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them, was of a spiritual nature, and such as had relation to that spiritual life, which after being begun on earth, was intended to last for ever in heaven.This fingle observation presents us with a just view of the difference between these two sorts of government, which have the things of earth, and the things of heaven for their several objects : A distinction, which St. Paul in another place seems to point out as worthy of our notice, when he tells us, “ the “ first man is of the earth, earthy; the second man “is the Lord from heaven."* Our earthy man must therefore be ruled and directed by such means and instruments, that is, by such forms or modes of government as are suited to the various situations of things on this earth; where we are placed for a while, as in a school of instruction, to fit and prepare us for a more pure and permanent state in that heaven, from which came the fecond man, the Lord,
the Almighty Restorer of our nature, to establish a government suited to the gracious design of his coming, and most admirably calculated to qualify and dispose his happy subjects for the possession of that unfading inheritance reserved for them in “ his · “everlasting kingdom.”
Looking forward, with prophetic eye, to the establishment of this spiritual kingdom, and to the folemn inauguration of its heavenly King, the inspired Psalmist might justly say of it ; “ This is the Lord's
• 1 Cor. xv. 47.
* doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes.”+ The setting up a pure and spiritual kingdom in the midst of a carnal and wicked world, and in spite of all the opposition which the prince of this world could make to it; the founding this spiritual building on a rock, 66 against which the gates of hell should not prevail," was surely an astonishing exertion of divine power, and such as evidently shewed the hand of that Al. mighty Lord, who can do what he pleaseth both in heaven and in earth.
The “ doingg" of men are sometimes a little " marvellous in our eyes,” when we see them not only pulling down and destroying those venerable fabrics of civil government, which have stood for ages, the pride of human policy,--but even at. tempting to subvert the foundation of that ecclesiastical system, which, resting on the folid ground of divine institution, is not to be altered or new modelled, as the work of human device, or in confor. mity to the manners, the prejudices, or civil constitutions of the different nations, in which the Chriftian church has obtained a settlement. Here we cannot but observe a remarkable difference between the “ doing of the Lord,” and that of man, with regard to the nature of their respective works.What the former does, is done at once, and produced in full perfection, according to the nature of the work, and the design which God has in view
† Psalm cxviii. 23.
by producing it. It has therefore been justly observed, that “ God never made his works for man “ to mend ;” nor does it become a poor, dependent, fallible creature, to interfere with, or pretend to alter, the appointments of the supreme, all-wise and good Creator. It is enough for man to reform and improve himself, to amend what is amiss in his own conduct, and correct those errors and mistakes, which experience will discover in the best and wiselt plans of government that have ever been devised by human ingenuity. These, it seems, can only be brought to their admired perfection by slow and leisurely degrees. Even the boasted constitution of this country, which has been so often proposed as a pattern to the neighbouring nations, is well known to have been the gradual work of ages, the happy consequence of that progressive spirit of improvement, which can never be so properly exercised, as in contriving means to supply the defects of human foresight, and to secure to society the benefits arising from the accumulated experience of successive generations.
All this is very proper and necessary to be attend. ed to, as far as we are concerned with the works and inventions of men, and obliged to fhew a due regard to the various schemes of human policy, which have been contrived, and established, for thus securing, as far as may be, the peace and good go. vernment of this world. But the temporal peace and prosperity of such a vain and transitory world, can
not surely be the only, nor the principal objeđ, which man has to regard and attend to, considered as a candidate for eternal happiness in the kingdom of heaven. Viewing himself in this light, he cannot but see the necessity of cultivating a proper acquaintance with the laws and government of that kingdom, and of submitting to that course of probation and discipline which has been appointed for the church of Christ, while militant here on earth, to prepare it for that triumphant state, which it is at last to enjoy with its glorious Head in heaven.-When the pious well-disposed Christian fets himself to acquire a proper knowledge of his duty in this respect; what a happy circumstance is it for him, that the nature and constitution of Christ's kingdom, as settled by himself, were fully declared, and made known to his apostles; those select officers, to whom the original commission was given, “ to convert the “ nations, and teach them to observe all things what“ foever he had commanded them?” On this subject every necessary information may be derived from the doctrine and practice of these apostles, as handed down in the inspired writings of the New Testament, and explained and illustrated by the concurring testimony of the first and purelt ages of the gospel ; all which exhibit in the clearest light the foundation of the Christian church, the form of government established in it, and the manner in which it is to be supported by its Divine Founder, to the end of the world.
Our knowledge of all these circumstances points out the peculiar nature of that spiritual kingdom erected by Christ, and shews how widely it differs, even in its first erection, from the kingdoms of this world. Their constitutions and forms of govern. ment are perpetually changing. What one nation adopts, another rejects : What is admired in this age, perhaps will be reprobated in the next; because the mind of man is not capable of fixing to it. self any certain standard for adjusting the merits of those numberless political theories, which are daily getting abroad into the world. But what was be. yond the compass of human ability has been accomplished by divine power and authority. The church or kingdom of God, as we have already observed, with respect to his holy religion in general, came good and perfect from his hands, and might well suf. fer, but could never be improved by the inventions of men. In tracing it to its purest source, the foun. tains of antiquity must be resorted to, otherwise we shall see but darkly into the troubled waters of latter times, which faction and party have been continually stirring, and thereby producing endless disorder and confusion. Such must always be the case, when men attempt to form a religion, and a church for themselves, and are not satisfied with what God has provided for them.
We must therefore endeavour to make ourselves fufficiently acquainted with what the goodness of God in this respect has done for the children of men;