« PreviousContinue »
"the kingdom of Christ and of God." It is also in effect called the kingdom of God and of Christ, in Rev. xii, 10:"Now is salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ." So that Christ as Man doth reign jointly with God in this millennary kingdom.
2 Timothy iv, 1.
"I charge thee before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who "shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing, and his kingdom."
The kingdom of Christ, here mentioned, cannot be referred to his past government of the Church; for though he was now ascended it is expressed in the future tense, that he "shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom." Nor can it signify any kingdom of Christ after the ultimate judgement, for then Christ resigns his kingdom. But when Christ next appears (to judge or rule among the quick and dead saints, and to destroy the then living incorrigible wicked, by a particular day of judgement at the beginning of the thousand years,) then he shall have a kingdom; for he shall say to his saints, "Come ye blessed of my Father inherit the kingdom prepared for you:" according to Matt. xxv, 34, and Rev. xi, 15—18.
The word appearing is the same in the Greek as in 2 Thess. ii, ; so that Christ must appear to the inhabitants of the earth, where this his kingdom is. For the present, "Christ is gone "into a far country, (viz. into heaven,) to take to him a king"dom :"k that is, in the metropolis, heaven, he is to be crowned king of the kingdom he is to have on earth; and he is to return, and then "to take account of his servants" in this his kingdom, and to dignify the well-doers.
Acts iii, 19-21.
Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come, from "the presence of the Lord. And He shall send Jesus Christ, "which was before preached unto you, whom the heaven must
k Luke xix, 11, 12.
"receive, until the times of restitution of all things, which God "hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets, since the "world began."
This Scripture is the more important, in that it is urged by some against Christ's glorious kingdom; whereas, if well weighed, it speaks most strongly for it. For the phrase times, twice mentioned in the plural, cannot relate to a state after the last judgement; for then " there shall be time no longer." Moreover these times are said to be "spoken of by all the prophets since the world began:" they therefore that pretend to be skilled in the prophets disgrace themselves, in denying that which is the chief thing in all the prophets. All the prophets since the world began have not spoken of the last day of judgement; but of the kingdom of the Messiah they have all spoken: and so much and so plainly about it, that the apostles minds did much run upon it, even at the first appearing of Christ, as is evident from the Gospels. From hence arose the request of the Mother of Zebedee's children, entreating Christ," that her two sons might sit the one on his right hand, the other on his left hand in his kingdom;"m hence the strife among the twelve, which of them should be the greatest ;n hence the question of the apostles, touching Christ's restoring the kingdom to Israel :o in all which places Christ doth not in the least hint a negative to the thing itself. And the Jews do yet much expect the coming of the Messiah to restore them; insomuch that one ancient learned Rabbin on his death bed exhorted the Jews, that if the Messiah did not come about 1650 they should embrace the christian Messiah as the true one.
Peter also, speaking to the Jews in his second Epistle, quotes the prophets for this state of the Church whereof we speak: "We have a more sure word of prophecy whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as to a light that shineth in a dark place until the day star arise in your hearts.P Now the Lord Christ had come in the flesh, the Spirit had been abundantly poured out, the Gospel openly promulgated to the world, and they to whom Peter writes in part converted; (v. 1 ;) and yet the Apostle calls it a dark time, in comparison of the rising of the day-star (that
1 Rev. x, 6,
7. m Matt. xx, 20-24. n Luke ix, 46; xxii, 24. • Acts i, 6. p 2 Pet. i, 19,
is the “sun of righteousness”) in their hearts. Nor can it be the glory after the last judgement which he and they waited for ; but—“ We, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, &c."q
Now there are four notable things to be considered in the text. First that there is now, so long after Christ's ascension, a time of refreshing to come for the Jews (to whom these words were spoken) as well as for others; at which time their sins should be totally blotted out for as regards the Church the state whereof we speak will be sinless. Second, that this time of refreshing shall be as arising from, or proceeding from, the presence (or face проσжжоν) of the Lord, which evidently signifies a sight of Christ. Third, that God shall send Jesus which was before preached to them: he had sent him already by incarnation; notwithstanding, God will again send him. Fourth, it is said, Christ comes for the restitution of all things: not for the destitution, or destruction of all things. Restitution signifies restoring; restoring signifies an attainment of that perfection that was lost, either in men, or things. Now their spiritual condition was in part restored; but the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the sons of God. For the whole creation groaneth, &c. until now : and not only they, but we ourselves also, that have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan within ourselves, waiting for the redemption of our bodies."r
Now lay all together, viz. that both men and things groan after this estate; that the creatures shall share in it; that it relates distinctly, with an emphasis, to the bodies of the saints: and then meditate, whether it be likely that a supernal state of glory in the highest heavens be here meant! No: the heavens above need no making new! nor have they any earth in them. The new Jerusalem, to which the kings shall bring their honor, comes down from heaven; so that it is a new state of glory below.
