Abbildungen der Seite
[ocr errors]

and there can be no doubt: this comparison fully drawn out What good we are to expect from kings and governors, St. Paul has told us, 1 Tim. ii. 2. The peace of society is the very end of temporal government; and when promoted by those in authority, then they are justly to be esteemed as ministers of God for good to the people, who in return are bound to obey; and this intitles them to the praise and protection of those in authority. By these two arguments St. Paul supports his doctrine of obedience: that they are rightly divided he himself bears witness in the next verse; wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake: here he refers only to two arguments, one drawn from wrath, and one from conscience : the former respects the present life and the magistrate's power; for the wrath of God is included in the latter, which is no argument without it; for what is conscience where there is no fear of God? You must then submit for wrath, because the magistrate has the power of God to execute wrath on him that doeth evil; for conscience, since he that resisteth the power resisteth the ordinance of God. The sixth verse only mentions a particular instance of obedience, the paying tribute, as being the very ground of this dispute. St. Paul, under the duties of subjection, comprehends not only those owing to kings, but to every superior; nay, even to our equals : Rom. xiii. 1.; and thus concludes, oue no man any thing, but to love one another ; referring even the duties of love to this head of subjection : but more on this point hereafter. The Apostle's concern was with such as were for denying the right of government, and being every man his own king; he did not therefore intend to consider the measures and limits of the power of earthly princes; nor can the argument reach this point, nor has Scripture meddled with it: it has commanded obedience to all governors, and left us the laws and constitutions of our country to know who they are, and what they are. The Apostle, in teaching this doctrine,

was chiefly concerned for the honor of the gospel, and exhorted to obedience, that the name of God and Christ might not be blasphemed. Had he taught the Christians at Rome that the emperor was ordained by God for their good, and that they were bound to obey him only so long as he was good to them ; would this have cleared them of the scandal they lay under ? No: it would have justified it, and confirmed this maxim to the powers of the world, that if Christianity prevailed, their authority must sink. Notice taken of St. Peter's doctrine on this subject. His Epistle is directed to the strangers scattered throughout divers countries : for in the ninth year of Claudius, the Jews, under which name the Christians also were plainly comprehended, (Acts xviii.) were banished Rome for tumults occasioned by their disputes. This banishment is mentioned by Suetonius, and St. Luke in the Acts. St. Peter therefore was necessarily to press obedience in his exhortation to his scattered flock, (ii. 11. 12.) : then follows the general precept: submit yourselves to every ordinance of man, for the Lord's sake, &c. Here St. Peter is supposed to teach us that kings are the ordinance of man: if so, he has contradicted St. Paul, who expressly tells us that the powers which be are ordained of God; which clear doctrine should make us cautious how we expound St. Peter to a different meaning. His original words are ndon ανθρωπίνη κτίσει. Now κτίσις signifies sometimes in Scripture a creature, and the adjective joined with it, human : thus the doctrine is plain ; submit yourselves to every human creature, or to every man, for the Lord's sake. How it signifies any thing made by man is unintelligible : årpwrivn copia is not wisdom made by man, but that wisdom which man has given to him by God; so, that krious åvOpwaivn is a human creature will appear

from the whole tenor of his discourse. It is usual with the best writers to set down the doctrine in general words, and then to deduce the particulars : this is St. Peter's method in the place before us. These particular cases detailed, which




are plainly included in the general rule, show the absurdity of our version of this phrase : nay, St. Peter goes lower, and commands us to love the brotherhood ; so that we may as well say we made our brother, because we must love him, as our king, because we must obey him. It was observed before, how St. Paul derived the duties of subjection so low as to the love of one another: St. Peter does the same. St. Paul's general rule is, render to all their dues : St. Peter's is, submit to every human creature. St. Paul concludes, owe no man any thing, but to love one another : St. Peter, yea, all of you be subject one to another. Thus both take all degrees of duty into the doctrine of submission ; so nearly do they agree: if St. Paul has said that the higher powers are ordained of God, St. Peter has said as much, by telling us that so is the will of God, that with well-doing we may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men. If St. Paul has said, we must obey for consicence sake, St. Peter has affirmed that obedience is the will of God. Concluding observations.



Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no

power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.

We have, in this and the following verses, the duty which subjects owe to their temporal governors, both taught and maintained by several reasons and arguments: the sense and propriety of which arguments clearly to understand, it will be necessary for us to consider the circumstances of the time, and place, and persons here concerned.

. There is no appearance in the gospel that our Saviour intended to make


alterations in the civil governments of the world. He came on another errand, of quite a different nature : he never purposely enters on the subject of government,

that being no necessary part of his doctrine; but treats of' it only as he was led by particular occasions.

In the twenty-second chapter of St. Matthew, we find a captious question put to him by the Pharisees, whether it were lawful to pay tribute to the Roman emperor or not? The question arose from hence: there was at that time a sect among the Jews, who held it to be unlawful to pay any tribute to the Roman emperor, or to yield any obedience to his laws. The author of this opinion was Judas of Galilee; who, when the Roman emperor ordered the nation to be taxed, raised on that account a great rebellion; persuaded the people to stand by their liberties, and not to submit to such a mark of slavery as paying of tribute. The fate of this man is related fully by Josephus ; and is mentioned likewise by Gamaliel, in Acts v. 37. . After this man rose up Judas of Galilee, in the days of the taxing, and drew away much people after him : he also perished,

and all, even as many as obeyed him, were dispersed.' But though they were for the present dispersed, yet by degrees they gathered strength, and were the authors of many troubles; and in the reign of Claudius were strong enough to ravage and destroy many places in Samaria. Their pretence for freedom was, as we learn from St. Chrysostom, that they were the servants of the Lord, and therefore owed no subjection to any human creature; that they were the freemen of God, and ought not therefore to be the slaves or the subjects of men. This sect went by the name of Galileans; the author of it being of that country, as likewise many of his followers.

Now it is well known that this was a name by which the Christians went in the first ages: they are mentioned under this name by several heathen writers; and that it was in use among all who spoke contemptuously of Christ and his religion, eren so late as in Julian's time, we learn from his writings still remaining, where he often speaks of the Christians under the name of Galileans. And hence it came to pass that the Christians going by the name of Galileans were generally thought by the heathens to entertain the same opinions with the sect of that name; that is, they were taken to be men of seditious principles, who refused obedience to earthly princes, and were for setting up an independent government of their own. Thus when Tertullus the orator accuses St. Paul, he charges him with being a pestilent fellow, a mover of sedition among all the Jews throughout the world, and a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarines :' Acts xxiv. 5. Of this calumny we find the unbelieving Jews also making their advantage against the Christians; for thus they accuse them to the magistrates of Thessalonica, · These who have turned the world upside down are come hither also :' Acts xvii. 6.

On this ground then it was that the Pharisees put that insi. dious question to our Saviour, ' Is it lawful to pay tribute to Cæsar ?' hoping, no doubt, to have found something whereof to have impeached him before the Roman governor. The collectors of tax seem likewise to have had the same jealousy concerning our Saviour, when, in the seventeenth of St. Matthew, they inquire of St. Peter whether his Master would pay tribute or no? for it is probable by their question that

« ZurückWeiter »