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economy which was to be committed to their trust, not individually and personally, but in their apostolical character, and as representing the whole body of those who should by their ordination and appointment be entrusted with the same office and execute the same commission. How, indeed, could it be said to James or Peter, that Christ would“ be with them always, even unto the end of the world ?” They personally would soon be no more.
But they were to survive in their sacred office; and their episcopal and ministerial services were to continue by a perpetual succession, till the consummation of all things. And thus we humbly rely in the present day, as our brethren in every preceding age have done, and as those in each future one will rely, on the grace and presence of Christ. He continues in his Church that order and subjection which the apostles instituted under his directions. He blesses the presiding ministers and chief overseers, whom, like Timothy and Titus, he calls to discharge the difficult duties of general care and superintendence. He blesses the presbyters and deacons in their high and dignified functions of administering the word and sacraments. He qualifies them for their stations, and directs their steps in his providence. He assists them in founding new, or restoring the spiritual health of ancient, Churches. He blesses the “schools of the prophets”the Colleges and academical institutions for training up a learned and pious ministry. He accompanies prayers and reading of Scripture, and preaching and sacraments with his Spirit. “ Where two or three are gathered together in his name,” in any part of the world and in any age,
there is he in the midst of them.”
How manifestly this omnipresence of our Lord Christ in volves the doctrine of his proper deity, I need scarcely point out ; except, as it confirms so remarkably the view of the mystery of the triunity of
“ I am
the Godhead to which we have already had so often to advert in this discourse.
3. But a concluding blessing dependant on the presence of Christ with his Church, and with which this discussion must now close, is the communi. cation of all the aid which their especial cases may require. There is something most touching in this view, in the assurance, “Lo, I am with you alway, even to the end of the world”-I your Savior, your Master, your Lord; I who died for your sins and rose again for your justification. “I am with you"
your secret trials, in the retirement of your closets, when you are desolate, banished, deserted. with you” to cheer, to pour into your hearts light, faith, love, patience, joy, perseverance. I am with you “always”; at all seasons, all the days of your and your successors' lives, under all emergencies ; and most so under the most extreme. No circumstances can arise when I am absent; no difficulties occur to surprise my vigilance, or find me less present to succor. In all parts of the world, in all sorrows, in all disappointments, in all the moments of dejection, you are not alone-one is present with you, who is more than “Father and mother, wife and husband, children and lands and treasures ;" one who will raise and cheer and strengthen the heart when no one else can. And this is “ to the end," not of the life of this or that remarkable person, in this or that age, but “to the end of the world,” the consummation of the ages, the accomplishment of the great redemption, the close of all things.
This promise, you observe, goes much further than the assertion of our Lord's universal dominion in the first part of the text. That was the claim of authority entrusted to his hands; this an assurance of constant aid and compassion to his afflicted Church ; that was to be the foundation of his kingdom ; this the support of those who erected it; that
was the assumption of his state ; this the tender and affectionate assuaging of bis Church's griefs and necessities ; that was sublime and magnificent ; this consoling and refreshing to the weary heart; the first inspires us with courage to form plans of missions and undertake the labor of such a cause ; the second touches the feelings of those already engaged, and assures them of a friend and comforter in the stormy passages of life; the one reveals the Ruler, the King, the Sovereign on his mediatorial throne; the other, the gracious Savior speaking to the heart of the believer by his grace, and giving consolation to the teacher, and inward light and holiness to those who are taught.
But we hasten to conclude by observing, How surely the ultimate triumph of Christianity is secured by all the topics we have been reviewing. The authority of our Lord stands in force still; his commission is unrepealed still ; the presence of Christ with his Church in executing it, remains still. All these principles are as vigorous and unimpaired now, as they were eighteen centuries since. What a dignity and confidence and hope are thus imparted to the Christian cause even under its darkest seasons. Our Master sits exalted on high. Our Master has unlimited dominion and power. Our Master knows his own purposes, and is proceeding in his own method. He allows indeed intermediate trou. bles to fall on his Church, he exercises it with long delays, he purifies it by adversities. But he deserts it not. He is preparing, in his own time and manner, its triumph. He is never nearer, than when to the eye of sense, he seems most remote. Every thing is moving on towards the destined glorious result, when all enemies shall be put under his footstool, when the earth shall be filled with the know. ledge of his grace, and he shall reign supreme from the rising to the setting sun.
Let us not regard then the contempt of the proud, the indifference of the unthinking, or the apprehension of the timid; our Lord and his cause have always thus been treated. The blessed, ultimate triumphs of Christianity are not less true, nor less secure. At length the end will come, and the commission of the text be fully obeyed and accomplished-that commission which comprehends, as it were, within a few brief words, the whole of Christianity-all its doctrines, all its precepts, all its discipline, all its consolation, all its authority, all its propagation, all its grace, all its triumph.
ISAIAH LXI. 11.
For as the earth bringeth forth her bud, and as the
garden causeth the things that are sown in it to spring forth ; so the Lord God will cause righte. ousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations.
Having reviewed at some length the commission given by our Savior for the universal propagation of the gospel, we proceed, in the next place, to consider, from the words of the prophet which we have read, the gradual conversion of mankind, as illustrated by the process of vegetation.
To examine more closely the force of the illustration, we shall institute a comparison between spiritual and natural vegetation in three respects as to the seed sown; as to the extent of ground brought under cultivation; and as to the manner in which the fruitfulness is produced.
I. The seed sown in this spiritual cultivation is here described by the words “righteousness and praise.” This is the seed of the kingdom. This is the doctrine which the sower goes forth into “ the