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their affliction they shall seek me early,” Hos. v. 14, 15. Then it follows, “ Come and let us return to the Lord; for he hath torn, and he will heal us: he hath smitten, and he will bind us up,” Hos vi. 1. The Head of the body is both torn and healed; therefore, after the members of his body have been torn to pieces, he will heal them likewise; “ He will revive his work in the midst of the years ; and in wrath remember mercy,” Hab.
6. By lis raising up in three days the temple of his body, after it was destroyed, he gives a sure sign that he will not only raise and rebuild the temple of his' mystical body the church, when ruined by the destroyers of it, but that he will soon and seasonably do so;." I will in three days raise it up:" “ After two days he will revive us, in the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight,” Hos. vi. 2. Here a definite is. put for an indefinite time; but it is defined by three days.
(1.) Because Christ raising up the temple of his body in three days was the virtual up-rising of his church : their resurrection was included therein.
(2.) That there might be a resemblance betwixt his resurrection and theirs : what is spoken of the Head may be said of the members.
(3.) Because he will always raise and restore them in the appointed time, Hab. ii. 3. in the promised time, and in the fulness of time, and so,
(4.) Because now is the fit time for God to work and shew himself the God that quickeneth the dead. When the temple is destroyed, then it is God only that can repair it; therefore it is time for him to work. When Lazarus's body is now so long buried in the grave,
that by this time it stinketh : it is time for Christ to go and raise it. When his own body was interred, and though it could not see corruption, yet, to all outward appearance now ready to corrupt, and all hopes of revival gone, then it was time to shew his power-Thus he gave a sign, a sure sign, that at such a time as this he would revive his work, and relieve his church out of the hand of death and destruction, and raise his temple out of ruins.
Thus you see the reasons of the doctrine: by which iis confirmed, that Christ's power and ability to raise te temple of his body, when destroyed by men, is a are sign of his ability and authority, yea, of his purose and design, to raise and rebuild the temple of his , nystical body, when seemingly destroyed by men.
Ill. The third general head proposed, was, To deluce some inferences for the application. In this text ind doctrine, see what is justly applicable to the present time and circumstances wherein we are, whatever side of this text we look to : for it hath a dark side, and a bright side ; a dark side, that may excite fear and trembling, “ Destroy this temple :” and yet a bright side, for exciting faith and hope, “ In three days I will raise it up."
Ist, Look to the dark side; and hence see whether or not our Lord be saying of the temple of his church and mystical body at this day, as he did of his body human on earth, '“ Destroy this temple:” not preceptively, by his command; but permissively, by his providence, he is saying to destroyers of his church in Scotland, “ Destroy this temple.”
The temple of God in this world stands in the midst of destroyers, on the left hand, and on the right; and so does the temple of the associate church in Scotland at this day, whom God called forth to witness against the backslidings of the land, and the corruptions and defections of the day; they are now brought, as it were, to stand in the middle betwixt two extremes'; the backsliding Judicatories, on the one hand, who are going on in these courses of defection, that were the ground of our secession from them, and hardening themselves from what rents are among us, in carrying on violent settlements of pastors over the belly of reclaiming congregations : these, on the one hand, I say, and the schismatical course of a number of BRETHREN on the other.
How the backsliding Judicatories have been, for a course of
years, destroying that temple of the church of Scotland, is opened up at length in the Act and Testimony, emitted by the Associate Judicatory; so that I need not enlarge further on this head. But,
How, and whence it is, that a number of Brethrei from among ourselves, have arisen to ruin and destro this temple of the Associate church in Scotland, it i like may be reckoned proper, on this occasion, to con sider: and, on this head, there are two questions I would speak a little to.
1. How and by what methods hath God suffered men to pull down, and left this temple of the Association, to be destroycd, ruined, or demolished ?
2. What are the sinful causes anong us that have provoked God to order such a rent, rupture, and destruction; and to say in his holy providence, “ Destroy this temple ?"
[1.] As to the first question, How, and by what means and methods, God hath suffered this temple of the Association to be so far destroyed and demolished ?
I am not here to give a detail of all the particular things, wherein the Lord hath left a number that were among us, to pull down the carved work of his temple, and to raze what they built: particulars of this sort you have at length in prints among your hands* Only in the general, God hath suffered men to destroy this temple, in so far as he hath suffered them to make rents and divisions therein; for, “ A house divided against itself cannot stand;" and, indeed, “ For the divisions of Reuben, there have been, and are great thoughts of heart.” The mother that was for dividing the child, “ thereanent, &c. or not.” This vote being carried in the negative, the party, condemning the religious clause as sinful, immediately wirhdrew themselves from the Synod, and next day constitute them. selves
* The agreeable and beautiful harmony that had subsisted from the commencement of the Secession, among the Associate Brethren, was, by this time, quite obstructed by the unhappy difference which had taken place, in the Associate Synod, in April 1746, relative to the religious clause in some Burgess oaths ; The clause runs thus ; “ Here I protest, before God and your Lordships, That I profess es and allow with my heart, the true Protestant religion, presently « professed within this realm, and authorised by the laws thereof; " I shall abide thereat, and defend the same to my life's end, renounc“ ing the Roman religion called Papistry.” Various were the glosses put on these words; and strangely were they extorted and squeezed to support them. One part of the Synod viewed this clause as sinful, and accordingly condenined the swearing of it; while the other part considered it as lawful, and consequently defended the taking of it.
