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are engaged in the work of proselytism; but the laws of this king-
dom, like the laws of every other kingdom, are obligatory only on
the citizens.

The weekly celebration of the death and resurrection of Jesus, and
the weekly meeting of the disciples of Christ for this purpose, and
for the edification of one another in their most holy faith, are the
only positive statutes of the kingdom ; and, therefore, there is no law,
statute, or observance in this kingdom, that in the least retards its
extension from East to West, from North to South, or that can pre-
vent its progress in all the nations of the world.

It is, however, worthy of observation, that every part of the Chris-
tian worship in the small communities spread over the territory of the
kingdom of heaven, like so many candlesticks in a large edifice, are
designed to enlighten and convert the world; and, therefore, in all the
meetings of the family of God, they are to keep this supremely in
view; and to regard themselves as "the pillar and ground of the

Concerning the details of the laws of the kingdom, we can not now
speak particularly. "The favor of God which brings salvation, teaches
all the citizens of heaven, that, denying all godliness and worldly
lusts, they should live soberly, righteously, and godlily in this present
world, expecting the blessed hope^namely, the appearing of the glory
of the great God, and of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who gave himself
for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify to him-
self a peculiar people, zealous of good works." These things the Bish-
ops of every community should teach and enforce; for such is the
spirit and such is the object of all the laws and statutes of the king-
dom of heaven.


In all other kingdoms, except the kingdom of heaven, the territory
is the national domain and inheritance. It was so in the first kingdom
of God under the constitution from Sinai. But in the typical kingdom
they lived at a distance from their inheritance for one generation.
During these forty years, in which they pitched their tents in the


wilderness, God was their inheritance. He rained bread from heaven
upon them, and sent them flesh on the east wind. He made the flinty
rock Horeb a living spring, whose stream followed them all the way
to Jordan. He renewed their garments every day, so that for forty
years they grew not old, nor needed a single patch. A pillar of fire
by night and a cloud by day guided them on towards Canaan, the
land of their inheritance.

The whole earth is the present territory of the kingdom of heaven,
but the new heavens and earth are to be its inheritance. The earth,
indeed, is the Lord's and the fullness thereof; but the children of God
and the children of the wicked one — the wheat and the darnel, are
both planted in it, and must grow together till the harvest. The
righteous have their bread and water guaranteed to them while they
live; for "godliness is profitable to all things, having promise of the
life that noio is, as well as of that which is to come." But the joint
heirs with God are never taught to regard the earth as their inher-
itance. They may indeed say, though poor and penniless, "All things
are ours; whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life,
or death, or things present, or things to come — all are ours, and we
are Christ's, and Christ is God's." But, like the Jews on their jour-
ney to Canaan, "they seek a better country" — "they seek a city yet
to come." "My kingdom," says Jesus, "is not of this world." And,
therefore, in the world Christians are strangers and pilgrims, and may
expect tribulation.

The earth is the present theater of war ; therefore all Christians in
the territory are soldiers. Their expenses are borne, their rations are
allowed, the arms and munitions of war are supplied them from the
magazines in Mount Zion, the stronghold and fortress of the king-
dom; where the King, the heads of departments, and all the legions
of angels are resident. So that, on entering the Army of the Faith,
every soldier is panoplied with the armor of God; and when inducted
into the heavenly tactics under the Captain of Salvation, he is ex-
pected to be a good soldier of Jesus Christ, and to fight the good fight
of faith courageously and victoriously.

The kingdom of heaven on this territory is greatly opposed by the
kingdom of Satan; which ever seeks to make an inheritance out of the
territory of the militant kingdom of righteousness; and, therefore, the
citizens have not to wrestle with flesh and blood, but with the rulers
of the darkness of this world — with spiritual wickedness in high

Ever since the commencement of this kingdom, the governments of
this world have either been directly opposed to it, or, at best, pre-
tended friends; and, therefore, their influence has always been op-
posed to the true spirit and genius of the Christian institution. Chris-


tians have nothing to expect from them except liberty of conscience
and protection from violence, while leading peaceable and quiet lives,
in all godliness and honesty, till Jesus take to himself his great power,
and hurl all these potentates from their thrones, and make his cause
triumphant — a consummation devoutly to l>e wished, and which can
not now be regarded as far distant.


