For those of you interested in American church history and/or modern politics in light of the two kingdoms debate, you will certainly profit from Richard Gamble's recent book, In Search of the City on a Hill: The Making and Unmaking of an American Myth. You can find Gamble's book on Amazon here.
Gamble discusses in great detail the historical context for John Winthrop's famous 1630 sermon "A Model of Christian Charity" given onboard the Arbella before his group arrived in the New World. As Gamble points out, near the end of his famous sermon Winthrop used the image of a "city on a hill" (found in Matthew 5:14) in a very conventional and biblical way (as an image of the church's witness and pastoral ministry). Winthrop intended far less by his use of this metaphor than many have assumed.
How then did this simple biblical image (as used by Winthrop) become such a powerful and ubiquitous political metaphor (dare I say political "myth") in which America (and American exceptionalism) is now, supposedly, the proper point of reference? Gamble carefully explains the three hundred year evolution of the biblical metaphor into a uniquely American national myth. The story may not be pretty to those who care about how Scripture is to be handled and interpreted, but it is certainly interesting nonetheless.
One particularly important point in Gamble's volume is his discussion of the use of the "city on a hill" metaphor by several early Puritans (and folk like Jonathan Edwards). The "city on a hill" image was invoked as support for the supposed existence of a national covenant between God's chosen people living in America (the church) who served as a light to the world. It was argued that God's providential purpose for America's founding was similar to Israel's role as God's national covenant people under the old covenant. Gamble discusses the merits (few) and demerits (many) of this view, and points out that at the time a number of seventeenth contemporaries argued against this misuse of national covenant language. Israel had a national covenant with God. America does not. Nor do Christians living in America then or now! Being members of the covenant of grace in the midst of the civil kingdom will have to do!
This is an interesting and important book and is highly recommended.
There is a helpful interview with the author here: Interview with Richard Gamble