And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said…
1. The manner in which the gospel was first introduced was without external show and ostentation. Worldly kingdoms are usually erected and supported by the power of arms.
2. The external dispensation of Christ's kingdom is without ostentation. His laws are plain and easy to be understood, and delivered in language level to common apprehension. The motives by which obedience is urged are pure and spiritual, taken not from this, but the future world. His institutions are few and simple, adapted to our condition, and suited to warm and engage the heart.
3. The virtues which the gospel principally inculcates are without observation, distant from worldly show, and independent of worldly applause.
4. As the temper of the gospel, so also the operation of the Divine Spirit in producing this temper, is without observation. It is not a tempest, an earthquake, or fire; but a small, still voice. It is a spirit of power, but yet a spirit of love, and of a sound mind. The fruits of it, like its nature, are kind and benevolent. They are love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, meekness, and goodness.
5. The blessings of God's kingdom are chiefly invisible, and without observation. The rewards which the gospel promises are not earthly and temporal, but heavenly and spiritual. They are not external power, wealth, and honour; but inward peace, hope, and joy here, and everlasting felicity hereafter.We will now attend to the reflections and instructions which our subject offers to us —
1. If the kingdom of God is now among us, we are all without exception bound to acknowledge it, and submit to it.
2. We learn that it concerns every one, not only to submit to God's kingdom, but to submit to it immediately.
3. We are here taught that we have no occasion to run from place to place in order to find the grace of God, for we may obtain it in any place where His Providence calls us. For the Spirit is not confined to certain places, its influences are not at human disposal, nor do its operations come with public observation. You are to receive the spirit in the hearing of faith. Its influence on the heart is not like an overbearing storm, but as the gentle rain on the tender herb, and the dew on the grass.
4. We learn from our subject that true religion is not ostentatious. It seeks not observation. The true Christian is exemplary, but not vain. He is careful to maintain good works, but affects not an unnecessary show of them.
5. It appears that they only are the true subjects of God's kingdom who have experienced its power on their hearts.
6. As the kingdom of God comes not to the heart with observation, we are incompetent judges of the characters of others.
(J. Lathrop, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: