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SERMON XVII.

Sanctity the Token of the Christian Empire.

With righteousness shall He judge the poor, and reprove with equity

for the meek of the earth ; and He shall smite the earth with the rod of His mouth, and with the breath of His lips shall He slay the wicked.—Isa. xi, 4.

WHEN Christ visited His Church in the flesh, He

left it what it was, yet made it what it was not; He left it a Church, and He made it a kingdom. He made it a kingdom or empire, like those four ungodly kingdoms which Daniel saw in vision, to which His Church was successively subjected, and to which His own kingdom succeeded. But though it was as really a kingdom as it was a Church; yet, as it differed from its former state under the Law, though still a Church, so, though a kingdom, it differed in some essential respects from those heathen kingdoms to which the Prophet compares it.

What this great difference is, the text expresses. Kingdoms of this world are supported by weapons of this world; but Christ's kingdom, though a visible temporal kingdom, is in this world, but not of this

world, and is maintained by weapons, not carnal, but heavenly. “With righteousness," says the Prophet, speaking of His rule, "and with equity;" "with the rod of His mouth,” by preaching and teaching, by exhortation and confession; and “with the breath of His lips," by judgment and sentence, by denunciation and anathema.

As then it may in many ways be shown that the Church of Christ, though one Church with the Jewish, differs from it as being a kingdom; so now let me dwell on this point, that though a kingdom like empires of the earth, it differs from them in being a Church, i.e. a kingdom of truth and righteousness.

Few words are necessary to show that it is thus described in Scripture; but some explanation may be necessary, in order to reconcile the description with its fulfilment.

First, then, as to Scripture. Our Lord, we know, calls it not only a kingdom, but a kingdom of heaven ; or, as He says elsewhere, “My kingdom is not of this world.” Now the Prophets comment largely by anticipation on this title, and show what it implies. For instance, the work is attributed to Almighty God, not to man.

“Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts!.” Again, “Thou sawest,” says Daniel to Nebuchadnezzar, “till that a stone was cut out without hands, which smote the image upon his feet.” Again, “ The word that goeth forth out of My mouth . . shall not return unto Me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it i Zech. iv. 6.

9 Dan. ii, 34.

shall

prosper in the thing whereto I sent it:' Again, we read of “the Spirit being poured upon us from on high, and the wilderness being a fruitful field, and the fruitful field being counted for a forest." Again,“ So shall they fear the Name of the Lord from the west, and His glory from the rising of the sun : when the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him.” And again, “I will pour My Spirit upon thy seed, and My blessing upon thine offspring; and they shall spring up as among the grass, as willows by the water-courses. One shall say, I am the Lord's, and another shall call himself by the name of Jacob."

Thus the empire was to be of a moral nature; and this is further seen by such words as “law," "light,” and "righteousness,” which are used in describing its progress. “Out of Zion shall go forth the Law and the Word of the Lord from Jerusalem 6." Again, “A Law shall proceed from Me, and I will make My judgment to rest for a light of the people.” And again, “For Zion's sake will I not hold My peace, and for Jerusalem's sake I will not rest, until the righteousness thereof go forth as brightness, and the salvation thereof as a lamp that burneth?.” And all such passages as the text, which speak of righteousness, equity, truth, and wisdom, being the attributes of the kingdom; or as the words in the Psalm, “Ride on because of the word of truth, of meekness, and righteousness.'

3 Isa. xxxii, 15.

* Isa. lv. 11.

Isa. xliv. 348. • Isa. li.

Isa. lix. 19.
6 Isa. ii. 3.
7 Isa. lxii. 1.

.

The same thing is shown by such descriptions of the heavenly kingdom as speak of its rise as a creation; implying thereby that it was an inward change resulting from moral influence, or the like cause, not an outward conquest. "I will say to the north, Give up; and to the south, Keep not back: bring My sons from far, and My daughters from the ends of the earth; even every one that is called by My Name; for I have created him for My glory, I have formed him: yea, I have made him. Bring forth the blind people that have eyes, and the deaf that have ears." Again, “ Behold, I will do a new thing.

I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.

This people have I formed for Myself; they shall show forth My praise'."

And to the same purport are such passages as speak of the subjugation of the nations to Christ's kingdom being voluntary on their part. It is a conquest by persuasion, a winning over, not a tyrannous compulsion. “Many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and He will teach us of His ways, and we will walk in His paths!!" And in the Prophet Zechariah, “There shall come people, and the inhabitants of many cities: and the inhabitants of one city shall go to another, saying, Let us go speedily to pray before the Lord, and to seek the Lord of hosts : I will go also. Yea, many people and strong nations shall come to seek the Lord of hosts in Jerusalem, and to pray before the Lord. Thus saith the Lord of hosts ; 1 Isa. xliii. 6–8. 19-21.

9 Isa. ü. 3.

In those days ten men shall take hold out of all languages of the nations, even shall take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew, saying, We will go with you: for we have heard that God is with you."

That Scripture then speaks of the Kingdom of Christ as not an earthly kingdom, not supported by strength of arm, or force of mind, or any other faculty or gift of the natural man, is plain. But now let us consider some objections to which the circumstances of its actual history and condition give rise.

1. And first, it may be said that the event has not fulfilled the prophecies, in this very respect in which I have been speaking of them; that the kingdom has indeed been large and powerful, but it has not ruled according to justice and truth; that at times it has had very wicked men among its rulers, and that great corruptions, religious and moral, have been found in it; and that, as has sometimes been said, worse crimes have been perpetrated under colour of religion than in any other way. But this may be granted in the argument, and yet the Scripture account of the Church remain uncompromised. That there have been things that offend, and those that commit iniquity, in Christ's kingdom, in great abundance, is true indeed; but of this we are forewarned in Scripture itself. “The kingdom of heaven," says our Lord, "is like unto a net that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind." Nor does the one truth interfere with the other. It is true there have been "many called and few chosen " in this kingdom; yet it is true also, that it is a kingdom i Zech. viii. 20—23.

* Matt. xiii. 47. [8. D.]

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