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Now, let us take any one point of time, and any one spot of earth, and let this kingdom be established there, and this gospel be known there, and this decree of God be proclaimed there, and we at once perceive that by the very necessity of the case, this central luminary radiates outwards to those who are still heathen, even to the uttermost parts of the earth—that is, to those parts of the earth which are outermost from that centre. And we are plainly taught by God, that it was for this very purpose that such church was established. God placed it where it is, in the centre of its own particular orbit-just as he did the sun, and the moon, and the stars—to give light unto all. For this very end and no other, were that particular church, and the church universal—which is the sum of all particular churches-ordained and established on the poles of truth, and in the sphere of sinful humanity, that they might each one, according to their ability, irradiate its darkness with the light of the glorious gospel of the blessed God..
And hence in David's time Zion had its central throne in Palestine; and Europe, Great Britain, and America were, relatively to it, heathen, and at the uttermost ends of the earth. At earlier periods Zion had a different centre, different radii, and a differ. ent circumference. At other periods it had several centres, like the several planets of a system, from each of which the light diffused itself, and the sound of the gospel went forth into all the region round about. After the resurrection of Christ, and his ascension to heaven, and his bestowment of celestial gifts -inspiration, miracles, ordinances, officers, and above all others in glory and importance, the influence of the Holy Ghost-these centres of spiritual life and light were kindled not only in Palestine, not only in Asia, not only in Italy, but in Spain also, in Britain, in India, in China, and in whatever countries were then the uttermost parts of the earth. And so it has been ever since, and is now, with varying fluctuations according to the faith and obedience of those to
whose instrumentality the extension of the gospel has been committed.
Ye captains of a heavenly host;
Ye princes of a heavenly hall-
And judges at its funeral;
With tidings of eternal youth;
Emerging with the lamp of truth.
No rebel host with steel to tame,
Nought but the lowly cross of shame.
The world's long stern captivity;
Whose yoke alone is liberty.
By God's mysterious presence led;
Like morn upon the mountain spread!
All glory be, as was of old,
His saving glory to behold.*
* A hymn of the Ancient Church.
WHAT THE CHURCH ACCOMPLISHED OF OLD, AND IS
STILL ABLE TO PERFORM. The church, as the pillar and ground of truth, is therefore the visible embodiment of God's will to a world, lying in wickedness, rebellion, and guilt. It is the standard of the cross planted on Immanuel's ground; on that territory which has been purchased and watered by his precious blood. It is the unfurling of his banner; the rallying point of his soldiers; the centre of operations in whatever territory of the kingdom of darkness it exists. And for the fulfilment of this mission, it is the power of God, mighty to the pulling down of the strongholds of sin and Satan. The church is to the world what Israel was to the surrounding kingdoms. To it were given the oracles and ordinances of God. In it were found the tabernacle, and the sanctuary, and the altar, and the ark of the testimony, and the Shek. inah, and the pillar of cloud and fire. Around these were gathered, in their tents and tribes, the chosen people. With that people these signs of heaven abode, and
when by God's order these signs of his presence, these pledges of his power were moved, then also Israel moved. With these evidences of God's presence and power around them, Israel fought and conquered until the whole promised land was subdued, allotted, and inhabited, and God's throne was established on Mount Zion. The centre of God's Jewish Zion was, therefore, originally in Egypt, afterwards at the Red Sea, again in the wilderness, in Edom, and in Canaan. But every where that Zion and the people who composed it were the same, and their ultimate end and purpose the same, and their mode of accomplishing that end was the same.
Now what Zion did for Israel, it has accomplished every where, and at all times, and for every nation. It lifted them up from the depth of degradation and depravity. It enlightened, elevated, and refined them. It multiplied them as the stars of heaven. It made them courageous, patriotic, and victorious. It stimulated them to industry and healthy activity. It encouraged commerce