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wards one another: for, our holy God sometimes takes open vengeance on such inventions of his own people ; as in another case with David, 2 Sam. xii. 12.: but especially our more public sins committed in judgment : particularly, our partiality in our judicial proceedings; for such things the Lord threatens with public and open castigation before the world : “ Therefore also I made you contemptible and base before all the people, according as ye have not kept my ways, but have been partial in the law ;” or, as it is in the Hebrew, have accepted faces, Mal. ii. 9. Have we not reason to acknowledge, that we have been many times guilty, even in judgment, of paying too much of an idolatrous regard to some men, and of being slavishly afraid of their breaking off from us: and therefore, have yielded so far in certain points to them (which I could mention). and perhaps farther, than light could well allow ; at Jeast, so far as to go to the utmost border of light in condescending to them : whereas, it had been better to have suffered them, a good time ago, to separate them. selves, than hy many yieldings, for peace sake, to wait till they had a greater backing. For these things a holy God hath justly ordered a more fearful rupture, such as hath tended to render our witnessing-work more contemptible before all the people; though yet we hope, the Lord will bring good out of it, when he comes to make darkness light, and crooked things straight, and to rebuild the temple.
To this particular, I may add that piece of partiality we had been chargeable with, in not censuring duly several open scandals, committed even in judicatories; and such eruptions and out-breakings of passion and corruption, as hath been more scandalous and offensive to spectators than many other acts of wickedness and profanity. Though there is no doubt but there have been offences on all hands, through the upstirring of corruption amidst these temptations ; yet these especially by whom such offences have come, ought to have been censured at another rate than ever they were : and the neglect of this hath issued in these who have been so far indulged and spared from such just censure
their being left of God to pass most unjust and wicked censures and sentences, in their pretended courts, against these that sinfully neglected to pass just and necesary censures against them. Herein, therefore, though we cannot justify them, yet we may see good reason to justify God, in his having ordered such desolation and saying upon the matter, Destroy this temple *. But now,
* We had formerly occasion to observe, that the agreeable harmony of the Associate Synod was obstructed, with a short hint at the time, cause, and manner of it, together with the effect that followed : what now remains, is a little more fully to unfold the nature thereof, by giving a compendious view of the sentiments of both
parties. It was already observed, That it was the Religious Clause, in some burgess oaths that gave rise to such a warm dispute, in the Associate Body, as at last terminated in a rupture : [see the clause itself, p. 122.] The members of court entertained different sentiments relato the meaning of that clause: some of them viewed it as sinful, while others affirmed the swearing of it was lawful. The Condempers of this clause as sinful, alledged, That it homologated the omissions and defects of ths Revolution Settlement of Religion, and was a conniving at, and acquiescing in the corruptions of the present Judicatories : and, in order to support their assertion, laboured to confound the True Religion professed and settled, with the Profession and settlement, the thing sworn to; as there were no difference between a good profession and a bad practice.- The Defenders of this clause, as lawful, rejected the allegation, and affirmed, That whatever omissions the Revolution Church or State were justly charged with, yet the True Religion was really settled at the Revolution, by the Revolution Parliament: in regard, the Westminster Confession of Faith, which contains the quintessence cf true religion, was ratified thereby, as agreeable to the word of God, and embodied in their Fifth Act: and all bad acts, contrary thereto, and inconsistent therewith, rescinded and annulled ; and all good laws, in favours thereof, ratified and confirmed, and the National Covenant, as renewed in the year 1638, and the Solemn League and Covenant, freed from the indignities of the preceding reigns of Charles II. and James VII, They farther affirmed, That the true religion, authorized and established by the Revolution parliament, is the saine true religion that hath been, and now is, professed by Seceders in their Act and Testimony; and that the present profession of religion ought not to be confounded with the ancient settlement thereof : for, no deviation or defection, either in principle or practice, in professing the true religion, could be couched in the bosom of that religious clause, seeing it only respected the true religion itself, formerly ratified on its ancient basis. And further, it was affirmed, That our Testimony was never lifted up against the true religion professed and authorized by the laws of the land, or against the Revolution settlement thereof, but against their omissions ; and therefore gave it the epithets of happy and glorious Revolution, and our beautiful, valuable, and excellent Presbyterian Constitution; nor against the profession of religion, or the sound practice of the present Judicatories; but against their defections and corruptions, and abuse of their professed principles, by a course of backsliding.–This, however, was a fruitless dispute ; did much injury to the interests of real religion, by alienating the affections of professors from one another; and could, by no means, support the huge fabric the Brethren of the opposite party reared upon it: a parallel to which, in all its circumstances, cannot be found in all the annals and records of the Church,
2dly, Let us look a little to the light and bright side of the text, namely, “ In three days I will raise it up.” -The scope whereof, as I have shewed before, is to give a sure sign of Christ's power, and authority, and design, to raise up and rebuild the temple of his church, or mystical body, when destroyed and ruined by men, by his being able to raise his human body from the grave. Here then is the bright side of the cloud, for exciting our faith and hope ; for all is not lost that is in hazard. Visible dangers and disasters are not designed to fright us away from God, as if he were become cruel and unkind, but for the exercise of faith on the invisible God: His thoughts are not our thoughts: We think many times all is gone to ruin, when yet a resurrection is at hand. Let it not be thought strange, that the mystical body of Christ, his temple, should be destroyed, as if there were no hope : let none say, now when destructive ruptures and breaches take place, Where is their temple? where is their hope? where is their God ? For, “ Our God is in the heavens, he hath done whatsoever he pleaseth.” Therefore, “ O Israel ! trust thou in the Lord; he is their help and their shield : 0 house of Aaron! trust in the Lord; he is their help and their shield : : ye that fear the Lord, trust in the Lord; he is their help and their shield,” &c. He hath given us a sure sign that he will revive his work in the midst of the years, by raising his own body in three days; and therefore, hath promised the same thing to the church, Hosea vi. 2. “ After two days he will revive us, in the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight.”
