Which twentysecond of Matthew in effect is nothing else but a chapter of controversies: with the Sadducee, verse twenty-three; with the Pharisee, verse twenty-two; with the Scribe, verse thirty-four; and here with the Herodian. With the Pharisees, of the great Commandment; with the Scribes, of the Messias. All worthy to be weighed; and all at other times commended by the Church to our consideration. This here in this.
The Herodian was a politic, and his question according, about a secular point; Licetne solvere? The case standeth not in this as it did in the other. The Pharisees and Sadducees had no further end but to set Him on ground, and so expose Him to the contempt of the people. The Herodians had laid a more dangerous plot: they came with this mind, saith St. Luke, ut caperent Eum, &c. 'to catch Him;' by catching somewhat from Him, whereby they might lay Him fast, and draw Him within danger of the state. It stood our Saviour upon, t o be well advised, to escape this snare thus [127/128] laid for Him, which accordingly He doth; leaving them in a muse, and withal under one leaving us a pattern, that He is no enemy but a friend to Caesar, and a friend in this special point of his receipt. That there is no duty, no not in this kind, but Christ saith of it. Reddite; willeth and commandeth it to be rendered. That so, knowing what Christ held, we may make it our tenet, and both hold it in opinion and hold us to it in practice for ever.
At or about the birth of Christ this came to be first a question and so from thence still remained. So that it was very meet Christ should resolve it. At His birth was the great tax of the world under Augustus; which being a new imposition, and never heard of before, fell out to breed much matter of question, two sorts of men taking two several parts about it. There is in the fifth chapter of Acts mention of 'Judas of Galilee,' that rose in the days of tribute. He it was that held touching the tax, quod non. The people of God, Abraham's seed, free born, they to be charged with taxes by a stranger, a heathen, an idolater? No, rather rise and take arms, as Jeroboam did. The people's ears itched after this doctrine. The best religion for the purse is the best for them, and they ready to hold with Jeroboam, or Judas, or any that will abrogate payments. And now, though Judas was taken and had as he deserved, and after his execution pay it they did, though with an ill will, yet the scruple of this question remained in men's minds still; they continued irresolute touching the right of it. As indeed in no one thing men are ever so long in resolving. Still there were that muttered in corners Judas was right; tribute was but a mere exaction. Men indeed of tumultuous spirits, but in shew zealous preservers of the people's liberties, whom they call Gaulonites..
On the other side, Herod and they that were toward him being all that they were toward him being all that were by Cæsar, to make the tribute sure work, they held that not only tribute but whatsoever else was Caesar's. His quæ was quæcunque; he could not have enough, not till he had quæ Dei too. The Roman monarchy pricked fast toward this point, Divisum imperiumm cum Jove was received at this time with great applause. Cæsar and Jupiter at halves; half God. Not long after, full out a God; [128/129] Edictum Domino, &c. 'the edict of our Lord God Domitian.' And this was not a piece of poetry; but we find in the Jewish story Petronius in good earnest sought to bring in Caligula's image into the temple of God, and called for not only tribute but sacrifice for Caesar. Now then that thus in derogation of the people' liberty held this part they termed Herodians, as it were men of Herod's turn. And thus held this question: thus have we both sides, and both their abettors. Of which the people inclined to the Gaulonite, and liked them better; the statesman and officers took part with the Herodian.
Now they come to Christ to receive His resolution, which part He will take to. It is, for them, a very quodlibet. If to retain the people's favour, to avoid their outcry, he speak but doubtfully of Caesar's tribute, habetur propositum, 'they have what they would;' it is that they came for, to bring Him in disgrace with the state, and in danger of His life. Thus would they fain have had it; and therefore, when truly they could not, as by this answer it is too plain, untruly they suggested, 'We found this man denying to pay tribute unto Cæsar.' But if this hit not, if He be for the tribute, yet will it not be from the purpose; they shall subject Him to their clamour and obloquy. He That must be their Messias must proclaim a jubilee, must cry, No tribute; otherwise He is not for them. If He betray them to the servitude of tolls and taxes, away with Him; not Him, but Judas of Galilee. So have they Him at a dangerous dilemma, imagining He must needs take one part. But that was their error. For Christ took a way between both. For as neither part is simply true, so is there is some truth in both. Therefore He answers not absolutely, as they fondly conceived he needs must, but with a double quæ, as indeed He should, which was not the answer they looked for. But it was such as they missed their purpose, and knew not how to reprove it.
