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The will of God can claim all our concern, to the exclusion of concern even for our souls, because it is the will of love. By this faith works. It is not by our love; nor is it even by God's love as mere benevolent emotion existing in His heart and nowhere else. Faith is the assurance that love, in spite of all that appears to the contrary, is the final order of the world, so that to accept its will is to have all right uses of the world. Thus it is the assurance that love, interpreted by what God values and, therefore, by His holiness, is the final power as well as the final good in this present life, so that, though, for any other end than God's purpose or by any other guidance than His will, nothing is ours, however much we may seem to possess, and nothing good, however much it may seem to be desired, yet for His end and by His guidance, all things are ours, however much we may lack, and all things work together for good, even if, as immediate happenings, they are calamities.

This love will not refuse us any real good, yet we may not measure it, either for this world or the next, by any standard of outward prosperity or ease, or any measure save the mind of God. Therefore, we cannot make any form of our own good our aim: and much less may we make the happiness of winning it our 274 motive. Faith, righteousness and love are not united by the hope of a reward beyond themselves, but any bliss we may hope for must be measured by them and be by possessing them, and, even so, not by our own foresight, but by God's.

Yet morals have so frequently been made to depend in a purely eudaemonistic way on religion as to make it appear that there is no other connection between them. For this reason, in spite of the fact that, throughout all human history, the basis of morals has been religious, philosophical ethics has sought to derive it entirely from the peculiar nature of conscience, without any reference to religion. Even when God is introduced as a compendious name for the validity of the moral order, the absoluteness of moral obligation has still been derived from some universal legislation of conscience which has some kind of infallibility.

But conscience is no more infallible than any other human authority. The absolute nature of its requirements depends on no inerrancy in its verdicts, but on the absolute rule which, in so far as it is conscience of right, conscience reveals.

The essential form of every verdict of conscience is that it is sacred. We may freely question whether it is right, but we may not at all consider whether it is convenient. This absoluteness can be derived only from an unseen and eternal reality which is, by its nature, sacred, and cannot be derived either from conscience, which makes mistakes, or from any 275 accumulation of utilities, which can be valued only by comparison and from which we may select as we prefer. Many attempts have been made to show how the idea of the sacredness of duty came to be attached to certain useful actions and even to maintain its abiding validity in respect of them. Sacredness, we are told, is a social feeling which makes us accept the maxims which embody the wisdom of the past, justified because they may be a shrewder dealing with the real utilities than our own judgment of them. But, if society is a mere group, its claims are not sacred. They should be measured by mere utility. Moreover, if utility is to be measured by material profit, and pleasure is our only rational motive, they neither have sacredness, nor do they need it, for we can do no other than choose them when we see them. Nor, if the struggle for existence is the rational view of the world, can we pass from utility for ourselves to consideration for others as sacred, and not merely as convenient. Conscience is then at best an inherited instinct, which, as it is useful for the race, we can only hope will continue to act blindly and never become rational. Yet it is a vain hope, for how can conscience impose absolute obligation on those who are sufficiently enlightened to discern that it is a mere instinct of the herd? How can we be loyal at all costs to mere irrational instincts knowledge must outgrow?

The substance of all this is that, while conscience is corrupt if it derive its motive from religious reward, 276 it is not conscience at all unless its sanction derives its sacredness from the religious reality, which, name it as we like, is just the Rule or Kingdom of God.

Till conscience of right stand above all prudences, there is no beginning with any rule of God, yet till the Rule of God is the meaning and purpose of all that is without, there is no true beginning with conscience of right. All who ever stood up, especially if it were against the whole world, and said this is right and this alone, have been assured that the ultimate nature of things was on their side. That no other soul accepts it in no way shakes their confidence. The efficiency of Touchstone, "I will bandy with thee in faction; I will o'er-run thee with policy: I will kill thee a hundred and fifty ways," is for them only the faith of the simple fool, even though he be highly placed, subtly skilled and abundantly equipped. God's world, they know, is not built that way. The natural order of it is the love which is the fulfilling of the law, and not the selfishness which knows no law except its own direct advantage; and the blessings which make rich and add no sorrow are truth and beauty and goodness, and not place and wealth and outward fame. God is not mocked. The name of the wicked shall rot, the noisiest clamour of self-assertion die down, the kingdoms of violence be self-destructive; yet we only know this as we find God's will to be our own right will, whatsoever may happen.

