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they took our Lord for one of the new teachers, who set up in defiance of the Roman emperor: to which St. Peter answers, Yes. And our Saviour, though he intimates that he ought to have been exempted from paying tribute, yet, knowing what suspicions there were concerning him, and what use would have been made of his refusal, orders St. Peter to go to the sea, and cast a hook, and take the fish that should come up, and open his mouth, where he should find a piece of money: That take, says he, and give them as tribute for me and yourself, ' lest we should offend them.'
Now, though our Saviour's business was not either to limit or to enlarge the civil governments of the world, yet this scandal which he and his disciples lay under, urged both him and them to vindicate themselves, and to teach their followers such obedience and submission to the higher powers, as might leave no pretence for such an accusation accordingly our Saviour having drawn a confession from the Pharisees that the tributemoney belonged to Cæsar, answers, that they should render to Cæsar the things which were Cæsar's.'
That the Apostles likewise had reference to the same scandal in pressing obedience of all kinds on their disciples, whether considered as subjects, or servants, or wives, or children, is evident from hence, that they almost always close their instructions of this sort with this argument, That the word of God be not blasphemed' or 'evil spoken of:' an argument which in its own nature has no nearer relation to civil obedience than to any other good work; and it is as proper to exhort men to temperance and sobriety, to charity, and other the like virtues, that no scandal may be brought on the gospel, as it is to exhort them to obedience to their superiors. This motive therefore being almost ever urged in the case of obedience, shows plainly that the Christians were liable to reproach in this case more than any other. Our Lord bids St. Peter pay the tribute, 'lest,' says he, we should offend them;' and thus St. Paul, in his Epistle to Titus, ch. ii. ver. 5. orders Titus to admonish' wives to be obedient to their own husbands, that that the word of God be not blasphemed;' and, ver. 10. to exhórt servants to be obedient to their own masters, and to please them well in all things, that they may adorn the doc
trine of God our Saviour in all things:' so likewise in the first Epistle to Timothy, ch. vi. ver. 1. the Apostle gives this exhortation, Let as many servants as are under the yoke count their own masters worthy of all honor;' and then he repeats the forementioned reason, that the name of God and his doctrine be not blasphemed :' thus likewise St. Peter, pressing obedience to governors, gives this reason for it, 'For so is the will of God, that with well-doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men :' 1 Peter ii. 15. that is, of such men as scandalise the doctrine of the gospel, as if it taught us to claim a freedom inconsistent with the obedience that subjects, and servants, and children, owed to their respective superiors: and with regard to this abused notion of Christian freedom, the Apostle adds, in the very next verse, As free, and not using your liberty for a cloak of maliciousness, but as the servants of God.' Besides these reasons, drawn from the Apostle's own writings, to show with what view they so frequently insisted on and inculcated obedience of all kinds, we have to the same purpose the express authority of St. Jerome and St. Chrysostom. St. Jerome, in his comment on the Epistle to Titus, at these words, 'put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers,' gives this reason why the Apostle there, and elsewhere, insists on the obligations which Christians were under to obey their rulers: quia Judæ Galilæi per illud tempus dogma adhuc vigebat, et habebat plurimos sectatores- Because the doctrine of Judas of Galilee yet prevailed at that time, and had many followers.' St. Chrysostom, in his comment on the thirteenth of the Romans, teaches us the same thing: Καὶ γὰρ πολὺς περιεφέρετο λόγος τότε, ἐπὶ στάσει καὶ καινοτομίᾳ διαβάλλων τοὺς ἀποστόλους, καὶ ὡς ἐπ ̓ ἀνατροπῇ τῶν κοινῶν νόμων, ἅπαντα καὶ ποιοῦνται καὶ λέγονται.
For there was at that time a strong report that the Apostles were seditious and innovators, and that their principles and practices tended to the subversion of the common laws.'
From this account it is easy to see what made the Apostles so frequently, so earnestly press their new converts to show a more than ordinary obedience to their masters and governors: the honor of Christ and the gospel was nearly concerned in their behavior, which ought to be dearer to them than their
lives, and to outweigh all other considerations whatever; and therefore they ought to bear every thing rather than give any umbrage to the enemies of the gospel, by pretending on any account, how plausible soever, to withstand the commands of their lawful governors. And for this reason St. Paul more especially labors the point, when he writes to the Christians at Rome, which was the ordinary residence of the emperor, and where any the least disorder would be the soonest taken notice. of, and most improved to the prejudice of the gospel. And if you examine what St. Paul has taught concerning obedience and subjection to the higher powers, you will find it answer exactly to these circumstances now set before you, and to be built on reasons purposely adapted to confute the error of the Galileans and some Judaizing Christians, and to require such an exact and scrupulous obedience, as might clear the gospel and its professors from the scandal thrown on them by the heathen world.
