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actual properties which are upon the earth, seem to rest on the same foundation of divine wisdom-whether as put forth in the lessons of revelation, or as manifested in that constitution of humanity which God hath given to us.

And let it not be said, that by this doctrine of an entire unconditional passiveness, oppression and injustice must at length have unlimited sway upon the earth. God hath provided a security against this in the reactions of outraged nature.

the government to which that duty is that the embers of long past injustice owing, It does not say that we should should be extinguished, or the wrongs of be subject to the powers which were other centuries be forgotten-than that rightly originated or have been rightly they should so fester and be kept alive, constituted, but subject to the powers that as to perpetuate and accumulate the be. It is not the kind of character of heart-burnings of the world, or unsettle any government, but the existence of it the present order of society. It is thus which invests it with its claim on our that both our subjection to the actual obedience, or at least which determines powers, and our acquiescence in the for us the duty of yielding subjection thereunto. Its mandates should be submitted to, not because either law or justice or respect for the good of humanity presided over the formation of it, but simply because it exists. It is true that the apostle affirms of those powers to which he requires our subjection, that they are ordained of God; but this is merely because they are the powers that be, and in the sense that whatever is is ordained of God. It is He who overrules all history; and to His sovereign will do we refer the rise and continuance of all the actual dynasties in our world-although in their establishment, fraud and force and barbaric cruelty, and that wrath of man which He so often makes to praise Him, may have been the instruments of His pleasure. It is thus that the duty of our text is of universal application, whatever be the country, and amid all the political diversities which obtain on the face of our globe-insomuch that the Christian who lives in Turkey or China or under any of the iron despotisms of the East, is as much bound to obedience by this unexcepted law of the New Testament, as if his lot were cast in those more favoured regions of civilisation and equitable rule, where all the caprices and the cruelties of arbi trary power are unknown.

And to this order of actual power in the world, there seems a perfect analogy in the order of this world's property. No one thinks of remounting to a distant antiquity-so as to take a view of its origination, or to ascertain in how far justice presided over the first distribution of it, and conducted it onward through its successive descents and exchanges to the hands of its actual occupiers. What is true of the powers that be, holds also true of the properties that be. The same deference is rendered to both of them-and that too in the utter ignorance of every other claim than actual existence or actual possession. Such is the strength indeed of this felt possessory right, that both law and nature do like obeisance to it; and many thousands are the estates seized upon in days of marauding violence, the boundaries of which are as sacred from encroachment, as if they had been fixed in an assembly of righteous sages, or by the awards of a judgment-seat. It is better

But still it is nature which both prompts and executes the resistance; and not Christianity, the disciples of which in their simple, self-denying, and elevated walk of duty, but act in the spirit of their high calling, when they abandon this and many more such offices to others; or when, in the language of our Saviour's injunction, they leave the dead to bury their dead. And God will not leave them to suffer for their meekness and forbearance even in this world, but will gloriously accredit every promise and every declaration which He has made in their favour. It is a manifold experienee, we believe, in private life, that the humble and the patient and the long-suffering, as if shielded by an invisible defence against all violence from without, do walk more safely and more prosperously than others through the world; and on a large scale too will the same experience be verified— insomuch as to be found both morally and historically impossible, that a tyrant shall long bear the rule over a Christianised nation.

It is hoped that by these preparatory remarks we have anticipated the necessity of entering much into detail upon the verses of this passage.


Ver. 1. The powers that be are dained of God,' because not only with His permission, but by His providence in the sovereign disposal of all things, they have been established in the world.

