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WITH SUITABLE PRAYERS AND OFFICES OF DEVOTION,
DE FORE THÉ CIVIL TRIBUNAL OF PILALE AND
THE GOOD CONFESSION WHICH CHRIST MADE
PILATÉ THE ROMAN GOVERNOR.
We have before observed, that the point concerning Christ's kingdom was under examination before the civil tribunal of Pilate. For the high Priests and Elders having accused our blessed Saviour of pretending to be a king, Pilate questioned him about that particular, and asked him, art thou the king of the Jews ? But our blessed Lord, before he returned a direct answer to this question, put a previous question to Pilate, in order to learn what idea he had annexed to this title, the king of the Jews. Accordingly Jesus said unto Pilate, Savest thou this of thyself, or did others tell it thee of me? Pilate, in
deed, seems to have resented this answer, and by another question, viz. 'What hast thou done?” was for putting the cause on another issue. But our blessed Saviour keeps to the essential point; and answering Pilates former question in the words which we have cited above, makes a good confession of the true nature of his kingdom.
This he does with the greatest wisdom, discretion, and foresight; so that in the first place, accor. ding to the idea which Pilate had conceived of the accusation, namely that a temporal king was therein meant, he answers the question in the negative. But on the contrary, with regard to the sense which the title of king of the Jews bears in the writings of the prophets, his answer is affirmative. By this our Blessed Lord has set his suffering members a pattern of wisdom and prudence, and shews how to make proper distinctions in answering intricate, ambiguous, and ensnaring questions.
Hence it appears that this good confession of Christ concerning his kingdom consists of two parts.
In the first part of his confession, Jesus rectifies the false notion that Pilate had formed of his kingdom, and gives him to understand, that he is no temporal king.
In the second, he explains the true nature of his kingdom, and shews that he is a spiritual king.
I. In the first part of our Saviour's wise and good confession, wherein he rectifies the false idea which Pilate had of his kingdom, we may observe these three particulars.
First, He confesses that he really has a kingdom ; for he expressly mentions it no less than three times in these words: My kingdom is not of this world; if my kingdom were of this world--but now my kingdom is not from hence. With what right our blessed Lord makes this declaration, and his motives to it, we shall shew from the second part of his confession.
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Secondly, He describes his kingdom, and distinguishes it from earthly kingdoms, saying, "My kingdom is not of this world.” Our blessed Saviour does not say that his kingdom is not in this world ; for the communion of saints, who acknowledge Jesus Christ for their king, is already formed in this world from among the human race. his kingdom is not of this world, i. e. it is not of the same nature with earthly kingdoms. As if our Lord had said, “ My kingdom is no earthly kingdom, is not governed in a political manner according to human laws and institutions; nor is it defended by car. nal weapons or temporal arms, or conducted with external pomp and ceremony; and consequently the Roman emperor has nothing to fear from it. I shall not in the least alienate his subjects from their alle. giance to him, nor encroach on his temporal rights.'
It is true, the kingdoms of this world are under the control of the son of God, who, together with his Father, so appoints, disposes, and orders their power and limits, as best contributes to the chastisement of his people, or the protection of his church. Therefore, in his character of the eternal wisdom, he says, * By me kings reign, and princes decree justice,' (Prov. viii. 15, 16.) They all hold their dominions ás fiefs from the King of kings and Lord of lords, and must acknowledge, that the most High ruleth in the kingdoms of men, and giveth them to whomsoever he will,' (Dan. iv. 17.) But the proper kingdom of Jesus Christ, which he here emphatically calls “My kingdom,' [i.e. the kingdom, which he governs as mediator between God and man and whose subjects he purchased with his blood] is no worldly kingdom, but a heavenly kingdom, or the kingdom of heaven, as it is frequently termed in the gospel.
This kingdom of the Messiah, is in several respects, directly opposite to the kingdoms of this world. No unrighteousness has place there. No tears of the oppressed are seen, nor the groans of