« PreviousContinue »
to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence. (John, xviii. 36.)
These words have been so interpreted, as if they imported a general and perpetual renunciation for Christ himself, and for his church, of all connection with the civil authority of this world. But it cannot, surely, be our Lord's intention, that none of the princes of the earth should ever become his disciples; or that, if any of them were admitted into his church, they must be released from the general obligations of the Gospel, to promote the edification of the mystical body.
The passage has evidently a limited and temporary meaning, Now is my kingdom not from hence; and it clearly refers to the period of our Lord's humiliation-to a season in which another power prevailed, who declares, in reference to the glory of all the kingdoms of the world, that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will, I give it. (Luke, iv. 6.)
To the agents of this potentate our Lord declares, This is your HOUR, and the power of darkness. (Luke, xxii. 53.) Of the same power he says to his disciples-The prince
of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me. (John, xiv. 30.) Whilst this prince governed the world, well might the Son of
God say-Now is my kingdom not from hence.
But the prince of darkness was to be vanquished, his kingdom was to be overthrown, and Christ was to be his immediate successor. Consequently, when he is about to engage in the awful conflict, having the glorious victory full in view, he triumphantly exclaims-Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out! (John, xii. 31.)
Accordingly, after he had, by his death and resurrection, cast out the usurper, and overthrown his dominion, he proclaims his own lawful authority-ALL POWER IS GIVEN TO ME IN HEAVEN, AND IN EARTH: go ye, therefore, and make disciples of all nations. (Matt. xxviii. 18, 19.)
Thus, before the passion of Christ, his kingdom is not of this world; but after his victorious resurrection, all power in heaven and in earth is given to him. The former clause refers to his humiliation; the latter, to his glorification. From henceforth his
disciples acknowledge him, as the blessed and only potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords. (1 Tim. vi. 15.)
And, notwithstanding his kingdom was not to appear at first in its full splendour; notwithstanding the partizans of the vanquished adversary were for a long time to support with obstinacy the desperate cause of their master; yet Isaiah has declared that the Messiah's reign shall advance in
glory: Of the INCREASE of his government
and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it and to establish it, with judgment and with justice, from henceforth, even for ever. (Isaiah, ix. 7.) And St. John prophetically foresaw the triumphant age of the Gospel, in which the kingdoms OF THIS WORLD are become the kingdom of our Lord, and of his Christ and he shall reign for ever and ever. (Rev. xi. 15.) It 'is not easy to conceive how the kingdoms of this world can become the kingdom of Christ, unless they be governed by the principles of his Gospel, and committed to the administration of princes who shall advance the prosperity of his church.
As, therefore, the great adversary was the prince of this world only to the period of his overthrow and "expulsion by our victorious Leader; as Christ, immediately, after his great victory, claims all power in earth, as well as in heaven; as the adherents of the prince of darkness are to be finally subdued, and Christ is to be acknowledged as supreme governor of the kingdoms of this world; it is evident that his declarations, my kingdom is NOT of this world, and Now is my kingdom NOT from hence, are to be limited to the period of his humiliation, and to the afflicted age of his servants. We read of no intermediate power between the prince of darkness and the prince of peace, as claiming the kingdom of this world. The rulers of the earth must, therefore, exercise their authority under the influence of the one or the other. And they who deny the kingdom of Christ, must be supposed virtually to acknowledge the kingdom of his adversary.
In what has been here said, I would not be understood to mean, that, under the most prosperous state of the church, the official duties of the civil government, and
of the priesthood are, to be so blended and intermixed, that either may at discre tion Occupy the place of the other. God is the God of order, not of confusion.
But where temporal and spiritual governors are equally members of Christ's church, the Gospel requires them to co-operate, each in his station and capacity; to unite the powers with which they are lawfully invested, for the promotion of one common and sacred cause.
The manner in which this is to be effected, without confusion or usurpation, may be learnt from the history of those kings of Israel and Judah who, in supporting the cause of the established church, and repressing schism and disorder, 'are declared to have done that which was right in the sight of the Lord; for the general rules of God's moral government are invariably the same. He does not approve to-day, what he disallows to-morrow. We shall select, as an example, the reign of Jehoash, because it also demonstrates the evil of departing from this sacred line of duty.
This prince, having been rescued in his infancy from a general massacre of the