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Discussion Forum : Articles and Sermons : Non-Resistance Asserted by Daniel Musser Part 2

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 Non-Resistance Asserted by Daniel Musser Part 2


by Daniel Musser

Part 2


The first ordinances commanded in the scripture that have relation to Divine worship are in connection with this people. They are called by Paul “carnal ordinances.” But they are especially typical of the true spiritual service that every true believer must render. The promises under these commands were chiefly of a temporal character. It is worthy of special observation that, under the old covenant, God gave great promises of earthly blessings; while in the Gospel, it is quite the contrary. The reason is obvious: Israel was carnal. They could not comprehend spiritual things and their kingdom was an earthly one, while that of Christ is a spiritual kingdom, as his subjects are spiritual and spiritually minded. As the kingdom of Israel was a natural earthly kingdom, and their blessings natural earthly blessings, they could not be established or maintained by any other than natural means, which is the sword. The kingdom of Israel was established on the same grounds and principles as all other governments were, and differed from them only in God having given them a clearer knowledge of those principles. God called the people of Israel his people, a peculiar people, etc., but their peculiarity consisted only in an outward observance of the Law he gave them. So long as the rulers were faithful and obedient, and kept the nation in subjection, they continued under all the blessings God had promised them. If they committed some trespass, they had to bring their trespass offering, and their sin was forgiven. But this related only to the outward natural consequences, curse, disadvantage, or disability it would entail upon them. It would not take away the sin before God; for God had no pleasure in offerings, burnt offerings, and sacrifices for sin; nor was it possible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sin.
These offerings were types of the offering of Christ’s body for sin, but yet they served for the personal purification of those who brought them. That is, they were absolved from the disabilities that would attach to their transgression. This was the case, whether those who offered them had knowledge of the spiritual significance or not; or whether they believed in Christ or not; their outward obedience entitled them to the benefit of outward absolution. The revelation that God made to Israel was only preparatory to the perfect will that he would reveal in the Gospel.
The state of mind man was in under the Law and Jewish dispensation, and the impossibility of his comprehending spiritual things, may be very clearly perceived by the feeling that the Apostles evinced during the public ministry of the Savior. They went in and out with him, and companied with him continually from his baptism until the time of his departure from them, when he ascended into Heaven. They heard and saw all that he said and did, and he spoke as no man had ever spoken; and still they could not comprehend his teaching. They could understand and do any natural thing he would direct; but they could not comprehend the nature of his kingdom. Their minds were carnal and could not comprehend spiritual things until they received the Holy Spirit. It is fair to presume that the Apostles were at least as far (if not further) enlightened, as any of those whom Paul mentions as having obtained a good report. Christ spoke to them of the nature of his kingdom, of its joys, of Heaven, and of eternal life; but still all their hopes and aspirations were for a natural kingdom, and enjoying distinction in it. And when he would speak to them of spiritual things, they would put carnal constructions upon them; and so soon as Christ was crucified, they were filled with sorrow and their hopes ended.
Is it not very plain that man’s state under the Law was very different from that under the Gospel? And that this is the reason why God gave different commands under the one, from what he did under the other? The Law could not give the Holy Spirit, which would change and renew the heart. John said when speaking of this spirit, “For the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because that Jesus was not yet glorified.” And Jesus himself said that if he did not go to the Father, the Holy Spirit would not come to them; and he said that he had many things to say to his disciples, but they could not bear them then; however, when the spirit of truth came, he would guide them into all truth. Why could they not bear them? Because they were yet carnal! Man could not overcome the flesh, or the deeds of the body, without the spirit of God; and therefore God did not require it of him until God endowed him with the power to accomplish the work.
God’s purpose was to prepare man for the reception of Christ and the benefits of his mission, and so he established an earthly kingdom with such laws and statutes as would tend to impress the mind with a just sense of what is right and good; which, in itself, should be instructive in the kingdom of Christ, which he designed to establish afterwards and of which the first was a type or figure.
