It seems good to conclude here this undertaking which I should describe as a suggestion and counsel rather than a full explanation of the ways and means by which, as we are taught by the eternal and only salutary Word of God, Your Majesty, Christian kings and princes, and all governors both can and should firmly restore for their peoples the blessed Kingdom of the Son of God, our only Redeemer, i.e., renew, institute, and establish the administration not only of religion but also of all other parts of the common life according to the purpose of Christ our Savior and supreme King. My words are many; but if you consider that many vices of considerable harmfulness have invaded the administration of both the Church and the State, and that there are only a few who recognize the ills and deadly diseases of the people of God and understand and are ready to use the true and proper remedies against them, I know that Your Majesty, who reads and meditates on the Sacred Scriptures daily with piety and diligence, will judge that these my suggestions and admonitions, whatever their quality, are very narrowly restricted.
I am not unaware, likewise, that there will be at least a few educated men who profess the gospel of the Crucified, who, if they read these commentaries of mine, will find much to criticize in them: they will criticize some things as commonly known and noted and considered not only by Your Majesty but also by those who have but slightly dipped into the literature and are imbued with the religion of Christ in a mediocre way, other things, however, as being too paradoxical, and impossible to institute and realize because they are strange to and out of accord with the ways and views of our age and our people.
Those, however, who are offended by these suggestions and admonitions of mine about the restitution of the Kingdom of Christ among us because they are common and trite should please ponder what a man no less holy than that delightful orator Isocrates wrote to Nicocles: “What one writes concerning the instruction of life and morals should not be new and unheard of” (as God has always provided from the beginning of the world men to pass on salutary precepts concerning these things), “but must be selected from whatever things are the best.” Christians, for whom it is unholy to add to or detract from or in any way change the Word of God handed down from the beginning (cf. Deut. 4:2), should take singular precautions not to inject anything new and recently invented into any doctrine and teaching of life. But since I am unable to do what Isocrates added, “Express these things as elegantly as possible,” I have tried to explain them simply and honestly.
Further, those who think that what I have presented is too different from present ways of doing things and the thinking of modern men, a matter of wishful thinking rather than practicality, and that I want to design some so-called Platonic republic, I earnestly ask, for the sake of the Kingdom and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and the salvation all of us have in common, that they would judge and estimate what I have proffered and suggested not on the basis of the judgment of men of this or an earlier age, but by the eternal and immutable Word of God. Those who make an earnest effort to do this will undoubtedly see and acknowledge that all these things are not remote and different from the aims and practices of modern men who glory in the rule of Christ, but rather that they are easy to receive and observe for all who have not decided to renounce Christ as Lord (“We do not want this man to reign over us” [19:14]) and that they are necessary for the salvation of mankind both now and forever.
For how can one acknowledge and adore Christ, God and Man, our only Savior, also as one’s own Christ, Redeemer, King, and God, and not accept all his words and try to follow them wholeheartedly, just as they are, the words of eternal life? And is it not necessary for those to whom this has been given, that they receive and embrace the salvation which Christ the Lord offers in his gospel as well as in the sacraments and in all the precepts of his discipline, with as much more ardent a desire and greater a gratitude of spirit as the Creator excels every creature, as God excels men, and as the sure eternal life and happiness excel a false, empty opinion and an imagined semblance of the good?
And, indeed, these will hear nothing more eagerly, beyond any comparison, and follow nothing with a firmer faith than the words and precepts of Christ—all of them; they will receive nothing with more devotion and greater spiritual pleasure than his sacraments; and finally they will observe and care for nothing more diligently and solicitously than that his discipline flourishes among them. And so they will establish all ministries of the Lord among them and they will take care to carry them out most reverently, and everyone will submit to them in a most willing spirit.
Thus they will not wink at the sins of anyone in the churches, if he is delinquent; but they will use on him the remedies of salutary censure as they are divinely revealed, and will turn those who have sinned toward a pious and effective repentance; and they will never cease to invite, influence, and compel every single person to all the duties of piety, by pious teaching and exhortation, both public and private, on the part of individual brethren acting as members of Christ as well as on the part of the regular leaders and shepherds of the churches.
