Page images
PDF
EPUB

degrees of the accomplishment of that one event predicted. Dan. 7:13, 14. “And I saw in the night visions, and behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages should serve him : his dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.” This is what the Jews expected, and called the coming of the kingdom of heaven;" and what John the Baptist and Christ had respect to, when they said, “ The kingdom of heaven is at hand." This great event is accomplished by

[ocr errors]

several steps.

4. When Christ came with the preaching of the apostles to set up his kingdom in the world, which dispensation ended with the destruction of Jerusalem, then it was accomplished in a glorious degree; when the Heathen empire was destroyed in Constantine's time, it was fulfilled in a further degree; when Antichrist shall be destroyed, it will be accomplished in a yet higher degree: but when the end of the world is come, then will it be accomplished in its most perfect degree of all. And because these four great events are but images one of another, and the three former but types of the last, and since they are all only several steps of the accomplishment of the same thing; hence we find them all from time to time prophesied of under one, as in the prophecies of Daniel, and in the 24th chapter of Matthew, where some things seem more applicable to one of them, and others to another.

Thus it appears, that as there are several steps of

the accomplishment of the kingdom of Christ, so in each one of them the event is accomplished in a further degree than in the foregoing. That in the time of Constantine was a greater and further accomplishment of the kingdom of Christ, than that which ended in the destruction of Jerusalem; that which shall be at the fall of Antichrist, will be a further accomplishment of the same thing, than that which took place in the time of Constantine; and so on with regard to each: so that the kingdom of Christ is gradually prevailing and growing by these several great steps of its fulfillment, from the time of Christ's resurrection to the end of the world.

5. The great providences of God between these four events, are to make way for the kingdom and glory of Christ in the great event following. Those dispensations of providence towards the church and the world, before the destruction of the Heathen empire in the time of Constantine, seem all to have been to make way for the glory of Christ, and the happiness of the church in that event. And so the great providences after that, till the destruction of Antichrist, and the beginning of the glorious times of the church which follow, seem all to be to prepare the way for the greater glory of Christ and his church in that event; and the following ones to the end of the world, seem to be for the greater manifestation of Christ's glory at the consummation of all things. Thus I thought it needful to observe these things in general concerning this last period, before I take notice of particular providences by which the work of redemption is carried on through this period, in their order.

Before I proceed, I will briefly answer an IN

QUIRY, viz. Why the setting up of Christ's kingdom after his humiliation, should be so gradual, since God could easily have finished it at once ?Though it would be presumption in us to pretend to declare all the ends of God in this, yet doubtless much of his wisdom may be seen in it; and par. ticularly in these two things.

1. In this way the glory of God's wisdom is more visible to the observation of creatures. If it had been done at once, or in a very short time, there would not have been such opportunities to perceive and observe the particular steps of divine wisdom, as when the work is gradually accomplished, and one effect of his wisdom is held forth to observation after another. It is wisely determined of God, to acconplish his great design by a wonderful and long series of events, that the glory of his wisdom may be displayed in the whole series, and seen in particular successive manifestations.

If all that glory which appears

in these events had been manifested at once, it would have been too much for us; it would have overpowered our sight and capacities.

2. Satan is more gloriously triumphed over. God could easily, by an act of almighty power, at once have crushed 'Satan. But by giving him time to use his utmost subtilty to hinder the success of what Christ had done and suffered, he is not defeated merely by surprise, but has large opportunity to pły hıs utmost power and subtilty again and again, to strengthen his own interest all that he can by the work of many ages. Thus God destroys and con. founds him, and sets up Christ's kingdom time after time, in spite of all his subtle machinations and great works, and by every step advances it still higher and

higher, till at length it is fully set up, and Satan perfectly and eternally vanquished.- I now proceed to notice the particular events, whereby, from the end of Christ's humiliation to the end of the world, the success of Christ's purchase has been or shall be accomplished.

II. How Christ was capacitated for accomplishing

the end of his Purchase.

As the incarnation of Christ was necessary in order to his being in a capacity for the purchase of redemption; so his resurrection and ascension were requisite in order to the success of his purchase.

1. His resurrection. It was necessary in order to. Christ's obtaining the end and effect of his purchase of redemption, that he should rise from the dead. For God the Father had committed the whole work of redemption to his Son, that he should not only purchase it as priest, but actually bring it about as king; and that he should do this as God-man. God the Father would have nothing to do with fallen man in a way of mercy but by a mediator. But in order that Christ might accomplish the success of his own purchase as God-man, it was necessary that he should rise from the dead. Therefore Christ, after he had finished this purchase by death, rises from the dead, to fulfill the end of his purchase. This matter God the Father had committed unto him, that he might, as Lord of all, manage all to his own purposes. Rom. 14:9. “For to this end Christ both died and rose, and revived; that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living."

Indeed Christ's resurrection (and so his ascen

[ocr errors]

sion) was part of the success of what Christ did and suffered in his humiliation. For though Christ did not properly purchase redemption for himself, yet he purchased eternal life and glory for himself, as a reward of what he did and suffered. Phil. 2:8, 9. “He humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him.” And it may be looked upon as part of the success of Christ's purchase, since he did not rise as a private person, but as the head of his church; so that they did, as it were, all rise with him. Christ was justified in his resurrection : God acquitted and discharged him hereby, as having done and suffered enough for the sins of all his people. Rom. 4 : 25. "Who was delivered for our offences, and raised again for our justification.” And God put him in possession of eternal life, as the head of the church, as a sure earnest that they should follow. For when Christ rose from the dead, that was the beginning of eternal life in him. His life before his death was a mortal life, a temporal life; but after his resurrection it was an eternal life. Rom. 6:9. “ Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead, dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him." Rev. 1 : 18. “I am he that liveth, and was dead; and behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen.” But he was put in possession of this eternal life, as the head of the body; so that the whole church, as it were, rises in him. And now he, who lately suffered so much, is to suffer no more for ever, but has entered into eternal glory.

The resurrection of Christ is the most joyful of all events; because hereby Christ rested from the

« PreviousContinue »