Sivut kuvina
PDF
ePub
[blocks in formation]
[ocr errors]

6

[ocr errors]

pests in the vale below; so always The question is not instantly that this prospect be with pity, and answered; but having ascertained not with swelling or pride."

that Pilate is examining Him upon To the intelligent Nonconformist

the accusation of the Jews, and

upon this vantage-ground just now pre

nothing he has himself heard or eminently belongs.

known of Him, He replies that He

is indeed a King, but that His kingThe sea of politics is mostly a troubled sea, and the ships ventur

dom is not of this world. As though

He had said, “I cannot, will not ing upon it must ever be prepared disown my kingly right and power ; for tempests and storms; but at the

even though confronted with death present time there are upon it ships

I must still maintain my kingly prethat were never built for those seas, and which, therefore, are tossed with

tensions : *I am king of the Jews.'

But no existing throne is imperilled unaccustomed severity and threatened

by these pretensions. Cæsar has in with shipwreck the most disastrous. The air, too, is full of the noise of

me no rival, human governments in conflict and the din of arms; but

me no foe. “My kingdom is not of

this world. It rests on no human among the many cries I hear, the loudest and the hoarsest is the cry

foundations--it attempts no political

dominion-it breathes no mundane which into political conflict should

spirit. Not in any sense similar, it never have been imported—the cry

can be in no sense antagonistic to of “the church." And well for us,

the kingdom of Cæsar, or the kingI say, as Nonconformists, if we have

doms of the world. My kingdom our feet firmly planted on the solid

is not of this world.”” shore, or on the defenced height, so

The words thus interpreted have that with pity, but not with fear, with humility, but not with distress, questions of the day; and while we

most important bearings upon the we can behold the lashing of the main and hear the din of conflict.

can far more rely upon the broad To this vantage-ground I deem we

and conspicuous principles of the

New Testament for our views of are called by our Lord's important

what Christ's church should be, than and emphatic words, "My kingdom

upon solitary and disjointed texts of is not of this world.”

Scripture, yet by the light of these These words were uttered by our words we cannot fail to behold corLord in his defence before Pilate.

ruptions and evils we shall charitably He was accused by the Jews as

but firmly expose, while, at the same guilty of “ perverting the nation,”

time, we attempt to lead where forbidding to give tribute to Cæsar," calmly may be seen the tossing of -“ saying that He Himself is Christ

the ships ecclesiastic, and heard a king.” In other words, they without alarm the rallying cries of indict him as a pretender, so far as the combatants below. the Jews are concerned, to the authority and rule of Cæsar, and I. If Christ's kingdom is not of accuse him with the intent of setting

this world, then it is evidently disup rival kingdom and a rival throne similar to the kingdoms of this world. to that of Rome.

His kingdom is not of this world, Pilate, though evidently disposed being altogether unlike the kingdoms to treat the charge as paltry and of the world. And how unlike these malicious, yields so far as to examine kingdoms ? Because (such is His Him upon it, and calling Him apart reply) these kingdoms are the manisaith to Him, “ Art thou the king festations and expressions of mateof the Jews ?"

nial power, force, conquest; but His

66

а

a

66

kingdom is the kingdom of truth. 1. That the sphere of Christ's “I AM KING,” saith Christ; and kingdom is wlolly different from the then to define what His kingliness, sphere of worldly kingdoms. His royalty means, He adds, " To They fill distinct and separate this end was I born, and for this spheres-worldly kingdoms seeking purpose I came into the world, that I

man's worldly interests, but Christ's should bear witness to the truth. Every kingdom those interests which are one that is of the truth heareth my spiritual and eternal. Nor can these voice." As though He had said, kingdoms possibly exchange places ; • Royalty, indeed, I assume; a king- they cannot possibly displace or overdom, indeed, I claim; but not upon lap each other. Christ has supremacy the ground I might prefer—that of over conscience and heart; Cæsar my eternal authority and power

has only supremacy over outward nor upon the ground of my lineal

actions. Cæsar may say, Thou shalt descent according to the flesh, from do; but only Christ can say, Thou David; but I prefer my claim to shalt love. royalty and dominion upon the

And it as obviously follows ground that “I am the truth,' and bear witness to that truth even by

2. That Christ's kingdom and the shedding of my blood. That

the kingdoms of the world are distruth, thus certified and published

similar in their construints. and glorified, must live and reign.

Force may produce actions, but It shall gather together in one grand only love can produce love. The fraternity, in one blessed kingdom, sword may establish and conserve all to whom it has attractiveness human governments, but only the and power.

Over them I will reign loving influences of the gospel and and rule by the power of that truth: the Spirit can establish and promote mine is the kingdom of truth, and the kingdom of Christ. By the every one that is born of the truth nature of the kingdom must be belongs to my kingdom. Because I determined the nature of its rule: am the Truth I am the King."

the sword of temporal power for the I wish not to demean other king. magistrate, but only the sword of

I doms while I glorify the kingdom of the Spirit for the ministers of Christ. Jesus Christ. But even Pilate was

But enough for the present of constrained to bear witness to the New Testament principles : what is dissimilarity of Christ's idea to the the testimony of New Testament idea of every earthly king. Most facts ? The very same.

