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Life of Jesus Christ in Its Historical Connexion and Historical Developement.
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§ 52. Two-fold bearing of the Kingdom of God—an inward, spiritual Power, and a world-renewing Power.

There are two sides to the conception of the kingdom of God, as Christ viewed it; in reference to its ideal and its real elements, which must be contemplated in their connexion with each other. The discourses of Christ will be found every where to contradict a one-sided view of either of these elements.

The kingdom of God was indeed first to be exhibited as a communion of men bound together by the same spirit, inspired by the same consciousness of God; and this communion was to find its central point in CHRIST, its Redeemer and King. As he himself ordered and directed all things in the first congregation of his disciples, so he was subsequently to inspire, rule, and cultivate this community of men by his law and by his Spirit. The revelation of the Spirit, shared by all its members, was all that was to distinguish it from the world, so called in the New Testament, that is, the common mass of mankind, as alienated from God.

But as this community was gradually to prevail even over the mass of mankind through the power of the indwelling Spirit, it was not always to remain entirely inward and hidden, but to send forth, continually more and more, a renewing influence; to be the salt, the leaven of humanity, the city set upon a hill, the candle which, once lighted, should never be extinguished. And Christ was gradually, through this community, his organ and his royal dwelling-place, to establish his kingdom as a real one, more and more widely among men, and subdue the world to his dominion. In this sense were those who shared in his communion to obtain and exercise, even upon earth, a real world-dominion. It is the aim and end of history, that Christianity shall more and more become the world-governing principle. In fine, the end of this developement appears to be (though not, indeed, simply as its natural result) a complete realization of the Divine kingdom which Christ established in its outward manifestation, fully answering to its idea; a perfect world-dominion of Christ and of his organs; a world purified and transformed, to become the seat of His universal empire.

So did Christ intend, in a true sense, and in various relations, to describe himself as King, and his organs as partakers in his dominion of the world. It was, indeed, in a real sense that he spoke of his KINGDOM, to be manifested on earth. And as he was to build up this kingdom on the foundations laid down in the Old Testament, and to realize the plan of God therein prefigured, he could rightfully apply to himself the figures of the Old Testament in regard to the progress of the Theocracy, in order to bring the truths which they veiled clearly out before the consciousness of men.131131   Some suppose that every thing in Christ’s discourses, as reported by Matthew and Luke, in reference to this real Theocratic element, is to be ascribed to the Jewish views that obscured the truth as uttered by Christ, and caused it to be reported incorrectly That this is not the case is obvious from Paul’s plain references to such expressions of Christ’s, e.g., 1 Cor., vi., 2. Although his disciples at first took these figures in the letter, still, under the influence of Christ’s intercourse and teaching, they could not long stop there. And not only his direct instructions, but the manner in which he opposed the idea of his spiritual and inward kingdom to the carnal notions of the Jews, contributed to give his followers the key to the right interpretation of these types and shadows.

In thus comparing Christ’s discourses with each other, and in the unity of purpose which a contemplation of his whole life makes manifest, we find a guard for all after ages, against carnal misconceptions of his individual discourses, or of separate features of his life.132132   We shall speak more particularly of this when we come to treat of the mode in which Christ trained his apostles. In general, when we find in the accounts of any world-historical man such a unity of the creative minds we are willing, if individual features come up in apparent contradiction to the general tenor, to believe that he was misunderstood by incapable contemporaries; or, if this cannot be safely asserted, because the contradictory features are inseparable from others that bear his unmistakable impress, we endeavour, by comparing his manifestations, to find that higher unity in which even the unmanageable points may find their rightful place. Utterly unhistorical, indeed, is that perverted principle of historical exegesis which teaches that an original, creative mind, a spirit far above his times, is to be comprehended from the prevailing opinions of his age and nation; and which presupposes, in fact, that all these opinions are his own.133133   Conf. what Schleiermacher says (Hermeneutik, s. 20) of “historical interpretation,” and also (s. 82) of the “Analogy of Faith.”


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