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be moved to comply with the Divine invitation in deed and in truth, and so, by salutary preparation and discipline, to gather their whole number, from the beginning to the end of time, into one great family in heaven. But, in its actual outward form and history, in this world, all are regarded as being interested in its existence, who participate in its external privileges, whether truly pious or not; because man cannot try the heart, and God unfolds not his judgment of its character before the Great Day.

In consequence of the Redeemer's undertaking, our race was, immediately after the Fall, placed in new circumstances. They were fallen still, but a way of recovery was thrown open. The wrath of the Almighty still hung suspended over their heads with tremendous terror; but for a little time its destruction was delayed; the full bursting forth of its fury was restrained; and in that awful pause, room was left for complete escape; a REFUGE was provided within reach, strong and secure, to which the criminal might run, and be eternally safe. Thus, in the midst of earth's moral desolation, there was to be displayed, down to the end of time, a spectacle of returning life. Heaven was to receive, with universal rapture, millions from the very jaws of hell. The accomplishment of this mercy was to be, however, only through the mediation and suffer. ing of the Son of God. The Holy One of Heaven could deal no longer with men directly, save as their judge and destroyer. From the time of the Fall, therefore, no communication of friendship could exist between God and man, except through Christ. For his sake, the Infinte Judge forbears for a while the full execution of death, and to him is committed, in a peculiar manner, the care of our fallen world. The Father has withdrawn himself from immediate concern with it, such as he employs in his general government. It has been given over into the hands of the Son, in view of his mediatorial work. He has been constituted Head over all things to the church. (Eph. i. 22.) He has undertaken, and it has been left to him, to maintain the full honour of God's Law in the case of the human family, while yet redemption from its curse should be made possible for all, and multitudes should actually obtain the deliverance. He governs the world, therefore, with

continual regard to the church, which he has determined to gather out of its ruins, and conduct to glory. All the kindness which the world experiences now from God, comes through him, and is only in consequence of that new position in which it is placed before God, by his mediatorial undertaking. And because the world is thus given into his hands, with the trust of completely vindicating the holiness of the Divine Law, its final judgment will also proceed from his authority. "The Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son. He hath given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the son OF MAN." (John v. 21-29. Acts xvii. 31.) As many as refuse to embrace his mercy, he will himself sentence to the everlasting death, which sin deserves, and God's righte ous Law demands. Thus he will reduce all things to order, by grace or by justice, and wind up, as it were, in unalterable and perfect arrangement, the affairs of this apostate part of creation. "Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father, when he shall have put down all rule, and all authority and power: For he must reign till he hath put all enemies under his feet. And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.” (1 Cor. xv. 24-28.) Thus will be accomplished that restitution of all things, foretold by all the prophets, (Acts iii. 21.) Then, having put an end to disorder and brought all opposition into subjection to God, the Redeemer, God and man in one person, shall reign in the glory of his kingdom, as Head of the church, under the general government of Him who is all in all, without interruption and without end. For it is written, "He shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever, and of his kingdom there shall be no end." And again, "Unto the Son he saith, thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever." (Luke i. 33. Heb. i. 8.)

The church then, though it has been all along despised by the great body of our race, has ever been infinitely the most interesting and important institution in the world. It is the kingdom of Jesus Christ, proceeding under his own direction and government to that great end of victory and glory, which it is ordained to reach. The world de

rives all its mercies from heaven, through its relation to this kingdom, established in the midst of its ruin. And because the government of the world is upon the shoulders of Zion's King, all the changes that take place among the nations of the earth, which are directed by his providence, are made to help forward the interests of this same kingdom. The world is ruled for the church. The mighty ones of earth little dream of the designs which God has in view to accomplish, by all the revolutions and schemes, which, from age to age, occupy their thoughts and call forth their labours. Their imaginations are directed to ends of mere temporal advantage to themselves, or their particular countries; but God employs their work, to bring about far other ends, such as the prosperity of His own kingdom requires. Thus, ambition, and pride, and every unhallowed passion, which fill the world with war and change, are all made subservient to the will of Christ, and conspire to promote his glorious plan of mercy to the church. (Is. x. 5-7.) In the vast machinery of this world's action, unnumbered wheels are constantly at work; and, though to human sight many of them seem to be acting for particular separate purposes, the eye of God, whose wisdom has united the universal frame, beholds all its parts contributing their ultimate influence to the same point, and combining their multiplied movements to accomplish the same grand result. That result, is the advancement of the Redeemer's kingdom to its victorious consummation. This will be clearly seen, when the history of the earth shall have come to its close. It may, however, be even now discovered with striking certainty, in looking back upon the history of ages that are past. When we read the record of what has been done among the nations, in different ages of the world, this great truth should be kept at all times in view. History is studied correctly and understandingly, only when this relation of God's general providence, in all the changes of earth, to his will concerning the church, is seriously and attentively regarded. Here we find a reason and a meaning, an order and a connexion, in the events which it unfolds, such as cannot appear under any other view.

