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The Golden Rule
“Whatever ye Gould that men should do to you, do ye even so to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” (Matt. 7:12)
The poet Has well said,
“How wise are God’s commands How just his precepts are!”
Our conception of a God measures our highest ideals and principles. Whoever, therefore, has a mean or slipshod conception of the Almighty is bound to be more or less mean and slipshod in his conduct of life, for every man or woman to some extent worships his own highest ideal. And this is authorized by our Redeemer s words, “Do ye like unto your Father which is in heaven.” Our forefathers during the Dark Ages burned one another at the stake and otherwise tortured one another, because of their misconception of the Divine Character; because their ideals were too low. They truly believed what they formulated in their creeds and handed down to us, namely, that God in the present time is gathering from amongst men a handful of saints for the heavenly condition and that he will turn over the remainder—all who walk not after the spirit, but after the flesh—to eternal torment at the hands of demons.
Having before their minds this misconception of the Bible teachings, they merely copy that misconception. That civilized men have gotten beyond these standards of the Dark Ages is a matter for congratulations. We regret, nevertheless, that their freedom from an error has not brought them all the blessings that it should. They have attained the higher ideal mostly by ignoring the Bible, by denying its infallibility, by accepting their own judgment and reasoning in supposed contradiction of the Bible teachings. How sad is the fact that a majority of the noble minds of Christendom today deny that the Bible is a Divinely inspired revelation of God and consider it merely the work of well-intentioned, but ignorant men, in comparison to whom the theologians of today are pastmasters every way, quite competent to write out of their own wits matter much superior to that of the Bible, the Divine inspiration of which they deny. But what a sad condition the true believer would be in if he lost this, the anchor of his soul, and were cast adrift to his own speculations or those of others, which continually contradict one another. To those who have never known the value of the Word of God as the Divine counsel and who are totally ignorant of its “exceeding great and precious promises”—to such the loss would be less, but to us “who have tasted of the good Word of God and the powers of the world to come and been made partakers of the holy Spirit”—for us to lose all these would be to lose almost life itself, for truly, as the Prophet declares, the knowledge of God’s loving kindness is better than life, the best life, so that to lose it would mean to take away that which makes life most precious to us.
THE FOUNDATION OF GOD’S THRONE
The Bible declaration that Justice is the foundation of the Divine Kingdom or Throne gives the mind pictorially an appreciation of the value of Justice in its relationship to every element of the Divine Character. “Be just before you are generous,” is a proverb amongst men, which evidently is in full accord with what the Scriptures declare of God’s Character. He is first just— never anything less than Justice. His wisdom, his power, his love must all co-ordinate with and rest upon this quality of Justice. And so it is with all those who would copy this character. They must be first just. Any quality built upon any foundation to any extent ignoring this one is faulty, improper, sinful. The first man, made in God’s image and moral likeness must have had justice as the foundation of his character. And all of his descendants still possess this quality, though in varying degree. We call it also conscientiousness, righteousness. Some, indeed, have this quality in so weak and slight a degree that it is easily overbalanced by their other stronger qualities of mind, such as acquisitiveness, approbativeness, etc. It is for this reason that prisons are necessary to restrain all the stronger organs of man’s minds and to encourage their conscientiousness, their sense of justice, righteousness. These standards of righteousness heretofore have, from the first, been considered and esteemed the Divine standards, and are still so esteemed, except by atheists.
During the Dark Ages reasoning minds tried the various expedients whereby to harmonize the Justice of God with the “Doctrines of Demons,” which misrepresented the Divine program for mankind. (1 Tim. 4:1) But in our day the dawning light from every quarter reveals to the awakened conscience the fact that the old creeds require of humanity far higher standards than they accredit to our Maker. We are to be just, generous, kind, loving; but the Divine pattern held up to us in the misleading creeds portray our Almighty Creator as claiming all of these qualities, but by his course of dealing with humanity violating them all, every one.
Who with an enlightened mind can any longer claim that it was ever just or kind or loving for God to bring into being a race of intelligent creatures, for the great mass of whom he had no better provision than an eternity of torture, and knew all this before he created them? Who can deny that it would have been more just, more kind, more wise, and more loving, to have left the entire race uncreated than to have made provision for the eternal torture of 999 out of every 1,000 of them, or a worse proportion, for surely the saints do not number one in a thousand of the world’s population?