The sum whereof is, that Christ is neither Gaulonite nor Herodian; nor no more are Christians Gaulonites to deny Cæsar his quæ, nor Herodians to grant him God's, and leave God none at all. But ready to acknowledge what due is to either, both of faith to God and allegiance to Cæsar; and [129/130] that in every point, and even in this here of Licetne solvere?
The substance of which answer is the main ground of all justice, Suum cuique, 'Let every one render to each that which is his.' And if to every one, then to these two great ones, Cæsar and God. To Cæsar Cæsar's due, to God God's. Upon which two duties, by virtue of this text, there go forth two decrees 'for all the world to be taxed.' The first taxing to be for Cæsar and his affairs; 2. The like tax to be levied for God and for His. For though many others duties be due to both, and to be rendered to them both, yet the matter of principal entendment in this place is, Ostende mihi numisma, matter of payment.
These be the two capital points. Wherein I. Of the joint and mutual consistence of Cæsar and of God.
II. That there are, among the things we have, certain of them things of Cæsar's; certain other thing of God's.
III. That these things are to be rendered and given.
IV. What these things are that are Cæsar's in this kind, and what those that are God's, that we pay each his own.
I. From this happy conjunction of these two great lights, Cæsar and God, here met together, linked with this copulative, Cæsar and Deo, 'and both in compass of one period; against the Gaulonite of our age, the Anabaptist, who thinketh they are in opposition, the whole heaven in sunder, and that God hath not His due unless Cæsar lays down his sceptre' that Cæsar and God, Christ and a Christian magistrate, are ¢sÚstata, 'incompatible,' that they stand aloof and will not come near another; here is a sytasie, a consistence, they will stand together well - both they and their duties as close as one verse, one breath, one period can join them.
To see then this pair thus near, thus coupled, thus as it were arm in arm together, is a blessed sight. Not here only to be seen, but all the Scriptures through with like aspect. Here in one Gospel, Cæsar and God; before in one law, God providing as for His own worship, so for their honour that are set over us. In one verse the Prophet joineth them, 'My son, fear God and the King;' and in one verse the [130/131] Apostle sorteth them, 'Fear God, honour the King.' So God and Christ, the Law and Gospel, the Prophets and Apostles, fetch not their breath, come not to a full point, till they have taken in both. Sure it is Christ and Belial agree not, and as sure that they are the children of Belial that 'have no part in David,' that is, the lawful magistrate by Sheba's case.
This is enough to shew God impeacheth not Cæsar, nor God's due Cæsar's right. Either permitteth other's interest, and both of them may jointly be performed. That as God's law supporteth the law of nations, so doth Christ plead for Cæsar; His religion for Cæsar's allegiance, His Gospel for Cæsar's duty, even to a penny. It was but a penny was shewed; not so much as a penny of Cæsar's, but Christ will speak, he may have it. This against the Gaulonite, that steps over quæ Cæsaris, the first part, and is all for quæ Dei, the latter. And against the Herodian too, by whom quæ Cæsaris is stood on alone, and quæ Dei slipped over. Two duties are set forth; there is a like regard to be had of both, that we make not Christ's answer serve for either alone. I know not how an evil use hath possessed the world; commonly one duty is singled out and made much of, without heed had of the other. Quæ Cæsaris audibly and with full voice quæ Dei drowned and scarce heard. And it is not in this alone but in many others; we cannot raise the price of one virtue but we must cry down all the rest. Not canonize preaching, but prayer must grow out of request. Not possible to bring up alms and works of mercy, but offerings and works of devotion must be laid down. But by sale of Christ's ointment no way to provide for the poor. But by sale of Christ's ointment no way to provide for the poor. Sensible in others, and this too dull.
God is not entire think the Gaulonite, unless Cæsar's image and superscription be blotted out. Cæsar hath not enough fill God have nothing left, thinks the Herodian.
