Romans 13

CHAPTER XIII.

Subjection to civil governors inculcated, from the consideration

that civil government is according to the ordinance of God; and

that those who resist the lawfully constituted authorities

shall receive condemnation, 1, 2.

And those who are obedient shall receive praise, 3.

The character of a lawful civil governor, 4.

The necessity of subjection, 5.

The propriety of paying lawful tribute, 6, 7.

Christians should love one another, 8-10.

The necessity of immediate conversion to God proved from the

shortness and uncertainty of time, 11, 12.

How the Gentiles should walk so as to please God, and put on

Christ Jesus in order to their salvation, 13, 14.

NOTES ON CHAP XIII.

To see with what propriety the apostle introduces the important

subjects which he handles in this chapter, it is necessary to make

a few remarks on the circumstances in which the Church of God then

was.

It is generally allowed that this epistle was written about the

year of our Lord 58, four or five years after the edict of the

Emperor Claudius, by which all the Jews were banished from Rome.

And as in those early times the Christians were generally

confounded with the Jews, it is likely that both were included in

this decree.

For what reason this edict was issued does not satisfactorily

appear. Suetonius tells us that it was because the Jews were

making continual disturbances under their leader Christus.

(See Clarke on Ac 18:2.) That the Jews were in general an

uneasy and seditious people is clear enough from every part of

their own history. They had the most rooted aversion to the

heathen government; and it was a maxim with them that the world

was given to the Israelites; that they should have supreme rule

every where, and that the Gentiles should be their vassals. With

such political notions, grounded on their native restlessness, it

is no wonder if in several instances they gave cause of suspicion

to the Roman government, who would be glad of an opportunity to

expel from the city persons whom they considered dangerous to its

peace and security; nor is it unreasonable on this account to

suppose, with Dr. Taylor, that the Christians, under a notion of

being the peculiar people of God, and the subjects of his kingdom

alone, might be in danger of being infected with those unruly and

rebellious sentiments: therefore the apostle shows them that they

were, notwithstanding their honours and privileges as Christians,

bound by the strongest obligations of conscience to be subject to

the civil government. The judicious commentator adds: "I cannot

forbear observing the admirable skill and dexterity with which the

apostle has handled the subject. His views in writing are always

comprehensive on every point; and he takes into his thoughts and

instructions all parties that might probably reap any benefit by

them. As Christianity was then growing, and the powers of the

world began to take notice of it, it was not unlikely that this

letter might fall into the hands of the Roman magistrates. And

whenever that happened it was right, not only that they should see

that Christianity was no favourer of sedition, but likewise that

they should have an opportunity of reading their own duty and

obligations. But as they were too proud and insolent to permit

themselves to be instructed in a plain, direct way, therefore the

apostle with a masterly hand, delineates and strongly inculcates

the magistrate's duty; while he is pleading his cause with the

subject, and establishing his duty on the most sure and solid

ground, he dexterously sides with the magistrate, and vindicates

his power against any subject who might have imbibed seditious

principles, or might be inclined to give the government any

disturbance; and under this advantage he reads the magistrate a

fine and close lecture upon the nature and ends of civil

government. A way of conveyance so ingenious and unexceptionable

that even Nero himself, had this epistle fallen into his hands,

could not fail of seeing his duty clearly stated, without finding

any thing servile or flattering on the one hand, or offensive or

disgusting on the other.

"The attentive reader will be pleased to see with what

dexterity, truth, and gravity the apostle, in a small compass,

affirms and explains the foundation, nature, ends, and just limits

of the magistrate's authority, while he is pleading his cause, and

teaching the subject the duty and obedience he owes to the civil

government."-Dr. Taylor's Notes, page 352.

Verse 1. Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers.]

This is a very strong saying, and most solemnly introduced; and we

must consider the apostle as speaking, not from his own private

judgment, or teaching a doctrine of present expediency, but

declaring the mind of God on a subject of the utmost importance to

the peace of the world; a doctrine which does not exclusively

belong to any class of people, order of the community, or official

situations, but to every soul; and, on the principles which the

apostle lays down, to every soul in all possible varieties of

situation, and on all occasions. And what is this solemn doctrine?

