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fully accomplish them. He knows every elect vessel, and will bring the last of them to Christ and to glory. He knows the power of sin, and will subdue it. He will communicate whatever grace is necessary. He dwells in Zion to cleanse the blood that he hath not cleansed, and Judah shall dwell for ever, and Jerusalem from generation to generation.
2. It secures the glory to God, and makes GRACE the burden of the song. This is the great end of the whole plan of salvation; and it will be gained. Every degree of grace from conversion to glory, is for the honour of God. The Lord has formed his people for himself to show forth his praise. Sensible that he could not have delivered himself, every saint ascribes the glory to free grace. Those employed in public office are certain that they could as soon raise the dead, as translate an individual from the power of darkness to the kingdom of God's dear Son. Gladly would religious ministers and parents convert their connexions, but it exceeds their power. The Holy Spirit works all the work, and will bear the glory. So great a revenue of glory will accrue to him, that no just ideas can be formed of it, till we see it in a future world. Besides the power of his grace which quickens the soul and preserves it, there will be an illustrious display of infinite wisdom and care in innumerable instances, and he will be glorified by the season, as well as the event.
3. It prevents despondency in the most discouraging situation. The church and individual members are often reduced to straits which almost produce despair. Sometimes enemies cut down Zion's
carved work. Reformation once attained to is dropped and opposed. Doctrines are disregarded, and discipline is despised and neglected. Often they proceed to the hottest persecution. At other times, friends wax cold. The most spiritual decline. Their fervour abates, and their diligence is slackened. Former exertions are discontinued. In both cases, did the work depend on men, the prospect would be most distressing. The strength and activity of enemies and the languor and inactivity of friends would be equally discouraging. But, discovering the work in the hands of the Spirit, faith takes courage. Though men neither see how deliverance can be brought about, nor can accomplish it, He knows the manner, and is equal to the work. The deficiency of friends is always made up in him; and he can break the greatest opposition of enemies. The godly cease. These who have been most useful are removed. Zion trembles, and fears her loss can never be repaired. This and the other instrument is reckoned the chariots of Israel, and the horsemen thereof. The Holy Spirit can compensate the heaviest loss of this kind. He can raise up instruments equally qualified, or supply the church without them. All Israel lamented the death of Moses; but Joshua carried them unto the land of promise. Elijah dies; but a double portion of his spirit rested on Elisha. Times are often troublous. Even then, when the best would do little, the Holy Spirit can build the walls of Jerusalem. When Sion lies in rubbish, and no man cares for her, he can build her up, and restore her former beauty. Christ well knew that his church
would often be in a very perplexing condition; and that, reduced to the last extremity, she would be nonplussed and at her wit's end. He made ample provision in that encouraging declaration, John xiv. 16, " And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever, even the Spirit of truth." Indeed we greatly err, if we derive not all our encouragement from the Holy Spirit in the best, as well as the worst case. If matters prosper in Zion, he has done it; and if they go ill, he can rectify them, and has promised to do it.
4. Besides many other ends which might be named, the Lord takes this method that his people may always keep their eye on the word of grace, and the throne of grace. The word promises all that Sion needs. It encourages to make application. With the promise in its eye, faith cries, and prayer prevails. It cannot be otherwise. Infinite grace has made the promises, and will fulfil them. They are usually accomplished as an answer to prayer. The promises are various. They suit every condition. They secure deliverance from the hottest furnace, and a revival from the greatest declension. They ensure victory over enemies, and an increase of real friends. Were Sion to give up with every carnal scheme, and trust and plead the Divine promises, success would be certain. She would find both the truth and prosperity of the gracious declaration, that the Lord's temple will be built, and his work carried on, not by might, nor by power, but by the Spirit of the Lord.
We now proceed to the application, and from this subject we may learn,
1. That the gross of mankind are miserably mistaken about engaging in, and supporting, the Lord's work. When his truths are purely preached, and a faithful testimony maintained against prevailing corruptions, and only a few put their hands to it, the greatest part imagine that their presence and countenance would disgrace them. On this account, they can neither think of attending upon ordinances, nor supporting the good cause. Not so the Holy Spirit. He is the great agent. He is present in Sion, and supports the Lord's interest. What a source of encouragement is this to the few who engage heartily in it! Though poorly supported by men, the Spirit of God is with them, and his gracious presence can inspire them with courage under all their fears, and enable them to stem the tide of opposition. What though the mighty and wise be not for us? The Spirit is among us. Sion should still sing her celebrated song, "The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah."
2. That all attempts to crush the Lord's interest will prove abortive. Policy and power, malice and mischief, may all be exerted against it; but Sion is safe. Her God reigns. The people imagine a vain thing. He that sits in the heaven shall laugh. The Lord shall have them in derision. The Father hath set Christ king upon his holy hill. Christ pours out his Spirit. Opposition to the Lord's interest cannot eventually hurt it; but, sooner or later, will prove ruinous to all who attempt it. The Lord's
work shall subsist. It is maintained by him who has the heart of all men in his hands, and can control them as he pleases. He can disappoint all his adversaries. He can support and strengthen his people; and he will do it. He can increase grace in every heart where it is implanted; and he can convert the most unlikely. He has done great things for his church without number. He can never do worse. She should never forget his gracious assurance, "No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment, thou shalt condemn."
3. From this subject we may also see what the friends of Sion should most dread. They ardently desire the prosperity of the Lord's work. They would do much to promote it. The support of men of distinction and ability would be the joy of their hearts. When only a few in an impoverished condition appear for its support, they tremble and are dismayed. This is what they should fear, a provoking the Holy Ghost to depart. Wo be to us if he leave us. While he is among us, and gives gracious countenance to his ordinances, we have no reason to be afraid. He will bless his own people, and increase their number. Often when the beginnings have been small, through his gracious aid, the latter end has greatly increased. The Holy Spirit has more at stake in the prosperity of Christ's work than all the saints together. He is sent by Christ to promote his glory, and prosper his interest. Christ has shed his blood, and the Spirit will take care that it be not shed in vain. We should pray for HIM. In the lan