With the Son of God thus reigning among people of this kind, how could true sanctity and dutiful charity not prevail? They would impel a person always to learn and do some good work so that everyone would contribute his share for the use of the churches; thus the Church would so thrive in each and every member of Christ that no one would be in want, not only of necessary food, shelter, and clothing, but also of any other means of commodity for living well and happily in the Lord, our King Jesus Christ, and in his universal Church.
If, therefore, the one dispenser of kingdoms and powers and the preserver of all, Christ the King, gives to this his people also external sovereignty and a free administration of the commonwealth, because they love and worship this their King “with their whole heart, and soul, and strength” (Luke 16:27), he will give them also all political power and all external strength, so that his Kingdom and his pure and genuine religion may grow and flourish among them and prevail everywhere as fully as possible.
Accordingly, whoever holds the external and political power among these people of Christ will not only not tolerate any manifest neglect of pure religion among his subjects who are consecrated by Baptism to Christ the Lord, much less any vice or attempted opposition to him in word or deed; but he will also see to it, first and foremost, that the churches enjoy suitable ministers of probity and trustworthiness; and, lest these ever be wanting, they will also make every effort to make sure that there are many schools of learning and piety, and that all who have been destined for this by God are instructed and trained in them for these ministries of the churches, whether they have been born of rich or poor parents. They will likewise see to it that none of the common people lack anything by which he and his family can show themselves productively useful to the saints of Christ and his churches.
Just as, therefore, these will take care that every private person and corporation and the commonwealth itself have and keep their own resources, and will very severely punish all those, whoever they are, who take private and public wealth and resources by theft or embezzlement, so, in accordance with the high concern and solicitude which we should devote to the churches of Christ, to which God has pledged the whole world and the angels themselves (I Cor. 3:22), they will also do all they can in order to maintain for the churches their property, indeed the patrimony of their Head and Spouse, the Crucified One, and to keep it sacrosanct, while they will inflict very severe punishment upon those who have dared to attack or to ruin it by fraud or sacrilegious force.
Therefore, they will in no way allow that any person unworthy of and useless to the churches, even if he should be their father or son, has on any pretext or excuse a share in those goods which have been consecrated to Christ the Lord for the use of religion, the schools, or the poor; or that to anyone more should be distributed or granted from these than he deserves according to the Word of God for his saving ministry as it is performed in good faith for the churches, or for the true and continuous work of preparation and instruction for the ministry, or for an evident need which a person is not able to deal with.
With equal care they will be on watch that no enticements to and occasions for sin creep in. By the award of public and private honors, ranks and compensations, they will strive to arouse and impel men to a desire for virtues, and by threatening very severe penalties they will deter and keep them from sins and crimes. Reprobates will not be admitted to honors in the state, or to honorable offices, or to privileges. And finally they will not tolerate any idlers, but they will compel all their citizens to pious and fruitful industry for the commonwealth.
This, in summary, is what I advise and affirm should be restored and undertaken with all zeal by those who wish the Son of God to reign among them. But who is there who ever reads his Gospel with an attentive spirit who would not acknowledge all these things which I have just mentioned to have been most clearly revealed and sacredly commanded by Christ the Lord himself in countless places in his Scriptures?
Those who truly belong to Christ know and feel that all the words and commandments of Christ their Savior are “words” and commandments “of life” and “eternal” salvation (John 6:68); how can they then fail to sense that they are not only “not burdensome” (I John 5:3), much less impossible but that they must be very much sought after and pursued with a most ardent zeal? For they have tasted and experienced “how good and pleasant the Lord is” in all his commandments and words (Ps. 34:8); they know that “the Lord’s yoke is” so “easy and his burden so light” (Matt. 11:30) that no men can achieve true rest and tranquillity for their souls who have not submitted to this yoke and labor with their whole heart. These, therefore, will find that there is nothing new in all that I have here suggested and advised, nothing unusual for true sons of God, nothing which must not at all times be sought after and practiced wholeheartedly by all men who have been given to Christ the Lord by the Father.
Moreover, when I began to write about the full restoration and renewal of the Kingdom of Christ, I had necessarily in mind only those men “whom” God, as he “selected them for himself from the world” (John 15:19), and “chose, foreknew and predetermined them before the foundation of the world” (Eph. 1:4), also “calls, justifies, and glorifies” in his own time (Rom. 8:29-30). For those who are of the world are wise about worldly things (Rom. 8:5), not the things of Jesus Christ; they hate and kill him and all his members (John 15:18-19), so far are they from accepting his words; and so they remain in evil, and the wrath of God broods over them, for the Son does not pray for them (John 17:9). It was therefore not fitting for me, as I dealt with the Kingdom of Christ, to dwell on what the accused enemies of this Kingdom approve or disapprove or what they support or do not accept.
But it will be said by those who wish the Kingdom of Christ to be restored only to the extent that their partnership and communication with the passing world will not be disturbed, that the world is crammed full with worldly men. For the Lord himself has said, “Many are called but few are chosen” (Matt. 22:14); and so there is some reason for taking account of these persons in the restoration of the Kingdom of Christ, at least for the purpose of keeping external peace in the nation.
But to these the apostle responds when he writes to the Corinthians: “What partnership have righteousness and iniquity? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever?” (II Cor. 6:14-15). Likewise in Romans: “Do not be conformed to this world” (Rom. 12:2). And to the Galatians: “I am crucified to the world, and the world to me” (Gal. 6:14).
Moreover, it is obvious that pious men should pray to our one Savior and King to whom the Father has given all power in heaven and on earth (Matt. 28:18) for the favor of external peace; and this peace is promised only to those who subject themselves to his sovereignty, not to those who are opposed to it or do not fully accept it and who prefer to his grace and glory the grace and benevolence of lost men. As this depends upon us, external peace must be sought and kept as far as possible with all men, but by yielding and deferring to them in the things that belong to us and not those which belong to the Son of God, our Lord Jesus Christ, or to his Church (Matt. 5:9 and 10:13; Rom. 12:18). We must work to please all, but “for good” and “for the edification” of the salvation of men (Roman. 15:2); those who wish to please men in another way cannot be the servants of Jesus Christ (Gal. 1:10).
There were a great number of men hostile to Christ and there were few truly zealous for his Kingdom also in the times of David, Hezekiah, and Josiah. David complains about his times in so many psalms, as do the Lord’s prophets Isaiah and Jeremiah concerning the times of Hezekiah and Josiah; however, because these kings knew that to a believer in God nothing is impossible at least of those things which God requires of us; they restored all things that God had commanded his people, despite the fact that evil demons and men were unwilling and strove against them, and they had all vices and wickedness in religion and the rest of life eliminated; and God was present with them, so that what they had begun to do in his name with a constant faith they were also able successfully to accomplish.
And despite the fact that under Hezekiah and Josiah there were many who kept the impiety of heart which they were compelled externally to reject, nevertheless so pleasing to God were the efforts of these pious kings for his Kingdom that in their times he granted immense blessings to the whole people and forgave them the punishments they deserved.
Therefore, mindful that “heaven and earth will pass away, but not one jot or tittle of the word and law of God will ever be removed” (Matt. 5:18) ; “and that God brings the counsel of the nations to nought and frustrates the plans of the peoples, but that his counsel stands forever, and his thoughts extend from generation to generation” (Ps. 33:10-11), Your Majesty will let the false and pernicious decisions of men be what they are, but he will follow and abide with a strong heart in the words and judgments of God, which are always true and always salutary, whatever the whole world with its god produces and brings forth to the contrary.
