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told his apostles, who delighted to indulge themselves in pleasing dreams respecting the greatness and power which they should possess in the kingdom of their Lord, in direct and definite terms, that they had no earthly power to expect; that their greatness was to consist in being every man's servant, and doing good to all, Matt. 20: 25-28. Mark 10: 42-45. Luke 22: 25-27, and pronounced the petition of the mother of James and John, that her sons might be exalted to the dignity of the first officers of state in the new monarchy, a very foolish one, Matt. 20: 20-22. Mark 10: 35-38. On this same occasion, he observed, that it was not his object to subdue all the nations of the earth to his control; that on the other hand, he was rather to become the servant of all, and offer his life in sacrifice for their good, Matt. 20: 28. Mark 10: 45. Of this offering his life in sacrifice, which is directly opposed to the idea that he intended to usurp the place of an earthly ruler over his people, or the human race, he spoke on every suitable occasion; and whenever he saw his disciples elated with bold and joyful expectations, respecting the approach of an earthly kingdom of splendor, in order to suppress such thoughts, he informed them particularly and directly, that his end was near, Luke 9: 43, 44. Matt. 16: 18, 19, comp. vs. 21-25. It is well known that he had his death in prospect during the latter part of his life, co-operated in hastening it, and went up to Jerusalem on purpose to die, Matt. 20: 17—19. John 11: 7-10 ;*-a circumstance
the phrase, within you, is opposed to every thing which strikes the senses; every thing external whatever, Rom. 14: 17. [It will not destroy the force of the passage, however, as a proof text in this case, if the other interpretation be given to it, defended in particular by E. S. Cyprian, Warnung vor Gleichgültigkeit der Religg., S. 81-84, and it be rendered; "The kingdom of heaven in the person of the Messiah, has, without being recognized, already in silence made its appearance among you," (comp. John 1: 26,) since Christ opposed this noiseless appearance to the pomp of a political kingdom.]
[Comp., Eusebius, Demonstr. Evang. III. 4. p. 108; Ovde ówc βιαιον ὑπέμεινε τελευτην, ἀλλ ̓ ὡς αὐτο μονον ἑκων παρεδίδου τοις ἐπιβουλευουσι το σωμα —ἀφετος και ἐλεύθερος αὐτος ἀφ' ἑαυτου την ἐκ του
in itself sufficient to prove that he had no intentions of establishing an earthly monarchy. And in perfect accordance with this, he finally told Pilate that his kingdom was not of this world, and that he had never aimed at the acquisition of external power, as then he should have armed his followers and put himself at their head, and not have so patiently surrendered himself up to his enemies, John 18: 36. More he could not have done to prove that he neither shared in the prevailing expectations of his countrymen, nor ever intended to satisfy them; and we may truly say, that the principal reason why he gave himself up into the hands of his enemies, and departed from the world by so early and ignominious a death, was, as soon as possible, and forever, to annihilate the idea, that it was his object to found an earthly kingdom, and to give a different direction to the thoughts, wishes, and efforts of his disciples and friends.*
17. Now if the kingdom of heaven, which Jesus announced at the commencement of his public career, and which he came to found, was not an earthly monarchy, it must have been a moral institution, a kingdom of truth and virtue..
1. That the kingdom of God, which he intended to establish upon earth and fill with all nations, was actually such an institution, he repeatedly and plainly declared ; and did it with such earnestness and animation, as to leave an impartial man no room to doubt that this was the sole object of the plan which engrossed his thoughts, and in the execution of which he labored and died. He commenced his ministry by demanding repentance, and a reformation of the corrupt morals then prevalent, because the kingdom of heaven was at hand. This was the purport of almost the first sentence that he uttered, Matt. 4: 17.
owμatos avαywonov eπolito' and C. C. Flatt, Lässt sich der Tod Jesu aus einem rationalist. Gesichtspuncte betrachten? in Susskind's Magazin, XII. 1-24, together with the supplement, in Bengel's Archiv, I. 1. 17-45, compared with C. L. Nitzsch, De Mortis a J. C. oppetitae necessitate morali, Wittenb. 1810-11.]
* [A most decisive proof, that Christ was free from all thoughts of a worldly power, is derived from the history of the temptation, in
From it even his disciples could at first discover but little relative to the object before him, or intimating that they should so soon be obliged to share in his labors, and assist in also preaching repentance, Mark 6: 12. When he called them from the employment of fishermen, he told
em, that, from henceforth, they should catch men, Mark 1:17. Luke 5: 10;* and the commissions, which he intrusted to them, most clearly prove this catching of men to have been winning them and obtaining possession of them for moral purposes. When the attention which he had excited among the people was such as to furnish him with opportunity for discoursing to them more at large, he made it the principal object and the genuine spirit of of all he said, to impart moral information, and he told them in every possible way, sometimes in plain words, at others, in striking parables, that he had the moral improvement of mankind in view, and that nothing but a love of truth and virtue would ever entitle a man to the right of citizenship in the government about to be established. The very first of his discourses in detail, which has been preserved by Matthew, chap. 5-7, is full of such assertions. It is entirely composed of moral precepts and contains Christ's annunciation of himself as an improver of morality and a decided opposer of the Pharisees, who were its chief corruptors among the people. In the very beginning of it, he assures them that the kingdom of heaven was particularly designed for such poor men as the apostles were, Matt. 5; 3, comp. chap. 15: 23, 24 ;†—
which we are told that he rejected the proposed plan for obtaining worldly power with the greatest disdain as something satanic, and altogether at variance with the designs of God, Matt. 4: 8-10. The passage will prove this, even if taken as a parable; which, however, is altogether inadmissible, since it is indirect opposition to all the natural rules of a parable, to unite a historical person with those that are merely feigned; and whenever Christ speaks of himself in parables, he represents himself under a fictitious personage.]
