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LECTURE III.

TESTIMONY FROM FURTHER MENTION OF "THE KINGDOM," &c. THROUGH THE BOOK OF MATTHEW.

Mat. 3: 2, and 4: 17.

"The kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

THE DOCTRINE

Or this discourse will be the same as in the two former, viz: That" the kingdom of heaven-at hand," as preached by Christ and John, was and is, the "everlasting kingdom of God," is yet future, &c.

THE PROPOSITION

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Is to present further proof of the doctrine, from the mention of" heaven" and "the kingdom," through the book of Matthew, where not already examined, or to be reserved as more appropriate for another occasion.

This plan of proof is now proposed, for its greater brevity, supposed fairness, and sufficient fulness. As the four gospels, or evangelists, are understood to have recorded. the same in substance, concerning "the kingdom," while among the four, it is believed that Matthew, on this subject, is the most full, there will be no need of going through with the other three, for proofs either for or against the doctrine now vindicated. The passages will now be taken up in their order.

Mat. 5: 3. "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."

10. "Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."

12" Rejoice and be exceeding glad, for great is your re

ward in heaven."

16. "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your father which is in heaven."

The word "heaven' in the latter of these verses, is naturally understood as the "everlasting kingdom" of God above, because it is so generally admitted, that the special glorious residence of the Almighty, is thus above rather than elsewhere. And if we admit the principle, that the divine promises are to be fulfilled rather in heaven above, than upon earth beneath, we must admit the kingdom promised in the other three verses, as being their future glorious heavenly abode; and especially so, because it is positively affirmed by the very letter and spirit of the words expressing the promise, "The kingdom of heaven."

19, 20. "He (who breaks even the least commandment) shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven; but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven: For I say unto you, that except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven."

The latter expression of " the kingdom," into which unbelievers can never enter, must, of course, mean God's glorious kingdom: because, scribes, Pharisees and hypocrites, by thousands, have entered into the gospel dispensation; and seeing the name of " the kingdom" is precisely the same in both verses, properly contained in the

same sentence, it would be natural to understand the same by the words in the preceding verse, and especially so, since there is no greatness this side of heaven above, on which it would be safe for saints to set their hearts as a promise, since" he that is least" below, "is great," in the promise for heaven. (Luke 9: 48.)

34. "Swear not at all; neither by heaven, for it is God's throne." 45.

"That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven."

48. "Be ye therefore perfect, as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.”

Mat. 6: 1. "Otherwise ye have no reward of your Fa

ther which is in heaven.

9.

"Our Father which art in heaven."

13. For thine is the kingdom," &c.

20. "But lay up for yourselves treasures in hea ven."

33.

"But seek ye first the kingdom of God," &c. The word "heaven" and "kingdom" in each of these verses, it is supposed, without argument, means literally the high heavens where God resides, gloriously, on his "throne," and in his “kingdom.”

6 10. Thy kingdom come; thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven."

Although volumes might be written on this important and interesting passage and petition of the Lord's prayer, but a few brief thoughts must here suffice. The "heaven," in this passage, is supposed to be understood generally, as the heavenly kingdom above, where all are now perfect in their obedience to God: and the petition joined with it, that his will may be done as perfectly by all "in earth" as now done by holy beings in heaven, it is be

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lieved, will be fully accomplished, when the whole generation of his saints as "the house of Israel," shall have properly inquired for it, (Ezek. 36: 37,) and when the kingdom of God itself shall come. Then, "we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness." (2 Pet. 3: 13.) In this "new earth" the saints are " to be glad and rejoice for ever," when "the former" earth “shall not be remembered, nor come into mind." (Isa. 65: 17, 18.) Then, surely, the commandments of God will be done by all "in earth," (the "new earth,") as perfectly as now done, by all in heaven and not before.

In favor of the doctrine drawn from the text, that “the kingdom" also to "come," as prayed for in the passage before us, is indeed literally God's glorious kingdom of heaven yet to come, rather than the christian church, the Spirit in the heart, or any thing merely for the present life, it may be said:

1. To understand" the kingdom of heaven" to "come," to mean only the christian dispensation, or church, might seem to represent Christ as absurdly and profanely borrowing the glorious kingdom itself, and using it as a mere figure of "earthly things" (John 3: 12,) making the greater the type of the less, the more dark and mystical, the type of the plain, even attempting to show us plain things, as by figures borrowed from scenes which, themselves, cannot be shown us only by figures from the plain, as " a shadow of good things to come," &c., and only thus seen, "through a glass darkly." (Col. 2: 17. Heb. 8:5. 1 Cor. 13: 12.)

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2. Such an understanding of "the kingdom" here, would represent Christ when dictating that prayer as altogether inconsistent with himself, and as though feeling a deeper interest for himself and his disciples, in earthly

things, and as though requiring them to feel and pray more daily and specially for them than for the infinite blessedness to come with his "everlasting kingdom," while elsewhere forbidding all their anticipations and forebodings of good, or evil, "for the morrow," &c. (Mat. 6: 34. 10: 28. Col. 3: 2.)

3. So to understand the kingdom in that petition, would represent it as less proper for the use of the saints now than before the gospel dispensation came; "For what a man seeth, (or hath) why doth he yet hope for," or pray for. (Rom. 8: 24.)

4. To understand the kingdom here, to mean the grace, or Spirit of God in the heart, would rather do away the power and spirituality of the Gospel of the kingdom to awaken and convert; in making things mystical, which are not so, by figures, and in calling them by names, which God has not called them.

4. But, to suppose Christ here to mean by the kingdom, God's eternal and glorious kingdom, yet to come; and to be "set up," as foretold by Daniel, (2:44,) would suppose him to mean precisely what his words naturally imply, both in letter and spirit; as the simplest believer of the gospel of this kingdom would at first understand, except otherwise taught "by the precept" or "traditions of men." (Isa. 29:13. Mark 7: 13.)

5. This understanding of the kingdom prayed for, and its being so understood also throughout the Gospel, naturally leaves an original spirituality and power in the pure word of God, both of the former and latter prophets, which might explain to us more clearly the mystery of its being felt by thousands in an audience, like a two-edged sword on first hearing a chapter from it to prick them all in the heart in former times, while now, and for ages, the church

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