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Life of Jesus Christ in Its Historical Connexion and Historical Developement.
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§ 40. John’s Conception of Messiah’s Kingdom.

Let us inquire now upon what view of the calling and work of the Messiah, and of the nature of his kingdom, these expressions of the Baptist were founded. He contradicts the notion, so prevalent among the Jews, that all the descendants of Abraham who outwardly observed the religion of their fathers would be taken into the Messiah’s kingdom, while his heavy judgments would fall upon the pagans alone. On the contrary, he maintains the necessity, for all who would enter that kingdom, of a moral new birth, which he sets forth to them by the Spirit-baptism; and proclaims, as a necessary preparation for this new birth, a consciousness of sin and longing to be free from it; all which is implied in the word μετάνοια, when stated as the necessary condition of obtaining the promised baptism of the Spirit, He expects this kingdom to be visible; but yet conceives it as purely spiritual, as a community filled and inspired by the Spirit of God, and existing, in communion of the Divine life, with the Messiah as its visible King; so that, what had not been the case before, the idea of the Theocracy and its manifestation should precisely correspond to each other. He has already a presentiment that the willing among the pagans will be incorporated into the kingdom in place of the unworthy Jews who shall be excluded. The appearance of Messiah will cause a sifting of the Theocratic people. This presupposes that he will not overturn all enemies and set up his kingdom at once by the miraculous power of God, but will manifest himself in such a form that those whose hearts are prepared for his coming will recognize him as Messiah, while those of ungodly minds will deny and oppose him. On the one hand, a community of the righteous will gather around him of their own accord; and, on the other, the enmity of the corrupt multitude will be called forth and organized. The Messiah must do battle with the universal corruption; and, after the strife has separated the wicked members of the Theocratic nation from the good, will come forth victorious, and glorify the purified people of God under his own reign.

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