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of stumbling-blocks, and the poor blind graceless world are thereby taught to despise the means of grace. It must needs be fearful opposition to the kingdom of Christ, that is thus written in the blood of perishing souls.
USE II. Of trial. Try by this whether ye be of the family of God or not. Have ye a kindly concern for the coming of his kingdom? Do your hearts say within you, Thy kingdom come? If it be not so, God is not your Father; but if so, he is. How shall that kindly concern be known? If it be of the right sort,
1. It will be a judicious deliberate concern, on a fair view of the nature of the kingdom, Matth. xiii. 45, 46. Many have a concern for the kingdom of Christ, who indeed know not what it is. The Jews had a mighty zeal for it, upon a mistake: and when it came to them, not answering the notion they had formed of it, they opposed it with all their might. But if ye be concerned for it, on a right view of it from the Lord's word, as a kingdom of true holiness, it is well.
2. An universal concern for it, for the kingdom of power, the gospel, grace, and glory. Ye will be concerned that God would exercise his power, for the advancing of the gos pel; that the gospel may have its due effect on yourselves and others; that Christ may sway his sceptre in your hearts; and that holiness may be perfected in glory.You will not only be concerned for the kingdom without you, but for the kingdom within you; not for the kingdom within you only, but without you too.
3. An active concern for it, not in wishing and woulding only, but putting to your hand to get it forward, 1 Cor. iv. 20. For the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power; And this ye will do, as ye have access in the world, and particularly in your own hearts and lives. It will set you to keep up a constant war with the enemies, the devil, the world, and your own lusts.
4. Lastly, A superlative concern for it, mastering and swallowing up all other concerns. You will say as the captives in Babylon did, If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth; if I prefer not Jerusalem above my chief joy, Psal. cxxxvii. 6. For if ye belong to God, your chief interest is in that kingdom; and where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
USE III. and last, Of exhortation. I exhort you to join issue this day with Zion's King, to have common friends and enemies with him, come what will. Set yourselves against the kingdom of sin and Satan in the world and your own hearts; Psal. ii. ult. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little.' And do ye exert heart and hand, that his kingdom may come. In this matter ye cannot be neutral: For he that is not with me,' says Christ, is against me; and he that gathereth not with me, scattereth abroad,' Matth. xii. 30. Therefore, if ye be not with heart and hand set for the advancement of this kingdom, I declare you enemies to it. Come then,
First, Be concerned that the kingdom of God's power may come; that he may stretch out his almighty arm, and gain ground to himself in the world.
1. It is an universal kingdom. All is in his hand. He can reach to the ends of the earth. It extends over all persons and things; and he can make all things subserve his purposes. He can display his glorious arm in bringing in shoals of volunteers into the kingdom of grace, and utterly root out all the legions of hell that are in combination against him.
2. It is an uncontroulable kingdom. None can resist him more than the clay can resist the potter, Dan. iv. 35. 'He doth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What dost thou?' He will work, and who can let it? It is in vain to contend with this almighty Sovereign; for he can easily conquer all his enemies, as easily as he caused the Red Sea swallow up Pharaoh and all his host. He can baffle all the machinations and plots of his adversaries, disconcert their best-laid projects, and make them retreat with shame and confusion. These are great encouragements for this concern.
Secondly, Be concerned that the kingdom of the gospel may come. For motives, consider,
1. That it is not an universal kingdom, but a narrow one, and that it is to be enlarged. For Christ has declared, 'that this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world, for a witness unto all nations, Matth. xxiv. 14. Though now this kingdom be confined within narrow bounds,
yet it shall, according to Christ's promise, have a more diffusive spread; and the time will come when the Jews shall be brought in with the fulness of the Gentiles, and the kingdoms of this world shall become the kingdoms of the Lord, and of his Christ.
