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upon a throne. Zech. vi. 13. “ Even he shall build the temple of the Lord; and he shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon his throne; and he shall be a priest upon his throne; and the counsel of peace shall be between them both.” In this respect the gospel dispensation differs from the legal, that it reveals the compatibleness of the two offices. One person, Jesus Christ, is Antitype of both kings and priests, under the law; and as it is the will of Christ, who became in all things like unto us, that his disciples should in many things become like unto him, so it is in this among others. As Christ is the Son of God, so those that are Christ's, are the children of God; as Christ is the heir of God, so as Christ liveth, it is his will that they should live also. As Christ rose from the dead, so it is the will of Christ that his saints should rise also. As Christ is in heaven in glory, so it is the will of Christ that they should be with him where he is. So, as Christ is both King and Priest, so shall believers be made kings and priests. What is said in the text, is either with respect to what they now are, or what they shall be hereafter. The apostle says, " ye are a royal priesthood ;" that is, ye have those honours in reversion. Christians are kings here, as a king who is in his minority; who, though the crown is his right, has not yet come actually to reign. They are indeed in an exalted state while here, but not as they will be hereafter. Christians while here are indeed priests, but not as they will be. Christians are called kings and priests here, in this world. Rev. i. 6. “And bath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father.” But in Rev. v. the saints in heaven speak of this as the consequence of their glory and exaltation. Rev. v. 9, 10.
6 And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof; for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation ; and hast made us unto our God kings and priests; that we should reign on the earth."
1. Christians are Kings.
When Christians are called kings, the scriptures include both what they actually have in this world, and what they have in a future state. The reward which our Lord Jesus promised to his disciples, was a kingdom. Luke xxii. 29. “ And I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father bath appointed unto me." Christians, having this promise, are therefore heirs of a kingdom here, which they are hereafter to reccive. James ii. 5. "Hearken, my beloved brethren; hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that lors him pus
The reward of the saints is represented as a kingdom, because the possession of a kingdom is the height of human advancement in this world, and as it is the common opinion that those who have a kingdom have the greatest possible bappiness. The happiness of a kingdom, or royal state, for which it is so much admired by mankind, consists in these things :
First. The honour of a kingdom.
Now with respect to each of these, the happiness of the saints is far greater than that of the kings, and greatest potentates in the world.
First. True Christians will be advanced to honours far above those of earthly kings, they will have a vastly higher dignity than any princes. If these are nobly descended, it is not so great an honour as to be the sons of God; if they are nobly educated, and have their minds formed for government, and have princely qualifications; these qualifications are not so honourable as those with which God endows his saints, whose minds he fills with divine knowledge, and gives them true and perfect holiness. Princes appear honourable from their outward enjoyment of honour and dignity, their royal robes, their stately palaces, and their splendid equipage. But these are not so honourable as those white robes, those inherent ornaments, with which the saints shall appear in heaven, with which they "shall shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father.” What is a king's palace to those mansions in heaven, that Christ prepares for his saints? The honour of the creature consists in likeness and nearness to the Creator in heaven. The saints shall be like him, for they shall see him as he is; they shall be most near to him, shall be admitted to a most intimate fellowship.
Secondly. The saints shall have greater and more extensive possessions than any earthly monarch. One reason for which the state of kings is admired, is their wealth ; they have the most precious things laid up in their treasures. We read of the peculiar treasure of kings. Eccles. ii. 8. "1 gathered me also silver and gold, and the peculiar treasure of kings and of the provinces : I gat me men singers and women singers, and the delights of the sons of men, as musical instruments, and that of all sorts ;” that is, the peculiar treasure of other kings. David conquered and subdued many kings, and spoiled their peculiar treasure, which fell to his son Solomon.
But the precious treasures of kings are not to be compared to those precious things, which Christ will give his saints in another world; the gold tried in the fire that Christ has purchased with
his own blood, those precious jewels, those graces and joys of his Spirit, and that beauty of mind with which he will endow them. Kings' possessions are very extensive, especially were they thus, when kings were generally absolute, and their whole dominions, their subjects and their fortunes, were looked upon as their possessions. But these fall short of the extensive possessions of the saints, who possess all things; they are the heirs of God, and all that is God's is theirs, so far as it can contribute to their happiness. Rev. xxi. 7. “ He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.” 1 Cor. iii. 21, 22. “ Therefore let no man glory in men, for all things are yours; whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours.'
Thirdly. The saints shall also be advanced to the authority of kings. Christ has appointed to them a kingdom, and in that kingdom they shall reign. It is promised concerning the saints that they shall reign. Rev. v. 10. “And hath made us unto our God, kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.” Rev. xxii. 5. “And there shall be no night there: and they need no candle, neither light of the sun, for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever.” It is evident that they shall have a kingdom with respect to rule and government, as appears, Rev. ii. 26, 27. “And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over all nations : and he shall rule them with a rod of iron : as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers ; even as I received of my Father.” But we must see that we rightly understand this. They shall not be appointed by God as sovereigns of the world, without any superior to direct them; neither shall they be properly deputies or viceroys, as king Agrippa and some other kings were the deputies of the Roman emperors ; but they shall reign in fellowship with Christ as joint heirs; they shall reign in the same kingdom with him, and shall have the happiness of having things done according to their will as much as if their own wills. were para mount. Christ wills their will. All things will be disposed in the best manner for them, and to promote their happiness. “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne ; even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne."
