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CHAPTER X.

Database

CHAPTER X.

James Dodson

PERPETUITY OF THE MEDIATORIAL DOMINION


THE reign of Messiah the Prince is progressive, both as respects the hearts of men and the world at large. Neither his visible nor his invisible kingdom is complete at once. By the use of those special, and also of those common, means which he employs, he carries forward, with irresistible energy, his work of grace and his work of judgment, at once gradually subjugating his enemies and gathering in those given him by the Father. This work embraces a period of several thousands of years, during which his kingdom is making steady advancement. There is to be, even in this present world, a season of unspeakable grandeur, when light, love, liberty, peace, and holiness, shall prevail to an unprecedented extent. But it is in the state of glory that the kingdom of Christ is to receive its grand consummation.

By Christ’s mediatorial reign in glory, we do not understand that government merely which he exercises in heaven, extending from the period of his exaltation to the end of the world. Much of his administration, during this period, has respect to his church upon earth, and to other things in subordination to her interests, as well as to the redeemed above. But what we mean by the mediatorial reign in glory, is the dominion which the exalted Mediator exercises, and will continue to exercise, over the redeemed above as such; a dominion which, we conceive, is not to be confined to the period that shall elapse at the final judgment, but shall stretch out into endless ages.

This, it will be readily perceived, is a theme of very great sublimity, and we may reasonably expect to find it involved in considerable mystery. It would argue great presumption, for a weak-sighted mortal to pretend to a complete understanding of such a subject. It is to be approached only with sentiments of profound veneration and humility, and with a fixed resolution to be guided by the light of divine revelation alone, avoiding all vain speculation, and humbly determining not to be wise above what is written.

It is a topic on which, it appears, some diversity of sentiment has existed. From an expression in the writings of the apostle Paul,[1] many have been led to form the idea, that, at the end of all things, the mediatorial reign is to terminate altogether, and the government of the kingdom to devolve, through eternity, on God essentially considered.[*] But there seems to be some confusion of ideas in the minds of those who have expressed themselves to this effect, inasmuch as, in speaking of it, they use language which is inconsistent with the notion itself. The venerable Dr. Owen says, in one place, ‘at the end of this dispensation, he shall give up the kingdom to God, even the Father, or cease from the administration of his mediatorial office and power.’ And again, ‘when this work is perfectly fulfilled and ended, then shall all the mediatory actings of Christ cease for ever.’ Yet he says, elsewhere, in explanation of his meaning on this subject, ‘I would extend this no further than as to what concerneth the exercise of Christ’s mediatory office with respect unto the church here below, and the enemies of it;’ while he admits, ‘that the person of Christ, in and by his human nature, shall be for ever the immediate Head of the whole glorified creation—the means and way of communication between God and his glorified saints for ever—the eternal object of Divine glory, praise, and worship.’[2] From these expressions, it is plain that this distinguished divine was not of opinion that the reign of the Mediator was not to be perpetual, or that it was to be abrogated, properly speaking, at the conclusion of the present state, but, on the contrary, that it was to continue, in some sense or another, for ever. Such being his sentiment, it is to be regretted that he should have allowed himself to speak on the subject without sufficient precision, and to use language which seems to give countenance to the opposite opinion.

Another writer of merited celebrity, in our own day, speaking of what Christ will do at the period in question, says, ‘As a faithful ambassador, whose commission is finished, he will honourably give it back to Him who appointed him, and will return to his own personal station, as the divine and eternal Son; and then will a new order of the moral universe commence, and the unspeakably vast assemblage of holy creatures, delivered and secured from sin and misery, shall possess the immediate fruition of the Father.’[3] This language seems to convey the idea, that it was the opinion of this writer, that the reign of Christ as Mediator, even over the church, should come to an end; for he speaks, in the context, of ‘the termination of the mediatorial reign;’[4] and, elsewhere, ‘of the great parenthesis of the mediatorial administration.’[5] It is but fair, however, to take notice of certain qualifying clauses which are thrown in, and which illustrate the confusion of ideas of which we have complained. ‘When all its designs,’ says Dr. Smith, ‘are accomplished, the mediatorial system, as to all these modes of its exercise, shall cease,’ referring to what he had said before, of ‘the giving and enforcing of religious laws, the diffusion and success of the Gospel, the heavenly intercession, the operations of divine grace, the vanquishing of all antichristian and other inimical powers, and the adjudication of eternal rewards and punishments.’ He also adds, ‘Imperfect and obscure as must be our conceptions of the termination of the mediatorial reign, it is self-evident that it can, in no respect, diminish the honours of the Redeemer, or abate the regards of the redeemed.… The connexion of Christ and his saints is indissoluble; neither things present nor things to come shall separate them from his love: and the final state of true Christians is expressly called an entering into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.’ But, after attaching all due weight to this language, as tending to modify what was quoted above, we find it impossible to look upon the expressions in question as otherwise than unguarded and erroneous.

