« PreviousContinue »
he must receive it from Him, under whose commission he acted, and to whom he had voluntarily become a servant, when he was made in the likeness of men.
This person, it is plain, had received no Kingdom, until his ascension to heaven; had not before been head over all things to the Church; nor been exalted above every name that is named in this world, and that to come. This Kingdom is frequently spoken of as the reward of the labours and sufferings of Christ, in the character of Mediator. These labours and sufferings had never before existed; and, therefore, could not have been rewarded at an earlier period.
From these views of the subject it is clear, that although Christ, as God, was incapable of exaltation, equally as of suffering ; yet, as Mediator, he was capable of both; and that his exaltation was with perfect propriety given him by the glorious Person, under whose authority he placed himself by voluntarily assuming the form of a servant. In this view of the subject the Trinitarians are so far from being inconsistent with themselves, that they merely accord with the necessary consequences of their own doctrine.
II. We are taught in the text the Extent of this Kingdom.
The word Kingdom sometimes denotes the rule, which is exercised by a King; and sometimes the persons and regions, which he rules. According to the former of these senses, David says, Thou hast prepared ihy throne in the heavens; and thy Kingdom is over all. Of the latter sense, It shall be given thee, to the half of the Kingdom, is an example.
1st. Then, the Kingdom of Christ is the Universe.
In the text, the extent of Christ's kingdom is repeatedly denoted by the phrase all things. The absolute universality of this phrase is sufficiently manifest from the text itself, when it is said, that he is set at the right hand of God, far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name ihat is named in this world, and that which is to come. But it is placed beyond all doubt in the corresponding passage in Philippians ii. 10, where it is said, that every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess, that Jesus Christ is Lord. Heaven and Earth, is the phrase, by which the Jews denoted the Universe. When they meant to express this idea with emphasis, they sometimes added the phrase, under the Earth. Here we have the most emphatica! language, ever used by a Jew to denote the Universe, and all things which it contains. Every knee in this vast dominion we are assured will one day bow to Christ; and every tongue found in it will confess, at a future period, that Christ is Lord. In the same manner, in Colossians i. 16, All things are said to be created by him, and for him ; whether they be visible or invisible, whether in heaven or in earth. As in this absolutely universal sense they
were made by and for himself; so from this passage we cannot doubt, that in the same sense they will be his absolute possession; and that after, as well as before, he became Mediator. This world, therefore, the planetary system, the stellary systems, the highest heavens above, and hell beneath, are all included, and alike included, in the immense empire, of which he is the head. Men are his subjects. Angels both fallen and virtuous are his subjects; and the inhabitants of the innumerable worlds, which compose the Universe, confess that he is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
2dly. His authority over this great kingdom is supreme.
The whole course of providence is under his immediate control. He upholds all things by the word of his power ; and directs them with an universal and irresistible agency to their proper ends. The affairs of this world, and all its inhabitants, are di. rected by his hand. He has the keys of hell and of death, or of the world of departed spirits. He openeth, and no one shutteth; and shutteth, and no one openeth.
Into that world none enter without his bidding; and out of it none can come but by his permission. The world of misery, beneath, is in the same manner under his absolute dominion; and the glorious system of happiness in the heavens, above, is the mere result of his wisdom, goodness, and power.
In the exercise of this dominion he will, at the close of this providential system, summon the dead from the grave; consume the world with fire; and judge both the righteous and the wicked, both Angels and men. In the exercise of the same authority, also, he will send the wicked down to the regions of darkness, and punish them with an everlasting destruction from his presence, and from the glory of his power.
IN. We are taught in the text, that this kingdom was given, and `assumed, for the benefit of the Church.
This doctrine is directly asserted in the text; and will, therefore, not be questioned. In the exercise of this Government over all things for the benefit of his Church, He, in the
1st place, Defends it from all his enemies.
The enemies of Christians are their temptations, internal and external; their sins ; death ; evil men; and evil angels.
Against their temptations he furnishes them with defence by all the instructions, precepts, warnings, reproofs,
threatenings, and promises which are contained in his Word. These constitute a continual and efficacious protection from the influence of the lusts within, and the enemies without, by rectifying the views of the soul concerning its interest and duty; awakening in it solemn consider
j ation ; alarming it with affecting apprehensions; encouraging it with hope ; alluring it with love and gratitude ; stimulating it with the prospect of a glorious reward ; and thus prompting it to suspend the dangerous purpose, to watch against the rising sin, to
oppose with vigour the intruding temptation, and to pray unceasingly for that divine assistance, which every one that asketh shall receive.
To the means of defence, furnished by his word, he adds continually the peculiar influences of his Spirit. This glorious Agent, commissioned by Christ for this divine purpose, diffuses through the soul the spirit of resistance, the hope of victory, the strength necessary to obtain it, and the peace and joy which are its happy as well as unfailing consequences.
From their sins he began to deliver them by his Atonement. This work he carries on by his intercession; and completes by his providence. In the present world, where all things are imperfect, this deliverance partakes, it must be acknowledged, of the common na. ture: yet it is such, as to secure them from every fatal evil; and such, as we know to be one of those things, which work together for their good. Their progress towards perfect holiness is slow, irregular, and interrupted: yet it is real, and important: producing hope, comfort, and perseverance unto the end.
At the Judgment this deliverance will be complete. There the glorious effects of his Atonement and Intercession will be all realized. Every one of his followers will find himself entirely interested in them both; and will see, at that trying period, all his sins washed
away, and nothing left to be laid to his charge. These dreadful enemies, at this dreadful season, will be powerless, and overthrown; and Christians will be more than conquerors through him that hath loved them.