In this figurative kingdom, it was said, if they would “hearken diligently to the voice of the Lord their God, and observe and do all the commandments which the Lord commanded them,” that he would “set them on high above all the nations of the earth. Blessed shalt thou be in the city, and blessed shalt thou be in the field. Blessed shall be the fruit of thy body, and the fruit of thy ground, and the fruit of thy cattle, the increase of thy kine, and the flocks of thy sheep. Blessed shall be thy basket and thy store. Blessed shalt thou be when thou comest in, and blessed shalt thou be when thou goest out. The Lord shall cause thine enemies that rise up against thee to be smitten before thy face. They shall come out against thee one way, and shall flee before thee seven ways. The Lord shall command the blessings upon thee in thy storehouses, and in all that thou settest thy hand unto; and he shall bless thee in the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.” The opposite of all these blessings was threatened as a curse for disobedience of God’s laws and commandments.
Because this kingdom was earthly and natural, and the promises to Israel for obedience were earthly and natural, the means by which it was established and maintained or upheld must of necessity have been of the same nature. Their dealings with each other, as well as with their neighbors and surrounding nations, were to be characterized by justice and righteousness. They were promised to have the victory over their enemies. Under the Law which God gave them they could do no injustice to individuals or nations; consequently, their enemies were such without cause; and when they would come out against Israel, they must act unjustly and God’s blessing would be with Israel, so that they would scatter them seven ways. If they did any injustice to a neighboring nation they had no such promise, but the contrary. They should be dispersed seven ways. Consequently, the Jews could have no unrighteous war with God’s approval. Neither could an individual do any violence, but in a just cause. God commanded Israel to take the sword and to use it, but in no other case except in defense of right and justice; and, whenever they unsheathed the sword in any other cause, God was not with them; and it being in violation of his command would bring them under his displeasure, and under the curse which he declared would follow disobedience. Therefore, it would ever be impossible for true Israelites to fight against each other, or in an unjust cause with anyone.
The purpose, therefore, for which God ordained government is very clear. God designed that order should be preserved in the world, and, as man had fallen from the spirit under the flesh, and would not be controlled by the law which was written in his heart, God ordained government for the purpose, and gave to it the sword as a means by which to keep the lawless and violent in subjection. And when it became necessary to this end, He commanded man to use the sword against offenders, whether they were individuals or nations.
There was no such ordinance before the fall; and that God commanded it after the fall in man’s altered relation shows no change in God! Man had changed, but God was still the same. Under the Mosaic dispensation, man’s relation to God, or his fellow man, was not changed from what it was before. The same cause existing, the same remedy had of necessity to be continued. But Moses, by whom the Law was given to Israel, spoke of another Prophet whom the Lord would raise up, and him they should hear “in all things whatsoever He shall say unto you.” Is this not as truly a confirmation of what had gone before as the promise of a change in the priesthood? Man’s relation to God was changed by the coming of the Prophet spoken of by Moses, and it argues no change in God to change his Law under this altered relation, any more than it does that he imposed new duties on him after he had fallen from the relation in which God created him. All the duties of the ceremonial Law ended with the establishing of the Gospel, and it proves no more change in God, that He should absolve the New Testament believer from certain moral duties, which he was subject to under the Law, than that he should be absolved from the ceremonial duties he was under obligation to perform then.
What God said in the Law and Prophets (or what He there commanded), He said to man under the Law, but therein He spoke of another law, covenant, or kingdom, which He would establish afterwards. Moses, in the Law and the Prophets, spoke of and referred to Christ as higher authority than they. Moses spoke of the Prophet who God would raise, as already observed. And Peter said that Prophet was Christ. “All the Prophets from Samuel, and those who followed after, as many as have spoken, have likewise foretold of these days.” In this Prophet, and in those days, there was made a change in the priesthood, and Paul said, “there must of necessity also be made a change of the Law.” Evidently this was so because the change of priesthood made a change of circumstances. Does this then argue that God is mutable? The Prophets, in speaking of this new covenant and kingdom, these times and days, spoke of them as being of grace and love, peace, and unity.
Christ came to restore the lost image in man, establish the kingdom of Heaven within him, and bring him under the new covenant or relation spoken of in the Old Testament. This change was accomplished by Christ coming into the world, being put under the Law, and fulfilling all its righteous requirements. Taking the sins of the world upon himself, he offered himself upon the cross to satisfy the justice of God for the sins man had committed. The virtue and merit of Christ’s life and death became that of the believer, and justified him in the sight of God. Here was a changed relation of man towards God. The virtue of Christ’s death purified his soul from sin, and, being clothed with his righteousness, he was pure, holy, and acceptable in the beloved.