To talk of Christ’s returning to his own personal station as the Divine and Eternal Son, certainly implies that he must have left his personal station: but is it so? He stooped, indeed, from his personal dignity, but he never laid it aside. The rank of divine and eternal Son was never lost. At the moment of his deepest humiliation, he possessed the personal dignity of the Son of God, and indeed, but for this, his humiliation would have been in vain. This Dr. Smith certainly knows and believes. To speak, as this writer does, of the redeemed in glory possessing the immediate fruition of the Father, in the sense of excluding the intervention of the Mediator, is plainly at variance with his own admission, that the connexion of Christ and his saints is indissoluble, and that the final state is the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Saviour.

The same view of the temporary duration of the mediatorial dominion, is supported in the theological lectures of a late eminent Professor of Divinity, in one of our dissenting churches. This learned author in question speaks of the text at present under consideration as ‘confessedly obscure,’ and subjoins to his explanation the following modest statement:—‘What has now been said, is proposed solely as a probable opinion: it would be presumptuous to speak confidently on a subject so obscure.’[6] The views of this writer will fall to be examined in the sequel.

With all due deference to the distinguished individuals alluded to above, we would venture to submit, whether the saying of the apostle may not, after all, be satisfactorily explained, in full consistency with the proper perpetuity of Christ’s dominion as Mediator. The passage, in its connexion, stands thus:—‘Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father, when he shall have put down all rule, and all authority, and power. For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.… And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.’[7]

It is necessary to take the whole passage into consideration. The meaning of any one phrase in it, must be consistent with that of others. The apostle cannot contradict himself. It is, of course, requisite that our explanation of one clause agree with that of another. And, if this reasonable principle is closely adhered to in the interpretation of the apostle’s language, we apprehend it will be found impossible to explain the delivering up of the kingdom, so as to imply that the mediatorial reign shall ever altogether cease. We remark, then, that such a view appears to be utterly at variance with the expression—‘Then shall the Son also be subject unto Him.’ In what sense, we ask, but that of Mediator, can any Trinitarian understand the Son to be subject to the Father through eternity? As God, personally considered, the Son is in every respect equal to the Father. Subjection or subordination necessarily implies inferiority of some kind or another; but it is only in an official capacity that inferiority, in any sense, can be ascribed to the Son of God. Personally, he ‘counts it no robbery to be equal with God;’ he is ‘Jehovah’s fellow.’ One of the writers above spoken of, has been led, by the theory of interpretation which he adopts, to use language on this subject, in our opinion, most unguarded and indefensible. ‘The eternal Son of God,’ says Dr. Pye Smith, ‘is, notwithstanding his Divine nature, subordinate in the order of Deity, and even perfectly obedient to the Father. To have been thus subject to the Father, from all eternity and by the necessity of the Divine personality, is no more incongruous with the proper and essential Divinity of the Son, than it will be, after the consummation of the present system of things, when the great parenthesis of the mediatorial administration shall be completed, and God shall be all in all.’[8] What the writer of these words means by a necessary and eternal subordination or subjection of the Son to the Father, apart from all respect to the mediatorial economy, we know not. But, we frankly confess for ourselves, that we can form no idea of any such thing, without adopting the Socinian or the Arian heresy. The slightest degree of such subordination appears to us to be perfectly ‘incongruous with the proper and essential Divinity of the Son;’ and to speak of such a thing is to us altogether revolting. It is obvious that this respected author has been betrayed into the use of such language, solely by his finding it necessary to reconcile the everlasting subjection of the Son with the preconceived notion that his mediatorial character and reign are to cease at the end of the world. And to us it appears no slight presumption against the correctness of this latter notion altogether, that so able and clear and accurate a supporter of the doctrine of our Lord’s divinity, should have found it necessary, in speaking of it, to express himself in language so obscure, contradictory and repulsive. Believing as we do, on the authority of this passage itself, that the Son is to be eternally subject to the Father, we find it impossible to separate this idea from that of the strict perpetuity of his mediatory office. But what, it will be asked, are we, in this case, to make of the delivering up of the kingdom?

The term kingdom, does not, in the instance before us, necessarily signify kingship, reign, or the possession and exercise of kingly power; but dominion in the sense of territory, or realm,—that, in short, over which the king reigns. The kingdom of Christ, in this sense, is, as we have shewn, most extensive. Besides his church, or spiritual kingdom, it includes all things in the world, in subordination to her interests. And it is the opinion of some excellent and sound theologians, that the kingdom to be delivered up at the end of time is the latter of these—his government over things without the church, and more especially her enemies. It is of his reign over ‘enemies,’ that the apostle is speaking at the time. This, as we before remarked, is the opinion of Dr. Owen, who expressly says, that the delivering up of the kingdom he would ‘extend no farther than as unto what concerneth the exercise of Christ’s mediatorial office with respect unto the church here below, and the enemies of it.’ Such also is the view of Dr. Doddridge, who, in a note to his exposition of the passage in question, says, ‘To me it appears that the kingdom to be given up is the rule of this lower world, which is then to be consumed.’[**] This view of the subject is certainly free from the objection to which that we are combating is exposed. It is also quite agreeable to the context, and perfectly consistent with the perpetuity of the mediatorial reign.

