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PART EIGHTH.
OF THE PEACE OR REST OF A SOUL IN A STATE OF UNION.



CHAPTER XII.


THE SOUL IN PEACE IS THE TRUE KINGDOM OF GOD.


Importance of the subject. — Explanations of the term kingdom. — Its universality. — Applied especially to the human soul. — Three characteristics of the kingdom of God in the soul, namely; it recognizes but one authority; God rules in it and over it; it constantly renders him the highest homage. — When the kingdom of God is set up in the human heart, it is set up everywhere. — Of the connections existing in the material and mental world. — The material and animal creation restored at the same time with man.

IN bringing this interesting and important subject to a conclusion, we have only one thing more to add, namely, that the soul in peace is the true kingdom of God. Such it is virtually asserted to be in the Scriptures; and such it is in fact. And, if this be the case, it is important to understand and appreciate an idea, which is interesting in itself, and is susceptible of applications which are not less so.

In saying that the soul is God’s kingdom, it should be kept in mind that the term KINGDOM is relative in its meaning. It implies the idea of a governor, as well as of that which is governed. Accordingly, it is not only the place where the king dwells, but the place of the king's authority. It is not only the king's home, which is the original meaning of the term, but the place which the king rules over.

2. In a certain sense God rules everywhere. There is no place where he does not dwell. Nor is there any place which excludes his authority; He rules in hell as well as in heaven. He rules also over all earthly things; over things material as well as immaterial. He rules over all moral beings. He rules over men.

3. Undoubtedly there is an universal kingdom; — a kingdom including all things. But, ordinarily, when we speak of God's kingdom on earth, we mean his
spiritual kingdom, — the kingdom of mind, and not of matter; the kingdom of hearts, and not of outward forms and localities. The divine throne, erected everywhere, is especially and emphatically erected in man's spirit. The soul of man, a fit subject for the divine administration, always is, when renovated, and always ought to be, God's kingdom. Hence the remarkable expression of the Saviour: "THE KINGDOM OF GOD IS WITHIN YOU."

4. But in speaking of the human soul as a fit subject for the divine administration, and in saying that it
ought to be God's kingdom, we imply, that, under certain circumstances, by doing or being what it ought not to do or ought not to be, it is not God's kingdom. And thus we come to our proposition. It is the soul IN PEACE, (that peace which the Saviour speaks of when he says, "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you,") the soul in peace, and not under any other circumstances, which constitutes, in the truest and highest sense, the kingdom of God. "For thus saith the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, In returning and rest shall ye be saved. In quietness and confidence, [that is to say, in the quietness and peace of faith,] shall be your strength." Isa. 30:15.

5. A soul in peace is the true kingdom of God, among other things, because
it recognizes but one authority. Its eye is "single;" looking in one direction, and having knowledge of but one master. It feels the deep import of the Saviour's words, "Ye cannot serve God and Mammon." And while it recognizes but one authority, in distinction from a two-fold or divided authority over it, it cheerfully submits to that authority and harmonizes with it. It thinks what God thinks, desires what God desires, wills what God wills.

On the other hand, a soul not at peace is one which is rebellious against its rightful master, or which wickedly proposes to serve two rival masters at the same time.

6. Again, a soul in peace is the kingdom of God, because
God rules in it and over it. It is true, his government is sustained, not so much by positive and outward enactments, as by the perfect adjustment of affectional and moral relations. But still it is a true government, although carried on less by force than by the truth mutually communicated and received, and by love harmonizing with love. In the truly peaceful soul, the life of God, including that which is perceptive as well as that which is affectional, seems to be reflected in the life of the creature. God is not more a living speaker to the soul than the soul, in a state of peace, is a living auditor. Moment by moment he communicates his will inwardly by a spiritual operation; and the intimations of his will are obeyed, by the soul which receives them, in the very moment of their communication. And this divine obedience is the obedience of harmony rather than of compulsion; the obedience of a subordinate nature yielding to and mingling with a higher and originative nature, through the influence of that beautiful attraction which always exists between kindred natures; but it is still that true and perfect obedience which God approves.

7. In the third place, the soul in the state of true peace or rest, is the kingdom of God, because it constantly renders him the highest homage. And it does so, because its state of peace or rest is the result, and may be said to be the completion, of every other state. It is not necessary for a soul, in such a state, to make costly sacrifices, to go to distant places, or to bow in temples, as if the true homage of the heart could be rendered only or chiefly by outward acts. Wherever it is, provided it is where God in his providence requires it to be, it is itself the highest worship and homage of God. The Infinite Mind delights in it, as a soul continually offering to himself the highest reverence and praise. The state of holy peace is more than that of penitence, because, although penitence implies a sorrow for sin, it does not necessarily imply a conquest over sin. It is more than good desire, because such desires are not acceptable in the sight of God without faith attending them. It is more than faith, because it is the end, of which faith is the means or instrument. It is more than gratitude, because it includes gratitude, as a whole includes a part. It is the result, the expression, the completion of the whole. It is man, harmonizing with God. It is God, dwelling and living in man.

He, therefore, who is in true peace of spirit, is a continual worshipper. He is himself his temple, and his heart is his altar. The fire is always burning; the incense always ascends.

8. It remains to be added, that God, in being restored to the human soul and made at peace with it, not only sets up his kingdom in man, but in other things with which man is essentially connected. When the kingdom of God is restored in the human heart, it is restored everywhere. It should not be forgotten, that the world, in all its varieties, is but one system; a connection obviously running through all its parts; each part being sustained by and harmonizing with the others. The mineral kingdom has a definite relation to the vegetable; the vegetable to the animal; the animal to the sentient; and the sentient to the moral. They expand and develop themselves in progression, and with an infinity of ties and relations. They are parts of one great and harmonious system of arrangements, conceived by one perfect wisdom, and sustained by one perfect love. The completion of all is in man. He stands at the head; and if all are made for man, it is equally true that man is made for all.

Time and God's grace will make this great truth better understood than it is at present. There is no isolation in the universe, except what is made by sin. There is a true and noble sense in which Adam and all created things around him were one. There is a sense in which Adam and all his posterity were one. There is a sense in which Christ, the second Adam, and all his redeemed children are one.

9. When man fell, nature fell. The flowers wept, and bowed their heads in sorrow. The beasts and the birds, that once loved him, now fled away from him. And the reverse will be true, when man returns again. All nature, sympathizing with the restoration of its head, will wipe away its tears and put on its smiles, whenever man arises from the dust. Life will return; and beauty will return with life. The cessation of mental death will be crowned with the return of physical health and strength, which will be experienced in outward nature as well as in man's person. The curse of "thorns and thistles" will be revoked, because man, on whose account it was inflicted, will be restored to favor. "Instead of the thorn shall come up the fir-tree, and instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree. The trees shall clap their hands; and the hills and the mountains shall break forth into singing." [Isa. 55:12, 13.]

Fear, also, shall be taken away from the beasts of the field. The bond of union, beginning with man in his restoration to God, will extend everywhere. The infusion of love flowing from God to man will be felt in every part of creation. The birds will sing with a happier note. "The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion, and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them." [Isa. 11:6.]

“See truth, love, and mercy in triumph descending,
And nature all glowing in Eden's first bloom;
On the cold cheek of death smiles and roses are blending,
And beauty immortal awakes from the tomb."