FORTY-EIGHTH LORD’S DAY.
THE SECOND PETITION.
Question 123. Which is the second petition?
Answer. “THY KINGDOM COME;” that is, rule us so by thy word and Spirit, that we may submit ourselves more and more to thee; preserve and increase thy Church; destroy the works of the devil, and all violence which would exalt itself against thee, and also all wicked counsels devised against thy holy word, until the full perfection of thy kingdom takes place, wherein thou shalt be all in all.
Thy kingdom come. The sense is, let thy kingdom grow amongst us and increase by continual advances; and always by new accessions, God, let thy kingdom which thou hast in thy church, be enlarged and multiplied.
The Questions which chiefly claim our attention in connection with this petition, are the following:
A kingdom in general is a form of civil government in which some one person possesses the chief power and authority, who, being possessed of greater and more excellent gifts and virtues than others, rules over all ac cording to just, wholesome and certain laws by defending the good and punishing the wicked. The kingdom of God is that in which God alone rules and exercises dominion over all creatures; but especially does he govern and preserve the church. This kingdom is universal. The special kingdom of God that which he exercises in his church consists in sending the Son from the Father, from the very beginning of the world, that he might institute and preserve the ministry of the church, and accomplish his purposes by it that he might gather a church from the whole human race by his word and Spirit rule, preserve and defend it against all enemies raise it from death, and at length, having cast all enemies into everlasting condemnation, adorn it with heavenly glory, that God may be all in all, and be praised eternally by the church.
From this definition we may infer and specify these particular parts of the kingdom of God: 1. The sending of the Son, our Mediator, into the world. 2. The institution and preservation of the ministry by him. 3. The gathering of the church from the whole human race, by the preaching of the gospel, and by the power of the Holy Ghost working true faith and repentance in the elect. 4. The perpetual government of the church. 5. The preservation of it in this life, notwithstanding all the fierce assaults of enemies. 6. The casting of all the enemies of the church into ever lasting punishment. 7. The raising of the church to everlasting life. 8. The glorification of the church in eternal life, when God will be all in all. Of this Kingdom it is said; “I have set my King upon the holy hill of Zion.” “Rule thou in the midst of thine enemies.” “My kingdom is not of this world.” (Ps. 2:6; 110:2. John 18:36.)
From these things it is apparent that this kingdom is not a worldly, but a spiritual kingdom. This is taught in many of the parables of our Lord, as well as in the declaration which he made to Pilate, saying, “My kingdom is not of this world. We are here taught and commanded to pray that this kingdom may come, increase and be defended.
This Kingdom is only one in reality, but differs in the mode of its administration. It is administered differently here from what it is in heaven. It is commonly spoken of and distinguished as the Kingdom of grace and of glory. The same distinction is sometimes expressed in this way; the kingdom of heaven is two-fold the one is begun in this life the other is perfected in the life to come. When we pray, thy kingdom come, we de sire both that it may be established among and in us in this life, and that it may be brought to its highest and ultimate development in the life to come. Yet it is the same kingdom, distinct only by degrees and in the mode of administration. This kingdom, as it exists in this world, has need of means; but in its ultimate state of development, there will be no need of means; because the church will then be perfectly glorified, and deliver ed from the evil of guilt and punishment, when God shall be all in all.
This may be regarded as furnishing an explanation of what the apostle Paul says in reference to this kingdom, 1 Cor. 15:24, where he declares that Christ shall deliver up the kingdom to God even the Father, by which we are to understand that what pertains to the form of the administration of this kingdom, Christ will deliver up to the Father after the glorification of the church, and will then cease to discharge the office of mediator. There will then be no need of conversion, of abolishing of sin, of defence against enemies, of gathering the church, of raising the dead, and glorifying them, because the saints will then have been perfected and gloried. Christ will not then teach his people, for they shall all be taught of God. Prophecies shall be abolished, tongues shall cease, and knowledge shall vanish away; for “when that which is perfect shall come, then that which is in part shall be done away.” The means, therefore, by which the church is now gathered and preserved in the world, will then be no longer required. There will then be no enemies to subdue; but the church will reign gloriously with Christ, and God shall be all in all; that is, he will manifest and communicate himself immediately to the blessed. “And I saw no temple therein (viz: in this kingdom in its state of ultimate development) for the Lord God Almighty, and the Lamb are the temple of it- And the city shall have no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it; for the glory of God did lighten, and the Lamb is the light thereof.” (Rev. 21:22, 23.)
The Head and King of this Kingdom is one, because there is one God, the Father, Son and Holy Ghost. The Father reigns by the Son and Holy Ghost. Christ is the Head of this Kingdom in a particular manner. 1. Because he is God, sitting at the right hand of the Father, ruling all things in equal power and glory with the Father. 2. Because he is Mediator, or that person through whom God the Father works immediately and gives the Holy Spirit. “When the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father.” “And gave him to be Head overall things to the church.” (John 15:26. Eph. 1:22.)
The citizens of this Kingdom include, 1. The angels, who are confirmed in holiness. 2. The saints in heaven composing what is called the church triumphant. 3. The godly, or those who are converted and still living in the world, having as yet many cares and remains of corruption, composing what is called the church militant. 4. Hypocrites, who are members merely of the visible church, without being truly converted. These are merely apparent citizens, being members of the kingdom of Christ only in name. They are called citizens of this kingdom, as the Jews were called by Christ the children of the kingdom. (Matt. 8:12.) Of these per sons it is said, The first shall be last; (Matt. 20:16) that is, those who wish to be regarded as the first and yet are not, shall be last they shall be declared as such as have no place in the kingdom of God.
