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when the Israelites desired a king,' that they might be like the other nations of the earth, they entreated the prophet Samuel to appoint him, instead of proceeding themselves to an election. Saul2 was then made king, but by the express command of God. And when he neglected or violated the established laws of the kingdom, the crown was transferred, directly, by the same divine authority, from him and his family, to the house of Jesse3 and to the youngest of Jesse's sons.
In like4 manner, Solomon was invested, by the command of God, with the regal dignity, to the exclusion of his elder brothers, who otherwise would have seemed to have had a prior claim. The kings of Israel, therefore, were only viceroys, appointed to govern under the King, according to the laws which He had made, having no authority, either individually or jointly with the people, to change any part of the written law. He, therefore, whose right the crown is, and to whom it is given, can be no other than the Messiah, who is so often called in the Scriptures Zion's King.
This will be further confirmed and elucidated by considering Ezekiel's prophecy of the crown in connexion with a symbolical one of Zechariah on the same subject. The prophecy which takes away the crown
was delivered a short time before the burning of Jerusalem, and the carrying away of its inhabitants to Babylon. And as soon as the Jews return from the captivity the crown becomes again the subject of prophecy. “ Take,"5 says the Lord to Zechariah, “ silver and gold, and make crowns, and set them on the head of Josedech, the high priest; and speak unto him, saying, thus speaketh the Lord of Hosts, saying, Behold the man, whose name is the Branch; and He shall grow up out of His place; and He shall build the temple of the Lord: even He shall build the temple of the Lord; and He shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon His throne; and He shall be a priest upon His throne; and the counsel of peace shall be between them both."
This is a symbolical prophecy of the Lord; for its “ characteristic signature,” the Branch, precludes the application of it to
11 Samuel, viii.
2 1 Samuel, ix. ; xv.
Zechariah, vi. 12, 13.
3 1 Samuel, xvi.
another. Besides, he who is crowned, builds the house of the Lord, is a king and a priest, uniting between the throne and priesthood the counsel of peace: but Jesus only does these things; builds the house, bears the glory, and unites in His own Person the office of priest and king: thereby causing mercy
and truth to meet together; righteousness and peace to kiss each other.
Accordingly, we find that the Lord Jesus claimed during His ministry, and exercised after His ascension, the sovereignty in its most fundamental points. While on earth He declared Himself to be greater than the temple, and Lord even of the Sabbath-day;' and shortly after his ascension He2 abrogated the ceremonial law, and opened the kingdom to all who would repent, believe, and be baptized. And St. Paul, almost in the language and in the imagery of the Apocalypse, says, “We see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with honour and glory."3
HE WENT FORTH CONQUERING AND TO (THAT HE MIGHT)
CONQUER. This intimates a continued course of conquest; each victory preparing the way for new ones.
The propagation of the Gospel, which is the subject of this part of the seal, is popularly ascribed to the apostles, and in the same way, it is called the victory of the church; but in the prophecies and in the other parts of the Scripture, the Lord is the agent, and the missionaries are instruments in his hands. In the symbolical prophecies which have been cited to illustrate the seal, the Lord is the archer, Judah, Ephraim, and the sons of Zion, His bow and arrows. And so, in other prophecies, the whole work of bringing forth judgment to the Gentiles, and setting truth in the earth, is ascribed to Him. Thus in Isaiah: “ Behold my servant whom I uphold; mine elect in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon Him; He shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles. . . . He shall bring forth judgment unto truth; He shall not fail, nor be discouraged, till He have set judgment in the earth."4
2 Acts, x.
| Matthew, xii. 6, 8. 3 Hebrews, ii. 2, kotedavwuevov. otepavos, Revelation, vi. * Isaiah, xlii., 1-7, compare ii., 4, Zep. iii., 9.
Let us now briefly review the means by which this great work was effected. The Lord, before He ascended into heaven, said to His disciples: “ All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye, therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost; teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you; and, lo, I am with you always even unto the end of the world."
Here is a distinct promise from the Lord of being always present with the apostles, in their missionary labours, and with all who should be lawfully called to perform the same work. For the promise of a continued presence, even to the end of the world, necessarily implies a succession of men, and shews that it is not to be restricted to the apostles, who were soon to pass from this scene of trial and of labour. But both the promise and the prophecy will be best illustrated by considering somewhat in detail the account, which has been left us, of the Lord's dealings with St. Paul.
I. St. Paul was converted by the Lord: “And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus; and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: and he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? And he said, who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus, whom thou persecutest.
