2 Chronicles 25:18
And Joash king of Israel sent to Amaziah king of Judah, saying, The thistle that was in Lebanon sent to the cedar that was in Lebanon…
Our parable thus distinguishes between true and false union. The true is inward and real; the false is outward and superficial. The true rests on the fitness of things and on eternal laws; the false relies on the capriciousness of human nature and the ebb and flow of circumstances. The false comes through conquest, coercion, and oppression; the true comes from God, righteousness and liberty. You will find these two kinds of union facing us in all relations of life. Take the history of Christianity in the world.
1. The aim of the Roman Catholic Church has been to create union among all Christians. But, while the aim has been good, the method employed has been bad. The union thus sought has been a false one because it has tried to coerce and compel men to acknowledge the Pope to be the one earthly vicar of Christ.
2. A similar policy has been that of the Established Church of England. As soon as the prayer-book was compiled a series of Acts of Parliament were passed — the Act of Uniformity, etc. — to compel all British subjects to conform to its teaching. An effort was made to establish union by Acts of Parliament. The effort with a right and noble aim has failed because based on false methods.
3. Dissenters have also erred in like manner. At the assembly of Westminster divines a number of eminent Christian men drew up a set of doctrines, which were to be the infallible guide for a section of the followers of Christ. If a carpenter has a certain number of boards to make he gets the wood that is necessary; he takes his measurements; he cuts and planes each board exactly to the size, and length, and breadth, and thickness that he desires; he joins the boards together and makes the box, or floor, or other article as the case may be. All are united to complete the one object intended. But it is impossible for us to apply the word "union" in this sense to intelligent, thinking human beings. You may cut, measure wood and inanimate objects as you please, but here you have to do with "creatures" in whom there is the "Divine gift of reason and free-will." If you wish to unite men under any government, religious or political, you must first appeal to their reason, and leave them free to act as that reason leads them. The only true basis of union among human beings is the "Presence of God" — in other words, righteousness, justice, liberty, and truth. For where righteousness, justice, liberty, and truth are, there God is. The members of a family are united not by bearing the same name, resembling each other in stature and features, but by doing what is right and just to each other, and by loving one another. The members of the Church of Christ are not united by repeating the same creed, by meeting in the same place of worship, by calling themselves by the same name, but by having hearts glowing with love to one Saviour, and by gladly serving their one Lord. The people of a nation are united together not by national prejudices and oppressive laws so much as by their common loyalty to a righteous and just government.
Parallel VersesKJV: And Joash king of Israel sent to Amaziah king of Judah, saying, The thistle that was in Lebanon sent to the cedar that was in Lebanon, saying, Give thy daughter to my son to wife: and there passed by a wild beast that was in Lebanon, and trode down the thistle.
WEB: Joash king of Israel sent to Amaziah king of Judah, saying, "The thistle that was in Lebanon sent to the cedar that was in Lebanon, saying, 'Give your daughter to my son as his wife; then a wild animal that was in Lebanon passed by, and trampled down the thistle.