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you recommend to others, and that the system of faith and practice which you prescribe to your poorer neighbour, is that which is your own guide on earth, and your comfort in the hour of dissolution.
THE CONVERSION OF THE HEATHEN.
[Preached for the Church Missionary Society, at Whittington,
Salop, April 16, 1820.]
St. MATTHEW vi. 10
Thy kingdom come.
In the Divine prayer from which these words are taken, there is a twofold recurrence of the term God's kingdom. In the former instance we desire of our Father that His kingdom may come, and in the latter we acknowledge and recognise the kingdom of the Almighty as, together with His glory and His power, existing for ever and ever: a circumstance which should seem to point out to us two distinct and different manifestations of celestial authority, the one which is now and has been from the beginning of time, the other which is yet future, and is advancing to take place among men.
That the name of kingdom is familiarly and appropriately applied to the relationship which God bears to all created things as their Maker, Preserver and Governor, is plain not only from the natural reason of mankind, but from innumerable passages of Scripture. Even the heathen had so far a per
ception of this propriety, that they called their Jupiter the king of gods and men ; and to the Lord Jehovah the prophet David, in his address to his son Solomon, ascribes the same distinctive title in a splendid strain of pathetic eloquence: “ Thine, O Lord,” are his words, “is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty : for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is thine. Thine is the kingdom, O Lord, and Thou art exalted as head above all?!" The establishment of this kingdom, however, being the subject of our praises, not of our prayers, has no place among the petitions which our Lord has taught us to offer up, but is reserved with more propriety to the glorification or doxology by which those petitions are concluded.
But out of this universal empire over nature there was to arise, in process of time, an especial kingdom over the moral world, to which all the prophets of elder times bore witness, and which is described by the evangelists, as it was already familiarly spoken of by the Jews, as the kingdom of Heaven or of God. The good old Simeon waited for this consolation of his people when it was foretold to him that he should not depart before he had seen the Christ, or anointed Prince of Israel. It was the argument by which the Baptist moved his hearers to repentance that the kingdom of Heaven was fast approaching, and our blessed Lord
Himself, on His first appearance in Galilee, came preaching, as we are told, the good tidings of His Father's kingdom.
We cannot, therefore, be at a loss to determine that by this kingdom is meant the world under the Gospel dispensation. The person who rules over it is our Saviour, the Son and the Anointed of the Most High. Its laws and statutes are the Gospel which He has given, and its subjects are those who believe in and are called by His name.
The begin ning of this empire is to be dated from the time at which Jesus ascended into Heaven, and sate on the right hand of God, all power and rule over the Church being then committed to Him. The exercise of that power shall remain in the hands of the Messiah till all His enemies shall be put under His feet, and death itself shall be destroyed by Him. “ Then cometh the end 1,” when the Son shall deliver up again His mediatorial kingdom to Him from whom He received it, when, having put all things under His feet, He shall Himself be subject into the Father; and God, in His threefold Unity, shall be thenceforward all in all.
The plain and natural meaning, then, of entreating our Heavenly Father that His kingdom may come, is that, by His grace, the religion of His Son may be extended, supported, and established. It is the endeavouring to aid by our prayers that great and good work in which the Apostles laboured, and
1 1 Cor. xv. 24.
in which the best and wisest of mankind have, in imitation of the Apostles, esteemed it a glory and happiness to endure hardship, contempt, and martyrdom ; that work which was the subject of the latest charge given by the Lord Jesus to His followers, “ Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you ?."
It is true that, in its fullest sense, the prayer which we offer thus to God embraces far more than the outward establishment and profession of His faith among the sons of men. It comprises a devout aspiration for the establishment, or renewal, or preservation of Christ's kingdom in our hearts, as an internal, a ruling, and overmastering principle of faith, of feeling, and deportment. It comprises a desire to be admitted, in God's good time, to the society of that blessed portion of His Church which, having been faithful unto death, is already rejoicing in Paradise. It implies, above all, a longing after that triumphant return of our glorified Saviour, when, having completed the number of His elect, He shall hasten His more perfect kingdom, when God shall visibly take unto Himself His great power and shall reign, and when we, with all those that are departed in the true faith of His holy name, may have our perfect consummation
· St. Matt. xxvii, 19, 20.