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A Sermon on Taxation.
Preached by the Rev. C. W. Light at the Anglican Church, Sunday last.
Text, I Peter II, 13 and 14.—“Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake, whether it be for the King, as supreme; or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punish- ment of evildoers and for the praise of them
that do well.”
We have been reminded during the last few days that history repeats itself, and I wish to put before you a repetition which unfortunately has escaped the notice of those who during the last few days have caused some stir in the community. In the first half of the first century, A.D, there was a society formed of which one of the leading features was Brotherhood. This society which grew very quickly claimed no particular country as its own—it was a world-wide society. Some of its members, feeling that the government of the great empire in which they lived did not quite repre- sent their views, refused to pay taxes and one of their leaders—an agitator, he was called by his enemies—wrote to these resisters in this strain—“Let
every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God; the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall re-
ceive to themselves condemnation.
For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? Do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: For he is a minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the
minister of God, a revenger to exe- cute wrath upon him that doeth evil. Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for con-
science sake. For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God's ministers, attending upon this very thing. Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due;
custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.”
Now it is not right to bring politics into the church and I do not intend to do so. But there are occasions when we have to consider what is our duty as Christians in public affairs. Our Lord had to face this question; St. Paul found it necessary to put the Romans in mind of what was due from them to the government of the country in which they lived, and St. Peter also had to instruct the early Christians on their duty as citizens of the Roman Empire. So, too, must I at this time review the Christian conception of government and what is our resultant duty. ...............The condition of governing is simply that it is in accordance with the scheme of God for the benefit of mankind.
Now some people think that words like these refer only to a government
which is Christian, But that is not
so! Those words (quoted above)
refer to the Roman Government
which was pagan in almost every way —the only way in which it was not Pagan was in its sense of justice and the Roman codo of laws has been the foundation of justice ever since. If such words could be used of a heathen
government which was persecuting Christianity, how much more does it apply to-day! The form of govern- ment we have to-day—whatever party is in power makes no essential differ- ence—is a Christian one, and one which is the outcome of 2,000 years of Christianity. If the Roman Government could be considered to be ordained of God for the preservation of social order and the material welfare of the peoples in its charge, how much more must our own form of government be ordained of God! Two errors have been based on that passage of Scripture. The first is the Divine Right of Kings whereby in times past they have claimed that any actions of theirs are right because they are “ordained of God,” and all power is theirs by Divine Right. But it must be remembered that being
God's earthly representative demands obedience to God's laws and when a king or government disobeys the laws of God in governing the people, the "powers that be" cease to be "ordained of God." The moral Law of God is
the standard to which all Governments must bow. The second error is that
of passive obedience to the government
no matter what the government or- dains. There are occasions when it is
not against the Law of God to resist the government. Here again the standard must be the Law of God, If the action of the government does not represent God's Law, passive resistance is permissible, though, of course, not always wise. We have an example of such resistance in our own times. A few years ago Parliament passed an Act legalising marriage with
a deceased wife's sister. The Church considers it contrary to God's Law and refuses to marry such cases. These two extremes of Divine Right and passive obedience are
therefore to be avoided and it leaves
Christians in the position of judging the actions of a government by the
standard of the Law of God.
The question then arises is the f«et that the citizens of the Northern Teiritory are not franchised against the moral law of God? And no one can say that it is, There is no doubt but that the franchise would be acceptable to everyone in tbe Territory, and that what has heen recognised as a principle
in the British constitution should be extended to this part of the empire. But it is not a question of moral right and wrong that the Government should be resisted on the point. It is purely a political question as to what is a desirable form of government. It is against God's Law to resist the Govt. because there is no franchise in the Territory. And particularly is it against the Law of God to refuse to refuse to pay taxes. Our Lord was
asked wheiher it was lawful in the
eyes of God to pay taxes to Cæsar and He replied "Render unto Cæsar the things that are Cæsar's, and unto God the things that are God's." To use the coinage current in a country is tanta- mount to recognising the Government which issues the coinage, and by the
word "render " which our Lord used
He meant that to pay taxes was an absolute duty of a citizen to the State. It is a great pity that such hysterical and inflammatory speeches were uttered as were poured into the ears of the people of Darwin last night. Many people can be carried off their feet by impassioned utterances and regietful happenings result. Apart from any political feeling whatever, our Christian duty is to pay our dues to the Government of our country and
to avoid lawlessness and disorder.