Ver. 2. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.' The lesson of our last lecture graduates into the lesson of our present one by a nearer and more natural transition than a cursory reader may apprehend. You were then told to resist not persons, you are now told to resist not powers. The one non-resistance

was a duty, even when assailed by unlawful violence; and how much more then is the other non-resistance a duty, when the mandates of a rightful authority are brought to bear upon us-for in every country, the authority in force at the time being, or the authority of its actual recognised government, is the ordinance of God. The existing property and the existing power are both of them the ordinances of God, who, in the progress of events under His own absolute direction and control, hath determined for every man the bounds of his habitation. It were by the violation of one commandment, if we encroached on the property; and it were the violation of another to resist the power. There is a certain metaphysical urisprudence which hath mystified, and would attempt to subvert, both of these obligations. But Scripture is alike clear and alike imperative with each of them; and its dictates, we are persuaded, will be found best to accord with the real philosophy of human nature, as well as with the peace and good order of human society.

Ver. 3-5. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? Do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: for he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience' sake.' The apostle speaks not only of the proper design, but we are persuaded also of the general and actual effect of all government. We believe that in every land, the institution, even when administered by the most hateful of tyrants, is productive of good upon the whole. It is true, that in the career of savage and ambitious despots bent on personal aggrandisement; and in whose hands crime is the familiar instrument of conquest, whether over the thrones of other nations or the liberties of their own -it is most true, that in their career we read of little else than of those sufferings and sad disorders which history has so often recorded in characters of blood. Still in every such economy, we mean of laws with power for the enforcement of them, we hold that there is an immense preponderance of good to society-insomuch that the worst of governments will bear to be contrasted with a state of anarthy. Like every other property or power, whether of mental or material nature, it is in the hands of wicked men, occasionally, nay often perverted from its own proper and beneficent end-yet notwithstanding

this, and apart from this, it, in its own essential character is a pre-eminent blessing to the world. Amid all its conspicuous aberrations, we must not forget the many thousand benefits, which, beyond the reach of sight or of calculation, it works in each little vicinity and throughout the mass and interior of every nation, in the maintenance of peace and equity between man and man-a mighty interest this, which it is never the policy of any government to contravene; and seldom, if ever, the wish even of the most capri cious and blood-thirsty tyrant, whose ambition would in no considerable way be subserved by the dissolution of all the social ties in that community over which the providence of God has placed him Let but the controlling and regulating power wherewith he is invested cease from its operation; and the vast importance of such a power for the general wellbeing would soon be felt, after that society had fallen to pieces, and without a king or without a government, each man did that which was right in his own eyes. Verily law or goverment is the minister of God for good; and, in the great bulk and majority of their doings the administrators thereof are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. If then we have just been taught in the former passage to resist not evil, when assailed by the unbridled violence of evil men, how much more should we abstain from the resistance of that which is good, even of that government under which we live, and which is God's own ordinance-and whose function it is to protect us from evil. For, generally speaking, rulers are not as individuals often are-who, at the instigation of envy or avarice or hatred, may at times do grossest injury to the righteous. The loyal and peaceable have nothing to fear from laws which they do not offend ; but if ever brought before the judgmentseat, to be taken cognisance of by these, will obtain sentence of acquittal or justification at their hands. They are the evil, the criminal, who need to be afraid-for the very design of a civil government in society, which is at once the effect and evidence of God's moral government in the world,* is to repress and punish all such. His institution will not be frustrated, or fail of that express purpose for which it has been set up among men, which is not only to protect the innocent, but to execute vengeance on the evil-doer

being armed with the power of the sword to fulfil the resentment which it feels against the disobedient. Did our attention stop short at the secondary ordinance, did we look no higher than to the

* See Butler's Analogy.

judge or the magistrate-even then, to shun their wrath, we should yield subjection to government and law; but when we rise upward from the earthly to the heavenly Sovereign, and with the apostle view the authority that is beneath as an emanation or deviation from the authority of Him who ruleth over all-then will our subjection be rendered, not alone from fear towards man, but also from conscience towards God.

