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diminution, nor admits of increase; it has no other bounds but those of the universe. The latter, wide as it has spread itself from a small beginning, sometimes oppressed, and sometimes prosperous, may still enlarge its borders, as God shall bless what his right hand hath planted, and his providence preserved, till that come to pass, which the prophets have foretold, till “ the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea b.
If this distinction be applied to the text, though it is plain that the kingdom, in the notion first mentioned, as unchangeable and absolute, cannot be that which is there intended“; yet it may justly be regarded, and the doxology implies that it ought to be regarded, as the ground of the petition. Because God is ". King for ever and everd," the supreme governor of heaven and earth, we therefore pray,
be acknowledged as such ; that the gospel of truth may
that he may
Hab. ii. 14. c Nam Deus quando non regnat ? in cujus manu cor omnium regum eft. Sec quicquid nobis optamus, in illum augu. ramur, et illi deputamus, quod ab illo expectamus.
Testull. de Orat. c.8. Pl. x, 16.
be published and received throughout the world, and that those who enjoy its facred light may walk worthy of it, as faithful subjects and obedient children of an Almighty Lord and heavenly Father, as redeemed from sin by the precious blood of the Son of God.
Such is, obviously, the general import of this petition. If on the latter part of it any thing more is necessary to be faid, we may recollect, how the inspired writers, with equal energy and simplicity, use this and similar expressions, in speaking on subjects of the fublimest nature. When “ Moses, the man of God, blessed the children of Israel before his death, he said, The Lord came from Sinai, and rofe up from Seir unto them; he shined forth from mount Paran, and he came with ten thousands of his faints® :” in these respective places he declared his presence, and imparted his blessings to his chosen people. In like manner therefore, by the coming of the kingdom of God, or of Christ, or his coming in his kingdom, may properly be understood any extraordinary manifestation of his power or glory', during the continuance of his church upon earth, as well as his ap
e Deut. xxxiii. 1, 2.
f See Wall on Matt. X. 23.
pearance to judge the world at the last day. The words of the text at least, if we consider them as spoken by our Lord, and designed by him for general use in all ages, may well be supposed to have this large and comprehensive meaning; to have carried in them, at first, a prayer for many events long since accomplished ; and certainly to have included, in the intention and foreknowledge of the divine Author of them, the entire scheme of his church, from the time when it was but a little flock, to that glorious æra, when it shall comprehend in its fold all the nations upon earth, and that day still more glorious, when he shall come again, with his holy angels, to bestow on all those, who have believed and obeyed him, a crown of righteousness, that fadeth not away.
Viewing the words therefore in this extent, let us consider some of those passages in the Gospels, where the coming of the Son of man, or of his kingdom, is mentioned. The intended course of these lectures will perhaps be a further illustration of the subject ; but the scriptures, to which your present attention is requested, it is the more necessary here to examine, because some of them are often applied, whether on good grounds or not we
are to inquire, to an event which will be brought forward, if God shall enable us, for future discussion.
But before we proceed to contemplate the appearances of the Messiah's kingdom, it may be proper to state, with as much brevity as the point will admit, some few of the
prophecies respecting the advent of the Messiah himself, when he “vouchsafed to pitch his tent among men, and dwelt in a tabernacle of human fleshs.”
« The LORD thy God," saith Moses, will raise up unto thee a prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken.” This prophecy is several times in the New Testament applied to our Lord; and it has often been proved, that it cannot possibly belong to any one else's for all the other prophets were in many respects inferior to Moses. But the passage deserves particular notice from another circumstance. There are instances of kings, both Pagan and Jewish, who were named and described, long before their birth,
& Stanhope on i Sund, in Adv. tonnupity tv steev. Joh. i. 1 4. h Deut. xviii. 15.
by those holy men whom the Lord inspired'. But, among the prophets themfelves, we find not that any one was ever foretold by an antecedent prophet ; for it became the promised Deliverer of Israel, in this as in all things, to have the pre-eminence. Him therefore Moses, the first and chief of the prophets, foreshewed, in the passage here adduced, as a prophet in dignity like to himselfk.
Still however by David, in a succeeding age, he was spoken of in terms far more ex
Cyrus was foretold by Iaiah (see c. xliv, 28 ;) above 100 years before he was born ; and Josiah by a man of God in the time of Jereboam, above 300 years before his birth. 1 Kings xiii. 2.
k Even 'the harbinger of the Meffiah, more honourable in this refpect than those by whom the word of God came of old, was foretold by Malachi under the character of Elijah the prophet. Mal. iv. 5. And perhaps this may be, in part at least, our blessed Saviour's meaning, when he mentions the fuperiority of the baptist:,“ Yea, I say unto you, and more than a prophet. For this is he of whom it is written,” &c. Matt. xi. 9, 10. With respect to his being foretold as “Elijah the prophet,' possibly that was not merely because he should come "in the spirit and power of Elias'' (Luke i. 17.) but for another reason likewise. Had he been described fimply as a prophet, or the prophet, there might have been room for a doubt, whether the prediction did not relate to the Mefliah himself. See John i. 21. vi. 14. But he who was prefigured as Elijah, the Restorer of the law, could not be the prophet resembling Moses, the Founder of the law,