Without, however, taking the word kingdom in so restricted a sense; viewing it even as inclusive of the church, the proper realm of the mediatorial King, may not the phrase under review be satisfactorily explained on another principle? It is all along taken for granted, that the words ‘deliver up’ signify abandon, surrender, give over; and so they are understood to import that the divine Mediator shall return into the hands of the Father the official commission received from him, and henceforward exercise only a personal dominion. But may not the original term, παραδῳ, be understood to signify, only bringing the work he was commissioned to perform to a state of completion, and presenting it in that finished state to him from whom the commission was derived, by way of giving account of the trust committed to him? Certain it is that the Greek verb here employed, is used in the New Testament in this very sense. ‘But when the fruit is brought forth (marg. ripe, Gr. παραδῳ) immediately he putteth in the sickle, because the harvest is come.’[9] Here the verb bears the idea of completion or perfection, ripeness or maturity. Now, at the end of the world, the kingdom of the Messiah shall have been brought to perfection; the work given him to do shall have been finished. Those given him by the Father shall have been found out, redeemed, sanctified, saved, and gathered all together into one; their enemies, even death itself, shall have been subdued; and the whole scheme of providence shall have been developed and wound up. The Mediator shall, then, appear and give in to the Father a full account of his mediatorial undertaking; presenting to him the kingdom in that state of consummation to which he shall then have brought it; and receiving from him a clear testimony of his approbation. This is perfectly consonant with the idea that the Son shall retain and exercise his mediatorial authority over his own proper kingdom for ever. ‘This kingdom,’ says Theophylact, ‘he delivers to his Father, by achieving and accomplishing the purposes of it. Thus, for instance, if a king commits to his son the management of a war against nations that have rebelled, when the war is finished, and the nations again reduced to subjection, then he is said to deliver up the war to his Father, i.e., shew that he has accomplished the work committed to him.’[10]

It is admitted, on all hands, that there must be, at the period alluded to, an entire change in the mode of administering the kingdom. The mediatorial dominion is conducted at present by means of ordinances and providences. The preaching of the Gospel, the dispensation of sacraments, the services of ministers, and the overruling of the events that fall out in both the natural and the moral worlds, are all made subservient to the interests of the church. At the period alluded to, these shall cease. Christ has given apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers, ‘for the perfecting of the saints, till they come to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.’ By eating bread and drinking wine, believers ‘shew forth the Lord’s death till he come;’ but then they are to be introduced to the marriage supper of the Lamb. We have already adverted to the language of Dr. Smith, which accords with this view, when he says that the ‘mediatorial system, as to all these modes of its exercise, shall cease.’ We may add the language of Calvin, who, after quoting the words of the apostle respecting the delivering up of the kingdom unto the Father, says, ‘he only intends, that in that perfect glory the administration of the kingdom will not be the same as it is at present.’[11] There is thus suggested another principle on which this difficult but interesting text may be interpreted, without supposing a cessation of the mediatorial dominion and character. At present the administration of the kingdom is conducted through the intervention of outward instruments: afterwards it shall be immediate, direct, personal. According to this interpretation, the phrase, ‘that God may be all in all,’ means that a new mode of intercourse with the Deity shall then be introduced, to the exclusion, not of the Mediator, but only of those institutions and ordinances which were deemed necessary for the saints in their present state of existence. In the triumphant state, they shall no longer see through a glass darkly, but then face to face; which is, however, perfectly consistent with their receiving the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

In harmony with these views of this difficult passage, especially with the first, is the opinion of an eminent German divine, one of the most triumphant combatants of the system of theology which is unhappily too fashionable in that country. From his dissertation on the meaning of ‘the kingdom of heaven,’ we give the following extract, for whose length it is presumed no apology is necessary, as the work from which it is taken is not generally circulated.

