« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »
Still, granting that Christ's Church, as being a temporal power, does necessarily interfere in the concerns of this world, still is the Church not of this world, because she does not use the instruments of this world. For instance: Are there not many alterations going on in civil and political matters now, of which the Gospel is the author altogether; which nevertheless no one would feel an infringement of the spiritual nature of its kingdom? If then it may alter or modify the states of this world in one respect, it may do so in another. Who can deny that the treatment of prisoners has been much improved by Christianity? Who can deny tha the laws for the poor are considerably influenced by its precepts ? Take, again, the case of duelling: Does not the voice of Christian feeling among us support the law of the land in a special way, in denouncing it as a sin, in spite of most specious arguments in its favour? or rather, as far as it is discountenanced, is it not discountenanced, not by the power of the law, though the law is against it, but by an influence issuing now, as five hundred years ago, from the Church? Or, to come to a more apposite instance,—what greater revolution has there been in society, than the liberation of slaves ? a revolution which is going on even now, as in times past. This has been owing to the Kingdom of the Saints. It has ever exalted those of low degree. It has changed the structure or the body politic all through Christendom. Is it a greater revolution that it should tend to humble the great, than that it should raise the low? or, rather, are not both achievements predicted as prerogatives of Him who is the glorious
Lord and King of the new kingdom? “He hath showed strength with His arm; He hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their bearts. He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree'.” So it was of old time; so it is now: whenever the Kingdom of the Most High fulfils its mission, the mighty bow down, and the despised are exalted.
And, moreover, we see from this instance of the abolition of slavery, as in the other instances I mentioned, how the Church conquers—not by force, but by persuasion. It is written, “Thy people shall be willing in the day of Thy power ?;" and so it is fulfilled. And hence in the prophecies of the book of Isaiah the willingness of the kings of the earth to humble themselves to the Church, is noted as a special characteristic of the spread of the Church. They are overcome by the beauty of holiness, and they yield freely. “Lift up thine eyes round about, and behold: all these gather themselves together, and come to thee." « The Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising.” “The isles shall wait for Me, and the ships of Tarshish first, to bring thy sons from far, their silver and their gold with them. . . . Thy gates shall be open continually, ... that men may bring unto thee the forces of the Gentiles, and that their kings may be brought." It is by influence only that the Church reigns, or by what is sometimes called opinion. Kings and states still have the power of the sword, and
i Luke i. 51, 52.
2 Ps. cx. 3.
they only. They must still be obeyed by the Church, if they prefer to command and rule over her, to honouring her. They must be obeyed, and they will come to nought. She must leave her cause to God, who has promised to avenge it on every proud kingdom and nation. For herself, she has no arms, but peace, quietness, cheerfulness, resignation, and love. “Being reviled, she blesses ; being persecuted, she suffers it; being defamed, she intreats;" she does not defend herself: like her Master, she does not "cry in the streets, or strive;" but she prevails, because God fights for her.
Lastly. If the Kingdom of Christ be what this view, drawn from the prophecies, represents it, you will say a very heavy responsibility lies upon those parties at present, civil or religious, who withstand that heavenly Kingdom, and a miserable destiny lies before them. You will say that it follows that such men of power or influence as insult the Church, and such professors of religion as speak against her, are in very great peril. I do not wish to undervalue their perilous condition, in charity to them. But I will observe this one thing, that it is very different to resist the Kingdom of Christ when it was at unity with itself, and now, when it is broken up into sections. Christ said, that whoso spake against Himself should be forgiven; but whoso spake against the Spirit should not be forgiven. I hope it is not presumptuous to say, that to many of us the Kingdom of the Saints comes, or before now has come, not in demonstration of the Spirit, but as Christ was in His Passion, broken, defaced, with its glory hidden,
and its power more or less suspended. And as then our Saviour, as if in fulfilment of His promise that His own persecutors should receive pardon, prayed for them on the Cross; so I trust now, without intruding into things unseen, we may hope that whatever hard things some among us speak or have spoken against that Heavenly Stranger which sojourns on the earth, yet, considering how she is disfigured and deformed by strife and calamity, Christ says for us continually, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do."
Condition of the members of the Christian
“Lord, Thou hast heard the desire of the poor ; Thou preparest their
heart, and Thine ear hearkeneth thereto ; to help the fatherless and poor unto their right, that the man of the earth be no more exalted against them.”—Ps. X. 19, 20.
THE book of Psalms has ever been one main portion
of the devotions of the Christian Church, in public and in private, since that Church was. In the east and west, north and south, in quiet times, in troubled times, in the rise, and now in the decline, of the Kingdom of the Saints, the inspired words of the Prophets of Israel have been in the mouth of the children of grace. In consequence, it is natural to suppose that the Psalter has a Christian meaning. Since it has held its place at all times, it surely has a sense for all times. Since we especially use it, this surely must be because to us it is especially useful. Some free-thinkers have said, What is the book to us, relating, as it does, the history and expressing the feelings of a people who lived two or three thousand years ago? I grant it: if the book of