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Exhortation to renounce covetousness.
worse than these are they that are rich in evil ways, and it is MATT. better to beg than to spoil, for the one hath excuse, but the 1-14. other brings punishment; and the beggar in no degree offends God, but this other both men and God; and undergoes the labours of rapine, but all the enjoyment thereof other men often reap.
Knowing then these things, let us lay aside all covetousness, and covet the things above, with great earnestness taking the kingdom by force'. For it cannot be, it cannot1 Matt. be that any one who is remiss should enter therein.
But God grant that we all having become earnest, and watchful, may attain thereto, by the grace and love towards man of our Lord Jesus Christ, to Whom be glory and might, world without end. Amen.
MATT. xxii. 15.
Then went the Pharisees, and took counsel how they might entangle Him in His talk.
THEN. When? When most of all they ought to have been moved to compunction, when they should have been amazed at His love to man, when they should have feared the things to come, when from the past they ought to have believed. touching the future also. For indeed the things that had been said cried aloud in actual fulfilment. I mean, that publicans and harlots believed, and prophets and righteous men were slain, and from these things they ought not to have gainsaid touching their own destruction, but even to believe and to be sobered.
But nevertheless not even so do their wicked acts cease, but travail and proceed further. And forasmuch as they could not lay hands on Him, (for they feared the multitude,) they took another way with the intention of bringing Him into danger, and making Him guilty of crimes against the
For they sent out unto Him their disciples with the Herodians, saying, Master, we know that Thou art true, and teachest the way of God in truth, neither carest Thou for any man; for Thou regardest not the person of men. Tell us therefore, what thinkest Thou? Is it lawful to give tribute unto Cæsar or not?
For they were now tributaries, their state having passed under the rule of the Romans. Forasmuch then as they saw
The Pharisees strive to ensnare our Lord as to the Tribute. 941
that Theudas and Judas' with their companies for this cause MATT. were put to death, as having prepared for a revolt, they were 16. 17. minded to bring Him too by these words into such a suspicion. Acts 5, Therefore they sent both their own disciples, and Herod's soldiers, digging, as they thought, a precipice on either side, and in every direction setting the snare, so that, whatever He should say, they might lay hold of it; and if He should answer in favour of the Herodians, themselves might find fault with Him, but if in their favour, the others should accuse Him. And yet He had given the didrachmas 2, but? Matt. they knew not that.
And in either way indeed they expected to lay hold of Him; but they desired rather that He should say something against the Herodians. Wherefore they send their disciples also to urge Him thereto by their presence, that they might deliver Him to the governor as an usurper. For this Luke also intimates and shews, by saying, that they asked also in the presence of the multitude, so that the testimony should be the stronger.
But the result was altogether opposite; for in a larger body of spectators they afforded the demonstration of their folly.
And see their flattery, and their hidden craft. We know, their words are, that Thou art true. How said ye then, He is a deceiver, and deceiveth the people3, and hath a devil, 3 John 7, 12; and is not of God? how a little while before did ye devise 8, 48; to slay Him?
But they are at every thing, whatsoever their craft against Him may suggest. For since, when a little before they had said in self will, By what authority doest Thou these things1? Matt. 21, 23. they did not meet with an answer to the question, they look to puff Him up by their flattery, and to persuade Him to say something against the established laws, and opposed to the prevailing government.
Wherefore also they testify the truth unto Him, confessing what was really so, nevertheless, not with an upright mind, nor willingly; and add thereto, saying, Thou carest not for any man. See how plainly they are desiring to urge Him to these sayings, that would make Him both offend Herod, and incur the suspicion of being an usurper, as standing up
Their crafty address. Our Lord's severity.
HOMIL. against the laws, so that they might punish Him, as a mover 1. of sedition, and an usurper. For in saying, Thou carest not for any man, and, Thou regardest not the person of man, they were hinting at Herod and Cæsar.
Tell us therefore, what thinkest Thou? Now ye honour Him, and esteem Him a Teacher, having despised and insulted Him oftentimes, when He was discoursing of the things that concern your salvation. Whence also they are become confederates.
And see their craftiness. They say not, Tell us what is good, what is expedient, what is lawful? but, What thinkest Thou? So much did they look to this one object, to betray Him, and to set Him at enmity with the rulers. And Mark declaring this, and more plainly discovering their self-will, and their murderous disposition, affirms them to have said, 1 Mark Shall we give Cæsar tribute, or shall we not give1? So that 12, 15. they were breathing anger, and travailing with a plot against Him, yet they feigned respect.
What then saith He? Why tempt ye Me, ye hypocrites? Seest thou how He talks with them with more than usual severity? For since their wickedness was now complete and manifest, He cuts the deeper, first confounding and silencing them, by publishing their secret thoughts, and making it manifest to all with what kind of intent they are coming unto Him.
And these things He did, repulsing their wickedness, so that they might not suffer hurt in attempting the same things again. And yet their words were full of much respect, for they both called Him Master, and bore witness to His truth, and that He was no respecter of persons; but being God, He was deceived by none of these things. Wherefore they also ought to have conjectured, that the rebuke was not the result of conjecture, but a sign of His knowing their secret thoughts.
[2.] He stopped not, however, at the rebuke, although it was enough merely to have convicted them of their purpose, and to have put them to shame for their wickedness; but He stoppeth not at this, but in another way closes their mouths; for, Shew Me, saith He, the tribute money. And when they had shewn it; as He ever doth, by their tongue He brings out the decision, and causes them to decide, that it is lawful;
Things of Cæsar and things of God.
which was a clear and plain victory. So that, when He MATT. asks, not from ignorance doth He ask, but because it is His. will to cause them to be bound by their own answers. For when, on being asked, Whose is the image? they said, v.20.21. Cæsar's; He saith, Render unto Cæsar the things that are Cæsar's. For this is not to give but to render, and this He shews both by the image, and by the superscription.
Then that they might not say, Thou art subjecting us to men, He added, And unto God the things that are God's. For it is possible both to fulfil to men their claims, and to give unto God the things that are due to God from us. Wherefore Paul also saith', Render unto all their dues; 1 Rom. tribute to whom tribute is due, custom to whom custom, 13, 7. fear to whom fear.
But thou, when thou hearest, Render unto Cæsar the things which are Cæsar's, know that He is speaking only of those things, which are no detriment to godliness; since if it be any such thing as this, such a thing is no longer Cæsar's tribute, but the devil's.
When they heard these things, their mouths were stopped, and they marvelled at His wisdom. Ought they not then to have believed, ought they not to have been amazed. For indeed, He gave them proof of His Godhead, by revealing the secrets of their hearts, and with gentleness did He silence them.
What then? did they believe? By no means, but they left Him, and went their way; and after them, came to v.22.23. Him the Sadducees.
O folly! When the others had been put to silence, these made the attack, when they ought to have been the more backward. But such is the nature of rashness, shameless, and importunate, and attempting things impossible. Therefore the Evangelist also, amazed at their folly, signified this very thing, by saying, On that day came to Him. On that v. 23. day. On what day? In which He had convicted their craftiness, and put them to shame.
But who are these? A sect of the Jews different from the said, that there
Pharisees, and much worse than they, who is no resurrection, nor angel, nor spirit. For these were 2Acts23, some of a grosser sort, and eager after the things of the body."