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same temple after, which before. When a man separateth the wheat from the chaff, it is the same corn which before. In these corrupter ages, then the pure professors of Christ, who denied not his faith, did dwell where Satan had his seat. The members of Christ were amongst the rulers of antichristm. We are not another church newly started up, but the same which before, from the apostles' times, held the common and necessary grounds of faith and salvation; which grounds being, in latter ages, perverted and overturned by antichristianism, have been, by valiant champions for the faith of Christ, therefrom vindicated, who have only pruned the Lord's vine, and picked out the stones, and driven the boars out of his vineyard, but have not made either one or other new.
Now this point, That “ Christ ruleth in the midst of his enemies,” is ground of great confidence in his church, inasmuch as she subsisteth not upon any corruptible strength of her own, but upon the promise, decree, oath, power, and love of God, things invincible by all the powers of darkness. Let the enemies rage never so much, they cannot dethrone Christ, nor extinguish his gospel, for it is an everlasting gospel". It is but as the coming forth of a shepherd against a lion, as the propheto compareth it. For either Christ is unable to protect his people; and that is against St. Jude P, “ He is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless,” &c. Or else he is unwilling; and that is against St. Pauly, “This is the will of God, even your sanctification :"-or else both his power and his will are suspended, upon expectation of human concurrence, or nullified and disappointed by us, and that is against the influence of his grace, which giveth us both the will and the deed';'-against the mercy of his gracious promise ; “ I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more ;- I will heal their backslidings, I will love them freely *;"-against the immutability of his covenant and holy nature, "I am God and not man, I change not"; therefore the sons of Jacob are not destroyed *.”
m Ut sub Antichristi sacerdotibus Christi populus non excideret. Hilar. n Rev. xiv. 6. o Isai. xxxi. 2. P Jude v. 24. 91 Thes, iv. 3. r Phil. ji. 13. s Heb. viii. 12. t Hos. xiv. 4. u Hos. xi. 9. * Mal. jii. 6. Isai. liv. 9, 10.
Now besides this general observation, the words afford some particular notes, which I will but briefly touch. As First, That Christ's kingdom in this world is ' regnum crucis,' a kingdom beset with enemies; of all other, the most hated and opposed. They that submit unto it, must resolve to be herein conformable to their head: a cross was his throne, and thorns were his crown; and “ every one which will live godly, must suffer persecution,” and “through many afflictions enter into his Master's kingdom.”—Quod erat Christus, erimus Christiani.' No marvel, if the world hate the church of Christ, for it hated him first. In his Word, he is resisted, disobeyed, belied, and, if it were possible, silenced and corrupted ; in his officers, mocked and misused; in his subjects, persecuted and reviled ; in his spirit, thrust away and grieved ; in his worship, neglected and polluted ; in all his ways, slandered and blasphemed.
The reasons of which strange entertainment of the king. dom of Christ, are, First, Because it is a new kingdom, which enters into the world by way of challenge and dispossession of former lords, and therefore no wonder if it find opposition. Secondly, It is an invisible, unconspicuous, unattended, desolate, and, in appearance, ignoble king. dom. It began in the form of a servant, in the ignominy of a cross; none of the princes of this world , none of the learned of this world to countenance or help to set it up; but amongst them all, esteemed as an offensive and foolish thing?. Thirdly, It is a universal kingdom ; 'Nec parem patitur nec superiorem,' Christ will admit of no consorts • or corrivals in his government. Body, and soul, and spirit, he will have wholly and throughout unto himself. And this amongst others is given for the reason, why when Tiberius proposed Christ unto the Roman senate with the privilege of his own suffrage, to be worshipped, they rejected him, because he would be a God alone. If he would exempt some of the earthly members from his subjection, let lust have the eye, or folly the ear, or violence the hand, or covetousness the heart, or any other evil affection share with him, he would be the easier tolerated: but when he will be absolute, and nothing must remain in our hearts but as his vassal, to be spoiled, subdued, condemned, and crucified by him, if the whole state of sin must be ruined, and the body destroyed, no wonder if the world cannot away with him. Fourthly, which is the sum of all, It is a heavenly kingdom, a spiritual kingdom, “My kingdom is not of this world;" and therefore no marvel if the devils of hell, and the lusts of the flesh, do set themselves against him.
y John vii. 48. z1 Cor. i. 21, 22. b Laurent, de Lau. Bar. in Tertul. Apol. cap. 5.
a 1 Cor. vi. 20, 1 Thes, v. 23.
Note, Secondly, Even there where Christ's throne and kingdom is set up, he hath enemies. Satan hath his seat“, even where Christ dwelleth. Men may say they are Jews, and are not, but of the synagogue of Satand; and men may say they are Christians, and are not, but of the kingdom of Satan too. A wen in the body seemeth to belong unto the integrity of the whole, when indeed it is an enemy and thief therein. Ivy about a tree seemeth to embrace it with much affection, when indeed it doth but kill and choke it. Men may take upon them the profession of Christians, and, like a wen, be skinned over with the same outside which the true members have, may pretend much submission, worship, and ceremony unto him ; and yet (such is the hellish hypocrisy of the heart) the same men may haply inwardly swell and rankle against the power of his truth and Spirit. “ This people e,” saith the Lord, “draw near me with their mouth, and honour me with their lips, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precepts of men.”-In the apostles' times there were false brethren, and false teachers, who crept in to spy out and betray the liberty of the church, and privily to bring in damnable heresies, and to speak lies in hypocrisy; that is, under the pretext of devotion and carnal humility, to corrupt the doctrine of Christ, and, under a form of godliness, to deny the power thereof. Therefore antichrist is called
e Rev. ii. 13. d Rev. ii. 9. e Isai. xxix, 13, f Gal. ii. 4. 2 Pet. ii. l. I Tim. iv. 1, 2. Col. ij. 23. 2 Tim. iii. 5, 6. Occultæ obreptiones, Aug. Tom. 4. de id. et op. cap. 5. Τη χρηστολογία τας εαυτών κακονοίας καλύπτοντες, αγκιστρεύουσι τους απλουστέρους προς θάνατον. Isid. Pelus. 1. 1. Ep. 102. Sub ipso Christiani nominis titulo fallit [inimicus] incautos, &c. Cypr. de unit. Eccl.-Usitatissima hæc Hæreticorum fraus de personarum reverentiâ et prætextu pietatis sibi fidem præstruere, vid. Aug. Tom. 1. De morib. Eccl. lib. 1. c. 1. et Epist. 120. c. 37. De peccat, merit. et remis. lib. 2. c. 16. et lib. 3.
