Symud i'r prif gynnwys
Cuddio Rhestr Erthyglau

2 erthygl ar y dudalen hon



OUR PULPIT THE KINGDOM OF GOD. By the Rev. the Hon. James Adderley, M.A. Preached at St. Paul'i Blessed are they that do hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled.MATT. V. 6. IT is a common thing to find people saying that they have no need of creeds or theology, that the whole of Chris- tianity is contained in the Sermon on the Mount. That's my religion." In a certain sense it is true that the Sermon on the Mount is the essence of Chris- tianity, but most of us who make any sort of attempt to carry it out in daily life find ourselves more and more thank- ful that there is also a Creed and a theology behind it, and that we believe.. in them. It is difficult enough as it is to face the call of Christ, the Lord, the King of Glory, the Divine Saviour, but it is easier if we do it in the Name of the Father, and of 'the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. The principal teaching of our Lord concerns the Kingdom of God, a spiritual state, based on the supremacy of God, our Father, manifested to us in human nature in the Person of the Son of God, who is also the Son of Man, Jesus of Nazareth, and made for us and all men a great, permanent, continuous reality by the Holy Spirit. Jesus has, we. believe, opened the Kingdom of Heaven to all believers. All men can, if they will, come under the dominion of God. If they will, they will find themselves in a new atmosphere. Love and truth will be seen and understood to be the true life for all; eternal life is to know God and Jesus Christ, whom He has sent. This Kingdom of Heaven is the key to life with each individual and with humanity at large. It can begin at once here on earth for each man and for all mankind. Our Lord showed us this in His own Person. His sacred humanity was itself the Kingdom. God reigned in undis- puted sway over His human nature. In Jesus we see the amazing spiritual capa- city of human nature if only it will submit itself to God, recognising God as the Father and ruled by the Spirit. This has also been seen from time to time in the lives of those whom we call saints in a minor degree. A saint like St. Francis of Assisi sur- rendeted himself to the call of Christ and realised more than most of us this Kingdom in himself. The One Great Factor. For him God was the one great factor in the universe. He abandoned himself 1;0 this great reality, and he found the Kingdom. It was for him a home of God and His family down here below. He moved about freely and happily in the Father's house, the whole earth, not a sectional Church, and all around him there spread love and truth and sweet- ness. He was not content that this should be merely a spiritual enjoyment for himself. It must be shared it could be shared by all who would make the same venture. Thousands, even tens of thousands, followed him and the wilder- ness of Europe blossomed as a rose. So it had happened in tha days of the Gospel. 'The disciples of Jesus had fol- lowed Him and found it. So it might happen again now if only we would be- lieve and make the experiment. Now the beatitudes of the Sermon on the Mount are the prelude of our Lord's teaching about this most delightful Kingdom which He offers us. They describe the essential character of those who will join Him in the great adven- ture and produce the Kingdom. These a,re the Kingdom-makers who will be blessed by God they will be happy with the happiness of God; they will share the creative power of God and His joy in creation. Against them will be -ranged the forces of the world, which is the exact antithesis of the Kingdom. The World is mankind organising itself and its social life in defiance of God, [repudiating the suggestion of Christ. The Kingdom of Heaven is mankind feeing organised by God, submitting itself to God, led by the Spirit, recreating the earth. The Kingdom is the earth as it might be, as God intended it to be. The ivorld is the earth as man in his foolish- iiess and obstinacy has made it. Spirit of Kingdom-makers. The spirit of the Kingdom-makers is the Spirit of God. Their character is God's character, or, shall I say, Christ's character—the character of sons of men ■who are becoming sons of God and be- having as sons of God in the midst of a iworld that ignores or discounts Him. The Sermon on the Mount is Christ's call to mankind to join Him in recreat- ing the earth with'God. These blessed ones are those whose moral quality is such that God can work with them to make out of it the new Kingdom. These qualities, then, which Christ calls blessed are therefore best understood if we think of them as Godward rather ithan manward. Blessed., are the poor in spirit, the meék, the merciful. If (We imagine poor-spirited men, meek men towards others only, over-merciful men, jwe are inclined to pronounce them some- what weak, as milksops. They are the slaves -which, not UxLjusUy, excited the cyaioal wrath of N iestzsche. But if we nk of sudh qualities as G, as- j ijirtHses Cathedral last SuRday. to follow Christ and remake the earth under God's orders, they assume a. dif- ferent aspect altogether. The poor in .spirit' are found to be the men who are so utterly dissatisfied with the world-spirit that they have finally emptied them- selves of it, and have resolved to subject themselves to God and