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joicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing all things. It is the power of religion in the heart, which enables the Christian, in all his trials, thus to triumph in Christ Jesus.
We see in what respects, the kingdom of God comes without observation. How happy is the state of the sincere Christian! He has a kingdom within him. He may be poor and despised in this world. He may suffer a variety of adversity and distress; but he is a subject of the King of saints. He receives continual supplies and consolations from heaven. He has peace of mind, and hope toward God. He is an heir of everlasting glory. Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
LUKE, xvii. 20, 21.
And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, When the kingdom of God should come; he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: Neither shall they say, Lo here; or, lo there; for behold, the kingdom of God is within you.
IN what respects the kingdom of God, or the gospel dispensation, comes without observation, we have shewn in a preceding discourse. We will now attend to the reflections and instructions which our subject offers to us.
1. If the kingdom of God is now among us, we are all, without exception, bound to acknowledge it, and submit to it.
As Jesus declared himself to be the Messiah, who, according to the prophecies of scripture, was to come into the world, the Pharisees demanded of him, when his kingdom was to begin. He answered them, that it was begun already. He was now working miracles to prove his heavenly mis
sión. He was now preaching the way of salvation for sinners. He was now proclaiming peace to them, and stating the terms of their acceptance. The kingdom of Messiah, foretold by the prophets, was now among them. It only remained for them to bow down in humble submission to its laws, and secure the happiness which it promised.
Wherever God sends his gospel, there he erects his kingdom, and calls men to become the subjects of it. And it is at their peril, if they reject it. When Jesus came, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, he said to the people-The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: Repent ye, and believe the gospel.
We are not to suppose, that it is at our option, whether we will enter into this kingdom, or not. We are indispensably bound to receive it. Among the various forms of human government, we may choose the one which pleases us best. A people may adopt that constitution, in which they can agree and unite. If particular members of a community disapprove the constitution, which is chosen and ratified, they have a natural right to repair to some other society, whose government suits them better. But the kingdom of God is not to be viewed in this light. It is not a mere form, which men may take, or let alone at pleasure, and which derives its authority merely from human consent. It is a kingdom of righteousness; and its authority is absolute and universal.
God is the supreme Lord of all worlds. He has a sovereign right to our obedience. His wisdom has framed the order, his will has established the authority, and his goodness has made to us the discovery of his kingdom; and it is a kingdom which cannot be moved. Our rejection of it must be accompanied with the highest guilt, and our disobedience will be followed with the most amazing punishment.
Some seem to imagine, that if they profess themselves the subjects of this kingdom, they come under higher and stricter obligations than others; and that there are then duties incumbent on them, in which before they had no concern. Under this delusive imagination, many, it is probable, decline to make any profession at all, that they may feel themselves more at liberty to walk according to the course of the world.
But the truth is, the kingdom of God is come nigh to us; it is among us; and we are all bound to profess obedience, and yield it too. We have no more right to reject God's kingdom, when it is offered, than we have to withhold obedience when we have promised it. A profession is not the assumption of arbitrary obligations, but an acknowledgement of real ones. A profession of obedience is required; and he who refuses it, is guilty of the same contempt of divine authority, as he who refuses obedience after he has professed it.
The gospel dispensation is sometimes called a covenant. Now, because the validity of covenants between man and man, depends on mutual consent and agreement, we are apt insensibly to fall into this conception of the divine covenant. But we should remember, that God is a sovereign; that we stand not on the ground of equality with him, as we do with men; that his wisdom is perfect, and his authority supreme; and his covenant he commands us. Wherever he reveals and proposes it, the obligations of it take place. Whether we consent or not, still we come within its authority. Though our consent is necessary to our enjoying the saving benefits of it, yet it is not necessary to our coming un der its commanding power.
Whatever excuses may be made for the heathens, who have never known the gospel, these excuses cannot be admitted in our case, because God has
placed us in a very different condition from theirs ; and we cannot put ourselves in their condition, if we would.
The wickedness of those who profess the gospel, is indeed highly aggravated. But the aggravation arises from the enjoyment, rather than from the profession of the gospel. This is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and they have loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds are evil. Their guilt is aggravated, not in comparison with the guilt of those who enjoy the gospel, and yet refuse to profess it; but rather in comparison with the guilt of those, who have nev. er known the gospel, nor had an opportunity to pro
Our Saviour, alluding to the state of the Jewish nation, who received their kings by an appointment from Rome, illustrates the kingdom of God, or the gospel dispensation, by a parable of a certain nobleman, who went into a far country, to receive to himself a kingdom, and to return. This nobleman, at his departure, committed to his servants the care of his money, with a direction to occupy it for him, until he came back. These servants had professed a regard for his person, and an attachment to his interest, and with them he trusts his riches. But there were some of his citizens who hated him, and sent a message after him, saying, We will not have this man to reign over us. When he returned, having received the kingdom, he first called his servants to a reckoning, among whom was found one who had neglected to improve his Lord's money. This negligent servant fell under his severe displeasure. He said to them who stood by, Take from him the pound, for from him who hath not, or improveth not what is committed to him, shall be taken away even that which he hath. But, What became of those, who would