A correspondent in our last number, Page 171, desires us to state what is the true position of the church in the trying circumstances of our nation. To this we reply that the church of the living God has but one legitimate or true position to occupy at any time, or under any circumstances, and that position is very clearly laid down in the New Testament. The nations of the earth, including our own, are of this world; the kingdom of Christ is not of this world. They are natural, temporal, and like all earthly things, must ultimately decay, but the kingdom of Christ is spiritual, heavenly, and everlasting. They have no affinity to each other, and the less each has to do in meddling with the other, the better it will be with both. It is true that the members of the church of God, while here on earth, have to do with both church and state, but their duties to the one do not interfere with their faithful performance of every just obligation to the other. The true position of the church is as a city which is set upon a hill, whose light cannot be hidden. Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth is Mount Zion upon the sides of the North. Her foundation is in the Holy mountain. She is built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, and Jesus Christ is the chief corner stone; in whom all the building fitly framed together, groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord; in whom all the saints are builded together for an habitation of God through the spirit. Thus her true position is on Christ as her Foundation, and in him as her chief corner stone - and her true destination is for the indwelling of the eternal God, through the Spirit.
Doctrinally, her position is immovably in the sovereign eternal and electing love of God; chosen in Christ Jesus before the foundation of the world, that she should be holy and without blame before him in love. God has graciously given her a position in his irrevocable purpose, grace, and decrees, and salvation hath he appointed for her walls and bulwarks. He is himself a wall of fire around about her, and the glory in her midst. Her position, as emblematically seen by John, was as a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars; also as the holy city New Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, adorned as a bride, prepared for her husband.
Although she is not of the world, at present she is in the world. God has chosen her in the furnace of afflictions and ordained that in the world she shall have tribulations, but he has also provided for her ultimate deliverance from all her tribulations and trials. In her loyalty to her eternal King, her position is at Jesus' feet, bowing her neck to his yoke, and observing all things whatsoever he has commanded her. Here she is to stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ has made her free, but under no circumstances is she at liberty to change her position. Trusting in her God, she is like Mount Zion which cannot be moved. God is her Refuge and her Strength, and she needs no more. He has been her dwelling place in all generations, even from everlasting. He has carried and borne her all the days of old. She dwells in the secret place of the Most High, and shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
Circumstances by which she is surrounded, so far as this world and all the things of the world are concerned, are ever changing. Kingdoms and nations rise and fall around her. Principalities and powers, thrones, and dominions are all subject to the power and providence of her God. All things are put under and in subjection to Zion's King. He has power over all flesh, that he may give eternal life to as many as the Father has given him. The perfect allegiance of all the saints to Christ does not by any means disqualify them for the faithful discharge of all relative duties to their fellow men; nor does it lessen their obligation to submit (as citizens of this world) to every ordinance of man. The laws of Zion require that every soul shall be subject to the higher power. "Children, obey your parents." "Servants, obey your masters." All are to obey magistrates, and rulers - such as kings or governors, or whatever the form of earthly government may be under which christians are providentially placed, they must be loyal.
The Church of God, as such, should keep her garments unspotted from the world, and all her members in their religious capacity are forbidden to conform to the fashions of the world, or to be moved from their true position, as followers of the meek and lowly Savior, by any strife or commotion which may agitate the nations of the earth. While as citizens of the world, as we have remarked, their respectful loyalty is due to the powers that be, and they may themselves be called to take part in administering, as well as in sustaining human governments. They should discharge all such duties, not in their religious, but in their civil capacities. The present is no doubt a very trying time to all who truly fear God, and tremble at his word; but it is calculated to try their patience, and prove their faith in, and fidelity to, their Lord and Master. It is their privilege and duty as churches and as individual christians, in their religious capacity, to make prayers and intercessions to God for the government we are under; that God may so direct and over rule all things, that we may be permitted to live peaceably, quietly, and unblamably with all men; for this is good and acceptable to God our Savior. As citizens of the world it is our duty to be peaceable and loyal, while as christians it is required of us, by the Lord of hosts, that we should "Do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God." (Micah 6:8)
December 1, 1861.
Elder Gilbert Beebe
Editorials Volume 5
Pages 97 - 100