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own will, enjoyed only that glimmering light of divine truth which reason and tradition afforded, the nation of Israel were surrounded with the blaze of divine knowledge; for "God was in the midst of them;" the glory which was visibly displayed in Mount Zion, the seat in which he delighted to dwell, shed its irradiating beams, its enlightening, consoling, and protecting power, through every part of this highly favoured land.
How wonderful the condescension of the Lord of the universe! "Behold," said Moses to the children of Israel, "the heaven and the heaven of heavens is the Lord's thy God; the earth also, with all that therein is. Only the Lord had a delight in thy fathers to love them; and he chose their seed after them, even you above all people, as it is this day."
In the development of the inscrutable but gracious plans of God's providence, the Christian church succeeded to the consummation of all those privileges which had been bestowed on the Jewish Zion.
"Darkness covered the earth, and gross darkness the people:" led captive by their lusts, in subjection to sin and Satan, the human race were degraded by a bondage infinitely more severe and disgraceful than that which oppressed the Israelites in the land of Egypt. From this ignominious thraldom God hath delivered the Christian church, which is now the Zion of the Lord: and the redemption was achieved, not by the most distinguished human personage, not by the most exalted seraph that ministers at the altar of heaven,-but by him who was with God, who was God-the eternal and incarnate Son. The redemption also
was effected by sufferings the most poignant, and by victories the most exalted. The precious blood of the Almighty Deliverer dyed his celestial garments; infinite in efficacy, it quenched the wrath which had been kindled against a guilty world.
It is of the great multitude of his redeemed that Jesus Christ now reigns the almighty and victorious King; and the members of his mystical body the church, which he loved, and for which he gave himself, derive from the enlightening word, the evangelical worship, and the divine ordinances of the Christian sanctuary, mercy, grace, and salvation. God is now in the midst of the Christian Zion: his glory encircling her, dispenses to her light, consolation, protection, everlasting felicity.
Infinite condescension in that Almighty Lord who holds the sceptre of the universe, to distinguish with the rich blessings of mercy and favour his chosen people, the members of the church. which his eternal Son redeemed.
Professing Christians, members of this church, on whom has shone this light of salvation, of which many of the nations are yet destitute, the emotions of gratitude cannot be too ardent to that Almighty Lord who bestows upon you these distinguished mercies. Let not the murmurs of presumption arraign the goodness of the Sovereign of the universe in confining to a portion of mankind the knowledge of his revealed will, and the overtures of his mercy and grace in his Son Jesus Christ. By the creatures whom he has made, by the sinners who have rebelled against him, all his favours must be unmerited. He who, like the potter, has power over the clay, to make one vessel to honour and another to dishonour, may distribute his spiVOL. II.
ritual like his temporal blessings, when, and where, and how he pleases. But it is the rule of his justice, it is the declaration of his mercy, that he judges his accountable creatures according to what they have, and not according to what they have not; and that therefore, in every nation destitute of Gospel light, they that fear God and work righteousness according to the knowledge and ability which they have received, will be accepted by that just and merciful Being who is no respecter of persons. Through the merits of that great sacrifice which was offered for the sins of the whole world, the intercession of him who tasted death for every man, the sincere and honest services of those who never heard of the Saviour's name will be rewarded with degrees of felicity suited to their attainments, in that house in which are many mansions, in that firmament where one star differeth from another star in glory.
But how inestimable the privileges which we enjoy, as members of the Christian Zion, in that glorious light of God's revelation by his Son Jesus Christ, which dispels the gloom and quiets the fears of erring reason, and guiding us here to superior virtue, conducts us to more exalted felicity in the kingdom of heaven! What fervours of devout, humble, and holy gratitude should be offered to the Sovereign Lord of the universe, who hath fixed among us the habitation of his holiness, the church, which his presence animates, which his word enlightens, which his ministry and ordinances quicken and purify, which the Spirit of truth and of grace sanctifies and consoles! But,
"Who shall ascend into this hill of the Lord? or who shall rise up in his holy place?"
Who can be considered as faithful members of the church on earth, worthy to be admitted to the richer and immortal glories that crown the church triumphant?
"He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; and that hath not lift up his mind unto vanity, nor sworn to deceive his neighbour. He shall receive the blessing from the Lord, and righteousness from the God of his salvation. This is the generation of them that seek him; even of them that seek thy face, O Jacob."
2. The qualifications of devout members of the church-the necessity of vital universal holiness to qualify his people for the enjoyment of the blessings of his favour, and the everlasting glories of his presence, are expressed in these verses, and is another truth set forth in this psalm.
Holiness, which, seated in the heart, and purifying and animating all its faculties and affections, controls and regulates the whole conduct, is an essential qualification of the members of Christ's church; it is that cardinal point towards which all its institutions and ordinances tend. That the church may be holy, the Redeemer cleanses it by his purifying blood; that the church may be holy, he illuminates it by his divine word; that the church may be holy, he sanctifies it by his renovating Spirit. To quicken its members from the death of sin to the life of righteousness, its divine Head imposes on them, in the initiatory sacrament of baptism, the most awful and affecting vows-binding them to the subjugation of all the passions of corrupt nature, to the acquisition of all the virtues of the new man in Christ Jesus; and he again imposes
on them these holy vows, in the apostolic ordinance of the laying on of hands. To excite and nourish its members in holiness, he subjects them to the instructions and the worship of the sanctuary, where their souls are humbled under a sense of sin, urged to the entire renunciation of its unhallowed dominion, and raised, in vigorous faith, love, and devotion, to the contemplation and supreme pursuit of all the virtues that assimilate them to the holy Being whose glory is unvailed before them, and at whose throne they are prostrate, and to the practice of whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are lovely and of good report. To quicken in its members that immortal seed which will spring up and bring forth the fruits of piety and virtue, he, the divine Restorer of the soul, waters it by his lifegiving blood, and strengthens and supports it by his spiritual and invigorating body; demanding and accepting the presentation of the whole man a living sacrifice to him-requiring and receiving the solemn pledge to abound in all those good works which he hath prepared his faithful members to walk in.
To remain then in error when these sacred lights are shed around us; to cleave to the world, and its sensual passions, and its sensual enjoyments, when the most solemn obligations, the most powerful aids, the most persuasive motives call on us to renounce them; to remain in subjection to sin, in thraldom to the great adversary of God and holiness, when the powerful grace of the Redeemer hath begotten us to the means of the most exalted virtue, to celestial and immortal hopes, is to display the most perverse folly, and the most criminal