And from these words and judgments of God he will learn what things belong to the Kingdom of Christ and the best method of restoring it in this country as fully as possible; and he will arrange that this method is very exactly and explicitly outlined, joining to himself for this purpose a distinguished council of men whom he will know to be both solidly instructed in and excellently motivated for the Kingdom of Christ; and by their service and labors he will in all counties seek for and send out to the people approved evangelists, who will preach to them with supreme faith and pious skill the whole gospel of Christ and every means of restoring his Kingdom among us.
When this procedure will have been approved by the nobles and the Parliament of the realm, he will recommend it to the people for adoption through men fitted for such a task, and ratify it definitely by laws; at the same time he will appoint to all bishoprics and parishes men suitable for such offices as soon as he shall havq found them, men who will do all their pastoral duty for the churches with utmost zeal as the chief Shepherd and Bishop of our souls, the Son of God, our Lord Jesus Christ, has ordained and commanded it to be done.
In order to obtain suitable ministers for these positions, he will not only restore the universities as soon and as fully as possible to their original constitution for the true use of the churches, but he will also make sure that many other schools are opened in which as many suitable persons as possible will be educated and trained for the ministries of the churches.
In order also to supply to these and all needy Christians, indeed, to Christ the Lord himself, all that is needed for holy and happy living and for the right maintenance of ecclesiastical ministries, it must be his utmost and most earnest concern to establish and preserve for the churches a sure income and the holy patrimony of their spouse. And if it still seems good to take something from church property for the uses of the realm (for nothing can rightly be yielded from this source to any private persons, except what is due them for faithful service to the churches or what is needed for study in preparation for these ministries or for poor relief), let it be taken, but with that moderation which will find approval from the Lord, the King of all the earth and our supreme Savior, who gives us all things; the rest must be put to the use for which it was consecrated, the use of the Crucified One, our only Redeemer, and dedicated to the necessary ministries of the churches, to schools, and the support of the needy. Hence there must be a severer punishment of anyone who by cunning, artifice, or fraud takes and claims for himself something from this patrimony of the Crucified (for this is a sacrilege) than of one who is guilty of any other theft or robbery, to the extent by which the right of Christ our Savior and his Church should be closer to our hearts than any public or private rights of men.
Once the Kingdom of Christ has been restored for his citizens in this responsible spirit, Your Majesty will also seek to make them ready for it with all his royal strength and power; and he will bring it about both by legislation and a faithful and constant enforcement of the laws, first, that all private homes are kept holy, that those whom God wills to be joined are joined in marriage piously and religiously, and that having been joined, they cultivate this divine social order in a most holy way, and once united by this yoke never turn from each other, unless this is necessary both for their own well-being and that of society. Next, every child which the Lord gives to the commonwealth shall be most exactingly educated, instructed, and trained for Christ the Lord and his Church, each being assigned to those skills and duties of life for which he seems to have been made and destined by the Lord. No place at all is to be provided in his realm for idlers, but everyone is to be used for worthy endeavors and tasks advantageous to the commonwealth. And in order that these things can be perpetually and constantly preserved, Your Majesty will take care that laws be written to cover all the activities and affairs of his subjects, and that those written be amended and elucidated so that they are clear and wholesome for his citizens, steady shining lights for all their life and activities and not deceitfully designed illusions of the godless for gain or wrongdoing, or nets and snares for the capture and overthrow of the innocent.
And since neither written laws nor the ordering and constitution of the commonwealth, however accurate and careful, can long be of usefulness or preserve anything good, if men lack living laws, wise, pious, and vigilant magistrates and responsible and just judges, and also just and severe punishments for malefactors Your Majesty will endeavor to provide such magistrates and judges for his people everywhere, and he will establish and enforce punishments for all crimes and wickedness so that nothing will be lacking for the full and complete manifestation of the Kingdom and the judgment of God.
When Your Majesty will have laid these foundations and established them and as he will strive to complete these things more and more, day by day, he will know that Christ the King and Giver of eternal life will always be present with his citizens and subjects, and all evils will be so reduced and all good things so accumulated, that this realm will be happy and successful in all things. For Christ our King cannot fail to add most abundantly and liberally all other things which are asked for by those who are seeking first his Kingdom and his righteousness (cf. Matt. 6:33).
