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the nativity of John and Jesus, and ends with the appearance of the
great standard-bearer of the Cross in Imperial Rome. A. D. CA. That
part of his hi?tory to which we now look as a guide to the affairs of


the commencement of the Reign, is the notices which he makes of
the forty clays which the Lord spent in his crucified body, previous to
his ascension. The reader ought not to be told (for he ought to
know) that Jesus rose in the same body in which he was crucified,
and in that reanimated fleshly body did eat, drink, and converse with
his Apostles and friends for forty days. That body was not changed
till, like the living saints who shall be on the earth at his second
personal coming, it was made spiritual, incorruptible, and glorious
at the instant of his ascension. So that the man Christ Jesus was
made like to all his brethren in his death, burial, resurrection, trans-
figuration, ascension, and glorification; or rather, they shall be made
to resemble him in all these respects.

The Apostles testify that they saw him ascend — that a cloud
received him out of their sight — that angels descended to inform
them that he was taken up into heaven, not to return for a long
time — that he ascended far above all the visible heavens, and now
fills all things. Stephen, when dying, saw him standing on the right
hand of God.

Much attention is due to all the incidents of these forty days — ^as
much, at least, as to the forty days spent by Moses in the Mount with
God in the affairs of the preceding kingdom of God. For the risen
Messiah makes the affairs of his approaching kingdom the principal
topic of these forty days.* Towards the close of these days, and
immediately before his ascension, he gave the commission to his
Apostles concerning the setting up of this kingdom. "All authority
in heaven and in earth is given to me: go, therefore," said he, "con-
vert the nations," (announce the gospel to every creature,) "immers-
ing them into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the
Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all the things which I have
commanded you; and behold! I am with you always, even to the con-
clusion of this state. "t "But continue in the city of Jerusalem until
you be invested with power from on high." Thus according to his
promise and the ancient prophecy, it was to "begin at Jerusalem."t

The risen Saviour thus directs our attention to Jerusalem as the
place, and to a period distant "not many days," as the ti7ne of the
beginning of his reign. The great facts of the death, burial, and
resurrection of Jesus, not being yet fully developed to his Apostles,
they were not qualified to take any steps to the setting up of a king-
dom which was to be founded upon Christ crucified. They needed
an interpreter of these facts, and a supernatural advocate of the
pretensions of the King, before they could lay the foundation of
his kingdom.

«Acts i. 3. fMatt. xxviii. 19, 20; Mark xvi. 16; Luke xxiv. 47, 48. tisa. ii. 3;
Mic. iv. 2.


Again, the King himself must be glorified before his authority
could be established on earth; for till he received the promise of the
Spirit from his Father, and was placed on his throne, the Apostles
could not receive it; so that Christ's ascension to heaven and coro-
nation were indispensable to the commencement of this reign of

Here let U8 pause for a moment — leave the earth, and on the
wings of faith in the testimony of Prophets and Apostles, the two
witnesses for Jesus, let us follow him to heaven and ascertain his
reception into the heaven of heavens, and exaltation to the right
hand of God.


Prophets and Apostles must now be heard. David, by the Spirit,
says, "The chariots of God are twenty thousana, even thousands of
angels; the Lord is among them as in Sinai in the holy place. Thou
hast ascended on high; thou hast led captivity captive; thou hast
received gifts for men; yea, for the rebellious, that the Lord God
might dwell among them." * The same Prophet, in speaking of the
solemn and joyful procession at the carrying up of the ark of the
ancient constitution into Mount Zion, turns his eyes from the type
to the antitype, and thus describes the entrance of the Messiah into
heaven: — "Who shall ascend into the hill of God?" The attendant
angels in the train of the Messiah, approaching the heaven of heavens,
shout, "Lift up your heads, you gates! be lift up, you everlasting
doors, and the King of glory shall come in." Those within, filled
with astonishment that any one should so confidently demand admis-
sion into those gates so long barred against the sons of men, respon-
sive shout, "Who is the King of glory?" The angels in attendance
upon the Messiah reply in strains still as triumphant, "The Lord,
strong and mighty! the Lord, mighty in battle!" and still more exult-
ingly triumphant, shout, "Lift up your heads, you gates! even lift
them up, you everlasting doors, and the King of glory shall come in.
Who is this King of glory? He is the Lord of hosts! he is the King
of glory!" t


