Commentary from THE ANNOTATED
BOOK OF COMMON
PRAYEREdited by JOHN HENRY BLUNT
Rivingtons, London, 1884
TWENTY THIRD SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY
Our Lord is set forth in the Gospel of this Sunday as teaching that
duties towards the civil power are part of our heavenly citizenship; St.
Paul also, in the Epistle, referring to the true Christian life on earth
as having already many things in common with the life of heaven.
None ever set a higher example of obedience to the laws than He Who is
the Eternal Lawgiver and Ruler: and He inculcates an honest submission
to them even in such a case as that on which an appeal was made to Him,
where the law was that of a conqueror against whom rebellion seemed to
be a duty. One deduction to be drawn from the words of Christ and
of His Apostle is that the Church has little to do with politics or questions
of secular government. The things of Caesar and the things of God
were confused together by the Jews, and they ended by rejecting the Lord,
and saying, "We have no king but Caesar." So it has happened at other
times, that a want of zeal for God in carefully distinguishing what is
His, has led the Church into bondage to civil rulers until its spiritual
character has been almost obliterated. The Church of England has
been mercifully guided into a just discrimination of the things of Caesar
and the things of God; and while rendering strictest obedience to the Sovereign,
has not suffered an excessive loyalty to yield up spiritual rights.
Nor does it ever, in modern days, seek to interfere in matters of civil
government. Such a just consideration of the respective duties which
are owing towards Caesar and towards God, and such a persevering determination
to render to each their proper dues, is a sure way of promoting both the
security and the happy progress of Christ's Church.