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and of his kingdom there shall be no end.' 'For,' as the Apostle saith, ' because he humbled'himself, 'and became' obedient unto death, even the death of the cross, therefore God hath highly exalted him, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principalities, and powers, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come.'
Now the immediate effect of this entrance of Christ upon his regal power, is the subduing of his enemies, and the advancement and protection of his friends; for, as St. Paul saith, ' He is set down on the right hand of God, from henceforth expecting till bis enemies be made his footstool;' and the text declares, 'Thou hast ascended on high, thou hast led captivity captive, thou hast received gifts for men, yea, for the rebellious also, that the Lord God might dwell among them.' To each of these subjects, we may profitably devote a brief consideration.
Christ Jesus, as a King, subdues his enemies, first, temporal, and secondly spiritual. His power over his temporal enemies was fearfully displayed in the destruction of the Jews, according to his own prediction, 'Verily, I say unto you, that there be some standing here which shall not taste of death, until they see the Son of Man, coming in his kingdom.' For, in less than forty years, while St. John, and, perhaps, some of the other Apostles were yet living, he did, indeed, come with the, extenninating vent geance of an insulted monarch, upon that devoted and wretched nation. Jerusalem was destroyed. Famine and pestilence, fire and sword, slavery and death were the portion of those cruel men who had crucified the Lord of life and glory: and their own imprecation was awfully verified, for his blood was on them and on their children, aiid ha* never been wiped off, to this day.
The next enemies who felt his avenging power were the Romans. They had united with the Jews in Christ's crucifixion, and afterwards resisted the progress of his Gospel by ten successive and inhuman persecutions. But they suffered innumerable evils from constant wars, rapines, tumults, civil dissensions, and tyranny. The city of Rome itself was taken and sacked, when the Christians were preserved, while the heathen perished: till at length, the worship of all their idols was overthrown, and the whole empire arrayed itself under the banner of Christ Jesus. And in like manner has his dominion be,en exercised on all others, whether nations or individuals, for to his sceptre the rebel must submit, or be destroyed.
But the spiritual enemies of Christ, are those who op^ pose his kingdom in a way, invisible to us, except as we behold the awful consequences. Sin and death, are thus said, metaphorically, to have their dominions. 'Sin,' saith the Apostle, 'hath reigned unto death;' 'and death,' saith he elsewhere, ' reigned from Adam to Moses.' The arch enemy, however, is Satan, who, being driven from heaven, set up his kingdom in our earth, and so became the prince of this world. All these, our exalted'Saviour controls, and compels them to submit to his dominion. Sin, he removes and enables us to conquer: death, he makes the avenue to life eternal: and Satan, he permits to follow his evil machinations no farther than they can be overruled for the welfare of Christ's people and the demonstration of his glory. Thus even now, the government of our exalted Lord is effectual in the restraining and controlling of his enemies, and shall hereafter be manifested in their total and eternal ruin.
On the other hand, he displays his sovereign power in the protection and advancement of his friends ;—of all those
who, although belonging to a rebellious race, and once themselves rebels against him, yet abandon their opposition, receive his gracious offers of pardon, and gladly become the citizens of his commonwealth—the members of his household—rejoicing to have him to reign over them. To his foes he exhibits his power with reluctance, for 'judgment is his strange work,' and he ' doth not willingly afflict nor grieve the children of men;' but to his friends he delights to show his grace, and to manifest his glory. He descended from the bosom of the Father, for the sake of our rebellious world; for them he endured the cross, despising the shame; for them he consented to take upon him the fqrm of a servant, to become obedient unto death, to make his soul an offering for sin, and to bear the awful weight of their transgressions. For them he conquered death and hell, and burst the fetters of the tomb, and ascended up on high, leading their captivity captive; for them he sat down in the mediatorial throne at the right hand of the Majesty on high, and received gifts of grace, mercy, peace, love, and joy, to send amongst them. But beyond all this is the paternal love which leads him to take up his habitation with his people, dwelling in their hearts by his Spirit, watching over their ways by his Providence, averting all evil from them by his power, cheering their souls by his presence, and tenderly leading them through the trials and temptations of this life, so as to prepare them for his immediate and visible government in the kingdom of his glory. Then shall arrive the period intimated in the text, when the 'Lord God shall dwell among them;' when they shall no longer see through a glass darkly, but face to face; when their knowledge shall no longer be confused or imperfect, but they shall know even as they are known; when the King himself shall clothe them in the robes of his own righteousness, as a bride adorned for her husband; when they shall roam by the green pastures and the still waters of comfort; when the gracious hand of the Redeemer shall wipe all tears from their eyes, and sorrow and sighing shall be known no more.
It remains, my brethren, as properly belonging to our subject, that we notice the duration of the kingdom of Christ, for, although this enters not into the Apostles' Creed, yet it makes a part of the Nicene formulary, where we profess to believe that ' of his kingdom there shall be no end.'
Now on this point there is a passage in St. Paul's first epistle to the Corinthians, which has given rise to some controversy. For, speaking of the destruction of death, whom the Apostle calls 'the last enemy,' and of that period after the resurrection and general judgment, when Christ shall have subdued all things to himself, the inspired penman expresses himself thus: 'Then,' saith he, 'cometh the end, when Christ shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule, and all authority and power. For when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that hath put all things under him, that God may be all in all.' This passage does undoubtedly seem, at first view, to convey the idea, that Christ shall cease to be a king at some future period. But other Scriptures as plainly assert, and in a far greater number of passages, that ' he shall reign far ever and ever.' Thus saith the prophet, 'of his government there shall be no end.' So said the angel to the blessed Virgin, 'of his kingdom there shall be no end.' So, the Psalmist, in a passage which St. Paul himself applies to Christ, saith, • # t
'Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever, a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom.' So'St. Peter calls it the 'everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ,' and St. John saith 'The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign for ever and ever.' The same eternity of government is expressed in the description of the glory of the saints. 'They shall see his face,' saith the Apostle, 'his name shall be on their forehead, the Lord God shall enlighten them, and they shall reign for ever and ever.' Now the spirit of infidelity lays hold on these apparent inconsistencies for the purpose of producing confusion; but, it is the duty of faith to understand them in such a sense as shall preserve a just unity amongst the whole. St. Peter has informed us that in St. Paul's epistles are ' some things hard to be understood, which the unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other Scriptures, to their own destruction ;' and, doubtless, it is owing altogether to a hasty and presumptuous spirit on our own part, if these or any other portion of the blessed word of God be supposed to contradict the rest.
To understand this matter, therefore, correctly, it must be recollected that Christ Jesus sustains a double relation in his regal office. As God, he is One with the Father, and his kingdom, in this respect, can have no end. But as man, he is a mediator, his human nature has been exalted to the right hand of the Father, and all power and judgment have been committed to him, and shall continue to be exercised until the end, when mediation shall be no longer necessary. Then he will cease to exercise this delegated royalty, and will deliver it up to Him from whom it was received. But still as we read that the saints themselves shall reign for ever, much more shall we believe that