Christ's course is the best, to hold the mean between both; either to be preserved in his right. Not to look so much on one, as we lose sight of the other. Not to give so good an ear to one, as we care not though the other be never spoken of. God hath coupled them here; and since God hath coupled them, let not man sever them. To Cæsar and to [131/132] God; not to Cæsar only, but to Cæsar and God. And again, not to God only, but to God and Cæsar.
Cæsar and God then will stand together: descend yet one degree further, we may put the case harder yet. For I demand, What Cæsar was this for whose interest Christ here pleadeth? To quicken this point somewhat more; it is certain it was Tiberius, even he under whom our Saviour was (and knew He was to be) put to death; a stranger from Israel, a heathen man, uncircumcised, an idolater, and enemy to the truth. So were Augustus and the rest you will say; but even in moral goodness he nothing so good as they. The Roman stories are in every man's hand; men know he was far from a good prince or good man either, as good went even among the heathen. Yet even this Cæsar, and such as he; any Cæsar will stand with God, and God with them for all that.
Not only to Cæsar, but to this and such as this, Reddite, saith Christ, Solvite, saith Paul, Subjecti estote, saith Peter, for all that; so was the old divinity. Though an 'evil spirit sent from God vex Saul,' yet, saith David, 'Destroy not,' it his word; nay, 'Touch not the Lord's anointed.' Though Nebuchadnezzar set up a great idol in the field Dura, and Belshazzar his son rather worse than his father, yet 'pray for Nebuchadnezzar,' saith Jeremy, 'and for Belshazzar his son,' and for the peace even of that state. From these examples might Judas of Galilee have taken his directions. Christ did, and His Apostles after Him willed duties to be paid and obedience to be yielded it themselves to such Cæsar's as Claudius, Caligula, and Nero; dyscolis dominis, as St. Peter's term is, if ever there were any. Which sheweth they were all of mind, that Cæsar (though no better than these) and God will stand together well enough. Yea that though Cæsar gave not God His due, as these did not certainly, yet are we to Cæsar that is his notwithstanding.
I know, we all know, if this Cæsar be Constantine, or Theodosius, the case is much the stronger, and the duty toucheth us nearer. But whether he be or no, 'the powers that are ordained of God,' though Tiberius or Nero have the powers. It is not the man, it is 'the ordinance of God' we owe and perform our subjection to. We yield it not to [132/133] Tiberius, but to Cæsar; and Cæsar is God's ordinance, be Tiberius what he will. This for the consorting of God and Cæsar, and even of this Cæsar.
II. That point established, we come to the second; out of these words quæ Cæsaris et quæ Dei, this may we infer, that among the things we have, we all and every of us have certain things of Cæsar's, and certain other things of God's. That all the things we have are not our own, inasmuch as out of them there belong some things to either of these. It is as if Christ would make all we have not to be fully and wholly ours, but three persons to be interested in them; Cæsar to have a right to some, God to other some, and the remainder only clearly to be our weigh the words quæ Dei so that His meaning is, every man should thus make account with himself of that he hath, that there is in his hands somewhat that pertaineth to either of these two. That there is our substance, a portion whereto they have as good right and title as we to the rest.. That what we have is ours, God's part and Cæsar' part first deducted. Quæ Dei et quæ Cæaris (it is the case possessive) do carry thus much. Therefore, saith the true Israelite, when he tendereth his offering to God, Sustuli quod sanctum est e domo meâ; I had a holy portion due to God amongst my goods, I have severed it from the rest in the first of Samuel, the tenth chapter, to Saul their lawful magistrate presented that was his. They that did so, Tetigit Deus cor eorum, 'God had touched their hearts.' Consequently in their hearts that did it not, there was the print of the devil's claws, not the touch of the finger of God. This may serve for the second, of the duty; for we shall strike the same nail home in the third of Reddite.
For from this right thus imported in the words quæ Cæsaris, quæ Dei, without any straining naturally doth follow the Reddite.