Everything in its proper order. He that ascended first descended.
Jesus died, was buried, raised from the dead, ascended, and was
crowned Lord of all. In the presence of all the heavenly hierarchs.
the four living creatures, the twenty-four seniors, and ten thousand
times ten thousand angels, he presents himself before the Ihrone.
So soon as the first born from the dead appears in the palace royal

* INii. Ixviii. 1\ fl'sa. xxiv.


of the universe, his Father and his God, in his inaugural address,
when anointing him Lord of all, says, "Let all the angels of God wor-
ship him" — "Sit thou at my right hand, till I make thy enemies thy
footstool." "Jehovah shall send out of Zion [Jerusalem] the rod of
thy strength: rule thou in the midst of thine enemies, [the city of
thy strongest foes.] Thy people, willing in the day of thy power,
shall come to thee. In the beauty of holiness, more than the womb
of the morning, shalt thou have the dew of thy progeny. The Lord
hath sworn, and will not repent. Thou art a Priest forever after the
order of Melchisedeck. The Lord at thy right hand shall strike
through the kings [that oppose thee] in the day of his wrath." "Thy
throne, O God, endures forever: the sceptre of thy kingdom is a
sceptre of rectitude. Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated
iniquity; therefore God, thy God, has anointed thee with the oil of joy
above thy fellows. Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foun-
dations of the earth, and the heavens are the works of thy hand:
they shall perish, but thou remainest; and they shall all grow old
as does a garment, and as a vesture shalt thou fold them up, and
they shall be changed; but thou art the same, and thy years shall
not fail." *

Thus God highly exalted him, and did set him over all the works
of his hands, and gave him a name and an honor above every name
in heaven and on earth, that at the name of Jesus glorified every
knee should bow, and every tongue confess, to the glory of God.

Now we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels,
that he might taste death for all, on account of the sufferings of
death, crowned with glory and honor" — Now "angels, authorities,
principalities, and powers are subjected to him." "His enemies will
I clothe with shame, but upon himself shall his crown flourish."

The Holy Spirit, sent down by Jesus from heaven, on the Pentecost
after his resurrection, to the disciples in attendance in Jerusalem,
informs the Apostles of all that had been transacted in heaven during
the week after his ascension, and till that day. Peter now filled with
that promised Spirit, informs the immense concourse assembled on
the great day of Pentecost, that God had made that Jesus whom
they had crucified both Lord and Christ — exalted him a Prince and
a Saviour to grant repentance to Israel and remission of sins.

The first act of his reign was the bestowment of the Holy Spirit,
according to the prophecy of Joel and his own promise. So soon as
he received the kingdom from God his Father, he poured out the
blessings of his favor upon his friends; he fulfilled all his promises
to the Apostles, and forgave three thousand of his fiercest enemies.
He received pardons and gifts for them that did rebel, and shed

■ Psa. xc, c. and Heb. i.


forth abundantly all spiritual guts on tho little flock to whom it
pleased the Father to give the kingdom. Thus commenced the Reign
of Heaven, on the day of Pentecost, in the person of the Messiah,
the Son of God, and the anointed Monarch of the Universe. Under
him, his people, saved from their sins, have received a kingdom which
can not be shaken nor removed.

Ihit as the erection of the Jewish tabernacle, after the commence-
ment of the first kingdom of God, was the work of some time, and of
united and combined effort, on the part of those raised up and quali-
fied for the work; so was the complete erection of this new temple
of God. The Apostles, as wise master builders, laid the foundation—
promulged the constitution, laws, and institutions of the King, and
raised the standard of the kingdom in many towns, cities, and coun-
tries, for the space of forty years. Some of them not only saw "the
Son of Man enter upon his reign," and the kingdom of God commence
on Pentecost, and carry its conquests over Judea, Samaria, and to
the uttermost parts of the earth; but they saw the Lord "come with
power" and awful glory, and accomplish all his predictions on the
deserted and devoted temple, city, and people. Thus they saw a
bright display of the golden sceptre of his grace in forgiving those
who bowed to his authority, and an appalling exhibition of the iron
rod of his wrath in taking vengeance on his enemies who would not
have him to reign over them,


