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1 Samuel 7:14
We have to dwell upon reconquests, upon the taking back of cities which we ought never to have lost. I do not speak of cities in the ordinary sense of the term, but I speak of the great losses which the Church meaning by the term Church all its sections and communions has forfeited or lost or unworthily abandoned. There will be a great day of restoration; the Church of Christ has much property to reclaim. The Church is very guilty in all this matter; the Church has let one thing slip after another. The consequence is that the Church is surrounded by a number of little military houses from the windows of which popguns are being continually fired, largely in mockery, and mainly because nearly all the Church property has been stolen.
I. We shall reclaim all that has been pilfered. Agnosticism will have to give up its purse and its passbook and its cheque-book and its balance. Agnosticism is the meanest of the thieves. Its name was invented only yesterday; it was baptized in a ditch, it has done no good for the world, but it has troubled a good many people in the Church on the subject of the unknowableness or unthinkableness of God. The Church ought never to have been troubled or disturbed for one moment.
II. And then the Philistines have built another hut which is called Secularism. Man likes a word which he thinks is practical and intelligible. Man loves to keep up a shop with a counter in it; man would not be happy if he had not a till, that is a box or drawer, unseen by the public, admission into which, so far as the public are concerned, is by a very small slit in the counter. Man calls that business. He does not care for religion, he cares for the secular aspects of life; he can understand these, but he cannot understand metaphysics, philosophies, theologies; so he puts another penny in the slot and sees that nobody else takes it out. This he thinks is commerce. No Christian treats wealth without regard, no truly pious man despises business; the man who prays best will work best in the city or in the field or on the sea Prayer is genius in all directions. He who prays best conquers most. We ought never, therefore, to have allowed the secularist to take anything from the Church. Anything that the secularist holds which is really precious and good belongs to the Church, and we should have it back, and take all the cities again in honest restoration which for the moment have been wrenched from the grasp of our unbelief.
III. There is now a wonderful partition, mainly of lath and plaster, put up between religion and what is called science. There ought to be no such partition. Science is theological; there is nothing excluded from the grasp and the dominion of a true theological genius and conception of things. The laboratory is a chamber in the Church; every retort ought to be claimed by the Church as a special instrument or resource or piece of furniture; the Lord has made the inventory, and that retort belongs to God. We must retake from Philistinian hands terms and properties and provinces which have been stolen from us, either while we were faithlessly slumbering, or in some hour in which our belief gave way and let the devil come in like a flood.
Joseph Parker, City Temple Pulpit, vol. II. p. 50.
Reference. VIII. 4-7. F. D. Maurice, Prophets and Kings, p. 1.
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Nicoll, William Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 7". Expositor's Dictionary of Text. https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany