« AnteriorContinuar »
which he claims sovereignty; and he waits for the time when they shall say, like Judah to David, Return thou and all thy servants."y
II. I next proceed to inquire concerning the time when this kingdom may be properly said to have been set up; a right apprehension of which will materially assist our determination of other points.
1. Many refer the kingdom of God to his now reigning by his power and providence ;-over-ruling so much of the wrath of ungodly men, as he suffers to escape, and restraining the remainder of it: that the Jews unconsciously obeyed even when crucifying Jesus; whereof the Holy Ghost cries in anticipation, Why do the heathen rage and the people imagine a vain thing? yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion."z It must be admitted as beyond dispute by those who believe the Scriptures, "that the Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men," "and that God is the governor among the nations :"a but if this be the kingdom intended, it was set up at the creation of the world; for there never was a period from the beginning, in which God has not thus ruled and over-ruled mankind whereas the kingdom of which I am speaking was the subject of promise, certainly as late as the time of Daniel;b a circumstance quite incompatible with its existence then and previously.
2. Neither could it have been set up at any period between the time of Daniel and our Lord's incarnation: for it is the Son of Man to whom, according to Daniel, the dominion is given; and it is impossible he can
have reigned as man before he was made man. That the kingdom and glory to be manifested are especially assigned over to him as man, evident from other scripture testimonies. In Corinthians, the Apostle says of him, "that God hath put all things under his feet:"d which saying is indeed a quotation (as also Hebrews ii, 5-8,) of Psalm viii; wherein he is thus spoken of, What is man
that thou art mindful of him? "the son of man that thou visitest him? Thou madest him a little "lower [or for a little while lower] "than the angels: thou crownedst "him with glory and honour, and
didst set him over the works of "thine hand: thou hast put all things "in subjection under his feet." St. Matthew also, as we have seen, calls it The kingdom of the Son of Man." Jesus declared, that authority was given to him to execute judgment also, because he was the "Son of Man."e And St. Paul affirms, that God hath given to him, on account of his obedience and humiliation in the flesh, a name which is above every name; that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth.f He who thought it not robbery to be equal with God, must have previously possessed that sovereignty of the universe, which has been mentioned : but this kingdom is the reward of the righteous obedience and humiliation of the Christ; in consequence of which the Father hath determined for a while to make manifest his own glory in him, and to put ALL THINGS under him; He only being excepted, who thus puts all under him.g *
y 2 Sam. xix, 9—14. z Psalm xxii, 28; whole of the seventh chapter. c chap. vii, f Phil. ii, 9—11. g1 Cor. xv, 27, 28.
Psalm ii, 1-6. aDan. iv, 17. b See the 13, 14. d 1 Cor. XV, 27. e John v, 27.
*It is to be regretted, that, owing to an excessive jealousy, the humanity of Christ is not so much meditated on by christians as it ought to be: though the consideration
3. A more
shall be of such a character, as that
a servant of rulers."h Indeed our Lord himself spake a parable, because some then thought that the kingdom of of God was immediately to appear; in which he refers to himself, as to a man, who had first to go into a far country i to which I will only add, that the very prayer which he taught his disciples proves, that the kingdom was then future; for he directs them to pray, "Thy kingdom come."
4. The parable just adverted to might be sufficient to prove further, that the kingdom did not commence immediately after the ascension of Christ: which many do nevertheless suppose; and that the saints do likewise now enjoy the kingdom and reign with him. Would to God (saith the Apostle) that ye did reign, that we also might reign with you."j
It is necessary however to consider here the present condition of our
thereof, as also of his godhead, is full of comfort to the soul: the Unitarians, looking too exclusively on those texts which speak of Christ's humanity, have invented a system which shuts out his deity; and thus they have denied the LORD that bought them : but christians frequently go to an opposite extreme, and by viewing Jesus exclusively as God, they are sometimes led practically to deny, that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh. It is a most wonderful and edifying truth to ponder in the heart, that A MAN is now seated at the right hand of the throne of God; that A MAN is now exalted far above thrones, and principalities, and powers! Yet there are some who neglect and fear to speak of Jesus as man; as though they considered it would degrade Him so to do. Numbers would set him down as a Socinian, who, upon his first preaching to a people who had never heard of Christ, should speak of Him as "that man, whom God hath ordained to judge the world in righteousness:" yet this is no more than what St. Paul did at Athens. (Acts xvii, 31.) I hope the Reader will pardon this digression, from one heartily believing in his Lord as GOD; but a right apprehension of Jesus, as very man,' will lead us to a more correct understanding of those Scriptures which speak of His Kingdom; and especially one Scripture, (1 Cor. xv, 24.) which cannot be well explained without it.
h Isaiah xlix, 7, lxiii, 19. i Luke xix, 11. j 1 Cor. iv, 8.