‘The declarations of David (Psalm 110:1) and of St. Paul (1 Cor. 15:24, 28),’ says Professor Storr, ‘ought not to be taken in an opposite sense. Nor does it seem difficult to perceive, that their meaning is far different from this. For, since an eternal priesthood is attributed to the Messiah, and this is very closely allied to his kingdom, it is evident that they do not intend to deny eternity to the latter. Therefore ἑως in Psalm 110:1, does not mean, that, when every enemy has been subdued, the government is to be taken away from Christ, but as the general object of this whole psalm is to shew that the designs of his enemies against the divine prince would at length have an ending altogether different from that which they expected, it was in exact conformity with such a design to establish this point, especially, that the divinely appointed Lord should reign, until all his enemies should be subjected to his own power. Which does not mean that he to whose government the enemies should be subjected (which circumstance proves of itself the continuance of that government) should then resign his power; but, on the other hand, the result of the whole matter is declared to be this, that they who had refused to acknowledge this prince, and wished to remove him by force from his government, are all overthrown and confounded, while he himself, on the contrary, is sitting at the right hand of God. He shall reign for a considerable time in the midst of enemies, securely expecting an end of the rebellion; but, while he himself is sitting at the right hand of God, it shall at length come to pass that all his adversaries shall be reduced under subjection to his authority. Such being the meaning of the psalm, and this sense of it being recognised by St. Paul himself, who has evidently made the dignity of the Messiah, described in the psalm, coequal with his life, which he shews to be eternal, we seem to be going quite in opposition to his design, by supposing that in 1 Cor. 15 any end is assigned to the Messiah’s kingdom. Therefore, the government, which, it is said in verse 24, he shall restore to God, even the Father, must not be supposed to mean Christ’s government, but that of every opposing power, which is evidently declared to be destroyed, that the power may be restored to God. For since those who set themselves against Christ, at the same time resist God also; the government is restored to God when it is restored to Christ, subduing those who are at the same time the enemies of himself and of God, and thus recovering the government for God and for himself, from the enemies who had usurped it. That this is the meaning of the passage under discussion, appears to me to be confirmed also by what immediately follows. For St. Paul clearly shews, in 1 Cor. 15:27, that verse 25 by no means expresses, in the words αχρις οὑ, a limit and end of Christ’s government; but that all that we are to understand is, that all things, and therefore all enemies also, are to be subjected to the empire of Christ. According to this interpretation, therefore, the general drift of the apostle will be this; that for all the friends of Christ who, after the example of himself who was the first that rose again, have been recalled from death to a life of blessedness, an end is at hand to which both the expectations of believers are directed, and the divine promises, upon which these expectations rest, all point. For that this is as it were the scope and end of the divine promises, that the empire of Christ will at length so far prevail, that all enemies shall be subjected to him, of whom death must be reckoned the last which will be destroyed by the resurrection of those who have died in faith. For that God has put all things, and therefore all enemies, under him. That, therefore, when Christ shall have destroyed death and also every opposing power, and thus shall have restored the kingdom to the Father, i.e., when he shall have caused it to come to pass that God everywhere prevails and his majesty is universally acknowledged, some rejoicing exceedingly in God their King and deriving their whole pleasure and happiness from this source, from which they see and inwardly feel it to flow, i.e., from the all-powerful and benignant government of God, with never-ceasing reverence,—others, on the contrary, feeling with terror the power of his just government, and not daring to open their mouths against him;—then shall come the end. Nor should it seem strange, that the discourse in verse 24, changed from the government of Christ, who, it was said, should destroy every opposing power, to the Father to whom the kingdom is said to be delivered up by Christ. The reason of this, the apostle adds, in verses 27, 28: ‘When it is written that all things are put under him (by another), it is manifest, that he is to be excepted who put all things under him. Since, moreover, all things are put under him (by the Father), the Son himself also will be subject to him, who has put all things under him, so that God is therefore all in all.’ When St. Paul magnificently describes that great power of the man Jesus, which is able to overthrow every enemy, and even death itself, this kingdom of Christ, thus august, and delivered from the injury and destruction of every opposing power, he gives to God the Father, not in order to shew that it ceases to be Christ’s, but that all things may at last be referred to the glory of God the Father; especially as the psalms which he had in his mind, when he spoke of that τελος, treated the same subject in a similar manner. But as we read that the Father subjected all enemies to Christ, and that Christ subjected them to himself, so he who is said in 1 Cor. 15:24, to restore the kingdom to the Father, after the discomfiture of his enemies, may also be said to assert the authority and dignity of his own government. In other places, we certainly find it said that, even after the conquest of his enemies, Christ shall continue to reign.’[***]

It thus appears, that the passage in question admits of being explained, on various principles, in harmony with the sentiment that the mediatorial character and reign are to continue for ever. We do not take upon us to determine which of these views is the correct one, but we beg it to be remembered that, whether we have hit on the right interpretation or not, in any of the preceding observations, the passage itself asserts the perpetuity in question, and of course must be capable of explanation consistently with this view. The Son is to be subject to the Father for ever, which cannot be if he is not to be Mediator for ever. Having thus, we hope, successfully removed this stumbling-block which meets us at the very threshold of our subject, we proceed to submit farther evidence in support of the sentiment that Christ as Mediator is to reign for ever.