From first to last, it is necessary to affirm, and 277 not merely to admit, that God's Rule does not exist anywhere as a rule which imposes itself otherwise than by our own insight into truth, conscience of right and purpose of good. Conformity to outward rule is, at best, manners and never morals. Only what is seen in its own light to be true is rational, and only what is submitted to on its own claim is righteous. Yet we can find neither by merely reflecting the world around us. As an inference from the way the world rules us and from the visible order of life and society, we might as readily speak of a Rule of Satan as of a Rule of God.

This contrast between the absolute nature of the Rule of God and its limited operation may again be set forth as a harmony of opposites. The Rule of God is an order which is outside of us, but it exists only as it is accepted from within.

The Rule or Kingdom of God exists as an objective reality--in the strict sense the only existing order of the world. Yet, as a gracious personal rule, all its characteristics are determined by the limitation that it cannot operate except as it is received as our own rule. To this personal nature of God's Rule are due all the contradictions which have met us, and which not only seem to exist, but actually do exist, while that rule is not received. Though it is the ultimate reality, except as the perfect law of liberty, it is wholly inoperative; though the measure of all that is final, except as it is our own end, it measures nothing in the world. But, for the very reason that it imposes 278 itself from within and only from within, as the law of our liberty and only as the law of our liberty, as the realm of moral esteem and only as the realm of moral esteem, is it the final, the rational, as well as the righteous order of the world.

If the result of this forbearance, however, is that the whole world lieth in the Evil One, how, it may be asked, is God's Rule a reality which makes any practical difference in the world for any mortal?

To that there is only one answer It can be known to exist without as we receive it within. The prophetic method of discovering that God's Rule is not only reality but the final reality, by accepting it and finding that, by it, we can rule our own world, is the sole way; and we too can only approach the question aright as we consider what the fellowship of prophetic souls, in the long conflict of the ages with sorrow and sin, has made of it.

All prophetic knowledge of God, being moral and not metaphysical, has concentrated its interest on this problem of God's rule in an evil world, not only asking what God's will is in general, but, through many centuries giving practical heed to it amid all kinds of overwhelming conditions; and the result, though so burning a practical interest was necessarily interwoven with the temporal and local, is so astonish ingly agreed, that, in the absence of all other dependence, we can explain it only by insight into the nature of reality.

The prophets all travelled the same hard road and 279 met the same strange antagonisms in their own thoughts. As nothing else illustrates so clearly the nature of their faith, we cannot do better than make the most important of these antagonisms the heads of our study.

I. We must pass through the sense that God's rule is small and oppressed to the discovery that it is universal and triumphant.

The prophets never think of the spiritual conflict as relative and due to irregularity of development, but always as the absolute opposition of an organised kingdom of evil to the one indivisible Kingdom of God.

This conception is usually dismissed lightly as in conflict with the theory of evolution: and it is inconsistent with the theory that the sole force in evolution is accidental variation of organisms and selection from them entirely by elimination of the unprofitable through the struggle for survival. But the Apostle Paul, at least, was somewhat of an evolutionist, for whom the psychical--the natural and instinctive--was first, and the spiritual--the rational and moral--was later, yet no one held more strongly the absolute contradiction between what he called the Tyranny of Darkness and the Kingdom of the Son of God's love: and, indeed, the reason was this theory of evolution. If evolution be development of the spiritual from the physical, progress cannot be simply more efficiency in dealing with the physical environment, but must introduce sharp difference of principle.


Something of this we can see as far back as the decisive moment when progress begins to depend on the purpose of the living creature, for there we have a distinction in principle between acceptance of things as they are, which is stagnation, and venture upon a wider environment, which is progress. The next stage distinguishes between the life which shuts itself up in itself and the life which enlarges itself by the society of its fellows, which again is a difference of principle. Finally, we come to the real difference in principle of which the Apostle was thinking, between the natural man in his instinctive group and the spiritual man in ethical relations. With this we have not merely stagnation and progress, but sharply opposing ideas of good, which divide the world into hostile camps.

