The Lord's Prayer

By Thomas Watson

The Second Petition in the Lord's Prayer
(part 1)

"May Your kingdom come." Matthew 6:10

A soul truly devoted to God, joins heartily in this petition, "your kingdom come." In these words it is implied that God is a king, for he who has a kingdom, can be no less than a king. "God is the King of all the earth." Psalm 47:7. He is a King upon his throne. "God sits upon the throne of his holiness." Psalm 47:8. He has a regal title, high and mighty. "Thus says the high and lofty One." Isaiah 57:15. He has the ensigns of royalty. He has his sword. "If I whet my glittering sword." Deut 32:41. He has his scepter. "A scepter of righteousness is the scepter of your kingdom." Heb 1:8. He has his royal crown. "On his head were many crowns." Rev 19:12. He has his jura regalia, his kingly prerogatives. He has power to make laws, to seal pardons, which are the flowers and jewels belonging to his crown. Thus the Lord is King.

Further, he is a great King. "A great King above all gods." Psalm 95:3. He is great in and of himself; and not like other kings, who are made great by their subjects. That he is so great a King appears by the immensity of his being. "Do not I fill heaven and earth? says the Lord." Jer 23:24. His center is everywhere; he is nowhere included—yet nowhere excluded. He is so immensely great, that "the heaven of heavens cannot contain him". 1 Kings 8:27.

His greatness appears by the effects of his power. He "made heaven and earth," and can unmake it. Psalm 124:8. With a breath he can crumble us to dust; with a word he can unpin the world, and break the axle-tree of it in pieces. "He pours contempt upon princes." Job 12:21. "He shall cut off the spirit of princes." Psalm 76:12. He is Lord paramount, who does whatever he will. Psalm 115:3. He weighs "the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance." Psalm 40:12.

God is a glorious King. "Who is this King of glory? The Lord Almighty, he is the King of glory." Psalm 24:10. He has internal glory. "The Lord reigns, he is clothed with majesty." Psalm 93:1. Other kings have royal and sumptuous apparel to make them appear glorious to beholders—but all their magnificence is borrowed. But God is clothed with his own majesty; his own glorious essence is instead of royal robes, and "he has girded himself with strength." Kings have their guard about them to defend their person, because they are not able to defend themselves; but God needs no guard or assistance from others. "He has girded himself with strength." His own power is his lifeguard. "Who in the heaven can be compared unto the Lord? Who among the sons of the mighty can be likened unto the Lord?" Psalm 89:6. He has a pre-eminence above all other kings for majesty. "He has on his vesture a name written, Rex Regum, KING OF KINGS." Rev 19:16. He has the highest throne, the richest crown, the largest dominions, and the longest possession. "The Lord sits King forever." Psalm 29:10. Though he has many heirs—yet no successors. He sets up his throne where no other king does; he rules the will and affections; his power binds the conscience. Angels serve him, all the kings of the earth hold their crowns and diadems by immediate tenure from this great King. "By me kings reign," Proverbs 8:15. To this Lord Jehovah, all kings must give account; and from his tribunal there is no appeal.

Use 1. For instruction

(1) If God is so great a King, and sits King forever, it is no disparagement for us to serve him! It is an honor to serve a king. If the angels fly swiftly upon the King of heaven's message, then well may we look upon it as a favor to be taken into his royal service. Dan 9:21. Theodosius thought it a greater honor to be God's servant—than to be an emperor. It is more honor to serve God—than to have kings serve us. Every subject of this King is crowned with regal honor! He "has made us kings." Rev 1:6. therefore, as the queen of Sheba, having seen the glory of Solomon's kingdom, said, "Happy are these your servants who stand continually before you." 1 Kings 10:8. So happy are those saints who stand before the King of heaven, and wait on his throne.

(2) If God is such a glorious King, crowned with wisdom, armed with power, be spangled with riches, it shows us what prudence it is to have this King to be ours; to say, "My King, and my God!" Psalm 5:2. It is counted great policy to be on the strongest side. If we belong to the King of heaven, we are sure to be on the strongest side. The King of glory can with ease destroy his adversaries; he can pull down their pride, befoul their policy and restrain their malice. That stone cut out of the mountain without hands, which smote the image (Dan 2:34), was an emblem, says Augustine, of Christ's monarchial power, conquering and triumphing over his enemies. If we are on God's side, we are on the strongest side; he can with a word destroy his enemies. "Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath." Psalm 2:5. Nay, with a look he can destroy them. "Look upon everyone that is proud and bring him low." Job 40:12. It needs cost God no more to confound those who rise up against him, than a look, a cast of his eye. "In the morning watch, the Lord looked unto the army of the Egyptians, through the pillar of fire, and troubled the host of the Egyptians, and took off their chariot-wheels." Exod 14:24. What wisdom is it then to have this King to be ours! Then we are on the strongest side.

Use 2. For exhortation

(1) If God is so glorious a King, full of power and majesty, let us TRUST in him. "Those who know your name will put their trust in you." Psalm 9:10. Trust him with your soul; you cannot put this jewel in safer hands. And trust him with church and state affairs; he is King. "The Lord is a man of war." Exod 15:3. He can bare his holy arm in the eyes of all the nations. If means fail, he is never at a loss; there are no impossibilities with him; he can make the dry bones live. Ezek 37:10. As a King he can command, and as a God he can create salvation. "I create Jerusalem a rejoicing." Isaiah 65:18. Let us trust all our affairs with this great King. Either God can remove mountains—or he can leap over them! Canticles 2:8.

(2) If God is so great a King, let us FEAR him. "Do you not fear me? says the Lord: will you not tremble at my presence?" Jer 5:22. We have enough of fear of men. Fear makes danger appear greater, and sin less; but let us fear the King of kings, who has power to cast body and soul into hell. Luke 12:5. As one wedge drives out another, so the fear of God would drive out all base carnal fear. Let us fear that God whose throne is set above all kings; they may be mighty—but he is almighty. Kings have no power—but what God has given them; their power is limited, his is infinite. Let us fear this King, whose eyes are "as a flame of fire." Rev 1:14. "The mountains quake at him; and the rocks are thrown down by him." Nahum 1:5, 6. If he stamps with his foot, all the creatures are presently up in a battalion to fight for him. Oh, tremble and fear before this God. The fear of God, is the doorkeeper of the soul. It keeps sin from entering. "How can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?" Gen 39:9.

(3) If God is so glorious a King, he has the power of life and death in his hand. Let all the potentates of the earth take heed how they employ their power against the King of heaven. They employ their power against God, who with their scepters beat down his truth, which is the most orient pearl of his crown; who crush and persecute his people, who are the apple of his eye (Zech 2:8); who trample upon his laws, and royal edicts, which he has set forth (Psalm 2:3). What is a king without his laws? Let all who are invested with worldly power and grandeur, take heed how they oppose the King of glory. The Lord will be too hard for all who come against him. "Have you an arm like God?" Job 40:9. Will you measure arms with the Almighty? Shall a little child fight with an archangel? "Can your heart endure, or can your hands be strong in the days that I shall deal with you?" Ezek 22:14. Christ will put all his enemies at last under his feet. Psalm 110:1. All the multitude of the wicked, who set themselves against God, shall be but as so many clusters of ripe grapes, to be cast into the winepress of the wrath of God, to be trodden by him until their blood comes forth. The King of glory will come off victor at last. Men may set up their standard—but God always sets up his trophies of victory.

The Lord has a golden scepter, and an iron rod. Psalm 2:9. Those who will not bow to the one, shall be broken by the other.

(4) Is God so great a king, having all power in heaven and earth in his hand—let us learn subjection to him. You who have gone on in sin, and by your impieties hung out a flag of defiance against the King of heaven, O come in quickly, and make your peace, submit to God. "Kiss the Son, lest he be angry." Psalm 2:12. Kiss Christ with a kiss of love, and a kiss of obedience. Obey the King of heaven, when he speaks to you by his ministers and ambassadors. 2 Cor 5:20. When God bids you flee from sin, and espouse holiness, obey him: to obey is better than sacrifice. "To obey God," says Luther, "is better than to work miracles." Obey God willingly. Isaiah 1:19. That is the best obedience, which is cheerful, as that is the sweetest honey which drops out of the comb. Obey God swiftly. "Then lifted I up my eyes, and, behold, two women, and the wind was in their wings." Zech 5:9. Wings are swift—but wind in the wings denotes great swiftness; such should our obedience to God be. Obey the King of glory.

Use 3. For consolation. Here is comfort to those who are the subjects of the King of heaven. God will put forth all the royal power for their support and comfort.

(1) The King of heaven will plead their cause. "I will plead your cause, and take vengeance for you." Jer 51:36.

(2) He will protect his people. He sets an invisible guard about them. "I will be unto her a wall of fire round about." Zech 2:5. A wall, that is defensive; a wall of fire, that is offensive.

(3) When it may be for the good of his people, he will raise up deliverance to them. "The Lord saved them by a great deliverance." 1 Chron 11:14. God reigning as a king, can save any way; even by contemptible means, as the blowing of the trumpets, and blazing of lamps. Judges 7:20. He can save by contrary means; as when he made the sea a wall to Israel, and the waters were a means to keep them from drowning. The fish's belly was a ship in which Jonah sailed safe to shore. God will never lack ways of saving his people; rather than fail, their very enemies shall do his work. 2 Chron 20:23. He sets Ammon and Mount Seir one against another. As God will deliver his people from temporal danger, so from spiritual danger, as from sin, and from hell. "Jesus who delivered us from the wrath to come." 1 Thess 1: l0.

