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DOCTRINE OF CHRIST'S KINGDOM.
was once offered to bear the sins of many.”_" His own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree.”—“We have redemption in his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace.” Now the natural conclusion which any person, whose mind is not warped by a particular system, will deduce from these and numberless other expressions of the same kind, is this, that as the plan, or scheme, of man's redemption originated in the love and grace of God the Father, so it was accomplished by the instrumentality of that divine person whom the Scriptures designate the Son of God. Sin and misery had entered into the world by the transgression of our first parents, who were seduced by the evil spirit, the god of this world, the prince of the power of the air; and the remedy was brought by the generous interposition of one who had no share in the disaster, and who was moved to undertake our cause purely by compassion to the distressed. “For this cause was the Son of God manifested that he might destroy the works of the devil.”—“ He took part of flesh and blood, that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver them who through fear of death were all their life-time subject to bondage.” That the interposition of the Son of God was divinely efficacious in promoting the purpose for which it took place, and that his death did really overcome the great adversary of God and man, is proved by his resurrection from the dead, and by the extraordinary gifts of the Spirit, which, in fulfilment of his promise, were sent upon his apostles after his ascension. The Scriptures invariably adduce this as a proof, “ that Jesus is able to save to the uttermost all that come unto God by him.” To the same effect is the declaration of the apostle Peter, in one of his first sermons :—“The God of our father hath raised up his Son Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree: Him hath God exalted with his own right hand, to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel with the remission of sins. And we are his witnesses of these things, and so also is the Holy Spirit, whom God hath given to them that believe.” As if he should say
-Our testimony of his resurrection, confirmed by the witness of the Holy Spirit, is the evidence that God hath exalted him to be a Saviour. He is now, by the appointment of God, the dispenser of those blessings which he died to purchase-he is the mediator
of the new Covenant which was sealed by his blood, and which is established upon better promises, of the fulfilment of which we receive perfect assurance from the fact that “all power is given unto Him both in heaven and on earth.” All spiritual and heavenly blessings flow unto the children of men from him as their rightful proprietor, who hath procured them by his sufferings, and in whose gift they are to bestow. Being justified by faith in his blood, we have peace with God, and access to the Father through him. He is the advocate of his people, who now appears in the presence of God for them-ever living to make intercession-and by him their prayers and their services are rendered acceptable. Universal nature is put under his control, and his Providence directs all events so as to promote their welfare -not by abolishing the present consequences of sin, but by converting them into a salutary discipline to the soul; and death, which is still permitted to continue as a standing memorial of the evil of sin, shall at length be destroyed by the working of his mighty power, which is able to quicken the bodies that had been mingled with the dust of the earth. “I am,” says he, “the resurrection and the life”—“ the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and shall come forth.” Power is given to him over all flesh, that he may give eternal life to as many as the Father hath given him. And the crown of life that shall be conferred at the last day upon those for whom it is prepared is represented in Scripture, not as a recompense which they have earned, but as the gift of God through him. “The wages of sin is death—but eternal life is the gift of God, through Jesus Christ our Lord,” Rom. vi. 25.
In this manner the blessings which the Lord Jesus Christ, the one Mediator between God and man, that divine person who interposed for the salvation of mankind, is able to bestow, imply a complete deliverance from the evils of sin, a restoration to the image and favour of God here, and to a state of eternal felicity in the world to come; agreeably to what the apostle Paul says to the Romans, “ As, through one man's offence, death reigned by one; so they who receive abundance of grace, and of the gift of righteousness, shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.”