2. It is a moveable kingdom. It may be taken from them that have it. Christ may remove his throne, as he did from the Jews, Matth. xxi. 43. and as he has done in many once famous churches. Where are now the seven churches in the Lesser Asia? and where are many of those churches that were planted by the apostle of the Gentiles? Alas! their candlestick has been long ago removed out of its place, and the delusions of Mahomet prevail in those places where once the pure doctrines of the gospel were preached. Though Christ will always have a church on earth, yet it is confined to no particular country or place. And therefore, we in this land should earnestly pray, that the kingdom of the gospel may come more illustriously among us, and that it may continue with us to the end of time, that we may still see many days of the Son of man, and that the candle of gospel-light may ever shine brightly among us. These considerations should influence us always to pray, that Christ's gospel-kingdom may come among us, and be spread through the world. Thirdly, Be concerned, that the kingdom of grace may come. Consider,
1. It is a kingdom that easily gets a back-set, Cant. ii. 15, It may be thriving in a soul this moment, and the next going to decay. There is need of much faith and watchfulness for preserving and maintaining it. A multitude of formidable foes are still opposing it, and all the subjects of it have no power to resist them. They must look to their CaptainGeneral, and be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. It is only through him that they can do valiantly; for it is he alone who treads down their enemies under their feet. And through him they shall be more than conquerors. Trust ye then in the Lord for ever; for with the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength. Be sober, then, and watch unto prayer, lest ye fall into temptation. Cry unto your King, for he will save you, and gradually overcome all your
2. Yet this is a kingdom that can never be overturned, never removed, Heb. xii. 8. It is a spark of fire in the midst
of an ocean, that can never be quite drowned or extinguish ed. The bruised reed shall not be broken, and the smoking flax shall never be quenched. All the combinations of adversaries, however formidable, shall never overturn this kingdom; for the gates of hell shall never prevail against it. It is built on the Rock Christ, and all the surges and waves of the dragon's flood shall never overturn the edifice. The name of this city is, The Lord is there.' Of this king. dom of grace, it may well be said, Associate yourselves, Q ye people, and ye shall be broken in pieces; and give ear, all ye of far countries: gird yourselves, and ye shall be broken in pieces. Take counsel together, and it shall come to nought; speak the word, and it shall not stand: for God is with us,' Isa. viii. 9, 10, These are powerful considerations for inducing you to a hearty concern for the coming of this kingdom of grace.
Fourthly, Be concerned that the kingdom of glory may come. Consider,
1. Sin and trouble will have an end put to them there. The stage of sin and vanity will then be put down for ever, and none of the scenes that have so much vexed the righte ous here, will ever be exhibited again. All corruptions, temptations, and backslidings from God, will then come to a final period. All bodily trouble and spiritual distress shall cease, and never more be heard of.
2. Grace and happiness will then arrive at their full perfection. The mystery of God will then be finished. Then will God's kingdom of power, of the gospel, and of grace, fully obtain their end; and all the subjects of Christ shall be completely blessed in the full enjoyment of him for evermore. Let us all then say, Let the kingdom of glory be hastened. Amen.
THE THIRD PETITION.
MATTH. vi. 10.-Thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven.
HIS third petition relates to the will of God, the doing of which is desired by all the children of God. And
as by the coming of his kingdom his name is hallowed, so by doing of his will his kingdom comes, or is advanced, and we own him to be our King, Heb. xiii. 21. So all these three petitions meet in one great desirable point, viz. the glory of God. This is the scope of them all.
Observe here, by the by, that we are directed to speak to God in prayer as to one. Hallowed be thy name, not your name: Thy will be done, not your will. Wherefore, then, should any forsake such a form of sound words, for such a harsh one, as speaks to God by ye and your, your Majesty, ye know all things, &c.? I will not insist on what may be said to defend it, from the plurality of persons in the Godhead, the manner of speaking to kings, and from common conversation, (those who use it, I suppose, doing it rather from custom than judgment). But it is not the scriptureway of speaking to God; it is not the way of this pattern of prayer; it is offensive to, and grating in the ears of the most part of Christians, as savouring of the opinion of the plurality of Gods, and therefore ought to be forsaken. I may well say in this case, But if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the churches of God,' 1 Cor. xi. 16.
In discoursing froin this petition, I shall shew,
I. What is meant by the will of God.
II. By whom is God's will done in heaven.
III. What is the import of this petition.
IV. The reasons why the saints have such a concern, that the will of God may de done in earth as it is in heaven.
I. I am to shew, what is meant by the will of God. By it we are to understand the will of his commands, and the will of his providence.
First, The will of God's commands, Heb. xiii. 21. 'Make you perfect in every good work to do his will.' Matth. vii. 21. He that doth the will of my Father which is in heaven.' His is the kingdom over all creatures; he sits on the throne of his power, and gives out his will to all the rational world, which they are bound to obey, as the King's will, and laws of his kingdom, determining what they ought to do, and what to forbear. The church has that will of the King in all