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to the same rights and privileges, and be in all respects treated as the same people. And especially those now under the gospel, are invited to come. Let them be who they will, they may come and join this people and be welcome. There is no wall of partition to separate this people from others, to exclude those of other nations. The gates of the new Jerusalem are always open, to receive all whose hearts incline them to come. And here consider,
First. There is no nation under so happy a government as this. The Lord Jesus Christ is their King, and he is a most glorious King. He is the eternal, and infinitely glorious Son of God. He is a most wise prince, he knows how to govern, he perfectly understands how best to promote the interest of his people. He is a most merciful and gracious King, who greatly loves his people, and most earnestly and faithfully seeks their interest. His people are redeemed with his own blood, and he will surely seek their welfare. And he is a most powerful prince. He is able to defend his people against all their enemies.
This nation is governed by most wise and righteous law's. As it was said of Israel of old, Deut. iv. 8. “What nation is there so great, that hath statutes and judgments so righteous as all this law which I set before you this day?” so and more eminent is it true of the spiritual Israel, since the law of God has been set forth to us in a far more clear and lovely light, by the rules and precepts of the gospel. The manner of Christ's government in the kingdom of his grace is most excellent, and different from that of all other kings; for he governs by the powerful influence of his Spirit upon the heart, whereby he sweetly inclines them to a willing and chosen subjection to him.
This nation is a free people. The happy government under which they live, is most consistent with freedom ; it does not in the least infringe upon the liberty of the subject, there is nothing like slavery in the kingdom of God. The law of this nation is a law of liberty. Those that are sinners, are slaves; they are slaves to their lusts, slaves to Satan, slaves to the cruellest of masters. But they whom the Son makes free, are free indeed. The subjects of the heavenly King are all as free under his government as a man's children are in their father's house. The government is a paternal government; the King looks upon all his subjects as children.
Under so happy a government are this nation. Be persuaded therefore to join yourself to them, and be of them. Ps. cxliv. 15. “ Happy is that people that is in such a case. Yea, happy is that people whose God is the Lord.” Ps. xxxiii. 12. “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord; and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance."
Secondly. There is no nation that dwell in such love avd peace as this holy nation enjoys. The happiness of a people very much
consists in its peace : a nation is never more miserable than when it is rent by civil wars, or disturbed by intestine broils. Nothing tends more to the happiness of the people than when they are all united as brethren, and with one heart seek the good of one another, and the community.
But no nation enjoys so much happiness of this kind as this holy nation. The Lord Jesus Christ, who is the King of this people, is the Prince of peace; his kingdom is a kingdom of peace. Every member of this society bas in his heart a principle of peace and love. Love is the bond of perfectness that unites the members of this society together. They all have a disposition heartily to seek and promote each other's good.
Thirdly. This nation have for their settled abode a most glorious land. The heavenly Canaan is their land, it is a land that God hath desired, and that he hath blessed above all lands. There is no land so fertile of excellent fruits, so full of delights. There grows the tree of life in plenty, there flows the river of the water of life. There is no curse, nothing that hurts or offends. This is a delightful garden, this is the Paradise of God, Hearken, therefore, consider of the blessedness of this people; is it not well to be one of them? I would now invite you in the name of Christ, as Moses invited his father-in-law to join himself to that nation. Numb. x. 29. " And Moses said unto Hobai), the son of Raguel the Midianite, Moses' father-in-law, We are journeying unto the place of which the Lord said, I will give it you: come thou with us, and we will do thee good; for the Lord hath spoken good concerning Israel."
2. Christians, as a nation, are Holy. Their holiness is relative, and it is also inherent.
First. Christians are a holy nation by a relative boliness, as they are set apart by God for a divine and holy use. So things are often called holy in scripture. The utensils of the tabernacle and temple are in this sense called holy; the priests' garments are called holy, the places of worship appointed of God in the old testament are called holy, because they were set apart by him for a holy use and service.
Things thus set apart are said to be sanctified. Thus Jeremiah is said to have been sanctified, before he came forth out of the womb. Jer. i. 5. “Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee, and before thon camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee; and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations." God sanctified, that is, God set him apart for this holy use and service, to be a prophet to the nations, as Paul says of himself, Gal, i. 15, “ But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb, and called me by his grace,'' So the people of Israel of old seem to be called an holy nation, Deut. vii, 6, “For
thou art an holy people unto the Lord thy God: the Lord thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth.” Not that they were a holy people by inherent holiness, for God often tells them that they are a stiff-necked people. But God had called and separated them from other nations to be the keepers of the sacred oracles, and for other purposes. So the saints are a nation that God has set apart for a sacred
He hath set them apart to serve and glorify him, and 10 show forth his praise; to be vessels for their Master's use, to see the manifestations of God's glory, and eternally to ascribe the glory due to his name.
Secondly. They are holy by inherent holiness,
1. True Christians are God's peculiar people with respect to the value which he sets upon them. He values one true Christian more than all the wicked in the world. God puts a high value upon his saints; they are bis jewels. God's high value of them appears in all the ways wherein persons are wont to show the great regard which they have for any possession. God keeps them as the apple of his eye, he will by no means lose one of his saints, not one of all the number shall fail, he will suffer no one to do them harm, his almighty power is thoroughly engaged for them to defend them.
