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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
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 he 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 où oai éžovoiai, 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 trests 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
immediately following those last treated of may either be taken as the first of the second argument, or as a farther conclusion drawn from the first : ' And they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.' If they who resist the power do resist the ordinance of God, it may certainly be affirmed by evident consequence, that they who resist shall receive to themselves damnation : so evident a consequence, that it can lose nothing of its force, though these words should not be understood to oontain it, but should be taken as introducing a new argument, as on the whole I incline to think they ought to be taken. For the words immediately following contain a reason of something going before ; · For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil;' but this will not prove that all who resist shall be damned; for rulers are not the judges in the case of damnation : but if we understand the Apostle in these words, 'All who resist shall receive to themselves damnation,' as entering on a new topic, and setting forth the certain evil consequences which even in this life should attend the seditious, who would render themselves justly obnoxious to the powers of the world, and be liable to their censure, it then very properly follows, • For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil.'
To show that the language in the original admits of this sense, or that the present division of verses is no authority on one side or the other, is a labor I may well save myself in this audience. Let us go on then to consider the argument: it is drawn from the common topic of hope and fear, and represents to us the danger of disobeying our governors, by setting before us not only their power, but their right and their duty to punish, when we refuse to acknowlege their authority: and by showing the prince's duty to punish such offenders, in consequence of the commission given him by God, it tacitly warns us to expect no protection from God against the just anger and indignation of our princes; since in punishing the stubborn offenders they do' but execute the will and command of God: in which case it is absurd to depend on any assistance or protection from him, in opposition to his own authority delegated to earthly powers.
The gospel does, in every page, encourage its disciples to bear up against the afflictions of the world, to rejoice when they
are persecuted and evil intreated, and to be exceeding glad, because their reward shall be great in heaven: but lest those who suffered as seditious subjects should entertain themselves with these hopes, the Apostle takes care to represent the prince as acting by the will and power of God, in punishing such offenders. What fruit then could those sufferings yield, which were not only the effect of man's wrath, but also of the justice of God ? St. Peter, on the same subject, has evidently the same view before him : If ye be reproached,' says he, for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth on you : but let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or an evil doer :' for, as he had before observed,
What glory is it if, when ye shall be buffeted for your faults, ye take it patiently?
St. Paul's second argument therefore is not a mere prudential motive to obedience, showing us what may probably be expected from an angry governor ; but goes farther, and teaches that we shall not only suffer, but also deserve to suffer : which every Christian ought rather to fear than the evil itself. The particular steps of the argument are as follow : They that resist shall receive to themselves damnation, that is, punishment, or judgment. The reason follows: · For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil.' It is plain here, from the force of the inference, that by 'good works,' obedience is especially meant; and by evil works,' resistance ; for otherwise the Apostle's reason will not contain the proof of his doctrine : for it is not certain that those who resist shall be punished, because rulers are a terror to evil works, unless resistance be meant or included in evil works: and yet the Apostle is now disputing with those who thought the gospel justified them in not submitting to their governors, and who could not therefore think the resistance here spoken of an evil work. Does he then beg this point, of all others in this controversy the most material ? No: but he builds on the strength of his first argument, where he had shown that whoever resists the power resisteth the ordinance of God; which is enough to prove resistance an evil work : which being proved, he goes on to show the prince's power over such workers of iniquity : • Wilt thou then,' says he, 'not be afraid of the power ? Do