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النشر الإلكتروني

TEXT. 13 Distributing to the necessity of saints ; given to hospitality. 14 Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not. 15 Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep. 16 Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things,

but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own con

ceits. 17 Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the

sight of all men. 18 If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. 19 Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto

wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the

Lord. 20 Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him

drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. 21 Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.

PARAPHRASE. 13 instant in prayer: Forward to help Christians in want, ac14 cording to their necessities; given to hospitality. Bless them 15 who persecute you : bless, and curse not. Rejoice with them 16 that rejoice, and weep with them that weep. Be of the same

mind one towards another. Do not mind only high things ; but suit yourselves to the mean condition and low concerns of

persons beneath you. Be not wise in your own conceits. 17 Render to no man evil for evil : but take care that your car18 riage be such as may be approved by all men. If it be possible, 19 as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. Dearly

beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather leave that to

God. For it is written, “Vengeance is mine, and I will 20 repay it, saith the Lord.” Therefore, if thine enemy

hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink : if this prevail on him, thou subduest an enemy, and gainest a friend: if he persists still in his enmity, in so doing thou heapest

coals of fire on his head, i. e. exposest him to the wrath of 21 God, who will be thy avenger. 'Be not overcome and pre

vailed on, by the evil thou receivest, to retaliate ; but endeavour to master the malice of an enemy in injuring thee, by a return of kindness and good offices to him.



CONTENTS. This section contains the duty of Christians to the civil magistrate: for the understanding this right we must consider these two things:

1. That these rules are given to Christians that were members of a heathen commonwealth, to show them that, by being made Christians and subjects of Christ's kingdom, they were not, by the freedom of the Gospel, exempt from any ties of duty or subjection, which by the laws of their country they were in, and ought to observe, to the government and magistrates of it, though heathens, any more than any of their heathen subjects. But, on the other side, these rules did not tie them up, any more than any of their fellow-citizens, who were not Christians, from any of those due rights, which, by the law of nature, or the constitutions of their country, belonged to them. Whatsoever any other of their fellow-subjects, being in a like station with them, might do without sinning, that they were not abridged of, but might do still, being Christians; the rule here being the same with that given by St. Paul, 1 Cor. vii. 17, “As God has called every one, so let him walk.” The rules of civil right and wrong, that he is to walk by, are to him the same they were before.

2. That St. Paul, in this direction to the Romans, does not so much describe the magistrates that then were in Rome, as tells whence they, and all magistrates, every where, have their authority; and for what end they have it, and should use it. And this he does, as becomes his prudence, to avoid bringing any imputation on Christians from heathen magistrates, especially those insolent and vicious ones of Rome, who could not brook any thing to be told them as their duty, and so might be apt to interpret such plain truths, laid down in a dogmatical way, into sauciness, sedition, or treason, a scandal cautiously to be kept off from the Christian doctrine ! nor does he, in what he says, in the least flatter the Roman emperor, let it be either Claudius, as some think, or Nero, as others, who then was in possession of that empire. For he here speaks of the higher powers, i. e. the supreme civil power, which is in every commonwealth derived from God, and is of the same extent every where, i. e. is absolute and unlimited by any thing, but the end for which God gave

it, viz. the good of the people, sincerely pursued, according to the best of the skill of those who share that power, and so not to be resisted. But, how men come by a rightful title to this power, or who has that title, he is wholly silent, and says nothing of it. To have meddled with that, would have been to decide of civil rights, contrary to the design and business of the Gospel, and the example of our Saviour, who refused meddling in such cases with this decisive question, “ Who made me a judge or divider over you ?” Luke xii. 14.


I Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no

power but of God : the powers that be are ordained of God.

PARAPHRASE. 1 Let every one of you, none excepted ą, be subject to

the over-ruling powers of the government he lives in.

