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Dr. Fremantle gave the second of the William Noble lectures in Phillips Brooks House last night on the subject "The Bible as used in the Church in its social bearing" He said in part.
The Church, though not supreme over the Bible, recognizes it as divine and has power to use it for edification.
The Bible is a social book throughout. Man was created not as an individual but as a married pair, the beginning of the family and of all social life. This is carried further in each successive stage, the Patriarchal, the legal, the age of the Kings, and the prophets. That which made the law dear to the prophets and Psalmists, was its social character, and its care for the poor.
In the interval between the Old and New Testaments the social customs of the Jews remained, and they had always some power of enforcing them.
In the New Testament the "Kingdom" and the "Righteousness" of which Christ spoke must be understood in connection with this. The law was not abrogated but fulfilled, not enforced literally but with a spiritual meaning and sanction. In this sense St. Paul says "We do not destroy the law through faith, yea we establish the law;" and this may be traced out in his Epistles. He wished to build up a Christian social state, beginning with the family, a new and spiritual community.
We have to answer two important questions. First, how far can Christ be spoken of as prescribing socialistic methods? To this we answer that his care for meekness and for poverty was much greater than we have yet attained, but that he never wished his followers to be revolutionists. Second, how far are his words to be taken literally? To this we reply that they must be applied according to our advancing knowledge and with the use of our common sense.
The special points in which the Bible shows the way of social reform are; by making us think of men as all belonging to the family of God, and as brothers, that it is the constant source of a spiritualized good nature; that it prescribes forgiveness and mutual trustfulness, that it leaves us free, making room for all fresh conditions of society, which we must meet as they come to view; that it is the book of hope. The perception of the Social problem and its urgency is the pledge, to those who have the Bible in their hands, of it happy and complete solution.
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