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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." 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.j 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
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?
i Isaiah xlix. 7; lxiii. 19. į Luke xix. 11. k1 Cor. iv.8. i Rev. iii. 21. m 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;"n—then “ALL KINGS shall fall down before him, and ALL NATIONS shall serve him;"0_call 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 manifestan Dan, vii. 27. o Psalm lxxii. 11. p Psalm. xxii. 27.
9 Isaiah xlv. 23; Rom. xiv. 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 futūre; 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, 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.
tion of this kingdom is yet future, by a comparison of a passage in the first Epistle to the Corinthians with one in Hebrews. In the former it is declared of Christ, “that all things shall be put under Him:”r in the latter the Apostle notices, "that we see not yet all things put under him:" 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." There are other Scriptures equally tending to show, 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 period; but that they were to be witnesses of him to the uttermost parts of the earth:u 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." The apostle Paul exhorted the Thessalonians “to walk worthy of God, who had called them to his kingdom and glory;" and to walk, so as that they might be accounted worthy of the kingdom of God for which they suffered;">w and James speaks of believers, was being heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him:"x all which passages imply, that the kingdom was yet future, when they were ministering. And, finally, the words of Jesus to Pilate (as I apprehend them) completely set this point at rest: "My kingdom is not of this world."* Satan is the prince of this world;" and has a kingdom in it at variance with our Lord's.2 Which kingdom is now
r1 Cor. xv. 27. s Heb. ii. 8. tvv. 50, 53. u Acts i. 6-9. v Matt. xxiv. 14. w1 Thess. ii. 12; 2 Thess. i. 5. x James ii. 5. y John xviii. 36. z Luke xi. 18; John xiv. 30.
* 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 most however who are members of ihe Church of England admire her, because, among other things, she speaks on many controverted points in the generalized language of Scripture, it may be interesting to such to notice, how, in all her offices, she speaks of the kingdom as future:
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. proves
set up and 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 himself greater in the hearts of his people, than he that is in the world. Yea, when he was 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 splendour; 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
III. Let us now inquire, at what particular time this kingdom shall appear; which I infer to be at the second advent of the Lord Jesus.
For, first, the Apostle informs us, when describing the order of the resurrection, that those that are Christ's shall at his coming be raised: and then follows the end, when he shall deliver up the kingdom. 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 shall call the Millennial dispensation; and 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 blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the beginning of the world." From these Scriptures 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, “And when He bringeth again the first begotten into the world, He saith, and let all the angels of God worship him:''* which refers to his coming a second time into the world.
Ephes. vi. 12, 13.
b1 Cor. xv. 23, 24.
Matt. xxv. 31, 34.
In St. Luke's gospel the Lord describes the signs which shall terminate the times of the Gentiles, and usher in the coming of the Son of Man with power and great glory; upon which, when they see them come to pass, they are to understand, that their redemption and the kingdom of God are nigh at hand.”d
The advent and the kingdom are connected together when our Lord first declares to the disciples, that it is the good pleasure of their heavenly Father to give them the kingdom; and then exhorts them to sit so loosely to the things of this world, that they may be as men that wait for their Lord, when he will return from the wedding.e
That saying of the thief upon the cross is, literally, in the original, “Lord remember me, when thou comest in (not into) thy kingdom."'ft
Again, the Apostle Paul gives a solemn charge to Timothy, before God and the Lord Jesus Christ; who (he says) shall judge the quick and dead at his appearing and his kingdom;"& thus making the appearing of Christ, the kingdom, and the judgment of quick and dead, to be events all commencing or transpiring at the same period.
This view of the time of the kingdom will be further cleared I trust, when I come to consider the place or scene of its manifestation, &c. I shall now therefore bring this Essay to a close; first requesting the reader, whilst I recapitulate the sum of the argument, to keep his eye upon Corinthians xv. 24,28_“Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power:"-"When the Son also himself shall be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.”
1. The Kingdom of Christ has evidently a beginning subsequent to the creation of the world, because it is the subject of promise at various periods since. Therefore the unacknowledged sovereignty of God, who ruleth and over-ruleth, cannot be what is intended by the Kingdom of Christ, because that did exist from the beginning: and further, to this sovereignty there will never be an end.
2. The reign and kingdom of Christ cannot be that spiritual dominion, which he exercises in the hearts of his people; whether it relate to this present time, or to a larger measure of
a Matt. xxi. 24–31. Luke xii. 32–36. Chap. xxiii. 42. 82 Tim. iv. 1. * Not παλιν δε οταν, but οταν δε παλιν, &c. + Μνήσθητι με, Κύριε, οταν ελθες EN τη βασιλεία σε.