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Let us observe in the beginning of this passage, how men of different religious opinions can unite in opposing Christ. We read of "Pharisees and Herodians" coming together to "catch our Lord in His words," and perplex Him with a hard question. The Pharisee was a superstitious formalist, who cared for nothing but the outward ceremonies of religion. The Herodian was a mere man of the world, who despised all religion, and cared more for pleasing men than God. Yet when there came among them a mighty teacher who assailed the ruling passions of both alike, and spared neither formalist nor worldling, we see them making common cause, and uniting in a common effort to stop His mouth. It has always been so from the beginning of the world. We may see the same thing going on at the present day. Worldly men and formalists have little real sympathy with one another. They dislike one another's principles, and despise one anther's ways. But there is one thing which they both dislike even more, and that is the pure Gospel of Jesus Christ. And hence, whenever there is a chance of opposing the Gospel, we shall always see the worldly man and the formalist combine and act together. We must expect no mercy from them--they will show none. We must never reckon on their divisions--they will always patch up an alliance to resist Christ. Let us observe, for another thing in this passage, the exceeding subtlety of the question propounded to our Lord. His enemies asked him, "Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, the Roman emperor, or not? Shall we give, or shall we not give?" Here was a question, which it seemed at first sight impossible to answer without peril. If our Lord had replied "Give," the Pharisees would have accused him before the priests, as one who regarded the Jewish nation as under subjection to Rome. If our Lord had replied, "Do not give," the Herodians would have accused him before Pilate, as a seditious person who taught rebellion against the Roman government. The trap was indeed well planned. Surely we may see in it the cunning hand of one greater than man. That old serpent the devil was there. We shall do well to remember, that of all questions which have perplexed Christians, none have ever proved so intricate and puzzling, as the class of questions which the Pharisees and Herodians here propounded. What are the dues of Caesar, and what are the dues of God--where the rights of the church end, and where the rights of the state begin--what are lawful civil claims and what are lawful spiritual claims--all these are hard knots and deep problems which Christians have often found it difficult to untie, and almost impossible to solve. Let us pray to be delivered from them. Never does the cause of Christ suffer so much as when the devil succeeds in bringing churches into collisions and law-suits with the civil power. In such collisions precious time is wasted--energies are misapplied--ministers are drawn off from their proper work--the souls of people suffer, and a church's victory often proves only one degree better than a defeat. "Give peace in our time, O Lord," is a prayer of wide meaning, and one that should often be on a Christian's lips. Let us observe, in the last place, the marvelous wisdom which our Lord showed in His answer to His enemies. Their flattering words did not deceive Him. He "knew their hypocrisy." His all-seeing eye detected the "potsherds covered with silver dross" which stood before Him. (Prov. 26:23.) He was not imposed upon, as too many of His people are, by glowing language and fine speeches. He made the daily practice of His own enemies supply Him with an answer to their cunning questions. He tells them to "bring Him a denarius," a common coin which they themselves were in the habit of using. He asks them "whose image and superscription" are stamped upon that coin? They are obliged to reply, "Caesar's." They were themselves using a Roman coin, issued and circulated by the Roman government. By their own confession they were in some way under the power of the Romans, or this Roman money would not have been current among them. At once our Lord silences them by the memorable words, "Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and unto God the things that are God's." He bids them pay tribute to the Roman government in temporal things, for by using its money they allowed themselves bound to do so. Yet He bids them give obedience to God in spiritual things, and not to suppose that duty to an earthly sovereign and a heavenly sovereign are incapable of being reconciled one with the other. In short, He bids the proud Pharisee not to refuse his dues to Caesar, and the worldly Herodian not to refuse his dues to God. Let us learn from this masterly decision the great principle, that true Christianity was never meant to interfere with a man's obedience to the civil power. So far from this being the case it ought to make him a quiet, loyal, and faithful subject. He ought to regard the powers that be as "ordained of God," and to submit to their rules and regulations so long as the law is enforced, though he may not thoroughly approve of them. If the law of the land and the law of God come in collision, no doubt his course is clear--he must obey God rather than man. Like the three children, though he serves a heathen king, he must not bow down to an idol. Like Daniel, though he submits to a tyrannical government, he must not give over praying in order to please the ruling powers. Let us often pray for a larger measure of that spirit of wisdom which dwelt so abundantly in our blessed Lord. Many are the evils which have arisen in the Church of Christ, from a morbid and distorted view of the relative positions of the civil government and of God. Many are the rents and divisions which have been occasioned by lack of sound judgment as to their comparative claims. Happy is he who remembers our Lord's decision in this passage, understands it rightly, and makes a practical application of it to his own times.

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