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However different the extent and outward form of the kingdom; however great its ultimate triumph and glories, this is still its peculiar feature and character-God, the Saviour, reigning supreme in the heart of the once alienated and rebellious sinner; and all dispensations are but hastening on the more fully this great result, over all the earth.

The just view of the church of Christ now is that of a kingdom; and the person and character of the King gives unspeakable, universal and everlasting importance and glory to this kingdom. He is God's only begotten Son, one with God from the beginning, and yet he was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and so has brought our nature into union with God. Thus, through this King, there is restored again to a fallen race, in this day of salvation, liberty of access to God, and delightful communion with him, as our Almighty Father. God the Father communicates through God the Son, to all that ask, his own Holy Spirit, and thus gives us the unspeakable blessedness of adoption into the divine family, enabling us to cry, Abba, Father. This is the kingdom of God in its beginning on earth; we are admitted into it outwardly by baptism, a means and pledge of its inward blessings. [307] We partake of those blessings by regeneration, through faith, and so are made meet here, in the varied dispensations of providence and grace, for the inheritance of the saints in light. All other kingdoms are subject to our King, for “all power in heaven and earth is given to him, and he will finally be manifested to be “King of kings and Lord of lords. By him kings reign and princes decree justice."

The names of this kingdom are varied; it is called the Kingdom of God,* as he is the Originator and Author, and his glory its great object; the kingdom of heaven, as it is heavenly in its origin and principles; it comes down from heaven, and tends

* There is a very elaborate excursus by Koppe, on the phrase the Kingdom of God, in which he goes through all the principal passages, containing the phrase in the New Testament, whether spoken before the birth of Christ, or by Christ himself, in his life, or his Apostles afterwards, and shews that they must not be understood merely of the Christian religion or church, or of the spiritual and invisible power by which Christ defends his church on earth, but of a kingdom yet to be set up by the Messiah. He first states that the Apostles adopted the phrase from the sacred writings, and the familiar discourses of the Jews, and refers to Psalm ii. xlv. cx. Isaiah ix. xi. xxv. 8. xxviii. 5. xlii. xlix. 6. lii. liii. Jer. xxiii. 5, 6. xxx. xxxi. xxxiii. 15. Ezek. xvii. 22. xxix. 21. xxxvii. 24. Hosea iii. 5. Micah iv. v. Zech. iii. 8. vi. 12. ix. 9. xiv. 9. Mal. iii. 1. Dan. ii. 44. vii. 13, 14. ix. 24–27. He shews that from these predictions, the Jews expected that the future king, or Messiah, was to restore the true worship of Jehovah, from which men in former ages had all gone astray; to strengthen their minds that they may keep it fast; to reform their conduct, expiate the sins of his people, and to suffer much, being neglected by the greater part of his nation; nevertheless that the same Messiah, sustained by divine power, should with splendour and majesty truly royal and divine,

to unite earth and heaven; it is the kingdom of Christ, as he is the reigning Monarch; and the kingdom of (308) Israel, as the Jews are to have a pre-eminence arising from the glory of their king, (Isa. lix. 20, 21, and lx.); and the everlasting kingdom, as the happiness of those belonging to it will endure for ever.

From the very beginning, the scripture prophecies, not obscurely intimate this kingdom, in such predictions as these"the seed of the woman shall bruise the head of the serpent:' (Gen. iii. 15.) "in thee and thy seed shall all the kingdoms of the earth be blessed:” xxii. 18. “unto him shall the gathering of the people be:" xlix. 10. "out of Jacob shall come he that shall have dominion.” Num. xxiv. 19.

In the Psalms of David, and in the promises made to him, we have a clear developement of this kingdom. See 2 Sam. vii. 10–16; Psalm lxxxix. 3, 4, 29, 36, 37; Psalm ii. lxxii. cx. &c. &c. These promises assured the throne of Israel to David's posterity for ever, by the strongest possible confirmation; and shew that his seed would be the long-promised and expected Messiah.