The Savior had made a special promise of the Holy Spirit to those who believed in him. But no one received this spirit until after Christ’s death and resurrection. This Christ plainly told them. He must first be glorified, and if he did not go hence, the Comforter would not come. This promise was not made to Old Testament believers, nor to those who believed while Christ was yet in the flesh on earth, for the reason that their souls were not yet purified from sin. The love of self and the world was yet in possession of the heart, and the spirit and love of God could not dwell with it until the heart or soul was purged by the blood of Christ.
The reception of this spirit is what finished the work of conversion. By it the lost love and image of God was restored, and man received power to overcome the flesh, or carnal desires. Before this he was earthly minded, but now he became Heavenly minded. This is very plainly discerned in the conduct and conversation of the Apostles before and after they had received the Holy Spirit. They now stood in a new relation to God, and a new influence took possession of them and brought forth new fruits.
This is where Christ’s kingdom had its origin in the hearts of those true believers who were wrought by the spirit into the image of Christ.
Christ plainly told his Apostles, “Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of Heaven.” This amounts to a plain declaration that they were at that time not yet converted in that sense in which the Savior applied the word. This position is denied by great numbers of professed Christians; and to explain myself briefly, is the reason for this digression. In the first place, the plain declaration of the Savior should be enough to set the question at rest. He was speaking to his Apostles, and he said “ye” – that is, they to whom he was speaking “except ye be converted.” If they were at that time such converted persons as the Savior had in view, he could not have addressed them as he did.
We all know that the word “conversion” signifies change. When applied to man, it means that his views, sentiments, or faith is changed. But every such change in man is not the conversion that the Savior had in view. The language of the Apostles plainly shows that they had no conception of the nature of the kingdom that Christ was about to establish. And it also plainly betrays the self-love that dwelt in the heart. I do not allude to their language on this occasion only, but to their language generally while the Savior was with them in the flesh. The kingdom of Christ is a spiritual kingdom, and spiritual things must be spiritually discerned. The Apostles at that time had not yet received the Holy Spirit; consequently they could not discern the kingdom or the Savior’s description of it.
The greatest and most marvelous change in the mind, sentiments, or affections of man, which is recorded in the Bible, is that which was wrought on the Apostles and disciples by the power of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost, as well as what followed on other believers afterwards. From that time we do not observe a single expression betraying ignorance of the nature of Christ’s kingdom, or betraying self-love in themselves. The love of God in the heart was displayed in all they said and did, and their love to the brethren, and even their enemies, was perceptible in their actions. There was no asking who was to be the greatest, no asking who should sit on the right or left in the kingdom, no asking if they should smite with the sword, or if they should pray for fire to fall down from Heaven and consume their enemies. They prayed to God while being stoned to death, “Lord, lay not this sin to their charge,” and when they were buffeted, they went away rejoicing that they were accounted worthy to suffer shame for the name of Jesus. This was the change or conversion that I believe the Savior had in view when he addressed the Apostles as quoted above, and without which they could not enter into the kingdom of Heaven. God winked at the times of man’s ignorance, but now the time had come when the true light appeared, and he commanded all men everywhere to repent. The kingdom of Heaven was set up in the heart by the power of the Holy Spirit, and I conceive the change that the Savior alluded to was not wrought until this was done.
The reason why Christ said to his disciples that they could not bear those many things which he had to say unto them, was, because they were yet carnal; their hearts were not yet changed by the Holy Spirit. But when this spirit would come, he would lead them into all truth. This is the reason why God did not give man the commands under the Law, which he did under the Gospel. They were still carnal; they could not bear or comprehend Gospel commands. Their hearts were in the world, and to direct them in a way in which they would be required to sacrifice worldly interests would have deprived them of all comfort, and would have made them miserable. They could not "bear" it. Therefore, they had to be directed in such a way as to make them as happy as the circumstances of their condition and relation to God would permit them to be made. For this reason they were directed in such a way under the Law as to improve their material condition, yet still directing their attention to some future good and advanced condition far surpassing their present state.
