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upon the earth ?” Rey. vi. 10. I wish it be not too applicable to the case in hand.
I might tell you further, if time and the season had allowed, that the tabernacle David is in a fallen and ruinous condition, when Christ the prophet, priest, and king of the tabernacle is fighted and undervalued; when he is not entertained by faith, and employed in all his saving offices, according to the offer of the gospel. And this is a charge that falls upon you who are the people. O how few do receive Christ by a faith of God's operation! although all be called Chriftians, yet how few have any thing of the spirit of Christ ! and how few do walk even as he walked ! Tabernacle worshippers and profeffors should be holy, as he that hath called them is holy; but, alas ! what untenderness of walk and talk is there among the generality! These and many other things that might be insisted upon, plainly declare, that the tabernacle of David among us is in a fallen and ruinous condition. ;'
III. The third thing proposed was, to inquire how is it that God raises up his tabernacle when it is fallen. I answer, in general, That adorable sovereignty is not to be limited to any particular way of working ; for by a word speaking, he can plant the heavens, and lay the foundations of the earth. If he say to Jerusalem, “ Thou shalt be built," and to the temple, " Thy foundations shall be laid," presently it is done, a nation, if he has a mind, can be born unto him at once. But in his ordinary way of working, some of his steps may be observed; as,.. · J. He uses, in a time of defection, to raise up witnesses to bear testimony against the corruptions and mismanagements of men about his tabernacle. Thus, Rev. xi. before the temple of God is opened in heaven, witnesses are raised up to tor. ment the men that dwell upon the earth; the evidence of truth brought forth by the witnesses, has a tormenting power with it upon the consciences of corrupt men; it pierces to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow : and sometimes their corruptions are so irritate by the truth, that, like swine, they turn about and rent and kill the witnesses, casting out their bodies to the open streets, as we fee, Rev. xi. The tabernacle of David has been preserved in all ages, and in our ownlland particularly, by the testimony of witnesses: and it is something of a bright spot in our dark cloud at this day, that God has not left himself altogether without witnesses: and it is pretty well known, how some have been cast out and their names torn both by unsound ministers and profeffors; and it is hard to tell but their carcases, ere all be done, may yet be cast out as dung in the streets.
2. The Lord puts it in the hearts of his people and mini. steri, to take pleasure in the stones and rubbish of his fallen tabernacle, and to mourn and Jament over their own fins, and the tokens of the Lord's anger that have gone out against them. We fee the church, Pfal. cii. in the roth or rith verse, is lamenting over her ruinous condition, and God's departure from her; and fee what follows upon this, ver. 13. 14. 16. 17. " Thou shalt arise, and have mercy upon Zion : for the time to favour her, yea, the fet time is come. For thy servants take pleasure in her stones, and favour the dult thereof. When the Lord fhall build up Zion, he shall appear in his glory. He will regard the prayer of the destitute, and not defpise their prayer.” The same we see also, Zech. xii. 10. to the close; the Spirit of grace, fupplication, and mourning, is poured out, and every family and house mourns and wrestles apart; and see what a glorious reformation follows upon the back of this, chap. xiii. the fountain of divine grace is opened, fin and uncleanness is washed away, the names of the idols of the land are cut off, the false prophet and unclean spirits are cast out of the land, false prophets are afhamed, neither are they allowed to wear a rough garment to deceive.
3. The Lord polishes and prepares some shafts for tabernacle work and service, as he did Bezaleel and Aboliab, for rearing the tabernacle, and all manner of work about the tabernacle in the wilderness. When God was to raise up a New Testament church, he gives apostles, prophets, paltors, and teachers, for edifying his body: by the ministry of a few fishermen, whom he endues with gifts and grace, he overthrows the idolatries of the nations, and unhinges the Mosaic economy, and rears up a glorious tabernacle for himself; and observe, the weapon made use of was, the preaching of a crucified Christ to be the only Saviour of a loft world, which, though it was “ to the Jews a Itumbling block, and to the Greeks foolishness," yet proved "s the power of God to falvation."
4. His tabernacle is raised up by a plentiful down-pouring of his Spirit. Hof. xiv. when the Lord is “ as the dew unto Israel, then he revives as the corn, and grows as the vine, and his scent is as the wine of Lebanon. Ezek. xxxvii. when the church is become like the dry bones in the valley, by the wind of the Spirit the dry bones are made to live, and become a great army to fight the battles of the Lord. For as low as the interest of Chrilt is, he can levy a great army for carrying on reformation by the very wind of his mouth. By the rushing of a migbty wind in the day of Pentecost, the foundation of the New Testament church was laid in the ministry of the
oples, and multitudes daily added to her. O then let us cry, “ Awake, O north wind, come thou south, blow upon the garden" of this withered church, that she may live: “ Wilt thou not revive us again, that thy people may rejoice in thee?”
5. Sometimes he spirits great men, kings and nobles, to espouse the cause of his fallen tabernacle : thus he moves the spirit of Darius, Cyrus, and Artaxerxes, Heathen kings, to be active in rebuilding the temple of God. There is but little appearance of any relief to the church of Christ, from the great folks in our day; but the God of the tabernacle, he hath the hearts of kings, nobles, gentry, and commons in his hand, and he turns them as the rivers of waters; and as he has done this in former times, so his hand is not shortened. And there fore, let us pray for kings, and all that are in authority, that he may make them nursing fathers unto his church, so as to be active for bringing about reformation-work in Scotland, and throughout all Britain and Ireland, according to our solemn league and covenant.
