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shall offer gifts: yea, all kings shall fall down before him: all nations shall serve him.
THE priesthood of Christ is that to which our attention is principally called in the New Testament; the Epistle to the Hebrews being almost exclusively written upon that subject: but in the Old Testament there seems to be a far more studied exhibition of his kingly office. The whole Levitical law indeed typically displayed his priestly character: but the Prophets continually, in the most express terms, declared, that the person, who was to be “ a child born and a son given,” should have “the government upon his shouldera," and that an universal and everlasting dominion should be committed to him. The psalm before us is altogether occupied in describing the nature of his government, and the blessings which should result from it. There was doubtless some reference to Solomon, who was the first of the Israelites that was both “a king, and a king's son":" but the language in many parts cannot with any truth or propriety be applied to him : it can relate to none but Him who was greater than Solomon, even to the Messiah, whose glory no words can adequately describe.
The sublime passage which we have selected for our meditation at this time, will lead us to shew, I. The nature of Christ's government
It has generally happened, that those whose power has been most absolute have been most tyrannical in their use of it; and that they have sought rather the aggrandizement of themselves than the good of their subjects. But the administration of Christ, like the influence of the heavens, is, 1. Gently operative
[“ The showers gently descending on the parched ground, or the new-mown grass,” insinuate themselves in a silent and imperceptible manner to the roots, and cause the suspended powers of vegetation to exert themselves with renewed vigour. It is thus that Christ, by his word and Spirit, renovates the soul. He comes not with the sanctions of the law, which, like
a Isai. ix. 6, 7. b Dan. vii. 13, 14. c ver. 1.
an impetuous torrent or a desolating tempest, spread terror and dismay: he descends to us rather in mild invitations and gracious promises, which, through the effectual influences of his Spirit, penetrate the recesses of the heart, and give life and vigour to the whole man. When once we are cut down, as it were, and made to feel our need of him, then he pours upon us the riches of his grace, to soften the hardness of our hearts, and to invigorate the withered faculties of our souls. As it was not by “the wind, the earthquake, or the fire, that God wrought upon Elijah, but by the still small voice,” at the sound of which the prophet "wrapped his face in his mantled;" so it is with respect to the secret visits of our Lord. When he is pleased to speak to us in the mild accents of his love, then the heart is dissolved in tenderness and contrition, or sweetly elevated in devout and grateful adorations.] 2. Richly productive
[The sickly plants, when watered, raise up their drooping heads, and bring forth, each according to its nature, their proper fruits. Thus, in the day of Christ's descent upon the souls of the "righteous, they flourish :” and “ peace,” the first-fruit of the Spirit, " abounds within them.” The image in the text beautifully represents the change which is produced, when “a season of refreshing comes from the presence of the Lord :” the person thus highly favoured "flourishes” like the palm-tree; he becomes as
a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth fruit in his season: his leaf does not wither; and whatsoever he doeth, it prosperse.” If the sun of persecution arise upon him, it does not now scorch him and destroy his root', but rather calls into activity his vital energies; and serves only to display with fuller evidence the communications he has received from heaven. Nothing now robs him of his peace. Much as he laments his former iniquities, they no longer disturb his peace, because the guilt of them is washed away in “the fountain opened for sin.” Nor does the prospect of death and judgment appal him, because “ he knows in whom he has believed," and that “ there is no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus." His rapturous joys may intermit and subside, but his peace shall continue “ as long as the moon endureth."]
A due consideration of these things will lead us to rejoice in, II. The extent of his dominion
Earthly monarchs have vainly imagined themselves
d 1 Kings xix. 11–13. e Ps. xcii. 12, 13. and i. 3.
possessed of universal empire: but it is to Christ alone that this truly and properly belongs. His dominion extends itself over, 1. The most distant places
[Solomon's empire was the most extensive of any that was governed by Jewish kings. It reached from the river Euphrates to the Red Sea; and comprehended all the countries between the Euphrates and the Mediterranean: "it was from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth." But Christ has literally " the utmost ends of the earth for his possession." His kingdom was speedily erected in every part of the known world : and at this moment there are multitudes in every civilized nation under heaven, yea, amongst barbarians also and savages, who acknowledge him as their supreme Governor, and render the most cheerful obedience to his commands. Already is that prophecy fulfilled, “ From the rising of the sun even unto the going down of the same, my name shall be great among the Gentiles; and in every place incense shall be offered unto my name, and a pure offerings.” In this therefore we have a pledge that the knowledge of him “shall yet more extensively prevail, and shall one day cover the earth as the waters cover the sea h.”] 2. The most exalted personages
[It was said of Solomon, in reference to the fore-mentioned countries, that “ all the kings of the earth sought his presence, and brought presents to him; and that he reigned over them!.” Nominally too, a great multitude of kings are subject unto Christ: but, alas! his real subjects have hitherto been few among them. What Paul complained of in his time has been verified in all succeeding ages to the present day ; “ Not many wise, not many mighty, not many noble are called k." But the time is coming when the most potent monarchs upon earth shall become his willing subjects, and “bow down themselves, and lick the dust before him," in a humble acknowledgment of their entire dependence on him, and of their unreserved devotion to his will!. “ He is Lord of lords, and King of kings :” and if any will not bend to the sceptre of his grace, they shall be broken in pieces with a rod of ironm.] INFER
