The establishment of this kingdom, was determined before and designed and prepared from, the foundation of the world.
PROPOSITION 2. The establishment of this kingdom, was determined before and designed and prepared from, the foundation of the world.
These two phrases are given in Matt. 25:34; Jno. 17:24; Eph. 1:4; Heb. 4:3; 1 Pet. 1:20; Rev. 13:8, in comparison with other passages. The one may indicate that the Divine purpose relating to the kingdom existed in the mind of the Eternal before the creation of the world; and the other, that the creation itself both evinced His intention to carry out His design (i.e., was preparatory), and that it was in fact, as it existed before the fall and ensuing curse, the prepared sphere of its manifestation.[*]
Note. Comp. Matt. 13:35; Luke 11:50; Rev. 17:8. Whatever application these passages may have to the future kingdom, we cannot rid ourselves of the plainly implied meaning that, in the mind of the Divine Architect and Purposer, the contemplated final use of this world was allied with its origin. Shallow, unbelieving criticism makes itself merry at the idea of “the foundations of the earth,” and present it as a proof that the Bible teaches an untrue form, and hence exhibits ignorance. The forcible figure of speech and the intent are entirely overlooked, for the sake of making an uncritical attack. As to the form, the Bible gave it (Job 26:7) long before science taught it; as to “the foundations,” the general analogy of the Scriptures teach that these are in the creative power, wisdom, love—the attributes—of the Creator “in whom we live, move, and have our being.”
Obs. 1. Hence, we properly infer the dignity of this subject, comprehended in the eternal counsels and evolved from the ever-existing “purpose of Him, which worketh all things after the counsel of His own will.”[*]
Note. King Edward VI.’s Catechism (Bickersteth’s Promised Glory, p. 2), however it may explain it, correctly affirms: “Before the Lord God made heaven and earth. He determined to have for Himself a most beautiful kingdom and holy commonwealth.” Moll (Lange’s Com. Heb., Doc. p. 211) says: “At the very creation of the world God looked forward to and made arrangements for the eternally abiding and unchangeable kingdom of glory; and to the introduction of that kingdom tend all the revelations, arrangements, and providences of God in the history of the world.”
Obs. 2. We also justly infer, that God’s will thus expressed respecting the kingdom indicates a Divine plan, which, in view of His attributes, necessarily embraces unity of design. Therefore, when the kingdom is once defined by the Spirit, no change or modification can possibly be allowed without the most express declarations from God announcing it.
Obs. 3. The idea of the kingdom being thus identified in its connection with eternal purpose and with creation, God will undoubtedly accomplish His revealed will concerning it, confirmed as it is even by oath. God Himself stands pledged to the ultimate realization of this idea.
Obs. 4. The exercise of creative power, and its continued exhibition in behalf of man and the world, clearly shows the Divine determination to establish this kingdom, notwithstanding the antagonistic elements introduced by the fall. All things exist, because God has a determined end in view, which end is embraced in this kingdom.
Obs. 5. This kingdom is one pertaining to the earth. Before the creation of the world, it only existed in the determination or purpose of God, but at creation the very foundation of the world was laid in preparation for it. We know that the expression “inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world,” is interpreted by many simply to mean, prepared for you from the beginning or from eternity, and refers only to purpose. But taking into consideration the paradisaical condition of the earth at creation and the fact (Props. 140–148) of its future restoration to the same when the kingdom is to be established, we believe that the phrase embraces a far deeper significance, viz., its relationship to the earth. “From the foundation of the world” is indicative that God purposed this very earth, when founded, for this kingdom.[*]
Note. Fairbairn (Typology, vol. 1, p. 312) says: “Because destined for Christ and his elect people in the mind of God,” to which we add, destined to become the theatre of a theocratic kingdom. It may be suggested: As will be shown hereafter, this kingdom embraces completed redemption, and this alone indicates the truthfulness of our proposition, because redemption (which the kingdom perfects) was in purpose co-existent with that of creation (Eph. 1:4; 1 Pet. 1:20). This enables us to consider the unbelieving objection that God made creation so imperfect that it required constant interference or “tinkering,” seeing that all things have been previously foreseen and provided for in order—against all adverse influences arising from free will, passion, prejudice, etc. to carry out a predetermined result to its intelligently expressed consummation. On the other hand, it answers the extravagant eulogies heaped by unbelief (in opposition to revelation) upon nature, its perfection, sublimity, etc., in showing that the Creator Himself, far from deeming nature able to save man, to render him happy, to deliver him from evil, declares it placed, with all its faded nobility, with all its tarnished greatness and riches, under a curse, and proposes in the doctrine of the kingdom a renewal, a deliverance, a restitution, which shall free nature, exalt man, and glorify the Maker.
