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make to ourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness, by distributing to the poor, and think it more blessed to give than to receive. Lastly, we
, serve a king, whose whole life was full of hardships and troubles; who, for our sake, deprived himself of all his heavenly enjoyments; who came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for our souls. Thus must we also be des clared enemies of voluptuousness and sensuality; nay, we must use lawful pleasures and worldly conveniencies with true self-denial, and, according to the great example set by our spiritual sovereign, exercise ourselves in temperance, chastity, and purity of heart. Thus from the very nature of the kingdom of Christ, arise the strongest motives for denying all inordinate love of honours, riches, and pleasures; motives of infinitely greater weight, than any which reason or philosophy, can suggest.
But, let us here enter on a serious examination of ourselves, and ask our own hearts, Whether we are such subjects, whose temper and conversation bear a resemblance to those of our Spiritual King, Jesus Christ? We shall greatly deceive ourselves, if we suppose that all those who call themselves Christians are true subjects of Christ.
The man of a haughty and proud'spirit; he that looks on restless ambition as the characteristic of a great and noble mind; he that is covetous, or given up to sensuality and voluptuousness, is no citizen of that heavenly kingdom, which is not of this world. On the contrary, while he suffers such dispositions to exercise dominion over him, he is a slave of satan, the God of this world, who has established his tyrannizing throne on these vicious inclinations of the human mind. Let every one therefore, who still finds himself in such a miserable state, lift up his hands to the king of kings and pray to
, him, that he would renew a right spirit or temper of mind within him, and make him truly subject to his sceptre of righteousness. This wonderful humility
and abasement of the blessed Jesus is a powerful mo. tive for us to humble ourselves, and renounce the high things of the world. Does our Lord and King publicly disclaim the pomp of the world, what have we therefore to do with it? If we would put our trust, and glory in him, we must divest ourselves of all unbecoming pride and arrogance ; we must wean ourselves from an over-fondness for earthly things, and bring down our ambitious and aspiring thoughts to the obedience of Christ.
And how willingly should we do this, were our hearts inflamed with that love, which humbled him so low !
4. The faithful servants and soldiers of Jesus Christ must fight valiantly for their king, and the honour of his kingdom.
Our blessed Saviour, by saying, 'If my kingdom were of this world then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered up to the Jews,' gives us likewise to understand, that it is the indispensible duty of the servants and subjects of earthly sovereigns to fight for their king, when he is threatened with any danger. Hence the inference is very natural, that if we would be real servants and subjects of Jesus Christ, our spiritual king, we must also exert ourselves, and fight for him in a manner conformable to the spiritual nature of his kingdom ; not with carnal weapons, but with the weapons of God, (2 Cor. x. 4, 5.) which are mighty to the casting down of every high thing, that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and the obedience of Christ. This is, indeed, in a more particular manner, the duty of the ministers of the gospel, who, when truth is oppressed, are not to be indifferent, or from a love of outward ease and security, to withdraw themselves from the field of combat for the purity of the doctrines of Christ. On the contrary, they must contend for the truth, and, as St. Paul exhorts Timothy, “Endure hardness as good soldiers of Jesus Christ,'(2 Tim. ii. 3.) For in this combat, in behalf of the truth of the
gospel, sufferings must be expected ; and we ought o be ready to give up honour and character to the tongues of slanderers, and the virulent pens of malicious libellers, unless we will basely betray the truth. Therefore, the ministers of the gospel, when the cause of Christ and his kingdom is in danger, must fight for it with prayers, with their tongues, and with their
pens, when called upon by divine providence ; and in this spiritual warfare, they must be determined to sacrifice their character, their ease, their substance and even life itself, Nevertheless, it is also the duty of every private real christian, when the kingdom of Christ is in danger, to take up the armour of prayer, and make use of the sword of the spirit, which is the word of God. By these distinguishing marks, every one may prove himself, whether he be a faithful servant of Jesus Clirist? Whether he has resolution and spirit to risk every thing for his honour? Or whether, when the honour of his sovereign is injured, and the course of his divine truths obstructed, he will stand as an unconcerned spectator ?
