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THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN.
THE ORTHODOX CHRISTIAN VIEW COMPARED WITH THAT OF THE LATTER-DAY SAINTS.
BY PROF. J. H. PAUL, PRESIDENT OF L. D. S. COLLEGE, SALT LAKE CITY.
The Christian churches believe that the Kingdom of Heaven was set up on earth by Christ and the apostles, being identical with the church of those days; that it is a spiritual kingdom, not a visible one, except in so far as the outward church or churches may represent it; that it has been on the earth ever since the day of Christ; and that it is even now gradually filling the whole earth. A good exposition of the general Christian belief on this point is given by the Rev. Robert Jamieson, D. D. of Glasgow, in his commentary on Psalm 110, which is a sequel to the second psalm, and represents the kingdom of the Messiah. The grandeur of the theme, the dignity of the language, and the fact that this psalm (110) is six times quoted in the New Testament, and every time with a reference to Christ, show its Messianic character almost as plainly as do the words themselves:
The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I mak thine enemies my footstool. The Lord shall send the rod of thy strength
out of Zion: rule thou in the midst of thine enemies. Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power, in the beauties of holiness from the womb of the morning: thou hast the dew of thy youth. The Lord hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek. The Lord at thy right hand shall strike through kings in the day of his wrath. He shall judge among the heathen, he shall fill the places with the dead bodies; he shall wound the heads over many countries. He shall drink of the brook in the way: therefore shall he lift up the head. (Psalm 110.)
THE ORTHODOX CHRISTIAN VIEW.
"The Psalm, which begins in the abrupt style of a lyric, introduces the reader all at once, in imagination, into the court of heaven, when the triumphant Savior on his ascension day enters; amid the applause and acclamations of countless multitudes of blessed spirits, and far above the most exalted of them, at an immense distance, is seen seated on his celestial throne, Jehovah, the Lord of all. The Savior, having completed his work on earth, has just returned, and as he passes through the happy throng, to take, as might be expected, a place with the highest order of angels, the voice of Jehovah is heard calling him to sit at his right hand. * The rod of Christ's strength is the Gospel, which is described as 'powerful' (Heb. 4: 12), and it was to be sent out of Zion-i. e., the Gospel, by which a rebellious world is to be subdued to God and governed by Christ, and should issue from Jerusalem, where the hill of Zion stood. (Ps. 14: 7.) And the fact corresponded with these predictions; for the apostles, as enjoined by the last commands of their Lord, tarried in Jerusalem for the promised descent of the Spirit, and after Pentecost began to preach the Gospel in that city, which thus became the center from which the light of divine truth, that was to diffuse itself eventually over the whole world, should emanate.
Christ actually did rule in the midst of his enemies; for so rapid was the propagation of Christianity that, in spite of the combined opposition of emperors, philosophers, priests and the countless devotees of idolatry, the religion of Christ went on conquering and to conquer, till it not only acquired the ascendant but became the established faith of the Roman empire. Christ's rule over his enemies was exercised in two ways: some who were implacable and
malignant foes, he overthrew and crushed, such as Herod; while others, who constituted a mighty multitude, were converted into friends, as Paul. 'Thy people,' i. e., his soldiers Hence the Gospel is called the day of his power. * Under this bold and warlike imagery, the Psalmist describes the moral victories which the Prince of Peace accomplishes in the world."
were more than willing.
To the objection of De Wette that this interpretation "cannot be of much account, since the Messiah is [in this psalm] throughout represented as a theocratic ruler-nay even as a warrior," Mr. Jamieson concedes that, "it is not enough to say that in abundance of other passages, the kingdom of the Messiah is represented as one of righteousness and peace; and that all these descriptions are to be understood of purely spiritual victories, conveyed in warlike imagery. The true answer is this: God has, from the beginning, carried forward his kingdom in a two-fold line of administration-the providential or outward line, and the spiritual or inward. To the outward or providential line belong all those mighty movements which have accompanied the progress of God's church along her course to the present hour.".
