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that no place was found for ” either of the four kingdoms: then, and not till then, "the stone became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth."
Still, the objector insists upon it, that " it must be the kingdom of grace, set up by our Lord Jesus Christ 1800 years ago, in the days of the Cesars." You speak of the kingdom of grace;" but, I ask, then, if God had no “ kingdom of grace" in the world till “ the days of the Cesars?" If he had not, then Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Joshua, Samuel, David, Job, and all the prophets, must have gone to perdition, for surely no man can be saved without grace; and that grace must reign to bring salvation. Thus if Jesus Christ set up “ the kingdom of grace" only 1800 years ago, all that lived the 4000 years previous have “ perished."
But let us look at this subject a little further. Where did the stone strike the image when it smote it? Not on the "head"—Babylon; nor on the breast and arms"—Media and Persia; nor on the "belly and thighs"—Grecia ; nor yet on the "legs"—Rome pagan, as it should have done, if the kingdom was is set up in the days of the Cesars." Where, then, did it smite the image ? Verse 34 tells us, it "smote the image upon the FEET." Now it could not smite the feet before they were in being; and they were not in being till several hundred years after Christ's crucifixion, i. e., till the fourth, or Roman kingdom was divided : which, we have seen, did not take place till between the years A. D. 356 and 483. Since that time, the " Man of Sin" has reigned on earth, instead of the Lord of Glory, and has trodden "under foot the holy city"—the church. But the kingdom of God is to be set up. That it was not set up at certain periods spoken of in the New Testament, will appear from the examination of a few passages. It was not set up when our Lord taught his followers to pray, " Thy kingdom come:" it must have been future then.Again. The mother of Zebedee's children understood it to be future when she desired our Lord to grant that her two sons might sit, “ the one on the right hand, and the other on the left, in thy kingdom." It was still future when our Lord ate the last passover. See Luke xxii. 18: 6 I say unto you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God shall come." So, it had not then come. Let us see if it had come when Christ hung on the cross. See Luke xxiii. 42: "Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom." Thus, to his death, it seems, his kingdom had not been set up. But did he not set it up before his ascension to heaven? See Acts i. 6 : "Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel ?" Not done yet. Now see 1 Cor. xv. 50 : “ Now this 1 say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God." This settles the question that the kingdom of God is not set up till the saints put on immortality, or not till they enter the immortal state, which Paul tells us, verse 52, is “ at the last trump," and answers to Rev. xi. 15, which see; and the apostle Paul tells us, 2 Timothy iv. 1, that "the Lord Jesus Christ shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and kingdom." And again he tells us, Acts xiv. 22, that “ We must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God," and this address was made to those who were already Christians, and shows that the kingdom of God was still future, in the apostle's estimation.
It is said, “ Our Lord taught the Jews that the kingdom of God was within them." This is inferred from Luke xvii. 20, 21. "And when he was demanded of the Pharisees when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation :" [marginal reading outward show.'] “ Neither shall they say, lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you." Did our Saviour mean to say that the kingdom of God was within the Pharisees? He says of them, Matt. xxiii. 13, “ Ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men : for ye neither go in, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in." Surely
our Lord could not mean, in Luke xvii., to say, the kingdom of God was, at that time, within the Pharisees.
among you." But, I ask, did our Lord intend to teach that it was then among them? If so, why did he speak a parable in the 19th chapter, 11th verse and onward, to disabuse the minds of the people, “ because they thought that the kingdom of God should immediately appear ?" He clearly teaches in that parable that they were not to expect the kingdom of God till he should "return" from heaven, at which time he would reward his faithful servants, but would say, at the same time, “ Those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither and slay them before me." See, in connection with this, Rev. xi. 15, 18. What then does our Lord mean in Luke 17th ? I understand him to say, that when the kingdom of God does come, it will not be with outward show, or signs ; but, the first the wicked will know, it is upon them; and thus the twenty-fourth verse seems to explain it. "For as the lightning - so also shall the Son of man be in his day. That kingdom will come sudden and unexpected to all the wicked.
The parables of the “ mustard seed" and “ leaven," are brought forward as an argument in defence of the doctrine that the kingdom of heaven was set up in the days our Saviour was on earth. I admit that those parables refer to a work of grace wrought in this world; but they cannot be so interpreted as to contradict the overwhelming testimony of our Lord, the prophet Daniel, Paul, and St. John, as already presented. The language of these parables must, to harmonize with the other Scriptures, be understood as spoken in a borrowed sense ; that is, as the grace of God, in men, works that preparation which is necessary to constitute us, finally, subjects of the kingdom of heaven, so it is called “ the kingdom of heaven," in relation to the result. In the same way I understand the text, Rom. xiv. 17. .
.. But," says the objector, “ Christ and the apostles preached the kingdom of heaven at hand; surely, therefore, it must have been set up about that time." I reply,--A thing at hand is the next to come. Let me ask, what kingdom was at hand when Babylon was in power? Answer.—The Medo-Persian. Why? Because it was next to come. What kingdom was at hand when the Medo-Persian was in power? Answer. —The Grecian. Why? Because it was next to succeed it. What kingdom was at hand when Grecia was in power ? Rome. Why? Because next to come, as a kingdom of universal empire. What kingdom is at hand when Rome is in power? God's everlasting kingdom. Why? Because that is the next kingdom of universal empire. Thus we see how it could be said, in truth, the kingdom of heaven is at hand in the very commencement of the Roman kingdom.
James, ii. 5, tells us that the kingdom is a matter of promise to them that love God; of course, if “ promised," it was future. Our Saviour saith, Luke xii. 32, “ Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom ;" not yet given. It is something still to come. To represent it as already set up, is to take away one of the strongest motives the Bible furnishes to endure trials, and to suffer patiently while in an enemy's country. What a soul-cheering thought, the kingdom of God is to come. Christ's subjects will be gathered out of all their tribulations—his territory, the earth, will be cleansed, and the wicked rooted out of it ; and Christ himself personally reign over his people forever ; not in a dying state, but in a state of immortality, peace, and glory, in the new earth. Such a thought gives new life to the soul, now struggling in this “ tabernacle," groaning, “ being burdened." The kingdom will come; yea, it is now at the door. "Ye feeble saints, fresh courage take." "Behold, your God will come with vengeance [to your enemies,] even God with a recompense ; he will come and save you." Isa. xxxv. 4. .
But when will the kingdom of God be set up? See Matthew xxv. 31—34 : • When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory. Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world."
Then, and not till then, will the kingdom of God be set up on earth ; for, “ flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God," as we have already seen ; and that kingdom is not set up till the “ seventh angel ” sounds his “ trumpet." Rev. xi. 15—18.
Some men will not enter the kingdom of God. See 1 Cor. vi. 9, 16 : "Know you not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived ; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners shall inherit the kingdom of God.?' See, also, Rev. xxi. 27 : “ And there shall in no wise enter into it [the new Jerusalem] any. thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie."
Who will be subjects of this kingdom? See Rev. xx. 6 : “ Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection ; on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and Christ, and shall reign with him," &c. Here it is seen that holiness is the indispensable qualification for an inheritance in the kingdom of God. See 2 Peter iii. 14:“ Wherefore, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye be found of him in peace without spot and blameless." There must be no spot of known sin upon us if we would enter the kingdom of God. Again, John iii. 3: “ Verily, verily, I say unto you, except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." The new birth, then, is indispensable to a part in the kingdom of God. See also 1 John iii. 2,3: “ We know that when he shall appear' we shall be like him ; for we shall see him as he is. And