"Whose image?"

The way in which the great Teacher so wisely parried the subtle attempt to entrap him with the question, "Is it lawful to give tribute unto Cæsar, or not?" should commend itself to Christian Scientists when they are in doubt as to the rightness of any demand made upon them. We are told that Jesus took a penny and asked his questioners, "Whose image and superscription hath it?" When they answered him that the image was Cæsar's, he said that they should render unto Cæsar the things that are his, and "unto God the things that are God's." In this case superhuman wisdom quickly met a carefully planned attempt to show that Jesus' teachings were subversive of law and order. The question of paying tribute to Cæsar was easily disposed of by the Master, since the representatives of a materialistic sense of religion shrank from meeting the larger one of rendering unto God the things that are His.

At that time the Roman power, represented by Cæsar, stood for the highest existing form of human government, and it was uniformly successful in proportion to the justice and impartiality with which it ruled. Its weakness was the weakness of all merely human governments,—worldly policy was allowed to outweigh the question of absolute right; as when the Nazarene Prophet was condemned to death, in order to placate an envious priesthood which was discredited by the people on account of Jesus' marvelous teaching and even more marvelous works.

The question, "Whose is this image and superscription?" may well be asked by the Christian Scientist when some demand is made which involves a doubt as to its rightness or authority. Whatever the answer, there can be no evasion of duty by him, for he has learned that by rendering unto God the things that are His, he of necessity fulfils all the obligations of good citizenship, not the least of which is the maintenance of a sound moral sentiment. That which would be subversive of universal right and justice can hardly be said to have even the authority of Cæsar, for human governments at least claim to represent justice, whose demands must be enforced in spite of the blindness of prejudice and injustice, which must ever shrink into darkness when the challenge is given, Whose superscription is this?

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Unconscious Ministry
March 24, 1906

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