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appears in his visible church in a great work of salvation for his people : So it was when Christ came down from heaven in his incarnation, and appeared on earth in his human presence ; there was no such thing as being neuters, neither on his side nor against him ; Those that sat still and said nothing, and did not declare for him, and come and join with him; after he, by his word and works, had given sufficient evidence who he was, were justly looked upon as his enemies ; as
Matth. xi. 30. “ He that is not with me is against me ; and he that gathereth not with me, scattereth abroad. So it is in a time when Christ is remarkably spiritually pres. ent, as well as when he is bodily present; and when he comes to carry on the work of redemption in the application of it, as well as in the revelation and purchase. If a king should come into one of his provinces, that had been oppressed by its foes, where some of his subjects had fallen off to the enemy, and joined with them against their lawful sovereign and his loyal subjects ; I say, if the lawful sovereign himself should come into the province, and should ride forth there against his enemies, and should call upon all that were on his side to come and gather themselves to him ; there would be no such thing, in such a case, as standing neuter : They that laid still and staid at a distance would undoubtedly be looked upon and treated as rebels. So in the day of batile, when two armies join, there is no such thing for any present as being of neither party, all must be on one side or the other; and they that are not found with the conqueror in such a case, must expect to have his weapons turned against them, and to fall with the rest of his enemies.
When God manifests himself with such glorious power in a work of this nature, he appears especially determined to put honor upon his son, and to fulfil his oath that he has sworn to him, that he would make every knee to bow, and every tongue to confess to him. God hath had it much on his heart, from all eternity, to glorify his dear and only begotten Son ; and there are some special seasons that he appoints to that end, wherein he comes forth with omnipotent power to fulfil his promise and oath to him : And these times are times of remarkable pouring out of his Spirit, to advance his kingdom ; such a day is a day of his power, wherein his people shall be made willing, and he shall rule in the midst of his enemies ; these especially are the times wherein God declares his firm decree that his Son shall reign on his holy bill of Zion ; and therefore those that at such a time do not kiss the Son, as he then manifests himself, and appears in the glory of his majesty and grace, expose themselves to perish from the way, and to be dashed in pieces with a rod of iron.
As such a time is a time wherein God eminently sets his king on his holy hill of Zion, so it is a time wherein he remarkably fulfils that in Isa. xxviii. 16. “ Therefore thus saith the Lord God, behold I lay in Zion for a foundation, a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation." Which the two Apostles Peter and Paul, (1 Pet. ii. 6, 7, 8. and Rom. ix. 83) join with that prophecy, Isa. viii. 14, 15. “And he shall be sor a sanctuary; but for a stone of stumbling, and for a rock of offence to both the houses of Israel, for a gin and for a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem : And many among them shall stumble and fall, and be broken, and be snared and taken." As signifying that both are fulfilled together. Yea, both are joined together by the prophet Isaiah himself; as you may see in the context of that forementioned, Isa. xxviii. 16. In ver. 13, preceding, it is said, “ But the word of the Lord was unto them precept upon precept, precept upon precept ; line upon line, line upon line ; here a little, and there a little, that they might go, and fall backward, and be broken, and snared and taken." And according ly it always is so, that when Christ is in a peculiar and eminent manner manifested and magnified, by a glorious work of God in his church, as a foundation and a sanctuary for some, he is remarkably a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, a gin and a snare to others. They that continue long to stumble, and be offended and ensnared in their minds, at such a great and glorious work of Christ, in God's account, stumble at Christ, and are offended in him ; for the work is that by which he makes Christ manifest, and shows his glory, and by which he makes the stone that the builders refused, to be
come the head of the corner. This shows how dangerous it is to continue always stumbling at such a work, forever doubting of it, and forbearing fully to acknowledge it, and give God the glory of it : Such persons are in danger to go, and fall backward, and be broken, and snared and taken, and to have Christ a stone of stumbling to them, that shall be an occasion of their ruin ; while he is to others a sanctuary, and a sure foundation.
The prophet Isaiah, Isa. xxix. 14, speaks of God's proceeding to do a marvellous work and a wonder, which should stumble and confound the wisdom of the wise and prudent ; which the apostle in Acts xiii. 41, applies to the glorious work of salvation wrought in those days by the redemption of Christ, and that glorious outpouring of the Spirit to apply it that followed ; the prophet in the context of that place in Isa. xxix. speaking of the same thing, and of the prophets and rulers and seers, those wise and prudent, whose eyes God had closed, says to them, verse 9.“ Stay yourselves and wonder.” In the original it is, Be ye slow and wonder. I leave it to others to consider whether it is not natural to interpret it thus, « Wonder at this marvellous work ; let it be a strange thing, a great mystery that you know not what to make of, and that you are very slow and backward to acknowledge, long delaying to come to a determination concerning it.” And what persons are in danger of that wonder, and are thus slow to acknowledge God in such a work, we learn by that of the apostle in that forementioned Acts xii. 41. “Behold ye despisers, and wonder and perish ; for I work a work in your days, a work which you shall in no wise believe, though a man declare it unto you."
