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it a field of exercise, trains it within sight of
perfection. There is something which this
person can do better than his fellows, and that
is his capital for future enterprise. Two pos-
sessions we shall carry with us into the unseen :
they are free of death, and inalienable — one is
character, the other is capacity. Is this capacity
to be consigned to idleness and wantonly
wasted? It were unreason: it were almost a
crime. How this or that gift can be utilised in
the other world is a vain question, and leads to
childish speculation. We do not know where
the unseen universe is, nor how it is constituted,


much less how it is ordered, but our reason may
safely conclude that the capacity which is
exercised under one form here will be exercised
under another yonder. ' It is surely a frivo-
lous notion,' says Isaac Taylor, 'that the vast
and intricate machinery of the universe, and
the profound scheme of God's government,
are now to reach a resting-place, where nothing
more shall remain to active spirits through an
eternity but recollections of labour, anthems of
praise, and inert repose.'

This uninviting Heaven owes its imagination
to two causes — the tradition of asceticism and
an abuse of the Apocalypse. Fantastic ideas of
religion, which were reared under monastic
glass, have been acclimatised in certain schools,
whose favoured doctrines have no analogy in
life, and whose cherished ideals make no appeal
to the heart. Sensible people agree that char-
acter is the pledge of goodness, and that work
is a condition of happiness, and that a sphere
where good men could do their work without
weariness in the light of God's face would be
an ideal heaven, but sensible people are apt to
be brow-beaten by traditions and to say what is
not real. Unfortunately a really preposterous


Paradise has been also credited with the glory
of St. John's new Jerusalem, which cometh
down ' from God ... as a bride adorned for
her husband,' whose foundations were ' gar-
nished with all manner of precious stones,' whose
street was ' pure gold, as it were transparent
glass.' This is the vision of a Jewish mystic,
very splendid poetry to be read for the sound
and beauty thereof, and they are not to be
lightly forgiven who have reduced it to bathos
in certain pictures and books. St. John imag-
ined the kingdom of Jesus in its glory moving
like a stately harmony before the eyes of God,
and cast his imagination into the ancient
symbols of Jewish literature. He intended the
age of gold.

Any view of the future may be fairly tried by
this criterion — does it strengthen, gladden,
inspire us in the present? Whenever this
question is put, we turn to Jesus with His
doctrine of continuity. Where the traditional
forecast fails is in the absence of Hope. It
takes all purpose from our present effort, whose
hard-won gains in service are to be flung away.
It takes all opportunity from the future, which
is to be a state of practical inertia. It is the


depreciation of the market-place, the workshop,
the study ; it is the vindication of a Trappist
monastery. Where the forecast of Jesus tells
is in the spirit of Hope ; it invests the most
trivial or sordid details of this life with signifi-
cance, changing them into the elementary ex-
ercises of a great science ; it points to the
future as the heights of life to which we are
climbing out of this narrow valley. One of the
most pathetic sights in this life is to see a dying
man struggling to the last in his calling, putting
another touch to his unfinished picture, adding
another page to his half-written book. ' Art is
long; life is short* comes to our mind, but how
stands the case? If the monkish heaven be
true, then this foolish mortal had better be
done with art or letters, for they can have no
place in the land to which he hasteth. If Jesus*
heaven be true, then he is bound to gather the
last penny of interest on his talents, and make
himself fit for his new work. Jesus heartens
His followers by an assurance that not one hour
of labour, not one grain of attainment, not one
honest effort on to the moment when the tools
of earth drop from their hands, but will tell on
the after life. Again, one is tempted to quote


the sagacious Taylor : ' All the practical skill
we acquire in managing affairs, all the versatility,
the sagacity, the calculation of chances, the
patience and assiduity, the promptitude and
facility, as well as the highest virtues, which
we are learning every day, may well find scope
in a world such as is rationally anticipated
when we think of heaven as the stage of
life which is next to follow the discipline of

It follows upon Jesus* suggestion of the next
life, — the continuation of the present on a
higher level, — that it will be itself a continual
progress, and Jesus gives us frequent hints of
this law. When He referred to the many man-
sions in His Father's house. He may have been
intending rooms — places where those who had
been associated together on earth may be
gathered together ; but He may be rather in-
tending stations — stages in that long ascent of
life that shall extend through the ages of ages.
In the parable of the unjust steward Jesus uses
this expression in speaking of the future, * ever-
lasting tents.* It is at once a contradiction and
an explanation, for it combines the ideas of rest
and advance — a life of achievement, where the


tent is pitched, a life of possibilities, where it is
being for ever lifted.

