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into exercise that confidence in God which is the best security against the terrours of the world.
In times of apparent danger, and threatening temptation, they have need to be peculiarly watchful. Let them deliberately inquire, whither Providence calls them; and, having found the line of their duty, pursue it with calm resolution, and steady reliance on the divine protection.
We are never so safe, as when we invariably follow the path of virtue and integrity. He who walks uprightly, walks surely; but he who perverts his way, shall fall. Duplicity and artifice, to avoid an evil, will but embarrass us the more. It was only a special, gracious interposition, which prevented most fatal consequences, from the patriarch's unworthy device.
While we aim to act with integrity ourselves, let us remember the weakness of human nature, and treat with candour the failings of our fellow men. We see weakness and errour in so good a man as Abraham. We are to look for perfection in none. Nor ought we, for particular faults, to withdraw our charity from men of general integrity and virtue. The candour of Abimelech was great and noble. While he reproved Abraham in one instance, of unworthy conduct, he acknowledged him as a good man and a prophet of God. He sought his prayers, and solicited his friendship, being persuaded that God was with him. We may reprove a good man's faults; but for particular faults, which are an exception from a general character, we must condemn no man's person. Let us walk in that charity, which hopeth all things; for this will cov er a multitude of sins.
LUKE xvii. 20, 217
And when he was demanded of the Pharisees; When the kingdom of God should come; he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: Neither shall they say, Lo here; or, la there; for behold, the kingdom of God is within you.
THIS phrase, the kingdom of God, is frequently used in the new testament; and it signifies either that state of glory, to which good men will be exalted in the future world, or the gospel dispensation, and the church of God in this world. The latter is the more common acceptation, and evidently intended in the text. The question of the Pharisees, When shall the kingdom of God appear? manifestly respected the kingdom of the Messiah, or that dispensation which he was to introduce. Christ, in his answer, uses the phrase in the same sense, only correcting their mistake concerning its nature, and the manner of its introduction and es tablishment.
At the time of our Saviour's appearance, there prevailed a general expectation of him. This ex
pectation was grounded on the prophecies, which had expressly foretold the certainty, and accurately stated the time of his coming. But the prophecies, which described the manner of his appearance, were grossly misapprehended by most of the Jews, and especially by the Pharisees. The grand and lofty figures representing the power of his doctrines, they understood as expressing the majesty of his temporal dominion, and the splendour of his earthly court.
They demanded of Jesus, when the kingdom of God should come; meaning, when would the Messiah come to erect his kingdom in Judea, and to deliver the Jews from the oppressions of a foreign power. Jesus had declared himself to be the promised Messiah. But there was nothing in his condition, which answered to their ideas of his temporal reign. 'Instead of that wealth and power, that splendid court and numerous host, with which they expected he would be attended, they saw him poor and humble, and only accompanied with a few disciples of ordinary birth and character. They therefore demand of him, "When is that kingdom of God to be erected, which the scripture foretels?"-Are you the Messiah ?-Where is your kingdom ?Can you be the important person, who is the subject of so many notable predictions?-Was all that pomp of prophetick language wasted only to point out a man like you ?
Jesus tells them, they wholly misunderstood the intention of prophecy, which was to foretel, not a temporal, but a siritual kingdom. The kingdom of God cometh not with observation, or with externai parade and show; but with moral and internal power and influence. Neither shall men have occasion to say, Behold, it is here; or behold, it is there. It will not, as you imagine, be confined to Judea, or to any particular place:For behold the kingdom
of God is within you, or among you: And it will be extended wherever my doctrines are preached. It will reach from one part under heaven, unto the other part under heaven. So he adds, verse 24.-This kingdom is already begun among you, being preached by me and my disciples, and confirmed by the evidence of my works; and soon it will spread around, and bless other nations of the earth. Seek it not in this, or in that particular place; know that it is come to you already: Submit now to its authority; secure its blessings, where ye are.
The illustration of these words-The kingdom of God cometh not with observation, will lead us to some important thoughts on the nature and design of the gospel, and prepare our way for some useful -reflections.
1. The manner, in which the gospel was first introduced, was without external show and ostentation.
Wordly kingdoms are usually erected and supported by the power of arms. The princes of the world, the better to command the respect and obedience of their subjects, are distinguished by riches, splendour and equipage. But the kingdom of Christ was introduced without any of these forms of pomp and grandeur.
He came, meek and lowly, publishing peace, and bringing salvation to mankind.
John, his forerunner, appeared in the wilderness, preaching repentance, and warning men to flee from the wrath to come. His humble habit, and austere . manner of life, were suited to the doctrine which he preached.
Jesus himself was born in an obscure family, and educated in a manner below the common rank of people. He grew up as a root out of dry ground. There was in him no form or comliness to captivate the admiration of earthly pride. He entered on
his publick ministry with solemn fasting; and was consecrated to his work by the washing appointed for the priests under the law. To prove his divine authority, he performed many miracles; but these were of the mild and benevolent, not of the showy and ostentatious kind. He exerted his heavenly power, not, as a worldly conqueror would wish to do, in overturning kingdoms, and spreading destruction among his enemies; but in relieving the distressed, feeding the hungry, healing the sick, and giving sight to the blind. He was not attended with armed bands to defend his person, but with a few disciples to assist in spreading his doctrines. He laboured, not to raise himself to wealth and power, but to promote truth and righteousness among our degenerate race. He displayed his dignity, not in revenging injuries, but in continual exercises of mercy and forgiveness; and gained subjects, not by the force and terrour of the sword, but by the persuasive influence of reason and goodness. He closed the scene, not by dealing death among his ene. mies, but by dying for their salvation. His last prayer was, not for vengeance, but for pardon to those who compassed his death. And when he ascended on high, the language of his lips was in blessings of peace, not in imprecations of wrath.
2. The external dispensation of Christ's kingdom is without ostentation.
His laws are plain and easy to be understood, and delivered in language level to common apprehension. The motives, by which obedience is urged, are pure and spiritual, taken not from this, but the future world. His institutions are few and simple, adapted to our condition, and suited to warm and engage the heart.
When the law was given from Sinai, the people prayed-Let Moses speak, and we will hear; but let not God speak, lest we die. The pomp and ma