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CHAPTER V.-Practical Inferences.

Database

CHAPTER V.-Practical Inferences.

James Dodson

1. If the doctrines of this essay be sound, we can be at no loss to know the source of the disorders and distresses of the nation, They are the consequences of our national rebellion, and are tokens of God’s indignation. The Lamb has been provoked to wrath by the sins of which we have been guilty. The blasphemy, profanity, infidelity, idolatry, and impenitence; the covetousness, dishonesty, Sabbath-violation, and oppression of the nation, have risen up before him "as a cloud." These are actual sins. They have their root, not only in the natural depravity of fallen man, but in the national rejection of God, his Christ, and his law: in the impious attempt of this nation to manage its national affairs as if there were no Christ, no Bible, no religion, no church of God. Such dishonour done to the Eternal Son of God will not be permitted to pass unpunished. The history of nations, especially of ancient Israel, is full of instruction and of warning to this effect. They were idolatrous, sensual, proud, and rebellious. Judgment after judgment administered correction. They refused to repent, and Assyria, Babylon, Tyre, Edom, Moab, and other great nations of antiquity, have been for ages blotted out of the list of kingdoms, and their places, and chief cities made an utter ruin, while Israel has been scattered to the four winds of heaven. The nations cannot prosper without God. And where the Bible is, they must honour Christ or perish, (Is. 60:12.)

2. It is the duty of the Lord’s people to refrain from taking any part in administering unscriptural institutions of government. Christ’s people are "called and chosen and faithful," (Rev. 17:14.) He calls them to come out of the world, 2 Cor. 6:17, "Wherefore come out from among them and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you." They are not literally to leave the busy world, and betake themselves, as fanatics have often foolishly imagined, to bleak and uninhabited deserts. They are in the world, and they are kept in it; for they are "the salt of the earth:" they preserve society from entire moral putrefaction. Christians are "the lights of the world:" they make known by their testimony and example, the way of salvation and the will of God. They are not even at liberty to abandon their post, and for the sake of their own ease, or supposed higher sanctification, to cease to have so much intercourse with the world as is requisite for the execution of their high and holy functions. But they must beware of accommodating their doctrines or their conduct, to the evil maxims, and sinful practices of the world, whether these are imbodied in the habits of society, in its business, or in its amusements, or incorporated with the national civil arrangements. "If the salt have lost its savour, wherewith shall it be salted? It is thenceforth good for nothing," (Matt. 5:13.)

There is no diversity of opinion regarding the Christian’s duty carefully to avoid identifying himself with the common private and social immoralities of the times. But to say that Christians ought not to identify themselves with the public and national immoralities, by swearing the statute oaths, by holding office, by exercising the elective franchise, or by sitting as jury-men in courts of law, or by doing any other act whereby a citizen becomes one with the nation—to say this, seems to many to be fanatical in the extreme. But why not apply the same rule of action to immoral civil systems which the apostle prescribes, in the passage quoted above, to the early Christians as the rule of their conduct in a heathen state of society? especially, as it is admitted to be a rule of duty, and acted upon by all consistent Christians in reference to immoralities of every other description. Are there two codes of Christian morals? Does that, which in an individual is sinful, become sanctified when adopted and carried into effect by a nation? No. God is one. And wherever immorality is found, let it not receive the countenance of the Christian. Whether it be private vice, or public; whether it be personal rebellion against Jesus Christ, or a national rejecting of Him and his law; whether it be private dishonesty, or public oppression, let it meet the firm and decided rebuke of the servant of Christ. Christ his Master allows sin no where, it matters not by whom or under what circumstances committed.

And let it not be said, how shall the evil be remedied? This much we know assuredly—that "the damnation of them is just, who do evil that good may come," Rom. 3:8. But is there no power in truth? Has the Spirit of God no energy? Is God’s arm shortened that it cannot save? We are told that the Redeemer "will destroy that wicked one with the spirit of his mouth, and with the brightness of his coming,"2 Thess. 2:8. The witnesses shall "overcome by the blood of the Lamb, and the word of their testimony," Rev. 12:11. It is not by squabbling at political meetings, by ballot-boxes, and by holding a ticklish balance between contending factions, that God’s people are to demolish the systems of civil misrule that plague the nations. "The little stone," smites the image, and it crumbles into dust.

Let Christians come out of all unholy political organizations, lest instead of benefiting themselves or the nations, they "become partakers of their sins, and thus become partakers of their plagues." When God’s people do their duty in this matter, "the end" will soon come.

3. The disciples of Christ should endeavour to accomplish a reformation.—Their weapons are few, but they are mighty; the sword of the Spirit, and the prayer of faith. We would not have the children of God to be either silent or idle, while the clouds of the divine anger are settling down upon the land. It is then a time to be up and active. Let the word of their testimony be boldly, yet meekly uttered: not in anger, but with solemnity. Let them lift up the voice and cry. It ought not to be disguised that the voice of Christ’s ministers does not utter upon the nations, calls loud and frequent, in proportion to their sin and danger. There is not faith enough. The religion of the age is cowardly. Fear of the infidel and senseless cry of "church and state," closes the lips against the utterance of the most solemn truths. The remedy must begin to operate here first. Christ’s disciples must be better taught, more enlightened, and more uncompromising. Then the conflict will begin in earnest, and once begun, it will soon terminate. The truth that, by the blessing of God, Christianized the Roman empire in less than three centuries, will rapidly overcome the enemies of these last days.

4. The Lord’s people, while endeavouring to bring about a general reformation upon Christian principles, should, in the mean time, deport themselves with meekness.—We would have none act the part of disturbers of the peace of society, or become, in any way, wanton violaters of the good order of social life. "The weapons of our warfare are not carnal," 1 Cor. 10:4. The intelligent Christian entertains too high a regard for the interests of social order, to disturb it unnecessarily. His is not the character that delights in scenes of tumult—in confusion and riot. He likes better the closet of prayer. True, he may become the occasion of strife. Imitating the example of Paul, and of a greater by far than Paul, Jesus Christ himself, the faithful witness may awaken the opposition of violent adversaries. The word of God is "a sharp two-edged sword," it is "quick and powerful, and pierces to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart," Heb. 4:12. When it pierces the hearts of sinners, unless they yield to its power, they often gnash with their teeth and run upon the messenger who bears it. For these things the advocate of truth is not responsible. He has done his duty, let none of these things move him. Living a life of faith and holiness; keeping himself unspotted from the world and of blameless conversation, he may trust Jesus Christ for ultimate deliverance and for the success of his testimony. For the Messiah must reign "till all his enemies are made his footstool."

[go to APPENDIX.]