« AnteriorContinuar »
its subjects:—It may indeed be connected with the support or establishment of religion, in one form or other; but it does not profess directly to confer spiritual blessings on those, over whom it is established. On the other hand, we consider that as a spiritual kingdom, which is conducted on different principles from the kingdoms of this world, and for different purposes: which does not profess to confer temporal wealth, honour, and prosperity on any of its subjects; nor always to secure them from great and heavy temporal trials, and oppressions; but immediately to confer spiritual blessings on all who truly belong to it, even "righteousness, and peace, and joy in the "Holy Ghost."' "Spiritual blessings," are those benefits which (besides their tendency to our temporal comfort,) secure the eternal happiness of our immortal souls; and also that of our bodies as raised incorruptible and glorious: but merely earthly blessings, at most, only conduce to our comfort and well-being during our short and uncertain continuance in this present world. To say, therefore, that the Messiah's kingdom is spiritual, implies that it secures (as distinct from temporal good,) eternal happiness to all the true subjects of iti'-but to say, that it is ' altogether 'earthly,' in our view of it, denotes that it only secures earthly advantages to its subjects, however loyal and faithful; and that, as to etei"nal happiness or misery, it leaves them precisely as they were. If Mr. C. or the Jews in general, understand the terms in any other sense, when that sense is clearly stated, it may require consideration.
1 Rom. xiv. 17. Eph. i. 3.
Our view of the Messiah's kingdom, as spiritual, does not exclude many temporal advantages ensured to its genuine subjects: for, whatever prepares the soul for holy happiness in another world, adds to our true comfort in this life; and to those, who "seek first the kingdom of God "and his righteousness," "all other things shall "be added." ," The Lord will give grace and "glory; and no good thing will he withhold from "them that walk uprightly." l But we exclude from the catalogue of these blessings whatever tends to gratify, and give energy to man's corrupt passions; such as rapacity for wealth, ambition of preeminence, lust of dominion, thirst after revenge, desire of the pleasures,' pomp, and pride of life; and indeed the craving after any animal indulgence, beyond the rule of duty, expediency, and love to all men. And we give an immense preeminence to those blessings, which will be enjoyed for ever, above the most rational and legitimate comforts of this present state.—To be made partakers of heavenly wisdom and knowledge; to have "the heart circumcised" by the regeneration of the Holy Spirit; to be pardoned, and justified by faith, with believing Abraham; to be renewed unto holiness; to have God for our Father, Friend, and Portion; our Guide unto death; "and," at that crisis, "to receive us to glory:" to walk with him in assured faith and hope; to worship him in "the Spirit of adoption;" to enjoy the earnests and foretastes of eternal happiness; to be delivered from the fear of death, and at length from death itself, when " mortality shall be .swallowed up of "life:" these are some of the spiritual blessings of our Messiah's kingdom.
1 Ps. Ixxxiv. 11. Matt. vis 33.
On the other hand, 'a kingdom altogether 'earthly' would supply or ensure none of these things; neither heavenly wisdom and knowledge, nor renewal unto holiness, nor " justification unto "life," nor " reconciliation unto God," nor adoption into his family, nor the meetness for a holy heaven, nor admission into it, nor " the resurrec"tion of the just." If these things belong exclusively to a spiritual kingdom, it would be waste of time, to bring a formal proof that the Messiah's kingdom at least includes spiritual blessings to its true subjects. But, if such blessings be included in Mr. C.'s notion of a kingdom ' absolutely 'earthly;' he only uses words in a different sense than we do, or than men in general do; and "a "strife of words" is not edifying.
I suspect, however, that the question, whether these things are included among the blessings of the Messiah's kingdom, or not, was out of sight when he wrote the passage: for, while temporal advantages appear far the most prominent in his mind, in every part of his book, he occasionally gives intimations of some things, that are certainly spiritual blessings, which will be conferred by the Messiah.
According to the expectations of the Jews in the time of Jesus, and even the expectations of his apostles before his resurrection, it is evident that a Messiah, coming like the conquerors of this world, but far superior in power to all of them; to free the nation of Israel from subjection to the Romans, and from all foreign vassalage; to lead them forth to victory and triumph; to subjugate other nations, and to advance Israel to preeminence, prosperity, and dominion; constituted the object of their desires and hopes. It is also evident that this was, in most instances, connected with the thirst for a contemptuous and insulting revenge upon their oppressors, and for exercising a haughty and severe domination over mankind at large: and, as far as I can judge from the specimen before me, it appears that the expectation and desire of modern Jews are nearly the same. If this be not the case, let them explicitly declare what they do expect and desire at the supposed coming of their Messiah.
It is now becoming more and more the opinion of studious Christians, that, when Israel shall be converted to their long rejected Messiah, they will be gathered from their dispersions, and reinstated in their own land; which, being rendered as fertile as in times past, (perhaps much more so,) and extended to the utmost limits of the grants made to the patriarchs, will yield them, in rich abundance, all things needful and comfortable for this present life. It is also thought that they will live in this land, under rulers of their own jiation, as the vicegerents of the Messiah, of David, or "the Son of David," in entire peace and security, free from invader or oppressor, and from the fear of any: - and that, along with all spiritual blessings in rich abundance, they will be voluntarily regarded by all other nations, then truly converted to Christianity, with peculiar love, and gratitude, and honour, as the source of all their spiritual blessings; and especially, as most nearly related to their common Messiah and Saviour, who is " the Light of the gentiles, and "the Glory of his people Israel."
It is indeed supposed, according to several prophecies, that great opposition will be made by many powerful enemies to this their restoration; and that an immense destruction of opposing gentiles will precede and attend it, while other gentiles will concur in promoting . it: but that, this being accomplished, a general conversion of the nations will follow; till those prophecies, which assure us " that the earth shall be filled "with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, "as the waters cover the sea," shall be literally accomplished: that then, " they will beat their "swords into plough-shares, and learn war no "more;" and that this state will continue at least a thousand years, and nearly to the end of the world. During this whole period, an honorary and affectionate preeminence will be freely rendered to Israel, by all the numberless partakers of the blessings of their Messiah's reign.
But it is not supposed that Israel will either possess or desire authoritative dominion over the nations; or any thing to gratify the corrupt passions before spoken of; but every thing to promote " righteousness, and peace, and joy in "the Holy Ghost." The personal reign of Christ on earth; the existence, or non-existence, of the ceremonial law of Moses; and several other