Page images
[merged small][ocr errors]

Christ their king. Hence, they we may pertinently proceed to
all have one spirit, and are of a the second question, viz.
peculiar character, very differ How did the kingdom of heay-
ent from the rest of mankind : en suffer violence from the days
they are all holy--" a holy na- of John the Baptist?
tion.” They are united in the The original greek word, here
same faith-in the same funda- rendered by the phrase, “suffer-
mental principles and doctrines, eth violence," admits of an ac-
the doctrines of Christ, which tive or passive signification-to
are widely different from those press upon, or to be pressed
of every other society, nation, or upon. In Luke xiv. 16, where
kingdom. They are governed the same fact is stated by
by and yield obedience to a pe- Christ, the same word is trans-
culiar system of laws, differing, lated presseth."-" The law and
in many respects, from the laws the prophets were until John ;
of all other kingdoms. The since that time the kingdom of
laws of Christ exhibited in the God is preached, and every man
gospel are their rule of life. presseth into it.” Here the
Hence, They are distinguished word rendered presseth, is pre-
from all other societies and king- cisely the same in the original,
doms, by the grand object and that in Matthew is rendered suf-
end of their union. This is to fereth violence.
glorify God and enjoy him for “ All the prophets and the law


It is to attain and possess prophesied until John.” By the salvation from sin, and complete predictions of the prophets, and victory over all the enemies of by the sacrifices and various typGod and themselves perfect ical rites and ordinances of the holiness-perfect conformity to law, the kingdom of heaven, the God, and complete happiness gracious and happy government in the enjoyment of him. Of of the Messiah, and the privilecourse, by their great and pe- ges and blessings peculiar to his culiar privileges, they are excee- administration, were represendingly distinguished from and ted as future and at some displaced high above the rest of tance. But when John came mankind. They are in a state and entered upon his public minof peace and favor with God, istry, he declared the period under the special care, protec. just arrived, for the speedy comtion and government of Christ mencement or exhibition of this their head and their king. And heavenly kingdom.“ Repent when all other kingdoms come ye” said lie ; " for the kingdom to a perpetual end, this will be of heaven is at hand.” He signibrought to its most complete and fied that he came as the immeperfect state, to endure for diate forerunner of the Messiah,

to prepare

his way; and that the Is not this a kingdom worth Messiah himself would follow taking pains for ? Are not the quickly after him : yea, that he privileges and blessings to be was already come, and would enjoyed in it such as may well soon be openly manifested, and engage mankind to labor and produce great and wonderful efstrive, with all their might, to fects. To the multitudes, who obtain possession of it? Hence, I came to his baptism, John




preached in a very awakening and es written by the four evangelalarming manner, adapted to con- ists, it is sufficiently evident, that vincethem of their sin and danger, numbers of those who were conof the necessity;of repentance, and siderably awakened and alarmof evidencing it by its propered by the preaching of John, of fruits and effects in their prac-Christ, and of others, and excitice, that they might share in ted for a time to attend to their the distinguishing blessings of instructions, as though they the kingdom of heaven then at meant and expected to be subhand, and escape the terrible jects of the kingdom of heaven destruction represented by cut- and partake of its blessings, nevting down and casting into the ertheless stopt short of a cordial fire every tree, which did not reception of Christ or the gosbring forth good fruit.

pel, and did not become real subThen commenced, and from jects of his kingdom, and failed thence to the time when Christ of sharing its peculiar blessings. spake the words of the text, as | These, notwithstanding their enwell as afterwards, continued, the gagedness and high expectaardor after the kingdom of heaven tions, did not attain to or posto get into it, and to obtain and sess the character of the violent, enjoy its peculiar privileges and who took or laid hold of the blessings, signified by its suffer- kingdom of heaven, but were ing violence. Numbers were as destitute of their temper and much engaged, and pressed for- spirit. ward with as great resolution, to King Herod feared John, lay hold and get possession of knowing that he was a just man this kingdom, that they might and an holy, and observed him, partake of its blessings, as if they and when he heard, he did many were assaulting a town or castle, things, and heard him gladly. and determined to push forward He had such a conviction that at all events, at every hazard, John was a holy man of God, till they were in possession of it. that he performed many things -Something like this, I con- which John inculcated, and someceive, is signified by the word times willingly and gladly heard which is rendered" suffereth vi- him preach, from a selfish desire olence.”—This brings us to the and hope of deriving some benthird question.

