Imatges de pÓgina

his mediatorial throne in his human nature, as the reward of his humiliation on earth, seems to have been established on the resurrection of our Lord; when, and not before, all power was given him, as the Messiah, that is, the Son of man, both in heaven and earths; as his actual inauguration seems to have taken place upon his ascent into heaven. Till then the approach of the kingdom was preached; and, both by the Baptist and our Saviour himself, was declared to be near at hand". Afterwards, those commissioned by him announced its actual establishment, and called upon Jew and Gentile to enter in and submit themselves to it. And this kingdom of the Messiah thus established, though for convenience it may, as respects two different periods of its existence, be considered as consisting of two parts, or regarded in a twofold point of view, as militant on earth, or as triumphant in heaven, is never spoken of in Scripture but as one kingdom, extending

& Matt. xxviii. 18.

h Matt. ii. 2. iv. 17. x. 7. and the parallel passages of Mark and Luke.

from our Lord's exaltation to the final consummation, when he shall deliver it


to God, even the Father, that God


be all in alli. And it is of consequence to note this, because some of the difficulties, which in later times have perplexed this subject, owe their origin to the confined view, which would limit the meaning of the expression to the future state of believers in heaven. But that no interpretation of the expression, which confines it to the state of glory only, can be admissible, is plain from this one simple consideration, that of a kingdom, not to begin at least upon earth, it could hardly, under any circumstances, have been predicated by either Jesus Christ or John the Baptist, that it was at hand; nor for such a kingdom could John be said to prepare the way, more properly, than the Apostles of our Lord, or their successors in the ministry, even to this day.

Of this kingdom therefore it cannot be doubted, that our Saviour, both in the

passage before us, and on various other occa

i 1 Cor. xv.


sions where the like expression occurs, spoke; and the point, about which Nicodemus seems to have been anxious, and

upon which the information communicated by our Lord was calculated to afford him satisfaction, was clearly, the terms of admission into the kingdom: what manner of persons, how qualified, and by what means, were to obtain an entrance into it. For this anxiety, however intimated, it seems to have been, which must have led to the remarkable declaration of our Lord under consideration.

Now into the kingdom to be established by the Messiah, it was, if we may believe the most learned investigators of Jewish antiquities, the universal opinion of their doctors; that, as the children of Abraham, all natural born Jews would have a right and claim to admission. And the prevalence of this idea, at the time of which we are speaking, seems to be confirmed to us, by what John the Baptist says to those, to whom he is preaching the kingdom as nigh at hand. For he evidently warns them against some false notions, which they had, of their privileges as the children of Abraham. And though many such false notions no doubt existed among them, yet the particular one, which bore upon the matter of his address to them, and to which he must therefore be presumed more especially to allude, was this unfounded conceit of their claim, as the natural descendants of the father of the faithful, to an admission to that kingdom, which John came to announce.

John, indeed, beyond his disallowal of the claim, goes no further than to insist upon the necessity of that repentance, which was the main feature of his preaching, to prepare them for a future admission to the kingdom. He does not explain to them the qualifications actually required, in opposition to those on which they erroneously built; he does not even insist

upon receiving his own Baptism, as an indispensable preliminary to their admission. His words, Repent ye, for the kingdom of God is at hand", are obviously contrasted with those of St. Peter, after another and a dif


k Matt. iii. 2.

ferent Baptism had been appointed, as the rite of admission into the kingdom already established, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost! It is only with regard to any claim of his Jewish hearers, as the sons of Abraham, to the future kingdom, that John is precise; asserting the power of God, to raise up children unto Abraham from the very stones on which they trod"; and hence inferring the groundlessness of their expectations.

But his very denial of the claim proves that it existed in the minds of those whom he addressed; and the supposition, that some such view of the privileges of their natural birth, as the Baptist here controverts, had been urged by Nicodemus in his discourse with our Saviour, seems to be the most natural way of accounting for our Lord's first declaration, that except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God". For as the suggestion of the Phari1 Acts ii. 38.

m Matt. iii. 9. n John iii. 3. I adhere to the translation in the text,

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