8 Mal. i. 11.
h Isai. xi. 9. and Zech. xiv. 9, i 2 Chron. ix. 23, 24, 26. k 1 Cor. i. 26.
1 This seems to be the true meaning of “licking the dust.” Compare Isai. xlix. 23.
m Ps. ii. 9.
1. The folly of refusing submission to him
[The word of Jehovah is pledged, that “the kingdoms of the earth shall become the kingdoms of the Lord and of his Christ":” yea, the Lord Jesus Christ himself hath " sworn, that unto him every knee shall bow, and every tongue shall swearo.” To what purpose then shall we hold out against him, when we know what must infallibly be the issue of the contest? He has told us what he will say to his attendants in the last day; “Bring hither those that were mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, and slay them before me P." Let us then “ be wise in time: let “kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and we perisho."] 2. The blessedness of being his faithful subjects
[It is a rich blessing to live under a mild and equitable government. But no earthly monarch, however well disposed, can render his subjects happy, like the adorable Jesus. He gives us access to him all times, and sheds forth upon us his benign influences, whereby our spirits are revived, and our souls strengthened. What Solomon speaks figuratively in reference to earthly kings, is literally true with respect to him; “ In the light of the King's countenance is life; and his favour is like a cloud of the latter rain"." Happy then art thou, O Israel! Who is like unto thees?" "Let Israel rejoice in Him that made him, and redeemed him; and let the children of Zion be joyful in their King'."]
3. What encouragement we have to exert ourselves for the diffusion of the Gospel throughout the world.
[If we look at the state of the world, or at the weakness of the instruments which we employ, we shall despair of producing any great effects. But we have nothing to fear. God has spoken; and he will do it. Who that sees the effect of the sun and showers upon the earth, and the rapid change which takes place, from the desolations of winter to the verdure of the spring and the fruits of autumn, can doubt the power of the Redeemer's grace to convert and sanctify all the nations of the world? It shall be done; and perhaps, notwithstanding the present unfavourable appearances, the time for it is not so distant as we may imagine. What has already been effected towards it, has been wrought through the instrumentality of a few ignorant or hostile men; so, in like manner, though there were none amongst us who were not ignorant as the Galilean fishermen, or hostile as Saul, the grace of Christ shall be
n Rev. xi. 15.
o Isai. xlv. 23.
p Luke xix. 27.
sufficient, both to raise up instruments and to bless their endeavours. I call upon all of you, then, according to your ability, to be fellow-workers with Christ in this good work, assured, that the events predicted in my text shall certainly be accomplished in God's appointed time; and that our efforts, whether effectual or not for the end proposed, shall be accepted and recompensed by him, whom we serve, and whose empire we labour to establish".]
u For a Mission Sermon, either to Jews or Gentiles,
DCXIX. CHRIST'S GOVERNMENT OF HIS CHURCH. Ps. lxxii. 12—15. He shall deliver the needy, when he crieth ;
the poor also, and him that hath no helper. He shall spare the poor and needy, and shall save the souls of the needy. He shall redeem their soul from deceit and violence: and precious shall their blood be in his sight. And he shall live ; and to him shall be given of the gold of Sheba : prayer also shall be made for him continually; and daily shall he be praised.
THE science of Government is at all times interesting to the human mind. Respecting the different forms of Government, there must of necessity be a great diversity of opinion; but respecting the ends of it there can be but one sentiment in every bosom. The one concern of those in authority should be to promote to the utmost possible extent the welfare and happiness of all who are committed to their charge: and in proportion as this object is pursued, must the existence of Government and the exercise of legitimate authority be numbered amongst the richest blessings bestowed upon mankind. from a conviction of this truth that the Queen of Sheba said to Solomon,“ Happy are thy men, happy are these thy servants, which stand continually before thee, and that hear thy wisdom. Blessed be the Lord thy God, which delighted in thee, to set thee on the throne of Israel: because the Lord loved Israel for ever, therefore made he thee king, to do judgment and justice.” Perhaps in no country, at any period of the world, were these ends of Govern
a 1 Kings x. 8, 9.