God alone. They .y believe so absolutely that God is right and that God can do the thing, that they are content to evacuate their own earth- bound minds and wait for the fullness of God's Spirit to fill them. Poor to themselves, they are rich towards God. Gcd rightly abases the proud and gives grace to the humble. The man who asserts himself as against God makes a world, perhaps, but he disqualifies him- self for co-operation with God in making the Kingdom of Heaven. Strength of the Meek. The same may be said of the meek. The' meek man is tremendously strong in God, The world surges around him, trying to drag him down to its own level, ridiculing him for his high ideals, criticising him because he does not suc- ceed at once, scoffing at him. But he does not answer back; not because he has no reply, but because the world will not listen. It cannot understand him. He will not cast his pearls before swine. He keeps himself in reserve. He trusts God. He knows God's side is the right one. God will be vindicated in time. Time will justify this meek Christian .as time has justified the meekness of Jesus in His passion, when He stood. silent before Herod and Pilate. The laugh will be on the other side when God comes into His own. This is the meek- ness that inherits the earth, because the earth was meant to be the scene of the Kingdom of Heaven. Blessed are the Peacemakers. So with the peacemakers. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. The world sneers at a League of Nations or at the possibility of putting an end to class wars. Com- petition is looked upon as the law of life. Not so with the Kingdom. Love, brotherhood, co-operation, peace—they must be right, because God is Love, and they must be possible, because God is Almighty. Here, again, the purely human peace- maker is often wrong; the man who slurs over real and vital diffe-rences, the man who will not fight about anything. Christ came not to send peace at any price. On the contrary, He came with a sword, to divide families as well as nations. The peacemaker who is blessed is the one who lets God make peace at His own time and in His own way. He is the child of God just because he dare not make peace except in company with thfev Father. He is one of a family, the family of God. His politics are the domestic politics of the Heavenly home. He fights when God tells him to, and makes peace when God commands it. His terms fare God's terms. Perhaps we can understand this spirit of the beatitudes best of all from the consideration of the blessing attached by our Lord to the mourners. It is strange thart this beatitude has been, perhaps, the most misunderstood of all. It is not a beatitude of mourners in the ordinary senæ-mourners who mourn over their losses and misfortunes. It is quite true that our Lord does comfort such mourners as no other comforter can. He weeps at the grave of Lazarus. He is, indeed, the consoler of all unhappy people, and, taken verbally apart from the context, we have a perfect right to use this beattitude as bringing joy to the sorrowful. Christian- and Worldly Reformer. The difference between a Christian re- former and a worldly one lies just in this. The worldly reformer is concerned about economic mistakes, about unneces- sary and ignorant failures. The Chris- tian reformer is concerned about the sin of the matter. The worldly reformer is content to achieve a comfortable world; the Chris- tian would still be unhappy if we became comfortable and remained in sin. So you will find many good people fall- ing far short of the Christian ideal, and yet doing much good social reform work. They will clear out slums because they have found in the past that slums pro- duce a weak race that cannot fight. They will insist upon educational re- form because they fear that an ignorant race cannot fight a well-educated one. The Christian reformer abolishes slums because slums are wicked, because they are unjust, because they are a denial of home, because they are un- worthy of God's children. He wants education for all, because to starve the minds of children is as wicked as to starve their bodies. He mourns over the world as he finds it. He weeps with our Lord not only over the graves of the dead, but over the blind and irreligious city of Jerusalem. He knows what the earth might be, and he is unhappy so long as it remains what it is. He mourns over the wreck of humanity as some of us have moornoooverth mined villages and cities of France and Belgium. His is a s&cml sorrow. It is the sorrow of over a f oo -wwlti God knows wha.t Paradise was and what the earth might be again. If, then, we would have the comfort of God, if we would be. happy and blessed co-operators with Him, we must take it all very seriously we must mourn. If we could really mourn over the state of the London streets at the present time it might per- haps cloud the joy of our peace celebra- tions, but in the end it would advance the cause of the Kingdom more than all our fireworks can do. Some years ago, when Mr. Stead pub- lished his revelations of the impurity of London, a great many people' were very indignant. But it was that great pro- phet, Canon Body, who spoke the truth when he said, I expect nothing from London indignant; I want London re- pentant." God sees a sadder sight to- night in this cathedral if He sees one impure soul, one