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consciences of men.
It was a kingdom which consisted of subjects who entered into it and continued in it voluntarily, and were neither encouraged nor kept in awe by those methods which are most effectual in civil society. Temporal recompenses and temporal chastisements were sparingly administered in it. At its first establishment, and for a considerable time after, the loss of friends and of fortunes and of life was the present prospect for those who should enter into it, and the recompense was eternal happiness after death.
2. Christ's kingdom was to extend itself over all nations, and to differ in this from human empires, which had indeed been called universal monarchies, and whose kings and emperors had styled themselves lords of the world, but had no just pretensions to such titles. Christ declares that all power was given to him in heaven and earth, that all things were delivered to him of his Father; and St. Paul, that at his name all should bow in heaven and earth. His kingdom, then, is universal, and all creatures are, or ought to be, his subjects, all the inhabitants of heaven, and all mankind. Therefore they who serve and obey him are to be considered as his dutiful subjects; they to whom he is preached, and who reject his gospel, are his rebellious subjects ; they who receive his religion, but live not according to it, are his disobedient and sinful subjects; and they who never had opportunities of hearing and learning it, are to be considered as his ignorant subjects, who know not their true Lord and master; for he has a right to rule over them all, and in that sense is universal king
But the number of those who should profess themselves to be, and who should indeed be, his servants, is represented by the prophets as exceedingly great.
"All nations,' say the prophets, and many people shall go and say, Let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob, and he will teach us his ways, and we will walk in his paths. There shall be a root of Jesse, to it shall the Gentiles seek.All the ends of the world shall remember and turn unto the Lord, and the kindreds of the nations shall worship before thee. -All nations whom thou hast made shall come and worship
before thee, O Lord, and shall glorify thy name.-
Behold my servant-in whom my soul delighteth-he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles.- I will give thee for a covenant to the people, for a light to the Gentiles. It is a light thing that thou shouldst be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel : I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayst be my salvation unto the ends of the earth.—The earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea. From the rising of the sun even unto the going down of the same, my name shall be great among the Gentiles, and in every place incense shall be offered unto my name, and a pure offering ; for my name shall be great among the Heathen, saith the Lord of Hosts. -I saw, says Daniel,' and behold one like the son of man, --and there was given unto him dominion and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.'
Thus it was foretold of Christ, in general, that he should rule over all nations; in particular, that he should have the throne of David, and rule over the house of Jacob.
3. Christ is called a righteous branch, and the Lord our righteousness ;' he is also called the Prince of peace.' His kingdom was to be a kingdom of righteousness; piety and virtue were to flourish in his dominions; his kingdom was to be a kingdom of peace, as it should be established without war and bloodshed, and as his subjects should be quiet and peaceable. Isaiah says of the converted multitudes, they shall beat their swords into plow-shares, and their spears into pruning-hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.'
And again, describing the amazing change that should be wrought in savage and cruel nations, he compares them to the wildest and fiercest beasts putting off their nature and becoming tame and gentle.
The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf, and the young lion, and the fatling toge
ther, and a little child shall feed them; and the cow and the bear shall feed, their young ones shall lie down together, and the lion shall eat straw like the ox; and the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp.—They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain.'
Concerning the completion of these prophecies there arises a difficulty, when we compare the predictions with the event. The objections I shall endeavour to state fairly, though in few words, and then proceed to the answer, to the solution of them.
The prophets, as we have seen, describe the kingdom of Christ, first, as extending in some sense over all people, and spreading itself through the earth ; secondly, as comprehending in it the Jewish nation; and thirdly, as a kingdom of concord and righteousness. But, first, there have always been, and there are now many great nations who make no part of the kingdom of Christ; secondly, the Jews continue in their unbelief, and our Lord has no subjects amongst them; thirdly, there have been continual wars, persecutions, religious controversies, and wickedness, in the Christian world.
To all which it may be answered;
It is reasonable to suppose that the holy Spirit of God, who inspired the prophets, gave them a view of the kingdom of Christ, in general, from its establishment to the end of the world, and that they were led to represent it in their prophecies as it should be in its full lustre, in its highest degree of beauty and perfection ; it is no less reasonable to suppose that the time is not yet arrived when his kingdom shall be in its most glorious state.
