SOCIAL REFORM

 

The Church of God is now impaled on a tremendous dilemma: it is no less than a choice between some form of Socialism, and the Second Advent. For the Golden Age, it is agreed, must come: God's explicit pledges cannot fall to the ground: is it - this is the issue - to be erected by human effort, or created by Divine intervention? Christ has said. "The Son of Man shall send forth His ANGELS" - social reformers of adequate wisdom and irresistible might - "and they shall gather out of His kingdom ALL THINGS THAT CAUSE STUMBLING " - all social evils - "and THEM THAT DO INIQUITY - the incurable originators of social wrongs: then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father" (Matt. 13: 41).

 

ADMINISTRATION

 

Social Reform insists on judicial equity and administrative purity: the Kingdom of God, on our Lord's return, will be the quintessence of righteous administration. "With righteousness shall He judge, and reprove with equity; He shall smite the earth, He shall slay the wicked" (Isa. 11: 4). "The dream of all noble statesmen will have come true at last - a state so ordered that sin will be difficult, and goodness will be easy: the citizen's conduct will meet with instant recompense from an administration incorruptible and irresistible. Some have supposed that the Sermon on the Mount, brimming over with gentleness and inexhaustible patience towards the sinner, will be the law of the Kingdom the exact opposite is the truth; - for the oppressed and the poor there will be law-courts of swift and unerring power, and of perfect equity: tyranny - of despotism, or star-chamber, or papacy, or trust, or union, or secret society - can rear its head no more: each must give his due, and will get his due." He shall rule them with a rod of iron, as the vessels of the potter are broken to shivers " (Rev. 2: 27).

 

ENVIRONMENT

 

Social Reform lays an immense emphasis on Environment. "The doctrine of environment," as Dr. Campbell Morgan says, "had its death-blow in the garden of Eden": man is made or unmade from inside, not outside (Mark 7: 15): nevertheless a changed environment - in a lifted curse, vanished disease, and an imprisoned Hell - is essential for human bliss. (1) Men of science say that the tiger's fangs and claws are not original, but acquired: certain it is that a restoration of the conditions of Paradise will rob the lion and the bear of their rage, and substitute the fir-tree for the thorn (Isa. 55: 13); the little child shall play by the crevice in which once lurked the deadliest serpents, and the evil passions of the Fall be exorcised by almighty Power. (2) So also "the inhabitant shall not say, I am sick" (Isa. 33: 24): disease - except where supernaturally inflicted (Zech. 14: 18) - vanishes: life - except in the case of capital punishment for sin (Isa. 65: 20) - is prolonged throughout the Thousand Years (Rev. 20: 4): the ages of the Patriarchs return. (3) Best of all, Hell is incarcerated in the Pit. "It shall come to pass in that day, saith the Lord of hosts, that I will cause the prophets and the unclean spirit to pass out of the land (Zech. 13: 2): for the Abyss is sealed over Satan, that he should deceive the nations no more, until the thousand years should be finished " (Rev. 20: 3). Isa. 24:. 21. What but the miraculous intervention of God could create a threefold change of environment so drastic and sufficing?

 

EDUCATION

 

Social Reform works for universal education: but the education of God begins with the heart: so "the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord" - that is, saving knowledge - as completely as the ocean covers the sea-basin; "and He will destroy the veil that is spread over all nations" (Isa. 25: 7). 2 Cor. 4: 3, 4. Thus the Kingdom starts wholly regenerate: its kings - the co-heirs of Christ, saints of tried ability and tested holiness; its viceroys - Israel, all saved; its subjects - the Sheep of the Parable, saved Gentiles: it is the REGENERATION, when the Son of man shall sit on the throne of His glory. Probation throughout the first century of life will be granted to every soul born during the Kingdom: "the sinner being an hundred years old shall be accursed" (Isa. 65: 20). No land so remote, no climate so inclement, no tribe so savage, as to be outside the Kingdom of Christ: "ask of Me, and I will give thee the nations for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession" (Psa. 2: 8): "they shall all be taught of God " (John 6: 45; Isa. 54: 13).

 

DISARMAMENT

 

Social reform agitates for disarmament with profound conviction: nor need we wonder. Of the total revenue of the leading nations, something like one half, goes for war: what could this not alleviate, poured through the poverty of the world! But no 'league of peace,' can banish war: the controversy between God and the nations over the crucifixion of the Son of God has never been settled: "there is no peace to the wicked, saith my God" (Is. 57: 21). Rev. 6: 4; Jer. 25: 27, 28. Regeneration is the sole secret of disarmament. For whence come wars and whence come fightings among you? Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and covet, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war" (Jas. 4: 1). The sword is first forged in an evil heart: wrench it out of the hand, and the heart only forges another. But, in the Regeneration, "they shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning hooks : nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more " (Isa. 2: 4): for "of the increase of His government and of peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom. THE ZEAL OF THE LORD OF HOSTS SHALL PERFORM THIS" (Isa. 60: 7).

 

Who shall create this? The creation of a perfect age is as utterly beyond our powers as the creation of a perfect character. Before Christ came neither a perfect age nor a perfect character had appeared: now one has: and the perfect character is the pledge of the perfect age. Because Christ has been, the Kingdom of Christ will be: "AND THE LORD ALONE SHALL BE EXALTED IN THAT DAY" (Isa. 2: 11).

 

- D. M. PANTON.