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ON CHRIST IN HIS REIGN.
Among the numerous prophecies of Scripture, which declare the coming, and depict the character and offices, of our Lord Jesus Christ, there are few which do not make some mention of his reign in glory. The very name by which he was known among the ancient Jews was indeed immediately connected with his regality. The Messiah-the anointed one -who was to sit for ever on the throne of David, proclaiming restoration to Israel, and dispensing judgment and righteousness to the world at large, was the object their fondest expectations; and these expectations were founded on the declarations of holy men of old, who "spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost:" 1 Pet. i, 21.
In many of the predictions alluded to, the description of the reign of the Messiah is combined with various details respecting the prior circumstances of his mission: as in Mic. v. 2, 3 : Zech. ix, 9. Others of them, however, relate to Christ solely in his character of a monarch. "I will declare the decree,' said the Messiah, in the second Psalm, "JEHOVAH hath said unto me, Thou art my Son: this day have I begotten thee. Ask of me, and I will give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession. Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron: thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel. Be wise now, therefore, O ye kings! be instructed, ye judges of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him:" 7--12: comp. Acts xiii, 33 : Heb. i, v. In another of the Psalms, a sublime description of Israel's Messiah is presented to us under the type of the "king's son:" "He shall come down like rain upon the mown grass, as showers that water the earth. In his days shall the righteous flourish, and abundance of peace so long as the moon endurethi He shall have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the river to the ends of the earth. They that dwell in the wilderness shall bow before him, and his enemies shall lick the dust. . . . . . . Yea, all kings shall fall down before him; all nations shall serve him. For he shall deliver the needy when he crieth, the poor also, and him that hath no helper. He shall spare the poor and needy, and shall save the souls of the needy His name shall endure for ever. His name shall be
continued as long as the sun; and men shall be blessed in him all nations shall call him blessed :" Ps. lxxii, 6—–9. 11-13. 17.
The Prince of Peace" was one of the most distinguishing titles of the child who was to be born of a virgin. "Of the increase of his government and peace," exclaims the prophet, "there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it and to establish it with judgment and with justice, from henceforth and even for ever:" Isa. ix, 6, 7. Again, "He shall not fail, nor be discouraged, until he have set judgment in the earth and the isles shall wait for
his law" Isa. xlii, 4.
"Therefore will I save my flock," said Jehovah by his prophet Ezekiel," and they shall no more be a prey, and I will judge between cattle and cattle. And I will set up one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them, even my servant DAVID; he shall feed them, and he shall be their shepherd. And I, the Lord, will be their God, and my servant David a prince amongst them. . . . . . . And I will raise up for them a plant of renown, and they shall be no more consumed with hunger in the land, neither bear the shame of the heathen any more" ch. xxxiv, 22--29.
In the vision of Nebuchadnezzar, recorded by Daniel, the kingdom which the "God of heaven" would "set up"-that is, doubtless, the kingdom of the Messiah-was represented by the stone cut out without hands, which "became a great mountain and filled the whole earth;" and that eminent prophet has recorded the particulars of another glorious revelation, which was made, on the same subject, to himself: "I saw in the night-visions," says he, "and behold one like the son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of Days, and they brought him near before him. And there was given him dominion and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed:" vii, 13, 14.
Such are a few of the declarations of ancient prophecy respecting that son of David and son of God, who was to arise in due season, to be the Shepherd and Prince of Israel, and the supreme governor of the world at large. Other predictions of a similar import may be found in 2 Sam. vii, 12—17: comp. Heb. i, 5: Ps. xlv, 1-7: comp. Heb. i, 8, 9; cx, 1—4: comp. Matt. xxii, 44: Heb. i, 13: Isa. xxxii, 1, 2; lv, 3, 4: comp. Acts xiii, 34: Jer. xxiii, 5, 6; xxxiii, 15: Ezek. xxxvii, 21 -24: Dan. ix, 25: Mic. v, 2--4: comp. Matt. ii, 6: Zech. ix, 9, 10: comp. Matt. xxi, 5.
I have not hesitated to cite these numerous prophecies as directly applicable to our subject, because their relation to the Messiah is, for the most part, acknowledged by both Jews and Christians. For, although some of the Jews have attempted, by a strained interpretation, to apply a very few of these predictions solely to their temporal monarchs; and although, in this work of perversion, the Christian commentator has now and then very strangely supported them; yet, on a general view of these numerous, yet accordant, passages, it must, I think, be confessed, by all who acknowledge the divine authority of the Old Testament, that the great person whose character and circumstances are thus unfolded is he whom, from the tenor and language of these very prophecies, the Hebrews have so long been accustomed to denominate the Messiah. Now, the Christian, who is thus far accompanied by the Jew, is of course prepared to advance a step farther, and to allow that the Anointed King of Israel, of whom the prophets have so explicitly testified, is no other than Jesus Christ, the Head of his own church-" the King of Kings, and Lord of Lords ;" (Rev. xix, 16;) and in this conclusion he is amply confirmed, not only by that internal evidence which so powerfully bespeaks for these predictions an evangelical interpretation, but by the direct application of many of them to our Saviour, in the inspired volume of the New Testament: see Matt. xxi, 5; xxii, 44: Acts xiii, 33, 34: Heb. i, 5. 8, 9. 13: Rev. ii, 27, &c. comp. Luke i, 30--33.
