« VorigeDoorgaan »
SERMON V. The Third Sermon on the LOR D's
MATTH. VI. x.
Thy KINGDOM come. "THE Kingdom of God doth sometimes
signify in the Scripture his Absolute Dominion over all the World. Thus faith the Psalmist, The Lord hath prepared his Throne in the Heavens, and his Kingdom ruleth over all, Pfal. 103. 19. Verses 21, 22. Bless the Lord all ye bis 'Hofts. Bless the Lord all his Works, in all Places of his DOMINION. This Kingdom
of God is administred by giving Laws to all Things, and governing them according to their Natures, intellectual Beings, Men and Angels, by Moral Laws, by Rewards and Punishments, and all other Things by Laws of Necessity. He com.
manded, and they were created. He hath allo stablished them for ever and ever: he bath made a Decree which all not passa Psalm 148. 5,6. This is that which we may call the Natural King dom of God, in Confideration of the Perfections of his Nature; and that the Nature of all other Things must be dependent on him. But this Kingdom therefore is always the Same, from the beginning of the World, and for ever; and so this Petition is not meant of this Kingdom of God; for it is not capable of Encrease or Diminution ; for the Providence of God hath always extended to all his Works, and he doth what he will in Heaven and in Earth.
But there are two other Notions of God's Kingdom in the Scriptures; Of both which the Petition is meant, as I shall shew you.
The first is, that Kingdom which Christ came to plant in the World.
The second is, that Kingdom into which his true Followers shall be admitted at the End of all Things, after the Resurrection and the last Judgment.
1. That Kingdom which Christ came to plant in the World, which is nothing else but the Government of his Church by those Laws upon which it is established. Here therefore I am to shew,
: 1. Why the Society of the Church, which
Now in answer to this Question, I am only to fhew in what Sense the Church is God's Kingdom, diftin&t from that in which all Mankind are his Subjects, and under his Dominion ; for this will make the Reason plain why it is called the Kingdom of God.
The Difference doth not lie in this, that God hath given Laws to his Church, and none to the rest of the World, for all Mankind are under the Obligation of God's Laws, and were so from the beginning of ', the World, that is, the Laws of natural Justice and Piety, which are unchangeable; nor doth it lie in this, that the Laws of Christianity extend to the Hearts and Souls of Men, whereas mostly Human Laws reach no farther than the outward A&tion ; for the natural Laws of GOD bind the Thoughts as well as the Overt Actions of Men, and they are accountable to him for an evil Mind as well as for an evil Work.
But the Difference lies in this, that the Church is founded upon Laws that are given by Revelation. God hath established a visible Society in the World by his own Authority, which he will have to be governed and maintained by Laws that himself hath revealed. And because that Right which this Society hath to maintain it felf, for the Purposes for which it was established, depends not upon any Worldly Honour and Authority, but upon the Authority of God alone, therefore it is called the Kingdom of God. And because this Authority was given by Revelation, therefore it is a distinct Kingdom from that which is founded upon natural Laws, and takes in all Men as common.
We all know that the End of the Gospel is the Reformation and Salvation of Mankind, and that our Lord came to seek and to save that which was lost, Luke 19. 10. In order to this he did several Things.
1. He was a Preacher of Righteousness, and the most perfect of that kind that ever appeared in the World. He hath given us a full and clear Account of all Virtue and Piety, that we might know what is Sin, and what is Duty, and repent, and for the future obey accordingly.
2. To this he added Promises of the greatest Blessings, for the Encouragement of Mankind to do what he required, For
giveness, and Everlasting Life after Death, and threatned severe Condemnation to all that would not be won by those Promises.
3. Himself was offered to God a Sacrifice for our Sins, that the Justice of God being thereby satisfied, Mercy might be Thewn upon Repentance.
4. By his Resurrection from the Dead, and by his undeniable and frequent Miracles before, he plainly shewed to all Men, that he came from God, and that all that he said was True.
Now if no more had been done by him towards the Reformation and Salvation of Mankind than these Things, all afterwards, to whom the Knowledge of them should come, and who should believe them, and · profess their Faith, might well have been preferred before any Sect of Philosophers, in as much as they could shew a more excellent Doctrine, and prove it by more Di. vine Testimonies than any of the Philoso. phers could. But to guard the precious Truth, which was to be the great Means of the Salvation of Souls, Our Blessed Lord, to whom all Authority in Heaven and Earth was committed, founded a Society for the Profession of his Truth and Faith, which he called his Church, and that in this manner: He chose Twelve Apostles, whom he fent abroad into the World to preach his Gospel, lie gave them Power and Authori
I 2 .. . ty