“THY RIGHTEOUS ACTS SHALL BE MADE MANIFEST.”
The Bible freely tells us that many features of the Divine Plan are now hidden in mystery, but the last book of the Bible, which prophetically pictures the future, assures us that in God’s due time “The mystery shall be finished, which he hath declared to his servants the prophets” (Rev. 10:7) The same book assures us that in God’s due time, when the mystery is cleared, “All nations shall come and worship before thee, for thy righteous acts have been made manifest.” (Rev. 15:4) We are now living in the time when the “mystery” is ending and the righteous dealings of God, from the Scriptural standpoint, may be clearly seen.
But these revelations are not meant for the world in general now, but merely for “the elect,” the “sanctified in Christ Jesus.” “To you it is given to know the mysteries, to outsiders these things are spoken in parables and dark sayings.” (Matt. 13:11, 13) But not until the elect shall be glorified and the Millennial Kingdom be established with the “Mystery” be made fully known to the world and every knee bow and confess. Hence, only those of a contrite heart may now see, now understand, the real character of God, his real purpose towards man, etc. Thus our Lord declares, “This is life eternal that they should know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent.” John 17:3
To the class addressed by our Lord, “Blessed are your eyes, for they see,” and for these alone, is the message that the hell of the Bible is the tomb, the state of death. They were all condemned to death through Adam’s sin and not one, according to the Scriptures, was condemned to eternal torment. It is for these to see and appreciate the love of God, which has made provision for the salvation of all from the present state of degradation and sin and death. These alone may see that Jesus was “The Lamb of God, which taketh away the sins of the world,” and not merely the sins of the Church. These may see that the blessings of salvation are for two classes of mankind—now for the saintly class, “The called according to God’s purpose,” and who are promised a share in the First Resurrection and then during the Millennial Age salvation for all of the race—an opportunity for Restitution to man’s original estate in the image and likeness of God. These may see that this original state will not be forced upon any, but made possible to all on terms of full and hearty obedience to the Great Prophet, Priest and King during his Millennial reign. And these may see also that the end of the wilfully wicked is to be destruction and not to be preserved in torment; but the Second Death will signify the second destruction, but this time without hope of redemption or resurrection or recovery. These, then, see the Justice of God manifested toward man for now six thousand years, under the infliction of the original penalty, “Dying thou shalt die.” These see how Divine love met the requirements of Divine Justice, when our Lord Jesus “gave himself a Ransom for all.” “He died, the Just for the unjust”—redeemed the first Adam and all his family and all his estate with his own precious blood, his sacrifice. These may see how wisdom bids love to wait throughout this Gospel Age, while the elect class is being called out from the redeemed world to constitute the Bride, the Lamb’s Wife, and joint-heirs with him in his Millennial Kingdom. These can see how in due time Divine power will cooperate with love, and justice be silent while Satan is restrained and the human family granted the opportunity for uplift—resurrection to all that was lost plus valuable lessons of knowledge through experience.
THE GOLDEN RULE FOR THE CHURCH
They make a great mistake who suppose that the Golden Rule, or indeed any of the messages of the Scriptures, were intended for the world of mankind. No, they are for the Church only and this is shown not only by the fact that our Lord’s words were addressed to his disciples, but also by the fact that the Apostolic epistles similarly are addressed to the saints and the household of faith. Others cannot see, understand, appreciate, in the proper degree. The worldly mind can and does appreciate the maxim, “Honesty is the best policy” in the long run, but it cannot appreciate the sentiment of our text, in the sense of being willing to adopt this as a principle and as a rule of life.
In harmony with this thought, we seek to impress the import of our text only upon those blessed of the Father, who have been drawn, called, sanctified in Christ Jesus, and whose eyes to some extent have seen Justice to be the foundation of the Divine Character. The Golden Rule does not express all of the Christian duty; he is expected to make progress in conduct and character development much beyond this. But this further progress marks his development in love. The Golden Rule marks the very lowest standard which must measure our dealings with others in the Church and in the world—Justice. In a word our text, although far above the ordinary course of humanity, should be in use every day and every hour by every follower of Christ. “Whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them.” That our Lord was not giving this as a Gospel standard and love standard, we note the fact that he added the words, “This is the Law and the Prophets,” this is the teaching or demand of the Law and the Prophets upon all who would seek to do righteousness—Justice.
