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went to their own company." Acts, 4:23. I know the subjects of both kingdoms are here mingled, and we cannot avoid the company of sinners except we go out of the world, 1 Cor. 5: 10; but yet all your delights should be in the saints, the excellent of the earth. Psalm 16: 3.
Do you live holy and righteous lives? If not, you may claim interest in Christ as your King, but he will never allow your claim. "The sceptre of his kingdom is at sceptre of righteousness." Psalm 45: 6. If ye oppress and defraud your brethren, and yet call yourselves Christ's subjects, what greater reproach can ye cast upon him? What, is Christ the King of fraud? No, no, renounce your false profession, and fall into your own place; you belong to another prince, and not to Christ.
3. Doth Christ exercise such a kingly power over the souls of all them that are subdued by the Gospel to him? Oh then let all that are under Christ's government walk as the subjects of such a King. Imitate your King; the example of kings is very influential upon their subjects. Your King hath commanded you not only to take his yoke upon you, but also to learn of him. Matt. 11:29. Yea, and "if any man say that he is Christ's, let him walk even as Christ walked." 1 John, 2: 6. Your king is meek and patient, Isa. 53: 7; as a lamb for meekness: shall his subjects be lions for fierceness? Your King was humble and lowly. Matt. 21:5. Will you be proud and lofty? doth this become the kingdom of Christ? Your King was a self-denying King; he could deny his comforts, ease, honor, life, to serve his Father's design and accomplish your salvation. 2 Cor. 89; Phil. 2: 1-8. Shall his servants be selfish and self-seeking persons, that will expose his honor and hazard their own souls for the trifles of time? God for bid! Your King was laborious, and diligent in fulfilling his work. John, 9: 4. Let not his servants be slothful
Oh imitate your King, follow his pattern: this will give you comfort now, and "boldness in the day of judgment; because as he is, so shall ye be in this world." 1 John, 4: 17.
THE KINGLY OFFICE OF CHRIST, AS PROVIDENTIALLY
"And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church." Eph. 1: 22.
The foregoing verses are thankful and humble adoration of the grace of God, in bringing the Ephesians to believe in Christ. This effect of his power is compared with that other glorious effect of it, the raising of Christ himself from the dead; both are from the same efficient cause. It raised Christ from a low estate, even from the dead, to a high, a very high and glorious state; to be the head both of the world and of the church; the head of the world by way of dominion, the head of the church by way of union and special influence, ruling the world for the good of his people in it. "He gave him to be the head over all things to the church." And here let these four things be seriously regarded.
1. The dignity and authority committed to Christ: "He hath put all things under his feet;" which implies full, ample, and absolute dominion in him, and subjection in them over whom he reigns. This power is delegated to him by the Father: for besides the essential, native power and dominion over all, which he hath as God, Psalm 22: 28, there is a dispensed authority, which is proper to him as Mediator, which he receives as the reward or fruit of his suffering. Phil. 2: 8.
2. The recipient of this authority is Christ, and Christ primarily and only: he is the first receptacle of all authority and power. Whatever authority any creature is clothed with, is but ministerial and derivative. Christ is the only Lord, Jude, 4, the fountain of all power.
3. The object of this authority is the whole creation; "all things" are put under his feet: he rules from sea to sea, even to the utmost bounds of God's creation. "Thou hast given him power over all flesh," John, 17:2; all creatures, rational and irrational, animate and inanimate, angels, devils, men, winds, seas, all obey him.
4. And especially notice the end for which he governs and rules the universal empire; it is for the church, that is, for the advantage, comfort, and salvation of those for whom he died. He purchased the church; and that he might have the highest security that his blood should not be lost, God the Father hath put all things into his hand, to order and dispose all as he pleaseth. Hence,
All the affairs of the kingdom of providence are ordered and determined by Jesus Christ, for the special advantage and everlasting good of his redeemed people.
"As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him." John, 17: 2. Hence it comes to pass that "all things work together for good to them that love God, to them that are the called according to his purpose." Rom. 8:28.
That Jesus Christ providentially controls all the affairs of this world, is evident both from scripture assertion, and from the observation of events.
The first chapter of Ezekiel contains an admirable scheme or draught of providence. There you see how all the wheels, that is, the motions and revolutions here on earth, are guided by the spirit that is in them. And,
verse 26, it is all resolved 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: and if it were not so, how is it that all events conspire to the fulfilment of his designs; as in Israel's deliverance out of Egypt and other innumerable instances? Certainly, if ten men, from different directions, should all meet at one place, and about one business, without any previous arrangement, it would argue that their motions were secretly overruled by some invisible agent. How is it that such marvellous effects are produced in the world by causes apparently so feeble? Amos, 5:9, and 1 Cor. 1:27; and that as often the most apt and likely means are rendered wholly ineffectual? Psalm 33:16. In a word, if Christ hath no such providential influence, how are his people in all ages preserved in the midst of so many millions of potent and malicious enemies, amongst whom they live as sheep in the midst of wolves? Luke, 10: 3. How is it that the bush burns, and yet is not consumed? Exod. 3 : 2.
But my business, in this discourse, is not to prove that there is a Providence, which none but atheists deny. I shall rather show by what acts Jesus Christ administers this kingdom, and in what manner; and what use may be made of this subject.
I. He rules and orders the Kingdom of Providence, by supporting, permitting, restraining, limiting, protecting, punishing, and rewarding those over whom he reigns providentially.
1. He supports the world, and all creatures in it, by his power. "My Father worketh hitherto, and I work." John, 5:17. "By him all things consist." Col. 1:17. It is a considerable part of Christ's glory to have a whole world of creatures owing their being and hourly preservation to him. He is "given for a covenant to the people, to establish the earth." Isa. 49: 8.
of creatures in "The deceived Even those that
2. He permits and suffers the worst his dominion to be and act as they do. and the deceiver are his." Job, 12: 16. fight against Christ and his people receive both power and permission from him. . Say not that it is unbecoming the Most Holy to permit such evils, which he could prevent if he pleased. For as he permits no more than he will overrule to his praise, so that very permission of his is holy and just. Christ's working is not confounded with the creature's. Pure sun-beams are not tainted by the noisome vapors on which they shine. His holiness hath no fellowship with their iniquities; nor are their transgressions at all excused by his permission. "He is a rock, his work is perfect," but "they have corrupted themselves." Deut. 32: 4, 5. And yet should he permit sinful creatures to act out all the wickedness in their hearts, there would neither remain peace nor order in the world. Therefore,
3. He powerfully restrains creatures, by the bridle of providence, from the commission of those things to which their hearts are inclined: "The remainder of wrath thou wilt restrain," Ps. 76: 10; allowing just so much as shall serve his holy ends, and no more. And truly this is one of the glorious mysteries of Providence, which amazes the serious and considerate soul; to see the spirit of a creature fully set to do mischief; power enough, as one would think, in his hand to do it, and a door of opportunity standing open for it; and yet the effect wonderfully hindered. The strong propensities of the will are inwardly checked, as in the case of Laban, Gen. 31: 24; or a diversion is strangely cast in their way, as in the case of Sennacherib, 2 Kings, 19: 7, 8, so that their hands cannot perform their enterprises. Julian had two great designs before him; one was to conquer the Persians, the other to root out the Galileans, as he, by way of contempt, called the christians; but