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Secondly, He describes his kingdom, and distinguishes it from earthly kingdoms, saying, 'My kingdom is not of this world.' Our blessed Saviour does not say that his kingdom is not IN this world; for the communion of saints, who acknowledge Jesus Christ for their king, is already formed in this world from among the human race. But he says his kingdom is not of this world, i. e. it is not of the same nature with earthly kingdoms. As if our Lord had said, "My kingdom is no earthly kingdom, is not governed in a political manner according to human laws and institutions; nor is it defended by carnal weapons or temporal arms, or conducted with external pomp and ceremony; and consequently the Roman emperor has nothing to fear from it. I shall not in the least alienate his subjects from their allegiance to him, nor encroach on his temporal rights."
It is true, the kingdoms of this world are under the control of the son of God, who, together with his Father, so appoints, disposes, and orders their power and limits, as best contributes to the chastisement of his people, or the protection of his church. Therefore, in his character of the eternal wisdom, he says,
By me kings reign, and princes decree justice,' (Prov. viii. 15, 16.) They all hold their dominions as fiefs from the King of kings and Lord of lords, and must acknowledge, 'that the most High ruleth in the kingdoms of men, and giveth them to whomsoever he will,' (Dan. iv. 17.) But the proper kingdom of Jesus Christ, which he here emphatically calls 'My kingdom,' [i. e. the kingdom, which he governs as mediator between God and man and whose subjects he purchased with his blood] is no worldly kingdom, but a heavenly kingdom, or the kingdom of heaven, as it is frequently termed in the gospel.
This kingdom of the Messiah, is in several respects, directly opposite to the kingdoms of this world. No unrighteousness has place there. No tears of the oppressed are seen, nor the groans of
suffering innocence are heard, in that kingdom. It is founded on truth and righteousness, and is governed with mildness, love, and equity. In this kingdom 'the king's strength also loveth judgment,' (Psalm xcix. 4.) In several other particulars also it is infinitely exhalted above all the kingdoms of this world, as will appear by the following particulars.
1. Temporal kingdoms derive their origin from mortal men; but the kingdom of Christ has the im mortal God for its founder, who by an eternal decree hath appointed it unto the mediator of the new covenant, (Luke xxii. 29.)
2. The laws by which worldly kingdoms are governed are instituted by men, and the observance of those laws are enforced by pains and penalties; but the laws of the kingdom of Christ derive their sanction from heaven, where they were made, and are writ ten in the hearts of his subjects by the spirit of love.
3. The kingdoms of this world affect external pomp and splendor, in order to dazzle the eye, and command respect; but the kingdom of Christ is the kingdom of the cross, and its ornaments consist in the holiness of its subjects, (Psalm xciii. 5.)
4. The power of temporal kingdoms extends only to the bodies, lives, and possessions of the subjects; but the kingdom of Christ extends its authority over the souls and consciences of men.
5. The subjects of the kingdoms of this world consist of a mixture of good and bad; but the proper subjects of Jesus Christ are born of God, and are kings and priests to God, his heavenly Father.
6. Temporal kingdoms are protected by worldly arms; but the weapons employed in the kingdom of Christ are spiritual, (2 Cor. x. 3, 4.)
7. The kingdoms of this world stand in need of strong towns and fortresses for their security; but it is not so in the kingdom of Christ, for the Lord is a wall of fire round about his people,' (Zech. ii. 5.) Therefore may his subjects sing, We have a strong
city; salvation will God appoint for walls and bulwarks,' (Isa. xxvi. 1.)
8. The greatest happiness in earthly kingdoms. consists in outward peace, and affluence of worldly goods. The kingdom of Christ is righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost, (Rom. xiv. 17.)
9. The kingdoms of this world have their bounds and limits, and are confined to particular nations : But of the kingdom of Christ it is written, All kings shall fall down before him, all nations shall serve him,' (Psalm lxxii. 11.)
10. To earthly kingdoms an appointed time is set, how long they shall subsist; but of the kingdom of the Messiah it is said, of his kingdom there shall be no end,' (Luke i. 33.) From these particulars we may form a clearer conception of the meaning of those words, My kingdom is not of this world.
