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10. A city is a place of pleafure and beauty, beyond all villages and country-cottages; fee what is faid of this city, the church of God, Pfal. xlviii. 2. "Beautiful for fituation, the joy of the whole earth is mount Zion.” Here alfo are to be heard the fongs of Zion; the joyful found, through the filver trumpet of the gospel.
2dly, Why is the church called the city of God? I answer,
that dwell in this city, have continual occafion of feeing the King in his beauty.
1. It may be called the city of God, because he dwells Gin it; God is in the midst of her, fays the verse following my text. The place where a man or woman dwells, cf is called their city; fo the town of Bethany is called, "The city, or town of Mary and Martha :" fo this is the city of God, becaufe he hath fixed his refidence there; "The Lord hath chofen Zion: this is my reft, here will I flay:" it is here the King of glory keeps his court; heit is the city of the great King, Pfalm xlviii. 2.
2. It is called the city of God, because he founded it, and built it. This is the answer that is given to the meffengers of the nations, The Lord bath founded Zion, Ifa. xiv. 32. He hath founded it in his eternal decree, laid the foundation of it in the covenant of redemption or grace, and he hath built it on the foundation of prophets. and apoftles, Jefus Chrift himself being the chief cornerftone; and fo it may be called the city of God.
3. It may be called the city of God, because it dethe rives all privileges and immunities from him. This city hath its magnalia, or great things, from him: all that it does enjoy was purchafed by the blood of Chrift, and came to the church by promife through him, in whom all the promises are Yea and Amen. Grace here, and glory hereafter, all are derived from God, as the fruits and effects of his free grace: therefore it may well be called the city of God.
4. It may be called his city, because he is the chief Ruler and Governor in the city. He is the fupreme Sovereign, that hath the chief command of it. He is the Legiflator here. Here he publishes his commands and. royal orders; and he will call all the citizens to an account.
of their obedience, for he will judge every man according to his works.
5. It is his city; because it is his property. He not only poffeffes it, founded it, privileges it, and governs it, but it is his own property; it belongs to him, and none other he hath a manifold claim to it. He gave a being to all citizens of the city; "He made them, and not they themfelves:" he made them as men, and he made them as believers: he redeemed them by his blood. And,
6. He draws the rent of it. There is a revenue of praise that he doth draw from them, more than all the reft of the world; "This people have I formed for myself, and they fhall fhew forth all my praife."--Upon all these accounts the church may well be called the city of God.
II. The next General Head propofed was, To fhew what are thefe fad times that put the city of God into confufion. There are fad times with reference to the church in general, and with reference to the people of God in particular.
ift, There are fome fad times with reference to the church in general, As,
1. It is a fad time when God's difpenfations twards his church and people feem to contradict his promife, to contradict their prayers, and to contradict their hope and expectation; to contradict their defires and wrestlings: when the knife of providence is, as it were, at the throat of Ifaac, at the throat of the promife and hope of his people.
2. It is a fad time when the church is oppreffed by the wicked, perfecuted for the fake of truth, and when the bufh is burning, and all in a flame; when he fhews his people hard things, and makes them drink the wine of aftonishment, Pfalm Ix. 3. When the enemy breaks in pieces his people, and afflicts his heritage, Pfalm xciv, 3. And when thefe afflictions are continued, and enemies make long their furrows, while, like plowers, they plow upon their back, Pfalm cxxix. 3.
3. It is a fad time when the Lord feems to difregard the prayer and cry of his people, and rather to be angry
at them; Pfal. Ixxx. 4. “O Lord of hofts, how long wilt thou be angry at the prayer of thy people! Lam. iii. 8.3 When I cry and fhout, he fhutteth out my prayer."Sometimes he feems inexorable, and will not grant the fuit of his fpecial favourites, when interceding in behalf of the church, even the fuit of a Noah, Daniel, and Job, the fuit of a Mofes and Samuel, &c.
4. It is a fad time in the city, when the Lord fuffers enemies within or without doors, to over-run all his own work, to pluck up the vine which his own right-hand hath planted, Pfalm 1xxx. 8,-16. To caft fire into the fanctuary, to pull down his carved work, as with axes and hammers, Pfalm lxxxiv. 4, 5, 6, 7. He that runs may read, that this is the fad cafe of the church in our day.
5. It is a fad time, when fin and error overflow all their banks, and run in upon the city, and when Satan's feat is in the midst of the city; Rev. ii. 13. "I know thee where thou dwelleft, even where Satan's feat is; and thou haft them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate." When in the church of Chrift there are that hold the doctrine of Arians, Atheists, Deists; the doctrine of Arminians, Socinians, Pelagians, and the like. Oh! but a finning time, wherein profanity abounds, and a time of error in doctrine is a fad time.
