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Even in the Apostle's life-time the Gospel had spread East, West, and South, far and wide, and the Church with it. Multitudes had been converted in all nations, and the Apostles were the acknowledged rulers of those multitudes. So wide and well-connected a polity there was not on the earth, even before their martyrdoms, except the Roman Empire itself, which was the seat of it.
And much more have the prophecies been fulfilled in later times. Many persons among us think that the history of the Church has been the fulfilment of those dark and fearful predictions, which speak of the city of confusion, and the man of sin. Now here I put the matter to a simple issue. Here are two sets of prophecies: one about the-Gospel Dispensation, in the Prophet Isaiah and his brethren; the other in Daniel, St. Paul, and St. John, about the great enemy of the Gospel. I ask, then, which of the two sets of prophecy is the more literally fulfilled in the history of the Church? In which have we the less need to betake ourselves to allegories, and explanations, and forced statements? which of the two has the fewer difficulties? Has there not, in fact, been a great corporation, or continuous body politic, all over the world, from the Apostles' days to our own, bearing the name of Church; one, and one only? Has it not spread in spite of all opposition, and maintained itself marvellously against the power of the world ? Has it not ever taken the cause of the poor and friendless against the great and proud ? Has it not succeeded by the use of weapons, not earthly and carnal, but by righteousness and mercy, as was foretold ? Has it not broken in pieces numberless kingdoms and conquerors which opposed it, and risen again, and flourished more than before, after the most hopeless reverses ? Has it not ever been at war with the spirit of the world, with pride, and luxury, and cruelty, and tyranny, and profaneness? Let us, then, glorify our Lord and Saviour for what He has said, what He has done. Surely we may use, and with fuller reason, if it be possible, the words of Solomon, “ Blessed be the Lord, that hath given rest unto His people Israel, according to all that He promised; there hath not failed one word of all His good promise, which He promised by the hand of Moses His servant. The Lord our God be with us, as He was with our fathers : let Him not leave us, nor forsake us : that He may incline our hearts unto Him, to walk in all His ways, and to keep His commandments, and His statutes, and His judgments, which He commanded our fathers. . . . . that He maintain the cause of His servant, and the cause of His people Israel, at all times, as the matter shall require; that all the people of the earth may know that the Lord is God, and that there is none else.”'*
SERMON X V11.
SANCTITY THE TOKEN OF THE CHRISTIAN EMPIRE.
Isaiah xi. 4.-" With righteousness shall He judge the poor, and
reprove with equity for the meek of the earth ; and He shall smite the earth with the rod of His mouth, and with the breath of His lips shall He slay the wicked.”
When Christ visited His Church in the flesh, He left it what it was, yet made it what it was not; He left it a Church, and He made it a kingdom. He made it a kingdom or empire, like those. four ungodly kingdoms which Daniel saw in vision, to which His Church was successively subjected, and to which His own Kingdom succeeded. But though it was as really a kingdom as it was a Church; yet, as it differed from its former state under the Law, though still a Church, so, though a kingdom, it differed in some essential respects from those heathen kingdoms to which the Prophet compares it.
What this great difference is, the text expresses. Kingdoms of this world are supported by weapons of this world ; but Christ's kingdom, though a visible, temporal kingdom, is in this world, but not of this world, and is maintained by weapons, not carnal, but heavenly. “With righteousness," says the Prophet, speaking of His rule, “and with equity;"> “ with the rod of His mouth,” by preaching and teaching,
by exhortation and confession; and “ with the breath of His lips,” by judgment and sentence, by denunciation and anathema.
As then it may in many ways be shown that the Church of Christ, though one Church with the Jewish, differs from it as being a kingdom ; so now let me dwell on this point, that though a kingdom like empires of the earth, it differs from them in being a Church, i. e. a kingdom of truth and righteousness.
Few words are necessary to show that it is thus described in Scripture; but some explanation may be necessary, in order to reconcile the description with its fulfilment.
First, then, as to Scripture. Our Lord, we know, calls it not only a kingdom, but a kingdom of heaven; or, as He says elsewhere, “My kingdom is not of this world.” Now the Prophets comment largely by anticipation on this title, and show what it implies. For instance, the work is attributed to Almighty God, not to man. “Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts.”* Again, “ Thou sawest,” says Daniel to Nebuchadnezzar, “till that a stone was cut out without hands, which smote the image upon his feet.”+ Again, “The word that goeth forth out of My mouth ... shall not return unto Me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.”I Again, we read of “the Spirit being poured upon us from on high, and the wilderness being a fruitful field, and the fruitful field being counted for a forest."'S Again, “So shall they fear the Name of the Lord from the west, and His glory from the rising of the sun : when the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him.”ll And again, “I will pour My Spirit upon thy seed, and My blessing
Dan. ii. 34.
* Zech. iv. 6.
$ Ib. xxxii. 15.
ch. im Ds. xxxii. 15. Dan. ii. 34. || Ib. lix. 19. lv.
# Isaiah lv. 11. || Ib. lix. 19.
· upon thine offspring; and they shall spring up as among the
grass, as willows by the water-courses. One shall say, I am the Lord's, and another shall call himself by the name of Jacob."*
Thus the empire was to be of a moral nature; and this is further seen by such words as “law," "light," and “righteousness," which are used in describing its progress. “Out of Zion shall go forth the Law, and the Word of the Lord from Jerusalem.”+ Again, “A Law shall proceed from Me, and I will make My judgment to rest for a light of the people.”! And again, “ For Zion's sake will I not hold My peace, and for Jerusalem's sake I will not rest, until the righteousness thereof go forth as brightness, and the salvation thereof as a lamp that burneth.'' And all such passages as the text, which speak of righteousness, equity, truth, and wisdom, being the attributes of the kingdom; or as the words in the Psalm, “Ride on, because of the word of truth, of meekness, and righteousness.”
The same thing is shown by such descriptions of the heavenly kingdom as speak of its risé as a creation; implying thereby that it was an inward change, resulting from moral influence, or the like cause, not an outward conquest. “I will say to the north, Give up ; and to the south, Keep not back : bring My sons from far, and My daughters from the ends of the earth; even every one that is called by My Name; for I have created him for My glory, I have formed him; yea, I have made him. Bring forth the blind people that have eyes, and the deaf that have cars.” Again, “Behold, I will do a new thing. ... I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert. . . . This people have I formed for Myself; they shall show forth My praise."||
And to the same purport are such passages as speak of
* Isaiah xliv. 3-5.
§ Ib. Ixii. 1.
| Ib. ii. 3.
# Ib. li. 4. || Ib. xliii. 6-8 19-21,