At the stage of natural instinct, when the family is a blood and bread grouping and all wider tribal associations mere extensions of the family, the ties are individual, but they are not personal, not, therefore, moral, but, at best, the material out of which, as it is personally employed, goodness and badness may be made. But, the moment we enter on personal relations, we pass from instinctive association, to a moral fellowship in which we rightly take our place only by reverence for all its members, and so from lower and higher stages which shade into each other, to consciously conflicting principles, or, more accurately, conflicting reverences. Forthwith we find ourselves between antagonistic religions, or, as the prophets viewed it, between religion and idolatry, 281 between esteeming God, by love towards His children, and setting up in self-love an idol of His gifts, to which we sacrifice His children.

These principles of regard for men as ends and material things as means, and of regard for material things as ends and men as merely means, are not only in hard contradiction, but they organise their adherents in opposing camps, giving a sense of a deadly conflict in our earthly state, which is by no means confined to the prophets. In days of great stress it has given Ahriman as large a place in men's fears as Ormuzd in their hopes, and made Satan cast the shadow of terror on the love of God.

The doctrine of evolution, turning attention to origins and away from issues, and wrongly interpreted by organisms and not by the purposes of living creatures, only seemed to heal the breach with the promise of even, if tardy, progress, because long years of unparalleled abundance never challenged this conclusion. Now that we are once more being made to pass through the Valley of Decision, there are not wanting signs that the pleasant chiaroscuro is vanishing and that we are in danger of returning to the prophetic sense of a world of absolute conflict between good and evil, without being able to attain the prophetic assurance that, nevertheless, it is of God.

The ascription of the world to God, in spite of all its evil, was the essential prophetic achievement. Along with the most pessimistic view of the might of 282 the Kingdom of Darkness, in intimate connection with it and even by means of it, there was the conviction that this is God's world, with the only final might in it His Rule, which is always about to come, yea, in some effective sense is already present, so that it is possible to live in it now and to manage our present experience by means of it.

The amazing thing is the way this optimism always rises out of what might seem the depths of despair. The Kingdom of Evil has annexed the heart's allegiance as well as the whole outward life of man. No satire that ever was written gives so black a picture of men and society as the dirge prophet after prophet chants. Yet ever over this morass tower the walls of the city of God. Isaiah confesses himself a man of unclean lips, dwelling amid a people of unclean lips, a people untruthful and determined to be deceived, their morals utterly corrupt, their religion mere trampling of God's courts. Yet from their polluted capital is to go forth the law in righteousness and the word of the Lord in truth. Then the perfect reign of peace will replace all the base idolatries with their murderous strifes. And, as we find at the beginning of revelation, so we find at the close. The world is sunk in calamity, hatred of good, crime and, above all, idolatry, yet over it the New Jerusalem is coming down from God out of Heaven. Most pessimistic of all is the teaching of Jesus. The highest morality turns out to be mere respectability, the purest religion mere formalism, and the insincerity is such that the Prince of this world is 283 the Father of Lies: yet nowhere is the Kingdom so real or so near.

The reason for this pessimistic judgment is the same as the reason for the hope which rises out of it, the reason for both being that all forms of evil are traced to the one root of idolatry, or, as our Lord, going back still farther, finds it, of hypocrisy. It is self-delusion over against God's reality and truth. The Kingdom of Evil is idolatry, so organised by hypocrisy that it is able to set itself up as the true order of the world. Valuing its neighbour only for itself, it makes possession the end and man the means, and turns the whole world into a temple for its idol, where it worships with all its mind and with all its heart and with all its strength. By the dazzling liturgy of all the worldly interests which appeal to selfish desire, it blinds its own eyes as well as the eyes of others, till its idol is accepted as the only true might in the world, over against which a rule of love seems mere fantasy and cloud-land. Nor did this idolatry ever erect a ritual so imposing as the material conquests of the present order of competition with its vast mechanical equipment; nor was it ever so much taken at its face value as when thus enormously staged; nor has society ever been set by it on a more selfish foundation or been so robbed of the true uses of the world; nor has it ever issued in vaster destruction.

