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But when the Lord God commands me to speak in His name, my closed lips shall be opened; when He calls upon the breath from the four winds to breathe upon the slain that they may live, I will prophesy without fear,-- Oye dry bones, Hear the word of the Lord, and, obedient to his voice, they
shall come together, bone to his bone; shall be covered with sinews and flesh :' shall receive new life :, and stand up upon their feet, an exceeding great army. In this manner, from the graves ture and the dry bones of natural men, does the Ho. ly Spirit recruit the armies of the living God:' and make them, collectively and individually, a name, and a praise, and a glory,' to thé • Captain of their salvation.
(3.) Among the instruments which the Lord Jesus employs in the administration of his government are the resources of the physical and moral world.
Supreme in heaven and in earth, upholding all things by the word of his power,' the universe is his magazine of means. Nothing which acts or exists, is exempted from promoting, in its own place, the purposes of his kingdom. Beings rational and irra. tional; animate and inanimate; the heavens above and the earth below; the obedience of sanctified, and the disobedience of unsanctified men; all holy spir. its; all damned spirits : in one word, every agency, every element, every atom, are but the ministers of his will, and concur in the execution of his designs. And this he will demonstrate to the confusion of his enemies, and the joy of his people, in that great and terrible day when he shall sit upon the throne of his glory, and dispense ultimate judgment to the quick and the dead.
Upon these hills of holiness, the stability of Mėssiah's. Throne, and the perfect administration of his kingdom, let us take our station, and survey the
Prospects which rise up before the Church of God .
When I look upon the magnificent scene, I cannot repress the salutation, · Hail thou that art highly favoured ! :
She has the prospect of preservation, of increase, and of triumph.
(1.) The prospect of preservation.
The long existence of the Christian church would be pronounced, upon common principles of reasoning, impossible. She finds in every man a natural and inveterate enemy. To encounter and overcome the unanimous hostility of the world, she boasts no po. litical stratagem, no disciplined legions, no outward coercion of any kind. Yet her expectation is that she live forever. To mock this hope, and to blot out her memorial from under heaven, the most furi. ous efforts of fanaticism, the most ingenious arts of statesmen, the concentrated strength of empires, have been frequently and perseveringly applied. The blood of her sons and her daughters has stream. ed like water; the smoke of the scaffold and the stake, where they won the crown of martyrdom in the cause of Jesus, has ascended in thick volumes to the skies. The tribes of persecution have sported over her woes,
and erected monuments, as they imagined, of her · perpetual ruin. But where are her tyrants, and where
their empires ? the tyrants have long since gone to their own place; their names have descended upon the roll of infamy; their empires have passed, like shadows over the rock-they have successively dis. appeared, and left pot a trace behind !
But what became of the church? She rose from her ashes fresh in beauty and might. Celestial glo. ry beamed around her; she dashed down the monumental marble of her foes, and they who hated her fled before her, She has celebrated the funeral of kings and kingdoms that plotted her destruction ; and, with the inscriptions of their pride, has trans. : mitted to posterity the records of their shame. How
shall this phænomenon be explained ? We are at the present moment, witnesses of the fact ; but who can upfold the mystery. This blessed book, the book of truth and life, has made our wonder to cease. • THÉ LORD HER GOD IN THE MIDST OF HER IS MIGHTY.' His presence is a fountain of health, and his protection a wall of fire.' He has betrothed her, in eternal covenant to himself. Her living head, in whom she lives, is above, and his quickening spirit shall never depart from her. Armed with divine virtue, his gospel, secret, silent, unobserved, enters the hearts of men and sets up an everlasting kingdom. It eludes all the vigilance, and baffles all the power of the adversary. Bars, and bolts, and dungeons are no obstacle to its approach : Bonds, and tortures, and death cannot extinguish its influence. Let no man's heart, tremble, then, because of fear. Let no man despair, in these days of rebuke and blasphemy of the Christian cause. The ark is launched, indeed, upon the floods; the tempest sweeps along the deep; the billows break over her on every side.
But Je. hovah-Jesus has promised to conduct her in safety to the haven of peace. She cannot be lost unless the pilot perish. Why then do the heathen rage, and and the people imagine a vain thing ? Hear, o Zi. on, the word of thy God, and rejoice for the consolation. No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper, and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heri. tage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is of me, saith the Lord."
Mere preservation, however, though a most comfortable, is not the only, hope of the Church; she has
(2.) The prospect of increase.
Încrease --- from an effectual blessing upon the means of grace in places where they are already enjoyed ; for thus saith the Lord, I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground : I will
pour my spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring; and they shall spring up as among the grass, as willows by the water courses.'
Increase--from the diffusion of evangelical truth through Pagan lands. · For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people ; but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee. And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising. Lift up thine eyes round about and see : all they gather themselves together, they come to thee: thy sons shall come from far, and thy daughters shall be nursed at thy side. Then thou shall see, and Aow together, and thine heart shall fear and be enlarged; because the abundance of the sea shall be converted into thee, the forces of the gentiles shall come unto thee.'
Increase--from the recovery of the rejected Jews to the faith and privileges of God's dear children. · Blindness in part has happened unto Israel ---they have been cut off, for their unbelief, from the olive tree. Age has followed age, and they remain to this hour spread over the face of the earth, a fearful and affecting testimony to the truth of God's word. They are without their sanctuary, without their Messiah, without the hope of their believing ancestors. But it shall not be always thus. They are still beloved for the father's sake.' When the · fullness of the Gen. tiles shall come in,' they too shall be gathered. They shall discover, in our Jesus, the promised Messiah ; and with tenderness proportioned to their former insensibility, shall cling to his cross. Grafted again into their own olive tree, all Israel shall be saved.' It was through their fall that salvation came unto us Gentiles. And, if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiv. ing of them be but life from the dead? What stasy, my brethren! the Gentile and the Jew taking 'sweet counsel together, and going to the house of
God in company! the path of the swift messenger of grące marked, in every direction, by the fullness of the blessing of the gospel of Christ a nation born at once--the children of Zion exclaiming, • The place is too strait for me: give place to me that I may dwell.' The knowledge of Jehovah averspreading the earth' as the waters cover the sea ;' and all fesh enjoying the salvation of God!
This faith ushers in a
(3.) Prospect of the Church--the prospect of triumph.
Though often desolate, and afflicted, tossed with tempest and not comforted,' the Lord her God wilt then make her an eternal excellency,' and repay her sorrows with triumph...,
Triumphr--in complete victory over the enemies who sought her hurt. • The nation and kingdom, saith the Lord, that will not serve thee shall perish; yea those nations shall be ytterly wasted. The sons also of them that afficted thee shall come bending unto thee; and all they that despised thee shall bow themselves down at the sales of thy feet; and they shall call thee the eity of the Lord, the Zion of the Holy One of Israel.' That great enemy of her purity and her peace, who shed the blood of her saints and her prophets, the MAN OF Sin who has exalted himself above all that is called God,' shall appear in the whole horror of his doom as the son of perdition, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming ? The terrible but joyous event shall be announced by an angel from heaven "crying mightily with a strong voice, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen!? • ALLE, LUIA,' shall be the response of the Church universal, Salvation, and glory, and honor, and power, unto the Lord our God, for true and righteous are his judgments; for he hath judged the great whore which did corrupt the earth with her fornication, and hath avenged the blood of her servants at her hand !' Then,