Touching the planners and customs of the kingdom of heaven, they
are such as generally obtained in the land of Judea and in the East at
the time of its erection; or, rather, they are the simple manners and
customs of the family worship age of the world. These are conse-
crated by simply performing them with a regard to Jesus Christ, or
from the motives prompted by the doctrine of the Reign of Heaven.
As we treat our natural brothers and sisters in public and in private
— as we address, salute, and converse with them — as we transact all
family business, and conduct the affairs of the household — so are Chris-
tians to treat one another. There is no other virtue or utility in these,
than as they cherish brotherly kindness and love, and are regarded
to the Lord.


Into every kingdom, human or divine, there is a legal door of admis-
sion. This is, in the statute book of heaven, called a birth. Into
the kingdom of nature we are born. Into the future and ultimate
kingdom of glory we enter, soul and body, by being born from the
grave. As Christ, the first-born from the dead, entered the heavenly
kingdom, so must all his brethren. And as to this kingdom of which
we speak, as now existing in this world, Jesus himself taught that into
it no person can legally enter who is not born again, or "born of u-afcr
and the Spirit."* The analogy is complete between the kingdoms of
nature — of grace — and of glory. Hence we have natural birth, met-
aphorical or spiritual birth, and supernatural birth. There is a being
bom of the flesh — born of the Spirit — born of the grave; and there
Is a kingdom for the flesh — a kingdom for the Spirit — and a kingdom
for the glorified man.

This second, or new birth, which inducts into the kingdom of God
Is always subsequent to a death and burial, as it will be into the ever-
lasting kingdom of glory. It is, indeed, a literal death and burial
before a literal resurrection, into the heavenly and eternal kingdom.
It is also a metaphorical or figurative death and burial, before the
figurative resurrection or new birth into the kingdom of heaven.
Water is the element in which this burial and resurrection is per-

* John iii 5; Til. iii.


formed, according to the constitutional laws of the kingdom of heaven.
Hence Jesus connects the water and the Spirit when speaking of enter-
ing this kingdom of God.

In naturalizing aliens the commandment of the King is first to
submit to them the Constitution, or preach to them the gospel of the
kingdom. Soon as they understand and believe this, and are desirous
of being translated into the kingdom of Christ and of God, that "they
may receive the remission of sins and inheritance among all that are
sanctified," they are to be buried in water, into the name of the
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and raised out of it confessing their
death to sin, their faith in Christ's sacrifice and resurrection; and
thus they are born of water and the Spirit, and constituted citizen.s
of the kingdom of heaven. To as many as thus receive him he gives
privilege to become the children of God; for they are "born of God" —
born of God, when born of water and of the Spirit, because this is the
institution of God.

In these days of apostacy men have sought out many inventions.
Some have attempted to get into the kingdom of heaven without being
born at all. Others imagine that they can be born of the Spirit, with-
out water, and that the King is as well pleased with them who have
been born without a mother, as with those who are lawfully born of
father and mother. Others think that neither Spirit nor water is
necessary; but if they are politically born of the flesh, they can
enter the kingdom as rightfully as the Jewish circumcised infants
enter the earthly kingdom of Israel. But as we have no faith in any
modern improvements of the gospel, change or amendment of the con-
stitution of the kingdom of heaven, we must leave them to account to
the King himself, who "have transgressed the law, changed the ordi-
nance, and broken the everlasting covenant ;" and proceed to the ques-


When did the kingdom of heaven commence? "With the ministry
of John," says one; — "With the ministry of Jesus," says another; —
"With the first sending out of the Twelve Apostles," says a third; —
"At the resurrection of Jesus," says a fourth; — "At none of them: but
by degrees from the baptism of John to the fall of Jerusalem," says a