Use 4. For intimidation. If God is king, he will set his utmost strength against those who are the enemies of his kingdom. "A fire goes before him, and burns up his enemies round about." Psalm 97:3.

(1) He will set himself against his enemies. He will set his attributes against them, his power and justice; and "who knows the power of your anger?" Psalm 90:2.

(2) He will set the creatures against them. "The stars in their courses fought against Sisera." Judges 5:20. Tertullian observes, that when the Persian fought against the Christians, a mighty wind arose, which made the Persian arrows to fly back in their own faces. Every creature has a quarrel with a sinner; the stone out of the wall, the hail and the frost. Hab 2:11. "He destroyed their vines with hail, and their sycomore-trees with frost." Psalm 78:47.

(3) God will set men against themselves. He will set conscience against them. How terrible is this rod—when turned into a serpent! Melanchthon calls it a hellish fury! It is called vermis conscientiae, the worm of conscience. Mark 9:44. What a worm did Spira feel in his conscience! He was a terror to himself. The worst civil wars are between a man and his conscience.

(4) God will set the diseases of men's bodies against them. "The Lord smote Jehoram in his bowels with an incurable disease." 2 Chron 21:18. God can raise an army against a man out of his own body; he can set one humor of the body against another; the heat to dry up the moisture, and the moisture to drown the heat. The Lord needs not go far for instruments to punish the sinner; he can make the joints of the same body to smite one against another. Dan 5:6.

(5) God will set men's friends against them. Where they used to have honey, they shall have nothing but aloes and wormwood. "When a man's ways please the Lord, he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him." Proverbs 16:7. When he opposes God, he makes his friends to be his enemies. The wife of emperor Commodes, gave him poison in perfumed wine. Sennacherib's two sons were the death of him. 2 Kings 19:37.

(6) God will set Satan against them. "Let Satan stand at his right hand." Psalm 109:6. What does Satan do, at the sinner's elbows? He helps him to contrive sin. He tempts him to commit sin. He terrifies him for sin. He who has Satan standing at his right hand, is sure to be set at God's left hand. Here is the misery of such as oppose God's royal scepter, that he will set everything in the world against them. If there is either justice in heaven or fire in hell—the ungodly shall not be unpunished!

Use 5. For encouragement. If God is such an absolute monarch, and crowned with such glory and majesty—let us all engage in his service, and stand up for his truth and worship. Dare to own God in the worst time. He is King of kings, and is able to reward all his servants. We may be losers for him, we shall never be losers by him. We are ready to say, as Amaziah, "What shall I do for the hundred talents?" 2 Chron 25:9. If I appear for God, I may lose my estate, or my life. I say with the prophet, God is able to give you much more than this; he can give you for the present inward peace, and for the future a crown of glory which fades not away.

What kingdom is meant when Christ says, "Your kingdom come"?

Let us show first what he does NOT mean.

(1) He does not mean a political or earthly kingdom. The apostles indeed did desire Christ's temporal reign. "Will you at this time restore the kingdom again to Israel?" Acts 1:6. But Christ said his kingdom was not of this world. John 18:36. So that, when Christ taught his disciples to pray, "Your kingdom come," he did not mean it of any earthly kingdom, that he should reign here in outward pomp and splendor.

(2) It is not meant of God's providential kingdom. "His kingdom rules over all;" that is, the kingdom of his providence. Psalm 103:19. This kingdom we do not pray for when we say, "Your kingdom come;" for this kingdom is already come. God NOW exercises the kingdom of his providence in the world. "He puts down one and sets up another." Psalm 75:7. Nothing stirs in the world but God has a hand in it; he sets every wheel at work; he humbles the proud, and raises the poor out of the dust to set them among princes. 1 Sam 2:8. The kingdom of God's providence rules over all; kings do nothing but what his providence permits and orders. Acts 4:27, 28. This kingdom of God's providence we do not pray should come—for it is already come.

What kingdom then is meant when we say, "Your kingdom come"? Positively a twofold kingdom is meant.

(1) The kingdom of grace, which God exercises in the consciences of his people. This is God's lesser kingdom. When we pray, "Your kingdom come," we pray that the kingdom of grace may be set up in our hearts and increased.

(2) We pray also, that the kingdom of glory may hasten, and that we may, in God's good time be translated into it. These two kingdoms of grace and glory, differ not in nature—but in degree only. The kingdom of grace is nothing but the beginning of the kingdom of glory. The kingdom of grace is glory in the seed; and the kingdom of glory is grace in the flower. The kingdom of grace is glory in the daybreak, and the kingdom of glory is grace in the full meridian. The kingdom of grace is glory militant, and the kingdom of glory is grace triumphant. There is such an inseparable connection between these two kingdoms, grace and glory, that there is no passing into the one but by the other.

At Athens there were two temples, a temple of virtue and a temple of honor; and there was no going into the temple of honor—but through the temple of virtue. Just so, the kingdoms of grace and glory are so closely joined together, that we cannot go into the kingdom of glory but through the kingdom of grace. Many people aspire after the kingdom of glory—but never look after grace; but these two, which God has joined together, may not be put asunder. The kingdom of grace leads to the kingdom of glory.

I. The first thing implied in this petition, "Your kingdom come," is that we are in the kingdom of darkness. We pray that we may be brought out of the kingdom of darkness. The state of nature, is a kingdom of darkness, where sin is said to reign. Romans 6:12. It is called, "the power of darkness." Col 1:13. Man, before the fall, was illuminated with perfect knowledge—but this light is now eclipsed, and he is fallen into the kingdom of darkness. "For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins." Colossians 1:13-14

How many ways is a natural man in the kingdom of darkness?

(1) He is under the darkness of ignorance. "Having the understanding darkened." Eph 4:18. Ignorance is a black veil drawn over the mind. Men by nature may have a deep understanding in the things of the world—and yet be ignorant of the things of God. Nahash the Ammonite would make a covenant with Israel to thrust out their right eyes. 1 Sam 11:2. Since the fall, our left eye remains—a deep insight into worldly matters; but our right eye is thrust out—we have no saving knowledge of God. Some things we know by nature—but nothing as we ought to know. 1 Cor 8:2. Ignorance draws the curtains round about the soul. 1 Cor 2:14.

(2) A natural man is under the darkness of pollution. Hence sinful actions are called "works of darkness." Romans 13:12. Pride and lust darken the glory of the soul. A sinner's heart is a dark conclave, which looks blacker than hell.

(3) A natural man is under the darkness of misery; he is exposed to divine vengeance; and the sadness of this darkness is, that men are not sensible of it. They are blind—yet they think they see. The darkness of Egypt was such thick darkness as "might be felt." Exod 10:21. Men by nature are in thick darkness. But here is the misery—the darkness cannot be felt! They will not believe they are in the dark—until they are past recovery!

Use 1. See what the state of nature is! It is a "kingdom of darkness," and it is a bewitching darkness. "Men loved darkness rather than light;" as the Athlantes in Ethiopia curse the sun. John 3:19. Darkness of sin leads to "chains under darkness." Jude 6. What comfort can such take in earthly things? The Egyptians might have food, gold, silver; but they could take but little comfort in them, while they were in such darkness as might be felt; so the natural man may have riches and friends to delight in—yet he is in the kingdom of darkness, and how dead are all these comforts! You who are in the kingdom of darkness—do not know where you are going. As the ox is driven to the shambles—but knows not where he is going; so the devil is driving you before him to hell—but you know not where you are going! Should you die in your natural state, while you are in the kingdom of darkness, blackness of darkness is reserved for you! "To whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever!" Jude 13.

Use 2. Let us pray that God will bring us out of this kingdom of darkness. God's kingdom of grace cannot come into our hearts—until we are brought out of the kingdom of darkness. Col 1:13. Why should not we strive to get out of this kingdom of darkness? Who would desire to stay in a dark dungeon? O fear the chains of darkness. Jude 6. These chains are God's power, binding men as in chains under wrath forever. O pray that God would deliver you out of the kingdom of darkness!

(1) Be sensible of your dark, damned estate—that you have not one spark of fire to give you light! (2) Go to Christ to enlighten you! "Christ shall give you light;" he will not only bring your light to you—but open your eyes to see it. Eph 5:14. That is the first thing implied, "Your kingdom come;" we pray that we may be brought out of the kingdom of darkness.

II. The second thing implied is "Your kingdom come," is that we pray against the devil's kingdom
; that his kingdom may be demolished in the world. His kingdom stands in opposition to Christ's kingdom; and when we pray, "Your kingdom come," we pray against Satan's kingdom. He has a kingdom: "The prince of this world." John 16:11. He got it by conquest: he conquered mankind in paradise. He has his throne. "You dwell where Satan's throne is." Rev 2:13. His throne is set up in the hearts of men; he does not care for their purses—but their hearts. He is served upon the knee. Eph 2:2. "They worshiped the dragon," that is, the devil. Rev 13:4. Satan's empire is very large. Most kingdoms in the world pay tribute to him. His kingdom has two qualifications or characters: [1] It is regnum nequitiae—a kingdom of impiety. [2] It is regnum servitutis—a kingdom of slavery.

