Twenty Second Sunday After Pentecost The Gospel Matt.22.v.15.Monday Meditation: A Plaine Path-way To Heaven Thomas Hill 1634

GOSPEL Matt. 22:15-21 
At that time, the Pharisees went and took counsel how they might ensnare him in his talk. And they send to him their disciples, with the Herodians, saying, "Master, we know that thou art true, and teachest the way of God in truth, and carest not for any one: for thou regardest not the person of men. Tell us therefore, What thinkest thou? Is it lawful to give tribute unto Caesar, or not?" But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, "Why tempt ye me, ye hypocrites? Shew me the tribute money." And they brought unto him a penny. And he saith unto them, "Whose is this image and superscription?" They say unto him, "Caesar’s." Then saith he unto them, "Render therefore unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s." 


There was at this time a question between the Jews & Emperors of Rome under whose government they were, whether it were lawful for the Jews to pay tribute unto the Emperors or no?

The Jews held, not, and their reason was because of these words of God unto them, Thou shalt worship God, and serve him only, paying Tithes & oblations to him, and because paying of Tribute was a sign of Subjection unto the Emperor, and a disgrace unto them, as they thought, therefore they held it not lawful.

The Emperor held it due unto him, in regard he was their Prince, and defended and protected them from their enemies abroad, and conserved them in peace with one another at home: and this question arose in

in the time of Octavianus the Emperor, about the time that Christ was born, when he commanded, that all the world should be described, and a certain Tribute paid for every head, that he might know the number of his subjects.

Those that held tribute was not to be paid, were no friends to Cesar, those that held it lawful, no friends to the Jews.

This dangerous questions the chief priests and Pharisees sent their disciples together with the Herodians, that is to say Herode’s soldiers, to ask Christ, not to be resolved, but to entrap him, as the text sayth, and the reason why they sent of Herode’s soldiers was, because Herode was then King for the Roman Emperor, that if Christ had denied Tribute (as they thought he must, if he spake trueth) the soldiers might lay hold on him and carry him to prison: & to induce to Christ to deny tribute, which they though was the truth, they used these words cunningly, before they came to the question: Master we know thou speaketh truth, and carest for no man, but teachest the way of God in verity, and art no accepter of persons: but Christ answered them, contrary to their expectation, in that sort as they could take no advantage against him, and his answer was this: he called for the coin that was to be given for Tribute, & asked, whose Image and superscription was upon it? They answered Caesars, he said give then unto Cesar that which is Caesars, and unto God, that which is Gods.

So wise an answer, that the text sayth, they marveled at it, and leaving him, went their way.

Here we may consider, that whereas the chief Priests & Pharisees had gone about oftentimes to take advantage against Christ, in his deeds, and could not, but went away ashamed, & had nothing to say, which increased their malice very much; as for example when he cured the sick upon the Sabbath day, and the like: here they set upon him to catch him in his speech, where men do easily overshoot themselves, for as St. James sayth, he that offendeth not in words, is a perfect man, and in another place the Scripture sayth, In much speech there doth not want much error, wherein they did as a skillful Captain doth, set upon his enemies Army where it is weakest, and as the devil did in the beginning set upon the woman Eve, the weaker vessel, first, that overcoming her, he might overcome her husband Adam; and so doth he still by himself and his Ministers, set upon us where we are weakest, to wit, in our tongue & speech as he did here upon Christ, thinking he had been subject to the frailty of man.

 Against which infirmity to make us the more careful, we carry always this Caveat of nature about us, to arm us the better against the errors of the tongue, that the Tongue hath two veins whereof the one goeth to the heart, the other to the brain where our reason and understanding doth reside, whereby nature teacheth us, not to have one thing in our heart and another in our tongue or speech, according to that of Christ, Let your talk be yea, yea, and nay, nay; that is to say, yea in the heart, & yea in the tongue; nay in the heart, and nay in the tongue; & that we should not utter all that is in our heart,, but what is fit, and according to reason and discretion, notwithstanding the flattery of men or our own passion of anger, or the like provoke and entice us never so much.

And if this will not serve our turn, let us second it with this egregious example, that notwithstanding these messengers camm so flatteringly unto Christ calling him Master, saying, they knew he would speak the truth without fear of any man, & would teach the way of God in verity, & was no accepter of persons, to draw him on, to speak somewhat that they might take advantage; he refused not to answer, least it should be a disparagement unto him, professing himself a teacher of the people, and they calling him Master, but answered so warily, that they could take no advantage of him, so wisely that they marveled at him, so truly that they could take no exception at him, yet so reservedly to himself that he did not utter all he thought of the question in particular, but only in general terms, yet so piously and like a Master or Teacher, (as they called him) that he did covertly touch them, and teach them their duty, in these words, Give unto God that which is Gods, as if he should say, they out of malice and hypocrisy to entrap him, did not give unto him his due, as he was their neighbor and countryman, whom they were bound by the law to love as themselves, and much less as he was God.


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