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connected, and the latter uniformly inferred from the former. This connexion is clearly established in the passage I have read to you, which contains,
I. The distinguishing privilege of believers in Christ. “ We,” saith the Apostle, in the name of all true Chris= tians, " receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved.”
II. An exhortation to duty, founded upon this privi. lege, and the motives with which it is enforced : “ Let us have grace whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: for our God is a consuming fire."
Both these subjects are so extensive, that each of them might furnish materials for many discourses. All I can at present propose is, to give some assistance to your minds when you meditate upon them in private, by weighing the import of the words in which they are expressed; every one of which appears to be strongly emphatical, and full of the most instructive and comfortable meaning.
1 begin with the privilege of believers iu Christ Jesus, I expressed in these words, “ We receiving a kingdom that cannot be moved.” - Where you will observe,
1st, The designation that is given to their portion. It
is styled a kingdom, which, among earthly possessions 3 is universally admitted to hold the first rank; but wbat is
the highest dignity, and the greatest affluence that this earth can afford, when compared with the kingdom whereof my text speaks? Would you know the extent of it? you may learn it from (1 Cor. iii. 21, &c.) “ All things are yours.” And it must be so, for God bimself is the
por: tion of bis saint; for as many as receive Christ, “ to them gives he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name;—and if sons, then are they also leirs, heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ
Jesus.” Accordingly they are said, by the apostle Peter, 6 to be begotten again to the lively hope of an inberitance incorruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth not away." Which last expression agrees with the description here given by the Apostle, where he calls it a king. dom that cannot be moved; and the stability of it is ex. plained by Peter, in the passage I just now alluded to, where he not only informs us, that this inheritance is reserved in heaven, beyond the reach of every adverse power; but likewise, that all who are begotten again to the hope of it, " are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation.”
You will further observe, that believers are said to receive this kingdom. They have no natural right to it; on the contrary, by the fatal apostacy, they are children of wrath and heirs of destruction. They have no price to give for it; for they are not only wretched and mise. rable, but poor, and blind, and naked. It is a gift altogether free and unmerited on their part. “ It is
Father's good pleasure,” said Christ to his disciples, “ to give you the kingilom;" and eternal life is expressly said to be “the gift of God through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
Once more, you will observe, that this inheritance is not altogether future. The Apostle speaks of it as a present possession. He doth not say, We looking for a kingdom that cannot be moved; but, we receiving it in the mean time. This is perfectly agreeable to what he had said, (ver. 22.) “ Ye are come unto mount Zion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, to the
general assembly and church of the first born, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, and to Jesus the
mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprink. ling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel." Believers have not only a title to the glory that shall afterwards be revealed, but they possess the earnest and first fruits of it in the mean time. Heaven is already begun in their hearts; the kingdom of God is within them, that kingdom which consisteth not in meats and drinks, but in righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.—He who loved them, and washed them from their sins in his own blood, hath also made them kings and priests unto God.-By bebolding bis glory with the eye of faith, they are “ changed into the same image, from glory to glory," while they sojourn here below, as we read 2 Cor. iii. 18. This resemblance, at present indeed imperfect, shall continually advance, through the influences of the divine Spirit, till, being released from the prison of the body, they shall no more see darkly as through a glass, but face to face; and by seeing him as he is, shall be fully transformed into his image, wbich will render them completely happy, as it is written, (1 John iii. 2.) “ Beloved, now are we the sons of God; and it doth not yet appear what we shall be, but we know, that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.”
Thus have I opened the import of the terms by which the Apostle describes the dignity and happiness of believers in Christ Jesus. By their new birth and in consequence of their union with the Lord Jesus Christ, they are constituted heirs of a kingdom, which it is their Father's good pleasure to bestow upon them by free gift; this kingdom cannot be moved; it was prepared for them before the foundation of the world; it is reserv. ed for them in heaven, and they are kept for it through faith by the power of God: and though the full posses.
sion of it, in all its glory, awaits them in a future state, yet they have their maintenance and provision out of it in the mean time; the new nature they have got is not only the pledge, but the earnest of the inheritance, be. ing of the same kind with that glory which is afterwards to be revealed; they at present receive eternal life, a life that cannot die, but, like the morning light, shall con. tinue to shine with increasing brightness, till in heaven it shall arrive at the perfect day.
Such is the present dignity and happiness of all true believers in Christ Jesus; in this sense the weakest, as well as the strong, receive a kingdom which cannot be moved.
Il. Ler us consider the exhortation to duty, founded upon this privilege, “ Let us have grace.”
1st. We are called upon to serve God. Believers, though kings, are still the subjects of the King of kings; and the honour conferred upon them, instead of relax. ing their obligation to duty, rather binds them to serve him with greater zeal and activity. Their very royalty consists in their release from the enemies of God, which formerly enslaved and led them captive at their pleasure. Hence that exhortation of the Apostle, “Let not sin reign in your mortal bodies.” They are styled, in the book of the Revelation, “ Kings and priests to God, even the Father:" and dominion is given them, not in respect of God, to render them independent on him, but in respect of sin, Satan, the world, and death, over all which they are made conquerors through him that loved them, and washed them from their sins in his own blood. They are indeed a chosen generation, and a royal priesthood; but for what end? It is, that by bringing forth the fruits of righteousness, “ they may shew forth the praises of him who hath called them out of darkuess into his marvel. lous light."
2dly. We are reminded of the qualification that is requisite for serving God acceptably. We cannot do this by any strength that is inherent in us. “ We are not sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves." We are indeed exhorted to work out our own salvation; but at the same time we are told, “that it is God who worketh in us both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” The Apostle's words are chosen with the most significant propriety. He doth not say, Let us take strength to ourselves; or, let us purchase it from another; but, let us bave it; i. e. Let us ask it of him who giveth liberally-Let us possess it, by receiving the gift that is offered; or, having received it, let us hold it fast, as the word is rendered in the margin, and improve it to the purposes for which it was bestowed.
3dly. We are directed to the manner of serving God, so as to be accepted of him, viz. “ with reverence and godly fear:" i. e. with a deep sense of his infinite greatness, and of our own meapness and unworthiness. We are indeed exhorted and encouraged to come boldly to a throne of grace; but it must be such a boldness only as becometh those who stand in need both of mercy and grace; of mercy to pardon what hath been amiss, and of grace to help them in every time of need. “ There is for. giveness with thee,” said the Psalmist, “that thou mayest be feared.” And indeed mercy is dispensed in such a way, as renders God no less awful than he is amiable to the pardoned sinner. The sacrifice of Christ, while it manifests the love of God in giving bis Son to be the propitiation for our sins, affords, at the same time, the strongest proof and demonstration of his holiness and justice. The new and living way of access to God is consecrated for us through the veil of Christ's flesh. The blood that cleanseth from all sin, by which we have