Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work,…
I. PUBLIC AUTHORITY PRESUPPOSED.
II. SUBJECTION AND OBEDIENCE ENJOINED. Put them in mind to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work — intimating to us that we must show our obedience by our ready compliance in good works; for if the magistrate command what is evil, there is no obligation to perform it, because nothing can oblige us to do evil. But what if the thing commanded be neither good nor evil, but of an indifferent nature; what must we do in that case? Why then we must undoubtedly obey it; for otherwise there will be nothing left wherein the magistrate may use his power. What is good or evil in itself must be done or avoided for God's sake. What is not so in itself, but only in regard of the end for which it is enacted, being judged so by the magistrate for the good of the community, this must be observed, both for God's sake and his too, because God requires our obedience to Him in these things, But what then becomes of our liberty, if another must judge for us? It is where it was before; we must obey, and yet we are as free as Christ hath made us; nay, I doubt not to add, we are most Christ's freemen when we duly obey our governors' just laws; for seeing Christ hath commanded us to be subject not only for wrath, but for conscience sake, that so we may avoid the guilt of sin, that obedience which keeps us from sin (which is the only vassalage of a Christian) can by no means infringe, but does rather advance our Christian liberty.
III. THE DUTY OF PASTORS AND TEACHERS INCULCATED. Put them in mind, admonish them often of it, and bring it to their remembrance, as St. Peter does twice together in another case (2 Peter 1:12, 13).
1. Let us consider that obedience to magistrates is a prime duty of piety and religion, wherein the honour and authority of God are particularly concerned; not only because He requires it by manifold precepts, but because magistrates are His officers and ministers, by whom He governs the world and administers His providence towards men, and to whom He has given part of His own power for that purpose.
2. The exigence of our civil affairs, and the preservation of the public does exact this duty from us. For the execution of justice between man and man, the safe and quiet enjoyment of God's blessings, and the welfare and peace of the whole community, are extremely concerned and advanced by it.
3. Obedience to our governors is founded on the highest equity and reason; for day by day we receive invaluable benefits by the influence of their government and conduct; protection of our lives and estates, of our privileges, properties, and religion; secure possession of the gifts of God, and liberty to increase our substance by trade and traffic, and to eat the fruit of our labour, etc.
4. Obedience to our governors is a duty incumbent on us in point of ingenuity and gratitude. For in preserving the peace and prosperity of the nation, they do not only preserve ours, but for our advantage also they undergo many cares and troubles, great toil and labour, attending continually for this very thing (Romans 13:6).
5. No man can disobey his governors without breaking the most sacred laws of justice and honesty; without downright perjury towards God, and perfidiousness towards man.
(Henry Dove, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work,