It is very evident that Christ did not come into the world to improve its political condition, to advance worldly wisdom, to favor external interests, or in any way to improve the material condition of man. Every question having relation to any such end was evaded, and answered so as to tend to the spiritual welfare of man and the salvation of his soul. Man's inclinations were already too strongly bent in this direction, and Christ’s teaching and instructions were to draw him from it, and to direct him to the attainment of a higher, better, and more enduring substance. “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all other things shall be added.” He told us not to care for what we shall eat, or what we shall drink, or with what we shall be clothed. Rather, enter into life lame, maimed, or with one eye, than having all our members and be cast into Hell. And again, fear not those who kill the body, but after that can do no more. These were his teachings in a general way, and they show clearly the purpose that brought him into the world. The blessings, which are among the first of his recorded promises, are of a spiritual or eternal kind. I do not believe the blessings promised in the beginning of Christ's Sermon on the Mount are intended to be bestowed on anyone who is possessed of only one of the traits of character named therein, and destitute of all the others (if indeed this could be so). But I think the whole taken together is intended to form the complete character of a Christian, who from a motive of love to God obeys the further commands given in this sermon.
Moses, the Law, and all the legal ordinances and ceremonies could not take away sin or give the spirit of God. Christ did this, showing that His power far exceeded that of the Law. Christ, as the son over his own house, having given Moses the Law and ceremonies (as his servants) all the authority they possessed, could very properly at his coming assume higher authority than they possessed; and especially as he only authorized them to act until he came; and they by his authority spoke of his coming, and referred the faithful to him for a better knowledge of the will of God.
Christ at his coming said, “Of old it was said, ‘Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy.’” By that “of old,” He evidently meant that statute of Moses, which was under the old covenant based on the Law (for there it says so). But I as the new lawgiver say unto you, “love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them that despitefully use you and persecute you.” He also said, “Ye have heard that it hath been said, ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say unto you, that you resist not evil. But whosoever shall smite thee on the right cheek, turn to him the other also; and whosoever will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also.” Christ told us why we should do this. He wishes the children of God to be distinguished from those of the world. He said, “that ye may be the children of your Father which is in Heaven, for He maketh his sun to rise on the good and on the evil, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.” He will have us show our parentage by this, and how it distinguishes us from others. “For if you love them which love you, what reward have you? Or if ye salute your brethren only, what do you more than others? Do not even the publicans so?” Christ will have his disciples to conduct themselves so as to distinguish them from the world, and to show that they partake of the Divine nature.
All will admit that Christ did give commands, and that we must obey them. I would ask, what those here cited are, if they are not commands? Is there a single command given by our Savior that sounds more imperative than these here named? It was said of old, and they acted accordingly. But now I say unto you, do thus.
Christ told his disciples plainly that they would have to suffer. But he told them if they were persecuted in one city, they should flee to another. When his Apostles showed their self-love by asking who should be the greatest in the kingdom of Heaven, he reproved them severely by telling them in very emphatic language that, unless they were converted and became as little children, they could not enter into His kingdom at all. And when several of them asked Him whether they should pray for fire to come down from Heaven and consume their enemies, He told them they did not know what manner of spirit they were of. When Peter drew his sword, the Savior told him to put up his sword in his place. All Christ’s conduct and actions were in accordance with these teachings and declarations. “When he was reviled, he reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to Him that judgeth righteously.” Peter said that He left us an example that we should follow His steps. I would ask our opponents, what is the example of Christ, which we are to follow?
These are Christ’s direct teachings, and they are as plain as I would know how to make language. If the Savior did not mean this, I am at a loss to know what the purpose of His language was. Every syllable of His teaching was in this spirit of passive submission and non-resistance; and every action of His life was in accordance with the same spirit.
In view of the charge of Moses, that we shall hear Christ, and His own repeated declarations that we must obey His commands and do the will of the Heavenly Father, it is highly important that we form correct conclusions in regard to what He did teach. “Not everyone that sayeth unto me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter into the kingdom of Heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in Heaven. Why call ye me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not the things which I say.” And again, “He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me. He that loveth me not, keepeth not my sayings. If ye love me, keep my commandments. The Father which hath sent me, gave me commandment what I should say, and what I should speak; and I know that His commandment is life everlasting.” What are we to understand by His commandment, if those here alluded to are not such? Go into the world and preach, and baptize is His command, but what are we to preach? Evidently what He preached and taught; and as He said, “Teach them to observe all things whatsoever I command you,” the first question with us should be, what are His commands? Then the Old Testament, reason, and necessity all must yield to Him, for Christ is supreme commander. The Old Testament, sound reason, and necessity – all harmonize with Christ’s teaching, if examined and directed by the spirit of God; but if it should be dark to us that we cannot bring them to harmonize, we must yet give Christ supremacy, for we are commanded to take every thought captive under obedience to Him.
