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the name of God. It is said in the 6th to the 8th verse,
Wherewith shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before the high God? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves of a year old ? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil ? Shall I give my first born for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He hath showed thee Oman what is good, and what doth the Lord require of thee; but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly before thy God ?” They did not yield these fruits of the vineyard. They did not do justice, or love mercy, or walk in humility, and therefore ten thousand rivers of oil could not heal the wound of the daughter of Judah's people.
The last of these prophets speaks with the same voice of solemn warning. Malachi says, “ Behold the day cometh that shall burn as an oven, and all the proud, yea and all that do wickedly shall be stubble, and the day that cometh shall burn them up saith the Lord of Hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch.” And in the 4th verse, “ remember ye the law of Moses my servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments, Behold I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord. And he shall turn the heart of the fathers' to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers' lest I come and smite the earth with a curse."
Let us examine human history therefore as written not by the hand of erring man, but by the unerring hand of God's inspiration, and we shall find frailty, deficiency, and sin marking the whole course of the appointed church
of God. Both prophet and priest were profane, and their wickedness was found in God's holy house. The prophets were sent to warn them, and to demand from them the fruits of the vineyard, and behold the result, beating some, killing others, stoning some, and lastly crucifying his own Son. When the Son of God stood amongst them and demanded from them the same fruits ; when he spoke to the covetous, they derided him, and to the selfrighteous, they rejected him, and to the priesthood, they crucified him, they cast out his name as evil, therefore Christ said unto them in the 23rd chap. of Matthew, and the 23rd verse, “Woe unto you Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint, and anise, and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy and faith. These ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone." Here then was what God demanded of them, and what men refused to give. And what did God do to them? “He hath broken down her hedges, so that all they which pass by the way do pluck her, so that the boar out of the wood doth waste her, and the wild beast of the field doth devour it.” A desolate house, a scattered people, a ruined land, these were the terrible thunders of God's judgment telling us what he was to do to the rulers of his people, to the covenant breaking people of Israel.
II. Now brethren let us inquire how far those words are applicable to us.
“ The Kingdom of God shall be taken from you and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.” That is only partially applicable to the Gentile churches. It is, however, in part spoken to us; for we learn from the Ilth chap. of the Epistle to the Romans that we now occupy the place and standing of the Jewish people. It is there said in the 17th
Our text says,
verse, “ If some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert graffed in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree: boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee." We are therefore grafted into the stock out of which they as a branch were broken off. We are put into their place, and we occupy their standing before God. This is the continual parallelism drawn in the New Testament between the Gentile church and Judaism of old. In the 10th chap. of the 1st Epistle to the Corinthians and the 11th verse, the apostle says, “ Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples, and they are written for our admonition upon whom the ends of the world are come.” A very admonitory prophet among the christian prophets, the apostle Jude, reminds us of the same thing, that we occupy the same sort of privileges, and the same standing before God: he says in the 5th verse, “I will therefore put you in remembrance though ye once knew this, how that the Lord having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterwards destroyed them that believed not." We
then the same position before God which the Jew of old did, the same sort of Kingdom of God which in the days of our blessed Saviour the Scribes and the Pharisees, and the Jewish Priesthood had. If they had a Jewish Priesthood we have a Christian Priesthood. If they had a house in which the name of God was worshipped, we have the same. If the oracles of God were committed to them, the oracles of God are now committed to us. If they had circumcision, we have baptism. If they had the passover, we have the Lord's supper. If they had the outpouring of the Spirit, we have a larger measure of
If they had a holy of holies on earth, we have a holy of holies in heaven. If to them the gospel was preached, the apostle says to us, let us therefore fear lest a promise being left us of entering into his rest any of you should seem to come short of it. We therefore brethren, occupy the standing which the Jew of old did before God. We have the same privileges and higher gifts. We have the same responsibility, and a more dangerous one in proportion to the greatness, the greater largeness of its blessings.
If there was one doctrine more than another, which one could have supposed would never have entered into the heart of any one with the bible in his hand, it is that fearful doctrine of the infallibility of the church. That men, that any body of men, could, with all the solemn warnings that are found in the New Testament, be found to dare to stand forward and talk of the infallibility of the church of Christ, is one of the most marvellous examples of the delusion of Satan which the church of Christ has exhibited : for if there be warnings in the Old Testament there are precisely the same warnings in the new; if there are predictions in the Old Testament of the ruin of the Jewish church, because she crucified the Lord of Glory, there are precisely the same predictions in the New Testament of the ruin of the Gentile church. If we turn again to the 11th chap. of Romans and the 20th to the 22nd verse, we find the apostle saying, “ Because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not high minded but fear; for if God spare not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee. Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell severity, but toward thee goodness if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou
also shalt be out off.” How can men dare to speak of the infallibility of the Gentile church when we have such a warning as this? “If thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.” But what is here given us as a warning is in the continuance of the chapter delivered as a prediction, "For God hath concluded them all in unbelief that he might have mercy upon all." hath concluded them all in unbelief.” Every dispensation of God that has yet been in the world has ended in the unbelief of man. Adam stood in his original righteousness, and there he failed, and thence he fell. The world stood in its probationary state from Adam to Noah, and it became a Christ-rejecting and a destroyed world. The Gentile patriarchal church from Noah, through Melchisedec to Abraham's day were favoured by God with prophets, but that church universally corrupted itself into idolatry. Israel from Abraham to Moses were kept in the promised land as sojourners, or cradled in Egypt, and yet they fell into idolatry, and rejected God. In the wilderness they were, with Moses, a gainsaying people. From Joshua to the prophets, we find them continually corrupting the truth. They were disobedient to the word of their Lord until Nebuchadnezzar desolated their temple and scattered the people. A feeble remnant was restored, and what does it do? Forgetting all the glory that had been amongst them, and not knowing the voices of the prophets, nor the signs of the times. “ Jesus came unto his own and his own received him not." He hath concluded them all in unbelief.”
And if we look at the history of the Christian Church, what do we find ? For a short time, and but a short time they stood in somewhat of a feeble light, and yet,