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There is an acknowledged difficulty with this passage, whatever interpretation may be given to it: and did it seem to speak more clearly for the other side of the question than it does, yet, considering the mass of testimony brought forward in support of the view I have taken, sound principles of exposition require of us, that we should seek a meaning in this text reconcileable with, and not destructive of, the numerous places I have adduced. The ordinary explanation given by commentators is, that the kingdom of God within them, must signify the dominion of grace in the heart; against which interpretation the following exceptions may be taken. First it would imply, that Joseph of Arimathea, who was still waiting for the kingdom," was without this inward grace, whilst the Pharisees possessed it. Therefore some would interpret it, the kingdom of God is among you: but it does not appear that the word rendered within is ever used by the Greek writers of the Old or New Testaments in the sense contended for; and it is extremely doubtful if profane writers so use it. * Certainly Joseph could not have been waiting for the kingdom in that spirit of faith, which the mention of him seems to imply, unless the kingdom of God had been also within him in a spiritual sense: nor could he with propriety have been said to be waiting for it, had it been among them. And this plainly indicates, that the promises concerning the kingdom are not to be limited to the means of grace, or to the work of grace, though they may include it; but that they have a reference to its glorious manifestation and prevalence. In the spiritual sense, the kingdom cometh not with observation; for the Spirit is like the wind: "we cannot see from whence it cometh nor whither it goeth.” But in regard to the manifestation of the kingdom, our Lord has described the signs, by which we may observe its approach, and know that the kingdom of God draweth nigh. And he clearly shows that it was not manifested in his days, since he spake a parable for the express purpose of correcting the notions of those who thought that the kingdom of God should immediately appear.” (Luke xix.) Let the reader examine himself, whether he have this spiritual "earnest of the inheritance;"-whether it may be said of him, “that the kingdom of God is not in word only but in power;”—and “that God hath thus translated him into the kingdom of his dear Son."
Mark xv. 43. o1 Cor. iv. 20; Col. i. 13. * See Parkhurst on the word erros; and see likewise this objection ably treated in the Investigator, Vol. I. p. 99.
The Place of Manifestation.
Having proved, as I trust, in my last essay, that the manifestation of the kingdom of God is yet future, I proceed now to inquire into the place or scene of that manifestation. This, I do not hesitate to say, will be on earth; and that Palestine, or the Holy Land, (particularly the region of Mount Zion,) will be the spot where Christ and his risen saints will more especially be revealed.
1. In regard to the Land in general, let us consider the terms of the covenant made with Abraham and the patriarchs —that very covenant of grace, under which the christian church is now walking. God repeatedly promised to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, personally and respectively, as also to their seed, that he would give them the land in which they were strangers. It is to the repetition of these promises and their amplification St. Paul seems to refer, when he speaks of the covenants of promise' in the plural: and certainly he refers to these in the Epistle to the Galatians, when he insists that the promise to Abraham and his seed continues in full force under the Gospel; not allowing that the covenant afterwards made with Moses had any power to do away or alter these.
The question then arises,—Has this promise been fulfilled to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob? Some will reply, “Yes; their posterity possessed it, and thus the patriarchs themselves may be said to have enjoyed the land:” but this reply will neither suit the terms of the covenant, nor the faithfulness of God, who declares, that not one jot or tittle shall fail of all that he hath spoken. I must repeat and beg particular attention to the circumstance, that the promise to each of the three patriarchs is—“to THEE will I give it and to thy SEED;" which, if words can plainly express a thing, does clearly imply, that there must be a special fulfilment of the promise to them, as well as to their posterity. They all indeed dwelt in the land, but not as proprietors; for, excepting a burial place, they had no possession of it at all, wbut confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims.” This very fact St. Paul instances in order to prove, that they sought a country, yet died without receiving the promises.d And St. Stephen notices also, “that though God promised to give the land to Abraham for a possession, and to his seed after him, yet, that he gave him none
Genesis xiii. 15; xvii. 8; xxvi. 3; xxviii. 13; Exod. vi. 3, 4. Ephes. ii. 12. Gal. iii. 16—19. a Heb. xi. 13—16, 39.
inheritance in it-no not so much as to set his foot on."e It is unwarrantable therefore to say of them, that the promise was fulfilled; when these two places of Scripture so clearly contend that it was not.
2. Secondly, in regard to the seed; though I grant that Abraham's posterity was led up into the land, and possessed it; yet I contend, that even these never held it according to the full terms of the promise, and that their possession of it was but the type and pledge, which the Lord usually grants, when the great promise is deferred to a distant period. Thus the Apostle, in his Epistle to the Hebrews, argues,—that if the rest in the land, into which they were led under Joshua, were the real rest covenanted, then would not God afterwards have spoken of a fulure rest, as he does in David. And in the Epistle to the Ephesians he reminds children of the promise attached to the fifth commandment; (viz. that their days may be long in the land;) which would be unmeaning, as regards gentile children, were it applicable only to the Jews; and the more so, as the Jews themselves were then just about to be again rejected from the land. As to that interpretation which refers it to the comparative longevity in those times of obedient children, it is contradicted by the fact, that persecutions shortened the lives of christians below the ordinary term, instead of their "iving long upon the earth."