It is this: Let every soul be subject to the higher powers. Let

every man be obedient to the civil government under which the

providence of God has cast his lot.

For there is no power but of God] As God is the origin of

power, and the supreme Governor of the universe, he delegates

authority to whomsoever he will; and though in many cases the

governor himself may not be of God, yet civil government is of

him; for without this there could be no society, no security, no

private property; all would be confusion and anarchy, and the

habitable world would soon be depopulated. In ancient times, God,

in an especial manner, on many occasions appointed the individual

who was to govern; and he accordingly governed by a Divine right,

as in the case of Moses, Joshua, the Hebrew judges, and several of

the Israelitish kings. In after times, and to the present day, he

does that by a general superintending providence which he did

before by especial designation. In all nations of the earth there

is what may be called a constitution-a plan by which a particular

country or state is governed; and this constitution is less or

more calculated to promote the interests of the community. The

civil governor, whether he be elective or hereditary, agrees to

govern according to that constitution. Thus we may consider that

there is a compact and consent between the governor and the

governed, and in such a case, the potentate may be considered as

coming to the supreme authority in the direct way of God's

providence; and as civil government is of God, who is the fountain

of law, order, and regularity, the civil governor, who administers

the laws of a state according to its constitution, is the minister

of God. But it has been asked: If the ruler be an immoral or

profligate man, does he not prove himself thereby to be unworthy

of his high office, and should he not be deposed? I answer, No:

if he rule according to the constitution, nothing can justify

rebellion against his authority. He may be irregular in his own

private life; he may be an immoral man, and disgrace himself by an

improper conduct: but if he rule according to the law; if he make

no attempt to change the constitution, nor break the compact

between him and the people; there is, therefore, no legal ground

of opposition to his civil authority, and every act against him is

not only rebellion in the worst sense of the word, but is unlawful

and absolutely sinful.

Nothing can justify the opposition of the subjects to the ruler

but overt attempts on his part to change the constitution, or to

rule contrary to law. When the ruler acts thus he dissolves the

compact between him and his people; his authority is no longer

binding, because illegal; and it is illegal because he is acting

contrary to the laws of that constitution, according to which, on

being raised to the supreme power, he promised to govern. This

conduct justifies opposition to his government; but I contend that

no personal misconduct in the ruler, no immorality in his own

life, while he governs according to law, can justify either

rebellion against him or contempt of his authority. For his

political conduct he is accountable to his people; for his moral

conduct he is accountable to God, his conscience, and the

ministers of religion. A king may be a good moral man, and yet a

weak, and indeed a bad and dangerous prince. He may be a bad man,

and stained with vice in his private life, and yet be a good

prince. SAUL was a good moral man, but a bad prince, because

he endeavoured to act contrary to the Israelitish constitution: he

changed some essential parts of that constitution, as I have

elsewhere shown; (See Clarke on Ac 13:22;) he was therefore

lawfully deposed. James the Second was a good moral man, as far

as I can learn, but he was a bad and dangerous prince; he

endeavoured to alter, and essentially change the British

constitution, both in Church and state, therefore he was lawfully

deposed. It would be easy, in running over the list of our own

kings, to point out several who were deservedly reputed good

kings, who in their private life were very immoral. Bad as they

might be in private life, the constitution was in their hands ever

considered a sacred deposit, and they faithfully preserved it, and

transmitted it unimpaired to their successors; and took care while

they held the reins of government to have it impartially and

effectually administered.

It must be allowed, notwithstanding, that when a prince,

howsoever heedful to the laws, is unrighteous in private life, his

example is contagious; morality, banished from the throne, is

discountenanced by the community; and happiness is diminished in

proportion to the increase of vice. On the other hand, when a king

governs according to the constitution of his realms and has his

heart and life governed by the laws of his God, he is then a

double blessing to his people; while he is ruling carefully

according to the laws, his pious example is a great means of

extending and confirming the reign of pure morality among his

subjects. Vice is discredited from the throne, and the profligate

dare not hope for a place of trust and confidence, (however in

other respects he may be qualified for it,) because he is a

vicious man.