[1] The kingdom of Satan is a kingdom of IMPIETY. Nothing but sin goes on in his kingdom. Murder and heresy, lust and treachery, oppression and division—are the constant trade driven in his dominions. He is called "the unclean spirit." Luke 11:24. What else is propagated in his kingdom, but a mystery of iniquity?

[2] Satan's kingdom is a kingdom of SLAVERY. He makes all his subjects slaves. The sinner is held captive under the grim tyranny of the devil! Satan is a usurper and a tyrant; he is a worse tyrant than any other!

(1) Other tyrants do but rule over the body—but Satan's kingdom rules over the soul! He rides some men—as we do upon horses.

(2) Other tyrants have some pity on their slaves. Though they make them work in the galleys—yet they give them food, and let them have their hours for rest. But Satan is a merciless tyrant, who gives his slaves poison instead of food, and hurtful lusts to feed on. 1 Tim 6:9. Nor will he let his slaves have any rest: he wearies them out to do his drudgery. "They weary themselves to commit iniquity." Jer 9:5.

When the devil had entered into Judas, he sent him to the high priests, and from thence to the garden, and never let him rest until he had betrayed Christ and hanged himself. Thus he is the worst of tyrants. When men have served him to their utmost strength, he welcomes them to hell with fire and brimstone!

Use. Let us pray that Satan's kingdom, set up in the world, may be overthrown. It is sad to think that, though the devil's kingdom be so bad—yet that it should have so many to support it. He has more to stand up for his kingdom than Christ has for his. What a large harvest of souls has Satan! and God only a few gleanings. The Pope and the Turk give the power to Satan. If in God's visible church, the devil has so many loyal subjects that serve him with their lives and souls, how do his subjects swarm in places of idolatry and paganism, where there is none to oppose him—but all vote on the devil's side!

Men are willing slaves to Satan; they will fight and die for him; therefore he is not only called "the prince of this world," but "the god of this world" (John 12:31; 2 Cor 4:4), to show what power he has over men's souls. O let us pray that God would break the scepter of the devil's kingdom; that Michael may destroy the dragon; that the hellish kingdom of the prince of darkness may be beaten down! Satan's kingdom must be thrown down before Christ's kingdom can flourish in its power and majesty. "Then they may come to their senses and escape the Devil's trap, having been captured by him to do his will." 2 Timothy 2:26

When we pray, "Your kingdom come," something is positively intended.


III. We pray that the kingdom of GRACE may be set up in our hearts.

When we pray, "May Your kingdom come," we pray that the kingdom of grace may come into our hearts. This is regnum Dei mikron, God's lesser kingdom. "The kingdom of God is not eating and drinking—but righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit." Romans 14:17. "The kingdom of God is within you." Luke 17:21.

Why is grace called a kingdom?

Because, when grace comes, there is a kingly government set up in the soul. Grace rules the will and affections, and brings the whole man in subjection to Christ; it kings it in the soul, sways the scepter, subdues mutinous lusts, and keeps the soul in a spiritual decorum.

Why is there such need to pray that this kingdom of grace may come into our hearts?

(1) Because, until the kingdom of grace comes, we have no right to the covenant of grace. The covenant of grace is sweetened with love, bespangled with promises; it is our Magna Charta, by virtue of which God passes himself over to us to be our God. Who are heirs of the covenant of grace? Only such as have the kingdom of grace in their hearts. "A new heart will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you." Ezek 36:26. Here the kingdom of grace is set up in the soul; it then follows, "I will be your God", 36:28. The covenant of grace is to an ungracious person—as a sealed fountain; it is kept as a paradise with a flaming sword, that the sinner may not touch it. Without grace, you have no more right to it, than a farmer to the city-charter.

(2) Unless the kingdom of grace is set up in our hearts, our purest offerings are defiled. They may be good as to the matter—but not as to the manner; they lack that which should meliorate and sweeten them. Under the law, if a man who was unclean by touching a dead body, carried a piece of holy flesh in his skirt, the holy flesh could not cleanse him—but he polluted it. Hag 2:12. Until the kingdom of grace be in our hearts, ordinances do not purify us—but we pollute them. Even the prayer of an ungracious person is sin. "The Lord hates the sacrifice of the wicked" Proverbs 15:8. In what a sad condition is a man before God's kingdom of grace is set up in his heart! Whether he comes or comes not to the ordinance, he sins. If he does not come to the ordinance, he is a despiser of it; if he does come, he is a polluter of it. A sinner's works are opera mortua, dead works; and those works which are dead, cannot please God. A dead flower has no sweetness. Heb 11:6.

(3) We had need pray that the kingdom of grace may come, because until this kingdom come into our hearts, we are loathsome in God's eyes. "My soul loathed them." Zech 11:8. How great is the foulness of a corrupt mind! A heart void of grace looks blacker than hell. Sin transforms man into a devil. "Have I not chosen you twelve—and one of you is a devil?" John 6:70. Envy is the devil's eye, hypocrisy is his cloven foot. Thus it is before the kingdom of grace come. So deformed is a graceless person, that when once he sees his own filth and leprosy, the first thing he does is to loathe himself. "You shall loathe yourself in your own sight for all your evils." Ezek 20:43. I have read of a woman who always used flattering mirrors, and who, by chance, seeing her face in a true mirror, in insaniam delapsa est, she ran mad. When once God gives those who now dress themselves by the flattering mirror of presumption, a sight of their own filthiness, they will abhor themselves. "You shall loathe yourselves in your own sight for all your evils."

(4) Before the kingdom of grace comes unto us we are spiritually illegitimate, of the bastard brood of the old serpent. "You are the children of your father the Devil!" John 8:44. To be illegitimate is the greatest infamy. "A bastard shall not enter into the congregation of the Lord even to his tenth generation." Deut 23:2. He was to be kept out of the holy assemblies of Israel as an infamous creature. A bastard by law cannot inherit. Before the kingdom of grace comes into the heart, a person is to God as illegitimate, and so continuing he cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven.

(5) Before the kingdom of grace be set up in men's hearts, the kingdom of Satan is set up in them. They are said to be under "the power of Satan." Acts 26:18. Satan commands the will; though he cannot force the will, by his subtle temptations he can draw it. He is said to take men captive "at his will." 2 Tim 2:26. The Greek word signifies to take them alive as the fowler does the bird in the snare. The sinner's heart is the devil's mansion-house. "I will return into my house." Matthew 12:44. The sinner's heart is Satan's workshop, where he works. "Satan, the mighty prince of the power of the air, who now works in the children of disobedience." Eph 2:2. The members of the body are the tools with which Satan works. He possesses men. In Christ's time many had their bodies possessed—but it is far worse to have the souls possessed. One is possessed with an impure devil, another with a revengeful devil, another with a covetousness devil, etc. No wonder the ship goes full sail when the wind blows; no wonder men go full sail in sin when the devil, the prince of the air, blows them. Thus, until the kingdom of grace comes—men are under the power of Satan, who, like Draco, writes all his laws in blood.

(6) Until the kingdom of grace comes, a man is exposed to the wrath of God. "Who knows the power of your anger?" Psalm 90:11. If when but a spark of God's wrath flies into a man's conscience in this life it is so terrible, what will it be when God stirs up all his anger? So inconceivably torturing is God's wrath, that the wicked call to the rocks and mountains to fall on them and hide them from it. Rev 6:16. The hellish torments are compared to a fiery lake. Rev 20:15. Other fire is but painted fire—in comparison with this! This lake of fire burns forever. Mark 9:44. God's breath kindles this fire. Isaiah 30:33. Where shall we find buckets to quench it? Time will not finish it; tears will not quench it. To this fiery lake men are doomed, until the kingdom of grace is set up in them.

(7) Until the kingdom of grace comes, men cannot die with comfort. He only who takes Christ in the arms of his faith can look death in the face with joy. It is sad to have the king of terrors in the body—and not the kingdom of grace in the soul. It is a wonder every graceless person does not die crazy. What will a grace-despiser do—when death comes to arrest him? Hell follows death. "Behold, a pale horse, and his name that sat on him was death, and hell followed with him." Rev 6:8. Thus you see what need we have to pray that the kingdom of grace may come. Of him that dies without Christ I may say, "It had been good for that man if he had not been born." Matthew 26:24. Few believe the necessity of having the kingdom of grace set up in their hearts, as appears by this, that they are well content to live without it. Does that man believe the necessity of pardon, who is content to be without it? Most people, if they may have trading, and may sit quietly under their vine and fig-trees, are in their kingdom, though they have not the kingdom of God within them. If the candle of prosperity shine upon their head, they care not whether the grace of God shines in their hearts. Do these men believe the necessity of grace? Were they convinced how needful it is to have the kingdom of God within them—they would cry out as the jailor, "What must I do to be saved?" Acts 16:30.

How may we know that the kingdom of grace is set up in our hearts?

It concerns us to examine this, for our salvation depends upon it, and we had need be cautious in the search, because there is something which looks like grace, which is not. "If a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself." Gal 6:3. Many think they have the kingdom of grace come into their heart, and it is only a chimera, a golden dream. "How many with vain hope go down to hell!" Augustine. Zeuxis painted grapes so lively—that he deceived the living birds. There are many deceits about grace.

