The Philadelphia Baptist Association, to the Churches of which it is composed:
DEAR BRETHREN, - We propose to speak to you at this time concerning The Future Triumph of Christ's Kingdom.
This truth, so prominent in the Scriptures, seems to be but slightly entertained; or else, as a practical question, entirely ignored by the great body of professing Christians. . Their faith grasps not those wonderful declarations of Jehovah on this subject, so frequently uttered in the most glowing terms, describing the triumph and glory of Christ's Kingdom in the earth. The day-star of hope shines but dimly in their hearts, and a great life-giving principle, prompting to a useful and vigorous labor, is exceedingly feeble and incompetent.
That there is a yet future glorious triumph for Jesus’ blessed cause, is beyond a question to all those who give unfaltering credence to God's word. Among the many beautiful prophecies of the Bible, our time will allow scarcely more than one quotation from Isaiah: “And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills, and all nations shall flow unto it. And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob, and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths, for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. And he shall judge among the nations and shall rebuke many people, and they shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.” Isaiah ii: 2, 3, 4. This is generally admitted to refer to a time that is yet to come, whatever may have been its primary reference.
Our divine Lord has taught his disciples daily to pray “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven.” Matthew vi:10. This can be no mockery. The Master palpably put this prayer into the mouths of his children, that he might in the future answer it, in wonderfully exalting his beloved people, and in promoting his own glory among the sons of men. In the Apocalypse, John says: “And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand; and he laid hold on the dragon - that old serpent, which is the Devil - and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, and cast him into the bottomless pit and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive
the nations no more till the thousand years should be fulfilled; and after that he must be loosed a little season.” Revelation ii: 1, 2.
This also points to a time, yet in the future, when Satan, that archdeceiver, who plays so potent a part in our mundane affairs, shall be a harmless captive, for at least a thousand years; while Jesus’ dominion shall be extended and cheerfully acknowledged in all the earth. It is true, we can have only a faint idea of the future success, triumph and glory of Christ's Kingdom when the dark clouds of wrath shall be dispersed, and the Sun of Righteousness shall arise with healing in his wings. This, however, is true, the Church of Jesus shall arouse from her slumbers. Glorious things are spoken of thee, O Zion, city of our God! Thy King already crieth - awake, awake, put on thy strength, O Zion, put on thy beautiful garments, O Jerusalem, the holy city, for henceforth there shall no more come unto thee the uncircumcised and the unclean. Thy worldliness, and avarice, and vanity, and unbelief, shall all be purged out of thee, till thou shalt go forth in thy strength, beautiful as Tirzah, comely as Jerusalem, terrible as an army with banners. When God stays His terrible judgments, which now convulse the whole world and shake his church to its very foundations, and dye in blood many fair portions of earth, there probably will follow revivals of religion such as have never been known. Then wickedness hydra-headed and thousand-tongued, shall no longer hurt and destroy, and bring down to death and hell millions of the human race.
The commerce of nations will be conducted on Christian principles' and men with malignant hearts of cupidity will no longer make it their study how to grow rich by crushing the life out of the poor and wretched, and by defrauding one another. There will be no piratical ships scouring the high seas in quest of prey, and old ocean will no longer bear upon her rolling bosom vessels laden with freights of human souls, hurried relentlessly on to the perdition of slavery. There will be no more traffic infamous and diabolic, in human flesh and blood and immortal souls. The shackles of the bondman shall be knocked off, and every captive shall go free. By the immutable promise of him who hath said, As truly as I live all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord, shall the divinely beautiful and potent principles of the gospel of Jesus permeate every rank of society, until every kindred, people and tongue have learned Messiah's name.
How emphatic are those words which our Lord read from the Hebrew Scriptures at a certain time, in a certain synagogue: - “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor, he hath sent me to heal the broken-hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord.” Just as certainly as Jesus Christ has embodied these principles in his gospel, and made their development and success an important part of his mission into this sin smitten world, so certainly will he execute his mission in the development, success and triumph of these principles. All the powers of darkness and perdition cannot delay Jesus' triumph one hour, when God's time has come.
What profiting then shall we have of this?
First - let Christ's people be encouraged, greatly encouraged. What has often quickened and brought back to life the weary heart of the servant of God? He has gone from the pulpit depressed and sad, crying out, Who hath believed our report? He has faithfully and tenderly reasoned with sinners, and warned them, but they have not repented. He has battered away at the barriers of darkness, but they have not yielded. So this thought - I am identified with a work that must succeed, a kingdom that must triumph - has invigorated him, and sent him to his work again with delight and hope. O, child of God, thou shalt never despair with the sweet promise of thy Father in thy heart. There is nothing, perhaps, so chills the heart and benumbs the faith of Christians as the great prevalence of wickedness in the world. Iniquity triumphs in high places; profanity, drunkenness and fraud run riot everywhere. The good man, in contemplating this state of things, is often heart-sick and discouraged, and cries out in the anguish of his soul, When shall these things have an end? Let him remember, the Lord reigneth, and swayeth his sceptre over the bad and the good, and will assuredly bring low the one, even to destruction, while he will exalt the other to honor and victory.
