« הקודםהמשך »
that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same.' This was a strange assertion, if understood of good works in general: St. Paul knew surely that to obey the gospel, to reject idolatry, to renounce the polluted feasts of the Gentiles, was to do good : yet he knew that those who did so, far from having the praise of the rulers, were daily punished and tormented by them: he knew that to preach the gospel was a good work; and yet he knew that he for so doing had been in perils often, in bonds and imprisonments, and in danger of his life. How then could he assure his converts that if they did that which was good they should have praise of their rulers, when they felt the contrary every day? But this difficulty vanishes, if we take 'good' in that limited sense in which the Apostles use it: · Rulers,' says he, are not a terror to good works, but to the evil.' It naturally follows, 'Do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same.' It is evident, by the course of reasoning, that the 'good' in the latter part of the verse must mean the same thing with good works' in the first part : and I observed before that the Apostle's argument necessarily required that, by good works,' we should especially understand the work of obedience :' consequently, when the Apostle says, “Do that which is good,' his meaning is, o Pay due obedience.' And then his proposition is universally true; for obedience is a good work; and let princes be what they will, they will always praise and encourage obedience : which is one good reason for obeying, in all cases, as far as we can ; for we are sure to get this by it, a quiet life at least.
Besides, this exposition suits with St. Paul's main design; which was to inculcate obedience to the higher power. What other good then could he properly recommend on this subject? Temperance, chastity, charity, and all other virtues, were out of this question : obedience was the thing doubted of. If the Apostle then keeps to his point, the good thing he recommends must needs be the good of obedience; and the word in the ori. ginal, which is rendered by the word 'good' in our translation, is appropriated both by St. Paul and St. Peter to denote the good of obedience, in opposition to the evil spirit which set a government at nought. The promise made to obedience is in these words, • Thou shalt have praise of the same.' What is meant by ' praise,' may be understood by the parallel place in St. Peter, who speaks of governors sent ‘for the punishment of evil-doers, and for the praise of them that do well :' where praise being opposed to punishment, must denote protection and encouragement; which are the only proper rewards which good subjects can expect from their governors : and so it signifies in the place before us. And this will help us to understand the following words : · For he is the minister of God to thee for good.' The Apostle had promised reward' to the obedient: he supports it by this reason; for he, the ruler, is * the minister of God to thee for good.' To be a minister for good then, must denote his being appointed by God as a dispenser of rewards; or else the argument is lame: for, if any other good be meant, the consequence is false ; for it does not follow that the obedient shall be rewarded, because the prince is a minister of some other good : which is no way related to rewarding the good : but if he be appointed by God to dispense rewards to those who do well, and if obedience be the good work, I have then good reason to expect reward for my obedience.
And this sense will appear undeniably to be the true one, by comparing the former and latter part of the verse together : for the Apostle goes on, ‘ But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain.' Then he adds the very same argument which he had used before: “for he is the minister of God:' a minister for what? He had before, where he treated of him as a dispenser of rewards, called him a minister of God for good : here he speaks of him as a dispenser of punishment; he should therefore have called him a minister of God · for evil :' but that was too harsh an expression; and therefore he uses a periphrasis instead of it: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath on him that doth evil.' This shows us how to expound his being a minister for good, that is, a protector and encourager to bim that doth well. Compare all the parts, and I think there can be no, doubt. The evil are threatened ; why? Because the ruler is the minister of God : the minister, to what purpose ? He tells you: a revenger to execute wrath on him that doth evil. On the other side, the obedient are encouraged to expect reward : why ? For the same reason ; because the ruler is a minister of God for this purpose also: and, consequently, a minister for good must denote a dispenser of good to him that doth good.
What good we are to expect from kings and governors St. Paul has told us ; requiring that we should pray for kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty: 1 Tim. ii. 2. The peace and quiet of society is the very end of temporal government; and when it is duly promoted by those in authority, then have they a just claim to be esteemed as ministers of God for good to the people; who, in return for this good received of the prince, are bound on their part to yield obedience and submission; which is the thing will intitle them to the praise and protection of those in authority over them.