(1) Men think they have the kingdom of grace in their hearts because they have the means of grace. They live where the silver trumpet of the gospel sounds, they are lifted up to heaven with ordinances. "I have a Levite for my priest," surely I shall go to heaven. Judges 17:13. The Jews cried, "The temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord are we." Jer 7:4. We are apt to glory in this, that the oracles of God are committed to us, that we have the Word and sacrament. Alas! this is a fallacy; we may have the means of grace, and yet the kingdom of grace may not be set up in our hearts. We may have the kingdom of God come near us—but not into us. We may have the sound of the Word in our ears—but not the savor of it in our hearts. Luke 11:20. Many of the Jews, who had Christ for their preacher, were not the better for it. Hot clothes will not put warmth into a dead man. You may have hot clothes, warn and lively preaching, and yet be spiritually dead. "The children of the kingdom shall be cast out." Matthew 8:12.

(2) Men think they have the kingdom of grace set up in their hearts, because they have some common works of the Spirit.

[1] They may have great enlightening of mind, profound knowledge, and almost speak like angels dropped from heaven. But the apostle supposes a case in which, after men have been enlightened, they may fall away. Heb. 6:4, 5, 6.

But wherein does this illumination come short?

The illumination of hypocrites is not powerful and effective—it does not leave an impression of holiness behind; it is like weak physic that will not work. The mind is enlightened—but the heart is not renewed. A Christian professor who is all head—but no feet, does not walk in the ways of God.

[2] Men have had convictions and stirrings of conscience for sin, they have seen the evil of their ways, and now hope the kingdom of grace is come; but though convictions are a step towards grace, they are not grace. Had not Pharaoh and Judas convictions? Exod 10:16.

What makes convictions prove abortive? Wherein do they fail?

They are not deep enough. A sinner never saw himself lost without Christ. The seed which lacked depth of earth, withered. Matthew 13:5. These convictions are like blossoms blown off before they come to maturity. They are also involuntary. The sinner does what he can to stifle them; he drowns them in wine and mirth; he labors to get rid of them. As the deer when shot runs and shakes out the arrow, so does he the arrow of conviction; or as the prisoner files off his fetters, and breaks loose, so he breaks loose from convictions. His corruptions are stronger than his convictions.

[3] Men have had some kind of humiliation, and have shed tears for their sins, and therefore hope the kingdom of grace is come into their hearts. But this is no infallible sign of grace. Saul wept; Ahab humbled himself.

Why is humiliation not a grace? Wherein does it come short of it?

Tears in the wicked do not spring from love to God—but are forced by affliction, as water that drops from distillation is forced by the fire. Gen 4:13. The tears of sinners are forced by God's fiery judgments. They are deceitful tears. Men weep—yet go on in sin; they do not drown their sins in their tears.

[4] Men have begun some reformation, therefore now they surely think that the kingdom of grace is come! But there may be deceit in this. A man may leave his oaths and drunkenness, and still be in love with sin. He may leave his sin—out of fear of hell, or because it brings shame and poverty—but still his heart goes after it, "They set their heart on their iniquity" (Hos 4:8); as Lot's wife left Sodom—but still her heart was in Sodom. Hypocrites are like the snake which casts off her skin—but keeps her poison. They keep the love of sin, as one who has long been an unsuccessful suitor to another—yet still he has a hankering love to her. It may be a partial reformation. He may leave off one sin and live in another. He may refrain from drunkenness—and live in covetousness. He may refrain from swearing—and live in the sin of slandering. One devil may be cast out—and another as bad may come in its place! A man may forsake gross sins—but have no reluctance against heart sins—such as proud, lustful thoughts. Though he dams up the stream, he lets the fountain alone.

Oh, therefore, if there is so many deceits, and men may think the kingdom of heaven is come into their hearts when it is not, how careful and critical had we need be in our search whether we have it really in our hearts! If a man is deceived in the title of his land, it is but the loss of his estate; but if he is deceived about his grace, it is the loss of his soul!

How may we positively know, that the kingdom of grace is set up in us?

In general, by having a metamorphosis or change wrought in the soul, which is called the "new creation." 2 Cor 5:17. The faculties are not new—but there is a new nature; as the strings of a lute are the same—but the tune is altered. When the kingdom of grace is set up, there is light in the mind, order in the affections, pliableness in the will, tenderness in the conscience. Those who can find no such change of heart, and are the same as they were--as vain, as earthly, as unclean as ever--have no sign of God's kingdom of grace in them.

More particularly we may know the kingdom of grace is set up in our hearts.

(1) By having TRUE DESIRES AFTER GOD, which is the smoking flax that Christ will not quench. A true desire of grace is grace: by the beating of this pulse we conclude there is life. "O Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of your servants who desire to fear your name." Neh 1:11. But may not a hypocrite have good desires? "Let me die the death of the righteous." Num 23:10. True desires after God, evidence the kingdom of God within a man.

How may these true desires be known?

A true desire after God is sincere. We desire God for himself, for his intrinsic excellencies. The savor of the ointment of Christ's graces draws the virgins' desires after him. Canticles 1:3. A true saint desires him not only for what he has—but for what he is; not only for his rewards—but for his holiness. No hypocrite can thus desire God; he may desire him for his jewels—but not for his beauty.

A true desire after God is insatiable. It cannot be satisfied without God; let the world heap her honors and riches, they will not satisfy. No flowers or music will content him who is thirsty; so nothing will quench the soul's thirst—but the blood of Christ! He faints away, his heart breaks with longing for God. Psalm 84:2; Psalm 119:20.

A true desire after God is active; it flourishes into endeavor. "With my soul have I desired you in the night; yes, with my spirit within me will I seek you early." Isaiah 26:9. A soul that desires aright says, "I must have Christ; I must have grace; I will have heaven, though I take it by storm." He who desires water will let down the bucket into the well to draw it up.

A true desire after God is supreme. We desire Christ, not only more than the world—but more than heaven. "Whom have I in heaven but you?" Psalm 73:25. Heaven itself would not satisfy—without Christ. Christ is the diamond in the ring of glory! If God should say to the soul, I will put you into heaven—but I will hide my face from you, I will draw a curtain between us, that you shall not behold my glory; the soul would not be satisfied—but say, as Absalom, "I want to see the king's face!" 2 Samuel 14:32.

A true desire after God is increasing. It increases as the sun in the horizon. A little of God will not satisfy—but the pious soul desires still more. A drop of water is not enough for the thirsty traveler. Though a Christian is thankful for the least degree of grace—yet he is not satisfied with the greatest; he still thirsts for more of Christ, and his Spirit. A saint would have more knowledge, more sanctity, more of Christ's presence. A glimpse of Christ through the lattice of an ordinance is sweet; but the soul will never stop longing—until it sees him face to face. It desires to have grace perfected in glory. It desires to be wholly plunged into the sweetness of God. We would be swallowed up in God, and be ever bathing ourselves in those perfumed waters of pleasure which run at his right hand forever. Surely this sincere desire after God is a blessed sign that the kingdom of grace is come into our hearts. The beating of this pulse shows life! "Desires for God—are from God." Augustine. If iron moves upwards contrary to its nature, it is a sign some loadstone has been there drawing it. Just so, if the soul move towards God in sincere desires—it is a sign the loadstone of the Spirit has been drawing it!

(2) We may know the kingdom of grace has come into our hearts by having the princely grace of FAITH. "Faith is the most sacred jewel of the human heart." Gemma. Faith cuts us off from the wild olive tree of nature—and ingrafts us into Christ. Faith is the vital artery of the soul. "The just shall live by faith." Heb 10:38. Faith makes a holy adventure on Christ's merits. As a princely grace—it reigns in the soul, when the kingdom of God is come unto us. The Hebrew word for faith, signifies to nourish; faith nourishes the soul, and is the nurse of all the graces. But, who will not say he is a believer? Simon Magus believed—yet was in the gall of bitterness. Acts 8:13, 23. The hypocrite can put on faith's mantle, as the devil did Samuel's.

How shall we know therefore that our faith is sound, that it is the faith of the operation of God, and that the kingdom of God is within us?

True faith is wrought by the ministry of the Word. "Faith comes by hearing." Romans 10:17. Peter let down the net of his ministry, and at one draught caught three thousand souls. Let us examine how our faith was wrought. Did God in the ministry of the Word humble us? Did he break up the fallow ground of our heart, and then cast in the seed of faith? A good sign; but, if you know not how you came by your faith, suspect yourselves; as we suspect men to have stolen goods, when they know not how they came by them.

True faith is at first small, like a grain of mustard-seed; it is full of doubts and fears; it is smoking flax: it smokes with desire—but does not flame with comfort. It is so small that a Christian can hardly discern whether he has faith or not.

True faith is long in working—it does not come about in a moment. It costs many searchings of heart, many prayers and tears; there is a spiritual combat. The soul suffers many sore pangs of humiliation before the child of faith is born. To those whose faith is in one leap, who leap out of sin into a confidence that Christ is theirs, we may say, as Isaac concerning his son's venison, "How is it that you have found it so quickly?" Gen 27:20. How is it that you came by your faith so soon? The seed in the parable which sprung up suddenly, withered. Mark 4:5, 6. [Things which grow too quickly—have a way of suddenly wilting].

