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miserable would cry out all at once,
“ We will emigrate ; we will emigrate ; now is the time to make our fortune !" Oh, what a move there would be all about!
I go on the supposition that the tidings are believed. If otherwise, the man that brought the news would be exposed to strange and rough treatment ; like as it was three hundred years ago, when the genius of one man declared there was a new world on the other side of the wide ocean.
The first burst of feeling, I say, would be wonderful, the people hearing and believing about the new and glorious kingdom. By degrees the excitement would perhaps, in a measure, subside, because of the many and varied difficulties in reaching this strange place. Tribes of wild and hostile people surrounding it on all sides.
Bad roads, infested with robbers. Marish marshes, poisoned with death. Wide forests; dark passes ; deep rivers; wild beasts. All these, as if set to guard by cruel Fate, hem the bright realm about.
But I see you begin to catch the drift of my meaning. You half smile, and shake your head, and say, there is no such kingdom as that, but we know what you mean. Do you, my brethren ? Then I had better come to it at once. Human nature is a strange world, but the God of heaven sets up a kingdom within it, wonderful as the one I have fancied, and, like that, compassed about with hostile tribes, many and strange.
I need not say, “Lo here ! or Lo there; for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.” We live in Christendom. We have the Bible
e; tidings from heaven. We believe these tidings, so I presume. Our presence here to-day, is a tacit acknowledgment of such belief. Surely we do not trifle with the most sacred things this world. of ours can hold. Our Master, Christ, Son of God, Most High ; Son of Man most lowly.
He turns Him about, and looks on us His disciples, and he says, in so many words“ The kingdom of God is within you.” Do you believe these words of His ? If
So, then surely we must visit this bright place, and know all about it. If not, why do we continue in hypocrisy? Why do we not cast from off us the bondage of restraint, and the curse of fear; and say by word and deed—“ We have no faith in such follies.”
How wonderful are the cords that hold our heart in its place ! How varied, and curious are the motives, and feelings, and thoughts, that detain multitudes within the outer courts of true religion, and hold them back from the inner! What a mystic life ours is ! I feel quite sure (forgive me) that very few in this little assembly know any thing at all worth knowing about that kingdom whereof the Saviour speaks. The many live in the regions of Ignorance, or Indifference, or Superstition ; not to mention the wide domains of Folly and of Sin. May God be pleased, in His infinite mercy, to enlighten our darkness, and make us true citizens of heaven.
It is well to notice, how the family of man, since sin has broken it up, has here and there set up a habitation, and moved about in quest of food, and knowledge, and riches. Great divisions have been caused. Mutual dependence oftentimes forgotten. The laws of one place running counter to the laws of another place. Kingdom has risen against kingdom, and custom against custom.
In one favoured spot, the rule of heaven was more marked than any where else. The rule over the children of Abraham was 'a Theocracy, that is, God was their king By degrees however, this people longed to have a king like the other nations, and God, in anger, permitted it. Solomon's reign was indeed noted for wisdom and greatness; but he soon died, and his kingdom waned. In process of time, through the sins of indifference and carelessness, the kingdom of Israel became very small, and tributary to the Romans. But promises of mighty import, having reference to the whole world, were put into the hands of Israel for safe keeping. He was the Custos of the Roll of God's purposes. A kingdom was often mentioned, and a king portrayed, that should rule over the nations. Israel in misery and comparative littleness clung to this prophecy, and hoped for a literal fulfilment; hoped to be raised above all the kingdoms, and have the sovereign sway of the world. His mind became worldly and formal; the spiritual blessings were not understood or not valued. When the King
65 Behold your
came, not with pomp, not with observation ; but attended by Humility and Sorrow as His chief ministers. Israel passed him by altogether. King," said the Roman deputy. “We have no King but Cæsar,” said proud and sinful Israel.
“Behold your King cometh unto you"-50 it was written in the roll; “meek, yet having salvation.” “Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the Lord.” “ Hosanna to the Son of David, Hosanna !” shouted the multitudes of Jerusalem, when the Lowly King, seated on an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass, made His triumphant entry into Jerusalem. member me, when thou comest to Thy kingdom,” said the dying malefactor. " Wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel !" said the disciples on a memorable occasion. The notion about a kingdom, finding a different lodgment in different minds, but everywhere apparent. Yes, there was to be a kingdom! Jesus must reign; not in Jewry; not in this world ; but in the hearts and affections of His faithful people.
The royalties of Jesus are in the redeemed nature of man; and, it must not be said, “Lo here ! or, Lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you !"
Within the strange enclosure of a human breast you will find, I think, a state of things that may well be likened to a kingdom. What a multitude of thoughts and feelings people this little realm! What motives, and lusts, and passions, strive together for the first
places! Oh, what ambition is here, and what cunning craft! Deceit is ever a lord in waiting ; and pride storms at humbleness! Why! during the space of an hour or so, say whilst we have been at Church this morning, what wonderful events have taken place in this little mystic kingdom within us. The market-place and the place of amusement have been too much attended I fear; and our affections have been sadly roaming amid worldly objects, instead of soaring to the things above, and presently, when restraint shall unhand us, and we be ourselves again, the little kingdom within our hearts will have a holiday, or a day of humiliation, or be otherwise moved to and fro by wayward circumstance. Oh, there is a kingdom within every one of us, of some sort or other !
The many parables of our Saviour which speak of the kingdom of heaven, do not mean that kingdom that shall be, but the kingdom that is ! You will not mistake me, if I say, the kingdom of heaven is Religion; the kingdom of heaven is Character. “ Blessed are the poor in spirit,” says the Saviour, " for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
66 Blessed are the meek;" and where does meekness dwell within ! 6 Blessed are the merciful ;” and where does mercy
her abode ?-within ! “ Blessed are the pure;" where ?66 in heart.” And so of the rest. It is not in pomp, or shew, or outer circumstance, that Religion, that Character, that the kingdom of God consists- but in righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.