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OF the kingdom of God would appear even before the death of some of those disciples to whom he was then speaking, it is necessary to observe, that though a different sense is sometimes given to these words in other scriptures, and consequently by commentators upon those scriptures, yet in the writings of Luke and Paul, and in the book of the Revelation, the phrase, Kingdom of God, or of Christ, is invariably used to signify only the state of the present world under the New Covenant of the Gospel, or the establishment of true Christianity amongst mankind. For this reason, when the Pharisees, with ideas of à very different kind of earthly kingdom, which they expected from the Messiah, asked our Saviour,* when the kingdom of God should come? he answered, that the kingdom of God would not be an object of external shew and observation, but the faithful, obedient subjection of the internal disposition and hearts of men to the will of God. Ye shall not be able to point it out when it comes, saying, “lo, here! or, lo, there! for behold the king44 dom of God is within you." But that, after his resurrection, he was actually invested with the heavenly glory and power, of the precont o !' Luke xvii. 30: ... "
dicted Son of God, the Christ, or Messiah, promised to the Jews, was manifested to the eleven apostles and all his, other disciples, in his miraculous ascension from off the earth; in the prophetic revelation of the future state of his Church, to his apostle John; in his glorious "personal appearances, many times vouchsafed to his twelfth, posthumous, apostle Paul; and more extensively in the display of those supernatural powers, with which he mendowed the first preachers of his Gospel to the world." And with respect to the establishment of the religion of the New Covenant amongst mankind, there are but two ways of its being effected, suggested to us, in the sacred scripture. One of these is the conviction and conversion of the different nations of the world, to the rational religion of the Gospel, by the preaching to them that word of God, attested to the first ages by the supernatural evidence of miraculous acts, as well as by completed predictions, and to all succeeding generations, by the continually increasing weight of evidence arising from a long series of prophecies; which predication of the truths of the Gospel, in the figurative language of the Apocalypse, is called* a sharp sword proceeding out of the mouth of Christ, a weapon that we are assured will, at length, prove invincible, and entirely extirpate superstitious error, deceit and falsehood, howsoever powerfully supported: the other, by the sige nal, providential destruction of those earthly powers which oppose, and endeavour to suppress, its progress. By the first of these means, most of the Apostles and first preachers of Christianity saw the kingdom of God take place, in a very considerable degree, before their death, in the conyersion of great numbers, not of Jews only, but of Pagans, both'in Asia and Europe; and by a very memorable and signal instance of the second, in the predicted destruction of the temple and city of Jerusalem, the desolation of the country of Judea, and the entire dispersion of the whole nation of the Jews, those first malignant op. posers of the Gospel, and persecutors of the followers of Christ, (an event, which, as it took place within forty years after the crucifixion of Jesus, some of his disciples must have lived to see,), the rites and ceremonies of the Mosaic religion, were rendered absolutely impracticable for the time to come; the Old Covenant made with that people by the mediation of Moses, cancelled and abolished; and no other left” subsisting between the Deity, and any of his creatures, except the New Covenant of the kingdom of God, proposed to all mankind in the Gospel.
* Apoc. xix. 15. ..
In the eleventh chapter, verse 29, &c. and again in the conclusion of the same chapter, our Saviour, like the Baptist, expressly limits the predicted destruction of Jerusalem, and the calamities that were coming upon that nation, in consequence of their impenitence, and obstinate, inhuman rejection of him, their last and greatest prophet, to that generation to which he was then speaking; and in verse 29 and 30, specifies the precise number of years that were to intervene between his preaching to them and that dreadful catastrophe. “ This evil generation," says he, “ seeketh a sign ; and there shall be no sign “ given it, but the sign of Jonas the prophet. « For as Jonas was a sign unto the Ninevites, “ so shall the Son of Man be to this genera“ tion.” The writer usually called Matthew, without the least reason or propriety, makes this similitude, between Jonas and our Saviour, to consist in the time that the former was in the whale's belly, and the latter in the grave; but if the fabulous interpolation of the two first chapters of the Book of Jo
nah, (to which Mendelsohn,* the late learned Jew of Berlin, assures us no reasonable Jew ever pays the least regard) could be true ; yet whosoever compares the geographical situation of Nineveh, with respect to the Mediterranean sea, will be convinced that nothing transacted upon that sea could fall under the notice of the inhabitants of Nineveh, nor, consequently, be any sign. to them at all. The only sign that Jonas was to the Ninevites, was his being a prophet, commissioned by God, to preach to them repentance and righteousness; to upbraid them with their vicious immoralities ; and to denounce, if their wickedness was continued, the destruction of their city, within forty days, that is, (according to the uniform meaning of that expression in prophetic language) forty years, from the time of his preaching. Such a preacher of repentance and righteousness, only in a much superior and more distinguished character, was Jesus Christ, to the nation of the Jews; he repeatedly assured them, that “except 4 they repented, like those Galileans, whose “ blood Pilate had mingled with their sacris fices, and those upon whom the tower of
• See the Letter prefixed to his Dialogue on the Immortality of the Soulio .