That theirs it is, and so, being theirs, to be paid them. Not of courtesy, but of duty; not as a free legacy, but as a due debt. Not Date but Reddite, 'ApÒdote. As if our Saviour should say, You ask Me, whether it be lawful to pay, I tell you it is as lawful to pay it as it is unlawful to withhold it; you would know whether you may, I say unto you you not only [133/134] may but must answer it. Nor dare, as a matter of gift, but reddere, as a matter of repayment or restitution. St. Paul maketh this point yet more plain, indeed past all controversy, where he addeth 'ApÒdote the other, Ñfeil£j, to the word of rendering the plain term of 'debts;' expressly calling them 'debts,' both 'tribute' and 'custom.'
Then what is paid to the prince or to God is not be termed a donative, gratuity, or benevolence, but of the nature of things restored, which though they be in our keeping are in very deed other men's. And they that reckon of them as matters merely voluntary, must alter Christ's Reddite needs, and teach Him some other term. But they that will learn of him, must think and call them 'debts,' must account themselves debtors; and that God and Cæsar are as two creditors, and they indebted themselves of these as of any debut or bond they owe. That if they render not these duties, they detain that which is none of theirs; and so doing are not only hard and illiberal, but unrighteous and unjust men.
This from Reddite, but this is not all. There is yet a further matter in it, which giveth a great grace too this rendering.
For in that He willeth them 'ApÒdote, His meaning is withal it should not be ¢potisij, a 'forced yeilding,' but ¢pÒdosij 'a rendering,' and that willingly; for so the nature of the word doth import, and so the Grecians distinguish ¢potsai and ¢podoà¢i. Our translation readeth 'Give to Cæsar,' no doubt with reference to this; that it should, though duly, yet so willingly be paid, as it were even a frank gift. In our speech we say, What is more due than debt? And again, What is more free than gift? Yet both these may meet, as in another case the Apostle coupleth them, Ñfeil6m_nhu eÜnoian, duty, yet benevolent; 'benevolence' and yet 'due,' the one respecting the nature, the other the mind; so both translations not amiss, both readings reconciled.
That is, not therefore to pay them because it will no better be. Cæsar hath vim coactivam. Hopni hath a flesh-hook, and can say. Date vell auferetur a vobis; and therefore to part with it as one delivereth a purse, or to bear it as a porter doth his load, groaning under it, that is not the manner of rendering it that is here required. But we must offer [134/135] it as it were a gift, voluntarily, willingly, cheerfully, k c£ritoj, k yucÁ`not x an£gkhj, k lÚphj. Di_ tÕn KÚrton, saith St. Peter, Di_ t_n sunedhsiu, saith St. Paul, [Col. 3.23. 2Cor. 9.27, 1Pet 2.13 Rom.13.5] even 'for the Lord,' even 'for conscience sake;' though Hophni had no flesh-hook, though Cæsar had no Publican to take a stress.
To pay it with grudging and an evil eye, to say Vade et redi cras, to put off, to pay it after often coming and sending; this is not ' ApÒdote, these the heathen man termeth viscata beneficia, when they hang to the fingers like birdline, and will not come away.
Nay, Ecce venio, saith Christ, so to pay it, even with love and good-will: an 'offering of a free heart,' as the Prophet, 'a blessing' and 'a grace,' as the Apostle termeth it. The manner is much, and much to be regarded. The willingness of the mind is ever the fat of the sacrifice, and without it all is lean and dry. It holdeth here, which the Apostle saith, 'If I preach,' saith he if we pay, say we 'we have no great cause to rejoice,' necessity lieth on us so to do. But if we do it with a good will, there is then a reward. A reward at His hands, Who, as His Apostle telleth us, hilarem datoremm diligit [[2Cor. 9.7] Not datormen, 'any that giveth;' but hilarem, him that giveth it cheerfully.' That gift best pleaseth God; and that service, Læti serviemus Regi, is ever best pleasing and most acceptable.
Render then and give quæ Cæsariis Cæsari, that is, the right duty to the right owner; as dutifully and willingly, so to do it wisely. In Suum cuique there is not only justice but wisdom, to know and to preserve to every one that is his own, the right quæ to him that of right it belongeth to.