'Let every soul,' says he, be subject unto the higher powers.' This is the doctrine laid down in opposition to such as taught that there were no higher powers who had any claim to their obedience, but that they were under the immediate government of God, and therefore owed no subjection to man. The Apostle supports his doctrine with arguments peculiarly adapted to combat the error he opposes, as you will perceive in the following words: For there is no power,' says he, but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.' As if he had said, You argue that you ought to be subject to God only, and to acknowlege no other power or authority but his. What you say is true but so far is this reason from exempting you from the subjection to temporal power, that, well considered, it will prove just the contrary: for the power of the magistrate is a power delegated from God, and therefore more especially to be regarded by those who pretend in a peculiar manner to be the servants of God. It was obvious, to object against this reasoning, that the powers then in being could not be the powers ordained by God, because they so evidently thwarted all his purposes: they had put to death the Lord of life; they persecuted his followers; they were the supporters of superstition and idolatry, and the main obstacle in the way of the gospel:
to prevent which surmises the Apostle purposely adds, The powers which be,' ai dè ovoaɩ éžovoia, the powers which now be,' are ordained of God. From these positions he draws the consequence in direct opposition to the principles and practices of those who were despisers of government: Whosoever therefore resisteth the power resisteth the ordinance of God.' To resist the ordinance of God was certainly inconsistent with their profession who pretended to dedicate themselves to the obedience of God; and so intirely, that for that reason they would own no obedience to any one else, lest they should seem to set up another to share with God in his right to their service. The Apostle so far allows their principle as to argue from it, and shows them that they cannot resist the civil power consistently with their resolutions of obeying God; because submitting to our earthly princes is part of the obedience which God requires from us. If we inquire in what particular sense the rulers of the world may be said to be the ordinance of God, and to derive their power and authority from him; we shall find that the state of the world requires that there should be some to rule, invested with power to protect the innocent, and to defend the weak from the violence of the oppressor : and therefore government is agreeable to the will of God; and to pretend an exemption from it would be acting in opposition to his will, and the order of his establishment.
As some pretended to withdraw their obedience from the prince, because they had been made partakers of the freedom of the gospel; so others, who were in a state of servitude, thought they had a right to throw off their bondage, supposing a state of slavery to be inconsistent with the liberty of the gospel of Christ they went on the same reason which the others did, and pleaded their relation to God and Christ as a full release from the condition of slaves. The Apostle therefore uses the same way of arguing to them, and exhorts them to yield obedience to their masters as unto the Lord, as unto God; showing them that their masters, with respect to temporal affairs, stood in the place of God; and they were therefore to submit unto them as unto God. Thus in the seventh chapter of the first Epistle to the Corinthians, the Apostle lays down this general rule, Let every man abide in the same calling
wherein he is called; that is, as he explains himself, whether he be servant, or whether he be free, let him not think that his condition is repugnant to his religion: if he be servant, let him so continue. Servants,' says he, in the sixth of the Ephesians, be obedient unto them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ; not with eye-service, as men-pleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart; with good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men.' The same is repeated, with some small variety of expression, in the third of the Colossians: and in 1 Tim. vi. he treats of this matter with some warmth, and affirms that this doctrine of obedience is the law of God, and that whoever denies it consents not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; but is proud, knowing nothing, doting about questions and strife of words-supposing gain to be godliness.' In all which it is plain he refers to the opinion of such as taught that the gospel had introduced a perfect state of freedom, dissolving all the ancient ties between masters and servants: in opposition to which he teaches them that their being Christians should make them better, not worse servants; for that they ought to obey from the heart, as serving God, and not men. St. Peter likewise uses the same argument with the same view: Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake.' Hence then it is plain that the Apostle's argument is directed against those principally who were for dissolving all the obligations between the prince and the subject; who were for making religion the cloak of disloyalty, and for throwing down all power and authority of earthly princes, on the specious pretence of setting up the Lord Jesus. And therefore, as to the original of the prince's power, we may, on the Apostle's word, assert it to be divine, as being derived immediately from God, and used and exercised in his name, and by his authority.
To proceed: the Apostle uses a second argument to inforce his doctrine laid down at first in the words of the text, 'Let every soul be subject to the higher powers.' And here the first doubt is, where the argument begins; for the words