The Authority Of God. -- By: James W. Ward
BSac 2:7 (Aug 1845) p. 437
The Authority Of God.
The most exciting questions that are ever contested by mankind, have respect to the rights of individuals or communities. If lawsuits arise between neighbors,—if feuds between families or wars between nations, they are, generally, but conflicts for human rights. The numberless political partizans and orators that aim to guide popular opinion, the itinerating lecturers that swarm in almost every town and village, and even the mobs which break out in our cities recklessly wasting property and life, are all contending for the rights of the people in some of their varied relations,—the rights of the poor, the rights of the rich,—the rights of the debtor, the rights of the creditor—the rights of the native born, the rights of the foreigner—the rights of the master, the rights of the slave. In the midst of the smoke and dust of this contention for human rights, the rights of God have been most unreasonably overlooked or disregarded. It may not therefore be amiss to bring his rights a little more prominently before the public eye.
Among the important rights which God claims to himself, and which reason and Scripture abundantly accord him, is the fundamental right generally expressed by the word “authority.” In treating upon this right the first question that arises is, what is meant by the phrase “the authority of God?” Unquestionably this phrase is often employed without any clear and bounded idea of its meaning. A shadowy conception of something connected with the character and government of God floats in the mind, but the thought assumes, in the mind’s eye, no distinct form or shape. What then is meant by the phrase “the authority of God?”
To this question it may be replied that the divine authority is not the same thing as the divine power or the omnipotence of God. The word authority is, in common parlance, sometimes used interchangeably with the word power, as when we speak of the authority or power of habit; and hence it happens that the divine power is often confounded in the mind with the divine authority. But the two things are, and ought to be preserved, entirely distinct from each other. A beggar may have great physical power,
BSac 2:7 (Aug 1845) p. 438
much more even than his king, but still have no authority. So God might have power even if he were divested of all authority. His authority is not then synonymous with his power. His power may be used to vindicate his authority and carry it into effect, but it is not the same thing as his authority.
Nor ought authority to be confounded with influence or moral power. A being who possesses authority ought indeed to have influence a...
Click here to subscribe