In the Prophets we have a still farther display of the glories and extent of the same kingdom. See Isaiah xxxii. lx. &c.; and it was still assured to David's seed, “If ye can break my covenant of the day, and my covenant of the night, and that there should not be day and night in their season, then may also my covenant be broken with David, my servant, that he should not have a son to reign upon his throne.Jer. xxxiii. 20, 21,

But through the sins of Israel, the times of the Gentiles were to come in, and a suspension of the actual reign of any kings, till the Messiah should come, was foretold. When the throne was overturned in the person of Zedekiah, Ezekiel was commissioned [309] to utter this memorable prediction against that last reigning king of Judah: “Remove the diadem, and take off the crown; this shall not be the same. Exalt him that is low, and abase him that is high: I will overturn, overturn, overturn, and it shall be no more, until he come whose right it is, and I will give it him.” Ezek. xxi. 26.

When our Lord was about to be born, the promise was by the angel directly applied to him as his right, The Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: and he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever, and of his kingdom there shall be no end.” Luke i. 32, 33.

govern his people, make war against their enemies, and free them from the yoke of a foreign power, and at length claim the empire of the world (in which the Romans then boasted) for his own nation; along with the setting up of the Messiah's kingdom, the Jews expected the end of the present condition of human beings, and the resurrection of the pious from the dead. See Koppe on Thessalonians, and Investigator, vol. ii. p. 208.

That these promises yet remain to be chiefly fulfilled, we judge from the following considerations,-1. Christ has never sat on the throne of David. —2. He has never reigned over the house of Jacob.*--3. Daniel predicts that his kingdom should be established on the ruins of the ten kingdoms of the Roman Empire, (Dan. ii. 42–44.)—4. The Apostles were told, that the time for restoring the kingdom to Israel was reserved in the Father's power.-5. All Christ's disciples have daily to pray, “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

There is, however, a preparatory and SPIRITUAL KINGDOM already established. Our Lord tells the Jews again and again, “The kingdom of heaven is at hand.” He compares it to "a field where tares and wheat [310] grow together till harvest.” Matt. xiii. 30. He warned them: “the kingdom of God shall be taken from you and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof,” xxi. 43. When men are truly converted, they are said to be delivered from the kingdom of darkness, and translated into the kingdom of God's dear Son,” Col. i. 13. We must not therefore lose sight of this spiritual kingdom. It is the bud before the flower. It is the growing of the seed before the harvest. It is the preparatory state of the kingdom; but it is not the power—it is not the full glory of the kingdom.

Of the origin of his kingdom our Lord speaks, when in answer to the question of Pilate, “Art thou the King of the Jews?” he replies, "My kingdom is not of this world-now is my, kingdom not from hence:” and when asked again, “Art thou a king?” Jesus answered, “Thou sayest that I am a king, to this end was I born; and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness of the truth." John xviii. 33–37. His kingdom is not of this world, but heavenly in its origin, in its support, in its end; the death of the Lord ended it not, for he rose, and ascended, and reigns on his Father's throne, till he returns in the glory of his Father, and proves by his divine majesty visibly to all, that his kingdom is of different principles and character from those of this world. 1 Tim. vi. 12-16.

* The Jews rejected our Lord when he first came (Luke xvii. 25.) and his shining as lightning from one part under heaven to the other, was to be after that (verse 24). A period is predicted, when they shall see him again, and shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord. Mait. xxiii. 39. It is admitted, that we know little of the way in which Christ shall reign over them; but we have seen nothing yet that meets the plainness and fulness of the promises,

Of the spiritual kingdom he tells the Pharisees, it cometh not with observation, but was then in the midst of them; while he tells his disciples in private, on the same occasion, they should desire to see one of the days of the Son of man, and yet not see it, and they need not go after those saying, See here, or see there, for the Son of man in his day should be visible, even [311] as "the lightning that lighteneth out of the one part under heaven and shineth unto the other part under heaven.”

The code of laws, as it were, regulating this spiritual kingdom, were given by our Lord in his sermon on the Mount. The anticipations of suffering, sacrifice and self-denial are everywhere set before the disciples, and the full recompense of reward only hereafter. Sorrow and tribulation are pointed out as the present path of the Christian. For the sake of the world, the day of vengeance on the wicked (as well as the day of glory for the righteous) is deferred.

