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The Gradual Growth of the Kingdom of Heaven

The Gradual Growth of the Kingdom of Heaven

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Published by GLENN DALE PEASE
BY J. LLEWELYN DAVIES


[Westminster Abbey, April 17, 1910]

ST. LUKE xiii. 18. "The Kingdom of God is like
unto leaven, which a woman took and hid in three
measures of meal till it was all leavened."
BY J. LLEWELYN DAVIES


[Westminster Abbey, April 17, 1910]

ST. LUKE xiii. 18. "The Kingdom of God is like
unto leaven, which a woman took and hid in three
measures of meal till it was all leavened."

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Published by: GLENN DALE PEASE on Jul 25, 2014
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THE GRADUAL GROWTH OF THE KIGDOM OF HEAVE BY J. LLEWELY DAVIES [Westminster Abbey, April 17, 1910] ST. LUKE xiii. 18. "The Kingdom of God is like unto leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal till it was all leavened." I ASK you this morning, my Christian brethren, to consider in the light of ew Testament teaching the relations of our Christian faith to earth and to heaven to the visible and the invisible, to this world with its human equipment, and to the world above and beyond. Within the last century, and chiefly within the latter half of it, we have had deliverance granted to us from some oppressive traditional doctrines which had usurped authority over the Church, and which misrepresented the ways of our God. The most important of these were the prevalent accounts of the destinies awaiting 42 The Purpose of God \\ us after death and of the nature of Holy Scripture. To this class belongs the doctrine which described the status of true believers in this world of our mortal life as being that of strangers and pilgrims. The phrase is a Scriptural one, but to our ears it is misleading. It is so partly because the word pilgrim no longer means what it once did. It suggests to us one who is travelling towards a sacred shrine or some spot endeared by soul-
 
subduing memories, and who probably meets with hardships or discomforts by the way, but who is indifferent to annoyances, and takes a very secondary interest in all that is to be seen or that is passing around him, because his mind is set on the goal towards which he is going. But in the Bible a pilgrim is not a traveller, but a resident ; one who is residing for a time in a land not his own. In the passage from St. Peter which we have just heard the two words rendered "sojourners" and " pilgrims " are identical in meaning, and they both expressly imply residence. So " the house of my pilgrimage," in Psalm cxix., is the house which is my home for a time in a foreign land. Then, further, it would seem that St. Peter had in view the iv The Purpose of God 43 circumstances of his fellow-believers, who were dwelling always a few in the midst of many among unbelievers. His anxious desire for them was that they should do honour to their faith by their blameless and friendly lives, and so 'conciliate the neigh- bours who could hardly help regarding them with dislike : " Having your behaviour seemly among the Gentiles ; that wherein they speak against you as evil-doers, they may, by your good works which they behold, glorify God in the day of visitation." In the Epistle to the Hebrews it is said of Abraham that " he became a sojourner in the land of promise as in a land not his own." He and his were not at home with the popula- tions surrounding them ; they knew them- selves to be heirs of a better commonwealth,
 
which, if not in their day, then in a later time, would be established by their God, and in which the promise given to Abraham that in him and his seed all the nations of the earth should be blessed would find its fulfilment. But we Christians of to-day are not like St. Peter's fellow-believers or like the household of Abraham in being small subject minorities dwelling in alien lands. 44 The Purpose of God iv Christendom now dominates the world. The Church is not a sorely oppressed society of saints regarded by men with scornful wonder; it is in greater danger of perse- cuting than of being persecuted. or does any one now seriously hold that the real Church consists of a small number of re- generate persons who are separated by a change of their natures from the vast sur- rounding nominal Church. The distinction that used to be made between true believers and the unconverted mass of Christians still survives in much current religious literature, and especially in our hymns ; but it is now seen not only to be unreal among ourselves, but to be absent both from the writings of the Apostles and from our Prayer- Book. We have learned how lamentably the ew Testament was misunderstood when the Kingdom of Heaven was assumed to be a place providing infinite joys for the few who escaped the general doom of their fellow-men. The Kingdom of Heaven, or of God, is now seen to be the principal subject of our

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