Page images

II. The glory of the kingdom of Christ is manifested in the manner and spirit of its administration.

The last words of David describe the manner of administering this government:-“ The anointed of the God of Jacob, and the sweet Psalmist of Israel said, The Spirit of the Lord spake by me, and his word was in my tongue. The God of Israel said, the Rock of Israel spake to me, He that ruleth over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God. And he shall be as the light of the morning when the sun riseth, even a morning without clouds; as the tender grass springing out of the earth by clear shining after rain."*

The most essential quality in the administration of any government is justice ; and justice is most conspicuous in this administration. The Sovereign confers no benefits on his friends, and inflicts no punishments on his enemies, but what are consistent with righteousness. “ With righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth : and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked. And righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins." He will render to each of his subjects, not for their works, yet, according to their works. He establishes his holy law as the rule of their conduct, and makes use of such motives to excite them to holy and spiritual obedience as are suitable to their nature, both as rational and * 2 Sam. xxiii. 1-4.

+ Isaiah xi. 4, 5.

as fallen creatures. As the law was first employed, so it is still used for conviction, for alarming the consciences even of the redeemed and the regenerate, and to excite to repentance and to renewed exercises of reformation.

The administration of this kingdom is also benign and gracious—it is indeed a kingdom of grace. The throne is a throne of grace, and the sceptre is a sceptre of grace. He revealeth his grace,

which is his glory; and thus he captivates the hearts of his people. He, in his great kindness, invites to him all that are athirst, all that are “ weary and heavy laden,”* and assures them that they shall find rest and refreshment. “He delivers the poor, when he cries, the needy, and him that hath no helper.” He is the husband of the widow, and the father of the fatherless in his holy habitation. “ When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongue faileth for thirst,” he graciously says, “I the Lord will hear them, I the God of Israel will not forsake them. I will open rivers in high places, and fountains in the midst of the valleys: I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water.”

In earthly kingdoms, the subjects are governed by general laws, which must necessarily be very inadequate to the variety of cases and occurrences. It is impossible that the multiplicity of actions, and all their individual shades, should be at all times considered and distinguished: hence has arisen the * Matt. xi. 28.

+ Isaiah xli. 17, 18.

proverb, Summum jus, summa injuria.” But our King is intimately acquainted with all hearts, and, being present in all places, he can apply his acts to individual examples, and appropriate smiles and frowns to each, as if there were no other beings that participated in his attention. In human administrations, the law extends only to outward acts; it relates only to objects of sense; insomuch that a pure spirit, disengaged from the body, is free from its sanction : but the kingdom of heaven is a spiritual one—it extends to the heart; it relates not to meats and drinks, but it is a kingdom that is “ within you,”* and relates to “ righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.”+ It is founded in communion with Christ : by his Spirit Christ lives in his members; their souls, whether in the body or out of the body, are always in his hands; he is Lord, both of the dead and the living; he adjusts himself to all cases, through every part of his vast empire. In earthly kingdoms, the utmost that can be done is, to lay down rules, to prescribe laws, and to sanction by rewards or penalties ; but Jesus Christ can write his laws on the hearts of his people. “ They are engraven, not on stone, but on fleshly tables." He knows how to speak to the heart; and “ they know his voice, and follow him; but a stranger they will not follow, for they know not the voice of a stranger." S

It is justly considered a high excellency in a ruler, that he is disinterested, that he pursues no interest * Luke xvii. 21.

† Rom. xiv. 17. # 2 Cor. iii. 3.

$ John x. 4, 5.


[blocks in formation]


of his own, apart from the general good of the empire : this is the very flower of royalty ; and those who have thus distinguished themselves have been justly considered as the greatest benefactors of mankind; they have been obeyed and loved while they lived, and foolishly idolized and worshipped when they died. But never was any one so disinterested as the King of Zion, who laid down his life for his people, while they were yet enemies. He wields the sceptre of universal dominion: he chains death and hell, quells the devils, and overrules all things for the good of his church. Though he sits at the right hand of God, he could not enjoy even that station, were it to continue a solitary one. Father,” says he,“ I will that they also whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am ; that they may behold my glory.”*

“ I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.”+ He blends the deepest condescension with the highest majesty. He is a lion against their enemies, but to them he appears as “a lamb in the midst of the throne.” The whole of his history is a history of the sacrifice of selfish feelings. The glory of the Father, and the good of man; these engaged his heart, these brought him from heaven, these regulated all his actions and sufferings; and he rested not till he

“ Father, I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.”I Well may we “speak,” then, “ of the glory of his kingdom, and talk of his power.”

† John xiv. 3. John xvii. 4.

could say,

* John xvii. 24.

III. The glory of the kingdom of Christ appears in the character of his subjects.

The character of a people for greatness and for virtue is part of the glory of any kingdom; and it must not be omitted here. The Divine Ruler will derive much of his glory from the change that he has wrought in his people. “ This people have I formed for myself,” says he; they shall shew forth my praise.”* As this change is derived from above, there is no foundation for boasting, yet the change is not the less real: it is the communication of the Saviour's image and spirit: and, when he comes, he will be glorified in his saints.

I cannot enter largely into a description of the subjects of this kingdom, nor is it necessary; but a few observations may be made.

1. These subjects are enlightened : they have just conceptions of things; they are delivered out of darkness, which envelopes the rest of mankind, as the children of Israel had light in the land of Goshen when the habitations of the Egyptians were in darkness. They see things as they are : they see them, in some measure, as they are seen by Jesus, the “true Light;" they form right estimates of objects, as they are holy or sinful, temporal or eternal; they reckon that all worldly treasures and delights are nothing and vanity when compared with the spiritual and everlasting riches and pleasures of Christ and his kingdom.

2. The subjects of this kingdom are renewed : the Spirit of God changes their heart; they are

* Isaiah xliii. 21.

« PreviousContinue »