There is a remarkable difference to be observed between our Lord's statements of the kingdom of heaven at the beginning, and at the close of his ministry. At the beginning of his ministry he says the kingdom of heaven is at hand. (Matt. iv. 17.) and so when he sent out the disciples they were to preach, the kingdom of God is come nigh unto you. Luke x. 11.

But as his ministry drew to its close, on his last journey to Jerusalem, he checked their hopes that the kingdom of God should immediately appear, and told them of his previous absence and return from a far country, (Luke xix. 11, 12.) and that the kingdom should not be nigh till the times of the Gentiles had been fulfilled. Luke xxi. 24–31. Thus, on his resurrection he deferred also their hopes to a distant period. Acts i. 6-8. Indeed, till the Jews had rejected their true Lord and King, the kingdom could not be said to be far off; as their rejection became more marked, the delay in the full establishment of the kingdom was made more plain. Yet our Lord still left, as we may see in his expression respecting John's tarrying till he came, (John xx. 21.) no clear light as to the lengthened delay of his return. Bengelius (312) refers this expression to his receiving the Apocalypse as a manifestation of Christ. *

The opposing statements harmonized also in this—THE KINGDOM OF GOD IN SPIRIT was at hand; the trials, the conflicts, the sacrifices were all, near, and the spiritual blessings, gifts and graces, and the hope of glory were all to be immediately enjoyed by faith. The gift of the Holy Ghost, the striving to enter, the ministers, the sacraments, the translation from the kingdom of darkness, the labours of Christ, the seed-time of glory, the righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Ghost, the one bond of love, these very elements and beginnings of the future glory were all brought to them at his first coming. But the VISIBLE KINGDOM OF God was distant, the crown of glory, the recompense of reward, the reigning with Christ, was, for infinitely wise, gracious, and holy ends, not to come soon.

* See also the author's notes on the expression, 'I come,' in his Chief Concerns of Man, 4th edition, p.

246.

But as the Jews lost sight of the Gentile election and spiritual kingdom, predicted by their prophets, so Christians seem to have lost sight of THE VISIBLE KINGDOM OF EARTH, yet to come. Dan. vii. 27.

So far from disregarding the spiritual kingdom, many modern writers have thought that it is the only kingdom of Christ on earth, and that the spiritual triumphs of the gospel before the thousand years, and its full and universal success during that period, is the full and only establishment of this kingdom of Christ in this world. This was the author's view for a lengthened period, till compelled by scriptural evidence, (as has been already laid before the reader, under the head of the coming of Christ) to abandon it as untenable.

[313] The instructions and parables of our Lord lead us to think that, till his return, the church will be distinct from the world; and that till then, there will be no universal reception of his gospel. It is impossible, in the author's view, to harmonize the various statements of scripture, and the expectations held out to believers through the epistles, of a kingdom yet to come, on the system of a merely spiritual and universal kingdom.

The remarkable question on this subject, put by the apostles to our Lord, deserves particular attention. After he had been speaking to them (Acts i.) during the forty days that he was seen of them, of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God, their minds were so excited, that the very last question which we read of their proposing to him before his ascension was, "Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?"* His reply was, “It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put into his own

* The connection of the kingdom given to Israel, and the kingdom of God, is brought before us here and in various Old Testament prophecies, though the exact nature of the connection, and the identity or difference of these kingdoms, is yet veiled in the obscurity of unfulfilled prophecy. It appears from Isaiah, that after the Redeemer comes to Zion, (Isa. lix. 20. Rom. xi. 26,) and the glory of the Lord is risen upon her, the Gentiles shall come to her light, and kings to the brightness of her rising. The prophet declares the abundance of the sea shall be converted unto thee, the forces of the Gentiles shall come unto thee; and asseris, the nation and kingdom that will not serve thee, shall perish, yea, those nations shall be utterly wasted, (Isaiah 1x. 5, 12;) and Zechariah connects with the coming of our Saviour and his saints, (Zech xiv. 8.) living waters going forth from Jerusalem; and then the blessed truth: The Lord shall be king over

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