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só sweeter than honey to my mouth,” Pfal. cxix. '103. II. We are to consider what Christ here promiseth,
upan'this rock I will build my church. As an illustration of this part of the subject, it may be useful to notice : 1. What is here meant by the church. 2. By Christ's interest in her, my. church. 3.-By his promise concerning her,-- I will build my church. And 4. To notice fome things. concerning Christ, as the foundation of the whole fabric: upon this rock.
1. We are to notice what is here meant by the church.
Without entering upon the definition of a church, according to the usual acceptation of that term,or considering the peculiarities by which churches on earth are distinguished from one another ;--it need only be observed, that our Lord, in this pas. lage, directs our view to the collective, universal, perfect church, -to be gathered out of all the coin. munities which bear that name among men :--the church wherein all the ranfomed world shall be comprehended, --and from which no ransomed foul fhall be excepted.
Though nothing like this will ever be found, except in heaven; true church members, of every denomination, are viewed, by infinite Wisdom, even at present, as separated from the vessels of Wrath with whom, in their church capacity, they are severally mingled,-and, however unknown to themselves, united together in one church.
The reasons of different churches on earth, are, chiefly, two; their being separated, in the providence of God, by distance of language ;--or, where not separated by distance or language, the imperfection of their members, in holiness, must be
considered as the fource of all divisions, in sentiment or conduct, formed or propagated among them.
But neither of these can stand in the way of God's distinguishing his elect church, wherever her meinbers are scattered, or with whomfoever they are connected; for “ The foundation of God “ landeth (ure, having this seal - The Lord know“eth them that are his,” 2 Tim. ii. 19. Accordingly, the church is frequently spoke of as one : “ I speak, (says Paul to the Ephesians) con“ cerning Christ and the church," Eph. v. 32. And an infinitely greater than Paul is represented as saying, “I will declare thy game unto my “ brethren ;-in the midst of the church will I fing “ praise unto thee,” Heb. ii. 12.
2. We are to notice what is here meant by Christ's interest in her my church.
This select, diftinguished community, belongs to Christ, as Mediator, in different views.
(1.) As all the members of it were made over to him, by his Father's deed of gift: “ I have “ manifested (says he) thy name unto the men “ whom thou gavelt me out of the world ;-thine “ they were, and thou gaveft them me.” And again, “ I pray for them; I pray not for the world, " but for them which thou hast given me, for they “ are thine,” Joho xvii. 6, 9.
(2.) As all the members of it were redeemed, by his obedience unto death, from sin and hell.They were redeemed from fio,-for “ he hath ap" peared to put away sin, by the facrifice of him“ felf,” Heb. ix. 26.--and from hell, for, in the words of the aposlle, saints “ wait for the Son of " God from heaven, even Jesus which delivered us “ from the wrath to corne,” i Thess. i. 10.
(3.) As all the members of it have been, now art, or shall hereafter be introduced to the Faiher's
acceptance and approbation through him. Accordingly, we are told by one apostle, that, through Christ, both Jews and Gentiles “have an access by " one Spirit unto the Father,” Eph. ii. 18. and by another, that “ Christ hath once suffered for 66 sins, the just for the unjust that he might bring “ us to God,” i Pet. iii. 18. And,
(17.) As there is a real, though myftical, union between him, and each of them; such as there is between the tree and its various parts ;..." I am " the vine, (says he to his church)...ye are the * branches," John xv. 5. And such an union as. fubfilteth between the head and members, in the natural body; for, speaking of Christ, the apostle fays, “ He is the head of the body the church," Col. i. 18.
3. We are to notice what may be meant by our Lord's promise concerning his church. --- I will build
For illustrating this part of the subject the following observations may be attended unto:
(1.) That, in allufion to literal buildings, our Lord diggeth every member of his elect church from the quarry of a natural state ; and, by conversion, renders them capable of making constituent parts of this fpiritual edifice. This change, in their state and temper, he graciously effects by his word and spirit :-which, when effected, is distinguished, in fcripture, by terms the most significant and emphatical:-fuch as, being begotten “ by the “ word of truth,” James i. 18. “ born of the “ water and the spirit,” John i 5.-saved “ by “ the washing of regeneration and the renewing of " the holy Ghost," "Tit iii. 5.--and being “ crea. “ ted in Christ Jesus unto good works,” Eph. ii. 10.
(2.) That having prepared them, as fit materials,
he joins and unites them together; in one holy body or superltructure. · Tho', originally they consist of many different parts; --having prepared each heir of salvation for the particular place which is assigned him in this building, he makes, of them all, whether Jews or Gentiles, one beautiful whole. In which, when compacted, there thall be nothing defective, nothing superfluous; nothing contrary to the stricteft laws of fymmetry and proportion : for, “In him all the building fitly framed together, “ groweth into an holy temple in the Lord,” Eph, ü 21.
(3.) That, having joined the different parts of this.:building, by making “ them drink into one Spirit," he will continue to improve and imbellish the whole,
until it be crowned with the highest perfection
that the several members, apart, or all of them, taken together, shall be capable of. Accordingly, we are assured, that“ Christ loved the church, and “ gave himself for it, that he might fanctify and “ cleanse it with the washing of water by the word; “ ---that he might present it to himself a glorious “ church, not having Spot or wrinkle or any such " thing; but that it should be holy and without" blemish,” Eph. v. 25, 26, 27.
4. We are to notice some things concerning : Christ, as the foundation of the whole fabric :---up. on this rock. · Besides what was observed, on the first head, concerning the defence and provision which are in Christ for his church, when he is built ;--- there are different particulars concerning him, as the foundation of the building, which inerit all attention.
(1.).It may be observed, that though Christ, in his mediatory capacity, is the builder, according to iny text;-as the foundation, upon which the building stands, he was laid ;--for, “Behold, (says the
" Father) I lay in Zion, for a fonndation, a stone, a 66. tried stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foun" dation : he that believeth shall not make halte," If, xxviii. 16.
This evidently points at the Father's choice of him, from everlasting, to the mediatoral office; which choice is clearly expressed in the language of fcripture,-"I have said, mercy shall be built up 1“ for ever ; www. I have made a covenant with my “ chosen, I have laid help upon one that is migh. " ty, -I have exalted one chosen out of the peo. * ple, I have found out David my servant,” Pfal. Ixxxix. 2, 3, 19,20.
And the Father's' laying him for a foundation, points at his sending and qualifying him as Media tor. For, " when the fulness of the time was " come, (fays our apostle) God sent forth his Son, 6! made of a woman, made under the law, to “ redeem them that were under the law; that we os might receive the adoption of fons,” Gal. iv. 4, 5. Again, Christ himself is represented, by the apostle, as faying to his father, "A body hast thou “ prepared me,” Heb. X. 5. And again, the Father is represented as saying concerning Christ, “ with my holy-oil have 1 anointed him," Psal. Ixxxix. 20.
(24) Obferve, that Christ, the foundation of his church, is a rock, to point out what a strong and durable object of trust he is, in his divine nature. “ For,” according to Isaiah, "in this Lord Jehovah " there is everlasting strength,” If. xxvi. 4. And, according to the apostle, “Jesus Christ is the same "" yesterday, to-day, and for ever,” Heb. xii. 8..
Nay, in his very human nature, our Lord may be called a stone or rock, with manifest propriety ;because, as stones are raised out of a bed or quarry, replete with that mineral, the man Christ Jesus,