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laws and records, and a great deal more, have conspired to abolish the laws of Messiah's kingdom; but without effect. Wise legislators have enacted wholesome laws, but could not give them permanency, nor preserve them from being corrupted, nor their kingdoms from revolutions. These are privileges peculiar to the church. Her Sovereign not only enacted the best laws, for regulating her affairs, from the beginning; but has, ever since, secured them against corruption, and his kingdom from revolution. There are no writings so ancient as the Scriptures, and none so perfectly preserved. Had any part of the Old Testament been lost, or any errors crept into it, Jesus would have supplied the one, and corrected the other; but there was no room for any such amendments. To this day the sacred Volume remains entire, as it was delivered to the church by her head; and to his unremitting attention is she indebted for the inestimable favour, as it was impossible it could have been preserved otherwise. Never have such violent attacks been made upon any thing, as upon the Scripture, and none with so little
Satan's first attempt on man was to give the lie to the word of God, “ Ye shall not surely die," and he has never desisted from the same practice, in one form or other. Armies of infidels, men of
profound erudition, as champions under Satan, have taken the field, in succession, from age to age, and carried on the attack; nor has any mean been left untried, nor any instrument unemployed from which success could be expected: All, however, has been to no purpose. Finding he could not get the Scriptures altogether discarded, Satan has excited others to attempt to corrupt them, by striking at the great and staminal truths and laws which they contain. These have been the most
dangerous adversaries, as they professed to acknowledge the divine authenticity of the Scriptures, and that they only wished to investigate their genuine meaning. Every fundamental article of the christian faith has been attacked, and attempts made to persuade men that these were not contained in the Scriptures. The supreme Deity of the Redeemer, and Holy Spirit, atonement for sin, supernatural grace, regeneration, original sin, justification by Christ's righteousness, &c. have been impugned and denied. If these are destroyed, Scripture ceases to be of any use to men. But the arrows of all these mighty champions of Satan, though discharged with the utmost violence, have proved harmless: the shield of the church's Almighty Lord has made them fall to the ground, and defended the sacred Oracles. Men have, indeed, corrupted their own minds, and have proved the instruments of corrupting others; they have deviated from the word of God, and walked in the vanity of their own imaginations, while that word remains uncorrupted. Some cast away the word altogether, as a cunningly devised fable, and an imposition on mankind; some form dangerous and corrupt notions of it in their own minds; and others add their traditions and superstitious ceremonies to the laws of Christ, and prostitute his ordinances, in observing them. Men of
pervert the words of the liv. ing God, and handle them deceitfully,” and by so doing, ruin themselves, yet Jesus will preserve his laws pure to his church. Whatever men have said and wrote against the word of God, they have never been able to introduce their corruptions into it, though this would have been the most effectual way of destroying it. Jesus does not hinder his enemies to say what they will against his word; but he will have it to stand,
as he has delivered it to his church, to speak for itself. He has done so formerly. He will continue to do so: and when every tongue that has arisen against it, to condemn it, shall be silenced, its voice will be heard. Yes: Lord, thou hast said it, and thy word shall be made good.
“ The Scripture cannot be broken." “ And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one tittle of the law to fail.” Luke xvi. 17. The church cannot sufficiently estimate this privilege. Were it taken away she would have none left. Remove this and darkness will instantly cover her. Here her sun shines with divine splendor, discovering her God, and illuminating her path. It will be so, notwithstanding the efforts of all enemies, and the revolutionary condition of all terrene things. “ For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower of it falleth away: But the word of the Lord endureth for
And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you." 1 Pet. i. 24, 23.
2. ANOTHER advantage which the church derives from her Lord is the enjoyment of his Spirit with all his divine and gracious influences.
THOUGH the Lord of the church came down incar. nate into the world, it was neither necessary. nor proper for him to continue in it. His incarnation, and appearance on earth were not necessary to the exercise either of his prophetical or kingly offices; as every thing belonging to them could have been done otherwise; his human nature contributing nothing, necessarily to the exercise of these offices. He assumed our nature to fit him as an High Priest to expiate sin, and he appeared in the world to offer the sacrifice necessary to accomplish that, and lay the foundation of
his kingdom. This being done, it was necessary he should ascend to the throne of supreme power, to admi. nistrate the affairs of his kingdom. The Father was satisfied with his obedience to death, as an atonement for sin, and, on that account, highly exalted him, setting him at his own right hand, and crowning him with glory and honour, that he might reign as king upon his holy hill of Zion.
But the church must sustain no loss by his departure. · She cannot subsist in the world without the di. vine presence, and if Jesus must depart, his place must be adequately filled up. As the purchase of salvation was his proper work on earth, it was fit he should depart when that was finished; and as the applying of that salvation was the proper work of the Holy Spirit, it was proper he should succeed Jesus. The connection between these two events was of such a nature, that the departure of Jesus must make way for the mission of the Spirit. The sacrifice must be offered, sin expiated, sinners redeemed, and salvation secured; and in this Jesus must be approved and accepted by his Father, before he can occupy the throne of his kingdom, or bear the sceptre of administration. This took place when he sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high. His exaltation chiefly respected his kingly office, and to him in this character it was competent to send the Spirit, in consequence of his exaltation; “ For while he was not glorified, the Spirit was not given.” When about to leave the world, he communicated these truths to his disciples, to support their souls, depressed at the thoughts of his departure. “ It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart I will send him unto you.” John . xvi. 7. This promise was
fulfilled by him as the church's Lord. By setting him on his own right hand, the Father made him both Lord and Christ, gave him the promise of the Spirit to give to his church. Acs ii. 33–36. “ Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear.” This is the great New Testament promise to the church, on which all her success and prosperity depend. His whole work is summed up in a few emphatical words by Christ.
"All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you.” John xvi. 14.
The Spirit being thus promised and given is to abide in the church for ever, and fully supply the place of Christ, who, in this way, fulfils the promise of his being with them to the end of the world. Every thing relating to the church, in bestowing on her the purchased salvation, is the work of the Spirit. He bestows on the ministers of the gospel all the endowments necessary to fit them for their work. “He guides them into all truth, teaches them all things that Jesus has to communicate to them. - The manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.” He crowns their labour with success, and opens a great and effectual door, by which the word enters into the hearts of sinners, and brings them into the church. In taking the things of Christ and shewing them to his people, he communicates a new life to their souls, and unites them unto him as their vital head. Having overcome the enmity of the heart, subdued the stubborn will, and broken the dominion of sin, by the washing of regeneration, he writes the laws of Messiah's kingdom upon their hearts, and causes them to walk in his statutes, and keep his judg.