Obs. 6. Such phraseology involves, of necessity, owing to the fall and entailed curse, a glorious restitution for which provision is to be made. We are pointed to that original perfection of creation which the Almighty pronounced good, but this being marred (as the Bible teaches) by sin and resultant evil, it is requisite, before God’s purpose is fully carried out, to restore that forfeited perfection. How this is done will be explained at length hereafter.
Obs. 7. This phraseology respecting the kingdom includes, in view of expressed predetermination, the appointment or preordination of the king (1 Pet. 1:20). It also comprehends the number of the rulers, elect, heirs or inheritors of the kingdom (Eph. 1:4, etc.), as well as every particular, provisionary and realized, pertaining to it. God does not undertake the accomplishment of a set purpose without His perfect knowledge embracing all things relating to it. For “known unto God are all His works from the beginning of the world” (Acts 15:18; Isa. 46:9, 10, etc.)
Obs. 8. The idea of the kingdom being the beginning (i.e., leading to creation, etc.) and the ending (i.e., embracing the final result) of the dispensations or ages, we may well believe what the Scriptures state concerning it, viz., that this idea is carried on to a practical accomplishment in order that the supremacy and authority of God may be universally acknowledged, and that the manifold wisdom and love of the Lord may be displayed and experienced in the eternal ages. It also reaffirms that for this object and end all things are sustained and allowed, to work out, under Divine Providence, their destiny in respect to this kingdom.
Obs. 9. This language, so expressive of the comprehensiveness and fundamental nature of the kingdom idea, suggests to us that the dispensations or ages themselves (the Adamic, Abrahamic, Mosaic, and Christian) are ordered in their succession as part of the Divine purpose in relation to this kingdom. If we are to take the rendering given by Locke, Chandler, Clarke, Whitby, etc., to Eph. 3:11, such a special ordering is announced. Instead of our version, “according to the eternal purpose,” etc., they read: “according to the disposition or arrangement of the ages which He made for (or, in or through) Christ Jesus our Lord.” Whatever translation we may prefer, one thing is certainly taught in the passage, viz., that in the “eternal purpose,” or “the purpose of the ages,” etc., is included the notion that time itself is embraced in God’s plan with special reference to Jesus Christ as the King of the kingdom, for whom the plan is carried into execution and by whom it will be perfected.[*]
Note. Favoring the rendering “the arrangement of the ages” as most in accord with analogy (teaching that times themselves are controlled, etc., by God), yet we object not to receive Bloomfield’s “disposition of the ages” or Barnes’ “purpose of the ages,” etc., because under all of them is still included the provisionary measures instituted in time, following each other in succession, for and by Christ. The idea of a Divine plan, ever-abiding and sure, is necessarily connected with the passage, which, as Holy Writ teaches, includes the doctrine that all things are ordered for and have their foundation in Christ, because He is the Christ, the theocratic king. The plan of salvation contemplates a restoration effected through Christ and witnessed in this kingdom, and, therefore, it embraces all arrangements, even those of time. This is corroborated by other passages. Thus e.g., 1 Cor. 2:7 reads: “the mystery which He ordained before the worlds” (p?? t?? a??¯??¯?, before the ages), i.e., the ages relating to the world (Comp. Prof. Lewis’s ch. on Time-worlds in Six Days of Creation).
Obs. 10. The kingdom being comprehended in the eternal counsels of God and in the design of creation, and being allied with various orderings extending over the past history of the world and with others still future, we ought reasonably to anticipate it to be a deeply involved, widely comprising subject, having a variety of aspects (as e.g., in relation to the Father, Son, elect, etc.), and an encircling of other subjects (as e.g., election, resurrection, judgment, etc.), as well as a profundity of scope (as e.g., in relation to time, the person of the king, glorification, etc.), which demand most careful study, reflection, and comparison to understand.
Obs. 11. The proposition indicates a fundamental position that the student of the kingdom must occupy. It implies that as the kingdom is God’s purpose, all knowledge of the kingdom must be derived from Him. It is God’s idea, contemplated and realized, that we are endeavoring to apprehend, and all reliable information must come from Him. Hence, compare Prop. 9.