cap. 1. et 3.
a whore 8,' because he should seduce the Christian world with much expression of love, and creep, peaceably and by flatteries, into the kingdom of Christ. Of these several enemies of Christ, under the profession of his name and worship, some are Christians, but not in purity, as heretics; some, not in unity, as schismatics; some, not in sincerity, as hypocrites; some, not so much as in external conformity, as evil workers: the heretic corrupteth Christ; the schismatic divideth him; the hypocrite mocketh him ; the profane person dishonoureth him; and all deny bim.
Let us then learn to look unto our hearts, for we may flatter Christ", when we do not love him ; we may enquire and seek early after him, and yet have no desire to find him; we may come unto his school as unto ward children, not for love of his doctrine, but for fear of his rod; we may call him husband, and yet be wedded to our own lusts; we may be baptized in his name, so was Simon Magus *; we may preach him, so did the false brethren'; we may flock after him, so did the multitude m who followed him not for his words or miracles, but for the loaves; we may bow unto him, so did his crucifiers"; we may call upon his name, so did the hypocrites that said, “ Lord, Lordo," and yet did not enter into the kingdom of Heaven; we may confess and believe him, so do the very devils in Hell P; we may give him our lips, our eyes, our tongues, our knees, our hands, and yet still our kingdom, our throne, our hearts may be Satau's. And all this is to make him but a mock-king, as the Jews did, when indeed we crucify him.
Note, Thirdly, Christ's word and spirit are stronger than all adverse opposition. This is his glory, that his kingdom cometh in unto him by way of conquest, as Canaan unto Israel. Therefore, at the very first erecting of his kingdom, when, in all presumption, it might most easily have been crushed, he suffered his enemies to vent their utmost malice, and to glut themselves with the blood of his people, that so it might appear, that though they did fight against him, they could not prevail against him?; but that his counsel should still stand and flourish, and should consume and break in pieces all the kingdoms which set themselves against it: that they all should be afraid of the ensign of the gospel, and should fly from it.
8 Rev. xvii. 1, 4. b Psalm lxxviii. 36, 37. i Nihil laborant nisi non invenire quod quærunt. Aug. de Gen. con. Manic. 1. 2. c. 2. k Acts viii. 13. I Matth. vii. 22. Phil. i. 16. m John vi, 26. n Matth. xxvii. 29. • Matth. vii. 21. p Luke viii. 28. James ii. 19. 9 Isai. viii, 7, 10, Dan. ii. 44. vii. 25, 26. Zech. xii. 3, 4. Isai. xxxi. 8.
This jealousy of God for his church may be seen, in frustrating the attempts, and pulling off the wheels, on which the projects which are cast against his church, do move, as he dealt with Pharaoh. He can dissolve the confederacies, shatter the counsels, cast a spirit of treachery, unfaithfulness, and mutinous affections into the hearts of his enemies; as he did into the Midianites', and into the children of Ammon', Moab, and Edom, when they gathered together against his people. He can infatuate their counsels, and make them the contrivers and artificers of their own ruin, as we see in the consultation of Rehoboam with his
young men, and of Jeroboam with his idolatrous policy, and of Haman in his gallows. He can defeat their expectations, and disannul their decrees, and make his own counsel alone to stand u.
But when all this is done, this is only to rule in spite of his enemies. But besides this, his kingdom fetcheth his enemies under, and in some sort ruleth over their consciences, and striketh them to the ground; maketh the devils in Hell, the stoutest of all sinners, to tremble; breaketh the rocks asunder*; affrighteth, judgeth, sealeth, hardeneth, thresheth, revengeth the pride of men; maketh them, before-hand, to taste the bitterness of that damnation, which waketh over them, and cometh swiftly against them.
Let us take heed, then, of being Christ's enemies, in opposing the power and progress of his Word, the evidence and purity of his Spirit in the lives of men. It is but to make a combination to pull the sun out of Heaven ; or for a wave to contend with a rock. For as the ruins of a house are broken on the things upon which they fall; so are the enemies of Christ, which gather together against his church, and fall upon the rock?, at length ruined by their own malice. Sampson's foxes were themselves burnt amongst the corn which they fired: the land brought forth corn the next year again (and, it may be, more plentifully, by reason of
r Judg. vii. 22. s 2 Chron. xx. 22, 23. + Isai, xix, 6, xxix. 14. Mic. iv. 11, 12. Isai. xxxvii. 33, 34. u Psalm xxxiii. 10, 11. Jer. xxiii. 29. y 2 Cor. x. 6. 2 Luke x. 18.