efit from his instruction. But Who are the violent ?

when John reproved him for all The violent are those, wheth- the evils which he had done, and er native Jews, or others, who, particularly, for marrying and under a conviction of their sin living with his brother Philip's and misery, and of the truth of wife, and insisted that it was not what John and others testified lawful for him to have her ; he concerning the kingdom of hea- would not sacrifice his carnal inven, were heartily desirous of clinations and interests, and asharing its blessings in the di-bandon every evil way and pracvinely prescribed and appoint- tice, for the kingdom of heaven's ed way, and ready to sacrifice sake. Herein he showed himevery principle, inclination and self totally destitute of the teminterest which stood in the way. per and spirit of the violent. To

By the short historical sketch-l have supported the character of

the violent who take the king-1 sense and relish of the superior dom of heaven, he must, for its worth and excellence of the bless. sake, have resolutely opposed ings of this kingdom, that they and subdued those evil inclina- were resolutely and perseveringtions and lusts, and ceased from ly determined to receive the doce all those evil practices, and over- trines and obey the commands come those solicitations and re- of Christ, at the expense of evesentments of his unlawful wife, ry principle, inclination and inwhich stood in the way of a cor- terest incompatible therewith, dial reception of the gospel, and and of all the mortification, selfa hearty obedience to its pre- denial, labors and sufferings, necepts.

cessary thereto orimplied there. The young man who came to in—they were the violent, who Christ with the important ques- took the kingdom of heaven by tion, “ What shall I do that I force. This brings us to the may inherit eternal life?” ap- fourth and last question, viz. peared very desirous of endless How did they take the kinghappiness, and to have a good o- dom of heaven by force? What pinion of Christ asa divine teach can be the meaning of this exer, and probably thought he pression ? should readily do every thing in Perhaps the proper import of his power, to secure the inestim- the original is not so happily and able blessing of everlasting feli- justly expressed by the phrase, city. But when Christ said to take it by force.” I would rahim, “Sell whatsoever thou hast, ther render it by the words“ seize and give to the poor, and thou upon it’-r « lay hold on and shalt have treasure in heaven :

secure it." and come, take up the cross, and Suppose a beautiful city, in follow me : he was sad at that which men, were they in possessaying, and went away grieved : sion of it, would find ample sefor he had great possessions.” curity, good accommodations, He appeared not to have resolu- and supplies of every necessary tion sufficient to forsake all for for their support and real happiChrist's sake and the gospel's- ness, is proposed as an object to to take up the cross and follow be taken possession of and enjoy Christ, for the sake of the treas- ed. But the way of access to it is ure in heaven promised him on very difficult and laborious. It is that condition. He could not do so situated and so many obstasuch violence to his attachment cles lie in the way of getting to to his great possessions, to his it, and taking and keeping posworldly interest and inclinations, session of it, that in order to as to sacrifice and give up all for succeed in the attempt, men the kingdom of heaven ; and must push forward with great thus fell short of the character resolution, and disencumber of the violent.

themselves of whatever would But they, who were so sensi- obstruct their progress, and perble of their present guilty and haps submit to the loss of every miserable state, and so convinced thing they have elsewhere. Some of the safety and happiness to be however, feeling the wretchedhad only in the kingdom of ness of their present condition, Christ, and who also had such a 1 and possessed of a high sense of

the inestimable worth of this tion af all their former princi. city, press forward through eve. ples and opinions which were zy obstacle, leaving behind them, repugnant theretom of their owp or dropping and throwing away righteousness and fond hopes of in their course, whatever they obtaining favor with God by any find cannot be carried with them, thing which they did or could do and go resolutely forward to the at the expense of those worldvery walls and gates of the city, ly interests and pursuits, which and seize and take possession of were inconsistent with the docit, and secure to themselves a set-trines and laws of the kingdom tlement in it. This supposed of heaven, submitting to the case may serve, in some meas. | mortifications, self-denials and ure, to illustrate, by way of simil. sufferings, and laborious services itude, the conduct, which, it is required or called to engaging conceived, Christ meant to rep- and persevering in the exercise resent by saying, “ the violent and practice of righteousness and take it by force ;" or seize upon, true holiness, in doing justly, lovlay hold of and secure it. ing mercy, and walking humbly

