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against the Almighty, and when, of course, the saints in the resurrection of the dead are to receive their promised " inheritance” of “the kingdom of heaven," and to reign with Christ for ever, over all the foretold conquered “ dominions," which, till then, shall be « under the whole heaven." All this prophecy in the 7th chapter of Daniel is most clearly the setting up of the kingdom of God, the same as in the text, and in its connexion of the 2d chapter already examined. Much more the prophet Daniel foretels, with equal clearness, of the setting up of the kingdom of God on earth, at the coming again of the Lord, at the resurrection of the dead, and judgment to come; but the passages presented are ample specimens of the prophecy in general on the subject.
II. It is to be shown from the preaching of Christ that the foretold setting “ up” and coming of God's “ kingdom” on earth” are the same prophecy, and yet to be fulfilled at the second coming of Christ, resurrection of the dead, and judgment of the great day.
The very text, as it were, or words with which Christ commenced his public preaching, is understood as sustaining this position, as it is recorded —" From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."* And thus he instructed his ministers to preach the saine gospel,-" These twelve Jesus sent forth, and cominanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans, enter ye not. But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand,”+ &c. Though it has been common to understand these and other parallel instructions of Christ, concerning God's kingdom, as foretelling only the gospel dispensation and Christian church, which were then at hand, it is most clear on examination, that Christ's repeated discourses on his first text, or grand subject, show, that he was preaching the literal great things of God's everlasting heavenly kingdom to come on earth, rather than of a momentary dispensation of this world. In all his preaching, he never uttered a syllable showing his meaning to be that of a worldly or temporary dispensation, as he naturally would, had that been his meaning. Neither did one of his hearers ever appear to understand him as foretelling such a dispensation, calling it “the kingdom of God.” More than this, the common sense even of a child naturally understands the phrase, “ the kingdom of heaven,” or “ kingdom of God,” to mean nothing less than literally the “ everlasting,” glorious, and “heavenly kingdom of God;" and it certainly must be a wonderful stretch of the principles of interpreting infinite and eternal realities, to make them mean, not what they literally express, but rather what we worms of the dust may like better, though it be something infinitely less, and comparatively trifling in its importance.
* Matt. iv. 17.
Matt. x. 5–7.
But in seeing more positively that Christ, in preaching the coming kingdom of God at hand, meant precisely what he said, and spoke of nothing else than God's one glorious heavenly kingdom to come, we must recollect how he illustrated and carried out this text, “ The kingdom of heaven is at hand,” in his constantly, as it were, preaching upon it. In such preaching how much he dwells upon his own coming again, in expressions like these “I will come again, and receive you unto myself, that where I am, there ye may be also.” “I will not leave you comfortless, I will come unto you.” “ If any man love me he will keep my words, and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make OUR abode with him.”* These promises of Christ's coming again can be all literally fulfilled at his foretold coming to every one of his saints, soul and body, with his kingdom to be “set up” on earth, at the resurrection and judgment to come, and surely not before.
So Christ, in carrying out his text of the kingdoin to come, and at hand, says: “ And they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory; and he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet ; und they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.”+ This is most palpably of Christ's own coming to judgment personally, and“ with great power and glory," and with his heavenly everlasting kingdom, just as sure as his own personal presence with “ the clouds of heaven," can constitute bis kingdom, or God's kingdom, which is here explained to mean “his angels” and “his elect," then gathered from their scattered abodes of the universe, to come on earth, the “new earth," then to be created, in which the saints are to “be glad and rejoice for ever,” without any“ more the voice of weeping,” or “the voice of crying.”
In farther illustrating the same text or prophecy of the kingdom at hand, Christ says: “When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory, and before him shall be gathered all nations; and he shall separate them one from another, as u shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats; and he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the
foundation of the world. Then shall he say also unto them on his left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire. prepared for the devil and his angels.”'S
* John xiv. 3 ; xviii. 23. † Matt. xxiv. 30, 31. Isa. Ixv. 17-19; 2 Pet. iii. 12 13; Rev. xxi, 1–5. Matt. xxv. 31-34, 41.
As this is allowed to be Christ's preaching his own “ coming." again,“ in his glory," having God's heavenly kingdom with him, to execute“ everlasting” judgment upon “all” the then “gathered nations," when for ever his kingdom will be “set up” on earth, so it is only in illustration of his introductory text, or short sermon with which he began preaching, “ Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” All of which is striking proof that Jesus never preached the “gospel dispensation” at hand, calling that God's kingdom; but that he uniformly preached the kingdom of heaven literally, and meaning to be so understood. And most surely he was so understood by both saints and sinners in all cases, till the falling a way of the 3d and 4th centuries. That is was so understood by the apostles and their successors, we may all see, by observing their preaching cfter the gospel dispensation was set up, as it is called. They never began to preach the kingdom of God, nor the gospel dispensation ulready “come,” or “set up” on the earth, as an awakening consideration for sinners to repent immediately in preparing, but they always rather kept in view “the terrors of the Lord” in persuading men, i. e. they preached the things of God's coming kingdom, such as “the resursection of the dead," which“ almost” persuaded king Agrippa “to be a Christian,” and the “judgment to come,” at which “ Felix trembled." There has never been, and never will be, any such trembling as this, at the preaching of the gospel Cispensation coming, or come.
John, who wrote his gospel, as allowed, more than sixty years after Christ, or after the Christian church began, wrote only as Christ preached on all things pertaining to his kingdom and its coming, and as though none of Christ's prophecies concerning its coming had then been fulfilled. But had such important prophecies of Christ been then fulfilled, John should have boldly urged their fulfilment as an additional testimony of the truth of Christianity.