6. It is a fad time when faithful citizens and officers are removed, and few or none left to fill their room; when woful apoftafy takes place; when the courts of the city are corrupted; when feminaries of learning are defiled; and pulpits, and Sabbaths profaned; when Reformation is hated, inftead of being revived; and when the Spirit is reftrained, and nothing but barrennefs of the churches appear; few or no real converts to be feen. When there is both a fcarcity of faithful paftors, and paucity of found profeffors: when minifters are tinctured with loofe principles, and ftudy flourishing harangues, instead of powerful, evangelical, applicatory preaching when faints are become rare, Pfalm xii, 1. Ifa. lvii. 1. Jer. v. 1. Micah vii. 2.
2dly, There are fad times with reference to the people of God in particular.
1. It is a fad time with them, when the Lord hides his face from them; "Thou didst hide thy face, and I was troubled," Pfalm xxx. 7. When they are made to cry out, "How long wilt thou forget me! how long wilt thou hide thy face!" Pfalm xiii. 1.
2. It is a fad time, when the Lord contends with them, and yet doth not tell them wherefore, as it was with Job, when he faid, "Shew me wherefore thou contendeft with me."
3. It is a fad time with them, when God is a terror to them, and they are put to fay, "Lord, be not a terror unto me, Jer. xvii. 17. While I fuffer thy terrors, I am distracted."
4. It is a fad time with them, when they are in darknefs, when they walk in darkness, and have no light, Ifa. 1. 10. When encompaffed with the darkness of fears and doubts, and fad apprehenfions,
5. It is a fad time with them, when grace comes under a lamentable decay in their foul, and they are left to pine away in their iniquity: when inftead of tendernefs of heart, hardness of heart feizes them; Ifa, lxiii. 17. "O Lord, why haft thou made us to err from thy ways? and hardened our heart from thy fear?"
6. It is a fad time with them, when corruption pre. vails, and when the flaves and fervants come to ride upon horfes in their foul; and nothing to be heard but, "O wretched man that I am! who fhail deliver me from the body of this death?"-When temptations are throng, and inward hellish injections, tending to atheism, infidelity, blafphemy, and profanity, and many thorns in the flesh buffeting them.-When nothing is left but complaints of hardness, blindness, weakness, impotency, treachery, failings, fhort-comings, and the power of Corruptions and temptations.
III. The Third General Head propofed was, To fpeak of thefe fweet grounds of encouragement, that the church or city of God hath amidft thefe fad times, imported in the RIVER, the ftreams whereof do make glad the city of God. Here I fhall fhew what is the river; why God is
compared to a river; and touch at the nature of this gladness.
ft, What is the River that makes glad the city of God? I answer, God himself is the river, as in the following verfe, God is in the midft of her. "For my
1. God the Father is the river; Jer. ii. 13. people have committed two great evils; they have forfaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cifterns, broken cifterns, that can hold no water."
2. God the Son is the river, the fountain of falvation; Zech. xiii. 1. "In that day, there fhall be a fountain opened to the house of David, and the inhabitants of Jerufalem, for fin and for uncleannefs."
3. God the Spirit is the river; John vii. 38. " He that believeth on me, as the fcripture hath faid, out of his belly fhall flow rivers of living water.-John iv. 14. Whofoever drinketh the water that I fhall give him, shall never thirst; but the water that I fhall give him, fhall be in him a well of water fpringing up into everlasting life.” 2dly, What are the ftreams of this river?
Anfw. The perfections of God, the fulness of Christ, the operations of the Spirit; and these running in the channel of the covenant of promise.
1. The perfections of God, O! what an ocean of gladness and joy is here? Here is wisdom, to direct; power, to protect; holiness, to fanctify; juftice, to justify; goodness, to pity; and faithfulnefs, to make out all that he hath faid. There is more ground of comfort in that one word, I will be thy God, than there is in thousands of worlds. What can they want that have a God to go to? Can they want water that have the ocean, or want light that have the fun? Befides this, God is a Spirit, infinite, eternal, and unchangeable, in all thefe perfections. Here then is fpirituality, to make the gladness and happiness fuited to the nature of the foul: the more fpiritual the gladnefs is, the more pure and pleafant. Here is infinity, to make it boundless: here is eternity, to make it endless here is unchangeableness and immutability, to make it steady and immoveable.
2. The fulness of Chrift is another ftream of the river his fulness of purchase; fulness of wisdom, as a