* Will the future life be work.
Where the strong and the weak, this world's congeries,
Repeat in large what they practised in small.
Through life after life in unlimited series,
Only the scales be changed, that's all ?*

Does not this conception of the future solve
a very dark problem— the lives that have never
arrived. Beside the man whose gifts have been
laid out at usury and gained a splendid interest,
are others whose talents have been hid, not by
their own doing, but by Providence. They real-
ised their gift ; they cherished it ; they would
have used it ; but for them there was no
market. Providence, who gave them wings,
placed them in a cage. Round us on every side
are cramped, hindered, still-born lives — mer-
chants who should have been painters, clerks
who should have been poets, labourers who
should have been philosophers. Their talent is
known to a few friends ; they die, and the talent
is buried in their coffin. Jesus says No. It has
at last been sown for the harvest ; it will come
into the open and blossom in another land.
These also are being trained — trained by wait-


ing. They are the reserve of the race, kept be-
hind the hill till God requires it. They will get
their chance ; they will come into their kingdom,

* Where the days bury their golden suns
In the dear hopeful West,*

The continuity of life lifts the shadow also
from another mystery — the lives that have been
cut off in their prime. When one is richly en-
dowed and carefully trained, and has come to
the zenith of his power, his sudden removal
seems a reflection on the economy of God's
kingdom. Why call this man to the choir
celestirl when he is so much needed in active
service? According to Jesus, he has not sunk
into inaction, so much subtracted from the
forces of righteousness. He has gone where
the fetters of this body of humiliation and em-
barrassment of adverse circumstances shall be
no longer felt. We must not think of him as
withdrawn from the field ; we must imagine
him as in the van of battle. We must follow
him, our friend, with hope and a high heart.

• No, at noon-day, in the bustle of man's worktime,
Greet the unseen with a cheer ;

Bid him forward breast and back as either should be,
•* Strive and thrive," cry " speed, fight on, fare ever
There as here !" '




There are times when one wishes he had
never read the New Testament Scriptures —
that he might some day open St. Luke's Gos-
pel, and the most beautiful book in the world
might come upon his soul like sunrise. It is a
doubtful fortune to be born in Athens and
every day to see the Parthenon against the vio-
let sky : better to make a single pilgrimage and
carry for ever the vision of beauty in your
heart. Devout Christians must be haunted by
the fear that Jesus* sublime words may have
lost their heavenliness through our familiarity,
or that they may have been overlaid by our
conventional interpretations. This misgiving
is confirmed by the fact that from time to time
a fresh discovery is made in Jesus* teaching.
As a stranger, unfettered by tradition, will de-
tect in a private gallery some masterpiece gen-


erations have overlooked, so an unbiassed
mind will rescue from neglecting ages some
idea of the Master. Two finds have been made
within recent years : the Divine Fatherhood
and the Kingdom of God.

If any one will take the three Gospels and
read them with an open ear, he will be amazed
by the continual recurrence of this phrase, the
* Kingdom of God ' or ' Heaven.' Jesus is ever
preaching the Kingdom of God and explaining
it in parables and images of exquisite simplic-
ity. He exhorts men to make any sacrifice that
they may enter the Kingdom of God. He
warns certain that they must not look back lest
they should not be fit for the Kingdom of God.
He declares that it is not possible for others to
enter the Kingdom of God. He encourages
some one because he is not far from the King-
dom of God. He gives to His chief Apostle
the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven. He
rates the Pharisees because they shut up the
Kingdom of Heaven against men. He com-
forts the poor because theirs is the Kingdom
of Heaven ; and He invites the nations to sit
down with Abraham in the Kingdom of
Heaven. The Kingdom was in His thought


the chiefest good of the soul and the hope of
the world.