This radical judgment of evil as one organised idolatry which repudiates all the personal values God's 284 grace affirms, and calls good evil and evil good, and employs all the resources of civilisation to embellish the temple of its hypocrisy, is vital to the whole prophetic outlook. Only by seeing it did the prophets also see that there was a good so high and the victory of it in men's souls so blessed, that no material loss or suffering could be too great to achieve it, and that for this, in spite of all the appalling misery, the government of the world is one wise, holy, and gracious rule.

The average dull view of human nature, as never very good or very bad, and of sin as mere transgressions of useful laws, without any radical conflict between good and evil, left their contemporaries with the idea of God as chiefly concerned with the material well-being of His peculiar people, and with their hope turned to horror at the ghastliness of His failure, when destruction and desolation came upon them.

This ancient experience, even if we could give no ground for it, is confirmed by our own. A half and half morality always means a hopeless view of humanity; whereas a view of man as involved in a widely organised and radical corruption, always means a high estimate of his possibilities and an absolute sense of the moral significance of life. But it is also within our power to discover reasons.

The bearing of this view of sin as idolatry, springing from selfishness and organised by hypocrisy, upon the universality of God's Rule is its simplest aspect.

When a nation, thinking of itself as God's chosen 285 people, not for high service but for high privilege, proclaims its virtue and its innocency, and appropriates God for its own domination, its judgment of good and evil must be external and negative. But if it have any conception of this arraying of the world powers against the good, it can neither be so sure of its acquittal nor so sure of the necessity of its material superiority for the purpose of God. Only as we see that all our battles are inside this great world conflict of worship and idolatry, are we ever truly delivered from particularist conceptions of God.

But we can also see how the prophets pass through this pessimistic view to their large optimism, to their discovery of a triumphant Divine Rule.

Having traced evil to one root of illusion, they could trust that some day it might be cut as it were by one stroke. They felt like the physician who, having gone behind the fever to the malaria, and behind the malaria to the one prolific form of life that permeates everywhere, never ceases to dream that it may, being one, suffer one annihilation. Similarly, the prophets, being concerned with principles and not with visible progress, cherished the expectation, not that all earthly imperfection and limitation will pass, but that idolatry will no longer delude, will, indeed, cease as the dominating order of the world. Their hope was not a Utopia, with wealth fairly distributed and society justly organised, but a new worship which sets the children of God above the gifts of God, though they also expected 286 that a juster use of God's gifts would follow. It was not that God would, by almighty fiat, amend our doings and order our society, but that His wisdom would succeed in enlightening our hearts' regard and transfer our loyalty to His own kingdom of good, and that, from this, the amendment of our human relations would proceed.

Nor, in our many schemes for a better world have we found a shorter cut to a righteous social order; nor can there ever be success so long as it all seems to be a matter of material well-being, because there is no reason, in that case, why each one should not do the best he can for himself. Only if God's spiritual purpose with man is the true good and God's rule for it the true order of the world, and we are in accord with it through the heart's reverence for its purpose, so that we esteem God in His children, can we ever rightly organise or distribute anything.

This expectation of the manifestation of God's rule, not by effort and slow moral progress, but by illumination and the working of God, leads to the second point.

II. We must pass through the sense that God's rule is not even beneficent to the discovery that it is love.

The prophets were all men, who, being of tender hearts and large sympathy, had tried hard to understand the world on principles of general benevolence, 287 and who had been driven, by stern experience, to see that God's Rule could not mean that He wished to see us all enjoying ourselves, taking care that none should be hurt, and glad to keep us from error for any reason and from evil by any motive, so long as our feet were kept from falling and our eyes from tears. Their need for religion was overwhelming and their thought was directed specially to the question of God's rule, because they could not pass by that way, yet were determined to press through to victory over the ills of life and not be content with a withdrawal from them, either ascetic or emotional.

Their own sufferings caused the prophets less perplexity than the sufferings of their nation. As they understood them more clearly and felt them more compassionately than others, it was no easy task to renounce the central religious conviction of their contemporaries, that God could not suffer any great disaster to befall the only nation which worshipped Him. But when they saw that the supreme conflict was not between peoples, but between religion and idolatry, between good and evil, they saw the folly of this hope, because they then discovered a higher victory, to win which material defeat might be necessary. In view of this spiritual end, far above even national prosperity or even existence, they learned that love is a moral value set on man as made in God's image and not regard to the material well-being of men or nations. Hence it became plain to them that, as the supreme disaster, so universal, so calamitous, is strong delusion to 288 believe a lie, under the tyranny of which nothing can profit, for deliverance from it, no price is too high.

