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account it is said of him, that before Pontius Pilate he wit. nessed a good confession,' i Tim. vi. 13.
From all which it is evident, that our Lord Jesus is a King. Yea, le is King of kings, and hath a pre-eminence over them all; and therefore he is called the Prince of the kings of the earth. And indeed he must needs be so; for it is by him that kings reign and princes decree justice. They all hold their crowns, by immediate tenure from this great King. And he infinitely outvies them all; having the highest throne, the largest dominions, and the longest pos. session.
II. I proceed to shew the nature of Christ's kingdom, or what sort of a kingdom it is. Christ has a twofold kingdom.
1. An essential kingdom. He is Lord and King over all the creatures by nature, inasmuch as he is the eternal Son of God, equal with his Father in all things. In this respect he has an universal empire, which extends over all things in heaven and earth, yea and to hell itself. He is the sole Monarch of the whole world; and all the princes and potentates of the earth are but his vicegerents that govern under, and should rule for him. He is the blessed and only Po. tentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords, as the apostle styles him, 1 Tim. vi. 15.
2. He has an economical or Mediatory kingdom. Originally the kingdom belongs to him as God, and derivatively it belongs to him as God-man and Mediator. He is constituted King by divine appointment and institution, I have set my King upon my holy hill of Zion. He is invested with authority over all the creatures; hence it is said, Eph. i. 22. . God hath put all things under his feet.' He rules from sea to sea, and to the ends of all the earth, yea to the ut. most bounds of God's creation. He hath given him power over all flesh,' as this King himself says, John xvii. 2. All things are subject to his government, and ready to fulfil his pleasure, when he issues his word of command
The church is his peculiar and special kingdom. God • hath given him to be head over all things to the church,' Eph. i. 22. This kingdom is a spiritual kingdom: hence he says, "My kingdom is not of this world, John xviii. 36. The king thereof appeared not in worldly pomp and grandeur, attended with a splendid equipage, surrounded with
rth the law, ancompare Isa. ii. hg in the day
armed guards, or having a brilliant and magnificent court, but in spiritual splendor, suited to the nature of his kingdom, Zech. ix. 9. forecited. His throne is in the heavens, not on earth, Psal. cx. 1. His sceptre is a spiritual one, the word of God, which he wields for the good of his people; it is the rod of his strength, which he sends out of Zion, and by the instrumentality of it he makes them willing in the day of his power, Psal. cx. 2, 3. Compare Isa. ii. 3. "Out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. The subjects of this kingdom are spiritual men, born of God, begotten of the word of truth, the incorruptible seed of the word, John i. 12. The way of its admini. stration is spiritual, reaching neither men's bodies nor purses, but their consciences; the weapons' of it not being carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds,' 2 Cor. x. 4. Its laws are spiritual, reaching the innermost parts of the heart; and the benefits of it are spiritual, righteousness, peace, joy in the Holy Ghost,' &c.
The administration of his government with respect to this kingdom is either external or internal.
.1. It is external; and that again is either more general, or more particular. (1.) More general, in the course of his providence. He as Mediator has a providential influence on all the affairs of this world, ordering and determining them to the special benefit and interest of his people. Hence it is that all things work together for the good of those who love God. We have an admirable scheme of divine providence in Ezek. i. There you may see how all the wheels, i.e. motions and revolutions here in this inferior world, are guided and directed by the Spirit that is in them; and in verse 26. it is all run up into the supreme cause: there you find one like the Son of man, which is Jesus Christ, sitting upon the throne, and giving forth orders for the government of all. (2.) It is more particular, in his appointing laws, ordinances, and officers, in his church, to manage and govern it, and to inflict censures upon scandalous offenders.
2. It is internal, in the hearts of his people. He subdues them to himself in a day of power, writés his laws upon their hearts, and rules and governs them, In this respect it is said, Luke xvii. 21. "The kingdom of God is within you. There he sits enthroned King, and sways his royal sceptre. But more of this anon.
III. The acts of Christ's kingly office may be reduced to these heads, viz. subduing sinners to himself, ruling and governing them, defending and protecting them, restraining his own and their enemies, and conquering them. Of each of these I shall treat in order.'
First, Christ exercises his kingly office in subduing a people to himself, making them willing in the day of his power to submit to his authority and sceptre, Psal. cx. 3. and so subjecting them to him as willing subjects. For this end consider,
1. That the great design of Christ's kingly office as Mediator is to raise up to himself a kingdom in the bowels of the kingdoms of the earth, Acts xv. 14. and to make the subjects of men the subjects of the divine Mediator. So that those who will not allow a spiritual kingdom within a temporal one, refuse Christ to be King.
