Thoughts on the Similitudes of the Kingdom; Part 11

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Now take a glance at the tare field, at Christendom, and observe the place that that system which calls itself the Church has in it. At first small, like a grain of mustard seed, but increasing until, from being persecuted, it was courted by the world. Then to ingratiate itself with the world, to grasp at its power and influence, to enhance and protect its own interests, and at last to wield and decide the destinies of nations.
Nothing can be a stronger proof of the ruin of the Church, of the abnormal condition of the kingdom. Mysteries truly!
Sad to say the professing Church is a part of the world. One section of this world-church openly and unblushingly professes to rule the world. But the other sects seek the world's means to propagate what they call Christianity, and go a begging for the world's gold and silver to establish their cause. When the Lord sent His disciples to preach the gospel to every creature, He did not tell them to raise funds from the Gentiles. No doubt it is both a duty and privilege for the Church to maintain the Lord's ambassadors and servants, but to accept from the world is a dishonor to Him, and manifests a want of faith and love.
The kingdom of heaven, through the unfaithfulness of man, has become a power in the earth, has taken the place of the Roman beast. From Daniel we learn that the kingdom of the Son of man will suddenly destroy the Roman power when in the midst of its greatness. The stone will smite the feet of the image, "and immediately it will become like the dust of the threshing floor. But the kingdom is deferred, and the " mysteries of the kingdom" are now running their course. Hence the setting aside of the Roman power was gradual, and it existed long after the present form of the kingdom was set up. Yet that power soon began to wane and to fall abroad by internal convulsions. The existence of the early Christian, was an element foreign to the power of the empire; hence the extensive persecution of them and the endeavor to extirpate them. The fourth beast as such had passed, or was passing away. The precise moment when it ceased to exist we may not be able to determine. But may not the Roman empire have existed as a mere power in the world after its prophetic character as a "Beast" had ceased 'I
Be this as it may, it was not necessary, since the kingdom only existed in mystery, that the Roman power should immediately collapse. Several years elapsed while the servants of the King went hither and thither laying the foundation of the kingdom. By degrees this grew, and that declined.
But while the Roman empire was gradually declining, there was perhaps a quicker growth in power of that which was to take the place of the least. The kingdom of heaven in the keeping of man became a world-power as prefigured in, the parable, and soon showed its world-character. Not many years after Julian's attempt to restore Paganism, Christianity was established by a decree of the Roman senate. In A.D. 38S, Theodorias I. called upon the senate to choose between Paganism and Christianity, and Christianity was chosen by a large majority. Here is the patronage of the world, and soon the leaders in the professing Church with rapid strides hastened to seize the power which had just dropped from the enfeebled hand of Paganism; and when the kingdom had assumed due proportion in power and extent, the Roman power was set aside, and the kingdom of heaven in the form it had taken through the unfaithfulness of man, succeeded it as a power in the earth. Then, if not before, it could be said, as to John in the Apocalypse, "The Beast that was and is not."
A power like its predecessor; yet not merely secular, but along with that, wielding a terrific spiritual power over the minds and consciences of men, far more debasing and enslaving than any other tyranny can possibly be.
The Barbarians in Rome held the Ecclesiastics of the day in the utmost reverence; and thus the kingdom being in appearance a thing of this world, only slid easily into the place of authority, and exercised its power.
Soon it became aware of its influence and power. The branches of the tree spread amazingly, and the birds and the beasts soon reposed under their shadow. Indeed the rapid spread of the profession of Christianity, the complete and sudden subjugation of men's minds to the authority and dictation of the priests, have been the astonishment of historians.
But to require this no art was neglected. Principles of morality were sacrificed, perjury and murder were unscrupulously used by the leaders to extend their power; and among those who found not only shelter and protection in the so-called Church, but even affluence, honors and power, may be numbered blasphemers, _infidels, fornicators, and murderers. To rule the world by any means was the one sole aim of the rulers in the kingdom of heaven.. O how unlike Him whom they professed to serve. He refused the kingdoms of this world and the glory of them when Satan offered them. He would have nothing from Satan. Of whom have they received their power and influence'? It was not God's intention that His kingdom should have such a place as we see the professing Church now has. Alas! the rulers in the kingdom of heaven, those who hold office and exercise sway in the world-Church, have accepted the world, the least considerable among them is covetous of worldly influence, of the world's gold. They have betrayed their trust; have dishonored the King, their Lord, and must suffer the just punishment of their terrible evil.
This peculiar phase of the kingdom determines in some measure the path of the Christian. To take no part in supporting and helping on this great evil must- bring upon us the hatred and persecution of them who uphold it. We by no means assert that no Christian is found aiding and abetting it. There are many who do so, and sincerely believe that they are serving God in so doing. But we know that they are blinded by tradition and prejudice, by worldliness and by dislike of the cross, which the true path of separation lays upon them.
To depart from evil is imperative upon the followers of Jesus, and He has shown us in His word that the whole system is evil in His sight. We are called to be witnesses for Him, and for this it is not enough to be born again, and to rest upon His shed blood for salvation. Testimony requires much more. No one can be a true witness unless he is saved; but a true witness for Christ is outside this world-Church-" outside the camp"-and his position as well as his words bear testimony to the rejected One. Few comparatively have sufficient energy of faith to take this step. Now as then, " the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force." But if by it we are exposed to the hatred of the worldly-minded, it secures to us all the blessings and privileges of sharing in the sufferings of Christ. He was rejected and out by His own people; we may be cast out likewise by those who profess faith in His name. But when He comes to take the kingdom, the power, and the glory, He will remember those who partake in His rejection now, and they shall enter into His joy, and sit upon His throne. Let us, then, be content; yea, peaceful and happy in bearing unmerited scorn and contempt, knowing that our reward is at hand. " Blessed are ye when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man's sake. Rejoice ye in that day and leap for joy, for behold your reward is great in heaven: for in the like manner did their fathers unto the prophets," Luke 6:22,2322Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man's sake. 23Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy: for, behold, your reward is great in heaven: for in the like manner did their fathers unto the prophets. (Luke 6:22‑23).