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THE DIVINE PRE-ROGATIVE
WHAT IS RIGHT : DOING IT
What is right, being it
Where truth, mercy and justice abound
This is one of
those demanding chapters which actually does pre-suppose
that you have read the Preface.
Short of importing
it and making it part of the chapter,
it is best to suggest this step first!
Some do it because they decided that more profit, pleasure, prestige, social acceptance or other desideratum as such, gave selfish advantage, advanced the cause of will and desire; and so it was done, the thing called 'right'.
Some do it because they are psychologically disinclined to breach the sanctions, the set, the mould, the appearance, the acceptability of what is deemed right; and so they do it, through inertia and distaste combined.
Some do it because they are philosophically convinced that it is REAL, the actuality of life, in terms such as looking before you cross the road, first this way, and then that. It would be simply out of relation with the world as it is, not to do so; and so they do it.
Some are socially, or in terms of socially invented or supervised religion, convinced that this is the way to go, since the cords of social interaction, relationship or constraint, or some combination, are strong in their minds; and so, bound, they do it.
In all the above cases, 'conscience', an internal and not always clearly considered constraint, may be operative in the background. Indeed, this in isolation may be the ground, and so, fifthly, they do it.
Some, sixthly, may do it because they feel a certain relish for it, a certain satisfaction in its presence, that it has a certain esprit. This could be called a privately spiritual response.
Thus we have so far looked at the social, with its spillage in religion, the psychological, the selfish with the sub-set, the hedonistic, the philosophical, the inwardly spiritual as reasons why many do right, or some combination of the above.
There is however another case. It specifically Christian. In this case, there are two distinctive criteria, which in association make it different from all of those so far listed. In this case, first of all there is a love for righteousness, certainly no less than in romance, friendship or other loves. It is, moreover, in this case, of the nature of something indefeasible, indefectible, unarraignable: it is in the very nature of the GOD-WHO-IS-LOVED. It is loved, first, because He is like it (Psalm 89, Deuteronomy 32), secondly, because one's love of Him means that one loves what He is like, and it has a distillation of desire as well as an initial impact of it. It is loved, secondly, because He recommends it. It is loved thirdly, because it savours of justice and love of one's neighbour. Love does more, but seeks to do NO LESS!
Then, in this unique case, there is another element of its embedded depth in the Christian soul. It is because the God of creation and redemption is not in some mere estimation, but in actuality like that. It is a divine thing; it relates not only as to something exterior and imposed, not merely as something interior and composed when one is born again with a new nature to which righteousness relates as a joy ("it is joy to the just to do judgment"): it relates not only as reasonable, nor yet, alone as something which to breach is treasonable. It is more than all of this though not less.
It is a love of GOD, of the One who is infinite, eternal, sinless, full of grace and lovingkindness, whose tender mercies are the source of all goodness, the criterion of all love, the disposition of all personal reality, whose humility does not despise to make it an object lesson as well as a verbal one, whose presentation is not with perfume and cosmetic, not with richness and glamour, nor with flashiness and superficially evocative charm.
It does not despise what is despicable, but instead became outwardly despicable in the performance not of some rite, but of the right, of the practice which perfects, of the non-survival on this earth which is forever the way for man, disdaining misguided self-acclaim in seeking mere continuance and being terminated in body that the grace of goodness should become the highway of holiness and the path of righteousness, forever marked, not in maps, but in His own treatment in a 'criminal death' that those deserving it might avoid it. This lovingkindness is right as well as lovely, for it is the way of God the Creator who made us.
Without this, nothing is right, for the criterion of the King is absent, and His 'subjects' refuse to be subjected, or disdain it, or ignore it or do not even know it; for it is a way none could have foretold, and only the Creator could unfold, as He has done in word, in revelation and in flesh, in desecration gladly borne. He did not make man to reach what he already is, nor to breach what is not there already, but to BE what he was made to be; and that ? In the image of God, not in the format of sin's curse, this is the way which is right because it is His.
THIS is His way! Who could not love it who is His! It is majestic, marvellous, beautiful.
