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the d.rk places of the earth, soil of the habitations of horrid cruelty. Now, this reflation hangs upon the nail listened* a sure place; for Christ is the Alpha, and Christ .s the Omega of the whole scriptures. He is the glorious Author o it:. «« The onlv begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he hath revealed him," John L .8. It is only the Lion.>t the tribe of Judah that opens the book, and loose? the leven seals thereof. He is the subject matter of the scriptures, tor « to him bear all the prophets and apostles witness; «>ey are iast the record of God concerning Christ-, hence OT declares, John v. 39 « These are they which testify of me. He is the end of the scriptures -, they are pointed to him, as tne needle in the compass points to the pole star ; the very dehgn and end of the Bible is, what the star in the hearens was to the wife men of the east, to shew them where Jesus the King of the Jews is to be found, John xx. ult. " These things are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Chnit tne Son of God, and that believing ye might have life through his
3. A faithful ministry is the gloTy of a church; for where these are wanting, the house of God is turned into a den ot thieves, and grievous wolves, that plunder the house instead of preserving or defending it. Faithful ministers are the watchmen, that give warning when the house is in danger by invading enemies ; they are the stewards that dispense the bread ot life unto the children os the f.miiy: they ?.re the lights ot the house, which are not to be under a bushel, but upon the candlesticks, that they may scatter the light through the house, for the benefit of the whole : hence they are called ifo glory cj Christ; much more are they the elory of the church. Now this glory hangs on the nail fastened in a suTf p!ace, for it is he that gives the church pistors according to his heart, to feed nil people with found wisdom, Jer. iii. 15. and Eph. iv. 11.—'3 V When he ascended up on hijih, he gave some, apostles, pro* pheis. evangelists, pastors, and teachers, for the edifying 0 the body." They have their commission from him; for " n< man taketh this honour unto himself, bu; he that is called c God, as was Aaron." They have their furniture for worl and warfare from him, and he semis none a warefare upol their own charges; it is he that puts the treasure in earthet vessels. They have their success" from him -, he makes then able as well as successful ministers of the New Testament he teaches them to be fishers of men; and Paul himself ma plant, and Appollos water, but he gives the increase. He i I3 who crests the fruit of the lips, and gives the tonsue of th Jearned. n
4. The ordinances of the gospel, dispensed in purity by faithful ministers of Christ, are the glory of a church. These are " the gates of Zion, which God love9 more than all the dwellings of Jacob }" these arc God's tabernacles, which David knew to be so amiable, that he envied the sparrows and swallows that had access there, while he was excluded from art. tiding them, Psal. lxxxiv. 3. and xxvii. 4. It is in the ordinances of the gospel that the saints enjoy fellowship with God, and receive communications of his grace; hence compared to fads that afford water to the weary traveller, and -wells out of which they draw water with joy, and breasts at which the babes of grace are suckled. Well, all the ordinances of the gospel hang upon the great Manager, such as word and sacrament, prayer and praise. The preaching of the word is of his appointment, Mark xvi. 15. "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature." Our authority to baptize is from him, Matth. xxviii. at the close, " Go teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." The sacrament of the Lord's sapper carries evidently his stamp, " What I have received of the Lord, that do I deliver unto you," 1 Cor. xi. 23. &c. And as they are of his inltitution, so it is he, by his own presence, and the influence of his Spirit in them, and with them, who gives them their success and sweetness. Through him it is that these ivory palaces smell of myrrh, alors, and casfia, whereby he and his people are made glad. He fills the pools with water, by causing the rain to come down, even the former and latter rain of his quickening and comforting influences; and without him these ordinances are but as dry breasts, and miscarrying wombs.
5. The judicatories of a church, higher and lower, constitute in his name, and moulded according to his .lppoinrment, for the government and for the exercise of the keys of discipline ; these I fay, are the glory of a church, for these are " the thrones of judgement, the thrones of the house os David." ^hen these courts, constitute in the name of the King of Zion, proceed in their management with an eye to the honour of Zion's King, and according to that complete system of laws that he has given in his word, then it is that a church "look? forth as the morning, fair as the moon, clear as the fun, and terrible as an army with banners," unto all ignorant, erroneous, or scandalous persons ; and her very enemies are obliged to fay of her, as Balaam hid of Israel, " How goodly «e thy tents, O Jacob !" &c. Now, all this glory hangs upon the nail fastened in a sure place, for he alone- is King in Zion, tie government is upon his shoulders. He it is that gives the
keys of the kingdom of heaven unto his osssice-bearers, and promises that " what they bind on earth, fhall be bound in heaven ; and what they loose on earth, fhall be loofed in heaven;" and where they assemble in courts for difcipline, he " will be in the midst of them."
6. The covenants of a church are her glory; God's covenant of grace and promise, and their covenants of duty and gratitude. Rom. ix. 4. it is laid of the Old Testament church '' To them belonged the adoption, the glory, and the covenants." God's covenant of grace and promife is the glory of a church. It was the misery of the poor Gentiles under the Old Testament, before the coining of Christ, that they were "strangers to the covenants of promise." This is the church's charttr for all her immunities and privileges, visible or invisible, for the life that now is, and that which is to come: and it is " an everlasting covenant, well ordered in all things and fure:" and him that takes hold of this covenant, "even him will God bring to his holy mountain, and make joyful in his house of prayer, If. Ivi. Now, this covenant hangs upon Christ, the nail fastened in a fure place ; for God has " given him for a covenant unto the people ;" it was made with him as a fecond Adam, and with his seed in him; lie has fulsilled the condition of it, by the holinefs of his nature, the obediem.e of his life, and the fatisfaction made by his death; his fulsilling the commands and demands of the broken covenant of works, is the very condition of the covenant of grace, and by virtue of his doing fo the cry comes out, If. Iv. 1. " Ho, every one that thirfeeth, come ye to the waters; he that hath no monty, let him him come; come, buy wine and milk without money, and without price." The covenant, and all the blessings and promifes of it, hang upon this blefsed nail; they are all in him, and "in him yea and amen."
Again,.our covenants for duty, obedience, and gratitude, they hang upon this blefsed nail. These are the glory of a church and land, as they were unto th,; church of Ifrael. God avouched them to be his peculiar people, and they avouched him, by folemn covenant, to be their God; on which ac* count they are called Hepbzibah, and Beulah; a people married to the Lord. This was the glory of this land, and of the three nations, though persidioufly broken, burnt, and buried. Blessed be God there is fome fmall degiee of a refurrection of theft folemn covenants, by what has been lately tranfacted in. this place.
But now, I fay, the glory of all our covenants, and engagements unto perfonal or public reformation and obedience,
mult must needs hang upon this nail fastened in a sure place. When men engage to duty in a legal way, in the strength of their own covenants, vows, promises, and resolutions, without fastening faith's gripes upon the nail in a sure place, for righteousness and strength, they do only make to themselves ropes of sand, that will fall asunder as fast as they can make them. Christ only is " the strength of Israel;" all our funds of grace lie in him, *• in whom it has pleased the Father that all fulness should dwell." And whatever duty we engage to should be in the strength of promised grace for assistance, and in the faith of his righteousness and intercession for acceptance: If. sir.24. "Surely, shall one fay, In the Lord have I righteousness and strength. I will go (fays David) in the strength of the lord God : 1 will make mention of thy righteousness, even of thine only." And it is in this way that his commandments are not grievous, his yoke easy, and his burden light.
7. The multitude of real converts is the glory of a church; for they are called "a crown of glory in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of our God." It is spoken of as the glory of Zion, that "this man and that man was born there," for then «' the Highest himselfdoth establish her;" and it is prophesied and foretold of the New Testament church, 'liat "more should be the children of the desolate, than of the flurried woman; that a willing people fliall be made in the day of his power;" and that these should be "like the drops of dew from the womb of the morning; that the city shall i'ourish like the grass" for multitude of converts* Well, this ?!ory of the church hangs upon Christ ; for it is'by the rod of his power that this is effected and brought about; of his own will he begets us by the word of grace. And when he ftiku us fishers of men, and directs us when and where to let down the net, a multitude of fishes are inclosed ; a seed is begot to serve him, which ihall be counted to him for a generation, who shall declare his righteousness to a people wno are aot yet born.
8- The purity, holiness, and faithfulness of church memhets is the glory of a church, when that motto is written upon t!i: conversation, walk, and talk of professors, "Holiness to <ix Lord." Well, this glory of the church hangs upon this -I'fTtd nail; for it is by virtue of their union with him, the '"ing root and head of influences, that they derive sanctifying ■riucnce from him ; for except we abide in him, and h: in u?, *'• cannot bring forth much fruit; yea, without him we can M nothing. "I am (fays the Lord) like a green fir tree, from rne is thy fruit found." Let men talk of their moral 'Jines a* they have a mind, they will make never a fcint, or a
holy holy peison, until he be lopt off from the first Adam, and his covenant of works, and be planted in Christ by regenerating grace: for "can a man gather grapes of thorns, or figs of tliistlts?" The tree must be made good, otherwise no good fruit can be expected. It is only they that are planted in the house of the Lord, by regenerating grace, that stiall flourish in the courts of our God, and be called the trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, in whom he will be glorified.
Thus you fee that the whole glory of the house of God hangs upon the nail fastened in a sure place.
I thought to have proceeded to inquire who are the offspring and issue of the house of God; and how they, and all that cencerns them, do hang upon the nail fastened in a sure place. But this I must refer to another occasion.
Allow me only to deduce an inference or two from what has been said.
1. See hence that the church of Christ is the most dignified and honourable society in the world, that has so much of the divine glory in her. "Glorious things are spoken of thee, O city of God!" She has a glorious King in the midst of her, even " the holy One of Israel, the King of glory, the Lord of glory, the Prince of the kings of the earth.'' She has glorious walls: "Salvation is appointed for walls and bulwarks," If. xxvi. 1. Psol. xlviii. A glorious river to defend and refresh her : Is. xxxiii 21. " The glorious Lord shall be unto her a place of broad rivers and streams," &c. A glorious trade and traffic: Phil. iii. 20. "Our conversation is in heaven," or, our traffic is with the land afar off. Glorious riches and treasures are in this house, even " the unsearchable riches of Christ;" glorious immunities and privileges, freedom from sin, the law, Satan, the world, death, and hell 3 and all the true inhabitants have an interest in the city's stock, free access to the King's throne, and to all the blessings of the covenant.
z. See whence it is that God exercises such a care about his church, that he rides in the heavens for her help, and turns a^out the whole wheels of providence for her benefit. Why, his. glory is there: If. xlvi. ultv " I have placed salvation in Zion for Israel my glory."
3. See hence how much it is our concern to contend for the house of our God, against all those that would spoil her. Why, God's glory, and our glory, is in the house. And theresore let us plead with God, that glory may still dwell in our land, and that he may create upon our Zion, and her assemblies, a cloud by day, and the lhining of a flaming fire by 1 night';