« ZurückWeiter »
fays, 'the last enemy which shall be destroyed is death.' 2ndly, If our Lord Chrift should come into the world in that splendour and glory wherewith he is now invested in the heavens, men in this mortal state would not be able to bear it, or to conyerse with him. St. John at his appearance to him with a countenance as the sun shining in his strength, fell at his feet as dead," Rev. i. 18. And it is a groundless fancy to think he should enter into a state of humiliation again after his exaltation, and lay aside his glory to converse with mortal men. 3dly, It is altogether needless for our blessed Saviour to come from heaven to reign and earth in reference to the ends and purposes of his reign, It is said indeed, that our Lord Jesus Christ shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing, and his kingdom, 2 Timothy iv. Į. From whence some have inferred, that either he must appear to receive his kingdom, or that he will appear at the time of his kingdom and reign. That his appearing and his kingdom will in some respect be co-existent or co-incident, will not be denied: but in that respect, that it will be fo, it will be of no use to prove his personal reign on earth for a thousand years. For his judging the quick and the dead, at the end of the world, is an act, and a principal act, of Christ's kingly office, and is to be performed at the latter end of his reign, and before he delivers up the kingdom to God his Father; and his appearing then in the clouds of heayen to do this, is his appearing in the time of his kingdom, though but at the latter end of it; and yet we know not how long time will be taken up in managing this great part of his kingly office, or whether it will be long or short. Hear whạt Mr. Mede faith against this personal reign of Christ on earth; “ The presence of Christ in his kingdom shall, no doubt, be glorious and evident; yet I dare not so much
as imagine, that it shall be a visible converse on earth: for the kingdom of Christ ever hath been, and shall be, a kingdom whose throne and kingly residence is in heaven,' lib. iii. p. 603.
« Thus the kingdom under the whole heaven may be said to be given to the people of the saints of the Most High,' because the government of the whole world will, at the time pointed out in this Prophecy of Daniel, be put into the hands of those who shall be of the Church of Christ, which is, and will be his kingdom in fpecial. For our blessed Lord and Saviour will not adminifter all the affairs of his universal kingdom here on earth by himself immediately, but by substitutes and vicegerents, which will be kings over men when yet they are but viceroys under Christ, who is Prince of the Kings of the earth, and King of Kings, and Lord of Lords. As God the Father is said to judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained, (to wit, Christ, Acts xvii. 31.), so Christ will rule and govern the world in the time of his kingdom here, by Governors deputed by him. In this respect the kingdom may be said to be given to the Saints of the Most High' when the government, in a proper fense, is put into the hands but of Christian Kings only, and subordinate rulers. As when it is said, Fear not, little flock, it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom,' meaning the kingdom of heaven, Luke xii. 32. we are not to understand thereby that he will make each of them kings in that kingdom, as that signifies power and authority to rule and govern it; but that he will give them poffeffion and fruition of the glory and happiness of that kingdom, the affairs and concerns of which will be managed by the glorious King of Heaven, in a more immediate manner than the Kingdom of Christ on earth was, when God himself shall be all in all.'
" Rev. ii. 26, 27, and iii. 21. doubtless signifies rule and government in this world, under Chrift, King of all Kings. The first instance of the fulfilment of these Prophecies was Constantine, the first Christian Emperor, -And these Christian Kings, who are deputed and delegated by Christ to rule under and for him,
be faid to fit down in his throne (as Solomon is faid, I Chron. xxix. 23. to fit in the throne of the Lord, as King, instead of David his Father), as he is set down on his Father's throne, by having all judgment (or government) committed to him by the Father.' In that happy time of the Church, set forth by a new heaven and a new earth, and by the New Jerusalem's coming down from God out of heaven, it may be said, · Behold the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they thall be his people, and God him. felf shall be with them, and be their God,' Rev. xxi. 12. And when God shall please to exhibit himself thus unto men, we may be well assured of a very plentiful effufion of good things, of spiritual good things especially; and among them, Divine affiftances to enrich the souls of men with great measures of light and love. And this cannot but produce much righteousness and great peace among men. This saying, The Tabernacle of God is with men, seems to signifie as much happiness thereby to be vouchsafed to men, as they can be well capable of in this world, and on this side heaven itself, but especially in God's communication of such benefits as will best fit and prepare them for the happiness of another world. And when Ezekiel seems to have set forth the glory of the new city (which seems to be the New Jerufalem of the Revelations), he concludes, c. lxviii, with that which would commend it most of all, saying, “That the name of the city from that day shall be, The Lord
is there.' Considering then the great plenty of internal assistance which God will vouchsafe unto men in the happy times we speak of, and considering the excellent order and government which will then be observed both in Church and State, by Princes, Bishops, and Rulers, well qualified for it; it will be no hard matter to believe that their peace then will be as a river, and righteousness as the waves of the fea.'
“ St. Paul fays, the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption, into the glorious liberty of the children of God,' Romans viii. 21. And if he hereby means a deliverance which the animate and inanimate creatures shall one time or other receive from the vanity, weakness, and hurtfulness, which is come upon their nature by reason of man's fin, as it's generally held he does, then the great prosperity we have been speaking of, is not likely to be peculiar to the nation or people of the Jews only, when they shall be restored, but seems to be a thing more generally to be enjoyed in the world in those happy times. For, if that be St. Paul's meaning, then the deliverance of the creature from the bondage of which he speaks must be its deliverance in a great measure from that curse that came upon the earth for the sin of man, and that was extended to the other parts of the earth as well as the land of Canaan; and therefore the removal of this curse must concern the other parts of the world as well as that. And if the creature,' or whole creation,
which travaileth in pain until now,' shall be delivered from this bondage one time or other, when can it be so reasonably expected as in those times in which the reign and government of Christ will make them so happy as we have set forth? It cannot reasonably be thought to be at the judgment of the great day, for then will be
the conflagration of the world by fire, and that will not be a deliverance to the creatures, but a destruction of them.
« The hot and unchristian contests and divisions about some doctrines of lesser moment, but especially about Church government and discipline, with the great neg. lect of discipline itself; and most of all, the unsuitableness of men's lives to the Reformed Religion which they profess, has greatly obscured the glory of the Reformation itself, and made the day of it to be neither clear nor dark.' And indeed, the great degenerateness of the Reformed Churches from the power of Christianity gives too much cause to fear. left Almighty God should chaltise that decay by letting the Reformed Churches fall once more under the power of that which is unreformed. God may suffer them to be brought very low by their enemies to bring them to repentance, and then deliver them in fome extraordinary manner..... The general victory, which the Church in the latter days shall obtain over her enemies, will be brought to pass, so as that it will appear plainly that Almighty God, that Christ, the King of his Church, does interpose and concern himself in it after a more immediate and extraordinary manner than what has been usual at other times, Rev. xix. Pfalm.cx. 5, 6. We have great reason to think, that the Naying his enemies with the sword of his mouth' in this place, and on this occasion, must needs fignifie a temporal destruction which they shall receive from him at the battle of that great day of God Almighty, which is as likely to be as much, or more, the day of his wrath, than any on this fide the day of the general judgment of the world. ..... And it is not unlikely but that the enemies of the Church at such a time as this, when the kings of the earth and of the whole world have brought their armies together, may to far outnumber those of the Churchi,