Starting from their own austere reverence towards their own responsibilities, they were freed from all sentimentalism and made solemnly conscious of the tremendous issues of human choice. To love their neighbour meant to hold him in the same high and serious reverence, a reverence which was rooted in the conviction that, though nothing should be spared to help him, every man's destiny lay in his own hand, and could not in the nature of things be in the hand of another. And, as they conceived that their own relation to men should be without isolation yet with out intrusion, without hardness yet without softness, with large forbearance yet also with high demands, so they conceived God's. The essence of God's Rule lay in respect for what was in a man's own heart. With that His salvation was alone concerned, and, therefore, in the sense of overriding him, God Himself could not determine man's destiny. To be kept right was nothing; to be right of his own insight and choice everything. For that reason, God could not constrain; but also, for that reason, He could not spare any pain or conflict or arresting experience which might open men's eyes to the vanity of the idol they worshipped. Thus, by the hard road of learning that, as mere pleasant experience, life is mostly toil and trouble, or as the Preacher, in days when men were seeking an easier way than the prophetic faith, sums 289 it up, "vanity of vanities, all is vanity," the prophets arrived at the discovery that the task of love is not to keep us happy, but to give us moral victory.

The Kingdom of God is thus a moral rule only to be introduced by moral means. Yet it does not come by the slow moral progress of the race, but is of God's manifesting and not of man's achieving. The prophetic hope is in a Day of the Lord, and not in a steady, if slow, success in reforming the world, because, being concerned with the central reverence of our hearts, it looks forward to a day of enlightenment and not to a slow process of amendment.

This Day of the Lord is always connected either with the actual experience or, more often, the well-grounded anticipation of times of great conflict and distress. Though the supreme blessing of God's Kingdom is a peace which includes nature as well as society, so little is it concerned with the subjugation of nature or the establishing of political guarantees that it always seems nearest when faith in both is most broken.

Isaiah, speaking from the midst of a people, idolatrous, self-deceived, utterly corrupt, sees the leopard lying down with the kid as well as men beating their swords into ploughshares. The splendour of his ideal requires for its description all the resources of poetry; and yet he looks at it through disasters only to be described by a mythology of doom, after he has exhausted every figure of God's wrath and man's desolation. Moreover, they are disasters which cannot end 290 while everyone continues to be a hypocrite as well as an evil-doer. With Jesus the Kingdom is still nearer and is more impressively and comprehensively described as simply the Rule of the Father, but the catastrophe which is to usher it in is the more terrible that He employs no figures and says simply, there would be such tribulation as had not been since the world began, yet it was only the beginning of sorrows.

The reason for this mixture of boundless terror and boundless hope is that the Kingdom of Evil which is to be overcome is delusion and not imperfection, and the Kingdom of God which is to come is reverence for God through His children and not higher development or better organisation. Its ground is the austere reverence which, being free from sentimentalism, is solemnly conscious of the tremendous fact that human choice, though immediately only between better and worse, is ultimately between the kingdom of light and the tyranny of darkness. In the nature of things, the dominion of evil is a vast illusion and has, in its whole order, nothing save calamity both for individuals and for societies. Against all resistance to the truth in unrighteousness, the wrath of God is revealed from Heaven, as it works out from the heart through the intellect to the body, till the Kingdom of the Father of Lies finally shows itself to be chaos and self-destruction. That is the natural effect of the idolatry and self-deception of the human heart, and would always be the result but for the restraining 291 hand of God. At times, however, He suffers this rule of falsehood to let loose all its natural confusion and agony, to the blotting out of the possessions and organisations by which man had hoped to safeguard himself. Yet, as this giving place to wrath is the work of love and not of anger, we may have confidence that it is not permitted without the knowledge that it will serve to disillusion man, and that a time of special trial may also be the dawning of new and nobler reverences. Because man's only good is in truth and righteousness, no disaster is too great, if it show him the destructive forces of error and evil.