Thirdly, Our blessed Lord gives a reason why his kingdom is not of this world. Here, indeed, he might have appealed to the predictions of the prophets, in which the kingdom of the Messiah is generally represented as a spiritual kingdom, (Psa. lxxii. Jer. xxiii. Zech. ix.) He might have made a fuller representation of it, and have compared the nature of his kingdom with that of earthly kingdoms. But this, Pilate would have neither had patience to hear, nor capacity to understand. Therefore Christ in his consummate wisdom offers to him such proofs as were adapted to his reason, and which, as a statesman, he could not but understand: For he draws this plain conclusion,' If my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews.' As if our blessed Lord had said, "The kings of this world have their officers, life-guards, soldiers, garrisons, and armies, for the protection of their persons and subjects. Therefore if I had any design to be a worldly king of the Jews, I should, like other kings, have provided officers, sol
diers, and life-guards, to defend my person against insults and violence. Nay, these my dependants instead of sleeping last night in the garden, when the Jews apprehended me, would have fought, and made a vigorous resistance; so that I had not been carried off by mine enemies, without great blood-shed on both -sides. This had been the case if I were an earthly king. But as no such scheme ever entered into my thoughts, those few disciples that I have are quite. unfit for the execution of such enterprising projects; and as I myself enjoined them to make no resistance, from this single circumstance may easily conclude, that I am very far from being an earthly monarch, and that the emperor has nothing at all to apprehend from me." Thus Christ in the first part of his confession invalidates the false opinion, which might be entertained of his kingdom. Hence we may learn the following truths.
1. By our Saviour's humility and self-denial, our excessive pride and ambition were to be expiated.
The son of God is here, indeed, seen in the lowest state of humiliation and abasement. He not only descends from the throne of heaven into bonds and misery; but here he publicly renounces the thrones of the earth, to which he had the most rightful claim: For who is more worthy to wear an earthly crown, than he who distributes them to men? But he despises the splendor of golden crowns, and the blaze of gems, and permits a crown of thorns to surround his sacred temples. Of such an astonishing humiliation, the cause must have been very momentous. Man, in the state of innocence, was the king and sovereign of all earthly creatures, the visible vicegerent of the invisible God; but not satisfied with this honour and dignity, he aimed at something higher; he wished to have no superior, and to reign without control. Hence he withdraws his allegiance from his lawful sovereign, and refuses to obey the laws and ordinan
ces of his Creator. This aspiring temper, and rebellious inclination, have been unhappily transmitted down by the first parents of mankind to all their descendants. Our hearts are naturally, refractory and disobedient. We are all by nature savage and untractable; and though we are plunged into a miserable state, our pride is equal to our misery. We have an earthly disposition, disorderly appetites, and an eager inclination for every thing which makes a show, and glitters in the world; and we are passionately fond of being honoured and respected by others, and cannot bear the least humiliation or contempt. This arrogant haughtiness, which shews itself more in some men than in others, could be expiated only by the deep humiliation and abasement of him, who is the prince of the sovereigns of the earth. Satan would for ever had decoyed us by worldly pomp and show, had not the son of God by his low abasement disengaged us from it. Let us admire his stupendous love, and shew our gratitude to our blessed Redeemer by a willing renunciation of the pomps and vanities of this world. Let us thankfully make use of this freedom, which was purchased for us at so dear a rate.
2. It is an unspeakable comfort to faithful and humble Christians, that the kingdom of Christ is not of this world. If the kingdom of Christ were an earthly kingdom, how hard would be the fate of the poor and wretched? If Christ was an earthly monarch, how difficult would they find it to be admitted into his presence, with their humble petitions? and how often would they be insultingly repulsed by the officers of his court? But now, as he is a spiritual King, no such difficulties are to be apprehended inapproaching him. For it is written of him, 'He shall deliver the needy when he crieth; the poor also, and him that hath no helper. He shall spare the poor and needy, and save the souls of the indigent. He shall redeem their soul from deceit and violence,' (Psaini