' One far-ofif divine event
To which the whole creation moves.*

Every prophet of the first order has his own
message and it crystalises into a favourite idea.
With Moses the ruling idea was law ; with
Confucius, it was morality ; with Buddha, it
was Renunciation ; with Mohammed, it was
God ; with Socrates, it was the Soul. With
the Master, it was the Kingdom of God. The
idea owed its origin to the Theocracy, its in-
spiration to Isaiah, its form to Daniel, its popu-
larity to John Baptist. When the forerunner's
voice was stifled in the dungeon of Herod,
Jesus caught up his word and preached the
Utopia of John with a wider vision and
sweeter note. The hereditary dream of the
Jew passed through the soul of Jesus and was
transformed. The local widened into the uni-
versal ; the material was raised to the spiritual.
A Jewish state with Jerusalem for its capital,
and a greater David for its king, changed at
the touch of Jesus into a moral kingdom whose
throne should be in the heart and its borders
conterminous with the race. The largeness of


Jesus* mind is its glory and its misfortune.
The magnificent conception was refused by his
countrymen because their God was a national
Deity ; it has been too often reduced by His
disciples because they have no horizon. They
have been apt to think that Christianity is an
extremely clever scheme by which a limited
number of souls will secure Heaven — a rocket
apparatus for a shipwrecked crew. Perhaps
therefore outside people should be excused for
speaking of Christianity as a system of the
higher selfishness, because they have some
grounds for their misunderstanding. Every
one ought to read Jesus* own words, and he
would find that Jesus did not live and die to
afford select Pharisees an immunity from the
burden of their fellow-men, but to found a
Kingdom that would be the salvation of the

It has been a calamity that for long Christians
paid hardly any attention to the idea of the
Kingdom of Jesus on which He was always in-
sisting, and gave their whole mind to the en-
tirely different idea of the Church, which Jesus
only mentioned once with intention in a pas-
sage of immense difficulty. The Kingdom-


idea flourishes in every corner of the three
Gospels, and languishes in the Acts and Epis-
tles, while the Church-idea is practically non-
existent in Jesus' sermons, but saturates the
letters of St. Paul. This means that the idea
which unites has been forgotten, the idea which
separates has been magnified. With all respect
to the great Apostle, one may be allowed to ex-
press his regret that St. Paul had not said less
about the Church and more about the King-
dom. One gratefully acknowledges the charm
of St. Paul's own mystical idea of the Church,
one also knows why the Church has a stronger
fascination for the ordinary religious person
than the Kingdom. With him the Church is a
visible and exclusive institution which men can
manage and use. The Kingdom is a spiritual
and inclusive society whose members are se-
lected by natural fitness and which is beyond
human control. One must affirm this or that
to be a member of the Church ; one must be
something to be a part of the Kingdom of God.
Every person who is like Christ in character, or
is of His mind, is included in the Kingdom.
No natural reading of Church can include
Plato: no natural reading of Kingdom can


exclude him. The effect of the two institu-
tions upon the world is a contrast. The char-
acteristic product of the Church is ecclesiastics;
the characteristic product of the Kingdom is

Jesus' Kingdom commends itself to the
imagination because it is to come, when God's
will is done on earth as it is done in heaven — it
is the Kingdom of the Beatitudes. It com-
mends itself to the reason because it has come
wherever any one is attempting God's will — it
is the Kingdom of the Parables. An ideal
state, it ever allures and inspires its subjects ;
a real state, it sustains, commands them. Had
Jesus conceived His Kingdom as in the future
only. He had made His disciples dreamers ;
had He centred it in the present only. He had
made them theorists. As it is, one labours on
its building with a splendid model before his
eyes ; one possesses it in his heart, and yet is
ever entering into its fulness. When Jesus sat
down with the twelve in the upper room, the
Kingdom of God had come ; when the Son of
Man shall be seen ' coming in a cloud with
power and great glory ' it shall be * nigh at
hand.' As Jesus came once and ever cometh,


