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for themselves; yet it will not let them read it in a plain way, lest they read it like the saints of former ages ---lest they become too catholic and primitive; but it interposes with its own officious note and comment, to fix upon it a strained figurative meaning.
The Christian Church an Imperial Power.
And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the
Lord's house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shail flow unto it." -ISA. ii. 2.
WHEN Christ came and took possession of His own
House, it could not be but that some great changes would take place in its economy, and its condition. And such there were; it was exalted and established above all earthly power, and became a refuge and home for all nations. It remained what it had been before, a Church, in its inward and characteristic structure the same; but it became what it had never been before, or only in a partial measure in the time of David and some other princes, and that in type of what was to come, it became an imperial Church. It was the head of an empire.
And hence so much stress is laid upon its being a kingdom, and Christ a King. It was a prophecy even among the heathen at the time of His coming, that they who were to rule the world were to issue from Judæa. Much more had Micah, with the voice of inspiration,
said of Bethlehem, “ Though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall He come forth unto Me, that is to be ruler in Israel.” And Daniel
one like the Son of man,” “ brought near before" the Ancient of days," and there was given Him dominion and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve Him." And the patriarch Jacob, long before them, had said, “The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come, and unto Him shall the gathering of the people be.” Well, then, might His own brethren rejoice and shout for joy, and sing Hosanna, when their King came unto them, “just and having salvation, lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass.” And for Him, His first and last words were about His kingdom, or empire, as we now speak. For He began His ministry with the words, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." And before He ascended, He committed the work to His disciples, “ being seen of them forty days," says St. Luke, “and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God."
1. When He was ascending, He said, “ All power is given unto Me in heaven, and in earth.” We believe in His powe.: in heaven, but, strange to say, it is usual with us to grudge Him His power upon earth. We believe that He exercises His powerful intercession with the Father in heaven; but we seem to think that the Mediator has no earthly kingdom. As God indeed, of course, we accord Him a rule upon earth; but that rule He had from the time He created land and sea, and all things therein. But on His resurrection as Mediator, a kingdom was given unto Him; do we believe that He has a kingdom? We know what is meant by a kingdom. It means a body politic, bound together by common laws, ruled by one head, holding intercourse part with part, acting together. We know what is meant by the kingdom of Chaldea, or of Persia, or of Rome, which the Prophet Daniel mentions; do we believe that Christ now has a kingdom, as those earthly powers once had ? “Yes ;" we reply, “He has a kingdom; it is an invisible kingdom.” An invisible kingdom on earth? what is meant by an invisible kingdom? A kingdom is an organized body : do we mean then a secret society? no; what we really mean by the words is, that He has no earthly kingdom at all. We admit a truth and explain
1 Micah v. 2.
2 Dan, vii. 13, 14,
3 Gen. xlix. 10.
We explain away His words into a mere metaphor, as when we speak of the animal kingdom, or the vegetable kingdom. When we say that Christ has an invisible kingdom, we mean, I suppose, that He has servants on earth, and gives them laws; that He interposes in the world's history, and punishes the guilty; but all this surely He did before He came in the flesh; and all this surely does not come up to the idea, does not answer to the name, of kingdom. It is as unmeaning to speak of an invisible kingdom on earth, as of invisible chariots and horsemen, invisible swords and spears, invisible palaces : to be a kingdom at all it must be visible, if the word has any true meaning.
But it may be said, that Christ Himself, the King, is
invisible, and therefore His kingdom may well be invisible also. It is true, He is the invisible King of a visible kingdom; for it does not at all follow, because a monarch is withdrawn from view, that therefore His kingdom must cease to be a fact in the face of day also. It is seldom that the monarch of any kingdom is seen, and then not by many, except on certain occasions. Kings are within their palaces, yet their power is in the public world. It is seldom they rule by themselves; they rule by instruments. Such is Christ's mode of governing ; He is away; He has not resigned His rule; He does not simply abandon it to His servants : but still He rules through His appointed servants, and has committed His subjects to them. He resembles earthly sovereigns, not only in having a kingdom, but in His mode of governing it.
Now this description of Christ's kingdom is what He gives us of it Himself. “ The kingdom of heaven," He says, “is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods. And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one!." Another parable, spoken in warning, represents the officers of the kingdom under the image of a steward : “Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his lord shall make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of meat in due season ? .... If that servant say in his heart, My Lord delayeth His coming, and shall begin to beat the menservants and maidens, and to eat and drink, and to be drunken, the Lord of that servant will come in a day
I Matt. xxv. 14, 15.