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are the parts, viz., theory and practice, as of other mysteries, so particularly of the mysteries of kingdoms : they are in short the secrets of government. If a mystery of this sort be not one of the highest kind, whether we regard the dignity of the subject, or its important results, there is no higher that men can be intrusted with, or of which they can have any conception.
I. For if we look first into the mystery of the natural kingdom, where the invisible Sovereign of the world animates, sustains, and perpetuates the endless variety of creatures which his Almighty Word has originated, we shall find more glories there than we know how to admire sufficiently, and more food for contemplation than the longest life and most craving appetite could exhaust, even if theory was all our business upon earth. Indeed the pursuit of nature, if it spring from proper motives, v. g. from a love and esteem of its object, not only is a source of sweetest delight, but will also prove both a dutiful tribute to the wisdom of its Author, and a profitable speculation for the pursuer as a means of contracting and assimilating him to that all-good and gracious Being, who is said to rejoice in his works (Ps. civ. 31).
But the Creator has not formed men to be passive spectators only in this ample theatre, neither has he formed so many creatures, whether animate or inanimate, for the support, comfort, and delight of human existence, without leaving men a share of employment wide enough to connect them with the great undertaking, and to encourage an interest therein. If we have animals, fruits, and vegetables allotted for our use, we must be at the expense of rearing and cultivating them; if flowers, trees, and shrubs for our delight as well, we must be at the pains to assemble and arrange them ; if the face of nature is beauti. fully varied to our eye, the eye has not only to survey, but to superintend it, and see to its improvement. So that by deigning to take a species that he made lower than the angels, (Ps. viii. 5,) as his auxiliaries in the mystery of nature, its Almighty Lord has given to them a part for practice as well as for theory in this beautiful and sublime department; crowning them so far with glory and worship.
II. It is not, however, in the department of nature alone, that men are so crowned and virtually acknowledged. There are likewise in the department of God's providence crowns of every description and magnitude, which he is graciously pleased to bestow on those whom he vouchsafes to take for his coadjutors therein. He has crowns for the fathers of families, as well as for the fathers of nations ; crowns for the servants of one, and for the ministers of the other; crowns for their children, and crowns for their subjects ; a crown for each of all who discharge their parts or governments with fidelity in whatever sphere or station he may be pleased to require them: which is to each a crown of righteousness here, and of glory hereafter. Such are the mysteries of kingdoms or governments simply considered.
In composition of parts, whatever any individual can either think or do in or concerning any art, craft, or station, will also be a part of the general mystery of the kingdom to which it belongs, in the same manner as all that he can either think or do in or concerning any art, craft, or station belonging to the kingdom is a part of the mystery of such art, craft, or station. Therefore, to comprehend the mystery of the Kingdom of God in Christ, it is necessary to be acquainted with its theory or doctrine generally, and with its practice as far as we have to do with it; or with the Christian modes of thinking and doing theoretically in general, and practically as far as we may be concerned. For the sake of this acquaintance we ought previously to have some general conception of the kingdom itself and of the mystery of the kingdom. “And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness” (Tim. I. iii. 16).
The mystery of the kingdom of God in Christ is the mystery of godliness complete. It was born in the maturity of the
world by a divine conception : and when it appeared, both the abortive mysteries of the gentiles declined and were lost in the vanity of their origin like so many shining meteors, and the prophetic light of Israel fainted before it like a morning star in the heavens before the majestic rising of their grand luminary. For“ God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things” (Heb. i. 1, 2): and the drift of all that he said or did upon earth was, to inculcate both by example and precept the mystery which is now honoured with his
We call it Christianity; and the entire scope or essence of the same, whether it be called Christianity or the mystery, will amount to this effect, v.g. “God in Christ reconciling the world unto himself” (Cor. II. v. 19).
In this duly studied and practised we shall find a mild interest and a safe, a never failing nor deceiving interest : we shall find all that we can desire for the satisfaction of our minds, the comfort of our souls, and the improvement of our eternal condition : we shall find the counterpart of its divine original, who is the light and the life of man,
a teacher come from God” (John iii. 2); and that expressly for the purpose of disseminating the mystery upon earth; to open a communication between the inhabitants of this lower world and the higher intellectual orders above; to initiate mankind into a participation and enjoyment of the heavenly treasures which flow from the infinity of their bountiful Creator, raising them to a communion with God and angels, and fitting them for the same by means of the common interest, employment and support afforded in this general undertaking. “I am the bread of life, (said he, he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst" (John vi. 35); and experience proves the truth of his assertion : experience therefore proves that his mystery is true, since the soul approves and can desire nothing be
yond it. For the joy of the Christian institution has been known to swallow up that of every other as soon as it was felt, like Aaron's rod swallowing up those of the sorcerous Egyptians (Exod. vii. 12); it ravishes like a “hidden treasure,” or “a pearl of great price," on their discovery (Mat. xiii. 44, 45), as our Saviour after his manner compares
be said because it is very likely to happen-and then, if our feelings may prove any thing for religion in general, they will prove most decidedly the advantage of the Christian beyond every other as well as beyond every other possession. For it goes directly to the heart, and converts its affections from earth to heaven, as a graft converts the vegetable juice from sour to sweet, there is nothing earthly nor sensual belonging to it; nor any thing tending to the pitiful, base and discordant purposes for which a sensual life is, distinguished. “The wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy" (Jam. iii. 17), says St. James.
Then carrying this experience forward from our own bosom and own inward sensations to the world around us; if we consider the happy influence of the Christian institution, or of the mystery of the kingdom of God in Christ on the genius and morals of a nation, we shall perceive that it has there also the same advantage over others as in its private operations, and that generally as well as individually the more Christian any people are, the more virtuous, the more intelligent, and of course the more happy. "Righteousness exalteth a nation" (Prov. xiv. 34), says the wise man; and Christianity, we know, has exalted the nations that profess obedience to it above all the nations upon earth : of all religious institutions therefore Christianity must be the true or most righteous. It is the basis of true morality, a source of the highest wisdom, a guide to unalloyed happiness, and the staff of our political as well as our individual existence. For thus one might reason--true'morality is the only bond of society, and true religion the only bond of morality : hence it may be always remarked, that where true religion is wanting, there morality; where morality, there civil union; and where civil union, of course there can be no society, to say nothing of personal government and consistency-which cannot exist without some fixed principles, being good ones too.
And if ever this religion, mystery or heavenly wisdom, or rather its profession, has been adopted merely as a cloak to earthly ambition, or as an instrument to serve the insatiable avarice of some who really mind the present state more than the future, whatever they may pretend; who have no higher view in life than that of making provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof” (Rom. xiii. 14); who calling themselves spiritual persons too perhaps, still prove themselves to be carnal by their practice, and while they would be thought the followers of Christ in their fashion, are wholly addicted to the service of Mammon; who making a great account of the mystery in appearance, decidedly undervalue it in all their transactions, preferring what they can get by any other means before the wisdom to be gained by this, and others for the sake of that; as if it was an honour to be near the possession of wealth; cringing, caballing and oppressing continually in the true spirit of their flinty tyrant all this only proves, that they are not as spiritual as the calling they profess. If they are polluted, it is pure; if they are turbulent, it is peaceable; if they are hot and vindictive, it is gentle and forgiving; if they are selfish and spiteful, it is liberal and beneficent; if they are respecters of persons, the mystery makes no distinction; if they are hypocrites in what they profess, it is not their profession that makes them hypocrites. Their profession, if duly cultivated, would make them first pure like itself, then peaceable, gentle and easy to be intreated, without partiality and without hypocrisy ; kind to every one without exception, if not without distinction,