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evil in this very house of David itself, to say nothing about the whole of his posterity. And And yet that house, until the coming of the Messiah, was not only actually visible to external observation, but beautifully continued in all its established order and ordinance, and remained so proof against all the opposition of devils and men, that it could not be overturned by any one, nor even altered; but all were compelled, even against their wills, to leave that political economy, or the sceptre of Judah, as it was first instituted, and according to the word of the divine promise, until the manifestation of Christ.
And, if you look at the visible face of the kingdom or church of the Messiah, as to its appearance in the world, since the time of his manifestation, there will seem to be still greater confusion and scattering; nay, it will appear that there never was less order, more distraction and misery, or a more deplorable state of things in any common government, than in this kingdom of the Messiah the Son of God. For, on the one hand, tyrants in power furiously scatter and lay it waste by fire, sword, and cruelty of every kind. And, on the other hand, fanatics and authors of false doctrines and sects shamefully divide and sunder it. And moreover, there appear in the lives and conduct of many who profess the name of Christ, an open and hardened presumption and impurity. So that, as I before observed, in no government does. there appear a more ruinous state of things, or less order, than in this government, For all those external enemies that I have mentioned, and those internal members, or rather, the devil in both, strives with all his might, that this dominion of Christ might be utterly destroyed and brought to nought, or be kept in a state of the utmost misery and turbulence,
In a word, as I said, Christ appears to be such in the world, as if he felt no concern whatever for his kingdom and government; as though he had no wish that it should be manifestly seen any where; and as if it were any thing but a kingdom all-wisely constituted and happily administrated, or ARUCHA and SEMURA, as it is here said. And yet, it is true that it is such a
kingdom as is here described and it must of necessity answer to both these terms in all things and through all things. And although it does not appear to be so, aci cording to human judgment and human observation, yet, it is so in the eyes of him who declares concerning this kingdom, Song. viii. 12, "My vineyard which is mine is before me. And also, Matt. xxviii. 20, “And lo! I am with you alway even unto the end of the world." And, again John xvi. 33, "Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world." For, when those who fear God contemplate the church through all this series of time, they see, and themselves experience, that there ever was, and still exists and remains among the human race, a small company collected together by the power which is from above, who profess and worship the name of Christ in true faith and godliness, who go on to spread abroad the true doctrine of the gospel by their teaching and profession, who hold the true use of the sacraments and of the keys' of the church, who experience the Holy Spirit working effectually in them by his illuminations and gifts, and who stand fast in this kingdom of the Son of God, invincible against the gates of hell.-It now follows
For all my salvation and all my desire are nothing.
If, saith he, I may be allowed to glory at all in myself, I am a king appointed of God, and have a dignity bestowed upon me above all other kings. I have often conducted wars, in which I have fought bravely and gained signal victories; and, by the help of God, have experienced many wonderful deliverances. And moreover, in my administration of government, I have done many things that have been beneficial, and that, with singular success. (This is what he means by "my salvation.") I have diligently governed the state, and have exerted my utmost endeavours that all things may be done rightly and in order, and that each one may have his right: and I have also suffered many things. But all this glory, not of my government only, but of that belonging to all other kings and.
princes together, when compared with the kingdom of this Lord, the Messiah, the Rock of Israel, my Son, that shall be born of my seed, is nothing as it were but a dry tree or branch, from which no bud or shoot can ever spring forth.-For no king of all the human race ever was, or ever will be, the conqueror and destroyer of those evils, sin, death, the devil, hell, and the world. Nor did any one ever effect this by his government—the giving to his citizens the blessings of righteousness, the fear or reverence of God, and eternal life and felicity! The government of us all, is poor, miserable, dry and vain. But, this my Son, the Messiah, the Rock of Israel,—he it is, I say, who alone triumphs a conqueror over death, sin, hell, the world, and all the powers of adversaries. He it is, whose government brings with it, and bestows, this on all his,--the making them righteous before God, and giving unto them eternal life and blessedness. And this is, indeed, a truly flourishing, prosperous, and fruitful kingdom, which never withers nor decays.