1. We go at once to the Scriptures. ‘Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever.—His name shall endure for ever.—Thy kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and thy dominion endureth throughout all generations.—Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom to order it, and to establish it with judgment, and with justice, from henceforth, even for ever.—In the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.—His dominion is an everlasting dominion which shall not pass away and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.—He shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.—An entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.—The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.’[12] All these passages refer to the reign of Christ as Mediator. The language employed is strongly and fully expressive of perpetuity. It is true, the terms in question are not always expressive of absolute eternity; but they are the strongest, be it remarked, that can be found to denote strict perpetuity; and, where they must be understood with any limitation, this arises from the nature of the subject spoken of, and not from the terms themselves. They express in themselves the longest possible duration of which the things spoken of admit. Unless, therefore, it can be proved that there is something about the mediatorial dominion which renders it necessary that it should terminate, the passages quoted must be understood as affirming, without doubt, that it shall endure for ever. Stronger phraseology cannot be found to prove even the eternity of God’s existence, or of future rewards and punishments.

The doctrine in question is confirmed and illustrated by the resplendent title, given to Christ, of King of glory. In a psalm which is admitted to refer to the ascension of the Redeemer, this designation is applied to him emphatically again and again. Myriads of angelic heralds, as they demand admission for him within the portals of the celestial palace, shout, ‘Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in;’ and when the question is propounded, ‘Who is this King of glory?’ they meet it with the unhesitating response, ‘The Lord of Hosts, he is the King of glory.’[13] To remove all hesitation about the application of this sublime passage to the Mediator, we have only to advert to the writings of the apostles, where we find him spoken of under the same magnificent appellation. ‘Which none of the princes of this world knew,’ says Paul, ‘for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.’[14] ‘My brethren,’ says James, ‘have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons.’[15] These passages, when compared with another in which Jehovah is spoken of as ‘the God of glory,’[16] cannot fail to leave the impression, on the mind of the humble and candid reader, that the divine Mediator, in his official capacity, is to exercise an undoubted sovereignty over the eternal world, regulating and dispensing for ever the communications of celestial bliss. Glory is the term peculiarly employed, both by the inspired writers and by others, to denote the state of heavenly felicity, prepared for the people of God, which is to continue for ever; and the title king or lord denotes government over that state. So far from supposing that this title does not belong to him, or that it belongs to him only for a limited period, it would seem more consonant with Scripture and right reason to conclude, that it is to constitute his most appropriate and enduring designation, and that all his other titles, King of Sion, King of saints, and King of nations, are to merge at last in this one, King of glory.

2. It would seem necessary, to the proper reward of Christ for his mediatorial work, that the duration of his reign should extend beyond the period of the consummation of all things. We have before adverted to the claim which he has to reward, and have spoken of the mediatorial dominion itself as partaking of the nature of reward. But, up to the moment of the final judgment, his work itself shall be unfinished. He shall be all the while doing the work for which he is to be rewarded. Till the end of all things, he shall be constantly engaged subduing his enemies; converting them into friends; carrying on the work of grace in their hearts, and carrying forward the scheme of divine dispensations in the world; gathering his people’s souls to himself; raising their bodies from the dead; acquitting them from all condemnation; and consigning the wicked to never-ending punishment. During all this period, he is, in a sense, making to himself a kingdom. His reward, as consisting in the full possession of his kingdom, distinguished from his work in preparing it for himself, it thus appears, cannot commence till the time when, according to the supposition of some, his mediatorial character is to cease altogether. No small part of this reward, indeed, is to consist in the perfect salvation of the redeemed; but they will not and cannot be made perfect in soul and body till the last day; not till then can the blessed Redeemer present his church ‘holy, unblamable, and unreprovable in his sight—a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing.’ And are we to suppose that, just when the kingdom is completed, the government of it is to be abandoned? that, just when it has reached the summit of its perfection, he who has brought it to this pitch is to cease to have any connexion with it? that just when he has established his throne, completed his conquest, and secured the privileges and glory of his subjects, that moment the crown is to be plucked from his head, and the sceptre to drop from his hand? How much more natural to think, that then his crown shall beam forth with a brighter lustre, and his sceptre be swayed with more undisputed sovereignty!

It will not do to say, that the glory of having once possessed the kingdom and administered it with wisdom and righteousness will ever remain to him, and will call forth a tribute of praise from the countless myriads of his subjects.’[17] For it cannot be that glory and praise for the work of redemption, are to be ascribed to him in any other character than that of Redeemer. He cannot be rewarded in one character, for work which he performs in another character. He cannot be rewarded as God, for what he does as Mediator. That he should be rewarded personally, is indeed utterly impossible, on any supposition whatever; but, even supposing it possible, it is contradictory to speak of his being rewarded essentially for work that is official. We need have no hesitation, therefore, in joining in the apostolical doxology, in which everlasting praise is ascribed to him as Mediator:—‘To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and for ever. Amen.’[18]

