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Ixxii. 12, 13, 14.) This amiable description of our King should endear him to our souls, and induce all timorous consciences to place a firm trust in him, and to comfort themselves with the thoughts of being under his Aimighty protection.
3. As our king is not of this world, so must we likewise, if we will be his true subjects, separate and distinguish ourselves from the men of this world, by a benevolent temper and heavenly conversation.
This is the natural consequence of this confession of Jesus Christ. Here that common observation must take place, "As the king is, so are the subjects." Our blessed Lord himself saith of his disciples, They are not of the world, as I am not of the world,' (John xvii. 16.) May this important truth sink deep into our hearts! we own him to be our king who was the completest pattern of humility and self-abasement; who not only descended from the throne of God to poverty and bonds, but also publicly renounced the thrones and kingdoms of this world; who fled from the people when they were for making him king by force; and lastly, who willingly suffered himself to be apprehended, bound, insulted, and reviled. If we would be the true and faithful subjects of such a lowly king, we must also put on the same meek and lowly disposition; we must rather shun than pursue the honours of this world, banish all pride and ambition from our breasts, and be clothed with humility. Moreover, we profess ourselves the subjects of a king, who was so poor, that he had not where to lay his head; who was so far from making it his business to amass wealth, and to heap up treasures on earth, that he divested himself of his own divine riches, for our welfare. We must likewise, after his example, despise rather than amass perishable riches, and lay up for ourselves treasures in heaven. If God is pleased to send us riches, instead of setting our hearts upon them by an inordinate love, we must
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 declared 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; niotives 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 to 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 Christ? 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. it 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