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SERMON IV.

CHRIST THE REFUGE OF HIS PEOPLE.

ISAIAH xxxii. 1, 2.

“ Behold, a king shall reign in righteousness, and princes

shall rule in judgment. And a man shall be as a hiding place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest: as rivers of water in a dry place, as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land.”

This is one of the many passages to be found in the sacred writings, which were intended to support the people of God under afflictive appointments by encouraging them with the prospect of happier times. The inspired prophet is led on some of these occasions, while beholding the depression of his country, to speak of her future elevation; or contemplating the impiety and injustice of her rulers, to tell of princes who should hereafter arise and prove a blessing to the nation and an honour to their land; but in descriptions of this nature he glances at a brighter period than days of merely temporal felicity, and at a more glorious reign than that of any earthly sovereign. As the whole dispensation of the ancient church was preparatory to the introduction of the gospel, so were the greatest princes of Israel and Judah in some respects typical of that Prince of peace, who was hereafter to sit upon the throne of David.* It is therefore to the days of the Messiah, rather than to the immediate subject of prediction, that in such cases the glowing language of the prophets must be understood to apply: it is in the prospect of His reign that the inspired servant of God kindles into rapture, and to the blessings of His government that he directs the views of an oppressed and afflicted nation. The passage just read seems in the first instance to be descriptive of king Hezekiah : a sovereign, who both in his personal character and in the rule of his

government was an ornament to the throne; but the pious Israelites would be taught to discover in these words the promised advent of Him who was the desire of all nations, t and eminently the glory of his people Israel. I To Him they would look forward as the King who should indeed reign in righteousness: to Him, as in the highest sense a hiding place from the wind, and a covert

* Isa. ix. 7.

+ Hag. ii. 7.

Luke ii. 32.

from the tempest: as rivers of water in a dry place, as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land.

These words bring before us,

I. The GENERAL EQUITY OF THE REIGN OF THE MESSIAH; and,

II. The PECULIAR BLESSINGS OF HIS SUBJECTS. May we, my brethren, submit to his authority, and partake in the blessings of his people.

I. The GENERAL EQUITY OF THE REIGN

OF THE MESSIAH.

Concerning the existence and reality of His kingdom we need no assurances more distinct than are those contained in the second psalm, where the Almighty expressly declares that He hath set Him upon His holy hill of Sion and challenges for Him the obedience of all the kingdoms of the world. In asserting therefore the authority of our glorified Saviour, as Sovereign over His dominions, we advance not a theory but a fact; we affirm a clear and unquestionable truth: there is nothing more real in the visible government and administration of earthly rulers, than there is in the controlling and commanding agency of the Son of God. Such is the testimony of the Holy Scriptures.

And not only does that kingdom exist, but it is the avowed purpose of the divine counsels, that of the increase of it there shall be no end. The Lord hath said unto me, thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee; ask of me and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession.

Now, concerning this King, this then expected Messiah, it is said in the text that He shall reign in righteousness, and princes shall rule in judgment; that is, His government shall be just and equitable throughout the whole extent of His dominions. It is the fate of earthly sovereigns, that however pure their intentions and however just their laws, they cannot ensure the righteous execution of them. The benevolent purposes

of the supreme power have often been perverted by those who were appointed to carry them into effect. But in the kingdom of the Messiah it is not so: His Spirit shall be every where present: His princes shall rule in judgment.

This righteousness of the Messiah, or the equity of his government, may be explained in reference to the enemies of His church, to the church itself, and to the individuals who compose it. Every act of His interposition is founded in

* Psalm ii. 7, 8.

justice, and is consistent with the purity of His holy nature.

Shall we speak of the enemies of His church and people? It is said to the Messiah in relation to them, Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron : thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel.*

Although the Son of Man came not to destroy men's lives but to save them:t although in the exercise of His personal ministry He endured the contradiction of sinners against himself, I and exhibited to His followers a pure pattern of meekness and of love, yet in the government of His kingdom He visits determined hostility with awful retribution. Under the old dispensation, the realms which resisted the will of God were swept with the besom of destruction : He gave the word, and entire armies were cut off by the destroying angel; and who shall say that the distress of nations, which we often witness in later days, may not probably be traced to the impenitence of the people and their unwillingness to submit to the yoke of Christ ?

To what cause shall we ascribe the miseries, which even in this world

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