The reigning of the saints will consist partly in judging ; for the saints shall judge the world, angels and men with Christ. Matth. xix. 28. “ And Jesus said unto them, verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me in the regeneration, when the Son of man shall sit on the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” 1 Cor. vi. 2, 3. “Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? And if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters ? Know ye not that we shall judge angels ? how much more things that pertain to this life!" How earnestly do men seek a kingdom! What fatigues, what dangers, what bloodshed, will they not encounter! In seeking conversion, you seek a kingdom. You who are poor, you who are children, have opportunity to obtain a kingdom; to advance yourselves to higher dignity, to more substantial honours, to greater possessions, to more precious treasures, to be clothed in robes of richer splendour, and to fill a loftier throne than those enjoyed by the greatest earthly monarchs. It is a Crown that you are to run for, an incorruptible crown, to be given you by the Great King of heaven, and to be worn by you as long as his throne shall endure. What encouragement is here afforded to the saints under afflictions and reproaches; what are they, to the worth and honour of a heavenly kingdom? When you shall have a crown of glory placed on your head, and be seated on Christ's throne, and shine forth as the light, and are seated at his royal banquet, then you will suffer no more for ever ; all trouble, all reproach, shall be driven away ; you will be too high to be reached by the malice of men and devils, and shall soon forget all your sorrows.
2. True Christians are Priests of God. The priesthood under the law was a very honourable and sacred office. Heb. v. 4. “ And no map taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron.” It was on account of this honour that those proud men, Korah and bis company, envied Aaron; and God asserted and vindicated Aaron's right to it, by causing his rod to bud.
It was an honour which, before the giving of the law, when every particular family was wont to offer sacrifices for themselves, that the first-born used to claim, and therefore the birthright was so much esteemed and valued. Therefore Jacob had such a desire of having the birthright of his brother Esau, and Esau's despising of it is spoken of as a great instance of his profaneness. A priest is said to be a chief man among his people. Lev. xxi. 4. “ But he shall not defile himself, being a chief man among his people, to profane himself.” Because the office of the priesthood was so honourable, it is noticed as a wicked contempt of it in several wicked kings, that they made of the meanest of the people priests. The office was so honourable, that a king, Uzziah, coveted the honour of it, and it is mentioned as an instance of his pride that he
2 Chron. xxvi. 16. “But when he was strong, his heart was lifted up to his destruction: for he transgressed against the Lord his God, and went into the temple of the Lord to burn in
the altar of incense.” And it was a very sacred otfice, and that above all other offices, and therefore those things were forbidden the priest that were lawful for all others; such a to be defiled for the dead, or to take to wife one that is put awa; from her husband, and the reason is given, Levit. xxi. 6. “They shall be holy unto their God, and not profane the name of their God, for the offerings of the Lord made by fire, and the bread of their God, they do offer; therefore they shall be holy. They shall not take a wife that is a whore, or profane, neither shall they take a woman put away from her husband; for he is holy unto his God. Thou shalt sanctify him therefore, for he offereth the bread of thy God, he shall be holy unto thee: for I, the Lord, which sanctify you, am holy.”
Jesus Christ is the only proper priest that is to offer sacrifices, and make atonement for sin under the New Testament. He was the priest, of whom all the priests of old were typical. But yet all believers are herein in a measure conformed to their head, and assimilated to him. The priesthood now is no longer confined to one family, to Aaron and his sons, but all the true Israel are priests. Every true Christian hath a work and office that is as sacred as that of the priests was under the law, and every one is advanced to a like honour, and indeed to a greater. But how every true Christian is a priest of God will appear in the following things.
First. Every true Christian is allowed as near an access to God and as free a use of the sacred things as the priests were of old. God under the law dwelt in the tabernacle and temple, that were the symbol of his presence, and those places were holy. The seed of Aaron might go into the holy place to minister before the Lord, but if any other came nigh, he was to be put to death. Nomb. iii. 10. “And thou shalt appoint Aaron and his sons, and they shall wait on their priest's office: and the stranger that cometh nigh, shall be put to death.”
But now all are allowed to come nigh, we are all allowed a free access to God, to come with boldness and confidence. God's people are not kept at such a distance now as they were under the law. The church then was in its minority, and the heir wbile a child, differs nothing from a servant. The servant is not allowed the free access of a child, he is kept more at a distance with fear and dread. Agreeably to the nature of that dispensation, there were not those special discoveries of the grace and love of God that are now made, and which invite rather than forbid near access.
When God was wont to appear to the children of Israel, it was more with terror and manifestations of awful majesty, and not so much with the discoveries of grace as now.
When God appeared