Lord Jesus. I cannot dispute, that He is now glorified; that He is seated on the right hand of the Majesty on high; that the principalities and powers in heavenly places are subject to him; and that he reigns as the Mediator, Advocate, and Saviour of his people. But I must repeat, that this is not that glory nor that reign, which are the special subjects of promise both to him and his saints. If those passages in Revelation (chap. v, 10 and vi, 9—11,) refer to the state of the redeemed church in heaven, it is manifest, that theirs is a state of expectation, in which they look for the time when they shall reign, and that they are not now reigning with their Lord. In the same Book the Lord clearly distinguishes between that throne on which he is now seated, and the throne on which he shall hereafter be manifested : To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne; even as I also overcame, and am set "down with my Father in HIS throne." In the Gospel of St. John also he seems to distinguish between his own divine glory which he had before the world was; (xvii, 6,) and that glory, which God has given to him as Messiah, and which he gives unto his people: (verse 22.) Certainly His condition, as regards the promised kingdom, is also one of expectation :1 He waits for the time when his enemies shall become his footstool, and it shall be said, Rule thou in the midst of them."
k Rev. iii, 21. p Isaiah xlv, 23;
I must return again to the statement, that the reign of Christ with
his saints must be of an acknowledged and manifest character: and in what part of the globe is that the case even now? By far the largest part of the world is still heathen in name ; and over that part even, which surnames itself with the name of Christ, he cannot be said to bear rule. Even in this country, where religion prevails perhaps as much as in any other, our laws are rarely framed and administered in the fear of Christ: to say nothing of the great majority of individuals, who live in disobedience;-who openly deny his divinity, his power, his authority, his laws, his people. It is degrading to the Lord Jesus to call this his dominion over the nations. There is no king among men but would deem it quite incompatible with his honor, to allow any to despise his laws, or to live in habitual rebellion. And shall the Man who is made God's fellow,--shall the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, only rule over a few, who are despised and persecuted for their obedience? No when he takes up his iron rod, he will dash his enemies to atoms as a potter's vessel;-then he shall have the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven;"m then ALL KINGS shall fall down before him, and ALL NATIONS shall serve him ;'n. all the ends of the
world shall remember and turn "unto the Lord, and all the kindred of the nations shall worship before him ;"0- as I live saith the Lord EVERY knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to "God."p*
1 Heb. x, 13. m Dan vii, 27. Rom. xiv. 2.
n Psalm lxxii, 2. o Psalm xvii, 27.
* I might here avail myself of an important argument from Daniel to shew, that the setting up of this kingdom (by which I mean its visible commencement) must be future: but as it is based upon the interpretation of a symbolical passage of Scripture, which Nevertheless I mention it thus may, of course, be questioned, I waive insisting on it. in passing, for the consideration of those who agree in the general correctness of the expositions of commentators, in regard to the meaning of the image seen by Nebuchadnezzar. (Dan. ii, 31-45.) The stone cut out without hands, which smites the image and then
We have some further light, in regard to the time of this kingdom being future, from a comparison of a passage in the first Epistle to the Corinthians with one in Hebrews. In the former it is declared, "that all things shall be put under Christ:" in the latter the Apostle notices, "that we see not yet all things put under him "r whence we must conclude, that his kingdom is not yet come. In another part of the same chapter in Corinthians he says, "that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; but that we must first have our immortal and incorruptible body."s
There are other Scriptures equally tending to shew, that the kingdom did not commence at the ascension: for in the very hour of his ascension Christ was asked by his disciples, if he would at that time restore the kingdom to Israel; and his reply plainly leads to the inference, that it was not to commence at that time;
but that they were to be witnesses of him unto the uttermost parts of the earth:t just as in another place he declares, that the Gospel of the kingdom must first be preached in all nations for a testimony unto them.u The Apostle Paul exhorted the Thessalonians "to walk worthy of
q 1 Cor. xv, 27.
u Matt. xxiv, 14. x John xviii, 36.
