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masters; of clients to an advocate to plead their cause. It is a gathering of drowning men to an ark, to save their lives; and a gathering of patients to a plıysician, to heal their diseases. Lord, says the gathered foul, my disease is mortal and incurable; I will die of this disease, if thou do not heal me. Well, fays Chriit, “ This fickness is not unto death ;" I can cure the disease of death itself, fpiritual death. Lord, fays another, my disease is a lingering disease, it is an halt and lameness, that I cannot so much as come to the phy. ficia: for healing, and I am like to go halting to the grave, under a certain fore that no-body knows of. Is that your disease, woman? mind that word, Micah vi. 4. "I will heal her that halteth :” and be encouraged ftill to be about the physician's hands. . 2. From sensitives; this gathering of the people to Shiloh is represented in fcripture in the following respects. This gathering to Shiloh is like the gathering of sheep to a thepherd ; “ Ye were as sheep without a shepherd, but now are ye returned to the shepherd and bishop of your souls. Other sheep I have, that are not of this fold, says Christ; these also I must bring.”-He must gather them, and they must be gathered, according to his promise, Ezek. xxxiv. II, 12. Ifa. xl. 11. O wandering sheep, here is the fold. It is like the gather. ing of doves to their windows; Isa. ls. 8. “Who are these that fly as a cloud, as doves to their windows ?" The wounds of Christ, the holes of the Rock of ages, the promises sealed with his blood, and all his offices, are the windows; and to gather to him, is to fly to these windows; and make your neit in the rock.- It is like the gathering of fishes into a net; Mat. xiii. 47. The kingdom of beaven, or the gospel, is likened unto it net caf into the feni, gathering of every kind. O when the gospel.net is spread, do not swim away: it may be, your thoughts are fwimming in the air, when they fhould be gathered about the mouth of the net.--Sometimes it is likened to the gathering of chickens under the brings of a hen; Mat. xxiii. 37. Luke xiii. 34. 0. Ferusalein, Ferufalem, how often would I have gatber
but ye would not! O the wings of his grace, the wings of his righteousness, the wings of his merit, the wings of his mercy are stretched! If we will not be gathered, the silly chickens will witness against us; for they gather at the cluck of the hen under her wings.Again, it is like the gathering of eagles to their prey; Mat. xxiv. 28.“ Where the carcase is, thither will the eagles be gathered together.” Whither should the eagles go, but to the prey? And, whither should the soul go, but to Christ, who hath the words of eternal life? Christ's Aesh and blood is the carcase, which, like hungry eagles, we should be gathering unto ; for his flesh is meat indeed, and his blood is drink indeed.
3. From vegetables ; this gathering of the people to Shiloh is represented, in the following refpects. It is like the gathering of wheat into a barn; Mat. iii. 12. “ He will gather the wheat into his garner.” Mat. xiii. 30.“ Gather the wheat into my barn.” God will not lose a grain of his wheat; he will not only gather it to the barn to be kept, but the granary to be purified.-It is like the gathering of grafts into a branch ; “ I am the vine, ye are the branches : he that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit,” John xv. 5. When God gathers fouls to himself, he takes a branch of the old Adam, cuts it off from the old stock, and ingrafts it into Christ, from whom, as the everlasting root, it derives all fap of grace, all the fruits of righteousness.—It is like the gathering of plants into a garden or vineyard ; “ The vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah his pleasant plant,” Ifa. v.7. And these, whom he effectually gathers into his garden, are called, “ Trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified.” To be gathered unto Christ, is to be planted in his house. It is like the gathering of fruit into a basket, or of flowers and lilies for pleasure and enter. tainment; “My beloved is gone down to his garden to gather lilies,” Song vi. 2. Having gathered them into his garden, and planted them, and suffered them to grow, through his grace, till they be ripe, he gathers them
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to himself, and picks them one by one, to put them in his bofom. But again,
4. From inanimate things, this gathering of the peo. ple to Christ is represented, in the following respects. It is a gathering of vessels to an harbour ; for, before the foul be brought in to Christ, it is like a ship tossed in the tempest, and turnbling in the swelling waves, like the ship in which the disciples were, when the sea was tempestuous, and Christ came walking on the fea towards them: but when they are gathered in to Christ, then they are at anchor in a safe harbour:“ Which hope we have, as an anchor sure and stedfast, entering within the vail, whither the Forerunner is for us entered,” Heb. vi. 19. It is a piercing, entering anchor; for, as an anchor will not hold a ship firm and fast, if it only ly on the ground, and do not pierce deep into it; fo faith will not establish the heart, if it do not enter into Christ, as it were, and pierce the vail? But when once it enters here, then the soul is at a safe harbour, and a sure an. chor both.