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3. Another regal act of Christ is the restraining of his servants from iniquity, and withholding them from those courses to which their own hearts would lead them ; for even in them there is a spirit bent to backsliding; but the Lord in tenderness keeps back their souls from iniquity, and that when they are upon the very brink of sin. "My feet were almost gone, my steps had well nigh slipped.” Psalm 73:2. Then doth the Lord prevent sin, by removing the occasion providentially, or by helping them to resist the temptation, graciously assisting their spirits in the trial, so that no temptation shall befal them, but a way of escape shall be opened, that they may be able to bear it. 1 Cor. 10:13. Thus his people have frequent occasion to bless his name for his preventing goodness, when they are almost in the midst of all evil. And this I take to be the meaning of Gal. 5:16; "This I say, then, walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lusts of the flesh :" tempted by them you may be, but fulfil them ye shall not; my Spirit shall cause the temptation to die and
in the embryo of it, so that it shall not come to a full birth.
4. He protects them in his ways, and suffers them not to relapse from him into a state of sin and bondage to Satan any more. Indeed, Satan is restless in his endea. vors to reduce them again to his obedience; he never leaves tempting and soliciting for their return; and where he finds a false professor he prevails; but Christ keeps his own, that they depart not again. "All that thou hast given me, I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition.” John, 17:12. They are " kept by the mighty power of God, through faith unto salvation," 1 Pet. 1:5; kept as in a garrison, according to the import of that word. None more assaulted, yet none more safe than the people of God. They are preserved in Christ Jesus." Jude, 1. It is not their
own grace that secures them, but Christ's care and continual watchfulness. This is his covenant with them, "I will put my fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from me.” Jer. 32:40. Thus, as a King, he preserves them.
5. As a King he rewards their obedience, and encourages their sincere service. Though all they do for Christ be duty, yet he has united their comfort with their duty. "This I had, because I kept thy precepts." Psalm 119:56. They take this encouragement with them to every duty, that he whom they seek "is a bountiful rewarder of such as diligently seek him.” Heb. 11:6. O what a good Master do the saints serve! Hear how the King expostulates with his subjects: "Have I been a barren wilderness, or a land of darkness to you ?" Jer. 2:31. Have I been such a hard master to you ? Have you any reason to complain of my service ? You have not found the ways or wages of sin like mine.
6. He pacifies all inward troubles, and commands peace when their spirits are tumultuous. This "peace of God rules in their hearts." Col. 3: 15. When the tumultuous affections are excited; when anger, hatred, and revenge begin to rise in the soul, this hushes and stills all. I will hearken (saith the church) what God the Lord will speak, for he will speak peace to his people, and to his saints.” Psalm 85:8. He that saith to the raging sea, Be still, and it obeys him, he only can pacify the disquieted spirit. These are Christ's regal acts. And he exercises them upon the souls of his people, powerfully, sweetly, suitably.
Powerfully: whether he restrains from sin, or impels to duty, he does it with a soul-determining efficacy; for "his kingdom is not in word, but in power.” 1 Cor. 4:20. And yet,
He rules not by compulsion, but most sweetly. His
law is a law of love, written upon their hearts. The church is the Lamb's wife. Rev. 19:7. "A bruised reed he shall not break, and smoking flax he shall not quench.” Isa. 43: 3. "I beseech you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ,” saith the apostle. 2 Cor. 10:1. For he delights in free, not in forced obedience. He rules children, not slaves; and so his kingly power is mixed with fatherly love.
He rules them suitably to their natures; "I drew them with the cords of a man, with bands of love,” Hos. 11:4; that is, in a way proper to convince their reason and move their affections. And thus his eternal kingdom is administered by his Spirit, who is his vicegerent in our hearts.
III. The privileges pertaining to all the subjects of this spiritual kingdom.
1. Those over whom Christ reigns, are certainly and fully set free from the curse of the law. "If the Son make you free, then are you free indeed.” John, 8: 36. I
say not, they are free from the law as a rule of life ; such a freedom were no privilege: but free from the rigorous exactions and terrible maledictions of it ; to hear our liberty proclaimed from this bondage, is the joyful sound indeed, the most blessed voice that ever our ears heard. And this all that are in Christ shall hear : " If we be led by the Spirit, we are not under the law.” Gal. 5 : 18.