During the personal absence of the King, he has committed the
management of this kingdom to stewards. These were, first. Apos-
tles; next in rank to them. Prophets; next, teachers; then, assistants,
or helpers; then directors or presidents, all furnished with gifts,
knowledge, and character, suited to their respective functions.
Besides these, many persons possessed of miraculous powers — gifts of
healing and speaking foreign languages, were employed in setting up
and putting in order the communities composing the kingdom of
heaven. Angels also were employed, and are still employed, under
the great King in ministering to them who are heirs of salvation.
For Jesus now, as Lord of all, has the Holy Spirit at his disposal,
and all the angels of God; and these are employed by him in the
affairs of his kingdom.*

The Apostles were plenipotentiaries and ambassadors for Jesus,
and had all authority delegated to them from the King. Hence every-
thing was first taught and enjoined by them. They were the first
preachers, teachers, pastors, overseers, and ministers in the kingdom,
and had the direction and management of all its affairs.f

*I. Cor. xii. 2.S; Eph. iv. II: Hcl.. i. U. +I[. Cor. iii. (5; v. 18-20.


The communities collected and set in order by the Apostles were
called the congregations of Christ, and all these taken together are
sometimes called the kingdom of God. But the phrases "church of
God," or "congregation of Christ," and the phrases "kingdom of
heaven," or "kingdom of God," do not always nor exactly represent
the same thing. The elements of the kingdom of heaven, it will be
remembered, are not simply its subjects, and therefore not simply the
congregations of disciples of Christ. But as these communities posr
sess the oracles of God, are under the laws and institutions of the
King, and therefore enjoy the blessings of the present salvation, they
are, in the records of the kingdom, regarded as the only constitutional
citizens of the kingdom of heaven; and to them exclusively belongs
all the present salvation. Their King is now in heaven, but present
with them by his Spirit in their hearts and in all the institutions
of his kingdom.

Every immersed believer, of good behavior, is, by the constitution,
a free and full citizen of the kingdom of heaven, and entitled to all
the social privileges and honors of that kingdom. Such of these as
meet together statedly in one place in obedience to the King, or his
ambassadors the Apostles, for the observance of all the institutions
of the King, compose a family, or house, or congregation of Christ;
and all these families or congregations, thus organized, constitute
the present kingdom of God in this world. So far the phrases king-
dom of heaven and the congregation or body of Christ are equivalent
in signification.*

Now in gathering these communities, and in setting them in
order, the Apostles had, when alive, and when dead, by their writings
still have, the sole right of legislating, ordering, and disposing of all
things. But it is not the will of Jesus Christ, because it is not
adapted to human nature, nor to the present state of his kingdom as
administered in his absence, that the church should be governed by
a written document alone. Hence in every city, town, and country
where the Apostles gathered a community by their own personal
labors, or by their assistants, in setting them in order, for their edifi-
cation, and for their usefulness and influence in this world, they uni-
formly appointed Elders, or overseers, to labor in the word and teach-
ing, and to preside over the whole affairs of the community. To these
also were added Deacons, or public ministers of the congregation,
who, under the direction of the overseers, were to manage all the
affairs of these individual families of God. This the very names
Bishop and Deacon, and all the qualifications enjoined, fairly and
fully import.

'Rom. xii. 4-8; I. Cor. xii. 27; Hcb. iii. i


But as all the citizens of tlie liingdom are free men under Christ,
they all have a voice in the selection of the persons whom the Apos-
tles appoint to these offices. The Apostles still appoint all persons
so elected, possessing the qualifications which they, by the Holy
Spirit, prescribed. And if a congregation icill not elect to these offices
the persons possessing these qualifications; or if by a waywardness
and selfwilledness of their own, they should elect those unqualified,
and thus disparage those marked out by the possession of those
gifts; in either case, they despise the authority of the Ambassadors
of Christ, and must suffer for it. It is, indeed, the Holy Spirit, and
not the congregations, which creates Bishops and Deacons. The Spirit
gives the qualifications, both natural and acquired, and, speaking to
the congregations in the written oracles, commands their ordination
01 appointment to the work.*

In the present administration of the kingdom of God, faith is the
PKiNcirLE, and ordinances the means of all spiritual enjoyment.
Without faith in the testimony of God, a person is without God, with-
out Christ, and without hope in the world. A Christless universe, as
respects spiritual life and joy, is the most perfect blank which fancy
can create. Without faith nothing in the Bible can. be enjoyed; and
without it, there is to man no kingdom of heaven in all the domin-
ions of God.

