Page images
PDF
EPUB

pressive of his office, was given to him. When the days of his mother's purification were accomplished, he was brought to Jerusalem ; and presented, by a sola emn dedication, in the temple, As it behoved him to be made, in all things, like unto his brethren, tempta. ţion and persecution not excepted, his life was sought by a jealous and cruel king; he was driven into Egypt; was detained there in a kind of bondage ; led out of it; in connexion with the death of his persesutors; and cons ducted to, and put in posession of the land of promise, in a manner remarkably corresponding with the expec rience of Israel, as'a body. Being made under the law, he was in all respects conformed to it. In obedience to the fifth commandment, he was subject to his par ents while in his minority. During the whole time, antecedent to his shewing unto Israel, he was, “ holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners." He had his way prepared before him, when he was about publicly to take possession of the throne of his father David. Mat, iii. 1. "In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, and say ing, repent ye, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.'?

At the age of thirty years, he ascended the throne of his father Dayid. By an inaugural rite, (which will be explained in a following chapter) the descent of the Ho. ly Ghost upon him, in the form of a dove ; the testimo. ny, by an audible voice from heaven, that he was God's beloved son ; and the witness of John ;' he assumed the office, and entered upon the discharge of the duties, of his Messiahship. He enters the synagogues; preaches righteousness in the great congregation ; applies to himself, publicly, the prophecies respecting the Messiah. He begins to collect followers. · He finds Na. thaniel, an Israelite indeed, in whom there was no , guile ; John, Andrew, Philip, Simon, Matthew, James, Thomas, Levi, &c. Multitudes soon gather round: him, to hear his instructions, and see his mighty works.: He feeds them miraculously, heals their diseases, de, clares to them his glory, and his kingdom. He enters the temple, and scourges out of it those who were pro

faning it. His fan is in his hand. He separates the holy, from the vile. He comforts and encourages the former. He denounces extermination against the latter. With the former he converses as friends, as real brethren. The latter he reproves and condemns, as brethren in name only ; as enemies, who were con.. spiring his death. To the former he says, Luke xii. 32, “ Fear not little flock; for it is your father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” Ib. xxii. 28. Ye are they which have continued with me in my temptations. And I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me ; that ye may eat and drink at my table, in my kingdom, and sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel,” i. e. un. doubtedly, the rebellious part of the twelve tribes. For these, his little flock, he thus interceeds. John xvii, " I have manifested thy name, unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world, thine they were, and thou gavest them me ; and they have kept thy word. I pray for them, I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me, for they are thine : And all mine are thine, and thine are mine, and I am glorified in them.” To the latter he says, John viji, 44. “Ye are of your father the Devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do.? These were all descendants from Abraham, his brethren, and visible subjects of his kingdom ; those who received, and those who re: jected him. For we are told, John i. 11. “He came unto his own, and his own received him not; But to as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them which believe on his name.” In the midst of his affectionate followers, he enters his own city Jerusalem, with that kind of tri. umph, which suited the spirituality of his dominion, and allows himself to be acknowledged, and that publicly, as the king of Israel. Luke xix. 37. “ And when he was come nigh, even now at the descent of the mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disci, ples, began to rejoice, and praise God with a loud voice, for all the mighty works, that they had seen, saying

blessed be the king that cometh in the name of the Lord, peace in heaven, and glory in the highest." He kept the passover, in careful conformity to his condition as a Jew. To his followers he instituted, and with them he partook of the holy supper. To them he appeared as his real subjects after his resurrection, To them he gave his benediction. With them he left the precious deposit of his word ; to them he gave in charge the preaching of his kingdom over the earth, with the promise, « Lo I am with you alway, even un to the end of the world.” And in their sight he as, eended up into heaven. · This detail may be thought superfluous. But it is an appeal to facts, as coincident with the representations which have been given in the preced. ing chapters, and the prophecies which went before, respecting the Messiah, and his kingdom. In these facts, we see him uniting'himself formally and public, ly, to the Jews, as his people. We see the different ef. fects of his ministry upon those who believed ; and upon those who believed not. We witness the sol. emn manner in which, in his declarations, interces. sions, and public treatment of them, he separates be. tween those who are Israel, and those who are only of Israel. We behold him gathering his loyal subfects around him, as thạt kingdom, of which he is head; and which he was to order and establish forever. We. behold him ordering it, and establishing it, accordingly; and leaving the world, as its public protector, with his benediction resting upon it. Here is not the least appearance of the termination of one kingdom, over which he had presided, and setting up a new one, over which, as a society of a distinct character, he was to preside in future. Had Christ excluded the whole of the Jewish people, from being connected with himself, as Messiah, and united himself to the Gentiles only; then there would have been some reason, to think fa. yorably of such an idea. Though it would not have followed, even then, that an absolutely new kingdom gvas instítuted. Because it is evident a kingdom may

