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the palms of his hands. continually before him; moment, nor suffer any have here a broad and sacred pledge, to be kept in mind by the people of God in all ages, and plead in their prayers, that he will foster and bless his church, and will employ his vigilence and his power to secure her safety, and advance her honours.
Thus should her walls be he would not forget her a foe to injure her. We
Thus is The church safe, and the people of God need have no apprehensions, nor weep a tear, but over their own transgressions, and the miseries of that multitude, who will not be persuaded to take sanctuary in her bosom. I shall argue the safety of the church, from the firmness and stability of the divine operations, From what God has already done for his church, What he is now doing, and What he has promised to do.
I. We assure ourselves, that the church is safe, From the firmness and stability of the divine operations. I now refer, not merely to the unchangeableness of God, which will lead him to pursue for ever that plan which his infinite wisdom devised; for that plan lies concealed from us; but to that uniform and steady course with which he has pursued every enterprise which his hands have begun. That he is of the same mind, and that none can turn him, is a thought full of comfort; but that he has finished every work which he took in hand, is a fact, which intelligences have witnessed, and one on which we may found our richest expectations.
The worlds which he began to build he finished. Not one was left half formed and motionless. Each he placed in its orbit, gave it light, and laws, and impulse. And ever since this first development of the divine stability, the wheels of Providence have rolled on with steady and settled course. What Omnipotence began, whether to create or to destroy, he rested not till he had accomplished.
When he had become incensed with our world, and purposed its desolation, with what a firm and steady step did he go on to achieve his purpose. Noah builds the ark, and God prepares the fountains, which, at his word, burst from their entrenchments to drown an impious generation.
How have suns kept their stations, and planets rolled in their orbits, by the steady pressure of the hand of God; by their revolutions measuring out the years of their own duration, and by their velocity urging on the amazing moment when they shall meet in dread concussion, and perish in the contact. How fixed their periods, their risings, their eclipses, their changes, and their transits, And while they roll, how uniform is the return of spring, summer, autumn and winter. How certain every law of matter, gravitation, attraction, reflection, &c. The very comet, so long considered lawless, how is it curbed and reined in its eccentric orbit, and never yet had power or permission to burn a single world.
How sure is the fulfilment of prophecy, Ages intervening cannot shake the certainty of its ac
complishment. Jesus bleeds on Calvary four thousand years subsequently to the promise which that event accomplishes. Cyrus is named in the page of prophecy more than two hundred years before his birth, and at the destined moment becomes the Lord's shepherd, collects the lost sheep of the house of Israel, and builds Jerusalem, The Jews, as prophets three thousand years ago foretold, are yet in exile. The weeping prophet, now at rest, still sees the family he loved peeled and scattered, and the soil that drank his tears, cursed for their sins; and confident that God is true, waits impatient the certain, but distant year of their redemption.
Wretches that dare his power, God will not disturb his plan to punish. The old world flourished one hundred and twenty years after heaven had cursed that guilty race. Sodom was a fertile valley long after the cry of its enormities had entered into the ears of the Lord of Sabbaoth. The Amorites. were allowed five hundred years to fill up the measure of their iniquity after God had pledged their land to Abram, although Israel wore away the intervening years in bondage. Many a murderer has been overtaken by the hand of justice, half a century past the time of the bloody deed. God will punish all the workers of iniquity, but he waits till the appointed moment. Like the monarch of the forest, he comes upon his enemies, conscious of his strength, with steady but dreadful steps. In his
movements there is neither frenzy, passion, nor haste. While his judgments linger, his enemies ask, “Where is the promise of his coming?" but let them know, that he has appeared, and descomfited many a foe; and the inference is that they must perish too. Whatever God begins, he finishes: no unseen embarrassment can turn his eye from his original purpose.
Now the argument is, that as God has begun to erect a church, he will act in this matter as in all others. If one of light character, a man given to change, had laid the foundation of some mansion, there would still be doubt whether it would ever receive its top-stone. But suppose his character exactly the reverse, and the moment he brakes the ground imagination sees the mansion finished : now only make God the builder and the argument is perfect. Whether we can trace his footsteps or not, he moves on to the accomplishment of his purpose with undeviating course. Every event, in aspect bright or dark, promotes the ultimate increase and establishment of his church. Or shall this be the only enterprise to which his wisdom, his power, or his grace, is inadequate? is inadequate? In this solitary instance shall he begin to build and not be able to finish? What would be thought of him in hell, if the mystical temple should never receive its top-stone? Its fires may go out, the worm may die, or some infernal genius bridge the gulph. Heaven too would lose all confidence in its King, and every harp be silent.
Thus before we examine the history of the church, or read the promises, if we believe that God ever had a church, we have the strongest possible presumptive evidence, that he will watch her interests, will feed the fires upon her altars, will bring her sons from far, and her daughters from the ends of the earth, and will never leave her, nor forsake her. "I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me."
II. Our expectations brighten when we see what God has done for his church. My first argument went to show, that if God had only laid the corner stone of this heavenly building, it would rise and be finished. We are now to view the building half erected, and from what has been done argue the certainty of its completion. The church has been under the fostering care of heaven too long to be abandoned now.
Let us retrace for a moment a few pages of her history, and we shall see that when the church was low, he raised her; when she was in danger, he saved her. Amid all the moral desolations of the old world, the church never became extinct. And he at length held the winds in his fist, and barred the fountains of the deep, till Noah could build the ark, and the church be housed from the storm.
How wonderful were his interpositions when the church was embodied in the family of Abraham! In redeeming her from Egyptian bondage how did he open upon that guilty land all the embrasures of