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now proceed to consider the second branch thereof, consisting in his making continual intercession for them, for whom he offered up himself: But, this being particularly insisted on in a following answer *, we shall pass it over at present, and proceed to consider the execution of his Kingly office.
Quest. XLV. How doth Christ execute the ofice of a King? Answer. Christ executeth the office of a King, in calling out
of the world a people to himself, and giving them officers, laws, and censures, by which he visibly governs them, in bestowing saving grace upon his elect, rewarding their obedience, and correcting them for their sins, preserving and supporting them under all their temptations and sufferings, restraining and overcoming all their enemies, and powerfully ordering all things for his own glory, and their own good; and also in taking vengeance on the rest who know not God, and obey not the gospel.
KING is a person advanced to the highest dignity; in this acceptation thereof, as applied to men; and more particularly it denotes his having dominion over subjects, and therefore it is a relative term; and the exercise of this dominion is confined within certain limits : But, as it is applied to God, it denotes universal dominion, as the Psalmist says, God is King of all the earth, Psal. xlvii. 7. in this respect therefore, it is properly a divine perfection. That which we are led to consider, in this answer, is how Christ is more especially styled a King', as Mediator. Divines generally distinguish his kingdom into that which is natural, and that which is Mediatorial; the former is founded in his deity, and not received by commission from the Father, in which respect he would have been the Governor of the world, as the Father is, though man had not fallen, and there had been no need of a Mediator; the latter is, what we are more especially to consider, namely, his Mediatorial kingdom, which the Psalmist intends, when he represents the Father, as saying, Yet have I set my King upon my holy hill of Zion, Psal. i. 6.
* See Quest. LI.
demned already, because they have not believed on the name of the only begotten Son of God."
It is manifest from the various reasons which have been suggested, that the atonement of Jesus Christ is infinitely full, or sufficient for the salvation of all mankind, if they would but cordially receive it, and that the want of such an atonement, is not the reason, why all are not saved.
It will no more follow, that all will be saved, because the atonement is suffi. cient for all, than it would, that all would eat of the marriage supper in the parable, because it was sufficient for all, and all were invited. This parable was, designed to represent the gospel and its invitations.—As those, who neglected the invitation, never tasted of the supper, although the provisions were plentiful for all; so the scriptures teach, that many will not comply with the terms and invitations of the gospel, and partake of its blessings, although the atonement is abundantly sufficient for all. For the Saviour vieclares, that“ many are called, but few are chosen, and strait is the gate and narrow is the way which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it."
CONNECTICUT EVANG. MAG. Such interpretation of Scripture does not require the admission that the atonement was ab. solutely indefinite. Christ might know his sheep and die for them, and yet, by the same cover nant or purpose procure ternis
for others which he knew they would reject.
The method in which we shall speak concerning Christ's Kingly office, shall be by shewing who are the subjects thereof; the manner of his governing them; and the various ages in which this government is, or shall be exercised ; together with the different circumstances relating to the administration of his government therein.
I. Concerning the subjects governed by him, These are either his people or his enemies ; the former of these are, indeed, by nature, enemies to his government, and unwilling to subject themselves to him, but they are made willing in the day of his power, are pleased with his government, and made partakers of the advantages thereof; the latter, to wit, his enemies are forced to bow down before him, as subdued by him, though not to him ; so that, with respect to his people and his enemies, he exercises his government various ways. Which leads us to consider,
II. The manner in which Christ exercises his Kingly government; and that,
First, With respect to his people. This government is external and visible, or internal and spiritual ; in the latter of which he exerts divine power, and brings them into a state of grace and salvation. The Church is eminently the seat of his government, which will be farther observed under a following answer *; and therefore, at present we shall only consider them as owning his government, by professing their subjection to him, and thereby separating themselves from the world; and Christ governs them, as is observed in this answer, by giving them officers, laws, and censures, and many other privileges, which the members of the visible church are made partakers of of which more in its proper place.
That which we shall principally consider, at present, is Christ's exercising his spiritual and powerful government over his elect, in those things that more immediately concern their salvation. And here we may observe,
1. Their character and temper, before they are brought, in a saving way, into Christ's kingdom. There is no difference
• Ste Quest. LXII, LXIII.
between them and the rest of the world, who are the subjects of Satan's kingdom ; their hearts are by nature, full of enmity and rebellion against him, and they are suffered sometimes to run great lengths in opposing his government, and their lives discover a fixed resolution not to submit to him, whatever be the consequence thereof: Other lords, says the church, have dominion over them, Isa. xxvi. 13. they serve divers lusts and pleasures, Tit. iii. 3. walk according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience, Eph. ii. 2. and some of them have reason to style themselves, as the apostle Paul says he was before his conversion, 1 Tim. i. 15.
