Billeder på siden



JUNE 1833.



OD, in the course of Providence, is making all things in

the world to work together towards one point-namely, the bringing in of the kingdom of Christ; and in the true church He is also doing similar work, by preparing all those who truly believe in him, and who are looking for the glorious appearing of the great God, even our Saviour Jesus Christ, for sharing his throne, and worthily administering the laws of his kingdom. To this one point of preparation for rule, should all the attention of the church be now directed ; and to it would we now desire to gather in our scattered thoughts, and on it concentrate all interpretations, doctrines, reproofs, and exhortations : lest, having hitherto run well, any should come short of the mark of the prize of their high calling of God in Christ Jesus; or lest, having preached to others, we ourselves should become cast-away.

For dominion, man was created, and in the exercise of rule he sheweth forth the image of God. It is as absurd to suppose that the purpose of God towards man, in ordaining him to have dominion, shall be frustrated by Satan, as to suppose that the throne of God himself shall be subverted. Satan's malice and the fall of man have not annulled the eternal, unchangeable purpose of God; and even in delaying, they will be found only to have heightened in splendour, and aggrandized in dignity, the glory of that kingdom which the word of God hath constituted in Christ and his saints; and which, in that unchangeable word, is already as fixed and certain as when it shall be openly revealed; as when “ the kingdom, and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High ;” as when the world to come shall be subjected to Man and the Son of Man (Psa. viii.; Heb ii.), and God's own Likeness shall appear.

But who amongst us is now fit to shew forth the image of God? who is prepared to exercise authority in the kingdom of


2 G

[ocr errors]

Christ? to which of us could he say, “Receive the answer of thy prayers ; Go, rule for me in my kingdom ?Conscience must tell each one that for this he is unprepared; and it is the very point to which the Lord would have us driven, that we may lose no more time in speculation, and no more rest satisfied in a mere knowledge of the purposes of God, as an intellectual inquiry; but, feeling the personal responsibility which such knowledge involves, may seek earnestly from God, and labour incessantly to attain, that preparation of heavenly wisdom and perfect holiness by which we may walk worthy of our high vocation, and be ready to take our appointed stations in the kingdom of heaven, whensoever the Lord shall call.

Every ordinance of God is a mean for calling forth the various faculties of rule which the administration of the kingdom of heaven will require. In a Christian kingdom they are shewn forth in the gradations of rank and delegations of authority, by which subordination of the members is made a continual recognition of the one supreme Head. In families the same truths are taught on a smaller scale : rule is shewn in the parents to the children in its most gentle and tender form ; the loving restraint, the fatherly chastisement, and the instructed obedience of sons who know their father's will, as soon as they are capable of understanding it. And in master and servant is set forth the absolute rule and the implicit obedience which good government sometimes requires, and which God will exact from all who refuse to be dealt with as children. God will allow of no independence in the kingdom of heaven ; and they who refuse the call now made to 'be wise, they who will not be instructed, they who kiss not the Son now, shall be ruled with the rod of iron in the day when the Lord shall set his King upon the holy hill of Zion, and give Him the heathen for his inheritance and the uttermost parts of the earth for his possession. (Psal. i.)

But the church is the chief ordinance of God for shewing the pattern of the administration of his kingdom, and for training the heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ Jesus for the rule of the world to come, which shall be put in subjection to Man, in order that the name of the LORD, our Lord, may excellent through all the earth. (Psa. viii.) The church is a polity so complete in itself as to represent on a small scale the kingdom of heaven, and to furnish means whereby all the expectants of that kingdom may be prepared for the exercise of that rule to which they are called. The calling is to all; and no one is without some talent to occupy, or some pound to negotiate, during the present time of expectancy and occupation, during the absence of the Lord and the preparation for his return. In proportion to our diligence in the use of what is


given now, will be the reward and authority and joy in the kingdom of heaven. Every man receiveth a gift, according to his several ability (Matt. xxv. 15): he who hath fully improved the gift is received with welcome on his Lord's return :

is Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy Lord ;” or," have thou authority

! over ten cities” (Luke xix. 17).

We have often had occasion to shew what a glorious display of the purpose of God is exhibited in a true church; his Fatherly love to all, in that the whole church is called ; and all are alike partakers of the ordinances and privileges, and all alike responsible for the use or abuse of these gifts of God. Elective love is a still deeper mystery, and shewn forth in the church of the first-born whose names are enrolled in heaven, to be revealed in the last day, and till then known only to the Father. And the last and fullest display, of the purpose of God in the church, is made at the manifestation of the new Jerusalem coming down from heaven, - Christ and his bride, the King and the queen, the Head and the body, the whole Christ, the church universal, the perfected temple of God; in which God and the Lamb shall dwell for evermore; and from thence, and by the church, shall govern all created things; the throne of Christ being also the throne of the church, and granted to every one that overcometh (Rev. iii. 21); Christ and his church being manifested as the fulness of Him that filleth all in all (Eph. i. 23).

