Page images
PDF
EPUB

SERMON XXXVII.

THE EXTENT OF MESSIAH'S SPIRITUAL KINGDOM.

Rev. xi. 15.

The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Chrijlt and be Jhall reign for ever and ever.

THE kingdom of our Lord in the heart, and in the world, is frequently compared to a building or house, of which he himself is both the foundation and the architect *. A building advances by degrees -j-, and while it is in an unfinished state, a stranger cannot, by viewing its present appearance, form an accurate judgment of the

* Isa. xxviii. 16. aud liv. 11, 12. t * Cor. "'• 9.

Jtph. iiv 2Q—22.

design, design, and what the whole will be, when compleated. For a time, the walls are of unequal height, it is disfigured by rubbish, which at the proper season will be taken away; and by scaffolding, which, though useful for carrying on the building, does not properly belong to it, but will likewise be removed when the present temporary service is answered. But the architect himself proceeds according to a determinate plan, and his idea of the whole work is perfect from the beginning. It is thus the Lord views his people in the present life. He has begun a good work in them, but as yet every part of it is imperfect and unfinished; and there are not only defects to be supplied, but deformities and incumbrances that must be removed. Many of the dispensations and exercises, which contribute to form their re-> ligious character, do not properly belong to that work which is to abide, though they have a subserviency to promote it. When that which is perfect is come, the rest shall be done away.

And thus, although the growth and extent of his kingdom is the great scope and object of his providence; to which all the revolu

tions that take place in the kingdoms of this world, (hall be finally subservient; yet the steps by which he is carrying forward his design, are, for the most part, remote from the common apprehensions of mankind; and, therefore, seldom engage their attention. His kingdom, founded upon the rock of ages, is building, advancing, and the gates of hell shall not be able to withstand its progress. Only detached and inconsiderable parts of the plan are as yet visible, and the beauties are every where obscured by attendant blemishes. But his counsel shall stand, and he will do all his pleasure. Princes and statesmen seldom think of him, are seldom aware that in prosecuting their own schemes, they are eventually fulfilling his purposes, and preparing the way to promote the cause which they despise, and often endeavour to suppress. But thus it is. Sometimes he employs them, more directly, as his instruments, and when they are thus engaged in his work, their success is secured. So Cyrus, whom Isaiah mentioned by name *, long before his birth, as the appointed deliverer of Israel from their captivity, prospered in his enter* Isa. xlv. 1—5. Vol. 11. O prizes, prizes, being guided and girded by him whom he knew not, and established his own power upon the ruins of the Assyrian monarchy. The Roman empire likewise increased and prospered from small beginnings, that a way might be opened, in the proper season, for the destruction os the Jewish œconomy, and for facilitating the preaching of the gospel. And posterity will see, that the principal events of the present age, in Asia and America, have all a tendency to bring forward the accomplishment of my text; and are leading to one grand point, the spreading and establishment of the church and kingdom of our Lord. His plan is unalterably fixed. He has said it, and it shall be done. Things will not always remain in their present disordered state. And though this desirable period may be yet at a distance, and- appearances very dark and unpromising, the word of the Lord shall prevail over all discouragements and opposition.

Prophecies, which are not yet fulfilled, will necessarily be obscure. Many learned men have laboured to explain the prophecies in, this book, to ascertain the facts which are foretold, and to fix the dates when they may

be 6

« PreviousContinue »