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'human confederacies marshalled under different ranks, and divided into separate and perhaps conflicting political bodies? Is it really the fact that christendom, so called, has come in the place of the former kingdom of God among the Jews ; and that Christ's kingdom in Britain may engage in bloody conflict with his kingdom in France, or Spain, or Swedenthat the defender of the faith in our land may give mortal battle to his christian majesty in France, while he in his turn is robbing, plundering, and murdering the christian subjects of his most catholic brother across the Pyrenees?
Need I say to a christian assembly of protestant dissenters, that christianity has nothing to do with such things? It may, contrary to its own declared design, be forced into unholy alliance with the world, and made part and parcel of the laws of an earthly kingdom;—its privileges may be regulated by human legislation, and claimed as matter of earthborn right by worldly men ;-it may be the object of fierce contention-wars and bloodshed may be caused or occasioned by its pretended friends in defence, or for the advancement of its pretended interests ;—its very existence may be supposed to be at stake by the changes of human administration, or the measures of earthly governments, so that men may tremble
for what they regard as the ark of God, and howl with dismay-The church is in danger : but it is independent of all such circumstances, superior to all such fears, and enters its loudest protest against its claims being compromised by such measures, or identified with such parties.
No! The subjects of the present dispensation are only the regenerated persons who are born into the Redeemer's kingdom, not by blood, nor according to the will of the flesh, nor according to the will of man; but by the Word and the Spirit of God. They are the ransomed of the Saviour's blood in all nations to which his gospel comes; and where it is blessed by his own Spirit to the gathering out of the world a people to himself. They are those who have experienced the blessedness of forgiveness through the riches of his grace; who are partakers of his own Spirit, and led to imitate his high and holy example: in whose characters and conduct faith is the great principle of influence and action; in whose souls the love of an incarnate and suffering Redeemer has exerted its expanding and purifying power ; whose chief privileges in this world are to be found in their spiritual connexion with Jesus and one another; and whose hopes terminate not on any state of terrestrial felicity, but on the blessed assurance of their Master's coming, and of their eternal association with him.
These are the persons who constitute, whereever they are found, the kingdom of heaven, and over whom the reign of God has commenced in this world. These and these alone the Saviour acknowledges to be his subjects, and who constitute the true glory of his church. Such persons cannot be created by human power, or the arrangements of worldly policy. Their numbers can neither be ascertained nor regulated by boundaries of human definition ; nor can their principles, rights, or privileges be determined by any human decrees. Dependent on the King of Zion alone for their existence, their happiness, and their hopesthey feel the extent of their obligations to him, in the very security which they experience, and in the independence of their felicity on any worldly condition.
In perfect agreement with these views of the subjects of the dispensation is the language of prophecy, and the authoritative explanations of its inspired interpreter. “Finding fault with the first covenant-Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: not according to the former covenant which I made with their fathers, in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord. For this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel: After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts : and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people: and they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest. For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.” *
2. Spiritual persons can be directed and governed only by spiritual laws; by which I mean, laws emanating from a spiritual authority, addressed to spiritual principles, and intended and fitted to promote spiritual objects. And such are all the laws of the kingdom of heaven. It recognises only one authority—that is Christ's. In the government of his church he admits of no equal, no rival, no subordinate power, in the shape of authority, or as entitled to the homage of his people's obedience. No creature must step between the christian lawgiver and the christian people, even to give an explanation of the christian code, which they are bound to receive. We have but
* Heb. viii. 8-12. See Note E.
one statute book, but that is inspired, luminous, and complete. It bears the impress of its divine author on every page. It speaks with all the majesty of his heavenly voice, and is as imperative in its commands as it is persuasive in its counsels and rich in its consolation. · These laws are invariably addressed to principles which belong essentially to the christian character, and where those principles do not exist, acceptable obedience is impracticable. Jesus reigns only over a willing people, over those who have not only been chosen by him to be his disciples, but who have chosen him to be their Master and Lord as well as their Saviour. To whom are the apostolic epistles which contain the principal part of the will of Christ addressed ? To the saints, the faithful brethren, the called, the chosen, the beloved of the Lord. What are the principles on which the diversified injunctions of these letters are founded? The faith of the disciples in the Lord Jesus, their love to him and all the saints for his name's sake, gratitude for the spiritual deliverance experienced, hope in the glory promised, confidence in the power and faitbfulness of Him who loved them and gave himself for them. The principles which make up the character, and constitute the chief glory, of the men of the world—the love of