The Political Princes of Modern Times

Psalm 146:3; Psalm 118:9; Psalm 40:4

Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help.

It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in princes.

Blessed is that man that maketh the LORD his trust, and respecteth not the proud, nor such as turn aside to lies.

WILLIAM GURNALL (1617-1679): I have heard that politicians can make use of a state lie—though the credit of it lasts but a little while—for great advantage to their designs.

JOHN TRAPP (1601-1699): Politicians consider not often what is just, but what is of use for the present purpose, be it right or wrong.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): Oh, how often we hear this brought up! You are told to regard the difference between right and wrong everywhere, except when you get into politics; then stick to your party through thick and thin. Right and wrong vanish at once. Loyalty to your leader—that is the point. Never mind where he leads you, follow him blindly. You are even told that you may do wrong because it is politically right. I hate such an argument!

ADAM CLARKE (1760-1832): Crimes are not lessened in their demerit by the political importance of those who commit them.

C. H. SPURGEON: There seems to be connected with politics in every country, something that besmears the mind, and defiles the hand that touches it.

ROBERT E. LEE (1807-1870): Politicians are more or less so warped by party feeling, by selfishness, or prejudices, that their minds are not altogether balanced. They are the most difficult to cure of all insane people.

JOHN TRAPP: There is no more truth nor assurance in them than in a false tale…Politicians are all for their own ends—when they soar highest, they are like the eagle, which, while aloft, hath her eye still upon the prey, which by this means she spies sooner, and seizes upon better…Nothing more ordinary, with politicians, than to cover private ends and respects with a pretense of public good: as Jeroboam told the people, it was too much trouble for them to go up to Jerusalem to worship; they should take a shorter cut to Dan and Bethel, 1 Kings 12:26-33. So Jehu, in all his reformations, had a hawk’s eye to a kingdom; his main end was to settle the crown upon his own head.

C. H. SPURGEON: May we not trust the elite? Surely reliance may be placed in the educated, the chivalrous, the intelligent?

JOHN KING (1559-1621): If princes deserve not confidence, the argument must needs hold by comparison, much less do meaner men deserve it.

JOHN WESLEY (1703-1791): They promise much, but generally deceive those who trust in them.

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): There is no depending upon their wisdom to advise us, their power to act for us, their good-will to us, no, nor upon their promises.

JOHN DONNE (1572-1631): Surely men of low degree are vanity, and men of high degree are a lie: to be laid in the balance, they are altogether lighter than vanity,” Psalm 62:9. The Holy Ghost hath been pleased to vary the phrase here, and to call “men of high degree not “vanity,” but “a lie; because the poor, men of low degree, in their condition promise no assistance, feed not men with hope, and therefore cannot be said to lie; but in the condition of men of high degree, who are of power, there is a tacit promise, a natural and inherent assurance of protection and assistance flowing from them. For the magistrate cannot say that he never promised me justice, never promised me protection; for in his assuming that place, he made me that promise…So, then, when men of high degree do not perform the duties of their places, then they are a lie of their own making.

ADAM CLARKE: “Rich men are a lie.” They promise much, but perform nothing; they cause you to hope, but mock your expectation…Men of high estate are generally proud, vainglorious, self-confident, and rash: it is better to trust in God than in them. Often they cannot deliver, and often they will not when they can.

JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): This is the reason why Scripture so frequently warns “not to trust in men, than whom nothing can be more vain,” Psalm 146:3; “Cursed is he who trusteth in man, and relieth on an arm of flesh,” Jeremiah 17:5. Yet we see both princes and men of ordinary rank contrive and resolve in such a manner as if they could establish for a hundred years all that they contrived, and could subject heaven, sea, and earth, and could regulate and dispose everything according to their will.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): The first thing the Gospel tells you is that you can never put yourself right; men can never put the world right.  Now that is the very heart of the Gospel.  Ah, the politicians say the opposite, they say, “now, we can put it right.” Well all I say is this: they’ve had a very long time, why don’t they do it?  They cannot do it. History proves that they cannot do it.—Do you people still believe in politicians?

C. H. SPURGEON: To trust God is better policy than the craftiest politicians can teach or practise.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: I heard one man say that he didn’t really see could how a Christian could possibly be a conservative.  But I heard another man say that he really didn’t see how any Christian could possibly be a socialist.  The fact of the matter is, of course, that both were wrong―both were wrong! And any attempt to equate the teaching of the New Testament with either of the political parties, or any other conceivable party, is to do violence to the teaching of the Scripture.

C. H. SPURGEON: Of two evils, choose neither.

JOHN NEWTON (1725-1807): I have so poor an opinion of the bulk both of the electors and the elected, that I think if the seats in the house of commons could be determined by a lottery, an abundance of mischief and wickedness might be prevented, and perhaps the nation might be represented to as much advantage by this as by any other method.


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