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the nation, and not increased their joy: they joy before thee, according to the joy in harvest, and as men rejoice when they divide the spoil.” The holy nation of the New Testament church would be multiplied upon the promulgation of the gospel light, so that Christ should have the “dew of his youth,” by the “flowings in of the nations" to the bosom of the church; but yet the carnal joy of Israel should not be there. by increased, like that of the Jews, when they sat under their vines, and under their fig trees, eating the milk and honey of the land of Canaan; yet there should be abundance of spiritual joy in the Lord, which would put more gladness in the hearts of true converts, than the joy of the harvest, or of them that divide the spoil. Observe, That the joy of faith, which terminates in the person, righteousness, fulness of Christ, and the favour of God through him, infinitely exceeds all the carnal mirth and jollity of a transient world, which is but “ like the crackling of thorns under a pot;" the joy of faith is a “joy unspeakable, and full of glory."
3. Spiritual liberty and freedom is the third New Testament_blessing that would follow the great Messiah : ver. 4, 5: “For thou hast broken the yoke of his burden, and the staff of his shoulder, the rod of his oppressor, as in the day of Midian. For every battle of the warrior is with confused noise, and garments rolled in blood, but this shall be with burning and fuel of fire.” As Gideon was an instrument, in the hand of God, for breaking the heavy yoke of oppression that Midian had wreathed about the neck of Israel of old; so Christ, upon his coming like a mighty champion, should travel in the greatness of his strength, to deliver poor sinners from the hands of all their enemies, sin, Satan, the world, and the curse of a broken law, to which they were in bondage. But yet let it be observed, that there is a great disparity betwixt, Gideon's way of rescuing Israel, and Christ's way of delivering his people from their spiritual bondage; for Gideon at that time delivered Israel by the force of carnal arms, “ with the confused noise of the warrior, and garments rolled in blood;" but the weapons of Christ's kingdom are not such ; no, they "are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds." Christ's kingdom is to be reared, and spiritual liberty brought about, by burning and fuel of fire, or s by the Spirit of judgment, and the Spirit of burning," chap. iv. 4; that is, by the power of the Spirit of Christ coming along with the dispensation of gospel light, which would burn up and consume the lusts and corruptions of men, and all the works of the devil, even as fire consumes any combustible matter that is cast into it,
Now, if any should ask who is he, and where is he, that
shall do all these great things? Why, here you have an answer in the words of my text, For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given, and the government shall be upon his shoulder, &c. The prophet, chap. vii. 14, had told them that “a virgin should conceive, and bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel:" now, says he, this is he that shall do all these great wonderful things on his appearance upon the stage of time; for to us he is born, and to us he is given.
In the words we may notice these things following: (1.) The incarnation of the great Messias; for here the prophet speaks of his birth. (2.) His donation; he is the gift of God to a lost world, Unto us a son is given. (3.) His advancement to the supreme rule and authority, The government shall be upon his shoulder. (4.) His character and designation, in five names here given him, which shows that he has a name above every name, Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of peace. (5.) We have the relation he stands in to lost sinners of Adam's family; he is born to us, he is given to us, and not to the angels which fell
. (6.) We have the application and triumph of faith upon all this; for the church here lays claim to him, and triumphs in her claim; for the words are uttered in a way of holy boasting, Unto us this child is born, unto us this son is given ; much like the triumph of the spouse, Cant. v. 16: 6. This is my beloved, and this is my friend, o daughters of Jerusalem;" as if she had challenged the whole world to show his match. I have discoursed already of the first two of these particulars, and now I go on to the third, namely, the authority with which Christ is vested in the church, by his Father's ordination, The government shall be upon his shoulder.
Sirs, you have been this day travelling with him to Gol. gotha and Calvary, where you might see him bearing his cross, yea, nailed to it, and pouring out his soul unto death, in a way of satisfaction to justice for our sins. But I would lead you to mount Sion, that you may view him swaying the sceptre of heaven ; for the government is laid upon his shoulder, the Father hath put all things into his hand for the good of his church. What is needful for the explication of these words, will occur in speaking this doctrine.
Doct.-“That as the church is Christ's peculiar kingdom in this world; so the government of it is, by the Father's ordination, committed to him, or laid upon his shoulder.”
For confirmation of the doctrine, I need only repeat the words of the text, though many other scriptures might be ad. duced, which, to gain time, I wave at present, Unto us a Child
is born, unto us a Son is given, and the government shall be upon his shoulder.
In discoursing on which doctrine, through divine assistance, I shall endeavour to do these things:
I. I would offer a few thoughts respecting the church, or kingdom of Christ in the world.
II. Speak a little of the government of his kingdom.
I. The first thing is, to offer a few thoughts respecting the church, or kingdom of Christ in this world.
1. Then, By the church I understand the remnant of Adam's family, who, being determined to break their covenant with hell, and their agreement with death, join themselves to Christ, as their prophet, priest, and king, either in reality, or by a visible and credible profession of their faith in him. This remnant of Adam's family, as they are scattered through the world, make the church universal: and any particular member of this, whether in a nation, congregation, or family, are called particular churches, national, parochial, or domestic; but still these are but branches of the church universal, which makes the mystical body of Christ in the world,
2. The church or kingdom of Christ, during the Old Testament dispensation, iras peculiarly confined to the posterity of Abraham, to the nation of the Jews, excepting a few Gentile proselytes; but now, since the coming of Christ in the flesh, and his resurrection from the dead, is extended also to the Gentile nations, according to Psal. ii. 8: The partition-wall being removed, and the door of faith opened to the Gentiles, Christ is now set for an ensign to the Gentile world: Is. xi. 10:“ And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek, and his rest shall be glorious.”