.. And he trembling and astonished, said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou shalt do!"2
II. The Lord himself revealed the Christian religion to St. aul, and prepared and appointed him to be an apostle. The facts are thus stated in the Epistle to the Galatians :3 “ Paul, an apostle not of men, neither by men, but by Jesus Christ. ... I certify you, brethren, that the Gospel which was preached of me, is not after man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ."
III. The apostle was appointed to preach the Gospel to the Gentiles especially, but it was not left to himself to determine and select the scene of his missionary labours; for he is often
| Matthew, xxviii., 19, 20.
2 Acts, ix., 3, &c. 3 Gal., i., 1. 12, compare verses 17, &c., c. ii., v. 6-8, &c., 2 Cor., xii., 11.
prohibited from preaching in one country, commanded to proceed to another, to remain in this, or to depart from that city, in order that he may be sent to a third. Thus, for example, the Lord commands him to leave Jerusalem, saying, "I will send thee far hence to the Gentiles. .. for as thou hast testified of Me in Jerusalem, so must thou bear witness also at Rome."2
IV. The Lord not only sends His missionaries to particular countries, but He also prepares the way, by disposing the people to hear them. “ And a certain woman, named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard us: whose heart the Lord opened that she attended unto the things that were spoken of Paul."?
V. The Lord was with the apostle to support and encourage him in all his difficulties. “ Then* spake the Lord to Paul in the night, by a vision, Be not afraid, but speak, and hold not thy peace: for I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to hurt thee.
And when there arose a great dissension, the chief captain fearing lest Paul should have been pulled in pieces by them, commanded the soldiers to go down, and to take him by force from among them, and to bring him into the castle. And the night following the Lord stood by him, and said, be of good cheer, Paul.”5
Two historical testimonies, the one of a Sacred writer, the other of a heathen, will remind the reader of the extent and rapidity of these spiritual conquests.
The Sacred writer says—" This was known to all the Jews and Greeks also dwelling at Ephesus; and fear fell on them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified. And many that believed came, and confessed and shewed their deeds. Many of them also which used curious arts brought their books together, and burned them before all men: and they counted the price of them, and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver. So mightily grew the word of God and prevailed. And the same time there arose no small stir about that way. certain man named Demetrius, a silversmith, which made silver
Acts, xvi. 9, 10; xviij. 9, 10; xxii. 18 ; Gal. ii. 2. ? Acts, xxiii. 11. 3 Acts, xvi. 14.
Acts, xviii. 9, 10. 5 Acts, xxiii. 11. For miracles, compare Acts, xix. 11, xiv. 3 ; Mark, xvi. 20.
shrines for Diana, brought no small gain unto the craftsmen; whom he called together, with the workmen of like occupation, and said, Sirs, ye know that by this craft we have our wealth. Moreover, ye see and hear, that not alone at Ephesus, but almost throughout all Asia, this Paul hath persuaded and turned away much people, saying, that they be no gods which are made with hands: so that not only this our craft is in danger to be set at nought, but also the temple of the great goddess Diana should be despised, and her magnificence should be destroyed, whom all Asia and the world worshippeth. And when they heard these sayings they were full of wrath,” &c.
Pliny went into Bithynia, as Trajan's lieutenant, about the year 106 or 107; as soon as he had reached that province he found Christianity prevailing everywhere throughout his jurisdiction, and heathenism nearly ruined. His position being difficult and embarrassing, he wrote an official despatch to inform the emperor of the state of affairs, the steps he had taken to check the evil, and to ask for advice to guide him in his future proceedings. In this official letter, which is still extant, he distinctly alleges that Christianity had extended itself so widely in the cities, towns, and open country, that the temples were almost entirely forsaken (prope etiam desolata templa), that the sacred solemnities had been long discontinued (sacra solemnia diu intermissa), that scarcely a purchaser could be got for a victim” (rarissimus).
It will be recollected that the end and object of the Revelation is to bear testimony to Jesus and His kingdom.
To recapitulate : when the first seal is opened, a horseman is
| Acts, xix. 17, &c. “ These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also,"—Ib. xvii.
2 It was the opinion of the heathens that their gods fed on the victims. (Deut. xxxii. 38.) They were now, according to the prophecy, beginning to be famished. “ The Lord will be terrible unto them: for He will famish all the gods of the earth ; and men shall worship Him, eve y one from his place, even all the isles of the heathen.”—Zeph. ii., 11. Three things are foretold in this brief prophecy. First—The fall of the Jewish polity. For, it was an essential part of it that all the worshippers of God should repair three times every year to Jerusalem, or to the place where God had put His name. But according to the prophecy, the time would come when every one would worship Him from his place. Second— The fall of heathenism: for the gods would be famished. Third— The propagation of the Christian religion ; for men shall worship Him, every one from his place.