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torious gift of God to man was the procuring cause of human redemption, the instrumental demonstration and sublime result of which appear in the institutions of the Church of Christ. They are divine; hence it is written, “ The Lord loveth the gates of Zion more than all the dwellings of Jacob.”* And “the Lord shall count, when he writeth up the people, that this (and that) man was born there.”+
1. The Divinity of the Church, considered from its origin. “ The highest himself shall establish her.”
If the origin of the Christian religion cannut be clearly traced to a Divine authorship, then must infidelity be right, and the pledges of faith in Christ the most stupendous fraud ever practiced upon a deluded world. But if, on the contrary, the tracery of the system be distinctly clear, and direct from God, through Christ, then, instead of “a cunningly-devised fable," it will appear to all (what it really is) the most magnificent truth ever revealed from heaven to man—a Daguerrean impress of God in his nature, made with infallible exactitudo by the Holy Ghost, and conveyed by the lights of peace and purity to the tables of the human heart. While it is written, therefore, that “ Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him,”I (that is, the glorious realities which, as results of the system, shall be inherited by the Christian in the future world,) it is also said that God hath revealed them unto us by his Holy Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, even the deep things of God.”'ll
1. The conception of the plan of salvation, of which the Church is the visible instrumentality, was first in heaven, and not on the earth, and was of God, and not by man.
In the beginning God created all things, and pronounced them perfect-not only good, but “very good.” The world, antecedent to the fall of man, presents to the mind a glorious vision of beauty, grace, and power. Wrapped in the sublime foldings of eternity past, God looked out from himself upon the mighty void, and said, “Let there be light." In obedience to the Divine fiat, the earth rose majestically into gracefulness of form and being; the heavenly bodies wheeled into their courses; and the sun, putting aside the veil from off his golden face, as the eye of Deity, looked forth upon the scenewhen, it is said, “The morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy.” Such a scene, we should think, would be, in the nature of things, abundantly sufficient to produce such a result. And yet, far more sublime was the birth of man. In his case, a Council of Deity seems to have been called; for “ God said, Let us make man in our image."* And so man was created (whatever may be his condition now) in the image of God. How long this state of perfect being might have continued, or what would have been the result, is not for this present inquiry. He did not so continue. But, instead of resisting the temptation--of casting from him the forbidden fruit-and so, in a second triumph over Lucifer, calling the heavenly hierarchies to shout around the new-born victorious son of earth, be yielded-he tasted—and he died. With his own rash hand, he plucked away the keystone from the symmetric arch of human immortality, and the whole fabric sunk in ruins. The earth felt the blow, and shuddered; the elements labored, and breathed out their low lament; while heaven stood still, astonished (as it would seem, if not aghast) at the dreadful scene.
* Psalms lxxxvii, 2.
1 Verse 6.
11 Cor. ii, 6.
I Verse 10.
To this point may be traced the first inception of the plan of salvation, whose promise was primarily revealed in heaven, and then applied upon earth. In the vision of St. John, (which may be considered in some degree a figure of the past, as well as a mirror of the future,) a mysterious book is
" which no man in heaven, nor in earth, neither under the earth, was able to open.”+ And, as it is declared, the prophet wept, because no man was found worthy to open and to read the book. But presently his tears are checked, and his sorrow is turned to joy, for a champion appears !-he comes in the panoply of the Highest, and shows himself to be the Lord of his own presence! Clothed with the omnipotence of power Divine, he lays his hand upon the book, which instantly unclasps itself beneath his touch, as the heavenly annunciation sounds, " Behold, the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, the Root of David, bath prevailed to open the book !"I What was the book ? Was it a symbol of the Biblethe book of mercy to man-the book of salvation to the world ? So it would seem; for, as an immediate consequence of the opening of the volume, the Lion has turned to a Lamb, which, as an object of high worship, stands in the midst of the throne, robed in sacrifice, as it had been slain from the beginning of the world. It was the “ Lamb
made to appear,
Rev v, 2.
of God," presented in sacrificial pledge, to take away the sin of the world ;” which pledge was afterwards redeemed on Calvary, when the universal altar smoked with the blood of a God! It was the book of human privilege-the charter of redemption in Jesus Christ-which, as a transcript of the heavenly mind, was destined to be, and is, the constitution of the Church ; and, by grace, " the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth."