3. All the subjects of Christ's kingdom and government, are originally brought out of the territories of hell, being "children of wrath, even as others.” Every man hy nature comes into this world wearing the devil's livery of original sin, and of a depraved nature, till Christ, in a day of power, come and set the captive of the mighty at liberty; the strong man keeps
r the house, till Christ, who is the stronger, enter in and spoil bim of his goods, and translate the poor soul from the power of darkness into his kingdom of light.
4. The great engine by which Christ rears up a kingdom
to himself in the world, is the preaching of the everlasting gospel, accompanied with the power and efficacy of his Spirit. This is called the rod of his strength," by which he makes “a willing people.” The gospel is the power of God unto salvation;" and it is by these weapons which ware not carnal, but mighty through God,” he casts down strong-holds.
5. The church and kingdom of Christ being founded and governed by him, " in whom all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are bid,” cannot miss of being one of the best regulated societies in the world as under bis management, whatever irregularities may be found in her through the corruptions of men intermingling with the concerns of the kingdom. The church, because of her comely order and regularity, and as she is moulded by her King in the midst of her, is compared to a city lying four-square, Rev. xxi.; she is said to be “comely as Jerusalem, beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth.” Every thing necessary to render any kingdom or society regular, is to be found in the church or kingdom of Christ. As,
Ist, A kingdom well constituted has its laws; and so has the church of Christ. And the laws given by her King are all holy, just, and good; and all the true subjects of the kingdom delight in the laws of their King, as being the transcript of infinite wisdom and equity.
2dly, A kingdom has its officers under its king; and so has the church of Christ ; for“ he gave some, a postles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ,” Eph. iv. 11--13. And it is by his officers, or office-bearers, that you have been served this day at his table, according to his direction.
3dly, A kingdom has its courts, where the subjects attend to receive the will of the king, and the benefits of his administration; and so has the church. David, speaking of the Old Testament church, and particularly of Jerusalem, a type of the New Testament church, tells us, “ There are set thrones of judgment, the thrones of the house of David, whi. ther the tribes go up, the tribes of the Lord, unto the testimony of Israel.” The church of Christ, even the church militant, has her courts for government, where the key of disci. pline is exercised; and her courts for worship, where the doctrine, the ordinances of worship, are dispensed.
4thly, A kingdom has its seal: we hear frequently of the broad seal of the kingdom, which is commonly appended to
charters for their confirmation. So in the kingdom of Christ, he has appended two public seals to the charter of his covenant of grace, namely, baptism, and the Lord's supper; the last of which we have been this day dispensing to you, for the confirmation of your faith, as to the validity of the charter: and happy for ever is that man who has got the internal seal of the sacrament, and privy seal of the Holy Spirit with it; for he is “sealed to the day of redemption."
5thly, A kingdom commonly has its enemies to grapple with, both foreign and intestine; and so has the kingdom of Christ. The gates of hell, and its auxiliaries, have in all ages been attempting to overthrow the kingdom of Christ in the world; the dragon with his angels and armies make war against Mi. chael and his angels: and the war between the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent, like that betwixt Amalek and Israel, will never end while the world stands. But besides foreign enemies, the church of Christ has to deal with intestine enemies, corrupt officers, members, and ministers, pretending to build, and yet causing the work to cease, in as far as in them lies. Yea, the true subjects of this kingdom of Christ, have the enemy of a deceitful and corrupt heart within them, that is ready to join hand with the enemy that is more foreign. The kingdom of Christ is a theatre of continual war, from the disturbances perpetually created by some of these enemies, and will be militant while in this world; "for we wrestle not against flesh and blood" only, “ but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places :" and you who have been this day at the banqueting house, provide and prepare for the battle, &c.
6thly, A kingdom has its armies and auxiliaries; and so bas the church of Christ, being in a confederacy with the Lord of hosts. The armies of heaven are ready to fight her quarrel, and to step into the assistance of the true believer, who is endeavouring to fight the good fight of faith, under the conduct of the Captain of salvation. And because all the subjects are soldiers, here is a suitable military equipage provided for them, “the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation," &c.
7thly, A kingdom has its fortifications and strong-holds; and so has the church of Christ: Is. xxvi. 1: “In that day shall this song be sung in the land of Judah; We have a strong city, salvation will God appoint for walls and bulwarks." The strong ramparts of the kingdom are the divine attributes; for “as the mountains are round about Jerusalem, so the Lord encompasseth them that fear him." A God in Christ is the church's refuge, Psal. xlvi. 1: “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble,"