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let us rather pray with all sincerity, that God, who gives all grace,
will increase our faith and our love ; and that the great day of our last account may be for ever as present to our minds, as the things which we see and hear around us are present to our eyes and ears.
MATTHEW vi. 10.
Thy kingdom come. No words can be more familiar to every ear than these : they are a part of the Lord's Prayer, which is used by almost every one who ever prays at all: and as such most of us, perhaps, repeat them with our lips every day. But perhaps also, our very familiarity with them makes us think less about them; we repeat them from habit, without considering what it is that we are saying. It is, indeed, a prayer in which none but a sincere Christian can join at all, and in which we shall join more heartily, exactly in proportion to our advancement in goodness. But those who are Christ's soldiers, who have really begun to fight under his banner, and know by experience how hard and how dangerous is their warfare, they have learnt to wish from their hearts for the overthrow of all their Master's enemies, and the establishment of his kingdom in peace, that they too may enter into their rest, and may serve him without disturbance.
The complete and proper notion of the king
dom of God is a state in which God is owned as King, and obeyed by his people. Heaven, , therefore, is the kingdom of God in the fullest sense; for there God reigns over willing subjects, and his will is theirs also. In the heart of every good Christian, again, the kingdom of God exists, truly, though imperfectly: for a good Christian not only calls, but really feels, Christ to be his Master ;-the purpose of his heart is to offer him an entire and willing obedience;—and whatever of rebellion there may be in his thoughts, words, and actions, is earnestly repented of, and gradually more and more subdued. In a third sense, but a far lower one, and greatly corrupted from the gracious design of its heavenly Founder, the whole company of professing Christians is called in Scripture the kingdom of Heaven, or of God. It is called so, because every Christian nominally acknowledges God to be his King, and has promised to render him true obedience. It is called so further, because God promised to be present with the Church of Christ, in an especial manner, to the end of the world ; that they should be his people, and he would be their God, inasmuch as he would dwell in them by his Spirit, enlightening their minds, and purifying their hearts into a resemblance to himself. But this kingdom of God on earth, which was proclaimed after the descent of the Holy Ghost on the day of Pentecost, and which should have been as truly deserving of the name as the kingdom of God in heaven, has from its first beginning to this very hour belied its title by its practice. Christians have refused their God and King obedience in deed, even while bowing the knee before him, and saying, “ Hail, Mas
, ter!” And therefore, although in this imperfect and nominal sense, the kingdom of God has been established for nearly eighteen hundred years, yet we still do, and still justly may, make it a part of our daily prayer, that the “ kingdom of God may come;"-may come, that is, not in word only, but in power ;-may contain, not a mingled mass of false and true subjects, as it does now, but those only whose hearts are truly devoted to their Sovereign, and who are resolved in sincerity to follow him whithersoever he may call them.
When the kingdom of God first began to be preached, the kingdom of Satan offered it a direct opposition. Men were persecuted for professing the very name of Christ; and many of them were called upon, after the example of their Master, to resist unto blood, striving against sin. But in this warfare Christ's kingdom gained ground daily : his servants were naturally driven by the dangers to which they were exposed from without, to draw closer to him and to each other; they were strengthened with might by his Spirit, and the effect of their Master's principles was such as to make even their enemies confess that God was in them of a truth. But soon Satan learnt to
their progress more artfully. Resistance appeared to fail before them; from being persecuted, they became triumphant; kings professed the name of Christ, and the idols of the heathen perished from before his face. His servants were ready to join in the hymn of the Apostle, kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of the Lord and of his Christ.” But the snare of their enemy meanwhile fully succeeded : the kingdoms of the world became in name the kingdoms of Christ, only to make the kingdom of Christ in reality a kingdom of the world. Christ's servants were flattered and honoured till they began to relax their watchfulness, and to go less earnestly to their Lord for the support and guidance of his Spirit. So their lives grew more and more like those of the servants of Satan : the salt of the earth lost its saltness, and thus became the most worthless thing in the world; and of this mixture between Christians and men of low worldly principles, it might be said, in the words of the book of Genesis, " the voice was Jacob's voice,