Part of its beauty is this, that God so loves it that He died rather than breach it, when in love for mankind, He sought their salvation, deliverance from all sin and unrighteousness; that it composes with reliability, faithfulness, so that having died, the just for the unjust to bring us to God (I Peter 3:18), for all of us who believe or will, He also has borne our iniquities (Isaiah 53:3-6, I Peter 2:21ff.), and insisted on doing just this (Psalm 40 cf. Joyful Jottings 22, Luke 9:44-53, Matthew 26:24,52-53), and nothing less. Thus and in no other way did He effectually act in the consummation of kindness and the acme of right, so giving us not some kind of variable access but absolute assurance based on absolute justice met with absolute love to effect absolute mercy (Romans 5:5-11, 3:22-27, Ephesians 1).
Here is beauty of divine right, not the seizing of the subjects for gain or power, but the provision of gain and power to the same, in love. Here lies that wonder beyond yet creative of the crag under the serene empyrian, the mounting peak below the Arctic splendour of ineffable blue, ranging into the vastnesses of space, the sand beneath the pulsing seas of joyous motion and intimate splashing peace. Here is the source of beauty in the realm of right, in the light of lovingkindness, in the peace of truth. It is lovely in composition, beautiful in itself, glorious in the divine composure which is uncomposed, increate, unimposed, free.
From this is to be found the love of righteousness which leads to its being done out of love. Fear ? Yes there may be fear of a kind, that fearful reverence which finds it horrible to breach the lovely, inimitable, the splendid, the pure.
When this righteousness rules in the heart, the loss of funds, of favour and indeed of life in this world is not so very important, though it be most painful; it fades into the blue of beauty, the span of creation, and behind this, the unwilting will of the glorious God. Then concession beats clamour, thoughtfulness unseals oppression, watchfulness weighs actions and goodness moves mountains; then malice and spite, taking company with jealousy and ambitions to 'become' something personally or nationally, in order to impose pride or that crazy quasi-glory which is invidious and inglorious, common as dirt and noxious as radioactivity, depart into their own eternal obscurity, and an inoperable earth forfeits the glamour of godless thrust in the glory of divine must, obligation which is not of chains but of heart, valued because invaluable.
Then history huffs no more. Now the kingdom of heaven moves like a glorious Summer breeze by the beaches; then it rules over a chastened earth. Now it refreshes in heart with savour; then the Saviour rules (Psalm 2, 110, 67, Isaiah 11) and the King of Creation becomes manifest in the hearts and the history which consummates these vast preliminaries.
But what more of this right ? of this love ? of this truth ? of this prescription beyond the curse (cf. Biblical Blessings Ch. 7) ?
It does not seek ill to its
neighbour, like those imperial and slavish substitutes that strut, seeking
vaingloriously to replace with their tiny tinniness, the empyrean and Him
behind it; nor does not seek to blow him up. Instead, it seeks to show sin up and to show
righteousness up, and to manifest the glory of God in the Gospel by which God's
own righteousness is presented to one's life as a GIFT (Romans 5:15-17), in
terms of which one is received (II Corinthians 5:17-21) as an accepted CHILD OF
(I John 3:1-5). The cost is too high, so He paid it Himself; but the bar to receive it is too low, so that to the uncontrite, it cannot be found, for the proud it is not to be seen.
WHEN righteousness is done in this way, not because of what SOCIETY thinks and certainly not what PHILOSOPHY thinks, and assuredly NOT what SELFISHNESS thinks or HEDONISM prescribes, it is then that it has a rest, a surety, and guaranteed by God, a source, a basis adequate for its elevation, and so a stability which is spiritually appealing and not a strain. In this is rest and quietness (cf. Isaiah 11:10, 33:17ff., 30:15ff., 26:1ff., Matthew 11:28-30); and in that is something, like a final flourish of a Summer sunset as vacation draws to a close, a marvel that is majestic. It savours of the presence of God. As to that, what could be compared (cf. Psalm 27, 17, 73)!
NOTE: You may wish now to turn to Love of Righteousness, a closely related file.