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MATTHEW vi, 10...... Thy Kingdom come!
THE Prayer, of which this petition is a part, is the best Form of prayer, that was ever devised. It was made for the use of the Church at large, and is constantly offered by all denominations of christians. We may presume, therefore, that all unite in wishing, that this Petition may be granted.
The Kingdom here mentioned is not the Universal kingdom of Jehovah. That was fully come, long before this prayer was dictated. It is a kingdom which is to come on Earth; and when come is to resemble that which exists in Heaven. The prophet Daniel informs us what this kingdom is, and who is its King. “I saw in the night visions, and behold one like unto the Son of Man; and there was given him a
should serve him.” It is unlike earthly kingdoms. “My kingdom,” said the Redeemer, “is not of this world.” It is a Spiritual kingdom. “The kingdom of God is righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Ghost.” The seat of this kingdom then is this world; Christ is the King; the Gospel is the statutebook; renewed men are the subjects; and holiness is the character.
To offer the petition, “Thy kingdom come, on earth as in heaven," is therefore to pray that the spiritual dominion of Christ the Mediator over the minds of men may become universal; in other words, that all mankind may become christians.
This kingdom is not yet come. But a small portion of mankind even know the name of its King, or are acquainted with the establishment of his kingdom. Of this small portion, but few have hitherto become the subjects of the kingdom of righteousness; and a great change for the better must be wrought even in these few, before the will of God is done, and his name hallowed among them, as it is in heaven.
Much curiosity has existed in the church to know the Time when this kingdom will come; its Extent; and its Duration. On these topics, the limits of a single discourse will not allow me to expatiate. Yet a few remarks may not be unappropriate.
The Scriptures assure us that a Period is approaching, on the arrival of which this kingdom of righteousness will be fully established. They also justify us in inquiring, when it will arrive; by furnishing us various means of determining with greater or less probability the period of its arrival. They mention various events, which will occur before it arrives. One is, that the everlasting Gospel will be preached to all nations; and another, if the whole body of Protestant Commentators is not deceived, that the Romish Church will be utterly destroyed. They also specify the exact number of years, during which that Church is to usurp the dominion of Christ. I am not one of those who believe, on the one hand, that the scriptural prophecies on this subject are so clear and explicit, as to enable us, who live before their fulfil
ment to become prophets, and determine with exactness the period in which it is to take place. Nor am I one of those, on the other, who view, the disquisitions of wise and learned men on this subject as Theological Romances. In doing this, I should take the chair of decision, and pronounce myself more wise and learned than they. Without admitting or denying their conclusions, I have no doubt that what they have written has drawn the attention of the Church to the subject, and to their duty with regard to it; that it has animated their prayers and increased their efforts; and thus has proved an important means of bringing the event to pass. It may be safely said, however, that the most satisfactory interpretations of propliacy, as well as the events of providence, justify as in be lieving, that the coming of this kingdom is comparatively near at hand; and that the period when it shall be fully come is not far from the year 2000.
As to the Extent of this kingdom, I will only remark, that I have yet seen no reason to conclude, that the command of Christ, “Go and make a disciple of every creature," is not to be obeyed; or that the promise, “They shall teach no more every man his neighbour and every man his brother, Know the Lord, because all shall know me from the least of them even to the greatest;%' or the equally comprehensive promise, “The earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea;” is hyperbolical.
As to its Duration in this prosperous state, it is enough for our present purpose to remark, that it will exist for a very long period; that ultimately there will be a falling away; and that after this apostasy the Church will exist, though its numbers will be comparatively few, until the second coming of Christ.
It may here be asked, Will then the kingdom of Christ come to an end?—This question may be thus answered. The universal kingdom of Jehovah is under a government of mere Law. In this world, which before the Fall of Man was under the same government, a new and distinct Dispensation is established: a government of Grace. It exists for a time, and for a &pecial purpose: to recover a vast multitude of the inhabitants to the condition of loyal subjects. Over them, when recovered, the Messiah reigns on Earth as the representative of the Godhead. This, which may properly be called Christ's Representative Kingdom, will come to an end. At the Final Consummation, having accomplished the purpose for which it was established, he will deliver it up to God even the Father.* Then the government of Grace will terminate; every part of the Universe will as before, be under the government of Law; and God will be all in all.
Those who are thus restored are Christ's peculiar people; more nearly connected with him than any of the creatures of God. In whatever world they exist, He is their King, and they his subjects. In the riches of his grace he has chosen to translate them to heaven, to dwell with him where he is, that they may behold his glory. This kingdom, which may properly be called Christ's Mediatorial Kingdom, is an everlasting kingdom; this dominion shall never be destroyed.
With these preliminary remarks, suffer me to direct your attention to the following inquiries;
1. What Obstacles exist in the way of the coming of this kingdom;
2. By what Means it will come;
3. What has hitherto been done to bring it forward;
y 1 Cor. xv, 24.
4. Can the necessary means be furnished;
5. Who are especially called upon to furnish them. · Our examination of each of these points must be brief.
1. What Obstacles must be removed, before the kingdom of Christ shall become universal.
This inquiry opens a gloomy and discouraging prospect. Yet it is not my intention to represent the number or the magnitude of these difficulties as any less than they really are.
Eighteen hundred years are gone since the coming of Christ; yet to three-fourths of the human race the Gospel has never been preached. A very small proportion of the remaining fourth have as yet heard it in its purity. His kingdom will not come, until the Gospel is preached in its purity to the whole human race.
The population of the Earth is in round numbers 800 millions. Of these, 200 millions are nominally Christians. Half of this number, or about 100 millions, are Catholics; 40 millions are of the Greek Church; and about 60 millions are Protestants. In Protestant countries not more than one fifth of the whole adult population; i. e. not more than 6 millions in 60; profess to be subjects of the kingdom of righteousness. Of those who make this profession, great multitudes do it little honour, and give no reason to believe that the King acknowledges them as his subjects. Christ's kingdom will not come until the vast multitude of nominal christians in Protestant countries have their names recorded among his loyal subjects.
The Protestant Church is rent into numberless sects, which contend about forms of government, modes of worship, qualifications for the ordinances, and modes of administering them, The Protestant