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dence, so that he can no more lose his right to govern the world, than he can cease to be God. It
be farther observed, that the subjects governed are intelligent creatures ; for, though all other things are upheld by him, and made use of to fulfil his pleasure ; yet they cannot be said to be under a law, or the subjects of moral government. Therefore God is more especially related to angels and men as their King; and as to that branch of his government, which is exercised in this lower world, it principally respects men. Now when God is said to be their King, the exercise of his dominion is variously considered, according to the different circumstances in which they
(1.) As men, they are the subjects of his providential kingdom; in which respect they are not only the objects of his care and common goodness, which extends itself, as the Psalmist says, to all his works, Psal. cxlv. 9. or, as he gives to all, life and breath, and all things, Acts xvii. 25. But, whatever he does in the world, is, some way or other, designed for their use or advantage, either as subservient to their happiness, or as objects, in which they behold the glory of his divine perfece tions that shines forth therein; and, in this respect, as the God of nature, he is King over the whole world, whose glory infinitely surpasses that of the greatest monarch on earth. When men are said to have dominion, they derive it from his will and providence: It is also limited; whereas his is universal. And they are accountable to him for the administration of that authority, which he commits to them: But he giveth no account of his matters to any one; inasmuch as there is none superior to him. Moreover, there are many flaws and imperfections in the government of the best kings on earth; because their wisdom, holiness, power, and justice are imperfect; and sometimes the most desirable ends are not attained thereby : But, on the other hand, the divine government is such as tends to set forth God's glorious perfections, and answer the highest ends, to wit, the advancement of his own name, in promoting the welfare of his creatures. We may also observe, that the greatest potentates on earth, are not only mortal, but their government is often subject to change, and liable to be resisted and controuled, by other kings like themselves: Whereas God has none equal with him; therefore his government cannot be controuled; and being all-sufficient, he cannot be destitute of what is necessary to fulfil his purpose, or advance his glory. Again, none but God has a right to give laws to the consciences of men ; and, indeed, no government is properly spiritual, and such as reaches the heart like his ; nor does the honour that is due to any other, contain in it, the least right to divine worship or adoration which belongs only to him. VOL. IV.
(2.) As God has a peculiar people in the world, who are the objects of his grace, these are the subjects of Christ's mediatorial kingdom, in which respect he is styled King of saints. This is not only a divine honour which we ascribe to him; but it belongs to him in particular as our Redeemer: and so it is to be understood whenever he is called a King in scripture, as denoting that kingdom which he has received from his Father; whereas his right to govern the world, which is styled his providential kingdom, necessarily belongs to him as God, and is no more conferred upon him by the will of his Father, than his divine nature or personality : We do not therefore pray in this petition, that he would govern the world; for we may all well address ourselves to him, that he would be an infinite Sovereign, and act agreeably to his divine nature, which he can. not but be and do. But the kingdom which is here intended, which we have a more immediate regard to, as the subjectmatter of this petition, is, that which belongs to him as Mediator, which he received from the Father ; who is said, in this respect, to have set him as his King upon his holy hill of Zion, Psal. ii. 6. concerning whom it was foretold, that the government should be upon his shoulder, Isa. ix. 6. This is therefore not only an honour, but an office which he is invested with, having received a commission from the Father, to execute it; and whenever he is said to do any thing in the methods of his providence, which have an immediate reference to the salvation of his people, it contains in it the exercise of his dominion, or is a branch of the glory of his Mediatorial kingdom ; and this is what we have a peculiar regard to, when we desire that his kingdom may come. In this respect we pray, that all the dispensations of his providence may tend to the application of that redemption which is purchased for his people, and in particular, that he would subdue them to himself, take posses: sion of their hearts, govern them by his laws, defend them by his power, restrain and conquer all their enemies, and, at last, admit them to inherit the kingdom prepared for them from the foundation of the world.
In the New Testament Christ's kingdom is generally taken for the gospel-dispensation; in which he is represented as sitting on a throne of grace, and sinners are invited to come and bow down before him, and receive the blessings that he encourages them to expect, as their merciful Sovereign. This kingdom of grace shall not cease to be administered by him, till all his redeemed ones are made willing, in the day of his power, and, pursuant thereunto, brought into a better world; and then it will receive another denomination, as called, the kingdom of heaven. It is true, the gospel-dispensation is often so called in the New Testament, as it respects the administration of his gracious government begun and carried on in this world ; whereas, in heaven, it will be administered in a most glorious manner, agreeably to that state of perfection to which his saints shall be brought ; But these things having been particularly insisted on under a foregoing answer, in which Christ's Kingly office was explained *; we shall pass them over at present, and proceed to consider another thing supposed in this petition, viz. : 2. That though God be the only supreme and lawful Sovereign, yet there are some who pretend to stand in competition with, and usurp that dominion which belongs only to him. Accordingly man no sooner rebelled against him, but he was under the doininion of sin, and was inclined to serve divers lusts and pleasures, and willingly gave himself over as a vassal of Satan, who, from that time, was styled the prince, or god of this world, the spirit that worketh in the children of disobedi. ence, John xii. 31. 2 Cor. iv. 4. Eph. ii. 2. We must not suppose that he has the least right to this kingdom, or dominion, in which he sets himself against the divine government; yet sinners who rebel against God, are said to be Satan's subjects. Where the gospel is not preached, he reigns without controul; and false churches, that oppose the faith contained therein, are called, Synagogues of Satan, Rev. ii. 9. and, indeed, in all those places, where Christ's kingdom of grace doth not extend itself, there persons are said to be subjects of Satan's kingdom ; which is opposed to it. These two kingdoms divide the world ; therefore, when we pray, that Christ's kingdom may be advanced, this includes in it an earnest desire, that whatsoever has a tendency to oppose it, may be ruined and destroyed. And this leads us to consider,
II. What we are to pray for in this petition. Here let it be observed, that we are not to pray, that God would govern the world, or exercise his providential kingdom, for that he cannot but do ; neither are we to pray that Christ's kingdom may come, in the same sense in which the church prayed for it, before the gospel-dispensation, which is called his kingdom, was erected; since that would be, in effect, to deny that there is such a kingdom; or, that our Saviour has a church, in which he exercises his government in the world : Nevertheless, we are to pray, that God would eminently display his perfections for the good of his people, in his providential government of the world, and over-rule all the dispensations thereof, for the advancement of his own name, and the happiness of his church and people; and though (as we have but now observed) we are not to pray that the gospel-dispensation may be erected ;
See Vol. II. Quest. XLV. page 353.