Whilst the Pharisees and ma with God. They thus engaged ny of the Jews vainly imagined and persevered in obedience to themselves the favorites of God, the doctrines and laws of Christ, and through pride, covetousness watching, praying, wrestling and and worldly lusts, despised and striving against sin and Satan, rejected the calls to repent and the filesh and the world, and believe in and obey the Messiah, whatever stood in their way, numbers, among whom were not in their own wisdom and publicans and harlots and Roman strength; but in an entire de soldiers, and such as the Phari.pendence on the wisdom and sees held in great contempt, were strength, grace and merit of thoroughly convinced of their their king and head, according sinful, dangerous and miserable to his gracious promises to those, state, and also, that forgiveness who cordially take him for their and salvation were to be enjoy- | Lord and Saviour, and proved ed only in the way of repentance victorious by the gift of God and faith in and obedience to through their Lord Jesus Christ. Christ, and becoming real sub- CONCLUDING REMARKS. jects of the kingdom of heaven. 1. In the gospel, the kingdom Of the inestimable worth of the of heaven is still preached-is blessings of this kingdom they yet exhibited and placed before likewise had a strong persuasion us, with all its peculiar privileg. and some relish. Therefore, es and blessings, as an object for like the men in the supposed our choice and pursuit, to be recase just stated, they resolutely ceived, laid hold of and secured, pressed into this kingdom, laid by all who are willing to be subhold of, seized upon and securedjects in it and enjoy its blessings the possession of it, by embra- | in the divinely appointed waycing the doctrine, and obeying on the prescribed terms and colithe precepts, and following the ditions. instructions of John, of Christ, 2. The blessings of this king. and of his special ministers, at dom are well worth all the la. the expense and to the rejec- l bor, pains and expense, sacrifices and sufferings, necessary to es in community, must be conobtain possession of it, and secure sidered as furnishing a sincere à settlement in it.

tribute to his worth, and an am3. The time, in which we ple testimony of his extensive shall have any possible chance or usefulness. All acknowledge the opportunity to lay hold and ob- importance of keeping alive the tain possession of the kingdom memory of such men, that, of heaven and secure its bless-though dead, they may yet speak. ings, is short, very short, and A perusal of the writings beextremely uncertain. It is limit- queathed by them to the world, ed to the present life. It is now, may often have this effect. Un-' or never.

fortunately in the present case, 4. In this kingdom is com- | no such benefit can be experienprised all the real, permanent ced. Such was the extreme good ever to be enjoyed by man- modesty of Dr. S. that though kind. Out of this kingdom there often importuned by his brethis no salvations-no real, perma- ren in the ministry, he never nent good for any human crea- would consent that any of his ture. But every one who does I productions should be published. not become a subject in it, will! The following imperfect not only fail entirely of all true sketch of his life and charcter happiness, but experience the may not be unacceptable to those, extreme of misery for ever, after who cherish in their hearts, the the close of this short and uncer- memory of those great and good tain life!

men, who have done honor to PAREPIDEMOS. the cause of Christianity.

He was born in Sandwich, in

the state of Massachusetts, on the Biographical Sketches of the Rey 17th of June, A. D. 1743, O. S. Job Swift, D. D. who died at

He was graduated at Yale ColEnosburgh, in Vermont, October

lege in 1765. He was by nature 20, 1804.

endowed with those distinguish

ed talents, which would have enN EATH is a subject always abled him to appear with the

U affording religious instruc-highest reputation in any protion. The death of a private per- fession. It was from motives of son, though it furnish to all matter duty that he chose the ministefor useful contemplation, is apt to rial profession, and he was assistinterest but the small number of ed in his preparatory studies by those personally acquainted with the Rev. Dr. Bellamy, of whom the deceased. The death of one he ever afterwards retained a sustaining a public character, es- profound esteem. He was little pecially of a public benefactor to more than twenty-two years of mankind, excites a more general age, when he became a preacher interest and concern. Perhaps of the gospel. In the following in few instances has the death of year, he was ordained over a a minister of the gospeloccasion-church and people in Richmond, ed a more deep and universal Mass. where he labored seven sympathy than that of the Rev. vears. His prospects of useful. Job Swift, D. D. The univer- ness in this place were, for a time, sal grief, manifested by all class- ' favorable and encouraged him to

« PreviousContinue »