Paul said that the mind shall be in us, which also was in Christ Jesus. How are we to know Christ’s mind if not by His words and actions? The Scribes and Pharisees evidently understood the Savior to teach non-resistance, or else they would not have concluded as they did: “If we let this man thus alone, all men will believe on Him, and the Romans shall come and take away both our place and nation.” The Christian nations are the greatest warriors known, and it is often asserted that the best Christians make the best soldiers. If this is so, why did these wily and sagacious Jews come to the conclusion they did? If Christ’s religion made them better soldiers than they were before, why could the Romans more easily take away their place and nation than if they were not Christians? The same argument is made use of now against the non-resistant doctrine. “If all men would do so, what would become of the country and nation?” they say.
So long as the Apostles hearts where not changed by the Holy Spirit, they could not rightly understand the Savior’s doctrine or comprehend his meaning when He spoke of His kingdom, hence the expressions before alluded to. But after they had received this spirit, we hear them make no more such expressions, but all their teachings, acts, and deeds harmonize and agree most perfectly with this self-sacrificing non-resistant spirit. Paul said in Romans 12, “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay,’ saith the Lord. Therefore, if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink; for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.” Doesn’t the Apostle here show an exact agreement with our idea of what the Savior taught? Again, Paul said in Ephesians 5, “Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; and walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God, for a sweet smelling savor.” This is very exactly to the point of Christ’s expression, when He commanded his disciples to love and do good to their enemies. He said they shall do so, “that they may be the children of their Father in Heaven,” who deals so graciously with the children of men as to send rain and let His sun shine on good and evil. The evil and unjust are God’s enemies. The expressions of Paul and Christ are very nearly in the same words and surely mean the same thing. “Be ye followers of God as dear children.” The more obedient a child is to a parent, the dearer he or she is; and parents do address them with expressions of endearment. But such children as are disobedient are not usually addressed as dear children. Children who love their parents and are attached to them usually imitate their good example. Therefore, the Apostle addressing his fellow believers said that, as dear children, they shall obey God. Since they have been made children of God by faith, and partakers of the Divine nature by the spirit of God, heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ, He will have them show their birth, nature, and nationality by displaying in their deeds and actions the distinctive attributes of the parent. But Paul said further, we shall “walk in love.” What is walking in love? We have all experienced a sense of love, and know what it is; but this is a thing that we cannot command in ourselves, nor can others command it in us; and, if we do experience the sensation, it is not walking in it. We read a great deal in the scriptures about walking: walking in the ways of the Lord, in the Law of the Lord, in the ways of their Father; walking in the ways of the ungodly, in sin, in unrighteousness, etc.; and walking before the Lord, with God, worthy of our vocation, etc. It is evident, therefore, that to walk, in the sense here intended, is meant our words, deeds, and actions. These shall be in accordance with the idea expressed by that in which we are said to walk. To walk in love, then, is evidently intended to mean that we shall speak, do, and act the part which love would dictate. But towards whom shall we thus conduct ourselves, or walk? Evidently towards all men – even our enemies. Christ especially mentions them, our friends he need not mention. Nature will teach us this, for even the Gentiles do so. But the Apostle makes his meaning very plain by telling us how we shall love and walk. He said, “Walk in love as Christ also has loved us, and gave himself for us.” Christ loved us when we were His enemies, and showed His love by giving himself for us! While we were acting in defiance to the spirit of His grace, He loved us and gave himself for us, and washed us in His own blood! Is it not evident, then, that if we walk in love, as Christ loved us, we cannot take the life of any man? The Apostle’s language is in complete agreement with what Christ taught in His Sermon on the Mount. We can take no other sense out of it without doing violence to plain language. People sometimes say “they can love a man and smite him, they are not angry with those against whom they fight in battle, and by prosecuting a man for crime, they are doing him good.” But it would be hard to convince a man that you love him, when you are thrusting at him with a sword or bayonet. At least it would not be “walking in love” towards him. Christ did not walk thus towards us. He could have prayed to his Father and He would have given him legions of angels to punish His wicked and malicious enemies. He gave Himself for us, our sins pierced His soul, and the wrath He was under for our sins caused Him to sweat blood. Thus he loved us, and thus He walked towards us; and the Apostle will have us to lay down our life, rather than take that of another. John said, “If we say we know God, and do not keep his commandments, we lie and the truth is not in us. But if we keep his word, then verily the love of God is perfected in us.” And again, “Herein is the love of God manifested towards us, because God sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him.” To follow God and walk in love is evidently then to manifest our love, by our deeds and actions, in the way that God manifested His love towards us: namely, by His dealings with us.
