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The difference between these two statements is merely verbal: but even in verbal differences there is sometimes a significancy. We have the assertion of the reign of Christ in the former of these passages given us as a simple, though a sure and certain, intimation of prophecy. We have it again in the latter of these passages, as usual with the apostle Paul, in the still more energetic language of positive declaration, that, in spite of all the hinderances that might take place, the event would be accomplished, and that, by an irresistible necessity, the Redeemer would attain his ultimate and universal power. The Lord Jesus Christ is the great subject
f the scriptures from their commencement to their close. He, in zis various offices, and the predictions made concerning him, has (ver constituted the centre point of attraction to the mind of the
?ople of God. Before he came in the flesh they were directed to ne fact of his coming as that which was to be overruled for the consolation of Israel, the event that was to be the salvation of the people of God. And while we are still called upon to remember his first coming as the great event that is to prepare us for his second; to us his second coming constitutes the object of attraction and of interest to which our minds are continually directed forward in the inspired pages.
But when we say that Christ is every thing in the Bible, we say not all of our Lord and Master that we are warranted to say.
However Satan may imagine that he has obliterated from this world every impress of the Saviour's image in the way he has inundated it with sin and crime, Christ is still every thing in the world : for Christ, as well as by him, that world was created ; and when by the master-stroke of the policy of hell, Satan had imagined that he had wrested this world from the authority of its Great Owner and Lord, he found to his confusion that he had only constituted it a more conspicuous theatre on which the glory of that Lord was to be exhibited in triumph over all the wiles and the artifices by which satanic malignity thought to hinder or destroy it. The world exists for Jesus; and when his last triumphs are completed, and his last trophies won, the trumpet of his waiting angel is to sound at his mandate the blast of dissolution, and the comely fabric is to crumble into ruin. It was but the scaffolding for the building to his praise, which is to last throughout eternity: it was but the theatre on which he was to exhibit his triumphs over the powers of darkness. It shall last till he reigns with his foot upon the neck of the last enemy that he shall conquer; and when that triumph is achieved, “then cometh the end.”
* For the London Hibernian Society.
We have not separated the words of the text and insulated them from the connexion in which they are to be found, with any idea of concealing from your view those connexions, or of passing them by unnoticed in the progress of the evening's discourse. We have wished simply to fill your minds, in the first instance, on the annunciation which these words give of the promised reign of the kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, of which they so positively and distinctly assure us. We may not only read those words, but many others of similar import, from the inspired volume, as corroborating our views as to this subject, and with definite reference to Ireland. “He shall reign,” says the evangelist Luke in the verse from which part of the text is taken—“He shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever, and of his kingdom there shall be no end.” In the preceding verse—to trace the connexion back a little-he says,
66 His name shall be called JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest : and the Lord God shall give unto Him the throne of his father David; and he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever :" or as the apostle Paul expresses it—“He must reign till he have put all enemies under his feet.” We say, the simple announcement of these words in the various points of view in which that simple announcement is presented, we desire to fix your minds upon : and as the object of this evening's appeal is particularly Ireland, we fix your minds on the wide and general subject which these words present, with a special bearing of the subject, and reference of it thoughout, to the circumstances of Ireland, and the prospects of those that are labouring there.
Dear friends, we have difficulties to contend with, even those of us who labour in the most highly favoured parts of the land, of which you know comparatively little in your more favoured circumstances and multiplied means of grace. While you assemble in listening multitudes in the house of prayer-while you sit under your own vine and fig-tree, none daring to make you afraid—while you raise your song of praise in your highways and in your fields, and lift up a testimony to the truth as it is in Jesus in your highways and streets without molestation ; you know not what it is to breathe the atmosphere of a land where popery reigns in its power—where it stifles the liberty which religion is calculated to impart—where religion is one of the most dangerous and stirring topics that you can attempt to dwell upon ; where it seems almost impossible to disentangle it from the meshes of politics with which it is entwined and twisted, and where, to attempt such open proceedings in the advocacy of religion as you are familiar with here, would be deemed an insult to the profession of the millions around us, an act of outrage and persecution against the religion they profess, and which would be considered an act of political aggression. You know not the chilling difficulties that in various ways—which, lest I occupy too much of your time, I must not dwell upon-lie in the course, which prevent and fetter the efforts, which often dissappoint the hopes, of the labourer for Christ who is engaged in prosecuting the interests of God's kingdom there. But let the difficulties be such as they may, we look not on the obstacles, we do not calculate the chances and probabilities of success according to human modes of computation ; we read the record, “He shall reign”_“He must reign,” and we ask no more, but desire to go boldly forward.
