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2. How much doth it concern us to inquire and know whose government we are under, and who is king over our souls; whether Christ or Satan be in the throne, and sway the sceptre over our souls! Reader, the work in which I would now engage thy soul, is the same that Jesus Christ will thoroughly and effectually do in the great day. Then he will gather out of his kingdom every thing that offends, separate the tares and the wheat, divide the whole world into two ranks or grand divisions, how many divisions and subdivisions soever there be in it now. It nearly concerns thee therefore to know who is Lord and King in thy soul. To help thee in this great work, make use of the following hints:
To whom do you yield your obedience? His subjects and servants ye are whom ye obey. Rom. 6:16. It is but a mockery to give Christ the empty titles of Lord and King, whilst ye give your real service to sin and Satan. What is this but like the Jews, to bow the knee, and say, Hail, Master, and crucify him? "Then are ye his disciples, if ye do whatsoever he commands you. John, 15: 14. Christ doth not deceive you; his pardons, promises, and salvation are real; Oh let your obedience be so too! Let it be sincere and universal obedience; this will evidence your unfeigned subjection to Christ. Do not dare to enterprise any thing, till you know Christ's pleasure and will. Rom. 12:2. Inquire of Christ as David did of the Lord. 1 Sam. 23:9-11. Lord, may I do this or that? or shall I forbear? I beseech thee, tell thy servant.
Have you the power of godliness, or a form of it only? There be many that do but trifle in religion, and play about the skirts and borders of it; spending their time about barren controversies: but as to the power of religion, and the life of godliness, which consist in communion with God, and as to duties and ordinances, which promote holiness and mortify their lusts, they concern
not themselves. But surely "the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power." 1 Cor. 4:20. It is not meat and drink, (that is, dry disputes about meats and drinks,) "but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost; for he that in these things serveth Christ, is acceptable to God, and approved of men." Rom. 14 : 17, 18. Oh I am afraid that, when the great host of professors shall be tried by these rules, they will shrink up into a little handful, as Gideon's host did.
Have you the special saving knowledge of Christ? All his subjects are translated out of the kingdom of darkness. Col. 1:13. The devil is called the ruler of the darkness of this world; his subjects are all blind, else he could never rule them. As soon as their eyes are opened they flee from his kingdom, and there is no retaining them in subjection to him any longer. Oh inquire, then, whether you are brought out of darkness into this marvellous light! Do you see your condition, how sad, miserable, wretched it is by nature? do you see your remedy, as it lies only in Christ and his precious blood? Do you see the true way of obtaining an interest in that blood by faith? Does this knowledge show itself in your life; lamenting heartily your misery by sin, thirsting vehemently after Christ and his righteousness, striving continually after a stronger faith and a more intimate union with Christ? This will indeed show that you are translated out of the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of Christ. With whom do you delightfully associate? Who are your chosen companions? You may see to whom you belong by the company you join. What have the subjects of Christ to do among the slaves of Satan? If the subjects of one kingdom be in another king's dominion, they love to be with their own countrymen, rather than the natives of the place; so do the servants of Christ. They are a company of themselves, as it is said, "They
went to their own company." Acts, 4:23. I know the subjects of both kingdoms are here mingled, and we cannot avoid the company of sinners except we go out of the world, 1 Cor. 5: 10; but yet all your delights should be in the saints, the excellent of the earth. Psalm 16: 3.
Do you live holy and righteous lives? If not, you may claim interest in Christ as your King, but he will never allow your claim. "The sceptre of his kingdom is a sceptre of righteousness." Psalm 45: 6. If ye oppress and defraud your brethren, and yet call yourselves Christ's subjects, what greater reproach can ye cast upon him? What, is Christ the King of fraud? No, no, renounce your false profession, and fall into your own place; you belong to another prince, and not to Christ.
3. Doth Christ exercise such a kingly power over the souls of all them that are subdued by the Gospel to him? Oh then let all that are under Christ's government walk as the subjects of such a King. Imitate your King; the example of kings is very influential upon their subjects. Your King hath commanded you not only to take his yoke upon you, but also to learn of him. Matt. 11:29. Yea, and "if any man say that he is Christ's, let him walk even as Christ walked." 1 John, 2: 6. Your king is meek and patient, Isa. 53: 7; as a lamb for meekness: shall his subjects be lions for fierceness? Your King was humble and lowly. Matt. 21:5. Will you be proud and lofty? doth this become the kingdom of Christ? Your King was a self-denying King; he could deny his comforts, ease, honor, life, to serve his Father's design and accomplish your salvation. 2 Cor. 8:9; Phil. 2: 1-8. Shall his servants be selfish and self-seeking persons, that will expose his honor and hazard their own souls for the trifles of time? God for bid! Your King was laborious, and diligent in fulfilling his work. John, 9: 4. Let not his servants be slothful
Oh imitate your King, follow his pattern: this will give you comfort now, and boldness in the day of judgment; because as he is, so shall ye be in this world." 1 John, 4: 17.
THE KINGLY OFFICE OF CHRIST, AS PROVIDENTIALLY
"And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church." Eph. 1: 22.
The foregoing verses are thankful and humble adoration of the grace of God, in bringing the Ephesians to believe in Christ. This effect of his power is compared with that other glorious effect of it, the raising of Christ himself from the dead; both are from the same efficient cause. It raised Christ from a low estate, even from the dead, to a high, a very high and glorious state; to be the head both of the world and of the church; the head of the world by way of dominion, the head of the church by way of union and special influence, ruling the world for the good of his people in it. "He gave him to be the head over all things to the church." And here let these four things be seriously regarded.
1. The dignity and authority committed to Christ: "He hath put all things under his feet;" which implies full, ample, and absolute dominion in him, and subjection in them over whom he reigns. This power is delegated to him by the Father: for besides the essential, native power and dominion over all, which he hath as God, Psalm 22: 28, there is a dispensed authority, which is proper to him as Mediator, which he receives as the reward or fruit of his suffering. Phil. 2: 8.
2. The recipient of this authority is Christ, and Christ primarily and only: he is the first receptacle of all authority and power. Whatever authority any creature is clothed with, is but ministerial and derivative. Christ is the only Lord, Jude, 4, the fountain of all power.
3. The object of this authority is the whole creation; "all things" are put under his feet: he rules from sea to sea, even to the utmost bounds of God's creation. "Thou hast given him power over ali flesh," John, 17:2; all creatures, rational and irrational, animate and inanimate, angels, devils, men, winds, seas, all obey him.
4. And especially notice the end for which he governs and rules the universal empire; it is for the church, that is, for the advantage, comfort, and salvation of those for whom he died. He purchased the church; and that he might have the highest security that his blood should not be lost, God the Father hath put all things into his hand, to order and dispose all as he pleaseth. Hence,
All the affairs of the kingdom of providence are ordered and determined by Jesus Christ, for the special advantage and everlasting good of his redeemed people.
"As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him." John, 17: 2. Hence it comes to pass that "all things work together for good to them that love God, to them that are the called according to his purpose." Rom. 8:28.
That Jesus Christ providentially controls all the affairs of this world, is evident both from scripture assertion, and from the observation of events.
The first chapter of Ezekiel contains an admirable scheme or draught of providence. There you see how all the wheels, that is, the motions and revolutions here on earth, are guided by the spirit that is in them. And,