Obs. 12. In Prov. 8:31, wisdom is represented as “rejoicing in the habitable part of his earth,” and as delighting in or presenting “my delights” to “the sons of men.” When the Divine purpose, as embraced in this kingdom, in reference to the earth and man, is completely manifested, then the reason of this will also fully appear. Wisdom will be justified both in preparing this earth for its display and in exhibiting itself in the riches bestowed upon her adherents in the theocratic relationship. If it is wisdom to receive any truth of God, much more is it wise to lay hold of the great leading truths, that we may finally obtain the blessings that true wisdom imparts.
Obs. 13. The proposition, from a purely Biblical standpoint, shows that we cannot entertain the view that unbelief urges against the Bible, viz., that Oriental religions antedate the Bible by many centuries. The respective proofs of priority are found in the respective religious works in the shape of assertion, and the truthfulness of one or the other must be determined by its contact with the facts of history. Now history, as far as known outside of the religious books, does not countenance Oriental exaggerations of age; on the other hand, history corroborates the Bible statement, which, owing to a plan systematically developed and with which is connected a vast array of facts, is fully sustained both as to alleged age and contents. (Compare Props. 179 and 182.) The proof of a continuous plan, evidenced in the history of the past and present, and in the immense superiority of subject matter, adaptation to man, etc., will follow in various propositions.
Obs. 14. Lastly, this proposition is based on the scripturally derived statement, that a Divine Creating Mind and a Ruling Will orders and rules over all, so that notwithstanding apparent difficulties and unexplained problems, that Mind and Will shall be ultimately triumphantly vindicated in an open, revealed manner, indicating, what piety already realizes as an earnest in preparatory work, their close and intimate relationship with man and earth. This absolute Mind and Will, affirming that it consciously and personally works to introduce a predetermined kingdom, is, of course, the original fountain-head from whence all proceeds. To the believer in the Word, it is unnecessary, because our views are based on Scripture, to add anything; but to the unbeliever we may remark: that in defense of such a position it is not required to represent the absurdities, the contradictions of reason, etc., into which those fall who deny this existing Mind and Will (other writers have ably done this), but rather to follow out in all its connections the leading doctrine of the kingdom, and from the evidences of marked design and unity manifested in its history, bring forth a proof in behalf of a personal existing God, ordering and overruling all things, that will commend itself to the intelligent reader more than any other that we could possibly propose. The greater the work contemplated—and there is none greater than this kingdom—the more clearly ought we to see the intelligence of the Mind that originates it, and the power of the Will that performs it. If that Mind and Will has proposed, in Revelation to man, a certain, determinate plan of operation by which the kingdom shall, after a while, be openly revealed; if the design and mode of procedure and result commends itself to faith and reason as adapted and desirable; if history and experience plainly sustains the developments of such a plan through the ages, then we may rest assured that in harmony with such a purposed plan, with its corroborating history and adjustment to the necessities of man and creation, there must be, as the Bible wisely and scientifically affirms, a guiding mind and controlling will. It would be premature to press this argument; let us then first present an array of incontrovertible facts, and from these facts, as a conclusion (e.g., Prop. 182, etc.), deduce the statement made, that the kingdom itself is dependent upon the pleasure and work of the Father both in its inception and provision, in its prediction and realization. (Comp. e.g. Prop. 84.)[*]
Note. This proposition logically follows from the idea of intelligent design. The Bible appeals to the evident manifestation of design in the mind of the Creator as exhibited in the ordering of the universe. Natural theology lays special stress on the evidences of a previous forethought and knowledge of adaptedness. The Scriptures likewise refer us to the abundant testimony of design in the mind of the Almighty Ruler as declared in the ordering and provisionary ruling of the world. The moral, religious, and civil training of mankind, the fundamental laws of society, etc., are appealed to in proof. Numerous passages like Ps. 94:9, 10; Isa. 40:14; Acts 15:18; Isa. 46:9, 10; Rom. 11:33; Eph. 1:8, 9, etc., indicate not merely God’s knowledge and wisdom, but the manifestation of such in a predetermined purpose. Systematic theology directs particular attention to the evidences of a previously settled purpose. Our subject largely develops this fact, and insists upon the truth and force of Eph. 3:10, 11 and kindred passages.