3. Indeed, that the mediatorial character and dominion should cease, would seem to be impossible. The relation subsisting betwixt the Redeemer and the redeemed must be perpetual. If they are to retain for ever the character of redeemed, He must surely retain that of Redeemer. A redeemer there cannot be without some that are redeemed: no more can there be redeemed without a redeemer. And, unless the Redeemer can forget the redeemed, there must be feelings of delight and complacency, and deep affection, and interest, with which He must ever regard them: and, unless the redeemed can forget their Redeemer, there are sentiments of gratitude, and love, and high esteem, and regard, with which they must ever respect Him. But that either Redeemer or redeemed should ever, through eternity, forget one another, is altogether inconceivable. It thus appears to be impossible that the mediatorial character should ever cease. Indeed, so powerfully is this consideration felt by one of the writers quoted above who hold the idea of a termination of the mediatorial reign, that, after speaking of it, he adds, ‘It is self-evident that it can, in no respect, diminish the honours of the Redeemer, or abate the regards of the redeemed. To suppose this would be to suppose the loss of memory itself in those pure and blessed minds.’[19] We ask nothing more than what is here admitted, as a proof that the mediatorial character and reign shall never terminate.

It is rendered impossible, also, by the inseparable union subsisting betwixt the divine and human natures of Christ. This union, formed at his incarnation, is indissoluble. When his humiliation terminated, his human nature was raised from the dead and taken by him to glory. In the kingdom of glory, it is destined to form a monument of divine condescension and love throughout eternity. Annihilated it cannot be; the very thought is revolting. A separate subsistence it never had, and never can have; the idea of such a thing is scarcely less shocking. There is no alternative, then, but that it shall abide for ever in close and mysterious union with the person of the Son of God. Need we any thing more to convince us, of the absolute perpetuity of the mediatorial character? In what other character can he exist as ‘God-man, Emmanuel, God with us’?

But how, admitting it to be possible, are we to suppose that the cessation of the mediatorial dominion shall be brought about? Is it to be understood that he will abdicate the throne himself, voluntarily, and of his own accord? The office and the honour attached to it are too dear to him to admit of his doing so, without some necessity for it which has never yet been shewn to exist. Shall he be dethroned, forcibly deprived of his power, and degraded from the office which he has so honourably and efficiently filled? It is impossible to conjecture by whom this should be done. It cannot be by his own people; for they feel his rule to be at once their safety and their honour. It cannot be by angels; for they also are made subject to him, and delight to do him homage. By devils it cannot be; for they, like his other enemies, shall then be put under his feet. There is but one other supposable source from which such an event can originate, and it is more unreasonable than all the rest—his Father. But He who has given him power, and set on his head a crown of purest gold, has destined that ‘upon himself shall his crown flourish, and given him length of days for ever and ever.’

4. The necessities of the redeemed, not less than the reward of the Redeemer, appear to us to require the continuance for ever of his mediatorial character. This, indeed, is the ground on which the sentiment for which we are contending is opposed. It is supposed that there can be no need for mediatorial administrations after the final judgment, that then the scheme of redemption shall be fully executed, and the official character may be laid aside as no longer required.

‘Then thou thy regal sceptre shalt lay by,

For regal sceptre thou no more shalt need;

God shall be all in all.’

Milton.

‘The kingdom will end,’ says one of the writers on this subject, ‘when its design is accomplished; he will cease to exercise an authority which has no longer an object.’ ‘Nothing will remain to be done by the power with which our Saviour was invested at his ascension; and, his work being finished, his commission will expire.’ ‘May we not conceive his mediation to terminate like any other plan, in the execution of which the intention of the contriver has been fulfilled? Why should intercession continue, when there are no sins to be forgiven, and no wants to be supplied, and when the objects of redeeming love are established in a state of perfection beyond the possibility of failure?’ However plausible the statements contained in these extracts, we have but to look closely at them to see that they assume the very point to be proved, that they take for granted the very matter in dispute, namely, that through eternity there shall exist no need for the mediatorial administration of our Lord. This we are disposed to question. We freely admit that there will not be need for the same kind of administration; the grounds of necessity will be different from what they were before. The King of glory will have no need to dispense pardon, to subdue rebellious passions, to ward off enemies, or to intercede for the bestowment of the initiatory blessings of redemption. But are there no other things that may call for the exercise of the mediatorial functions? We submit that there are.