Herein we discover, that the campaign of the world's restoration was drawn and plotted in the court of heaven. There it originated, and thence cometh all its power. With the promulgation of its plan, came forth the divine firman for the organization of its earthly forces, which, from the first till now, led on by “ the captain of our salvation," have demonstrated to the world, and to listening heaven, the divinity of the organic cause. From the heavenly throne, the golden chain of divine truth, consecrated in the blood of the Lamb, and borne by the hand of free-grace, descended to man, and, encircling the whole body of time with its “link-work” of blessed promises, was borne back by an ascending Saviour, and joined to its counter extremity again in heaven ;-thus, with its ample powers, it embraces and sustains the whole world, while it freely offers itself, by the Holy Spirit, to lift every individual of the human race, up to the seat of its divinity who will place their trust in it.
2. The Divinity of the Church is seen in the manner of its communication, which was FROM heaven in Christ.
The long period of spiritual and moral darkness which preceded the coming of Messiah, presents upon the pages of the past, a no less striking than solemn contrast with the glowing scene, that witnessed his descent to earth. For centuries, the kingdom of Judah bad been in a state of progressive decline. The prophecies concerning the Jews, according to Rabinical construction, had been mainly fulfilled, at least those whose fulfilment was located antecedent to the advent of Messiah, save one, in the promise of whose prediction they continue to rest their once bright, but now almost expiring hope. This was the prophecy of Jacob, made in the hour of his death—“ The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the peo
Year after year of anxious hope came and went, as the
* Gen. xlix, 10.
« Is his mercy
sun of the Jewish polity descended, slowly, the western heavens; and yet Shiloh came not. The flight of the Roman Eagle was already in the land, and forming his circles above the devoted city-awaiting, as it would scem, but the time appointed, to descend upon his quarry.*
The question now began to be started, What shall the end of these things be? “ Has God forgotten to be gracious ?" clean gone forever 2” If not, where is the prophecy of Jacob, Where is Shiloh? Already the decree of the Emperor has gone forth: Judah has been gathered together, and with the dawn of the morning, the enrolment of taxation, which was to wrest the “ sceptre” and remove the lawgiver, would commence. The last day of Judean empire had came, and the last night of their Theocratic existence was preparing to spread its dark mantle, as a funeral pall, over their dead hope. But it is truly said, that man's extremity is God's opportunity; so it proved in this case. A band of pious shepherds were on this momentous night watching their flocks on Bethlehem's plains, which lay near to Jerusalem ;-as they kept their sleepless vigil, it is likely their thoughts turned upon their national condition, and their minds communed with God. How solemn the scene! and presently too, how exciting! Just as the climbing night, in darkness wrapt, was about to strike upon the bell of time the turning hour, and tell to the city and the plains that the new day was born, a sun-like glory leaped from the heavens above, and lighted up the scene. The shepherds stood entranced. What was it? Not the morning, nor yet the meridian sun, but God in the fulfilment of his promise. For “Lo the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them.”+ In the midst of the glory, as in a chariot of descending light, a holy company now appear, for,“ suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God.”I It was Liberty's natal anthem; the liberty of the world from the bondage of sin and death ; sung by the synod of God. Shiloh had
“ for unto you," said the sacred messenger, “is born this day, in the city of David, a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.''|| It was the coming of the king into his kingdom, the head unto the Church, to impress, with his own presence, his own divinity upon the institution he had set up. Loud from the heavens rung the chorus of his advent, which still reverberates through the world—“Glory to