True faith is joined with sanctity. As a little musk sweetens, so a little faith purifies. "Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience." 1 Tim 3:9. Though faith does but touch Christ, it fetches a healing virtue from him. Justifying faith does that in a spiritual sense which miraculous faith does—it removes the mountains of sin, and casts them into the sea of Christ's blood!

True faith will trust God, even in times of trial. Though a Christian is cut short in provisions — though the fig-tree does not blossom — yet he will trust in God. Faith fears not famine. God has given us his promise as his bond. "Truly you shall be fed." Psalm 37:3. Faith puts this bond in suit, that God will rather work a miracle—than his promise shall fail. He has cause to suspect his faith, who says, he trusts God for the greater—but dares not trust him for the less: he trusts God for salvation—but dares not trust him for daily bread.

True faith is prolific. It brings forth fruit; it has Rachel's beauty and Leah's fruitfulness. Faith is full of good works. It believes as if it did not work—and it works as if it did not believe. Faith is the spouse-like grace which marries Christ—and good works are the children which it bears. By having such faith we may know the kingdom of God is within us; that grace is certainly in our hearts.

(3) We may know that the kingdom of grace has come into our hearts by having the grace of LOVE. Faith and love are the two hinges, on which all true religion turns. "The upright love you." Canticles 1:4.

True love to love God is out of choice. It turns the soul into a seraphim; it makes it burn in a flame of affection; it is the truest touchstone of sincerity. Love is the queen of the graces; it commands the whole soul. "Christ's love compels us." 2 Corinthians 5:14. If our love to God is genuine, we let him have the supremacy of our love; we set him in the highest place of our soul; we give him the purest of our love. "I would give you spiced wine to drink, my sweet pomegranate wine." Canticles 8:2. If the spouse had anything better—a cup more juicy and spiced—Christ would drink of that. We give the creature the milk of our love; but God gets the cream!

In short, if we love God aright, we love his laws. We also love his picture drawn in the saints, by the pencil of the Holy Spirit. We also love his presence in his ordinances. Sleidan says, that the Protestants in France had a church which they call paradise; as if they thought themselves in paradise while they had God's presence in his sanctuary. The soul that loves God, loves his appearing. 2 Tim 4:8. It will be a glorious appearing to the saints, when their union with Christ shall be complete; then their joy shall be full. The bride longs for the marriage day. "The Spirit and the bride say, Come! Even so, come, Lord Jesus." Rev 22:17, 20. By this sacred love we may know the kingdom of God is within us.

(4) We may know the kingdom of grace is come into our hearts—if our duties are spiritualized. "You are a holy priesthood to offer up spiritual sacrifices." 1 Peter 2:5 Spiritualizing duty consists in three things:

[1] Fixedness of mind. We spiritualize duty when our minds are fixed on God. "That you may attend on the Lord without distraction." 1 Cor 7:35. Though impertinent thoughts sometimes come into the heart in duty, they are not allowed. Psalm 119:113. They come as unwelcome guests, which are no sooner spied but they are turned out.

[2] Fervency of devotion. "Fervent in spirit, serving the Lord." Romans 12:11. The allusion is to water that seethes and boils over; so the affections boil over, the eyes melt in tears, and the heart flows in holy ejaculations. We not only bring our offering to God—but our hearts.

[3] Uprightness of aim. A man whose heart is upright—has three ends in duty:

First, that he may grow more like God. Moses on the mount had some of God's glory reflected on him: "his face shined."

Secondly, that he may have more communion with God. "Our fellowship is with the Father." 1 John 1:3.

Thirdly, that he may bring more glory to God. 1 Peter 4:11 "That Christ shall be magnified." Phil 1:20. Sincerity aims at God in all things. Though we shoot short—yet we take a right aim, which is a sure evidence of grace. The spirits of wine are best, so is the spiritual part of duty. A little spiritualness in duty—is better than all the gildings of the temple, or outward pompous worship which dazzles carnal eyes.

(5) We may know the kingdom of grace has come into us—by antipathy and opposition against every known SIN. "I hate every false way." Psalm 119:104. Hatred is against all sin. Hatred is implacable; anger may be reconciled, hatred cannot. A gracious soul not only forsakes sin (as a man forsakes his country, never to return to it more)—but hates sin. As there is an antipathy between the crocodile and the scorpion, so, if the kingdom of God be within us, we not only hate sin for hell—but we hate it as hell, as being contrary to God's holiness and happiness.

(6) We may know the kingdom of grace grace has come into us--when we have given up ourselves to God by OBEDIENCE. As a servant gives up himself to his master, as a wife gives up herself to her husband—so we give up ourselves to God by obedience. This obedience is free—as that is the sweetest honey which drops from the honeycomb. This obedience is uniform. We obey God in one thing—as well as another. "Then shall I not be ashamed;" or, as it is in the Hebrew, I shall not blush "when I have respect unto all your commandments." Psalm 119:6. As a compass has one end upon the center and the other goes round the circle; so a Christian, by faith, stands on God the center, and by obedience goes round the circle of his commandments.

It is a sign that the kingdom of grace has come into the heart, when it reigns there by universal obedience. Hypocrites would have Christ to be their Savior—but they pluck the crown from his head—and will not have him rule. But he who has the kingdom of God within him, submits cheerfully to every command of God; he will do what God will have him do; he will be what God will have him be. He puts a blank paper into God's hand, and says, "Lord, write what you will, I will obey."

Blessed is he who can find all these things in his soul. He is "all glorious within." Psalm 45:13. He carries a kingdom about him—and this kingdom of grace will certainly bring to a kingdom of glory.

I shall now answer some doubts and objections that a Christian may make against himself

I fear the kingdom of grace is not yet come into my heart.

When a Christian is under temptation, or grace lies dormant—he is not fit to be his own judge; but must take the witness of others who have the spirit of discerning. But let us hear a Christian's objections against himself, why he thinks the kingdom of grace is not yet come into his heart.

I cannot discern grace.

A child of God may have the kingdom of grace in his heart, and yet not know it. The cup was in Benjamin's sack, though he did not know it was there; so you may have faith in your heart, the cup may be in your sack, though you know it not. Old Jacob wept for his son Joseph, when Joseph was alive; so you may weep for lack of grace, when grace may be alive in your heart. The seed may be in the ground, when we do not see it spring up; so the seed of God may be sown in your heart, though you do not perceive it springing up. Think not grace is lost—because it is hidden.

"Before the kingdom of grace comes into the heart, there must be some preparation for it; the fallow ground must be broken up. But I fear the plough of the law has not gone deep enough. I have not been humbled enough; therefore I have no grace."

God does not prescribe an exact proportion of sorrow and humiliation; Scripture mentions the reality of godly sorrow—but not the extent. Some are more flagitous sinners than others, and must have a greater degree of humiliation. A knotty piece of timber requires more wedges to be driven into it. Some stomachs are sicker than others, therefore need stronger medicine.

But would you know when you have been humbled enough for sin? When you are willing to let go your sins. The gold has lain long enough in the furnace—when the dross is purged out; so, when the love of sin is purged out, a soul is humbled enough for divine acceptance, though not for divine satisfaction. Now, if you are humbled enough, what needs more? If a needle will let out the abscess, the lance is not needed. Be not more cruel to yourself than God would have you.

"If the kingdom of God were within me, it would be a kingdom of power; it would enable me to serve God with vigor of soul. But I have a spirit of in infirmity upon me, I am weak and impotent, and untuned to every holy action."

There is a great difference between the weakness of grace and the lack of grace. A man may have life, though he is sick and weak. Weak grace is not to be despised—but nourished. Christ will not break the bruised reed. Do not argue from the weakness of grace—to the absence of grace.

(1) Weak grace will give us a title to Christ—as well as strong grace. A weak hand of faith will receive the rich alms of Christ's merits.

(2) Weak faith is capable of growth. The plant springs up by degrees, first the blade, and then the ear, and then the full corn in the ear. The faith that is strongest—was once in its infancy. Grace is like the waters of the sanctuary, which rose higher and higher. Be not discouraged at your weak faith; though it be but blossoming, it will by degrees come to more maturity.

(3) The weakest grace shall persevere—as well as the strongest. A child was as safe in the ark, as Noah. An infant believer that is but newly laid to the breast of the promise, is as safe in Christ as the most eminent heroic saint.

"But I fear the kingdom of grace is not yet come, because I find the kingdom of sin so strong in me. Had I faith, it would purify my heart; but I find much pride, worldliness, and passion."

The best of saints have remainders of corruption. "They had their dominion taken away—yet their lives were prolonged for a season." Dan 7:12. So in the regenerate, though the dominion of sin is taken away—yet the life of sin is prolonged for a season. What pride was there in Christ's own disciples, when they strove who should be greatest! The life of sin will not be quite stopped until death. The Lord is pleased to let the in-dwelling of sin continue—to humble his people, and make them prize Christ more. Because you find corruptions stirring, do not therefore presently unsaint yourselves, and deny the kingdom of grace to be come into your souls. That you feel sin is an evidence of spiritual life; that you mourn for it is a fruit of love to God; that you have a combat with sin, argues antipathy against it. Those sins which you once wore as a crown on your head, are now as fetters on the leg. Is not all this from the Spirit of grace in you? Sin is in you, as poison in the body, which you are sick of, and use all Scripture antidotes to expel. Should we condemn all those who have indwelling sin, nay, who have had sin sometimes prevailing, we would blot some of the best saints out of the Bible.