that are 611. sodom of her “Andis

change its subjects, without being dissolved. But we see it is exactly otherways. The seed of Abraham, are the persons exclusively, to whom Christ's public ministry is addressed, to whom he is visibly united, and of whom his kingdom consists, when he finally leaves the world. The subjects of this kingdom arc all, at this time, native Jews. .

But there is supposed to be a difficulty in the way of admitting this conclusion, from the manner in which our Savior speaks, frequently, of the kingdom of heava en. He says, Mat. iv. 17. “Repènt, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.Again x. 7. And as ye go; preach, saying, the kingdom of heaven is at hand.He says, xi. 11. .5. Verily I say unto you, among them that are born of women, there hath not risen a greater than John the baptist; notwithstanding, he that is least in the kingdom of heaven, is greater than he:" This manner of expression is supposed to teach, that the kingdom of the Messiah was not yet set up; but was to be a matter of future establishment. The phrases, kingdom of heaven, and kingdom. of God, seem to be used in the Gospel as of equivalent meaning. But this meaning isnot uniformly the same. Sometimes, and more generally, the phrase, the kingdom of heaven, intends the state of the Church, in this world, sometimes its state in the next; but always respects, as far as I have observed, the state of the church subsequent to Christ's appearance upon earth, as its visible head. This kingdom is certainly distinguisha. ble from the gospel-itself. Because the gospel of the kingdom is frequently mentioned. This phraseology supposes, that the Gospel, and the kingdom, are two things.. The Gospel is the intelligence communicated. The intelligence is, that the kingdom of heaven is at hand. The original word translated at hand, is myvina ; and signifies local nearness, rather than nearness in regard to time. And it is certain, this kingdom, is often spoken of by our Savior, as already in existence. An example of it we have, Mat. xi. 12. “And from the đays of John the baptist even until now, the kingdom

of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.” It must have existed, or it could not have been a subject of this violence. It must be admitted, that the observation of Christ, in the verse before this, respecting John the baptist, implies, that he (John) was not in the kingdom of heaven. But will any one con: tend, that he was not in the kingdom of the Messiah ? Certainly he was a subject of this kingdom. Promises, predictions, and facts, as they have been already called into view, prove, that it had long existed, and that it would not be discontinued. · And it is not pre. tended that there are two kingdoms, over which Christ maintains a mediatorial government. He is head over all things unto the Church. This is his one body, the fullness of him who filleth all in all. The phrase then, kingdom of heaven, must have an appropriate meaning. And it seems to intend, Zion, at a particular period of her existence; in her greater enlargement, spirituality, light, and beauty ; derived from the Redeemer's presence, and instructions, and the more abundant effusions of the Holy Ghost, which were to be given. The day of the Messiah was to be, and in fact was, a luminous day, far beyond any preceding parallel. Motives were multiplied, types were answered, the leading promises of the former dispensation were fulfilled; the Messiah was come; the spirit was richly given, and grace was glorified. So great was this augmentation of glory, to which the Church was raised, as to justify the figura. tive representation of the prophet, Isaiah. xxx. 26. “Moreover the light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun shaM be sevenfold, as the light of seven dsys, in the day that the Lord bindeth up the breach of his people, and healeth the stroke of their wound.” This was somewhat like the setting up of a new kingdom, yet it was in fact only the increase of one long establishted. *

* " John the forerunner of Christ, was the first who administered baptism, under the new dispensation." Baldwin on Baptism, page 193. Perhaps I do not rightly apprehend what Dr. Baldwin means here by new dispensation. At any rate this position implies, that the dispensation was in existence prior ter Joho's beginning to baptize.

« PreviousContinue »