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prosper, and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn.” And again : “The nation and kingdom that will not serve thee shall perish, yea,
those nations shall be utterly wasted.” And again : “ The sun shall be no more thy light by day, neither for brightness shall the moon give light unto thee; but the Lord shall be unto thee an everlasting light, and thy God thy glory.” And, as if the Church were to “declare the glory of God” more perfectly than the natural heavens, and to bear witness to her own origin without evidence beyond herself, we are told, “Behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind. But be
But be ye glad and rejoice for ever in that which I create; for, behold, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people a joy'."
These of course are but a few out of the multitude of passages in the Prophet Isaiah, descriptive of the Christian Church; they speak of tokens outward, visible, common to all; and yet, in spite of these, St. Paul in the text, when about to die, and contemplating the judgment, speaks, not of them, of an evidence not outward, not visible, not common, but inward, private, incommunicable. “I know," he says, “whom I have believed.” I bear about me “the marks of the Lord Jesus” in my own person; I have assurance that He has“stood by me,” because He has “strengthened me;" His tabernacle is not only “with men,” but “the grace of Christ tabernacles upon me." In other words (could we doubt it?), in his instance the general had become particular; the external had flowed into his secret soul;
| Isa. xlv. 14; xliv. 3—5; liv. 2. 17; íx. 12. 19; lxv. 17, 18.
the universal gift had been appropriated; the visible glory had kindled a îight in his own breast; and thus, just as we need not read a friend's writing when we hear his voice, so, though Christ had gone forth into the wide world, and had been lifted up aloft to draw men to Him, and had lodged among them the power and the presence of His Atonement, yet the blessed Apostle needed not seek Him abroad, who had graciously condescended to come under his roof,” and manifest Himself unto him.
Now this is a distinction very necessary in all ages of the Church, for different reasons: when her outward glory is great, by way of turning our attention to our own hearts, and our personal responsibility; and when it is obscured, in order to keep our faith from failing, and to revive our hope; at all times, to hinder our being engrossed by what is external to the loss of what is inward in religion.
I observe, then, this: that the public notes of the Church, which are the common property of all men, are rather a sign to unbelievers than to the faithful, and to the world than to Christians; and a sign to members of the Church in proportion as they are without, and till they gain those truer and more precious tokens, to which the external notes lead, and by which they are practically superseded. This I conceive to be the Scripture doctrine concerning them, in the very passages which promise them to us.
For instance: “ This people have I formed for Myself; they shall show forth My praise;" that is, they are an external evidence to the world of God's mighty power. Again, more explicitly: “The Gentiles shall come to
thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising :
the sons of the strangers shall build thy walls, and their kings shall minister unto thee." Again : « The Lord hath made bare His Holy Arm in the eyes of all the nations ; and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God.” Again : “Behold, I have taken out of thine hand the cup of trembling, ... but I will put it into the hand of them that afflict thee.” And again : "Lift up thine eyes round about, and behold: all these gather themselves together and come to thee, ... that thou mayest say to the prisoners, Go forth; to them that are in darkness, Show yourselves." Once more: “From the rising of the sun even unto the going down of the same My Name shall be great among the Gentiles.” You see the external glory of the Church is shown towards strangers and Gentiles, that they may join her; to prisoners, for their release; to enemies, for their conversion; to oppressors, for their punishment. I do not mean to say, that nothing is implied of such a manifestation being still a support and comfort to those who have joined her, who have been released, who are converts, who have been punished and repented; such a result of it is expressed by the holy Baptist, when he, as standing without the Church, though a destined member of it, and as it were contemplating the sacred building at the gate, while he was yet only entering it, says, “ He that hath the Bride is the Bridegroom; but the friend of the Bridegroom, which standeth and heareth Him, rejoiceth greatly because of the Bridegroom's voice; this my joy therefore is ful
įsa. xliii. 21; 1x. 3. 10; lii. 10; li. 22, 23; xlix. 18. 9. Mal. i. 11.
filled "." But granting this, we shall find, nevertheless, that the special promise to the children of the Church, considered as such, is of a different kind. They first see her glory from without; next they taste her good gifts from within. “All thy children," runs the promise to the Christian Church, not merely shall see thy glory, but, "all thy children shall be taught of the Lord, and great shall be the peace of thy children.” Again: “Thy people shall be all righteous." Again: “I will put My Law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be My people. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord; for they shall all know Me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them ?." You see it was their very gift, as Christians, to know the Lord personally, individually, inwardly; and hence the Apostle says in the text, “I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day."
What is told us in the New Testament is to the same purpose.
For instance : consider the very precept of Christ, which binds us together in one body, and observe the reason it gives for doing so. “ A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another ; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another; by this shall all men know that ye are My disciples, if ye have love one to another.” You see it was to be a sign to the world, not to the Church herself. Still more clearly is this implied in our Lord's intercessory prayer : 1 John iii. 29.
• Įsą. liv. 13; L. 21. Jer. xxxi. 33, 34,
“As Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that Thou hast sent Me." You see, unity was for the sake of the world; He repeats it: “I in them, and Thou in Me, that they may be perfect in one, and that the world may know that Thou hast sent Me, and hast loved them, as Thou hast loved Me.” The visibility of the Church was rather for her proclaiming the truth, than for her dispensing grace. Again : “Ye are the light of the world ; a city that is set on a hill cannot be hid. Let your light 80 shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” And we see our Saviour's precepts and prayers actually fulfilled in the first days of His Church : “And they continued steadfastly in the Apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers ;" and what was the consequence? “and fear came upon
But let us proceed with the passage: They continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, praising God;"--and what followed ? _“and having favour with all the people." And again, observe the result of this unanimity: “And the Lord added to the Church daily such as should be saved."
On the other hand, that there are other and higher gifts for Christians themselves, flowing indeed from the Church, according to a Divine appointment, and her notes, but private notes, conformably with the foregoing
John xiü. 34, 35; xvii. 21. 23. Matt. v. 14. 16. Açt: ii. 42, 43, 46, 47,