Not to shuffle them together Cæsar's to God, God's to Cæsar it skills not which to which, ('God is not the author of confusion') but to know and discern what to each pertaineth; and what pertaineth, that to be answered. As before we pleaded, 'What God hath joined,' no man should never sever, so now we plead again, What God hath severed, man should not confound. The Prophet calleth it, 'removing the landmark' which God hath set to distinguish the duties, that neither invade the other's right, but keep the partition which He hath set up. Not to stand as here they do straining at a penny which was Cæsar's without question, and do as after [135/136] they did, receive the Roman eagle into their temple, which was God's right, and but slightly of them looked to. Ægerime pendere tributum, promptissime suscipere religionem; 'with much ado to pay any tribute at all, with little ado to receive one religion after another.' God forbid Cæsar should so readily receive God's duties at their hands, as he might easily have them if he would.
To the end then we may know which to render to which, it remaineth we enquire what is either's due, that we may tender it accordingly. And first, what is Cæsar's.
If we ask then, What is Caesar's? our answer must be, what God hath set over to him. For though quæ Dei stand in the last place, yet sure it is the former quæ cometh out of the latter, and quæ Cæsaris is derived out of quæ Dei.
Originally in the person of all kings doth King David acknowledge that 'All things are of Him,' and 'all things are His.' But the sovereign bounty of God was such as He would not keep all in his own hands, but as He hath vouchsafed to take unto Himself a secondary means in the government of mankind, that so one man might be one another's debtor, and after a sort, homo homini deus. To the conveyance then of divers benefits He hath called to Himself divers persons, and joined them with Himself: as our parents, to the work of our bringing forth; our teachers, in the work of our training up; and many other, in their kinds, with Him and under Him, His means and ministers, all for our good.
And in the high and heavenly work of the preservation of all our lives, persons, estates, and goods, in safety, peace, and quietness, in this His so great and divine benefit, He hath associated Cæsar to Himself; and in regard of His care and travail therein hath entitle him to part of His own right, hath made over this quæ, and made it due to Cæsar, and so cometh he to claim it.
In which point we learn, if we pay tribute, what we have for it back in exchange; if we give, what Cæsar giveth us for it again, our penny and our pennyworths; even this, Ut sit pax et veritas in diebus nostris. This is it to which we do debitum reddere, as he calleth it. This to which we do mutuam vicem rependere, as he speaketh, ka d_ toàto, and even 'for [136/137] this cause pay we tribute.' For this, that while we intend our private pleasures and profits in particular, we have them that study how we may safely and quietly do it, that counsel and contrive our peace, while we intend every man his own affairs; that wake while we sleep securely, and cark and care while we are merry and never think of it. Persons by whose providence a happy peace we long have enjoyed, and many good blessings are come to our nation. In which respect we owe them a large quæ, larger than I now can stand to recount.
1. We owe them honour inward, by a reverent conceit; 2. And outward, by an honourable testimony of the virtues in them and the good we receive by them. And sure I am this we owe, 'not to speak evil' of them that are in authority; and if there were some infirmity, not to blaze, but to conceal and cover it; for that the Apostle maketh a part of 'honour.' 3. We owe them our prayers and daily devout remembrances; for all, saith St. Paul. But by special prerogative for princes. 4. We owe them the service of our bodies, which if we refuse to come in person to do, the Angel of the Lord will 'curse' us, as he did Meroz. And in a word, to say with the Apostle, Nonn recuso mori.
All these we owe, and all these are parts of quæ Cæsaris but these are without the compass of this quæ here. These be not the things here questioned. It is the coin with Cæsar's stamp. It is a matter of payment. Let us hold us to that.
I say then, to be safe from the foreign enemy, for the wolf abroad, is a very great benefit. The sword holdeth him out; propter hoc we owe to the sword. To be quiet from the inward violent injurious oppressors, the fat and foregrown rams within our own fold, is a special blessing; the sceptre holds them in, propter hoc we owe to the sceptre. That by means of Cæsar's sword we have a free sea and safe port and harbour; Propter hoc we owe to Cæsar our custom. That by means of his sword we have our seed-time to ear the ground, our harvest to inn the crop quiet and safe: propter hoc we owe to Cæsar our tribute or tax. That by means of his sceptre we have right in all wrongs, and are not overborne in our innocence by such as never cease to trouble such as are quiet [137/138] in the land; propter hoc we owe to Cæsar the fees due to his courts of justice.
These are quæ Cæsaris; and not one of these but hath his ground in the word of God. The custom, Luke 3..13; the tax, 1Sam. 17.25; the fines, Ezra 7.26; the confiscation, Ezra 10.8.