May not the continuance of the relations subsisting between Christ and his people render this necessary? In the day of grace, a vital union is formed on the part of the renewed soul to the Lord Jesus Christ, which is essential to the privileges and duties of the Christian life and character. In consequence of this, Christ becomes, to the believer, at once a Head of merit—conferring on him a right to all new covenant benefits, and a Head of influence—communicating to him all needed supplies of strength and enjoyment. It is clearly to him as Mediator that this union is formed. Now this union is indissoluble. Christ can never cease to be the Head of merit and of influence to his people. Their right to all the blessings, and their fitness for all the services, and their experience of all the pleasures, of the celestial state, spring from their relation to him. They can spring, neither from themselves, nor from God absolutely considered. Nor are they the mere effects of what Christ has done, but effects to the continued existence of which their abiding in him is indispensable. But they could not abide in him as Mediator, unless he continued to be Mediator; and it is the rejoicing of believers’ hearts to know that the union between them and their Lord shall never be dissolved. ‘Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.’[20]

The redeemed in glory are to be engaged, throughout eternity, in the service of God. ‘They serve him day and night in his temple. His servants shall serve him.’[21] While studying the character and works of Jehovah himself, hymning his praises, and performing offices of friendship to one another, they shall be actively employed in serving the Lord. And how are these services to find acceptance with God, but through the merits and intercession of the Mediator? As sinners saved, as captives redeemed, they can never claim acceptance on their own merit. Nor does it even appear consonant to the character of the great and holy God, to suppose him holding absolute and immediate intercourse with persons of this description, such as he holds with the angels who have never sinned. Moral fitness or propriety would seem to require, that the fellowship of redeemed men with the Majesty of heaven and of earth, should ever be conducted so as to indicate the peculiarity of their character, and to distinguish them from the unfallen sons of light. And this, we have reason to believe, will be done, by all their communion with God being through a Mediator, without whose intervention they shall not receive one ray of light or one token of divine regard.[****]

The very nature of the believer’s glorious reward, supposes the perpetuity of Christ’s mediatorial character. In what is this reward to consist, but in being associated with him in his kingdom? It is abundantly plain, from the following sayings of Holy Writ, that regal dignity in connexion with Christ is to constitute a part, at least, of the reward of the redeemed. ‘When the Son of man shall sit on the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel—They who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness, shall reign in life by one Jesus Christ—If we suffer we shall also reign with him—They shall reign for ever and ever—To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me on my throne.’[22] According to the opinion we are combating, how are these expressions to be interpreted? The saints, agreeably to these Scriptures, are to reign in glory with Christ as Mediator: but, according to the opinion in question, Christ as Mediator is not to reign in glory at all, posterior to the consummation of all things. His reign is to terminate just when theirs is beginning. When theirs commences his ceases. As they ascend their throne, he abdicates his. When they are made kings to God, he is to be king no more.

Moreover, the perpetuation as well as the nature of the reward of the redeemed, supposes the continuance of the mediatorial dominion. To the continued efficacy of the Saviour’s sacrifice, the continued enjoyment of the blessings it procured is to be ascribed. But continued efficacy and application suppose a continued administration, which can only be conducted by the Saviour himself. In the same manner as the suspension of that divine energy by which all things are upheld, would involve the annihilation of all things, so, it appears to us, would the suspension of the mediatorial administration involve the annihilation of all the eternal privileges of redemption. It is the prerogative of a king to reward his subjects; but the King of saints must not only confer, but perpetuate, the reward of his people. In whatever this reward may be supposed to consist,—in dignity, honour, exaltation, fellowship, or blissful communications,—it will require to be continued, and this can be secured only by the administration of the King of glory.

To the redeemed before the throne, divine communications shall be constantly dealt out, through eternity. This is no way inconsistent with their being made perfect in glory at the last day. The perfection of creatures must never be identified with infinity. To be made perfect in knowledge, holiness, love, does not suppose the possession of these qualities in an infinite degree. Such a thing is impossible. It only means being free from the imperfections of the present state, while abundant room is left for progressive advancement in every attribute of intellectual and moral being. If angels advance, as we know they do, why may not the redeemed? The infinite character of the sources of eternal bliss admits of endless progression; while the necessary increase of capacity, arising from the exercise of all the faculties, renders progressive communication and advancement as unavoidable in itself as it is essential to the happiness of beings constituted as men are. We have every reason, therefore, to conclude, that there will be everlasting communications of light, life, power, love, and ineffable satisfaction, made to the souls of the redeemed. And through what channel shall these communications flow? Surely through the medium of the King of glory. New covenant blessings can flow only through the Mediator of the covenant. It is not enough that Jesus as Mediator has procured for his people the provisions of the covenant, and brought them in safety to heaven, but he shall administer to them for ever the fulness of his Father’s house. ‘The Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters.’ ‘The pure river of the water of life’ proceeds out of the throne, not merely of God, but ‘of the Lamb.’[23]