As I have already mentioned some potentates by name, as apt

examples of the doctrines I have been laying down, my readers will

naturally expect that, on so fair an opportunity, I should

introduce another; one in whom the double blessing meets; one who,

through an unusually protracted reign, during every year of which

he most conscientiously watched over the sacred constitution

committed to his care, not only did not impair this constitution,

but took care that its wholesome laws should be properly

administered, and who in every respect acted as the father of his

people, and added to all this the most exemplary moral conduct

perhaps ever exhibited by a prince, whether in ancient or modern

times; not only tacitly discountenancing vice by his truly

religious conduct, but by his frequent proclamations most solemnly

forbidding Sabbath-breaking, profane swearing, and immorality in

general. More might be justly said, but when I have mentioned all

these things, (and I mention them with exultation; and with

gratitude to God,) I need scarcely add the venerable name of

GEORGE the Third, king of Great Britain; as every reader will at

once perceive that the description suits no potentate besides.

I may just observe, that notwithstanding his long reign has been

a reign of unparalleled troubles and commotions in the world, in

which his empire has always been involved, yet, never did useful

arts, ennobling sciences, and pure religion gain a more decided

and general ascendancy: and much of this, under God, is owing to

the manner in which this king has lived, and the encouragement he

invariably gave to whatever had a tendency to promote the best

interests of his people. Indeed it has been well observed, that,

under the ruling providence of God, it was chiefly owing to the

private and personal virtues of the sovereign that the house of

Brunswick remained firmly seated on the throne amidst the storms

arising from democratical agitations and revolutionary convulsions

in Europe during the years 1792-1794. The stability of his throne

amidst these dangers and distresses may prove a useful lesson to

his successors, and show them the strength of a virtuous

character, and that morality and religion form the best bulwark

against those great evils to which all human governments are

exposed. This small tribute of praise to the character and conduct

of the British king, and gratitude to God for such a governor,

will not be suspected of sinister motive; as the object of it is,

by an inscrutable providence, placed in a situation to which

neither envy, flattery, nor even just praise can approach, and

where the majesty of the man is placed in the most awful yet

respectable ruins. I have only one abatement to make: had this

potentate been as adverse from WAR as he was from public and

private vices, he would have been the most immaculate sovereign

that ever held a sceptre or wore a crown.

But to resume the subject, and conclude the argument: I wish

particularly to show the utter unlawfulness of rebellion against a

ruler, who, though he may be incorrect in his moral conduct, yet

rules according to the laws; and the additional blessing of having

a prince, who, while his political conduct is regulated by the

principles of the constitution, has his heart and life regulated

by the dictates of eternal truth, as contained in that revelation

which came from God.

Verse 2. Whosoever resisteth the power] οαντιτασσομενος, He

who sets himself in order against this order of God; τητουθεου

διαταγη, and they who resist, οιανθεστηκοτες, they who

obstinately, and for no right reason, oppose the ruler, and strive

to unsettle the constitution, and to bring about illegal changes,

Shall receive to themselves damnation.] κριμα, condemnation;

shall be condemned both by the spirit and letter of that

constitution, which, under pretence of defending or improving,

they are indirectly labouring to subvert.

Verse 3. For rulers are not a terror to good works] Here the

apostle shows the civil magistrate what he should be: he is

clothed with great power, but that power is entrusted to him, not

for the terror and oppression of the upright man, but to overawe

and punish the wicked. It is, in a word, for the benefit of the

community, and not for the aggrandizement of himself, that God has

entrusted the supreme civil power to any man. If he should use

this to wrong, rob, spoil, oppress, and persecute his subjects, he

is not only a bad man, but also a bad prince. He infringes on the

essential principles of law and equity. Should he persecute his

obedient, loyal subjects, on any religious account, this is

contrary to all law and right; and his doing so renders him

unworthy of their confidence, and they must consider him not as a

blessing but a plague. Yet, even in this case, though in our

country it would be a breach of the constitution, which allows

every man to worship God according to his conscience, the truly

pious will not feel that even this would justify rebellion against

the prince; they are to suffer patiently, and commend themselves

and their cause to him that judgeth righteously. It is an awful

thing to rebel, and the cases are extremely rare that can justify

rebellion against the constituted authorities. See the doctrine on

Ro 13:1.

Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power?] If thou wouldst not

live in fear of the civil magistrate, live according to the laws;

and thou mayest expect that he will rule according to the laws,

and consequently instead of incurring blame thou wilt have praise.

This is said on the supposition that the ruler is himself a good

man: such the laws suppose him to be; and the apostle, on the

general question of obedience and protection, assumes the point

that the magistrate is such.

Verse 4. For he is the minister of God to thee for good] Here

the apostle puts the character of the ruler in the strongest

possible light. He is the minister of God-the office is by Divine

appointment: the man who is worthy of the office will act in

conformity to the will of God: and as the eyes of the Lord are

over the righteous, and his ears open to their cry, consequently

the ruler will be the minister of God to them for good.

He beareth not the sword in vain] His power is delegated to him

for the defence and encouragement of the good, and the punishment

of the wicked; and he has authority to punish capitally, when the

law so requires: this the term sword leads us to infer.

For he is the minister of God, a revenger] θεουδιακονοςεστιν

εκδικος, For he is God's vindictive minister, to execute wrath;

ειςοργην, to inflict punishment upon the transgressors of the

law; and this according to the statutes of that law; for God's

civil ministers are never allowed to pronounce or inflict

punishment according to their own minds or feeling, but according

to the express declarations of the law.

Verse 5. Ye must needs be subject] αναγκη, There is a necessity

that ye should be subject, not only for wrath, διατηνοργην, on

account of the punishment which will be inflicted on evil doers,

but also for conscience' sake; not only to avoid punishment, but

also to preserve a clear conscience. For, as civil government is

established in the order of God for the support, defence, and

happiness of society, they who transgress its laws, not only

expose themselves to the penalties assigned by the statutes, but

also to guilt in their own consciences, because they sin against

God. Here are two powerful motives to prevent the infraction of

the laws and to enforce obedience. 1. The dread of punishment;

this weighs with the ungodly. 2. The keeping of a good conscience,

which weighs powerfully with every person who fears God. These two

motives should be frequently urged both among professors and

profane.

Verse 6. For this cause pay ye tribute also] Because civil

government is an order of God, and the ministers of state must be

at considerable expense in providing for the safety and defence of

the community, it is necessary that those in whose behalf these

expenses are incurred should defray that expense; and hence

nothing can be more reasonable than an impartial and moderate

taxation, by which the expenses of the state may be defrayed, and

the various officers, whether civil or military, who are employed

for the service of the public, be adequately remunerated. All this

is just and right, but there is no insinuation in the apostle's

words in behalf of an extravagant and oppressive taxation, for the

support of unprincipled and unnecessary wars; or the pensioning of

corrupt or useless men. The taxes are to be paid for the support

of those who are God's ministers-the necessary civil officers,

from the king downwards, who are attending CONTINUALLY on this

very thing. And let the reader observe, that by God's ministers

are not meant here the ministers of religion, but the civil

officers in all departments of the state.

Verse 7. Render therefore to all their dues] This is an

extensive command. Be rigidly just; withhold neither from the king

nor his ministers, nor his officers of justice and revenue,

nor from even the lowest of the community, what the laws of God

and your country require you to pay.

Tribute to whom tribute] φορον. This word probably means such

taxes as were levied on persons and estates.

Custom to whom custom] τελος. This word probably means such

duties as were laid upon goods, merchandise, &c., on imports and

exports; what we commonly call custom. Kypke on this place has

quoted some good authorities for the above distinction and

signification. Both the words occur in the following quotation

from Strabo: αναγκηγαρμειουσθαιτατεληφορωνεπιβαλλομενων.

It is necessary to lessen the CUSTOMS, if TAXES be imposed.

Strabo, lib. ii., page 307. See several other examples in Kypke.

Fear to whom fear] It is likely that the word φοβον, which we

translate fear, signifies that reverence which produces obedience.

Treat all official characters with respect, and be obedient to

your superiors.

