« AnteriorContinuar »
the preceding petition of this holy prayer,
we are taught to pray, that the name of God may be ballowed and glorified. In these words, therefore, we proceed to request, that such steps and methods may be pursued, as are most likely to advance that glory. And this end cannot better be answered, than by the coming of God's kingdom
But what then are we to understand, here, by this kingdom of God?
This I shall endeavour first to explain, by considering the various, senses, in which this phrase is used in scripture; and, secondly, I
shall lay before you such observations as arise from the nature of the petition.
And first, The kingdom of God is expressive of his universal dominion over nature: -That, as the Creator of the world, he ruleth over all; he is King of kings, and Lord of lords; there is no end of his greatness.
But it cannot be the design of our wishes, in this petition, that this kingdom of God should come: for, we know, it is ever present, and hath been established ever since the world began. All things obey his directing power : animate and inanimate nature alike feel his controlling hand, and is compelled to subinit to the laws of his universal kingdom. Fire and hail, snow and vapours, wind and storm, fulfil his word: the pillars of heaven tremble at his reproof: and even man himself, the petty tyrant of the lower world, is but as the dust of the balance in his sight: “for he doth according to his will in the
army of heaven, and among the inhabitants " of the earth, and none can stay his hand, or
say unto him, what doest thou?"
But, though we cannot, with propriety, pray, that this universal kingdom of God over nature
may come, which, in the conclusion of the prayer, we acknowledge to be for ever and ever; yet we may justly rejoice, that it is actually present; that we are not left to the guidance of blind chance or unrelenting fate, but are the subjects of a wise and just Governor, who orders all things in number, weight, and measure. * The Lord is King: the earth may be glad " thereof; yea, the multitude of the isles may “ be glad thereof."
Secondly, The kingdom of God is expressive of his dominion as the moral governor of the world. And this is not a dominion over senseless matter, or unintellectual beings; but it is a more noble one, over rational creatures, -over the children of his care. - It is that universal dominion over nations and people, which the Psalmist so finely expresses in various places : “ The Lord is King, be the people never so
impatient; he sitteth between the Cherubim, "s be the earth never so unquiet. All the ends 66 of the world shall remember and turn unto " the Lord, and all the kindreds of the nations “.shall worship before him : for the kingdom is " the Lord's, and he is the governor among the 16 nations."
And if we look into the exercise of this dominion, we shall find it ever worthy of God. His laws are not the mandates of an arbitrary or capricious tyrant; but they are wise, and just, and good
And this dominion over man is also founded in, and agreeable to, the constitution of man: God acts upon his reason, his conscience, and by the impulses of his Spirit; yet he leaves him finally to chuse for himself, whether he will submit to the divine laws, or not. Man, therefore, though he is bound both by duty and interest to obey, yet, as being a free agent, it is in his power to disobey, and to oppose the kingdom of his wise governor.
And to what nation or people shall we go, where this has not been the case? If we look back to the very infancy of the world, we see this kingdom of God opposed by the disobe dience of hi, first subjects. And if we carry our view through the succeeding ages, what scenes of horror present themselves to our eyes! See here the scientific Egyptian amidst all his stores of knowledge, prostrating the image of God before four-footed beasts and creeping things! See there the proud philosopher of Greece, amidst all his boasted refinements, falling down to stocks and stones, the representatives of his fabulous and unknown gods !-See here, again, martial Rome, boasting of her thirty thousand deities, within her imperial walls, and yet ignorant of the one true God!~and, to compleat the picture, behold there the bloody devotees of Moloch, sacrificing their sons and their daughters to devils !
Nor were the manners of antient nations less corrupt, than their worship was base and impure. For see here the fierce barbarians of the north, inore savage than the beasts, they pursued, and lost to every sense of human feeling !-there the voluptuous and effeminate millions of Asia, sunk in vice and sloth, and regardless of every noble and rational object !-Here the tyrants of mankind, ruling the subjects of the same common God with a rod of iron ! and there the proud conqueror, panting for universal empire, and marking his passage through remote nations, in characters of rapine, violence, and blood !
It is true that God, in pity to mankind, preserved some traces of his kingdom in one corner of the world, among a people peculiarly his: and yet even they too soon lost sight of those miraculous interpositions, by which they had so often