In the kingdom of nature seiise is the principle, and ordinances
the means of enjoyment. Without sense, or sensation, nothing in
nature can be known or enjoyed. All the creative, recuperative, and
renovating power, wisdom, and goodness of God, exhibited in nature,
are contained in ordinances. The sun, moon, and stars — the clouds,
the air, the earth, the water, the seasons, day and night, are there-
fore denominated the ordinances of Heaven, because God's power,
wisdom, and goodness are in them, and felt by us only through them.f
Now sense, without the ordinances of nature, like faith, without the
ordinances of religion, would be no principle of enjoyment; and the
ordinances of nature, without sense, like the ordinances of religion,
without faith, would be no means of enjoyment. These are the unal-
terable decrees of God. There is no exception to them; and there
is no reversion of them. To illustrate and enforce the doctrine of
this single paragraph is worthy of a volume. The essence, the whole
essence of that reformation for which we contend, is wrapped up in
this decree as above expressed. If it be true, the ground on which
we stand is firm and unchangeable as the Rock of Ages; if it be
false, we build upon the sand. Reader, examine it icell!

<'Act.>< vi. 2-7; xiv. %\: xx. 17-:t(i: Pliil. i. 1; I. Tim. iii. I-lf.; Tit. i. .VIO; Hob. xlii.
7, 17. 'i.'). +.!<•!•. xxxi. ;!."i. :«>; .I(>1> xxxviil. :!l-:i:!; .Ii r. xxxiil. 2,").


In the kingdom of heaven faith is, then, the principle, and ordi-
nances the 7neans of enjoyment; because all the wisdom, power, love,
mercy, compassion, or grace of God, is in the ordinances of the king-
dom of heaven; and if all grace be in them, it can only be enjoyed
through them. What, then, under the present administration of the
kingdom of heaven, are the ordinances which contain the grace of
God? They are, preaching the gospel — immersion in the name of
Jesus, into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy
Spirit— the reading and teaching the Living Oracles— the Lord's Day
— the Lord's Supper — fasting — prayer — confession of sins — and praise.
To these may be added other appointments of God, such as exhorta-
tion, admonition, discipline, etc.: for these also are ordinances of
God; and, indeed, all statutes and commandments are ordinances:*
but we speak not at present of those ordinances which concern the
good order of the kingdom, but of those which are primary means
of enjoyment. These primary and sacred ordinances of the kingdom
of heaven are the means of our individual enjoyment of the present
salvation of God.

Without the sun, there is no solar influence; without the moon,
there is no lunar influence; without the stars, there is no sidereal
influence; without clouds, there can be no rain; and without the
ordinances of the kingdom of heaven, there can be no heavenly
influence exhibited or felt. There is a peculiar and distinctive influ-
ence exerted by the sun, moon, and stars; yet they all give light. So
in the ordinances of the kingdom of heaven — although they all agree
in producing certain similar effects on the subjects of the kingdom,
there is something distinctive and peculiar in each of them, so that
no one of them can be substituted for another. Not one of them
can be dispensed with— they are all necessary to the full enjoyment
of the reign of heaven.

