Billeder på siden

of God,"* hath triumphed over all opposition, and is still going forth


[ocr errors]

conquering, and to

It is thus the Spirit of God addresses the Messiah, in portraying his success in the establishing of his empire: "Gird thy sword upon thy thigh, O Most Mighty, with thy glory and thy majesty. And in thy majesty ride prosperously, because of truth and meekness and righteousness; and thy right hand shall teach thee terrible things. Thine arrows are sharp in the heart of the king's enemies; whereby the people fall under thee." Truth, meekness, and righteousness are the weapons of his warfare, and the rod of his strength. They "shall be willing in the day of thy power;" they are a conquered, yet a willing people; they submit to his power, but cheerfully and gladly embrace his sceptre their will itself is so changed, their hearts so touched, that they become "like the chariots of Ammi-nadib.❞ §

Other potentates extend their empire by force, and by imposing their yoke on reluctant necks; Jesus Christ by love, and by exhibiting a matchless example of condescension and [mercy.]

2. The glory of this kingdom is conspicuous in the principles by which it is administered. Of this Prince it is truly said, "Righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins. He shall not judge after the sight of his


2 Cor. iv. 2.
Psalm xlv. 3--5.

+ Rev. vi. 2.

§ Cant. vi. 12.

eyes, nor reprove after the hearing of his ears: but with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth.”* The sceptre of his dominion is grace: grace displayed in the gospel, grace communicated by the Spirit, is the grand instrument of maintaining his empire. He reveals his glory and imparts his benefits, and thereby attaches his subjects by ties at once the most forcible and the most engaging.

A lovely assemblage of qualities characterises the spirit and genius of his divine administration; an incomparable majesty, united to a most endearing condescension-a spirit of benignity, joined to impartial justice, distinguishes his conduct. Though the subjects of this kingdom are admitted to it on no other condition than a cordial approbation of the character of the Prince, they are not left lawless or uncontrolled: the revelation of the divine will is imparted; the most perfect measure of holiness, and rules of conduct, are enjoined on the conscience and impressed on the heart. This administration exhibits, throughout, a beautiful model of the moral government of God, attempered to the state of creatures who have fallen from their original rectitude, but are under a dispensation of mercy. A system of paternal justice is carried into execution throughout this empire; in consequence of which the disobedient are punished that they may not be condemned with the world. The gradations of favours are regulated by the Sovereign with the

*Isaiah xi. 3-5.

most impartial justice; and future rewards distributed [with exquisite propriety and rectitude.]

Human administrations extend only to outward actions, and are conducted entirely by external and visible instruments. Were we not united to a fleshly fabric, they would be incapable of reaching us; so that they extend more properly to the bodies than to the souls of men. The dominion of Christ is chiefly spiritual and internal: the soul is the subject of his authority, where he dwells by faith. It extends to the remotest sentiments of the mind, "casting down high imaginations, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ."* It is not the object of our outward senses; it is within us, consisting not in "meats and drinks, but in righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost."+

The benefits which human governments impart are principally of a negative kind, consisting in the removal of those checks and restraints which the unreasonable passions of men urge them to impose on each other's enjoyments. The utmost that the wisest earthly government can for the most part effect, is to overawe the mischievous, to

II. It is glorious with respect to the manner in which it is administered: "The God of Israel said, The Rock of Israel spake to me, He that ruleth over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God.

* 2 Cor. x. 5.

Rom. xiv. 17.

And he shall be as the light when the sun ariseth, even as a morning without clouds; as the tender grass springing out of the earth by the clear shining after rain.”*

The most essential quality in a virtuous administration, is justice. This property is most conspicuous in the government of Christ over his people. He confers no benefit upon them but what is compatible with the strictest rectitude, having previously made a sufficient atonement for their transgressions. And in every part of his administration, "righteousness is the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins."+ With perfect equity he apportions the degrees of his favour to the respective measures of their attachment and obedience. He will render to such of his subjects rewards, not properly on account of their works, but "according to their works." He employs the pure and holy law of God, as the invariable rule of their conduct, and shews how to make such a use of its terrors and sanctions, as is subservient to his gracious designs; restraining by fear those who are not susceptible of more liberal and generous motives. As it first convinced them of sin, so it is, in his hands, the instrument of such convictions as the measure of their offence may require; and, by alarming and awakening the conscience, it excites to repentance, vigilance, and prayer: "As many as I love, I rebuke," is his language; "be zealous therefore, and * 2 Sam. xxiii. 3, 4. + Isaiah xi: 5. Matt. xvi. 27.

[ocr errors]

repent,' "for I have not found thy works perfect before God."+

His dominion is at the same time most gentle, gracious, and benign. Grace, as I have said, is the sceptre of his empire; and that grace is imparted by the Spirit. His reign is indeed "the reign of grace." He reveals his glory, he manifests ineffable majesty and beauty, whereby he captivates the hearts of his subjects, and "draws them with the cords of a man, and the bands of love."§ With the most tender compassion he “ delivers the needy when he crieth, the poor, and him that hath no helper. He spares the poor and the needy, and saves the souls of the needy:"|| "When the poor and the needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongue faileth for thirst, I the Lord will hear them, I the God of Israel will not forsake them. I will open rivers in high places, and fountains in the midst of the valleys: I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water."¶

In earthly kingdoms the subjects are governed merely by general laws, which are, of necessity, very imperfectly adapted to the infinite variety of cases that occur. The combinations of human action are too numerous and diversified to be adequately included in any general regulation or enactment; whence has arisen the maxim, "Summum jus summa injuria," that a strict adherence to + Rev. iii. 2. Rom. v. 21. Psalm lxxii. 13. Isaiah xli. 17, 18.

*Rev. iii. 19. § Hos. xi. 4.

« ForrigeFortsæt »