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righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father:" thus making the kingdom of the Father and of the Son of Man the same; even as St. Paul calls it, "the kingdom of Christ and of God."
From these various passages I conclude, that only one kingdom is spoken of; and that if it be sometimes called the kingdom of the Father, it is in regard to His having expressly appointed it to the Son of Man; even as Jesus says, "I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me."u And the object of Christ in that kingdom is to bring all on earth to do his Father's will, even as it is done in heaven; and then, when he hath thus put all things under his feet, to surrender up the kingdom to God, even the Father."
I must notice also, in regard to this subject, that divines often speak of the kingdom of grace: though it is not a scriptural expression. This is done by way of distinguishing those passages which refer to the visible church, or present dispensation, during which souls are prepared, by the means of grace and the Holy Spirit, to become meet partakers of the inheritance to which God has called them. Our Lord seems to refer to this dispensation of grace, when he likens the kingdom of heaven to tares growing with the wheat, and to good and bad fish caught in a net. In several other passages it is thus spoken of; and I deem it important to affirm constantly, that the glorious kingdom of our God and Saviour can never be enjoyed by any other, than those in whose hearts he now reigns by the Spirit. But though this is an obvious and undeniable use of the terms "Kingdom of God" and "Kingdom of heaven;" yet can they only refer, in such case, to an imperfect or embryo state of it. The great purpose of God in regard to this kingdom is the MANIFESTATION of the power, glory, and sovereignty of Christ, in such manner as that all flesh shall visibly · behold it, whilst the righteous shall shine forth in it like the sun. It is to this manifestation of the kingdom, (which is called its "coming with power,") that the great majority of those passages seem to refer which speak of the kingdom; and to which all are subordinate: and, certainly, those Scriptures which advert to it as yet future, must at least refer to a dispensation different from the present.
We may imperfectly illustrate these two conditions of the Kingdom by the case of a prince in exile, who is nevertheless making formidable preparations to assert and vindicate his rights. The king, though not enthroned, is acknowledged by
1 Matt. xiii. 41, 43. Ephes. v. 5.
Luke xxii. 29, 30. v1 Cor. xv. 24, 28. See for example, Matt. xxi. 43; Mark xii. 34; Luke x. 9, 11; xi. 20. - Matt. xiii. 43. y See Mark ix. 1, 2; and 2 Pet. i. 16.
many partisans; over these he already rules, and these he receives under his protection: but he is not yet acknowledged by the nations over which he claims sovereignty; and he waits for the time when they shall say, like Judah to David, "Return thou and all thy servants. "z
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 consider the kingdom of God to be 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. Thus, say they, 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." Now 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:" but if this be the kingdom intended, it was set up at the creation of the world; for there never was a period since the creation, in which God has not thus ruled and over-ruled mankind. But the Kingdom of which I am speaking was the subject of promise, certainly as late as the time of Daniel; 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, is evident from other scripture. testimonies. In Corinthians, the Apostle says of him "that God hath put all things under his feet:" 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? or 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." Thus Jesus declared, "that authority was given to him to execute judgment also, because he was the Son of Man." And St. Paul affirms, "that God
z 2 Sam. xix. 9—14.
* Dan. vii.
a Psalm ii. 1-6. b Psalm xxii. 28; Dan. iv. 17.
d Chap. vii. 13, 14. e 1 Cor. xv. 27. John v. 27.
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." 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.*
3. A more common notion in regard to the kingdom is, that it was set up at the birth of Jesus: for indeed it is written, "Where is he that is born king of the Jews." Something may be conceded to this opinion, in regard to that Gospel and means of grace so soon afterwards provided; which, as I have before observed, is called by divines the kingdom of grace: but, surely, if the acknowledgement of authority, and if obedience to authority, be essential to the honour and reality of dominion, the kingdom was not set up then. Who can name the nation, which acknowledged the Lord as king at the time of his first appearing? Even the Jews did not acknowledge him. “He came to his own, but his own received him not!" They declared that they would not have this man to rule over them; and insisting, that they had no king but Cæsar, they crucified the Lord of Glory!" When Christ's kingdom shall be set up, it shall be of such a character, as that none can mistake, that the Lord is ruler in it-"His glory shall be openly shewed in the
Phil. ii. 9-11.
h1 Cor. xv. 27, 28.
*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 thereof, as also of his godhead, is full of comfort to the soul. The Unitarians, looking 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 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; and as heartily denying the sinfulness of his humanity. 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.
sight of the heathen." But Isaiah testifies of the adversaries of the Lord, "Thou never barest rule over them; they were not called by thy name:" and of the Lord he says, in respect to his first advent, that he is to be "a servant of rulers."i Indeed our Lord himself spake a parable, because some then thought that the kingdom of God was immediately to appear, in which he compares himself to a man, who had first to go into a far country. 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 likewise that the saints do 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."k
It is necessary however to consider here the present condition of our Lord Jesus. We fully believe, 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, therefore, 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. 5,) and that glory, which God has given to him as Messiah, and which he gives unto his people. (v. 22.) Certainly his condition, as regards the promised kingdom, is also one of expectation;m for he waits for the time when his enemies shall become his footstool, and it shall be said, "Rule Thou in the midst of them."
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?
Isaiah xlix. 7; lxiii. 19. Luke xix. 11. * 1 Cor. iv. 8. Rev. iii. 21. Heb. x. 13.
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 derogatory 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 honour, 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;""-then "ALL KINGS shall fall down before him, and ALL NATIONS shall serve him;""all the ends of the world shall remember and turn unto the Lord, and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before him;"P-"as I live saith the Lord EVERY knee shall bow to me, and EVERY tongue shall confess to God."q* We have further evidence, that the period of the manifesta
n Dan. vii. 27.
• Psalm 1xxii. 11.
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 may, of course, be questioned, I do not insist on it. Nevertheless, I mention it 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 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, symbolised by the legs and feet of the image, has, in some shape or other, continued ever since. 2ndly. 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, symbolised 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 25 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.
thly. 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.