* Vid. Euthymius Zigabenus and Grotius at this passage.
That this passage must be understood of those who were destitute of wealth and power, has been shown by Grotius in a manner which places it beyond all reasonable controversy. [The explanation which Grotius gives of Matt. 5: 3, is hardly tenable. He does not
men, who felt a lively zeal in the cause of virtue and piety and were ready to endure persecutions in it, v. 10. Mark 8: 34, 35. Luke 6: 22, 23;-men, who looked for their reward in another world, and thus participated in the lot of those, who had labored and suffered in this cause before them, v. 12. It is obvious, that the qualities which Jesus here requires of his followers, stood in direct opposition to the sensual expectations of his countrymen, and had reference solely to a moral institution. The admonitions and warnings, given in the subsequent part of the discourse, relate purely to objects of a moral character. It is particularly worthy of remark, that in v. 20, he expressly declares that every thing must be entirely changed in a moral point of view from what it had hitherto been, for that the virtue of the Pharisees which had been so highly exalted, and for which his countrymen felt the greatest esteem, was far too imperfect ever to fit a man for the kingdom of heaven. This he proved very circumstantially, by unfolding the true meaning of some of the main precepts of morality and representing them in all their sanctity, in order thus to exhibit the little agreement there was between them and the conduct of the Pharisees, chap. 5: seqq. 6: 18. Now as nothing could be more
indeed, contrary to all grammatical rules as it would be, connect πνευματι with Mazagio, comp. Knapp, Scripta. var. arg. nr. XI. p. 400 seqq., but, what is equally incapable of being proved, by the spiritually poor, he understands those who bear their poverty with a pious and willing mind. Jesus evidently speaks of those, who, (comp. Isaiah 61: 1. Luke 4: 18. Matt. 11: 25,) confess their ignorance, unworthiness, and spiritual inability; and hence, what follows in the 4th verse, respects those who mourn over their internal misery. In the introduction to the sermon on the mount, there is a short abstract given of all the gradations of Christianity from its commencement to its perfection, and the close connexion which it exhibits, requires that all the members of this chain, and of course the first, should designate a spiritual quality. It is evident, however, that thus interpreted, this passage is equally good, if not better than in the other case, as a proof-text respecting the object of Jesus; for this perfect self-resignation, which the Gospel requires as the first condition, ridiculed though it be indeed by the natural man, such for instance as a Julian was, points out more than any thing else, the purely spiritual character of Christ's kingdom.]
directly opposed to a system of morality, so pure, than the selfishness of the Jews, which looked for earthly gain in the kingdom of the Messiah, Jesus urges them to make a more correct estimate of the good things of this life, and consider every thing of inferior importance to the kingdom of heaven, which had already begun, and make it the principal object of their exertions to obtain admission into this kingdom, chap. 6: 19-34. He also adds that a man's merit can be determined only by his obedience to God, and hence only by his virtue, and not by his adherence to the founder of this kingdom, or his efforts to extend it, chap. 7: 21-23. It is impossible, therefore, for any one to declare in stronger language, that the object which he has in view is altogether of a moral nature, than Jesus has done it, in the very first complete discourse which he delivered in public.
2. With this, the figurative descriptions which Christ has given of the kingdom of God in his parables, Matt. 13: 3 seqq. Mark 4: 2 seqq. Luke 8: 4 seqq., have a very exact correspondence. They are the delineations of an institution in which every thing is adapted to improve mankind and render them happy. In another place, he pronounces those the best fitted for the kingdom of God, who possess a feeling of universal benevolence and an anxious desire for the advancement of moral dignity and perfection, Matt. 18: 1–14. Mark 9: 33—37; and, as the rich are too often deficient in these respects, he declares it almost impossible for them to enter the kingdom of heaven, Matt. 19:23, 24. Mark 10: 23-25. This expression would have been altogether inappropriate, had the kingdom of God been any thing but a moral institution, requiring personal sacrifice and self-denial. In order to divest his language of all ambiguity, and tell his hearers in the plainest manner possible, that none must suppose this kingdom to contain any thing sensual, he assures them that its seat is in the inner man, Luke 17: 21, and requires every one desirous of partaking in it, to exhibit, not the courage and bravery of a hero, but the teachableness and simplicity of a child, Luke 18: 16, 17. Mark 10: 15, 16.