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DISCOURSE IX.

ON THE TWENTY-NINTH OF MAY.

PSALM LXXXVII. 2.

The Lord loveth the gates of Zion more than all the

dwellings of Jacob.

WHEN we take a view of the revolutions a that have happened in the kingdoms of the world, and behold mighty empires successively rising and disappearing again, like so many waves in this

great

and wide sea, where, exalted for a little season to the highest pitch of grandeur, they glitter in the sunshine of prosperity, till they are overwhelmed and absorbed by the growing power of some neighbouring people, who themselves are scarcely gazed at, before

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Equidem paradoxum quid dixero ; et nihilominus vere : Imperia omnia mundi secundum Dei Providentiam sic fuisse ordinata, ut subservirent consilio Dei erga ecclesiam, nec eorum dissolutionem aut destructionem alio referendam ; ut proinde eorum destructio, qualis fuit Persarum, certo fuerit argumentum, illud non satisfecisse consilio Dei erga ecclesiam ; nec populum suum æquitate, justitia, et indulgentia tractasse, qua par erat.

VITRINGA, Comment. in Zach. i. 20. p. 203, Hei

I 2

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they depart and give way to others, as others did to them; we are led thereby to admire and adore the providence of Him who ruleth in the kingdoms of men, who putteth down one and setteth up another, ordering all things according to the counsel of his own will. But when from the Scriptures of truth we learn what the counsel of that will is, and how gracious an aspect it bears towards the servants of the true Gon; when we see all things, even the most untractable, working together for good to them that believe, and the powers of the earth made subservient to the kingdom of the Messiah, in carrying on the divine dispensations of mercy and judgement towards the church, as her obedience pleads for the one, or her trangressions call for the other, how are our hearts filled and warmed with a sense of his goodness, who makes the world and all the persons and things in it to conspire to promote the felicity of his chosen, who governs the universe as head of his church, "who loveth the gates of Zion more than all “the dwellings of Jacob!"

It shall be my endeavour, in the following discourse, to set before you a succinct view of the divine economy in the government of the world, considered in this light, viz. as relative to the affairs of the church. The mercies we this day commemorate will close an induction of particulars, and the use we are to make of them be the natural and obvious result of the whole.

But shall we not be said to aggrandize the church, to think of her more highly than we ought to think, when we thus represent the kings of the earth as minister

ing unto her, and put all things, as it were, under her feet? This may be said. But it will be said by none who have duly weighed the difference between things temporal and things eternal, and have learned to give the preference where it is so evidently due. The commission of political government extends no farther than this world. Every man's death dissolves his relation to an earthly kingdom, and all civil distinctions drop into the dust together. But, as says the apostle, puwe TOMITEupa, “our citizenship, is in heaven, from whence St. John saw the Christian church, “that “ holy city, the new Jerusalem, descend," and whither she will again be received up; nay, whither she is continually ascending, the triumphant part of her, as well as her all-glorious head, being there already. Hence it is, that the church even upon earth is styled “the kingdom of God;" the spirits departed and the faithful who remain being alike the subjects of it, and together making up what the apostle calls the whole family of heaven and earth named after Christ; who, as he now ratifies in heaven the sentence of the church when justly inflicted on earth, so will be one day enable her to “ execute judgement” on the angels as well as on this world, seeing her head is lord of them all. They are not “members of his “ body, of his flesh, and of his bones; for he took

not on him the nature of angels, but he took on “ him the seed of Abraham ;" to whom “they are all “ministering spirits, sent forth to minister to them “ who," through the faith of their father Abraham,

are heirs of salvation.” What wonder, then, that we find these exceeding great and precious promises

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made to the church, with relation to the kingdoms of the earth :-“Kings shall be thy nursing fa“thers, and queens thy nursing mothers; they shall robow down to thee with their face towards the earth, " and lick up the dust of thy feet. The sons also “ of thein that afflicted thee shall come bending

unto thee, and all they that despised thee shall bow " themselves down at the soles of thy feet, and they “shall call thee, The city of the Lord, the Zion of " the Holy One of Israel. Therefore thy gates shall “ be open continually; they shall not be shut day nor

night, that men may bring unto thee the forces of " the Gentliles, and that their kings may be brought: “ for the nation and kingdom that will not serve thee “ shall perish; yea, those nations shall be utterly “ wasted.” Thus glorious are the things spoken of thee, thou city of God. May we not then take up our parable like Balaam, and say, Surely there is no enchantment against Jacob, neither is there

any

divination against Israel.

How shall we degrade her, whom God hath so highly exalted? How shall we lightly esteein her, whom the King of heaven thus delighteth to honour? We cannot do it, until we have forgotten who it was that died to redeem her.

Let none, therefore, be offended, but rather let all greatly rejoice, and glorify God on this behalf, when they find the affairs of the kingdoins and empires of the earth directed and disposed, by an unseen hand, in such a manner as may best comport with her interests, for whom the world itself was created and is preserved. Her foundations, as they are to last when the world is ended, so were they laid before it began,

as the Scriptures testify, whien they tell us that “ we " are saved and called according to the divine pur

pose, and grace given us in Christ Jesus before the " world began;" when they assure us, that God “ hath chosen us from the beginning;" when they style the Gospel “the everlasting covenant,” and Christ, “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the “ world.” Creation was posterior to the covenant of grace, and the first step in the execution of it. The world was enjoyed but for a little season by man in his state of innocence, and has ever since sympathized with him in the misery of his fall, but is still preserved as the scene on which the mighty work of his redemption is carrying on, until it be finally accomplished. At that day and hour cometh the end, When the fulness of the Gentiles shall be come in, and all the Israel of God shall be saved, the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat; the earth also, and the works that are therein, shall be burnt up.

Nor, indeed, can we proceed far in the sacred history, before we meet with an awful exemplification of this great truth, a stupendous prelude to that final destruction which awaits the world, and to that complete salvation which is then to be wrought for the church. When the earth was defiled by the abominations of its inhabitants, when the sins of men had burst the fountains of the great deep, and opened the windows of heaven, and called forth a deluge to cleanse her from her corruptions; when neither the riches of the wealthy, nor the power of the mighty, nor the wisdom of the wise, could save them a single

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