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John says, “In the midst of the throne and of the elders, there stood a Lamb, as it had been slain."
So wonderfully the scripture condescends to our manner of conceiving and speaking, that it may encourage our faith and hope. Sitting is a posture of dignity and repose : Standing is a posture of attention and earnestness. Christ is exhibited to us in the latter attitude, to signify how graciously he regards our necessities—how readily he affords us help in the time of need how fervently he intercedes for us, when we draw near to God in his name. And he is said to be on God's right hand, to signify his power to grant us whatever our wants require, and his interest with the Father to obtain for us an answer to our humble re. quests. When faith beholds the divine Saviour in this powerful state, and in this interceding attitude, Will it not encourage us to prayer, animate us to du. ty, fortify us against fear, and comfort us in death ? Let us seek the things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God ; and set our affec. tions on things above, and not on things which are on the earth ; for our life is hidden with Christ in God.
III. The Apostle farther instructs us, that “God has set Jesus Christ in heavenly places, far above all principality and power, and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come, and hath put all things under his feet.” In like manner he describes Christ's glorified state, in his epistle to the Philippians. “Be. ing found in fashion, as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the
Wherefore God hath highly exalted him, and given him a name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth, and every tongue should confess, that he is Lord to the Glory of God the Father.”
It is the doctrine of this Apostle, that Jesus Christ is " the image of the invisible God, the first born," i. e. the heir, or the Lord, “ of the whole creation ; for by him all things were created in heaven and earth, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principali. ties, or powers; and he is before all things, and by him all things consist.” As the divine creator, he is naturally and essentially possessed of supreme dominion over all creatures. When he became flesh and dwelt among men, the Apostle says, “ He made himself of no reputation ; he took on him the form of a servant; he humbled himself, and was obedient to the death.” In reward of this humiliation and obedience, he is highly exalted above all principality and power, and is made head over all things. Though his essential kingdom is coeternal with himself, yet there is a mediatorial kingdom, to which he was exalted in time and in consequence of his mediatorship. This kingdom had a beginning, and will have an end. It commenced with the covenant of grace ; it was solemnly announced in its full extent, at the time of his ascen. sion; and it will terminate at the final judgment, when he will deliver it up to the Father.
The Apostle describes this kingdom, as extending to all creatures in heaven, on earth, and under the earth. All the angels of God worship him ; they are subject to his authority, devoted to his pleasure, and employed in his service. The government of the natural world is in his hands ; he guides the wheels of Providence ; he directs and overrules all events ac . cording to the scheme of the divine counsel.
He is represented in the revelation, as receiving from the right hand of him who sits on the throne, the book which contains the decrees and purposes of Provi. dence, and as breaking the seals, and opening the leaves of this book in their successive order. When he received the book, the whole consistory of saints and angels fell down before him, saying, “Thou art
worthy to take the book and open the seals thereof, for thou wast slain, and hast redeeined us unto God with thy blood.”
The government of the Church is in the hands of Jesus Christ. He has instituted laws and ordinances in it, and has appointed officers to administer them, He dispenses the influences of the divine Spirit to give power and efficacy to his word. He watches oyer his church to defend it from enemies. He will one day enlarge its bounds, and render it more glori. ous, than it has ever yet been, in its extent, ils numbers and its purity.
He has dominion over devils, His superiority to them he displayed on earth, by expelling them with his word from their ancient possessions. They fell as lightning from heaven before the power of his name, * He spoiled principalities and powers and made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them on the cross.". Though he has not perfectly extinguished their influence among men, yet he has greatly dimin. ished it by the light of his gospel; and lie sets bounds to their power.
He will not suffer their malice so far to prevail, as to pluck out of his hands any of the souls which believe in him ; much less to subvert and de. stroy his church : This he has built upon a rock, and against it the.g.ites of hell will never prevail. In the Revelation, S. John describes the conflict between the kingdom of Christ, and the kingdom of Satan, as issu. ing in a complete and final victory of the former over the latter. “ There was war in heaven ; Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon fought and his angels, and prevailed not, neither was their place any more found in heaven.
And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent called the devil and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world, and his angels were cast out with him."
The last and most glorious act of Christ's supreme dominion is the judgment of the world.
" God has
committed all judgment to the Son.” As Jesus has gone into heaven ; so, we are told, he will, in some unknown period, come down from heaven in flaming fire, attended with all his nighty angels. He will appear sitting on the throne of his glory, and before him all nations will be gathered ; and every man will be judged according to his works. They who are found approved, will be received into that glorious kingdom, into which nothing can enter that defiles. But unbe. lievers and hypocrites, the disobedient and abominable will be cast into the place of everlasting punishment prepared for the devil and his angels. Then will these material heavens pass away, and the earth with its works will be burnt up; and the great Redeemer, having finished the solemn trial, will return to his exalted seat in the heavens, attended with his exulting train, who will enter with songs of joy and praise into the kingdom prepared for them from the foundation of the world. When Christ shall have put down all rule, and principality and power, shall have destroyed the last enemy, deaih, and shall have made the final distri. bution of rewards and punishments ; then shall he de. liver up the kingdom to the Father, that God may be all in all,
In the view and expectation of this solemn and tremendous scene, let us now humbly submit to the gov. ernment of Jesus Christ, and thankfully accept the gracious proposals of his gospel. Let us be careful what manner of persons we are in all holy conversation. Let us judge ourselves, that we may not be condemned with the world. This is the divine admonition to the children of men : “Behold I have set my king on my holy hill of Zion-I will give him the uttermost parts of the earth for his possession--He shall rule them with a rod of iron, and break them in pieces like a potter's vessel.
Be wise now, therefore, ; serve ye the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss ye the Son, lest he be angry and ye perish from the
way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.”
IV. We proceed to consider the end for which Christ exercises his high and extensive dominion, “He is made head over all things for the church, which is his body, the fulness of him, who filleth all in all."
The church here, as often elsewhere, is called a body, to signify the harmony and union, which ought to subsist among its various parts.
" The body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ ;" or the Christian church. In this body, there ought to be no schism, no rent or division ; but all the members should have the same care for one another, as each for itself. This thought the Apostle resumes in the 4th chapter of this epistle.
« Let us endeavor to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace, for there is one body, and one Spirit.”
The church is called the body of Christ, because he is its head ; and all the members, being united to him, take their direction, and draw their support from him ; and he exercises a continual care and concern for them, He loved the church and gave himself for it. He loves it still, and feeds and sustains it.
The church is “ the fulness of him who filleth all in all.” Jesus ascended on high, that he might re. ceive gifts to bestow them on men. He has given his word and ordinances, ordained pastors and teachers, and shed down divine and heavenly influences, “ for the edifying of the church, until we all come, in the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ."
“ He ascended far above all these visible “ heav. ens, that he might fill all things” with his gifts accord. ing to his promise to his diciples, that he would send them the Spirit to comfort and teach them, and to