The measure of our development as New Creatures in Christ is whatever we attain to in love above the standard of the Golden Rule. Justice demands us to render to others as we would have them render to us. Love says, “I demand nothing, but show you the length and breadth and height and depth of Love Divine and wait expectantly to note your appreciation of this and how you will seek to be copies of God’s dear Son, who laid down his life on our behalf.” Addressing those who had made a consecration of discipleship, to walk in the Lord’s footsteps, St. Paul says, “We ought also to lay down our lives for the brethren” — after the example of Jesus.
“LOVE WORKETH NO ILL”
All of the Lord’s people are to love him and the brethren; yea, even their enemies. However, let us now stop short of love and merely consider what the simple justice of the Golden Rule would imply in our conduct. How do our daily lives square with this Golden Rule of absolute justice, omitting love entirely?
If you are an employer, do you treat your employees in harmony with this Rule and do unto them as you would have them do unto you, if your position were reversed? If you are an employee, inquire of yourself, “Do I treat my employer and his business as I would have him treat me and my business, if our relationship were reversed?” Do you treat your butcher, your baker, your grocer, etc., as you would like to have them treat you, if your position were reversed? Are you polite to them and not inclined to give them unnecessary trouble? Do you pay them promptly? Or, if you are the tradesman, do you treat your customers as you would wish to have them treat you, if conditions were reversed? Do you charge them a reasonable price only? Do you give them proper weight and measure? Do you properly represent your goods to them, as you would have them represent to you? Are you a good neighbor? Do you see to it that your children are not a nuisance to others; that your chickens are not permitted to damage your neighbor’s garden; that your dog is not a ferocious one, and that his bark does not keep the neighborhood awake? In a word, do you treat your neighbor justly, along the lines of the Golden Rule, doing unto him only as you would wish him to do to you? Do you allow any member of your family to be a nuisance to the neighborhood, while trying to learn how to sing or play the clarinet or violin, the harmonica, or a tin horn?
Let us now step into your house and measure things there by the Golden Rule. As husbands, how do you treat your wives? And wives, how do you treat your husbands? Can you apply the Golden Rule to your words, to your conduct, to your demands of each other? Or do you act meanly, selfishly, in taking advantage of each other, to the limit that the other will forbear? Do you deal with your children according to the lines of the Golden Rule? Are you an ideal parent, according to your own advanced standard of what a parent’s duty would be to his children? Do you remember that you have a responsibility for their training, a responsibility so far as your circumstances will permit, for their environment and happiness and education and general preparation for usefulness in life? Or are you indifferent to their interests, neglectful of your responsibilities? Do you recognize that your children have certain rights and that these increase as they near maturity, or are you forgetful of these, disposed to keep the children under the restraints of childhood, souring their dispositions and making them unhappy, until they resent the injustice and a family quarrel results? As children, are you thoughtful of your parents, their welfare, and their wishes, their happiness, as you would like your children to be thoughtful of yours? Do you remember the hours and weeks of feebleness and sickness and toil which you cost them in your infancy, and are you seeking to repay those kindnesses, and seeking to make their last days the happiest of their lives? Are you observing the Golden Rule toward your parents? How is it in your relationship to your brothers and sisters? When they borrow your things without leave, do you retaliate by borrowing theirs without leave, and thus keep up a continual fret and vexation of spirit in the family? Or do you practice the Golden Rule of justice and do nothing to your brother and sister, or their things, or theirs, that you would not wish them to do to you or your things?
THE GOLDEN RULE IN CHURCH
Surely in the church you should remember the Golden Rule laid down by the head of the church. Nevertheless I am sure that if you are unjust in your own family, and to your business associates, you will be unjust also in your dealing with the “church, which is the body of Christ.” He that is unjust in little things would be unjust in greater ones. He who is faithful in little things will be faithful in the greater ones. He who practices the Golden Rule during the six days of his contact with business will surely be faithful on the seventh also; but faithfulness to the Golden Rule on one day in seven only will never win divine approval.