Ver. 6, 7. For, for this cause pay ye tribute also for they are God's ministers, attending continually upon this very thing. Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.' The apostle now passes from the institution of law in the general, to the institution of tribute, and which he here singles out as part and parcel of the same, and as therefore too coming directly from God-the payment of which, therefore, we should not only render as a thing of force that we must do, but as a thing of conscience that we ought to do. It is a lesson greatly needed in this our day-that the payment of our taxes should be held as much a matter of principle and punctuality as the payment of our debts. Indeed it is regarded by the apostle as quite on the footing of a debt, being included by him in the general precept of Render unto all their dues. It is a lesson altogether worthy of strenuous and repeated enforcement from the pulpit-from which there ought to be exposed and denounced with all fidelity, the shameful laxity which obtains in this department of moral obligation. It is a most befitting topic for the ministrations of a clergyman; and it were well could he lay open with a vigorous and faithful hand, the frauds, the concealments, the dexterous and unprincipled evasions which are often practised to the injury of the public revenue-and by men too who acquit themselves honourably and with perfect fairness of all their private engagements. There is a hebetude of conscience on this subject which needs the quickening of an earnest and solemn and scriptural representation. This were not to secularise religion; but, what is mainly wanted, it were to sanctify the business of human life. Whatever can be fixed upon as a test of religious sincerity, must be deemed peculiarly valuable, both by the minister who feels it his business to hold up, and that in all its features and details, a true picture of Christianity to his hearers; and also by all honest disciples, who, intent on their own personal sanctification, press onward to the high object of standing perfect and complete in the whole will of God. That is a fatal

error which would dissever the social from the sacred; or which looks in the great amount of them on the moralities of human conduct, though specified and prescribed in the Bible, merely in the light of so many week-day proprieties. It is now high time that Christianity should stand forth in another aspect, and that another exhibition of it should be given to the world-not as a system of cabalistic dogmata, but as a pervading and living principle, which takes ascendancy over the whole man, and graves upon the tablet of his character all that is lovely and honourable and virtuous and of good report. This is the way to adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all thingsnot to dissociate religion from morality, but to impregnate morality with religion, and make it out and out the guide and the We are sovereign of all our actions. aware that a certain feeling of the strange and even of the ludicrous is often awakened, when such topics are handled graphically and experimentally in the pulpit, as purloining, and eye-service, and fairdealing, and the full and regular payment of taxes-or when men of various conditions are plainly spoken to on the duties of their respective callings, as household servants or field-labourers or artizans or men in the walks of business, when severally addressed on the virtues of the shop and the market and the exchange and the counting-house. Now all this proceeds on an utter misconception as to what sort of thing Christianity is; and because of which we forget that godliness has to do with all things-insomuch that ere a disciple can be perfected into a complete man of God, he must be thoroughly furnished unto all good works. He must be a good family man, and a good neighbour, and a good member of society; and finally, to return on the observations which the apostle here lays upon his converts, he must be a good subject, in which capacity he will pay custom or tribute with cheerfulness, and reverence his superiors, and award his comely and complaisant homage to station and rank in societyand, giving fear to whom fear is due, will first and foremost, in the words of another apostle, "fear God ;" and honour to whom honour, he will follow out the injunction of the same apostle, to "honour the king;' and will obey magistrates; and live a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. This is the way of making his light shine before men-so that seeing his good works, they may glorify his Father who is in heaven.

A government in the discharge of its ordinary functions is a great blessing to society; and it is upon this consideration that the duties of the passage now under

review are grounded and enforced by the apostle. But a government may depart from its proper and ordinary character; and, instead of a protector, may become a tyrant and a persecutor. It may abuse its powers. The sword of justice in its hands, it may wield as an instrument of iniquitous violence-turning it from its own righteous purpose, as an instrument of vengeance on rebels and murderers. Instead of this, it may become a murderer itself, and bathe its feet in the blood of the innocent. And the question is, What is duty towards a government in this new attitude and style of acting; and when, no longer a minister to them for good, it becomes an executioner of wrath on the peaceable and the praise-worthy-the terror and scourge of the righteous?

