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have pursued the persecutors and oppressors of the church, the enemies of Christ and His gospel, but to the purpose of Him who reigns in righteousness? The same passages which tell of His mild and peaceful government assure us that He shall smite the earth with the rod of His mouth, and with the breath of His lips shall He slay the wicked.* The effect may be less visible, but it is not less awful, when sinners are left to the hardness of their own hearts; when God's Holy Spirit is withdrawn, and conscience, reposing in deceitful security, is a stranger to serious apprehension. The famine of the word of the Lord, † and a determined carelessness about the welfare of the soul, are in many cases to be regarded as indications of righteous judgment, not less than the most afflictive external appointments of Divine Providence.

Shall we speak next of the church of Christ, and of those who compose it? The Messiah is represented as ruling over His kingdom, with a special reference to the church ; to order it and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. I It is with a view to the increase and stability of it that He + Amos viii. 11.

Isa. ix. 7.

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Isa. xi. 4.

controls the course of this world, and every event, whether in our estimation prosperous or adverse, which befalls His church, is wisely directed, and tends to the consummation of His righteous counsels. Such is the vigilance of the Messiah for His kingdom; such the care with which He watches over its interests; and, sometimes by trial and discipline, and sometimes by outward prosperity, demonstrates the righteousness of His reign. In the confidence of that protection, the church of old, amidst all its vicissitudes, greatly rejoiced; and the church in every age may adopt their language of exultation ; God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble ; therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea.* Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised in the city of our God, in the mountain of His holiness : God is known in her palaces as a sure refuge.t And this care is exercised over every part of His kingdom. With righteousness, it is said, shall He judge the poor :I the poor in spirit, the meek in heart, these He will regard with favour and watch over them for good; they acknowledge Him as their Sovereign; and whatever be

* Ps. xlvi. 1,

2.

+ Ps, xlviii. 1-3.

| Isaiah xi. 4,

their condition in this world, surely it shall be well with them.

And if we should confine ourselves merely to this general view of the kingdom of Christ, and of the manner in which it is administered, there is much to excite apprehension in one class of men, and much to inspire confidence and hope into another. Who that reflects upon the severity of His judgments would willingly provoke His anger? Who that contemplates His delight in His people, His readiness to hear, and His power to protect them, would not say with the Psalmist, Blessed are they that put their trust in Him?*

II. But the Prophet does not leave us with a general declaration concerning the reign of the Messiah, however instructive; he goes on to describe, by very beautiful imagery, and by some very striking particulars, the happiness of His subjects. And a man, or the 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.

The purport of this figurative language is to represent to us the Lord Jesus Christ, as a refuge to His people, from the evils and dangers to

* Ps. ii. 12.

which they may be exposed, and as a sure source of refreshment and consolation under their trials. Let us consider it in a practical manner in each of these views.

1. He is a refuge from evils and danger.

The man shall be as a hiding-place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest. How welcome to the traveller is a place of retreat and security, from the fierceness of the storm! Such a hiding-place is the Saviour of the world, to all those who flee to Him in the time of trouble.

Could we have conversed with the apostles and early Christians, and have inquired of them, when suffering from severe persecution, what was the view which they entertained of their own state, they would doubtless have answered, that there was a hiding-place to which even then they could flee and be safe. From the relentings of their oppressors they looked for no favour; they well knew that the world

vas their enemy, as it had been the enemy of their Lord ; and that the spirit of hostility to the cross of Christ would never be satisfied, till it had driven them from the earth. But with what confidence could they betake themselves to Him, in whose cause they suffered? how fully were they persuaded that if it

were His will, He could deliver them even from the mouth of the lion ;* and that whatever might be His purpose, as it respected their outward condition, all things should work together for their good. They believed the declaration of Christ, that He was always with them; and hence they found Him to be a hiding-place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest. Under such circumstances, fiercely as the wind might rage around them, it disturbed not the serenity of their minds; they were in an asylum beyond its power: they felt like the Psalmist, that though the waters might roar, and be troubled, and the mountains might shake with the swelling thereof,t they had in their Redeemer a sure refuge and strength, a very present help in the time of trouble.

2. The writers of the New Testament frequently advert to the temptations also of the Christians, and the terms in which they speak on this subject, indicate severe and painful conflicts. We are reminded of the power of that spirit of evil, awfully denominated the Tempter, whose indefatigable employment it is, as well to harass the child of God, as to urge on the sinner to eternal destruction. The

* 2 Tim. iv. 17.

+ Ps. xlvi. 3.

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