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tempt ye Me, ye hypocrites. He showed them that He was aware of their object, and saw through their hollow pretences; and therefore, as St. John states on another occasion, Jesus did not commit Himself unto them, because He knew all men, and needed not that any should testify of man ; for He knew what was in man.80 He said to them, Show Me the tribute' money ; the money with which the taxes were paid. And they brought unto Him a penny; a small piece of silver money, in value nearly eight pence of our currency.
And He saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription ? They say unto Him, Cesar's. Their money bore His image and name upon it; which was sufficient evidence that they acknowledged the right of the Emperor Cesar to demand tribute from them. Then saith He unto them, Render therefore unto Cesar the things which are Cesar's, the money which has his name and effigy upon it, and unto God the things that are God's, the soul and body, and all their powers, which He created in His own image for His own glory and praise. These two things may be done quite consistently with each other.
This answer, by which every objection that His enemies hoped to make against Him was completely silenced, excited their astonishment,
80 Jolin ii. 24, 25.
as well it might; so that, when they had heard these words, they marvelled, and left Him, and went their way; for they could not take hold of His words before the people.81 The subject before us divides itself into two parts,
First, The duty of Christians toward the Civil Government of the country in which they live; and
Secondly, Their duty towards God.
Our duty as subjects towards the Government of our country is intimated in the direction, Render unto Cesar the things which are Cesar's. This is a command to pay the lawful taxes imposed by the Government, honestly and cheerfully. Our blessed Saviour exemplified His precept in His own person. The Evangelist informs us that when Jesus and His disciples were come to Capernaum, they that received tribute money came to Peter, and said, Doth not your Master pay tribute?. He saith, Yes.ee Peter had no idea of offering any resistance or evasion to the payment of the taxes. Although he was a poor fisherman, and the Lord Jesus also was so poor that He said respecting Himself, The fores have holes, and the birds of the air have nests ; but the Son of man hath not where to lay His head ,83 yet no attempt was made to evade the payment of what was lawfully demanded; notwithstanding
81 Luke xx. 26.
82 Matthew xvii. 24.
83 Matthew viii. 20.
also it was to be given to a foreign power that had obtained its authority by conquest, and maintained it by force.
And when Peter was come into the house Jesus prevented him from mentioning the subject, by saying to him, Lest we should offend them, go thou to the sea, and cast a hook, and take up the fish that first cometh up; and when thou hast opened its mouth, thou shalt find a piece of money : that take and give unto them for Me and thee.84 Thus He wrought a miracle in order that He might pay the tribute which was demanded of Him. What a spectacle was this ! To see the King of kings and Lord of lords owning His subjection to the Government of the country in which He lived by paying tribute to it. How different was His conduct from that of the Popes of Rome, who, under the pretence of being the successors of Jesus Christ, have always endeavoured to set up themselves above all Civil Authority; and, when they had the opportunity, attempted to make the clergy likewise independent of the temporal power in the kingdoms which professed the religion falsely imposed upon them under the name of Christianity.
The Apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ bore the same testimony as their Lord and Master had done to the duty of submitting to Civil Government and paying the taxes which it imposed. The first seven verses of the thirteenth chapter of the Epistle to the Romans are decisive in this
84 Matthew xvii. 25, 27.
The Apostle Paul uses words similar to those of our Lord Jesus Christ: Render therefore to all their dues : tribute to whom tribute is due ; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour. And he exhorts Christians to pray for kings, and for all that are in authority ,85 to be subject to principalities and powers, and to obey magistrates.86 The Apostle Peter is no less urgent in enforcing the same point. He
He says, Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake ; whether it be to the King, as supreme ; or unto Governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evil doers, and for the praise of them that do well.87 He speaks moreover of those who despise government as being presumptuous and self-willed persons, and as those who shall utterly perish. St. Jude uses language of the same description. These are murmurers, complainers, walking after their own lusts, who despise dominion, and speak evil of dignities; to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever. 88
As the good order of society requires that there should be a Government, those who are protected by it ought cheerfully to pay for its
85 1 Tim. ii. 2. 86 Titus iii. 1. 87 1 Peter ii, 13, 14. 88 Jude 16,8, 13.
support. This is a duty which a true Christian will always conscientiously regard. The protection of persons and property, which a regular Government affords, is well worth the demands which may be made upon the people for its maintenance. And it will be generally found that the character of those, who are most clamorous against their superiors, is such, that it is very needful that a reform should take place in themselves. They are usually persons who are licentious in their own practice, and cannot bear wholesome restraint, and who are tyrannical over their own dependants, if they have any. With regard to such persons the Christian may well adopt the words of the Patriarch, O my soul, come not thou into their secret, unto their assembly, mine honour, be not thou united.89 While our blessed Saviour inculcated subjection to the powers that be, which are ordained by God 190 He exhorted
Secondly, Render unto God the things that are God's. By adding this exhortation to the former, He as completely stopped the mouths of the Pharisees, as He at first silenced the Herodians. If the things that are due to God be rendered to Him, His law cannot be set aside or disregarded. But what are the things that are God's, which we are to render to Him?
89 Genesis xlix, 6.
90 Romans xüi. 1.