6. Sometimes he rears up his fallen tabernacle in the very blood and sufferings of his witnesses. The foundation of God's tabernacle upon earth, was laid in the sufferings of the head ; and very frequently it is rebuilt and reformed, in a day of defection, at the expence of the blood of his members. Thus it has been in Scotland; the work of God comes floating to us in the blood of many of our worthy ancestors; and who knows, but we may be obliged to hand it down with our blood unto our pofterity? The same persecuting spirit is roaring at this day, that drank the blood of our forefathers, only it is chained up for a little; but how soon the chain may be lengthened, and the reins loosed, we know not; only let all who cleave to the Lord's testimony in Scotland, be ready to say with Paul, “ We are ready not to be bound only, but to die for the name of the Lord Jesus."
IV. The fourth thing in the method was, to offer fome thoughts anent the time or day of the Lord's building up the tabernacle of David. And all I say upon this head, shall be comprised in the few following particulars.
1. That it is a time which God hath kept in his own power, and therefore we should beware of diving with too much cu. riosity into it. Acts i. the disciples there, after Christ's resurrection, they ask him," Lord, wilt thou at this time restore the kingdom to Israel ?” Which was upon the matter all one as if they had said, “ Is this the time when the tabernacle of David is to be built up ? What answer gives he them? Why, although in a little time he was to lay the foundation of the New Testament church, and to build up the tabernacle of David in a glorious manner, yet he answers them, “ It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath kept in his own power;" only he would have them to go fast and pray, and confer together, and in that way to wait for the promise of the Spirit. And therefore, let us follow duty without limiting the holy One of Israel, and leave events and times to the Lord : “ Secret things belong unto the Lord, but things revealed to us and to our children.”
2. When men think the time at hand, and their expectations big, that now the Lord will build up his tabernacle, things frequently take quite another turn, and defeat all their hopes for that season. Thus lsrael, a little after they came out of Egypt, they were upon the borders of Canaan: and they imagined, that now was the time of the outmaking of the promise made to A. braham, that his feed should have it for an inheritance; and they could scarce be restrained from making the attempt immediately : Well, but their time was not God's time; they are sent back from the borders of God's sanctuary, to measure the hills and deserts of the wilderness for forty years, until the carcases of all that generation, except Caleb and Joshua, had dunged the wilderness; and then, when that is done, God's time of fulfilling his promise comes. And therefore let us beware of being too peremptory ; many a long look did the Old Testament saints give for the Messiah before he came, bus long looked-for came at last in the fulness of time.
3. God's time of building up his tabernacle is commonly when things are brought to the last extremity. This is clear in the text, when the tabernacle is fallen, broken, and ruined, In that day, faith the Lord, will I build up the tabernacle of David. When the case of the church appears desperate and hopeless, that is God's usual time of appearing; when the Lord's people are crying, “ By whom shall Jacob arise, for he is small ?" When there is no man, no intercessor, then his own arm brings salvation, and his righteousness and veracity it sustains him: Deut. xxxii. 36. “ The Lard will judge his people, and repent himself concerning his servants; when he feeth that their power (marg. their hand) is gone, and there is none shut up, or left."
4. God's time of building up his tabernacle is a day of ven. geance and vexation unto the wicked and ungodly world, who were crying, “ Raze, raze it unto the foundation.” The day of Christ's death, which was the day of our redemption by price, was the day of bruising Satan's head; and whenever Christ sets up his kingdom, Satan's kingdom and government falls down, his works are destroyed by the manifestation of
the Son of God; and this is tormenting to Satan, and all that are in his interest. The day of vengeance and the year of the redeemed; go commonly together in fcripture, Il. lxiii. 4. " The day of vengeance is in mine heart, and the year of my redeemed is come.” If. Ixi. when he proclaims the acceptable year of the church's release, he proclaims also the “ day of vengeance from our God." Jerusalem's rise is Babylon's ruin. And therefore we need not be surprised though a set of men of a malignant spirit have a jealous eye upon our meeting here this day; for they cannot hear tell of any effay toward a displaying of a banner for Christ, or a work of reformation, in opposition to their own wicked designs against the tabernacle of David.
5. However it be a day of vexation and vengeance to Zion's enemies; yet it is a day of joy and gladness unto all Zion's friends and well-wishers: Psal. cxxvi. 2. “ Then (viz. when the Lord turned back the captivity of Zion) was our mouth filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing." And ver. 3. “The Lord hath done great things for us: whereof we are, glad.” And if you ask me, What is it that makes it a day of joy to the friends of Zion, when the Lord builds up the tabernacle of David ? I answer, It cannot be otherwise, when we consider, (1.) That it is then a day of light : “ The people that fit in darkness, then see great light:" Particularly, the light of truth is brought forth unto victory over the darkness of er. ror. (2.) It is a day of much life and liveliness in the Lord's way and work. The Lord quickens the dry bones, and they call on his name ; he revive's them, and they rejoice in him; they “ revive as the corn, and grow as the vine." . (3.) It is a day of much fpiritual liberty. The Son makes them free, and they are free indeed. Chrilt, when he rears up the tabernacle of David, proclaims the year of release, « liberty 'tò captives, and the opening of the prison-doors to them that were bound.” (4.) It is a day of purging and planting the house of the Lord. He then purges his house of buyers and sellers, intruders and hirelings, and every plant that his right hand hath not planted ; and then he sends his people « pastors according to his own heart, whose feet are beautiful upon the mountains, because they preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things." When the Lord thus “ cloches his priests with salvation, then his faints shout aloud for joy." (5.) It is the day of Christ's marriage and coronation, wherein he betrothes his church unto himself for ever, and gets many new jewels added to his crown; and then the rights of his crown, and liberties of his kingdom, are asserted and maintained. Cant. ïïi. last, " Go forth, o ye daughters of . Vol. II. 3G