The church of Christ is called upon greatly to rejoice, when at any time Christ remarkably appears, coming to his church, to carry on the work of salvation, to enlarge his own kingdom, and to deliver poor souls out of the pit, wherein there is no water, in Zech. ix. 9, 10, 11.“ Rejoice greatly O daughter of Zion, shout O daughter of Jerusalem ; behold thy king cometh unto thee ; he is just and having salvation.....His dominion shall be from sea to sea.... As for thee also, by the blood of thy covenant, I have sent forth thy prisoners out of the pit wherein is no water." Christ was pleased to give a notable typical or symbolical representation of such a great event as is spoken of in that prophecy, in his solemn entry into the literal Jerusalem, which was a type of the church or daughter of Zion, there spoken of; probably intending it as a figure and prelude of that great actual fulfilment of this prophecy, that was to be after his ascension, by the pouring out of the Spirit in the days of the apostles, and that more full accomplishment that should be in the latter ages of the Christian church. We have an account, that when Christ made this his solemn entry into Jerusalem, and the whole multitude of the disciples were rejoicing and praising God with loud voices, for all the mighty works that they had seen, the pharisees from among the multitude said to Christ, Master, rebuke thy disciples ; but we are told, Luke xix. 39, 40, Christ " answered and said unto them, I tell you, that if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out :" Signifying, that if Christ's professing disciples should be unaffected on such an occasion, and should not appear openly to acknowledge and rejoice in the glory of God therein appearing, it would manifest such fearful hardness of heart, so exceeding that of the stones, that the very stones would condemn them. Should not this make those consider, who have held their peace so long since Christ has come to our Zion having salvation, and so wonderfully manifested his glory in this mighty work of his spirit, and so many of his disciples have been rejoicing and praising God with loud voices ?
It must be acknowledged that so great and wonderful a work of God's Spirit, is a work wherein God's hand is remarkably lifted up, and wherein he displays his majesty, and shows great favor and mercy to sinners, in the glorious opportunity he gives them ; and by which he makes our land to become much more a land of uprightness : Therefore that place, Isa. xxvi. 10, 11, shows the great danger of not seeing God's hand, and acknowledging his glory and majesty in such a work : « Let favor be showed to the wicked, yet will he not learn righteousness; in the land of uprightness he will deal unjustly, and will not behold the majesty of the Lord. Lord
when thy hand is lifted up, they will not see ; but they shall see, and be ashamed for their envy at the people ; yea the fire of thine enemies shall devour them.
It is not unlikely that this work of God's Spirit, that is so extraordinary and wonderful, is the dawning, or at least, a prelude of that glorious work of God, so often foretold in scripture, which in the progress and issue of it shall renew the world of mankind. If we consider how long since, the things foretold, as what should precede this great event have been accomplished ; and how long this event has been expecicd by the church of God, and thought to be nigh by the most eminent men of God in the church ; and withal consid. er what the state of things now is, and has for a considerable time been, in the church of God, and world of mankind, we cannot reasonably think otherwise, than that the beginning of this great work of God must be near. And there are many things that make it probable that this work will begin in America. It is signified that it shall begin in some very remote part of the world, that the rest of the world have no communication with but by navigation, in Isa. Ix. 9. “ Surely the Isles will wait for me, and the ships of Tarshish first, to bring my sons from far.” It is exceeding manifest that this chapter is a prophecy of the prosperity of the church, in its most glorious state on earth, in the latter days ; and I cannot think that any thing else can be here intended but America, by the isles that are far off, from whence the first born sons of that glorious day shall be brought. Indeed by the isles, in prophecies of gospel times, is very often meant Europe : It is so in prophecies of that great spreading of the gospel that should be soon after Christ's time, because it was far separated from that part of the world where the church of God had, until then been, by the sea. But this prophecy cannot have respect to the conversion of Europe, in the time of that great work of God, in the primitive ages of the Christian church ; for it was not fulfilled then : The isles and ships of Tarshish, thus understood, did not wait for God first ; that glorious work did not begin in Europe, but in Jerusalem, and had for a considerable time, been very wonderfully carried on Vol. III.