The reader will please remember that there are at least five ele-
ments essential to a perfect organized kingdom, and that it may be con-
templated in reference to one or more of these component parts.
Hence the numerous and various parables of the Saviour. Sometimes
he speaks of the administration of its affairs — of its principles in the
heart — of its subjects — of its King — of its territory — of its progress —


of various incidents in its history. Hence the parable of the sower —
of the wheat and darnel — of the leaven — of the merchant seeking
goodly pearls — of the grain of mustard seed — of the sweep net — of the
marriage of a king's son — of a nobleman going into a far country —
of the ten virgins — of the talents — of the sheep and goats, present to
our view the kingdom of heaven in different attitudes, either in its
elements or in its history — its commencement or its close.

The approaching, or the coming of the reign of heaven, can properly
have respect only to one or two of the elements of a kingdom; or to
the formal exhibition of that whole organization of society which we
call a kingdom. It can have no proper allusion to its territory; for
that was created and located before man was created. It can not
allude either to the persons who were constituted subjects, for they
too were in existence before the kingdom commenced. It can not
allude to the birth or baptism of the King, for it was not till after
these that Jesus began to proclaim its coming or approach. It can.
not have reference to the ministry of John or of Jesus, any more than
to the patriarchal or Jewish dispensations; because Jesus did not begin
to proclaim the coming of this reign till after John was cast into
prison. This is a fact of so much importance, that Matthew, Mark,
and Luke distinctly and circumstantially declare that, in conformity
to ancient predictions, Jesus was to begin to proclaim in Galilee, and
that he did not eommence to proclaim the doctrine or the gospel of
the coming of the Reign, till after John's ministry ceased and he was
cast into prison. In this assertion the Evangelists agree: — "Now
Jesus [after his baptism and temptation in the wilderness] hearing
that John was imprisoned, retired into Galilee; and having left Naza-
reth, resided at Capernaum. For thus said the Prophet," etc. From
that time Jesus began to proclaim, saying, "Reform, for the Reign of
Heaven approaches;" or, "The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand," as
says the common version.*

Some Baptists, for the sake of immersion, and some of our breth-
ren in the Reformation, for the sake of immersion for the remission
of sins, seem desirous to have John in the kingdom of heaven, and
to date the commencement of the Christian dispensation with the
first appearance of John the Immerser. They allege in support of
this hypothesis that Jesus said, "The Law and the Prophets continued
till John," (the only instructers of men;) "since that time the king-
dom of God is preached, and every man presses into it." "Publicans
and harlots show you the way into the kingdom of heaven," said
Jesus to tho Pharisees. Again, "AlasI for you Scribes and Phari-
sees! for you shut the kingdom of heaven against men, and will
neither enter yourselves, nor permit others that would, to enter."

'Matt. iv. 12; Mark i. U; Luku iii. 'in; iv. U.


"The kingdom of God is within you." "The kingdom of heaven has
overtaken you." From these premises they infer that the kingdom
of heaven was actually set up by John the Baptist: "For, say they,
"how could men and women enter into a kingdom which was not set
up? And did not John immerse for the remission of sins, and call
upon men to repent and reform in order to baptism?"

The Paidobaptists, too, will have Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, Moses,
David, and all the circumcised Jews in the kingdom of heaven,
because Jesus said, "Before Abraham was, I am;" "Abraham saw my
day and was glad;" and Paul says Moses esteemed the reproach of
Christ greater riches than all the treasures of Egypt, and forsook
Egypt in faith of the Christian recompense of reward. Yes, and Paul
affirms that Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and their families, who dwelt in
tents in the promised land, looked not only to the rest in Canaan, but
they sought a heavenly country, and expected the city of foundations,
whose builder and maker is God. Thus the Jews had Christ in the
manna and in the Rock, and baptism in the cloud and in the sea.