"Where the kingdom of grace comes, it softens the heart; but I find my heart frozen and congealed into hardness; I can hardly squeeze out one tear. Do flowers grow on a rock? Can there be any grace in such a rocky heart?"

There may be grief—where there are no tears. The best sorrow, is rational. If in your judgment, you esteem sin to be the most dreadful evil—you have a disgust against it which is a rational sorrow, and such as God will accept. A Christian may have some hardness in his heart, and yet not have a hard heart. A field may have tares in it, and we call it a field of wheat. Just so, in the best heart there may be a mixture of hardness—yet because there is some softness and melting, God looks upon it as a soft heart. Therefore, Christian, dispute not against yourself, if you can find but this one thing, that the frame and temper of your soul be holy. Are you still breathing after God, delighting in him? Is the complexion of your soul heavenly? Can you say, as David, "When I awake, I am still with you"? Psalm 139:18. As colors laid in oil, or a statue carved in gold abide—so does a holy person; the soul is still pointing towards God. If it is thus with you, assure yourself, that the kingdom of grace is come into the soul. Be not unkind to God, to deny any work of his Spirit, which he has wrought in you.

Use 1. For exhortation. Labor to find that this kingdom of grace is set up in your hearts. While others aspire after earthly kingdoms, labor to have the kingdom of God within you. Luke 17:21. The kingdom of grace must come into us before we can go into the kingdom of glory. The motives to this are:

(1) The kingdom of God within—is our spiritual BEAUTY. The kingdom of grace adorns a person, and sets him off in the eyes of God and of angels. It makes the king's daughter all glorious within. Psalm 45:13. Grace sheds a glory and luster upon the soul. As the diamond to the ring, so is grace to the soul. A heart beautified with grace has the King of heaven's picture hung in it!

(2) The kingdom of grace set up in the heart—is our spiritual DEFENSE. Grace is called "the armor of light." Romans 13:12. It is light for beauty, and armor for defense. He who has the kingdom of grace within him, is "strengthened with all might according to God's glorious power." Col 1:11. He has the shield of faith, the helmet of hope, and the breastplate of righteousness. His armor can never be shot through. He is fortified against the assaults of temptation, and the terrors of hell.

(3) The kingdom of grace set up in the heart—brings PEACE with it. "The kingdom of God is righteousness and peace." Romans 14:17. There is a secret peace proceeding from holiness. Peace is the best blessing of a kingdom. [One peace is better than countless victories.] The kingdom of grace is a kingdom of peace. Grace is the root—peace is the flower which grows out of it. It is 'peace in a storm'—such peace that no worldly affliction can shake. The doors of Solomon's temple were made of olive tree, carved with open flowers; so in a gracious heart is the olive of peace, and the open flowers of joy. 1 Kings 6:32.

(4) The kingdom of grace—ENRICHES the soul. A kingdom has its riches. A believer is said to be rich in faith. James 2:5. How rich is he who has God for his God, who is heir to all the promises! Heb 6:17. A man may be rich in bills and bonds—but a believer may say as Peter, "Silver and gold have I none (Acts 3:6); yet I am rich in bills and bonds, an heir to all God's promises;" and to be heir to the promises, is better than to be heir to the crown.

(5) When the kingdom of grace comes—it fixes and ESTABLISHES the heart. "O God, my heart is fixed." Psalm 57:7. Before the kingdom of grace comes, the heart is very unfixed and unsettled; like a ship without ballast. But when the kingdom of grace comes, it fixes the heart on God; and when the heart is fixed, it rests quiet as in its center.

(6) This kingdom of grace is DISTINGUISHING. It is a sure pledge of God's love. God may give kingdoms in anger; but wherever the kingdom of grace is set up, it is in love. He cannot give grace in anger. The crown always goes with the kingdom; let us therefore be ambitious of this kingdom of grace.

What must we do to obtain this kingdom?

(1) In general, take pains for it. We cannot have the world without labor, and do we think to have grace? "If you Seek her as silver." Proverbs 2:4. A man may as well expect a crop without sowing, as grace without labor. We must not think to have grace as Israel had manna; who did not plough nor sow—but it was rained down from heaven upon them. No, we must operam dare, take pains for grace. Our salvation cost Christ blood, and will cost us sweat.

(2) Let us go to God to set up this kingdom of grace in our hearts. He is called the "God of all grace." 1 Peter 5:10. Say, Lord, I lack this kingdom of grace, I lack a humble, believing heart. O enrich me with grace; let your kingdom come. Be importunate suitors. As Achsah said to her father Caleb, "You have given me a south land, give me also springs of water;" so, Lord, you have given me enough of the world, here is a south land; but Lord, give me the upper springs of grace; let your kingdom come. Josh 15:19. What is the venison you have given me, without the blessing? When we are importunate with God, and will take no denial, he will set up his kingdom within us.

(3) Keep close to the Word preached. The Word preached, is virga virtutis, the rod of God's strength; it is the great engine he uses for setting up the kingdom of grace in the heart. "Faith comes by hearing." Romans 10:17. Though God could work grace immediately by his Spirit, or by the ministry of angels from heaven—yet he chooses to work by the Word preached. This is the usual mean, by which he sets up the kingdom of grace in the heart; and the reason is, because he has put his divine sanction upon it; he has appointed it for the means of working grace, and he will honor his own ordinance. 1 Cor 1:21. What reason could be given why the waters of Damascus should not have as sovereign virtue to heal Naaman's leprosy, as the waters of Jordan—but this, that God appointed and sanctified the waters of Jordan to heal, and not the others? Let us keep the Word preached, because the power of God goes along with it.

Use 2. For thanksgiving. What will you be thankful for—if not for a kingdom! Grace is the best blessing—it is the result and product of God's electing love. In setting up his kingdom of grace, God has done more for you than if he had made you kings and queens; for you are born of God, and of the blood-royal of heaven. Oh! admire and exalt free grace! "Make God's praise glorious." Psalm 66:2. The apostle seldom mentions the work of grace—but he joins praise. "Giving thanks unto the Father, who has made us fit to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light." Col 1:12. If God has crowned you with the kingdom of grace—you crown him with your praises.

IV. We pray that the kingdom of grace may increase, that it may come more into us: and this may answer a question.

Why do we pray, "Your kingdom come," when the kingdom of grace is already come into the soul?

Though the kingdom of grace be already come into us—yet still we must pray, "Your kingdom come," that grace may be increased, and that this kingdom may flourish still more in our souls. Until we come to live among the angels—we shall need to pray this prayer, "Your kingdom come." "Lord, let your kingdom of grace come in more power into my soul; let grace be more augmented and increased."

Question: When does the kingdom of grace increase in the soul? When is it a flourishing kingdom?

1. When a Christian has further degrees of grace—there is more oil in the lamp—his knowledge is clear, his love is more inflamed. Grace is capable of degrees, and may rise higher, as the sun in the horizon. It is not with us as it was with Christ, who received the Spirit without measure. John 3:34. He could not be more holy than he was; but our grace is capable of further degrees; we may have more sanctity, we may add more inches to our spiritual stature.

2. The kingdom of grace increases when a Christian has got more strength than he had. "He who has clean hands, shall be stronger and stronger." Job 17:9. "He shall add to his strength." A Christian has strength to resist temptation, to forgive his enemies, to suffer affliction. It is not easy to suffer; a man must deny himself, before he can take up the cross. The way to heaven is like the way which Jonathan and his armor bearer had in climbing up a steep place. "There was a sharp rock on the one side, and a sharp rock on the other." 1 Sam 14:4. It requires much strength to climb up this rocky way. That grace which will carry us through prosperity, will not carry us through sufferings. The ship needs stronger tackling to carry it through a storm, than a calm. Now, when we are so strong in grace, that we can bear up under affliction without murmuring or fainting, the kingdom of grace is increased. What mighty strength of grace had he, who told the emperor Valentinian, "You may take away my life—but you cannot take away my love to the truth!"

3. The kingdom of grace increases when a Christian has most conflict with spiritual corruptions; when he not only abstains from gross evils—but has a combat with inward, hidden, heart corruptions; such as pride, envy, hypocrisy, vain thoughts, carnal confidence, which are spiritual wickedness, and both defile and disturb. "Let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit." 2 Cor 7:1. There are two sorts of corruptions, one of the flesh, the other of the spirit. When we grieve for and combat with spiritual sin, which is the root of all gross sins, then the kingdom of grace increases, and spreads its territories in the soul.

4. The kingdom of grace flourishes when a Christian has learned to live by FAITH. "I live by faith in the Son of God." Gal 2:20. There is the habit of faith, and the drawing of this habit into exercise. For a Christian to graft his hope of salvation, only upon the stock of Christ's righteousness, and make Christ all in justification; to live on the promises, as a bee on the flower, and suck out the sweetness of them; to trust in God's heart—where we cannot trace his hand; to believe his love through a frown; to persuade ourselves, when he has the face of an enemy, that he has the heart of a Father—when we are arrived at this, the kingdom of grace is flourishing in our souls.