covetous mind, one selfish heart than any of us have seen at Ypres or Albert or Peronne, or in the graveyards of France. But the beati- tudes whether of mourning or peace- making or anything else will never be popular. If they became popular they would be worldly, and therefore opposed to the Kingdom of Heaven. Face the Music. It is not surprising, then, that our Lord makes His longest and most em- phatic beatitude the one that blesses those who are persecuted for righteous- ness sake. Blessed are ye when men shall revile you and persecute you, and say all manner of evil against you falsely, for My sake." We have got to make up our minds to face the music of the world. All compromise with the spirit of the world is dangerous. It is best to be ready to find ourselves hated. One of the greatest spiritual dangers of the Church a4t the present day is that we are not hated. The world has so suc- cessfully tamed the Church that it has ceased to fear it or to think it Vorth persecuting. It is better from the world's point of view to keep the Church quiet by complimenting it on its efficiency than to run the risk of stirring up an inconvenient revival of Chris- tianity by persecuting it. Our Lord does not encourage fan- aticism, but he does warn us against a tame acquiescence in the ways o,f the world. We are to search our con- sciences and not be surprised if we court opposition. But we are to be quite sure that if we are persecuted, ijt is for Christ's sake and not for our own. If religious people are opposed nowadays, are they sure that it is because they are like Christ ? Many of us clergy are dis- liked very much, but I fear it is more often because we are not like Christ than because we resemble Him. It would, in- deed, be a blessed thing if we could feel that opposition, when it comes, is be- cause we are faithfully reflecting Christ's image 6n the earth. i Of the Highest Importance. It becomes, then, of the highest im- portance that we Churchpeople should show in our lives the character of the Beatitudes, regardless of whether it is popular or not. It is this which ought to be the distinguishing mark of Christians. We have made too much of the Church- going test and too little of the test of character. Yet all the time it is that which the world looks at. Again and again we hear it said, "Your Church- going seems to do you very little good. You are just the same as those who make no profession." The sailors on a war- ship said to a Naval Chaplain, Men who attend your services are just the same as we who don't." It is signifi- cant that our Lord willed to produce a certain character in His disciples before He proceededto give them a Church or Sacraments. He gave them an ideal, the ideal of the Kingdom, before He gave them an institution. We have, then, to begin over again where He began, if we are going to reconvert the world. Blessed are they that hunger and, thirst after righteousness." and" Ex- cept your righteousness shall exceed the rightemsness: of the Scribes and Phari- sees, ye &hall in no case enter into the Kingdom of Heaven." There was already a Church in our Lord's day, the Jewish Church. It had its ordinances, its wor- ship, its clergy, it rules. The Temple was very well attended. Our Lord turned some of the congregation out with a whip. If the Kingdom of Heaven was to be reached, the righteousness of the old institution must be exceeded. Let us ask ourselves in what way our Angli- can righteousness exceeds the righteous- ness of the Jewish Church. What ethi- cal aims have we that they had not ? What ecclesiastical sins did they commit which we do not ? Our Lord never found fault with their faithful observance of the law.; their Church duties were ex- cellently performed. Our energies are largely devoted to rating people for not doing the tilings which the Phari- sees did. We forget that the call of our Lord takes for granted that so far as we do as well as the Pharisees we are right, but we are required by Him to go much further. Our righteousness is to exceed theirs. Our whole moral and spiritual outlook is to be on a higher plane than theirs. Has it in fact reached-it ? We axe to hunger and thirst after a righteousness far greater than any of which the best Jews dreamed. Mere observance of religious duties, punctuality and punctiliousness, tradi- tional, conventional piety. All that, per- haps, but more, if we to enter the Kingdom. The Kingdom of Heaven is like some beautiful picture which we see for the ftrst time after haying-feeen satis- fied with minor prints and daubs. It is like a glorious symphony which we hear after having thought that there was no- thing greater in music that hymn tunes or ragtime. What a revelation it is to an uneducated person or a person who has lived out of the world when he sud- denly comes in contact with Art at its highest. So that is Music, is it ? That is Drama? That is Architecture? The vision opens out a new idea which he never forgets. He feels within himself that life has derived a new meaning for him. He will never be satisfied with the old things again. They must be scrapped for ever. Thus, to these simple fisher- men, our Lord revealed the glory of the Kingdom of Heaven. A few of them dimly understood it. It caught their imagination. They might fail again and again in attaining it. Peter might deny his Master; Thomas might