Blessed are the people that hear this joyful sound.” Psalm, 89 : 15.
2. Another privilege of Christ's subjects, is freedom from the dominion of sin ; "Sin shall not reign over them; for they are not under the law, but under grace,” Rom. 6 : 14. One heaven cannot bear two suns ; nor one soul two kings: when Christ takes the throne, sin quits it. It is true, sin exists there still ; its defiling and troubling power remains; but its dominion is abolished. O joyful tidings! O welcome day!
3. Another privilege of Christ's subjects, is protection in all the troubles and dangers to which their souls or bodies are exposed. This man shall be the peace, when the Assyrian shall come into our land, and when he shall tread in our palaces.” Mic. 5:5. Kings owe protection to their subjects: none so able, so faithful in that work as Christ; all " thou gavest me I have kept, and none is lost.” John, 17 : 12.
4. Another privilege of Christ's subjects, is a merciful and tender bearing of their burdens and infirmities. They have a meek and patient King ; " Tell ye the daughter of Sion, thy King cometh unto thee, meek.” Matt. 21 : 5. "Take my yoke, and learn of me, for I am meek and lowly.” Matt. 11 : 29. The meek Moses could not bear the provocations of the people, Numb. 11:12; but Christ bears them all: "He carries the lambs in his arms, and gently leads those that are with young." Isa. 40 : 11. He can have compassion upon the ignorant, and them that are out of the way.
5. Again, sweet peace and tranquillity of soul is the privilege of the subjects of this kingdom: for this kingdom consists in "peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost." Rom. 14 : 17. And till souls come under his sceptre, they shall never find peace : Come unto me,” ye
that are weary, "I will give you rest.” Yet do not mistake;
say not, they have all actual peace, at all times; no, they often break that peace by sin; but they have the root of peace, the ground-work and cause of peace. If they have not peace, yet they have that which is convertible into peace at any time. They also are in a state of peace; " Being justified by faith, we have peace with God.” Rom. 5 : 10. This is a feast every day, a mercy which they only can duly value that are in the depths of trouble for sin.
6. Everlasting salvation is the privilege of all over whom Christ reigns. Prince and Saviour are joined to
gether. Acts, 5:31. He that can say, " Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel," may add, "and afterwards bring me to glory.” Psa. 73 : 24. Indeed, the kingdom of grace doth but raise up children for the kingdom of glory. It in fact is the kingdom of heaven here begun; and therefore this, as well as that, bears the name of the kingdom of heaven. The King is the same, and the subjects the same. The subjects of this are shortly to be translated to that kingdom. Thus have I glanced at a few of the inestimable privileges of Christ's subjects.
INFERENCE 1. How great is the misery of those who continue in bondage to sin and Satan, and refuse the government of Christ! Satan writes his laws in the blood of his subjects, grinds them with cruel oppression, wears them out with bondage to divers lusts, and rewards their service with everlasting misery. And yet how few are weary of it, and willing to come over to Christ! "Behold, (says Gurnal, in his Christian Armor,) Christ is in the field, sent of God to recover his right and your liberty. His royal standard is pitched in the Gospel, and proclamation made, that if any poor sinner, weary of the devil's
government, and laden with the miserable chains of his spiritual bondage, shall thus come and repair to Christ, he shall have protection from God's justice, the devil's wrath, and sin's dominion ; in a word, he shall have rest, and that glorious.” Isa. 11 : 10.
And yet how few stir a foot towards Christ, but are willing to have their ears bored, and be perpetual slaves to that cruel tyrant! Oh when will sinners be weary
of their bondage, and sigh after deliverance! If any such poor soul shall read these lines, let him know, and I do proclaim it in the name of my royal Master, and give him the word of a King for it, he shall not be rejected by Christ. John, 6:37. Come, poor sinners, come, the Lord Jesus is a merciful King, and never will condemn the poor penitent that submits to mercy.