If, then, it be admitted that Jesus Christ is the true subject of all these descriptions, the inquiry immediately suggests itself, to what period of his recorded history they are more especially to be understood as applying; and the answer to this inquiry I conceive to be very plain. Although the Word, or Son of the Father, was the spiritual king of Israel before his incarnation, and although his divine authority over his people was sometimes exerted even during his abode on earth, yet, on a general view of the annals of evangelical truth, we can scarcely fail to perceive, that the precise application of these glowing predictions is to that part of the history of the Son of God which commenced with his ascension,-which still continues,-and which, as far as relates to the mediatorial economy, (and so far only) is represented as terminating in the great day of final and universal retribution.
After the Lord Jesus had conversed with his disciples, for many days, subsequently to his resurrection," he was taken up, and a cloud received him out of their sight:" Acts i, 9. Then it was, as we learn from other passages of Holy Writ, that he
entered into glory unsearchable and eternal. The "everlasting doors" of heaven were opened to receive their “King.” Having triumphed over all his spiritual enemies, and trodden on the serpent's head, the Son of God resumed his station " far above all heavens, that he might fill all things :" Eph. iv, 10. "Being the brightness of (the Father's) glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had, himself, purged our sins, (he) sat on the right hand of the Majesty on High:" Heb. i, 3. Then did the Father highly exalt him, and give him " a name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth, and that every tongue should confess, that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father:” Phil. ii, 9-11.
These and other passages in the writings of the evangelists and apostles, descriptive of the power and exaltation of the Messiah, admit of a close comparison with the prophecies already cited; and thus are we placed in possession of the corresponding testimony of the two constituent parts of the Bible to the same branch of Divine Truth-to the same part of the revealed history of the Son of God. Although, therefore, the accomplishment of these prophecies respecting the universal and unbounded reign of Jesus is to be regarded as progressive, and may be very far at present from its full completion, yet the commencement of that accomplishment is obviously to be fixed at the glorious period when he quitted the sphere of his personal humiliation,-when he "ascended up on high” and “led captivity captive.'
Having premised these observations respecting the part of our Lord's history to which the predictions cited above are most properly applicable, we may proceed to examine the information which may be derived from the scriptural descriptions of the Messiah's reign in glory, respecting the nature and character of the Messiah himself; and this examination will be the more interesting, because it relates to a period still continuing; and will therefore be the means of instructing us in what point of view we are ourselves to regard the Saviour of Mankind, and what are the dispositions and towards himself, which he is actually now requiring at our hands.
In the first place, then, I would observe, that the Messiah, in his reign, as well as in the preceding divisions of his history, is declared in Scripture to be the Mediator between God and Man. As God has redeemed, so he also governs, the world, through Jesus Christ; and, in this respect, as well as in many
others, Christ is the Way through whom alone we are brought near to God: John xiv, 6. All things in the Christian dispensation are described as being from, or of, and unto, the Father, and by, through, or in, the Son. "For, though there be that are called gods," says the apostle Paul," whether in heaven or in earth, (as there be gods many, and lords many) but to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in (or unto) him ;* and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him :" 1 Cor. viii, 5, 6. And, "in the dispensation of the fulness of times," the Father will "gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are in earth, even in him:" Eph. i, 10; comp. iv, 4-6.
Now, Christ, the Mediator between God and Man, is to be regarded as bearing the office, and as acting in the capacity, of a vicercy. The dominion which he exercises over the creatures of God is committed to him. The Father has highly exalted him, has given him a name above every name, (Phil. ii, 9 ;) has put all things under his feet, (Eph. i, 22;) has bestowed upon him those gifts and graces which Jesus is himself described as shedding forth upon mankind: Ps. lxviii, 18 Acts ii, 33. And, as Christ has thus received his kingdom, and all the powers by which he conducts it, at the hands of the Father, so also to him he is subject-to him he belongs. The Father is frequently represented as the God of our Lord Jesus Christ: Eph. i, 17: 1 Pet. i, 3. Jesus himself, in the Revelation, calls him "My God:" iii, 12. "The head of every man is Christ.... and the head of Christ is God:" 1 Cor. xi, 3. "Ye are Christ's," says the apostle to his converts, "and Christ is God's" 1 Cor. iii, 23.
These and other statements respecting the subjection of Christ, even during his reign in glory, to the Father who sent him, and from whom his kingdom was received, are rendered perfectly intelligible by the unquestionable fact, that our Saviour not only lived and died, but rose from the dead and ascended into heaven, a man. If we admit that Jesus of Nazareth was endued with a human soul, (and where is the unsophisticated reader of the four Gospels who will question the fact?) we must also admit, on principles already recognized, that, after he had expired on the cross, his soul continued to exist; and, continuing to exist, that soul was presently reunited to his body, which was raised on earth and glorified in heaven: Luke xxiv, 31-53: Acts i, 9-11: 1 Cor. xv, 44-49: Phil. iii,
* εἰς αὐτὸν