yet we are to pray that Christ's spiritual kingdom may be farther extended, subjects daily brought into it, and the blessed fruits and effects thereof, which tend to promote his own glo.
and his people's happiness may be abundantly experienced by them : But, that we may more particularly explain the several things contained in this answer, which respect the subject-matter of our prayers, when we say, Thy kingdom come, we express our desire,
1. That the kingdom of sin and Satan may be destroyed : This Christ will certainly do in his own time, inasmuch as it is directly opposite to his kingdom. The Devil's chief design is to draw Christ's subjects off from their allegiance to him : Therefore he will certainly plead his own cause, that his enemies may not take occasion to insult him, as though they had gained a victory over the Almighty. Moreover, his holiness and justice obliges him to do this ; for since Satan's kingdom is supported by sin's gaining strength, and this tends to cast a reproach on the divine perfections ; it must be destroyed. And to this we may add, that every one who is converted, is, (as the apostle says) delivered from the power of darkness, and delivered into the kingdom of God's dear Son, Col. i. 13. Therefore we pray, that Christ's interest may flourish in the world, which includes in it a desire, that whatsoever is contrary to it, may be thrown down.
There are various steps and degrees whereby Satan's kingdom has been, and shall be weakened, till it shall be, at last, wholly destroyed.
(1.) It met with a great shock when the first gospel promise was given to Adam in paradise, relating to the seed of the woman bruising the serpent's head, Gen. iii. 15. or Christ's coming to defeat this deep-laid design against the interest of God in the world, by giving him a total defeat to him that was at the head thereof. Till this promise was given, there could not be the least hope of salvation for fallen man; whose condition was not only deplorable, but desperate, and, in all appearance, remediless; but by this first display of divine grace, a door of hope was opened, and Satan's kingdom began to be broken and demolished.
(2.) It met with a farther shock, when men began to lay hold of, and take encouragement from this promise, and public worship was set up in the world; and the coming of the Messiah, who was expected to appear in our nature, and in the fulness of time, to destroy the works of the Devil, was farther made known to the church, and clearer intimations given of the glory of his Person, and the offices he was to execute, by which means he was regarded as the object of their faith, who waited for, and earnestly desired the gospel-day, when all the types and prophesies relating thereunto, should have their accomplishment.
(3.) Satan's kingdom met with a very great defeat, when Christ, who was the desire of all nations, took our nature, and dwelt among us, and, in the whole course of his ministry, discovered the way of salvation to his people, more clearly than it had been in former ages, and finished the work of redemption in his death, whereby he paid an infinite price for his elect, to divine justice ; and at the same time, destroyed him that had the power of death, that is the Devil, Heb. ii. 14. or, as it is expressed elsewhere, spoiled principalities, and powers, openly triumphing over them in his cross, Col. ii. 17. And when he was raised from the dead, whereby the work that he came about was brought to perfection, Satan's kingdom was so effec tually destroyed, that he shall not be able to maintain that dominion which he had over them, who before were his vassals, but are now become Christ's subjects by right of redemption.
(4.) The success of the gospel, in the various ages since our Saviour was here on earth ; his gathering and building up his church, defeating all the attempts of his enemies, who have threatened its ruin; so that the gates of hell have not been able to prevail against it; and its having been favoured with his special presence, and the means of grace bestowed upon, and continued to it, together with the various instances of that success that has attended them, have all had a tendency to weaken and destroy Satan's kingdom.
(5.) All the victories that believers are enabled to obtain over sin, and Satan's temptations; and all the graces that they have exercised, and comforts that they have experienced, are a gradual weakening of Satan's kingdom, though the victory over him, at present, be not complete, inasmuch as he has too great an interest in the hearts of God's people, through the remainders of corruption; yet they shall, at last, be made more than conquerors over him; and the fruits and consequences of the victory that Christ has obtained over him, shall be perfectly applied.
2. In desiring that Christ's kingdom may come, we pray that the gospel may be propagated throughout the world, the Jews called, and the fulness of the Gentiles brought in. When the gospel-dispensation, which is Christ's kingdom was first erected; the apostles, who were employed in this important work, were to fulfil that commission which he gave them, in preaching the gospel to all nations, which accordingly they did, and, by the extraordinary hand of God that attended it, it was spread, in a short space of time through a considerable part of the world ; many of the Jews were called, among whom all that were ordaincd to eternal life, believed ; and as