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III,

John the Baptist, offered incense in the LECT. temple, there came a voice from heaven which assured him that his prayers were beard. As these things have been confidered more at large in the 4th and 5th Lectures on the figurative language of the Scripture, it may suffice to observe, that as Jesus Christ is called the minister of the true tabernacle, all the services of the old tabernacle are verified under his priesthood; so that not one jot or tittle of the law is found to fail,

The Church has also been remarkably conformable to itself in its sufferings. There never was a time, fu far as we can learn, when the true Church of God, with its doctrines and institutions was not hated and opposed by the world; either persecuted and oppressed by powerful tyrants, or traduced and insulted by lying historians. From Abel downwards, a restless worldly spirit of unbelief has contradicted the worship of the true God, and troubled his people. The Hebrews were held in abomination by the Egyptians, and treated Cc 2

as

III.

LECT. as slaves; though the nation had been faved

from famine, and its policy reformed and established under an Hebrew. They plote ted to extirpate the whole race of them, by casting every man-child into the river. When the Church was settled in Canaan, all the neighbouring nations of idolaters were as thorns in their fides, detesting their religion, and fighting against them at every opportunity. The Chaldæans led them into captivity, and detained them for seventy years, with a view to make them forget their religion ; the practice of which they alfo endeavoured to render impoffible by the demolition of their temple. Antiochus murdered the Maccabees, and harassed the whole people on account of their faith.

The fame spirit, acting on the fame principles, afflicted the Chriftian Church with ten bloody persecutions; and there never was a time when it was not misrepresented by lying reports and malicious accusations. Truth and godliness have always been distinguished by the world's

ill-will

III.

ill-will towards them; and if there be LECT. any particular Church now, which is hated and railed at more than the rest, by Papists on one side and the Sectaries on the other, I will venture to pronounce from this circumstance only, that wherever that Church can be found, it will prove to be, in its do&trine and profeffion, the purest church of Christ upon carth.

The authority and discipline of the Church (which are the last things I shall speak of) have been the same in all ages by God's appointment; as being founded on two reasons which are of perpetual obligation. The Church having the charge of the divine oracles, and being the guardian of the divine law, must have authority to preserve it, by punishing those who offend against it; and being a fociety or body corporate, must always have had (what is common to all lawful societies) a right of preserving itself by a power over its own members.

The authority of office in the Church
Cc3

always

III.

LECT. always was, and now is, from God himLa felf: no man can take the honour of the

priesthood, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron: and the person so invested is accountable to God for the exercise of his authority, and not to the world; because the object in view is the preservation of God's law for the salvation of his people. Therefore, every transgression and disobedience received a just recompence of reward *, and, be that despised Moses's law died without merry under two or three witnesses t. The fame power (mutatis mutandis) was with the Christain Church ; and they are commanded by the apostle to watch over their members, and look diligently, left any man fail of the grace of God; left any root of bitterness Springing up, trouble them, and thereby many be defiled I. No society can long survive, when its dicipline is lost; because the manners of men, when unrestrained, tend universally to diffolution. The Church has undoubtedly, as it always had, a divine right to preserve the faith, to punish its own members by censures, deprivations,

* Heb. ii, 2. + Ch. x. 28. Ch. xii, 15:

and :

and excommunications; and exercise such LECT. discipline as is necessary to prevent the way gates of hell from prevailing against it.

III.

When we consider the degeneracy of the times, and the corruption of all orders of people; the insolence of offenders, and the weakness of authority; it should not make us fretful and disobedient; it should only dispose us to pray for that blessed day, when the Church of Christ shall be restored to its purity against the corruptions, and to its authority against the encroachments of the world; when he, who drove the buyers and sellers out of his temple, shall again purge his Church of those that difgrace and defile it; when they who have despised and oppressed it, as if it had been made for them to trample upun, shall themselves lick the dust with their teeth broken,

I have taken much pains to explain the matter of this Epistle to the Hebrews, because it connects the Old and New Testament, and gives light to both. It Cc4

rectifies

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