From Death he has taken away its sting, and from the grave its victory. Death, so terrible to the impenitent, will be found by them to be no other than a rough, gloomy, unwelcome messenger; sent to summon them to the house of their Father. Over all its dangerous power they will triumph in a glorious manner; and be enabled to sing with everlasting exultation, O Death! where is thy sting? O Grave! where is thy victory? All the preceding diseases, sorrows, and trials, through which they have passed in this vale of tears, they will distinctly perceive to have been scarcely enemies at all. On the contrary, they will appear to have been sent with
. infinite kindness, to check them in the career of iniquity, to warn them of approaching danger, or existing sin, and to call them effectually to the path of life.
Against evil men and evil Angels he furnishes them, throughout their pilgrimage, with a continual and sufficient protection : not a protection, indeed, which will prevent them from suffering and sorrow; but this is because suffering and sorrow are necessary to their safety and improvement. Hence, they are maligned, calumniated, despised, persecuted, and at times brought to a violent death. They are, also, at times perplexed, ensnared, allured, and tempted to wander from their duty, by art, sophistry, and falsehood. By the former class of evils they are gradually weaned from that love
of the world, that desire of human favour, and that lust for human applause, which so naturally charm the eyes, and fascinate the hearts, even of Christians, and which are wholly inconsistent with the love of God. By the latter they are made sensible of their own weakness, taught their dependence on God, driven to their closets and their knees, and induced to walk humbly with God, all their days, in the intimate and most profitable communion of faith
The triumphing of the wicked is short; and the upright shall have dominion over them in the morning. When Christians are redeemed from the power of the grave, they shall see all these enemies retiring behind them, and speedily vanishing, with the flight of ages, to a distance, immeasurable by the power of the imagination. All around them will then be friends. God will then be their Father; Angels their brethren; happiness their portion; and heaven their everlasting home.
2dly. In the exercise of this authority, he bestows on them all good, temporal and eternal.
Of temporal good he gives them all that is necessary, or useful, for such beings, in such a state. The world may be, and often is, a vale of tears; and life a solitary pilgrimage through a weary land. Poverty may betide, afflictions befall
, diseases arrest, and death, at what they may think an untimely period, summon them away. By enemies they may be surrounded, and by friends forsaken. They may be exposed to hatred, contumely, and pers
rsecution. Their days may be overcast with gloom, and their nights with sorrow. But He has assured them, and they will find the assurance verified, that these are light afflictions which only work for them an eternal weight of glory; and that these, as truly as all other, things work together for their good. Even these, therefore, however forbidding their aspect, will be found to be good for them; good upon the whole; good in such a sense, as to render their whole destiny brighter, better, and more happy.
In the mean time, he furnishes them also, and furnishes them abundantly, with spiritual good. He furnishes them with the sanctification of the soul. He gives them light, to discover their own duty, and his glory, and excellency. He gives them strength, to resist temptations; sorrow for their sins; patience, resignation, and fortitude, under afflictions; faith to confide in him, and to overcome the world; hope, to encourage their efforts, and to fix them firmly in their obedience; peace, to hush the tumults of the mind, and to shed a cheerful serenity over all its affections; and joy, to assure them of his glorious presence, and to anticipate in their thoughts the everlasting joy of his immortal kingdom.
In the future world, when death shall have been swallowed up in victory, and all tears shall be wiped away from their eyes, he will begin to bestow upon them eternal good. In this fulness of joy, every thing will be only delightful. Their bodies, raised from the
grave in incorruption, power, and glory, will be spiritual, immortal, ever vigorous, and ever young: Their souls, purified from every stain, and luminous with knowledge and virtue, will be images of his own amiableness and consummate beauty. Their stations, allotments, and employment, will be such, as become those who are Kings, and Priests, in the heavenly world. Their companions will be Cherubim and Seraphim ; and their home will be the house of their Father, and their God.
At the same time, in bestowing all this good he himself is the dispenser, and the good dispensed. I, says Christ, am the light of the world. The city, saith St. John, had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it; for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof. In other words, Christ is the medium, through which all the knowledge of God is conveyed to the intelligent Universe, his character discovered, and his pleasure made known. Of the heavenly world, particularly, he is here expressly declared to be the light : The glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof. The Lamb is this glory of God, which is said to be the light of heaven. Christ is not only the dis. penser of the good enjoyed in heaven, but the very good, which is dispensed; not only the dispenser of knowledge, but the thing known; not only the communicator of enjoyment, but the thing enjoyed; the person divinely seen, loved, worshipped, and praised, for ever. In his presence, all his followers, and all their happy
. companions, with open face beholding in him, as in a glass, the glory of the Lord, will be changed into the same image from glory to glory, as by the Spirit of the Lord.
REMARKS. From these observations may in the 1st place, Be conclusively argued the Divinity of Christ.
From the text, and the comments here given on it, it is evident, that Christ holds the sceptre of the Universe, and rules the great Kingdom of Jehovah. Let me ask, Who, but the infinitely perfect One, can possibly hold such a sceptre, or control, successfully, or even at all, such an empire? Unless he be every where present, , how can he every where act, rule, and bring to pass such events,
, as he chooses ; such as are necessary to the divine glory, and the universal good? Unless thus present, acting, and ruling, how can he prevent the existence of such things, as will be injurious to this good; or fail to be disappointed of his own purposes, and, ultimately, of the supreme end of all his labours ? How evident is it, even to our view, that inanimate things must cease to operate, and to move in their destined course; that animated beings must wander out of it; and that rational beings must, if virtuous, go astray, from the defectiveness of their imperfect nature, and, if sinful, from malignity and design. The evil designs of the latter, particularly, must, if he be not present, multiply in their numbers, and increase