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tion and ascension, he has established this kingdom for ever. Hence it is, that the future state is so frequently represented as a Kingdom; and its blessed inhabitants are deemed Heirs of the Kingdom; and it is enjoined upon them to walk worthy of God, who hath called them into his Kingdom and glory. Such passages evidently relate to the future world over which he is to preside.
When our Saviour says, "My kingdom is not of this world," he expressly intimates that there is a resemblance between his kingdom and those which are established among mankind, but that it possesses a difference which constitutes a characteristic superiority. Of these resemblances and differences, we shall endeavour to take a transient view.
I. The term Kingdom immediately suggests the idea of a monarchical government. This form is superior to every other, for the prompt issuing of mandates, and the prompt execution of every purpose; and the Sovereign enjoys, without competitor, all the honours of majesty. When uncontrouled power is possessed by an Individual, he is able to do the most extensive good, and the most extensive mischief. This
renders absolute power so dangerous, when committed into the hands of men. Their Wills may become the only law; and these Wills are mostly capricious and tyrannical. The perfect character of the Son of God, and the manner in which he used his miraculous powers in the introduction of his kingdom, are the most encouraging assurances, that no danger can be derived to his subjects, by "all power being committed to him, both in heaven and in earth.”
II. A grand peculiarity of Christ's kingdom consists in its being of a heavenly and spiritual nature: it is not of this world. It is repeatedly denominated the kingdom of God, the kingdom of heaven, by way of contrast to the kingdoms of the earth. Its laws and maxims came immediately from heaven. Its sovereign is a messenger sent by heaven; and its object is to conduct us to heaven. This kingdom of Christ is of a spiritual nature. He is destined to rule over the minds of men; and all his conquests are to be over the heart of every individual. subject, "casting down imagination, and every thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ." Though we walk in the flesh," to continue the language of St. Paul," we do not war after the flesh;
beareth thorns and briers, is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing; whose end is to be burned." The obvious meaning of this alarming passage is, that since the Divine being operates upon the mind of men, through the instrumentality of various motives placed before them, if they cannot be influenced by the most powerful of all motives, which never have been equalled, and cannot be exceeded, nothing remains for them, but to suffer the dreadful consequences of their impious folly, to the utmost extent.
Whatever the nature of future punishment may be, we must conclude that, as it appears terrible in the eyes of Omniscience, it must be terrible in itself. But many things respecting it are involved in darkness. Nor can we, for a moment, doubt the wisdom of this concealment. In every case, and at every period, the wisdom of God has adapted the degree of information, precisely to the immediate exigencies or capacities of his creatures. In no one instance has the Deity condescended to gratify impatient curiosity. This would be injurious to that confidence, or implicit faith in his promises, which is always represented as being acceptable. to him, and is so becoming in us. If we may
be referred to the state and dispositions of the mind; but the vices enumerated as works of the flesh, respect those sinful propensities, and violent agitations, excited in a wicked and undisciplined mind, by the seductions or irritations .of sensible objects. The opposite virtues are the fruits of an infinitely better spirit. They are the result of principle; implanted by the proper exercise of the mental powers; proceed from nobler motives, and are cherished by nobler hopes, than the desire of immediate selfish gratifications.
III. We have had frequent occasion to observe, that in most of the empires in the world, the laws are partial, capricious, and mutable. They are often framed with contracted views, and in order to be rendered beneficial to one class of the community they become oppressive to the others. In all our penal laws, the severity of the punishment greatly exceeds the immorality of the offence; it being the principal attempt to enforce obedience by terror. The code prevalent in the kingdom of righteousness is a moral code. It is perfect in its principles, universally beneficent in its object, permanently obligatory upon all men, in every age, and every clime. Its principles furnish a model for all human governments; and the
nearer they approach to these, the nearer will they approach to the perfection of human happiness. The sanctions of the divine laws are always equitable. The punishment of every misdemeanour arises from the nature of the action, or is proportionate to the degree of its criminality. The offender cannot complain of partiality or injustice, in the sentence of condemnation, for he is always self-condemned.
Nor is the infliction of pains and penalties their distinguishing characteristic, as it is in human laws. Its subjects are animated to duty by the incitements of hope, gratitude, love, and reverence, for the character of their righteous and beneficient sovereign. We have already proved that, in the kingdom of Christ, the sanc tions chiefly consist of promises. It incessantly pronounces blessings upon its obedient subjects: That system of terror which was so necessary under the Jewish Dispensation, is no longer the predominant principle. Rewards are amply stated, and incessantly urged, Punishments are seldom denounced, always with reluctance, and in very indefinite language. They are calcu lated to inspire a salutary anxiety and solemn awe. The encouragements to obedience are calculated to call forth the most exalted, and the happiest effusions of the pious mind.