Let us consider, then, this promise, in order to understand it fully, under the divine blessing; and 0 that while we do so, we may be able to understand it by the actual experience of the reign of our Lord Jesus Christ being established in our hearts!
View the kingdom which is here promised to the Saviour, the reign it is predicted he shall exercise, in the first place in its
And here we do candidly assure you that in the anticipations which we form, we desire not to give way to visionary and carnal views. We anticipate not a kingdom which shall be carried forward from some earthly palace, or the sway of some earthly sceptre where the centre of that kingdom may be fixed. We dream not of a monarch who shall array himself in robes of human state, and deck himself with a majesty that shall be sur
rounded by either Jewish or Gentile courtiers, or reign in the peculiar manifestation of his presence in one more highly-favoured spot of earth than another. We expect not the coming down of that Saviour whom the heavens must retain till the time of the restitution of all things which have been foretold in the Word of God. We expect not the personal coming of that Saviour in order to avenge his people on earth. But what we understand and we imagine we have the authority of Scripture for our views on the subject-and what we expect from the predictions of the Word of God is, the prevalence of spiritual and holy principles ; the
prevalence of intelligence directed by the light of the word of God; and the prevalence of the peace and happiness which will be the natural result of the presence of such principles as these.
In anticipating the reign of Christ we anticipate a spiritual reign. We remember he has said, “ My kingdom is not of this world." We expect not that Christ shall robe himself in the garments of human splendour, that he shall invest himself with the trappings of human dignity, that it shall be distinguished by the accumulation of human wealth, or that it shall sway the sceptre or the sword of human power. We expect it will shine forth in the beautiful simplicity and glory of its Lord and Master; that in the energies of its truths, and in the exercise of its influences over the hearts, it will every where and gloriously prevail. We expect a holy reign, a kingdom of piety, a period in which the principles of true holiness, as they are revealed in the Word of God, shall be every where made known, and every where established with a divine and spiritual authority ; when hearts which have been once impure shall be brought to bow to the authority of the pure and holy commands of the Word of God; and when the precepts of that Word shall be the standard to which every individual shall seek a marked and growing conformity. We expect a reign of intelligence, a kingdom of knowledge, of the best kind of knowledge, of knowledge derived from the Word of God; of knowledge that will guide to the path which leads to eternal happiness ; of knowledge that will bring the soul savingly acquainted with the only Saviour, and fix it on a foundation which can never be moved. We expect a peaceful kingdom, because we anticipate the reign of Him who is the Prince of Peace; a kingdom when, under the influence of true religion, nations shall learn the art of war no more ; when they shall beat their swords into plough-shares, and their spears into pruning-hooks; and when, reconciled to God by the blood of the everlasting covenant, by the same reconciling blood they shall be made brethren for ever
Nor are these prospects visionary; though the scene that, in few words, we have thus endeavoured to bring before you is one so different from what the earth exhibits at present to the view, that, if we had not the best authority for it, you might treat it as visionary. This is the description that is given of the full establishment of the reign of Jesus in the Word of God; and this is what is intended to be conveyed when it is declared in the visions of prophecy that “he shall reign," that “he must reign.'
This is the kingdom, Christian friends, which we wish to see established ultimately and permanently in the sister island. We seek not the establishment of any religion by whatever name it may be called, under circumstances of human pomp, or by the exercise of human authority or power. We call not on you, as your forefathers once established popery in Ireland to establish the cause of true religion, the religion of the Lord Jesus Christ himself, who taught us that the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty, through God, to the casting down the strong-holds of sin and Satan. And we urge upon you the necessity for the establishment of this spiritual kingdom of Christ in Ireland, because she has too long seen anything but a spiritual kingdom there. In the various efforts that have been made to promote religion in that land, there has been too much of an unscriptural, too much of an absolutely secular, worldly, and unchristian character prevailing: and what the inhabitants of Ireland may be now considered as waiting for is, the establishment of a spiritual kingdom by spiritual and scriptural means. We seek for the establishment there of a kingdom of holiness. The name of Christian, and the religion which that land possesses, is not a religion of holiness. We refer you to its accredited books, and we tell you that in the pages of those books you will see recorded enough to show that it is an unholy religion. In the very attempts that are 'made to investigate the feelings of the human heart, and to direct the examination into the conscience, you find what is calculated to poilute, instead of what is calculated to instruct and inform. Nor should we require to turn to the pages of Dens' Theology—though there is reason enough to fasten that document on the church of Rome-in order to show that in that church the interests of holiness were compromised, yea, and were sacrificed, to the interests and carnal welfare of designing men : we would only speak of the ordinary books of the devotion of that