The mistake is specifically the same. Christ was promised and
prefigured before he came, and the kingdom of heaven was promised "
and preached by John, by Jesus, the Twelve, and the Seventy, (who
went about proclaiming the glad tidings of the Reign) before the
reign of Christ, or kingdom of heaven, commenced. Because Christ
was promised and prefigured in the patriarchal and Jewish agt^s, the
Paidobaptists will have the kingdom of heaven on earth since the
days of Abel; and because the glad tidings of the reign and kingdom
of heaven and the principles of the new and heavenly order of society
were promulged by John, the Baptists will have John the Baptist in
the kingdom of heaven, and the very person who set it up.

Let us, then, examine this matter with all candor: and first we
shall place the passages above quoted out of the testimonies of the
Evangelists on one side, and the following passages on the other
side; and then see if we can reconcile them. John says, "Reform,
for the reign of God approaches." Jesus began to proclaim, saying,
"Reform, for the reign or kingdom of heaven is at hand." He also
commanded the Twelve and the Seventy to perigrinate all Judea, mak-
ing the same proclamation.* Of John the Baptist he said, though
greater than all the Prophets, "The least in the kingdom of heaven
is greater than he."

Thus after John was beheaded we have some eighty-four preachers
daily proclaiming the nigh approach of the reign of God; and Jesus
often assuring his disciples that the kingdom of God was soon to
appear, and that some of his companions would see him enter upon

*Matt. X. 8; Luke x. 1-11. Wlien eating the last supper he distinctly said that the
reign of God was then future. Luke xxii. 18.


his reign before they died — and yet the kingdom was set up by John!
Scribes and Pharisees were shutting the kingdom against men, when
Jesus had only given the keys to Peter! John the Baptist was in the
kingdom, and the least in the kingdom is greater than he! More
than eighty preachers say, "Reform, for the reign of heaven is at
hand;" and John the Baptist before he died introduced all Judea and
Jerusalem into it! How, then, shall we reconcile these apparent con-
tradictions? Make both sides figurative, and it may not be done.
Regard both sides literally, and it can not be done! To say that the
kingdom came in one point of view at one time, and in another
point of view at another time, is only to say that it came in different
senses — literally and figuratively. For our part we must believe
that the kingdom of heaven began, or the reign of heaven literally
and truly commenced in one day.

Many of its principles were developed by the ancient Prophets;
David, Isaiah, and others wrote much concerning it; John the Bap-
tist proclaimed its immediate and near approach, and more fully
developed its spiritual design; therefore, he was superior to them.
Jesus often unfolded its character and design in various similitudes;
and every one who understood and received these principles were
said to "press into the kingdom," or to have "the kingdom within
them;" and wherever these principles were promulged "the kingdom
of heaven" was said to "come nigh" to that people, or to "have over-
taken them;" and those who opposed these principles and interposed
their authority to prevent others from receiving them, were said to
"shut the kingdom of heaven against men;" and thus all those Scrip-
tures must of necessity be understood from the contexts in which
they stand: for it was impossible that the reign of heaven could lit-
erally commence "till Jesus ivas glorified," "received the promise of
the Holy Spirit," was "made Lord and Christ," and "sat down with
his Father upon his throne" — for he left this earth to receive a
kingdom *

To make this, if possible, still more evident, we ask, When did
the kingdom of God, established by Moses amongst the seed of Abra-
ham, cease f This question penetrates the whole nature and necessity
of the case: for will any one suppose that there were two kingdoms
of God on earth at one and the same time? Certainly the one ceased
before the other began.

Now that the kingdom of God, ministered by Moses, had not ceased
during the personal ministry of the Messiah on earth, is, we think,
abundantly evident from the following facts and documents: —

1. Jesus was to have appeared and did appear, "in the end of the
world," or last days of the first kingdom of God. "In the conclusion

^Lakexix. 11-15.


of the age has he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of him-
self." The "world to come" was one of the names of the gospel age.
He has not subjected "the world to come" to the angels, as he did the
world past, says Paul to the Hebrews. He appeared, then, not in the
beginning of the gospel age, but in the end of the Jewish age.

2. The Temple was the house of God to the very close of the life
of Jesus. For it was not till the Jewish ministry conspired to kill
him that he deserted it. At the last festival of his life, and imme-
diately before he fell into their hands, on walking out of the Temple,
he said, "Behold your house is deserted, for you shall not see me
henceforth till you shall say. Blessed be he that comes in the name
of the Lord!" It was his Father's house, the house of God till that
moment. Then, indeed, the glory departed.

