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everlasting kingdom which, in its final sudden coming, with the King and Judge himself, will cut down, or cast down, every unfruitful sinner, even "into the lake of fire which is the second death." (Rev. 20:14, 15.) John proceeds:
6. "I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance; but he [Christ] that cometh after me, is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear. He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire." [Mat. 3: 11.]
Christ, the mightier than John, already then come, it is true, did afterwards begin to preach the same great doctrine or "Gospel of the kingdom," and did suffer, laying the foundation for the finishing of his work infinitely more mighty in full view of the universe, on coming again, though he never himself baptized any, even with water, (John, 4: 2,) while there is believed to be nothing afterwards said in the Gospel which can be adduced as clear proof that Christ ever did buptize any with "the Holy Ghost and with fire," at his first coming; although the Holy Ghost, on pentecost day, did descend in "a rushing" manner on the disciples, when "there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon them." (Acts, 2:3.) But this was rather the foretold work of the Holy Ghost, than of Christ in his first coming. And yet that Christ will thus baptize, or cleanse his disciples, even the last of them, at his final coming and kingdom, is seemingly proved by a variety of parallel passages. Some of these passages speak of his coming "suddenly," and as "a swift witness" "to judgment" "against" his enemies-when he will be "like a refiner's fire, and like fuller's soap," to "purify" and "purge"" the sons of Levi," or the saints. (Mal. 3:1-6.) Also of their being finally gathered "out of all countries" to be brought into their "own land,” (or heavenly Jerusalem, Heb. 12: 22,) when God shall
sprinkle clean water upon" them, to "cleanse" them from "all" their "filthiness" and "idols," &c. (Ezek. 36: 2426.) Then they are to be made "white in the blood of the Lamb," (Rev. 7: 14,) or to "walk with" Christ "in white," (Rev. 3:5,) being then "clothed in white raiment." (Rev. 3:4.) This baptizing, or purifying of the saints, surely they never experience while in the flesh, as the saints in glory are supposed to have experienced, and all others will have done when Christ shall have come again and fulfilled to them all his promises of grace to be given through faith in his name. Then, indeed, he will have finally and fully baptized them all "with the Holy Ghost and with fire," when he shall come "in flaming fire," (2 Thess. 18,) when " "the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat." (2 Pet. 3: 12.)
If, then, John, in the above passage of Christ's coming with fire to cleanse his saints, is speaking of the great day of his final coming, as well as including his first, to prepare the way, his discourse still harmonizes with his text of the kingdom coming, and coming to judgment.
7. "Whose fan is in his hands, and he will thoroughly purge his floor, and gather the wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire." (Mat. 3:12.)
This is John's preaching still further of Christ's coming as the Mighty One; and though he has once been in flesh, and wrought miracles, he never in the flesh separated saints and sinners, or the chaff and the wheat, to save the saints and burn up his enemies with unquenchable fire. All evangelical believers understand that Christ will make an end of this great work on his yet future coming with his kingdom, and not before. Then, of course, in this passage also, John preached the future coming of the
kingdom at hand, as an awakening motive to repentance, as impressively as before, and, as it might seem, more so, because in such significant and bold figures he goes into the particulars of the things to be experienced by saints and sinners when the kingdom at hand shall really come.
II. It is to be proved from the PREACHING OF CHRIST, that "the kingdom of heaven-at hand," the special theme of his own and John's discourses, was then, and is now, God's everlasting kingdom, yet coming with Christ to judgment, rather than any thing of a mere earthly dispensation.
1. "From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." (Mat. 4: 17.)
These are the express words with which "Jesus began to preach," and they are the very same as those in which John also began to preach the same " Gospel of the kingdom;" of course their meaning must be the same as when preached by John; so that all our proof that John meant by them the future coming of God's everlasting kingdom, might be brought as proof that Christ also, meant the same, by the same words.
2. "And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and preaching the Gospel of the kingdom. (Mat. 4: 23.)
By this testimony, in very close connexion with the preceding passage, it is shown, that Jesus not only "began” preaching the kingdom at hand, or "the Gospel of the kingdom,' ," which are understood as the same kingdom, but he continued so to preach the kingdom, as an arousing motive for repentance "about all Galilee," so long as he preached at all.
3. It is apparent, from the life and doctrines of all
Christ's followers when he was upon earth, that none of them understood him to mean the Gospel dispensation, by the kingdom of heaven; but that they rather all understood him to mean God's " everlasting kingdom," as preached by the prophet Daniel. (Dan. 2: 44. 7:14, 27.)
4. CHRIST'S SERMON on the mount, comprising the 5th, 6th and 7th chapters of Matthew, appears to be all of it in perfect accordance with his grand text, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand," while understanding this passage as already explained.
This sermon of our Lord is too long to admit of our now entering into the various particulars of it, though it may be remarked in general, that it seems like a very appropriate and impressive carrying out of the leading doctrines of his favorite text, so to call it, with which he began his preaching, as already quoted. It will be seen, that this text, or summary of his doctrine, contained two parts; first the work to be done by sinners; and secondly, the motive by which to awaken them to do it. The work is immediate repentance; and the only sufficiently awakening motive for their doing it, is "the kingdom of God-at hand" to bring with it eternal life and glory to every penitent believer, and everlasting shame and contempt to every impenitent unbeliever. That discourse is full of this doctrine from beginning to end, while a considerable part of it is occupied in expounding and enforcing the law of Moses and the Prophets, in regard to the particulars of murder-adulterydivorcement-false swearing-an eye for an eye, &c.— hatred to enemies-alms-prayers--fasting-treasures laid up-judging-golden rule-strait gate-false prophets and false professors-together with the wise and foolish builders, with the final standing fast of the former and great fall of the latter. Through all this discourse
the divine Teacher coming "not to destroy the law" nor “the Prophets,"" but to fulfil"-goes on exposing the false religion of those who trust in a pretended conformity to the letter, or mere externals of the word of God, while he also shows the necessity with all mankind of such a continual life of heart felt, and even perfect obedience to the very spirit of the Bible, as no man ever practised or ever will, even in part, without the true spirit of repentance and faith in God; all the same as a genuine change of heart, or being born of the Spirit. The blessedness or beatitudes of the several descriptions of the righteous, in the introduction of this discourse of Christ, is believed to be the eternal blessedness and glory of all the saints to be given them in the glorious "kingdom of heaven-at hand," rather than any thing they experience in a mere momentary earthly dispensation; even in the best that can be given them while their warfare continues, and they "must [yet] through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God," (Acts 14: 22,) where "the wicked cease from troubling and the weary be at rest," (Job 3: 17.)
5. Another long discourse of our Saviour, embracing the 24th and 25th chapters of Matthew, except the first three verses, seems, on carefully examining it, like a further and still more awakening carrying out of the two great doctrines of his, in saying "Repent, for the kingdom of hea ven is at hand."
In his sermon on the Mount, Jesus dwelt altogether the most on repentance, the first part of that solemn text or summary of doctrine; while in this, now under consideration, he dwelt almost wholly on the subject of the kingdom at hand, the motive as the second part. Although the first part of this discourse, or chap. 24th, is supposed to be equally full of the doctrine of the kingdom, the examination of it will now be omitted in reserving it as the burden