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kingdom" “ of God,” which is yet to come with Christ from heaven, to the earth, at the resurrection of the dead and judgment of the great day.
This appears to be the only way of calling the things of God's kingdom by their right Scripture names, and the only way of literally understanding these foretold, infinite, and everlasting realities. This naturally explains the kingdom of God, as meaning literally “ the kingdom of God," and as composed of a personal and present K ng at the head of the kingdom, which kingdom is made up of all the real subjects of the kingdom of God, composed of glorified spirits and angels who are also personally present with the King in his kingdoin. Thus it is with a human kingdom. And indeed, nothing can constitute a human kingdom short of a king and his subjects together with him in his kingdom.
The position already laid down is now to be established,
1. the position is to be established by the prophecies of DANIEL, parallel to the text.
Our text from Daniel, it will be recollectea, is given in explanation of the “ image" seen by Nebuchadnezzar in his dream; which image is represented as composed of “gold”—“ silver”—“brass,” and“ iron," having its feet of “iron and clay.” The “gold,” “ silver," " brass," a iron, and clay,” are explained by Daniel previous to the text, as representing a succession of “kingdoms," or “kings,” reigning one after another over the whole earth, and thus to continue until the “ stone cut of the mountain without hands,” shall fall upon them and break them all in “ pieces together.” Although various interpretations are now given to this prophecy, by different individuals, it is difficult to explain it by “ the first principles of the oracles of God,” except we understand it as representing and describing the wicked governments of this world, with Satan its god and king at their head, from age to age, combined and arrayed against the government of “the God of heaven” and his people, and thus to continue from Daniel's time to “ the end of the world.” This, of course, would resemble the manner of a succession of human kings to reign over a human kingdom from period to period, till being vanquished and brought to an end by another human kingdom, able thus to conquer and put it down. And thus it certainly is now, with the governments of this world, combined and arrayed against the government of God; and thus they will continue hostilities against the saints, as the Scriptures assure us, until Christ shall vanquish them and " put them “all under his feet," in his promised coming again with his “ever
lasting kingdom” “to judgment.” Now also, according to the prophecies, ihe anti-Christian governments, as “principalities” and * powers," and“ rulers of the darkness of this world,”* with Satan their true king at its head, are making a war with the saints" and overcoming “them,”+ and thus he has been doing from age to age, and thus he will continue to do, “ until the Ancient of days” shall come, and judgment shall be “ given to the people of the saints of the Most High, and the time” shall come “ that the saints” shall possess “the kingdom.”! Then, of course, all these dark powers will be finally conquered and “put” “ under" Christ's “ feet,"'S or, as foretold in the text, they will be broken“ in pieces” and consumed.
“ The stone cut out of the mountain," which is to accomplish this great work, and to become “ a great mountain” to fill the whole earth,"|| is very naturally understood to represent Christ in his second coming, with his “ everlasting kingdom” from heaven “ to judgment,” when, most surely, all the combined powers of earth and hell as kings and kingdoms of wickedness will be destroyed “ together;" when, also, there is to be a "new earth” and “ new heavens," and when Christ and his perfected kingdom will be the “ everlasting kingdom of God,” to fill the whole earth,” (renewed, and to “stand for ever," as in the text. And most surely no event of mere human kings or kingdoms has ever thus literally fulfilled this prophecy, or ever can do it, till literally and actually “ the God of heaven," or Christ, shall come with his glorious kingdom from heaven to earth, when suddenly as in a twinkling he will accomplish the whole “ together."
Although Christ has a people now on earth who are indeed " the children of the kingdom," and "the good seed” thereof, long ago sown in the field, as “ a grain of mustard-seed,” yet to become “the greatest among herbs,” and even “ a tree,” for the lodgment of “ the fowls of heaven,” they are as yet, of course, only “the good seed,” and “children of the kingdom,” which kingdom is finally to be perfected and set up on earth, with the actual coming of the great King from heaven, with his saints and angels, being previously more perfected parts of the kingdom, then to be finished and “ set up." In seeing that no such kingdom of God has yet been “set up” on the earth, we need to recollect that the same prophecy shows rather, that the opposite kingdom now governs, and is to prevail over the whole earth, " wheresoever the children of men dwell, the beasts of the field, and the fowls of the heaven,»** « till the Ancient of days," or " Son of man," shall come “ in his kingdom.”tt
heardren of men awerevail over the that the
• Eph. vi. 12. Dan. vii. 21, 22; Rev. xiii, 7; xvii. 14. $ 1 Cor. xv. 24, 25. i Dan. ii. 34, 35. q Matt. xiii. 37, 38.
H Dan. vii. 22; Matt. xvi. 28; xxiv. 30, 31.