In applying this Golden Rule to the consecrated people of God, we are following the symbols of Revelation 11:1. In symbol St. John was commanded to take the Golden Rule and measure the “Temple of God and the altar and them that worship therein.” Let us each ask himself, not only the foregoing questions pertaining to earthly relationships, but questions also respecting the higher relationship in Christ. Am I making an honest confession before the people of God, with whom I am in association? Or am I deceiving them?
If I have taken upon me a denominational name which stands for denominational creed, do I really believe that creed and endorse it and uphold it? Or am I in a measure out of accord with it? Does it misrepresent me, or do I misrepresent it? Am I doing to my associates and to the Lord, the Head of the Church, as I would have them do to me? If not, I should square my conduct by the Golden Rule. I should be honest with my Lord, with my brethren and with myself, and make no false professions. Do I treat all the brethren as such as the Apostle says, “Without partiality and without hypocrisy?” Or do I pick out some of special class or caliber or style, and measurably ignore some of the poorer or less literate, who, perhaps, need my assistance more? Am I doing to all these a brother’s part, as I would that they should do to me, if our positions were transposed? As the pastor, am I thoughtful of the interests of the brethren? Do I watch out for their liberties? Do I seek to impart to them freely whatever knowledge I possess, or am 1 trying to hoodwink them and to keep them in ignorance, and to hold them down? In a word, am I doing for the Lord’s sheep, as an under-shepherd, what I would wish to be done to me by an under-shepherd, if I were one of the Lord’s sheep under his care? Or as one of the Lord’s sheep under a pastoral head, am I seeking by word and act to encourage and assist the pastor, as I would like to have the Lord’s people do for me, if I were in pastoral service?
Finally, do I apply the Golden Rule in the exercise of my tongue and my brains as these have to do with neighbors and friends and brethren in the Church? Do I think generously or meanly of others? Am I continually surmising dishonesty, meanness or impurity on their part? And would I like to have them similarly imagine those things toward me? Whoever has this disposition should know that he is harboring what the Scriptures designate “iniquity in his heart.” Such thoughts should be resisted as unworthy of noble minds, and in their place we should foster kindness and generosity and nobility of sentiment respecting others. How about the tongue? Do we always follow the Scriptural rule, “Speak evil of no man?” Or do we find ourselves possessed of a mean disposition, which takes pleasure in gossiping to others respecting what we know, or what we have heard derogatory to others? Would we like to have others do this to us, or is such a course contrary to the Golden Rule?
Do we find ourselves seeking a justification for speaking something that is unkind or ungenerous, whether truthful or not? If so, do we recognize that this is an element quite contrary to the Golden Rule, and in our endeavor to find justification for doing that which we recognize as contrary to the Golden Rule do we see that it is merely an attempt to deceive ourselves, in a manner which will not deceive our Lord? “Be not deceived. God is not mocked.” He that doeth righteousness is righteous. He that keeps the Golden Rule is just. He who under any pretext violates the Golden Rule thus displays the injustice of his heart whatever may be his outward professions of righteousness.
In this connection let us not forget the Scripture which declares, “Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaketh.” If, then, we find ourselves disposed to slander, or in any manner to injure or seek a pretext to slander or injure another, whoever he may be, it should be to us a signal of distress, indicating corruption of mind, injustice, inequality. To find such a condition of injustice in any measure associated with our thoughts or words or deeds under any of the heads already examined should mean chagrin to us, who have undertaken to follow in the footsteps of the Master. It should mean alarm! For if such condition were not altered it would lead toward a worse one, to more ungodliness, so that whatever we have by nature or by grace would become vitiated, perverted, valueless, and we would be certain to be of those who would fail to ‘‘make their calling and election sure,’’ to a position of joint-heirship with Christ in his Kingdom.
For is it not predestinated that that “elect” company must all be copies of God’s dear Son in character likeness? And is it not equally certain that our Master is not only just toward all, but loving and self-sacrificing as well? Let us, then, remember the words of the Golden Rule, “And be ye like unto your Father which is in heaven.” If we be not able to fully live up to this grand standard, let us at least approve it in our hearts and keep as close to it as possible in thought and word and deed!
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