Christ's likely be thought Him some romantic kingdom was founded by no other dreamer, some philosophic votary,

force than this the force of His more dangerous to Himself than to truth, the converting force of His Cæsar. What is truth?asked he, Holy Spirit. Not at any time did indifferently and sceptically. Who He countenance the mighty things can find out the pearl, even after the of this world, but the feeble and the most diligent searching; and of what foolish. From their nets and fishpractical use is it, even if found ? ing boats He called the founders of Kingdoms, he would say, rest not His kingdom. He put into their upon truth, but upon material power, hands no sword, no power to tithe and he is only an empty dreamer who or tax, to constrain or to compel, talks of truth in such a connection. “But gave them truth to build on, and the sound “What is truth?' said jesting Pilate,

Was inighty on their lips, nor needed they

Beside the Gospel other spear or shield and would not stay for an answer.” To aid them in their warfare for the faith.”

And from this there are two most It is truly much to say, but not obvious inferences.

more than facts authorize and sus

[blocks in formation]
[ocr errors]

tain, that only as the kingdom of of religion, and by these alone the Christ has maintained this its original battles of our faith are to be successcharacteristic, and used no weapons fully fought.' but those spiritual weapons which are mighty in the pulling down of strong

II. If Christ's kingdom is not of hoids, has that kingdom triumphed this world, then it is not antagonistic and prevailed.

No after success has to the kingdoms of this world. ever been in proportion to the suc

This conviction Christ so fully cess it achieved during its first three hundred years, when, instead of

forced upon the mind of Pilate that

he went forth to the Jews to say, pushing its way by the power of the temporal sword, it pushed its way in

I find no fault at all in him." positive defiance of that sword, and

Christ asserted, and Pilate believed instead of being the creature of state

the assertion, that His royalty

threatened not the royalty of Cæsar, patronage and support, it actually had to confront a second Gethsemane

and that His kingdom had no hosand a second Golgotha. The church tility to that of Rome. has done much since then, but never

And upon this ground Christ much save by the might of her faith

claimed and still claims the right of and the intensity of her devotion to

a separate and distinct existence for her King. Yes: “when single His kingdom. It fills another dohanded Truth walked the land, she main, it contemplates other ends -walked with the might and prowess

than those proposed by worldly and of a conqueror: but no sooner was

temporal empires.

It will leave she propped up by the authority of

them fully their rightful spheres and the state than her brilliant career

flourish stiil. So long as they rewas for ever ended. When she took

frain from tyranny, injustice, and up the carnal and laid down the unrighteousness; so long as they are spiritual weapon, her strength went

for a terror to evil doers, and a out of her; she was struck with praise to them that do well,” it impotency.”

throws over them its overshadowing And the key to all this is the

wings, and in the name of the Most

High bids them prosper. simple principle I have laid down

. that spiritual truth is never promoted

Truly, it has frequently clashed but by spiritual weapons. Decrees of and contended with other kingdoms, councils and synods and convoca- but in every case because they have tions, parliamentary enactments, usurped its functions, never because royal supremacy, taxes, the sword of it has usurped theirs. For when the civil magistrate, the wealth and they have claimed authority over patronage of the state, – these are consciences and souls, they have inthe fetters, sometimes of iron, some

vaded the functions of Christ's kingtimes of gold, restraining the flight dom, and not one of “ His crownof the mighty angel in the midst of rights” can ever be relinquished, heaven. “ How do the apostles ac

even though in its defence oceans of count for their triumphs in pulling blood be shed. down the strongholds? They tell But if persecution by the state has us it is because the weapons of their fettered the liberties of Christ's kingwarfare are 'not carnal but spiritual.' dom, state patronage has fettered her The kingdom of God refuses to be liberties still more. For, fifteen cenindebted for its advancement to any turies ago the state learnt that there other.

Reason, scripture, prayer, is more to be gained by the alliance ought to comprise the whole armoury

of the church than lost through her

6

[ocr errors]

imagined hostility. Consequently, origin. By virtue of that divinity, the fetters of iron were exchanged therefore, He both claims for, and for the fetters of gold; instead of insures to, His kingdom unfettered being cast into dungeons, Chris- dominion and complete ascendancy. tianity was made sharer of the Now I can well believe that, to throne; instead of the stake, there many minds, a state establishment is was the seat of honour for the Naza- the very embodiment of this idea, rene! A powerful priesthood! What and that multitudes sincerely believe state could not make this an engine that by the union of the kingdom of of terror? A religion so mighty- Christ with (say) the kingdom of how much mightier the state with these realms, the dominion and assuch an ally! And thus, more or cendancy of Christ's kingdom are less, for upwards of fifteen centuries, promoted and maintained. With all has this union subsisted; perhaps, tolerance and charity, however, we in some cases, to the advantage of are compelled to maintain precisely civil governments, of magistracies, the contrary idea. The statement but in every case to the detriment

may not pass unchallenged, but it is and disadvantage of pure, spiritual made deliberately, and we are prereligion.