The saying of Christ, "The kingdom of God is within you." (Luke 17:21), which is mainly relied upon to prove the correctness of the Christian tradition, is not at all conclusive after we discover that the word translated here "within" is the same word that is elsewhere translated “among," as where John says, “There standeth one among you whom you know not." The Revised Version gives the alternative reading, "The Kingdom of God is in the midst of you."
The Kingdom was the theme of the prophets, and the hope of John the Baptist (Matt.11:1-6), and the apostles (Acts 1: 6,7), none of whom supposed they were as yet in the Kingdom nor the Kingdom in them. Paul and the others always looked forward to a Kingdom yet to be.
That which I believe to be the scriptural view, representing the general belief of the Latter-day Saints as to the Kingdom, is summarized in what follows. Owing to the length of the article somè desirable quotations are omitted and no comments beyond the headings are made upon the texts quoted.
VIEW OF THE LATTER-DAY SAINTS.
I. The Lord claims paramount authority over the earth; he has appointed a king over it, and will certainly establish his kingdom.
Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion. I will declare the decree. The Lord said unto me, Thou art my son; this day have I begotten thee. (Psalm 2.)
I have found David, my servant; with my holy oil have I anointed him. (Psalm 89.)
The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand until I make thine enemies thy footstool. The Lord shall send the rod of thy strength out of Zion: rule thou in the midst of thine enemies. (Psalm 110.)
Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. (Matthew 19: 28.)
II. It will be an actual, visible, earthly kingdom, not a socalled spiritual one.
Behold a king shall reign in righteousness, and princes shall rule in judgment. * * And my people shall dwell in a peaceable habitation, and in sure dwellings, and in quiet resting places. (Isaiah 32: 1, 18.) And they shall build houses and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards and eat the fruit of them. (Isaiah 65: 21.)
III. It is to be set up on the earth in a definite place.
And it shall come to pass in the last days that the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. And many people shall go and say, come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths; for out of Zion shall go forth the law and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. (Isaiah 2: 2, 3.)
IV. And at a certain appointed time.
There is a God in heaven that revealeth secrets, and maketh known
* * *
what shall come to pass in the latter days. And in the days of these kings [the nations of modern Europe] shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed; but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever. (Daniel 2: 44.)
V. Christ's kingdom will begin in a desert place, which is to become fruitful.
The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them, and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose. * * * And the parched ground shall become a pool, and the thirsty land springs of water. (Isaiah 35.)
I will open rivers in high places and fountains in the midst of the valleys. * I will set in the desert the fir tree and the pine and the box tree together. (Isaiah 41: 18, 19.)
Instead of the thorn shall come up the fir tree, and instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree. (Isaiah 55: 13.)
VI. Its citizens shall be a people who have been despised and downtrodden; but they shall be made great and powerful.
In that time shall the present be brought unto the Lord of hosts of a people scattered and peeled, and from a people terrible from their beginning hitherto; a nation meted out and trodden underfoot, whose land the rivers have spoiled, to the place of the name of the Lord of hosts, the mount Zion. (Isaiah 18: 7.)
A little one shall become a thousand and a small one a strong nation. (Isaiah 60: 22.)
And strangers shall stand and feed your flocks, and the sons of the alien shall be your ploughmen and your vine-dressers. But ye shall be named priests of the Lord: men shall call you the ministers of our God. (Isaiah 61: 5, 6.)
And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord; and great shall be the peace of thy children. No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. (Isaiah 54: 13-17.)
VII. His people shall be unpopular, and shall endure reproach and persecution, but shall be known by their fruits.
Think not that I am come to send peace on the earth: I came not to send peace but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter-in-law against the mother-in-law. And a man's foes shall be they of his own household. (Matthew 10: 34-36.)
Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. (II. Timothy 3: 12.)
In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the