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Unparalleled judgments spread the mselves over Judea, defacing the Country, wasting its inhabitants, terminating the public exercises of religion; forcing the most of the unbelieving Jews, whom the sword did not destroy, to fly into other parts of the world, and of course, subjecting to exile, many even of the followers of the Lamb.
These circumstances necessarily involved a translation of the Church from the position it held, while the tabernacle was yet standing, into the territories of the Gentiles. Among believers, as an effect of this translation, the name of Jew was gradually lost, and gave place to that of Christian. National distinctions, were absorbed, in the unity of the brotherhood. There was neither Jew nor Greek, bond nor free, male nor female. No man was known after the flesh; but Christ was all in all.
This translation resulted from the necessity of the case. It was impossible that the numerous Gentiles, who were to come from the east, and from the west, and from the north, and from the south, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of God, should resort to Judea, and subsist within its narrow limits. It was indeed impossible, that the strength of the Church should remain collected there, while the viols of divine wrath were pouring out upon the reprobate Jews, And it was the pleasure of God, that impious Gentiles, should have this land, for a while, under their power.
This translation was also necessary, to the accomplishment of God's ultimate purposes of grace. no other way could the earth be filled with the knowledge of the glory of God. In no other way could the devil be dispossesed of his usurpations. In no other way could the heathen be given to Christ, for his inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth, for his possession. In short, in no other manner could the promises of God's gracious covenant, receive their complete fulfilment.
This translation of the kingdom, was in agreement with what Christ testified to the incorrigible Jews,
who rejected his instructions. Matthew xxi. 43. "Therefore I say unto you, the kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation, bringing forth the fruits thereof." Dr. Jenkins indeed says, that the phrase, the kingdom of God, is to be found no where in the Old Testament. Be it so. There are phrases entirely equivalent with it. Such are: "And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, an holy nation-his kingdom is an everlasting kingdom-and the saints of the Most High shall take the kingdom." The phrase, kingdom of God, as used by our Savior, evidently corresponds with the vineyard in the parable, of which it is the application. What does the vineyard represent? Let the scripture be its own interpreter. Isaiah v. 7. "For the vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the house of Israel." What then can be intended by the kingdom of God? This author says, and the construction Baptist writers generally adopt, "By the kingdom of God, our Lord certainly meant, the Gospel." Defence, page 63. But he contradicts this idea before he has finished his paragraph. For he says, "But this kingdom was set before them by the preaching of the Gospel." Can he mean that the Gospel was set before them, by the preaching of the Gospel? The Gospel is the declaration. It is good news, glad tidings of great Joy. These tidings announce something. What is it? The rising kingdom of the Messiah. By the kingdom of God then, is certainly meant, something entirely distinguishable from the Gospel. It is that kingdom, over which the Savior reigns; whose history is given us in the Old and New Testament. This kingdom was, in fact, taken, as has been proved, from the midst of the unbelieving Jews, and the position it had previously held in the land of promise, and given to the Gentiles. In them, in connexion with the remnant of primitive Israel, as its subjects, it was perpetuated. It is not a fact that the Gospel was taken from the unbelieving Jews. For the apostle, treating on this very subject, Romans xi. after he had mentioned their exclusion, says, "For I
speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office; if by any means I may provoke to emulation them which are my flesh, and might save some of them." This language intimates, that he expected and calculated, that the instructions which he was now communicating, would come to their knowledge. But what reason for this calculation, if a judicial act had separated them finally from all knowledge of Gospel truth?
That the idea which has been given of the kingdom, which was to be taken from the unbelieving Jews, and given to the Gentiles, is correct, is proved by several corresponding passages. I will stay to mention but one. This is in the 17th of Luke. "And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come; he answered, and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation. Neither shall they say, lo, here; or lo, there; for behold, the kingdom of God is within you, (ev vuiv) in the midst of you, or among you." Certainly the Pharisees, in their habits of speaking,attached a distinct ideato the phrase, the kingdom of God,and of this kingdom they had gotten their idea from the prophetic writings. The subject to which they applied this phrase was no other than the kingdom of their expected Messiah.The question itself imports this. The answer of our Lord is in conformity to this idea. "The kingdom of God cometh not with observation." The advent of the kingdom of which you speak, is not attended with that external pomp which your proud imaginations have fancied. This kingdom is of a spiritual nature. And I tell you that it is in the midst of you.
Respecting John's ministry, and baptism; and the baptism which was administered by John to the Messiah.
THE nature of John's office, and baptism, is to be learned from his character, his mission, and the effects of his ministry. Here we must have recourse to prophecy. The prophetic designation of John, is found in Isaiah xl. 3, 4, 5. "The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert, a high way for our God. Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low; and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain. And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together; for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it." Also in Malachi iii. 1. "Behold I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me." He is intended by Elijah the prophet, in the 5th verse of the 4th chapter. The effects of his ministry are described in the 6th verse. "And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers."
John's office then, was to prepare the way of the Messiah. This was to be done morally; by effecting a reformation in Israel. It was to be done also, by announcing his approach, and pointing him out, when he should actually appear; by recognizing his Messiahship, and asserting his dignity, and glory. Accordingly we find his preaching to have been, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." The Messiah is coming to fulfil the promises made to the fathers. Pre
pare to meet him, by forsaking your sins. For you must be holy, to receive rightly so holy a character. His baptism is expressly called by Paul, Acts xix. 4. "The baptism of repentance." The subjects of the reformation wrought, in connexion with their baptism, openly confessed their sins." Mat. ii. 6. And were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins.” "He came for a witness, to bear witness of that light." John i. 7. Accordingly, in an express manner, he pointed out the Messiah when he came into his view. 29th verse, and on. "The next day, John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. This is he of whom I said, after me cometh a man, which is preferred before me; for he is before me, and I knew him not; but that he should be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come, baptizing with water." John then, had a designation entirely different from any other character that has ever appeared, or ever will appear. And his baptism was entirely distinguishable from all preceding, and all following baptisms. To be sure it had a similar moral meaning with all other baptisms enjoined by God, whether before Christ, or after him. For they are all symbolical of internal purity; a cleansing from sin. So far, if you will, John's baptism was Christian baptism. But so far, it was Jewish, or Mosaic baptism also, or a baptism according to the law. For the bap tisms under the law were symbolical of inward spiritual cleansing, no less than those under the Gospel. Still John's baptism had a peculiar character. It was different from all other baptisms, essentially só. It was not an ap pointed seal of God's gracious covenant. Those to whom it was administered, were already subjects of this scal. They carried it in their flesh. It was not the baptism instituted by Christ, to be administered to converts from the Gentile world. This was to be, "into (eis) the name of the Father, and Son, and Holy Ghost." Into this name, baptism could not yet be administered.-For the Son was not yet manifested, and exalted to his kingdom. He had not yet bsen manifested to be the