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The Kingdom of God.

The Kingdom of God.

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Published by GLENN DALE PEASE
BY JOHN WATSON
BY JOHN WATSON

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Published by: GLENN DALE PEASE on Jul 31, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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11/04/2014

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THE KIGDOM OF GOD.BY JOH WATSOThere are times when one wishes he had neverread the ew Testament Scriptures — that he mightsome day open St. Luke's Gospel and the mostbeautiful book in the world might come upon hissoul like sunrise. It is a doubtful fortune to beborn in Athens and every day to see the Parthe-non against the violet sky : better to make a singlepilgrimage and carry for ever the vision of beautyin your heart. Devout Christians must be hauntedby the fear that Jesus' sublime words may havelost their heavenliness through our familiarity, orthat they may have been overlaid by our conven-tional interpretations. This misgiving is confirmedby the fact that from time to time a fresh discoveryis made in Jesus' teaching. As a stranger, unfet-tered by tradition, will detect in a private gallerysome masterpiece generations have overlooked, soan unbiassed mind will rescue from neglectingages some lost idea of the Master. Two finds havebeen made within recent years ; the Divine Father-hood and the Kingdom of God.If any one will take the Gospels and read them,he will be amazed by the continual recurrence of this refrain, the " Kingdom of God" or " Heaven."Jesus is ever preaching the Kingdom of God and4 THE KIGDOM OF GOD.explaining it in parables and images of exquisitesimplicity. He exhorts men to make any sacrificethat they may enter the Kingdom of God (St. Matt,xiii. 44-46). He warns certain that they must notlook back lest they should not be fit for the King-
 
dom of God (St. Luke ix. 62). He declares thatit is not possible for others to enter the Kingdomof God (St. Matt. xix. 24). He encourages someone because he is not far from the Kingdom of God (St. Mark xii. 34). He gives to His chief Apostle the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven (Sfe.Matt. xvi. 19). He rates the Pharisees becausethey shut up the Kingdom of Heaven against men(St. Matt, xxiii. 13). He comforts the poor be-cause theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven (St. Matt,v. 3) ; and he invites the nations to sit down withAbraham in the Kingdom of Heaven (St. Matt,viii. 11). The Kingdom was in His thought thechiefest good of the soul and the hope of the world." One far-off divine eventTo which the whole creation moves."Every prophet of the first order has his ownmessage and it crystallizes into a favourite idea.With Moses the ruling idea was law ; with Con-fucius, it was morality ; with Buddha, it was Re-nunciation ; with Mohammed, it was God ; withSocrates, it was the Soul. With the Master, itwas the Kingdom of God. The idea owed itsorigin to the Theocracy, its inspiration to Isaiah,its form to Daniel, its popularity to John Baptist.THE KIGDOM OF GOD. 5When the forerunner's voice was stifled in thedungeon of Herod, Jesus caught up his word andpreached the Utopia of John with a wider visionand sweeter note. The hereditary dream of theJew passed through the soul of Jesus and wastransformed. The local widened into the univer-sal ; the material was raised to the spiritual. AJewish state with Jerusalem for its capital, and a
 
greater David for its king, changed at the touchof Jesus into a moral kingdom whose throne shouldbe in the heart and its borders coterminous withthe race. The largeness of Jesus' mind is its gloryand its misfortune. The magnificent conceptionwas refused by His countrymen because their Godwas a national Deity ; it has been too often re-duced by His disciples because they have no hori-zon. They have been apt to think that Christian-ity is an extremely clever scheme by which a lim-ited number of souls will secure Heaven — a rocketapparatus for a shipwrecked crew. Perhaps there-fore outside people should be excused for speakingof Christianity as a system of the higher selfish-ness, because they have some grounds for theirmisunderstanding. Every one ought to read Jesus'own words and he would find that Jesus did notlive and die to afford select Pharisees an immunityfrom the burden of their fellow men, but to founda Kingdom that would be the salvation of theworld.It has been a calamity that Christians paid hardlyany attention to the idea of the Kingdom of Jesus6 THE KIGDOM OF GOD.on which He was always insisting, and gave theirwhole mind to the entirely different idea of theChurch, which Jesus only mentioned once with in-tention in a passage of immense difficulty. TheKingdom idea flourishes in every corner of thethree Gospels, and languishes in the Acts and Epis-tles, while the Church-idea is practically non-exist-ent in Jesus' sermons, but saturates the letters of St. Paul. This means that the idea which uniteshas been forgotten, the idea which separates hasbeen magnified. With all respect to the ablest

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