so His Kingdom is a present fact and an endless

Jesus commands attention and respect at
once when He insisted on a present Kingdom.
It was not going to be, it was now and here.
That very day a man could see, could enter,
could possess, could serve the Kingdom of
God. Jesus did not despise this world in which
we live nor despair of human society to which
we belong. He did not discount earth in
favour of heaven nor make the life which now
is a mere passage to rest. He deliberately
founded His Kingdom in this world, and antici-
pated it would run its course amid present cir-
cumstances. If you had pointed to rival forces
and opposing interests, Jesus accepted the risk.
If sin and selfishness had their very seat here,
then the more need for the counteraction of
the Kingdom. In fact, if there is to be a king-
dom of God anywhere, it must be in this
world ; and if it be impossible here where
Jesus died, it will be impossible in Mars or
anywhere. When Jesus said the Kingdom of
Heaven, be sure He did not mean an unseen
refuge whither a handful might one day escape
like persecuted and disheartened Puritans flee-


ing from a hopeless England, but He intended
what might be and then was in Galilee, what
should be and now is in England. ' To those
who speak to you of heaven and seek to sepa-
rate it from earth,* wrote Mazzini, *you will
say that heaven and earth are one even as the
way and the goal are one.' And he used also
to say, and his words are coming true before
our eyes, * The first real faith that shall arise
upon the ruins of the old worn-out creeds will
transform the whole of our actual social organi-
sation, because the whole history of humanity
is but the repetition in form and degree of the
Christian prayer, " Thy kingdom come : Thy
will be done on earth as it is in heaven." V

Jesus' next point is that the Kingdom con-
sists of regenerate individuals, and therefore
He was always trying to create character.
This is the salient difference between Jesus and
the Jewish reformers and all reformers. The
reformer, who has his own function and is to
be heartily commended, approaches humanity
from the outside and proceeds by machinery ;
Jesus approaches humanity from the inside
and proceeds by influence. No one can ask a
question without at the same time revealing


his mind ; and so when the Pharisees demanded
of Jesus when the Kingdom of God should
come, one understands what was their method
of social reformation. The new state of things
which they called the Kingdom of God — and
no better name for Utopia has ever been
found — was to come with observation. It was
to be a sudden demonstration, and behold the
golden age has begun. What they exactly
meant was the arrival of a viceroy from God
endowed with supernatural power and author-
ity. Till he came, patriotism could do noth-
ing; when he came, patriotism would simply
obey, and in a day the hopes of the saints
would be realised and the promises of the
prophets fulfilled. At one blow the Roman
grip would be loosened from the throat of the
Jewish nation ; the grinding bondage of taxa-
tion swept away ; the insolent license of Her-
od's court ended ; the pride of the priestly
aristocracy reduced, and the gross abuses of the
temple worship redressed. When the Messiah
came, they would see the ideal of patriotism
in all ages : * A Free State and a Free Church.*
It was a splendid dream, the idea of a ready-
made commonwealth, which has touched in turn


and glorified Savonarola and Sir Thomas More,
Scottish Covenanters and English Puritans,
which inspired the noblest minds in Greece.
It is that society can be regenerated from with-
out and in the mass ! It is regeneration by-
machinery — very magnificent machinery no
doubt, but still machinery.

Jesus believed that if the Kingdom of God
is to come at all, it must be by another meth-
od, and it was the perpetual exposition of His
method that brought Him into collision with
the Pharisees. He knew that the Messiah for
the Jews must not be a supernatural Roman
emperor or a Deus ex machindy doing for men
what they would not do for themselves. This
Messiah was a moral impossibility and this
paternal Government would be useless. The
true Messiah was a Saviour who would hold up
a personal ideal and stimulate men to fulfil it.
What was any nation but three measures of
meal to be leavened ; you must leaven it parti-
cle by particle till it be all changed. Instead
of looking hither and thither for the Kingdom
of God, it would be better to look for it in
men's own hearts and lives. The Pharisees
prated about being free, meaning they had cer-


tain political privileges ; but Jesus told them
that the highest liberty was freedom from sin.
Did a Pharisee — and the Pharisee with all his
faults was the patriot of his day — desire to bet-
ter his nation, then let him begin by bettering
himself. When the Pharisees learned humility
and sympathy, the golden age would not be
far distant from Jewry. Jesus* perpetual sug-
gestion to the patriotic class of His day w^as
that they should turn from the politics of the
state to the ethics of their own lives.

