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§  1. The Church God’s Kingdom.

God as the creator and preserver of the universe, and as infinite in his being and perfections, is, in virtue of his nature, the absolute sovereign of all his creatures. This sovereignty He exercises over the material world by his wisdom and power, and over rational beings as a moral ruler. From this rightful authority of God, our race revolted, and thereby became a part of the kingdom of darkness of which Satan is the head. To this kingdom the mass of mankind has ever since belonged. But God, in his. grace and mercy, determined to deliver men from the. consequences of their apostasy. He not only announced the coming of a Redeemer who should destroy the power of Satan, but He at once inaugurated an antagonistic kingdom? consisting of men chosen out of the world, and through the renewing of the Holy Ghost restored to their allegiance. Until the time of Abraham this kingdom does not appear to have had any visible organization apart from the families of the people of God. Every pious household was a church of which the parent was the priest.

To prevent the universal spread of idolatry, to preserve the knowledge of the truth, to gather in his elect, and to prepare the way for the coming of the promised Redeemer, God entered into covenant with the father of the faithful and with his descendants through Isaac, constituting them his visible kingdom, and making them the depositaries and guardians of his supernatural revelations. In this covenant He promised eternal life upon condition of faith in Him that was to come.

When Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt, they were made a theocracy so constituted in its officers, in its institutions, and in its services, as not only to preserve alive the knowledge of God’s purpose and plan of salvation, but also to set forth the character, offices, and work of the promised seed of Abraham in whom all the nations of the earth were to be blessed.

597

The kingdom of God, therefore, as consisting of those who acknowledge, worship, love, and obey Jehovah as the only living and true God, has existed in our world ever since the fall of Adam. It has ever been the light and life of the world. It is the salt by which it is preserved. It is the leaven by which it is ultimately to be pervaded. To gather his people into this kingdom, and to carry it on to its consummation, is the end of all God’s dispensations, and the purpose for which his eternal Son assumed our nature. He was born to be a king. To this end He lived and died and rose again, that He might be Lord of all those given to Him by the Father.

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