Honour to whom honour.] The word τιμην may here mean that

outward respect which the principle reverence, from which it

springs, will generally produce. Never behave rudely to any

person; but behave respectfully to men in office: if you cannot

even respect the man-for an important office may be filled by an

unworthy person-respect the office, and the man on account of his

office. If a man habituate himself to disrespect official

characters, he will soon find himself disposed to pay little

respect or obedience to the laws themselves.

Verse 8. Owe no man any thing, but to love one another] In the

preceding verses the apostle has been showing the duty, reverence,

and obedience, which all Christians, from the highest to the

lowest, owe to the civil magistrate; whether he be emperor, king,

proconsul, or other state officer; here he shows them their duty

to each other: but this is widely different from that which they

owe to the civil government: to the first they owe subjection,

reverence, obedience, and tribute; to the latter they owe nothing

but mutual love, and those offices which necessarily spring from

it. Therefore, the apostle says, Owe no man; as if he had said: Ye

owe to your fellow brethren nothing but mutual love, and this is

what the law of God requires, and in this the law is fulfilled.

Ye are not bound in obedience to them as to the civil magistrate;

for to him ye must needs be subject, not merely for fear of

punishment, but for conscience sake: but to these ye are bound by

love; and by that love especially which utterly prevents you from

doing any thing by which a brother may sustain any kind of injury.

Verse 9. For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery] He that

loves another will not deprive him of his wife, of his life, of

his property, of his good name; and will not even permit a desire

to enter into his heart which would lead him to wish to possess

any thing that is the property of another: for the law-the sacred

Scripture, has said: Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

It is remarkable that ουψευδομαρτυρησεις, thou shalt not bear

false witness, is wanting here in ABDEFG, and several other MSS.

Griesbach has left it out of the text. It is wanting also in the

Syriac, and in several of the primitive fathers. The generality of

the best critics think it a spurious reading.

Verse 10. Love worketh no ill] As he that loves another will

act towards that person as, on a reverse of circumstances, he

would that his neighbour should act towards him; therefore, this

love can never work ill towards another: and, on this head, i.e.

the duty we owe to our neighbour, love is the fulfilling of the

law.

Verse 11. And that, knowing the time] Dr. Taylor has given a

judicious paraphrase of this and the following verses: "And all

the duties of a virtuous and holy life we should the more

carefully and zealously perform, considering the nature and

shortness of the present season of life; which will convince us

that it is now high time to rouse and shake off sleep, and apply

with vigilance and vigour to the duties of our Christian life; for

that eternal salvation, which is the object of our Christian faith

and hope, and the great motive of our religion, is every day

nearer to us than when we first entered into the profession of

Christianity."

Some think the passage should be understood thus: We have now

many advantages which we did not formerly possess. Salvation is

nearer-the whole Christian system is more fully explained, and the

knowledge of it more easy to be acquired than formerly; on which

account a greater progress in religious knowledge and in practical

piety is required of us: and we have for a long time been too

remiss in these respects. Deliverance from the persecutions, &c.,

with which they were then afflicted, is supposed by others to be

the meaning of the apostle.

Verse 12. The night is far spent] If we understand this in

reference to the heathen state of the Romans, it may be

paraphrased thus: The night is far spent-heathenish darkness is

nearly at an end. The day is at hand-the full manifestation of

the Sun of righteousness, in the illumination of the whole Gentile

world approaches rapidly. The manifestation of the Messiah is

regularly termed by the ancient Jews yom, day, because

previously to this all is night, Bereshith rabba sect. 91, fol.

89. Cast off the works of darkness-prepare to meet this rising

light, and welcome its approach, by throwing aside superstition,

impiety, and vice of every kind: and put on the armour of

light-fully receive the heavenly teaching, by which your spirits

will be as completely armed against the attacks of evil as your

bodies could be by the best weapons and impenetrable armour. This

sense seems most suitable to the following verses, where the vices

of the Gentiles are particularly specified; and they are exhorted

to abandon them, and to receive the Gospel of Christ. The common

method of explanation is this: The night is far spent-our present

imperfect life, full of afflictions, temptations, and trials, is

almost run out; the day of eternal blessedness is at hand-is about

to dawn on us in our glorious resurrection unto eternal life.