The manner of prayer also which Christ taught, since called the Lord's prayer, shows very clearly, that by the kingdom of God at hand, which he always preached, he meant not the gospel dispensation, but the very kingdom of God, which is coming at the judgment. Thus he has taught us all to “ say,” when we "pray” to God," Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, in earth, as it is in heaven.”* In understanding this as a prayer for the coming and setting up of God's everlasting heavenly kingdom on earth, we have only to understand it literally, and to mean neither less nor more than the words most plainly express. And to understand it so, we have only to recollect that God has no kingdom but one, which is heavenly, everlasting, and glorious, ever to come on earth, or to exist elsewhere. And when as the “ New Jerusalem” it shall “ come down,” as foretold, “ from God out of heaven," then as a heavenly kingdom, it can be “set up” literally, and “ stand for ever” on the earth, which is then to be a “ new earth."*
*Matt, vi. 10.
This prayer for the kingdom of God to come on earth, is further explained by the other petition immediately following it, to be none other than a prayer for its coming to be set up at ibe day of judgment. The next clause is, “ Thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven.” This shows that when God's heavenly kingdom shall literally “ come," or be “ set up” on earth, then all the inhabitants of earth, without exception, must, of course, do his will, precisely, or perfectly, universally, and unceasingly as it is done now in heaven by its immortal and glorious inhabitants. But most assuredly this is not to take place on earth, so long as it shall remain under its present “ curse,” for the sake of fallen man; so long as it shall remain uncleansed as this old earth, or so long as Satan, sin, or sinners shall have any possible connexion with it. But when Christ, with the whole kingdom of God from heaven, shall really come on earth, suddenly “ as the lightning," which kingdom is then to be literally " set up” and “stand for ever," then inderd, and not before, is the will of the Lord to “be done on earth as it is in heaven," now. The gospel dispensation, we see, now as already tried for 1800 years, never has prepared the earth, and never will, for a universal heavenly obedience of its inhabitants to the Lord, such as will be rendered to him at his now soon expected coming again, with his kingdom to judgment.
The catechism of the Westminster Assembly, composed about 200 years ago, and which has long been the principal platform of Scripture doctrine of the Presbyterian and Congregational churches, thus explains this coming of God's kingdom prayed for in the Lord's prayer. They say—“In the second petition, which is,' Thy KINGDOM COME,' we pray that Satan's kingdom may be destroyed, the kingdom of grace advanced, ourselves and others brought into it, and kept in it, and that the kingdom of glory may be hastened.” Of course, though we are to pray for the appointed means to be used and God's blessing on them, that assembly would have us always use the Lord's prayer, or this petition in it, sincerely as a prayer for the actual hastening of “the kingdom of glory,” and “that Satan's kingdom may be destroyed,” by the hastening of the kingdom of God on earth which alone can destroy it. The same platform also maintains that “ Christ's” “ exaltation,” so far as relates to his coming again, “ consisteth in his coming to judge the world at the last day." The Episcopal, Reformed Dutch, Baptist, Methodist, Lutheran, Roman Catholic, and other denominations, so far as known to have published their views on Christ's return to earth, or of God's kingdom to come, have published views only similar to
• Rev. xxi. 1, 2.
those vindicated in these remarks, as may be seen by an examination and literal construction of their several creeds, to be found touching the subject. The 37th Art. of the Reformed Dutch church is more copious, explicit, and Scriptural on the subject of the judgment, coming of the Lord, resurrection, &c., than any one yet found, from which I find no occasion to dissent in any important particular, while giving it a natural, literal construction.
There is another list of passages where Christ speaks of the kingdom of God, particularly in his showing the impossibility of the “rich," the unconverted, and the sinner's entering into it; but as all these classes of men are now in the gospel dispensation, and frequently in the Christian church too, it is plain that God's kingdom, in such passages, must be literally understood, into which no sinner unconverted can ever enter.
In a few instances, Christ has spoken of God's kingdom in such a connexion as to render it very positive in some minds, that he meant by it only the spirit or grace of the Lord, who is the king in the heart. And if not mistaken, the supposed most palpable passage of this kind is the following : “ For, behold, the kingdom of God is within you."* But as the connexion of this passage shows that it was addressed personally and only to“ the Pharisees," whom, on another occasion, he denounced as of their “ father the devil,” it is difficult to understand Christ as telling them that either the kingdom, or any of the spirit of its King, was in their hearts. But on taking the other translation of the passage given in the marginal readings by our worthy translators, viz. : “ The kingdom of God is among you ;" the whole connexion then very naturally allows its being explained as in case of other parallel passages of God's kingdom yet to come, sudden" as the lightning” upon earth, “among" or in the midst of the multitudes of the ungodly, Pharisees, and all wicked ones, to destroy and consume them utterly from the earth, that this promised blessed kingdom may be literally set up on earth, and stand for ever. For thus it unavoidably will be at the repeatedly foretold coming of Christ and his kingdom to the earth, at the glorious "regeneration” of “ all things" then to take place.
III. It is to be shown from the apostles, that the oft foretold “ kingdom of God” to “come," and to be “set up" on earth, is none other than his glorious heavenly kingdom to accompany Christ in his personal second coming to judgment.
Just as Christ instructed his ministers to preach the coming kingdom of God, as he did it himself, we find Peter in his first discourse after the ascension, on the day of pentecost, preaching and enforc