5. It flourishes when a Christian is full of holy ZEAL. Numb 25:13. Phinehas was zealous for his God. Zeal is the flame of the affections, it turns a saint into a seraphim. A zealous Christian is impatient when God is dishonored. Rev 2:2. He will wrestle with difficulties, he will swim to Christ through a sea of blood. Acts 21:13. Zeal loves truth when it is despised and opposed. "They have made void your law, therefore I love your commandments." Psalm 119:126, 127. Zeal resembles the Holy Spirit. "There appeared cloven tongues like as of fire, which sat upon each of them." Acts 2:3. Tongues of fire were an emblem of that fire of zeal which the Spirit poured on them.

6. The kingdom of grace increases when a Christian is as diligent in his particular calling, as he is devout in his general calling. He is the wise Christian, who carries things equally; who so lives by faith—that he lives in a calling. Therefore it is worthy of notice, that when the apostle had exhorted the Thessalonians to increase in grace, he presently adds, "And that you mind your own business, and work with your own hands." 1 Thess 4:10, 11. It is a sign grace is increasing, when Christians go cheerfully about their secular calling.

Indeed, to be all the day in the mount with God, and to have the mind fixed on glory, is more sweet to a man's self, and is a heaven upon earth; but to be conversant in our callings, is more profitable to others. Paul says, "To be with Christ is far better: nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you." Phil 1:23, 24. So, to converse with God in prayer and sweet meditation all the week long, is more for the comfort of a man's own person; but to be sometimes employed in the business of a calling, is more profitable for the family to which he belongs. It is not good to be as the lilies, which toil not, neither do they spin. It shows the increase of grace, when a Christian keeps a due decorum. He joins piety and industry; when zeal runs forth in piety, and diligence is put forth in a calling.

7. The kingdom of grace increases when a Christian is established in the belief and love of the TRUTH. The heart by nature is as a ship without ballast, which wavers and fluctuates. Beza writes of one Bolezius, that his religion changed as the moon. Such as are wandering stars will be falling stars; but when a soul is built on the rock Christ, and no winds of temptation can blow it away, the kingdom of grace flourishes. One calls Athanasius, an invincible adamant, in respect of his stability in the truth. "Rooted and built up in him." Col 2:7. The rooting of a tree evidences growth.

8. The kingdom of grace increases in a man's own heart when he labors to be instrumental to set up this kingdom in others. Though it is the greatest benefit to have grace wrought in ourselves, it is the greatest honor to be instrumental to work it in others. "Of whom I travail in birth again, until Christ is formed in you." Gal 4:19. Such as are masters of a family should endeavor to see the kingdom of grace set up in their servants; such as are godly parents should not let God alone by prayer—until they see grace in their children. What a comfort to be both the natural and spiritual fathers of your children! Augustine says his mother Monica travailed with greater care and pain for his new birth, than his natural birth. It shows the increase of grace when we labor to see the kingdom of grace set up in others. As water abounds in the river, when it overflows and runs into the meadows, so grace increases in the soul when it has influence upon others, and we seek their salvation.

Question: What need is there that the kingdom of grace should be increased?

God's design in keeping up a standing ministry in the church is to increase the kingdom of grace in men's hearts. "He gave gifts unto men;" that is, ministerial gifts. Why so? "For the edifying of the body of Christ." Eph 4:8, 12. Not only for conversion—but for edification; therefore the Word preached is compared not only to seed—but to milk; because God designs our growth in grace.

We need have the kingdom of grace increase, as we have a great deal of work to do, and a little grace will hardly carry us through. A Christian's life is laborious: there are many temptations to resist, many promises to believe, many precepts to obey, so that it will require a great deal of grace. A Christian must not only pray—but "be zealous, and repent" (Rev 3:19); not only love—but be sick with love. Canticles 2:5. What need, therefore, to have the kingdom of grace enlarged in his soul? As his work increases upon him, so his grace need increase.

If the kingdom of grace does not increase, it will decay. "You have left your first love." Rev 2:4. Grace, for lack of increasing, is sometimes like a winter plant, in which all the sap runs to the root, and it looks as if it were dead. "Strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die." Rev 3:2. Though true grace cannot expire, it may wither; and a withering Christian loses much of his beauty and fragrance. What great need have we to pray, "Your kingdom come," that this kingdom of grace may be increased! If grace be not improved, it will soon be impaired. A Christian, for lack of increasing his grace, loses his strength; he is like a sick man who cannot either walk or work; his prayers are sick and weak; he is as if he had no life in him; his faith can hardly fetch breath, and you can scarcely feel the pulse of his love to beat.

To have grace increasing, is suitable to Christianity. Christians are called trees of righteousness. Isaiah 61:3. The saints are not only jewels for sparkling luster—but trees for growth. They are called the lights of the world. Phil 2:15. Light is still increasing. First there is the daybreak, and so it shines brighter, to the full meridian. Those who are the lights of the world must increase until they come to the meridian of glory. Not to grow is suspicious; painted things do not grow.

As the kingdom of grace increases, so a Christian's comforts increase. Comfort belongs to the well-being of a Christian; like sweetfood, it is delicious to the taste. Psalm 94:19. The more grace, the more joy; as the more sap in the root, the more wine in the grape. Who more increased in grace than David? And who more in consolation? "You have put gladness in my heart." Psalm 4:7. Grace turns to joy, as milk to cream.

How may they be comforted who bewail their lack of growth, and weep that they cannot find the kingdom of grace to increase?

To see and bewail our decay in grace, argues not only the life of grace—but growth in grace. It is a sign that a man recovers and gets strength—when he feels his weakness. It is a step forward in grace to see our imperfections. The more the Spirit shines in the heart, the more evil he unveils. A Christian thinks it worse with him than it was, whereas his grace may not grow less—but his light greater.

If a Christian does not increase in one grace, he may in another; if not in knowledge he may in humility. If a tree does not grow so much in the branches, it may grow in the root: and to grow downwards in the root, is good growth.

A Christian may grow less in affection when he grows more in judgement. As the fingers of a musician, when he is old, are stiff, and not so nimble at the lute as they were—but he plays with more art and judgement than before. Just so, a Christian may not have so much affection in duty as at the first conversion—but he is more solid in religion, and more settled in his judgement than he was before.

A Christian may think he does not increase in grace because he does not increase in gifts; whereas there may be a decay of natural parts, the memory and other faculties, when there is not a decay of grace. Gifts may be impaired, when grace is improved. Be not discouraged, it is better to decay in gifts, and be enlarged in grace, than to be enlarged in gifts, and to decay in grace.

A Christian may increase in grace, and not be sensible of it. As seed may grow in the earth, when we do not perceive it to spring up, so grace may grow in time of desertion, and not be perceived.


V. We pray that the kingdom of GLORY may hasten, and that God would in his due time translate us into it. Under this we have now to consider—

[1] What this kingdom of glory is?

[2] What are the properties of it?

[3] Wherein it exceeds all other kingdoms?

[4] When this kingdom comes?

[5] Wherein appears the certainty of it?

[6] Why we should pray for its coming?

[1] What is the kingdom of glory? By this kingdom of glory is meant, that glorious estate which the saints shall enjoy when they shall reign with God and angels forever. If a man stands upon the sea-shore, he cannot see all the dimensions of the sea, its length, breadth, and depth—yet he may see it is of vast extension, so, though the kingdom of heaven is of that incomparable excellence, that neither tongue of man or angels can express—yet we may conceive of it to be an exceeding glorious thing, such as the eye has not seen.

Concerning the kingdom of heaven I shall show what it implies, and what it imports.

First, the kingdom of heaven implies a blessed freedom from all evil.

(1) It implies a freedom from the necessities of nature. We are in this life subject to many necessities; we need food to nourish us, clothes to cover us, armor to defend us, sleep to refresh us. But in the kingdom of heaven there will be no need of these things; and it is better not to need them than to have them; as it is better not to need crutches than to have them. What need will there be of food when our bodies shall be made spiritual? 1 Cor 15:44. Though not spiritual for substance—yet for qualities. What need will there be of clothing when our bodies shall be like Christ's glorious body? What need will there be of armor when there is no enemy? What need will there be of sleep when there is no night? Rev 22:5. The saints shall be freed, in the heavenly kingdom, from these necessities of nature to which they are now exposed.

(2) In the kingdom of heaven—we shall be freed from the imperfections of nature. Since the fall, our knowledge has suffered an eclipse.

Our natural knowledge is imperfect; it is chequered with ignorance. There are many hard knots in nature which we cannot easily untie. He who sees clearest, has a mist before his eyes. Socrates said on his death-bed, that there were many things he had yet to learn. Our ignorance is more than our knowledge.

Our divine knowledge is imperfect. "We know but in part," said Paul, though he had many revelations, and was enrapt up in the third heaven. 1 Cor 13:9. We have but dark conceptions of God. "Can you by searching find out God?" Job 11:7. Our narrow capacities would no more contain God, than a little glass cup would hold all the water in the sea. We cannot unriddle the mystery of the incarnation, the human nature assumed into the person of the Son of God; the human nature not God—yet united with God. We see now in a glass darkly; but in the kingdom of heaven the veil shall be taken off—all imperfection of nature shall be done away. When the sunlight of glory shall begin to shine in the heavenly horizon, all dark shadows of ignorance shall fly away, our lamp of knowledge shall burn brightly, we shall have a full knowledge of God, though we shall not know him fully.