In nature and in religion all the blessings of God bestowed on
man are properly classed under two heads. These may be called, for
illustration, antecedent and consequent. The antecedent includes all
those blessings bestowed on man to prepare him for action and to
induce him to action. The consequent are those which God bestows
on man through a course of action correspondent to these antecedent
blessings. For example, all that God did for Adam in creating for
him the earth and all that it contains, animal, vegetable, mineral;
in forming him in his own image; giving him all his physical, intel-
lectual, and moral powers, and in investing him with all the per-
sonal and real estate which elevated him above all sublunary beings,
were antecedent to any act of Adam; and these furnished him with
inducements to love, honor, and obey his creator and benefactor. All

* Jas. i. 25.


that God did tor Abraham in promises and precepts before his obedi-
ence — all that he did lor the Israelites in bringing them up out of
Egypt, and redeeming them from the tyranny of Pharaoh, were anie-
cedent to the duties and observances which he enjoined upon them,
and to the privileges which he promised them. And all the blessings
which Adam, Abraham, the Israelites enjoyed through conformity to
the institutions under which they were placed, were consequent upon
that state of mind and course of action which the antecedent favors
demanded and occasioned. God never commanded any being to do
anything hut the power and motive were derived from something
God had done for him.

In the kingdom of heaven the antecedent blessings are the consti-
tution of grace, the King, and all that he did, suffered, and sustained
for our redemption. These were finished before we came upon the
stage of action. This is all favor, pure favor, sovereign favor: for
there can be no favor that is not free and sovereign. But the remis-
sion of our sins, our adoption into the family of God, our being made
heirs and inheritors of the kingdom of glory, are consequent upon
faith and the obedience of faith.

Organization and life of any sort are of necessity the gifts of
God; but health and the continued enjoyment of life, and all its
various and numerous blessings, are consequent upon the proper exer-
cise of these. He that will not breathe, eat, drink, sleep, exercise,
can not enjoy animal life. God has bestowed animal organization
and life antecedent to any action of the living creature; but the crea-
ture may throw away that life by refusing to sustain it by the means
essential to its preservation and comfort.

God made but one man out of the earth, and one earthly nature
of every sort, by a positive, direct, and immediate agency, of wisdom,
power, and goodness. He gave these the power, according to his own
constitution or systeyn of nature, of reproducing and multiplying to
an indefinite extent. But still this life is transmitted, diffused, and
sustained by God operating through the system of nature. So Jesus,
in the new creation, by his Spirit sent down from heaven after his
glorification, did, by a positive, direct, and immediate agency, create
one congregation, one mystical, or spiritual body; and, according to
the constitution or system of the kingdom of heaven, did give to that
mystical body created in Jerusalem, out of the more ancient earthly
kingdom of God, the power of reproducing and multiplying to an
Indefinite extent. But still this new and spiritual life is transmitted,
diffused, and sustained by the Spirit of God, operating through the
constitution, or system of grace, ordained in the kingdom of heaven.

Hcnco in setting up the kingdom of heaven, as in setting up the
kingdom of nature, there was a display of divinity, compared with


everything subsequent, properly supernatural. Hence the array of
apostles, prophets, extraordinary teachers, gifts, powers, miracles,
etc., etc. But after this new mystical body of Christ was created and
made, it had, and yet has, according to the system of grace under the
present administration of the kingdom of heaven, the power of multi-
plying and replenishing the whole earth, and will do it; for as God
breathed into the nostrils of Adam the spirit of life after he had
raised him out of the dust; and as he bestowed on his beloved Son
Jesus, after he rose out of the water, his Holy Spirit, without meas-
ure; so on the formation of the first congregation, figuratively called
the body of Christ, Jesus did breathe into it the Holy Spirit to ani-
mate and inhabit it till he come again. The only temple and habita-
tion of God on earth, since Jesus pronounced desolation on that in
Jerusalem, is this body of Christ.

Now this first congregation of Christ, thus filled with the Spirit
of God, had the power of raising other congregations of Christ; or,
what is the same thing, of causing the body of Christ to grow and
increase. Thus we see that other congregations were soon raised up
in Judea and Samaria by the members of the Jerusalem body. Many
were begotten to God by the Spirit of God, through the members of
the first congregation. And since the Spirit himself ceased to operate
in all those splendid displays of supernatural grandeur, by still keep-
ing the disciples of Christ always in remembrance of the things
spoken by the holy Apostles, and by all the arguments derived from
the antecedent blessings bestowed, working in them both to will and
do according to the benevolence of God, he is still causing the body
of Christ to grow and increase in stature, as well as in knowledge

Online LibraryAlexander CampbellThe Millennial Harbinger abridged (Volume 1) → online text (page 32 of 70)