The surpassing dignity and exceeding weight of glory for which man is designed in the purpose of God, and to which the human nature hath already attained in Christ Jesus, is not sufficiently prized, is not enough insisted on, as the calling of every one to whom the Gospel is preached. It is this deficiency in our apprehension of the purpose of God when he made man in his own image, which renders our perception defective concerning the purpose for which we were apprehended of Christ Jesus, and slackens our pace in pressing toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. And hence we have not our conversation continually in heaven ; and look not at all, or look only as a secondary thing, to the coming again from heaven of the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself. (Phil. ii.)

The doctrine of the purpose of God in the creation of man has been drawn out with great clearness by the late Mr. Vaughan of Leicester; and he also clearly apprehended and strongly expressed the importance of a church, and the dignity

with which she is invested in being made the instrument of evolving and manifesting the most glorious of the purposes of God. But so little has the faith of this generation been exercised on these doctrines of full-grown men, that the great majority of professing Christians have been unable to feed on this strong meat, being content with the milk of babes; while some have ignorantly perverted the former doctrine into Universalism, and the latter into Popery. These errors are not chargeable upon the doctrine, nor upon those who have promulgated it: they arise from the weakness and ignorance of the church, and can only be cured by a fresh infusion from above of health and vigour into the church, and the reiteration of the same doctrines; which stronger faith will receive and turn into the nourishment and growth of grace, instead of perverting them to poison, and gendering thereby the seeds of death.

God shall accomplish his own purpose, as expressed in his own word; the opposition of Satan shall not frustrate it, the backwardness of this generation shall not long delay it; the faith already given to some shall speedily be imparted to all the true servants of God, and his sealed ones be thereby prepared to follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth.

The first step to that enlargement of faith which produces entire devotion to Christ and patient waiting for the kingdom of heaven, is wisdom to discern the purpose of God as revealed in Scripture. “Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God(Rom. x. 17). The wisdom given to man for comprehending the purpose of God, is the counterpart and image of that Eternal Wisdom set up from everlasting in the eternal Son of God, “from the beginning, or ever the earth was" (Prov. viii. 23). And Christ, from all eternity the prototype of man, did from everlasting joy hiinself in the contemplation of his own completed purpose ; when man shall become the antitype of Christ, and the perfect image of God; rejoicing always before his Father; rejoicing in the habitable parts of his earth, and having his delights with the sons of men (ver. 31). And Wisdom crieth, and Understanding putteth forth the voice, saying, Unto you,


men; I call; and my voice is to the sons of men. Oye simple, understand wisdom ; and, ye fools, be ye of an understanding heart. Hear: for I will speak of excellent things; and the opening of my lips shall be of right things. They are all plain to him that understandeth, and right to them that find knowledge (Prov, vii, 1, 4, 9).

And the first lesson of Wisdom is to teach man the height of his calling; to teach him what God designed when he said. “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness” (Gen. i. 26): that man is the only being in which the perfect image of God is manifested, and as the representative of God was invested by the



Creator with authority over every other work of his hands : " Let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.” “But we see not yet all things put under him: but we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour” (Heb. ii.)—he hath through suffering reascended to his primæval glory—“that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man : for it became him for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory to make the Captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings” (Heb. ii.). He suffered as our Captain and Example; that we following in his footsteps, may be perfected through suffering, and as sons of God attain to fellowship with him in the glory and honour with which he is already crowned. "Father, I will that they also whom thou hast given me be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me " (John xvii. 24). “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne; even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne" (Rev. iii. 21).

The next lesson of Wisdom is to teach us the condescension of Christ in taking upon himself our fallen nature, in order to renew in us the image of God, which we had lost by the fall; to open the kingdom of heaven to every one that would believe on him and keep his commandments ; to give to all such believers the assurance that they may come to God as a reconciled Father, who will give them all things needful for them in this life, and in the world to come life and glory everlasting. many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God... The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit that we are the children of God : and if children, then heirs ; heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together” (Rom. viii. 17).

The next lesson of Wisdom is to teach, to those who know their own weakness and insufficiency, the strength and the fulness which are provided for them in Christ Jesus ;-that He became one with us in weakness, that we by faith might become one with him and lay hold on his everlasting strength ;-that he took of our flesh, to impart to us his Spirit; that he might thus receive all the glory, from whom all the strength to overcome is derived. “Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. For in that he himself hath suffered, being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted (Heb. ii. 18). “Seeing; then, that we have a great high priest,

- For as

« ForrigeFortsæt »