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desirable. Such is the sovereignty of God. This sove. reignty is clearly displayed in the whole of that agency which redeems the church. It is displayed in selecting the materials, bringing them into the building, keeping them there, and perfecting the structure.
He hath mercy on whom he will have mercy, and compassion on whom he will have compassion. It is not of him who willeth, nor of him who runneth, but of God who she weth mercy. Of him, and to him, and through him, are all things.' Jesus thought this sovereignty of God, as illustrated in the salvation of sinners, worthy of grateful and exulting acknowledgment. Luke x. 21. "At that hour Jesus re. joiced in spirit, and said, I thank thee O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent and hast revealed them unto babes : even so Father, for so it seemed good in thy sight.? How desirable to a rectified mind that the glorious Jehovah should always appear an absolute sovereign ! And how is it possible that he should exercise grace at all, but in a sovereign way? Wheth. er he save a part or the whole of our fallen race, more or fewer, this person or that, must depend entirely on his determination. What reason can be assigned that he chose Abraham to be his friend and left others of the posterity of Noah unchosen ? Why did he make his family, in their successive generations the depositories of his truth and grace, in distinction from other families of the earth? Why was Paul a chosen vessel, and influenced to build up the faith which he previously destroyed, when many of the same Pharisaic school remained enemies to the cross and died in their sins? Why has God taken such individuals as he has in following periods, and made them liv. ing stones in this great building of his grace? Why is the Holy Spirit poured out upon one place and not upon another? Why at one time and not at another ? Why is one person taken and another left? To all
these questions there is but one reply. It is in the words of our Saviour, just quoted. Even so Fa
. ther; for so it hath seemed good in thy sight.'
We are naturally at variance with this glorious sovreignty of God, We want to save ourselves, if we are saved at all. We cannot bear to be mere clebtors to distinguishing grace.
But let us feel as we will, whether we approve or disapprove, God appears glorious in his sovereignty in every part of his work of redemption.
5th. When God builds up Zion, he appears in the glory of his immutability. How imperfect would God be if he were mutable, if he shifted his plans as mendo; perpetually relinquishing the resolutions which he had formed, and adopting new ones? Were this the case, there woud be no system in his operations. There would be no determinate end pursued by fixed and infallible means. He could not be an object of confidence. Universal distrust would be reasonable ; and his government, if he could be supposed to go. vern at all, would be a source of anxiety, not of happiness. It is a matter of the greatest consolation, that God being powerful and good, is unchangeable. I am not now to prove to you, that immutability is one of his attributes. He who admits a God, must admit his immutability. Change supposes derivation, and dependance. Hence the scriptures are very careful to ascribe to him this character. They tell us that he changeth not; that he is the same yesterday, to-day and forever, without the least variableness or shadow of turning. When God builds up Zion, this adorable excellency of his nature has a most honorable illustration. We see one purpose revealed, and that purpose steadily pursued through the lapse of ages. The building of grace rises conti. nually through thousands of years, on the same plan, of the same materials, and in the same way. Nothing from without operates in any degree to vary this plan
If God could be induced to alter his purpose, he cer tainly would be pursuaded to do so, by the ungrateful treatment which his overflowing grace meets with in this wicked world. The contempt which falls upon his work, or the perverseness of those who are made the subjects of it, would induce him either to lay it entirely aside, or to suspend it. But as the Holy Jesus went steadily and immoveably forward, through a host of opposers, and under circumstances inexpressibly trying to his virtue, in accomplishing the errand for which he came into the world; so God in the face of all opposition, and infinite dissuasives in the perverseness of his creatures, invariably pursues his designs of grace, and at every step of his work presents himself to the view of his creatures in the grandeur and glory of absolute immutability.
6th. In the building up of Zion, God appears in the glory of his faithfulness. Faithfulness and veracity are nearly allied. The former, however, has more especial respect to antecedent promises. The covenant promises which God has condescended to make respecting the ingathering of the elect, and the building up of Zion, are numerous. Some of them have been quoted. They run through the scrip tures. The fulfilment of them, is essential to the glory of divine faithfulness. At present it may be supposed a question, whether God will execute his engagements. His character in this respect, may be understood to be on trial. The almost entire aspect of the world, at least at certain periods, looks the other way. Appearances are, as if the word of God would not take effect. The wicked venture mockingly to say, Where is the promise of his coming? They ask, where is your God? They insult our hopes, and would persuade us to give up religion as a dream. The feeble faith of the be liever is sometimes staggered. With a faultering mind he says to his fellow disciple, with the dismayed
Christians of old, I verily thought that this had been he who would have redeemed Israel.' This great question, whether the declarations of God in behalf of Zion, be to be depended on, has in the building up of Zion a clear affirmative answer. The building goes on. The word stands confirmed. Unbelief is confounded. The covenant is completely executed. And God is proclaimed to the joy of all benevo lent creatures, the faithful God.
Lastly. When God builds up Zion, he appears in the glory of successful superiority to all his enemies. In respect to Zion, God and wicked creatures are engaged in a very interesting struggle. God says it shall rise, the wicked say it shall fall. He builds; they en deavor to demolish. He orders his gospel to be preached; they attempt to silence it. He calls in, the subjects of grace, they attempt to hinder their conversion, or to decoy them back when converted. They seem to succeed. They become strong in their own imaginations and wax confident in their opposition. They anticipate a complete triumph over the people and cause of God. But when God works, who can let it? When he builds up Zion, it rises without difficulty. The strength of its enemies is found to be perfect weakness. They are beneath. He is above.
Let us now see,
3d. What reflections naturally follow from this subject.
1. It is an obvious inference from what has been said, that those who are opposed to real religion are in heart, and in all their actions the enemies of God. When real religion gains ground, Zion is built up. Real religion gains ground, when careless sinners are awakened, convinced of their total sinfulness are renewed in heart, joined to the Lord, and led on in connection with their companions in piety, in the narrow way of holiness. It gains ground eminently, when such instances of conviction and conversion are. numerous, under signal effusions of the Holy Ghost,
upon a congregation, a district, or country. Religi.
a on makes no progress in any other way.
Civil order and decorum of manners, are' altogether short of it. But to such a progress of religion, many are opposed. Spreading conviction and carnest inquires about the salvation of the soul, are a great trouble to them. The tears of the penitent are unsightly in their eyes. Prayer and zeal and exemplary holiness, are offensive to them.; They would gladly: see the subjects of religion, Tevolt back again to their former levity and worldli-, ness. Let all such opposers of true religion, consi.. der how their opposition proves the truth of the tes. timony of scripture, that the carnal heart is enmity against God. Resisting such a progress of religion, they resist the special operations of the Holy Ghost,
They are hostile to that work of God which is of su: preme value in his account, and to his appearing in his glory. What greater proof of perfect enmity to God can be given ? Is not this the same temper of mind precisely;" with that which put the Saviour of the world to death ; and in the same circumstances, would it not act in the same manner ?
2d. If God be the builder of Zion, and it was his përpose from eternity eminently to display his glory in building it up, then christians should never indulge the least despondency with respect to its invaluable interests. When opposition to truth and vital reli. gion is widely extended and apparently successful; when singular efforts to resist the torrents of corruption, and enlarge the boundaries of the redeemer's kingdom, seems to prove abortive, christians are too apt to yield themselves up to dejection and distrust. But how unreasaonble? How feeble that faith must be, which doubts, so easily? How is evidence lost - sight of; and how little honored is the divine tesmony? It were more reasonable to apprehend that the earth will be immediately dissolved, and that all worlds will expire, than that Zion will ever be left