The life, tlie happiness, and the welfare of the saints are precious in God's sight. He shows the higher value that he sets upon the godly than others, by giving the wicked for them, mak, ing them subservient to them, and destroying them when they stand in the way of the welfare of the godly. Prov. xxi. 18. ".The wicked shall be a ransom for the righteous, and the trans, gressor for the upright.”!
Whenever the life or welfare of the wicked stands in the way of the welfare of the righteous, God is wont to procure the welfare of his people, though it be at the expense of the lives and welfare of never so many.
Prov. xi. 8. “The righteous is delivered out of trouble, and the wicked cometh in his stead.” Thus God manifested how much he valued the patriarchs. Though there
few of them, yet even kings were rebuked for their
Psalm cv. 12, 13, 14, 15. “When they were but a few men in number : yea, very few, and strangers in it. When they went from one nation to another, from one kingdom to another people. He suffered no mau to do them wrong; yea, he reproved
* These two heads are not filled up,
kings for their sakes; saying, Touch not mine anointed, and do my prophets no harm.” So he showed how he valued the children of Israel, in that he gave nations for them. Isai. xliii. 3, 4. “ For I am the Lord thy God, the holy one of Israel, thy Saviour; I gave Egypt for thy ransom, Ethiopia and Seba for thee. Since thou wast precious in my sight, thou hast been honourable, and I have loved thee: therefore will I give men for thee, and people for thy life.”
When the Egyptians stood in the way of the welfare of the church, God brought plagues upon them one after another, wherein he sorely distressed them. When their lives stood in the way, God destroyed all the first born of Egypt; and when Pharaoh and his host sought their destruction, he drowned them in the Red sea, and when the nations of Canaan stood in their way, God destroyed them; he destroyed many of them miraculously, by sending hail-stones from heaven upon them. God will sooner at one blow destroy all the wicked of the world than that one of his saints should be lost. There are many great men of the world, kings and princes, men of great power and policy, men of noble blood and honourable descent, men of great wealth, men of vast learning and knowledge in the world, that are honoured, and make a great figure, and great account is made of them in the world, who are wicked men and reprobates, and they all are not of so great value in God's sight as one true Christian, however humble his birth and low his standing; however poor, or ignorant, or unknown.
God has shown how highly he values his saints by several remarkable providences. He has often changed and intercepted the course of nature for their sakes. Nothing except God himself is more constant and unchangeable than the course and laws of nature ; but yet so much doth God value his saints, that he did not think the procuring of their welfare too slight an occasion for stopping the sun in his course.
But above all hath God shown how great a value he sets upon his saints, by the great price which he has paid for them, the blood of his own Son. God values every saint so highly that he bought him with the blood of his own dear Son. There is no price of gold or silver that can be compared with the price of the blood of Christ.
2. They are his peculiar people with respect to the mercy that he bestows upon them. God bestows many mercies upon ungodly men; he is kind to the evil and the good, to the just and the unjust
. He is good to wicked men in preserving their lives, in providing for their subsistence, and in giving them many comforts. Wicked men receive a great deal of goodness from God which they have cause to admire, and be thankful for every day, and but few live any considerable time who are not the subjects of special influences of God's goodness to them in deliverance from trouble and danger. He heaps temporal good things upon them, he gives them wealth, and ease, and honour, and great prosperity. He distributes the world among them, and they show their great ingratitude in that, notwithstanding all God's bounty to them, they will not learn righteousness. Isaiah xxvi. 10. “Jet favour be showed to the wicked, yet will be not learn righteousness : in the land of uprightness will he deal unjustly, and will not behold the majesty of the Lord.” Thus Samuel reproves Saul for his great ingratitude, that he took no more notice of the great kindness of God to him. 1 Sam. xv. 17. “ And Samuel said, when thou wast little in thine own sight, wast not thou made the head of the tribes of Israel, and the Lord anointed thee king over Israel?” So there are many other wicked men that are advanced to the state of princes and nobles.
But God bestows more goodness upon one godly man ihan upon all the ungodly in the world. Put all their preservations, all their deliverances, all their wealth, all their comforts that have been heaped upon them by providence together, those things are but trifles that God bestows on ungodly men ; but they are peculiar blessings which he bestows on the righteous, they are precious things that God has in reserve for his own favourites, in comparison of which all earthly treasure is but dirt and dross. As for the saints, Christ has died for them, they have all their sins pardoned, they are delivered from a hell of eternal misery, they have a title to eternal life bestowed upon them, they have God's own image conferred on them, they are received into favour, and will enjoy God's everlasting love.
3. They are God's peculiar people with respect to the interest which he has in them. God has a peculiar interest in godly men; they are his peculiar property, they are his as they are redeemed by him, and as they have given themselves to him. God has an interest in godly inen's hearts, they have a true love and respect to him; they have true honour to him. God has a greater interest in their hearts than any thing else, greater than the dearest friend on earth, greater than the world or any earthly enjoyment. They prefer God before all other things, they preserve the throne of their hearts for God, they are of a spirit to exalt bim as the greatest and highest, to love him as the most excellent, to praise him as the most gracious and merciful.
God has no interest in the hearts of natural men. Many of them seem to show respect to him outwardly. The Pharisees of old pretended to an extraordinary devotion, to a great love to God. And many hypocrites in these times come before God as his people come, they seem as though they delighted to draw near to