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ty to receive those whom they should convert into their Communion by baptizing them. As my Father hath sent me, says lie, so fend l you. He breathed on them, and said, Receive ye the Holy Ghost. Whosefoever Sins.ye renit, they are reniitted, and whosesoever Sins ye retain, they are retained. And, Lo, I am with you always, even into the End of the World. He gave them the Kers of the King dom of Heaven, to let into his Church, and to exclude from it'; and having given them Authority, he commanded them to use it: Go ye into all Nations, fáýs he, and baptize them in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Gholt. Which was as plain an Institution of a Society as ever was in the World. For what is a Society but a Company of Men enjoying the fame common Privileges, under the Condition of obeying the fame Laws, and fubmitting to the fame Authority? And in order to the Institucion of the Church, here were Privileges propounded to Mankind, not to be enjoyed by them but upon Conditions of undertaking the Profession and
Practice of the Gospel, the Right to those . Privileges being begun by Baptism, and Persons were appointed in behalf of the Church to judge who were fit to be baptized; and withal, after Admission into the Church, to remove those from the Privileges of it, who should depart from the Pu
Lui; sity rity of the Christian Life, and dishonour the Name of Christ by Manifest and Notorious Crimes. Now where Teachers and Directors were appointed, Privileges to be enjoyed, and Conditions to be undertaken in a solemn manner, and by visible Transactions, All that were brought to the Pro.. fession of Christianity, were One Society with those to whom they were joined; and if all this was done by Divine Authority, then it is a Society of God's Institution. And this is that which we are often to understand by the Kingdom of God in the New Testament. It will be besides the direct Scope of this Discourse to give you an Account of the several Advantages , which the Gospel gains by our Saviour's having incorporated his true Disciples into a visible Body; I think it was only needful to shew why the Church is so many times called the King dom of God: The reason is, because it is one Society or Communion of Believers, founded by God himself upon the Profession of that. Truth which lie hath revealed to Mankind, and their undertaking to live according to it. And by this we · may come to understand our Saviour's Sense in those Words, John 18. 36. My Kingdom is not of this Worid. If my King dom were of this World, then would 'mzy Servants fight. The Meaning is this: That the Church, which was that King dont of God he was to I 3
set up in the World, was by him endowed with no Secular Force to maintain it self. For if by Kingdom in that place we understand merely the Dominion and Authority of Christ himself, it is most certain this extended to all Things; for he had all Power given him in Heaven and Earth. But if his Kingdom be understood of that Society of Believers which he came to establish in the World, it is a plain Truth that he left them without any other Means to govern and keep themselves, but that of Spiritual Censures and Infictions. That which made the Church submit to the Persecution of the Empire was this; That Believers by virtue of their Christianity were bound to make an open Profession of Christ: They were baptized, they celebrated the Eucharist, they assembled for the Service of God, they constantly communicated with their Spiri, tual Governours, that is, they acted as
Men.of a Religious Society: This made their · Religion remarkable. But what was it
that justified them in all this, acknowledging the Law of the Empire was against them? Why, it was this; they were made a Society, for the Service of God, and the Profesfion of the true Faith, by an higher · Authority than the Emperor's, the Autho
rity of God himself; and therefore it was - not enough for them to believe the Truth in their Hearts, and to live a Moral Life in
CorCorrespondence therewith, but they, in Obedience to God's. Authority, were to make Profession of the Truth, and not to forsake the assembling of themselves together for the Service of God. And if the Empe. ror and the Senate thought this might be dangerous to the Empire, they had this to say for themselves, to shew that the Liberty they took could be in no fort prejudicial to the Government: That altho’ they met in religious Assemblies for the Service of God, and the Protellion of the Faith, and were in this warranted by a Divine Command, yet God had not invested the Church with any Temporal Power, nor exempted it from Subjection to Secular Law and Authority. And as this was their Profession, so it might be seen both in the Records of their Religion, and moreover in their PraEtice, since they meekly submitted to all the Rigours and Cruelties that were inflicted upon them, without making Resistance.
These are the Terms upon which the Church was founded, and became a Society, in order to the maintaining and spreading the Christian Faith in the World.
And now it is to be considered in what Şense we pray that this King dom may cone; for it has been come, as I făid before, near Seventeen Centuries, and moreover we have a sure Promise that it shall never fail, not only in the Old Testament Prediction, for
Instance, Dan. 2. 44. where it is said concerning the Kingdom of Christ, That the God of Heaven Mall set up a Kingdom, which Mall never be destroyed, but stand for ever, but also by our Saviour' himself in the New Testament, Upon this Rock will I build my Church, and the Gates of Hell shall not prévail againk it.
Now nevertheless the Kingdom of Christ may yet be said to be Coming in some Respects, and it is our Duty to pray that it may come; that is,"
i. With respect to the Extent of this Kingdom. And, in
2. With respect to the principal End for which it was established by our Saviour.
i. With respect to the Extent thereof. For of this Kingdom of God it was foretold, that it should be Universal, that the Heathen should be given to Christ for his Inheritance, and the utmost Parts of the Earth for his Pol session. That the Earth should be full of the Knowledge of the Lord as the Waters cover the Sea. But we know that this Prediction is not yet fulfilled. Nay, altho' the Gospel hath gained Ground in some Places of the World, it hath lost in others. Still the King doms of the World are not become the Kingdoms of the Lord and his Chrift. And therefore when we pray that God's Kingdom may yet come, we pray that the Gofpel may be more and more propagated, till
that the his P