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can inflict. Not all the powers of earth and hell can shake that spiritual edifice which our Lord has founded on rock” of His Holy Word; nor are they able to pluck from his hand the souls which his Father hath given him; nor to rob the "faithful and wise steward” of his rich eternal reward.
A DEFENCE OF THE ESTABLISHED
CHURCH OF ENGLAND.
Mark xii. 9.
What shall the Lord of the vineyard do? He will
come and destroy the husbandmen, and will give the vineyard to others.
I am not aware that there has ever existed any difference of opinion respecting the interpretation of that parable of our blessed Lord of which these words form the remarkable conclusion.
The same symbol of the vineyard is explained by the prophet Isaiah' to represent the temporal establishment of the Church and
1 Isaiah v. 7.
State under the old covenant; and the exclamation of the Jewish hierarchy on hearing this denunciation from Jesus Christ, appears clearly to imply that they understood Him as adopting it with a similar signification : “When they heard it they said, God forbid !” for “ they perceived that He spake of them.” If, therefore, it be admitted that the vineyard of the Lord of Hosts is the national Church of Jerusalem, it will follow undeniably that our Saviour has not only sanctioned, but promised, (and may we not say thereby directed ?) the establishment of similar institutions under the new covenant. He speaks not of throwing open the vineyard, of obliterating its limits, breaking down its fences, or dashing in pieces its tower and its wine-press : it is still to remain marked out, protected, and entrusted to husbandmen, as before, for careful cultivation, and for rendering to the landlord his dues; but it was to be given to others, or, in the plain terms in which He interprets it himself, “The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof."
That other race, to whom the vineyard of the Lord was to be committed, is undoubtedly the Gentile world. The Church of God was taken from the descendants of Abraham after the flesh, and given to the heirs of his faith, to the Christians : but it was still to preserve its emblematic resemblance to the vineyard, and to be established in the same manner as formerly by the protection of laws, by the appointment of a regular ministry, and by a due temporal rank and endowment; and the fruits required of it were to be the Christian graces, “ judgment and righteousness," instead of the “wild grapes,” the “ oppression
and the cry,” rendered by the former occupiers
The transfer of the vineyard, without the most remote allusion to any change in its circumstances, is surely a very strong presumption in favour of civil establishments of religion under the Christian dispensation.
The expediency of all such establishments is questioned, and their existence is denounced as unscriptural and unlawful by a set of persons in our time, by no means inconsiderable either for numbers or talent; and their views, in this respect, unhappily concurring with the crafty designs of unprincipled men, whose objects are the gratification of their own ambition and cupidity, there is certainly danger that, without timely and determined support on the part of her friends, the National Church in this country may speedily be deprived of all external