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Proverbs 31:8-9 - Homilies By W. Clarkson

The function and the privilege of power

God gives to some men place and power; they may inherit it, or they may win their way to it by the force of their talent or their merit. When they have reached it, what should be the use they make of it? We may look first at—

I. WHAT HAS BEEN ITS HABIT . Only too often the actual use that has been made of high station and of civil or military lower is that of

Men have used their elevation only to drink the sweet cup of pleasure; or to secure to themselves the spoils of high office, the treasures which law within their grasp; or to find a mean and despicable gratification in the enforcement of their own dignity and the humiliation of those beneath them. This is "human," if by human we understand that which is natural to man as sin has dwarfed and spoilt his nature, perverting his powers and degrading his delights. But of man as God meant him to be, and as a Divine Redeemer is renewing him, all this is utterly unworthy, let us see—

II. WHAT IS ITS TRUE FUNCTION . It is that of righteousness. A man is placed on high in order that he may "judge righteously." Whether he be the king, as in David's and Solomon's time; or whether he be the magistrate, as in our own time; or whether he be the teacher, or the manufacturer, or the farmer, or the master or father in the home; whatever be the kind or measure of authority enjoyed, the function of power is to judge righteously; it is to do justice; it is to see that innocency is acquitted and guilt condemned; it is to take pains and exercise patience in order that worth may be rewarded and that sin may be shamed; it is to be a tower of refuge to those who are conscious of rectitude, and to be a source of fear to those who know that they have been "doing evil;" it is to be a strength to the righteous and a terror to the guilty.

III. WHAT IT SHOULD COUNT ITS PECULIAR PRIVILEGE ; IT IS TO BEFRIEND THE FRIENDLESS . There are those who are too weak to be of much service to their neighbours; there are those who are too selfish to cherish the ambition; but the strong man who is the good man, the man in power who has in him the spirit of his Master, will rejoice in his power mainly because it enables him to help those who would otherwise go on and go down without a helper;

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