II. Our blessed Saviour, in the second part of his confession, explains the true nature of his kingdom, and shews that he is a spiritual king. Herein we shall observe the three following particulars.
First, The occasion of this part of our Lord's confession ; which was given by Pilates second question, namely, art thou a king then ? the governor probably surmised at first, that the Jews accused Christ of setting up for a king, out of mere hatred and malice. But now he hears Jesus himself thrice make mention of his kingdom. This perplexes Pilate, and he concludes that if Christ has a kingdom, he must be a king; and as he knew of no other kingdom but those of this world, he must have thought
strange, that there should be kingdoms which were not of the world. He therefore again comes up to the Lord Jesus, and, in order to draw the truth out of him, proposes a new question to him.
Secondly, We may observe the confession, which Jesus made in these words, · Thou sayest that I am a king. As if our blessed Lord had said, royalty is what I must not allow to be denyed to me; but. neither yourself nor the Jews have a right idea of it. However truth is truth; and I should be found a liar, if I was to deny that regal dignity, which my Father has conferred on me. Thus, as our blessed Saviour had acknowledged himself to be the Son of God, in plain and explicit terms, before the spiritual court of the Jews so does he here, before the civil tribunal of pilate, with the same clearness and perspicuity declare himself to be the king of Israel. Had the life of our blessed Saviour been dearer to him than the truth of God's honour, he might easily have been released from his bonds by an ambiguous, evasive answer, and might have said, I am no king, 2. e. I am not a king in your sense of the word.. But the blessed Jesus scorns to make use of any subterfuge, and instead of giving any sanction to equivocations and mental evasions by his great example, he shews by his behaviour on this occasion that truth is boldly to be acknowledged before kings and rulers, from the heart. But our blessed Lord does not stop. at a bare confession ; for he farther adds,
Thirdly, An explanation of it; in which,
1. He sets forth the true nature of his kingly office.
2. He lays before Pilate the distinguishing character of the subjects of his kingdom.
1. The true nature of his kingly office is explained by Christ in these words: "To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth.' By this our blessed Saviour gives us to understand, that his dominion, as our mediator, is not confined to the external goods and earthly possessions of men but extends itself to the conscience; and that the design of his government is to free his subjects from those fallacious,
and lying customs, in which they were entangled by the fall, from all the deceitful and wicked ways of satan and to bring them to the acknowledgment of the truth. By truth, Jesus here means the truths contained in the gospel. It was not our blessed Saviour's concern to propose philosophical, mathematical, or political truths. The truth, to the knowledge of which he was to bring mankind, was of a much sublimer nature. It was a truth unknown to human reason; a truth which his heavenly Father had declared by Moses and the prophets in types and figures, by promises and predictions. The substance of this great truth, is, that as no man can be justified, and consequently entitled to eternal happiness, by the works of the law, God, out of his infinite love to mankind, has given his son as the Saviour and reconciler of the world, to the end that all who acknowledge their inability, believe on the name of the great mediator, and give themselves up to be renewed by the spirit in the image of God, may not perish, but have everlasting life.
This doctrine of the gospel is emphatically stiled the truth, not only as it derives its origin from God, who is truth itself, but likewise as it is a well-grounded, infallible truth, and worthy of all acceptation.
Of this great truth, the blessed Jesus was to bear witness both in his words and actions; and therefore he is called the faithful witness,' (Rev. i. v.)-And the Father has declared, saying 'Behold I have given him for a witness to the people.' (Isaiah iv. 4.) He has likewise all the qualifications, which can be justly required in a witness. If it be necessary, that a witness should have heard or seen the things which he testifies, in order to have a certain knowledge of them ; the son of God was himself present at the eternal reconciliatory council of the Father, in which it was graciously determined, that the world should be redeemed by the son. Jesus had voluntarily promised to take on himself the work of redemption, and his Almighty Father in return had