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they all shall wax old as doth a garment, and as a vesture shalt thou fold them up, and they shall be changed ; but thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail. In a perfect system, contrived by an infi. nitely wise God, that which is temporary and transient, cannot be created for its own sake. It must be subordinate to an interest which is to remain. Zi. on, as it is a spiritual, redeemed, ever-during society, is an eternal excellency, and the perfection of beauty. All other things in this world, are of inferior consideration, and have utility and beauty, only as they are subordinate to it. We are not to suppose then, that in
every thing he does, God is directly building up Zion. In some of his works he does but create and arrange the means. He acts then, with respect to his ultimate work, but indirectly and remotely. The prudent architect, first forms his plan, procures his tools, provides his materials, lays out the scite of his building, and collects his laborers. All this is but preparatory, and subordinate. Afterwards the build- . ing actually rises under his hand. In like manner some of the works of God, are but provisional to the proper work of building up Zion. Such is the work
: of creation. When the sun, and moon, and planets, this globe, with all the variegated beauty which is spread over it; light and life, irrational creatures, and man the noblest of all, rose into being at the commanding voice of God, his power, and wisdom, and goodness shone with admirable splendor. But as yet Zion had not began to exist.
Such is the work of providence. The hand of God preserves and manages every particle of matter, and every portion of sensitive life. Not a sparrow falls to the ground without his notice, and the hairs of our heads are all numbered. But effects which take place in common providence, constitute no part of Zion. The agency which produces them, is there. fore but subordinate
Such are those acts of God, by which knowledge is addressed to the understandings of unrenewed men, Instruction in its nature, however abundant, is but provisional. It may coexist with perfect enmity to God. It may fail, and in innumerable instances does in fact fail of having any saving effect, through the opposition and unteachableness of those to whom it is addressed. We can suppose this world full of in. struction, respecting God, his glory, government, the obligations and relations which subsist between him and his creatures, and between one creature and another, and yet Zion have no existence.
Even the appearance of the Son of God in our world, his union to our nature, his sufferings, resurrection, and ascension to glory, and the subjection of the myriads of angels to his mediatorial dominion, are but preparatory and provisional. For all this might be supposed to be done, and yet Zion not be.
Those extraordinary operations of omnipotent agen: cy, by which sinners are awakened, brought under deep convictions, and filled with alarming apprehensions of God's wrath, do not properly form any part of that peculiar system of operation, by which Zion is built up. For let the light which is spread over
. the mind, be ever so great ; let the sinner under the alarms of conscience approach ever so near to complete despair, remaining a sinner he is still of the world, and is under the curse of the law he has brok
He has not yet yielded the controversy. He has not entered the gates of Zion, nor partaken in the least degree of the peculiar character of its citi.
We might suppose the agency of God spread- . ing such conviction, and such despondency over every mind, while as yet Zion had no existence.
As zion is a spiritual society, consisting of persons who are taken out of the world, renewed and sanctified, formed in heart and life to a likeness to the saviour, it is then built up when sinners are brought
to repentance, are preserved and carried forward in a holy life, and are finally translated to heaven.When a sinner becomes a sincere penitent, and not till then, he ceases to be an enemy of God. Old things are now done away, and all things are become
He changes his ground, his objects of ultimate love, his associations, and the direction of his efforts. He quits the service of satan, and cleaves with full purpose of heart to the Lord Jesus. He becomes a living stone, fit to constitute a part of the immense temple of grace. He is disposed to take, and does actually take that place which is assigned him by the great builder. He is disposed to keep that place, and to strengthen the work instrumentally, by the application and dilligent use of all his talents.
Persons may be brought to repentance solitarily, i.'e, when there is no revival of religion in the place where they live. And they may be converted in connection with others, more or less, under uncommon refreshings from the presence of the Lord. In both these ways, God has in every age carried forward this spiritual building. The spirit has been always operating in one place or another, as the wind has al. ways been blowing ; sometimes like a gentle breeze hardly perceptible, at others like a rushing tempest. More generally it appears to have been God's method to affect the recovery of sinners by occasional effusions of his Holy Spirit, by which multitudes have been collectively brought into his kingdom. Many such seasons of extensive ingathering there have undoubtedly been, which have not come to our knowledge. Sacred history has transmitted incidental notices of several extensive revivals which took place among the people of Israel, in the times which preceded the advent of the Saviour. Thé effusions of the spirit were much more abundant after his ascension. Three thousand were converted in one day, under a single sermon.
Five thousand in another day. During the first century Zion enlarged her
boundaries to a great extent, and received millions into her bosom. Heathen idolators by shoals were caught in the gospel net. Every where the preaching of the gospel was with power, being accompanied with the Holy Ghost sent down from Heaven. Ecclesiastical history records vast ingatherings in later periods, under a similar supernatural influence, in Germany, Switzerland, France, Holland, England, Scotland, Ireland, and our own country. About sixty years ago, there was a very remarkable revival of religion over NewEngland, and in the middle colonies. Great num. bers were brought under deep convictions, and as there is great reason to believe, to sincere repentance. Within ten years past many districts of our country have been signally enriched with this heavenly blessing. And we have liberty to rely, that almighty agency will be continually employed in subduing sinners to the cross, till Zion is completed, and raised to her ultimate elevation in the mansions of eternal bliss. For it'is promised, (vain expectation is that which is built upon the supposed nullity and inefficiency of this promise.). • I will work, and who shall let it.
' I have set my king upon my holy hill of Zion. Ask of me, and I will give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession. Othou afflicted, and tossed, and not comforted : Behold, I will lay thy stones with fair colours, and thy foundation with sapphires. And I will make thy windows of agates, and all thy borders of pleasant stones. Who hath heard such a thing ? Who hath seen such things ? Shall the earth be made to bring forth in one day, or shall a nation be born at once? For as soon as Zion travailed, she brought forth her children.. One shall not say unto another, know the Lord; for all shall know me, from the least even unto the greatest. And the earth shall be full.. of the knowledge of the Lord.' These and many other scipture promises respecting the future rise and vast extension of Zion, have certainly not yet had
their accomplishment. As they shall be fulfilled, striking evidence will be furnished that God is the builder of Zion, and it will be inquired, with deep admiration and praise, Wbat hath God wrought ?
I am to lead you to consider in what respects God, when he acts in building up Zion, appears in his glory. The declaration of the text implies, that God has originally and independently a fullness of glory, which has its clearest illustration as Zion advances under his all disposing hand. It is our business now to attend to the particulars in which this illustration is made.
Ist. When God builds up Zion he appears in the infinity and irresistibility of his power. By power we understand that ability which an intellegnnt agent has to bring to pass such effects as he wishes to accomplish. Power may be inequal in different intelligent agents. The power of one may be competent to the production of certain effects, but not to the production of others, to which the power of another may be adequate. Power in itself is a valuable attribute because it may be employed kindly, in effecting desirable ends, which could not be effected without it. Good dispositions are ineffectual, if attended with perfect weakness. Perfect benevolence will labor to diffuse its blessings in vain, if overruled by a superior will. God is good. He is unlimitedly benevolent, without any opposite bias of heart. Those creatures who are opposite to him are evil. Malevolence constitutes the principle of their opposition. It is infinitely desirable that they should not be able to impede in the least, the execution of God's purposes. It is infinitely desirable that he should possess, and appear clothed with, supreme power ; power adequate to all the ends of his administration. In the possession of such power,
he is fitted to be the sole governor of the world, the manager of all events, the guardian of the moral system, the successful promoter of happiness,