I shall now close with a few lessons, deducible from this light side of the text and doctrine.
[1.] Hence learn that our Lord Jesus, who raised up the temple of his body in three days, hath his own ways of raising up the fallen tabernacle of David, even when it seems to be destroyed.
QUEST. When may Christ be said to raise and rebuild his church, after it seems to be laid in ruins ?
Answ. 1. When he preserves it amidst the destruction, and reserves a remnant for himself amidst the ruins, like the tenth spoken of, Isaiah vi. 13.
After the great forsaking spoken of in the midst of the land, it is said, " But yet in it there shall be a tenth, &c. A holy seed shall be the substance thereof."
2. When he causes it to take root, as it is said, Isaiah xxxvii. 31. “ The remnant that is escaped of the house of Judah shall again take root downward, and bear fruit upward.”
3. When he breathes upon the dead and dry bones, saying, as in Ezek. xxxvii. 9. “Come from the four winds, O breath ; and breathe upon these slain, that they may live; for not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts,” 'Zech. iv. 6. Then mountains become a plain before our Zerubbabel. Hence,
4. When he blasts the foolish projects of temple destroyers, whoever they be: though they were as a signet upon his right hand, Jer. xxii. 24. The Lord raises his temple, when he infatuates the destroyers thereof, and suffers them to go to their utmost in de. stroying work ; making the wisdom of the wise man to perish, and the understanding of the prudent to be hid, Isa. xxix. 14. He raises his temple by defeating the designs of destroyers, and turning their counsels to foolishness, and bringing good out of what they designed for evil, whether it be the design of the men themselves, or the design of their work, as Joseph said to his brethren, Gen. 1. 20. " But as for you, you thought evil against me, but God meant it unto good, even to save much people alive.”
5. When he catches destroyers of the temple in their
own snares, and makes them to be snared in the work of their own hands who are destroyers ; See Isa. ix. 16. “ The leaders of this people cause them to err; and they that are led of them are destroyed.” And, when, instead of prospering their projects, he curses their cruel plots, even though he should bless their persons, as it is thought was the case of Simeon and Levi, Gen. xlix. 5, 6,7.“ Instruments of cruelty are in their habitations;" or, as it is in the margin, . Their swords are weapons of violence.'-" O my soul, come not thou into their secrets: unto their assemblies, mine honour, be not thou united. Cursed be their anger, for it was fierce, and their wrath, for it was cruel: I will divide them in Jacob, and scatter them in Israel.”
6. He raises up his temple, when he builds and beautifies Zion; that is, when the gospel of peace is published, the new and living way made known; when ministers and ordinances are given according to his order and appointment; when the elect are brought in, and the church gathered and established; when the doctrine, worship, discipline, and government of Christ's house, are set up for the perfecting of the saints, for the edifying of the body of Christ; when peace is within the walls, and prosperity within the palaces of Zion ; and when among the remnant that remains undriven away with the storm of temptation, there is a maintaining of the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace; then is Zion built. And then is it not only built up but beautified, when the church is privileged with the purity of the gospel-ordinances, like the pure river of life, clear as crystal, Rev. xxij. 1. When there is a multitude of converts, according to that word, Isa. xlix. 17,--22. “ Thy children shall make haste; thy destroyers, and they that made thee waste, shall go
forth of thee. Lift up thine eyes round about and behold; all these gather themselves together, and come to thee," &c. When God sets off wasters and destroyers, and gathers in a multitude of children in Zion, then he builds and beautifies both. And when there is in Zion not only a multitude, but an excellency and splendor of professors, as it is said, Isa. Ix. 12. “Thy people shall