It is therefore not to be accounted strange, if the present condition of Christianity falls short of those great and magnificent representations contained in the prophecies.
But though these predictions have not yet received their entire completion, yet a great part of them hath been remarkably and illustriously fulfilled.
Thus, though all nations of the earth have not embraced the gospel, which event some prophecies, interpreted literally, promise and declare, yet its progress hath been as wide as its beginnings were small; so that, according to the common way of speaking, we may justly say that
its sound is gone out to the ends of the world, and that it has overspread the earth.
The first partial accomplishment of the prophecies concerning the propagation of the gospel began in the days of the apostles, when multitudes of Jews and Gentiles were converted in Judæa and its neighbourhood, in Greece, in the lesser Asia, in Italy; when amongst them there were some who had been enemies to Christ, and to his church, and some of eminent rank and abilities; when these persons, laying aside their mutual hatred and contempt, their superstitions and idolatries, their vices and debaucheries, lived in peace and friendship, and were illustrious examples of piety and virtue.
Christianity thus established continually increased, and multitudes of believers were added amongst the Egyptians, Assyrians, Arabians, Greeks, Italians, Spaniards, Gauls, and
The second accomplishment began in the days of Constantine, when the Roman emperors became Christian, and the empire by degrees followed their example.
The third began some time after, when many nations which were ignorant, barbarous, and fierce, and might well be described by the prophéts as lions, bears, and wolves, received the gospel, some sooner and some later ; as the Goths, the Vandals, the Germans, the English, the Scots, the Saxons, the Bohemians, the Hungarians, the Poles, the Muscovites, and many other people.
Secondly, the objection that our Saviour should have at present no subjects amongst the Jews, may perhaps be thus removed :
By the ministry of the apostles a great multitude of Jews were converted to the faith, not only at Jerusalem and in Palæstine, but in all those various and remote regions where the twelve tribes were scattered abroad. These Jews retained a great regard for the law", and observed it along wich the gospel for a considerable time; but after the de
Franci, Germani, Alemanni, Saxones, Vandali, Hungari, Bohæmi, Poloni, Gothi, Angli, Frisii, Longobardi, Bulgari, Mosci, &c.
* Many Jews of Crete embraced Christianity in the fifth century. Socrates E. H. vii. 38.
struction of Jerusalem, and the calamities which befel the nation, first under Vespasian, and then under Adrian, these Jewish Christians, partly through disuse of the ceremonial law, and partly through marriages with Christians of Gentile extraction, may be supposed to have been so mixed with them, that they lost all national distinction; which to them was indeed no loss at all, but a desirable thing. Their posterity therefore are now subjects to Christ, though under the common denomination of Christianse.
Thirdly; as to the wars and vices of Christians, these answers may be made:
It is extremely evident that the precepts of Christianity are calculated to promote peace and virtue. Therefore, according to the common style of scripture, the gospel may be said to have brought peace and virtue, because it brought every thing that is necessary to produce them?.
The style of the prophets is poetical, lively, and lofty; and therefore their magnificent descriptions of the happiness and piety which should adorn the reign of the Messias may be restrained, and understood in a sense somewhat lower than the words strictly import.
The doctrines of the gospel have undoubtedly produced at all times good effects in the minds of many Christians, who are peaceable and charitable, and ready to show kindness to all men, in their private capacities, as far as the laws and public interests of their respective kingdoms and societies permit.
Christianity has made an happy alteration in those nations who have embraced it, nor have they that fierceness and barbarity which they had when they were Pagan.
The benefits which Christianity brought to those nations which have received it, are in many respects greater than we usually imagine 8.
e Grotius on Rev. xi. 15. observes, that Christ may be said to rule over the Jews for ever, because 'semper erit in Judæa Christiana religio. Quod verùm fuit primum sub Paganis imperatoribus, multo magis sub Christianis, sed et sub Sarracenis et Turcis in hunc diem.' I take the solution which I have proposed to be more probable ; though I reject not his.
f Vid. Grot. de Jure B. i. ii. 5.8. & See what Eusebius has said upon this subject, Præp. Evang. i. 4.