by William Henry Bennet
By the late W. H. Bennet referring to the crowning of the late King George V and Queen Mary.
A Coronation is naturally an occasion of rejoicing and a matter to which no one can be indifferent. Scripture speaks more of anointing a king than of crowning him. At God’s bidding, Samuel privately anointed Saul as the first king over Israel (1 Sam. 10. 1), and afterwards, publicly owned him as such at Gilgal, when all “the men of Israel rejoiced greatly.” Though they had sinned in asking for a king, the presence of God was promised to both king and people if they turned not aside from following Him, and had Saul been obedient, he would have had the leading and power of that Holy Spirit, of whom the oil was a symbol.
David also was anointed by Samuel, as the Lord commanded (1 Sam. 16. 12, 13), and Solomon was anointed at the command of David, by Zadok the priest and Nathan the prophet (1 Kings 1. 39). Of Rehoboam we read, “All Israel came to Shechem to make him king,” and though nothing is said of this, we may presume that he, too, was anointed. The other cases specially mentioned are those of Jehu, who was anointed by a messenger from Elisha (2 Kings 9. 1-13), and Joash, who, having been preserved by Jehoiada till he was six years old, was then presented to the people as their king and was both anointed and crowned (2 Chron. 23. 11). It would seem, that the chief thing was the anointing, and this was done by someone having authority from God and with the holy oil prepared by divine direction (1 Kings 1. 39). Thus, the king could claim the allegiance of the people as “the Lord’s anointed,” whilst he was responsible to obey Him whose representative he was.
When we come to “the times of the Gentiles,” we do not read anything of kings being anointed. Nebuchadnezzar was the first Gentile king of this period, but though the kingdom was his as God’s gift, it was not by direct appointment, as in the case of David. God, in the exercise of His providential government, gave the kingdoms into his hand and made him supreme over them (Jer. 27. 6-8; Dan. 2. 37). This He was pleased to make known by His prophets to His own people, at the same time, calling upon them to submit to His appointment. That “the times of the Gentiles” are still running their course, we know from the words of our Lord (Luke 21. 24), and they will do so until the time is come for Israel to be delivered from their blindness, Jerusalem made a praise in the earth, and the kingdoms of the world become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ (Rom. 11. 25; Isa. 62. 7; Rev. 11. 15).
It is during this time that God has, in His grace, visited the Gentiles to take out of them a people for His name (Acts 15. 14). Not that Jews are excluded. The first believers in Christ were Jews, and all through the dispensation, some of them have been numbered amongst the called of God (Rom. 9. 24). But, whether Jews or Gentiles, those who are called into the fellowship of the Son of God are separated from the world. To suffer with Christ during the time of His rejection, and then to reign with Him, is their appointed portion. The Apostle Paul reproved Corinthian believers for reigning as kings and expressed the wish that the reigning time had come, for then faithful servants of Christ would be reigning and no longer suffering (1 Cor. 4. 8). The tendency which thus early showed itself grew as time went on, and specially after persecution ceased for a season. Thus, the distinction between the church and the world, so explicitly set forth in the New Testament, was ignored. It was forgotten that Christians are not called to take part in the world’s government but are everywhere exhorted to submit to the ruling power, except where obedience to man means disobedience to God, and in that case, they are to be prepared to suffer rather than yield. The result was that, what still called itself “the church,” aspired to the place of rule. The adoption of Christianity by Constantine early in the fourth century made it easy for people in any part of the Empire to profess to be Christians, and as a consequence, the worldliness and pretensions of “the church” grew till the Pope of Rome assumed to be the representative of Christ on earth, and even crowned kings and claimed their subjection. For a long time in this country, the rule of the Pope was supreme, but since the Reformation, the bishops of the Church of England have been appointed by the King with the advice of his ministers and have been subject to him as the head of the Church of England. By the chief of these bishops, assisted by others, is the King crowned.
In connection with the approaching coronation of King George V and Queen Mary, the readers of these pages will desire to give evidence of all loyalty and respect, only it is important to do this in a manner becoming our high calling. Especially should we assemble some time in the day for thanksgiving and prayer for the King and Queen. We have much cause for thanksgiving on their behalf as well as for the many national mercies bestowed upon us, and also much need of prayer in every respect. We may rejoice that Their Majesties so definitely acknowledge God as the source of their authority and as the One to whom they are responsible for its exercise; this must be acceptable to Him and will bring His blessing.
The very singing of that beautiful hymn, which begins as follows is good, provided it be sung with the heart and not with the lips alone:
"O God, our help in ages past,
Our hope for years to come,
Our shelter from the stormy blast,
And our eternal home;
Under the shadow of Thy throne,
Thy saints have dwelt secure;
Sufficient is Thine arm alone,
And our defense is sure."
But an event of this kind furnishes both lessons and warnings to which we do well to take heed. We should more than ever, take to heart the true position of the children of God, and endeavour to carry out what we learn. This is necessary, for we are constantly reminded that it is possible to learn the truth to a certain extent and yet not see its application. And it is not only on a special occasion like this, but habitually, that we should be exercised as to whether our conduct, the adorning of our persons, the furnishing of our homes, the pursuits that fill up our time, the use of our money, correspond with our words concerning our position as strangers and pilgrims in the world because partakers of a heavenly hope.
We should not close without adding that the coronation may well remind us that the day is at hand when the now rejected Lord “shall be King over all the earth” and He “alone shall be exalted.” That exaltation will be shared by His people, and till then, the only path Scripture marks out for them is one of subjection to the authority exercised in the world, and of prayer and thanksgiving for those who exercise it. Therefore, from our hearts we pray,
GOD SAVE AND BLESS OUR GRACIOUS KING AND QUEEN.
“Echoes of Service” 1911 & 1953.