pared to maintain it, that nothing has Well: whether the interference more interfered with and forbidden be friendly or unfriendly, be it by the dominion and ascendancy of persecution or by patronage; whether Christ's kingdom than the so-called Christ's kingdom be loaded with the patronage and support which that iron fetters of hostility or the golden kingdom has received from the king. fetters of favour; equally is the in

doms of the world. terference obnoxious to Christ, and

There are but two conditions upon opposed to His declaral, “ My king- which the union of Christ's kingdom is not of this world.” There is

dom with earthly kingdoms, or the little difference: patronage is as bad

union of the church with the state, as persecution, indeed worse for the is possible. Either the spiritual elechurch's life ; for while patronage ments of the church must be accepted has emasculated the church and by the state, or the carnal elements drained it of its power, in persecu

of the state must be accepted by the tion it has ever been seen that “ the church ; either the church must deblood of the martyrs is the seed of

scend to the level of the state, or the the church.” I say again, the church

state must be raised to the level of neither welcomes the kisses nor the

the church ; either the church must stripes of the state. But she claims symbolize with the state, or the state unfettered action, She wants the must symbolize with the church. freedom wherewith Christ first made Now, let the first of these condiher free; then, both from the chains tions be fulfilled, let the spiritual of persecution and the chains of elements of the church thoroughly patronage, loose her and let her go." permeate the state, let the state

throughout be lifted to the level of III. If Christ's kingdom is not of

the church; then a national church this world, it certainly refuses to be

becomes no longer unscriptural, but held in subjection to the kingdoms of in absolute accordance with the glowthis world.

ing strains of prophecy and the holy

longings of Christ the Lord. Not expressly, but yet by implica- Only, let it be remembered that tion, did Christ tell Pilate that His such a national church, the church, kingdom was of divine authority and indeed, of the millennium ! will not

[ocr errors]
[blocks in formation]

be formed upon the model of any temporal subjection, and then by her national church now existent; that, temporal sovereignty. Would to unlike any attempted or professed God there were some kind oblivion embodiment of its idea, it will be in which for ever to inter these spiritual, united, aggressive, and free,

o dark ages!” and only the church of a kingdom Would, too, that the church's because in the highest and noblest humiliation were ended and com-, sense that kingdom has become the plete! But ended that humiliation kingdom of our God and of His is not, nor can be so long as the Christ.

spiritual is subjected to the temporal, Brethren, we one and all are here or the kingdom of Christ subjected agreed that this condition has yet to to the kingdoms of the world. be fulfilled! May God hasten the For by religious establishments reli. time of its fulfilment, for our soulsgion is secularized, the church becomes are weary with waiting and watching a political engine, the kingdom of for kings to be nursing fathers and Christ is absorbed into the civil governqueens to be nursing mothers to the ment, and the temporal king displaces church, and for the rich among the the spiritual king - the Lord Jesus people to entreat her favour! Oh! Christ. for the great voices in heaven and Are these assertions extravagant? earth exclaiming, "Hallelujah! Hal- Let facts again testify. The Establelujah! the kingdoms of this world lished Church of these realms is, or are become the kingdom of our God is held to be, both by friends and and of His Christ."

foes, the most perfect embodiment But, in the absence of this con- existent of a national religion. Yet dition, there remains but the other I is not religion secularized when the have mentioned : for if the union of

supremacy of that church resides in the church with the state has not the temporal monarch, be he base spiritualized the state, then the union and licentious, as Henry VIII, or of the church with the state has car- Charles II.? Is not religion secunalized the church! No other theory larized when Parliament, however can possibly account for the mutual corrupt and ungodly, determines the satisfaction of both parties concerned nation's spiritual belief and spiritual with that contract, and facts abun- practice ? Can religion be otherwise dantly prove the theory to be true. than secularized when no guarantee

For, can the largest charity ac- is given for the piety of the clergy ; knowledge anything more than the when bishops and archbishops are nominal Christianity of the first-80- less spiritual pastors than temporal called Christian-Emperor, Constan- lords and peers; when the patronage tine? Or are any prepared to affirm of livings and sees is in the hands of his patronage of Christianity to be at a corrupt aristocracy and Premiers all better than a stroke of astute of all faiths, or of no faith at all ? policy? Thus dictated, the union And, under such a system, can we could have but one result - the marvel at what we see? I mean humiliation and corruption of the the visible membership of the church church. Better for her fresh tides shorn of its spirituality and sigof persecution than the sinister influ: nificance-religious profession, but ences of such an alliance.

nominal and formal-ministers, by Time would fail me even to outline the hundred, at the altar, confessedly the growing degeneracy, and humilia- unconsecrated to Christ--the simtion, and impotency of the church as plicity and purity of the gospel everyeffected, in the first instance, by her where impugned and contemned

« EdellinenJatka »