These are the two arguments by which St. Paul supports his doctrine of obedience : that I have rightly divided them he himself shall bear witness, who in the next verse sums up his reasoning in these words; Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience' sake.' You see he refers to two arguments, and two only: one drawn from wrath, one from conscience. The argument from wrath respects the present life and the magistrate's power : for the wrath of God is included in the argument from conscience, which indeed 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 doth evil : you must submit for conscience ; for he that resisteth the power resisteth the ordinance of God. The sixth verse contains no new argument; but mentions a particular instance of obedience, the paying tribute; which is therefore particularly mentioned, because, as I before observed, it was the very ground of this dispute.
I have but one thing more to observe on St. Paul, which is, that under the duties of subjection he comprehends not only those owing to kings and princes, but those owing to every superior, nay, those owing even to our equals : "Render,' says he, 'to all their dues : tribute to whom tribute is due ; custom to whom custom ; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor;'
and concludes with this general exhortation, Owe no man any thing, but to love one another ;' referring even the duties of love to this head of subjection. I mention this now for the use I shall make of it hereafter.
It is plain that the Apostle's concern was with such as denied even the right of government, and were for being every man his own king: it was not therefore before him to consider distinctly the measures and limits of the power of earthly princes; nor can the argument be extended to reach this point, He asserts the magistrate to be ordained of God, and the ruler's power to be the ordinance of God: but it will not from hence appear what are the limits of this
power; for all
power ordained by God is not infinite, nor of the same extent. All our natural powers are ordained by God, and he has divided to every man as seemeth best to him. The least power is his ordinance, as well as the greatest: and therefore the extent of power cannot appear from this, that it is the ordinance of God; since all power, whether great or little, is ordained by him. Nor has the Scripture, that I know of, ever meddled with this point: 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 of Christ might not be blasphemed. Had St. Paul taught the Christians at Rome that the emperor was ordained by God for their good, and that they were bound to obey him as long as he was good to them and no longer; would this, do you think, have cleared them of the scandal they lay under of being enemies to government ? Would they have had
praise of the power for this doctrine ? No: it would rather have justified all the reproaches cast on them, and confirmed the powers of the world in the opinion that, if ever Christianity prevailed, their authority must sink,
I cannot conclude my discourse without taking notice 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 the emperor Claudius, the Jews, under which name the Christians were comprehended, as is plain from the eighteenth
of the Acts, were banished Rome for tumults and seditions occasioned by their disputes. This banishment is mentioned by Suetonius, and the writer of the Acts in the place last quoted. St. Peter therefore, in his Epistle, was necessarily to mention and press obedience, the want of which had occasioned their present distress. Thus then he exhorts his scattered flock : * Dearly beloved, I beseech you, as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul; having your conversation honest among the Gentiles : that whereas they speak against you as evil-doers;' that is, as disobedient subjects, which is also, as I showed, St. Paul's notion of evildoers; they may by your good works which they behold, glorify God in the day of visitation.' Then follows the general precept : • Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake;' whether it be to the king or to governors ; and the like.*
Here then St. Peter is supposed to have determined the great point, and taught us that kings are the ordinance of man, made by the people : if he has, I am sure he has contradicted St. Paul, who has expressly told us that the powers which be are ordained of God:' which clear doctrine of St. Paul should, I think, make us cautious how we expound St. Peter
* If we compare St. Peter and St. Paul together, and consider the subject they were on, we shall find it necessary to take the id åyaddy in the restrained sense here mentioned : for what other good could they mean, consistently with their argument and their subject? for the only evil thing which they had to contend with was an opposition to all government in general ; the good therefore they would recommend was necessarily to be submission in general. In the same restrained sense St. Peter sometimes uses kandv, 1 Ep. ii. 12. &c. ίνα ενώ καταλαλούσιν υμών ως κακοποιών, εκ των καλών έργων, εποπτεύσαντες, δοξάσωσι τον Θεόν εν ημέρα επισκοπής. At ver. 15. and at ver. 20. it plainly appears that åpadotolkîv is equivalent to Kalotoleîv, and that both expressions mean a general submission to government. We meet with the same word again in the course of the argument, ch. iii. ver. 5. &c. where St. Peter having mentioned the duty of submission, which Sarah paid to Abraham, exhorts wives to follow her example, whose daughters they were, åyabonotowoai; which he explains by υποτασσόμεναι τοις ιδίοις ανδράσι. So that there can be no doubt of the use of the word in this place.