discipline of God, should this be again brought to bear upon us, as at once the test and the exercise of our Christianityafter such an example, and still more with such a lesson as the apostle has recorded for our guidance in the foregoing passage, we should know how to acquit ourselves. We should, for conscience toward God, endure the grief and suffer wrongfully. We should take it patiently. We should commit ourselves to Him that judgeth righteously. We should leave to Him the cause of our redress, and that work which is exclusively His own, the work of vengeance. If we want to obtain a like conquest with our predecessors in the church, then not overcome of evil ourselves, we should overcome the evil with good.

Still in the very passage from which This question has already been an- we have borrowed some of these expresswered in the chapter immediately before sions, there is a limitation imposed on our our present one-where we are told to duty of living peaceably with all men.' bless them which persecute, to give place This is only if it be possible and as much Now we have already unto wrath, to avenge not ourselves. as lieth in us. And it has not only been answered didac- stated in what circumstances it might not tically in the Bible, but has been answered be possible to yield a pacific acquiescence historically and by example during three in the will of a private individual-so that long centuries of persecution-beginning if he is resolutely bent on our compliance with the Author of our faith, and continued onward to the reign of Constantine. If when the hand of a private individual inflicted outrage and injustice upon them, they were commanded to forbear all retaliation-this forbearance was still more imperative when it was an injustice which came from the hands of the magistrate. And accordingly, in those ages of martyrdom we have a bright verification of the meek and passive moralities-of the virues which belong to a state of sufferance --so strenuously recommended by the apostle. And it was not only in the feebleness of their infancy, when the Christians formed but a very little flock, amid the overwhelming majorities that abode in the ancient faith, whether of Jews or Gentiles-it was not only then, that they gave themselves quietly up to torture and death, as if in imitation of their great Master, who was led like a lamb unto the slaughter-But even in the strength and maturity of their manhood, when they far outnumbered their adversaries and could have taken the power of government into their own hands-even then do we read of their weathering in meek endurance the last and bloodiest of those great persecutions which they had to undergo. They might have risen against their enemies, and achieved over them the victory of force-but, still more glorious, their's was altogether the victory of principle; and it serves for our admonition, on whom the latter ends of the world have come. Should the fires of persecution be again lighted up in our land—in the holy

with it, a rupture between us is wholly
unavoidable. We could not, for example,
give up our conscience into his hands, or
renounce a profession or a principle which
we conceive to have been laid upon us by
the authority of God. And thus it was
that the apostles' converts could not have
given up their Christianity at the bidding
of friends or relatives-a fertile cause of
dissension in these days; and so as to
verify the forewarning of our Saviour,
"Think not that I am come to send peace
on earth: I came not to send peace but a
sword. For I am come to set a man at vari-
ance against his father, and the daughter
against her mother, and the daughter-in-
law against her mother-in-law. And a
man's foes shall be they of his own
household." And if they would not sub-
mit in this matter to a relative or neighbour,
they could as little submit in it to a ma-
gistrate. They could not belie their own
faith, or say of what they did believe, that
they did not believe it. There is the same
impossibility here which is even affirmed
of the Godhead, when it is said of Him
that He cannot lie, and that it is impossible
for God to lie. If the faith of the gospel
was indeed in them, then it lay not in them,
nor was it possible for them to abjure
that faith. Nay, as if to aggravate the
moral impossibility, they could not, at the
bidding of the highest power on earth,
make the denial of Christ, but in opposi-
tion to an express bidding from the high-
est power in heaven, by which they were
required to confess him before men—even
when delivered up to councils and brought

this, and this alone, they strove; and as to their lordly persecutors, instead of striving against them, they placidly and submissively gave themselves up unto their hands.

