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burden too heavy for one who guides the rolling planets on their course, and bears on his unwearied arm the weight of a universe.
IV. Let me urge you to seek an interest in this kingdom.
Your eternal welfare turns on that. You must be saved or damned; crowned in heaven or cursed in hell. Jesus said, " My kingdom is not of this world;" and blessed be God that it is not. For those very features by which it is distinguished from the world's kingdoms are among its most encouraging aspects to us. They are bright with hope to the chief of sinners.
The poor say there is little chance or hope for them in this hard world. Well, are you poor? I had almost said, so much the better. "To the poor the Gospel is preached." You can get on well enough to heaven without gold. The wealth on which the kingdoms of this world set so high a value, and which, for all their talk of blood and breeding, has bought the coarse plebeian a marriage into proud patrician families, is here rather a hinderance than a help. Has not the Lord of this kingdom said, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God?
In the freest and best governed states, birth, and wealth, and rank, and blood, give to their envied possessors great—often too great advantages. It is the high-born chiefly that approach the person of the sovereign, enjoy the honors of the palace, and fill the chief offices of the state. Royal favors seldom descend so low as humble life. The grace of our King, however, is }ike those blessed dews that, while the mountain tops remain dry, lie thick in the valleys; and, leaving the proud and stately trees to stand without a gem, hang the lowly bush with diamonds,, and sow the sward broadcast with orient pearl. This is the kingdom for the mean, and the meek, and the poor, and the humble! Its King has said, Not many mighty, not many noble, are called, Blessed are the poor in spirit; for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
There is no degradation in honest poverty. But are you degraded, debased, an outcast from decent, good society—characterless? Nor does that exclude you from the mercy and grace of God—" Go ye," he said, " into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature." Go to the gallows; and preach it to the man with a rope on his neck, and his feet on the drop. Go to the jail; and preach it to the scum of the city. Go to her dens of iniquity; and preach it as freely and fully as in her highest and holiest congregation. Saving, gentle, pitying mercy, turns no more aside from the foulest wretch, than the wind that kisses her faded cheek, or the sunbeam that visits as brightly a murderer's cell as a minister's study. Nay —though the holiest of all kingdoms—while we see a Pharisee stand astonished to be shut out, mark how, when she approaches, who, weeping, trembling all over, hardly dares lift her hand to knock, the door flies wide open; and the poor harlot enters to be washed, and robed, and forgiven, and kindly welcomed in.
Have you done nothing to merit this kingdom? Who has? Did Manasseh? Did Simon Peter? Did Saul of Tarsus? Was it his hands, reeking with the blood of Stephen, that earned for him the saying grace, and the honors of the chief apostleship? Was it for one look of pity, one word of kind sympathy from their lips, that, as his murderers nailed him to the tree, our dying Lord raised his eyes to heaven and prayed, Father, forgive them ; for they know not what they do? No. They say, and why may not we, Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost?
Yet, though not saved by obedience, remember that submission to Christ's commandments is required of all those who belong to his kingdom ; and that the very foundations of spiritual as of common liberty are laid in law—are right government and righteous laws. There is no true liberty without law. Nor can you fancy a more happy condition for a country than that of Israel when, without king or government, "every man did that which was right in his own eyes." Ours is a free country, for instance; yet where is law so paramount? The baton of the humblest constable carries more authority here than sceptres have done elsewhere. Liberty is not only the birthright of its sons, but should a slave once touch these shores, he drops his chain, and is free as the waves that beat them. Still, it is freedom under, not without, law. He is not at liberty to do what he chooses—he cannot seize my property. He is not at liberty to go where he chooses— he cannot enter the humblest cottage without its owner's consent. He is not at liberty to act as he chooses —commit a private wrong or disturb the public peace. Yet he is free ; only, in escaping from a slave-cursed soil to a land of freedom, he has not placed himself beyond authority; but has exchanged lawless oppression for lawful government. So is it with you whom the truth has made free, To you the gospel is "a law of liberty," because, bursting the bonds of sin and Satan, it sets you free to obey the law of God. The believer gladly accepts of Christ's yoke, and delights in the law of God after the inward man, saying, Oh how love I thy law, it is my meditation all the day.
In a general sense, we are all the subjects of Christ's kingdom. It embraces the boundless universe. And he who once had not a place wherein to lay his head, now reigns over a kingdom, the extent of which reduces our proud boast to contempt. Tell me that the sun never sets on Britain's empire, and that before he has sunk on one province, he has arisen on another; that sun, which wheels his mighty course in heaven, shines but on an outlying corner of the kingdom Over which Jesus reigns. To many of its provinces he appears but as a twinkling star; and in others, lying far beyond the range of his beams, immeasurable distance hides him from view. But no distance hides any part of creation beyond our Saviour's authority. He stands on the circle of the heavens, and his kingdom ruleth over all.
In a saving sense, however, Christ's kingdom is not without, but within us. Its seat is in the heart; and unless that be right with God, all is wrong. It does not lie in outward things. It is not meat and drink— not baptism or the communion—not sobriety, purity, honesty, and the other decencies of a life of common respectability. "Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." Its grace and power have their emblem in the leaven this woman lays, not on the meal, but in the meal—in the heart of the lump, where, working from within outwards, from the centre to the circumference, it sets the whole mass fermenting —changing it into its own nature. Even so the work of conversion has its origin in the heart. When grace
subdues a rebel man, if I may so speak, the citadel first is taken; afterwards, the city. It is not as in those great sieges which we have lately watched with such anxious interest. There, approaching with his brigades, and cavalry, and artillery, man sits down outside the city. He begins the attack from a distance ; creeping like a lion to the spring—with trench, and parallel, and battery-—nearer and nearer to the walls. These at length are breached; the gates are blown open; through the deadly gap the red living tide rolls in. Fighting from bastion to bastion, from street to street, they press onward to the citadel, and there, giving no quarter and seeking none, beneath a defiant flag, the rebels, perhaps, stand by their guns, prolonging a desperate resistance. But when the appointed hour of conversion comes, Christ descends by his Spirit into the heart—-at once into the heart. The battle of grace begins there. Do you know that by experience? The heart won, she fights her way outward from a new heart on to new habits; a change without succeeds the change within, even until the kingdom—which, in the house of God, by the body of the solemn dead, over the pages of the Bible, amid the wreck of health or ruins of fortune, came not with observation—comes to be observed. A visible change appears in the whole man. May it appear in you! then, though the world may get up the old half-incredulous, half-scornful cry, Is Saul also among the prophets? good men shall rejoice on earth, and angels celebrate the event in heaven.