Page images

temple. For the same reasons, by the new Jerusalem, St. John means the Church of God under the dispensation of the Gospěl: this is enriched with many excellencies, endowed with many privileges unknown to his ancient people who lived under the economy of Moses. They had indeed the doctrine of salvation, but it was wrapped up in types and figures; to our view it is clearly unfolded, and the veil is entirely taken away from the face of Moses: their ordinances were mingled with many burdensome rites and ceremonies; we have a pure and simple worship in spirit and in truth: their law was confined to one people; the general assembly of Christians is composed of all nations and languages: God was presént among them in the cloud of glory that rested over the mercy-seat; he dwells among us by the wonderful communications of his Holy Spirit.

From all these considerations, the Christian Church may well be denominated the holy city. God, in an especial manner, has placed his name there. Many are the glorious epithets by which it is designated in the sacred volume: it is the new Jerusalem ; the city of God; the mother of us all: it is the beloved spouse of the Lamb; it is the elect generation; the royal priesthood; the holy nation; the peculiar people: it is the Church which Christ hath purchased with his own blood; for which he delivered himself to the death of the cross, that he might sanctify it, and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word; that he might present it to himself a glorious Church, not having spot or wrinkle, nor any such thing, but that it might be holy and unblemished. It is holy from its peculiar relation to God; as it is composed of persons who are to bé separated from the profane conversation of a wicked

We are

provement of the doctrines which have been here advanced.

1st. Since the Christian Church is a holy city, an incorporated society, invested with many glorious privileges, prescribing a peculiar mode of admission, having its own officers, and existing under the government of wholesome laws; let us take care to be initiated into this dignified society according to the positive appointment of our Lord, who is made the Head over all things for his Church; to whom all authority in heaven and earth has been committed. not only permitted to enjoy the exalted privileges which belong to the new Jerusalem; but we are earnestly invited, we are solemnly commanded to become members of Christ, children of God, and inheritors of the kingdom of heaven; in other words, to be no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household of God. In our situation, it is not necessary to inquire, Who shall ascend into heaven? that is, to bring Christ down from above. Or, who shall descend into the deep? that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead: for the word of God is nigh us.

All the immunities of his peculiar people are freely offered to us. The Christian Church is not, like Jerusalem of old, confined to one particular place; but it is catholic or universal, as well as holy : it is composed of all nations and languages: the Gospel of salvation has been preached the blessed privileges of this spiritual society are graciously offered to us Gentiles who were far off, as well as to God's ancient people who were nigh.

But, it is probable, that most of us have been admitted by baptism into this highly favoured com

munity, and we have obligated ourselves to maintain a suitable deportment. Let it then be,

2dly. Observed, that we ought to be sensible of the advantages of our situation, and to be extremely careful never to forfeit them. Man, in his native condition, is said in Scripture to be a child of wrath: he has nothing before him but a fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation. But, when he is taken out of a wicked world, and admitted into the holy city, he is invested by the mere grace of God with many inestimable rights. He has a right founded on the divine promise, to the remission of his sins, to the supernatural aid of the Holy Spirit, to the peculiar favour of the Almighty in this life, and to the enjoyment of everlasting happiness and glory in a future state. Such is the distinguished situation of the saints and servants of God under the dispensation of the Gospel: they belong to a glorious community: they have come unto mount Sion, the city of the living God; and to the spirits of just men made perfect ;. and to an innumerable company of angels; and to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant; and to God the Judge of all. And shall we ever voluntarily banish ourselves from this blessed society? After having renounced the pomps and vanities of a wicked world, shall we ever be desirous to be again involved in its cares and in its crimes? If we be extremely jealous of the rights which relate merely to our temporal welfare, how inexcusable will be the absurdity of neglecting and finally forfeiting those in which is intimately concerned the salvation of our immortal souls?

3dly. As citizens of the new Jerusalem, we are indispensably obligated to yield a peaceful obedience

to its laws. These laws are contained in the sacred volume; the best comment upon which is the practice of the primitive Christians. In all important cases they are clear and easy; and if there be some points not so easily to be comprehended, we must be content to act, as we do in the management of our temporal concerns; that is, to seek information from those who have had better opportunities than ourselves of acquiring knowledge. This holy city came down from heaven. It was instituted by God himself. It is not, like all human institutions, subjected to the will of man, to be altered and modified as his caprice or his presumption may direct. It ought to be now what it was from the beginning: there is but one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one hope of our calling. The kingdom of the Redeemer is not of this world: it is not of earthly origin; it interferes not with secular affairs; it is not supported by the weapons of a worldly warfare; it exercises dominion not over the bodies, but over the souls and consciences of men; its grand motives to obedience are of a spiritual and not a temporal nature; its principal rewards and its severest punishments are future and eternal. Let us submit with reverence to the authority which has been established by Christ and his apostles in his holy Church; let us reject all novel and strange opinions which are contrary to that faith which was originally delivered to the saints; let us avoid all factious combinations of men which tend to subvert that peace and order, on which the prosperity of the holy city so essentially depends; in a word, with respect to our religious concerns, let us consult the revealed will of God, and in every instance yield to this a ready and implicit obedience.

4thly. We are ever to remember, that this spiritual city of which we possess the glorious immunities, is denominated holy; prepared with all Christian virtues, as a bride adorned for her husband. The new Jeru- . salem came down from God, and its inhabitants are to be qualified in this life for a glorious ascension into the more immediate presence of the great Lord of all. All its institutions are expressly designed to separate us from sinners, and make us holy and harmless in all manner of conversation. Whatever, therefore, our religious employment may bea; whether we listen to God's word, or celebrate his sacraments; whether we be engaged in prayer or in praise; let every service tend to a more complete sanctification of our polluted nature, in soul, body, and spirit. Let holiness unto the Lord be our badge of distinction; let it declare to all the world, that we are his people; let it shine like the star over the babe of Bethlehem, and signify that Jesus is here; that God himself is with us; that he is our God. And, let it be remarked, in the last place,

That this consideration should lead us to walk circumspectly and with holy reverence before him. If the tabernacle of God be with men; if he dwell with us, and we be his people, let us fear to offend him; let us steadfastly rely on his merciful protection in every time of danger and trial ; let us patiently follow whithersoever his word and providence direct our way, as the Israelites in the wilderness pursued their journey according to the guidance of their Almighty Protector, who went before them in a cloud by day, and in a pillar of fire by night. Whether our journey through life be long or short; whether it be pleasant or painful; of this we may rest assured, that if we prove not disVOL. II.


« PreviousContinue »