God, who had called them to his kingdom and glory;" and"to walk, so as that they might be "counted worthy of the kingdom of "God for which they suffered."v James speaks of believers,
being heirs of the kingdom which God hath promised to them “that love him :"w all which passages imply, that the kingdom was yet future, when they wrote. Finally, the words of the words of Jesus to Pilate (as I apprehend them) completely set this point at rest: “ My kingdom is not of this world.”x* Satan is "the prince of this world;" and has a kingdom in it at variance with our Lord's. Which kingdom
becomes a great mountain and fills the earth, is usually interpreted to signify Messiah's kingdom; which, according to the notions of some, smote the image at the establishment of Christianity. But such a view does in no way accord with the description given. For, 1st, the smiting is destructive, even to annihilation; "no place is found for it;" (v. 35 ;) whereas the Roman or fourth monarchy, symbolized by the legs and feet of the image, has in some shape or other continued ever since, 2dly. The stone smites the image on the feet; (v. 34;) the toes of which signify the ten kingdoms, into which Rome was divided. These must therefore be in existence at the period of attack: whereas they existed not until after the days of Constantine. 3dly. The whole four monarchies symbolized by the gold, silver, brass, iron, &c. must in some way or other be upon the stage together, each in an independent form; both when the smiting takes place, and when the God of heaven sets up his kingdom. (Compare verses 35 and 44.) This was not the case at the first coming of Christ, neither in the time of Constantine, nor at any period since. There appears indeed a probability of the thing occurring now: Persia has all along been preserved; the power which holds Euphrates has long since become independent; and the Greek monarchy is reviving. 4thly. No sooner does the stone smite the image, than these kingdoms are succeeded by the fifth monarchy solely a state of things never yet witnessed, and which can only come to pass after the destruction of Antichrist.
r Heb. ii, 8.
t Acts i, 6-9. w James ii, 5.
* In a question of this kind, which concerns the universal Church, the doctrine held in any one individual church cannot be with propriety advanced in the way of argument. As however the Church of England is admired by many of her members, because, among other things, she speaks on most controverted points in the generalized language of Scripture, it may be interesting to those individuals if I point out, how, in all her offices, the Church of England speaks of the kingdom as future :
is now set up must be judged of, not by inquiring into the respective power of the princes of each kingdom; but into the prevalence of the principles of each. No doubt will then remain, that Satan still rules. We know that there is one stronger than the strong man armed, who could at any time put out his power to bruise his adversary under his feet; and even now he proves himself greater in the hearts of his people, than he that is in the world. Yea when on earth he gave some striking and open indications of his future kingly power; as when he cleansed the temple, ruled the elements, forbad the devils to speak, &c. Nevertheless, the time is not yet arrived when this kingdom is to shine forth in splendor: we still have to wrestle, not only with flesh and blood, "but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, "against spiritual wickedness in high places wherefore (Reader) "take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able "to withstand in the evil day, and having done all to stand." Ephes. vi, 12, 13.
III. Let us now inquire at what particular time this kingdom will appear. This I infer to be at the second advent of the Lord Jesus: for the Apostle informs us, when describing the order of the resurrec
tion, that those that are Christ's shall at his coming be raised; and that then shall follow the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom.z
Now there must be some period of time in which the saints shall possess the kingdom and the Lord shall reign.-We have seen that this period cannot be in the present dispensation; and after the advent, which closes this dispensation, is to follow the end' when HE SHALL HAVE REIGNED. The interval therefore must be between the advent and that resigning of the kingdom unto God, who shall then be all in all. This period I call the millennial dispensation; and shall endeavour at least to prove, that at the Lord's coming is the manifestation of his kingdom.
Jesus tells us, "When the Son of Man shall come in his glory, and all "the holy angels with him THEN "shall he sit upon the throne of his
glory;" and further on he adds, "Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, come ye bless“ed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the beginning of the world."a From this Scripture it is evident, that Jesus will then (let the time be when it may,) be personally on the throne of his glory; and that the saints will only then receive the kingdom.
Hebrews i, 6, is in the original,
At BAPTISM the prayer for the neophyte is, "that finally, with the residue of thy "Church, he may be an inheritor of thine everlasting kingdom."
At CONFIRMATION the Bishop prays: "Defend, O Lord, this thy child, &c. may "he daily increase in thy Spirit more and more, until he come unto thy everlasting “kingdom.”
At the COMMUNION we pray for grace to follow the good example of those departed this life," that with them we may be partakers of thy heavenly kingdom.”
At MATRIMONY the prayer for the newly married couple is : Grant them to inherit thine everlasting kingdom."
And in the BURIAL service the prayer is: "That it may please Thee of thy gracious "goodness shortly to accomplish the number of thine elect and to hasten thy “kingdom.”—A testimony quite decided as respects the point I am aiming at.
z 1 Cor. xv, 23, 24.
a Matt. xxv, 31, 34.