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love to Christ, but they indeed only serve their own turns ; as ivy, which clasps an oak very close, but only to suck out sap for its own leaves and berries. But a true love is full of care to advance the glory of Christ's kingdom, and to promote his truth and worship; fears lest Satan and his instruments should by any means corrupt his truth, or violate his church ;-as the apostle to the Galatians professeth the fear which his love wrought in him towards them, “I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain.”k So we find what contention, and disputation, and strife of spi. rit, the apostles and others in their ministry used, when Christ and his holy gospel was any way either injured by false brethren, or kept out by the idolatry of the places to which they came.
Lastly, A longing after his presence, a love of his appearing, a desire to be with him, which is best of all; a seeking after him, and grieving for him, when for any while he departs from the soul; a waiting for his salvation, a delight in his communion, and in his spiritual refreshments ; "a communing with him in his secret chamber, in his houses of wine, and in his galleries of love." By which lovely expressions the Wise Man hath described the fellowship, which the church desireth to have with Christ, and that abiding and supping of Christ with his church, feasting the soul with the manifestations of himself, and his graces unto it.m
Having thus, by occasion of the enemies of Christ, spoken something of the true and false love which is in the world towards him ; we now proceed to the particulars mentioned before. And the first is the term of duration or measure of time in the text, “ until.” It hath a double relation in the words, unto Christ's kingdom, and unto his enemies. As it looks to the kingdom of Christ, it denotes both the continuance and the limitation of his kingdom. The continuance of it in his own person, for it is there fixed and intransient: he is a king without successors, as being subject to no mortality, nor defect which might be by them supplied. The kingdom of Christ (as I observed) is either na
Gal. iv. 11, 16. 1 Acts xv. 2. and xvii. 16. and xviii. 25. and xix. 8. Gal. ii. 4, 5. Jude v. 2. m Psal. xlii. 3. and cr. 4. 2 Cor. v. 2. 2 Tim. iv. 8. Phil. i. 23. Cant. iii. 1, 2. and v. 6, 8. Gen. xlix. 18. Psal. cxix. 131. Cant. i, 4. and ii. 4. and vii. 5. John xiv. 21, 23. Rev. ii. 20.
tural, as he is God; or dispensatory and by donation from the Father, as he is mediator: and not only of the former, but even of this likewise, the Scripture affirms that it is eternal. It is a kingdom set up by the God of Heaven, and yet it shall never be destroyed, but "stand for ever." "I have set my king upon my holy hill of Sion ;”-that notes the unction and donation. And in Mount Sion where God hath set him," he shall reign from hence even for ever.”p Though he be a child born, and a son given, yet “ of the increase of his government and peace, there shall be no end;" upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and justice, “ from henceforth, for ever and ever." Unto the Son he saith, “Thy tbrone, O God, is for ever and ever.”—And here we must distinguish between the substance of Christ's kingdom, and the form or manner of administering and dispensing it. In the former respect, it is absolutely eternal ; Christ shall be a head and rewarder of his members, an everlasting Father,' a 'prince of peace' unto them for ever. In the latter respect, it shall be eternal according to some acceptation; that is, it shall remain until the consummation of all things, as long as there is a church of God upon the earth ;-there shall be no new way of spiritual and essential government prescribed unto it, no other vicar, successor or monarch, or usurper upon his office by God allowed, but he only, by his Spirit in the dispensation of his ordinances, shall order and over-rule the consciences of his people, and subdue their enemies. Yet he shall so reign till then, as that he shall then cease to rule in such manner as now he doth: when the end comes," he shall deliver up the kingdom to God the Father; and when all things shall be subdued unto him, he also himself shall be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.” He sball so return it unto God, as God did confer, and, as it were, appropriate it unto him, namely, in regard of judiciary dispensation and execution; in which respect our Saviour saith, that as touching the present administration of the church, “ The Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgement, and hath given authority to execute it unto his Son.” Now Christ governeth his church by the ministry of his word and sacraments, and by the effusion of his Spirit in measure and degrees upon his members. By his mighty, though secret power, he fighteth with his enemies; and so shall do till the resurrection of the dead, when Death, the last enemy, shall be overcome, and then, in these respects, his kingdom shall cease : for he shall no more exercise the offices of a mediator in compassionating, defending, interceding for his church; but yet he shall sit and reign for ever as God, coequal with his Father, and shall ever be the head of the church his body. Thus we see, though Christ's kingdom, in regard of the manner of dispensation, and present execution thereof, it be limited by the consummation of all things; yet in itself it is a kingdom, which hath neither within, the seeds of mortality, --nor without, the danger of a concussion; but in the substance is immortal, though, in regard of the commission and power, which Christ had as mediator, to administer it alone by himself, and by the fulness of his Spirit,-it be at last voluntarily resigned into the hands of the Father,-and Christ, as a part of that great church, become subject to the Father, that God may be all in all.
P Mic. iv. 7.
q Isai, ix. 6,7.
o Dan. ii. 44, Heb. i. 8.
o Psal. ii. 6.