NOTES. a “Every one, however endowed with miraculous gifts of the Holy Ghost, or advanced to any dignity in the church of Christ. For that these things were apt to make men overvalue themselves is obvious, from what St. Paul says to the Corinthians, 1 Cor. xii. and here to the Romans, chap. xii. 3—5. But, above all others, the Jews were apt to have an inward reluctancy and indignation against the power of any heathen over them, taking it to be an unjust and tyrannical usurpation upon them, who were the people of God, and their betters. These the apostle thought it necessary to restrain, and, therefore, says, in the language of the Jews, “ every soul," i. e. every person among you, whether Jew or Gentile, must live in subjection to the civil magistrate. We see, by what St. Peter says on the like occasion, that there was great need that Christians should have this duty inculcated to them, “lest any among them should use their liberty for a cloke of maliciousness, or misbehaviour,” i Pet. ii, 13–16. The doctrine of Christianity was a doctrine of liberty. And St. Paul, in this epistle, had taught them, that all Christians were free from the Mosaical law. Hence corrupt and mistaken men, especially Jewish converts, impatient, as we have observed, of any heathen dominion, might be ready to infer, that Christians were exempt from subjection to the laws of heathen governments. This he obviates, by telling them, that all other governments derived the power they had from God, as well as that of the Jews, though they had not the whole fraine of their government immediately from him, as the Jews had. Whether we take “powers," here, in the abstract, for political authority, or in the concrete, for the persons de facto exercising political power and jurisdiction, the sense will be the same, viz. That Christians, by virtue of being Christians, are not any way exempt from obedience to the civil magistrates, nor ought by any means to resist them, though by what is said, ver. 3, it seems that St. Paul meant here magistrates having and exercising a lawful power. But whether the magistrates in being were or were not such, and consequently were or were not to be obeyed, that Christianity gave them no peculiar power to examine. They had the common right of others, their fellow-citizens, but had no distinct privilege as Christians. And, therefore, we see, ver. 7, where he enjoins the paying of tribute and custom, &c. it is in these words : “ Render to all

TEXT. 2 Whosoever, therefore, resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of

God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt

thou then not be afraid of the power ? do that which is good, and

thou shalt have praise of the same: 4 For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that

which is evil, be afraid ; for he beareth not the sword in vain : for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that

doth evil. 5 Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for

conscience sake. 6 For for this cause pay you tribute also ; for they are God's ministers,

attending continually upon this very thing. 7 Render therefore to all their dues : tribute to whom tribute is due,

custom to whom custom, fear to whom fear, honour to whom honour.

PARAPHRASE. 2 There is no power but what is from God: The powers that

are in being are ordained by God: So that he, who resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God; and they that re

sist will be punished by those powers that they resist. 3 What should you be afraid of? Rulers are no terror to those

that do well, but to those that do ill. Wilt thou then not live in dread of the civil power? Do that which is good and

right, and then praise only is thy due from the magistrate. 4 For he is the officer and minister of God, appointed only for

thy good. But if thou doest amiss, then thou hast reason to be afraid : for he bears not the sword in vain. For he is

the minister of God, and executioner of wrath and punish5 ment upon him that doth ill. This being the end of govern

ment, and the business of the magistrate, to cherish the good, and punish ill men, it is necessary for you to submit to government, not only in apprehension of the punishment which

disobedience will draw on you, but out of conscience, as a 6 duty required of you by God.' This is the reason why also

you pay tribute, which is due to the magistrates because employ their care, time, and pains, for the public weal, in

punishing and restraining the wicked and vicious; and in 7 countenancing and supporting the virtuous and good. Render,

therefore, to all their dues : tribute to whom tribute is due, custom to whom custom, fear to whom fear, and honour to whom honour.

NOTE. heir dues, tribute to whom tribute is honour to whom honour," &c. But who it was, to whom any of these, or any other dues, of right belonged, he decides not, for that he leaves them to be determined by the laws and constitutions of their country.



CONTENTS. He exhorts them to love, which is, in effect, the fulfilling of the whole law,

TEXT. 8 Owe no man any thing, but to love one another : for he that lovethi

another hath fulfilled the aw. 9 For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, thou shalt not kill, thou

shalt not steal, thou shalt not bear false witness, thou shalt not covet ; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended

in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, 10 Love worketh no ill to his neighbour : therefore, love is the fulfilling

of the law. 11 And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out

of sleep; for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. 12 The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us, therefore, cast off

the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light.

PARAPHRASE. 8 Owe nothing to any body, but affection and good-will, mutu

ally to one another; for he that loves others sincerely as he 9 does himself, has fulfilled the law. For this precept, Thou

shalt not commit adultery, thou shalt not kill, thou shalt not steal, thou shalt not bear false witness, thou shalt not covet ; and whatever other command there be, concerning social du

ties, it in short is comprehended in this, “ Thou shalt love 10 thy neighbour as thyself.” Love permits us to do no harm

to our neighbour, and therefore is the fulfilling of the whole 11 law of the second table. And all this do, considering that it

is now high time that we rouse ourselves up, shake off sleep, and betake ourselves, with vigilancy and vigour, to the duties of a Christian life. For the time of your removal, out of this

place of exercise and probationership, is nearer than when 12 you first entered into the profession of Christianity. The

NOTE. 11, 12 - It seems, by these two verses, as if St. Paul looked upon Christ's coming

as not far off, to which there are several other occurrent passages in bis epistles : See 1 Cor. i.7, VOL. VIII.


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