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short duration. Empires succeed to empires in a rapid succession. The most extensive conquests are finally surrendered into the hands of time; and, like the conquerors themselves, the places that once knew them, know them no more. The history of nations is chiefly the history of their rise and their fall; and respecting many, in vain do we search the map for the places of their existence. Monuments of brass, and massive columns, erected to perpetuate their memories, themselves decay. The voluminous systems of antiquities, which occupy the eager attention of the antiquarian, what are they but compilations of ruins ?
Not so the kingdom of heaven! That will remain, eternal as its founder. It is established on a basis that cannot be shaken, that cannot decay;-the basis of eternal truth, righteousness and peace. It will be supported for ever, by all the relative attributes of deity, his power, his wisdom, and his goodness. Christ, the vicegerent of the universal sovereign, shall personally reign, until all the enemies to human felicity shall be exterminated; then "shall he deliver up the kingdom to his father, that God may be all in all."
VIII. But there is one peculiarity in the kingdom of Christ which demands particular
attention, as its resemblance has never existed. All the kingdoms of the earth are derived from a very different origin. Some have taken their rise from parental or patriarchal authority; some from the occasional appointment of a chief to preside over counsels, or lead on to war; some from the suffrage of the people; some by what is termed the right of conquest, or by treacherous usurpation. No one sovereign has resigned his love of ease and happiness, has passed through scenes of poverty, humiliation, and disgrace, and has voluntarily submitted to a painful and ignominious death, from the hands of his own subjects, in order to purchase a right to reign over them, that he might render them happy! They have impoverished and disgraced others, and have shed the blood of thousands and tens of thousands, to obtain a throne, but no one hath voluntarily shed his own blood. Yet this is the mode by which the Son of God has purchased a right to his heavenly kingdom.
This unprecedented fact, is thus stated by the Apostle Peter in his sermon at Jerusalem. "The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree; him hath God exalted with his right hand, to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins."*
* Acts v. 30,
ities, must be universally allowed; and they can only be escaped, by our having recourse to some explanations which shall be more pertinent. As neither the worm nor the fire can be eternal, in a literal sense, to apply the words to the subject operated upon, is, in reality, an arbitrary assumption, a mere conjecture; and a question remains, whether the term of his existence may not be as indefinite, as that of the gnawing worm, or consuming fire, must be?
As this severe interpretation is conjectural, and may be false, we are at liberty to adopt another, which we cheerfully acknowledge ought not to be received, until it be brought to the test of reason and scripture. The following may possibly be the import of these expressions.
The wretched offender may be condemned to suffer intense agony of mind, and a perpetuity of the most painful sensations, either during the whole of his existence, or during the period that his extreme demerits shall continue, that is, until his character shall be changed. As long as the subject shall remain in his state of depravity, there will, according to the force of the metaphor, be food for a gnawing worm, and the scorching flame. The worm shall not suddenly die, nor shall the fire be suddenly quenched. The dreadful process shall uninterruptedly con
heard the voice of many angels round about the throne, and the beasts, and the elders; and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing. And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, blessing and honour, and glory and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the lamb, for ever and ever."*
IX. Another exalted office to which the Son of God is entitled, in consequence of his transcendant merits, is that of an universal Judge. He is appointed to judge the world, and to render to every man according to his works.
We are assured, from the highest authority, that "the Father judgeth no man, but he hath committed all judgment to his Son." "We shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ."+ "We must appear before the judg
* See Note I. ↑ John v. 22.
Rom. x. 10.
ment seat of Christ, that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad."*
In ancient times the character of a Judge was united with that of a Sovereign. To declare the sentence of acquittal, condemnation, or pardon, was the exclusive prerogative of majesty; and in modern days, the sentence pronounced by the delegated interpreter of the law, must receive the sanction of the Sovereign, before it can be executed. This solemn office devolves also upon the Son of God, who is the representative of his Father. This power, as well as the office of a sovereign, he will exercise in his father's name. It is he who will say, at the solemn period, Come, ye blessed of my father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you," &c. or "depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels."†
This delegated power, so honourable to the Saviour of mankind, is also in compassion to human nature. It is said, that "God hath given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the son of man;" that "it became him for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons into glory, to