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“ that love thee." In the general prosperity of Christ's mystical body the church the particular prosperity of every individual member is included. It is so in the body natural. General convalescence conduces to the comfort and vigour of the several parts and members. A concern for the prosperity of Zion is a proof of grace in the heart. Of that gracious concern fervent supplication is one satisfactory evidence. And while grace communicated is thus brought into exercise, it will be increased by fresh streams from its fountain, and by promised consolation from “ the God of all grace.”
The devout aspiration of a pious mind for the prosperity of Jerusalem is added. “ Peace be “ within thy walls, and plenteousness within " thy palaces.” Come, O thou Divine Spirit, and breathe on thy church. Fill it with holy and heavenly dispositions. Deliver it from “ false doctrine, heresy and schism.” Make its members to be of one mind in the house of their God, « endeavouring to keep the unity of the * Spirit in the bond of peace." And Oh, defend it from all its enemies without. Be thou “a “ wall of fire round about her, and the glory in " the midst of her.” Let a “ plenteousness” of all spiritual blessings be found in all « her ♡ palaces,” the palaces of her King, where His name is recorded and His presence promised. There may “ a feast of fat things, of fat things ® full of marrow-a feast of wines, of wines on “ the lees well refined"-be continually provided by her Lord, dispensed by her ministers, and enjoyed by her members.
In the eighth and ninth verses the holy Psalmist states the motives which excited in him that solicitude which he had expressed on behalf of
the church of God. “ For my brethren and “ companions' sakes I will now say, Peace be “ within thee. Because of the house of the “ Lord our God I will seek thy good.” His motive was twofold, corresponding with the twofold requisition of the law--the love of his brethren, and the love of God. This motive is still in force within every pious heart.
The reader will already have perceived the correspondence which prevails between the deyout Psalmist's prayer, and the collect of our church which is now under our notice. We obey the exhortation to “ pray for the peace of “ Jerusalem,” while we lift up our hearts and voices, saying, “ Grant, O Lord, we beseech “ thee, that the course of this world may be so “ peaceably ordered by thy governance, that " thy church may joyfully serve thee in all “ Godly quietness, through Jesus Christ our « Lord.”
Our collect consists of a prayer, and a declaration of the end for which it is offered. We pray « that the course of this world may be os peaceably ordered by God's governance.”
That the course of this world is most awfully disordered and deranged, is beyond a doubt. We speak not of natural disorder, either in the macrocosm or the microcosm, though this also is evident and an effect of the same cause. But we refer to moral disorder, and especially as it affects the comfort and welfare of society. The wars and tumults, the public law-suits and do. mestic feuds, which make up the history of the world, of particular nations, and of private families, afford full proof of our position. Almost every profession and every trade bears its testimony, directly or indirectly, to the disordered state of the world. Law, Physic, and Divinity, the army and navy, and a thousand branches of manufacture, trade and commerce, will give evidence that the world' is not what it must have been when it came from the hands of its benevolent Former. Whither can we direct our eyes without meeting proofs that sin is entered into the world? Its present state is frequently compared in Scripture to the wild ocean when it is lashed into tumult and confusion by a violent storm. The ancient church thus expressed her feelings on the subject: “The “ floods have lifted up, O Lord; the floods have “ lifted up their voice; the floods lift up their “ waves.” (Ps. xciii. 3.) And she represents God (Ps. Ixv. 7) as “ stilling the noise of the “ seas, the noise of their waves, and the mad“ ness of the people.”
The cause of this confusion must be co-extensive with the effect. And there is bát one which Gan be proposed with the appearance of probabílity-viz. the universal corruption of human pature derived with our being by descent from our fallen parents.
It is evident that nothing but the overruling providence of God could keep society in any kind of tranquillity, or preserve mankind from being the mutual executioners of each other, till the whole world became one vast Aceldama or field of blood, and its now populous plains were again abandoned to their original tenants, the wild beasts of the field. It is humiliating to observe that man is compared in Scripture to almost every species of noxious and ferocious animals. The venomous serpent and viper, the ravenous
wolf, the wild ass of the wilderness, the wild boar of the wood, the wild bull, the leopard, the lion, the asp and the cockatrice; these are the emblems of fallen man when destitute of converting or restraining grace, which the pen of inspiration has employed.* The character, of mankind is also plainly delineated by St. Paul. (Rom. i. 29–31.) They are described, when given over by God to a reprobate mind, as “ being filled with all unrighteousness, fornica. « tion, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; “ full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malig. “ nity; whisperers, backbiters, haters of God; “despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil “ things, disobedient to parents, without under. os standing, covenant-breakers, without natural " affection, implacable, unmerciful.” (See also 2 Tim. iii. 2, 3, 4.) Such was the state of the heathen world when the Gospel was first puba lished in it. And such is its state now wherever the Gospel is not preached. Is a difference apparent in Christendom? That difference is, clearly, the result, not of nature, but of grace of restraining, if not of converting grace. Let any one observe the proud, envious, wrathful, malicious, selfish, and covetous dispositions of the human breast, as they are made apparent by their effects even in civilized society, and among those who are called Christians; and he will soon be convinced that, if men were unre.. strained by human laws, they would prey on each other with all the ferociousness of brute beasts. The African slave-trade, and the blood which European nations have shed both in the
* Mati. iii. 7. x, 16. xxiii. 33. 13. ls. xi. 6-9.
Jer. ii. 24.
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eastern and western hemispheres, afford a melancholy evidence of what man would do under the influence of his own infernal passions. « The " wicked are like the troubled sea when it can• not rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt.”
God permits the moral evil which exists and abounds in the world for wise and gracious purposes, which it is in vain for us to scrutinize. His “ judgments are unsearchable, and His “ ways past finding out.” We know, however, that God will at length bring glory to His own great name out of all the evil that now prevails. « Clouds and darkness are now round about “ Him; but equity and judgment are the habi“ tation of His throne.”
In the midst of the apparent confusion that prevails, God still rules the world which He hath made. “ The Lord on high is mightier “ than the voice of many waters, yea than the “ mighty waves of the sea.” “ He ruleth the “ raging of the sea; when the waves thereof " arise, He stilleth them.” “ He sitteth above “ the water-floods, and remaineth a king for " ever.” He is not an unconcerned spectator of the conduct of His creatures; but He is the “ King of all kings, and Governor of all " things.” He carries on His own gracious purposes, notwithstanding the opposition which is made to them by earth and hell. And when “ the manifold wisdom” * of God, employed in the curious involutions of His providence, is unfolded and exposed to the view of the blessed in the kingdom of God, everlasting wonder, love, and praise will occupy their transported bosoms and employ their raptured tongues.
* TOM.VT054120s popia. Eph. iii. 10.