From what has been said already, it is manifest, that

the church has been, and must be, in every age, the same body. The kingdom of Christ began to be formed just after the fall; and the same kingdom has been going forward ever since, and will go forward till the end of the world. The method by which fallen sinners are restored to the family of God, has always been one and the same, Men were saved before the coming of Christ, as well as since that time, only by his death. "There is no other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved," but the name of Jesus. (Acts iv. 12.) True, the saints who lived before he came into the world, could not have any clear knowledge of the precise way in which atonement was to be made for sin; but they knew and believed, that God had devised and was about to execute, a plan, which should fully answer the purpose, and make it possible for him to be just, while he yet justified the sinner who embraced his offered mercy. They knew, for it was clearly promised, that a Divine Deliverer, able to satisfy God's law and to save men, would in the latter days appear on earth, to take away sin and to bring in an everlasting righteousness for as many as would trust in his name. Being assured of this by the testimony of God, they be lieved it, renounced all hope of being justified with God by their own goodness, and fixed their whole expectation and trust upon the Great Salvation which was to be made known in latter times. Thus Abraham, and all other holy men of old, were justified by faith. (Rom. iv. 1-8, Gal, iii. 6-8.) They "all died in faith: not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth." (Heb. xi. 13.)

But, although the church has been substantially the same in all ages, its measures of spiritual advantage, and its outward constitution, have been greatly altered with the progress of time. It has had, as it were, an infancy, a childhood, and a full grown manhood. (Gal. iii. 23—25, iv. 1-6.) Its light has gradually proceeded from glimmering feebleness, to the full splendour of rising day. Compared with the bright revelation of the gospel, the scriptures of the Old Testament shed only a faint light

upon the world. (2 Tim. i. 10.) They were a light, "which shined in a dark place, until the day should dawn, and the day-star should arise." (2 Pet. i. 19-21.) Still, however, it was a great and glorious light, sufficient to conduct the benighted sons of men to heaven. (Ps. cxix. 105-130.)

The first revelation of mercy through Christ, was made to our original parents just after their fall. In the midst of the curse, which Justice pronounced, it promised, that the SEED of the woman should bruise the serpent's head. (Gen. iii. 15.) This Seed, the same with that in which the great promise, made long after to Abraham, was to be fulfilled, was Christ. (Gal. iii. 16.) Adam and Eve, we may hope, being filled with godly sorrow for their guilt, believed the gracious word of God, and were saved. Their children were made acquainted with the great truth, and instructed in the fear of the Lord. And so down to the flood, the knowledge of God, and of the way of salvation by faith, was continued among men; and there were all the while some who loved and obeyed the true religion. These formed the church in those days. There was no written Bible, to make known the will of the Most High. But what God revealed to Adam, and others after him, was carefully remembered, and handed down by word of mouth. When men lived so long, it was easy to preserve knowledge in this way. Some holy men of those times had a very great intimacy with God, and received many communications of instruction and favour directly from himself. We have, however, no means of knowing very much about the extent of religious knowledge, or the manner of religious worship, which belonged to that early age. Still, this much we learn from the Bible:-The solemn worship of sacrifice was common from the beginning; in which the believer acknowledged his guilt before God, and looked forward, with holy trust, to the satisfaction which God himself had promised to provide. The sabbath was observed, and was attended, no doubt, with rich spiritual blessings. There was also a regular church, united in the service of God, which secured most important privileges of religious education, and of social worship. There was exhortation too, and preaching, which tended to edify and VOL. II. B

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