Though the sinfulness of the religious cause was condemned by a small majority of a thin meeting at the conclusion of the Synod in April 1746 ; yet the full Synod which met in April 1747, proposed, 6. Whether the decision concerning the religious clause in some bur“ gess oaths, in April 1746, should now or afterwards, be made a « term of ministerial and Christian communion, ay and until the mak“ing the same to be so, shall be referred, by way of overture, unto “ Presbyteries and Kirk-sessions, in order to giving their judgment
upon a new foundation, suddenly calling themselves the Synod, and the only Synod; and enacted, “ That all Presbyteries, Kirko “ sessions, aud Communities in the Association, were subject to “ them; and that all Courts, whether Presbyteries or Sessions, that “ were not subordinate to them, were unlawful Courts; and that all “ Ministers and Elders, who were not subject to them had lost the "keys of the kingdom of heaven;" and thus materially suspending and exauctorating all Ministers and Elders from their sacred offices, who could not yield subjection, to their authority.
Our Author himself wrote very elaborately on this topic, and published several pieces in defence of the Religious Clause in some burgess oaths ; such as, The Lawfulness of the Religious Clause of some Burgess Oaths asserted :— Fancy no Faith ; or, & Seasonable Admonition and Information to Seceders :-Observations upon the Conduct of the Separating Brethren ; with Fancy Still no Faith &c.— If the reader wants to be thoroughly informed concerning this debate, he may peruse the writings of others upon this head; such as, A Review of a Pamphlet, entitled, A serious Inquiry into the Burgess Oaths of Edinburgh, Perth and Glasgow :--The True State of the Question, upon which a Breach followed in the Associate Synod :-a Narrative of the Separation of the Majority of Members from the Associa ate Presbytery of Dumfermline :~ The Act of the Associate Synod at Stirling, Oct. 29, 1747, declaring the Nullity of the pretended Synod at Edinburgh, April 10, 1747, The New Consitution Unmasked, &c. with other Tracts.
But this was not all; they were even farther most unjustly accused, and accordingly, in what they called their Acts and Proceedings they found and declared, in the absence of their brethren,“ That they “ had dropt and turned their backs on the whole of the Lord's cause; " and renounced and abjured the whole of the Testimony; and that “all Courts that were not subordinate to them, were unlawful Courts, " and that all Ministers and Elders have fallen from all right and title to
any present actual exercise of the keys of the kingdom of heaven above “committed by the Lord Jesus, to the ofice-bearers of his house; and
consequently, are not to be acknowledged as Ministers of Christ,
by any that are cleaving to the Lord's cause and testimony.”—All this, not only in the absence of their brethren, but before being libelled, or so much as called before them. See the above mentioned Narrative, p. 57. Faith no Fancy, p. 13. New Constitution Unmasked, p. 30,--34.
was not the true mother ; surely, then, none can justly think these who were for dividing the true Associate body are the true Associate Synod. This hath been effectuated by the introduction of dividing questions about matters that were never our proper business : and, particularly, about a religious clause of some burgess oaths; wherein men promise to maintain the true religion, authorised by the laws of the land, renouncing popery: which was never our business to quarrel, but rather to commend, as a still standing testimony to that reformation which we ourselves profess to espouse.
Under the violent progress of this debate, it appears from the present writings of separating brethren, that some other thing hath been intended than was formerly pretended or professed, even the advancement of some wrong principle or opinion, concerning the kipgdom of Christ, as subversive of the kingdoms of this world. Such wrong notions, it would seem, even the apostles of Christ were ready, before the infallible Spirit was poured out upon them, to embrace, saying, “ Wilt thou at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” They dreamed of a temporal kingdom; and judged that Christ's kingdom was to bring down the state and civil government. It is evident some, in our day, err įn this matter, not knowing the due limits set, by the word of God, betwixt the kingdom of Christ, in his church, whereby his ministers are properly the ministers of Christ; and the kingdom of God, in the world, wherein magistrates are the ministers of God, or of Christ as God. Upon a dividing question, that hath some error of this sort under it, the Lord, for holy ends, hath suffered the temple to be destroyed by these that have been leaders, and caused others to err. [What figkungs some of us had, to keep out from our judicatories such bones of contention and division, several here have been witnesses unto.]
And that the foresaid dividing question did not want a relation to some erroneous notion concerning the kingdom of Christ, and the kingdoms of this world, appears evident from this, that no sooner did the separating Brethren, after their sinful separation and constitution, condemn the foresaid religious part, but they condemn