2. Our Lord has a right to this kingdom, having purchased it with his blood, Acts xx. 28. He comes not without a title to conquer, but has the title of his Father's gift, and his own purchase. Ere he could attain to the possession of this kingdom, he behoved to swim through a sea of bloody sufferings, and he purchased every subject with the immense price of his precious blood. Thus his title is indefeasible.
3. Though our Lord has this just right to the kingdom, yet his subjects have sworn allegiance to the prince of darkness, and are in actual rebellion against him. That is the common character of them, which we have Tit. iii. 3. “We ourselvęs also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another. And they will never yield to him, till they be overcome by his mighty power. He gets no subjects but by stroke of sword, and the exertion of the same power that was put forth in his own resurrection.
4. Christ as a King doth by power overcome them at length, and makes them willingly submit to him, renounce obedience to the devil, the world, and their own base lusts, his enemies, and causes them cheerfully stoop to the yoke of his obedience, and to say, as Isa. xxvi. 13. O Lord our God, other lords besides thee have had dominion over us : but by thee only will we make mention of thy name.'. .
5. The weapons wherewith Christ subdues his subjects are
his word and Spirit, whereby they are effectually convinced of their sin and rebellion, and reduced to subjection to him, The word is the rod of his power, by which he has subdued nations to himself. It was by this word that in the primi. tive times he overturned the empire of the devil, silenced the heathen oracles, and demolished the Pagan idolatrous wor. ship. And because the word comes to many without the Spirit, therefore Christ has many subjects in appearance only, mere pretenders to loyalty to him; they are really the subjects of Satan, and only feign submission to Zion's King. But where the Spirit comes with the word, there the heart is subjected to Christ in very deed, 2 Cor. x. 4; and Christ has a kingdom not only among them, but within them.
Secondly, Christ exercises his kingly office in ruling and governing his subjects. No kingdom can be without a go. vernment; and Christ's kingdom must needs be an orderly kingdom, which he himself governs as the supreme Head and Monarch. Now,
1. Forasmuch as the church is a visible society on earth, whose bead is in heaven, Christ governs them externally.
(1.) Giving them laws according to which they are to demean themselves every way towards God and towards their neighbour, Isa. xxxii. 22. • The Lord is our Lawgiver.' Those laws which are the laws of the kingdom of Christ, are written in the Bible, and are a transcript of his perfections, and derive all their authority and vigour from him alone, and not from the church, or any body of men whatever. And none haye power to add to or diminish from the laws of this great King.
(2.) He gives them officers, in whose hands he has lodged this government, who are to be accountable to him for their administration, on whom they depend, and from whom they derive their power. These are neither Pope nor prelates, none of these being officers of Chțist's appointment; nor yet the civil magistrate, who as such is not so much as a member of the church ; and while there were no magistrates but what were enemies to the church and the cause of Christ, yet Christ appointed a government therein ; as appears from 1 Cor. xii. 28. God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues. But these officers are preaching and
ruling elders; as is clear from what the apostle says, 1 Tim. V: 17. Let the elders that rule well, be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine.
(3.) He gives discipline and censures to controul the unruly, and check the scandalous, and keep the society clean; to which all that own Christ as a King ought to be subject, who rules his people by church-discipline, as well as teaches them by the ministry of men. This appears from what our Lord himself says, Mat. xviii. 17, 18. If he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church; but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man, and a publican. Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth, shall be bound in heaven, and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth, shall be loosed in heaven.'
2. But seeing Christ is God, and his laws reach the inner man, which lies open to no other but himself, he governs his people internally.
(i.) Writing his law in their hearts, in consequence of the divine promise, Heb. viii. 10. holding forth their duty to them by an inward evidence, making thein to know what his will and pleasure is, that they may obey it from the heart. Hence he says, Isa. xxx. 21. - Thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left.'
: (2.) He powerfully inclines and over-rules them by his Spirit unto obedience, while he sits at the helm, and steers the ship of the soul what way he will, Acts xx. 22. To which we may add,
(3.) Those secret rewards and corrections which are sent from his own hand; while he bestows on them spiritual comforts and soul-feasts when in the way of their duty, and gives them such strokes for their correction, even for secret faults, as may let them see, that though their King be in heaven, yet he judges on the earth. Hence he says to the church of Pergamos, Rev. ii. 17. To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth, saving he that receiveth it. And to the church of the Laodiceans he says, Rev. iii. 19. “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten.' · Thirdly, Christ executes his kingly office in defending his