Speaking of that ideal church, our Lord, through the prophet John, says, "Here is the patience of the saints, they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus." Rev. 14:12. The Word says, in speaking of Christ's work for His church; "That He might present the church to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish." Eph. 5:27. One of the petitions in Christ's last recorded prayer was, "that they may all be one;" and concerning the place which His followers were to occupy in this world Christ declares: "They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world." John 17:16. Therefore the ideal church will not be mixed up in the politics of the world. It will not turn aside from its special work. Again, the ideal church must be a missionary church and obey the command, "Go ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature." There has never yet been a time in the history of the world when the church could plead that it had accomplished its purpose in forwarding the interests of Christ's kingdom, and could then join with the state in helping to straighten out the affairs of the kingdoms of this world. The church has on its hands the greatest enterprise in all the world. In the world, but not of it; married to Christ; not united in any way to the state; fully absorbed in God's work alone; loyal to God in all circumstances; obedient to all His commandments exercising "the faith of Jesus."
The state is a legitimate institution. Being such, it has a field distinctly its own. Anarchy is as much opposed to God's purpose as it is to the governments against which it aims its poisoned arrows. The purpose of the ideal state is to safeguard individual rights. It must sit as a judge upon the cases of those who wantonly invade rights, destroy property, or chastity, or reputation, or take life. If it did not do this, there could be no excuse for its existence, and no guarantee of safety to person, life, or property. Because men will not respect the rights of others, the state used force to compel them to refrain from invading those rights.
The state can not compel men to cease being covetous, or to cease hating other men; but it can, through fear of punishment, to a great extent, compel them to refrain from taking the possessions of another, or allowing hate to manifest itself in murder. The ideal state can not punish for evil thoughts, but it can punish the evil thinker for carrying his evil thoughts into practice, and thus can and does to a great extent control and hold in check the flood of evil deeds that otherwise would flow unchecked. In other words, it does not demand righteousness, but civility.
The ideal state can demand of man no religious duty or service; for the state is not a deity. It can not demand that such duty or service be performed toward the God of heaven; for He, Himself, has placed before men every necessary requirement, made His service voluntary, not compulsory, and has delegated to no power nor institution on earth the authority to enforce any religious requirements or restrictions upon any soul. The right of choice is a sacred right which even Divinity will not invade. The ideal state, therefore, can not invade it.
Christ recognized the fact that the church and the state must stand each in its own sphere. "Render therefore unto Caesar [government] the things that are Caesar's; and unto God the things that are God's." Matt. 22:21.
The policeman is not the man to carry the Gospel message. He has no commission so to do. The minister of the Gospel has no business with the policeman's club or pistol or the warrior's sword or rifle. God has given him no commission to carry on the work. These stand for the state, not the church. The only weapon the Christian may carry is the sword of the Spirit. To teach and to convict men of sin and convert them to Christ, through the operation of the Holy Spirit this is the business of the ideal church. To protect the person, property, and liberties of the individual this is the business of the ideal state. Unite them, and you have a combination that has not been authorized of God, and can not but invade the rights of men in both domains. He who flees from civil punishments to the protection of a legalized creed has made himself a hypocrite and shut the door of heaven in his own face. And that is what every national religion every union of church and state has taught men to do. In the words of U. S. Grant, let us "Keep the church and state forever separate."