The Epistles and Acts of the Apostles, throughout, breathe this passive non-resistant spirit, and without doing violence to their language, no one can gather anything else from them. Their actions, or walk, and conduct throughout as well, show how they were led by the spirit, and how they understood the Savior. Paul said, “Being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it; being defamed, we entreat; we are made the filth and off-scouring of all things unto this day.” Not a single instance of resistance of evil is recorded, or a command given that can be tortured into such an idea.
One of our opponents, endeavoring to prove “non-resistance a false doctrine,” says, “I grant that the Gospel, adopted and followed out, would prevent war.” This is all we assert and shows that the language of the Gospel is so plain, and our position so strongly maintained therein, that even our opponents are constrained to admit its truth! Whoever adopts the Gospel and follows it out will not engage in war. But this will not prevent those who do not adopt and follow it out from doing so. No worldly Government can adopt and follow out the Gospel. Government is founded upon law and justice, and this must have the executive power of the sword. The Gospel is founded on grace and mercy, and the lawless and violent will not regard this. This same author says, “Christ teaches the individual, and not the State.” And again, “Governments have no future beyond this life, therefore they are not directly addressed by the Gospel message.” This we admit, therefore it was not expected, nor intended, that Government should “adopt and follow out the Gospel.” But, can anyone deny that it was intended that those who are addressed in the Gospel should also adopt and follow it out? The individuals are addressed, and it is intended and expected that they will “adopt and follow out the Gospel,” and what then? Why, according to the Author’s own admission, “war will be prevented.” I would ask the Author whether there ever was a Christian who did not “adopt and carry out the Gospel.” [5]
The mass of mankind did not receive or accept the benefits of Christ’s mission, and their relation to God was consequently not changed by the Gospel. “He came to his own but his own did not receive him, but as many as received him, he gave power to become the sons of God.” To those who did not believe on him, he said that they shall die in their sins, and where he goes they cannot come. They shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides upon them; their sin remains and they are condemned already. Christ came to restore the lost image in man, and establish the kingdom of Heaven within him. Everyone can perceive that this work was only wrought in those who received Him, who believed in His name, or who were converted. But the condition of those who did not believe was not changed. They remained in their sins under the Law and condemnation where all men, both Jews and Gentiles, lay before the advent of Christ, or even before the giving of the Law or the choosing of Israel. Their relation to God was not changed, their hearts were the same as before, and their self-love was not destroyed. Consequently, they still remained where they had been since the fall of man. These have no new command under the Gospel other than the invitation to repent and believe the Gospel, but as long as they did not accept the invitation, God could give them no better command than that which He had long since given them, and under which they could enjoy all the happiness they were capable of enjoying in their present condition and relation. Christ is not their priest until they embrace Him by faith. Consequently, to them there is no change of the Law.
All those who truly believed on the Savior were cleansed from their sins and received the gift of the Holy Spirit, by the power of which their hearts were renewed, and the lost image was restored by shedding the love of God abroad in the heart. Self-love was destroyed, as injustice and violence are the effects of self-love, and so, the cause being removed, the effect must of necessity cease, and, as the principle of Divine love which took its place would lead its possessor to walk in love to all men, there would as a consequence be no necessity for Government. But as a vast majority of mankind did not believe, they could not receive the spirit, and their hearts continued unchanged, so that among these there will ever be unjust, lawless, and violent persons who need Government and the sword to keep them in subjection. The Savior labored to convict these unbelievers of their sins, and He grieved because they would not know the things that were for their peace. He gave them no commandment except that they repent and be converted. There was no necessity for any other commands to them, for obedience to no other command could change their relation to God, and this was the whole object of the Savior’s mission. Besides, they had all the moral commands in the Law.
