Imatges de pàgina
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the Son of God should assume a body of flesh, and should encounter suffering and death. The privileges and the glory of this spiritual Zion were typically displayed in the privileges and glory of the temple on Mount Zion, and were the splendid theme which occupied the joyful strains of the prophets. In the fulness of time, the church is built on the foundation of apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner-stone. This church is cleansed by the blood of the Son of God, and sanctified by his Spirit. She is all-glorious within, enjoying the light of divine truth, the knowledge of God's will, the messages of his salvation, the comforts of his grace, the joy of his holy promises. "Her clothing is of wrought gold;" her services and ordinances are arranged in order and beauty they convey pardon to the penitent, grace to the weak, consolation to the afflicted, holiness and joy to her faithful members. This daughter of Zion, protected and blessed by God her Saviour, sustained the shock of persecution: she rose more pure and glorious from the sea of suffering which threatened to overwhelm her, and received kings for her nursing fathers, and queens for her nursing mothers, enjoying the riches of the Gentiles. She sustained a shock more dangerous than the assaults of persecution, from the charms of worldly ease, splendour, and prosperity. Though for a while relaxing in the ardour of her faith and the strictness of her obedience, and partially enveloped in the shades of ignorance, idolatry, and superstition, she at length aroused from her slumbers, and emerged from the night of papal darkness and corruption into the light and purity of primitive truth and order. This is the Lord's doing; let it VOL. II. 34

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be marvellous in our eyes. Verily God has been gracious unto Zion: the glory of the Lord has risen upon her: let us rejoice and be glad.

2. But especially we should be penetrated with gratitude that God has extended to us the blessings of his kingdom, the privileges of his Zion.

Salvation did not only come to God's people of old-Christ is not only the hope of Israel-he is manifested as a light to lighten the Gentiles, and is come for salvation to the ends of the earth. This Sun of Righteousness is to run a course as extensive as the sun of the firmament; but he is to diffuse infinitely brighter light, and infinitely more joyous splendour. In the unsearchable counsels of him who, ordering all things according to his own will, orders all things in infinite wisdom and goodness, the time has not yet come, the command has not yet gone forth, and the Sun of Righteousness has not yet penetrated with his healing beams every benighted corner of the earth. Many are the nations which still sit in darkness and the shadow of death. We have cause therefore for the most devout and lively gratitude, that we are among those favoured nations of the Gentiles who have come to the light of the Sun of Righteousness. While many nations are bowing in superstitious and ignorant worship to dumb idols, the work of their own hands, and propitiating, by the homage of human victims, the altars of a sanguinary Moloch, we are worshipping the Father of our spirits in spirit and in truth, and drawing near to him with holy confidence and affection, by that precious blood which speaketh peace.

3. Great then, brethren, is the obligation upon us diligently to improve our spiritual privileges. There is a maxim of reason and of justice—and it is a maxim uttered by him who is finally to sit in judgment upon us" Of those to whom much is given, much will be required." In regard to those to whom little is given-those who enjoy only the feeble lights of natural reason, conscience, and tradition-the requisitions of the merciful Judge of all will be abated; their wickedness and crimes will be punished with few stripes; their piety and virtue, debased as it may be by superstition, will yet be accepted, doubtless, so far as to admit them among the least in the kingdom of heaven, in that house where there are many mansions. But of us, to whom much is given, much will be required. To us are given the word of God, its instructions, its threats, its promises--the ministry of reconciliation, their exhortations, their warnings, their invitations-the ordinances of the church, which dispense illumination, sanctification, comfort, and offer us a title to heaven. Oh! what will be our guilt, what ought to be our condemnation, if these privileges are abused or neglected! Let it not be our condemnation, that "light has come into the world, and that we have chosen darkness rather than light, because our deeds are evil." Let us remember the condemnation of the unprofitable servant, who hid and neglected the talent committed to him.

See then, brethren, "admitted into the fellowship of Christ's religion," that (to use the excellent language of the church) you "avoid all those things which are contrary to your holy profession, and follow after such things as are agreeable to the

same;" that having "the hope of being the sons of God and heirs of eternal life" through Jesus Christ, you may purify yourselves, even as he is pure." Then, though you may not behold the future glory of the church on earth, you shall most assuredly behold the glory of the church triumphant in heaven; and now "knowing God by faith, shall, after this life, have the fruition of his glorious Godhead."

4. Blessed, indeed, will they be who shall see those days, when the glory of the Lord shall arise in full splendour upon Zion, and all the gracious predictions concerning her be fully accomplished -when "the abundance of the sea shall be converted unto her, and the forces of the Gentiles come unto her;" when "violence shall no more be heard in her land, wasting nor destruction within her borders; but her walls shall be Salvation, and her gates Praise."

But more blessed will they be, who, through a holy faith and obedience, shall obtain an admittance into that celestial Zion, whose people "are all righteous, inheriting the land for ever;" that city which has "no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it; for the glory of the Lord doth lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof."

But, my brethren, it would display a coldness and hardness of heart utterly incompatible with the feelings of gratitude for the spiritual privileges which we enjoy, and would prove our utter unworthiness of these privileges, if we were insensible to the duty of extending them to those who are destitute of them. It is the impulse of gratitude, it is the dictate of benevolence, it is the command

of God, that we make provision for the wants of our fellow-men; and that we labour in our several vocations, and according to our several opportunities, to promote his glory and the salvation of mankind, by advancing in the world the kingdom of his dear Son. In this way only can we contribute to the highest interests of man in this life-to his still higher felicity in the life to come: in this way only can we enjoy the reward of turning many to righteousness, and become the happy instruments of contributing to usher in those glorious days, when" the knowledge of God shall cover the earth, as the waters cover the sea;" and when, "from the rising of the sun even to the going down of the same, his name shall be great among the heathen; and in every place incense shall be offered unto his name, and a pure offering."

We of this church, and of these congregations, have loud calls upon us for these labours of Christian benevolence. Many of our congregations in different parts of the state are, from various causes, in a destitute and suffering condition-deprived of the stated services of a clergyman, and unable to support a stated ministry. Many, too, are the members of our church, who, in remote districts of the state, are "scattered," like ancient Israel,

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upon the mountains," and are "as sheep that have no shepherd." Accustomed in the old settlements, from which they have removed, to the stated services of our church, their present destitute condition is rendered more painful by the remembrance of the days which are past, when they went to the house of God with such as kept holy-day. No longer do they hear the joyful invitation"Come, let us go into the house of the Lord;"

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