disbelieve in Him. But they had seen the Kingdom: they knew something now of this exceed- ing righteousness, this new earth in which God would dwell and rule, this happy blessed state of the poor, the meek, the merciful, the pure, who were God's family. Such are the men Christ wants. It may take centuries, but His Kingdom will come on earth as it is in Heaven. Already Satan is falling as lightning from the sky because these, this little flock of contemptible working-men, have seen a vision. To them the King- dom becomes a passion. They hunger and thirst after it. Without it they starve. The world is starving because it lacks it. A lady candidate for Parlia- ment is reported to have said that she was not one of the asses who believed in a Kingdom of Heaven on the earth. She might have added nor one of the apostles either." The Church, then, is to be a body of persons utterly discon- tented and dissatisfied with a world in which God is not recognised as king. So long as there is any department of human life, politics, art, religion, amusement, trade—it matters not what —which God does not predominate so long the Church is hungry. About ten years ago the unemployed hit upon a way of calling public attention to their condition by organising processions through the country so that everyone could see their wan and weary figures parading the richest country in the world. They were called the hunger mardiers. The Church should per- petually be on a hunger march through the streets and roads of the earth. Chris- tians should be known and felt to be starving because mankind is living with- out God. The world should feel this as it meets the Church. A nation flushed with victory over its enemies, a city that thinks it has provided for its inhabi- tants all that it can possibly want in the way of houses and wages and arma- ments, a Parliament that boasts that it has passed the best laws that can pos- sibly be devised, these should be brought face to face with a hungry, thirsty Church that, in spite of all these good things, is wanting something else. We want the Kingdom." "We want God." We want righteousness." That should be inscribed on the banners of these hunger marchers. Arnold Toynbee's Ambition. There was once a young political economist, Arnold Toynbee, after whom the great University Settlement in Whitechapel is 'named. He said very simply and humbly once, The only am- bition I have is to hunger and thirst after righteousness." He had a hand in working one of the greatest revolutions in our history, a revolution of thought. That sentence of his was itself a revolu- tion, for political economy in those days was not supposed to deal with righteous- ness. It was hard and cold and dismal, a matter of facts and figures cynically registered in rather dull books. Here comes a man and a Christian, fully equipped with the necessary knowledge, but full also of the spirit of the Sermon on the Mount. All I want is justice, God's Will, the Kingdom. And it is through him and through others like him that what is called "humanity" tempers the- political economy of the present day, and Social Reform is no longer made subservient to iron laws which were bed to God but were really the selfish wishes of covetous men. It is the want of this same spirit which, after twelve months since the cessation of hostilities, makes some of us wonder if true Peace can ever come. People call it humanity, but to us Christians it is more. Rather it is the true humanity which we know to be Divine, for Christ is God and Man. Oh that every Chris- tian disciple, before all else, would ask himself, Is there growing in me the spirit of the Sermon on the Mount? PIT 0 Have I put myself to school at the feet of Jesus ? If I am about to foe con- fly-mod do I expect henceforth, to be guided by the Spirit of Christ, who may call me into a path which the world will never tread? When I receive Holy Com- munion do I really believe that I have fed on Christ? Have I taken into my- self the Meat upon which He lived, to do His Father's will ? Do I feel within me the hunger and thirst after the right- eousness of the Kingdom ? You can test yourself easily. Are you selfish?" Do you live to please yourself ? Are you in- terested-in anything outside that which ministers to your com fort, your greed, your aihusement, your lust? Or, do you long to see God rule and Christ trium- phant ? Do you want everybody to be a Christian ? Do you want, to gain Heaven --not a mere selfish ease hereaf ter, but a Kingdom now on earth? Do you want your 1 ttle corner of the eaa-t,'h over which you hwe any influe-nee, lour home per- haps, with your wife and family, to be a sphere where God dominates all lives, where there is love and beauty and truth and purity and peace? Do you wani this spread everywhere? Do you love ,y mankind? Do you hate injustice? DOl" you hate avarice ? ¡ What are you Living For? What are you living for ? What are I you ready to die for ? In a crowd like ] this there must be hundreds who, during I the past five years, have given, up much for England, who have learnt to love our j dear country with a love that will never. die. There is something greater than that, and He who calls you is greater than any other person that has trod the surface of the earth. That something j is the Kingdom of God. That Persoa j is Jesus Christ our Lord. I