As little as the prophets, can we interpret the world by benevolent sentiment. If God's love mean the will to prevent everyone from being hurt and to keep us all within safe domestic rules and the household amenities, it is not, at this moment, playing a very successful role in the world; and it takes a great deal of blind, self-satisfied prosperity to have much regard for its efficiency even in the happiest times. Interpreting even by our own poor willing to do God's will, we cannot help seeing that to be a saint is no guarantee of prosperity, while, if we interpret by the cross of shame and agony as the sign of victory, we see that progress always has blood "on its garment and on its thigh." As between the millionaires and the martyrs, we can find no sort of guidance through life at all on mere principles of beneficence.

In our own day it is easier to see the elements of evil than the elements of hope. In so far as we have 292 not met life's austerity by mere kindliness, we have met it by hardness, which is worse. Only mockery could describe our system of competition as

"So began contention to give delight and be

Excellent in things aimed to make life kind."

Competition was not contention to make life just and noble and worthy of the true dignity of man. Efficiency in it was not power to produce wisdom or beauty or goodness, but was power to override others, a wholly brutal thing, which quite naturally ended in being a wholly murderous thing. What gain could come to our mortal state, what right uses of nature or what blessedness of fellowship, by suffering apparent success in it to increase the illusion that this was the true, the only possible order of the world?

Yet, on the other hand, what would be the gain of disaster unless there were other and Diviner elements in our hearts and even in our society, and, especially, unless there were among us those who, of their own insight, faith and courage, were committed to a quite different ordering of life, even though they too may need the lesson to teach them that this requires a transformation of our hearts' desire and trust and reverence, and not merely an amendment of our ways? The burning up of the wood and hay and stubble would merely render us homeless were there no gold, silver and precious stone to be displayed by the conflagration. But, if the end is disillusionment, and if we cannot doubt the riches of God's "goodness 293 and forbearance and long-suffering," we cannot doubt that God sees His way to the new before He suffers the destruction of the old, even though we know that the new must be a moral order, and, therefore, be of our own insight morally received. If, however, the world is ripe for judgment in both senses of needing it and being able to profit by it, the permission of evil is of love and not of anger.

III. We must pass through the sense that the Rule of God is not even just to the discovery that it is atoning.

Most of us, like the Preacher in Ecclesiastes, have to learn by stern experience, which is sometimes bitter with remorse as well as disappointment, that we cannot travel through life by the way of mere beneficence, but, unless we are wilfully obdurate and blind, we learn young: and prophetic souls, if they do not learn without pain, usually learn without delay. But to discern that we can no more pass by the way of justice than by the way of beneficence required, even for prophets, a longer and sterner lesson. Like the friends of Job, their people hoped to resolve their perplexing thoughts about the inequalities of reward by looking deeper into the hearts of men and waiting longer to see the consequences of their actions in their lives. Obvious calamities were thought to be the result of hidden crimes, and obvious crimes were punished, if not in a man's own life, in the lives of his descendants, while a good man was never forsaken 294 and his seed never begged bread. The prophets were readily content to forgo approval and reward for themselves, and they even learned in time to bear "the defaming of many and terror on every side," yet the sufferings of the righteous, their blood shed like water, their name a hissing and a reproach, remained long an agonising mystery. Yet they wrestled with it till it blessed them with the supreme discovery that here was love's highest victory, and not, as they had feared, its deepest failure. Indignation at wrong as the spring of unblessed sorrow did not die and opposition to it rose to new heights of daring, but indignation became itself a pity and opposition a peace.

The supreme union of condemnation and commiseration is in Him who was so in the Father and the Father in Him, that He never seems to have taken any other way than this of suffering for sin as well as from it. Where is there denunciation so terrible as what He said to the hypocrites who cloaked oppression and injustice with religion, yet what comes throbbing from the heart of God's compassion like the lament over Jerusalem, the city of these same hypocrites, ending, however, still more terribly than any denunciation, with, "But ye would not"?

In this hot indignation and uncompromising opposition, which is yet pitiful and gentle, we have the highest interpretation of life, at once by man's responsibility and God's love; and in it we see finally the means whereby God limits Himself to a success 295 to be won from within and not to be imposed from without, yet is able to establish His rule by a better way even than justice.

