ? The meanness is unspeakable. An 
open foe in arms is an angel in comparison with him. The 
one would destroy the government but give another in its 
place ', this would destroy and give you anarchy and blood. 
Too cowardly to be an open enemy, he stabs the bosom on 
which he leans, seeks to plunge his knife in the heart ex- 
posed by the arm that embraces him. It cannot be that 
many who allow themselves to oppose the government and 
sympathize with its foes do understand the meaning of 
their acts. 

In this light the rifjhteousness and the propriety of arrest- 
ing such persons appears. In arresting them, you guard 
against great crimes, I know and I feel the hardship and 
am not unmindful of the suflFering caused by such arrests ; 
but it is a foreseen evil that the subject of them could have 
avoided. I know well that the answer is made : The tim.e 
may come when the like measure shall be meted out to you. 
I accept it in all its extent. I take this Scripture and from 
it I would regulate my life. Were that dastard flag with its 
three bars and I know not how many stars, waving here as 
the symbol of dominant power, if I choose to remain enjoying 
its protection, my home and my family guarded by its execu- 
tive, I should deem myself vile indeed to do or say aught 
against it, I would by every principle of manly honor be 
silent and lift not a finger in opposition. If I must oppose 
it, let me like an honest man first go from its shelter. But 
let me never be guilty of asking and taking its care, and at 
the same time be helping its foes Least of all let me not 
be evermore obtaining my safety from its magnanimity. No 
my friendS; there is a principle not only of manliness but 


of cliristianitj here. If a man has ''the power as a minister 
of God to him for good," he is bound to be honestly obedienfc 
to it. He should not complain when in his resistance he 
finds that " He bcareth not the sword in vain.'' 

These are no private opinions of the preacher, but, as I 
firmly believe, the teachings of God's word, teachings 
which it is of immeasurable importance that all of us should 
understand. God has given us too good a government to 
be lightly trampled down. It has done you and me, yea it 
is doing you and me every hour good which we do not com- 
prehend ; this administration of it, which we allow ourselves 
sometimes to talk against, is doing us too much of good for 
us to plot its destruction. What that good is, learn in the 
holy quiet of this hour, in contrast with hoarse shoutings 
and the death groans that made the streets of yonder city 
oTow pale a few hours ago. Let us bless God for it and 
anew pledge our hands and hearts before Him that we will 
hold it up. To-day we come into God's house with swelling 
hearts for all His undeserved favors to this people, but of all 
the victories which God has given us, for none have we such 
reason to praise Him as the victory over the recent 
plottings of traitors to strike down the law, over mad and 
liideous riot., I pray you think of all that might have been, 
of the nameless horrors of a mob, and henceforth have a 
deep reverence and love for law ; see in a new light your 
duty to give a loyal support to those who administer it. 
Would that this American people might understand what 
God has given them to do. We are working out something 
for all the ages to come — The Supremacy of Law in the 
hands of a free people. 


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