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having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass; ;">* and thus, to the very letter, did Jesus of Nazareth come to Jerusalem; and the multitude of the disciples” did rejoice—they did shout, “Blessed be the king THAT COMEth in the name of the Lord”+_"they that went before, and they that followed after, cried, “Hosannah, blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Blessed be the KINGDOM OF OUR FATHER DAVID, that cometh in the name of the LORD.'" And how did our Lord receive their acclamations? Are we told, or are we left to conjecture that he reproved them? Neither one nor the other. We are explicitly told that he expressed his approbation of their conduct in the strongest terms. "Some of the Pharisees from among the multitude, said unto him, “Master, rebuke thy disciples, and he answered and said unto them, “I tell you, that if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out.'"
What, then, were those who saw, in this act of our Lord, the coming of the KINGDOM OF THEIR FATHER David, in the right? and was the truth so evident, that it had been scandalous blindness not to have seen it, and more than senseless stupidity not to have acknowledged it? Surely our Lord's answer to the Pharisees implies this; and lest we should be in doubt whether the disciples were led away by their own hopes, into a mistaken accommodation of the Scripture, the Evangelist expressly tells us, that "all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, “Tell the daughter of Zion, «Behold thy King cometh unto thee.""||
Did not our Lord then studiously fulfil this prophecy to the very letter? did he not present himself to the Jewish people in the character of their King? and did he not express his approbation of those who recognised him as their King?
You will say, perhaps, that our Lord knew the nature of his regal office, though these disciples did not; he knew that he was setting up a kingdom of grace, and was to rule in the hearts of his disciples. But what has this to do with the matter? Whatever else our Lord might know, he certainly knew that the multitude of disciples who were crying, "Hosanna," and hailing the return of the kingdom of their Father David, meant something very different from the Throne of Grace, or of Glory; and that, if they were mistaken, he was giving the most open, explicit, and authoritative sanction to their error. Can you believe that if the restoration of the Kingdom of David by Messiah, which was notoriously the expectation of
* Zech. ix.9. + Luke xix. 37. # Mark xi. 9, 10. S Luke xjx. 40. # Matt. xxi. 4.
Israel, had been nothing more than a fond dream of national pride--a carnal conceit, that was to be rooted out of their minds in order to make way for their understanding, and receiving a spiritual kingdom, of which they had, as yet, no idea; can you, I say, believe, that if this had been the case, our Lord would have acted as he did? You may, perhaps, say that he saw fit to allow his disciples to remain in ignorance on some points; that he did not at once unveil to them the mystery of godliness. This is true; but will you dare to say that he openly countenanced error, and commended the exultation of ignorant and carnal pride?
Knowing, as our Lord did, the idea which the Jewish nation had formed respecting the Messiah-knowing that before his birth he had been announced as one to whom the throne of his Father David' should be given—knowing, that at his birth wise men from the East had come to Jerusalem, asking, “Where is he that is born King of THE JEWs;" and that this saying was known and deeply felt, not only by Herod, but by ALL Jerusalem.”* Knowing these things, and that they had given rise to so strong a feeling on the subject, as that the people were ready to take him by force, to make him a king, surely you will admit that our Lord would be particularly careful not to do, or to say, any thing that might appear in the slightest degree to countenance so gross a misconception of his character, as this undoubtedly was, if his kingdom was only spiritual, and he was in no sense the King of Israel, except as he might be said to be the King of such Gentiles as should become subjects of his spiritual kingdom, by faith in him.
You will say, perhaps, that when the people would have taken him by force to make him a king, he withdrew from them; and that, on another occasion, he declared, “My kingdom is not of this world.” True, his kingdom is not of this world, and therefore he withdrew from the multitude who would have taken him “by force,” to make him a king. His kingilom was not to be founded on man's election, or set up by man's power; and therefore he withdrew from those who affected a right which they did not possess, and would have exercised a power inconsistent with his purpose, and with the nature of his kingdom. But, did he rebuke them-did he even tell them they were mistaken? No; he withdrew, and left them in what you suppose to be gross delusion; and as to the argument (if it deserve the name) which is sometimes raised upon our Lord's declaration, that his kingdom was not of this world, it is a mere play on words. Our Lord's declaration was simply that his kingdom was not of, in the
* Matt. i. 2, 3.
sense of from, or, as it literally stands, out of this world (fx Ta xácus tóry) * -that is, (as is shewn by the context, as well as by the words,) it was not of human origin, and therefore was not to be set up by human force. The ambiguity of our translation does not exist in the original text, which may be illustrated to the English reader by referring to our Lord's question: "the baptism of John, whence was it? from (or literally, as in the passage in question, out of, or of) heaven, (o cupzva,) or of (it is the same expression) men, (if av Spótar).”+ If you take of to refer to the subject, or to any thing but the origin, of John's baptism, you must answer, “It was of men;" for men only were baptized by John; and to say that his baptism was of "heaven," meaning thereby anything else than that it was of heavenly origin, would destroy the sense.
