The Purpose of Government

Pentecost 18 Saturday

Luke 16:8

“For the children of this world are craftier than the children of the light in their own generation.”

Just as the spiritual government or office should direct the people above themselves to God to do right and become blessed forever, so the secular government should rule the people beneath it and provide that body, goods, honor, wife, child, house, farm, and all possessions remain in peace and safety and are blessed on earth. For God wants the government of the world to be a type of the true blessedness and of his heavenly kingdom, as if the former were a mime or mask of the latter. In the government of this world, he lets his great saints be active, one better than the other, but David as the best of all. To be sure, God subjected and commended the secular government to reason because it is not to govern the salvation or eternal possessions of the soul, but only bodily and temporal possessions, which God subjects to man, Genesis 1:28. This is also why the gospel does not teach how this secular government is to be administered and rules; it only commands us to honor and not resist it. This is why the Pagans can talk and teach well about this, as they in fact did. And, let truth be told, they are far more skilled in this than the Christians, as Christ himself says in Luke 16:8, that the children of this world are craftier than the children of the light. And St. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 1:26-27 that not many are called who are wise, noble, and strong, but that God has chosen what is foolish, weak, and despised. We daily
experience how swift, cunning, crafty, and nimble the children of the world are compared to us who are honest, dull, good, and simple minds and sheep. If God did not stand by us and turned their lofty wisdom into foolishness, they would have changed many things already before we had even noticed it. For God is a mild, rich Lord who distributes gold, silver, riches, dominions, kingdoms among the godless, as if it were chaff or sand. In the same way he also distributes among them great reason, wisdom, language abilities, and oratory, so that his dear Christians appear like children, fools, and beggars compared to them.

St. Louis ed., 5:856-857.

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