before governors and kings for a testimony. | renouncing their profession, and thus deny. And what had thus been laid upon them ing the Lord who bought them. This at by precept, they exemplified in practice- all hazards they behoved to resist. Against as when called before the rulers of Israel, and straitly threatened and commanded not to teach or preach in the name of Jesus, they replied, “Whether it be right in the sight of God, to hearken unto you And thus too at this moment, the Church more than unto God, judge ye. For we of Scotland-submitting to the civil power cannot," and here is their express allega- in all that is civil; and only refusing her tion of its not being possible for them to obedience, when that power assumes an live peaceably with all men, "we cannot authority over things sacred. Many are but speak the things which we have seen not able, perhaps not willing, to discrimiand heard." And so with boldness they nate in this matter; and so, at their hand, continued to speak, "not as pleasing she suffers the obloquy of being a rebel men but God"-and this under the neces- against the laws-and this because one of sity which was laid upon them, for woe the subordinate courts in our realm, has was upon them if they preached not the transgressed her own limits, even as the gospel.* To the superficial it might ap-sanhedrim or supreme court of Judea pear an anomaly, nay a contradiction, did theirs, when they forbade the apostles that the same Christians who were to preach any more in the name of Jesus. charged with the duty of resisting not evil, It is a great and a vital cause; and has should nevertheless have resisted so stur-led to a contest which is not yet terminadily upon this occasion; and it seems to ted, and perhaps only begun. Heaven deepen still more the inconsistency, that grant an apostolic wisdom, as well as an it was a resistance to the mandates of apostolic boldness, on the part of her those rulers, who, as the powers that be, ministers-that they may acquit them. were ordained of God-so that whosoever selves rightly of all which they owe both resisteth them resisteth the ordinance of to God and to Cesar; and so that, while God-and shall receive to himself damna- faithful to their Master in heaven, their tion. But theirs was not a withholding loyalty to the powers which be on earth of fear where fear was due. It was but may, in all that is possible, and as far as the subordination of a lower to a higher lieth in them, become patent and palpafear the fear of him who was able to ble to all men. Meanwhile, in the eyes kill the body, to the fear of Him who is of some she may wear the aspect of a reable to destroy both soul and body in fractory member in the body politic hell. They did not resist the inflictions more especially in an age when the prin of the earthly power on their persons and ciples are forgotten on which our Nonproperties, and all on earth which belonged erastian Church is based-principles to them. These they submitted to the ab- which at one time the sustained and at solute disposal of the rulers of this world; length triumphant controversy of several and it may serve perhaps the object of a generations, had made as familiar as right discrimination in this matter of re- household words, even to the peasantry sistance-if in the following verse where of our land. O Lord, may Thy grace and the term is introduced, it be considered Thy guidance be with the present majorwhat precisely that was which Christians ity of our Church-so that whether they are there spoken of as resisting. The shall achieve a victory or sustain a deapostle in the Hebrews tells his disciples feat, Wisdom may yet be justified of all that they had not yet" resisted unto blood, her children. If theirs be the victory, let striving against sin." This was wholly it become manifest, O God, that a rightly different from the resistance of war, when administered, and withal an established the soldier strives against those who are church, in the full possession of her seeking after his blood; and, for the de- spiritual independence, is the great palliverance of his own life would embrue ladium, not of freedom alone, but of stahis hand in the blood of an enemy. This bility and good order in the commonis one way of resisting unto blood; but it wealth. But if it seem good unto Thee is altogether distinct from, nay opposite that it shall be otherwise, and that defeat to, the resistance unto blood which Chris- and disappointment shall be theirs-we tians were often called to in these days.will not let go our confidence in the final The object of their resistance was not to save their own blood by shedding the blood of their enemies. It was not against this that they strove, or against their enemies that they strove. The precise object of their striving was against sin—the sin of Corinthians, ix, 16.

and everlasting establishment of Thine own divine supremacy over the nations→ when, after it may be the fearful period of a wasteful and wide-spread anarchy, the kingdoms of this world shall have become the kingdoms of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ

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