'Therefore, let us cast off-let us live as candidates for this

eternal glory. But this sense cannot at all comport with what is

said below, as the Gentiles are most evidently intended.

Verse 13. Let us walk honestly, as in the day] Let us walk,

ευσχημονες, decently, from εν, well, and σχημα, mien,

habit, or dress. Let our deportment be decent, orderly, and

grave; such as we shall not be ashamed of in the eyes of the

whole world.

Not in rioting, and drunkenness] μηκωμοιςκαιμεθαις.

κωμος, rioting, according to Hesychius, signifies ασελγη

ασματαπορνικασυμποσιαωδαι, unclean and dissolute songs,

banquets, and such like. μεθαις signifies drunken festivals, such

as were celebrated in honour of their gods, when after they had

sacrificed (μετατοθυειν, SUIDAS) they drank to excess,

accompanied with abominable acts of every kind. See Suidas and

Hesychius, under this word.

Not in chambering] This is no legitimate word, and conveys no

sense till, from its connection in this place, we force a meaning

upon it. The original word, κοιταις, signifies whoredoms and

prostitution of every kind.

And wantonness] ασελγειαις, All manner of uncleanness and

sodomitical practices.

Not in strife and envying.] μηεριδικαιζηλω, Not in

contentions and furious altercations, which must be the

consequence of such practices as are mentioned above. Can any man

suppose that this address is to the Christians at Rome? That they

are charged with practices almost peculiar to the heathens? And

practices of the most abandoned and dissolute sort? If those

called Christians at Rome were guilty of such acts, there could be

no difference except in profession, between them and the most

abominable of the heathens. But it is impossible that such things

should be spoken to the followers of Christ; for the very grace

that brings repentance enables the penitent to cast aside and

abominate all such vicious and abominable conduct.

The advices to the Christians may be found in the preceding

chapter; those at the conclusion of this chapter belong solely to

the heathens.

Verse 14. Put ye on the Lord Jesus] This is in reference to

what is said, Ro 13:13:

Let us put on decent garments-let us make a different profession,

unite with other company, and maintain that profession by a

suitable conduct. Putting on, or being clothed with Jesus Christ,

signifies receiving and believing the Gospel; and consequently

taking its maxims for the government of life, having the mind that

was in Christ. The ancient Jews frequently use the phrase putting

on the shechinah, or Divine majesty, to signify the soul's being

clothed with immortality, and rendered fit for glory.

To be clothed with a person is a Greek phrase, signifying to

assume the interests of another-to enter into his views, to

imitate him, and be wholly on his side. St. Chrysostom

particularly mentions this as a common phrase, οδεινατονδεινα

ενεδυσατο, such a one hath put on such a one; i.e. he closely

follows and imitates him. So Dionysius Hal., Antiq., lib. xi.,

page 689, speaking of Appius and the rest of the Decemviri, says:

ουκετιμετριαζοντεςαλλατονταρκυνιονεκεινονενδυομενοι, They

were no longer the servants of Tarquin, but they CLOTHED

THEMSELVES WITH HIM-they imitated and aped him in every thing.

Eusebius, in his life of Constantine, says the same of his sons,

they put on their father-they seemed to enter into his spirit and

views, and to imitate him in all things. The mode of speech itself

is taken from the custom of stage players: they assumed the name

and garments of the person whose character they were to act, and

endeavoured as closely as possible to imitate him in their spirit,

words, and actions. See many pertinent examples in Kypke.

And make not provision for the flesh] By flesh we are here to

understand, not only the body, but all the irregular appetites and

passions which led to the abominations already recited. No

provision should be made for the encouragement and gratification

of such a principle as this.

To fulfil the lusts thereof.] ειςεπιθυμιας, in reference to

its lusts; such as the κωμοικοιταιμεθαι, and ασελγειαι,

rioting, drunkenness, prostitutions, and uncleanness, mentioned,

Ro 13:13,

to make provision for which the Gentiles lived and laboured, and

bought and sold, and schemed and planned; for it was the

whole business of their life to gratify the sinful lusts of the

flesh. Their philosophers taught them little else; and the whole

circle of their deities, as well as the whole scheme of their

religion, served only to excite and inflame such passions, and

produce such practices.

