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the church which began soon after Christ's resurrection ; but also that more perfect state which shall obtain after the downfall of Antichrist; and sometimes that glorious and blessed state to which the church shall be received at the day of judg
So I Cor. xv. 50. “ This I say, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God.”-Under this head I would observe several things particularly, for the clearer understanding of what the scripture says concerning this period.
1. The setting up of the kingdom of Christ is chiefly accomplished by four successive great events, each of which is in scripture called Christ's coming in his kingdom. The first is Christ's appearing in those wonderful dispensations of providence in the apostle's days, in setting up his kingdom and destroying its enemies, which ended in the destruction of Jerusalem. This is called Christ's coming in his kingdom, Matt. xvi. 28 “Verily I say unto you, there be some standing here, which shall not taste of death till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom.” (And Matt. xxiv.) The second is that which was accomplished in Constantine's time, in the de. struction of the Heathen Roman empire. This is represented as Christ's coming, and is compared to his coming to judgment, (Rev, vi, at the latter end.) The third is that which is to be accomplished at ths destruction of Antichrist. This also is represented as Christ's coming in his kingdom in the 7th chapter of Daniel, and in other places. The fourth and last is his coming to the last judgment, which is the event principally signified in scripture by Christ's coming in his kingdom.
2. Each of the three former of these is a lively image, or type, of the fourth and last, viz. Christ's coming to the final judgment, as the principal dispensations of providence before, were types of his first coming.- -As Christ's last coming to judgment is accompanied with the resurrection of the dead, go is each of the three foregoing with a spiritual resurrection. That coming of Christ which ended in the destruction of Jerusalem, was preceded by a glorious spiritual resurrection of souls in the calling of the Gentiles through the preaching of the gospel. Christ's coming in Constantine's time, was accompanied with a glorious spiritual resurrection of the greater part of the known world, in a restoration of it to a visible church state, from a state of Heathenism. Christ's coming at the destruction of Antichrist, will be attended with a spiritual resurrection of the church after it had been long as it were dead, in the times of Antichrist. This is called the first resurrection in the 20th chapter of Revelation.
Again, as Christ in the last judgment will gloriously mani. fest himself coming in the glory of his Father, so in each of the three foregoing events Christ gloriously manifested himself in sending judgments upon his enemies and in showing favour
to his church. As the last coming of Christ will be attended with a literal gathering together of the elect from the four winds of heaven, so were each of the preceding attended with a spiritual gathering in of the elect. As this gathering together of the elect will be effected by God's angels with a great sound of a trumpet ; (Matt. xxiv. 31.) so were each of the preceding spiritual ingatherings effected by the trumpet of the gospel, sounded by the ministers of Christ.
As there shall precede the last appearance of Christ, a time of great degeneracy and wickedness, so this has been, or will be, the case with each of the other appearances. Before each of them is a time of a great opposition to the church ; before the first, by the Jews : before the second, in Constantine's time, by the Heathen; before the third, by Antichrist; and before the last, by Gog and Magog, as described in the Revelation.
By each of these comings of Christ, God works a glorious deliverance for his church. The first, which ended in the destruction of Jerusalem, was attended with bringing the church into the glorious state of the gospel. The second, which was in Constantine's time, was accompanied with an advancement of the church into a state of liberty from persecution, the countenance of civil authority, and her triumph over Heathen persecutors. The third, which shall be at the downfall of Antichrist, will be accompanied with an advancement of the church into that state of the glorious prevalence and truth, liberty, peace, and joy, which we so often read of in the prophetical parts of scripture. The last will be attended with the advancement of the church to consummate glory in heaven.
Each of these comings of Christ is accompanied with a terrible destruction of the wicked, and the enemies of the church: the first, with the destruction of the persecuting Jews, which was amazingly terrible ; the second, with dreadful judgments on the Heathen persecutors of the church ; the third, with the awful destruction of Antichrist, the most cruel and bitter enemy that ever the church had ; the fourth, with divine wrath and vengeance on all the ungodly.-Further, there is in each of these comings of Christ an ending of the old, and a beginning of new heavens and a new earth ; or an end of a temporal state of things, and a beginning of an eternal state.
3. I would observe, that each of those four great dispensations which are represented as Christ's coming in his kingdom, are but so many steps and degrees of the accomplishment of that one event prophesied of, Dan. vii. 13, 14. “And I saw in the night visions, and behold, one like the Son of man, came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, rations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an
everlasting dominion, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed. This is what the Jews expected, and called “the coming of the kingdom of heaven;" and what John the Baptist and Christ had respect to, when they said, “The kingdom of heaven is at hand." This great event is accomplished by geveral steps.
4. When Christ came with the preaching of the apostles, to set up his kingdom in the world, which dispensation ended with the destruction of Jerusalem, then it was accomplished in a glorious degree; when the Heathen empire was destroyed in Constantine's time, it was fulfilled in a further degree; when Antichrist shall be destroyed, it will be accomplished in a yet higher degree: but when the end of the world is come, then will it be accomplished in its most perfect degree of all. And because these four great events are but images one of another, and the three former but types of the last, and since they are all only several steps of the accomplishment of the same thing; hence we find them all from time to time prophesied of under one, as in the prophesies of Daniel, and in the 24th chapter of Matthew, where some things seem more applicable to one of them, and others to another.