Sometimes, indeed, they meet with some checks and rebukes of conscience, which, for a while, put them to a stand ; and they seem inclinable to submit to Christ, as being afraid of his vengeance, or their own consciences suggest the reasonableness thereof; and this issues in some hasty resolutions, arising from the terror of their own thoughts, or the prospect of some advantage, which will accrue to them thereby, whereby their condition may be rendered better than what they, at present, apprehend it to be; and this extorts from them a degree of compliance with the gospel-overture, especially if Christ would stoop to those terms, which corrupt nature is willing to conform itself to; or make those abatements, that would be consistent with their serving God and mammon. In this case, they are like the person whom our Saviour mentions, who being called, replies, I go, Sir, and went not, Matt. xxi. 30. Sometimes they promise that they will submit hereafter, if they may but be indulged in their course of life for the present, and, like Felix, would attend to these matters at a more convenient season ; or, as one is represented, desiring our Saviour that he might first go and bury his father, Matt. viii. 21. by which we are not to understand his performing that debt, which the law of nature obliged him to perform to a deceased parent, which might have been soon discharged, and been no hindrance to his following Christ : but he seems to be desirous to be excused from following him till his father was dead, and all this with a design to gain time, or to ward off present convictions, his domestic affairs inclining him not immediately to subject himself to Christ, or to take
up his lot with him, or to forsake all and follow him, though he was not insensible that this was his duty. This is the temper and character of persons before they are effectually persuaded to submit to Christ's government; and the consequence hereof is oftentimes their not only losing their convictions, but returning with stronger resolutions to their former course, and adding greater degrees of rebellion to their iniquity.
There are several methods used, by Christ, to bring sins ners into subjection to him ; some of which are principally objectionable, and, though not in themselves sufficient, yet necessary to answer this end. Accordingly,
(1.) He gives them to understand that there is an inevitable necessity of perishing, if they persist in their rebellion against him, as our Saviour says, Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish, Luke xiii. 3. or, as it is said elsewhere, Who hath hardened himself against him, and hath prospered? Job ix. 4. and that the consequence thereof will be, that those his enemies that would not that he should reign over them, shall be brought forth, and slain before him, Luke xix. 27. And this is not only considered in a general way, as what other sinners are given to expect, but impressed on the conscience, and particularly applied to himself, whereby he is convinced that his present course is not only dangerous, but destructive, and fills him with that distress and concern of soul, which is the beginning of that work of grace, that shall afterwards be brought to perfection.
(2.) Christ holds forth his golden sceptre, and makes a proclamation to sinners to return and submit to him, and, at the same time, expresses his willingness to receive all that by faith, close with the gospel-overture, and cast themselves at his feet with sincere repentance : thus he says, Him that cometh to me, I will in no wise cast out, John vi. 37. and, how vile soever they have been, their unworthiness shall not be a bar to hinder his acceptance of them.
(3.) He also shews them their obligation to obey and submit to him, as their rightful Lord and Sovereign, who claims divine worship from them, Psal. xlv. 11. and what unanswerable engagements they are laid under hereunto, from all that he did and suffered in life and death, whereby he not only expressed the highest love, but purchased to himself a peculiar people, who must own him as their King, if they expect to reap the blessed fruits and effects of his purchase, as a Priest: this Christ convinces them of. And,
(4.) He represents to them the vast advantages that will attend their subjection to his government, as they shall not only obtain a full and free pardon of all their past crimes, and be taken into favour as much as though they had never forfeited it, but he will confer on them all those graces that accompany salvation, and advance them to the highest honour; upon which account they are said to be made kings and priests unto God, Rev. i. 6. yea, he will grant them to sit with him in his throne, Rev. ii. 21. not as sharing any part of his Mediatorial glory, but as being near to him that sits on the throne, and having all those tokens of his regard to them that are agreeable to their condition, or the relation they stand in to him, as subjects. He presents to their view all the promises of the covenant of grace, which are in his hand, to accomplish, and gives them ground to expect all the blessings he hath purchased, assures them that he will admit them to the most delightful and intimate communion with himself here ; that he will keep them from falling, and, in the end, present them faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, Jude, ver. 14. and as for their past follies, ingratitude, and rebellion against him, he tells them, that these shall be passed over, and not laid to their charge, Rom. viii. 33. for their confusion and condemnation, how expedient soever it may be for him to bring them to their remembrance, to humble them, and enhance their love and gratitude to him, who will, notwithstanding, forgive them.
(5.) He gives them to understand what duties he expects from them, and what are the laws that all his subjects are obliged to obey, and accordingly that he will not give forth any dispensation or allowance to sin, which is a returning again to folly; neither will he suffer them to make their own will the rule of their actions, or to live as they list, nor to give way to carnal security, negligence, or indifference in his service, but they must be always pressing forwards, running the race he has set before them with diligence and industry, that they be not slothful, but followers of them, who, through faith and patience, inherit the promises, Heb. vi. 12. and not only so, but fervent in spirit, serving the Lord, Rom. xii. 11. that they must have a zeal for his honour, as those that appear to be in good earnest, and prefer his interest to their own; and that this must be tempered with meekness, lest, whilst they seem to be espousing his cause, they give ground to conclude that the indulging their irregular passions is what they principally design. As for the obedience he demands of them, it must be universal, with their whole heart, and to the utmost of their power; and therefore if the duty enjoined be difficult, they must not say, as some of his followers did, This is a hard saying, who can hear it? John vi. 60. but rather, in this case, depend on his grace for strength to enable them to perform it; and, as they are to obey his commanding will, so he tells them they must submit to his providential will, and therein glorify his sovereignty, and reckon every thing good that he does, inasmuch as it proceeds from a wise and gracious hand, and is rendered subservient to answer the best ends, for his glory and their advantage.
Moreover, he tells them, that whatever obedience they may be enabled to perform, they must ascribe the glory thereof not to themselves, but to him, as he is the Author and Finisher of faith, and works in them all those graces that he requires of them. And, when they have thus engaged in his service, and