And herein, we take it, is the true ground of our encouragement in behalf of our beloved country. Do we believe that Jesus reigns; that all power is given into his hands in heaven and earth? Do we believe in the gracious truths which fell from his sacred lips? Then we must believe that any system and all systems which can only be sustained by iniquity, cruelty and oppression must go down. It is impossible for us to believe, fully, that the kingdoms of this world shall become the kingdoms of our Lord and his Christ, until we believe that all which hurts and destroys in God's holy mountain is to be removed. Darkness must roll back at the appearance of the Sun; iniquity and lies must yield to the truth at last. Our hearts are often appalled at the fearful sacrifice of blood and treasure which have been poured out to rescue our nation from gory hands, stretched out unto destruction; at the terrible conflict waged for the support of our national honor, and that our beautiful flag may wave untarnished “O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave,” as it never yet has fully waved: yet through all this Christ's glorious work is going on to its consummation and triumph. It is a solemn fact, that should be well pondered by all, that while few conversions, comparatively, have occurred in the churches, in the army thousands have been hopefully converted.
How many brave men in our hospitals have found a treasure dearer far to them than life; and though they may have to return to their homes maimed and crippled for life, after these dreadful days are ended, it is with a light and joyous heart, both on account of the sacrifice they have made for their country, and the precious new life which dwells within them. How many brave men in tent and trench have learned to lisp the name of Jesus, and in after days have fallen on the battle field, and as some servant of God bows in prayer by their side, or some brave comrade administers gently to
their wants, they clasp the word of life - the gift of some loved one at home - to the heart, whisper the name of Jesus, and die.
From a human stand-point we may, perhaps, safely say thousands have found Jesus the way, the truth, and the life, in the army, who would not have found him at home. We may well exclaim with the Apostle, “O! the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!”
Moreover, God solemnly declares, “Rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft,” 1 Samuel xv:23. And you know the sin of witchcraft was punished with death. Now God palpably rocked the cradle of our national liberty with his own careful hand. He has trained up this nation, sometimes by judgments and adversities, generally by mercies and favors, until we have become a great and mighty people. Truth has been scattered, knowledge has advanced, light has broken forth, one error and another have been destroyed, and liberty of conscience has been secured to a great degree. But while light and truth and liberty of conscience are sternly combatting for the advance, the people of a portion of our fair land have arisen with cruel hearts and bloody hands, lifting the finger high toward Heaven, solemnly swearing these shall advance no further, that the poor and miserable and oppressed for whom Jesus died shall still be kept in darkness and bonds! These cruel men, defying God and despising man, have covenanted together in a covenant of blood, to keep down forever Christ's poor and suffering ones in the very lowest dregs of hopeless despair. Can this be anything else than rebellion against God, rebellion of the most inveterate cast - anything else than most daring opposition to the advancement of Christ's kingdom? Must not all this then meet a deserved failure? Must it not fall in a merited repulse and overthrow? Brethren, as the Lord God Almighty liveth, it shall!
Second. In a firm belief that Christ's kingdom shall triumph, we have a powerful motive to duty. Brethren, there is work to be done before the day cometh; steady, hard work. Many will work and wear out and lie down and die, but their mark will be left behind them, contributing to the great onward march of truth. But many, alas! yield and go with the Saviour no more.
O! you can work and toil by day and night to grasp gold and treasure and possessions, but riches take to themselves wings and fly away, and every earthly inheritance is corruptible and defiled. He whose faith is strong in the coming kingdom and glory of Christ, will rather toil for that inheritance which is incorruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth not away. This becomes an inducement to endure and suffer for Christ and his cause. This fires the heart of the good man to preach and pray and praise, to suffer despising and persecution, if need be, to hasten on the coming and kingdom of our triumphant King and Lord.
Finally, let us all be faithful to the trust which our Lord and Master has committed to us. There is nothing that ought to discourage us. The truth is mighty, and shall prevail. The kingdom of our Lord shall come, and His will shall be done in earth as in Heaven.
[From The Philadelphia Baptist Association Minutes, 1864, pp. 29-32. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]
More Pennsylvania Baptist Circulars
Baptist History Homepage