--Again, this gathering of the people to Shiloh is like the gathering of stones to a building; “ To whom coming, as to a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chofen of God and precious ; ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house,” i Pet. ii. 4. We are by nature hard stones, senseless stones, stupid, inflexi. ble, dull, heavy stones, having an heart of stone, Ezek. xxxvi. 29.; but God can, even of these stones, raise up children to Abraham, Mat. iii. 8. Luke iii. 9. And what does God condescend to do, when he comes to gather finners? Behold, he comes to gather stones! and he sends us that are ministers out to gather stones. It was a sin for the man to gather sticks on the Sabbath-day; but it would be no sin, but a good Sabbath's work for us, if we were gathering stones this day, to bring them to the chief corner Stone, the fure Foundation, as Christ is called, i Pet. ii. 6. Isa. xxviii. 16. “This is the stone which the builders rejected; but the same is become the head of the corner,” Pfal. cxviii: 22. What we translate the chief corner stone, fome translate it the bigbest, and fome the lowest stone: but it is best to reconcile both, and make him both the highest and lowest, reachiọg from the first to the last ; because his name is Alpha and Omega, the first and the last : and because he is the stone that reaches from earth to heaven, from the church militant to the church triumphant; he is the corner stone to bring both sides of the building together, Jews and Gentiles into one temple: and, “ Another foundation can no man lay,” says the apostle, “ than that is laid, which is Chrift;" to this foundation should the stones be gathered. Solomon fays, Eccl. iii. 9. - There is a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together.” In allusion to this, inay I say, What sort of time is this! It hath long been a time of casting away stones, many are like castaway stones in the field, or defert of nature, hard and dead stones; they never gather to the living temple, by all the gathering means and ordinances that ever they enjoyed : they look like stones ready to be caft away to hell, to be fuel for God's wrath ; because the fire of love and grace, manifested in the gospel, could never melt them. Oh! it hath been thus a time of casting away stones: when it is not a gather. ing time, it is a rejecting time. But, O shall we now expect a time of gathering stones together! O cry for a day of power, a gathering day, a gathering time to Scotland again ; a gathering time to yourselves, even God's hand of power, for gathering stones together to Christ the foundation ; and so for gathering the people to Shiloh!
IV. The Fourth thing proposed was, to speak of the manner of this gathering to Shiloh. That which I in. tend under this head, distinct from the former is, to en. quire, 1. Into the means of this gathering: 2. The qualities thereof.
First, As to the means thereof, or by what means the gathering to Shiloh is brought about. By what means fay you, does God gather the people, or are the people gathered to Christ? We have warrant from fcripture to speak of these fix gathering means.
1. A gathering hedge and inclosure; I mean, the hedge of providence, by which he gathers people occafionally, as sheep within an inclosure are gathered toge.
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ther, that they may not get leave to stray. This is the thorny hedge of affliction, whereby the Lord stops the finful career of these, whom he hath aimed to gather in to himself; Bebold I will bedge un tby ocy wii's thorns, and make a wall that the fall not find her paths, Hofer ii. 6. Thus Manasseh was catched among the thorns, 2 Chron. xxxiii. II. And to this purpose, says David, " It was good for me that I was afilicted; for before I was afflicted, I went astrav,'' Psal. cxix. 67. Thus fome affliction or other many times is made use of, as the occasional mean of gathering straying fouls to Christ, or fome alarming providence, as that which Paul met with, Acts ix. and the jaylor, Acts xvi. when the foundation of the prison was shaken with an earth-quake. But this leads me to another mean.
2. There is a gathering storm and tempest, with thunder and lightening from mount Sinai, whereby an carthquake is raised in the conscience, or rather an heartquake in the foul. By this mean of law-terrors and convictions, according to the measure wherein it is dispensed, he gathers the people preparatively, as by the former occafionally. This dispensation is called a tempest, Heb. vii. 18. accompanied with blackness and darkness, and burning fire. And as a blowing storm, or beating tempeft, makes a man chearfully to betake himself to a house for shelter; fo the storm of legal conviction and humiliation makes people willing to gather unto Shiloh. Hence the law is said to be our schoolmaster to school us to Christ, as the word there fignifies, Gal. iii. 24. “ By the law is the knowledge of fin," and the conviction of wrath ; and while the storm of law-threatenings, lawcurses, law.vengeance is beating and battering on the foul, it is glad to cry out, “ What shall I do to be saved?” And where shall I go to be sheltered ? Under this difpensation, there are two things that the foul fees, when the law comes with force, namely, the spirituality of the command, and the severity of the threatening. The spirituality of the precept discovered makes the man cry, Oh! I am unclean, unclean! The severity of the threatening discovered makes him cry out, Oh! I am undone, undone! O the infinite holiness of God in Vol. IV.