I. IN these four last verses there is a fine metaphor, and it

is continued and well sustained in every expression. 1. The

apostle considers the state of the Gentiles under the notion of

night, a time of darkness and a time of evil practices. 2. That

this night is nearly at an end, the night is far spent. 3. He

considers the Gospel as now visiting the Gentiles, and the light

of a glorious day about to shine forth on them. 4. He calls those

to awake who were in a stupid, senseless state concerning all

spiritual and moral good; and those who were employed in the

vilest practices that could debase and degrade mankind. 5. He

orders them to cast off the works of darkness, and put on the

armour οπλα, the habiliments of light-of righteousness: to cease

to do evil; to learn to do well. Here is an allusion to laying

aside their night clothes, and putting on their day clothes. 6. He

exhorts them to this that they may walk honestly, decently

habited; and not spend their time, waste their substance, destroy

their lives, and ruin their souls in such iniquitous practices as

those which he immediately specifies. 7. That they might not

mistake his meaning concerning the decent clothing which he

exhorts them to walk in, he immediately explains himself by the

use of a common form of speech, and says, still following his

metaphor, Put on the Lord Jesus Christ-receive his doctrine, copy

his example, and seek the things which belong to another life; for

the Gentiles thought of little else than making provision for the

flesh or body, to gratify its animal desires and propensities.

II. These last verses have been rendered famous in the

Christian Church for more than 1400 years, as being the instrument

of the conversion of St. Augustine. It is well known that this man

was at first a Manichean, in which doctrine he continued till the

32d year of his age. He had frequent conferences and controversies

on the Christian religion with several friends who were

Christians; and with his mother Monica, who was incessant in her

prayers and tears for his conversion. She was greatly comforted by

the assurance given her by St. Ambrose, bishop of Milan, where her

son Augustine was then professor of rhetoric: that a child of so

many prayers and fears could not perish. He frequently heard St.

Ambrose preach, and was affected, not only by his eloquence, but

by the important subjects which he discussed; but still could not

abandon his Manicheanism. Walking one day in a garden with his

friend Alypius, who it appears had been reading a copy of St.

Paul's epistle to the Romans, and had left it on a bank near which

they then were, (though some say that Augustine was then alone,)

he thought he heard a musical voice calling out distinctly, TOLLE

et LEGE! TOLLE et LEGE! take up and read! take up and read! He

looked down, saw the book, took it up, and hastily opening it, the

first words that met his eye were these-μηκωμοιςκαιμεθαις, &c.,

Not in rioting and drunkenness, &c., but put ye on the Lord Jesus

Christ. He felt the import and power of the words, and

immediately resolved to become a follower of Christ: he in

consequence instantly embraced Christianity; and afterwards boldly

professed and wrote largely in its defence, and became one of the

most eminent of all the Latin fathers. Such is the substance of

the story handed down to us from antiquity concerning the

conversion of St. Augustine. He was made bishop of Hippo in

Africa, in the year 395, and died in that city, Aug. 28th, 430, at

the very time that it was beseiged by the Vandals.

III. After what I have said in the notes, I need add nothing on

the great political question of subordination to the civil powers;

and of the propriety and expediency of submitting to every

ordinance of man for the Lords sake. I need only observe, that it

is in things civil this obedience is enjoined; in things

religious, God alone is to be obeyed. Should the civil power

attempt to usurp the place of the Almighty, and forge a new creed,

or prescribe rites and ceremonies not authorized by the word of

God, no Christian is bound to obey. Yet even in this case, as I

have already noted, no Christian is authorized to rebel against

the civil power; he must bear the persecution, and, if needs be,

seal the truth with his blood, and thus become a martyr of the

Lord Jesus. This has been the invariable practice of the genuine

Church of Christ. They committed their cause to him who judgeth

righteously. See farther on this subject on Mt 22:20, &c.

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