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upon the territory of a neighbouring state.-All these king
None of them can boast of any higher Their constitution and order, their laws
doms are of the world. origin than the world. and modes of government, are wholly human. The seat of these kingdoms is the world; and the existence of none of them can extend beyond the period of the duration of the world. When the frame of heaven and earth is dissolved, all terrestrial rule and authority will be put down.
By the voices which John heard in heaven it was said, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ.-Is it meant that they were divested of their civil character, and changed into associations purely religious? If this were the meaning of the expression, they could not then be called kingdoms, because the kingdom of Christ is but one; neither would they any longer be kingdoms of the world, but kingdoms of that state which is here called heaven. From mistaken views of this and similar texts some have supposed, that in the latter days there will not be such a thing as civil government, or any state of society that is purely secular. They imagine, that the world will be one extensive church; that the only kind of rule will be ecclesiastical; and that all the kingdoms of the world will be swallowed up, and their distinctive and secular character lost, in this large association of the church. But this is supposing the state of religion and morals to be better than we have any reason to expect; that men will be so universally good, there will be no need of civil rulers to be a terror to evil doers, and that they will be so submissive to each other, there will be no need of civil judges to act the part of umpires between them: such a state of society is not to be expected on earth. Peaceful, happy, and prosperous as will be the state of society in the latter days, we have no reason to think that even then every man will be a sound convert, or that every convert, on all occasions, will act the part of an honest man. To the end of the world, church and state will be distinct societies; and the office-bearers of the one will be as necessary for the place they are called to fill as the office
bearers of the other.-It is readily admitted, that when the power of religion shall be so generally felt, the burden of civil government will be very light; and that the constitutions and laws of secular associations will be framed in a very different manner from what they are at present. Neither church nor state will exercise a lordship over the other; each will be disposed to keep within the sphere of its own jurisdiction; and not, like busy bodies, to intermeddle in other men's matters.
But if the secular character of worldly kingdoms is never to be laid aside, in what sense might it be said, as in this prophecy, The kingdoms of the world are become the kingdoms of the Lord and his Christ? In answer to this inquiry it may be observed, 1st, That when the great body of the subjects, or when persons of all ranks in secular monarchies, profess subjection to Christ as their spiritual sovereign, their kingdoms then become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ. The members of all societies sustain a twofold character; one secular and another religious. In the last they profess subjec tion to some spiritual superior, as in the first they profess subjection to some civil ruler. Prior to the Reformation, the subjects of the kingdoms of Europe professed subjection to the bishop of Rome, as the head of the ecclesiastical body; but, at that memorable æra, many of them renounced the ghostly dominion of the Pope, and professed subjection to Christ as the only Lord of the conscience, and the only head of government and influence to the church. And when the body of a nation, with their rulers and representatives, made a profession of this kind, that nation or kingdom might then be said to be the Lord's. 2d, When this professed subjection to Christ is made in a public, social, and solemn manner, with special propriety it may then be said of that kingdom, that it is become the Lord's. It has been supposed, that there is an allusion in the text, to the way in which supreme civil rulers are set up over the state. When they are introduced to power in the regular channel, it is not by the force of arms, but by the voluntary consent of the people. On these occasions the sovereign usual
ly swears that he will rule according to law, and employ the power with which he is invested for the good of the public body; and the people, or their representatives, swear allegiance to him, that they will assert and maintain his just prerogatives, and co-operate with him in the regular administration of the affairs of government. When a kingdom has been acquired in this manner, though all the public property is still the property of the state, yet, as the executive government is in the hands of the sovereign, and he is the public guardian of the whole, every thing pertaining to it is then spoken of as if it were the property of the king. The laws of the kingdom are called his statutes; all the officers belonging to the executive government are called his servants; the whole mass of the subjects are called his people; even the public roads are called the king's highways; and the soldiers and ships of war are called the armies and navies of the king.