In regard to the terms of the grant also—the land was given to Abraham from the River of Egypt to the Euphrates:5 but his seed did not possess it to this extent, unless it were for a short period during the reign of Solomon. And if we understand that grant to Abraham as St. Paul explains it-viz. "that he should be heir of the world”h—it has plainly never been fulfilled. It was likewise given to them for an everlasting possession; and Amos therefore speaks of a time when Israel "shall no more be pulled up out of their land;">i which of necessity points to some future occupation, since they have possessed it only to be twice 'pulled up,' and now for nearly two thousand years peeled and scattered among the nations.
The early christian Fathers fully concur in this view. Treating of the blessing pronounced by Isaac on Jacob,—“God give thee of the dew of heaven and the fatness of the earth, &c. Let people serve thec and nations bow down to thee, &c.”—Irenæus says, “that it was not made good to him in this life, and therefore without doubt those words had a further aim and prospect on the times of the kingdom, when the just rising from the dead shall reign, and when nature renewed and set at liberty
e Acts vii. 4, 5. î Heb. iv, 7-9. $ Gen. xv. 18-21. b Rom. iv, 13. i Amos ix. 15.
shall yield plenty and abundance of all things, being blessed with the dew of heaven and great fertility of the earth.” Likewise in his fifth book against heresies, he takes Ezekiel xxxvii. 11-14, to signify a literal resurrection. The descendants of Abraham are described in this place as captive at Babylon; and the promise to them appears so hopeless, that they cry, “Our hope is lost, we are cut off for our parts.
" Then the answer of God comes to them, “Behold, O my people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel; and ye shall know that I am the Lord, when I have opened your graves, O my people, and brought you up out of your graves, and shall put my Spirit in you, and ye shall live, and I shall place you in your own land; then shall ye know that I the Lord have spoken and performed, saith the Lord.”
The words of St. Paul (Acts xxvi. 6—8) plainly evince, that the expectation of the Apostle in regard to the promised land was, that it should be fulfilled to the patriarchs by a resurrection. “And now (he says) I stand and am judged for the hope of the promise made of God unto our fathers; unto which promise our twelve tribes, instantly serving God day and night, hope to come. For which hope's sake, King Agrippa, I am accused of the Jews. Why should it be thought a thing incredible with you, that God should raise the dead?” Here the promise to the Fathers is coupled with the resurrection of the dead, which are both evidently in the mind of the Apostle. But what was the promise to the Fathers? There is no express mention to them of a resurrection; and though several things are included in the promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, yet there is not one of them which requires a resurrection to fulfil it, except the promise of the land. It was this which must have led Paul to couple the promise of the Fathers with the resurrection from the dead. “Agreeably with which expectation Daniel, when favoured with divers revelations concerning Christ's kingdom and the reign of the saints, is assured, that his intermediate decease shall not prevent him from participating; but that many that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake,--and that he shall rest, yet stand in his lot at the end of those days, which were then specially numbered to him.
3. In regard to the seed it must further be observed, that, in the interpretation of the promises given in Genesis, St. Paul insists, that they specially refer to Christ.-—"Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not •And to seeds' as of many; but as of one—And to thy seed,' which
i Dan. xii. 2 and 13.
is Christ.” Therefore the remaining posterity are only the seed, inasmuch as they are in Christ, being of the faith of Abraham: they are members of Christ's body and blessed in him. Indeed I may say,
that Abraham himself, to whom the promise is addressed, is only partaker of it in Christ; who, as he is the root as well as the branch of David, was before Abraham. To Christ the world especially belongs, being created “by him and for him:»m that is to say, when it shall be redeemed from the curse and renovated; "for it is the world to come whereof we speak.”
4. Before I pass on to the next head I must notice an objection, which may still operate on the minds of some readers; viz. that the New Testament Scriptures declare of the kingdom that it is to be in heaven, whilst the exposition I have given makes it to be on earth. In reply, there is no such phrase in Scripture as “kingdom in heaven:" it is always "kingdom of heaven;" which I have shown in my last Essay to be peculiar to St. Matthew's Gospel.* And I would here further observe, in regard to those instances which I have admitted may refer to the Gospel dispensation, that this very circumstance disproves the necessity of interpreting the phrase "kingdom of heaven” as of a kingdom in heaven: for if these refer to the Gospel dispensation, they clearly speak of transactions which are to take place on earth.
The kingdom, however, which is assigned in Daniel to the Son of man and to the saints, is “the kingdom, dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom, 'UNDER the whole heaven."'n St. Paul speaks of the Lord's heavenly kingdom," and of a heavenly country, i. e. the heavenly Jerusalem;" which leads us to the proper meaning of the phrase kingdom of heaven; viz. that it is a kingdom of a heavenly nuture. It is heavenly because it is “set up by the God of heaven;"—it is heavenly because the God-man from heaven will rule in it;—it is heavenly because all things, both in heaven and earth, will be at his command, being put under him;---and, finally, it is heavenly because its principles, its laws, its spirit is heavenly, being “the will of God done on earth as it is in heaven."
It is declared that the saints in that kingdom shall have heavenly bodies: a heavenly body however does not necessarily signify a body in heaven, but a body of a heavenly nature. 2 Corinthians v. 1, 2, will further prove this, and make evi
Rom. iv. 11-18. i Rev. xxii. 16; John viii. 58. Compare Rom. xi. 36; Col. i. 16; Heb. ii. 5–10. n Dan. vii, 27. . 2 Tim. iv. 18. p Heb. xi. 16; xii. 22. 9 Heb. ij. 8; Phil. ii. 9, 10.
* Nearly thirty times repeated, and always in the plural,— Basinan ter xpayer, "the kingdom of the heavens.”