This better way is an atoning rule, a rule of the Family of God, where there is no claim of rights and no nice balancing of merit and reward, but where we succour the erring only as we bear with them and for them. This was the great discovery of the prophets which transformed all their ideas of the sufferings of the righteous, till they were able to give them sublime expression in the servant of the Lord who bore "our griefs and carried our sorrows." This same glory of the Lord is perfectly seen in the face of Him who gave His life a ransom for many, for even His sacrifice is no substitute for man's responsibility, but is love's sole way, because our responsibility is love's first care. Love suffers, and does not compel, to make us members of God's family, in the only way we can truly belong to it--in the liberty of God's children.

But an atoning rule which suffers all things to maintain our responsibility, has also a right to allow us to suffer, to the same end, and especially to permit evil to destroy itself. The Day of the Lord, though the manifestation of God's victory in the earth, the breaking in of His Rule, shows itself by winnowing out a holy remnant and, by no means, by obvious expansion of good influences and the inclusion of multitudes; and, though the description of its blessings are vocal with the melodies of peace, its effect is to 296 create a sharper cleavage and set the battle more definitely in array. In this, the only song of triumph ever truly sung in the earth, these strangely conflicting strains of universal dominion and a very little remnant, of utter peace and intensified conflict, ever mingle, and they harmonise into a song of final triumph because God's victory is by the sacrificial service of love, and not by the crushing weight of power.

Poetry has never touched a more pathetic theme. "Except the Lord had left to us a very small remnant we should have been as Sodom, we should have been like unto Gomorrah." Then, smaller still, "I and the children whom God hath given me." Finally, Jeremiah alone in the stocks of what passed as God's House, opening, in the solitary anguish of his heart, his cause unto God, appearing as the forerunner of Him who trod the wine-press alone, whose disciples forsook Him and fled, while the people, for whom He gave His life a ransom, passed by reviling and wagging their heads. But, even thus was the arm of the Lord revealed, for thereby the fleeting and futile nature of all that denies His truth and conflicts with His will is made manifest, and "a light to lighten the Gentiles and the glory of God's people Israel" is set up in a dark and erring world.

With this discovery of redemptive service the conception of the purpose of calamity also changes. At first God's judgments are conceived as in the world only to purge. "The Light of Israel shall be for a 297 fire, and His Holy One for a flame." Only a remnant shall return, and from it directly the holy nation shall spring. But as the hope grew beyond the nation, the means for realising it was seen to have another end than mere destruction of the wicked. The remnant becomes a redemptive priesthood and not merely a selected strain, a transforming and not merely a destroying ferment. Finally, as it is embodied in Him who gave His life a ransom for many, the Kingdom of the Father has a heaven where the angels rejoice over the one sinner who repents. As we share in this joy, we have blessedness in sorrow, peace in conflict, and find ourselves on the side of what is unassailable by outward defeat or death or any mortal power. And, with this experience, we have no more temptation to avenge the wrongs out of which are to come the rights of humanity, and no distress at the denial of our wages and the payment in defamation and persecution whereby the conflicts of God's world shall be turned from a curse into a blessing.

Christ's followers still come, not bringing peace but a sword. From the ferment of freedom they have started in the world; actual wars have sprung: and perhaps in all wars of Christian peoples sacrifices are maintained by ideals and emotions this thought of redemption by service has created. Whether that kind of conflict is right or not cannot be determined merely by regard for life, for, till the cause of freedom stands above fear of them that kill the body, it has no real existence. Nor can the question be settled merely 298 on grounds of non-resistance, because what we are not to resist is our own wrongs, so that we shall not waste our lives in futile resentments, to the repudiating of our positive task of reconciling service, while we are to resist the organisation of evil in the world with all our might. Yet there must ever be, as the world advances to the possibility of better ways, more doubt whether war is the way to fight with all our might. Moreover, it will be increasingly difficult to find a war in which to engage, when our hopes move from flying down on the shoulders of the Philistines and spoiling the children of the East, and we no more obey tribal impulses and seek mere material ends.