The present lecture will not admit of my going through the subject proposed at the outset :- I mean the doctrine on which
DOCTRINE OF CHRIST'S KINGDOM.
the Lord Jesus Christ has built his church-indeed we have only examined what appertains to the first part of it, the Scripture doctrine of the person, character, and work of the Saviour—there still remains to be considered that branch of it which relates to the person, office, and agency of the Holy Spirit in the economy of redemption-and it is the more necessary for me to bring prominently forward this subject, inasmuch as it is in vain to look for it in any of the histories of the Christian church now extant. This I shall endeavour to do in the next Lecture; in the meantime, suffer me to repeat, by way of impressing it more deeply upon your attention, that on no point have greater or more pernicious mistakes prevailed, than on the subject of Christ's kingdom on earth. It was from erroneous views of it that the Jews rejected the Messiahship of Jesus of Nazareth ; it was from erroneous views of it that the man of sin was engendered, nourished, and raised to his throne; it is from erroneous views of it that so much division exists among professing Christians of the present day. To heal these divisions, to unite the people of God in one, to bring down and effectually destroy the power of the man of sin, to exalt and promote the Redeemer's kingdom-to accomplish these great and important ends, the only scríptural method is for each one of us to appeal and study for himself the oracles of God, the simple records of divine truth, endeavouring to divest the mind of all prejudice and preconceived notions, to hear the voice of Jesus and follow him as sheep do their shepherd, to learn of him as disciples or scholars learn of their teacher, and to yield implicit obedience to his revealed will as subjects to their king; for he is king of Zion, and hath forbidden us to call any man master on earth.
The subject continued - Spirituality of Christ's Kingdom-Office
and operations of the Holy Spirit - Necessity of Divine Influence to the conversion of sinners-Formation of the Church at Jerusalem--Appointments of Public Worship-Elders and Deacons—Bond of Christian Union-Rule of DisciplineRecapitulation.
I endeavoured in my last Lecture to lay before you some scriptural views of the nature of the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ, founded upon his own declaration, when, in reply to Pilate's question, he answered, “ My kingdom is not of this world:” thereby teaching us that it is not of a secular nature, to be either propagated or defended by an arm of flesh, or to have its laws enforced by human sanctions, or any such temporal punishments as mere human authority can inflict. As this is a point of great importance, and lies at the foundation of all just views of Christianity, I crave your indulgence while I enlarge a little further upon it in this place, by way of introduction to the present Lecture.
Whoever examines with due care and attention the genius and characteristic properties of the Christian religion, as laid down by its divine founder, must admit that it is not possible to conceive a greater contrast than that which exists between the spirit which his instructions breathe and that spirit of pride and domination which has generally prevailed among clergymen, or in what is commonly called the church, in which I would be understood as including the church of Rome—all national churches without exception-and, would I could except from the charge many of the dissenting churches also ! but
“ Illiacos intra muros peccatur et extra."
DOCTRINE OF CHRIST'S KINGDOM.
While the Saviour himself was upon the earth, with what earnestness did he enforce it upon his apostles and followers not to affect a superiority over their fellow-disciples, or over one another, but to live as brethren and equals; and he did it in such a way as to impress upon them the fact that in this respect his kingdom would differ in its fundamental maxims from all the kingdoms of this world, viz. that that person would be deemed the greatest in it whose deportment should be the humblest, and that whosoever would attain pre-eminence must make good his claim to that honourable distinction by being more eminently serviceable to the brotherhood. But I will quote you his own words :-“ Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and that they that are great exercise authority upon them; but among you it shall not be so; on the contrary, whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister,” that is, your servant: “and whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant," or rather slave : “even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto but to minister, and give his life a ransom for many,” Matt, xx, 25—8. And again, “ Be ye not called Rabbi; for one is your Master, even Christ, and all ye are brethren : and call no man your father upon the earth; for one is your Father, which is in heaven. Neither be ye called masters; for one is your mąster, even Christ: but he that is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased, and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted : Matt, xxiii. 8–12. These admonitions and instructions are sufficiently plain and explicit to enable the simplest Christian to comprehend them, and also to apply them as a touchstone by which to distinguish the kingdom of Christ from all counterfeits. And then,
As to worldly monarchies, or commonwealths of whatever kind, the Lord Jesus taught his disciples to yield a ready and cheerful obedience to such rulers as Providence should set over them to pay them tribute, to submit to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake, provided they did not run counter to the law of God, “ Render to Cæsar the things that are Cæsar's,” said he," and to God the things are God's.” Far from affecting any secular power himself, when the multitude, on one occasion, would have taken him by force and made him a king, he withdrew from them; and