The laws according to which this Kingdom is administered are 1. The word of God, or the doctrine of the law and the gospel. 2. The power and efficacy of the Holy Spirit working and reigning in the heart* of the elect by the word.
There is no Kingdom which does not have a regard for the well-being of its subjects. Aristotle, in writing to Alexander, says, “A kingdom is not injury or oppression, but bountifulness,” Hence the kingdom of God has in like manner benefits peculiar to itself. These are the spiritual and eternal benefits of Christ, including true faith, conversion, the forgiveness of sins, righteousness, perseverance in holiness, the Holy Spirit, glorification and eternal life. “If the Son shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.” “The kingdom of God is righteousness, and peace and joy in the Holy Ghost.” “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you; not as the word giveth give I unto you.” (John 8:36. Rom. 14:17. John 14:27.)
The enemies of the kingdom of God are the devil and wicked men. Of the latter, some are in the church as hypocrites, who arrogate to themselves the name and title of citizens of this kingdom, whilst they are nothing more than the pretended friends of Christ. Others again are without the church, and are its open and avowed enemies, as the Turks, the Jews, the Samosatenians, the Arians, and all those who defend errors that subvert the foundation of our most holy religion.
This kingdom, as it respects the beginning and gathering of it, is administered here upon earth, yet in such a way that it is not confined in any one particular place, island, province and nation; but is scattered over the whole world. “I will that men pray every where.” “Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” (1 Tim. 2:8. Matt. 18:20.) No one ever falls from, or loses his right and title in this kingdom if he continues in true faith. This kingdom is administered in heaven as it respects its complete development. “And if I go and prepare a place for you I will come again, and receive you unto myself, that where I am, there ye may be also.” “Where I am, there shall also my servant be.” “Father, I will that they also whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am.” “We shall be caught up to meet the Lord, in the air, and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” (John 14:3; 12:26; 17:24. 1 Thes. 4:17.)
The gathering of this kingdom continues from the beginning to the end of the world, because there always were, now are, and ever shall be some members of the true church, whether few or many, who are to be gathered from the world into the kingdom of God. This kingdom will continue in its state of perfection from the glorification of the righteous to all eternity. “Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father;” which, as we have already observed, must be understood respecting the form of the administration of this kingdom. (1 Cor. 15:24.)
This kingdom comes to us in four ways:1. By the preaching of the gospel, which reveals unto us a knowledge of the true and heavenly doctrine. 2. By conversion, when some are converted to God, who grants unto them faith and repentance. 3. By increase and development. When the godly make progress in holiness, or when the gifts peculiar to the faithful are continually being increased in those who are converted. “He that is righteous, let him be righteous still; and he that is holy let him be holy still. (Rev. 22:11.) 4. By the perfection and glorification of the church at the second coming of Christ. “Even so come Lord Jesus.” (Rev. 22:20.)
We ought to pray that the kingdom of God may come both as to its commencement and ultimate development, 1. On account of the glory of God, or for the sanctification and hallowing of his name; for that we may sanctify the name of God, it is necessary that he should rule us by his word and Spirit. If God does not establish his kingdom in us, and rescue us from the kingdom of the devil, we will never sanctify his name, but rather defile and cast reproach upon it, so that this second petition is necessary on account of the first. 2. On account of our comfort and salvation. God gives this kingdom to none except those who desire and pray for it, just as he gives the Holy Ghost to none but such as desire him. From these things we may readily perceive what it is that we pray for by this petition, thy kingdom come. We desire and pray that God will by his Son, our mediator, whom he sent into the world from the very beginning, 1. Preserve the ministry which he has instituted. 2. That he would collect his church by the ministry of his word, and the influence of the Holy Spirit. 3. That he would rule and govern the church thus gathered, and us his members, by his Holy Spirit, who may subdue our hearts, control and change our wills, and conform us wholly to himself. 4. That he would defend us and the whole church against all enemies and tyrants. 5. That he would cast all his and our enemies into everlasting punishment. 6. That he would at length deliver his church and us from all evils, and glorify us in eternal life.
Obj. But that which our prayers neither hasten, nor retard, is sought .and prayed for in vain. The kingdom of God, or the deliverance of the church from all the evils and miseries to which it is here subject, will not take place sooner or later than God has decreed it. Therefore it is sought and prayed for in vain. Ans. We deny the major proposition; for if this were so we might reason and conclude in the same way in reference to all the benefits which God confers upon us, that they should not be sought, inasmuch as they are all comprehended in his counsel. To this it is replied as follows: 1. But God has promised other blessings, with the condition that we should ask them at his hands. Ans. So also deliverance from all evils shall at length reach and be granted only to those in that day, who desire and long for it, whilst groaning under the cross, and who pray that it may come according to the decree of God, and that not one of the elect may be excluded.
2. But we ought not to pray that God would hasten the deliverance of the church, because this would result in the loss of many of the elect who are not as yet born into the world. Ans. When we pray that God would hasten the deliverance of the church, we also pray that all those who are to be brought into the fold of Christ may speedily be brought in, so that not one may be excluded, and this we do, 1. That the church may be speedily delivered, and that all the godly may enjoy a full and perfect rest from all their labors and cares. 2. That wickedness and ungodliness of every description may be speedily brought to an end, and that all the enemies of Christ and his church may be cast into everlasting punishment. 3. That the glory of God may be speedily seen in the perfect deliverance of the church and the rejection of all her enemies. We should, therefore, desire and ask of God in our daily prayers this our deliverance, and that also of the whole church, if we ourselves would at length be delivered with the church; for those who do not desire and pray for the coming of the Lord, to them he will not come, as to his saints.
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