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spelled anarchy, and in that day would have
been anarchy. With the slow, sure education
of centuries, these changes have come to be
synonymous with righteousness. Christianity
may be to-day pregnant with changes for which
we are not prepared. They will come to birth
by-and-bye and find people prepared for them.
What to our fathers would have seemed a rev-
olution will seem to our children a regenera-
tion. A century ago a slave-owner would have
defended himself from God's Word, to-day he
would be cast headlong out of the Church.
Yesterday a master sweated his servants with-
out sense of wrong-doing, to-day he is ashamed.
To-day a millionaire is respected ; there are
signs that in future years a man leaving a huge
fortune will be thought a semi-criminal. So
does the Spirit of Jesus spread and ferment.
Christ did not ask for power to make laws, He
asked for a few men to train — for soil in which
to sow His truth. He was content to wait till



332 THE MIND OF THE MASTER

a generation arose, and said, ' Before God this
must be done,' and then it would be done as
Jesus intended. Possess the imagination with
an ideal, and one need not vex himself about
action.

Jesus laid Himself alongside sinful people,
and out of them He slowly built up the new
kingdom. If a man was a formalist, he must
be born again ; if the slave of riches, he must
sell all he had ; if in the toils of a darling sin,
he must pluck out his right eye to enter the
kingdom of God. New men to make a new
state. The kingdom was humility, purity, gen-
erosity, unselfishness. It was the reign of
character; it was the struggle for perfection.
Chunder Sen, the Indian prophet, described
Jesus' Kingdom perfectly : ' A spiritual congre-
gation of souls born anew to God.' Say not,
* Lo here, lo there,' as if one could see a system
or a government. ' The kingdom of God is
within you.'

Investigate a little further, and you notice
that Jesus fused His disciples into one body,
and, by this act alone, separated Himself from
the method of philosophy. Philosophy is con-
tent with an audience ; Jesus demands a soci-



THE KINGDOM OF GOD 333

ety. Philosophy teaches men to think ; Jesus
moves them to do. Philosophy can do no more
because it has no centre of unity : the king-
dom of God is richer, for there is Jesus. Soc-
rates obliterated himself; Jesus asserted Him-
self, and united His followers to each other by
binding them to Himself. Loyalty to Jesus
was to be the spinal cord to the new body, and
the sacraments were to be the signs of the new
spirit. Each was perfect in its simplicity — a
beautiful poem. One was Baptism, where the
candidate for God's kingdom disappeared into
water and appeared again with another name.
This meant that he had died to self and had
risen a new creature, the child of the Divine
Will. The other was the Lord's Supper, where
Jesus' disciple eats bread and drinks wine in
remembrance of His death. This meant that
he had entered into the spirit of his Master
and given himself to the service of the world.
Those are the only rites of Jesus, those His
bonds, and with this lowly equipment — two
pledges of sacrifice — began the kingdom of
God. Within all nations, and under the
shadow of all governments, dividing none, re-
sisting none, winning all and uniting all, was



334 THE MIND OF THE MASTER

to rise the new state of peace and goodwill
toward men.

How was the kingdom to impress itself upon
the world and change the colour of human life ?
As Jesus did Himself, and after no other fash-
ion. Of all conquerors He has had the high-
est ambition, and above them all He has seen
His desire. He has dared to demand men's
hearts as well as their lives and has won them
— how ? By coercion ? by stratagem ? by clever-
ness ? by splendour? By none of those means
that have been used by rulers. By a scheme of
his own invention — by the Cross. The Cross
meant the last devotion to humanity ; it was
the pledge of the most uncomplaining and
effectual ministry. When you inquire the re-
sources of the Kingdom of Heaven, behold the
Cross. They are faith and love. Its soldiers
are the humble, the meek, the gentle, the peace-
ful. * Forgive your enemies,* said Jesus ; * help
the miserable, restore the fallen, set the captive
free. Love as I have loved, and you will suc-
ceed.' Amazing simplicity ! amazing origi-
nality ! Hitherto kingdoms had stood on the
principle of selfishness — grasp and keep. This



THE KINGDOM OF GOD 335

kingdom was to rest on sacrifice — suffer and
serve. Amazing hope, that an}'thing so weak,
so helpless, could regenerate the masterful
world ! But Jesus has not been put to shame :
His plan has not failed. There are many em-
pires on the face of the earth to-day, but none
so dominant as the kingdom of God. Jesus by
the divine achievement of the Cross has re-
placed the rule of rights by the idea of sacri-
fice ; and when Jesus' mind has obtained every-
where, and men cease to ask, ' What am I to
get? 'and begin to say, * What can I give?*
then we shall see a new heaven and a new earth
wherein dwelleth righteousness.

It was natural that the imagination of Jesus
should inspire heroic souls in every age ; it was
perhaps inevitable that few could enter into
His mind. Nothing has given such a moral
impetus to human society ; nothing has con-
ferred such nobility of character as the King-
dom of God ; nothing has been so sadly mis-
understood. The sublime self-restraint of
Jesus, His inexhaustible patience, His immov-
able charity, His unerring insight, did not de-
scend to certain of His disciples. They longed



336 THE MIND OF THE MASTER

to anticipate the victory of righteousness, and
burned to cleanse the world by force. Such
eager souls gained for themselves an imperish-
able name, but they failed. When the Roman
Empire was laid waste, and the world seemed
to be falling to pieces, St. Augustine described
the new empire that should rise on the ashes of
the old. The City of God stands first among
his writings, and created the Holy Roman Em-
pire, but the Papacy has not redeemed human-
ity. When the life of Florence was eaten out
by the Medicis, Savonarola purified the city for
a space with a thunderstorm. The Florentines
cast out their Herods at the bidding of their
Baptist, they burned their vanities in the mar-
ket-place, they elected Jesus King of Florence
by acclamation. In a little they brought Herod
back, and burned the Baptist in the same
market-place. The Puritans were at first quiet,
serious, peaceable men who were outraged by
the reign of unrighteousness, and drew the
sword to deliver England. They made the
host of God triumphant for a little. Then
came the reaction, and iniquity covered the
land as with a flood. It was high failure, but



THE KINGDOM OF GOD 337

it was failure. It does not become us to criti-
cise those forlorn hopes ; wc ought to learn
from their reverses. The kingdom of God can
only rule over willing hearts ; it has no helots
within its borders. It advances by individual
conversion, it stands in individual consecration.
Laws can do but little for this cause; the sv/ord
less than nothing. The kingdom will come in
a land when it has come in the hearts of the
people — neither sooner nor later.

The Kingdom of God cometh to a man when
he sets up Jesus* Cross in his heart, and begins
to live what Mr. Laurence Oliphant used to
call ' the life.* It passes on its way when that
man rises from table and girds himself and
serves the person next him. Yesterday the
kingdom was one man, now it is a group.
From the one who washes to the one whose
feet are washed the kingdom grows and multi-
plies. It stands around us on every side, —
not in Pharisees nor in fanatics, not in noise
nor tumult, but in modest and Christ-like men.
One can see it in their faces, and catch it in the
tone of their voices. And if one has eyes to
see and ears to hear, then let him be of good
Y



338 THE MIND OF THE MASTER

cheer, for the kingdom of God is come. It is
the world-wide state, whose law is the Divine
will, whose members obey the spirit of Jesus,
whose strength is goodness, whose heritage is
God.



THE ENDi




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Online LibraryIan MaclarenThe mind of the Master → online text (page 15 of 15)