This also should be well weighed; that the restitution of all things must of necessity be before the ultimate end of the world. For according to the notion our opponents conceive of the end of the world, there shall be the dissolution of the earth, and no need 4 Chap. iii, 13. r Rom. viii, 21, &c.
of the heavens. And if there shall be then a restitution of some men (namely the elect) to supernal glory; yet that will not amount to the phrase in the text, viz. the restitution of all things: for not only all the elect, but all the creation, expect a restitution.
Moreover it is said, that the heaven must contain Christ until the restitution of all things; which clearly infers, that Christ must come out of heaven when he shall restore all things. And how? even as it is expressed in Acts i, 11, spoken by angels, and attested by St. Luke: "This same Jesus which is taken from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye I have seen him go into heaven."
Matthew xxiii, 38, 39.
Behold, your house is left unto you desolate! for I say unto 'you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is "He that cometh in the Name of the Lord."
This cannot be meant of Christ's coming immediately after his resurrection; for it is plain, that between the time of speaking this and his coming with that acclamation," Blessed is he that cometh, &c." their house, or habitation, to whom he speaks, must be left desolate. The speech is directed point blank to the Jews, and more keenly to that portion of them inhabiting Jerusalem. So the connexion,-"O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto "thee; how often would I have gathered thy children together, " even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye "would not. Behold, (mark the connexion, or inference) your house is left unto you desolate; for, I say unto you, Ye shall "not see me, &c." Luke inserts Christ's great asseveration,— "VERILY I Ye shall not see me;" and expresses say unto you, it more fully, that this welcoming of Christ was not just at hand, in that he saith, "Ye shall not see me until the time come when ye shall say, Blessed, &c." And both Luke and Matthew state it with the emphasis of a double negative-ov μn μe idŋte : that is, 5, ye shall by no means (or manner) see me till that time ;which was verified in the circumstance, that only the disciples or brethren saw him at his resurrection.
What this leaving their house desolate is, our Saviour ex
pounds presently; for having said in the last two verses of Matt. xxiii, "Your house is left desolate, &c." in the first verse of the next chapter he says of the city and building, that "there shall not be left there one stone upon another that shall "not be thrown down ;-and that they should see the abomina"tion of desolation set up in the holy place;" expounded by St. Luke to be the compassing about Jerusalem with the heathenish Roman armies.
Now the performance of this thing cannot be referred, either to the time between Christ's resurrection and ascension, or to the ultimate day of judgement. Not to the former period, because this is spoken (as we have demonstrated) to the generality of the Jews, who had killed the prophets, and stoned them that were sent unto them (verse 37) whose house therefore is to be left desolate. Nor to the latter period; because that is no time of conversion of the Jews to cause the acclamation, Blessed is he that cometh, &c.; but of judging men according to the condition they are found in.*
I add, that this cannot be meant of the Jews seeing him only by faith. For it is opposed to their not seeing henceforward with bodily eyes, between this speech and that same until.' So that the result of the sense is the same with Acts i, 11.-"This same Jesus which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so "come in like manner, as ye have seen him go up into heaven." Or with that of Rev. i, 7,-" Every eye shall see him." Clearly therefore the meaning must be, that as Christ thought it requisite to appear visibly in the clouds to convert so resolute an enemy to him as was Saul; so shall he think it meet to appear yet, before the ultimate judgement, to convert the Jews so long blinded. Just as it is said in Daniel xii, 1, " Michael shall "stand up, (that is, say some learned, shall visibly appear,) "which standeth for the children of thy people." The word by, rendered for, may be translated over; as much as to say, he should appear over them in the clouds ;—which, according
* Learned Dr. Alsted on this text observes: "Quibus verbis Christus indicat Judæos ipsum tandem aliquando visuros, non equidem in ultimo judicio, sed ante illud; quia non in ultimo judicio acclamabunt ipsi Benedictus, &c. (tum enim trepidabunt, qui non fuerint conversi ad ipsum) sed illo tempore quo se ipsis ostendet ut convertat ipsos ad veram fidem," Alsted in loc. in Diatr. De Mil. An.