But, if atoning rule is the Divine method, it must be able to show, even for society, that it is providing a more excellent way, a way more heroic and more effective. Therefore, its true conflicts are sharper and its victories such that even victory in war might be far indeed from being their guarantee. The battle it has to set in array is between the use of men as means for material ends, and the measuring of material ends by their uses for men.

That is the only war which will ever end war, for, though effective political guarantees may come out of victory in that warfare, all guarantees are vain without it. And it is also the only way to end social strife. No abiding success is to be won by suppression of vice and the establishment of good customs, or even the imposing of sound doctrines. The winnowing of an age of conflict is, on the contrary, to destroy 299 our possessions, weaken guarantees, overthrow moral conventions and depose mere orthodoxies. Its real gain is to strip men of their wrappings, to shake their outward safeguards, to force them to ask what they truly believe and upon what cause they are prepared to stake their lives. Most people live by parasitic faiths and are directed by conventional morals, but in a time of conflict these are ruthlessly cut down. The first result is disaster. Even what is true, but not truly held, is denied, and what is right, but not rightly done, is rejected. The foundations are shaken and institutions totter and the individual is homeless. But parasitic faiths and conventional morals can be shaken only because they are not on the true foundation. God's rule never is a question of good customs but always of men resolute to follow what they see to be true and right, heedless of man and mindful only of God. Wherefore, what seems disaster may be only winnowing.

The real power of the atoning Kingdom of God appears not in any mass movements, but in those who see on which side true strength lies, and, with it, mankind's real and abiding gain, because they have discerned the final blessed order of the world. As citizens of God's Kingdom they go forth into the world, their souls waiting only upon God, made able to live their life and die their death in peace, no power on earth strong enough to hinder them from doing their task and realising their own blessedness in it, turning poverty into riches, defeat into victory, and 300 discovering, as they serve God, not for themselves alone but also for their brethren, that God's will of love can be done on earth as in heaven. If, to the impatience of our little day, the road before them seems long, still they have seen the goal, and the goal alone matters; and if the length of the journey speaks of the patience of God's method, it speaks also of the magnitude and perfection of His purpose, for which He also bears, as well as forbears.

By this conception of God's Kingdom as the rule of love, which, though only to be accepted in freedom, and as moral esteem, not sentiment, is being introduced by His hand, and not merely by human effort, our whole moral attitude should be determined.

This Kingdom, however much its personal rule in freedom may expose it to positive failure and not merely to limitation of success, is yet the only reality. It may rule only the loyal few, while over against them still stands the vast organisation of the deluded many, and to all appearance, evil may possess the kingdoms of this world, yet the earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof. The situation is not that the earth is one--let us trust--of God's few failures, but that God's Rule cannot be the order of the world, without limit or suspension, like the law of gravitation, because it is of the nature of love to endure restriction and even rejection, seeing it has respect for persons with their responsibilities in the world they create for themselves, and cannot be content with any lower success 301 than the acceptance of its order as blessedness and freedom. Yet it alone has might and dominion. God's Rule, being real and, by God's operation, always at hand, we live in it, and not merely for it, so that we can afford to be gentle towards all men and do our tasks positively and in the spirit of peace, and cease to strive and cry.

As taught in the Gospels, this attitude towards life has been called an interim morality. But there is no other true morality. Moralities which accept the Father of Lies as for ever the Prince of this world, are always compromises, agreements with Hell to be at peace with it, yet, even with that seeming lightening of their task, are anxious, distressed, negative, denunciatory, querulous, and never the possession of the soul in patience. Genuine morality is, in a sense, always interim, always apocalyptic, always confident that the thing it sees to be right has the might of the universe on its side. For it the equinoctial gales are the herald of the spring, and the sowing of the seed in the bitter March weather is cheerful with the promise of the summer and the harvest.

This type of service alone has counted in the moral history of mankind. And, for our own lives also, it is what we may call the apocalyptic moments which are the times of vision and courage, when the mists clear, and truth and beauty seem the nearest, most real, mightiest of all things, and compromises with evil mere folly, and the highest demands alone sure guidance, and querulousness and resentment of 302 wrongs mere lack of vision, and all scheming to restrain evil mere waste of effort, and pity for wrongdoing as folly takes at least an equal place in our hearts with indignation at its criminal purpose and its injurious success.

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