But besides this most remarkable occurrence, what was the language, and the conduct, of our Lord, with regard to this point on other occasions? As I have already said, he knew the general opinion of the nation, and that it was held by his disciples; and did he take measures to remove it? Very early in his ministry an opportunity was offered, when Nathanael said, “Rabbi, thou art the Son of God, thou art the KING OF ISRAEL.” If you choose to suppose that Nathanael referred solely to the spiritual kingdom of Christ, yet were not his words likely to be misunderstood by those who heard them? And would it not have been most natural for our Lord to have explained to those who might otherwise be misled, that, although he was a king in a certain sense, yet his kingdom was purely spiritual; and that in the prophecies concerning him, the words King, and Israel, were to be interpreted in a mysticai manner, of which they had not the most remote conception? You will say, perhaps, (excuse me if I suppose you capable of making suppositions, and using evasions, which are not very wise or honest; for I have found such where I should not have expected them,) that it is very possible that no one might hear; or only those whom our Lord intended to leave in ignorance; and that, as to Nathanael, his views were no doubt rectified, though we have no account of the matter.
Well, suppose all this, and even then explain why our Lord should answer one who thus addressed him, by saying, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”I What did Nathanael understand by the “Son of Man?” Could he fail to consider it as a direct reference to the prophecy of Daniel, coming, as it did, from one whom he had just saluted as the king of Israel. “And I saw in the night visions, and behold one like the Son of Man, came with the
* John xviii. 36. + Matt, xxi. 25. # John i. 49, 50.
clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him, and there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him, &c."
What then was our Lord's conduct as it respected (not the opposing multitudes to whom he spake in parables, that hearing they might hear, and not understand, but) those whom he condescended to call, not servants, but friends; and whom he assured, that to them it was given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God? We have seen how he replied to one who, at his entrance on his ministry, hailed him as the “King of Israel”-and what was his language to his disciples very shortly before its close? When with them alone, and in the act of instituting that solemn rite by which they were to commemorate his death, he said, “I appoint unto you a KINGDOM, as my Father hath appointed unto me, that ye may eat and drink at my table, in MY KINGDOM, AND SIT ON THRONES, judging the twelve tribes of ISRAEL.”+ Can you deny that this language was calculated to confirm the opinions of men already possessed with the idea, that he who uttered them was to be the King of ISRAEL? and how can you account for our Lord's using such language? How, again, will you account for His conduct before Pilate? This heathen came at once to the point, in a way that, if our Lord had been capable of evasion, did not allow it. « Art thou the King of the Jews?' And Jesus said unto him, Thou sayest.' "And this confession, which he witnessed before Pontius Pilate, was so understood by that heathen, that he could not be persuaded to alter the inscription which he placed over the cross, “This is the King of the Jews."
Allow me to say, that if you suppose our Lord to have considered himself as a king, only in a spiritual sense; as not being at all in that sense in which those around him understood the title, “the King of the Jews," you do in fact charge him, if not directly, with the assertion of that which was false, at least with such a suppression of that which was true, as must have tended to the perpetuation, and confirmation of error. This error, if such it was, was in fact perpetuated in the minds of the disciples. When he who, before Pilate, and on the cross, had been proclaimed as the King of the Jews, had been consigned to the grave, the faith and hope of his followers failed. “We trusted," said one of them, whom our Lord met with on the
way to Emmaus, “that it was he who should have redeemed Israel.” Did he mean a spiritual redemption from sin? and did his Lord understand him so to mean? Did he who, by his
* Dan. vii. 13, 14. + Luke xxii. 29. * Matt. xxvii. 12.
cross and passion, had already thus redeemed Israel, tell his sorrowing disciples that Israel had no redemption to expect, but a release from the yoke of Satan, and the condemnation of the law, through his atoning sacrifice? No—he knew well what they meant-he knew that they had passed over the predictions of a suffering Messiah, and had fixed their eyes on the glory which should follow; he told them that they were fools, and slow of heart to believe all the prophets had foretold, because he found their faith (which should have been confirmed) overturned, by his having been “cut off from the land of the living;" but he did not insinuate that they believed too much, or were mistaken in what they did believe. Whatever erroneous opinions, however, they might have, he took the readiest and most effectual mode of removing them. “Beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded to them in ALL the Scriptures, the things concerning himself.”*
If you would venture to say, that before this the disciples were in darkness, and ignorance, still blinded by national pride, and not yet emancipated from the errors of education; will you venture to say, that they remained so, after receiving this divine commentary from the lips of him who knew equally their minds, and the mind of the Spirit which spake by the Prophets? “He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.”
Nor was this all; after that time he was seen of them forty days. He was with them, “speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God.”+ Did the disciples, in this course of instruction, learn the true nature of Christ's kingdom? Certainly, if they were wrong before, they remained in error; for after this, "when they were come together,” (it was the act of the whole body) "they asked of him, saying, “Lord, wilt thou at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?'” After all that they had heard and learned, the opinion still remained, that the kingdom was to be restored to Israel, and that Jesus should effect its restoration; they assumed this, and only asked when it should happen. This was their only question, for it was one which our Lord's instructions did not enable them to answer; and what was our Lord's reply? You cannot pretend that there was any ambiguity in the language of the question: it was plain and clear, and our Lord's reply was so far from insinuating that they were wrong in their assumption, that it clearly implied that they were right; and must have left that impression on their minds: and will you say that after solemnly assuring them that to them it was given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God; after expounding to them in all * Luke xxiv. 27.
# Acts i. 3.