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KINGDOM OF CHRIST.
BY GEORGE ROBERTSON,
" They shall speak of the glory of thy kingdom.” « Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded.”
ADAM & CHARLES BLACK ; . JAMES MACLEHOSE, GLASGOW; PETER REIN, WICK: JAME REID, TAIN; WILLIAM REID, KIRKWALL;
MISS RUSSELL, THURSO.
Nore.-During the last forty years, a variety of useful tracts
PRINTED AT THE JOHN O'GROAT JOURNAL OFFICE, WICK.
The kingdom of Christ consists of Christ its King or Head, and the subjects of his grace, having privileges and laws from him for their supply and government, in the use of which they serve him for promoting his cause and glory. It is otherwise called the “church of Christ," and the “church of God," and is a “ kingdom not of this world,” as will appear from the following view of its King, subjects, laws, and administration.
1. As Head of the church, Christ is the eternal Jehovah, “ God manifest in the flesh"-"God's only begotten and wellbeloved Son,"—his fellow as well as servant,--and “ loving righteousness and hating iniquity," and having “all power in heaven and in earth" for executing truth and righteousness, he is fully qualified for supreme and universal government.
Being found qualified, he was constituted Head of the Church by his Father, who set him at his own right hand, and gave him authority to execute judgment. John v. 27; by right of purchase, by which he is “a Son over his own house.” Heb. iii. 6 ;-and by right of conquest, by which all things are subject to him. Eph. i. 20-23. And being thus constituted, he is to the Church the head source of spiritual life. John xiv. 19--Col. i. 18 ;-the fountain head of supply. Col. ii. 19 ;-the head bond of unity and influence. Eph. iv. 15, 16;--and the head of all government, authority, and power. Col. ii. 10.
It is evident from this view of headship relation, that Christ is not the head of any church composed of a “inixed multitude,” who have no spiritual relation to him. He is not the head of the dead, but of the living. Nor is he the head of those who do not obey him. It is plainly shewn, that those who are not governed by Bible rule are “not holding the head,” Col. ii. 16-19.
Nor is Christ the Head of the nations, as he is the Head of the church. “He is the head of the body, the church,"
Col. i. 18, but “the head over all things to the church, which is his body,” Eph. i. 22, 23. “ The kingdom is the Lord's, and he is the governor among the nations," Psalm xxii. 28. 6. The kingdom” is his own peculiar purchased property, united to him, and living by faith in him, under his moral government ; but the nations, as such, are the subjects merely of his providential government. The church is extended by the agents of his grace in the use of truth and persuasion, producing the obedience of an enlightened and willing people in things pertaining to God. The nations are yoverned liy magistrates and others, as the agents of Providence, for controlling men by the power of the sword, so as to maintain the temporal rights and interests of mankind. By confounding those distinct provinces of Government, men have conjoined the agents of grace and of providence,-mixing things spiritual and temporal, so as to form that compound of corruption, called * the mystery of iniquity” and “the man of sin,” which, in various forms, has long stood as the rival enemy of the kingdom of Crist. It is no doubt the duty of “every creature"-kings and subjects—to repent and believe the gospel, and obey Christ in all things. It is not, however, as members of the nation, but as members of the church, that Christians are required to promote the kingdom of Christ. The laws relating to the propagation of the gospel were given to the church, and not to the kings of the earth, who, ruling by the power of the sword, are unsuitable agents for promoting a cause in which the use of the sword is forbidden. It is a remarkable fact, that, though rebuking sin in the ungodly, and commanding them to repent, Christ gave no instruction concerning christian duty to ang but his disciples- a fact which plainly marks his spiritual headship as not extending beyond his chosen and faithful followers.
2. The subjects of Christ's kingdom are the subjects of his redeeming grace, as none else can hold the headship of Christ, and none else have a right to enter into that kingdom, or capacity to use and enjoy its privileges. The intrusion of false professors tends only to deceive their souls, to harden their hearts, to confirm their hyprocrisy, and to increase their guilt, -and also to desecrate the christian ordinances, to render others partakers of their sins, to corrupt the church, to stumble the world, to hinder the work of God, and to dishonour the Saviour.
That which constitues a true christian, is union and communion with Christ, formed and sustained by the belief and
obedience of divine truth rendered effectual by the power of the Holy Spirit, John viii. 31, 32. 1st John ii. 24. Renewed principle is formed by receiving the revelation of the glorious person and sacrifice of Christ, which produces true conviction of sin, and affords a proper ground of justification and of hope, whereby the mind is also reconciled to God, regenerated, and placed under the delightful obligations of redeeming love, to serve and glorify God. And the same views and application of the cross of Christ by faith, are essential for sustaining the life of godliness during the whole process of sanctification, Heb. xii. 1, 2.
It has been a question with some, whether a true christian can be known. Some, whose christianity is rendered doubtful to themselves and others by neglecting the will of God, in consistency with their doubts as to their own state, naturally contend that a true christian cannot be known; and those who patronise impure communion, are driven to seek support from the same opinion, misrepresenting those who think otherwise, by accusing them of assuming the divine prerogative of judging the heart, though such judge only according to the rule, “ By their fruits ye shall know them.” Yet these accusers do not hesitate, in other circumstances, to express their judgment of some as being true christians, and of others as being wanting in evidence of relation to Christ. It is required that believers of the truth should “ discern between the righteous and the wicked,-between him that serveth God, and him that serveth him not,” Mal. iii. 18. Though no man's christianity can be known, as such, with absolute certainty to himself or to others, as known to God, it is easy to know by the views, temper, and conduct of many professors, that they are not christians; and that it is intended that consistent christians should be known as such to one another, and even to the world, is evident from the following texts : John xiii. 35. 2nd Cor. iii. 2. 1st John ii. 5-ij. 18, 19-iv. 20-v. 13, 19, 20. A mutual recognition of christian character, is also an essential element in the social constitution, as otherwise it would be impossible to sustain the confidence of brotherly love, or to perform in faith and with a good conscience the peculiar duties of christian fellowship, Mat. vii. 6 ; 2nd Cor. vi, 14-18.
The scriptures teach that a true christian may be known by his open confession of the truth, John xii. 42, with Acts iv. 13 ;-by hearing Christ, John x. 27; xviii. 37,- by likeness to Christ, 2nd Cor. iii, 2, 3 ;-by love to the brethren, John xiii. 35 ;-by self-denial in seeking to please God and