Jesus afforded a standing illustration of His
own advice by His marked abstention from
politics. His attitude is not only unexpected,
it is amazing and perplexing. He never said
one word against the Roman domination ; He
was on cordial terms with Roman officers ; He
cast His shield over the hated publican ; He
tolerated even Herod and Pilate. This was
not an accident ; it was His line. When clever
tacticians laid a trap for Him and pressed Him
for a confession of His political creed, He
escaped by telling them He had none. Some
things were civic, some religious. Let each
sphere be kept apart. ' Render unto Caesar the
things which are Caesar's, and unto God the


things which are God's*: as for Him, His con-
cern was with divine things. Jesus was so
guarded that He refused to arbitrate in a dis-
pute about property — a duty now greedily un-
dertaken by His servants. When He stood
before Pilate, on the day of the cross, He told
that bewildered officer that His kingdom was
not of this world, and did not give him the
slightest help in arranging a compromise.

On the other hand, none can read Jesus*
words without being perfectly certain that they
must sooner or later change the trend of poli-
tics and the colour of the state. His contempt-
uous depreciation of the world. His solemn
appreciation of the soul. His sense of the
danger of riches. His doctrine of the Father-
hood of God, His sympathy with the poor, His
enthusiasm of humanity, were not likely to re-
turn unto Him void. No man can read Jesus'
Sermon on the Mount or His parables — largely
taken from the sphere of labour — or His argu-
ments with the Pharisees, without being leav-
ened with new and unworldly ideas. When
these ideas have taken hold of the mind, they
will be carried as principles of action into the
state. Moral truths ripen slowly; but given


time, and Christianity was bound to become
the most potent force in the state, although
Jesus had never said one word about politics,
and His apostles had adhered closely to His
example. Men who have been fed with
Christ's bread, and in whose heart His spirit is
striving, will not long tolerate slavery, tyranny,
vice, or ignorance. If they do not apply the
principle to the fact to-day, they will to-
morrow. Their conscience is helpless in the
grip of Christ's word. They will be con-
strained to labour in the cause of Christ, and
when their work is done men will praise them.
It is right that they should receive their crown,
but the glory does not belong to Hampden
and Howard and Wilberforce and Shaftesbury
and Lincoln and Gordon ; it belongs to Jesus,
who stood behind these great souls and in-
spired them. He never assailed Pilate with
bitter invective, or any other person, except re-
ligious hypocrites ; He never hinted at an in-
surrection. But it is Jesus, more than any
other man or force, that has made Pilates im
possible, and taught the human race to live
and die for freedom.

Politics are after all only a necessary machin-


ery ; what comes first is ideas. Just as there is
the physical which we see and handle, and the
metaphysical which eye has not seen nor ear
heard, so there is the political, which takes
shape in government and legislatures and laws,
and there is the meta-political — to use a happy
phrase in Lux Mundi — which is before all and
above all, or politics are worthless. And just
as no wise physicist rails at the metaphysical
because it cannot be weighed in scales, but freely
acknowledges that it is the spirit of the ma-
terial, so every one knows that all worthy
politics are the offspring of noble ideas. When
Jesus denied Himself to politics, He did not
abdicate His Kingdom ; He set up His throne
above all the world-kingdoms and entrenched
it among the principles that judge and govern
life. When He declined to agitate, He did not
abandon the people. He could not, for, unlike
many of their pseudo-friends, Jesus loved the
people unto death. But He had a wide hori-
zon. He was not content to change their cir-
cumstances, He dared to attempt something
higher — to change their souls.

Had Jesus depended on a scheme rather than
an influence, He had failed. Imagine if He had


anticipated the fruits of Christianity, and asked
the world to accept the emancipation of the
slave and the equality of woman, and civil
rights and religious liberty, Christianity would
have been crushed at its birth. It would have

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