Now the grounds of the constancy of Christ's government over his church, and by consequence of the church itself, which is his kingdom, are, amongst others, these:
First, The decree and promise of God, sealed by an oath, which made it an adamantine and unbended purpose, which the Lord would never repent of nor reverse. All God's counsels are immutable; though he may alter his works, yet he doth never change his will: but when he sealeth his decree with an oath, that makes their immutability past question or suspicion. In that case, it is impossible for God to change, because it is impossible for God to lie, or deny himself. Now upon such a decree is the kingdom of Heaven established : “ Once have I sworn by my holiness, that I will not lie unto David," saith the Lord. “ Once," that notes the constancy and fixedness of God's promise: “ By my holiness," that notes the inviolableness of his promise, as if he should have said, -Let me no longer be esteemed a holy God, than I keep immutably that covenant which I have sworn unto David in my truth.
t John iv. 22, 27. u James i. 17.—Non mutat voluntatem, sed vult mutationem. Aquin. part 1. qu. 19. art. 7.- Aug. Confess. lib. 2. cap. 15.-de Civit. Dei, lib. 14. cap. 11. lib. 22. cap. 1.-de Trin. lib. 5. cap. 16.
x Heb. vi. 18. y Psalm lxxxix. 35.
Secondly, The free gift of God unto his son Christ, whereby he committed all power and judgement unto him. And power is a strong argument to prove the stability of a kingdom, especially if it be on either side supported with wisdom and righteousness, as the power of Christ is. And therefore from his power he argues for the perpetuity of bis church to the end of the world; “ All power is given to me in heaven and earth ; Go ye therefore and preach the gospel to all nations; and lo, I am with you, always, to the end of the world.”. And the argument is very strong and emphatical: for though kingdoms of great power have been and may be subdued, yet the reason is, because much power hath still remained in the adverse side; or if they have been too vast for any smaller people to root out, yet having not either wisdom enough to actuate so huge a frame, or righteousness to prevent or purge out those vicious humours of emulation, sedition, luxury, injustice, violence, and impiety, which, like strong diseases in a body, are, in states, the preparations and seminaries of mortality, they have sunk under their own weight, and been inwardly corrupted by their own vices. But now, first, the power of Christ in his church is universal: there is in him all power, and no weakness; no power without him or against him. And therefore no wonder, if from a fulness of power in him, and an emptiness in his enemies, the argument of continuance in his kingdom doth infallibly follow: for what man, if he were furnished with all sufficiency, would suffer himself to be mutilated and dismembered, as Christ should, if any thing should prevail against the church, which is his fulness.Again, this power of Christ is supported with wisdom; it can never miscarry for any inward defect; for the wisdom is proportionable to the power; this, “ all power,” and that, “ all the treasures of wisdom;" power, able by weakness to confound the things which are mighty,--and wisdom, able
- Matth. xxviii. 18, 20. a Vid. Arist. Polit. lib. 5.--In se magna ruunt: lætis
hunc numina rebus Crescendi posuere modum. Lucan.
by foolishness to bring to nought the understanding of the prudent: and both these are upheld by righteousness, which is indeed the very soul and sinews of a kingdom, upon which the thrones of princes are established, and which the apostle makes the ground of the perpetuity of Christ's kingdom; “ Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever; a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom.”
Thirdly, The quality of Christ's kingdom is to bea growing kingdom ; though the original thereof be but like a grain of mustard seed, or like Elijah's cloud, to a human view despicable, and almost below the probabilities of subsistence,—the object rather of derision than of terror to the world; yet, at last, it groweth into a wideness, which maketh it as catholic as the world. And therefore that which the prophet David speaks of the sun, the apostle applies to the gospel, to note, that the circle of the gospel is like that of the sun, universal to the whole world. It is such a kingdom as groweth into other kingdoms, and eats them out. The little stone in Nebuchadnezzar's vision (which was the kingdom of Christ, for so Jerusalem is called “a stone'd) brake in pieces the great monarchies of the earth, and grew up into a great mountain which filled the world e; “ For the kingdoms of the earth must become the kingdoms of the Lord, and of his Christ.” Therefore the prophets express Christ and his kingdom, by the name of "a branch," which groweth up for a standard and ensign of the people.s A branch which grows, but never withers. It hath no principles of death in itself; and though it be, for a while, subject to the assaults of adversaries, and foreign violence, yet that serves only to try it, and to settle it, but not to weaken or overturn it. The gates of Hell, all the powers, policies, and laws of darkness, shall never prevail against the church of Christ. He hath bruised, and judged, and “ trodden down Satan under our feet." He “ hath overcome the world;" he hath subdued iniquity; he hath turned persecutions into seminaries and resurrections of the church; he hath turned afflictions into matter of glory and of rejoicing: so that in all the violence, which the church can suffer, it
D Heb. i. 8.
. Rom. X. 18. d Zech. xii. 3. . Dan. ii. 34, 35.
8 Isai. xi. 1, 10. Zech. iii. 8.
f Revel xi. 15.