In further perceiving this kingdom as not yet set up, it should be noticed that its opposite is not yet consumed, nor broken“ to pieces," because apparently it was never stronger and more combined than now, and never had a greater number of subjects clothed with flesh and blood, and more rapidly increasing as to earthly power than at this period. It is also foretold of them, or of the wicked, that they will continue to “ do wickedly,” and to “ wax worse and worse,'' as in the “ violence" of the antediluvians, till Christ's final coming with his kingdom,* when they are all to be broken " to pieces together," and consumed. This sudden destruction of God's enemies “ together," or all at once, instead of its being done gradually, shows it as being an event of Christ's coming with his kingdom to judgment, rather than as a long continued preparatory work for that event, as some suppose. It is true that all the necessary preparatory events for the great day are now taking place gradually, or one after another ; but this is very different from the foretold setting up of this kingdom of God, which is to break “ in pieces together all the dark kingdoms of opposition, which are then to be carried “ away” as “ choff” before" the wind," when“ no place" shall be " found for them," and when Christ and his kingdom, or the stone cut out of the mountain, shall become “a great mountain" to fill “ the whole earth.”+
This sudden destruction of “the kingdoms of this world" by “the God of heaven," when coming to " set up's his “ kingdom, harmonizes with other prophecies and descriptions of the same thing, which represent its being done suddenly, I swiftly,ß “ as a thief in the night,''|| " as the lightning,"T“ in a moment," in " a twinkling," &c.** This understanding of the kingdom to be “ set up," leaves it plain and easy to be understood, even by the weakest and most unlearned of the saints who are indeed submissive to the teachings of God's Spirit, and who love Christ's appearing and kingdom to come. It also strengthens and comforts all classes of the faithful, and is terrible, awakening, and converting to the careless, and profitable instruction to all classes thus understanding it. But to explain the setting “up” of this kingdom of God, as figuratively representing “ the Christian church” long ago set up, and now gradually accomplishing its work of breaking“ in pieces” its opposing powers, renders the whole subject dark at once, and incomprehensible, even to the most careful searcher for truth. Such an explanation also greatly weakens the hands and discourages the hearts of the spiritually minded ; while it naturally strengthens “the hands of evil doers," by prophesying unto them“ smooth things," and saying unto them,“ peace, peace, when there is no peace." In
seeing that such are the real natural consequences of these different explanations of the kingdom to be “ set up,” we shall do well to look at the saints, once strong in faith, and full of the consolations of the spirit of Christ, with wonderful success in the conversion of souls, during the primitive ages, when the doctrine taught of God's kingdom to come, was only of his “ everlasting kingdom," coming to judgment. And let us look also at the state of the church and the world now, when quite generally they understand these prophecies of God's kingdom as already fulfilled in the main, in the rise and fall of human kingdoms, and also in the setting up of the gospel dispensation and Christian church. Let us also behold the comparative present Egyptian darkness of the church on these prophecies, closely connected with the numerous conflicting explanations of such prophecies, given by their most popular teachers. And see the church now comparatively shorn of her strength, and deprived of her spiritual consolations. See her turned away from the hope of the kingdoin to “ come on earth,” to the pursuit of joys or hopes to be realized in this world without, or before the coming of any such kingdom. See also the wicked now, strong in their combinations against God and his holy government, or against Christ and his cause ;-see them flattered and comforted in hearing these prophecies of the kingdom to be “set up,” and to “come,” explained as prophecies long ago fulfilled in mere human or temporary affairs, instead of hearing them explained as formerly understood, and as foretelling and describing their own terrible " everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his power," when he shall come “ with his mighty angels in flaming fire, taking vengeance on" them, at the real foretold setting “up of his kingdom “ on earth."*
Further, as the prophet Daniel continues unfolding the same things of the coming kingdom of God, he tells of seeing in his vision “four great beasts;" and explains them as representing “kings" and “ kingdoms” of opposition to God, and as prevailing one after another against the saints on earth, from age to age, “ till the Ancient of days did [or shall] sit,” when“ a fiery stream issued and came forth from before him," when “ thousand thousands ministered unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him, the judgment was set, and the books were opened,” and when literally the last great “ beast” of wickedness, or combination of all the powers of darkness, of wicked men and devils, will be finally “ slain," and their whole vast congregation or body will be “ destroyed and given to the burning flame.”+
Although it is now common to understand all this as a prophecy of human or temporary affairs already fulfilled or nearly so, it certainly appears to be doing great violence to both the spirit and
• 2 Thess. i. 7,8. Dan. vii. 1-11, 17, 18.
letter of God's word to understand it as any thing less than what it literally declares. In literally understanding it, it is most palpably a prophecy of the day of “judgment,” in the coming of “the Lörd himself;" with his whole kingdom from heaven, to be then set up on earth; when all his combined enemies as a “beast" of wickedness, will be destroyed and given to the burning flame,” or "fiery stream," the same as going “ away into everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels."*
In the same connexion, Daniel repeats these prophecies of the coming kingdom of God and its opposing powers, and in every instance of foretelling the power and hostilities of the “beasts," * kings,” and “ horns," which are apparently the same dark powers, he suddenly predicts their overthrow or conquest by the saints, saying in the same sentence“ But the saints of the Most High shall take the kingdom and possess the kingdom for ever, even for ever and ever.”+ This certainly must be literally understood, because as yet the wicked powers below, with “ Satan,” “the god of this world,” at their head, are in full possession of this whole earth, and will retain it till Christ shall come “ with great power and glory” in his kingdom to be then “ set up.” Then, of course, will the saints come from the four winds to “ sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of God, but the children of the [dark] kingdom [who possess the earth till then] shall be cast out.” Then the elect, or all the saints of the promise, will “inherit the new earth,” or “ kingdom prepared for them " from the
foundation of the world.” Then the earth, renovated, cleansed, and restored to the saints, as the kingdom of God, is represented as being a more blessed and glorious habitation than before the
Again the prophet says in the connexion—" I beheld, and the same horn (or dark power] made war with the saints and prevailed against them until the Ancient of days (or the Lord] came, and judgment was given to the saints, and the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom.”'S And again he says, “ But the judgment shall sit, and they shall take away his dominion to consume and to destroy unto the end, and the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him.”'
Surely nothing could be plainer than that the prophet here means literally what he says, in foretelling the coming of “the Ancient of days," or Christ, at the setting of the judgment, in the utter destruction of the great “beast" of wickedness, or powers combined
ll Dan. vü. 26, 27.
Dan. vii. 21, 22.