And so Your Majesty will not let himself be disturbed that he has the company of very few kings and that he acts almost alone in exerting himself in this great task which is impossible for the flesh, the perfect restitution of the Kingdom of Christ. Since he has in Christ Almighty a helper and leader in this, what part of his aim will he not accomplish, whatever the world and the flesh attempt to the contrary? Nor will it cast down his spirits that so far not many faithful ministers have appeared in his realm for this undertaking; for Christ is accustomed to restore his Kingdom gloriously for his people and to put their enemies under their feet even by the use of the ministry of a very few men who are very weak and contemptible in the eyes of the world (I Cor. 15:25; 1:27-28). Nor will Your Majesty delay because there are at this time no examples of the full restoration of the Kingdom of Christ: for he has the orders of his God; he has the examples portrayed in his Scriptures and they are abundantly sufficient for every pious prince for any degree of zealous imitation. And finally, whatever objections are made by Satan, personally or through those enslaved to him, Your Majesty will strengthen himself with the very ample promises of God which we should hold to be more certain than anything we have experienced just as the Word of God is more certain than the feeling of men.
There are not lacking illustrious examples, not only ancient ones (which nevertheless alone would be abundantly sufficient, since they are provided for us by the Holy Scriptures), but also of our own period, in which it is very clearly evident that Christ our King is wonderfully and powerfully present with all his servants, and with kings and princes and that it is he who gives the success they hope for to those who have undertaken the full restoration of his Kingdom among us. And whenever matters fall out otherwise, one can find that the cause has been impurity of effort and the manifest offense of insincere zeal: as in the time of the Maccabees, so also now in the disaster of Germany. For Christ our King lives and still acts in every way characteristic of himself (cf. Heb. 13:8).
Therefore, Your Majesty may expect to receive from God in this task a no less magnificent support and happy outcome of his efforts than God has ever given to and provided for any of his servants, responsible princes,90 as with his whole heart he seeks to show forth God’s glory and obtain the total salvation of his subjects according to His words and commandments. This will be done; indeed, it will be done by our Lord Jesus Christ, the “King of Kings and the Lord of Lords’* (Rev. 17:14), as Your Majesty gets these undertakings under way, no less than in the case of David, Asa, Jehoshaphat, Hezekiah, and Josiah, with a daily increase of magnificent prosperity, as he manifests himself to his subjects as a king altogether saving and successful, formidable and unconquered in the face of both his external and internal enemies, who will never be lacking so long as there has not been a unanimous acceptance of Christ in this realm. And since there must be some risk and labor, as there will be, Your Majesty will keep in mind the infinite and eternal rewards which await him for these slight dangers and labors of such a brief and momentary duration, and that the Son of God has prepared these rewards for him by his infinite sorrows and his most cruel sufferings.
May the same Lord, our Savior Jesus Christ, as he has given to Your Majesty an outstanding understanding and desire for all these things, so also reveal and unite to him as soon as possible those through whom he may as effectively as possible begin and inaugurate and ever further and perfect this restoration of his Kingdom. Amen, Amen, Amen.
I pray that Your Majesty will favorably accept this my little work of suggestion and advice on these matters; and if Your Majesty or anyone else should be of the opinion that I have proposed anything not in agreement with the eternal Word of God, I beg to be advised of this admonition, as I am always prepared in all things to follow the pure Word of God itself and to consecrate my total self to it.
This writing, begun early, I have completed late; this is due to the fact that my health was weakened by sickness and old age, and there were also the demands of the office of the ministry entrusted to me by Your Majesty. May Your Majesty regard and hold me, his unworthy servant and minister, as commended to the Lord and as one who prays and will always pray that God, our heavenly Father, through our Lord Jesus Christ, will preserve Your Majesty and give him success in all things, for the increase of His own glory and for the wonderful consolation and salvation of all the people who are his, in this and other realms. Amen, Amen.
End Of the Book on the Kingdom of Christ.
To God be the glory!