It is surely reasonable to suppose that, as the heavenly state is so often spoken of as a kingdom, it must have a ruler. A kingdom necessarily supposes the existence of a king who exercises sovereign rule over it so long as it exists. But the character of the king must bear a relation to the nature of the kingdom. Now, the kingdom of heaven being a mediatorial kingdom, cannot be consistently supposed to be presided over by any but a mediatorial king. Accordingly, we find everlasting dominion ascribed to Christ as Mediator. Jude says, ‘To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory, and majesty, and dominion, and power, both now and for ever.’ Of the Prince of the kings of the earth, we find John the divine saying, ‘To him be glory and dominion for ever and ever.’ Every creature in heaven and on earth is, also, represented as shouting, ‘Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever.’[24] It hence appears, that it is part of the regal administration of Christ in glory to bear rule over the whole kingdom of redeemed saints. Nor is there anything in this, incompatible with the dignity of their station, as exalted to the right hand of the majesty on high. They are still creatures, dependent creatures, whose very nature involves the idea of subjection. So far from its being derogatory to their exalted character to be subject to Messiah the Prince, it is their happiness to be placed under his mild and blissful reign. It is with ineffable delight that they bow before his throne, cast their crowns at his feet, and shout, in full and rapturous chorus, Alleluia, for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth! What a glorious reign! A King infinitely wise, holy, powerful, beneficent, divine: an administration righteous, pure, gentle, and unspeakably happy: and subjects, all of whom can appreciate the excellences of their Prince’s character and the blessings of his administration, and among whose countless myriads there occurs not a single rebellious action, word, or wish! To do homage to their King is not only the delight, but the ceaseless occupation of the redeemed; and, without the perpetuity of his mediatorial dominion, there would be none to receive their ascriptions of praise, and gratitude, and honour, and glory.

On all these grounds, we may safely conclude that our Redeemer will never lay aside his mediatorial authority, never cease to act in the capacity of King of glory. Indeed all the mediatorial offices, would seem to be exercised in heaven;—the prophetical, in diffusing spiritual illumination; the sacerdotal, in securing the blessing and giving acceptance to the services of his saints; and the regal, inbearing rule, receiving homage, and administering reward to the children of the kingdom. The mediatorial reign is no parenthesis in the plan of God’s moral government. It is rather the last and greatest of his works, the climax of his wise and holy administration.

The preceding remarks may help us, in some degree, to form an idea of the nature of the mediatorial administration in glory. Let us lay aside every prejudice that would prevent us from cordially rejoicing in a subject so delightful and animating. It cannot but be honouring to Christ to regard him as reigning for ever and ever; and it cannot but be pleasing, beyond all description, to his saints to think that they are never to lose sight of him as their King, never to cease to be his subjects, never but to yield him their grateful heartfelt homage. It cannot but rejoice them to know that they are to be ever under his rule, and that, even after they are taken to glory, they shall continue to behold him as the Lamb in the midst of the throne for ever and ever. What a prospect! How should it excite us to prepare for its being realised! Happy they who, having submitted themselves to him in time as King of saints, shall be eternally under his sway as King of glory!

[CONCLUSION]


FOOTNOTES:


[1] 1 Cor. 15:24. ‘Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father,’ &c.

[*] The author here has made a reference to Christ’s Second Coming: will it be pre-millennial? By Principal Brown. 2nd ed. 1849, pp. 160–166.

[2] Owen’s Works, vol. i. pp. 236, 237, 271, Goold’s edition.

[3] Dr. P. Smith on the Messiah, iii. 257.

[4] [Smith on the Messiah] p. 258.

[5] Smith on Sacrifice, p. 92.

[6] See Dr. Dick’s Lectures, vol. iii. pp. 239–245.

[7] 1 Cor. 15:24–28.

[8] Smith on Sacrifice, pp. 91, 92. See also Treffrey on the Sonship, p. 387.

** See also Urwick on The Second Advent, p. 62; and on The Worship of Christ, p. 261.

[9] Mark 4:29.

[10] Bloomfield’s Recensio Synoptica, vol. vi. p. 681.

[11] Calv. Inst., Book II. chap. xv. sec. 5.

*** Dissertation on the meaning of the kingdom of heaven, by Gottlob Christian Storr, late Professor of Theology in the University of Tübingen.—Biblical Cabinet, No. IX., pp. 26–37.

[12] Ps. 45:6, 72:17, 145:13; Isa. 9:7; Dan. 2:44, 7:14; Luke 1:33; 2 Pet. 1:11; Rev. 11:15.

[13] Ps. 24:7–10.

[14] 1 Cor. 2:8.

[15] James 2:1.

[16] Acts 7:2.

[17] Dr. Dick.

[18] Jude 25.

[19] Dr. P. Smith.

[20] Rom. 8:35, 38, 39.

[21] Rev. 7:15; 22:3.

**** The language of John 3:2, ‘We know that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is,’ may be regarded as confirming the reasoning in the text.—Ed.

[22] Matt. 19:28; Rom. 5:17; 2 Tim. 2:12; Rev. 22:5, 3:21.

[23] Rev. 7:17, 22:1.

[24] Jude 25; Rev. 1:5, 5:13.