These then are quæ Cæsaris. But these are current and ordinary; but extraordinary occasions cannot be answered with ordinary charges. Though in peace the set maintenance of garrisons which is certain (the ordinance of Josaphat) is enough; yet when war cometh, pÒlemoj oÙ tetagm_na zhteÐ, war admits no stint, but as occasions call for it supply must be ready.
There is no safety or assurance of quietness except the enemy fear. There is no fear without power, except we be able to hold our own, maugre the malice and force of the enemies. There is no power but by preparation of soldiers and furniture for war. Nor that without pay, the sinews of all affairs; nor pay without contribution. And propter hoc, da toàto, besides those other ordinary, the indictions for war, which we call subsidies, are part of quæ Cæsaris too. And warranted by the Scripture; Amaziah levying a hundred at one time against Edom, Menahem levying a thousand talents at another against Assur, a great contribution of fifty shekels a man. Indeed so it was, but such were the occasions; and the occasions being such, done, and done lawfully.
Then as generally we are bound to render all quæ Cæsaris, so in particular by this text and at this instant this quæ, when the times make it requisite, and it is orderly required.
Christ That willeth us to render it, rendered it Himself, and very timely He did it. For He went 'to be taxed,' being yet in his mother's womb, as Levi is said to 'pay tithe in his father's loins.' And He was born under the obedience of paying this duty. This may haply be said not to be His own act: therefore after at full years, then also, though He might have pleaded exemption at He telleth Peter, yet paid He His stater; though not due, yet to avoid the offence of refusing to pay to Cæsar, Conditor Cæsaris censum solvit Cæsar. Seeing then Cæsar's Creator paid Cæsar his [138/139] due, will any deny to do it? Especially seeing He paid Cæsar his due, yea even then when Cæsar did not render too God His due, but to idols; and what colour then can any have to deny it?
So have we His example, whereof we have here His precept; doing that before us which He willeth us to do after Him, and calling to us for no more than He did Himself. And ensuing His steps, His apostle presseth the same point, telling us custom and tribute are ¢feila, 'debts;' shewing us why they be debts, di_ toàto, for the good we receive; and willing us therefore to depart with them, even propter conscientiam, 'for very conscience sake.'
Let me add but this one. The forefathers of these here that move this doubt, they forsook David's house only because they thought much of paying the tax which Solomon had set, and they revolted to Jeroboam: what got they by it? By denying quæ Cæsaris they lost quæ Dei, the true religion, and besides enthralled themselves to far greater exactions, which the erecting of a new estate must needs require. Even these not obeying this advice, this Reddite of our Saviour's, but mutinying for the Roman tribute after, under Florus and Albinus, deputies for Cæsar; besides that they lost their temple, sacrifices, and service, their quæ Dei; upon this very point overthrew their estate clean, which to this day they never recovered. Therefore Reddite quæ Cæsaris is good counsel, lest quæ Dei and all go after it.
To conclude then, 1. Cæsar and God will stand together; yea Tiberius Cæsar and God. 2. To these, so standing, there are certain things due of duty belonging. 3. These things so due are to be rendered; not given as gratuities, but rendered as debts. And again, with good-will to be rendered, not delivered by force; and as willingly so wisely, Cæsar to have his, God His; in distinction, not confusion, but each his own. 4. Cæsar such duties, all such duties as pertain to him at large; but, as this text occasioneth, the duty of tribute and subsidy. This is the sum.
And if Tiberiuss Cæsar, much more than Prince that every way Christ Himself would recommend before Tiberius, whom it were an injury once to compare with Tiberius, above any Cæsar of them all; who hath exalteth Him Whom Tiberius [139/140] crucified, and professed Him with hazard of her estate and life, Whom they persecuted in all bloody manner.
Who hath preserved us in the profession of His holy Name and truth many years, quietly without fear and peaceably without interruption; and so may still, many and many times many years more. To this, to such a one, by special due, Reddite more, and more willingly, and more bounteously, than to them. The conclusion is good, the consequent much more forcible. This for quæ Cæsaris now. For quæ Dei at some other time, when like text shall offer like occasion.