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sion of Christianity may be very general, as during the extensive prevalence of Popery, and yet very little addition made to the invisible kingdom. But where truth prevails over ignorance and error: where all gospel institutions are observed in ther purity; and the visible church enlarged by these means, a proportionate addition may be expected to be made to the invisible church; this is the design of all her ordinances. The Apostles were to make disciples of all nations by preaching the word, and dispensing the sacraments.
But whatever success attends her ordinances, and whatever accession is made to her by them, must be ascribed to her Lord. The dispensation of all ordinances is committed to her, and the success remains with him, who, for that end, promised to be with his disciples to the end of the world. To him Paul ascribed his success. “ I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave
the increase. So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth ; but God that giveth the increase." i Cor iii. 6, 7. He brings home the law to the sinner, and fixes the charge of guilt deep in the conscience, making him cry out, 6 What shall I do to be saved." He illuminates his mind, and leads him to a discovery of Christ as a suitable Saviour; at the same time working faith, by means of the word to receive him. Thus he opens an effectual door. The church is often represented as the spouse of Christ, rendered fruitful by him, in the conversion of sinners. Her fruitfulness is the success of the gospel, and is often promised to her. “ Sing, o barren, thou that didst not bear; break forth into singing, cry aloud, thou that didst not tra. vail with child: for more are the, children of the desolate than the children of the married wife, saith the
LORD. Enlarge the place of thy tent--for thou shalt break forth on the right hand and on the left, and thy seed shalt inherit the Gentiles, and make the desolate cities to be inhabited.” Isaiah liv. 1-3. When Christ intends to spread his gospel he removes enemies, or restrains them; that they may not obstruct his work, in extending his kingdom. “ Thy children shall make haste; thy destroyers, and they that made thee
go forth of thee." chap. xlix. 17-22. When Antichrist shall be finally destroyed, the Jews introduced into the Christian church, and the fulness of the Gentiles brought in, all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of God. " When the LORD, with his sore, and great, and strong sword, shall punish leviathan the piercing serpent, even leviathan that crooked serpent; and shall slay the dragon that is in the sea: he shall cause them that come of Jacob to take root: Israel shall blossom and bud, and fill the face of the world with fruit." Isaiah xxvii. !,
Isaiah xxvii. 1, 6. The greatest part of the members of the visible church will then belong to the invisible. Her children shall be all rigit
God will then dwell“ in Zion, his holy mountain: then shall Jerusalem be holy, and there shall no stranger pass through her any more;” And " there shall be no more a Canaanite in the house of the LORD of hosts." Joel iii. 17. Zech. xiv. 21.
6. The Lord of the church will finally destroy all her enemies, and.cause her to triumph over thern.
WICKEDNESS has reached its height, when it directly attempts the ruin of the church, as it ihen offers the highest affront to God, and does the greatest injury to men. We need not, then, be surprised to find destruction awaiting all such as avow themselves the church's enemies. Her Lord keeps a watchful eye on
all such, and observes every part of their conduct, and every aggression and injury they attempt. “ The day of vengeance is in his heart.” He will not forget the oppression and persecution of his people; but determines to render a recompence to their enemies. The church has no reason to expect to escape their insolence, reproach and attacks; her Lord will have her to contend with them for a time, to display his power and grace in supporting her, and to render her delivery more remarkable. From the beginning, therefore, she hath gone through a scene of sufferings,
a scene of sufferings, of every kind. . As she has advanced in the world her enemies have ever fallen before her, though the victory often appeared decisively in their favour. Wherever grace came the dominion of sin was destroyed, never again to resume its power, and there also Satan's throne was overturned. When the believer dies his victory.over sin and Satan is complete, they are made his footstool, and the seed of the serpent can no more molest him. As the militant church gradually becomes triumphant, she rises superior to her enemies, and shall meet them no more. She has often had mighty adversaries to conflict with in the world, and has been long exposed to their insults ; she has, however, often seen their destruction.
She witnessed the ruin of Egypt, the destruction of Sennacherib's army, the downfal of Babylon, and she shall survive when her cruel Antichristian enemies shall be no
When the kings of the earth shall lament the overthrow of mystical Babylon, she shall exult with joy. “ Salvation, and glory, and honour, and power, unto the Lord our God: for true and righteous are his judgments; for he hath judged the great whore, which did corrupt the earth with her fornication, and hath avenged the blocd of his servants at her hand.”
Rev. xix. 1, 2. She has the faithful promises of her Lord that they shall all be destroyed.
“ The indignation of the Lord is upon all nations, and his fury upon all their armies : he hath utterly destroyed them, he hath delivered them to the slaughter. For it is the day of the Lord's vengeance, and the recompences for the controversy of Zion.” Isaiah xxxiv. 2, 8. see also chap. Ixiïi. and Rev. xix. Death also, the last ene. my, is to be destroyed. When wicked men have deliv. ered the saints into the hand of death they imagine their end is gained, and the saints destroyed. But death must yield up its prisoners, for“ Jesus must reign till he hath put all his enemies under his feet, and the last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.” Though their oppression, persecutions and trials are very great, they are able to exult at last, “ In all these things we are more than conquerors, through him that loved us.”
7. The church is raised to the highest honour and dignity by her Lord.
Her natural condition is exceedingly mean and des. picable. She is of low ignoble parentage. Thy birth and thy nativity is of the land of Canaan; thy father was an Amorite, and thy mother an Hittite."
father the devil." John X. 44. She is of a low grovelling disposition, a voluntary vassal of Satan, and enslaved by the most debasing lusts, wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked. By being connected with this Lord her condition is wonderfully changed; her mind is enobled and raised above the sordid pleasures of sin and the world; she is adorned with the richest artire, and jewels of inestimable value. 66 Her garments are of wrought gold.” Jesus clothes her with the robes of righteousness, and the garments of salvation; he
Ye are of
Ezek. xvi. 2.
communicates his Spirit to impart spiritual beauty to her soul, and make her all glorious within. Thus she appears as the king's daughter. By matching with Jesus she is raised to the rank of queen, the highest honour that can be conferred on creatures, She is stationed on the right hand of the king, beauti. fully adorned with the gold of Ophir, attended by her train of honourable women. She has the honour of dwelling continually in the presence of the king, sharing his divine love, and enjoying his highest esteem. “ Since thou wast precious in my sight, thou has been honourable, and I have loved thee." By him all her members are made" kings and priests unto God." They are indeed servants, but they are servants of high rank. Jesus is king and priest, and all his people must be so too, He is his Father's most honourable servant in these characters, and his subjects must serve next unto him in rank. Each of them will be raised, at last, to a participation of Christ's throne; when they shall have reached the summit of their glory. “ To him that overcometh will I give to sit with me on my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father on his throne." Rev. ii. 21.
When Jesus ascended, he entered into his glory, occupied the right hand of Majesty, and enjoys, for ever, the uninterrupted light of his Father's countenance; so his church shall be introduced into his palace, his Father's house, where she strall see his face, and have his name on her forehead. Thus the church of redeemed sinners will be raised to greater honour and dignity than the holy angels who never sinned. As they are wholly indebted to their Lord for all this, they ascribe to him all the
of it: “ Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, and hath made us kings