(3) In the kingdom of heaven—we shall be freed from the toilsome labors of this life. God enacted a law in paradise, "in the sweat of your face shall you eat bread." Gen 3:19. There is the labor of the hand in manufacture, and the labor of the mind in study. "All things are full of labor" (Eccl 1:8); but in the kingdom of heaven we shall be freed from our labors.

There needs no labor when a man has got to the haven, he has no more need of sailing. In heaven there needs no labor, because the saints shall have the glory which they labored for.

There shall be no labor. "They rest from their labors." Rev 14:13. As when God had finished the work of creation, he rested from his labors; so, when his saints have finished the work of sanctification, they rest from theirs. Where should there be rest—but in the heavenly center? Not that this sweet rest in the kingdom of heaven excludes all motion, for spirits cannot be idle; but the glorified saints shall rest from all wearisome employment. It will be a labor full of ease, a motion full of delight. The saints in heaven shall love God, and what labor is that? Is it any labor to love beauty? They shall praise God, and that surely is delightful. When the bird sings—it is not so much a labor, as a pleasure.

(4) In the kingdom of heaven—we shall be freed from original corruption, which is the root of all actual sin. There would be no actual sin if there were no original sin; there would be no water in the stream, if there were none in the fountain. Original sin is incorporated into our nature; it is as if the whole mass of blood were corrupted. Thus, to offend the God whom he loves, makes a Christian weary of his life. What would he give to have his chains taken off, to be rid of vain thoughts? How did Paul, that bird of paradise, bemoan himself for his sins! Romans 7:24. We cannot exercise either our duties or our graces, without sin. The soul that is most refined and purified by grace, is not without some dregs of corruption; but in the kingdom of heaven the fountain of original sin shall be quite dried up. What a blessed time will that be, never to grieve God's Spirit any more! In heaven are virgin souls; their beauty is not stained with lust. Nothing enters there, which defiles. Rev 21:27.

(5) In the kingdom of heaven—we shall be freed from all sorrows. "There shall be no more sorrow." Rev 21:4. Our life here is interwoven with trouble. Psalm 31:10. Either losses grieve, or law- suits vex, or unkindness breaks the heart. We may as well separate light from the sun, or weight from lead—as troubles from man's life. "What is long life—but long torment?" Augustine. But, in the kingdom of heaven, sorrow and sighing shall fly away. Here the saints sit by the rivers weeping—but one smile from Christ's face will make them forget all their sufferings. Their water shall then be turned into wine, their mourning into singing!

(6) In the kingdom of heaven—we shall be beyond the reach of temptation. Satan is not yet fully cast into prison; like a prisoner under bail, he walks about tempting, and laboring, to draw us into sin. He is either laying snares, or shooting darts. The devil stands girded for battle. He laid a train of temptations to blow up the castle of Job's faith. It is as great a grief to a believer to be followed with temptations to sin, as for a virgin to have her chastity assaulted. But in the kingdom of heaven the saints shall be freed from the red dragon, who is cast out of paradise, and shall be forever locked up in chains! Jude 6.

(7) In the kingdom of heaven—we shall be freed from all vexing cares. The Greek word for care comes from a word which signifies to cut the heart in pieces. Care tortures the mind, wastes the spirits, and eats out the comfort of life. Care to prevent future dangers, and preserve present comforts—is an evil spirit which haunts us. All care is full of fear, and fear is full of torment. 1 John 4:18. God threatens it as a judgement. "They shall eat their bread with carefulness." Ezek 12:19. Every comfort has its care, as every rose has its thorns; but in the kingdom of heaven we shall shake off the viper of care. What needs a glorified saint to take any anxious care—who has all things provided to his hand? There is the tree of life, bearing all sorts of fruit. When the heart shall be freed from sin—the head shall be freed from care.

(8) In the kingdom of heaven—we shall be freed from all doubts and scruples. In this life, the best saint has his doubting, as the brightest star has his twinkling. If there were no doubting—there would be no unbelief. Assurance itself does not exclude all doubting. "Your loving kindness is before my eyes." Psalm 26:3. At another time, "Lord, where are your former loving-kindnesses?" Psalm 89:49. A Christian is like a ship at anchor, which, though safe, may sometimes be tossed upon the water. Sometimes a Christian questions his interest in Christ, and his title to the promise. As these doubtings eclipse a Christian's comfort, so they bear false witness against the Spirit. But, when the saints shall come into the kingdom of heaven, there shall be no more doubting; the Christian shall then say, as Peter, "Now I know of a surety that the Lord has sent his angel and has delivered me." Acts 12:11. Now I know that I am passed from death to life, and I am got beyond all rocks! I have passed the gulf, now I am in my Savior's embraces forever!

(9) In the kingdom of heaven—we shall be freed from all society with the wicked. Here we are sometimes forced to be in their company. "Woe is me, that I sojourn in Mesech, that I dwell in the tents of Kedar." Psalm 120:5. Kedar was Ishmael's son, whose children dwelt in Arabia; they were a profane, barbarous people. Here the wicked are still raising persecutions against the godly, and crucifying their ears with their oaths and curses. Christ's lily is among thorns; but in the heavenly kingdom there shall be no more any pricking brier. "The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil." Matthew 13:41. As Moses said, "Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord! For the Egyptians whom you have seen today, you shall never see them again forever!" So will God say, "Stand still, and see the salvation of God; these your enemies, that vex and molest you, you shall never see them again forever!" Exod 14:13. At that day, God will separate the precious from the vile; Christ will thoroughly purge his threshing floor; he will gather the wheat into the garner; and the wicked, which are the chaff, shall be blown into hell!

(10) In the kingdom of heaven—we shall be freed from all signs of God's displeasure. Here he may be angry with his people. Though he has the heart of a father, he may have the look of an enemy; and this is sad. As when the sun is gone, the dew falls; so when the light of God's face is gone, tears drop from the saints' eyes. But in the kingdom of heaven, there shall be no spiritual eclipses, there shall never appear any tokens of God's displeasure; the saints shall have a constant aspect of love from him, they shall never complain any more, "My beloved had withdrawn himself." Canticles 5:6.

(11) In the kingdom of heaven—we shall be freed from all divisions. The saddest thing in the world is to see divisions among the godly. It is sad that such as have one faith—should not be of one heart. Ephraim envies Judah, and Judah vexes Ephraim. It is matter of tears, to see those who are united to Christ, divided one from another. The soldier's spear pierced Christ's side—but the divisions of saints wound his heart! But in the kingdom of heaven, there shall be no vilifying one another, nor censuring. Those who before could hardly pray together, shall praise God together. There shall not be one jarring string in the saints' music.

(12) In the kingdom of heaven—we shall be freed from vanity and dissatisfaction. What Job says of wisdom, in chapter 28:14; "The depth says, It is not in me; and the sea says, It is not with me;" I may say concerning satisfaction; every creature says, "It is not in me." Take things most pleasing and from which we promise ourselves most contentment, still, of the spirit and essence of them all—we shall say, "Behold, all was vanity." Eccl 2:11. God never did, nor ever will—put a satisfying virtue into any creature. In the sweetest music the world makes, either some string is lacking, or out of tune. Who would have thought that Haman, who was so great in the king's favor, that he "set his seat above all the princes" of the provinces, for lack of the bowing of a knee, would be dissatisfied? Est 3:1. But in the kingdom of heaven, we shall be freed from these dissatisfactions. The world is like a landscape painting, in which you may see gardens with fruit trees, beautifully drawn—but you cannot enter them; but into the joys of heaven you may enter. "Enter into the joy of your Lord." The soul shall be satisfied while it bathes in those rivers of pleasure at God's right hand. "When I awake, I will be fully satisfied, for I will see you face to face." Psalm 17:15.

(13) In the kingdom of heaven—we shall be freed from the torments of hell. "Jesus, who delivers us from the wrath to come." 1 Thess 1:10.

1. Consider the multiplicity of those torments. In this life, the body is usually exercised but with one pain, the stone or headache, at one time; but in hell there is a diversity of torments; there is darkness to affright, fire to burn, a lake of sulphur to choke, chains to bind, and the worm to gnaw.

2. The torments of hell will seize upon every part of the body and soul. The eye shall be tortured with the sight of devils, and the tongue that has sworn so many oaths, shall be tortured. "Send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue." Luke 16:24. The memory will be tormented to remember the mercies that have been abused, and seasons of grace neglected. The conscience will be tormented with self-accusations.

3. The pains of hell are unmitigated, with no mixture of mercy. In this life, God in anger remembers mercy. Hab 3:2. But in hell there is no alleviation or lessening of the pains. As in the sacrifice of jealousy, God would have no oil or frankincense put into it, so, in hell, there is no oil of mercy to assuage the sufferings of the damned, no incense of prayer to appease his wrath. Numb 5:15.

4. In the pains of hell there is no intermission. The poets feign of Endymion, that he got permission from Jupiter always to sleep. What would the damned in hell give for one hour's sleep! "The smoke of their torment rises forever and ever, and they will have no rest day or night." Rev 14:11. They are perpetually on the rack.

5. There is no expiration in the pains of hell; they must always lie scorching in flames of wrath.

But in the heavenly kingdom, the elect shall be freed from all infernal torments. "Jesus delivered us from the wrath to come." A prison is not made for the king's children. Christ drank that bitter cup of God's wrath—that the saints might never drink it!