Before the coming of Christ, the whole world, Jew and Gentile, moral and immoral, just and unjust, were under sin. Their relation to God was the same, except that those who believed had the promise of justification through what Christ would do at His coming. Their faith brought consolation and hope with it, but they did not realize their hope in this life. Those who did not believe in Christ’s coming stood in the same relation to God as if there had never been a promise given. Yet they had the same law written in their hearts as the others had, and if they obeyed its moral teaching they enjoyed the natural reward of earthly prosperity and happiness, which was promised to faithfulness under the Law. Thus, after Christ came, those who did not believe were not benefited by the Gospel. Their relation to God was not changed. They remained where they were before in the world and under the kingdom of this world, and were in no way relieved from any duty or deprived of any privilege, interest, or reward that faithfulness to moral duties entitled them to before.
Christ’s kingdom is not of this world; therefore, He did not interfere in the affairs of the world. He recognized the kingdom of this world and its authority, as one King recognizes that of another kingdom or nation. But he gave the kingdom, or those in it, no command except the one before alluded to. He came to establish His kingdom, and as there may be said to have been only one kingdom on earth previously (all nations and kingdoms together composed the kingdom of this world), He had to take the subjects who would compose His kingdom out of that of this world. To these, having been brought into a new relation, and their circumstances changed, Christ gave new commandments. All the commands Christ gave must be considered as given to His disciples only. [6]
God had created man in a supremely happy state. This happiness consisted in the love of God and fellowship with Him. This love and fellowship was restored to the believer and constituted a source of exceeding joy and comfort to Him. Christ said that we cannot serve God and Mammon. God will not dwell in a heart filled with the world or worldly care. Therefore, He purges the heart of these, and gives such a law to His subjects as will preserve them from the evil influence the world would exert upon them. If we invest a person with the principles and virtues that Christ commanded to His disciples, is the image not divine? God is love, and those who love dwell in God, and God in them. These commands are all in love, and show to what stature we must be wrought if we bear the image of Christ.
The Holy Spirit imparts the love of God, and brings us into fellowship with God and His Son, Jesus Christ; and this affords infinitely more happiness than all the world can give, and enables its possessor to be joyful under persecution, affliction, scoffing, derision, or whatever the world may inflict upon us. In short, no man can take this joy from us. To show that we prize the love of God higher than anything in the world is an honor to God, and to obey Christ’s command of not resisting evil, or contending for earthly treasures or worldly honors, shows the value we set on heavenly things. If Christ had enjoined on His followers the duty to defend their personal rights and liberties, to serve office, to exert themselves to uphold the Government, or to discharge obligations that our opponents would impose upon us; what anxiety and distraction of mind would it not create, and just in proportion would it draw the heart and affections away from God. But if the heart and affections are above where Jesus is, and we hold our earthly possessions as though they were not ours, then, when they are taken away, we can say, “The Lord hath given and the Lord hath taken away.” If all things work together for good to those who love the Lord, then whatever befalls us must be for our good, [7] and we will commit all to the Lord who judges righteously. Must not this state of resignation and submission to the will of God be the happiest that he could have devised? In short, doesn’t the plan and all that is connected with it prove that it is Divine?


[5] A fairer question would be, was there ever was a Christian who did not “adopt and carry out the Gospel” and who, in the very act of not carrying out the Gospel, was at that moment following Christ? Unfortunately, not all “Christians” follow Christ perfectly all the time. “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.” There are good Christians, bad Christians, and Christians that make me want to say, “If you are going to call yourself a Christian, then please call me something else!” I leave it up to Him to decide whether or not each person who says, “Lord, Lord,” is truly a Christian, for only He is qualified to judge the heart. In the mean time, I will not hesitate to call certain actions un-Christian.

[6] This must be the case. Otherwise, people would be expected to obey before they believed.

[7] The key phrase here is all things work together. There is no situation that the Lord cannot redeem.

 2007/8/13 22:05Profile

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