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Christ's kingdom cometh without obserbation.
[Preached at S. Giles’, April 10, 1842.)
Luke xvii, 20.
"THE KINGDOM OF GOD COMETH NOT WITH OBSERVATION."
In reading the Gospels, we cannot have failed to remark, how continually the Jews were seeking of our Lord a sign from heaven. And this request seems very strange, when we bear in mind the numberless miracles which our Lord wrought. Surely,' we are led to exclaim, 'He healed the sick, He gave sight to the blind, He cleansed the lepers, He cast out devils, He raised the dead, what other sign could they possibly require ? And yet they were not satisfied, but sought of our Lord a sign.
Let us compare this language of theirs with that of the children of Israel at an earlier period in their history, when at length, settled in the promised Canaan, the excitement of
conquest was over, and they were to live quietly in the observance of those institutions, which God, by the hand of Moses, had given them. Joshua had asked the people publicly to choose, whom they would worship and serve.
“And the people answered and said, God forbid that we should forsake the Lord to serve other Gods; for the Lord our God, He it is that brought us up and our fathers out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage, and which did those great signs in our sight, and preserved us in all the way wherein we went, and among all the nations through whom we passed.” It is very plain what signs are here alluded to, as fully assuring the wavering Israelites not to forsake the Lord their God, and compelling them to a temporary stedfastness in their adherence to Him.
The great signs, which were done in their sight, were those mighty miracles, by which they were brought up out of Egypt, and led
i Joshua xxiv. 16, 17.
through the howling wastes of the wilderness. They were those grievous plagues by which the land of their oppression was smitten; the wonderful passage through the Red Sea ; the destruction of their enemies in the same waters, which were safety to them; the terrible and awful magnificence of Mount Sinai; the miraculous food from heaven; these, and many such as these, were the signs, to which the Israelites appealed, when they chose the Lord for their God. And we are at once struck with the grandeur, the splendour, the awfulness, and, above all, the publicity of these signs; they could truly say, that they were done in their sight.
Now our Lord wrought many miracles, and very wonderful ones; but it is clear, that for some cause they did not satisfy the Jews, or why did they continue to ask a sign from heaven? what was this cause?
Let us call to mind the miracles of our Lord, and we shall at once remark, that in their nature and character they were very different from those which God wrought by the hand of Moses. And that, too, inasmuch as they introduced a different dispensation. The new dispensation of religious blessings brought in by our Saviour, to establish which He came down upon earth, was ushered in by the miracles which He wrought ; and this new dispensation is what is called the kingdom of God, or the kingdom of heaven, the dispensation of the Christian Church. Now the kingdom of God cometh not with observation or outward show, and would not, therefore, the miracles, which introduced it, partake of this character ? and may not this peculiarity, especially when compared with the publicity of the Mosaic miracles, partly account for the request so repeatedly made by the Jews of our Lord, “ Shew us a sign from heaven?"
Let us compare the miracles of our Lord Jesus Christ with those which God worked by Moses, and the comparison will not have been made in vain, if we are led thereby to a more due apprehension and understanding of the difference between the Christian dispensation and that which preceded it. At all events, we may be able to see more clearly, how “the kingdom of God cometh not with observation."
Now first, you will observe that the miracles of our Lord were acts of kindness and mercy, and that they affected men's hearts by the passions of sympathy and love. I do not mean to say, that it was not an awful thing to witness such displays of power, as He exercised over diseases and evil spirits : but still in all was vividly shewn His tenderness and compassion to poor, fallen man. an awful thing to raise the dead, but still, when the widow received back her only son, with what love and gratitude must she have adored the merciful Saviour, who had sympathized in her desolation and suffering. If you examine the miracles of our Lord, you will find them all of this compassionate character. A poor cripple, well-nigh worn out with long waiting for relief at the pool of Bethesda, is at once healed; blind beggars, by the way side, are restored to sight; a dear servant at the request of his master, - a daughter on the earnest petition of her mother, - such are the persons who are the subjects of His supernatural power. There was love and tenderness in all; and these qualities are peculiarly of a quiet, retiring,
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