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THE KINGDOM OF GOD, OR THE DIVINE LAW OF LOVE
THE glorious period of Old Testament Hebrew life was the kingdom of all Israel. The theme of Jesus' parables
"the kingdom of heaven.” The ideal before the writers of the Epistles was a holy society or brotherhood over which God is Father and King. The two most fundamental and universal forms of earthly society are the family and the State. By these social institutions God has taught mankind.
They are beautifully united in this ideal of a perfect society of the redeemed : “So then ye are no more strangers and sojourners, but ye are fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household of God, being built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the chief corner-stone ; in whom each several building, fitly framed together, groweth into a holy temple in the Lord ; in whom ye also are builded together for a habitation of God in the Spirit” (Eph. 2 : 19–22). The appearing of Christ as Lord will consummate this society of love. • The Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men ;. .. to the end he may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints” (1 Thess. 3 : 12, 13). The end of our calling is to bring us “ into his own kingdom and glory' (1 Thess. 2 : 12 ; Rom. 5 : 2). The salvation of Christ culminates in a perfect social state in which all the holy in heaven and earth are spiritually united : “Ye are come unto Mount Zion, and unto the city of the living God, the
heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable hosts of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, and to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant” (Heb. 12 : 22–24).
In these representations the Epistles teach nothing absolutely new, but they unfold in many directions the older principles of the kingdom.
In the Old Testament we find this summary of piety : “ He hath showed thee, O man, what is good ; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God ?” (Micah 6:8; cf. Deut. 10 : 12; I Sam. 15:22; Hosea 6 : 6). The summary of Jesus is found in Matt. 22 : 37; Mark 12 : 30; Luke 10 : 27 ; John 15 : 12. Paul's summary is in Rom. 13 : 8–14; 1 Cor. 13 ; Gal. 5:14; 1 Cor.' 16 : 14. Peter's conclusion is i Peter 1:16, 17 ; 2 Peter 1: 5-7. James tells us his conception of a true worship in James 1 : 27 ; 2:8.
John condenses all his teaching in i John 4:7–12. Thus we see the unity of the entire revelation and the intense practical spirit which pervades it. Every part tends directly to promote social goodness and blessedness, to unite men in the bonds of justice and charity.
The final and universal social unity is in Christ : "That in the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven and things on earth and things under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phil. 2 : 10, 11; cf. i Cor. 15 : 28 ; 3 : 23).
The doctrine of a social body whose members are vitally connected, whose interests are one, and whose bond is righteousness and love is taught most clearly and impressively in i Cor. 12 : 12–30 ; and Rom. 12 : 4-9 ; Eph. 5: 30 ; Col. 1:18; 1 Peter 4:11. * As we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office : so
we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and severally members one of another." " The members should have the same care one for another. And whether one member suffereth, all the members suffer with it; or one member is honoured, all the members rejoice with it."
Duties grow out of our special social relations, and the consciousness of belonging to the great body of Christ's people is a motive to virtue, since what we do affects all. This obligation takes a special form in respect to those who love the Lord Christ. To them belongs “ love of the brethren,” that complacent love which delights in their character and ways. But we must not think of ourselves as cut off from moral relations to other people. It is of the essence of Christian morality as compared with pagan and ancient ethics that the Christian feels himself bound to love and do good to all men. The church is not a closed circle but an ever-widening society intended by Christ to include all mankind as rapidly as they are willing to enter the kingdom of God.
Paul said: "I am a debtor both to Greeks and to Barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish” (Rom. 1 : 14). He shows that moral obligations cover the needs of outsiders, of all men (Rom. 12 :17-21). “I please all men in all things, not seeking mine own profit, but the profit of the many, that they may be saved (1 Cor. 10 : 33). Out of the love principle, which is divine (1 John 4 : 8), all particular virtues flow. In i Cor. 13 we see the budding and blossoming of all graces from this our stock. Love is charity to the poor and more than any material gift ; it is self-renunciation ; it is a true socialism as distinguished from all antisocial impulses ; it is kind and patient; it casts out envy and insolent pride ; it observes the nice proprieties which render social intercourse agreeable ; it is not self-seeking nor easily driven to rage ;
is free from censoriousness and quick to discern good even in rivals ; rejoiceth with the truth, and
is not ductile and pliable under temptations; is gentle but firm ; will deny self but never deny the truth. With such a character, in company with faith and hope, love abides, an eternal force. All virtues can be drawn out of love.
The primal duties shine aloft, like stars ;
In the ground already traversed we have seen the teaching of the Epistles : (1) in respect to the authentic and inspired record of the law of the kingdom of God—the sacred Scriptures ; (2) the essential character and nature of God—the founder and ruler of the kingdom ; (3) men, the subjects of the kingdom, and their sin ; (4) salvation, or restoration to right relations to the king ; (5) the church, the chief earthly institution by which the kingdom is promoted ; (6) the issues of the acceptance or rejection of the laws of the kingdom and its salvation. We now turn to see how these teachings are applied to the various relations of social life, while the kingdom of God is growing in the world.
Under the divine constitution of man human beings can fulfill their mission here and advance to the most complete manhood only by means of (1) material resources, (2) domestic life, (3) the protection of government, (4) the institutions and arrangements for sociability, education, culture, and (5) the institutions of religion. Such institutions, therefore, are part of the order established by the Founder of the kingdom of heaven. These “moral partnerships '' are not mere devices of men, but they are providential gifts. They are all liable to perversion by sin, and all
capable of being made the means of promoting health, power, holiness, usefulness, happiness. We need to understand these relations. God teaches us by experience, by history, by our own moral nature, by the social sciences, by the principles of the sacred writings. In this manual we are to notice simply those teachings on these subjects which are found in the Epistles.
Section 1. The teaching of the Epistles on Industrial Social Relations.
1. Productive Labor. The fact that Paul used precious, and sacred time during his eager and active ministry to earn his living by manual labor at tent-making is startling and significant. It teaches manliness, devotion, independence, and unselfishness. It is an inspired estimate of the dignity of useful labor. Jesus the Master had spent most of the years of his life, when every hour was worth a world of gold, at carpenter work. These actions weigh more than all eloquent eulogies of the "dignity of industry," and they prove that lofty thinking, deep spirituality, and wider service are consistent with manual labor. It was while he was yet a cobbler that Carey became a scholar and worked out the vast modern missionary dream of world conquest.
The earth yields food and supplies, shelter and clothing, only in response to work. Every human being, rich and poor, consumes the results of toil. If one does not work with hand or brain he lives at the expense of those who do produce. The Epistles teach that this unsocial vice of unfruitfulness is sin. This we commanded you, If any will not work, neither let him eat." Those who were
busybodies,” not working at all, he exhorts “in the Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread" (2 Thess. 3:11, 12 ; cf. 1 Thess. 4 : 10–12).
We should not feed the able-bodied poor without requiring of them useful work in return. The heirs of riches are not exempt from this moral law. If they are not compelled