Something very similar to this took place at the Reformation from Popery, in most of the Protestant states. They did not content themselves with a simple profession of subjection to Christ; princes and nobles, as well as subjects, came forward with an oath of allegiance to Jesus Christ as their spiritual sovereign. With the same breath that they abjured the supremacy of the Pope, they bound themselves by the most solemn ties and engagements, to conduct themselves as good subjects of the King of Zion, and to aid and assist one another in the work of their common Lord. The kingdom of Judah had very much the appearance of being the Lord's kingdom, when the king and the different authorities under him, and the great body of the people, both in Judah and Benjamin, entered into a covenant, to seek the Lord God of their fathers, with all their heart, and with all their soul: and all Judah rejoiced at the oath; for they had sworn with all their heart; and sought him with their whole desire; and he was found of them: and the Lord gave them rest round about,' 2 Chr. xv. 12, 15. It was once the glory of Britain that she did the same. Our king, our princes, our nobles, both houses of parliament, and the great
body of the subjects of Scotland, together with some of all ranks in England, swore, That through the grace of God, they would sincerely, really, and constantly endeavour, in their several places and callings, the preservation of the reformed religion in the Church of Scotland, and the reformation of religion in the kingdoms of England and Ireland, in doctrine, worship, discipline, and government, according to the word of God, and the example of the best reformed churches ;—that they, and their posterity after them, might, as brethren, live in faith and love; and the Lord might delight to dwell in the midst of them.*
The term Lord, in this text, is manifestly to be understood of the Father, and the term Christ of the Son as Mediator. The Father, considered as the creator, preserver, and moral governor of the universe, was always the proprietor of the kingdoms of this world; but, when their subjects are brought to an explicit acknowledgment of him as the God and Father of Christ, they then become his kingdoms in a different manner from what they formerly were. At the same time, they become the kingdoms of his Christ; for, though the mediatorial rule of Christ is exercised over all flesh, till, men are brought into a professed subjection to him they cannot be considered as belonging to the church, that spiritual kingdom in which his sovereign power is specially exercised. And as the whole of that rule which is exercised by the Father, is committed in respect of dispensation into the hand of Christ, when any of the kingdoms of the world become the kingdoms of the Father, they also become the kingdoms of him whom he hath anointed king over his holy hill of Zion.-Here two distinct persons are mentioned, the Lord and his Christ; but when the perpetuity of the reign is noticed, it is spoken of as if it were only one of them that would continue to sway the sceptre. He shall reign for ever and ever. The singular number being used, is intended to mark the perfect harmony of these rulers. There is no collision of interests, no jealou
Solemn League and Covenant, Art. I.
sies or animosities that can subsist between them. In discharging the office of a Mediatory king, Messiah acts as the viceroy or honorary servant of the Father, fulfilling his pleasure and carrying his designs into execution. As in the days of his flesh he did nothing of himself, but as he received commandment from the Father; so it is still, even now that he is advanced to the throne of glory. As Mediator, he will continue to be the servant of the Father; and the whole work of his glorified estate will be as strictly conformed to the mind and will of the Father, as was the work of his state of abasement. Hence, though the names of two distinct rulers are mentioned, yet such is the harmony of design and operation between them, that in respect of actual rule, they appear as if they were only one.
Having stated the occasion on which the loud voices were uttered in heaven, the prophet next informs us of a particular class of the inhabitants, and of the grateful frame of spirit with which they made mention of the remarkable events that had taken place. They who at this time attracted the notice of the prophet, were the four and twenty elders. They fell upon their faces and worshipped God-No notice is taken of the living creatures who are generally mentioned along with the elders. But we are not to suppose that they were unaffected with the singular revolution in the kingdoms of the world, or that they stood silent and motionless, and took no active part in the religious services of this worshipping assembly. As they are the hieroglyphics of the gospel ministry, what is here described, could not have been the public worship of a rightly constituted and organized church without them. Different reasons may be assigned, why only the elders, the hieroglyphics of the private members of the church, are mentioned. 1st, It is to preserve the consistency of the figures employed to describe this very remarkable period of the church. In chap. xiv. 6., we have a corresponding prophecy, in which an angel is represented as flying in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach to them that dwell on the