3. The Jewish offerings and service, as a divine institution, con-
tinued till the condemnation of Jesus. He sent the cleansed leper
to the priest to make the offering commanded in the law. He com-
manded the people to hear the doctors of the law who sat in Moses'
chair. He paid the didrachma. He was a minister of the circumci-
sion. He lived under, not after the law. He kept all its ordinances,
and caused all his disciples to regard it in its primitive import and
authority to the last passover. Indeed, it could not be disannulled,
for it was not consummated till on the cross he said, "It is finished.'"

4. When he visited Jerusalem the last time, and in the last par-
able pronounced to them he told them plainly "the kingdom of God
should be taken from them" and given to a nation who should make
a better use of the honors of the kingdom; consequently at that time
the Jews had the kingdom of God.

5 It was not until his death that the veil of the Temple was rent;
that the things "which could be shaken were shaken." It was then,
and not till then, that he nailed the legal institution to his cross.
Then, and not till then, was the middle wall of partition broken
down. The last Sabbath he slept in the grave. From the moment
of his death there was no life in the old kingdom of God. The
Temple was deserted, its veil rent, its foundation shaken, the city
devoted, the ritual abolished, and as after death the judgment, the
Temple, city, and nation waited for the day of his vengeance.

The kingdom of God was evidently in the Jewish institution till
Jesus died. Hence the kingdom of heaven came not while Jesus
lived. In anticipation they who believed the gospel of the kingdom
received the kingdom of God, just as in anticipation he said, "1 have
finished the work which thou gavest me to do" before he began to
suffer; and as he said, "This cup is the new testament in my blood,
shed for the remission of the sins of many," before it was shed. So
while the doctrine of this reign — faith, repentance, baptism, and a


iipw principle of sonship to Abraham were promulging by John, the
Twelve, the Seventy, and by himself, the kingdom of heaven was
approaching; and those who received these principles by anticipation
were said to enter into the kingdom, or to have the kingdom within

The principles of any reign or revolution are always promulged,
debated, and canvassed before a new order of things is set up. A
party is formed upon these principles before strength is acquired or
a leader obtained competent to the commencement of a new order of
things. In society, as in nature, we have first the blade, next the
stem, and then the ripe corn in the ear. We call it wheat, or we call
it corn, when we have only the promise in the blade. By such a
figure of speech the kingdom of God was spoken of while as yet only
its principles were promulging.

When these American states were colonial subjects of the King of
England, and long before the setting up of a Republic, republican
doctrines were promulged and debated. The believers and advocates
of these doctrines were called Republicans, while as yet there was
not a republic in this continent. He who dates the commencement
of the kingdom of heaven from the ministry of John the Baptist,
sympathizes with him who dates the American Republics from the
first promulgation of the republican principles, or from the formation
of a republican party in the British colonies. But as a faithful and
intelligent historian, in writing the history of the American Repub-
lics, commences with the history of the first promulgation of these
principles, and records the sayings and deeds of the first promulgers
of the new doctrines; so the sacred historians began their history of
the kingdom of heaven with the appearance of John in the wilder-
ness of Judea, preaching the Messiah, faith, repentance, a holy life,
and raising up a neic race of Israelites on the principle of faith rather
than of flesh: for this in truth was "the blade" of the kingdom of

Having from all these considerations seen that until the death of
the Messiah his kingdom could not commence: and having seen from
the record itself that it did not commence before his resurrection, we
proceed to the development of things after his resurrection to ascer-
tain the day on which this kingdom was set up, or the reign of
heaven began.

The writer to whom we are most indebted for an orderly and con-
tinued narrative of the affairs of the kingdom of heaven, is the Evan-
gelist Luke. His history begins with the angelic annunciations of

Online LibraryAlexander CampbellThe Millennial Harbinger abridged (Volume 1) → online text (page 31 of 70)