Thus it appears, that as there are several steps of the accomplishment of the kingdom of Christ, so in each one of them the event is accomplished in a further degree than in the foregoing. That in the time of Constantine was a greater and further accomplishment of the kingdom of Christ, than that which ended in the destruction of Jerusalem ; that which shall be at the fall of Antichrist, will be a further accomplishment of the same thing, than that which took place in the time of Constantine; and so on with regard to each : so that the kingdom of Christ is gradually prevailing and growing by these several great steps of its fulfilment, from the time of Christ's resurrection to the end of the world.
5. The great providences of God between these four events, are to make way for the kingdom and glory of Christ in the great event following. Those dispensations of providence towards the church and the world, before the destruction of the Heathen empire in the time of Constantine, seem all to have been to make way for the glory of Christ, and the happiness of the church in that event. And so the great providences after that, till the destruction of Antichrist, and the beginning of the glorious times of the church which follow, seem all calculated to prepare the way for the greater glory of Christ and his church in that event ; and the
following ones to the end of the world, seem to be for the greater manifestation of Christ's glory at the consummation of all things. Thus I thought it needful to observe those things in general concerning this last period, before I take notice of particular providences by which the
work of redemption is carried on through this period, in their order.
Before I proceed, I will briefly answer an INQUIRY, viz. Why the setting up of Christ's kingdom after his humiliation, should be so gradual, since God could easily have finished it at once?--Though it would be presumption in us to pretend to declare all the ends of God in this, yet doubtless much of his wisdom may be seen in it; and particularly in these two things.
1. In this way the glory of God's wisdom, is more visible to the observation of creatures. If it had been done at once, or in a very short time, there would not have been such opportunities for creatures to perceive and observe the particular steps of divine wisdom, as when the work is gradually accomplished, and one effect of his wisdom is held forth to observation after another. It is wisely determined of God, to accomplish his great design by a wonderful and long series of events, that the glory of his wisdom may be displayed in the whole series of events, that the glory of his perfection may be seen, in par, ticular successive manifestations. If all that glory which appears in these events had been manifested at once, it would have been too much for us; it would have overpowered our sight and capacities.
2. Satan is more gloriously triumphed over. God could easily, by an act of almighty power, at once have crushed Satan. But by giving him time to use his utmost subtilty to hinder the success of what Christ had done and suffered, he is not defeated merely by surprise, but has large opportunity to ply his utmost power and subtilty again and again, to strengthen his own interest all that he can by the work of many ages. Thus God destroys and confounds him, and sets up Christ's kingdom time after time, in spite of all his subtle machinations and great works, and by every step advances it still higher and higher, till at length it is fully set up, and Satan perfectly and eternally vanquished. I now proceed to take notice of the particular events, whereby, from the end of Christ's humiliation to the end of the world, the success of Christ's purchase has been or shall be accomplished.
How Christ was capacitated for effecting his purpose. .
As the incarnation of Christ was necessary in order to his being in a near capacity for the purchase of redemption; so his resurrection and ascension were requisite in order to the success of his purchase
1. His resurrection. It was necessary in order to Christ's obtaining the end and effect of his purchase of redemption, that he should rise from the dead. For God the Father had committed the whole affair of redemption to his Son, that he should not only purchase it as priest, but actually bring it about as king; and that he should do this as God-man. God the Father would have nothing to do with fallen man in a way of mercy but by a mediator. But in order that Christ might accomplish the success of his own purchase as God-man, it was necessary that he should rise from the dead. Therefore Christ, after he had finished this purchase by death, rises from the dead, to fulfil the end of his purchase. This matter God the Father had committed unto him, that he might, as Lord of all, manage all to his own purposes : Rom. xiv. 9. “For to this end Christ both died and rose, and revived ; that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living."
Indeed Christ's resurrection, and so his ascension,) was part of the success of what Christ did and suffered in his humiliation. For though Christ did not properly purchase redemption for himself, yet he purchased eternal life and glory for himself, as a reward of what he did and suffered: Phil. ii. 8,9. “ He humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him.” And it may be looked upon as part of the success of Christ's purchase, since he did not rise as a private person, but as the head of the elect church; so that they did, as it were, all rise with him. Christ was justified in his resurrection, i. e. God acquitted and discharged him hereby, as having done and suffered enough for the sins of all the elect: Rom. iv. 25. “ Who was delivered for our offences, and raised again for our justification.” And God put him in possession of eternal life, as the head of the church, as a sure earnest that they should follow. For when Christ rose from the dead, that was the beginning of eternal life in him. His life before his death was a mortal life, a temporal life; but after his resurrection it was an eternal life : Rom. vi. 9. “Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead, dieth no more ; death hath no more dominion over him." Rev. i. 18. “I am he that liveth, and was dead; and behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen.”—But he was put in possession of this eternal life, as the head of the body; so that the whole church, as it were, rises in him. And now he, who lately suffered so much, is to suffer no more for ever, but has entered into eternal glory.
This resurrection of Christ is the most joyful event that ever came to pass; because hereby Christ rested from the great and difficult work of purchasing redemption, and received God's testimony, that it was finished. The death of Christ was the greatest and most wonderful event that ever