But the sons of Belial are all of them as thorns destined to be thrust away, which cannot be gathered with hands. But the man that shall pluck them out must be fenced with iron and spears; so that they shall be utterly burned with fire in their own place.
Here David is now prophesying concerning his own people the Jews, the greatest and most powerful part of whom would not receive this Lord and King, the Messiah. These he calls, Hebraically, "the sons of Belial:" which signifies, wicked and unprofitable men, who are of no other use than to do evil and hurt: such as Paul calls," abominable and disobedient, and to every good work reprobate:" and, who in every government and political institution are called vagabonds, and pests of the human race.
But David is here speaking of the kingdom of Christ: in which, such is the appearance of things, that those who are the enemies of this Lord and the most noxious pests to his government, are such, that the world would judge them to be the best of characters, the most holy,
and the most beneficial to the human race. And moreover, they are found among that very company who are called the people of God, and more especially arrogate to themselves the name and title of the church, and are judged to be the most important part of the people of God, being exalted in power and authority, and in a self-persuasion of their great wisdom and virtues. And just such do the sect of the Jews and Mahometans, and the Papists among us, and also the different divisions. and sects of fanatics, seem to themselves to be; imagining, that they only are the people of God, and beneficial to the world, and that they render unto God a most solemn worship, and unto the world a most signal service, when they persecute with all their power, and take utterly out of the land of the living, the truly godly who embrace the name and doctrine of Christ. Therefore, they hear nothing with more indignation than their being called sons of Belial, vagabonds, and reprobate: for they would have themselves considered and proclaimed, persons the most useful and beneficial to the human race.
And in this same way also does Jeremiah speak of the false prophets, chap. xxiii. 32, "with their profiting they shall not profit my people at all: " that is, they are most destructive in that, in which they boast themselves of being most profitable. In a word, the truly godly who embrace Christ, are looked upon as the sons of Belial and servants of the devil, while these are considered to be alone the sons of God; whatever they do is judged to be right and just, and they have the approbation, the applause, and the interest of the whole world. And so it will go on, until God sitting to judge them, shall cast them out of the company of his elect, and consume and destroy them with the fire of his wrath and judgment: as was proved by a most terrible example in those last dregs of the Jewish nation: on whom, as Paul saith, the wrath of God came unto the uttermost.
DAVID ADDS, Moreover, a striking similitude; comparing them to the kinds of thorns which grow up together with the wheat and corn in the fields; (for he
still carries on the comparison of the gladdening and fruitful time of spring.) And this is the same kind of weeds or thorns that Christ means when he calls them, with reference to this passage, "tares" (Zizania): for although Ambrosius interprets this word as signifying a kind of degenerate or bastard wheat, yet, I think something worse than that is here intended by Christ; that is, that he means some kind of weed or thorn that is separated from the wheat in the harvest when the sheaves are collected, and afterwards burnt, as Christ says; wherein, he expresses himself exactly according to the words of David, who says, that these thorns shall be "plucked out from the rest, and afterwards' utterly burned with fire.'
I understand Zizania, therefore, to signify the same as Koz does in this passage; namely, that more rough, sharp, and prickly kind of thorns or thistles, which grow among the wheat itself, and which, in the time of harvest, are cut up separately with hooks, and afterwards torn up by the roots with rakes and harrows; for they cannot be gathered by the naked hand, nor are they of any other use than to light the fires on the hearth; but that zizania which they call bastard wheat, is of use as fodder for cattle.
Such thorns and thistles as these are that generation of Jews who persecute the Messiah who has been manifested by the most signal and divine testimonies; and that with such fury and malice, that they could not be turned from their determination by any goodness of God, nor by any wonderful works; nor brought to embrace the Son of God promised and given unto them, until at last the Roman armies destroyed them with arms, fire, sword, and slaughter. Yet even now, they cease not to burn with rage wherever they assemble together in their conventicle, though they are now miserable exiles under the flaming wrath of God.
Thus, then, you see was predicted by David, the utter destruction of that people, because they rejected this their Lord and King. And this is according to the words of Luke also, where he saith, xiii. 35, "Behold